Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle de Jour

A collection of blogs from an anonymous 20-something London Call Girl. If you enjoy reading a diary style book this is for you. Lots of extra bits, the lists are hilarious. It's the blog of Belle who couldn't find a job after University, accidentally got paid for a sexual encounter and realised she could make a living doing something she enjoys!

Belle's blog switches seamlessly between on-the-job stories and her personal life, its almost like reading observational comedy with advice and tips:
"A few things I have learnt on the job: Fact. In a world of twelve-year-olds in sexy boots and grannies in sparkly mini dresses the surest way to tell the prostitute walking into a hotel at Heathrow is to look for the lady in the designer suit."

I thought it was well written, Belle is intelligent, insightful, erotic and witty - she has a dark sense of humour I related to. I have no moral objections to the subject matter but realise it won't be to everyone's taste. It is graphic in parts although I found Belle's personal relationships more distasteful and flat than her working life! It is light hearted entertainment, this is not a memoir about a victim that is helpless or exploited. The anonymous feel of the blog entries appealed to me.

Belle is an independant woman, very much a female of her generation. I found myself thinking this book would have been subject to censorship and a lot of judgement 20 years ago. The nature of a weblog automatically moves it outside any type of decency parameters set by society because of the subject matter. It's interesting that I just accepted buying the book (and watching the tv series) and didn't give it a second thought. It wasn't until I got a strange look on the bus as I was reading it that it registered how taboo, or distasteful, some may find a book about prostitution.

I watched the first series of the UK drama based on this book, Billie Piper was great as Belle. The book was more "real", Belle is a call girl on the high priced side of the road - the tv series is more high-high priced, Belle is more of a courtesan. The to-camera speeches seemed unnecessary but probably helped it to retain the diary structure of the book.

The UK press did a lot of investigative/tabloid stories trying to uncover who Belle is, one story I read said the author was male. My gut instinct is the author is a female. There was also controversy about the authenticity of the blog, probably after the James Frey debacle. I don't really care if it's true or false, it entertained me!

In summation I give it 3 stars out of 5. Amusing but not earth-shattering, a great book to read in one sitting or in small doses because of its diary-like nature. I'll probably read the second book "Further Adventures of a London Call Girl". I've passed the book onto Penny, hopefully she'll add her impressions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's me

Hey, in case you were wondering who Chocks is, it's me, Niki. I think the choice of name is self evident :-).

Will post soon about the book I have just finished!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ancestor by Scott Sigler

I have moved to Melbourne. I've got a new city to explore, a new hobby (knitting to keep warm in winter), a new computer game (Warhammer Online), a new home, a new job and it's keeping me pretty busy. I haven't found a lot of time for reading and I'm really only getting through two pages a night before I fall asleep, drooling onto the open page. However I have found a way to fullfil my literary needs, I have discovered audiobooks and serialised pod novels and am enjoying them immensly.

Ancestor by Scott Sigler is a sci fi (or skiffy as I've started hearing it called lately) podcast only novel by an American author. It's a fast paced romp into a gun toteing world of greedy corporate America. The overreaching plot is the race to perfect the xenotransplantation of animal organs into humans to make gross amount of cash off the poor dying public of the world.

The story has many plots and not all of them are well covered. At first there is the concern of disease crossing from animal to human because of the experimentation. That is quickly over taken by the horror of a man made genetic throwback, created so that the evil multi-national company has full control over the patent of the product, turns out to be more than they bargained for. The animal breaks loose and starts eating innocent farmers and scientists.

So that's about it, sounds pretty uninteresting and this could be one for the boys. This is not the book to listen too to change your life, this is total escapism and a bit of adventure to take your mind off whatever troubles you.

I would give it 2 out of 5. One to listen to and forget as you go for a jog (or a slow meander).

If you're interested in Sci Fi or Fantasy I would suggest PodCastle and Escape Pod for 30 to 50 minute Fantasy or Science Fiction brought to you free weekly. If you're interested in longer novels there is a heap for free at Podiobooks and I'm a member of Audible where you can pay a monthly subscription of about $10 and get access to one quality audiobook a month (or more if you care to pay) from a selection of thousands.

Much Love Girls. Wishing you all the best from the south.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blog guidelines

- Use the book name and author as the title of your post.
- Start with a short summary of the book - don't give away the ending!
- Why did you choose to read this book? Is it an old favourite or a new discovery?
- Did you love it or hate it? Give it a star rating, 1 to 5.
1= not good, 5=outstanding.

Information to consider including in your review and get you thinking:

- How does the title relate to the book?
- A favourite quote from the book.
- Did it stay with you long after you'd finished or make you think about the topic in a new way?
- Analyse the themes of the book. What are the the important themes of a book and consider what premise the author started with. What themes - motherhood, self-discovery, wilderness, etc. - recur throughout the book? How does the author use these themes? Do they work?
- Get to know the characters. Think of them as you do the people around you. Think about their faults and their motives. What would it be like to interact with them? Is the tone and style of their dialogue authentic? How believable are the characters? Which character do you identify with? Is it possible to identify with any of these characters? Is the protagonist sympathetic or unsympathetic? Why?
- Notice the structure of the book. Sometimes an author uses the structure of the book to illustrate an important concept or to create a mood. Notice how the author structured the book.
- Are chapters prefaced by quotes? If so, how do they apply to the content of the chapters?
- How many narrators tell the story? Who are they?
- How does the sequence of events unfold to create the mood of the story? Is it written in flashbacks? Does the order the author chose make sense to you?
- Make comparisons to other books and authors. Compare the book to others by the same author, or to books by other authors that have a similar theme or style. Often, themes run through an author's works that are more fully realized by comparison. Comparing one author's work with another's can help you solidify your opinions, as well as define for you qualities you may otherwise miss.
- What types of symbolism are in this novel? What do these objects really represent? How do characters react to and with these symbolic objects?Think about the broader social issues that this book is trying to address. For example, what does the author think about anarchy versus capitalism as a means of life? How is a particular culture or subculture portrayed? Favourably? Unfavourably?
- How does the arrangement of the book help or detract from the ideas in the novel? Does the arrangement contribute to themes or symbols? How is the book structured? Flashbacks? From one or multiple points of view? Why do you think the author chose to write the book this way?
- Does this book fit into or fight against a literary genre? How does the author use [science fiction, humor, tragedy, romance] to effect in the novel? Does this book typify a regional (southern, western) novel? How?
- How does this book relate to other books you have read?
- Would this book make a good movie? Is there a film adaptation of this book? How does the film compare to the book? What is brought out or played down in the film version?
- Is the setting of the book important to the theme? Why? How realistic is the setting?
- What did the author attempt to do in the book? Was it successful? What is the author's worldview?
- Were the plot and subplots believable? Were they interesting? What loose ends, if any, did the author leave?
- What is the great strength - or most noticeable weakness - of the book?
- Don't be afraid to criticize a book but try to get beyond the 'I just didn't like it' statement. What was it about the book that made it unappealing? The style? The pacing? The characters? Has the author written other books that you liked better? Did it remind you of another book that you liked or disliked?