Lots of cheese. I don't like suspense books where I can guess the ending halfway through the story. it was fine for a quick read, but I had trouble ke...moreLots of cheese. I don't like suspense books where I can guess the ending halfway through the story. it was fine for a quick read, but I had trouble keeping all the details and characters straight. I had a hard time believing the plot and the details and I didn't care too much about the characters.
That being said (I can't be COMPLETELY negative), I like how Coben portrayed the main character as an average Joe who was stumbling along. he kept saying how he didn't know how to fight his way out of tight situations (even though he managed to anyway) and admitted he didn't know how all the pieces were fitting together. Coben's idea was to have his main character just a regular guy who was thrown into an action movie-type situation and I can see that. It would have been much less plausible (and I didn't even find it plausible in the first place) if this regular old college professor suddenly became Arnold Schwartzenegger when he first thought things might be turning weird.
I also didn't believe the romantic parts. When the author threw in any reference to 'the love of my life' or 'i can't live without her,' I thought "oh pleeeeease. Really? You're just throwing that in for the women."
this was my first Harlan Coben story and will probably be the only.(less)
Wow. I loved the musical (and the music is part of the appeal for that show, which obviously the book is missing). But I think the musical gives you a...moreWow. I loved the musical (and the music is part of the appeal for that show, which obviously the book is missing). But I think the musical gives you a good overview of the story itself. The novel, however, gives you all the details, the sweet richness of Hugo's words and insights that the musical omits. Hugo goes into depth on cultural topics like Napoleon and Waterloo, nuns and convents, slang, Paris's layout that show the importance of those topics both to the current culture and himself. Since he wrote in the 1800s, you have to bear with him and his style when he waxes poetic on those topics. But for literature lovers like me, that's part of the beauty of the book and why I opened this tome in the first place. Hugo definitely has a graceful touch to his pen that I wasn't aware of previously and I'm glad I discovered it.
He also writes about characters that don't even appear in the musical or movie. Marius's grandfather is such a delight whenever he appears in the story. He's comic, but adds another dimension to Marius's past that makes me understand him better. we also burrow into Jean Valjean's mind - particularly at the end of the novel - and see all the conflict that lies there. I never imagined he had so much struggle between his criminal life and his good transformation. There were numerous times when he was tempted to return to the criminal life he knew so well and struggled to remain good. He's not such the perfect do-gooder I always thought he was. I think this novel makes Valjean 4D! The backstory about the bishop and Valjean's salvation (at the beginning of the novel) are invaluable as well.
I don't want to go into details, but I continue to be disappointed by Cosette. I wish she were a rounder character. I know, Hugo seemed pretty traditional and those were the times, but she just snaps into that typical woman's role of the time. To me, she's just kind of a blah character; I'm not quite sure what Marius sees in her. Couldn't Hugo still stay with a woman's traditional role and add just a little something extra to Cosette? She didn't seem very intelligent, witty, was pretty subservient and even seemed selfish at the very end (why isn't anyone paying attention to me, she asks). Did Hugo not think much of women in general?I get the impression he wasn't too kind to Fantine either, although I know the idea behind Fantine was that she was forced to make the choices she did because of either misfortune or the way society was set up in Paris at that time.
If you want to compare this story to the musical, it's like when you're watching the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy wakes up in Oz and all it's colorful splendor. The musical is the black and white Kansas and the novel is the bright Oz. They're both good. One can stand independent of each other; you're not missing anything if you see the musical or movie and never read the novel and the novel is certainly complete in itself.
So, thank you Hugo. We've had quite the relationship. I walked with you, grieved with you, smiled with you, delighted in life with you, caressed your words and phrases, and even absorbed your intelligence. I love you, but it's time for me to say good bye. I'll never forget you. I'm sure we'll meet again, since you're on my bookshelf, next to William Shakespeare.(less)
Nice twist on a song that many children are already familiar with. My 8-year-old enjoyed hearing it. Much of the story is in Spanish. The author provi...moreNice twist on a song that many children are already familiar with. My 8-year-old enjoyed hearing it. Much of the story is in Spanish. The author provides translations and explanations in the back, but I'm not sure how much of it would make sense or that I would understand while reading the story if I didn't already know Spanish myself. But it's a cute book for younger children.(less)
Simple, touching story about the origin of poinsettias. I've also read Tomie de Paola's The Legend of the Poinsettia - different beginnings to these s...moreSimple, touching story about the origin of poinsettias. I've also read Tomie de Paola's The Legend of the Poinsettia - different beginnings to these stories, but the ending premise is the same. That's what truly makes a legend a legend.
There was enough Mexican culture that non-native people could get a taste of how Mexicans celebrate and what's important to them, but it wasn't overwhelming. In Juanita's thoughts, actions, and family, there was enough here that kids in the United States could identify with. I used it as a read-aloud for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade (English-speaking) students and think it was a good choice.(less)
I don't say this very often, but there were numerous times when I gasped or felt my heart was breaking for the women in this story. If I were a crier,...moreI don't say this very often, but there were numerous times when I gasped or felt my heart was breaking for the women in this story. If I were a crier, I would have done that. Something about these women made me really feel for them and be absorbed in their lives as I don't do for many authors. (And for the record, I am not Afghan, an immigrant, abused or abandoned wife. Really the only thing I personally have in common with these women is being a woman.) Hosseini artfully and tenderly carved these women's plight, feelings, and decisions. I'm surprised that a male author could empathize with such depth of feeling. I'm sure it helps that he is Afghan himself.
I love foreign cultures, so the ability to better understand Afghan women and something of the culture in general was a bonus for me.
I honestly didn't think Miriam had it in her to come to her final decision. I wonder if she finally found happiness? Laila did. I'm not convinced that Miriam's act(s) brought her a final peace. I think she felt bound by honor and duty - maybe even necessity - to do what she did. She had good and compelling reasons, but was happiness one of them? Did she ever get what she was looking for - it may not have been happiness? She did find some notoriety, admiration, and identity in prison.
I was sorry to leave these women and their families, but alas, their story was finished. I can't see HOsseini continuing it in another volume, which is a good thing. THere are too many stories that are stretched into a second or third volume that don't need to be.
I'm eagerly looking forward to what he has in store for men in his other books, but I think I'll take a breather from Afghanistan before picking those up.(less)
every time you think zamperini's situation can't get worse, it does. hillenbrand.s writing keeps the action rolling and captivates me. a lesser author...moreevery time you think zamperini's situation can't get worse, it does. hillenbrand.s writing keeps the action rolling and captivates me. a lesser author would have made just some other tale about ww2. recommend it to anyone; you don't have to be a military PR ww2 aficionado to be engrossed.(less)
Wow. Again, Shriver does not disappoint. It's true that a lot of this book seems like her personal diatribe on various aspects of eating, weight loss,...moreWow. Again, Shriver does not disappoint. It's true that a lot of this book seems like her personal diatribe on various aspects of eating, weight loss, gain. But once you get past that, the dynamics between Pandora and her brother are touching. I felt like I was along with them for the ride; that I grew, rejoiced, and cried with them. Her ending twist is even more tragic than Edison's weight gain in the first place. Wow. We Need To Talk About Kevin is probably a notch higher, in my opinion, but this is certainly worth a delve if you like Shriver and an in-your-face treatment of modern societal issues.