Monday, October 22, 2018

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon

Image result for Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightI'm not even really sure how to write this review.  This was a rather unusual read for me.  I typically stay away from big general fiction sellers.  My mom gave me this book in our version of a book subscription box because it has a poodle on the cover and the lead character has autism.  

There were plenty of factors to this story that were relative and my mom gave it to me so I had to read it.  I finished the book last year, but I have put off writing the review for all the other books I have read in between.

In the end, I figured out how I feel about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  I enjoyed this book.  It has an excellent plot, characters, and writing.  I found nothing negative to say or dislike about the book.  But, there was nothing special.  There was no factor that made this book a favorite of mine.

It is a completely average book to me.  However, it does make sense that it is getting stage treatment--which looks utterly ridiculous and horrifying--from its popularity and has sold millions of copies.  

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Where the Stars Rise edited by Lucas Law and Derwin Mak

Some are good, some are great and some I really could have gone without ever reading.  But that's just how an anthology works.  I've lately really become fond of anthologies.  It is nice to just pick up a short story between projects.  Especially with the weather taking a quick turn to the cold side, I've not been able to garden for as long as I would like in a day.  I enjoy coming in for a hot cup of tea and a quick read.

Where the Stars Rise is a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories by Asian authors.  It has been a vastly interesting collection.  The eastern mythos provides an entirely different spin than I have been raised with and gives a nice edge when I get in a fantasy slump.

Some of the stories I would love to see get an entire novel based on these short prequels--such as The dataSultan of Streets and Stars by Jeremy Szal.  

Some were just great stand alone stories that really make you think about life--like any good science fiction should--such as Weaving Silk by Amanda Sun and Vanilla Rice by Angela Yuriko Smith.  I especially like the interlinked paradigms from A Star is Born by Miki Dare.

Some were just over my head because I don't have enough cultural heritage to understand the myths the authors are building around--such as Udatta Sloka by Deepak Bharathan.

Overall I give this short story collection 4 stars.  The ones I truly enjoyed well overrated the ones that were beyond my understanding or just poorly written (which there were only two).

Friday, October 19, 2018

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett


Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12; Witches #3)While the witches are not my favorite arc of the Discworld (that honor goes to Death), I do highly appreciate Granny Weatherwax--she is a very sensible woman--and Nanny Ogg is a hoot.  On the flip side, Magrat is starting to rub me raw.  I wish her character would trade places with Granny's hat (there is a little bit of a pun there).

The satire here is all about fairy tales and happy endings.  It's fairy godmothers versus witches in a showdown for who gets to influence the city of Genua.  There is great humor--as always with a Pratchett novel--overlaying the very serious topic of predestiny and choice.

Nanny Ott speaks fluent foreign, and I couldn't stop cracking up.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry

Image result for A Sudden, Fearful DeathWe've dealt with coercion, deception of honor, sodomy, and pedophilia.  Why not move onto rape and women's rights?  I'm starting to wonder if Perry's need to shake up the social cauldron is just ruining this series.

A nurse that Hester knew in the Crimea is found stuffed into a laundry chute at Royal Free Hospital.  All the staff are suspects, but everyone certainly looks with more scrutiny at the nurses than the respectable doctors.  We get into yet another status argument of women's capabilities--ad nauseam

The debate of man versus woman is the sole purpose of the entire case, which again spends most of the story being a courtroom drama with very little detective work.  In fact, being a nurse's death, we have Hester at the front of the novel and Monk barely present.

Not that I'm not grateful to be away from the amnesic suffering of Monk, but this is "A William Monk novel."  I really expect there to be more detective work and less legal argument.

I'm really started to fatigue of this series.  How I was hoping to find an excellent Victorian detective series with some morals.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time Quintet, #3)There is an extravagant time skip between A Swiftly Tilting Planet and A Wind in the Door.  Meg is now married to Calvin and very much pregnant.  I'm actually happy that an author didn't waste sequels on developing romance and dragging us through Meg's angsty teen years.

She is home for the Thanksgiving holiday--where only Charles Wallace remains at home--since Calvin is overseas at a lecture.  Her mother-in-law is suddenly drawn to attend when she has never participated in Murry functions previously.

L'Engle has taken us through the cosmos to determine what is reality, shrank us to minuscule farandolae to determine size is relevant, and now she is sending us careening through time to determine inter-connectivity.  Charles Wallace must learn that when you ask Where your are, you should really be asking When.

What would a children's fantasy be without mythical creatures?  We've met aliens, stars, and dragons.  Now, we get unicorns.  Such beauty and glory in the creatures that L'Engle depicts.  

I love the morals and the lessons that are ever present in the "The Time Quintet."  Some of the books are better than the others, but the series as a whole should never be forgotten in time.  The story elegantly weaves the history of people through a thousand years of time.  The decisions that were made by our ancestors is the consequence of our future.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Defend and Betray by Anne Perry

Image result for Defend and BetrayPerry certainly isn't afraid to tackle any social subject.  That is what drew me to start this mystery series.  I was hoping for a good mystery that I didn't solve right away but have failed in that mission.  What keeps me renting these books is Perry's unforgiving delve into social niceties. 

For all of that, Defend and Betray went too far off the soapbox for me.  Some subjects are naturally abhorrent to a rational human.  They don't need attention drawn to them.  While you may be trying to help the victims, you are just shining a spotlight on a behavior that could be given unintended consequences for all the attention.

The only redeeming factor to this book--after skipping chapters at a time when I figured out why Alexandra killed her husband--was the court scene at the finale.  I was only too happy to have missed the unnecessary dissertation on the immoral acts of the Carlyon family as well as the always too lengthy rambling of Monk trying to figure out his amnesia.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet, #2)Madeleine L'Engle took science and made fantastic stories for children.  She combined the modern sciences with the magic of faith and tradition.  A Wrinkle in Time presented children with string theory, stars, and the power of love.  Now we get to explore identity, mythology, and biology.

While I'm sad we've left behind Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, we have a new and fascinating set of characters.  And dragon fewmets.  

Proginoskes and Sporos join Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin at school with Blajeny.  The trio have traveled the vast universe to save their father from IT and learned about the dark stain spreading through the cosmos.  Now they must learn that size is relative and darkness can taint everything.

We are introduced to the true villains of the series.  The Echthroi are fallen angels, whose goal is to stain the song of the cosmos, and they are very determined to destroy Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin.  They do not want the students to graduate from their three trials and create quite a bit of mischief and mayhem.

Meg's struggle can become a little tedious and certainly overdone.  We knew from the first book that she has a hard time accepting herself and her abilities.  We really did not need the continuation.  It tarnishes her education in becoming a Namer--in my opinion.  The concept of Naming is wonderful and should have been able to shine more brightly.

Proginoskes is one of the most beautiful characters L'Engle has created.  I seriously broke down into tears by the end of the book, but they weren't the sad kind.  The poignancy of this novel is just as strong to me as an adult as it was as a child (perhaps even more, actually).

This is easily my favorite series to make children think about the world around them and discuss the bigger questions.  While "The Time Quintet" makes up quite a few fantastical things and places, the concept of Let's Pretend and reality is key to the entire series.  What is real?