This third book in the Lestat/Vampire Chronicles series picks up right where the last one left off. Lestat performs at his long-awaited rock concert,This third book in the Lestat/Vampire Chronicles series picks up right where the last one left off. Lestat performs at his long-awaited rock concert, the many vampires who came to the concert to kill him (angry at how he is risking exposure of the vampire existence) are mysteriously destroyed as he and his posse make a narrow escape, and then he hears the warnings of Marius--the keeper of the Old Ones--and we know that the queen of the vampires, Akasha, has awoken after 6,000 years and is coming for Lestat.
I'm sure you can see why I decided to continue on with the series despite The Vampire Lestat being a bit of a slog. Unfortunately, the series continued to go downhill with this third installment. There was just so much sitting around and talking and philosophizing and so little doing! This story probably could have been condensed down to about 100 pages and still worked.
The plot idea for this book, as usual, is cool: (view spoiler)[Akasha, after 6,000 years of silent and statue-like contemplation, has at last awoken to the modern world by the songs of Lestat and is determined to remake the world to match her vision--eternal peace by killing 99 in every 100 men. Basically, she's like the Lilith version of one of the angels of the apocalypse. Only without men, she says, can the world finally be at peace. But the surviving vampires (the first brood plus Lestat and his friends) can't get behind her crazy and blood-thirsty scheme and must find a way to stop her without destroying her and therefore also destroying themselves. (hide spoiler)] But the execution of it was a super drag. I doubt I will be continuing on with the series from here....more
Inkspell, the second installment in the Inkworld trilogy, takes up about a year after Inkheart leaves off, with the fire-eater Dustfinger at last findInkspell, the second installment in the Inkworld trilogy, takes up about a year after Inkheart leaves off, with the fire-eater Dustfinger at last finding a reader who successfully reads him back into his own world from the fantasy book Inkheart. His devoted apprentice Farrid, along with our tween heroine Meggie, quickly follow, to discover all the wonders and horrors that this fantastical world has to offer, along with learning more about the mysterious power that written words, read aloud, seem to have over this world.
Despite being even longer than the first novel (which seemed long because of it's rather repetitive plot), this story kept up a good pace. And there was never a moment when I impatiently looked forward to finishing the book so I could move on to something else, as I often do. What I really loved about this second book was the development of the themes of words and reading, and life and death: Orpheus, Cosimo's resurrection, the magical book that cheats death. It was clear to me, by the struggles that the fictional Inkheart author Fignolio had with the conundrum of bringing the late Prince Cosimo back from the dead, that some other main character must die in order that the characters discover the hard rules about when and how one can be brought back from death with words and magic.
But how Funke actually fulfilled this plot point was a complete surprise and delight. (view spoiler)[I was underwhelmed by Farrid's sudden and rather lackluster death during the battle for the escaped prisoners against Adderhead's men. And then was completely blindsided by Dustfinger's sacrifice where he traded his life for Farrid's. So surprised that I actually gasped out loud when I realized what had happened, and it brought tears to my eyes. (hide spoiler)] Very well done. And the whole setup at the end of this book makes me very much look forward to the third and final installment.
I have to add that the audiobook version is read by Brendan Fraser, whom I really can't stand. I thought about passing on reading this book after all, when I started it and realized who the narrator was. His rendition did nothing to change my mind about him, especially with the annoying trend of middle-grade audiobook narrators using annoyingly affected voices for every character. But, as with most other annoying narrators, I found it more tolerable the further I got into the book....more
This is the graphic novel adaptation of The City of Ember, which I read several months ago. I often like to read adaptations right after reading the oThis is the graphic novel adaptation of The City of Ember, which I read several months ago. I often like to read adaptations right after reading the originals, so that I can compare. But this one was so exactly like the original novel (with a few abridgments for length) that it was a little bit dull to read it so soon after reading the original. It would have been better to wait a year or two and then pick it up as a refresher.
I also wasn't super crazy about the illustrations. Which was not at all the illustrator's fault. But more the nature of the setting of the story, which takes place almost entirely underground. So a lot of the pictures were quite drab and nearly colorless. However, the illustrations from above ground were quite lovely, so I imagine that the next graphic novel (if there were plans to do the whole series) would be more pleasing to the eye....more
First off, just want to say that my ratings for this series (and other middle-grade books I've read recently) are for the genre. Meaning, I, as a nonFirst off, just want to say that my ratings for this series (and other middle-grade books I've read recently) are for the genre. Meaning, I, as a non-ten-year-old would probably rate this book with four stars. But, as an imagined ten-year-old, I definitely think these books are amazing.
This fourth and final installment in the Book of Ember series returns us to the town of Sparks and to our beloved Doon and Lina, who are at it again trying to be helpful and heroic. This time, they get hold of the remains of a book entitled 'For The People of Ember' and go off in search of whatever it is they were meant to discover upon their first mass exodus from Ember. Not to mention, find a way back into Ember to get the rest of of their abandoned and much-needed supplies. (Duh, and why didn't you guys think of this a little bit earlier?) But instead of darkness, they find looters already in Ember. And Lina is tasked with rescuing Doon after he is taken prisoner by them.
One thing I really love about these books is that the villains are always just people. Misguided people. But they're never evil at heart. Love it! And yet there is always still something very important on the line that helps get the stakes up. Short and sweet, just like the rest. This novel also contains the wrap-up for the whole of the series. (view spoiler)[I particularly liked the little bit about the alien spaceship, at the end, which ties back into events that occured off-screen during The Prophet of Yonwood. (hide spoiler)] Threads for a new spin-off series, perhaps? (Please, please!)
One thing I thought was silly and rather unbelievable, though, was the fact that none of the Emberites or people of Sparks thought of going back to Ember to get supplies earlier. Seems like kind of a no-brainer. It's also rather baffling how most of the apocalypse survivors treat books. Civilization and technology were destroyed, and the only way you're ever easily (in a relative sense) going to get that technology back is through book-reading. So why why are you destroying all these books?!...more
This third book in the Book of Ember series takes us back in time to before the apocalyptic catastrophe that decimated the human population. Young NicThis third book in the Book of Ember series takes us back in time to before the apocalyptic catastrophe that decimated the human population. Young Nickie, with her aunt, visits the quiet town of Yonwood to fix up her late-grandfather's old place and put it up for sale. Nickie finds Yonwood quaint and intriguing, and secretly wishes to keep the old house and move into it with her mother. But she soon learns that the town follows its own rules--rules interpreted from one old woman's garbled words after she was struck nearly dumb by a vision so horrific that it has left her borderline incomprehensible and unable to care for herself ever since.
This was a cute story. And I just love how DuPrau skillfully works relevant lessons (for the age group) into her stories without being preachy. I at first expected this story to be way in the future, after Ember, but was pleased to realize it would reveal more about how the apocalypse came about, instead. I then assumed it would tell of the events leading right up to the apocalypse itself, (view spoiler)[which it doesn't quite. It isn't until a generation later that the apocalypse ends up occurring, though part of this story tells us why that is. (hide spoiler)] What I really liked was how this episode ties back into the creation of the city of Ember, as well as that lovely little wrap-up at the end of the next book, The Diamond of Darkhold. Yes, I've already read that one, too!...more
No swash-buckling space pirates in this novella, but instead our beloved Miles is sent by his father up into the red-neck mountains to solve a murder-No swash-buckling space pirates in this novella, but instead our beloved Miles is sent by his father up into the red-neck mountains to solve a murder--the hideous (but all too prevalent) crime of infanticide on an infant perceived as a mutant because of a birth defect easily corrected by modern surgery. Through his detective work, Miles is forced to prove to these old-fashioned and prejudiced people that what his short and broken body lacks in physical strength, his mind more than makes up for in mental acuity.
The end of the story (as usual) is most touching, and I had forgotten how this becomes the thing that fuels Miles to serve his nation going forward....more
Cure Tooth Decay makes a very strong case for how the modern, Western diet destroys our dental health and is leading to cavities and gum disease at yoCure Tooth Decay makes a very strong case for how the modern, Western diet destroys our dental health and is leading to cavities and gum disease at younger and younger ages. Nagel presents the evidence as well as an alternative diet that is designed to re-nourish your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals to re-mineralize your teeth, make them stronger and healthier than ever, and even heal existing cavities.
This book is fascinating, illuminating, and sometimes horrifying (in the things it reveals about the practices of modern dentistry). Definitely a must-read for all. Particularly if you would like dentists to stop drilling holes in your teeth!...more
The people of Ember, now liberated from their underground city with no way to return to it, stumble hungry and heat-stroked into the town of Sparks. AThe people of Ember, now liberated from their underground city with no way to return to it, stumble hungry and heat-stroked into the town of Sparks. And the people of Sparks, on the cusp of prosperity after so many years of struggle to survive, find themselves responsible for feeding and caring for 400 refugees who know nothing about anything in this strange, sunlit world above-ground. With the strain on resources, tensions grow between the two peoples (view spoiler)[until the town seems on the verge of a reenactment of the great wars that first plunged humanity into post-apocalyptic survival mode (hide spoiler)].
This second installment in the Book of Ember series started off a little slower than the last. I wasn't as immediately drawn in by the new characters of Sparks, plus I was disappointed that Lina and Doon were separated almost from the get-go and seemed to be setting up for very different storylines. However, as I neared the climax, I found myself unable to put the book down. DuPrau did a great job of gently ratcheting the tension until it hit a very exciting and climactic crescendo. So, on the whole, I really enjoyed the book.
There were a few things that I found rather silly and unrealistic:
- Why did none of the adult people of Ember speak up and offer some kind of leadership? (Although I can rationalize this issue away based on how Ember ran itself -- where people pretty much just did what they were told. They weren't raised to be leaders.)
- It seems to me that the people of Sparks would have asked the people of Ember to elect their own council of three to then communicate with Sparks' already established leadership council.
- Why did the people of Sparks not set up a better system to help train the Emberites with the skill sets they would need to build their own town, like apprenticeships? And take into consideration peoples' various interests and previous skill sets? ...more
I love Miles Vorkosigan, the precocious, ingenious, and vertically challenged offspring of Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith, of Shards of Honor aI love Miles Vorkosigan, the precocious, ingenious, and vertically challenged offspring of Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith, of Shards of Honor and Barrayar. This is the first story where Miles takes center stage in the Vorkosigan Saga--his coming of age, as it were. In essence, after failing to get into the illustrious Barrayaran military academy, Miles and friends go to Beta Colony for a visit to his grandmother. But it's not long before Miles leads them into a hair-brained scheme, delivering contraband in the middle of a war zone, (view spoiler)[where he ultimately finds himself the accidental leader of a mercenary space fleet (hide spoiler)].
I really love parts of this story. I gave it four stars though, relative to many of the other episodes in this series. There are some moments, in The Warrior's Apprentice, where the pace fluctuates a bit too much and loses momentum, so that I'm not eating it up and turning pages like crazy, as in other Miles stories....more
This novel read more like a soap box for Anna Sewell than an actual story. The beautiful and well-behaved stallion Black Beauty's observations throughThis novel read more like a soap box for Anna Sewell than an actual story. The beautiful and well-behaved stallion Black Beauty's observations throughout his life served more to put forward Sewell's own opinions about the treatment of horses than anything else. I did learn a lot, though, which came in somewhat handy on my next read, All Creatures Great and Small....more
This was definitely a story that I really enjoyed during the first read-through and didn't at all mind re-reading it when it was included again in a later omnibus collection. Miles's first meeting with Taura the genetically modified "super soldier" teenager werewolf is delightful and hilarious. Even in eight years between my first and second reads, I remembered enough about the hilarity to anticipate this meeting, although the details had certainly grown vague enough that I was as delighted my second read-through as I had been on the first....more
Super helpful book, a must-read for everyone--whether you're in a relationship or not. Love languages are the acts or words other people do that makeSuper helpful book, a must-read for everyone--whether you're in a relationship or not. Love languages are the acts or words other people do that make us feel loved. Sometimes, a person may do things that, to them, communicate their love but you don't receive them as such because they're outside of your love language. This book goes through Chapman's five love languages, including how to determine what your love language is, as well as how we as children develop our love language in the first place. He then goes through each love language specifically (Positive Affirmations, Giving of Gifts, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service) and what you can do if your spouse or other loved one speaks that love language. He includes frequent, relatable examples from actual couples who he has helped, sometimes from the brink of divorce. ...more
This book was surprisingly accurate in its nuanced descriptions of how men and women deal differently with stress, and how we can each adapt our behavThis book was surprisingly accurate in its nuanced descriptions of how men and women deal differently with stress, and how we can each adapt our behavior to support our partner in stressful times. Really good read. Definitely worth keeping as a reference or re-reading down the road....more
This novel ended up on my to-read list because it's the original work of fiction that coined the term robot. I'm confused about whether Capek's work wThis novel ended up on my to-read list because it's the original work of fiction that coined the term robot. I'm confused about whether Capek's work was originally a novel or a play. But I suspect that this BBC audio book version is a play adaptation of the original novel, specifically for this BBC radio production. Good production quality, voice acting, etc. But I definitely will need to pick up the novel version some time as well, as I felt like this one lacked in some detail and nuance not well-conveyed through the limited scope of dialogue alone....more
This installment in The Cousins' War series chronicles much of the reign of Henry VII, as seen through his wife's eyes (Elizabeth of York, daughter ofThis installment in The Cousins' War series chronicles much of the reign of Henry VII, as seen through his wife's eyes (Elizabeth of York, daughter of the deceased King Edward IV and niece to Richard III, whom Henry defeated on the battlefield to win the throne). This novel is most interesting because even though Elizabeth of York is married to Henry shortly after he takes the throne, the remainder of her family continues to rebel against and attempt to usurp the king for many years afterward, leaving Elizabeth torn between her family and her husband and children.
This is my favorite book in The Cousins' War series, so far. I felt like this novel had the strongest viewpoint character (clear, internal conflict, hurrah!), and there were very few actual battle scenes and war-making, which are the parts that I have found drag most in the other books. But my liking of this one in particular may also have to do with the fact that I was so very curious about Henry VII and what happened after he took the throne.
Gregory's writing isn't mind-blowing, but it suffices. As always, I wished she would dig a little deeper into her viewpoint character's head. I did find myself getting annoyed with the character traits she did choose for Elizabeth, who was constantly saying, "I don't know," to just about anything anyone ever asked her. This would have come across better if we could have seen the internal conflict clearer. But Gregory seems to be a strong component of show, and internal thought doesn't appear to fall into that category, for her. Ah well.
I do love learning about the history of these times and find myself oddly glad to know that I can probably hold a rather expansive conversation about the War of the Roses, now....more
littleBits are modularized microchips that allow even the layperson to make electronic objects or even smart objects that utilize the internet of thinlittleBits are modularized microchips that allow even the layperson to make electronic objects or even smart objects that utilize the internet of things to allow you to, say, turn on and off your house lights from your phone while on vacation.
This book is co-written by the founder of littleBits and is half a basic introduction to littleBits and the company, and half a beginner's how-to. The how-to is really just an introduction to some of the most basic littleBits modules, how they work, and some suggested starter projects to get one creating. It is very basic and better used as a reference than a cover-to-cover read.
I've been interested in littleBits for a while now, and though I haven't ponied up the cash for any of my own yet, I found the book interesting enough to read without the little microchips right in front of me. I may check it out again when and if I get my own set of littleBits, or I may just look online for similar starter projects and how-to information....more
Perdido Street Station is one of China Miéville's oldies but goodies. Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a scientist working along the fringes of the law onPerdido Street Station is one of China Miéville's oldies but goodies. Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a scientist working along the fringes of the law on his pet project Crisis Theory--an area that many of his fellow scientists don't believe is anything more than make-believe. And his lover is Lin--one of the insect-like Khepri race--whom he sees only in secret for fear of racist, negative backlash from the scientific community. When a mangle-winged Garuda (of the desert bird race), shows up at Isaac's doorstep and asks him to use his scientific expertise to restore his ability to fly, Isaac's work is kicked into high gear. But during his researches, he unknowingly comes into possession of a dangerous creature that, when hatched, will wreak havoc on New Crobuzon, threatening not only the lives of Isaac's friends but the well-being of every race of creature in the city.
This is my second attempt to read a China Miéville novel. My first attempt was Un Lun Dun, of which I only made it through the first several chapters. This time around, with Perdido, I was much more successful. But I came prepared: audio book!! My main qualm with Miéville is his obsession with setting (and why the audio book version came in so handy). At the beginning of nearly every change of scene or point-of-view character, he describes the new setting for what seems like pages and pages. Listening in audio allowed me to space out during these long-winded moments and bring my attention back to the story when something was actually happening.
Besides the problem of setting, I found Perdido highly satisfying on a number of fronts. While I wouldn't say I had a very strong emotional connection with any of the characters, they were all very interesting, well-motivated, and sympathetic when they were supposed to be. The world-building was great--awesomely creative and complex. And the plot was fantabulous. I particularly enjoyed the middle of the book, when all hell essentially broke loose, and the complex plot threads that Miéville had been weaving suddenly pulled tight, right around the main character's neck. Very exciting! And the story hardly let up after that. Miéville held me absolutely enthralled for half this hefty tomb.
The few things, story wise, that I have the most eensy-weensy nitpicks for are 1) that I feel like the government point of views dropped away very suddenly, and I found myself still wanting to know what they were up to for the rest of the book. And 2) Isaac's sudden (view spoiler)[wariness of the Construct Council felt like it came out of nowhere. Almost like I accidentally skipped ahead in the audio book. They had just been in a battle with the Slake Moths, were tired and beat up, had lost comrades, and then all of a sudden he's just railing about the Constructs. I wasn't too surprised by the idea that the Constructs were up to things (that seemed obvious). But Isaac's sudden outburst made me feel like I missed something. (hide spoiler)] I also have to mention that this book is very brutal and graphically violent at times. I wasn't such a big fan of that. Also, I really really wanted to know even a little bit about what happened with the Construct Council. And what happened to David??...more
This was a very dry and science-y book about how talent is more about practice practice practice than any in-born, natural talent. A better and far moThis was a very dry and science-y book about how talent is more about practice practice practice than any in-born, natural talent. A better and far more accessible book on this topic is Outliers: The Story of Success.
My boyfriend was the one who originally picked up this book. But after three failed attempts to listen to the audio version, including a try with me while we were on a recent road trip, he finally gave up and asked me to just summarize it for him once I'd finished it. I also found it extremely difficult to not space out and let my mind drift away while listening. For the most part I just let those really dull moments pass by, rather than rewinding the track. There were some moments of anecdotal interest, but not really enough to justify the time spent reading.
The book in generally was organized in a way that made it hard to listen to, overall. There were no through lines, no clear thesis being argued for. The author failed to make his point up front and then support it with evidence. Instead, his arguments were meandering and convoluted....more
This book was long but good. The Kingmaker's Daughter, the fourth book in the Cousin's War series, follows the life of Anne Neville, the younger daughThis book was long but good. The Kingmaker's Daughter, the fourth book in the Cousin's War series, follows the life of Anne Neville, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick--who helped the house of York overthrow King Henry VI (of Lancaster) and put Edward IV on the throne. Hence Richard Neville's nickname as "The Kingmaker." Unfortunately, King Edward's choice of wife leaves Warwick dissatisfied with his limited power, so he begins kingmaking again, using his two daughters as pawns in his attempts to put someone new on the throne who could be more easily influenced and controlled.
As a woman in 15th Century England, Anne had very little control over her own life, except in the way she chose to view the cards dealt to her. She and her sister Isabel rode the tides of fate sometimes as friends and sometimes as enemies, as the wheel of fortune--and their father's ambition--pulls them low and raises them high at different points throughout their lives.
I felt like Anne had a strong viewpoint in this installment of the series (one element that was sometimes lacking in some of the other books). At this point, we've seen the same events now from the perspective of three different women, and those past books help to deepen the insights here. The perspective Anne chooses to view events through is what really influences her reactions and what happens next, as opposed to the events themselves. The mistrust and enmity between the houses of Warwick and York, at some points, is quite palpable. And yet drives one crazy. Can't we all just get along? Why is everyone so obsessed with being king or queen of England?!
I've rated the book (perhaps a bit generously) as 4-star, even though there was really nothing that blew me away. Just good, detailed, well-written historical fiction....more