This book is for slightly older kids, who are at an age where they can appreciate puns and running gags. This book is funny, both in text and illustraThis book is for slightly older kids, who are at an age where they can appreciate puns and running gags. This book is funny, both in text and illustrations. Miss Lotta Scales, for instance, wears a dragonfly print dress, and has a crabapple on her desk. Check the pictures for more in the "dragon" theme. The confrontation in the story between the librarian and the teachers is a hoot. And the pretext for the heroine of the tale to wander into the library is personally hilarious to this reader, who's been in similar situations as an adult. ...more
Gorgeous, detailed illustrations fill this book, a story told from a child's sense of time. An adult reader will put a more measured perspective overGorgeous, detailed illustrations fill this book, a story told from a child's sense of time. An adult reader will put a more measured perspective over this, but only as a transparency, not to obscure. Whole weeks and months disappear, telescoped into remembered highlights piercing in their vividness and joy. One visit for weeding, with no mention of potato bugs or cabbage worms. Strawberries and pumpkins are not in season at the same time, of course, but for Joe, the harvest is one long undifferentiated feast. With fresh berry juice stains on face and shirt....more
This book reads more like a fever dream than anything else I can think of to describe it. Some of that is the psychological thriller aspect of it as wThis book reads more like a fever dream than anything else I can think of to describe it. Some of that is the psychological thriller aspect of it as written, and some of it is the lost in translation aspect, not from French to English, but from 19th to 21st century. I know little of this thread of European thought, but the story seems to be imagining a fantastic struggle between science and mystery. Darwin had written; Creationism was taking its first blows. How to imagine reality, then? Must beauty disappear in the face of materialism? Are faith and insanity radically linked? These are some of the themes that haunt this story. "Haunt" is a word that comes, I think, from having 21st century eyes, even though those eyes began to see soon after the halfway point of the 20th century. The science fiction in the book is unbelievable now; racism and colonialism abound, and yet the struggle of the times comes through. Worth reading as an historical marker, and inspires me to check out more of George Sand's work....more
**spoiler alert** My rating for this book shifts between a one and a three. The parts deserving of a one are, in my opinion, those to do with the brut**spoiler alert** My rating for this book shifts between a one and a three. The parts deserving of a one are, in my opinion, those to do with the brutal, arrogant colonial attitudes and actions towards the indigenous race(s) on the planet Medusa. Stilties, abos, mob, bastards are the main descriptors of the Medusan aboriginals, with barbaric, shrieking, howling used as well. When the Manticorans set up the NPA (Native Protection Agency), they in essence turn the entire planet into a reservation. Slaughter of thousands of aboriginals is viewed with repugnance by the Manticorans doing the shooting, but with no compassion. The reader doesn't ever see from the Medusans' point of view, or ever even know their word for themselves as a people. The Medusans are obligingly simple and gullible, falling for the Havenites' gifts of mekoha to their own detriment. All this took much of the savour out of the story for me.
The parts deserving of a three, in my opinion, are all the places where wit, training, and nerve pull triumph from defeat. I admire Honor and I think Cardones and Venizelos are excellent characters. One of my favourite sections of the book is Honor and crew figuring out, on deployment to Basilisk Station and being abandoned by Young, how to make Fearless able to do the work of a task force. I will probably read the next volume in the series at some point, as the "three" sections I found solid and fun. If the flaws in the first book are repeated in the second, though, I highly doubt I'll push on....more
This book is a kinetic tumble of genres: alternate history, science fiction, geographical survey, action thriller, horror, mythology. The story is ideThis book is a kinetic tumble of genres: alternate history, science fiction, geographical survey, action thriller, horror, mythology. The story is idea-driven much more than character-driven; it's the detached logic of situations that makes many sections heartwrenching. The complete strangeness of Darwinia juxtaposes the absence of Europe, direct ancestor of my literary development. Indeed, in this scenario, I would not have been born at all, as my paternal grandfather would have disappeared in 1912 at age ten. There's no rest for the reader, no place of comfort, as there is none for most of the characters. I'm glad I read (and finished) this book. It made me think; it took familiar world-pieces, tossed a number of them out, and placed the rest in very unfamiliar combinations. It charged my imagination; parts of it creeped me out. Not a comfortable read, but a worthwhile one. ...more
A Christmas Carol, of course, gets five stars. Tightly and movingly written, it's a masterpiece of a Christmas story. The Haunted Man and the Ghost'sA Christmas Carol, of course, gets five stars. Tightly and movingly written, it's a masterpiece of a Christmas story. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain can't decide whether to be frightening or sentimental and, while it does have its moving and its funny bits, does neither frightening nor sentimental very well. The other pieces in this collection come as random pictures meant to spark emotion and feed its flame, to the satiety, or perhaps exhaustion, of the reader. There is something of "staring into a fire, watching the pictures in the flames" about these pieces; Dickens, however, is not content to let the reader meditate, but must be calling, "Oh look!," and commenting on everything in a too loud and enthusiastic tone. Dickens' Christmas celebrations given here, while amusing in a certain frame of mind to read, are too boisterous and heavy-laden with crowded and repetitive cheer to allow the Spirit of Christmas to draw uncramped breath....more
It's Richard, the author, who goes through the biggest transition in this book. Dru Marland develops into the woman she has always been. It's RichardIt's Richard, the author, who goes through the biggest transition in this book. Dru Marland develops into the woman she has always been. It's Richard who works through the larger changes in perception and understanding, including finally knowing that his friend Drew was always Dru, just not as visible. Dru Marland meets challenges of her own, including gender-confirmation surgery and a lawsuit against a former employer, with the uncomplicated naturalness of her own self. Told by Richard Beard in an uncomplicated style, this story is full of observation, British self-deprecation, compassion and admiration....more