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Book Blog

August 27, 2017

This Census-Taker (Review)

ong-time readers of my reviews know that my favorite living author is China Meville (it’s a love-hate relationship – this guy writes like I should write). I’ve got pretty much every book of his on my shelves. A lot of them are crazy-weird but leave me haunted and thoughtful. And This Census-Taker, it’s the craziest (and deepest) of the bunch. So this boy lives in an almost dreamlike house high on a windy hill overlooking a town, sometime in a sort of steam-punk post-greatness era. And the tale begins with him dashing down to the city in the valley below, […]
August 20, 2017

The Girl on the Train (Review)

et’s get this right out in the open. This is a protagonist you aren’t going to like at all. Rachel is a pathetic drunk. Her drinking and violent tendencies cost her a marriage. Now abiding in an apartment from an over-enabling friend, she rides in to London every day, not to work but to pretend to work. Because she drank at a work lunch, lost control and got the sack. One of Rachel’s little “games” is when the train stops every day at the same signal, she looks at the back of one of the suburban houses (apparently a few […]
August 13, 2017

Razor Girl (Review)

arl Hiaasen – what can you say? If you haven’t read any of his South Florida Crime Novels, you’ve got a treat. While his writing can be a bit formulaic (good guys are gruff and honest, bad guys are unremitting shit-weasels (one of my favorite phrases of his) who tend fated to end his tales in horribly fitting ways). It’s not high art, that’s for sure, but it’s fun. So, the title character, the Razor Girl, is a young woman with a suspicious name (Merry Mansfield) who makes a living of sorts by crashing into cars. She’s got rear-ending to […]
July 30, 2017

Louis XIV-A Royal Life (Review)

only knew Louis (the 14th) through two forms of entertainment. There was the version provided through Dumas, that of the selfish and ungrateful ruler, who punishes the loyal Fouquet at the wormtonguing of Colbert and is nearly swapped out by Aramis’ kingmaking (Man in the Iron Mask). And then there is the Versailles series, where he is in control and fitting his rule to his circumstances, but with all the secret societies and plots about the place, it feels almost too fantastical. In this, I decided to find out just who Lou was, so I checked Louis XIV, A Royal […]
July 23, 2017

I call Bullshit (Review)

n these days of “Fake news” and presidents and parties who don’t care if what they spout is a lie or not, it’s fun to read a book that, as the title says, works at “Debunking the most commonly repeated myths”. For example: Do you think Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone? Mammals arrived after the dinosaurs became extinct? Humans only use 10 percent of their brains? The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space? Author Jamie Frater piles through many, many myths, things we only know through hearsay (i.e. Facebook). I’d wished I’d read […]
July 9, 2017

Avatar – The Last Airbender (Review)

eah, yeah, so it’s a cartoon, and one that I had no interest in watching until a friend coaxed me into it. I’d seen some things about it in the early 2000’s when it first came out. Little bald kid with an arrow tattooed on his forehead. I didn’t give it a second thought. Anyway, it’s classic storytelling. In this fantasy world, there are four “bender” classes: earth, wind, fire and air, each forming their own nations. However, there is always an “Avatar”, one who can bend all four, the peacekeeping force. In this case, it’s Aang, a goofy little […]
July 7, 2017

The Outback Stars (Review)

nother one from the used book shop, this time a military-grade page turner about… shipboard life on a starship. I thought this was a book of an ongoing series (turns out it’s the first one, I think) – Lieutenant Jodenny Scott survived a horrific terrorist attack on her last ship, one that left her burned and burdened with survivors’ guilt. And just as it takes her a while to return to active service (don’t worry – we don’t get dragged through her convalescence – she didn’t like it any more than we would have), it takes us a while to […]
July 2, 2017

The Man in the Iron Mask (Review)

nd so ends, the series that started with Three Musketeers, proceeded through Twenty Years After, then into The Vicomte of Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, and Louise de la Vallière. By my estimates, it took 4000 pages to arrive at this point. And after three years and something like 100 books and short stories later, I’m ready to conclude this saga with The Man in the Iron Mask. I’ve written how the eternal bonds formed in the first book, of three (then four) common soldiers were unified by friendship and duty. I’ve also noted (in later books) how the four have […]
June 25, 2017

Amanda Todd: The Friend of Cats (Review)

isclaimer: My poor little cat is in the vet’s care this weekend, attempting to recover from a kidney disorder. I’m aching in love for my cat (in particular) and all cats (in general). With a confusing week behind me and a massive book still underway (The Man in the Iron Mask), I found myself with nothing to review. This morning when I woke up, I considered my options and reached over to Jurassic’s The End (a wonderful collection of short stories produced by a closing publishing house). Flipped open this vast leather volume to the next story beneath the bookmark […]
June 17, 2017

Interpreter of Maladies (Review)

his isn’t my usual type of book. There are no trains, no musketeers and no spaceships. This is about ordinary people, Indian people, going through gradual encounters of change. My wife read it and I had a look – after all, it couldn’t suck too badly. Ms. Lahiri won a Pulitzer for this effort. You also might remember that I reviewed the first story I read a few weeks ago, A Temporary Matter. I really enjoyed it, and looked forward to more of the same. And in that, my hopes were realized. Again, not dramatic action here, no 24 pace. […]