Lizards & baseball & witches. Oh my.

I said I’d do a catch-up kind of post, didn’t I? Best laid plans and all that.

Have a picture of a lizard, by way of apology.

That’s admittedly not the one which fell on my head while I was on holiday – but I can assure you that one did. It made a sort of rubbery, splatty noise, and I’m not sure which one of us was more startled. We both went on to make a full recovery.

And yes. I went on holiday. To what I can only describe as a version of the Lost island without the Others or the Smoke Monster.

Sadly, no Sawyer either. Boo. I know. I was as disappointed as you are.

What it did have, though, was a lot of sunshine – and a proper beach and a ridiculously clear sea: the kind you always imagine is made up. (Put it this way: the sea around Brighton Pier doesn’t look quite like that, more’s the pity…)

We were staying on the wrong side of the island to see the sunset (this place is a nature reserve, with only a small village of about 130 people all of whom are involved in protecting the biodiversity of the the island, and a hotel – the rooms spread along the beach in individual villas) but the skies were still pretty impressive.

You can see the next island to the north in that photo.

I basically had to be removed from the porch of the hotel kicking, screaming and shouting “I don’t want to leeeeeave!” at the end of the holiday. Because I didn’t. I could’ve stayed there forever, especially given my joy at discovering there’s nothing about Creole food I don’t like.

Also, my poor husband had to put up with me merrily singing the Red Dwarf theme most mornings at breakfast, from behind a glass of mango juice. Because I am an enormous geek.

Anyway. The important bit is what I read while I was there – which boiled down to the second and third books of The Dark Tower (yes, I still love Roland. Hush now), The Art of Fielding, Hollow Pike and The Testimony.

The Dark Tower books need no introduction – and nor does my response to them – so I’ll leave it at saying my devotion to the series and the characters is still going strong… and I’m onto book 4.

I’d been looking forward to “The Art of Fielding” for a while. It’s a little-known fact that I’m actually a fan of baseball. I don’t follow it much these days, so I haven’t the faintest idea what’s going on or who’s who, but I used to be crazy about it when I was in my early teens, and your first loves leave a lasting impression. (Chicago White Sox, thanks for asking. I know, I know.) So imagine my joy: a baseball novel which requires me to bring nothing in terms of knowledge to the table other than the slightly iffy, second-hand snippets I managed to glean half a lifetime ago, and have largely forgotten… and my affection. Because the book’s not about baseball at all. Well – that’s an overstatement. It is about baseball, but it’s also about hope and despair and family and relationships and friendships and ambition and… things.

I think we rather take this kind of novel for granted in the genre world: we tend to expect that yes, Book A says it’s about dragons, but technically, it’s about the War on Terror. Or something. We expect books to be metaphorical, to a degree. But that’s another story – literally.

Another of my holiday reads was “Hollow Pike” by James Dawson, which I absolutely flew through. It’s a pacy YA book involving witches and the creepy local woods, and it’s really quite unsettling at times. It’s also tremendous fun, and has some great characters and a lot of atmosphere. Also, I want to live in the house that Lis, the protagonist, moves to. Preferably without all the nightmares and the murder and stuff, though. Just saying.

“The Testimony” took me longer, partly because the narrative structure’s more challenging. As the title implies, it’s a testimony – different people all telling their version of the same event – the burst of static and a voice which is heard by (almost) all of humanity one day – and what comes after. I’ve always been a sucker for a big-scale disaster movie (things like The Towering Inferno) and in a lot of ways, that’s what “The Testimony” reminded me of as it wove different characters and plot threads together. It’s fantastic. And terrifying, in the best possible way.

Any of those books, if you’re looking for some holiday reading, will see you right. Although if you’re reading book 2 of The Dark Tower, I advise you give the seafood a miss (I’ll be regarding lobster with a slightly cautious eye for a while, I think), and if you give “The Testimony” a whirl, you may well find yourself freaking out when someone accidentally switches on the PA in the airport and transmits a load of white noise. Hypothetically speaking. Because I totally didn’t freak out. Not a bit. Uh-uh. Nope.

God help me if I have to go through a forest any time soon…

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2 comments

  1. I envy you, Lou. Why? Because Dark Tower IV (Wizard and Glass) is the BEST and anyone who says otherwise is WRONG. That is all.

    PS Glad you had a good holiday!

    1. I’m certainly loving it so far! Young Roland’s amazing 🙂 I know lots of people aren’t sure about it, but I was actually very fond of The Gunslinger – I liked the glimpses of the world we get in that one.

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