This was a really enjoyable read. I'm reviewing it well after I actually finished it, so I can't offer a detailed commentary, but the characters feltThis was a really enjoyable read. I'm reviewing it well after I actually finished it, so I can't offer a detailed commentary, but the characters felt real, and it avoided straying too far into or away from the supernatural. Resolution isn't handed to you in a neatly wrapped up bow, which was wise. ...more
another one from the walkawayslowly's box-o-books. this is the guy who wrote about a boy (haven't read the book, but loved the movie) and high fidelitanother one from the walkawayslowly's box-o-books. this is the guy who wrote about a boy (haven't read the book, but loved the movie) and high fidelity (haven't read the book nor seen the movie, but the husband likes it a lot). in this book, four strangers who come from four very different walks of life all wind up on the roof of a popular suicide spot on new year's eve, planning to off themselves. the story is what happens as a result of this strange meeting. it's told first person through the points of view of each of the four, which is what makes this book succeed. if it came from third person, or only took one pov out of the four, it wouldn't be nearly so interesting and engaging.
what really impressed me was the author's ability to write these four very different people so convincingly. characters that you can't stand when you see them from someone else's pov become enjoyable and sympathetic when you see things from their own perspective, and their contemplations on what it was that has driven them to such misery are very compelling. that these four people somehow manage to maintain a very warped sort of friendship, and that you believe it, is more kudos to the author. the style is engaging, generally hilarious, but very sobering in places, which is the sign of a great humor writer. in order to have substance there has to be a dark side to humor writing, otherwise you just have fluff, and it's easy to laugh at the trials and tribulations of these people while still having respect for the seriousness of what they're going through.
it's a hard book to find and ending for, because you walk a fine line between an unrealistic fairy tale ending and making it true to life in a way that can't satisfy the reader. as a result, in some ways i feel the book just sort of trails off rather then delivering a really solid ending, but at the same time i'm not sure what other way it could have ended. again, a book i would highly recommend. this was a good reading round, it seems. i'm a happy reader. =)...more
Billie Letts definitely qualifies as a feel good writer. This is a fast read, enjoyable, though its strength lies much more in the characters than theBillie Letts definitely qualifies as a feel good writer. This is a fast read, enjoyable, though its strength lies much more in the characters than the story itself. She creates vivid characters who paint a very charming, quirky picture of life in small town Oklahoma. They appear to be stronger than the plot, which is relatively predictable and optimistic, but I don't think this hurts a book that does not really pretend to be something more than it is.
The subplot with Willy Jack adds additional depth and a slightly different perspective that I welcomed, and Novalee is an interesting narrator to spend time with. All in all, it's a pleasant read when your heart needs a little pick-me-up....more
I'm usually not interested in the "chick books" that have become so popular recently (maybe they were always popular, but I've only taken notice of thI'm usually not interested in the "chick books" that have become so popular recently (maybe they were always popular, but I've only taken notice of them in the past couple of years). You know, the witty, funny, celebrations of the modern women in all her success and tragedy. I think the appeal is that so many women can relate to these voices, these women, fictional or real, who live lives we recognize and are heartbreakingly and humorously honest about some of our most private thoughts and failures. Unfortunately, since I'm not particularly chick-ish, I've never jumped on the bandwagon, and wouldn't have read this if walkawayslowly hadn't sent it to me. Though I still wouldn't necessarily seek this genre out after reading it, I did enjoy it.
Humor is such a hard thing to write, harder than anything else, and to do it requires a very real talent. I thought I was in trouble on the first page when the first "gag" unfolded in a really forced, constructed way that was predictable as well as unnatural, but to my relief I think that was about the only moment in the book when I rolled my eyes at the writing style. This book is funny, and Laurie Notaro is a genuinely good humorist. A lot of her issues I could not relate to (this will make me sound like a snob, and I am, but hey, at least I'm honest, right?), such as dieting (I honestly cringed when she talked about the way she ate, which can be blamed on my new found desire to be a nutritionist) and irresponsible spending (blame my parents), and some other very common things normal Americans face. But while I might not have related to several things, I can see how so many people out there do, which would make the appeal of this book all the greater. She does so well when it comes to vocalizing so much of what we're all really thinking, no matter how outrageous or inappropriate. That said, I can't imagine wanting to ever meet this woman, as much of what she says and does really isn't something to be proud of. But it was a fun read. ...more
I'm jealous of this woman, because she writes better than I do. I've always been a little snobby towards Seabiscuit, as I'm a devoted War Admiral fan,I'm jealous of this woman, because she writes better than I do. I've always been a little snobby towards Seabiscuit, as I'm a devoted War Admiral fan, but this is probably the best book out there that really captures the essence of horse racing, and she picked the right horse to do it with.
This story is not just about Seabiscuit. It's also about humanity, and most importantly (to me), racing itself, as it was in the 1930s. You will be astonished at what you learn from this book, from the incredible hardships jockies are willing to endure for love of their sport to the unique "underworld" that exists behind the scenes. Her research is extensive and meticulous, her writing style engaging and honest. She brings this whole world to life, and I'm thrilled that such a window into the sport that I love has been opened for the average person who knows nothing about it, nor has probably ever wondered or cared. ...more
The classic example of culpability vs. melodrama. Good writing will implicate the main character rather than make him a victim of his environment, andThe classic example of culpability vs. melodrama. Good writing will implicate the main character rather than make him a victim of his environment, and when this concept gets discussed this book invariably comes up. ...more
I actually agree with the title. The title is the only reason I picked it up, and I adored every word. This stream-of-consciousness style memoir is veI actually agree with the title. The title is the only reason I picked it up, and I adored every word. This stream-of-consciousness style memoir is very engaging, and the author’s voice is fresh and unique. Granted, I don’t think others who have read it loved it as much as I did, but anyone who can write about cancer in such a way that it has a real emotional impact, and not the distant, melodramatic disconnect that you usually experience (let’s face it: something as universally devastating as cancer is nearly impossible to write about in a truly meaningful way), is someone to pay attention to. This book is hilarious, devastating, effective, and deserving of its daring title. ...more
The long-spanning nature of this series makes it interesting to look back at the first book, because there is such a stark difference between King's wThe long-spanning nature of this series makes it interesting to look back at the first book, because there is such a stark difference between King's writing style and abilities in this book verses the later books. Even after some slight revisions, it's easy to identify this as one of King's early and even unpolished works. When read alongside the others, it almost feels like the work of a different writer. The dense, often overwrought prose that I often criticize King here is absent, almost too absent, as in many cases I could not figure out where I was or what was going on - I had to retrace pages, sometimes more than once, to get my bearings again.
Though the comment I am about to make is not predicated on this book, it applies to the series as a whole, and if you are thinking about starting The Dark Tower I figure you're looking at reviews of the first book. So, here is my recommendation: if you are a huge fan of Stephen King, read it. The later books are full of Easter eggs that would make any knowledgeable fan giddy, and this is clearly the work that is closest to King's own heart. Therefore it is significant to any Stephen King fan. But if you do not have much exposure to Stephen King and wish to check out some of his novels, do not start here. These books are not representative of King's overall work, and quite honestly the passion and devotion he has for the Gunslinger, which I empathize with and applaud, is often a detriment to the work. If you want to know why Stephen King is such a big deal, start with "Carrie", "The Shining", or "The Stand." Read these when you've inhaled his other novels, and be prepared. You're in for a journey. ...more
In the rare event that we get to see each other, a very good friend of mine and I have an awesome habit of wandering around bookstores and pointing ouIn the rare event that we get to see each other, a very good friend of mine and I have an awesome habit of wandering around bookstores and pointing out books we think the other should read, sort of a Live and In Person version of Goodreads. I read this book as a result of one of those wanderings, and it serves to emphasize why I love them so much.
This book is a terrific read. It's not nearly as dense as some of the space operas I love so much, yet it manages to create just as rich and rewarding an experience. It's not a conventionally told novel as such, as there is not necessarily a central plot that drives the narrative. It almost reads like a series of vignettes, all from the perspective of John Perry, who is an extremely enjoyable narrator. Scalzi threads brilliant humor with genuine horror almost effortlessly, which is an enviable talent in a writer.
It's the first and strongest entry in a series, and a must read.
Also, if you are not familiar with John Scalzi and like Old Man's War, you should most definitely visit his blog, whatever.scalzi.com. It's now a daily stop for me. ...more
Like "Where the Heart Is," the strength of this novel comes from the characters rather than plot, which is again predictible and somewhat sentimental.Like "Where the Heart Is," the strength of this novel comes from the characters rather than plot, which is again predictible and somewhat sentimental. Still, that does not really seem to take away from what is meant to be more of a feel good story with a happy ending (and this despite the fact that it involves the murder of a young mother!).
Letts is clearly at her best when writing about small town folks, especially in her native Oklahaoma. The characters Ivy and TeeVee are refreshingly quirky and fun to read. In fact, the weakest character, and perhaps the weakest aspect of the book is the narrator, who is for the most part uninteresting and lacking in the spark that is found in virtually everyone he encounters. His occupation as a vet could have easily been exchanged for any other LA occupation, and might have had more of an impact on who he was as a character.
This is the conclusion of the three part series, and while I thought it was the weakest of the series, I still get insane pleasure out of this man's wThis is the conclusion of the three part series, and while I thought it was the weakest of the series, I still get insane pleasure out of this man's writing. I think the main problem this book has is that it is missing what would seem to be a very vital sense of urgency concerning the Inhibitors. Now, the nature of this galaxy he has created reminds us that our perception of the passage of time is quite different from the galaxy's perception, but even so, there is a race of machines out there destroying mankind, and there is only one real moment in the book where that threat feels real and immediate. Granted, that one moment is one HELL of a moment, one that I as a writer who knows how much the characters and worlds you create mean to you might not have had the courage or willpower to write, but overall the Inhibitors themselves are surprisingly absent from the book, and when they do appear they just do not seem as terrible and threatening as they should be. I feel the same way about how the author treats the cache weapons, weapons so terrible that they were only made once, and the technology used to make them was then destroyed. They are called hell class weapons, and we are made to fear them utterly in the first book, but in the second and third, while they are used and coveted, we never really see or feel their devastation, which to me is a real missed opportunity.
Characters that I thought were slightly underdeveloped or unnecessary in Absolution Gap tended to be weeded out, which I suppose justified my previous opinion. The author's main fascination seemed to be with the character Scorpio, which I admit is a fascinating character, and Reynolds thoroughly addresses all of the things that make him interesting. We skulk in Scorpio's head more intimately than perhaps any other character in the series, though sometimes I think I am more interested in Reynold's fascination with the character than my own. The problem I think, is that in the second book there was a crucial transformation in Scorpio's character that we were told about but never really saw, and as such when the character reflects on that transformation, I have to take his word for it rather than understand it myself. Show not tell, yo. And on the note of characters, I think there were two HUGE missed opportunities in Grelier and whats-her-name torture lady from the very beginning, who were possibly THE most interesting characters he's ever created, and they end up playing a rather minuscule, undeveloped part, which is disappointing. Oh, and hey, whatever happened to the Mademoiselle? Rarely does Reynolds leave a thread like that unadressed, but the story never came back to that like I thought it would.
This book also ended more vaguely than the other books do, and if there is one thing I can generally count on Reynolds for, it's an ending that lives up to its promise. If I read the ending right, and it was a little hard to sort out, at least for me, it doesn't exactly leave you with warm, squishy thoughts. Which is fine, but it was so vague and out there that I felt a little let down. Those things said, there is no end to the fascinating creativity this man possesses. The nature of Haldora, the Cathedrals, the characters of Quaiche and Aura are all pretty brilliant if you ask me. I've been dwelling on the negative, but there is so, so, so much to like about this book, and Alastair Reynolds on his worst day is far better than most of the sci-fi junk that's out there. Read this. Really. Read everything this guy has written if you're into this genre. ...more
I don't get this book. I've read it twice for class, and I don't get it. It makes my head hurt. I think there are people who would fall all over themsI don't get this book. I've read it twice for class, and I don't get it. It makes my head hurt. I think there are people who would fall all over themselves with this book, but I. Don't. Get it. ...more
This is not a book I would have picked up on my own had it not been written by my thesis advisor, as the subject matter wasn't necessarily up my alleyThis is not a book I would have picked up on my own had it not been written by my thesis advisor, as the subject matter wasn't necessarily up my alley. But he read my science fiction mess, so I certainly felt I owed it to him to read it, and (not to my surprise) I really enjoyed it. I had no question that Wayne knew how to write a good sentence, and indeed line by line the prose here is about as good as it gets. The story is interesting too, and while not a fast paced book, you find yourself eager to keep turning the pages.
The greatest strength of this book is New York. He makes it a character, a powerful one, and it is very fascinating to look at this city in its youth. He depicts it vividly, and captures the spirit of constant change that grips it during this time.
If you like historical fiction, definitely read this. If you just like good books, this one definitely qualifies....more
The translation gets a little rough in parts (when you're being picky), but there really isn't much not to like about this book. The characters are inThe translation gets a little rough in parts (when you're being picky), but there really isn't much not to like about this book. The characters are interesting, the plot is engaging and the Russian setting was refreshing and added a lot to the story. Highly recommended. ...more
As the classic girl who wanted a pony, and a long time horse racing enthusiast, Farley creates with these stories the perfect union of the ultimate faAs the classic girl who wanted a pony, and a long time horse racing enthusiast, Farley creates with these stories the perfect union of the ultimate fantasy with the reality of horse racing in the 40s, perhaps one of the greatest decades from the sport. Anyone who's been involved with racing on some level can immediately see that Farley is writing about what he knows. The horses are so real, and the racing world is brilliantly brought to life. But in these books he looks through the eyes of youth, and renders their hope, fantasy and enthusiasm in a way I don't think I have ever seen accomplished before. For any horse lover looing for a good book, pick up this series before you touch any others. Nothing else will be as good. ...more