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review 2018-10-15 03:03
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders

This is in a lot of ways a fun, quirky book, but somehow I managed to not realize going in that it’s ultimately about the effects of catastrophic climate change. So I wound up finding it too depressing, for real-world reasons, to really enjoy.


The book starts with the two protagonists, Patricia and Laurence, as kids, both outcasts at school who happen to be unusually gifted (Patricia with magic and Laurence with science) and who become friends. Usually I don’t have much to say for child characters, but the third of the book following their childhoods was my favorite part of this one. It’s fun and quirky, vividly over-the-top in a Roald Dahl kind of way that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And the pair as kids are fun and relatable.


Then they grow up, and the middle third of the book sags a bit, as the characters meander through a near-future San Francisco without a particular sense of urgency. The characters aren’t especially deep, but they do feel like real, weird people, speaking and thinking like actual millennials; for instance, Laurence worries that he’s not good at active listening, while Patricia is concerned that she’s too self-centered (when she’s not). Then at about the two-thirds mark, we get a chapter straight out of On the Beach, and this became “that horribly depressing book that I have to finish because I’m most of the way there” for the remainder; even when depressing things weren’t actually happening, it was still a climate change book. The ending isn’t a total downer, but only because of

a fantastical solution with no real-world application.

(spoiler show)


And yeah, it’s important that people think about this stuff and take it seriously, but I’ve done that for years with no effect; in the end I’m one person with no particular power to effect change, and exposing myself to this kind of material depresses me without doing anyone any good. Real power is in the hands of corporations and the politicians they fund (supported by a public who will believe any message they want to hear that lets them claim moral high ground while requiring nothing of them). And the powers-that-be don’t care much about anything beyond this quarter’s profits. So, too bad we don’t have the level of magic and science that exist in this book to solve our problems for us, I guess?


God, this was depressing. I would read something else by this author on a different topic though.

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text 2018-09-21 02:19
Free at Tor
All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders

this is free at Tor until September 22 for US and UK. 



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text 2018-09-18 21:35
New free ebook from publisher TOR (U.S. Macmillan)
All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders

Download free ebook from https://ebookclub.tor.com/ ; Nebula award winner.


Publisher page is here for more details.

Source: ebookclub.tor.com
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text 2018-09-06 02:24
Off to Bouchercon tomorrow! But first, totally off topic picture post.

We're off to Bouchercon tomorrow, eagerly anticipating our first (and hopefully not last) book convention.  I'm behind on all my reading as I'd expected, but the upside is I have an insane number of new books acquired, with more expected at the conference.


But is hasn't all been books - there have been at least as many birds and a ridiculous number of bird pictures taken - along with some typical Florida scenery (in my part of Florida anyway).  I've tried to cull the pics to the most interesting - but you should totally skip this post if you're not into other people's holidays.


First, the beach:


and the bay:


The wildlife of the non-feathered variety:


and, the birds - a very select few from the insane amount of pictures I've taken.  Mostly marsh birds.


We'll start with my favorite bird of this trip, the Black-bellied Whistler Duck, which as its name implies, whistles.  Not a quacker, this one - and it like to roost in trees, or power-lines:


They also seem to be open minded in terms of inter-species friendships.  


Something about this shot makes me laugh... like they're the Secret Service of ducks.


Next, a Snowy Egret and a juvenile Black Crowned Night Egret:




And what I think is a Grey Heron, but the white splotch on his wing is confounding me:



While I was sitting at the small pond catching photos of all these birds, I was approached by a friendly, if slightly less photogenic Wood Stork:

I named it Woody.  Because it was 7.30am and it was pre-caffeine.


Probably the coup of the trip so far is a Short-tailed Hawk that struck a pose for me:


and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker (whose belly is, in fact, not red):

I used my camera's remote function to capture this photo at mom's squirrel proof bird feeder.


Squirrel proof you say?  I laugh at your squirrel proofing... nom, nom, nom.


Ok, that's it.  No more vacation photos.  Probably.  Maybe some Bouchercon photos.  Possibly a Key West sunset or something, but I swear, NOTHING as obnoxious as this post.  

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review 2018-06-15 08:57
The Birds & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier

Birds are gathering, in the sea, in the trees, in the countryside and in the cities. Then they begin to attack, murders of crows, swarms of starlings, a gunning down by gulls. Why are birds attacking and what can be done to stop them? A conclave high in the mountains is said to offer immortality but at what price? An apple tree seems to haunt a widower who is not mourning the loss of his wife. A photographer steps out from behind the camera with unforseen consequences for him and his subject, a trip to the cinema takes an unexpected turn and a father discovers that three is a crowd.


The Birds, immortalised in Hitchcock’s legendary film, is the opening story in this short story collection, the theme tying them together being the magical control the natural world can have on human nature.


The Birds is juxtaposed with the final story in the collection, The Old Man, a cleverly told tale of a jealous father who feels that three is definitely a crowd. Both of these were the stand out stories for me.


Unusually for me, there was not one story in this book that I didn’t like. All are strong, well written, enthralling tales. There is a hint of the supernatural in some, a more than hint of malice in all.  The Birds is perhaps one of the most famous of Daphne du Maurier’s stories but the rest are all there on merit too. There is sadness, revenge, madness, love and loss wrapped up in these pages. The reader is left with an unsettled feeling, a hint of unease that needs to be shrugged off.


The art of short story telling is choosing the right words to give a complete story without the reader feeling short-changed. Here the reader feels as if they have been privy to five mini novels, so complete are the stories. The skill here is that du Maurier often leaves lots unsaid. The unease is created by what is not revealed on the page but what is revealed in the reader’s imagination.


A strong, intelligent, immersive, engaging collection. You’ll lift your head up from the book and view the everyday in a new light. And have slightly healthy respect and wariness for the sparrows in your garden.


Highly recommended.

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