The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the classic tale of Ichabod Crane, the scraggly school teacher, and his encounter with the Headless Horseman of SleepyThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the classic tale of Ichabod Crane, the scraggly school teacher, and his encounter with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
I knew this was a short book. But I had no idea how little there really was to it. Granted, I spaced out during a great deal of the time I was listening to it. I probably shouldn't have been listening to anything at all, at the time. But I was surprised at how little there was to the story. Basically, we get introduced to all the characters, then Ichabod gets invited to a party where he hopes to press his suit with the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel, then he gets chased by the Headless Horseman. There was really no build-up or real-time interaction between Ichabod and Brom Bones, his adversary for Katrina's affections....more
The Time Trader centers around Ross Murdock, a scrappy young criminal who has fallen on the wrong side of the law one too many times and now faces theThe Time Trader centers around Ross Murdock, a scrappy young criminal who has fallen on the wrong side of the law one too many times and now faces the choice of a reform camp or being drafted as a recruit into a top secret project. Turns out the project involves highly trained special ops traveling through time to find ancient future technologies. Ancient future technologies, you say? Yes, well that is where the plot gets interesting.
For the most part, Ross had very little personality of his own and often served as a fly on the wall while the other time travelers did all the thinking, the talking, and the work. Those portions of the story (the whole middle, for example), were rather boring. Once we were back centered on Ross (i.e., he'd lost his comrades and was on his own), things picked up a bit. Yet he mostly just bumbled his way from one thing to the next. There was not a lot of intelligent thinking here. Not a lot of character-driven storyline. Mostly, things just happened too him. Not very riveting.
However, I did like the direction the story took at the end and the setup for the next book. (view spoiler)[Aliens! Maybe even space travel? (hide spoiler)] For the most part, this story wasn't good enough to leave me wanting to read the next. But the twist near the end definitely left me curious enough to pick up the next installment.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Schnarch's definition of "marriage," (as in the title of this book) means any committed relationship. And this audiobook primarily explores issues ofSchnarch's definition of "marriage," (as in the title of this book) means any committed relationship. And this audiobook primarily explores issues of intimacy through the lens of sexual relations.
The Circle is a good concept, but not in the end a well-executed story. I found Eggers' dystopian portrayal of a social media-saturated future interesThe Circle is a good concept, but not in the end a well-executed story. I found Eggers' dystopian portrayal of a social media-saturated future interesting, certainly. But the characters lacked personality and consistent motivation. They were basically playing pieces for the depiction of the concepts, rather than actual drivers of the story. All in all, not something I would recommend as worth the time....more
I found This Is Where I Leave You surprisingly enjoyable. This novel held a lot more depth and interest for me than the typical contemporary story aboI found This Is Where I Leave You surprisingly enjoyable. This novel held a lot more depth and interest for me than the typical contemporary story about family woes. It was also unexpectedly humorous....more
This was a disappointing third installment in the Caster Chronicles. Though I shouldn't have been surprised since I also found the second book disappoThis was a disappointing third installment in the Caster Chronicles. Though I shouldn't have been surprised since I also found the second book disappointing. Things have gotten repetitive. There's not enough newness being introduced in these follow-up story lines. And the high school dynamics, which made the first book so interesting, are again mostly absent in this book....more
This short story chronicles Link's transition from normal teenage boy to pseudo-supernatural, after the final battle in Beautiful Darkness.
Link is byThis short story chronicles Link's transition from normal teenage boy to pseudo-supernatural, after the final battle in Beautiful Darkness.
Link is by no means my favorite character, and this story was just eh. Hadn't really missed out on anything by not reading it before I went on to read the third installment in the series, Beautiful Chaos....more
I looked forward to finding out what kind of illicit tasks Zeb had been busy doing for the Gardeners during Toby's time with them. Instead, we get his whole long family saga and back story with not much there to grab onto and use to sympathize with the characters of Zeb and his brother, unless you happen to have sociopathic parents. I found myself often spacing out during these segments and having to rewind and listen to them a second time.
This final installment of the series also continues to tell the tale of the Crakers, Gardeners, and MaddAddamites after the apocalyptic events of the Waterless Flood. I really enjoyed Toby's interactions with the Crakers and the progression of Blue Beard the young Craker boy. I had hoped that Jimmy's recovery would lead him to become a bigger part of the story again, but no luck. And with no additional explanation provided, I found it rather unbelievable that (view spoiler)[all the human women gave birth to Craker hybrids rather than Amanda having been impregnated by the Painballers (hide spoiler)].
All in all, though, still an enjoyable read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I added this memoir to my list after reading a personal essay about knitting, by Maynard, in Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The mention of her rI added this memoir to my list after reading a personal essay about knitting, by Maynard, in Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The mention of her relationship with J.D. Salinger was what particularly caught my attention. But the fact that the book was in audiobook format (my preferred method of "reading" memoirs, these days) was why it didn't end up languishing on my to-read list for a couple of years.
I am always amazed and impressed by the bravery of authors who write memoirs that do not flatter them at all but instead reveal the utter depth of their naivete, lack of common sense, spitefulness, or other personal shortcomings. Maynard, as a young adult, embodied the first two of these in spades.
At eighteen, and just beginning college at Yale, she fell under the sway of fifty-three year old author J.D. "Jerry" Salinger--first through a lively correspondence and then by phone and in person. She was starry-eyed for him, felt like the most precious and special girl in the world for having caught his attentions. She was also (though she didn't learn this until years later) not the first nor the last to fall prey to Salinger's celebrity and charms. But, not only did she fall in with Salinger, she quit Yale to move in with him. She struggled with anorexia and bulimia. She declined to do any promotion for her first memoir because of Salinger's hatred of the media. Although Maynard has found some success in her writing career, I wonder how much she hurt herself by following Salinger's advice--which essentially sabotaged her career in its infancy--and then by her other decisions after her relationship with Salinger abruptly ended.
This was an interesting story to read, presented in an objective way where Maynard allows the reader to pass their own judgments on the actions of her, her parents, and J.D. Salinger.
The beginning of the memoir greatly reminded me of Augusten Burroughs's childhood in A Wolf at the Table, because they both dealt with alcoholic fathers and their families were similarly dysfunctional (although Maynard's father was much milder, when intoxicated, then Burroughs's). But that childhood dysfunctionality went on to greatly effect both authors in adulthood.
As usual, another poorly mastered audiobook version of a childhood classic. In this second "episode," we follow the boy Tip as he creates Jack PumpkinAs usual, another poorly mastered audiobook version of a childhood classic. In this second "episode," we follow the boy Tip as he creates Jack Pumpkinhead, the Wooden Sawhorse, and the Gump (the flying, moose-headed couch), and befriends the Scarecrow and the Tinman, all while liberating the Emerald City from an army of gem-hungry girls and finding Oz's long-lost rightful ruler.
I'm not sure where L. Frank Baum stood on the issue of women's liberation, but this book does not suggest that he was very progressive on the subject. The army of girls who takes over the Emerald City armed with knitting needles holds, as their primary goal, stealing all the gems of the city to make pretty jewelry and also to sell so that they can each buy new dresses. Oh oh oh, WHY?! In all, not the best message for little girls. There are also no female characters in the heroes party at all.
I was interested to see where this second installment in the Oz series aligned and differed with the second Wizard of Oz movie -- Return to Oz. One of the primary differences in the movie was that the army of girls was replaced by the witch Mombi as the lead villain, whereas she plays only a secondary villain role in the book. I also loved Mombi's head-swapping antics in the movie, which were nonexistent here in the book. Also, the protagonist Tip was replaced by Dorothy. Though I suspect that the storyline of how Dorothy reaches Oz in this second movie may be lifted from the third book, Ozma of Oz....more
This second installment in the Hitchhiker's Guide series was just okay through most of its length. The focus is primarily on Zaphod Beeblebrox, the twThis second installment in the Hitchhiker's Guide series was just okay through most of its length. The focus is primarily on Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed ex-president of the galaxy, as he tries to discover the knowledge and plans hidden away in his brain. Both humans, Arthur and Trillian, took major back seats. Perhaps the thing I disliked most about Zaphod's front-and-center status was the hair-slicked-back, Johnny-motorcycle-jacket voice the audio book narrator gave him. However, again, Restaurant pulled through in the end with two separate and supporting culminations cleverly presenting a strong message about life and existence. Definitely good enough (and short enough) to read another....more
This "book" is actually a live recording of a conference Vogler presented at and also includes Q&A from the session. His main focus, in this talk, is story structure and character archetypes. In the Q&A, he also delves a good bit into theme....more
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress takes place on the ex-penal colony settlement of Luna (the moon) in 2075 or so. Manuel "Mannie" Garcia O'Kelly-Davis is aThe Moon Is a Harsh Mistress takes place on the ex-penal colony settlement of Luna (the moon) in 2075 or so. Manuel "Mannie" Garcia O'Kelly-Davis is a computer technician who accidentally discovers that the supercomputer controlling all the systems on Luna has recently become self-aware, as evidenced by his questionable sense of humor at writing the janitor's latest paycheck out for a million billion dollars. Starved for company and in need of an audience for his jokes, Mike the supercomputer dubs Mannie his "first friend."
Meanwhile, Mannie inadvertently stumbles into the middle of the political group plotting to revolt and win independence for the Lunar colony, and finds himself one of the top three leaders as plans for the revolt move inexorably forward. But they have one secret weapon their enemies at Lunar Authority could never expect: Mike, the very supercomputer running the entire colony, who has an undeniable skill for playing odds.
Yes, there are other characters--other leaders of the rebellion who have significant "screen time" in the story. But, as you can see from the description above, the most interesting part of this book for me was the relationship between Mike and Mannie. Really, Mike's relationship with all the humans. There's not actually a lot happening throughout most of the book, but a lot of discussing odds (in a way accessible to the layperson) and a lot of planning the rebellion. Yet it was written so well that it was all very interesting. You cared about Luna, you cared about the characters, you cared about Mike. I listened to the Blackstone Audiobook version and loved the narrator.
One word of warning: be prepared to check your disbelief at the door. Although this book presents a future where colonizing the moon is a reality, because it was written back in 1966 they still use land lines for communication and other "ancient" technology that seems a bit silly when you think about it too hard.
My favorite part was actually the ending: (view spoiler)[After the rebellion is over, and the new government is in place, the professor (one of the other three human leaders) dies of a heart attack. I liked the professor just fine but was hardly phased by his death, since he was old and it had already been implied that he was in his last few years (particularly after the difficult trip to Earth and back). But when Mannie grabs a phone and dials Mike and he doesn't answer. And then he goes down into the computer room and calls out for Mike and gets no response. When Mike died... I love how Heinlein offers up both deaths, so you can compare your feelings for the two. I felt almost nothing for the human. The professor had lived a long and happy life. But for the computer, I was devastated. He was new, naive, still in the process of discovering himself and the nuances of life. I also liked that Mike's "death" was left ambiguous. Was he truly dead (from the bombing of Luna that possibly cut off too many of his systems to sustain self awareness any longer)? Was he just traumatized and/or comatose? Or had he decided that as long as he was around, the humans would not be able to help themselves but to use his powers of calculation to their own purposes? (hide spoiler)]
For me, Mike's existence brings up interesting questions about our definitions of sentience and who or what deserves the right of an individual. Are only humans deserving of the vote? Or would an independent and self-aware computer be considered a person in his or her own right?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
After reading one or two of Diamond's other books, I've begun to find them rather repetitive. Although each book explores slightly different sociologiAfter reading one or two of Diamond's other books, I've begun to find them rather repetitive. Although each book explores slightly different sociological concepts, and studies different societies, in the end it all begins to blend together......more
In Bloodshot, the first in Cherie Priest's newish Cheshire Red Reports series, Raylene Pendle (aka, Cheshire Red)--a vampire uber thief to the rich anIn Bloodshot, the first in Cherie Priest's newish Cheshire Red Reports series, Raylene Pendle (aka, Cheshire Red)--a vampire uber thief to the rich and often less-than-moral--recounts the events of a particularly difficult case, and one that promises to send her on a series of new adventures to come.
While, yes, this is another book about vampires, it appears--at least from this first installment--that the Cheshire Red Reports are less about vampires and more about the action and mystery of the cases themselves. Priest does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for more books to come, leaving enough clues to make me curious for more and anticipate certain characters' larger roles in future novels. I particularly enjoyed several of the colorful secondary characters--the ex-Navy Seal, drag queen Adrian (aka, Sister Rose), and the orphan squatter kids Domino and Pepper--and how they helped flesh out Raylene's character through their interactions with her.
Ian Stott, the only other vampire character and the client who sends Raylene on the Bloodshot mission, had a little less depth. And I hope he is better fleshed out in the next book. I thought Ian's ghoul, Cal, was the least likeable and least developed of all. But perhaps I just felt that way because, in the audio version, the reader used the same voice for both Cal and Domino, so that Cal came off sounding like a 14-year-old boy. My lack of connection to Ian resulted in a few false emotional notes in the book. First, (view spoiler)[Ian's very strong emotional reaction to Cal's death, when the relationship between Ian and Cal had never been truly defined to the reader but left rather ambiguous. I couldn't sympathize with Ian more than I would with any stranger, so the whole part felt a bit forced (hide spoiler)]. The second was when Raylene (view spoiler)[finally kisses Ian. Yes, we could all see it coming. But with sexy Adrian by her side, I had stopped rooting for the blind vampire ages ago. Ian just had no personality. And the timing was all wrong, at least if Raylene actually wanted anything to last. I just couldn't get on board with the choice (hide spoiler)].
My only other complaint was the complete disregard for human life. Nameless, faceless "men in black" were dying left and right, and there was not even a tip of the hat to their deaths or a thought for their families waiting back home. Raylene was all bent out of shape over (view spoiler)[vampires being imprisoned, experimented on, and dying during the course of experimentation (hide spoiler)]. You can bet she killed a heck of a lot more people during the course of this case, people who may have just been doing their jobs.
On the whole, Bloodshot was fun, fast-paced, and funny. A good, easy read with a strong narrative voice.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Despite my poor rating, I will probably still continue on with the third book in the series. Hellbent continues the story of Raylene Pendle, a vampireDespite my poor rating, I will probably still continue on with the third book in the series. Hellbent continues the story of Raylene Pendle, a vampire thief with a soft spot for other outcasts like herself. In this book, she is working two jobs simultaneously. One is to track down and steal some valuable magic artifacts. (Okay, they're penis bones. That's right, penis bones of magical creatures like griffons and unicorns.) (view spoiler)[The artifacts very quickly get stolen by a schizophrenic scientist sorceress, morphing that story line into a chase me chase me game of hide and seek and stop the crazy lady from destroying things. (hide spoiler)] The other is to visit the vampire house that Raylene's drag queen, commando friend Adrian's sister disappeared from. And to solve the mystery of the death of the patriarch of Ian's (Raylene's blind, vampire friend's) old vampire house.
Although there is clearly a lot happening in this book, I was left with the feeling that nothing really ever happened. There was no meat to the story. Stuff happened, and then they were done. I suspect Priest was trying to make Raylene's dealings with the schizophrenic sorceress into some sort of character growth (apparently Raylene has always struggled with OCD). But I found that whole OCD thread a bit more than ridiculous. Raylene has OCD like any organized, thoughtful person has OCD. Which is nada. I was also disappointed in the resolution of Raylene and Adrian's trip to the Atlanta vampire house. Having all the Atlanta vampires (view spoiler)[be crazy and easily dismissed (hide spoiler)] was pretty lame, for something that had been building up like it was going to be the climax of the story.
So, why will I keep reading? For one, the narrator of the audio versions of these books, Natalie Ross, is phenomenal. But even her great reading probably wouldn't be enough if not for the great narrative voice Priest infuses into the story. Told in the first person, Raylene's voice is sassy and entertaining, making for a strong sense of character even when the plot is a bit of a drag.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more