storytimewithbuffy

Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

Non-Human Stories

In Book Reviews on February 25, 2015 at 6:00 am

Animal Stories

I’ve had a break from my blog for a few months, but during that time I definitely didn’t stop reading. As a result, I have a rather large backlog of books to tell you about. The two books that I’ve chosen for today have one thing in common: the main characters aren’t humans.

These books intrigued me because of their perspective. One is from a bee’s point of view and the other is from a cow’s viewpoint. Even though these stories are from a non-human perspective, they aren’t children’s books and I loved both of them, although for completely different reasons.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Laline Paull The Bees

Photo by Adrian Peacock/Ecco Press

 

This story was told from the perspective of Flora 717, a bee who was born into her hive as a sanitation worker. We join her at her birth as she kicks her way out of her birthing cell and meets her sisters for the first time.

Flora 717 is different than other bees; she’s somewhat larger than the others, but not so much so that she would be killed for it. She’s also not very attractive for a bee.

What appealed to me about this book is the dystopian feel it had to it. Everyone was locked into their roles from birth and they willingly performed the tasks they were born to do. The difference between this story and other dystopian stories I’ve read, however, is that this is nature. There is no over-throwing and revamping the system which made it significantly more interesting.

One thing I didn’t really understand was why Flora 717 was different and why she was allowed to move from job to job like a student doing work experience. Especially when everyone else was so committed to their roles.

Even thought I didn’t understand this aspect of the story, I found it gripping.

One of the things I enjoy doing once I’ve finished reading a book is to read the negative reviews on Goodreads. Sometimes I’ll read the positive ones, but usually I’ll only do that if I didn’t like the book. I like to know why someone has a different opinion to mine and to see if there’s something I missed or interpreted differently.

I only tend to read a few, but the ones I read regarding this book had a problem with the anthropomorphisation of animals. Apparently, these bees were too ‘human-like’ for some readers, which made me chuckle considering that this is a fictionalised account of life within a beehive. It’s strange to me that someone would read this book if they weren’t up for that kind of thing.

You might like this book if you enjoyed Watership Down. I saw a marketing blurb comparing it to the Hunger Games (as many dystopian books are these days) however, I feel that I must tell you that you will be very disappointed if you go into this with that expectation.

It’s a strange and wonderful tale about bees in a beehive and their relationship with each other as well as the ‘Myriad’ which are wasps, spiders, flies and pretty much all other creatures that aren’t bees.

Holy Cow

David Duchovny Holy Cow

Image from Duchovny Central

My husband posted an article to my Facebook page about this book. He knew that I would want to read this book because we are both X-Files fans and we both have a love of silliness and whimsy.

Naturally, I went to the book store and bought it immediately. I read this book in a day and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’d like to start out by saying that David Duchovny is completely bonkers. (Although delightfully so!) This book had me in fits of giggles.

This is the story of Elsie the cow who wants to escape from her farm and travel to India because cows are sacred there and she won’t get eaten. She is joined by a pig who has renamed himself Shalom and wants to travel to Israel because people there don’t eat pork. And then there’s Tom the Turkey who’s trying to slim down because Thanksgiving is getting close and he thinks that his best bet is to move to Turkey. For obvious reasons.

Okay, you reeeeeeeally have to suspend your disbelief for this story. I mean A LOT. These animals know how to buy plane tickets using an iPhone and they can get through airport security disguised as humans (a point with which a few Goodreads reviewers were not pleased). And they say things like ‘OMG’.

I loved this story. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all and I loved that about it. It doesn’t have any pretensions of being high literature or even about making a statement about animals being killed for food. It is what it is and I thought it was wonderful.

Apparently, he reads it on the audio version and while I’m not a huge fan of audio books, I would totally be down with listening to that.

If you need an injection of awesome into your day, check this book out.

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Moon Over Soho

In Book Reviews on October 9, 2013 at 6:00 am
Moon Over Soho

Gollancz 2011

For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.

I would like to start off this post by saying that if you haven’t read Rivers of London (aka Midnight Riot in the US, the first book in this series), do that before you read my thoughts on this book.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Great, you’re back. Here’s my Nutshell Blurb: London is recovering from Peter Grant’s last case as he starts into the next one. Someone has been going around London killing jazz musicians and leaving traces of magic behind. Obviously, this is a job for a PC who also happens to be a wizard.

Can I just say, I looooooooove me some Peter Grant. He’s intelligent, funny (in a dry, self-effacing way), resourceful and a bit of a smart-ass. He’s perhaps a bit bloke-ish, but it’s more endearing than caveman-esque.

The book is written in 1st person, so I don’t really remember reading much about the way he looks.

But that’s ok. Ladies, you know I’ve got this covered. I remember reading in the first book that he’s of a mixed background and there was a line in this book about his preference for the villain not being called a black magician because he (Grant) could technically be considered one. So my brain has filled in the blanks and this is what I’ve come up with.

This...

This…

...with a dash of this.

…with a dash of this.

OH. YES. PLEASE. I actually don’t care what anyone says after this point. This is what’s in my head and no one can change it for me. Apparently, Rivers of London will be made into a tv show but I don’t know who will be in the cast. All I can say is that they’d better get it right.

Ok, I’ll stop fan-girling now and get on with what I thought about this book.

It’s amazing. Obviously, Ben Aaronovitch is a genius. (Sorry, just a bit more fan-girling, but I’ll stop now. Promise.)

There are river spirits, jazz vampires, cat girls, wizards and spell casting. All in modern day London. I love how much Mr. Aaronovitch loves London. It seems as if he’s familiar with every part of it. As a Londoner, it’s especially fun to recognise the places he describes. Also, this quote from the book:

My dad says that being a Londoner has nothing to do with where you’re born. He says that there are people who get off a jumbo jet at Heathrow, go through immigration waving any kind of passport, hop on the tube and by the time the train’s pulled into Piccadilly Circus they’ve become a Londoner.

Indeed.

The thing I like most about this book (besides the characters, which are always my favourite part of any book) is the author’s whimsical writing style. It seems so effortless and there were so many lines that gave me a giggle throughout the story.

There were a few things that I didn’t think were explained in this book, like who the heck the Pale Lady was. There are two more books after this one so hopefully there will be some explanation. I tore through this book, so it’s altogether possible that I missed something in my speed reading. That’s ok, though, because I didn’t get this one from the library. I treated myself to it (it’s all MINE! Mwahahaha!) so I’ll read it again sometime. These books definitely have a high re-readability factor to them.

I’ve got nothin’ but love for this book and am really looking forward to reading the next two.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

In Book Reviews on September 8, 2013 at 6:00 am

Wicked

Harper Collins Publishers 1995

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be this: Trippy.

I had so many conflicting feelings about it. And before you ask, no, I haven’t seen the play. Nor have I read The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

I picked up this book because I think it’s interesting to see things from the villain’s point of view. I’m not actually sure what I was expecting when I started reading this, but it certainly wasn’t what I got.

There were times when I couldn’t figure out whether or not I liked this book. It left me feeling both frustrated and enchanted at the same time.

Nutshell blurb: The story follows the life of Elphaba, aka The Wicked Witch of the West, from her birth up until the point where Dorothy flings a bucket of water onto her.

So here are the things that I didn’t really like about it.

The first thing I didn’t like is that the beginning of the book is from the pov of her parents before our protagonist is born. And then we move on to her years as a toddler. I find this to be an exceptionally tedious device. I want to jump right in with the main character. I don’t mind a little bit of back story. She was born green and had pointy teeth. Her first word was “horrors”. That’s all very interesting, but I need to feel that a story is going somewhere. We spend almost a fifth of the book with her parents.

The second thing I didn’t like was that I didn’t feel much of a connection with any of the characters until really late in the story when I finally got a sense of who Elphaba really was. There were a few times when I questioned whether or not I wanted to finish reading it and a few times when I almost put it down.

The third thing I didn’t like is kind of an extension of the first. Remember when I said that I need to feel that a story is going somewhere? Once we reached the halfway point, I had some serious questions as to where the story was going. I don’t like it when stories are predictable, but I feel like there needs to be some goal that the main character is trying to reach. It was very frustrating to have no sense of what Elphaba was trying to accomplish at certain points in the book.

Now on to things that I liked about it.

It was an incredibly complex world with a lot of political intrigue. I mention this not because I’m particularly interested in political intrigue, but because the assumption might be that as this story is based on a well-loved children’s story, it might be light on the details. However, this world is vast and interesting with characters that aren’t fully good or fully evil.

Another thing I liked was that Elphaba really became human to me in the latter part of the book. She wasn’t evil, but she had a very strong sense of justice which made her do things that were evil. You could totally see why she did them though. She had a good heart but continually failed at things that she tried to accomplish which made it easy to relate to her. But then sometimes her motives were unknown and downright creepy. I mean, what would possess someone to sew wings onto monkeys?

One thing I’d like to point out is that it would be easy to think that it’s a YA book, but I think that it’s most certainly adult material as it’s got a bit of sex and a hint of bestiality in it. (Yes, it really does.) From what I’ve read of the reviews, a lot of people bought this book because they saw the play first. These are the people who seemed to be most disappointed with it.

I think that you’re going to have to make your own minds up about this one, my friends. I ended up giving it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads just because it has baffled me so much. I waffle back and forth as to whether or not I liked it. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I finished it, so I’m leaning towards liking it. It’s not one I’ll read again, however.

Have you read this book? I would love to know what you thought about it.

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