I'm not sure I would want to read a full-length book following Alexia's father and his valet, but this served a s a nice coda to Imprudence for [spoilI'm not sure I would want to read a full-length book following Alexia's father and his valet, but this served a s a nice coda to Imprudence for [spoiler reasons].
One of these days I feel like I need to sit down with the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, and Finishing School books and try and map out the relationships, confirmed and assumed. Or I can just ride along in the same semi-ignorance as the characters and be pretty confident a see the twists coming at least a page or two ahead of time....more
Light and fluffy - just the thing to read on a Kindle for plane flights.
I miss Alexia even as I railed against her for continuing to refer to her 21-yLight and fluffy - just the thing to read on a Kindle for plane flights.
I miss Alexia even as I railed against her for continuing to refer to her 21-year-old daughter as "infant". I hope that I can puncture the cult of invincibility that daughters seem to have for their fathers better than Connall did for Pru.
Not sure what Prudence is going to do with her life now....more
Over half the chapters were exhortations on "Living Life Dangerously" as part of the "Golden Third" of people who take aboI had issues with this book.
Over half the chapters were exhortations on "Living Life Dangerously" as part of the "Golden Third" of people who take above-average risks but not so far as to become self-destructive. I can somewhat see what the author was going for, but he went out of his way to excoriate the less risk-taking, calling them milquetoasts or "little-t" (T supposedly standing for thrill-seeking but inevitably conjuring the word testosterone). Tirades against a "nanny-state" - however short - make me want to shut any conversation down before I'm being offered off-the-grid land in Montana.
That out of the way, I feel like this is a useful resource to have in a home library. Having an approachable, basic recipe for black powder, rocket engines, and flame-throwers seems like just the type of knowledge I probably will never need but don't want to go scrambling for when I do.
As a final aside, this book is also quintessentially American in its choices of measurements. Only unit-uncertain Yanks would insist on weighing chemicals in grams to heat to temperatures in Fahrenheit to form in to tubes in 16th of an inch and then puncture with a 9-penny nail....more
It was refreshing to have a book like this have a distinctly Asian cast in the choice of battles reviewed and yet not have that be the primary focus.It was refreshing to have a book like this have a distinctly Asian cast in the choice of battles reviewed and yet not have that be the primary focus. It feels like progress to not have all these pivotal battles inevitably be about Western Powers battling in Europe or North America (Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power is a example of this).
While I knew of all these battles, I haven't read any works aimed specifically at Tsushima, Nomonhan, or Dien Bien Phu. I very much appreciated the quality of the descriptions. Even where I have read before, if not extensively, I found myself learning quite a bit about MacArthur's free(ish)-hand to cross the 38th parallel or the intellectual links between Togo's victory at Tsushima and Yamamoto's failure at Midway....more
**spoiler alert** I'll echo what Amanda said about father-son angst being over-used as a trope in Western literature (I don't know enough about other**spoiler alert** I'll echo what Amanda said about father-son angst being over-used as a trope in Western literature (I don't know enough about other areas to pass judgment).
I also always a bit disappointed when a story that has used (or at least heavily implied) a fixed timeline theory of time-travel changes its mind and suddenly has a dynamic timeline. It always feels like a cheap way of adding drama when there's really more drama in seeing how any attempt to change the past is inherently, already part of the past.
Finally, I wish the author/playwrights had been willing to craft more new scenes instead of leaning on a "greatest hits" or the books.
Maybe I'm being overly critical since this intended to be a live performance and I'm consuming it as written text. but the whole effort felt overly-derivative....more
Mary Roach has an amazing ability to write both a science book and a sort of travel-log at the same time. She explores a touchy or squicky scientificMary Roach has an amazing ability to write both a science book and a sort of travel-log at the same time. She explores a touchy or squicky scientific subject with both book and hands-on research, but never loses an opportunity to show the absurdity of her own situation in conducting her interviews.
I have read many of Alan Furst's Night Soldiers books now (I don't think all of them), and it is interesting that many of the supporting characters crI have read many of Alan Furst's Night Soldiers books now (I don't think all of them), and it is interesting that many of the supporting characters cross from story to story. I find myself saying "Oh, it's S. Kolb!" but then I can't remember which book the character had appeared in before, or even whether they were a trustworthy or not. In strange way I have my own set of rumors and vague reputations for these characters.
Another small item. I feel a bit like someone cornered the author at a convention somewhere and said "How come there's no gay representation in your books? It not like homosexuality was invented at Stonewall." So there's a bit of a feeling of over-reach. A tertiary character is shown to be in a decades-long stable lesbian relationship. Multiple women are shown to be bi-sexual or at least interested. It's all safe for the [assumed] male reader because French lesbians are hot don'tcha know? But even this gets a fig-leaf when our hero is asked by a lover if he had ever dabbled with the same sex and he replies that (like her) he had not, but mostly due to lack of opportunity, not prejudice. So, progress... very slow progress....more
I hadn't realized from the first volume that the story was based in the Napoleonic/Regency period. It was strangely disSo happy for more Delilah Dirk!
I hadn't realized from the first volume that the story was based in the Napoleonic/Regency period. It was strangely disappointing to know that these great stories are based in a period that has been mined for so many stories before. I don't mind a good pulpy time period; but I worry that the tropes of either the Napoleonic naval conflict or the Regency ton season will pull Delilah away from her own stories. In this case we skirt edge of both, but Miss Dirk (unsurprisingly) refuses to be pulled into a pre-defined role.
I wonder if these stories will ever get picked up for the movie treatment they so clearly deserve....more
This was a beautiful book. Early-on, our main hero is told that "he is the one" to inherit his father's manuscript collection. With a few caveats - heThis was a beautiful book. Early-on, our main hero is told that "he is the one" to inherit his father's manuscript collection. With a few caveats - he is advised that he cannot sell them or give them away. It seems strange that he then took a job convince others to donate or sell their manuscripts to the Ahmed Baba Institute. However, the principle that ownership of manuscripts is a responsibility more than benefit is directly derived from those limitations and are clearly held by a whole community in Timbuktu.
In a world that seems increasingly full of fanatics fighting for ignorance, I find myself often wishing for fanatics willing to be as committed to preserving civilization. The residents of Timbuktu show how fanatic they are willing to be - facing jihadists, the Malian army, bandits, and even French attack helicopters....more
Much improved from the first volume. Instead of focusing the "mean girls in a boarding school" aspect, there's more of a focus on the idea of Ulga seaMuch improved from the first volume. Instead of focusing the "mean girls in a boarding school" aspect, there's more of a focus on the idea of Ulga searching for a "another way."
In particular, the discussion between Ulga and the pirate chief is a beautiful take on the choice to abandon civilization....more
Just as Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty looked to bring the framework of a police-procedural into Batman's Gotham City, this book is tryinJust as Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty looked to bring the framework of a police-procedural into Batman's Gotham City, this book is trying to bring a teen psychological-horror bent. We have noises in the walls, ghosts, and vague-dark family secrets. Of course in the middle of this, we also have Maps, a fun-loving D&D gamer-girl who gets great quotes like "I'm gonna loot the crap outta this place!"
For all that Bats appears in this book even less than in Gotham Central, you do get a feel fro how much the Dark Knight twists the world around him. The secret societies wear bat-masks. The brooding mystery-boy has Man-Bat syndrome. Like in Gotham Central, you are left wondering why Batman's calls get to be the last ones. Why does Batman get to decide who's to dangerous to be on the streets and who belongs in Arkham? There are clearly other ways to see the world, why does his charisma dominate this world so much that it feels like the Batman-aura is what's causing the decay of the Academy buildings....more
So both the last book Fortune's Pawn and this one end suddenly and very unfulfilled (I expect better from the third - assuming this a trilogy-only).
OnSo both the last book Fortune's Pawn and this one end suddenly and very unfulfilled (I expect better from the third - assuming this a trilogy-only).
Once again, Devi seems to be keeping her writer on her toes. Yes, she is now an avatar of death in some ways, but the more interesting bits are when she refuses to go along with where the plot wants her to go. "So now she needs to team up with Eyes in a tense alliance" "Nope! I smash out a window and run." "But they corner you in a quarry" "Nope! I swan-dive into the lake at the bottom and spend two-days wandering in caves to escape." "Fine! You team up with the not-Eyes then." "Nope! I drug the pilot and go to the Paradoxian Embassy!" " Got you now! The Paradoxians hand you over to Rupert."
Ah Rupert. What to do with Rupert.
He's gotten just a bit to kick-the-puppy for my taste. He is SOOO devoted to Devi. And she appreciates it, but I'm too much of a grudge-holder myself to root for him. Do what you want with him Devi. But if he tries to tell you what to do, or you get bored with him, kick him to the curb. There's always more fish in the sea....more
I had trouble not seeing this book (and series) through a role-playing game lens. Our hero, Devi Morris, is a straight-up WarHammer40K character complI had trouble not seeing this book (and series) through a role-playing game lens. Our hero, Devi Morris, is a straight-up WarHammer40K character complete with powered armor, fanatical king-worship, and general over-the-top badassery. Not a Mary Sue, but someone's Min/Max project for sure.
But the author/GM doesn't really care about Paradox or Devi's quest to become the Highlander a Devastator. That's all just a hook to bring her into a very different world. Here we have a cosmopolitan/multi-alien trade ship, and plasmex (Magic!), and conspiracies. We also get a list of ways to try and keep Devi from running rough-shot over the plot - we try romance, we make her enemies and allies both inexplicably more powerful than her, we wipe her memory.
Can't the girl just be a bad-ass? I know, the bad-ass, I-can-punch-my-way-out-of-any-problem stories are often bad. I know adversity builds drama. But I just got annoyed at what looked all the world like the author in a near panic trying to slow her main character down....more
I had an early-release version of this, so I'm not sure if the final will have color.
The setting was particularly relevant (a city at the choke-pointI had an early-release version of this, so I'm not sure if the final will have color.
The setting was particularly relevant (a city at the choke-point between inland rivers and the sea - and thus a stew-pot of invading cultures) as my family was about to head-off for a week in New Orleans.
At first I thought our hero had joined a Parkour Academy. No, he's just a not-so-effective standard military recruit. But now I want that story. Fung Fu Panda with parkour instead of kung fu... Harry Potter with parkour instead of magic and quidditch....more
My wife and I have become pretty big fans of the MCU and as part our excitement for the upcoming Civil War movie, we re-watched a bunch of the earlierMy wife and I have become pretty big fans of the MCU and as part our excitement for the upcoming Civil War movie, we re-watched a bunch of the earlier movies. Seeing all the movies in order - especially the Iron Man and Cap movies - really points-out the multi-movie character arcs for those two characters. Impressed with this, and knowing how bad some of the early Cap comics were pretty bad, my wife went looking for some of the books that inspired the MCU.
This book definitely provides not just larger themes, but also some key scenes to the Russo Brothers' film of the same name. Bucky/Winter Soldier is a pretty good character, at least as a backstory. We don't actually see too much of him as an actor with his own agency. That's a bit of a lack in the whole book. Cap himself is also rather lacking in agency for much of the book as well, instead just being manipulated (for reasons that I'm still not 100% clear on). I would have preferred seeing Steve Rodgers being a bit more active in dealing with his dreams instead of just getting increasingly angry, erratic, dangerous, and ineffective.
I've been a fan of Renee Montoya since I saw her take down Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in the Batman Animated series in one of Dini's better episodes.
For the first half I really enjoyed the frustration of Detective Driver. In many ways he seems destined to be a revenge-obsessed uber-detective; but alas, there is no intellectual oxygen left in Gotham for this role. ...more
I admit that I have very little experience in Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG and exactly non in Savage Worlds. That said, I enjoyed this kick-starterI admit that I have very little experience in Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG and exactly non in Savage Worlds. That said, I enjoyed this kick-starter book quite a bit.
The book is very nicely researched. The background on Section M and Majestic (the British and American anti-Mythos government organizations) at first feels a bit thin, but a) can be easily slotted into the real-world bureaucracies of the times, and b) leaves enough room for a GM to place their own POV characters and the players in the organization without disrupting things too much. The real success is in the backstory of Germany's mythos-powered factions. I found the background stories nicely defined and reflecting the factionalism seen elsewhere in the Nazi hierarchy.
If I had any complaints about this book it would be the focus on the Western Front and the British/American alliance and experience. That's a complaint about a lot of WWII literature, both fiction and non-fiction. Apparently there are or will be expansions to explore mythos involvement in the Pacific Theater and (ye gods) Eastern Front....more
A lot of comics in the early 2000's struggled with the fact that 9/11 brought comic-book destruction to America's firstAnother Valentine Day present.
A lot of comics in the early 2000's struggled with the fact that 9/11 brought comic-book destruction to America's first city. If we're going to see skyscrapers descend into piles of rubble on the news parts of our brains expect to see Superman fighting Bizzaro in the mix or at least Will Smith shooting down aliens. So we have this story, where there's one (struggling) superhero in NYC and he does at least mitigate the disaster.
And for his trouble he gets to be mayor.
The timeframe is very compressed for this first volume, no more than a few days, interspersed with flashbacks to or hero's childhood and superheroic early days. Like Saga, Volume 1, the story is slice-of-life for a rather strange life and I'm not sure if there ever will be proper story arcs or resolutions. So again, my frustration at how fast comic trades go by raises it's head....more
It's been a while since I last read Fables. The whole Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover made me slow-down and read some of the Jack books first. On top of that, I was a little unhappy with the character of the Dark Man introduced in Fables, Vol. 12: The Dark Ages. This volume adds more depth to the Dark Man character... I still feel like I'm missing the menace I should be feeling, but the whole Order of Boxers aside helped give some more feeling for the broader story.
I'm not sure how I feel about having Baba Yaga serve as the antagonist for the more humorous B-plot. I get that, as a geek - and a military history geek at that, I'm supposed to cheer for Buffkin & co. - he's dangerous because he's read everything! Unfortunately, I just don't feel it. Baba Yaga is just such a world-shifting creep-fest that I kept expecting Buffkin's rag-tag band to be annihilated.
Much like Princeless Volume 1: Save Yourself, I feel like this book suffers from a) having our protagonist have to be a princess (as if princess were code for woman/girl you have to care about - the rest you can ignore), and b) the "traditional" ideas of princess-hood that our hero rebels against seem beyond two-dimensional.
I understand the cultural power and ubiquity of the princess myth. I understand that it needs to be examined, changed, undermined, reviewed, and even re-claimed. But I still feel like I'd rather have a story of Ulga coming to the lowlands to learn of a way to resolve ancient conflicts without war, without her being a 'princess' than an ugly-duckling-in-a-princess-academy story.
That said, may has been re-reading it, so it's got to have some value. Maybe I'm just cynical....more
First-off, the story of La Maupin is definitely one of these "truth-is-stranger-than-fiction" types. She's practically a Mary Sue character from a 7thFirst-off, the story of La Maupin is definitely one of these "truth-is-stranger-than-fiction" types. She's practically a Mary Sue character from a 7th Sea (Seventh Sea) Player's Guide 1668 RPG campaign. Her story is SO very French that the mid-point of the book as triple-duel that I'd write-off as woefully derivative from the opening of The Three Musketeers if it wasn't documented.
That said, I'm not sure that I really like La Maupin as a character, as a person. She's vain, she's inconstant and inconsistent. I get the feeling that an arm-chair psychologist could diagnose her as manic-depressive or bi-polar. Maybe I've gotten too old for the idea of mad romance to be as compelling. La Maupin is amazing and astounding, but not someone that I think I'd even want to be in the same room with....more