When only Death will do

Posted on 30 June 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , |

What happens when Death takes an apprentice? Thanks to Sir Terry Pratchett you can find out. Mort by Sir Terry Pratchett is the story of Death and his apprentice, Mort.

Mort is not very good at anything, he tends to think too much about things and his father takes him to the hiring fair on Hogswatch Eve in the hopes someone would pick him up as an apprentice, as it turns out that someone is Death. There are very few books where Death is an active participant and this is one of them. He talks slowly, in capitals and is trying to understand humans with very little success. On this night he comes down to the hiring fair and hires Mort. Everything is okay for a while until Death gives him a chance to work on his own for one night when his feelings get the better of him and he ‘kills’ the wrong person. History must be given an chance to work and so chaos ensues.

I love this book. I can see why my friends aren’t so excited about it as everything seems to work out for the best with Death manipulating time and the Gods to make certain. I have to admit to a certain amount of bias as I really like Death, he has a heart of gold and really means well, in this book we see him trying to understand fun and what it is we do in order to enjoy ourselves; it’s a nice unbiased look at people and questions why we do these things.

Terry Pratchett Challenge 2010

Terry Pratchett Challenge 2010

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Authors talk about death and illness

Posted on 7 June 2010. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , |

I was struggling to find something to write about tonight until I had a conversation with my friend, Mark, who mentioned Sara Douglass had been written up in The Sunday Times in Perth. You might remember Mark, he wrote about the tenth anniversary of Crusader. You can find the pdf of the article here.

Douglass is a very vocal person and brought up a wonderful topic for discussion. Basically, she’s dying of cancer and has been virtually deserted by so many people who do not know or understand how to deal with really bad ill health. They do not understand the pain levels and certainly do not understand the exhaustion levels. Douglas wrote about this on her blog and as at this time there are 81 comments. It is a very big topic and one I can totally relate to, not that I have cancer or any kind of illness such as that but I have had my share of health challenges and do have a number of allergies and intolerances. Whenever I’ve spoken of my health challenges over the years I’ve always felt that people don’t want to know the details and so I’ve picked up the habit of trying to only talk about them when it’s necessary, such as when ordering food. I can’t begin to understand how much harder it must be for someone like Douglass who needs to not only stop talking about it but also comfort those around her who are not sick.

I read a related article a while ago by Lionel Shriver who not only has her own health challenges but spent a lot of print time saying mea culpa. Her very good friend was dying and she kept on putting off contacting her as she couldn’t deal with her friend denying her impending death. I read that and thought, mea culpa I am guilty of the same thing. I do try, if I know someone is nearing death, to actually go and see them to make my goodbyes, but I have never said to them ‘what can I do for you?’ I have never asked them if there was anything I could do to make things easier for them and I rarely visit them before they get to that point.

In her blog Douglass apologises for being inconvenient and I have this to say to her. ‘Sara Douglas, I would love you to continue to be inconvenient, you have provoked much discussion and that is a healthy part of this society. You are a wonderful person and you have brought a very large problem to our notice, it is similar to the one I have been pondering since reading Lionel Shriver’s article and you have voiced everything I’ve been thinking and so much more. Not only that you have voiced it in much better language than I ever could. For that, I thank you.’

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Snailmail No More – Paula Danzier & Ann M. Martin

Posted on 8 June 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Snailmail No More by Paula Danziger and Ann M. Martin is about two teenage girls and their friendship. Tara has moved states while Elizabeth has moved houses due to her alcholic father. They start off by writing letters and when they both get computers they take the conversation to email. It’s a lovely book, easy to read and a little compulsive. I had trouble putting it down.

Tara and Elizabeth go through the highs and lows of being teenagers. They discuss boys, changes in their bodies and making new friends. They discuss Tara becoming a big sister and Elizabeth’s father.

Alcoholics and Alcoholism, and how it affects the family
Making new friends and incorporating them into your existing friendship group
Being different and still being friends
New baby in the family
Being grounded

You can find a copy of this book for sale here.

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Journey From Venice – Ruth Cracknell

Posted on 16 May 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Ruth Cracknell was born 6th July 1925 and died on 13th May 2002. She was a wonderful actress being most noted for playing Mrs Beare in Mother and Son. I remember as being a wonderful Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Ernest.

I’ve always been fascinated by her. I recall seeing her interviewed and wished I could have met her to ask her more questions, sadly that interview was played just after her death. The next best thing is to read her books. She has written several memoirs and I was lucky to get hold of a copy of Journey From Venice. This memoir is the story of her husband’s illness in Venice and subsequent death in Sydney.

The writing is compelling and honest. I feel as if I was there with her, I feel the streets of Venice, I feel the delight she feels at being there, but most of all I feel her emotion.  I cried buckets over those last few days in Venice and the evacuation of Eric (her husband) to Sydney. I’ve been crying more buckets of tears while reading the end of Eric’s life.  The illness was so totally devastating to Ruth, but she managed to pull herself together and keep going just for him.  She talks about times when she could just walk away and not come back, to stop herself doing that she doesn’t leave the room.  I love the way a person can be that devoted to someone else that they make themselves stay even though it hurts so much.

When Eric finally does die we get to see the whole process. With every other book I’ve read where someone dies we don’t get to see the emotions that go through the author when they have to call their children in and when their loved one finally does die, but Ruth has her heart totally on her sleeve and we see every single bit.  It must have hurt her again to write it down for us, but she did and in such a way that I believe it should remain a classic for all time.

I seriously loved this book.  I recommend it but I also recommend you have a box of tissues with you while reading.

Currently for sale on the Suz’s Space website.

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