Much like Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard series, Leigh Bardugo's "Six of Crows" introduces readers to a group of scrappy, unlikely heroes who you canMuch like Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard series, Leigh Bardugo's "Six of Crows" introduces readers to a group of scrappy, unlikely heroes who you can't help but become totally endeared to.
I'm of the belief that any book that is prefaced with intricate maps is a sure sign of a great adventure, and this book confirms that belief. The book itself (hardcopy edition) is a thing of beauty. With rich, red lining on the endpapers, a mystical cover, and delicately dyed black edging on the entire textblock, the book itself is imbued with mystery and magic.
This is a well rendered world with cheeky, memorable characters who have been bound by fate, magic, luck (for better or worse) and suffering. If you enjoy books with characters who have to achieve something that seems impossible- if you love a clever heist -if you take pleasure in a relentless adventure and a story well told..."Six of Crows" will certainly entertain and satisfy you on many levels. ...more
Red Rising is the first installment of Pierce Brown’s debut trilogy. Set on Mars in the distant (dystopian) future, we are introduced to young Darrow,Red Rising is the first installment of Pierce Brown’s debut trilogy. Set on Mars in the distant (dystopian) future, we are introduced to young Darrow, our hero, who lives in a lowly mining colony. Much like the Hunger Games, Darrow lives in an unjust society that is ruled by an elite group. Each faction in Darrow’s society is assigned a color, and each color serves a particular purpose. When Darrow suffers a terrible loss at the hands of the oppressive “sovereign Golds,” he is inspired to embark upon a harrowing journey of rebellion and revenge.
I was shocked when Darrow suffered the loss that is described in the early pages of Red Rising. I liked the way Pierce Brown began the book with such conviction; as a reader, you are immediately immersed in Darrow’s world, which is difficult to adjust to at first, but eventually becomes rewarding. I noticed how the author used descriptive language and symbolism to make the reader feel sympathy for Darrow and his fellow “Reds.”
I don’t quite understand why the author didn’t give the audience an opportunity to know certain characters on a deeper level. If I were the author, I would certainly give readers a chance to spend more time with Darrow’s loved ones; it would make me even more sympathetic to Darrow and his situation.
Much like many reviewers have, I’d compare Pierce Brown to authors like Suzanne Collins (the author of the Hunger Games) and Orson Scott Card (the author of Ender’s Game). I make this comparison because all of these authors are known for writing action-packed novels that involve dystopian futures of a sci-fi and fantasy genre. Of course, this book reminded me of Hunger Games and Divergent, especially because of the social structure that Darrow is a part of.
Darrow, the main character, is a fearsome warrior who is willing to sacrifice everything in order to exact revenge against the Golds. His character’s development is strong, straightforward, but a bit cliché. The narrative voice can sometimes seem cold and distant, but I think it matches the harsh, alien setting that Pierce Brown establishes so well.
Themes of this book are certainly revenge, social justice, war and peace, love, and good versus evil.
At times, I wish there was more relief from action scenes, especially throughout the second half of the novel. There are many battle scenes and descriptions of the strategies Darrow and supporting characters used in order to defeat one another; as a result, I became weary of the plot and became unsure of my desire to read the sequel. Still, I’m interested in Darrow’s plight and feel as though Red Rising is engaging and demonstrates qualities enough to earn a solid, respectable rating of 3½ . Since Red Rising is worthy of a rating (albeit slightly) above 3, I’ve decided to read the second book in the trilogy, Golden Son, and consider it a compelling sequel. If you enjoy books like Ender’s Game, Divergent, or The Hunger Games, I would strongly recommend the Red Rising trilogy.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Red Rising that I found particularly captivating. It’s a great example of Darrow’s narrative voice and desire for vengeance. I also really appreciate the fact that the author used italics (in the last line “None of them will survive) to emphasize Darrow’s anger. I hope you enjoy this excerpt:
“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war. I watch twelve hundred of their strongest sons and daughters. Listening to a pitiless Golden man speak between great marble pillars. Listening to the beast who brought the flame that gnaws at my heart. “All men are not created equal,” he declares. Tall, imperious, an eagle of a man. “The weak have deceived you. They would say the meek should inherit the Earth. That the strong should nurture the gentle. This is the Noble Lie of Demokracy. The cancer that poisoned mankind.” His eyes pierce the gathered students. “You and I are Gold. We are the end of the evolutionary line. We tower above the flesh heap of man, shepherding the lesser Colors. You have inherited this legacy,” he pauses, studying faces in the assembly. “But it is not free. “Power must be claimed. Wealth won. Rule, dominion, empire purchased with blood. You scarless children deserve nothing. You do not know pain. You do not know what your forefathers sacrificed to place you on these heights. But soon, you will. Soon, we will teach you why Gold rules mankind. And I promise, of those among you, only those fit for power will survive.” But I am no Gold. I am a Red. He thinks men like me weak. He thinks me dumb, feeble, subhuman. I was not raised in palaces. I did not ride horses through meadows and eat meals of hummingbird tongues. I was forged in the bowels of this hard world. Sharpened by hate. Strengthened by love. He is wrong. None of them will survive.” ...more
I think the basic premise is wise and leads to a healthy perspective and, when practiced, a lovingkindness that naturally arises from awareness and beI think the basic premise is wise and leads to a healthy perspective and, when practiced, a lovingkindness that naturally arises from awareness and being present.
Some of the format was off-putting. I didn't feel much warmth or lovingkindness in the author's approach...That seemed odd to me, considering the nature and, I suppose, the purpose of Tolle's work...Also, there was an assuredness that came across as arrogant...
I had to work harder to consider the message because of how it was conveyed.
Ultimately, Tolle has compiled an essential aspect of what thousands of years and many wise minds have discovered: being present and understanding your true nature, the vast, incomprehensible, ineffable goodness within, is an act of lovingkindness.
Being present is a tremendous psychological, physiological transformative and loving act. This is not to be misconstrued for new-age nonsense...In fact, it's deeply rooted in practices that have proven themselves time and again, particularly because they arise from a timelessness that heals the wounds inflicted by the ego, which dominates our mind-obsessed world.
I appreciate this book for its intentions and its message. It makes a lot of sense to me in a lot of ways. It's certainly influenced me and made me feel more aware of when my mind is coasting on judgment, or falling into the grip of past pain and future-oriented fear, all of which I invariably internalize...It's important to recognize that underneath all the noise that's generated by the ego, there is a deep and profound state of "Being" that is eternally present and supremely loving.
Perhaps I'll revisit this again. I tore through it rather quickly and don't think it's designed for that. It's more like an excessively hot mug of tea that needs to steep and be sipped. We'll see.
Tara Brach's book, Radical Acceptance, resonated with me far more, perhaps because the authorial voice and the overarching message conveyed is so personal and loving...Brach's book has inspired many decisions and ways of being with myself that are more tender.
But I suppose that tenderness, although it doesn't come from an authorial voice in Power of Now, is embedded its the message: live in the moment; understand that you are; feel joy through connectedness.
For what this book is, and what it's affiliated with (a massively funded ABC television series) it goes beyond my expectations. What I love so much abFor what this book is, and what it's affiliated with (a massively funded ABC television series) it goes beyond my expectations. What I love so much about the Castle series and subsequent Nikki Heat novels is this: clearly, the writer serving under the nom de guerre of Richard Castle is deeply entertained and amused by his (or her) own characters. There's a love there. It seems to spring from someone's joy.
Beyond the gripping plot one would hope for in a mystery novel, there is a playfulness that permeates each page, lending it a charm as undeniable as Nathan Fillion's (Castle's, Rook's) rakish grin.
I also deeply enjoy the fact that this provides an additional form (and a far less passive form) of entertainment for fans of the TV show. Get away from the television! Read something! Anything!!!!
There's nothing stale about the relationships between the characters; a sense of genuine camaraderie is obvious, and I think that's why it's remained so fresh.
The love that the author (beneath the author) has for the whole process is clear. There's almost a giddiness, a deep appreciation, that shines through the page as Nikki Heat shines her flashlight to illuminate some scheme or another. Maybe I'm a sucker for this sort of thing...I adore clever "partnership banter" and I love strong female characters who don't put up with anyone's crap.
This is such good fun and I can't help but unabashedly enjoy it! ...more
Who says time travel is impossible? All you need to do is pick up a book as well rendered as The Rebel Wife, by Taylor M. Polites, and suddenly you'llWho says time travel is impossible? All you need to do is pick up a book as well rendered as The Rebel Wife, by Taylor M. Polites, and suddenly you'll be transported to Reconstruction-era Alabama, walking alongside the characters, among the ravaged vestiges of the South in the aftermath of the Civil War.
One of the most fascinating things about this author is his ability to immerse the reader in the experience. At times, I felt the uneasiness that an intruder or eavesdropper might feel; I was a ghost, present in every scene, watching, completely rapt. I could swear I was one of the people of Albion, Alabama. I was there, suffering in the stifling, relentless heat, and felt blessed relief at the touch of a cool banister.
I'm always amazed when an author so thoroughly succeeds in engaging the reader in this way, especially when it seems so effortless. Descriptions are lush and vivid throughout this novel. Words are used with great economy. So much is said so concisely; as a result, each word is imbued with incredible power, leaving a distinct and lasting impression.
The suspense built throughout The Rebel Wife possesses a quality much like a shimmering heat wave that will not break. The tension is palpable, hair-raising, and entirely appropriate, considering the atmosphere of loss, injustice and impending doom that shrouds Albion. This is a place that is suffering, not only from economic and social upheaval in the wake of a terribly destructive war, but also from a mysterious and terrifying sickness that loiters in every corner, threatening to strike everyone down, ruthlessly and indiscriminately.
I had the tremendous honor of meeting some new characters who will now be inducted into my personal Literary Hall of Fame. Augusta, Simon, Emma and Rachel are so important to me now and always will be. There is nothing more satisfying than meeting characters I truly care about.
Augusta, a white woman who hailed from a once prominent Southern family, must confront several harsh realities, most of which threaten her safety and her freedom. After the death of her husband, Augusta ("Gus") becomes determined to seek the illusive truths that will enable her to survive amidst extreme personal and societal turmoil. I refuse to spoil her journey by exposing the plot, but want everyone to know: this is a journey well worth taking.
All I can do is give this book my strong, sincere personal endorsement. As an avid reader, this is one of those unique experiences I'll cherish. I was thoroughly engaged, invested in and impacted by it.
This book has left a lasting impression on me and has sparked my interest in an era that deserves unflinching, eternal remembrance. I hope you enjoy it as feverishly as I have!...more
When I first heard of these novels, I cringed inwardly and even scoffed at the whole idea. Now, I'm sheepishly (and reluctantly) impressed by this marWhen I first heard of these novels, I cringed inwardly and even scoffed at the whole idea. Now, I'm sheepishly (and reluctantly) impressed by this marketing scheme-- and I'm usually not one to be attracted to something like this, if that's worth anything.
That being stated, if you're a fan of the TV show, these books are truly worth your while. They're well written, clever, funny-- and you are constantly reminded of different events in the show, which are supposed to be the very source of "Richard Castle's" inspiration.
Assuming that you're a fan of the show, the most attractive aspect of these books may be the same for you as it is for me: the idea that Castle is the author--and that because you're also a part of the TV audience, you've got some insight into what's being written. A literal novel of a fictional author who's writing about a detective and a character representing himself...who is also exponentially fictional? Holy crap! It's all very meta...which gives it some value that I have no desire to deny.
This is a massive guilty pleasure.
This-- the second installment of the Heat series-- features more twists and turns; it has the same entertainment value as some of the 2 or 3 part stories featured in the TV series. You may find it predictable, but there's a lack of pretense and a lightness to it that is totally acceptable...It's not trying to be anything but what it actually is-- and the writing is witty and charming, just like Castle's character.
Enjoy this-- think of reading it on the beach with a crisp,cold drink...Or perhaps pull an all-nighter and devour this bad boy. Either way, if you're looking for something entertaining, you won't be disappointed by "Naked Heat."
This book is like biking on Route 66: although whatever landmark your looking at is actually miles in the distance, it looks as though it's right in fThis book is like biking on Route 66: although whatever landmark your looking at is actually miles in the distance, it looks as though it's right in front of your nose. You can see everything about this book pages in advance...and can almost predict how it will be worded, too. I wish the author made her audience work a bit harder at earning some of the plot points.
Don't expect this to be a masterpiece. It's witty and interesting enough to be a perfect "beach" read...
Enjoyable, light and perfect for women with great taste in stormy, libidinous male characters. Scottish, too (can't go wrong with a saucy brogue, black hair and hot, hairy forearms)!...more
Scott Lynch, in my opinion, is an author to keep an eye on and an ear out for. This dude is smart, funny and obviously has a massive imagination.
It wScott Lynch, in my opinion, is an author to keep an eye on and an ear out for. This dude is smart, funny and obviously has a massive imagination.
It was after this, the second in the Gentlemen Bastard series, that I was hooked. I was devastated to learn, after searching for the third installment, that the book is not set to be released until 2013. I'm hoping the recent reports, stating that it will actually be released in autumn 2012, are correct. I'll definitely be looking forward to devouring the upcoming "Republic of Thieves"
I'm attached to Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen. I'm in love with the world Lynch creates. It's definitely got a crapload of heart and is an exquisite nod to honorable thieves everywhere.
I've got to flesh out this review to do this world justice. It's so beautifully crafted and well worth your time-- I'm a fan of the fantasy genre-- not particularly adventurous in that arena...but Lynch is the type of author who makes me want to explore and unearth more rollicking gems like this.
Because this book represents a highly uncharacteristic choice on my part, I feel the need to thoroughly explain my rating of it. Technically, I wouldBecause this book represents a highly uncharacteristic choice on my part, I feel the need to thoroughly explain my rating of it. Technically, I would give the Fountainhead 2.5 stars. For the sake of simplifying matters, I’ll round up, be generous, and give it 3 instead. Although the ideology within the book is something I cannot and do not wish to relate to and enjoy, it is, in fact, a well told story. I don’t want my prejudice against the Fountainhead to diminish the integrity of my ratings (my goodness, I take books seriously!) so I’ll be honest about it: this book was not poorly written. Was it the best, most versatile, thoughtful and erudite work I’ve read? No. Still, its quality doesn’t warrant a 2 or below, according to how I’m rating books here on Goodreads.
The Fountainhead is a celebration of the egoist. Our chief egoist, (and the novel’s primary hero) Howard Roark, is a gifted architect who refuses to compromise or consider any other human being who attempts to interfere with his craft. There is something incredibly inflexible and contradictory about his character. He’s one of the most peculiar protagonists I’ve ever encountered, probably because he is essentially Rand’s philosophy poured into a human form. A philosophy does not a 3-dimensional character make…Roark betrays some feeling at the end of the book, but his passion is so restrained and steely that I have trouble accessing it in any significant way.
This idea of passion leads me to one of the most important impressions that linger with me, now that I’m post Fountainhead…I was writing to a friend of mine about the book, and was explaining that there’s something superfluously dramatic and dated about the interactions between the female protagonist, Dominique, and the men she encounters throughout the book. I mentioned that it seemed “cheap” and “contrived” at times, reminding me of a tawdry film noir, or something of a similar nature. My friend replied that it does indeed “read like a romance novel” and that she read it because of its cultural significance, but could not be enticed to ever read another work by Rand again. I attribute some of this to Rand’s writing style—I’m always wary of authors who incessantly repeat words…Rand’s favorite words are “insolent” and “Bromide.” I tried to count how many times those words were used in this 640-something page monster of hers, but failed utterly because the number of uses exceeded my patience. It always troubles me when I feel the need to urge a published author (regardless of fame, cultural significance or notoriety) to invest in a thesaurus.
I found the character of Ellsworth Toohey fascinating…I have never observed a (granted—self proclaimed) “humanitarian” so vehemently maligned. Toohey is a truly reprehensible worm—Rand does an excellent job of rendering him simultaneously ridiculous and threatening…He represents socialism and tinges of communism. He’s an insult to liberal-minded people everywhere, too.
One thing I’ll say in favor of Rand: I was so morbidly intrigued by what could possibly render a person so misanthropic (because this novel is riddled with contempt for the masses—and I mean vitriolic hatred…combined with the idea that there are people who are blessed to be heroic geniuses of their age, and the unfortunate others, who are merely leaching off of geniuses as lowly “second-handers”) that I researched what in the hell could have happened in her personal life to result in her ideology.
As it turns out, (which is probably not a surprise to many) Rand was born in Russia and spent her formative years witnessing the Bolshevik revolution. Her father, a successful pharmacist and entrepreneur, was brought to ruination after his shop was taken over, razing his career and livelihood to the ground. It makes sense, then, that Rand’s anti-socialist ideology would be a driving force featured in her future works.
In some ways, I’m glad I’ve read this. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who isn’t particularly patient. The one thing I gained from reading this book is an appreciation for the fact that everything is not so black and white, right or wrong, good or bad, deserving and undeserving, as Rand portrays the world. ...more
This marks my first experience of D.H. Lawrence, apart from practically memorizing a famous, passionate excerpt from “The Rainbow,” read during a greaThis marks my first experience of D.H. Lawrence, apart from practically memorizing a famous, passionate excerpt from “The Rainbow,” read during a great episode of Northern Exposure (one of the greatest television shows of all time, in my humble opinion)…that excerpt may have generated some preconceived notions regarding the content of Sons and Lovers…in some ways, my predictions were correct…in others, wholly unmet and practically unfounded.
Sons and Lovers is the story of one family, the Morels, which filters into the story of one son in this family, named Paul. As though he absorbed the incredibly “bad vibes” in the Morel household during his fetal development, Paul comes into the world as an innocent baby with a palpable darkness and gloom about him— one inherited, perhaps, by the relentless struggle that binds him to his mother in a preternatural way from the very beginning.
And so, Paul grows in loneliness, frustration and despair, in a household that is patched together by a mother whose propriety is unmatched by many of the surrounding lower middle class mining families. This social backdrop is excellent fuel for social commentary, and Lawrence handles such timeless topics without being overbearing—and without diminishing the integrity of the story, which focuses on Paul’s internal and external conflicts.
In terms of what makes this a classic—Lawrence’s mastery of setting is undeniable…He utilizes the natural landscape as a sort of unyielding metaphor—you, as his reader, know Lawrence means business when he is writing about the “sleek, cool-fleshed fruit” of a cherry. It’s as though Lawrence uses the Earth as the most natural grounds for foreplay; his characters are at the mercy of the weather and the surrounding flora and fauna— they grow dumb and thick blooded at the site of a wet boulevard and seem to consider a row of poplars an open invitation for a raunchy romp in the thicket.
On the whole, the story of Paul Morel’s life and family made me feel more than unsettled... It was rather unpleasant to read about such a desolate and joyless existence as his, and filled me with a sense of fear—that people can actually suffer a fate as isolating and grim as his, his mother’s or his father’s. There is something very realistic about this novel—but the reality is peculiar and unique, as though it belongs to Lawrence alone. That this novel is, in fact, based on Lawrence’s own deeply personal experiences (as the son of a miner, whose relationship with his mother was unnaturally close by his own admission) is a testament to his sensitivity, introspectiveness and insight.
Read this one for the setting and insightfulness alone, and you’ll be able to gain something from it. It’s clear to me now—why Lawrence’s work is considered classic—and why Lawrence seems to be such an acquired taste.
I’ll end with one of my favorite segments from the earlier chapters in Sons and Lovers…Providing some context: Mrs. Morel and her husband just had a vicious fight. Mrs. Morel is several months along with her second child (Paul). She has been locked out of her house by her husband, who came home, senselessly drunk and raving. She is outdoors at night, still staggering from the severity of their argument:
“She became aware of something about her. With an effort she roused herself to see what it was that penetrated her consciousness. The tall white lilies were reeling in the moonlight, and the air was charged as with a presence. Mrs. Morel gasped slightly in fear. She touched the big, pallid flowers on their petals, then shivered. They seemed to be stretching in the moonlight. She put her hand into one white bin: the gold scarcely showed on her fingers in the moonlight. She bent down to look at the binful of yellow pollen; but it only appeared dusky. The she drank a deep draught of the scent. It almost made her dizzy...”
Some time passes and Mrs. Morel is finally allowed back into the house, shivering from the cold night. She has an empty, angry exchange with her husband and is getting ready for bed.
“…As she unfastened her brooch at the mirror, she smiled faintly to see her face all smeared with the yellow dust of the lilies. She brushed it off, and at last lay down. For some time her mind continued snapping and jetting sparks, but she was asleep before her husband awoke from the first sleep of his drunkenness.”
Something about her smiling in the mirror when she noticed the pollen caught me the way a poignant note in a song will. That Lawrence was able to convey such an intimate detail impressed me. It’s that sort of sensitivity that kept me engaged in this otherwise rather unpleasant account of a desolate, disconsolate life. ...more
This is an incredibly illuminating book that should be read and re-read by as many people as possible. Beverly Daniel Tatum breaks the psychological dThis is an incredibly illuminating book that should be read and re-read by as many people as possible. Beverly Daniel Tatum breaks the psychological development of racial identity into several fascinating stages.
Clearly, racism is not a topic easily broached; Tatum approaches its volatile nature with what can only be described as an intelligent, confident, comprehensive and collected grace. There is nothing to fear when this topic is being addressed by an author so capable as she.
This book is teaching me to research the history of human kind in an innovative way. It has challenged my understanding of American history, contemporary society, and the processes that have influenced my own development within its sometimes insidious context.
Using compassion and insights of my own, a singular brand of understanding may be attained. It is incumbent upon all of us to actively participate in the world. Part of that process is learning as much as possible with practical open-mindedness, never forgetting one's own identity in the process.
We truly are united by the same fundamental truths; to deny such truths is to deny oneself the full depth and breadth of life experience, to contradict humanity and perhaps life itself. We are living in a world where understanding is languishing, and self-involved materialistic pursuits are flourishing. Perhaps, as more socially connected messages come to the forefront, people's priorities will shift, and we will become a more willing, more all-encompassing society....more