Or should that be return from exile? I was going to add self-imposed but actually it wasn’t. I was exiled arbitrarily by Partner when he decided to accept the rubbish bin puppy the evening he was brought to visit us.
So, all Snowy posts wlll be over on Pippa’s blog, say a couple a week. Excerpts from Snowy’s Diary start from August when we took him, and continue to November. After that we’ll try and catch up in real time. If you don’t like dogs or puppies don’t visit. If you go ahhhh at silly puppy pix, there are plenty of those.
Spanish jab rules seem to be different to UK ones. I asked my neighbours about the timescale and it seemed to take longer for the whole lot to be completed. I had visions of being in Spain until Christmas or into the New Year.
His first jab was parvo. Then he had hardpad, distemper and another parvo.
Then we had to wait until he was three and a half months for his rabies jab and a chip. And another four weeks for his rabies booster. Which leaves him at four and a half months old before it is all completed.
But who’s complaining about three months in Spain? Not me. The weather has been a pain. It has been scorching until mid November, when the temps suddenly dropped to below 10 degrees. Thank goodness for that. Endless sunshine is so boring. We even had rain the other night.
Clothing now is jodhpurs, boots and grandma fleece jacket. Just as well, as I was recirculating the same pair of shorts for the best part of two and a half months, having originally come for a weekend.
For anyone not up on the plot, Partner decided it was time for another dog so that Pippa could educate a young one. Personally I think we should have had one six years ago when, Prince, the last of our Brit dogs died, but men have their quirks.
A couple of local attempts to home unwanted dogs disappeared into thin air, so we asked our vet. Within not very long I received an email from a woman who had found a puppy. Pedro, our vet, also sent us details of a Shar Pei cross but by then we had said we would take the pup unless anyone else wanted it.
Of course, there was the vaccination issue. We agreed that we would pay the vet if the Spanish woman would take him for jabs and chips. And then I sprained my ankle. Once I could stagger down the steps in our block we went back to Spain and agreed to see the pup, by then he was four or five weeks old.
So even though I couldn’t walk – hobbling around the finca barefoot – Partner cheerfully took said pup immediately. And thereby exiled me for three months.
Snowy is a Podenco. But you’ll have to read his diaries to find out more about him. Just one pic from me of us.
So I promised a summary of what I’ve been not doing for three months – apart from playing tugs and being bitten to death – which is gardening, reading, music, and cooking. Cleaning too but that’s of no interest to anyone, certainly not to me.
There is one good thing about having a sprained ankle. It is an extremely good excuse for doing nothing. As if I need one.
Let’s start with fantasy novels which I’m using as a very loose category. Basically anything that bears no resemblance to real life.
Harry Potter. J K Rowling
Title is irrelevant. Something Prince. Half Blood maybe. One of the later ones in the series.
I had colleagues at work 15 years ago who couldn’t wait to buy the latest book. I thought these were books for kids not 50-year-olds? (but read on for that).
Eventually I entered Potter’s World. Of Hogwhatsit. A Gib neighbour lent us a vid of the first film. It was quite enjoyable so when he gave us another (the second I think) we tried that too. Soporific or what? We looked at each other and ejected the DVD.
So with a Potter novel included in the pack of 70 free books we acquired I thought it would be an interesting read.
It seemed complicated. I had to keep back-tracking to check who was who and where they were and what they were doing. Too many characters. And just overly contrived. There seemed to be an awful lot of pages to say very little in the end.
Potter doesn’t get on with one of the teachers in the Magical Mystery School. The head loves him and takes him on a secret exped to hunt for some treasure that will counter baddies. The trainee magicians play a silly game on broomsticks which bored me to bits in the film and was no better in the book.
Score: 1/5. The book not the silly game.
I’ll read it again, maybe, but it totally failed to impress me and took days for me to read which isn’t the norm at all.
Let’s contrast it with Tolkien. The Two Towers. The second of the Ring trilogy.
I’ve not seen any of the films. I also shied away from Tolkien for years because the freaky names and strange small Hobbits sounded far too much like The Borrowers, which I loathed.
I’d had the idea of getting the first of the Ring books from the library to read them in sequence but in the end, I just started reading book two.
It didn’t take long for me to be engrossed. Entranced. Unputdownable. Hobbits, elves, dwarves, people, strange tree people. Brilliant.
If Potter was trying for magical enchantment, Rowling to me failed. But Tolkien succeeds beautifully.
The Two Towers is divided into two parts. The first part is full of lots of characters and lots of action. The little Hobbits are so cute.
I was wary about starting the second part, wanting to read more about the characters I had just met, whereas the second part is just Frodo and Sam, who didn’t even appear in the first part. But then Gollum appears. What an invention. I envision a cross between otter, weasel, who knows? He clearly has his own hidden agenda but the dialogue is brilliant.
‘Nice Hobbitses …. Nasty smart Hobbit’ (Sam). Frodo is idealistic and principled, Sam is pragmatic, but Gollum is the star for me. One of the best characters I have read for some time. The other one is Lynda La Plant’s DCI/DS James Langton.
But back to fantasy. Crime is for later. Far be it from me to accuse JKR of plagiarism. There are some odd similarities though. Good v evil. He who must not be named. Charms. Spells. Magic.
Anyway, Tolkien gets a top 5/5. Not an easy accolade from Roughseas. So if you want a good fantasy read that’s my top tip. If you like Narnia you will like this.
Back in May I mentioned the Twilight novels, but didn’t review them.
So, Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse, by Stephanie Meyer.
I do wish the neighbours upstairs who threw out 70+ books had included the fourth novel. I must hunt down Breaking Dawn.
So this is about the first three. And I don’t want any comments about the last one thank you very much.
I haven’t seen the films. I would never have picked up the books had they not been chucked out and free.
So, on second time of reading, what did I think? Because I have re-read them in exile. More than once.
Well, plot: basic. Teenage girl meets teenage vampire (who is obviously much older being a vampire) and they fall in love.
Our heroine, Bella, is slightly hard to believe. As soon as she knows that our hero, Edward, is a vampire, she wants to become one too. Naturally she isn’t frightened of him.
Our hero, Edward, is even harder to believe. Perfect. Sort of. Personally I found him a bossy, over-controlling arrogant sort of git. Devoid of emotion and cold as stone.
And how could anyone want to embrace, kiss, have sex with someone who is hard and freezing cold? Whacky.
Next there is the second love interest. Jacob, the soon to be werewolf. He doesn’t start off as one but it doesn’t take long. This is useful in terms of plot because vamps and wolves aren’t exactly the best of pals.
So Bella has a vampire and a werewolf in love with her, plus the odd few human males who are interested and don’t get a look in.
I like the Jacob character. He seems more real and honest and not preserved behind a stone-cold facade. I’d have gone for him. Plus he is like a big shaggy dog when he turns into a wolf.
Anyway various other vamps want to kill our heroine and everyone comes to her rescue.
Oh and natch, hero and heroine and second love interest all have big fall outs.
So there you have it. Three books of five or six hundred pages in a nutshell.
But – and this is the but – immensely readable. Interestingly the secondary characters are better, so Jacob the werewolf, and Alice, another vampire in Edward’s ‘family’, are really well drawn and totally plausible. As plausible as vamps and werewolves are.
Perhaps I was just drawn to the wolves. I wouldn’t have been drawn to the vamps as they don’t kill humans. Only animals when they are hungry. They are nice vamps. Sort of. Just as well Bella wasn’t vegetarian.
Not only that, these vamps don’t sleep in coffins. They don’t sleep at all. I think that would be the clincher for me. No sleeps? Get out of it.
To finish off the vamps and wolves. I probably think Eclipse is the best of the ones I have read. Or at least the most emotive. I cried. I didn’t cry when Edward (shithead) left her, or when they reunited, but when Jacob lopes off into the forest because she is going to marry the horrible vamp, I thought it was so sad. He looked after her when she was depressed after Edward left and was always there for her, and yet she can’t resist the lure of the beautiful vamp.
It was especially sad when she said she could see a normal life with Jacob and wanted that, but not enough to give up the nasty vamp. I mean really who, in their right mind, would want to be poisoned with vampire venom, be in agony for days, and spend the next few years lusting for blood? And then go hunting animals for eternity. And not sleep. Bizarre.
Yet, the first book is also good, the second one has hundreds of pages without Edward, but Jake (the werewolf) fills the gap, which is why it is so sad that the silly heroine goes running after nasty vamp at first opportunity.
I do wonder too though, when adults write novels as teenagers if we project our own experiences onto them. Because Bella in Twilight seems incredibly capable, as obviously does Harry Potter and half his gang. Bella comes in from school, goes shopping for food, puts the steak to marinate, puts the potatoes in the oven, and later makes a salad to go with it all. Meanwhile, in her spare time, she is diligently doing her homework. Really?
Score: 3.5/4.5 OK, make that a 4 but bear in mind that it is so-called teenage genre. But they read like adult novels. Hence a 50+ year-old enjoying them.
But onto other fantasy novels. I have also noticed that people growl and murmur a lot in these sort of books that involve sexual innuendo. Or say things softly.
When I was a trainee journo I tried to vary my words. ‘Nothing wrong with said,’ said a bossy senior reporter. So said it was.
But the growls and murmurs stand out. As does the basic format/plot.
Here’s another novel, totally different in setting, but plot is the same. Maybe not novel, but rather more trash romance.
Ribbons and Rawhide by Lisa Dane. Classic Mills and Boon formula. (M&B is soppy romance drivel for non-Brit readers).
Beautiful woman meets handsome man in unlikely circumstances. They are from different backgrounds, loathe each other on sight, and end up in bed. I should be careful before I dismiss this plot because my partner and I were from different backgrounds, I wasn’t exactly impressed with him, and we ended up …. However we were just average looking.
I lumped this one in with the fantasy novels, because I do think boy meet girl stories are just unreal. In both this one and Twilight, the woman wants to have sex and the man wants commitment. Well, I tell you, I have yet to meet the man who insists on commitment to a permanent relationship before he will have sex with you. Or maybe American men/vampires are different.
‘Hello Roughseas, I’d really like to have sex with you.’
‘Mmm, I’m interested too.’
‘Well, if that’s what you want, you just have to marry me first/agree to a permanent relationship and come and live with me. Then we can have sex.’
Er, I don’t think so.
Apart from the fairly obvious dialogue, the growls, murmurs, softly spoken words etc, and the predictable plot, there is some interesting history about ghost towns in Arizona.
My geographical knowledge of the USA has increased no end since reading about Forks and the Olympic peninsula (Twilight) and the Arizona ghost towns.
R&R is slightly more raunchy than Mills and Boon, although M&B may have moved on. Words like crap, shit and damn are scattered around, plus our heroine is no virgin and she is desperate to shag the handsome hero (the one with the unbelievable principles).
If you like romantic reads with some interesting background, ie the ghost town history, then Ribbons and Rawhide isn’t a bad read.
Score, given what it is, 3.5/5. If nothing else these sort of books are good for half an hour’s read before going to sleep. Totally non-taxing and no nasty nightmares about spliced nipples shoved wherever – but that review is for another post.
Update on Gib on next post. First Snowy diary over at pippadogblog