What a book!

January 8, 2011

Review: Towers of Midnight

Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time, #13; Memory of Light, #2)Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wheel of Time series is back and has shaken off the sloggy funk it was in from Winter’s Heart clear through to Knife of Dreams. Gone are many of the entire physical descriptions (hips and bosoms for women, mustachios for men) and life histories of characters whose only role was to utter one line and then exit the story. Now there are battles and skirmishes and political machinations and plots that actually seem to advance the story. And the Last Battle is no longer the talked-about thing it’s been for the past 13 books, it is here.

Some people I know liked The Gathering Storm, the last book, more than this one, but, while I enjoyed Gathering Storm, I enjoyed this one much better. I found myself anxiously waiting to either go to work or leave for home at the end of the day so I could hear what happened next (obviously, I had the audio version).

As promised by the supernatural effect of ta’veren Rand,, Mat and Perrin, all the storylines and characters are coming together, so this penultimate book in the epic series is a satisfying setup to the finale, A Memory of Light, which, I have read, is due out next year.

Michael Kramer and Kate Reading once again read the audio version, switching off based on the character being followed by the narrative. Each gives an excellent, un-self-conscious performance (and let’s be honest, nerds, reading fantasy out loud can easily make you feel self-conscious) and I marvel at how they have managed to, over 13 books, keep true to the accents of the different nationalities, races and creatures they introduced in the first book.

If you dropped the series for the same reasons I was thinking of dropping it, force yourself through the sloggy bits so you can get to the end. You’ll be glad you did.

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October 14, 2010

Review: Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

Filed under: Audiobooks,Food,Non-fiction — mike @ 5:49 pm
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Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild FoodFour Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paul Greenberg does a terrific job of summing up a complicated subject in this book. With farmed animals, genetically modified animals, environmental and habitat destruction for animals much on everyone’s mind, this book offers a balanced and well-reasoned look at the four main fish mankind has fished for food (although Greenberg does sneak a few more in here and there).

That it’s written in such an easily engaging manner without dumbing the subject matter down is a plus. And he does not really beat the drum for any one cause (nor does he get preachy). Of course the book offers no quick and easy solutions, but one book can’t really do that, I am afraid.

Some may find the state of the wild fish stocks detailed in this book depressing. And it is. But don’t let that stop you from reading the whole book. The epilogue/lament at the end sums up his point of view (hint, the section is labeled “Conclusion”) and, while the depressing aspects of the book are revisited (Greenberg is a fisherman himself, and he can only be saddened by the decline of wild fish stocks), he still holds out hope that man can fix things, and not just through technology.

You will like this book: If you liked “Cod” by Mark Kurlansky (which is referenced in this book), you will enjoy and be interested in this one. As a side note, I am going to read “Trying Leviathan” now as a result of its inclusion in this book. Apparently, a whale was considered a fish for a lot longer than necessary because a reactionary response by a jury in New York in an oil labeling dispute.

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August 27, 2010

Review: Blockade Billy

Blockade BillyBlockade Billy by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An enjoyable non-horror-ish novella from Stephen King.

King is a baseball nut, but he doesn’t bog down the story in too much baseball detail. If you aren’t into the sport, you might feel a little disinterested, but, as usual, King drops enough juicy tidbits to keep you reading. And, as usual, King drops enough vulgar colloquialisms to keep you laughing throughout. You feel like you’re really listening to an old baseball codger in a rest home eager to talk to somebody about something, anything, as long as he doesn’t have to join the virtual bowling group.

I listened to this as an in-between-books book. It was short, light and fun. Craig Wasson is a great reader, although I felt his voice sounded a little too young for the character who was narrating. But it’s a minor quibble. He does a terrific job otherwise.

I did not listen to the other story in this edition, ‘Morality’, as I had read it when it was originally published in Esquire. I didn’t like it as much then and so was ready to move on to my next audio book.

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