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)
I'm not an NPR listener but something about this title caught my eye. I downloaded it at the end of the year when I was trying to squeeze in one last...moreI'm not an NPR listener but something about this title caught my eye. I downloaded it at the end of the year when I was trying to squeeze in one last nonfiction book to complete a reading challenge. Only about two hours long, I knew I could listen to it in just a couple of days on my commute.
The first part was unimpressive. At this point I've forgotten what most of those stories were. I do remember one about a young lady aging out of foster care that made me feel sad for her and others like her. Otherwise, its a pretty big blank.
And then I got to the second part. Here were the stories that wouldn't let me go.
A young man getting off the farm and into college with not much more than his determination and "Ten dollars and a dream."
A small town basketball team making it to the state playoffs, taking the hometown pride with them.
An elderly woman telling a story about her misfortune with a...unique... bra when she was younger had me laughing out loud!
Following a couple after that big earthquake in China flattened their apartment building with their young son and a set of their parents inside.
My favorite was probably the one about the US Marshals who kept their charges safe during school integrations in the Civil Rights era.
Most of these had me near tears for different reasons. And I'm seriously not a crier.
I don't know if the stories really were that uneven or if it just took me half the book to settle into what NPR is about. But once I got into it, I loved it. I felt like I experienced a huge range of human emotion in a short time span. I was saddened, I was angry, I was proud, you name it, I probably felt it.
I do highly recommend this. It would be a good read on a day when you're just feeling down and ready to give up on humanity. This is more what we're about than anything you'll see on the news.(less)
Yunior has cheated one too many times. The smartass Dominican narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is just not in a good place. In a serie...moreYunior has cheated one too many times. The smartass Dominican narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is just not in a good place. In a series of short stories set around different events in his life, he reflects on how he has arrived at this point.
This is so hard for me to rate!
I was not happy through most of these stories. I really, really, really liked Yunior in Oscar Wao. Would I ever date him? Absolutely not. Did I like him? Yes. He was a screw-up at best but he seemed to have his life together by the end of that book. At least from what I remember.
But this shows us that he doesn't. He can't seem to change his ways.
He relates affairs, his relationships with his brother and his father, his friends' affairs.... This is not a happy romcom by any stretch of the imagination.
I still loved Yunior's voice, I just wanted to smack him around until he became the person I knew he could be.
And then I read the last page and a half. Yes. That close to the freaking end of a book that was at best three stars, Junot Díaz rocked my world. I understood where Yunior was coming from and what he was trying to do. I understood what he was saying. And I loved it. I had goosebumps, it was so perfect. I am not lying. I started seeing what was going on and I got more and more excited and then I read the last sentence and I was in love. It was perfection. Seriously. I immediately wanted to flip to the front and start over and see how my perspective shifted now that I got it. But the library book is due tomorrow so I don't have time for that. I probably need a little distance anyway.
There is one story written from a female point of view. As far as I could tell, she didn't have anything to do with Yunior but she added another layer to the threads of the immigrant experience and fidelity in relationships.
There is a lot going on in this slim book. Families, illness, immigration, relationships, starting over, loss, and more I can't think of right now. None of it was particularly easy to read, but with this book, Junot Díaz has made me a fan for life. I recommend it if a a very stark reality and tough themes don't turn you off.(less)
Editor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger Games...moreEditor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger Games trilogy.
How do I put this? I'm not really a huge analyzer of books. Sure, I write plenty of reviews, but in those I just write what I liked (or not) and why. That's really about as far as I go. Back in my English class days, I could produce solid essays but since graduating, I've gotten to be a lazy reader. I'll occasionally think about the more obvious themes in a book, but then I pick up the next one and move on. This collection impressed me because of the amount of thought that went into each and every essay. I had mused briefly about some of the topics, I think my sister and I even discussed a few of them, but these authors all went above and beyond in their analyses.
My favorite was "Team Katniss" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This was one essay that overlapped with a conversation my sister and I had. Why "Team Peeta" or "Team Gale"? Why not "Team Katniss"? Katniss is pretty freaking awesome on her own. Barnes presents her argument better than Rachel or I ever did. I just loved it.
I also really enjoyed "Community in the Face of Tyranny" by Bree Despain. I don't recall thinking much about the (lack of) community in the world of Panem. Despain argues that part of Katniss's magic comes from her ability to foster a sense of community wherever she goes. It's true, and I liked it.
At first, I thought entries by Cara Lockwood and Terri Clark were a little more light-hearted but even these surprised me with their depth. Lockwood writes about the "Not So Weird Science" of Panem and how these far-fetched "muttations" could become realities sooner than we think. She also addressed the need for science to look at the consequences of genetic engineering and not just "Can we do it?" Clark writes about a "Crime of Fashion" and the role that Katniss's looks, and Cinna's hand in them, played in the series. How far would Katniss have gotten without Cinna? Sure, we the readers love her, but she would probably have been largely overlooked if she'd first appeared in a humdrum coal mining outfit.
I feel the need to mention "The Politics of Mockingjay" by Sarah Darer Littman. It draws blatant parallels between the politics of the War on Terror and the politics of Panem. I enjoyed reading it, but I know it will completely turn off some readers with different political beliefs. I was surprised to read this in a book aimed at young adults, but we all need to be aware of what's going on in the world around us.
There's a sequence of essays that leads from reality vs unreality to reality tv to the power of the media and those all kind of blended together for me. I can't say that any were badly written, but I had, surprisingly enough, considered most of this while I was reading the trilogy. They started to overlap and get repetitive.
Fans who just can't get enough of The Hunger Games trilogy should enjoy reading this. It's thought-provoking and informative, and will probably leave you ready to re-read the books. (less)
Dreams Made Flesh is a collection of four short stories/novellas centered around Jaenelle and her court. One of the events takes place immediately aft...moreDreams Made Flesh is a collection of four short stories/novellas centered around Jaenelle and her court. One of the events takes place immediately after the third in the Black Jewels series, so anyone reading this should keep that in mind. It definitely has spoilers for the previous books.
My favorite story by far, was "The Prince of Ebon Rih." How I grinned as I read it! I've always liked Lucivar, but he really is cast as the older brother in the series. There is definitely more to him than that, so it was great to see him as a powerful ruler in his own right and a sexy-as-hell man. Watching him deal with that bitch Roxie was a pleasure. Seeing his insecurity in dealing with Marian was delightful. He didn't know what hit him. Absolutely loved it.
My sister, who shoved this book into my hands saying only, "Read. This. Now." loves "Zuulaman." This is an event from Saetan's younger years that made him a legend. I liked it, but somehow couldn't help comparing it to Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana. You probably have to be inside my head to see how that happened. I loved Tigana and this story suffered for the comparison. And probably from my sister's buildup. Still, it was a very cool showcase of Saetan's raw power.
"Kaeleer's Heart" would have been good, but it was a little too much like "The Prince of Ebon Rih." It was nice to see Daemon and Jaenelle together, but I felt like I had pretty much read the story already, just a few pages earlier. It is sexy to see the lengths that Daemon is willing to go to in order to protect Jaenelle though.
"Weaver of Dreams" was just a confusing little legend and that's all I have to say about that.
If you enjoy the Black Jewels books, read this one. It was mostly a very cool addition.(less)
I'm trying out audio (again), this time during my commute to work. My commute isn't bad, about 30 minutes, so a collection of short stories, written a...moreI'm trying out audio (again), this time during my commute to work. My commute isn't bad, about 30 minutes, so a collection of short stories, written and read by Neil Gaiman no less, seemed like a good place to start. I was right!
I'll say first of all that I love Gaiman's voice. I could listen to the man all day. I don't really have any other narrators to compare him to, but just the fact that I actually finished this audio book should be a testament to his greatness!
I've read a lot of these stories in print, but I have to say that hearing Gaiman read them himself added a little something to the story. For example, I would never have "heard" the troll speaking in such a gray, tired voice if I had read it on my own. Hearing Gaiman's take on that really paved the way for the ending of that one. There were more examples, but that's the most striking.
"Four and Twenty Blackbirds" reminded me a lot of Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime series. It's a very tangled, nursery rhyme noir PI story, which sounds like a big mess but was actually a lot of fun.
"Troll Bridge" was a little eerie. I did not see the ending coming, but it made sense. It reminded me a little of another story of Gaiman's that I read in Fragile Things. I like this take on the theme better.
"Don't Ask Jack" was probably my least favorite, just because there wasn't much story. It's a goose-bump-inducing little vignette though.
"How to Sell the Ponti Bridge" was another I wasn't that crazy about. It was sort of a fantasy version of a ballsy scam. Not exactly my thing.
"October in the Chair" is a story that I really liked in Fragile Things. I just like the imagery of the months of the year gathered around a campfire telling stories. The story October tells is somehow more sad for me than anything.
"Chivalry" was one of my favorites. I loved the character of Mrs. Whittaker (sp? a reason I do like print books better). I can just see this lonely, crusty old lady who makes poor Galahad work for the Holy Grail.
"The Price" is perfect for Halloween. I saw this whole story very clearly in my mind, and I felt so worried for the cat and the family. It always amazes me when well-written short stories can make me care about characters so quickly.
"How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is just an odd story. I didn't care for it in Fragile Things, and I didn't care too much for it here.
"Sunbird" is another one I've read elsewhere. I somehow lost the end of this on my ipod, so I can't say too much about it, but I do remember that it was not a favorite when I read it in print.
"The Witch's Headstone"--the story that started The Graveyard Book. I love it in any format. I just love Bod and the witch, and I loved the book this grew into.
"Instructions"--I don't think I liked this a whole lot when I first read it, but it has grown on me and I now love it. I love my illustrated edition, but I also love hearing Gaiman read it.
This book is supposed to be a collection of stories for teens, and I do think it would work as an introduction to Gaiman for that age group. But I also just highly recommend it in general. (less)
This collection of short stories is exactly what the subtitle says: tales of star-crossed love. Crossing a gamut of sub-genres within the realms of sc...moreThis collection of short stories is exactly what the subtitle says: tales of star-crossed love. Crossing a gamut of sub-genres within the realms of science fiction and fantasy, there should be something here for almost everyone.
As with almost any anthology, there were stories that I loved and some that just didn't do anything for me. I was a little afraid that it would start to get depressing (star-crossed love just doesn't sound happy, now does it?) but there was a good balance of happy and sad endings.
Favorite story: "Hurt Me" by M. L. N. Hanover.--A woman moves into a house haunted by an angry ghost. It was dark and disturbing all the way through, but holy cow, what an ending. I feel like I should have seen it coming but I completely did not. Very well done.
"Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher--Someone starts magically forcing people to fall in love on Harry's turf with disastrous results. I've only read the first two books in the Dresden Files, but I do love Harry and Murph. There wasn't really anything spoilery in this story, labeled as # 11.5, but it was a little bittersweet.
"The Marrying Maid" by Jo Beverley--A young aristocrat zeroes in on a sensible vicar's daughter as his one true love. This felt like it was going to venture into bodice-ripper territory (nothing wrong with it, but that's not my thing), but it steered mostly clear. It was fun but I don't think it will end up being memorable for me.
"Rooftops" by Carrie Vaughn--A playwright living in a version of Gotham City is rescued by a masked crusader. A strong contender for my favorite story. A shy new superhero? Yes, please.
"Demon Lover" by Cecelia Holland--A young woman unsatisfied with her lot in life ventures into a castle she's never seen before. I had to look and remind myself what it was about. Not a great sign, but I did enjoy it while I was reading it. A story of mortals drifting into the faery realm is always a safe bet for me.
"The Wayfarer's Advice" by Melinda M. Snodgrass--The captain of a tradeship stumbles on the wreckage of a Imperial cruiser (different wording, same thing) and he's pretty sure his old flame was on board. Again, I had to look back at it, but it was haunting while I was reading it. I felt like there were elements of Serenity in it. I'm not complaining.
"Blue Boots" by Robin Hobb--I did not enjoy the two books I've read by Robin Hobb at all so I gave up on her altogether. This story made me rethink my stance. A plucky kitchen maid and a minstrel? Again, has my name all over it.
"The Thing About Cassandra" by Neil Gaiman--A man starts hearing about an old girlfriend that he'd completely forgotten about. If you read many of my reviews at all, you know I love Neil Gaiman, so you know I was excited for this one. I was let down. There was a twist that surprised me, but I didn't really care. I can't describe it better than that.
"After the Blood" by Marjorie M. Liu--The Amish, a plague, these vampire-y thing? I just didn't understand this story. I felt like I was reading an entry in a series that I knew nothing about. Maybe I was. I was missing a whole lot of information that I think would have helped me make sense of what was going on.
"You, and You Alone" by Jacqueline Carey--Delauney's story, only hinted at in Kushiel's Dart. I loved the Kushiel series so I was very excited to read this, especially when I realized what it was about. Loved it.
"His Wolf" by Lisa Tuttle--A recently relocated woman falls in with a mysterious man and his wolf. It didn't go exactly in the direction I expected, a huge plus.
"Courting Trouble" by Linnea Sinclair--The captain of a tradeship finds herself relying on an old friend for help, years after he betrayed her trust. A little too science-fictiony for my reading taste. I didn't dislike it though.
"The Demon Dancer" by Mary Jo Putney--A magician cop and an old friend tackle a succubus before the spirit can destroy too many lives around the city. I liked this one quite a bit. I didn't see where it was going either.
"Under/Above the Water" by Tanith Lee--Two lovers, separated by centuries, trying to find their way back to each other. Not my style. I typically need to be up in the characters' heads to really enjoy a story and this one felt very distanced.
"Kaskia" by Peter S. Beagle--A man hits "the red button" on a mysterious computer with very unexpected results. Felt a bit too short, although I think Beagle accomplished exactly what he was trying to do. I just wanted a little more!
"Man in the Mirror" by Yasmine Galenorn--A troubled woman moves into a house with a past of its own. A sad, haunting, very visual tale. I really, really liked it.
"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" by Diana Gabaldon--A WWII RAF pilot goes down over Scotland and wakes up in an unexpected place. Possibly my least favorite story. What a crap ending.
And that's it. The good outweighed the bad and overall I enjoyed the book. There were some very strong entries in this collection. I do recommend it.(less)
In the author's note at the beginning of this volume of short stories, Charles de Lint says that he's taking a break from Newford for a while but that...moreIn the author's note at the beginning of this volume of short stories, Charles de Lint says that he's taking a break from Newford for a while but that he still has enough short stories lying around to publish one more collection. I read that and my heart stopped for a second. I love Newford and all the characters in it! They have become my fictional friends over the years! The logical part of my brain can understand though. He's written 20+ novels and short story collections set in Newford, and if I were de Lint, I would probably have gotten tired of it and moved on long ago. My attention span just isn't that long.
Maybe for that reason, this collection felt a bit like goodbye. There were so many stories that paid visits to old friends from other stories and novels. It almost felt like I was being allowed one last peek into their world to show me that they're doing just fine and that they'll continue to be just fine in that world where unwritten stories live. They'll live on as long as loyal fans like me continue re-reading and new fans fall in love with the characters in their turn. I might not be happy about a break from Newford, but I'm happy with where everyone is.(less)
You should see my copy of this book. One of my co-workers, who, for various reasons, has only recently seen how much I read, saw all the neon post-it...moreYou should see my copy of this book. One of my co-workers, who, for various reasons, has only recently seen how much I read, saw all the neon post-it flags sticking out of the side of my book and asked me what on earth I was doing. I blushed and tried to explain how the people in Bailey White's humorous little reflection on life in the South kept reminding me of people I know, so I was just marking the pages. She said that she'd never heard of anyone doing that, looked at me like I was weird, and moved on.
But it's true. "Mama" in particular kept reminding me of different people. I can see all the family members reading this and bracing themselves, but none of you put in an appearance, I promise! Well, Luis does, but he's been warned. Mostly they were little descriptions, but they were so spot-on that they just tickled me. There's this one that reminds me of my grandfather: "When Mama starts to move across a room, people pay attention. You can never be sure she's not going to grab you by the top of the head to steady herself. And she's pretty free with that walking stick too." Her description of the house that she shares with Mama could have been a description of my grandmother's house. I even recognized myself, but I can't tell you where, because it's the punchline to one of the stories. Here's my favorite, reminding me of my husband. After Bailey covers herself from head to toe to brave some repairs among the spiders under the house, she says, "It was no mean trick doing the wiring with those mittens on. But I managed it and crawled out, batting spiders into the shadows. I could hear a thud as they hit the floor joists, then a scuttling sound, then, worst of all, the silence of spiders." I wish you all could see the picture of my husband that this brings to mind. We were picking blackberries in a huge wild, thorny patch of them when he found a gigantic spider. Obviously, he's not a fan, but to be fair, he lived in Colombia when he was young. If I'd had to deal with those mega-spiders, I would probably have arachnophobia too. Anyway, there's a gigantic spider next to a nice juicy patch he found. He yells at me to look over, and I look. From about 50 feet away, I could actually see it. I don't know what kind of spider it was, because we don't grow them that big around here. But Luis decided to brave the spider for the blackberries and he manned up, keeping an eye on The Enemy. And then it was gone. I heard a cry of "I can't find it!" I looked up, and he was high-stepping it out of that patch as fast as he could go! I am not lying about the high-stepping. Those skinny white knees were clearing the tops of the thorns! I laughed till I cried! So, anyway, he understands about the silence of spiders. And the absence of spiders.
These were mostly just short, two or three page vignettes telling an amusing story about Bailey and her eccentric family. But there were a few stories that just told about a poignant memory she has, such as the time she came eye-to-eye with a bald eagle. I loved them all, funny and touching. Well, almost all of them. There were three stories about snakes and I had the willies by the time I finished the last one! Anyway, I do recommend this for anyone looking for a good laugh. I don't think the appeal will only be to Southerners. We're all just people, after all.(less)