I'd like to thank the author, Vivian Rider, for generously providing this copy, but it wasn't in exchange of an honest review. There were no stipulati I'd like to thank the author, Vivian Rider, for generously providing this copy, but it wasn't in exchange of an honest review. There were no stipulations whatsoever. I didn't even request a copy. She approached me simply because I'd expressed a curiosity about her second book. Her generosity seems to be boundless, as she signed it and made it out to my son, alongside a little giraffe doodle. Interesting enough, she didn't even know at the time that Carter loves giraffes, which made this gift even more special. We shall guard it with our hearts, and cherish it forever.
I'd read books to Carter in the past, but that was before he showed any interest in books. It was also before his attention span lasted more than a minute, two minutes tops. Now that he's a thriving three year old (he's three and a half now,) our experience couldn't have been more different. Carter didn't just listen, he stood next to me and "helped" turn the pages. Cara's brief prayer of gratitude captivated us in ways that no other children's book had before, and none have had that honor since. Within the pages, Vivian passionately explores the vast wilderness of the world, as seen from a child's eyes. Also from Cara's perspective is God's beauty and grace, His generosity and spirit. There's a certain innocence there that cannot be explained, denied or seen anywhere else. This is truly a book in its own class.
Literally every page is beautifully illustrated with the utmost precision. These aren't your typical illustrations, either. From cover to cover, the color schemes are bright and breathtaking, and certainly unique and creative. My words on display here can't do the book justice.
I am incredibly impressed, Vivian, and I'm anxious to read and share your other work with Carter. From our family to yours, this is a job well done!...more
D.H. Lawrence's 1926 classic short story, The Rocking Horse Winner pulls at your heartstrings from the get-go and refuses to let go until its tragic D.H. Lawrence's 1926 classic short story, The Rocking Horse Winner pulls at your heartstrings from the get-go and refuses to let go until its tragic culmination. As seen below, the opening paragraph does more than make for an emotional first impression, Lawrence's impressive and somehow beautiful prose sucks you in immediately, making it impossible to put down.
"There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her, and in her manner she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children, as if she loved them very much. Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. Everybody else said of her: "She is such a good mother. She adores her children." Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other's eyes."
From there, it only gets better. The dialogue is spot-on, relevant, and lifelike. The pictures that Lawrence delivers to the reader is incredibly vivid, increasingly compelling (I couldn't finish it fast enough, really,) and though there are little details like the protagonist's "uncanny blue eyes" that are emphasized for whatever reason, every word serves a purpose. It never felt verbose or unnecessary. On the contrary, literally every word is essential.
I have no more to say, other than read it for yourself if you haven't. Even if you have (this was a re-read for me,) give it another go, it's totally worth it. ...more
Disclaimer: Jason is a friend of mine, but even if he wasn't, my opinions would stand. The writing is excellent, his characters are finely developed aDisclaimer: Jason is a friend of mine, but even if he wasn't, my opinions would stand. The writing is excellent, his characters are finely developed and there are plenty of twists to keep you guessing. Add to all that a sadistic antagonist who's unlike any I've encountered and you've got a top notch, edge-of-seat paranormal thriller. Not for the faint of heart.
I mentioned the writing, which is refined and precise, but there's one paragraph in particular that I had to include, if only because it has stuck with me in the intervening months since I finished this book. It's been a month. It is not only my favorite passage, but the creativity and uniqueness of it must be commended. Phenomenal writing, Jason!
The house was more bisymmetrical than a human face and sort of looked like one, too. Windows on each side of the front door served as its eyes, gazing upon the outside world while their shutter-lids kept the outside from looking in. The door was its long, flat nose, the stairs its clenched teeth.
Not a face. A skull.
As good as that it, the author builds upon it in the next paragraph, in ways that are incredibly profound and awe-inspiring.
The only qualms I had were with the premonitions themselves (view spoiler)[and the fact that, for the most part, what Michael sees turns out to be reality. (hide spoiler)] And because of this, the denouement felt far too easy. Earlier in the novel, some of the details make the protagonist's job harder, and tells us that (view spoiler)[his visions aren't always reliable, but in the end, he pretty much knew what was going to happen (all that was missing were some of the how's and why's) and so the obstacles were a lot easier to overcome. One aspect of it that I did appreciate and respect was Jason's unwillingness to give it a happy ending. That's right, Tessa bludgeoned his pitiful being to death in all its glory, and it was grand, in a wholly morbid manner. (hide spoiler)] He also didn't wrap everything up with neat bow ties, which leaves some things open.
Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto was originally published on Christmas Eve, 1764, and would serve as a primary origin in holiday pub Introduction
Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto was originally published on Christmas Eve, 1764, and would serve as a primary origin in holiday publication. It's also considered one of the first gothic horror stories. Traditionally, the genre was characterized by settings in or "around ancient castles or monasteries deep in the gloomy forests, [and] involving proud Italian or Spanish nobles and the machinations of corrupt ecclesiastics." This was a quickly growing literary trend. Some willing participants include Anne Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Matthew Lewis, Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin, and much later, Bram Stoker's Dracula. All of these works, and many others, featured Walpole's signature setting and era, which almost always took place in Catholic countries.
Robert Lewis Stevenson, however, changed the face of the horror genre. He accomplished this feat by incorporating many unique traits, but two things that proved most effective were: (1. modernizing his horrific tale, set in what was then present day London, and (2. he veered away from the countryside and allowed the action to unravel in the city. With its urban surroundings, all the action, intrigue and mystery had a chance to earnestly breathe, perhaps for the first time, and took on a menacing shape all its own. In this way, it feels all too real. Stevenson supplanted the reader in his world, his locale. You're right there alongside Utterson, Jekyll and Hyde. Also prevalent and valid here are adequate doses of psychology (thus amplifying the suspense and fodder for many stimulating conversations,) a sprinkling of philosophy, science, religion (two subjects that ordinarily oppose each other, but somehow Stevenson made work,) and a decently developed cast. Combine all these stellar ingredients, and you have the formula for a cataclysmic masterpiece. One that only Stevenson could have written.
Thematically, the author showcased his raw talent and maturity as he continued to delve deep into ideas he's begun to explore in The Body Snatcher and Olalla. Like the latter, a largely metaphorical tale of vampirism that emphasizes "forms of atavistic forms," Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde marked a return to similar themes. The masks we wear to conceal our insecurities and sin are very clear here, as is Stevenson's passion for his art.
It went deeper than that..
"..we were all startled by this transformation, as if a man had risen from the dead."
A mere two years prior to what would become his most beloved novel, he wrote The Body Snatcher," therein beginning to explore the transformation of self, personal identity, and what it meant to lead double lives. In Jekyll and Hyde, however, his vision was fully realized and developed, his craft honed.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
This was a re-read for me. I first read it in high school, but recalled very little of its details. The bare minimum, really, and what I did remember proved unreliable. So when the buddy read came up (Stepheny, Holly, Anne, Tadiana, Jeff, Delee, and myself,) I was all for it, and greatlylooked forward to it. Thanks again, guys, it was loads of fun and proved very rewarding.
The short novel is presented, in many ways, as a legal "case," as the narrator, Mr. Utterson, is a lawyer propositioned by Mr. Enfield. The two couldn't be more different, but they're united in their desperate attempt to ascertain the whereabouts of their friend, Henry Jekyll, MD. As they reluctantly plumb the mysteries of the case, peculiar and disturbing evidence (especially in light of its publication date,) came to the forefront, forcing them to act...despite their hesitation. Because doing so meant acknowledging the presence of evil in the world, and if one could become infected like a victim of Captain Trips, then they might also be just as susceptible. As are we all. I think that's what Stevenson was trying to instill. We're all capable of sin, of great evil. Lesser men fall prey to its appealing nature. It takes stronger men to lead a virtuous life. Contrary to what some may believe, there is no such thing as being either good or evil. The world is rarely black and white.
The psychological aspects, as well as the psychotic, made for very compelling reading. All of the above was a lot of fun. Stevenson's stunning way with words impressed me very much, and immensely added to my overall experience. The psychology of its Soho, London setting, however, is something of a rare gem. I'd never read anything quite like it. It's thrice as fascinating. See for yourself:
"..A great chocolate-coloured pall lowered over heaven, but the wind was continually charging and routing these assembled vapours; so that as the cab crawled from street to street, Mr Utterson beheld a marvelous number of degrees and hues of twilight... As the cab drew up before the address indicated, the fog lifted a little and showed him a dingy street, a gin palace, a low French eating house, a shop for the retail of penny numbers and twopenny salads, many ragged children huddled in the doorways, and many women of many different nationalities passing out, key in hand, to have a morning glass; and the next moment the fog settled down again on that part, as brown as umber, and cut him off from his blackguardly surroundings..
The narrative itself is somewhat unique, for eight of the ten chapters are shown from Utterson's beautiful and haunted eyes. The penultimate from Dr. Lanyon's POV, and the conclusion from Jekyll himself. Tt had to be written that way, too, due to the way in which Chapter Eight ends. The novel is brilliant on many, many levels.
Unfortunately, I found the ending somewhat disappointing and anti-climatic. (view spoiler)[Seeing the events unfolding from Lanyon and Jekyll was interesting, even fascinating at times. Especially the latter. Like I said though, I think the conclusion itself is anti-climatic and quite poignant. I appreciate the fact that it isn't a "happily-ever-after" type resolution. A good horror story should rarely, if ever, feel happy. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I wanted much more. A significant and mind-blowing confrontation between Jekyll and Hyde, reminiscent of a classic X-Men battle or something, but sadly that never happens. Admittedly, you do see Jekyll earnestly struggling with the nefarious parts of himself, a battle of right and wrong, of wills, but it's all internal. The only external portion is in the death itself.
Regarding the rather abrupt and strange change and sunsequent demise of Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll, to an extent, there are some "interesting" theories that I thought I might share: "'..I have brought on myself a punishment and a danger that I cannot name'" recalls, and would certainly bring to mind in Utterson, friend of "down-going men," language associated with two conditions which preoccupied medics and moralists at the time: syphilis, and the supposed pathological effects of masturbation, both of which were believed to be retribution for carnal indulgence...." (hide spoiler)]
-Courtesy of a footnote in the Penguin Classics edition. The theory is quite long and goes into more detail, but said compound sentence is the gist of the theory.
The Body Snatcher
Inspired by real-life Resurrection Men in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1828, this short offering is coupled equally with vivid details, gritty exposition, compelling-albeit shady-- characters, and a denouement that shook me to the core, The Body Snatcher will render you breathless. At the same time, it left me wanting much more. It's like a prologue to potentially great novel.
I'm not sure how I feel about this one.. On one end of the spectrum, it's incredibly beautiful and profound. The story itself, and the players populating it, are impressively complex. Particularly the thought processes and motivations behind their questionable actions. Of the narrator, whom shall remain nameless, I would have loved to known him better (his upbringing, involvement in the Carlist Wars, etc...,) but you get enough of a sense of him, everything being very much in the present, that it's sufficient. Spanning to its opposite end, parts of Olalla are relatively simple. My favorite character, Felipe, openly personifies said simplicity. Simultaneously, there's a palpable unease emanating from the dilapidated mansion, rolling in-or out-- like an invisible shroud ascending from the depths of hell. There's more to it than a super exciting, amped up, horrific high point of the plot, too, as Stevenson alludes to a plentiful and fascinating history pertaining to the locale. Yet, he doesn't deliver. If this had been anything other than a short story, I have no doubt that he would have delighted his readers with a colorful history, and delved deeper into his characters. Themes of unrequited love, redemption, and atavism certainly play their parts, but for me, the shocking twist near the end (I had a vague notion of where it was going, thanks to the introduction, and I STILL didn't see it coming,) really threw me up, over the top. The denouement left me wanting more. A lot more. Ultimately, I'm saddened..
"..It was a fine day, and the woods to which I led him were green and pleasant and sweet-smelling and alive with the hum of insects. Here he [Felipe] discovered himself in a fresh character, mounting up to heights of gaiety that abashed me, and displaying an energy and grace of movement that delighted my eye. He leaped, he ran around me in mere glee; he would stop, and look and listen, and seemed to drink in the world like a cordial; and then he would suddenly spring into a tree with one bound, and hang and gambol there like one at home.."
Unfortunately, this is abridged.. According to the January, 1888, issue of Scribner's Magazine, whom originally published Stevenson's essay, he was often inspired by the images contained in his dreams. The origin of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is no exception. He wrote, "..And then, while he [Stevenson] was yet a student...he began, that is to say, to dream in sequence and thus to lead a double life-one of the day, one of the night-- one that he had every reason to believe was the true one, another that he had no means of proving to be false...Well, in his dream life he passed a long day in the surgical theatre, his heart in his mouth, his teeth on edge, seeing malformations and the abhorred dexterity of surgeons.." In the five pages comprising this inferior version, he goes into the vivid details of his dreamscapes. I love stuff like this. I really, really much to get my hands and mind on the essay in full. Even more enlightening, Stevenson does not take full credit: he claims his "sleepless Brownies" (or the Muse) collaborated with him in the creation of his work. It's like a dream within many dreams, revealing exponentially more than I've disclosed here.
Diagnosing Jekyll: The Scientific Context to Dr Jekyll's Experiment and Mr Hyde's Embodiment
Interestingly enough, Stevenson’s wife, Fanny, recollected him being blown away by an article on sub-consciousness which was yet another inspiration for him. In addition to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde being in “legal case” format, it’s regarded in part as a fictitious “case-study” in what was then referred to as “morbid psychology.” Numerous sources voiced their opinions on this aspect, and the novel in general, including a critic from The Times. He was curious if the work was “a flash of intuitive psychological research,” and went on to claim that its conclusion put everything into account, “upon strictly scientific grounds, though the science of problematic futurity.” Alongside the author’s personal circle, Stevenson’s comrade, John Addington Symonds, was dissatisfied with it overall, on the basis that it contributed artistically “to a process” that took “place in the physical and biological sciences of reducing individual freedom to zero, and weakening the sense of responsibility.”
But the author of this section and the marvelous introduction, Robert Mighall, delves ever-deeper. He though it advantageous to analyze the novel’s scientific context of both Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde. He examined its historical aspects, as well. Conveniently divided into four brief sections, Mighall begins with Double Consciousness:
“..an evolution of two memories..” Through very rare, there were patient’s, even then, whose memories were separate of one another, while in the guise of a single, mentally sound individuals.
“I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to either, it was only because I was radically both.”
An adequate underscoring of said pathology is equally important.
(II) Moral Insanity:
Pathologists, or as they were then known, alienists, were earnestly troubled with the idea of moral insanity. In all fairness, the term’s meaning and presumption of it (especially the way it sounds currently,) didn’t necessarily jive. In the late 19th century, it was characterized by “eccentric or inappropriate behavior.” Such practices were implemented in large part with the publication of James Cowles Prichard’s Treatise on Insanity and Other Disorders Affecting the Mind, circa 1835. I’m almost positive that Stevenson was vastly influenced by the work, as there are simply too many similarities.
“If each, I told myself, could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable.”
(III) Criminal Responsibility:
In Jekyll’s mind, Hyde is akin to his nether element, and he’s described as having ape-like tendencies. If the physician’s to be believed, Hyde was animalistic, both superficially and behaviorally. He even makes an off-hand comment on how furred he was. It’s interesting to note the astounding correlations between the text and that of eugenics co-founder, Francis Galton (cousin to Charles Darwin,) regarding the indescribable countenance of Hyde, and the scientist’s photographic experiments in criminality.
(IV) Sexual Perversion:
Around the same time as the novel’s publication in 1886, another work, though non-fiction, would prove just as controversial and at the same time, sensational, if not more so. That book was Psychopathia Sexualis, by Richard Von Krafft-Ebing. Within the textbook’s pages, sexology became a major contender. The German Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology documented a plethora of lust-murderers, beastality fiends, and exhibitionists, amongst other taboo subjects, and their disturbing connections to sexual deviation. Like the alienists of the time, Krafft-Ebing attempted to define that ever-present fine line between crime and “mental pathology.” Sexology was primarily tasked with categorizing perversions. I think it’s safe to say that the world’s perception of sex was eternally altered.
Psychopathia Sexualis also resulted in countless fans and critics alike of Jekyll and Hyde to form theories pertaining to Stevenson’s intent. And rightly so; there are several cases of sexual innuendo which aren’t hard to miss. ” ‘Down-going men,’ ” being the least of them.
The two works also seemed to share startling connections, if only indirectly, to the Ripper killings, as all three coincided with each other. I can’t speak for the professor’s work (though it seems to be implied,) but as a result of the everything going on, Stevenson’s tale sparked civil and social unrest, as crime rates skyrocketed. No one, especially prostitutes, for obvious reasons, felt safe.
“The wild beast…is slumbering in us all. It is not necessary always to invoke insanity to explain its awakening.” -Dr. Edward Charles Spitzka, December 1888
“The Dragonbone Chair stood like a strange alter-untenanted, surrounded by bright, dancing motes of dust, flanked by statues of the Hayholt’s six Hig
“The Dragonbone Chair stood like a strange alter-untenanted, surrounded by bright, dancing motes of dust, flanked by statues of the Hayholt’s six High Kings..”
Last fall, my good friend and fellow A Song of Ice and Fire enthusiast, Cheryl Hall, invited me to join her in the reading of The Dragonbone Chair. I immediately said yes, for four reasons: Tad Williams was a new author for me, one I’d been curious about every since the 1998 publication of City of Golden Shadow, Book I in his Otherland series; I love the fantasy genre, and; I very much look forward to buddy read’s. But what really piqued my interest was the fact that Williams novel was a significant influence in George R.R. Martin's writing of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Tad Williams impressed me almost instantaneously. His simplistic style lends the prose an ease of flow rarely seen in epic fantasy, without sacrificing its vivid nature, as well as other important qualities. And while the first half did drag somewhat, I found it quite compelling. The words used weren’t wasted, as Williams took the time and effort to develop Simon’s character, whom I grew to adore, alongside a select few supporting characters. However, I thought the lack of well-roundedness in some of the other characters left much to be desired. Hopefully we’ll get more backstory in the books to come. But that isn’t all. He also provided some fascinating history of the peaceful land, Osten Ard, and especially that of the elvishlike Sithi. His world-building skills aren’t bad, either, though perhaps my expectations were too high. Unrealistic, even.
As Jarnauga intoned, there are “stories within stories,” here.
Things really began to take shape in Part Two, aptly entitled, Simon Pilgrim, and even more so in the next, Simon Snowlock. Particularly throughout the third section, the writing became more crisp, enriched with deep, meaning friendships between these characters as they journeyed forth. Tensions solidified, alliances were formed, the supernatural beautifully uplifted. Most intriguing of all, excluding the various political scheming and its ramifications (which I enjoyed almost as much,) was Williams incorporation of prophecy:
“And Shadows walk upon the road When water blackens in the Well Three Swords must come again..”
From Part Three onward, this California native recognized his strengths and kneaded them meticulously, until his mold became equally incredible and unexpected. And unbelievable, really. All this, and much more, wasn’t merely written for his benefit, but for his reader’s enjoyment, as well. None of it felt contrived, idealistic, or convoluted to me, either. In fact, it could have easily been more complex, and I wouldn’t have minded in the least. In addition, Williams obviously wrote it for the simple fact that there was nothing quite like it, upon publication in 1988. Essentially, he wrote something that he’d like to read.
“When Bukken from the Earth do creep And Hunen from the heights descend When Nightmare throttles peaceful Sleep..”
The author’s passion shines most brightly-like a sharp, gleaming sword– in the last three chapters. Nearly every element came into play (and those that didn’t, leave you gasping for more,) and soon escalated with the turn of a page. I couldn’t flip them fast enough, in all earnestness, resulting in an adrenaline-laced, on-the-edge-of-my-seat SHOCKER of an ending. It’s almost uncanny when you think about just how good and awesome this final section is.
I am still in awe, my mind won’t stop reeling, and I desperately need the next book, Stone of Farewell. Very nicely done, Tad! Highly recommended!
“To turn the stride of treading Fate To clear the fogging Mists of Time If Early shall resist Too Late Three Swords must come again.”
“Listen, and you’ll hear a story being told, one you may need to know.”
My introduction to Alice Hoffman isn’t exactly memorable. Practical Magic which “Listen, and you’ll hear a story being told, one you may need to know.”
My introduction to Alice Hoffman isn’t exactly memorable. Practical Magic which spawned the 1998 film, starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, and Goran Visnjic, seemed to primarily focus on the progression of plot, as opposed to character development. In between chapters, I seem to recall there being interludes containing various ingredients, mostly natural herbs, which, in light of the rest of the 1995 novel, added a little something. The writing itself, however, left much to be desired. At the time, it felt mediocre, though I could be mistaken, as I often reminds myself that memory is subjective. Additionally, I’m a completely different person now. I don’t believe that I fully appreciated quality writing (which might or might not have been there.) And I longed for more plot and action.
On a side note, the film is one of the very rare instances where I actually prefer it over the novel.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things is wholly different. In fact, I recognized almost instantly that the writing is truly stellar. In the interim, she honed her craft by leaps and bounds. It’s often beautiful, touching, and profound. In hindsight, I think I knew that as long as her exquisite writing persisted, and featured a compelling, well thought out cast, and decent storytelling, then it would be time wisely spent. It is all that, and much more. In a word, it's masterful.
One of its strongest aspect is, undoubtedly, its historical accuracy, and for that alone Hoffman should be commended. In particular, she wrote about New York in the early 1900’s, and the tragic Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, and the horrific impact it had on Manhattan.
In in the midst of devastation, heroism inevitably arises. It has to. It’s like an unspoken rule, or something. Such wisdom seems true not only in real life, but in fiction, as well. And in my admittedly limited experience, no other author does it as well as Hoffman. (She’s second only to Truman Capote, truly.) But more to the point, she utilized the facts and shaped her novel around them in such a way that it’s indescribable in a lot of ways. Her characters thrive as they’re thrown violently into this situation, which resulted in an impressive plot twist that though I knew a mysterious elements was forthcoming, I never saw its likeness emerging until it hit me squarely in the chest. This fascinating development allowed the crux of the story to thrive. Hoffman also helped solidify the novel’s sense of reality by incorporating historical icons, such as Alfred Stieglitz and Moses Levy. Their innovative techniques in photography played significant parts in forever altering how we perceive art, the world, and to some extent, ourselves.
Eddie Cohen, a Ukranian immigrant to New York, is an apprentice to Hochman, receives the following advice from the aforementioned charlatan:
“..Go back in time as far as you must. Speak to everyone who knew her. If you don’t find her, then in all likelihood she will find you. But you know what to do. Despite your flaws, you were my finest student…”
Hochman’s method’s of investigation felt very realistic to me. Reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s early detective fiction, they were unique and groundbreaking, with a strong emphasis on professionalism, without the victim blaming that’s so prevalent today. The former work ethic felt hyper-surreal (almost otherwordly) and it saddens me that for the most part, it’s a thing of the past. Most astonishing was the fact that while reading Hochman’s words, it seemed original, despite the fact that Poe instilled similar values long before the events of Hoffman’s novel.
Upon further reflection, Eddie realized that “..it was the path of the soul he must set out to discover. To find someone, it was necessary to follow in the way that the angel’s who follow men’s lives on earth are said to do, charting each trespass without judgment, for judgment is never ours to give.”
There’s much to be said about U.S. immigration. The fact that it’s such a hot topic now makes it that much more relevant, and strengthens the work and the theme. As seen here, the influx of Russian and Ukranian individuals that desired better lives for themselves and their children.
In the long run, I think much of the novel comes down to photography, and the technological advances of the early 1900’s, which are symbolic of the world’s one constant: change. Hoffman also seems to be saying a lot about the power of a photograph:
“In Levy’s [photographs] each tree possessed a soul, each field a beating heart.”
I almost get the sense that she likens it to God, which totally makes sense, as religion-the Jewish faith especially– plays a big part here.
Together, Moses Levy and Alfred Stieglitz had the innate ability to “see into the world of shadows,” their art not only penetrated the grey realities of life, but the light and darkness, as well. Essentially, they captured “the soul” of the subject, positive or grim, and let the world decide. Much like Hochman and E.A. Poe’s sleuth, they seized the moment, reveling in honesty and goodness and compassion, regardless of its social standing.
“In our world of shadows, there is no black and white but a thousand different strokes of light.”
The narrative of the novel itself isn’t something you read every day, either. The two main characters, Eddie Cohen and Coralie Sardie, the daughter of a French immigrant and curator of the freakish museum, alternate back a forth, practically vying for dominance. Its format is interesting, too, because the first half of each chapter reads almost like journal entries, which takes you to the heart of these great characters. The first person combined with third person narration allows you to know them much, much more. I feel like I know them on a very personal level. The ending is the only element that I found lacking, and I’m not even sure why. Everything fell into place nicely and nothing felt contrived (I even found myself rooting for Eddie and Coralie to be together, which is rare for me.) There’s even another killer twist, so I don’t know why it feels like something is missing. That one unknowable element, I guess..
For that reason alone, I dropped my rating down to a strong 4.5 stars.
It amazes me still, that so much growth and maturity is possible in an individual, and that Alice Hoffman was able to achieve it in a relatively short duration. Then again, what do you expect from an author that had her debut novel, Property Of, published while attending college, at twenty-one years of age?
I might just have to revisit Practical Magic, after all!
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
"There it is—a blue marble in the blackness of space, sweeps of whit
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
"There it is—a blue marble in the blackness of space, sweeps of white fuzzing the spherical surface, so small you can put your thumb over it and blip it out of existence. The Earth, suspended in the darkness, silent and fragile. But this is deception. It’s moving very fast, and just because you can’t see and feel it, doesn’t mean it’s not the truth."
Imagine a world where insect-like drones rule the air, watching our every move, and presumably reporting them to Big Brother. Where the U.S. government has become a totalitarian state, systematically re-structuring how we live, what we think, feel and taste, practically. It isn't very hard to imagine, is it? And what if our freedoms are being taken, stomped upon violently, never to be felt again, like a repressed memory or an ancient civilization. And one that isn't singular, either, but a duality of worlds? Can you imagine it?
Roderick Vincent takes these worlds and plops his hacker protagonist, Isse "Cerberus" Corvus (along with the reader,) directly into it. And it wasn't too long before I realized that I'd fallen under his impressive world-building skills. Skills that became increasingly evident throughout. Almost as compelling was the gradual development of Cerberus, and a couple other supporting characters. Isse comes from a lower-middle class African-American family, struggling (like so many of us) in the wake of a broken and sad economy. As a child, he was bookish and dreamt of space, exploring the infinite reaches of the universe.
But "the future is Turbulence."
Albeit somewhat choppy, the sentence structure in the novel's initial stages served to propel itself both forward and backward, but overall it remained steadily in the present. And those few flashbacks are important. All of this works well, too, as nothing uninteresting or irrelevant is dwelled upon. This not only moves the plot forward in a relatively brief duration, it informs the reader of Vincent's all too plausible dystopian world, but also helps give you a better sense of the characters...which felt kind of detached at first. Isse, in particular, felt almost numb to his surroundings.
The Abattoir training comprises more than half of the novel. A part of me wants to say it was a little too much, that the author could have summarized their training further, but once again, everything is germane. Little to zero words are wasted from this point until the final page. More to the point though, the Abattoir consists of roughly 365 days, a non-stop year of change, brutal scenarios with some shocking outcomes, philosophical intrigue, action/adventure, and much more. In hindsight, I really wouldn't change a thing.
The future is Turbulence
Also in this section, we see glimpses of NSA Director Titus Montgomery, but only through inexplicable, real-time footage shown to Isse and Co., the remains of which eventually become known as The Cause. But what exactly are their motives? Are they genuinely patriotic, and what does that term really mean? Or are they unknowingly being trained to become some sort of terrorist cell? These are only a few of the questions that Vincent seems to be demanding of his readers, and he does it in a way that isn't didactic, yet an integral part of the story. Even now, there's a sense of lingering doubt, both for and against, and that-to me-- speaks volumes. I know which way I want it to go, but as the series progresses, I think it can still go either way.
Titus isn't "officially" introduced until the second-half of the novel, and while I wish he had been seen working behind the scenes, earlier on, what Vincent delivers is quite good. The dynamics of his personal relations was downright fascinating, despite its disturbing nature. He has flaws just like the rest of us, thus making him more human. His flaws are not necessarily right nor wrong, but part of what makes him such a well-rounded character. And I suppose it's even possible to justify some of his actions. He certainly believes in what's he's doing as right. I am really looking forward to delving deeper into his character in Book 2 (hint hint, Rick.)
By the end of this exciting thriller, I no longer felt detached from the characters. Especially Cerberus, whom I clearly visualized physically, felt emotionally adhered to, and the intonation of his voice was like an audible clip in my head. Furthermore, I want to know -no, it's a NEED-- more about him.
Up until the last 50 or so pages, the author still had me guessing, speculating a plethora of possible outcomes. When he revealed the means of The Cause and just how far they were willing to go in order to make their point clear, my jaw literally dropped. I couldn't believe it. And I couldn't have been happier (or more proud.) The ending is just CRAZY!
The future is Turbulence
Thank you, again, for this delightful opportunity, Rick!
I received the e-file from the author, in exchange for an honest review.
Meet Wake Reynolds. At 17, he's endured more than anyone should have to, ce I received the e-file from the author, in exchange for an honest review.
Meet Wake Reynolds. At 17, he's endured more than anyone should have to, certainly more than most kids his age. More than most adults with a long, fulfilling lives under their belt, in fact. Purely out of necessity, he's living a life of diligence, for his 5-year-old brother, Jacob, and their alcohol mother, greatly rely on him. In a way, he sees himself as their protector against the nefariousness of the world, but primarily against their chemically dependent father/husband.
And the only thing that's keeping him sane, his sole comfort, is his unyielding faith in God. But when the lines of fantasy and reality begin to blur, will he follow his heart? Or perhaps an entirely different path emerges, forcing him into a life of self-preservation..?
"The nature of faith is to accept that many of our questions will go unanswered. I don't know why your mother is sick. But I do know that Satan wants us the challenge God when we're angry, or when we have loss in our lives. The greater distance we are from God's embrace, the happier Satan is. You must always remember that God will protect those who accept Him, especially in times of desperation and despair."
Nearing the end of this excellent prequel to the Our Souls to Keep trilogy, Caruso truly had me second-guessing myself as I desperately tried to fathom just where, exactly, he was taking it. The dialogue and visuals really popped, and the story itself is well-written and unpredictable, but if anyone had told me in advance that it would evolve the way it does, I would have been skeptical. I might have even called you a liar, given the right mood. I would have been in the wrong, however, because the ending is so shocking and disturbing and simply raw (for lack of a better word,) that my jaw literally dropped. Days later, part of me still can't believe it.
Very nicely done, Gary! You've written an incredibly impressive start, and I compulsively jumped into the the first book immediately!...more
"If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century he'd probably be the Herman Melville of Moby-Dick. His picture is that big," wrote Marga
"If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century he'd probably be the Herman Melville of Moby-Dick. His picture is that big," wrote Margaret Atwood (New York Review of Books).
I am unbelievably ecstatic about this one! A brand now novel from one of most beloved author's of all time!! I mean, Powers is just incredibly, brilliant in everything he's written so far! If you haven't experienced him before, I HIGHLY recommend starting with Plowing the Dark: A Novel or his debut, Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance....more
Overall, I really enjoyed it a lot, as my 4 stars indicates. What an awesome, wild ride this was.:) I wanted to give it 5, and after the monumental 1 Overall, I really enjoyed it a lot, as my 4 stars indicates. What an awesome, wild ride this was.:) I wanted to give it 5, and after the monumental 1st Part, I couldn't see it going downhill, but I don't know, it seemed to lose some of said momentum, sadly.. Also, some of the characters could have been further developed and I found the resolution somewhat lacking.
Benjamin Percy's exquisite writing, however, is often poetic and constantly awe inspiring. From start to finish, I couldn't get over his wholly impressive talent. That reason alone kept me reading! I look forward to read his debut novel, The Wilding, along with his two short story collections, and whatever future project(s) he's compelled to pursue.