I enjoyed Shelly King's writing style and I loved Hugo, but I could not get myself to care about Maggie and Rajhit. If this had been a movie, I wouldI enjoyed Shelly King's writing style and I loved Hugo, but I could not get myself to care about Maggie and Rajhit. If this had been a movie, I would have said the two actors had no chemistry. I don't know if it's because their relationship happened so quickly, or because we only read about the sex and not about any kind of emotional or mental connection, but I didn't believe that they were each other's Great Love. I was also disappointed by the identities of "Henry" and "Catherine."...more
The author of these books set out to write four separate novels; stand-alone stories that could be read in any order but that were linked together byThe author of these books set out to write four separate novels; stand-alone stories that could be read in any order but that were linked together by common characters and The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I don't know if I believe that they can be read in any order, however. I read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game four years ago, and I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I could remember them - especially The Angel's Game. But still, I enjoyed it enough to read it in one sitting. ...more
This book would have been 4 stars had it not been for the ending. Certain questions are unanswered and the final chapter is just, well, stupid. Up untThis book would have been 4 stars had it not been for the ending. Certain questions are unanswered and the final chapter is just, well, stupid. Up until then, however, I was enjoying this book and Zafon's writing. Zafon employs almost all of the classic Gothic traditions: a lost manuscript, a rambling, old mansion where one room still contains the belongings of its previous owner, hidden chambers, damsels in distress, and more. Parts of it were predictible but I enjoyed finding out if I was right. The parts that I did not predict, though, seemed less like cool twists and turns and more like contrived, pull-the-rug-out-from-under-you plot devices. It almost seemed like Zafon was up against a deadline and changed his mind about where the book was going at the end, leaving loose ends untied and suddenly going in a whole new direction. The Shadow of the Wind is better....more
This is a definite four-and-a-half star book. It really probably should be five, but I feel like I've been too generous with stars lately so I'm tryinThis is a definite four-and-a-half star book. It really probably should be five, but I feel like I've been too generous with stars lately so I'm trying to cut back. Is that silly? Maybe so, but there it is.
Juliet, the book's main character, writes "It was amazing to me then, and still is, that so many people who wander into bookshops don't really know what they're after--they only want to look around and hope to see a book that will strike their fancy. And then, being bright enough not to trust the publisher's blurb, they will ask the book clerk the three questions: (1) What is it about? (2) Have you read it? (3) Was it any good? Real dyed-in-the-wool booksellers -- like Sophie and me -- can't lie. Our faces are always a dead giveaway. A lifted brow or curled lip reveals that it's a poor excuse for a book, and the clever customers ask for a recommendation instead, whereupon we frog-march them over to a particular volume and command them to read it. If they read it and despise it, they'll never come back. But if they like it, they're customers for life."
That is almost precisely how I came upon this little gem of a novel. I was at Barnes and Noble looking at The Wednesday Sisters A Novel when I saw that the blurb on the back compared it to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which I did not care for, and so I asked the customer service rep if she'd read it. She hadn't, but recommended Guernsey to me instead. I am ever so grateful that she did.
The cast of characters in this book are delightful. Their stories are both hilarious and harrowing. During WWII, German soldiers occupied the Channel Islands between England and France, Guernsey being one of them. I've read stories of people in the camps and of people on the home front but I never even thought about the people in occupied villages and towns. It was beautiful to read about how hope can survive even the bleakest of situations, how kindness can be found even from those amongst the enemy, and how life goes on after war....more
I'm not really much into poetry, and there is a LOT of poetry. I understand that novels can't really be put into anthologies like this, but I thoughtI'm not really much into poetry, and there is a LOT of poetry. I understand that novels can't really be put into anthologies like this, but I thought the sections on Austen and Dickens were pathetic. Not even excerpts, like they did with Radcliffe, Scott, and M. Shelley (although the excerpt of tha latter was NOT from Frankenstein!)....more
I really don't understand what's supposedly so fan-freaking-tastic about this book. Maybe I'm not a fan of teenage boy coming-of-age books (as I alsoI really don't understand what's supposedly so fan-freaking-tastic about this book. Maybe I'm not a fan of teenage boy coming-of-age books (as I also loathed The Catcher in the Rye). Maybe I don't know enough about Mexican literature to appreciate this. Maybe I don't like poetry enough to care. Maybe it was the repetitive nothingness of Juan's diary entries (went here, smoked some weed, saw so-and-so, had sex with Maria. Next day: went here, drank some tequila, saw so-and-so, had sex with Rosario). Snore.
Well, at least I gave it the ol' college try....more
I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality.
I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and iI wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality.
I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."
On the last page of The Book Thief, Zusak's narrator speaks these words about the world and the human race. But he could also be talking about the book itself, because that's exactly how it made me feel. This book was beautiful, and it was brutal. It was ugly, and it was glorious. It was damning, and it was brilliant.
When five women convene one Wednesday night in January for their first reading group meeting, they have no idea how their lives will change over the cWhen five women convene one Wednesday night in January for their first reading group meeting, they have no idea how their lives will change over the coming year. Polly is a 40-something, divorced mother of two whose boyfriend has proposed, and she comtemplates her desire to get married again while also dealing with the unexpected pregnancy of her single, 20-year-old daughter, Cressida. Susan is Polly's best friend, and her mother is suffering from dementia. Nicole has a perfect house, a perfect body, and a husband who's a serial cheater. Harriet is a frazzled stay at home mom who's not sure if she's ever been in love with her husband. Clare is a midwife who can't have the child she so desperately wants. As the year goes on, six women (Cressida is a major character, but not a member of the Reading Group) will have to lean on each other as their stories intertwine in ways they would have never expected.
Noble's writing seemed, at times, uneven and inconsistent, although it could be the British slang that made it difficult to follow at times. Sometimes the sentence structure made no sense to my American brain. At first, the characters seemed so cookie-cutter: the perfect woman with the philandering husband, the midwife who can't have a baby, the stay at home mom who can't keep up with the housework, etc. But as the story progressed, the characters' stories evoked real emotion, even if their situations were contrived. One character made me angry. One made me cry. One annoyed me. One evoked my sympathy. While I didn't always agree with the actions of the characters, I appreciated Noble's ability to make me feel and to keep me interested in how their stories would end.
One warning, however: each month in the characters' book club discussion, the endings of the books they read are given away. While this is a realistic portrayal of conversations that take place at club meetings, it was disappointing for me to have major plot twists revealed in books such as Rebecca and Atonement....more
This is the classic story about a futuristic world in which books have been banned, and about the man who wants to read them.
Bradbury's use of languagThis is the classic story about a futuristic world in which books have been banned, and about the man who wants to read them.
Bradbury's use of language is fantastic. I love the way he describes things in contradictions (like the Hound which was alive and not alive). I also thought that his imagination of the future world showed some pretty incredible foresight, for example the way people are so obsessed with TV and have wall-sized screens in their homes. It sort of divines the advent of flat, big screen TVs, DVR, and reality shows. I also thought it was really interesting how the banning of books started with the people, not the government. As people became more and more used to the instant gratification of TV, they read less and less. Books were abridged and edited into noting more than synopses before being done away with altogether. The loss of books and reading the ideas and thoughts of others led to a loss of individual thought in all people. Those who dared to think freely were disposed of with no more thought than the books they were not allowed to read.
My one complaint is that the ending was a bit rushed, anti-climactic, and confusing. Many questions were left unanswered....more
On the fictional, language-obsessed island of Nollop, a statue stands erected to the memory of the man who composed the famous pangram, "The quick broOn the fictional, language-obsessed island of Nollop, a statue stands erected to the memory of the man who composed the famous pangram, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." One day, a letter-tile falls from the pangram and as a result the island Council outlaws use of that letter. As more tiles fall, more letters are banned, and the island dwellers must fight for freedom of speech in its most literal sense.
This is a cute, clever, witty, and original book which I loved. The epistolary form of the novel is key, because as letters disappear from the island inhabitant's alphabet, they also disappear from the book, forcing the letter-writers to be very innovative in words they use and creative spellings. The wordsmithing of the novel is my favorite part.
There is also a deeper level to this book. The Nollopian council believe the destruction of the letter-tiles to be the will of Nollop, exercised from beyond the grave. The Council members place Nollop above God, and worship him as a deity. It seems as though the author was exploring his idea, in an extreme way, of what might happen if there were no separation between church and state, or perhaps he was merely questioning the idea that we can truly know the will of God....more
**spoiler alert** At first, the narrator's overuse of words generally only read in a thesaurus bothered me. But as I got to know the character, I real**spoiler alert** At first, the narrator's overuse of words generally only read in a thesaurus bothered me. But as I got to know the character, I realized that it completely fit for her. Margaret Lea grew up in an antiquarian bookshop, and her only friends were books. She read all kinds of old books and picked up knowledge in many useless areas as a result. Having an archaic and grandiose vocabulary certainly would have come with that territory.
I enjoyed reading this book. I was quickly drawn into the story and once I realized the language was right for the character rather than pretentiousness on the part of the author, I enjoyed the style. However, I found the plot to be at times too predictable and too implausible to really say that I "loved" it. For the first half of the book, the reader is repeatedly hit over the head with what I like to call the Anvil of Foreshadowing. (view spoiler)[Over and over and over and over the novel Jane Eyre is referenced, so it was obvious to me that Emmeline would end up being alive, mad, and hidden away somewhere in the house. When Hester sees the other little girl who she assumes is Adeline, I wondered if there might be triplets, so when the third sister was finally revealed I was not altogether surprised; however, I still thought it was an all-too "convenient" and lazy plot device. And totally implausible that Hester could live in that house for all that time and never know there were three girls. Still, the way the author led up to that convenient and lazy plot device was pretty well done.
I could not care less about the narrator's sister. I didn't believe that she "always" felt her absence, because if that were so it wouldn't have come as such a shock to her when she found out she'd had a twin. Also, I didn't like how she was always convinced she was going to see her sister or that her reflection was her sister's ghost. Hey, Margaret. I don't have a sister, but I have a reflection. You're an educated, adult woman. Use some sense. I did like when the doctor diagnosed her with over-imagination, a common affliction in overly romantic ladies. It reminded me a lot of Catherine in Northanger Abbey. Imagine how I felt reading the last chapter of the book, then. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The problem with a biography written in novel form is that I, as the reader, keep expecting something to happen. You know, for the book to have a mainThe problem with a biography written in novel form is that I, as the reader, keep expecting something to happen. You know, for the book to have a main plot and for events described in the book to have a resolution. I had to keep reminding myself that these were true stories, and that they don't always get tied up in a neat little bow. Also, since the book is called "The Bookseller of Kabul," I expected it to be more about Sultan the bookseller. Instead, it was mostly about his family. Still, it was interesting to get a glimpse into this household of modern-day Afghanistan, and strange that Sultan considers himself relatively "liberal" and "free-thinking" but still rules his family with an iron fist. Like A Thousand Splendid Suns, this book made me thankful to be a free American. It's also interesting to compare the two books, one a fiction and one a biography....more
This is October's pick for my book club. The book was very good, but for me the most fun part was reconizing all the local places mentioned in the booThis is October's pick for my book club. The book was very good, but for me the most fun part was reconizing all the local places mentioned in the book. Places like Biba, Crepe Bistro, Osaka, and the Sacramento Public Library... streets like Jefferson Blvd., the Tower Bridge... It'll be interesting to see the movie as well because none of the actors are who I'd have pictured for the roles. Fowler focuses on a different character in each chapter, and we see things through that character's eyes. Each chapter is a different month, a different Austen novel, and a different character. The character's life echoes the Austen book of the month. I thought this was a really interesting way to write, but it kept me from ever feeling like I really got to know a character. Just as I was beginning to understand them, there would be a new chapter and a new character's voice. I recommend this book, especially to those who've read Austen. ...more