Well, first things first: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is infinitely superior to anything in the Twilight series: I blazed through Meyers due t...moreWell, first things first: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is infinitely superior to anything in the Twilight series: I blazed through Meyers due to the quality of the writing. If I spent more than fifteen or twenty seconds per page I began to feel an overwhelming urge to find the nearest Mormon and incontrovertibly demonstrate to him the falsity of his personal views on eschatology in a way that would have made the baby Jesus cry. I'm going through Collins at the same pace for the same reason, but on the other end of the spectrum: the woman can write. She uses humour. And the humour is funny. There is suspense, and it's downright suspenseful. It's a book written for children, by a modern author, and I would honestly choose reading this book over asking a father who loathes the very essence of my being for permission to court his only daughter. In fact, though intended for an older audience, these were on par with the best of the Harry Potter books.
That said, these are "children's books" in the same way that Saw V: 3D is a romantic comedy.
The basic premise is--and here I should give some sort of spoiler alert, but I have no intention of doing so as I probably detest you for having the gall to breathe and can't be bothered to waste words that could be spent belittling your meager existence--but the basic premise is as follows: in a dystopian future, the North American Continent has been divvied up into thirteen "Districts" ruled by a "Capitol." Due to a failed rebellion some three quarters of a century before, the Capitol exacts a tribute in children from each of the twelve surviving Districts (District Thirteen is believed to have been nuked off the face of the planet, but I don't think I believe her), one boy and one girl from each district for a total of twenty-four children, who have to compete in an extended, televised, gladitorial death-match. The battle can go on for weeks, and the one child to survive wins. Our story takes place in District Twelve, where the sixteen-year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers for the "Hunger Games" in place of her twelve-year old sister, Prim, who had been selected. Other characters of interest are her alcoholic mentor, her mother, the boy going to fight with her, and her friend and hunting partner that she should end up marrying but probably won't.
The book, as I said, is very well written. It is a thriller, and I kept forgetting to breathe throughout the book (even though I knew she'd survive, or the next two in the trilogy would be very boring). I was surprised at the method of her survival, and the ending of the first book might as well have been ended the way Thucydides ends for all the closure it gives us. An easy four stars, an easy R rating whenever it's converted into film.(less)
Another of the Bob Lee Swagger books, and a better (I would say). Swagger is older--in his sixties--and the battles take place in Japan. It's quite go...moreAnother of the Bob Lee Swagger books, and a better (I would say). Swagger is older--in his sixties--and the battles take place in Japan. It's quite good, with a few cautions: it is extremely bloody, and realistically so. One of the chief villains is a pornographer, and, though none of it is dealt with explicitly or in a titillating fashion, it is there. Finally, there is some language, though much of it is called for.
The tale refers to the legend of the 47 ronin, which is magnificent, and is largely correct so far as it delves into Japanese legends, as well as the making of the great samurai swords, though with one exception: the swords are not made in a curved shape. They are made straight, but the larger mass of metal in the back of the sword contracts more than the smaller mass in the front during the cooling process, causing the blade to curve.
It is a typical Stephen Hunter book: good fun, very exciting, and has a truly clever twist that blindsided me. I'd like to claim that it was simply due to my blazing through the book, but I can't, as it would have blindsided me had I taken my time. It is very well done, and Hunter seems to have polished his craft as he practices it more.(less)
Very obviously written by a woman, with a hefty dose of the romantically absurd/absurdly romantic (a guy actually kissing the ground that his wife wal...moreVery obviously written by a woman, with a hefty dose of the romantically absurd/absurdly romantic (a guy actually kissing the ground that his wife walked on, and the balcony she rested her hand on, stuff like that). Kinda reminded me of the "romantic idealism" of the 18-19th centuries, and as such, was utter tripe. But, if you took it in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, and if you have a dangerously high tolerance for romantic nonsense (hint: if I said, "Cat: f-o-x: cat," and you knew what I was quoting, then this is you. Obviously, it is me), then you'll probably enjoy it. I wouldn't spend more than a couple days on it, though.
I've noticed: the ridiculously sappy romantic stories always make better movies than books, as you can't portray all the nonsense driveling out of the lead male characters deep, piercing, sensitive eyes, or how the lead female character is so torn between being stupid or demonstrating that she has a functioning brain cell or two. The Ian McKellan (Chauvlin) and whoever else adaptation of this was more well done and more enjoyable than the book in many ways.
All in all, a fun read, but nothing to write a three-paragraph review about.(less)
Quite well done, very objective and thorough. Boice is fundamentally compromised with the scientific world, but it is outweighed by the level of study...moreQuite well done, very objective and thorough. Boice is fundamentally compromised with the scientific world, but it is outweighed by the level of study that he put into the series.(less)
So far it is enjoyable, if a bit dry. Nothing really remarkable prose-wise, but content has a few notable issues.
First, his classification of oration...moreSo far it is enjoyable, if a bit dry. Nothing really remarkable prose-wise, but content has a few notable issues.
First, his classification of oration is somewhat odd--it doesn't include poetry or anything that we would consider "just for fun." "The immediate end of eloquence is to produce in the hearer some practical volition."--page 30. "The end, I repeat, of every oration is to make men do."--page 34 But, if you just insert "sermon" for each "oration," it works out pretty well.
Second, he doesn't (and this surprised me, considering his uncompromising nature) consider it appropriate for a sermon to alienate. I understand this as a general rule, and I'm sure he just doesn't qualify it, or maybe I just haven't reached the qualification yet. Whatever. Just keep that in mind.
Third, and this was the big one for me, is that when speaking of the Sabbath, he seems to do what we all too often do--separate the week into secular and spiritual (page 42). The week is not ours with the Lord's Day being God's. The week is God's, and the Lord's Day is for us to renew the covenant that we broke over the week, and then start serving God in a new week. This is something that he lived correctly, but apparently taught wrongly, as it wasn't a big concern for his day. It is for ours.
Fourth, and this was an ouch, he seems to think that humans are rational, which we generally aren't: "How shall the heart be reached, except through the head?"--53. Generally, we should ask, "How shall the head be reached, except the defenses of the heart be superseded?" We don't use logos to affect a change in pathos, but vice versa.
However, it has so far been excellent, with a great wealth of invaluable teaching.(less)
Very enjoyable and informative (with particular eloquence on the subject of famines and overpopulation).
Worth reading once, and worth referring to aft...moreVery enjoyable and informative (with particular eloquence on the subject of famines and overpopulation).
Worth reading once, and worth referring to after that.
"Sorry Al (Gore), for calling you a fascist twinkie and intellectual dolt. It's nothing personal. I just think you have repulsive totalitarian inclinations and the brains of a king charles spaniel."(less)
Interesting, and very paradigmatically novel (to me--it's actually really old). Has the crucial flaw that men are, and desire to do, good, and that go...moreInteresting, and very paradigmatically novel (to me--it's actually really old). Has the crucial flaw that men are, and desire to do, good, and that good necessarily equates to pleasure. Also assumes that evil necessarily is painful. Keep that in mind, and enjoy. Some decent satire, and pretty quick fun.(less)
Very enjoyable. Here's a review from my blog, but keep in mind that I did greatly enjoy it.
Book Review: The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point, by Malcom...moreVery enjoyable. Here's a review from my blog, but keep in mind that I did greatly enjoy it.
Book Review: The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell, surprised me. Firstly, I was surprised that I read it--NY Times bestseller with the subtitle "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" just doesn't sound like me. I hate people, and if enough of them like something, I generally won't. But, I put aside my arrogant elitism (just kidding--I don't know how) and read it. Secondly, I was surprised that I loved it. It was a very good book, and worthy of however many hours you put into it.
Gladwell traces social movements that, at some point, take off, "tip," and explode. He then tries to pin down what (and who) makes them do so. It is quite fascinating--The mavens, connectors and salesmen, the law of the few, how Blues' Clues surpassed Sesame Street, how people behave when some of them are made prison guards and the others prisoners (near torture and a riot within one week), and many, many more things from smoking to why a suited white male pulls a gun and shoots four black gangster-like teens on a subway. It really is fascinating, and will be a very valuable reference book for years to come.
There was, however, one problem of considerable importance (at least to someone like me), and that was his view on the importance of parenting.
Now, someone like Gladwell is hard to refute, as he simply states facts that he (and others) have assimilated, and though being unbiased is impossible, he is what we would consider unbiased. The problem I found was not in what he said, but what he failed to say. Here is the situation.
"...our environment plays as big--if not bigger--a role as heredity in shaping personality and intelligence..." and, "whatever that environmental influence is, it doesn't have a lot to do with parents."
This opinion is based off of several tests that seem quite incontrovertible, and indeed, upon closer review, are quite correct. He elaborates by stating "the environmental influence that helps children become who they are--that shapes their character and personality--is their peer group." So, he holds that the peer group itself supercedes parents in the influence wielded upon the members of the group. This is, astonishingly, entirely correct. We find it (if vaguely) in the Scripture: "a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife:" the "peer group" is what man is designed for, and it affects him tremendously, even more than his parents.
But this in no way takes away from the affect that the parents have--they are the screening process that his peers have to pass, and this is the fundamental point that Gladwell misses. And why does he miss it? Because all to often, it is invisible, qua, not there. All in all, his assessment of the importance of peers is quite correct, and should serve as a rather striking warning to us: no matter what you say and do to your kids, who you let them spend their time with away from you will define them more than you ever will. Ouch.(less)
Best of the Potter books by far. It does show that there is no such thing as pure evil, only good twisted beyond repair. Requires three pages of a rev...moreBest of the Potter books by far. It does show that there is no such thing as pure evil, only good twisted beyond repair. Requires three pages of a review or none at all, and since I'm lazy, guess which one you're going to get.
The most annoying things about it are 1. We never really get to know the main character's wife: she's still a throwaway character, and 2. Why on earth doesn't she give the Defense Against the Dark Arts position to Harry? Oh well.(less)