My son has been pestering me for years to read more books in the Dresdaen Files series, by Jim Butcher, so when I saw White Night on the library shelf...moreMy son has been pestering me for years to read more books in the Dresdaen Files series, by Jim Butcher, so when I saw White Night on the library shelf I picked it up. It was a fun, fast read and just what I needed to distract me from a number of stressful things going on in my life recently. There's nothing like reading about people with problems that make your own look tame, to help you put things into perspective--even if you're sure you'll never meet a zombie or a vampire in your life.
I was especially pleased that even though I picked up a book in the middle of the series years after having read only the first, I never felt as if there were important things I'd missed (although I do want to know more about his dog, Mouse--in fact, I want a dog like Mouse), nor did I feel he was overloading me with backstory. For that alone, Jim Butcher deserves kudos.
I'm sure that I'll be reading more in the series. Which is good, because Butcher and his wife, author Shannon K. Butcher, will be coming to Tucson this november for our local scifi con, TusCon.(less)
I found this story disturbing and compelling. Although I read it several years ago, the images and voice have stayed with me. Oz was such a simple pla...moreI found this story disturbing and compelling. Although I read it several years ago, the images and voice have stayed with me. Oz was such a simple place before I read this book, a place my inner child could be happy, but now I see it with an adult's cynical eyes. I can't say I'm entirely pleased by this.(less)
As a child, I loved the series of which this book is a part. I enjoyed reading it again; it's always wonderful to find that a childhood favorite doesn...moreAs a child, I loved the series of which this book is a part. I enjoyed reading it again; it's always wonderful to find that a childhood favorite doesn't disappoint when read as an adult.(less)
This novel hit just the right notes time and time again. Dogland, the attraction, is so quintessentially American that just about anyone who has ever...moreThis novel hit just the right notes time and time again. Dogland, the attraction, is so quintessentially American that just about anyone who has ever taken a road trip in America will respond to it. (I have to admit that the time and place were particularly poignant for me, because of the many road trips my family took to Florida, starting just a few years after 1959, the year the novel is set.) Luke Nix's wild stories reminded me very much of my own father, who loved to tell tall tales to his children and still brags about having fooled us into believing he had fought in the French and Indian War. Grandma Bette's adamant rejection of any claims that the family is not of pure European extraction has been played out in many American families and the conflict around the hiring of Ethorne Hawkins, a black man, in the rural South is another classic American theme. This book is complex and goes far beyond its genre classification. It may not be the ever elusive Great American Novel, but it comes darn close.(less)
Romance, mystery, magic. And a slow build to a creepy finish.
I was especially disturbed by the protagonist's ex-boss, Penelope, aka The Bee Hive. I'v...moreRomance, mystery, magic. And a slow build to a creepy finish.
I was especially disturbed by the protagonist's ex-boss, Penelope, aka The Bee Hive. I've read articles about workplace bullying on Monster.com, but this story really brings that kind of situation and its emotional toll to life.
The romance was fun; not at all traditional, and very well handled.
I really enjoyed the way the mirror was handled. I can remember being both frightened and fascinated by mirrors when I was a child; I was certain that there was another universe on the other side and that if I watched closely enough I would eventually catch one of the people I could see there in an action that didn't exactly match those on our side, so when the mirror began to act up, I was instantly suspicious of what the results would be. While drawing on the classic fairytale concept of a magic mirror, as well as upon traditional horror approaches to mirrors, the mirror in Life Through Cellophane is entirely itself and doesn't feel cliched. I also loved the way the ants were at once a whimsical touch and an analogue for what might happen to humans in their interactions with the mirror.
If you're looking for an urban fantasy that doesn't just follow the same old standard tropes, I recommend you give this book a try.(less)
**spoiler alert** I was very disappointed in The Wind Singer by William Nicholson. It seems to be an overly simplistic "message" book about the value...more**spoiler alert** I was very disappointed in The Wind Singer by William Nicholson. It seems to be an overly simplistic "message" book about the value of nonconformity, but that message is garbled by many other messages, many of which I can only hope were unintended. How this ever won an award is beyond me.
I didn't mind the prologue while reading it, but it did bother me that the central questions raised in it (Who are the mysterious strangers who came to Aramanth and built the wind singer? Why did they build it? How did they come by the silver object that gives the wind singer voice? Etc.) are not answered, nor do they seem to be central to the story. Instead, the wind singer seems to hold much the same function as a deus ex machina, except that instead of solving a problem within the story, it's used to kick the whole thing off.
Then we get into the first chapter, in which we meet the Hath family, and which starts with a string of nonsense words that we soon discover are intended to be cuss words. To make matters worse, the speaker is Ira Hath, mother of the children who are the main viewpoint characters, Bowman and Kestrel, and their baby sister, Pinpin. Ira's entire dialog in the first chapter consisted of these cuss words and simple, two or three word sentences bewailing fate, plus she was incapable of dressing herself, thrusting her arms through the seams of her dress instead of into the arms, leaving me to wonder if we were supposed to interpret her as mentally challenged. Then the whole family heads off to Pinpin's first test, an extremely important and public event, with Ira still wearing the torn gown and no one worried or making a comment about it, not even the snippy neighbors or the arrogant officials, in a society where one's clothing (or at least its color) is indicative of one's social standing.
I was bothered by social issues that were not directly, or only peripherally, related to those at the core of the story's message. The Hath parents were kind, loving, and understanding, but Ira Hath in particular was incapable of regulating her own actions and this was contextualized as a good thing, even though her actions put her family at risk. The mud people who lived underneath the city, covered in mud that created by the effluvia of the sewers seemed a naive and simplistically rendered version of the stereotypical "happy savage," while the Ombaraka and Omchaka came across as a cross between nomadic peoples and clueless sports fans playing silly games.
Near the end of the children's journey, the reader is told that Bo has become the natural leader of the group, although in many ways it was Kestrel's courage and steadfastness that kept them going. I surprised and bothered me, not just because from that point forward, Bo (a boy) displaced Kestral (a girl) from the leadership position, but also because it wasn't in keeping with my interpretation of the story and the relationships between the children up to that point. They each had their roles and worked very well together as a team, but none of them would have made it on their own.
I also found the actions of the "heroes" in defending themselves against the "old children" and the Zars to be disturbing. But, it wasn't really their actions, so much as their lack of emotional consequence for their actions. Each of the children kills, and none of them suffer emotional consequences as a result. For anyone, much less a child, to kill and feel no real remorse or upset is psychopathy. This was especially disturbing to me after Mumpo and Bo were turned into Zars and then rehabilitated, for it suggests that the Zars are just as much victims of the Morah as anyone else, perhaps more so.
Finally, the Morah, and the hold she held upon the people of Aramanth, is problematic, for it suggests that the people of the city were not responsible for their actions, right or wrong. If all of the people in the city were victims of mind control, then we can hold none accountable for their actions, with the possible exceptions of Kestral, Bo, and, maybe, Mumpo.
All in all, I found this book intensely dissatisfying. It was competently enough written, but it struck exactly the wrong political and social notes for me, over and over again. While I chose not to restrict my now-grown children's reading, this is not a book I would have put in their hands, and I would have felt the need to talk with them about my concerns.(less)
I borrowed this book from the library and read it as a child. I loved it. The dark brooding setting and the ending haunted me for years, but I was una...moreI borrowed this book from the library and read it as a child. I loved it. The dark brooding setting and the ending haunted me for years, but I was unable to remember the author's name or the title of the book.
Many years later an friend and I were discussing books we'd loved as children and it turned out that not only had she also loved the book, but she knew the title and the author's name. Another friend, intrigued by our conversation, found and ordered a used copy, so I was finally able to reread the book.
I was amazed in my rereading to see that it was even darker than I had remembered. Also, the protagonist, Tha, was a very angry girl whose attitude and actions were such that my adult self had trouble liking her. Had I not reread the book, I'm sure I would have given it the highest rating, based on the connection I felt as a child, but having reread it, I find my discomfort with the moral ambiguities and the angry nature of the protagonist temper my rating.(less)
The plot, setting, and basic storytelling are well done and the story took some unexpected turns, which is always refreshing, but the characters felt...moreThe plot, setting, and basic storytelling are well done and the story took some unexpected turns, which is always refreshing, but the characters felt a bit flat to me. (less)
This collection of short stories by Charles de Lint had stories of somewhat uneven quality. Perhaps, since I've read so much de Lint (and this was a s...moreThis collection of short stories by Charles de Lint had stories of somewhat uneven quality. Perhaps, since I've read so much de Lint (and this was a second read of this volume for me) I've simply come to hold him to a higher standard. The short story "Held Safe by Moonlight and Vines," from which the book takes its title, is one of my favorites, and I enjoyed several of the others, particularly in the second half of the book, but I felt that a few were not as strong as I've come to expect from de Lint. Overall, a good read. The worst de Lint is still better than most of what's out there; he's an amazing writer.(less)
It had been many years since I read this book, so all I really remembered going in was that it involved poker, superstitions, and California. Of cours...moreIt had been many years since I read this book, so all I really remembered going in was that it involved poker, superstitions, and California. Of course, as this is a book by Tim Powers, it was far more complex than that. I love Powers' ability to weave seemingly diverse concepts into a whole, and the way his stories make sense, if one can only bend one's mind into a pretzel. I also love the many literary references, although I'm sure I caught only the top of the iceberg.
This book was crazy, wild, anxiety producing, and a whole lot of fun. Go read it.(less)
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved re-reading it for the Endicott Mythic Fiction group, even though circumstances meant I was late doi...moreThis is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved re-reading it for the Endicott Mythic Fiction group, even though circumstances meant I was late doing so. It's a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.(less)
There are very few books of a thousand pages that can satisfy on every page, leaving the reader wishing for more. This is such a book. Truly marvelous...moreThere are very few books of a thousand pages that can satisfy on every page, leaving the reader wishing for more. This is such a book. Truly marvelous.(less)
Far too much time had passed between the last time I read this book and this most recent reading. There is so much more to this story than is caught i...moreFar too much time had passed between the last time I read this book and this most recent reading. There is so much more to this story than is caught in the screen version. Don't get me wrong, the movie with Judy Garland is one of my favorites and always will be, but I loved reading the many struggles Dorothy encountered that never made it to the screen. Highly recommended.(less)