Frankly, reading the reviews here on Goodreads is about two times as entertaining as reading this book. "It's not like Harry Potter!" "I hated everyon...moreFrankly, reading the reviews here on Goodreads is about two times as entertaining as reading this book. "It's not like Harry Potter!" "I hated everyone!" "OMG! Bad words! Sexuality! I AM DISAPPOINTED IN YOU, JK ROWLING."
I didn't think A Casual Vacancy was bad. I didn't think it was particularly good, either. I'd rather say it was as firmly mediocre as the Pope is Catholic. Also, I wasn't exactly sure what it wanted to be - a comedy of manners? Not funny enough. A sociocritical work? Too cartoonish. There are a lot of great novels with not exactly to zero sympathetic characters, but Rowling lacks the sensitivy, empathy and knowledge of human nature for that; her characters seemed to be taken completely from the Wikipedia page of their respective social issue. The clunky writing style didn't help either.
Although I must admit I'd be more well-disposed towards this novel if it wasn't for the pointless rape scene, a particular pet peeve of mine. I do realize I'm almost falling into the same trap as the readers I've made fun of in the first paragraph; I try not to do too much pearl-clutching, but as a humourless shrieky feminist there are things I just can't help but point out.(less)
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is like a Hieronymus Bosch painting: bizarre but beautiful, and oh so rich.
The book's about: the devil, a...moreThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is like a Hieronymus Bosch painting: bizarre but beautiful, and oh so rich.
The book's about: the devil, an unsuccessful writer, his unhappily married lover Margarita and Pontius Pilatus. Also, that is completely beside the point. For me at least - this is absolutely one of those books where different people will favour different things, because there's just so much material, so many layers to work with. Satire? A portrait of the Soviet Union in the 1930s? An epic love story? Tales of redemption? Philosophy? Legends and the occult? Art and the artist? You'll find everthing.
For me, it was rich imagery; I could immerse myself in that book, see, hear, touch everything myself, and it was just so stunning and so much to discover, so many thoughts, so many pictures, that I'm sure you could read it again and again and always discover something new. It was magic. I couldn't put it down and at the same time I wanted to read it slowly, slowly, to absorb absolutely everything, not miss anything, not leave its pages at all and ever again.(less)
I'm really, really disturbed by the majority of two star reviews here dismissing the book because of its LGBT content. It's been two years since I rea...moreI'm really, really disturbed by the majority of two star reviews here dismissing the book because of its LGBT content. It's been two years since I read it, so I don't exactly remember how graphic it was, but if I had to make an educated guess it wasn't half as graphic as your average heterosexual romance novel.
Let me be clear here: I didn't like this book. At all. I didn't like it because the Holocaust story seemed tacked on and deliberately made to fit the fairy tale for dramatic effect and that just seems tasteless and wrong. Like, HEY I WANT TO WRITE A GRITTY FAIRY-TALE RETELLING OH I KNOW LET'S THROW IN THE HOLOCAUST.
I didn't like it because the author would throw in bits and pieces of German and Polish that were, at least in the case of German, grammatically incorrect. That fucking annoyed me because surely there was an editor involved who was actually paid for eliminating these slips! Editor: do your fucking work. It's not that hard to ask native speakers, either!
So yeah, I did not like this book. But now that I've read the reviews I'm kind of inclined to go up with my rating just to avoid being lumped together with all the people going on about the ~*~dangerous content~*~ of this book. THE DANGEROUS CONTENT THAT WAS ONE GAY CHARACTER DEAR GOD GET YOUR TIN FOIL HATS OUT THE WORLD IS GOING TO END. I mean, remember history class? The Nazi mass murder of millions of people because of their ethnicity, religion, disability, political and, yes, sexual orientation? And all you do is getting worked up over the portrayal of a homosexual character? DUDE THIS IS SO WRONG I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN.
I'm sure such an offense to your delicate sensibilities is really hard to digest. A lot harder than the mass murder of millions of people because of their ethnicity, religion, disability, political and sexual orientation! I completely understand! Also, it's really a disappointment that (SPOILER) it was Briar Rose's prince who was gay! OH NOES! No sappy, neatly heterosexual romance against the background of mass murder which would make this so tragical I'd have to use up a whole box of Kleenex! HOW CAN YOU DEPRIVE ME OF MY SAPPY, NEATLY HETEROSEXUAL ROMANCE AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF MASS MURDER!
In a nutshell, FACEPALM. There's a lot of reasons why one could dislike this book, what with the bad writing and shallow characterization and gratuitious Polish/German and, oh yes, the problematic use of the Holocaust as a plot device, so I suggest checking the priorities here.(less)
For some reason I started with book no 3 of this series and then worked my way backwards to no 1, which in itself shows that they were fairly entertai...moreFor some reason I started with book no 3 of this series and then worked my way backwards to no 1, which in itself shows that they were fairly entertaining as far as thrillers and crime novels go: I usually have the attention span of a fruit fly and give up after the first book, especially in that genre. One thing that kept me reading was that the author not only tells part of the story from the perspective of the victim, but actually gives them some agenda.
HOWEVER. Can we stop referring to assistant Assad in the most racist terms possible? (Look at him! Eating and drinking that weird shit all the time! And how cute, he sometimes doesn't know the right words in Danish! "Is Lasse Jensen an ordinary name", isn't that adorable! Also, desert! Camels! "Driving like a taxi driver in Beirut"! THOSE EXOTIC MIDDLE EASTERN PEOPLE, AMIRITE.) And can we stop judging every woman the male lead meets by the quality of their boobs or ass? (I mean, literally the first scene with the love interest: she wears an extremely short fur and he thinks how great her ass is.) It's not cute, or funny, and as far as painting him as an anti-hero, it's not very original either. ---OH WAIT. There are some women he doesn't objectify all the time, like his estranged wife whom he continually refers to as irrational and slutty! Because she sleeps with other men! And not him! BITCHES BE CRAZY.
In short, enjoyed it for the suspenseful plot and went LALALA I DIDN'T HEAR YOU at the "light" parts. (less)
Jakob von Gunten is possibly the weirdest book I've read in my life, and this is coming from someone who had a phase reading Victorian porn novels. Th...moreJakob von Gunten is possibly the weirdest book I've read in my life, and this is coming from someone who had a phase reading Victorian porn novels. Three stars because I can't decide if I like it or not. Hell, I'm not even sure what it's about.(less)
I'm not much of a re-reader. My To-Read stack's towering over me with a disapproving face (eh, it would if it had one) when I think of re-reading a bo...moreI'm not much of a re-reader. My To-Read stack's towering over me with a disapproving face (eh, it would if it had one) when I think of re-reading a book. A glimpse to Goodreads confirms that. I'm slowly re-reading the Discworld series, but at my current speed I'm done when I'm 90 years old. So no third re-read. The only book on there I've read actually more than three times is The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes by R. A. Stemmle (Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war, I don't think there really is an English translation).
Now I know what you think: uh-oh, Sherlock Holmes fanfiction written by a German author. That can't end well. The book however has little to do with Sherlock Holmes; in fact, the joke actually is that the Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes isn't Sherlock Holmes at all. (No, that's not a spoiler.) The book starts with two unsuccessful private detectives, Morris Flynn and Mackie MacMacpherson on their way to the World Expo in Brussels dressing up as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson - to attract more clients, obviously. Of course that plan backfires mightily as they get themselves into a big mess involving dastardly bank robbers, the theft of the Mauritius stamps, counterfeiting and two fair dames waiting to be rescued. And who's the guy who breaks down laughing every time he sees them?
It's not great literature, but it's a fun, comforting little book that makes me feel good about myself again when I need it; and sometimes, that's all a book should be. Sherlock Holmes fans won't get much out of it, I'm afraid (as it really has nothing to do with the source material beyond a superficial level), but while the character Sherlock Holmes has never done much for me, Morris Flynn was one of my first literary crushes. For illustration, picture my eight year old self sighing along with the two fair damsels in distress - would he return our affections? Which one of us would he choose? The heart-wrenching fictional adventures we had, I tell you. (There's also a movie starring Heinz Rühmann and Hans Albers ... who's so miscast as Flynn/Holmes it makes my little eight year old fangirl heart weep.)(less)
There are two amazing facts about this book: one, that my not very good French is actually good enough to follow the plot*, and two, that the human sp...moreThere are two amazing facts about this book: one, that my not very good French is actually good enough to follow the plot*, and two, that the human species still exists after 19th century educational methods.
* Granted, it's not overly complicated.**
** It's actually just a lot of animal cruelty so far.(less)
It's weird how reading can make you feel so close to someone. I've been reading books by and from Wilde since I was fourteen years old, and I've start...moreIt's weird how reading can make you feel so close to someone. I've been reading books by and from Wilde since I was fourteen years old, and I've started caring about him like he was a friend of mine. Does that sound silly? I assume it does. Nevertheless, it did make reading this book a challenge, since I kept choking up at certain parts. Sometimes, I could only read one letter a day.
It felt very personal, very intrusive: this wasn't the idealized, idolized hero of my lonely teenage years, but a real, living, breathing person with all their magnificent flaws and faults. Oscar Wilde, always playing a scene, so convincing that he ended up believing himself: that he'd love married life, that Lord Alfred was an angel among humans, that Lord Alfred was a devil among humans, that he'd live a reformed, quiet life in the country after being released from prison (like Francesco d'Assisi!), that living together with Lord Alfred would bring his old self back. So deluded, so stubborn, so self-destructive; yet such a dazzling personality, such a kind friend, such a loving father. Human nature is very complicated indeed.
But what about this book? It includes letters from his early childhood days till the sad last days in Paris. They paint an encompassing picture of his life, although I wish I'd be able to read the answers from the recipients, too, just to be able to see their point of view - the letters from Constance and Robbie Ross that were included were very interesting in that regard. Nevertheless I recommend this book, although you should have some knowledge of his life prior to starting it or it might get a tad confusing. (Barbara Belford or Richard Ellmann are good starting points.)(less)