Book Review: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley


AuthorDaniel O’Malley
TitleThe Rook
Narrator: Susan Duerden
Publication Info: Dreamscape Media, LLC , 2012
Summary/Review:

This book was recommended to me as being something I might enjoy as a fan of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.  While there are similar approaches to a detective novel with supernatural elements sprinkled with humor, I found this book darker and grimmer than anything Fforde has ever written.  The novel begins with a woman waking up in a park surrounded by dead bodies with no memory of who she is.  From letters she finds in her pockets and more letters found elsewhere, it is revealed that she is Myfanwy Thomas (or was Myfanwy Thomas, since the conceit of the book is that she is a new person born into an old body) and that she is part of a covert organization of people with superpowers who protect England from paranormal forces.  She holds the title of Rook in an organization based on chess pieces called the Checquy, hence the title of the book.

It turns out that the old Myfanwy was shy and obedient, but losing her memories has made her forget the traumas of her youth and more willing to explore using her powers to their full extent.  Thus, Myfanwy is set on finding the traitor in her organization who caused her amnesia while simultaneously dealing with the threat of the Grafters, a Belgian group that has learned how to augment and modify human bodies.

This is a very high-concept book, and I feel like at least the first third of the book is a slog because it’s mostly in the form of Myfanwy’s letter to herself that explain her past in a very tell, not show manner.  If you manage to  make it through that part of the book, though, the letters and Myfanwy’s present day adventures both get entertaining with a wry mix of humor, clever concepts, and gross outs.  There’s a sequel to the book I’ll check out, albeit I’m not rushing to get it right away.

Recommended books: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, The Portable Door by Tom Holt, A Soul to Steal by Rob Blackwell,  Who Could That Be at This Hour?” by Lemony Snicket and Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
Rating: ***

Podcasts of the Week Ending December 16


60-Second Science :: Ancient Women Had Awesome Arms 

Thanks to science, we now know that prehistoric agricultural labor is the way for women to build upper body strength.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: The Bleeps, The Sweeps, and The Creeps

Did you ever think that the noises from your phone, computer, car, etc were actually designed by someone with specific ideas in mind.

Slow Burn :: A Very Successful Cover-up

This series on Watergate continues with the history of just how uninterested people were in the scandal during the 1972 Presidential Campaign

Science Talk :: The Skinny on Fat

The science behind fat, it’s importance to the body, and the mythology of fad diets.

Life of the Law :: Traditions

Stories from prisoners about their memories of Christmases past and the new holiday traditions they create while incarcerated.

Code Switch :: With Dope, There’s High Hope

The history of the demonization of marijuana by linking it to African Americans and immigrants, the inordinate arrest rate of African Americans on marijuana charges, and how people of color are being left out of the legalized canabis market.

The Truth :: Mall Santa

This story of a disenchanted mall Santa who finds hope in a young, drunken Santa-Con participant really touched me in the feels.

 

#trust


For Advent this year I’m participating in the #AdventWord project from Anglican Communion’s Global Advent Calendar with a daily meditation on the word for the day.

I feel like the words are getting harder as Advent progresses. In the year 2017, the concept of trust is a challenging one. Even if you were already cynical, over the past couple of years politicians, business executives, and celebrities have shown us the types of things humans think they can get away with and do get away with. It’s hard to trust anyone at all. In Advent, were called to show our trust in God, but in a world where evil always triumphs its increasingly hard to do.

#wilderness


For Advent this year I’m participating in the #AdventWord project from Anglican Communion’s Global Advent Calendar with a daily meditation on the word for the day.

It’s hard to find wilderness in the city. Really, true wilderness is hard to find anywhere in the country. Wilderness is contained in green belts and parks. Humans have created and maintained forests, rerouted rivers, and realigned mountains.

At the time the scriptures were written and as recently as a century ago, the wilderness was a place that was feared. Being in the wilderness meant being among wild animals, separated from the safety of one’s fellow human beings, at risk of being robbed or killed by outsiders. Today, we think wild animals should have a place of their own, and fear crime more in the cities.

Today a voice crying out in the wilderness would still not be heard. No less than the voices of the poor, the vulnerable, the oppressed that are ignored and silenced. Perhaps that is where we will find our “wilderness “ today.

#voice


For Advent this year I’m participating in the #AdventWord project from Anglican Communion’s Global Advent Calendar with a daily meditation on the word for the day.

“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn

Sculpture: Presence, 1984-1986 by Mary Frank

Book Review: The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde


Author: Jasper Fforde
TitleThe Well of Lost Plots
Narrator: Emily Gray
Publication Info: Penguin Audio (2012)

Other Books Read by Same AuthorThe Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good BookShades of GrayThe Last DragonslayerThe Song of the QuarkbeastOne of Our Thursdays is Missing, and The Eye of Zoltar.
Summary/Review:

I’m revisiting the Thursday Next series and struck by how Fforde can keep at least five plots going simultaneously, interweaving them, and somehow bringing them all together at the end.  First there’s Thursday’s apprenticeship with Miss Havisham at Jurisfiction and getting caught up in the Ultraword conspiracy.  Then there’s Aornis Hades’ memory worm, and Granny Next’s efforts to help Thursday remember Landen.  Then there’s the plot within the book Caversham Heights where Thursday gradually reshapes a derivative detective novel into the setting for Fforde’s Nursery Crime novels. And then there’s the the hysterical evolution of the generic characters Lola and Randolph. There are no plots lost here.  I was delighted to read this book again (in Emily Gray’s voice) and surprised to look back at my original review when I didn’t think too highly of this installment in the series.

Rating: ****

#watch


For Advent this year I’m participating in the #AdventWord project from Anglican Communion’s Global Advent Calendar with a daily meditation on the word for the day.

#watch #adventword

“You better watch out…”

“1,2,3! Eyes on me!”

“If you see something, say something.”

The eyes of Dr. T.J Eckleburg.

“All along the watchtower/Princes kept their view.”

“Alwaaaaaays watching…”

Is it just me or is there something ominous about the word “watch” especially in the context of meditating on Advent. There’s an undertone of the surveillance state to this season. Someone’s watching – God, Santa, the cookies on your Amazon.com account.

Perhaps it’s a time to be the watcher, to focus your attention on what’s most important.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

This blog goes to 11


I published the first post on this blog on December 4, 2006.  Although that anniversary passed a week ago, I did not want to let it go unremarked upon.  So here are some thoughts on being eleven:

  • This is the 2,676 post published to this blog.
  • I’ve now been blogging for one quarter of my life which seems like a pretty remarkable portion of time.
  • Still, it could’ve been longer.  I regret not going through with my thoughts of signing up for a LiveJournal in the early 2000s.  It would be fun to look back at now.
  • I’ve reverted back to the original name of this blog, Panorama of the Mountains.  It was foolish to believe that anything else could be more suited.
  • I’ve also redecorated.  Tell me what you think!
  • I’ve recently started using Instagram.  You can see it on the sidebar or check out my account. I’m trying to take interesting photographs everyday which I share there.
  • I’m still also using Tumblr (Portals of Discovery) and have a ridiculous Doctor Who-themed sideblog.
  • And you may find me tweeting at @othemts (general tweets, mostly politics and sports) or @archivaliam (professional tweets related to libraries, archives, records management), but I’m taking a bit of a rest from Twitter right now.

These are the five most viewed posts published in the past year:

Here are five posts that I like that need more love:

So that was the year that was…

 

 

Previously: