This book is actually two short stories (or perhaps one short story and a novella).
The title story, Blockade Billy, is a solid, decent King story. SlThis book is actually two short stories (or perhaps one short story and a novella).
The title story, Blockade Billy, is a solid, decent King story. Slow build up, interesting characters, multi-layered, creepy. I enjoyed it a lot.
Morality feels unfinished to me, and I didn't enjoy it as much. It reminds me a bit of 'Needful Things', which is probably my least favorite King novel, so that might be why. Unlike that one, however, I don't have a sense of what motivates any of the characters. I don't feel as though Chad and Nora ever had a good relationship. I don't think that adult sexuality is that fluid. Perhaps it's that, like Nora, I don't believe in the concept of 'sin', so it just doesn't hold together for me. I find it disturbing without being intriguing, and for King that's a disappointment....more
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.
It's a fun little time travel book. It's wI received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.
It's a fun little time travel book. It's well written, decently thought out, and has a reasonable theoretical basis. I will be looking for more books by Mr. Stillwell.
The short stories are set in a nearish future, where gene splicing is cheap enough that a middle class single man can have a vegetarian pygmy T. rex as a pet and the first thought when one sees a girl with cat's eyes is genetic engineering, not contact lenses. Other than that, technology seems to be at a reasonable 'day-after-tomorrow' level. It's in this world that the email to/from the future technology is injected. Most of the book is more vignette than story, but it's a lovely window into an intriguing world....more
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an unbiased review.
A quick glance at the other reviews of thiI received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an unbiased review.
A quick glance at the other reviews of this book lets you realize it's going to be controversial. Many readers disliked it because they are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of animal modification, and cannot bear to hear it described, some reacted as though they held the author personally responsible for the genetic engineering. Despite what these critics say, the author frequently expressed unease at the modifications she describes, it's just clear that the she doesn't let this personal distaste get in the way of understanding what is being done and why.
Emily Anthes, within the book, is quick to point out a perceived hypocrisy within the animal rights community, as far more radical body modifications have been carried out on animals through the domestication process. She is ignorant of (or fails to acknowledge) the fact that there are certainly those who object to those modifications as well.
For me, this disconnected dialogue was one of the most interesting aspects of the book.
The book is a manual for bio-punk factoids, it gives a good background on the current state of body mod technology, and touches on the directions it might go in the future. The author has set out a discussion on what can and cannot be done, and invites a discussion on what should and should not be done. I think that the book would have done well to include a discussion on the sort of ethical oversight animal experimentation gets and the history of how it came about, not to tell us how things should go, but to establish a basic vocabulary with which to discuss the complex issues involved. Otherwise we're left with a sort of 'don't do that, it's icky', which doesn't help the situation....more
I received a free copy of this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an honest review.
I have to admit, I've only read one ofI received a free copy of this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an honest review.
I have to admit, I've only read one of the books Azar Nafisi discusses here, and that was many years ago. My impressions of Huck Finn diverge from Nafisi's analysis, and I think I should revisit the book at some time. In fact, now I'm interested in reading Babbit and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter as well. At the same time, these books aren't the point of The Republic of the Imagination.
The book presents itself as an exploration of the American character through it's literature, but it functions as a much more personal exploration. At it's heart, the book is about what it means for Ms. Nafisi to be an American, as discussed through her relation to books, and her relationships with others as expressed through books.
This breaks down a bit in the middle section, where she takes on the American education system and issues with Common Core standards (without ever really acknowledging the central issue which Common Core is trying to address - the desire for a simple metric of education so that we can determine what works and what doesn't). She briefly acknowledges that the Common Core follows in the footsteps of No Child Left Behind, and is a product of the Race to the Top program. Although I mostly agree with her, I really wanted a chance to get her to acknowledge where the bad ideas come from, and that there were some good motives behind it.
The first and third sections were much more personal aspects of her life, and so less likely to invite that sort of discussion. Each book was tied up in memories of people who are now gone from her life, and were connected to the book in her mind because of their discussions of the books as much as by their relationships tho the themes of the books.
This book, more than any I've read recently, made me wish I had a good book club. It's meant to be engaged with and discussed more than simply read....more
I enjoy Urban Fantasy, but often find myself groaning at 'the masquerade' it's usually a clumsy device designed to produce a world just like ours butI enjoy Urban Fantasy, but often find myself groaning at 'the masquerade' it's usually a clumsy device designed to produce a world just like ours but with vampires, werewolves, whatever... I love the fact that this book (first in a series, I gather) doesn't bother with the masquerade. It's an alternate world with an alternate history. In this case, the humans have always known their lot is precarious.
There are a number of world design decisions I'm not as comfortable with, having to do with race and with a magic system which glorifies and romanticizes cutting. I'm not saying the author intended it to, but it does come across that way.
The world is intriguing. The characters are entertaining. The heroine, although she has a couple of Mary Sue warning signs, is far more appealing than annoying. There is a romance which is occluded by needless misunderstandings (though justified by the mutual alienness of the characters and the sheltered background of one of them). The supporting characters are appealing and entertaining.
Full disclosure, I received a free copy of this book to review from the Goodreads First Reads program.
Usually when I can't finish a book I give it oneFull disclosure, I received a free copy of this book to review from the Goodreads First Reads program.
Usually when I can't finish a book I give it one star, because, in general, 'unreadable' means 'bad' to me. In this case I can't make that claim.
I gave up on this book after less than 50 pages. The string of tragedy after tragedy was just too much for me, not because I had ceased to care, but because I decided I didn't want to continue to face the pain.
The fact that the protagonist, a 12 year old Palestinian boy, wasn't a Dickens hero (impoverished yet impossibly noble) only made it harder to read. Ichmad and his family seem all to believable, all too human, to watch them go through events which seem all too tragic, and all too realistic.
The book is beautifully written, the characters feel real, and the events are plausible. Given the scenario, this adds up to a book I found unreadable, at least at this time. At some point in the future I might go back and find out what happens, if I can work up the courage to face it.
Right now, though, I feel that I have to turn away for a time. ...more
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.
I'm torn between 4 and 5 stars for this one, but I think I can say 'it wasI received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.
I'm torn between 4 and 5 stars for this one, but I think I can say 'it was amazing' without meaning 'I absolutely adored it'. The book is both very readable and very information dense. It illuminates both the mid-to-late Victorian period (which it covers) and the 1970's (when it was written).
The premise of the book is that by examining the lives of accused middle class murderesses in the period, through the copious documentation brought about by 'celebrity' cases, we can get a better idea of what life must have been for average women in the same demographic group. It also shows how different life was for English and French women in the same period, and how the expectations and realities they changed over the time in question.
The accused involved include some who were probably innocent, one who was clearly coerced, and a few who were almost certainly guilty. Some were out and out nuts, one was horribly sadistic, some were manipulative, some were ignorant, some were just trying to get by. Most impressively, all of them come across as believable and comprehensible, and yet, the legal establishment which tried them seemed incapable of recognizing them as ordinary humans with ordinary, human motivations. This, more than the murders themselves, makes it a chilling read.
There were some tantalizing snippets here. English women, especially in the early part of the 19th century, lost what freedom they had through marriage, while French women gained it. "Free Love" wasn't at all what I thought, though, apparently, some contemporary officials shared my misapprehension. [The truth makes me want to read more H.G. Wells, which is in and of itself a good thing.] The behavior of women at the trials, and the reaction of their menfolk to it, is fascinating in and of itself.
I'm sure I'll come back to this book, especially if I ever get around to designing that Victorian RPG scenario... ...more
I'm somewhat ambivalent about this book. I don't think ShustermanShusterman 'phoned it in', exactly, but he certainly seemed to just stop rather thanI'm somewhat ambivalent about this book. I don't think ShustermanShusterman 'phoned it in', exactly, but he certainly seemed to just stop rather than ending it. There is room for the series to continue (albeit with changed focus), but I think that the work would lose it's charm.
On the other hand, nothing was really resolved except for the romantic subplot (which was never very strong). Other resolutions, hoped for and feared, were pointed at, but with plenty of room for zigs and zags. Some of this pointing comes from a character who turned from wicked-smart to I-know-what-the-author-knows smart (lazy writing there).
The book, and the series, does a great job of raising awareness of behind the scenes politics and the need to be aware of manipulation by the military/industrial/commercial complex, as well as a moderate job of reminding us that few important issues are black-and-white. It has some engaging characters, and some great philosophical jumping off points. It would have been offputting to have all the questions answered and all the plotlines resolved. That doesn't mean that everything had to be left open except for the rather thin moral dilemma. ...more
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.
First and foremost, the authors create a rich, compelling fantasy world. ThI received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.
First and foremost, the authors create a rich, compelling fantasy world. The weakest part of the book is the way they push the reader into it with a 'sink or swim' attitude. There is a little exposition later on (some of the characters are young and inexperienced), but even so, there is so much complexity to the world that it's hard to keep everything, and everyone, straight.
There are at least five races in the world, each of which has a completely different flavor of magic (many have several flavors). There are many nations, each of which has it's own culture and racial makeup. Mixed race characters have yet another flavor of magic, and there is a history of racial oppression resolved by the creation of one or more nations and the recognition of one particular hybrid race being recognized as it's own people.
Perhaps the most compelling part of the book is the elven (or elf like) race, who lose magical ability as they mature. How this affects their culture and family structure is touched upon (if not deeply explored) and it is fascinating.
There are fifteen members of the Senserte, which come from different countries and races and each with his or her own personal history. At some point the reader just has to stop trying to keep track, and just go along for the ride.
Which works out very well, because, along with being a fantasy novel, this is also a caper story, and part of the charm is to let yourself be surprised. Impressively, the authors touch upon all of the key elements well before they come up in the resolution, so it's possible to follow along with, if not anticipate, the eventual resolution.
I hope there are more books in the series, not just because I enjoyed this one, but because I feel that I invested so much in understanding the world it would be a waste to let go of that too soon....more
Laura Stephenson is clearly a fan herself. I LOVED the way she nodded Terry Pratchett and, later on, the coThis was a really fun, light, little book.
Laura Stephenson is clearly a fan herself. I LOVED the way she nodded Terry Pratchett and, later on, the con community, and I'm sure I missed many more references. There are multiple references to old school D&D (magic missiles, Lawful devils and Chaotic demons). She clearly identifies with her target audience rather than standing apart and smirking, which is always a plus.
As other reviewers have said the story could have had a little bit more depth and complexity to it, but that's hardly a major flaw. As it was, I thought I could see the ending when I was a third of the way done, but she surprised me in a good way.
Keep an eye out for her future works. I'm sure she's only going to get better from here. ...more
This book definitely builds on and expands the world of the first one, and reads much more like a story, less like an allegory. Many of the things whiThis book definitely builds on and expands the world of the first one, and reads much more like a story, less like an allegory. Many of the things which didn't seem to make sense in the first book (how the accord was actually accepted, why adoption disappeared as a serious option, some of how religions took the path they did) are, if not explained, at least addressed tangentially.
Although it ends at a valid 'resting point' it definitely reads as the second book in a trilogy. It does not so much end as pause, and the scene is clearly set for the next (presumably final) scene.
There is a little bit of heavy handedness. For a book which hinges around a 'shades of gray' theme, there are a too many clearly 'bad' characters without convincing motives.
Cam is fascinating character, and part of me is concerned at his character development in the final chapters. I hope Shusterman doesn't take the 'easy' path in the final volume.
Altogether it's a good beach-read book, and it's well pitched to a teen reader who is just developing political awareness. I'll definitely be looking for volume 3....more
I received a free, pre-release copy of this book as part of the GoodReads First Reads program.
I'm not completely sure about the rating for this book.I received a free, pre-release copy of this book as part of the GoodReads First Reads program.
I'm not completely sure about the rating for this book. It was highly emotional, of course, since it deals with a troubled family and a missing child. So much so that there were points where I almost couldn't read it (I have trouble with the endangered child plotline).
In addition to the emotional roller coaster (yes, I did cry at points, thank your for asking) there were some very nice motifs between how mother and daughter reacted to things. There were some interesting observations on relationships, and some excellent handling of shades-of-gray situations. Not to say that there aren't also some clear 'good guys' and 'bad guys' within the story, but no one was completely pure, and no one was bad just to be bad. Given the nature of the story, that's pretty hard to pull off.
Not going to say how the plot wraps up. There are definitely parts I found very difficult to read, but I'm glad I saw this one through all the way to the end.
I will be processing this one for some time to come, I believe. ...more
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an unbiased review.
First of all, a confession. Even though II received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an unbiased review.
First of all, a confession. Even though I am an ecologically conscious, self-aware, Green Party geek, I was a little bit worried that this book would be too preachy and guilt-inducing to read. I was relieved to find that it was readable, entertaining, and that the author acknowledges (fairly often) that change might be difficult, and that each of us will make our own risk-benefit analysis. Personally, I would have liked a bit more 'crunchiness'.
There is a bibliography (broken down by chapter), and the sources are varied. Several are environmentally based sources which I haven't dealt with before, but there are also quite a few peer reviewed publications and a range of governmental agencies cited. This does help to mollify my inner skeptic, but it would have been nice to see more detailed endnotes and to be clear on which fact came from which reference. It would also be nice to see a bit more detail on the impact of endocrine disruptors and pthalates, but I appreciate that this might make the overall work less appealing to the widest audience (again - detailed endnotes would have been appreciated).
There are a number of very useful sidebars and summary boxes, and I will be copying some of them to carry with me for easy reference when making consumer decisions. Although I found some of the information in the book depressing, none of that was *new* information. On the contrary, I found it encouraging to learn of advances in recycling technology, and even that there are companies successfully reclaiming fuel from plastic.
As the author is an expectant father, there is a chapter devoted to reducing harmful plastic exposure to children and infants, and I was personally disturbed that he assumed that all infants will be formula fed. Paragraphs devoted to cloth vs paper diapers, not one sentence devoted to nursing vs. formula (and it would have been nice to have a discussion of the safety of plastics used in breast pumps). If he hadn't mentioned that parenthood was impending I would have put it down to male blind spot, but as it is I have to wonder what on earth he was thinking. As it is, that's my biggest issue with the book, and, to be honest, it's not that huge a flaw.
Get the book, because, far from a whine fest, it's a good source of fairly easy things you can change, with more challenging changes suggested if you are up to them....more
I received a free copy of this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.
When I received this book, I was expecting an historical novel, whichI received a free copy of this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.
When I received this book, I was expecting an historical novel, which it is not. The book is a slightly fictionalized history - the fiction comes in the form of inventing snippet of dialogue (which are clearly marked as invented) here and there. There are copious endnotes as well.
It is definitely enjoyable as a narrative. Although Hamilton and Burr are the most fully fleshed out characters (and already known to history buffs) the story still has appeal to mystery buffs as well as to history buffs. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was more familiar with modern day New York City, but the vivid descriptions of the political landscape are nearly as intriguing as those of the physical.
There are necessarily some unanswered questions, but the invention of shorthand, and the fact that *every detail* of the trial was recorded give us enough information to believe that the verdict the jury came to was probably correct (even though they came to the judgement really really quickly to end the sequester, and who can blame them).
There's even a happy ending, easily as satisfying as many murder mysteries I've read....more