Saturday, October 29, 2016

Road of the Patriarch

I missed this pair, Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle are amazing. I just love them. Whenever they're around, things get interesting. Jarlaxle is still fun and vibrant. He has so much personality, but he can still take out a squad of soldiers. The care he shows for Entreri is interesting. It's not what other drow expect, and he definitely doesn't show it the way others would, but I think it's genuine. Entreri is going through some things, memories are surfacing, betrayal is felt deeply, and none of it is really accidental. Road of the Patriarch was exciting and exactly what I wanted it to be, R.A. Salvatore definitely delivered in this fantasy tale.

The end though. All of them. The end that wasn't really the end. I mean, just when I think it's over, there's more. I knew something like that was going to happen with the half-elf. I mean, not exactly what happened, but the general idea. Then the actual end, with the journey into the past, the memories. Those yucky, yucky men, taking advantage of the poor. It was slightly horrifying that this is where Entreri came from, but kind of understandable when you think of the journey to who he is by the end of this novel. Road of The Patriarch made two villains, into characters you could sympathize with and understand, the entire Sellswords trilogy managed to do that. Salvatore did not disappoint and I am excited to see what happens next with these characters.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Blast From The Past #6 - Reading Douglas Coupland

I've read a few books by author, Douglas Coupland. The first I ever read though, was Hey Nostradamus!. I remember that I had always wanted to read something by Coupland, he was the author of Generation X, after all, as well as being a prolific Canadian writer. I was hooked by this story. The power of Hey Nostradamus! led me to read Generation X, Eleanor Rigby, The Gum Thief and more. I enjoyed The Gum Thief maybe way more that I should. Without reading that first book by Coupland, I might have missed out on some fantastic novels.

Coupland has written so many novels. I have three unread ones downstairs, including Generation A, the "sequel" to Generation X. I should definitely read it, especially since bees play a part in the story. There are just so many books that he's written. I still have to read JPod, Worst. Person. Ever. Bit Rot, and it doesn't seem like Coupland is about to stop writing. This desire to read all these books would not have started if I did not read Hey Nostradamus! ten years ago and think it was brilliant.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Humans

I loved The Humans. I really loved it. The unnamed alien narrator was brilliant. I thought every bit of his comments about life on Earth were spot on and hilarious. Some observations from the narrator (who is Andrew, but not really Andrew), are just funny: "unfathomably pointless eyebrows"; but also true: "The manners and social customs too are a baffling enigma at first. Their conversation topics are very rarely the things they want to be talking about." Matt Haig created a compelling, interesting, complex character, who has to deal with our complex world.

Many of the quotes really hit me, especially in the currently global and political state. Or societal state. Or feminism: "I could write ninety-seven books on body shame and clothing etiquette before you would get even close to understanding them."

Matt Haig wrote The Humans from the perspective of an alien visitor, who has taken on human form, and is trying to fit in, though he also has a pretty awful mission. In his trying to fulfill his mission, we the see the world from the outside, in. I wonder if The Humans might contain everything that has ever made Haig frustrated about life in our world.

"Oh, and let’s not forget The Things They Do To Make Themselves Happy That Actually Make Them Miserable. This is an infinite list. It includes – shopping, watching TV, taking the better job, getting the bigger house, writing a semi-autobiographical novel, educating their young, making their skin look mildly less old, and harbouring a vague desire to believe there might be a meaning to it all."

There are just so many quotes. I have not highlighted so much from a novel since University (not that I highlighted the actual novel). Most of these are from the beginning of the novel when the alien is trying to figure out human life.  With the idea that they are being said by an alien impersonating a human, they are just so insightful. They are blunt and honest. It is the main character's honesty and innocence (ignorance?) that had me from the beginning. I also couldn't help but think, this super advanced civilization sending an alien to live among us, they couldn't have coached him better? Or given him clothes? The beginning would have been less funny, though.

The journey that not-Andrew goes through though, is just amazing. He knows nothing, but also everything. He learns so much, he moves beyond the numbers. Not-Andrew is amazed with what he is capable of. The Humans is really one of the best books I've read this year (so far). It's funny, but layered with emotion. I really didn't know what was going to happen at the end.

So here are way more quotes than I think I've ever included in a post before, but I just love them. I also tried not to include anything spoilery.

"Once there, I had several immediate reactions. First, what was with the weather? I was not really used to weather you had to think about. But this was England, a part of Earth where thinking about the weather was the chief human activity."

(I'm sure the English really appreciated this one. Also, weather is also a hot topic in Canada.)

"This was, I would later realise, a planet of things wrapped inside things. Food inside wrappers. Bodies inside clothes. Contempt inside smiles."

"Understandably, a human needs to know what kind of book they are about to read. They need to know if it is a love story. Or a murder story. Or a story about aliens. There are other questions, too, that humans have in bookstores. Such as, is it one of those books they read to feel clever, or one of those they will pretend never to have read in order to stay looking clever? Will it make them laugh, or cry? Or will it simply force them to stare out of the window watching the tracks of raindrops? Is it a true story? Or is it a false one? Is it the kind of story that will work on their brain or one which aims for lower organs? Is it one of those books that ends up acquiring religious followers or getting burned by them? Is it a book about mathematics or – like everything else in the universe – simply because of it?"

"Yes, there are lots of questions. And even more books. So, so many. Humans in their typical human way have written far too many to get through. Reading is added to that great pile of things – work, love, sexual prowess, the words they didn’t say when they really needed to say them – that they are bound to feel a bit dissatisfied about."

(I love the quotes about books!)

"Humans, as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one era turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rainforests mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode."

"Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass."

"She came to see me in my room, while a nurse watched. It was, of course, another test. Everything in human life was a test. That was why they all looked so stressed out."

"Remember, during your mission, never to become influenced or corrupted. The humans are an arrogant species, defined by violence and greed. They have taken their home planet, the only one they currently have access to, and placed it on the road to destruction. They have created a world of divisions and categories and have continually failed to see the similarities between themselves. They have developed technology at a rate too fast for human psychology to keep up with, and yet they still pursue advancement for advancement’s sake, and for the pursuit of the money and fame they all crave so much."

"As well as religion, human history is full of depressing things like colonisation, disease, racism, sexism, homophobia, class snobbery, environmental destruction, slavery, totalitarianism, military dictatorships, inventions of things which they have no idea how to handle (the atomic bomb, the Internet, the semi-colon), the victimisation of clever people, the worshipping of idiotic people, boredom, despair, periodic collapses, and catastrophes within the psychic landscape. And through it all there has always been some truly awful food."

"Where we are from there are no comforting delusions, no religions, no impossible fiction."

"A human life is on average 80 Earth years or around 30,000 Earth days. Which means they are born, they make some friends, eat a few meals, they get married, or they don’t get married, have a child or two, or not, drink a few thousand glasses of wine, have sexual intercourse a few times, discover a lump somewhere, feel a bit of regret, wonder where all the time went, know they should have done it differently, realise they would have done it the same, and then they die. Into the great black nothing. Out of space. Out of time."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Blast From The Past #5 - Flowers and Henry James

If you look at posts from the first half of October 10 years ago, you'll find several of my wedding photos. I remembered this: people from my real life used to look at my blog. I wonder if they still do. I was asked by friends and family to post photos, so I did. It's not something I do much of anymore. I think I've gotten more private as the internet is.... well, you know. I'm not linking to all the posts. I think there of five of them, but if you want to check out a bit of my wedding day, it's all still there. While I may not post a lot of personal photos anymore, I'm not going to take down the ones that are already here.

I couldn't let this post go by though, without mentioning The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. This ten-year-old post was written after the second time I read this story. It might be my favourite of all James' tales. I read it first in University and just loved it. This might be another story I have to read again!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thank You To...

Whoever handed in the money my Hubby forgot.

Last weekend, my Hubby went to the grocery store, picked up a few things and got $100 cash back for the weekend. He forgot the money. That night, as we were preparing to go to sleep and talking about what was happening the next day, he remembered. Naturally, he was freaking out. I calmed him as best I could, but still, it was something to freak out about. All we (he) could do was head to the store in the morning with the receipt and tell them he didn't receive the cash. Out on my errands, he texted me. The store had the money set aside. Someone had handed it in. A kind person, maybe the next person behind him in line, handed the money in to the service desk. I was set aside, waiting for a person with the right receipt to come in and claim it.  This person didn't have to do that.  It was a fair amount of money. They could have pocketed it. They didn't. They did the right thing, thankfully for us.

To whoever returned my husband's money, to anyone who has ever returned anyone's forgotten money, lost wallet, dropped phone, forgotten keys, misplaced jewelry, and the like, Thank You.