Today I read a quote that perfectly encapsulates my view of the current UK Government:
This is not a political blog but it seems like the only fitting place to share the quote without inviting toxic debate.
Hyperbole and a Half
This collection of posts and drawings from Brosh's blog is the second funniest thing I've read all year (see Jenny Lawson's biography for that).
It is also occasionally rather profound about the experience of being depressed and other mental health issues.
Highly recommended, especially if you love stories about stupid dogs.
Thief of Time
I came across the dust jacket for this book while hunting for something else in my flat. After reuniting the book with it's jacket I found myself with a notion to read this book again. I've read it before on multiple occasions and I reviewed it in 2005 and 2009.
This is my favourite of the Susan Sto-Helit books for a few reasons but the main one is probably the presence of the Time Monks and in particular Lu Tze the Sweeper.
As with every Discworld book this is a fun read - it's just not as good as the very best work in the series.
If you haven't read any Pratchett before I recommend that you start as soon as possible. Now would be good...
This tale of a spoiled, troubled teenage girl was a very quick read indeed.
The lead character behaves like a cliched teenage brat and her neediness and lack of self awareness makes her very hard to like despite the care the author takes to show that there's more to the character.
Only really recommended if you're looking for a quick blast of YA angst mixed with family stories.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This is the first time I've read this book since I read it in a crazed four hour sprint on the day of it's release.
Obviously since then I've seen the films they made of it a couple of times so I had a decent memory of the plot.
What surprised me with a more leisurely reading is how powerful certain passages of the book were. In particular the entire sequence of Harry facing Voldemort in the forest and of course the chapter inside Snape's memories.
The book also wraps things up in a much more satisfying way than the film. I loved that the only thing Harry uses the Elder Wand for is to repair his own original wand.
Despite the pacing issues (a wee bit too long is spent with the lead trio hiding in the countryside) this is actually one of the strongest books in the whole series. It's certainly a satisfying denouement.
So this wraps up the project of re-reading all the books having seen the films.
Overall my verdict is that the books are better than the films. A couple of the films are downright bad. Even the weakest of the books (Chamber of Secrets, Goblet of Fire) are entertaining where the worst film (Half-Blood Prince) is a total waste of time and talent.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
After the sheer bulk of the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix this entry in the Harry Potter series is a bit of a physical relief. However this is the volume where things to start getting really dark and deaths start to occur ever more frequently.
I've read this book twice before - once when it came out and again just before the release of the final book.
Reading it again knowing the events of the final book improved it in ways I didn't expect. Especially with regard to the cliffhanger near the end. Also it's only with this read that I really started to get Harry and Ginny as a couple that makes sense.
One important thing to note is that this is infinitely better than the film version; which is an incoherent mess and by far the worst of the celluloid series.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I've read this, the fifth Harry Potter book, a couple of times before. I read it when first came out in 2003 and then again in 2007.
I started a re-read of the whole series a couple of years ago but I struggled to get past the first few chapters of The Goblet of Fire. I recently discovered that you could borrow the audio book from Edinburgh's online library service and thanks to Stephen Fry's narration I finally finished it.
The only problem with the audio book was the sheer length of time it took to listen to, so when it came to Order of the Phoenix I just picked up the physical book.
The distinguishing feature of this particular volume is just how much of the plot relies on main characters being stupid and stubborn. I have to say it's always a delight to get to hate on Umbridge again. Her selfish, mundane form of low grade evil is so reminiscent of people I've known over the years.
If you've not read the Harry Potter books before now this review isn't going to prompt you to start but I do recommend the series as a fine read.
The Apocalypse Codex
The latest Laundry book finds Bob Howard on the middle management fast track and in a whole heap of trouble in the United States.
The mashup of Lovecraftian horror and spy thriller still works to excellent effect.
The introduction of a Modesty Blaise style super spy/magician and her ex-soldier colleague gives the series a bit of fresh impetus.
I recommend the whole series wholeheartedly - Stross has a tendency to over egg the darkness that he keeps in check with the Laundry books.
After re-reading Catching Fire it was inevitable that I'd go back and read the final volume of the trilogy again.
When I first read the book I read it so quickly that some of the emotional impact was lost on me.
This time round I really felt moved by all the horrors that the characters go through and in particular I keenly felt Katniss' pain in the scene with Buttercup right at the end of the book.
I know some people are never going to like this kind of dystopian fiction but this is a genuinely powerful book and I think it's well worth giving a shot even if you don't think it's for you.
The Wedding Date
This book was originally called Asking For Trouble but then it got turned into a film called The Wedding Date.
Aside from the fact that both the film and the book feature an older sister hiring an escort to go to her younger sister's wedding the two are entirely different.
It's a quick read, with some enjoyable characters but ultimately it's kind of throwaway.
That isn't a bad thing - I enjoyed the time spent reading it - it just means I doubt I'd ever read it again.
Recommended for fans of romantic comedies and contemporary romance novels.