Three Things #9

Bookshelf for ABC Radio 04

Reading Looking Thinking

“Reading” is the first horse out of the stalls with “Doing Time” by pod-travelling author Jodie Taylor.

If you haven’t read the first 22 book series, “The Chronicles of St Mary’s” you are missing a treat.  Dr Lucy “Max” Maxwell and her research team travel through time to historical locations with both hilarious and devastating consequences.

But I digress, because unto Max “When a Child is Born” he is named Matthew and he grows up to become part of the opposition, the dreaded Time Police.  In this new spin-off series, we have long-haired introvert Matthew undergoing his training in Team 236 (or self-dubbed Team Weird) which he shares with two other trainees, handsome Luke Parrish and timid Jane Lockland.  Their dialogue is mostly dry repartee and I wince, thinking it follows the unfortunate trend of TV-ready script writing.

Suitable for YA readers, there is no swearing but there is violence, bullying and a murder followed by some pretty tense moments and a gruelling interrogation.  The interrogation puzzled me.  Surely the Time Police are able to go back in time and see what happened?

Overall, I think the scene-setting is slow and steady and it took me a while to warm up to events.  I didn’t really have a favourite character but the time jump to Ancient Egypt nicely played on my claustrophobia and the Australian rabbit chapter, although not accurate, is hilarious!

I clocked subliminal references to other works from Jasper Fforde, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and some I forgot to write down—maybe they were “erased”.  A strange coincidence with real Sarah Smith, fictional Sarah Smith, and the one from Dr Who.  Or is it all in my imagination?

A return visit to Ancient Rome, chalked togas and all, gets the original St Mary’s team involved and it really hits the fan.  The routine plotline does a messy U-turn, the action gets a good twist, and the reader is shoved towards a dramatic and satisfactory ending.

Time Police work from fictional headquarters in the real Battersea Power Station in London (see bookcover) and Jodi Taylor’s website is full of interesting stuff like liquid string https://joditaylor.online/

On the whole “Doing Time” is not unconventional enough for me, but worth delving into if you are a fan of sci-fi past-future worlds. GBW.

IMG_20200128_115540
Yes, that is my cushion!

“Looking” is second across the line with Prince Harry Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Duchess of Sussex.

Their photographs are everywhere, as if people didn’t expect this to happen, but it makes a nice change from graphic bushfire images.

Certain events in my family “overlapped” with the Royals.  No, not a medal or taking tea with Queen Elizabeth II.  More ordinary things, like births and weddings.  For example, I was married at the same time as Prince Charles and Lady Diana, and my marriage broke up at the same time.  Spooky huh?!

Having read many Royal scandals over the years, I won’t go down that “Should they have done it?” track, suffice to say the Duke and Duchess had choices but one decision to make.  They made that decision based on what is right for them at this time.  In life, nobody knows what is around the corner, just keep moving forward. GBW.


“Thinking” gallops into third place with Margaret Atwood and her forthcoming Australian tour.

I am thinking of going—will have to make up my mind fast because tickets are selling like hot books, er, hot cakes.  Yum, books and cakes—I’d certainly kick myself if I missed the opportunity!

This momentous touring event commences in Sydney on 16 FEB 2020 and travels to Canberra, Brisbane [22 FEB 2020], Melbourne, Hobart and Perth.  Margaret Atwood said: “I am so happy to be returning to Australia, where I have spent much time in the past, and where readers have always been so warm and welcoming.” [26/11/19]

I think Margaret’s itinerary shows a lot of stamina; two weeks of touring here plus New Zealand.  ‘Scuse me, I’m just dashing off to count my dollar coins. GBW.

https://www.qpac.com.au/event/margaret_atwood_20/
http://margaretatwoodlive.com.au/index.html

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


“The Testaments” Winner of the Booker Prize 2019

SPECIAL NOTE—Margaret Atwood’s husband, Graeme Gibson knew his time was running out.  He had been diagnosed with dementia and wanted to go to Australia with Atwood to retrace childhood journeys, including visiting relatives in Brisbane, Queensland.  His mother was Australian, his father Canadian, and Gibson had returned throughout his life to see friends and family.  About seven months after their trip, in September, Gibson died in hospital in London where Atwood was promoting “The Testaments”, her highly-anticipated sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”.  Read more https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/margaret-atwood-s-final-australian-trip-with-partner-graeme-gibson-20191205-p53h6h.html


Wales Readathon Dewithon 2019 08HISTORICAL NOTE—One post in three parts “Reading Looking Thinking” a neat idea started by perennial blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.

Check out Book Jotter her informative, interesting and book-related website!
[Psst, she’s an Atwood fan]

Three Things #4

A snapshot of what’s happening in my reading world.  Three books!  Three genres!  Three reviews!  My theme was originally started by Book Jotter under the title ‘Reading Looking Thinking’ but I’m only doing the Reading part for this installment.

POTENT ROMANTIC COMEDY

OUR TINY, USELESS HEARTS novel by Toni Jordan
https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/our-tiny-useless-hearts

QuoteI couldn’t stop staring at babies and toddlers in the street: their impossibly tiny nails, pores around their noses, the way each hair on their head existed not as an individual but as part of a silken wave.” Janice, Page 125.

Toni Jordan’s new book ‘The Fragments’ has hit the shelves and in preparation I’ve just read her novel ‘Our Tiny, Useless Hearts’ which I think is a clever rom-com story.  Jordan has the knack of writing intelligent gems of heartfelt dialogue from the mouths of sincere characters then setting them in a ludicrous situation.  Well, Caroline’s house isn’t ludicrous, it’s more a trendy vehicle for British-style upstairs, downstairs naughtiness and relevant sex scenes.  The main players are two couples with shaky marriages (think clothes shredding) and the rest have grit in their relationships.  Protagonist Janice (with microbiologist syndrome) is meant to be the sensible one but she has just as many hang-ups as those around her.  Amid the embarrassing yet hilarious turmoil, Janice’s divorced husband Alec turns up.  The tension escalates even higher, a bad case of ‘Who is going to explode into a million pieces first?’.  I was entertained by this book of forthright and dysfunctional people who drew me into their lives.  GBW.
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MINUTIA OF VILLAGE LIFE

THE BOOKSHOP novel by Penelope Fitzgerald
https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007373833/the-bookshop/

Quote “Browsing is part of the tradition of a bookshop,” Florence told Christine. “You must let them stand and turn things over.” Florence, Chapter 5.

What a sombre little story this is.  I try not to read reviews or publicity first so I was quite impressed when I saw that English novelist Penelope Fitzgerald wrote ‘The Bookshop’ in 1978 when in her sixties.  That’s a lot of life experience, and later a Booker prize.  Fitzgerald had worked for the BBC, taught in schools and ran a bookshop.  I felt the struggles of Florence Green, fictional proprietor of the East Suffolk small town bookshop, were genuine.  Her droll experiences with young helper Christine Gipping appear to be first-hand.  In comparison, I found Mr Brundish, Milo North and the rapper (poltergeist) written along classical lines to add drama.  Village life is parochial and Florence battles with Mrs Gamart and her far-reaching resentment against resurrecting Old House as a bookshop.  Editor Hermione Lee says that Fitzgerald had a ‘tragic sense of life’ and I agree.  But her finesse with dialogue, letter-writing and the unspoken has launched countless tropes.  By all means prepare, this book has more thorns than roses.  GBW.
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INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRAVEL

THE CHRONICLES OF ST MARY’S series by Jodi Taylor
https://www.simonandschuster.ca/series/The-Chronicles-of-St-Marys

Quote “My speciality is Ancient Civilisations with a bit of medieval and Tudor stuff chucked in for luck.  As far as I was concerned, 1851 was practically yesterday.” Maxwell, Book 5.

The term preferred by Dr Bairstow, Director of the Institute of Historical Research at St Mary’s Priory, is ‘contemporary time’.  Jodi Taylor, author of ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ series, writes about a humorous herd of chaos-prone historians who investigate major historical events.  They are led by intrepid historian Madeleine Maxwell (aka Max) Chief Operations Officer.  After costume fittings, the historians travel in pods with armed guards to places like Ancient Egypt, Mount Vesuvius, Great Fire of London, etc, to observe and take notes while Time Police loom threateningly.  Best read in chronological order but Dramatis Thingummy explains characters and each gripping story unfolds, threefold sometimes, as another disaster hits the team.  Historians die; Dr Tim Peterson gets bubonic plague; at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Bard himself catches alight.  There are currently 22 books, in long and short format.  If, like me, you have ever daydreamed of visiting an historic moment in olden times, these books are for you.  GBW.
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Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Snoopy Woodstock Bookstack Cartoon

 

One post with three acts READING, LOOKING, THINKING, an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.  Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from Thinking to Doing if that suits your purpose.  I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts!  GBW.