This was a lot more tame than I thought it'd be. I was expecting to see a lot of fucked up things by a senseless sociopath from other readers' respons...moreThis was a lot more tame than I thought it'd be. I was expecting to see a lot of fucked up things by a senseless sociopath from other readers' response. It's from the perspective of someone who harms small animals, yes, but I feel sympathy and he is likable in a genuine way. There really wasn't any big descriptions of gore or anything. Don't take this as an assurance, because maybe I'm just a desensitized young person or a sociopath at heart. But I digress.
This book is funny. It's humour that will leave you vaguely nauseated and unsettled. The book centers around the return of Frank's brother, Eric, who has recently escaped from a psychiatric ward. In turn we learn about Frank, his ritualistic ways of dealing with the turmoil of his life and isolation on the island, and how he eventually learns more about himself. It's quite successful in giving away information in bits and pieces, so you keep reading for more of the story. It has you recalling the endless days of playing outdoors and is quite frank (Frank? ha!) in a way also reminiscent of childhood.
This could have been amazing. The ending was a huge let-down for me though. It felt like a whole different subject was tacked on after an anxious buildup, which made things feel unresolved and unsatisfactory. But I guess that's life.
And this, his first novel? Amazing. I wish I could do it better justice.(less)
Richard Feynman was really, really cool. In his book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" we get a collection of stories in a loose time line from chi...moreRichard Feynman was really, really cool. In his book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" we get a collection of stories in a loose time line from childhood and up until he won a Nobel Prize. Most stories focus on humour but also focus on learning through understanding and curiosity.
The writing is very casual, as if Feynman himself were telling you the story in person. Despite my favoring exceptional writing over anything, this collection really worked for me. Feynman has a lot of interesting experiences and his eccentricity was easy for me to relate to-- and maybe that's why I enjoyed this so much. It's a rare occurrence when I read about something and can really relate to it. It's nice.
**spoiler alert** The worlds, different species, and technologies are very well imagined. Matter follows many switching character perspectives, and wh...more**spoiler alert** The worlds, different species, and technologies are very well imagined. Matter follows many switching character perspectives, and while the characters are a bit hollow, you end up becoming acquainted with them from following through their experiences and travels.
The book deals with issues about differing technologically advanced species interacting with each other... this is a book in Bank's Culture series, and this is my first one, so I'm afraid if I explain anything about The Culture I will be retelling old news, or that maybe certain aspects of the book is knowledge easily acquired from his other books.
It's also difficult to describe what I found was lacking, because it could very well be that another book covers an issue (in particular I'm wondering more about the intelligent machine AIs in relation to the living species) that I wanted to hear more about.
Matter, admittedly, is lots of buildup to a rushed ending. But I felt the ending was rather fitting after I got over my anger about so many beings dying. It's very interesting to me how when reading, one gets very caught up in the small details of one single level of a world that is rather primitive compared to others, and how by messing with one mysterious artifact, boom, they're gone and everyone around them is gone and dying and we're soon racing the clock trying to stop something much worse than the death of a King or a prince while accompanied with really advanced, badass technology.
The subject matter didn't interest me very much. I liked the first part of the book best-- the chessboard, sports, and cosmic questions. A large sum o...moreThe subject matter didn't interest me very much. I liked the first part of the book best-- the chessboard, sports, and cosmic questions. A large sum of the book deals with global warming. The abortion chapter near the end was interesting, however.(less)
Apparently I read a bad collection; earlier stories. It shows. A lot of these were very predictable.
I don't think this was a very good introduction t...moreApparently I read a bad collection; earlier stories. It shows. A lot of these were very predictable.
I don't think this was a very good introduction to Philip K. Dick. I think I will read a novel next before delving into more short stories (and, if I ever do read more short stories, hopefully I'll get a later collection).
I'm told short stories are different from novels in that the characters in a short story do not matter, it's more the idea. It takes awhile to get used to this, at least for me. When reading these I felt a lof of them were hollow.
But I did get some cool ideas from these, and some were fun to read.
Here's my favorite quote, from Of Withered Apples.
"Along the edge of the field was a grove of ancient trees. Lifeless trees, withered and dead, their thin, blackened stalks rising up leaflessly. Broken sticks stuck in the hard ground. Row after row of dead trees, some bent and leaning, torn loose from the rocky soil by the unending wind.
Lori crossed the field to the trees, her lungs laboring painfully. The wind surged against her without respite, whipping the foul-smelling mists into her nostrils and face. Her smooth skin was damp and shiny with the mist. She coughed and hurried on, stepping over the rocks and clods of earth, trembling with fear and anticipation.
She circled around the grove of trees, almost to the edge of the ridge. Carefully, she stepped among the sliding heaps of rocks. Then --
She stopped, rigid. Her chest rose and fell with the effort of breathing. "I came," she gasped."
(I really do not know if this was intentional or not. Either way it makes me laugh.)
(ratings on the left) \\ 2 # "The Cookie Lady" 3 # "Beyond the Door" 4 # "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" 5 # "Jon’s World" 4 # "The Cosmic Poachers" 5 # "Progeny" 5 # "Some Kinds of Life" 4 # "Martians Come in Clouds" 3 # "The Commuter" 2 # "The World She Wanted" 4 # "A Surface Raid" 4 # "Project: Earth" 5 # "The Trouble with Bubbles" 5 # "Breakfast at Twilight" 5 # "A Present for Pat" 5 # "The Hood Maker" 1 # "Of Withered Apples" 3 # "Human Is" 1 # "Adjustment Team" 3 # "The Impossible Planet" 3 # "Impostor" 3 # "James P. Crow" 2 # "Planet for Transients" 4 # "Small Town" 3 # "Souvenir" 3 # "Survey Team" 5 # "Prominent Author"(less)
Descriptions, detail-- it was amazing. Peake can take a whole page to describe the position someone is s...moreTitus Groan is quaint. Where can I even begin?
Descriptions, detail-- it was amazing. Peake can take a whole page to describe the position someone is standing in, a chapter to describe a room. This sounds rather cringe-worthy put this way, but it's wonderfully done.
Maybe it's because of the setting and characters. The book takes place in a huge castle where daily life is ruled by strange, elaborate rituals. The characters seem overdone to the point of absurdity--
Maybe I should just stop. I feel I'm doing the book an injustice. But it truly is overdone in description and ridiculous in just about everything.
Apparently Peake died before completing the books and it was supposed to be much longer than a trilogy-- encompassing all of Titus Groan's life. Despite the book being called Titus Groan, Titus doesn't even reach the age of 2.
Anyway-- definitely going to find the next book (and despite the warnings that the last book is not worth the time, I'll probably read it too).(less)
If I could afford to judge people by their opinion of a book this one just might be it.
This was 10x better than Titus Groan. Or perhaps I was simply m...moreIf I could afford to judge people by their opinion of a book this one just might be it.
This was 10x better than Titus Groan. Or perhaps I was simply more adapted to the setting and writing style this time around. But this definitely had a better balance of description, characters, action, grimness, humour...
The first two books of the Gormenghast trilogy center around a vast castle governed by monarchy and strange, symbolic rituals (rituals in which even the inhabitants are unaware of the symbolism for, so long lost are they with time). Titus Groan is the 77th earl to the throne*, this second book chronicling his childhood and adolescence but also an array of other characters.
All of the inhabitants are wonderfully strange and fleshed out. Reading it is almost devilish when you're rooting for both sides, and nearly harrowing when one inevitably dies.
The detail is once again fantastic and never tiresome. I do not think there is one word in the entire book that could be dismissed. I liked how one reviewer likened it to Peake being an artist. I wish I could describe it better, how everything is depicted so deliberately yet so smoothly it reads..
All of this makes me forgive Peake for killing off so many beloved characters, ;__; (Where's the spoiler blackout when I need it?)
The next book is Titus Alone. I have been warned against reading it, for the author's declining health when writing it and the fact that the the books were supposed to be much longer than a trilogy, but I don't think I can resist.
'I am leavng,' said Titus. 'I am leaving Gormenghast. I cannot explain. I do not want to talk. I came to tell you and that is all. Good-bye, mother.'
He turned and walked quickly to the door. He longed with his whole soul to be able to pass through and into the night without another word being spoken. He knew she was unable to grasp so terrible a confession of perfidy. But out of the silence, that hung at his shoulder blades, he heard her voice. It was not loud. It was not hurried.
'There is nowhere else,' it said, 'You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast.' ...
Reading this was rather nice, you know, being able to lift the book from its resting place because it's not 900+ pages (ahem, 2666).
And that is basica...moreReading this was rather nice, you know, being able to lift the book from its resting place because it's not 900+ pages (ahem, 2666).
And that is basically it. Another beautiful character's story, Auxillo's, the Mother of Poetry, who hides in a woman's bathroom stall when the university that she does odd jobs for is invaded by armed forces in the 60's. The book is compromised of reflections of her past (and future) while staying in the restroom.
Auxillo is apparently featured in The Savage Detectives, which I have yet to read (but plan to) but if you are hesitant about starting a larger book I will recommend Amulet to get a taste for Bolano.
So what else is there to say, why do I like him so much? The sprawling run-on sentences, the poets, the characters, their stories, and Mexico itself-- how everything always leads back to it.
This was excellent, first book I remember reading in a whole day in a long while. I didn't see any indication that this was the author's first at all....moreThis was excellent, first book I remember reading in a whole day in a long while. I didn't see any indication that this was the author's first at all. But the plot was great and certainly would have made up for any other problems.(less)
Owen wants to send a hug to his grandmother, so when he and his mother get to the post office he hugs the "person" behind the counter and this produce...moreOwen wants to send a hug to his grandmother, so when he and his mother get to the post office he hugs the "person" behind the counter and this produces a chain reaction-- he giving the hug (by hugging) the mail sorter, and so on and so on until it gets to granny.
The reason "person" is in quotations is because in the pictures, all of the characters are different animals. I liked the pictures. I liked how it shows you how many people are involved in delivering something as simple as a letter (or in this case a hug.) It makes you think about the plane ride, and all the trucks your letter or package had to be on to get to your mailbox. This would be a pick for any kid expressing curiosity towards how the mail works.
But unfortunately, the story overall was a bit ho-hum. While an interesting idea there wasn't much that made you keep reading. There wasn't any suspense or humour. It's merely a chain of people, each person finding out who is to deliver the hug next and passing it on. It was clear my sibling was beginning to lose interest, which isn't good.
There's a bit of a twist ending that redeems things, but I'm afraid it comes a bit too late. Overall the story depends most on sentimentality, so if that isn't enough to keep interest for your kid I would pass it up (but how you could expect anything else from a book called The Giant Hug?)(less)
Starts on despair and melancholy, floats into the dream-like, and ends on that shattering melancholic note again. This one is in the first person whic...moreStarts on despair and melancholy, floats into the dream-like, and ends on that shattering melancholic note again. This one is in the first person which makes it more real.
As expected, there isn't a plot to be seen. The book works completely on keen observations of surroundings, and in such a way that gives insight in turn to Denton. I relate to him a lot, but I'm not sure why. He's just different and sensitive. I don't understand the reviews that mention homosexuality as a theme.
The book uses examples from his own career to reinforce facts... good sometimes, but I don't think it worked...moreForensic anthropology. Bones, bones bones.
The book uses examples from his own career to reinforce facts... good sometimes, but I don't think it worked out all the time though. I read this book wanting to know /facts/ about forensics, not descriptions of locations that seem to go on forever and are rather irrelevant (granted, temperatures are very relevant in forensics-- but that is not what I am referring to).
Anyway, there is some good stuff in here. Specifically, I found the person that got a degree in forensic art rather interesting. I find it scary that people can identify people by their faces. This is something I was not aware of until recently (realizing I am face-blind).
The book deals a lot with teeth and how valuable teeth and dental records are to identifying people, and how age, race, and gender can be identified from looking at a person's skeleton.
I am glad this book dealt with bones and not the more gruesome aspects of forensics. So it was easy to read, and still interesting without being... disgusting. Which is surprising for a book that deals with the Body Farm, but I suppose that's why they called it "BEYOND the body farm". :)(less)
**spoiler alert** At first I hated this book. The format and writing style took a bit of getting used to. The book was from the perspective of 3 peopl...more**spoiler alert** At first I hated this book. The format and writing style took a bit of getting used to. The book was from the perspective of 3 people-- two were teenagers, and you had to get used to their poor grammar and slang. The other character had Down's Syndrome, and wrote her entries in a poem format.
The main character is a teenage boy whom is HIV-positive. Someone hurts him, and the Down's Syndrome girl claims to witness Clinton, the other teenage boy hurting him.
The cover makes it sound like someone is lying. When it turns out they all are in their own ways. Alex and his family lie about how he contracted HIV, and want him to lie and say Clinton hurt him when he is sure he saw someone other than Clinton.
Clinton, at first, forbids to tell his mother where he was when the attack occurred. He also doesn't tell that he was the one that threw the rock at the window.
Daria, the girl with Down's Syndrome, never lies. But she is misunderstood. She meant to tell them that she saw Clinton throwing the rock at the window. And although she was there at the scene of the attack, she didn't see Clinton attacking Alex.
The book can easily be read in one sitting, considering it's extremely short. Recommended.(less)
This biography puts Feynman in a more balanced, neutral light for me. When reading his memoir(s) you only get a glimpse and rather slanted presentatio...moreThis biography puts Feynman in a more balanced, neutral light for me. When reading his memoir(s) you only get a glimpse and rather slanted presentation if you are really wanting to learn about Richard Feynman.
This book is really heavy on his scientific endeavors, which shouldn't be surprising. Despite this the text is very readable and engaging, even for those less scientifically inclined.
In my review of Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! I mentioned how much I thought I related to him. Well, if you met me you probably wouldn't see any resemblance whatsoever most likely. It's simply the way he thought about things and his adherence to truth in social encounters, and how he was always figuring things out. I certainly do not relate to the magician, showman, or physicist he also was, or claim to be anything close to what he is. But his stories are very refreshing for me to read.
The biography goes into more of his personal life... mostly in regards to relationships. Reading about him and his wife is touching but I still do not think I fully understand the man in his dealings with women.
Talking merely about Feynman is an injustice to this particular book because his colleagues and the science of the time are heavily delved into, even more sometimes than about Feynman himself. In fact maybe the book is just that, a history of the physics at that time, and Feynman is the star of the show.(less)