I did enjoy this book. I will try to post the review with little spoilers because there are some major plot points that need to be kept hidden, so tha...moreI did enjoy this book. I will try to post the review with little spoilers because there are some major plot points that need to be kept hidden, so that they will surprise the reader when they get to them.
This is the story of Evan Weiss, who has an interesting "friendship" with a childhood boy named Davis. They go to high school together, are both gay, and have the unfortunate condition of getting beaten up by the local high school jocks. Evan's home life is interesting, he has a sister who is constantly praised and talked about and his parents remain indifferent to him. This really is not explored in the novel, and Evan's parents are not clearly defined, so it is hard to imagine the reason for their feelings. They live above their parents grocery store. Davis has a distant father and his mother has been taken into psychiatric care. Davis has what Evan calls "Boing" moments, that appear to be manic episodes, followed by depression, but that is never clearly stated. Evan feels that he must protect Davis and help him get out of Madiscon Wisconsin, and they plan to move to Chicago together. Plans chagne when Evan meets Erik, a college nursing student who is also a volleyball player and a sculptor. (though I like Erik as a character, he is really too good to be true. He could have been toned down just a take to make him a bit more realistic.) Evan is terrified to let Erik know about his parents, his sister, Davis, so basically shuts Erik entirely out of his life until Erik becomes more persistent. Davis on the other hand begins to make new "friends" and starts to go down another path entirely and this puts Evan in the middle and leads you to the major plotline of the novel.
I do like Evan, but I find that in many cases, teen novels fall into the "I am unsure of who to tell about my problems so I am not going to tell anyone and fix them myself." I unserstand that some teens may use this strategy but it seems like it is almost a constant in novels as of late, and you want to smack the main character and get them to open up. Here, Evan has had a boyfriend for a year, and refuses to tell him anything. He refuses to talk to the woman who runs the gay and lesbian youth center. I would think you would open up to someone, but alas, no. And some of his decisions are unfortunate, and you really see this weakness of character, that makes you like him a little bit less than you once did. At least that was the case for me. There was also the case of something happening that goes unpunished that left a sour taste in my mouth after reading the novel.
I do like the descriptions of the characters and Evan's growth as an artist. I also like the character of Erik, and even his sister Shan becomes a little more realistic when she arrives on the scene. And there is a sense of catharsis for Evan, so there is emotional movement in the novel. And it does tackle issues that young people need to know about , so I will give it that.
All in all a good read. Defnitely for an older teen, though, as some of the content is pretty serious. (less)
This was an interesting book, and I am not one to usually read non-fiction and really do shy away from anything political, but Millard has so much els...moreThis was an interesting book, and I am not one to usually read non-fiction and really do shy away from anything political, but Millard has so much else going on in the book that you really find out some interesting tidbits aobut what life was like in the 1880's.
It does focus on President Garfield, who he was, how he started from humble beginnings and managed to get a good education, how he entered politics and became beloved by his fellow officials. There is a pretty exciting scene when they are trying to determine who will get the nomination, and how Garfield is really opposed to getting nominated, but the insistence of his running grows and eventually he has little to do but except.
It also follows his would be assassin, and you learn about his life as well, and was a strange and quirky man he was. It is interesting to see what causes him to become obsessed by the President, and what he hopes to gain by shooting him. I only knew the brief version of the story, and it was very interesting to learn more about both the president and the assassin.
Another large portion of the book focuses on invention and medicine at the time. This was just about the time that Lister was talking about antisepsis but no one in the medical community took him seriously. It also features Alexander Graham Bell and inventions he is making at the time. Note to the squemish, it does get pretty ghastly in the descriptions, but necessary to tell the story. You might not want to read while eating.
All in all I found the story fascinating. It did lose me a little bit on the political stuff, but there is not a great deal of that in the book, and so much more that everyone probably can find a section that would interest them. I really like non fiction that can talk about an era and really relay several aspects and the author does a very good job with this, and I feel like I gained some knowledge that I did not know before. (less)
This was pretty good. Very light and it really does give you a little bit of knowledge about Voodoo, Hoodoo and the Haitian Voudo. I like how the curr...moreThis was pretty good. Very light and it really does give you a little bit of knowledge about Voodoo, Hoodoo and the Haitian Voudo. I like how the current mystery novels put bits of alternative religions in them and make them part of the plot so you can experience them and still get a mystery. This involves a skeptical psychologist, her new love interest who is a professor in occult studies, and a young woman who is in line to become a voudo princess and is using her families spell book in probably not the best way possible. Oh, and there is also a curse thrown in.
I wasn't sure if I liked it at first but the characters grew on me and I really liked the explanations. There is also a really interesting ending that I don't want to ruin, but premonition is involved and I really liked the book ending on that note.
If this is a series, I will definitely pick up the second book and I think fans of Madeline Alt or Annette Blair will dig this one.(less)
I am sort of on the fence about this one. I LOVED the first book, the magicians, and I sort of understand where he was trying to go with this book but...moreI am sort of on the fence about this one. I LOVED the first book, the magicians, and I sort of understand where he was trying to go with this book but I am not sure he quite got there for me.
This is primarily two stories in one, that eventually combine to work together for the ending. It involves two major characters from the first book, namely Quentin, the hero from the first book, and Julia who arrived in Fillory towards the end of the last book.
I love the story involving Julia and the flashbacks on how she learned magic and got to Fillory in the first place. I thought it was interesting, thoughtful, and was the better half of the book. I almost wished that the author used her as the heroine in the other half of the book as well. Put her in charge of the current quest, give her a reason, and then flash back to her life. It would have made the novel seem more complete as a package.
It is not that I hate Quentin, he is just sort of wishy washy, or not well defined as a character. He never really got a strong personality or a strong voice in this book and his motivations seemed really weak. I never really got a strong sense of anything from him, and he basically takes up half the book on this quest and I was never sure where the quest was headed or what it was trying to accomplish, and I felt like I just wanted to get away from him and get back to Julia, or what I called the "good part".
(possible spoiler) There was even a section in the book that Quentin and Julia were gone for a part of the time and returned to Fillory, and had to go back to collecting magic keys, and Elliot shows up and says "by the way, you were gone a long time so we collected five of the seven keys". What kind of narrative is that in a novel? The best story is action in the present tense, not somebody telling you after the fact what had happened while you were gone. That is a cop out and frankly a snooze.
I am not sure what happened with the ending, but it started to get heavy handed, overly esoteric, and seemed to involve any number of mythologies of any number of countries, and I got the feeling that the author was saying "I know all of this stuff, and I have to get it all out.", and by then it has started to lose me, even the parts with Julia.
I really did like the novel but nowhere near as much as I had hoped to like the novel. I am wondering if there will be a third installment and what that would entail. (less)
I am having a huge problem with this book. It seems to be marketed to teens, and in the library where I got the book, it is clearly part of the teen c...moreI am having a huge problem with this book. It seems to be marketed to teens, and in the library where I got the book, it is clearly part of the teen collection. The Two main characters are out of college, and are spending a lot of time talking about grants and fullbright scholarships, and almost nothing that would have interested me when I was a teen. Heck, it hardly interests me now. The book is nearly five hundred pages so you can imagine...
The book features artwork by Steven Weinberg, but it is lost in this massive amount of text that clearly needs to be edited. When you add graphics to a novel, they need to support the text and become part of the book. But the text in this book is so overwhelming, just paragraphs and paragraphs of letters that you don't really even notice the art crammed to the side of it, which is a real shame.
And the text flits around to the point of sometimes not knowing that you have switched countries.. or what you might want to know about the country is not included, or perhaps thing of interest to the writer just are not that interesting to a reader.
It was a clear attempt at something but really missed the boat. I am finding it agonizing to slog through it (I really feel like I am slogging through it ) but have to read it to facilitate a discussion. With teens, no less. I am hoping they make it past the first fifty pages, but that would be high hopes, indeed.(less)
I know that three stars seems harsh, but I really love Jo Nesbo and have really enjoyed all the other Harry Hole novels. This one just left me (no pun...moreI know that three stars seems harsh, but I really love Jo Nesbo and have really enjoyed all the other Harry Hole novels. This one just left me (no pun intended) cold.
I think the problem I had with it was that Nesbo seems to be concentrating on serial killer novels now, and that is my least favorite type of thriller. I like a solid police investigation, that has some elements of realism to them and although they do have a killer, the killer is an ordinary person trying to hide the fact that they have committed a crime, and the police are on the track.
When you get into the super serial killer variety of novel, it seems that the BIG PLOT TWISTS! are defining the novel, not the investigation. Many of these big plot twists seem oddly placed and seem only to be added to the novel for shock value, not for good story telling.
Also there was a point in the novel where they were pursuing suspects and I even lost track of what the original crime was, or even the victims names. The crime took second place behind this pursuit of determining someone's guilt. Then, we were on to the next person, and you get the picture.
The ending was so far fetched as to be almost ridiculous. And I like the detective to be sort of on the outside of the crime, and involving the detectives near and dear to add suspense never is a plus in my book.
I will read the next one but I do think this was the weakest of the lot so far. (less)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one! I thought originally that it was following a formula that Ruth Rendell sometimes follows, with all the...moreI was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one! I thought originally that it was following a formula that Ruth Rendell sometimes follows, with all the dysfunctional people trapped together in one setting. But then, the story grabbed me and did not let go. It is not a long novel, only 257 pages, so it is easily readable in a short span of time.
It is the story of the residents of Lichfield house, all of them with various problems. Stuart Font is extremely good looking and extremely vain and is having an affair with a married woman. An older woman named Olwen lives alone in a flat and wants to drink herself to death. Three college students live together, and a man named Duncan lives across the street, inventing lives for the people he watches outside the window. Of course, fate will intervene, as fate often does, and events will happen as these assorted characters bump headlong into each other.
Rendell is good with character and adds enough back story to them that you are interested in what is happening. She also adds touches of mystery so that you are not quite sure as to what is going on and have to keep reading in order to find out. But she does reveal the answers eventually, so you are not left with a questioning feeling at the end of the book.
I rather enjoyed Tigerlily's Orchids. I don't want to say too much, because it is definitely worth reading.
Rendell has proven herself once again a master of the mystery/crime novel. (less)
This book is a thriller and it is a little bit rough. If you are looking for a gentle read, this would NOT be the book for you! It is, however, very r...moreThis book is a thriller and it is a little bit rough. If you are looking for a gentle read, this would NOT be the book for you! It is, however, very readable and suspenseful and it does pull you in. Once events start to spiral out of control, you have to continue reading in order to see what happens next.
It is the story of Masuko who works at a box lunch factory in Japan. She works with three other womem, Yoshie, (stuck at home with an ailing mother in law and an ungrateful child), Kimoni (I think, I returned the book so am not sure I remember the name, but she is overweight and her husband has just left her) and Yayoi, whose husband has a gambling problem and is abusive. One night, Yayoi's husband comes home drunk, but Yayoi is ready for him and kills him in the house. She calls Masuko, who hatches a plan to help dispose of the body...
And this is where things start to go to hell!
It really is the story of desperate women. All four women have to work at the factory, they have no other choices, and their financial and home situations are not promising. Each one hopes for a better life, but there is really no way to acheive that. Masuko is older than the others, used to work for a finance company, and often comes across as cold or hard, but she also takes charge and makes decisions for the group.
The novel is translated from the Japanese and I do think you get a nice slice of Japanese culture, especially the underbelly of Japanese life. Some of the scenes can be quite graphic, so you need a strong stomach or enjoy having your crimes to be a bit gritty in order to enjoy this one. I thought the translation was good and flowed smoothly, and I liked having a cheat sheet that figured out yen to dollars at the front, so I could picture the amounts of money they were discussing in the novel.
This was a very strange novel, the story of Seraphim Monge, who as a baby was left in a crib while his family was massacred around him. 25 years later...moreThis was a very strange novel, the story of Seraphim Monge, who as a baby was left in a crib while his family was massacred around him. 25 years later (now it is 1919) he is finally told the story of how he was found and is given the key to his family home, a home that was never sold because of the massacre. Three men were caught and hung for the murders, but it is later revealed that they might not actually be guilty. Seraphim sets upon destroying the house, and while doing so, uncovers the identities of the true murderers. He begins to plot revenge, but is there a second hidden murderer out there that executes his revenge for him? He also seems to have taken the interest of three local young women, but becuase of his past vows to nevery marry or have children, and has to thwart them at every turn.
This was a rather strange novel but very readable. It is a little slow to start, because you have to get the setup, and this takes a rather long time, but it makes more sense when events start to happen in the present day. Then, the plot moves much more quickly to the end. The end is very strange, and I am not sure I totally understand it. I have a general idea, at least what I THINK might have been a general idea, but not knowing anyone else who has read it, one can never be sure. It IS an ending that will stay with you.
It is a rather dark and dreary novel, and is a stand alone mystery. (less)
I have not read a Maigret novel since high school, and I highly enjoyed revisiting this classic author. If you like what I would call a "classic" myst...moreI have not read a Maigret novel since high school, and I highly enjoyed revisiting this classic author. If you like what I would call a "classic" mystery story, Maigret may be a detective for you! He is a chief superintendant, and you really don't learn much about his private life, instead the focus is on the current investigation. In this case, there is a man found stabbed to death on a boulevard, and when his wife identifies the body, she is shocked to find that he is wearing light brown shoes (gasp!) and a tie that is almost RED! It is further discovered that his place of business has gone under and has been for several years, yet he is still traveling to the city every day, pretending to go to work. Did he have a hidden life? Maigret soon is on the case, locating witnesses that might have been able to shed light on the case.
Wonderful little story. Not long to read (took me a couple of hours) and a very nice way to spend the afternoon. Maigret is featured in 75 novels, so there are plenty more where that came from! (less)