I found this book while searching for a book club book in my library's ebook catalog - I had heard of Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest, whichI found this book while searching for a book club book in my library's ebook catalog - I had heard of Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest, which I had been meaning to read for awhile but never got around to. So I opened this ebook, saying to myself that I would only read a few pages to get a feel for her writing, and then BAM, it was 3 am and I was finished with this and obsessively googling the release date for the next book in the series.
I had recently watched Top of the Lake, a show that is definitely NOT YA, but I thought of it a lot while reading this - the desaturated landscape cinematography and general sense of foreboding combined with strong & independent female leads was pretty similar for both this book and the show. The stillness & wildness of the land was almost another character, someone who never spoke but was holding their breath through the whole book. I know that this is meant to be set in some version of Scotland or another historically Celtic area, but in my mind while reading it, this was taking place in that sort of NZ landscape.
I loved the main character, Neryn, in this. I loved that she was not slow witted, a choice many YA authors seem to make. It's sort of understandable, because then characters can be used as vehicles to transmit information to the reader, but it sacrifices any scrap of humanity a character might have had. That was not the case at all with this book, characters were living beings who were definitely believable, just as they were also fallible and imperfect. I LOVED that (view spoiler)[Flint/Owen was a spy. A double agent! (A TRIPLE agent, maybe???) (hide spoiler)]
I also appreciated the realistic survivalist aspects of the book - many times in fantasy stories you have characters who will be living off the land for years, sleeping on the ground and leaping up to lead armies or perform amazing feats, when in reality, survivalist living is not a path to a long & healthy lifestyle. I really appreciated that the main character got sick, was physically weak & unwell, just as she would be if she was living like that in real life. I appreciated how much of her time & energy was spent on securing food & shelter - I realize that for many people that might be a negative, boring aspect of the book, but for me, it was one of my favorite parts. Your needs & wants really contract in hard situations and I very much appreciated the realism....more
This book was so great. I love this whole series. I was really amused at the range of accents Kobna Holdbrook-Smith had to do, some of which sounded mThis book was so great. I love this whole series. I was really amused at the range of accents Kobna Holdbrook-Smith had to do, some of which sounded made up specifically to challenge him.
The mystery in this was great, the quiet people were great, I love this series. I almost want to read this again, immediately....more
I thought this one was not as good as Rivers of London only because I had figured out the Jazzman killer mystery right at the beginning and I felt likI thought this one was not as good as Rivers of London only because I had figured out the Jazzman killer mystery right at the beginning and I felt like I was waiting for Peter Grant to catch up with me the entire time.
I totally loved every other aspect of the book, though. It was like a long Geordi themed TNG episode, which was another thing I guessed right at the start, but those are some of my favorite episodes, so it was still good. And the performance by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith was fantastic. ...more
This book was AMAZING. Part of that was the stellar performance from Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as the reader of this audiobook, but the writing was just pThis book was AMAZING. Part of that was the stellar performance from Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as the reader of this audiobook, but the writing was just perfect! The characterization was so excellent, Peter Grant was one of the best characters I have come across in a long long time. I cannot think of one single negative or critical comment about this book, I loved every second of it.
The magic system and way it's woven into modern society reminded me a little of the way it worked in The Magicians, but it was SO much more believable.
I just had such a good time listening to this book, I immediately searched out everything else the author and audiobook reader had ever done. Listening to this book while commuting brightened my entire week, through a lot of tough stuff at work, I really wish I could personally thank both Ben Aaronovitch and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith for creating it. ...more
I bought this book in a gift shop at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, which I did not think was that far a stretch at tI bought this book in a gift shop at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, which I did not think was that far a stretch at the time, but looking back, this was an interesting decision on the part of the Smithsonian. Chapter 4 of this book covers in detail the ways in which the Smithsonian, in revamping their displays in the early 2000’s, systematically and needlessly destroyed irreplaceable artifacts of great historical, artistic, and biological value in the name of “cost efficiency,” even though there were other options available. For instance: one of three blue whale mounts in the world – hacked apart and stuffed into a dumpster to save money. Now there are only two - in New York and Tokyo. Dioramas that painstakingly recreated environmental biomes which are now no longer found in the wild were dismantled, hacked apart, and burned. Offers from other museums that would preserve and maintain historical displays were rejected. Ugh. This chapter made me almost literally sick, and simultaneously furious. And I can’t believe the Smithsonian decided to sell this book. In hindsight, this may have been a small act of rebellion on the part of some individuals, and the big bosses in charge of buying stuff to sell in gift shops obviously have never read it.
I am now very curious to go back to the museum and look at some of the displays described in this book in detail. So there’s that.
Emily Mayer sounds AWESOME. I love her art, and her attitude, and her personality. If the goal of taxidermy is to cross the uncanny valley and create animals that are as close to life as possible, she is the person included in this book who I feel is closest to that goal. I mean, I have had rodents as pets for years and years and years, and I am very familiar with what they look like - and even after looking at this mouse for a long time, knowing it is a mount, I cannot really pinpoint whether it is alive or not. And this dog? I wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell with a deer or a lion or a bird, but to succeed in the challenge of taking on an animal like a mouse or a dog, where people live with them and are intimately familiar with every detail of how they look - that’s amazing.
I think one of my favorite things about this book is the way the author immerses herself in the subject matter - she doesn’t just interview these guys by phone, she went and stayed in their houses (Ken Walker, Emily Mayer) and really got an in depth picture of who these people are personally, and the reality of the taxidermy field today. Her personal journey as detached sort of scientific observer to someone who then stuffs her own squirrel was almost as interesting as the people she interviews.
I really feel, as someone who knew practically nothing about taxidermy prior to reading this, that the author captured the spirit and essence of the field, the history and artistry of taxidermy as well as the occasional kitschyness of it all. There is a section towards the end of the book where she is describing the critique she is receiving from Jack Fishwick at the World Taxidermy Championship for her squirrel (Gray Squirrel, Yellow Dawn): “ I think it’s very good for a first attempt...but you have been hanging around taxidermists for the past two years - perhaps the best taxidermists in the world. You have an advantage! You are not starting at rock bottom. You have tons and tons of info you could have studied.” Personally I feel that his critique was a little off the mark - the author did succeed - what she was preserving was not a squirrel, but the field of taxidermy, through this book....more
I don’t remember where I heard about this book – maybe from Goodreads? Maybe from an article somewhere else on the internet. But I am so glad I read tI don’t remember where I heard about this book – maybe from Goodreads? Maybe from an article somewhere else on the internet. But I am so glad I read this because it really resonated with me – it’s about aviation in Alaska, superficially, but more importantly it’s about life. I, for one, am not familiar with aviation in the slightest, but it didn’t matter, reading this.
I loved the writing in this book. I think the essay format was perfect for telling these stories.
I also loved the stories – the pseudonyms got a little confusing (Tony Sam Scott Frank Bob etc) – especially since it was obvious that every one of these people was living larger than life in the author’s mind, bland and interchangeable pseudonyms did not do them all justice.
What I most want to know is how the author got this book published without drawing down the legal wrath of, well, anyone. Did she time this specifically for after the Company went out of business, or did they go out of business because of stories like this? Or for some other reason entirely? This sort of tell-all style has gotten more than one person fired or sued, and I am sure there were a number of people who were not pleased that all the blatantly illegal details of how the business was run that are shared in this were made public. Especially since many of the deaths of the titular pilots in question were directly or indirectly caused by Company policies or procedures. ...more
I had never heard of this book before stumbling on the BBC miniseries, which I watched in one long unintentional binge on a Thursday night, staying upI had never heard of this book before stumbling on the BBC miniseries, which I watched in one long unintentional binge on a Thursday night, staying up WAY too late because it was SO GOOD. And then I immediately downloaded this book because I desperately needed to know more about these characters.
GAH. Literally all I wanted to do after starting this was to read this book. I have NEVER been interested in industrial settings in the 1800’s, it is possibly my least favorite historical era, dark and coal-fueled and sooty with consumptive factory workers & small-time political drama, but OMG the CHARACTERS! I LOVED this book. Some of the characters were EVEN BETTER than their portrayal in the miniseries (Mr. Bell!) and there were just as many excellent lines of dialogue, if not moreso.
I do NOT think I would have enjoyed this without seeing the miniseries first, because the whole time I was reading this I kept picturing the actors & scenes & settings in my mind. It got me through the dialect of the Higgins' by being able to picture Brendan Coyle deliver those lines. And of course, Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe. Yikes. The ending is a little bit different but this was a fantastic book. I would have had a hard time with it when it was first published - it came out originally in serial format over 22 segments, and it was hard enough to wait and read it over two days.
Also - the film adaptation was so fantastic & extremely true to the book. I think that this is up there with Lord of the Rings on my personal list of excellent film adaptations. ...more
This is a reread. I read this whole series a bunch of times many years ago. This was one of my favorite books/characters for a long time – and I thinkThis is a reread. I read this whole series a bunch of times many years ago. This was one of my favorite books/characters for a long time – and I think around the same time I read most of the other things Bernard Cornwell wrote. I mean, how can anyone not like Sharpe? I tend to think of this as being part of the same series as Horatio Hornblower and Aubrey/Maturin.
This is actually one of the (many) books that I butted heads over with High School English Teachers. I remember one of the assignments I had was to write a book report on a book or series of your choice, and I picked this one, because HELLO, it is awesome. Plus, I think I was 13 at the time, which is the optimal age for many books, including this one. (I used to read a lot more than I do now.) BUT one of the things that I remember most clearly is that the teacher obviously intended that all of us would choose Impressive Classic Literature (but never actually SAID this or defined it) and I got in a whole bunch of trouble, and I think something like a D on the assignment over my choice of book. Really? I mean, the NYT reviews this author’s work as being “more likely to appeal to fans of J. R. R. Tolkien than of David Macaulay,” which is totally true, but a D?
As an adult, I can see that this is ridiculous, and probably the assignment should have been a little more structured, but at the time, this was a big deal. AND now it is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of this book. (Honestly, a good teacher would have realized the error of their ways and either modified or redefined the assignment – this is not totally an uneducational book, as it is based in large part on actual historical events, but I don’t think I ever had a good English teacher. Sad.)
After rereading this I still like it a lot, mostly because of Sharpe. And I have a new appreciation for Hakeswill, who is a great villain because he is SO believable – this guy would fit right in as an evil middle manager at any company anywhere. I think I have met some folks who swear by the Hakeswill Theory of Management.
This author is a fantastic writer. I cannot comment enough on the incredible quality and consistency of the writing in this book. I really enjoyed botThis author is a fantastic writer. I cannot comment enough on the incredible quality and consistency of the writing in this book. I really enjoyed both the way he chose his words and the way he put the book together. I was very familiar with the majority of the science and history that was covered in this book, but it was presented in a way that made it seem exciting and fresh.
It was interesting to see how the author chose to explain statistics, etc. to a (presumably) layperson audience. Some of the analogies used for describing methodological design and statistical analysis were the clearest I’ve ever heard.
The author could be so wryly sardonic, it was great. He gently pointed out some of the sheer ridiculousness of historical scientific beliefs and medical methodology without being disrespectful of the ultimate results of the research. He was also actually FUNNY in some places – in the section about Papanikolaou – aka The World’s Worst Carpet Salesman, I laughed out loud a couple of times. (I also have guinea pigs, and it is not a walk in the park cutting their toenails every two weeks, nevermind giving them daily pap smears.) If there were not laws about texting while driving, I would quote this section here.
I LOVED that the nontraditional careers of all these key researchers, doctors, and scientists were outlined. People who made discoveries or invented tests that are still being used today did not necessarily go to Harvard or were even able to get jobs in scientific fields initially, but were still able to do good work. I liked that one of my personal science heroes, Gertrude Elion, got a mention.
I do wonder what Halstead would have thought about targeted drug therapy and oncogenes as opposed to his surgical methods.
The only glaring omission was any mention of Henrietta Lacks – this stood out for me in particular because I was reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks at the same time that I was listening to this book. The author mentions her in a roundabout way – her cells were used in his own research as a fellow. The closest he gets to using her name is “the cells were immortal and from a woman who has been dead for over 30 years.” (That may not be the exact quote, see above re: texting while driving.) I am assuming that this book, published in 2010, was already written when Rebecca Skloot’s book came out, but as a reader, especially reading these two books at once, this was a remarkably tone-deaf moment in an otherwise lyrical narrative. I think it stood out because SO many other patients and doctors and researchers WERE mentioned.
I listened to this in audiobook format, which was okay, but not great. The reader was a little bombastic, as though he was auditioning for his dream job of reading headlines on the 5:00 local news. Which meant that whenever he read the word cancer, he said it like this: (bold, italics) CANCER. Which got to be annoying, since the whole BOOK is about cancer, so the word appears fairly frequently, and not always in dramatic sentences. ...more
This book is very very funny. Also accurate, and sad. Characters are GREAT. Even minor & incidental characters are so well fleshed out that they could be real people, it didn't feel as though anyone was included only to drive the plot forward. I LOVED the Institute as a setting - feuding radioastronomers and astrobiologists! The search for extraterrestrials! The voice in this is spot-on and really resonated with me. As much as I wanted this to be the start of an entire series about Ayyan Mani, the ending of this was extremely satisfying. ...more
I got this book from the library after I saw it in the goodreads genres list. I had no idea what to expect - the reviews that I glanced at were not thI got this book from the library after I saw it in the goodreads genres list. I had no idea what to expect - the reviews that I glanced at were not that great.
However - I LOVED this book. I REALLY enjoyed reading it. It is as though I and the negative reviewers were reading two different books.
I can see how folks would be disappointed if they were expecting a travel memoir about personal revelations along the lines of Eat, Pray, Love, because this book is MUCH more like something by Mary Roach. It's really more about SLA, Secondary Language Acquisition, and all the neurological & behavioral research that goes along with it. There are lots of interviews with experts in the field. It's also very very honest about the author's personal experiences in learning a second language. (Summary: It is not easy.)
One of the things that really struck me was the research involving bilingual stroke patients. The possibility to retain a second language after losing the first language in a stroke was such a revelation. (The theory is that native languages and second languages are stored in different areas of the brain.) There were several stories about people who had strokes and could thereafter only communicate in, say, the French they learned in high school. This was a little terrifying to me, as a monolingual person - what would I be able to say if I had a stroke like that? Donde esta la biblioteca? Terrifying.
Why isn't a second language recommended more strongly for persons at risk of stroke, based on this research??? I can't stop thinking about this.
I really liked that this was not a glowing, romantic account of learning a foreign tongue in a foreign land. There were good parts, obviously. But there were also bad parts. Just like life. ...more
WOW. I really liked this. Such a great story! So many great characters! I met Connie Willis at Balticon a couple of years ago, but I had not read any oWOW. I really liked this. Such a great story! So many great characters! I met Connie Willis at Balticon a couple of years ago, but I had not read any of her books until now. Wow! I can't believe no one recommended this to me years ago, the story is right up my alley. I was equally interested in the story set in "modern" Oxford and the medieval Skendgate - I felt emotionally connected to the characters in both places. I want to buy this book....more
I chose this because the library had a lot of audiobooks with the same author/reader team, so I was hoping I would like this one, and then I would havI chose this because the library had a lot of audiobooks with the same author/reader team, so I was hoping I would like this one, and then I would have a bunch of other audiobooks that I could listen to. I liked the reader okay, he was not my favorite, but he was not offensive either. Okay, this started out SLOW. BUT it got exponentially better as it went on, and by the time I got to disk 10 (of 14) the plot & events were so exciting that I ended up driving past my exit. Yikes! Hesperus kicks serious ass, he was my favorite character. I loved the story & worldbuilding. (Universebuilding?) Loved the ending....more
OMFG THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD! At the time that I was reading this, I was also reading several other books, and I wished they could all be like this one.OMFG THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD! At the time that I was reading this, I was also reading several other books, and I wished they could all be like this one. I thought that the characters were interesting, the worldbuilding was gradual and not over the top, the plot was engaging, and there is HUGE potential for more in this world. I wanted this to go on forever, because it was so good, which was great, because it is really long. That was one of the downsides - I read this in dead tree format, and at 1000 pages it was like hefting a paving stone, so I could only read it at home. Propped up by a volunteer. But I also kept referencing the maps & drawings, so I was kind of glad I did not read it in ebook format. The volunteer:
I heard about this book & author because he was tapped to finish the Wheel of Time series - I haven't read his collaboration book yet. I can totally see why this guy was picked - his storytelling reminds me of Robert Jordan a LOT. I really hope he does not go the same route as Robert Jordan and not publish another in the series for years & years. Because I want to read the next book in this series right now. What happens to all these people? I thought all the main characters were interesting people - lots of depth and character development and potential. I could have done with less of Kaladin's backstory, but even that was interesting from a worldbuilding point of view - many times in fantasy epics like this you never get to see how the average middle-class citizen lives. Aside from the characters, the worldbuilding was great - there was no dense wall of new names & world-specific details to climb over before getting to the plot - these things were revealed as the story progressed. AND the plot was interesting! I picked this up initially because it was on the new book shelf @ the library and I was kind of curious. SO glad I did. ...more
I am so glad that I was able to overlook the terrible cover and terrible tagline ("When science and magic collide - it is the innocent who will die."I am so glad that I was able to overlook the terrible cover and terrible tagline ("When science and magic collide - it is the innocent who will die." Ugh.) that really had nothing to do with the story. I loved this book. I really liked the main characters, Catherine and Bee and Andevai - they all had depth and dimension and I was able to identify with each of them. (The only one I didn't like was long lost brother Rory, who felt really flat and one dimensional.) A lot of the reviews for this book complained about the worldbuilding, which I honestly didn't notice, because I was so swept up with the characters and the plot. I am glad I read the dead tree version of this, because I flipped back and forth to the map in the beginning a lot. The one thing that bugged me about this - why did there have to be an airship? The airship makes several cameo appearances to establish steampunk cred, although it could have easily been swapped out for any other type of transport plotwise. To me, that felt out of place. I love that they are living in an ice age. ...more