January 2nd, 2010

Book Review: Love Conquers All by Fred Saberhagen

From the back cover: The world turned upside down.  Sexual Freedom: There are no limits on where, why, when, how, or with whom.  The only dirty word is "No".  Freedom from want: Zero Population Growth has been achieved and at last the world's resources have caught up with demand.  But, you pay a price.  Decency is a social offense.  Right to life of the unborn is zero -- even its mother cannot protect an "unauthorized fetus".  Is is worth it?  Or is rampant, coercive liberalism the worst tyranny of all?  In the tradition of Brave New World and 1984, Love Conquers All is a realistic assessment of certain trends in our society taken to their logical conclusions: the result is a scathing science fiction indictment of our generations most cherished shibboleths.  This is iconoclasm in grand style.

The story is about a man named Art Rodney.  He comes home from work one bright sunny southern Californian day and finds a note from his wife has left because she is pregnant, taking their two children with her.  She wants to have the baby, which would be against the law since they already have two children.  To follow the law she would be forced to have the fetus aborted.  The story follows Art as he sets off to find his wife, to try to get her to follow the law.  In the course of story Saberhagen describes a society where promiscuity is normal (even wearing non-transparent clothes is considered dirty and words like "chastity" and "sublimation" are curse words).  No the story is not pornographic, for all the descriptions of actual intercourse included the characters might as well be playing tiddlywinks.  Although at times I had trouble believing the world Saberhagen creates (where men go to brothels to pay women not to have sex, but just talk) the book is entertaining and I found myself identifying with Art despite my reservations about the society in which he lives.  Saberhagen does a good job with his hero, giving him all the contradictions of a real person. 

The story was originally published in 1974 and it is definitely a product of the pre-AIDS era, with no mention of contraception at all except after the fact.  Would I compare it to Brave New World (one of my favorites) and 1984?  No.  It is not bad as older science fiction goes and it has its moments, but it is not that good.  Is the story an effective as a indictment of liberal values?  Yes and no.  I found myself sympathizing with the Christians in the story, who wanted to remain virgins and used artificial wombs to allow the fetuses of women wanted their illegal children preserved, and despite the Malthusian nightmare that we might face the idea of mandatory abortions is abhorrent.  But, the society illustrated and the way it casually deals with sexuality is just to far fetched to be believed or feared.  We're all way to neurotic for things to go that far.

100 Books in 2009!!

Well, I was determined to make it to 100 books this year, and I did it -- but just barely. It was right down to the wire at the end there. In the process, I learned some things about myself and my reading habits/interests.

The books I read, in chronological order by date I completed them, can be viewed in this post. (It's a long list, so I won't recreate it here. Also, please note that I haven't finished writing up my reviews yet, so not all links are functional at the moment. I hope to finish that up this weekend.)

Favorites: East of Eden, The Name of the Wind, Atlas of Unknowns, Bird by Bird, If on a winter's night a traveler, Farewell My Concubine

Disappointments: The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri, The Last Lecture, The Shortest Distance Between Two Women, Skeletons at the Feast

Kitty: Angry Calico

Andrews, Ilona: Magic Burns

Magic Burns (2008)
Written by: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260 (Mass Market Paperback)

The premise: ganked from BN.com: As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels knows how waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shape shifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug of war between two gods hoping for rebirth, and if Kate can't stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: this book DEFINITELY outshines the debut. Kate's no where near as bitchy, the plot and pacing is MUCH stronger, and the gore factor isn't near as high. There's just a lot of great things going for this book, and we learn more about Kate's origins and that of how this world really works, and that's great. I wanted to read the third book as soon as I finished the second, but I didn't have it (a mistake now corrected, it's in my TBR pile now), so that should say something about how far this series has come between the first and second installments alone. It's a fun, fast read, so if you read Magic Bites and weren't too impressed, definitely give Magic Burns a shot before making your final verdict on the series. Trust me, it's MUCH BETTER. In fact, the only thing I don't like about Magic Burns is that the title is too similar to Magic Bites and I keep confusing the two.

Review style: no need for spoilers with this one, so rest assured. The full review is in my LJ if you're interested, and as always, comments and discussion are most welcome.


Happy Reading! :)

Review - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Rating: 5/5 stars
Pages: 169

Summary: It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words: DON’T PANIC.

The weekend has only just begun…

Thoughts: I had been meaning to read this book for a couple of years, but never got around to getting a copy. So when a friend finally just gave me a copy for Christmas, I knew I had no reason to wait.  ( read the rest of my review here )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606


Hello. I'm new. I'd just like to introduce myself. My name is Mandy. I'll be posting some book reviews soon. I hope I am doing this right. I am a member of Bookfails and Bookwins so I'll be doing some cross posting.\
Dorky Percival

Books read in 2009

I know, I'm late posting this! I've really enjoyed all of your 2009 reading lists. I read 53 books in 2008, but I read 124 books last year. Collapse )

Favorite ten new books of the year (new to me, that is – they may have been published at any time. I’m also not counting books that I read for the first time in a previous year, even if I loved them when I re-read them this year, including any and all Jane Austen novels and Barbara Kingsolver novels, plus The Great Gatsby and Cannery Row, etc):

1. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
3. There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene
4. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
5. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
6. American Sphinx by Joseph Ellis
7. The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart
8. No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
9. Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
10. The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Feel free to recommend new books!
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Anne Rice's Blood Canticle or Dude, where's my personality?


I'm very new to this group. It was recommended to me. I hope I am doing this right. I was going to post a scathing review of Twilight but I just read that those aren't welcome right now. You can find my Twilight review on amazon and the Internet movie data base. On Amazon I'm Amanda Pike, and on The Internet movie data base I'm JTheGoblinKing.

Since the Twilight review isn't really welcome here's my review of Anne Rice's Blood Canticle. I actually wrote this for a fan group back in 2003 so this is a re-post.

I hope I am doing this right. Please forgive me if I'm not. I pretty much got chased out of a Dresden Files fan group because I posted my first few messages wrong and it's left me reluctant to join new groups.

Book Review of
Blood Canticle by Anne Rice:
Dude, where's my personality?
Reviewed by Amanda Pike

I call this book review: 'Dude, where's my personality?' Lestat acts nothing like himself in this book.Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Blood and Mold

A review of Anne Rice's Blood and Gold

Blood and Gold is the Vampire Chronicle by Anne Rice about her Roman Vampire Marius, whose back story is first told to us in the novel The Vampire Lestat. Much like with The Vampire Armand (whose story is also first told in The Vampire Lestat) I think it would be best for most people to just stick with the earlier books.

Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

A pretty picture

In roughly three weeks Dorian Gray starring Ben Barnes comes to DVD in the UK (and I intend to buy it. I have a region free DVD player and sadly there was never a US release of this film). I haven't seen this film version yet and I know it strays from the original novel but that's not the worst thing in the world. I've seen a version where Basil was a woman and it was set in the nineteen sixties with really bad acting. Now that was terrible. And there's also the 1944 version of The Canterville Ghost that turned it into World War 2 propaganda. So I don't mind what they've done with the Ben Barnes version of Dorian Gray.

But since I am waiting for this adaptation I would like to write a review now for the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I LOVE the work of Oscar Wilde. Allow me to stress that. I absolutely love the work of Oscar Wilde. My two favourite works of his are The Canterville Ghost and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

The pros and cons of dating a ghost

Invisible Boyfriend?

A review of R. A. Dick's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Review by Amanda Pike

I have an invisible boyfriend! Really...

(This picture of the book cover has the author's real name. It was originally published under the name R. A. Dick.)

Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

An Under-Rated vampire novel

Demon under Glass is a very under-rated and unique vampire novel far unlike the works of Stephenie Meyers. Demon Under Glass was written at the same time as the screenplay for the film was being written (and by the same person). I have to tell you though that the novel is a far superior entity.

Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Armand is one sick little vampire

I love Anne Rice's earlier books: Interview with the vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The queen of the damned, and even (for comic relief) Tale of the body thief but as some of you already know I completely dislike her later books (anything of hers after 1995).

Tonight I want to discuss The Vampire Armand. The Vampire Armand's entire story was told in a chapter of The Vampire Lestat novel over twenty years earlier. That chapter had been called The Vampire Armand.

Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Until Twilight came along I thought this was the worst vampire series ever written

Until Twilight came along
I thought this book was the worst vampire series ever written.
(Boy, was I mistaken!)

Almost two decades after writing The Hunger, Whitley Strieber decided not to write one but two sequels. Whitley Strieber is very obsessed with aliens and once told The Scifi Channel's (now Syfy) Sightings that he would not write anymore books unless the aliens came back (he's claimed to have seen them). I guess they must have come back...

Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

The man who fell to Earth

Revisions are bad, m'kay...

I am not sure if this counts as a book fail or just a revision fail. I happen to like the novel The Man who fell to Earth (adapted into a very hard to follow film starring David Bowie and a pilot for a never-aired TV series). But the revised version of the novel (the only version currently in print) is lacking...

Collapse )
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Glittering Stardust

In 2007 I read Stardust by Neil Gaiman (writer of MirrorMask) and it's really a good book. I think it would appeal to any Labyrinth fan. I love it but I don't care for the epilogue. I know a lot of people like to compare it to The Princess Bride but I think it's actually closer to The Last Unicorn.

The main character, Tristran, is the son of a mortal and a slave kept by a witch in the realm of faerie. The story begins in a town near a wall that separates the magical world from the human world. When there is a falling star Tristran promises to retrieve it for a girl he is infatuated with. He is unaware that the star has taken the form of a young woman in the faerie world and that there are others after her too. Three elderly witches who want to use her heart to become young again, and some bickering princes.

It's a really good story and it has a relatively happy ending except for the epilogue with of course talks about the death of a mortal character after years of marriage to an immortal one.
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

The Canterville ghost

Let me start by saying I LOVE Oscar Wilde. I LOVE his work. Love it. I've even pre-ordered the British DVD of Dorian Gray with Ben Barnes since it never had a US release and I trained my computer to be able to play region 2 DVDs. I know it's not very faithful to the books but it has to be better than the 2006 version that was badly acted and made Basil a woman and set it in the 1960s.

My two favourite works by Oscar Wilde are The Picture of Dorian Gray and the novella, The Canterville Ghost.

Collapse )

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (Non-fiction, science, medicine)

I recently finished Bad Science and it really is essential reading. I know I've used that description for a few non-fiction books this year, but this one really is top of the pile - seems I was saving the best until last. From Complementary and Alternative Medicine, to TV Nutritionalists, PR Companies, Pharmaceutical Companies, Health Scares, the role of the Media and the truly chilling chapter 'The Doctor will Sue You Now', Ben Goldacre dissects the claims made and the science (or lack of) behind them with humanity and humour.

And it is always 'a bit more complicated than that'

Do yourself a favour and read it. (and yes, actually, I did know off the top of my head the difference between median, mode and mean :) )

New Year Resolutions, Anyone?

So0 I have many New Year's resolutions this year, but reading at least (if not more) a book a week is one of them. I am a little jealous of all those lucky readers in this community who have read one-hundred books in a year! I hope I can reach that goal this year too, maybe! Anyways, I've decided that after each book I'll write a "mini" review and then what I will be reading soon, I would appreciate feedback on the books that I will be reading, to know what you guys thought of them before I start, thanks! Also, do you guys have any New Year resolutions (sorry off topic). Back on topic...who here has heard of Book Depository? bookdepository.co.uk is a UK website, sending books around the world with no shipping fee! This is really convenient for me, as I am from Israel, where I am severely lacking in a good English selection of books.

Just finished:
1. Sputnik Sweetheart - Haruki Murakami
- I really enjoyed this authors style of writing, the book was intriguing and interesting. I ended up just recently ordering another book by this author called "Norwegian Wood."
2. Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
- This is the second book I have read by Palahniuk and again I must say he certainly has a unique writing style, mostly grotesque, but very interesting. This was a fast read and had a totally shocking ending.

Currently reading:
3. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
- I am only about sixty pages in, while I don't always agree with the authors opinions, I love how it is told from a very personal point of view, I feel as though Gilbert has become one of my close friends as I listen to her openly speak about her life and her travels towards finding balance.

Next up:
4. Norweigian Wood - Haruki Murakami
5. All books of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
7. Metamorphosis - Kafka
8. Notes from the Unuderground - Dostoevsky
  • lutine

(no subject)

Here are the 139 books I read in 2009. My goal was 200, but I made that goal shortly before finding out I was pregnant. It's harder than I thought to find time to read with an infant! I don't think I'm going to record my books this year - it was too stressful to worry about typing them in before I forgot, and worrying about the amount. Maybe in 2011 I'll give it a try again. ^.~

Collapse )