I really enjoyed this book, following the life of Maggie McLain, a Southern Belle in the sixties who leaves that life to become a vet at a time when t...moreI really enjoyed this book, following the life of Maggie McLain, a Southern Belle in the sixties who leaves that life to become a vet at a time when the South was not really ready for women vets, which only makes a hard job even harder.
There is no real over-arching plot to this novel, rather it is a series of anecdotes spread across a lifetime, but it is brought together by the wonderful characters involved in them. The family, friends, colleagues, clients and Dr McLain herself are all well-drawn, bringing good humour and warmth to the stories of the various veterinary crises they encounter.
The book's anecdotes are beautifully told, humorously portraying some of the odder clients and the sorts of situations that end up with vets on their backsides in mud, while sensitively and compassionately dealing with the times when sad things happen, such as the death of a child's beloved horse.
Both moving and giggle-inducing, this was a lovely read.
Full disclosure for the FTC and anyone else who is bothered: I received a copy of 'All God's Creatures' for free as an ebook via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers system.(less)
**spoiler alert** Re-read from 14 to 21 April 2012:
Re-read since I'm unlikely to get round to seeing the film at the cinema...
First read from August 3...more**spoiler alert** Re-read from 14 to 21 April 2012:
Re-read since I'm unlikely to get round to seeing the film at the cinema...
First read from August 30 to September 04, 2010: I absolutely loved this, and I can't wait to read the sequels as soon as I get my hands on them. Having clearly been living under a rock, I only heard about this series when people started raving about "Mockingjay" on twitter.
I can't really dispute the similarities to "Battle Royale" that other reviewers have mentioned, at least in terms of the general concept of a society making children fight and, to some extent, a resistance to this system, but I enjoyed the characters in this novel: the heroine, Katniss Everdeen *is* heroic, but she is realistically flawed. The story could have been told rather simplistically (evil rich ruling society bad, little poor person good) but the characters and their motivations are more complex, and a lot of the peril the characters are placed in comes from having to deal with people, with Katniss trying to respond to and manipulate the reactions of an audience she cannot see.
And here there are more parallels, as the Hunger Games of the title are something like a combination of violence for entertainment (like a form of Roman gladiatorial combat) combined with the constant live stream of reality television programmes such as Big Brother. Indeed the concerns of contestants on such shows can be seen in Katniss contemplating how what she does will be perceived (how the highlights will be edited to show a story) and in terms of her 'showmance', the (as she sees it) fake romance with fellow District 12 competitor Peeta.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its subject matter, there is a lot of violence for a young adult title. Despite the gruesome deaths, however, the most disturbing part for a reader of any age must be the eventual 'resurrection' of the defeated (i.e. dead) contestants as part-human, part-wolf "muttations" at the climax of the games. It is especially chilling when Katniss, as she recognises what and more importantly who these creatures are, spots her young ally Rue among them...
A great story, told at a pace that keeps the pages turning and leaves me wanting more. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
Incidentally, this was the first book I have read using the Amazon Kindle app on my phone, which meant it was so convenient to just pick up whenever I had a spare moment wherever I was, e.g. on the bus, without having to carry anything extra with me.(less)
Perhaps it's not classy, but I enjoyed this spin-off/tie-in supposedly written by the main character of the TV series "Castle".
The characters are clea...morePerhaps it's not classy, but I enjoyed this spin-off/tie-in supposedly written by the main character of the TV series "Castle".
The characters are clearly based on those Castle 'observes' in the TV show with Jameson Rook (Rook - Castle, geddit?!) being a reporter on a ride-along for research with detective Nikki Heat. It's great fun seeing slightly skewed versions of the characters I know - and parts of the book that were mentioned in the TV series.
Also enjoyable as a detective novel in its own right with Nikki Heat and her team investigating the death of millionaire Matthew Starr and the secrets of a wealthy New York family.
Literature? No. Cheesy? Perhaps. Fun and enjoyable? Yes.(less)
Mikael Blomkvist's Millennium publishing company is preparing to publish another journalist's book about people trafficking and the sex trade when the...moreMikael Blomkvist's Millennium publishing company is preparing to publish another journalist's book about people trafficking and the sex trade when the author and his girlfriend, who was researching the same subject, are murdered. The prime suspect is Lisbeth Salander, and when her guardian is found dead the hunt for her extends across Sweden.
Larsson may not be that great a writer, but he tells a good story, even if it might *slightly* stretch the limits of believability in places...(less)
A fascinating essay describing how our brains process reading and covering a wide variety of topics along the way. How do marks on a piece of paper tu...moreA fascinating essay describing how our brains process reading and covering a wide variety of topics along the way. How do marks on a piece of paper turn into images in our minds? How did interpreting these marks become a man-made reflex? How does a story provide a lesson or moral? Do people get the same message from the same story? This is the sort of subject where all the answers give rise to more questions and this very readable book takes you through a lot of them in quite a short space, using the familiar story of Red Riding Hood to explain the parts of the process.
I happened upon 'Heirs of Mars' on Goodreads and I'm glad I did. Well-drawn characters, compelling storylines, new concepts and twists on such standar...moreI happened upon 'Heirs of Mars' on Goodreads and I'm glad I did. Well-drawn characters, compelling storylines, new concepts and twists on such standard sci-fi ideas as colonisation and cloning. All this plus car chases on Mars? What's not to like!
Heirs of Mars is set on a planet that has lost its Martian dream: successes are increasingly few and far between, and the streets are certainly not paved with gold. To try to buoy up the failing Martian population, cloners secretly make 'ghost' clones - the minds of the dying copied into synthetic bodies that can carry on their essential work, e.g. as doctors. Meanwhile this technique of effectively overwriting a robot with a human brain has a group of sentient AI robots worried that this could be used as a weapon against them and they are waging a war against the Martian cloners.
These sorts of ideas are all cleverly combined - since the clones are essentially part-human, part-machine, neither fully one nor the other, they are caught in the middle of the fight between the robots and the human cloners. These sorts of ideas make you think, but at the same time they are tied together in a thrilling plot. Oh, and did I mention the car chases on Mars? Fantastic!(less)
That's despite the insane amount of detail - by the end of the series we know exactly what every character likes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, exactly how much milk they like in their coffee (a double espresso with a teaspoon of milk for Armansky) and what brand of phone and computer they use. Oh, and a blow-by-blow* account of their sex lives: essentially, every Swedish woman has had sex with Blomkvist at least 17 times. Except the She reporter woman, apparently - "Imagine, a woman who can resist the famous Blomkvist charm" as Berger puts it. Supposedly this series would have gone on to 10 novels had Stieg Larsson lived, presumably detailing Blomkvist's exploits abroad with all the billions of women who had the misfortune to be born outside of Sweden and who until then had been unable to experience the unmissable joys of sexy times with Kalle Blomkvist...
There's a good (if crazy and preposterous) story in the series once you get through the minutiae of the characters' lives and some of the horrible writing - but I suppose part of the 'charm' lies in the clunkiness of the writing - and it ends quite satisfactorily with the courtroom drama: (view spoiler)[Giannini finally taking down Teleborian in the courtroom was very satisfying (hide spoiler)].
I'm glad I finished the trilogy, but I think that's enough for me. The loose ends are all pretty much tied up at the end of Hornets' Nest and if a fourth manuscript does turn up I'm not sure I'd rush out and buy a copy.
---- *No pun intended. Seriously. I was probably too busy dreaming of Blomkvist when I wrote this to notice how that might be interpreted by those of you with dirty minds...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I've liked the idea of 'steampunk' historical fantasy settings for a while but not really got around to reading anything from that sort of genre but t...moreI've liked the idea of 'steampunk' historical fantasy settings for a while but not really got around to reading anything from that sort of genre but this, with its steam-powered airships, certainly counts and I really enjoyed it.
Set against the imaginative backdrop of a world where the northern hemisphere never really emerged from the last ice age, Taziri Ohana flies her airship in the skies above Marrakesh. After a huge explosion destroys the airfield, she is the only pilot left. She and marshal Syfax Zidane discover this is only a part of a huge conspiracy aiming to take down the government.
A great mix of intrigue, action and adventure. I'm already looking forward to more in the series.(less)
Collection of short stories. I'd already heard audio versions of "Red Man" and "The Great Snipe Hunt" - both memorable tales with the snipe hunt being...moreCollection of short stories. I'd already heard audio versions of "Red Man" and "The Great Snipe Hunt" - both memorable tales with the snipe hunt being a particular favourite of mine. I also enjoyed Scott's first foray into the paranormal with the new story Hunter Hunterson and Sons".(less)
A steam-powered sand-ship (a mechanical sandworm for a steampunk Dune, perhaps?) breaks down in the desert leaving two of its crew to escape the ship...moreA steam-powered sand-ship (a mechanical sandworm for a steampunk Dune, perhaps?) breaks down in the desert leaving two of its crew to escape the shipwreck in the Cardanica: a (sentient?) constantly self-reconfiguring lifeboat. It's claustrophobic. It's creepy. And it's icky...(less)
I've just reread Charlie for the first time in, well, a couple of decades and loved it just as much as when I was little: the excitement about the ann...moreI've just reread Charlie for the first time in, well, a couple of decades and loved it just as much as when I was little: the excitement about the announcement of the golden tickets and who finds them, the anticipation when Charlie is unwrapping a chocolate bar, the joy and wonder of the factory, the absolute certainty that a Whipple-Scrumptions Fudgemallow Delight would be the most delicious chocolate bar in the world ever if only it existed...
While Dahl's story is as good as ever, this Kindle edition was a little disappointing. It reproduces Quentin Blake's fantastic illustrations, but appears to be based on an uncorrected OCR: "T" appears instead of "I" on a number of occasions, and in some places there are unnecessary hyphens from ends of lines in the print book and some sentences are split into two paragraphs where presumably they were split across a page break and other bits of odd formatting. It's careless and sloppy that it wasn't proofread and checked properly before being released in this format, especially since it's currently more expensive than the paperback from Amazon.(less)
A collection of beautifully illustrated letters to the children in the Tolkien family about the adventures of Father Christmas with the Polar Bear at...moreA collection of beautifully illustrated letters to the children in the Tolkien family about the adventures of Father Christmas with the Polar Bear at the North Pole each Christmas. Enchanting tales with wonderful characters - the Polar Bear's scrapes are always entertaining. It's also particularly poignant during the war when Father Christmas has little to deliver (stolen by opportunistic goblins) and has difficulty finding all the evacuees and children made homeless by bombings. Lovely little book for Christmas.
This book is available in a Kindle edition which reproduces all the full colour illustrations and handwritten letters. As such, I expect it would be a bit of a disappointment on the current generation black-and-white Kindles, but it looks beautiful in the Kindle apps for computers/tablets (I fear smart phones would require too much zooming and scrolling around to be practical). Just FYI, readers of ebooks!(less)
"I heard the tramp of feet, five feet in total, which meant only a single visitor, for three feet always belong to Chives; I gave him the extra leg wh...more"I heard the tramp of feet, five feet in total, which meant only a single visitor, for three feet always belong to Chives; I gave him the extra leg when I invented him, for the sake of stability and speed. And also because he's a monster."
That's probably enough to tell you whether you'll enjoy this charmingly bizarre tale of the theft of the sky and its replacement with a stone ceiling. Renowned Absurdity Investigator (where's one of them when you need one?) Sampietro Mischief aims to find out who did it and why with the assistance (or not) of his butler (and monster) Chives.
Full of throwaway one-line ingenious ideas like Mischief's fear about "the extinction of electricity, which I had wrongly believed to be an animal", the story invites you to revel in its absurdity. Never mind worries about vitamin D deficiency when the sun has disappeared, how will you work out which 3 o'clock is which when there are two in every day and they're both dark? And more importantly, why isn't Chives appearing with the brandy when he's called?
I enjoyed this foray into the perfectly logical illogicality of the world of Mischief (and especially Chives - who doesn't love a monster sidekick?) and I'm pleased to see that a second in the series, The Polo Match, is available for the next time I need a dose of cheerful madness!(less)