It's a rather disjointed book, with the first chapter only making sense once you've reached the very end. Richard MacDuff, a computer programmer, is dating the sister of his employer, Gordon Way, and doing a lousy job of it. He's invited to a Coleridge memorial dinner at his alma mater. St. Cedd's, by Professor Urban Chronotis, his counselor.
Something rather odd happens at the dinner, which ties in with the nastiness that occurs to Gordon. Dirk, a former schoolmate of Richard's, gets involved and finds out just how odd everything is turning out to be. And this is before they meet the Electric Monk.
I don't suppose it's a very typical (or maybe even good) mystery, but it's a fun read with the typical Adamsian turns of phrase:
"[He] had a memory that he himself had once compared to the Queen Alexandra Birdwing Butterfly, in that it was colorful, flitted about prettily hither & thither, and was now, alas, almost completely extinct."
"The word impossible is not in my dictionary ... in fact everything between herring & marmalade seems to be missing."
Recommended reading once you've covered the first 3 books or so of the Hitchhiker's increasingly-inaccurately-named trilogy. (less)
I'd wanted to re-read I, Robot this summer, before seeing the only-tangentially-related movie, but some SOB stole/lost the library's copy & the on...moreI'd wanted to re-read I, Robot this summer, before seeing the only-tangentially-related movie, but some SOB stole/lost the library's copy & the only copies I could find locally had Will Smith's smug face all over them.
I found a lovely hardback edition with an artsy dust cover still intact at the used bookstore last weekend & restrained myself from devouring the short story collection in one gulp. While I found that I remembered the majority of the denouements, (with poor Donovan & Powell bearing the brunt of the end-runs around the Laws) I still enjoyed the journey within each story, watching the puzzle pieces come together for the characters. I think "Liar!" is my favorite; how *does* one deal with a telepathic robot who must follow the Laws?
While the stories certainly have dated elements, both technological and sociological, they continue to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. Growing up, I wanted to be a little like Susan Calvin.
Recommended reading to anyone looking for the classics of science fiction.(less)
I remembered the basic plot of this novel (2 young Jewish men create a comic book hero in New York) but h...morePreviously read Jan 2003 - audiobook May 2012
I remembered the basic plot of this novel (2 young Jewish men create a comic book hero in New York) but had forgotten how much of their lives we follow, including the tumultuous events touched off by January 6, 1941. The "magical realism" I referenced in my original review isn't really there - the Golem of Prague doesn't play out the way I hoped it would. I'd also forgotten the awful pun Chabon makes based on one of the character's surnames... :^)
A compelling novel with engaging characters (and a few real-life cameos thrown in) and a plot that meanders a bit, but in a good way. The audiobook, performed by David Colacci, is nicely done; I especially liked Kavalier's accent!
------ Previous review: Quite enjoyable - a touch of (for lack of a better term) magical realism and intertwining historical & fictional characters.(less)
Checked out Lost in a Good Book after refreshing my memory of Thursday Next by re-reading The Eyre A...morePreviously read June 2004 - audiobook March 2012.
Checked out Lost in a Good Book after refreshing my memory of Thursday Next by re-reading The Eyre Affair. [later purchased this]
The second book starts with Thursday as a semi-newlywed, continuing her work with SpecOps 27, the Literary Detectives Division. In between giving unwilling interviews, being harassed by Goliath and determining whether a newly-discovered play really was by Shakespeare, she is introduced to the Department of Jursifiction; run by those in the bookworld to make sure the stories stay straight. Several bizarre attempts on Thursday's life are made, Schitt-Hawse of Goliath teams up with her father's nemesis, Lavoisier to eradicate Thursday's husband...oh, and did I mention that a sibling of Acheron Hades makes an appearance?
This installment of the Thursday Next series is a little more free-wheeling, with the multiple story threads weaving in and out (and sometimes getting tied in knots). The humour and literary in-jokes are as abundant as in the first book - though I wish the Library had been more how Borges described it. Dedicated mystery readers may be a little frustrated with the non-traditional plot, but general bibliophiles should have a rollicking good time. (less)
Thoroughly enjoying the audiobook version as read by Lenny Henry - not only does he totally "get" Gaiman's writing style, his characterizations of Fat...moreThoroughly enjoying the audiobook version as read by Lenny Henry - not only does he totally "get" Gaiman's writing style, his characterizations of Fat Charlie and Spider, and even Rosie and Mrs. Higgler are spot-on.
------------------------------------ Apparently I was too busy to write a thorough review: [posted 22 Jan 2006] "Read thru Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - his latest novel & great fun to read. Will post a more cogent review later over in my reading LJ." (less)
I first read Good Omens while on an extended business trip in June 2001 & fell in love with this novel. It's been & will continue to be a favo...moreI first read Good Omens while on an extended business trip in June 2001 & fell in love with this novel. It's been & will continue to be a favorite re-read every few years or so. (Re-read May 2004 & listening to audiobook Jun-Jul 2011)
The story involves the birth of the Antichrist (and subsequent mixup at the hospital), an unlikely friendship between Crowley (a demon) and Aziraphale (an angel) and Anathema Device - the umpteenth-granddaughter of Agnes Nutter, a prophetess who got everything right, in a manner of speaking.
A sense of the absurd blends beautifully with an examination of good and evil - there's individual bits & pieces that are obviously Gaiman or Pratchett, but the overall effect is seamless - a combination of the best effort of both, IMHO.
Recommended to anyone who is a fan of either Pratchett or Gaiman - as well as those with a dry sense of humour about Armageddon.
The audiobook is also very well done - Crowley's voice is just PERFECT! (less)
Jodi Wheeler Perrone is tossed overboard off a cruise ship by her sleazy husband, who is mixed up in a shady, anti-environmental deal. She survives -...moreJodi Wheeler Perrone is tossed overboard off a cruise ship by her sleazy husband, who is mixed up in a shady, anti-environmental deal. She survives - and, with the help of a beach bum/ex-cop named Mick Stranahan... plots to make his life hell. Hiaasen's talent for oddball plots & quirky characters continues in this novel - tho from the reviews, it looks as if I'll be unsatisfied with the ending. (less)
Borrowed the audiobook from Indiana Digital Media in Sept 2010 and enjoyed it - Chad Lowe was the narrator and did quite a good job. It was worth revi...moreBorrowed the audiobook from Indiana Digital Media in Sept 2010 and enjoyed it - Chad Lowe was the narrator and did quite a good job. It was worth revisiting and is a good intro to Hiassen - just be warned that most of his other works tend to be more adult in content (sex & violence)
-------------- Previously Read July 2003 Hoot was a pass-along from my mom in February - it sat in the To read box until now. I didn't realize it was a YA book until I read the back cover blurb after I was done. I passed it along to a middle school who wanted to build a classroom set of the books.
We meet Roy Eberhardt - a recent transplant to Florida from Montana (among other places) who, while getting assaulted by the school bully, sees a barefoot boy about his age running away from the bus. He is intrigued and decides to try to track down this kid. We also meet Curly, a construction foreman for Mother Paula's All American Pancake House, who is running into some rather clever vandalism at the building site.
Even if you already see how these two stories intertwine, I think you'll still enjoy reading this novel. Hiaasen makes some environmental statements without being obnoxious about it, and does a good job of portraying middle school life while allowing his characters personality quirks.
A quick, but worthwhile read - good for the beach or any other light reading environment. (less)
Fisher Stevens does an awesome job of reading this novel! I'd forgotten about the squirrel people & in fact, most of the last third of the book -...moreFisher Stevens does an awesome job of reading this novel! I'd forgotten about the squirrel people & in fact, most of the last third of the book - so it was great to revisit Charlie and his adventures.
Previously read Nov 2006
Urban fantasy with a warped sense of humour - set in the same San Francisco of Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck; with some character overlap.
I really enjoy Moore's twisted take on both the fantasy genre and larger elements of life, the universe & everything (see also Lamb). (less)
LIB REQ 6/3 - Audiobook version. Started 11 Jun 2008 - Fisher Stevens is a good reader & apparently having a lot of fun with it!
-----------------...moreLIB REQ 6/3 - Audiobook version. Started 11 Jun 2008 - Fisher Stevens is a good reader & apparently having a lot of fun with it!
-------------------------- Previously read 1 Sep 2003 Both irreverent and true to its source, Lamb is the Gospel of Levi (called Biff) - a young man who grew up with Jesus and accompanied him on his travels to find the Three Wise Men before he came back to preach in Israel. While I'm no biblical scholar, I could see the detail and research that went into the writing of this book, as well some of the places where history was bent to suit the plot.
The frame story is Biff writing his Gospel in a hotel room, having been brought back from the dead by an angel, who has very little understanding of the modern-day. Moore jumps back & forth between this frame & the actual story several times at the beginning, but then lets the plot take off on its own.
If you're expecting a laugh-a-minute satire on fundamental Christianity - you're looking in the wrong place. If on the other hand, you're willing to try a funny, yet thoughtful story, where Jesus studies Eastern philosophy as well as Jewish thought, spends most of his life unsure of what is expected of him, and has a not-entirely-comic sidekick, I think you'll enjoy this book.(less)
Pterry revisits Tiffany Aching, a young farmgirl with great potential and a friend to the Wee Free Men....morePreviously read March 2006 - audiobook Feb 2012
Pterry revisits Tiffany Aching, a young farmgirl with great potential and a friend to the Wee Free Men... the hooligans of the fairy world.
Tiffany is leaving The Chalk to become a witch's apprentice.... however, she's not leaving her home alone. Some ... entity ... is watching and following her.
I'm a big fan of Pratchett's work - and I enjoy this alternate exploration of Discworld through a young person's eyes and experience. Granny/Mistress Weatherwax makes a substantial cameo - but the story belongs to Tiffany. Recommended to any fantasy fan with a sense of humour. (less)
Tiffany Aching, a shepherd's daughter with a mind of her own (she read the entire dictionary because noone had ever told her not to), meets up with what are supposed to be mythical creatures. This is due to The Queen of Fairyland invading Tiffany's world, and abducting her perpetually sticky little brother. With the help of the Wee Free Men (aka pictsies) and armed with a frying pan, Tiffany goes into the Queen's territory to rescue her brother and defend her world.
IMHO, Pratchett continues to improve as a writer and I've already added this book to my wish list.
Thoughts after listening to audiobook Jan 2012
I quite enjoyed "meeting" Tiffany Aching again and seeing how her personality has developed a bit as she's grown. Stephen Briggs once again brings Pratchett's words to life in a delightful narration - these Yank ears were thankful the Nac Mac Feegle accent wasn't too thick. I do feel I'm missing out a bit at not being able to identify the cultural aspects of the other accents - I'm assuming Tiffany Aching is a country gel, and Roland sounds quite the Upper Class Twit, but what about the Queen? (less)
Mary Roach investigates the world of the cadaver and how they are used in medical, military and safety environments. She writ...morePreviously read July 2003
Mary Roach investigates the world of the cadaver and how they are used in medical, military and safety environments. She writes with both humour (at one point eschewing the word "maggots" and using "a pleasant sounding word, hacienda" instead) and sensitivity (thanking the cadavers themselves in her afterword) on the subject. Some of the descriptions get a bit graphic, but at the same time it was fascinating to read about the various purposes to which bodies donated to science are put.
For anyone interested in learning more about this subject - I highly recommend this book. (less)
Revisiting this novel via audiobook & found myself wishing I'd re-read Bloodsucking Fiendsfirst; however, I got ca...moreListened to audiobook Oct 2011.
Revisiting this novel via audiobook & found myself wishing I'd re-read Bloodsucking Fiendsfirst; however, I got caught back up in Moore's saga of modern vampire love pretty quickly. The addition of Abby Normal was a hoot, and the narrator (Susan Bennett) does an an outstanding job with the character voices - she *nailed* Abby, and I really enjoyed William (the Huge Cat Guy)as well.
Not sure how I've missed out on Bite Me- will be adding that to the To-Read list next.
--------- Previously read Sep 2007
This novel picks up pretty much where Bloodsucking Fiends ends - Jody has turned Tommy to a vampire, and they seem to have Elijah, the vampire that started the whole thing, taken care of. They start to live their lives as best they can - recruiting goth chick Abby Normal as a new minion. However, The Animals start causing chaos with their new friend, a blue-skinned Vegas call girl.. and Elijah isn't out of the picture yet.
Both novels are pretty enjoyable - not quite parodies of the Anne Rice/Kelly Armstrong genre & but definitely poking a bit of fun. The characters are entertaining - the Emperor of San Francisco being one of my favorite recurring characters - and the plot moves along well with only a few quirks. (less)
Unfortunately, I don't seem to have written a review of this YA novel around the time I read it; several months later, it's difficult to remember part...moreUnfortunately, I don't seem to have written a review of this YA novel around the time I read it; several months later, it's difficult to remember particulars, other than I really enjoyed both the premise and the plot and found the main character quite absorbing.
Into chapter 3, where the family takes the Grand Tour of Europe in 1869. I'm really enjoying the story of this...moreBorrowed audiobook from CrankyAsAnOldMan
Into chapter 3, where the family takes the Grand Tour of Europe in 1869. I'm really enjoying the story of this remarkable family & am impressed by the amount of history McCullough brings in to the narrative. Wonderfully narrated by Edward Herrmann (with some sort of interstitial/pinch hitting by a woman)- I'd like to find more of his work as well! ... I really feel as if I've gotten to know this family, as well as quite a bit about the time period. I found the descriptions of Teddy's Badlands experience fascinating, as I had family in the area a few decades later.
It's main topic is the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but he's managed to discuss all sorts of semi-related (but interesting) things so far... and I'm...moreIt's main topic is the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but he's managed to discuss all sorts of semi-related (but interesting) things so far... and I'm only in chapter 2! It's a 10-hr audiobook that I'll probably be listening to mostly while working, so not sure how much I'll actually absorb; I think I do better while reading & taking notes. ... Up to Chapter 5 - he's spent an amazing amount of time on geology & plate tectonics, various & sundry other earthquakes of the 1800's, as well as some history of California. I've been listening at work & really only paying partial attention, but some of the fact-heavy material has got to stick. The touches of dry humour and Winchester's reading voice are what's keeping my interest.
Stalled sometime soon after that - probably ought to either check out the book or wait for a long road trip.(less)
It's an interesting, if disjointed look at the life of Buffalo Bill Cody, with a good deal of history thrown in. Annie Oakley gets a bit of short shri...moreIt's an interesting, if disjointed look at the life of Buffalo Bill Cody, with a good deal of history thrown in. Annie Oakley gets a bit of short shrift, IMHO, and I've noticed a lot of repetition - sometimes the same exact sentence/phrase, it seems. Still worth a listen/read if you're interested in the myth of the Wild West & how it started. (less)
Audiobook that kept me company during the drive; had been on my To Read list & the narrator made it an even more engrossing story. Very much of it...moreAudiobook that kept me company during the drive; had been on my To Read list & the narrator made it an even more engrossing story. Very much of its time - sexism & devil-may-care attitude abound. (less)
Decided to give the Temeraire series another read/listen thru after reading the latest in the series Blood of Tyrants; perhaps the next (last?) book w...moreDecided to give the Temeraire series another read/listen thru after reading the latest in the series Blood of Tyrants; perhaps the next (last?) book will be out by the time I get thru these.
---------- Previously read Feb 2008 - audiobook May 6-17 2011 I'm not normally into military/naval fiction, but the alt-fantasy twist got me quite intrigued and I found myself enjoying a ripping good yarn*!
While I couldn't help thinking of the dragons of Pern every once in awhile, Novik's portrayal of these dragons does not feel like a copy of McCaffrey's -- they're MUCH bigger and the military environment is very different. Novik's dragons also talk (vs being telepaths) and while there are male and female dragons (and riders), so far the romance/sex has been very muted. ----------- * It didn't hurt that I envisioned Laurence as Norrington from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (rrrow!)(less)
Previously read July 2005 - listened to audiobook Feb/Mar 2011
Whales on Stilts! was a Nancy Pearl recommendation, courtesy of NPR's Morning Edition. A...morePreviously read July 2005 - listened to audiobook Feb/Mar 2011
Whales on Stilts! was a Nancy Pearl recommendation, courtesy of NPR's Morning Edition. A very quick read; I finished it in about an hour between last night & this morning.
Lily, an average twelve-year old girl goes to work with her dad on Career Day. She starts to suspect something when they pull up to an abandoned warehouse (labeled as such) and pass through what looks like a mad scientist's lab. Her suspicions grow when she meets Larry, her dad's boss, who wears a sack over his head (with eyeholes) and whose hand is rather blue & rubbery.
She shares her thoughts with her two best friends, Katie Mulligan, inadvertent star of the Horror Hollow series of books, in which she fights off various & sundry supernatural beasties; and Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, also the star of a series of books, as well as a shill for Gargletine. The three of them develop a plan to discover what's going on (the title of the book kinda gives it away) and then another plan to defeat the ambulatory cetatceans.
I got quite a few giggles out of this book; the authorial tone is similar to Lemony Snicket (tho not nearly so melancholy) and the footnotes are at times Pratchettesque. Anderson rides the very fine line between being cleverly entertaining and too cute for the room. There's plenty of in-jokes for adults reading to their children (such as the Gargletine gag), and the writing carries the lightweight (if not downright silly) plot along nicely.
Recommended to fans of irreverent young adult fare.(less)
Enjoying this memoir again - it honestly feels as if Wilder is telling you his story, not just reading it...moreFirst listened: Aug 2005 - revisited Jun 2011
Enjoying this memoir again - it honestly feels as if Wilder is telling you his story, not just reading it, perhaps due to the "frame story" of Wilder talking to his therapist for the first 2/3 or so of the book. It works well overall, but is occasionally jarring.
This memoir is a good retrospective of his life, acting career and relationship with women, including Gilda Radner. I had forgotten he dealt with cance twice - once with Gilda and once in his own fight with non-Hodgkins' lymphoma. I've enjoyed the majority of his films that I've seen and feel he would be very entertaining to talk to, and probably quite likable, in spite of some of his past behavior. (less)
Recently enjoyed the audiobook version of this book on a plane ride - read by Neil Gaiman himself, it was a delightful revisit to this dark fairy-tale...moreRecently enjoyed the audiobook version of this book on a plane ride - read by Neil Gaiman himself, it was a delightful revisit to this dark fairy-tale. ---------------------------------- Previously read Jan 2004 After seeing oodles of recommendations, and considering Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, I finally checked this YA novel out from the library and finished it in an hour or so.
A dark fairy-tale about Coraline, an adventurous & very bored girl who feels ignored by her parents and dismissed by her neighbors. She discovers a door in their flat that now leads to an alternate version of the house, and meets the "other mother" who has long red fingernails and black button eyes. She tries to do everything to convince Coraline to stay -- making her favorite foods and promising to love her, but after talking to the cat (who can travel between the worlds at will), Coraline becomes suspicious. She visits back and forth a couple of times, finally returning home to find her real parents are gone.
I love the way Gaiman writes, combining dry humour with evocative phrases -- the "other mother" & her world just becomes more eerie as the story progresses, and the suspense builds nicely. Recommended to those (kids & adults) who like their spooky stories on wry.
Quotes "Look - here's a piece of paper and a pen. Count all the doors and windows. List everything blue. Mount an expedition to discover the water tank. And leave me alone to work." -- Chapter I
"We... we could be friends, you know," said Coraline. "We could be rare specimens of an exotic breed of African dancing elephants," said the cat. -- Chapter IV
"She wants something to love, I think," said the cat. "Something that isn't her. She might want something to eat as well. It's hard to tell with creatures like that." -- Chapter V
"What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I wanted? Just like that and it didn't mean anything?" -- Chapter X(less)
I checked out the audiobook version of The American Dream from the library so I'd have something to listen to on my trip this weekend - if I'm driving...moreI checked out the audiobook version of The American Dream from the library so I'd have something to listen to on my trip this weekend - if I'm driving by myself, I'd rather listen to talking than music, as it keeps me more alert.
Dan Rather first touched on the concept of exploring the American Dreams of men & women around the country in short segments on the CBS Evening News. He then took the idea and expanded it into this book. Each chapter revolves around a topic such as Service, Fame or Education. He discusses how that topic touched his life, then talks about 2-3 people whose story also touches on that concept.
There's definitely a liberal bias to the stories he chose and the way they are presented, but it was still a pleasant diversion for the hours I was on the road. Please note the audiobook is abridged - I may go back & read the book itself at some point. (less)
Listened to the audiobook to prep for the second & third books in the MaddAddam series - I'd remembered the basic plotline & characters fairly...moreListened to the audiobook to prep for the second & third books in the MaddAddam series - I'd remembered the basic plotline & characters fairly well, but had forgotten the cliffhanger ending. The narrator, Campbell Scott did an excellent job with Jimmy/Snowman, and a decent job with Oryx though his other voices weren't as strong.
The novel definitely holds up, especially with additional advances in genetics. racunks and pigoons seem even more possible today, as do the various A New You and Rejuvenessence treatments.
--------------- Previously read June 2009 & Aug 2003
I actually read through this a few weekends ago - but have been waiting on some online friends to finish so we can discuss it. I was hoping to get through another speed-read, but it goes back to the library tomorrow.
The story, told in flashback form, is about Jimmy/Snowman and Crake (I don't remember his "real" name offhand), who meet as children in a company-run school; and Oryx, a lovely young woman with a mysterious past who becomes the third point of the triangle. Genetic manipulation is commonplace in this society - replacement organs for humans are grown in pigoons; ChickenNobs are a common fast food, even video games pit mutant creatures against one another. Society is also divided into those who live & work for in the corporation Compounds and the pleebands, who live unregulated in the cities.
Jimmy's parents are (or in the case of his mother, were)genetic engineers - he tries to follow in their path and discovers he is better suited to doing with words what they do with DNA - manipulation and distortion. Crake, on the other hand, is a genius at genetic engineering and drug development.
I don't know what more to say without giving too much away... it's an intriguing read, whether you go along with the politics or not.(less)