I gave this book five stars not because the writing was incredible (it's eminently well written and readable, but not mind blowingly artistic), but beI gave this book five stars not because the writing was incredible (it's eminently well written and readable, but not mind blowingly artistic), but because it succeeded so well on two different fronts.
First, right from the beginning, it turns one of the key suppositions in the Jack the Ripper case on it's head. The protagonists immediately have reason to doubt that Jack had medical knowledge. This fresh approach gives all sorts of leeway to play with the well known details of the case.
Secondly, the book repeatedly sent me to the internet to familiarize myself with the historical characters who appear in it. Every time I found myself asking if a particular character was really that quirky and eccentric the answer was 'no, she toned them down for the purposes of the book'. I love Victorian era London, and here was a whole new cast of extravagant and outrageous characters I may have heard of, but I had no appreciation for.
I'll be lending this one around, it's too much fun not to share. ...more
Just finished the e-copy of this book, the third in the Madame Defarge Knits series.
As always the patterns are inspired by literature, this time they'Just finished the e-copy of this book, the third in the Madame Defarge Knits series.
As always the patterns are inspired by literature, this time they're all Bard derived. Although I was taken aback at how many of the patterns came from the same plays (some of which are not his best known), and often even the same characters within the plays (three Malvolio yellow stockings? Really?) both the essays and the items are different enough to make interesting reading and worthwhile knitting. (After all, none of the stockings have to be knit in yellow...)
Having said that, all the Ophelia hate is overboard. She was barely past childhood. Sure, she wouldn't have been as interesting a conversationalist as Lady MacBeth, but that doesn't make her boring. (Then again, since she inspired two different patterns, maybe there's not all that much hate there).
The patterns are great, the recipes are worth looking at (though the baby shower and halloween inspired ones are way over the top), and the discussions do make me want to go back and re-read some of the plays.
I'm torn between appreciating all the useful information (complete episode guides for the series, Big Finish audio, and books up to the time of publicI'm torn between appreciating all the useful information (complete episode guides for the series, Big Finish audio, and books up to the time of publication) and being annoyed at the author's snark. Much of that annoyance is due to the fact that he is outspoken in his disapproval of some (old Who) companions and his exaggerated esteem for some very campy OW stories when he has little tolerance of the same sort of silliness in the new series.
In short, he is an opinionated curmudgeon.
An opinionated, very knowledgeable, curmudgeon.
It's a worthwhile read. Not earth shattering, but lots of fun tidbits for fans of the old and new series alike....more
All the loose ends are tied up and mysteries are solved. It's clear that the author wanted her audience 'wanting more' while doing that, but it ends uAll the loose ends are tied up and mysteries are solved. It's clear that the author wanted her audience 'wanting more' while doing that, but it ends up just... stopping. Perhaps I would find it more satisfying if I knew it was part of a larger continuity which focused on some of the peripheral characters, but I wouldn't be particularly motivated to hunt down further books in that series.
The series would be an excellent beach read....more
Consistent with the first book in the trilogy. The romance element is still a focus but it's forgivable because a) the protagonist is 16 and b) it actConsistent with the first book in the trilogy. The romance element is still a focus but it's forgivable because a) the protagonist is 16 and b) it actually does make sense in the alpha plot. Also, several other characters don't understand what she sees in him either, so I don't feel that it's the center of the story world.
Definitely will read the third book in the trilogy, but not rooting for an extended series on this one. When it's done, I'm done....more
A fun little YA romantic fantasy, and the first book in a trilogy. Perhaps a little bit heavy on the romance, and with some uncomfortable dynamics betA fun little YA romantic fantasy, and the first book in a trilogy. Perhaps a little bit heavy on the romance, and with some uncomfortable dynamics between the protagonist and her designated/forbidden romantic interest. Not at all a serious examination of time travel, it has some nods to the major paradoxes without clarifying how this all works...
How can you not enjoy a book where Count Saint-Germain is being set up as the big bad (or is he...)? Starting the sequel next....more
The Craftlit commentary definitely helps this one. It's certainly as much a thought experiment as it is a conventional story. In fact, I feel as thougThe Craftlit commentary definitely helps this one. It's certainly as much a thought experiment as it is a conventional story. In fact, I feel as though many of the characters only really begin to take shape in the final chapter.
It's a product of it's times - a story written during the campaign for Women's Suffrage in the United States providing a world (or nation) where women exist without men. It gets a bit annoying and preachy at times, but it also keeps the rhetoric remarkably low key at others. I find it far more interesting than good... ...more
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