I first listened to this story and it passed right through me leaving not a trace. There is something about works that are more on the language and im...moreI first listened to this story and it passed right through me leaving not a trace. There is something about works that are more on the language and image side of things, without an emphasis on plot or characters, that just doesn't seem to work for me in audio.
Luckily, I also dropped this into a epub file I made of freely available Hugo award nominations and then, because it was so short and I'm so lazy, actually read it on the electronic page. That made all the difference for me. The repetition of the 'if's became distinct and playful. I caught the sadness that underlined the cartoonish joy of 'If you were a dinosaur, my love' before the touching reveal at the end of this very short-short story.
The story does verge towards a writing exercise, but Swirsky is so skilled she elevates it above that.
Me missing the story in audio makes me wonder about myself. I have trouble with hushed vocals and dramatic readings. They get my back up, like the audio is trying to force me to feel a certain way, rather than letting the text earn my response. Or perhaps the ifs just lulled me to sleep. I'm so glad I woke up!
I really enjoyed the first section and don't know if the rest of story lived up to that for me. That or I wanted the story to go one way and it went a...moreI really enjoyed the first section and don't know if the rest of story lived up to that for me. That or I wanted the story to go one way and it went another.(less)
Enjoyed some of the shorter poems of the first half where I could hear the voice of the poet. The second section, the Edvard Munch Poems, I read all i...moreEnjoyed some of the shorter poems of the first half where I could hear the voice of the poet. The second section, the Edvard Munch Poems, I read all in one go. They did a fine job of pulling me into the world of the painter and his art.(less)
I liked, if not loved this. Actually, I wanted to like it more but didn't. For some reason I always expected it to go darker and probably wish it had....moreI liked, if not loved this. Actually, I wanted to like it more but didn't. For some reason I always expected it to go darker and probably wish it had. The book had spark, but not enough spark. There are kisses at the end, though, that I loved. Will probably try another helping later to see if it improves or goes down.(less)
So what the hell does Atticus do in this book? Seriously, I'm coming back to my notes after letting them sit for a couple of weeks and there is very l...moreSo what the hell does Atticus do in this book? Seriously, I'm coming back to my notes after letting them sit for a couple of weeks and there is very little about the Iron Druid himself. More distressing is the lack of juicy meaty bits about Oberon, the true star of these very, very silly, but entertaining books. Anyways onto the two other characters who actually make up this book. (I've long ago abandoned the idea that much ever happens in these books, these books exist to make more little baby books and so on...)
Granuelle sure seemed to cry a lot in this one. I know she didn't, but because I didn't feel moved at all it was the part of the story that stuck out to me. Hearne's first person style leaves him vulnerable to having characters tell readers that they are sad and miserable, rather than showing someone grieving over the death of a loved one and allowing the reader to feel that pain. That Granuelle comes across as a blubbering wimp has much more to do with how Hearne, who's never written Granuelle's voice very convincingly, insists and on telling us that Granuelle is devastated rather than showing. I simply didn't care when Granuelle kept balling like a maudlin drama queen.
Also, when the loved ones death happens, I didn't particularly remember Granuelle's history with that person. I kept thinking - had we been introduced to this person in the past books? Had we gotten to see them walking around and interacting with Granuelle? AFTER the death, Hearne begins to back-fill details and it did jog my memory somewhat, but by then it was too late and any chance for me to feel something had gone. This isn't supposed to be deep literature, but I felt far too detached for what the book was asking me to feel.
Hearne does much better with the new male view point of Owen, Atticus' arch-druid who has been frozen in time for 2,000+ years. Even with the handicap of not being able to give him the geek references of a writer in his late 40s - though I'm sure they will come, Granuelle has picked them all up, Owen came through as a different voice to Atticus' new age liberal dude persona. Though the thing I liked most about Owen - that he thought Atticus was a complete fucking idiot - seems to have been reversed by the end of the story in a Halmark moment that seems to be completely out of character for the gruff bastard. The novel is sadly too in love with Atticus to allow for a dissenting voice.
Ah, I remember now!
Indeed, the whole source of conflict in this book is Atticus' wanton butchery of a certain race of folk. Gee, he says with a boyish grin, I can see why the person who is pissed is pissed, but can't we just talk this over and get past it?
Only in a narrative where the author is so much in love with his creation could he get away with saying this! It makes for a very odd read. It's like Atticus has carte blanche in this world, as if he is starring in a series that is named after him and he can never actually be an evil fuck, even if he sort of is. Oh, damn, forgot to read the subtitle again.
But the most insidious thing about these books is that I will read the next one. Hearne has that insanely catchy 'it'. The books aren't good, per se, but they are goddamned readable, or listenable in my case. I think I might actually be learning more about writing from what I see as his mistakes because while they are terrible mistakes, they are still readable! In the end Hearne wins because I can't stop coming back for more.
p.s.: Not only am I not convinced Hearne can write a convincing female human, I'm unimpressed with his female dog so far as well. Hopefully both Granuelle and her puppy will get more interesting in the next installment. (less)
The last titular section was the best and where I did laugh out loud. It started off slightly off but picked up steam. I love being in this world and...moreThe last titular section was the best and where I did laugh out loud. It started off slightly off but picked up steam. I love being in this world and getting more of these characters.(less)
Gaa! I can explain. Or I think I can explain. I've loved VanderMeer's work in the past, but this series/cycle/gesture is driving me crazy and leaving...moreGaa! I can explain. Or I think I can explain. I've loved VanderMeer's work in the past, but this series/cycle/gesture is driving me crazy and leaving me unengaged, or was until I had reach the 93% point in this book, at which point the 'revelation' suddenly draws this parallel between the main character's relationship with his mother and another character. At that point it suddenly caught me. I even started caring about the biologist who was the center of Annilation. But really the book was almost over! How could I tell anyone else to read a book that I had to slog through to that point? VanderMeer is an amazing writer - one that I'm not fit to lick the boots of - yet, in my own poor confused, grunty way I was mostly unmoved, and I read to be moved. A miss, and yet now I want to read the next book. Be warned, this is not the place to start VanderMeer, I don't believe it is him at his best. At the very least, from this reader of limited skills, the Southern Reach is not the place to start.(less)
I'd heard that this was the tailing off point for the series but was to happy to find for myself that I really enjoyed getting back into the sheer boo...moreI'd heard that this was the tailing off point for the series but was to happy to find for myself that I really enjoyed getting back into the sheer bookish joy of epic fantasy world building.
I'd had trouble with the last book because while I had read the first two volumes well before the HBO series (and then taken a break vowing not to read any more until GRR got the series done, but then broke that vow when the series began to over-take how far I had read), I found that the pacey plot-driven writing of the drama had messed up my enjoyment of the books. The first half of 'Storm of Swords' felt plodding and pointless to me because I'd already seen it masterfully compressed and re-jiggered for television. BUT once I got past last season the books came back to life for me.
Amazingly, or maybe not so amazingly, I've only mostly kept ahead of HBO by finishing this book. GRR better watch out they are eating his books up at an amazing pace. But this isn't a review of the dramatization, just a comment that the books bring a different pleasure that of world building. I love love Martin's penchant for suddenly diving into different worlds. I find the Iron Born hilarious - in the audio version they have Irish accents and parts play like dilapidated country house black comedy. Love the Dornish infighting. The parts that give glimpses into the court of the Targareons through the eyes of 100+ Maester Aemon gives the world that sense of age that is great in a fantasy setting.
Yes it is a feudal soap-opera, but it is bloody and grim and endlessly entertaining. And the best thing seems to be that the HBO folk are diverging more and more from the books so I can be surprised and outraged all over again. Hurrah.
*** I was yelling: "Oh shiiiiit! Oh shittttt!" when a certain lady shows up. ***(less)
I was the perfect age when the original trilogy came out and it is a shame that something like this didn't follow after. I'm glad I finally listened t...moreI was the perfect age when the original trilogy came out and it is a shame that something like this didn't follow after. I'm glad I finally listened to this trio of books on audio (even though some of the background squalls were annoying) before the new Star Wars movies from Disney come out. While I was entertained and thought Thrawn was a terrific villain I can see now that Star Wars is never going to be anything but the original series for me. That has nothing to do with the quality of the product - this was a wonderful series, but I'm not that kid in his pajamas watching Star Wars for the first time at a drive in theater. That particular experience can't and needn't be duplicated. I enjoyed it and thanks to Mr. Zahn for doing a good echo of the Star Wars magic.(less)
Enjoyed it, especially more towards the end, but seemed very long for this slow reader. Funnily enough it reminded me of C.J. Cherryh's 'Downbelow Sta...moreEnjoyed it, especially more towards the end, but seemed very long for this slow reader. Funnily enough it reminded me of C.J. Cherryh's 'Downbelow Station' which also took a very, very long time to get going, but the characters were much more vivid in her story. At least this book didn't have cutesie aliens! And as with Cherryh I don't know if I will continue on. Series are great, unless they are mediocre and then they seem a waste of time.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is a really well constructed military thriller, but has enough elements that stop me from whole-heartedly loving it. (Though fo...more**spoiler alert** This is a really well constructed military thriller, but has enough elements that stop me from whole-heartedly loving it. (Though for me a three star review means it is a very solid book.)In a way it reminds me of English adventure novels from the 19th century. Really great, but with evil foreigners. At least with the old adventure books you can look at the nightmare creatures created out of the author's imagination with a bit of distance.
Patient Zero's main villains - not the big pharma dude - is the very contemporary monster - are Islamic fundamentalists. Now of course there are really people out there with mass destruction on their minds, 9-11 brought that home even for a clueless Canadian like me. But despite that this book was really soured by the INSANE characters of the 'warrior' and 'princess'. In some ways I wish they had stuck to the much smarter original plan, rather than ramping it up to DESTROYING THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!!
That said, none of the characters are particularly complex (not really a problem in a fast paced thriller like this, but the evil Islamic dudes were noticeably flat - but that probably goes to the heart of the conception of the story. Like I said, not my cup o' tea.
While the novel wants to honour people who are in the protecting democracy business I felt it just got too saccharine at the end. Jingoistic? Or even cliche about the dying agent who just wants to know if his charge is okay or if they got the bad guy. Heard these lines too many times in cheap action flicks for it to make an impact.
A lot of minus points for the main female character whose name is Grace, because... her purpose is to give the male protagonist grace.
But that said, it was a well put together story. Did like how it bounced back between Ledger and Gault (who became so weak during the last fourth of the novel, which bugged me). See now I'm picking it all apart! I'll stop now.(less)
While I did think the 'villain' of the piece was on the weak side (at the conceptual level), I love Tiffany and the Wee Free men. Criv...moreMore a 3.5 book.
While I did think the 'villain' of the piece was on the weak side (at the conceptual level), I love Tiffany and the Wee Free men. Crivens! Probably also helped by having a lot of space between this and the Tiffany books that came before it. All that said, I enjoyed this book more than many of the recent Pratchett books (up to not including "Raising Steam" and ignoring collaborations.)(less)
Like nearly all adventure/action stories the success depends largely on the villian. Thrawn - I assume an original creation by Zahn (rhymes!) -- is a...moreLike nearly all adventure/action stories the success depends largely on the villian. Thrawn - I assume an original creation by Zahn (rhymes!) -- is a great, smart, cool headed villian. An answer to the mad cackling idiots who couldn't scheme their way out of a paper bag. He is billed as a tactical genius and while there are some leaps of logic, I'm more than willing to go along with it. Will listen to the next one soon.
A fun story and a good audio production - even if I'm not a fan of all the sound effects in the background.(less)
This was a really good way for me to read the Book of Genesis. (That is an atheistic guy who is/has been into 'underground comics', an R. Crumb fan, a...moreThis was a really good way for me to read the Book of Genesis. (That is an atheistic guy who is/has been into 'underground comics', an R. Crumb fan, and who's knowledge of religion comes from the underpinnings of many, many novels, some plays, a few poems and not from actually like being exposed to a church or the guys who run them).
Which isn't to say that there aren't religious people out there who wouldn't also appreciate this book, I'm just saying that my glowing review of this book comes from the above perspective, which might be more useful to know that my always muddled reflections on why something worked for me.
Crumb creates a multitude of faces which does wonders for the number of lists of the begotten in this story. It was all about the seed and how this god dude was promising that his chosen ones would get to spread it all over the world and into their many wives. (God, who I figure is a puffed up portrait of Crumb - comparing the depiction of God to his self-portrait at the back of the book.) But while the text just blurs with all those names Crumb gives particular faces to each name - and faces that seem to fit the very particular part of the world they lived in. He talks in his notes about his early false starts over the clothes he used. That he needed to do a lot of research. And for all I know there are still many mistakes, but it did give me - at a glance - a context and grounding in this particular tribal world which made the text come alive for me.
When I first heard that Crumb was illustrating the bible, I thought, oh yeah, the wild sexual guy has gotten all religious and conservative in his old age. This is going to be a minor, odd, tailing off a great artist. Instead I want more of the bible done by Crumb. Think of Job done by him! This is an artist still at the height of his powers, marrying his particular genius to one of the great mythopoetic works of our civilization.(less)