This book really deserves 4.5 stars. From the cover and the blurb, I expected Norse Code to be a lot fluffier than it was, especially with the taglineThis book really deserves 4.5 stars. From the cover and the blurb, I expected Norse Code to be a lot fluffier than it was, especially with the tagline "Is this Ragnarok, or just California?". What I found was an ambitious re-telling of Norse mythology that encompassed our 21st century world. Greg van Eekhout manages to not only convey the complexity of Norse mythology, but he does it in a way that is completely comprehensible and entertaining. He accomplishes this feat in less than 300 pages.
Norse mythology seems to be an up-and-coming theme in fantasy literature these days. Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Elizabeth Bear's All the Windwracked Stars are both based on Norse myth. However, both seem to require a bit more knowledge of the subject. While knowing something about Norse mythology makes Norse Code more interesting, I think one could learn quite a bit about it just by reading this novel.
Norse Code was thoroughly entertaining and quite exciting. I just wish the publisher had come up with a less misleading cover and blurb.
I think I need to give this my mom rating too. While it is violent, it's no more violent than any ancient mythology. I wouldn't hesitate to give it to any teenager. Despite the cover, I think teenage boys might really like it....more
Bridge Of Souls is so utterly predictable and cliched. I knew every step of the way what was going to happen. I'm pretty sure I've seen the movie. I tBridge Of Souls is so utterly predictable and cliched. I knew every step of the way what was going to happen. I'm pretty sure I've seen the movie. I think it was either called Sleeping with the Enemy or Stir of Echoes. I don't even like romance novels. (I did go through a brief period in my twenties when I read Harlequin romances like candy though, so I'm no stranger to the genre.)
HOWEVER, despite all of the above, I found Bridge Of Souls to be a very, very enjoyable book. It was very well-paced and it kept my attention. (I tend to get ADD this time of year.) The characters seemed like real people, not stock characters. The supernatural twist wasn't overdone or hokey. There wasn't an over-abundance of sex and the one sex scene was more subtle and better written than most that I've run across over the years. In some ways, it reminded me of the Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt novels I used to read in my early teens.
There's really nothing new or groundbreaking here, but Wohl does an excellent job with the genre conventions. I especially liked the cover. It doesn't scream, "I'm a romance novel!" and it fits with the story that rises above cookie cutter romance....more
In rating The Looking Glass Wars, I'm going by the GoodReads definitions of the stars. Two stars means "It was ok". I admit that I've never read the LIn rating The Looking Glass Wars, I'm going by the GoodReads definitions of the stars. Two stars means "It was ok". I admit that I've never read the Lewis Carroll novels about Alice in Wonderland and the Disney movie was way too disturbing, so I guess I'm not an Alice fan to begin with. With that out of the way, I found Beddor's retelling of the classic to be dull and flat. The only parts that caught my interest were the scenes of Alyss in England and how she transitions from Alyss Heart to Alice Liddell. I thought she was much better as Alice.
If I had a young daughter or niece who was an Alice in Wonderland fan, I'd consider gifting her with this book. However, it somehow didn't reach the little girl inside of me....more
It's really hard to give a star rating to a short story collection, especially one by an author who is as hit-and-miss as Charles Stross. I've read twIt's really hard to give a star rating to a short story collection, especially one by an author who is as hit-and-miss as Charles Stross. I've read two of his novels. I hated one and really enjoyed the other. That's kind of how I feel about the stories in Wireless.
Two of the stories, "Down on the Farm" and "Palimpsest" would have rated 5 stars. I especially liked "Down on the Farm" and will be checking out his novels featuring The Laundry, The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue. "Rogue Farm" was an interesting story that reminded me a bit of some of Ian McDonald's stories. It would rate 4.5 stars.
In the truly awful category, we have "Trunk and Disorderly", a really lame attempt at humor that is absolutely disgusting. It's filled with vomit, drunkenness, and a really nasty dwarf mammoth. "A Colder War" also missed the mark for me. It didn't stick with any of the characters long enough to connect with them. As a result, the end didn't have the impact it should have. "Maxos", a letter published in "Nature" magazine was incomprehensible and didn't fit in a short story collection.
Somewhere in the middle, we have "Missile Gap" which is kind of like a "Twilight Zone" episode; "Snowball's Chance", a story about a devil; and "Unwirer", an alternate history that wasn't very plausible.
Overall, I would give this book 3.5 stars. I tilted it to 4 stars because I liked more of the stories than I disliked. ...more
I'm just going to get my complaint about this book off my chest before I start talking about the contents of Bad Monkeys. I absolutely hated the physiI'm just going to get my complaint about this book off my chest before I start talking about the contents of Bad Monkeys. I absolutely hated the physical format of this book. By the ISBN number, it comes up in GoodReads as being a hardback. Now, that's probably what the publisher called it and the cover is harder than a paperback, but it's not quite as hard as a hard back. That wouldn't be bad if it weren't for the fact that the book is considerably narrower than a typical hardback or trade paper back and considerably taller (and less flexible) than a mass market paperback. The pages were also a lot smaller than the covers. The full result was a book that was physically difficult to read. It felt cumbersome and it was difficult to hold comfortably. I couldn't put it down on my table or desk without it closing. I certainly hope that future edition will be printed in a more tried and true version.
Now that I've gotten my griping out of the way, on to my review:
Bad Monkeys wasn't at all what I expected. It was a compelling read and it constantly challenged the concept of reality. It had more twist and turns than a Six Flags roller coaster. It's either the story of good and evil top-secret organizations and double agents, or it's the story of a woman who is so wracked with guilt she invents a world in her mind that allows her to be a superhero. In the end, it really isn't clear what the truth is. The best thing about this fast-paced story is that it doesn't give us the answers, but leaves the interpretation up to each reader....more
Dracula The Un-Dead may easily be the worst book I ever read. The only reason I stuck with it to the end was to see how many atrocities one book couldDracula The Un-Dead may easily be the worst book I ever read. The only reason I stuck with it to the end was to see how many atrocities one book could possibly contain. The grammar is horrific. The story is overly melodramatic. It was implausible. It reads like bad fan fiction. It tries to throw in every gee-whiz technological marvel of the era, including the Titanic. (One character speeds down the road in his automobile at 10 miles per hour.) The horror is repetitive, poorly-written, and downright silly. There's a detective trying to solve a crime, but the reader already knows what's going on, so the mystery isn't very mysterious. In fact, you always know what's coming next. It even has Bram Stoker as a character and one chapter is a mini-biography of his life!
I think I'm going to go give The Historian another star. It was incredibly boring and turned Dracula into a nerd, but at least it had some suspense and was well-written. That book was a much better sequel to Bram Stoker's classic than this wanna-be....more
Recently, someone on one of the message boards I frequent posed the question, "Why is the Salvation Army looked upon more favorably than other religioRecently, someone on one of the message boards I frequent posed the question, "Why is the Salvation Army looked upon more favorably than other religious charities?" The overwhelming consensus was that they have a mission to help people without judging them or preaching to them, and people felt that that was rare among Christian organizations these days.
There's More to Life than Making a Living Mastering Six Key Essentials on the Way to a Life of Significance is a charming little book that's has something to offer everyone looking for more in life than the 9 to 5 rut. Without a doubt, it is a Christian book, but only because the author is Christian. His advice is sound whether one is Christian or not. Jack C. McDowell worked with the Salvation Army for 40 years planning and executing fundraising campaigns. Often, he would help other organizations such as the YMCA, United Way, churches and at least one synagogue raise funds for their projects. He found that once a community saw the benefits of giving generously to outstanding causes, all organizations benefited.
My favorite segment of this book was his discussion of tolerance. McDowell eloquently emphasizes the necessity of what he calls "active tolerance" with personal experience. In his opinion, you should not only "live and let live" but you should actively seek out the opinions and advice of people you don't agree with, who you may not like, or may think are real losers. (No, he doesn't call anyone a loser.) Through active tolerance, you can gain a perspective that you may not have gained otherwise. To me, this is a true Christian attitude. How much more effective is it to engage people in ways that make them feel validated than to take a holier-than-thou attitude and let them know you think they're going to hell.
I strongly recommend this book for all Christians. Mr. McDowell personifies Christianity the way Jesus taught it. His life is about feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and clothing the needy. His live is about loving your neighbor as yourself and remembering that everyone is your neighbor, not just the people who are like you.
Now, I am going to make a little plug. I have a sum of money set aside in my wallet for the next Salvation Army bell ringer I see. It's not loose change or whatever dollar bills I happen to have. This past week, the work the Salvation army does has really been brought to the forefront of my consciousness. I hope you'll take a look at what they do and drop something in the next kettle you see to.
I really don't know what to say about this terrific book. It's the fourth book I've read by Robert Charles Wilson and the best by far. (I really didn'I really don't know what to say about this terrific book. It's the fourth book I've read by Robert Charles Wilson and the best by far. (I really didn't think he could top Spin.)
Let's be clear that this book is not about Julian Comstock. It is about the narrator, a young man named Adam Hazzard. Along with his best friend, Julian, we are taken on a tour of what must be every aspect of post-apocalyptic America. In this case, the apocalypse is brought about by the collapse of oil, pollution, plague, infertility, and global warming. By the time this story starts, America has sort of been reformed.
I really loved Adam Hazzard. He is sweet, innocent, and a loyal friend. He's an unabashed romantic. This story has a refreshing innocence to it thanks to Adam's narration. For example, it's quite apparent that Julian is homosexual. In a society that is controlled by religious zealots, that is the ultimate sin. Although Adam tells us things that indicate that Julian is gay, he never says it outright and I suspect that he doesn't even realize it. I found it refreshing the way he talked about his physical relationship with his wife, Calyxa in a manner that's much like an old movie where the door closes and we don't see what happens behind it.
The Sons of Heaven is a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to Kage Baker's series about The Company, a corporation that has modified young children to gThe Sons of Heaven is a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to Kage Baker's series about The Company, a corporation that has modified young children to grow up into immortals. These immortals spend the centuries collection precious works of art, literature, and genetic material. In The Sons of Heaven, linear time is quickly approaching July 9, 2355. It's on this date that the temporal concordance, the record of all history, ends. Nobody knows why there aren't any entries in the temporal concordance after July 9, 2355, but they're about to find out.
This book is extremely well-paced and ties together the plot threads of the previous novels quite well. It had quite a few surprises and some great twists and turns. It's not the best book in the series. That would be a toss up between The Life of the World to Come or The Machine's Child.
There's really not much more I can say without giving away the whole thing....more
Humor in literature is a very subjective thing. What makes one person laugh his butt off is just dumb and annoying to someone else. I love the humor of Connie Willis and I am amused by the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I've had quite a few laugh-out-loud moments reading Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. Personally, I just didn't find The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or the first book in the Discworld series, The Color of Magic, funny at all, but a lot of people I know love these books. So, if you read The Stupidest Angel and hate it, don't blame me. We just might not have the same taste.
I don't know why I haven't read any of Christopher Moore's work before. If this is anything like his other books, I now now where to turn when I need a book that will make me laugh.
Oh, and there is a parental caution. This book is definitely R-rated for sexuality, language and adult situations. ...more
It's such a shame that Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue wasn't picked up by one of the big publishing houses. It's really one of the best young adultIt's such a shame that Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue wasn't picked up by one of the big publishing houses. It's really one of the best young adult science fiction novels I've read. I liked it so much more than Ender's Game. It's so well paced and the characters are so engaging. I can't believe how much action Hugh Howey packed into 283 pages. It never let up and there were surprising twists at every turn. Sadly, the big publications aren't printing much in the way of young adult space fiction. You have vampires, wizards and dystopias, but not many spaceships and alien cultures. You especially don't find much space fiction that have strong female protagonists who should appeal equally to girls and boys. I really loved that she spent absolutely no time worrying about her clothes or her makeup. Molly was a very realistic character. This is a great book if you have a teen you want to turn on to real science fiction, especially if that teen is a girl....more
First, as I was looking foRemember mortals, two stars is defined as "It was ok" by GoodReads. That's exactly what The Children of the Company was--ok.
First, as I was looking for the publication date, I noticed that it has several previously-published short stories worked into it. That explains why it seemed like one of those sitcom flashback episodes where the characters look back on different events and each one has a favorite story. It also explains why it delves into characters who are either minor characters or nonexistent in the rest of the series. (I have read the two books that come after this and they don't have larger parts coming up.) My two favorite scenes were the one with Lewis in 5th Century Ireland and Victor during the San Fransisco earthquake of 1906. Both storylines had been alluded to in prior novels in the series, so they did offer some clarification. As much as I like Latif, the story centering on him really didn't add anything to the overall Company universe.
A couple of weeks ago, my 11th grade niece called to ask which book she should read off her recommended reading list for AP English. When she got to TA couple of weeks ago, my 11th grade niece called to ask which book she should read off her recommended reading list for AP English. When she got to The Color Purple, I commented that I had never read it and I wasn't sure why. Honestly, I do like Alice Walker. Possessing the Secret of Joy has stuck with me for years and there was a short story we read in one of my college lit classes that I loved. Heck, The Color Purple was even turned into an Oscar-winning movie that I never saw. On my next trip to the library, I made sure I brought this "highly acclaimed" novel home.
I can honestly say that I'm glad I read it. I was very caught up in Celie's life and I loved how she and the people around her changed through the years. Even the people who start off despicable grow and change for the better. The changes they make seem normal and natural. I know Walker has messages in this story, I'm just trying to figure out which was the most important. To me, the most overwhelming impression was that Celie and most of the people around her were living in a slavery of their own making. The men beat their women to make them mind. The women accept it. When a woman such as Shug or Sofia take another path, they are labeled as "wild" or "loose" and ostracized by their community. I don't know, maybe I have that all wrong. It just seemed to me that Celie would have been right at home on a plantation a hundred years earlier. She's just too willing to accept that the way things are is the way they are supposed to be. Of course, Walker uses other characters, like Shug and Nettie, to show us that there is another way.
I probably didn't say any of that very well. While Walker is absolutely writing about black women in the first half of the Twentieth Century, the attitudes and messages apply to all women. You don't deserve to be raped and beaten. You can make your own choices in life and blaze your own trail. You deserve to be loved and cherished. Thank goodness Celie learned these lessons. I'm glad I finally read this book.
I didn't get enough sleep the last three nights and was very groggy at work the past three days. My current catatonia is a result of this book that II didn't get enough sleep the last three nights and was very groggy at work the past three days. My current catatonia is a result of this book that I couldn't put down once I started reading it in the evening. My alarm goes off at 5:00 in the morning, so staying up reading until past 11:30 is a very bad thing. But, I was so caught up in the story of Truly Plaice and the small town of Aberdeen in an unnamed state. I'm not going to bore you with plot details, I'm just going to say that I loved this book. It might not be for everyone, but I thought it was wonderful....more
Since joining GoodReads, my reading has become much more prolific and eclectic. Thanks to the reviews of the members here, I have been much more succeSince joining GoodReads, my reading has become much more prolific and eclectic. Thanks to the reviews of the members here, I have been much more successful at finding books that appeal to me and are worth my time. One of the books that I read this year as a result of GoodReads reviews was “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson. “Gilead” was one of the most profoundly moving books I have ever read. It touched my heart in a way that few books ever do. It spoke of faith and forgiveness in such a reverent manner. I may have to review my top-10 list and find a way to make room for “Gilead” on it.
The thing about “Gilead” is that it was a stand-alone novel. It had an ending that was natural and made sense. It left no room for a sequel. Robinson’s latest novel set in the Iowa town of Gilead, “Home”, is not a sequel. Instead, it is a parallel novel. It takes place in the same time period as “Gilead”, but is told from the point of view of the youngest Boughton child, Glory. Glory is a 38-year-old spinster who comes home to take care of her aging father. Some time after she arrives, her wayward brother, Jack, comes home after a twenty-year absence. “Home” examines the relationship that develops between Jack and Glory as they get to know each other and take care of their now-fragile father. Through Glory’s loving and accepting eyes, we get to see a side of Jack that is quite different from the person John Ames sees in “Gilead”.
I had a few problems with “Home”. Most importantly, Robinson chose to use an third person narrator for this story instead of letting Glory tell it in first person as John Ames did in “Gilead”. While the point of view is mostly Glory’s, Robinson lets herself comment on other character’s thoughts and feelings. It seems sloppy, especially when it happens mid-paragraph. It was also strange reading about Jack when I already knew a lot of his story from “Gilead”. I knew who Della was and why he hadn’t brought her with him. Knowing what I knew, it made his reactions to certain news stories make sense. However, he never once comes out and tells Glory the information he told John Ames in “Gilead” about Della. Glory doesn’t find out until the very end though a very implausible circumstance. It was very, very odd already knowing the story of Jack as “Home” is unfolding. That said, I really don’t think “Home” stands on its own the way “Gilead” did. I think if the reader hasn’t read the first novel, there is no way he or she is going to understand what is going on in this one. On the other hand, “Gilead” totally spoils “Home”. The whole thing is given away before the reader even picks it up. I also felt that I wanted to know more about Glory and the period between childhood and her return home. We get a bit of her story, but I would have liked it to have been more substantial.
I am giving “Home” three stars because it is beautifully written. The imagery is subtle but amazingly well done. I could see the Boughton house, garden and barn so clearly in my mind. The setting really came to life and almost became a character of its own. I liked that we got to see a bit of Lila Ames as a real person instead of an idealized wife and mother.
I’m going to end this review with a question that kept coming to my mind. Why did the Boughtons choose Glory as the name for their youngest daughter? The other girls were named Faith, Hope and Grace. In my mind, I kept thinking that the fourth girl should be named Charity, not Glory. I thought Glory was an unusual choice. ...more
I was all ready to give March by Geraldine Brooks three stars until I got to this passage:
"I am not alone in this. I only let him do to me what men ha
I was all ready to give March by Geraldine Brooks three stars until I got to this passage:
"I am not alone in this. I only let him do to me what men have ever done to women: march off to empty glory and hollow acclaim and leave us behind to pick up the pieces. The broken cities, the burned barns, the innocent injured beasts, the ruined bodies of the boys we bore and the men we lay with.
The waste of it. I sit here, and I look at him, and it is as if a hundred women sit beside me: the revolutionary farm wife, the English peasant woman, the Spartan mother-'Come back with your shield or on it,' she cried, because that was what she was expected to cry. And then she leaned across the broken body of her son and the words turned to dust in her throat."
If you were ever a little girl in America, chances are you have read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. You probably grew up with Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. You experienced their life living with their mother while their father was off serving the Union Army in the Civil War. You felt their excitement whenever Marmee would read them a letter from him. You know how Marmee was called away to help her beloved husband recover from some unnamed illness in an army hospital. What you never got was a real glimpse of the adult lives that circled around the March girls. In fact, you never even learn their parents' first names.
Geraldine Brooks must have had the same fascination with Little Women that so many of us former little girls did. She takes that fascination and fleshes out the story of Mr. and Mrs. March. The story opens with March (never a first name) writing a letter home to Marmee. (We find that Marmee is was everyone called her, not just the girls.) As he finishes his writing, the story takes us to the uncensored version of his past and what is happening to him at the moment. It's not all as he portrays in his letters. He's kind of interesting at first, but he gets kind of dull pretty quickly. The guy is just too emotional and flowery. What is interesting is his recollections of Marmee. She is by far a much more interesting character and the story definitely takes off once she takes over the narration in the second part of the book, when she comes to the hospital to nurse her husband back to health. Up until that point, I was thinking that this book was definitely a 3. I was kind of wondering what the competition was for the Pulitzer that year. I do have to give Brooks credit for trying to add a new, adult dimension to a nationally loved work of children's literature. I think she did a good job of creating something fresh while honoring the classic....more
ARRRRGH!!!! I had a great review typed and it got lost when I tried to save. I'll try again.
I couldn't resist Shatnerquake when it came up on my AmazoARRRRGH!!!! I had a great review typed and it got lost when I tried to save. I'll try again.
I couldn't resist Shatnerquake when it came up on my Amazon recommendations. It was as funny as the title and the main character promised. It's pretty gory, but a lot of fun. Burk does a great job of capturing Shatner's speech patterns in print.
The only reason this book gets 3 stars instead of 4 is that it's too darn short. It only took 45 minutes to read. But, it was one of the most entertaining 45 minutes I've spent in a long time....more
I didn't know what to expect when I ordered a copy of War for the Oaks for one of my GoodReads group. Right now, I have way too many books to read andI didn't know what to expect when I ordered a copy of War for the Oaks for one of my GoodReads group. Right now, I have way too many books to read and not enough time to read them. I certainly didn't expect that I'd find a book that I had a hard time putting down and ended up finishing in two days.
As I understand it, War for the Oaks is an early example of urban fantasy. What wonderful urban fantasy it was. I loved the adventure and romanticism, the music and the fairies (don't call them that). Popular music plays a central role in this book. I've read quite a few books that try to integrate rock & roll, but they usually end up being really, really cheesy and imbued with that "isn't it cool to be a rock star" tone. In this case, music and the rock scene is simply a part of Eddi's life and Ms. Bull handles it very well. A few things do make the story a bit dated, like some clothing descriptions and the constant references to how hot Prince is. (I never thought he was.) But, most of the story manages to avoid most things that would make it seem exceptionally dated.
Now, it's really possible that this book doesn't deserve five stars. In fact it's quite likely it doesn't. But, I gave it the highest rating because I loved it and it was great escapism. One warning: this is chick lit. I can't see much here that would appeal to most guys. But, I'm a girl and I liked it....more
This book really got me thinking about slavery and its effects worldwide. It made me sad and angry and frustrated. Some of my thoughts:
1. We all knowThis book really got me thinking about slavery and its effects worldwide. It made me sad and angry and frustrated. Some of my thoughts:
1. We all know about slavery in the United States. We all know a bit about the slave trade and about how an uncountable number of Africans died on the way to America. We know that rum is involved somewhere in there. What we aren't told is the impact the slave trade had on Africa. DeWolf doesn't explicitly make the connection, but I did. I have often wondered why Africa is in the state it's in. Why are people fighting each other? Why are there so many famines and so much poverty? Why does Africa seem so broken? From the stats in this book, I conclude that the loss of millions of the youngest and strongest people from the continent over hundreds of years couldn't help but set back the region.
2. Human beings like cheap goods and services. Until the late 19th Century, slavery was the way labor was obtained cheaply. In some parts of the world, slavery is still a reality. We still demand cheap goods and services. Is importing these goods from sweatshops in Third World countries or using illegal immigrant laborers really that much better than slavery?
3. As a Christian, I am absolutely appalled that people who participated in the slave trade called themselves "Christians". Where's the Golden Rule? Where's loving your neighbor as yourself? Where's the compassion for the poor and downtrodden? How could Christians (or any human being) not see the Africans as human beings? In fact, how can any human deny the humanity of other humans, regardless of race, color or creed?
4. I'm not sure that we can ever cross the gulf that divides the races in this country. I was raised believing that all of us are the same under the skin. I was raised believing that God loves us all equally. As I grow older, I'm stunned and saddened that there are so many who still don't believe those things. I dream Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream that one day we will be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.
I really hope I don't create a giant controversy with this review. I just couldn't write about this book without talking about the feelings and ideas it stirred up in me. It's hard talking about race in this country without it leading to hard feelings on both sides. It's hard to say the right things and often there is no right thing to say. I think that's the main point of DeWolf's book.
Over the course of several centuries, immortal cyborgs Joseph and Lewis try to find out what happened to their friend and fellow immortal, Mendoza, whOver the course of several centuries, immortal cyborgs Joseph and Lewis try to find out what happened to their friend and fellow immortal, Mendoza, who dropped off the face of the planet in 1863. The discoveries they make along the way reveal a lot of disturbing things about the Company that created them. This book is definitely the linchpin in the series. (I read two of the later books out of order, so I know what happens next.) With The Graveyard Game, the saga develops more depth and complexity. I especially liked the character of Lewis, the literature specialist. I think he may be the best character in the series (so far)....more
I gave this collection four stars because it's H.G. Wells. Honestly, his style hasn't aged very well. With the exception of a few stories, the tales aI gave this collection four stars because it's H.G. Wells. Honestly, his style hasn't aged very well. With the exception of a few stories, the tales are all told second-hand. The first-person narrator knows someone or meets someone who has an extraordinary tale to tell and passes it on to him. The narrator then tells the reader the story--just as it was told to him. A straight third-person POV would have worked much better.
As edited by Ursula K. LeGuin (with commentary), this collection is broken down into six categories:
I. Visionary Science Fiction II. Technological and Predictive Science Fiction III. Horror IV. Fantasies V. Fables VI. Psycho-Social Science Fiction
I was really surprised at how poorly the science fiction short stories in the first two sections worked. Not only were most of the stories set up in that third-hand reporting style, but they bogged down in scientific explanation. Now, I have read quite a few of Wells' SF novels, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds and The Island of Dr. Moreau are really wonderful examples of Wells' talent at taking science and combining it with an exciting story that both entertains and educates. The problem with the short stories is that the packs the same amount of science into them as he does into a novel and the story gets lost in the details. In the first two sections, only Under the Knife and The Star stand out as being really good stories.
Once we leave the first two sections and move on to the Horror, Fantasy and Fable sections, Well's storytelling gets to shine through. He's not trying to make science comprehensible to the masses anymore and can focus on just telling a story. Here again, he relies heavily on the third-hand narration technique, but it's not quite as annoying. Many of the stories in this section reminded me very much of The Twilight Zone. In fact, I suspect quite a few stories in that classic TV series were inspired by the short stories of Mr. Wells. The fables were particularly interesting because they are so unlike any of Wells' other work. In these sections, my favorite stories were The Magic Shop, The Door in the Wall and The Wild Asses of the Devil.
The last section had only two stories. One, The Queer Story of Brownlow's Newspaper was written rather late in Wells' career and is a fine story about a man who gets a copy of a newspaper published 40 years in the future. The final story in the collection, The Country of the Blind, was originally published in 1904 and re-published in 1939 with a different ending. LeGuin says that this is the best of Wells' short stories, but I personally liked The Magic Shop better. The story is printed here with both endings and I do believe the 1939 ending is far better.
I think one of the problems I had with this collection is that all of the stories seemed so familiar. However, I believe that is because Wells was a great inspiration to future generations of science fiction. His stories are the originals and the newer ones are just copies. This collection is well worth reading if you are a science fiction aficionado because it will give you insight into the origins of the genre....more
Once upon a time, I was a low-wage worker. I worked long hours in retail for too little pay. Even as a store manager, I made about $10,000 per year inOnce upon a time, I was a low-wage worker. I worked long hours in retail for too little pay. Even as a store manager, I made about $10,000 per year in the late Eighties. If I hadn't been able to live with my parents, I don't know how I could have been able to afford rent and childcare, much less food on what I made. Because I was working, I didn't qualify for anything like subsidized childcare or food stamps. The waiting list for subsidized housing was endless. Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America explores the world of low-wage workers in Florida, Maine and Minnesota. Surprisingly enough, Minnesota was the toughest place to get by. It sounded almost as bad as California.
While I did find this book to be very readable and was compelled to keep turning the pages, I often found the author's attitude smug and condescending. Her introduction and conclusion were fairly inane and didn't offer any real insight or solutions other than the usual provided by those who neither struggle to keep businesses running with a modest profit nor are caught in the struggle of trying to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. She also didn't look at the feminist aspect of this. Now, I'm no big feminist, but even I can see that the big problem is that the low-paying jobs the author explored were ones traditionally held by women: waitressing, nursing home aide, maid, and retail worker. These jobs are not only low paying, they don't offer much room for advancement or leave them with much time or energy to pursue other options. I don't think she even noticed that she was surrounded with a lot of women and not very many men who weren't making it in America....more
For some unfathomable reason, I decided to start working Pulitzer Prize winning novels into my regular reading. I'd already read several, and it justFor some unfathomable reason, I decided to start working Pulitzer Prize winning novels into my regular reading. I'd already read several, and it just seems like a good idea.
Middlesex wasn't exactly what I expected. Heck, I'm not really sure what I expected. What I knew was that the protagonist was a girl who discovered that she was really a boy at the age of 14. What I didn't expect was a warm, loving, often funny family saga. Jeffrey Eugenides quite clearly has a fondness for his Greek heritage and treats his characters with a great deal of affection. Middlesex reminded me a lot of The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. While it's not as zany as Irving's work, it has that same affectionate quirkiness. It's hard not to like the characters and feel sympathy for them even when they're doing the wrong thing. I thought Eugenides' use of a first-person omniscient narrator was probably the most daring aspect of the book. For some reason, the incest, the sexuality and the gender confusion weren't in the least exploitative or titillating. I came away feeling like I understood what it must really be like to be a man who was raised as a girl. I felt I understood the Greek immigrant experience. I loved the back-drop of twentieth-century Detroit and how the setting was as much a character as the people. I felt like Lefty, Desdemona, Milton, Tessie, Chapter Eleven and Callie were my family and I loved them like family, quirks and all. This was definitely worth reading....more
Sabriel is a wonderful fantasy quest story that takes all the familiar tropes and makes them seem fresh and new. There really isn't anything that's grSabriel is a wonderful fantasy quest story that takes all the familiar tropes and makes them seem fresh and new. There really isn't anything that's groundbreaking in this novel, but it somehow seems like a story that's totally unique. Sabriel made me feel that same youthful excitement for reading that the Harry Potter books did, and it was much shorter. Nix did a fabulous job of creating a very rich, magical world in a small number of pages. This is proof that fantasy does not have to cover ten 1000-page volumes to be satisfying....more
When I read the first chapter of All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear, I thought I would be giving it 5 stars. The language is beyond beautifulWhen I read the first chapter of All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear, I thought I would be giving it 5 stars. The language is beyond beautiful. The story is told in the manner of an epic poem, without the verse. This is the stuff of myth and legend and that is reflected in the style. The reader doesn't really connect to the characters, but can one really ever connect to legends?
I ended up downgrading this story by one star for a couple of reasons. First, about halfway through the book, I realized that I was so caught up with the way Bear was telling the story that I missed some of the setup for the main action. I had to flip back a few time to figure out what was going on. Second, the time spans encompassed in this story were confusing and I it seemed to me that I never knew how much time had passed. Characters would be in one place for what seemed like months, but they got back to where they had been in a few days.
If you're one of those people who checks out where readers shelve books, you'll see that I've put this on both my fantasy and sci-fi shelves. All the Windwracked Stars is mostly fantasy, but it has the stuff of science fiction going on in it too. It's supposed to be the first book in a trilogy, but it stands well on its own. It's a challenging read, beautifully done. It reminded me a lot of Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. If you liked that book, you should like this one as well....more
I did find it very interesting that Kepler was one of the first people to write science fiction. It seems that people have been writing the genre at least since the Age of Discovery to explain science in ways ordinary people can understand and imagine it. It's been used at least that long to imagine the possibilities that science opens up.
Different Engines How Science Drives Fiction and Fiction Drives Science has a rather unusual format. Instead of having the notes at the end of the volume, the notes are at the end of each chapter. The result is a volume that reads more like a series of college term papers rather than a cohesive unit. I found that the authors tended to be a bit overambitious in their scope. I sometimes ended up rather confused and had difficulty figuring out where the transition was from one concept to another.
There were a few books mentioned by the authors that I'd like to read someday:
I just hate the term "a real page-turner". However, that's what Sworn to Silence was. I kept sneaking reading time to find out what would happen next.I just hate the term "a real page-turner". However, that's what Sworn to Silence was. I kept sneaking reading time to find out what would happen next. It really deserves 3 to 3.5 stars, but I gave it a boost for how involved I got in it. I do have to say that I really did roll my eyes around page 250 and rolled them even more at page 260. Let's just say that something is brought into the story that is totally unnecessary and detracts from the overall realism of this mystery thriller.
I was really surprised at who the murderer was in this book. It made total sense once it was revealed, but I was very surprise. The only thing I was certain of was that the murderer was not the person the police chief thought it was. I really liked Chief Katie Burkholder. She was an interesting, although somewhat cliched, protagonist. The ending was very dramatic and suspenseful, but pretty predictable.
In many ways, Sworn to Silence reminded me of In the Woods by Tana French. It was almost as good, but a bit more cliched and predictable. I can forgive the flaws though because I did get sucked in and that counts for something.
Now, I do feel compelled to offer a caveat here. Sworn to Silence is not for those with weak stomachs or who can't handle graphic descriptions of mutilated corpse and sexual assault. I was cringing at some of the descriptions of the murder victims in this book and the scenes that were from the killer's or victims' point of view were really hard to take. I suspect that Ms. Castillo did a lot of research because her descriptions struck me as horrifyingly realistic. I definitely would not be able to handle this if it were a movie, it would just be too hard to see. ...more
I have two complaints about this book. First, you can never take Harbor Blvd. to Brookhurst St. The two run parallel and you have to turn somewhere toI have two complaints about this book. First, you can never take Harbor Blvd. to Brookhurst St. The two run parallel and you have to turn somewhere to get from one to the other. Second, the ending is far, far worse than a cliffhanger. It's an ambiguous ending. ARRRRGHHHH!!!!!!
Other that those two flaws, the book was a worthy conclusion to the Marked series. It leaves a lot of room for a fourth volume though....more
I just have to say that Tor's marketing for this series is absolute genius. They released the first book, Eve of Darkness, at the end of April. This oI just have to say that Tor's marketing for this series is absolute genius. They released the first book, Eve of Darkness, at the end of April. This one, Eve of Destruction, followed on June 1, and the finale, Eve of Chaos, came out on June 30. I call this genius marketing because they are perfect beach reads and it's hard to imagine having to wait a year (or more) for the next installment. I think the series would probably lose momentum if the reader had to wait for the next volume.
Eve of Destruction starts off after the first scene of Eve of Darkness. (The first book starts at the end and the rest of the story is told as a flashback.) In Eve of Destruction, Eve is coming to terms with having been chosen as a Mark and is beginning her serious training as a hunter of infernals. We learn a lot more about the nature of angels, marks, and infernals. The story zips right along. It's an episode of Ghost Hunters at Camp Crystal Lake. It's got a good mystery and some surprising twists.
Fortunately, I have the third book already. I'll probably start it at the gym tonight....more
I kept hearing that this novel is difficult to read because it's almost all dialogue. I didn't find it difficult for that reason. Reading Manservant and Maidservant was very much like reading a play. I used to like reading plays. What made the book difficult was how characters went through changes and did things without much motivation. I didn't find much consistency in any of the characters other than the children. I found them to be delightful and their scenes were the best in the book. It was as if all those children in the stories I grew up with were placed in a household with normal, less-than-perfect parents.
Of the commentary I read, Horace Lamb is referred to as a sadist who is suddenly motivated to change his ways. Quite frankly, I wonder how anyone could read the book and slap him with the label of sadist. He's a man who is dependent on his wife's money. She loves her children far more than she loves him. He has grown to be miserly and controlling. However, a sadist inflicts pain for his own pleasure. If Horace ever caused anyone physical pain, I didn't catch it. He was very strict and punitive with his children, but he was acting in what I believe he thought was the children's best interest. He thought he was making them better people. They were afraid of his anger, not physical punishment. I don't think he was much different than many fathers throughout the ages.
The scenes with the servants were the most confusing. George was a real puzzle and his actions at the end didn't make any sense based on his attitudes throughout the book. The Doubleday family also didn't make sense, especially the way they just disappeared from the story.
I primarily gave this book 3 stars because of the scenes with the Lamb children. I think Compton-Burnett could have done a great job of writing a story focused just on them. It would be a fractured version of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew or Little Women with dysfunctional parents instead of perfect parents and well-suited to the 21st Century....more