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Search tags: december-2016
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review 2017-01-25 11:10
The Word Unleashed
The Word Unleashed - Steve Rzasa

A great second book in this series. Excellent story and writing. There were numerous formatting errors in my ebook edition (i.e. missing parts of sentences at the beginning of some chapters, etc.) that I found very distracting.

Overall a great Sci-Fi read. Looking forward to reading the next book soon...

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review 2017-01-23 12:07
Expedition to Kangchenjunga...
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

I love stories about climbing expeditions so I try to read as many as I can. This one focuses more on the ghost story aspect versus a lot of climbing details which is still great but if you are looking for a more technical perspective then you probably want to read a true account instead of this.

 

With that said, I enjoyed this story immensely but when it's all said and done, it didn't 'wow' me like I was hoping for. It had all of the ingredients of a good ghost story but I just didn't get that eerie, creepy feeling that I felt like it should have evoked, which is why I only gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

 

 

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review 2017-01-10 16:39
Rivers of London : Body Work Issue #3 / Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London: Body Work - Ben Aaronovitch,Luis Lobo-Guerrero,Lee Sullivan Hill,Andrew Cartmel

The members – all two of them – of London’s most secret police force are on the trail of a self-driving killer car. But it takes something weird to catch something weird and soon they are behind the wheel of… The Most Haunted Car in England!

 

I am the first to admit that I don’t always fully appreciate graphic novels and I will also confess that I prefer the full Aaronovitch novels to the graphic novels, but I still enjoyed my first graphic foray into the London of Peter Grant. I know for a fact that I’ll be buying future installments as they become available in print in Canada.

I think that’s my biggest frustration at this point—if I used an e-reader, I could have all the graphic novels, but here in Canada there are only two paper copy titles available and they are not being produced in order either! How to drive a library worker crazy!

I’m fond of the depiction of Peter—I wasn’t sure at first, but it grew on me. Also liked Beverly Brook. (Particularly the James Bond-ish artwork at the very beginning of this issue, with Peter looking suave and Beverly emerging from the water, reminiscent of Halle Berry in Die Another Day). The best of them all? Toby, the dog! He is exactly the yappy little dog that I had in my head as I read the novels. I’m hoping that Nightingale and Molly grow on me as well. Nightingale needs to look a trifle older in my opinion and Molly needs to look a bit creepier, perhaps somewhat reptilian?

I had time on Boxing Day (before anyone else in the house was awake) to read Body Work two or three times, so I eventually sorted out the story. Did anyone else find that the jumps from present to past were a bit confusing? I’m sure that my lack of experience with the graphic format has something to do with it, but with a bit of study I was able to follow the action.

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review 2017-01-10 16:05
Last Three Novels in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
Dead Reckoning - Charlaine Harris
Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris
Dead Ever After - Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough...

 

Okay, this is where I admit that I binge-read the last 3 books in the Sookie Stackhouse series in two days. Part of me is sad that I did this to myself—concluded a series that I’ve been stretching out and planning to savour for as long as possible. But once I had the final books in my hands, I just couldn’t quit reading!

I can see why others were disappointed with this ending, but to my eye it was foreshadowed from the very first book. What was required was for Sookie to gain some life experience and to learn some hard lessons about life and the motivations of other people. That’s what our twenties and early thirties are for—learning that the way that you were raised isn’t shared by everyone, not even your own family or the community where you grew up. Learning that not everyone who arrives when you have a problem is there to help you. Figuring out what you can live with and what you can’t, who you can trust and who you shouldn’t. Who is supportive of who you are and who will never be?

Sookie couldn’t have ended up in a happy relationship if she didn’t have some problematic ones to compare to. I can say from personal experience that I was much shallower in my salad days and much more impressed by personal appearance in a love interest than perhaps by his values. And I cried my share of tears when the heartless & handsome disappeared out of my life. Nowadays, I appreciate kindness more than a full head of hair, thoughtfulness over a handsome face. But you have to get there! The mating issue is the biggest thing to be dealt with during the second decade of life and we are making important decisions while inexperienced—a recipe for potential disaster.

Basically, this series of 13 books follows the growing up experiences of a naïve but good-hearted young woman. If I have any criticism, it’s that Sookie seems to become more concerned with Christianity during the last few books, something which felt off to me. For the whole series, Harris gives us far too much information about Sookie’s personal hygiene, what she does with her hair, and what she’s making for supper, but she also gives us the angst of those years, the hard experiences, the growing up, and eventually making better choices.

Possibly the best first & last lines of a series—from I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar to I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I belong here. I’m already missing having another Sookie book to read—I hope to re-read them at some point in the future.

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review 2017-01-10 15:57
The Genius of Birds / Jennifer Ackerman
The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman

In The Genius of Birds, acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores the newly discovered brilliance of birds and how it came about. As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research— the distant laboratories of Barbados and New Caledonia, the great tit communities of the United Kingdom and the bowerbird habitats of Australia, the ravaged mid-Atlantic coast after Hurricane Sandy and the warming mountains of central Virginia and the western states—Ackerman not only tells the story of the recently uncovered genius of birds but also delves deeply into the latest findings about the bird brain itself that are revolutionizing our view of what it means to be intelligent.

 

The insult “bird brain” has always bothered me—how exactly is this insulting? I suppose if the only birds you are familiar with are domestic chickens and turkeys, you might think it’s appropriate, but if you’ve ever studied wild birds, you’ll know that it’s completely off the mark. Detailed observation of the domestic fowl might change your mind, too.

Think of the hummingbird—with a brain smaller than a pea, it manages to migrate long distances and maintain detailed mental maps of nectar sources in its territory, knowing when each flower will be refilled with sweet goodness and ready to be drained again! Or think about the Gray Jay, with its multitudinous stored foodstuffs, to be recovered before they have spoiled. Even the lowly pigeon can do amazing things—witness the homing pigeons, used successfully by people to communicate over great distances.

This book, while enjoyable, it not a scientific tome. Much of it consists of anecdotal evidence, which seems self-evident, but hasn’t necessarily been peer reviewed. If you are searching for a definite science textbook on bird intelligence, this book may leave you frustrated, but if you are a bird enthusiast you will enjoy gaining a new appreciation for our feathered neighbours.

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