Nick Carraway moves from the Midwest to Long Island to try to make a living after World War I. He is curious about his neighbor and the extravagant pa...moreNick Carraway moves from the Midwest to Long Island to try to make a living after World War I. He is curious about his neighbor and the extravagant parties he throws every weekend. Eventually the two meet and become something like friends. The neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is shrouded in myth and legend and no one seems to know where he came from, how he made his money, or anything at all about him for that matter. Gatsby has a very specific reason for living where and how he does and his personal struggle pulls several others into his wake.
Like many others, I decided to re-read this before the movie comes out. I disliked it in school but I've changed my mind about almost all the other classics I've bothered to re-read, so I thought I might change my mind about this one too.
If you follow my reviews at all, you know that I am a very character-driven reader. Give me an awesome character and I'm happy. But there is not one likeable character in this novel. I think I kind of liked Nick in high school but now I don't even like him. He's by far the best of the bunch but that's not saying much.
Gatsby himself is kind of pitiable. He's worked hard, being pushed constantly by an overweening ambition. He seems to have been born with a desire for more than he has but circumstances cause him to push himself even harder. He surrounds himself with people who don't bother to know him and seems to think that this is what gives a man a full life. Or rather, he thinks its a step on the way to fulfilling his deepest desire. He just made me feel tired and sad. He could have had so much but in reality, he had nothing. The one sentence that sticks out for me is this: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made...." Gatsby, being self-made, doesn't realize this about people with old money and that is his undoing.
We must have watched the old Robert Redford movie in school because I kept picturing him as Gatsby. That's just fine by me; I'd rather imagine a young Robert Redford than Leonardo DiCaprio any day!
This is a short read and I think I'm going to find it a little haunting this time around. It's beautifully written, so if you're interested, go ahead and give it a go.(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)
In this classic tale of growing up in the Jim Crow South, Scout Finch captures readers' hearts as she plays her games and begins to lose her innocence...moreIn this classic tale of growing up in the Jim Crow South, Scout Finch captures readers' hearts as she plays her games and begins to lose her innocence as she watches the adults in her town. A trial that has been defined by race is making everyone show his or her true colors and it's an eye-opening experience for Scout.
I've read this probably 4 or 5 times by now, but I've never actually reviewed it. I really want to say, "I love this book. Not a passing love, but a deep and abiding, down to the soul love. Read it." And leave it at that.
But I won't let myself do that.
I love everything about this book. The biggest thing for me are the characters, especially Atticus and Scout. I love Atticus. No, really. I do. He's such a good man. As several other characters point out, he's the same on the street as he is in his house. He tries to live a life that permits him to look his children in the eyes. As someone else points out, he's the town's conscience. They trust him to do the right thing, often in spite of them. He never lets them down. I noticed this time how much it costs him. Scout is such a little motherless tomboy, I just have to love her too. She's pretty passionate about everything and she's still so innocent. This time around, I actually noticed Jem. I've overlooked him in the past, but I can see that he's going to follow in his father's footsteps.
The story is such a well-done contrast. There are the carefree, almost idyllic days of Scout and Jem's childhoods painted against a background of racism and pettiness and revenge. Harper Lee makes her point about race issues without beating her readers over the head with it. It sneaks up on me every time the same way that it sneaks up on Jem and Scout.
I'm more curious than I've ever been about Boo Radley after this reading. Why does he stay inside? Is he happy, or at least happy enough? What really happened to him in his past?
I'm also curious about Calpurnia. She seems happy enough, but is she really? I started conflating her with Aibileen from The Help. I think Calpurnia is probably as happy as anyone in her position can be, working for the Finches, but she still lives in a racist society.
And I think that's about as articulate as I can be. Why is it always so hard to write reviews of books you love? If you've never read this, pick it up. If you have, isn't it about time for a re-read?(less)
Author Ben Mears has returned to the town of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine, where he spent the best years of his childhood. He had a traumatic, horrifying ex...moreAuthor Ben Mears has returned to the town of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine, where he spent the best years of his childhood. He had a traumatic, horrifying experience there, and he wants to write it out of his system at last.
Around the same time, two other men move into town, R. T. Straker and Kurt Barlow. They buy and move into the local house that has haunted Ben for years. And then people start disappearing...
Parts of this felt a little familiar. Little Mark Petrie reminded me of Jake from The Dark Tower series and the kid from The Talisman. Ben reminded me of someone too, I just can't put my finger on who. And then there's the name Susan. I wonder if there's a Susan in King's past.
That slight familiarity aside, I did enjoy this. I think part of what gives me the willies when reading King's work is that he doesn't back away from using children in his horror stories. He kills them off when he has to and he turns them into evil little beings too. He uses children to chilling effect in this novel.
One of the subplots that I really liked was Father Callahan's struggle with faith. Maybe that's because I did read The Dark Tower series first, but I enjoyed "meeting" Father Callahan and learning more about him. His part in this book comes pretty late, so I'll refrain from discussing him more. I want to re-read his part in The Dark Tower now that I know more about him!
I really liked that the vampires in this book were real, true, evil vampires. Granted, this was written in the mid-70s, well before the current vampire love story craze (not knocking it at all), but it's still refreshing to read right now.
This is not the scariest book I've read by any means, but it's still left me a little edgy. The ghost I have hanging on my front door for Halloween is scratching at the glass and making me jumpy. I may have to move it before I go to bed! I definitely won't be yelling for anyone to come on in tonight, that's for sure!
Oh, and I adore this cover. It's very creepy even at first glance. And then you look closer and see those evil eyes peering out at you....Just perfect for this book.
This is by Stephen King. I think you either like him or you don't. If you like him, you'll like this one. If you're new to King, this might actually be a decent place to start. I think it's a pretty good representation of his work. (less)
Everyone who knows pleasant Dr. Jekyll is surprised that he has taken the brutish Mr. Hyde under his wing. Hyde is a horrible person, and everyone who...moreEveryone who knows pleasant Dr. Jekyll is surprised that he has taken the brutish Mr. Hyde under his wing. Hyde is a horrible person, and everyone who meets him claims to be immediately repulsed by him. It's obvious that there's more to the relationship than meets the eye, but no one guesses exactly how twisted this relationship is.
Okay, you probably know the basic story. I think that takes a lot away from the book. I can imagine that this novella was shocking and horrifying when it was first published, but I just felt a little "meh" about it. I understand that there's a message about pride and ambition and man's dual nature and all that, but I'm usually looking for a good story. I'm not saying that this is a bad story, or that it shouldn't be a classic or anything like that, I just found it a little disappointing.
If you're interested, pick it up. If you somehow don't know what's going on with these two men, go ahead and give it a try too. It's a pretty easy read for a classic, it's short, and it would be creepy if you didn't know what was going on.(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)
Janie Crawford is only 16 years old when her grandmother decides to marry her off to a man who is well-respected in the community. Nanny has had to wo...moreJanie Crawford is only 16 years old when her grandmother decides to marry her off to a man who is well-respected in the community. Nanny has had to work hard all her life and she wants Janie to have an easier life. She marries her off as soon as she notices boys noticing Janie. It comes from a place of love, but Janie wants to live life, not just settle for comfort. So she sets out to live the kind of life she wants to live.
You just have to admire Janie. My gosh, does she just take a big bite out of life and chew it with gusto! She does not have an easy time of it by any means. But she weathers the hard times and she wrings every drop of sweetness out of the good times. She learns early on that she shouldn't be too concerned about what others think of her choices. She's the one who has to live with her decisions, so she's the only person she needs to please. And besides, you can't make everybody happy, so why even try?
I already knew a little about the town of Eatonville from reading Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon. That was getting a little out of order, but I did like reading this and seeing where some of their ideas about the young Zora came from. The town and the alligator stories were especially interesting to me.
I did have a little bit of a hard time with the dialect that the book is written in. I think for about the first half of the book, I was laboriously sounding out each word and translating it in my head. I finally learned to just let go. I could read at pretty much my normal speed and still understand everything. I wish I had managed to do that earlier.
There was some beautiful writing in here.
“When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered al over. Some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another.”
“It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands . . . They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against cruel walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”
“She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.”
Take some time to get acquainted with this book and you will meet a character whom you won't soon forget. Highly recommended.(less)
Any kind of synopsis feels extremely redundant, but I'll write one anyway. Anne Frank is a young Jewish girl in hiding in Amsterdam during WWII.
I don'...moreAny kind of synopsis feels extremely redundant, but I'll write one anyway. Anne Frank is a young Jewish girl in hiding in Amsterdam during WWII.
I don't know how I made it to be 31 years old without reading The Diary of Anne Frank. I'm glad I finally got to it though.
I think Anne's diary made the Holocaust real to me in a way that other books haven't because she is a typical teenage girl in a lot of ways. She's growing up, she dislikes her family and "roommates" one day and adores them the next. She's dreaming about the future, love, a career, and what she really wants out of life. She was funny, she was sad, she was introspective, she was growing, she was intelligent, she was scared, she was brave. She was a great big bundle of glorious possibilities. I wouldn't go back to my teenage years, but I remember feeling all the things she describes.
****SPOILERS IF YOU SOMEHOW DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK****
As I read, especially the older Anne got, I just kept mourning her. I thought she was a talented writer, especially for her age. She had such strong ideas about a woman's life and career and family. I really felt like, at least in a small way and maybe in a big way, the world lost something special when we lost her. I know that's the case with all the Holocaust victims, but I just felt it more with Anne since I spent so much time in her head. She had it in her to make a mark on this world. I truly believe that.
I kept reading slower and slower, the closer to the end I got. I knew what was coming, but I somehow felt that if I didn't read it, it wouldn't be real. I had sneaked a peek at the page numbers and knew exactly how close I was. I didn't count on an afterword, so I was so upset when I got to the end of the diary sooner than I expected. "No!" I thought. "I have four more pages with Anne!" Then I read the afterword and my heart broke even more. She was so close to making it through. So very close.
This is such an important book, I hope it is always widely read. It can be easy to think, "Oh the Holocaust happened so long ago and to a different generation." Anne brings it home and makes us realize that it happened to people just like us.(less)
Several GR friends have read this and raved about it recently. I've been doing a lot of Halloween-related books this month, so I...moreReview of I Am Legend
Several GR friends have read this and raved about it recently. I've been doing a lot of Halloween-related books this month, so I decided to give it a try.
It somehow wasn't exactly what I expected, and I mean that in a good way. I've seen bits of the Will Smith movie (and what I've seen has very little in common with the book), I've read my friends' reviews, but it's still something that I think you have to experience for yourself to understand.
I would definitely call it a horror book, but not exactly for the reason that I expected. There are the vampires, and there are a couple of intense scenes with them, but that wasn't what made the book scary to me. It was more about the absolute aloneness that Neville experiences. He truly is the last man in the world. How would you deal with that? Would you give up? Would you keep fighting? Would you start searching for others? Would you search for the reason behind the horror that has become your life? Matheson explores all of these avenues and more. Neville's reactions felt very real to me. I experienced all of his emotions with him. The vampires were scary at first, and then they just sort of become background noise. Then there's the rage, despair, curiosity, really the whole gamut of emotions that you would feel in that position. There's even one scene that just broke my heart. It's all in here, it all feels very real, and I am very impressed. Highly recommended.
Review of the other stories
I finished out the other stories and they were pretty good. They weren't on a level with I Am Legend, but there were some genuinely spooky pieces in here. My favorites were
"Prey" about an insecure woman and an African doll "Dress of White Silk" about a little girl showing off her mother's evening dress "Person to Person" about a guy who answers a phone that's ringing inside his head
My least favorite were
"Buried Talents" about a carnival game "Dance of the Dead" which is vaguely post-Apocalyptic "Mad House" about an angry man in an angry house.
I'm glad I read them, but I Am Legend was definitely the star of this show.(less)
I'm wimping out on this synopsis. It's on the book page.
I am surprised by how much I liked this book. I had to read Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of...moreI'm wimping out on this synopsis. It's on the book page.
I am surprised by how much I liked this book. I had to read Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath for school, and I pretty much hated them both. Of course, I hated almost everything I had to read for school, so I don't know if that says more about Steinbeck or about me. Either way, I was left with bad memories of Steinbeck.
I have several friends on GoodReads comment on how much they love this book, so when I found this edition with this cool retro cover at a library book sale, I went ahead and picked it up. It would probably have languished for a few more years in my stacks if I hadn't decided to read it for Banned Books Week. (See, book challengers? You are only hurting your case and giving authors publicity. Leave it alone, and a lot of books will fade into obscurity).
Anyway, I started to love this from the first page. Who could resist this prose?
"I remember that the Gabilan Mountains to the east of the valley were light gay mountains full of sun and loveliness and a kind of invitation, so that you wanted to climb into their warm foothills almost as you want to climb into the lap of a beloved mother. They were beckoning mountains with a brown grass love. The Santa Lucias stood up against the sky to the west and kept the valley from the open sea, and they were dark and brooding--unfriendly and dangerous. I always found in myself a dread of west and a love of east. Where I ever got such an idea I cannot say, unless it could be that the morning came over the peaks of the Gabilans and the night drifted back from the ridges of the Santa Lucias. It may be that the birth and death of the day had some part in my feeling about the two ranges of mountains."
I was blown away. Where was the grim author who had written such depressing books that I had been forced to read against my will? This wasn't the same guy, surely!
And that was kind of how I continued on through the book. Oh, it got dark and grim (more on that momentarily), but Steinbeck can write! Who knew?
Let me just jump right in with Cathy. What a psycho bitch. Seriously. I don't know if they used words like psychopath back in the day, but she really is. My status update after she is introduced: "Wow. *blinkblink* Cathy." That said with wide, surprised eyes. She certainly made her mark on me in a hurry. She is just pure evil.
My edition was deceptively thin, so I didn't realize it was over 500 pages of tiny font until I'd gotten a good start. Still, I made my way through this quicker than I expected to. Cathy was the character that I felt the strongest about, but I'm also intrigued by Caleb. He's the one who is truly struggling to be a better person. He thinks that he was born evil, yet he still tries to fight it and be good. I have much more respect for him than for Aron, who just pretended that evil didn't exist and so of course it couldn't describe him. Cal has a bit of "Jacob wrestling the angel" in him.
I find myself almost wishing that I had read this in school. There's so much to mull over and discuss here. I think my younger self would have hated the ending, and even now I wasn't immediately taken with it. But as time goes on, I keep chewing on it, thinking it over, and liking it more and more. Really, it's sneaking it's way onto a special new list I'll have in my head called "Strongest Ending to a Novel." Right now it's all alone on the list, but I'm sure I could come up with some others if I had to.
There are so many things I loved about this book. I loved the philosophical conversations between Lee and Samuel. I loved that I could follow along with them! They had a way of suddenly getting me to see something in a new light. I loved that Samuel Hamilton loved his land even though it wasn't very good, and the way he loved to invent things. I loved watching his son Tom struggle to become himself. I loved that Lee made me think about my expectations and how they affect my perceptions. I loved how Adam made me think about how we choose to either move on or not, because it is always a choice.
I highly recommend this when you're in the mood for a book that will actually make you think rather than just help you escape. We all know I love escapism, but sometimes even I need something meatier, and this certainly fit the bill.(less)
Forget the big, green, shuffling, moaning monster with bolts in his neck that we've all come to associate with Frankenstein. He does not appear in the...moreForget the big, green, shuffling, moaning monster with bolts in his neck that we've all come to associate with Frankenstein. He does not appear in these pages. I wonder what book those old horror movie writers read? It wasn't this one.
Frankenstein's monster is big, but the only other physical descriptions I really remember are flowing black hair, watery yellow eyes, and uncanny speed, agility, and tolerance for cold. Oh, and he's more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. Seriously.
As for Frankenstein himself--a more self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-explicatory character I hope to never meet. He was terrible! This was his story:
"Oh no! Something bad happened!"
He falls over in nervous delirium and is bed-ridden for months.
He moans and groans and just generally doesn't deal.
Then one day:
"Oh no! Something bad happened! But it wasn't my fault!"
He falls over in nervous delirium, bed-ridden for months, blah, blah, blah, blah.
That really is Frankenstein's story in a nutshell.
I do realize that this story was supposed to be more of a warning about our science getting ahead of our morals, pride coming before a fall and all that. On that level, it completely worked. As I read this, the word hubris kept coming to mind, and I haven't thought that word since studying the Greek myths for months on end my sophomore year of high school. That was more years ago than I honestly want to think about. Anyway, Shelley absolutely did what she meant to do and her work is always going to be relevant. But as a reader, I need a character that I can like. I don't think it necessarily has to be the main character, just give me someone, somewhere, to root for. There wasn't one here. Clerval or Elizabeth could have filled the role, but they were little cardboard cutouts to show that Frankenstein had something to lose. The monster himself was briefly likable in his wide-eyed innocence, but then he started to learn all of humanity's nasty habits. He had his reasons, but still. Ultimately I felt kind of bad for him, but I didn't like him.
It's a classic for a reason, and it really should be read, but don't expect to be too happy with anyone.(less)
Shutter Island is off the coast of Massachusetts, housing an asylum for the criminally insane. As a nasty summer storm brews up, U.S. Marshals Teddy D...moreShutter Island is off the coast of Massachusetts, housing an asylum for the criminally insane. As a nasty summer storm brews up, U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule cross over to the island to search for an escaped inmate. But Teddy knows that things are not as they seem on Shutter Island.
Ho-lee crap. It's been a while since a book has messed with my head this much. Just as I thought I knew what was going on, a new revelation would come along and knock all my theories out from under me. It all ultimately made sense and brought me deeper into this world, and I have to say that I loved it. I didn't really know what was going on until the very last few pages, and I find that even after I finished it, I'm sitting here thinking, "Well, maybe it still really wasn't what it seemed..." You'll see. I bet almost everyone is surprised by this ending.
The twists and turns were the big draw of this book for me, but I loved Lehane's style. This is the first book I've read of his, but it won't be my last. Shutter Island is set in 1954, and I love the way these marshals speak to each other and so quickly establish common ground through The War. Their speech, their mannerisms, it all fit together to make them feel like real people.
If I say anymore, I'll give something away, so I'll leave it at that. I highly, highly recommend this if you like your thrillers gritty and unpredictable.(less)
Bestselling author Paul Sheldon wakes up one day to find that he's been in a car crash, his legs are shattered and he's the prisoner of Annie Wilkes,...moreBestselling author Paul Sheldon wakes up one day to find that he's been in a car crash, his legs are shattered and he's the prisoner of Annie Wilkes, his not-quite-stable "Number 1 Fan." And it only gets worse. Much worse.
I'm probably the only person in the world who hasn't seen this movie, so I didn't have much of an idea what to expect. I'm glad I was able to approach it that way. I think it made it so much worse. I mean that in a good way. Because I wasn't waiting to see when this part happened or if that part was actually in the book, I got to just take it as it came. And King kept it coming. I think I was sweating in pain with Paul and tightening up with terror, thinking, "Hurry, Paul! She's coming! SHE'S COMING!" I'm not really exaggerating. I was awfully invested in this.
And that brings us to Annie Wilkes. So, like I said, I haven't seen the movie, but she was Kathy Bates. Or Kathy was Annie. Whichever way. I can only imagine how scary and perfect Bates was in this role. But aside from that, Annie was terrifying. She had such eerily cute little sayings that she would utter as she was doing some unspeakable thing. "Cockadoodie" and "dirty birdie" immediately come to mind. So silly, but so chilling when you've read the book. She has some sort of psych problem that I'm not even going to attempt to diagnose. Whatever it was, as she started to cycle down, my muscles tightened and I started to brace myself for what was coming. It wasn't going to be pretty. And she was going to be frighteningly matter-of-fact about it. Without thinking about it too hard, she just might be one of King's scariest characters for me. That's probably because she's firmly of this world.
If you can handle the violence, I do recommend this. I was scared to death, but that's exactly what I was looking for.(less)
Elizabeth Gilbert is an emotional train wreck. She's going through a tortuous divorce and her on-again-off-again relationship with her new boyfriend i...moreElizabeth Gilbert is an emotional train wreck. She's going through a tortuous divorce and her on-again-off-again relationship with her new boyfriend is just killing her. She realizes that she needs a change in her life if she is going to save it. So she sets off on a year-long journey through Italy, India, and Indonesia to learn how to live "the good life" in different ways. Italy is about pleasure, India is about prayer, and Indonesia (Bali) is about finding balance between the two.
This could have turned into a great big pity-fest but it didn't. Gilbert realizes exactly how blessed she is to have the time and money to undertake this physical and spiritual journey. She gives us the down-and-dirty on exactly how low she had sunk and exactly how bad she felt sometimes, but I didn't feel like she was ever asking for pity.
Oh, these settings and the people she meets! By the time she got through eating her way through Italy, I felt like I needed to go shopping for a larger pants size with her! Just read this description of Lucca. "Sausages of every imaginable size, color and derivation are stuffed like ladies' legs into provocative stockings, swinging from the ceilings of the butcher shops. Lusty buttocks of hams hang in the windows, beckoning like Amsterdam's high-end hookers. The chickens look so plump and contented even in death that you imagine they offered themselves up for sacrifice proudly, after competing among themselves in life to see who could become the moistest and the fattest. But it's not just the meat that's wonderful in Lucca; it's the chestnuts, the peaches, the tumbling displays of figs, dear God, the figs..." Hungry yet? I love what she has to say about the pursuit of something just because it gives us pleasure, whether it's learning a new language, seeking out beauty, or simply buying pretty underwear because you want to.
India was the weak point of the book for me. Elizabeth stays in an ashram practicing meditation and prayer. Richard from Texas is a larger-than-life guy who adds some humor and a dash of reality, but mostly this section was her reflections on--spirituality? That's probably the closest word, because she's not focused on one religion. It's also about the walls she finds on her spiritual path and her breakthroughs. There are people who will love that kind of thing, but I'm not among them. I applaud her journey, but that's not something I typically want to read about.
Then she got to the island of Bali in Indonesia and she started to put it all together. Her teacher there, Ketut (one of only four names they really use in Bali) is an old medicine man whose favorite meditation technique is to sit still and smile. "To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver." That's a meditation I think I could handle! She meets some wonderful people on Bali. There's Yudhi, a brilliant musician who was arrested and deported from New York after September 11 simply because he's Indonesian, even though he's married to an American woman and not even Islamic. There's Wayan, a female healer who found the courage to leave her abusive husband in family-centric Bali before he beat her to death. And then there's Felipe, the Brazilian expat who's suffered through a nasty divorce himself. They all come together to help Liz finish this year of journeying that I can only imagine is the year that has defined her life.
I'm not usually a big fan on non-fiction, but Gilbert's style is more that of a story-teller than of a facts-presenter. She works in the background and the history and the philosophy in just the perfect way to keep me reading. I recommend this for those who can see the value of this kind of journey and who want to live it vicariously.(less)
In Persepolis 2, we pick back up with Marjane as she arrives in Austria. She has a hard time adjusting to life in Europe, and after a few years she fi...moreIn Persepolis 2, we pick back up with Marjane as she arrives in Austria. She has a hard time adjusting to life in Europe, and after a few years she finds herself back in Iran. Then she feels that she doesn’t fit in anywhere. To paraphrase, she’s too Iranian for Europe and too European for Iran.
Overall, I enjoyed this more than the first book. I missed her frequent conversations with God, but I found it easier to relate to troubled teenage Marjane than activist child Marjane. I was busy playing with Barbies when I was ten, not trying to figure out how I could sneak out to political rallies that frequently ended in shooting. Anyway, I felt that since Marjane had lived in Europe at this point, she had some interesting observations to make about how Westerners treat Iranians and the differences in our cultures. It seems that she’s able to see the good and bad on both sides. As an American, it was interesting for me to see what she thinks of Americans and Brits and to see how she thinks the Iranian government manages to keep such strict control over the people.
Marjane herself could be a little whiny, but she is a teenager--I managed to overlook it. I did love the way she would just speak her mind sometimes. I would always catch myself holding my breath as I turned the pages, waiting to see if she had gone too far and really gotten herself in trouble this time. Her grandmother was great. She was always good for a laugh, or at least a healthy dose of reality.
I believe there was a different translator for this volume, and I didn’t like this translation as well. I can see that it would be hard to find a way to work with at least three languages and effectively say what Satrapi was trying to say. But I really think there should have been a way to do it without including the frequent footnotes. Easy for me to say, right?
Again, I felt like she just stopped when she felt like it at the end. There was a resolution, but when I turned the last page and realized it was the last page, I was left thinking, “What?!?! But what happened after that?” It looks like she’s written a Persepolis 3, but my library doesn’t have it. Looking on here, I can’t even tell if it’s been translated into English yet. I’ll be looking for it though.
I recommend this for anyone who wants to continue the story that began in Persepolis, and also to anyone who wants a little more understanding of Iranian culture. Don’t let the graphic novel format put you off.(less)
How the hell is Martin doing this? No, seriously. Not only is he keeping up with 50 pages' worth of characters without bogging the story down in names, but he has twisted this story in every conceivable direction without turning it back on itself. I keep thinking that I have made my peace with losing characters that I love, but I am enraged every time another gets knocked off. I cheer when a bad guy gets it. I want to reach inside the pages and bitch-slap an awful lot of people. They are asking for it. Trust me.
Watching the series on HBO made me brave enough to pick up this one. Much as I love these, they are monsters. I need some courage to tackle them. Watching the series is giving me a better idea of how good Martin actually is. I am a slow series reader, so I do lose a lot of details between books. Seeing how things from the first book tie directly into the third book, about--oh, 3000 pages later, is amazing. It's also making it hard for me to keep my mouth shut as I watch with my sister and husband. They would never forgive me if I let a spoiler go, but it is so. freaking. hard. Like that spoiler up there. I want to tell them all about it and hash out exactly what happened where.
I really don't want to give away any spoilers, but I am bursting.
I might actually be developing a character crush on Jamie.
I hope Jamie is the one who finally does Cersei in.
I hope Walder Frey burns in hell.
I might be a little in love with Jon Snow.
I am thrilled that he is Lord Commander.
I hope he abuses some of his power and kicks some ass. Preferably some Frey ass.
I'm so glad that I will never again have to read "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
I might be developing a character crush on Dany! What she did in Astapor? Beyond awesome.
I'm tired of reading about Arya roaming around the country.
I'm finally starting to feel a little sorry for Sansa. She is hopeless.
Oh, and I'm glad that crazy bitch Lysa is gone too.
I hope Littlefinger is next.
Heck, I hope her crazy son is next!
I hope Brianna kicks somebody's ass. A whole lot of somebody's asses, truth be told.
The only thing more intimidating than Catelyn Stark is a resurrected Catelyn Stark. (hide spoiler)]
Whew. I'm exhausted. That has been building up for a while.
Read this book if you like beyond-excellent epic stories. Really. So. Freaking. Awesome.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(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)
Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in small-town Louisiana, in a time after vampires have "come out of the coffin." Sookie is thrilled when Bill the vamp...moreSookie Stackhouse is a waitress in small-town Louisiana, in a time after vampires have "come out of the coffin." Sookie is thrilled when Bill the vampire movies next door. But shortly after he moves to town, women who are widely known to be "fang bangers" start dying. Everyone knows of Sookie's interest in Bill. Can she find out who the real killer is before she becomes a victim herself?
This was hugely fun. I read 230 pages in one sitting, and the only reason I didn't finish it was because I just had to get to bed. I'd read one of this series a long time ago, before I realized it was a series. It was fun to go back and start over at the beginning.
The men in this book are delicious! I did like Edward Cullen from Twilight, but let's face it, he's practically jail bait. These guys were written for women with a few more years on them. It kind of seemed improbable that every guy in this little town was gorgeous, but hey--that's the fun of fiction, right? And I just have to add here that I'm so glad these vampires don't sparkle.
I loved Sookie herself. For a character in a supernatural mystery, she was very relatable. She mostly tries to be strong and do things for herself, but she also appreciates it sometimes when a man just steps in and takes care of some of her problems. My somewhat-feminist self hates to admit it, but sometimes that is nice. She also has big issues of her own, but she tries to move past them and just live her life the best she can. Plus, she's got a great sense of humor, and she's one of those characters I would love to know in real life. I love it when I find one of those!
It's a little steamy, so if you're super-sensitive to that kind of thing, this might not be good for you. I think it was just enough for most women to actually enjoy without going too far.
The author writes in a very conversational style. I didn't feel like I was reading a story, I felt like the story was being told to me. I love those kinds of books too. I didn't guess "whodunit," (I rarely do), but once I found out it all made sense. And I love this whole vampire vocabulary she uses: "fang bangers," "drainers," a bar called "Fangtasia."
I just thought the whole thing was a lot of fun and I can't wait to read the next. I highly recommend it as one of those fun books you almost have to read between the weightier books. (less)