I liked Phantom Tollbooth a lot, it directly targets the linguaphilia centers of my brain. This book is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, in that itI liked Phantom Tollbooth a lot, it directly targets the linguaphilia centers of my brain. This book is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, in that it has heavy use of idioms taken literally. It has a more lighthearted approach though, and doesn't worry too much about the story.
...which is fairly generic and forgettable if you strip away the wordplay, but focusing on the story is missing the point of the book. Every character or location in the book is somehow linked to wordplay or an idiom of some sort, and the story only exists to allow Milo to travel among them. It gets the job done, but is basically whimsical nonsense, which isn't really a bad thing.
Juster's writing style lends itself to this as well. His tone is very casual and matter of fact, even though most of what he is writing about is completely nonsensical. This makes The Phantom Tollbooth a very entertaining book to read.
My only real complaint is that sometimes the meandering style and whimsical events can make what is happening in the book somewhat unclear, beyond the intentional idiomatic trickery. I would, however recommend this book to basically everyone....more
This series flags at the end, unfortunately, but it is still worth reading if you have finished the first two.
Hobb abandons the hand-wavery that is soThis series flags at the end, unfortunately, but it is still worth reading if you have finished the first two.
Hobb abandons the hand-wavery that is so prevalent in the first two books but doesn't keep up as much of the intricate and detailed character development that drove the story. Even in situations where characters could come into their own, they just don't for whatever reason. If the entire series had been written like this third one, I would not have continued past the first.
There are multiple instances where Hobb has the opportunity to develop a character further, but they inevitably come to nothing, so they end up being pointless in the context of the story. Fitz decides to take control of his life, then fails utterly (by taking actions that don't seem to be in line with his training or personality) and goes back to being everyone's errand boy. The minstrel is introduced, but she serves no real purpose and adds nothing to the story. Kettle's background is one of the most interesting things in the book, but Hobb just uses it as a throwaway plot point to advance the story, detracting from its importance. The Fool almost becomes more developed, but then doesn't at all.
The side events that threaten to bring back Hobb's character development are actually more interesting than the ending the book is driving towards, mostly because that ending is so predictable. Hobb, unfortunately, doesn't chase any of them up, so they have no impact on the story and just seem like filler.
This series had a lot of potential but just doesn't quite deliver in the end....more
I had trouble getting through this book. It is not as focused and well executed as Pratchett's books normally are and sort of meanders its way throughI had trouble getting through this book. It is not as focused and well executed as Pratchett's books normally are and sort of meanders its way through the story. Nothing especially compelling is going on throughout and it almost reads like all of the events in the story are unrelated to the narrative.
There are basically three different plots going on in this book which are somewhat connected, but the connections aren't really clear and don't actually seem to be important. The Unseen University has to play in a football game, Nutt is finding out who/what he is, and Trevor Likely and Juliet are falling in love. These threads are all tied together very tenuously -- Nutt and Trevor are friends and work at the UU. None of the resolutions of any of these plots affects the others in any significant way, so it is sort of like reading three unrelated stories at once.
If Pratchett focused more specifically on either the Unseen University or Nutt's problems it would have been more enjoyable. As it is, each of these compose a large percentage of the book, but neither seems important.
The writing itself is fairly entertaining, as is the story, but I would still only recommend this to hardcore Pratchett fans. ...more
This book is on par with the first in the series. It is as well written, but suffers from the same shortcomings that prevent it from being really greaThis book is on par with the first in the series. It is as well written, but suffers from the same shortcomings that prevent it from being really great.
There is more exploration of the two different types of magic, which are both interesting and at least one is fairly unique to the fantasy setting. I look forward to getting more information about this particular aspect of Hobb's universe in the final book.
Royal Assassin is pretty rough to read. Not because it is poorly written, but because things continually spiral into worse and worse situations for Fitz, the main character. By the end, Hobb manages to really capture the feeling of everything about to be totally fucked for the main characters (though, see below), then she pushes them over the edge, Empire Strikes Back style. Actually, the arc of this series seems very Star Wars-esque so far.
As I said, it does suffer the same shortcomings as the first. Some of the events that take place are pretty obviously terrible with no adequate reasons given for why no one is taking action. Many of the characters that could accomplish something to prevent all the messed up shit that is happening don't, simply because they choose to be willfully ignorant of it or refuse to do anything because they are depending on someone who obviously isn't going to come through for them. This literary technique annoys me and prevented me from liking the book as much as I would have, despite Hobb's fantastic writing ability and characterizations. ...more
Rothfuss is an incredible writer and this book is expertly done. The characters are well developed and interesting, the story is engrossing,Amazing.
Rothfuss is an incredible writer and this book is expertly done. The characters are well developed and interesting, the story is engrossing, and the writing is fantastic.
The book begins in third person, but quickly shifts to first person, as the main character (Kvothe) begins telling the story of his life. Rothfuss completely changes the tone from both of these points of view and switches back and forth a couple of times throughout the book, though he mostly sticks to the first person narrative. There is even a point where Kvothe is told a story by another character which switches into another point of view and another completely different tone and writing style.
The story itself has some similarity to Harry Potter with all the young adult removed. In essence, a kid learning magic at a magical school. Kvothe's story, however is very well defined and explored and much more hard core than the bespectacled boy wizard's. The magic they use in this universe is interesting, if not completely original. Though there are a couple of unique takes that Rothfuss has that keep it fresh.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series.
Oh god. This book is about 500 pages too long, and Meyer knew it when she was writing it. She essentially had two events that had to happen, Bella givOh god. This book is about 500 pages too long, and Meyer knew it when she was writing it. She essentially had two events that had to happen, Bella giving birth and turning into a vampire and the overarching antagonists of the story attacking.
Between these two events are 500 pages of irrelevancy. Literally nothing that matters at all happens in the middle of this book. Bella does some things that end up being entirely irrelevant, there is an unnecessary amount of detail about 'werewolves' running patrols, and the super accelerated growth cycle of Bella's kid, but all of this either serves absolutely no purpose in the story, or is an entirely contrived plot device that is thrown in so that Meyer can attempt to explain parts of her mythos that don't make sense.
When the climax of the story actually happens, Meyer shies away from actually having anything of consequence take place and ends it with a stalemate and rolls the credits.
Additionally, the "twist" she sets up at the beginning is so obvious from the moment it is hinted at that I really don't understand how Meyer expected the reader to accept that her super-human, infallible vampires didn't think of it immediately, because I certainly did.
I am simply amazed that she felt the need to write her longest book, but didn't have any content to put into it. ...more
This is the best Twilight book, however, it is still not any good.
This book really stresses the love triangle that is so central to the series, but itThis is the best Twilight book, however, it is still not any good.
This book really stresses the love triangle that is so central to the series, but it obviously makes no sense. This is an example of her poor writing ability. Meyer sort of assumes that the reader will think Jacob has a chance of ending up with Bella, even though nothing that happens in the story implies this. This basically makes all of the relationship drama in this book even more boring, because it is obvious to the reader that it is pointless and can only have the most obvious resolution, Edward ending up with Bella, because he is a vampire.
Bella is especially subservient in this book. She does all kinds of things that fall into the stereotypical abused girlfriend category. What a great role model!
The only redeeming quality of this book is that it contains an explanation for why the 'werewolves' exist. Which, though sort of generic and recycled, has some unique elements that make it interesting. ...more
The second Twilight book is only marginally better than the first, but still isn't really any good.
The book starts with a super obvious plot device ofThe second Twilight book is only marginally better than the first, but still isn't really any good.
The book starts with a super obvious plot device of Edward leaving, the purpose of which is to allow Bella to add Jacob to the love triangle. This is sort of the point where Edward becomes obviously emotionally abusive and controlling, fun times.
It is worth mentioning that Jacob is the only main character in the entire series that Meyer actually bothers to develop. He actually has motivations and a personality other than being in love with someone (Edward and Bella) or being a vampire (every vampire).
The various vampire abilities are explored more thoroughly, but Meyer doesn't really see this as an important or interesting part of the story, in comparison to the over-done relationship drama, so she doesn't spend very much time on the only slightly interesting thing about her series. Good game.
The entire book is spent developing the relationship between Bella and Jacob, and then the climax is thrown in at the end, basically out of nowhere, much like the first book.
I read this book because it was free and my friend Kevin told me this series was actually pretty good. He was wrong.
Stephenie Meyer is not a very goodI read this book because it was free and my friend Kevin told me this series was actually pretty good. He was wrong.
Stephenie Meyer is not a very good writer. She gets only marginally better as the series goes on and in this book especially it is obvious that she is new to the craft. Things like mismatched tenses and confusing sentence structure abound.
This book sort of suffers for being about two different things. Meyer puts in a lot of regular high school drama with the mystery of what is going on with the vampires happening in the background. It is sort of ironic that the regular high school kids are the only ones who are given any characterization or motivations, even though they are unimportant to the greater narrative and hardly even exist after the first book. Meyer sort of uses the fact that her characters are vampires or 'werewolves' as an excuse to not have to develop them at all.
This book doesn't really have much of interest in it, though, to be honest. It is just sort of boring. High school drama takes up the majority of the story and I really couldn't be less interested. Some of the vampire stuff sort of hints at the interesting ideas Meyer puts into the story later, but nothing really materializes.
The relationship between Edward and Bella in this book is sort of awkward, but not quite as emotionally abusive as it is in the later books. It is readily apparent that the author has no concept of what a mature relationship consists of, though. Additionally, both Edward and Bella act like dumb high school bitches. This continues throughout the rest of the books.
The end of this book is sort of tacked on, seemingly because Meyer didn't have a real climax that actually fit the story. A bad guy is introduced in the last 150 pages and taken care of in order to wrap up the story. Kind of pointless....more
This is a cool book. It is sort of reminiscent of Harry Potter, in that it is about a kid learning how to use magical powers, but that is where the siThis is a cool book. It is sort of reminiscent of Harry Potter, in that it is about a kid learning how to use magical powers, but that is where the similarity ends. I found Stroud to be a better writer and his world and story to be more fully developed than those supplied by JK.
Stroud tells the story from two points of view, and changes the perspective of the writing as the focus changes. When the story is following Bartimaeus, it is told in first person, with Bartimaeus (a demon) telling you what is going on as he sees things, while the parts following Nathaniel (a boy) are in third person. The Bartimaeus sections feature heavy use of footnotes (Stroud even gives an in universe explanation for these footnotes) which makes them flow differently from the rest of the book, in addition to being from a different perspective.
The perspective changes feed into Stroud's world building as well, giving you information about how Demon's see things when Bartimaeus is telling the story and giving you more general information about how human society works in this particular world when the story is following Nathaniel. This is an interesting, simple technique that is very entertaining and effective; I am surprised I haven't seen it before.
Beyond the technical details of the writing, this book is very entertaining to read. It is humorous and lighthearted, while still tackling more serious issues like revenge as well as giving insight into the workings of a fully realized fantasy world that is similar to our own. I liked this book quite a lot, and will most likely pick up the rest in the series....more
This is a pretty cool story about the young bastard of a prince training to become an assassin for his kingdom. Predictably there is a lot of terribleThis is a pretty cool story about the young bastard of a prince training to become an assassin for his kingdom. Predictably there is a lot of terrible shit going on in the kingdom, and Fitz (the bastard) is the one who can solve all the problems. The story is interesting enough, though where Hobb really shines is in her writing ability and character development.
One thing that stands out in this series is the magic. Magic is split into two different types -- the Wit is essentially beast magic, while the Skill is psionics. The main character, of course, has both, but insights into how they work are well presented and interesting.
I haven't read many books that are written from the first person perspective, but Hobb does a good job with it. The characterization is well done and you get a lot of insight into her character's motivations and the way they think through her descriptions of them and how Fitz observes them.
My only real complaint with this book (and it extends to the second one) is that quite a few of the plot points are not handled very well. Things happen that are obviously terrible and aren't presented as something the characters can ignore, but then Hobb waves her hands, throws in a "days pass in the castle with Fitz not knowing what to do as things get worse and worse" sort of kicker and move on. It is sort of like what JK Rowling does in Harry Potter, where a lot is going on, but the main character is either helpless, deprived of information, or inactive without any reasons given why. Hobb does a better job with it, but it just seems like bad writing while reading it and it stands out all the more because the rest is so well done. Four stars if not for this....more
This is a fairly interesting collection of poems Tolkien wrote. The purpose of them is to give a rough estimation of what certain poems (that have nowThis is a fairly interesting collection of poems Tolkien wrote. The purpose of them is to give a rough estimation of what certain poems (that have now been all or mostly lost) would contain based on what we know of the eddic prose and verse that is still available to us.
It reads like many mythological entries of this sort, and it is cool that Tolkien was able to emulate this style so precisely. If nothing else this book is very interesting for the in depth look at the source for these lesser known Norse legends.
The poems themselves cover the lives of Sigmund, Sigurd, and Gudrun in a series of different stories. There is some gods trickery involving Loki and Odin, Sigurd acquiring his horse Grani, his sword Gram, and slaying the dragon Fafnir, Sigurd meeting Brynhildr the Valkyrie and Gudrun and running into tragedy because of them, and Gudrun's life after Sigurd is killed.
The book also features commentary by Christopher Tolkien, which is interesting, though he is a bit wordy and goes into slightly too much depth. It is cool to see where Tolkien derived his information from and why he made certain choices about how to portray the legends as he rewrote them. This book may be better on a second reading, as I would just read the poems and ignore all of the commentary. As is, the massive exposition began to wear on me by the end.
If you are interested in Norse mythology or Tolkien's writing and influences, then this book is worth checking out....more
Not quite as good as the third in the series, but still an amazing book. The layout of this book and the next one are weird, because this follows halfNot quite as good as the third in the series, but still an amazing book. The layout of this book and the next one are weird, because this follows half of the characters, while the next one will follow the other half over the same time period.
This book has Cersei's point of view for the first time and, unlike her brother, she doesn't come out sympathetic. I sort of didn't like that her decisions are not even a little bit cunning or intelligent. She is basically a fountain of ineptitude. This sort of tarnishes the picture Martin painted of her as competing in the game of thrones with Tyrion in previous books, but this is a minor complaint.
Besides that minor issue, Martin continues with his fantastic character and story development, introduces some new players in the game (Dorne and the Iron Islands) and continues making Arya awesome.
If you haven't read this series, you should. ...more
This book is, unbelievably, better than the first, and an awesome continuation of the series. Martin adds in a couple of new points of view, and killsThis book is, unbelievably, better than the first, and an awesome continuation of the series. Martin adds in a couple of new points of view, and kills off a couple of characters. That isn't a spoiler in this series.
The best addition is Jaime Lannister's point of view. He is fairly sideline in the first two books, but becomes more important starting in this one. It is incredible how Martin is able to take a character he has convinced the reader is a complete bastard and then make him sympathetic.
I can't recommend this book or this series enough....more
This book was almost as good as the first one, though slightly different in execution. It slows down a bit in the middle, but is still very interestinThis book was almost as good as the first one, though slightly different in execution. It slows down a bit in the middle, but is still very interesting and picks back up and is awesome towards the end, with a couple of the different plot lines becoming very intriguing.
There is more setup and dealing with politics in this book, but it may have just been more noticeable because of Martin's Tolkien-esque approach to battles -- describing them mostly after they happen or with someone who wasn't actually participating. The climactic battle in the book even mirrors the battle at the Gates of Mordor in Return of the King in terms of perspective and result. This style keeps the focus of the book on the characters (which he does a good job with), rather than the confusion and bloodshed of the battlefield, but makes these large action scenes flash by quickly, emphasizing everything else. Rob, the character most involved in battles is not even one of the points of view that Martin covers.
As in the first book, Martin does a fantastic job with his characterizations and his writing makes the vastly different issues and plots that are present easy to follow. There are a couple of new characters introduced that I liked, most prominently the smuggler knight, Davos Seaworth and Theon Greyjoy. All the characters that were interesting in the last book were just as interesting in this book.
My one complaint is that Daenerys' story has become very slow and its separation from the main events of the book are even more obvious. It is obvious that something will come of it in books three or four, but in this volume it is purely setup with no real payoff. The threat facing Jon Snow in the north seems like it would suffer from the same issues, but is presented in a much more urgent way and with characters that are more interesting.
Overall I would recommend this book to everyone....more