Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Archive for November, 2011

Le chat qui jetaient des peaux de banane (The Cat Who Went Bananas)

Posted by nliakos on November 18, 2011

by Lilian Jackson Braun (Éditions 10/18 “Grands Détectives”, 2005, translated by Marie-Louise Navarro; first published  in English in 2004)

I like mysteries, and I was aware of the Cat Who… series but had never read any of them (despite a deep appreciation for cats). This one was given to me last winter by French friends who knew of my love of the books of Georges Simenon.

I have to admit I do not see what all the fuss is about. First of all, nothing ever happens–nothing of interest. Somebody dies, and then somebody else dies, and then somebody else and a dog die, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly mysterious about of these deaths. The main character, Jim Qwilleran, goes about his daily routine writing, inviting people to eat, drink, and schmooze, and feeding or reading to his cats. He has no job and no need of one, except writing (he writes a weekly newspaper column and has already published several books–but not the kind that would support anyone in any kind of style.

New characters kept popping up until the end of the book. I couldn’t keep them straight in my mind and did not care enough about who they were to bother. I kept asking myself, would this be more interesting if I were reading it in English? Because in French, it doesn’t do anything for me. I had to force myself to keep reading. I finished it tonight with a sigh of relief. Finally! On to something better.

If anyone can explain why this series is so popular, I would be glad to hear you out.

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Ender’s Game

Posted by nliakos on November 6, 2011

by Orson Scott Card (T0R 1985, 1991–“Author’s Definitive Edition)

I am not a great aficionado of science fiction (although I do love fantasy); perhaps the only sci fi novel I really love is Out of the Silent Planet, by C. S. Lewis (who also wrote the Chronicles of Narnia); I didn’t even care much for the sequels. But Ender’s Game came highly recommended by my cousin Phil, and although it took me several years to get around to reading it, I finally did.

When the story begins, Ender (Andrew Wiggin) is a mere six years old. He lives on a future Earth that has been attacked twice by the extraterrestrial “buggers”, huge, intelligent insect-like beings which are assumed to be planning a third attack with the aim of wiping out humanity so they can take over the earth. Because he is gifted in various ways, Ender is taken from his family (his parents, his beloved sister, and his monster brother) and sent to Battle School, where he deals with bullies and learns to fight in zero gravity. He spends five or six years there and then is abruptly transferred to Command School, where he is taught by an old man who beat the buggers off when he was young. This man tells Ender that he will continue his training to defeat the evil buggers. However, the training is not what it seems.

The reader cannot help but like and admire Ender, who is both brave and kind. His worst fear is that he is a natural killer, like his brother Peter. But we know that he is at heart a gentle genius.

I am not sure I would want to read other books in the series, but I did enjoy this one, and it provides a lot of food for thought.

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