Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in 2017, 4 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

Binti by Nnedi OkoraforBinti by Nnedi Okorafor

Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 90
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

My Thoughts:
This little 90 page novella is a whole lot of story.

One of the folks in my LibraryThing group mentioned this and since I hadn’t read much science fiction in a while I decided to give it a try. You should get your hands on this and read it.

It begins in Africa where Binti is the first of her people to go the University across the galaxy. The trip becomes a harrowing adventure for her but I’m not going to say anything else about the plot beyond what is in the synopsis above because it would be spoilerish.

I discovered that the author has written two more novellas in this series. The second is available but the third won’t be out until January.

Grab this book and the next for your next readathon.

4 starsRating 3/5

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Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg RuckaQueen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Norton and Steve Rolston

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #7 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 7 is a compilation of issues 25-28 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Still recovering from the death of her co-worker and lover, Tara Chace is granted a brief reprieve from London’s rain and MI6’s bureaucracy. This emotionally charged vacation take Chace to the slopes of Switzerland for a visit with old friends and family. But being an agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service leaves very little time for rest and Chace is quickly thrown into another mission of national importance. A junior minister with close ties to the Prime Minister appears to be selling state secrets to the Russians, and the Minders are assigned to quietly investigate. Tara is forced to walk a tight rope between the violent dangers inherent in the field of espionage and the discretion inherent in the bureaucracy of the government, all the while assuming the new position of Minder One and field-testing a new agent.

My Thoughts:
Another excellent volume in this well done spy thriller series.

Tara Chase is a spy for the British Government. She’s got issues and in the first issue she faces one of the major ones. Her mother. Tara’s time off is anyting but restful as she visits and clashes with her mother.

Once back at work, Tara is now the leader of her team. They have mission to find out what if anything a junior diplomat might be shopping to the Russians. Tara’s got a rookie agent with her on this one and things do not go well and not just because of the newbie. Real spies aren’t like James Bond. Sometimes they make mistakes.

This is tense and exciting spy thriller fiction. I like the recurring characters but there is always something and someone new with each story arc.

As is typical for this series there is a new artist for most of this story arc. While Steve Rolston returned for the first issue which has Tara’s trip to Switzerland. For the final three issues and the majority of the volume Mike Norton is the artist. I liked his work a lot. It’s all pretty stark black and white and the action in portrayed well.
You can see an excerpt here on Greg Rucka’s website

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review | 0 comments

The Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman with illustrations by Michael Manomivibul

Genre: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover and ebook
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: This edition 2013, originally 1975
Pages: 450
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Here William Goldman’s beloved story of Buttercup, Westley, and their fellow adventurers finally receives a beautiful illustrated treatment.

A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts—The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic.

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchman, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini—the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik—the gentle giant; Inigo—the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen—the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely adore the movie The Princess Bride. I had never read the book. The Hubster read it several years ago but for me it was one of those ebooks that got lost in my ereader. When we were in Ashland earlier this year we stopped in one of the bookstores and I spotted this beautiful hardcover edition with illustrations. I couldn’t resist. It was so beautiful I had to have it.

So now that I’ve read it I still adore the movie and I adore most of the book. The rest of the book was just OK.

Goldman has written this as fiction within fiction. This edition also has the introductions to both the 25th and 30th anniversary editions. Even those are part of the story within a story.

The parts I liked are the parts that are the story of The Princess Bride. I love that story even more. Reading it gave me a greater appreciation of how well Rob Reiner did with the movie. So much of it was perfectly translated to film. There things that are different of course but it’s still a fun and lovely story. I liked learning more about Inigo and Fezzik’s backgrounds.

The parts I didn’t like as much was the frame that Goldman built around The Princess Bride. He tells a fictional tale about himself hearing the book read by his father and later finding a copy for his (fictional) son. He presents his book as an abridgement of this fictional book. It’s all rather convoluted and layered and it’s fun but at times a distraction.

I’m glad I read this. The parts I loved mostly made up for the parts I only liked. I was not a fan of the epilogue with an explanation and story of the sequel Buttercup’s Baby. I think Goldman probably should have stopped at the end of The Princess Bride and left it at that.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for The Princess Bride parts and

3 stars 3/5 for the rest of it.

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Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb – Audio Edition

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, JD Robb | 0 comments

Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan EricksenImitation in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan Ericksen

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #17 in the In Death series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 2003
Length: 14 hours, 14 minutes
Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Summer, 2059. A man wearing a cape and a top hat approaches a prostitute on a dark, New York City street. Minutes later, the woman is dead. Left at the scene is a letter addressed to Lieutenant Eve Dallas, inviting her to play his game and unveil his identity. He signs it, ‘Jack.’

Now Dallas is in pursuit of a murderer who knows as much about the history of serial killers as she does. He has studied the most notorious and the most vicious slayings in modern times. But he also wants to make his own mark. He has chosen his victim: Eve Dallas. And all Eve knows is that he plans to mimic the most infamous murderers of all — starting with Jack the Ripper…

My Thoughts:
This series has long been a guilty pleasure of mine. The mix of police procedural, romance and just slightly in the future science fiction elements is a lot of fun.

When I read the previous book in the series it was the first one I’d listened to instead of reading. I will not go back to print for this series. Susan Ericksen is an excellent narrator. Her accents and voice characterizations for the regular characters match perfectly with what my brain created when I read the print editions.

The mystery in this one was interesting and the investigation kept me guessing.

My favorite supporting character in this series is Eve’s aide Peabody. She cracks me up. In this book she’s nervously studying and preparing for her detective’s exam. The utterly predictable outcome had me a little teary with joy.

 

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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Secret Path by Gord Downie

Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Secret Path by Gord Downie with art by Jeff LemireSecret Path by Gord Downie with art by Jeff Lemire

Genre: History
Format: Music plus graphic novel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 96
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.

Chanie’s story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history—the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system—with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this book and music in my LibraryThing group. I was immediately interested because Jeff Lemire did the artwork and as you know he’s one of my favorites. It wasn’t readily available but I was able to get a copy throuth interlibrary loan.

This is much more than the graphic novel. The music is an integral part of Chanie’s story. The only text in the graphic novel is the lyrics to the songs by Downie.

Secret Path Screenshot

After reading the book I watched the animated film that was created from Downie’s music and Lemire’s art. It’s about an hour long but in my opinion the best way to experience this story.

In all of it’s formats Chanie Wenjack’s story is heartbreaking. In the music of Gord Downie and the art of Jeff Lemire it is one of the most beautifully heart wrenching stories I’ve ever experienced.

This is the film which is about an hour long followed by an hour long panel discussion. Secret Path is bookended by Downie’s visits with Charlie’s family. Save this link and watch it when you have time.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Roughneck by Jeff LemireRoughneck by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Gallery 13
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 272
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Derek Ouelette’s glory days are behind him. His hockey career ended a decade earlier in a violent incident on ice, and since then he’s been living off his reputation in the remote northern community where he grew up, drinking too much and fighting anyone who crosses him. But he never counts on his long-lost sister, Beth, showing up one day out of the blue, back in town and on the run from an abusive boyfriend. Looking to hide out for a while, the two siblings hunker down in a secluded hunting camp deep in the local woods. It is there that they attempt to find a way to reconnect with each other and the painful secrets of their past…even as Beth’s ex draws closer, threatening to pull both Derek and Beth back into a world of self-destruction that they are fighting tooth and nail to leave behind.

My Thoughts:
Yes. I know, another Lemire. He’s being rather prolific this year and I can’t help it. I love his work and this one is no exception.

For this one he’s back to doing his own artwork. He has a distinctive style and I’m happy to see it again. He’s done the main story is blues, white and black. It’s the colors of the landscape in wintertime in remote northern Canada. He’s done the flashbacks in more color as well as the danger and violence in the present to underscore the connection.

The story, as with much of Lemire’s work, deals with emotional issues. It’s about family dysfunction, loss, healing, and breaking the cycles of violence and abuse. It’s a dark story but one that draws you in and tugs at your emotions.

Here’s a video from the publisher that include some of the first few pages and some comments from Jeff Lemire.

I know I always highly recommend Lemire’s work but seriously do yourself a favor and read this one.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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