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Archive for the ‘Power Failure’ Category

[LISTENED TO: August 2017] The Diamond of Darkhold

The end of the previous book (the prequel) left me in very good spirits about this final book.  This one had not come out while I was working at the public library so I didn’t know about it and the title and cover puzzled me.

But whatever, it was time to see how this series ended (I assume its over).

But, oh no!  Another new audio book reader!  This time Katherine Kellgren.  Kellgren has the unenviable task of following up Wendy Dillon’s establishment as a reader.  It was a little disconcerting hearing Doon and some other characters who had very distinctive voices portrayed differently.  In fact, I wasn’t all that impressed by her reading at first because the characters kind of sounded the same.  But as soon as new characters entered the picture I was really thrilled with her reading.  The diverse voices she brought to the story were outstanding.

So what happens in it?

The story picks up about nine months after the Emberites left Ember.  Winter is coming upon them and things are very hard.  People are also getting sick (some people have died).  (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: July 2017] The People of Sparks

After finishing up The City of Ember this summer, with that promising cliffhanger-ish ending, I was pretty excited to listen to book two.

Holy cow did I hate this book (until the end).  I blame the combination of DuPrau’s writing and Wendy Dillon’s excellent vocal work.  Because as soon as the book started, the sorta main character Torren quickly became the single most irritating character in fiction.  He is bratty.  He is incredibly whiny.  He is a really mean.  And he is unchecked by adults.  Perhaps we are supposed to feel sorry for him, but he is so incredibly unlikable and does such horrible things that I don’t see how one could.

I imagined that this book would pick up where Ember left off–Mrs Murdo finding the note and rallying the city together to come and meet Lina and Doon in the new place.  I imagined a lengthy first part where the characters try to convince the mayor and gather their stuff and eventually work their way out.

But no.  The book begins in the city of Sparks.  Horrible brat child Torren is sitting on a windmill (not sure why they have these windmills if they don’t harness the energy) and sees people marching across the empty land.

Soon enough Lina and Doon are introducing the 400+ Emberites to the 300+ people of Sparks.  The leaders of Sparks: Mary, Ben and Wilmer meet to decide what to do with this huge influx of people. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: July 2016, July 2017] The City of Ember

I enjoyed this book when we listened to it the first time and I enjoyed the graphic novel as well.

But I couldn’t remember enough about the audio book to post about it so I listened to it again.  And what was so interesting this time was how much it sounded like an attack on our current political situation:

A greedy pig in charge of a country; sycophants as his cronies; keeping as much as possible for themselves and allowing the richer to get richer while the country falls apart; shutting down truth; imprisoning dissenters and just to top it off, the mayor is a large man with very small hands (seriously).  The only real difference is that the mayor speaks eloquently and has a big vocabulary.

I absolutely loved the reading by Wendy Dillon.  She has quite distinctive voices for the main characters and some of the secondary characters have wonderful details about them that keeps them individual–the mayor wheezes, another character smacks his lips together, Clary speaks slowly and deliberately almost with a stutter.  It’s wonderful.  And the sound effects, while not necessary, are a nice addition.  Although they are fairly infrequent and can be surprising if you forget about them.

So what’s the story about? (more…)

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17208SOUNDTRACK: RAPSODY-Tiny Desk Concert #497 (January 5, 2016).

rapsAs part of my New Year’s resolution, I’m going to try to keep up with the Tiny Desk shows as they happen.

This is the first Tiny Desk Concert of 2016, and I’m afraid it was pretty disappointing.

Rapsody is a rapper, but I feel like she doesn’t have a lot of flow.  Or if she does, it’s kind of slow and meandering.  There was nothing really captivating about her style.  And her rhymes weren’t all that exciting either.

“Godzilla” is a very pro-God song (the twist on God and Zilla is interesting), but the song isn’t that inspired.  She spends most of the song asking people to clap (the room is full of students from Howard University).  Her rhymes are just not that interesting in this song.

Her second song (with a horrific cheesy sax solo throughout) has a great premise–a song about the boys who have grown up too fast because they lack strong black fathers.  The problem with it is that a song like this, which could be powerful as a message, has a chorus of “I been the motherfuckin ….”  Which ain’t going garner much airplay.

“Hard to Choose” is about being a black female in hip hop.  She wanted to be a good role model for young girls.  Once again, her flow isn’t that exciting and her rhymes don’t really  do much for me.  Of course, she disses hipsters who don’t understand, and I guess that’s me.

Rapsody has some great messages.  I wish her a lot of success and I hope that her positive messages are heard by millions.  I just wont be listening.

[READ: January 5, 2015] “Outage”

As part of my new year’s resolution, I’m going to read all of the old New Yorker stories from 2008-2015 to fill in any gaps (I’ve missed about 50 stories in seven years).  In a few months I should have all of the stories from 2008-2016 (or close to the current story as possible) read and posted.  How exciting!

This was something of a perfect short story and a great way to start the back issues.

I don’t read a lot of Updike, for no particular reason.  So I don’t really know if this is the kind of thing he typically writes.   But the way it was constructed and the details he put in made this story seem so effortless and very true.

Set in the suburbs of Boston, Brad Morris is working from home when a storm comes through the area.  The weatherpersons had made a huge deal out of it since they are “always eager for ratings-boosting disasters.”  But the actual weather seemed to be on and off heavy rain.

And then just as the storm seemed to be over, the power went our.  The description, “the house seemed to sigh, as all its lights and little engines, its computerized timers and indicators, simultaneously shut down.”  That is exactly right. (more…)

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