This is the story of Garrett McNamara, a surfer from Hawaii who holds a Guinness record for surfing the worlds largest wave. This wave, incidentally,This is the story of Garrett McNamara, a surfer from Hawaii who holds a Guinness record for surfing the worlds largest wave. This wave, incidentally, is off Nazare, Portugal and the events surrounding that wave are a very exciting section at the end of the book.
Autobiography or Biography? Not sure; the main author is clearly McNammara, and his voice is so strong and individualistic that the book very much feels like a straightforward person telling you about themselves, there are no literary flourishes. There is a co-author given, though not one I had heard of.
For about the first hundred pages, this is the story of how McNamara and his brother grew up. This was very much the 60's - 70's hippy, commune era and their growing up was very unusual by today's standards. This part is interesting though after a while I started getting impatient to get back to the ocean. I think that a whole book could be written about this era and that it was trimmed down to anecdotes that the author felt helped shape the core of who is is. This part also suffered a little from continuity problems (more on that latter) and I personally cringed at the childish animal cruelty stores that the author.authors seem to find amusing and endearing.
When we reached Hawaii it became fascinating!
Personally, I am not a surfer. I did one lesson on my 30th birthday, I nearly killed myself with my own board and the two students next to me were lucky to escape un-maimed. I don't even know anyone who surfs. What I am is an ocean addict, anything marine fascinates me and it is very hard to find books which capture the joy, fascination, awe and sheer blood pounding amazement of the oceans and seas. This visceral response to the ocean seems to be very much a feature for surfers though, so I enjoyed this book on that level.
Hawaii of the 70's? 80's? was fascinating to read about, the surf culture was unique in so many ways and I loved reading about the surrounds in which McNamara became a pro-surfer. The culture and the place were clearly a big part in shaping him and I really enjoyed the blunt, uncompromising way in which he describes himself and his journey to becoming who he is today. He did some pretty dumb and pretty unconscious things but I certainly respect the way he owns them without excuses and then evolves his own mindfulness and goes his own way . The point in his life in which he looks around at who and where he is, decides consciously what he wants it to be and then gives anything to following that goal is inspirational. He does that at the stage when most people just accept that there life is what it is and give up their dreams. I loved that he did change it around and became a pro surfer of large waves much older than more pro surfers seem to make it.
Now of the ocean; the deep understanding of how waves work, how all the factors including the wind and the shore line shapes them and the sea beneath them affects the wave show an ongoing obsession with the ocean and it's moods, the very thing I like to read about but which is rarely written. Also, the deep respect for the oceans that produce waves and which are untamed and often unpredictable comes through in the writing quite beautifully. The lyrical descriptions of the waves and barrels are everything that made me start keeping an eye out for books by/about surfers.
The negatives of this book are in the writing style which is often, very often, totally disorganised: It chops and changes a lot time wise, so that much of the time we can lose track of on ongoing narrative. We often don't know what year we are reading about and that actually bothered me more in the childhood section (where it is likely the author himself isn't certain) than in the later part of the book. As well as what year, there seems a strong tendency to mix the timeline up, so as a continuous narrative it often fails. There is one section where as a surfer McNamara goes to Tahiti, then he describes a surfing experience that happened years before (I think) then we skipped to present day, then to a different location....
It seems that we follow the authors personal experiences of the waves, sites and individuals in a way that is a linear experience for him, which on the whole does not impair the strengths of the book but may leave some readers adrift. I was able to largely gloss over timeline or location confusion and concentrate on the actual surfing experiences, which are beautifully described, the wipe-outs which are terrifying exciting and as the cover says: Wild.
PS. I seem to have got the budget version, while the online description mentioned colour photos, mine had only a few, well chosen black and whites. ...more
Beauty is a clever and skillful retelling of a fairy story or two. Or two? Well, it does not really stick to a single fairy story but rather borrows lBeauty is a clever and skillful retelling of a fairy story or two. Or two? Well, it does not really stick to a single fairy story but rather borrows liberally from many.
When I acquired it I imagined it would be a fairly straightforward retelling of Beauty and the Beast, after a while it became clear it was a retelling of the sleeping beauty. Next I realised that the author was trickily fooling the reader by twirling all the fairy tales that fit onto a single metaphorical spindle and then weaving the results into an entirely new and unexpected story.
In a way, it is less of a fairy tale than I expected or hoped for, I love re-telling of old tales and by amalgamating so many different elements most of the underlying imagery and morals of classic fairy tales is lost. However I did very much enjoy the resultant story and would like to read more of the series.
The book is enhanced by the lovely illustrations which give it more of the fairy tale element.
Word of caution; the target audience of this book may be confusing, because in a way, with the mythic element and the illustrations it may come across as young adult. It seems to me more suited to real adults since the themes of sex and violence, while not explicit, are too strongly woven into the story and too nuanced to be suited to really young teenagers whose parents may restrict their reading access....more
I am trying to find the words for the depth of my disappointment and disdain for this book:
The House of Four Winds is book one of 'One dozen daughtersI am trying to find the words for the depth of my disappointment and disdain for this book:
The House of Four Winds is book one of 'One dozen daughters' a series that is likely to follow the fortunes of all twelve of the daughters of Swansgard as they go to seek their fortunes, I hope I can be strong and avoid the next eleven.
World-building: Inadequate. Seems to be a kind of mish-mash of historical/fantasy. Swansgard and its surrounding neigbours are obviously loosely based on Europe, though everything has been fancifully renamed. This is not something that would bother me if any of the world were explained or expanded on, but it is not, it just is. Era? Well, there are rapiers and travel by horse, make a guess. Pistols were around 14th-15th century but are absent from this world, the Americas were settled by 16th but at their height in the 19th and though they are given another name that seems to be where our heroine is meant to be heading on her 'adventure'. Fantasy; there is magic and quite a bit of it, but the rules, why and wherefore of the magic are not entered into so it is murky. Feminism, confused and confusing, there are allegedly women sailors, in some kind of navy somewhere. Clarice's parents teach their daughters to earn their own livelihood and kick them out of home on their own to find it. However, Clarice dresses as a man to make things easier. Go figure.
Oh, yes, she spends weeks on this ship with no washing water and not a single man, even her best friend, or the doctor, figure out she is a woman. Despite Clarice behaving ultra feminine in terms of mannerisms. And also, have neither of the authors heard of pheromones?
The ship makes no sense for any era that I can imagine. The long corridors you could lose your way in? A massive captains cabin? Passenger rooms under the water line? What sort of ship is this? The Titanic? And Clarice 'not knowing anything about ships' does not excuse the authors from research. It just makes no sense!
Clarice wants to become a swordsmaster and make a living by instruction, the adventure is to increase her credibility so that she can attract students with her reputation. Never mind that posing as a man means she won't get any reputation, but never once in all the weeks we follow her does she train, exercise or practice her skill in any way at all. She does not even read a book about fighting and we don't get to see her early training, so as a fighter she has zero or less credibility. There is only one, poorly described sword fight in the entire book. This is beyond pathetic and I don't understand why, Lackey at least has written sword training scenes in other books.
Don't get me started on the characters.
All in all this book was bland, poorly written and unbelievably lazy.
This is a number three, and I read it before the number two. Damn you Marvel
Because all the plot lines and characters were set up in the #2 which I haThis is a number three, and I read it before the number two. Damn you Marvel
Because all the plot lines and characters were set up in the #2 which I had not read, I was mostly at sea reading this. I went back after and re-read it but still, not the same.
I found the artwork in this book much more exciting than in the previous one, not as formulaic and much better motion scenes. The use of red in the night scenes to pick out Natalya's hair especially, I thought it gave focus and set the scene for those frames. There were plenty of variable frame action shots, which I like and the use of heavy black lines and flood coloring to emphasis strong emotions worked well for me.
It did occures to me that the reason I liked the art in this one so much more might be that the story could barely hold me and I had more conscious attention for the art work.
In this one Natalya is one angry little uber bitch bent on causing mayhem for reasons that were a little mysterious to this reader. She obviously killed a few people in an earlier part of her story and so lots of people want to kill her back. Having read the previous book one still didn't entirely help with the level of vindictiveness that drives a few of the 'bad guy' characters. Natalya herself is simultaneously angry bitch from hell and helpless victim in a way that did not really rock my boat.
Sally Anne made no sense to me and it was not just because I had not read the first part of the story; even after I read the first part of the story I got no basis for understanding the obsession with a single random stranger.
The appearances of Fury and Matt seemed redundant (though I imagine it was setting us up for future storylines, I suspect I am not engaged enough to pursue them), though I did quite like the inclusion of Yelena her constant 'to the rescue' appearances were a bit deus ex machina....more
In this graphic novel Natalya, aka The Black Widow has retired from her life as a spy for Nick Fury and is living in a desert in America on her own teIn this graphic novel Natalya, aka The Black Widow has retired from her life as a spy for Nick Fury and is living in a desert in America on her own terms. Then someone comes along and unkindly tried to kill her. This does not go well for him of course and the black widow concludes that he was sent to assassinate her (Which, I have to say, is a MASSIVE leap of interpretive logic, given the numbers of uncaught serial killers estimated to be at large in the US and operating on deserted roads, targeting single, hot females) but of course she is right because, well, comic book logic.
She collects an ex-spy who owes her a favor and goes searching for the rhyme and reason of it all.
This is a pretty well written story and I enjoyed it, some back story for Black Widow which was an engrossing theme, well done and interesting. Watching her as a loose canon was also enjoyable because it is so different to watching her be a SHIELD operative.
The artwork was, I regret to say, pretty patchy: At times beautiful and dynamic at other times it was lazy and often very formulaic. Those times it was beautiful though you end up with genuinely haunting images, such as the fade to sepia frames and minimalist line drawing of Black Widow training program transitioning through to the stark, bright colours and heavy black outlines of modern day Natalya's relisation of how she was made.
Also, beware; this book is one of two and I read it second. I blame Marvel, they are big enough to label properly and not everyone surfs the net every time they pick up something to read.
A word on the story line based on other reviews: If this story really is trying to be feminist, it fails dismally. The 'we hate all men, they are all scumbags' made me roll my eyes, the lesbian cop stereotype was, indeed, stereotypical also black widows being phenomenally induced to be subservient to men, while having a useful reason for being as a plot element was otherwise lame. I also resented that Black Widows complex, interesting relationship with Nick Fury had been trivialised so badly.
I only mention the 'strong female'/feminist aspect because you cant seem to read a review without it being mentioned. That said, in my opinion Marvel stories and superhuman women in general are not suited to being interpreted that way at all and this story is no exception. Black widow, with her skin tight outfits and biologically unfeasible small waist is really an idealised fantasy (even when she is not being drawn with her ass stuck out at those ridiculous angles that comics favour for women). It is what it is, I like the genera and I ind of think that anyone who can't cope with the fantasy element should go read something else.
This was a very nice story of a future Slayer, an effective cyberpunk comic with lashings of Shadowrun.
The graphic novel of Fray will work as well forThis was a very nice story of a future Slayer, an effective cyberpunk comic with lashings of Shadowrun.
The graphic novel of Fray will work as well for readers that were never into Buffy or Angel as it will for those who were fans. There are a couple of small nods to the Slayers that have gone before but there is no real need to know their stories.
Fray lives in a future slum, in a future world where she makes a living by theft 'grabbing' for a mutated crime boss. She has never heard of Vampires but she hates 'lurks', she thinks little of her super strength and flexibility because she lives in a world with plenty of augmented people 'pumps' who can match her. And given the mutations around her she does not freak out when a demon appears in her flat to tell her she is the Slayer...
The graphics are dynamic and quite beautiful in their own right as well as perfectly complementing Joss Whedon's story....more
A fascinating, convoluted science fiction novel with an ending I certainly never saw coming.
Our protagonist, Zakalwe, is an agent working for a nebuloA fascinating, convoluted science fiction novel with an ending I certainly never saw coming.
Our protagonist, Zakalwe, is an agent working for a nebulously defined group called the 'Culture'. Their stated objective to change the destinies of planets and societies to suite the long term goals of the Culture. While they are represented through the book as humane and guiding societies to 'better' evolution, as a reader one remains unconvinced. We see these machinations through the eyes of Zakalwe who is used, basically, as a warmonger when military action is the tool most useful to the Culture.
Throughout the story we see a lot of the wars, campaigns, bloodshed and intrigue and that is a rollicking good bit of science fiction/space opera or the fighting kind. The story is also built carefully with interconnected, non-linear experiences of our protagonist as his history and background are slowly built up to the fascinating ending.
Thoroughly recommend to anyone who likes the genera, though I suspect the non-linear storytelling is not for everyone as one is occasionally confused as to what part of the timeline one is in. Personally I mostly liked the way this made for a more intriguing reading experience, I thought it worked very well here.
This was the first in the series I read and although it is actually the third in the series it is well enough written that reading out of sequence is just fine....more