Saturday, November 26, 2016

Radiance

by Catherynne M. Valente

Decopunk. That's the word in the Unshelved book review that roped me into reading this book. Having encountered cyberpunk and steampunk before, I had to see what decopunk looks like. So what is decopunk? Um, I'm not quite sure. You see, the story also uses that old, old sci-fi trope that the planets of the solar system are habitable. Plus it's set in the heart of that universe's Hollywood. The era of big studios and movie star royalty. I, er, got so caught up in the book's world that I didn't bother to look for or consider and decopunkness.

Anyway, Radiance is a tale about Severin Unck, the daughter of a famous film director who becomes a filmaker herself. Between her childhood, completely documented--or rather, dramatized--by her father, and her own work, she becomes quite famous. That fame only increases when she disappears during her final shoot. The story of her life is told in flashback--switching between eras, jumping from production to production. In the process, the story reveals not only the mystery but also the rich universe Ms. Valente created for her characters to run around in. It was an enjoyable journey.

  Check it out!
LibraryThing link

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Black Horses for the King

by Anne McCaffrey

First read in April of 2006

It's now on my shelf.
LibraryThing link

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Herbert Hoover: A Life

by Glen Jeansonne

Growing up, I was fed the popular view of Herbert Hoover--he was a meek little man who had the misfortune to be president when the stock market crashed and was unable to do anything to fix it. Glen Jeansonne, however, would have you believe that Herbert Hoover was a great man. He made a believer out of me.

While Hoover certainly didn't end the Great Depression, he did fill his long life with other great accomplishments. Professor Jeansonne traces his life from his birth in Iowa, through his education at Stanford University, a successful career as a mining engineer and as a leader of relief efforts during World War I. It was Hoover's great success in these areas that led his fellow Republicans to select him first as Secretary of Commerce and then President. Hoover responded to the financial crisis of the 30s like he did to the food crises of World War II--encouraging a decentralized response with a lot of involvement with local governments and communities. According to Professor Jeansonne, Hoover did accomplish a lot to lessen the crisis. However, the problem was too big to solve in a single, four year term and there were all too many people willing to put the blame on the President. Hoover lost his bid for re-election and spent almost the next twenty years being the Democrats' poster child for bad government. However, he rose up to the challenge and through his writing and community involvement, continued to serve and influence society for another 30 years.

Herbert Hoover: A Life was an easy, enjoyable read. I might have preferred it if Professor Jeansonne had wrote a bit more about the events of the time that played into Herbert Hoover's life, but I suppose there are longer biographies out there that might fill that bill. (He does indeed include a thorough essay on the sources he used to write the book.) His bias toward Hoover is fairly obvious, but to be expected. It'll be interesting to pick up a biography of FDR and see what that author has to say about Hoover. All in all, it's a book well worth reading.

Check it out!
LibraryThing link

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Best of O. Henry

The Best of O. Henry
by O. Henry

Back in 2010 or so, I read one of my daughters' school books, The Best Short Stories of O. Henry. It was a collection of some very entertaining fiction written around the turn of the 20th Century. I was pleased to have a copy on my shelf... until my eldest daughter moved out and took the book with her. So I added the book (along with many others) to my want list. Last fall, I thought I found it. Oh, sure, this one was hardcover and the cover illustration was... different, but it had the same great tales, like "Gift of the Magi", "The Last Leaf", and "The Ransom of Red Chief".

Well, when I actually read through the book, I realized that I had purchased different collection. It had a few tales I hadn't read before and was lacking at least one I had remembered from the other "best". But in the end the book was still a gem. O. Henry deftly plays with words and settings, taking the reader on a brief journey into the lives of his character. The twist endings which he indulges in are occasionally predictable, but often amusing.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

In at the Death

by Harry Turtledove

First read in June of 2008.

Check it out if you've come this far.
LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Grapple

10/5
The Grapple
by Harry Turtledove

First read in June of 2008.

Waiting room material
LibraryThing link

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Drive to the East

First read in April of 2008.

This time around I seemed to be more sensitive to the concentration camp scenes. Whether it was due more to Mr. Turtledove's writing or the disgusting nature of the concept, I don't know.

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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