After sitting down and watching the adaptations of this novel on Netflix with Kevin Spacey in the lead role, I was hooked. I decided to read the origi...moreAfter sitting down and watching the adaptations of this novel on Netflix with Kevin Spacey in the lead role, I was hooked. I decided to read the original novels, and I was fascinated at how the character of Francis Urquhart came about. Set in the late 80's, FU is the Chief Whip for the majority party, and after the Prime Minister manages to hang onto his job, FU is expecting a sweet plum of a Cabinet position to fall into his lap. But he is passed over and FU vows a bloody revenge on the Prime Minister -- and this novel reveals the convoluted tail of ambition, power and sheer wickedness. If you've only seen the Netflix series (and if you haven't, you should) rest assured that this won't ruin anything. I found it to be an intriguing intersection with the series, and only whetted my appetite to read the rest of the series, and hoped that there will be a third season on Netflix to come. Four and a half stars, and very much recommended.
Sometimes, there are books that are so infuriating to me that it takes real self-control not to fling the offending tome into the fireplace, throw in...moreSometimes, there are books that are so infuriating to me that it takes real self-control not to fling the offending tome into the fireplace, throw in a can of kerosine after, and in goes the match. As this was on my Nook, that wasn't a possibility. But this tale of a barely adult teenager adrift in contemporary California came pretty close.
The narrator, Victoria, is a messed-up, violent, self-absorbed brat just released from the state's foster care system. She doesn't trust anyone, she doesn't have any social skills, and she tries to play the tough girl role. As we follow her story, it seems that Victoria has exactly one skill -- she's good at arranging flowers. We get to watch as she gets an under-the-table job with a florist, finds a place to live that is nothing more than a cubby-hole under a flight of stairs, and even a boyfriend -- a sensitive guy named Grant who is a floral supplier.
As things are wont to do, Victoria's life goes crazy when she gets pregnant, and this is where the novel went way off the skids for me. This train-wreck child does everything wrong -- eats out of convenience stores, doesn't get any sort of pre-natal care, doesn't try to improve the situation, and when the poor mite is born, doesn't even give it a name.
Insterspersed with all of this is Victoria's backstory, where earlier in her life, a vineyard owner named Elizabeth tried to help Victoria grow up, but then the whole thing blows up in her face. This is told with the main story in alternating chapters.
I hated this book. It's not much more than a teenager's wish-fullfilment fantasy and a damn boring read. Victoria is selfish, and self-absorbed, thinks nothing of stealing from Grant, the limp-noodle boyfriend who's oh-so-sensitive, bites every hand that tries to feed her, and in the end -- well, if you'll take this one on, you'll see.
Very disappointing read, barely one star and not recommended.
There is something about climbing mountains that I am fascinated by. I can't really describe it, but despite my current condition, I still find myself...moreThere is something about climbing mountains that I am fascinated by. I can't really describe it, but despite my current condition, I still find myself enthralled by it. No Way Down describes a day on K2, the second-highest peak in the world, when eleven hikers were killed when a glacier gave way. K2 is considered to be one of the most dangerous mountains to climb, and has a record of one in four climbers not making it back down again. That's a frightening statistic when you think of it. Bowley goes into the history of K2, the struggle in getting there, as well as the backstory of the mountaineers on that day, and the events leading up to the tragedy. While the writing is fairly sedate, it is story behind it all that is the most interesting. Four stars overall and recommended.
This was quite a read. Despite the length -- just over 200 pages -- this chronicle of the disastrous eruptions of two volcanoes in Colombia in the 198...moreThis was quite a read. Despite the length -- just over 200 pages -- this chronicle of the disastrous eruptions of two volcanoes in Colombia in the 1980's and 1990's is very well written and understandable for the lay person. Yes, there is some science in this one, but it is presented smoothly enough that it doesn't bog down the story. What is heartrending are the attitudes among scientists and politicians and sadly, the ordinary people who would pay the price for their arrogance. Geology nerds will have the best time with this one. I give it four stars and a recommendation.