Most of these stories were re-reads for me. The first is a bit rough (as Jim Butcher notes). I'm a little annoyed the various Bigfoot stories aren't iMost of these stories were re-reads for me. The first is a bit rough (as Jim Butcher notes). I'm a little annoyed the various Bigfoot stories aren't included, but I guess they were written later. I still have to track-down the first.
Like the last Harry Potter book, this a re-read for me and a lot of independent read for May.
We were thinking about having May use this as her 2nd booLike the last Harry Potter book, this a re-read for me and a lot of independent read for May.
We were thinking about having May use this as her 2nd book report assignment for summer reading (as opposed to suggested books like Stellaluna or Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping), however, a bunch was read to her, not read by her.
Alright now for complaints. As with much YA, there is an adults problem with this book. Adults insist on keeping secrets from the kids who are the ones at immediate risk. They also insist on keeping secrets from their fellow adults (I'm looking at you Prof. Lupin). But they aren't very good at keeping secrets. The operational security at the Ministry of Magic is appalling (seriously, Death Eaters wouldn't even need to dumpster dive to get passwords if the Ministry used computers... people would just recite thier passwords in local bars).
I know, I know. Because: plot.
Don't EVEN get me started on the power inherent in the Time Turner. I think HISHE handled that as well as can be....more
At some point I have to decide when to drop these books that I am only part-reading to May as she reads more and more of them herself. Luckily in thisAt some point I have to decide when to drop these books that I am only part-reading to May as she reads more and more of them herself. Luckily in this case I read this book myself many years ago, so I can kinda fill in the gaps.
Or maybe I can't.
Really, it's amazing to me that I really don't remember much of anything that jumped out at me about this re-read. I know my attempts at doing voices started to wander all over the place. Amanda asked when Hagrid morphed from Scottish to just thug. Snape is my one fall-back voice [thank you for you pitch-perfect performance Mr. Rickman].
I guess this is the start of the weird attempts by the author to meld or separate muggle technology and magic. The flying car is a classic example of how both can be combined and yet we don't see much of it in the rest of the books. Why does the Ministry of Magic ban enchanting Muggle items? Why are wizards so clueless about the Muggle world that they really spend alot of time in?
There are are miraid related questions, like why not smuggle a cell-phone into Hoqwarts [because: plot] or wouldn't an AK47 make a better weapon than a wand [because: atmospherics... and PLOT!]....more
I first heard about this comic at a comiRe-read category sisnce I've recently gotten up-to-date on the web-comic version - http://www.gunnerkrigg.com/
I first heard about this comic at a comics for kids panel at Arisia about a year and a half ago. I don't know what triggered me to hit the webcomic.
I was inspired to pick-up the print edition for May by her interest in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. There are a lot of parrallels, if only in the British boarding school organization, the forbidden forest, and a previous generation of school-kid high-jinks shaping the world for the heros. I like the idea of Antimony as an alternative hero to Harry.
The first volume is pretty fractured. All the chapters in Gunnerkrigg Court are very much separate-standing stories with some storylines running across multiple chapters, but usually not contiguous ones. There are mysteries within mysteries only hinted at in the first volume (I'm looking at you Jones). I'm not sure how well this volume stands on it's own, since the author is really growing in storytelling and illustration both as the book progresses.
For now, we'll have it out and see if May gets bored with the second Harry Potter and is willing to try something else....more
**spoiler alert** Reading to May has shifted this summer. Instead of having to read the whole of a book, my nightly reading has become selected chapte**spoiler alert** Reading to May has shifted this summer. Instead of having to read the whole of a book, my nightly reading has become selected chapters or portions of chapters as May covers chuncks on the book herself. This was fine for this book since I had read it myself (and seen the movie), but has caused some confusion in reading both Into the Wild and Pegasus and the Flame.
Now, for the book itself. The whole Harry Potter series has multiple problems, but the biggest has to be "Why doesn't Dumbledore just fess-up what's really going on?" So much of the plot is driven by bad information and incorrect assumptions. Amanda and I have often commented that if Dumbledore just told hermione what was up, they could have gotten the whole 7 book series settled by mid0-way through the first year.
Poor Hermione. The boys make fun of her, but she has to become their friend after they locker her in the bathroom with a troll (and save her from said troll). Her line about how loyalty and courage are needed for a hero so Harry should go face Voldemort while she exits stage right for the climax is just so annoying. I feel like there should have been a Plan C here. Oh , and we're all OK with Harry basically killing Quirell? Yes, Quirell/Voldemort attacked first, and he's a powerful wizard and Harry's a kid, but when Quirell is writhing in pain, Harry decides to just pour-on the hurt. This is our hero with the power of Love?
Anyway. Props as always to J. K. Rowling for the accessibility and catchiness of this book. May was pretty devoted once she picked it up and is now working on #2. This is very different from the 2 books noted above that were finished in dribs and drabs or are still in half-read states. Even her beloved Percy Jackson books weren't getting her to read them herself....more
OK, Mozart may actually make Tad Lincoln look well behaved (see the review of Magic Tree House #47: Abe Lincoln At Last!). Reading this over I kept thOK, Mozart may actually make Tad Lincoln look well behaved (see the review of Magic Tree House #47: Abe Lincoln At Last!). Reading this over I kept thinking that Schonbrun Palace sounds a whole lot like Versailles. Maybe all the crowned heads of Europe had the same architects?
Once again, Jack and Annie show the importance of Doing Your Research Before You Go for time-travellers. Much of the adventure time is taken up by Jack being embarrased by his poor manners in front of the Empress of Austria. That said, Jack and Annie tend to handle these sorts of things better than Doctor Who, so I suppose I ought to give them (and their treehouse TARDIS) a break.
But I wanna know, did no one notice that the entire Imperial Zoo suddenly dissappeared?...more
OK, that's only funny if you're a Stargate fan (and maybe not even then).
Jack and Annie are in Antarctica. Why?"It's no good sir! It's an ice planet!"
OK, that's only funny if you're a Stargate fan (and maybe not even then).
Jack and Annie are in Antarctica. Why? They need to cheer-up Merlin! And what better to cheer a guy up with but a baby penguin named Penny? (yes there are 3 other secrets of happiness gathered in earlier books and you can be happy caring for anyone/thing, not just a fuzzy little penguin who says "Peep!")
This book was particularly fun for the Daddy-voices. Aside from a cast of international scientists and journaists to give funny accents to, we have Nancy. nancy is the bus-driver/tour guide, and in my mind she is forever speaking in that kinda-too-loud, kinda slow tone of the tour guide who's trying to be heard by the folks in the back over the traffic noise (or helicopter noise in this case). "we're walking, we're walking, and we're stopping..."...more
OK, major gender-politics flags on this one. Why does Ms. Frisbie not have a last name? Everyone else only has first names (exceptions being Mr. AgesOK, major gender-politics flags on this one. Why does Ms. Frisbie not have a last name? Everyone else only has first names (exceptions being Mr. Ages and her husband Jonathan Frisbie). I disagree with Amanda that Mrs. Frisbie's only attributes are her relationships with male characters, she does show heroism and strength on her own, but it is minimal. Besides the title character, there are no female characters of note (or interest besides defining male characters).
I was a bit surprised to see discussion of DNA modification in the NIMH experiments, I thought the book was older than that.
Of course now we have an accepted term for what the NIMH team was doing, Uplift. Also, while the idea of super-intelligent rats is still science-fiction, the science of DNA modification of lab rats has certainly moved forwards.
Anybody know why the NIMH doctors insisted on using wild rats vs. lab rats (aside from making the plot work)?...more
On a second reading of this book, with my daughter listening, I caught a whole coming-of-age narrative that I missed the fiTiffany Aching still rocks.
On a second reading of this book, with my daughter listening, I caught a whole coming-of-age narrative that I missed the first time through. Wintersmith defintely has lessons about the growing power of a girl going through puberty, but I hadn't quite seen the tween lesson in Hat Full of Sky until this reading.
Tiffany is possesed by the Hiver, and does terrible things while possesed, but Pratchett makes it clear that the Hiver doesn't do anything that Tiffany, at some level, doesn't want to do. The idea of the Hiver as an ancient, unknowable fear that posseses an adolescent really resonated with me as a parent staring down the barrel of that gun. The fear comes from nowhere, it is irrational, it is deep, and it gives power. Or at least the illusion of power, the release of power that an adolescent is beginning to truly feel. And so, because of this fear, this sudden ability to see so much of the world and one's vulnerable place in it, adolescents are so much more likely to lash-out.
And Terry Pratchett doesn't give the reader an easy out. The Hiver may be possesing Tiffany, but it is still Tiffany who did these things, it is still Tiffary who is reponsible for the consequences. Always remember that there is a difference between fault and responsibility....more
Not a whole lot gets done in this volume except to get to see Gil and Tarvek snipe at each other. I like the Castle Heterodyne setting andMore Agatha!
Not a whole lot gets done in this volume except to get to see Gil and Tarvek snipe at each other. I like the Castle Heterodyne setting and it is a nice way to give back-story on crazy Heterodynes and the way that broke the castle, but at times I feel like we've got a dungeon crawl running for too long and damage to characters is not cumulative.
I've been reading the story online, so I have bit of trouble remembering what bit is in what volume. Maybe Amanda will have a better take....more
**spoiler alert** Re-reading this book for May, our 4 1/2 year-old, just helps to show me how pitch-perfect Terry Pratchett is here.
The reason my wife**spoiler alert** Re-reading this book for May, our 4 1/2 year-old, just helps to show me how pitch-perfect Terry Pratchett is here.
The reason my wife picked Wee Free Men for May's bedtime book was to help balance-out The Hobbit, which May thoroughly enjoyed, but we realized had no female characters.
So we get Tiffany.
And we get so much more as well.
Tiffany is more than just a witch-in-waiting (witches really aren't good at waiting) who uses her little brother as monster-bait. She is in many ways an ode by Sir Terry to his geek fans - those people who are, on some level, forever the precocious children who couldn't help but correct their teachers and educated themselves out of any and all books they could get their hands on. When the fairy Queen attacks Tiffany as being just a strange little girl whose mind has been addled by too many books, any geek can remember the sinking, awful desperation of a childhood in which you knew you could never fit in. When Tiffany says one of the other witches is being "metapahorical", I see every one of my college and beyond friends who have outed themselves as being self-educated by not knowing how to pronounce the concepts that they have known for so long. The same ones who can't help but correct you when you call a whale a fish - even as they are appalled by the correction themselves.
Tiffany as strong female geek is a big part of what makes this book great, but not all of it. The deep connection to the land, a land, a landscape of your ancestors, is something that I feel and would also like to pass on to my daughter. Her family has been in New England for hundreds of years (on one branch, likely for thousands). I want her to feel the pride of a swamp yankee when she goes apple-picking on a crisp October day. Tiffany's link to the Chalk is very much of the same stripe of pride.
Then there is grief. In the past few years, I have lost two grandparents, both the deep quiet strong ones - as opposed to their boastful or controlling spouses. Pratchett has Tiffany exploring her grief over the loss of her grandmother at the same time as she faces fairy creatures and fends off the end of the world. His ideas about how a person's works, and ideas, and memories can live on in the people and world left behind resonated for me in a way I didn't expect. Like Tiffany, I can only hope to be the person that my grandparents want me to be.
That's pretty deep.
And now you're thinking - right, and how much of this did a 4-year-old get?
You'd be surprised.
Yes, my daughter is precocious and amazing, so you mileage may very, but a lot of the credit falls to Pratchett as well. May asked many questions. Bits in fairyland of dreams within dreams got confusing for her. But the central conflict was accessible to her. And thanks to Pratchett's skill as writer, the magic and glamour of fairies work very well as metaphors (metapahors?) for dealing with people and societies in real-life. I could talk with May about how the Queen is focused on appearance of strength and beauty and power, but is truly a small and weak thing while Tiffany looks small and weak but is very solid and real at her core - and that works at both the level of metaphysics and interpersonal relationships. May followed the discussion of a "school for witches" (a Harry Potter reference I'd never gotten before) at the same rate as Tiffany, and understood (I think) the tension between Tiffany and Fion. There is much more for her to find years from now when she can read this book again on her own.
And, never forget, the Nac Mac Feegle are fall-on-the-floor funny, especially when you read them out loud. ...more
I am so proud of my daughter for getting through this whole book with me. At first I was sure it would bee too scary for a 4 year-old. I had to skip pI am so proud of my daughter for getting through this whole book with me. At first I was sure it would bee too scary for a 4 year-old. I had to skip parts of scary scenes - much of the trolls, some of the goblins - but by the time Bilbo meets Gollum she was deeply engrossed and hooked.
I know she missed parts, I wish I could have done more voices to help separate the different players in the parleys before the Battle of Five Armies. But she followed so much, and not just the story, but deeper meanings about how Smaug is really the essence of greed and the different claims to the treasure and title of King Under the Mountain.
I do wish there had been some female characters. Not a single speaking female role in the whole blasted thing (unless some unnamed elves or spiders were of the feminine persuasion).
I love this series and think it makes great reference material. That said, I think this is one of the weakestThe Cartoon History is finally complete!
I love this series and think it makes great reference material. That said, I think this is one of the weakest links in the series. I can't really think why, maybe just that compressing down the last 200 years of history just feels too rushed.
Still, I'm so happy to have the whole set now!...more
A random grab off the bookshelf. I have often reread the 1st Cerebus volume to the point that I know most of the stories inside and out.
What's interesA random grab off the bookshelf. I have often reread the 1st Cerebus volume to the point that I know most of the stories inside and out.
What's interesting about High Society is how Sim segues his series from sword-and-sorcery short stories (with some very broad humor) into longer-form story-telling in a world that is more Renaissance - shifting from gold coin to paper bank notes and from kings warlords and theocrats to the beginnings of republicanism.
That said, Sim also brings a whole lot of other things with him in that transition. I had trouble keeping Sim's misogyny that is so strong in some of his later books from coloring much of my reading.
Even with that, I still found the world of nobles, cities, governments, and states all fighting over interest rates and trying their hardest not to show how far in debt they all are to be very compelling - especially considering last year's collapse of the financial house of cards on Wall Street. There's a particular damning section where Astoria reveals how Lord Julius won't let Iest default on their debt because then Lord Julius will no longer be able to claim Iest's debts among his collateral for loans of his own. Yes there are also goofy-talking Marx-brothers knock-offs and characters called Bran MakMuffin, but I think this may be one of the best looks at the creation of monetary policy outside of Pratchett's Making Money....more
Yes, I pulled this out because I had seen the preview for the Kate Bekinsale movie. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm amazed at 2 items from the previYes, I pulled this out because I had seen the preview for the Kate Bekinsale movie. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm amazed at 2 items from the preview.
1. Kate Beckinsale? What? Carrie Stetko is no Kate Beckinsale (and this is a good thing in my opinion).
2. Lilly has been replaced by a male UN inspector. Again, why? Rucka was involved in the filming so I can't see why he allowed these two changes.
Whiteout is a tight little noir murder-mystery. Like most noir, the setting is a major character, with all of Antarctica (called "the Ice") standing in for such classic noir cities San Francisco, LA, or New York (usually referred to as "the City"). Also like good noir, what saves a pretty standard mystery from total mediocrity is the depth of our detective main-character. Carrie Stetko is nobody's victim (asserting that is what got her stuck on the Ice in the first place). She also is expressly written and drawn as a real woman with faults that make her all the more interesting. Lilly Sharpe, the British agent, plays the role of our blonde-bombshell femme-fatale, except she also refuses to use her sexuality to affect the situation (even though it being female is all the more affecting is a setting with a 200-1 male to female ratio). We still get sparks between these two, especially when Stetko compliments Sharpe on her "ovaries of brass".
Whiteout at time feels like an attempt at a post-feminist story, but it tries a little too hard. I think it is sad that Hollywood had to cast a sex-symbol for our main character and swap the other female role for a male, either to add sexual tension or because it otherwise had 'too many' strong female characters.
Agatha has in many ways completed the first major step in her character transformation. The distracted, incompetant klutz ofHugo-award winner! WooHoo!
Agatha has in many ways completed the first major step in her character transformation. The distracted, incompetant klutz of the first book has come into her own and is ready to command her city and armies. I wonder if being in the old homestead might not push her a bit too far into the realm of dangerous, unstable mad-science favored by her ancestors. Maybe there was a reason the Heterodyne Boys spent so much time away from the castle adventuring?...more
I've tossed this in my re-read pile because I've technically already read the story as it's published on the Web.
That said, I've noticed a lot more deI've tossed this in my re-read pile because I've technically already read the story as it's published on the Web.
That said, I've noticed a lot more details in the story while reading the print edition than the online pages. The Foglios are always good for putting tons of detail in the background of their illustrations. This volume is especially full of sly nods to other web comics in the advertising on the walls of Mechanicsburg. However, I've been finding more little hooks in the writing - I'd forgotten Klaus's warning to Gil about Zeetha the first time around.
I'm almost tempted to complain about the plethora of new characters being introduced, but I'm not having too much trouble telling them apart. Instead, my appetite has been peaked for more story and back-story. The Foglio's Europa feels amazingly deep and I want to dive into it and keep digging.
As a final aside, I feel like the whole coffeehouse scene was at least a bit written as gift for Kaja and Phil's favorite baristas....more
A short-and-fast tale of a Viking boy (a classic geek outsider) and the Norse gods. Gaiman, as usual puts a believable face on the gods here. I feel lA short-and-fast tale of a Viking boy (a classic geek outsider) and the Norse gods. Gaiman, as usual puts a believable face on the gods here. I feel like this was a side-trip from his research for American Gods.
The deepest moment comes near the end when our main character, Odd, laments that Loki is still getting drunk and stupid at the feasting tables of Valhalla saying "he never learns." Freya commends him on his insight...of course he doesn't learn, he's a god. Gods are frozen in time, unable to resolve their conflicts because that would ruin the franchise...they're like GI Joe.
We listened to an audio-book version of this on the way to a wedding - a good way to while away some of the hours on the Jersey Turnpike. So now that I have a 7-year-old daughter listening to the story, I have fun of trying to explain why stealing a bride was ever considered acceptable, how common that was, and why women are only prizes to be one in this story. Yes yes, Lady Freya is a prize the giant would rather not have won. She is both beautiful, and alternately kind or spiteful - much like her cats. But she is the only female voice among the 6 speaking characters - and by far the least voiced.
I don't know what it says about me that this book counts as one of my major comfort books. My wife reads Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, I re-I don't know what it says about me that this book counts as one of my major comfort books. My wife reads Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, I re-read the Cartoon History. I guess it's just been a stressful few weeks for me.
My one off-note of this book is a change in the style of the art for the last chapter (covering the Golden Age of Athens up to Alexander the Great). Gonick was going for a more Crumb, less cartoony style, but I like the earlier style better.
No more information, just go find it and read it!...more