I was given the opportunity to read this through the GR First Reads contests -- thanks!
I have to state up front that this really isn't my genre. The w...moreI was given the opportunity to read this through the GR First Reads contests -- thanks!
I have to state up front that this really isn't my genre. The whole "saving the kingdom" thing doesn't really do it for me -- however, I found this book to be well written, and it held my interest.
Easie Damasco is a lovable rogue, a thief who seems to have a knack for getting himself into trouble. As the story opens, Easie's sticky fingers have landed him in a very tight position -- here's the opening line:
"The sun was going down by the time they decided to hang me."
Isn't that a great sentence? Anyone would be intrigued by that!
Damasco has tried to pilfer supplies from the warlord, Moaradrid, and this crime lands him in Moaradrid's army. As the thief plots his escape, he inadvertently steals the one thing that will seal his fate as Moaradrid's enemy.
Along the way, Damasco meets several people who are intent on using him to their advantage, as well as one gentle giant who only wants to return to his home and family.
There's a lot to like here, although I'm sure fans of the genre would probably appreciate it more than I did -- there's a lot of intrigue, with battles, plots, and running . . . lots and lots (and lots) of running.
Which leads me to my biggest complaint about the book -- I would have liked the story to have more depth to it, rather than relying on Easie's perpetual flight from danger to provide all the action. Maybe this is expected in this type of book, but I found it to be one-dimensional.
I also found Easie's extremely slow transformation into a more heroic character irritating. I prefer a more dramatic character development, especially when dealing with an anti-hero -- I want to see them really hit the lowest lows, then rise to great heights when they realize they can be greater than what they start out as. Easie gets there in the end (come on, you knew he would!), but his emotional progression was more of a shuffle than a roller coaster ride.
Which is not to say that Damasco isn't a likable character -- I liked him very much, but he was pretty obviously a good guy right from the start, even if he wasn't a saint.
My favorite character, though, was Saltlick, the giant. Tallerman really shines here, making the giant's personality come through primarily through his actions. Saltlick is a truly heroic character, and I'm hoping he'll play just as large a part in Tallerman's next Easie Damasco book.
I think this book is definitely worth picking up, especially if you love these kinds of stories. I'm handing this copy over to my husband, who is definitely a big fan of the genre -- I'm interested to see how it fares with someone who can really appreciate it.(less)
For some reason I'm finding it harder and harder to get all the way through a book, even when it's interesting. My attention span seems to be getting...moreFor some reason I'm finding it harder and harder to get all the way through a book, even when it's interesting. My attention span seems to be getting shorter, with the computer and TV calling to me whenever I'm reading. Hopefully this is a temporary problem, but it probably explains why it took me sooooo long to finish this book, even though I found it fascinating and beautifully written.
Possibly my entire brain is turning to mush, because I'm finding it difficult to write a coherent review, so I'll just jot down some random thoughts on the book and be done with it.
I really appreciated a tiny detail that the author included -- he took the time to show the pronunciation for many of the French names. Personally, I find it off putting to keep running into a name I'm unfamiliar with and can't sound out, and every single time it comes up I'll feel irritated. I liked that the author was considerate enough to include the pronunciations.
I was shocked at the crimes the author details in this book -- not just the ones committed by the subject, Joseph Vacher, but other crimes that would seem contemporary if read out of context. I suppose I have the naive view that past times were idyllic, peaceful times, but the author makes clear that people then had the same problems and fears that we have today.
I was also surprised by how advanced forensic science was in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They knew about fingerprints and were able to use them as evidence (although it was still quite a while before they were systematically catalogued -- at that time Bertillon measurements were the favoured method of identifying repeat offenders), there were tests to identify the presence of blood and semen (and also to determine if blood was human or animal), investigators were aware of blood patterns in determining how a crime was committed, and many other things that we see now on TV shows like CSI. I found this part of the book particularly interesting.
The book examines the problems of determining sanity when a person commits a crime, and this reads very much like a discussion one would have today. I was also interested to see that there were then -- as today -- those opposed to the death penalty.
This is one of those wonderful books that rambles a bit (in a good way), touching on various related subjects as it recounts the main story. I happen to love stories told in this way -- I love history and science, so getting an extra helping of one while reading about the other is a nice bonus.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in science, history, true crime, forensic science and police work, or anyone who just enjoys a well written book about a very interesting subject.
EDIT: See, I said my brain was mush -- I completely forgot to mention one of the most interesting parts of the book! The author examines the lives of those FALSELY accused of Vacher's crimes -- this was very difficult to read, but so fascinating. I thought it had an interesting parallel to the way crime is handled in the media today.
I also wanted to mention the cover of the book (hardcover) -- I found it very well done. The cover looks like a reproduction of an old newspaper, with a bloodstain spilled onto it. It's gruesome, but certainly eye catching.
I love weird -- I mean, REALLY love it. A...moreI picked this up around Halloween, hoping for something slightly spooky, kind of like The Mothman Prophecies.
I love weird -- I mean, REALLY love it. Ancient aliens, impossible pre-history, cryptozoology, count me in. So of course a book like this -- wow, we're exploring REAL MONSTERS! -- makes my heart beat a little faster and my eyes twinkle.
But this books just . . . wasn't it. For me, it was just okay, not because it was poorly written, but because the subject doesn't really appeal to me. Vampires, zombies, ghosts, werewolves, fairies, mermaids, dragons, angels, demons? Eh, not so much.
The first part of this book -- The Nature Of Monsters: On The Reality Of The Impossible -- was very interesting. The author explores various types of monsters -- undiscovered animals, cryptids such as sasquatch, pointing out that these are creatures that are scientifically possible, even probable (there are many examples of even very large animals that were believed to be myth until comparatively recently); fictional monsters, like Frankenstein or the creature from the Black Lagoon; the final category being everything else, entities that are reported by many people every year, but which we acknowledge cannot exist.
But Greer's point is that these creatures DO exist. Perhaps in ways that are quite different from what we currently believe, but real nonetheless.
Although this first part included very interesting information on studies on a folkloric figure called the Old Hag (this part is well worth reading), this is where Greer lost me. I might love weird stuff, but this just goes a bit too far for me. Try as I might, I just can't open my mind to zombies or vampires, etc. I don't believe in ghosts or angels, I don't believe in werewolves or mermaids or dragons. I would be open to exploring these creatures within an historical context -- is it possible that there were real animals that resembled mermaids or dragons at some point in time? what about a doorway into a parallel dimension, as in The Mist? -- but I just can't believe in the physical reality of these creatures. Until there is proof, I'm not a believer.
Unfortunately, a solid 3/4 of this book is devoted to the exploration of these creatures as genuine physical and/or spiritual beings. And, if this is where your interests lie, this book is excellent -- extremely detailed and well thought out. For this reason, I gave the book three stars, and I'm sure someone interested in these subjects would fairly rate it higher.
I would recommend this book for readers who are more open-minded than myself, for those who are already interested in these sorts of subjects. If you are the sort of person who believes in ghosts, angels or fairies, I think you'll find a lot of good information in this book.(less)
I won this as part of a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway -- thanks!
Before reading this book ( written by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes), I was co...moreI won this as part of a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway -- thanks!
Before reading this book ( written by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes), I was completely unfamiliar with the author's company. I'd seen TOMS shoes once or twice, but I really didn't "get it" -- I'm not a shoes girl, and they didn't look like anything all that special to me. Well, after reading this book, I'm buying TOMS for the whole family, LOL. I love the concept behind TOMS -- for every pair of shoes purchased, the company donates a pair to someone in need. How wonderful is that?
And that is the message of this book -- it's possible to do GREAT things while still earning a living. At first glance, it's a pretty naive philosophy, yet this book is full of examples of people who did just that -- took a good idea and ran with it, earning money, sure, but also giving back to the community.
This is a must read for anyone looking for advice on starting or running a company with a conscience, but I think it would be an inspiring read for almost anyone. I think we all have our little pet projects, charities we'd like to donate to or work with, or ideas we have for helping to make the world a better place, but sometimes it's just so hard to figure out where to start. Mycoskie writes in a simple, breezy style -- very upbeat and always positive -- and he's all too happy to help you figure it all out.
Wow -- I've got a lot to say in this review, and it's hard to know where to start . . . I guess I should say first that I won this in a First Reads gi...moreWow -- I've got a lot to say in this review, and it's hard to know where to start . . . I guess I should say first that I won this in a First Reads giveaway. Thanks!
I signed up for this giveaway on a whim -- I like animals (although I prefer horses to dogs), but a memoir about animal rescue wouldn't necessarily be my first choice. But the idea intrigued me, and I figured I'd just pass the book along to my sister when I'd finished it. Well, sorry, Q, you're going to have to pick up your own copy -- I just can't let this one go!
The book didn't click with me initially. The author seemed a bit . . . angsty to me. I'm a very happy person, so reading about his anxieties and the negativity he was experiencing at the beginning of the book was depressing, and even disturbing. I really wasn't sure if I could read an entire book filled with this seemingly glass-half-empty attitude.
But I did keep reading, and as the story progressed it seemed as though the author experienced a lightening of his spirit. His focus shifted to the dogs in his care, and this part of the book became more enjoyable. It was both heartbreaking and uplifting to see the compassion and attachment this couple have with not just their dogs, but ALL dogs. I can't say I could do what they do, but it was interesting to get a first person perspective of what goes into animal rescue.
The book really came alive for me when the author began writing about his research into dogs and various states of being -- he discusses altruism, sexual orientation, enlightenment, shamanism and shapeshifting, dog and human evolution, inter-species communication . . . I could honestly go on and on and on, and none of it was anything less than intriguing. I really enjoyed how he would use an experience with his dogs as a jumping off point for a scientific discussion, then circle back to the initial story. I found this made this made the technical bits more personal as I considered them in relation to the author's life.
I do believe Steven Kotler has found some form of enlightenment at his dog rescue in New Mexico. I'm not sure he will ever be as emotionally strong as he probably needs to be, given the last-chance nature of the animals he works with, but it appears he's found a balance that works for him.
I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this book, and I will personally be searching out all of Kotler's other books.(less)
This one started out well, but quickly went downhill. The author's arguments are logical and interesting, but become repetitive. He relies on the same...moreThis one started out well, but quickly went downhill. The author's arguments are logical and interesting, but become repetitive. He relies on the same two or three arguments, no matter what he's discussing, and on a few subjects he really reaches to fit his theory to the facts.
Wood has an intriguing take on anachronisms, clasifying them as conventional (objects from the present in fictional depictions of the past or future) or reverse (pretty much the same as conventional, but these objects, practices, or information are NOT fictional). Focusing on reverse anachronisms, he categorizes them as first, second, or third.
First kind reverse anachronisms involve objects, beliefs, or practices from our PRESENT that show up in the past.
The second kind involves objects, beliefs, or practices from our FUTURE that show up in the past.
The third kind involves objects, beliefs, or practices form our PRESENT that were, in the past, depicted in a future setting.
For me, this concept was the most interesting part of the book. I love anachronism (of any kind), and it was fun to stretch my mental muscles a bit to understand the point the author was making.
Unfortunately, Wood relies on this idea far too much, pounding the same point home again and again and again . . .
There were occasional moments of wonderful writing -- here is one example I particularly enjoyed:
(From Chapter 30: 20th Century "Foretold", which examines Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward)
"Today we see righteous elitists preaching the horror of government regulation -- except in areas where they think regulation is needed. They seem quite attached to policed and maintained roads, inspected food, cholera-free tap water, safe and effective medication, and honest banks and stock brokers. Power to the CORRECT bureaucrats, in other words."
The problem is that no matter how much I agree with the sentiment, it really doesn't have much to do with the subject of anachronisms.
I read some reviews of this book before I bought it, and the general consensus seemed to be that the author's tone was too flippant. I would agree with this. I was hoping this was a book that analyzed these occurrences more in depth.
I'm not really sure who would like this book. Those who are interested in the possibility of objects out of time and place will probably not enjoy the lack of detail, while readers looking for a book debunking unusual occurrences . . . well, I can't see that reading a whole book about it would interest those readers at all!
I picked this up after reading glowing reviews, and I was not disappointed. Mind you, I'm definitely on the wimpier side of horror fandom, so I may ha...moreI picked this up after reading glowing reviews, and I was not disappointed. Mind you, I'm definitely on the wimpier side of horror fandom, so I may have found these stories scarier than many people will, but I did find them genuinely frightening.
My copy includes the stories:
1922 Big Driver Fair Extension A Good Marriage
As well as a bonus story, Under The Weather.
For the most part, these are psychological horror stories, and a couple of them are extremely scary.
1922 recounts the confession of Wilfred Leland James of the murder of his wife. (This isn't a spoiler -- it's the second line in the story.) This story reminded me somewhat of A Simple Plan by Scott B. Smith (as did the shorter Fair Extension), where one decision can snowball into a tragedy affecting many lives. I found this story to be heartbreaking, and not so scary that I couldn't read all of it.
On the other hand, Big Driver was SO frightening I had to skim close to two thirds of the story. King pushes all of my "terror buttons" here, with the main character, Tess, falling all too easily into a horrifying trap. Again, there's the whole "life changing in an instant" thing that I find absolutely terrifying. Tess's nightmare is prolonged to an excruciating degree, but I have to commend King on the parts I was able to read -- I thought he really did a great job, not only of keeping the tension way WAY up, but also handling the situation with a degree of sensitivity I wouldn't have expected. (In the past, I've faulted King for his use of crude language -- with this collection he's kept the profanity to a minimum, and I feel it's used effectively.) He also gives the reader a pretty darn satisfying ending in this one.
Fair Extension is a very interesting story that asks the question, "What would you pay for an extension?" I found myself asking, "Could anyone watch the effects of their decision without remorse?" I liked the direction King took with this story, allowing his main character to be exactly who he was, without pandering to people like me who expect everyone to do the "right" thing. I did find parts of this story to be extremely sad and difficult to read. It's to King's credit that I never stopped liking the main character.
I found A Good Marriage to be possibly the most frightening story in this collection, and it did give me nightmares. A woman discovers that her husband of 27 years may not be the man she thought he was. This one went in a slightly different direction than I anticipated, although the basic idea is the same. There aren't any supernatural elements to this one, just an exploration of the secrets that one could find in any marriage. This is another story where King allows us a certain measure of satisfaction at the end.
The final story, Under The Weather, is another look at marriage. I found this one particularly sad, and King oh so slowly spools out the information, dropping hints as to what is about to come. Again, no supernatural elements, just a look at the fears that plague many of us. (less)
I ran across this book while I was looking for something on conditioning horses for Competitive Trail Riding. While it really isn't a "how-to...more3.5 Stars
I ran across this book while I was looking for something on conditioning horses for Competitive Trail Riding. While it really isn't a "how-to" book, this collection of stories about the author's adventures in CTR is informative, as well as funny.
Sable seems to be one of those people who stumble along from one (mis)adventure to the next, all the while keeping up a great attitude. It's sometimes difficult to see how she can remain so positive, but her happy-go-lucky attitude even in the face of adversity is charming.
One of my favourite parts in this book is "Shut Up & Ride, NY Sept 10, 2005". The author really hits her stride here, relating in hilarious detail a ride she and her friends never get to, as their truck breaks down on the way. Mind you, this is a truck and LOADED horse trailer broken down alongside a busy highway! (Sable does take a serious turn at the end, pointing out that -- although told in a humourous manner -- this was actually a dangerous situation that could have ended badly.)
My only disappointment with the book was the format -- these are literally emails (written by Sable for friends, boarders, etc.) that are collected into book form, typos and all. I understand that they were trying to stay as close to the original writing as possible, but I feel that the book would have been much better with more editing.
There are also many (many, many) instances where Sable talks about people and horses, with no indication of who they are. I would love to have more details! The author mentors novice riders, and one young rider -- Kyle -- is in many of these stories, but we're given no details that would make the stories more enjoyable. Is Kyle 10 or 17? (Near the end of the book, we are -- finally -- told that Kyle will be competing in the adult category the following year, so he must be 16 or 17 in these stories.) I would have liked to be able to picture these people as I read about them!
I would have also liked to know more about the author's life outside of competitions, her home life, conditioning her horses, etc.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, but it will probably appeal only to horse lovers -- particularly those interested in CTR and Endurance riding.(less)
Like others who have reviewed this book, I was intrigued by the title story, only to be disappointed -- featuring it as a "strange but true" mystery i...moreLike others who have reviewed this book, I was intrigued by the title story, only to be disappointed -- featuring it as a "strange but true" mystery is misleading, as the "vampire" in the tale was simply a murderer. Anything unusual or supernatural in this story was apparently trumped up by reporters at the time. While it is interesting and odd that this man would receive a commuted sentence from President Andrew Johnson, there is nothing to suggest anything paranormal.
As a whole, this book is disappointing, teetering between scientific analysis of paranormal phenomena and outright debunking. While the author covers mostly unfamiliar territory (I was familiar with only two of the stories presented here), much of material just wasn't that interesting.
The final story (The Bridge To Body Island) -- presented with the warning "...readers who are genuinely frightened by the paranormal or troubled by obsessive thoughts should consider skipping this chapter" -- reads like an urban legend preteens would frighten each other with at a slumber party.
More from Royston Blake in this book, the second in the series.
I found this one to be even more oppressive than the first one, with Blake in this one...moreMore from Royston Blake in this book, the second in the series.
I found this one to be even more oppressive than the first one, with Blake in this one being nearly willfully obtuse about what's going on around him in Mangle.
Blake is (as usual) ensnared within several underhanded plots -- although he is unaware of it for most of the story -- this time tasked with finding and bringing home a local shopkeeper's underage daughter. The reason for her disappearance isn't revealed until the very end of the book, but it ties neatly into the storyline set forth in the first few chapters.
The story here wasn't as clear to me as it was in the first book, which is the reason I didn't give it four stars, but I liked it well enough that I will continue with the series.
This book did continue with hinting about peculiar, perhaps supernatural, goings on in Mangle -- this is never stated outright in the book, but the feeling of otherworldliness is present throughout.
I would recommend this for fans of the first book who are already planning on reading the third and fourth -- I'm not sure it would be a good read for someone who'd tried the first book and didn't really care for it.(less)
I received this as a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway win.
"Dead End In Norvelt" is a book by Jack Gantos about a boy named, well . . . Jack Gantos. The b...moreI received this as a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway win.
"Dead End In Norvelt" is a book by Jack Gantos about a boy named, well . . . Jack Gantos. The blurb on the back of the book says it's a mix of truth and fantasy, but it's difficult to see where one leaves off and the other begins!
The book begins some time during the early 1960s, with young Jack Gantos earning a summer long grounding after accidentally shooting his father's rifle. Unable to spend the days playing with his best friend, Bunny, he's stuck doing chores for his firm but kind hearted mother, his communist hating father, and his wacky neighbor, Miss Volker. Add to this is a string of deaths amongst the community of elderly women in their town, a vendetta with Hell's Angels, and Miss Volker's eternally optimistic suitor, the irritating Mr. Spizz, and you've got yourself one heck of a romp.
I really liked Jack -- he's a sweet, endearing boy who doesn't always do the right thing, but always means to. I also loved the feisty Miss Volker, whose love of history almost matches her love and admiration for Eleanor Roosevelt.
My copy says this book is for kids 10-14, but this is certainly a wonderful read for adults as well. Lots of nostalgia here that will resonate more with older readers, but I think it's a great opportunity for younger readers to see how past generations lived.
There's a lot of food for thought here, as well, for all ages -- our responsibility for our neighbors, as well as those less fortunate than ourselves; history, particularly the way history is biased by whoever tells it; life, love, and death; and even philosophical musings on the nature of war.
Really lovely and charming book -- HIGHLY recommend!(less)
This book is slow (in a good way), mellow and sweet. It reminds me very much of the tv series Little Bear. There isn't any great drama -- just a lovel...more This book is slow (in a good way), mellow and sweet. It reminds me very much of the tv series Little Bear. There isn't any great drama -- just a lovely story that explores the nature of "family", and the importance of having a family to belong to.
I found the mermaid in this story to be an especially wonderful character. She is happy all the time, accepting that life throws a few unexpected problems into the mix, and understanding that the best way of dealing with those problems is by working with what you have rather than by complaining about what you don't have.
This might be a fun story to read with children, although some of the ideas and themes may be a little too complex for them. Death is also dealt with, in a very straightforward manner -- some children might still find these scenes upsetting.
Let me start this off by commenting on true-crime in general. While I find the subject interesting, I usually don't read books like this -- it feels w...moreLet me start this off by commenting on true-crime in general. While I find the subject interesting, I usually don't read books like this -- it feels wrong, being entertained by another person's misery and misfortune. But, for whatever reason, historical crime writing is somehow "okay" for me. Current crime = no, historical crime = okay. It's weird, and probably hypocritical, but there it is.
Well . . . no. I really didn't like this book, although I can't say it wasn't well written. I think the biggest problem for me was the subject, Dr. Marcel Petiot, as well as the setting, Occupied Paris. The story is incredibly complicated, with all of the secrecy and double-crossing happening at that point in time. I will say that I now know more about the French Resistance than I ever expected to -- not necessarily a bad thing, as I love history.
The book did pick up at the end for me -- the author speculates on some of the unsolved aspects of the case, and I found his detective work compelling and convincing.
I would recommend this to fans of true crime or those who enjoy reading about World War II. While it didn't hold my interest as well as I would have liked, I don't fault the author -- I think the subject matter itself was at issue.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)