I'd give this about a 2.5, somewhere between "it was okay" and "I liked it."
First the good: the story of Biscuit was compelling, and I read, or at le...moreI'd give this about a 2.5, somewhere between "it was okay" and "I liked it."
First the good: the story of Biscuit was compelling, and I read, or at least skimmed, until the end because I wanted to know what happened. I was also struck by the disappearance of Gattino, and find myself still thinking about him even after I've finished the book. I learned a lot of random but interesting facts about cats. As a cat lover, I found the history of feline domestication, the science of cat vocalizations, and the anecdotes about the author's cats to be very interesting and memorable.
What I disliked: I found the writing to be too pretentious a lot of the time and only skimmed through parts of it. The interwoven memories were often compelling, but I found the book too hard to follow at times. I didn't need it to be chronological, but would have liked more clues at the beginning of each section to know what time period he was talking about. Some parts were too repetitive, and the work as a whole could have used another round of editing.
Not a bad book at all. If you've ever had a cat you truly loved, you'd probably appreciate at least that aspect of the story. It probably says more about me than the book when I say that I would have preferred much more about the cats and less of the author's personal meditations on his life.
Shorter and much faster paced than The Passage. I didn't love it quite as much, but I also couldn't put it down and spent two whole days doing very li...moreShorter and much faster paced than The Passage. I didn't love it quite as much, but I also couldn't put it down and spent two whole days doing very little accept reading this book.
My main gripe about The Passage was how many characters were well-developed and then died. Or at least we thought they died. Many of those characters reappeared in The Twelve, which I very much enjoyed. (Except Lila, who I just did not get, but, meh.)
The plot unfolded so quickly that I did not fully grasp what was going on. There also seemed to be a lot more plot holes, or at least logical leaps, that I found harder to ignore or forgive than in the first book.
I plan to reread this one so I can actually take the time to enjoy it, rather than racing to the end to find out what the heck was going to happen. I have a hunch I'm going to love it a lot more once I let myself just slow down and enjoy the prose.
If you enjoyed the first book and were frustrated by it's cliffhanger ending, you'll want to read this.(less)
I really, really wanted to love this book. Massie's 'Nicholas & Alexandra' is one of my favorite books, so I was looking forward to this update no...moreI really, really wanted to love this book. Massie's 'Nicholas & Alexandra' is one of my favorite books, so I was looking forward to this update now that much new information is available from the Russian archives. Overall, though the information it contained was good, this book was a disappointment.
First of all, the organization was weird. Rounding begins with chapters organized by topic, but about halfway through switches to organizing each chapter chronologically, starting over again with the beginning of their relationship. This seems really odd to me. As a historian and Russophile, I know enough of the story to understand what was going on, but someone less familiar with the Romanov family would probably get lost at the start of the book. Weaving the themes throughout the chronology is pretty standard for biographies, and deviating from that did not work well in this book.
Secondly, the writing seemed very amateur to me. It read more like a graduate thesis than a work by a professional historian or writer. There were too many personal interjections and the editing seemed a little sloppy. There were also numerous instances where I felt like Rounding was really trying to force the story to fit her theme, rather than allowing the story to unfold.
It was not a terrible book by any means. I enjoyed the increased emphasis on Nicky and Alix as people rather than political figures. There was some information that was new to me; the role of Anna Vyrubova was especially interesting.
Overall, though, I found myself wishing that the book featuring all this new material about Nicholas and Alexandra had been written by someone more experienced. I'd much rather read another book by Robert Massie, updated with the new archival information, but alas, that does not yet exist. This book is interesting, but simply not as good as it could have been.(less)
My friend recommended this book to me because I am a newlywed and an expat, although in London, not Nagoya. He thought I'd be amused by the stories ab...moreMy friend recommended this book to me because I am a newlywed and an expat, although in London, not Nagoya. He thought I'd be amused by the stories about doing laundry, particularly as I often complain about the lack of clothes dryers jhere in the UK.
I read this book in just a day, and found myself laughing out loud toward the beginning (I did indeed love the part about laundry) and tearing up toward the end (the themes of homesickness and changing friendships really resonated with me).
This book certainly wasn't perfect. As other reviewers have noted, the author was not always likeable and often included unnecessary details (sex, smoking, drugs) that took away from the overall narrative.
However, the prose was generally sharp, the stories amusing, and I found this book to be a very satisfying read. It's not really about Japanese culture at all; it's about being an American living abroad, and I'd certainly recommend this to any of my expat friends. It's nice to know sometimes that you're not the only one in a situation, and being able to laugh at it makes it a lot easier!(less)
This book wasn't perfect, but it was really enjoyable. I listened to the audiobook while at work, and it kept my attention throughout. A really intere...moreThis book wasn't perfect, but it was really enjoyable. I listened to the audiobook while at work, and it kept my attention throughout. A really interesting take on vampires. I'm looking forward to the next volume!(less)