The translation that I read was a little difficult to follow. The organization of the dialog between characters were only separated by commas that rea...moreThe translation that I read was a little difficult to follow. The organization of the dialog between characters were only separated by commas that read like long run-on sentences. At times I had to read lines over and over again to make sure I had the communication between characters straight.
Despite the organizational problems, the story is a great narrative. The story serves as a reminder of what we take for granted in our world and how poorly we may adapt to change. I think the story reminds us that how we define ourselves as individuals can be blinded by what we perceive with our eyes. What is seen on the outside can mask what type of moral character we hold within.
*Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998* (less)
Jeff Shaara takes the reigns from his father and dives into the American Civil War with his novel A Blaze of Glory. The story begins with the march so...moreJeff Shaara takes the reigns from his father and dives into the American Civil War with his novel A Blaze of Glory. The story begins with the march south of the Federal army under General Ulysses Grant as they chase the Confederates led by Albert Johnston. After being defeated in Kentucky, Johnston decides to retreat south to regroup and organize a counter-attack against his oncoming enemy. Where Johnston and Grant meet in Tennessee becomes the epic battle of Shiloh. A victory here by either force could becoming a decided turning point in the outcome of the war.
Shaara's novelization does a commendable job of recreating such a watershed moment in our country's history. For a war and more specifically a battle that is constantly studied and analyzed, the author does an outstanding job of covering perspectives from high ranking officials to grunt infantrymen of both sides. The story is told through the eyes of several key players involved in the battle. Most of the men are significant historical figures such as Grant, Johnston, and William Sherman. The fictional characters created by Shaara are infantrymen fighting in the front lines. They play a critical role in telling the story of the actual fighting taking place.
Shaara description of the battle scenes are deep and epic. No small detail, no matter how gruesome is left out. The book is definitely not for the feint of heart. The players in this story not suffer from physical wounds from artillery or musket fire, but they must also deal with the psychological fallout of witnessing fields dressed in red from the blood of their fellow countrymen. It is believed that the American Civil War is the last "romanticized" war in our nation's history. The thoughts of honor and glory are fleeting from the reader's mind as they read about the relentless charges of both sides, resulting in massive casualties.
The strengths of this book are the exhaustive research and detailing that Shaara has put in his story. The accounts of the battle are breathtaking and remind of of the tragedy of war rather than celebrating it. The development of the blue coated infantryman Bauer is also very well done. Through his eyes the reader is taken on a emotional roller coaster of victory and defeat. The author does a great job of remaining neutral between the Federal and Confederate sides.
Where the story drags a little is in the build up towards the battle. The bureaucratic tug of war between generals becomes a tad frustrating and slows the story down quite a bit. The back and forth format used by the author can also be a little confusing. Most of the time the chapters will rotate between Confederate and Union, but there are a lot of names to keep straight. Those who are interested in history of the war will probably be able to handle this issue no problem, but a causal reader might struggle.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book to a broad audience. The brutality of the fighting might turn off potential readers, but Shaara does a great job of taking this battle and portraying it vividly to his reader. (less)
**spoiler alert** The third and final installment of this series certainly continues the roller coaster ride that is the epic of Katniss Everdeen. Cli...more**spoiler alert** The third and final installment of this series certainly continues the roller coaster ride that is the epic of Katniss Everdeen. Cliffhangers at every chapter kept demanding that I continue on and I cannot say that I was disappointed.
For a young adult book, I was surprised at the amount of violence and death described in the book. Of the main characters, besides perhaps President Snow, no one is given a clean or peaceful death, rather they fall from an epic battle scene or some gruesome accident. Those who remain living at the end face a seemingly insurmountable condition of insecurity in their own lives because of what they have seen or the decisions that they were forced to make.
For a novel, I think the storyline would be a great resource to discuss themes about war/civil war to a young adult audience. There are so many examples in history that can be paralleled to events in this story. Discussion topics could be the public perception of leadership and government, sensationalism of media, effects of total war, the repercussions of civil war,lost innocence of a generation, or the psychological damage of surviving a war.
In entertainment value, this book rates very highly. I was a little taken back at the brutality of the book, but mainly because of the audience that it is intended for. While I felt Catching Fire was a little rushed, Mockingjay left me exhausted from the non-stop action and shocking betrayals around every corner.
The format and writing style of the book mirrors the first two installments, so fans of the series should get into this one pretty easily. I think without the first two novels, however, this book would be climbing an uphill battle. I'd recommend this book to readers of the series and would definitely advise potential new readers to tackle the first two before taking on this one.(less)
Admittedly, I'm not a huge fantasy guy. Saying that, I think my review for Summerland might sound a little harsh. The great turn on for me is the cons...moreAdmittedly, I'm not a huge fantasy guy. Saying that, I think my review for Summerland might sound a little harsh. The great turn on for me is the constant metaphors about life and baseball, especially from a youth's perspective. Baseball at its core is just a game. Chabon makes his best effort to remind us though that while you can stretch a double into a triple and bunt a runner into scoring position, life can also be stretched out into a 9 inning game.
The story is very touching. Despite being unable to keep his eyes open at the plate, young Ethan Feld and his best friends Jennifer T. Ride and the curiously odd Thor take on a mythical quest to try and prevent Ragged Rock (the end of the world) and the kidnapping of Ethan's father. During their Homeric quest across the 4 different worlds that live amongst one another, they encounter numerous adventures. They must escape the capture of giants, avoid being eaten by feline aquatic beasts, and trick little men and women called ferishers. During their journey they team up with creatures of the other worlds. Each new character is unique and brings a different personality to the eclectic group. While avoiding death and trying to catch up with the evil Changer Coyote, these young characters come of age as heroes and ballplayers.
This title will appeal to most young adult readers. The story has a good balance of sincerity and goofiness that will keep readers entertained. The hardest thing for me while reading this book was trying to understand the different mythical worlds. At times the book was a little too out there for my taste.
I wouldn't want to discourage any reader from picking this one up. I wanted to give them book a try, but I'm just not a big fan of fantasy titles. I'd recommend this to readers who want to escape for awhile and travel through the lands created through the imagination of Chabon. Baseball fans will love the numerous references and appreciate how Chabon shapes life as a ball game to be played until the very last out. (less)
Tom Stanton has written a pretty solid book. He has provided a in depth look at the immortal Hank Aaron as he chases the mystical number of 714, the n...moreTom Stanton has written a pretty solid book. He has provided a in depth look at the immortal Hank Aaron as he chases the mystical number of 714, the number of career homeruns for perhaps baseballs most celebrated player, Babe Ruth. What I really found intriguing about the story are the personalities of the two legends. You have the brash, outspoken Babe Ruth who lived a life of excess clashing against the stoic, mild-manner Hank Aaron. There is also the different career paths led by each man. Ruth, starting as a pitcher in Boston and then traded to New York made baseball a spectacle in cities deep in baseball lore. Having been in the mecca of the American media, Ruth became a super-hero, a mythical god performing Herculean feats in front of thousands of Yankee fans. Ruth's nicknames almost match the number of his homeruns. Compare that to Hank Aaron. He played in the Midwest in front of home crowds in Milwaukee until the team packed up and moved to Atlanta. Even during the stretch run of his chase, Aaron played to paltry crowds in his home stadium. In Atlanta Stadium many crowds never surpassed 10,000 people to watch a piece of American history. Aaron had to fight just to keep his name in front of his other contemporaries like Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente. Ruth was held to no one. Aaron was the model of consistency. Hardly without flash or flamboyance, he somehow upheld his homerun totals as he neared the age of 40 while keeping up his lifetime .300 average. These two men who stood atop the baseball mountain certainly took different routes seeking their baseball immortality.
What is at the forefront of this book, however, is the swirling issue of race that had surrounded Aaron's chase. Following in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, Hank Aaron had entered baseball at a time where African-Americans were just beginning to ingrain themselves into the Major Leagues. Aaron carried the burden of his brothers as they passed the torch to him. Jackie Robinson himself implored Aaron to speak out against injustices by reminding him that he was now on a pedestal where he can make a difference.
I think the book does a great job of capturing the times and really getting into the darker side of the homerun chase. While we remember Aaron's shot of Al Downing, we may forget that the man chasing the record faced a challenge that many of us could never survive. Hate mail, death threats, bomb threats tried to slow Hank, but his resiliency pushed him past all the negativity to that magical night in 1974.
Baseball fans of all ranges will really get into this book. I think this story will also resonate with readers interested in the Civil Rights movement and those interested in studying race in sports. Overall, this is a quality book that is well researched and reads like a script. I think at times the transistions are sloppy as they aren't just written in chronological order. A little background with the people, places, and issues of the time will definitely help readers keep track of the extensive list of names and references. I'd recommend this book to most readers.(less)
**spoiler alert** I think the only thing holding this book back was way the characters of Peeta and Katniss kept conveniently avoiding having to "win"...more**spoiler alert** I think the only thing holding this book back was way the characters of Peeta and Katniss kept conveniently avoiding having to "win" the games. Most of the other combatants were too busy handling one another and it left me a little bored wondering if Katniss and Peeta would ever have to determine their fate directly or simply just hold out until the dust settles.
Other than that, I thought this was a fantastic book and a great way to start a trilogy. I am very intrigued to see where the story goes and I like how the author does not leave Katniss and Peeta with a silver spoon in their mouth.
The story reminds me a little of Enders Game. I kept wondering who would be able to manipulate the other and get the final laugh. Would it be Katniss or would the Capital ultimately get what they want out of their new hero.
Please pick this book up. I think it would work well for young adults starting around 7th or 8th grade both male and female. The raw and gritty setting should feed the appetite for the young and old alike. I highly recommend this book to anyone.
This book was a lot of fun to read. For all of the Tom Sawyers out there, the adventures are non-stop. The psychological struggles of Huck Finn are ju...moreThis book was a lot of fun to read. For all of the Tom Sawyers out there, the adventures are non-stop. The psychological struggles of Huck Finn are just as intriguing as the physical. Dealing with an abusive father, the battle with becoming civilized, and the value of truth are just a few to start.
As for a recommendation, it is tough to place. I think young readers would get a real kick out of reading stories of a growing boy traveling down the Mississippi and getting himself into all kinds of trouble. The issue I have is how to handle the strong language and adult themes that should be discussed with a young reader. The use of the "N" word is used throughout the book, so naturally a young reader must be equipped to handle that. Slavery is another topic discussed a lot through the story. Huck has quite a struggle trying to decide how to handle the runaway Jim. As a friend, he values the presence of Jim in his life, but what he has been taught throughout his life is the structure of slavery and how Jim is considered property of Huck's guardian Miss Watson.
Adults looking for a good-natured, lovable character will really get a a kick out of Huck. I'd highly recommend this book. It is a quick read with shorter chapters. The biggest barrier is the dialect of the several characters in the book. I found myself having to back track and reread several paragraphs to make sure I understood the language being used.(less)
Disclaimer: My edition was an advanced reader. A few typos were fixed I'm sure. Never the less here we go....
With the success of Moneyball some years...moreDisclaimer: My edition was an advanced reader. A few typos were fixed I'm sure. Never the less here we go....
With the success of Moneyball some years ago, it wouldn't surprise me if this book made a little buzz around the sport section of your local bookstore. While the themes are similar, please do not think this is simply another examination of Sabermetrics adapted to another baseball franchise. This book covers more of the business sense put into developing the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.
I found this book very readable and enjoyable for the most part. The tone surprised me a little because of interjections made by the author to illustrate some points. For instance, the author makes reference to his employment with Bloomberg Sports after stating that Bloomberg had entered the arena of creating statistical databases for major league ball clubs (p. 194). I guess he was worried about showing bias, but to reference Bloomberg as a "giant" like the author did isn't really a stretch.
Anyways, the writer does a good job of laying out his research in lay terms. The references and statistics were not overwhelming and did not bog down the reading. I did find the book to lack in this area however, hoping to find more examples and stronger evidence to support the subject. At the end of the book, I felt a little unsatisfied and wished the author had gone into a little more depth.
The first half of the book laid the background for the Tampa Bay organization. Here I think the author did a great job. He illustrated the mistakes made by the Ray's front office and explained why change was necessary. The second half discussed the changes made after Stuart Sternberg became majority owner of the ball club. Without giving too much away, the new business minds that took changed the face of the Rays by completely changing the mindset of the organization towards player development, marketing, and winning.
I did enjoy this book despite its brevity and think it's worth a read. Again, I found the description of the methods used by the Rays a little sparse, but a reader should be able to get enough to understand what is going on. Some prior knowledge of baseball and/or business management will make the references easier to understand. I would recommend this to both casual readers and fans of the sport.
Vincent Naimoli might want to pass on this one though.(less)
I was walking around at work and I saw this title sitting on a pile of books that were being designated to a recycling bin in the sky. I couldn't hel....moreI was walking around at work and I saw this title sitting on a pile of books that were being designated to a recycling bin in the sky. I couldn't hel...moreI was walking around at work and I saw this title sitting on a pile of books that were being designated to a recycling bin in the sky. I couldn't help myself. I know that everyone was required to read this book growing up, but surprisingly I was not. I admittedly had no idea what the book was about, but I felt obligated to save this paperback from recycling obscurity.
I really, really enjoyed this story. To me it read like a childhood fantasy. An island with yourself and a bunch of other kids your age without adult supervision. I felt the adult themes of the book really played out well despite the youth of the characters. The ending was brutal and violent, which did catch me a little off guard, but it really made me think about the loss of innocence and how precious that can be.
Despite the ending, I still think this book would read well for high schoolers and advanced middle school readers. I do think younger audiences should have conversations about what is going on however, to make sure they are overwhelmed or disgusted by what is going on. I think adults can really get into this book too.
I read in the introduction of the book that the author had intended the story to be a reflection of the times. While this reflection is probably a little dated, I still think the story will give readers an opportunity to reflect on the larger aspects of the story.
I'd highly recommend this book to anyone, male or female, young or old, and I would not think twice. If you haven't read this one, or perhaps it has been a few years, I would say that you should pick this book up.(less)
Man was this title a roller coaster ride. Reading like a script from a Guy Ritchie crime caper, this book has endless amounts of twists and turns that...moreMan was this title a roller coaster ride. Reading like a script from a Guy Ritchie crime caper, this book has endless amounts of twists and turns that can you make you feel a little dizzy and confused. Of the dozen or so side characters involved in the crime filled city of Personville, none of them are safe. Given the appropriate nickname "Poisonville," the state of the city sucks in the main character into its seedy underbelly.
As far as crime novels go, this is an original. Each page has guns blazing, fast talking, and booze induced tirades that should satisfy anyone's hunger for mayhem and violence. The only drawback that held me back was the lack of fluidity to the story. Trying to keep up with all of the characters was exhausting. I think in order fully enjoy this book, it should be read like a movie, in a sitting or two, otherwise time lapses will destroy your sense of where the story is at and where it could be going.
Despite its flaws, I really liked this book as a quick read, ripe with excitement. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in crime and detective stories, especially if you are into shoot em ups. Think of Bullit or Dirty Harry and you've got the plot premises.(less)
About halfway through this book, I thought this story had endless potential and I was very excited to keep pressing on to find out what happens. Unfor...moreAbout halfway through this book, I thought this story had endless potential and I was very excited to keep pressing on to find out what happens. Unfortunately, expectations were not met because the book became too bogged down from so many plot twists that it ended up becoming a little burdensome to finish.
Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, especially dealing with World War II. While the war in Europe was finished by the opening of this book, the political tug of war was just beginning. Where I felt this story turned sour was the involvement of Lena and the effort of the main character Jake to try and rekindle their lost love. This part of the book bored me. It became such a distraction that I lost interest in finishing the book. It doesn't help that with this story comes a laundry list of characters to keep up with and by the time I had pushed through the love interest, I had lost track of the main story, so once again I became frustrated.
I would recommend this book if you have special interest in post-war Europe and if you like a good mystery. If you can push through the Jake/Lena relationship, I think you'll find a good plot with plenty of twists to keep a reader interested. The ending will also present a good question to think about as a reader reflects back on the story.(less)