A collection of short stories loosely centered around introverted museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth. The stories could best be categorized as haun...moreA collection of short stories loosely centered around introverted museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth. The stories could best be categorized as haunting, cerebral, necromantic mysteries. They are old-fashioned horror stories in the style of H. P. Lovecraft, where much of the horror is insinuated rather than blatantly or graphically described. The stories are subtle, stylishly understated and disturbing.
In some stories I wished that quite not so much had been held back in the name of understatement. A few more chilling details to round out the endings would have made them great, not just good stories. But I still recommend this book. Perfect reading for a dark and stormy night. Just make sure to leave a light on. (less)
An entertaining collection of medical science fiction stories concerning Sector General, a huge multispecies space hospital. The author uses the stori...moreAn entertaining collection of medical science fiction stories concerning Sector General, a huge multispecies space hospital. The author uses the stories to offer viewpoints and ideas on inter-species relationships, ethics and beliefs. The language and social customs are a bit dated but the author has some intriguing ideas and I find the Sector General universe, where there is a constant positive vibe despite troubles, similar to the Star Trek universe. I would recommend pacing yourself on the stories, since they are more enjoyable a bit at a time, rather than burning through the book in one night.
This volume combines two prior Sector General publications: "Code Blue - Emergency" and "The Genocidal Healer". These stories take place in the middle of the Sector General sequence of stories and while reading the prior volumes is not necessary, it is highly recommended. (less)
An engrossing story of love, friendship, betrayal, hope, conquest and all the other themes that make for great fantasy.
I would classify this as "alte...moreAn engrossing story of love, friendship, betrayal, hope, conquest and all the other themes that make for great fantasy.
I would classify this as "alternative history", as it's based loosely on the unification of medieval Spain after its Islamic inhabitation. The three main characters are from three different cultures and it is their personal interactions against the larger political backdrop that make for such a richly woven, complex and absorbing tale. Unlike regular fantasy stories, there is no "good" or "evil" here. Just people from different cultures with different forces driving them, ultimately to collision.
I gave this five stars because of Kay's marvelous poetic language. Sublime and beautiful, it's a language of literary lyricism that sings deeply right to the heart. There really is no one else who writes quite like him. This one's a keeper.(less)
I was a lucky girl to win a copy of this mystery book through a blogland event.
I have read so many badly written books lately, you know .. the ones wh...moreI was a lucky girl to win a copy of this mystery book through a blogland event.
I have read so many badly written books lately, you know .. the ones where you wonder how it ever got published and if editors still exist? So it was delightfully refreshing to crack the covers on this one and find a well-written, smart mystery novel filled with great characters, luscious descriptions and page turning fun.
Keeping House takes place in the White House. Protagonist Gary Craig moves to Washington to work for newly-elected president Stan Taylor. Through a twist of events, vice president Martha Johnson becomes America's first female president and Gary her social secretary. It is discovered that a secret international terrorist group is plotting to control the White House and that their plans are well underway. Soon it becomes a race against the clock to unmask the bad guys and save Martha.
The author really knows her history with tons of fun historical details, from roses to White House decor. Also, the way she describes food! With Gary as social secretary there were so many mouth-watering food events described in lavish detail. Reading this book made me head for the kitchen more than once looking for gourmet snacks. I don't want to ruin any of the fun for you, but the mystery keeps you guessing with more than one shady character. I bet you can't guess it all, which is the mark of a well-written mystery. There are also a slew of memorable fun characters, like feisty old lady operatives, a spunky eidetic memory child, and a sassy always-got-your-back reporter that you will fall in love with.
I thought the title was very apt. Even though the story ranges through many physical locations this is, at it's a heart, a domestic novel. Which, combined with political White House intrigue, is a very rare and potent combination indeed. I loved the Jefferson scene in the beginning, because it explains the title and the tone of this book *perfectly*. If there is fault in the novel, it is when it briefly and rapidly spills over from the domestic to the romantic. It feels forced, but this otherwise small flaw in no way diminishes this excellent mystery.
I really enjoyed curling up with this at the end of the day. Keeping House is the first in a series of mysteries by Denise Tucker featuring famous houses. I will definitely be picking up the next House Mystery!(less)
I was introduced to Cory Doctorow through his excellent editorials in Make magazine. Always refreshing, clear and on point. When I learned he had writ...moreI was introduced to Cory Doctorow through his excellent editorials in Make magazine. Always refreshing, clear and on point. When I learned he had written books too, I had to take a peek.
A posthuman romp where mortality and money are things of the past and "Whuffie" is the cornerstone of a global reputation economy, this book would have been more fun to read if I had discovered it when it was first published in 2003. It predates online social networking now commonplace, yet perfectly embodies some of its tenets. Especially as seen in people's constant connection to and accessing of a real-time updated digital world. Today, it just seems a bit dated.
I give this book points for creativity, especially in its depiction of a meritocracy, a world economy based on coolness and respect rather than money or religion. A world which is incredibly detailed, realistically imaginable, and utterly relatable to our own society. Too bad it ends up seeming a shallow world, since what is popular doesn't always equate to what is high quality or most important, and what is well-respected depends heavily on how informed/educated voters are. In all, it seems a world ruled by whim.
As a posthuman book, I think it fails utterly. No death, no disfigurement, endless free energy, easy immortality, the ability to change your biological form into anything you can dream of ... and this is the best humanity can think of to do with it? Utopia looks pretty boring.(less)
This was a fun techno-geek romp. Full of political commentary for a post 9/11 world? You bet. Warning of the slippery slope we could find ourselves on...moreThis was a fun techno-geek romp. Full of political commentary for a post 9/11 world? You bet. Warning of the slippery slope we could find ourselves on in the balance between personal freedom and security? Definitely. Ideas you should give some serious thought to as a voting citizen in a democracy. Yep, that too. But it was also a really fun read.
Set in the near future where a terrorist attack has occurred in San Francisco, we follow the life of “w1n5t0n” (aka Marcus), a 17 year old high school student. Early on in the story he is detained and interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security. Upon release he vows to fight back against an increasingly frightening world where liberty is under siege in the name of safety using his considerable technological skills. He attempts to stage a revolution, or at least to make some kind of difference, even if it's only to be true to what he believes.
My inner geek loved the info-dumps on hacking, technology and security. They were integral to the story and the protagonist's actions of course, but also infinitely fascinating and informative. How do you see the world when hacking is a state of mind? How does the world look from the point of the paranoid? It really makes you think about how technology is integrated into our daily lives, how pervasive it can be and what an important issue privacy is in an increasingly monitored world.
It's been a long time since I was a teenager, but it was easy to time travel and relate to the teenage hero. Doctorow's conversational writing style has the teenage "voice" down pretty perfect. This is a young adult book, but I think it could easily be enjoyed by adults as well.(less)
**spoiler alert** Brilliant representation of the poor Chinese immigrant experience from a child's point of view, blended with a coming of age story w...more**spoiler alert** Brilliant representation of the poor Chinese immigrant experience from a child's point of view, blended with a coming of age story where self-possession becomes a form of survival.
Kimberly and her mother are new immigrants who arrive with hope only to endure a life of grinding poverty: Living in a rat and roach infested building slated to be demolished, working for a pittance in a garment sweatshop factory employing illegal working conditions and pay, enduring winters with no heat, scavenging garbage for basic needs, ... all with the horrible knowledge, often unvoiced, that the future might not hold anything different.
Set against the background of the culture of Chinatown vs. the affluence of the privileged in America, Kwok uses education as the road between worlds. It is education that eventually transports Kimberly from her past into her future. Personally, I find it rare, and therefore very refreshing, for novels to depict women heroines brilliant in math and science. Even more so for them not to abdicate their scientific passions by the end of the novel for one reason or another. Which makes this an exceptional novel in any genre.
Language-wise this is a delicious book to read. Kwok's trick of writing the dialogue exactly as Kimberly hears it (written out phonetically) is a brilliant touch to show the bewilderment of functioning in a culturally alien environment where you are not linguistically fluent. Another brilliant touch is the translated Chinese saying and idioms that are sprinkled throughout the book. Like poetry, giving you the essence of something you could not render in descriptive words alone.
The ending seems rushed. It would have been nice to have a few extra chapters to offer a longer explanation for events and see the completeness of the translation. But this is a minor quibble. Compared to many modern novels that have either terrible cliched endings or worse, no ending at all to leave the story open for endless sequels, the ending is adequate if not completely emotionally fulfilling. (less)
This was not a comfortable book to read. Disturbing, heartbreaking story about child abduction, abuse and molestation. Was it well-written? Absolutely...moreThis was not a comfortable book to read. Disturbing, heartbreaking story about child abduction, abuse and molestation. Was it well-written? Absolutely. The bitter truth is that child abductions happen in real life and being aware and informed is something everyone should be. This is a book that will haunt you long after you read it.
Three short mysteries from the case files of Saxby Smart, child detective. Saxby grew up on detective stories and now solves neighborhood mysteries fo...moreThree short mysteries from the case files of Saxby Smart, child detective. Saxby grew up on detective stories and now solves neighborhood mysteries for his friends.
I love the quirky charm of this series. Saxby operates his sleuthing activities out of a garden shed "office" and ponders cases in a special "thinking chair". But what's really fabulous about these mysteries is the level of reader engagement expected. All the information required to solve the mystery is supplied to the reader in the story details. Saxby pauses several times in each story and asks the reader to put together clues and make deductions and try to solve the mystery together with him. The reader is even privy to "pages from Saxby's notebook" where they can follow Saxby's thinking process.
At first this seemed like just the exploits of a headstrong, lonely, bored aristocrat in a fairly standard romantic, escapist fantasy. The more I thou...moreAt first this seemed like just the exploits of a headstrong, lonely, bored aristocrat in a fairly standard romantic, escapist fantasy. The more I thought about this book though, the more it seemed like Du Maurier was writing about her own feelings of being a wife and mother and the sacrifice and limits that she felt came with those identities.
Daphne Du Maurier’s husband played a vital role in the 2nd World War and was away from home for much of the time. During his absence, Daphne, her children and their nanny went to stay at Langley End, a crowded and lively household. There they were beset by illness and Daphne spent an unusual amount of time (for her) involved with domesticity. It was during this extremely difficult time that she began writing Frenchman's Creek.
In my opinion, the adventures of Dona St. Columb speak of Du Maurier's own sense of restlessness. I think she was writing from the doldrums of her own life, giving herself escape in the form of an fantasy adventure. Her re-iteration several times in the novel that women can never have true enduring freedom because of their biological role in life is dismal. Indeed, the freedom of men and the constraints of women is a theme in many of her works.
Clearly Dona St. Columb is not happy limited by her expected role as a wife and mother. She desires freedom and independence in her own life, as Du Maurier did herself. The way this conflict between freedom and limitation is resolved? (And I don't believe it is successfully so, thus why Du Maurier was never really happy with this novel) It is only after Dona gives free rein to those repressed aspects of herself that she is able to realize her identity in full, and thus can willingly choose to be content in her acquiescence. (less)
A cherished book from my childhood. A bittersweet fantasy adventure written in poetic language that speaks straight to your heart and soul in the secr...moreA cherished book from my childhood. A bittersweet fantasy adventure written in poetic language that speaks straight to your heart and soul in the secret language of dreams.
In 1982 an animated movie version of this book was produced.
In 2005 author Peter S. Beagle returned to the world of his masterpiece and wrote a coda novelette entitled “Two Hearts”.
This book was recommended to me as a seminal generational sci-fi work like "Neuromancer" or "Snow Crash". Well ... that pretty much guaranteed I would...moreThis book was recommended to me as a seminal generational sci-fi work like "Neuromancer" or "Snow Crash". Well ... that pretty much guaranteed I would read it.
Ready Player Zero is fun. No, not just fun. It is massively entertaining. It's great light sci-fi and author Cline takes full advantage of the unlimited sandbox of geekdom he's created. It is also an extraordinary homage to 1980's pop culture. The nostalgic factor is off the charts. So much so that I wonder whether anyone under 30 will get the same level of entertainment out of it.
If you lived through the 1980's, adore that culture, spent any time absorbed in chasing pixels across a screen, or are a fan of MMO's then this book is for you.
My take? It's the premise of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" fashioned out of a blend of pencil-and-paper D&D, video game history, and Azeroth. Classic in the making? I don't know about that. It references many things, but strip those away and it has little original content of it's own. Given that the setting is 2044, there is really nothing visionary, nothing that wouldn't be recognizable to 2011. Not brain-bending intellectual sci-fi, but it's not meant to be. It is unabashedly good geeky fun.
One more thing .. if you want to fall in love with this book even more check out the audiobook version .... because it's narrated by Wil Wheaton. (less)
Read this was when I was 12 or so and still remember several stories vividly. Worth reading for the novella "The Mist" alone, but there are several ot...moreRead this was when I was 12 or so and still remember several stories vividly. Worth reading for the novella "The Mist" alone, but there are several other splendid macabre tales in this collection of short stories. "The Jaunt" and "The Raft" come to mind. (less)
Nearly pitch perfect adventure for 8-12 year olds. Chock full of children's literature archetypes, children can easily see themselves as the protagoni...moreNearly pitch perfect adventure for 8-12 year olds. Chock full of children's literature archetypes, children can easily see themselves as the protagonists and will enjoy trying to solve the various puzzles.
The story encourages self-reliance and creative thinking in kids. Plenty of moral lessons worked in too on teamwork, loyalty, forgiveness, and friendship.
I was a bit hesitant about choosing this for my children because of the length. At almost 500 pages, I thought it might be too advanced. Don't let the length deter you. The unflagging suspense keeps it interesting and the book moves at a good clip. Yes, the second half does drag and disappoint compared to the fabulous first half, but you're so far along by then you'll want to see how it ends.
Two niggling points. A revelation about a major character at the end of the book just doesn't ring true. It's a tad too much of a stretch for plausibility, but this is a truly minor quibble. Also, like many books these days, it doesn't end cleanly with a strong finish, but instead sets itself up for the inevitable sequel.