I'm finding it difficult to form words for how much I loved every awesome, intrigue-laden, sometimes impenetrable inch of this book. It's fitting that...moreI'm finding it difficult to form words for how much I loved every awesome, intrigue-laden, sometimes impenetrable inch of this book. It's fitting that it was the 100th book I finished this year. It made me exclaim aloud. It made me cry multiple times. Even though I know there are five other books about Francis Crawford, I was on pins and needles to the end. And most of all, I got great satisfaction out of knowing that it was one of my mother's favorites, as well--even though I can't discuss it with her, I can have the same enjoyment. Recommended for fans of historical fiction, court intrigue (*Game of Thrones* with much more likable women and no magic), and flawed anti-heroes. Those put off by Lymond's incessant quotations, many of which are not in English, should seek out *The Dorothy Dunnett Companion*(less)
I love this series, but it took me two tries to get through this entry, which I only re-started when the publication of the following book was imminen...moreI love this series, but it took me two tries to get through this entry, which I only re-started when the publication of the following book was imminent. Luckily, I was able to get the audio version from across the state, and the soothing narration of Simon Vance made it possible to withstand even the months and months of tedious desert travel described. As for the plot . . . they have been transported to Australia. Hijinks ensue.(less)
The audiobook was insubstantial (only three discs) and full of equal-opportunity mocking and soon-to-be dated cultural references. I'm also going to t...moreThe audiobook was insubstantial (only three discs) and full of equal-opportunity mocking and soon-to-be dated cultural references. I'm also going to take a look at the print book, but I'll only read it for the pictures, I swear! (less)
A person looking for an epic, family-driven narrative of doorstop girth, especially in the absence of a new George R. R. Martin tome, could do much wo...moreA person looking for an epic, family-driven narrative of doorstop girth, especially in the absence of a new George R. R. Martin tome, could do much worse than this.(less)
The best way to describe Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel, is "Steampunk Treasure Island." In a pseudo-Victorian world populated by gas-powered airships, cab...moreThe best way to describe Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel, is "Steampunk Treasure Island." In a pseudo-Victorian world populated by gas-powered airships, cabin boy Matt Cruse makes a name for himself aboard the Aurora by rescuing a hot air balloonist stranded above the Pacificus, who unfortunately dies shortly thereafter. One year later, his granddaughter Kate boards the ship, intent on seeing what he described in the balloon's log: winged, cat-like animals, a species never before seen. Throw in an attack by vicious pirate Vikram Szpirglas and a shipwreck on a remote, uncharted island, and you've got yourself all the ingredients for a fine adventure. Although there were several moments where coincidence played a bit too much into the plot, the characters (especially Kate) were engaging and the book highly entertaining. Oppel also included some nice bit of character development in between pirates and scientific discovery. Matt, whose father died three years previously by falling off the Aurora, discovers that he can't outrun grief, while heiress Kate has her sense of entitlement severely shaken. I am looking forward to reading the remaining volumes in the trilogy, Skybreaker and Starclimber.(less)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, is a memoir by Barbara Kingsolver, with help from her husband and teenage daughter, in which she chro...moreAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, is a memoir by Barbara Kingsolver, with help from her husband and teenage daughter, in which she chronicles the family's commitment to spending a year growing their own food and buying other necessities as close to home as possible. We had been meaning to check it out for some time--it was very popular last year at about this time--and finally listened to the audio book while traveling to, from, and within Canada. Kingsolver is a breathy, but earnest narrator, and Stephen and Camille also perform their parts adequately. I was under the misapprehension when we started that Kingsolver would be departing somewhat from her everyday life in order to take on this project; perhaps going from a bustling city life to a quiet one in the country. In reality, she and her husband are quite familiar with the farming life, and she describes seed catalogs, weeding, egg production, and other agrarian topics with the ease of long familiarity. The book is a strident case for the local food movement. Eating and buying locally, according to the authors, is not only more environmentally friendly (broccoli from California or bananas from South America cost millions of dollars in fuel to ship to our neighborhood grocery store each year) but also supports the local community of farmers (a disappearing breed?), and just plain tastes better. In other words, it is just not worth it to eat that pale, waxy tomato in January when you'll be inundated with tasty organic varieties in August. However, it is difficult to imagine never eating fruits or vegetables (such as bananas) that simply aren't grown here.
Kingsolver does a good job of building narrative suspense (through the interesting vehicle of turkey reproduction), but the book is frequently repetitive, hammering home again and again the importance of local foods until you want to yell "OK, I get it!" and move on. Those of us who already spend a part of the summer canning, and can relate to the yearly tide of zucchini that cannot be given away fast enough, are not really among those that need to be converted. Aside from the redundancy, the glimpses of Kingsolver's family life (which would no doubt be more interesting to me if I had read any of her other books) are charming, and the family pictured on the back of the audio book looks exactly as I imagined it. Listening to the book while driving through the picturesque potato fields of Prince Edward Island proved to be the perfect match of subject matter and backdrop; I can only hope that the next time I am moved to pick up a banana, I will have the fortitude to put it down and wait until I can get one in season, perhaps in Brazil.(less)