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review 2018-10-06 13:33
potted history of the Romans
Veni, Vidi, Vici: Everything you ever wanted to know about the Romans but were afraid to ask - Peter Jones

This is a great book to dip in and out of.  All about Rome and the Romans during the Classical period, Peter Jones follows things in a chronological fashion making me want to do more research about some of the things in the tale.  It's a perfect book to dip your toes into Classical History or refresh your mind.

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review 2018-09-30 04:04
The Wild Robot (audiobook) by Peter Brown, narrated by Kate Atwater
The Wild Robot - Peter Brown

The Wild Robot is a Middle Grade sci-fi/survival/talking animal book. I had seen it before and considered getting it, but I have too many books as it is. When I saw that my local public library had added it to their Overdrive audiobook collection, I pounced on it. I believe my checkout included access to accompanying files with illustrations, but I didn't attempt to find and open those files.

The Wild Robot begins with a terrible shipwreck during a hurricane (although the words "climate change" are never used, this is definitely a vision of the near future that includes some of the effects of climate change). The ship's cargo included several robots, only one of which survived the wreck. That robot, Roz, is activated by a group of curious otters. Over the next few months, Roz gradually learns how to survive in the wild and communicate with the animals around her. Can a robot somehow make friends and find a home in such a wild place?

I really enjoyed how this audiobook started. The beginning seemed very much like a robot survival book, as Roz attempted to figure out how to protect herself from the elements and from animals. She was programmed to be nonviolent and was therefore incapable of fighting back against any animals that attacked her. She was also programmed to keep herself clean and shiny, a serious drawback in outdoor survival, where her shininess drew attention to her and prevented her from properly hiding from dangers.

I was a bit disappointed when Roz learned to communicate with animals and this suddenly morphed from an outdoor adventure into a talking animal book. Somehow, Roz's newfound animal communication skills allowed her to talk to all animals she came across in full sentences, and allowed them to talk to her in full sentences. I had some trouble accepting that Roz and a beaver were somehow using beaver language to discuss the specifics of building a lodge. The beaver even suggested that Roz grow a garden with some help from local deer. Meanwhile, I was sitting there wondering how a beaver and deer were supposed to know anything about gardening.

Eventually, I managed to stop thinking of the book's animals as true animals so much and was able to think of them more as talking animals, which helped me enjoy the story more. (I'm guessing that the author really did intend for them to be true animals, based on details later on in the book. But animal communication doesn't work like that, so I'm just going to go with my "talking animals with a few true animal characteristics" interpretation.)

Roz's efforts to find a place for herself and make friends were nice, although the lengths she had to go to before the animals stopped considering her a monster and started considering her a friend occasionally bothered me. I mean, what if she hadn't been able to build all those lodges?

At any rate, I particularly liked her efforts to figure out motherhood after she accidentally became the mother of a gosling. I worried about where Brown planned to go with that. In theory, Roz could outlive Brightbill, her son. If you, like me, worry about fictional animals, I can tell you that

there were a few animal deaths here and there but that, as far as I can remember, none of the animals readers are likely to be most attached to die.

(spoiler show)


I did start to worry that Roz wasn't going to make it, though. It's amazing the amount of damage she sustained in only a few months living in a forest. With no humans around, there was no way for her to acquire new parts or get any kind of maintenance. It was a relief to know that a sequel already existed. If Roz was the main character of that book as well, surely she wouldn't be destroyed at some point in The Wild Robot.

Kate Atwater's narration was wonderful. I liked most of the voices she chose for the various animals, and her robotic Roz voice somehow managed to be appealing. She was accompanied by various sound effects, such as otter squeaks and button clicks, which I thought was nicely done.

All in all, I enjoyed this and will probably read (or listen to) the next book at some point.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-09-30 02:30
Finished!
The Wild Robot - Peter Brown

I just finished this, with three and a half hours to go before it expired.

 

Looking over my remaining Halloween Bingo squares, the only one this could even vaguely qualify for is Fear the Drowning Deep, since it begins with a terrible shipwreck during a hurricane. However, this isn't a mystery, suspense, supernatural, or horror book - the only "mystery" is the question of Roz's origins that crops up once or twice - so it looks like this is going to be going towards my Free square.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-30 00:10
The Curse of Loch Ness
Curse of Loch Ness - Peter Tremayne

I was enjoying this book until the plot decided to completely jump the proverbial shark and include a twist of WTF-ery.

 

I get that this was written in 1979 as a pulp horror book, but there is just never a good time to present me a with a plot that involves this:

 

 

‘But then we heard that a Millbuie had inherited Balmacaan … a Millbuie woman. We have been redeemed in the eyes of the Saurian. Redeemed by your timely appearance. This time we shall be successful.’

Jeannie shrank back on the bed.

‘Successful?’ she whispered, a nameless terror welling within her.

‘Oh yes. Unfortunately the previous attempts to provide a mate for the Saurian have failed. Either the offspring dies or the woman dies. But no matter. We have learnt a lot during the past generations. All will be well this time. Mrs Murdo and Miss Struan will attend the birth.

‘Do not worry. Mating between a human and a Saurian has been done before. In Scottish legend there is an account of it. It is told how another Saurian, who was known as the Great Silkie of Sule Skerry, a superhuman denizen of the great depths, begat a child of a human woman and after the offspring was born, the Silkie came to reclaim it and together they swam off into the sea. But the legend also says that the husband of the woman who had borne the Silkie’s offspring, took bow and arrows and went and shot the Silkie and the creature that was his offspring.’

Jeannie suddenly found herself babbling in her terror. Was she really understanding correctly what this chubby-faced man was saying?

‘What do you mean … ?’ she managed to sob.

‘Why, Miss Millbuie. I am sorry the matter so distresses you. But how can I make it plainer? We have entered the period of the fifth generation since the last offering was made to the Saurian of a mate. And you are the last of the Millbuies, not to mention the fact you are a Millbuie woman. How can you ask such questions after my tedious explanation?’

Jeannie felt a chilling sickness.

‘Tell me, tell me what you mean?’ she gasped hysterically. ‘You are to mate with the Saurian. That is why I have come to tell you to prepare yourself.’

(spoiler show)

 

 

And then we have this:

The intelligence looked hard at the soft white skin of the alien creature and stifled a surge of revulsion; how ugly, how ugly and alien. How weak and puny the body. How unlike the gracious stately calm of a Saurian mate. And yet the alien had the right chemical mix of life by which to perpetuate part of the Saurian being, a being that would be part of its siring and its immortality. Yes, the thing had to be done; for to have lived, to have suffered, to have loved, to have feared, to have cried, to have fought and to have had so much ambition … and then, simply, to pass down into the blackness, into forgetfulness, into oblivion as if it had never existed … how could such a thing be? The ego refused to accept the fate of its kind. The puny white-skinned alien offered hope, at least … What did it matter that other aliens had come before … other aliens, how many times before the intelligence no longer cared; they had been offered and had perished. All attempts to create a new generation of Saurian had failed. The intelligence dismissed that fact. It did not fit in with its hope. This time it would succeed … it would … it would … it would …

 

I read this during the weekend that Brett Kavanaugh was voted onto the SC bench. It was not a great time (not that there ever is one) to read about some dude's imaginings of interspecies rape.

I finished the book but this turn of events pretty much ruined the read for me.

 

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text 2018-09-29 13:31
Reading progress update: I've read 60%.
Curse of Loch Ness - Peter Tremayne

This is gripping.

 

I have no idea what decade this is supposed to be set in but it is eerie and full of suspense. Quite Gothic, too.

 

@Arbie: You might have been right about the interspecies angle.

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