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Search tags: bl-opoly
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text 2017-09-01 20:27
Thanks MR for my BL-opoly prize!

 

I received the book I won as my booklikes-opoly prize, Life in a Medieval Castle by Joseph Gies & Frances Gies, in the mail and since I also picked up the second book that I had ordered in the set today, I now have all three!

 

Yay! Now I just need to find some time to read them. Oh, and I forgot to pick up Gulp when I went to the library earlier. Perhaps I'll go back.

 

Thanks again MR!

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review 2017-08-14 20:33
The morning fog, every morning
A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in India - Norman Lewis

I read this for the BookLikes-opoly game.  Somewhere back in my blog posts is the history. . . .

 

Anyway, I got the Kindle edition free when Open Road Media was giving stuff away last year, and it fit whatever square it was that I landed on.  So I read it.  I knew nothing about author Norman Lewis, and not a whole lot about India, other than what I've picked up reading a few novels set there -- The Far Pavilions, Shadow of the Moon, The Zemindar, The India Fan, Blood Moon over Bengal and The Moonstone.

 

Lewis sets out in the early 1990s on an exploration of a part of India that the tourists don't see, where the indigenous tribes still live supposedly much the same way they have for centuries.  I was expecting something like Margaret Mead or Bronislaw Malinowski, and I was even prepared to set aside what I expected to be Lewis's racist, colonial point of view in order to enjoy the book.

 

The racism and colonialism are there, but there wasn't much else.  The hotels were bad, the food was bad, the phone service was bad, the roads were bad, and Lewis never got to see any animals.  No tigers, no elephants.  Every morning he and his driver set out in the fog, and there were such lyrical descriptions of the fog, as though some dramatic, evocative narrative was going to unfold.  It never did.

 

Government was intruding on the tribes, tearing down their traditional homes and replacing them with concrete houses.  That's the primary thing I came away with, other than the fog.  Tribe after tribe - I've forgotten their names, which were often similar to each other -- with little in-depth exploration and virtually no personification.

 

Was there a goddess in the stones of the temples he encountered?  Oh, I think so, but I'm not sure.  Not enough of one to be memorable.  The book just didn't live up to the title, or even the cover.

 

I finished it, because I truly wanted to learn.  All I learned was that there was nothing there.  Not even a tiger or an elephant.

 

 

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review 2017-08-12 18:21
Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovksy
Dragonfly Falling - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Series: Shadows of the Apt #2

 

Adrian Tchaikovsky's earlier books aren't quite as good as his later books, but they're still entertaining. This one took me quite a while to get through for a variety of reasons, but in my defence, it's a good 700 pages.

 

This installment brings war to the Lowlands in the form of battles for ant cities and a siege of Collegium. Each city battle doesn't actually take all that long, so I'm not sure they quite qualify as sieges, but I'm not sure what other word would be more appropriate. The plot was interesting and the battles were handled well, but I think the sheer amount of war in this one became a bit of a grind. Part of that was the subplot with Totho, which I wasn't sure I really liked at first.

 

I'll admit that I was starting to doubt whether I really wanted to continue with this series partway through the book because of the aforementioned sensation of the machinery of war just grinding along, but the ending and resolution helped rekindle my interest so I'll definitely slot the next one into my reading schedule at some point. This is most definitely not a series I'd want to read all ten books of at once though.

 

My copy had the newer cover:

 

 

I like it better, so I'm adding it here.

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review 2017-08-02 01:09
Dies the Fire
Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

On March 17, 1998 there was a brilliant flash of light, and afterwards explosives (including gunpowder), internal combustion, and electricity no longer work.  Dies the Fire follows two small bands trying to stay alive during the first months immediately after The Change.  Clan MacKenzie, led by Ren Fair singer and Wiccan High Priestess Juniper MacKenzie, quickly bolts to her cabin in the foothills and settles into a communal kibbutz-like agrarian lifestyle in the Willamette Valley.  Clan Bear, led by ex-marine pilot Mike Havel with his deputies an African American horse trainer and a female live-steel sword fighting veterinarian, develop into a wandering militia as they wend their way from Idaho back to the Willamette.

 

Other reviewers appear to love Dies the Fire or hate it (Reviews are either 1 star or 4 stars).  I do agree that in many way’s Dies the Fire is an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and Renaissance Fair fan’s wet dream – folks who play Middle Ages have an advantage on the fighting and crafting skills to survive.  Similarly, the villain, the so-called Protector of Portland, is a lawful evil stereotype with medieval history background who tries to start a Feudal setup with him as kingpin and the local gangs as levies.

 

The writing is a bit more polished than that of S.M. Stirling’s earlier Nantucket Trilogy, but still descends into detailed inventory and infodump from time to time.  On this re-read, I’m also painfully aware of some of the odd tokenization of certain characters – Will Dutton, Mike Havel’s African American 2nd and his Mexican wife are the primary non-Caucasians except for the Nez Perce.  Is that because there just aren’t many people of color in that part of the world, or it is because Stirling is consciously trying to be diverse? He’s not quite succeeding at avoiding the magical Negro stereotype.  Juniper’s daughter, Eilir is congenitally deaf due to measles but preternaturally good at reading lips and unusually Juniper’s inner circle appear to all be fluent in sign and a potential best friend picks up signing effortlessly.  Is that because Stirling is indulging in building the world he wishes, or because he feels the need to include someone with disabilities and then doesn’t quite make it realistic? And despite these criticisms, of all the post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction I've read, Dies the Fire is the one that haunts me and that I dream about.  

 

The Emberverse, as this series is now known, is up to 13 volumes with the 14th, which follows the grandchildren of the original characters, expected out later in 2017. I read the first few books when they were originally released, but lost interest. I got back into the series because the audiobook is available on Hoopla from my library. Taking the time that an audiobook enforces, I’m more aware of the number of times that certain descriptions and concepts are repeated than I was the first time I read Dies the Fire.  I was talking to my husband about this and we came to the conclusion that S.M. Stirling, much like L.E. Modesitt, comes up with interesting premises and is a reasonable wordsmith but they both have favorite set pieces and conceits that they reach for just a bit too often – they can become their own cliché.

 

I wasn’t impressed with the Tantor Audiobook.  While Todd McLaren had a reasonably pleasant voice, the frequent mispronunciations were annoying and point to a lack of research and sloppy preparation.  (He mispronounces Chuchulian, Samhain, Lunasadh, Athame, céilidh, and ballista, among other things).

 

Audiobook started during #24in48.  Prorated portion of 431 of 1319* minutes or 187 of the 573 page paperback used as my last Free Friday selection for Booklikes-opoly. I finished it up while listening in the car on the way to camp to pick up my son and while sitting with Ozzie last night.

 

*I’d been calculating based on 1380 minutes since the downloaded file said 23 hours, but the book actually finished in 21 hours and 59 minutes

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text 2017-08-01 17:43
Thank You

I wanted to say thank you to Moonlight Reader and Osidian Blue for a fantastic few months playing booklikes-opoly. Thanks, you guys! You're both amazing. Bring on the next game.

 

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