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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

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[READ: March 24, 2021] This is Not the Real World

I really enjoyed the first book in this duology.

That book was about a girl who was forced to work on the set of the retro TV show Stuck in the ’90s (which reveled in 1990’s pop culture).

When I was reading it, I had no idea that Carey was planning to write a sequel.  The end of the book show sequel possibilities (and it sounds like there will be no part 3).

As the book opens, Jess and her fellow cast member Kipps have been free from their show for a few months.  But they are never really free.  Because the production company owns them until they turn 18, they have  to lay low.  Jess has turned 8 recently, but Kipps still has six months to go until he is an adult. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: April 2022] The Truth

This story is set in Ankh-Morpork but it’s not about the Watch.  Or Lord Vetenari.  Well, it sort of is about both of them, but not really.

This story is about The Truth.  And also about a new character called William de Worde.  William is a black sheep of a famous and wealthy Ankh-Morpork family.  He has always been interested in writing and in finding the truth.

His job was to write an occasional message to various important figures around the Disc with information about what’s going on in Ankh-Morpork.  He quickly learned that he could write his message, have the Engraver’s guild print multiple copies and just change a few things for each one.  This made him a lot more money.

Then there was big news in Ankh-Morpork–the arrival of movable type from the dwarfs, particularly Gunilla Goodmountain.

William, through a series of events, inadvertently becomes the spokesperson for the movable type (even though he had nothing to do with it) and starts a newspaper. The paper is supposed to be named Ankh-Morpork Items but they get the type wrong and it became The Ankh-Morpork Times.

He is assisted by the dwarfs and Sacharissa Cripslock–a fiery reporter who proves very useful. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 12, 2022] The Bad Guys Episode One

A movie is coming out about this book series (Scholastic must have SO MUCH MONEY!).  S. brought it home from the library and I figured I’d give it a read.  And five minutes later I’d finished it.

It’s pretty funny (although not as funny as I would have liked).

It’s also clearly designed for young readers since there are usually no more than five words per page.  I guess it’s a graphic novel, although there are chapters.

The book opens with Mr Wolf staring at us and telling us to come closer.  But we are smart, we know he is a monster so we do not get any closer. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 10, 2021] Gravepyres School for the Recently Deceased

I found this book at work and was instantly intrigued by many things.  The title Gravepyres sounded unusual to me.  It also seemed like a children’s book (which it is).  Plus, it had a stamp that said “For sale only within the territories of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.”  Which I found pretty fascinating.

Even more so because this is a children’s fantasy book about being dead and the kind of “life” that you can have “there.”  I thought it might be quite different than an American book.

The book opens on Jose who has just died.  He has no idea that he just died and as he is trying to get his bearings, he is greeted by a small, bossy girl named Mishi.  She brings him to Gravepyres School for the Recently Deceased.  She tours him around the place, scolds him for his poor clothing (she provides him with a tunic) and tells him to get ready for classes..

Of course there is school when you are dead!  There is mathamythics.  Where the seemingly simple question 6+4= is not what one expects.  None of the students answered until finally one of them said four hundred and sixteen.  Jose chuckled, but the teacher said “Good, excellent.”  Other seemingly correct answers were ninety seven and a half, eight thousand, fifty two, even twelve.  But when Jose said the answer is ten, Professor Styx said Oh dear. not quite.  The rest of the classes made the same amount of sense.

Like Scare Studies from Madam Morte and Seeing from Dr Chiplunker (who wore the most outrageous spectacles he had ever seen).  Can you See the pencil in front of you?  Look closely.  Look at it for an hour.  Jose decided it was the most boring class he had ever heard of. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 13, 2021] “Tobermory”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

Saki was the pen name of Hector Hugh Munro, a British author born in Myanmar (then British Burma).  He loved skewering the British upper class.

This story is hilarious.

An upper class couple is throwing a party and they have invited a host of boorish people.  They’ve also invited Mr. Cornelius Appin, a “clever” man with a vague reputation.

It soon came out that Appin discovered a means for instructing animals in the art of human speech.  The room is incredulous, until he says that his first subject was the hosts’ own cat Tobermory. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 10, 2021] “The Bees, Part 1”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar.

I’ve enjoyed Aleksandar Hemon’s stories.  And this one was a huge mix of humor and sadness.

This story begins simply enough.  The narrator and his family are watching a film.  But his father is so annoyed that the film isn’t real that he (and the family) walk out before it’s over.

His father only wants to see things that are real so he sets out to make his own film. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  hiatus

[READ: December 1, 2021] “The Moon over the Mountain”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my seventh time reading the Calendar.  The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check this link where editor Alberto Manguel is providing daily commentary on each of the stories he selected for this year’s calendar. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 2021] A Natural History of Dragons

This book sounded interesting. I knew nothing about it (aside from the title) and had no idea it would unfold the way it did.

Turns out that Kate Reading, whom I didn’t know, was an outstanding reader. She did male voices so compellingly that I forgot it was just one reader.

The book is a memoir.  The book feels like a Victorian novel (where a woman is not allowed to have the kind of adventures she ultimately does).  Reading reads Lady Trent in a kind of slow, deliberate, older, upper class lady voice.  It felt a wee bit slow at first, although I couldn’t imagine her doing it any other way.

Lady Isabella Tent is the leading scholar on dragons.  Indeed, the book starts:

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth into the clear light of modern science.

Each chapter even has an olde-fashioned style in which the chapter heading summarizes what’s to be found within.  Lady Trent is an old woman now, finished with the excitement of her life and all that she has accomplished and she has decided that rather than answering all of the letters she gets all the time, that she would set the record straight and write her memoirs.

She starts from her early childhood and her tone is at one approving and occasionally disbelieving in the kind of person she was.

When Lady Trent was young Isabella, she had a unladylike desire to be scientific.  When she first captured a “sparkling” (this book is written as if we would know what she’s talking about since it is a memoir of a famous person’s exploits.  If you don’t know what a sparkling is, well, where have you been?).

Her mother was horrified by her behavior.  I mean what kind of girl dissects a bird to see how it can fly?  A scientific genius, that’s what kind. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: NOVEMBER 7, 2021] The Flaming Lips

I have now seen The Flaming Lips six times.  (It’s hard to believe the last time was three years ago).

I love every show, but after each one I think I don’t need to see them again.  Not because they aren’t great live, but because six or even five times is a lot.

But each time I’m delighted to have gone.

Wayne Coyne is such a generous frontman, but with his energy and with his love for everyone there.  Sure, you come out with a fun spectacle, but you also come out feeling loved and appreciated.  Plus, the first two times were over 20 years ago when they were a very different band.

I actually didn’t love American Head as much as other Flaming Lips albums, but these songs translated live very well.  Plus, with The Flaming Lips, you’re getting a lot more than their music.

Unlike most bands, even watching them set up is fun.  Before the band came out to check their gear, Wayne Coyne came out on stage with his latest toy, a bird with a glowing red heart that flew around the audience.  I believe it was remote controlled, but it was hard to see.  He flew it around the audience, and when it crashed, people handed it back so he could do it again.  (He used it in a song a little later, too). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: Fall 2021] Small Gods

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Small Gods satirizes religion.  On the Disc, it is common understanding that gods exist because people believe in them.  They come into existence when someone begins to believe and they grow more powerful the more people believe.  But some gods have few followers and they are known as the small gods.

One such god is Om.  Om once had a huge following, there was even a town named after him, Omnia.  But over the years, people started fearing the religious leaders who enforced the “rules of Om” or out of habit.

Om has been depicted in statues as a massive scary creature.  But when Om decided to manifest himself this time, he came as a turtle.

There’s a fascinating side bit about how eagles are the only animals that can kill turtles.  They bring a turtle very high in the air and drop it on a rock.  The eagle plagues Om throughout the book. (more…)

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