Just Muggles No Wizards

This post is about a book that I have not read, will read but don’t know if I’m ready yet.

It is “The Casual Vacancy” by J. K. Rowling her first adult novel.

I love Harry Potter and would rush out to get the new one the day it came out and start reading it right away.  Now though it’s a novel for adults. It’s set in a small English village. It’s all about muggles who don’t even know about “He who should not be named….”, they probably don’t even use owl’s for their mail. I have such a fondness for Harry Potter that I don’t know if I want to potentially taint that with the new novel. It’s getting very mixed reviews and while from those reviews I think I can discern that if it wasn’t J. K. Rowling then the reviews would probably be a bit better as the expectations may not be so great.

This is a new area for her. I was thinking of how different this is to when I was younger and was shocked to find out that Judy Blume had adult books and could wait to get my hands on one. OMG at thirteen or fourteen I was not ready for the first few pages of “Wifey”.  Yep still remember it etched in my mind forever, which was incidentally the Judy Blume adult book I probably should have started with, broken my naïve little self in slowly.

Now I wonder what impression the adult book from J. K. will have. The problem is because I love Harry there is already emotion tied to it, an expectation of wanting to love it. I don’t want to be disappointed and I know that it’s not fair to J. K. to compare but how can I help it?

It’s there I have it on my kindle (it’s not Harry why buy the hard cover?), I am thinking of saving it perhaps for Christmas when I will be in Hawaii. If I’m in paradise then everything will be good, won’t it? Even the first adult novel by J. K. Rowling?

Pulp Fiction – Jim Thompson

Any Jim Thompson is worth a read. Some are better than others but this is pulp fiction.

The characters are dark, gritty, often beyond redemption, selfish motives, there are no happy endings in Jim Thompsons world. His characters are greedy, self-involved, lying, cheating scoundrels and often killers to boot.

Just the titles are awesome “The Killer Inside Me”, “The Grifters”, “A Hell of a Woman”, “A Swell Looking Babe”, if you like dark novels, he’s your guy.  Lou Ford from “The Killer Inside Me” is one of the scariest, if not the scariest character I’ve ever encountered. Just like watching too much true crime shows reading Jim Thompson can make you question the people around you.

Plus the books look great on a book-shelf!

Your Voice In My Head

This is my favourite book from last year.

It was written by Emma Forrest for her psychiatrist Dr. R who passed away.

It is a story of mental illness, finding yourself, falling in love, falling apart and piecing yourself back together. Of course what initially drew me to it was hearing that she had written about her boyfriend that she called her “Gypsy Husband”. It’s never been confirmed but it’s totally Colin Farrell. I’m nosey and curious so of course I wanted to read all about this relationship. As it turns out this is a very small part of the story. It’s about so much more. I’ve read it several times and each time I can see more and more of the relationship and the impact Dr. R had on her. Did he save her? I don’t know he certainly helped her find her way.

They are now turning it into a movie and I really hope they don’t f*ck up the casting.

Worst Date Ever

Oh you think you’ve had bad dates? Try pretending to be a serious journalist to capture the heart of the glorious peace keeper, setting a date to meet in Uganda and then he doesn’t show up. That happened to Jane Bussman. A comedy  writer, celebrity interviewer and suddenly news journalist?

While being very insightful and providing a lot of information about the war in Uganda and also Joseph Kony it is still a funny read. Really. It begins with her life interviewing celebrities, which after reading this you’ll never read a celebrity interview the same way again. Then she meets an attractive peace keeper and devises a plan to meet up with him in Uganda as a serious journalist.

He doesn’t show but she stays and actually does the research and poking around ending up with a very compelling expose on what is happening, only nobody wants the story.

It’s well worth reading as part expose on war, part behind the scenes to celebrity interviews, part real life Bridget Jones.

Mario Vargas Llosa

I discovered Mario Vargas Llosa when I travelled to Peru.

He is a Peruvian writer and his novels are wonderful, his prose is beautiful. I started with “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter”:

I mean a novel about a young writer, having an affair with his older Aunt, wandering the streets of Lima? Count me in. I love the books because I can picture many of the places he talks about, his characters are honest, this is a young man just starting to find his way, writing scripts for a radio show and falling in love with an older woman. The book is quite a journey and one well worth taking Mario Vargas Llosa is a wonderful story teller.

Another one I loved is “The Bad Girl”, Mario seems to like his bad women. This time a young student falls in love with a woman he can never have. This tale follows them over the course of their lives. Timeless tale really and throw in Cuba and a revolution, move everybody to Paris and you again have a wonderful heartfelt story.

His novels have a wonderful rhythm that is so easy to get caught up in.

A Demon Who Loves Jelly Beans!

Nurd is the demon who loves jelly beans and he is a character in both The Gates and The Infernals books written by John Connolly a writer from Dublin who perhaps was drinking Guinness while he was writing these?

It starts with Samuel Johnson and his daschund Boswell witnessing the portal to the underworld being opened and his neighbor Mrs. Abernathy being taken over by a creature from the underworld. This the story of how Samuel fights back and saves the world, with the help of his friends, his daschund and a demon named Nurd (who likes jelly beans and is my favourite character).

Then the Infernal s is the other way, Samuel and Boswell are sucked into the underworld and then must find their way back. This one has beer drinking rude elves, Nurd returns, there is an ice-cream truck, what more could you want? With a host of returning characters and some great new ones it’s a very good sequel and I’m hoping there will be more.

The books are funny, heartfelt and well worth reading.

Chipp Kidd

Chip Kidd is a God in the graphic arts field. His book designs are some of the most creative and well known. Really Google him, he’s really interesting.

Then Chip wrote a book called “The Cheese Monkey’s”. It is semi-autobiographical and tells the story of a young man, going to college and finding his way into a commercial art class. There is a lot in it about graphic design but the story it self is really good. Of course he himself being a misfit, he meets a misfit girl to hang out with. The coming of age story told again but in a wonderful honest, funny way.

The book itself is also a work of art. Chip designed it, chose the font and the layout. Just google it, it’s really rather fascinating.

Then Chip Kidd wrote a second novel, “The Learners” which is a continuation of “The Cheese Monkey’s”. This takes us into the world of a small advertising firm and the in’s and outs of advertising. It is also really good. Both very easy reads.

Russell H. Greenan

It Happened In Boston by Russell H. Greenan is a book that was recommended by Pages in Kensington.

It wasn’t what I expected, not sure what I expected. It’s the story of an artist and has twists and turns in the plot. It has one of the most heartbreaking scenes in it (I won’t tell you, wouldn’t want to spoil the story). Oh it is a great book, I think I actually hugged it when I finished it the first time.

It has a lot of information about art and the creative process but is about so much more.