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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

The Medusa Chronicles
Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter
Progress: 20/336 pages
Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth
John Garth
Progress: 190/398 pages
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 133/789 pages
The Essential Shakespeare
Ted Hughes
Progress: 75/259 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Bruegel: Defining a Destiny
Amy Orrock, Jennifer Scott
Progress: 79/128 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 79 out of 128 pages.

Bruegel: Defining a Destiny - Amy Orrock, Jennifer Scott

The Jan Brueghels got into flower paintings - makes a change from peasants dancing!

The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 - J.G. Ballard

I once (somewhere on Goodreads) observed that a lot of what is usually labelled Science Fiction is really Engineering Fiction. There are rare examples of Mathematics Fiction (e.g. Flatland, Abbott or Eon, Greg Bear). There's a lot of Physics Fiction and Biology Fiction. Le Guin wrote Anthropolgy Fiction. Imagine my surprise when recently in Ballard's autobiography he said that he favoured Psychology Fiction. This struck me as the perfect pithy description of what Ballard was doing most of the time in his short stories.

 

This collection has many interesting and surprising stories and the odd few that are actually predictable if you know his work fairly well. Many of the most memorable have the common setting of Vermillion Sands, a fading, no longer fashionable beach resort for the rich and famous that exists - somewhere. It's not quite our Earth, but not apparently an alien world, despite the flying rays that seem like they replace the gulls of most seashores. In fact it's the embodiment of a mood - a mood so effectively evoked that after reading several stories, I was able to guess we were back there from just the first paragraph of one story, confirmed in the next. This impressed upon me the level of writing skill on display.

 

Well, there's still a similarly brick-sized second volume to look forward to!

Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 241 pages.

Lysistrata and Other Plays - Alan H. Sommerstein, Aristophanes

Lysistrata persuades the others to join the strike. Meanwhile, the older women have occupied the Acropolis and locked out the men.

Reading progress update: I've read 82 out of 128 pages.

Poetry in the Making: A Handbook for Writing and Teaching - Ted Hughes

Landscape: Wuthering Heights by  Sylvia Plath was the best example. Must get to her poetry in toto...

Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 336 pages.

The Medusa Chronicles - Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter

This is a sequel to a book I haven't read...by two authors who weren't involved in the original.

Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 128 pages.

Bruegel: Defining a Destiny - Amy Orrock, Jennifer Scott

Of the memebers of the dynasty I like Jan Breughel the Younger the best so far. There's a Vinckboom reproduced here (never heard of him before) that I liked a lot, too. They both focus more on landscape than the other dynasty members.

Reading progress update: I've read 746 out of 784 pages.

The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 - J.G. Ballard

Insects wearing jewellry?!

Reading progress update: I've read 71 out of 128 pages.

Poetry in the Making: A Handbook for Writing and Teaching - Ted Hughes

For the cat-lovers amongst us, I give, My Cat Jeoffrey:

http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/for-i-will-consider-my-cat-jeoffry/

Midnight, Derek Landy

Midnight - Derek Landy

So, the new teen kid protagonist is nowhere near as interesting as Valkyrie, who  is now 25, but teen protagonists are apparently mandatory in YA books. Fortunately, in this volume, most of the focus is on Valkyrie.  And if you have no idea who I'm talking about, don't start here - go back to the beginning when Valkyrie discovered magic, aged 12, in the very first book.

Reading progress update: I've read 63 out of 128 pages.

Poetry in the Making: A Handbook for Writing and Teaching - Ted Hughes

View of a Pig:

 

"The pig lay on a barrow dead."

 

The line that got me interested in poetry.

Reading progress update: I've read 23 out of 128 pages.

Bruegel: Defining a Destiny - Amy Orrock, Jennifer Scott

There's a Bosch painting reproduced - best picture I've seen in the book so far!

Reading progress update: I've read 10 out of 128 pages.

Bruegel: Defining a Destiny - Amy Orrock, Jennifer Scott

I thought the two Canalettos were potentially confusing but this family has so many painters in it that a family tree is needed to understand their relationships to each other. Thankfully one is provided in this book!

Reading progress update: I've read 42 out of 128 pages.

Poetry in the Making: A Handbook for Writing and Teaching - Ted Hughes

First chapter was Animals. 2nd is Weather. Use his own "Wind" which is amazing and Dickinson's "Like rain is sounded..." which is almost as brilliant as examples, amongst others. Suggests using a specific memory or detailed imagining as the basis, rather than trying to take on a generalised catagory.

Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 418 pages.

Midnight - Derek Landy

Same problem as the previous volume: Omen just isn't that  interesting. It's a lot more fun to be around Valkyrie and Skulduggery - but apparently one MUST have a teenage protagonist involved.

Paintings of London, Peter Brown

Paintings of London - Peter Brown

What more can I say about Peter Brown? I love his work and this catalogue has many delightful paintings reproduced in it. Brown's interest in reflections in rain soaked flagstones is strongly represented. There's only one snow painting - must have been a mild winter.

Reading progress update: I've read 375 out of 1327 pages.

The Riverside Chaucer - Geoffrey Chaucer

The House of Fame


Frustratingly unfinished! Don't trust reputation or rumour - it may be completely false - but said in a very pretty way with fun imagery and references to The Aenied and The Divine Comedy. Perhaps my favourite part is when the dreamer is carried by the eagle to the House of Fame, high in the sky and he has the good sense to be terrified.