My Top Five Native Americans

1. The bass player from the Chesney Hawke’s hit ‘I am the One and Only’

2. The guy from The Village People Continue reading “My Top Five Native Americans”

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The Histories – Herodotus

“the purpose is to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important and remarkable achievements produced by Greeks and non-Greeks”

Whether this is a really good translation, or Herodotus’ style is just that easy to get into doesn’t really matter, the main thing is the readability of the fascinating history he composed.

The Histories is essentially the story of how a bunch of disparate Greek states came together in a barely united way and coalesced together to stop the might of the Persian army.  This in itself would be an epic story but we are also treated to an in depth look around the peoples, geography, geology and ethnography of the Mediterranean as well as the known Africa and Asia of the time.

Straight from page one, you get launched into an alleged kidnapping and from then on it’s all history as they say. The names of people and places are thrown around willy nilly but not in a way that will cause confusion. It’s all neatly done in fact and is a lot less confusing than expected.

There are a lot of maps in the back, detailing everywhere from modern day Russia in the North to Ethiopia in the South, (and for fans of East and West, there is India, Spain and everything else in between) to orient yourself with all the places if needs be.

The whole book is a magnificent treasure trove of stories and a view of the world when things were mysterious and unexplained.  Fun is perhaps not the right word to use but the stories of gold digging ants as big as foxes and the way the Persians (pre Cyrus) decide important matters, by first discussing them when drunk, then reviewing what they said sober (or vice versa) and if they still agree with what they said it becomes law, really add colour and constantly delighted me more than most fiction does. Continue reading “The Histories – Herodotus”

Departure to Melancholy

Today I had a good day, I met a friend in Nottingham, planned to see any one of three film’s but missed them all, went to the Disney shop and then the pub, had a strange yet fun meal, a few drinks and a long chat. Followed by the inevitable dash for the last scheduled train for Lauren and then the usual yoyoing around the platforms for me as each screen was telling me a different departure platform. I Finally got on the train and then I was aware of the idea for this – whatever it is –  post starting floating around my mind.

The feeling must have sneakily crept up on me as I watched Lauren’s train leaving. I watched it go all the way until the last lights had disappeared out of sight. Then it was, that I was aware of a brooding sense of melancholy. Strange, as I know I’ll be seeing her again soon, and before you all start thinking it, we are just friends, that is all and it works well like that. So there.

Now I like the melancholy feeling I felt, strange as it is to say, it’s a pleasurable melancholy I suppose, something brought on by no definable reason and is good to wallow in now and again. It’s more than just the finality of the evening over, the sense of knowing I won’t be seeing a good friend for a while. And I daresay i’d feel the same with any of my close female friends (you know who you are).  It’s more that sense of the city slowing down and closing up, everyone abandoning it for a night in with friends and family that affects me. Continue reading “Departure to Melancholy”

The Man Every Woman Wants – Miranda Lee

 ‘Ryan knew if he did any such thing, he’s have a world of trouble on his hands faster than a world class striker could score a goal – amazingly fast’

In an ideal world, that quote would be all you needed to make a decision on if you truly wanted to read something of this nature. Sadly it’s not an ideal world and I have a little bit more to say on the matter…

First of all, this is not my usual reading material but as my good friend Kirsty purchased it for me as a ‘humourous’ christmas present, I, naturally out of sheer politeness decided to make the time and immerse myself into what could be a hitherto undiscovered genre of fantastic literature for me to explore.

Mills and Boon have been knocking about since 1908 and are written for ladies of a certain age, who want escapist fiction to brighten their day. I suspect Kirsty bought the book for me just to wind me up, unless I really give off that bored middle aged woman vibe.

The cover shows the Sydney skyline and a man who seems to have a nasty itch on his neck. Also there is the offer (bribe to buy the book) of a chance to win £5,000. The about the author bit tells us the author likes to create “stories that are believable, modern, fast paced and sexy” her interests include gambling amongst others. Continue reading “The Man Every Woman Wants – Miranda Lee”

Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L James

Everyone’s going on about how great it is blah blah blah, and i was lent the book to pass judgement on sadly, I had to read it to give it a fair crack of the whip (snigger) before I passed judgement.

You all know the plot by now so I need not go into it, the whole BDSM thing is of course the main selling point of the book, as if it’s something new and sensational like Madame Bovary etc but they were sensational for a reason, these days it’s nothing new, just another novelty beach read.

“Romantic, liberating and totally addictive, this is a novel that will obsess you, possess you and stay with you forever”

the back cover lies to me. After reading the first few pages, it was clear it was going to be another one of those poorly written books which bring nothing to the literary world. What finally destroyed any credibility the book could have had was the following exchange:

“I assume you’re not on the pill?”

“I don’t think so”

The main female character (the heroine, can that really be the right term?) the intelligent student of literature and her penchant for British classics doesn’t even know that? And we are expected to invest time in Continue reading “Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L James”

Pride of Baghdad – Brian K Vaughn

‘In April 2003, a pride of starving lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during the American bombing of Iraq’

Mooching through the graphic novel section, this excitingly orange cover caught my eye and attracted me to this particular true story.

Following the lions on their quest for escape and safety, we find them meeting other animals and reading some fairly clever takes on how humans do things from an animals perspective.

While the art work is bright and detailed the story lacks any sort of emotional punch. The duration of the story is too short to develop characters or more importantly the sense of a war not understood by animals. The book is fairly thick having said but the art does take precedence over storyline.

What we do get is a pretty shallow, short story which tends to be a bit to preachy about the environment and attitudes towards animals. All very noble but overdone for such a small work, Continue reading “Pride of Baghdad – Brian K Vaughn”

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets – David Simon

The Wire is perhaps the best show ever to grace the small screen, Gritty, realistic, a no holds barred look at the different facets of Baltimore, from the drugs trade, the school system through to internal machinations of the police force and newspapers, amongst others.

This accompanying tome is an absolutely compelling beast of a book. David Simon creator of The Wire narrates his journalistic account of life in Baltimore’s homicide department (which would later provided the basis for his excellent (and aforementioned) TV show) in grim and sometimes harrowing detail.

Amongst some fascinating and often senseless stories, my highlights would have to be stories of the jury,  Geraldine the life insurance woman and Latonya Wallace. However to go into any detail of these stories would perhaps be unfair to anyone who is willing to engage in one of the finest sociopolitical books of the last century in any genre.

That is not to say the book is without humour albeit mostly of a gallows nature, but working in a city with almost more murders than days of the year (at the time of writing) will probably do that to you.

Simon spent a whole year with the Homicide department and gradually introduces you to all the detectives, how they think and work and their cases, yet remains detached enough to show you everything in detail without Continue reading “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets – David Simon”