Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quote of the Moment

"I didn't stop pretending when I became an adult, it's just that when I was a kid I was pretending that I fit into the rules and structures of this world. And now that I'm an adult I pretend those rules and structures exist.  All of our make-believe is tied up in important stuff like keeping our [selves] together."
—Ze Frank, A Show "Make Believe"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bookworming: Introduction

I have decided I would like to try and keep better track of the books I read, but I really don't need another "social" site in my list of too-occasionally visited web pages. (Yes, I'm talking about Goodreads.) And by a happy coincidence, I have this nifty little blog that can always use more content. Thus...

Welcome to the first installment in the Bookworming category! I plan on writing impressions of books I read as I finish them. Most of the time I expect I will be quick and non-spoilery, but I may indulge in longer ramblings from time to time. For ease of analysis, I will give each a rating on a five asterisk scale:
* I didn't care for it.
** Meh
*** Good for those who like that sort of thing.
**** Just plain good, likely to be read again some time.
***** Destined to be a personal favorite, likely to be read over and over again.

Having just decided to start keeping these records, I have some catching up to do from the year so far. Normally I expect to only post one book at a time, but today you get half a dozen.

A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs, ***
I have not seen the movie yet, but it did inspire me to read the book. The price did not hurt either. (It is in the public domain, and thus you can easily find it free in e-book form). Having gone on a Conan kick last year, I decided reading more pulp would not be a bad thing. Plus, the book has some significance in the roots of science fiction/fantasy. It is a bit uneven in the story department, as first novels often are. Providing a rollicking adventure romp was the goal, and I think it succeeds admirably in that department. It did not immediately inspire me to pick up the next book in the series, but I may some day.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, ****
Most everyone has heard of this by now, and in my opinion its popularity is well deserved. It takes the post-apocalyptic death-match tv-show tale formula and twists it around enough that I was never able to predict what would happen next. The first person narrative took me a bit to get used to, but it provides focus by only ever allowing you to experience the story through the perceptions of the main character. It also nicely heightens the emotional impact of events.

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins, ****
The second book of The Hunger Games trilogy. Everything I said about the first one applies again. Emotions are heightened, the tone gets even darker, and you start to get a surprisingly realistic feeling treatment of someone who has been put in intense, repeated, life-threatening danger. I read this one quite quickly and there was never any though that I wouldn't move directly into the next volume.

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins, ****
The third book of The Hunger Games trilogy. The story picks up right off of the second volume, and this time the tone is downright bleak. There is very little I can say about the book that isn't a spoiler of some kind, but I will mention there is a moment near the end that absolutely wrecked me. Beware, this is one of those books you will desperately want to read in a single sitting.

24 Hours That Changed the World, Adam Hamilton, ****
My Bible study group read this one for lent this year. Hamilton examines the traditional story beats of the Easter season, providing historical context and his own perspectives on the people and places therein. It seeded some good discussions, especially given the inherent difficulty of examining the darker side of humanity through the lens of the crucifiction story. I quite like the focus on the reality of the times, and the mature discussion of the Biblical sources and traditions, including where they differ from each other.

The Gospel According to Science Fiction, Gabriel McKee, **
This is a scholarly overview of religious themes in science fiction. As a science fiction fan, I found myself skimming over the summaries of stories I had read or seen before. You might find it a good source of potential reading material, but it also necessarily spoils the stories it summarizes. The writing is perfectly good, but I would rather read the stories cited in the book and examine the themes there than have them presented to me in this summary form.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Headline Hunting

"Cruise ship to retrace voyage of Titanic"  Let us hope they don't follow the historic itinerary to the letter...