Excellent sequel to Talbot's Grandville. Like it's predecessor, it successfully combines mystery and political intrigue with some horror and lots of tExcellent sequel to Talbot's Grandville. Like it's predecessor, it successfully combines mystery and political intrigue with some horror and lots of talking animals. Really enjoyed reading this so soon after finishing The Wind in the Willows, just because of how radically different they are using so many of the same building blocks....more
Beautifully pastoral. Wind in the Willows' opening chapters read like a series of short stories about the same, recurring characters. Since I was mostBeautifully pastoral. Wind in the Willows' opening chapters read like a series of short stories about the same, recurring characters. Since I was mostly familiar with Disney's very loose adaptation, I was surprised and pleased to find so much of the book's focus on Mole and Rat. They're pleasant characters who live in a pleasant place and Grahame's wonderful descriptions make me want to live there, too.
I love his prose and especially the observations he makes about human (or animal, I guess) nature. I was completely hooked as soon as I read Mole's thoughts about vacations: "...he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working." Grahame gets me.
There are stories about hospitality and homesickness and curiosity and traveling and worship and they're all lovely. As they progress, Badger and Toad also enter the tales and the stories start to become more connected, so that there's a strong narrative pushing through by the end. That's the part that Disney latched onto, and it is entertaining, but it's not the best part to me. The earlier, quieter chapters are the ones that are going to stick with me for a long, long time....more
A couple of things contributed to my disappointment with Heart of Darkness. One was that its psychological terror had been hyped beyond its ability toA couple of things contributed to my disappointment with Heart of Darkness. One was that its psychological terror had been hyped beyond its ability to deliver. But the other is that Apocalypse Now had also raised my expectations about how disturbed I would be. The novel never got there for me. Nor did it answer any of the questions I had about Kurtz or what went wrong with him. Which is probably the point, but I was still looking for some insight that the book doesn't deliver. There's a lot of talking about how strange and wonderful Kurtz is, but I never experienced his profundity for myself or related to Marlow's intoxication with him. Some great themes in the book, though, and some unforgettable scenes....more
The dialogue has an unnatural quality that I wasn't sure I liked at first, but it grew on me and I eventually decided that it makes the story feel likThe dialogue has an unnatural quality that I wasn't sure I liked at first, but it grew on me and I eventually decided that it makes the story feel like a fairy tale. Likewise some of the characters' decisions and actions. Since it's a story about sea zombies, it's not going for realism anyway, so I ultimately liked its breezy strangeness....more
Very much liked the plot and the puzzle-solving and of course all the pop culture references. I didn't as much enjoy the trash-talking and posturing oVery much liked the plot and the puzzle-solving and of course all the pop culture references. I didn't as much enjoy the trash-talking and posturing of the socially awkward main character and his friends, but that lessened as the stakes increased, their relationships deepened, and they had to focus on other things. ...more
I put it on my Horror shelf mostly because it's Shirley Jackson and partly because it does have some creepy, gothic elements to it. What I enjoyed mosI put it on my Horror shelf mostly because it's Shirley Jackson and partly because it does have some creepy, gothic elements to it. What I enjoyed most though was the mystery of the Blackwoods and what exactly had happened to make them such pariahs in their town.
It's not a difficult mystery to figure out, but getting to the solution is a hauntingly beautiful process as Jackson slowly reveals not just details about past events, but about the present mental states of the surviving Blackwood family members. A lovely, unsettling book....more
I'm 99% sure that my very first Marvel comic was the inappropriately numbered Master of Kung Fu #17. It was only the third appearance of Shang Chi, MI'm 99% sure that my very first Marvel comic was the inappropriately numbered Master of Kung Fu #17. It was only the third appearance of Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu (and son of Fu Manchu), but his first two appearances were in the anthology series Special Marvel Edition starting with #15 and when it was clear that he was popular enough for his own series, Marvel just continued the numbering from SME. As far as I knew at the time though, Shang Chi had been around for at least 16 issues before I discovered him.
I wasn't huge into martial arts as a kid, but I very quickly fell in love with Shang Chi. Even more than Batman, he was a relatable hero that I could aspire to be like. I'd never have a Batcave, but if I learned and practiced enough, I could be like Shang Chi.
It wasn't his fighting skill that attracted me most though. It was his cooly stoic demeanor. I wasn't able to fully understand that until reading this omnibus and immersing myself in Shang Chi's personality, but I love him for the same reason that I've always loved Ferdinand the Bull from the children's book. These are both characters who are comfortable in themselves and unshaken by the chaos around them. That's something that I valued a lot as a kid and still do.
I didn't have the ability to keep up with Shang Chi's adventures when I was younger, so it was only in later years that I heard about his globetrotting spy era under the legendary pencils of Paul Gulacy. As a big James Bond fan, I've always wanted to read those stories, so between that and revisting my childhood hero, I was super eager for this series of omnibuses collecting the entire series.
One volume in and I'm not disappointed. Shang Chi is every bit as inspiring as I remember and almost every adventure collected here is a winner. He battles with his father's minions in New York, Florida (hello, Man-Thing!), and the jungles of the Amazon before reaching détente and joining a team of international spies. It's all beautifully drawn and mesmerizingly written stuff. The one story that didn't work for me is the final, two-part tale in the collection, which is maddeningly surreal and impenetrably enigmatic. That's explicitly the point of it, so I'm not even really faulting it. It was just the single section of the almost 700 pages that didn't work for me on every level. I'm going to take a break and read some Man-Thing before diving into the next volume, but I already can't wait to get to it....more
Neal Adams was a revolutionary get for DC in the late '60s and helped them compete with Marvel's more sophisticated style. It's too bad that the writiNeal Adams was a revolutionary get for DC in the late '60s and helped them compete with Marvel's more sophisticated style. It's too bad that the writing was still aimed straight at kids. These stories are all gorgeous, but they're also full of the most ridiculous motivations, coincidences, and plot twists imaginable. That can be fun from a certain point of view, but the childish simplicity of the scripts is jarring next to the innovation and maturity of Adams' art....more
Reading is usually a discipline for me. Meaning that I have a set time each day that I read and that I read about a chapter a day. Under the best circReading is usually a discipline for me. Meaning that I have a set time each day that I read and that I read about a chapter a day. Under the best circumstances, I finish my daily reading looking forward to the next day. If that doesn't happen enough times, I put the book away and try something else. It was totally happening with Quiet Neighbors.
I was enjoying the story of a woman with secrets who flees to a small, Scottish village in order to escape her path. It's the location of one of the last happy times in her life and she's able to reconnect with the person who made it so, but then discovers that he also has secrets. And then someone else comes along with ties to the old man's past and mysteries of her own. Everyone's wondering about each other's stuff while trying to hide their own and it's totally compelling.
But best of all is when I'm about a hundred pages from the end and I lose all discipline. I can't just read a chapter a day; I have to zoom through to the end in one, quick burst. It's been a long time since I've done that with a book (probably Lisa Unger's Beautiful Lies) and that is such a great feeling. McPherson sticks the landing, too, so I also got that other great feeling of closing a book for the last time and just sort of basking in it. Will definitely be reading more of her stuff....more
Gave up after three and a half chapters: One about a meeting that's more annoying than dramatic, one about the main character sitting in his study, onGave up after three and a half chapters: One about a meeting that's more annoying than dramatic, one about the main character sitting in his study, one about the history of the village, and part of one where the annoying woman from Chapter One is still annoying.
Wicked Autumn is a great idea: a season-themed cozy set in a quaint English village with a government agent turned vicar as the detective. It was just taking too long to get to the story, which led me to question whether the story would be worth it once I got to it. Decided to read some reviews to find out, but was not reassured. ...more
I like the use of ghosts as a metaphor for a girl's fear about the impending death of her little sister. In a town that generally celebrates ghosts anI like the use of ghosts as a metaphor for a girl's fear about the impending death of her little sister. In a town that generally celebrates ghosts and honors the dead, Catrina is terrified. From a wide angle, the book works well as the story of her coming to terms with her sister's degenerative illness and its inevitable result.
Unfortunately, Ghosts forces some character decisions and plot points (and accuracy about Día de los Muertos) in order to maintain the metaphor, but it's still a touching story with some characters I believe in and care about. And the art is, of course, lovely....more
My second Elmore Leonard book was much more what I expected from him: a breezy crime story with snappy dialogue and likable characters of questionableMy second Elmore Leonard book was much more what I expected from him: a breezy crime story with snappy dialogue and likable characters of questionable morals. Starts with a great premise: the widow of a crime boss discovers that she loses everything if she ever has a relationship with another man. Her late husbands wishes are carried out by a monster of a human named Roland, but Karen finds an ally in an ex-con named Maguire.
Where Leonard takes that idea is really cool. There's plenty of cat and mouse between the main characters, but it's really about Karen and Maguire's relationship: whether they're on the same page and what it means for both of them if they aren't. I loved thinking and wondering about that....more