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Search tags: Ann-Leckie
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review 2018-04-02 16:33
Leckie conveys the experience of war with authenticity
Helmet for My Pillow - Robert Leckie

I first learned of this book when I read that it was being used as one of the sources for a new miniseries about the Pacific theater in the Second World War.  Having enjoyed the other source material being used, E. B. Sledge’s superb memoir, With the Old Breed, I decided to track down a copy of Leckie’s account and read it for myself.  Because of this, I found myself comparing the two works as I read it, which influenced my overall opinion of the book.


In many ways, the experiences of the two men were similar.  Both were civilians prior to the Second World War; Leckie enlisted in the Marines a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  His account of basic training feels incredibly authentic, in part because of his attention to details.  Leckie captures much of the mundane minutiae of learning how to be a Marine, from the bureaucratic experience of inoculation to the quest for a good time on leave.  This sense of authenticity continues as he describes his deployment to Guadalcanal with the First Marine Division and his engagement with the war there.  These experiences form the best part of the book, as his initial encounter with life as a Marine in both training and war reflect his interest in the novelty of it all.


From Guadalcanal, Leckie’s unit was returned to Australia for rest and refitting.  This transformation into what he calls a “lotus-eater” also bears a real sense of verisimilitude, as unlike many memoirs of war he does not gloss over the search for release that often characterized breaks from the battles.  It is here, though, that his account flags a little, and his return to combat in New Britain as part of Operation Cartwheel was perhaps the least interesting part of the book.  The book improves with his subsequent experiences in the hospital in Banika and his final, abbreviated deployment to Peleliu, which ended with his injury and return to the States for the duration of the war.


Reading this book, it is easy to see why it stands out as an account of the Second World War.  Leckie’s prose brings alive both the mundane routines of service and the violence of combat.  It is when he is between the two that the book suffers, as his efforts at evocative prose about his surroundings in the jungle suffer from being a little overwrought, particularly in comparison to Sledge’s plainer, more straightforward descriptions.  Yet both need to be read for a fascinating portrait of what the war was like for the “new boots” who gave up their lives as civilians to fight in the humid jungles and barren islands of the Pacific.

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review 2018-03-02 00:01
Review(?): Provenance
Provenance - Ann Leckie

I only made it 3 chapters. At that point, I asked a couple of friends some pointed questions because it seemed like this might not be my kind of things. Based on their answers, yeah, not going to be my kind of thing. "If you liked Goblin Emperor, you'll like this" being one of the deciding factors. "There are maybe 2 characters you won't hate" being another.


In part, that's an issue of expectations. The jacket copy promises an ambitious woman scheming, and that isn't at all the hesitant, ill-informed woman just hoping to do well enough to not be cast aside introduced. The first three chapters set the stage for manners fantasy (is manners scifi a genre?) with bureaucratic shenanigans. It has a decent sense of humor and the prose is solid, but manners fantasy is not my thing, and throwing in a heist isn't going to make it my thing.


2018 has so far been a hell of a year for me picking up the wrong damn book.

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review 2018-03-01 19:55
Could Not Get Into Narrative Style-DNF at 50 Percent
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie

I have been getting yelled at to read this book for years. I tried, really, but I just could not get into this. I finally decided to throw in the white towel and call it a DNF.


I was told that the book gets better, but I am not in the mood to suffer through trying to get to better. At 50 percent my major issues were that the world-building was not working for me, I could not get into the characters, and the writing was causing me keep mumbling to myself "what?!" and not in a good way.


I think the fact that the book is told through two separate POV/timelines is what through me off the most. I started having flashbacks to "The Girl Before" and am going to just beg authors to stop doing this mess. It's a gimmick that most often does not play out very well unless the two people have really distinct separate voices. For me the of Breq was not doing enough for me to care one way or the other. 


The writing was hard to get past for me:


"I turned to look at her, to study her face. She was taller than most Nilters, but fat and pale as any of them."

What the hell is a Nilters. Why does this book keep introducing things and act like I should already know what it is?


"She out-bulked me, but I was taller, and I was also considerably stronger than I looked. She didn’t realize what she was playing with. She was probably male, to judge from the angular mazelike patterns quilting her shirt."


"She’d taken kef, I guessed. Most people will tell you that kef suppresses emotion, which it does, but that’s not all it does. There was a time when I could have explained exactly what kef does, and how, but I’m not what I once was. As far as I knew, people took kef so they could stop feeling something. Or because they believed that, emotions out of the way, supreme rationality would result, utter logic, true enlightenment. But it doesn’t work that way."


I swear most of this book reminds me of the time my friends and I went drinking in the woods and were having huge thoughts about space, stars, and aliens. And of course I was sober the next day and realized we were all talking out of our ass.


The flow was awful. It took me forever it felt like to just get up to 10 pages. I had to keep re-reading so much of the paragraphs before I would end up with 10 different questions when I would finish one sentence. 


There are two other books in this series, and obviously based on this review I am not going to go forward with reading them.  

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text 2018-02-01 19:53
Latest re-listen finished
Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie,Adjoa Andoh

Nothing much new that I can say about it. I still love Mercy of Kalr and the enormous mess that is Tisarwat. And Seivarden, although she's really not in this one much. I really like Adjoa Andoh as Breq, even though there are times when she puts more emotion into Breq's lines than the text itself says should be there. That's pretty much it.


Now, time to pick my next audiobook. I don't think I'm going to re-listen to Ancillary Mercy next, unless none of the other stuff in my collection appeals to me.

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text 2018-01-29 20:21
Relistening: 5 hours and 56 minutes in (a little over halfway)
Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie,Adjoa Andoh

Time for the funeral/fasting, my least favorite part of the book. On the plus side, I generally like Adjoa Andoh's voice (in this book, pretty much everything but her voices for Raughd, Fosyf, and Dlique). That makes this especially slow part a little better. Still, I can't wait for Breq to get back to the station.

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