Who can say no to a good super-old-fashioned (Roman empire-era) hard boiled detective story with bloody murder, intrigue, family strife, a sweet star-Who can say no to a good super-old-fashioned (Roman empire-era) hard boiled detective story with bloody murder, intrigue, family strife, a sweet star-crossed romance and some stolen art to boot? Not me! Love the Falco series, and the full-cast BBC audio dramatization is incredibly well done. Recommended for vacation, transit, anytime at all....more
Funny? Check! Hawt? Check! Positive resolution? Check! Beer? Check! Castle? Check! This book is insanely rife with cliches, but Tessa Dare manages toFunny? Check! Hawt? Check! Positive resolution? Check! Beer? Check! Castle? Check! This book is insanely rife with cliches, but Tessa Dare manages to make it very good indeed. I adore beauty & the beast style stories, with a big beefy hero who is bested by the brainy bold heroine. It's always a satisfying combo. This particular boxer and the beer maker combo is just delightful. Since I'm also a fan of the forbidden lust plot line, we have here a winner winner chicken dinner. Recommend....more
Mary Higgins Clark books were a childhood thrill for me - I started with 'While my pretty one sleeps', which was published in 1990, when I was 13 yearMary Higgins Clark books were a childhood thrill for me - I started with 'While my pretty one sleeps', which was published in 1990, when I was 13 years old. My mother had the audiobook on cassette tape, and in a misguided attempt to work off the baby fat that clung to my preteen body, I started cycling in circles around the basement of my house, with my walkman and headphones, listening to mom's audiobooks. These books - especially when read aloud by a gifted narrator - are perfect for the accompaniment of mindless tasks, like chopping onions to prep a meal, indoor exercise, house cleaning, etc. They are geared towards women's issues, preying on female concerns and accenting female pleasures. Children are always a source of joy and fear in Clark's novels, the crux of the suspense being a relationship between mother and child interrupted, spoiled, or broken altogether. As a teenager I didn't have a full grasp of how strongly this kind of offspring-based suspense plot can grip a woman, so I enjoyed the rich descriptions of female success: decadent possessions and independence from oppression that are at the core of the MHC dreamworld that exists before and after the story gets thrown out of balance by tragedy. Now that I am a mother, the goosepimple scares are less thrilling and more sickening. The emotions are heightened to discomfort at the thought of anyone separating me from my child. However, the writing remains simple, straightforward, and compelling. No big words, no tough concepts. Clark crafts her story with an implacable draw towards the finish, where the crisis reaches a tense breaking point, someone is usually threatened with a gun, and finally we get to see the bad guy get his just desserts, often long after the initial crime that started them down the road to hell takes place. It's extremely cathartic and leaves the reader (or listener) feeling wrung out and satisfied. I had the same issue many other readers suffered with this book - the excessively passive and meek heroine is easily corralled into a position where she is entrapped by her victimizer. While Clark sets up a detailed set of circumstances that make this believable, the essential weakness of spirit that prevents Jenny from seeking help much, much earlier in the book and keeps her from piecing together the obvious solution to the mystery for way too long saps power from the narrative. While she is being manipulated by a clever and experienced liar, her own lack of faith in herself is at the core of her downfall. I did listen to this book while cutting onions, and I can still take enjoyment from the well-wrought descriptions of American city and farm life, the juxtaposition of art/fashion and domesticity, the seasonal movement from winter to summer to winter again that accompanies the motion and emotion of the plot. This book is a good reminder of how technique is more important than original ideas or strong characterization when constructing a bestseller. ...more
A mixed bag of well-penned short stories, ripe for enjoying during a commute or in the kitchen, these were in no way cozy classic mysteries, but genreA mixed bag of well-penned short stories, ripe for enjoying during a commute or in the kitchen, these were in no way cozy classic mysteries, but genre-bending tales that focused on out-of-the-box settings and ideas that might not have found a home elsewhere, despite the good quality of their craftsmanship. There are strange settings for murder (a gorilla enclosure at the zoo) which explore the ambiance and politics of place; strange weapons for murder (a kite string) that triggers an older couple to go on a Miss Pollifax-style hunt for the killer, highlighting the difference and sameness between the younger and older generations; strange accomplices for murder (the victim's wife), showing the frustrations of the mother of a teenager with some cutting dialogue and marking where loyalties truly lie between men and women; strange motives for murder (a badly bequeathed boat) in a complicated and macabre Addams-family style setting, as witnessed by a newly engaged outsider. There's also a hard-boiled lady detective who solves the mystery of an outbreak of black cat thefts in her New York neighborhood. For me, the jewel in this oddball crown was the final story - the Sherlockian homage starring Irene Adler and Oscar Wilde pursuing the mystery of an artist frantically painting his dead model. The story is told from the perspective of Adele's uptight maid, and has a dashing combination of entertaining dialogue, darkly atmospheric stairwells and garrets, and a diabolical crime. No heavy meaty fare in the collection, but a cornucopia of delicious bite-sized treats, perfect October reading in prep for Halloween....more
Simply brilliant. Snappy dialogue, dry humour, exhilarating set-downs, love, exasperation - it has everything but a swordfight and only implied kissinSimply brilliant. Snappy dialogue, dry humour, exhilarating set-downs, love, exasperation - it has everything but a swordfight and only implied kissing. Well-paced and a pleasure to read aloud. <3...more
A jolly nice little audiobook listen, perfect for snowy winter days, perfect for commuting. This was my first taste of Lois McMaster Bujold, who I knoA jolly nice little audiobook listen, perfect for snowy winter days, perfect for commuting. This was my first taste of Lois McMaster Bujold, who I know to be held in high regard by several of my friends who are inveterate readers (to the point that they nicknamed their home "Beta Colony"). I did not expect such a pleasing blend of sci-fi, romance, and espionage; a tiny little slice of fun space opera in a wee novella.
The plot was tremendously predictable, in a children's pantomime, "look out, the bad guy is behind you!" kind of way, but I enjoyed its simple development and resolution. Not brain-draining, just a nice plain narrative. The description of Miles and Ekaterin's wedding fell into purple prose at points, but overall not too heavy on the description.
Voicework on bioengineered space mercenary Sergeant Taura was terrific - gravelly but very feminine. Armsman Roic came off as a bit of a rube, but I guess that was the point. Charming, I will go back to the beginning and read (or perhaps listen) to them in sequence.
I just really like Tessa Dare's writing, even when the story and characters aren't exactly to my taste, I have fun. Her ladies are never shy, and theyI just really like Tessa Dare's writing, even when the story and characters aren't exactly to my taste, I have fun. Her ladies are never shy, and they aren't ashamed about being themselves. Carolyn Morris did a good job of reading the audiobook version of this book, with her crisp English accent, which modulated well for a husky masculine tone as well as taking on clipped assertive feminine tones for the alpha female lead. I am very impressed that she got through the several extremely vivid sex scenes in this novel with passion and aplomb, and also managed to insert good humor into scenes like the poetry reading at the tea shop. Understanding the reasons why the novel wrapped up the way it did, I was still quite put out that a child had to come to harm to resolve the romance, especially since we don't hear much more about their fate after the necessary accident. I groaned aloud at the heroine literally attaching a ball and chain to the hero as part of his "healing" regimen. Also upset that the dad was actually kind of a wanker. Probably the best character in the novel was the town of Spindle Cove itself, with its quirky denizens and romantic castle, etc. A very hot and steamy read for folks who like their Regency with a lot of spice, but a definite trigger warning for ladies and gents who have had bad experiences with the medical profession, or who are uncomfortable with blood and injury featuring in their romances....more
My teenage memories of reading Heinlein are always filtered through the rose-coloured glasses of discovering sci-fi with strong female characters; beiMy teenage memories of reading Heinlein are always filtered through the rose-coloured glasses of discovering sci-fi with strong female characters; being chuffed at wild, socially disruptive ideas; anarchistic concepts that fly in the face of standard morality; and fearless defiance of conventional assumptions about relationships. In short, everything that a 13-year-old digs into with relish.
Listening to the audiobook version of this in my late 30s was a very different experience. I still absolutely appreciate the alternative approach to male-female relationships, but now recognize a lack of discussion around same-sex relationships that seems like a peculiar omission in such a renegade text.
Still feeling wistful about Heinlein's boundless optimism about how a society with a paucity of women would react to the need to keep sexual and family relationships alive (matriarchal society with her-body-her-choice instead of a rape-and-dungeon fest? hooray for positive thinking!), but recognize the continuing presumptions about traditional gender roles, objectification, and weirdly casual "jokes" about rape from Wyoming.
Political philosophy was shoveled into the narrative with more aggression and less elegance than I remembered, and the combination of pulp fictional fight scenes alternating with slow-moving, navel-gazing sections that read more like a step-by-step technical manual for social revolution than an actual plot made the story very uneven.
There's no question that Heinlein has moments of brilliance. Some of the doctrine spouted via the character of the Professor would have done well in an essay, and I suppose there's a solid argument for inserting such rebellious thoughts into fiction, to sweeten the deal for people who might not pick up a political pamphlet but who would pay money for a novel with a picture of a buxom female and a man in a spacesuit, running on the surface of the moon together. But damn, parts of this really dragged. So much set-up, so many soap-box rants.
The audiobook narrator deserves recognition for his efforts at reading an extremely difficult text that required not just male and female voices, but also a thinking computer, a computer pretending to be a man, and multiple accents ranging from the ubiquitous Russian - which grated brutally on my ears, since it was so obviously not natural to the reader - to rural American, refined British, hideous "Pepe Le Peu" French, and Chinese, among others. A deeply challenging read, carried off with as much grace as possible under the circumstances. ...more
Audio version beautifully read by Neil Gaiman. Great transit listening, more like a series of short stories connected by a long plot thread, which wasAudio version beautifully read by Neil Gaiman. Great transit listening, more like a series of short stories connected by a long plot thread, which was pleasantly episodic, perfect for my 35 minute train ride. Spooky, ghosty, old-fashioned Bildungsroman with some nice life lessons along the way. Not a lover of the section on ghouls but I can see how it was needed for the larger plot arc. Recommended....more
This was a lovely collection of sci-fi short stories from the 1950s and 1960s, three of which have been made into movies and one that has definitely iThis was a lovely collection of sci-fi short stories from the 1950s and 1960s, three of which have been made into movies and one that has definitely influenced other science fiction giants (e.g. Battlestar Galactica reboot, Terminator, etc).
"The Minority Report" is a nice little paranoia-inducing tale. It's about fear of aging, fear of losing power and significance, of being replaced by a newer model. It's about the struggle for power between authoritarian entities (police, army) and the problem of The Greater Good. It's also about the perils of harnessing the human mind's latent psychic powers to predict and police future crime.
"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (aka 'Total Recall') featured a very different wife and a cute twist ending that are completely unlike what you see in the cinematic versions.
"Paycheck" is also about memory loss related to top-secret employment at a mysterious company, struggles between giant corporations and governments for power, revolution and future-predicting technology.
"Second Variety" is a future man vs. machine war scenario which I found extremely creepy thanks to the expert reading by the narrator of the audio book version. Also, being from May 1953 it predates Ellison's "Soldier from Tomorrow" by 4 years and is, in my mind, an equally solid predecessor to James Cameron's 'Terminator' story.
Lastly, "The Eyes Have It" was very short and more of a fun word experiment than an actual story with a plot (not my favourite).
The tone of these stories is terrific; it is simple and unadorned, with a stark 1950s flavour of authoritarian fatalism. Fear of the government, fear of police, fear of the Reds, fear of technology, fear of radiation and bombs and the future are what shapes these dystopian narratives. They have a delightfully old fashioned feeling for such a collection of futuristic, perennially fresh ideas. ...more
Well, I loved this: thought provoking, written with a luscious use of vocabulary and playful reinvention of accepted language, and driven by a trio ofWell, I loved this: thought provoking, written with a luscious use of vocabulary and playful reinvention of accepted language, and driven by a trio of characters that include a strong/sarcastic 15-year-old girl, a black/asian hacker nerd, and a bad-ass aboriginal dude. Good times.
Three of my favourite passages were: The advertisement for the Smartwheels on Y.T.'s plank; the thought processes of the Rat Things, especially Fido; and the Federal Government memo on austerity measures as they related to bureaucratic staff buying their own toilet paper. Sheer fucking hilarity.
The narrator reading the audiobook version (Jonathan Davis) was simply amazing. He managed to do a convincing job of making distinct voices for a cast of characters that included teenaged skater punks, elderly Italian mafiosos, a psychotic Russian, a mad Texan, and a series of Asian men speaking heavily accented Engrish. A virtuoso effort, to be applauded and savoured over 17 and a half hours of lyrical goodness.
I've seen a number of complaints about the racism, violence and sexuality that are all dealt with very bluntly in the text, but Stephenson writes without the inner editor that would make many writers tone down their dialogue or plotting for the sensitive stomachs of his unseen critics. He builds characters, then lets them have free rein over their dialogue. They speak in distinct voices, and move the plot forward at a good pace. This is America, Jack - there are harsh realities at play, lots of conclaves and groups that dislike one another both vocally and viscerally and are engaged in a fight to the death for dominance. If you can't handle watching the spectacle, go be an audience to a different storyteller who won't grate on your nerves.
The idea of a country that has abandoned the universal rule of law in favour of corporate citizenship is not as wildly far-fetched as this book's science-fiction label suggests. In the current economy, money is power and the rights of the individual are at constant war with the needs of the collective. It's not such an incredible leap of logic to see people banding together based on mutually held beliefs, motivations and fears that transcend the "lobby" system currently in place and evolve into new sovereign political bodies of their own. I enjoyed the idea of the Mafia versus a Church franchise, banding together in a marriage of convenience with a new Hong Kong franchise. Uncle Enzo is a delightful figure and a perfect counterpart to Raven.
There was, of course, as in all Neal Stephenson books, a point where I felt like the glossolalia that runs through the story had possessed the author himself. Forget the Librarian - I could have used Coles Notes to decode what the hell was going on.
In the scene where Hiro plays the detective revealing his findings to the assembled room of suspects, I deduced that L. Bob Rife had a master plan full of naughty machinations. However, I could not for the life of me keep track of the Dan-Brown-on-speed reinterpretation of early religious pseudo-history. Was Enki a bad guy? Was Asherah a help or a hindrance to mankind? What was going on with Judaism and the Torah and then Jesus and the resurrection?? No fucking clue. Everything got really murky with viruses and counter-viruses and in the end I tuned out, lost the thread of nam-shubs and may and babel, and let that scene roll by me, undigested and unfathomable.
It's not perfect, but it's a damn fine work of literature, and I'm glad I took the time to add it to my mental library. Thanks, Neal....more