Wavering between 2 and 3 stars on this one. This was an interesting take on the story of Jesus but I just didn't find it a compelling read. As a nonbe...moreWavering between 2 and 3 stars on this one. This was an interesting take on the story of Jesus but I just didn't find it a compelling read. As a nonbeliever, I wasn't shocked by the story but I can certainly see how controversial this must have been when published in 1991. I liked the view of Jesus as a real flesh and blood human, with real feelings and experiences. There were some interesting twists to well-known gospel stories that made them feel much more natural and relatable. Jesus actually seemed like someone that one could connect with.
What gave me trouble was Saramago's writing style. Ugh. In a story full of dialogue, there were no quotation marks. All dialogue was run together in extremely long paragraphs with no way to note who was speaking which sentences which became confusing at times. In addition, there were many questions asked and not a single question mark used. This style caused everything to become a flat drone in my head and felt so unnatural that it kept me removed from the story.
This book has tons of great reviews and it won the Nobel Prize for Literature but ultimately, it fell rather flat for me.(less)
Really 4.5 stars. I usually stay away from Sherlock Holmes pastiches but was tempted by this one when it was on sale for the Kindle. Anthologies are a...moreReally 4.5 stars. I usually stay away from Sherlock Holmes pastiches but was tempted by this one when it was on sale for the Kindle. Anthologies are always hit and miss but this one has the advantage of drawing from previously published works over the last few decades. I was dazzled by the big names--Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Laurie King, Anne Perry, Michael Moorcock--and luckily I was not disappointed.
While there were a few straightforward stories of the "lost case" type, most of the collection focused on the fantastical--Holmes and Watson run into aliens, demons, dinosaurs(!), time travel... And what could have been cheesy and blasphemous to the Canon was saved by the quality of the writing; almost every tale got the rhythm and feel of the original stories right.
It's interesting to read other reviews of the book and see which stories were the favorites of various readers. It's all over the board which I think reflects the high quality of the collection. My personal favorites were:
"The Adventure of the Other Detective" by Bradley H. Sinor--Watson stumbles into an alternate universe and sees what might have been.
"Mrs. Hudson's Case" by Laurie R. King--The long suffering Mrs. Hudson puts one over on Holmes. Set in the world of the Mary Russell stories.
"A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman--alt-history in which Cthulhu-like gods are monarchs of the earth.
"You See But You Do Not Observe" by Robert J. Sawyer--time travel, Schrodinger's cat, and the answer to the question of why we seem to be alone in the universe.
Very glad I stumbled upon this entertaining collection. (less)
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Anne Bonny (yes, the pirate) wakes from a mortal wound and soon f...moreI received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Anne Bonny (yes, the pirate) wakes from a mortal wound and soon finds that she has become a Sentinel, a human tasked with the reaping of fallen angels, called Perfidia. She is good at her job and has a complicated romantic relationship with her boss, the Archangel Michael. She also gets visited by her disembodied ex-lover, Con, a fellow Sentinel. When a new kind of evil entity shows up, the three have to work together to stop it.
I loved Anne. She is smart and funny without being too snarky. She's a badass who can take care of herself in a fight. And, thankfully, she doesn't suffer from the Too Stupid to Live syndrome. While the fact that she is a legendary pirate is an interesting starting point, it didn't actually add much to the story. That's okay though because Anne is a strong enough character to stand on her own, even without the pirate backstory. In fact I found the exposition of Anne's pirate days in the first few chapters a bit stiff, but once she became a Sentinel, the writing flowed very smoothly.
The book was much better than the cover and the title led me to believe. I was expecting a light, fluffy romance but the book has a lot more depth than that. I would not classify it as a romance (and that's a plus for me). There is a romantic element but it's a part of the story, it doesn't overwhelm it. I appreciate that.
The Urban Fantasy/Paranormal genre is getting very crowded these days. This book is more toward the lighthearted end of the spectrum but it's not silly at all. There is a serious, entertaining story here. I have tried many of these types of books, always on the lookout for a series I want to stick with but that happens more rarely than I would like. I'm happy to say I'm totally on board with this one and I hope there's a second book before too long.(less)
I gave this 15% (86 pages) and had to call it quits. I am a big fan of epic fantasy and am not afraid of a long series. I know it takes time to build...moreI gave this 15% (86 pages) and had to call it quits. I am a big fan of epic fantasy and am not afraid of a long series. I know it takes time to build things up when you're in for the long haul. But I just couldn't do it.
I can't remember the last time I was so confused in a book. I never got straight what the two sides were as so many characters seemed to have changed sides. And the names. Oh dear lord, the names. I found myself reading a paragraph and being unsure whether a name referred to a person or a location. In one paragraph a person's first name would be used, their second name in the next paragraph and later, their title. Considering the Dramatis Personae was five pages long, referring to a character three different ways just seems cruel.
The writing in general didn't wow me at all and I just didn't care about anybody. I rarely quit on books and I have often been rewarded by a book that took a long time to get going but ended up being really good so maybe I didn't give this a fair chance. But the death knell came when I found myself staring off into space thinking about something else entirely and being surprised to look down and see the Kindle in my hand. Nope, life's too short and the TBR list is too long.
I bought this book for a group read and so didn't read any reviews ahead of time. Looking back at them now is interesting. This has a fairly high rating and clearly has a lot of fans but I was gratified to see that I am not completely alone; there is a small group sharing my sentiments.
No rating since I didn't finish and it's clear this was just not the book for me.(less)
I came to this book through the movie. I have seen this movie many times since I was young and it's always been a favorite. I was always so struck by...moreI came to this book through the movie. I have seen this movie many times since I was young and it's always been a favorite. I was always so struck by the exotic-ness of Shangri-la and its utopian ideals and the simple rule: "Be kind."
I first read the book 10 or 15 years ago and while the movie is good, the book (no surprise) is so much better. Conway of the book is not the perfect, rugged hero and this makes him a much more interesting character. The romance angle of the movie is gone and we see Conway fall in love with Shangri-la itself and what it represents.
Very enjoyable to revisit this book. It's time to re-watch the movie.(less)
I expected to love this book, but I didn't. I teach kids and I know this book is taught in schools and I can see the themes in it that can spark some...moreI expected to love this book, but I didn't. I teach kids and I know this book is taught in schools and I can see the themes in it that can spark some good discussion. My problem was that I didn't think it was a good SF dystopian novel. There was no world building at all. How did this community get to this point? Is the entire world like this? How can you make the world featureless and take away people's ability to see color? How can these memories be transmitted? I wanted a story, not a simplistic after-school special. A book like The Hunger Games has a lot of serious ideas in for kids to think about but it's also a hell of a story. The Giver just didn't do it for me.(less)
This had been sitting on the Kindle for awhile and I wanted a quick read so I gave it a shot. Despite the too-cutesy title and the horrible cover (it...moreThis had been sitting on the Kindle for awhile and I wanted a quick read so I gave it a shot. Despite the too-cutesy title and the horrible cover (it looks as if it was done on Powerpoint by a 5th grader) this was actually a pretty fun story. The bad guy was pretty obvious from early on, but Steve and Rochester were likeable characters. I'm willing to give the second book in the series a try.(less)
Excellent ending to this series. Everything and everyone comes together to answer all the questions we've had. A very complete story for Beatrice and...moreExcellent ending to this series. Everything and everyone comes together to answer all the questions we've had. A very complete story for Beatrice and Gio and lots of interesting characters for spin-off books in the same world. (less)
Book covers have lost a lot of their importance since I started reading almost exclusively on a Kindle but in this case the cover really drew me in. T...moreBook covers have lost a lot of their importance since I started reading almost exclusively on a Kindle but in this case the cover really drew me in. There was something about the photo and the elegance of the woman that made me want to know more about her. This book had crossed my radar a couple of times and I finally picked it up when it was a Kindle Daily Deal.
Grace, unfulfilled in her marriage and living in London in the 1950's, receives a mysterious inheritance from a woman she has never heard of. She travels to Paris and slowly unravels the mystery as she comes to terms with her own life. The action shifts between Grace's story in the 1950's, and that of Grace's benefactress, Eva D'Orsey, a brilliant young girl constrained by her limited circumstances in 1920's Paris.
I found the story engrossing from the very beginning and the author paints a wonderfully vivid picture of both settings. I cared a lot about both Grace and Eva and didn't want to put the book down. The references to perfume were interesting and intriguing without being overwhelming, much the way a good perfume should be. I haven't actually worn perfume since 1988 or so but after reading this book I feel like I need to at least walk by a perfume counter and take a whiff next time I get a chance.(less)
Bernd Heinrich is a consummate naturalist and this book is a wonderful record of his year-long sabbatical from the University of Vermont to live in hi...moreBernd Heinrich is a consummate naturalist and this book is a wonderful record of his year-long sabbatical from the University of Vermont to live in his cabin in the Maine woods. He chronicles the changes in the seasons as he observes not only the things the rest of us might see, but so much more. This is not a person who takes a quick ramble through the woods listening to a few birds. This is a person who sits for hours at a time absorbing every detail of what is happening around him. The long detailed descriptions of things make the book rather slow moving at times. However, I luxuriated in it, and came away with a renewed appreciation of the world around me and a resolution to slow myself down on the long daily dog walks and experience my surroundings more fully.(less)
The third book in this Cold War era cozy thriller series has Julia in Switzerland helping to recover the fortune of a young heiress and oh, by the way...moreThe third book in this Cold War era cozy thriller series has Julia in Switzerland helping to recover the fortune of a young heiress and oh, by the way, some secret plans that need to be kept from the communists. One of my favorite aspects of these books are the great descriptions the author gives of the settings. They are very vivid and create a wonderful atmosphere.
As the title suggests, a numbered Swiss bank account plays a major role in the story. There was an interesting discussion in the book (published in 1960) about the fact that the Swiss banks kept millions of dollars belonging to Jews who died during WWII and made it virtually impossible for their heirs to access the accounts, a controversy that continues today.
I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.(less)
When I finished Abaddon's Gate, the final book in the first trilogy in the Expanse universe, it felt so complete that I predicted the next trilogy wou...moreWhen I finished Abaddon's Gate, the final book in the first trilogy in the Expanse universe, it felt so complete that I predicted the next trilogy would be set farther in the future. I was wrong and I'm happy about that.
Abaddon's Gate ended with the ring gate opening up thousands of worlds to humanity. Are we ready for it? Absolutely not. Is that going to stop us? Has it ever? While everyone is trying to figure out how to go about studying these new planets, a refugee ship from Ganymede blasts on through and illegally colonizes a planet. A company ship with a UN charter follows a couple of years later and the conflict for the book is set. Holden gets sent out as a mediator, and hurray! the crew of the Rocinante is back in the thick of it.
As usual, the story is told from four POVs, a literary device at which the authors excel. We have Holden; Havelock, a security officer on the company ship; Elvi, a company exobiologist; and Basia, a colonist. They are all characters with complicated motivations and I quickly came to care deeply about all of them.
Once again, I love how real the story feels. The physics are believable--in fact, the action all takes place without interference from the solar system because it takes months for ships to reach the planet. And as always, the human actions and interactions are frustratingly true to life. The villain of the story may be just a tad over the top but it makes the story very exciting. There's tons of action throughout as the planet itself becomes a major player in the drama.
I was on the last page of the epilogue and just settling into that special feeling of contentment that you can only get from finishing a great book when I squeed a little. (view spoiler)[My favorite character, Bobbie Draper, of whom we've had only the briefest of glimpses since the second book, meets with Chrisjen Avasarala, the UN politician.
"This dinner. We're at a recruitment meeting, aren't we?" Avasarala folded her hands. "Bobbie, as long as we're all pushing out our [pawns]..." "Yes?" "I need to put you back on the board, soldier."