logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: completed
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-10-06 03:02
Review: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently Book 2 of 2)
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul - Douglas Adams

I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.  It started off interesting, but for some reason I became progressively less interested as the story continued and I put the book down more and more frequently.  I also didn’t find it as funny.  It had humor, but it didn’t make me laugh as much.  I think it intentionally took a more serious tone, which I might have appreciated better if I’d been more interested in the story.

 

The first book had a mixture of elements from both science fiction and fantasy, but I thought it leaned more toward science fiction.  This book, on the other hand, was purely in the fantasy category with Norse gods playing a large role in the story.  In many ways this reminded me of American Gods, at least in terms of the basic premise, except without the “American” part.  This book was published first, so maybe I would feel differently if I had read it first, but I preferred American Gods.

 

I’m not really sure why this one didn’t work as well for me as Dirk Gently did but, by the end, I was happy to be done with it.

 

Next Book

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders.  I don’t know anything about this story, but I’ve seen it reviewed quite a bit in recent months and I’ve skimmed those reviews for general impressions.  My general impression of other people’s general impressions is that a lot of people hate it and a lot of people love it, so it will be interesting to see where I end up.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-10-01 14:57
Review: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently Book 1 of 2)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams

I liked this a lot more than I expected to.  I had read the author’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about 20 years ago and, while I remember finding it mildly amusing and clever at times, I also found it too unrealistically silly to take seriously and didn’t much care for it.  My memory of that book is too fuzzy for me to say if this book is significantly different in style, or if I’ve just become more tolerant of the type of humor.  I do think Pratchett’s Discworld series taught me how to enjoy silly books now and then.

 

I really didn’t find this book overly silly, though.  It was very funny and I giggled madly through quite a bit of it, but the humor mostly felt like an integral part of the story.  In the past, I've had more trouble when the story just feels like a vehicle for the humor.  The electric monk was the only part I considered to be completely absurd, but he was funny so I forgave him. :)

 

This is a science fiction story, set mostly in the present day on our world at around the time it was published in 1987.  A computer programmer named Richard seems to be having a lot of strange things happen lately.  There’s a couch stuck in the stairwell to his flat that nobody can figure out how to move up or down, he has an odd visit with a former university counselor, and a rather shocking experience while he’s driving, and so on.  If I attempt to give any more detail than that, I think it would spoil the story. 

 

There are a lot of different elements packed into a fairly short book, but it was all coherent and easy to follow for the most part.  I did think the resolution was very fuzzy.  I understood the gist of it, but I think it was stretching things a little and failed to take into account other possibilities.  Overall though, I enjoyed the book and I loved the humor.

 

Next Book

I have the above book in an omnibus which includes the sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, so I’m moving on to that next.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-24 04:12
Review: In the Cities of Coin and Spice (The Orphan's Tales Book 2 of 2)
In the Cities of Coin and Spice (The Orphan's Tales, #2) - Catherynne M. Valente

In the Cities of Coin and Spice is the sequel to In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente.  The books share the same structure, with stories nested inside of stories, up to seven levels including the framing story.  As for that framing story, it continues in this book and finally gets a satisfying conclusion.

 

I enjoyed this one as much as the first one.  The format has lost its newness factor, though; at this point it feels perfectly normal.  It also didn’t seem quite as complexly structured as the first book, but maybe that’s just because I was so used to it.  It seemed like the stories were more concentrated in a couple layers.  As before, the stories were interconnected.  There were also a <i>lot</i> of ties back to the first book, some obvious and some more subtle.

 

The stories themselves were darker than in the first book, especially in the first half, and I think I liked them a bit better.  I did still occasionally lose interest in some parts, but not too much.  The author wove everything together from both books in a satisfying and intricate way.  I suspect a reader would enjoy the series as much if not more on a re-read, because the conclusion sheds new light on everything that happened before.

 

This was my first time reading anything by Valente, and I was impressed.  I’ll likely try more of her work in the future.

 

Next Book

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  I don’t know anything about this book, but I vaguely remember seeing comments that left me with the impression it would be pretty dark and/or bleak.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-17 23:30
Review: In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales Book 1 of 2)
In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1) - Catherynne M. Valente

I thought this was a very clever and unique book.  At least, I’ve never read anything like it.  It tells a lot of stories, I couldn’t say how many, but definitely more than a dozen.  However, this is not an anthology.  It’s layer upon layer upon layer of related stories nested inside each other. 

 

The framing story is about a lonely girl who people shun because they believe she’s a demon.  A curious boy approaches her and, over the course of a few days, she tells him two stories.  Each of the two stories takes up about half of the book.  Within each story, some of the characters tell other stories.  Within those stories, somebody tells another story.  These stories often tell the backstory of a particular character, so you’re sort of gaining more and more history, going backwards in time as you go forward in the book.  Periodically, the book returns to the higher layers to continue those stories, and then it possibly goes back into the same lower layers to finish incomplete stories there, or else it starts a new inner story with a new set of layers.  Some of the different branches were only moderately related, but there were lots of little connections here and there which were fun to watch for.

 

Sound confusing?  It really wasn’t.  The first main story never went more than 5 layers deep.  The second main story went up to 7 layers deep a couple times.  When I first realized the structure of the book, I was a little worried that I would get confused, so I started checking myself each time the story went into a deeper layer, recounting to myself the steps that had led there.  I was always able to do so quickly and without confusion, and I think that process helped me keep it all straight in my head.  I could see where some people might find this book disorienting, though.  For me, it may have helped that this type of thought process is part of my day job as a programmer; I kept making comparisons to it while I was reading.  Reading this was kind of like keeping track of the call stack while reading or debugging a program as it progresses forward and backward through layers of subroutines. 

 

The stories all borrow heavily from fairy tales.  This was especially noticeable to me since I had read through The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales earlier this year.  It really isn’t a retelling of any of those stories, but there were lots of little nods, sometimes with similarities and sometimes with twists, and with the tiniest hint of satire.  Unlike many of the Grimm’s tales, however, this book was internally consistent, the characters’ actions made sense, and it never felt silly. 

 

I do still have a little bit of Fairy Tale Fatigue from the Grimm’s book though, so that might have impacted my enjoyment of some of the stories.  Some layers were more interesting than others, so the book didn’t always hold my interest, which is the main reason I’m not rating it higher.

 

Next Book

In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente, the sequel to this book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-04 13:08
Review: The Urth of the New Sun (The Book of the New Sun Book 5 of 5)
The Urth of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe

This was the last book in the series The Book of the New Sun.  For the most part, I really liked it, and I might even have rated it higher than the four stars I’ve consistently given the other books in this series.  However, I thought it went off the rails a bit toward the end.

 

It gave me the answers I was looking for in terms of what happened after the end of the fourth book, and I enjoyed the story it told.  Then, without giving anything away, it shed new light on many of the events from those first four books, and gave more meaning to them, and I also really enjoyed that.  Some things were spelled out, but others were quite a bit more subtle, and I enjoyed catching the various references.

 

My problem was that I thought the author went too far with it by the end.  Just as I was admiring the cleverness, he took things a few steps further.  I felt like, in an attempt to keep things twisty and complicated, he robbed it of some of the meaningfulness.  Kind of like a cook who can’t stop tweaking his recipe until it doesn’t taste quite right anymore, or a painter who keeps adding “just a bit more” to his design until it’s no longer quite as pleasing to the eye.

 

A smaller complaint I had with the series in general is that, since the story centers around Severian, there are some characters who play a large role in the series but for whom we don’t get much closure because their paths diverge.  There was one character in particular that I really wanted more follow-up on, especially considering how often he was remembered and referenced in Severian’s narrative.

 

Over all, though, I enjoyed this series quite a lot.  I liked that it wasn’t simple or straight forward, and I liked its unique (in my experience) blend of some of the best elements from both science fiction and fantasy.  For now, there are many other authors and books I’m interested in trying, but I’d like to cycle back around to give Wolfe another try sometime down the road.

 

Next Book

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.  This will be my first time reading Heinlein and I’m not too sure what to expect.  I have a variety of nebulous impressions based on comments I’ve seen here and there, but now it’s time to find out for myself.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?