This second reading was significantly easier than the first, if only because I knew what to expect and to brace myself for the tedious list of How CulThis second reading was significantly easier than the first, if only because I knew what to expect and to brace myself for the tedious list of How Culhwch Won Olwen. The bits of Taliesin included in this copy that weren't included in the Sioned Davies translation were also a distinct treat, though Davies included in hers some other material that Patrick K. Ford omitted. To each their own with this strange tradition.
For a first time reader I would recommend Davies, as she provides a more thorough grounding within the Welsh tradition. Her footnotes fill in the blanks that allow subsequent translations to better describe why what was being said was said and a more thorough analysis of the stories. Honestly, I'm excited to read more translations of it, now that I've two under my belt and can actually form preferences in regards to them. I'm a bit curious as to the bowdlerized one as well, though I'm uncertain when I'll try and if it will ultimately be disappointing... Though I understand it is a better reflection of the Victorian Romantic sensibility than it is of the prehistoric Welsh and Arthurian Tradition. ...more
While Casino Royale introduced Bond and Live and Let Die gave a clear view of what he is capable of Moonraker allows the reader to see the more human side of the man. Bond is fallible. He makes poor decisions, second-guesses himself, and gets injured. He doesn't always get the girl, and isn't always particularly bothered by the fact. He's human, and he's mortal - and all too aware of both facts. This book would have been 5 stars from me easily if the entirety of Moonraker had been like the first half. Seeing the day to day Bond was great.
The first half of Moonraker wasn't action filled, and certainly didn't feel like what one would expect a Bond book to be. Bond goes to work, flirts with the secretary in an entirely cheeky and altogether charming way. He complains about paper work and is duly bored by it. Reflects on the fact he'll likely be stuck in this job until he dies or is confined forever to just paperwork. His friendship with M is explored, as is the general culture of London at the time. There's gambling, but the bulk of mystery presented by the first half of the book is just so deliciously lodged in the time and the place it is set: why would a respected individual cheat at cards and what does this tell us of his character? There's the mystery. Can't have a scandal, can we?
I loved this book because Bond was human, the initial problems were mundane and absolutely beautiful. I loved the writing, and more, that Gala was both worthy of respect and a damn intelligent girl. I loved that it was more spy work than actual action and that they had to be restrained in how they responded to what action there was. ...more
Live and Let Die picks up where Casino Royale left off rather nicely. Here we have Bond face off against a crime overlord whose reach stretches from Harlem to Jamaica. Controlling his subjects through a mix of terror and - for the time - surprisingly well researched Voodoo legends Mr. Big is a pretty damn terrifying villain. The descriptions of him just get better as the book goes on.
So, before we had KGB spies and high stakes gambling. Now we have lost pirate treasure, voodoo, and a well established crime syndicate. Oh how the times change. Also, a fight with an octopus. Yeah.
Live and Let Die was slightly less compelling than Casino Royale but still a very fun book. I think where the book suffered for me was the lack of a more introspective Bond. I wanted him to suffer more for what he went through in the previous installment, but that just wasn't there. There was the brief drama with Felix, which was good, but I just didn't feel there was quite enough character considering the mad amount of action that took place.
Where to begin, precisely? This book is utterly brilliant. It's fast-paced, well-plotted, and contains just about anything you could p Casino Royale.
Where to begin, precisely? This book is utterly brilliant. It's fast-paced, well-plotted, and contains just about anything you could possibly want from a spy thriller. Sadistic villains, beautiful women, high stakes gambling, betrayal, car chases - with cars as beautiful as the women, of course - and enough wonderful food descriptions to make your mouth water while reading it.
The first introduction to Bond is a memorable one, and one to quickly make anyone fall in love with the character. While the book may be dated, and downright offense I suppose, I feel that's a bit of a ridiculous reaction to have. You're reading a book that's firmly set within a specific time frame with a very particular sort of character at the head. Yes, it's misogynistic. So what? At least Vesper is acknowledged as having been wonderful at her trade and intelligent, as later Bond girls are seen as being as well. It's a step above them being only good for their looks.
Casino Royale is a classic, and written in a concise style that I truly envy. Ian Fleming is a marvelous author and I'd recommend it to just about anyone. Who doesn't love a bit of Bond?...more
The book is written in a fairly engaging way. While occasionally it becomes a bit too superfluous in the topics it covers and general encouragement itThe book is written in a fairly engaging way. While occasionally it becomes a bit too superfluous in the topics it covers and general encouragement it is a much more entertaining book for it. It covers all of the topics vital to writing a proposal and formatting it, as well as providing sample proposals and resources for learning more at the back of the book. How to write a sample chapter is also covered, as is how to talk to publishers and get an agent.
It's a thorough book, and a better introduction than many how-to guides that I've seen on the internet have been. ...more
Yeah, okay, I love conspiracy theories and I quite like Decoded in general. They don't always get things right, but they do always amuse. I love the dYeah, okay, I love conspiracy theories and I quite like Decoded in general. They don't always get things right, but they do always amuse. I love the discussion it generates, wild speculation, hare-brained schemes and subversive history. It's good fun, and a good study in logic if you want to be cynical about. Would it make more sense of things to go this way, or that? What more could you want from entertainment?
This book was given as a Christmas present to my parents, and they both enjoyed it thoroughly. They gave it to me after, and yes, I gobbled it right up, too. The gimmick of the book is fun: each chapter is a different conspiracy theory with a small envelope at the front containing facsimiles of parts of the cases. For instance, D.B. Cooper's plane tickets, JFK's autopsy report, a poster for the Our American Cousin the night Lincoln was killed... It's fun stuff, and decent quality. Not as fun as, say, Griffin Sabine but what is, when it comes to the gimmick?
The book won't give you much more than the show did, with perhaps two exceptions. I felt the book went into more depth in regards to the Rosicrucians (who they are, what they do) and the Confederate Gold. Other than that, it was the same old thing. But that same old is fun, and the book was, too....more
Jonas had fond memories of this book trilogy growing up, and upon hearing that I'd never read them, decided to give me the original trilogy for ChristJonas had fond memories of this book trilogy growing up, and upon hearing that I'd never read them, decided to give me the original trilogy for Christmas. :)
The fantasy tropes are back in force.
It's funny how a book that fit so perfectly into the fantasy tropes in general still can be surprising. It's funny how well the trope was played upon, and how unsettling the "something is wrong but we don't know what" concept can be played with when you reveal as little as Ursula K. Le Guin does. Once more, the perspective shifts away from Sparrowhawk and to someone new, in this case a young prince. Together the two travel to discover just what's going on in the world and why magic itself appears to be disappearing in some areas of the world. What's going on?
This book has massive ramifications for the world of Earthsea, and becomes a major plot point for the remaining books - including Tehanu in my opinion. It's a perfect ending for the original trilogy, and a prefect beginning point for the next one. ...more
I don't think anyone who read this far in the series would be particularly surprised by the ending. The hints of where things were headed were strongI don't think anyone who read this far in the series would be particularly surprised by the ending. The hints of where things were headed were strong in The Farthest Shore, overt in Tehanu, and embellished mildly in Tales from Earthsea though in a more veiled manner. The Other Wind is simply a natural extension of that, though a beautiful one it is. It pleased me immensely to see the conclusion of The Farthest Shore here, and I can forgive the ending, if only out of hope for there to be more to rebuild.
Earthesea is a magnificent world, and I adore all the people within it. To have come from the gorgeously crafted A Wizard of Earthsea in all its traditional beauty to the subversive and surprising Tehanu to this - it's perfect. I adored this book, and felt it a proper send-off to the series as a whole. Still, of course, I hope for more.
I loved living in this world, and the care given to it. I loved the dragons, the magical system, the way that the stakes were all too real and felt too keenly. I loved how unforgiving Urusula K. Le Guin was. What's dead is dead, what's gone is gone. We all make our choices and suffer for it. Hell, I loved Ged dearly in Tehanu and even more in The Other Wind. He's all the stronger for what he went through.
It's a beautiful, staggering series. More authors should learn from it and try to let go....more
The stories expanded upon Ursula K. Le Guin's world of Earthsea in a beautiful way, adding a richness of culture and history that wasn't there previously. She helped differentiate between the wild earthly magic of women and the more academic magic of men. She dealt in both familiar characters and unfamiliar ones. She even expanded upon legend.
While everyone wants more stories of Sparrowhawk in his prime, I'm quite happy with anything that takes place in her world. It's rich, it's beautiful, and it's stunningly well developed. The essay at the end that actually detailed the world from an anthropological perspective was gorgeous. I wish all fantasy was so well developed as this in a logical way....more
Remember Tenar from The Tombs of Atuan? Ever wonder what happened to her after? Remember Ogion and Gont? Remember that you've been hearing about how Ursula K. Le Guin is a strident feminist author but not really seen any evidence of that? Here it all comes rushing forth. There is no quest, there is no real magic or things of that nature. This is a book more grounded in reality, for what it is, and it bucks the very concept of a fantasy novel for the bulk of its pages.
This is an uncomfortable foray into gender studies and why things on Earthsea are the way they are. Why are there no women wizards? What exactly are the dragons? Why are women hated to the extent they are? It's an interesting situation, so long as you aren't expecting a straight up fantasy novel....more
Remember how I said the first book read like it was written by an anthropologist? This is where that distinction becomes all the more pertinent. SerioRemember how I said the first book read like it was written by an anthropologist? This is where that distinction becomes all the more pertinent. Seriously. In The Tombs of Atuan the focus shifts away from Sparrowhawk to a young priestess in the Karged lands. The entire culture is explored, as well as the concept of religion, in a way that is startling now for when it was written. I'm sure it'd startle the life out of a new young reader for sure, but hopefully in a good way.
Reading reviews prior to reading it myself, it seems that this book had a very polarizing affect on readers. I can understand why. Not everyone wants to sit down and explore the concept of religious power vs. political power in a country where the reins are changing. Not everyone wants to study how being viewed as a high priestess affect a young girl. Personally, I was riveted by it and genuinely uneasy as they worked their way through the labyrinth underground. I enjoyed the sly nod to Akkadian artwork and the way the story expanded upon a brief sentence in the book prior.
I got this as a stocking stuffer years ago for Christmas and continue to read it every year. It's adorable, and one of the cats certainly looks like mI got this as a stocking stuffer years ago for Christmas and continue to read it every year. It's adorable, and one of the cats certainly looks like my Erik. :)...more
Jonas had fond memories of reading these while growing up, and upon hearing I hadn't read them, took it upon himself to get me the originally trilogyJonas had fond memories of reading these while growing up, and upon hearing I hadn't read them, took it upon himself to get me the originally trilogy for Christmas. He bought them at the Church bazaar, a charming set of old library books complete with the filing card in the back noting who checked them out when. I happily filled my name in, and the date, each time I started reading them. Whenever I lend them out I'll likely ask the person to do the same. I love old library books. :)
A Wizard of Earthsea is a worthy classic. It reads like what it is, a fantasy book written by an anthropologist who isn't afraid to show that specialty. This is a world that makes sense, and a magical system that's drawn logically from what to many cultures is sacred. There's an explanation and logic behind everything that's beautiful to see and the very monster being fought in the first book is the Jungian concept of the Shadow. It's a heavy book, but a beautiful one. Hell, Sparrowhawk did in one book what it took Harry Potter seven to do. That has to count for something, right?
This is the sort of book I'd happily recommend to any kid growing up, and one I wish had been set into my hands when I was younger. I might get a copy for my nephews for the holidays. :)...more
I've heard about Patricia Highsmith long before I actually picked up one of her books. Out of all of them I chose The Cry of the Owl, which I'd heardI've heard about Patricia Highsmith long before I actually picked up one of her books. Out of all of them I chose The Cry of the Owl, which I'd heard mentioned time and again in a pleasant, if distracted, way. While her Ripley books are better known, The Cry of the Owl carries with it a different sort of charm and fear. It proved an interesting book, and one difficult to put down.
The twists were pleasant, though not altogether too surprising. The prose was noir in just the right way to scratch that itch in me, though it was startling after having been knee-deep in Ursula K. Le Guin for a month or more. The plot moved quickly, turned deftly, and had me grinning as I read it in public for the fun way danger reared its ugly head within it.
The book is a rousing mystery and a great study in unreliable narration. It has encouraged me to give Patricia Highsmith possibly the best gift a reader can: I will happily seek out and read more of her books. ...more
Mysterious communications from a man long dead, a murder mystery decades old, hidden treasure, and a chase scene down the Thames. What more could oneMysterious communications from a man long dead, a murder mystery decades old, hidden treasure, and a chase scene down the Thames. What more could one want? Oh yes, how about a love story, disguises, and Sherlock Holmes sinking ever deeper into depression?
Certainly. I'm in.
While nowhere near as good a mystery story as A Study in ScarletThe Sign of the Four makes up for what it lacks in intrigue in that regard with interesting character studies. Here, Sherlock Holmes turns to drug abuse to make up for a lack of cases and sinks ever deeper into his depression when there's a hitch in solving the case and John Watson turns his interest elsewhere. It's a fascinating thing to watch from the outside and an interesting commentary on the friendship between the two....more
Mark is a hungry boy. A /very/ hungry boy. No matter what or how much he eats his stomach is still rumbling. His vorWhat a delightful children's book!
Mark is a hungry boy. A /very/ hungry boy. No matter what or how much he eats his stomach is still rumbling. His voracious appetite is making him eat his family out of house and home, but he's not to be deterred. What's a boy to do? Well, his dog certainly knows. When he dreams of venturing through a magical landscape with Rex he's lead to a tree that gives him the power to turn anything his tongue touches into food. Brilliant! Or is it?
This is a very fun Midas Touch story where a kid gets more than he bargains for. The illustrations add to the playful nature of the story that's written with a definite lean towards being read aloud. It's a quick read, and definitely had me chuckling. The core message is sweet, and some little subplots offer more lessons to be learned that I wasn't really expecting out of the story.
All in all I'd definitely recommend it to anyone with young children, and I can imagine poring over the illustrations when I was younger. :)...more
When picking up Oliver Sacks it's important to realize that you're reading a medical text. The accountI kept getting strange looks while reading this.
When picking up Oliver Sacks it's important to realize that you're reading a medical text. The accounts you're looking at are medical cases, with only a marginal effort made to edit the language to something easier for the layman. Which is to say, these books can be rather dull. If you go in expecting that, however, they can be informative and interesting reads.
I learned a lot about the nature of hallucinations and the misconceptions that exist surrounding them. I learned that most people hallucinate, in one way or another, and that it's rather normal. I also learned how incredible complex our nervous systems are, and in particular our optical centers. Really, really interesting stuff. It's no wonder it breaks down now and again.
I also learned that it's incredibly unfair to introduce a Doctor fftych in a section dealing with textual hallucinations. How is that an actual name?...more
Arthur Conan Doyle's command of the English language is gorgeous, and his descriptions vivid and compelling. The plot moves quickly, and navigates through the hazy switch in time and perspective in a masterful way. To new readers: keep with it, it doubtless will grow on you. To old readers: do yourselves a favor and reread it. It only gets better with each repeated reading.
I can't emphasize enough how fun this book is, as are all of the ACD stories. I'm so happy they're making a comeback....more
This book was far more entertaining to me than the first The Bad Beginning but that still isn't saying much. Most of the humor of this was lost on me.This book was far more entertaining to me than the first The Bad Beginning but that still isn't saying much. Most of the humor of this was lost on me. I'd recommend it to a kid easily, but reading it as an adult it just feels rather dull and predictable. Good vocabulary, though. Quick plot and pacing. Just a bit too lacking to hold my focus in the end....more
I'd be very curious to see how a person's reaction to the book and the ending itself changes as they grow older. This book was surpWell.
This got dark.
I'd be very curious to see how a person's reaction to the book and the ending itself changes as they grow older. This book was surprisingly creepy, surprisingly sad, and surprisingly troublesome when it comes to the ending. I've heard good things about the film, but I'm uncertain how they treat the final scenes in it?
I'd read this book to my children, should I have any. I'd watch them not sleep for months. But that's true of most Roald Dahl stories, innit?...more
A very cute story detailing the problems of dyslexia in a rather entertaining way. Classic Roald Dahl though the very last story he ever wrote. A bitA very cute story detailing the problems of dyslexia in a rather entertaining way. Classic Roald Dahl though the very last story he ever wrote. A bit controversial due to some naughty language, though hardly that awful from today's standards I'd think....more
Sasha leant me this book with a cursory order to read it when I had the time. It took me quite a while to get to it, but I did, and I'm quite glad ofSasha leant me this book with a cursory order to read it when I had the time. It took me quite a while to get to it, but I did, and I'm quite glad of that, too. I've not read a collection of short stories in a while, and when it comes to short stories, I can be rather particular. I grew up on a fair bit of Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson with some Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King mixed in.
This isn't to say that her writing is automatically of a similar tier to the others, as it isn't. Her endings can be a bit sloppy, or her dialogue a bit too fantastic to deal with. That having been said, she still packs a mean punch that is maybe just one step below Kelly Link. I thought a lot about Link reading this, actually. While nothing in this book reaches the level of the short story "Magic for Beginners" there are still a number of stories in here that I think will stick with me. "Fruit and Words" for instance, I found incredibly compelling. The story of the potato children was likewise fantastic, as was the story of the miniature man. While some ended too quickly, others dragged on a bit long. "The Case of the Salt and Pepper Shakers" could have used a bit better editing, but was still a solid piece.
All in all I think the book could have been edited better, but even without the additional editing it was good enough that I devoured it, loved it, and heartily recommend it. I'd read more of her books quite eagerly, and am quite curious to see where she ends up....more
This story was more pleasing to me than the book it technically precedes was. That having been said, Sasha hits the nail on the head when she says thiThis story was more pleasing to me than the book it technically precedes was. That having been said, Sasha hits the nail on the head when she says this story isn't for children. The themes are continuing to get darker and more adult, which altogether is much more pleasurable than the feigned kid-friendliness that permeated in small degrees the first book.
This story was good. A quick read. A rather sad read after you know what's going to happen.
Fire Watch did an excellent job of establishing the Oxford Time Travel series. It did an even better job of bringing home just how terrifying WWII EngFire Watch did an excellent job of establishing the Oxford Time Travel series. It did an even better job of bringing home just how terrifying WWII England was, and how largely damaged and broken London was by the experience. Connie Willis does a beautiful job of bringing morality and feeling back into history, and breathing life into the experiences and statistics so commonly touted about.
It's chilling and heartbreaking, and makes the rest of the series that much more moving to read....more