I had never even heard of the Pern books before last year, although I am not sure why. McCaffrey published these books in the 70s, and so I would haveI had never even heard of the Pern books before last year, although I am not sure why. McCaffrey published these books in the 70s, and so I would have been able to find them when I started voraciously reading Fantasy around 1985. Perhaps it was because I mainly focused on Dragonlance at the time. In any event, this series of books sets up quite an intriguing world.
This volume is a compilation of the first 3 books in the series: Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon.
Pern is a world where Dragons and humans work together to protect the land from what is called Thread, a burrowing silvery life form thing that seems to come from an orbiting celestial object. The technology is similar to what we think about as medieval, with some interesting additions that come from the "ancients" who seem to have known more about technology than the current inhabitants of Pern. However, I didn't find that the setting felt medieval or a copy of what I read in dozens of other fantasy settings. The idea of a dragon home (weyr) and government system that supported them and the strange mating rituals of the dragons and riders, were quite interesting and provided plenty of conflict and tension. Since Pern is a whole world (although we only get to see the northern most part for most of the volume), there are lots of different regions and climates to experience so that it feels like there is always something more to see or learn.
The main characters threaded through most of the volume are F'Lar (a dragon rider), Lessa (a weyrwoman), Master Robinton (a Harper in the tradition of gypsy with a dash of court jester and a side of master manipulator), and (eventually) Jaxom (a future Lord of Ruatha Hold). I can't say too much about them each without delving into spoilers, but I will say that they are each well developed and they grow and learn. It is nice to be able to follow their progress and cheer them on.
There are lots of mysteries and conflicts between Holds and Weyrs to keep things very interesting. I will say that it took me awhile to get into the last book in the set because it felt much slower and more focused on political issues rather than action and danger like the first two. But, I definitely felt myself looking for opportunities to read more and more as I neared the end of the book. I was fascinated by the planet and the discoveries they were making as I tried to anticipate what they might find or how it would impact the inhabitants of the planet.
I am curious about the rest of the series - I just don't know if I am going to start adding them in now or wait until I've gotten my "To Read" pile a little smaller first....more
This was another book club selection. We were supposed to read it in the month of October. However, I found it very difficult to get into it and to beThis was another book club selection. We were supposed to read it in the month of October. However, I found it very difficult to get into it and to be interested. I think the main problem is that I was expecting this to be more about the devil/murderer (see the bigger font on the cover) and less about the white city (Chicago's world fair), but it was completely the opposite.
It is not that the writing was bad or the information was boring. In fact, the descriptions were generally well done and I could "see" the white city come to fruition in my mind's eye. I just didn't necessarily care. I kept wanting to read more about the murderer or even why the boat captain refused to send Burnham's message to Millett. The information about Holmes, the serial killer, was frustratingly minuscule compared to the mounds of data given about the fair. I felt like I only got tiny glimpses and no real story.
Therefore, it took me until now to finally wade through it and finish the book. I'm not sorry I read it. I'm just disappointed that it was not 2 separate books (or, rather, a book and a pamphlet)....more
I chose this as the book club selection for our group. I based my decision off of a review by Orson Scott Card, because I find that we have similar taI chose this as the book club selection for our group. I based my decision off of a review by Orson Scott Card, because I find that we have similar tastes.
While my book club had problems with it (as did I), I did enjoy it and the discussion that it created.
Plot: The gist of this suspense novel is that Evie is called on to help her mother, who is quite old and who has apparently gone on a massive alcohol overdosing binge. Evie meets the nice older lady next door, who seems to be losing her memory. But someone also seems to be trying to get rid of all the old people in the area. Or is it just in the old lady's mind? The plot was fairly straightforward, with not a lot of twists or turns. My book group thought the ending was too obvious. I had to explain the difference between mystery and suspense, dramatic irony and tension. The plot, to me, wasn't a problem because this is an Idea story and that is what interested me.
Setting: The story is set in the imaginary location of Higgs Point, roughly around Clason Point in the Bronx. Most of the description was spent on the dilapidated home of Evie's mother and the contrast with the neighbor's home. Scenery was mostly just background and I felt like this could have been placed just about anywhere. The setting didn't get in the way of the story (except for the idea of a huge basement holding carnival rides on a point of land where the water table would have been fairly close to the surface).
Characters: Most of my book group felt like the characters were all really one-dimensional, with no complexity and no character arcs. There was the obvious bad guy, the jerk boyfriend, the independent and fierce protagonist, the perfect sister, and the nice old lady. While the characters are rather obviously typed, I found that I liked Evie and the old lad, Mina. And I thought that they were developed well through the story.
Conflict: The conflict of growing old and being taken care of and independence were all intertwined here in a lovely way for me. It reminded me of King Lear. The idea that old people are and can be taken advantage of, has some interesting turns. And while this kind of topic might not appeal to a younger crowd, it is relevant in the way we treat each other and the cultural expectations (or lack thereof) of respect for elders.
Text: The writing was unobtrusive and clear....more
This month's book club selection was a strange one. But it was also a fun and quick read.
Saga is a graphic novel (meaning that there are lots of pictuThis month's book club selection was a strange one. But it was also a fun and quick read.
Saga is a graphic novel (meaning that there are lots of pictures and not as many words). It is also graphic because it is bloody and has some swearing and naked aliens. So, this book will not be for everyone.
I enjoyed the story and the characters. There is some good characterization going on here and the conflicts are meaningful (but not heavy-handed)....more
Another bookclub selection. I have only ever seen the movies, so I wasn't sure what to expect.
I also didn't realize that this was Fleming's first bookAnother bookclub selection. I have only ever seen the movies, so I wasn't sure what to expect.
I also didn't realize that this was Fleming's first book (nor did I realize that he wrote what became Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).
I may read other later books in the series, but this was definitely a first crack at writing. There were some interesting events and the Bond character was larger than life. But, the descriptions were sometimes overly stylized for my taste and the focus on minutiae made the book hard to get through at times.
Still, it was a fun read and very interesting in how different from the more modern versions of the movies that I've seen....more
Just finished reading this book for my book club (I am late). It was a bit difficult for me to get into.
It kind of read like a joke book where every sJust finished reading this book for my book club (I am late). It was a bit difficult for me to get into.
It kind of read like a joke book where every sentence is a setup to a joke.
And, while I appreciate Mr. Gaffigan's clean humor and focus on being a dad, it felt a bit disconnected because of all the jokes and the need to be funny all the time (because it is not).
I did enjoy much of the humor and his interesting take on fatherhood. I would have just liked something more autobiographical with humorous stories thrown in rather than what felt like a script for a show (with "beat" thrown in to make sure I caught the humor)....more
I wish the movie had been as emotionally charged as the book was. I am glad that I got to read the book as part of my book club group.
I learned thingsI wish the movie had been as emotionally charged as the book was. I am glad that I got to read the book as part of my book club group.
I learned things I didn't know about about WWII (which is, admittedly, not all that much). Specifically about the air force and bombers. I also gained new understanding into the Japanese psyche as portrayed by Hillenbrand.
Some of my book group were surprised by the cruelty of The Bird and other guards and how they could go "back to being normal people" after the war. There have been studies done on the whole "I was just acting under orders" kind of attitude and how susceptible people are to it. I'm not trying to excuse what they did, but to point out that the "bad guy" isn't always easy to identify. I also want to point out the this is one area where the movie failed. If it would have showed some guards being merciful and kind (as in the book), the film would have been taken to a whole new level. (Also, they should have cut out much more of the ocean time -- just saying).
I asked the book club why they thought about the title. Because it seems that Louis was broken by the end and especially afterwards. I'm not sure, but to me it seems like the highlight was him turning all that around and becoming un-broken so he could forgive and let it go. This is also what I missed in the movie (the whole "after" part was cut down to just a couple sentences on a black screen), where the climax for the director seemed to be the whole holding up the log thing -- while certainly impressive and showing his determination, it was just another example, not a big turning point.
I also enjoyed the little rebellions of the prisoners that were highlighted in the book (but only very briefly in the movie), because it showing the survival and resilience that are part of the book's title....more
I got this book because the story I am writing has some inter-dimensional elements in it and I wanted to get a little more science behind what I was wI got this book because the story I am writing has some inter-dimensional elements in it and I wanted to get a little more science behind what I was writing. I was hoping for science that I could understand, but this is more a new-age, popular take on the science related to M theory (string theory). Still, it was interesting to get this take on it and there are things that were very useful for me and for what I want to do. The explanations were pretty clear and the idea seems to hold together fairly well....more
I have been slowly making my way through this book on my Nook. I have so many physical books on my shelf to read, that I often forgot about this one.I have been slowly making my way through this book on my Nook. I have so many physical books on my shelf to read, that I often forgot about this one. Or, my Nook battery would die before I could get to it.
In any case, I wanted to read this classic because of all the hype and other takes on the vampire genre. It was nothing like I expected (the genre has come a long way from these origins, for good and ill) and yet exactly as it needed to be.
The use of letters and diaries as the method for exposition and even action was intriguing to me. It make the suspense that much keener and it also made it easier for the author to "hide" some of the actions and motivations of various characters, especially of Dracula.
I've always heard about the turning into bat thing that vampires do, but I had not heard about the wolf as well. Nor about the being able to control wolves and rats as well as bats.
This was definitely written a long time ago, and so it has some of the same literary devices and writing style that characterize the era. That isn't a bad thing, but it is different than we expect in modern writing, so it takes some adjusting to....more
Since this is the second book in the series, I won't review it as rigorously as I usually do.
However, I will say that I found this book to be even betSince this is the second book in the series, I won't review it as rigorously as I usually do.
However, I will say that I found this book to be even better written than the first and the plot and characters and tension were so much more real and dynamic to me. This makes sense because it is the middle book in a trilogy. But, I thought that Roth did exceptionally well with keeping the pace moving along briskly while still giving the reader time to enjoy the characters and to feel the danger and uncertainty.
I am excited to read the last book in the series -- sooner rather than later....more