Another well written zombie novel. Zone One was an interesting contrast to Max Brooks's World War Z; the latter focused on international relations andAnother well written zombie novel. Zone One was an interesting contrast to Max Brooks's World War Z; the latter focused on international relations and how various countries would react to a global zombie pandemic, whereas Zone One follows just one character and his personal experience with the zombie plague. I liked the general outline of the book, but I am generally not a fan of the technique of constantly hopping back and forth between the past and the present; it was often very hard to determine when the particular section was taking place, and I found it distracting (I tend to prefer plot-driven novels). I find zombie stories to be a creative means for an author to reflect upon the human condition and how we react in the face of bizarre adversity, and this one was no different. Less action, more reflection. ...more
Although I enjoyed the story of Oskar's quest to find the origin and meaning of his father's key, I felt a certain distance from this book, which I thAlthough I enjoyed the story of Oskar's quest to find the origin and meaning of his father's key, I felt a certain distance from this book, which I think was mostly because it was the first book I read on an e-reader. It still had the various pictures and illustrations, but it didn't engage me in the same way I think the traditional book would. I would consider re-reading this again in the future as a book to see if I feel differently. ...more
**spoiler alert** This is, without a doubt, the weirdest book I have ever read. I had to slog through it because I just could not relate to the charac**spoiler alert** This is, without a doubt, the weirdest book I have ever read. I had to slog through it because I just could not relate to the characters, and not because they were "freaks." The family dynamic was so bizarre and completely foreign to me that I was constantly frustrated throughout the book. Arty's megalomania, Oly's complete dedication to Arty and her desperation to be accepted, Lil and Al's utter blindness to the destruction that Arty is causing both within and outside of their family... I could not relate at all and I found myself wanted to reach through the pages and give everyone a good shake. I was so frustrated by the theme of the importance of standing by and supporting one's family, yet they closed their eyes to the fact that Arty was destroying them. Perhaps that was the point- when we close our eyes to the harsh reality of the failings of our loved ones, we allow ourselves to be destroyed. ...more
Carney explores what he has dubbed "the red market": the black market of human tissue, including organs, blood, hair, eggs, etc.
I picked this book upCarney explores what he has dubbed "the red market": the black market of human tissue, including organs, blood, hair, eggs, etc.
I picked this book up after hearing an interview with the author on NPR, and I couldn't wait to read it. Ultimately, however, I was disappointed in Carney's presentation of the information. While he brings to light horrible instances of people taking advantage of those in desperate situations (e.g., women who are willing to sell their kidneys just to get enough money to survive), his overall tone is of condemnation for all people involved. This condemnation is not limited to the brokers who take advantage of the other parties involved, but also people who are so poor that they feel their only option for survival is to sell an organ or their eggs and those who receive organ transplants (whether by legal or illegal means). This attitude was pervasive throughout the book and I found it distracting and frustrating. Additionally, his focus was mostly on India, failing to explore markets in other areas of the world, of which there are many.
On the whole this book was interesting but fell short of my expectations. ...more
I was intrigued by the premise of this book and excited to read it, but I was ultimately disappointed. Instead of telling Clark Rockefeller's story, MI was intrigued by the premise of this book and excited to read it, but I was ultimately disappointed. Instead of telling Clark Rockefeller's story, Mark Seal told his own story, infusing the book with anecdotes about what happened as he investigated the 'serial imposter,' name-dropping and all. Compared to Laura Hillenbrand's 'Unbroken,' which is perfectly woven into a novel-like story, Seal presents his investigation in fits and starts, and manages to make a fascinating case somewhat dull. ...more
I enjoyed Larson's The Devil in the White City, and so I had very high hopes for this story about the American ambassador to Germany and his family duI enjoyed Larson's The Devil in the White City, and so I had very high hopes for this story about the American ambassador to Germany and his family during Hitler's rise, especially in light of the hype surrounding it upon its release. However, I really struggled through this book. It was overly detailed with the day-to-day occurrences in the life of the ambassador (who was rendered very dry and boring in Larson's account), and even the 'sordid' details of his daughter's social/sex life weren't interesting enough to pull me in. This was obviously a very volatile time in Germany's history, but Larson just didn't bring it to life and suck me in.
It would certainly appeal to someone interested in history or diplomatic relations, but as someone who was hoping for a more gripping or intriguing story (like Hillenbrand's Unbroken, which is now my personal benchmark for historical fiction), I was disappointed. It was basically 305 pages of foreshadowing for five pages of action, tops.
Perhaps part of the appeal of Devil was that it was set in Chicago, where I live, and had detailed scenes about the city and the fair, which was interesting to me as an urban planner. I have only visited Berlin once and am not intimately knowledgeable about it, so I didn't feel as attached to it in the same way.
Great for history buffs, anyone who has spent time in Germany and/or Berlin, or someone in the State Department. ...more
I have to admit that I'm more a novel person than a short story person. I want all the details, the background, the full story. As a result, I'm oftenI have to admit that I'm more a novel person than a short story person. I want all the details, the background, the full story. As a result, I'm often left slightly unsatisfied by short stories. However, I thought that Russell's stories were creative, strange, and intriguing nonetheless. I'm looking forward to reading Swamplandia!, the follow-up novel based on the first short story in this book, 'Ave Wrestles the Alligator,' and learning more about the Bigtree family.
Recommended for lovers of short and bizarre stories. ...more
**spoiler alert** Room, the story of a woman and her five-year-old son trapped in an 11x11 room and how they manage to survive their captivity, was a**spoiler alert** Room, the story of a woman and her five-year-old son trapped in an 11x11 room and how they manage to survive their captivity, was a fascinating and unique read, made all the more poignant and frightening, I think, by its influence by the story of Austrian Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter locked in their cellar for 24 years.
I thought that Donoghue did a very good job of working out a lot of the intricacies that go into a story like this, including how Room would work and be constructed, how the characters would function in this situation, what it would be like for them to adjust to life on the outside, and how the people around them would react to them. I also appreciated that the story was told from the perspective of the five-year-old, Jack, because it made me consider what the world is like as soon through the eyes of a child, especially one who doesn't know anything about the world except as viewed through television and as explained by his mother.
A comment made by Officer Oh about how none of the neighbors questioned Old Nick struck me. While it's easy for us to express disbelief at the possibility of this kind of thing happening (how could the neighbors not know?), the book also touches on how we are so loathe to invade the privacy of others (at least non-celebrities) and maintain the attitude that what people do in the privacy of their own homes is their business, and are willing to turn a blind eye to things that are unusual or out of order.
On the whole, a thought-provoking and, at times, gripping read. ...more
I found bits and pieces of this book very entertaining, funny, and enlightening. I loved reading about how a restaurant kitchen REALLY works, about hoI found bits and pieces of this book very entertaining, funny, and enlightening. I loved reading about how a restaurant kitchen REALLY works, about how his love of food developed, and some of his other work experiences. I also appreciate how he doesn't shy away from some of the grim realities of the food service industry or his struggles with drugs and alcohol. However, I could have done without the interludes of poorly disguised ego-stroking and entire chapters about his co-workers. His chapter on his trip to Japan and his description of the best meal he ever ate reminded me so much of my own experience in Tokyo where I, too, had the best meal I ever ate made me want to jump back on a plane to Narita. On the whole it was entertaining and I would recommend it to foodies and to anyone who has worked in the food service industry. ...more
I admittedly enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I found the main characters, Emma and Dexter, engaging, but at the same time Emma always sI admittedly enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I found the main characters, Emma and Dexter, engaging, but at the same time Emma always seemed at arm's length, which was disappointing. However, after finishing it I found the book stayed with me longer than I expected, which was a nice surprise. I would give this 3.5 stars...more
As with her previous books, Mary Roach once again manages to make science, in this case space travel, relatable, understandable, interesting, and hilaAs with her previous books, Mary Roach once again manages to make science, in this case space travel, relatable, understandable, interesting, and hilarious. It's not often that you expect to laugh out loud while reading about the cramped conditions of a space capsule, but Roach finds the human element in everything, the one we can relate to, and manages to make us feel connected to experience, even if we're not astrophysicists or claustrophobic. I am consistently amazed at the people she persuades to let her interview them and/or participate in wild activities (e.g., getting on a parabolic flight, using the NASA zero-gravity training toilet) all with the goal of giving the most in-depth understanding possible of the topic. She's definitely on my 'People I'd Most Like to Have a Drink with' list.
Recommended for my fellow nerds; anyone with an interest in space, space travel, and science in general; and anyone who has an appreciation for investigative journalism with a humorous bent. ...more