|burn||Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.|
|mock||This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.|
|don't||Don't read this book.|
|desert||If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.|
|fan||If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.|
|worth||This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.|
|strongly||I strongly recommend this book|
|amazing||OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.|
I remember when I first read this book being very surprised at the abrupt introduction of Michael Carpenter into the Dresden Files series. He shows up on the first page of this book, yet is already Harry's best friend. He's also a Knight of the Cross, having been one for the previous twenty years. The man had killed a dragon and knows a lot of lore that Harry doesn't know.
There are a number of other series characters introduced, what with Thomas showing up, Charity having incredibly stilted speaking patterns, and Lea revealing more of Harry's past.
I recall thinking while reading, that the book felt choppy. The plot rather goes along nominally linearly, but references a lot of events that had happened a couple months before. It also has a few jumps from location to location, and starts a lot of unfinished threads.
This is, however, the first book in the Dresden series where Butcher catches his stride. Harry is Harry, and starting to come into his own. The world is fleshed out a bit more, with the lore starting to solidify. If I could direct an author's hand (which I can't, and wouldn't even with the chance), I'd rework the first two books to be more like this one and later books: being Dresden and less Dresden-becoming.
That said, yep, Harry, love the series. Recommended.
I don't recall where I picked up this book. Likely from Book Riot, since it isn't a Mom-book (I know, shock). It is a short and beautiful in a sad way.
The book blurb says:
A tale of first love, bad theology and robot reincarnation in the Chinese afterlife.
In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation. It's a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn't choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she's reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.
Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua's creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.
Which is to say, it's the story of a died-too-young girl who doesn't have enough life experience to understand intrigue, but does have enough life experience to love. The good parts of the story are the parts not explicitly described, the parts where the reader understands through actions and moments.
It's a quick read, the book being 51 pages long and all. I enjoyed it.
Okay, book nine in the Virgil Flowers series. This one did not actually have beagles in it. It did, however have rare tigers in it. Does that count?
The two sentence summary is "Two rare Amur tigers are catnapped, and f---in' Flowers is assigned to the case. In true Virgil Flowers fashion, other things happen, though the case is resolved in a crazy mess." I crack me up.
Once again, the plot is shallow. In this one, however, Flowers seems more human: he doesn't have everything figured out in the first 43% of the book (unlike in the previous book). He catches a number of lucky breaks to move forward in the case, otherwise he's bored (though, Sandford doesn't do a great job at expressing the weight of boredom and waiting, summarizing them in a sentence here and there as "He was bored"). The bad guy is just plain weird. I have to admit not understanding said bad guy's mental state, but nothing's new about that.
The banter wasn't as quick in the book as in previous books. I laughed out loud only once in the book. And there were a lot of references to Prey books, which, hey, might sell more books for Sandford or develop the Flowers universe more. Maybe. In reality, it made me feel I was reading a filler book instead of its own stand-alone book.
Not one of Sandford's best Flowers books, it's also not bad enough to say this is book one of the two bad in a row that will cause me to stop reading a series. If you're reading the Flowers books, continue.
I'm tempted to leave the entire book review as that single word. Recommended. Clearly I didn't, because I'm still typing, but I'm definitely tempted.
I had "started" this book a few months ago, and by "started," I mean, "read the first page." The timing wasn't good, so I didn't keep going, because Kay's books aren't put-downable. Yes, a real word that, "put-downable." This book wasn't. And what better day to read the book than jet-lagged and sick, and in need of comfort? Said jet-lag may have enabled me to stay up until 6:30 am to read this book. Or maybe not. It's like a migraine that way, maybe the caffeine causes it, maybe the caffeine didn't.
So, this book. It's "historical fiction with a twist of fantasy," as Kay describes others describing his works. I would say that description was true of his earlier books, but not really this one. While there is an itty bitty part that requires suspension of disbelief, the rest of it is pretty much a fictionalized story of the fall of the Ottoman Empire from a merchant's, an artist's, and soldier's points of view. But, ssssssssh, it's not really called the Ottoman Empire.
Kay moves back to his earlier style of writing in this book, in that in his earlier books, he wasn't explicit about the thoughts behind the characters actions, leaving the reader to piece things together and fill in the gaps. Subsequent books, he drifted to explaining everything, which lost some of the magic of his writing style. He has it coming back here, which makes me like this book so much more.
If you like his style, this book is recommended. If you haven't read Kay's books before, read A Song for Arbonne or The Lions of Al-Rassan first instead.
Okay, continuing in the "re-read the Dresden books because, well, why not (okay, really, because I want a brain rest)" trend, I started in immediate on Fool Moon after Storm Front. And again, I'm surprised at the animosity between Murphy and Dresden, along with the total suspicion from Murphy on everything. Have something you can't explain away, blame the crazy person even though you've seen him do crazy stuff.
That said, this book seems to be the turning point in the relationship, with Murphy deciding to trust Dresden, even as Dresden becomes more and more paranoid and suspicious of everyone around him, trying to figure out the clue of the wolf attacks.
I recalled who the ultimate bad guys were in this book, from previous readings. I didn't recall the details, though. I'm amused that some parts that are BIG in my memory of the book are actually small in the actual book.
I also wonder if this is the last book of Harry Dresden as vulnerable. Dresden keeps becoming more and more powerful as the series goes on, to the point that even after he dies, he is still more powerful than most but a handful of wizards around him. I will, of course, have to read them all to figure this out.
So, right, this book.
Werewolves. In the Dresden universe, the multitude of (mythologically existing) types of werewolves are all present. We have the loup garrou, the hexenwolves, the lycanthropes, the theriomorphs (er, shapeshifters), and your standard werewolves. They're all different flavours of the same thing: a human in wolf form who do a lot of damage. People die. Harry exhausts himself and survive by thinking. Totally great.
The thing that gets me in this book is how much guilt and responsibility Dresden places upon himself for the actions of others. "It's my fault this happened," blah blah blah, when, no, it wasn't his fault that someone else chose to do a horrible thing. One thing about self-realization is the acceptance that, no, you are not responsible for others' choices. It's a hard one.
Anyway, of course I recommend the Dresden series. Unsurprising there. I don't recommend reading the first two books more than once, though. Just enough to get your feet into the world.
Okay, yes, I might have read this book before. And yes, I might have read it a number of times before. Okay, yes, a large number of times before. Sometimes, however, you just want to sit back, relax, and read something you're familiar with. Again.
What I found interesting about this reading of Storm Front is the reminder of how rough Butcher had fleshed out Dresden's world. There are a lot details like how a soul gaze works, and why electronics self-destruct around wizards, that Butcher doesn't have quite worked out. And, of course, this is unsurprising, since this is the first Dresden book, and Butcher was just getting started. The Dresden banter, however, was there, and, oh boy, was entertaining.
And yet, even with the first book, Butcher manages to plant clues that are referenced and revealed ten, twelve books later. Love it.
Another thing I didn't recall about this book just how much Dresden and Murphy were at odds. Their relationship evolves into a better friendship with significant trust, but in this book, the trust hasn't been established.
I will likely keep not reading this book as frequently as the other Dresden books, many which I like more anyway. Still fun as an establishment of the Dresden world.
Of course I recommend the Dresden series. I don't recommend reading this first one more than once, though, unless it's been, say, four or five years since you read it last. Then, yes, reread.
Along with Kay, Butcher, and maybe R.R. Martin, I'll pretty much read anything this man writes.
Or, in this case, listen to.
The Dispatcher was a free audiobook by Scalzi and offered by Audible free for a month or so. I picked it up, but wasn't going to listen in any rush until Matthew Weier O'Phinney asked me if I had read it yet. I jumped on it, starting it today and finishing it today.
It's a futuristic mystery. Well, maybe. Take one aspect of death and change it up. How does life change?
Enjoyed it. Totally worth the price I paid for it! (I crack me up. Was a fun book! Quinto's reading of it was great.)
Another Mom selected book. At this point, I'm nearing the end of her book list, with the remaining books being not so interesting to me. This is one of the "bottom of the pile" books. Which is somewhat reasonable, given that it is book 3 of a 5 book series. Kinda makes me wonder if I'll read the whole series later, as I did with Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series.
This book tells the story of three brothers Manuel, Angel, and Patrico, from a coffee-growing village, who try to mule drugs. One brother passes away, one brother is in jail, and the story follows the third brother who tries to understand the why of his brothers' choices.
Interwoven with this story is the story of Ann Lindell, who is actually the main character of the series. She's a cop solving a murder in her town, finding the links of the murder to the restaurant Dakar, which is unsurprising, given the victim worked at Dakar.
There are sub-plots and secondary characters who are woven into the story. There's desire and mystery and, hey, a lot of annoyance by Ann Lindell. That was what I took away from this book the most, that Ann Lindell is annoyed all the time. She's annoyed at her coworkers, those around her, the suspects, and the witnesses. Everyone annoys her.
And the ending, wow, something good, something bad, and yay for one part while cringe for another part. Well, not the end-end, there's a smidge at the end that seemed oddly added at the end. Essentially, things sorta work out for the sympathetic characters.
I bought this book this past weekend on my walk-about around San Francisco last Saturday. I had walked to a Paper Source (I know, shock, I went to a paper store), which turned out to be a newly-opened, concept store (which means it has new merchandise before it is generally available at other Paper Source stores) on the walk for specific Pokémon, and, well, if you're close, of course you have to go it.
I'm uncertain what page in particular caught my attention. I think it was the positive aspects the book: here's a list of all the crappy things that are the result of growing up, becoming an adult, and accepting responsibility for ones own life. And yet, here are the good things that come of those crappy things.
I kinda feel like we could use this format for our adulting book.
Anyway, reason 32 in particular moved me.
You'll Feel Lost.*
Upside, *You're on a journey -- getting lost is part of the fun.
And that is the way to view this life.
Yeah, takes five minutes to read the book. It was adorable.
Really now, I need to change this idea of a "Book Review" to "Mom Chose This Book and I Read It Review." This is another of Mom's selected books. I think I'm nearing the end of her pile. That just means, however, that I'll start in on my pile, which is significantly bigger than Mom's pile, to be sure.
This book is the story of a woman's journey around Indonesia, with her saying "Yes" to every adventure that presents itself. Elizabeth Pisani had previously worked in Indonesia, a couple decades before, so knew much about the country, and had lived through much of its recent turmoil. As she describes it, her journey was much like trying to show everyone why your bad boyfriend deserves a chance, look at his many good qualities.
While reading this book, I contrasted the history telling of this book to the history telling found in the Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Mao. The latter was much richer in its telling, while Pisani's travels were much broader and more flavorful at the local, individual level.
I was surprised that I enjoyed the book, picking the book up more frequently than I thought I would. I had checked in with Mom when I first started the book, having discovered that Mom disliked one of the books we both read, and wanting to see if she had finished this book and liked it. She said, she had started the book, but had been distracted by another, so hadn't finished it yet. I think it's worth finishing if you'd started it, and an entertaining read if you're interested in a woman's year-long adventure in the world's largest nation.
"Here," he said. "I think you'll enjoy this. It seems right up your alley."
I keep track of all sorts of things. I absolutely love what numbers and visualizations can tell us about ourselves and the world around us. So, when Kris handed me this book, I have to say I was immediately delighted, and immediately oblivious to EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD as I read it. One of the very very few non-fiction books that I've devoured in a day. I love this book. I absolutely adore this book.
The book is a series of weekly postcards sent between Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, visually detailing some data they decided to collect for the week. They put the data into a visualization on a postcard and mailed the postcard to the other. There are so many of the postcards that I just loved ("OOOOOOOOOO, I should track that, too!").
I had an idea of doing this review in numbers (289 pages of the 308 page book actually numbered, something something something), but really, my description cannot do this book justice. So, really now, ignore me and go watch their videos or buy the book.
The book is cute, whimsical, and COMPLETELY MOTIVATING. I love it.
"Oh! My favourite author!
I'm an atheist because of him."
Okay, seriously, can you pay an author a stronger compliment than "I changed my religion because of you."? I think not. I had read Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God a number of years ago, and I have to wonder if that was the book that caused my friend to think critically about the world around him (and the nuttiness that religions inspire), but I hadn't been recalling that book when I picked up this one.
In reality, I picked this one up because it seemed to be a gumshoe detective novel with a science-fiction twist, which I happen *cough* Dresden *couch* to have a fondness for.
I enjoyed this book about Alex Lomax, a private eye working on Mars, searching for a missing person and eventually investigating a murder. The book has a number of small mysteries in the larger arc of the book, which I found a little off when I started reading the book (and came to the end of the first solved mystery), but they all tied together really well, and I enjoyed the book.
This doesn't really count as a book in my 52 books in a year book reading goal (which, I'm happy to say, I've reached). I'm still including it in my book review list, though, since it is a book.
This book sucks. That's not fair. It satisfies someone's need, to be sure. It doesn't satisfy mine.
166 pages long, the exercises in this book don't start until page 90, and the last 10 pages are index and reference.
Here, the important page, page 90:
Do the exercises in this order:
Single Leg Circle
Single Leg Stretch
Double Leg Stretch
Single Leg Kick
Double Leg Kick
Side Leg Raises
There. Done. Now you don't need this book.
Years ago, I read the The Deed of Paksenarrion, a compendium of Elizabeth Moon's three books Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold. I enjoyed the books, and so picked up The Speed of Dark when it was released. I hadn't, however, actually read it until now.
I know, I know, shock, not a book from Mom's list. And not normally a book I would read. I picked it up because I enjoyed the Paksenarrion books, which were fantasy novels. This one was more social commentary with a smidge of science fiction. The beginning of the book has a number of my discomfort triggers, so I was pretty sure this was going to become one of my permanently in-progress books, or maybe the first one since Mote in God's Eye 15 years ago that I decided not to finish.
I finished it by reading it really really really fast.
The book follows Lou Arrendale, a fictionalized, high-functioning, autistic process analyst, who can see patterns that most people can't. A new boss a couple levels up from him at work starts and decides that he hates autistics and that, despite the numbers of tax breaks and sunk costs and incredible productivity, he is going to shut down autistic department. He threatens his employees with layoffs if they don't take an experimental treatment that cures adult autism (the in-utero cure already happened 27 years before).
While the Rosie Project was an amusing take on how autistic actions can be interpreted, this book is a serious look at how a non-autistic person believes autistic people view the world. I'm not sure either is accurate.
The book has a happy ending, so there's that. It's a fine book. Not recommending it, though.
Mom's List! Mom's List!
Okay, yes, this book was on Mom's list. In reality, I needed a break from the books I've been reading. I wanted something light, and this book qualified. Having read Looking for Alaska and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I knew what style to expect from John Green, and this book did not disappoint in my expectations.
Said expectations included high school or college aged kids, some sort of social awkwardness needed to be overcome, a main character who is a geek or geek-like outcast from the popular kids' social group, some internal growth, a revelation, a spurt of maturity, and a happy ending. Well, if not a happy ending, Green provides at least a satisfying closure. Essentially, everything wraps up cleanly.
And HEY, yes, this book fulfilled all these expectations!
We have Quentin, geek kid. We have Margo Roth Spiegelman, Quentin's love interest. We have the internal conflict of Margo. We have the external conflict of her disappearance. We have the journey to enlightenment, the revelation, and the happy-ish ending.
Which is to say, it was precisely what I needed: a light book to read in an evening for entertainment.
For the record, I refuse to ever read Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Not going to read it. Nope. No.
Continuing in the King and Maxwell series, the two of them have started their own detective agency, and things are going along pretty well, then BOOOOOM, shit a series of murders start happening in their home town.
Seriously, if I lived in a small town where the murder rate escalated from none in decades to over a dozen in two years, I would move over to the next town lickety-split. Or take an extended vacation in a different country, say, Mexico where the murder rate per 1000 is significantly lower.
Anyway, King and Maxwell. They have an agency of some sort, following up on various investigations. They are hired by a local lawyer to investigate a break-in at a prominent (read: f---ing rich) family's house. The break-in frames a local construction worker / handyman in such thoroughness that one assumes it has to be a frame job. During the investigation, a series of murders start in the town, with King and Maxwell drawn into the drama.
This book, unlike the last book, has all the characters introduced, including the bad guy. As such, the clues are sufficient (and really, IN ONE'S FACE) that the reader (read: me) can figure out the mystery.
I enjoyed this book, but won't be continuing reading the series. The reviews for the remaining three books in the series are bad enough that I'd rather have the two books as "enjoyed" than other few after that spoils the first two.
I suspect the story of buying this book is more entertaining than my review of the book will be, but that could be because I lived through both.
I bought this book in Sydney when Mom and I went last October. After I had my talk and my workshop at Web Directions, Mom and I spent a couple days exploring Sydney. We went many museums, with one of them having a cute shop. I picked up two children's books in the shop simply because the binding of the books were so good. This was one of them. I love the bindings of this book. It is a beautiful, well constructed, delightful-to-hold book.
So, I was standing in line for this book when a senior couple came into the museum. I had already been standing in line for what I considered a long bit, waiting for the clerk to deal with a register failure and a difficult customer. I was patient, I waited without comment. The senior couple, however, were entitled American asshats, and decided they didn't need to wait. It was THEIR RIGHT to cut in front of the 8 people in line, and USE THEIR MUSEUM COUPON to enter the museum.
So, I flicked them off.
The old asshat guy saw me, and said, "You're evil."
Seriously, you're an entitled asshole, with no consideration for the other people who are patiently standing in line, and you consider a well-deserved bird as evil? Dude, you have serious world-view problems.
I responded, "I'm happy to give you some, too." and gave him the bird again.
Mom was not happy with my reaction.
So, this and the other book sat in my to-read box of books. I pulled it last week to read it. The book was written in 1894. It's the story of a seven kid 1880s Sydney household, ages ranging from 16 to 1, with the dad being a Captain and the current mother the mother of only the youngest kid. The older six kids were from the Captain's first wife. The kids are undisciplined. The new wife only 20 and unable to really curate their education. The book is their adventures for a few months one particular year.
It was an easy, fun read. The ending is sad and satisfying. I am glad I read the book. The thing that got me, though, was the vocabulary in the book. As I look up words I don't understand (and hence, much prefer ebooks these days for the ability to click on a word to look it up), I have to say that I was stumped SO MANY TIMES with this book. I flipped through my browser history to get a list of the words (and definitions).
Behold, the words a 1890s kid was expected to know:
veneration - great respect
slatternly - dirty and untidy, typically of a woman's appearance
pelisse - woman's cloak with armholes
paperchase - action of processing forms or other paperwork, especially when excessive
paddock - small field or enclosure where horses are kept or exercised
iniquitous - grossly unfair and morally wrong
canterbury - a late 18th century low wooden stand with partitions for holding cutlery and plates
mulcted - extract money from someone by fine or taxes, deprive someone of possessions by fraudulent means
ulster - man's long overcoat of rough cloth, usually with a belt at the back
liberality - quality of giving or spending freely
tucker - piece of lace worn around the top of the bodice or as an insert at the front of a low-cut dress
repast - a meal
gowk - awkward or foolish person (often as a term of abuse)
vituperation - bitter abusive language
stolid - (of a person) calm, dependable, and showing little emotion
serge - durable twilled woolen or worsted fabric
musk - relative of the monkey flower that was formerly cultivated for its musky perfume
peccadillo - small, relativesly unimportant offense or sin
neuralgia - intense typically intermittent pain along the course of a nerve, espcially head or face
jonquil - narcissus with clusters of small fagrant yellow flowers and cylindrical leaves
wattle - material for making fences, walls, consisting of rods interlaced with branches
pall - something enveloping a situation with an air of gloom, heaviness, or fear
hack - a horse for ordinary riding
stentorian - (of a person's voice) loud and powerful
provender - animal fodder / food
pater - person's legal father
cambric - lightweight, closely woven white linen or cotton fabric
risible - such as to provoke laughter
cachinnation - to laugh loudly or immoderately
celerity - swiftness of movement
ringbark - to girdle
Most of those words have fallen out of use. Perhaps they were used commonly enough that kids did know those words.
I really thought I had already written this review. A little bit of a surprise to realize I hadn't, to be honest. I will likely find my original review later.
Because my stack of books these days consist of books from Mom and books I haven't finished, that this book came from my Mom stack of books should come as little surprise.
It tells the tale of Sean King, a former Secret Service agent who fell from grace when the presidential candidate he was protecting was killed, and Michelle Maxwell, a current Secret Service agent who is falling from grace when the presidential candidate she was protecting is kidnapped. Oddly enough, the two incidents, while similar, are not directly linked except by the fall from grace.
King is resistant to becoming involved in Maxwell's predicament, as he is dealing with a number of murders in his small town where he has rebuilt his life. He is a suspect in a couple of the deaths, as he knew the victims, so not really up for dealing with Maxwell's issues. She's an ex-Olympian, incredibly messy, smart, experienced agent who really needs to figure things out.
Because of the way the story unfolds, the ending wasn't one I could predict, one of those all the players aren't on the pages sort of thing. I enjoyed the book nonetheless. Enough to try the next book in the series.
After I had read The Power of Vulnerability, I knew immediately that I wanted to read this book by Brené Brown. Pretty much no way I wasn't going to read this one. And there are many overlaps between this book and the Power of Vulnerability. I knew that would be the case coming into the book. Unlike the previous book, which I listened to, I read this book, because I wanted to savor and ponder and stay with the words and thoughts, which is harder to do with audiobooks. That, and really, let's be honest, one can stand only so much El Jefé, before you want a dose of kindness.
Brown's writing is incredibly warm and welcoming. The book reads like a good friend sitting next to you, guiding you along the path to wholeheartedness. There are parts about building shame resilience. There are explanations about how we arrived here, and how we can survive a culture of scarcity.
What I liked most about the book is that while the explanations of shame, vulnerability, and wholeheartedness are great, the "here's how you get more of this into your life" parts are amazing. The book takes the research and turns it from a "that's nice" to a "here is how my world can change."
My plan is to buy a couple dozen copies of Daring Greatly to have available as gifts and help.
Highly, strongly recommend this book.
Okay, after reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and learning a bit about Dominican Republic history, I have to say, I was surprised when The Day of the Jackal also included Trujillo as part of the plot. I began to suspect that the new stack of books from Mom were all going to be connected by El Jefe.
Turns out, I was wrong. She just wanted to read this book, it's been around forever.
Where "forever" is defined as nearly the Unix epoch, or 1971 to be more precise.
This was a spy / mystery / crime / police / modern detective / thriller novel. I don't know exactly which genre it is supposed to be in, I'd shelve it in non-fiction barring any other guidance. It was a fun read, reflecting just how much the world has changed in the intervening 45 years. Much more footwork nearly a half century ago. Much more detective work and thinking, instead of "let's follow his electronic trail, checking out all these cameras, ENHANCE, ENHANCE, oh, just turn on the secret sms messages and we can track where the guy is, wait, he has find my iphone turned on, fine, just turn that on" that we seem to have today.
The plot is the anti-French-president terrorist (sigh, yes, hate the overuse of that word, but it is appropriate here) wants to kill the French President, and hires a professional assassin. Said person does a fantastic job of plotting and planning the assassination. Read the book to see his success. Very much a book of the seventies, it was an entertaining read. I'm more likely to recommend the Jason Bourne books, but this one was still fun.