I'm writing this review while on medication, so forgive me if it's a bit scatterbrained...
This book was, as promised, a blend of fantasy and period ro...moreI'm writing this review while on medication, so forgive me if it's a bit scatterbrained...
This book was, as promised, a blend of fantasy and period romance. While I was reading it, I recall taking breaks and thinking about how formulaic it seemed -- section 1 was almost entirely lifted from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, while section 2 shared a lot of similarities with Bronte's Wuthering Heights. The good news, though, is that even though there were a lot of similarities in terms of plot and characterization, the author did a great job of creating believable characters of her own and did an excellent job creating dramatic tension.
The author's unique touch and contribution to the plot helped lift the story above and beyond mimicry and added welcome elements of mystery and fantasy. After having woven these points into the first two sections, she was able to move into her own plot in the third section and give us a chance to see her own talent at storytelling. The final resolution was satisfying, while still implying that there's more to come. However, it's definitely not a cliff-hanger ending.
I'm pretty happy that I took the time to read this. In the absence of more of Susanna Clarke's work, this author neatly filled in and delighted me and made me want to stay up late just to read more. I'm interested to see if her future work continues to live up to this novel. :)(less)
I've just ended a friendship with someone who fits the profile for BPD, and have consequently been reading more about the disorder. This book is incre...moreI've just ended a friendship with someone who fits the profile for BPD, and have consequently been reading more about the disorder. This book is incredibly helpful -- even for friends/family of someone suffering from the disorder -- and includes several detailed chapters on causes of the disorder, the typical course of the disorder, brain chemistry of BPDs, treatments, and a chapter for friends and family.
I admit that I've only briefly glanced and read other books concerned w/ BPD (notably: Stop Walking on Eggshells, The Borderline Mother, and I Hate You, Don't Leave Me), but this book is by far the most well written, well organized, and extensive book on the subject.
I really enjoyed my first exposure to Hemmingway when I read his short story, Hills Like White Elephants. Reading this book has actually lessened my e...moreI really enjoyed my first exposure to Hemmingway when I read his short story, Hills Like White Elephants. Reading this book has actually lessened my enthusiasm for his writing, despite the fact that there are a few moving short stories in this collection.
Most of the stories are tragic or sad; however some of them I find myself having trouble relating to, because much of the suffering seems to be caused by a general phobia or mistrust of women. I hear that this is typical of Hemmingway -- that most of his characters seem to have trouble interacting with women, and that they also have trouble expressing themselves, much like one of the central characters in this collection of stories.
I get the feeling like I would probably have gotten more out of these short stories if I were a boy who was looking for stories about bonding with other men or bonding with my father.
Combined with the sparse narrative style and, later in the collection, a strong trend for stories of ex-patriots, I felt more estranged from this collection of stories than I felt connected. There were a few stories that I did feel touched by, but, for me, the collection was only worth reading for academic interest.(less)
This really is the most accessible of all of James Joyce's writing, and a great launching point for getting into the rest of his books. What's really...moreThis really is the most accessible of all of James Joyce's writing, and a great launching point for getting into the rest of his books. What's really great about this collection is that each of the stories can stand on its own, but as a whole they work cohesively to paint a picture of Dublin as Joyce saw it.(less)
A very difficult read -- unless you have a background in Shakespeare, religion, classics, and Irish culture, politics, and history, you'll have troubl...moreA very difficult read -- unless you have a background in Shakespeare, religion, classics, and Irish culture, politics, and history, you'll have trouble keeping up. (If this is you -- go get Ulysses Annotated. It'll help.) But beyond that, this book is very detailed, thoughtful, crude, and artful. Well worth the time and effort to read it.(less)
This supplementary book of annotation and background info is indispensable if you are giving Ulysses a go. Keep in mind that the annotations themselve...moreThis supplementary book of annotation and background info is indispensable if you are giving Ulysses a go. Keep in mind that the annotations themselves are somewhat intimidating -- averaging a page of notes per page of Joyce's writing. Including the background and plan for each section (for example, Joyce has a character from the Odyssey, a set of colors, an organ, a theme, a time of day, etc. for each of his sections, and this is included before each section of notes), this book is actually larger than Ulysses itself. However, it enriches the text tenfold and is well worth investing in. (less)
This was a difficult read, especially since this edition has all of the footnotes in the back of the book rather than directly beneath the text. I und...moreThis was a difficult read, especially since this edition has all of the footnotes in the back of the book rather than directly beneath the text. I understand that the Norton Critical Edition not only has the notes beneath the text, but also includes supplementary material -- a great boon for anyone who isn't up to date with Irish political history, Irish slang, Greek & Roman classics, religious scholars, etc.
While definitely demanding, the writing itself was actually really rewarding. Joyce has a way of creating very vivid and sensual scenes, bringing to life both the breathless heights of ecstasy and the grimy feeling of poverty and decay. (less)
I adored reading this journalistic account of Luca Turin and his research into the human ability to perceive scent. The author does an excellent job o...moreI adored reading this journalistic account of Luca Turin and his research into the human ability to perceive scent. The author does an excellent job of making some very technical details digestible for a non-scientific audience. I'm actually very happy with how well into a well-paced and captivating account of Turin.
The book was noticeably one-sided -- however, the author does go to good lengths to acknowledge and explain for this. (less)
This book is written by Luca Turin, who is the subject of another book I've read, The Emperor of Scent. I just recently had this book recommended to m...moreThis book is written by Luca Turin, who is the subject of another book I've read, The Emperor of Scent. I just recently had this book recommended to me by a man of extraordinary taste and keen intellect -- and so I'm looking forward to reading this soon. (less)
**spoiler alert** I found this translation of Gilgamesh to be very easy to read, while still maintaining the integrity of the story. The story itself...more**spoiler alert** I found this translation of Gilgamesh to be very easy to read, while still maintaining the integrity of the story. The story itself was both very captivating and very boring, at different points. It interesting to read about Gilgamesh and Enkidu while they encounter and surmount different challenges of life -- everything from self-awareness to the realization that all things must die. However, at other points in the story, it felt like a narrative of two three year olds with super human powers and unlimited riches.
The highlights of this epic include the 'taming' of Enkidu -- complete with a seven day long sex scene; the surreal nightmares that litter the story; the rejection of the sexual advances of a great goddess; the quest and subsequent encounters in the search of immortality; and a recounting of a flood that is almost a verbatim variant of Noah and the Ark.
Overall, it tackles a lot and is a quick and interesting read -- but like most of the epics that I've been reading lately, I find that I have trouble relating to the central male characters. (less)
I got this book about a year ago, because I'd enjoyed Susanna Clarke's novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel. This collection of short stories (one...moreI got this book about a year ago, because I'd enjoyed Susanna Clarke's novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel. This collection of short stories (one of which is long enough to be considered a novella) takes place in the same universe as her novel, and focuses on the same Victorian narration of strange fairy stories. I finally picked it up earlier this year, and sat down to give it a serious read.
There are an excellent variety of stories, some focused on magicians, and some focused on fairies. While many of them focus on the maliciousness of fairy-kind, some of the darker tones of these stories are balanced by whimsy and chance.
This was a very excellent follow-up to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, as well as a brilliant stand alone collection.(less)
This is one of my favorite books, and the first I read by Mercedes Lackey. The rest of her books seem to be a variant on this basic theme... But as fa...moreThis is one of my favorite books, and the first I read by Mercedes Lackey. The rest of her books seem to be a variant on this basic theme... But as far as her books go, this -- and the rest of The Last Herald-Mage Series -- is probably the pinacle of writing on this theme.
When I first read this, my ability to relate to the protagonist hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a good long cry, read it again, and have since always kept a copy handy. I typically read this when I'm having a really rough week/month/what-have-you. Interestingly enough, I've met several other people who have read this and have found it to be a really good read as a result of being able to relate to growing up and feeling like the protagonist.(less)
So this is the second book that Robin McKinley wrote using the Beauty and the Beast plotline. It is definitely different than her first attempt -- not...moreSo this is the second book that Robin McKinley wrote using the Beauty and the Beast plotline. It is definitely different than her first attempt -- notably because her protagonist in this book knows that she's beautiful rather than beating herself over her lack of good looks the entire book.
It felt as though this telling of the story was a bit more grown-up in some ways, and took a lot more risks with deviating from the original plot. I was left feeling as though the story was more surreal and that the progression of the plot and romance was more internally driven rather than being pounded into the reader...
I'm still not sure what I think of the whole thing. I know that I enjoyed it, and am still mentally processing it -- a good sign, since books that bore me quickly get discarded in my mental process. I enjoyed it enough to go out and get another book by Robin McKinley, who has proven time and again that she's really good at adapting fairytales to fantasy stories.
I will say that those expecting a treatment of a fairytale similar to Deerskin or Spinde's End will most likely be disappointed, since this book is a lot more relaxed and self-driven.
I'm not sure if this is at all a useful review since I both read the book and wrote the review while really sick and exhausted, but I'm writing it while its still fresh in my mind and I'm still thinking about it...(less)
**spoiler alert** I grabbed a copy of this in order to help while away time on my trip to Shanghai and back. (Sixteen hour international flights just...more**spoiler alert** I grabbed a copy of this in order to help while away time on my trip to Shanghai and back. (Sixteen hour international flights just aren't tolerable without something engaging to read.) This is the first book I've read of Palahniuk's, and I have had numerous recommendations to read books by him.
On the whole, I can't say I loved it. I found myself really fascinated by his use of experimental narrative techniques, and how he made them very comfortable and friendly for the reader by integrating them with a conversational narrative tone. His writing was very well crafted.
However, the plot itself rang very false -- I routinely read fantasy, and have yet to see a more fantastical protagonist than the one in this story. Her family, her friends, and her love interests seemed really fabricated. More over, it seemed like the story was written by a coffee house intellectual who was wanted desperately to know that the world of beauty and fashion really was being run by people who knew that they were vapid and plastic and were just too trapped by their lives to escape it. That, interspersed with a maze of hormonal drugs, sex changes, and histrionic social antics, was pretty much the bulk of this book.
I would have loved to have tossed it aside. I would have loved to have found another book on the plane that I could read. (I was sadly out of English books at this point in my trip.) But the thing that prevented me from tossing it aside, and the thing that ultimately kept me from abadoning the book or even my hope that the plot would somehow come out of its self-indulgent sprial into really fantastical plot twists, was that Palahniuk kept throwing in these really brief scenes of incredible beauty, openness, and vulnerability.
I'm pretty certain that he meant for the reader to feel the contrast between these scenes and the sarcastic, jaded feel of the rest of the book. I'm pretty certain that the protagonist was supposed to be that much more easy to relate to as a result. But...I just wasn't there.
There was enough substance in this book to make me think and consider a lot of the themes. There was enough in the book to make me consider reading another of Palahniuk's books. But this is not a book that I will keep or cherish, nor one that I really think of as life defining or life changing. (less)
Terry Pratchett's second story following Moist Von Lipwick lives up to the original story, Going Postal. In this book, Moist is finding his life as a...moreTerry Pratchett's second story following Moist Von Lipwick lives up to the original story, Going Postal. In this book, Moist is finding his life as a postal official dull; coincidentally, there is a need for a new bank chairman that the Patrician wants to see filled. Hijinks ensue from there.
This book satirizes economic theory, the gold standard, old-money families, bankers -- all while including the usual cast of Ankhmoorparkian characters. The villians of the story, Cosmo and Pucci, were rather trite... but well worth dealing with in order to witness a rather terrifyingly-enthusiastic lapdog, a lecherous lich, an etiquette-for-ladies-obsessed golem, and an angst ridden turnip. Moist, as usual, is a fantastic main character. (The only one I prefer to read about more is Vimes, in the nightwatch books.)
I will say that I would have enjoyed reading more about Adora Belle Dearheart. There really wasn't enough of her -- but then again, I'm not sure you can get enough of an edgy nicotine-addicted woman who knows how to use her stilleto heels to get what she wants.
Great book to relax to. Lives up to the Pratchett standard of satire, touches on lots of economic theory while still be ridiculous and entertaining, and is a great way to pass part of a sixteen hour flight.(less)