I have no memory of buying this book. But I obviously did at some point, because it was sitting on my shelves as I browsed looking for something to re
I have no memory of buying this book. But I obviously did at some point, because it was sitting on my shelves as I browsed looking for something to read. And I'm not sure why I picked it up to read this time as I thought I was looking for something more light-hearted. A quick read. Still, this was the one I picked, a classic historical fiction first published in 1970 telling the story of "General Maximus and Rome's Last Stand". It is not quick read.
But it is a very good one.
General Maximus is our narrator, he is telling the story of his own life, and that of the end of the Roman empire. It is a quite a dense book, and at first I will admit I thought that I'd made a mistake and that I wasn't going to enjoy it at all. It seemed on the dry and dusty side, but as I read on I realised that it wasn't at all. It is never going to be an in-depth look at the characters or full of stirring heroics. At least not in an overt way. But the writing manages to make you care about this general and his unwavering sense of duty.
I often have issues with historical novels set in the Roman empire, especially when they tell the tales from the Roman POV. I know that the Roman Empire did many great things, ((thank you Monty Python's Life of Brian)) but it was also an empire founded on blood on conquest, and a belief that the Roman way was the best, the only way. I object to that, and also to the dismissal of all other people's at the time as "barbarians".
Eagle in the snow does have a Roman general as it's first person narrator, so of course it is going to give that Roman point of view, but Maximus' perspective does allow for some recognition of the barbarians as people, and he certainly is not above criticising the empire and its corruption.
It is a book all about soldiering, but not the sword and sandals sort, this is the tactics and the actual management of men. Yes, battles feature, but so too does the important of quartermasters and supplies. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in historical fiction.
As I said, it's style isn't one I often enjoy, but Breem's writing did more than enough to keep me entertained in the whole story.
"Aravis reminds me of why I wrote A Wind in Cairo, which is partly about correcting the issues I saw in The Horse and His Boy, and mostly about girls and horses. And the Crusades. From the other side."
And lets face it, that sounds plain awesome!
And I loved the book. I think that if I had read it as a teenager it would have been one of those books I read and reread and then reread some more.
Tarr's writing is just so easy to read, and it is so evocative. You feel as though you are in the middle of the scenes.
But, there is a huge issue at the heart of this book. And that is, the crime Hasan is being punished for is rape. And I know a lot of people won't want to read the story of a rapist's redemption. It is a very understandable reaction.
I was very very worried that it was going to be a romance story between Hasan and the woman he rapes ((another unfortunate part is that she remains unnamed throughout the book)) but that is very definitely not on the cards. The reaction of the Hajji ((the woman's father)) when he discovers what Hasan has done is, thankfully, outrage, anger, and disgust at what Hasan has done. There isn't even the slightest hint of victim blaming.
Still, the story does revolve around Hasan learning just what a dick he has been and learning and growing.
But! but it is also the story of Zamaniyah and she is brilliant. I loved her character so much. After her brothers were killed in war he father decided that his only surviving child should be raised as though she were a boy. He doesn't try to pretend she is male, she dresses as a boy and is educated as a boy. She is aware of all the benefits this brings her, but it also makes her an outsider, both to other women and to men. They all seem to distrust her. I really liked the way Tarr wrote her. She wants to do her duty, to do as her father commands, but she also knows that she cannot go on that way forever, and she isn't really sure what she herself wants.
Despite the fact that Zamaniyah is being raised in a world of men Tarr introduces other women into the story. Some have just fleeting parts to play, others stick around for longer, like Wiborada, who is a Frankish prisoner/concubine. Her story is another that I'd love to see more of, but you can't have everything in a book.
I do wish that Hasan has committed some other lesser crime. But then again, would a lesser crime have warranted being turned into a horse? And the crime he committed is never swept under the covers or minimised. Hasan is made to learn just what he did and how wrong it was. It takes time, and his journey isn't smooth, but he does come to an understanding why his rape was so terrible.
This is probably a book of limited appeal. A book about the history of Irish dog breeds isn’t exactly going to leap out at a huge amount of people. HoThis is probably a book of limited appeal. A book about the history of Irish dog breeds isn’t exactly going to leap out at a huge amount of people. However it is, in many ways, a very easy read. The author devotes a chapter, or two, to the various breeds. Where they came from, the history of the people involved in the breed and often a digression into the history of Ireland as well as the dogs themselves. It covers myth and folklore, from the tale of Gelert the legendary Welsh hound, to Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Bran, and contrasts that with the reality of breeding dogs and the problems that some “purebred” breeds now face.
I’m very ambivalent about people who love a specific breed to dog to the exclusion of all others. It always struck me as a bit weird, after all a dog is a dog. And just because you get a specific breed of dog that doesn’t mean that you will get an exact type of dog, there are wide variations within breeds. But then again, if you want a dog to do a specific job then you won’t have much look in trying to train your Jack Russell terrier to round up sheep. So I can understand why breeds are important.
And then you see so many dogs without homes. So many puppy-mill abuses. So much wrong with the dog breeding world. And then on the other hand, puppies are soooo cuuute!
So yeah, I’m ambivalent about pedigree dogs and dog breeding. In some small number of cases the exact breed it very important for pet owners, but in most cases it is much better to know the size, energy and general temperament of a dog. Things that cannot be guaranteed by breed.
Still, this is a very entertaining read. In some ways it is more of a sociological and historical look at Ireland’s recent history. In talking about the different breeds and the people who came to champion specific breeds Knox has to discuss history and culture and beliefs. In many ways dogs are victims of people’s ideas and notions. Whether that is recreating the Irish Wolfhound of old, or believing that an all red Setter is better than a red and white Setter. But people place great store by such strange things, they turn a breed of dog into a political symbol, or an indication of social class. This book really demonstrates how everything is political, and how people read meaning where very little, if any, exists. Or maybe that is just my reading? Maybe this book is just a recounting of the history of dogs and dog breeding in Ireland....more
My great Pratchett reread continues ((I did read Equal Rites but never got around to putting up a review)) .
This and Equal Rites are where the Discwor
My great Pratchett reread continues ((I did read Equal Rites but never got around to putting up a review)) .
This and Equal Rites are where the Discworld really starts to come alive for me. The previous two are much more slapstick humour and the germ of the idea of Discworld. Mort is where Death truly comes into his own. He, AND HIS TALKING IN CAPITALS, had been introduced before, but only in passing. Now he gets a whole book to himself. Well and his apprentice Mort ((I see what you did there Mr. Pratchett)) and his daughter ((adopted)) and his servant. Oh, and his horse, Binky. They all get to feature in great detail.
It's a great read, and if you've never read a Discworld book before this might be a good place to start. Sure, it isn't the first in the Discworld 'verse, but it is an easy introduction to the world and there isn't any backstory for you to catch up on. Course you'll recognise some of the incidental characters if you've read the previous books but you aren't missing out if you don't spot the familiar faces showing up.
It has plenty of humour, but it doesn't feel like it's just joke after joke with a bare plot added in as is sometimes the case of the first two Discworld novels. It is much more of a story, characters and plot combining to create humour instead of the other way around.
And don't forget, if you think you've missed out some of the references you can always take a look through the Annotated File for Mort
This is one of those books that I’ve been aware of for a while. The name does sort of stick out. I know it was very popular as a book club selection wThis is one of those books that I’ve been aware of for a while. The name does sort of stick out. I know it was very popular as a book club selection when it first came out, but I never actually read it. I’ll be honest, the title did put me off. So I’m very glad that it was chosen as a read for my book club as I doubt I would have read it otherwise, and then I’d be missing out. Because this is a really great read.
It is an epistolary novel, told in letters between Juliet and various people, her publisher, her childhood friend, and a whole host of people from Guernsey who formed the literary society of the book’s title. And it is a wonderful read. I’ll admit that I have a terrible habit of skipping headers, whether that be a chapter title or, in this case, the vital details that reveal who wrote the letter, I just can’t help myself. So at the start I was a bit “who’s saying this now?” but once I got a few pages in that didn’t bother me anymore, even when I continued to stupidly skip that information I could figure out pretty quickly from the context who was writing and who they were writing to. Plus I would often flick back to double check. But that’s my bad habit, I’m sure other people don’t do this with books.
The letters are all about books and reading, and war and occupation. Nazi Germany occupied Guernsey during the second world war and the people in the literary society tell Juliet their stories in their letters. But really it is a book all about people. It brushes on the terrible things that they do, and can have happen, but most of it is focused on the good that people do and the relationships they form, often in very trying and difficult situations. How relationships can help in the darkest times, but also how books can help. If you enjoy books where the characters have a love of reading then this is certainly one for you.
As I said, it certainly touches on some terrible things, this is a story set during war after all, and occupation is always a terrible things, plus this was Nazi Germany so there is an added level of horror there. But really it is a great read and I’d recommend it to everyone.
Also I really liked the character of Juliet. She’s smart and funny and always entertaining, even when she makes mistakes, because, lets face it, everyone does. I also thought that the book did a really good job of having her tell a lot of the story without her actually being right about a lot of things....more
At some point in the past I read Sunshine. And I loved it. I don't remember when I read it, I didn't review it on the blog or if I did it got lost in
At some point in the past I read Sunshine. And I loved it. I don't remember when I read it, I didn't review it on the blog or if I did it got lost in one of my moves along the way. I think it was the first time I remember reading Robin McKinley ((although it turned out that she was actually the author of one of my favourite books when I rediscovered The Hero and the Crown )) .
So when Renay & Ana discussed Sunshine on Fangirl Happy Hour I couldn't resist picking it up again and enjoying a reread. ((I think it is a reread of a reread if I'm being totally honest))
And I loved it again. It's such a great book.
I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again at some point, but I'm very much a character driven reader. If I love, or enjoy, or otherwise appreciate a character I'll forgive a lot in a book, and Sunshine is very much a character focused book. It is a character study in many ways. There is a plot, and awesome intricate but subtle world-building, but mainly it is the main character, Sunshine, and how she deals with her world. And she is such a real, grounded character. I loved her.
I thought her relationships with the people around her were just so believable and understandable. In short, this is a wonderful book that you should go read, and it has meant that I can never see a Robin McKinley book without thinking "ooohhh much read that".
The one thing about the book that's a bit hmmm, is the cover of my copy. It doesn't really shout "pick me" when you see it on the shelf. Although I do think it has a southern gothic sort of feel to it, so maybe it fits?
I read Fine's Delusions of Gender a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so when I saw she had another one coming out I knew I had to order it. It isI read Fine's Delusions of Gender a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so when I saw she had another one coming out I knew I had to order it. It is just as good as Delusions, and I would recommend it to anyone to read.
In this book Fine takes a look at testosterone and asks is it really the reason behind financial crisis, risk taking, and the differences between the sexes.
the short answer is no. The slightly longer, but still short version is that it has an important role to play but it is equally as important as all other hormones in the human body. For more go read the book, it is fascinating, interesting, funny and very readable. Fine has a great style. She weaves personal anecdotes in with scientific studies as well as her own speculation. She counters arguments with facts and figures, but never in a dry and boring way.
It is also a most quotable book, if you follow me on tumblr you may have noticed, if not click here for a selection and if that doesn't prompt you to think about trying this book I don't know what will.
One of my very favourite lines is Social events regulate gonadal events. I think it should be my new motto.
But apart from the writing style what she says in the book is important. She never says that there aren't differences between men and women, but she emphasizes that we cannot accurately tell what is causing those differences. From the moment we are born we are influenced by both genes and environment, and sometimes environment has a greater influence. Never mind the fact that when you average everything out there are more differences between men (or women) than between the sexes. Also, sex is a spectrum, not an either or. Stereotypes and hardline "men are like this" views do nobody any good.
People are people, and people are different to people in many many ways. And society and experience do a lot to shape people. If you think about the idea behind "privilege" for example you can see that influences how people of differing backgrounds see and act. It isn't what you were born with, it is how society around you that shapes what you were born with.
I've skimmed a few of the negative reviews on Goodreads and many of them seem to say "I don't agree with this so it is wrong" and some say that Fine wants to proclaim that there are no differences between men and women. Well, I've read the book and she makes it perfectly clear that there are differences, both in humans and in other species, what she is looking at is how innate those differences are and can they be altered? Also across the whole species are the differences really there. And in some cases she argues that, yes, they are. In others no, the variables even out across a large sample. Fine also points to numerous studies that show that just because X has been the way for so long, it doesn't mean it can't ever be altered.
Of course I came to the book on her side, so maybe I'm just agreeing with her because it supports my view of the world. I'm not a scientist and am not about to go through hundreds of studies in an attempt to prove myself wrong. However I have skimmed through some of those "men are from mars" type books, you know the sort that try to argue that all relationship differences exist because men are like this while women are like that, and in most cases I don't identify with the version of womanhood that they portray. So maybe I'm just an outlier, or maybe there is more to being a person than what is between your legs.
From what I remember I bought this book a few years ago because of Aarti’s A More Diverse Universe reading challenge. I didn’t get around to reading iFrom what I remember I bought this book a few years ago because of Aarti’s A More Diverse Universe reading challenge. I didn’t get around to reading it then, but for some reason it popped out at me when I went to shelve a different book. So I picked it up and started reading.
It is a non-fiction book, a look at the power of stories and how what we tell stories about is what we become. And also what we come from. How stories influence society and culture and therefore influence everything. And all told in a very readable, entertaining way. I really enjoyed it.
King writes in almost a conversational way which is easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to empathise with. He also covers a huge amount of ground. Not just the power of the story, but also history, colonialism, prejudice, racism and poverty. He has a huge amount to say and he writes intelligently about it all. He also references many other Native authors in his work, only one of whom I’ve read, so I must take a flick through his bibliography and see if there are others to pick up....more
The blurb for this book is very accurate as to the tone and feel of the book. It has all those epic fantasy tropes – a once great civilisation fallenThe blurb for this book is very accurate as to the tone and feel of the book. It has all those epic fantasy tropes – a once great civilisation fallen to ruin, a loner adventure – but then it undercuts that with the “talk about a guilt trip” and introduces a more real grounded feel to the story, plus a bit of humour. And if I had to describe The Ninth Rain in a few words, then epic fantasy with added humour, would certainly be a large part of it.
There is also plenty of action and swordplay, plus magic and witches, peril and adventure. It’s proper heroic fantasy, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. In other words, it is a really entertaining read.
I’ve read the first two books in Williams’ first series The Copper Cat trilogy and I will get to the final one. I did order it in the library, but I think the suppliers’ must have forgotten about it. I’ll have to follow up soon. I really enjoyed those books, but I think this is a step up for Williams. It feels much more of page-turner, and I really enjoyed the characters and their interactions. Noon especially I loved. But Vintage! I love this new development of epic fantasy having older women as heroes. We’ve had so many men who might be past their “prime” as heroes in popular culture, but very few women of a similar age. They still aren’t hugely numerous, but there was Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves had now this. More please.1 . It’d be nice if this was a trend that more stories took note of. Women don’t just disappear when they turn 262 .
I also really enjoyed the worldbuilding, the elvish/vampire culture that makes Ebora is really interesting, and gives a real sense of history to Williams’ creation. The Winnowry are pure evil, but also so believable, and somewhat understandable3 in a horrible way.
All in all The Ninth Rain certainly lived up to the pull quotes on the cover, as SFX said "A fresh take on classic tropes". Now I just have to wait for book two, and it doesn’t even have a publication date, this is the trouble with reading newly published books, but it is a problem I’m glad to have....more
I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now. I know when it was published there was a huge amount of buzz about it. And then the film adaptatiI’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now. I know when it was published there was a huge amount of buzz about it. And then the film adaptation came out, which I saw and thought was really good. But I never managed to get to the book until now, when my book club picked it as this month’s read.
It is a really interesting read. You’d think a story all about kidnapping and sexual slavery would be hugely depressing and harrowing, but by using Jack’s point of view Donoghue manages to make the story a more innocent one. The reader can see what is really going on, but Jack doesn’t know, so the reader is sheltered, in a way, from the true horrors of Ma’s experiences. If she had been our narrator this would have been such a tough book I don’t know if I would ever have read it. Jack has never known any world but Room, and he isn’t the focus of Old Nick’s violence, so while he does suffer it isn’t as visceral as it could have been. He creates a remove for the reader, which allows you to enjoy the book more. Or at least I think so.
That isn’t to say that this is an easy read, or that it glosses over the horror that is Ma’s kidnapping. It is just that Jack doesn’t understand and as the reader sees the world through his eyes it is a very different experience than it could have been.
I’m finding it very difficult to start this post for a number of reasons. First off, I don’t want to spoil too much, learning about the world Hurley hI’m finding it very difficult to start this post for a number of reasons. First off, I don’t want to spoil too much, learning about the world Hurley has created is a great part of this book. But also, I think that revealing some of the plot details may put people off this book, and for the wrong reason. If I tell you that this is a book about soldiers fighting for their survival and their world-ship’s survival, but then add that all the characters are female, some people are probably going to nope out. And in one way that’s their loss, but you can bet they wouldn’t react the same if the only characters in the book were men. Of course that wouldn’t work in this world, on account of a very unusual use for pregnancy and birth in the world-building.
There is also the fact that although gender is an important part of the book it isn’t a reason to read, or not read the book. It is just part of the story. Well, not “just”, it is an integral part of the story.
If you’re worried that a book about women won’t have enough action for you, well, that’s your own preconception that needs addressing right there, and I hate the fact that I’m even mentioning it, but it is something that I’ve read in other places. Women can’t write dark and violent. Well, Hurley proves that they can.
In fact that is the one flaw in this book, in my opinion. It is pretty violent and dark. Grimdark even. And I’m not usually a huge fan of that subgenre. Too much blood and gore and darkness for darkness’ sake. Here, though, it works. The world these characters inhabit is one full of threat and violence and the probability of destruction. Power makes right.
But it isn’t all that dark, and the hints of the wider world where life is continuing, albeit under extreme duress, were a nicely done addition. They didn’t alleviate any of the darkness, but provided characters that weren’t quite so weary as Zan and Jayd.
I think this is possibly my favourite fiction by Hurley, because it has that faintest hints of hope and characters’ who don’t live entirely in a world of darkness and violence. They are, of course, influenced by violence and the world in which they live, they just aren’t quite so grimdark about it all. I need that it of light to really enjoy a book I think. I like to be able to wish a character well, and that can be hard when there is misery upon misery in a book.
In short, this is a really good read, a page-turner that kept me reading “just one more chapter”, full of new and interesting world-building. Give it a go, even if you think it might not be for you, who knows, it might be… ...more