This is another one of those good, casual reads that you do actually need to devote a bit of focus to. Not really to follow the story itself, but more...moreThis is another one of those good, casual reads that you do actually need to devote a bit of focus to. Not really to follow the story itself, but more to keep track of the characters. The basic gist of The Forgotten Garden is that you're following three different characters, in three different times, down one storyline.
As fun, genuine, and engrossing as the book was there was nothing super remarkable about it. The characters, quite frankly, are typical and nothing special. The story, a bit different from what's currently out there, bordered on predictability - things meant to come as a surprise weren't very surprising. Morton's writing was actually really good at transporting you to the various locations we venture too. I felt she gave more life to the places and things rather than the people. There was also a certain fluidity that keeps the reader engaged.
I think The Forgotten Garden is a vacation book. Something to take along and read on your downtime to relax even further. It's fascinating that you will be transported even further away than you already are on your trip, to different times and places. A vacation within a vacation.(less)
**spoiler alert** A true gripping, classic, gothic horror novel. That's the best way to summarize why I loved this book, and why, despite practically...more**spoiler alert** A true gripping, classic, gothic horror novel. That's the best way to summarize why I loved this book, and why, despite practically thriving on scary stories growing up, this still had me scared to turn my lights out when going to bed. It's not so much of a jump-out-at-you or gorey type of horror, it's,a s I've said, a gothic type horror with multiple tense moments and your imagination running wild. It's exactly what the characters are going through.
You do have to give this book some time, though, when starting up. It's a very slow and gradual build up, full of lengthy, but beautiful, descriptions and narratives. In the beginning there's a lot more normalcy with just a tiny dash of the oddness that will later come in full force. The slow build combined with that normalcy creates the base a solid momentum to make the scary happenings absolutely terrifying. That's why I tell you to stick through the beginning, it will lend you a false sense of security, but fall into it if you want to actually be scared. Waters' flowing, realistic and steady narrative also lends a huge hand to the creeping fear and heart-pounding terror, because it makes you think and see this all really happening. To me, there's nothing scarier than the idea that something so creepy could very well be real.
The only real downside I had with the book was that right near the end of the book the story sort of drifted and lost my attention. Thinking back on it now I could see it as Waters luring her readers back into that safe bubble they had been in at the beginning, thus allowing them to be completely caught off guard by what I'd call a second (and startling) climax. Still, it caused the book, which had built up such good speed, to lose that momentum.
One thing I should warn some potential readers about, and this is where the spoiler I warned you about comes in (highlight to read): is that there is a rather unnerving dog death in the book. It is neccessary to the plot (at least in my opinion), but as an animal lover I was really, really disturbed by the situation leading up to and causing the dog's death. The death is far from violent, but it's the reason behind the death that could disturb you as much as it did me. I just wanted to give other animal lovers a heads up, especially if you can't even go near anything dealing with an animals death.
If you're looking for a good, classic and creepy read The Little Stranger is definitely a book you should investigate. Let me reiterate, it's not a Stephen King type scary, nor is it a gratuitous violence type scary. It is a classic, Edgar Allan Poe, messes with your mind, bump in the night type scary. Waters perfectly captures that fear we all feel when we're home, alone in the house at night, and every dark corner holds something secret, menacing, sinister... a little stranger.(less)
Despite the grade I'm giving the book I'd still advise all to read it. It's a touching, raw, emotional, true story that everyone should read. My criti...moreDespite the grade I'm giving the book I'd still advise all to read it. It's a touching, raw, emotional, true story that everyone should read. My critique for the book is not going to be about story or characters because I can't critique those. Rather this will pay closer attention to Ackerman's writing and presentation of these actual people and events.
There was something about Ackerman's writing that just rubbed me the wrong way. I guarantee others have and will read this book and adore her style. She has a certain rambling disconnect at times. There were moments when the subject seemed to drift to something completely different mid-sentence. Sometimes she'd suddenly distance herself from the subject matter, not going into detail or further explanation, which was out of place with her typically staying right in the thick of it. The worst was really the rambling, though. For example, at one point she goes on for nearly two solid pages listing all the different types of bugs in this massive collection. Yes, maybe she was highlighting the enormity and meticulous care that went into the collection, but I found it unneccessary and took away from the story.
Ackerman also went in the direction I refer to as "embellished non-fiction" where she over describes certain things like looks, thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. that we can't very well say happened for certain. She clearly has done extensive research and does her best to keep all dialogue straight from the actual person's mouth. But the "embellished" part clashed with the hard facts Ackerman provides the reader, disrupting the flow of the story slightly.
One last odd thing was the slip then switch in the narrative voice near the end. It randomly goes from 3rd person to 1st person. I've seen (read?) it done in some fiction novels as a gimmick, but never in a non-fiction historical recount. Like I said- a bit strange.
Honestly, though, all that stuff is nothing compared to the story being told. I was able to pass by all my qualms and issues with Ackerman's writing because I wanted to keep going. I don't know why we had never heard about the Zabinski's before and the amazing things they did. Thanks to Ackerman their story is now out at large for the world to hear and share.
So ignore my critique, ignore my grade, and read The Zookeeper's Wife.(less)
Upon finishing this book I was not surprised it had gotten the recognition and awards it did. Everything about this book was crafted in such raw reali...moreUpon finishing this book I was not surprised it had gotten the recognition and awards it did. Everything about this book was crafted in such raw reality no matter where you were in the book you saw it, felt it, smelt it, lived it. The characters were all real and utterly flawed, and their situations just as much. Honestly, there isn't really anything to complain about this book.
I have to encourage you though: stick through the beginning of the book. It has a very slow start and can initially be slightly boring and long-winded, but stick through it, it's completely worth it in the end. The slow build up actually helped the story and helped bring the main characters to life. Someone asked me if the book was a true story or a work of fiction and I actually had to stop and think about it for a moment. Certain situations are described with such clarity and detail that I wouldn't have been surprised if they actually had taken place. And unfortunately with the bombing of England during WWII, it's pretty likely Levy didn't really need to stretch her imagination and writing. It's also unfortunate and frustrating to know that the racial prejudice rampant throughout the story is also very reflective of history.
I can't say anything more about this book. Just that- it was amazing. Upon the halfway point I had trouble putting the book down. Levy's research, writing, characters, story, places... everything was brilliantly combined to create a unique and beautiful novel. Pick it up, keep going through the slow build and watch everything come together in a book that will leave you reeling.(less)
If you were to take The Heretic's Daughter and combine it with The Da Vinci Code then up the writing quality by at least 75% you would have The Physic...moreIf you were to take The Heretic's Daughter and combine it with The Da Vinci Code then up the writing quality by at least 75% you would have The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. It combines the story of families affected by the Salem witch trials, with a historical, research-type mystery and just comes out with a fantastic, hard-to-put-down, fun read.
The Salem witch trials have been told again and again and again, and as fascinating as I find them, a unique story about them is hard to come by. But Katherine Howe proved it can be done and takes the trials in a completely different direction. What if there were actual witches being persecuted? What if witchcraft is real? What if science and religion are both right? Katherine explores all of these questions and gives interesting, if not slightly far-fetched but fun, answers.
The only slight flaw with the book was that it was slow to develop and then everything suddenly happens all at once and is finished really fast. I guess I felt there should have been a bit more from the end because we were given so much in the beginning. I also found that the supposedly mysterious antagonist was not a mystery and was easily found out before the big reveal. But other than that I found Howe's writing very enjoyable. Her characters were fairly well developed, her descriptions beautiful, the story well thought out and interesting, and her research and attention to detail very impeccable.
Overall a fun and interesting read. There will be moments where you find it very difficult to put it down.(less)
Whenever I go home I "steal" the books my mom has recently read. She hands them over to me giving me a brief summary of them and then her opinion. Thi...moreWhenever I go home I "steal" the books my mom has recently read. She hands them over to me giving me a brief summary of them and then her opinion. This one came with only the same summary and opinion of, "It's pretty much what it looks like." Basically, a classier, slightly better written version of your dime store romance novel. And it was that. There's nothing really to rave about with Mistress of Rome but there's nothing to criticise either.
Quinn does a good job of transporting the reader to Rome and keeping them there. I didn't feel at all her writing was pushing too modern of an edge at all. And for the most part her writing was well done and polished, but again nothing to rave about. The characters were all right, most of them developed enough to keep you intrigued. The only character I did have a problem with, and also what I found to be the biggest problem with the book was our main villianess Lepida Pollia. She was one demensional and just mean to be mean and cruel. A main character thrown in there to create conflict and no other reason why. There were superficial reasons given for her cruelty, but no deeper meaning behind the characters drive for destruction. I like my villians to be well-developed, it always makes for a much, much more interesting story.
I applaud Quinn for keeping the writing and tone of the novel classy. There were many situations presented that could take the story down a vulgar rode, both with sexual exploits and gratuitous violence, but she confronts each with sensitivity for a reader that could be easily offended, but indulge the reader that wants a little more. A careful balance that proves Quinn does have plenty of skill as a writer, and I think she can really only grow in her future works (this was her first novel).
I'd consider Mistress of Rome a fun vacation read. Pack it in a suitcase, read a chapter or two on the beach or before going to bed after a busy day. It's not a book that requires a lot of attention or focus. Characters flit in and out, the writing is solid enough to follow, but not so intricate as to force you to think a lot. It is a generally good read, thus the C+ grade. Like I said, just nothing to really rave about. I will probably check out Kate Quinn again though. Maybe on a trip to Italy? (less)
According to my mom I was told I need to put all other books on hold and read this one. Not just because it was so good, but because if I waited any l...moreAccording to my mom I was told I need to put all other books on hold and read this one. Not just because it was so good, but because if I waited any longer she may not remember it amongst all the other books she's reading and then not be able to talk about it in nearly as much depth as she wants too. Thank you, Mom. Of all the wonderful books I've read this year, I have to say that this one has nestled into the top five.
I was a little edgy at first, as I'm sure most people were and are about reading this book, to know that two out of the three main characters are black and the author is a white woman. Were their voices going to come across as unrealistic, stereotypical, and affected? Within a page my doubts were gone. Every voice, black or white, that spoke in this novel was a real person. Stockett's author's note gives the impression that two characters were based on her own maid growing up and our third leading lady was a reflection of Kathryn herself. But despite the real inspirations, there was still a lot of Stockett's own skill as a writer coming through to make these characters their own; fully developed and multi-demensional. Even bit players that graced only a few pages were real to me.
Gripping is the best word to describe the novel. By the final chapters there was no way I could put it down. I needed to know what the final outcome for Minny, Aibileen and Skeeter was going to be. I don't think I've felt my heart pound and my stomach clench as much, even when reading an action book. The whole time I was placed right in the thick of things, and even though Stockett doesn't quite go into detail describing people and places most of the time, I could still see everything down to the last tea cozy in Miss Walter's house. She gives the reader freedom in seeing things the way they want.
It's an upsetting read too. It's outrageous to read what blacks in the south had to live with every day. The segregation, hatred, laws, etc. What's so upsetting is that Stockett didn't have to make it up. All those laws and attitudes actually existed, and unfortunately still exist today. There will always be Hilly Holbrooks to varying degress out there, that we will still have to fight against. Speaking of Hilly Holbrook- she will be a new character to add to your most vile characters in existence list. We all have that list in our heads. And as much as you will hate her, she's one of the main things that will keep you reading the story.
Actually, there are a lot of things that will keep you reading this book. From wonderful beginning, to exciting middle, to absolutely perfect end, this book takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It's definitely a ride everyone needs to take.(less)
I'm reading Gladwell's books out of order. I first read Outliers (his 3rd book), now I've read Blink (his 2nd), next I'm going to try and get my hands...moreI'm reading Gladwell's books out of order. I first read Outliers (his 3rd book), now I've read Blink (his 2nd), next I'm going to try and get my hands on The Tipping Point and then finally his latest- What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures. But let's focus on Blink now, shall we?
I've never really thought about our unconscious thinking process before reading Blink. I always knew it existed, but I never knew it went as far as Gladwell was able to explore in this book. Now I'm going to be constantly aware of my involuntary choices and judgements. The explanations about our subconscious choices and subliminal messages are going to be everywhere to me now. There's no way I'm going to be able to walk down a supermarket aisle and look at everything the same way again. This isn't one of those life-changing books, it's more of a life-awareness book.
The one thing that disappointed me about Blink vs. Outliers was that when Gladwell veered into fact-heavy portions, the book lost steam and my attention started to lag. The fact portions tended to be lengthy and drawn out, taking slightly from the overall flow of the book. Really, though, the book was extremely informative and engaging. I'd challenge anyone to read this book and not see the world even a little bit differently.(less)
Recommended to me by a fellow Sam I should have known that this was going to be a good book. I trust my taste in books, so why not a fellow bookworm n...moreRecommended to me by a fellow Sam I should have known that this was going to be a good book. I trust my taste in books, so why not a fellow bookworm named Sam? It was better than good, it was great. Not at all what I expected there's not a book out there like this and I highly doubt there ever will be. Some books kind of come close with the absurdity rampant throughout the book, but while totally out there it's also very real which is what made the book.
You question yourself being so devoted to following a character so... foul. Ignatius is not all that likeable. He has his okay points, such as he's intelligent, well-spoken and sticks to his guns, but everything else about this character is as disagreeable to everyone and everything as his stomach is to him. The characters he interacts with day in and out could be considered just as awful, but in comparison to Ignatius they practically come across as saint-like.
Toole's approach to his storytelling is one of my favorites for authors to do and one I try (not always successfully) to emulate, and that's just letting the story tell itself. He doesn't fill it with character background information, or lengthy discriptions of places. If it needs it to enhance the story, he'll do it, but for the most part he leaves that stuff alone. Therefore the reader now has free reign over the story, imagining and picturing things the way they want to picture them. Toole's writing is also some of the most articulate, clever and witty I've read in a while. With another author a passage may illicit a small smirk, with Toole I was laughing out loud and then reading the passage to whomever may be listening nearby.
I am now going to be leaving the book at home for my parents to read, and I'm going to tell you the same thing I've been telling them- this book is fantastic and a definite must-read. It's uniqueness may rub you the wrong way at first, but you'll find yourself quickly falling into it, and before you know it, you'll be completely emmersed.(less)