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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-06 10:25
June 2017 — A Wrap-Up

 

 

 

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I dunno how she does it but I never come away from an Agatha Christie novel without enjoying it to the fullest! This one wasn’t an exception even when it was full of racist and sexist characters. I am also happy that I read this one finally and so close to the release of the new movie too!

A favorite funny quote from the book is mentioned below. It shows the circuitutitous way Poirot thinks:

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It was interesting to see the term, pukka sahib, being used in the book. Even though the person who used it, Colonel Arbuthnot, meant it in a different way i.e. the first meaning in the picture below. Poirot got down to the real meaning really quickly i.e. the second meaning of the word:

 

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I was worried that the sequel won’t suck me in as the first book had managed to do. I worried for naught; this book was as much fun and scary as the previous one. One thing that I both love and hate about this book is that Cas doesn’t sound like a teenage boy all the time. In places, he uses such poetic words about Anna. I also loved the gory decriptions that the author uses for when Anna shows up to show Cas how she is suffering.  This part from the book showcases both the gore and the poetic prose:

 

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Cas’s humor is another thing that I have alays had fun reading. Check out this example:

 

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There are two ways you could look at this series. You can consider the elements typical to most PNR novels and label it as one. Or, you could look at the humor and the cool references to tv shows and movies and love the series for its wittiness. I chose the latter, which is why I enjoyed reading these books! Here are my favorite parts from the last (so far) book:

 

 
 
Since the guy is known as the Lord of the Ravens, the excerpt below becomes funnier while seeming legit:
 

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The October Faction series is based on a family of monster hunters. The parents who have now retired did their best to hide their past from their kids. However, old enemies kept making that difficult. What I love about this series is how dark and gory it is. The artist doesn’t picture perfect characters and their flaws make them feel more real to me!

 

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While I am equally grossed out and intrigued by the television series, the novel itself had failed to make an impression on me. The graphic novels seem to be going down the same windpipe. The only positive thing I have to say about them is that they stay true to the book. Surprisingly, as I had expected, the art isn’t to die for. It could be that the tv series and its amazing cast has me spoiled. I mean, look at the graphic novel version of Mr. Wednesday!

 

 

 

Saga’s art is so beautiful that it hurts. This series draws you in and forces you to care for its characters! I am also including the covers of two of the single issues. Feast your eyes on their beauty:

 

 

 

 

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Ender’s Image

 

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Some of my favorites quotes:

 

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This quote paints an accurate picture of sustainable methods and their importance in everything that we do! Hunting animals to extinction, deforestation to the point of clearing forests after forests…Only this time, we will all be paying the price!

 

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I loved how “human” Jane was without being a human being. In this quote, her sarcasm comes out beautifully, which is probably as human as it gets!

 

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This elitist attitude has always been the source of our troubles and led to colonialism destroying the national identities of many a people. These words were said by Jane who starts to seem more and more deeply insightful by the minute.

 

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I have mixed feelings about this one. The story seems to make Ender seem like an omniscient deity at times. He might be good at reading people but no one is that good!

 

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This quote is from a part of the book where one of the kids rebelliously pees on Ender when he wouldn’t free the kid. This is how he responds to the incident; it shows how humor is threaded through an otherwise serious book.

 

Look at the exampe below, as well. It talks about religious leaders belonging to a branch of religion that is separate from the religion of the state. Gems such as this one were interspersed throughout the story and made me chuckle every time.

 

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This quote highlights how different two groups of people can be in their beliefs about death and everything else. Leaf-Eater’s people were planted after they died and turned into trees; benefitting the living even after death.

 

For wrap-ups of the previous months, go here.

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text 2017-06-29 09:51
Goods insights into two important aspects of writing fiction.
Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) - Orson Scott Card

There's nothing new in books about writing fiction, only on how they're presented.

 

Some are written by academics and you need to be one to understand them. Others are written by authors who use them as a means of self-aggrandizement constantly quoting examples from their own work. These may not necessarily be good examples of what they're trying to demonstrate, but they're not about to let an opportunity to promote their work slip by.

 

In Characters and Viewpoint, author Orson Scott Card uses straight forward prose and not a lot of examples from his own work and gives good insight into these two important aspects of writing fiction.

 

This is a solid book about what is stated in the title.

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text 2017-05-01 15:07
Prentice Alvin / Orson Scott Card
Prentice Alvin - Orson Scott Card

The Tales of Alvin Maker series continues in volume three, Prentice Alvin. Young Alvin returns to the town of his birth, and begins his apprenticeship with Makepeace Smith, committing seven years of his life in exchange for the skills and knowledge of a blacksmith. But Alvin must also learn to control and use his own talent, that of a Maker, else his destiny will be unfulfilled.

 

This has to be one of the oddest fantasy series that I have ever read. O.S. Card gives early American history his own strange, imaginative torque. Cross Pilgrim’s Progress with the Belgariad, add in a dash of chemistry, alchemy, and magic, and you get this weird combination of the chosen one quest tale and religious allegory.

Alvin is definitely a “chosen one” with characteristics of Jesus and Joseph Smith both. His quest is to become a Maker, kind of an apprentice creator to God. Like the protagonists in most quest tales, he must learn to control himself as well as to control his talent. He is up against the Unmaker, the Satan stand-in for this series, which reminds me strongly of Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry series.

The last volume dealt with race relations between settlers and Native Americans, which leaned heavily on the Noble Savage concept of the 19th century. This volume explores the relationship between white owners and black slaves. Both of these volumes leave me wondering what exactly Card is trying to accomplish in this regard—whatever it is, I didn’t get it.

Book 255 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-01-07 09:40
Piąty tom Sagi Cienia, czy jedenasty Sagi Endera?
Ucieczka cienia - Orson Scott Card

Przyznam się, że Ucieczka Cienia jest czymś zupełnie innym, niż się spodziewałem. Po tylu latach od wydania Cienia Olbrzyma oczekiwania miałem całkiem spore, szczególnie że bardzo lubię całą Sagę Cienia, i może dla wielu zabrzmi to jak bluźnierstwo, ale lubię tę sagę bardziej, niż oryginalną Sagę Endera nawet. Losy Groszka i Petera Wiggina zwanego Hegemonem interesowały mnie na przestrzeni lat o wiele bardziej niż filozoficzne historie składające się na dalsze przygody samego Endera. Dlatego też Ucieczka Cienia stanowi dla mnie pewne rozczarowanie, bowiem jest kompletnym odejściem od dynamicznie opowiadanych historii, jakie charakteryzowały tomy o Groszku i przejściem do dywagacji o nauce, Formidach, Królowych Kopca i ksenocydzie, czyli właśnie tematyki znanej z Mówcy Umarłych.

 

Poprzedni tom zakończył się odlotem Groszka wraz z potomstwem w kosmos i rozpoczęcie podróży z prędkością bliską prędkości światła. Celem tego wydarzenia była możliwość zyskania czasu (przez jego relatywizm) na badania nad śmiertelną chorobą Groszka i jego dzieci - antonizmem. Gigantyzm Groszka powoduje, że bohater już nie potrafi się ruszać, żyje w grawitacji bliskiej zeru ze względu na serce. Jego niebywale inteligentne dzieci natomiast próbują odnaleźć rozwiązanie problemu, jeśli już nie dla ojca, to chociaż dla siebie.

 

Choć początek powieści obiecuje interesujące zagadnienia dotyczące inteligencji człowieka, jej jakości - coś, co Card tak rewelacyjnie potrafi pisać, szybko okazuje się, że niestety akcja zmierza w zupełnie innym kierunku. Wspomnianym już przeze mnie na początku kierunku szeroko rozumianej filozofii, pragnieniu poznania Obcych, zrozumienia ich. Początkowe podniecenie wywołane komentarzami jednego z potomków, czyli dywagacje na temat narodzin nowej rasy i sposobów na jej przetrwanie a nawet rozkwit błyskawicznie stają się niczym w obliczu powrotu do znanych nam wszystkim Formidów i ich kolonizacji kosmosu.

 

To bardzo krótka powieść, dosłownie na jedno popołudnie; wskaźnik procentowy w czytniku z każdym obrotem strony przeskakiwał mocno do przodu, i powiem szczerze, że Ucieczka Cienia o wiele bardziej przypomina rozbudowane opowiadanie, niż pełnoprawny tom cyklu znanego z dynamiki opowiadanej historii. Jednak może dzięki swej długości książka zdołała się obronić - niby czuję rozczarowanie, chciałem więcej, chciałem inaczej, ja naprawdę jestem ogromnym fanem Groszka, chciałem czegoś epickiego, ale z drugiej strony muszę przyznać, że to, co otrzymałem całkiem nieźle się broni. Ucieczka nie całkiem pasuje do poprzednich tomów Sagi Cienia, ale doskonale wpisuje się w całokształt historii o konflikcie ludzi z Formidami, stanowiąc przyzwoicie zaprojektowany łącznik między Groszkiem i Enderem, zupełnie jak ostatni (póki co) tom o samym Enderze, czyli Ender na wygnaniu. Myślę, że obie te książki zostały tak zaplanowane, bo autor szykuje nam coś mocniejszego w tej przedstawianej od ponad trzydziestu lat historii. I znając go, będzie to coś niezwykłego.

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review 2016-11-05 14:14
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

So I finally got round to reading this. I think it's been around for a while (1985?) and some of the concepts aren't really the kind of thing you'd get for Young Adult. I found this incredible. Training a child from a very young age to fight against these aliens who wiped out billions of people from nearly a decade ago.

 

The bulk of the book focuses on the main character, Ender, who joins the Battle School and has to fight through "games" which, in one sense are just play-fighting for the other children in the Battle School - but in another, very real sense, are linked to the strategy of fighting the aliens in reality. Plus, everyone takes it very seriously.

 

I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. As Ender improves, he goes up from team to the next until eventually...it's for real.

 

But here's one thing I don't get. He's six years old?

 

And by the end of the book he's 11? And killed billions of enemies? He's become a battle-hardened commander? He's probably become really traumatised and messed up inside. Does this count as child abuse? I'm not sure. Child soldiers, certainly...

 

His brother and sister are a few years older than him and are talking about mature topics and politics and all these other very "adult" concepts and...it just doesn't feel right.

 

I...just don't get it. None of the children act like their age. They act like they're 20 years older than that! (Maybe ten, if they're ultra mature.) They demonstrate all these ridiculous understandings of technology, fighting skills, strategies, as if it's nothing at all. I can't even begin to wrap my head around this.

 

Also, the n-word is used. Once, I believe. Just in case anyone's sensitive about it, but this was written over 30 years ago.

 

I did enjoy the characters - some of them, anyway. They just didn't feel like they really were children at all? It's like they'd been brainwashed and engineered from a really early age and it just felt weird.

 

But with all that aside it was an impressive book. Just bear in mind that it wasn't written in this generation, it's probably not for everyone with all the concepts it brings to light, and I still can't get over the fact of six-year olds killing each other with their bare hands.

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