Not my favorite of the Nero Wolfes. I actually stopped reading this for quite a while in the middle, which is rare, I usually can't put these down. INot my favorite of the Nero Wolfes. I actually stopped reading this for quite a while in the middle, which is rare, I usually can't put these down. I had trouble keeping all the male characters straight; none of them really stood out to me. The reveal of the central mystery didn't feel as "tight" as usual. But I always enjoy spending some time with Archie Goodwin....more
Okay, I did some skimming (and outright skipping) in this one, I'll admit it. Some of the chapters were just soooo boring and I didn't care about manyOkay, I did some skimming (and outright skipping) in this one, I'll admit it. Some of the chapters were just soooo boring and I didn't care about many of the characters at all. The problem with GRRM killing off so many characters early is that he then replaces them with new characters, which are just not as interesting or compelling as the originals. Related: (view spoiler)[NOT a fan of how he's bringing characters back to life, or revealing several chapters later how it was really a decoy that died, etc. It makes death feel cheap which is the opposite of how he "played for keeps" early on in the series. (hide spoiler)]
I have very mixed feelings about this series as a whole. I do like that one of the major themes in GRRM's writing is what it means to be a leader, including the day-to-day struggles that leaders face and how you really can't please everyone. But on the other hand, he can get *too* bogged down in detail, which makes the book very dull to read. One of the early Jon Snow chapters, where they made an in-depth inventory of every larder and cellar, reminded me of going shopping in the beginning of Oregon Trail II! (Still one of my favorite games ever, LOL.)
Tyrion used to be one of my favorite characters, but I hate how he was in this book. He was completely nasty to women, and constantly whiny. It was straight-up unpleasant to read. I actually stopped reading his chapters about halfway through (I read summaries of the rest.)
A narrative technique that GRRM has used throughout the series, and I definitely noticed here, is that he often tends to cut off the narrative RIGHT BEFORE something exciting happens, and then recaps it later in another chapter. But I want to read about it as it happens!
I also originally liked how this was a fairly low-magic fantasy setting; yeah, there are dragons, but I really hate when authors use magic as an excuse to get out of a plot dead end, and GRRM has started to go down that path of revealing new and very convenient magic abilities like resurrection and glamours. TV Tropes calls this "New Powers as the Plot Demands."
I just feel like this series is overrated and could REALLY use some editing. He could bundle all the extraneous stuff into another book for die-hard fans if he wanted; I just glaze over after reading endless lists of food, clothing, etc.
Also, I think I've read maybe one sex scene in the entire series that wasn't gross and/or a turnoff. GRRM seems to have some kind of fixation or fetish for people having their breasts chewed off. Eww.
I'm sure I'll keep reading and skimming this series, but I still don't plan on enriching GRRM any further. (Up until now I have borrowed all the books from friends and the library.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm not done yet, but wow this book is something else. I keep reading because I do care about these characters at this point, but yikes. The pacing isI'm not done yet, but wow this book is something else. I keep reading because I do care about these characters at this point, but yikes. The pacing is awful; I think it was 600+ pages before anything at all really happened. Martin loves to describe scenes in intricate detail, but these pages and pages of surcoats and boiled leather and heraldry contribute very little, if anything, to the overall plot and it's very easy to start glazing over.
Martin also has some of the least erotic and most revolting sex scenes I have EVER read, and this includes fanfiction written by awkward virgin teenagers. I have to believe he's doing it on purpose at this point to troll everyone, because in this book it reaches a whole new level of awful. "And suddenly his cock was out, jutting upward from his breeches like a fat pink mast." AHAHAHkdjashdjkahskjdahdhaksjdh WHYYYYYYY...more
Apparently, this book is incredibly obscure. None of my friends have heard of it when we've discussed childhood books, and there are no reviews on GooApparently, this book is incredibly obscure. None of my friends have heard of it when we've discussed childhood books, and there are no reviews on Goodreads at all! This was one of my favorites as a kid. It's a somewhat disturbing yet hilarious story of a greedy frog that tries to drink all the water in the world until he EXPLODES. I found it again recently while my parents were sorting through some of my old stuff to give away, and it still made me laugh.
I'm not sure what that says about me. It's kind of a gross story when you think about it, but it's presented in a cartoony way, no more graphic than something like Looney Tunes....more
One of my favorite children's books, about Ferdinand the pacifist bull. Amusingly, one of the things I remember about this book is that as a child I iOne of my favorite children's books, about Ferdinand the pacifist bull. Amusingly, one of the things I remember about this book is that as a child I imagined the "cork tree" was a giant wine cork (despite the illustrations)....more
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel was one of my favorite books as a child. I think mainly because I enjoyed stories about alive/talking boats, cars,Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel was one of my favorite books as a child. I think mainly because I enjoyed stories about alive/talking boats, cars, etc. But I re-read it recently when my parents were sorting through my childhood stuff and figuring out what to donate and, as an adult, I saw a new angle to this book. The sadness of becoming obsolete, I think, wasn't quite a concept I grasped as a child. In addition, with the current woes Seattle is having with our tunnel digger "Bertha", as well as various other transportation project troubles, I couldn't help but laugh at the way the Steam Shovel got stuck in the basement. I found the ending of the story cute without having a sudden "deus ex machina" ending like what sometimes happens in kids' books....more
I enjoyed animal and especially cat books when I was a child. I think I read this in 4th or 5th grade or so. I remember liking it a lot, and when I reI enjoyed animal and especially cat books when I was a child. I think I read this in 4th or 5th grade or so. I remember liking it a lot, and when I read Harry Potter I wondered if Minerva McGonagall, who can turn into a cat, was a shout out to this book! (I doubt it, though.)...more
I had never read any of the James Bond books and after being steeped in Tolkien for several months I wanted something totally different.
Casino RoyaleI had never read any of the James Bond books and after being steeped in Tolkien for several months I wanted something totally different.
Casino Royale is a quick read and I finished it in a day. The book is paced strangely. A few exciting bits but also quite a few boring stretches (for example, the minute details of the baccarat game were dull to me.) And I could see the final plot "twist" coming a mile away. For a "thriller" it really didn't have much suspense. I felt like the writing did get better towards the end of the book, though. (Prose-wise, at least; it also suddenly started reading like a romance novel, which was quite jarring -- they go on a beach vacation, and Mr. "get back in the kitchen bitch" is suddenly calling Vesper darling and wanting to marry her. ??)
The book is set in France and there's a lot of gratuitous French sprinkled throughout the book. Now, I speak French, so this wasn't really a problem for me (except for some casino terminology that I did not know), but I could see someone who doesn't understand French being irritated by this because most of the words are not translated and would not always be clear from context.
I found the sexism in this book pretty hard to take, even though I think it's mainly an attitude that Bond the character has, not the author. At least I hope so, because it's hypocritical at best, and gross. I nearly stopped reading after the first couple chapters when Bond bemoans having to work with a female agent (who he has not even met at this point yet):
And then there was this pest of a girl. He sighed. Women were for recreation. On a job, they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around. One had to look out for them and take care of them. "Bitch," said Bond.
And then there's the lovely "sweet tang of rape" comment. Ugh.
Maybe I'm just touchy after Tolkien's sexism (which is not this crude, but still is very much there, especially after reading his biography and letters) but I am so tired of male writers who don't acknowledge women as people. (George R. R. Martin has his issues, but I was greatly pleased by his snarky reply to an interviewer asking about how he manages to write such interesting women.)
The torture chapter was, well... I have to wonder if Fleming had a bit of an interest in BDSM, because this chapter was pornier than the sex scenes. (Is it incriminating if I say that this was my favorite chapter?)
I...don't think I'll be reading more of these....more