A horrifying account of one Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and forced into slavery. For historical purposes, this should be mandatory reading....moreA horrifying account of one Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and forced into slavery. For historical purposes, this should be mandatory reading.
In 1841, Solomon is tricked with the premise to earn money playing his violin and travels to Washington, D.C.. From there, he is drugged and robbed of his papers [proclaiming his status as a free man], then beaten into submission to be sold into slavery, taking the name of Platt. As the years pass, he loses hope in ever seeing his family and freedom again, not daring to risk placing trust in any man with his true story and desire to escape.
The level of detail in this book is incredible. From the point of capture to his reunion with his family, Solomon describes everything he can: physical locations, naming names of all that he met, work conditions, emotional turmoil, and so on. There is surely no more that one can express in words, as one that has been in Solomon's shoes. He writes with such a genuine voice to try to give justice to the slaves he's met, no matter how brief an encounter, whether in passing en route to another location or people he toiled with for years on end. The urgency is evident in his writing. In the time of it, he's telling not just his story but speaking for all those that will likely never have the chance to. He longs for the reader to understand how horrific the situation is and that even a so-called "free man" in these "free states" does not deem him safe from the clutches of slavery.
This is an immense effort on Solomon's part to be as accurate as possible to render this a proven account. As mentioned in the notes, the details in this record could have been and were verified to be true to bring more credence to his story. The way he writes shows a skill in storytelling, as threads are woven together, backwards and forwards at times, but it's all very organized. This is not to say that it's merely any historical account. Nothing feels clinical. There's so much despair in this that is hard to ignore, not just for Solomon even though he can be considered to be the most fortunate in his tale, as the reader can imagine the countless number of slaves who will never have the chance to escape.
I never would've known about this book if it wasn't for Steve McQueen's film adaptation of it. A devastating must-read.(less)
For a book that has been around for so long and written by a man that has had such an impact in South Africa a...moreA classic autobiography, and rightly so.
For a book that has been around for so long and written by a man that has had such an impact in South Africa and around the world, it is quite difficult to have anything new to say about this book! Nelson Mandela writes with loving detail about the very beginnings of his life, from his birth in the village of Mvezo to his childhood in Qunu, his education and subsequent start of a career in Johannesburg, to him gradually getting involved politically and joining the ANC, then his rising influence and imprisonment along with other prominent ANC members as political prisoners, and finally, his release and election win to be the leader of his country.
I think I was slightly intimidated by the prospect and size of this book because of the stature of the man who had written it, when in fact I was being silly. This book is so wonderfully accessible. Of course, with the life he's led, there are a lot of names and dates to keep track of - I don't read enough biographies and these details can be a bit much at times - but Mandela writes with such a great deal of warmth and spirit and even humour that I can't imagine not enjoying and getting the most out of this book. That's the surprising part, for me anyway, where I found him being so approachable in the way he talked about his life and his immense struggle in all those years of fighting for the rights of his people. It's like an ongoing conversation as you continue to read and I was struck by his ability to keep his hand out for that handshake and not strike in anger instead. The humour can appear out of nowhere and it genuinely made me laugh despite the harrowing conditions. To be able to find little pieces of joy everywhere he went, no matter how difficult, spoke so much of his character.
I'm touched by so much of what he's done, but also saddened with how much of his [family] time he gave up to serve his people - yes, he was a driven leader but I'd feel the wistfulness the most whenever he described his family during his time in prison. It is so much to ask of any one person to do, no matter how dire the need, and the underlying conflict between family and country wasn't always touched upon but never forgotten. Those long hard years he spent locked away are ones he never got back. Physically and emotionally, he dedicated himself to the cause and proved his conviction with his brilliant words and actions.
Above all, his words are inspiring. As someone who was barely old enough to remember much of anything about Mandela's release, his speeches are still powerful and relevant today. Unless remarkable changes and progress are made, these same words as the years pass are still needed to strive for equality. As mandatory an autobiography as you will ever read. 5/5.(less)
**spoiler alert** I knew there has been disappointment surrounding this book, so I was a bit weary in starting it after the rollercoaster that was Sto...more**spoiler alert** I knew there has been disappointment surrounding this book, so I was a bit weary in starting it after the rollercoaster that was Storm of Swords, but I enjoyed Feast for Crows just as much as the previous three books!
Yes, there's no denying that the pace has slowed down after the fierce battles of the past, but there is still plenty that is going on. This book has been criticized for not providing us with our favourite POVs, which is also true, but I felt like there was a good balance of new characters and old. Maybe this is coming from a biased Arya fan [since we still got some of her POV], but I enjoyed learning about the journeys of Sansa/Alayne, Jaime, Brienne, and Cersei, who remains our glimpse into King's Landing and the court.
The story continues to expand and GRRM allows us to look deeper into places we have heard of in passing but have never visited. The Iron Islands and the spirit of their men was fascinating to read about, and knowing what Asha was up to was a treat. It's about time we learned more about Dorne, seeing as how they used to be at the Lannisters' place back when the Mad King reigned. I'm very much intrigued by what Doran is planning - some plans may have failed but he seems a patient and a worthy opponent. We get more strong female characters in the likes of Arianne and the Sand Snakes. Even Myrcella herself is proving to be quite the darling, adjusting well in the far south. Oldtown and the Hightower is definitely new, but the setting provides apt symmetry for the book.
Familiar characters such as Brienne and Jaime have both grown and changed, each on journeys of their own. That goes for Sam too. Cersei seems to hold the power at court at last, with Tywin dead, but a prophecy gnaws away at her sanity. Sansa is at the Eyrie and is trying to convince the world [and herself] that she is Alayne Stone, bastard daughter to Petyr Baelish. Along with Arya, the girls wiping away their identities pains me the most. The younger Stark daughter finds her way to Braavos, ever farther from home.
GRRM leaves us with a lot of questions to keep us reading: What is Jaqen is up to? Victarion, Quentyn, and Marwyn are all looking for Dany, will any of them find her? Will Doran avenge Oberyn and Elia? What will become of Arya? Is Brienne going to die? Who will represent Cersei and Margaery in their trial battles? Does any of Robert's bastard children (Edric, Mya, and Gendry) play a pivotal role in the rest of the story, since they've still alive?
Feast for Crows can be defined as half of a book, intertwined with Dance with Dragons, but it kept me satiated. The lack of action can be understandable - through Brienne and Jaime's eyes we can see the destruction the war have raged upon the common folk, who are too busy burying and mourning their dead to do much else. Winter is truly coming, and I'm impatient to continue reading to see how these characters make it out alive, if any do at all.
PS: House Stark has my heart. I'm defiant enough to believe at least two of the children will be around by the end.(less)
**spoiler alert** It can't possibly get any better than this.
The story leaves off after the epic battle of Blackwater Rush, and we're left wondering...more**spoiler alert** It can't possibly get any better than this.
The story leaves off after the epic battle of Blackwater Rush, and we're left wondering how Tyrion will be affected from his injury to the presence of his father, Tywin, in King's Landing. Surely, that can't be a plus to his carefully weaved plans. Winterfell is in ruins, with Bran and Rickon presumed dead but really on the run, and we're thinking Robb must go back to reclaim the North at some point. Arya's formed a trio and will attempt to journey back home, hoping for the best. Across the Narrow Sea, Dany's in dire need of an army for her campaign to reclaim Westeros. Up in the north and beyond the Wall, the wildlings are prepared to march south and mount a formidable attack. Jon's now with them and might have the 'turncoat' label stuck on him if he can't save his Black brothers.
I don't think I've fully absorbed everything I've read in this book to give it a proper review, to be honest. Not even halfway through it and I was already itching for a re-read to see the hints and threads that were left dangling in the previous two books to be tied up here. There are more characters to juggle, the map continues to expand...it's a treat.
There wasn't a moment that I felt bored, and I only wish I could've devoured this in one sitting.
I've heard about this book being the favourite in terms of development and excitement, and it's not hard to see why. There's plenty to keep the fans guessing, and the book was hardly ruined even if I had accidentally spoiled myself with certain twists (some of the Red Wedding, the Mountain vs the Red Viper). There are just that many! Beric Dondarrion being that knight that Jeyne [Poole] crushed on really surprised me. Truth be told, I had completely forgotten where I had heard his name, only knew that everyone was looking for him. Barristan Selmy popping up might've been my favourite if it wasn't for Zombie!Cat. UM, YES! It might've been entertaining to watch me read this one because I gasped and swore out loud many times.
Some mourning for the dead in this one too. I especially enjoyed all the little moments that the Starks (including Jon, by the way) had for Winterfell and their loved ones, scattered throughout the book. Beautiful. All I want is to have ONE of them make it. And have a happy ending, or is that too much to ask? Probably, since I also want the Freys to get what's coming to them, and that isn't Walder dying of old age.
My pace for reading Game of Thrones was hindered by watching the show and knowing what was going to happ...moreCouldn't have asked for much more in a sequel!
My pace for reading Game of Thrones was hindered by watching the show and knowing what was going to happen next, but Clash of Kings was where George R.R. Martin's storytelling shone. I couldn't read fast enough! The story continues to expand as the two remaining Baratheon brothers attempt to claim the Iron Throne. Stannis plots from Dragonstone while Renly gains his numbers from Highgarden, aligning with the Tyrells. Robb, as King of the North, and Joffrey, are part of the fray as well.
Tyrion goes back to King's Landing in place of his father as the Hand, possibly turning the court in his favour. Arya journeys with Yoren up north to the Wall, with a whole cast of sketchy characters. Dany's got her three dragons but no khalasar to speak of, and no means to go back to Westeros to fight yet. Jon's got a quest to search for danger beyond the Wall with Old Bear [Mormont] and his brothers in black.
The changing POV chapters always keep me hooked. Sometimes I have an urge to skip the pages to continue the story for a character, but then the fear of spoilers set me right back to reading it in order. MY EMOTIONS! The characters continue to span the map, and it's always a necessity to flip back and forth to the map to see where everyone is. I still forget where some places are, to be honest. The information is overwhelming, but in a good way because the world is just that rich.
I grew up with these comics and got the entire set this year for my birthday, and it is glorious. Perfection. I can't even write a...moreFlawless collection.
I grew up with these comics and got the entire set this year for my birthday, and it is glorious. Perfection. I can't even write a complete review for this because there's nothing to poke at. EVERYTHING IS PRAISE. Bill Watterson has defined creativity and heart for me, some of my absolute favourite strips consist of just Calvin and Hobbes, being content with their imagination. This collection is the gift for every fan - it weighs a ton and the comics are rendered beautifully.
Oh, and I grew up with plenty of snow and I still can't make as fantastic snowmen as Calvin. It's one of my biggest regrets in life. (less)
House Stark, rules Winterfell with Ned at the helm, his wife Catelyn, and their five children, not includi...moreWhat a world George R.R. Martin has created.
House Stark, rules Winterfell with Ned at the helm, his wife Catelyn, and their five children, not including Jon Snow, his surname so called for his lower status as a bastard. Having successfully won the throne for his best friend, Robert Baratheon (now the King), Ned has been living calmly up north for years. This is interrupted as Robert pays him a visit to request his aid to be his Hand, his second in command. Ned would much rather refuse, but with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the previous Hand, there is reason to protect his King...
and so sets forth the plot for this book, with Ned reluctantly playing the Game of Thrones again, amidst political intrigue, whispers, and deceit of friends and foes. The Queen and her family, the Lannisters, are powers to watch for, as are the other houses, not knowing whether their loyalties truly lie with the realm, or with the past Targaryen dynasty, whose founders ruled with dragons, but have long been extinct. The last two of the family (the 'Beggar King' and the princess) still live, having escaped the bloodbath from years previous, and are determined to regain their place on the Iron Throne. On top of all this, nature seems to beckon a long winter ever closer, and no one is sure of what lies up north beyond The Wall, but there are rumours and men are disappearing.
There's a little bit of everything that makes a story interesting in this book (and the series, I imagine): honour, familial ties, brotherhoods, romances, betrayals, alliances, battles, past regrets, and plenty of political maneuvering to keep the reader guessing. You can't ever be sure who will come up on top, if not to just fall from a higher place, with more to lose.
I'll have to admit, my interest to start this series was piqued by the HBO adaptation, which I followed religiously every week. And what a faithful transfer from page to the small screen it was! Even though I knew what was coming when I read this, I couldn't help but compare the two mediums and marvel at how deftly the show manages to capture the spirit of it all. And as a reader who rarely ventures into fantasy fiction, it was much easier to jump in with the visuals I've got from the show.
The sheer amount of detail, from the characters and their political allegiances, to the geography of this new land, can be a deterrent to starting the series, but it's a worthy leap to make. I can't wait to read the rest of the books, and hopefully won't have to wait too long 'til the series is completed. 15 years so far sounds daunting!(less)
The idea of living there...with Charles and Camilla and Henry and Francis and maybe even Bunny; of no one marrying or going home or getting a job in a...moreThe idea of living there...with Charles and Camilla and Henry and Francis and maybe even Bunny; of no one marrying or going home or getting a job in a town a thousand miles away or doing any of the traitorous things friends do after college; of everything remaining exactly as it was, that instant - the idea was so truly heavenly that I'm not sure I thought, even then, it could ever really happen, but I like to believe I did.
Yes. YES. YESSSSS. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.
When books such as this give you such a high...this is why I read. My head is still spinning from this because I just had to read the rest of it over the weekend. It would not wait. I couldn't just calmly read this on the commute for the next week like any other novel, no sirree. I went to bed uneasy not having finished it (along with the story in general), and then woke up really excited because I had the entire day to finish the rest of it. This novel somehow buries deep inside your mind and won't budge. Even now, having finished it, I'm having a hard time letting it go.
There's not much of a point in describing the plot since Donna Tartt does it all better than I can ever do in a summary anyway. These group of students are not merely created through words but carved with stone - there's depth, hardness, cracks and secrets within. I don't blame Richard for being dangerously enthralled by them because frankly, I was and I knew they were fictional. A sentence here or there can hint at the layers of stories brimming beneath the surface, not just for these characters as a group but individual relationships. I'm amazed. The way that Richard is included in the group but is still so clearly an outsider adds this permanent sheen of allure to them all - there are some things you may never find out about these people and you just want to know more. You need to know more.
The atmosphere and tonal shifts in this were unbelievable. I was able to forget entirely what I was reading in the previous paragraph because the mood would change. Not a different setting entirely or a situation - just how Richard was feeling at the time could tilt everything on its head. His narration was so deliciously haphazard in the best way. I could only urge my eyes to read faster whenever gears began to whirl in his mind and things took a twist or a darker turn. It's so thrilling.
The prose is lush, evocative, divine, smooth, and perfect. I'm simply in awe. There could've been a whole another novel's worth about these characters and I would've read it. Devoured it whole. Prequel, dialogues, Julian's lessons, parties, dinners...I don't care. I'd read it all because there's no doubt they'd be compelling. I have complete confidence in Donna Tartt's mastery in the language, the storytelling, etc. Everything.
I honestly have absolutely nothing to criticize, dear god. This isn't so much a review as me gushing about a classic which many people have already read, ha. I'd praise it more but I lack the writing ability to do it - I'm out of words.(less)