Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wizards and Werewolves, Oh, My!

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2) Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I finished the first book of The Dresden Files, I liked it and thought that I might read another sometime, but I wasn't sure. Then a friend sent me an email: "They get better." Hmmmm. That was enough for me to pick up the second book, but not quite enough to dive into it. The book aged nicely on my bookshelf for several years. This week I was starting to contemplate vacation reading for the summer and picked this one up. Instead of packing it, I cracked it open. I can now state definitely that my friend was right! Book two is much better than book one!

If you aren't familiar with Harry, he is a wizard. Not jus any wizard, mind you. He is the only practicing wizard in Chicago. His services are for hire by most callers. In particular, the Special Investigations unit of the Chicago PD employs Harry to assist in certain odd cases. In this missive we find Harry facing werewolves. We also learn that there are many different types of werewolves and, well, they are all pretty nasty. There is a bit of magic and mayhem and poor Harry comes out of it battered and bruised. Oh, please, that isn't a spoiler, there are 12 of these books in print and a 13th coming next year, so it is no surprise that Harry lives at the end. Even knowing that tiny bit of knowledge doesn't help the reader figure out how he is going to get past packs of the beasties that keep popping up all over Chicago.

I never should have doubted my friend and I will definitely pick up more of this series to read in the near future.

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In case anyone is wondering, I have turned off comments. I did not appreciate the effort that some folks were going through to add comments that linked to odd, Asian sites with pictures of scantily-clad girls. Grow up!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Abigail Adams, One of My Heroes

Abigail Adams: A Life Abigail Adams: A Life by Woody Holton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Biographer Woody Holton is definitely an Abigail Adams fan. This is a good thing, because if he were not a fan, he never would have waded through the Massachusetts Historical Society archives to prepare this book. He also did a very good job of bringing the second First Lady to life. Unfortunately, being a fan also means that some of his writing was very close to fawning over Mrs. Adams. I do understand this as I have long been an admirer of her myself. Still, the writing did drag at times and there were many chapters that could have used more work. Historical works do not need to be constantly thrilling, but they can be consistently engaging. If you don't believe me, please read Cokie Roberts' book Founding Mothers or 1776 by David McCullough). Holton isn't in their league, but he does show promise.

I learned much about Mrs. Adams that I did not previously know. Now I have to come to terms with my own biases since I have learned that she was, after all, human. I am still very impressed with all that she was able to accomplish and grateful that Woody Holton reintroduced me to a true Founding Mother.

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Steampunk Steampunk by Ann VanderMeer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As with all anthologies, every selection can't possibly satisfy every reader. Overall, I absolutely enjoyed this collection. I fully expected to enjoy the Neil Stephenson selection and I was not disappointed. I could have done without Joe Lansdale's "The Steam Man of the Praire and the Dark Rider Get Down," but I was thrilled with Mary Gentle's "A Sun In the Attic," Molly Brown's "The Selene Gardening Society" and Stepan Chapman's "Minutes of the Last Meeting." Even Michael Chabon's "The Martian Agent" left me wanting more and I have never been a Chabon fan. I have already picked up one of Gentle's novels and look forward to finding more fun reads in this genre.

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