I first encountered Ken Follett when browsing Target's Bestseller section last summer. I picked up a copy of "The Pillars of the Earth" which was a lo...moreI first encountered Ken Follett when browsing Target's Bestseller section last summer. I picked up a copy of "The Pillars of the Earth" which was a long, well researched, sweeping work of historical fiction that took me about a month to finish, despite how much I enjoyed it. "World Without End" was very similar to "Pillars" in its format, style and storyline.
"World Without End" is actually described as a sequel to "Pillars", which was not exactly the case as it takes place 200 years later, with an entirely new set of characters. Though it makes reference to some of the characters in "Pillars", this is a new story altogether. The book is set in the middle ages, and Follett masterfully brings to life the raw brutality of a period where survival was never taken for granted, and where fate had a much greater hand in deciding the course of people's lives. Religious tensions highlight the book, a vital reason for the book's relevance in the minds of modern readers - the struggles his characters face are philosphical, and thus timeless.
Follet's language is rich and vividly descriptive. He develops his characters slowly and unpredictably, letting them simmer in your mind and allowing you to languish in their thoughts until you can't help but imagine that you know them intimately. Like in "Pillars", he writes from the perspectives of several different characters, but by emphasizing the critical moments in their lives where their stories intertwine, by the time you've finished you feel as though you've read one cohesive work instead of multiple narratives.
Yes, it's LONG. Almost a thousand pages long. And at times, the plot seemed to drag its feet a little, like Follett was just killing time before the next climactic part of the book. And there are many climactic parts of the book. Ultimately, it was satisfying, and as long as it took to finish, I'd read Follett again.(less)
It had been a long time since I'd enjoyed a book as much as I loved "Neverwhere." Sadly, I was a Nei...moreHow do I love this book? I cannot count the ways!
It had been a long time since I'd enjoyed a book as much as I loved "Neverwhere." Sadly, I was a Neil Gaiman virgin before this book (I still can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading one of his books). At this point I've read two of his novels and I can hardly wait to get my hands on the rest of them. He is so undeniably imaginitive, I'm almost envious.
"Neverwhere" takes place in an imaginary realm of London, the "Underground" which is inhabited by all of the people who "fell between the cracks" so to speak. The narrator somehow gets transported to this world when he rescues a beat up, apparently homeless girl on the side of the road, and what he discovers is so unbelievable that it takes a good three chapters before he convinces himself he's not dreaming. The journey they embark on is sprinkled with gruesome, wacky, unforgettable characters, such as the Marquis de Carabas, a mysterious conman whose true nature is not really certain until the very end of the book.
Though this book delved into the darkest kind of fantasy and was, at times, a little grisly, the constantly changing scenery and plots made it so that you didn't have to dwell on the bloody, nasty bits and instead allowed yourself to be delighted at the whimsical. I've heard it described as a dark "Alice in Wonderland" and I couldn't describe it any better myself. Some of the locations and characters are so ineffably bizarre that it seems impossible that Gaiman wasn't smoking some kind of hallucinogenic drug. And to that I say, keep on smokin' Neil! (less)
**spoiler alert** Mid-way through "Neverwhere", I realized that I was going to add Neil Gaiman to my very short list of favorite authors. I loved his...more**spoiler alert** Mid-way through "Neverwhere", I realized that I was going to add Neil Gaiman to my very short list of favorite authors. I loved his style so completely that I knew the next few weeks would be spent getting myself up to date with his published works, swallowing his novels whole in one sitting. I went out and bought two more of his books - "American Gods" and "Good Omens," which he co-authored with Terry Pratchett.
I read "Good Omens" first, only because it looked funny and I haven't read anything light-hearted in a while. Oh. My. God. It is truly rare to come across a book where something will make you actually laugh out loud. I had a few of those moments in "Good Omens," passages that were so utterly hysterical that I would look up around me, certain that everyone else around me would be collapsing into a fit of giggles as well, only to remember that I was, indeed, alone. And it made me sad, because I wanted to share. The book is just delightful.
"Good Omens" centers on a demon and an angel who have been living on Earth since the beginning of time who are about to face Armaggedon. Unfortunately for them, they've become quite comfortable with their respective lifestyles on our great planet and are less than thrilled at the prospect of the end of the world. The demon, Crowley, is charged with watching over the Antichrist, and when the bouncing baby boy gets misplaced, all hell (literally) breaks loose. Gaimain and Pratchett find hilarity in the most mundane subjects, and never miss an opportunity to insert sarcasm or ridiculous humor into an otherwise ordinary situation. I am still laughing at a recurring prbblem for Crowley (the demon) in the book, where every disc or tape he inserts into his shiny Bentley somehow transforms into Queen's greatest hits. I had "Bohemian Rhapsody" stuck in my head for three days and I love it!
If you haven't gotten the gist by now, I can comfortably and whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a quick, laugh-out-loud book that doesn't ever take itself seriously. Read it! You won't regret it! (less)
This book kept popping up on all of the forums I browse through for book titles and so a few months ago, I picked it up at the book store. I actually started it a few weeks ago, but this was another one of those books that took forever to get through. It's not that it wasn't good or too difficult - no, this book was incredible. It took me so long to get through because the only time I've had to read as of late is during my lunch break, and really this is the kind of book you should read in one sitting to fully appreciate its emotional value. I highly recommend that you read this book alone, with a box of tissues, and only if you have a good chunk of time to get through it.
I was truly moved and heartbroken by the themes and stories in The Book Thief, and by the overwhelming beauty of its most important message: that while humans are violent creatures, capable of committing gross atrocities against each other, our innate love and ability to care for one another as humans is what really makes living worthwhile. That while life can be cruel and inexplicably tortuous, there are those brief, shining moments of goodness that can show you the bigger picture. It's set in the Holocaust, so immediately you should know that you're going to be dealing with heavy subject matter, and yet it's seen in the eyes of a child, so what would otherwise be so unimaginably horrendous that it would be nearly impossible to describe, is viewed as a child would see it, in the plainest and simplest of forms, untainted by the justifications or elaborations an adult would add to the story. No - to a child there is only right and wrong and the world should always be as it should be, and not thrown askew by any alterior motives. The book is narrated through Death's perspective, a character as cold and unfeeling as they come, and yet at the end of the story even Death is moved by the crisis this child has suffered. It's not about a book thief, or the Holocaust. What I took away from this book is as simple and complex as morals go. Love. Love each other. Rejoice in the moments you have with the people you care about. Always tell people how you really feel about them. Take care of each other. Things every child knows, but that adults tend to forget.
I cried SO hard at the end. I was so heartbroken and thankful to be alive at once, and grateful for the world we live in now, however horrible it may seem at times. Though I couldn't see through the tears, and the ending was sad (as you can imagine - it's set in the Holocaust) it was a GOOD feeling.
I first learned about this book on Goodreads and was almost immediately intrigued by the concept - historical romance mixed with science fiction? Yes,...moreI first learned about this book on Goodreads and was almost immediately intrigued by the concept - historical romance mixed with science fiction? Yes, please! Hot red-headed Scots in kilts? Why, now that you mention it, I've always loved men in plaid!
Whew, that's better.
I'd been putting Outlander off because it's a monster - more than 800 pages of lengthy prose - but that proved to be one of its virtues. I couldn't get enough! The series is downright steamy, with plenty of lusty, intricately described sex scenes and heated romance, intense fighting and drama, political scheming, and a refreshing view of what it was like to be alive in Scotland in 1743.
Gabaldon's prose is a bit like traveling by bicycle. Sure, you can get to the same place as anywhere you'd normally drive, it just takes you a looot longer to get there and the view is much more scenic. She takes her time describing each particular detail with a rich, loaded vocabulary that always seems appropriate for 18th century Scotland and I did find myself skipping over a few passages I felt were a bit repetitive. But the romance between the lead characters is compelling and heartwrenching, utterly beautiful in its honesty and that is why I absolutely inhaled the 700+ pages in two sittings and dashed to the bookstore to purchase the next book in the series, "Dragonfly in Amber." It's the kind of book you think about long after you've put it back on the shelf.(less)
I’ve been hearing about this book since shortly after I finished “Twilight”, about how similar they are, about how much I would love it. I’d almost forgotten about it, but I saw it staring at me on my to-be-read list the other day and figured it would be a quick read. Also, the cover art is so lovely, isn't it? I think that's as much a part of why books appeal to us as anything else.
Well it was a quick read and I did enjoy it. It was just what I expected. A teenage angsty paranormal romance with great characters, an unusually sensitive heartthrob and a take on werewolves that I hadn't seen before. It was a smooth, easy book and I think most YA readers would be entertained and satisfied with the quality and content. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of a teenage girl and her werewolf boyfriend: Grace, hard and practical for a girl her age, who has always been drawn to the wolves who live behind her house and Sam, a werewolf caught in between the numb, wintery world of his pack and the summer days he longs for, when he can be himself again. The romance between them was sweet and heartwrenching, at times. The ending seemed just a little far-fetched, or maybe strange is the right word, but it did wrap up rather neatly.
So, I'd say the comparisons were accurate. All in all (and I hate to do this), if you liked Twilight, you'll probably like Shiver. (less)
Last month's book for my co-blogger and I's book club was "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. This was actually one of my picks, and if you've read any of my earlier posts, you know what a HUGE fan I am of his work. After "Neverwhere" and "Good Omens", I was fully expecting another delightful easy read. Well, when I first picked up the book, I realized immediately that it was different from the other books I'd read. His detail-oriented style was still apparent, but all of the whimsical and gruesome quirkiness I'd grown to love seemed to be missing from the pages. The subject material was presented in a very direct fashion, and yet after reading each passage you were left with the feeling that you weren't quite sure what just happened. To summarize without giving too much away, "American Gods" is, ironically, about how there really aren't any American Gods. The gods in the book have been brought to America in the minds of its settlers and the book follows the stuggle for power and survival of these obsolete gods in a world that is now ruled by technology and modern conveniences.
100 pages into the book, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish it. To be honest, it took me a few WEEKS to actually get into the book. The main character was dull (which, I believe, was purposeful). It wasn't suspenseful, but only just intriguing enough to make me wonder what the whole point of the story was.
When I got to the book club meeting, I was not very surprised that of everyone, only two of us managed to finish the book. It was a tough read. As I went through it, I kept thinking that it would be a fantastic choice to study in a Theology class, as it described a menagerie of deities from a wide variety of cultures and times in unique lights and I wanted to know more about their back stories. Ultimately, when I'd finished the book, though I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, I thoroughly appreciated it. It was a smart book, the kind you have to appreciate for its themes, the underlying message, the subtleties that you might not pick up on the first reading. Gaiman is a brilliant writer and if anything, I am even more impressed by his talent. He tackled a very difficult subject matter and wrote about it unapologetically, in a way that wasn't necessarily meant to be read by the masses, but loved by a specific following that would appreciate it for what it is and not what they expected it to be.
UPDATE: After I re-read this book a few months later and had a chance to really understand the concepts, I grew to love it. This is one of those books that you can't really appreciate with only one reading. It was worth the re-read and only make me love Neil Gaiman more. (less)