Jesus can this guy write. I was hooked immediately and couldn't put it down until it was finished. Put me in tears, and I feel like I'd know some of h...moreJesus can this guy write. I was hooked immediately and couldn't put it down until it was finished. Put me in tears, and I feel like I'd know some of his characters if we were to meet (you know, afterlife-type of meet). Mostly, I loved experiencing Elie's philosophical and religious changes from the first to the last page.(less)
Seriously, the Bible is my favorite book. It's got a little of everything in it that I love (history, science, mystery, Mystery, love, romance, explos...moreSeriously, the Bible is my favorite book. It's got a little of everything in it that I love (history, science, mystery, Mystery, love, romance, explosions and fire, wisdom, prophecy, darkness, poetry, unanswered questions, self-help, tragedy, beauty...)
I hate that the author is "Anonymous"; I call him God.
THIS particular Bible, I'm reviewing both the translation (NASB) and the publisher (Cambridge). I love the Old English of other translations (Douay Rheims, KJV, ESV), but the New American Standard is literal translation AND readable. It's my go-to translation.
If you read like I do, though, do yourself a favor, save yourself some money in the long run, and BUY A CAMBRIDGE. Seriously, yes, they're expensive. But my other NASBs have the pages falling out, so you lose your notes, then you have to figure out how to 'dispose' of it (if you're not trying to duck-tape it together).
HAND-SEWN is a must. NICE PAPER that takes ink is a MUST (though I use colored pencils mostly). MAPS and some kind of concordance are very nice. But don't get bogged down with a book so big you can't carry it with you and actually READ it; that's why this edition was so perfect for me: it's luggable! This edition just has it all; I've had it for years now and not one loose page or torn corner! If I lost it, I'd buy another just like it.(less)
I think the series peaked here, and that's because I was a fan of Demandred throughout the series, and he was a star in this book (if you think he was...moreI think the series peaked here, and that's because I was a fan of Demandred throughout the series, and he was a star in this book (if you think he was Taim). I even overlooked some of the strange romances and changing alliances okay through this 6th book in the series, primarily holding out hope that some of the huge mysteries would be answered. Like, who killed Asmodean, where Moraine was, what was up w/ Verin, why that witch Egwaine would have a problem with Rand, etc etc etc.
I suppose if the next two books in the series (which I rated very low) had done more than start posing even MORE questions, I would have read #9 Winter's Heart (which I received as a gift and barely cracked open). Unfortunately, I can't honestly say I even read #s 7 and 8 — I SKIMMED them. Realized I didn't know half the names I was skimming, and that RJ was just cashing in on his cow. Grew disgusted with the series and threatened to RETURN any further such "gifts".
But I rate Lord of Chaos high and a favorite because, for me, it was the peak of the series, and though I was left wanting, I was left wanting, edge-of-my-seat excited for the next book. The journey counts: bks 1-6 were a wild, page-turning, mystery-filled ride.
I'd recommend the series THROUGH BOOK SIX to most readers, with the warning that the author died probably before even figuring out how to tie up the myriad loose ends, and most certainly before penning the text himself. But it was a good "what could have been" series. [If you stop at Bk. 6.](less)
My GOD this man could write. He's from my hometown, and lived not so far away from my house, and I could never arrange a meeting while (and being I'm...moreMy GOD this man could write. He's from my hometown, and lived not so far away from my house, and I could never arrange a meeting while (and being I'm not a stalker and respected the crap out of this guy, I didn't try too hard). A complete enigma to me; massive genius. I might have been scared to meet him, in fact — loved his writings, but they were so graphic that I believe I feared meeting someone who could imagine such brutality.
I love historical fiction, and Jennings' works tackle times that aren't politically correct to tackle with such honesty; but I'm not a fan of sugar-coating history, either. That being said, this book, albeit with such historical verisimilitude, engaging characters, and subtle dialogue, could have benefited from a tad less gruesome detail; it can be hard to read on a full stomach, and the unsettling images last for years.
Jennings deals us an engaging story that's so descriptive that you can put the book away and half-expect to be IN that world; he draws you in as an observer, and you don't feel safe in that world. Such immersion can be horrifying, especially in dealing with cannibalism and sacrifice, but you come away feeling like you have a better understanding of a completely lost and foreign culture. That's the highest praise I can give to an historical fiction.
And after reading this tome, I never wanted to visit and SEE the historical sites for a fictional work so much, maybe if just to test the truthfulness, and possibly to mourn the loss, of such a society. You come away feeling that there's blood on everybodys' hands: the Aztecs, the conquerors, ...humanity. But in a good way, that doesn't leave room for judgment, but rather for thought. Aztec works as a great equalizer.
My criticism would certainly be that his writing is so compelling, and the violence so disturbing, that if it's not as truthful as it seems, could be an unfair indictment against an entire society. In other words, Jennings is such a good storyteller, and has so much actual history to back him up, that he needed to be very careful that his dramatics doesn't leave an unfair portrayal of that society.
I think if you read this keeping in mind that it's historical FICTION, you can get a good understanding of a society that ritually sacrifices and consumes humans. It will leave an impression on your soul, imo, about what humanity is capable of.
I loved it; will reread it again. Mindblowing.(less)
Don Juan is a somewhat-scathing, exceedingly witty, epic social commentary that was told by a revolutionary mind with great skill and reverence for th...moreDon Juan is a somewhat-scathing, exceedingly witty, epic social commentary that was told by a revolutionary mind with great skill and reverence for the crafting of words. In Lord Byron's cantos of this poem, I see "social networking" centuries before its time with Byron's 'asides' about his contemporaries. And his protagonist, young unfortunate Don Jewan, is tossed about haphazardly from country to country by the strangest events, narrating a dissection of every society he comes upon... which, unfortunately, we read only a fraction of what Lord Byron was planning for the character before the poet's untimely death, leaving the poem unfinished, and yet still one of the best writings ever put to paper. Timeless.
Byron's worldview was notably pessimistic, but it was damned eye-opening. For example, on *shrugh* "nationalism" I suppose, in Canto IV, Stanza 101:
Hell yeah, the boy spoke some truths that I daresay still flips the world on its side (can you imagine China or America being merely a legend one day, as scoffed about then as Atlantis is today?). And his 'rivals' or critics wanted to 'save' him. But Byron argued (paraphrasing) that his was the MOST MORAL poem of the day. Moral, yes; and why? Because it was truthful.
I have it listed in my Top 5, which should include the Bible, Inferno/Purgatorio, Dosty's Brothers K, and probably a Kafka; and Good God I hate to mention Paradise Lost... but! as another reviewer here put it, while Milton's work attempted to tell God's side to humanity, Lord Byron told humanity's side to God. (Successfully, though.) And we're the lucky ones who glimpsed at least some of Byron's tellings before he died. Yes, I find it very moral, AND it keeps me rolling on the floor, laughing.
And being a Catholic Anglican Christian type (or so I like to think), it is my sincere hope that we'll hear the remainder of Don Juan in Heaven one day, where I'm sure Lord Byron entertains the angels. (*not that way!*)(less)
I think RAH transcends mere sexuality (or he's a horny old goat, one) and winds a tale in his 'future history' series...moreI love Lazarus Long. That is all.
I think RAH transcends mere sexuality (or he's a horny old goat, one) and winds a tale in his 'future history' series that is unlike anything else I've ever read. IOW, I don't think he could have quite told the tale without sorta 'getting rid' of standard morals about sex and love.
This IS one of my favorites of the series, but I've got to re-read it to remember why I was left with such strong sentiment about this particular book. It, along with Number of the Beast, has gag-worthy sex scenes if that sort of thing bothers you, but I think the sex scenes were really meant to put away the sex and create a new reality. I generally wasn't interested in the um, scientific improbabilities? ...or the morals, of the strange sex scenes. I found I could get through them by trying to find metaphor [where, okay, MAYBE he meant to write soft porn and I was looking past it too much, heh.]
If anything bothered me about this super-human incestuous bunch of long lifers, it was that I was concerned that they were too cocky, maybe too TOO removed from humanity, that if one of them were raped or hurt during one of their myriad adventures, the typical fare of a silly kiss and/or strange sex or medicine wouldn't quite patch them up. If one killed themselves, they probably all would. IOW, they started to seem cult-like with no leader. (Which I'd imagine was NEVER RAH's intention.)
I love Lazarus Long, cranky old coot who needed to be put in his place and that place, at least in part, is (in part) in my consciousness. Which put these books on my Favorites List.(less)
FIVE STARS easily, and I think everybody could read this and enjoy it if they're willing to put a little effort into a bit of Russian history. After t...moreFIVE STARS easily, and I think everybody could read this and enjoy it if they're willing to put a little effort into a bit of Russian history. After that, sit back and watch the characters come alive, so much that I can't think of anyone who does characters as well as Tolstoy.
The characters are never static, but, like in real life, making little changes and growing, changing, all the time. But (unlike many characters in other books) they're never out-of-character; you're not offended that you've had the wool pulled over your eyes, or that the rug was jerked out from under you. Indeed, you start looking at other books differently, realizing how many authors' characters pale in comparison to Tolstoy's because they're static, almost stuck in a moment in a God-like sense, and (even for the good characters) are just that much less believable after reading Tolstoy. Tolstoy's characters jump off the page and seem real because they're constantly moving, changing, mellowing, resolving, &c. They interact in ways other than speeches (thank God!). They pop.
The story is about a romance, I suppose, but it's about so much more than that. (God, civic duty, castes, lifestyle choices, judgment, forgiveness, morality, coming-of-age, true happiness, &c.). And social commentary aplenty, (view spoiler)[ I think it's clear by the end that Tolstoy thinks a simple, domestic lifestyle is preferable to an industrialized urban world, which was a hot topic in Tolstoy's day (and, yeah we all know, Russia was just decades out from revolution). (hide spoiler)] The overarching ideas in AK about how to live one's life are timeless to the human condition; the characters are real; the 'drama', if you will, seems true-to-life.
Definite Top 10.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
JBC sees the same God in the OT and the NT, and that comes clear in his commentaries. His prose makes books I didn't really enjoy before "come alive";...moreJBC sees the same God in the OT and the NT, and that comes clear in his commentaries. His prose makes books I didn't really enjoy before "come alive"; and while I disagree with some of his conclusions (ie, God doesn't like music in worship services, as he points out in the Pslams, but has a time with in the David history books (the Samuels)). His commentary on Job is excellent, because where he's NOT sure, he gives a few interpretations and leaves it to the reader to decide.
But what I like most is how he blends our NT God into the OT seamlessly. (Wish he weren't so tough on the Catholics, but whatevs.)(less)
I won't even read the other reviews first (I know from real life what people think of this book compared to the others in Asimov's Foundation series),...moreI won't even read the other reviews first (I know from real life what people think of this book compared to the others in Asimov's Foundation series), but it's the only Asimov on my "Favorites" list, and as such it sorta represents the whole Foundation series to me, and deserves to represent because it's proof that a writer can finish a series with no loose ends in a reasonable amount of time SO DAMNED WELL.
(The prequels, I'm not including in the Foundation series; they're optional, and I didn't enjoy them. So THIS book is the finale for me.)
The first three I read [and loved] [and re-read] when I was younger, the fourth gave me an uneasy feeling but left me wanting a conclusion, and this was a conclusion; a period —no, an exclamation point! — at the end of a fine series that needn't be (and wasn't) drawn out overly long. Thank you Asimov for showing 'em how it's done!
I suppose because there was so much time between the books being published (I wasn't born when the trilogy was published, and didn't know about Edge (#4) and Earth (#5) until years after I read the trilogy), I felt like I was ON that journey to find Earth. The excitement in this book for me was that there WAS a meaningful conclusion with all the answers I needed.
I've started losing faith in "series writers" (particular sci fi, but also hist. fiction, and these days mass market pulp fiction), but Asimov showed you could conclude a mystery well and end the series and leave 'em satisfied. I couldn't want more because there WAS no more. OVER. THE END! Thank you!
Was it simple, maybe even young adult fiction? Maybe. But Asimov FINISHED it. (I'm tempted to start zeroing out the stars of books I liked but are part of an unfinished series which may never be finished... glares at Robert Jordan's corpse.) Series Authors Everywhere: re-read Asimov's Foundation series and learn the value of ENDING a series, no matter how epic the scope. Use Foundation as a measuring stick.(less)
I really loved this book, till I got to the end and realized it was the first part of a TRILOGY! So those three stars will go right back up in a few Y...moreI really loved this book, till I got to the end and realized it was the first part of a TRILOGY! So those three stars will go right back up in a few YEARS, after the rest of the story is told. I'm positive it'll be 5-star in the end, but I'm not crediting it that way until the story is told in full. **harrumph**(less)