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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-02 19:27
September 2018 — A Wrap-Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 2, 2018.

 

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Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

 

Like the two previous books in this series, this one was hilarious! Pratchett continues to amaze me by dealing with huge issues like gender discrimination in his own unique way:

“I can see you’ve been getting ideas below your station,” said Granny coldly.

 

As always, the humor was exquisite. Consider the following quote:

However, it is primarily a story about a world. Here it comes now. Watch closely, the special effects are quite expensive.

 

And this one:

“You’re wizards!” she screamed. “Bloody well wizz!”

 

I mean who even thinks of what a character would think if they were turned into an old palace. Pratchett, that’s who:

For the first time in her life, she knew what it was like to have balconies.

 

And then there was this one:

The light was misty and actinic, the sort of light to make Steven Spielberg reach for his copyright lawyer.

 

I also learned a new delicious word:

 

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Oh, and the writing was beautiful and witty, which is also characteristic Pratchett:

There should be a word for words that sound like things would sound like if they made a noise, he thought. The word ‘glisten’ does indeed gleam oilily, and if there was ever a word that sounded exactly the way sparks look as they creep across burned paper, or the way lights of cities would creep across the world if the whole of human civilization was crammed into one night, then you couldn’t do better than “coruscate.”

 

Granny was my favorite character. She dealt with sexist snobbish wizards with such aplomb and scolded sense into anyone who dared act crazy! More Pratchett love here.

 

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Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson

 

Okay, okay. So it took Betsy almost ten books to realize how selfish she was. But at least, she owned up to it and then did something about it.

 

The book was funny:

And I was self-aware enough to realize that if I thought someone was being immature, it was time for them to reexamine their life.

 

It also had dark foreshadowing, which will form the plot of the future books. I am confident though if Betsy can survive her evil step-mom, dying, becoming a vampire, ruling over the bloodsuckers, marrying a selfish power hungry vampire and get him to fall in love with her, be sisters with the Devil’s daughter, adopt her own step-brother, prevent an all-out war with the shifters, and take down a villain or two, then she can handle whatever’s coming her way. Right?

 

 

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Time Travelers Strictly Cash by Spider Robinson

 

The good things about this compilation first. It had nuggets like this one:

One of the major agonies of reviewing is that you cannot recall an opinion which later reflection reveals to be fatheaded. There isn’t enough time for anything but snap judgments, and often you end up regretting them, and there’s no practical way to retract them.

 

I’m pretty sure seldom has a reviewer been this honest about their job and its drawbacks. Anyone who goes back and reads their reviews from before will agree with this point of view.

 

Then there were the stories with such beautiful one-liners, which is why I love the Time Travelers series:

And-and funny men are nicer lovers. They know about pain.

 

Not to forget brutal truths thrown in for good measures, like this one:

Of course one of the first concerns of a colonizing country is to properly condition the colonists. To ensure their loyalty. Because a colonist is supposed to give you the things you want to have in exchange for the things you want him to have, and for this golden opportunity he is supposed to be properly grateful. It wouldn’t do for him to get any treasonous ideas about his own destiny, his own goals.

 

Now for the bad part. This book doesn’t just contain the Callahan stories. It includes some reviews written by Robinson, a defense of Robert Heinlein, and other short stories not from the Callahan series. The so-called defense is long and drawn out and full of sexist, homophobic, and other negative comments. I skipped most of it.

 

The Callahan stories included:

 

Fivesight

The title is a play on the word foresight and is a sad but uplifting story about a character whose husband can see a few hours ahead into the future.

 

Dog Day Evening

This is the story of a German Shepherd, Ralph von Wau Wau, and it is exactly Callahan-tastic!

 

Have You Heard The One…?

This story is about a new character who comes to visit the saloon, Al Phee, and reveals the true nature of one of the regulars, Josie Bauer. Another fun one!

 

Mirror / rorriM Off The Wall

This story describes the events that befall Robert Trebor and how Callahan and the narrator, Jake, help him out.

 

The non-Callahan stories were:

 

God is an Iron

It is a story about how a thief and a drug addict save each other.

 

Soul Search

A woman tries to reawaken her mate to life from a cryogenic sleep. Things don’t go so well. The story’s focus is on what could make reincarnation possible

 

Local Champ

This represents Robinson’s rare attempts at writing a fantasy story. It is about a warlock who becomes all-powerful and immortal and how he meets his demise.

 

Serpents’ Teeth

Kid emancipation and parenting are the focus of this story. It was a miss for me.

 

 

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Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

 

Exhaustingly descriptive and maybe dated to some extent. I think if the pages spent by the author describing Manderley were removed, the result would be a fast-paced thriller. I didn’t mind that the author took her time unraveling the secrets surrounding the first wife’s death. It made the story exciting but I did mind when she spent pages and pages telling me about the garden and the rooms of the mansion. How awkwardly the second Mrs. De Winter tries to fill Rebecca’s shoes and her trials were described very well. It made you feel for her while remaining in awestruck by the glamorous creature Rebecca had been. How Rebecca’s nurse mentally tortured the girl and the rambling man by the beach only deepened my enjoyment of the mystery. But when De Winter finally confessed, I wanted to smack him hard. It took him this long to say that? Why did he make his wife suffer so much? The idiot! And when Manderley finally burned now, I was like good riddance!

 

 

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Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon

 

A parody of the Twilight series. It had its laugh out loud moments, not because they were funny. They made me laugh because they accurately described how nonsensical certain things were in the original series. Bella looking after her parents instead of it being the other way around. Her thinking that all the guys were falling for her. I could go on and on, but I won’t…

 

 

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 

If I was to name one pompous, pretentious book that glorified one era and was elitist as shit, I’d probably name this one! The protag is a geek, which made him better than everyone who met him. He is also a Mary Sue. He was singlemindedly solving the riddle when he suddenly just had to fall in love. The girl he fell for was introduced as an independent woman but by the end of the book, she had been successfully Hollywood-ized. There were dei ex machina of all kinds and the last one was obviously the worst. The villain’s character was cardboard thin and just in it for the money. He worked for an organization that was supposedly the worst, right? Then how come he kept failing and they never replaced him? What pissed me off, even more, was the fact that the book was marketed as YA. None of the targeted audience would have even existed in the eighties. Why add all those obscure references? Just to show off how knowledgeable the author is? Then why not write a non-fic about the subject? A quick read if you can ignore the glaring faults with this one!

 

 

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Megalodon & Prehistoric Sharks by Various Authors

 

Fun, informative book that made me thank my stars that I wasn’t born back then! Some of these bloodthirsty giants even counted the land amongst their hunting grounds. Yeesh! Check out some of the hair-raising illustrations below:

 

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Once Upon a Time Machine: Greek Gods and Legends

 

Icarus

A father-son team on a space voyage; guess which one doesn’t survive the trip?

 

Theseus and Metrotaurus

Theseus needs to board a train to meet his beloved. The metrotaurus isn’t having any of it!

 

Pandora

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The Slaying of the Pseudors (Odysseus)

Odysseus returns home to find aliens have taken over and turned his family into pterodactyl-like creatures. The rest, as they say, is history!

 

Footsteps (Hermes)

The divine messenger cannot survive going digital. Or can he?

 

Arachne

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Persephone

An alien heroine tries to convince her mother she loves Hades. A sad ending!

 

Hyperion

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Flying Horse Style (Pegasus)

Why even a chimera isn’t a match for Pegasus!

 

Aphrodite

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Daphne

Even a modern-day Zeus doesn’t know when to give up!

 

Minotaur

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Hades

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Andromeda

Andromeda isn’t going home and Perseus can go hang himself.

 

Eurydice

He tries to bring Eurydice back with a software.

 

The Muses

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Game Changers (Athena and Poseidon)

Game developers try to bring back their creation to order.

 

Away Mission (Actaeon)

A friendship that survives several alien transformations until it doesn’t!

 

The Twelve Labors of Mech-Detective Heracles

She doesn’t know how to give up!

 

Pygmalion

The classic tale, except this time, Galatea returns the favor!

 

A Heavy Stone for all the Peoples (Sisyphus)

A tale as old as time, but with a twist!

 

Eros

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Jason and the Argonauts

Gang wars break out over the golden fleece err jacket.

 

Metal Illiad

Achille’s exploits at the Battle of Troy turned into a comic strip.

 

Cerberus

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Cosmogony (Uranus)

The dominant species always ends up wrecking the world!

 

Ares

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The Long Bow (Telemachus)

Is it set in Ancient Greece or the modern times, who can tell? But Ulysses comes through for his son!

 

Zeus at Large

A comic strip about Zeus’ sexcapades.

 

Riddle of the Sphinx

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I loved all the illustrations and most of the stories in this comic compilation.

 

 

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Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

 

I read this book for the Hispanic Heritage category in Book Bingo. It started off beautifully. The descriptions of how subtly — and not so subtly — different life was on both sides of the border were juicy and well written. I loved reading about the different generations of a family and how circumstances shaped their lives and nature. When the book began, the narrator calls her grandma, the Awful Grandmother. By the end of the book, she drops the awful, and you can see why. What turned me off was how the book dragged on needlessly when it could have been wrapped up at least 100 pages earlier. I realized early that there wouldn’t be a twist and I was right. Still, the story left me wanting.

 

 

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

 

 

I have always wanted to read this book but haven’t been able to woman up for this task. Once I had bought a physical copy, I even picked it up. Got as far as the first page, which sets the tone of the book, and explains that it is going to be epistolary. The book found its way back on my bookshelf and languished there, it did. Until Book Bingo because I am friends with this kooky group of girls. We all have different reading tastes so any attempts at starting a book clubs have met with a failure of the bitchy sort. What we flock towards is Bingo because it allows us to read whatever the heck we want – provided it matches the description of a Bingo square. After several months or so, one of us – usually, this person of ill-repute – wails about Bingo. The rest of us say aye and so it begins like it began this time.

 

I read The Color Purple for my Banned Book square. A perfect choice because it has been banned many times and for various reasons. It is a book that breaks your heart but also reaffirms your faith in familial love. After all, it was the sisters’ love for each other that helped them survive the cruelties of fate. You’d start reading thinking that this book recounts a tale that isn’t unique in any way. You’d be right too if the author hadn’t used clever devices like broken grammar and failed to establish Celie’s voice. Besides the writing, I also liked that Celie didn’t get back with her husband. They remained friends but she had outgrown him, so it seemed right that she didn’t go back.

 

Another thing I liked was that this book showed women behaving like women usually do: being generous and compassionate, raising other women’s kids as their own, leaving home to fulfill their dreams, being stronger than the men, and refusing to give in when it mattered.

 

A few quotes from the book:

If he (God) ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place.

Shug: Why any woman give a shit what people think is a nystrey to me.
Grady:  A woman can’t git a man if peoples talk.
Shug look at me and us giggle. Then us laugh sure nuff.

 

I finished the book in a few hours. It was the perfect length!

 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

 

Two pages into the book and Christopher’s autistic nature made me fall in love with him. We might find his life complicated by certain behavioral quirks. But to him, life was quite straightforward. A particular number of red cars meant a Good Day and yellow ones meant a bad one. He had plans in place for a bad day and he followed them to the letter. What did throw him off were how people said one thing but meant another. Since he couldn’t lie or bluff, he found it difficult to interpret others’ behavior when they did that. It took a lot of work for him to match a person’s expression with past experiences stored in his mental database. An animal’s life held as much value for him as a human’s, which is why he decided to work out who murdered the neighbor’s dog. His parents loved him as best as they could but they were human and lost their temper at times. This book made me realize the importance of patience. The next time I run into someone who isn’t like everybody else, I hope I have the presence of mind and the compassion to exercise some patience and accept them for who they are!

Some Christopher wisdom for us all:

I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you speny all your time thinking about them.

If only we were all this smart, all the time!

 

So, that was my September in a nutshell. How was yours?

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review 2018-01-05 18:49
The House on Mango Street / Sandra Cisneros
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

I started reading The House on Mango Street without really researching anything about it. I could really tell that the author is also a poet—the beauty of the language and the descriptions was stunning. If you are looking for something plot-driven, this is not your book. But if you are willing to savour each chapter/vignette for what it is, you will enjoy this artistic little volume.

Each chapter is like a perfectly cut and polished gemstone, offering the reader a peek into the Chicago of the 1950s and 1960s. What I really related to was the naiveté of Esperanza—at her age, I was similarly clueless about the allure of boys (or what one would actually do with a boy that parents were always worrying about). Despite that lack of knowledge, I struggled against societal expectations, just as Esperanza did. I too watched my mother struggle to express her artistic self, while trying to juggle life as a mother and a wife and I learned the same lesson: support yourself so that you can do the things you need to do in life.

We are also allowed a look into the world of immigrant Mexican families of that time—the strictness of the fathers, the dilapidated housing, the restraint on expectations. The importance of family. The reliance on community.

Esperanza gets her name for a reason—there is Hope that a true artistic life can be achieved. And if this book is any indication, Sandra Cisneros has certainly met those expectations.

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text 2018-01-04 21:33
TBR Thursday
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams - Matthew Walker
The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan
It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree - W.W. Jacobs
Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders

Happy New Year, my Booklikes friends!

 

I have to finish The House on Mango Street tonight so that I can discuss it at book club on Friday evening!  No sweat, I should be able to do that and still have time to work on the next book.

 

The rest of the roster is necessitated by library due dates!  I'm almost done Why We Sleep, so I should be able to wrap it up quickly (without staying up late, this author has me scared to miss my sleep!).  Due in 7 days.

 

The Great Hunt is part of my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project--its a big, thick book and due in 8 days time.  I know how part of my weekend will be spent!

 

It's All Relative is a book that I heard about on CBC radio--the author was being interviewed and since I'm a genealogist, I couldn't resist.  A lot of people in my city seem to listen to the same station and the books mentioned are always popular.  There are 34 people waiting to read this after me!

 

I had a long wait for Lincoln in the Bardo and now I have to get busy and read it.  It's due in 14 days and there are 168 people waiting for it.  No renewals.

 

Starting the New Year off with some interesting stuff!  Hope your January is going well too.

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review 2016-01-04 14:23
Really Sexy Poetry
Loose Woman - Sandra Cisneros

My first read of 2016-- and what a good one! If you know Sandra Cisneros mostly for House on Mango Street, pick up this collection of poetry for all the same literary finesse a more adult flair. These poems are rhythmic, lyrical, and really sexy. That's the best way I have to describe them: really sexy.

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review 2015-11-14 16:49
A House of My Own: Stories From My Life
A House of My Own: Stories from My Life - Sandra Cisneros

A House of My Own: Stories From My Life by Sandra Cisneros is a collection of previously written works pulled together to create a "jigsaw autobiography." The topics range from personal stories to tributes to responses to criticism to social commentary. I read the book as individual, stand alone pieces without an expectation of cohesion or chronology. As is true of any collection, some pieces speak more to me than others.

 

Read my complete review at: Memories From Books - A House of My Own

 

Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2015/11/a-house-of-my-own-stories-from-my-life.html
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