The sample sounds great, Hanks goes along at a nice clip, enunciates beautifully and is just his usual awesome self. However, the story is really not my kind of thing. Usually I run the other way, when I see a book tagged as literary fiction.
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.
From the Goodreads blurb
Will have to think about it! I also feel tempted by his short story collection, Uncommon Type: Some Stories. Somewhere I came across a story talking about his hobby of collecting manual typewriters. It immediately made me long for having one again myself. They are so expensive! And not easy to come by…
I love Tom Hanks. I hope there will never, ever be any stories in the news declaring him to be a horrible human for some reason. It would break my heart.
Welcome to #6degrees. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I am using this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. How the meme works and how you can join is explained here. The initial blog post about this month‘s choice is here.
This month we yet again begin with a book I haven‘t read and have never heard, of The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld. This won the 2021 Stella Prize, something I have never heard of either. Very educational for me today!
The Bass Rock is about family and love, and the ways that both can undo a person – as both storm and haven. It’s about the legacy of male violence and the ways in which these traumas ripple and reverberate across time and place.
Doesn‘t sound bad, but isn‘t really my cup of tea.
About the prize:
Stella began in 2012 with the Stella Prize, a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing. The aim was to counter the gender bias rife in the Australian literary landscape at the time and promote cultural change through the recognition of women’s perspectives.
On the longlist of that prize are some books that sound more interesting. Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson sounds a bit more down my alley, as it seems to have some magical realism in it.
Exploring the experiences of a First Nations community living on the outskirts of a rural town, Song of the Crocodile focuses on four generations of one family as a vessel to explore the insidious and generational impacts of racism, colonialism and violence.
A family favour their son over their daughter. Shan attends university before making his fortune in Australia while Yannie must find menial employment and care for her ageing parents. After her mother’s death, Yannie travels to Sydney to become enmeshed in her psychopathic brother’s new life, which she seeks to undermine from within.
As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals — first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin.
…a warm, funny and highly original portrait of a young girl’s search for identity and her struggle to deal with grief. Through families lost and found, this own-voices story celebrates the resilience of the human heart and our need to know who we truly are.
Evoking the rich, unfolding tapestry of Australian life in the late nineteenth century, Stone Sky Gold Mountain is a heartbreaking and universal story about the exiled and displaced, about those who encounter discrimination yet yearn for acceptance.
…a story collection that is astonishingly clever and witty, while also full of piercing insights into contemporary society. As she plays with structure and voice, Tan also explores popular culture and modern technology to great effect, and her futuristic scenarios are well thought out and all too plausible. Food scarcity, environmental destruction, capitalist bureaucracy and misogyny are just some of the ideas explored in the collection – in tales that feature mermaids, devious cats, and mangled ‘90s ballads.
Strangely enough, these books are not only connected through nominations for the Stella Prize, they also all have either animals in their titles or on their covers. There you go. Tempted to read any of them?
Egypt, Cairo, Djinn, ghuls, sorcerers, magic, airships, gas light, aerial trams… steampunk plus electricity. An investigator looks into the suspicious death of a djinn and follows traces through a magical Cairo.
“Fatma was born into the world al-Jahiz left behind: a world transformed by magic and the supernatural. […] Egypt now sat as one of the great powers, and Cairo was its beating heart.“
The setting of this story made me home-sick for Cairo! Or whatever you call it for a city I lived in for six years…
This was fun! Plot driven, not much character development — not an easy task anyway for such a short novelette — although I did like Fatma. Good action scenes and sleuthing, interesting setting. Potential for a lot more. Onwards to the next two stories/novelettes, in preparation for reading Clark’s first full-length novel next month.
This sounds interesting… maybe… „Solarpunk“ is a new one…
Cities are alive, shared by humans and animals, insects and plants, landforms and machines. What might city ecosystems look like in the future if we strive for multispecies justice in our urban settings? In these more-than-human stories, twenty-four authors investigate humanity’s relationship with the rest of the natural world, placing characters in situations where humans have to look beyond their own needs and interests. A quirky eco-businessman sees broader applications for a high school science fair project. A bad date in Hawai’i takes an unexpected turn when the couple stumbles upon some confused sea turtle hatchlings. A genetically-enhanced supersoldier struggles to find new purpose in a peaceful Tokyo. A community service punishment in Singapore leads to unexpected friendships across age and species. A boy and a mammoth trek across Asia in search of kin. A Tamil child learns the language of the stars. Set primarily in the Asia-Pacific, these stories engage with the serious issues of justice, inclusion, and sustainability that affect the region, while offering optimistic visions of tomorrow’s urban spaces.
As the title suggests, these are backstories of our favourite crew, set several years before the plot of the main storyline of the books.
Definitely a companion piece for fans of The Expanse. The characters are done in the image of the TV series. The artwork is pretty basic and not good. Why do media-tie ins always have such bad artwork? Is that an unwritten rule somewhere?
Jim Holden, Naomi Nagata, Alex Kamal, Amos Burton and Miller each get a chapter.
Holden‘s chapter was the weakest for me. It shows the end of his military career and is the least believable. ★★½☆☆ I really liked Naomi‘s chapter — strong story, I connected emotionally and it had Amos in it…. I love Amos! ★★★★★ Alex Kamal‘s chapter was surprisingly good, considering that he is my least favourite member of the Roci‘s crew. ★★★★☆ Amos‘s chapter was a little too wacky, sad and a little upsetting. ★★★½☆ And Miller‘s chapter didn‘t do much for me. This is a media tie-in to the TV series and his likeness to TV Miller was the least well done. ★★☆☆☆
You don‘t miss much, if you don‘t read this. If you don‘t know the series, don‘t bother with this. Watch the series first or, even better, read the books. They are a lot of fun!
Whatever had built the protomolecule and fired it toward Earth back in the depths of time wasn’t answering calls anymore. The bridge builder had opened the way, and no great gods had come streaming through.
It was astounding, Bobbie thought, how quickly humanity could go from What unimaginable intelligence fashioned these soul-wrenching wonders? to Well, since they’re not here, can I have their stuff?
from the prologue
And that is the driving force behind this book. Let‘s finds the City of Gold and get all that stuff. Well, ok, the Belters go there as well to have a place of their own and a life free from the Inners. Then the rest show up to kick them out and try to get that stuff instead. And Avasarala sends Holden and company to mediate. Yes, crazy idea, right? It doesn‘t take long for the proverbial sh*t to hit the fan. Entertaining! On top of that we get a fascinating ecosystem, alien ruins, natural disasters, battles in space and more. Never a dull moment. This time around my mind wandered a little though, hence I knocked off a star from my first review.
First review from November 2017:
This is a solid addition to the Expanse. Another fairly straight forward story, not as twisty and with as memorable characters as Caliban’s War, but good stuff. My only grievance is the very formulaic aka always very similar plot construction.
Holden is a bit much at times, with his boy scout persona, but luckily he has Amos at his side to keep him ankered to the realities of life and death. Naomi and especially Alex could have gotten a little more page time. There is the now expected bunch of new and never to be seen again characters thrown into the mix.
The really bad guy is really bad and there is the also usual morally ambiguous character, that could fall either side of that line. Miller does his thing, we get unexpected plot twists and oh-shit situations and everything slowly goes to hell in a hand basket, also as in the previous books.
I really liked the natural history excursions. I’ll have one of those mimic lizards, please. Good sense of humour. The interludes are new. And odd. And interesting. And they didn’t end up in quite the direction I expected them to go.
All in all a good read, if somewhat repetitive in set-up/structure. Entertaining , but not mind blowing. Will I read the next book in the series? Absolutely.
Next up in The Expanse would be the short storyThe Churn (The Expanse, #0.2) and the next full novel Nemesis Games (Expanse, #5), which is one of my favourite books in the series. The short story should ideally be read before it, as it gives us the origin story of Amos Burton. Still, I am taking a break here and listen to a different audiobook first:
Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.
from the blurb
I am not sure if I every actually read The Remains of the Day, I might mix it up with my memory of the movie. So, practically let‘s consider this my first Ishiguro.
When we were new, Rosa and I were mid-store, on the magazines table side, and could see through more than half of the window. So we were able to watch the outside – the office workers hurrying by, the taxis, the runners, the tourists, Beggar Man and his dog, the lower part of the RPO Building. Once we were more settled, Manager allowed us to walk up to the front until we were right behind the window display, and then we could see how tall the RPO Building was. And if we were there at just the right time, we would see the Sun on his journey, crossing between the building tops from our side over to the RPO Building side.
Thisweek‘s topic: Books I‘d gladly throw into the ocean. You can want to throw a book into the ocean for a number of different reasons, both good and bad…
I used to never DNF a book and would force myself to read through those books that I truly did not enjoy. Not a great experience and it would keep me from reading more enjoyable books. So, eventually, I started to DNF those books, although it always felt tremendously unsatisfying. These days I have changed tactics again, I just skim like a fiend. That way I at least get some closure and find out how it all ends…
I was excited at first at the prospect of characters with Vulcan traits meeting shapeshifters., I was skimming by chapter two and felt no compulsion to pick this up again. Made myself read another two chapter of nothing much. Boring. I don’t care about the MCs or their inner monologue. Bla. She’s constantly worrying about her own inadequacies, he’s disrespectful of her boundaries and personal space. If I was her, I would have punched him by the second time he touched me without invitation, especially after I had told him not to. Pulling her plait? Is he twelve?
I skimmed and picked at some bits of this novel and it all reads and feels like the first few chapters. Read a few pages in the last chapter and the epilogue. Really don’t care. Perhaps this is too much PNR for me. Add to that antiquated gender models and I am done.
DNF at 56 pages and some nilly-willy skimming through later bits of the book. It’s probably me. I think I have UF/PNR-burn-out. I am really not interested anymore in the same old tropes, clichées and tired, old plot devices.
World building: Imperial airships. Some gods appeared briefly every now and then, but other than that this was conflicts between houses, conspiracies and war.
At times this felt like a historical novel set in another version of China. Reading other reviews, I realized that this is exactly what it was. Ken Liu took real events of China’s history and transplanted them into a fictional setting, tinted with light fantasy elements.
All not bad things, but the narrative felt very dry to me. More an account of things that a captivating narrative.
Characters: I found it difficult to relate to the characters. They felt very one-dimensional and simplistic, almost like paper cut-outs from children’s books. This is the hero, this is the bad guy, this is the supportive wife… There was not a lot of life or development to these characters.
Plus there was a huge cast with unusual names. Added on top were the many place names and I really struggled to keep everything straight.
The lack of strong female characters has been commented on quite a bit in other reviews. It’s not a topic I tend to get militant about, but I did take note of the lack of interesting females. There was one with a bit more time on the page early on, but she was barely more than a side character. Towards the middle another one popped up, but she was as flat as the other characters.
Plot: Slow. Changing points of view and settings in every chapter made the plot progression even slower. They did not help with my struggle to remember names and who-was-who either.
There was a lot of talking and very little doing. I wish there would have been more “Show, don’t tell!” As mentioned above, this read like an account of events, as if the various plot points were simply ticked off. There was no suspense or meaningful build-up.
I found this book a curious mix of boredom and glimpses into a great storyline. Those were the rare moments, when the plot did take a step forward. The flowery and stilted prose added to my difficulties with relating to the characters or the story.
DNF at 46%. Too many books, too little time.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! Sorry that my review has not been more favourable!
PS from present-day-me: I have read some short stories by Ken Liu that I liked and I plan to try one of his other books eventually…
The beginning of the book is a little confusing, as it isn’t very clear that the character is having flashbacks. The ebook formatting of my advanced reading copy is also pretty wonky, which made reading this not any easier.
Initially some nice world building, some interesting characters. But the book never gets off the ground. There is a lot of talking, the characters have the maturity of really shallow teenagers and the plot never develops at all.
The main character is an ex-marine and has been on two tours to Afghanistan. She sounds like she’s still in high school. Her male counterpart starts off with a lot of potential, but also goes nowhere fast.
There are various clans, fighting each others in the name of some Norse gods. A quarter into the book I still hadn’t figured out why and it all felt pretty pointless.
One bonus point for a Tolkien reference, but other than that I was bored and did not care what happens next. I kept pushing myself from one chapter to the next, in the hopes of something interesting happening, but finally gave up at 35%. Even the main character finding her wings couldn’t convince me to try for a few more chapters. If there is a good story somewhere, it took too long to raise its head.
I received this ARC copy of The Unleashing from Kensington Publishing Corp./NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Sorry that it didn’t turn out better than this.
DNF at 63%, 373 of 582 pages. I am fed up with this cluttering up my currently reading shelf. The 15 stories that I did read, average out at three stars. It’s not a bad collection, but it’s not really interesting either. I doubt I will pick it up again, but you never know.
Excellent, can I have that as a novel, please. 5 stars: Harry Harrison & Tom Shippey, A letter from the Pope (vikings invading British isles, Middle Ages)
Entertaining and enjoyable, 4 stars: James Morrow, The raft of the Titanic Eugene Byrne & Kim Newman, The Wandering Christian (time of Christ to Middle Ages) Esther M. Friesner, Such a deal (Christoper Columbus) Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lucky Strike (WWII, war against Japan) – excellent! If I didn’t know first-hand already that Robinson is a great writer, this would have convinced me. Ian R. MacLeod, The English Mutiny (England did not conquer India) – liked it, good idea well excecuted. Can see myself picking up something else by this author.
Interesting idea, but I was not really sold, 3 stars: Ken MacLeod, Sidewinders (SF, dystopian future) Suzette Hayden Elgin, Hush my Mouth (American civil war and onwards) Rudy Rucker, The Imitation Game (Alan Turing) – interesting idea, but I didn’t care much for the characterization of Alan Turing or the actual plot. Keith Roberts, Weihnachtsabend (Nazi Gemany and The British Empire form a pact) – the spelling and grammar mistakes of the German sentences were annyoing. The story was a bit odd.
Not interested, mostly skimmed. 1 or 2 stars: A. A. Attanasio, Ink from the new Moon (discovery of the New World, China rules the world) Pat Cadigan, Dispatches from the Revolution (USA, Vienam war onwards, politics, civil rights) Paul McAuley, A Very British History (history of the space race) – boring, I was skimming almost from the beginning. Marc Laidlaw, His Powder’d Wig, His Crown of Thornes (The colonies did not win during the American revolution…) – the story creeped me out, did not like it, skimmed through half of it. Judith Carr, Roncesvalles (Spain, Middle Ages) – felt old-fashioned, talkative, with an overload of details. Lost interest, before anything of consequence happened. Chris Robertson, O One (China rules the world, computation)
Stopped before reading: Harry Turtledove, Islands in the Sea
DNF at 37%. And I only got this far with some skimming. I think I have to stop reading YA, it mostly does not work for me.
I did not buy the main character. Orphaned at 13, living alone and hiding away in a basement for years. And despite that she has these kick-ass fighting skills, capable of offing grown men that fight for a living. Not working for me.
On top of that she is a mean spirited, unlikeable teenager. She was probably written to be like that on purpose and might go through a change later in the book, to become a more mature person. But meanwhile I disliked her so much that I developed no interest in her.
And who wears a trenchcoat to a robbery? And carries the loot in its pockets?
The main themes of the book rang too many bells. Magical, powerful families, as in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. Soul sight, as in the Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Repetitive writing, in teenager lingo, like. Been there, read it, was done much better in those books. Felt worn and did not engage me at all.
And some of the writing was just so silly. Another girl gets injured during a fight and spouts arterial blood. Our heroine finally gets a closer look and is shocked that it is even worse than she thought. The girl was spouting arterial blood. Come on, how much worse can it get?
Bottom line, unlikeable and unrealistic main character. Don’t buy the action scenes. The pacing was just not right. Action scenes should be fast and action-filled, they shouldn’t be full of explanations and thinky thoughts. Sketchy world building, magical families and talents that might not be intentional copies of other books, but felt so done already. At a third into the book still no monster sighting, which could have been the only novel idea of the book thus far.
If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep and of YA, this is probably a great read for you. But for me, every new scene kept rubbing me the wrong way. Not interested enough to keep going.
Free ARC, provided by Netgalley. Sorry that the review wasn’t positive.
Woman finds out that the supernatural exists and that she is an especially strong and gifted demon hunter, when her Harley-driving granny shows up to save her from evil. Demons chase them, they survive and meet tall, dark and handsome. Who is mysterious and a great kisser. And not entirely human. Potential love-interest. There is also a talking Jack Russel terrier, who doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. Maybe comic relief, but not.
They escape to some bar, meet all the other biker witches, drink lots of alcohol, have a magic ceremony, have some not-quite-road-kill food, and 30% of the book are over without much happening, despite all the action.
Characters are supposed to be weird and quirky, I guess. The various witches were confusing, as they all come across alike. Not a lot of world building, no explanations about the main character and her powers. I felt like watching the Halloween episode of Golden Girls.
Bored and glad that I got this for free from Amazon. DNF at 32%
Nice idea. Unfortunately the heroine does not track a thing in the first 20% of the book. She just drives around, visits random people and keeps telling herself, what a kick-ass bitch she is.
I am guessing the introduction of a bunch of people with various, amazing skill sets is intended as a set-up for the rest of the series. Those characters are mostly clichees. Enter the young, paranoid hacker, living in a wired dump, sourrounded by CCTV and swilling root beer. Et cetera.
I am sorry, I am not feeling it. I don’t like the main character, I am not connecting with the story at all. I keep finding other, more interesting things to do, just to avoid reading another chapter of this book. I am out. DNF at 21%.
I liked the artwork, the story didn’t do it for me. By issue #3 I was skimming.
Vader is the ultimate bad guy and seeing him not being the top dog was strange. I did like the glimpses into the parallels of the original Star Wars movies, but the storyline as a whole did not interest me.
I read, skimmed to 35% and Had to DNF. I could not continue with this.
The female main character is TSTL in such a monumental fashion that it was painful to read. I don’t care if it is on purpose and if she would have turned into Superwoman in the last three chapters. Nobody can be this ignorant. Squeeze eggs out of a chicken? Give me a break.
And I can’t develop any sympathies for a character that willfully lies and deceives and is stupid enough to think that she will get away with it.
There is no world building to speak of. Few descriptions of people or settings, I did not really get a mental picture of anything. The plot had potential and could have been fun, but lacked… not sure what. There were inconsistencies in the POV and also things that just didn’t make sense. For example, he is a rancher, she walks away from him with jingling spurs and he wonders where that noise is coming from. Is he deaf and directionally challenged? She wears boots that the mysterious person gave her and that she isn’t supposed to know about. He sees her take off those boots and…. nothing? I don’t know, everything just aggravated me about this book, I had to put it down.
In these cases I usually give two it-was-me-not-you stars. But this books annoyed me so much, I had to downgrade it to 1 star.
Thanks to the publisher for this freebie! Sorry, didn’t work for me!
Welcome to #6Degrees. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I am using this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. How the meme works and how you can join is explained here. The initial blog post about this month‘s choice is here.
This month‘s starting book is yet again one I haven‘t read…
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, about a 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow. I don‘t want to follow the same trodden path and the amount of books dealing with unhappy childhoods on my shelf is pretty limited, let‘s go with the author‘s last name. Bizarre, but it worked out in the end and my six degrees settled on children, birth and growing pains in different settings…
The Future Is Nigh (Mass Market Paperback) by C. Stuart Hardwick A collection of previously published short stories of winners of the Writers of the Future Contest. Length varies from 6 to 32 pages. Pretty decent collection. Three really excellent stories, one that didn‘t really do it for me and the rest was ok to fairly good. 4 stars overall.
My favourites: Martin L. Shoemaker, Today I Am Paul: My emotional winner. I want to hug this android so hard. / Marina J. Lostetter, Rats will Run: Great world building, imaginative flora and fauna. / William Ledbetter, Last House, Lost House: Great post-apocalyptic story with a nice twist.
“A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.“
“Your father is about to ask me the question. This is the most important moment in our lives, and I want to pay attention, note every detail.“
I liked the story and the characters. I have seen the movie several times and like it a lot. The most interesting for me were the differences from the story to the film. Would I have liked the story more or less, if I hadn‘t seen the movie? Did I like it more, because I like the movie? Despite the differences? Probably. Would I have understood the story as well without knowing the movie? Maybe. Did the story add layers to the movie? Possibly.
Another books about mothers and children, at least peripherally, is The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere #1) by Meg Elison. Loved the stroy, although it depressed the hell out of me at times. The audiobook was extremely well done as well. The main character waking up in a hospital and figuring out that the world has ended is a pretty tired idea by now. Nonetheless, the book started on full throttle and was great from the get-go. And horrific. By chapter three I had goosebumps allover and was close to crying. The story had an episodic feel to it, as it follows the midwife on her trip across the country, chronicling her encounters with various other survivors. Very graphic, with a realistic feel to it.
A short story set between the first and second Dreyfus novels. Should be read in chronological order. It gives a glimpse into something that was left open in The Prefect. The story itself is pretty grim.