First of all, if you haven’t heard yet, Neil won the 2008 Newbery Award for this book. He had an awesome “acceptance speech” that leaked from TwitterFirst of all, if you haven’t heard yet, Neil won the 2008 Newbery Award for this book. He had an awesome “acceptance speech” that leaked from Twitter to the rest of the world:
FUCK!!!! I won the FUCKING NEWBERY THIS IS SO FUCKING AWESOME.
It may not be the most appropriate thing for the winner of a young adult fiction award to say, but it is totally Neil. In fact, he has a really amusing story on his blog about receiving the call from the committee:
You are on a speakerphone with at least 14 teachers and librarians and suchlike great, wise and good people, I thought. Do not start swearing like you did when you got the Hugo. This was a wise thing to think because otherwise huge, mighty and fourletter swears were gathering. I mean, that’s what they’re for.
If for no other reason, I’m quoting that to justify swearing, because he’s absolutely right: Moments like that are why those words exist.
Anyway, my second point is that you should know by now that if you’re looking for a strictly objective review of a Neil Gaiman book, then you should stop reading now. Because while I can say that this book isn’t quite on the same level as either Stardust or Coraline, it’s still a very Gaiman story, and it still ranks among my favorite of his books. The book is essentially a loose collection of short stories based on the life of Bod (short for “Nobody”), who has been taken in to be raised by the resident ghosts of a graveyard. Why? The rest of his family was murdered, and they arranged for the rest of the ghosts to adopt and raise him shortly thereafter. Each chapter-story is centered on Bod at a different age, so we get to see how he grows up in such an environment. It’s possibly the oddest coming-of-age story I’ve read, but it works, and Gaiman is such a skilled writer that even the plainly-obvious denouement makes perfect sense.
Is it dark? Yes and no. I mean, the book starts off with a murder, and an infant crawling away from the same fate. It’s set in a graveyard, full of friendly ghosties and horrible ghoulies. The main character has the same abilities as the ghosts, but he’s still human. But after the first chapter, you accept all of these facts and fall into Bod’s world and life. It becomes just a setting, and the story takes on a life of its own. Bod struggles to be normal in a world of oddities, and isn’t that the subject of just about every YA novel?
I’m glad that Neil has won the Newbery Award. The stories he writes, which are typically full of mythology, legends, and fairy tales, are the perfect subject for young-adult fiction, and a lot of the popular YA stories are fantasies, anyway. I would have been extremely stoked had he won it for Coraline (which I find to be an immensely better novel than The Graveyard Book, as much as I like them both), but if you’re going to award it to a young-adult fantasy writer, then Neil Gaiman is a good place to start....more
I’m not one to read any Oprah Book Club books, but when it was selected for my wife’s book discussion group, and when I learned that it was a pseudo rI’m not one to read any Oprah Book Club books, but when it was selected for my wife’s book discussion group, and when I learned that it was a pseudo retelling of Hamlet, and that it involved the relationship between a boy and his dogs, I figured I would give it a go. If nothing else, the supernatural events in the book would keep my interest, I thought.
In the end, I was pretty caught up with the story and the book. I’ve been known to show more empathy for animals than humans, so seeing the relationship between Edgar and Almondine (as unrealistic as some of that relationship seemed to me at times) was something I could relate to and understand. That alone kept me reading, even when the story got to be really slow. And it got really, really slow during Edgar’s exile. I sort of wanted to give up on it at that point, but I was already more than halfway through the book, and my wife was encouraging me to finish it so we could talk about it.
In the end, I didn’t finish the book in time to discuss it in my wife’s book club, but I did eventually finish it, on New Year’s Eve. I figured that it would be a good idea to finish the book in the same year in which I started reading it, and I had started reading it back in November. And while I really enjoyed the relationships, and was impressed with the narrative and language that the author used in the book, I was incredibly disappointed with the ending. It’s depressing as hell, so it’s not a book I would recommend reading while on the second floor of a building, unless it doesn’t have any windows. It made the entire effort of reading the book seem pointless, and I hate feeling like that. It wasn’t quite as bad as the ending to Son of Rosemary, but come on; you have to make a concerted effort to be worse than that.
I don’t really know if I would recommend this book or not. I might feel differently if I had participated in the discussion, and had an idea of what topics were discussed, but when I finished it and said to my wife how depressing the ending was, she agreed, and we didn’t talk about it much more than that. It was just such a let down, for both of us, I think....more
If ever there were a book that screamed “No Brainer” at me, as far as whether or not I would read it, this is it. The blurb on the cover made referencIf ever there were a book that screamed “No Brainer” at me, as far as whether or not I would read it, this is it. The blurb on the cover made reference to The Phantom Tollbooth. Another on the back made reference to both Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker, and one on the inside front cover of the book mentioned Lewis Carroll. I mean, that’s a list of my favorite book, one of my favorite writers, and a writer who has continually astounded me with his imagination. How could I pass this one up?
If I had to pick just one of those comparisons, though, to best describe the book, it would have to be Clive Barker. Anyone who’s read his Arabat series is going to find some similarities here. There are some dark moments and some wild creations in Un Lundun, and I found myself thinking of Barker’s imagery during much of the book. I can see some of the comparison to The Phantom Tollbooth (there are some puns come to life throughout the book), but the one to Gaiman is a little less convincing. But regardless, this is still an enjoyable book.
The premise behind the book is that, behind London, there exists a world very much like London, but also very much different from it. There are different ways to pass between the worlds, but suffice it to say, the London side of things is the London that we know over here, while the Unlundun side is where you find the fantastic creatures and the wild magic. Deeba discovers Unlundun when her friend, Zanna, finds her way over there through the help of some strange happenings due to a prophecy that Zanna will be the one to free Unlundun from the tyranny of the Smog. And, just to be clear, the Smog isn’t just smog; it’s the Smog, sentient and powerful and all together nasty. If the Smog gets its way, then all of Unlundun will be under its power, and after then, it will move and try to do the same to regular London.
There is a lot of detail in this book. The author creates fantastic creature, only to have them serve as a counterpoint to other normality, or to only be in the book for a chapter or two. The ideas and imagination can be a little overwhelming, as the author strives to put as much as possible in his book. As a result, the story suffers slightly as he seems to pay more attention to the detail than he does to the characters. The characterization does suffer, but not only from his attention to the setting; the characters sometimes seem superficial and two-dimensional, even as they’re working toward the greater good to save Unlundun. It’s a strange dichotomy, and while it does detract from the overall feel of the story, it doesn’t slow down the process as you read it.
This is primarily a children’s/YA novel, and should be approached as one. Its heavy-handed message and dark overtones make it suitable for readers of any age, but ultimately, it should be viewed as a product of its audience. Nevertheless, readers who like imaginative fiction and creative ideas would not be displeased with the book....more
This is not the sort of book I would normally choose to read. It was a Today show book club selection, and almost any time a book is selected by a morThis is not the sort of book I would normally choose to read. It was a Today show book club selection, and almost any time a book is selected by a morning talk-show for “discussion,” warning alarms go off in my head. It will probably be too artsy-fartsy or fancy-schmancy for me. But my wife read the book, and really enjoyed it, and she asked me to read it. The premise sounded interesting enough, so I figured what the heck.
I wound up liking this book far more than I expected. This story is about a relationship, and all its ups and downs, relating to the main character’s inability to control his leaps through time, along with all the other usual relationship stuff folks encounter. The author manages to capture the two characters and their relationship effectively, so it’s hard not to care for them, and care what happens to them. It’s also hard not to keep reading, since she starts the novel off with Henry, in his mid-thirties, popping naked into a field and introducing himself to his wife, who is only six years old (oddly, there’s nothing perverted about the scene).
Structurally, this book is pretty amazing. She manages to create a relationship where Henry, who has been in an adult relationship with Clare for about six years, pops back into Clare’s history and makes himself an integral part of her life for the next sixteen years. Then, when she’s about twenty-two, she meets Henry, who has never seen her before in his own life. And despite knowing that if she knows him, then they’re meant to be together, Henry has to take time to get to know her at all.
The novel is told in order through Clare’s life, but backwards through Henry’s. When they catch up, things are told more or less in order, with a few jumps here and there, and that the author managed to map out this huge diorama of a disjointed life is pretty impressive. There was only one logical inconsistency that I noticed in the story, when Henry taught his younger self how to do something important. It was a closed loop, but it may have been intentional. Everything else made sense, unless I missed something that was a little more subtle.
I was also put off a bit in the way that the author chose to narrate the book. The story is told in first person, but from both Henry and Clare. She jumps back and forth between them, and to clarify who’s speaking, she states at the beginning of the section who it is. So, when Clare is speaking, the narrative starts “Clare:“, and for Henry, it begins “Henry:“. It’s a bit jarring, and at first it’s also a bit confusing, since both characters seem to have identical voices. After a while, though, the transition becomes more natural, and you’ll become accustomed to the convention.
Other than those minor issues, this is a great book. It has some appeal to sci-fi readers, will interest folks interested in light fantasy or magic realism, and will also hold well with people who want to read something romantic. It’s a hefty book (it has to cover two whole lives, after all), but it’s well worth the time to read it....more
Ever have those days where you put on an old jacket from last winter, and find a $20 bill in the pocket? That’s how I felt when I first heard about MEver have those days where you put on an old jacket from last winter, and find a $20 bill in the pocket? That’s how I felt when I first heard about M Is for Magic. I didn’t know that Neil Gaiman had a new book coming out, much less that he had pulled a Ray Bradbury by picking some of his stories appropriate for younger audiences, and packaging them together under a new title. Shoot, he even acknowledges Bradbury in the introduction and in “October in the Chair,” so it’s no surprise that he even adopted Bradbury’s old title format for the collection. Bradbury had R Is for Rocket and S Is for Space, and now we’ve covered the Ms, as well.
So, the reality is that if you’re a hardcore Gaiman fanboy, then you’ve read most all of these stories. There’s only one story here that’s an “exclusive” (”The Witch’s Headstone,” a wonderful romp that’s reminiscent of Jonathan Carroll’s early stuff), but I believe it’s going to see print in a future publication, anyway. The good news is that this is a lot like a “greatest hits” for Gaiman. “Chivalry,” possibly the best short work of fiction published last century, is there, as is “Troll Bridge” (which shows the darker side of growing up) and “The Price” (an even darker look at our pets and what they do for us), along with a newer “classic,” “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” (an odd science fiction story that probably owes a small debt to Harlan Ellison).
Like any short story collection, there are a few misses here, including “The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds,” but the premises and ideas behind the stories make up for what they lack in punch. Even Neil Gaiman can’t be on all the time, but even when he’s just puttering along, there’s much more going on to keep your interest than just the presentation. The story itself should keep you reading. Besides, as I’ve mentioned before, mediocre Neil Gaiman is definitely better than the best of some other authors I’ve read.
So, there may not be anything new here, and it may not all represent the best stuff that Gaiman has written, but M Is for Magic is a great introduction to a wonderful author. That it’s been released just in time for you to pick the collection up for the young reader in your family for Christmas isn’t, I doubt, a coincidence. Besides, if you haven’t read “Chivalry” yet, then your life isn’t quite yet complete....more
If you’ve read the previous two books in the Peter Pan prequel trilogy, then you ought to take the time to read through this last book in the series.If you’ve read the previous two books in the Peter Pan prequel trilogy, then you ought to take the time to read through this last book in the series. It follows the other books pretty logically, and it maintains the same sense of whimsy, adventure, and imagination that the previous books had. Unfortunately, it’s a little dense with detail, and more than a little overlong in its presentation.
Let’s be honest for a moment: Peter and the Starcatchers was really the only book necessary as a prequel to explain why Peter became the flying, ageless boy that we all know from fairy tales. My guess is that the story was originally planned as a standalone book, and after it proved to be popular, the publisher asked the authors to write the prequel into a trilogy. Think of how Star Wars was a nice, complete film in and of itself, and how The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi seemed a little … well, not tacked on, but at least produced based on the first movie’s success. The way the story develops over the course of the novels suggests that the Peter Pan prequels were written in much the same way.
To carry the Star Wars analogy a bit further, reading Peter and the Secret of Rundoon was a little like watching Revenge of the Sith — by the end, the authors seemed to be struggling to connect everything from the first two books to everything that followed after, resulting in some plot tangents that probably wouldn’t have existed in a standard book. It’s like they were trying to cram as much as possible into the final volume, making the end result a little messy. There seemed to be three major plots going on in the book, and each one resolved itself more or less independently from the others. In that sense, it was a little like watching the end of The Return of the King, with the viewer wondering when, exactly, the movie was going to officially end. And I probably should stop comparing the book with movie trilogies, lest I lose my point entirely.
So, it’s a good read, and reminiscent of the previous two books in the series. If you can divorce yourself from the fact that the last two books in the trilogy really aren’t necessary, and don’t mind the meandering cross-wise plots, you should enjoy the book. At they very least, they’re entertaining and compelling....more
Michael Marshall Smith is a dark, dark author. Most of his works are nihilistic and hopeless, even when they have a happy ending, so it was a bit of aMichael Marshall Smith is a dark, dark author. Most of his works are nihilistic and hopeless, even when they have a happy ending, so it was a bit of a shock to read a comment about The Servants describing it as a children’s book. Having finished it, I wouldn’t necessarily agree, if only because of a few choice pieces of language (the kind that would get it rated R f it were a movie, or labeled with a “Parental Advisory” sticker if it were a CD), but I do think that there is a brilliant presentation of an unstable family dynamic, and the way that an eleven year-old responds to it. Young teen readers, or even more mature younger readers, would possibly find a very important message in this book.
Mark has just moved to seaside Brighton with his mother and new stepfather, and things are not going well for him. He doesn’t like his stepfather, he misses his father, and his relationship with his mother is changing. He sees things that he and his mother used to share, and he sees his new stepfather controlling his mother and Mark in such a way that Mark feels that his stepfather is doing everything in his power to keep him and his mother apart. Considering that Brighton used to be where he vacationed with his parents when they were still married, he is constantly reminded of the happy, idyllic life he once had, and the miserable, depressing one he currently has. Even when his stepfather breaks down the walls between him and Mark, and tries to explain what’s really happening with his mother, he refuses to believe or understand, and continues to blame his stepfather for all the bad things that are happening in his life. At its core, the story is about Mark, his mother, and his stepfather, and the way that Mark is forced to come of age far sooner than he expected to. And that family relationship and how it’s presented seem so true, so genuine, that it’s very easy to get caught up in that story.
Unfortunately, there is also a supernatural element to the book (enough so for my local library to plaster a “Science Fiction” sticker on the spine) that seems tacked on and superfluous. It’s not that I don’t understand its place in the story; it just seems to detract from the otherwise brilliant portrayal of a family in peril. Mark’s misplaced anger and the means by which he has to deal with it is far, far more interesting than the underlying mechanism by which the author chooses to correct that dynamic. It’s not so bad that I wouldn’t recommend the book, but it does seem slightly silly, in retrospect.
I’ve said in previous reviews of Smith’s works that, dark as they might be, they still zoom in on human nature, enough so that you feel like the author is a resident expert. He also crafts a mean plot, and realistic characters, so if you have to start somewhere, The Servants would be a good place. At the very least, it’s the “happiest” book of his that I’ve read so far....more
One of the bad things about having a book or movie come highly recommended to you is that your expectations are going to have a significant impact inOne of the bad things about having a book or movie come highly recommended to you is that your expectations are going to have a significant impact in what you take from it in the end. Night Watch was a book that came highly recommended to me, and it took me a while to finally get around to reading it. During that time, I heard more and more about it from other people, and this kept raising my expectations. I mean, when I finally tracked down a copy, I was excited to read it. This probably should have been a warning for me.
The book is about the battle between the Night Watch (the good magicians, who patrol the night for dark magicians committing magical acts outside of the treaty) and the Day Watch (the night magicians, who patrol the day for good magicians also breaking the terms of the treaty). Apparently, if one Watch commits an act of magic, then the other Watch receives permission to commit an act of magic of an equal scale to counteract the effects of the original act. This makes sense in one way — if the dark magicians do a terrible thing with their magic, the light magicians can then do a wonderful thing with theirs — but it also prevents the light magicians from committing acts of good. It’s an interesting premise, one of checks-and-balances in modern-day Russia. This is all backstory to the main plot, which involves a scheme that the Night Watch has been evolving for years, and requires much sacrifice and subterfuge. It’s all very interesting, to say the least.
Is the book good? Yes. Did it overwhelm me like I expected? Not really. For one thing, the narrative is very matter-of-fact, and lacks some of the subtlety you might expect in a good novel. There isn’t much suggestion, or showing, in the book; instead, we’re told directly what’s happening at any given time. It’s almost like reading a juvenile novel, where the author wants to make sure that his readers don’t miss the main points. I can credit this to the translation more than to the author himself (in fact, a friend of mine tells me that the books improve over the series), but the plot and the theme aren’t enough on their own to really carry the novel for me. It’s something that’s been done before, many times over, and I don’t mind re-reading an archetypal story, but when I do, the rest of the novel needs to be able to impress me, as well. Night Watch just didn’t do it.
There are three other novels in this series — Day Watch, Twilight Watch, and Last Watch — but I’m just not sure if I want to read the rest of them. There are too many other books that I want to read, and I don’t want to waste that time on mediocre stuff, you know?...more
This was one of the many, many books that I’ve picked up from a recommendation on Boing Boing. For the most part, this is a good thing. Without thoseThis was one of the many, many books that I’ve picked up from a recommendation on Boing Boing. For the most part, this is a good thing. Without those recommendations, I wouldn’t have read The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl or Rainbows End, and while I wouldn’t have missed them for not knowing about them, I feel better off having read both novels. The thing is, it’s statistically improbable that I will like everything that comes recommended by the editors, and Sandman Slim is one of those novels that didn’t really grab me.
It actually has a lot going for it that I should have liked. It’s about a magician who was banished to Hell 11 years ago, and then arrives back on Earth with one goal in mind: Kill everyone who was involved with his banishment. It sounds like this guy would wind up being the bad guy, but in this case, he’s more of an anti-hero. It’s not just that he was banished to Hell to survive by battling in a gladiatorial arena almost daily, and wants to take that out on those who banished him; those people also killed his girlfriend, so his motive is a little more noble than it first appears.
The thing is, the risk you run with creating an anti-hero is that he winds up not being sympathetic enough, and I think that’s what happened in this story. You can understand the reasons behind his motivation, but in the end he winds up being incredibly selfish and boorish in his methods. After a while, it got to be very tiring, and it made me wonder what his friends saw in him to keep coming back and supporting him, even when he was being a major PITA.
In addition, the story started off well, but fizzled near the middle, and then petered out entirely by the end. I think part of it was that I was disappointed that the author intended for the book to be the first in a series, which is made clear by what becomes a larger plotline that extends beyond this particular novel. The story took some serious turns near the end of the story, as well. I think it was the author attempting to turn a singular novel into a series, but when you start off with a simple premise — take revenge on those who wronged him — and then turn it into a more grandiose, save-the-world, good-versus-evil sort of plot, it takes something away from the story. It tries to be two things at once, and I’m not sure if it works well.
It was still a compelling read, but I found myself wishing he had stuck with a more action-centered storyline, instead of attempting something bigger. If I’ve learned anything from the brutal noir style that Charlie Huston writes, it’s that you want to keep the story moving, not bog it down with a bunch of extraneous stuff....more
So, I have an Internet friend who is always touting how great of a writer Gene Wolfe is. One, day, I finally asked him: “What’s a good place to startSo, I have an Internet friend who is always touting how great of a writer Gene Wolfe is. One, day, I finally asked him: “What’s a good place to start with this guy?” He suggested the Book of the New Sun, a tetralogy that begins with The Shadow of the Torturer. So, I tracked it down at the library and started reading it.
That was about three months ago.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a large part of the reason why I’ve been slow-going with my reading, but dang if this guy isn’t a tough author to read. His prose is dense, filled with more narrative than dialog, and it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on in some places. Maybe it’s my attention span. Maybe the book is just too deep for me. All I know is that, after several months with the book, I realized that I wasn’t eager to finish it, so I quit about halfway through the second book and took it back to the library.
The thing is, the book is intriguing. The author obviously had a grand idea in mind when he started writing it, and as dense as the book is, it seems like everything there is necessary. It’s just one of those books that requires more than I can give it. The book is vivid and interesting, just not enough to keep me from giving up on it.
So, I gave up on the series, but that’s not to say that I’ll never return to it again. But I have a lot of other things I would prefer to be reading, instead....more
The premise of this book is fascinating: A young boy who has a hard time finding his place in life goes to live with his aunt and uncle, and stays inThe premise of this book is fascinating: A young boy who has a hard time finding his place in life goes to live with his aunt and uncle, and stays in a room that has 100 cupboards on the wall. With the manipulation of a couple of dials, the cupboards will take him to a variety of different worlds, some dangerous, some friendly, all fanciful. This is a perfect juvenile book, because what kid hasn’t wanted to find something like that and take advantage of it? I went through that when I was a kid, and I think that’s part of the reason why The Phantom Tollbooth was such a favorite books of mine (still is, actually).
The thing is, the premise was probably too promising. I’m not sure when it became commonplace for juvenile and YA authors to write in a telling style over a showing style. I mean, I sort of understand it: Your audience isn’t as attuned to subtlety as an adult would be, so you sometimes have to make your point more directly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids’ books that use subtlety to tell the story — any of the Harry Potter books and Sachar’s Holes are prime examples — so I’m not sure why some authors choose to tell instead of show. It just makes the book that much harder to read.
Aside from the narrative, the story was interesting enough to keep me reading, though it didn’t really resonate with me. I had a good idea how the book was going to end, based on the way that the author presented the main characters, so I was reading to see if I was right, if nothing else. I didn’t feel much of an emotional attachment to the characters, though I thought the relationship between the main character and his uncle was interesting. By the end, though, I was just reading to finish the book.
With 100 Cupboards, I think my expectations were too high for me to really judge the book objectively. I’m sure that kids would like it, but it’s not a juvenile book that translates well for the adult reader....more
Jasper Fforde won me over years ago with his introduction of Thursday Next in a series of novels that were equal parts fantasy, science fiction, mysteJasper Fforde won me over years ago with his introduction of Thursday Next in a series of novels that were equal parts fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and just all-around good storytelling. Even when it surfaced that he was writing a fifth book in the series, after he had pretty much wrapped up all of the loose ends of the series in the fourth one, but he still managed to pull off a story that worked (so long as you can tolerate self-referential bits).
The Road to High Saffron is the first in a new series titled Shades of Grey, which is set in a future world where people are now colorblind, and are assigned a particular class status based on which colors they can see, and how much of it they can see. This leads to the purples being the highest social class in the society (because they can see red and blue), and where the people who can see almost no color are designated “Greys,” and are reduced to the menial labor class. It’s an odd world, where color means everything, and the government pipes color into residential areas the way that we pump water into ours. The thing is, no one can see all colors, so the society here doesn’t work unless everyone is working together. The society has very rigid rules to work toward that end, and whatever means can help take the society to that end are justifiable. It leads to a very dystopian future, which has a lot in common with Huxley’s Brave New World.
In this book, the story revolves around Edward, the son of a swatchman (who is the society’s version of a doctor; certain colors in this world have a medicinal effect, but only certain people are allowed access to them) who has been sent to one of the towns outside the urban areas to replace a swatchman who recently died. The mood and character of the town is very different from the city Edward and his father are used to, and as they spend more time there, Edward realizes that the Utopian ideal that the society is selling isn’t all that it seems to be.
This is a typical Jasper Fforde novel. It’s very compelling, very interesting, with a cast of likeable characters fighting a battle against beauracracy and tradition. The mystery is satisfying, as is the conclusion, but I did have a couple of issues with some of the characters. One of the characters made a complete change near the end of the book, and while the change made sense, the progression to that point seemed rushed. In addition, there was a plot device that carried through about 4/5ths of the novel, which turned out to be little more than a teaser. It was slightly annoying, but not enough for me to not enjoy the story. Of course, this is the first novel in a projected series, so maybe some of these issues will be resolved and/or explained in future volumes.
One word of caution, though: It’s very difficult to get in to the novel. Fforde doesn’t waste any time with easing the reader in to the setting and its implications to society. He just starts in that world, and lets the explanations come through the progressing narrative. This is fine (to be honest, I prefer that sort of exposition), but for a world that’s so different, in a novel that is far outside the writer’s normal body of work, it was a bit of a struggle. After about 50 pages, everything became clear, but those first 50 pages were a little confusing. The payoff of the story overall, though, is worth the effort.
If this is your first Jasper Fforde novel, then stick with it and let the story engross you. If it isn’t, you won’t need much encouragement to stick with it, since you know the author knows how to spin a yarn. It’s definitely worth it....more