This book's average rating is 4.47 as I write this and I'm rating it 2 stars. Where did I go wrong?
It's been a while si...moreUm, I think I missed something.
This book's average rating is 4.47 as I write this and I'm rating it 2 stars. Where did I go wrong?
It's been a while since I finished so I won't be able to get too specific.
First of all, I didn't particularly care for the writing style. Something about his writing reminded me of H. P. Lovecraft, who I also don't fully appreciate, so that was a negative. I found it to be a little...overwrought at times. I don't think it was the translation because there were many translators throughout the collection and the style was pretty consistent. And then I think Borges is just way too smart for me.
I could see that there was all this philosophical stuff going on in the subtext of his writing, but I didn't care enough to stop and think about it and try to figure out what he was really saying. I was just trying to wrap my head around a world that was created in imagination and then starts to slowly creep into the real world. Or trying to determine which of two characters was the dreamer and which was the dreamed. Or were they the same? And why did this head injury leave this character with a Phenomenon-like memory and intelligence? And what the heck is the point of trying to see if you can perfectly re-write Don Quixote by accident? And if I lived in a never-ending library, would I seriously spend all my time searching for the one book with the answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything (Thanks, Douglas Adams) or would I just sit down with the books I had and leave others to the searching? I think my reaction to this book answers that last question.
I just didn't get it.
Maybe if I had taken everything at face value I would have been happier with the book as a whole. It was just so obvious that there were so many layers of meaning in Borges's writing that I wasn't able to do that.
I'm obviously in the minority so don't let me turn you off. If you're interested, go ahead and give it a try. I'd like someone to explain what I missed.(less)
A group of friends travel to Pamplona, Spain for the annual running of the bulls and subsequent bullfights and fiesta.
I didn't like it. Not one bit.
We...moreA group of friends travel to Pamplona, Spain for the annual running of the bulls and subsequent bullfights and fiesta.
I didn't like it. Not one bit.
We read this for my book club because one of our members remembered loving it when she read it in an English class and had been wanting to re-read it. Even she said it was not at all what she remembered and it must have been made better by an awesome English teacher. Let's hear it for awesome English teachers!
Left to struggle through on my own devices, however, I found nothing redeeming in any of these characters. Which was probably the point, but still. I like to read about characters that I actually like. The best one was the narrator, so that was a plus, but he couldn't keep his friends in line and I don't think he wanted to. They were all so very cynical and had seen everything and done everything that they got a little boring.
I told one of my friends who hadn't quite finished by the time our meeting rolled around, "Let me save you some time. They go out, get drunk, Brett sleeps with someone who is not her fiance, the Jew (as he was mostly known) got mad that she wasn't sleeping with him and hit somebody, they all drank some more, and started over the next day."
And that's what I took away from this book. Life is short and boring, you drink and argue, then you die.
I did like Hemingway's style. He's very short and to the point and without seeming to waste a lot of time on description, he manages to put you firmly in a scene. I would occasionally get confused as to who was speaking because he didn't like to use too many "I said"s or "Brett said"s. Otherwise, stylistically, we got along just fine.
I knew this was a classic, so I started trying to find some sort of symbolism. I decided that the poor impotent narrator should be the steer in his herd and then I tried to relate what was happening with the bulls to what was going on with the people, but nothing ever clicked. I must not be in a place in my life for Hemingway to speak to me.
I got confused about time a little too. It would sound like weeks had passed when really it had been days. People would be intensely in love and talking marriage and decide it would never work and sound like they'd had a whole long time together when they'd just met for the first time five or six days before, as far as I could tell.
This book was not for me, but obviously it appeals to someone. It might appeal more to men (Hemingway being one of those very masculine writers) or to urbane people with a cynical mindset, I don't know.(less)
A group of comrades-in-arms have almost all gone back to live in the rural area where they came from. Some are faring better than others but they all...moreA group of comrades-in-arms have almost all gone back to live in the rural area where they came from. Some are faring better than others but they all seem to be at a loss as to what to do with themselves now that the war is over. Things change when their long-time leader, Kunessin, finally retires from the military and comes back to ask them to form a colony on an island with him, free from all care. They'll hire some indentured servants, find some wives, and they'll all live happily ever after. The company agrees, they set off, new wives and servants in tow, and find that life on the island is not as easy or as simple as they expected it to be.
This author was very highly recommended to me by an old friend from high school. I haven't seen her in years but I've seen enough of her on Facebook to trust her recommendations. I chose this book to start with because I could easily download it from the library website rather than waiting a week or so for a physical copy of another work to transfer in to my local library. I felt a little hesitation on her part when I said I had picked this book but she didn't actively dissuade me from reading it. She just warned me to make a list of the character names.
Good thing because I couldn't even remember who was whom among the five main characters, much less the wives and servants. It was a losing battle from the get-go. To me, that signals a lack of good characterization. I have read books with much longer lists of characters and never even hesitated as to who they were (A Song of Ice and Fire is the immediate example. I may not remember all the minor characters but there are pages of main characters alone.) A well-developed character will jump off the page at me and lodge in my mind. The General was the only one I could consistently remember in this book.
My friend had also warned me that K. J. Parker's books are not all happiness and sunshine. I believe she actually said something about a high body count at the end. Check. But I can live with that as long as I know how I got there. Not really the case here.
And that leads me to the plot. It meandered around and never could settle on a direction it wanted to go. It was just complication after complication and most of them arose out of nowhere. There are Big Secrets in the past that are alluded to again and again but are left maddeningly unexplored until the very end, by which time I had completely given up on everything.
I'll try this author again (my friend really recommended Devices & Desires and The Hammer) but I can't bring myself to recommend this book myself. Being centered around relationships developed in the military, maybe readers who can relate or who enjoy that kind of book will enjoy this more than I did.(less)
John Singer is a deaf-mute living a solitary life in a Southern city. His best friend, Spiros Antonapoulos, has been taken away to the state asylum. B...moreJohn Singer is a deaf-mute living a solitary life in a Southern city. His best friend, Spiros Antonapoulos, has been taken away to the state asylum. But as Singer makes his solitary way through life, he draws a group of four lonely individuals to him: Mick Kelly, a poor young girl with dreams of being a famous composer; Jake Blount, an alcoholic trying to spread the word about the evils of capitalism and the glory of Communism; Dr. Copeland, an African-American doctor trying to lead his people to a better life; and Biff Brannon, a cafe owner who is trying to figure out what the others see in Mr. Singer.
I read this back in college but couldn't remember a thing about it when we decided to read it for book club. Time for a re-read! Now I know why I wiped it from my memory.
This is one of those novels that is probably classified as "Realism" and that I choose to call "Pessimism." No one is happy. No one will ever be happy. They are all going to die alone and misunderstood. And McCullers seems to be saying that's the way life is for everyone. I refuse to buy it. That's my biggest problem.
Another problem is that nothing really happens. Nothing. The book just drifts from character to character, each of whom just will not move on to another topic to think about. There's only so much I can read about Mick's "inner room" and how much she loves music. I can list about three or four events that are actual events. The rest of it is just repetitive introspection.
I will say that Carson McCullers' writing voice is perfect for the story. It just feels stark and lonely from the beginning. Perfect for this bleak novel.
I didn't like any of the characters. Mick could have been a great character for me. A dreamy Southern girl who loves music? I should have loved her. But she's too antsy and aggressive. She just won't let well enough alone. She's always picking at everyone in the family. Her tendency to yell at people to leave her secret treasure box alone had my elder sibling tendencies kicking; I was itching to open it up and taunt her with it. I never understood why no one else did. Blount is just an alcoholic. Dr. Copeland won't come down from his ideals to work with the real, living people around him. He sees "his people" the way he wants to see him rather than how they are and so he never reaches them. I still don't know where Biff Brannon was coming from. He's an observer, so maybe he was supposed to give me an outsider's perspective, but he just puzzled me with his motherly tendencies. I didn't even understand Mr. Singer. He was objective enough to realize that the others saw in him what they wanted to see but he couldn't see what a drag Antonapoulos was and move on.
If you like your books stark and bleak, you'll probably like this one. If you see any hope in the world, you should probably give it a pass.(less)
Rebekkah Barrow has left the town of Claysville behind. She keeps in touch with a few people, including her "adopted" grandmother, but otherwise she's...moreRebekkah Barrow has left the town of Claysville behind. She keeps in touch with a few people, including her "adopted" grandmother, but otherwise she's a free spirit roaming the earth. One day she gets a phone call that her grandmother has passed away. She heads back to Claysville for the funeral and learns that her grandmother was actually murdered. There's more to it than that though; Rebekkah and her on-again-off-again boyfriend Byron both sense it. There are secrets in Claysville, and Rebekkah and Byron must learn them before time runs out for everyone.
This could have been so good. I loved the idea. The Barrow women are graveminders, assiduously tending the graves of the town residents. It's obvious from the beginning what is going on and I liked it. But the story just kept circling around and around and around the why of things. There's a lot of drama between Rebekkah and Byron, both in the past and their present. They fight, they make up, they decide they don't have time for fighting, and then they disagree again and have to have another "discussion." It was exhausting! But not in any kind of interesting way. Just in an "Oh my gosh, can we please just get back to the dead people now?" kind of way.
I did actually like Byron. He was trying his very best to figure out what was going on, take care of Rebekkah, and respect her wishes.
Rebekkah was my downfall. Deep down, she knew what she wanted but she kept fighting it and fighting Byron and I just got so tired of it. I didn't really care about her or her personal drama. I wanted to know why these crazy things were happening.
The ending slightly redeemed it because it was fairly horrifying. There had been enough hints throughout that I wasn't surprised, but I guess I was still hoping that I was wrong.
The narrator, Emma Galvin, was absolutely perfect. I wasn't sure what to think of her at first. Her tone was a little flat, but then it quickly came across as eerie as I learned what was going on in this quintessential small town.
I am sure there is an audience for this book. I know it's marketed for adults but older young adults might like it. Rebekkah and Byron have a lot of the same issues that turn me off contemporary young adult novels, so it could be a good fit for readers who do enjoy them. Just remember that there is a touch of horror here. Readers looking for a strong horror read should probably skip on this one.(less)
Peter, Celia, and Margaret have inherited a country estate, complete with an old priory and chapel. The house has been uninhabited for years, but the...morePeter, Celia, and Margaret have inherited a country estate, complete with an old priory and chapel. The house has been uninhabited for years, but the group, along with Celia's husband Charles; their aunt Mrs. Bosanquet; and their loyal retainers, move in to have an adventure.
They get more adventure than they expected. The locals believe the house is haunted by a spectral figure they call "The Monk." The extended family laughs it all off, until they start seeing the Monk themselves.
This was pretty forgettable and the parts that weren't forgettable were irritating.
Let's start with the irritating.
This family moves out to the country and then has a grand old time laughing at all the country people around them. The "upper crust" of the little society gets off relatively unscathed, but everyone else is an ignorant dumbass. Being from the country myself, this stereotype got old for me a long, long time ago.
Moving on to the forgettable...
There was not one character that was well-developed. In fact, I never could remember which man was the husband and which was the brother. It mostly didn't matter since they all just acted like besties anyway and there was never any husband-and-wife chemistry between Celia and Charles. Both of of the guys were flippant little smartasses who thought they were much more intelligent than they actually were. I did have Margaret and Celia straight, but that's only because Margaret was the one who was developing a love interest. Mrs. Bosanquet did amuse me though. She was very good at putting Peter and Charles in their places.
The romance was of the type that suddenly appears out of nowhere, and I generally dislike that kind of thing.
I never really cared what was going on with the Monk. I had an idea about one little aspect of the mystery, and I did figure out who the Monk was, but I think I realized it about the time I was supposed to.
I'll still give Heyer's Regency romances a try, but I'll be skipping out on the rest of her mysteries. There are too many good cozy mysteries out there to waste time on more overdone, forgettable triteness.(less)
Nick and Allie were traveling in opposite directions on a windy mountain road. After a terrible accident, they find themselves traveling down a tunnel...moreNick and Allie were traveling in opposite directions on a windy mountain road. After a terrible accident, they find themselves traveling down a tunnel toward a light. But they bump into each other again and don't get where they're going. Instead, they end up in Everlost, a ghostly realm that co-exists with our world and is populated with other children who didn't get where they were going. They have a hard time accepting their new status as "Afterlights," a name appropriate for the unearthly glow they have now in their afterlives. Of course, they decide to go home. On the way, they meet many other Afterlights and hear terrible stories about a monster named The McGill, a shadowy figure known as The Haunter, and a famous girl known as either Mary Hightower or Mary, Queen of Snots, depending on your view of her.
Eh. 2.5 stars.
I admit that I was a little taken aback by the opening scene and the car crash. It's not graphic, but I expected a YA/MG book to open after the crash, not describe a head-on collision.
My big thing was that I didn't really like anyone. Nick was okay and Leaf was fun, but Allie? She quickly establishes herself as a bossy know-it-all who doesn't listen to anyone else. She gets worse from there--and she's a main character. I really need to like my main characters. I was never sure what to think about Mary either. She's so angelic that you have to suspect she's up to something. Plus, the narrator read her with a holier-than-thou tone which just set my teeth on edge.
There's a twist toward the end that I saw coming from miles away, and I think a lot of other readers will too.
This next bit is going to be way too serious for a piece of YA fantasy, but it's my honest reaction.
I just didn't like the whole concept of Everlost. There's no religious viewpoint offered and there's no clue about what might be waiting at the end of the tunnel, and that's fine, but it just bothered me that these innocents are so easily knocked off course and left to exist in this repetitive, mindless world. If you're going to go so far as to believe in a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to believe that whatever governs that light would set things up better than this.
I told you I was taking things a bit too seriously!
The narrator was okay. He did an excellent job with the voices. Being a new convert to audio, I don't have any other YA readers to compare him to, but I found his general narration to be a little condescending. That's a little too strong a word, but I hope you know what I mean. He was very consciously reading to not-adults.
If you don't rely as heavily as I do on likable characters, you might enjoy this one. It is definitely a unique concept to me. I will not be continuing the series though.(less)
I didn't love this one. I'm not really a fan of dystopian novels in general so that could be the problem. Mostly though, I didn't like anybody. There...moreI didn't love this one. I'm not really a fan of dystopian novels in general so that could be the problem. Mostly though, I didn't like anybody. There was one guy that I kind of liked, really wanted to like, but his role turns out to be fairly small. The other characters were just jerks. And since everybody was a jerk, I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be rooting for. I don't think there was really a good guy. There was just bad and less-bad.
Maybe this world felt a little too...possible. It's set in a future where the big food companies basically control everything. We think the guys with the money control the world? Wait till the guys with the food decide to hold it back. Calories are some sort of commodity, energy is scarce, but at the same time, genetics has made huge leaps forward. How would you like some rice with only half the caloric content of "regular" rice so that you have to buy twice as much? You see how bad this place is?
I wanted to like Emiko, the windup girl, and I think I could have but all the scenes with her in them disturbed me. She's been genetically engineered to give pleasure, no matter what her own thoughts are on what's being done to her body. I almost gave up on the book completely in a couple of scenes where a woman was practically raping her for the pleasure of the crowd at the strip club they were both working at. She is different from most other windup people though (so called because they have been genetically engineered to have jerky body movements so that "normal" people know they've been genetically engineered); she wants a different life. She doesn't accept where her life is leading and she starts trying to change her fate.
There was a whole lot more about revolutions and governments but I couldn't follow it all very well on audio. With Jonathan Davis's narration, I had a very hard time keeping up with which character was speaking. Emiko had a kind of breathless voice but all the men sounded basically the same. I would probably have done better with this in print but I still don't think I would truly have enjoyed it.
This wasn't my cup of tea but others who enjoy dystopian novels more than I do might want to give it a try. (less)
I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes way back in high school one summer. When I ran out of library books, I occasionally delved into my parents' shelves an...moreI read a lot of Sherlock Holmes way back in high school one summer. When I ran out of library books, I occasionally delved into my parents' shelves and that's how I was first introduced to Mr. Holmes. I have a collection on my nook now and I decided to re-read this first--novella, I'll call it--for old times' sake.
I really didn't like it. I enjoyed the setup with Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson and their meeting and all that. But the actual mystery? Improbable is not even the word for it. It just defied belief. Why wouldn't a British detective know all about the American West? Please. The whole murder and everything is just overly melodramatic.
And then there was the way that the Mormons were portrayed. Unflattering to say the least. I am not Mormon and know shamefully little about the faith, but, my goodness--I was offended on their behalf!
I'm sure I'll get around to reading some more of the stories, but this re-read left a bad taste in my mouth.(less)
In a future that strongly resembles Invasion of the Body Snatchers, humans are an endangered species. A militantly peaceful race of extraterrestrials...moreIn a future that strongly resembles Invasion of the Body Snatchers, humans are an endangered species. A militantly peaceful race of extraterrestrials known as "souls" has decided that the passionately violent humans don't deserve to live on the Earth. So they have calmly taken over the vast majority of human bodies.
Sometime after the aliens have gained control of the planet, a soul known as Wanderer is implanted in the body of a young human fugitive named Melanie. But Melanie has not gently left her body; she is still sharing it with Wanderer, making the soul relive her worst memories and feel disturbingly intense human emotions while fighting desperately to hide memories of her human family. The two reach an uneasy truce when Wanderer decides to follow Melanie's memories into the desert to try to locate her family--lover Jared and brother Jamie.
Oh, Stephenie Meyer, what am I supposed to do with you?
I admit, I generally get fully involved in Meyer's plots against my better judgment (the big exception being with New Moon). She writes a riveting story, but then the females are--well, not. Riveting. Or interesting. Or really much of anything except helpless around their men. As in multiple men per woman.
Wanderer irritated the absolute heck out of me. I admit, I didn't notice it too much with Bella until New Moon but Wanderer hit me right away. I know she's supposed to be all peace, love, and happiness, but come on. You can't faint every time someone looks at you the wrong way. And she's always so--almost happy at the thought of giving her life or getting hurt to protect someone she loves. I'm not joking. It went beyond martyr complex. Way, way, way beyond. By the end, I was ready to throw the book against the wall and give up. Five hundred pages of reading time down the drain. But I stuck with it and I can't say that I regret it.
Melanie would have been an awesome character, but she's not in the driver's seat, either in her own body or in the story. The few times she manages to break through Wanderer's control and act on her own, it's obvious that she's got a temper, she's not afraid to fight, and she's not afraid to love. Please write a book with that kind of character next time, Ms. Meyer.
And then there's this really weird love triangle/square. Yeah. I'm over the triangles in general but this one got crazy-weird. How do you even make a love square? I would have said it wasn't possible, but I have now been proven wrong.
The aliens have Seekers, souls who search out the "wild humans." There's one Seeker who becomes obsessed with Wanderer, following her around all day and generally giving both her and Melanie the creeps. That storyline had a lot of potential but it was a bit of a letdown. It caused the climax but after all the buildup I expected there to be some sort of huge confrontation between them.
Despite all that, I tore through the darn thing. It is an easy read, but even then, my reading speed is nothing compared to what it once was. This should have taken me a good three weeks and I finished it in two. I just needed to know what was going to happen next. Once I gritted my teeth and decided that I was definitely going to finish, I needed to know what was going to happen at the end. It becomes obvious further out than it should have, but I had all kinds of scenarios going through my head. I wanted to see which one would be the "official" version.
I found it intriguing to see the world the souls had created and the way the humans were surviving. I see room for a sequel in explaining the Origin of the souls. Wanderer tells a little of their history, but there are some "distressing" parts that she glosses over. "The Vultures were...not kind." (Paraphrased) And that's all she says. What were the Vultures and what did they do to the souls to turn them into interstellar parasites? I confess, I want to know.
Stephenie Meyer seems to be a polarizing figure. I think you knew before you read my review whether you were ever going to read this or not. Fans will not be disappointed.(less)
Thomas suddenly awakes in a box as a group of other teenage boys looks down at him, calling him unfathomable names like "shank" and "greenie." He has...moreThomas suddenly awakes in a box as a group of other teenage boys looks down at him, calling him unfathomable names like "shank" and "greenie." He has no idea how he got there or where he came from. All he remembers from his past is his name.
He eventually learns that this group of 50-60 boys live in the heart of a maze. They've been looking for a way out for years and haven't found it yet. They must return to the Glade every night, or else they'll be locked out and left for the Grievers. Thomas starts to have a feeling that he knows more about the maze than he first thought. Turns out he's right.
Ya know, dystopian novels are just not my thing, yet I keep trying. At what point do I give up? Is it good that I keep trying or is it a waste of my time? I just don't know.
My problem with this book was that absolutely no one would tell Thomas what was going on. Granted, they don't know a whole lot about what's going on either, but someone could at least say, as soon as they get him out of the box, "Look, dude. You're in the middle of a gigantic maze. None of us knows how we got here. None of us remembers anything before waking up in that box. We get supplies weekly. Don't get caught outside the Glade after dark because these horrible monsters that we call Grievers will kill you. Yes, we've been looking for a way out but we haven't found it yet. Any questions?" Instead it's just a whole lot of, "Shut up with the questions! We'll explain tomorrow." And then, when tomorrow comes, it's "Shut up with the questions! I'll get to that in a minute." And then they don't get to it for days. It felt like a cheap way to build suspense. I don't think realistically that the whole scenario would play out like that. I know, I'm talking about "realistically" in a novel that has very little to do with reality (we hope), but human nature is human nature. We generally like to tell what we know.
I really--really--hated the ending.
The narrator, Mark Deakins, did do a good job. He has a fairly impressive cast of voices to keep track of, and they all did sound different, whether in pitch or in accent.
Dystopian fans will definitely like this better than I did. I won't be continuing the series.(less)
Lucy Bergmann's husband Thom, is a brilliant physicist who is searching for life on other planets in the near future. He is killed in the opening chap...moreLucy Bergmann's husband Thom, is a brilliant physicist who is searching for life on other planets in the near future. He is killed in the opening chapter of the book, and we're led to believe that religious nuts who didn't want his discoveries published might have been behind his death. A few years later, Lucy herself is being pursued by a group of religious nuts as she transports an ancient document that will cast a new light on the story of Genesis.
I do love Sena Jeter Naslund. I really do. I was thrilled when I won an ARC of her newest book through Shelf Awareness. I was so disappointed when I didn't understand it. I didn't understand it at all.
I hate to write this, because it feels like I'm getting a little personal, but the plot was a mess. I don't know if this was supposed to be a religious thriller/conspiracy book, a pointed statement on the role of religion in world politics, a coming-of-age story, a meditation on marriage and self-identity--I just don't know. There are at least two distinct plots involving Lucy, and I don't understand how they fit together at all. While the scenes set in Eden were gorgeous and lush, I don't really understand how they were necessary. Oh, I get that it's something about the nature of man, but still, it's a long, beautiful section with about zero payoff that I could see. In case you're wondering, questioning religion does not offend me, so that's not the problem.
The one thing I did love is Adam. I've written a long-ish blog post already about how much I love him. He's pretty much physically perfect, gorgeous, well-sculpted, loving, caring, but he's a little damaged emotionally and mentally. I don't know if there's a woman alive who could resist that combination!
The very end was horrible! It felt cheap, and Sena Jeter Naslund is a much better author than that.
I did like the alternate beginning of Genesis. I won't quote it here, because it comes at the end of the book, but I liked it. Religious conservatives might not.
I would give the writing 4 stars and the plot 2 stars, but I just can't bring myself to average it out to 3 stars. I really need to understand why an author thought I needed to read this book, and I just wasn't there. So two stars it is.
You might enjoy this more if you generally "get" magical realism. I can have trouble with it, so maybe that's where the problem lies.(less)
The powerful wizard Crarnock has decided to wipe out humanity with the combination of his magic and his goblin hordes. In order to mount a resistance,...moreThe powerful wizard Crarnock has decided to wipe out humanity with the combination of his magic and his goblin hordes. In order to mount a resistance, the people opposing him must put aside their prejudices, band together and work as one.
My huge problem was that this needed a lot more editing. I'm not talking about just a few typos here and there, I'm talking about lots of typos, incorrect word usage that spell checker will always miss, characters saying gonna when their speech has otherwise been very formal, formatting mistakes, and more. It could also have used a general tightening up of the storyline. I did read a finished copy, not an ARC. I would have had a hard time overlooking all of this even if it had been an ARC.
There were about three gigantic info dumps. I will say that O'Donnell has obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this world he's created, from the history and mythology right down to the smallest details, but my eyes glazed over as I read about the religious history and shifting power between the knights and druids. One character was supposed to be telling another the history, but when that one character talks for pages and pages, I have to call it an info dump.
The story itself was okay. I couldn't help but compare it to The Lord of the Rings. I don't want to go into that too much and give anything away, but I think even from my brief synopsis you can see that there's going to be a little similarity. There was a lot of similarity in the overall arc of the story, but the details were different, if that makes any sense. I honestly never managed to finish The Lord of the Rings, so it didn't bother me too much.
There's a small thread of romance woven into the book and I didn't buy it at all. The guy was great, if a little too perfect, but the woman was just mean to everyone, including him. There's all this stuff about knights and druids not getting along, so I could almost buy it if she was just mean to the knights and got over her prejudice, but she was mean to the druids too. Just plain mean.
I did like the way the knights and druids had to face their prejudices against each other and overcome them in order to survive. That part worked because I saw where they were coming from and I saw the way the relationships evolved. It was believable.
I also liked that we got a little of Crarnock's back story and why he hated people so much. I would have liked a little more than I got, but I definitely got a good idea of why he acted the way he did.
This might work for people who are huge fans of high fantasy if they really don't mind editing problems. I am a bit of a stickler for editing. In all honesty, I can't recommend it though. I would be upset if I paid for a book that read like a rough draft.
This book was so complicated, I don't even know where to start with a synopsis. David Marion is an ex-con who receives advance notice of a hit on his...moreThis book was so complicated, I don't even know where to start with a synopsis. David Marion is an ex-con who receives advance notice of a hit on his life. He escapes and learns that a mega-corporation, UCAI, was behind it. At the same time, Dr. Helen Freyl, who has a complicated past with David, learns that UCAI is trying to get their hands on a patent she holds on some honeybee venom and they'll stop at nothing to get their hands on it.
Let me say first of all that I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.
Now, this was really more like 2.5 stars for me, but I can't bring myself to round up.
This is a sequel to Bleedout, which I haven't read, but there was a pretty good explanation of what had happened previously, so I don't think I necessarily needed to read these in order.
Helen was my biggest problem. I could not bring myself to like her at all. She was a spoiled rich girl who treated the whole thing like a game until she realized that her own life might be at stake. I can't remember how many others had died at that point, but it was enough for me to think that this was an amazingly self-absorbed woman. She had to be at least firmly into her twenties to have her doctorate, but she tended to act more like a teenager. "Oh, let me smoke in this guy's car just to see if he'll say anything." "Oh, let me order the crazy-expensive caviar at this restaurant just to see if he'll say anything." She just liked to push her boundaries and see what she could get away with. She was a tiger while she was pushing away at someone, but the moment that someone pushed back, she was a thoughtless mess of need. I guess there's no turn-on like a guy with a spine, is there? I kept reading, thinking that she was just too stupid to live. She's picking a fight with someone over her hurt feelings as he's trying to save her life, clueless that he's even doing so. Self-absorbed and stupid. Not a winning combination for me.
The book took a long time to get going. There was too much background information. About half the book felt like set up, then by the time the action really got started, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Maybe that was on purpose, but it just felt like there should be more suspense in a thriller. Once I did reach that halfway point, I enjoyed things much more and would give the second half three stars. Unfortunately, that is where I got a little confused though. I was correct about part of what was going on, but it went a step further and I didn't quite follow. That could just be me.
I know this is an ARC and I should make allowances, but there were a few incorrect things that jumped out at me that I really hope get fixed by the final printing. First of all, the Smoky Mountains are in Tennessee, not West Virginia as one of the chapter headings states. There were more incorrect things in that chapter that I'm going to put down to David being a city boy. One other little thing that jumped out was the name SmithKleinGlaxo. That's all tangled up. It's GlaxoSmithKline. I would've missed that one if my uncle didn't work there. Things like that make me wonder about the research that went into the rest of the book.
A reader who isn't as dependent on likable characters as I am will probably enjoy this more than I did. There is a good story of industrial espionage and little guys vs. big corporations in here. It just didn't quite live up to the potential that I saw inside.(less)
In the small town of Pico Mundo, an unassuming fry cook by the outlandish name of Odd Thomas has a special ability; he can see the dead. They can't sp...moreIn the small town of Pico Mundo, an unassuming fry cook by the outlandish name of Odd Thomas has a special ability; he can see the dead. They can't speak to him but they have their own ways of communicating. After the murder of a small boy, Odd sees his spirit wandering around. It's obvious the boy wants justice. His nanny, an old friend of Odd's girlfriend Stormy, is worried that the killer might be targeting her other charge, a young girl. Odd and Stormy vow to do what they can to help protect the children of the town.
Odd Thomas has come to the world of graphic novels. I like the idea but it didn't work out all that well for me.
I love Odd. He's so good and earnest but he still has that unexpected sense of humor and hope despite all the things he's seen. That Odd was in these pages, I just wanted more of him. I think the format limited him. In the novels, I think my favorite parts are his internal musings and it's got to be hard to bring that through in a graphic novel. There were bits here and there, just not enough.
I wasn't a huge fan of the style of the artwork either. In my ignorance, I'll say it looks like anime. Feel free to correct me nicely if there's a better word to describe it. Whatever it's called, I just don't generally care for it.
The story felt kind of--well, circular. They don't really get much of anywhere. It was the same basic events a couple of times and then a big "surprise" ending that wasn't really a surprise.
I will say that it was nice to see a beloved character from the first book who hasn't shown back up in the rest of them. I also like the title a lot.
And that's really all I have to say. More devoted fans of graphic novels may enjoy this more than I did. I'll be sticking to the regular books from now on.(less)
Set in the early days of the USSR, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the doctor and the sweeping changes he bears witness to.
Oh, I had a hard time with t...moreSet in the early days of the USSR, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the doctor and the sweeping changes he bears witness to.
Oh, I had a hard time with this one. It was sheer stubbornness that got me through. I didn't particularly like Doctor Zhivago, I thought Lara was crazy, and I couldn't keep up with the politics. I kept thinking that I should look up the Russian Revolution (or whatever it's called) and try to make some sense out of what was going on, but I didn't care enough to even do that.
There were philosophical discussions planted smack in the middle of conversations. Of course I didn't believe anyone has ever actually talked that way. I couldn't follow the philosophy and then I lost the thread of the conversation by the time the characters got back to talking about something I was interested in.
The doctor was the epitome of "not to decide is a decision." He just went with whatever situation he found himself in. He had some ideals when he was young that he fought for, but then he became jaded and seemed not to really believe in anything. But I could be wrong about that. As his family life changed, he never fought for anyone. He just took the easiest path before him.
Lara was at least passionate but I felt she was inconsistent. Who did she really want to be with? I'm not entirely sure. She said one thing but did another.
What I did take away from the book is how confusing it must have been to live through a time like this. I have a feeling the confusion about who was fighting whom and why was done deliberately. I can't imagine living through a war and never being sure who was on what side and which side I should be on to get through safely. You can see how tightly I would hold to my ideals--I just want to make it through!
And Russian novelists and their character names! Holy cow! I can't keep up with everyone and their nicknames. I just can't. That adds to my confusion as well.
Because I never fully caught the thread of the book, this is really all I can say. It was not the book for me, but if you're curious, don't let me discourage you.(less)
Alice Tanner is helping out on an archaeological dig in the south of France when she finds a cave that obviously has some significance. She finds an a...moreAlice Tanner is helping out on an archaeological dig in the south of France when she finds a cave that obviously has some significance. She finds an altar, a labyrinth, and two skeletons inside. Unbeknownst to her, she has stumbled on a secret that a lot of people have been searching for, most who would do anything to find it, and she's caught right in the middle of it.
Centuries earlier, Alaïs Pelletier is caught up in even bigger events. Her beloved city of Carcassonne is the object of a Crusade. The tolerance that makes her city so vibrant has drawn the wrath of the Catholic Church. A vast army from the northern part of France is marching to stamp out the heretics. Amidst all this turmoil, Alaïs finds out that her beloved father has a secret that must be kept safe at all costs.
Ugh, I'm having a hard time getting my thoughts about this down.
This just never grabbed me. It's supposed to be some sort of Grail-literary-thriller thing and I just kept looking for the thrills. I finally found them about 30 pages from the end. The rest of the time I was just kind of waiting on the characters to catch up to what I had already pretty much figured out. That's not even exactly right. What was going on was so obvious that I kept wondering what the point of the whole thing was. Now that I've finished I'm still kind of wondering.
I did a little better with the storyline set in the past. It was moving a little too slowly for me, but at least I could see where the characters were coming from, I understood the tension, and I felt like they were reacting to it realistically.
I couldn't really buy Alice's reaction to anything in the present. She discovers a cave, gets roughed up by some random dude, and all of a sudden she's running around the French countryside, away from the bad guys, and trying to find out the meaning of the labyrinth while having crazy dreams. She never seemed to grasp how bad the baddies were. "Oh, someone I don't know just gave me a message to meet someone else I don't know in a cemetery? I'll be right there." Um, she's worried about her life at this point, and she goes skipping off into the unknown. Someone breaks into her hotel room? "Well, Mr. Manager, I need a different room." See that? Not a different hotel, a different room. They found her the first time, but it's going to be infinitely harder to find her down the hall. She spends a couple of hours on the internet in the library and she discovers everything anyone could possibly ever want to know about labyrinths and, I believe, this Crusade in France. Granted, there's a mystical element to the story that gives her some "insider access" (more about that shortly) but I couldn't buy that she learned so much in such a short time. Her whole storyline just irked me.
The mystical element bothered me a little too. I love fantasy, so don't think that I'm someone who just has trouble with this kind of thing. Alice keeps having these dreams that seem to be showing the past, but once we learn what actually happened in the past, it has nothing to do with what she dreamed. Well, not as directly as I expected it to. (view spoiler)[Specifically, she keeps dreaming about fire, and being chased through the woods, and then she finally dreams about throwing herself off a cliff so that the pursuers don't have the satisfaction of catching her. I read this as Alice being the reincarnation of Alaïs. None of this happened to Alaïs. None of it. And here I was wondering when she was going to go cliff diving. (hide spoiler)]
And now that I'm sitting here thinking about it, the ending bothered me too. Some stuff happens that makes me wonder at the need for all the secrecy. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I do see the need for secrecy, it just doesn't seem to be such a matter of life-and-death.
I did like learning about this Crusade. I had no idea anything like this had ever happened. I kept wondering what Europe would have been like if the religious tolerance of this region had spread. It would have been a much different place, I'm sure.
I'm thinking that fans of The Eight by Katherine Neville (another Grail book that I had issues with) will like this more than I did.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A re-telling of King Lear as only Christopher Moore could write it, as told by the fool, Pocket.
I don't know if I actually needed to know something ab...moreA re-telling of King Lear as only Christopher Moore could write it, as told by the fool, Pocket.
I don't know if I actually needed to know something about King Lear to really get this, but somehow it fell flat. Maybe it's due to my ignorance of the original. I don't know. But I never had a very good idea of what was going on, what the devious plots involved, and who was trying to take over the kingdom and how. I was just confused. So maybe my confusion dampened my sense of humor, but I really didn't even find it all that funny. It definitely had its moments, but they were pretty few and far between.
I hate footnotes. There weren't a lot of them, and some of them were actually pretty funny, but most of them were just straight up definitions of medieval terms. Maybe I've read too much historical fiction, but a footnote definition of portcullis just irritated me to no end. Why break the flow of the story for that?
My favorite parts involved the servants behind the scenes in the castles. They were light-hearted, normal people, who added most of the humor to the book. That was a nice change from how they're normally portrayed as boring, scared mice that hide in the background.
I enjoyed A Dirty Job much more, but die-hard Moore fans will like this one. Definitely stay away if you're easily offended. By anything. He skewers pretty much everything in this book.(less)
When Michael Berg is 15, he has an affair with Hanna Schmitz, who is over twice his age. The affair does eventually come to an end, but their lives ar...moreWhen Michael Berg is 15, he has an affair with Hanna Schmitz, who is over twice his age. The affair does eventually come to an end, but their lives are intertwined afterwards.
This book should have been passionate, challenging, and emotionally wrenching. But I just felt too distanced from everything. I’m trying to decide if this is because it’s told from Michael’s point of view and he’s a detached kind of guy, but mostly I don’t care. I see what it could have been versus what it is and I’m frustrated.
I think the big conflict at the heart of the novel was supposed to be condemnation versus understanding and how hard it is, or even impossible, to feel both at the same time. I think I was supposed to question what I would have done in each character’s place, but I was too aggravated with Michael to have room for introspection. I was too busy wondering if the jackass was ever going to grow some balls and help Hanna out. (Sorry, Mama. But it’s true.) I wanted to smack him. He let her down in so many ways and somehow always found a way to make it her fault. Hanna wasn’t perfect either. In fact, they destroyed each other in round about ways, when they really could have been each other’s salvation. That may have been part of the point of the book also, but that’s not my kind of thing. I’m a die hard fan of the happy ending.
Readers not requiring too much of an emotional attachment to their books will like this one. I think if I were that kind of reader I would definitely have enjoyed it more and been willing to think more about the conflicts it contains. But I’m not and so I’m left disliking it.(less)