A basic werewolf story, to which King doesn't really bring anything new, even if he always has interesting characters. Once again an American small to...moreA basic werewolf story, to which King doesn't really bring anything new, even if he always has interesting characters. Once again an American small town works great in a horror novel, and when King sinks his teeth into the small town life, it's executed in such a way that I always keep coming back to get a fix of that certain atmosphere. Although the identity of the werewolf is easy to guess right at the beginning, this was still an entertaining snack. Even at his worst King is highly readable and fun.(less)
Stories bring beauty and light into Despereaux's life, and light is precious because the world is dark. The illustrations fit the mood and tie the sto...moreStories bring beauty and light into Despereaux's life, and light is precious because the world is dark. The illustrations fit the mood and tie the story with the more traditional and old-fashioned fairy tales. The scenes with rats might scare the younger children, but I respect DiCamillo's choice to bring forth a lot of heavy themes: parental abandonment, mistreatment, prejudice, forgiveness etc. Tolerance to darkness varies, but its not good for children to grow up in a bubble full of unicorns and rainbows, while adults try to protect them from all evil. Stories help children to understand life from all sides. The overall message in this one is universal: everyone deserves love and to be accepted as who they are.(less)
Body horror in the dark corners of colonial Africa. The mysterious and moody suspense leads to a final revelation that is both disgusting and slightly...moreBody horror in the dark corners of colonial Africa. The mysterious and moody suspense leads to a final revelation that is both disgusting and slightly amusing. I'm kind of hoping a campy 1980's flick exists that was inspired by this story.(less)
Having read Naked Lunch, I thought I had been sucked into an alternate universe when I saw this in the library. I don't usually grab random stuff when...moreHaving read Naked Lunch, I thought I had been sucked into an alternate universe when I saw this in the library. I don't usually grab random stuff when I'm there, but this just seemed too weird to pass. Turns out, this was pretty - blah. Not particularly moving, meditativeness wasn't that interesting, and overall pretty forgettable. Although I did enjoy Burroughs's style, which didn't make this your run-of-the-mill mushy book about cats, but kind of a dream-like journey. (less)
I could have managed without the short and superficial chapters about other crime organizations and Mafia films (I'm sure there's not much new informa...moreI could have managed without the short and superficial chapters about other crime organizations and Mafia films (I'm sure there's not much new information in the latter, if you've seen even just a few gangster films), but the part about Mafia's women was much too short (especially because in Calabria women are still murdered today if they remarry, or do something else that the organization feels breaks the patriarchal order of the society).
Gasparini succeeds in peeling the glossy surface from the Mafia, but he could have taken a firmer stance on the issue of films and other media glamorizing its position in the society. It's worrying that some (or all?) who belong to these organizations feel like they're not murdering anyone per se, but instead handing out justified punishments that in their world are alright and needed to sustain the hierarchy. I wonder if the Mafia is much too rooted to get rid of it completely. Only time will tell.
An ok introduction overall, despite some problems construction-wise and with repetitiveness. For those in need of an in-depth history I would suggest turning elsewhere. There's also a slight mistake in the film section: films about organized crime did exist before the 1930s (Underworld , The Racket  etc.), but the exploits of real life criminals gradually made them more popular, making the 1930s the Golden era of gangster films.(less)
Serves its purpose as a brief straight to the point biography, although I still prefer detailed ones, and in this case I wanted to hear more about Poe...moreServes its purpose as a brief straight to the point biography, although I still prefer detailed ones, and in this case I wanted to hear more about Poe's influence to literature (instead of the many times heard argument that he was an inspiration for sci-fi and detective stories). If you don't know much about Poe, this is a good introduction, but otherwise there's not a lot of new information. Ackroyd does handle his subject objectively, though. He juggles between the fair amount of contradictory writings concerning Poe's personality with great care, and corrects some misconceptions.(less)
You know, if you read this at a surface level, it might seem innocent and pretty normal. However, underneath there's something creepy, and I'm glad I'...moreYou know, if you read this at a surface level, it might seem innocent and pretty normal. However, underneath there's something creepy, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that. The beautifully constructed photographs evoke in turn loneliness and subjugation, and the text itself tells us how Edith is so lonely, that she lets complete strangers inside the house and take over her life. Occasionally she seems to have fun, but then she gets spanked for doing a naughty thing. There's no one else in the world but them (and a couple of rude pigeons).
Is the doll an adult or a child? She lives alone, so she must represent an adult. But then the spanking scene becomes kind of kinky and strange. If Edith is a child, then it's equally odd that she would just happen to let two bears enter into her life. What the hell? Then again, having heard a few things about Wright's life I suppose I couldn't have expected anything less. After reading the biography I'm probably going to be even more weirded out.
Apparently, the interpretation of the story depends on the reader's background and age. For me, the pink covers are deceptive. Wright's world is sad and weird, but I think I like it just the way it is. Despite the length there's a lot of room for further examination on the next round of reading.
PS. Oh great, now Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? popped into my head. I think I've had enough of dolls for a while. Then again, I also feel like throwing my own giant blank faced bear to the balcony. Jesus.
The descriptions of wilderness were beautiful. So beautiful, that as an ardent hater of winter I started to forget the depressing coldness and darknes...moreThe descriptions of wilderness were beautiful. So beautiful, that as an ardent hater of winter I started to forget the depressing coldness and darkness, and remember the magical moments. Subtle snowfalls, complex patterns of snowflakes and how they melt on your glove, crackling snow beneath your feet, clear ice on lakes etc. This is the kind of novel I probably wouldn't read, but when I heard the story was inspired by a Russian folktale, it immediately got me interested. I'd say Ivey utilized the tale well, but this still ended up as a "book between books", a novel that I don't feel like reviewing in detail. A nice little story about a childless couple in the Alaskan frontier, but that's it. Besides, the end was disappointing. It verged too much on the realistic side for me.(less)
It seems that adults can't agree on the message. I think I have to lean towards the minority here. Existing solely to be used by o...moreUm, this baffles me.
It seems that adults can't agree on the message. I think I have to lean towards the minority here. Existing solely to be used by others, and giving your love and care until you are diminished into almost nothing seems an odd, disturbing, and unhealthy idea for a children's book. It's like the tree is a mother, who just stands there and lets the boy suck up her energy. The narcissistic boy only comes to the tree when he needs something, and finally the tree almost ceases to exist after submitting itself to endless abuse, because it has forgotten that sometimes it's okay to do things for yourself. Classic martyrdom, an attitude that never fails to amaze me. In a bad way.
Or maybe this is a cautionary tale? You should not become like this boy etc. The boy is after all an idiot, who uses the tree as a commodity and a bottomless well. Unfortunately the tree allows itself to be used as a doormat, so the giving continues. However, I found no hint whatsoever anywhere (even after repeated readings) that this was meant to be a cautionary tale.
Oh well. I doubt children are going to be traumatized by this, and you can always discuss with your child while reading, but ultimately a book with a clear (not too dumbed down!) positive message that can't be misinterpreted might be a better choice. Let's celebrate relationships where both parties give something to the table. In my personal life I have seen relationships like the one of the tree and the boy, and they always end up in tears, once in a police car driving away from an abusive husband. Realizing that some actually consider this book as the ideal model of a relationship is sad and depressing. Just because you have your own hobbies and your sense of self intact, doesn't mean you don't care about others or your children. I just don't get why someone would want to become a mere shadow of themselves, and hide in corners apologizing for their existence.(less)