I received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and haveI received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and have been studiously reading through the canon. My favorite of the books, and films, for some time has been From Russia With Love. How could I resist a peek into the real Cold War, then, and all of the complex espionage techniques utilized? Why even try to resist?
David E. Hoffman has painted a beautiful picture of the difficulties of espionage in Moscow during the Cold War. He meticulously documents different techniques used to elude the KGB, the gadgets that made spywork possible, and the manifold difficulties that come from such a tense environment that relies almost exclusively upon the human element. Equipment malfunctions, and unfortunately, people do too.
The book was extremely interesting, and the history quite dense. While I agree with several of the other reviewers in thinking that the book could have been structured a bit better in terms of Tolkachev's motives being revealed, it was still a very powerful story. I was continually struck by the variety of people the CIA employed, the level of technology they had at their disposal, and just how difficult it was to truly "go black" during that time.
The Billion Dollar Spy does a wonderful job of showing the human element of spying and what motivates a person to defect. It's remarkable how much damage a single driven individual can do....more
This volume of Fables wraps up the first story arc with the invasion of the Homelands. We get war stories and spy stories, heroic sacrifices and attemThis volume of Fables wraps up the first story arc with the invasion of the Homelands. We get war stories and spy stories, heroic sacrifices and attempts at redemption. The story is nothing short of epic, and heartrending as we lose some we've certainly come to love... and we get a bit of insight into why the Emperor chose to do wht he did.
Before you even have time to catch your breath "The Dark Ages" begins and ushers in the second Fables arc. Right back from the heels of a massive war more trouble emerges, a foe a good bit more frightening than the Emperor had been. One has to wonder where this is heading, though I will say it really doesn't look good for the Fables about now.
Wonderful writing, and great artwork - though I wasn't crazy about the guest artists this time around. ...more
This has definitely been my favorite addition to the Fables series.
The bulk of this book is focused upon Prince Ambrose (better known as Flycatcher) fThis has definitely been my favorite addition to the Fables series.
The bulk of this book is focused upon Prince Ambrose (better known as Flycatcher) fulfilling the destiny that was alluded to in a previous volume. It was during this book that I felt incredibly grateful for having earlier read 1001 Nights of Snowfall as certain stories from it gave this one a more subtle depth. In particular Frau Totenkinder and Ambrose himself. While the vital bits were examined briefly in this volume, 1001 Nights of Snowfall still offers a bit more and lends credence to small asides.
Anyway, this story follows the best of the Arthurian legends. The hero's journey is heartwarming, tragic, and ultimately the most moving that Fables has offered so far. I teared up at the end, I worried along with everyone gathered in front of the Magic Mirror as old villains plotted. Ambrose has certainly won his spot among the best, if not the very best, of this comic's heroes....more
1001 Nights of Snowfall would work as an introduction to the series, or as an addition in the midst ofWhat a fantastic addition to the Fables series.
1001 Nights of Snowfall would work as an introduction to the series, or as an addition in the midst of the action to bring greater depth to he already rich characters that make up the Fables tapestry. Structured akin to the 1001 Arabian Nights myth that gave it its name, this is a collection of stories about the Fables before the Adversary took over... and what came after, how their lives have been.
1001 Nights of Snowfall is brilliant, subtle, and as comforting a collection of bedtime stories as anything from Brother's Grimm.
Plus there's a Reynard the Fox story in there and a Porcupine story. What more could you ask for?...more
New characters are introduced, and the plot advances in a number of surprising ways. Fables manages toAnother wonderful volume in the Fables series.
New characters are introduced, and the plot advances in a number of surprising ways. Fables manages to introduce crucial plot points in something as mundane as a Christmas story, and to interrupt the action at just the right point with a short aside that will come into play later in the series... Excellent.
The artwork is brilliant, with the exception of a single story that I felt was a bit too cartoony for my taste. Never did it feel like the stories dragged, however, and that's the best thing to be said for any graphic novel....more
Brilliant continuation of a truly wonderful series.
This gorgeous hardcover edition contains a decent amount of added material in the back. The scriptBrilliant continuation of a truly wonderful series.
This gorgeous hardcover edition contains a decent amount of added material in the back. The script for the main story, artwork, alternative covers.. it's beautiful and I love it.
In addition to continuing the main thrust of the Fables series plot this volume contains two additional tales. One is from the perspective of a Wooden Soldier, which adds an interesting depth to the enemy that hasn't been previously seen. The other is another Cinderella adventure, which is always entertaining as I'm a bit of a sucker for a good caper. What more could you need?
The artwork is stunning, the writing sharp and effective. Every page just pushes the reader onward deeper into the rich and vibrant worlds that Bill Willingham has created. Who could ask for more?...more
Like many of the books I've recently reviewed, I picked this book at The Book Thing based off the fact it looked and sounded silly rather than any reaLike many of the books I've recently reviewed, I picked this book at The Book Thing based off the fact it looked and sounded silly rather than any real understanding of what it contained.
The title, the cover, and even the little blurb on the front and back of this book really don't do it much justice.
Rather than being something questionable, this book turned out to be a rather charming romp through the life of a cat. The prose was generally pretty, and the story incredibly sweet. I think the bulk of it would be lost on someone who's never owned a cat or has no love for them, but for someone who grew up with a little tuxedo kitty it was a nice reminder of my cat and the time I've spent with him.
This is a very quick read, but ultimately a decent one. I'll be passing it on to my mother, and I've a feeling she'll be passing it on to a few of her nieces who foster kittens. It definitely deserves a place among the annals of cat literature - which I now understand truly exists.
I appreciate the fact that this book encourages people to view things from their pet's perspective rather than treating them like a plush toy....more
This is an altogether adorable collection of comics from The Guardian. I think that Karen's review sums up the book far better than any review I writeThis is an altogether adorable collection of comics from The Guardian. I think that Karen's review sums up the book far better than any review I write could. I mean, it has pictures.
I picked this book up at The Book Thing thinking it looked charming and entertaining, and was pleasantly surprised by how poignant some of the comics were. Most were literary, some were an entertaining commentary on how sci-fi is viewed in most critic circles, some were just downright fun.
All I truly know if that I want to be able to rush to the rescue at some point yelling "Make way! I'm a Keats' scholar!"...more
So, you know the question isn't even answered in this book, right?
I picked this up on a whim at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The title made me laugh aSo, you know the question isn't even answered in this book, right?
I picked this up on a whim at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The title made me laugh and I thought it might make a decent gag gift of sorts for a feminist friend. Of course, I needed to read the book before I passed it off. Only decent thing to do, isn't it?
I kind of wish I hadn't.
Generally I enjoy sociological tirades, however inflamed they are. I've a decent background in anthropology and I'm no stranger to strife between the sexes being decently examined. It can be interesting to view the more radical beliefs, though too often poor examples are used. It can be interesting to see what other people think, and in turn be made to view things from an alternative perspective. Even though I (foolishly?) believe I'm more open-minded than most I found this book to be ridiculous.
The examples Maureen Dowd set forth to defend her rather shaky slightly non-existent hypothesis seemed to apply more specifically to her own situation than to women in general. She talked about being called a bitch, about men writing to respond to her column more generally than women did, and about her own experiences working in DC. Women in politics and offering political commentary, it seems, are the same as women everywhere else. I can't help but think that area is a bit more specialized and more volatile than others for some reason...
In addition to this her hypothesis was unclear. She seemed at points to believe that women would be better off if men no longer existed - an entirely chapter was devoted to how the Y chromosone will be extinct in 10,000 to 10,000,000 years and how women will then TRULY rule the world - but then also noted how men are feminizing themselves and how that should be viewed as a victory. She bemoaned flirting in the office, but then discussed how it's insulting when men didn't flirt. It was very confusing.
At the end of this book I don't feel I really understand what it was setting out to be. It was just disorganized vitriol pointed at no one in particular. ...more
You know, this short story gets thrown around quite a lot.
I've seen it copied and pasted in comments threads, seen it appear as an image on imgur, aYou know, this short story gets thrown around quite a lot.
I've seen it copied and pasted in comments threads, seen it appear as an image on imgur, a short film on YouTube, even as a Facebook status once or twice. It's a bit of a meme in and of itself, and it just won't die. The first time I saw it, I feel, was when I was a little kid though I doubt that's actually the case. It's more recent than that, isn't it?
Maybe it's insidious in some way. It slips into your mind until you're convinced it's something you've always known. Maybe that makes it a great work of art, or at least a decent one. I'll give it that. If it's the first time you've been exposed to this sort of philosophy it definitely will stick with you. If you're of a bit more of a philosophical bend and this is not news to you, then it won't really impact you that deeply.
I'm more of the latter, and I've seen this before. I've seen it in The Matrix, The Fountain, and in the works of Jonathan Carroll. I've seen some of the better aspects of it in [Book: The Magician King] and The Dark Tower. It's a mish-mash of popular ideas with a heady dose of Deepak Chopra.
So it goes.
Other authors have treated this material better, and in a more striking way. Even The Book Thief touched on this philosophy in a more meaningful way.
It's decent for first exposure, but I'm afraid many people will only get that first exposure and not delve deeper into what better writing and more ambitious projects have to offer....more
This proved to be a surprisingly charming short story. The artwork was positively gorgeous, and the writing quite flowery. It bordered on being a bitThis proved to be a surprisingly charming short story. The artwork was positively gorgeous, and the writing quite flowery. It bordered on being a bit too poetic, but reeled itself in before it became overdone. Altogether a touching tale. ...more
There comes a time in every person's life when they discover a book they know they will love. They see the title and the cover and are instantly intriThere comes a time in every person's life when they discover a book they know they will love. They see the title and the cover and are instantly intrigued. With trembling hands they pull it from the case and read the back.
YOUR PET IS A SPACE ALIEN the text will scream from the back.
I had no idea, really. One in five pets in an alien from outer space? Which of my 8 hedgehogs falls into that classification? Inquiring minds need to know.
Yes, this book was every bit as ridiculous as I hoped for. I learned how to discover my pets Power Number, how to name it to correspond with its Power Number and keep it spiritually aligned. I learned how to discover my Totem Animal by visualizing myself as a Native American doing mundane tasks.
Truly an enlightening book.
It isn't as if science could explain almost every story within it....
I do appreciate the fact they acknowledge that animals are smarter than we think.
So, I've been reading through the Bond books lately.
Dr No has stuck with me in the same way that Diamonds Are Forever has. It's just a bit of a forgSo, I've been reading through the Bond books lately.
Dr No has stuck with me in the same way that Diamonds Are Forever has. It's just a bit of a forgettable book. While previous entries in the Bond series have had much to offer them in terms of either character development or fun detective/spy work Dr No didn't really seem to have either. It was just a run of the mill thriller with an utterly forgettable sidekick. Which isn't to say that there wasn't anything I liked about it - it had four scenes that I genuinely enjoyed. Just in general I felt that it was lacking where previous Bond books had been pleasant surprises.
I enjoyed the fluid transition from From Russia With Love to Dr No with this book beginning directly where the last one left off. The entire beginning sequence of the novel was a great pleasure. I enjoyed the interaction between M and Bond immensely and felt that the characterization has been built upon well. No complaints there.
As soon as Bond landed in Jamaica, however, things began to get fuzzy. The violence, at least, wasn't entirely wanting. There's a scene with a photographer, and another in a hotel room that both made me cringe to the point that I set the book down. It's no Le Chiffre, but it's still quite good. So there's another point in the book's favor.
The actual scene with Dr No was, for the most part, lovely. I can appreciate dining with the enemy and enjoy how the book and film both managed to begin what later would be a virtual trope. So, well done there.
The actual obstacle course was also interesting, though again, lacking when compared with other problems Bond has overcome. Feeling nothing for the Bond girl, likewise, kind of put a damper on that tension.
I'm a massive fan of Jon Ronson. He's one of the authors I seek out happily, trying to discover every last thing they've written for cWonderful book!
I'm a massive fan of Jon Ronson. He's one of the authors I seek out happily, trying to discover every last thing they've written for consumption. This book came as a delightful surprise. New Jon Ronson discussing something me and my boyfriend have recently been discussing on our own? Excellent!
So You've Been Publicly Shamed is an excellent foray into the dark world of the internet and how they take small things and immediately build them up into massive ordeals. What drives us to do this? How does it affect the person shamed? Should we really be doing this?
What set this book apart for me was the fact that the author interviewed not only those who were shamed but also those doing the shaming. He traced public humiliation as a for of prosecution back through the centuries and discovered how it affected those who were shamed. Is it effective? Is it not? How does a person get past this?
The answers were legitimately surprising in many cases, and naturally a great deal more complex than one would readily suspect. Personally, I found some of the conclusions of the book rather worrisome - in particular the ending and what it predicts for society.
This book drove home the need for civil discourse and for unpopular opinions. Living in an echo chamber is never a good thing....more
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.