My incomplete education strikes again. How did I miss out on this one as a child? Enchanted statues, magic rings, Ugly-Wuglies, secret passages, EdwarMy incomplete education strikes again. How did I miss out on this one as a child? Enchanted statues, magic rings, Ugly-Wuglies, secret passages, Edwardian time frame...really good stuff that younger me would have been completely wild for. Older me was pretty delighted as well. ...more
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this at first, and then when I did I couldn't put it down. SimGen, a big biotech company has created a slave race by enI wasn't sure I wanted to read this at first, and then when I did I couldn't put it down. SimGen, a big biotech company has created a slave race by engineering the DNA of chimps and humans--the Sims--to do menial and dangerous labor that humans don't want to do. Of course, greed, money and the Department of Defense get involved, and you can guess the rest.
Wonderfully written, with a shocker at the end that I didn't see coming. It was a great introduction to an author who has turned out to be a favorite of mine....more
Prostitutes, laudanum, mayhem and absolutely gorgeous writing set in 1862 silver-mining Nevada. 'Picaresque' doesn't begin to describe this novel, byProstitutes, laudanum, mayhem and absolutely gorgeous writing set in 1862 silver-mining Nevada. 'Picaresque' doesn't begin to describe this novel, by British playwright Chris Hannan, who takes great delight in showing off the ugly, unromantic side of the American West that never would have been featured in a John Wayne movie.
The story unfolds through the eyes of Dol McQueen, a flash girl with an adventurous spirit and one hell of a laundanum habit, who comes into possession of a rum crate full of opium with a seriously dangerous origin on her way from San Francisco to the silver mines in Nevada.
Dol has a wonderfully eccentric and gorgeous way with words, and it was often like reading poetry, which I love. Of course, this also made it rather slow reading, as I would get involved with a particular passage and have to walk away and think about it for a while. Did people in 1862 really talk like this? I certainly hope so.
“The din was something like a ship being made, but instead of a conglomeration of hammers and iron the noise was built out of laughter and gin. There were too many gents for the ladies and some of the extra ones were playing a form of baseball where glasses were pitched and the batter laid into them in classy style with the leg of a chair. The broken glass went over the dancers, some of it, and some sprinkled on the table where the wedding cake was. It was looking rather forlorn, and a young lady—whose hair had been undone by liquor and her emotions—made a heartfelt plea on its behalf. The baseball players were unmoved, though.”
"The poorest miner in Virginia City won't strip off for less than four scads. Us girls might take off our shirts for six but only after we've squawked about it; we generally earn more per diem than a senator, and our reputations are less spotted in the eyes of the public."
“He was the kind you like to be alone with. He had black, black eyes and a smile that took about a minute to develop. In Nieri’s he scrupled over his choice of words, for, being a freethinker, he would not entrust the ruined girl to the care of God, not for anything. In the end he decided it would be a harmless deceit if he ventured to trust that the Eternal Mind of the Universe would guide the skirt through the dark and hopeless days ahead. I suggested that grim had a better sound than dark—grim and hopeless days ahead.”
“I’d nursed a hope that landing up in shantytown would bring Mama to her senses—that she would learn her lesson at long last and change her ways—but I could see right off the opposite had happened. I guess when Life gives a person a good kicking, it teaches them a painful lesson; it teaches them they don’t want to learn any more lessons, and it makes them harder and more fractious than ever.”
(That last one I know from experience to be true.) ...more
This one is for fans of Dame Helen and film and theatre addicts (I qualify as all three), and takes you on a tour of her life, from her background (aThis one is for fans of Dame Helen and film and theatre addicts (I qualify as all three), and takes you on a tour of her life, from her background (a Russian émigré father, East End London mother and growing up in Essex) to her early years in the theatre (including a wild trip through Africa with Peter Brook) to her marriage to director Taylor Hackford and winning the Oscar for "The Queen". Her life is so fascinating, and she is so completely cool and modest and funny that I found myself even more in love with her after reading the book than I was before.
The photographs are always my favorite part of any biography, and this beauty is simply chockablock with them, from every stage of her life, including some wild, experimental shots .
Those looking for gossip and dirt, though, will be disappointed; Ms. Mirren does not dish. (Which I totally respect and adore, although I do wish she had provided some illumination on the supposedly legendary 'endowment' of Liam Neeson, whom she lived with for four years. I've heard the rumors, and I keep freeze-framing my DVD of "Rob Roy", but I can't quite be sure.)...more
This one was fun, pure and simple. It's a first-rate techno-thriller, switching off by chapters between a group of black-ops CIA agents hunting a deadThis one was fun, pure and simple. It's a first-rate techno-thriller, switching off by chapters between a group of black-ops CIA agents hunting a deadly infection and a former University of Michigan football player who HAS the infection, with lots of sly humor thrown in, as it doesn't for one moment take itself too seriously (something that makes some entries in this genre so ponderous). Oh yeah, it's exceedingly gory and gross, but, given how it's written, I found the gore more fascinating than disturbing. Sigler is a talented storyteller, and I'd like to see more of his work....more
"Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World" is the subtitle, which probably explains everything. I first read it back in 2002 when it first came"Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World" is the subtitle, which probably explains everything. I first read it back in 2002 when it first came out (he began writing it in 2000), found it rather chilling, and hung onto it to read again in a few years. Eight years later, I was fascinated by how many of the things he wrote about turned out worse than he could have possibly imagined....more
A memoir by a Canadian journalist who has suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder most of her life. It bumped along kind of listlessly until the auA memoir by a Canadian journalist who has suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder most of her life. It bumped along kind of listlessly until the author got to the chapters about how some cultures foster anxiety and some don't and her own rather horrifying experiences with the drug Effexor--then I was rivited....more