Butcher is now on the 9th of his Harry Dresden books, and in a truly magical feat, the series is still going strong. there is NO point in starting the...moreButcher is now on the 9th of his Harry Dresden books, and in a truly magical feat, the series is still going strong. there is NO point in starting the series with this book...new readers will be lost in the alluded-to but not explained background stories of each of the detailed characters. with a lot of authors balancing this many people, everyone's voices start to run together; not so here, so once you've caught up with the other books, there's no problem keeping up.
the whole series is a lot of fun, and each one is a pretty quick read. they're all well worth checking out.
the sci-fi channel started running a tv show based on these books in january 07, and while the show is pretty good, these books are worlds better.(less)
Jim Butcher's harry dresden series starts out pretty solid, and only gets stronger as time goes along. in this first one, our intrepid wise-cracking w...moreJim Butcher's harry dresden series starts out pretty solid, and only gets stronger as time goes along. in this first one, our intrepid wise-cracking wizardly p.i. has to figure out who in chi-town has been using black magic to kill people. basically, imagine if harry potter was in his 30s, bitter, and american, and you'd have this harry.
the series is a lot of fun, but definitely read them in order, as there's a story arc that gets increasingly referred-to but not explained as the books go along. (less)
i stumbled across a beat-up copy of this one at a used bookstore, and bought it off of the recommendation of a classmate with a rather sarcastic sense...morei stumbled across a beat-up copy of this one at a used bookstore, and bought it off of the recommendation of a classmate with a rather sarcastic sense of humor. the book was probably beat up from its former owner dropping it all the time after laughing too hard to keep a hold of it. arranged in a series of vignettes that can be read in any order (though there are several in-jokes that become apparent as you read, this one can certainly be devoured in sporadic little short-story-sized bites), it takes a little while to get used to Sedaris' style of humor. utterly self-deprecating and weirdly quirky, once you get in to it, these tales induce the sort of laughter that make other people stare at the crazy chick cackling like a drug fiend. good times.(less)
the first entry in Kelley Armstrong's "women of the otherworld" series is still her strongest, and it's a really good read. this story of a woman unwi...morethe first entry in Kelley Armstrong's "women of the otherworld" series is still her strongest, and it's a really good read. this story of a woman unwillingly changed into a werewolf avoids any mention of mysticism or ancient curses and makes the idea that werewolf packs are hidden in the world quite believable. supporting characters are individuals instead of generic stock copies of each other, which is good considering this is basically a tale of human(ish) relationships.
shame about the covers, though, since all the paperback ones have this generic "nighttime" or "supernatural" look, while the 1st ed hardback had one of the best covers in recent memory (a faceless woman in a 'flaming june' colored dress, limbs twisted at strange angles...a blonde tail subtly peeking from below the hemline).(less)
Yagharek is a garuda, an eagle-man from the desert, who has lost his wings in punishment for one of the worst crimes among his people. feeling trapped...moreYagharek is a garuda, an eagle-man from the desert, who has lost his wings in punishment for one of the worst crimes among his people. feeling trapped earthbound, he journeys to the crowded, crumbling city of new crobuzon to seek help from
Isaac is a rogue scientist; he can't be bothered to teach a steady class at the university, and he'd much rather dabble in research on whatever topic catches his fancy. Yag's need to fly, and the possible solution in Isaac's pet theories on crisis energy launches him into a creative frenzy. when he comes up for breath, he slips away from the censure of the nearby faculty to live his open secret cross-species love for
Lin, an up & coming bohemian artist, is a khepri - a russet-skinned woman with a scarab beetle head. she's just taken a once-in-a-lifetime commission for a truly grand sculpture, one that will require her most bravura work. she'll never gain fame from this potential masterpiece, given the requirement of secrecy from the patron
Motley is possibly the city's prime crime lord, a shadowy figure with webs extending everywhere into the city's underbelly. he's cornering the market on a new drug who's effects are far worse than sobriety ever could be, something that will take many lives in its production.
these people's lives interlock in ever-closer patterns along with beautiful monsters, , robo-monkeys, steampunk clockworks, demons that exist in alternate planes of existence, AI, Shelob (?!), Crime and Punishment and Justice, and the crumbling mucous-dripping stained stench of the decaying city streets. Mieville gets full marks for creativity - this book is overflowing with imaginative ideas & nightmares. getting to all those pearls, though, necessitates have to wade through a whole lot of baroquely ornate prose rife with excessive descriptors. more than once, it starts to feel a bit too clever for its own good (e.g., my dictionary says that palimpsest = "writing material used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased", though each of the half-dozen times that word ostentatiously crops up, it generally means something closer to "a stench of many layers"). the first 200 pages are a slowly meandering stroll through the gritty, tired city before the story sharply veers off into exciting horror novel territory, and then finally fizzles some under its own weight. it felt like work to push through the last chunk of it, and i put down the book feeling it was solidly (somewhat disappointingly) a 3 star read.
24 hours later, though, all those ideas are still boiling up through my brain, and it occurs to me that the idea of "choice-theft" as the highest form of crime is a far more elegant way of phrasing my own personal morality. something that gets that far under your skin is pretty damn impressive, even with all the palimpsests of mucous.(less)
Ted Sturgeon is one of those strange authors that plenty of people in the speculative fiction genres cite as a major influence, yet is not widely know...moreTed Sturgeon is one of those strange authors that plenty of people in the speculative fiction genres cite as a major influence, yet is not widely known by most anyone else. could be that now-a-days, fiction magazines have dwindled, and most press coverage (e.g., NYT bestseller lists and all) focuses only on novels. Sturgeon only ever wrote a few novels, and they're each reviewed as pretty good at best. but short stories, wow, Sturgeon was an absolute master at the form.
this particular collection, volume 4 out of a 10+ book series collecting ALL of his shorter-than-novel-length work, focuses around the mid-40s. some of it comes off a bit dated (social mores at the time included use of "negro" or "colored", and it's jarring in our modern PC culture), but most of it is still as freshly futuristic as when it was written. this isn't all gleaming 'rocket boy saves the world' sci-fi, much of it is dystopic, some is horrific, some is beautiful, but all of it is distinctly human. Sturgeon is definitely a writer's writer: wordplay is amazing without being pretentious (just try reading some of these out loud, the cadence & rhythm is subtle but beautiful), and there is a real magic in creating an entire world/emotion in the span of 8 pages. rather unusual for these old back-in-the-day guys, female characters are both as strong and as flawed as their male counterparts, not ghettoized into being only demure violets or domestic goddesses. this entire series is well worth checking out.(less)