I honestly don't feel like writing much, so I'm really glad this book was up next on my review-queue. In short, it's a satire on romance/gothic novels...moreI honestly don't feel like writing much, so I'm really glad this book was up next on my review-queue. In short, it's a satire on romance/gothic novels. Literally about nothing, which is what makes it hilarious in its own way. One learns about the bitches of the early 1800s (think Mean Girls with bad teeth and more adult supervision) and the idiotic men who are exactly like the jerks an average girl like me sees on a daily basis; the only difference being the incredibly slow and formal method of communication during Austen's period. Oh yeah, if you have a low IQ like the main character, don't read "novels," especially the gothic ones. Apparently they give you a gross misrepresentation old, beaten down abbeys-turned-living-quarters. Oh, and money. Make sure you always have lots of money so you can marry the man of your dreams. Yep. Way to be sassy, Jane. I didn't actually appreciate the humor in this until much later, and I'm glad she was as annoyed by those stereotypical romances as much as everyone else with half a brain. Honestly, the entire book can be summed up like this: Dammit Catherine. I wish I were kidding. Enjoy.(less)
Hm, what can I say about Gothic literature? It's very...roundabout, I guess. Though this was one of the shorter reads in my Brit Lit I class, I feel l...moreHm, what can I say about Gothic literature? It's very...roundabout, I guess. Though this was one of the shorter reads in my Brit Lit I class, I feel like it was one of the tougher stories to get through. I think a lot of it had to do with the utter ridiculousness of it all. I mean, Manfred's son gets killed not by an enemy or an illness, but by a giant helmet. Right. Of course, after reading the rest of the novel, I noticed his son's death was definitely mild on the "WTF" scale.
Take Manfred for example. The guy's already a total douchebag, right? Right. So after Conrad dies, he decides to keep the would-be bride, Isabella, all to his creepy self. If Chris Hansen were around, I bet he would have a few choice words for this situation. But I digress. Then a bunch of random crap happens that involves Manfred screaming at random servants/ peasants, his wife, and most of all his weenie daughter Matilda. Isabella meanwhile is running all around the castle like she owns the place. Her frantic sprinting lands her in the perfect position to meet Theodore, another lame character with morals so virtuous, they easily outshine all of today's most holy of Christians'. I don't even know -- he opens this door for her and she disappears down this hole to a nearby abbey or something. Everything in this book literally takes about two pages at minimum to get the point across, so it's difficult at times to make sense of this plot.
While all this is going on I guess there's like ghosts or something haunting the castle because Manfred's ancestors wrongfully took the property during some war. Paranormal Activity-worthy stuff goes down, like paintings coming to life and statues ascending to heaven and whatever. Creepy. Then all the sudden all this killing happens and everything is somehow resolved. I'd go into detail, but I'd honestly not want to talk about this book more than I have to, plus spoilers. So all in all, I suppose this isn't the worst thing in the world, but dammit, it's not the best either. Read with caution, and don't say I didn't warn you.(less)
Oh man, it's been so long! It feels good to write these again after a whole semester of 23 papers and 19 credits. Sweet Jesus. Never going through tha...moreOh man, it's been so long! It feels good to write these again after a whole semester of 23 papers and 19 credits. Sweet Jesus. Never going through that again until my junior year. ANYWHO. On to the book.
So this is my second read-through of good ol' Bill Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, and I must say I'm glad I gave it a second chance. The first time I read it was when I was like a sophomore in highschool or something, and the entire time was like "dafuq did I just read?" Now, reading it as a sophomore in college (my, how the time flies!) in a legitimate English class that's taught by someone who actually cares a little too much, I got an entirely fresh view on this all-time classic. Granted, I'm still like "dafuq did I just read?", but this time it's because I actually understood the context of the story and picked up on all those little subtle hints Faulkner threw in about the characters I missed the first time.
I think what blew my mind the most was not so much the characters or the story, but the title. Now, assuming my professor was correct, the only way the title could be grammatically correct is if the narrator (Addie, because she's the only person who dies) is somehow telling this story from beyond the grave. Crazy phrases like this are only seen in the old epics and whatever, so it's pretty interesting that Faulkner would use this technique for his title.
As for the characters, I can honestly say I disliked each and every one of them. They all had some sort of quality that I just despise in a person. Addie was a proto-emo obsessed with hating children and the meaningless of words. Darl was just cray-cray. Cash was a stick in the mud (OR SHOULD I SAY IN THE CEMENT. HAHAHAHAHA. Actually, he'd probably be my favorite, if I absolutely HAD to choose). Jewel was a dick. Dewey Dell was a dumb ho (I finally understood her "situation" and how stupid she was for dealing with it the way she did). Vardaman was just that obnoxious little kid. Cora Tull was that psycho religious woman with the "holier-than-thou" attitude that no one likes. All the others are just too insignificant for me to judge. Oh, and don't even get me started on Anse. He is probably the most disgusting character I have ever read about in my entire life, physically and personality-wise. Every time he was in a scene I wanted to throw the book across the room. That man seriously embodies everything I hate in a person. Ugh.
Despite all of the poop characters, the story itself wasn't completely awful. Once you understand they're a bunch of hicks taking a corpse cross-country in a wagon. In the south. In the heat. Not too bright. But ok. I really enjoyed how each of the Bundren sections seemed not exactly normal, but understandable from their own point of view, but once the perspective switched to, say, Peabody or Cora, the reader was given the true picture of how insane that family is. It's like looking at an early version of the Sopranos or something, except not as badass and Italian. I guess I could ramble on about all the symbolism and the historical context like a good English major, but I really don't wanna. After 23 papers, I'm all English-ed out, man. I need a break on that stuff. In short, it was a decent book. There.(less)
This was my first Palahniuk experience, and I must say I was kind of disappointed. At first, I thought it was just one of those slow books that takes...moreThis was my first Palahniuk experience, and I must say I was kind of disappointed. At first, I thought it was just one of those slow books that takes a while to understand. After 200 pages, I realized that was not the case at all. It just sucked. I guess I didn't know what I was expecting after learning it's about some ancient African poem that can kill people. SEEMS LEGIT.
Admittedly, I have to say the story itself wasn't too bad. I mean, I've read some pretty god-awful books in my day, and compared to those the plot was intriguing. I think the style was what killed me. I feel like he would make comparisons to objects that didn't really make any sense or caused confusion as to whether the phrase should be taken seriously or not.
For instance, the whole scene with Carl and that one secretary girl in the hotel room. Either Chuck was making some shitty references to modern day objects, or this guy actually had ancient artifacts lodged into his foot. I just need someone to explain that whole thing to me, 'cause right now the only conclusion I can come to is an especially bad acid trip.
I really don't feel like dwelling on this one too long, so I'll keep this last chunk brief. This whole book was just a little too weird for me. I did, however, enjoy the characters well enough. Helen was pretty sassy, and probably reflects what I would have done were I in her position. I mean, killing corrupt foreign politicians for money and jewels? Hell yeah. Other than that, I don't know. I'm really hoping his other books aren't this...lame. (less)
I don't know, man. I can't tell if I'm really not that into fantasy novels, or this just sucked. A bunch of my friends were like "yeah, you definitely...moreI don't know, man. I can't tell if I'm really not that into fantasy novels, or this just sucked. A bunch of my friends were like "yeah, you definitely have to read this. It's so great!" 496 pages later, I have to respectfully disagree.
So this Paoloini guy was around 16 when he wrote this. I must say this is an incredibly intelligent debut for someone so young. The last book I read that was written by a teenager was probably S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, which if you haven't read yet, don't. However, the whole time I was reading, I kept getting the impression that this was more of a fantasy for himself. Think about it -- Eragon is coincidentally the same age, going through the same hormone thing, wants to prove himself, fall in love with a beautiful elfwoman, etc etc. Very cute.
Speaking of Eragon, I think he seriously needs to see a neurologist or get a CT scan. I mean, he lost consciousness almost every other chapter and seemed to get hit in the head all the time. That's probably not healthy for the brain. All semi-kidding aside, I really didn't like his character as a whole anyway (not as much as I disliked Brom, the sketchy old man with the gnarly beard and the bad attitude). I don't know, I'm sure he's a nice guy, but as Murtagh shouted when that whole team drama went down, he really is helpless. I'll give him an "A" for effort, but he rarely did things for himself. He had other people/creatures bail him out constantly and then when he woke up x number of days later they're like "oh my gosh Eragon you were so brave and powerful! You sure showed them! By the way you've been asleep for thirty days." Y'know, maybe I'm just a little rusty on my literature, but in my experience the hero usually does the main deed themselves. Just sayin'.
The plot itself was alright. Pretty typical for the fantasy genre, but when there's dragons and dwarfs in the mix there's only so much that can be done, right? The descriptions of all the places in Alagaesia was cool, but those names! What the hell? I felt like I was suddenly reading the names of obscure Welsh villages or something. Looks like ol' Chris got a little too into it when he slammed his hand down on the keyboard and added some vowels. Don't even get me started on the "ancient" languages or whatever. It got to the point where I would just skip or the phrases and hope everything will still make sense in the next paragraph.
Yeah, fine, this book was aimed towards that are like five to ten years younger than I am, but I don't understand all the hype it received. The story was ok at best and followed a lot of cliches, and I'm pretty sure I can already predict the end of the series. I will of course finish the series, 'cause that's what I do, and I'm hoping that this is one of those that gets better with each new book. I still have to give Paolini a ton of credit where it's due. How many teenagers can actually find the time and/or the will to write a novel almost 500 pages long? That takes a massive amount of dedication. Hell, I can barely write these reviews regularly; I can't imagine writing an entire series. I could give this more than one star, but this just wasn't my taste. I tried to get into it, and after 300 pages I kind of gave up and plowed through to get it over with. Hey, you can't win them all, right?
My my, what an interesting read. Who knew that the main thing almost every modern Christian believes is not really what Jesus was all about? It's funn...moreMy my, what an interesting read. Who knew that the main thing almost every modern Christian believes is not really what Jesus was all about? It's funny, because I just had this debate with one of my super-religious friends about the whole "faith vs. merit" thing, and he actually had me believe that good deeds don't count. Ugh, if only I had read this earlier!
The more I look into my own Bible, the more it makes so much sense. It clearly states in more than one place that Jesus only wanted his followers to help other people -- the Golden Rule. Honestly, I think the theory of "you'll get into heaven if you just believe" was created just to give people an excuse to NOT help their fellow man. That was too much work, and the greedy fucks wanted to keep all their money and whatnot for themselves. Of course, I also haven't given up my whole life for the poor, but I guess that's why I'm not religious. I know that I'm greedy. It's the ones who claim to be true Christians and don't help other people that need this book as a reality check.
Speaking of which, I bet most Christians are absolutely livid over these findings. The fact Nero was actually the Beast described in Revelations completely shatters everything they've ever been taught. All the mis-translations over many centuries just proves the idea of the Beast is used to instill fear into the, how do you say, less intelligent followers to keep the cash flowing and the right people in power.
All in all, this was a mind-blowing read, albeit short. I would highly recommend keeping a Bible handy to make notes with, 'cause unless the verse is right in front of you, it's kind of hard to accept. Hell, there's even a cheesy storyline involving a love triangle and an old woman who enjoys writing obnoxiously long journal entries. Don't let that fool you, though. Be prepared for the pleasant shock.(less)
Why is Stephen King so perfect? Ugh. His stories are mainly commercial, but they have this literary quality to them that makes you think about the qui...moreWhy is Stephen King so perfect? Ugh. His stories are mainly commercial, but they have this literary quality to them that makes you think about the quirks of life, especially in this collection of short stories/ novellas. Each story portrayed the consequences of greed, dark secrets, and just how far an ordinary person can be pushed.
The first story, "1922," contained all of those elements. This one is probably the runner-up for my favorite story, mostly because of how it was both realistic and bizarre. I mean, you think the guy is just going insane after he kills his wife because he keeps seeing her and those rats everywhere, but then that ending, man. "Suicide?" I don't think so. It's painful enough to bite the inside of my cheek or my tongue, so I really can't imagine someone biting themselves to death unless they're that bath-salts-zombie-man. Other than that, I loved how graphic he made the story in general. You could see that nasty farm house, the well, the Old Car Club-worthy cars. It was great. I literally gagged when King was describing Wilf stepping on the rat. Oh god. That still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. All in all it's a nice opener. Y'know, it's typical King and whatnot, so it gets the reader familiar and excited for the other stories to come.
I thought "Big Driver" was kind of meh. Sure, Tess was a badass and everything, but the whole "talking to her GPS even though it's actually herself" thing kind of makes you question her sanity, even at the beginning. I still give her the benefit of the doubt, though. The guy who raped her is pretty much the kind of man every woman fears, so the feminist in me gives her props for saying "fuck the police" and going after the son-of-a-bitch herself. The feminist in me also questions the stupid-ass mother of Lester. Why would any woman want to subject another to the worst atrocity besides murder just so her fucked up sons can have a good time? That's just sick. I was so glad when she died.
"Fair Extension" was pretty decent. Simple, but still creepy. It's amazing what lengths a person will go through because of jealousy and greed. Not gonna lie, I would probably have done the same thing Streeter did if I were in his position. The Devil makes many tempting offers, and it's only human to want what's best for number one, despite what Jesus says.
"A Good Marriage" is the kind of story that makes a great anecdote for people in relationships. Everyone knows those people who are all "omg we're so in love and we tell each other everything!! We both know everything about each other!" No. You don't. Darcy thought the same thing about Bob, until she tripped over a box in the garage and found his S&M mags, which led her to discover damning evidence about some murdered girl. Keep in mind this was after they had been married for 30+ years. Happily married, for that matter. What an awkward thing to find out. Good thing she randomly pushed him down the stairs and suffocated him with a garbage bag. Well, at least he can't murder any more women.
Of all the stories in this book, I would probably say "Under the Weather" was my favorite. Short, to the point, and probably the most gruesome of them all. At first it's all "Awwww, he's caring for his sick wife, how cute and considerate." Then it talks about a trip they had in the past, when he told her he would keep her alive if she died, and then it starts getting suspicious. Then the doorman at his apartment talks about a smell coming from his apartment, like a dead animal rotting and you're like "No. It can't be. He wouldn't." Oh, he would. He did. Let's just say I found the scene with the dog in their bedroom quite disturbing, to say the least.
Suffice to say this is probably my favorite collection of King's stories so far (I also read Four Past Midnight, which wasn't bad, but doesn't compare to this), and I highly recommend it. Yeah.(less)
Holy Jesus. This was the most incredible graphic novel I have ever read. Moore and Gibbons gave each character a complex psychological profile uncommo...moreHoly Jesus. This was the most incredible graphic novel I have ever read. Moore and Gibbons gave each character a complex psychological profile uncommon for most superhero comics, making them not only realistic but human. I can honestly say I enjoyed reading about each character, which is a rarity for me.
Speaking of the characters, I would have to say my favorite was Nite Owl. He was just so precious and awkward, I wanted to give him a hug every time he appeared. Not only that, but he was one badass guy. That one scene with Laurie and him in the alley was one of my personal favorites. Once those glasses came off, you knew the nasty thugs were about to get beaten within an inch of their lives. Beautiful. Dan Dreiberg definitely made the story perfect.
Oh man, and the story! So much symbolism -- religion, man's place on Earth and the inevitable destruction of ourselves, loss of innocence, love, hate, it was all there, perfectly intertwined. I especially loved the whole Black Freighter side-story. That poor guy. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
To think all of it led up to that fantastic ending. I was completely blindside-ed by that one. The whole "good, but not good" aspect totally blew my mind. At first I hated Adrian like no other, then everything was explained and suddenly he's a good guy. What? That's pure genius, right there. On the grand scale of things, the sacrifice he made looks minute compared to the good it did for humankind. Good for him, man. Good for him.
I could seriously go on and rave about everything else I loved about this book. There's so much I missed -- i.e. Rorschach and his journal entries, Laurie and her relationship with Dr. Manhattan and her mother, the Comedian (another one of my favorite characters) and his horrendous past, the original Minutemen, etc etc. In short, this book is perfect. It's a great start to appreciate the graphic novel, and it truly deserves any praise it receives. The movie, of course, doesn't do it justice, but that's to be expected. It's hard to make something that can live up to the rich and intense plot. So yeah. Get out there and read this.
Goodness gracious. Why is Sherlock Holmes so perfect? Everything about these short stories was just so great. Hell, everything (with the exception of...moreGoodness gracious. Why is Sherlock Holmes so perfect? Everything about these short stories was just so great. Hell, everything (with the exception of the upcoming American version) having to do with him is wonderful. I can't believe this was considered "cheap detective fiction" back in the day. No wonder Doyle was pissed about this series being all most people would remember him for.
A lot of the stories in this particular collection I vaguely remembered from watching a version of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from the '80s I randomly checked out from the library a while ago. While I knew what the main plot-twist was for most of them, it was still pleasurable to actually read about the details that lead up to the conclusion.
I think my two favorite stories would have to be A Scandal in Bohemia and The Speckled Band. The former because Irene Adler is just such a badass. She does she wants, man. I don't even care if she's in cahoots with Moriarty; she's one of the few female characters created in that time period that defies the stereotype of the helpless damsel and/or the annoying busybody.
Oh yeah, and the latter because it's a great story. What kind of a freak would try to kill his stepdaughters with a venomous snake? Seriously, what a loser. Good thing karma came back and bit him (haha, pun) in the end.
Well, anywho, props to Sir Arthur on this lovely collection of "cheap detective fiction." I was kept thoroughly entertained, not to mention guessing. I normally don't jump around in series, but I suppose with these it doesn't matter too much. I've realized this particular book would be perfect for people who have never read anything of the Holmes adventures before, because the stories are short and are more than adequate in giving the reader an idea of the personality of each character. I personally have also found myself trying to "deduce" more of my daily life thanks to the random facts Holmes shares throughout his cases. More often than not my theories are wrong, but hey, it's a work in progress.(less)
This is probably the best sports-related book I have ever read. Well, it's the only sports-related book I've ever read, but the fact that I even picke...moreThis is probably the best sports-related book I have ever read. Well, it's the only sports-related book I've ever read, but the fact that I even picked it up in the first place should count for something, right? Either way, I have to admit I was not originally aware that it was non-fiction -- I was hoping it was more of a novelization of the movie. After reading it though, I was kind of glad it wasn't.
After the whole non-fiction shock, I was expecting it to be one of those dry, lame accounts about some random horse who happened to defy the odds. Turns out it was written by someone with a genuine love for the sport of horse-racing and made that clear numerous times throughout. The characters were more than descriptions of their successes and failures. They were real. Hillenbrand managed to give these people (and animals) a face and a personality, which to me is unusual for a retelling of a true story.
As for the story itself, it was incredible. The loser who sold Seabiscuit missed out on as big a fortune as Pete Best did when he quit a little band called the Beatles. How trainer Tom Smith saw what that horse to do before anyone else is amazing, and I think it's pretty shitty how he virtually got none of the recognition he sure as hell deserved.
This is truly the story of the underdog. What with Seabiscuit's transformation from a skittish claimer to Horse of the Year, "Red" Pollard's rise from obscure jockey to Hundred Grand-er recipient, and Charles Howard's business intuition that changed him from a small-time bicycle repairman to one of the nation's top celebrities of the time, it would all be hard to imagine were the story not true. I just realized that was a really long sentence.
Suffice to say, this book has made me interested in horse-racing. I've added betting on and seeing a race to my mental bucket list, and I plan to read more into the subject eventually. I never realized the amount of athleticism that goes into both the jockey and the horse, not to mention the danger involved. I mean, one nudge is enough to send a jockey to his death. That's intense. Seriously.
I highly recommend this to anyone who has doubts about the spirit of an underdog. It won't be boring. I promise. (less)
By the time I actually started to read this, I was more than a little hesitant. I had heard several bad reviews from friends forced to read it in vari...moreBy the time I actually started to read this, I was more than a little hesitant. I had heard several bad reviews from friends forced to read it in various English classes, not to mention one of my recent creepers claimed this was one of his favorite books, which is how I have it in my possession -- the guy went out of his way and bought it for me. But that's a different story. To top it all off, I don't even enjoy science fiction that much. There's just something about the whole "omg aliens!!11!! rocket/spaceship warfare to preserve the human race!!1! superior intelligence and technology!" thing that turns me off faster than you can say "FOX News is my main source for everything!"
Anyway, I got through it. And you know what? I didn't think it was completely awful. I mean, it wasn't GREAT by any means, but I could read it without tearing my eyes out after weeping for humanity on my couch. In other words, it wasn't like the time I read The Scarlet Letter.
The idea wasn't too bad for the era it was written in. Y'know, breeding military geniuses in order to protect themselves in a world full of a surplus population and alien threats. I wasn't surprised to see that people are just as stupid and power-hungry in the "future" as they are now. Some things never change, right? The whole thing with the entire world banding together against an outside force was cute, to say the most.
And what the hell was up with Ender? Yeah, ok, he's a genius. He pretended to be a little wuss, and then out of nowhere he would beat the shit out of people. Oh. There's a fine line between defending yourself in a fight and becoming worse than the bully. You're like six. Go play hopscotch or something. In fact, he wasn't even that pleasant of a character to begin with. How cocky. "Oh, I really don't wanna go to this whole Battle School thing, but I guess I could go and save humanity if you really want me to." What a brat.
Whatever. Either way, the story was a fast read and the other characters were interesting enough to keep me going. I'll probably continue on with the series, mostly because I have a goal of reviewing at least a few series in their entirety. I'm really hoping the second one will be more upbeat and have more character development. I'm at least interested in seeing what will happen with that weird-ass cocoon thing. Maybe it'll make Ender stop being a dick. Here's to hoping.(less)
Finally, a creationist that actually made me think! Until I read this, I thought all Christians were wackos who only enjoy being the crazy-ass Bible-t...moreFinally, a creationist that actually made me think! Until I read this, I thought all Christians were wackos who only enjoy being the crazy-ass Bible-thumpers they are. Turns out they actually have souls, and have resorted to using rules of logic as a sort of "ultimate proof" for creationism.
While I can't say I agreed with Dr. Lisle's arguments (I was getting ready to have my home-girl hold my earrings after he started disputing the existence of the Oort Cloud), this was the closest I came to being hesitant about my evolutionist leanings. I had never actually thought about where morals came from before, and it was interesting to see the Bible in a different light.
I don't think I'll go into much detail with this one, because I'm likely to make a fool of myself with my young and inexperienced mind. I guess I just didn't enjoy his attitude. He seemed more than a little cocky. Like "you gotta believe whatever I say, 'cause this shit is true! Oh, and I don't have to provide justification for any of my claims, 'cause I have the Bible, man. 'Nuff said." What the hell? You criticize evolution and then spout some random verses and that's that? Come on. Not to mention the logical fallacies he himself committed while explaining them (side note: I felt so proud of myself -- I took a logic class one semester and actually knew what he was talking about. That's such a good feeling).
While this gave me a completely different perspective on the Christian intellectuals, I still can't say I agree with the idea. It's good to know that there are religious folks out there who have at least thought about the idea of a single Creator and how that would work, as opposed to just assuming there is one because that's what you grew up with. Way to shake things up!(less)