Month: February 2011

The passage by Justin Cronin

This is one of those books which is huge, enormous and epic and which takes over your life until you have made it through the 900 odd pages.  If you decide to embark on this journey you should be warned that you will achieve absolutely nothing else until it is done.  Housework – on hold, cooking – on hold, contact with friends – on hold, sleep – also on hold.  Gripping, creepy and compelling.  It was a jolly good job that it was school holidays when I was reading this!

Scientists investigating a mysterious illness in South America unwittingly unleash a nightmare virus which ultimately kills most of the world’s population and those that it doesn’t kill are turned into blood thirsty, evil vampirelike creatures.  These are not like vampires you’ve met before, no Twilight romantic notions of hot kids frolicking here.  They devour victims with alarming speed and are menacing and uneasy.  The book doesn’t dwell on them so much as the survivors.  It is the story of Amy, who is the key to everything,  A death row prisoner, one of those affected early and whose telekinetic powers compel others and not in a good way.  There is the FBI agent (my favourite character in the book) who cares for Amy and there are Sarah and her brother, she has recorded the history so that we can read about it.  It is the story of destruction and of people who are kind to each other, even if it might not be a comfortable choice, it is a story of family and love and evil.

This is the first book in what I hear is going to be a trilogy, and I can’t wait for the next one, there will be a movie – of course.  I really enjoyed it, I was gripped almost completely all the way through.  There are a couple of places where I thought we could have moved on a bit more quickly but really, it is an excellent read.  Anybody who liked Under the Dome will hook right into this.  Highly recommended – but put your life on hold while you read it.

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Thinking of Christchurch

A terrible tragedy hit the city of Christchurch today.  At 12.51 a very large earthquake hit the city and has caused massive devastation and loss of life.

People of Christchurch we are all thinking of you, watching the terrible pictures of the horrible event on television and watching it float across Facebook and Twitter and feeling helpless, sad and sorry for you.

You are in our thoughts.

 

A little video treat for Valentines Day

Oh yes all sweetness and sugaryness and stuff.  A doozy of a little French – and therefore of course romantic – video for this day.  Loving the music as well!

I received the most wonderful  tea towel for Valentine’s Day (which I don’t really even believe in)  – I know doesn’t sound romantic but it is.   a) Because I am getting a new kitchen and can therefore only have styley and quirky tea towels from now on and b) I wasn’t expecting any kind of gift.  Those are always the best ones, the bolt from the blue ones that you didn’t see coming!

The thousand autumns of Jacob De Zoet

What a gorgeous cover this book has.  It just begs you to pick it up and get started on it.   I really liked the last book I read by David Mitchell, Black Swan Green but this book couldn’t be more different to that, which was set in Britain on a housing estate in the 1970s.

This one is set in Japan in the Edo era which was in the 1800s, all the way through you get the years in the Japanese system as well as the European.  Dutchman Jacob De Zoet is working as a clerk for The Dutch East India Trading Company with stations all through Asia.  The foreigners were not permitted onto the mainland of Japan, they live and work behind fortifications on an island just offshore called Dijima.  Jacob is betrothed and is earning money to prove himself a worthy husband and endeavoring to impress the father of his fiance.  His is not an easy lot, he is lost and lonely and bullied by the older rougher and dishonest hands on the job.  Jacob is not the world’s most go getting kind of guy, but he is earnest and honest, kind to his servants and translators.

This is really a love story.  The love of Jacob and Orito the badly scarred student of medicine, but the course of true love never runs smoothly and these two are tormented indeed, there is no way that Jacob can have a marriage with a Japanese girl, and neither of them are available anyway.

There are some truly wonderful scenes in this book and you can see them playing out in your mind as you read.  There are colourful and eccentric characters influencing the path of Jacob and an air of the sinister is all pervading at times.  This is not an easy read.  It is a huge book and you have to work hard at it, no quick read this one.  I loved the structure of the book, the chapter headings, the timelines and the drawings and maps.  I didn’t like being caught up for so long in Jacob’s head, I really plodded though some of the details in parts, getting a bit bogged down in parts and skipping ahead, and yet other parts, particularly Orito’s time in the nunnery in the mountains were gripping and exciting.

Anybody interested in Japanese history will enjoy the book, the historically accurate dates and details of the trading are interesting.  I’m really glad I made the effort.  David Mitchell is a stunning writer with lots of clever ways so be prepared to spend a good deal of time with the at times vastly irritating Jacob and the very cool and gutsy Aibagawa Orito.  You will be dazzled by the fabulous writing but maybe a little overwhelmed at times with the details.

Here is a question and answer with the author David Mitchell – he is cool.  And if you want one just about this book then you should go to here.

In the meantime … Enjoy Dot!

I am currently getting a new kitchen.  My house is in disarray, it will be wonderful when it is finished but at the moment it is a bit of a wilderness in here.  In the meantime I think you should watch Dot.  This is a very cool video by Nokia shot with a microscope camera.  Details on the YouTube site.  I love all the details in this and think it most clever and entertaining.