As a psychology student, I really enjoyed this book. It has TONS of information and statistics, but the writing is accessible. Hare is obviously dedicAs a psychology student, I really enjoyed this book. It has TONS of information and statistics, but the writing is accessible. Hare is obviously dedicated to a cautious and ethical approach. All of his claims are based on repeated experiments and decades of study. He is clearly reluctant to jump to any conclusion, and I consider that a very good trait in anyone that claims to be an "expert."
Overall, Hare paints a scary, but realistic, picture of psychopathy and its prevalence in our society. By his estimations, virtually everyone will encounter a psychopath at one point or another. It is worth the time and effort to read this book and educate yourself in hopes that you might handle your psychopath-encounter better than most people do.
My only complaint is that the book was a little redundant at times. I did have to push myself a bit to plow through it - otherwise I would have given it 5 stars....more
This book is a work of historical fiction covering the years 1123-1174. It follows the life of a master builder, along with that of his children and tThis book is a work of historical fiction covering the years 1123-1174. It follows the life of a master builder, along with that of his children and the women he loves, who is desperately seeking his life's work (the building of a beautiful cathedral). The tale is fraught with betrayal, conflict, tragedy, and crime but tempered with unyielding faith, strength of family, romance, and blind hope. Follett is a wonderful writer. Each character, down the least significant, has an impact on the reader. By the end of the book, the mere mention of a character's name can properly evoke anything from rage to giddy happiness. It starts out slow, but about halfway in I was losing most of my night's sleep to reading and I got the audiobook too just so I could keep listening at work (the audiobook is very well-done by the way). I really only have one complaint. It's hard to explain, but I'll do my best. The course of the story seems very...arranged. Instead of sounding like the story of a man just progressing through life, it sounds more like situations are presented with the intent of progressing the story in a specific direction. It makes it appear a little on the soap-opera-y side. The story is so good though that I just can't hold this aspect against the book. ...more
This books is written journal-style from the perspective of a teenage autistic boy. While out in his neighborhood one night, he discovers that his neiThis books is written journal-style from the perspective of a teenage autistic boy. While out in his neighborhood one night, he discovers that his neighbor's dog has been murdered. He decides to mount an investigation and records his activities in his journal. It's a really interesting, accurate look at the mind of an autistic person. I really enjoyed it from both a psychology enthusiast's and a bookworm's perspectives. It's a relatively short book. I read it cover to cover in just a few sittings....more
I couldn't resist the urge to make this my first Don't-Read [of 2009], seeing as it's been so popularized by the musical version (which I honestly betI couldn't resist the urge to make this my first Don't-Read [of 2009], seeing as it's been so popularized by the musical version (which I honestly bet is awesome) and as it's been gracing the bestseller list for so very long. To me, it's just further proof that most people wouldn't know good literature if it hit them in the face. I think books are a lot like wine. Interesting fact about wine: a person's enjoyment of wine is directly proportional to the amount they paid for it. I think for a lot of readers, enjoyment of a book is directly proportional to the number of endorsements provided by the New York Times. Learn to form opinions for yourselves, people! Anyway, the point is, I thought the book was garbage. I would suggest using it for such things as balancing that dining room table that wobbles or stoking the fire on a cold night but certainly not for expanding your mind. (My favorite aspect of the book was the green edging on the pages - if that gives you an initial idea of my enjoyment of it.)
For me the major sticking points were bad and unrealistic dialogue, lack of believable character development (although I did like the main character), useless plot direction, and terrible pacing. Some of this can be attributed to an attempt to be unusual and artistic - I tend to find that this (usually) backfires when it comes to literature. Much of the dialogue is just downright bad. There are numerous conversations that, in more words, go something like:
"Hi there, would you like a cup of tea?," asked Bob. "Sure. Sugar please," replied Elphaba. "So how have you been?" "Well, frak you too then!!," Elphaba roared before storming out.
It was utterly ridiculous. I spent most of the book thinking, "Wait...what?" That's not how I want to be impacted by a book.
Okay, from this point on, there are a couple of minor ****SPOILERS**** but nothing that would prevent you from thorough enjoyment (if you're into crappy literature) of the book. I just felt the need to be specific about this particular read. If you want to read the book or don't want to hear me further trash your favorite book of '09 then just skip the rest of this.
Additionally, characters developed in such a way that I either felt I didn't know them at all or just didn't care what happened to them. Scenes that were intended to be tragic or alluring or interesting were rendered dull and unengaging because I felt I was reading about strangers. Also, there was one character in particular, Yackle, that appeared repeatedly throughout the book. She was obviously intended to be a mysterious but significant person. She seemed to be an ever-present figure. Right up to the end of the book, the reader waits with bated breath to learn the true importance of her. Problem being: I still don't know! This plot is left hanging, if you can even call it a plot. This is the case with many aspects of the book. Lots of unanswered questions. Lots of ultimately pointless development.
Finally, to touch on the familiar Wizard of Oz story, it's important to note that Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion - upon whom the entire back-cover summary of Wicked focused - appear in maybe twenty pages of the book. Dorothy is the only one that actually has any significance and she still fails to be interesting. The Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion are completely without purpose. That being said, I'd almost consider the ending of the book a deus ex machina ending seeing as Dorothy virtually appears just long enough to kill the witch and end the novel. Perhaps if the story were complete or otherwise better I would feel differently about the ending, but as it stands I just thought it was dumb. Although, admittedly, the demise of Elphaba was pleasantly tragic. One more note: if you're looking for an uplifting, silver-lining kind of ending - this is definitely the wrong book for you. It was depressingly pessimistic - even for me....more
The story follows Zane, a relatively young man with mother issues and an admittedly lame life, who in the midst of a botched suicide attempt kills DeaThe story follows Zane, a relatively young man with mother issues and an admittedly lame life, who in the midst of a botched suicide attempt kills Death and takes his place. He soon realizes that there are much greater forces at work in the world than he had previously imagined and discovers that his life has been orchestrated by the so called Incarnations of Immortality (Fate, Nature, Death, War, Time, etc.). He then seeks to find the reason for said interference. Hijinks ensue.
I appreciated and connected with the main character and many of the minor characters. I was generally entertained. As the book progressed though, I got less and less interested. I'm not a big Piers Anthony fan (I've also read some of the Xanth series). His writing is often very redundant, and this was no exception. In the case of all the Anthony books I've read, the ending feels forced - meaning if the story were to unfold in the context of the fantasy world presented, that ending would not actually have occurred. However, I must admit that I'm spoiled when it comes to literature. Some books are just so well written that after reading them everything else seems a little less impressive. If I had read the Incarnations of Immortality series when I was younger - say, high school or junior school age - I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, it falls into my "meh" category along with the books I save up for boring plane rides and airport layovers. If you ever get stuck somewhere without entertainment and a copy of On a Pale Horse presents itself, read it. It's simply written and generally amusing. Otherwise, there are better things out there to waste your time on. ...more
Despite my indifference (and at times annoyance) with On a Pale Horse, I went ahead and plowed through Bearing an Hourglass. I won't rant at length abDespite my indifference (and at times annoyance) with On a Pale Horse, I went ahead and plowed through Bearing an Hourglass. I won't rant at length about this one, but suffice it to say that I'm equally unimpressed. I'll reiterate, for the sake of those I know who swear by this series, that I probably would have enjoyed it when I was younger (read: less discerning). Piers Anthony's writing is just...well...not great. I think this series suffers from a flaw I've found in many fantasy books: when an author attempts to apply too many powers and too many limits to power simultaneously, it's very hard to prevent contradictions and loopholes in the story.
For anyone that isn't familiar with the series, it's seven books long and each book focuses on a particular "incarnation of immortality." They are the incarnations of Death, Time, Fate, Nature, War, Evil, and Good. The general basis of the series, as near as I can tell, is Satan attempting to gain power and the other earthly incarnations (meaning those other than God) attempting to prevent Satan's rise to power. Pretty straight forward.
The plots of the first two books have been interesting, although I found many drawbacks. Most notably, as I said before, the writing is just so-so. Anthony is very redundant. Dialogue is mediocre. For example, characters tend to say exactly what they're going to do and what they think. To give you an idea of what I mean, a moment in the book might go something like this:
Zane saw the girl falling from the roof. "Oh gosh! She's falling! I should save her. Don't panic. What can I do? Maybe I should catch her. Yeah. I'll catch her. I should move under her." Zane moved forward to catch the girl. "Look, I caught you!"
Obviously, that's an exaggeration, but not by much. Needless to say, after 300 pages, it gets a bit old.
Many parts of the book are contradictory, too. Others just don't make sense. For example, people moving backwards in time don't usually say, "emit ni drawkcab gnivom m'I." They say, "time in backward moving I'm." Although, sometimes they do the latter. It's not consistent. Also, some people moving backward in time are aware of said movement, but can't do anything about it (that's acceptable) but other people can. In general, I just find things like that frustrating.
Finally, both On a Pale Horse and Bearing an Hourglass had deus ex machina endings. Super lame.
Basically, my opinion is the same as before: if you're ever stuck in an airport and your flight is delayed for eight hours and one of these books is available, go ahead and check it out. They're not awful. They're just not that great. ...more
This is book #3 in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series. If you've read my reviews of books 1 and 2, you know I'm not particularly impreThis is book #3 in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series. If you've read my reviews of books 1 and 2, you know I'm not particularly impressed by them. The only reason I even attempted this book was that my completely mindless job allowed me to listen to audiobooks on my ipod while I worked and I had run out of other books. I still only managed to struggle through the first few chapters. By this point in the series, it's screamingly obvious that Anthony couldn't come up with an original plot to save his life. Every book follows the EXACT same formula even down to relatively minor details. He also uses the word "balk" upwards of 100 times per book. My recommendation: if you read this series at all, read On a Pale Horse and leave it at that....more
Yay! Cat book! For me, this is all the information I need to go out and buy a book. For the rest of you, it's a true story about a cat, Dewey, who livYay! Cat book! For me, this is all the information I need to go out and buy a book. For the rest of you, it's a true story about a cat, Dewey, who lived in a library in Iowa for many, many years. The author of the book is the librarian and Dewey's main caretaker. The book also covers the author's life as it parallels Dewey's. I read the whole book in one sitting. I loved it....more
Somehow I managed to go without reading Frankenstein in its entirety until college - although I was supposed to read it in high school like so many otSomehow I managed to go without reading Frankenstein in its entirety until college - although I was supposed to read it in high school like so many other books I never read. I finally did plow through it for my Monsters class last year. I actually ended up loving it, even though I seem to have an aversion to "classics." I doubt I need to go into the plot in any detail. Man creates monster from dead people; monster lives; man freaks out and monster escapes into the wilderness; monster kills people; man tracks monster to the north pole. You get the idea. Anyway, it's good....more
Fifth Child was just agonizing to read. It's a very short book - about 150 pages. It tells the story of a young, shy couple that get swept up in a whiFifth Child was just agonizing to read. It's a very short book - about 150 pages. It tells the story of a young, shy couple that get swept up in a whirlwind romance and set out to have the "perfect life." They have a perfect house and perfect jobs and four perfect children. Then, as the title suggests, they have a fifth child who essentially turns out to be a monster. The question raised by the book is this: is the fifth child actually normal but offset by the freakishly perfect nature of his family members or is he really a monster?
On a literary level, I'd say the book is "over-written." It seems as though the author was trying to make it as artistic and wordy as possible. Clearly, some people enjoy this - the book won several awards - but I do not. Every once in a while, an author manages to go over the top and make it work; The Hyperion Cantos is a great example of this. Fifth Child...not so much. The dialogue was unrealistic, as was the story. When I finished the book, I was left dissatisfied.
I can't really elaborate much more without giving away major plots points. Suffice it to say that I don't think it's worth reading. It is lacking in all my favorite aspects of a good book: humor, insight, overcoming obstacles, and sex. In general, it is a worst-case-scenario type of story in which all characters work solely toward their own destruction and in the end accomplish that goal. It's like watching a train wreck....more
How I've managed to go twenty three years without reading this book is beyond me. It is certainly one of the most well-known science fiction novels ofHow I've managed to go twenty three years without reading this book is beyond me. It is certainly one of the most well-known science fiction novels of all time. It definitely lived up to the hype. Douglas Adams is clever and hilarious as always. The book follows Arthur Dent through his crash course in traveling the galaxy following the untimely destruction of Earth. I would go into more detail but everything I can think of to say seems like it would take away from how amazing this book is. Just read it. Even if you don't like science fiction, read it. If you don't laugh you should probably see a doctor and find out what's wrong with you....more