Kelly Link does what every short story writer aspires to to but doesn't always accomplish in this Magic for Beginners: she creates worlds so complete,...moreKelly Link does what every short story writer aspires to to but doesn't always accomplish in this Magic for Beginners: she creates worlds so complete, so engrossing, and so strangely fascinating that you feel yanked abruptly back to reality when the story ends, longing for more and yet appreciating the short form at the same time.
Each story offers up an intriguing atmosphere, almost an alternate reality, with a tinge of magical realism that is simultaneously organic and extraordinary. The book starts strong with "The Faery Handbag," giving the reader a world within a world, a place where space and time work differently but which is not wholly separate from life in the world as we know it. This kind of situation continues throughout the book, whether it's a story of slow haunting or a mysterious tv show that becomes reality, or the mise en abyme of a story of someone telling a story of a story that is the main story. Each story is beautifully told in rich detail and imagination.(less)
After hearing all the rave reviews for this book, I think perhaps my expectations were too high. There's definitely potential here, and E. Lockhart us...moreAfter hearing all the rave reviews for this book, I think perhaps my expectations were too high. There's definitely potential here, and E. Lockhart uses some clever writing techniques. However, and this may end up being a giant spoiler without being actually specific, I felt that We Were Liars turned out to be Shutter Island for teens, which I found formulaic and unsatisfying at the end.(less)
The premise is good and creepy, but the execution of this book felt a little sloppy. Two first-person narrators and one third-person took turns with t...moreThe premise is good and creepy, but the execution of this book felt a little sloppy. Two first-person narrators and one third-person took turns with the chapters, and the switches weren't always immediately clear. Each was interesting in its own way, but just as the reader settled in to one, another jumped in. Add to that a bit too many red herrings and a somewhat superfluous plot lines (unnecessary marital strife for the investigating police, a pointlessly undefined relationship between two suspects, and an extraneous villain) that served to distract rather than support the main story, and things just didn't quite come together as well as I'd hoped.
The end, which I won't give away, was fairly trite as well. So, on the whole, creepy, occasionally captivating, but frustrating and a bit cliché. (less)
The idea behind this book is intriguing from the get-go. As the subtitle says, "Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tenn...moreThe idea behind this book is intriguing from the get-go. As the subtitle says, "Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played." It's got biography, history, and sports all brought together under extreme circumstances that couldn't fail to be interesting.
Baron Gottfried von Cramm vs. Don Budge in the Davis Cup Interzone Final of 1937, the German vs. the American, with American great Big Bill Tilden surreptitiously coaching the former. This is where the book opens and draws the reader in. From there, Fisher goes into the backgrounds of the players, delving into details of their lives, the circumstances and politics of their countries, and what brings them together on the court.
At times, however, the match that is the book's centerpiece seems to get lost in the narrative and the focus is muddled. The match somehow becomes less important as the book goes on, which is a pity as it is one of the greatest matches of all time. The book is an interesting read, but it is not necessarily what one might expect as tales of squandered wealth, plastic surgery, and "moral turpitude" compete, as it were, with the competition.
After reading John Green's phenomenal The Fault in Our Stars, I wanted to read more of his books. His work has a remarkable consistency when it comes...moreAfter reading John Green's phenomenal The Fault in Our Stars, I wanted to read more of his books. His work has a remarkable consistency when it comes to understanding the adolescent experience. "Pudge," the main character and narrator of the story, is sympathetic and believable as he details the trials and tribulations of boarding school life and the people he becomes attached to there: his roommate, "the Colonel"; the rich kids, natural antagonists; and the unattainable troubled girl, Alaska.
The book's narrative structure appeals, too, being divided into a time before and a time after. The reader doesn't know what the before and after refer to until well on in the book, when the structure becomes quite clear. However, I'm not consistently a big reader of YA, and the teen angst was a bit much. The book is well written, but it didn't have the same emotional power that impressed so much in The Fault in Our Stars.(less)
This book is as addictive and fun as the video games it nostalgically champions. Underdog hero Wade, aka Parzival, is living in an all-too-realistic d...moreThis book is as addictive and fun as the video games it nostalgically champions. Underdog hero Wade, aka Parzival, is living in an all-too-realistic dystopian future: the planet's a wreck and escapism in the virtual OASIS is infinitely preferable. The OASIS is, in fact, where Wade spends most of his time and where he considers his real life to be.
The creator of the OASIS, philanthropic soul, lover of all things 1980s, and Wade's hero, James Halliday, also preferred the virtual world. So much so, that when he died, he left no heirs but a contest. Whoever wins Halliday's contest will inherit his great fortune and control of the OASIS.
There is, obviously, widespread interest in the contest. Whether it's idealistic individuals, cooperative clan groups, or mega corporations out for profit, the game is on. Wade must do battle with friend and enemy alike, trying to decipher clues, pass tests, and even just to stay alive. And it's along the way that he'll discover who he really is, what he wants, and change the world he knows.
Ernest Cline writes this story with wit and depth, using pop culture references and gaming strategies to illuminate the human condition and the mise en abyme of the game within a game works beautifully. Loved this book.(less)
The World's Strongest Librarian.The title is fantastic. The cover art is perfect. And when the book opens, you'll find yourself smiling at the breezy...moreThe World's Strongest Librarian.The title is fantastic. The cover art is perfect. And when the book opens, you'll find yourself smiling at the breezy narrative. Much of this book leaves the reader with a smile, but as the story continues, it tends to get a little weaker. Josh Hanagarne is a good storyteller, and his anecdotes are usually amusing as well as insightful. But not all the pieces come together. The subtitle of the book, A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family, tells the reader right off the bat that there's a lot of ground to cover here. And in covering all that ground, the focus splits and nothing has a very strong impact anymore. (less)