What’s In A Name?: The Gargoyle Takes a Challenge

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Hello all! Having run a curious eye over the trials and triumphs of other bloggers, I have decided to submit to a quirky reading challenge in 2013.  Yes indeed folks, I have signed on the dotted line to participate in the “What’s In a Name?” reading challenge over at Beth Fish Reads.

WIN6 Beth Fish Reads reading challenge

The requirements of this challenge are as follows:

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories:

  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Deep down True, The Girl Below, The Diva Digs up the Dirt
  2. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title: Loose Lips Sink Ships, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Breadcrumbs
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Burning for Revenge, Fireworks over Toccoa, Catching Fire
  5. A book with an emotion in the title: Baltimore Blues, Say You’re Sorry, Dreams of Joy
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Book of Lost Fragrances, The World We Found, A Discovery of Witches

The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

Honestly, those categories just beg to be conquered, don’t they?  I’m looking forward to digging up some very devious and creative tomes to meet the criteria.  Suggestions will also be very welcome.

If you would like to join me in this challenge, you have plenty of time to mosey on over to Beth Fish’s place and jump in with both feet.

Until next time,

Bruce

Haiku Review: Never the Bride…

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Good evening sweeties, it is Mad Martha with you once again.  I am very excited about today’s Haiku Review because it centres around a book which centres around a town which is close to my heart.  Today’s review reflects on the work of Paul Magrs, with the opener to his Brenda and Effie series, Never the Bride.  Now, I will admit that I have had an up-and-down relationship with Mr Magrs….it started off quite down until I discovered he wrote for Doctor Who – the television program, not the actual Time Lord – after which he went up in my estimation quite significantly.  Having discovered the Brenda and Effie series, I have to say Mr Magrs and I will probably continue to develop our comraderie for a long time to come.

Never the Bride is a supernatural comic detective story about friendship and enjoying one’s twilight years and working against the demons of hell.  It’s easy pace and immediately likeable main character (who happens to be the Bride of Frankenstein) draw you in and before you know it you are engrossed in the sedately paced adventures of two old spinsters and the various nefarious beings residing in their locale.  The first thing that drew me to this one is the fact that it is set in Whitby – a town that I have visited in my numerous travels.

 MW2  MW3

MW1

Here I am enjoying the sea breeze on the pier (and avoiding the enormous seagulls – honestly, why are they so large?), availing myself of the services of the local laundrette (which is actually mentioned in the story – my little brush with fame!) and enjoying the view from my B&B window….was it close to the B&B that Brenda herself runs? I like to think so!

But on to the Haiku!

never the bride

Ageing She-monster

hunts down hell-spawn in Whitby.

Nothing could go wrong!

So there you have it. For me, Paul Magrs was an acquired taste, but if you enjoy dark comedy and stories that are slightly off-kilter, you may well enjoy his many works.

Toodle-ooooo!

Mad Martha

Read it if…: A Juicy Double Review

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It’s that time again! Today I have a special treat – two reviews for the price of one post.  I believe it suits the festive snowy vibe that has recently come over this blog….actually, the snow is a feeble attempt to hit back at the disgusting heat we are experiencing in my neck of the shelf at the moment. Oh, Summer, why do you torment us so?

But! To business! My first musings centre around an extraordinary and engaging tome, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, by Italo Calvino.  This strange reading experience is certainly like nothing I have ever read and follows the story of you, the Reader, who on picking up a novel – in fact, this very novel! – at the bookstore, find an error in your copy.  The story centres around your attempts to track down a clean copy of the novel, and takes you on a wild goose chase across a wide range of genres.

if on a winters

Read it if:

  • you enjoy books that require you to forget the outside world and focus your attention solely on the world of the text
  • you get excited about thick, complex prose that flows around you like golden syrup over pancakes
  • you don’t mind being deliberately disrupted just when the story gets interesting

This was a very different, interesting reading experience, although I did find it required a large amount of my concentration.  On the plus side, it is definitely a book that can be picked up and put down without fear of losing one’s place, and as such may best suit the reader who has several books on the go at once.

Book number two is a sweet little (literally, little!) tale of a young lad who is a hero in his own lunch hour (or bedtime, as the case may be), The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey.

the-amber-amulet

Read it if:

  • you have ever wanted to don a cape and mask and secretly set the world to rights
  • you have a pet that has ever embarrassed you at a key social moment
  • you’ve ever experienced the guilt of accidentally doing the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing
  • you believe in the healing properties of amber…and friendship

This is a fantastic and short read – I snuck a peek at it while my fleshling owner was busy tending to the youngling’s bath and managed to finish it before they had finished! It’s also beautifully illustrated, which adds an extra touch of luxury to the look of the tome.  This one is definitely worth a look.

Until next time,

Bruce

The Gargoyle’s Gift Guide: For List-makers, Diary-keepers and General Book-wreckers…

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Evenin’ all! Today I present to you some ideas for those most insidious people on your  list…you know the ones…they’ve already finished their Christmas shopping by August at the latest, they’ve printed out all those digital family snaps and arranged them artistically in some sort of scrapbook, and they use words like “reflecting” and “goal setting” and “making dreams a reality”.

And then there’s some suggestions for that other lot – the ones who spill tea on that brand new first edition hardback you bought them for their birthday; the ones who write phone messages in crayon on the wall because they couldn’t find pen and paper, the ones who tear out pages and use them to wrap gifts because it’s more eco-friendly than buying wrapping paper….

Honestly, it makes one shudder to think about it. Yet still, gifts must be exchanged….so I have made your job easy.  You can thank me with appreciative glances and quiet murmurs of praise.

For List-Makers:

Look no further than The A-Z Book of Curious Lists: A Journal for the Impossibliy Imaginative.  This cracker of a book provides fresh fodder for those obsessive little munchkins who cannot make it through a day without making a list.  With a list idea for every occasion, this will keep them so busy that their “To-do” List will remain untouched for days.  Some of my favourites are:

  • Other Names Besides Harold for an Elephant
  • Indecent Attire in Which to Attend the Opera
  • and Unpromising Haiku Beginnings (in response to which, my fleshling owner has written “There once was a man from Nantucket”)

the-a-z-book-of-curious-lists-a-journal-for-the-impossibly-imaginative

For Diary-Keepers:

For a twist on the run-of-the-mill diary experience or for those who are time- and imagination-poor, Q&A a Day: A 5 Year Journal is just the ticket.  This pocket-sized memory-protector provides enough space to write a single answer to a given question five times over, to cover the same date over five consecutive years.  The advantage of this is that you only have to write one sentence a day and you can cheat off last year’s answer if you can’t think of an original one.  My favourite questions from this one so far are:

  • What is your Achille’s Heel?
  • What can you smell right now?
  • and What new word have you learned? (to which my fleshling owner has responded: “Moral turpitude”….which is quite obviously two words, not one.  It really is a wonder I’m not presiding over piles of books that begin with “See Dick Run”…)

qanda a dayFor Book-Wreckers:

For this most difficult group, one cannot go past Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith.

wreck this journal

This licence to spill, mess up and generally destroy is perfect for anyone who wants to break free from the shackles of conformity…and anyone who’s just a bit bored in work-related meetings.  While I am yet to become guardian of this tome on my personal shelf (my fleshling owner obviously being more kindred with the precocious group of list-makers and diary-keepers), I have searched for some examples of work completed in this book to give you an idea of what you may be in for.  Such as this:

bleurgh journal

and this fluffly little gem:

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So once again dear readers, I hope these suggestions aid you in your neverending and ultimately unsatisfying search for that perfect gift.  And if Santa happens to be reading, Mad Martha would love a copy of Wreck this Journal (being a firm encumbent of the book-wrecking population).

Until next time,

Bruce