This book belongs on that special list of YA books that stay with you for the rest of your life. You remember them, remember how they changed your per...moreThis book belongs on that special list of YA books that stay with you for the rest of your life. You remember them, remember how they changed your perspective, how they made you feel, and how they helped you grow up. This book in particular belongs at the top of that list for me, right alongside Bridge to Terebithia, and I consider it a mandatory title for anyone who is in the process of growing up.
Clear as a bell I remember the night I finished it, right before (or quite after, as was more likely) my bedtime, and how I sobbed my eyes out in a way I didn't do again for fifteen years or so until I read the Time Traveler's Wife, then flipped back, reread the last chapter or so, and bawled again. I have never forgotten Old Dan and Little Ann, what they did for each other, and what they did for the narrator.
There are many coming of age books that deal with death, particularly with animals (I'm recalling Beauty, A Dog Called Kitty, Old Yeller, etc.), and for others some of those titles might be the one that comes to mind first today, but this was it for me. (less)
this book. is brutally fantastic. i'm not sure if i've ever used that particular combination of descriptors before, but it fits. this is the same guy...morethis book. is brutally fantastic. i'm not sure if i've ever used that particular combination of descriptors before, but it fits. this is the same guy who wrote the "zombie survival guide," though i will have to rely on the husband to tell me how much of that manual informs this book, as he has been reading that one. both books were his christmas presents, btw, and i had no real mission to read either, but i started idly flipping through world war z out of boredom, and the next thing you know i had finished it. zombies have only recently been part of my life, and unfortunately, if there is a class of experts regarding this particular "virus," i belong in it. this comes from being married to someone who scouts out every place we go, be it wal-mart, the mall, a restaurant, for possible weapons, fortification sites, and plausible escape routes in the event of a zombie invasion. these things invade my dreams, frighten the living hell out of me, but still, this book rocked my socks.
what makes this book interesting is that it takes the form of an honest to god historical account, complete with footnotes. the author chronicles individual accounts of a zombie infestation that sweeps the entire world and puts the human race on the brink of extinction. it takes itself absolutely seriously from cover to cover, which is part of what makes it so successful. it's written for an audience who presumably knows the basic history of the war, which of course, we do not. it does not explain the timeline, it does not define certain events, just refers to them as though you will recognize what the speaker is referring to. you are expected to catch on, read between the lines, fill in the blanks on your own, which fuels your imagination while simultaneously leaving you begging for more. it's just the right amount of information, i think, because even though i would have liked to see a basic chronology of events, have some background information available, i think the writer was right to give me less than what i think i need, because having that information might actually detract in the end.
unlike the traditional zombie movies (the exception that comes to mind being the latest romero flick, land of the dead), this looks beyond the immediate desperation for simple survival, and explores the effects on economy, military, government, commerce, trade, etc. things you might not normally consider (if you spend time considering the fallout of a zombie infestation), such as what refugee patterns would emerge and how that would jeopardize different nations, the fortune that would suddenly be made in human trafficking, the impact on our oceans and atmosphere, which nations are tumbled to the ground and which ones rise from the ashes to gain prosperity and power, the desperate yet woefully ineffectual efforts made by civilians to survive (when they do not have survival skills), the spread of the virus through infected organ transplants, the zombie threat underwater, the fortunes made by pharmeceutical companies off of fake cures, and a LOT more. aside from these unique and fascinating perspectives, brooks writes a painfully honest account of the human factor. the danger facing humanity was not just from zombies: it was humanity itself. the psychological damage incurred by soldiers, witnesses, survivors...he paints a clear picture of how merely avoiding a zombie bite was not enough to keep you alive.
it's brilliantly imaginative, utterly fascinating on all levels, and so worth the read even if you have no interest in the living dead. though, if you are sensitive to nightmares, be on your guard. i've been dreaming about this stuff like crazy. the past couple of nights.(less)
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 the...moreBillie 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.(less)
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 th...moreI'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. (less)
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,...moreI'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. (less)
The classic example of culpability vs. melodrama. Good writing will implicate the main character rather than make him a victim of his environment, and...moreThe 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. (less)
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 ve...moreI 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. (less)
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 w...moreThe 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. (less)
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 ou...moreIn 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. (less)
Like "Where the Heart Is," the strength of this novel comes from the characters rather than plot, which is again predictible and somewhat sentimental....moreLike "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.
I think the title of this book is misleading, because while it takes a stance that seems to appeal to the non-religious, the author's actual goal is t...moreI think the title of this book is misleading, because while it takes a stance that seems to appeal to the non-religious, the author's actual goal is to find a way to embrace Christ in the modern world, where science and technology are constantly at odds with traditional Christian concepts. I'll let you know how well he does. (less)
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 w...moreThis 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. (less)
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 thems...moreI 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. (less)
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 alley...moreThis 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.(less)
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 in...moreThe 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. (less)