I accidentally deleted this book, and hence the review, from my "read" books. Aaargh!
Let it suffice to say that this is a work of inspirational genius...moreI accidentally deleted this book, and hence the review, from my "read" books. Aaargh!
Let it suffice to say that this is a work of inspirational genius, especially since it was carefully communicated the first time round as a series of teaching homilies by Pope Benedict XVI.
Beginning with ancient civilizations concurrent with Old Testament events, we look at how people have prayed throughout time. It is then brought closer and closer to our own time and to prayer as expressed by and through Jesus Christ. This is not only a superb series of easy-to-digest lessons, it is inspirational and mind opening.
The 2012 musical starring Hugh Jackman left me interested in the book. However, it's taken this long to get around to cracking it open.
I've been inter...moreThe 2012 musical starring Hugh Jackman left me interested in the book. However, it's taken this long to get around to cracking it open.
I've been interested by the comments of aficionados who love all the extra passages and those who say they are simply unnecessary clutter. I'll see for myself, though considering my fondness for Dickens and Tolkien, I have a feeling I'll be plumping down enjoying the additional description and commentary. We shall see.
It is early days yet, with me simply enjoying Hugo's description of the bishop, who is truly a lovable and admirable figure. I'm actually happy I've seen the musical twice since that gives me a feeling for the bare bones of the story and so I can relax and just take in the sights on the way through it.(less)
What would you do if you had discovered that the planet was about to be engulfed in a belt of poisonous "ether" from outer space? Professor Challenger invites a hand-picked crew of adventurers and scientists to his home outside London.
I like Sherlock Holmes but I am much fonder of Arthur Conan Doyle's other fiction. He was a skilled teller of "weird tales" and I have heard he was proudest of his historical fiction which I really enjoy. The Poison Belt is the second in a series of fantasy and science fiction novels featuring the brilliant and overpowering Professor Challenger. It functions very well as a stand alone novel.
Having assembled a newsman, big game huntsman, and another scientist to explore South America in their first adventure, The Lost World, it is only logical that Challenger would call upon the same group for this scientific emergency. Professor Challenger puzzles them when he asks each to bring along a cylinder of oxygen. They are well acquainted with Challenger's eccentricities but little do they suspect that he anticipates an apocalyptic event.
I'd say more but I think reading the whole description would have ruined my astonishment and interest in the story as it unfolded in this superb audiobook. In fact, having grabbed this review book solely based on my enjoyment of The Lost World, I hadn't read the description at all. I was stunned to find this was such an apocalyptic novel. It is really well written and thought through. I was frequently surprised as various events occurred because I simply hadn't thought through the consequences of an apocalypse in 1913 England.
Part of the enjoyment of The Poison Belt comes from the adventurers' interactions. Doyle is very good at inserting humor, often through the two scientists' bickering over conclusions, and at other times in hunter Lord John's casual comments as in this instance when Challenger has asked the group to look at an amoeba through a microscope.
Lord John was prepared to take him on trust.
"I'm not troublin' my head whether he's alive or dead," said he. "We don't so much as know each other by sight, so why should I take it to heart? I don't suppose he's worryin' himself over the state of OUR health."
I laughed at this, and Challenger looked in my direction with his coldest and most supercilious stare. It was a most petrifying experience.
"The flippancy of the half-educated is more obstructive to science than the obtuseness of the ignorant," said he. "If Lord John Roxton would condescend----"
"My dear George, don't be so peppery," said his wife, with her hand on the black mane that drooped over the microscope. "What can it matter whether the amoeba is alive or not?"
"It matters a great deal," said Challenger gruffly.
"Well, let's hear about it," said Lord John with a good-humoured smile. "We may as well talk about that as anything else. If you think I've been too off-hand with the thing, or hurt its feelin's in any way, I'll apologize."
Part of the humor comes across thanks to the excellent narration by actor Gildart Jackson. As is often the case with actors, his reading is rife with expressive accents, subtle nuances, and changes of pace. This isn't a very long book and goes along at a rattling pace. I was hooked from the beginning.
I don't know when I've enjoyed an audiobook more and I hope that Dreamscape is considering more of Arthur Conan Doyle's fiction for the future.(less)
Having just relished Ruth Golding's LibriVox reading of The Cricket on the Hearth, I'm not ready to stop. So I found her narration of another of Dicke...moreHaving just relished Ruth Golding's LibriVox reading of The Cricket on the Hearth, I'm not ready to stop. So I found her narration of another of Dickens' Christmas stories, The Chimes.
I'm at the beginning but have felt quite frozen on Trotty's behalf and now am quite indignant on his behalf, while being worried about his last bit of dinner at the end of the fork the Alderman is academically waving about. So, yes, Dickens grabbed me from the beginning. As usual.(less)
All the other Diana Wynne Jones books I've read until now were the favorites of a pal who did me the great service of lending them so I could get hook...moreAll the other Diana Wynne Jones books I've read until now were the favorites of a pal who did me the great service of lending them so I could get hooked. This one looked interesting but it has taken me a while to get into the story. About halfway through I am finally warmed up to it and love some of the concepts ... such as the kids who live in Time City but are fascinated by what it is like "in history" when they're quizzing the heroine about WWII and 1938 London.
FINAL I finished it but it wasn't an easy read. This was a helluva convoluted plot and there were a lot of details about time changing and Time City and suchlike that I think could have been made a bit clearer. Nonetheless it was entertaining enough that I finished it up. If I feel moved to reread it I might get more out of it.(less)
This is the next book for my Forgotten Classics podcast, thanks to long-time listener (and friend) Sarah Reinhard's request. I've been struggling gett...moreThis is the next book for my Forgotten Classics podcast, thanks to long-time listener (and friend) Sarah Reinhard's request. I've been struggling getting the LibriVox file incorporated with my own but it will be worth the effort to allow you to hear Ruth Golding's fantastic reading of this Christmas classic.
I had to finish this ahead of podcasting the episodes at Forgotten Classics so that I could comment on them at the end. In the end, this wasn't a master work but it was quite enjoyable although more sugary and sentimental than I expected. Ruth Golding's superb narration raises this far above any detriment from the sweetness of the story.(less)
Having just finished and enjoyed the first book in Larry Correia's other series (Hard Magic), I thought I'd see how he did with a concept that seems s...moreHaving just finished and enjoyed the first book in Larry Correia's other series (Hard Magic), I thought I'd see how he did with a concept that seems similar to the Joe Ledger novels by Jonathan Maberry. Again, these were books I thought of as copycats until Jeff Miller said he enjoyed them. I had an Audible credit so let's see how this one goes.
“You know that ‘no weapons at work’ policy?” I asked the twitching and growing hairy monstrosity standing less than ten feet from me. His yellow eyes bored into me with raw animal hatred. There was nothing recognizably human in that look.
“I never did like that rule,” I said as I bent down and drew my gun from my ankle holster, put the front sight on the target and rapidly fired all five shots from my snub-nosed .357 Smith & Wesson into Mr. Huffman’s body. God bless Texas.
Hey, we all knew that boss was turning werewolf. Right?
Larry Correia's description says that he's hopelessly addicted to guns and B-horror movies. This book is a testimony to those addictions.
UPDATE 2 So, from the pacing and misuse of a few words, I feel as if this shows its "first novel" background although I am willing to be patient with it, given my enjoyment of Correia's Hard Magic. I'm just sayin' it ain't no Joe Ledger novel (which to be fair was not Jonathan Maberry's first novel either). Still enjoyable enough but with those caveats.
And what's up with the editor not catching those words? C'mon, give the author a hand.
UPDATE 3 At this point I would like to remind the author that the title of this book is Monster HUNTERS International not Monster FIGHTERS International. These blow-by-blow fight scenes change venues but just go on forever. In audio this is the worst. The. Worst.
Also, the protagonist's emotional development seems to be that of a 13-year-old boy. And about 1" deep. I am tired of him.
However, I DO like the old man who appears in dreams (and elsewhere) and the basic storyline which is interesting in the small intervals left between endless monster fights.
This book began at 4 stars and has gradually worked its way down to 2 stars. I am going to keep on, by dint of skipping over future fight scenes and assuming that I'm not really missing much of the plot. However, it is quite clear that this is no Harry Dresden or Joe Ledger novel. Both those authors bring much more to the penny-dreadful than Correia does in this particular book.
FINAL Just can't make myself care enough to pick up the earbuds again. Probably I should have been reading this in print so skimming the interminable fight scenes would have been easier. I'll pick up the second book for Correia's other series and go on with that since it was much better than this.(less)
This is the Jesus of Nazareth book I longed for ever since Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) mentioned it in the forward to his first Jesus of Nazareth book....moreThis is the Jesus of Nazareth book I longed for ever since Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) mentioned it in the forward to his first Jesus of Nazareth book. Though slight, it is powerful. It is a quick read but one that will leave you with much food for reflection on the Incarnation, God's wide sweeping plan, the presence of the Cross from the beginning, and the infinite Love that takes such drastic steps to help us feel even a fraction of that love ourselves.
Simply superb and highly recommended. If you've been nervous of the other Jesus of Nazareth books, and they can be quite dense in places, this is the place to begin.(less)
I have listened to only one lesson but already am enjoying this a great deal. Ken Albala's style is enthusiastic and informed. The information seems t...moreI have listened to only one lesson but already am enjoying this a great deal. Ken Albala's style is enthusiastic and informed. The information seems to cover food as a whole, including utensils and technology, human development since prehistoric times, discoveries of food and what they meant to society and civilizations ... all of which is fascinating.(less)
The library had the audio for this and recalling how audio has helped me through other books which left me cold in print (Jonathan Strange & Mr. N...moreThe library had the audio for this and recalling how audio has helped me through other books which left me cold in print (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, for example) ... and also knowing how many people have urged me to read this trilogy ... I am attempting it for the third time.
All this is to say that I am 36 minutes in and for a second I almost forgot what I was listening to, because I felt as if C.S. Lewis were telling me about John Carter of Mars (another book I've never been able to get very far with). I've gotten far enough in that (many times) to know about the travel to a different planet disorientation.
That's further than I've ever gotten before, so onward and upward!(less)
Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eye — and an ex-con. He’s free because he has a magical talent and the Feds need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical abilities. ... Jake found out that not only have the Feds been lying to him, but there was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users. Worse still, he had attracted the attention of one side’s ruthless leaders — who were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live.
This looked like something of a Harry Dresden copycat and I'm also rather tired of novels that insert magic into our world to create an alternate history. Then Jeff Miller gave it five stars and I had to rethink my position. My Audible monthly credit became available and I saw Bronson Pinchot narrates it ... and I was lost. No one narrates like he does.
All descriptions I've seen don't describe my favorite character, Faye, a teenage Okie whose irregular upbringing combines a good Catholic upbringing with puckish unpredictability. The Catholic element is quite light but Faye's story is equal in interest and weight to Jake's.
I was fascinated by the book's complexity, especially as compared to the first Harry Dresden or Joe Ledger novels. This one doesn't spoon feed you but gets the story rolling while providing information for you to pick up on the interesting magical attributes which some people have, how they can be used, and how this affects the struggle between good and evil. The story also examines the origins of the magic which suddenly began appearing in people in the late 1800s. This provides an unexpected story layer which I found interesting and welcome. Certainly it is a part of what made me interested in the trilogy beyond the first book.
In the midst of the action-packed finale, I suddenly saw all the pieces fit into place, just as the author intended. I was also interested to have some of the characters gain a depth I didn't expect which switched my perspective, all in aid of the puzzle pieces fitting neatly. That was nicely done by author Larry Correia.
Hard Magic is more of a guilty pleasure than anything else but it is a roller coaster ride I'm happy I took.
I'm about as smart as Jake Sullivan but, like everyone else, not nearly as clever as Faye (who is a character to fall in love with, especially as narrated here). I can see I'm going to have to read the next book in the series. Dammit. Because I didn't want another trilogy to invest my time in. But I'll be spending an Audible credit on the next book.
Note: I'd have given it another star but the long battle in the middle of the book really slowed things down and made my interest sag.(less)
Although I have enjoyed many of the movies made from Roald Dahl's books (most notably James and the Giant Peach) I cannot recall reading any of his bo...moreAlthough I have enjoyed many of the movies made from Roald Dahl's books (most notably James and the Giant Peach) I cannot recall reading any of his books except Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was ... fine but not world changing for me. That's kind of odd too, when I think about it, because I was the right age to be the prime audience when a lot of his books were coming out but I was largely oblivious to them. (Yep. Dated myself. Don't care.)
However, as I have learned in the past, audio often breaks open a book or author who I didn't find congenial in print. It was that way with Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It was that way with the last half of The Lord of the Rings (yes, I am ashamed but I will not lie). And, now, it is that way with Roald Dahl.
The Twits are the most horrible couple in the world and quite hateful to each other, until they are under attack from a common enemy. Even then they are horrible which makes it quite gratifying to see them get their comeuppance from the Muggle-Wump monkey family and the Roly Poly bird. This story had the most disgusting description of a beard I have ever encountered. Even while I was grimacing, I was also laughing because Dahl had such a clever way with words. Narrator Richard Ayoade had a lovely, calm British narration style that didn't preclude hilarious, low-class voices for the Twits. First class stuff.
The Minpins has the most perfect monster name I've ever heard -- The Gruncher, a fire-breathing, boy eating creature in Sin Forest. It sends Billy right up a tree where he meets the Minpins and they form an ingenious alliance to deal with their common foe. Bill Bailey narrated this with a great deal of gusto which didn't detract in the least from the story.
The Magic Finger was my favorite story, partially because Kate Winslet's narration won me over from the very beginning. I also just couldn't resist the little girl who "puts my Magic Finger" on those who displease her. The Greggs are worthy of a magic finger punishment because they are such keen hunters. What the Magic Finger does is typical Dahl ingenuity at its best.
All three of these are little stories but each is a gem which children would love. Heck, I liked them quite a bit myself and, as I have revealed, I am far past the age of tender youth. I am now going to look for more Roald Dahl in audio, possibly even revisiting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I have been leisurely perusing this book on Sunday mornings when we get up and sit on the back porch with our coffee and the dogs running crazily afte...moreI have been leisurely perusing this book on Sunday mornings when we get up and sit on the back porch with our coffee and the dogs running crazily after squirrels and mockingbirds. (Those of you with little ones, this time will come again for you, do not despair.)
This was a Christmas gift from my husband who knows of my fondness for looking at art on those Sunday mornings. Obviously, I haven't been always examining it on the back porch or even on every Sunday. Do not judge it by my leisurely pace. I'd find it hard to believe that you could find a better book about Hiroshige's famous series of woodblock prints.
The way the shadows are elongated and distorted gives the impression we are really seeing moonlit playgoers in the puppet district
Author Melanie Trede first puts Hiroshige in context by explaining that these types of series were common as travel guides. You'd get the latest series and admire the artistry while planning your next trip. Her explanations of the influences traded between Western and Japanese art, the constraints of the woodblock printing process, the Japanese government's censorship and other such information put me not only in the mood to better appreciate each piece, but put me mentally in that time and place. I especially loved little details such as the fact that a crane's feathers would be colorless but have a 3-D texture applied by the printer using his elbow to push the paper into hollowed out areas.
Think how this crane would have seemed to soar into your room with those feathers lifting from the paper
All of this combines to make one appreciate what an artist's eye Hiroshige had, and his printer too for that matter. Impossible points of view, interesting framing, an insistence on showing the lowly facts of life as well as the noble things ... these keep the prints continually fresh and interesting.
Horse dung. A fact of life but very controversial for a piece of art. I myself loved seeing the straw horseshoes
The book itself is also lovely, bound like a Japanese book, in a case with bamboo-like clasps. This setting prepares one for the treasury of art contained within. Just as Hiroshige would have wanted, one suspects. (less)
I think about the motley chaotic confusing house that is Catholicism. I think about the mad wondrous prayer of the Mass. I thing about how htere are such stunning and wonderful and confusing people in the clan of Catholic. I think about how we are all several kinds of people at once and hardly know ourselves let alone anybody else. I think about how possible the Church is, and how possible we are. I think about how really the Church is lots and lots of us mulish miracles gathered for little holy meals and story-swaps. I think about how religions are like people, capable of both extraordinary evil and unimaginable grace. I think about how the Church is sort of like the windows above me which catch these timbers of sun and focus them on the human comedy. I think about how I'd be a lot less of a man if I didn't have ways ot wake up to what I can be if I harness mercy and humor and grace and wisdom and attention and prayer and humility and courage and grace.
Which is what all true stories are about. Which is what we are, really, at our best--true stories. And true stories, stories with love and power in them, can save your life and save your soul and bring you, if even for only a flickering instant, face-to-face with the unimaginable creative force that once, a very long time ago, explained itself to Moses as, simply and confusingly, I Am. That force is in you, in every moment, in every story; which you know and I know, and which we hardly ever admit, which we should, so I do, amen.
(the clan of catholic)
Read it once.
This is the essence and theme and a large portion of the style of The Thorny Grace of It by Brian Doyle.
In face, it is so truly the essence of it that I can't describe it better.
Read it a second time, perhaps aloud.
So I will just say that I liked this book very much. Some of the essays are written in a more standard form.
The third person to bless my rosary was a small girl in sage country. She is six years old. Whatever it is that we call the creative force that made us all and can be seen most unadorned in children beams out of this kid with the force of a thousand suns. She put my rosary on top of her head and held it there with her right hand as she put her left hand on my face and said I hope these beads will always have holy in them for when Mister Brian needs it, which is a very good blessing it seems to me.
Some are stream of consciousness.
At least look her in the eye and be gentle. Christ liveth in her, remember? ... Also in the grumpy imam, and in the surly teenager, and in the raving man under the clock at Flinders Street Station, and in the foulmouthed man at the footy, and in the cousin you detest with a deep and abiding detestation and have detested since you were tiny mammals fresh from the wombs of your mothers. When he calls to ask you airily to help him lug that awful vulgar elephantine couch to yet another of his shabby flats, do not roar and use vulgar and vituperative language, even though you have excellent cause to do so and who could blame you? But Christ liveth in him. Speak hard words into your closet and cast them thus into oblivion. Help him with the couch, for the ninth blessed time ...
(how to be good)
Some, like the example we began with way back at the top of this piece, are in-between.
In a way, they were like reading Ray Bradbury who reveled in words, flicked words against each other to talk to us in a new way, drowned in the poetry of them. If Bradbury had written about faith he'd have made me smile, nod, see myself. These hit me that way.
I will say that Doyle is from Portland, Oregon, which tends to imbue its inhabitants with a somewhat different viewpoint than those from my part of the country (Texas by way of the Midwest). The things that divide us are those that he lets roll off his tongue as matter-of-fact. However, those pointers tend to be lightly passed over to get to more important, personal ground. That makes it easy to ignore comments which would usually make me roll my eyes if they were emphasized more. And there are not very many of them. I appreciated that because the overall effect of the essays was to make me think more like the excerpt that started us off on the review.
This book is by a Catholic for imperfect Catholics. Doyle's light hand with divisive elements makes me think wonder if it wouldn't be a good one for Christians of any stripe. These essays make me think of how Pope Francis has so many enthusiastic supporters from outside Catholicism, spreading even into atheist ranks. They draw on the common things we all know about being human from the very good, to the striving, to the times that we fall and must haul ourselves up for another try.
Read it a third time.
Get the book. Keep it by your bed. Pick it up. Read it. Let the words roll over you. And be glad.
NOTE: 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)