This short novella features a secretive dragon, an abandoned baby, the impetuous daughter of an Emperor, and a (surprising) smattering of Chinese reciThis short novella features a secretive dragon, an abandoned baby, the impetuous daughter of an Emperor, and a (surprising) smattering of Chinese recipes. Joyce Chng has a vivid descriptive style, and Xiao Xiao is a winning protagonist. I received this as a gift when I was sick, and it was a light and easy read, the perfect thing to enjoy while convalescing. Be warned: it ends on a cliff-hanger, so you'll be waiting, as I am, for a sequel. ...more
A fluffy beach read. The pacing could have been better, and the heroine's princely love interest was unfortunately dull. However, I liked the protagonA fluffy beach read. The pacing could have been better, and the heroine's princely love interest was unfortunately dull. However, I liked the protagonist very much....more
I enjoyed this comic very much. It has a pleasing Doctor Whovian quality about it and features a spunky young girl who willingly enters a trans-planetI enjoyed this comic very much. It has a pleasing Doctor Whovian quality about it and features a spunky young girl who willingly enters a trans-planetary wormhole to rescue her best friend. The comic has some very interesting storytelling techniques, with lots of indirection and subtle passages that reward an attentive reader. I've given it only four stars because I think this comic works well for older children, but the mix of a extremely young heroine and a very dangerous situation could be a mismatch for many younger readers. With a planet on the verge of destruction, a friend about to be sacrificed by cultists, and scary monsters and killer robots running rampant, this comic feels more appropriate for a middle-grade audience. But Zita and her companion are depicted as being very young, which gives the impression that the book is intended for a much younger audience. Probably best for 7-10 year-olds who don't mind scary situations....more
Very beautiful comic, with lush depictions of Turkish landscape. Heroine is fully feisty, her lieutenant honor-bound but gradually drawn to a life ofVery beautiful comic, with lush depictions of Turkish landscape. Heroine is fully feisty, her lieutenant honor-bound but gradually drawn to a life of danger and adventure....more
I picked this up on a whim, hoping for a light palate cleanser after reading the dark thriller "The Girl on the Train." Crazy Rich Asians attempts toI picked this up on a whim, hoping for a light palate cleanser after reading the dark thriller "The Girl on the Train." Crazy Rich Asians attempts to be a modern-day Pride and Prejudice, set among the UHNWIs (ultra high net worth individuals) of Singapore. There were plenty of beachy, shopoholicious, jet-setting details to enjoy, but unfortunately, the main characters were not particularly likeable. The heroine has a PhD in economics, but no brain or spine or real passion for anything. Her boyfriend (secretly heir to billions) is an utterly clueless boy-child. We have no one to root for, except perhaps the generous and jilted Darcy-like character Charles Wu, who was completely secondary to the main plot and only really showed up on page 300 or so. Anyhow, the book was disappointing. I shall have to find my guilty pleasures elsewhere. ...more
Oh yes, I loved this. Bleak and uncomfortable and very Scottish while unmistakably in Gaiman's distinctive voice.
Gaiman's purpose in this short work iOh yes, I loved this. Bleak and uncomfortable and very Scottish while unmistakably in Gaiman's distinctive voice.
Gaiman's purpose in this short work is to show how human beings willingly accommodate themselves to evil. But he also depicts the process by which the light goes out of the world, replacing the vitality of new experience with the burden of memory. Consider this beautiful passage:
“I am old now, or at least, I am no longer young, and everything I see reminds me of something else I’ve seen, such that I see nothing for the first time. A bonny girl, her hair fiery red, reminds me only of another hundred such lasses, and their mothers, and what they were as they grew, and what they looked like when they died. It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things."...more
Every January, I make plans for a better year. I buy Moleskine notebooks. I read a bunch of self-improvement articles. I make a list of my goals. ThisEvery January, I make plans for a better year. I buy Moleskine notebooks. I read a bunch of self-improvement articles. I make a list of my goals. This year, I added The Power of Less to the mix. Babauta's text is like a concise version of Get Things Done, filled with exhortations to focus your attention, build good habits, avoid email time-sinks, and go after the most important tasks.
If you're already the sort of person who works hard on building good habits and prioritizing goals, this book may seem overly simple. But I like keeping things simple. That's the point, isn't it?
Holly Black makes a glorious return to the world of Fairie in The Darkest Part of the Forest. This is a novel about family, identity, and secrets.
A feHolly Black makes a glorious return to the world of Fairie in The Darkest Part of the Forest. This is a novel about family, identity, and secrets.
A few things Holly Black understands better than anyone: tormented sibling relationships, the urgent jealousies of young love, the damage inflicted by dysfunctional parenting.
A few things Holly Black conveys better than anyone: the capricious morality of the immortal Fey, the seductive appeal and ultimate disappointments of normal life, the outsider's struggle to find a place in the world.
Here's a favorite quote: "They never talked about the big, looming, awful stuff from Ben's childhood. They never talked about the dead body Hazel found in the woods or the way Mom and Dad had let them roam around alone out there in the first place. He had always assumed that was the family compact, that they each got their own well of bitterness and they were supposed to tend to it without bothering anyone else."...more
My love for this beautiful novel has a lot to do with Mandel's restrained focus on the world of the imagination. She could have chosen to play up theMy love for this beautiful novel has a lot to do with Mandel's restrained focus on the world of the imagination. She could have chosen to play up the dystopian horrors of her post-apocalyptic setting, but instead she's written a novel about beauty and hope, those precious and insubstantial things that keep us from sleepwalking through our lives.
In the opening scene, fake snow falls inside a theater, and a girl named Kristin watches in shock as the actor playing King Lear dies onstage. Outside the theater, another storm is brewing, and days later a flu pandemic has brought civilization to a state of collapse. Kristin somehow survives over the years to join a traveling theater company, taking refuge from the impossible horrors of her existence by entering the magical forest realm of A Midsummer Night's Dream. For just a few hours each day, the violent world recedes, taking with it her memories and regrets, and she is transformed, becoming Titania, queen of the fairies.
This is a novel with echoes of King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and (especially) The Tempest. Mandel reminds us that Shakespeare himself was haunted by senseless, early death, having lost several siblings and his own son. The theaters where he performed were periodically shut down by plague. Yet his plays endure, placing us in their dreamlike realms of possibility and hope. In Station Eleven, Mandel creates a world without Internet, libraries, or television. (Not to mention hospitals, electricity, antibiotics, or dentists.) Yet human beings still have a terrific longing for beauty, whether it's a self-published comic book that somehow survived the apocalypse, or a small paperweight with storm clouds brewing inside. Regardless of what they've lost, how could people live without art? Creating art means so much in this novel, the musicians in the traveling orchestra have given up their old names, becoming "third cello" or "tuba" or "clarinet" instead. It's not a bad idea.
Mandel has a number of POV characters in Station Eleven, all of them haunted by the desire to remember the bright world they've lost, a desire continually at odds with the need to forget things and survive. Clark, a corporate consultant in the days before the collapse, becomes a curator of history in the dark ages that follow, treasuring the ordinary objects he'd once passed by without a thought. Just before the flu pandemic strikes, he realizes he'd been sleepwalking through adulthood, hardly aware of his surroundings, disappointed in his life but unwilling to admit it, even to himself. "When was the last time he'd been truly moved by anything?" he asks himself. "When had he last felt awe or inspiration?" How could he have allowed himself to live without wonder, only "minimally present" to the beauty of this world?
Near the end of the novel, when Clark is an old man, his world entirely confined to an abandoned airport, he and Kristin share something that fills them with awe and inspiration. If we're lucky, we can share their sense of wonder. A brave new world lies before us, so how can we fail to be moved?