Very glad to have the first season of the HBO series under my belt before starting the books; I really feel this has better prepared me for keeping trVery glad to have the first season of the HBO series under my belt before starting the books; I really feel this has better prepared me for keeping track of the different characters as well as the name pronunciations. Both of which I'm often quite horrible with. Just... bad, really. This allows for more time to enjoy the story itself and less time stumbling through some of the longer names and backpedaling to pinpoint previously mentioned characters each time they reappear. (Half of the 'Ser's and 'Maester's still blur together, regardless.) Though I do have to wonder how knowing the material ahead of time effected my enjoyment of the book, either for good or bad. I guess we'll see as I read the next books before the subsequent seasons of the show.
Not being a typical fan of fantasy (How can something with magic and whimsy end up so dry? And so often?) I was reluctant to start the series and, as such, started this book bracing myself for endless descriptions of geography, lessons on laws of the land, and other sundry info dumps. What I soon found, however, is that Martin used the brilliant tactic of having the majority of the chapters coming from the viewpoints of impressionable children and it is through their adolescent learning and understanding of their own land that we are gradually exposed to new information and world-building. There's a further stroke of genius on having each of these characters, regardless of age, teetering on the cusp of adulthood then hurled into new roles of responsibility or a general about-face from their old lives, scattering them across the map and into new situations that expand the scope of the world for the reader. On top of this, I've quickly noticed that Martin's paragraphs - even single sentences - are fully-loaded and provide ever so much for the mind to chew on. He somehow manages to turn a passage that is, at first glance, just a visual description into something that also seeps emotion and plot. And let's not leave out the level of detail and tangibility to the entire world! Quite impressive.
I know going into this series that Martin is open to killing off any of his characters, so I'm going to try my best to not get too attached to any one person. That said, you can't really help yourself. I think it goes without saying for most people that Tyrion is a favorite character. He may be our only regular source for humor in this book, and even then that humor is intelligent and scathing. Despite his being a Lannister, his *ahem* shortcomings have given him a healthy measure of humanity. I took an immediate liking to Arya and can't wait to see what becomes of her; she's strong-minded and open to see and learn new things, even (or especially) when she's told it isn't a girl's place to do such things. On a similar note, I also really like Jon Snow's character, who is just as strong-minded and open as Arya but is also weighed down with this sense that he has to prove himself because he's a bastard. I feel like there's more to the mystery behind his birth mother ((view spoiler)[She is described as having violet eyes... Targaryen? Is Jon half dragon? (hide spoiler)]) and look forward to possibly seeing that unfold. I'm also fascinated by The Wall and further north, so having Jon act as our reader proxy for exploring this place is equally great. There could be a book on the Night's Watch alone. Oh, and do the direwolves count as characters? Cause, yeah... ♥ the direwolves!
Just for fun: prediction time! It's always amusing to declare your thoughts on the mystery - try solving the whodunnit - well before the official reveal. The best part is looking back and laughing at yourself when you're wrong and gloating when you're right. This go around I'm considering the murder of Jon Arryn. (view spoiler)[Oh, sure, it's easy to push it off onto the Lannisters, but what's the fun in that? And, honestly, it's a little too easy to the point where they just scream 'red herring'. Less than halfway through the book, before even meeting the following character, and I found my number one suspect: Lady Lysa Arryn. Two miscarriages, two stillbirths, and her husband is planning on sending her only child off to be fostered by another Lord? Most sane mothers will do anything to keep their children... a crazy, mollycoddling mother like Lysa would truly define this case of 'anything'. Though I have to admit, the increasingly regular mentions of young Robert's fostering, Lysa's reaction, and the contradiction of whether Tywin or Stannis was slated to foster has left me doubting because now it seems too obvious. Jon Arryn could very well have died for something else altogether and we just haven't heard about it yet. Littlefinger, for example, seems rather suspicious in this regard. And all, really. But for the time being I'm going to stand by my theory with Lysa as the culprit, at least by command. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Love. Death. Grief. Depression. Strength. Overcoming. Something that explores the darkness of human emotions somehow isn't dark itself. There's a simpLove. Death. Grief. Depression. Strength. Overcoming. Something that explores the darkness of human emotions somehow isn't dark itself. There's a simplicity to the prose that still manages to say so very much, giving tangibility to something that's usually personal and just out of reach of human vocabulary. It's lovely and sweet and hopeful.
In Kitchen, Mikage has a strength of life - even in her despair - that I admire and, honestly, envy. The companion story, Moonlight Shadow, gives us a beautiful view of saying good-bye....more
Nothing but admiration for its abrasive truth through hearty prose. Oe's use of metaphor was perfection. If this story is any indication of the styleNothing but admiration for its abrasive truth through hearty prose. Oe's use of metaphor was perfection. If this story is any indication of the style in the rest of his books, I greatly look forward to reading more.
The protagonist, Bird, is stripped of a typical reservedness to expose the shameful horrors that can lurk in one's mind, especially during emotional unrest, as he works his way through the mire and comes to grips with choices, sacrifices, and the strength required for both.
While Bird's personal matter isn't one I can directly relate to, I certainly relate to the art of escapism and the black pit it can become. I think Bird's story is one that can at least resonate with people in terms of our own personal journeys that shape the decisions we make and the universe we choose to follow....more
I'm typically a fan of this sort of story where the bright-eyed and hopeful youth starts a revolution (large or small) and teaches the old guys a lessI'm typically a fan of this sort of story where the bright-eyed and hopeful youth starts a revolution (large or small) and teaches the old guys a lesson, so it comes as no shock that I enjoyed this story a lot. Oddly, though, what I appreciated most out of the story was the detailed tech explanations. It felt like doing research on an important topic, set into an enjoyable cloud of fiction.
It's left me itching to build my own laptop just the way I want it, mod an Xbox, and try my hand at coding. In other words, trying something completely new....more
Such a compelling look into the mind of a serial killer. I found that I had a great deal of compassion mixed into revulsion for the character of DolarSuch a compelling look into the mind of a serial killer. I found that I had a great deal of compassion mixed into revulsion for the character of Dolaryde, and held out hope that he would be saved from the horrible deeds he was fated to enact.
I remember reading this in high school, around the time we started studying serial killers in Psychology, and just burned right through the book. We had a guest speaker who specialized in serial cases and he highly recommended this book shortly after I had read it. I wholeheartedly second the recommendation....more
Not much to say; I loved it. It's an instant favorite. A perfectly executed theme of that bittersweet dichotomy of life, where an air of beauty and haNot much to say; I loved it. It's an instant favorite. A perfectly executed theme of that bittersweet dichotomy of life, where an air of beauty and happiness somehow manages to seep through even the deepest moments of devastation.
Each character definitely has their own way with words, which is another important theme of this book. Death was a most excellent narrator, both in terms of his role (and distance) in the story and in the way he chose to tell the story. He often gave tangibility to what is otherwise a vague idea or emotion. His use of metaphor, simile, what-have-you was spectacular and sometimes even a tiny bit whimsical without ever feeling silly. And Max's books were especially amazing....more
One of my absolute favorite assigned reads for school... oddly enough, this was assigned in our math class. I've always really liked solving puzzles,One of my absolute favorite assigned reads for school... oddly enough, this was assigned in our math class. I've always really liked solving puzzles, so that element immediately sucked me in. Then there were my own similarities to the main character, Turtle Wexler. Things were made even better, though, by having our teacher turn this into an active read where we really did play along with the book, in trying to solve the mystery. The class was split into groups and each group received their own collection of tangible clues. So not only was it a truly enjoyable read, but it made for some fun school time memories as well.
I'm sure I still have a copy of this at my mom's house - really should track it down and read it again....more
The story is quite marvelous, most definitely enchanting, and it has been an absolute joy to hear Gaiman himself reading it. Not only is he a great stThe story is quite marvelous, most definitely enchanting, and it has been an absolute joy to hear Gaiman himself reading it. Not only is he a great storyteller, writing wise, but he's also a great story teller. Everything about this has been a pure delight.
From the onset of chapter 2 it's obvious that Gaiman has a rich understanding for the way a child's mind works, which adds a great deal to the wonderful humor found throughout the story and the interesting characters Bod encounters. Though expecting the revelation in chapter 7 - and loving the audience's reaction when he ends that day's reading right at the big reveal - I was still riveted and shocked when it finally occurred. And the ending... gloriously bittersweet with a great message for anyone, living in a graveyard or otherwise.
Now I'm left with a need for a tangible copy of this book in my hands to read over and over again, as well as a longing to know just what kind of life adventures await Nobody Owens.
(Watched/listened to Gaiman reading this on the video tour at mousecircus.com, thus not including it in yearly book list. Must physically read it myself to add to said list.)...more
Even with limited knowledge of Greek mythology this proved to be a really enjoyable, fun read as it was particularly interesting to see how the deitieEven with limited knowledge of Greek mythology this proved to be a really enjoyable, fun read as it was particularly interesting to see how the deities evolved and would now function in our contemporary settings....more