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review 2018-12-10 19:37
Small Gods / Terry Pratchett
Small gods - Terry Pratchett

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was: 'Hey, you!' This is the Discworld, after all, and religion is a controversial business. Everyone has their own opinion, and indeed their own gods, of every shape and size, and all elbowing for space at the top. In such a competitive environment, shape and size can be pretty crucial to make one's presence felt. So it's certainly not helpful to be reduced to appearing in the form of a tortoise, a manifestation far below god-like status in anyone's book.

In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast: for the Great God Om, Brutha the novice is the Chosen One – or at least the only One available. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love. He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please...

 

The captain frowned. “It’s a funny thing,” he said, “but why is it that the heathens and barbarians seem to have the best places to go when they die?”
“A bit of a poser, that,” agreed the mate. “I s’pose it makes up for ‘em….enjoying theselves all the time they’re alive, too?” He looked puzzled. Now that he was dead, the whole thing sounded suspicious.


Dare I admit that this is my very first encounter with the writing of Terry Pratchett? I’ve seen the praise of his work from my friends and acquaintances and have been meaning to get to him sooner or later, so I’m glad that my reading project got me started.

Wow, Pratchett is an excellent writer, able to keep many balls in the air while still being humourous. This is very definitely a critique of organized religion of the modern sort, dressed up in the clothing of the Greco-Roman period. He makes good use of the early Christian idea that heathen gods ceased to exist as their worshippers drifted away. Also the notion that those best qualified to lead are the least likely to seek leadership positions. Plus, he plays with the tortoise/turtle mythology that is common to so many cultures. Very skillful.

Book number 303 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-12-10 19:08
The Towers of the Sunset / L.E. Modesitt
The Towers of the Sunset - L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Tells the story of Creslin, son of a powerful military matriarch, who chooses exile rather than an arranged marriage. He sets out on a search for his true identity as a man, developing his magical talents through constant conflict with the enigmatic white wizards of Candar.

 

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, with the male/female role reversal. The young man, Creslin, who is kept in seclusion to be pure for marriage, the reluctance to teach him fighting skills because he will have women to defend him, his major life role to be a consort to a powerful woman somewhere. And because he has insisted on learning to fight and to ski, we get a runaway groom instead of a runaway bride! I’ve read this particular pattern with a female lead character quite often and it was refreshing to see a male character get the same treatment.

Later in the book, there is some interesting exploration of the nature of man-woman relationships, the differences between the priorities of the sexes when it comes to love, perhaps? Not as spot-on for me as the beginning of the story, but still a long way from the fiction where only the man’s opinion matters.

Somewhat confusing sometimes was the alignment of the colour black with Order Magic and white with Chaos Magic. Kind of reversing the usual good/evil colour associations. Not that either form of magic is painted entirely good or evil—Creslin learns that he can certainly cause bad things to happen with his Order magic. It’s like the old saying about knives. It isn’t the knife that is good or bad, it’s the intention of the person wielding it.

Book number 302 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-12-10 05:51
Days Without End (Audiobook)
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry,Aidan A. Kelly

Narration: 5 stars

Story: 3.5 stars

Final rating: 4 stars

 

It was my week for strange stories. This isn't even a story in the traditional sense. This reads more like a rambling memoir but with language so intimate and lush that I could easily forget that I was only really getting broad brushstrokes for the bulk of the story. This is mostly a summation of a young man's life as he figures out some hard-won truths.

 

Told from the POV of Thomas McNulty, an Irish immigrant, as we follow him and his friend turned lover John Cole across America in the mid-1800s. Survivors of the famine, they come to America with nothing, practically starved to death, and start to figure out how to survive from one day to the next, whether that's playacting as girls in a stage show or joining the Army to fight in the Indian Wars and eventually the Civil War.

 

This book doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of this time period in American history, nor does it give us safely and comfortably progressive-minded MCs to filter that reality through. Thomas and John Cole might not be outright hateful of anyone but they don't stop to ask why they're being given the orders they're given nor do they spend much time if any contemplating the morality of the slaughter of the First Peoples. Not at first. As Thomas notes at one point, no soldier fully understands the war he fights in; he only knows his one part in it. 

 

I was most interested in Thomas's and John's non-Army days, while they were living together and eventually with their adopted daughter Winona, a Sioux orphan, but those parts were sparse safe harbors in between all the violence and war of those times. The ending, such as it was, is more open-ended than anything else. 

I would have preferred a reunion between Thomas, John and Winona instead of just Thomas looking forward to it.

(spoiler show)

 

The narration by Aiden Kelly was truly amazing. He captures Thomas's bewildered voice perfectly and truly makes this oddly mesmerizing story come to life. 

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review 2018-12-09 03:00
The Cozy Cookbook
The Cozy Cookbook: More than 100 Recipes from Today's Bestselling Mystery Authors - Julie Hyzy,Laura Childs,Cleo Coyle,Jenn McKinlay,B.B. Haywood

This book is a collection of recipes from coy mystery books. The books are introduced and a chapter may be present. The book is broken up into categories, Breads, Cupcakes, etc. I have read some of the books or the books are on my to-read list, so this was interesting and I marked several of the recipes to try out. 

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review 2018-12-09 02:09
Book, Line and Sinker
Book, Line and Sinker - Jenn McKinlay

This is Book 3 of the Library Lover's Mysteries. 

 

Lindsey is on her second year in the community, she is dating Sully and there is a battle brewing between Yogi, Milton, and Trudy, who works at the City Building. She wants to let people pay to dig up the islands looking for treasure and Milton feels that it would destroy the community property. When Trudy is found dead, they look at Milton and Leslie feels she needs to get involved to prove his innocence. While all this is happening, her ex-fiancee comes to town and wants to reunite with her. She is uninterested in a reconciliation. 

 

This book was another chosen by my kids to listen to while we were driving to all their meetings. They truly enjoy listening to the books in the car and it leads to some interesting conversations. 

 

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