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review 2018-05-30 02:47
The beginning of a sweeping epic that came up snake eyes for me.
Sixth Prime - Dan O'Brien

There's a danger that most readers have familiarity with -- a novelist oversharing the details of their worldbuilding so much so that it drags down the story and characters. The opposite danger isn't seen as often -- the writer withholding the details so much that you spend half your time figuring out what's happening, rather than paying attention to characters and plot. It's a tricky balance, no doubt -- and sometimes a novel can overcome an author falling into either ditch. <b>Sixth Prime</b> was not one of those success stories -- for whatever reason, to be careful, to be coy, because he didn't notice -- this book fell into the "not enough information" ditch, and couldn't find its way out of it.


There are a few storylines, somewhat connected -- it becomes somewhat clearer later how they are -- there's a murder investigation conducted by a corporation that supersedes the local authorities' own investigation; a high-ranking military official on trial (and the strange aftermath of that); a jail-break leading to another jail-break on its way to an assassination; a scientific exploration goes awry; and a couple of competing treasure hunters hunt for an artifact. Somehow these all connect to an interstellar war and forces as old as creation itself.


The characters were lifeless, little more than names and job titles -- with just a couple of exceptions. The characters in the murder investigation had promise -- and if this book had just focused on that storyline, this'd be a much different post. At least one of the characters in the treasure hunting story have promise (but the more villainous one was so over-the top that literal mustache twirling wouldn't have seemed out of place).


This entire novel seemed to be a set-up for the coming series -- not a novel that's part of a series. The various stories didn't have endings, there wasn't an overall arc to the novel that I could see -- the stories stopped, or "resolved" by authorial fiat, nothing organic. This is a problem -- I can accept not tying up everything in a tidy little bow, but there needs to be some sort of closure to a novel, some sort of point to that one thing. I'm not sure I'm being entirely fair here -- 1 or two of the stories might actually have had a decent resolution, but by that point, I was out of patience with the entire endeavor. A dynamite ending, or compelling hook could've saved it (I think), but they were nowhere to be found.


Nothing about this really worked for me -- one storyline came close -- but being surrounded by the rest, it never stood much of a chance. A little more restraint, a little more discipline -- maybe a longer book -- I don't know. There's something missing, I'm not sure what it was, really.


<i><b>Disclaimer:</b> I received this novel from the author in exchange for my honest opinion as reflected above. Sorry about that, Mr. O'Brien, but thanks anyway.</i>

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/05/29/sixth-prime-by-dan-obrien-the-beginning-of-a-sweeping-epic-that-came-up-snake-eyes-for-me
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text 2018-05-18 18:07
The Country Girls / Edna O'Brien
The Country Girls - Edna O'Brien

Meet Kate and Baba, two young Irish country girls who have spent their childhood together. As they leave the safety of their convent school in search of life and love in the big city, they struggle to maintain their somewhat tumultuous relationship. Kate, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love, while Baba just wants to experience the life of a single girl. Although they set out to conquer the world together, as their lives take unexpected turns, Kate and Baba must ultimately learn to find their own way.


I have absolutely no idea how to rate this book. Can I say that I enjoyed it? Yes and no. Can I say that I appreciated it? Yes indeed.

It was an important book for its time—published in 1960 and showing an Ireland that doesn’t exist anymore. One where the Catholic Church and patriarchy reigned supreme and women had extremely limited choices. You could get married or become a nun. That was pretty much it, at least for the country girls. Women weren’t admitted to be sexual beings and weren’t supposed to criticize how their society worked.

Edna O’Brien writes beautifully about the naiveté of the two rural girls when they come to the big city. Kate is the artistic, romantic, intellectual girl who has idealistic visions of what life should be like. She wants to discuss literature with her dates and they only value her sexuality. She becomes involved with an older married man from her village because he offers a window into the more sophisticated world that Kate longs for. Baba, on the other hand, is far more earthy—she wants to smoke, drink, and enjoy the company of men. The two women couldn’t be more different from one another, but small communities make for strange friendships. With few people of the right age to choose from, you bond with the most compatible person available and these relationships rarely withstand leaving home.

The poverty, the alcohol problems, the repression of women--The Country Girls reveals them all. No wonder this book was denounced and banned. It was hanging out the dirty linen for the world to look at.

Ireland is a country that is definitely on my “to visit” list. I love reading books which are set there and I will definitely read more of O’Brien’s work.

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review 2018-05-12 17:58
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs. Frisby has to venture out into the rats' bush in order to figure out how to save her son Timothy.

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text 2018-05-10 21:34
TBR Thursday
The Country Girls - Edna O'Brien
Beneath the Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire
The Borrower - Rebecca Makkai
Honor Among Thieves - Ann Aguirre,Rachel Caine
The State of the Art - Iain M. Banks
A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn

Such a good selection of books from my library!


I will finish A Plague of Giants this evening and I'll continue to have Robots Vs. Fairies as my coffee break book.  Then its time to get started on this selection.


I have tomorrow off work--tomorrow is also the beginning of the Calgary Reads Big Book Sale.  I plan to be there when the doors open at 9 a.m. with my wishlist in hand to have first pick.  Photos for Monday!!


Also planning to see a performance of Julius Caesar with my Shakespeare buddy on Saturday evening.


Have a wonderful weekend, my BL friends.

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review 2018-02-06 03:46
Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of the White House - Monika Suteski,Cormac O'Brien

I received this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book! I love history, especially when it comes to topics that are not talked about much. So naturally, this book was right up on my alley.

This edition of the book features profiles of all the First Ladies, including the most recent one, Melania Trump. It gives a short biography about each First Lady and her time in the White House, as well as some fun facts and stories. There are also some fun illustrations (which I loved).

My biggest takeaway from this was that so many of the First Ladies had tragic lives. Many of them were upset and cried when their husbands became president. A lot of them had to endure a bunch of bad stuff (absent husbands, children dying, health problems, long travels, etc.) to help their husbands get to the White House. I had no idea that this was the reality for a majority of them. Their lives were not as glamorous as some may have thought.

Hardly anyone ever talks about the First Ladies (especially the earlier ones) so it was really insightful to learn more about them. They deserve more recognition than they get.

Overall, if you want a fun little history lesson on the First Ladies, then look no further, this book is for you!

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