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review 2018-08-26 16:57
SKULLFACE BOY by Chad Lutzke
Skullface Boy - Chad Lutzke

"My name is Levi. I’m 16. I’ve got a skull for a face. And here's how shit went down." The first lines from SKULLFACE BOY capture your attention and the narrative never lets you go.

 

Levi sets off on foot from the orphanage, (the only home he's ever known), in search of ...his father. He's not sure the man even exists, but he's heard tell along the way of a man with a skull for a face. Knowing nothing of the world, he sets off on foot for his favorite nun's former residence of Hermosa Beach, California. This book follows Levi on his trip west from Denver. Will he make it to the beach? Will he find his father? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Levi burrowed his way into my heart and now he has a permanent residence there. His love of reading and his humble goals of having his own library of books and maybe someday a library of VCR tapes just slayed me. He loved to write too, so much so that he gathered napkins from fast food restaurants along the way to jot down his thoughts.

 

Even though he was raised in an orphanage and so often treated like a freak, (or maybe it was because of those things), Levi has a finely honed sense of right and wrong. He finds opportunities on his road trip to apply that sense and to do what's right...and so Levi comes of age. The characters he meets along the way were also memorable, but my favorite was Rainbow Rick. I'm not ashamed to say that Levi's encounter with him made me cry. Rick now has a space reserved in my heart as well.

 

I guess I need to wrap this up as I don't want my review to be longer than the book. I'll summarize with this: Chad Lutzke is an author to watch. With SKULLFACE BOY, he's moved up on my favorite author's list and getting closer to the top than you might think. His writing is fresh, creative, poignant, and dark. He is able to convey a sense of hope: in people and maybe even in the world. (A feeling I thought I had lost a long time ago.) Don't get me wrong it's not all butterflies and roses, but there's a sense that there could be a rainbow on the other side of the darkness. In this day and age that hope might be just enough to help people pull through.

 

So there you have it, the world needs Chad Lutzke, and so do you.

 

My HIGHEST recommendation!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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text 2018-07-20 23:07
Back to the Forster Project
Morgan: A Biography of E. M. Forster - Nicola Beauman
E.M. Forster: A New Life - Wendy Moffat
A Passage To India - E.M. Forster

It's been a while since I finished The Longest Journey (still need to write a review) and now that tennis plans are on ice for a bit (because of a pulled muscle) and that work has, not slowed down, but has at least moved past the frantic phase, I feel might get the right time and head-space again to enjoy the next read in my Forster project. 

 

I only have two novels left, the short stories, and Aspects of the Novel.

 

But, I have also found two biographies at the library that looked really good:

 

Morgan is the one which I am really excited about because it was written by Nicola Beauman. She's now head of Persephone Books who publish the most marvellous forgotten women writers of the early 20th century. I'm subscribed to their newsletter and it is the only newsletter I actually look forward to receiving. 
So, I can't wait to read what she has to say about Forster. 
 
The other one, by Wendy Moffat, seems to focus more on just one aspect of his life and how it affected his writing. At least, this is what I got from several reviews about the book and which seemed to shelf it under "gender studies" a lot. 

 

So, without further delay, I am off on A Passage to India

 

(Taken on a trip to Simla a few years ago. The book is not set there, but this is what I picture when reading the book.)

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text 2018-07-16 00:51
Sunday Adventures... prepare for some disappointment

Happy Sunday!

 

Following my resolve to make the most of this summer and the current heat wave, I thought today was a good day for another adventure. So, I set out and headed North again to try and visit the Dolphin Centre, a charity devoted to the conservation of and education about marine mammals. 

 

 

The centre is located on the mouth of the river Spey, which is mostly famous for providing one of the necessities to make whisky. If there is anything that exists in greater number than castles up here, it's distilleries...but that's a topic for another weekend.

 

The Dolphin Centre is a charity run by volunteers who, aside from staffing the cafe, organise tours of the centre and keep an eye on the local dolphin population. Apparently, there are around 190 of them in the Moray Firth, the area close to the centre. 

 

Unfortunately, none of them felt like making an appearance today. Not one. 

 

 

There were lots of gulls, ... but let's just say it would be more unusual not to see a gull. They are everywhere around these parts. 

 

Still, it was a nice day out and there were some gorgeous paths around the Spey estuary.

 

 

At some point during my walk, the rain set on. It was sunny and sweltering hot when I left home this lunch time. Too hot. The change of weather was magnificent. Even tho it was raining, it was the sort of warm summer rain that smells and feels like poetry.  Loved it.

 

I hope your Sundays have been fun, too.

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text 2018-07-08 16:46
The Sunday Post: Macbeth Country, well more of it... sort of.

Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more.

By Sinel’s death I know I am Thane of Glamis;

But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives,

A prosperous gentleman; and to be King

 Stands not within the prospect of belief,

No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence

You owe this strange intelligence, or why

Upon this blasted heath you stop our way

With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.

 

- William Shakespeare - Macbeth (Act I, Scene III)

 

 “I wish the Bard had never written his damned play!

- John Campbell, 5th Earl Cawdor 

It's been a stressful and rather frustrating week at BT HQ last which started with some-Brexit induced admin nightmare, which needed me to seek out the an appointment at Glasgow City Council on Monday because none of the council offices closer to home, i.e. on the other side of the country, were able to offer the required services. This was pretty stressful in itself (had to take a day off work on short notice and nearly panicked when sitting down for getting paperwork checked etc. it looked like I might have misplaced a bit of it ... it did re-appear in a different pile ... but that was one long minute of near panic) but a few days after I received a call from the council officer whose only task in this whole process was to take copies: the copies had turned out blurry and could I "pop in" for another round?

 

Erm, ... no.

 

So, several calls with people on withheld numbers and the local Chief Registrar later, we got another plan of action.

As it turns out, if I had submitted my paperwork a few days later, there would have been no need to trek to Glasgow because my local council will start offering the same admin service on Monday. Monday as in from tomorrow. And by local I mean the council office that is is a 10 minute walk away. But of course this was not announced anywhere least of all on the relevant government websites... GAAAAAHH!!!!

 

Tuesday brought with it a minor surgery - nothing serious, but it needed to be done - which went very well apart from some slight discomfort and the weird experience of asking the consultant to stop telling me in detail what he was about to do. I'm not exaggerating when I tell people that I can't read gory horror stories or thrillers... The descriptions really make me queasy. And as I found out, being at the receiving end of even a minor surgical procedure while being told the descriptions and wherefores of incisions etc. does not make me feel any comfortable at all.

Apparently, my request that the consultant stop the narration and get on with the procedure was unusual and a lot of people want to know the details. Well, each to their own. I now know that I'd rather know the plan step-by-step beforehand but not during.

 

The rest of this week was a bit of a mess really, but not being one for moping about in fine weather (even if I wasn't allowed to play tennis - because sutures...), I figured it was a fine day for exploring a castle that I had not been to, yet.

 

Cawdor Castle, near Nairn in the north of Scotland had been on my list for a long, long time. As some of you may know, I have a bit of a thing for Macbeth - both Shakespeare's version and the historical figure - and one of my other favourite castles to spend time at is Glamis (near Forfar), but I just had not had a chance to make the trip to Cawdor (about 3 hours of leisurely driving in good weather). 

 

It was a fabulous decision. I mean just look at this beauty of a castle:

 

And the inside of it was just so ... let me show you because they had no problems with people taking plenty of photos of the amazing place:

 

 

Just look at them BOOKS! It's a lived in castle. The Dowager Countess does still live there and as one lady-in-a-hurry told me in passing, she does do most of the administration of the castle herself.

 

Also, there was a maze ... with a minotaur. :D

 

 

The castle was built in the late 14th, early 15th century. As the official guide book says:

"A new higher, harder site was chosen (traditionally by a donkey rather than by an architect - creatures with much in common), and as this rocky position was water-bearing yet firm, it could provide both a drinking-well and a strong foundation.

The tall, plain rectangular tower-house consisted of four storeys and a garret, served by a turnpike stair, and with one entrance to the outside world set at upper first floor level: the perfect design to keep out tourists."

So, what's the connection with Shakespeare? 

 

Well, Macbeth (1005 - 1057) was real, but he was not a Thane of Cawdor (nor of Glamis btw.). King Duncan was killed, but he was killed in outright battle by Macbeth's troops, not in his sleep while being a guest under Macbeth's roof. 

 

And as for the roof itself: The play was written in 1606 but not printed until 1632, i.e. after Shakespeare's death. However, the places described in the play were apparently added quite late in the play's publication history. So, can we really know whether the locations in the published versions are the ones Shakespeare intended? 

 

Even if so, Cawdor was not one of them. The play notes Macbeth's castle near Inverness, but this could just as well have meant the original Inverness Castle or another castle in the area - there are several - or it could have just all been invented. After all, it's a play! 

 

Most of all, of course, the possibility of the Cawdor Castle being the location of that gruesome midnight murder that lost King Duncan his life, Macbeth his sleep, and Lady Macbeth her mind, blows up in a puff of smoke when you look at the dates: the castle wasn't built until the 1400s and the previous castle near Nairn (about 5 miles away) was also built over a hundred years after Kind Duncan's death.  

 

So, I get that the Campbells, the owners of the castle, get a bit touchy every time some fan of the play takes Shakespeare's play as historical fact. There should be space enough in people's heads to hold both versions and people should have the critical thinking skills to be able to make the distinction between fact and fiction. Otherwise, we are letting entertainment and propaganda form our opinions and write our history books. 

 

Oh, hang on, ... that's already happened, ... and is still happening.

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review 2018-06-03 20:12
Review: “A Destiny of Dragons” (Tales From Verania, #2) by TJ Klune
A Destiny of Dragons - By (author) TJ Klune

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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