This short story, freely available on the web, is a cute little slice-of-life tale of Temeraire in the covert. I was skeptical that Novik could pack m...moreThis short story, freely available on the web, is a cute little slice-of-life tale of Temeraire in the covert. I was skeptical that Novik could pack much into fewer than 2000 words, but it was enough to bring a smile to my face.
No humans appear in the story, which made me think about how throughout the series, Novik has done such a good job of providing the dragon point of view that I forgot how much I usually hate reading things from the viewpoint of non-humanoids. (less)
The night I met Christina, we had a conversation about reading. We discovered that we were each in the middle of reading three different books at the...moreThe night I met Christina, we had a conversation about reading. We discovered that we were each in the middle of reading three different books at the same time. They were completely different types of books. I concluded from that conversation that we didn't have that much in common. I can be dense some time.
More Baths, Less Talking is a collection of monthly columns Nick Hornby wrote about the books he had read that month. I have almost no interest in reading any of the books he discusses, but I have learned something since 2000. Having someone witty and erudite discuss books you're not going to read is perhaps better than discussing books you've already read. You expand your horizons, without the time sink of actually reading the books in question.
I've been a fan of Hornby's writing since I read Fever Pitch. I'm happy enough with his novels, but I think I prefer him in essay form. This is the fourth collection of columns, and I will probably go back and read the other three if they're released for Kindle.(less)
This was a quick, funny read, with a few literal laugh-out-load moments. I imagine I relate to this the way a 70s mom would have related to Erma Bombe...moreThis was a quick, funny read, with a few literal laugh-out-load moments. I imagine I relate to this the way a 70s mom would have related to Erma Bombeck.
If you're familiar with Magary's work on Deadspin, this is much the same, but better-edited. That means the crudeness is toned down (but not eliminated). I still wouldn't read it to my wife (as I did with Manhood for Amateurs and Home Game when she was pregnant) because of the occasional off-putting reference to "penis meat" or something like that.
Still, the descriptions are spot-on for parents of young children, from the frustrations of trying to give a 3-year-old a bath to the fact that changing a poopy diaper is awful not so much for the poop as the inconvenience. Bonus points because as a fellow suburban Maryland dad, I could relate to specific references, whether it was taking your kid to Children's Hospital in DC for an appointment, or recoiling in horror from the ticket price for the Baltimore Aquarium.
Underneath the crudeness and humor, Magary is a surprisingly touching writer. The book opens and closes with a serious tale about his third kid, who was born prematurely and spent considerable time in the NICU. Although our boys were not in as much jeopardy as his son, I thought he captured the feelings of a parent of preemies very well.(less)
I found that Fan Mail was the perfect book to read as an ebook, because I could wander off to Wikipedia and find out what had happened to a player since Hornby's writing.
I often wish I had the time to follow the Premier League or the Champions League -- I only actually follow the international game. This book makes me wish I had that time, and I feel certain that if I could have Nick Hornby as a guide, I would follow whatever soccer he wrote about.(less)
I was surprised that this is one of the lower-rated books in the Vorkosigan Saga. Or, rather, I was surprised that give it was lower-rated, that I lik...moreI was surprised that this is one of the lower-rated books in the Vorkosigan Saga. Or, rather, I was surprised that give it was lower-rated, that I liked it better than most of the others.
The one thing I feel that is missing from most of the books is the "big picture" questions that science fiction is capable of addressing. In this books, issues of gender that Bujold addresses obliquely in other books come to the fore.
Some other reviews felt that homosexuality is addressed in an outdated way, since the book was written in the 1980s. I would say, rather, that the book treats it in a 1980s way rather than a 2010s way. Gay relationships would be more likely in the foreground in a modern book, and the absence of gay marriage seems odd for the future.
On the other hand, one of the advantages of writing a far-future saga is that you can say, "well, maybe gay marriage went away." Certainly other "progressive" reforms (democracy?) are absent from many of the societies in this universe, so it isn't shocking that gay marriage wouldn't be mentioned.(less)
This collection of three novellas goes from strength to strength. All feature Bujold's character Miles Vorkosigan, who should be familiar to most peop...moreThis collection of three novellas goes from strength to strength. All feature Bujold's character Miles Vorkosigan, who should be familiar to most people interested in this book (though the book would serve as a nice introduction to the character, for those not fixated on reading order).
"The Mountains of Morning" is about Miles' investigation of an infanticide in a backwater on his home planet of Barrayar. I heard an interview where Bujold said that Barrayar represents our experience in the 20th century and the sudden technological change. That connection is very apparent here. I was afraid that a story about infanticide would be a) depressing and b) milked for sentiment, but while sadness and sentiment are present, they don't detract from the story.
"Labyrinth", like many of the Vorkosigan stories, starts out as one kind of story and changes direction at least once before the end. It's funny, and touches on the question of what it means to respect others' humanity and their differences.
"The Borders of Infinity" finds Miles in a prison camp from which there is apparently no escape. On the one hand, figuring out how to maintain humanity in the face of such brutality made me think of Primo Levi. On the other hand, the reader knows that the series doesn't end here, so something has to happen to save him. I was hoping it wouldn't seem like a cheesy coincidence, and it doesn't.(less)