I read To Say Nothing of the Dog about ten years ago and loved it, but I remembered so little about it. I was delighted to meet Connie Willis at the 2I read To Say Nothing of the Dog about ten years ago and loved it, but I remembered so little about it. I was delighted to meet Connie Willis at the 2009 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and get a signed copy. It turns out that the book is just as entertaining as I remember and quite a bit more complex. I had remembered the frenetic search for the bishop's bird stump and that it was really quite ugly. I had forgotten all the explanations of how the net worked and how things all worked out. I remembered the cat, but not the dog.
Last year, I tried to read the book that inspired Willis, Three Men in a Boat, and didn't make it through. It was funny, but repetitive and soon became boring. Willis avoids the flaws of Jerome while maintaining the slapstick spirit. Ultimately, it was the slapstick that I had remembered best about this book. You really don't have to read Three Men in a Boat to appreciate To Say Nothing of the Dog, but it does give you an appreciation of Ned's fan-boy reaction when he actually sees Jerome K. Jerome and his buddies boating up the Thames. ...more
**spoiler alert** I really, really, really hated "Stranger in a Strange Land" when I read it 25+ years ago. I only disliked it this time. The first ha**spoiler alert** I really, really, really hated "Stranger in a Strange Land" when I read it 25+ years ago. I only disliked it this time. The first half is pretty good, if you can overlook the outdated idea that there could be life on Mars and that it could support human life. One can even suspend disbelief enough to accept that a human infant could be raised by Martians much in the same way Mowgli was raised by wolves. However, it goes downhill quickly once Mike and Jill run off to join the circus (actually, a carnival). It get really ridiculous when it brings in the archangels. It gets hideous when Mike and his followers form a orgiastic church/commune. And it ends with a totally obvious religious allegory in which Mike is killed by an angry mob and his disciples (water brothers)become one with him by drinking (grokking) a broth made from a piece of his finger.
Heinlein tends to get really preachy in "Stranger in a Strange Land". He seems to be out to tear down every single belief and taboo of modern society. The only taboo he upholds is homosexuality.
Until I looked at the publication in my copy (printed in 1968), I thought this book came out in the late Sixties. In fact, it was first published in 1961, during the Kennedy administration. At that time, America was still pretty conservative. By the time my copy was printed, the hippie movement and the sexual revolution were in full swing, and this novel seems perfect for that era. It's not perfect for 2008 though....more
I want to say that I did not read this book because of Oprah Winfrey. I got a new Nook HD for Christmas and found I could install the Overdrive app onI want to say that I did not read this book because of Oprah Winfrey. I got a new Nook HD for Christmas and found I could install the Overdrive app on it. I had a Nook 1st Edition, but never put a library book on it because it was too confusing. With the Overdrive app, I can download ebooks from my library directly to my Nook. That is wicked cool. One of the first books that came up in browsing the library was The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. I had recently heard it discussed on the Books on the Nightstand podcast and read a terrific review in the New York Times Book Review, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie isn't technically a novel. It's more a collection of short stories about Hattie Shepherd's 11 children and 1 grandchild. I found it to be very moving. It's definitely worth reading....more
I loved the movie based on this book. It was one of the best from last year. When the book came up on my Amazon.com recommendations, I thought I'd givI loved the movie based on this book. It was one of the best from last year. When the book came up on my Amazon.com recommendations, I thought I'd give it a read. There is no comparison between the book and the movie. They have maybe 4-5 plot points in common, that's it. The movie was great, and the book was great. They were just different.
"Children of Men" is a very thoughtful and thought provoking book. I'm not going to say any more. I don't want to give anything away....more
As a native Southern Californian who has been to Disneyland a minimum of once per year since before birth, how could I pass up a book that combines scAs a native Southern Californian who has been to Disneyland a minimum of once per year since before birth, how could I pass up a book that combines science fiction with Disney?
I was really torn between giving this three stars or four. It scores high for creativity. It's got a very tight plot and some interesting ideas. It takes place at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. I've been there once, but it's so much like Disneyland that all the ride references made sense even if the geography changed. It's clear that Doctorow has a love and reverence for the Magic Kingdom. I even learned how they do the dancing ghosts in the Haunted Mansion. There were some interesting twists and turns in the plot that kept me turning the pages.
However, I think that the book suffers from a certain attempt hipness that only comes from true geekdom. Seriously, the "Bitchun" society? Crack smoking as normal? Popularity (whuffies) as currency? It came off as awkward and self-conscious. It was a good story and it was entertaining, but it wasn't one of the best I've read recently....more
I'm not a Stephen King fan. I can count the number of Stephen King books I've read on one hand. But, I loved this one both times that I read it yearsI'm not a Stephen King fan. I can count the number of Stephen King books I've read on one hand. But, I loved this one both times that I read it years ago. I still remember so much of it. It's really more of a sci-fi thriller than a horror novel. I love the character of Charlie. I just wanted to protect her from all the bad guys that wanted to use her. I cheered for her all the way. ...more
Howl's Moving Castle is a fabulous book for all ages. I could easily imagine reading it to a preschooler, recommending it to a middle-schooler and I lHowl's Moving Castle is a fabulous book for all ages. I could easily imagine reading it to a preschooler, recommending it to a middle-schooler and I loved reading it myself. It's got wizard and witches and curses and missing princes and a nice, not evil stepmother and a young woman who doesn't understand the power she wields. It has comedy, romance and drama. It falls in the same category of fairy-tale fantasy as Stardust and Lud-In-The-Mist. It was like them, but also nothing like them. I highly recommend this for everyone....more
The Dresden Files just keep getting better and better. I'm honestly surprised that Harry is still alive. Other than the fact that Dresden survives eveThe Dresden Files just keep getting better and better. I'm honestly surprised that Harry is still alive. Other than the fact that Dresden survives everything, fights demons and vampires and is in love with a blood-thirsty half-vampire, this series is very realistic. The good guy doesn't always get the girl. He may always solve the case, but there are messy loose ends. Nobody lives happily ever after, they just do the best they can. I'll be getting the sixth installment with my next Borders coupon....more
Though not quite as good as The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior is still engaging. My only complaint is that it went on about two hours longer than iThough not quite as good as The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior is still engaging. My only complaint is that it went on about two hours longer than it should have. There was a perfect ending point to this second installment of The Tamir Triad about 10-15 chapters before it actually ended. The ending should have been the beginning of #3.
As with the first installment, the narration is excellent....more
I thought The Tamir Triad was excellent. I must forewarn that the books should be read together because they really do form one story, not three storiI thought The Tamir Triad was excellent. I must forewarn that the books should be read together because they really do form one story, not three stories that tie together.
I really liked the pacing of the story. With the exception of a rather lengthy discussion of the main villain's youth in the third book, it never lets up. Every action leads to the next in a realistic way.
I especially like how Flewelling dealt with the concept of gender identity, sexuality and growing up. Her protagonist is understandably mixed up and Flewelling handles it in a way that is quite believable. How much would it screw with a kid to grow up thinking he's a boy when she's really a girl? The Tamir Triad gives new meaning to "a boy trapped in a girl's body". I thought the issues surrounding Tobin/Tamir's puberty and adolescence were handled particularly well. It rang true and wasn't shocking in the least. The series had some great messages in it about friendship, love, compassion and understanding.
Although this is a series about a child/teen, it is absolutely an adult series, in my opinion. I recommend it for high school and older. ...more
I must be a real geek. I laughed my butt off at the phrase "opposition is unproductive." Only a real Star Trek geek would have been able to translateI must be a real geek. I laughed my butt off at the phrase "opposition is unproductive." Only a real Star Trek geek would have been able to translate that to "resistance is futile." I'm in no way sure what "InterWorld" is. It's part science fiction, part fantasy, part allusion to all things in geekdom. Take some of "Ender's Game" and mix it up with "Neverwhere." Toss in some Star Trek, some Twilight Zone, and some Wizard of Oz for fun. I started this book at dinnertime last night and it's almost lunch time now. I stayed up too late; I overslept; and I missed church because of this book. Whatever this book is, it's terrific.n Best of all, I can hand it to my son without worrying about him asking me why I gave him a book with "adult situations" in it.
It's really hard finding books that appeal to young teen boys who are no longer into fantasy that includes dragons and wizards. I think this book fills a niche that really needs to be filled....more
I really don't know what to say about A Fine and Private Place. It's a sweet, touching ghost story about love, life, death and homelessness. There's aI really don't know what to say about A Fine and Private Place. It's a sweet, touching ghost story about love, life, death and homelessness. There's a man who's run away from live and spent 19 years living in a graveyard. There's a widow who meets him while visiting her husband's grave. There's a young man ghost who has allegedly been poisoned by his wife. There's a beautiful young woman ghost who was hit by a truck. Add a raven and a really bad night guard (bad as in he doesn't guard well) and you have the cast of characters for this charming piece.
A Fine and Private Place has a lot of promise and charm, but it doesn't live up to the promise. I liked it a lot, but I didn't love it. I don't regret the time I spent reading it, I'm just glad I got it at the library....more
I "read" the first book of the Kitty Norville series in audio. However, I realized that these books are only $6.99 in paperback, much less than the AuI "read" the first book of the Kitty Norville series in audio. However, I realized that these books are only $6.99 in paperback, much less than the Audible download. So, I decided to pick up the second installment in paperback. As much as I enjoyed the audio, I really think this series is better in print. It felt more like I was Kitty rather than having Kitty talk to me.
This series is really turning out to be fun and addictive. I really want to run out and get the third book right now. As much as I like "The Dresen Files" by Jim Butcher, I think the Kitty Norville series is better. The narrative is tighter and it's more interesting.
We went on a four-day weekend to San Simeon. I had taken along Last Argument of Kings because I was almost half way through. I found I just couldn't fWe went on a four-day weekend to San Simeon. I had taken along Last Argument of Kings because I was almost half way through. I found I just couldn't focus on it though. Fortunately, I had thrown Kitty Takes a Holiday into my reading bag. It was a perfect vacation read. The Kitty Norville series is perfect for a little break from serious reading. It's fun, entertaining, and has great characters. These books are light reads that don't leave you feeling empty and trashy. ...more
I read this book for one of the GoodReads groups. I really enjoyed it when I read it. But, it was in discussing it that I realized that there was so mI read this book for one of the GoodReads groups. I really enjoyed it when I read it. But, it was in discussing it that I realized that there was so much more to it than there seemed to be on the surface. There are so many layers of meaning and so much ambiguity. "Neverwhere" really made me think about homelessness and what it means to be invisible in our society....more
On Stranger Tides may be the best audiobook I've listened to so far. Bronson Pinchot's narration brought this story to life in a way that my brain nevOn Stranger Tides may be the best audiobook I've listened to so far. Bronson Pinchot's narration brought this story to life in a way that my brain never could have if I had read it it print. He performed it rather than read it and the result was the most fun I've ever had listening to a book.
For a long time, the rumor mill has been saying that On Stranger Tides is to be the basis for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. While I was listening to this book, I looked on IMDB and found that the next Pirates movie will indeed have this title. It also shares a lot of the plot elements. Having listened to this book, it's not surprising that Disney is using it for the next Pirates movie. Written in 1988, it predates the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie by 15 years. It is so much like that successful movie franchise that it wouldn't surprise me at all if the creators had a group read of this novel.
On Stranger Tides blends pirates, voodoo, a damsel in distress, and the Fountain of Youth into a rollicking good story. It's got a really good creepiness factor that made it a perfect pre-Halloween listen. The gruesome parts aren't any more gruesome that what has already been in those Disney movies.
I highly recommend this as an audiobook. I won't even suggest trying to read this in print. Even for those of you who don't normally listen to audiobooks, give this a shot. It's absolutely wonderful and may just get you hooked on audio. ...more
The Accidental Time Machine is the kind of old-fashioned science fiction I loved growing up. It's got a brevity and tone that's very much like BradburThe Accidental Time Machine is the kind of old-fashioned science fiction I loved growing up. It's got a brevity and tone that's very much like Bradbury or Asimov. I've always been a sucker for time travel stories and this one didn't disappoint. There was a lot of detail left out that other author probably would have included, but that was fine with me. In current books, authors have a tendency to spell everything out for the reader. Haldeman doesn't do that. As a result, the reader has to use his or her imagination to fill in the blanks. While this isn't a great book, it was a lot of FUN to read. I had a hard time putting it down, and was sorry when it was over....more
Well, what can I say about "A Clockwork Orange"? Maybe I should first suggest that anyone who wants to read it should print out this glossary: A NadsaWell, what can I say about "A Clockwork Orange"? Maybe I should first suggest that anyone who wants to read it should print out this glossary: A Nadsat Glossary. I will be eternally grateful to Matt (Tadpole316) for sending me that link. My printout is looking a little rough.
I had seen the movie about 15 years ago. It was disturbing and many of the images were already so much a part of our cultural consciousness that it was at once familiar, yet disturbing. Many of the images are permanently etched in my brain. I recently realized that I had never read the original novel, so I picked up a copy. As most books written before the age of user-friendly word processors, it's very short, only about 200 pages. But, it's not a quick read. The first of the three parts is rather difficult to get through. The language really slows down reading and there are so many disturbing scenes that I just had to stop when I finished one and go back later. The movie actually changed some of the scenes to make them more palatable. For example, in the movie there is a scene where Alex takes two women back to his room and they have some rather raucous consensual sex to the tune of the William Tell Overture. In the book, Alex takes two ten-year-old girls to his room, gets them drunk, and rapes them. It was horrific, but it illustrated just how amoral Alex and his fellow malchicks were. The real surprise is the last sentence where you find out just how young Alex is for someone who has been doing the things he does for as long as he's been doing them.
The book gets easier to read in part two and part three is very comprehensible. According to the author's introduction, the original American edition of "A Clockwork Orange" left out the last chapter. It was put back in with the 1986 edition. I'm glad the last chapter is included now. I think the book would have been very dissatisfying without it.
The themes of "A Clockwork Orange" are pretty clear. What is the role of society in the morality of youth? How far should government go to rehabilitate criminals? What is the nature of violence and what is its effect on the perpetrators? Can anyone truly be redeemed?
I can't say I'd recommend "A Clockwork Orange" to everyone. It is a tough book to read. It's extremely violent and disturbing. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that the reader is in Alex's head as he's committing the most atrocious acts and, somehow, Burgess manages to write the scenes in a way that the read feels the adrenaline rush that comes from ultra-violence. It made me feel dirty and voyeuristic. But, I like literature that puts me in someone's head and feel what they feel, even if it's ugly. To me, that's the mark of great writing....more