Anything I should pay special attention to? Anything I should put on the back-burner?

(1/102/10, 3/10)

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91RnIEO+lbL._SL1417_(NO SPOILERS)

A community lives in an underground silo for generations and its origins are lost in time. People are told the silo protects them from a toxic outside world, a world they can only see through a single TV screen. The air outside is unbreathable and far away the skyline of a destroyed city is visible.

This is the premise of Wool, the first of the Silo series. It’s marketed as an adult dystopia, but apart from the characters’ age, it’s not much different from the Divergents and Maze Runners of this world: an unexplained post-apocalyptic world, human curiosity disrupting the system, an elite struggling to preserve the status quo.

In general I enjoyed the book. The first chapters triggered my need-to-know obsession and the ending was full of the promise of revelations to come. Jules was a strong and realistic female character and I cared for her right from the start. I understand the commercial success formula requires a romance (this was a self-published book, so likely Howey was more attuned to it), but Jules’ interest, Lucas, was far less interesting and I could have done without that relationship altogether.

Howey clearly put a lot of thought into the world-building and that was the most interesting part of the whole story: the silo’s different levels, nativity control, food production, disposal of human cadavers, electricity production – fascinating stuff.

If you’ve read the book, I’d be really curious to know your thoughts on (still no spoilers):

  • Why it’s considered an adult book and not YA? Is it just the hero/heroine’s age? There’s no sexual content, and definitely less violence or social commentary than, for instance, The Hunger Games. Is it because it focuses less on romance?
  • Considering the need to preserve the situation in the silo, and that there’s a mention of an organized religion, shouldn’t religion play a much bigger role in the story? Wouldn’t it be an obvious ally of IT?
  • I listened to it in audiobook and the narrator gave the villain a nasal voice that was the embodiment of the Evil Doer. (Seriously, I expected an evil laughter – MUAHAHAHAH! – at several moments). However, when I finished the book I wondered if this caricature was just due to the voice or if he could’ve been better developed. What say you?

So in summary, I had fun and at moments was completely engrossed in the story. I’m also looking forward to the future movie adaptation. On the other hand, I wished it pushed the boundaries of the genre, to become something I’d never read before. But the strongest feeling of all was the need to talk about it, and that’s always a good sign!

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Other thoughts: Rhapsody in Books, SF and Fantasy Book Reviews, Leeswammes, The Guilded Earlobe, Book Den, Collateral Bloggage, Stainless Steal Droppings, Speculative Book Review, Book Monkey, Don’t be Afraid of the Dork, a book a week, A Garden Carried in the Pocket (yours?)

Even since Armchair Audies began in 2012 I’ve been and enthusiastic participant. Even during my blogging hiatus I listen to my category’s nominees (or at least the ones managed to get from outside the US).

I’ve always chosen History, but I’ve been increasingly bothered by the restriction in themes: large majority American history, and within that, mostly WW2. This year I even took a look at Non-fiction, but not much variety there either: American topics, all male writers, all male narrators.

Maybe I’m making too much of this, after all it is the American Audio Publishers Association!

Anywhoo, this year I’ve decided to armchair-judge the Mystery category. Unlike History, where I was always the only judge, Mystery is popular and I’m actually looking forward to seeing if all judges chose the same winner (right, Susie?).

So for the next couple of months I’ll listen to:

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  • The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo; Narrated by Kathleen McInerney; Macmillan Audio
  • Hounded by David Rosenfelt; Narrated by Grover Gardner; Listen & Live Audio, Inc.
  • Malice by Keigo Higashino; Narrated by Jeff Woodman; Macmillan Audio
  • Missing You by Harlan Coben; Narrated by January LaVoy; Brilliance Publishing
  • Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva; Narrated by Jeff Woodman; Audible, Inc.
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith; Narrated by Robert Glenister; Hachette Audio

Will you also join Armchair Audies this year?

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So I spent last week in New York, and between a visit to Forbidden Planet and Strand, this happened.

Some are series I already follow (Serenity, Saga, Chew, Fables), others were your recommendations (Ex Machina, Ms Marvel, Runaways, Rat Queens, Hawkeye) and other were pushes from the nice staff at Forbidden Planet (Locke & Key, Preacher, Planetary).

They’ll keep me busy for a while and fully supplied for the Graphic Novels Challenge 2015.

Stiff_Cover(Yes, I realize I’m about 10 years delayed in reading Stiff).

Unfortunately, Stiff didn’t quite rise to my expectations. Mostly because I was expecting a different book. I thought it was a detailed description of the decomposition of a single cadaver, possibly with chapters organized by time (Chapter 1: 30m After Death, Chapter 2: 24 Hours After Death, etc.). Still think it this would be a really cool book, but alas, it wasn’t this one.

With adjusted expectations I immediately started creating new expectations, but managed to really-really enjoy the first two thirds of the book. It was fascinating to learn more about the cadaver trade during Victorian times and the body farms that help students learn more about body decomposition. But Roach started to lose me on the long chapter about crash-test dummies and I was *this close* to skipping during the trip to China.

Basically, I wish she’d have spent more time on the history of humanity’s treatment of dead people (so much to cover, so many cultures, two world wars!) and less on contemporary cadaver-disposal options. I’m know this is all about what I wanted Roach to write, but there you have it, can’t be helped.

I was surprised by my lack of squeamishness. Actually, the parts that were harder to listen to (audiobook) were about the living, like the victims patients of early surgeries and placenta-eating moms.

So, in summary, fascinating stuff, and Roach has my respect for tackling an almost taboo topic, but ended up with mixed feelings due to strong opinions about what she should have written. #entitlement

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Other thoughts: Rebecca Reads, Fyrefly’s Book Blog, Confessions of a Bibliophile, You’ve GOTTA read this, The Book Brothel, Savidge Reads, Bookshelves of Doom, Love, Laughter and a touch of Insanity, The Cheap Reader, Sophisticated Dorkiness, Lakeside Musing, Capricious Reader, She Treads Softly, an adventure in reading, reading comes from writing, Peace of Brain, Reading Through Life, eclectic/eccentric (yours?)

chew_vol1_tpbChew Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory

I got this recommendation from RonLit’s vlog. Chew’s wacky premise: Tony Chu gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats (except beets). This is very useful for his job at the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, but he often has to eat rather, er… unsavory things.

In the background we’re introduced to a conspiracy theory around the government’s ban on poultry due to a recent Bird Flue pandemic and the FDA’s power growth.

Written like this it sounds very weird and kind of gross, but trust me: it is absolutely disgusting at times and absolutely hilarious practically always. There are cannibal serial-killer chefs and speakeasy restaurants, an old-fashioned cop that speaks like a Victorian and… llama sex (don’t ask, just read).

As Kat said, you’ll be “fascinated but repulsed at the same time. And you will enjoy every little bit” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

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Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples 

Hurrah – Saga lives up to the hype! The first five-stars of the year. The amazing art comes hand in hand with a great story and greater storytelling – there’s humour and serious stuff, background information and hints about big mysteries to be unfolded in the future, just as I like it.

Staples’s personal style is realistic, but the lines are not clean (you can see her scratching), giving the art a lot of personality. The coloring is vibrant and adds to the story, especially in the impressive 2-page-wide drawings.

The pace has a good mix of action and background information, but for me it was the characterization that did it. Apart from the kick-ass main characters, I sort of developed a crush on bounty-hunter The Will and was utterly spellbound by Gwendolyn. I never get as emotionally invested with audio or comics as I do with a paper books, so Saga was ground-breaking for me. I got a serious Firefly vibe about it all, which is by no means a bad thing.

I’ll going to NY for work next week and plan a big comics shopping spree. The remaining volumes of Saga are already on the wish-list.

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gn2015-640x270-2Read for the Graphic Novels Challange

Last weekend we rented a Swiss Chalet up in the mountains and had an amazing time. Like us, none of our friends skies (gasp! goes everyone in Switzerland), so we just hanged out with the kids, ate, drank, read, played board games, walked in the snow, sledged and generally relaxed.

I could’ve gotten used to the 1% life…

16346648695_5bd5cceb3a_kThe view

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15724971494_cd6debf909_zA new experience for David: running in the snow

15727463093_a3531ca0be_zPerfection: cheese fondue lunch

15726744983_915a242c4e_zHusband in the hot-tub (yes, there was a hot-tub!)

16161427557_7206f6b069_zReading Patrick O’Brien during kid’s nap

16159837708_b114e5d76d_zThe boys, marvelling

16346619912_6ef5a45884_zGeneral fun was had

16346645752_16af116198_kThe swap shelf, no Nora Roberts in sight, all very high-brow at the Swiss Chalet

we-the-drownedThis is the story of Marstal, a tiny town on the island of Ærø in the Danish archipelago, between 1848 to 1945. It’s the story of its sailors, the women who wait their return and the children who grown up with intermittent dads.

Marstal really exists and the author was inspired by many of the tales its people had to tell, the type of stories that are passed down from father to son until they become the stuff of legend. This is probably why there’s something mythical in the way We, the Drowned is told.

The story begins with Laurids Madsen, who went up to Heaven and came down again, thanks to his boots, then there’s Albert who journeyed to the far side of the world looking for his father and came back with the shrunken head of James Cook. Also, there’s the time when a swarm of butterflies was blown across the ocean and clung to a ship, and the miraculous story of the woman who was giving birth on a ship when it was hit by German bombers.

Such great stories, told so vividly. And I loved the balance between darkness and light, between stories that broke my heart (the juggler chef, Kato… sniff) and those that make my day for their joy.

It’s a character-driven book and, fittingly, the sea is one of the most dominant. It’s otherworldly, worthy of a good fantasy novel – something I can easily recognized, coming from a country of seafarers. My respect to Jensen: it takes a good writer to capture the mix of fear and attraction while still amusing and educating the reader.

It’s not a perfect book: its female characters are not as interesting as the males ones, even though there was great potential (for those who’ve read it, wouldn’t you like to know more about the painter’s widow, Sophie’s adventures as a sailor or Klara’s life during the German occupation?). Also, pet hate peeve: Portugal is NOT Spain. The town of Setúbal (Mr. Jensen, as a Dane you should have an appreciation for accents) does NOT speak Spanish. *sigh*

All the same, a great start of the year and a reminder of the rewards of reading in translation. Also, look at the pretty cover!

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Other thoughts: Stuck in a Book, Man of La Book, Roxploration, The Book Coop (yours?)

The_Martian_2014This is one of the most uplifting books I’ve ever read, the perfect antidote to last week’s events. Who knew that a book about an astronaut left for dead by his crew on Mars could be this fun?

It’s basically an ode to human intelligence and ingenuity, to the power of science, courage and team work. After Charlie Hebdo, this book left me thinking “we’ll be ok” and for that I’ll be forever grateful to Weir.

I just wish my knowledge of chemistry and physics would do it more justice. Although the science parts were well explained and concise, I’m sure I’d have been even more impressed if I knew more about space exploration.

Don’t have much more to say about it, really. It deserved to show up in so many bloggers’ best-of-2014 lists. And a big thank you to who recommended the audiobook version.

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Other thoughts: Dribble of Ink, The Guilded Earlobe, The Speculative Spaceman, That’s What She Read, Stainless Steel Droppings, Speculative Book Review, The Book Cove, Cheap Thrills, the Little Red Reviewer, Love, Laughter and a touch of Insanity, Rinn Reads, Book Chatter, Collateral Bloggage, Don’t be afraid of the Dork, Jenn’s Bookshelves (yours?)

BRRead for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge:
A sci-fi novel

Anything I should pay special attention to? Anything I should put on the back-burner?

(1/102/10)

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