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Fire & Fury: Michael Wolff

I wrote this back in 2018, as one of the first random books that I’d read and wanted to talk about. I had hoped to find people who also had read or even those who had views which were different to mine but sadly, no-one stepped forward so I’m going to assume that this will be the same. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts, if only to expand on my views.

I’ll be honest, the thought of a President Trump both terrifies me and saddens me, the loss of what was one of the most “grown – up” positions on this planet and the lowering of standards to his level for me is a real disappointment.

So, when I heard that this book was coming out, and the furore 45 had over it and it’s publication, I actually rushed out to buy it.

I should say that as UK citizen, I really should have no opinion over who or what is happening elsewhere but a few years ago I fell into the West Wing TV show, and although I know it’s a drama series, I fell in love with both the writing, the cast and the way the Americans do things. I set about trying to educate myself about the way that their Politics works and have often had to call a (republican) friend of mine to have things explained to me. But I do believe that from my reading and the views/morals I have, I would say, if asked, that I was a Democrat.

I’ve never really seen such vitriol as I saw in 2016, I am lucky that on various travels I have met both Dems and Republicans and unfortunately, every time, the Republicans I have met have, not necessarily, offended me, but they have given across viewpoints/arguments which I just do not understand. Things like “Guns should be available for everyone” seem ok, but then when there’s no regulation/background checks or that kind of thing, it baffles me. Or Roe v Wade (which I always thought was decent and fair) is now being chipped away at so that a woman no longer has the choice of what happens to her body. I love my American friends but unfortunately, I don’t understand them.

Anyway, in the run up to 2016’s election, I was most obviously on the side of the Dems. I don’t think Hillary would have been the best choice, but then, I didn’t think Trump had a chance in HELL of getting in, I mean, people wouldn’t vote for an orange, offensive, rude, unkind, uncaring, trigger happy Tv personality, would they? Being woken up by my love with the words “The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Orange” brought my certainty crashing down and to be honest, I’ve been in an ever increasing downwards spiral of disbelief ever since.

With that in mind, when I read about the book coming out, I think I already knew what it would be like, I wouldn’t know the ins and outs but I would get the general feeling from it about the man and his family and his Presidency which I felt I knew.

I’ve tried to write this with no spoilers, so there isn’t going to be quotes, passages or snippets from the book itself, this is just going to be an overview, and from my point of view.

A few things that occured to me whilst reading this book, which I sort of knew before but have had clarified:

He isn’t a man for the people -I mean, look at the attacks made on disabled people, women, gays, Mexicans – we should all be able to see he doesn’t care but despite that, I know some people who are in this group who DID vote for him (another thing that baffles me and still she has not explained what made her do what she did – I should add she has since renounced that vote but still). I suppose what I would like, ideally, is to understand “why?” Was it a rebellion vote, to try and break the cycle of Politician after Politician, was it that people thought despite the way he acted, the staff around him would be able to control him or was it just buying in to what they got told?

**In the above, I GENUINELY do not want to start fights, but if anyone reading this is a Trump voter, I’d love to hear from you, so longs as it’s adult, non offensive and an airing of both points of view. I’ve been contacted enough by Trolls and people who just want to be abusive but that’s not what i’m after, clarification is what I need.. **

I suppose for me, the most disappointing thing was that the hype surrounding the book’s subject matter means that the author doesn’t really need to work hard to create this story. I mean, if he knows everyone hates the subject matter, to make the subject deplorable isn’t that hard. I did want to glean some info about those around him, to see and hopefully build hope that this madness can be contained, and that the people around him understand the seriousness of the role they have been given.

Overall this book was boring for me to read. I’m not kidding, I read like Johnny 5 and this book, well, I got about 3/4 way through and then it took me 8 weeks to pick the book up again and finish it. I think in that 8 weeks I read 6 (or 7) other books and I actively had to make myself pick up Fire and Fury and continue it. Just to get it done.

I suppose that the hype around the book was what drew me to it, I did learn things from the book which surprised me but I think the overall depression I see every day on the news and social media and the fact that this nightmare doesn’t seem to be ending and I didn’t want that in my reading as well as every part of my life.

It will be interesting to see where this goes, there are characters within this who have now been fired/quit and therefore it’d be fascinating to hear their sides of the same story. In much the same way as I want to speak with republicans and Trump voters, I’d love to be able to hear from those who worked for him, who supported him, who though Team Trump was a good idea. Mostly to try and understand but also to see if they still feel the same way as they did before this all started.

So, I’m sorry if my thoughts and views offended anyone, if you are, please, contact me and let us have a chat, i’m always open to others views and would love to speak with people who live there and deal with this every single day.

Hogfather: Sir Terry Pratchett

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“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers?”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET— Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME . . . SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.

I love the above lines, they are possibly some of my favourite everyday and most definitely from my favourite Christmas themed novel. I re read this book every year and love it!

I think it’s a great story, even for those who are not into either Christmas or Kids things (so, pretty much me then!) it’s festive, fun and once again STP has managed to catch the mood and idea and weave it through the story, so you start of reading about 1 thing, which leads you to another, which segues into another and then finally, you understand what’s going on – plus I also spend a lot of time being sent off to the dictionary, or some kind of encyclopedia so I actually learn a lot when reading his stories too.

This book in typical Disc fashion, zooms from one place to another & one time to another at a sometimes breathless speed, calling in on favourite characters and also fleshing out some other minor characters. It both deeply respects but also makes a mockery of the Christmas that everyone knows and loves and as far as i’m concerned, shines a light on some of the flaws we all have.

I know it’s now after the festive period that i’m updating this but if you haven’t read it, I’d suggest popping to your local library and seeing if you can get it. Well worth it.

I also have the DVD but I honestly would recommend reading the book first, as this has a lot more information and nuance which is missed out (probably inevitably) within the film. – plus, all books are better than the film versions * If you disagree, tell me your thoughts in the comments, am always happy to have a new book/film to watch! Anyway, I digress…..

My favourite character in this book is DEATH, a 7 foot tall anthropomorphic skeleton who is fascinated with humanity, fascinated yet confused and trying to make sense of us all. His exploration into the minds of humans always makes me think and if there is such a thing as Death (the Grim reaper or whatever you would rather call him), Sir Terry has taken a lot of my fear of him away.

In Hogfather, Pratchett has finally achieved what I have sometimes found lacking in the other books written around this time: a perfect balance between the storylines. There is just the right amount of wizard comedy, lots of  time dedicated to Death and Susan grappling with what it means to be human and normal respectively, truly stellar worldbuilding, and big questions on the nature of belief and the holiday spirit that will stay with me for a very long time. I have mentioned in my other Discworld reviews that Pratchett is a philosopher and a humanist, and this is where all his views and ideas come together to form a book that is both light and heavy at the same time. Not an easy feat, and making it look effortless is the sign of a truly gifted writer. Whether you’re looking for a fun romp or a thought-provoking exploration of what it means to have faith, Pratchett’s got you covered.

There are so many great moments in this book, I don’t even know where to start. Every time you think to yourself, “wow, this is my favourite part,” Pratchett fires something new at you and raises the bar a little bit higher again (“no, wait, this is the best part”). Pascal’s Wager jokes! Susan making her way through a children’s drawing! The Death of Rats hiding on top of a Hogswatch tree! Hex writing out a letter to the Hogfather! Alfred throwing snowballs at two grumpy angels! Death saves the little match girl!

Hogfather is an incredibly fun ride and I can’t wait to reread and relive it all over again next year. And the year after, and the year after……ad infinitum.

The Journey Begins

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Well Hello & Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Books have always been an escape for me, a freedom from the world which isn’t always particularly nice and a good way to hide from responsibility! I think i’ve always been obsessed with the written word, the way people can form ideas, descriptions, pictures and simply transport me away from the real world is a real talent – one I don’t have but one I am very willing to learn from. I can remember my mum talking about me as a child being so into reading that I would read everything, ingredient lists, the paper, her books and novels – ok so Stephen King at 8 or 9 may not have been the best, but at least neither of them every told me I couldn’t read something so I’ve never held with “reading ages” or specific genre snobbery. I’m just happy to be able to read and relish.

I decided to start this as I’ve started blogging more (see my other page – halfbakedproductions.blog for more random non book related stuff) and given my obsession with reading, this seemed like a logical leap to take.

I’m starting with a reading challenge (see below) but am also looking for suggestions, inspiration and introductions to new authors so if you see something or have someone in mind that you’re burning to share, please do – EVERY suggestion welcome.

So yes, thank you for joining me and welcome to this new adventure, I’m hoping that 2019 will be fun, cozy and book filled.

READING CHALLENGE 2019

Upcoming reads

I’ve started (as those who’ve read my previous posts) a reading challenge for the year but until I managed to actually get my ass down to the local library I’m going to read as much as possible and try to push me out of my standard reading comfort zone.

My mum and dad bought me for Christmas a copy of one of the Terry Pratchett books I hadn’t actually read yet, the Long Earth series is amazing but very different to the Disc and to be honest, silly though it may sound I’ve always been a bit worried to read it. I love the Disc for it’s whimsy, for the way he looked at the world and held up a mirror to the world and for the way it ALWAYS felt comfortable, and safe. I’m not sure the Long Earth is like that as the writing was shared with Stephen Baxter (someone I have never read) but I’m quite looking forward to the challenge and also to have some Pratchett I’ve never read.

I (in the same vein) also have bitten the bullet and started reading the last 5 books in the Discworld (the Tiffany Aching series) which until now has always brought me to tears to even consider actually reading. I always put it off because I feel I’d have no more Terry, ever again and that thought really scared me, I mean, I KNOW that sounds foolish but that’s the truth, I feel scared to not have that kind of safety coming ever again. But after enough time – and being told by enough people that reading the books are the point of it all. He would be happy to know i’m still reading which I suppose does make sense but we shall see how long they take me!! I’ve read the first two now but will have a bit of a gap before cracking on with the third, I am aiming that this blog isn’t totally Terry centric…….wish me luck!

I popped back into my office today to run a report and to find that someone had left a book on my desk for me to read and see if I liked, I’m not sure about it yet but I’m very much looking forward to amending my reading habits abit over the year and seeing what other Genres I find which might consume me as much.

I will read and then spend some time thinking about my views but I will do my best to do as many reviews as possible. Probably not ridiculously in depth but definitely I’m always up for new books, new challenges and if there’s things you’ve always wanted to know about a book and I read it (or you suggest it) please, drop me a line.

Genuinely, if people have suggestions, let me know in the comments and who knows, if you send me interesting ideas, you might pass on a new love to me 🙂