Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CBR IV # 25 Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

The book opens with Joan Foster settling in a villa in a small Italian town.  She had just faked her own death, and was nervous and jumpy, wondering whether he has been successful or not.  From this present day, the book takes us back to Joan's childhood.  Her fatness, he overbearing Mother and distant father.  Her only friend was an eccentric aunt who loved her unconditionally.  We then follow her to her teenage years, running away from home, her love affairs, and finally to her life just prior to her fake death.

Joan is a girls of multiple personalities.  She was a fat girl, a secret writer of Gothic romances, a kinda dumb housewife, a kept woman, and adulterer, and authoress of an intriguing feminist book.  She switches easily from personality to personality, creating personas both innocently and calculatingly at the same time.

The book is not really a thriller about a woman faking her death.  It may seem high concept at first, but really, it is just a story about a woman.

The first book I read of Atwood was the Handmaiden's Tale.  I've noticed that the books by her which I enjoy the most are those with a sci-fi premise.  This book is more along the lines of Cat's Eye and the Robber Bride.  It's good, but i prefer her other works.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

CBR IV # 24 - Double Fudge by Judy Blume

No, this is not a kiddie Cannonball.   I'm not sure if this is eligible, but either way, I'm reviewing it.  The Fudge series by Judy Blume holds a special place in me and my 9 year old kid's heart.  Almost four years ago, elder son got a brand new baby brother.  By the time the baby was  a toddler, it was clear that he was going to be a handful.  He constantly tested his big brother's patience.  I decided to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing with my elder son.  He loved it so much.  Peter was so him in that he is mostly well behaved and logical, while Fudge is so much like the younger brother in being adorably mischievous.  After that, I bought him all the Fudge books but he's been reading them by himself. I decided to read this last book (so far) in the series in order to catch up with the Hatcher kids.

In this book, Fudge is going crazy for money!   Jimmy Fargo is moving, and the Hatchers find some family.  When the Hatchers go on a field trip to Washington to teach Fudge about money, they end up finding the other Hatchers, i.e. some crazy ass relatives.  The relatives come over to New York for a visit and, as usual, hi jinks and misadventure abounds!

As in the other Fudge books, it's not so much plot as just following this lovable family as they grow.  It is funny and touching, and at time profound.  Kids love it (well mine did) and the rents won't be so bored either.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

CBR IV # 23 The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg

This story seemed a bit familiar and upon further research, I figured out that I have actually read the short story/novella this book was based on.  I love my sci-fi with a vengeance and Asimov has been the one to really turn me on to the genre.  I love Asimov, I do.

This book, as I've mentioned is based on the short story, The Bi-Centennial Man by the same author (and then it was made into the movie of the same name starring Robin Williams.  huh.).  This book I guess expands and gives more detail to the journey of Andrew Smith, the robot who wanted to be a real boy. 

Andrew was conceived to be an ordinary household robot given to a prominent family on Earth. However, he was made in the early years of robot manufacturing and so his positronic brain allowed for some surprises.  It started with an unusual ability for woodcarving, which almost seemed to be art, a very human endeavor.  Over the years and with the support of his human masters, Andrew freed himself and slowly transformed himself, or maybe developed himself more and more towards humanity. But will he become truly human?  And who shall decide who is truly human?

As is normal in Asimov books, there is no shooting of space lasers flying ships or scary aliens.  There is very little action, just a narration of Andrew's long life.  Aside from being good story, it, as is usual delves into some philosophical matters like as is obvious, what makes us truly human?  Can one transcend what one is originally created for (and is) and still be authentic to what he strives to be or now is?  

I also found it fun to read a robot book that still takes place on earth and very soon after it became mainstream.  It's like reading a little bit of history. Of course, even the earliest robots were subject to the three laws.  It was fun to see how robotics developed and how humanity spread first to the moon and to the other planets.