Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I first became interested in The Picture of Dorian Gray from the movie appositely titled Dorian Gray, where Colin Firth's character as Lord Henry Wotton had me quickly convinced he was Satan himself.

The book was, as usual, a bit different. While Lord Henry still didn't seem to be a good guy, he wasn't the quintessential bad guy either. He simply seemed to have his own ideas on life and experience and was glad to make those thoughts known, which didn't seem to be the case in the movie where his goal seemed to be corruption of innocence.

In Oscar Wilde's version, Dorian Gray is a bored gentleman whom everyone adores. He is beautiful, innocent, and has a personality that draws everyone he meets to him. Life comes easy. While he is having a painting done of himself, the artist introduces to him Lord Henry Wotton whose world view opens Dorian's eyes to his own beauty and youth, and the impermanence of it. When Dorian makes a wish to always look as he does in the painting, he makes a proverbial pact with the devil and suddenly no sin can touch Dorian's physical beauty. But what of his soul? Dorian soon realizes that the painting doesn't look as it once did. There's an ugliness developing in it, a sneer and a look of cruelty. Dorian begins to suspect that although his beauty remains, the painting reflects his trueness, and soon discovers what happens when you gain the whole world, but lose your soul.

It is a story with a meaning and valuable point, and in my opinion would do the teenagers of the world today more of a service than a lot of what is considered "good reading" on the best sellers list. That's probably quixotical of me though so I digress and leave you with one of Lord Henry's many interesting theories on life and goodness.

"To be good is to be in harmony with one's self" he replied, touching the thin stem of his glass with his pale, fine-pointed fingers. "Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others. One's own life--that is the important thing. As for the lives of one's neighbors, if on wishes to be a prig or a Puritan, one can flaunt one's moral views about them, but they are not one's concern. Besides, individualism has really the higher aim. Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one's age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality."

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Some Irish toasts I like:

A toast to a bachelor:

"May you have nicer legs than yours under the table before the new spuds are up."


An everyday Irish toast:

"May you have the hindsight to know where you've been,
The foresight to know where you are going,
And the insight to know when you have gone too far."


A toast in Irish:

"'Faol saol agat, gob fliuch, agus bás in Éirinn.'"

Which means "Long life to you, a wet mouth, and death in Ireland."


A St. Patrick's Day toast:

"Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again."


And my personal favorite:



Have a good, and safe one everyone.

Not that I condone such treatment of dogs, but it's cute none the less

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Between the blogs

Very often there seem to be books I've read, listened to, or attempted that for one reason or the other don't get a full blog of their own, these are those books.

Spectres In The Smoke by Tony Broadbent

From the side flap:
"It's the austere 1948 world of post-war, black market riddled England, and Jethro, the cat burglar and jewel thief, has been pushed out onto the rooftops of London again by Colonel Walsingham of MI5.

And so, forced once again to step out from behind his disguise as a part time stagehand in London's West End, Jethro does a creep in Mayfair and sets in motion a tale of dark and deadly dealings that mixes national politics with black magic, orgies of abandon and blackmail."

I wanted to like this book, I wanted to get lost in zeitgeist of the 1948 post war England, but for whatever reason just couldn't. I liked the story, and the premise but it just didn't click for me and I finally set it aside for another time. To be fair, there has been a lot going on here, and a lot of distractions, so I'm thinking that very well could have something to do with it. I'll pick it up again when the fancy strikes me.

Rules of Prey by John Sanford

I have seen the "Prey" series books around and decided to give them a try on audio having heard they moved pretty fast and were easy to read. My discovery was that they were too long. The first half kept my attention pretty well, but at some point the story just seemed to halt and it felt like the author was just trying to keep it going despite already telling the reader what they wanted to know..who, what, where, when and why. It was time to call it quits and move on, so I did.

Box 21 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

From Publishers Star Weekly and
"The Swedish writing team of Roslund and Hellström make their U.S. debut with a remarkable tale of loss, addiction and revenge set in Stockholm's seedy underworld. Ewert Grens, a veteran detective, is haunted by a tragic incident that occurred 25 years earlier that left his young wife, a fellow police officer, an invalid. When the man responsible, notorious criminal Jochum Lang, is released from prison, Grens vows to put him away for life. Meanwhile, the detective arrives at a crime scene where a teenage prostitute, Lydia Grajauskas, has been nearly beaten to death by her Russian pimp. Alternating chapters fill in the backstory of Lydia and Alena Sljusareva, girls lured away from Lithuania under false pretenses and sold as sex slaves. In a bizarre twist, Lydia escapes from her hospital bed and ends up taking hostages."

I really liked this novel, a prequel to Three Seconds, although I found it pretty harsh and a bit disgusting at times with the descriptions of what was required of the prostitutes. I didn't however, feel it was too over the top or overdone. I only put it here because I've recently written a review of Three Seconds and felt it repetitive, but it certainly is worth the time and money to read it.

Spectres in the Smoke
Rules of Prey
Box 21

Currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Falling Glass, (the audio book version), by Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty has an incredible way with words, and it certainly shows in his new offering Falling Glass. His prose gives you a sure sense of where the characters are, what they feel, the atmosphere, along with what they see. And, if you get the novel in the form of an audio book, Gerald Doyle does an equally incredible job of enhancing that sense of feeling. These two make a great pair.

Rachel is on her last leg. She has taken her two children and mysteriously disappeared, and after being on the run from her ex-husband, and the kids father, Richard Coulter, she is ready to pull the trigger. When her ex's goons show up with guns drawn, however, she grabs the children and heads to the next hiding spot she can find.

Richard is a man that has it all, a new wife who is pregnant, a successful business, and a nice house. He has always made sure Rachel and the kids were taken care of, so why did they abscond? He hires Killian, a Pavee and ex IRA enforcer with a propensity to use a way with words, to get the job done. As Killian is on her trail, he discovers he's not the only one looking for her, and the other guy isn't near as nice. Killian must now use all of his wit, instinct and knowledge to find Rachael and figure out what is really going on before her ex gets what he wants...all of them dead.

At this point, I would normally throw in a few lines from the story to give those of you that might be interested an idea of how the author writes. As much as I love this particular authors lyrical prose, since I had this one on audio that would be a bit hard to get right. I suppose you will just have to take my word for it that it's like reading crime fiction poetry. It's quite interesting and even captivating at times

I have also found, as a somewhat regular reader of the author's blog, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, that McKinty himself is a fount of bits and pieces of knowledge I believe most people, especially on my side of the Atlantic, never think to think about, and he weaves some of that knowledge throughout his tale. Along with many scientific morsels, the use of the Aboriginal belief in The Dreaming to set mood, state of mind and feeling made that part of Australian history come alive as it added a completely new level to the story. I also found the use of Irish history, and the Pavee, to be fascinating and a bit engrossing. It's not often that history captures my attention, but presented in the way McKinty has presented it, I admit, the interest is there and I get a bit curious. A quick Wiki search gave me this and this if you're interested.

All of this said, I think Falling Glass is probably Adrian McKinty's best novel yet, and I hope to read more of Killian in the future. In all honesty, I didn't think he could possibly do better than his Michael Forsythe character, but, against all odds, I think he's done it and I'm left wondering what the author will come up with next.

Falling Glass is unfortunately not currently available in The U.S, but can be bought from The Book Depository or downloaded as an audio book from Audible.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Treachery in Death by J.D Robb

I pretty well enjoyed this new offering by J.D Robb, although, I have to admit, there have been only a few of hers that I haven't. I'm sure I've blogged on the author's "In Death" series before, so instead of giving my thoughts on this particular book, which was similar in premise to her other books, I'd like to be more general.

I was having a conversation with my "better half" the other day, and, in talking about why I've stuck with this thirty some odd book series, when other long series' seem to get boring or wear thin on my patience, the only answer I can come up with is the characters. For the most part, there isn't anything different, or too out of the ordinary that makes the stories themselves stand out, but the characters definitely do. From Eve Dallas, a kick ass New York police lieutenant who has suffered unimaginable abuse as a young child from her father, to Roarke, a self made rich Irishman from the dark streets of Dublin. Add to that a list of friends as varied as a Janet Evanivich cast and you've got a lot of heart and fun. In all honesty, it's the story of watching them grow, change and build those relationships that has me stuck.

I will also comment that J.D Robbs books, although not completely dissimilar to her alter ego's stories, are different enough for a distinction to be made. While her books under Nora Roberts tend to focus on romance, the J.D Robb stories tend to focus more on crime, murder, and the above mentioned relationships.

Now, as to Treachery in Death itself...

Detective Peabody happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a couple of cops walk into an old police workout room. Not realizing she was there, a Lieutenant and one of her men get in an argument over an illegal drug business they have been running. Peabody overhears talk of an informer the LT. has had killed and future plans for possibly more violence. When the cops leave, Peabody immediately contacts her own Lieutenant, and partner, Eve Dallas, to inform her of what she has learned, and soon, Eve and her team, including her husband Roarke, Expert consultant civilian, engage in a cat and mouse game to put the dirty cops out of everyone else's misery.

I read this one on my Kindle, so coming up with a specific passage to quote would be difficult since I didn't "bookmark" one as I reading, but I do remember laughing at the scene of Eve spending 10 minutes watching baby Bella. Eve doesn't typically know what to make of babies, and watching her figure it out would give any parent a good chuckle.

Treachery was a fun, and entertaining story, and, since the author seems to whip books out like hot cakes, I'm glad to say it won't be too long before the next installment of the "In Death" series due out later in the year.

Treachery in Death

Sunday, March 6, 2011

North Texas Irish Festival

This weekend was the annual North Texas Irish Festival, one of the few times in the year my possibly abnormal interest in that island across the pond seems almost normal, (the other time being the upcoming St. Patrick's day). Honestly, I just figure I'm half Irish and at times reserve the right to have some fun with it. So all that said, here's the day in pictures...mostly.

A bit of Irish stew. I'm not sure what made it "Irish", and am really hoping it wasn't that it came in a can from Ireland.

My husband in his "Slainte" hoodie, and my little sister in law with her new backpack and my son's mini cross bow.

A "steam punk" mannequin, I'm not sure why this qualifies as Irish, but it was interesting....and a bit scary really.

One of the many singing groups playing in the "Guinness pub and stage" tent. The stage looked pretty cool with the pub decorations. They had musicians, dancers and bands playing around every corner and I loved the fun atmosphere of it.

One of my favorite shirts in the offerings being sold.

My son on the huge escalator heading up from the train station. He was too lazy, or tired, to stand like the rest of us.

And, of course, after all of the walking around and shopping, we had to bring home a few things..My sister in law got a backpack and knife necklace, my son talked me into a crossbow, claiming it was meant to shoot Nerf darts, (he left out all of the other things he'd find to shoot with it). My husband bought a fun hat, and I couldn't resist getting the pictures. The photographers were there, and one in particular had a nice accent to help him sell pictures...I made sure and asked him plenty of questions.

It was a lovely day.