Blah, blah, whatever. This seems like The Da Vinci Code all over again, except the writing is marginally better. That's not saying much, though, consi...moreBlah, blah, whatever. This seems like The Da Vinci Code all over again, except the writing is marginally better. That's not saying much, though, considering just how hard that book sucked. The Last Templar doesn't quite meet DVC levels of suckery; it had potential, I thought, but the writing turned out to be too technical, for lack of a better way to put it. Basically, Khoury seems to labor under the notion that his readers won't be able to understand the story unless his writing is absolutely, perfectly textbook precise, which not only bogs down the flow with a lot of superfluous words, but ruins any attempt at style or character voices that might have been carried by the narrative. As a result, the book didn't hold my interest and I ended up abandoning it after the first couple chapters.(less)
This is what happens when your art is controlled by people who care nothing about art and everything about turning a quick profit.
I mean, seriously, y...moreThis is what happens when your art is controlled by people who care nothing about art and everything about turning a quick profit.
I mean, seriously, you guys? This is what's making the bestseller list these days? This? You guys. Seriously. Ignoring for the moment that this is the worst sort of pop fic garbage with absolutely no substance to speak of, there is so much wrong with this book that I could write a fucking masters thesis on it. But I don't have that kind of time right now, so let's narrow it down to the most basic and overarching, which is that Dan Brown is a fucking hack whose subpar writing skills are eclipsed only by his complete inability to grasp the art of exposition.
So, basically, what Brown has created here is a sprawling 700+ page tale about two barely functional retards, and their supporting cast of highly-trained yet criminally inept fellow retards, running half-cocked around Rome on a harrowing adventure or some shit, whatever, and accosting random tertiary characters with whom to engage in long, drawn-out, largely unnecessary expository conversations. Which is to say, it's pretty much exactly like The Da Vinci Code, except the geography is different and Prepackaged Female Sidekick has a different name. Oh, and The Da Vinci Code obviously had a slightly better editor looking after it, or else the editor for Angels & Demons was asleep on the job or something, Jesus Christ. And I'm pretty pissed about it, too, because a decent editor could have saved us all from at least several hundred pages of this worthless tripe.
Also, I could have been spared at least 150 pages of this crap if Robert Langdon knew how to fucking google, which I'm also pretty pissed about. I mean, not everyone is computer savvy, I know that, but goddamn it, this is the 21st century. There is NO EXCUSE for not having googlefu in the 21st century, motherfuckers, okay? YOU ARE WASTING MY LIFE.
Okay, so, long story short: this book sucks. It pisses me off. Dan Brown should die in a fire. The end.(less)
I didn't enjoy this book quite as much I'd thought I would. The plays weren't exactly bad, but neither were they what I expected of classic literature...moreI didn't enjoy this book quite as much I'd thought I would. The plays weren't exactly bad, but neither were they what I expected of classic literature that won awards and whatnot way back in the Wayback, which leads me to wonder whether this might not be one of the better translations. Mr. Roche certainly seems to think himself extremely clever (judging by the lengthy self-masturbatory introduction explaining his own personal method of translation--about which I care not at all--and the massive amount of swotty little footnotes, most of which I could have done without), but I beg to differ, and it's unfortunate that his is the first translation I happened to read because I doubt I'll take the time to read a different one.
All else aside, the plays themselves are rather interesting and somewhat educational, insofar as lending insight into the lives and culture of the ancient Greeks, and I would certainly recommend them to my fellow nerds. I particularly recommend Plutus, which is not only the best of the four, but is also an important piece of literature as being among the first generation of New Comedy. I just don't recommend Roche's particular translation.(less)
This book completely surprised me. Leaper leapt out of nowhere (actually, it leapt out of my mailbox, right after it l...moreWow.
And I really mean that. Wow.
This book completely surprised me. Leaper leapt out of nowhere (actually, it leapt out of my mailbox, right after it leapt into my mailbox by means of the mailman who I'm fairly sure secretly hates me because he never comes at the same time, ever, but always remembers to knock the little POW-MIA mailbox-flag thingy off and leave it lying just far enough from the door that I have to step out in the half-foot of snow or slush to get it, but whatever), unceremoniously swatted me in the throat with a rolled-up copy of Coffee Grinder's Monthly, kept me up until the wee hours devouring the entire book in one sitting, and left me wondering, "...How the hell did that happen?"
You see, I had absolutely no expectation of liking this book. In fact, I was almost entirely sure that I would dislike it. This may seem silly, or illogical, or possibly both, considering that I did, in fact, enter the giveaway for Leaper of my own free will. But I, like our exceedingly unfortunate anti(super)hero, am largely oblivious to the world around me until it's far too late to do anything about anything except flail around helplessly and try to make sense of the trainwreck into which my life has devolved. What I'm trying to say is that I never read the fine print. Not that there was actually fine print, mind, but here's the thing: I didn't realize that this is Christian fiction until after I had already won the giveaway.
So what, you might ask, is the big deal? A little Christian fiction never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. Once upon a time, my mother was married to a man whose idea of being well-read was gobbling up the Left Behind novels with all the ravenous fervor usually reserved for Harry Potter. Not that he ever read Harry Potter, mind you; this 50-something satellite technician (and I don't mean, like, DTV satellites; I mean those huge-ass satellite arrays at Wallops Island, VA) couldn't even get through Sorcerer's Stone, a meager 300 or so page novel written for 8- to 13-year-olds. It was "too wordy." I know, right? So, because I am an unequivocal bibliophile and willing to give anything try, for at least the first ten pages, and because I was so bemusedly curious as to what could possibly have incited this man to actually pick up a book, I decided to read Left Behind for myself.
I still have the migraine.
And I am not even kidding. That crap is horrendous. But this is not a review of Left Behind. Let's just say that, after molesting my brain in the worst way with truly godawful writing and its anvilicious religious message, that book has forever colored my opinion of Christian fiction. I have avoided said genre like plague ever since. Even before I came to terms with being a godless heathen.
Yes, I'm an atheist. You see my dilemma. I get preached at and proselytized to enough as it is, without subjecting myself to such in book form.
But my dilemma is twofold. I am also, as I said, a bibliophile. And there I am, holding in my jittery over-caffeinated hands this nice, shiny, new book emblazoned with the title that snagged my attention and made me enter the giveaway in the first place. I couldn't just not read it. A new book! Besides, these people were nice enough to send me this shiny new book. For free. Alas, they have discovered my weakness!
And did I mention it was shiny?
So I read Leaper. And I'm glad I did.
This book was everything I never expected.
Firstly, far from being the annoyingly upright, godlier-than-thou jerk I imagined, the protagonist turned out to be an ordinary guy, as flawed as anybody else, just trying to be a good person. (Whatever good is anyway. I like that this book explores the concept of goodness, of what it means to do good, and the complexities and complications of muddling out just what good really is, without bludgeoning the reader with any prescribed doctrine regarding what makes people, choices, etc. either good or bad.) He is a likeable, endearingly spastic, mostly clueless Arthur Dent-ish type character, whom I immediately identified and sympathized with. As I said, we have a lot in common. Especially coffee.
Secondly, the writing is strangely brilliant; it's quirky in a fun and delightful way, and lends realism to the idea that this is the first-person account of an average, hypercaffeinated guy who suddenly finds himself in possession of a superpower. I adored all the digressions and the somewhat off-topic asides. Maybe some people would be put-off by them, but I thought they added a certain flair to the story. And speaking of the story itself, in terms of premise and plot progression: I absolutely loved it. Leaper is a fun, fast-paced chronicle of the protagonist's many and exceedingly outrageous misadventures. Wood has channeled that wonderful sort of inspired lunacy usually reserved for satirical novels, and used it to great effect to pull the reader into this believably unbelievable and hilarious tale. I couldn't help but literally laugh out loud every few pages.
Thirdly, and what I enjoyed most about Leaper, is that Wood is not at all heavy-handed in his delivery of The Message. There definitely is a message here, but it seems largely open to interpretation. Like any good author, Wood doesn't try to tell you what you should take away from this book, doesn't force the point down your throat with a Jesus chaser; he lays out his story skillfully and lets you take from it what you will. I admire that. And I admire the fact that the religious elements of the story are not overwhelming; never once did I feel like I was being preached at or scolded for my lowly, sinning ways. Unlike other books I've come across, where the underlying tone is, "See what you're doing wrong? See how terrible and sinful you are?", the underlying tone of Leaper instead seems to be, "It's okay, nobody's perfect. Keep trying." And I like that. It's comforting, encouraging, and makes the book more accessible.
Overall, Leaper is a fantastically entertaining book, full of wit, humor, and a healthy dose of insanity. But more than that, it's a book that will make you think, and keep you thinking long after you've put it down. Definitely a good read. I highly recommend it.(less)
I really wanted this to be more interesting than it is. Dudes, it's Orwell, for Christ's sake. But after six months of dutifully reading this blog, I'...moreI really wanted this to be more interesting than it is. Dudes, it's Orwell, for Christ's sake. But after six months of dutifully reading this blog, I've had enough. There's only so many entries composed entirely of descriptions of the local weather, flora, fauna, and accounting of eggs a girl can take. I mean, really.(less)
Cell is vastly different, stylistically, from the other King novels I've read, and as a result, it took me awhile to really get into this book. Overal...moreCell is vastly different, stylistically, from the other King novels I've read, and as a result, it took me awhile to really get into this book. Overall, however, I think the change in technique really worked for this story. Cell is extremely fast-paced and action-driven, with a more simplistic and linear plot than I've come across in a Stephen King book; a rather spare story, in other words, which might have broken down under the strain of his typical web of intricacies and complex subplots, colorful histories, and verbose prose.
Despite being sparser than his typical offerings, Cell is still wonderfully (or terribly, if you prefer) vivid and full of that quintessential King imagery. My only complaints are these:
You never learn who or what caused the Pulse. Was it really terrorists? A ghost in the machine? Just some freak glitch in the technology? Personally, I'm not too big a fan of this sort of "come to your own conclusion" bullshit.
Similarly, after three-hundred-plus pages of following and becoming invested in Clay's harrowing journey to find his son, you never find out whether the patch, or whatever, actually works. I mean, really. A little closure, please, Mr. King? See above.
Three stars for the story, which was good, though it could have been great if King had done more with it. Two stars for the subtle social commentary lurking beneath the obvious social commentary. Minus one star for the aforementioned "draw your own conclusions" bullshit.(less)
Oh dear, sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster. Why the fuck was this on my to-read shelf for, like, three years? Wait, no, I remember. I make poor life choi...moreOh dear, sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster. Why the fuck was this on my to-read shelf for, like, three years? Wait, no, I remember. I make poor life choices. Obviously.
I did actually start to read this at one point. Don't judge me. I was trying to keep my mind off the fact that my father had just died, and this just happened to be lying around, courtesy of my then-thirteen year old niece. And I was like, hey, you know, everybody keeps telling me that I should give this crap a chance, so maybe it's not as bad as I've heard. Surely, I thought, it can't hurt to give it a look.
That is time and brain cells I will never get back, my friends. Thank god I didn't actually finish the book, or the damage might have been irreparable. Instead of writing this review, I could be lying in a hospital somewhere in a vegetative state, the only sign of life my convulsive twitching whenever someone approaches with something that sparkles. But, fortunately for my gray matter, I only made it to about page 50, or whenever it is that Bella starts tediously recounting her first day at her new high school, by which point I was like:
(For the record, I would pay obscene amounts of money to see Dean Winchester give Edward Cullen what he deserves.)
Seriously. I couldn't. I just couldn't. I could feel the will to live draining out of me with each sentence. It's not that Stephenie Meyer is a bad writer...wait, yeah, that's exactly what it is. Stephenie Meyer is a fucking disgrace. This reminds me of the shit I used to scribble fervently into Lisa Frank notebooks when I was twelve. You know, back when I was angsty and hormone-addled and devoted a large portion of my young life to writing Hanfic and--you know what? Never mind. Let's just say it was bad. Really bad. And this is like that, only kind of worse, because Meyer is a grown woman.
Despite that, I was, at some point, going to actually try to finish this book. Not because I really wanted to, but because somebody that I used to know and trust (another mistake, as I would come to find out far too late) kept insisting that I should because Edward is such a good character and Meyer, for all her obvious ineptitude as a writer, at least got that right. Ugh. The things we put up with for pussy, am I right? Fortunately, I don't have that problem anymore, so I can finally, and with absolutely no remorse or feelings of guilt whatsoever, wash my hands of this book. Considering that I haven't forgotten about it so much as I've been strenuously avoiding it for the past three years, I think it's safe to say that I will never finish this godforsaken piece of garbage, nor do I feel as if I'm missing out on anything.
In short: BAD. AVOID AT ALL COSTS. MAKE BETTER LIFE CHOICES.(less)
I must have read Hitchhiker's at least five times. Probably more. And every single time, it's just as hilarious as the first time I picked it up, comp...moreI must have read Hitchhiker's at least five times. Probably more. And every single time, it's just as hilarious as the first time I picked it up, completely unwitting, and found myself diving headlong into this outrageous misadventure alongside poor Arthur.
Douglas Adams has woven an utterly engrossing tale that is, at all times, magnificently outlandish, uproariously funny, and also stands as a humorously scathing commentary on the State of Things. It never disappoints; every single page contains gems of comedic brilliance that have me sporfling coffee all over myself every time. And it's a story that is so perfectly ridiculous, so rapidfire rampaging-through-the-galaxy fun, and so subtly poignant, that I never want it end. And when it does, I can't wait to pick it up and start all over again.
Hitchhiker's has become the literary equivalent of my comfort food. Whenever my life goes to shit, or the world gets me down, I curl up in bed with my tattered and dog-eared old copy and set off again with Arthur, Ford, Zaphod and Trillian. And suddenly everything seems all right again. Because at least I know where my towel is.(less)
High Wizardry is probably my least favorite of the Young Wizards series. It was a fun, fast read, but much of the story seemed rather extraneous. Larg...moreHigh Wizardry is probably my least favorite of the Young Wizards series. It was a fun, fast read, but much of the story seemed rather extraneous. Large portions of the narrative are taken up with unnecessary descriptions of an outdated OS, most of which I could have done without, and overall it simply lacks the same quality of layering as in So You Want to Be a Wizard and Deep Wizardry. As a result, it didn't even seem like anything important started happening until around the latter third of the book, and I came away feeling like there could have been a lot more to the story than there was.
Also, the majority of the book centers around Dairine. I actually kind of like her (except for her name, which sounds like some kind of low-fat dairy product or something), so this wouldn't really have bothered me if not for the fact that Nita and Kit got so little screen time. I love their dynamic, and I really enjoy watching them come into their own both in their wizardry and as individuals in that coming-of-age sort of way that's just right and not too clichéd or cheesy. But more than that, I've become so invested in their ongoing adventures through the first two books, and in their struggles against the Big Bad, that I felt rather cheated by Duane making them little more than a sideshow in Dairine's Ordeal circus, especially considering that this appeared to be such a critical turning point in the fight against the Lone Power.
That being said, I actually loved the latter fourth of the book. Not just because Dairine takes about ten levels in badass and lays the smack-down on the Lone Baddie--although that is pretty awesome--but largely because it's such a powerful story of change and redemption. It has always bothered me how many writers (and people in general regarding real life) seem to operate on the principle that, once a person crosses a certain moral event horizon, they can never turn back. You can't change; you're damned forever. But here's the thing: people change all the time. They don't always change for the better, and oftentimes it might not be very noticeable, but they do change. And I adore Diane Duane for straying from the well-laid path and instead conveying the idea that, even if you're the biggest, baddest motherfucker in the whole of time, space, and the entire freaking multiverse, you can change. It won't be easy, and it won't undo the damage you've done, but you can still make that choice and work to redeem yourself.
Whatever my other issues with this book, there's an important story here that needed to be told. Kudos to Ms. Duane for having the vision to tell it, and for doing it beautifully.(less)
Okay, I’ll admit it. Deep Wizardry made me want to be a whale. For serious.
I admire the hell out of Diane Duane--I daresay I even worship her--for the...moreOkay, I’ll admit it. Deep Wizardry made me want to be a whale. For serious.
I admire the hell out of Diane Duane--I daresay I even worship her--for the way she conveyed the experience of being a whale. There was no awkwardness at all (except in the beginning, for Nita) and nothing seemed forced or silly. It all felt perfectly natural, and comfortable, and utterly fantastic, as if I could truly imagine what it would be like to be a whale. And by the end of the book, it seemed so normal for Nita to be in whale-form that whenever she was in human-form it felt unnatural. Hell, it felt unnatural for me to be in human-form.
I’m really sad that I can’t spend my days swimming around and singing tales of glory and sorrow in whalesong and hugging other whales by brushing them with my flukes or whatever.
But that’s beside the point.
The point is that I absolutely loved Deep Wizardry, and if I had to choose, I’d have to say that I liked this better than So You Want to Be a Wizard. Duane’s style in this book is fantastic. You can definitely see a difference between DW and its predecessor, but in a good way, like she really came into her own during the interim. I absolutely adored her mixture of simplicity in places where it’s not only necessary, but achingly perfect, and lyrical elegance in others, which come together to weave a story that’s both beautiful and heartbreaking.
And Nita and Kit really came into their own, too, which is another highlight of the book. The action was not quite as fast-paced in this as in SYWBW, allowing Duane the opportunity to really flesh out Nita’s and Kit’s personalities--their strengths, their flaws, their idiosyncrasies and charming little nuances--without disrupting the flow of the story. And I loved that because this is a very powerful and touching story, on several levels, but I don’t think that it would have hit me so fully and moved me the way it did if I hadn’t felt so close to the characters. However, both Nita and Kit (who didn’t get a lot of character development in the first book) really grew on me throughout DW; I cared about them, in a way that I don’t typically care about a lot of characters, and my heart literally ached for them toward the end of the book. I felt Nita’s despair, her turmoil, she and Kit’s courage, their triumph, their joy, everything, and that made the book just that much more beautiful to me.
The only thing that I didn’t care for was that Nita’s parents turned into raving psychopaths in this book. Okay, well, maybe not psychopaths as such. But her mother was definitely annoying to nth degree, what with her raging hypochondria (was this an epidemic among women in the 1980s? I’ve noticed a trend), and her father was no better, considering he didn’t seem to even attempt to be rational about the situation. I mean, I know that some YA writers will blow situations out of proportion because that’s how their target readers see them--kids often view their parents’ decisions as being insensible, unfair, and even outrageous. But I don’t think that’s the case here, and despite being a grown-up myself, even I don’t see the logic in taking your family (plus one) to the beach for vacation, then throwing a holy fit when the kids spend so much time...*gasp*...ON THE BEACH. And how dare they go swimming! You’re not supposed to go swimming when you’re at the beach!
Oy. If I ever spawn any miniature humanoids (though I shudder at the thought), I hope I don’t end up like that.
But I can conceded that this was probably a necessary bit of ridiculousness to facilitate the Big Reveal, even though I think it could have been handled a bit better. And since Nita’s parents end up being pretty cool at the end, once they figure out that Nita and Kit are not, in fact, out doing the nasty, but just doing wizardry (and working a crazy powerful spell that once blew an entire tectonic plate and continental landmass to shit, and battling against the ultimate Big Bad, the Lone Power, who’s basically Satan except he exponentially took a level in Badass, but whatever, at least they're not having THE SEX), all is forgiven.
All in all, Deep Wizardry is absolutely beautiful, a compelling story with great action, fantastic imagery, interesting characters--especially Ed! I never thought I could adore a shark so--and a message that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. If you like fantasy, do yourself a favor and read this book.(less)
"Dear Artificer, I’ve blown my quanta and gone to the Good Place!"
I'm so glad that I decided to re-read So You Want to Be a Wizard as part of my self-...more"Dear Artificer, I’ve blown my quanta and gone to the Good Place!"
I'm so glad that I decided to re-read So You Want to Be a Wizard as part of my self-imposed book challenge for this year. I'd almost forgotten how much I love this book!
In fact, I love it so much that I almost couldn't read it again. At first, I would read a couple of pages and have to put the book down because I'd get all teary and junk. Not because it's sad (although it does have its moments), but because I would remember how much the story touched me the first time I read it. And it still does.
There are so many things in this book that, even as an adult, I can relate to: from Nita's isolation and finding solace in books to the desire to become, to be and to do something more, something beyond imagining, being so strong that even danger and death seem worth the risk. I cannot even begin to count how many times, or how intensely, I've wished throughout my life for something to come along and turn my world upside down, set me off on some crazy ass adventure and make everything new and exciting. And reading about an introverted, socially awkward, oft-misunderstood geek who stumbles across a mysterious book and suddenly finds herself immersed in a world (or two) of wizardry and wonder (and some terror and heartache) allows me to live my fantasy vicariously through a younger, fictional, sort-of alter ego.
Another thing I absolutely adore about this book--and the Young Wizards series in general--is that Diane Duane never assumes that the readers (her target audience being kids roughly, I'd say, 10-14) won't "get it" just because they're young. She doesn't dumb anything down, doesn't shy away from using or making up big words, and she doesn't water down her prose into that succinct but ineloquent simplicity sometimes found in young adult novels. Yet she's managed to weave a tale that is not only beautiful and sometimes lyrical in its elegance (I truly loved how she described the trees talking in leafrustle and fireflicker), but also accessible.
Duane also deserves kudos for creating one of the most original characters ever. I mean, in what other book are you going to find a freaking white hole as a central character? And, oh, how I adore Fred.
"You people are so fragile. A little gamma radiation will ruin your whole day, it seems."
Who can not love a wise-cracking and often endearingly clueless space phenomenon who has a bad habit of spontaneously emitting cosmic rays? Not I, my friends, not I.
Did I mention that I adore this book? I do. And if you're looking for a fast-paced, action-packed, strangely reaffirming adventure to sink your teeth into, or if you're trying to find something to fill the gaping wound...er...void left after Harry Potter and the Book That Tore My Heart to Pieces, Covered Them in Petrol, Set Them on Fire and Danced a Merry Jig All Over the Bloody Ashes, Goddamn You, Joann (otherwise known as Deathly Hallows), I highly recommend SYWBW and the rest of the Young Wizards series.(less)