Upon arriving at the abbey, Brother William and his apprentice Adso are greeted with a lack of co operation and a number of warnings and mysteries. T...more Upon arriving at the abbey, Brother William and his apprentice Adso are greeted with a lack of co operation and a number of warnings and mysteries. The first death has happened before they arrived. Brother Adelmo is found at the bottom of the tower, from which he has fallen (or did he jumped? Or was pushed?). In their investigation they find that everyone seems to know something, but no one is willing to talk and they start running out of time as the bodies continue to accumulate and the Inquisitors are on their way. Eco has written a very dark but well designed mystery. Early on into the books I made up my own list of suspects, based on the many clues hinted at throughout the book. Despite my determination to figure out who was the cause of all the murders, the book kept me guessing until the end. As it turns out the culprit wasn't even on my suspect list! You are led through the mystery by Brother Williams young apprentice, Adso. A young novice Adso is both naive and intelligent. He is well versed in matters of theology (as are most characters in this novel- and they love to debate them!) but inexperienced when it comes to life. This makes him very human and relatable and in addition a reliable narrator. You trust what he is telling you and never question whether he is leaving anything out. He is telling you the story exactly as he saw it. Eco is a very descriptive writer and it is easy to lose yourself in the setting of a monastery in1327. Alternatively, however, there is a great deal of time spent on the politics of the time. At this time, when the fear of the Inquisition was felt all over, politics meant theology. Eco writes in detail about some intense theological debates, such as the poverty of Jesus. As a former student of religious studies I could follow some of these debates but even I didn't understand some of the references and arguments some times. These debates should not discourage anyone from reading the book, as it is easy enough to just the jist of them and continue of with the story. Overall an excellent read and a great mystery. Destined to be a classic.
This was a quick read but a good one. Mr. Utterson, a well know and respected lawyer in the community begins noticing the menacing and evil behaviour...moreThis was a quick read but a good one. Mr. Utterson, a well know and respected lawyer in the community begins noticing the menacing and evil behaviour of a newcomer, Mr. Hyde. At the same time he is struck by the strange and inexplicable behaviour of his good friend and client, Dr Jekyll. Evidence suggests to him that Mr Hyde is threatening and/or terrifying his friend, but as he continues to investigate he encounters even stranger behaviour and explanations than he could have ever imagined.
Like many of you, it seems like I have always known the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, though I had never read it. I was surprised to find out it was narrated by a third party but found this provided a more well rounded approach to the story. I also found Utterson a very reliable narrator, whose account you could trust. This meant you weren't second guessing if things actually happened or if they were just the imaginings of a doctor whose done one too many experiments.
This novella was written beautifully, the language was fun to read and easy to understand. It was easy to picture the Victorian setting and the dark streets and alleys Mr. Hyde would be creeping through. It's a fairly safe bet that you know what's going to happen in the end but Stevenson is such a great writer that you still get caught up in the story and are excited to find out how the truth is discovered. Beyond the story itself it also raises some interesting questions about the power/weakness of one's conscience and the lure of evil and desire.(less)
Charles Yu (the character) is stuck in a time loop. His future self and his present self have interacted and well...the results aren't good. Thankfull...moreCharles Yu (the character) is stuck in a time loop. His future self and his present self have interacted and well...the results aren't good. Thankfully future Charles left present Charles some help, a book. This book to be exact. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is an explanation of the world of the future with handy tips, including details on the capital city, the socioeconomic strata and most importantly what to do in the event you're trapped in a time loop. With the help of this book, Ed and TAMMY (my personal favourite) Charles not only looks for a way out of the time loop but learns something about his life as well.
I love the premise of this book. Time travel is often confusing and filled with techno babble that (to me) doesn't make a lot of sense. Charles Yu, however, uses just the right amount of cyber jargon and uses it in a way that just makes you laugh at loud at the absurdity of it all. Don't expect this book to follow a normal course of events, it breaks rules of space and physics so it's a safe bet it's going to break narrative convention as well. Try not to think about how impossible it all is and just enjoy the ride.
When I first heard about this book I was excited. It's been awhile since I've read a recently released science fiction title that I actually liked and this one sounded right up my alley. That's a lot of pressure for a book, but thankfully it delivered. It is a hilarious read and you won't want to put it down. It is very much in the spirit of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and it isn't often you come across someone who can pull off good science fiction and good comedy in one go. If you like science fiction and/or are looking for something out of left field check this book out and enjoy!(less)
Arlene just wants to write down her story. Her mother, driven out of town by her numerous scandals, ends up in London where she meets a young actor na...moreArlene just wants to write down her story. Her mother, driven out of town by her numerous scandals, ends up in London where she meets a young actor named William. They begin seeing each other regularly but before she knows it she's pregnant and since William is already married, she must move back home to live with her brother and his wife. Years later, that child, Arlene Ward, goes back to London determined to find her father, the now famous playwright, William Shakespeare. Told by Arlene in her old age, to the mistress of the home where she works, Arlene wonders if anyone will believe her. I enjoyed the narrative voice of this story – a women telling her mother's story (as as a result her story) in her own old age. It gave a sort of authority to the telling making it seem very believable. The historical detail was also incredibly intricate. I had to appreciate the amount of work and research Richard B. Wright would have had to put into this novel. My only real problem with this book was that the pacing was a bit slow. It weighs in at only 341 pages but at times it feels a lot longer. Since it is a story of someone telling a story some parts feel a little repetitive or over described. Other than that though the characters are heart warming, the setting is beautifully depicted and the story is unique. If you're a fan of historical fiction you will probably enjoy this book. It really is beautifully written and Richard B. Wright is a brilliant story teller. If you do decide to pick it up, take your time reading it, you'll appreciate it more and this book deserves the attention.(less)
In the future our world is falling apart. Food is scarce, so calories become the latest currency. Some countries don't make it; India, China, Malaysia. They just couldn't feed their starving populations. Thailand has managed to protect their seed-bank and still has food, but they are still threatened by blister rut, American calorie companies and internal government breakdown. In the midst of all people are still managing to live their lives.
Anderson Lake, an American calorie man, posing as a manager of a Thai factory. His mission? To find out more about Thailand's food supply and their ability to produce foods long thought extinct. Dedicated to his job and showing no mercy to those who get in his way, it seems like Anderson may accomplish what he was sent there to do. Then he meets Emiko. Emiko is a Japanese wind-up girl. While highly prized in Japan, in Thailand they are feared and hated. Programmed to obey, she is purchased by a whorehouse after her Kyoto master abandoned her in the country. She dreams of freedom and even she is surprised how far she will go to get it.
I didn't realize how much I wanted a book like this until it was in my hands. It's been awhile since I've read a well written, gritty science fiction novel, in the spirit of the Golden Age. Bacigalupi draws us a world that seems extreme yet not impossible. When the oil age is over who will be prepared? As you're introduced to the characters and the settings you're drawn into a complex and layered story, moving from character to character almost flawlessly.
Emiko and Anderson are two of the central characters but they are by no means the only ones. There are so many fascinating characters in this novel. There's Hock Sen, Anderson's yellow card employee, Jaidee, Tiger of the Environment Ministry, and Kanya, his second in command. None are neglected or unnecessary, each one serving an important part in the development of the story. I particularly liked Hock Sen. Though for the most part he is conspiring and despicable man he has such a heartbreaking past and such a will to survive you can't help but admire him a little bit.
This is easily one of the best books I've read this year. It's well crafted and written. It doesn't hold back. There are some parts of this book that are dark and disturbing. Some that are really hard to read. But it should be hard to read. This is a future where our environmental resources have been exhausted, where people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Bacigalupi isn't heavy handed or preachy, he has simply shown us a vision of what the future might hold. Definitely a book that will keep you thinking long after you've finished.(less)
I picked this book up at a used book store, drawn in by it's unique title and remembering that it had made it on to one of the editions of 1001 Books...moreI picked this book up at a used book store, drawn in by it's unique title and remembering that it had made it on to one of the editions of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. I found it incredibly funny, somewhat informative and at times a little tragic. Way more than I was expecting for a $4 paperback. The story follows a British-Ukrainian family during a time of family crisis. The crisis being that the father has decided to marry a much younger Ukrainian woman, who is clearly using him for money and a passport. His two daughters than join forces to save him from his unhappy fate. What made this book for me was the father, and his interactions with his youngest daughter Nadezhda. The father is quirky, old fashioned and conflicted. I can picture him perfectly in my mind. I can even hear his Ukrainian accent when I'm reading his dialogue. His antics are funny all of their own, but are made even funnier by his daughter's attempts to help a very stubborn old man. You can't help but love the father, he's the product of his history, his age and his daughters and he fulfils his role perfectly. In case you were thinking this book was a little too light hearted and fluffy, it is interspersed with memories of the families time living in the Soviet Union. Before moving to Britain the family did not have it easy, facing famine, work camps and the wrath of communism. These are serious undertones to a very funny book. I found them particularly interesting, as Ukrainian history is not one you generally hear about. Overall a nice book. It's funny, not too long and you learn a bit about the Ukraine at the same time. (less)
In order to save his career Detective Travissi sign on the lead the Enhanced Unit for Homeland Security. The implantation of the P-Chip allows his to...moreIn order to save his career Detective Travissi sign on the lead the Enhanced Unit for Homeland Security. The implantation of the P-Chip allows his to access information in a way that previously has only been dreamed of. Crimes that would've taken months, if not years, to solve are now taken care of in a couple of days. Sounds fantastic, until Jake starts experiencing some pretty vivid and horrific images. As he continues his work for Homeland Security, he realizes these may not be random images and he discovers a conspiracy that goes deeper than he (or the reader) could've possible imagined. This book takes place in 2030. Since that is less that twenty years away, a number of the characters were alive in our current time period. As a result there are a number of references to current pop culture (ex: Lady Gaga's Poker Face is referred to a cheesy oldie). I found these references a little silly and unnecessary. I also found that they took away from the futuristic setting the novel takes place in. Thankfully, however, as the plot thickens these references seem to stop and it becomes much easier to get lost in the story. The story centres around Jake Travissi, a man that fulfils all the characteristics of an everyday man turned hero. Though he's not perfect you find yourself rooting for him and hoping he discovers the truth in time. His fellow agents – Parks and Koren are also excellent characters, relate-able and engaging. Alternatively, the “bad guys” don't have as much depth as the aforementioned characters so they feel interchangeable and dispensable. It would've been nice if a little more time had been spent developing them and their motives. Though a long time science fiction fan, this is really one of my first experiences in the cyberpunk genre and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are quite of few turns and surprises. Make sure you're paying attention because it would be easy to miss some important clues. The depiction of our future, though extreme, strikes a few familiar cords. The eerie world, in which technology rules, seems to fit with the current way our society is heading. It makes you question how much faith we put in technology and how much we're willing to give up our free will and decision making power to “the machine”. (less)
Sometimes you come across a book that just blows you away. This is one of those books.
Kafka's and Nakata's adventures had me utterly addicted from the...moreSometimes you come across a book that just blows you away. This is one of those books.
Kafka's and Nakata's adventures had me utterly addicted from the first few pages. It has been awhile since I have been engaged by such well developed and compelling characters. The two couldn't be anymore different. Kafka, a teenage runaway, was the “toughest fifteen-year old in the world” and Nakata, a mentally-blank senior. But Murakami's writing is perfect for both of them. They seemed so human that you found yourself cheering them on as they searched what they were looking for and felt their failure and success as strongly as they did.
Beyond the characters, the story itself was well crafted. There are quite a few twists and turns and it wasn't until the very last moment that I knew what was going to happen. There were a number of times I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen and having no idea where Murakami was going to take me next.
The writing wasn't difficult but the story is one that will make you think. The importance of relationships, the power of memory and the journey towards what you need to do (even if you don't know what that is yet). Heavy issues, but tackled in an accessible way. This will be one book that sticks with me for a long while. (less)
Having just completed The Name of the Rose I thought I would continue the monastery theme with the Monk. My naive self even thought they would be pret...moreHaving just completed The Name of the Rose I thought I would continue the monastery theme with the Monk. My naive self even thought they would be pretty similar in content. Whereas The Name of the Rose is an excellent and well crafted mystery, The Monk is a creepy and suspenseful horror novel. The novel follows the story of two main sets of characters; the monk, Ambrosio and his love Antonia and Lorenzo and his sister Agnes. The two sets are connected in a variety of ways but for most of the story are kept separate. This is an excellent plot device as it juxtaposes the evil and corruption of Ambrosio and the honour and fidelity of Lorenzo.
Ambrosio is the hero of the city. A pious and highly respected monk, he is the model that everyone else looks too. Even heroes, however, can be tempted and Ambrosio gives in to these temptations. Before he knows it he is overcome by passions and moves further and further away from the man Madrid thinks he is. He attention becomes fixed on Antonia, a young virgin in the city and become intent on her corruption. Lorenzo on the other hand has just come to Madrid. He meet Antonia and is determined to make her his bride. Before he can, however, he gets caught up trying to rescue his unfortunate sister from her covenant, in order to reunite her with her husband-to-be. Lorenzo is only working for the good of his sister (and her fiancee) whereas Ambrosio is only working for the destruction of Antonia. It's hard to miss who the good guy and bad guy are supposed to be. The book isn't completely straightforward though! There are some good twists and surprises at the end.
The descriptions and dialogue in this novel, though flowery, are powerful and you can relate the settings and understand the motivation of the characters. Lewis' writing is poetic and I often found myself reading for much longer than I intended to. A couple times I found he got a little carried away and took the reader away from the main plot(s). The back-story of Agnes and her fiancee also seemed to go on for longer than necessary.
Overall a beautifully written novel with some heroic and very creepy characters. It's a novel that's going to sit with me for awhile and I think will reveal even more on a second reading. The depiction of Ambrosio fall for piety to ruin is truly disturbing and makes one question their own motivations and ability to resist temptation. (less)
I'm sorry to say that I don't think this book lived up to the hype.
Don't get me wrong I think that Capote writes beautiful prose and the story itself...moreI'm sorry to say that I don't think this book lived up to the hype.
Don't get me wrong I think that Capote writes beautiful prose and the story itself wasn't that bad. I just couldn't stand Holly Golightly. Her character was just so flighty and shallow. I couldn't relate to her and I couldn't understand other's interest in her.
The narrator on the other hand was a much better character. He was interesting and thoughtful and way more human than Miss Golightly. I cared significantly more about what happened to him but Capote seems to only take him to a certain level of development then stops.
The book was short,not much happens and the main character is annoying. Considering this is my first Capote book I was sadly disappointed.(less)