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Dear Agony Aunt: I really like this boy but…

Dinner for Two

By

Mike Gayle

A paperback!!! The first I’ve read in a while but was in a Turkish bath house and needed a physical book to read, so borrowed this one from my daughter.

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What do you do when you turn thirty, are married, have a cat, and your wife has a miscarriage, AND you lose your job as a pop music journo? Clearly you become an agony aunt for a teen girl’s magazine.

This book has a number of  ‘Ah’  moments – such as when Dave writes a letter to his 6 week old foetus, and his columns as the self-aware male for the women’s magazine are very well written, as are his responses for the Agony Aunt.

But then in real life,  Mike – the author – has been a music journalist; and then wrote himself for a teen magazine as the Agony Aunt. So he definitely writes from experience and his own self-awareness shows in this book.

The best book I have ever read that was written by a male for the chick lit audience. He nails it!

5 stars.

 

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My New Year’s ‘Commitments’

It is that time again when every good person tries to make a list of all the things they intend to do differently in the new year that has just started.

No, I’m not going to list here all the physical and mental challenges I intend to take on – ‘cos there aren’t any.. other to try and keep as fit as I am now and to continue to lose weight and to keep on blogging as well as maintaining all the other things that I do…

I am just going to tell you about my reading challenges.

I have decided to go back to undertaking some Challenges from GoodReads this year. I last did this in 2014 when I ‘promised’ to read 125 books and actually read over 150.

This year I am going to it slightly differently though. I am going to participate in the:

Genre Challenge
January: Contemporary/Literary Merit
February: Romance/Chick Lit
March: Mysteries
April: Fantasy
May: Historical Fiction
June: Minority Studies/LGBT
July: Science-Fiction/Dystopian
August: Poetry/Plays
September: Travel
October: Horror/Thriller
November: Manga/Graphic Novels
December: Humour

And the To Be Read pile challenge.

Now you can have several levels of this but I am going to be cautious here and just say I shall read 10 books from my TBR pile.

I was also extremely brave this last weekend when I went into a bookstall and also a  Waterstones store on the same afternoon and didn’t buy one single book! Oh, the strength of will it took… The piles were laying there so temptingly and with so many new authors I wanted, but no, I must try and get through the TBR pile first and when that has been reduced I can buy. So 5 books from my physical pile and 5 eBooks must get read – at least. [Note my TBR pile is designated only as those books I have deliberately purchased at whatever cost].

I shall tag all these books under categories so you can check my progress, but also check out my GoodReads feed.

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Enter the Queendom of the Red Academy

The Rise of the Red Queen

By

Bourne Morris

An interesting title for this novel, as reading  it you might assume the book was fantasy or YA in genre. But no such thing. It is a crime novel set in a university.

The Red Queen of the title is an academic whose rise is chronicled through the faculty management structure to being Assistant Dean in this university set high above Lake Tahoe in the Nevada Hills, and who has red hair.

She is thus commonly known as ‘Red’ and many of her colleagues see her as their born leader and that they are members of the court of her faculty.

However, not all members of the university appreciate her qualities and there is still a significant misogynistic element  amongst them. Especially in the higher management echelons.

Prejudices and academic rivalry abound and are very intense and even lead here to murder and criminal behaviour.

And then there is the warped mind of one of the community who abducts a young girl. So within this story, other stories intertwine here there are mysteries and suspicious behaviours and suspicions that leave you guessing.

A note here on academic tenure in American universities (generalised).

Tenure in American universities is extremely hard to achieve.

It requires not only a PhD but a significant body of publications, grants, and conference appearances achieved; and then you have to be liked by all the members of the faculty committee that will review your record and award you tenure – or not.

Tenure, is effectively for the rest of your life. It is almost impossible to be fired, and it is very much your choice as to when you retire. Only about 2% of tenured Professors are fired each year – and then it has to be for ‘due cause’.

And: “As a tenured Professor, you are free to do your own work, your own way” (quoted in the book).

The probationary period averages three years for community colleges and seven years at four-year colleges. This is a period of employment insecurity almost unique among U.S. professions. People denied tenure at the end of this time lose their jobs; tenure is an “up-or-out” process.

During the probationary period, almost all colleges can choose not to renew faculty contracts and terminate faculty without any reason or cause. Throughout this time, senior professors and administrators evaluate the work of new faculty-teaching, research and service before deciding whether or not to recommend tenure. The most recent survey of American faculty shows that, in a typical year, about one in five probationary faculty members was denied tenure and lost his or her job.

No more than one-third of all college and university faculty members are tenured. The reason? More and more colleges are relying on part-time or temporary nontenure-track faculty to teach undergraduates — part-timers constituted about 38 percent of the professoriate in 1987 and grew to 43 percent in 1992.

http://www.nea.org/home/33067.htm

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I don’t like getting up in the morning and I’m not alone

snowy mountain

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shill’s I hear the blast-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Chorus.-Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.
Up in the morning’s, no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.
1788 Robert Burnspoetry, song

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