I found this book in The Friends of Library for sale section at my local library for 50 cents.
I find underwater archaeology a fascinating subject. ComI found this book in The Friends of Library for sale section at my local library for 50 cents.
I find underwater archaeology a fascinating subject. Combine that with a theory on the location of Atlantis and write it in novel form, and you have me caught as an interested reader. David Gibbins’ novel has enormous potential as both an action novel and that borders on science fiction grounded in realism. I very much liked the premise, but where the idea succeeded, the execution failed.
David Gibbins is an expert in his chosen field, and that expertise shines in this book. It’s obvious to me as the reader that he’s passionate about this subject and strives to educate the reader about undersea archaeology. Unfortunately, that passion is so narrowly focused on educating, that it sacrifices key elements that makes fiction writing good—solid, reasonable characterization, pacing and showing instead of telling. What few glimmers of interesting characterization exist are compromised by the dreaded Mary Sue/Gary Stu personification. Gibbins’ use of detail is overblown. Measurements for everything given down to the last centimeter; the acronym laser is spelled out in full, unnecessary definition and delivered by one of the most egregious uses of info. dumping – the “As you know, Bob...” technique and geographical minutae that degrades insteads of anchors the reader’s sense of place and culture. This book (and several other written by Gibbins) is published by Random House. I have to wonder where the editor was in all this, as many of the mistakes I’m seeing in this book are those made by beginning writers and should have been instant red flags for a diligent editor to spot and mark for revision.
Many of the action scenes seemed implausible, especially within context of the characters involved in them. Jack Howard is all things to all people, thus making him both annoying as well as shallow and unrealistic. His connection to the love interest of the book is so poorly established, the book would have benefitted more if it didn’t exist at all, and the two remained nothing more than friendly compatriots working toward the same goal.
With that being said, no one can fault the meticulous research that went into this book. It’s obvious to anyone, layman and expert alike, that Gibbins did his homework and put in an enormous amount of time and effort to lay the nonfiction groundwork for Atlantis. Were he to present this book more as a scientific theory for why Atlantis exists, when it existed and where it’s located, I’d consider it a reasonable presentation. However, the core essence of fiction for me is to be mildly educated on a subject and supremely entertained by it. Historical novel writers such Dorothy Dunnet and Antonia Fraser are masters at this craft. Meticulously researched, with characters that leap off the page. This book did the reverse for me. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to read about undersea archaeology with a touch of fiction to give it a little zing. As an entertaining read, I would suggest trying something else.
Were I to average out a rating, I’d give the research and theoretical aspect of this book a 5+, hands down. As a work of fiction, I’d give it a 1 for several contextual and structural errors such as weak characterization, plodding pace and excessive info. dumping with an overall rating of a 3; however, I still think that’s too high of an average and unfair to other books I’ve rated a 3 and found vastly superior in execution and technique. As such, I am rating this one a 2. ...more
I first heard about Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl a few years ago on the blog Karen Knows Best. I made a note to add it to my TBR pile when next I hI first heard about Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl a few years ago on the blog Karen Knows Best. I made a note to add it to my TBR pile when next I hit a bookstore and then promptly forgot about. This ended up being a good thing for my bank account as I found the title at a Friends of the Library sale and snapped it up right away.
This book is on my Deserted Island shelf—one of the limited number of titles I’d make sure to take with me if I was dropped off in the middle of nowhere, never to return.
Koomson is adept at portraying all the nuances, positive and negative, that exist between long-time friends. Her portrayal of the friendship between Kamryn (main character) and Adele, the fracture of that friendship and its timely recovery, are spot-on and put down a solid foundation for Kamryn’s profound sorrow over losing Adele. As someone who lost a very close friend at a young age, I read the first part of this book with blurry eyes and a box of Kleenex within arm’s reach. Even if I hadn’t dealt with a similar scenario, I still would have teared up. That sorrow could have easily slipped into melodrama in the hands of a less competent writer, compromising Kamryn’s character set-up as a whole, but Koomson pulled it off with ease.
Kamryn is very real, very human and completely identifiable in her struggle to not only deal with the loss of her friend, the fall out of an old relationship and the upheaval of a recent management change at her job, but also the monumental task of raising a young child grieving for her mother and trying to come to terms with a life turned upside down.
By herself, Kamryn is a strong, independent personality whose frailties only enhance that core strength. She’s a character I admired—fully fleshed out and practically jumping off the page as I read.
The only drawbacks I saw in the character set-up was Kamryn’s relationship with the two men in her life. Koomson’s voice is so powerful when she writes about the relationship between the women (and child) in this book but so muted when the men enter the picture. I thought one of the relationships was almost superfluous to the story, the other difficult to believe in the connection. I personally think if one of the relationships had stayed on the sidelines and the other axed altogether, this strong book would have been even stronger. It’s the only point that kept My Best Friend’s Girl from being a perfect 5 for me. As it is, I’m rating it a 4 but consider it a 4.5. ...more
I was a little leery about this book when I first got into it. A cast of thousands--and all sharing, at most, 5 last names. There were sidetracks andI was a little leery about this book when I first got into it. A cast of thousands--and all sharing, at most, 5 last names. There were sidetracks and flashbacks and meandering moments of conversation, but OMG, the characterization of the people who live in the bleak little town of Milagro just blew me away. No need for me to summarize the plot as it's available to read on GR and multiple places. And honestly, the plot is secondary to the characters who populate Milagro.
Nichols' prose is layered and rich with sharp flashes of wit that poke fun at not only the vagaries of human nature but the beauracracy and corruption of state and local governments. There are serious undertones as well, reminders that the right palms greased with the appropriate amounts of cash can benefit one and ruin the futures of so many.
Joe Mondragon and his bean field are the main characters of the story--or so we think at first, but he shares as much limelight with Milagro's infamous pig, Joe's chicken-slautering wife Nancy and the seemingly immortal Amarante Cordova. There are several others which I won't list here, but if you get a chance to read this book, you'll find yourself wanting to meet and chat with some of these eccentric, pragmatic and ultimately fascinating characters.
The last time I read a book that left such a lingering impact on me once I finished it was Dorothy Dunnett's King Hereafter--another book where the characters just knocked me breathless....more
So far she has some interesting facts laced through the narrative, but a lot of antiquated assumptions (copyright 1966)that make my eyebrows go up. MySo far she has some interesting facts laced through the narrative, but a lot of antiquated assumptions (copyright 1966)that make my eyebrows go up. My biggest issue is the very non-linear structure of this book. Mitford is all over the place with the time line in chapters. It's nearly impossible to keep up with what events are taking place when with such a scattershot approach. If I wasn't already familiar with some of the history of Louis XIV and his morganatic wife, I'd be lost.
Updated - In the end, I enjoyed this book. Mitford has a sharp wit that comes through in her observations of history and beliefs for the period. I still found the non-linear composition of events off-putting, but that was minor when set against Mitford's tone, interesting anecdotes and the beautiful pictures of the stunning art of the day included in the book. I'm giving it 4 stars because I really liked the book and will probably read it again in the near future. ...more
An enlightening and detailed focus on who I believe is one of the most fascinating women in history. The rags to riches story of Francoise D'Aubigne iAn enlightening and detailed focus on who I believe is one of the most fascinating women in history. The rags to riches story of Francoise D'Aubigne is far more than the "poor girl makes good" especially set within the context of the glitter and intrigue of Louis XIV's court.
Francoise's origins as a neglected, often abused child raised in bleak, uncertain circumstances punctuated by periods of grinding poverty serve to highlight the formation of her character and give a better understanding into her motivations, her actions and her opinions. Buckley does a good job building a baseline for understanding the "why" of Francoise D'Aubigne, as well as the king's fascination and love for her.
Buckley doesn't sugar-coat the relationship between Francoise and her royal husband either. It is a romance, but in the most human, realistic terms. Francoise's commentary about court life and marriage in general is revealing, not only in terms of her perception but in the place of women at almost every societal level of that day.
I very much like the romantic ideal of this couple, but in the end, I think Louis loved Francoise more than she loved him. Buckley's portrayal of Francoise and her life doesn't lessen my enjoyment of that romantic ideal. Instead, I remain as fascinated by Francoise D'Aubigne as ever....more