"A large part of me enjoyed the hell out of this book. It was as if Jane Austen wrote a Tolkien novel. There’s tons of humor, well-rounded characters,"A large part of me enjoyed the hell out of this book. It was as if Jane Austen wrote a Tolkien novel. There’s tons of humor, well-rounded characters, and a seemingly huge knowledge of genre. Clarke clearly knows and loves English fantasy literature. Also, I’m a sucker for books for adults that have illustrations, and Portia Rosenberg’s illustrations do a great job of evoking the magical environment of Clarke’s 19th Century England.
I'm a HUGE fan of Simon Pegg, and I was thrilled when I learned he was putting a book out. And there was a lot to love about this book. He is surprisiI'm a HUGE fan of Simon Pegg, and I was thrilled when I learned he was putting a book out. And there was a lot to love about this book. He is surprisingly candid, and paints a wonderful picture of his life growing up and into the performer/writer he's become.
The one negative about this book? For some reason, he felt the need to incorporate fake "chapters" of a sci-fi book in which he is the star, which alternate with the real chapters of the memoir. Not only were they boring, and not a terribly good idea for a story, but they took away from the memoir bits that were actually really interesting. It was as if he didn't trust his own story enough, and I wish he would have as his story was why I got the book in the first place. I would recommend skipping those chapters and focusing on his memoir. Those are a very enjoyable read, AND includes a pretty intellectual dissection of Star Wars....more
Heinlein's sci-fi classic delves into some really intriguing ideas about religion and romantic/sexual relationships. However, this vision of the "futuHeinlein's sci-fi classic delves into some really intriguing ideas about religion and romantic/sexual relationships. However, this vision of the "future" is still horribly dated (particularly where women are concerned), and it reads less like a novel and more like a treatise on these ideas occasionally broken up by quotes as "dialogue."
Jubal Harshaw is one of the most interesting characters I've ever come across, not to mention the fact that he seemed to embody most of the things I personally believe. It was the first time I ever came across "Me" (ideologically, at least) in a book, and that was nice. But on the whole, there's very little characterization, and the characters don't actually progress or earn anything as if they were actual people.
I'm glad I read it, because it's such a well-known classic and has had so much influence. But it's wasn't exactly a "fun" read, and I couldn't wholeheartedly recommend it....more
This book, by one of my favorite authors, certainly gave me a lot of food for thought (no pun intended). While it didn't convince me to become a vegetThis book, by one of my favorite authors, certainly gave me a lot of food for thought (no pun intended). While it didn't convince me to become a vegetarian, it DID make me reevaluate where I will make my meat purchases. I'm definitely more interested in buying from local farmers who treat their animals well, and taking the time to do research on where I get my food.
My only real problem with the book was that, while it was well-researched, Foer doesn't really seem to know what kind of a book he wants this to be. It's like it's trying to be a autobiographical novel AND a non-fiction book exposing the evils of factory farming, and it doesn't do a great job at either. I wish Foer would stop being so "quirky" all the time and just speak. And the thing is, I first fell in love with his stuff BECAUSE of the quirkiness. But we're both getting older, and I'm kind of wondering if he can do anything else?...more
I'm marking this book as "read" even though I haven't finished it, because it's more of a reference book than a book that you read straight through. FI'm marking this book as "read" even though I haven't finished it, because it's more of a reference book than a book that you read straight through. For my "official" review of it, check out the write-up I did over at Tor.com:
There’s something about Nicole Krauss that, while I like her work, bothers me.
I’ve enjoyed Nicole Krauss’ writing ever since I read her first novel, MThere’s something about Nicole Krauss that, while I like her work, bothers me.
I’ve enjoyed Nicole Krauss’ writing ever since I read her first novel, Man Walks Into A Room. I was fascinated by her insights into memory loss and what that does to a relationship, because I’d seen what Alzheimer’s Disease had done to my family at the time, and while her novel was about memory loss of a different sort, many of the repercussions were the same. I loved that book, and immediately fantasized about being the one allowed to adapt it into a screenplay. :)
I enjoyed her second novel, A History of Love, too. But this story had less of an impact on me because of the voice and style she chose to tell it. Perhaps it was because I was used to her husband Jonathan Safran Foer’s style, and it seemed very much like him (making the reading experience visual by using things like lists and charts as part of the narrative, etc), but I felt like she was doing a ventriloquist act. While I enjoyed the characters (particularly the brother, who I thought was underused), and appreciated the story she was trying to tell, it didn’t feel like a natural progression from Man Walks Into a Room, nor did it sound like her voice from what I’d gathered from short stories of hers I’d read.
So, I recently picked up her latest novel, Great House, because I respect her talent as a writer, and was hoping that this book would be more her own. Great House tells the stories of three groups of people that are all connected by an old desk. Once again, Krauss is adept at capturing certain emotional situations – getting older, memory loss, life as a writer – with precision and elegance. There were passages where I recognized myself in what she was describing so much that I had to put the book down, because my heart was racing. The problem I have with this book, though, is that it’s told from the point of view of three different characters, but they all pretty much sound the same, and they all sound “literary.” Rather than have distinct voices with the distinct cadences that come with being at different stages in life, or different education levels, they all sound the same level of poetic and have the same self-awareness.
What’s strange is that, looking back, her first novel was probably really rough. But it also seemed to be a book that wasn’t trying so hard. It was telling an interesting story in an insightful way with characters I cared about, and I loved it. It seems, though, that once that book did so well, her subsequent novels seem to be trying so hard to be art that they forget to be stories. In A History of Love, all the characters are bound together by a manuscript they have in common. In Great House, there’s the desk. She seems to be settling into a formula where story doesn’t matter (There’ll be this central thing that unites the characters, which will allow me to tell the story Magnolia-style, being really insightful about characters and emotions, but not having anything actually happen except that someone, you know, ends up with this thing). Which is interesting, considering that Man Walks Into a Room told a story that was also insightful, and her short story, “Future Emergencies”, managed to tell a story that was bigger than her characters – it was about the post-9/11 world.
Thing is, I really do love Nicole Krauss’ writing. I just wish she put it to better use. I wish she would get out of her comfort zone a little more and risk sounding a little less polished. I’ll probably pick up her next novel, too, but if it’s about a disparate group of people bound together by a central object, I quit....more
I have been preaching the gospel of The Hunger Games since I started reading the series recently, recommending it to everyone I know (even one personI have been preaching the gospel of The Hunger Games since I started reading the series recently, recommending it to everyone I know (even one person I didn’t know!). Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and I bought it while I was still reading the first book, because I knew I’d want it immediately. However, after The Hunger Games, I read My Sister’s Keeper first, because I didn’t want to rush the series. Now, I’m down to one book left, and I already miss it. It’s been a long while since a book has affected me like this.
Catching Fire focuses on Katniss Everdeen’s post-Hunger Games life, and the changing political climate in Panem. The “catching fire” of the title refers to Katniss having been a spark for revolution in the first book, and the idea for revolution now spreading like a brush fire across the country. Catching Fire was a slower, but more thoughtful read than the first. Whereas The Hunger Games sped along, because there was suspense in whether or not Katniss and her friends/family would survive, Catching Fire was more about exploring ideas and fleshing out relationships. It also raised the political stakes, and forces you to ask yourself what you would do in Katniss’ place. Would you stand up against oppression, or would you keep your head down and worry only about your own survival? The answers aren’t simple, and Katniss isn’t a cookie-cutter heroine who is a paragon of activism. She’s a strong girl, but she is also scared and more experienced with taking care of herself than she is with worrying about the larger picture. She is learning to think beyond day-to-day survivial to the kind of world she’d like to grow old in and raise children in.
I also love what Collins has done with Peeta, who matches Katniss in complexity. Honestly, I don’t understand the appeal with Gale. I sort of imagine him as Katniss’ Jordan Catalano – like, yeah he looks great leaning up against a locker…but he can’t read, you know? Granted, he’s a bit more than that, and they’ve been best friends forever, but still. I’m Team Peeta.
There are also some wonderful new characters in this book. Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason are both deceptively shallow at first, but stick with them. They are intriguing additions to the world of the Hunger Games.
The world of this trilogy gets more complex and mature in this book, and the slow simmer of most of the book gives way to a huge boil at the end when the stakes are raised even higher for everyone.
Collins has amazed me once again with Catching Fire, and I can’t get Panem and its inhabitants out of my head. I’ll be reading another book before reading the final installment, Mockingjay, because I’m just not ready for this story to end!...more
I had this book on my shelf for several years. It was one of those things where when it came out, the book was really popular and everyone was talkingI had this book on my shelf for several years. It was one of those things where when it came out, the book was really popular and everyone was talking about it so I picked it up with every intention of reading it only to have it get lost on my To Be Read bookshelves. After a healthy diet of sci-fi/fantasy-related stuff (and a token “chick lit” book for good measure), I decided I needed to get back to some good ol’, normal contemporary fiction.
Leave it to me to choose the contemporary novel off my shelf that is science fiction in the truest sense – fiction that incorporates current scientific advancements.
I was fascinated by the topic brought up in My Sister’s Keeper: do parents have the right to conceive a child in a test tube for the sole purpose of being a tissue match for a sick child they already have? And if so, do they have the right to continue to expect that the new child continue to donate organs and marrow and platelets without being asked? Does the child have the right to say no if it means the death of their sick sibling? Anna, the 13 year old protagonist of the book (the “designer baby”conceived to be a match for her sister, Kate, who has a rare form of leukemia), thinks that she should, and so she goes to a lawyer and sues her parents for medical emancipation.
Jodi Picoult does an amazing job of examining all sides of this issue by skillfully creating her cast of characters. She allows each character to narrate different chapters in the novel, and each has a distinct, lived-in voice. From 13-year-old Anna, to her mother Sara (40s), to her sarcastic lawyer Campbell, to her older brother Jesse, Picoult pulls off a hell of a ventriloquist act as she careens her characters through a desperate chain of events in which Kate’s life and Anna’s freedom hang in the balance.
In addition to the strength of the characters, Picoult brings the events of the book to a logical conclusion without it being at all predictable. In fact, the ending of the book slapped me in the face! I didn’t see it coming in quite the way it did. Yet, when it happened, I realized that it couldn’t have happened any other way.
My Sister’s Keeper is a book that had me crying as I read the ending on the subway, and had me thinking about it long after I put it down. If you’re looking for a book that will make you examine your own moral and ethical compass as well as make you feel deeply for the characters involved, I’d highly recommend this one....more
It’s the first book in the latest Young Adult trilogy that’s sweeping the nation. There’s already a film in the works, and when the last book in the sIt’s the first book in the latest Young Adult trilogy that’s sweeping the nation. There’s already a film in the works, and when the last book in the series, Mockingjay, came out a few months ago, the internet burst with excitement. That excitement was the first I’d ever heard of this series, and after several friends insisted, I decided to give the first book a whirl. This is quite possibly the first time I’ve ever thought that the hype should have been more. The Hunger Games is an intelligent, nuanced story featuring an amazing female protagonist that I hope every young girl makes her role model. Katniss Everdeen is a wonderful character, and Collins doesn’t shy away from putting her through hell. The story of The Hunger Games is surprisingly dark and political for a YA book, and the first-person present tense narration makes it a nail-biting read. I’ve already purchased the second book in the series, Catching Fire, and I know I will love it. The Hunger Games proves that not all YA sci-fi/fantasy fiction has to be painfully written, vapid, or feature helpless girls and glittery vampires....more
Ever since I read her fabulous short story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, years ago, I’ve been looking forward to a full-length novel by JulieEver since I read her fabulous short story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, years ago, I’ve been looking forward to a full-length novel by Julie Orringer. Her prose is elegant without being snooty, if that makes any sense, and she’s really great at capturing the voices of young women. So, I snatched up a hardcover copy of The Invisible Bridge the second it came out. It tells the story of a young, Jewish architecture student named Andras who falls in love with an older woman in Hungary just before the beginning of WWII, and the novel follows the couple through the war and its aftermath. I hate to say it, but I was a bit disappointed in this book. Perhaps it was the years of waiting for it, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations of what Orringer would or could do. At the start of the novel, it completely pulled me into the world of these characters. No lie – I found myself going to cafes more often just so I could read this book and feel like I was in Europe. (I’m so fucking pretentious and lame) The love story between Andras and Klara was interesting in the way that their age difference mattered then in a way it wouldn’t matter now (she wasn’t even 10 years older), and their personalities were such that watching them navigate their relationship kept me intrigued. But then The War Came. And that’s kind of the problem with historical fiction about WWII. There are just so many books set there, particularly books about the Jewish experience of it, that unless there is a real reason why this particular story needs to be told in this particular way, the whole thing falls flat. And so once it becomes yet another litany of hardships and horrors, it became clear that there was no reason for this story to exist except that Orringer wanted to tell the story of her family. That is a goal I greatly respect, but it doesn’t make a book interesting. There was one character, Andras’ best friend, Polaner, who was interesting because he was gay in addition to being Jewish. His portions of the story were fascinating and all too brief. I almost wish the novel would’ve been about him instead. Then The Invisible Bridge would have a reason to exist instead of being a superfluous Holocaust novel....more
I’ve been a Jennifer Weiner fan since her first novel, Good in Bed. Certain Girls is sort of a sequel to that book, in that it goes back to check in oI’ve been a Jennifer Weiner fan since her first novel, Good in Bed. Certain Girls is sort of a sequel to that book, in that it goes back to check in on Cannie Shapiro, now married to the love of her life, and the mother of a daughter who is about to celebrate her bat mitzvah. What I like about Weiner’s books is that she doesn’t sacrifice intelligence when using the conventions of “chick lit” (a term I hate, but it’s a term that, when you say it, people sort of know what you mean). Her characters aren’t catty and only interested in men and designer shoes. They tend to be regular women who are smart and ambitious and have very real, normal concerns. Cannie, however, is her most successful character in this way, and I feel like it has something to do with Cannie being her most autobiographical character. Both Cannie and her story have a depth to them that books like In Her Shoes don’t. I think Little Earthquakes comes close, but that has so many characters in it that it became a little unwieldy. Certain Girls also focuses on Cannie’s daughter, who is trying to become her own person in the shadow of a very overprotective mother, and she too is a believeable character. It was refreshing to have the narration ping-pong between Cannie and her daughter, getting to see Cannie (and ourselves) through someone else’s eyes. Not only was the story very true-to-life, but the ending was completely unexpected sad in a way that real life is often unexpected and sad. I would highly recommend reading Good In Bed and Certain Girls back to back....more
I had an awesome experience on the subway as I read this book when a woman noticed the cover and said “I have a friend in there!” Turns out, her frienI had an awesome experience on the subway as I read this book when a woman noticed the cover and said “I have a friend in there!” Turns out, her friend was author Cat Valente, and this girl (Veronica? Victoria? It was a “V” name, and we sadly didn’t exchange info or anything) was a huge Doctor Who fan. We ended up talking about fandom all the way to the end of the line, which was where we both were going, and it was really nice! It was nice to be able to talk to a complete stranger about something that, on the surface, seems incredibly silly, but means more to you than you even realize. Chicks Dig Time Lords is the first non-fiction book I read this year and has to do with women in Doctor Who fandom! I am so glad this book exists. Each of the essays about Doctor Who – by academics, fans, sci-fi writers, etc – analyzed a different aspect of fandom from a feminine perspective. From treatment at conventions to representation on Doctor Who itself, to involvement in fandom via fanfic or cosplay, they all reveal very personal connections to fandom, sometimes criticizing aspects of it, but more often than not celebrating its existence and celebrating the fact that women have always played a role in fandom, even if it hasn’t always been acknowledged specifically. Our numbers are growing every day, and books like this are a way for us to all come together, look each other in the eye and say, “I knew I wasn’t the only one!”...more
After The Sparrow, I wanted to continue on my sci-fi novel kick. My friend, Jean, who isn’t really the biggest sci-fi fan recommended this book to meAfter The Sparrow, I wanted to continue on my sci-fi novel kick. My friend, Jean, who isn’t really the biggest sci-fi fan recommended this book to me saying it was awesome and totally “up [my] alley,” so I gave it a whirl. What an intense, weird, hilarious, awesome, brutal, manic-depressive, testosterone-fuelled, craze-fest this novel is! I loved the directness and forcefulness of the prose. I loved the sense of humor. And the concept – a guy thinks that a sci-fi author’s book is a direct message to him from the Creator of the Universe telling him that he’s the only one with free will in the world and everyone else is a robot – is phenomenal. Dwayne Hoover is wonderful in his dysfunction, and Kilgore Trout, the sci-fi author, is an amazingly honest character. Waiting for them to meet as you know they will is as exciting as waiting for two cars that you see speeding toward the same intersection to crash. I’m lucky that the token penis owner that I read this year was the wonderfully crazy Kurt Vonnegut....more
As usual, Jennifer Weiner is great at telling a story, and even better at creating characters I care about. It seems, though, that in order for one toAs usual, Jennifer Weiner is great at telling a story, and even better at creating characters I care about. It seems, though, that in order for one to really enjoy this book, one needs to either be, or have been, a mother. I feel like I've enjoyed Weiner's other books more than this, and it's possibly because I related more personally to "Good In Bed" and "In Her Shoes." I might think of this book differently if and when I ever have a child.
This book has a lot of great ideas....but it should've been a non-fiction book. I would've enjoyed this a lot more had I not had to suffer through a "This book has a lot of great ideas....but it should've been a non-fiction book. I would've enjoyed this a lot more had I not had to suffer through a "story." ...more
I was never as into Angel as I was into Buffy, and reading about what happens to Angel after the end of the show didn't make me any more interested. BI was never as into Angel as I was into Buffy, and reading about what happens to Angel after the end of the show didn't make me any more interested. Beta George is ADORABLE, and Spike is a quality character as always. But honestly, unless you're a die-hard Angel fan, there's really not too much to this comic....more
I've always liked certain Bob Dylan songs, but I was never what one would call a fan. However, after reading this book, I've become one. It was an intI've always liked certain Bob Dylan songs, but I was never what one would call a fan. However, after reading this book, I've become one. It was an interesting look into the mind of a man whom many consider to be a musical genius. He has a very unique way of thinking, and I loved being thrust into his brain, not being entirely sure where I was or where I was going, but enjoying the trip nonetheless.
Also, I loved how his infectious, palpable love of music made me want to listen to people like Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson....more
One of the few instances in which the movie far surpasses the book. The book is overwritten and doesn't get to the point much of the time. The only thOne of the few instances in which the movie far surpasses the book. The book is overwritten and doesn't get to the point much of the time. The only thing I liked about it that I missed in the film was the in-depth look at the character of Melanie Wilkes. In the movie, she may come off to some as a bit of a pushover (though I never thought so), but in the book, there's no question that she's a woman of strength and substance...and not just a little bit of a badass! :)...more
How does one review published diaries? According to literary merit? Though Anais Nin is a beautiful, insightful writer, I feel strange talking about hHow does one review published diaries? According to literary merit? Though Anais Nin is a beautiful, insightful writer, I feel strange talking about her "writing style" when discussing a section of her journal. What I will talk about instead is the way that books often come into your life at a time when you need them. It happened to me once with 1984 (when I needed to crystalize exactly why writing was so important to me), then again with Everything is Illuminated (when I needed to be encouraged back into writing after I'd stopped for a long time).
I was inspired to walk into a bookstore and purchase Henry and June a week or two ago, because I've been doing a lot of self-examination recently, and having heard a lot about Anais Nin I thought her journals would be the best thing to accompany me on the beginning of my journey. Originally, I'd wanted a full volume of her journals, but everything was sold out, so I ended up buying Henry and June...and since I'd never read her before, I thought it would be a good introduction.
I am so grateful that this book came into my life when it did. All I knew about Nin before reading it had to do with the sex she had. People love to sensationalize, and so when one hears the name, Anais Nin, one automatically thinks "sexual awakening", "deviance", "erotica." What amazed me was how much we had in common outside of that - the insecurities, the way in which we see men and the world, the positive and negative aspects of a Catholic upbringing, and most importantly: the ongoing battle between loving submission and intellectual assertiveness; how difficult it is to be a strong woman while still holding on to one's emotional vulnerability. I learned so much from her insights...and while I won't be having three or four lovers any time soon (heh), I appreciate the spirit of adventure with which she tried to live her life. It's something I hope to emulate in my own way. I cried (wept) as I read the last paragraph of Henry and June, because it magically captured exactly where I am at this moment in my life:
"Last night, I wept. I wept because the process by which I have become woman was painful. I wept because I was no longer a child with a child's blind faith. I wept because my eyes were opened to reality - to Henry's selfishness, June's love of power, my insatiable creativity which must concern itself with others and cannot be sufficient to itself. I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe. I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. I wept because from now on I will weep less. I wept because I have lost my pain and I am not yet accustomed to its absence."
I'm a sucker for three things, it seems: Brian K. Vaughn, political graphic novels, and animals. I recently picked up a beautiful looking graphic noveI'm a sucker for three things, it seems: Brian K. Vaughn, political graphic novels, and animals. I recently picked up a beautiful looking graphic novel I happened upon in a comic book store called "Pride of Baghdad" written by Brian K. Vaughn (writer of Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man, and The Escapists). Its cover has a beautiful, close-up drawing of a lion's face, and Vaughn's name graces the top. When I read the synopsis on the back - a "based on true events" telling of what the streets of Baghdad were like during the beginning of our war with Iraq from the point of view of a pride of lions that escaped the Baghdad Zoo - I thought, "Brian Vaughn? ANIMALS?! POLITICS?! This book has EVERYTHING!"
Overall, I was not disappointed. This pride of lions escaping a zoo proved an effective literary parallel to an Iraqi citizenry thrust into a new world without a dictator. Vaughn uses this conceit to great effect as we watch this lion family hunt for food and fight for survival in the midst of shelling, rubble, and ruin. Important questions of what freedom means and what price one should be willing to pay for it are addressed as the lions fight amongst themselves and interact with other species. Human beings are relegated to the background, as dead bodies the lions must decide to eat or not, or as American soldiers.
And here, I will say that Vaughn's storytelling would be nothing without Niko Henrichon's stunning artwork. I've said this before: being a writer myself, I tend to notice the writing in comics more than the art. However, sometimes I'll come across an artist who is so obviously an active part of the storytelling that I can't ignore it. From the multi-faceted emotions on the animals' faces throughout the story, to the gut-wrenching, bullet-riddled conclusion, Henrichon's art ends up telling most of the tale, and tells it beautifully.
The one problem I had with Pride of Baghdad is something that is difficult for anyone who has chosen to tell a story through animals. There were certain plot points in the story, or bits of dialogue, that sounded and felt too human for me. While I understand that they are being used to represent the Iraqis, a point is also made in the story (by an old turtle who has seen it all) about how human beings destroy everything. I wonder how the story would've been different had the animals been allowed to be animals. What would an American invasion had looked like from the point of view of total innocence - not only innocence, but creatures who are free of human emotions like anger, jealousy....and pride?
Still, Pride of Baghdad was a satisfying, emotional read, cemented Brian K. Vaughn as one of my favorite writers, and introduced me to a wonderful artistic talent in Niko Henrichson. ...more
Bad Twin is a bad book. By all literary standards, the novel is a travesty: cliche, overwritten and underwritten in the wrong places with a hackneyedBad Twin is a bad book. By all literary standards, the novel is a travesty: cliche, overwritten and underwritten in the wrong places with a hackneyed mystery plot involving a private detective searching for a missing twin brother, the titular "bad twin", who happens to be the heir to one of the largest fortunes in the country.
Blah, blah, blah.
None of that matters, as the actual plot of the story is incidental. Bad Twin first made an appearance during Season Two of Lost. It was an unpublished manuscript the crash survivors found in the wreckage and had begun to take turns reading. In a tense moment, Jack Shepherd (the island's resident doctor) burns the last few pages of the manuscript, much to Sawyer's (the resident bad boy) outrage. I wish I were able to let Sawyer know that he isn't missing much. So, Bad Twin is a fake novel written by a fake author in a fake world created for a television show. Why buy it?
Well, the producers of Lost know that the show's fans are a geeky, conspiratorial lot. They'd have to be to keep up with the show's myriad plots and subplots. In order to keep them entertained (and interested in the show) during summer hiatus, the show's producers created The Lost Experience, an alternate reality game (ARG) that is being played in all the countries where Lost airs and involves several mediums including the internet (in the form of a faux Hanso Foundation website, as well as several blogs, websites, discussion boards...), the telephone (a Hanso Foundation phone number that needs to be called for clues), and television (where fake television ads for the Hanso Foundation contain game-related info). And contemporary literature, apparently.
Hyperion Books, a subsidiary of ABC, published Bad Twin as part of the game, going so far as to take out full page ads for it in the voice of game characters and "releasing" interview snippets with the "now deceased" author, Gary Troup (played by Thomas Calabro of Melrose Place fame), on several bookseller sites. The folks at ABC have gone all out to create a detailed alternate universe in which this game can be played, covering all sources of information and media outlets to amusing effect.
I purchased Bad Twin, because it supposedly contained that would be relevant to the game. While certain items were fun to pick out, none of them proved particularly illuminating as far as the game goes. The book also touches on certain themes that the show already covers with a more deft hand. To be fair, there might have been clues that I just missed. However, I think that can be blamed on the weak writing that forced me to skim large chunks. Perhaps if ABC had hired a better ghostwriter, I would have paid closer attention.
So, Bad Twin fails as a novel and as a game piece. It's an all-around failure. And yet.
I bought a copy, and so did 300,000+ other people (according to NeilsenBookscan). Perhaps the point of the book wasn't to be a literary success or to offer enormous insight into the game. Perhaps it was merely another way for ABC to cash in on the success of Lost through merchandising, and by having the worst writer possible - perhaps even writing it by committee in-house - they saved themselves the money that should've gone into quality and increased their profit margin.
If that's the case, then Bad Twin is not only the best book ever written, it is marketing genius....more
It tells the story of a teenage vampire slayer (sound familiar?), but in my opinion this character is a step up from Buffy. Melaka FrI. Love. Fray. :)
It tells the story of a teenage vampire slayer (sound familiar?), but in my opinion this character is a step up from Buffy. Melaka Fray is a 15 year old thief. In her futuristic world, vampires are known as "lurks", and the police chase her in flying cars. All of a sudden, she is greeted by an enormous, demon-looking Watcher who tells her that she is her generation's Slayer. Oh, and by the way, her brother had been killed years earlier by lurks, so she is not too keen on toussling with them. Yet, after the sad, senseless death of an endearing character, Fray becomes determined to follow her calling. Mayhem ensues.
I love Fray, because she is everything Buffy is not. She is not polished, or popular. She isn't perky. She is a street-smart thief who leads a hardscrabble life, and she makes no apologies for herself. I was also grateful as a female comic book reader that she is not the large-breasted, Amazonian type of heroine that so many fanboys enjoy. She has an athletic build, and her midriff is usually bare, but there's nothing slutty about her.
And my favorite thing about Melaka Fray: she has an enormous scar across one side of her face. I love that.
As for the story Whedon creates, his usual fantastic touches are there. Characters both major (like Fray herself) and minor (like her sister) are drawn with extreme detail and care and you care about every one. The story, meanwhile, speeds along and I couldn't read it fast enough. And just when you think you've hit the big plot twist, guess what? You haven't. There's a bigger one.
I would recommend this to anyone, whether you're a fan of the Whedonverse or not. There should be more issues of Fray. There should be a movie. There should be a show. There should be much, much merchandise. ...more
I've been of the mind recently that there is something slightly worse than bad. And that is: almost. Bad, one can deal with. It's easily classifiable,I've been of the mind recently that there is something slightly worse than bad. And that is: almost. Bad, one can deal with. It's easily classifiable, and can be (to paraphrase Susan Orlean in The Orchid Thief) "whittled down to a more manageable size." Almost is harder. Almost teases you with what could have been, only to disappoint you with what is. Almost is wasted potential. Almost lingers inside you like a dust bunny under a bed in a clean room. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber almost lives up to its promise.
I was drawn into the novel by seductive narrative voice leading me down the streets of Victorian London. It was a little bit cinematic and a little bit Dickensian, and I was immediately enthralled. Crimson Petal tells the story of Sugar, a 19-year-old prostitute who is renowned in London for doing everything. There is no depravity too extreme, as long as she's getting paid for it. Yet, that's not what makes Sugar truly interesting. She's interesting, because while she was raised in prostitution, she's literate and reads voraciously. She's also an aspiring novelist, hoping to better the plight of prostitutes by exposing their ills (and their secret vengefulness) to the world through her prose. Meanwhile, on the other side of London, there resides the Rackham family, and at its head, William Rackham, heir to a perfume company.
It's his meeting and subsequent infatuation with Sugar that's supposed to be the main story in the novel, but Faber packs the novel with intricate "secondary" characters that are much more interesting: Agnes, William's addled, very Catholic wife; Henry Rackham and Emmeline Fox, William's brother and the unorthodox humanitarian he loves; little Sophie Rackham, forced into observing her household rather than taking part in it; and Caroline, Sugar's soulful prostitute friend.
All of their stories are so captivating that it must have seemed a daunting task to do them all justice...so Faber opted not to try. Instead, the lives of the supporting characters peter out with no resolution, good or bad. Now, we all know that life is not a neatly packaged thing. Situations don't resolve themselves perfectly, and one could argue that the "point" of this book is that that's how life is. However, that "rationale" for ending things with no change or resolution has more often than not seemed like a cop-out to me. I did find the resolution for Sugar (which also involved Sophie) very interesting, but that, too, is glossed over. Sugar is more spoken about than spoken through, and I found that very unfair to her.
The Crimson Petal and the White has moments of brilliance, full characters, and an interesting narrative voice. It's just a shame that all of these wonderful parts don't add up to a more successful whole. I wouldn't tell you not to read it....at the same time, I will say that you shouldn't expect to be completely satisfied when you've finished. I wasn't. ...more
I enjoyed this one both as the second half of the Persepolis story, and as a story in its own right. While Satrapi did an amazing job capturing a chilI enjoyed this one both as the second half of the Persepolis story, and as a story in its own right. While Satrapi did an amazing job capturing a child's voice and conveying the story of the turmoil in Iran with a candid innocence, Persepolis 2 was much more interesting to me, because she was so honest about things in her life that made her much less sympathetic and heroic. She was a young woman with problems, and she didn't try to soften her image for her memoir. Perhaps I also related to her cultural conflict...the trying to be true to one's family, while also trying to be true to oneself and the modern world. I appreciated how she reflected that - it felt true....more
"He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of his existence, evinced so little interest in things which concerned him, an"He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of his existence, evinced so little interest in things which concerned him, and valued so little his conversation."
This line is typical of this novel. While I respect its place in history as one of the first books to openly address the issue of feminism within a marriage, I can't help but think it could have been written a little less....obviously. Everything felt like a "The More You Know" moment. Also, the whole Woman-Has-An-Affair-In-Order-To-Free-Herself motif continues to grate my last nerve - and this character has two affairs. (how "free" do you need to be?!) However, I did appreciate the novelty of the woman in the story actually taking action to leave her life and trying a life on her own for a while before killing herself. Most of these characters jump straight to the suicide... ...more
"I really do admire you a bit. You're an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I'm an intelligent person"I really do admire you a bit. You're an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I'm an intelligent person with no moral character at all, so I'm in an ideal position to appreciate it." - Colonel Korn, Catch-22
I really appreciate it when a book respects the intelligence of its readership. If a book is going to be "experimental" in any way, I love those that throw you into a world with no explanations - a literary baptism of fire (ie: Orwell's "Animal Farm"). Catch-22 is one of those books, and that's part of the reason why I thought it was so amazing!
Catch-22 tells the story of a US Army squadron based in Italy during WWII, and a disenchanted pilot named Yossarian who thinks everyone is trying to kill him. (not an unreasonable assumption in a war) Except that it's not an Italy, a military story, or a world that we're meant to immediately recognize. There is a logic in the book that all the characters seem to accept, but that doesn't make sense to the reader. Or, alternately, it makes too much sense to the reader, and that's when the book hits you hard. You start falling into it. You start siding with people. Then all of a sudden, you realize that you're siding with the wrong people. You start thinking to yourself how could I be agreeing with this asshole?! How can I be laughing! My favorite books are the ones that elicit visceral reactions from me...my chest gets tight, my stomach gets tied in knots, and I can't explain why I'm reacting positively/negatively - I just know that I am. There were so many of those moments in this book, I can't even begin to describe them all...
One of the things that impressed me most was the structure of the book - how all at once it seemed both haphazard, and entirely calculated. How each segment could stand alone, but that together they weaved an intricate, thought-provoking story... If you like historical novels, if you like political novels, if you like in-depth characters, if you like humor, if you like to think - I would highly recommend this book to you. ...more
I finished reading "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss a few days ago. Here's a synopsis:
"An unlikely and unforgettable hero, Leo Gursky is a surviI finished reading "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss a few days ago. Here's a synopsis:
"An unlikely and unforgettable hero, Leo Gursky is a survivor -- of war, of love, and of loneliness. A retired locksmith, Leo does his best to get by. He measures the passage of days by the nightly arrival of the delivery boy from the Chinese restaurant and has arranged a code with his upstairs neighbor: Three taps on the radiator means, "ARE YOU ALIVE?, two means YES, one NO." But it wasn't always so. Sixty years earlier, before he fled Poland for New York, Leo met a girl named Alma and fell in love. He wrote a book and named the character in it after his beloved. Years passed, lives changed, and unbeknownst to Leo, the book survived. And it provides Leo -- in the eighth decade of his life -- with a link to the son he's never known. How this long-lost book makes an extraordinary reappearance and connects the lives of disparate characters is only one of the small miracles The History of Love offers its readers." - from bn.com
My thought at the end of the book was - The ending brought the book up from good to very good. Still not great.
I wanted to love this book. I really did. I had loved the excerpt I'd read in the New Yorker, and I was expecting to love the whole thing. I particularly loved the characters she created: Leo Gursky - who was so vivid, and interesting, with such a distinct voice. Alma Singer - a fourteen year old girl in a novel I could actually relate to for once. Smart, but not annoyingly/precociously so. Body issues, but not to the point where she felt sorry for herself as a person. Bird - my only complaintis that I feel like he got short shrift. He's so interesting, I think he deserved a novel of his own. He was reduced to a plot device, and that really irritated me, because I liked him so much. To have his interest in his faith exist only to serve Alma's search was downright criminal.(and why is his religious fervence treated like an illness instad of as something that can actually help him through his father's death? Just curious...)
What bothered me was that Krauss seemed to be trying too hard to be "experiemental." (whatever that means anymore...) What I loved about Man Walks Into a Room, her first novel, was its language and its directness. How it told a story. But for everything I enjoyed about this book, there were two that either annoyed me or confused me.
There are some beautiful poignant passages in this book - about lost/new love, about identity, about growing older...but then there's a page of charts for no real reason. Alma tells her story in list form. There are pages with only one or two sentences on them (some successful, some not). I dont' feel like any of these "tricks" suited the story she was trying to tell. It didn't feel like that's the way the story needed to be told - also, this didn't feel like Krauss' voice to me. It felt as if she were doing an impression...or at the very least, she was a ventriloquist speaking through a dummy. I missed her voice.
I wanted to hear Nicole Krauss speak...I ended up hearing who she thought we wanted to hear. It's not the same thing. ...more
Yesterday, on the subway to work, I finally finished Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse." It took me longer to read than such a short book probably sYesterday, on the subway to work, I finally finished Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse." It took me longer to read than such a short book probably should have, but it's such dense writing that, in a way, I'm surprised it didn't take me longer. This has been said before by people much smarter than I, but I'll say it again: Virginia Woolf was a genius. As I closed the book, I said to myself I want to write. Like. That.
Synopsis (from the Webster Encyclopedia of Literature): "The novel is one of Woolf's most successful and accessible experiments in the stream-of-consciousness style. The three sections of the book take place between 1910 and 1920 and revolve around various members of the Ramsay family during visits to their summer residence on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. A central motif of the novel is the conflict between the feminine and masculine principles at work in the universe.
With her emotional, poetic frame of mind, Mrs. Ramsay represents the female principle, while Mr. Ramsay, a self-centered philosopher, expresses the male principle in his rational point of view. Both are flawed by their limited perspectives. A painter and friend of the family, Lily Briscoe, is Woolf's vision of the androgynous artist who personifies the ideal blending of male and female qualities. Her successful completion of a painting that she has been working on since the beginning of the novel is symbolic of this unification."
It's funny, but until I read that, I had trouble rationalizing the need for Lily Briscoe - but now it makes perfect sense...I did notice the comparison between male and female principles in Mr. & Mrs. Ramsay, and Woolf captured them so well. I loved that she captured the weaknesses in both positions - that neither one of them was completely right or completely wrong. Because while Mrs. Ramsay did much good, was extremely nurturing, and saw the value in talking about something for its own sake and not to make oneself look superior; she also did good deeds for the acclaim it would bring her, and was vain about her own beauty. Meanwhile, Mr. Ramsay was a great thinker, but he also sucked the energy out of a room when he got depressed, was never affectionate with his children, and thought his wife stupid. Strangely (or maybe not so strangely) enough, I felt a lot of love between the two. The only part of this book that I didn't particularly enjoy was the middle section, "Time Passes." While I understand why it was important to the novel it was, quite simply, boring. Lots of description of the house falling apart, of the elderly caretakers...time passes, but very slowly. ;)
The rest of the book, though, was brilliant! I related to so much of it - more than I probably would've liked to. Mrs. Ramsay's "good deeds", Mr. Ramsay's ambition...But I particularly identified with Cam and James' (two of the Ramsay children) relationship with their father, with James' objection to "tyranny", and Cam's indecision. They each seemed to personify the fluctuating views I have of my own father... :) What I love so much about Virginia Woolf's writing is that she manages to capture all the intricacies of a single moment and make it grand, epic. A person sitting down to dinner becomes a major, interesting event. Yet, as epic as these moments become, they are also extremely familiar. I was surprised that within this fictional family of English people at the turn of the century, I found so many versions of myself. I'm going to stop here, because I can't write about this novel more intelligently than it itself was written. The book should speak for itself in this case.