Sunday, January 31, 2010

Recent Library Thing Reviews

I've been reading a broad variety of books recently, and some of these I have done brief reviews of on Library Thing. Here are a few. For all my LT reviews, go to:

Avram Davidson is a master of short fiction but I had heard his novels, few as they are, didn't measure up. I was expecting a flub; that's not what I got.

Davidson adopts a voice in writing the Kar-Chee Reign that remains consistent and convincing throughout, and is a subtle alternative to many of the voices found in SF. The writing is evocative, the characters are interesting and the story and its underpinnings are complex and well-crafted. The aliens _are_ alien, their purpose aloof from the fate of humankind but huge in its impact, and the differing perceptions of the humans guide their responses to the aliens in intriguing ways. Like much of Davidson's fiction it is thoughtful and thorough rather than explosive and thrilling. A quiet, intelligent read. ( )
flagJan 22, 2010 | edit | |
So good I gave it away to my sister. Beautifully made book and wonderful poems. ( )
flagJan 20, 2010 | edit | |
Davidson spent the '60s in British Honduras. As always a sponge for nuance and perspective, he wrote a series of stories set in the invented country of British Hidalgo. The Limekiller stories feature an ex-pat Canadian who makes his living on the waterways and encounters locals, both human and creature, in a land where magic is part of the atmosphere and talk is slow and sweet. Like spending a month in a land that never was. (Pity.) ( )
flag1 other review | Jan 20, 2010 | edit | |
This book is a mixed bag, one I enjoyed reading for its wonderful turns of phrase and flights of fancy (to quote a couple of worthy cliches). It's not real strong on plot and being of another age I don't buy a lot of the author's views on things -- which since this is a moralizing tale it is not easy to overlook. But still, lots to mine here, and a soothing read at a difficult time. ( )
flag16 other reviews | Jan 19, 2010 | edit | |
This small, unassuming book makes clear and grounding sense. Appendices include useful gatthas for rooting prayer in your daily life. I destress just reading it! ( )
flagJan 17, 2010 | edit | |
I'm not normally a reader of this genre but I found this book a real page-turner -- I read 259 pp in one evening!!! Kong has firm control of her story and the plot rolls out at a good pace. ( )
flag2 other reviews | Jan 14, 2010 | edit | |
What an intriguing book! Coney has a deft touch with setting and character. I was hoodwinked into wondering if he had gone suddenly sexist until I figured out that it was the viewpoint character who was incapable of seeing women as human beings, but always as reflections of his own desires and prejudices. Questions of ethics and human rights mix here with strange science and daring young men in their gliding machines. An odd and fun and ultimately subtle fiction. ( )
flagJan 12, 2010 | edit | |
I enjoyed this book. I had to shift my expectations a little -- let it be what it was instead of what I am used to. Once I let go, I was along for a passionate and fascinating ride. Suitable for lovers of historical fiction, mysticism, feminism, and even, in its own way, romance. The romance here being of a celibate sort, between humans and between a woman and her deity. ( )
flagJan 9, 2010 | edit | |
The writing is solid and pleasing, the ideas are good, and the basic plot is well told. Broxon has thought deeply about her subject and done good research, giving especially the modern parts of the book a ring of truth. My only wish is that she had better developed the archetypal characters so that there was greater impact on me as a reader as their subplot unfolded. My impression, too, is that the Horned God and Goddess bit is borrowed from Wicca, and is not actual Celtic mythos. Nevertheless, recommended for those interested in Ireland and Irish history, as well as in the struggle for peace. ( )
flag1 other review | Dec 31, 2009 | edit | |
It's a strange feeling when I finally read something that I've heard of is a classic -- though in this case which I had not heard of AT ALL before hearing it was a classic -- and then suddenly being swept away with enthusiasm for that book and wishing everyone interested in the subject had the opportunity to read it. [We] by [[Yevgeny Zamyatin]] was mentioned by [Ursula LeGuin] in an essay, I think in [[The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction]], as being both a wonderful book and very important in the history of science fiction. I finally stumbled across a copy, in which I learn that it was written between 1920 and 1921 in Russia where, at the time of publication, it had still never been published. It was this book that inspired the later dystopian works [[1984]] and [[Brave New World]]. It is written in a more stylized, you could say alien, fashion, although the characters are human. Highly recommended, both as a novel in itself, and as a spyglass into our genre's (and our world's) history. ( )
1 vote flag56 other reviews | Dec 27, 2009 | edit | |
John Little handles his themes masterfully. I was drawn in from the first pages and read the entire book in one sitting -- NOT my usual pace. Good characters, good story, good setting -- an excellent book.

Pity that the publisher went under. The book will be hard to find -- here's hoping another publisher takes it on. ( )
flagDec 15, 2009 | edit | |
I wasn't sure when I opened this one if I would enjoy it. Page by page as plot, characters, and themes developed I was drawn in until I finished, thoroughly satisfied. A _good_ book.

De Lint explores themes of oppression, environmental responsibility, spirituality and honour in an action-packed futuristic novel. ( )
flag1 other review | Dec 9, 2009 | edit | |
God, O'Brien is good!

Once I get over the fact that this reads unlike a normal a novel with its clear plot and obvious arc, but as an almost poeticly observed stream of consciousness, I settle into the sheer pleasure of it. The first 80-some pp are a child's eye view of life in Ireland in the 60s (50s?). Brings [Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man] to mind in some ways.

The child looks around herself at what others are doing, at the small details of life and landscape, and as she grows this continues. Also as she grows, life gets more complicated. There is much truth, much beauty, and much sorrow in this novel, all given the same weight in the telling. A wonderful book. ( )
flagOct 30, 2009 | edit | |
First published in 1900, Sister Nivedita's essays about the language and symbolism of religion, informed by culture, and about Shiva and Kali themselves shed precious light on this feared deity and her people. ( )
flagOct 26, 2009 | edit | |

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