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Review: Practical Demonkeeping

Practical DemonkeepingPractical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really quite enjoyed this adventurous tale mixed with a small town story. I found it to be an inventive story with some exciting, if not humorous, twists on some old ideas. The wit practically oozes off the pages, and every character has a certain charm that rings with authenticity.

If I had any complaint about the story, it’s that it seemed, at times, to dwell on giving the back story on each and every character in the book. Stick with it, though, those back stories are relevant and necessary to the payoff at the end of the book. Moore has an excellent gift for building suspense and though the story wraps up quickly, it wraps up thoroughly.

It was an excellent read, and I’ll definitely be recommending it to my reading friends.

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in review

 

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Lone Star Planet by H.Beam Piper

Lone Star Planet Lone Star Planet by H. Beam Piper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a quick, fun read. It’s basically a western, a political satire, and sci-fi rolled into one. Being from Texas, I enjoyed the fantasy of Texas being its own sovereign planet, and the characterizations of the prominent figures could have been based on people I know very well. I know some of the intent was probably to poke a little fun at Texans, and our unique sense of justice, but I found myself fascinated with the prospect of some of the more outrageous parodies being implemented. The story has everything you’d pretty much expect; there’s intrigue, villainous rogues, lovable rogues, the Foghorn Leghorn type guy, the timid government officials, courtroom drama, and a gunfight or two. If this were a movie, you’d likely either mock it for its lack of substance, or laud it for its heaping helping of fun!

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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in fiction, review

 

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Review: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

The Merry Adventures of Robin HoodThe Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

I read the version available on Manybooks.net

Wow. The book is mostly comic relief, and I’d say that surprisingly Mel Brooks probably came closer to capturing Robin Hood than the newer movies have (I haven’t seen Erol Flynn’s Hood yet). The first part of the book is pretty whimsical and quite a bit repetitive, but somewhere around the 60% mark, it turns into a pretty stirring adventure and about 3/4 of the way through, it starts to make a gradual transition to something more mature and gritty. The 3rd act has some pretty tense moments in it, and I found myself genuinely fearing for the safety of some of the beloved characters I had come to know and love.

If you like upbeat, happy endings, I implore you, don’t read the epilogue. At least one villainous character gets his comeuppance in an undignified and much deserved way, but the ending is so terribly sad, and kind of depressing. I kind of knew this going in, but I read it through anyway, for the sake of completion. I wasn’t in any way prepared for the ending of this book. It was far sadder and unexpected than I had anticipated and yet, it felt complete. I’m not sure I would change the ending if I had the opportunity, somehow, it grounds the story in reality. I think it’s that sense of reality and mortality that makes the ending so poignant. It’s like you’ve watched this band of cut-ups, these Merry Men, grow and mature, and like all things in life, the world corrupts this idealism, and the whole thing feels tainted and paradoxically, fulfillingly unsatisfying.

I recommend the book.

If you want it to stick with you, I recommend reading the epilogue.

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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in review

 

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Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Little BrotherLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve always treated books much the same way I treat movies; the more popular it is, the less inclined I am to check it out. A couple of years ago, when Little Brother was still a new book, the hype was quite prominent, and I avoided reading it. Recently, I saw this nice hardbound copy at my local Goodwill, and figured it might be worth dropping $2 to check it out. I already had a free digital copy sitting on my e-reader taking up space until some unknown later date, but I thought a bound copy might be nice. Having the physical book in hand, I cracked it open to read a few paragraphs. Then I burned through the book, quickly (at least for me).

One of the blurbs on the dust jacket calls it an “important” book, and I’m inclined to agree. Somewhat familiar with Doctorow through sites like boingboing, I knew he was a tech savvy guy, but I was thoroughly impressed with his ability to readily break down some pretty complex technology into layman’s terms. His descriptions of how surveillance can be misused and applied as an invasion of privacy under the guise of protection was both frightening and all too familiar in a world that has trouble drawing the line between terror and freedom.

I’m recommending this book to everyone I know, not so much for it’s mostly believable plot, not for it’s fun and identifiable characters, or even for it’s great use of suspense. No, I’m recommending it because it’s a great reminder to remain vigilant when privacy and personal information is concerned.

I found the ending to be a bit rushed, and the characters to be a bit naive from time to time, but then I have to remember this is a YA novel and I might not totally identify with the protagonist on too many levels, being in my mid-30’s.

Any flaws in the book were really quite marginal, at best, and I heartily recommend everyone read this book–if just for the concepts presented within.

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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in better living, review

 

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Review: Pictures at 11

Pictures at 11Pictures at 11 by Norman Spinrad
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At first, I had my doubts, as the book seemed slow to start. However, after making it about 40 pages in, the action and suspense started kicking in. The obvious comparisons to “Network” not withstanding, I found the book to be quite entertaining, if not a little predictable. It’s one of those stories that you know how it has to end, and you kind of get frustrated with the characters because you spot stuff before they do, but it still manages to throw in a surprise or two and does a good job of maintaining a healthy sense of tension and doubt. It absolutely reads like a movie, which is oddly poignant given the message of the book.

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Posted by on December 21, 2010 in fiction, review, Uncategorized

 

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Review: The Color of Magic

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1)The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finally understand what all the fuss has been about. I’ve long put off reading any Pratchett, because his books were always on the shelf exactly where Mervyn Peake should have been. I’m glad I gave in, and tried this book. Pratchett does a great job of putting a new spin on some of my favorite tropes. The satire kept me chuckling like a simpleton throughout. As I started reading the last 10 pages, I started getting that sinking feeling you get when you suddenly realize that the TV show you’ve just watched for the last 45 minutes is just part 1 of 2, but I found the ending to be very apropos, considering the style of the rest of the book. I guess the one thing this book made me realize most, though, is that my luggage is entirely too boring.

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Posted by on August 14, 2010 in review

 

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City of Ember

#25 City of Ember

City of Ember movie poster

It’s just your typical post-apocalyptic, underground city is going to be destroyed and all of humanity rests on two children’s shoulders, Christian allegory starring Bill Murray and Tim Robbins (Who, I’m pretty sure, is a devout atheist in real life–weird, huh?).  The basic plot is pretty straightforward.  Mankind, in the throes of some major catastrophe builds a city underground and sends a small group of people to live in it.  They leave instructions in a time-release box on how to leave the city in 200 years.  Somewhere along the line, the box is lost, and no-one knows they are supposed to leave.  Well, the city is falling apart along with it’s power source, and it’s up to a ragtag little girl and her ambitious young friend to rescue mankind from poor leadership and blind fear of the unknown.

City of Ember

It’s a little heavy handed at times, and the parallels to the walk of a Christian are pretty obvious throughout, but that doesn’t detract from the story.  You pretty much know how the movie must end before the first act is even done, and it seems a little slow in setting the stage.  I kept thinking to myself, “Okay, enough with the setup, let’s get to the story.”  Then, somehow, once the action really started, I realized that all the setup was necessary, and it wouldn’t have been nearly as good without it.  This movie is kind of sneaky like that.  You know what to expect, and yet, it still surprises you by doing exactly what you expected it to do, all along.  It’s based on a book, written for young readers, and the movie is clearly aimed at that same audience, but I think adults will also get something from the film.  Though it is dark, and sinister in places, and there really is a sense of urgency and terror throughout the movie that will surely enthrall young audiences, it also has a more or less positive message, and I believe that any stress it might cause youngsters will be worth it for the lessons learned.  The bad guys get their comeuppance, and the good guys triumph, and an adventure awaits in the City of Ember.

An added bonus for knitters:  There’s a couple of scenes involving yarn and knitting, including an integral scene near the beginning!

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2010 in Movie Challenge

 

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