When I was growing up, we received a book every quarter from Reader's Digest Condensed Books. For those of you too young to remember these treasures,...moreWhen I was growing up, we received a book every quarter from Reader's Digest Condensed Books. For those of you too young to remember these treasures, a Readers Digest Condensed Book contained abridged versions of 4-5 recent releases and bestsellers. When I was about 8 years old, in third grade, I picked up one of these volumes that contained To Kill a Mockingbird. That story grabbed me and taught me about race, justice, and acceptance. I saw the world completely through Scout's eyes. Being the same age as her, I could easily identify with her. When I grew up an re-read the book, I found that I had missed a lot of the little lessons in the story, but I did pick up on the big ones. When my daughter was old enough, I bought her a copy and she loved it just as much as I did.
I really wanted a copy of Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird when I first saw it in the bookstore a few months ago. Fortunately, I found a copy under my Christmas tree along with a 50th Anniversary hardcover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird in a slipcase. Scout, Atticus, and Boo turned out to be a treasure. I loved reading the interviews with people, famous and not, who had been touched by Harper Lee's classic. I was really surprised by the number of interviewees who had read it as early in their lives as I had. I also was surprised by how many people had used it in their classrooms and/or had been exposed to it first as a high school reading assignment. Unfortunately, neither I nor my children have been exposed to it in a classroom setting. It's a shame, because I think it's a book every American should read.
The wonderful thing about Scout, Atticus, and Boo was reading how To Kill a Mockingbird touched and inspired others just as much as it touched and inspired me. It was like sitting down with a group of friends and swapping stories about what may be the most beloved book in America.(less)
I really like John Scalzi's books. Although they aren't great literature, they have been reliably entertaining. So, I was delighted to find a copy of...moreI really like John Scalzi's books. Although they aren't great literature, they have been reliably entertaining. So, I was delighted to find a copy of The God Engines at my public library. From the get-go, I didn't like this novella at all. At 130-odd pages, including pictures and blank pages, I should have been able to blast through it in a day--maybe two given the busy holiday season. I didn't like the tone or the setting of the novel. I thought the characters were too flat. It lacked Scalzi's usual humor. I couldn't tell whether he was trying to make a philosophical statement about religion, or if he was just using it as a vehicle for his story. I found it to be extremely sexist, especially with the Rookery.
I'm really sad that I didn't like this book because I was looking forward to reading it. Hopefully, Scalzi's next book will be a return to his usual entertaining fare.(less)
With her second novel, N.K. Jemisin has earned a place as one of my must-read authors. She has created an incredible complex fantasy world, yet manage...moreWith her second novel, N.K. Jemisin has earned a place as one of my must-read authors. She has created an incredible complex fantasy world, yet managed to keep the stories within it intimate. She doesn't take us on epic journeys with a hundred characters. Instead, she chooses one character and tells about that character's view of the world and how she is affected by it.
The Broken Kingdoms takes place 10 years after The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Oree, a blind artist, can see magic. She takes in a homeless man who doesn't talk and shines with magic every morning. He also cannot die and stay dead, so she often finds him dead from carelessness or curiosity and has to clean up the messes that ensue. If you read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, it doesn't take long to figure out who her friend, Shiny, really is.
When Oree finds the body of a dead godling in an alley, she also finds herself in big trouble. The story is fast-paced and stays interesting throughout. I really liked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but I think this book is even better. I can't wait to see what N.K. Jemisin does next.(less)
I think that Kate Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang really needed to be longer. The scope of the novel is much too large for for its short len...moreI think that Kate Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang really needed to be longer. The scope of the novel is much too large for for its short length. (The audio version is about 11 minutes shy of 8 hours.) The story covers several "generations" and many decades.
I found Wilhelm's prose to be beautiful. Her descriptions of the Shenandoah Valley are richly detailed. She brings each season to life in the imagination with words. The problems I had with the story were mainly with the SF details. I just couldn't believe that the clones from any given genetic stock would be so much of a hive mind. I also found it difficult to believe that the clones would fail to value individuals who were born the old-fashioned way as something more than clone material once they realized that there were outer limits to the number of generations that could be cloned from one individual. I would have especially thought they would have encouraged individuals and individuality simply so they could have people who could travel away from their "siblings" for their much-needed explorations.
The audio production of this story is okay. Anna Fields does a fine job even though she does seem to have a bit of trouble with male dialogue. I do question the use of a female narrator for this book. It is told from the points of view of 3 people of differing generations. 2 of the three characters are men. The woman's part is the shortest of the three and most of the book's characters are male. I think it would have made more sense to use a male narrator or two narrators. (less)
It's taken me a long time to think of what I want to say about Blackout/All Clear. First, I will always refer to the two books as Blackout/All Clear b...moreIt's taken me a long time to think of what I want to say about Blackout/All Clear. First, I will always refer to the two books as Blackout/All Clear because they were really supposed to be one book. However, the publisher felt it was too long and released it in two volumes. Second, I'm not really sure that it deserves four stars, but I really love Connie Willis and I just can't give her any less. However, I do think this story could have used some intense editing and been condensed to one volume. There is a lot of repetition and I think I missed some important stuff because I was rushing to finish it so I could find out what happened.
What Willis does very well in Blackout/All Clear is bring to life the stress of ordinary British people living during WWII. She takes us from the country to London. It's hard to imagine living with a routine that involves going to work, going home, going to the bomb shelter. It's hard to imagine the number of lives taken by German bombs. It's hard to imagine how much courage it took to just get through all of that. Ms. Willis made me feel like I was there. I became a time traveling historian and realized that the ordinary citizens of Great Britain were every bit as heroic as soldiers fighting the Nazis. She did a great job of bringing that history to life.
As I said earlier, I do think I rushed reading this and feel like I need to go back and re-read for depth. That might take a few years considering my backlog.(less)
This is a case where I wish we had half stars. I've been a bit stingy with my 5-star ratings lately and have given 4 stars to some books that I really...moreThis is a case where I wish we had half stars. I've been a bit stingy with my 5-star ratings lately and have given 4 stars to some books that I really, really enjoyed. I liked Night Watch, but not as much as some of the books I've recently rated as 4 stars.
I really liked the atmosphere and the ideas in Night Watch. It was so different from American urban fantasy. It's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, even though they are clearly labeled. I really felt like I was in a magical Moscow.
What I didn't like was how disjointed it seemed. I think it must have originally been three novellas that were put together as a novel. While the three stories were sequential and had a story arc, they still seemed like three individual stories. I normally don't mind this technique, but I found it jarring in this case. I also found Anton to be a bit to naive to be believable. Although I was walking around in his head, I didn't feel like I really knew him.
Overall, I would give this book 3-1/2 stars. I'm still undecided about finishing the series.(less)
If you've seen the movie, don't bother with the book. I usually don't mind spoilers because the journey is why I read (or watch a movie). In this case...moreIf you've seen the movie, don't bother with the book. I usually don't mind spoilers because the journey is why I read (or watch a movie). In this case, the spoiled reveal spoiled the book. Of course, it could be that the book was rotten to begin with and couldn't get any more spoiled. It did have some interesting techniques that knowing the secrets helped me notice. But, it was soooooo sloooooooow and booooring that even clever technique didn't help.
I don't think the audio version was helped at all by Simon Vance's narration. I know that he's a favorite narrator for a lot of audio book listeners, but this is the second book I've heard him narrate and both have practically put me to sleep. He takes an already slow story and makes it even slower. I've recently passed on the audio versions of a couple of books I want to read just because he's the narrator. I'll just read them in print.(less)
I really loved the first three installments of Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series. Each book so far has been better than the last. So, I started Odd Hour...moreI really loved the first three installments of Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series. Each book so far has been better than the last. So, I started Odd Hours with a great deal of anticipation. I was so disappointed. The story was flat and didn't make a whole lot of sense. Frank Sinatra is not a good replacement for Elvis Presley. I did like the ghost dog and the aging movie star, but they weren't enough to carry the novel.(less)
For some reason, this book is gaining attention even though it's been around for quite a long time. I first became aware of it when Jo Walton reviewed...moreFor some reason, this book is gaining attention even though it's been around for quite a long time. I first became aware of it when Jo Walton reviewed it on Tor.com. When I found it on Audible, I knew it was time to give it a listen.
I must say that this deliciously creepy novella was perfect for the audio format. The narrator, Bernadette Dunne, got the voice of Merricat just right. I did figure out the who-dunnit fairly early on, but that wasn't the point of this psychological study of a pair of mentally unbalanced sisters who enable each other in their mental illnesses.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was a slow start for me. It took ages to get through the first couple of chapters. Major Pettigrew is an old-school Brit. He served in the army out of a sense of duty. He lives in a cottage that's been in his family for generations. He is a widower with a son whose values he just can't understand. One day, the local shopkeeper comes to his door to collect for the paperboy who is sick. She ends up fixing the Major a cup of tea and they spend a bit of time talking. Eventually, their acquaintance grows into friendship followed by love.
I ended up liking Major Pettigrew and the book much more than I thought at first. Despite the attitudes of his provincial town, Major Pettigrew is quite accepting of other people's cultures. While his neighbors see Mrs. Ali, an Oxford-born woman of Pakistani descent, as a foreigner and underclass, he sees her a a beautiful, intelligent woman. Both have lost their beloved spouses and really aren't interested in a romance; it just develops naturally.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand really sucked me in with its little dramas. Will the Major be able to reunite his father's pair of Churchill rifles? Just how terrible will the dance turn out? Will his son Roger ever stop his success-seeking ways? Will the Major ever realize that he loves Mrs. Ali and tell her?
With considerable skill, Simonson reveals bits of her characters' personalities slowly until each one is completely fleshed out. If I belonged to a real-life book club, I'd definitely recommend this book because it deals with so many different ideas and topics that there would be plenty to talk about. (less)
Dang, I was too slow in writing my review for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I was going to describe it as an "intimate epic", but the SF&F blogge...moreDang, I was too slow in writing my review for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I was going to describe it as an "intimate epic", but the SF&F blogger on Barnes & Noble's website used the term first.
"Intimate epic" really is the perfect phrase to describe The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. There is a huge setting and back story in this novel. However, the author doesn't tell us that story; it's just there for the reader to fill in. Instead, she tells us the story of a young woman, Yeine, who has been ordered to court to take her place as the heir to the kingdom's throne. However, things aren't quite that simple. She has to compete with two cousins for the right to ascend to the monarchy. Only one can survive. The capital city of Sky and its politics are confusing to Yeine and are thus confusing to the reader. Jemisin does a fabulous job of only revealing what Yeine knows and learns. It's tough to keep such a tight POV with such an epic story. The novel does have some weaknesses, but I've completely forgotten what they were. (less)
Who Fears Death is a really tough book to classify. It has magic, so it's fantasy. However, it also has computers, a technological apocalypse, possibl...moreWho Fears Death is a really tough book to classify. It has magic, so it's fantasy. However, it also has computers, a technological apocalypse, possible aliens, and some nifty, futuristic materials; so it's science fiction. When I heard the author interviewed on "The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy" podcast, I came away with the impression that it was more science fiction than fantasy, but it's more fantasy than science fiction. In many ways, it reminds me of one of my favorite books, Octavia Butler's Wild Seed.
While the post-apocalyptic African setting of Who Fears Death is epic, Okorafor keeps the story concise by using the first person point of view of Onyesonwu. I got a real sense of Onyesonwu's growth and the internal conflicts she experiences as she tells of her life from the time of her mother's rape until she faces her own imminent death. The story is simultaneously beautiful and ugly. I will warn the reader that this story does contain graphic depictions of rape and female circumcision, both of which are important to the plot.
As far as the narration goes, it was somewhat annoying. Anne Flosnik attempts to use a generic African accent that sounds completely fake. I would have much preferred to listen to this book narrated by Robin Miles who did such a wonderful job with the Caribbean accent in The Book of Night Women. I think it would have been better to go with a natural narrative voice than such an obviously fake accent. Other than using a bad accent, Flosnik's reading is well-paced and emotionally authentic. Onyesonwu's story rises above the flaws in the reading.(less)
Having read all the Dresden Files books, I found Side Jobs to be quite entertaining. Most of these stories were previously published in anthologies that I'll never read, so it was nice to have them all in one place. The short story format gives us a chance to see aspects of Harry's life that we wouldn't see otherwise.
This was my first time listening to a Dresden Files book in audio. James Marsters does a great job of narrating, but he's just not the Harry I heard in my head. I had previously read one of the novellas, Backup, and I have to say that I enjoyed it much more in audio. Marsters makes Thomas sound so sex. It was perfect. He does a surprisingly good job with the story told from Karin Murphy's point of view too. I may have to do a coin toss to see if I get the print or audio version of the next Dresden Files book.(less)
The audio version of Mockingjay has a bonus section at the end where Suzanne Collins talks about how she came up with the idea for The Hunger Games. S...moreThe audio version of Mockingjay has a bonus section at the end where Suzanne Collins talks about how she came up with the idea for The Hunger Games. She was watching TV and flicking between news coverage of the war in Iraq and Survivor. She started dozing and the two started blending together. I'm thinking that Suzanne Collins should watch more TV, because the result is one of the most truly amazing trilogies I've encounted. She pulls no punches. Horrific things happen to characters you care about and the happily ever after ending is haunted by all that has happened before.
Collins digs into some big ideas in this series. She never talks down to the teen audience she's writing for. She gives them credit for being able to handle difficult situations and to rise to the occasion when needed. She doesn't paint the world and its people in black and white, but in shades of gray. I really wish this series had been written when I was a teen. (less)
While I didn't like the narrator at all in the audio version of the first book, I think she does a much better job here. It sounds more like she's telling the story rather than reading the story and she makes it more personal than the first installment. (less)
Saturn's Children is a book that I've wanted to read but have avoided because of the really embarrassing cover. Let's face it, a middle-aged woman wou...moreSaturn's Children is a book that I've wanted to read but have avoided because of the really embarrassing cover. Let's face it, a middle-aged woman would really look silly reading a book with big-boobed bimbo on the cover. Fortunately, this is 2010 and I've acquired an e-reader that allows me to discretely read anything, no matter what the cover looks like.
Charles Stross has been a hit-or-miss author for me. Saturn's Children falls strongly into the "hit" category. It's a hard sci-fi, post-human action thriller. In other words, it has something for everyone. If you dig a little deeper, you can find some really good stuff to feed your higher intellect. It raises questions that it doesn't answer and doesn't need to. The answers are the reader's job.
Now, I do have to give a word of warning. Saturn's Children does contain a significant amount of kinky robot sex and is definitely not for children or those with delicate sensitivities.(less)
Cherie Priest's Dreadnought is set in the same alternate history as Boneshaker but really doesn't connect with it until the last couple of chapters. I...moreCherie Priest's Dreadnought is set in the same alternate history as Boneshaker but really doesn't connect with it until the last couple of chapters. It's the story of a Confederate Civil War nurse who receives a letter telling her that her husband, a Union soldier, has died. A couple of days later, she receives a telegram telling her that her father is dying and wants to see her. So, she sets off to travel from Virginia to Tacoma to see him for the first time since she was a little girl. (For some reason, I was confusing Tacoma with Spokane, so I had her traveling to the wrong part of the state.) In this version of American History, the Civil War has raged for more than twenty years and Texas is it's own country. As happens in war, technology rises up to help in the fighting and destruction. Once Mercy sets off for Washington, she faces one danger after another, each worse than the one before.
I think Priest made a good choice in choosing a journey to tell this story. It allows her to show what is happening in North America without using a lot of boring exposition. While Boneshaker showed us a microcosm of this world, Dreadnought expands the view to cover the continent.
The pacing of this novel is amazing. It starts off slow (for just a short time) and builds to a breakneck speed, mirroring Mercy's journey. I really enjoyed all the action, even the battle scenes. This book would make a great movie.
I don't have much to say about Kate Reading's narration. It fit seamlessly with the story and was quite good. (less)
I got hooked on Karen Marie Moning's Fever series thanks to a free ebook download of the first book from B&N. I had the first three read within a...moreI got hooked on Karen Marie Moning's Fever series thanks to a free ebook download of the first book from B&N. I had the first three read within a few weeks. At $6-$7 per pop, that wasn't bad. However, Dreamfever was $9.99 for the Nook, so I thought I was going to just wait until it went down. That was tough, because the third book ended in a cliffhanger to surpass all cliffhangers. Fortunately, I ran across the hardback at my library, so I did get to read it.
WARNING: From this point on, my review may contain spoilers for the previous three books in the series. Read at your own risk.
In this series, each book is darker than the last. At the end of book three, our protagonist is raped by three Unseelie princes and turned [i]priya[/i], a sex slave/addict to fae. The first part of this book is Mac's being freed from her addiction and it's quite raunchy and brutal. I didn't see this part of the series coming and found it quite disturbing. Once Mac overcomes her addiction, she finds that she not only has to save Dublin, she has to save the world. I really like the way Mac's character has developed over the course of this series. She goes from being a girl focused only on her looks to a tough, ass-kicking faery hunter.
Sadly, this book ends on even more of a cliffhanger than the third one did. I may just have to spend $9.99 to see how it all ends.(less)
Elvis and the Dearly Departed deserves more than two stars, but doesn't really qualify for three. It's an extremely fluffy "mystery" that is completel...moreElvis and the Dearly Departed deserves more than two stars, but doesn't really qualify for three. It's an extremely fluffy "mystery" that is completely implausible. The author uses a dog's narration to tell the reader things the protagonist couldn't possibly know. It leave a bunch of loose ends, probably to sell sequels. However, it's short and has some funny moments. It's more of a sitcom mystery than a thriller.
This ebook was free through Barnes & Noble. It's nothing I would have paid money for, but it was okay for a freebie and it gave my brain a break from some long, heavy reading.(less)
I was getting my hair colored yesterday and the lady in the next chair at the salon saw that I was reading What the Night Knows and got really excited...moreI was getting my hair colored yesterday and the lady in the next chair at the salon saw that I was reading What the Night Knows and got really excited. Dean Koontz is her favorite writer of all time. I think it nearly broke her heart to learn that the book wasn't going to be released until December 28. I was fortunate enough to win this mesmerizing novel through FirstReads.
As a reader, I've recently started straying outside my usual favorite SF&F genre. I've explored some mystery/thrillers, and have more recently picked up some horror. I've read some Stephen King and the first three Odd Thomas novels by Dean Koontz. Frankly, I think Koontz is a far better writer than King. (Don't hurt me.) While reading What the Night Knows, I ran across paragraphs and sentences that blew me away with how well written they were. There's one paragraph that describes married lovemaking in a way that is so true and not at all dirty or voyeuristic. The way he captured the internal lives of the Calvino children was quite impressive.
I'm not going to go into any details about the plot, but I am going to tell you that this book kept me up past midnight because I couldn't put it down after I reached the halfway point. To me, that's a sign of a really good book. I will definitely be reading more Dean Koontz.(less)
I glanced through a few reviews of Fragment and had to laugh at all the comparisons to Michael Crichton. Honestly, I was thinking the same thing throu...moreI glanced through a few reviews of Fragment and had to laugh at all the comparisons to Michael Crichton. Honestly, I was thinking the same thing throughout the book. To me, it was a cross between Michael Crichton and the original Star Trek series.
A ship carrying scientists participating in a reality show discovers an island that is so isolated that it's developed it's own ecosystem unlike anything else anywhere on Earth. Naturally, the US military steps in quickly and takes over the whole research operation. If I'm not mistaken, it seems like everything is descended from some pre-Cambrian shrimp. The scientists are so good that they figure out everything about this alien ecosystem in a matter of days. Of course, there is trouble and lots of people die because everything on the island is both predator and prey, even the "plants". I really enjoyed the cheesiness of the scientists examining the flora and fauna of this island. Not only do they figure out everything on first examination, they also declare their discoveries to each other with exclamation points! Look, this creature has two brains! Look, these creatures are born pregnant! Look, they all eat each other!
Turn by turn, the story grows more and more implausible and events happen too quickly within the story's time line. I can't even tell you how impossibly implausible it gets by the end without completely spoiling it.
Now, this book really isn't awful enough for one star. It's well paced and kept me turning the pages. However, there were a couple of things that almost made me hurl it across the room. Why, oh why, was it necessary to throw in an instant romance in the last 1/4 of the book? That was probably the single most unbelievable and unnecessary element of the story. It just came out of the blue.
I give up. I can't say anymore without having to click the spoiler alert box. (less)
Brother Odd is the best installment of the Odd Thomas series yet. Odd has gone off to a monastery/convent/school for disabled kids in the Sierra mount...moreBrother Odd is the best installment of the Odd Thomas series yet. Odd has gone off to a monastery/convent/school for disabled kids in the Sierra mountains to sort out his problems in peace. He's accompanied by the ghost of Elvis Presley, who has developed quite a personality. While Odd is looking for peace, he doesn't find it. Bodaches, harbingers of disaster, start hanging around the children at the school. Odd tries to figure out what is going to happen and learns some lessons along the way.
This book introduces some great characters whom I hope to meet again. I highly recommend the Odd Thomas series even to people who don't like horror. The little bit of horror in these books is quite easy to take.(less)
If you start reading Her Fearful Symmetry thinking your going to get something like Audrey Niffenegger's first book, The Time Traveler's Wife, think a...moreIf you start reading Her Fearful Symmetry thinking your going to get something like Audrey Niffenegger's first book, The Time Traveler's Wife, think again. This book is actually even weirder. It's a ghost story; it's about twins; it's about identity; and it's about really messed up love. Heck, I can't even begin to describe it.
What I really liked about Her Fearful Symmetry was the detail. I could picture London, Highgate Cemetery and Elspeth's flat. I had such a clear image of Valentina and Julia (and the kitten). I really hated the direction the story took. Huge parts of the plot were completely implausible. Yet, something about Niffenegger's prose quelled my objections.
This isn't a book for everyone, but I enjoyed this journey.(less)
I don't usually read ginormous epic fantasy series. Trilogies are about as much as I can take. I have occasionally read the first book in a long serie...moreI don't usually read ginormous epic fantasy series. Trilogies are about as much as I can take. I have occasionally read the first book in a long series for group reads, but I rarely read more than the first volume. I generally have no desire to spend 10,000+ pages in one universe, especially when the series isn't even finished. However, I have really enjoyed the books I've read by Brandon Sanderson, and I know that he's really good at getting books done in a timely manner. So, I decided to listen to the audiobook of The Way of Kings, the first of a planned 10-book series. In print, this book is over 1000 pages, so the series is everything I try to avoid.
I found The Way of Kings to be quite engaging and entertaining. Despite it's length and scope, I never got lost or confused. I did find that some parts did drag and that the book strayed for too long in parts from the storylines that I was most interested in. However, it was all good. I really can't wait for the next installment.
The audio production was very good as well. I would have liked more of Kate Reading's parts, but not enough of the story stuck with the characters she was reading. I really think audio is the way to go with a book of this size. It keeps you on track. At 45+ hours, I'd definitely say I got my Audible credit's worth.(less)
Pandemonium is a book that's been coming up in my Amazon recommendations fairly regularly. It sounded a bit intriguing, but a bit silly too. It was on...morePandemonium is a book that's been coming up in my Amazon recommendations fairly regularly. It sounded a bit intriguing, but a bit silly too. It was one of those books that I thought could turn out to be truly awful. When I saw a copy at the library, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try it.
I can't believe that this is Daryl Gregory's first book. It's absolutely amazing. Don't go by the blurb, it doesn't even come close to describing it. The characters and the situation are so well done, it all seemed completely believable. I was not prepared for the twist in the middle and I felt so sad at the ending. Gregory has thought out all the implications of a world where strange characters can possess a person and make them briefly superhuman.
I especially loved the appearance of Philip K. Dick as a somewhat minor, yet important character. Pandemonium does seem a bit like PKD, but much more coherent. Gregory has a wonderful style that is all his own. His writing is vivid and well-paced. I look forward to reading his next book, The Devil's Alphabet and anything else he writes in the future. He's amazing.(less)
I'm going to start by saying that I really enjoyed the most recent movie version of I Am Legend. I thought it was really well-done. I knew that it was...moreI'm going to start by saying that I really enjoyed the most recent movie version of I Am Legend. I thought it was really well-done. I knew that it wasn't anything like the book, but it was a good movie as it was. It's one of those movies that I'm glad I saw without having the book in my head to contrast it to.
That said, I enjoyed the book immensely too. It is very different than the movie, and that's okay. They can be different and each can be judged on it's own merits. I was a bit surprised to learn that I Am Legend was first published in 1954. It's definitely part of the genre of Cold War post-apocalyptic fiction. It's really interesting how much staying power the novel has. The setting is Los Angeles 20 years in the future, from 1954. Robert Neville is the last normal human in a town taken over by bacteria-infested vampire zombies. Matheson always calls them vampires, but they've got some very zombie-like tendencies. I really liked the way the story developed in this short novel and the ending took me a bit by surprise. It didn't seem dated at all, except for the record player. I love Matheson's use of language.
The narration of the audiobook was a bit annoying. The narrator had a tendency to get over-dramatic and it came off as silly. The words alone would have been dramatic enough with out the over-acting.(less)
Confession: The edition I read of this book was printed in 1972. There is no ISBN and no information other than the publisher, which is different. I d...moreConfession: The edition I read of this book was printed in 1972. There is no ISBN and no information other than the publisher, which is different. I didn't bother to add a new edition because the one in the system is good enough for a 40 year old novel that's out of print. I am neglecting my librarian duties here.
I first read The Shape of Illusion when I was about 12. That was a very long time ago. It stuck with me enough to make me wrack my brains trying to figure out what that book was that took place at a German passion play that occurred once every 10 years in a medieval town, had a mystery and a romance. I mentioned it to my mom recently and she looked through her books and found it.
I'd really like to see some fantasy author take this story and run with it. At 215 pages, The Shape of Illusion is a bit too short to give the story the depth it deserves. The main characters are a bit stiff and formal. They could stand to be more naturalistic. The secondary characters are fairly vague. The story is really, really good though as evidenced by the fact that I wanted to read it nearly 40 years after I first read it.
The Shape of Illusion is about a painting in which the viewer sees himself as part of the crowd persecuting Christ as He's carrying His cross. It's about one agnostic artist's search for the artist who created this work that distresses those who see it. It's about a visit to a centuries-old performance of a passion play in the village where the painting's creator, Boniface Rohlmann lived.
One of the strongest points of this novel are the descriptions of Boniface Rohlmann's two paintings and the description of the passion play itself. William Barrett makes the village and the art come alive.
Make no mistake, this is a work of Christian fiction. It's clear that the author was a devout Catholic Christian. Yet, the protagonist is agnostic and he remains agnostic at the end. I kept expecting some hokey conversion experience and there was none. Instead, the protagonist comes to understand things about Christianity that he didn't before. He just doesn't come to believe. I thought this was an interesting aspect of this novel and wonder if it would be written the same way today. (less)
This pair of short stories (maybe they're novellas) was released exclusively for audio download. Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell are a pair of ext...moreThis pair of short stories (maybe they're novellas) was released exclusively for audio download. Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell are a pair of extremely talented science fiction writers who make their first forays into fantasy. What a job they do! These stories are so compelling and the shared world they created is beyond fascinating. I was left very satisfied, but I want more!
I think this would be a great introduction to audiobooks for people who haven't tried them before. The stories and the narrations are great.(less)
As many of you know, I tend to read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction. One of the books that was conspicuously missing from my post-apocalyptic shelf...moreAs many of you know, I tend to read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction. One of the books that was conspicuously missing from my post-apocalyptic shelf was The Stand. For a while, there was a hardcover copy on our family bookshelf that I started to read. I didn't make it very far. A year or two ago, I got it in mass-market paperback. However, the print was small and the size was intimidating, so I didn't get very far. Now, I have a Nook, so I downloaded the ebook edition. YEAH! It's amazing how easy it is to read a monster book on an e-reader. You just lose all that bulk and small print. (I would have listened to an audio version, if there had been one on Audible.)
On of the interesting things about The Stand is that it was originally published in the Seventies, but Stephen King added in a bunch of stuff that his editor had cut out and re-published it in 1990. Along the way, he updated some of the cultural references. Now, I don't know what was added in the expanded version, but perhaps it would have been a good idea to leave it alone. The newer version of The Stand is too long and contains a lot of unnecessary detail. King is a great storyteller and The Stand is a compelling read. However, it could have benefited from some judicious editing.
Now, I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy The Stand. It was a very good story. I liked how it went from mere survival to a battle between the forces of good and evil. There were scenes in it that were absolutely great.
There really aren't any descriptions that can do justice to Bitter Seeds. It's quite different than any book I've ever read. It's set in an alternate...moreThere really aren't any descriptions that can do justice to Bitter Seeds. It's quite different than any book I've ever read. It's set in an alternate WWII where the Germans have started training children to use superpowers shortly after WWI, and the English are using wizards to fight off the Germans. Atrocities are committed on both sides of the channel. Tregillis really drives home the point that war causes people to do evil and suffer the consequences of evil.
Although the Germans have superhumans, they not like the Marvel and DC superheroes. They are completely dependent on technology to amplify their powers. There really are no heroes in Bitter Seeds.
I will caution that the ending of this book is quite open-ended. A lot of questions are left unanswered and there is a horrific set-up for future stories at the end. I certainly hope that Tregillis is planning to write more stories in this alternate WWII setting.(less)