Friday, August 28, 2015

5 Ways to Carry a Goat

5 ways to carry a goat by Ben Groundwater
The title was what won me on this one - any goat is ok by me, and when it said on the blurb ' the tale of a blogger who travelled the world, sleeping on couches offered by his readers' I figured it'd be worth a read. It was - it started slowly with Korea and Ben admitted that there really wasn't much insight available crashing with Aussie expats, in expat bars, drinking Australian beer. It got better, nad Ben admitted some edginess when he met some of the hosts and wondered about their lives and motivations beyond the obvious. He acknowledged that the single women who asked him to stay left him with some unresolved questions about what, really, he was getting himself into - -or I suppose, what they were. I'm glad he addressed it as it is always a part of the reader's awareness and we do wonder what is going on behind the scenes. Later in the book he points out that this early concern disappeared completely after the nth visit. Ethiopia nad Bangladesh were interesting and unlike any picture of third world life I'd run across before. The boys hoping for a sponsor left me moved, and I respect Ben's admission that he felt it, but didn't act on it - the level of selfawareness and honesty was good.
As the travels went on things got bot more and less interesting. The modern European cities - were more and more about the people. The feeling of homesickness by Canada was palpable, so again I respect Ben's honesty. It would have been tempting to rewrite things to make Ben superman and superfunny. I'm glad he didn't, it was a fun read and it reminded me of my own travel stories - didn't go up Everest, but did go to interesting places and pushed my own comfort zone.
And I did go to the website and look at the pictures from the trip - a good idea from a publishing point of view as plates presumably are expensive...

It turns out the EVE universe is a big online thing which I haven't checked out. It feels reading the book that there is a backstory, and it felt as though through the middle of the book that perhaps it had had some significant editing and some of the edges hadn't been joined up completely, but that could have been me. I'll have a look for others in the series, in the end it's a bit like the big ebook Space Opera stories, a bit overblown but a story about people rather than spacetech. Not as grand as Ian M Banks or as aggressive as Peter Hamilton...
This was great - myth, comedy, farce, classic Gaiman if there is such a thing, along with deleted chapters, comments from the author and the whole nine yards. Read it fast and enjoyed the whole thing. Magical realism? I guess so. The writing is fun, and the character development where Fat Charlie morphs into the self he ought to have been (but wasn't possibly because of the way the cool part of him was split away when he was young by the Voodoo aunty)reminds me of the character development in The Shipping News where Quoyle becomes part of the community and his growth is reflected in the prose and text.
I'll read Neil often - he's got the chops afterall. Did I review Stardust here? Read that earlier this year. It was good too, in the way The Princess Bride is.

I'd read the sequel of course, about Kit and Ossie when they were in Malta. This book sets up the Battle of France and has some great flying and fighting sequences. It also has Hannah and Bebe and frankly their section went on about twice as long as I think it should have. The book is primarily a war story and the other thread is relevant but I was bored in the end. It's brutal and pulls no punches in the war and fighting scenes and moves as fast as you'd expect, so the slow pace of the contrasting story arc feels like it takes forever.. Good to complete the set but will skim the dull capters if I re-read.

Another good maths book, follows on from the Alex in Numberland with deeper exploration of some good maths ideas and concepts. Alex writes well and clearly and explains concepts well, diving into appendices if the derivations look like they'll detract from the story. Good for a repeat read. Great stories about the usual topics, plus the Game of Life. Some good stuff on imaginary numbers too - that was a very good chapter for me.

Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos: The pictures are out of order, but this is the book I read first - and really enjoyed. As above, Alex writes clearly and well, keeps you interested, and tells the good stories about number theory and history with the kind of storytelling I used to do. Very enjoyable and would dip in again to remind me. Certainly would read any other books by Alex.

Hey ho, another ebook series. I got into them, and ended up with three. Will probably carry on as the books aren't bad, although the 'enforcer' aspect of Jack's life gets increasingly taken over by the rakoshi monsters and the supernatural. And it's not what I usually read, so I'm struggling to decide. Jack is a good enigmatic and reasonably well drawn character, although he seems to go through the same issues with his Dad, his girlfriend and her daughter. He's a loner in the Reacher mould, and a fixer, so I guess I was expecting a Reacher type story. In many ways they are, but the supernatural does set it apart. Read the first one, and decide.
Whether I want to dig into the parallel 'Adversary' series I can't say...but if I do looking for a new series, I would be doing ok, the author is ok by me.

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