This was a silly, fluffy, historical fiction romance novel that I mostly read for the alphabet challenge (author last name beginning with "Q", book tiThis was a silly, fluffy, historical fiction romance novel that I mostly read for the alphabet challenge (author last name beginning with "Q", book title beginning with "J", difficult to resist!). There was a lot of "Oh, Marcus!" and people saying "Honoria...." like they were really annoyed. There was also a lot of time in which the "hero" was incapacitated and ill, in which the romance couldn't really progress (though that's when the "heroine" spent the most time admiring his various body parts). The historical sensibilities were amusing. Nothing special, but cute....more
Well, I can definitely understand the bad reviews and why so many people gave up on this book without reading much of it. The style was initially really offputting. While I often like stories that have multiple perspectives, those stories normally switch perspectives at the chapter level, which are at least a few pages long. This book instead switches perspectives all over the place. The longest sections are a page or two, more often it switches after a paragraph or a few sentences. It was kind of disorienting at first, and difficult to form a connection with any of the characters in such short spurts.
But as I kept reading, I got to know the characters better. I ended up liking Dominic and Richard and Daisy, and even Melissa though I would have hated her if I were one of her peers. And Benjy! He was great. I never did warm up to Alex or Angela though. Or ... Melissa's mom, I can't even remember her name. I of course liked the parts with running. I wish more had been resolved between the family members, and that there was a conclusion to Angela's behavior. (view spoiler)[I mean, does she have the beginnings of Alzheimer's or not?! But I guess that can't be resolved in a week. I think they should have at least scheduled an appointment to get her checked out though! (hide spoiler)]
Anyway, the book wasn't great. But it did grow on me. If you can get past the weird style, you might actually find you like it by the end.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
"The American Black Chamber" is a really interesting book about the organization that preceded today's National Security Agency (NSA) in the United St"The American Black Chamber" is a really interesting book about the organization that preceded today's National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States. The author, Herbert O. Yardley, founded the nation's first cryptologic bureau, when he discovered that enciphered messages could usually be decrypted using logic and mathematics techniques.
The book gives a really interesting history, as well as showing some of the cryptographic messages and simplified explanations of how they can be solved. There are even some messages left as an exercise for the reader to solve.
Ever since I was a small child, I was fascinated by "secret codes". I had memorized the rot-13 alphabet as well as the pigpen cipher and often wrote in my diary using these encryption schemes to try and thwart my brother. I had books and books of how to make various secret codes and tried all of them. I made my own code books, where one English word stood for other words such that a sentence meant something very different from what it said. But in none of these books did I ever learn how to DECRYPT these messages without the key. I did, however, love the "cryptograms" in puzzle books -- but of course those are just simple substitution ciphers. If you were like me in those respects, you will really enjoy this book!
Yardley tells a good story. He knows how to make it interesting. Though I will also say that his attitude is really obnoxious -- it's obvious he thinks he is the best thing since sliced bread and that he looks down on just about everyone else. Other sources say that many of the stories in this book are exaggerated to make a better story, and should not be taken at face value as the absolute truth of what happened, and based on the story telling this doesn't surprise me either. But it was still a fun and very interesting read.
Though I must say, my favorite part is the footnote that says: "Soviet agents, please note. Yes, I once had copies of these documents, but I don't care to have my throat cut and do not plan to publish them. In fact they have been destroyed. So be reasonable."
SERIOUSLY!?! That just gives you a sense of how amazing he believes himself to be. And it shows a lot in the book. But still entertaining and interesting....more
This book was really strange. I've been trying to figure out what I am going to write about it for a few weeks, but I guess it's time to give up and jThis book was really strange. I've been trying to figure out what I am going to write about it for a few weeks, but I guess it's time to give up and just write something.
First of all, it took me a long time to get interested in it. The first chapter is pretty boring, if you ask me, and the writing was too ... descriptive? Usually I like descriptions but this was kind of ostentatious somehow. And also disjointed. I didn't care about the girl, or the grandfather, and didn't understand why she was telling me some things.
And then the second chapter came, with the beginning of the story about the deathless man. And I was sucked in. That story was really interesting, and I wanted to know more. But the story ends in mid telling.
Normally, I like stories that jump back and forth between the past and the present. Normally, I like stories that are told from multiple people's points of view. But this one just got confusing. It doesn't just jump back and forth between past and present, but there are TWO pasts -- one when the grandfather is a small boy, and one where he is a young man who has become a doctor. And then, of course, the present, where the grandfather is old and dead. But all of these are narrated by the granddaughter, who refers to him as "grandfather" whether he is 8 or 80. It is confusing to have to remember that "grandfather" is an 8 year old boy on this page. And of course, when grandfather tells a story about the deathless man, it is sort of narrated -by- him, -through- the granddaughter...
Finally, I think a third of this book could have been left out. And it makes me sad to say this, because the part to leave out is the part about the Tiger's Wife... which is the title of the book.
The only important thing that comes out of that section (when grandfather is 8) is how he obtained his book, and why it had sentimental value. But a third of a book is a loooot of words to spend on saying that the book had sentimental value. And a much less elaborate reason for this could have been made.
Them going to the zoo didn't add anything to the story. The story of how the wife came to be in the town did not add to the story. Nor did the fact that she was deaf. Nor did "The Bear". Or pretty much anything else in that part of the story except that a) he got the book that meant something to him and b) he made a decision to become a doctor. But I am not sure those parts really needed to be explained for the story as a whole -- or at least not in such an elaborate fashion.
Now, the story of the deathless man, that was cool. And the people in the town and their beliefs, which led her to try to find the deathless man, the whys behind her grandfather's trip and his death, it all ties together. And the ending was really good. And every so often there was a really good sentence.
But ... something was missing. Or there was too much of something. It wasn't quite right....more
The second book in a series always has a lot to live up to. And while I'm sure I'm in the minority here, I don't think this book managed it. It was stThe second book in a series always has a lot to live up to. And while I'm sure I'm in the minority here, I don't think this book managed it. It was still good, don't get me wrong but it just didn't have the same pull for me as the first book did, so it took me what felt like forever to get through it.
Additionally, there were new characters as narrators (which wasn't actually a bad thing, necessarily) and they didn't rotate in a pattern (some characters got more "airtime" than others... again not necessarily a bad thing if they were just more active) plus I was reading slowly... so sometimes when I got to a chapter I realized "wow, it's been FOREVER since I read about this person" and I couldn't remember what had happened to them before. So I spent a fair amount of time going back to find the last chapter for that person and skimming it to try to remember what was going on. Pretty annoying. But maybe less of a problem had I been reading at a better rate.
There were also a lot more battles in this book. Battle scenes that went on for entire chapters, and I just ... meh. I end up having to read and re-read a paragraph just because battle scenes don't interest me as much so I tune them out. I figure you could write an entire battle scene in a single paragraph (X and Y clans battled, person Z was injured, A and B died, C was captured by D and taken back to camp) and I would be just as happy.
But there were some great moments. Love loved all the scenes with Arya, same as last time. And am really starting to love Jon as well. Hated Theon here, but his chapters really added to the story, I think, especially the whole deal with Bran and Rickon. Smart (though jerk-ish) move on his part, and I think it will really affect the actions of the other Starks.
When this book was selected for the "seasonal read" for my online book club, I was uninterested. I didn't expect to read it, and I didn't expect to liWhen this book was selected for the "seasonal read" for my online book club, I was uninterested. I didn't expect to read it, and I didn't expect to like it if I did read it. After all, while I've had my flirtations with religion in the past, I am not a particularly religious person.
And this book is based on a Bible story.
But when one of my fellow group members finished the book, she offered to lend it to me (thanks, Becky!), and I'm so glad I accepted.
I will say that I am very impressed with the author's ability to take a few, not-very-descriptive pages from the Bible and turn it into a wonderful novel with details and characters we care about. When reading a line in the Bible that talks about how this group of people traveled for X days to this new city, it seems to happen so quickly and we forget that there were people involved. Children whining "are we there yet?" and throwing balls to each other or falling and scraping their knees. Servants carrying all the gear behind them. Men trying to find food while continuing to make progress. Children coming of age and falling in love with another member of the caravan. The excitement and fear the people must have felt leaving the only home they had ever known and seeing different plants, cities, landscapes for the first time. We forget that the sons (and daughter!) of Jacob were children at one time, played together, dressed up as kings and queens or played at swords, picked on the youngest, tricked each other -- just like children do today.
While the book is based on a Bible story, it is not religious in the sense of the word that we think of a "religious" story. This is very much an Old Testament story (Genesis), and God doesn't play much of a part. He's just sort of coming into His own at this point. "Jacob's God" or "Isaac's God" is mentioned a few times (as someone the others are mostly skeptical and/or afraid of), the circumcision ritual plays a big part in the story -- but that's about the extent of it. Most of the characters still worship their old gods and use teraphim (idols) in rituals.
Mostly, this book is a celebration of women, becoming a woman, being a woman. Yes, the Bible story is used for the plot, but what I took away from this novel was so much more than just a re-telling of a very old tale. Dinah's experiences with her mothers, learning about the red tent and the ways of women, being initiated into the womanly life, seeing how her cousin was treated for not becoming a woman "correctly", seeing how helpless she was in the hands of men...
It really makes you think about how different things are for women today. I'd be interested in the thoughts of any men who read this book!...more