When Marianne's parents died, leaving control of their fortune to her feared older brother, she struggled to make her way as a student in America - and her old home began to seem as unreal as a fairy tale, her childhood there as distant as a dream. Until the Magus came to claim her, and the Black Madame to destroy her, and the Manticore to hunt her down through the streets of another world - for there is magic in Marianne's blood, and magic in her soul. And in a battle fought in an everchanging world of warped time and wicked magic, it is the souls of Marianne and her family that are the ultimate prizes.
This description doesn't give a true feel for how fresh and original the storyline is.
I'd give this three and a half stars, actually, except that the author's imagination is so wonderful. This 1985 book, which I bought when new and have reread several times, betrays a style that is still working itself out and several awkward writing habits. On the other hand, this is before Tepper fell prey to sharing her (evidently) personal feelings about men so there is a strong male character who is nuanced in his actions and thoughts. Most of all, the border worlds that Marianne gets "banished" to are simply amazing. I love this series despite its flaws.(less)
At one point, Rudy Sanchez says that "this has done something fundamental to the American...moreSHORT VERSION: WOAH.
This is the worthy sequel to Patient Zero.
At one point, Rudy Sanchez says that "this has done something fundamental to the American people."
I'll tell you this. It did something fundamental to me.
It was exciting, suspenseful, terrifying, and haunted me in my dreams and at random moments in my day.
And it was satisfying. Very satisfying.
I'm not sure Maberry can top this. Though I'm already looking forward to his next attempt to try.
LONG VERSION: It's been six years since Joe Ledger was secretly recruited by the government to lead a combat team for the DMS, a taskforce created to deal with problems that Homeland Security can't handle. That story was told in Patient Zero. This was where we met a group of terrorists who had developed a bio-weapon that turned people into zombies.
Every year since then, like clockwork, Joe and Echo Team have returned to battle a variety of seemingly supernatural foes, all developed by villains who are somehow going to make boatloads of cash off of the terror.
The action-packed stories are full of evil super-villains, noble heroes, smart mouthed quips, a smattering of philosophy about "good guys and bad guys" and heart. Lots of heart. All this is told at a roller coaster pace that barely allows you to breathe until you get to the end.
I love them.
In many ways, this book is similar to the rest of the series. Mother Night, a villain you love to hate, is a super-genius anarchist who's strewing chaos throughout the country over Labor Day weekend. She's got the DMS's computer tied up in knots and old evils that were defeated in previous books are now popping their heads up all over the country. Losses are high and the odds are very much against Ledger and his team. We know Joe will win. It's watching it happen that makes it fun.
It is superior to the other books, I think, because the pacing is more measured and there is more character development. I also enjoyed the flashbacks into the DMS's years before Joe joined them.
But in one very important way Code Zero was very different for me.
I felt a level of anxiety that was all out of proportion. Maberry is an expert at ratcheting up the stakes until you just can't see how anyone decent is going to survive the maelstrom. I was used to that. But somehow this felt different. I got a bit jumpy. I couldn't quit thinking about the horrific chaos during the day when I had to put the book down. It stuck with me in a way the other books didn't.
In fact, after I finished Code Zero I had to go find a nice, gentle book to read. I just couldn't face anything hard-edged. (Hello, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.)
Then I woke up this morning to news on my clock radio about multiple stabbings at a high school. And I figured it out.
Maberry has his finger on the pulse of the evil that Americans today know all too well ... that lurks below the conscious level of our lives ... violent chaos that can strike without a moment's notice. Shootings at Fort Hood, restaurants, schools, and more have changed the mood of our country and made Mother Night's chaos resonate more deeply than usual.
Along the way, he looks at why people choose good or evil. This has been mentioned in other books, but never with so many examples as in this one. Maberry doesn't spell it out much but this conversation between a DMS scientist and Joe Ledger gave the larger context, as well as defining everyone's actions in the book.
"I've watched the tapes of Rudy interviewing some of the people you and Col. Riggs and the others have arrested. Some of them seem so ordinary. How can they commit those atrocities if they have a conscience? Is it their nature? Or is it a nurture thing? Are they from an environment that makes it ok for them?"
Joe grunted. "I asked Rudy that same exact question once."
"What did he say?"
"He said that the nature versus nurture question is fundamentally flawed because it assumes that there are only two possible forces at work on a person. Sure, a person's nature is a factor and that could be a produce of their brain chemistry or whatever makes a person a sociopath or a psychotic or a hero. Just as the forces in a person's life have to be taken into some account. Some abused children grow up to abuse. There's math for that. But neither viewpoint covers all the possible bases."
"So what's missing?"
"Choice," said Ledger. "Rudy thinks that choice is often more important than either nature or nurture. Some people grow up in hell and choose to let others share in that hell. Some people grow up in hell and they make damn sure they don't let those in their care ever glimpse those fires. It's a choice."
"Not everyone can make that choice."
"No, of course not. But a lot more people can than you might think." ...
"Choice," she said.
"Choice," he agreed. "It's what defines us. And it's probably the most underrated power in the world."
Code Zero is full of people choosing to save the world or burn it down. In most of the cases, the motivation comes down to something that Maberry does not name, but which I will make bold to label: love. We want to know we matter, that we make a difference, that someone "knows" us. Not for our accomplishments but simply because our "selves" matter.
Mother Night gives it a different name, and she may not tidily fall into this definition but, let's face it, she's super-villain crazy. I believe that her ultimate fate bears me out. It shows most in Maberry's final scenario at the end of the book as the answer to Rudy's statement that the chaos "has done something fundamental to the American people.
Truly this is a great book, especially for the shoot-em-up genre. It is also probably one that can be read as a stand alone without reading the others that came before.
AUDIO NOTES I listened to the audiobook read by Ray Porter who was superb, as usual, at portraying Joe and every other character along the way. In this book Porter dialed his urgent, driving, delivery down some and thank goodness for that. The action was intense enough without being shoved over the edge of the cliff by a continually urgent tone. Porter also was more nuanced and thoughtful in his reading than I recall in previous Joe Ledger books. If this sounds odd when considering our heroes are fighting off zombies, it actually worked to make me consider the full horror being faced. Once again, kudos to Ray Porter. He's the reason I always choose audio for the Joe Ledger books.(less)
I've never understood the enthusiasm for study Bibles on a single theme or with a single person's commentary. Obviously, they are popular because you...moreI've never understood the enthusiasm for study Bibles on a single theme or with a single person's commentary. Obviously, they are popular because you can see them everywhere. When this Bible came to my attention, I blanched.
However, it seems as if 2014 is fast becoming my "year of C.S. Lewis" as I work my way through his books in audio format. So I took a closer look on Amazon where I found Brandon Vogt's review, which I encourage you to read. I trust Brandon's judgment a lot from having read his blog. His thoughtful comments also showed that he, too, was leery of this sort of study bible. He pointed out that, with care, one can view such a work as having midrash available on scripture and that opened up another way to consider it.
I'm not crazy about the NRSV translation but that is a matter of personal taste admittedly. Catholics will note that this is a Protestant Bible and so has fewer books than a Catholic Bible would. The committee who put this together does seem to have done an impressive job of carefully matching Lewis's comments in the appropriate spot without overdoing it. It is definitely a Bible first and foremost, with occasional C.S. Lewis comments from a wide variety of sources. It quickly became a favorite morning read.
I do want to mention that except for the cover, this book is a work of beauty. The typesetting, format, and overall look are gorgeous. The cover ... well, you can see that for yourself. Nothing can make it anything except ugly. But once the cover is opened, the interior is beautiful. This is the book that proves the old adage. Don't judge this book by its cover.(less)
I can't believe I didn't post this review here when I did it for SFFaudio, who provided the review copy. I'm relistening now and finding it holds toge...moreI can't believe I didn't post this review here when I did it for SFFaudio, who provided the review copy. I'm relistening now and finding it holds together very well, with little clues scattered in the beginning of the story which I didn't notice until now. As to the original review ... retter late than never ... here you go!
I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles. Looking dizzily down. I suck in a breath of icy air.
Above me are stars. Below me, the bronze statue of Colonel Wallingford makes me realize I’m seeing the quad from the peak of Smythe Hall, my dorm.
I have no memory of climbing the stairs up to the roof. I don’t even know how to get where I am, which is a problem since I’m going to have to get down, ideally in a way that doesn’t involve dying.
I’d dreamed of a white cat. It leaned over me, inhaling sharply, as if it was going to suck the breath from my lungs, but then it bit out my tongue instead. There was no pain, only a sense of overwhelming, suffocating panic. In the dream, my tongue was a wriggling red thing, mouse-sized and wet, that the cat carried in her mouth. I wanted it back. I sprang up out of the bed and grabbed for her, but she was too lean and too quick. I chased her. The next thing I knew, I was teetering on a slate roof.
A siren wails in the distance, drawing closer. My cheeks hurt from smiling.
Eventually a fireman climbs a ladder to get me down. They put a blanket around me, but by then my teeth are chattering so hard that I can’t answer any of their questions. It’s like the cat bit out my tongue after all.
Born into a family of curse workers, Cassell doesn't have the magical powers to be a "worker." Curses come in all shapes and sizes from transforming victims into something else down to emotionally influencing people. All that is needed is the touch of a finger. This makes gloves much more than a fashion accessory since they are a necessary item of protection.
Curse work is illegal so curse workers are all either part of the powerful crime families, con workers, or exist with their secret on the edges of society. Cassell's family owes allegiance to a powerful crime family and working cons is as normal as breathing. In fact, working the con is the thing that makes up for not being a worker and Cassell eyes the world from this vantage point, which makes him a solitary figure with few friends.
Cassell has a dark secret, a problem with sleepwalking, and a family who specializes in running cons. He also lost the love of his life, Lila, long ago. However, he put that all behind him and is concentrating on life in boarding school and building a normal life, along with keeping book on the side. (Hey, a guy has to have a little spending money, right?) So when a white cat begins following him everywhere, terrifying dreams bring Lila back into his waking thoughts, and those dark secrets begin surfacing again, Cassell begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a complicated con game.
Can he out-con the pros and solve his problems? Well, of course he can or what would be the point of reading the book? The fascination is with watching Cassell have to admit that he needs help from others, seeing his longing for family ties even as he fears that he may have been betrayed by them, and seeing him deal with the conflict of trying to be a nice, normal, honest guy ... who just happens to love conning people.
Holly Black has a fully realized alternate world where the presence of curse working and magic define much more than Cassell's personal problems. There is a slight but interesting subplot about an organization that is working for "worker's rights." The government has begun pushing a testing program, urging workers to come forward and be identified. Family loyalty along with the inner workings of crime families are also interesting embellishments to the plot. The magical abilities described are fascinating, as is the concept of "blow back" which besets anyone who works a curse. Nothing is done with impunity so you'd better be darned sure you want to curse someone because you will suffer some sort of severe reaction in turn.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is that Cassell is an unreliable narrator. What is more, he knows he is an unreliable narrator as he is afraid that he is too influenced by dreams or that his memory has been worked. Everyone around him is fairly unreliable as well since Cassell is never sure when someone is working a con or being natural. Although the major plot twists are fairly well telegraphed ahead of time, this hardly matters because we are so concerned with the fact that Cassell may be working a con we don't see or that he is being conned himself.
The story is narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, who is probably best known for portraying the awkward college student in Zombieland or the equally awkward Mark Zuckerberg in Social Network. His trademark delivery works perfectly as the story is told by Cassell who is equally as awkward as either of those movie characters. Furthermore, Eisenberg alters his voice slightly but effectively to portray different characters: a fortune teller, Cassell's mother, his roommate Sam, and the crime boss all get slightly different intonations which perfectly convey character. I would have liked the book anyway as a straight read, but with Eisenberg's narration I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Just like an average mark, in fact.
It is called urban fantasy but didn't really feel that way to me. It is fantasy because of the curse working element but other than that there are precious few fantastic elements. Likewise, it is labeled YA, but aside from the age of the narrator and some elements like having to attend classes, it didn't feel like something written for younger readers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What can I say? I like con stories. I like the universe Holly Black created. Jesse Eisenberg's narration pulled me into the story so I stayed there long enough to care about a boarding school student with an interesting set of problems. I also liked the fact that the story arc was concluded in this book except for one element which obviously serves as a bridge to the second book of the series.
It's just plain fun all round and moves at a fast, addictive pace. Recommended.(less)
A precursor of the books where one chats about saints as part of life or many other topics, such as Bert Ghezzi's Mystics & Miracles or James Mart...moreA precursor of the books where one chats about saints as part of life or many other topics, such as Bert Ghezzi's Mystics & Miracles or James Martin's My Life With the Saints. In fact, I believe I first heard of Saint-Watching in Ghezzi's book and promptly went looking for it.
Phyllis McGinley has a charming and down-to-earth style when talking about the saints and giving their histories. Those qualities combined with her sense of humor make this one of my favorite books about saints. (less)
This book was a chance recommendation by an acquaintance when I was at our church's St. Jude library. I'm really grateful as I never would have picked...moreThis book was a chance recommendation by an acquaintance when I was at our church's St. Jude library. I'm really grateful as I never would have picked up this page-turner otherwise.
Workmen lowering a floor led to the discovery of tombs beneath the basilica. This began an archaeological search for the fabled bones of the apostle St. Peter which tradition held lay beneath the altar. Pope Pius XII had a natural interest in "modern science" and gave the four Vatican archaeologists permission to search as long as the altar itself wasn't disturbed and they said nothing to anyone about it. Once the grave was discovered the mystery continues with the search for St. Peter's bones. The series of circumstances that occur to hide them and then uncover them are like something fictional. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.
The author has a real talent for communicating archaeological information in laymen's terms. It read like a first class detective story and I often found myself staying up way too late at night to see what was discovered next. Also fascinating was the wealth of information about Christian worship in Rome during the early centuries. This book may be difficult to find as the person who recommended it told me it is no longer being published in this country. That may account for the high price of used books I saw at the Amazon listing. Nevertheless, it is well worth seeking out.
UPDATE I see that the book is available on the Kindle, although some reviewers mention errors which indicate a lack of correction to the scans used to import the book. Those may have been corrected by now. The sample I downloaded had no errors.(less)
I enjoy this book every time I read it. Alan Russell's other writing is dark but the two mysteries in this short series are light hearted and take us...moreI enjoy this book every time I read it. Alan Russell's other writing is dark but the two mysteries in this short series are light hearted and take us behind the scenes in the hotel industry. I seem to recall that Russell himself worked in the hotel industry for some time and, if my memory is correct, it certainly shows. He has a real talent for threading a larger mystery through the daily small occurrences that an assistant manager/security director must handle. Highly recommended.(less)
5% Done UPDATE I'm 5% done with Reflections on the Psalms: I never ever stopped to think before about the difference between judges in Old Testament ti...more5% Done UPDATE I'm 5% done with Reflections on the Psalms: I never ever stopped to think before about the difference between judges in Old Testament times versus judges in our very modern times. We expect impartiality, no graft, and so forth. Our system is so different from the OT Jewish system that it is no wonder we need mental adjustment before comprehending why their view of God's judgment is so much more joyous than our own. Completely different POV. Fascinating.
25% Done UPDATE I found myself looking at various psalms this morning with a completely new appreciation. For one thing I was really enjoying seeing the two-line emphasis on most points. I have known about this special sort of poetry but considering psalms with Lewis made me just appreciate how the poets wrote these to give special emphasis and definition to what they were saying.
More importantly, possibly, I found myself thinking of them not as "The Psalms" but as songs written by individual people. People like me who probably found words inadequate, as one does when trying to express the ineffable or when trying to put one's own (effable) feelings into speech. And that made them so much more approachable than when I've been told, as I have so often, that these are a good way to pray. They probably are a good way to pray, but one couldn't have found a more off-putting way to make me think of them as it was often very difficult to enter into the psalmists' particular feelings of the moment.
30% Done UPDATE Listening to Lewis's thoughts on expressing the sheer joy of the Lord were directly responsible for one of the most joyful early morning walks I've had in some time. Phrases from the joyful psalms (hills clapping their hands, brooks jumping for joy ... I've probably gotten it wrong but that's what I recall) rang through my head as I walked, watched flocks flying, heard mockingbird mating songs, and saw the radiance of the dawn. The joy of the Lord in His creation sings aloud ...
75% Done UPDATE I am not sure why Mere Christianity is so often mentioned and Reflections on the Psalms is a book I had to discover on my own. Discussing his own problems about the Psalms ... Lewis clears up a lot of unarticulated problems I myself have often had with relating to God and the faithful. Chapter 8 about praising God shot a bolt of lightning into what the psalmists actually meant. Brilliant.(less)
This book is the charming and fascinatingly told story of Julia Child and her husband living in France. What elevates this beyond the usual food/life...moreThis book is the charming and fascinatingly told story of Julia Child and her husband living in France. What elevates this beyond the usual food/life memoir is Child's telling of the whole picture, not just the food oriented moments. Yes, the food is there. After all, we are in France, n'est-ce pas? And this is Julia Child's story. However, just as in life, the food memories wind their way through the rest of her stories which make us understand just why she adores France. A snippet to whet your appetite.
... I had come to the conclusion that I must really be French, only no one had ever informed me of this fact. I loved the people, the food, the lay of the land, the civilized atmosphere, and the generous pace of life.
August in Paris was known as la morte-saison, "the dead season," because everybody who could possibly vacate did so as quickly as possible. A great emptying out of the city took place, as hordes migrated toward the mountains and coasts, with attendant traffic jams and accidents. Our favorite restaurants, the creamery, the meat man, the flower lady, the newspaper lady, and the cleaners all disappeared for three weeks. One afternoon I went into Nicolas, the wine shop, to buy some wine and discovered that everyone but the deliveryman had left town. He was minding the store, and in the meantime was studying voice in the hope of landing a role at the opera. Sitting next to him was an old concierge who, twenty-five years earlier, had been a seamstress for one of the great couturiers on la Place Vendome. She and the deliveryman reminisced about the golden days of Racine and Moliere and the Opera Comique. I was delighted to stumble in on these two. It seemed that in Paris you could discuss classic literature or architecture or great music with everyone from the garbage collector to the mayor.
Bill Buford became fascinated by Mario Batalli and talked him into letting Buford work in his restaurant kitchen as an unpaid intern. Along the way we...moreBill Buford became fascinated by Mario Batalli and talked him into letting Buford work in his restaurant kitchen as an unpaid intern. Along the way we get insights into how a restaurant kitchen works, although those have been given in greater detail and with greater flair in such books as Kitchen Confidential and The Soul of a Chef.
For me the fascinating part of this book came when Buford became hooked on food from his own point of view, doing endless research into when Italian cooks first began adding an egg to pasta dough and going to Italy to learn from a butcher who follows the old ways. In some areas he winds up surpassing Batalli's own knowledge of Italian cuisine. Along the way we see Batalli's career from owning a restaurant to becoming a celebrity chef.(less)
I read this for the Patheos book club after they approached me because they needed more bloggers to participate.
Originally I thought, "another convers...moreI read this for the Patheos book club after they approached me because they needed more bloggers to participate.
Originally I thought, "another conversion story ... I've read so many, do I need to read another?" I forgot, of course, that every conversion story is the same, a love story. And every conversion story is unique because each of us is uniquely different. As it turns out, this was a very engaging reading experience, to the point where I read it in 24 hours.
I really enjoyed reading Richard Cole's very honest account of his internal struggles when it became clear that God was tapping him on the shoulder to invite him to a closer relationship, through the Catholic Church. I appreciated the way he'd tell sitting down at the kitchen table to ask honest questions about things troubling him and then would relate Jesus' answer. Usually direct, often surprising ... and that all rang very true to me.
I also appreciated Cole's honest accounting of dealing with his wife about faith. Interestingly she was in the process of moving away from Catholicism to new age spiritualism. This troubled Cole and led to several conversations which showed two people trying to move into greater relationship with God through very different paths. It seemed especially relevant to our times when so many people are moving away from the faith (or lack thereof) in which they were raised and find themselves adapting to "mixed marriages."
I would be curious to hear the author's wife's reasons for giving her husband that three-day gift certificate to a retreat at a monastery, which is what kicked off his conversion process. Since she herself was in the process of moving away from Catholicism it was a generous and interesting gift but those reasons aren't given in the book.
Cole was a lot more directed in his conversion that I was in mine. I'd just go along, something would happen to get my attention and I'd respond and then go off in whatever new direction seemed indicated, happy and oblivious until the next attention-getting bop on the head from God. Cole worked on his as if it were a Divine Assignment he'd be graded on, with a lot of worry and attention and introspection that would have worn me out.
Not that my own enthusiasm and gung-ho attitude probably didn't get wearing for my own family, it is just that I didn't work it like a program with boxes to check off a list. I might not have been thrilled about the idea of RCIA classes, but I just figured if that was what God wanted, then that's what I'd do. No wonder my spiritual progress during that time was a surprise to me, a welcome one to be sure but still not something I'd expected or worked to get.
And that's what makes each conversion story both different and the same, in some sense. This one is definitely worth reading. Ultimately it focused me on thinking about Jesus' own interactions in my own life, in a different way than I'd been doing lately. And that's a good thing. For me anyway.
NOTE ABOUT THE INTRODUCTION: For some reason the introduction has a lot of details about how the author's life and family have turned out after his conversion. This was rather off-putting and left me in a distinct mood of not being interested in reading the actual book. Obviously, this was overcome with the first chapter, but there's no reason to put yourself through that. Skip the intro and read it after the rest of the book.
REVIEW COPY PROVIDED FREE The review copy was provided by the Patheos Book Club. Publishers pay for Patheos to feature their books.My review is my own based solely on the book's merits.(less)
I enjoyed Drout's science fiction series and am really looking forward to listening to this. I know Drout's got a thing for Tolkien. Me too. Anything...moreI enjoyed Drout's science fiction series and am really looking forward to listening to this. I know Drout's got a thing for Tolkien. Me too. Anything else is gravy. It's over 7 hours long, so there's probably lots of gravy.(less)
I read all these in different editions, many when they first came out long ago. They prove just as entertaining now as they did then, and in many case...moreI read all these in different editions, many when they first came out long ago. They prove just as entertaining now as they did then, and in many cases I don't remember the stories well, which is a bonus. There is no one for sniffing out wickedness in basic human behavior like a spinster lady who has lived in a little village, as gentle Miss Marple continually must remind those around her.(less)
I am a fan of Father James Martin's books, especially A Jesuit Off-Broadway. When Scott chose this book for our next religious book discussion at A Go...moreI am a fan of Father James Martin's books, especially A Jesuit Off-Broadway. When Scott chose this book for our next religious book discussion at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast, I was excited, having been interested since I first saw it mentioned at Amazon.
This is a much thicker and more substantive book than I expected. The bibliography alone makes one step back and realize there is more hard-core scholarship than in any of his previous books. Yet it is written in Father Martin's trademark style, interspersing personal experience with the main book text. It is accessible and interesting. It isn't dumbed down and isn't too scholarly. It's juuuuust right.
Martin's goal is to help us consider our answer to Christ's question to his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?"
This means we must consider what it means to be "fully human and fully divine." Martin does a very good job of presenting a lot of contextual information for understanding Jesus' life and ministry through this lens. As we travel through the gospels, so to speak, he intertwines the various stops (recruiting the disciples, healing demoniacs, etc.) with his own pilgrimage to Israel. He then stops to place everything in the context of our own lives and is extremely generous in sharing his own life changing experiences, whether flattering or not. I especially appreciate Martin's openness in sharing the spiritual experiences he had, most notably that in the Church of the Resurrection.
I especially appreciate the way that Father Martin approaches questions from all angles. For example, when considering Christ's healings of "demoniacs," Martin isn't afraid to discuss the idea of psychological or physiological illness as a cause. This will be welcome to those who like to get down to examining facts. However, he always does this in a thoughtful, thorough, Christian way that leaves no doubt we are reading about the Messiah and that miracles can (and do) happen.
Each chapter ends with Martin's deeper thoughts on how our own lives can be enriched with the aid of what Christ has shown us about this part of his life. This is where the rubber meets the road for most of us and Martin brings great sensitivity and understanding to these pages. In fact, I was enduring great inner turmoil about something when I read Martin's thoughts of what it means to take up your cross daily. The whole section spoke to me strongly, but nothing more than "wait for the resurrection" which I sorely needed to hear that very day.
This is the sort of book that used to be much more common. To Know Christ Jesus by Francis Sheed and Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen are just a couple of the older books I've read like this. We have been sorely in need of a new one and I'm so pleased that James Martin wrote this book which is truly a treasure for reading and rereading. I'm beginning to feel that this book might be a "must have" for Christians who want a more rounded, personal experience of Christ. Or for those who don't understand the "Christian thing" and would like some general context of their own.
I also have a feeling that a lot of readers are going to come away wanting to visit the Holy Land. Not me, but I appreciate Father Martin's descriptions as it helps me "feel" the place a bit better. And, to be fair, I've never especially felt the need to go to Rome or anywhere else on pilgrimage, for that matter.
However, what it did was help me feel a deeper familiarity, connection, friendship dare I say, with Jesus when I encounter Him in the gospels. It made me think of Father Martin's story about his spiritual director showing him a green tree and reminding him it would be red in autumn, without anyone ever seeing the gradual change. That's what happened to me. A step closer. All to the credit of this book, which is doing it without "wows" or "aha" moments. Truly that is a credit to this work.
NOTE I also received the audiobook for review. I was eagerly anticipating this but was surprised to find that Father Martin's reading was extremely plain and without nuance or subtlety. In a sense, it was like a father reading to his children who is unused to reading aloud. I'm used to authors reading their work who are extremely good at it, such as Father Robert Barron or Neil Gaiman (yes, I know that is an unusual pair to put together but both are excellent at reading aloud).
That said, once I adjusted to Martin's style, or lack thereof, it actually worked fine for this book. In a sense, it took out any of his own personality and allowed the text to speak for itself. Which is actually just as it should be for a book like this. With that in mind, I can recommend the audiobook.(less)
I already know that Jo Walton's style is warm and personal, and as opinionated as you'd expect from a passionate book lover. Waiting for the library t...moreI already know that Jo Walton's style is warm and personal, and as opinionated as you'd expect from a passionate book lover. Waiting for the library to get this book to me, I would occasionally look at the table of contents on the Kindle sample and read the original blog post on Tor.com. It just made me want this book all the more.
This is a book to read with pen and paper at hand as your "to read" list grows and grows.
What is most interesting about this book so far is just how often I agree with Walton and how often she drives me crazy because she's so wrong, and how, sometimes, she surprises me. All of it makes me think a bit more about the subjects of her essays.
For example she drop kicks Dickens to the curb in one devastating sentence and then goes on to wish that George Eliot had written science fiction because she'd have enjoyed seeing Middlemarch opened up to the broader possibilities that genre offers. Walton seems to be ignoring the fact that George Eliot's own life was just as improbably extravagant as one that Dickens would have written and that Eliot's examination of marriage within the narrow confines of Middlemarch was deliberately chosen because of that life and the consequences thereof. Eliot might very well have written precisely the same book anyway if SF had already been invented. I'd never have considered any of that if I hadn't been so outraged by Walton's summary dismissal of Dickens. As a fellow Dickens-appreciator said, "What books was she reading?"
All of which is to say that I am just as opinionated a reader as Walton and, even if one disagrees with her opinions, her essays provide a lot of food for thought.
This is someone I'd love to have a beer with and argue with about Dickens while discussing what order to read series books in.
NOTE - TO THE EDITORS: 15 essays about Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series? Really? 18 essays about Steven Brust's whatever-it-is series? Yawn. If you can't make me care in two or three essays, then have pity on the rest of us whose eyes are glazing over.
And I'm a bit outraged over the wasted pages for anyone who's not already a rabid fan of these two series. What about the rest of us? Luckily these are often not more than two or three pages each. But two or three times 15 is a lot of pages that could've been about something else. Georgette Heyer, for example. Yeah, she's not SFF. But it also wouldn't be about Miles and Cordelia, so it would've had that going for it.(less)
Another research book ... marking it read because I'll be dipping in and out.
Actually, this book has turned into my "go to" bedtime reading, especial...moreAnother research book ... marking it read because I'll be dipping in and out.
Actually, this book has turned into my "go to" bedtime reading, especially when my fiction reading is so exciting that it will give me unsettled dreams. This look at daily life in ancient times is both soothing and fascinating. The author has a way of connecting the dots and comparing those times to our life today (or in 1958 when it was written) which helps one see that those people were not so very different from us ... even if the technical things of life were very different.(less)
Since this is research book the "read" designation just means that I've been dipping in and getting what I need. However, it is surprisingly readable...moreSince this is research book the "read" designation just means that I've been dipping in and getting what I need. However, it is surprisingly readable and I've found myself reading bits aloud to my husband and also getting pulled into the book just from sheer interest.(less)
This was my selection for Book Bingo "a best selling book" after I combed the NY Times Bestseller List three times. Just my luck that recent branching...moreThis was my selection for Book Bingo "a best selling book" after I combed the NY Times Bestseller List three times. Just my luck that recent branching out had caused me to knock off three book from that famous list without even knowing I was doing it until this Bingo challenge led me to bother to glance over it.
This showed up from the library yesterday and, as with most books that are photos with a smattering of text, I polished it off in a couple of hours. They were very enjoyable hours, during which I often pestered my husband to look. As a result he had me put it in his "to read" stack when I was done.
Brandon Stanton, in his attempt to become a photographer, discovered a love of photographing people where he came across them in his rambles around New York City. He wanted to create a photographic census but wound up with an engaging blog which has since been turned into this book.
I'd never heard of the blog before and was grateful to my Book Bingo challenge for introducing me to Brandon Stanton's work. While I was waiting for the book to arrive, I began reading the blog.
I'd say that the book's greatest failing is that the quotes and anecdotes he gathers from each subject are not always included in the book. Also the all caps typesetting can be difficult to read for long anecdotes. The tendency, when thinking of those who live in New York is to focus on the quirky, of which this book shows a multitude. Therefore, I found myself enjoying most the photos of less flamboyant subjects which were found more among the young, the old, those at Lincoln Center, and dogwalkers. Obviously these are broad categories, but those were the images I liked best.
My favorite: the spread of the man walking the three French Bulldogs who has met up with the Asian man whose little boy is on a leash. The tender smile on the dogwalker's face as he looks at the little boy made me come back again and again.
This is a highly enjoyable book and I hope it allows Brandon Stanton enough income to continue his blog and photography. I like to see dreams come true.(less)