There's a lot to like in here: well-researched medieval setting, interesting near-future academic setting, wry British humor (Willis clearly has comedThere's a lot to like in here: well-researched medieval setting, interesting near-future academic setting, wry British humor (Willis clearly has comedic chops)...
...and there needed to be about 100 pages less of it. As much as there were things I really liked, this book dragged. It took me over 200 pages to get into it, and that's a LONG time to spend reading a book before it starts feeling like it's going. This is especially true for this book, which deals with pandemics; Willis's particular comedic skills are difficult to display when Things Get Depressing.
I'd still like to pick up To Say Nothing of the Dog, which I'm assured is much more comedic, but I would only recommend this one if you've already read other Willis and liked it....more
This was a truly fantastic volume. Schiff is a great writer -- she has amazing prose skills -- and clearly an excellent researcher as well. This wentThis was a truly fantastic volume. Schiff is a great writer -- she has amazing prose skills -- and clearly an excellent researcher as well. This went into amazing detail about the trials, without pushing any one view on why the trials happened. To my mind, that's a huge virtue -- it's such a complex situation that hinging everything on One Particular Thing just doesn't work. It's not just teenage girls or economic worries or Wabanaki attacks or such; it's everything.
Well-written, well-researched, and just a fantastic piece....more
Ohhh this was a pile of fun. This is the kind of book that sucks you in and several hours later spits you out, dazed. It's Jemisin's first published nOhhh this was a pile of fun. This is the kind of book that sucks you in and several hours later spits you out, dazed. It's Jemisin's first published novel, and it's a great debut for sure. Not as polished as her later work, but full of the same fire and inventiveness (and in this case, a great deal of sexiness). Well worth a read, and I'm looking forward to the next book....more
I do not have particularly nice things to say about this book.
It's your typical Llewellyn book, although perhaps better researched than most. There isI do not have particularly nice things to say about this book.
It's your typical Llewellyn book, although perhaps better researched than most. There is a real and viable bibliography, and I almost bumped it up to two stars just for the bibliography. And as much as this book frustrated the hell out of me, it's hard for me to not feel kindly toward Scott Cunningham.
But omg everything else.
Why do these foods have these correspondences? Who the hell knows, really, though there's a little collecting of myth to back up some of them... or give an opposing opinion. There's no real magical system backing any of this up, and although I know that this is essentially an introductory fluff book, I like seeing actual *systems* in play -- what can I say.
Where does the health information come from? Not any sort of NIH study or anything like that. Just... wherever it is that people decide to pull health information from. It's one thing to say "hey, eat your veggies they're good for you" and another to start talking about the pointed benefits of certain foods without backing those benefits up. I mean, I know it's a woo-woo book, but still. Don't dole out health advice if you can't back it up.
There's also some really weird light-n-love judginess in here. There's no place for drunkenness or drugs in magic and spirituality!... but then mention Dionysian rites in under a page. You can't be loved if you don't love yourself!... really hoping no one who's depressed is reading that. I understand the impulses he's getting at -- don't rely on booze and your life improves immeasurably if you make the effort to get to know and love yourself -- but damn. Phrasing does actually matter.
That being said, some of the recipes from the back of the book DO look tasty and I may try them....more
I really really enjoyed this. In some ways, this is early microhistorical research; Power focuses on using previously overlooked information (such asI really really enjoyed this. In some ways, this is early microhistorical research; Power focuses on using previously overlooked information (such as household rolls, wills, and other mundane documentation) to provide insight into the daily lives of different social classes and areas throughout the Middle Ages. She's engaging, and certainly opinionated. I'd highly recommend this....more
This is a weird fucking book. And let me say that I loved that weird. All the oddities of this book -- the mirror worlds, the way that magic works witThis is a weird fucking book. And let me say that I loved that weird. All the oddities of this book -- the mirror worlds, the way that magic works with ascendant stars, the walking trees and carnivorous plants and just -- whoa that was some great stuff. The differences between our culture and the culture of the Dhai, Dorinah, and Saiduan was also wonderful -- from the Dhai insistence on consent for all contact and the group marriages, to the way that the gender role reversal in Dorinah left me reeling at times in ways that even this proud feminist had to admit were surprising. Yes. Good. More of this, please. More weird like this. It can be hard to wrap your head around this weird -- but it's so much fun to try.
The plot? Definitely a save-the-world quest, except pleasantly complex.
The things that detracted? Well, Hurley's not exactly the best prose artist. The use of the word "chitinous" in the first chapter made me want to put the book down -- it was a bit much. For most of the book this isn't a big issue: The prose is not bad, not great, just sort of carries you along, and occasionally rises to make some excellent quotes. But in the very first chapter, it really, really made me wanna bang my head against the wall. I was also frustrated by the ending of the book, or the lack thereof. This is clearly the first in a series, because although there is an ending, it's not of the sort that leaves you sitting there, satisfied. To be fair, this is a great way to get people to read the next book, because I'm sitting here pondering if I should stick it on my list; but it's also rough when all you've got is this one 500-page novel sitting in front of you and you're like but wait what....more