You know a book is good when you can't put it down even when you're rereading it. My original review is below.
In my favorite of the Johnny MaYou know a book is good when you can't put it down even when you're rereading it. My original review is below.
In my favorite of the Johnny Maxwell trilogy, Johnny crosses paths with Mrs. Tachyon, a bag lady who also is a time traveller. He and his friends travel back to WWII in their town with the predictable changing of time that must be fixed. However, instead of simply changing time back to its previous path, Johnny wants to prevent a bomb wiping out Paradise Street in the middle of the night. This necessitates a lot of maneuvering by the kids with the usual humorous Pratchett twists and turns along the way.
I was surprised at what a page turner it became by the end as I stayed up way past bedtime to get Johnny and his pals home again. Here's a favorite bit of dialogue to tide you over until you can find the book which is out of print.
In the shopping mall, a joke was going wrong.
"Make me .. er," said Bigmac, "make me one with pickle and onion rings and fries."
"Make me one with extra salad and fries, please," said Yo-less.
Wobbler took a long look at the girl in the cardboard hat.
"Make me one with everything," he said. "Because ... I'm going to become a Muslim!"
Bigmac and Yo-less exchanged glances.
"Buddhist," said Yo-less, patiently. "It's Buddhist! Make me one with everything because I'm going to become a Buddhist! It's Buddhists that want to be one with everything. Singing 'om' and all that. You mucked it up! You were practising all the way down here and you still mucked it up!"
"Buddhists wouldn't have the burger," said the girl. "They'd have the Jumbo Beanburger. Or just fries and a salad."
They stared at her.
"Vegetarianism," said the girl. "I may have to wear a paper hat but I haven't got a cardboard brain, thank you." She glared at Wobbler. "You want a bun with everything. You want fries with that?"
Rereading this was a delight. My original review is below.
Twelve year old Johnny Maxwell is cutting through the cemetery one day with a frieRereading this was a delight. My original review is below.
Twelve year old Johnny Maxwell is cutting through the cemetery one day with a friend when he knocks on the door of a tomb and the inhabitant answers the door. Johnny is the only one with the unique ability to wake up the dead and soon they are bothering him to stop the proposed development of their cemetery for a large corporation's offices. Once they discover they can leave the cemetery, go to the movies, and travel over telephone wires to chat on late night radio talk shows everyone else starts feeling that something isn't quite right around town too.
As always, Pratchett's twists and turns of plot and conversation are hilarious while telling an enjoyable tale about living life to the fullest even after you're dead.
"Mrs. Nugent says all that sort of thing [Halloween] is tampering with the occult," said Wobbler. Mrs. Nugent was the Johnson's next door neighbour, and known to be unreasonable on subjects like Madonna played at full volume at 3 a.m.
"Probably it is," said Johnny.
"She says witches are abroad on Halloween," said Wobbler.
"What?" Johnny's forehead wrinkled. "Like ... Marjorca and places?"
"Suppose so," said Wobbler.
"Makes ... sense, I suppose. They probably get special out-of-season bargains, being old ladies," said Johnny. "My aunt can go anywhere on the buses for almost nothing and she's not even a witch."
"Don't see why Mrs. Nugent is worried, then," said Wobbler. "It ort to be a lot safer round here, with all the witches on holiday."
I discovered Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell trilogy way back in 2004 and just reread it. It is Y.A. in the way that Pratchett does so well, truly not condI discovered Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell trilogy way back in 2004 and just reread it. It is Y.A. in the way that Pratchett does so well, truly not condescending but capturing the feelings of that time of life. He does this in the trilogy in a way that seems quite unusual for his books. For one thing because they take place in Great Britain in the real world. More or less.
My original review is below.
The Johnny Maxwell books are not Terry Pratchett's usual Discworld books. They are set in a very ordinary run down town in England, centering around Johnny Maxwell and his three friends.
Johnny, whose parents are going through Trying Times, is playing his favorite video game when the aliens suddenly surrender to him instead of fighting back. He and his friends suspect a computer virus but things get even stranger when Johnny finds himself in incredibly lifelike dreams piloting a starfighter, leading the alien fleet home where they will be safe from mankind, and communicating with a girl who also is dreaming of the alien fleet.
Pratchett adds those extra touches that regular readers love such as when they go by the ruined hulks of Space Invader ships tumbling in space that the aliens use to show each other what happens when you take a stand.
His special genius, to my way of thinking, comes in how he treats the conversations and thinking of the kids, along with those little unexpected twists. It was a very small ScreeWee. Most of its scales were grey. Its crest was nearly worn away. Its tail just dragged behind it. When it opened its mouth, there were three teeth left and they were huddling together at the back.
It blinked owlishly at them over the top of the trolley it had been pushing. Apart from everything else, Kirsty had been aiming the gun well above its head.
There was one of those awkward silences.
"Around this time," said the Captain behind them, "the crew on the bridge have a snack brought to them."
Johnny leaned forward, nodded at the little old alien, and lifted the lid of the tray that was on the trolley. There were a few bowls of something green and bubbling. He gently lowered the lid again.
"I think you were going to shoot the tea lady," he said.
"How was I to know?" Kirsty demanded, "It could have been anything! This is an alien spaceship! You're not supposed to get tea ladies!"
The Captain said something in ScreeWee to the old alien, who shuffled around slowly and went off back down the corridor. One wheel of the trolley kept squeaking.
Kirsty was furious.
"This isn't going right!" she hissed.
"Come on," said Johnny, "Let's go to the bridge and get it over with."
"I didn't know it was a tea lady!" That's your dreaming!"
"Yes, all right."
"She had no right to be there!"
"I suppose even aliens get a bit thirsty in the afternoons."
"That's not what I meant! They're supposed to be alien! That means slavering and claws! It doesn't mean sending out for ... for a coffee and a jam doughnut!"Highly enjoyable and definitely recommended....more
I'd actually give this 4-1/2 stars based on the way I felt by the end of the book, but the Lesley story strand annoyed me so much that I rounded down.I'd actually give this 4-1/2 stars based on the way I felt by the end of the book, but the Lesley story strand annoyed me so much that I rounded down.
There's a change of pace in this addition to P.C. Peter Grant's story of solving mysteries which include elements of "weird bollocks" (magic). He is sent to the countryside to aid investigation of two missing 11-year-old girls. Thus we get the Londoner's reaction to the countryside and a chance to explore areas which his mentor Detective Nightingale does not know a lot about.
I saw some reviewers complaining about the change of pace, which is a bit slower than the other books, but I liked it just fine. Originally I was disappointed at the intrusion of a traditional otherworldly element because Aaronovitch has been so good at not going the traditional route. However, he developed it in such a way that I was quite satisfied by the end.
Aaronovitch's trademark humor is included with Peter zinging pubs offering food that has ancestries longer than his and other such pretentious gentrifications of country living. Naturally for me that was a much appreciated element, along with the standard architectural snark, insights into coppers' ways, and improvisation. Oh, and a good twisty mystery to solve along the way.
Looking forward to the next installment now that I've speed read the series to this point....more
Enjoyable, conversational recounting of how the author finally quit talking about reading a list of great books and finally committed to doing it. AndEnjoyable, conversational recounting of how the author finally quit talking about reading a list of great books and finally committed to doing it. And, of course, of the internal growth he experienced along the way.
Andy Miller is hilarious and the book wears well as a conversation about his experiences. It is kind of loose, in the style of GoodReads reviews and conversations, which makes it easy to read. It also made the last half of the book a bit wearing as I wished for fewer digressions and more structure. However, I did like the fact that he refused to read books he just didn't care about and wouldn't include books simply because they were considered "great." I also liked the lesson he learned about perseverance and reflection. It is one I've had to apply for a variety of books I learned to love from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell to Middlemarch to Great Expectations to (my current struggle) Don Quixote.
Altogether a good read but also worth simply skimming until you get to bits you like....more
Ben Aaronovitch is back in full form with this tale of magic that must be investigated in a mysterious council estate building that is not only odd loBen Aaronovitch is back in full form with this tale of magic that must be investigated in a mysterious council estate building that is not only odd looking but has a number of odd qualities. In this we see police constable Peter Grant's comments about government housing as well as our continuing education into why coppers do what they do. If that makes this sound less than compelling it is because I don't want to spoil the story as it unfolds. The back of the book is good enough for those who want more by this far into the series.
As for the ending ... I've seen it described as a cliff-hanger but that is understating the "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!?!??!!!!" factor I felt at the ending turn of events. Seriously. Stunned....more
In this book, Ben Aaronovitch gets back the mojo he had in Midnight Riot. Looking back at book 2 (Moon Over Soho) I can see that a lot of strands wereIn this book, Ben Aaronovitch gets back the mojo he had in Midnight Riot. Looking back at book 2 (Moon Over Soho) I can see that a lot of strands were setting up what made this book good. This book was a cohesive, entertaining story that also moved forward the characters' lives. I was intrigued to see that Peter Grant has a very good reason for all the snarky comments he continually makes about modern architecture in London. You'll have to read it yourself to find out why.
The book description is off for some reason. The info about the FBI agent is all wrong. Just fyi.
One of the things I like about this series is that you also pick up a lot of information about whatever topic Aaronovitch is using to anchor the story. For example we learn a lot about pottery in London, the sewer system, and (as always) how coppers think, act, and speak. There are lots of little details for those of us like Peter Grant who tend to become distracted and follow extra information down the rabbit hole....more
I loved the way the first book linked magic and the way jazz musicians feel their way to the right music. This book seems to be carrying that link furI loved the way the first book linked magic and the way jazz musicians feel their way to the right music. This book seems to be carrying that link further as a series of mysterious heart attacks strike jazz musicians, leaving behind a vestigia trail of Body and Soul. So far I'm enjoying it.
FINAL Not as well put together as the first book and I'd have given it 3-1/2 stars, but sometimes good is "good enough." I enjoyed it....more
I've had this sitting in my to read stack for a few weeks and been thinking that I'm not in the mood for Dickens. I'm in no hurry. It's time will comeI've had this sitting in my to read stack for a few weeks and been thinking that I'm not in the mood for Dickens. I'm in no hurry. It's time will come.
Then a family emergency arose, got to leave town for an undefined time. Being me, the first thing I do is begin making a book list for the trip. And David Copperfield kept coming to mind. Not the Kindle version, which I have. But the real book, reassuringly big enough to cover a lengthy trip.
It's funny that I've turned into someone who finds Dickens like a big, comforting feather bed. The things books tell us about ourselves ... interesting....more
I enjoyed the Audible sampler of this book which added readings of famous works to the author's discussion of authors.
I was actually pleased to see tI enjoyed the Audible sampler of this book which added readings of famous works to the author's discussion of authors.
I was actually pleased to see that the book doesn't take up space with samples of the famous works. I can get those anywhere for the most part. This book is chock-full of Elliot Engel's brief, fascinating biographies and discussions of why these authors still appeal to us today. And that's what I really wanted.
FINAL A simply superb collection of brief biographical essays that not only help us understand famous literary personalities but that explain what they wrote. Simply amazing that Elliot Engel managed to do this so effectively and entertainingly in such brief pieces....more
A kind friend lent me this audiobook. I don't usually read this sort of book but the first chapters have been very engaging.
UPDATE I am finding this oA kind friend lent me this audiobook. I don't usually read this sort of book but the first chapters have been very engaging.
UPDATE I am finding this oddly mesmerizing considering that I don't care about much of the details that go along with political office. George Bush keeps it high level enough that thinking about his considerations in various decisions is interesting.
More than anything I am struck by the fact that it has been a very long time since I've heard aspiration for political office or appointment mentioned in terms of "serving your country."
It is refreshing.
It reminds me that is the point, or should be, of all such aspirations. How often are those aspirations forgotten or sublimated to lesser goals? I like the fact that serving their country was a goal for so many of the people mentioned in this memoir thus far....more
This is a review copy from SFFaudio. I am terrified because I liked The Rosie Project so much that I don't know how this can match it. I am excited beThis is a review copy from SFFaudio. I am terrified because I liked The Rosie Project so much that I don't know how this can match it. I am excited because I liked The Rosie Project so much that I want it to match it.
Conflicted, therefore, I begin ...
DONE Not with the book but halfway into the second CD there's a cringe-worthy moment just like a terrible movie sequel would do. Not logical, not showing that Don has learned anything from being married and living with Rosie. I was ignoring small signs it would be a repeat of the first book but this is too much.
I just don't want to waste time listening to this any more....more
One of my 2015 Reading Challenges was to read a poem a day. This is such a great book that I had to buy my own copy. Each of the poems I've read thusOne of my 2015 Reading Challenges was to read a poem a day. This is such a great book that I had to buy my own copy. Each of the poems I've read thus far has stuck with me through the day and given me a nugget of something outside of ordinary life to think about....more
This was really enjoyable and a very quick read especially since the text is interspersed with copious cartoons and photos. I read the first half whicThis was really enjoyable and a very quick read especially since the text is interspersed with copious cartoons and photos. I read the first half which was Mankoff's memoir and increasingly skimmed the second half which discussed the art of making cartoons funny. There were plenty of illustrations of his points and by the end I was simply reading the cartoons. However, it made for a very entertaining evening....more
I am thoroughly enjoying this series by the famous Thomas A. Shippey. It is 24 half-hour lectures about heroes who remain influential in our own day.I am thoroughly enjoying this series by the famous Thomas A. Shippey. It is 24 half-hour lectures about heroes who remain influential in our own day. Odysseus, Beowulf, and Robin Hood mingle with less traditional heroes like the Wife of Bath, Cressida, Celie (The Color Purple), and James Bond.
It is like taking a history course viewing cultures through their famous heroes. And, of course, seeing which bits our culture appreciates or has dropped turns that lens upon us. Shippey is wonderful at evoking images to help along the way such as George Jones' songs, comic books, and movies.
FINAL Overall a very good and interesting course. I do not agree with all of Shippey's conclusions (or inclusions, such as Winston Smith or Dracula). Hence the 4-stars. However, those are small points and I definitely recommend this....more
Elliot Engel is a professor who would engage anyone in the lives of these famous authors with fascinating tidbits about their lives and the times in wElliot Engel is a professor who would engage anyone in the lives of these famous authors with fascinating tidbits about their lives and the times in which they lived. This is enhanced by having different narrators read copious samples of their work to give you a really good feel for why they are worth reading.
I've done the Shade of Shakespeare and am now on the Dab of Dickens ... enjoying this immensely.
This is an excerpt of the book by the way. The whole book doesn't exist in audio. But I am enjoying it enough that I have the print version requested from the library....more