Enter the Lost World once again…

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

So I never seemed to review The Lost World when I read it the first time, and I can’t remember the why. Ah well! I recently decided to give audiobooks a try, first listening to Jurassic Park and now the sequel. It was a great start to the small collection of audiobooks I own right now, especially since I could see how they  handled the graphs included in the first book.

Between the first and second of these, there seemed to be improvements. I sort of had to remember off-hand what a very important chart contained in Jurassic Park, which was a chart describing the amount of dinosaurs expected in the park versus the amount found, which was supremely important in several scenes. In The Lost World, there was little use of charts, but they definitely read out some information that if I recall correctly was listed in the same manner, and I was able to fully visualize the situation from its inclusion.

Now, onto the actual content! The Lost World is a direct sequel to Jurassic Park, with the return of Ian Malcolm and new associates to Ilsa Sorna, a.k.a. Site B, the actual labs and rearing grounds of the dinosaurs. Let me tell, what a difference a rereading makes in comprehension of a book! I had several rather concrete memories I took from my first reading of the book that turns out were simply conjecture on my part that the book in no way leads to! Just faulty understanding. I find that always rather interesting. The most important of which was the Carnotaurus, a chameleon-like carnivore with the advanced ability to blend into its environments. My take-away was that they were saying that the park had been further screwing around with genetics, creating hybrids in a greater way than simply splicing frog DNA into the code. But really, it’s no different. The actual take-away is that dinosaurs may have had these sort of abilities that we don’t account for.

There are other instances of that, but the Carnotaurus is the most… prominent? memory I have being wrong. Like the whole genetic manipulation thing stuck out so much in my mind, yet it was all in my own head! And now the new movies involve that very theme. Strange, but not unexpected (clearly, haha).

One of the best take-aways from the actual content of the book is Sarah Harding. She’s a tough, strong, sensible young woman with a lot to prove and a lot of good advice for Kelly, the young girl who ends up on this adventure with her friend Arby. Everyone contributes to the group’s survival throughout the book, but Harding’s is honestly the most noticeable me. It’s sort of like Lara Croft vibes, and I grew up loving the Tomb Raider games, so I got right behind this. The final action Kelly takes to save the group from the raptor pack is ultimately something she realizes with Harding’s advice echoing around in her skull. Most of what people tell you is wrong, to paraphrase.

It is very enjoyable. Scott Brick, the narrator for the editions I listened to, has a very strong, steady voice, and puts just enough feeling into the recordings that I can be comfortable giving this a go. There’s the constant argument about whether or not audiobooks are considering reading, but I feel they are. Fight me. Haha!

Interested in The Lost World? It can be purchased here.


A female warrior in Neolithic times!

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

A year ago, I picked up a series that I really was interested in, but as you likely know by now, I’ve been so terrible about reading that I didn’t manage to finish. In fact, I quickly discovered that I was reading the second book in the series somehow (prolly due to a misclicking in my Kindle app!). Anyhow, despite all this, the initial scenes from the second book remained fresh in my memory, so it kept me thinking about the first. This first book is called Ember of a New World.

When I decided on my reading goal for 2018, the first two books in this series were included (with a possibility of the third!). Now, I grew up with an interest in First Nation stories, ‘cos my mother loved them very much so and shared them with me often. I also was interested in dinosaurs, ‘cos I was a kid and I hallucinated Tyrannosaurs and raptors and just generally thought history was a pretty neat thing. This series takes that interest further back in time than the former but not so much the latter!

Tom Watson practices what they preach in their novels, quite literally, I might add! I follow them on Twitter, and I often get to look at astral shots and Neolithic-style pottery and clothing and any number of Sailor Moon .gifs! Aside from that last thing, they seem to spend much of their time studying the methods of their characters, learning by doing. This, by the way, makes for some damn good hype for the stories, as well as helps an author better understand what they are writing about. It lends itself to better writing!

As to the tale itself: Ember is a girl, about to become a woman. At the ceremony, a sign is seen and she is gifted a great destiny by her tribe’s gods–to go to the end of the world to the northwest. A daunting task at any time period or age, Ember must accomplish this as a young Neolithic woman on her own. The book follows her story as she first travels by boat, runs into trouble, only to run into more trouble, and so the snowball rolls down the hill. She accomplishes much in her time in the wild world. I’d rather not spoil very much of the actual tale itself with this one.

As far as quality of the book goes, it has a slight repetitive nature in telling of some of the practices of the people of the book, but I feel this is necessary for the reader to really understand what hardships and trials even simple tasks were. It also has several erroneous words that a new edition would polish up, but they’re mostly homonyms, so they’re easily deciphered. Otherwise, the books is a nicely-wrapped package waiting to be unfolded. If I’m not mistaken, a fourth book is in the works. This one is followed by Ember of Life. If you’re interested in early people’s stories, coming-of-age, strong female protagonists, LGBT-friendly material, this is it.

Interested in Ember of a New World? It can be purchased here.


Searching for a (wo)man, stones in hand…

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

Following up after reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, I decided to track down a book that would include Shirley Jackson’s infamous short story The Lottery, which led me to The Lottery and Other Stories. Much to my surprise, the book didn’t open with The Lottery, but instead would finish with it. It was my fault for assuming, but still! Genuinely surprised, there. Anyway, in my own little opinion, while the stories are all fairly satisfying, the start of the book caught my interest the most. It occasionally waned, but overall, it held fast.

Unlike the series of reviews I did for Sherlock Holmes, many of these stories are quite brief and hard to flesh out a decent post about, so I decided to compile one for the collection overall.

My absolute favorite in this collection was The Daemon Lover, the second story in the collection. It’s a curious piece in the art of escalation. We’re introduced to a bride-to-be on her wedding day as she prepares to meet with her groom for the big day. Time steadily plods on, and her observations hasten, steadily becoming more concerned, more frantic, more harried. She crosses town in search of him, following faint rumors of his description, until finally arriving at a door that no one answers. And no one ever does. We’re left to draw our own conclusions at this point, but it’s safe to say she’s been had. But why? The beauty of the ugliness of humanity in that moment is great, honestly.

Much of this book is about that ugliness in varying forms. The realness Jackson paints with her stories, written decades earlier, is something else. These people exist in a time of habits and motions long before my own generation, but they’re familiar all the same. Ironically, I’d always been told that The Lottery fit this description aptly, but I found it to be on the mild side compared to a few others in this collection.

Flower Garden is another noteworthy tale, depicting a new family in town with high hopes, welcomed warmly by all until they arrange for some help around the house by a local black man and allow her son to play with his. It shows a few things in particular, but most importantly shows how swiftly the toxin from racism spreads and its affects on even the most resistant of dreamers. In the end, the woman sees her garden failing and wonders if she should just return to where she came from. Her hopes and dreams are killed by the ugliness of the others, and in the last moments, those hateful people blame her for “making it about” the black family, something that they themselves did.

I will admit, a few of the stories may have lost me with shifting perspectives. A common thread was a person shifting from the position of host to position of guest while remaining in the original domicile, and I couldn’t tell if I was reading into the situation that they were never truly the host to begin with or not. I enjoyed these situations either way, but it did cause a brief pain on my brow!

The Lottery–the big one, so to speak. I have heard mention of this story in all sorts of situations. When people bring up The Hunger Games and what its influences are, it comes up. When people bring up required reading in schools, in comes up (I was always in special programs for English courses and somehow managed to miss practically ALL required readings). Hell, even watching an episode of Squidbillies, a disturbing, poorly-drawn cartoon on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, it comes up (in that instance, they even quoted a line from it to “prove” a point in the plot). I’m certain, if we go that route, that the cartoon Archer must have at the least mentioned Shirley Jackson, if not this story, simply ‘cos they make SO many classic literature and movie references throughout the series that I’m often left with my head spinning. But what about the actual story? Well, for starters, it really is a short story. I expected it to be a short novel, similar to We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but it’s only a few pages long. The material isn’t jarring (though this may be from years of knowing a summary of the plot). The human behavior is predictable, if regrettable. Mrs. Hutchinson is pulled from the village lottery to be stoned, all the while saying, “It isn’t right! It isn’t fair!” It isn’t, but that is just the way things have always been and people aren’t keen to change.

As far as Jackson’s stories go, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is still a personal favorite that I’m likely to revisit. This collection is a good romp, but I seem to favor the longer stories, leading me to believe I simply don’t have the mind to appreciate shorter form stories. It may even be that a few of those confusing brow-pains were from the shorter ones! We’ll see in the future books I tackle if this holds true, eh?

This particular edition includes the following short stories by Shirley Jackson:
The IntoxicatedThe Daemon LoverLike Mother Used to MakeTrial by CombatThe VillagerMy Life With R. H. MacyThe WitchThe RenegadeAfter You, My Dear AlphonseCharlesAfternoon in LinenFlower GardenDorothy and My Grandmother and the SailorsColloquyElizabethA Fine Old FirmThe DummySeven Types of AmbiguityCome Dance with Me in IrelandOf CoursePillar of SaltMen with Their Big ShoesThe ToothGot a Letter from Jimmy, and The Lottery.

Interested in The Lottery and Other Stories? It can be purchased here.