Somehow over the years, Roger Zelazny has slipped by me. I've been aware of him as an author, I've just never found occasion to read any of his books.Somehow over the years, Roger Zelazny has slipped by me. I've been aware of him as an author, I've just never found occasion to read any of his books. When I heard that A Night in the Lonesome October was being released, and knowing that a dear friend is a diehard Zelazny fan, I picked up a copy and suggested that she and I read the book, one chapter a night, through the month of October.
Well, I'll tell you what, I had a lot of trouble sticking to my one chapter a night. I loved this book! Seriously, at the end of my nightly chapter, I wanted so desperately to keep reading, but I restrained myself. I found the whole idea, that numerous literary figures from across the horror spectrum have come together to play the Game, fantastic. Told from the point of view of Jack's familiar, a dog named Snuff, we are lead through the month of October as he tracks down clues as to which side of the Game each of the players are on. I loved this bit, as you try to figure out, along with Snuff, who is going to be pitted against who at the end of the Game. It was also fun seeing how so many literary (and in some cases, historical) characters were woven into this book. The entire story becomes a guessing game as you try to figure out who each of the characters are (some are obvious, some not quite so)and what role they'll play in the Game. I'm not saying what the Game is, as that's half the mystery as it is played out in the book.
Some might consider the next bit a little spoilerish.
If I had one quibble about the book, it's the abrupt end. There is so much build up to the finale of the story, that when it arrives, I was left a little shocked. It may just be that I wanted more of the story, but once the Game comes to an end, it is finished. No further explanation as to what happens to the characters, nothing. The story is just done. For me, it was just a little too unexpected, but I guess it works with the way the book is written, as we're only shown this one month of the character's lives.
End of spoilerish bit.
A Night in the Lonesome October is an immensely clever and entertaining book, a perfect addition to any reading that you may be doing leading up to Halloween. I'm fairly sure this will become a favorite of mine each October....more
Would somebody please get Marvel, and especially Bendis, OFF of the time travel, reality-altering story lines? Seriously, this is nothing other than aWould somebody please get Marvel, and especially Bendis, OFF of the time travel, reality-altering story lines? Seriously, this is nothing other than a rehash of Bendis' recent rehashes of his own work. There is such potential right under the surface of this book, but it's being bogged down with Bendis' love affair with his own previous stories. STOP....more
Not My Father's Son is a touching, funny, and sometimes disturbing memoir from Alan Cumming. He makes no qualms about the abuse his father inflicted uNot My Father's Son is a touching, funny, and sometimes disturbing memoir from Alan Cumming. He makes no qualms about the abuse his father inflicted upon him as a child. What he didn't discover until much later in his life, due to a series of events in his life that read almost like a soap opera, is why his father abused him so much. The events that Cumming describes almost seem too bizarre to be taken seriously, and if this were a work of fiction, I'd have doubts as to the level of disbelief the author expects me to suspend. However, these events did happen, and for all the grief and upset that Cumming describes in his memoir, he finally emerges as a healthier and happier person.
The memoir isn't always easy to read, especially if you have trouble reading about child abuse, as Cumming suffered from his fair share. However, he balances these events with witty and downright funny episodes from his life. There's nothing special here, other than an honest look into Alan Cumming's life and the how the man he is today was created....more
This is a clever and funny collection of photographs of some of Nature's more obscure and bizarre creatures of all shapes and sizes, presented as a coThis is a clever and funny collection of photographs of some of Nature's more obscure and bizarre creatures of all shapes and sizes, presented as a collection of photographs with accompanying dialogue between an unnamed narrator and Evolution. Evolution, often excited and anxious to show off it's newest creations, is often questioned, much to the reader's delight, by the narrator who is trying to figure out what exactly Evolution had in mind. Separated into chapters such as "Awkward Solutions" and "Half-Assed Attempts", we are presented with a wide array of creatures that does make one wonder what exactly was going on in the evolutionary process.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this book as much as I did is that I was introduced to a variety of animals that I had never heard of before, and while they are presented in a comedic fashion, I found myself researching a little more about them, beyond the humorous information presented in the book. One such creature is the whitemargin stargazer, a fish found in the Indopacific oceans, which I think looks like something that actually belongs Beyond the Wall.
Mara Grunbaum has done a great job of presenting some of nature's more unique specimens, disguising some very interesting information about them is a humorous format that is both comical and informative. Check out her tumblr at wtfevolution.tumblr.com for even more of Evolution's craziness....more
I was rather excited about this book from the moment I was first told about it. The person telling me about the book generally doesn't like children'sI was rather excited about this book from the moment I was first told about it. The person telling me about the book generally doesn't like children's books, so when she was proving to be excited about it, I thought I should be paying attention to that. And you know what? She was right.
There is so much in this book that I liked. We're immediately introduced to Horace, our hero of the story, who immediately sees a sign that catches his eye, which immediately leads him to his first encounter with a questionable character, which is quickly followed by Horace's discovery of the the House of Answers, which immediately sets Horace on his way to adventure. This all sounds really rushed when I type it out like this, but it works. Sometimes I feel stories are too drawn out to get to the action, and sometimes they are far too rushed, but this one worked perfectly for me to get us into the story. As was mentioned by the person who told me about the book, I had an immediate feel for Harry Potter, but only in the sense that there was a very real, very close world of magic that is going on in the background of this story that the general population knows nothing about, and it's been this way for a very long time. Sanders really does a great job of a quick world building that doesn't feel forced, it just is. However, that's about as far as the HP similarities went. Horace is a really smart kid, and he's very methodical and scientific in his thinking, so when he is presented with what seems to be a magical artifact, he goes about exploring it's properties in a very scientific way, even going so far as to discuss some of his thoughts with his science teacher. Here is another something that I particularly liked about the story; there does actually seem to be some science behind the magic and fiction in the story. It makes the entire story feel really grounded for me.
Horace, Chloe (the other hero of our story), their families, and the other characters in the story also feel very real. They have their flaws, their families aren't perfect, they make mistakes. One of the things that I continually was impressed with is Horace's relationship with his family, especially his mother. One thing that I find frequently frustrating about many YA and middle grade books is the constant necessity for the kids to keep things from the adults in the stories. I assume this must be to show that a certain level of independence in a young person is a good thing, but the other thing to remember is that the kids these books are geared at are young, and don't always know best, and sometimes it's OK, even a good thing, to ask for help from the grownups in their lives. Granted, while Horace doesn't reveal everything that is going on in his life with his parents, they still play an important part in his life and he still relies on their advice. To me, this seems like a refreshing turn of events for a YA or middle grade book. On the flip side of that, with Chloe's family and he strained relationship with her father, I feel this is refreshing in its own way, as it shows kids that don't have the ideal family life or have problems at home that there can still be magic in the world and that relying on your friends can be just as important as relying on your family.
While it seems like The Box and the Dragonfly is a large book (clocking in at 544 pages!), it is paced great and never feels like it is slogging along. I read it in two sittings and was partly saddened that I got through it so quickly. Given the age group that the book is geared towards, however, I think it will move along at a great rate and kids won't feel bored reading it at all, nor will they feel like they've got a huge book to plod through.
If I had any complaint at all about the book, it's Sanders' descriptions of his characters. I never felt at any point in the book that I had a clear idea of what any of the characters looked like. While this works to some of the characters advantages and their very nature, it doesn't work for others. Other than a vague idea that Horace is a bigger kid, I have no idea what he looks like. Is he bigger as in taller, broader, or bulkier? Just telling me he's a big kid doesn't really help me put a clear picture of him together in my head. While reading, I kept having more and more differing views of how the characters look. Maybe it's just me, but I feel a more precise description of some of the characters would have gone a long way.
This one "flaw" aside (and honestly, that's not even that big of a deal), Sanders has created quite the fine world in The Box and the Dragonfly. Not one to read much middle grade anymore, I'm pleased to have read two such strong middle grade debuts this year (the other being J. A. White's The Thickety: A Path Begins). Just like that book, I'll definitely be looking forward to continue reading Horace and Chloe's adventures and will be recommending this book to all my friends with young readers!...more