Complex worldbuilding; interesting characters; sweet protagonist (stubborn and earnest and adorable); ridiculous amounts of exposition carried of withComplex worldbuilding; interesting characters; sweet protagonist (stubborn and earnest and adorable); ridiculous amounts of exposition carried of with style plus a bunch of interesting sidelights on the problems of inheriting an empire that behaves like most empires do i.e. problematically, when you've been shat on from a great height all your life, bullied, erased and ignored. Plus, a bunch of politicking (but not too much). Maia's social progressivism is the kind that a 18 year old would have -- and he has the power to back it up. I really hope the author does write more stories in this 'verse.
I rarely read a book more than once any more. I read this at least eight times over the last six months. Note perfect....more
Depressing, and very much of its time. There are better Nevil Shute books, but none perhaps that so neatly encapsualte the sense of inevitable creepinDepressing, and very much of its time. There are better Nevil Shute books, but none perhaps that so neatly encapsualte the sense of inevitable creeping doom that the cold war of the fifties and sixties engendered....more
Fast paced, pointed, very funny to small children.
Re-read as an adult, Willy Wonka is a bigoted maverick who uses sadistic and abusive measures to elFast paced, pointed, very funny to small children.
Re-read as an adult, Willy Wonka is a bigoted maverick who uses sadistic and abusive measures to eliminate the competition (i.e. small children). More than that, Charlie's success is diminished because his victory is rigged.
I much prefer Matilda, with its themes of resilience and internal strength against adult cruelty than this. C&CF's 'karmic' retribution is just ugly, violence against cardboard cut-outs. ...more
I waited for the paperback of the Attenbury Emeralds, and my only regret is not leaving it a little longer and just buying it second hand. The word thI waited for the paperback of the Attenbury Emeralds, and my only regret is not leaving it a little longer and just buying it second hand. The word that comes to mind is shoddy.
Jill Patton Walsh's Peter Wimsey is unrecognisable, self-indulgent, self pitying and out of touch with his core of moral rectitude tempered by feudal sense of obligation and duty.
The opening pages dive straight into anachronistic discussion of 'flashbacks' to the first world war, forgetting apparently, that he was also in the Second. The similarly anachronistic preachiness of toleration and diversity, and the guilty admissions of racist behaviour 'back before the war' is not merely anachronistic guilt about bigotry but inaccurate depictions of bigotry. Anti-Semitism was a worse problem than racism in that period, and yet, it's unlikely that a mixed race woman would be a lecturer at LSE in 1942.
The story itself is involuted, ridiculously dependent on coincidences and silly behaviour, and despite all its twists and turns of seeming complexity, painfully obvious as to who committed the crimes. I admit to a certain incredulity that the person concerned did not find the later murders rather difficult to accomplish given their advancing years. My incredulity is further strained by the self-indulgent tripe based around the problems of insurance claims and death taxes. Peter, we are given to believe by Dorothy Sayers, is a concerned, financially savvy landlord -- but not in this book. Here, apparently he hasn't bothered rebuilding the bombed out land he owns, and the death duties will require all his money, all Denver's money and to sell most the land besides. IHT was high then, yes, but not that high.
Hanging a lantern on the fact that the story requires a series of coincidences, a piece of amazingly poor judgement by Peter in the first section of the story (who has no problem questioning children on other occasions) does not make those instances any better. Indeed, they just make it apparent that the author was well aware of the laziness of her storytelling, but just couldn't be bothered to fix it. Execrable....more
**spoiler alert** Not entirely impressed by Bill Bryson's book on private life. The frame gets lost too often, and to be honest, there should be pictu**spoiler alert** Not entirely impressed by Bill Bryson's book on private life. The frame gets lost too often, and to be honest, there should be pictures of the damn house since he's talking about it so exhaustively. His history shows gaps -- the discussion of orphanages and children misses out completely the charity schools and Coram's Fields (London Hospital for Foundlings). While the detail about the workhouses is good, the elision of previous arrangements is just ignorant. He cites a single example when a study of local parish records for practically anywhere would show a much more pragmatic and non-judgemental set of precedents.
He misses an opportunity to mention the cost of dyes, and the huge industry in mordants and chemical dyes. He touches on sugar, but doesn't really look at it, and its impact in the slavery/cotton/tobacco trade, choosing instead to focus entirely on the cotton gin and its impact on slavery and international trade.
It's an odd melange of a book, the raconteur's after-dinner collection of random facts, figures, people, places and anecdotes. The house's first owner, Mr. Marsham is left as a cypher, anecdotes are given the weight of statistically relevant observations, and stories are presented as 'self-evidently' to be interpreted in a particular way. The bias towards sensationalism is slight but present, and it undermines an otherwise entertaining mish mash of trivia....more
**spoiler alert** It's difficult to think of what to say about Cryoburn. On the one hand, there's plenty of the usual Milesian plot and conspiracy, ac**spoiler alert** It's difficult to think of what to say about Cryoburn. On the one hand, there's plenty of the usual Milesian plot and conspiracy, accidentally uncovered. The kid who is the protagonist for large parts of the story is something of a cypher, I mean, I can't even remember his name. The problem is the book's ending.
For me, the single most affecting bit of the book is the last page, and that has nothing to do with the story, really, except in so far as the whole story is in a somewhat warped sense a kind of dress rehearsal for the ending. The drabbles at the end also really moved me, but they did rather obliterate the rest of the story for me. To a reader unaware of the significance of what was happening, I'm sure the rest of the story was a very serviceable thriller about the perils of cryo-preservation, over-powerful corporations and the abuse of power and corruption of democracy by an unchecked monopolistic free market....more
Not what I was expecting. I mean that in a good way, I should clarify, because the rest of what I say is going to sound fairly negative.
Kvothe is a rNot what I was expecting. I mean that in a good way, I should clarify, because the rest of what I say is going to sound fairly negative.
Kvothe is a rampant Mary-Sue. He has a tragic background, red hair, comes from a persecuted group (but can pass as not Edema Ruh), and makes friends everywhere, except with the requisite and highly over-egged sets of enemies - the supernatural enemies, the super-powerful aristocrat/student. Practically everything he sets his hand to, he succeeds at, and while I presume that the framing device is intended to remind us that he does not, in fact, succeed endlessly but eventually will fail spectacularly, it's not terribly effective. At the end of this book he's still about 16, with dei ex machinae littered all over the place: the credulity is stretched very thin.
On the other hand, the story moves so fast, and is told with such a wry, sardonic voice (with a whoooole ten years perspective...), well aware of the flaws and character defects that Kvothe at the time did not really see, that many of the improbabilities are entirely livable with whilst reading. Best not to pause for too long though. That suspension of belief won't last forever.
A really enjoyable pageturner. Not convinced there's much more to it....more
**spoiler alert** Tiffany is growing up -- practically grown up, and the book feels sad to me -- perhaps not everyone will get that sense, but the tra**spoiler alert** Tiffany is growing up -- practically grown up, and the book feels sad to me -- perhaps not everyone will get that sense, but the transition from girl to woman, with Tiffany taking charge of her own destiny (er, for those who've read it, I know, but how else can you describe either bit?). I loved that Esk reappeared, though I do wish that it hadn't been quite so late in the series.
And yet, I don't really remember much. Roland makes a tit of himself. Tiffany saves the day. Older female character show up and help/nod approvingly/steal food. It felt... subdued. The exuberance of the earlier books is gone. I have no idea if that's Tiffany, or Pratchett himself, who must be going through hell, or simply that I read it when I myself was really sad after a family death....more
Extraordinary. I can see why he had the devil's own job getting a publisher. It's rambling, erudite, not quite non-fiction, but not really fiction, biExtraordinary. I can see why he had the devil's own job getting a publisher. It's rambling, erudite, not quite non-fiction, but not really fiction, biographical, historical, family history, social history...
The kitsune wind through it all, the central pieces, the things around by the story, and the Ephrussis family history, is revealed. It's a difficult book, painful and true and reading it I felt so sad for how things were: the anti-semitism, the Nazis, the deaths and losses. But it doesn't set out to be sad, it doesn't pretend there aren't sad things, but they are part of the story, not the point of the story.
I'm glad I read it. I will probably read it again one day, once I have had time to let the story fade a little, because it deserves my fullest attention....more