Tag Archives: book reviews
Post by Mark T. Locker
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.
First of all, I know what you are thinking. No, it’s not THAT book. Shades of Grey predates that OTHER book by a full two years and, from what I know of 50 Shades, is utterly unlike it in any way.
Jasper Fforde is a British mystery novelist who has written a number of clever and entertaining series of novels. This unusual dystopian novel revolves around a young man named Eddie Russett. In this far-off future, people are broken into classes determined by what color they perceive. Eddie is a Red, which is the lowest end of the spectrum. Violets are the top dogs. Greys are nearly worthless. It is a strange and highly regimented world, all built on the rather odd laws of a man named Munsell. One of the most intrusive laws is the outlawing of spoon production, which makes spoons highly sought-after. Also, one must never, EVER marry a complimentary color. Imagine the scandal!
Eddie and his father are sent from their urban home to the far-off town of East Carmine, where Eddie is to perform a chair senseless as a punishment for “lack of humility”. When he meets a fiery Grey named Jane, his life slowly is turned upside-down as he begins to look at society in a new way.
What’s most interesting is that the first thing we learn is that Jane has pushed Eddie into a giant man-eating Yataveo tree, which will slowly digest him. He is narrating from inside the tree. I enjoyed this book quite a bit; I like Jasper Fforde and his tongue-in-cheek style, the classic understated British humorist.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
One of the benefits of reading a science fiction novel, especially one which twenty-five years old, is that it is bound to come as a smallish paperback which means it is easy to hold in one hand while I read on my side in my bed. I have had several books eagerly awaiting my attention on my bedside table, but the others are all large hardcover books with huge pages; it’s simply too much of a pain to need both hands and to be propped up to read in bed!
This is probably the main reason I picked up Ender’s Game. A friend had once inexplicably given me Ender’s Shadow which is apparently the FIFTH book in the series, despite the fact I had never read the previous four. I brought it with me to Beijing on a trip, again, most probably because it was a smallish paperback and therefore quite portable. To be honest, I don’t remember anything about that book other than its length and its size.
I have heard lots about Ender’s Game; tons of people absolutely adore it. I’m not sure I would go that far. It was a good story and seeing these child soldiers in training, learning how to battle in zero gravity is interesting. And watching the mind of the genius boy Andrew “Ender” Wiggin as he figures out situations is fun to watch unfold. But there’s just so much cruelty, so much that is just cold calculation on Ender’s part…it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. Until finally, towards the end, the kids stop being total jerks. Hooray! All told, it is a good and captivating story and Card is an engaging author. But I’m not rushing out to get the second in the series.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Attention: this bedtime story is approved for adults only! Read it aloud to your spouse or partner, or the pet you believe, to an unhealthy extent, is a suitable replacement for a spouse or partner. However you choose to go about it, by all means go about it. David Thorne’s book, previously published on his website 27b/6 is well worth reading if you are not easily offended and have a good sense of humor.
The bulk of this book is email correspondences the author has engaged in, clearly for his own amusement. Generally the people he engages with have asked him for something or behaved in some manner which has pissed him off and he engages them in often lengthy logorrheic email exchanges. In the end, David either gets away with something by sheer tenacity, or manages to make the other party look like complete jerks which, oftentimes, they are.
From wearing down a poor Blockbuster Video rep until she finds herself forgiving all his fines to letting bigots who write him to tell them how much they hate him show their true colors, his shameless and hilarious correspondences are funny and also (for my part at least) always seem to put people in their place. It’s a fun read when you don’t want to commit to a long story. I love it. If you don’t…contact the author.
p.s. Extra points if you can figure out the origin of the name 27b/6!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I came across this at a local coffee shop and thumbed through it, expecting it to be full of all the usual wacky and weird things that every Oregonian knows, like the Vortex and the Shanghai Tunnels which supposedly were used to send unwitting and drunken sailors to slavery. But to my surprise, this book is well-researched and offers fascinating tidbits that I’ve never even heard of. We’ve all heard of Sasquatch but I never knew that Colossal Claude, Wallowa Wally and Marvin the Monster troll the Oregon waters! Not to mention the Melrose Creep, and all the myriad haunted haunts in this mostly Wild West state.
And let’s not forget all the fun the Rajneeshis brought to Antelope, Oregon in the 80s! And if you have never heard of the Enchanted Forest, it’s high time you did.
Everyone seems to talk about Portland these days and if you are taking a trip out here you would be remiss if you didn’t reference this off-beat historic, cultural, and tour guide to Oregon. And if Oregon’s not your thing, not to worry; there seems to be a “Weird” book for every state in the union. Happy travels!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Ever since J.K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter, adults have been regularly usurping children’s and young adult literature for their own enjoyment, especially the bottomless pit of fantasy and sci-fi fiction series. Well, once in a while a book comes along for adults which will satisfy the puerile thirst for magic and escape from the realm of the ordinary, and you get to do so under the guise of proper grown-up literature and look all fancy on the bus. (The spine label even reads “Fiction” not “Horror” or “Romance”!)
The most recent of these that I have come across is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus. It is, as you may guess, about a nocturnal circus, but it is also about so much more. It’s about rival magicians raising children to compete against each other in the showdown to end all showdowns. It’s about really cool clocks. And contortionists and twins with strange powers.
Set in the late nineteenth century, it is reminiscent of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is about Victorian gentlemanly English magicians. But it is also very much its own novel. It revolves around the worlds of a strange circus, and those within it and those outside it. It’s lovely to read, and gives you great stuff for dreams.