Friday, July 6, 2012

Three's Company

Ever read two books at the same time? How about three? I've been afflicted with a bit of ADD lately. I can't seem to stick to a single title. That's probably why I'm taking so long to put reviews up. So I've decided to just sod it all and write about them all -- one on the train to work, another on the train home and the third just before bed.

Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan 
You may remember young Percy from a post I put up a few weeks ago -- Demigod for Dummies? Well, I'm back to reading the second in the series (skipped the first one because I've read it several times, not to mention, watched the awful movie -- thrice). It's fast paced though a tad childish. But who cares? Percy and his friend Annabeth are accompanied by a new character, Tyson, on a quest to find the mythical Golden Fleece. To do so they must tread into the dangerous waters of The Sea of Monsters. It's a dreadful place, or at least that's what people think, because whoever enters here, goes off all nautical radars and never returns. Sound familiar? (*Cough Bermuda Triangle Cough*). Limiting this book to one 45-minute commute has been tough. What with all the awesome encounters you're privy to -- a blind Cyclops who think's a Satyr is his bride, a Hippocampi named Rainbow who saves our heroes from peril and an exchange with the God of thieves himself, Hermes (he invented the internet, you know?)
If You Can't Stand the Heat (Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop) by Robin Allen
Light reading. That's what you need at rush hour after a really hard day at work and your feet are so tired you're ready to drop. Poppy Markham comes to my rescue every evening! Narrated in first person, the book starts on a fateful (and tense in the kitchen, fun in the dining room) night at Markhams, an upscale restaurant in Texas, that's hosting Michelin star chef, Évariste Bontecou. He has a bad attitude, you realise instantly, even worse than Ursula, head chef of Markham's and Poppy's step-sister. When he's found dead with a knife through his chest, Poppy is shocked, but not surprised. The next thing she knows her father's landed in hospital and her step sister's in jail. The language of the book is crisp, the dialogue is funny and the narrative is as smooth and tangy as lemon butter. I also love how it has potential to be a romantic comedy -- love triangles, heart breaks, cute gay men living next door -- but sticks to it's genre, culinary fiction. It also has all these cool facts in it about the kitchen -- chefs bring their own knives to work and hide them in large pots and pans, it's illegal to cook a rooster that's been in a cockfight, one evening inside a commercial kitchen can ruin your manicure. I'm almost halfway through and seriously can't wait to see how the mystery pans out.

The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl
I'd bought this book years ago when I didn't know that Dahl was more than just chocolates and Giant Peaches. I guess there's something about seeing one of your favourite children's author's names on a black cover with an exposed brain on it. It's a collection of the author's short stories from three titles -- Kiss Kiss, Switch Bitch and Someone Like You. Over the years, I've read through them in an assorted manner when I've been in the mood for a good chill down my spine. But only recently did I decide to read it in sequence from cover to cover. I'm still on Kiss Kiss so that's what I'll limit this to. Think you're a good person? A model citizen? A good husband, wife, friend? Then you're no different from Dahl's characters in stories like The Landlady, Georgy Porgy and William and Mary. But when you stop to consider what you would do if you found yourself in an uncomfortable situation -- a husband dies, leaving his brain functional and in the care of science, women from a parish try to molest a man with Mommy issues, a desperate father tries to save his baby with Royal Jelly, a landlady has a very eerie predisposition towards taxonomy -- you realise that Dahl is a writer who pens from his sub-conscious mind. Is it crazy that I've been sleeping like a baby since I started reading his works as bed-time stories?

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