This is a very funny picture book about Darth Vader raising young Luke Skywalker, as a single father. Most of Vader's lines are pulled directly from t...moreThis is a very funny picture book about Darth Vader raising young Luke Skywalker, as a single father. Most of Vader's lines are pulled directly from the movies as are many of the situations, such as Luke playing in the trash compactor. From the author note, the concept for the book came from the humorous idea of Vader and Luke spending Father's Day together. The author has since explored Vader's fatherhood further with the creation of Vader's Little Princess, which I've only skimmed. But, based on that skimming, I would probably rate it at five stars.(less)
I didn't actually enjoy the original version of New Spring, so I'm not sure why I wanted to read the graphic novel other than for a masochistic need f...moreI didn't actually enjoy the original version of New Spring, so I'm not sure why I wanted to read the graphic novel other than for a masochistic need for thoroughness. From page one, the graphic novel adaptation promised no improvement but looked like it was provisioning up to be worse than the original.
The graphic novel adaptation poses similar challenges to that of a movie adaptation. The form relies on visuals and dialogue, with little opportunity for direct exposition. The New Spring graphic novel completely ignores that reality, giving us huge swaths of narrative, expository text explaining the scenes presented to the reader in each spread. In this medium, for the most part, I think the graphics should explain themselves. Yes, sometimes you miss out on a little nuance (especially depending on how long you spend looking at each illustration). But no one picks up a graphic novel expecting to read the Bible.
Suffice it to say, I skimmed a lot. Some things I did enjoy included the depictions of young Moiraine and Siuan, and some of the intricate and lovely dress details. I could not tell the Borderlandian men apart very well and relied mostly on the context of their dialogue to determine who was saying what.
One most peculiar thing was the illustration quality, which changed about two-thirds of the way through the story into a sloppy, un-detailed mess. I'm not sure if several different artists did illustrations for different segments of the book or perhaps that Jordan didn't live to quality control through the entire production, so the publisher just let things slide once he wasn't looking over their shoulders anymore? But Moiraine at the end of the book looked nothing like Moiraine at the beginning, which was odd considering the very specific and rather nit-picky emails from Jordan about character appearances, included in the graphic novel end notes.(less)
I wouldn't say I've read a lot of nonfiction stories about knitting. But what I have read has brought me to expect a lot of wit and humor, as well as...moreI wouldn't say I've read a lot of nonfiction stories about knitting. But what I have read has brought me to expect a lot of wit and humor, as well as a point. In contrast to those expectations, many of these personal essays were meandering and barely cohesive. As a book with all professional writers as contributors, I have to say I was rather disappointed in the quality of many of the stories. Many of them (particularly at the beginning of the collection) came off as if they were written for a warm-up writing prompt and then published as-is, with very little editing or refining. The stories were also very arbitrarily arranged in alphabetical order by last name of the contributors, which didn't at all help with the flow of the collection. Lastly, a significant portion of the essays were written by people who wished they could knit. I suspect this book is primarily aimed at a knitting audience. As a knitter, I am much more interested in reading about other knitters, when I read a collection of personal essays about knitting, than about people who wish they could knit. Just pick up a pair of needles and do it already! It's really not that hard.
There were a few hidden gems, including contributions by Andre Dubus III, Martha Frankel, Jessi Hempel, Joyce Maynard, and Taylor M. Polites.(less)
I probably shouldn't have read this, as I had sworn off all Orson Scott Card at least until the end of this year. But I thought it would be nice to li...moreI probably shouldn't have read this, as I had sworn off all Orson Scott Card at least until the end of this year. But I thought it would be nice to listen to a Christmas story around Christmas time. Zanna's Gift is a rather sad Christmas story entailing (view spoiler)[the death of one child and the permanent disabling of another (hide spoiler)]. Yet it has a nice message. I didn't consider it remarkable enough to actually recommend to anyone. But it's short and wasn't a complete waste of time.(less)
I enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time Book 1) quite a bit more than I expected to after my disappointment wit...moreI enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time Book 1) quite a bit more than I expected to after my disappointment with the New Spring graphic novel. The only frustrating thing is that they are being produced so slowly. I would love to "reread" the series (up to where I left off) in this new form, but despite publication of the first graphic novel volume back in 2011, there are still only four published volumes, and that's still only covering part of the first book in the series. Thought you waited long for the original series? It seems it will be decades upon decades before the graphic novel series is complete (if ever). Too bad. But I'll still enjoy reading the four that are out so far.(less)
I was a bit disappointed in Beautiful Darkness, which I felt suffered from the sophomore slumps. The shape of Darkness is quite different from Beautif...moreI was a bit disappointed in Beautiful Darkness, which I felt suffered from the sophomore slumps. The shape of Darkness is quite different from Beautiful Creatures, which is perhaps the main source of my disappointment. Where Creatures has Ethan and Lena struggling to fit in in a close-minded southern high school and a town where everyone is in everyone else's business, Darkness is a down-the-rabbit-hole adventure. Lena is in full-blown teenage rebellion mode and absent from most of the story. On his own, Ethan gathers a crew of quirky companions to help him track Lena down, through the network of caster tunnels that run below the entire country, and save her from falling into the hands of the dark casters.
Lena's who-am-I drama felt old as it continued to play out in Book 2. And Ethan just isn't as interesting without Lena around to play counterpoint. I'll keep reading, but I hope this book isn't an indication of the quality of the works to come.(less)
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 tw...moreThis 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.(less)
Aftersight has an ensemble cast (with rotating point of view characters) between several young women who all find themselves (either suddenly or not s...moreAftersight has an ensemble cast (with rotating point of view characters) between several young women who all find themselves (either suddenly or not so suddenly) the bearers of paranormal abilities. They are recruited by the low-key Waltham Academy for Psychic Sensitives, in Northwest England, whose not-so-public agenda is to hone the paranormal abilities of its students. The girls find themselves suite mates as they begin their studies at Waltham, learn more about their uncanny abilities, and stumble upon a new mystery about themselves and their connections to each other. That mystery culminates in an offsite, ghost-hunting assignment that turns out to be indelibly linked to their past—their past lives, that is. And the girls learn new things about themselves while also proving that they can use their newfound abilities to help others.
There were definitely moments of intense creepiness in this novel, where I asked myself, “Should I really be reading this in bed, right before going to sleep for the night?” But those moments never stepped over the line from creepiness to nightmare-inducing, for which I was glad. There was also some interesting creepiness in the histories of some of the girls. For example, Nicole has grown up always being able to see ghosts. When she was young, she believed that Santa Clause came to visit her. It was rather a shock when she discovered, as she came into puberty, that the man who had introduced himself as Santa Clause was really just an old, perverted ghost with a penchant for young girls. Eugh! But interesting to consider this possibility when you’re talking about young girls and ghosts. I like the ghostly immorality introduced here, and the way it was presented introduced a bit of humor into the story at that point. I was disappointed that we never got any chapters from Nicole’s point of view, and I look forward to reading an installment of the series primarily from her point of view in the near future, as she was one of my favorite characters.
I really liked the twist at the end, when we found out (view spoiler)[that Cali was actually the dead brother from their mysterious past life, not one of the girls. Which explains her strange attraction to Nicole, who was the reborn soul of his centuries-past lover. Tyson broke gender expectations as well by turning out to be one of the girls from that past life. I really liked the unexpected mixing up of the genders (hide spoiler)]. And I hope it will offer a lot of interesting relationship dynamics and conflicts for future installments of the story. At the end of the novel, there were still a lot of smaller story threads that I can’t remember receiving any explanation for, such as Becky’s mysterious episodes of visions and passing out. I can only assume these are potential plot lines for future books, and I’m interested to see where the story goes. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
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.(less)
I found Sandberg's exploration of continued workforce gender issues to be spot-on, both insightful and useful. Of particular interest was her insight...moreI found Sandberg's exploration of continued workforce gender issues to be spot-on, both insightful and useful. Of particular interest was her insight on the perception of women as caring, and how both men and women negatively judge women who let go that expected caring for self-promotion and ambition. Also interesting was the fact that women are less inclined to interrupt than men and are sometimes more often interrupted themselves. Women are less likely to negotiate for higher pay or put themselves out there for raises or promotions, which may be a contributing factor to the fact that women, on average, are still paid significantly less than men. I also find it telling that Sandberg received so much criticism for this book (both in the media and through word of mouth -- whenever I mentioned to someone that I was reading it, all I heard were bad things even though these people had never read the book themselves). When you get backlash for exposing issues like these, you know you must be on the right track.
This is a must read for both men and women. On a par with continuing to fight the institutional racism that still plagues the U.S., everyone should be aware of these issues, so we can all help contribute to their resolution. (less)
Where'd You Go, Bernadette tells the story--through letters, emails, and other written mediums--of fourteen-year-old Bee's trying to unravel the myste...moreWhere'd You Go, Bernadette tells the story--through letters, emails, and other written mediums--of fourteen-year-old Bee's trying to unravel the mystery of her mother's sudden disappearance from her life. Her mother, Bernadette, is an eccentric ex-artist/architect who is still struggling to find her feet again after a mean-spirited disaster befell her last architectural masterpiece and she suffered several miscarriages before Bee finally came along. Bee's father is a genius Microsoft-ie who isn't often at home.
I was rather confused when I started reading this book. Despite the fact that Bee is the one who has organized the letters and emails into a cohesive whole--inserting her own commentary here and there--this is actually a book written for adults. But Bernadette's emails--particularly to her Indian virtual assistant, Manjula--read as if she is a chatty, snarky fourteen-year-old herself. The narrative voice of Bernadette was just completely unbelievable to me as an adult, and I had a hard time suspending my disbelief on the kind of ridiculous stuff she talked about in her emails to her virtual assistant. This book reads like a middlegrade novel (written for 10-12 year olds). Bernadette was also, at times, rather racist and classist--as are many of the other characters.
Those issues aside, this was actually a very entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have issues with reading books based in my own locale of Seattle--the place-dropping tends to annoy the crap out of me. Which was still the case here, but I also enjoyed most of the Microsoft stuff. Semple did a good job of preventing both the pros and cons of the company as an employer. I also liked how she presented the good and bad of Seattle.
Definitely a book worth checking out--a fun, easy, drama-ridden read.(less)
The Stranded, the fifth and final installment in the first Silo saga, follows the continued unraveling after Juliette's expulsion from silo #18 -- the...moreThe Stranded, the fifth and final installment in the first Silo saga, follows the continued unraveling after Juliette's expulsion from silo #18 -- the uprising that continues to wrack the silo's core, Lukas's trials as Bernard's new second, and Juliette's own trials in silo #17.
This last book flowed so urgently from the last (as all of them do, really) that I hardly noticed I was on book five. Actually thought I was on book four for half of this one, until I noticed there really wasn't room left for another book. This is a much longer installment--as Howey says, a full book-length as opposed to the short story and novella lengths of the previous ones. I noticed the longer length as I read, but didn't truly feel the length (wouldn't have guessed it was actually novel sized, as I breezed through it), since the story pace keeps right on going.
I did, however, slow down a bit for another reason. It just got so darn depressing (view spoiler)[with everyone dying and all (hide spoiler)]. Things definitely go from bad to worse, for a while, in this final installment, and I began to wonder if anyone was going to make it.
I docked one star off my rating because I was a bit disappointed in the end, in that the event that seems like the main climactic moment actually ends up happening off-stage, where we don't see it. That is, (view spoiler)[when Bernard ends up getting sent out to cleaning instead of Lukas. I would have liked to see that final tussle and then maybe be left wondering who exactly got sent out to cleaning before the narrative switched back to Juliette for the reveal (hide spoiler)]. Having us not see that conflict at all seemed like a bit of a cop-out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Book 6 of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries seems to be where the books and the TV series really and definitively part ways. Usually I focus on ill...moreBook 6 of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries seems to be where the books and the TV series really and definitively part ways. Usually I focus on illustrating the differences between each book and season. Here, I need only list the similarities, as they are quite few. But let's start with a summary of the book itself.
Definitely Dead finds Sookie dealing with the aftermath of two previous deaths: those of her cousin Hadley--a recently-made vampire and lover of the vampire queen of Louisiana (Okay, here's one difference. In the show, cousin Hadley is half-faerie, like Sookie, not a vampire. Oh, but if I recall correctly (view spoiler)[she does actually die in season 6 (hide spoiler)].), and Alcide's ex-fiancee, crazy were-beotch Debbie Pelt. The Pelt family is still sniffing around Bon Temps trying to get to the bottom of their daughter's/sister's sudden disappearance. Meanwhile, Hadley has named Sookie her heir, and she heads off to New Orleans to deal with all her cousin's stuff, where she meets Hadley's naive and friendly witch landlord and very quickly discovers a dead body stashed in her cousin's apartment. Or...not so dead.
Besides Hadley, the only other storyline similarity to True Blood was taken for an earlier season. In Definitely Dead, the vampire queen of Louisiana has recently contracted marriage with the vampire king of a nearby state who secretly plots to take over her power and fortune (or whatever, I was never too clear on the motivations here). This storyline was modified and used in, I believe, Season 3.
To sum up - another entertaining Sookie installment. Thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to reading the next.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Juliette has been excommunicated from the silo, sent to clean. And her friends in Mechanical now know why. But they can't just sit back and do nothing...moreJuliette has been excommunicated from the silo, sent to clean. And her friends in Mechanical now know why. But they can't just sit back and do nothing while IT pulls the wool over everyone's eyes, justifying their cleanings and outright murder. This is how the uprising begins. And how the uprising ends.
My four, as opposed to five, stars are only because at this point the story breaks off into several different points of view, which I think dilutes the strength of the narrative a bit. (Not that Howey has much choice, since the action is now taking place (view spoiler)[in two different silos (hide spoiler)].)["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In the wake of the recent deaths of Sheriff Holston and (view spoiler)[Mayor Jahns (hide spoiler)], Juliette finds herself far from the Mechanical flo...moreIn the wake of the recent deaths of Sheriff Holston and (view spoiler)[Mayor Jahns (hide spoiler)], Juliette finds herself far from the Mechanical floors of the down deep that she considers home and trying to get her bearing as she takes over the role of silo sheriff. But she can't get over her curiosity about what led to Holston's death. Or her suspicions over the recent murder that still blankets the silo in a pall of tragedy. Yet asking too many questions is what seems to lead to the inevitability of death by cleaning.
Juliette is a great character. This third story continues the highly enjoyable, tension-filled pace of the previous two in the Wool series. I also have to take a few moments to gush over how much I love Howey's series and story titles. Wool, the title of the series and of the first installment, has several meanings in and of itself. Wool is used for cleaning. It signifies the wool pulled over the eyes of the silo residents--an obscuring of the truth. And yet it is also used to clean the camera lenses, to reveal and expose truth. It also supports the knitting metaphor of the titles of the other installments. And, being a knitter myself, I just love that.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This second installment in the Wool series follows Mayor Jahns, emotionally drained by the recent cleaning of Sheriff Holston, as she and Deputy Marne...moreThis second installment in the Wool series follows Mayor Jahns, emotionally drained by the recent cleaning of Sheriff Holston, as she and Deputy Marnes journey to the down-deep of the silo to find the brilliant young mechanic who they have selected to succeed Holston as sheriff. But Jahns finds her choice for sheriff at odds with the wishes of Bernard, the head of IT. And the conflict leads to much more than she bargained for.
Again, fantastic. Loved the pacing and the slow unfolding reveal and growth of the relationship between Jahns and Marnes (though I can imagine some might find it a bit slow). The ending, again, had the perfect blend of unexpected and dreaded anticipation.(less)
Wool was a fabulous start to Hugh Howey's riveting Wool series. I can see why it was such a runaway success.
This first installment begins with Sherif...moreWool was a fabulous start to Hugh Howey's riveting Wool series. I can see why it was such a runaway success.
This first installment begins with Sheriff Holston's trek up to the top level of the silo--a 100+ floor, self-contained structure buried underground to protect it from the uninhabitable air that now permeates Earth's surface. He is finally ready to declare that he is finished, ready to leave the silo, to clean the camera lenses that allow the silo's only view of the outside and then die out in the poisoned air, just like his wife inexplicably did three years earlier.
Yep. Seriously. Read it.
One sidenote -- Okay, I admit Wool wasn't perfect. In a few places, Howey's prose leave a little smidgen to be desired. For example, the beginning of this first installment takes just a little too long to get started, wallowing in description for several beats too long. He also sometimes relies too heavily on weak verbs. But that's all. Otherwise: fantastic! Surprising! Smart! Unexpected! And this first one (at the moment) is available free on Kindle. And no, I have no connection to the author. :-)(less)