A decently entertaining addition to the Shadow Saga. Bean and three of his children race against time to cure their fatal giantism while preserving thA decently entertaining addition to the Shadow Saga. Bean and three of his children race against time to cure their fatal giantism while preserving their superintelligence. Emotion features heavily in most of Card’s books, and this one too felt overly emotional. I enjoyed the flashbacks and allusions to Ender’s Game and subsequent books, but they were too large a part of this book.
I liked learning more about the Formics. The character development was lacking; Bean's children struck me as derivations of Ender, Peter, and Valentine, with the attributes of a few other characters mixed in.
Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books. I had mixed feelings about previous books in the Ender’s Shadow series (my ratings ranged from 2 to 4 stars). This one falls near the low end of the spectrum.
I was disappointed by this short book about religious and cultural expression in the Battle School. It takes place around Christmas, and it reminded mI was disappointed by this short book about religious and cultural expression in the Battle School. It takes place around Christmas, and it reminded me of a Christmas special TV show; it didn’t seem to fit the overall series, and nothing of significance to the series occurs.
I’m not completely sure what Card was trying to say about Christianity, other than making a statement that religion can be used hypocritically. I liked the short scene with Peter Wiggin and his mother (Theresa), and wished there was more about the Wiggins....more
An entertaining story for those with a geeky background and familiarity with the 1980s. The plethora of references to sci-fi, video games, comics, andAn entertaining story for those with a geeky background and familiarity with the 1980s. The plethora of references to sci-fi, video games, comics, and fantasy brought back a lot of fun memories. The story starts slow but ramps up, and the plot becomes more engaging. Overall, I felt that the story seemed hollow and lacking a deeper meaning.
I thought that things went too well for Wade, especially in the OASIS. I thought he was unrealistically good at the games and 1980s trivia.
Even though I only spent 4 years in the 1980s (I'm much more familiar with the 1990s), I did get most of the cultural references. I disliked the juvenile profanity; I realize it's part of story, but I would’ve preferred it without. I also disliked the jabs at Christianity and God, and I'm glad they were few and had little effect on the story.
Wil Wheaton makes an excellent narrator for the audiobook....more
This classic includes themes of vanity, obsession with youth and beauty, manipulation and influence, and sin and corruption. I was a bit underwhelmedThis classic includes themes of vanity, obsession with youth and beauty, manipulation and influence, and sin and corruption. I was a bit underwhelmed given this story’s reputation. I found it too long, and some parts didn’t seem to contribute to the story, such as the descriptions of Dorian’s art collection, and the lengthy descriptions of historical people. The writing is great, and I was amused by the details of Victorian life displayed by Lord Henry and Dorian (dress, pastimes, speech).
An excellent commentary on the story is Lord Henry’s quotation of the preacher citing Mark 8:36: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
Quotes “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”
“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
“When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”
“Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is by far the best ending for one.”
“Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever. It is a meaningless word, too. The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.”
“Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul.”
“To realize one's nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self.”
“The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion—these are the two things that govern us.” ...more
A gripping, bleak story of survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Its themes include despair, hope, morality, responsibility, and familial love. ThA gripping, bleak story of survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Its themes include despair, hope, morality, responsibility, and familial love. The story seemed somehow lacking and incomplete, but I can’t articulate how. I was satisfied with the end.
The audiobook by Recorded Books is very well done....more
This modern fable teaches that businesspeople play an important role in doing God’s work by financially supporting the church. Although I agree with tThis modern fable teaches that businesspeople play an important role in doing God’s work by financially supporting the church. Although I agree with that, and the book makes a few other worthwhile points, I was disappointed to find that it teaches the unbiblical prosperity theology (AKA prosperity gospel, AKA health and wealth gospel). For examples, see Principle 1: “Work Hard and God Will Prosper You”, and Principle 2: “Financial Prosperity is Connected to Soul Prosperity.” With unbiblical lessons like these, I can’t recommend this book.
Although some Bible references are listed at the end of the book, many statements are made without references and without adequate explanation. I realize that it’s meant to be written as an easy-to-read story, but I found it far too shallow.
This quote from near the end of the book sums up the main point: “God has designed a special relationship between businessmen and leaders in the church. We, as businessmen, can provide the provision for the vision of the priests.”
Parts I liked or agreed with • “Your vocation is your calling. It’s the thing that you were born to do. And when you do it, it’s not really work at all.” • “When Jesus was talking to the rich young ruler, He was dealing with him specifically, not with everyone generally. Jesus knew that the young man had made an idol out of money, and He wanted the man to be free. He knew that the only way for the many to be free was to get rid of the thing that held him captive.” • “Jesus encountered other men of considerable wealth and never asked them to sell all their things. Zebedee, Zaccheus, Matthew the tax collector, the Roman officer, and Nicodemus, just to name a few.” • “God desires for your soul to prosper above all else.” • Sometimes difficulty means God is closing a door, but more often it means He’s testing our character or preparing us for something.
Parts I disliked or disagreed with • Referring to kingship in Rev. 1:6, the book says, “A king is like a man who runs a business.” I believe the Bible refers to believers as “kings” to show that we rule and will rule with Christ in His kingdom (Luke 22:29, Jam. 2:5, Rev. 5:10, Rev. 22:5, Rev. 2:26-27). • “Principle 1: Work Hard and God Will Prosper You.” • The book applies Deut 28:1, “God promises wealth to those people that love Him and keep His commands,” to all Christians. • The book applies 3 John 2, a letter to Gaius which begins, “Beloved, I wish you prosperity and good health, even as your soul prospers,” to all Christians. • “Unless He specifically calls you to a vow of poverty, as your relationship with Him grows, then He wants you to prosper financially.”
• The book says that Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” “means that if you are delighting him Him, seeking after Him and honoring Him, His desires will more naturally become your desires.” The book also references Matt. 6:33. • “Principle 2: Financial Prosperity is Connected to Soul Prosperity.” • The book says that Matt. 5:5 means, “He [God] wants us to be meek toward Him, not toward men.” • The book says that Rom. 13:8, “Owe no man but for your love,” means, “you are never to owe money. If you want to buy something, but don’t have the money for it, you don’t buy it.”
Part I’m unsure about The “eye of the needle” referred to small doors in Jerusalem’s gates that required a camel to crawl through on its knees. So, it wasn’t impossible for a camel to go through, but it was difficult.
Notes on Prosperity Theology My wife was reading Money Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn at the same time I was reading this book, and she recommended it. I read the chapter on Prosperity Theology and made these notes:
• If God wants all His people to be materially successful, why weren’t Jesus, the disciples, Paul, and others? • In the New Testament, the Greek word “ploutos” is used 11 times to refer to spiritual, not material, riches: Rom. 11:33, Eph. 1:18, Phil. 4:19, Col. 1:27. • God doesn’t promise material success to His people. See Job 1:8, Job 42:7, Luke 16:19-31, Luke 6:20-25, 2 Tim. 3:12, 1 Pet. 5:9, John 15:18-20, Matt. 10:16-20, John 16:33, Luke 14:33, Phil. 3:7-8.
Other verses to consider: Luke 12:15 and Matt. 6:19-21. ...more
One of my favorite sci-fi series. A gripping post-apocalyptic dystopian tale filled with mystery, conspiracy, and action. I was intrigued from the firOne of my favorite sci-fi series. A gripping post-apocalyptic dystopian tale filled with mystery, conspiracy, and action. I was intrigued from the first chapter, and the revelations of the society’s unknown past and present kept me reading. Its themes include classism, freedom, and the consequences of ideas and actions.
With this finale, the Silo series has become one of my favorites. It contains action-packed races against time, and further unravels the mystery of thWith this finale, the Silo series has become one of my favorites. It contains action-packed races against time, and further unravels the mystery of the silos. I was satisfied with the end, but I had a few unanswered questions. For example, (view spoiler)[what’s the story behind the dome? What happened to the rest of the world? What happens to the other silos in the future? How did Thurman survive going outside? Fortunately, I found Hugh Howey’s answers to a few of these questions after I finished the series. (hide spoiler)]
(view spoiler)[As a Christian I didn't like how the church members were portrayed as not only mentally unbalanced but outright evil. I hope Howey was trying to show how people can corrupt religion to suit their own purposes, and not intending to make a commentary that Christianity itself is corrupt. (hide spoiler)]
Quotes “‘You were just doing your job,’ she answered him. And then she thought just how powerful that sentiment was, how far down a nasty road that could take a person, shuffling along and simply doing their job.”
(view spoiler)[“‘You’re too young to understand this, but the most difficult task mankind ever tried to master - and that we never quite managed - was how to pass supreme power from one hand to the next. … Until now. We solved it here with the cryopods and the shifts. Power is temporary, and it never leaves the same few hands. There is no transfer of power.’” (hide spoiler)]
“Their days were counted. The idea of saving anything was folly, a life especially. No life had ever been truly saved, not in the history of mankind. They were merely prolonged. Everything comes to an end.”
(view spoiler)[“He lowered himself to the floor and took a deep sniff, noted the smell of leaves and pine trees, of lemon and a time forgotten, back when things grew and the world smelled fresh.” - Description of Darcy smelling a cleaned concrete floor. (hide spoiler)]
“Sleep was a vehicle for passing the time, for avoiding the present. It was a trolley for the depressed, the impatient, and the dying.”
“‘I used to play solitaire for hours on my computer upstairs, and that’s when by brain was truly off and I wasn’t miserable. But then, I wasn’t really alive, either.’”["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This immediately became one of my favorite sci-fi books. It's a prequel to Wool, telling how deceit and abuse of power brought the world to the stateThis immediately became one of my favorite sci-fi books. It's a prequel to Wool, telling how deceit and abuse of power brought the world to the state it's in in Wool. It's gripping like Wool, but it's even more bleak, chilling, and sad. The scope is much larger. I enjoyed the gradual revelation of past events. I felt like Donald, of whom the book says, “He was beginning to see it, the entire picture, zooming out of the schematic until the whole was laid bare.”
The sense of morality and consequences is even stronger than in Wool. Several times I thought of the quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
He certainly has flaws, but for some reason I connected more with Donald than with Juliette in Wool. I thought Jimmy's sections were too many and too long. Like Wool, I found some details far-fetched, such as how long things last in the silos. Overall, though, I liked this book even better than Wool, and I can’t wait to read Dust.
Quotes (view spoiler)[“Donald was verging on the sad realization that humanity had been thrown to the brink of extinction by insane men in positions of power following one another, each thinking the others knew where they were going.” (hide spoiler)]
“Thoughts and memories reluctantly assembled like exhausted soldiers roused from their bunks in the middle of the night and told to form ranks in the freezing rain.”
“It was all according to protocol. The system could be trusted—it was designed to just go. All anyone needed to do was their own job and let others handle the rest.”
(view spoiler)["Donald was reminded of how each silo has a mayor for shaking hands and keeping up appearances, just as the world of before had presidents who came and went. Meanwhile, it was the men in the shadows who wielded the true power, those whose terms had no limits." (hide spoiler)]
(view spoiler)[“It was supposed to be people who died and cultures that lasted. Now it was the other way around.” (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
One of the best sci-fi books I’ve read; a gripping post-apocalyptic dystopian tale filled with mystery, conspiracy, and action. I was intrigued from tOne of the best sci-fi books I’ve read; a gripping post-apocalyptic dystopian tale filled with mystery, conspiracy, and action. I was intrigued from the first chapter, and the revelations of the society’s unknown past and present kept me reading. Its themes include classism, freedom, and the consequences of ideas and actions.
The character development is generally good, but I didn’t connect with any of the protagonists. I liked how Bernard grew in complexity from a seemingly one-dimensional character, as you came to understand his motives and situation. (view spoiler)[I wish the story told more about Holston and Allison. (hide spoiler)]
As a former IT professional, I found the IT department’s role interesting.
Some parts were annoyingly unrealistic. (view spoiler)[I grew tired of Juliette’s close calls with death, and several scenes dragged on; for example, Juliette’s trip to and into Silo 17 (The Unraveling), and Juliette’s underwater ordeal (The Stranded). (hide spoiler)]
Quotes (view spoiler)[“He stuffed a fistful of deadly rounds in his pocket, thinking how each one could end an individual life, and understanding why such things were forbidden. Killing a man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one’s conscience to get in the way.” (hide spoiler)]
“It means we can't change what's already happened, but we can have an impact on what happens next.”
(view spoiler)[“Some men are like a virus. Unless you want to see a plague break out, you inoculate the silo against them. You remove them.”
“And Peter had a decision to make. Was he the final law, or did he owe something to those who put him in place? Did he do what was right, or what was expected of him? It was so easy to do the latter, but Peter Billings was a good man.”(view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I quite enjoyed this selection of Tolkien’s “fairy tales” and poems. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors, and I should have read this book years agoI quite enjoyed this selection of Tolkien’s “fairy tales” and poems. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors, and I should have read this book years ago. I read it because it’s frequently referenced by Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor.
Roverandom is a children’s story about a dog who encounters magicians and has adventures on the moon and under the sea. It was too silly for my tastes.
Farmer Giles of Ham is about a simple farmer who finds himself fighting a giant and a dragon with luick and wits. I liked this much more than Roverandom. It read more like a somewhat comical legend.
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of 16 poems. Disappointingly, only two feature Tom Bombadil (three, if you count The Stone Toll, which mentions a "Tom"). In The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Tom encounters Goldberry, Old Man Willow, and a barrow-wight, among others. At the end he catches and marries Goldberry. In Bombadil Goes Boating, Tom encounters hobbits, and he and Farmer Maggot tell each other about events near the Shire. I liked The Hoard, which tells of a treasure that passes from elves to a dwarf to a dragon to a king before being lost and forgotten. Many of Tolkien’s works emphasize the value of the enjoyable things in life (friends, food, song, etc.) over treasure. The Last Ship is about a mortal woman who sees the last elvish ship row towards the Gray Havens on its way to Elvenhome. The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late, The Stone Troll, and Oliphaunt appear in The Lord of the Rings.
Smith of Wooton Major is the tale of a smith who on several occasions leaves his village to adventure in Faery. The villagers don’t believe in Faery; they’re oblivious to the influence of its inhabitants and their “magic.” They laugh at Faery as something silly and childish. This was my favorite part of this book; it read like a fairy tale.
Leaf by Niggle is an allegory about the process of creating, the wise use of time, life, death, afterlife, and God’s grace. One can see many of Tolkien’s attributes in Niggle. I really enjoyed it.
On Fairy-Stories is Tolkien’s essay on reading, evaluating, and writing fairy stories. It was fairly interesting.
Tolkien believes that children shouldn’t be spared the “gruesome” aspects or “horror” of fairy stories, “unless they are spared the whole story until their digestions are stronger.” He says, “...in my opinion fairy-stories should not be specially associated with children.” He says, “If fairy-story as a kind is worth reading at all it is worthy to be written for and read by adults. They will, of course, put more in and get more out than children can.”
Tolkien presents his idea of eucatastrophe: "the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous 'turn' (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale)."
Tolkien says that even with the option of reading science, people still like fairy-stories because “there is a part of man which is not ‘Nature’, and which therefore is not obliged to study it, and is, in fact, wholly unsatisfied by it.”
Quotes Roverandom “Motor after motor racketed by… all making all speed (and all dust and all smell) to somewhere. [Rover grumbled] as he coughed and choked; and his feet got tired on the hard, gloomy, black roads. So he turned into the fields, and had many mild adventures of the bird and rabbit sort in an aimless kind of way.” - Narrator
Farmer Giles of Ham “The time was not one of hurry or bustle. But bustle has very little to do with business. Men did their work without it; and they got through a deal both of work and of talk.” - Narrator
Smith of Wooton Major “Do not be grieved for me, Starbrow. Nor too much ashamed of your own folk. Better a little doll, maybe, than no memory of Faery at all.” - The Queen of Faery, to Smith, referring to the dancing figure placed on the Great Cake at the Children’s Feast.
Leaf by Niggle “Things might have been different, but they could not have been better.” - Niggle, to Parish.
On Fairy-Stories “The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things:... shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.”
“A ‘fairy-story’ is one which touches on or uses Faerie… Faerie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic — but it is magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific, magician. There is one proviso: if there is any satire present in the tale, one thing must not be made fun of, the magic itself. That must in that story be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away.”
“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man's history.” “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.” “The Christian joy… is preeminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. But this story is supreme; and it is true.” ...more
The stories in this book are average as Sherlock Holmes stories go. Overall, the mysteries and their investigations and solutions are entertaining. ThThe stories in this book are average as Sherlock Holmes stories go. Overall, the mysteries and their investigations and solutions are entertaining. The book is long; 12 stories that take 10.3 hours in audio.
Notes & Quotes Adventure 1: "A Scandal in Bohemia" Holmes learns to respect women when he's outsmarted by a woman. "And that was how...the best plans of Mr. Sherlock Holmes were beaten by a woman's wit. He used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late."
Adventure 2: "The Red-Headed League" "You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right." - Holmes
Adventure 4: "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" Holmes, to a murderer who will soon die: "You are yourself aware that you will soon have to answer for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes."
Adventure 8: "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" "It's a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime it is the worst of all." - Holmes
Adventure 10: "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" "This looks like one of those unwelcome social summonses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie." - Holmes Holmes, to an American: "It is always a joy to meet an American, Mr. Moulton, for I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes."
Adventure 12: "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" "Data! Data! Data!" he [Holmes] cried impatiently. "I can't make bricks without clay."...more
This is a popular book, so I know I'm "supposed" to like it, but I didn't. I almost gave up out of disinterest several times between pages 60 and 100,This is a popular book, so I know I'm "supposed" to like it, but I didn't. I almost gave up out of disinterest several times between pages 60 and 100, but kept going. It got slightly more interesting near the end, but I never really cared about the plot or any characters.
I like some mystery, but too much about the people, events, locations, and history were left unexplained. You get glimpses and hints, but too much is left to inference and speculation.
I noted several areas where it appears that this book influenced the movie The Matrix, including terms such as "matrix", "jack in", "Zion", and similarities in characters and events.
Quotes "Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding."
"For thousands of years men dreamed of pacts with demons. Only now are such things possible." - Michele, speaking of AI....more
I read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I'm pretty sure I reI read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I'm pretty sure I read this in 2001, around the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks. I read this book because I played the PC game based on it....more
I read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I also remember likiI read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I also remember liking this book much more than the movie....more
I enjoyed the first three quarters of the book, but then it became too bizarre for my tastes. It’s also darker than I prefer; several characters are tI enjoyed the first three quarters of the book, but then it became too bizarre for my tastes. It’s also darker than I prefer; several characters are twisted and cruel, and there are a few gruesome injuries and deaths. The novel jumps between three main storylines at different points in humanity's future, each one littered with suspenseful cliffhangers.
I liked the futuristic technology, including the space tech and medical tech, including the genetic modifications. I also liked reading the story of the first ships to leave Earth to colonize another planet. Overall, I didn’t care much for the protagonist.
(view spoiler)[After I while I tired of Tanner/Cahuella/Sky’s identity crisis. As he put it, “Keeping track of these shifting layers of identity and memory was like holding the weave of a complex tapestry in mind.” Although it was an intriguing element to the story, it was so drawn out that it became tedious. The Grubs were also too far-fetched for my tastes. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The fantasy quest achieves a much grander scale here than the previous two books in the trilogy (Sheepfarmer's Daughter and Divided Allegiance). It haThe fantasy quest achieves a much grander scale here than the previous two books in the trilogy (Sheepfarmer's Daughter and Divided Allegiance). It has a more complex and compelling plot, and more action and adventure. The tale involves loyalty, faith, mystery, magic, and clashes of good and evil.
(view spoiler)[After everything she went through in the prior books, I enjoyed seeing Paksenarrion gain powers and confidence. The end seemed somewhat abrupt. (hide spoiler)]
I'm a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, and it's clear from the peoples, cultures, and history in this book that Elizabeth Moon was greatly influenced by Tolkien's Middle-Earth. There are dwarves, orcs, evil spiders, elves, a "magical" elvish Lady living in a forest, gods ranked below a supreme god, magic, a legendary sword, a quest to place a king on a throne, and multi-racial battles against overwhelming odds.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book is darker, more mysterious, and more engaging than the first two Sherlock Holmes books. My interest didn't taper off as it did with those (AThis book is darker, more mysterious, and more engaging than the first two Sherlock Holmes books. My interest didn't taper off as it did with those (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four). The pace does slow down somewhat when Holmes fades into the background for much of the story, and Watson takes the spotlight.
I didn’t find the mystery as compelling as A Study in Scarlet, but Watson’s romantic interest made an interesting subplot. The story shows the consequI didn’t find the mystery as compelling as A Study in Scarlet, but Watson’s romantic interest made an interesting subplot. The story shows the consequences of greed, deception, and revenge, as well as justice and the value of love over wealth.
The book is certainly a product of its time; I grimaced every time I read one of the racist sentences about “animal” or “bestial” “savages”. Oh, and Holmes does cocaine.
Befitting his character, Holmes is far from a romantic; he tells Watson, "I would not tell them too much. Women are never to be entirely trusted, -- not the best of them." Later, he says to Watson, “But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.”
This murder mystery, the first published story about Sherlock Holmes, isn’t as suspenseful as I had expected. The first part introduces Dr. Watson andThis murder mystery, the first published story about Sherlock Holmes, isn’t as suspenseful as I had expected. The first part introduces Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes and tells how they met. Holmes begins as an unknown, eccentric, insightful young man, and quickly proves his abilities to Scotland Yard. I was confused when the second part started, because it jumps from London to Utah, with the Mormons settling Salt Lake City. It took me a while to realize that this story was connected to the first. I’ve always liked Sherlock Holmes, but had never read Doyle’s original works. Now I intend to read others.
I like the line Holmes delivers to Watson: "There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."
(view spoiler)[The second story depicts the Mormons as a dangerous cult with a far, murderous reach. I found it more suspenseful than the first story in London. When his betrothed dies after she’s kidnapped by Mormons, Jefferson Hope becomes “determined that [he] should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one.” His obsession with revenge causes him to spend decades pursuing two men through cities and overseas. Even though he dies satisfied with how he’s spent his life, I think he wasted it. (hide spoiler)]
There’s nothing novel here; the characters, places, and plot felt formulaic. I was reminded at many times of Star Wars, The Hobbit (my review), The LoThere’s nothing novel here; the characters, places, and plot felt formulaic. I was reminded at many times of Star Wars, The Hobbit (my review), The Lord of the Rings (my review), Harry Potter (my review), and other fiction. It contains the usual fantasy fare: magic, elves, dwarves, dragons, swordplay, a quest, and desire for revenge. The vocabulary and plot are relatively simple, but that’s unsurprising because Paolini published it at age 15. The scale is small; more like The Hobbit than The Lord of the Rings. I'm sure I would've liked it more as a teen than at 27.
The character development is decent, and I sympathized with Eragon’s misfortunes. Dragons being forces for good made for an interesting departure from most fantasy. Eragon’s telepathic link with Saphira was entertaining, but was a plot device used too frequently and conveniently. I liked the description of the underground city Tronjheim.
The final battle isn’t described in as much detail as I would’ve liked. The focus is on Eragon’s duel, so the battle felt anticlimactic. The book ends with slight suspense, but probably not enough to make me read the sequel, Eldest.
The audiobook by Listening Library is pretty good, but the way the narrator lowers his voice for Saphira’s lines grated my ears....more
This present-day sci-fi thriller is entertaining but too long. The length itself isn't the problem, but the sustained action is fatiguing because therThis present-day sci-fi thriller is entertaining but too long. The length itself isn't the problem, but the sustained action is fatiguing because there aren't enough calm interludes. I really liked how the chase takes the characters through both the real world and the virtual world of an online video game. I liked this book much more than Anathem (my review), but slightly less than Cryptonomicon (my review).
Stephenson’s detailed and realistic descriptions of people, rooms, landscapes, and activity make it easy to visualize the story. I’m always trying to improve my vocabulary, so I appreciated Stephenson’s wide range of words; I paused countless times to look up definitions.
I didn’t care about most of the characters, but I identified most closely with Richard, a techy entrepreneur. The many references to modern technology (especially websites and web services) seemed forced, and will age quickly. (view spoiler)[ I have little sympathy for real-world hackers who write ransomware and other malware, so I can’t help but wish that Marlon had suffered more. I suppose the entire experience was harrowing to him, but I guess I wanted (subconsciously) more serious and tangible consequences. I did like that he went straight in the end.
I wish Stephenson had wrapped up a couple of T’Rain loose ends. What happened to Richard’s T’Rain character Egdod? What became of the Wor (War of Realignment)? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is my least favorite of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books (see my reviews). This book wasn't funny or otherwise entertaining; the storyThis is my least favorite of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books (see my reviews). This book wasn't funny or otherwise entertaining; the story fell flat. Like the other Hitchhiker's Guide books, this one mocks religion in general and Christianity in particular, which as a Christian, I didn't appreciate. I liked that Norse mythology was prominently featured in this book; Asgard is one of the settings and Thor and Heimdall play major roles.
This book isn't by Hitchhiker's Guide author Douglas Adams, but it wouldn't be worth reading even if it was....more
Gripping, mysterious, fast-paced sci-fi. The human, alien, and computer-simulated characters try to outsmart each other, and I was never completely suGripping, mysterious, fast-paced sci-fi. The human, alien, and computer-simulated characters try to outsmart each other, and I was never completely sure about their loyalties. Several mysteries had me asking, "What just happened?", and there are many cliffhangers. The overarching mystery isn't fully explained until the last few pages of the 476-page book. Disaster escalates until the fittingly bizarre ending that made me want to read the sequel.
I never developed a connection to any of the characters, probably because I was never entirely sure of their intentions. This isn't a book with clear-cut good and evil.
I liked the sci-fi technologies and astronomical aspects of the book. Their seeming "realism" is likely because author Alastair Reynolds holds a Ph.D. in astronomy and works for the European Space Agency....more
I liked this one slightly more than The Name of the Wind (my review); it has more action and a wider variety of settings, mostly away from the UniversI liked this one slightly more than The Name of the Wind (my review); it has more action and a wider variety of settings, mostly away from the University. Like the first book, I thought Kvothe was too cocky, and I quickly tired of his incessant habit of getting into and out of trouble. Overall, my thoughts can be summarized by a quote from Kvothe himself, when he says of his story, “it's not a rousing epic meant to stir the blood.”
(view spoiler)[The chapters with Felurian are long, drawn out, and boring. My favorite parts were the unraveling of the conspiracy against Maer Alveron, and Tempi’s explanation of how the Adem show emotion through hand gestures rather than facial expression. (hide spoiler)]
The voice talent in the Brilliance Audio audiobook is amazing.
Quotes “Clothes do not make the man, but you need the proper costume if you want to play the part.” “...nothing in the world is harder than convincing someone of an unfamiliar truth.” “It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he'll look for his own answers.”["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Kvoth, a mysterious man with hidden powers, tells the adventurous story of his youth. The multi-talented child pursues knowledge, especially knowledgeKvoth, a mysterious man with hidden powers, tells the adventurous story of his youth. The multi-talented child pursues knowledge, especially knowledge of “sympathy”, a type of medieval, pseudo-scientific magic. Along the way, Kvoth experiences loss, desires for revenge, the beginnings of love, and both fortune and misfortune. The story’s scale isn’t epic, but does allude to larger forces in the wider world, and foreshadows Kvoth’s future involvement in them.
The story is entertaining, but the pace is too slow for my taste. I would have liked more to happen in this book, rather than simply being hinted at. The characters are well-developed and memorable. Because it’s about students learning magic (among other subjects), parts of it reminded me slightly of Harry Potter, but the story is very different.
A quote from the book: “That’s why stories appeal to us. They give us the clarity and simplicity our real lives lack.”
I listened to the audiobook by Brilliance Audio, and the voice talent is, well, brilliant....more