Holy crap, if I had known how funny Dickens is, I wouldn't have put off reading him for so long. Now, I'm not sure why I did.
While I read that Nichola...moreHoly crap, if I had known how funny Dickens is, I wouldn't have put off reading him for so long. Now, I'm not sure why I did.
While I read that Nicholas Nickleby isn't Dickens' best or most-respected work, I enjoyed the dickens out of it (sorry). Farcical melodrama at it's most amusing, I say. Sure, the characters are pretty cliche, aptonymical caricatures of various personality traits writ large, but who is better at rendering human motivations and clothing them in astonishingly recognizable portraits than Dickens? His mastery of dialects is particularly impressive; I could all but hear the voices in my head as I read them.
My Penguin edition also included a most informative introduction (which I of course read after finishing the story: spoilers!). In it, Michael Slater offered a context for the work, both in a historical sense--describing the real-life conditions and characters that inspired it--as well as by way of placing Nicholas in the larger body of Dickens' oeuvre. Maybe the absurd yet familiar characters, the embodiment of aspects of the human condition still recognizable to modern readers, are the reason Nicholas Nickleby is still read, despite disinterest from academics and critics.
I was curious just why Dickens is still taught, and read 200 years after his birthday, so I did a little Google-fu and found one high school literature teacher who proffers this explanation, provided by one of his students: "We need to read Dickens's novels," she wrote, "because they tell us, in the grandest way possible, why we are what we are."
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I can't describe the wherefores & the whys any better than GR member J Keirn-Swanson did, however; read his review...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book! I can't describe the wherefores & the whys any better than GR member J Keirn-Swanson did, however; read his review!
If you like a) epistolary-driven fiction, b) historical vampire lit, and/or c) eastern European settings: get your hands on a copy of this book.(less)
On a whim, I picked up an ARC of The Passage from my wonderful indie bookshop last...moreReview forthcoming.
On a whim, I picked up an ARC of The Passage from my wonderful indie bookshop last year, and was immensely surprised to discover it was a favorite read of 2012. Imagine my chagrin when they weren't sent an advance of The Twelve: I would have to either spring for the hardcover, or wait an interminable year or more for it to come out in paperback. So I was ECSTATIC today when, upon stopping by said book purveyor, I found a gratis copy waiting with my name on it! They received a damaged copy (tiny tear in the jacket), remembered I was dying to read it, and gave it to me. THIS is why I will always give THEM my money, not Amazon.(less)
Time travel! Jack the Ripper! Automatons! What's not to love?!? Well, as it turns out, almost everything.
I know everyone else here is raving about it,...moreTime travel! Jack the Ripper! Automatons! What's not to love?!? Well, as it turns out, almost everything.
I know everyone else here is raving about it, but I could barely stomach The Map of Time; it took every ounce of stick-to-it-iveness I could muster to get through this convoluted, interminable literary maze. WHERE, I ask you, was the EDITOR in this hot mess? There is the kernal of a potentially good story here, had about 2/3 of the fat been excised. The only way it could have been more byzantine is if Nancy Grace had shown up to interrogate Inspector Lusk about the Ripper murders.
It's not like the guy can't write. He's a decent, if grandiose, storyteller and he mimics to perfection the florid style of the period he set this novel in. And the theme Palma writes about -- choice and the Butterfly Effect of exercising it -- is one that is both powerful and personal. Plus, he knows how to turn a phrase: "...loneliness that sticks to him like a birthmark."
But come on, Félix, enough with the meandering, the inconsistencies, the convenient last-minute reprieves for waylaid story-lines. And the unnecessary reminders from the narrator about his omniscience have to go.
I was all set to love this book, what with it being about the re-writing of the history of the earliest science fiction and all, but it wasn't to be. The one good thing that came out of it? It inspired me to read the original H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, and it was love at first sight.
This ARC was provided to me by the publisher via my local Indie bookstore, and no money was exchanged.(less)
Quite a page-turner, but something was just missing. Enough of a good story to keep me hooked for the next installment, though, and a good thing since...moreQuite a page-turner, but something was just missing. Enough of a good story to keep me hooked for the next installment, though, and a good thing since Thrones is definitely not a stand-alone volume.(less)
OK, I guess I didn't hate this one. But geez, the author could have cut this book in half with a decent editor. At least it had some action, making it...moreOK, I guess I didn't hate this one. But geez, the author could have cut this book in half with a decent editor. At least it had some action, making it twice as interesting as the previous volume. Enough to entice me to pick up a copy of the last installment, just to see the protagonist come into her own at the end of her journey.
Um, yeah. Not my genre, but I have a hard time leaving a series unfinished once started. Reading as self-flagellation. Three down, two to go. (I am *n...moreUm, yeah. Not my genre, but I have a hard time leaving a series unfinished once started. Reading as self-flagellation. Three down, two to go. (I am *not* buying #6.)
The real question is: should you read this book? Am I right? If you read Dragon Tattoo and Plays with Fire, the answer is "yes". If not, there's no ne...moreThe real question is: should you read this book? Am I right? If you read Dragon Tattoo and Plays with Fire, the answer is "yes". If not, there's no need to read Hornet's Nest. This is not a stand-alone book, in my opinion. It ties all the ends from the first 2 volumes of Larsson's Millenium trilogy together nicely, but if you hadn't read the previous titles, there's not enough going on here to interest you. Not entirely sure there was even enough going on, save for wrapping everything up, for those that have read the first two.
I thought the whole Berger stalker storyline was tacked on and unnecessary (I assume it was supposed to function as the "main" storyline here, like the serial killer of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2's human trafficking). But it wasn't integrated well enough to feel organic and germane to the trilogy story arcs. It lacked the intriguing mystery of Dragon, and the can't-put-it-down pace of Fire. And like the latter, it could have used a good pruning; extensive back-stories for minor characters and extraneous details made it feel over-long.
Don't get me wrong: I liked this book. It just didn't live up to the high marks set by its predecessors in my view.(less)
Picked this up at a thrift store with no knowledge that it has been made into a film or that it has such a following. My question: Why?!? I don't so m...morePicked this up at a thrift store with no knowledge that it has been made into a film or that it has such a following. My question: Why?!? I don't so much mind the historical inaccuracies; it is, after all, fiction (although, the entire final third of the novel is completely fabricated, and the sources Gregory consulted are not considered reputable, so I'm not sure this really qualifies as historical). My real complaint is how utterly pedestrian it is.
It's written in a thoroughly modern voice, and really, what's the point of that? If you are going to write from a modern perspective, Ms. Gregory, why not give the characters modern motives and emotions? Because Mary's words and actions don't jibe, I didn't get the sense that the author knew her protagonist's mind, or, by extension, what she wanted to say as a writer.
Beyond the waffling Mary, there is also the matter of the shallow, caricatured characters. With the exception of George Boleyn, whom I thoroughly liked, that rascal, every character was written as a flat stereotype. There is simply no believing in the scheming, devious, one-dimensional supporting cast.
Finally, any time I can make it through over 600 pages without once needing to consult a dictionary, I am disappointed. I read it in about 3 days, so at least I didn't waste too much time on it. I'm thinking that having a decent working knowledge of the history of that era might have actually exacerbated this problem for me: maybe the readers who enjoyed this more than I did have little background in the customs of the time? Certainly the shock of one GR reviewer at the 'vulgarity' of the story surprised me (really? you didn't expect there to be descriptions of seduction techniques?).
Not much on technique, not much on history, tepid story: hence the 1 star.
The A,B,Cs (and D,E,Fs) of Cloud Atlas. Somewhat illusory, to boot, but really, really, a lovely...moreAbstract. Bouyant. Chimerical. Dreamy. Ethereal. Fanciful.
The A,B,Cs (and D,E,Fs) of Cloud Atlas. Somewhat illusory, to boot, but really, really, a lovely read.
If I had my druthers, I'd have the ability to rate on multiple factors; in this case, 5 stars for innovation, 5 for language, 5 for its ability to provoke thought, but the story is only a 3, 3.5. I mean, I like the story(s), but it isn't true love, you know?
David Mitchell has deftly woven together six seemingly disparate perspectives into a (fairly) cohesive whole, traversing multiple settings, moods, and times. After reading several reviews written by other readers, it seems that many found Cloud Atlas a challenge, but I would argue that it is less challenging than it is a book that requires assiduous attention. It is dense with detail and meaning, drawing from multiple traditions and chock-full of allusions, many of which I'm sure sailed over the head of this reviewer.
For example, I would argue that the "time-travel" aspect that seems to be the main thrust of the film (at least according to the ubiquitous trailers I'm constantly being bombarded with) is NOT in the novel the literal one-soul-reincarnating model, but rather a metaphorical nothing-new-under-the-sun Jungian recurring archetypes kinda thing. I think that Cloud Atlas the book is less about Fate with a capital 'F', as the reductive movie schilling might suggest, and more of an exploration of lowercase-f fate-as-choice. Are we really bound irrevocably into power struggles both internal and external, with no ability but to ride them out like carnival roller coasters, or are is there instead a way to break free and choose something more meaningful, something a bit aspirational?
Deep, I know, but it is like the "noisy silence" of trees, as Mitchell describes it, the truth at the core of his admonition that "we are only what we know"; and if we don't know ourselves, if we each of us is a tree, falling alone in a forest, does anyone hear us?
I think my metaphors are getting mixed and running away from me; that's because Cloud Atlas is complex and dialectically demanding, both funny and clever, and well worth at least one re-read.
Only 3 stars, after I gave all the others 4 or 5? Yes. And it's not because I disapprove of the ending (I do not; I thought the Epilogue was a perfect...moreOnly 3 stars, after I gave all the others 4 or 5? Yes. And it's not because I disapprove of the ending (I do not; I thought the Epilogue was a perfect way to bid us adieu), but because this book was half again too long.
My overall enjoyment of the series was high, but I wish Rowling would have divided the final installment into two volumes, edited with an eagle eye and red pen, and taken the time to flesh-out a few of the more glaring examples of plot points that were sprung on the reader, wholly-formed from Rowling's brow.(less)
Yeah, sure, I get it, "they're derivative", "over-simplify complex themes", "poorly edited": whatev. I'm not embarrassed (not *too* embarrassed) to ad...moreYeah, sure, I get it, "they're derivative", "over-simplify complex themes", "poorly edited": whatev. I'm not embarrassed (not *too* embarrassed) to admit that the adventures of Harry and his posse continue to entertain me, the perfect antidote to the crap on what passes for news during an election cycle.(less)
How the hell do I write a review of a book that anybody likely to read it has already done so? Yeah, Rowling uses the wrong word sometimes ('evoke' fo...moreHow the hell do I write a review of a book that anybody likely to read it has already done so? Yeah, Rowling uses the wrong word sometimes ('evoke' for 'invoke', for example). Sure, this 800+ page tome could have used a good pruning. And yeah, Harry was *awfully* whiny in this volume, but he's 15, what do you expect? I love this series, my guilty pleasure, and wish there was a UK law that Rowling be required to keep writing about these characters. Wouldn't you love to read about Harry's mid-life crisis?(less)