Definitely worse than the first book in the series. Too many characters in this novel acted at a level of intelligence far below the first book (notabDefinitely worse than the first book in the series. Too many characters in this novel acted at a level of intelligence far below the first book (notably Miel, Valens, and even Ziani). The plot was also a bit of a mess, with lots of tangents and people disappearing at random and reappearing with no one having really cared. That said, it was still solid and worth reading. Parts of the beginning and middle of the book were legitimately hilarious, and I know I will read the third. So in that sense, as the second book of a series, it was a success....more
For the most part, I loved this book. It was clear, it taught me a lot in not very much time, and the presentation was very successful. But there wereFor the most part, I loved this book. It was clear, it taught me a lot in not very much time, and the presentation was very successful. But there were a few things that held it back from being a 5 star book I'd recommend without hesitation:
1. There are some errors in the book. They may seem like minor errors, but there are times when the text and the cards shown don't exactly match up, and for a topic as precise as bridge bidding, this was occasionally really important. This book simply needed better editing. 2. The formatting was often great, but the text at the top of the pages was a bit confusing. At times when there were many examples, you were encouraged to read a bit of the continuous text, then jump to the example, then back to the top, etc. I would have preferred if the top text had the overview and the logic behind it, and the examples below had more text and were more self-contained. 3. At first the formatting felt fluid and logical, but as the book progressed it became too rigid. For instance, by the time they get to the "exercises," I believe it would have made sense to have them be a bit more detailed, 1 exercise per page. That way one side of the page could explain the exercise and show the relevant hand or hands, and the other side of the page could give a detailed explanation of the solution. Instead, the author tried to structure this section of the book in the same way as the first 80%, and it made the exercises hard to do or care about (even though I liked the idea of having them!)
However, the content was generally so well presented and the book was so clear that I think it is worth reading in spite of these flaws. I certainly hope Crisfeld writes more books that don't have the issues above - I would read all of them....more
This was an okay intro, though it turned out to be too basic for me, and I ended up skipping sections I knew. Eddie Kantar is apparently very well thoThis was an okay intro, though it turned out to be too basic for me, and I ended up skipping sections I knew. Eddie Kantar is apparently very well thought of, but I found his writing a bit eclectic. He'd occasionally be making some not-so-dry jokes in the midst of set of tips, and it was more jarring to read this as a result. I wouldn't really recommend this guide, but it begins my exploration into bridge books because they had it at the library! ...more
I'm torn between a 4 and a 5 on this book, but ultimately I've decided to give it a 5 for a few reasons.
First off, K J Parker's writing style is uniquI'm torn between a 4 and a 5 on this book, but ultimately I've decided to give it a 5 for a few reasons.
First off, K J Parker's writing style is unique in a good way. Parker blends sardonic and cynical beautifully, and her chosen style, first person with multiple perspectives, carries it off perfectly (while also being my favorite as a reader). Secondly, her characters are excellent in that they are believable. No one is truly good or evil, and all the characters are generally fleshed out enough that their motives are interesting and understandable, yet their future actions are not always predictable. Meil Ducas (a.k.a. "the Ducas") was my favorite. However, more important than both of these facets, Devices and Desires is an excellent "tale," and for me that is important. It's page turning without being action driven. You learn the characters and their lives, and you genuinely begin to care about what happens next as you read the book. I feel this way about very few novels, and I think this is what separates the best from the good.
I would consider giving this 4 stars for one major reason - the lack of a map. Apparently Parker doesn't see fit to include a map in any books, which I am sure will frustrate me greatly in the future as I plan on reading many more of them. I felt like this really did detract significantly from the book, as there were many times when geography played a huge role both in the setting and the events of the novel, and I was simply left taking the authors word for things without being able to visually understand the situation.
Overall, worth reading, and I'll be recommending it to fans of good literature....more
I thought this was good. It's not much like what I normally read, in that it's very aggressively "literary" and has lots of "deep" and "meaningful" unI thought this was good. It's not much like what I normally read, in that it's very aggressively "literary" and has lots of "deep" and "meaningful" undertones, but I still found the book to be engaging and well written. The different perspectives on the newspaper combine nicely, and the book has a good pacing that makes it enjoyable to read even when certain sections are really quite depressing.
The book really does lay bare some of the sadder aspects of the human condition, so if you are not a fan of books that lead you to some self reflection, stay away....more