As much as I liked the first two novels, I like the short stories even more, probably because of the different mysteries and all the varied locations...moreAs much as I liked the first two novels, I like the short stories even more, probably because of the different mysteries and all the varied locations and people.
As I do with any anthology I'll list my favorites here with a word or two.
A Scandal in Bohemia I think it's funny that in the very first short story Sherlock Holmes meets his female match.
The Red-headed League A truly bizarre mystery with one of the funniest reveals so far---it makes perfect sense, but you'd never have thought of it.
The Five Orange Pips The bad guys in this story show how international the stories can be, and how varied the subject matter.
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle A mystery with quite a funny slapstick explanation---worthy of a Seinfeld episode really.
The Adventure of the Speckled Band Always cited as one of the most eerie, and I agree.
The Adventure of the Copper Beeches Another bizarre setup with, of course, a logical explanation. Great fun.
All the stories in this collection are fun and deserve to be read at least once, but these are the ones I think are especially good.(less)
I've enjoyed every minute I've spent reading the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories in the order that they were originally published. Of the total 60...moreI've enjoyed every minute I've spent reading the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories in the order that they were originally published. Of the total 60 pieces, this is only #27 so I'm not even halfway through yet, but I'm not in the least bit tired of him at all. I'm actually taking my time now because I know I'll be sad when I finally do reach the end.
When I started this book I was grateful that even though the story is a classic I hadn't ever come across anything spoiling the mystery as is all too possible nowadays. When I reached the end I realized it was almost impossible to spoil it because doing so would require a more detailed explanation than a simple "the butler did it" would. And no, that's not a spoiler. Or is it?
I found "Hound" to be the perfect mystery. The setup, the thickening plot, and the explanation and wrap up are all perfectly done. Even questions I had about a couple of plot points were answered by Holmes at the end. This 100+ year old mystery delivered a satisfying story without leaving gaping plot holes, unbelievable plot points, or inconsistent characters, unlike some recently published mystery/thrillers I've read.
I certainly liked this Selznick book a bit more than I did Hugo Cabret, I think mainly due to its structure.
The pictures are top notch, just like in H...moreI certainly liked this Selznick book a bit more than I did Hugo Cabret, I think mainly due to its structure.
The pictures are top notch, just like in Hugo, but the two stories are told in two different ways, the 1927 Rose story told only in pictures and the 1977 Ben story told only in text, up until the two stories meet and mix in words and pictures. I remember feeling frustrated with Hugo because the text seemed to slow down the story, but here, with the alternating parallel stories, each plot's momentum keeps both going, with the mystery of how these similar lives will eventually meet supplying the dramatic tension.
And when they do meet, what an emotional wallop!
I really liked everything about this book. The insight into deaf culture is nice considering how little attention it gets otherwise, and the love of museums and learning the book exudes is awesome. The only bump in the road here is a lingering question of why Ben's mother never told Ben about any of what he eventually finds out. It's established that she likes him to find out things on his own, but these things... they're kinda major!
Also, it seems strange to me that I couldn't find anybody commenting on the obviously romantic attachment that Ben's friend Jamie develops for him. Sure, he (Jamie) finally finds a friend in Ben but it goes just a little beyond that, and that's fine with me because, really, how often can you read boy-meets-girl stories before it gets old? Maybe it's just me though... but I did remember thinking the same thing when I read the whole Dumbledore/Grindelwald thing---before the author said anything about it.
Nicely entertaining all around, beautifully done, and fixes the one flaw I felt marred the otherwise great Hugo.
UPDATE: The Horn Book review does make mention of the "unabashedly romantic friendship"---but I think they're the only one.(less)
I'm a fan of the comic series so diving into this story was a given. It is a fun and quick read, ties wonderfully into the overall series, and as with...moreI'm a fan of the comic series so diving into this story was a given. It is a fun and quick read, ties wonderfully into the overall series, and as with each story in the world of Fables, helps to illuminate or inform on characters and past events with an even more interesting layer of complexity. A must for fans. And in case anyone is wondering, this takes place (according to the authors) "two years before the Fables go to war to overthrow the Adversary and conclude[s:] a few months before that same war."
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I had originally expected. Not only is it an interesting slice of pre-war Southern California but its divorced mot...moreI enjoyed this book a lot more than I had originally expected. Not only is it an interesting slice of pre-war Southern California but its divorced mother/hard economy storyline resonates with the current lousy economy. The characters of Mildred and daughter Veda do a kind of slow but interesting burn throughout the book: you may not like them, in fact one you're certain to outright hate, but they certainly keep your interest, and watching them clash is a schadenfreude-filled treat. Many times I got tired of one character's ability to forgive the other but I realized this book is as much a "hard-boiled" story as it is a classic tragedy, the kind of Greek tragedy wherein families self-destruct because of one person's tragic flaw.
I read this in anticipation of the HBO miniseries, and of course to have a great excuse to watch the 1945 Joan Crawford classic. I really enjoyed reading this and will add a few more Cain books to my reading list.(less)
For the simplicity of its language, and the power of that language to timelessly evoke the horrors of war, 'All Quiet' is an extraordinary 'fictional'...moreFor the simplicity of its language, and the power of that language to timelessly evoke the horrors of war, 'All Quiet' is an extraordinary 'fictional' memoir of the First World War.
Though the geography and weapons may change from war to war, the sentiment captured here is always the same: war is an ugly, brutal thing that reduces humanity to flesh and blood, life to death, sanity to something worse than insanity.
Remarque deftly renders the mixed emotions and reactions of the soldiers who fight in the war, the leaders who are in charge of them, the family back home supporting them, the average citizen who unwittingly helps and hurts the returned soldier, and the damage (physical or otherwise) war brings to everyone and anyone. But it also evokes the impossible to describe bonds that form between soldiers, the dissonance of home and war, the schism of before and after, and the seemingly unendurable 'during' that ends only for the dead but will haunt everyone who survives to some degree.
The gruesome details are still gruesome; the passage of 80+ years hasn't really blunted that at all. I'm used to reading nonfiction memoirs of war, and though this is a fictional take on what can only have been informed by the author's actual experience, this is just as visceral and real as any of the nonfiction published between then and now.(less)
This is an incredible read, the cons outweighing the pros all the way to the end. This is a massive read, 1096 pages in the paperback version I read....moreThis is an incredible read, the cons outweighing the pros all the way to the end. This is a massive read, 1096 pages in the paperback version I read. It reads great more often than it reads not-so-great, but the scope of the book is worth the effort. This is childhood terror written to a fine degree, and while the wordiness may test your attention span or patience---as it did mine many many times---it's all worth it.
The childhood scenes are more interesting than the grown-up scenes, Pennywise the clown is terrifying at every instance, and it's the sheer power of storytelling on display here that really wins me over. Not everything here is gold, but with a book this long not everything can be gold. It's also really graphic and gory at points, but if you're reading King for the horror that won't surprise you.
I don't want to be effusive about the book, but I can usually say more about why I didn't like a book than why I did. The ending was a bit anti-climactic, but oh well. It was all worth the ride.(less)
This is nothing but pure techno-thriller at its best. It's a great balance of science/fiction, historical tidbits (WW2 Germany wasn't the only country...moreThis is nothing but pure techno-thriller at its best. It's a great balance of science/fiction, historical tidbits (WW2 Germany wasn't the only country to perform horrible medical experiments), scientific tidbits, briskly paced plot, reality-based action (it can be exciting without being over the top---I'm looking at you Gideon's Sword!), characters with depth that you actually root for (I'm looking at you again Gideon's Sword!), and a satisfying villain.
Though some plot points were easily guessed at, most twists and turns were an exciting surprise. My only But! of the book is about what happens near the end, but not necessarily about the ending. I question the logic of a certain character's actions and it seems the answer lies only in that if it didn't happen that way then the story wouldn't exist (and I hate those kinds of things, especially when everything else in the book is logical and consistent).
All in all a top notch thriller with brains, this first-time novel by an expert in the field (in this case nanotechnology, though it's even more about fungus) shows how it should (and can) be properly executed (unlike you, Robopocalypse!).(less)
It's been 6 months or so since I've read this trilogy so my recollection isn't as sharp as it should be, but I can remember the gist of each book and...moreIt's been 6 months or so since I've read this trilogy so my recollection isn't as sharp as it should be, but I can remember the gist of each book and my reactions to them. I have seen the movie already, and I really liked it, but that won't color my review at all, I promise.
What I remember most about this first book was how fun it was to read. You get sucked into Katniss Everdeen's life and the constraints of living in District 12. Her relationship with Gale rings true (they're friends and survivors together, not having quite reached that next step in their relationship).
Then the whole deal of the Hunger Games comes in. Now, while I was reading it I was taking in all the details of this future dystopia (how the country was divided into districts, how district 13 was a wasteland---which in this land of not being able to travel freely between districts makes it plain that the lost district would play a role in the future, etc.). I loved it because it the details were as deftly laid as the plot was swift. The book just moves along and I was swept up in it. It's an action adventure of the best sort.
Now comes in my critical thinking. I realized while I was reading about the gruesome deaths that were being doled out that the very thing the book is deploring is the very thing that makes the book enjoyable. We're rooting for Katniss (and Peeta) to survive, and while we may not say the bloodbath is enjoyable per se, it certainly makes the situation one in which we watch and enjoy despite ourselves, to enjoy and rejoice that Katniss and Peeta survive despite the odds. Sure, the book points out that while it's a game to the viewers it's anything but to the contestants. And that what is presented to the viewers is a manipulated version of reality. We're getting the details behind the reality, but since we're still enjoying it...
I don't know. It's an enjoyable read as far as action adventure goes, as is the next volume, but it lives in that gray area of criticizing the thing by using the very thing itself. So while it's a great fun read, it isn't the perfect analogy for anything in real life, really. I guess it is a perfect conversation starter though. Maybe.
I'm making this a three part overall review, so if you're interested in what else I think, head on over to my Catching Fire review!(less)
When I read this for the first time some years ago, I remember being disappointed by the ending: I wanted to know what happened next, I wanted more of...moreWhen I read this for the first time some years ago, I remember being disappointed by the ending: I wanted to know what happened next, I wanted more of an explanation to the mystery of the Hypotheticals, I just wanted more story, period.
Reading this again I find it's just as exciting and fun as the first time, mainly because I had forgotten a lot of details, big and little. But this time around I was okay with the ending---the Hypotheticals are explained, to a point, but the mystery at the end is acceptable to me, thought I don't know if that's because now I know there are two sequels out there that continue the story (I didn't know Axis and Vortex would ever exist the first time through).
I like Spin a lot because it has a perfect mix of good characters and epic story: these are everyday people reacting in their own way to extraordinary and hard to grasp events. Nothing ever feels false and, ultimately, the story is about people reacting to unthinkable events. The science fiction elements are intriguing for the ideas they evoke but it's not the goal of Spin to answer the question of what happens next. That's for Axis and Vortex to do.(less)
“Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing his car, that’s larceny.”
That sums up the tone of the whole book right there, a first person narr...more“Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing his car, that’s larceny.”
That sums up the tone of the whole book right there, a first person narrative of a bum stumbling through 1930’s Los Angeles. It’s a very quick read, with a minimum of description and dialogue that’s used with maximum efficiency to make the plot, and blood of the characters, boil over on every page (well, not really, but you get the idea).
This is a great read for anyone who loves the likes of Chandler and Hammett. If you’ve read them, but not Cain... what’s the matter with you!? (less)
The fourth in the Felix Castor series, this is by far the best and most consistent in the series, with no mistakes (editing gaffes?) like with the 2nd...moreThe fourth in the Felix Castor series, this is by far the best and most consistent in the series, with no mistakes (editing gaffes?) like with the 2nd and 3rd books. It is also the darkest in the series (so far), that starts with a bloody murder victim writing Castor's name on the windshield and ends with a riot in a housing complex.
Characters good and bad come back, like Castor's brother Father Matt, Father Gwillam, and (unfortunately) Basquiat, the overly determined cop with a heart of nonsense. True, this time around there's a little more evidence that points to Castor as the murderer, but the fact that he really couldn't have been at the crime scene, and that his fingerprints aren't on the murder weapon, doesn't stop her from believing he's just as guilty as the actual murderer. Her part isn't as big or annoying as last time though so it's easy enough to get through when the rest of the plot starts rolling.
More so than before we get a sense of the big series-wide storyline coming into focus. We learn a little bit more about how demons... function in this world, and (maybe) how they originate. Rafi/Asmodeus comes into play more than usual here, and a cliffhanger at the end apparently leads right into the next (fifth) book.
Fun but dark entry in the Felix Castor series.(less)
I've tried reading An Instance of the Fingerpost 3 times and have never gotten past the 2nd part, not because it's terrible but I guess I didn't have enough energy to carry through to end, which happens to me with long long books. When this came across my desk I figured, Why Not? I was determined to read this all the way through and am happy I did because Stone's Fall is worth the narrative ride.
The story unfolds backwards in time, spanning the years 1910 to 1867, and is broken up into 3 first-person narrations of different events, all ultimately related but mysteriously so until the very last few pages. I'm a sucker for a long puzzling story only if everything is wrapped up nicely, not to say it has to be a happy ending but one that doesn't leave major questions unanswered and/or gaping plot holes. No real questions remain in the end: we find out exactly why Stone fell out the window and died. The only question I had left was an astonished What the frak? Really?
It takes a certain kind of reader to pick up a door-stopper of a book and read it all the way through, and some may not like the financial intrigue that sets up the story, but for me the characters are what helped carry the momentum to a heck of a finish.