This little gem will certainly join my other favorite books to give away: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. Hopefully Disney, et. al., fin...moreThis little gem will certainly join my other favorite books to give away: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. Hopefully Disney, et. al., find it in their hearts (or wallets) not to meddle with the book (although there are talking animals, Minli is no princess...I think we're safe).
The book is a wonderful adventure, full of folktales that add depth without turning the book into an onerous reading task for young readers. There are lessons along the way, as well as a valuable message that readers of all ages will benefit from the story's reminder. The illustrations are quire lovely as well.
Highly recommended, and don't be surprised if this heart warming book brings a joyful tear to the eye as well as a smile to your face.(less)
A very good addition to the Tiffany Aching series. She's obviously maturing in this book, and the weight of being the witch is evident throughout. Adm...moreA very good addition to the Tiffany Aching series. She's obviously maturing in this book, and the weight of being the witch is evident throughout. Admittedly, this might have been a bit heavy in the first third of the book. Still, young witches must grow up and the maturation process is never entirely "fun" in reality.
The characters are the usual wonderful Pratchett creations. I found Mrs. Proust to be a treat, with the Boffo tie-in bringing things together for longterm Pratchett fans. Also, a big THANK YOU to Pratchett for the inclusion of Eskarina Smith. The Carrot and Angua cameos were fun as well. And, of course, the Feegles just continue to make a larger place in my heart. Go Wee Mad Arthur (another brilliant tie-in)!
I wouldn't start here, not simply because this is most certainly a series of books. Rather, I wouldn't want the sweet Tiffany to be taken completely out of context. Fans of the series should dive in immediately.(less)
Yes it's a rewrite of King Lear, and as a comedy, but I'm sure you know that by now. There's also lots of rowdy sex, betrayals, and a fair bit of murd...moreYes it's a rewrite of King Lear, and as a comedy, but I'm sure you know that by now. There's also lots of rowdy sex, betrayals, and a fair bit of murder most foul (well, it is royalty after all). Highly recommended reading.
Personally, I couldn't help feeling like Pocket was merely Biff from "Lamb", magically transported in time, on more than a few occasions. Although, with less internal dialog in favor of Pocket's witty verbal delivery as the fool that he is. I'm curious how I'd have felt had I read Fool before Lamb.
A very compelling read regardless, with a satisfying number of twists and turns along the way.(less)
**spoiler alert** Pratchett, the high king of wit, shines again! Here he takes on sports fanaticism and high fashion in the satirical fantasy stage of...more**spoiler alert** Pratchett, the high king of wit, shines again! Here he takes on sports fanaticism and high fashion in the satirical fantasy stage of Discworld.
This is a wonderful read. This is especially so if you have an understanding of the madness that is being a football (soccer)fan. For the uninitiated, think of college sports fans. Now crank up the tension to the point where local bars didn't let customers wear team jersey because it would result in all out warfare. Consider it March Madness, on steroids, year round.
I especially liked that this is a wizard book (the Discworld series is split into several arcs, see www.lspace.org for more info). Additionally, a wizard book with Rincewind making several appearances. Pratchett doesn't rely on history though. He brings new characters to the fold that you immediately can't help but pull for.
Front and center to this is Nutt, who is an Orc being passed off as a Goblin (*hey, there's a spoiler, although I'm sure you would figured it out in the first 75 pages or so*). The Orc bit plays out fairly well, and manages to show the strain the multi-species society is under. Even more so however, the level of tolerance Ankh-Morpork has developed.
Nutt is wonderfully developed, thanks in large part to the supporting characters. Trev, Glenda, and Juliet are beautiful. Pratchett, presents their flaws openly and you can't help but love the bunch the more for it.
I'm being tough on the scoring because it's a Pratchett book, and thus quite a bit to live up to. Also, there is a bit of editing that could have occurred. Not on the level of say the madness that is J. K. Rowling's editors (do they even exist?!). Just that a snip here and there would have trimmed the story up more tightly. Nothing that will greatly detract from the experience however.
Overall a great romp as usual, and I do so hope that Pratchett hangs in there for a few more books. Sending good thoughts and energy his way in these tough times!(less)
**spoiler alert** FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a huge Gaiman fan. So this review will obviously be biased. In my defense, I am such a big fan because Gaiman...more**spoiler alert** FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a huge Gaiman fan. So this review will obviously be biased. In my defense, I am such a big fan because Gaiman is a master of the craft when it comes to telling a story. Regardless of chosen format, he consistently shines.
One thing about reading Gaiman, is that it helps if you try to get on board with what he is attempting to accomplish. This can be as easy as reading the description on the book flap or back cover, and as involved as understanding an entirely new genre. Bypass this advice at your own peril.
For example, my first read of Stardust left me a bit flat. Why? I wasn't reading it as a fairy tale. My second, and subsequent, reading of the book have been wonderful.
"Odd and the Frost Giants" is a short, finely tuned novel. This isn't Gaiman being lazy. Rather, this is Gaiman shining in writing an illustrated (Helquist did wonderfully!) novel for young readers. Along the way, he manages to instill some important life lessons without the slightest touch of being preachy.
Odd is crippled. This was a result of his own actions. Actions that he takes responsibility for and freely admits his error. He doesn't think the world owes him anything, he is void of bitterness, and exhibits a level of bravery anybody would admire. So lesson #1; take what your dealt, especially when you've drawn your own cards, and live your life.
Odd is highly motivated. When the town begins to implode due to the endless Winter, and perhaps you have to live in a cold climate to understand this, he takes it upon himself to make a difference. Lesson #2; everybody has a responsibility to make a difference. The fact that nobody is doing anything is no excuse for you to be passive.
Odd is very resourceful. Despite his handicap, Odd gets things done. He has also learned many things in his young life and leverages this knowledge. He relies on critical thinking to succeed in situations where experience is at a loss. Lesson #3; pay attention because you never know what might be useful later, and keep your wits about you!
Odd is a master negotiator. He's young, yet fully understands that agreement in a conflict means that everybody has to feel as though they've won. Perhaps this is folly. Perhaps he should have worked out another 10 years, snuck Thor's hammer away, and won the battle by force rather than wits. Do children really need "another" story like that though? Lesson #4; non-violent conflict resolution is a reality.
Finally, I appreciate the ending of this story. Odd receives healing, but not entirely. Also, he takes it upon himself to make his mother's life better upon his return.
I look forward to the further adventures of Odd!(less)
As always, you can read my accolades of Harris, and my thoughts on the True Blood series (blah), in my review of the first book in the series.
I have t...moreAs always, you can read my accolades of Harris, and my thoughts on the True Blood series (blah), in my review of the first book in the series.
I have trouble recommending this book. Although, if you're going to read the series you'll have to wade on through. The story begins quite well and goes strong for roughly three quarters of the book. Then Harris gets bored, kidnapped by aliens, or her editors fall asleep. The main story and sub-plots all wrap up not just too cleanly, but all too simply.
A disappointment from such a good writer on a book that was working so well.(less)
A surprisingly good read. Since I don't watch television, I've only caught bits and pieces of True Blood. It looked like normal TV tripe. So I was qui...moreA surprisingly good read. Since I don't watch television, I've only caught bits and pieces of True Blood. It looked like normal TV tripe. So I was quite hesitant to give this book a shot when it showed up on a recent trip to Mexico via a friend of my wife's. To complete the True Blood thought; I did finally watch an episode after reading the first two books of the series. The term “based on” has never been stretched farther. The True Blood writers should be quartered, and then those pieces should be further quartered and scattered about to keep the writing evil from being concentrated in one place.
So, with that bit of fanciful violence done with, let us return to the subject at hand. First, another caveat. I am not a vampire book fan. Just ask my sister, currently in the throws of writing one. Not a conversation goes by where I don't attempt to change the subject to ninja monkeys. Yet the Stackhouse series has something that appeals to more than vampire fans I believe.
Harris has a writing style that really pulls a reader in. I saw a blurb on one of the books describe it as “just between us girls” style. Having never been a girl, I'll have to take that the comment as truth.
Harris develops characters fully when required, and efficiently when otherwise. The story drives on in a compelling fashion and she sprinkles details of the overarching series along the way to further compel you to pick up the other books.
I believe what I liked most, and perhaps this is the “just between us girls” thing, is the way Harris reveals Sookie's desires as well as her conflicts. The former is quite tasteful (perhaps even tasty at times?) and the latter goes into territory that most authors lack the depth to navigate clearly. A romantic character can't possibly have feelings for more than one person without being a slut! That's what lesser authors would fall back to. Yet Harris, deftly presents Sookie as an adult with many emotions that remains fairly chaste.
**spoiler alert** While most Christopher Moore books have unlikely heroes, Moore goes a long way initially towards making the main character, Sam, eas...more**spoiler alert** While most Christopher Moore books have unlikely heroes, Moore goes a long way initially towards making the main character, Sam, easy to dislike. You don't get much lower than a conniving insurance salesman. Only a crafty author the likes of Moore could manage to bring such a character back to a point where you are rooting for the guy.
"Coyote Blue" is primarily fueled on native american religion, yet manages to add a few dashes of other religions and cultures in a surprisingly effective way. The story doesn't ignore the well known problems native americans have struggled with. Yet Moore treats the subject matter with a great deal of respect and brings forth the beauty of indian traditions that are so often overlooked.
Coyote, the creator and trickster god, is simply a wonderful character. Powerful, vulgar, mysterious, and totally clueless at the same time. As a trickster, he's so often on the wrong end of the trick.
With Coyote, Moore takes the idea of gods existing due to belief and creates a loop out of it. While Coyote may have created all things, he created them so there would be somebody to tell his story. His brother, the god of the underworld, has clearly suffered the fate of not having anyone to tell his story.
Overall, this is a very good read. Though not perfect, the final battle is out of place and turns out to be nothing more than a clumsy plot mechanism, it's surprising how strong Moore started (this was his second book) as an author. Minty Fresh from "A Dirty Job" is introduced in this book as the "son" of Anubis (the aforementioned god of the underworld). There is mention of a few a couple other characters that appear in later books as well.(less)
Mau, the last of his tribe to survive a huge tidal wave, is an amazing character. Granted, if you're a Pratchett reader, you'll find similarities to M...moreMau, the last of his tribe to survive a huge tidal wave, is an amazing character. Granted, if you're a Pratchett reader, you'll find similarities to Masklin in "Truckers", Adam in "Good Omens", and Brutha in "Small Gods". Young men attempting to make sense of their learned notions of gods and the world they live in. This is a new twist however.
I think that adding the "ancestors" to the mix really increased the conflict Mau had with stepping away from the gods. Well that and being in direct conversation with Locaha, the god of death. It's certainly hard deciding not to believe in gods when you talk to one regularly.
So you've got the typical Pratchett topic of gods existing due to belief, yet mixed in with what is quite possibly the strongest understanding of why society needs them. Pratchett has worked this angle before. I just don't think he's been quite as successful as he is in this novel.
Daphne (aka Ermintrude) is also quite delightful. Pratchett has never been shy towards strong female characters and this is certainly no exception. Daphne is a perfect balance of strength and the occasional weakness due to self doubt.
The ending is a little a little too tidy and wanders into fairy tale territory unexpectedly. For a moment I thought I had picked up Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" for the final chapter (and that was meant to be a fairy tale). Overall however, it detracts little from the complete work.(less)
**spoiler alert** Wow! Where to start. If you're a Gaiman reader, this book may remind you of a cross between "Neverwhere" and "Stardust". Which is a...more**spoiler alert** Wow! Where to start. If you're a Gaiman reader, this book may remind you of a cross between "Neverwhere" and "Stardust". Which is a very nice similarity. If you're new to Gaiman, you won't go wrong starting here regardless of your age (NOTE: I would warn parents that the book begins with a rather violent, although not graphic, triple murder that may disturb younger readers).
The story is about a living human named Bod (short for Nobody) and his life growing up in a graveyard raised by the dead (as well as a small collection of mythical characters) following the brutal murder of his family.
I loved the main character Bod. Simple, yet intelligent and noble. His guardian, Silas, reminds me strongly of the Marques de Carabas in "Neverwhere". It seems a bit as though Silas had even more in common with that character when he was younger judging from his own words about his past.
Neil's talent for accomplishing a wealth of character development in such short order is front and center in this book. You come to love, or despise, the cast quickly. I wept through the final 10 to 20 pages, which are very much like a darker version of Christopher Robin's coming of age in Winnie-the-Pooh (haven't read it as an adult? shame on you!).
I'm hoping this book turns into a series. However it doesn't seem like that is a direction that Neil has been interested in previously in book form.
There were a few lessons I'd take away from this story. First, doing the right thing means living with the consequences and that those consequences aren't always as wonderfully romantic as we would like to believe.
Second, revenge exacts a huge cost. Part of this is taught to Bod by the poet, Nehemiah Trot. The story Nehemiah recounts regarding his revenge on the critic seems funny initially. What a silly idea for an author to punish the world by not publishing. When you consider that Nehemiah continued to write and refused to publish any of it however, it's quite sad. Later, Bod plans his revenge on Jack. A plan that costs him his life's love, despite his having succeeded. This interplays with the first lesson a little. That doing the right thing still has consequences. It also brings home the revenge lesson in a powerful fashion.
Finally, I feel there is a message here for Readers. Not just "readers". I mean those of us that read quite a bit. Bod grows up surrounded by friends and family yet he has a great sense of solitude. Something that Readers can relate to as participants in one of the most solitary activities available to us, reading. I felt that a little bit of the message of actively living was aimed at us Readers. To step away from the story and create our own journey.(less)