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text 2017-12-07 15:22
How is it already December 7th?
Living with Shakespeare: Actors, Directors, and Writers on Shakespeare in Our Time - Susannah Carson
The Drowned and the Saved - Primo Levi
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (The crime club) - Agatha Christie
Magic's Promise - Mercedes Lackey
Widow's Web - Jennifer Estep
The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
Christmas Stories - Diana Secker Tesdell
Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie
Prince Caspian - C.S. Lewis

 

We're rapidly approaching the end of 2017 and I'm not ready.  Christmas is coming at warp speed it seems, and I have a family party on the 23rd and I'll spend Christmas Day at my niece's house, staying with my sister in between those two events.  Then on the 29th, I fly to the west coast to see my other sister and go to a family wedding on New Year's Eve.  I'm looking forward to all of this, but I'm wondering when I'm going to get my Christmas cards written, the food contributions prepared, and my suitcases packed.

 

And of course, I want to tie up the loose ends of this reading year, read some Christmas books, and prepare for 2018.  A bit of Peace on Earth.

 

Last weekend, I got my Christmas tree set up & decorated.  I'm enjoying the coloured lights, celebrating the upcoming solstice and the return of more light.  These days it feels like I go to work in the dark and go home in the dark--I feel like a mole!

 

I know I will get it all done.  I always do.  And if I don't, the world will not end.  Keep telling me that.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all. 

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review 2017-12-04 16:40
The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Complete Edition (His Dark Materials) - Philip Pullman

A great visualization of the novel. It's nice to see the characters as Pullman describes them and the story done in the spirit much closer to the original than the movie.

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review 2017-11-28 02:23
La Belle Sauvage, Book of Dust #1 by Philip Pullman
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

I waited too long. Faaaar tooo long. On top of the incredible length of time since the original trilogy carried me away when I was kid - The Amber Spyglass was the first book where I could hardly wait for it to come out. This is a magnificent return to the world of The Golden Compass. I wasn't sure how a prequel so many years later would even work, but there was so much going on in La Belle Sauvage and none of it felt like a retread. It was so much fun to read about daemons again.

Malcolm Polstead and his daemon Asta live with their parents in a small enclave north of Oxford. He helps his parents in their tavern and does odd jobs for the nuns across the river. He spends as much time as he can piloting his boat up and down the river. It is ten years before Lyra Belacqua overhears her father talking about Dust. Times are changing, however, the Church is growing in power, entering into private lives and the schools, and even Malcolm can see something is wrong.

La Belle Sauvage goes into darker territory than The Golden Compass, and that's saying something. Malcolm and his friends must risk their lives to protect an innocent with a great destiny. It was wonderful and I can't wait to read what happens next, ten years after The Amber Spyglass.

Next: The Secret Commonwealth

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review 2017-11-21 02:28
La Belle Sauvage Vol. 1 of The Book of Dust (Philip Pullman)
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

Synopsis: Malcolm is a schoolboy who accidentally intercepts a message intended for a spy. When that spy finds him he is drawn into a covert world of intrigue. Malcolm is also a devoted fan and protector of Lyra, a baby being raised by some nuns at a nearby convent.

Review: The Book of Dust is a new trilogy by Philip Pullman set in the His Dark Materials (HDM) universe. The first volume is La Belle Sauvage, though I find myself saying Book of Dust rather than that. Pullman maybe should have called the trilogy something else.

La Belle Sauvage is divided (well it feels like it at least) into two parts. In the first half of the book Malcolm becomes involved with a government agency that is fighting a shadow war against another agency that wants to establish
an authoritarian religious rule over it's people. Somehow Lyra, a small baby being raised in a convent, is important to these plans, and it becomes Malcolm's task to protect her.

The second half of the book is mostly concerned with Malcolm protecting Lyra and another character we are introduced to, Alice. What I really noticed about this part of the book is how the plot pinballed around. Malcolm and company bounce from one danger or challenge to the next, on a chapter by chapter basis, usually leaving one chapters dangers behind at the end of it. It feels odd because most of these dangers don't seem to really have a longterm impact on the plot.

The character building is good, with alot of focus on the building relationship between Malcolm and Alice. Malcolm is a likeable good natured kid, while Alice starts off a bit of a bitch. As the story goes on, this melts away and she grows closer to Malcolm which was a nice touch. We also gets seperate shots of Lord Asriel and the icy Miss Coulter (including a delicious little rebuttal for her).

Pullman is one of the few authors, (possibly the only one, I'm not sure) who is capable of tearing me up. That said I think I expected a little more from the book. While the character development was good, it seemed to lack emotion in a way I remembered from HDM. Still definitely worth a read; can't wait for the next two books to come out.

Next is is another Alastair Reynolds book, Slow Bullets. This one is fairly short, so I expect to have another review soon.

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review 2017-11-13 17:57
SQUEE!!
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

Trying not to be a fangirl, but wow. This was so good. Not going to lie, I missed Lyra and Will. We do get baby Lyra though, so at least she's in the story. Just not talking and being her Silvertongue self yet. Seeing younger versions of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter though was interesting. Since I know what comes, it gave me a good deal of pleasure of seeing Mrs. Coulter wrong footed. We follow two young people, Malcolm and Alice who do what they can to keep baby Lyra safe.

 

Philip Pullman offers these tantalizing details: “I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College, and in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her twenty years later. As for the third and final part, my lips are sealed.

 

Look all I am saying is that I want Lyra and Will together. That's it. If I end up sobbing like a child again like I did when I finished "The Subtle Knife" Pullman and I are going to have some imaginary words.

 

We have two new young adult characters to follow. No they are not Lyra and Will. But I actually think I may have fallen more in love with them than the latter. We have Malcolm and Alice who end up being drawn to baby Lyra.


I think that both characters were very well developed. Though some pieces reminded me of "The Subtle Knife". We have another sexual awakening of sorts. You see a young boy and girl drawn together and willing to fight for each other after having an adventure. 


We also get to see familiar characters in this one. I already mentioned Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, but there are some others I don't want to spoil about. 

 

I do think that there were a lot of characters to keep track of, but I didn't mind. Pullman writes them all quite well and they move in/out to the story. I do wish though we hadn't jumped between Malcolm and his goings on and another adult character as much (no spoilers). That took something out of the book for me. I know that Pullman is trying to set up the people for investigating dust and those who did not want to, but as I said, I think most readers are going to read "His Dark Materials" prior to this one, so you don't have to go into it as much. 

 

Volume 1 was really good. Though it starts off slow, the flow gets better and better and you will have your heart in your throat for most of the story. I was so worried about Malcolm and Alice until the very end. And even then I am worried, cause i don't recall these characters in "His Dark Materials" or if they are referenced I am too dumb to not have caught it when I did a quick skim read of the three books a few days ago.


The plot of "The Book of Dust" is about a young boy, Malcolm, and innkeeper's son (I got a great hoot at connecting that with Jesus/inn/etc. who finds out that a baby is living with a group of nuns nearby. Malcolm becomes instantly enthralled with the baby (called Lyra) and her tragic story that most people are not supposed to know about (though everyone does). That would have to be the funniest part of this book to me. People keep mentioning secrets here and there, but it did feel like most of the characters knew about things that they should not have. I think that may have made for a more interesting book if things were slowly revealed. But I bet Pullman figured most of us have read "His Dark Materials" so it's not like it's going to be a shocking reveal to us.

 

The world building in "The Book of Dust" was really good. We get to see an earlier Brytain that has some similarities to our world, but does not. There is a terrible story about a man called St. Alexander that was appalling. And I swear reminded me of someone else historical, but was too busy/lazy to look it up. How this man and his actions trickles down to a secret group of children that reports on teachers, parents, etc. gives more power to the Consistorial Court of Discipline was appalling to see. I can see at times why Lord Asriel was hell-bent on breaking the hold the Church had on the world that "His Dark Materials" inhabitants. 

 

The ending was very good and links up nicely with the story we were told about how Lyra comes to be at Jordan College. Now can't wait for part two where we find Lyra supposedly 20 years later after the events of this story. I already read "Lyra's Oxford" to just get a nice taste of Lyra and Pan when she's 15. I wish it had been longer.

 

 Image result for his dark materials gif

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