Monday, December 10, 2018

An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle

177363Had quite an odd moment with this novel.  I reached a point in the story where a Bible quote is discussed.  Immediately after my morning read, I watched the funeral for George H. W. Bush where the exact same Bible quote was read.  I have never had reading so relevant to my life.  It was a very eerie day.  But it really highlighted the beauty of Madeleine L'Engle to me.

To the book itself...  

Polly, the oldest child of Meg and Calvin, is sent to the Murrys farm for the summer to help her education.  There she runs into a fellow she met on a random beach on a vacation in Greece--which is just down right odd.  I know the world is a small place, but it just felt forced in the book.


Not only does she run into such an unusual suspect, but she also manages to walk herself right through a tesseract to ancient America.  (Remember those people we read about in ASTP?  They're kind of back.)

While I did not like the premise one bit, the book is certainly filled with excellent drama.  This is a book about death that triggers some serious philosophical debate.  Because it is about death, it is also very much a book about life.  

Polly is presented with challenges that mean the difference between childhood and adulthood.  I respect L'Engle presenting growing up as maturing, not overly flamboyant rebelling.  The young adult genre could stand to remember that.

This was not my favorite in the "Time Quintet," but I see the series as more of a thematic collection--the concept of spirituality inside science.  (Sometimes this novel isn't even boxed in the set.)

You can really read them in whichever order you please because the story lines are unique and finite.  But as I stated above, this is a thematic series, and reading them in published order builds the themes and ideas.  The characters aren't the main point.  Something that no longer seems done in today's writing.

Overall, I think the series is worth more than its individual parts, but I feel An Acceptable Time is well worth the time reading.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Small Gods by Terry PratchettThis is most commonly cited as grand poobah when I ask people which Discworld novel is their favorite.  I'm not sure why.

Now, now--don't pull out the torch and pitchforks just yet.  Terry Pratchett is preeminent in the writing of fantasy satire.  I even rank religious satire at the peak.  I'm just saying I'm not sure why Small Gods is listed in the coveted number one slot of Discworld novels.  I mean, who doesn't love trumped up turtles?  But even the cute, shelled geniuses can't sway me.

The pacing is incredibly slow, however.  It took me forever to read this novel and was honestly sluggish enough I chose to read several other novels before finishing Small Gods.  This is the first book I've struggled to complete in some time, and I was surprised it was a Discworld novel. 

We clearly are poking fun at organized religion and its disingenuous past in Small Gods.  It just isn't as well handled as many of Pratchett's other works.  The satire is clunky and pushed full in our face with exhaustive dialogue.  Subtlety has been completely lost in the desert with the small gods apparently.  

The philosophy versus religion, as well as the crisis of faith, undertones are in some places aggressive and in others passive.  Passive-aggressive is annoying.  No one likes it.  It jars the story telling.

The characters were some of the most lackluster in the Disc's part of the multiverse of any novel I have read so far.  I think I may have even liked the Faustian characters better--shiver.

I really didn't like Moving Pictures either, so I guess I just want my satire without cliche.  (Is that statement even really allowed to exist?)  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

A look at what the future holds.  Or does it?  That is the beauty behind this collection of short stories by Arwen Elys Dayton.  It will make you think and debate about a topic that is very real.  Are we meant for modification?  Where do we draw the line in the sand?  Are humans capable of playing God?

You may remember that I reviewed the start of the "Seeker" series from Arwen Elys Dayton a few years ago.  They were an excellent set of young adult fantasies with serious depth of character.  When Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful hit Netgalley, I had to request a copy.  (You can check out my "Seeker" reviews here and here.)

This is not an anthology, but it is a series of short stories.  This novel is a timeline of human evolution.  Each story revolves around a character experiencing our transition from human to something evolved.  Their stories are relative.  Through Reverend Tadd, we even get to see how the human reaction evolves.

This book will seriously make you think about our future.  It lays the foundation for conversations that are being had now in the scientific community but will be had around the kitchen table soon. 

At first, I was a little off with the short story chapter style.  I really got involved with the characters and their part of the human equation when their story would be over.  Every chapter has a conclusion to the individual voice with little bridge to the next chapter.  It was a little jarring.  However, each short story is beautifully built, and I really appreciated the short story format by the end of the book.

You will be able to get your copy Tuesday, December 4.  Head here to pre-order your very own copy.  You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

6699003I was feeling nostalgic so went looking for a fairy tale to read.  Why not one about a 12 year old evil genius looking to steal the pot of gold?  Also Artemis Fowl is about to get a silver screen treatment.

I have always had very mixed feelings towards fairy tale retelling.  I understand fairy tales were meant to be passed along and that will include its own bit of telephone with each iteration.  However.  The amount of modern retelling that take classics that I can't even find the original backbone is exhausting.

Artemis Fowl is able to take the fairies of old and insert them into the modern world because this is inspired by fairy tales as a whole without trying to retell any specific story.  Artemis Fowl plans on putting his white collar crime family back on top by robbing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

He is assisted by an intense mercenary trained from birth to complete any challenge, Butler.  He is hampered by a loony tunes mother.  He is definitely operating above his age group.  But can he really outsmart the fairies, who have protected their gold from humans for millennia?

This is a completely enjoyable quick read that I really hope they don't screw up in Hollywood.  It is action packed without being overly serious and grim.  An excellent variety of fairies are represented.  I'm going to need to see if my library has the rest of the series.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle

Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4)
Time does not flow like a river towards the sea in L'Engle's cosmos.  Many Waters takes place somewhere in between A Wind in a Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet--and some 3,000 years in the past.  

The story of Noah getting a fictional treatment gives me some mixed feelings.  I love that L'Engle's books have spiritual and quantum physics mixture, but taking a biblical story and making it her whole plot is a stretch for me.

Yet despite my misgivings, I couldn't put the book down.  L'Engle's writing is enthralling and thought provoking.  I may not have loved the subject, but the lesson was one of her best.  

The adventures of Sandy and Dennys start in the lab when they accidentally tamper with an experiment.  They find themselves in a desert with no way to return home. 

Unicorns make a second appearance.  These aren't your standard fairy tale unicorns.  These are quantum unicorns that travel through space-time.  We are also introduced to water divining mammoths, seraphim, and nephilim.

The regular people are interesting characters too.  The way that everyone interacts with each other and the lessons they all take away from each other are what make this story.  It is full of tension and excellent pacing.  I just wish it hadn't been Noah.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio RacesI had really meant to put this review up in time for the scorpio races, but I missed it and the opportunity for ambiance. But everyone here already is aware of my lack of timeliness so we'll just get along to the review.

On an island off the coast of what appears to be Britain of a begone era, a group of riders take on the ultimate challenge--racing water horses.  A young man named Sean has an astounding relationship with the water horses, but Kate wants to prove that it's not all about the local legends.

This is a gut-wrenching tale about choices, home, and love.  The cast of characters is a vast array of usual suspects.  They have nothing extraordinary about them, and that is what makes them some of the best developed characters I've read.  I was incredibly impressed with the sense of reality even being in a fantasy island with mythical creatures.

I picked this book off an Amazon sale for the horse race plot.  I want to be very forthcoming, if you are looking for a high action horse race, don't get this book.  If you want to read a high quality story with the bonus of horses, then certainly pick up this novel.  

The story pacing is definitely slow, but I never felt like putting the book down.  The characters are gripping and the tale itself is life.  By the end of the book, I was mesmerized.  A definite 4 star book.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la MuerteToday is Dia de los Muertos, and I have a spooky treat for you.  This is a nice little story if you are looking for seasonal reads to enjoy with all the festivities of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.

This is a side story from Lady Mechanika's past.  There is significance in character building, but none towards the plot that has been building in Volumes 1-4.  

Lady Mechanika has just lost Dallas and headed to the remote village of Santa Catarina.  She is trying to hide from her pain but has arrived in Mexico during the Dia de los Muertos festival.  The citizens convince her to participate as it will be more healing than hiding in her room getting drunk.

The citizens do not know, however, that Lady Mechanika always manages to run into the wrong people when she is on holiday.  The Jinentes del Infierno have been taxing the village for years as an order of protection.  Of course, Lady Mechanika can't abide bullying, so she gets involved.

The three comic set is short and sweet and a great Mexican culture representation.  How we deal with the loss of our loved ones is perfect for Dia de los Muertos, and the eerie coloring and gory plot are perfect for Halloween.