It's not a real addiction, like to heroin, but Very is a little too attached to her computer, her iPhone, her iPod, her fascinating online life that d...moreIt's not a real addiction, like to heroin, but Very is a little too attached to her computer, her iPhone, her iPod, her fascinating online life that distracts her from what she should be doing: passing her classes in her first year at Columbia. During Spring semester her friends stage an intervention, and before long, there's an ultimatum. So Very goes off to try and learn how to be.
Strong book. the reader can both understand what's so appealing about Very, and what is driving her friends mad. Like an recovery story, her path has some reversals, but it is hopeful.
Suze can see ghosts, and for the most part, it's annoying as hell. Sometimes she can help them take care of their unfinished business and move on, but...moreSuze can see ghosts, and for the most part, it's annoying as hell. Sometimes she can help them take care of their unfinished business and move on, but often they're not entirely cooperative. Then she gets to go into full-on Buffy mode.
There's some hotties, there's interesting-but-unpopular friends, and there's lots of knock-down, drag-out ghost-fighting. Sheer entertainment, and I really enjoyed the non-believing central character, particularly when she has to perform an exorcism. Ha! Exactly what I needed.(less)
Grace has grown up among the People, an indigenous group living in the mountains and fighting an endless guerrilla war against the man who rules their...moreGrace has grown up among the People, an indigenous group living in the mountains and fighting an endless guerrilla war against the man who rules their country. As the daughter of an outsider and a local man, the People have never had much use for her, so they give her to a man as his bride and train her to become a suicide bomber. The story takes place entirely within Grace's train trip across the desert to the border, beyond which lies freedom.
Scott is brilliant at getting inside the head of people who've been brain-washed into accepting their fate. During the course of this ride Grace re-examined everything she's every been told, taking truth apart to look for the flaws.
The only flaw in the story is that as tense as the trip is, nothing much happens except within Grace's head. We come to understand her very well, though. Sad and grim, the life of an oppressed people under a totalitarian dictator makes for insight, but not much fun in the reading.
A note on the cover: there's no reason to assume it has anything to do with her, but the unnamed model on the cover reminds me quite a bit of Meg Cabot (Author), which is wildly inappropriate.(less)
Whoa. It's staggering the amount of stuff that Pratchett manages to cover. The main plot follows the Inquisition's evil mastermind Vorbis, who wants t...moreWhoa. It's staggering the amount of stuff that Pratchett manages to cover. The main plot follows the Inquisition's evil mastermind Vorbis, who wants to inflict his religion on various other nearby countries. He is aided in his schemes by the young man Brutha who cannot read or write or sing, but has an eidetic memory, and also a very personal relationship with their god, Om, currently embodied in a tortoise.
That's plenty to be getting on with and would suffice a number of writers. But that's not all: there's travel, and danger, and geometry, and natural history, and technology, and the business of waging war, and how gods come to be in the Discworld, and plenty of love for libraries, with time to point out some amusing aspects of religious art, and indigenous architecture, and the entrepreneurial spirit, and a penguin.
It's a marvelous book, very nearly perfect. But that title is going to have to go to one of Pratchett's later works, because this one is almost completely devoid of women. Of course, the hierarchy of most established human religions is entirely men, but Pratchett has time to spend on the lesser figures among the religious, and those, in our world anyway, are usually women. Ephebe is presented as an entirely different sort of country, but the only women even mentioned there are prostitutes and a single goddess. Brutha's grandmother is mentioned a fair amount, but she would seem to be dead. On the basis of this one book one might assume that the human population of Discworld would die out entirely within one generation. It's a weird lapse from an author who usually gives women and girls at least equal time.
While I was working on other books, Veronica read Divergent, and then borrowed my library copy of Insurgent and zipped through it, and has since been...moreWhile I was working on other books, Veronica read Divergent, and then borrowed my library copy of Insurgent and zipped through it, and has since been standing over me saying "read it, read it NOW." I have finally succumbed.
No doubt there is much that would give me pause, possibly even bring my suspension of disbelief crashing down, if I stopped to think about it. But the whole thing zips along at a hasty pace, and it is so full of incident you can't pause for breath.
Now having finished it, I have to give Roth props. Aspects of the world-building which were problems to me in the first book are here shown to be problems in that world. There were a couple of things I really loved: Tris's skepticism, that causes her to question everything, and try to figure out what's going on and why; Dauntless cake (Veronica has decided it's Mad Hatter's black and white cake; the way Tris challenges her boyfriend. Zippy, lots of twists in the spaghetti, much swashbuckling, a leavening of grief and pain. I've suggested Veronica read Chaos Walking: A Trilogy next, to continue in the vein of strong female characters, and adventure.
Angels don't particularly interest me, but demons have dramatic potential. I love the whole opening section where we get to know Karou, and her blue h...moreAngels don't particularly interest me, but demons have dramatic potential. I love the whole opening section where we get to know Karou, and her blue hair, and her strange family and history, and her tiny perfect friend, and Prague itself. It feels wonderfully modern and hip and funny as well as just a bit off. And then it seriously goes off, and I loved it even more. the twists were good, everything felt natural when it was revealed, but I didn't guess too soon. Mostly I loved how kick-ass cool Karou was. Excellent fantasy.
Mye and Clent are grifters, petty conmen, always working the angles. Now they're broke, made to leave Mandelion after fomenting revolution, and trying...moreMye and Clent are grifters, petty conmen, always working the angles. Now they're broke, made to leave Mandelion after fomenting revolution, and trying to stay away from the people who are trying to kill them. But they're the good guys, and something is seriously wrong in the town of Toll. There's a huge cast of characters, double crosses, triple crosses, twists, turns, confusion on every side. Can a clever twelve-year-old make everything come right when everyone is against her? Of course she can, with a murderous goose watching her back.
Joe Hill hasn't published a bad word so far. Of the top of my head, there isn't a plotline more likely to bug me than "they murdered his girlfriend an...moreJoe Hill hasn't published a bad word so far. Of the top of my head, there isn't a plotline more likely to bug me than "they murdered his girlfriend and destroyed his life, now he's out for revenge." But that line doesn't do this story justice. Because Ig is a really good guy, first. And because Merrin exists as a real and rounded character, not just a plot device. A rich and rewarding novel.(less)
There aren't nearly enough novels about young people in poverty. Heartbreaking, even as it is a genuinely sweet and convincing love story, with lots o...moreThere aren't nearly enough novels about young people in poverty. Heartbreaking, even as it is a genuinely sweet and convincing love story, with lots of missteps along the way. And imbued with tragedy in a way that, say, Romeo and Juliet isn't, for me.
Oh, the relief of finishing. I was so worried about these two, so desperately wanting to help them. Odd that a teen romance should draw on my maternal instincts so hard. Moving, and sweet, and firmly grounded in 1986. Marvelous.
When Masterpiece Theater ran the Anthony Andrews/Jeremy Irons version I was in high school and I fell in love. Just like Charles Ryder, I fell in love...moreWhen Masterpiece Theater ran the Anthony Andrews/Jeremy Irons version I was in high school and I fell in love. Just like Charles Ryder, I fell in love with the whole charming family. I still am. And although I never took to calling a stuffed bear after a saint, I probably did feel rather vindicated in my ongoing affection for stuffies.(less)
When people start opining on the pages of the Wall Street Journal about how dark and disturbing YA fiction is, this is the sort of book you'd expect t...moreWhen people start opining on the pages of the Wall Street Journal about how dark and disturbing YA fiction is, this is the sort of book you'd expect them to hold up. Because it is just as dark and disturbing as it can be. Nick's single mother, a sometime user of heroin dies of an overdose right in the beginning, and Nick's life goes straight to hell. He's fourteen, he has no family, and his mother's best friend, who sincerely wants to look after him is thwarted by the system, her useless boyfriend, and her own children. Nick is promptly sent off to a facility for the most troubled boys where he is subjected to the useless cruelty of being beaten "like a man" by both the adults in charge and his fellow inmates. And then it gets worse when the reader discovers along with Nick that the only kindly adult to take an interest in him is a sexual predator, grooming him to be yet another in a long line of victims. And then it gets worse.
Burgess doesn't hold anything back. The book isn't prurient, but he does show us enough of what Nick endures to sicken the reader, and to explain how it works. The story is set in the early eighties, a time when the abuse of children was considered rare, and when the subject was still too taboo to be spoken of. It's a horrific story, but a rich one. Burgess doesn't let any characters off lightly. He shows how well-meaning people create the atmosphere in which a predator can thrive.
Truly, I can't imagine many parents wanting to discuss the subject with their children, nor many people recommending the book to teens. The behavior described is violent, and for the victims, soul-destroying. And yet, not talking about it allows this kind of abuse to flourish. Just as the works of Dickens highlighted the misery and abuse of the poor, with an idea to improvement, so does a book like this show us what needs to be done. Sexual predators are evil, and they terrify us, but how can we prevent them if we do not acknowledge them?
For some readers this book might serve as a warning, allowing them to identify harm before it attacks. For others the book will be a blessed reassurance that they are not to blame for their own victimization. For still others, the book will perhaps guide us to think about what we can do to prevent such horror from happening in the first place.
Yes, it is dark and disturbing, but we should be disturbed.
Ehrman is brilliant and clear and thoughtful and everyone should read this book. I especially enjoyed his chapter on Ecclesiastes, which resonated wit...moreEhrman is brilliant and clear and thoughtful and everyone should read this book. I especially enjoyed his chapter on Ecclesiastes, which resonated with me.
My original review, which I've been working on for two days, was less coherent, more my emotional response to reading the book. Then when I went to save, it vanished. Suffering is, I believe, due to random chance. Heh.
If you'd like to take a New Testament course with a popular professor, here you go. You can totally understand why he'd be popular. Each chapter addre...moreIf you'd like to take a New Testament course with a popular professor, here you go. You can totally understand why he'd be popular. Each chapter addresses some aspect of the research that goes into an historical-critical model, he lets us know what is consensus, and what is fringe. He explains the tools used in research, what the tools reveal about the origins of the books, and what isn't revealed. He discusses discrepancies between the gospels, for example, and what those discrepancies tell us about the writers, and what their concerns were. Fascinating stuff. Some of it was familiar, both from reading Ehrman's other books and from my father's preaching, which relied heavily on scholarship.
AS highly as I would recommend the book, it isn't for those committed to inerrancy. Otherwise I think it has tremendous appeal across the range of belief. It is, as well, a great starting place for anyone curious about the early years of Christianity.