Friday, June 22, 2012



-Terry Pratchett-

Mort is a simple country bumpkin who has reached the age where he should find a career. Lucky for him he is chosen for an apprenticeship. Unfortunately, it's with Death.
Without saying, this book is full of dark humour, mostly surrounding Death. It's a light hearted, yet deep view, of Death's job. About how Death feels about his job. About how Death has a mid life career crisis and goes off looking for something different. There are a few side stories, the apprentice learning the ropes of the death trade, Death's daughter falling in love with the new apprentice, and a strangely non comical story about destiny.
I really enjoyed the idea of Death getting sick of going out night after night collecting souls and wanting to try something new. I could relate to Death's job search and his lack of 'real skills' forcing him into a job flipping burgers. It's actually kind of scary being able to relate to Death!?
Pratchett's writing was again brimming with humour, he really knows how to turn a phrase, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, two's funny is what I mean to say.
I also thought this book had a bit more substance than the previous ones I've read, like there was a point in it. That point : you can't screw with destiny. When you are going to die, you are going to die, you cannot change that. You just have to accept it and move on, or reincarnate, or something?
If you have enjoyed other Pratchett books, you'll enjoy this one.



The Glass Castle

This was the kind of story that makes you want to run out to the grocery store and buy one, maybe two, tons of food and drive it down to the food bank. Or better yet, to a school breakfast program. Or even better, search out and find a dysfunctional family in dire need and make them take it! Make them, for the love of their kids souls!
This novel brought up a few very heavy topics; child neglect, alcohol abuse, extreme poverty, violence, 'perverts', gambling, prejudice, homelessness...ok, more than a few topics. Well, other than abortion and child soldiers this book covers a huge gambit of sad, hard, frightening experiences. Although saying this I left the book with a feel good feeling and an appreciation for the easy life I've lived.
What I found amazing was the writing. Even through all the tough subject I've mentioned you never get the feeling that Walls is looking for pity. If never felt like she was whining and griping but just telling it like it is, or was. The writing is so personal yet it draws you right into her gritty life, even though most of these things you'd never experience, you can almost picture it like you are there...which made me feel a bit uncomfortable at times, which is a sign of a great book. An amazing book.
What I found amazing was how Walls perceived the, obvious now, child neglect and poverty as 'normal'. Since that was the only life she knew it makes complete sense. It was also shocking how her parents encouraged this perception by reinforcing how better their life was than other families. How their life was an adventure!
The adventure consists of an unsettled life where they would move towns in a moments notice. Where they had to live in their car at times. When you never knew if there would be food tomorrow. But, they sure got to travel around, see the country...even if they fell out of the car sometimes, and their Dad was driving drunk with beer bottles in his lap. This true story is so outrageous it sounds like fiction. But, when you stop to think that it is not, everything is true, that's when the shock settles in.
There are not all bad times. The parents are very interesting and charismatic people who just happen to have checked out of society. They do a great job at homeschooling the children and encouraging imaginative and creative children. The Dad is a star in Jeannette's life whom she looks upto and adores, never seeing his faults until much later in life. He tells wonderful stories and makes grand plans for the family. But, he never seem to follow through on anything.
The novel gives you a peek at a slice of society which I'm sure exists more than we know, a look into terrible poverty and those who just don't buy into civilization as a majority of us live it. It is a definite eye opener. A book that I've put on a list of books to read before you die. I would not be far from saying this should be mandatory reading in school to bring awareness and compassion for those living poverty stricken lives.



Your Key to Understanding the SHATNERVERSE and the world at large

Make sure you do not ever yell, 'beam me up Scotty' to Shatner, if for some reason you see him in real life. Why? Because, he will tell you to F*** off!
Yes, just one of the many interesting tidbits of info Shatner reveals in his book Shatner Rules.
Somehow, Shatner's arrogant, crass, egotistical writing comes across as endearing. Why? Because, he reveals just enough of his 'real' personality to let you know it's all an act. He has created this 'William Shatner' persona that he 'plays' while doing interviews, attending conferences, or being roasted on Comedy Central. Bill, his real person, is much humbler and laid back with a focus on friends and family. Just another interesting thing that is revealed in this book.
Shatner rules is a hilarious, very very witty book outlining Shatner's philosophy on the success of his career. He calls it a memoir. I call it a laugh along satire of a self-help-life-consultant-autobiographical-career-building book WITH a bunch of Star Trek references peppering the pages.
Along with the Star Trek jokes, there are odd life stories such as the time Shatner sold his kidney stones for $75,000 - the money went to charity (ahh, how nice). There are tales of his music career; from trippy hippy ballads in the late 60's to his heavy metal scream fests he recorded at the ripe old age of 70 something! His vast and varied life and career experiences are made up a series of strange happenings. He attributes this all back to his number one rule - say 'yes'! Yes, opens doors which lead to more doors, with lead to more doors, an underground tunnel, a bridge, a window, other words, one thing leads to another and soon you find yourself headlining Sci-fi conventions, award ceremonies, TV shows, Records...
That's a rundown of the narrative. Now, what makes this book entertaining to read is the tone and attitude Bill puts into each page. It is chock full of jabs at those who mock him, especially his Star Trek career, and he totally takes ownership of those jokes. He mocks the mockers. It is hilarious, 'nuff said. Along with this mockery of the mockers, is a consistent joke about the William Shatner Brand where he encourages you to YouTube him doing this or that, or buy an audio version of his book (with his voice over), or just becoming another one of his multi million followers on Twitter.
Then there is the chapter on technology. I love when 'old' people talk tech. Apparently Shatner had a facebook account which was deleted because it was thought to be a fraud. Ouch. So, Shatner went to the Twittersphere and worked his magic there. I haven't checked out his account yet, but, I'm sure it's very good. And, good on him for going on the internet at such a ripe age.
You do not have to be a Star Trek fan to like this book, you just have to like a good sarcastic wit...and piles of egotistical references to The Universe According To Shatner.

This is the second Shatner book I've read and the difference is like night and day, human and Klingon, Warp speed and Mach 1...the last book was a serious Star Trek novel, this one (an equally fantasy filled adventure) a funny memoir. Both were excellent. Proving my point that Shatner is a good writer. He seems to do everything good. In some people's eyes he is a god...I wouldn't go that far, but, possibly admit I would seek his help as a life guide (I think Opera uses life guides or counsellors or something just as ridiculous).
Oh, and apparently he charges $75 for an autograph and a maximum ten second 'chat' at those Star Trek conventions.