Saturday, 11 May 2013

Currently Reading - May 2013

Just a short post today as I enjoy the FA Cup Final between Wigan Athletic and Manchester City. I hope it's an exciting game.

From my last post, I'm continuing my Ian Fleming focus, I'm currently reading Dr. No, the 19th 1963 Pan printing, with the loverly Ursula Andress on the cover. In this thriller, Bond, recovering from his previous case, is sent by M to Jamaica to look into the mysterious disappearance of their Station Chief there, John Strangways and his assistant. M thinks it will be a bit of a vacation for Bond, but is quite wrong as Bond, capably assisted by his old friend, Quarry and new acquaintance, Honeychile Rider, must battle Dr. No on Crab Key, a small island off the coast of Jamaica. I'm enjoying very much so far; have read it once previously, but it still seems fresh and interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes, as I can't remember how it ends, either the movie or the book.

I'm also enjoying, about half way through, one of my Reading Group Challenge (12 + 2) books, Stephen Clarke`s 1000 Years of Annoying the French. A nice history light book, Clarke follows a variety of incidents, historical events where the French and British have been in conflict, along the way trying to dispel some myths that have arisen over time. I`m enjoying it very much, it flows nicely, Clarke provides a nice level of humour in his writing style, but at the same time is very informative in discussing each specific conflict. Starting with the Battle of Hastings in 1066, working through Joan of Arc, Napoleon and many other incidents, Clarke has created a well-crafted, interesting history. If you want to know who actually invented the guillotine or put the bubbles in champagne, plus sundry other facts and historical events, this is the book for you. I'm currently reading about Napoleon Bonaparte, the Emperor of France, his plans to invade Britain, his battles with Admiral Nelson. Great book.

I'm reading three books at the moment, trying to shuffle between them so each gets fair treatment. The Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles were written between 1954 and 1997 (released posthumously), with the original trilogy; The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers released between 1954 and 1959. The stories in the edition I have contain these three stories and I'm reading them as part of a Travel Thru Time genre challenge. From Apr - Jun we are reading stories from Ancient Times. I read the first book in the series back in my Public School days, but other than remembering the name, couldn't recall the story. I'm glad to have rediscovered it as I'm enjoying the first book very much. It follows Marcus Aquila as he travels through Valentia and Caledonia, trying to discover what really happened to the 9th Legion, his father's legion, which disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Supposedly a young adult story, I still find it readable for adults; a most enjoyable story so far. I'm looking forward to the next books as well, as they follow the Aquila family in these ancient times.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

A New Puppy and My May 2013 Focus Author

Introducing Bonnie

Well, after two+ years without a dog running around the house, the missus and I have taken the plunge and added a new puppy to our family. Bonnie is not a replacement in any way for our two previous companions, Norman and Nikki. They can't be replaced, but in a few short weeks, Bonnie, our new miniature Schnauzer pup has become an integral part of our family. She is a perky, friendly, active and loving little dog and we are growing very attached to her already.


That looks tasty
Bonnie does everything at full speed it seems, leaping off the deck instead of climbing down the steps. She loves exploring the yard, regularly bringing in leaves and pieces of wood in that she thinks she needs to share with us or just nibble on. She is hilarious. If you catch her, chewing on something, she automatically spits it out and looks at you all innocently. lol..

I didn't do it!

Yup, she's a funny thing. She has her favourite toys; as you can see from the picture; every morning she empties out her bin of toys so she can decide what to play with. And she loves to cuddle, loves that contact with a bit of warm skin. It's so nice having a puppy curled up beside us again. But she's got a surprise in store for her in Jun as her step-brother Clyde will be showing up to complete our household. That'll be interesting. Anyway, welcome to the family, Bonnie. You've brightened up our lives already.

May Focus Author - Ian Fleming

My focus author for May 2013 is English author Ian Fleming. Fleming was born in London and lived between 1908 and 1964. During the War, he was a Naval Intelligence Officer and he parlayed that experience into a successful writing career. Best known for his series of books featuring MI6  '00' spy, James Bond, he wrote 17 novels and short stories between 1953 and 1966.

I enjoyed the Bond novels and movies in my teens. I liked the adventure, the mystery and, of course, the sexy ladies. I was a teenager after all. :0). I read quite a few of the books at that time and over the years most, if not all, of the Bond films. Sean Connery will always be my favourite Bond, but the variety of actors who filled the role made it an interesting series. Each added his own particular style to the character. Amazing to me that today, the franchise is still going strong. Quality will tell, I guess.

Over the past few years, I`ve been acquiring the Pan series of paperback versions of the series. I like the covers, what can I say. I`ve read three of the series again and this month hope to read at least three more. I`m already well into Moonraker featuring arch-villain, Sir Hugo Drax. The story flows easily and Bond is a character that draws you in; cynical, hard, a skilled spy. Moonraker was published first in 1955, fitting I guess that it`s the one I`m starting May off with as I was born in 1955.
The Bond series featured the following novels -

Casino Royale (1953) - previously read (4 stars)
Live and Let Die (1954) - previously read (3 stars)
Moonraker (1955) - currently reading
Diamonds Are Forever (1956) - (don't yet have)
From Russia With Love (1957) - previously read (3 stars)
Dr No (1958) - next on the list to read
Goldfinger (1959) - I have
For Your Eyes Only (1960) - don't yet have
Thunderball (1961) - I have
The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) - I have
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963) - I have
You Only Live Twice (1964) - I have
The Man With Golden Gun (1965) - don't yet have
Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966) - I have

So, my plan is simple; starting with Moonraker, I'll work my way through the series and see where I end up at the end of the month. If you wish a summary of the books, this wiki page provides a nice break down of the books and story lines. I'm looking forward to refreshing my acquaintance with Bond's adventures. I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable month.

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