Alice Munro's collections usually knock me for a loop. They pack so much emotion into such spare, non-emotional phrasings thhttp://tinyurl.com/nmefbfe
Alice Munro's collections usually knock me for a loop. They pack so much emotion into such spare, non-emotional phrasings that you are taken unawares by their power. There's no one else who can write about life - in the definitive slice-of-life mode - and make it seem as if you are living this life at the same time as the character being described. You are almost literally sucked into their world. Then - the chapter ends, and instead of feeling as if you've lost a best friend, you sock that story away in your heart and become immersed in the next one.
Munro writes about people who have made a wrong turn. Those turns are understandable, and the people are sympathetic. You almost don't wince to read about the wrongs they've done, you just become them as they journey - for a while - down the wrong path. And it either makes you feel better about yourself or worse. Either way, it's worth it.
With this collection, I didn't feel this as intensely. The endings of the stories felt more obvious, and I could see them coming for some time. Obviously, that lessens their emotional punch. They still live in my heart - the first story is still rattling around in there - but they aren't supplanting previous story collections.
However! And it's a big however. The last four stories are about her own life. Some perhaps not wholly factual, as she says, but it was clear to me as I started them that I've been dying to know more about her own life, especially her own childhood. Because that simply has to be a large factor in how she perceives the world and the people in it. Her reminiscences of town and country life in the 30s and 40s in Canada, her perceptions of herself at that time, the world as she viewed it then, and in particular her memories of her mother. These last four absolutely pack a special kind of wallop....more
Actually, the worst thing about this book is that it's going to be a series. I'd say quit while you're ahead.
Reason being, this sweet little young adult novel does not need a follow-up. It contains itself nicely, and has a nearly-perfect ending, bringing all the story elements together into one thoughtful scene. The only thing I can think the author intends with another set of volumes is turning it into a creepier sci-fi thriller type of series - still for young adults (or whatever we are calling them these days), but not a romance.
Because the "reverend" is the only unresolved character among them all by the time you finish the volume. "A" inhabits one body per day, always moving on to another body, hoping not to impair or even affect the person during that day. Since "A" comes into contact with a variety of people, the book explores gender and personalities more than anything else, giving extra weight to being thoughtful, caring, loving - the usual themes of this kind of teen book.
You wouldn't want the next book to push the same themes, so I can only expect that it's going to try to mess with "A"'s usual rhythm. I think I'll wait and see what the critics think first. ...more
If you were a fan of the Veronica Mars TV series, you'll enjoy this better-than-average entrée into the now-official book sehttp://tinyurl.com/onskprn
If you were a fan of the Veronica Mars TV series, you'll enjoy this better-than-average entrée into the now-official book series. (P.S. You don't have to have loved the movie to like this book, in case that's helpful.)
I say better-than-average because it is actually better than the average mystery. By average mystery, I mean something by Janet Evanovich or Lilian Jackson Braun. (Then again, they both started their respective series strongly, and this being the first book in the VM series, there's plenty of time to go downhill.) Weighed against those giants of American pop-culture mystery, Thomas and Graham's is most definitely heavier.
We start right after the events of the movie (again, you don't have to have seen or loved the movie to enjoy the book), and VM is getting the hang of her new life. There's much more Mac and Wallace and Keith than in the movie. There's very little of everyone else, including Logan. (Those of you who saw the movie know why.)
I enjoyed very twist and turn - and would understand if folks thought it too twisty - and being able to read about the ambience of Neptune as opposed to seeing it onscreen. The only thing I thought fell a little flat was the continual explanation of VM's inner thoughts - all her worries, concerns, emotional issues. And only because in the TV series we saw a way tougher character. I don't want to know that VM feels conflicted! I want her to remain tough as nails....more
In the end, I understand the reasons people seem to love this book. But I myself am not a fan.
I don't feel as if a void has been filled in my life. Perhaps there are some who were waiting for lesbian erotica that would make it to the mainstream. For those of us who weren't, this novel feels like it's only designed to teach us what it may have been like to be gay in the 1880s. I felt this particularly at the end when we learn more about the social leanings of the group of people our protagonist hangs around with. My ears pricked up - because that was fascinating and well-written and certainly what I expected in a novel about Edwardian England. Not what we got which was a sorry tale of a sorry young person who waited until the very end of the bloody novel to grow.
I suspect my exasperation with this tale may be far larger than others. And that that exasperation was mostly due to the middle section in which Nancy literally flings aside her comfortable life for purely sexual reasons. I just can't fathom such an action, and it pissed me off no end. It also made the inevitable ending feel cheap and flat....more
It's my fate in life to natter on about how difficult second books of series are. Can we forego all that and get to the meathttp://tinyurl.com/pkldxzx
It's my fate in life to natter on about how difficult second books of series are. Can we forego all that and get to the meat of the problems?
Firefight has the same tropes as the first volume in the series (Steelheart), i.e., young nerdy kid, with an aptitude for fighting Epics and a super-creative mind, who has a heck of a time creating appropriate metaphors (nice to know we have one thing in common). Obviously, he's meant to save the world in the end, and I don't think there are any spoilers in that. Why else would Sanderson make him the main character? Also, you'll see what I mean at the end of this second book.
But I think perhaps he's a bit too heroic in this book. Sanderson does his best to show that some things do require hard work in order to make an impact in the world (life lesson #149), but we're talking about fighting people with superpowers. It's just all too easy for David! We have to keep our protagonist alive, of course, but also too many difficult scrapes he gets out of too easily. And the denouement at the end is really bloody obvious. I continue to keep in mind that I am not the primary audience (young adult), but still! Ugh and bother.
Oh, of course I'll read the final book. It is Sanderson, after all, who's a better writer than most fantasy authors out there....more
Somewhere in the middle of this mystery, the author notes the preponderance of unpublished manuscripts with extraneous writihttp://tinyurl.com/qd2spfl
Somewhere in the middle of this mystery, the author notes the preponderance of unpublished manuscripts with extraneous writing, way too much description, run-on sentences. That made me laugh out loud.
If there's one thing Pavone knows how to do in spades, it's describe! This novel contains way, way, way too much description of the environment - about 80% completely extraneous. It's one of the more egregious examples I've seen of telling instead of showing.
I mean, what happened to Raymond Chandler or Lawrence Block style? "This happened, and then this happened, and then, surprise!" That's how mysteries should be written.
He is a fantastic plotter. The twists and turns are well created, I'll give him that. He, unfortunately, sets up the plot as if there's going to be some huge reveal and nothing is ever revealed that you haven't heard or seen or read before. There's nothing unique here, therefore why set it up as if there were? These reveals end up being less than important to the plot, too. Bad form.
I was going to read his previous, Edgar-winning novel, but I won't be bothering now. ...more
I have 5 minutes to write this review today, so... the highlights:
a) She's an open and caring introvert but also a people person. I really appreciate that. b) She totally F-ed up her early years. Which she's also open about, and I appreciate that. c) The end result is that she isn't an entirely sympathetic character, and I was disturbed by that. I mean, I understand how F-ed up and crazy you can be if you've gone through what she's gone through, but she has urges I can't begin to understand. Or urges that sounds like addictions, which even in her retrospective-healthy state look like things you should seek therapy for. You'll know what I mean when you get there. d) I still loved the ride. She puts it all out there for you and she writes nicely (not gorgeously or amazingly, but nicely). Also, the PCT is one hell of a journey, holy cats. e) (There are some contradictions in the story, but I'll leave that to bitch to my book club about.) ...more
Oh my, yes. I'm not a slice-of-life fan like some of the folks in my book club, but I appreciate a stellar read when I meethttp://tinyurl.com/nauaovs
Oh my, yes. I'm not a slice-of-life fan like some of the folks in my book club, but I appreciate a stellar read when I meet it.
I'll compare this book with - yet again - "The Marriage Plot" by Jeffrey Eugenides. In this case, it truly feels as if the authors of both volumes were writing stream-of-conscious or off-the-cuff. A novel for the sake of telling a story. Not without its own themes, mind you, but created far more to tell a story (with a capital S) than to tell a lesson (unfortunately, very much usually with a capital L).
The difference is that "The Marriage Plot" is shite, and this is brilliance.
This novel plays with its characters - and especially with the 2 main protagonists. But that's completely wrong because Walter excels at taking bit parts and making them come alive after a few paragraphs. More so than any author I can name at this very moment. It's rather breathtaking, in fact.
The other thing the novel plays with is time. It's very likely its central theme. Not just that we jump around from the 60s to the present time and back throughout. But that time is essential to how the characters grow and learn and become who they always should have been.
I did think the ending was a mite bit too pat (haha, for those who have already read it). I forgive Walter because he gave me Richard Burton in a boat off the Italian coast extemporaneously being the genius he truly was....more
This book is officially for science geeks. If you're not a science geek, you're going to nod off and think it's terrible. Ifhttp://tinyurl.com/m4o4ryo
This book is officially for science geeks. If you're not a science geek, you're going to nod off and think it's terrible. If you are a science geek, you'll be playing along.
This is the story of an astronaut stranded on Mars and everything he has to do - mechanically, electrically, botanically - to get back home. It's an intriguing concept, and there's no way to write it without giving numbers, equations and hard physical facts. Fortunately, Weir also manages to make it funny by having his astronaut be kind of a dweeb. A dweeb who can last that long by seeing the humor in his situation. I would bet that astronauts are like this - both insane and heroic - but you'd have to be a very special kind of astronaut to survive for a year and a half on Mars (even future Mars with all the bells and whistles and radiation shielding).
I inhaled it. The MacGyver aspect of this man's struggle with the elements was really fun - what will he come up with next in order to save his potato crop? create a bedroom for his rover? save himself from an airlock disaster? I'm not giving anything away. Weir throws everything he can at the man - because that's what you do in this kind of a novel! ...more
Apart from the troubles our dear Spike (James Marsters, not the character of the same name in the book, which gave me the giggles for its meta-ness) had with his breathing and gulping, the audio version of this 2nd book in the series is about 1000 times more fun than the 1st book in the series, which I read on "paper." It seems that Marsters, and his publisher - shouldn't they have been giving him tips?? - figured this out in later books as the audio segments are shorter. Poor man was trying to do 8-10 minute segments without a break! Superhuman strength, Spike.
The content itself was also more well-thought-out, rounded, better plotted, etc. I won't say better written. I still think Butcher rather stinks as a writer. For instance, if he mentions that "crime doesn't pay" in the next book, I will literally scream. But overall, these books are a really fun way to a) exercise b) work in the garden or c) do your physical therapy....more
In this completely enjoyable, absolutely beyond-question over-the-top piece of fiction, our protagonist loses both her husbahttp://tinyurl.com/mrwdbpa
In this completely enjoyable, absolutely beyond-question over-the-top piece of fiction, our protagonist loses both her husband and child in the first few pages (see, I'm not giving anything away there). It wasn't the best choice to start reading this month but it turned into something so crazy that I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Our author is a creative writing teacher at UWisconsin and she's had a surprising batch of stuff published (including a memoir about growing up around Cape Canaveral in the 60s that I may just pick up). I'm certain she's giving her students sound advice about writing because she knows her craft. She takes an actual personal story - she herself grew up in France and Florida - and makes it the background to this... ride. I can't describe it any other way.
How our protagonist acts throughout this book can easily be marked down to being distraught over the loss of her husband and daughter. It can also be marked down to an author saying to herself "well, I have this opportunity to write plot points willy-nilly simply because my protagonist is distraught." I don't think good novels work that way. Of course, bad novels work this way too - like "The Marriage Plot," for instance - and this particular novel isn't really bad. Just bizarro. With aspects of real-life thrown in for good measure.
Look, when you get to Russia, you'll understand what I mean....more
This is pretty much the pulpiest pulp I've read in a long while. It should be clear to anyone reading this that the writer ihttp://tinyurl.com/l7tr7c5
This is pretty much the pulpiest pulp I've read in a long while. It should be clear to anyone reading this that the writer is completely homegrown, ie, has he even taken a writing class? By the end, I got extraordinarily tired of "oh, I'm going to die" - 4 paragraphs on that - and then the obvious "oh, wait, I forgot about using that [insert magical device]! good, now I'm not going to die."
I understand the series gets better. But will I stick around to find out? I love fantasy, but this guy seems to have ridden in on the coattails of Ms. Rowling and then followed in the footsteps of Ms. Evanovich. I see the basic appeal, but there isn't much that's actually, well... clever, here.
In the end, my biggest pet peeve is that it's like reading a giant game of Zork. He stands outside a house. The curtains are drawn. He has a bad feeling. He sees a film canister on the ground. He wonders how it got there. He walks around the house. He sees a faery. Ugh. I'd rather play the game....more
The comedy in this famous play is surprisingly spot on and interestingly current. You could make any of these same jokes todhttp://tinyurl.com/kavfzjr
The comedy in this famous play is surprisingly spot on and interestingly current. You could make any of these same jokes today. It's not as if Britain has stopped making jokes about class and culture, right?
Wilde certainly had a talent for farce - for that brand of ridiculous that is not supposed to have any bearing on reality. It teases reality, but sits soundly outside it. The great thing about farce is that you begin reading with that assumption - that nothing is real - and consequently it's all about the words and the plot. Since you can't take it seriously, this frees you up to enjoy the English language at its finest (and silliest).
I especially liked how Wilde created female characters the equal of the male characters. They are equally silly as well as equally eloquent. I would think the role of the "mother-in-law" would be a plum one for any well-established British Dame. In fact, can't you see Maggie Smith playing this in its next incarnation?...more
What an enchanting read! Not knowing a thing about this book before I started made it all the better. For instance, I was unhttp://tinyurl.com/l2u6t4o
What an enchanting read! Not knowing a thing about this book before I started made it all the better. For instance, I was unaware that I was essentially about to read a fantasy novel. Clearly any book that makes magic real is by definition fantasy. Even when it's clearly rooting itself in the not-too-distant past of our own world.
Speaking of which, I completely missed some of the telling signs Morgenstern was truly throwing at me regarding the origins of the circus in general, and the circus as it exists in our present-day minds. I will give nothing away just in case others are as slow as I was to get the hints. But I will say that they are just hints, and that she doesn't fully realize them (as she shouldn't in a fantasy novel).
Don't let the number of pages dissuade you, as this book moves very, very quickly. I think I finished it in 4 days (granted, 4 vacation days) and was compelled to return to it as often as possible. The writing is a little formal, however, this fits well with a book set in the late 19th century. It also has a slight goth feel to it - the black and white circus tents, the ultra-chic dresses, the slow-moving statues, the "reveurs" and their flashes of red - and I believe that makes it all the more interesting.
I was told not to read the back of the book. I read this on Kindle so didn't have to worry about that, but in seeking out the back cover after I was finished I didn't see any monstrous spoilers - nothing that wasn't guessable from the get-go. Perhaps I saw the wrong back of the book. ...more
There is no question this is a compelling book. From start to finish, you are pulled inexorably to the end, or should I say,http://tinyurl.com/m29og92
There is no question this is a compelling book. From start to finish, you are pulled inexorably to the end, or should I say, ends. (There are at least three of them.)
Now, I'm a Swedish mystery aficianado, so I was super geeked to see this in my Christmas stocking a few days ago. (Yes, I read it that fast.) I figured, the Danes must be learning to push back - break that lock that the Swedes have had for decades. I really wanted to see if that was true.
A solid B+ for effort and style. Gazan aces the Scandinavian mournful tone (in spades), provides a solid set of plots, and she's a biologist so her themes have a more interesting bent than usual. She has an easy, light writing style (as translated), with the occasional excellent turn of phrase to make you smile or raise your eyebrows.
Also, unexpectedly, Gazan gives you a boatload of backstory, which while also compelling, comes at a very odd time in the book, ie, the beginning. I mean, at least 70 pages of backstory. It moves very quickly, but it begins to dawn on you that this is an extraordinary amount, and either the author is brilliantly setting you up for the ending or she's a pretty dumb writer. How to know when it's the first book of hers you've ever read? There is, in fact, a reason for it, but I'll give nothing away here.
(I should also say that this is the first book in a long while that I have read in paper. There was something comforting about being able to turn actual, non-digital pages. No, that alone won't put me off using my Kindle forever and always.)...more
Unfortunately, for all the awesomeness that this book contains, it leaves you with the feeling that you've been lectured at.http://tinyurl.com/kqy7uf9
Unfortunately, for all the awesomeness that this book contains, it leaves you with the feeling that you've been lectured at.
Probably most autobiographies have the tendency to "inform the user" of how their life would be better - like mine! - if only they listened to my wise experience and changed their ways. Then everything would be marvelous and you'd never have any problems. Of course, I'm being more than a bit snarky here - and Hadfield's book has many large sections that are not about bettering yourself - that are actually about space travel itself! - but in the end I have a bad flavor in my mouth from reading the book.
I completely understand that this man is NOT a writer first and foremost. He didn't have a ghost writer on this, and that is more than admirable. He's an astronaut who's done some of the very coolest stuff anyone's ever done in their lives, and it's perfectly okay for him to both trumpet his successes and give us some pointers in how that success occurred. Heck, his educational initiatives alone are phenomenal (and CSA should give him the hugest retirement package for that). But that doesn't mean that I wished the book was much more about the cool stuff that happens in space than about the tedious slog that is an astronaut's life on Earth and even in space.
It is, in the end, eye-opening though and I'm glad I read it, if only to understand both the thrills and the banalities of space travel....more