This fourth installation of the Shardlake series is as wonderful as the others. If you like mysteries, or are the least bit interested in Henry VIII'sThis fourth installation of the Shardlake series is as wonderful as the others. If you like mysteries, or are the least bit interested in Henry VIII's era, then you'll want to read this book....more
It's an interesting post-apocalyptic future book in which humanity slips back to a sort of dark ages. My dad recommended it, and I've heard it describIt's an interesting post-apocalyptic future book in which humanity slips back to a sort of dark ages. My dad recommended it, and I've heard it described as a classic, but I never got into it really....more
This book is about a teenage boy during the Prohibition era who grows up worshipping the local mob boss, and manages to worm his way into the gang. HiThis book is about a teenage boy during the Prohibition era who grows up worshipping the local mob boss, and manages to worm his way into the gang. His life is rapidly transformed as he grows up far too quickly. He meets a woman who was formerly the "moll" of one of the leading members of the gang, and seems to lead several lives; soon he finds himself walking a very fine line...
I liked this book as much as The Godfather. There was a movie version of this book, but it didn't make anywhere near as much of a stir as the movie version of The Godfather....more
My dad has a great collection of old paperback science fiction books from the fifties and sixties. Many are pulp, but almost all have fantastic wonderMy dad has a great collection of old paperback science fiction books from the fifties and sixties. Many are pulp, but almost all have fantastic wonderful cover art. I'm a sucker for one of those cover paintings with a rocketship landing on a moonscape with impossibly-sharp mountains, and either a bad guy in a spacesuit or a scary alien lurking in one corner.
Anyway, I read this book from my dad's library as a teenager, but didn't get much out of it at the time. After re-reading the book, I'm very impressed. This book is a classic of the genre of books about the future, alongside 1984, The Time Machine, and Brave New World (which I haven't read yet).
The book reminded me quite a bit of The Time Machine, in which the protagonist from our time travels into the far future and meets two races of people descended from the leisured class and the working class. The protagonist of this book, Alvin, is from a race of people inhabiting the last city on earth millions of years in the future, served by a massive Central Computer and various rarely-seen robots and machines, who are terrified of the outside world. He meets another more rural race that has all but lost contact with the city, and is highly suspicious of the city's culture and ways. After thousands of years of stagnation, both races have forgotten their shared history and the illustrious heights their ancestors scaled. With help from newly-made friends, Alvin pieces together the truth....more
This is a very well-written story about a British soldier in India in 1799. This is the start of a long series of books, which will go onto my to-readThis is a very well-written story about a British soldier in India in 1799. This is the start of a long series of books, which will go onto my to-read list right away!...more
I found a first-edition copy of this book in my grandparents' bookshelf as a teenager, and I read it because it was about World War II and the Navy. II found a first-edition copy of this book in my grandparents' bookshelf as a teenager, and I read it because it was about World War II and the Navy. It's not really a book about the war; the war is merely a backdrop. I can't remember if I read it before or after The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by the same author. I served in the military myself, and I believe that this book played a small part in choosing the Navy over the other services. The book is about the incompetent captain of a small Navy ship, Captain Queeg, whose grip on reality gets tenuous under stress, and about a spoiled son of a wealthy family, Willie Keith, who grows into a man as an officer on the ship.
I've seen the movie, by the way, which stars Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg. The movie's pretty good, but the book is excellent. To me it's everything a great novel should be. The author, who is still alive at age 99 as of this writing, has an excellent understanding of human nature and the way the Navy works, which he acquired by serving as an officer during the war on the same type of ship in the book. As someone who likes to write (in the media of emails to friends and mediocre book reviews), I greatly admire the author's writing, which just sparkles throughout the book. The book is great because of the characters and the writing rather than the plot. The plot is interesting, but it seems to unfold at a predictable pace through most of the book until a few unexpected twists towards the end. I couldn't help but identify with Willie and root for him as he discovers strengths he never knew he had, and hope that he wises up in time to get his girl....more
The book came to my attention because the Wikipedia article about the 1924 movie "Greed" that was based on this book was the featured article of the dThe book came to my attention because the Wikipedia article about the 1924 movie "Greed" that was based on this book was the featured article of the day a few months ago. I'm always on the lookout for books I might like that are out of copyright, and this book qualified, having been published in 1899.
I liked the book's setting of San Francisco in the 1890's, before the great earthquake and fire of 1906. Otherwise there wasn't much to like. The book seemed to be a sort of morality play to demonstrate that bad things happen to greedy people. That didn't seem very convincing; why would somebody watch her entire life crumble because she refuses to spend or invest a cent? The descriptions are clear, and the plot shocks often in the second half of the book, but in my view that doesn't make up for the boring story or the uninteresting and unlikeable characters.
Apparently the silent movie version, written and directed by Erich von Stroheim, was shot entirely on location, and was considered by some to be one of the best movies ever. I'll have to look for it on TCM....more
I watched the movie first; all I remember was someone doing a back-flip onto a fence rail that was resting on some lady's hands, and that Renée ZellweI watched the movie first; all I remember was someone doing a back-flip onto a fence rail that was resting on some lady's hands, and that Renée Zellweger was in it. I didn't like the movie: it was too grim, too bizarre, and too complicated. That prejudiced me against the book for quite a while, but finally I broke down and started reading it. Like All the Pretty Horses, this book features non-traditional punctuation for the spoken dialogue, which put me off for a while until I got used to it.
What a book. This is the best book I've read since All the Pretty Horses. It's about a Confederate veteran in the Civil War recovering in a hospital from a horrific neck wound, and about the woman back home that he dreams about, who recently inherited a farm that she has no idea how to manage. The veteran, Inman, decides that three years of the horror of war have been enough, and deserts from the hospital in Virginia to walk home to Cold Mountain in the mountains of western North Carolina. The Confederacy is crumbling in the last year of the war, the woods are full of deserters, and the Home Guard are viciously hunting the deserters and anyone suspected of harboring them. Inman's intended woman, Ada, gains the help of a female friend, Ruby, and together they do their best to make the farm produce enough food to keep them from starving over the coming winter, with no men available to help.
The book comes across as being very grim at first, thanks to the veteran's accounts of slaughter in several battles, and the many senseless violent incidents born from the war that he finds himself in during his long walk home. Thanks to the grimness, I stumbled through the first third of the book. But the grimness of war and senseless slaughter were soon offset to me by the kindness of people helping strangers in need, and the survival of hope despite the horror. It's an amazing story about humanity at its worst and best, which became very compelling to me.
Inman was apparently a real person, although the author says he took many liberties with the man's story; I don't think anybody minds, because the author is the real Inman's great-great-nephew. The author's knowledge of the flora and fauna of the region, and his understanding of how people housed, clothed, and fed themselves in the era seem totally convincing. It was a treat to get a glimpse of ordinary life in that time, but it's the humanity of the characters, and the great story, that make the book truly compelling.
In my opinion, this book is twice as good as Gone with the Wind, although Gone with the Wind made for a much better movie than this book did....more