Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I want to give it a 5 star just for the premise: 20 years after WWII, what would the world be like if Japan and Germany had won. Isn't that great!? Unfortunately, history is not my strong suit so my imagination can only go so far. I liked how all of the characters had separate lives that interconnected. I liked the plot and even the resolution. However, the writing made me feel like I was squinting the whole time. Lots of fragmented sentences. Building action whose climax was sometimes only a sentence that you had to read twice to make sure you understood. The characters had lots of deep thoughts about race, art, history, etc. but often their actions were dreamlike, or trancelike without a lot of you were constantly wondering why are you doing this? Maybe that was deliberate? So in summary, liked the premise, writing style not so much.

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Big Little Lies

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is chick lit. But some of the best done chick lit I've read. The way Moriarty gets into the heads of her characters, you will recognize not only your friends and acquaintances, you'll recognize yourself. This books title may suggest it is about lies, but is more about bullying. Bulllying that happens on the playground (Mama Bear attack!...wait what if the bully is your kid? What if it is your friends kid?); bullying that happens between moms (which is better, sahm vs. working moms); bullying that happens in marriage and between sex partners; and maybe most significantly the bullying we do to ourselves. What voices do we choose to listen to? What judgements (and hence bullying, even if it is only a cold shoulder) do we participate in? How do we truly break free from being suseptible to bullying?

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Red Rising

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the better distopian novels I've read. Th opening chapters are seemed like a cross between Hunger Games , Divergent, and Percy Jackson ....and not in a good way. First person present tense (again...why is that the POV of choice lately?), I could see the twists coming and the prose was too purple....But then, about 5 chapters in, the book just took flight. The twists and turns came fast and furious and I quit trying to guess what was going to happen next and just enjoyed the ride, sitting on the edge of my seat, and one hand over my eye, so to speak, as I followed the fates of several favorite characters, none of whom were guaranteed to live. Thoroughly enjoyable....does have some pretty graphic violence, so I would warn potentially sensitive YA readers.

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

feast or famine

Why is it that those with phobias of water always seem to drown?
I am not afraid of water.
I am terrified of its opposite.

Pharaoh had the same nightmare:
Seven swollen cows grazed blithely in the sun.
Seven skinny kine rose from the river
Their bloodshot eyes bulging in their skeletal heads.
There was not much of a chsase.
The fat cows sat bloated in the sun chewing their cud in that lazy way
When those sinewy cattle struck fiercely,
Suckling their teats, cows bleating in horror, before consuming them whole.
Then the sun shone harsh on the
Seven sickly devils standing giant and grotesque
In that washed out scene.

Lucky for Pharoh, pyramids can hold grain,
     hold back the famine,
     keep the nightmare at bay.
So Joseph and Pharoh hoarded the grain
And the nightmares stopped.

I cup my hands upward to catch the rain
But it dribbles down my wrists,
Leaks through my fingers.
I cannot hold it.
I cock back my head,
Drink as though to drown.

O, how I love the water!
How it sings down my throat,
     jingle bells splashing through me,
Cold, clear, angelic mirrors
     making me beautiful, joyful.
A thousand rainbows locked into each drop.

I drink until my belly distends and my eyes buldge--
     wanting to hold it all inside.
But in the morning I am still thirsty.

In desperation, I built a dam to stop the water's retreat;
Built it carefully, soundly, impentatriable,
A lifetime supply stymied.
But as the waters rise
The panic does not ebb.
Is it enough?
Will it hold?
And though my throat burns
     my tounge swollen,
     my breath rattling,
I ration the liquid with military diligence.

I cannot lose it.
I cannot lose it.

My dam is full.
The sun gilds it with gold during the day.
At night, the dark echos in its depths.
My body longs to plunge
     headfirst, feeling the wetness pull up through my body,
     bubbles giggling past my skin,
     eyes straining to see beyond.
Gravity scorned, my body light and lithe
     dances through seaweed
     shimmies past sound.
But my face and my feet remain dry.
I cannot risk contamination.

Sometimes I hate it though!
Hate how it prunes my fingers
    and stings my eyes
Hate how its presence turns breeze to gale,
    earth to mud,
    fire to ashes.
But mostly I hate how one day I know I will lose it.

Funny thing how stagnet water turns bitter and brown.
I have built a dam and
I held it in.
But the rainbows have left.
Alone in the barren landscape,
My nightmare realized,
I sit beside the acrid water,
While salt water wets my cheeks.

I have other dreams now:
Meager rations lay in the larder
While soldiers tax the buxom ears--
     a famine before the dearth.
Could Joseph forsee
Baiting his people to enslavement--
Building pyramids
With bricks of Hebrew blood?

Perhaps the hydrophones were wrong to try to stay dry.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.
Loved this space opera!  The pacing is superb!  You can tell Leckie homed her skills in short fluff here!  At first I thought it was crazy original having an AI operate through multiple bodies as well as the ship, but then, isn't that Seven of Nine?  Notwithstanding, Leckie did an excellent job of making you feel like Justice of Toren (aka One Esk, who is now Breq)..,a huge literary feat.  My only complaint is with Sievarden....hopefully his character is fleshed out in upcoming installments.  I enjoyed the linguistic elements in the book; how different languages can't always translate and how the culture shapes the language or vice versa.  Like how One Esk couldn't see gender because her language didn't differentiate genders.  At first I found that lack of pronoun differentiation confusing and frustrating as I pictured (characters like Sievarden first as a girl, then had to recast him as a boy. But I also appreciated the discovery of my bias for gender roles...I felt compassion and concern when I thought Sievarden was a girl, then when I realized he was a man, I found him weak and pitiful.  But I think the point is that regardless of gender people can be empathetic, power hungry, brave, etc.   All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will read on in the series.</["br"]>

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