The Call Of The Wild by Jack London

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“Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time. This he had never experienced at Judge Miller’s down in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley. With the Judge’s sons, hunting and tramping, it had been a working partnership; with the Judge’s grandsons, a sort of pompous guardianship; and with the Judge himself, a stately and dignified friendship. But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse.”

A wonderful tale of a remarkable dog who is snatched from a soft, idyllic lifestyle in the South and exposed to the twin cruelties of Man and the frozen Northlands during the Yukon Gold Rush.

Buck undergoes a transformation from a family pet to an iron-hard pack dog in a tale of grand adventure, danger, hardship and finally love. Jack London is one of the very few authors who can successfully make you experience the story from an animal point of view, even though the story is told from a third person perspective. The descriptive language transports the reader to the frigid North – I defy anyone reading this book to not find themselves imagining in great detail a snowpacked route through towering, frost encrusted pine forests and great, ice locked lakes. If London did any better a job the reader would be experiencing frost bite!

Buck must overcome being forced into a lifestyle not of his choosing and survive not only the cruelty of the ice but also the scant rations he is provided, the hard task of pulling the sled and the jealousy and aggressiveness of his fellow sled dogs.

The Call of the Wild the title refers to is felt keenly by Buck towards the end as he becomes more and more hardened and less domesticated but even though he answers the call and runs for a time with the wild wolf he meets, upon realising that he’s on a one way journey he turns back to the man who saved his life out of love.

Unfortunately Bucks beloved master meets an untimely end not long afterwards and so he is finally free to answer ‘The Call’, becoming a feature of the wild nature rather than the realm of Man.

“The blood longing became stronger than ever before. He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survived.”

When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops? by George Carlin

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There’s no doubt whatsoever that Carlin was a great comedian and thinker. However reading this book may have you checking the cover to check that it’s the same guy.

It has its merits – the passages on Euphemisms are generally good and there are some great bits such as this:

“During one of those patriotic orgies of self-congratulation that followed the first Gulf War, as General Schwarzkopf was bragging about dropping fire on women and babies, a protester interrupted his speech. The man who had killed a few hundred thousand civilians continued to speak. The protester was charged with disturbing the peace.”

Unfortunately the few gems are hidden amongst a pile of crude, pathetic nonsense that would never have been published if it wasn’t for the authors celebrity :

“• Imagine how creepy it would be to be sexually abused by your great-great-grandparents.
• Do you know why it is that when a rancher fucks a sheep he does it at the edge of a cliff? It’s so the sheep will push back.”

These are nowhere near the worst bits, I just chose a page at random.

It’s so frustrating when you get writing as good as this:

“LETTER TO A FRIEND
Dear Trevor,
The reason I’m writing is because I’ve lost your address and have no way of getting in touch with you. For that reason, chances are you won’t receive this, in which case you should not feel obligated to reply. If, however, this letter does reach you and you wish to answer, please enclose your current address so 1 will know where to send this. By the way, you can ignore the return address on this envelope, as I am moving next week and, although I don ‘tyet have my new address, I will be sending it along as soon as I hear from you. Should you have any trouble locating me, please be assured I will contact you as soon as I have my new phone, so, by all means, give me a call and let me have your number. If it turns out I’m unable to reach you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, as I always mention it to my friends whenever neither of us hears from the other. Should you encounter any trouble reaching me, please let me know, and I will get back to you at once. Then again, if you are unable to reach me, perhaps it would be better not to get in touch, because I will most likely be trying to get hold of you. And, of course, if I do reach you please let me know immediately. Conversely, if I don’t reach you, you will probably hear from me right away. Well, evening is rolling around, and, as they say in Portugal, ‘It’s time to say goodbye.” I hope you receive this before you mail your letter. It’s so good to communicate this way.
Sincerely, Sperla Vaughn
P.S. Should this letter be lost in transit, please disregard.”

Followed by this:

“I wonder what kind of masturbation fantasies Stephen King has.
I also wonder if anyone has ever masturbated while fantasizing about having sex with a live chicken. Usually, I wonder about these things while I’m masturbating”

I think the fairest thing to say with respect to Carlins memory is that he was a brilliant comedian but what was needed for this book was a brilliant editor.

The Void of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

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A good conclusion to what’s been an excellent and interesting trilogy.

Maia starts off imprisoned in Pent tower, due to be executed at her fathers orders. However the people of Comoros have had enough of their vile king by this time and her imprisonment pushes them over the edge into rebellion. The Kishion has also fallen completely for Maia now and plots to save her and make her queen.

The aftermath of the riots sees the King dead and Maia installed as Comoros’ first ever Queen. But Maia knows that the Naestors are coming and the threat to her Kingdom has just begun.

Overall I enjoyed the book, there were a few twists, some nice moments of interaction between Maia and her subjects and a surprising solution to the Naestor invasion.

Maia is still ridiculously nice and forgiving to everyone with the surprising  exception of the Kishion – even though everything he’s done is out of love and loyalty to her. She even pardons every prisoner in the city jail, no matter what their crime was!

It was good to see Maia finally marry Collier in the manner she wanted and, in my opinion, that would have been a satisfactory ending. The other rulers, most of whom she’d never had contact with, deciding unanimously to place their realms under her rule was just not believable.  (Yes, even less believable than her stopping the sun from setting! )

I also didn’t understand why John Tayt had to travel and find Maia at the end when I would expect her to travel back through the Apse Veil to find him as soon as the Naestors were defeated.

I also would have expected the Naestors who remained behind those who travelled to Muirwood to put up a struggle, possibly holding on to the capital – the entirety of the invading forces simply surrendering seemed simplistic.

Despite all these niggles though I’ve really enjoyed the world that Wheeler has created and as you can see I aim to read his other Muirwood series in the near future too.

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4/5

• I received a free kindle edition of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review •

Fireseed One by Catherine Stine

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Set in a future world after the icecaps have melted and much of the landscape is barren and uninhabitable desert, Fireseed One follows an ocean farmer’s desperate quest to save the world’s food supplies by searching for a near mythical superplant.

In support is his female ‘arch-enemy’ who quickly and predictably becomes his love interest.

Setting this weakness aside the story is quite good if not outstanding. I found it quite difficult to engage with at first as the author has imagined a world different to what we know and includes some phraseology to suit it which for some unknown reason I found jarring. (I never had this problem with Pern!) The newscasts sponsored by businesses with terrible slogans also grated on me terribly.

The main problem I had though is that I just never engaged with the principle characters – I literally didn’t care if they kissed/lived/died at all – they were just a couple of privileged teens (?) who spent most of the time being angsty about their fathers.

2/5