May 2nd, 2015

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Late last month I finished reading a couple of books, including Redshirts by John Scalzi, which was a very solid read, and Osprey Campaign #20: Jena 1806: Napoleon Destroys Prussia which was less so.

Redshirts I especially liked. It deals with characters aboard a starship realizing that they were characters in a 21st Century TV series...a bad one...where crewman were killed indiscriminately simply as a plot device, giving their lives no meaning. A number of them then find a way to get in touch with the show creators. No more lest there be too much spoilerism.

The other book is Napoleonic history. The Battle of Jena-Auerstadt is one of the Emperor's greatest victories. This book deals pretty fairly with it, but somehow left me cold. Sorry.
kitty, reading

Books #19-20

Book #19 was "The Office of Mercy" by Ariel Djanikian, as an audiobook. It's hard to know what to say about this book, because I found it flawed but I also really liked it. The premise is that in the future, the population on earth has exploded and there is rampant poverty, violence and ecological decline, so a group of "Alphas" establish strongly-defended, high-tech complexes, each one just a few hundred people, but with many of them strung across the former USA. Outside are the primitive "tribes" who have reverted back to pre-industrial living. Natasha Wiley is born in America 5, where she has trouble living by the community's code of ethics and has what the society would consider an unhealthy fixation with outside & the tribes. I can't say much about the plot without spoiling it, but it takes a world that *should* be utopian - with extended life and an emphasis on minimizing suffering - and turns it into a horrifying dystopia. The book didn't always go where I thought it would, but that's a plus! I like it when an author surprises me. That being said, I had some issues with the way viewpoint was handled. It's mostly told from Natasha's viewpoint, about 80-90 percent of the book, but then it almost randomly jumps to a few other viewpoints. I feel this could have been handled better. I also think her prose is mostly pretty good but she needed to axe a bunch of the adverbs that make her prose border on purple at times. All criticisms aside, I do recommend the book - it's a strong entry in the recent craze for dystopias, going in a slightly different direction than I've seen before. Natasha as viewpoint character keeps you sympathetic and wanting to find out what happens to her. Djanikian handles pacing, plot and keeping the tension ratcheted up with grace, especially for a first-time published author. Here's a review from that goes into more detail.

Book #20 was "A Thousand Acres" by Jane Smiley. I'd heard this was a modern-retelling of "King Lear" set during the farming crisis of the 1970s in the U.S. and that it had won a Pulitzer, so I had high hopes. It starts slow, and I wondered at first why I should care about a childess farm wife heading into middle age and her family, but the tension starts building a few chapters in and that doesn't relent until the very end. I enjoyed this book a great deal and plan to read more by Smiley. Reivew fom Publisher's Weekly.

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book collector

book 49

Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost KingDigging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King by Mike Pitts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won this through goodreads which didn't influence my opinion. I AM, however, sorry it took so long to review it. My father made off with the copy and I didn't realize it. If it helps, he liked it too. It's a very readable account of the discovery of King Richard's grave under a car park which on the face of it sounds so ludicrous. And some of this story really is bizarre.

Pitts gives us a nice overview of Richard's life and death and all the weirdness that went on with this dig. It was far from a normal one and certainly had a lot of ugly politics surrounding it. What I really liked was not only was this well footnoted, the footnotes themselves contained interesting tidbits.

It's well worth the read.

View all my reviews