logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: 16-tasks-9
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-10 00:16
24 Festive Tasks: Door 7 - Mawlid, Book
Candy Cane Murder - Leslie Meier,Laura Levine,Joanne Fluke,Suzanne Toren

Well, let's just say that none of these three ladies is anywhere near Donna Andrews's league when it comes to cozy mysteries, plotting, character creation, dialogue, and a writer's craft in general.  And if I thought Joanna Fluke's entry was disappointing (mediocre plotting and dialogue, character responses that felt forced / didn't make sense, and one of my no-go TSTL behavior tropes as the "big reveal" cue (though I have to hand it to Fluke, the setting and overall scene of the final confrontation with the murderer was inspired)), I'm sorry to have to say that Leslie Meier's contribution did even less for me -- you could scratch off the Hallmark sugar coating with a shovel, virtually NONE of the characters' actions and responses bore even the slightest semblance of realism,  and she managed to make 1980s rural Maine come across as more backward than it probably was even in the 1940s and 1950s (while also looking more dripping-with-saccharine-style-homely than any Norman Rockwell picture -- and for the record, I like Norman Rockwell.  Or at least I like his Christmas pictures.)

 

Laura Levine's entry fared a bit better (I'd call it the book's highlight if such a term were appropriate for a muted glow in the midst of two seriously dulled lights); at least she took me right back to L.A. inside my head and the plotting was halfway decent.  But her story seriously suffered from an overabundance of quirky characters, not-very-subtle hints at the MC's padded waistline and her resolutions to do something about it (in which she predictably fails on every single occasion -- and yes, I know this actually is an L.A. thing; been there and would have bought the T-shirt, too, if I'd found it funny then, but the last thing I want is to have this sort of fad jammed up my nose with a sledgehammer in a book) -- and an equal overabundance of wannabe hipster slang and coloquialisms ... everything from repeated exclamations like "ugh!", "oh golly!" and "drat!" to "bet my bottom cupcake" (and yes, even there she goes again with the calorie stuff).  Oh, and the MC's conversations with her cat and said cat's female-Garfield act got old pretty soon as well.

 

Oh well.  If nothing else, this has made me appreciate the consistently high quality of Donna Andrews's writing even more -- I'll happily be returning to her for my cozy contemporary Christmas mysteries (I just hope she'll reliably continue to produce them for the foreseeable future).

 

I may try some of the recipes included in this book eventually, though.

 

Since the audiobook I listened to has a green cover, I'll be using this as my book for the Mawlid square.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-09 23:32
Book for Door 14 Hanukkah - "Binti Home" - love the writing - hate this publishing trend.
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

Let me start with a complaint so I can get it out of my system. I hate this emerging practice in Science Fiction to slice novels up into novellas and drip feed them to us.

I hated it with Murderbot and I hate it with Binti.

 

I was blown away by the first novella, "Binti" It deserved the Nebula and Hugo awards it won. It was a startlingly innovative novella about identity, about us and other, about fear and harmony, about how defining what it means to be alien also defines what it means to be human. "Binti" worked as a standalone, self-contained story.

 

It took two more years for "Binti Home" to reach us and, very disappointingly, it does not work as a self-contained novella. It's a sequel, so it can't be standalone but I did expect it to be self-contained. What I got is the second act in a three-act play.

 

It turns out it's a very good second act in what I'm sure will be an excellent novel but I wish the publishers had had the integrity to wait until the whole book was ready before publishing it. 

 

Ok, complaint over. 

 

There are lots of good things in this middle act of Binti's story.

 

It retains the freshness of the original novella. It doesn't reprise any of the previous action but carries straight on from where "Binti" finished.

 

It keeps the humour as well as the drama of the previous events and uses both to explore being alien. Here's what happens when Binti persuades Okuwu, an alien shaped like a massive jellyfish that moves through air rather than water an is always referred to as "it" to put cover its tentacles with  otjize, a mix of mud and oil that Himba women cover themselves with:

Covering them with so much otjize,Okwu told me, made it feel a little intoxicated.

 

“Everything is . . . happy,” it had said, sounding perplexed about this state.

 

“Good,” I said, grinning. “That way, you won’t be so grumpy when you meet everyone. Khoush like politeness and the Himba expect a sunny disposition.”

 

“ I will wash this off soon,” it said. “It’s not good to feel this pleased with life.”

"Binti Home" explores the issue of self and other from a new angle by following Binti's own physical and spiritual evolution from the Himba tribal girl she thought herself to be into something other and more than that.

 
When Binti returns home to restore her sense of identity as a Himba woman she is instead forced to confront the prejudices that shape her view of her homeworld and prevent her from seeing herself clearly. Binti's skill as a "harmonizer" is tested when she finds that it's her rapidly changing self that she needs to harmonize.
 

The tension builds. Revelations are made. Threats are introduced. Then the novella ends. Well, actually, it just stops.

 

So I'm going to stop as well. I have to go and read the third act, "The Night Masquerade", which I've just downloaded from the Kindle Store for the princely sum of £2.63.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-09 21:57
24 Festive Tasks: Door 15 - St. Nicholas' Day / Sinterklaas, Task 4 (Book Featuring Children Rescued from Peril)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain,Guy Cardwell,John Seelye
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Black Stallion - Walter Farley,Keith Ward
M - Jon J. Muth

I suppose Harry Potter and just about every children's / YA fantasy (or mystery) series would fill this bill, but big HP and Three Investigators fan though I am, let me offer these for consideration instead:

 

1.  Mark Twain: The Adventure of Tom Sawyer -- Tom and Becky Thatcher in McDougal's Cave (rescued thanks to Tom's tenacious search for an exit), and Tom and Huck Finn up against Injun Joe; inter alia, listening to Joe's and his cohorts' plans at the peril of their own death in case they are discovered, and Tom incurring the same risk by speaking up at Injun Joe's trial (after which Joe escapes through a window).

 

2.  Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden -- At the beginning of the book, Mary is sent to England to stay with her uncle to save her from the cholera epidemic that will shortly thereafter kill both of her parents, who have remained in India.

 

3.  Walter Farley: The Black Stallion -- Alec and "The Black" become friends when they help each other to survive on a desert island after being shipwrecked.

 

Honorable mention:

 

"M" (screenplay, not book): A chillingly creepy 1930s movie,  concerning the hunt for a pedophile serial killer -- starring Peter Lorre (pre-Hollywood) as the pedophile and directed by Fritz Lang.

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-09 16:24
24 Festive Tasks: Update 1
Milkman - Anna Burns

I've decided to jump aboard and join in with the 24 festive tasks game. My first book will be The Milkman by Anna Burns, which I'll be reading for the Guy Fawkes square. It's set in the U.K as Northern Ireland is officially part of Britain and it also involves a revolution of a kind.

 

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-09 15:55
24 Festive Tasks Update #5

task 5.001

 

I've completed three tasks since my last update. I know they only just fit within the bounds of the task descriptions but I enjoyed coming up with a sideways view when my own experience wasn't a direct fit.

 

dear santa.001Door 15 Task 1: My first ever letter to Santa let me fantasise about the books I'd most like to read, if only Santa could arrange to have them written.

 

 

 

 

 

Carpe DMs.001Door 11 Russian Mother's Day Task 3: Why I wear boots and "Carpe DMs" was fun and got me to look more deeply at a poet I'd heard of but not read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

People-prefer-not-taking-riskMiracle Blind? - Hanukkah task 1 is my atheistic take on miracles and cognitive bias - yeah, how's that for seasonal spirit?

 

 

 

 

 

I've completed two books, one excellent, the other entertaining:

 

On-Turpentine-Lane-600x906In the Bleak TP "On Turpentine Lane" was a light romance that was entertaining once I let myself accept it on its own terms and stopped looking for something deeper.

 

"In The Bleak Midwinter" was an excellent start to a crime series set in New York State and featuring a small town Police Chief and a newly appointed female Priest.

 

 

 

My Festive Bookshelf continues to blossom. I'll read these even if the challenge times out first.

 

books 5.001

 

I'm part way through three very different types of books at the moment:

 

The-Devil_s-Apprentice_l"The Devil's Apprentice" is the first book in a Young Adult series from Denmark that takes an original, dryly amusing look at Hell, the Devil and the nature of good and evil.

 

It's an easy, fun read that built around some challenging ideas. As it's the first in a series, it qualifies as my St Andrew's Day book.

 

 

 

 

51mG8MdFIJL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_"Home" is the second book of the Binti trilogy of novellas that tell the story of an African young woman who is a math genius and who becomes the first woman of her tribe to leave Earth.

 

The second novella tells of her return home after a series of traumatic events. As it's the second book in a series, it qualifies as my Hanukkah book.

 

 

 

519zOii-1RL._SL300_"Somewhere Inside Of Happy" starts with Maisie Brennan standing on a podium on the twentieth anniversary of the death of her son, trying to find the first breath that will help her start talking to a room full of strangers. As her talk begins we move back to Ireland on the first of January 1995 and watch as events unfold around Maisie and her family.

 

This is a beautifully written book that I'm sure will have as many tears as it has smiles. As it's mainly told from Maisie's point of view or that of her own mother, it qualifies as my Russian Mother's Day book.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?