Two-thirds of the way through this book, Kington notes that a book that has only "the best bits" would be considered boring,http://tinyurl.com/m6u2bu
Two-thirds of the way through this book, Kington notes that a book that has only "the best bits" would be considered boring, supposedly because it would be exhausting to read. Unfortunately, I disagree because his book does not have only the best bits and is boring nonetheless.
Kington wrote this book as a series of humorous tales related to his growing pancreatic cancer. I applaud the effort of writing about this life event comically, since it can't have been easy or fun at times. But, there is, at its essence, nothing funny about cancer. So reading it you are wincing nearly the entire time, even when you're laughing.
The hardest laughs are at his description of his father-in-law, the yodeling bits, and the cards he wrote up to describe his cancer, in case people were looking leery. He clearly had a gift since there are laugh-out-loud parts, and maybe it's just that nothing is consistently humorous even to one individual. But... does he want to remembered by this (albeit lightweight) tome? I'm fairly sure I wouldn't....more
I've never reviewed a collection of comic strips before, and it's quite possible I never will again. But I feel it's my dutyhttp://tinyurl.com/kjjoqt
I've never reviewed a collection of comic strips before, and it's quite possible I never will again. But I feel it's my duty to proselytize this particular strip for two reasons: a) it reflects a lifestyle that too many people know next to nothing about and b) it is invigorating and eye-opening.
This comic is far from one-sided, and I believe that's one of its strengths. As a heterosexual myself with not as many gay friends as I might like, I'm sure I had one and only view of lesbian life before reading it. All assumed based on what I've read and what I've imagined. Well, thank you, Alison Bechdel if for nothing else than showing how extraordinarily multi-sided the lesbian culture is. Which should be absolutely no surprise to any right-thinking person but also proves how blindered we all live.
But there's more! Bechdel is trained as an academic, and she's also clearly a newshound, so on top of the culture you get a biting critique of our political world in the U.S. for the last twenty years. I dearly wish she had continued the comic if only to see what she would have written and drawn about Obama's election (her strip went on sabbatical in May last year).
I almost wish someone would make a film based on the strip. Although I'm having a tough time casting it in my head (who plays Mo? Sandra Bullock or Samantha Morton?), the characterizations are so rich and realized, it should be a snap for a screenwriter to put together a script. Why not give Bechdel a shot at it first, actually?...more
Having just come off the final GIRLPOWER episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, I see clear parallels to this book-- which ishttp://tinyurl.com/mcvh78
Having just come off the final GIRLPOWER episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, I see clear parallels to this book-- which is all about perceptions of women and their strengths.
Poor Harriet Vanger, murdered many years ago, through a series of strange entanglements comes to the attention of a busted, soon-to-be-imprisoned corporate journalist. It's not your typical murder mystery, being wrapped up in corporate espionage and idyllic very-small-town Swedish life. (You don't expect me to read typical murder mysteries anymore anyway, do you?)
But back to the views of females-- besides Harriet, one of the main characters is Lisbeth, a young investigator. I have never seen, in print, a more sympathetic description of a person with borderline Asperger's Syndrome. In her case, she has a low capacity for social interaction, is super-smart and technically proficient, and has had enough troubles being female in her lifetime to land her in an abysmally unfair situation. It is not in any sense a classic case of a woman with "man problems," but the question of whether you could define Lisbeth as a victim is front and center. Is she? Yes. And definitely no. Really, a complex, realistic character.
If you care not a whit for espionage or Sweden or strange inter-personal relationships, read this only for the depiction of Lisbeth and you will not be sorry....more
Why is it that I had to resort to ILL from my public library to get this highly-lauded first novel from a respected sci-fi auhttp://tinyurl.com/lcgn33
Why is it that I had to resort to ILL from my public library to get this highly-lauded first novel from a respected sci-fi author? For shame, for shame. All copies must have been stolen by eager fans.
I've read one other book by Bujold: The Curse of Chalion, and did not have the same problems with her pushy feminist approach in this novel. A female starship captain may not have been commonplace in this universe, but even her enemy scoffing that women could even be considered for rank in the army didn't bother me. Bujold made this fit without creating way too obvious a place for it.
Our female captain has her own set of balls, of course, falls in love with the only man who would do for her, and both of them are so full of honor and loyalty as to make you gag in sections. The intelligent writing, scenic descriptions, and complex characterizations more than make up for any failure there.
I was enamored enough that I plan on reading more of her Vorkosigan saga. Even though there will be no appearances of any of the characters from this novel. The universe itself is drawn so deftly, I'm sure not to miss them....more
I'm not sure I agree that Thurber has been our (American) best humor writer, or our best short story writer. What about Raymohttp://tinyurl.com/neqwdu
I'm not sure I agree that Thurber has been our (American) best humor writer, or our best short story writer. What about Raymond Carver? Doesn't Jon Stewart count?
Certainly, I find his writing humorous, but I also find it a bit monotonous. In this semi-autobiography, I tired easily of the bumblings in the dark. There were far, far too many of these stories. The electric car piece is hands-down the best of them all, but I feel he never achieves that level again in the "collection." His cartoons are consistently amusing, and since he started as a humorist in that arena, I wish he had further developed that.
However, it looks like I ought to try his short stories instead. Since it is mentioned in the short biography at the back of this book, I sought out "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and nearly died laughing. "Pocketa-queep"-- oh, my stars.
It could be that it's just too tough to write about your own life, and easier to make up someone else's. It sounds like his life was indeed difficult, at least towards the end (he went blind). While laughter is the best tonic, it felt to me as if he was either making up the humor in his strange family's turmoils or deliberately over-exaggerating it to allay the pain....more
If you read back through my posts, you'll see me waxing rhapsodic on Donna Leon's novels. I'm not going to repeat myself herehttp://tinyurl.com/nf2x9p
If you read back through my posts, you'll see me waxing rhapsodic on Donna Leon's novels. I'm not going to repeat myself here. Instead, I'll say, sadly, that I think Leon peaked in "Suffer the Little Children" and "Through a Glass, Darkly". Both of these offered deft social criticism as well as an entrancing mystery. This novel tries to do the same but feels tired, as if she's saying "oh, have I not written about the Rom before, ok, let me get that out of the way."
It's certainly a depressing subject, and as per Leon, she tries to provide all sides of the issue-- not making them heroes and not making them villains, which I admire. I know it's difficult for some folks to read about, so I'll point out that this novel revolves around the death of a child, in somewhat graphic detail. Not the death per se, but the aftermath, which is nearly as bad.
So, if you haven't read the two I recommend above, I'd pass this one up for those. The themes remain the same: food, family, honor and loyalty, and, Commissario Brunetti reading classical literature. Always a hoot....more
One friend said she hated this book. One said she loved it (and others said they liked it a lot). Obviously a must read.
I can see both sides. I loved the book for its readability-- it drags you along with it, whereever it seems to be going. Vet student, hops a train, becomes part of a circus, falls in love, interacts with crazy folks, and more! This life is interspersed with the vet as a much older man, which becomes wonderfully relevant at the end.
But I also disliked it (didn't hate it at all) because Gruen is working so hard to shock you on every page. Yes, I know that goes with the territory of a breakneck plot, but for certain scenes it feels extra-special gratuitous. I recognize the work involved in giving the reader something new and exciting on each page, while also tying it into a complex plot, however a little less craziness would have been welcome at times. (Although, I suppose that is the circus for you.)
The culmination of the novel has two twists. The first I thought was obvious (reread that dedication) while the second made me smile hugely. It's what you were hoping for, and Gruen is kind enough to give it to you....more
On my continuing foray into the realm of YA, I was given this book to read. In fact, although the recommendation goes againsthttp://tinyurl.com/pmdq2k
On my continuing foray into the realm of YA, I was given this book to read. In fact, although the recommendation goes against everything in me as a librarian and pro-book advocate, this is the kind of book that should be passed around. From friend to friend, from mother to daughter and especially from father to son. This novel is an absolute must for every teen to read.
It's possible not everyone will see what's coming, so I don't want to give away anything. It's just as powerful knowing as not knowing. In fact, it's one of the very few books that I read portions of aloud to my husband, mostly because they were amusing but also because they evoke without bitterness the atmosphere of high school.
Don't get me wrong-- this is a tragic tale. But, Anderson has found a way to deftly merge a story that should cause every heart to weep with a general reminiscence of teenage years alternately funny and horrifying. It's simply illuminating, there's no better word for it.
So I think it's best not to reveal any plot at all. Believe the cover, as schmaltzy as it sounds. This actually is a contemporary classic....more
This publisher's marketing department is grasping at straws. From the back cover: "The reader may be surprised at how quicklyhttp://tinyurl.com/ppgdlk
This publisher's marketing department is grasping at straws. From the back cover: "The reader may be surprised at how quickly the pages turn." Um, that's certainly a phrase that can be construed in multiple ways, negatively being one of them.
But that's Shreve for you. Her novels are designed to move along, to not incur deep thoughts, and to leave you wondering if you just read chicklit or something more erudite. Because if you look for subtext, it is there, it's just "lighter" subtext than what you would expect in literature.
For instance, the story within a story is written to suggest the power of changing the tale you are writing in whatever way you choose, while the novel's narrative hints at the possibilities of doing this in real life. It's a good setting for a tale of a December wedding (gawd, who let that title through, could it be more boring?) between high-school sweethearts who have lived full lives and then re-met each other at a reunion, plus how all their high-school friends have lived or wish to live their lives. But her writing is just too simplistic to firmly frame the subtext.
I wish Shreve would try her hand at a different genre. Wouldn't it be fascinating to see how she'd handle, say, YA or sci-fi?...more
I am absolutely, positively sure that I do not get all the deep meaning in this Booker Prize winning book from a Nobel laureahttp://tinyurl.com/o2xbfk
I am absolutely, positively sure that I do not get all the deep meaning in this Booker Prize winning book from a Nobel laureate. I'm often stymied by the highly lauded material.
It's an odd one, this book. I think Coetzee is trying to unravel the tangled web that is South Africa and its race relations, but I have trouble understanding how the romantic dalliances of the protagonist apply to that. And, as a woman, it's difficult to read scenes of what I consider date rape with no acknowledgment of this from the writer throughout the course of the book. I understand the need to create a character who is complete and, while he does experience personal growth, does not embrace a way of thinking that is alien to him. Nonetheless... it is difficult to read and not shudder thinking about the readers who are young men and might think this is an okay way to live one's life.
But I suppose this is the strength of the novel. It never falls back on cliche. Each character is someone I've never met before in fiction, whether it is Professor Lurie, his daughter, Petrus the "caretaker", even the pet shelter owner. They are beautifully crafted, leading us, with Lurie, into the disgrace of the title. Ultimately, it was difficult for me to see how Lurie could continue on having suffered so much. But... he also performed his own brand of creating suffering in others. Are we meant to understand this as a life balance? As kismet?
I am able to glean some deeper meanings from the novel, but am particularly looking forward to book club this month because I am certain that my compatriots will have alternate and deeper insights. And I'm sure I don't want to have missed them....more
Reviewing a friend's book is triply difficult: you don't want to offend, you want to get the word out, and you are nervous abhttp://tinyurl.com/of3nng
Reviewing a friend's book is triply difficult: you don't want to offend, you want to get the word out, and you are nervous about your review being written adequately. That being said, I'm going to go for it.
Because in this case, it's really easy. I loved this YA novel, hands-down. It comes out on August 9, and I urge each and every one of you to buy it. Why, you say? First, a bit about present-day YA as I see it...
I'll admit to having read only a handful of current YA, all of them chosen by pals who thought I would like the new voice of young adult fiction. Why, oh why, could we not have had voices like this when I was still reading Judy Blume books? OK, Blume wrote in the 70s, what feels like one of the more emotionally-closed-off decades to grow up in. Perhaps that's why these books pop out at me so much.
In the case of Donut Days, the setting, issues, concept and plot all seem so fresh and new, and yet so grounded in today's world. Besides being a structure that works handsomely in this genre, Lara has chosen a setting that could have been impossible to deliver to any generation: the evangelist culture and how faith and its trappings can wreak havoc on the young. But... not in a manner that completely disses this culture, another impossible to have pulled off.
So, please, once you've read it, comment on this blog. I'd love to hear what you thought....more
This is the problem when you put your book reviewing off and all of a sudden you have three, almost four, books to review inhttp://tinyurl.com/q7dc68
This is the problem when you put your book reviewing off and all of a sudden you have three, almost four, books to review in a row. Let's see... I picked this book on LibraryThing Early Reviewers because it was a foreign-published book originally and I've had more luck with those lately. That said, it was not in the same league as the latest one I chose that way.
I'm sorta phasing out on murder mysteries, unless they're absolute classics or I adore the writing. Reason being, it's just not that hard to figure out whodunnit. I mean, the author usually has a limited cast of characters and one of those has to be the one who did the deed or else how would the story work?
Maybe I'm "eh" on this book because it's set in such a depressing place and time. Actually, speaking of time, I had the darndest time figuring out whether this was set in the present or sometime around WWII. Descriptions of clothing, transportation, pubs-- it was confusing, and I don't think it was just me being a dolt.
So, it's nothing awful, but it's just not particularly exciting. Certainly not what the reviewer on the cover is frothing about....more
There's just too much to say about this book. In actual fact, there's too much to complain about with this book.
I'll start with the thing that irritated me the most: Mr. Díaz, if you are interested in writing a book that will stand the test of time, do not, repeat, do not include multiple references to non-mainstream pop culture. Do you really think that the majority of your readers know who Luba is and how big her boobs were? Does The Watcher matter to anyone other than those who know who drew the first Spiderman comic book (yes, I know)? And while I enjoyed the references to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, check out page 200 in the hardcover first edition and see if you recognize it. Yeah, that's what I thought.
Second, all the untranslated Spanish? Yes, I know that one argument for this would be that this country might do well to become bi-lingual. But. I am well-versed in Latin-based languages and I had a hard time. What about those who aren't? Especially when obviously crucial pieces of information are not given an English equivalent.
Third, okay I get it about Trujillo. Enough. Please stop repeating it.
Fourth, that introduction that made absolutely no sense because we hadn't even started the book yet? Dude, make it a postscript.
The plot itself was not awful-- poor doomed family from the Dominican Republic, why their lives were a mess and how they tried to escape them. In that respect, he's a decent writer. But I refuse to discuss the plot here. I'm still too mad about his structure....more
I do enjoy it when the last book of a trilogy turns out to be just as good as the first book. Middle books, eh. They can be lhttp://tinyurl.com/daccy6
I do enjoy it when the last book of a trilogy turns out to be just as good as the first book. Middle books, eh. They can be long-winded or slightly boring or off-topic or without purpose. I mean, think about "The Two Towers." All that riding around Rohan and trekking through the woods with Ents. Snore-o-rama. And then, blam! The last book nails it.
It'd be silly to equate this trilogy with Tolkein's, but my point is the same. Scalzi returns to the first character he created, John Perry, brings along his now-wife, Jane, and the adopted daughter, Zoe. Plants them in a strange setting and puts the fate of the world on Perry's shoulders. Many plot twists later, and you have an excellent set-up for the end of the book.
Plus, he adds a wise-cracking secretary who makes you hoot with laughter. He should be a humor writer, really, this stuff doesn't just roll off the keyboard. Although, amusingly, this character makes it clear that he does write a (very well-read) blog on the side (http://whatever.scalzi.com/). Because writing a blog is all about the clever....more
My mom gave us this book and said it was "pretty good, I liked it." I'm always wary of a half-hearted recommendation becausehttp://tinyurl.com/dkq9jv
My mom gave us this book and said it was "pretty good, I liked it." I'm always wary of a half-hearted recommendation because I'm so picky in terms of decent writing. Sure, it's a mystery and it'll follow a general structure, but it's the little things that make a mystery worthwhile and if it didn't have that, I'd feel betrayed somehow.
I suspect that what kept me going through this book was the setting. Both in terms of it being set in an Indian reservation and much of the book being a (slow) chase through the wilderness of northern Minnesota. That's different and intriguing. And he's not a bad writer. He knows how to add details about characters and their lives in the appropriate spots and not make it look forced. That's not easy.
Unfortunately, the ending is obvious, although there's not much he could have done about that. But the reason why the woman they are trying to find in the wilderness went there, and what she plans to do when she gets out, rings false for a whole host of reasons. None of which I can divulge, but see if you think that it doesn't seem to jive with what you've learned about Cork O'Connor's town and how the community lives....more
I guess long ago they didn't call these mystery novels or crime stories, they called them police procedurals. Or at least thehttp://tinyurl.com/byn8z5
I guess long ago they didn't call these mystery novels or crime stories, they called them police procedurals. Or at least they did for stories like those written by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, set in Stockholm and starring Martin Beck, police detective.
For some people, their stories may seem plodding because they detail the work performed by the police while solving the crime. Every bit of detail. But if you read closely, you find humor, different and engaging personalities and above all, their description of how the world has been changing. I like how Sjöwall put it, that their intent was to "use the crime novel as a scalpel cutting open the belly of the ideologically pauperized and morally debatable so-called welfare state of the bourgeois type." A chance to describe their feelings about Sweden, or any major socialized society for that matter.
This is my third of their decalogue, and I'm not reading them in order. I'm also not terribly worried about that, for while the personalities age and change, each story stands on its own. I think their first, Roseanna, is still my favorite but this one grabs you from the get-go and doesn't let off until the final line. As with all their novels, the last line is well worth reaching....more
Hmm, I didn't like this as much. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because it felt like there was more exposition on dense scientifichttp://tinyurl.com/ages2m
Hmm, I didn't like this as much. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because it felt like there was more exposition on dense scientific subjects, not interspersed enough with conversation and action. But if I look back, there was almost the same amount of that in Old Man's War.
I'm guessing the newness of the created universe made the first book in the trilogy a revelation. In the second, you know the universe, and you're just irritated that he has moved on to other characters, and concentrated on the Special Forces soldiers to boot. Yes, I'm probably the only person ever to read this book that was not as interested in the Special Forces as in the regular CDF soldier. But, really, they're a lot more freaky. At least I can identify with someone who was real-born to begin with.
Not by any stretch is this a bad book. Just overwritten in places, and a bit dull in others. Naturally, I'm going to go ahead and read the third book, since his style is pleasing and more than gets the job done. Onwards....more
My friend Jane gave me the first two books in this trilogy, promising good space opera without the complacent misogyny of a dhttp://tinyurl.com/b9nrdy
My friend Jane gave me the first two books in this trilogy, promising good space opera without the complacent misogyny of a dyed-in-the-wool 1950s sci-fi writer.
It is precisely so: a ripping good yarn with a "hey, we're mere mortals but we CAN save the world" theme that you would expect from a Heinlein book. But without the female characters consistently in the rearview mirror, and called "sweetie" and "honey" and "where are my slippers?" to boot.
In fact, this didn't hit home to me until John Perry, our protagonist, learns about the death of one of his space-army buddies. She dies a gruesome Army death, and does her best to the last to kill as many nasty aliens on her way out. That she's female? Not even a factor. It's like a gust of fresh air when you realize that fact.
The basic plot: Perry joins the military at 75 thinking the Colonial Defense Forces have a good thing going if they want the old brain and the old body as well. How will they modify him? How long will he need to serve? What will the aliens look like, and how will they fight?
Read and find out. I'm on the next one already, "The Ghost Brigades," and will be sad when I finish the final one, "The Last Colony."...more
This is the first mystery by a woman famous for having written the bible on how to write mysteries (Writing and Selling Yourhttp://tinyurl.com/cs3gho
This is the first mystery by a woman famous for having written the bible on how to write mysteries (Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel)? Huh, I guess practicing what you preach is a lot harder than it sounds.
I've never seen so many telegraphed clues in one book; I think I spotted at least 6. Anyone who's read at least a dozen mysteries will be able to spot them all as well, I guarantee it. This means that by page 25 I knew the outcome of the book. I even bet my husband a thousand dollars that I'd be right (which he cleverly didn't take since I was bemoaning clues and plot as I read).
It's not that the writing is terrible. In fact, it's good-- I would be surprised if it weren't, seeing as Ephron is a professor of creative writing. Her post-crisis ending is particularly inspired. But it seems to me that clever writing is a different talent from clever plot direction. While you are enjoying the story of Ivy and her too-good-to-be-true husband about to have their first baby and what unfolds around their seemingly perfect life, you just wish it were over because you already know what will transpire. Or maybe for some, that lets everything off the hook and you can just sit back and relax?...more
I honestly think that adults are not supposed to read YA. I don't mean that in a bad way-- it's really fun to read young adulhttp://tinyurl.com/cvzhj3
I honestly think that adults are not supposed to read YA. I don't mean that in a bad way-- it's really fun to read young adult literature. It's just that it's often quite obvious what the author is up to.
This book is a case in point: her first 50 pages are setting the scene as any novelist would do. But Dessen goes the extra mile to make it clear to the reader what kind of high schooler the protagonist is, i.e., her modus operandi regarding guys, what clique she fits into, her personality quirks, why love is something she doesn't understand. Mature fiction (for want of a better word) will often completely skip such banalities, assuming you're going to get it on your own or that figuring that out is integral to understanding the book.
Remy is a hard-bitten, thick-skinned, not altogether nice girl on her way to Stanford, with one more summer to have flings before she does. It's a bit difficult to get past the "not nice" part, even if that girl reminds you of someone you knew during that stage of life (*cough*). Yes, it's realistic, but maybe a bit too far in one direction?
Still, I really like Dessen's writing-- it's breezy and entertaining and forthright and hey, she even does meta themes (Mom's books vs. Remy's life). I've heard her others are quite good, so they go on the list....more
For a first novel, this is a good effort. By no stretch, a great effort, as it pretty much follows the mold for every love-lohttp://tinyurl.com/culclo
For a first novel, this is a good effort. By no stretch, a great effort, as it pretty much follows the mold for every love-lost-then-regained book I've ever read. But its setting makes it worth the read-- Seattle in 1942 just after Pearl Harbor and as the Japanese internment camps were being built.
It's clear that Jamie Ford is writing from experience, that of himself, his father and his grandfather. The many descriptions of life for Henry as a Chinese-American boy, the environs of the International District in Seattle, and the early jazz recordings of the time give the book a flavor that keeps it from being wholly trite.
I'll confess to heartily enjoying the ending, no matter how obvious it was. Even though the adult Henry was never fully realized (why did he really keep so much from his son? and does their interaction actually change or just feel forced?), I still felt empathy for the character and his plight.
Don't run out and buy the book, but if you're looking for something light and entertaining, this might be an excellent choice....more
This book is for anyone who hates to have books end, who hates that they won't be able to interact with the characters any lohttp://tinyurl.com/8yvyxv
This book is for anyone who hates to have books end, who hates that they won't be able to interact with the characters any longer. Because it is one long, epic, many-faceted tale, taking you on this man's journey through Mumbai (Bombay) as a criminal, a slum-liver, a healer, a Bollywood insider, an expat, and a prisoner.
I actually am the type of person who reacts to lengthy books with a groan of despair that makes it hard to crack the spine to begin with. But there was so much variety in Shantaram that I never got tired of the tales told. If there is a better love story to India, Indians and Mumbai in particular, I don't know it (and I don't think The Far Pavilions does a better job). Roberts hearts India, and makes you desperate to visit and experience what he experienced (well, most of it).
Quibbles with the book: it's wrapped up a teeny bit too neatly. If, in fact, a lot of this actually happened to him personally, I want to know where he took liberties. Was it only the endings (of tales, of characters)? Additionally, all his characters are at heart good people with good motives-- criminals with hearts of gold and all that. A bit cliché, no? And lastly, while I understand he might not have had any direct contact with women and how they are treated in India, there is little to no mention of some of the horrors they endure in this country. I have to wonder how much else he left out....more
Disappointing. I expected this series of stories originally mentioned in the Harry Potter books to be far more engaging and thttp://tinyurl.com/7smegp
Disappointing. I expected this series of stories originally mentioned in the Harry Potter books to be far more engaging and to provide greater insight into the universe Rowling created in the HP books. To be honest, I wanted it to be just like an HP book, and it is far from that.
I think the clue we get is in the afterword, which describes how Rowling and some fancy Countess banded together to create a children's fund (which disturbingly doesn't seem to do any actual work, but is more involved in networking), and this book was written by Rowling so that its profits could aid the fund. A worthy cause, sure, and the book isn't expensive by any stretch of the imagination, but couldn't she have put a little more of her heart into it?
Instead we get decently written, but obvious, fairy tales accompanied by footnotes written by Rowling herself (dull) and annotations by Dumbledore (funny, but incongruous). The last tale does provide a tiny bit of information on why Dumbledore acted the way he did in the last couple HP books, but not enough to have made it worthwhile reading the entire Tales....more
Finally, I get a decent book from LT-- one in which I'm not rolling my eyes at the writing every few pages or wishing the thehttp://tinyurl.com/63cpzn
Finally, I get a decent book from LT-- one in which I'm not rolling my eyes at the writing every few pages or wishing the themes were less yawn-inducing. And, actually, I have no idea how well written the original book was since this is a translation of a Swedish murder mystery. Because it climbed to the top of the charts over there, I expect the decent writing is coming through in the translation (especially in terms of the descriptions of the island of Öland and its cold, harsh beauty).
There are Swedish murder mystery authors whom I've enjoyed before (Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Henning Mankell), even as their books reflect a dour sensibility among the Swedes. You never put one of these books down and feel really good about humanity. It seems to me that Theorin's book tries hard to not reflect the "nasty, brutish and short" theory of life as these others did.
However, the ending is absolutely and definitively Scandinavian. I suspect if I were Swedish it may seem fitting (and it's not as if our protagonist is left with nothing), but seeing as I'm not, it seemed particularly cruel....more
I made the mistake of reading the first Wyoming Stories collection (Close Range) before seeing Brokeback Mountain, which somehttp://tinyurl.com/5pzfqe
I made the mistake of reading the first Wyoming Stories collection (Close Range) before seeing Brokeback Mountain, which somewhat ruined the movie for me. Here's hoping none of her other stories get made into film, because I did it again.
And I'm doubting these will-- the first collection was sweeping, lonely, grandiose, heartbreaking. Pretty much everything you think of when you think of Wyoming. The second collection has stories are spiteful (Man Crawling Out of Trees), ridiculous (The Hellhole), and wrong (Florida Rental). They all seem to center on the fact that now she's lived in Wyoming for a while, has gotten used to it, lost the rose-colored glasses, and is now a teeny bit bitter about her chosen state.
She's still an excellent writer even when she's off target. Descriptions of how particular rednecks live or what the wind feels like when it blows every day all day do work. But she needs to stay away from one-liners and meandering tales that end with entirely different conclusions.
I may read Fine Just the Way It Is (the third collection of Wyoming Stories), but only if someone tells me it's better than this one....more
How very unfortunate that Simmons' duologies fail with the second book as much as they succeed in the first book. I was reallhttp://tinyurl.com/3f74j3
How very unfortunate that Simmons' duologies fail with the second book as much as they succeed in the first book. I was really looking forward to reading Olympos, the second book of this duology, until I read the abysmal reviews.
But apparently, Simmons plays even more havoc with his created world-- that of a re-imagined Trojan War, set on Mars no less, and the Earth that can no longer house true humans except those who live exactly 100 years and have no culture to speak of. Is it actually possible to include more, and more complex, characters than Zeus, LGM (little green men), Caliban, and a 1400-year-old wandering Jew? So I hear.
Consequently, I won't be reading Olympos. But I recommend Ilium with the caveat that it doesn't end tied with a neat red bow. If you don't mind that, these particular flights of fancy are engaging, for the most part well-drawn, and illuminating (as a mirror to our own lives)....more
Without reading any critiques of this book, I'm certain it's about equating music with love, and love with music. Only I can'http://tinyurl.com/48pe6c
Without reading any critiques of this book, I'm certain it's about equating music with love, and love with music. Only I can't quite figure out how. Both are beautiful, both take you to unseen places, both sustain us in hard times, both are memorable.
But in this setting? A group of famous and high-class people are kidnapped at a dinner party in some third world country and held for months in the country's VP's house. Because they are not killed outright, they grow and learn and even love together. But I don't think Patchett is only trying to create a story around Stockholm Syndrome, because why else would she make music such an important piece?
Making the characters a little too perfect rubbed me a bit the wrong way. Gen is the perfect translator, Roxane is the perfect soprano, Ruben is the perfect host. If they're all so exemplary, why is it that they make so many mistakes, up to and including the final, fatal ones?...more
I read this book in 2 sittings, 5 hours total, within a 24-hour window.
But I can't say this is a book you cannot put down. I wanted to put it down many, many times. Because it is unflinching in its portrayal of one view of a post-apocalyptic world (one that I think is closer to the truth of what would happen than similar books I've read). I gave myself little breaks in which I would stare out the window, miserable, until I was ready to soldier on.
That is precisely what the father and son in this book are doing, attempting to get to someplace warmer and hopefully peopled by the "good guys." Walking the interstates and country roads, they are emblematic of the human spirit and soul in its incredible resilience.
And yet there is so much more to the book. The father is of the dead past, and while a good guy he does not have the faith in the present and future that the son has, never having lived in the past. I don't think I've read a book in which the innocence of children is so adequately and completely described. Unfortunately, it makes the story all the more heart wrenching. I recommend it, but I also recommend that you read it as fast as you can....more