Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - How to be Normal by Guy Browning

Hey everyone! So, I've got a bunch of books to read for my class, but I'm guessing no one wants to see a Japanese teaser about the third industrial revolution.

So instead, I'm sharing a book that I found on Scribd and read a few pages of in the train. It's the latest book by Guy Browning, and considering that I loved his previous two books (I love his sense of humour!), I'm super excited about the fact that he's writing more of this!

So, from How to Be Normal:
"One of the reasons Americans can seem overly jolly is because they all have good teeth and don't mind displaying them. British teeth have been rotten for centuries and, as a smile was often like lifting a drain cover, we developed a stiff upper lip instead." 

I don't know about you, but I chuckled at this teaser (The column is called "How to Smile")

What is your teaser?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr

So lately, I've been in a bit of reading slump. One of my seminars has monthly book reports (multiple books), and reading three Japanese books in three days basically killed all my drive I had to read. Really. All I was reading, for a time, were comics (thankfully, there's Scribd). It wasn't until I picked up this book that the reading slump was broken, and I managed to finish the book (in about two days, so I'm closer to form).

This book has two components: One follows the case of Joseph Vacher, a serial killer akin to Jack the Ripper (I believe he's called the French Ripper). The other follows Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne and his colleagues, detailing how the created the field known as forensic science. The two characters don't actually meet until near the end of the book, but their stories are told simultaneously. So you have alternating chapters, one about a criminal, and one about a crime-fighter. It could have been jarring, but I didn't really mind. In fact, the author managed to link the two stories by showing how the new methods were or were not used.

Towards the end of the book, it moves away from the story of forensics into the story of the insanity plea. Vacher tried to convince the court that he was insane at the time of the murders, and Dr. Lacassagne tried to do the opposite. Personally, I don't believe Vacher was insane. I think he was a person who, after being jilted and without a job, gave in to the voice of evil and started killing. I don't think he was insane in the sense that he did not know he was committing a crime and thus not legally responsible.

Another aspect of the book I thought interesting was when it explored the lives of those who were falsely accused of being killers. We might think that the internet age is the age that never forgets, but that's not true. Many of the people falsely accused had their reputations ruined for good, and they had to move away for face mob justice. Even the sentencing of Vacher didn't change things, and the families of some victims insisted that this other guy was the real killer.

This is contradictory, but I thought the book was both morbid and hopeful. It's morbid because, hey, it's a story about a serial killer who struck at random and killed many innocents. How much sunshine and rainbows can you put into a story like that? But, it's hopeful because it showed the birth of forensic science, and that there are people in this world who will fight against the monsters.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Once Upon A Time by Marina Warner

This is one of those missed-on-Netgalley-because-it-got-archived books. Thankfully, the Singapore library had it.

Once Upon A Time is subtitled "a short history of the fairy tale". It's not a chronological history, per se, but looks at different areas. For example, the feminist interpretation of the fairy tale, the people who collected and translated the fairy tales, whether the stories are rooted in reality, illustrations and so on and so forth. In a way, it's a brief analysis of different aspects of the fairy-tale. 

Unlike The Irresistible Fairy-Tale by Jack Zipes,  I had no problems with boredom during this book. This could be, however, due to the fact that I read a print copy of Once Upon A Time, while The Irresistible Fairy-Tale was in ebook. I like ebooks, but I find that for certain topics, my attention seems to wander away (and those topics tend to be "denser" ones). 

While this book is short, it seems to require a wide knowledge of the fairy-tale genre. Authors like Angela Carter and Jack Zipes are referred to quite often (among the host of other authors referred to), as well as a wide array of fairy-tales. However, these tales don't come with a summary (if they did, the book would probably be four times in size), and so, if you don't actually know the fairy-tale, you may get lost. I certainly did, a few times, and it made me want to read more fairytales (I hesitate to admit this, but I've not read Andrew Lang). 

In addition, the book focuses mainly on Western fairy-tales. One Thousand and One Nights is mentioned a few times (as an influence), and I'm pretty sure I saw a mention of the Chinese version of Cinderella (maybe?), but other than that, it's rooted firmly in the west. Anyone know a good book that talks about Asian fairy-tales? 

I think this book is a summary of the study of fairy-tales. It may be good as a starting or ending point (to find out what to read, or to connect all the dots), but it is certainly not a comprehensive look at fairytales. In fact, I think you should have read at the very least Grimms Fairy-Tales as well as Mother Goose and a few others first, or you may get lost halfway through. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr

So it's Tuesday again. Lately, I've been in kind of a reading slump - I have so many Japanese books to read, I end up not wanting to read at all, not in English or Japanese. Anyway, I'm hoping this week's book can break the slump.

The Killer of Little Shepherds is a non-fiction story about the French version of Jack the Ripper and how forensic science came about (like what the subtitle says). I like Bones and CSI, so I'm hoping this gets me all the way through the end, and I can go back to reading at my usual pace instead of spending my commute playing games on the phone.

Teaser:
"Friar Brûlé straightened the clothing to restore the girl's modesty and cover her ghastly wounds. Someone, apparently, had stolen her shoes." 

What is your teaser this week?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!