The Case of Death and Honey - Neil Gaiman I'm a bigger fan of Gaiman's graphic novels than his fiction but I really enjoyed this story of Sherlock HolThe Case of Death and Honey - Neil Gaiman I'm a bigger fan of Gaiman's graphic novels than his fiction but I really enjoyed this story of Sherlock Holmes in China - and there are bees!
The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees - E. Lily Yu This was one fantastic story. A kind of fable. And written by an undergraduate student to boot. I am so looking forward to reading more by Yu.
Tidal Forces - Caitlin R Kiernan After two great - and bee-related - stories, this one's scifi/fantasy component was a bit more subtle. But it was interesting. And complicated. ...more
I’m 50 or so pages away from finishing Patrick Ness’ The Knife of a Never Letting Go. I started it yesterday afternoon, downloading it from Overdrive. I’m 50 or so pages away from finishing Patrick Ness’ The Knife of a Never Letting Go. I started it yesterday afternoon, downloading it from Overdrive. And read. And read. And read. I would’ve finished it but it was my bedtime and with wee reader around, I stick to my bedtime because he enjoys waking me up just before 6. So I put away the iPad with reluctance, and went to sleep. But not before I figured out why that song Ben sings sounded so familiar. It’s Spike’s trigger song (I just finished the Buffy series, so it’s all still fresh in my mind).
Ok I’m going too far ahead. Let’s backtrack. Patrick Ness is a name I’ve been hearing around the blogosphere for quite a while now. And so when happened to be browsing the Overdrive catalogue on the computer (overdrive users- did you know that their online catalogue is different from their mobile version? At least for the Singapore library catalogue that I use. The regular version has far more books, including this one, which is a PDF file, and if I’m not wrong, the mobile version only shows ePUB ebooks), I happened upon his books. And I was delighted!
The Knife of Never Letting Go has an interesting premise. Young Todd Hewitt is a month away from becoming a man. He is the last boy in Prentisstown. He lives in a world with no women (they are all dead) and everyone can hear the thoughts of men and animals (what do sheep think? Sheep). He has this delightful little dog named Manchee, loyal and amusing in a doggy-thought way (Squirrel! Squirrel!) (If Ness came up with a book just about Manchee, I think that would sell. He is a delight!). Imagine living with the thoughts of your neighbours and friends and family bombarding your brain every minute of every day. Noise indeed!
Ness is rather clever in the unfolding of his plot. He plunges the reader into this world rather convincingly, and it is one that surprises and then shocks. There is the great secret, the great history of Prentisstown, that everyone except Todd – and the reader – knows. Ness throws out these hints here and there, and you get the hint, you know what is coming up next, but you wait in anticipation for Todd to find out (and really, there’s a part of you who hopes it’s not true).
Sometimes when reading YA, I have to remind myself that these are teenagers/kids, and that kids do silly things. And here, Todd does some silly things, and some rather brave ones. It isn’t easy to like him. In face, I spent most of the book wishing it weren’t about him. Yet there were some other wonderful characters, like Manchee and the other people that Todd meets. Plus that idea of Noise, that one’s thoughts are constantly spilling out into the space around you. It isn’t the most original of thoughts, but the way that it is portrayed in the book, it is rather compelling.
The Knife of Never Letting Go is not a book for the fainthearted. There is all manner of foul in here – violence, murder, language (as in both swearing and deliberate misspellings). And perhaps worst of all, the ending is, as the Booklist review puts it: “as effective as a shot to the gut”. This is the thing I hate about series. In this case, you can’t just have that first book, you need the second one at hand – and I’m guessing the third and final book too? And yes, I have finished the book, and yes, I went GAAAAHhhh….. And yes, I immediately turned on my computer to download the second book. And yes, I checked to see if Overdrive has the third book, and unfortunately, the answer is no. So just to be safe and sane, I checked my physical library and woohoo! It’s available. A trip to the library it is then!...more
I’ve been staggering my Company reads, because I’m all too quickly running out of them!
The Life of the World to Come is book number five out of a totaI’ve been staggering my Company reads, because I’m all too quickly running out of them!
The Life of the World to Come is book number five out of a total of nine. Four more books! Just four! What else will I read when I’m done (ok that is a silly question, for there is so much more to read, even by the wonderful late Kage Baker herself).
Let’s have a quick look at that cover, shall we? Now that is an example of a really bad one. I would never pick up a book with a cover like that! It’s rather cheesy and pretending to be futuristic. And really doesn’t reflect the book – or the series – well at all.
And back to the book. Baker has finally brought us to Zeus. Or rather, the three eccentric men who work for Dr Zeus and created the tall dark hero who keeps appearing in Baker’s earlier books and charming the pants off of our dear botanist Mendoza (re: In the Garden of Iden, Mendoza in Hollywood). So while it opens with Mendoza, still exiled in Back Way Back, this fifth book is more about Alec Checkerfield, an Earl and not-quite-human. Fascinating fellow, yes. But could we get more from Mendoza, please?
So in this, the fifth book, more about the world at large is revealed, secrets are uncovered, and there are hints of erm, well, The Life of the World to Come....more
I really like going into a book with no expectations, with hardly any idea of what the plot is. Because sometimes a book surprises you. Like ElizabethI really like going into a book with no expectations, with hardly any idea of what the plot is. Because sometimes a book surprises you. Like Elizabeth Moon’s Remnant Population did with me.
And so it began one day with me scrolling through the Singapore library’s Overdrive collection, the Science Fiction category in particular. I’m not sure why I landed on Remnant Population. Perhaps it was the author’s name. Elizabeth Moon. It just sounded like a pretty awesome name to me – Chinese surnames aren’t exactly very interesting, are they? The title – and the cover art – already suggested that this was some kind of space colony-related work. And yeah, that’s what it is.
So here’s the story, if you care to find out. If you prefer to go in blind, you probably should stop here. Ofelia has lived for over 40 years on this colony planet, the more recent few with her son and daughter-in-law, but now the colonists are to be shipped off after the company loses its franchise. She takes matters into her own hands and hides out in the woods while the evacuation proceeds. Ofelia is glad to be the only human on this planet. But she soon discovers that she’s not alone…
Dum dum DUM!
Well no, it’s not a horror-alien kind of story. Instead, the ‘aliens’ (they are actually indigenous to the planet, but for some reason have never come into contact with the colonists before – perhaps this part of the story is a little bit harder to believe) are intelligent, and are actually kind of endearing. And while Ofelia teaches them things, she learns plenty from them in exchange.
The human-alien interaction is interesting – and occasionally amusing – but what I enjoyed most were the very physicalness of Ofelia’s life on the planet. I’ve never read a book that made me want to go out into my (rather sad) little backyard (I’m so not a gardener and my 8 plants reflect this) and stand in the sun and wish I had a field full of vegetables plump and ripe for the picking. I wanted to sink my fingers into the earth and inhale that green-ness.
Ah, a girl can dream. And in my case, read plenty....more
Molly Gloss has written an intriguing, quiet book that speaks volumes in The Dazzle of Day. This is a very international book. Escaping from a dying EMolly Gloss has written an intriguing, quiet book that speaks volumes in The Dazzle of Day. This is a very international book. Escaping from a dying Earth, Quakers from various countries (they speak Esperanto!) have found themselves a home on board the Dusty Miller, a self-sustaining but ageing spaceship. A crew has been sent out to explore a frozen planet as a possible future home. Bjoro is among the crew, and the planet isn’t something he’s prepared for:
“He had thought in the filmcards he had studied of unbounded landscapes, of storms and snows and seas, there remained no surprises. It hadn’t occurred to him, the vast depth of the third dimension. He hadn’t thought he would fear the sky.”
The funny thing about The Dazzle of Day is that nothing seems to be happening, although things are actually happening. The crew crashes on the frozen planet, someone dies when out working on the sail, all major events that are but a sideline to the relationships, to the tales of the daily lives of these Quakers, such as Bjoro’s wife Joko and son Cejo, these people who work the fields, who cook in the kitchen houses, who take part in meetings and discuss their future on this frozen planet, who look after their families and each other.
“For 175 years they had gone on talking and thinking and making ready for leaving this world. They had lived for 175 years in a kind of suspended state, a continual waiting for change, but it was a balanced and deep-grounded condition, an equilibrium. They knew their world, root and branch, knew its history and its economies. The human life of the Miller and the life of its soil and its plants and animals revolved together, in a society that was well-considered, a community that was sustaining. Some people thought they had lived for 175 years in a world that was a kind of Eden.”
But there are no answers. Or at least the book doesn’t leave us with any firm ones.
The Dazzle of Day is a book best described in opposites. There is an ending, but it is not really the end. It is a story of beginnings and endings. The words are quiet, but also full of strength and understanding....more
Alas and alack, The Beginning Place is not beginning well for me. And there will be no ending because I am going to give it up and look for greener paAlas and alack, The Beginning Place is not beginning well for me. And there will be no ending because I am going to give it up and look for greener pastures. The story of Hugh Rogers, price checker at a supermarket who lives with his mother within walking distance of his workplace is not doing anything for me. I didn’t really care what this sad example of a man was doing running towards a stream. His life was just a little pathetic and I didn’t want to find out what happens to him. I was just thinking of how we first meet Ged in A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1). I guess writers have their, um, off-books...more