Complex it isn't, and certainly not all that well-written, but I found myself enjoying it nonetheless. I'm not really sure why. The characters weren'tComplex it isn't, and certainly not all that well-written, but I found myself enjoying it nonetheless. I'm not really sure why. The characters weren't engaging, and the story itself was kind of bare bones. I guess I'm a sucker for farting monkeys who compulsively give people the finger.
While I know Harry Potter wasn't original in the way it depicted life at an English boarding school, this book just seemed to borrow too heavily fromWhile I know Harry Potter wasn't original in the way it depicted life at an English boarding school, this book just seemed to borrow too heavily from it.....even though it turned into some twisted Narnia adventure more than anything at the end. That being said it wasn't half bad and I'll be picking up the second one, especially since it's on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble....more
I am guessing by the random "fucks" peppered throughout this book that it probably wasn't intended for the high school audience it's predecessors was.I am guessing by the random "fucks" peppered throughout this book that it probably wasn't intended for the high school audience it's predecessors was. However, one need not possess an adult level of intelligence in order to appreciate this book. It's really poorly written, horribly so. That's not to say the old SVH books were Shakespeare, but as I'm guessing this book was intended mainly for the fans of the prior book, it would have been nice if the narrative style could have grown with the audience. If these girls are adults having adult problems (which it seems they are) it would be nice if they could be addressed in an adult way.
Long story short, I never felt as if I was reading an adult book. It felt more like a story written by a teenager about what she thinks grown-ups do. The best part of the book was the little coda at the end that wraps up the stories of the main cast of SVH characters. As that's only about 3 pages long, it doesn't really say much. If nothing else, this book brought me back a little bit of my childhood. Unfortunately it was a glaring reminder of why it's sometimes good to move on from certain vestiges of your youth.
A mindless little confection, not unlike a lot of the goodies the main character Katie bakes. I have to admit that a baking junkie and a fan of all thA mindless little confection, not unlike a lot of the goodies the main character Katie bakes. I have to admit that a baking junkie and a fan of all things witchy, I was intrigued by the premise. I'd have to say the plot itself was decidedly thin, but I guess that's to be expected from books such as these. Honestly, I think it would have done better to just leave out all the murder/mystery junk (since the murder wasn't all that interesting, and the clues and mystery really weren't anything shocking) and just focused on Katie's journey to finding herself as a witch and establishing relationships with those around her.
I'm not sure the author has the best grip how people talk, as I don't know how so many modern young people keep saying "Darn." A lot of the dialogue is stilted, forced and trite, but despite all of that I spent a couple of fun evenings reading it. The recipes in the back are a nice added touch. I might well continue reading the subsequent volumes in the series, since we all need a break from thinking every now and then, right?...more
It's weird to say that I really enjoyed a book with such heavy subject matter, but I did.
To be brief, I found "In The Garden of Beasts" much more exciIt's weird to say that I really enjoyed a book with such heavy subject matter, but I did.
To be brief, I found "In The Garden of Beasts" much more exciting than Larson's "Devil in the White City", which for me is odd since I'm pretty much obsessed with Dateline and 48 Hours. Perhaps it's because my sense of this time period is much more immediate, even though I didn't leave through it and have never experienced discrimination and fear on this level. In any case, the book is populated with a very colorful cast of characters, real people yes, but the way they're presented (especially Martha, whom I did not like) is colorful enough to the point that some of them are cartoons. It's almost hard to believe these were actually real people...this goes for Hitler as well, as it's still hard to believe not only that a man like that lived, but that he could be allowed to exist.
That, in fact, is one of the bigger focuses of the book - how did we let him get so far? Ambassador Dodd is not an entirely admirable and sympathetic character. For me his appeal was rather cyclical; at first he was intriguing, then his initial blind eye and naivete to all going around him is frustrating. When he finally wakes up (and sadly he is one of the only ones to wake up, and it's rather amazing the sheer level of insanity that it takes to finally make him realize the gravity of the situation) you can be on his side again, and interestingly a rather peripheral incident that occurs at the end of the narrative finally made me wonder, at least, what kind of man he truly was. The fact that he was railing against Nazism and anti-Semitism while at the same time exist as part of a larger American culture that still looked at blacks as second class citizens (and indeed this peripheral incident I referred to before will definitely make this more concrete) makes it difficult to view Dodd as entirely good man. Some of his actions were admirable, but I'm not sure about him as a whole.
Overall it was a very enjoyable book, providing a different and unique perspective on a not-so-enjoyable subject....more
Zombies are hot now, and I think it would be safe to label this book (along with the author's tongue-in-cheek Zombie Survival Guide) as the grand dameZombies are hot now, and I think it would be safe to label this book (along with the author's tongue-in-cheek Zombie Survival Guide) as the grand dame of zombie lit. It's for that reason, as much as any, that I decided to read this book. If you're into zombies, you watch "The Walking Dead", you know who George Romero is and you're probably read this book...or at least tried.
This book is a conundrum, as I found it totally engrossing in some parts and barely readable in others. It's an account of the zombie apocalypse, basically laid out as a sort of dossier of information in the form of Q&A's with all sorts of people - government, military and civilian alike. It's ambitious and unique, and Brooks completely commits to the premise, to the point that some of the chapters are about as interesting as actual goverment discourse would be. There were times when I got that I was so bored with the dryness of the discourse (as in the "characters" were discussing beauracratic matters or some such nonsense) that I felt as if the only people that would find it interesting were either the authors of technical manuals or US Senators. That being said, there is action, fast-paced narrative and the requisite gore.
This book is much like the TV series "The Walking Dead" - the action is stellar when it's actually there, but the talkie parts (and I'm perhaps dumbing things down a bit here) can be boring as hell. You'd figure the zombie apocalypse would be anything BUT boring, but this book definitely has its valleys.
It's for all of those reasons that I'm not quite sure the book deserves the hype it has received. Then again, I guess that depends on the author's intent in writing it. The reallness of the narrative is startlingly good, but I guess with that comes the dryness of hearing anyone talk about the particulars of scuba equipment or the creation of government plans - great for verisimilitude, not so great for the entertainment of the Average Joe....more
If there was a shelf for "I wish I hadn't tried to read it" this book would be on there. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even finish reading it, andIf there was a shelf for "I wish I hadn't tried to read it" this book would be on there. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even finish reading it, and as an avid reader and general lit-phile it pains me to admit that. I normally pride myself on seeing things through to the end, and more often than not it winds up paying off, but if even I couldn't finish this it should be some indication of just how bad the book is.
And it's bad. Just bad. It is repetitive, uninteresting and just not smart. Saying it's not a smart book is rather ironic being that the "action" takes place at Oxford and our protagonist is supposedly some sort of super-genius, but this book just doesn't challenge you mentally. Not that I'm a book snob, because I'm all for a totally engrossing bathroom read, but reading this book was work, and not the good kind.
I don't even remember the main character's name, but what I do know about her is that she loves yoga and drinking tea. She is supposedly very independent, but seems to need saving at every turn, and winds up being tucked into bed pretty much every night by the stupid vampire guy who loves her (his reasons for loving her I was never totally clear on, because I don't think the author figured it out herself). And oh yeah, for someone who wears ratty sweaters and "slacks" (yeah, the author says "slacks") almost exclusively she is able to hook the attention of some millenias-old vampire god who apparently made the acquaintance of pretty much every famous person in history. If it was that easy I'd never bother getting out of my pajamas in the morning.
In any case, I would say that the greatest fault of this book is simply that nothing happens. There's tons of talking, a lot of (unexplained) love being professed, but in the 200 pages I read not one interesting thing actually happened. That's unfortunate because the premise of this book is about as interesting as it gets, but to say it doesn't come even remotely close to delivering on that would be the understatement of the century.
Do yourself a favor - if you are interested in paranormal action/romance, pick up the Rachel Morgan books by Kim Harrison. They're not Shakespeare, but they do not lack for entertainment, action or romance. Harrison is a perfect example of an author who had a firm grip on her characters and mythos from the jump (and she's several books into that series by now), whereas Deborah Harkness seems to have stumbled on to a pretty good idea at the right time (vamps and witches are popular now, after all) but is absolutely clueless when it comes to making her own. She brings nothing new to the table. NOTHING.
This book is a blight on my nook. If it wasn't for my actually having paid $13 for the ebook version (!) I'd have deleted it long ago. As it is, maybe one day I'll decide to fully embrace my masochism and attempt to read it again. You never know....more
The concept of this book is certainly one I haven't encountered before. Looking at the vintage photos makes it worth your while right off the bat, butThe concept of this book is certainly one I haven't encountered before. Looking at the vintage photos makes it worth your while right off the bat, but the real selling point is seeing how the author weaves them into the story. For the most part, he does it flawlessly but there are a few that felt shoe-horned in. It's surprising that with such a fantastic story, there are as few eye-roll inducing moments as there are. I'd say he's a pretty adept writer, and he has a great grasp on the ease of human conversation, so that his protagonists inner/outer dialogue never feels forced or cliched. I rather liked Jacob myself, he's a weird kid and I can identify with that. In short, it's a good story, sometimes creepy, sometimes thought-provoking and almost always engaging and entertaining. It's well worth your time and money....more