This book isn't exactly what I was expecting when I first picked it up. It's a collection of about a dozen or so short stories about how Sherlock Holm...moreThis book isn't exactly what I was expecting when I first picked it up. It's a collection of about a dozen or so short stories about how Sherlock Holmes can use his keen abilities of logic, observation, and reason to solve crimes and puzzles that less attentive people might never be able to figure out. These short stories were released as a serial publication in a magazine or something similar, back when they were being written, so each story is unique, complete, and largely unrelated to the others in the collection.
I like Sherlock Holmes' personality in these books, but I found that the format of the stories can start to feel a bit repetitive after reading a few of them. Some of the stories were more interesting or captivating than others, but they all follow the same basic flow. Because of this, I found myself reading this book more slowly than I usually read, because I didn't really want to read more than one story in a sitting. Reading them back to back, they can become boring pretty quickly, but taking them one at a time seemed to make them easier to enjoy.
The edition of this book that I was reading was the free Kindle edition. I somehow get the feeling that not every Sherlock Holmes story written by Doyle was included in this edition of the book. I admit though that I haven't researched to find out if this is true. Also, any time that a special character should have been used (the symbol for British pounds, or accented vowels, that sort of thing), it seemed to have formatting errors that caused the Kindle to display a few characters of gibberish instead of the proper special character. This part was annoying, but it was easy enough to figure out what was supposed to be there, and the book was free, so I didn't mind it that much.
Overall, the book was likeable and worth reading. It's interesting to note how the character of Sherlock Holmes has evolved over the years. I would recommend this book, especially for someone who would like a quick read before bedtime, while commuting, or any other situation that would benefit from bite-sized reading sessions.(less)
The Drawing of the Three is the second book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I have read all of these books before, but it's been years since I re...moreThe Drawing of the Three is the second book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I have read all of these books before, but it's been years since I read them last. I have a vague recollection of the basic story, but a lot of the details have been forgotten, so this is a lot of fun to read, even though it's a re-read.
In the first volume of this series, we meet Roland, the last gunslinger, who is on a quest to find The Dark Tower. He doesn't exactly know why he needs to go there, or what he will do when he finds it. He only knows that ka, fate, destiny will tell him what he needs to know.
The Drawing of the Three is where the real meat of the Dark Tower story begins. The Gunslinger is more of an introduction. This book is where Roland, guided by ka, finds the three black doors through which he enters our world and draws the others he needs to reach the Tower through the doors back to his world.
This book has good pacing and flow, and the Dark Tower story really finds its voice in this book. After reading The Gunslinger, you want to know more about Roland and his quest, and this book delivers. The book ends just as an episode of a good tv series might, with enough resolution to leave you feeling satisfied but knowing that there is much, much more to come. The book is over, but the story is only beginning.(less)
Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the first novel in the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, made popular by the Showtime tv series. I have seen the first two seas...moreDarkly Dreaming Dexter is the first novel in the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, made popular by the Showtime tv series. I have seen the first two seasons of the tv show, and I've always found the character of Dexter Morgan to be relatable. That sounds strange considering that Dexter kills people (and I assure you that I do not), but I can relate to his lack of emotion, his cool rationality, and the need to pretend to be a person when in the company of other humans.
It's not typical of me to watch a film/tv adaptation before reading the book, but since this is what happened for me in this case, I felt a little strange reading this. I could only picture the characters as their actors, and I found myself reading the book in Michael C. Hall's voice at times. The first season of the show seems to be remarkably true to this book, which I suppose is commendable, but since I had seen it already, it took some of the luster out of the book, because there were few surprises for me. There were a few notable differences, but the majority of at least the first half of the book is translated to the first season of the show almost word-for-word.
This is a modern novel, and as such the language and pacing of the novel is very modern as well. This was both good and bad. Good because it moved along very quickly, and the chapters began and ended in that way that entices you to keep reading. It was lightweight and entertaining. The bad part about it was that it's not very challenging to read. It doesn't require much concentration, and it didn't envelop me into its world like some books do.
That's not to say that this novel is badly written; it's not. It was definitely an enjoyable read, but how enjoyable all depends on one's mood at the time. If you're looking for something deep and poignant, or a rich, epic fantasy world to dive into, this isn't going to be the book you're looking for. But when you're looking for something fun, fast, and easy to jump in and out of, this would be a great choice. The last few chapters really ramp up in intensity that I wish had been present throughout the book. Maybe the sequels will be as good as those last few pages.(less)
The Waste Lands is the third book in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’ve been re-reading this series, but it has been years since I read them...moreThe Waste Lands is the third book in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’ve been re-reading this series, but it has been years since I read them before, so while I have a basic recollection of the general direction of the story, most of the details are like new to me.
In this book, Roland, Eddie, and Susannah continue their journey for the Tower. Roland spends some time struggling with sanity because of a sort of paradox he created involving Jake while inside the mind of Jack Mort. Jake also struggles with sanity because of the same paradox. Ultimately, Jake is returned to Roland’s world and to the ka-tet, which resolves the paradox and the journey can continue. The group finds the city of Lud, where Jake must be rescued once again. From there, they begin a journey with a peculiar monorail train named Blaine. The book ends on something of a cliffhanger, in a somewhat uncomfortable place.
I found myself having some difficulty sinking into this book. I’m not sure what exactly it was about it, but I just couldn’t concentrate on it well, and I went through this book much more slowly than I would have liked. I seemed to enjoy the story more where Jake was involved, and I tended to become distracted when he wasn’t there. I have no idea why that is.
Overall, I’m enjoying this re-read of The Dark Tower series, however I might put a book or two between this and the next installment, just so that I don’t burn out on this story or its characters. Maybe returning to the story with a fresh mind will help me regain my zeal.(less)
**spoiler alert** Put as simply as possible, this book was all over the place and I was quite disappointed with it. On a scale of one to ten, my verdi...more**spoiler alert** Put as simply as possible, this book was all over the place and I was quite disappointed with it. On a scale of one to ten, my verdict of it couldn’t possibly be higher than five.
Now to be specific.
It’s hard for me to even really summarize what exactly this book is about. By the title, one would assume that it’s about a girl, most likely with a dragon tattoo. While there is a girl with tattoos, she isn’t really the main character and the tattoos have no significance at all. For me, the title was misleading and I really wasn’t expecting the book that came under it.
The real main character of this book is a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist. As I said, this book is difficult to summarize because there are so many different plots happening at the same time and they are only loosely related or dependent on each other. There is a plot about Blomkvist as a journalist who was duped into losing much of his credibility and his struggle to maintain his magazine and personal life. There is a plot about the girl with tattoos, named Lisbeth Salander, who is highly intelligent but socially cold and is considered a ward of the state. The main narrative of the book is something of a mystery novel about a large and eccentric wealthy family that owns a large and prominent company in Sweden. There had been a disappearance of one of the family members forty years prior, and Blomkvist (for whatever reason) was hired by the family to try his best to uncover what happened to her.
The book jumps all over the place between these plotlines, and a lot of the book seems unnecessary or extraneous. The background about Lisbeth Salander involves some grisly scenes, but they just seem salacious later when you realize that this book isn’t even really about Salander. Why did we need to know about that stuff? Entire chapters of this book just don’t even matter, in the end, which was frustrating.
The main mystery plot could have been enough book on its own, but it was also disappointingly written. The cast of characters is huge and difficult to keep in order. Also, it felt as though the characters sometimes had awfully convenient knowledge that led to awfully convenient discoveries, which felt to me like lazy writing. One instance in particular that I rolled my eyes at was when, upon seeing a license plate in a picture, Blomkvist automatically knew what region of Sweden the car was from because, as a child, he had taken upon himself to memorize all the region codes in license plates in Sweden. …Really?
The writing of the book itself was nothing particularly special and reading it went quickly. There were a few paragraphs at the end of the book that I found interesting, concerning the difference between a Stock Market crash and an Economic crash. I found myself glazing over from time to time when too many words were devoted to the geography of Sweden, but otherwise it wasn’t difficult to read. I just found myself seriously disappointed in the story. It was nothing at all what I was expecting, and I was disappointed that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was basically not at all about a girl with a dragon tattoo. Perhaps it should have been called The Large and Dysfunctional Corporate Family with a Huge and Terrible Secret.
I thought about watching the Swedish movie on Netflix (partially just for an opportunity to listen to the Swedish language), but I won’t be paying good money to go see the American version of this in theaters. I don’t know if it’s me, and I just am not a fan of modern fiction, or if today’s readers of bad internet fanfic smut are so deprived of truly quality writing that they think stuff like this and the Hunger Games are actually good books. Either outcome is depressing.(less)
The Iron Heel is considered a dystopian novel, and it was written in 1908 by Jack London. I generally enjoy dystopian stories, and I did enjoy the maj...moreThe Iron Heel is considered a dystopian novel, and it was written in 1908 by Jack London. I generally enjoy dystopian stories, and I did enjoy the majority of this book as well. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate this book a seven.
This book is mostly presented as a historical document, a manuscript by Avis Everhard, a socially elite woman who falls in love with a Socialist revolutionary, and with Socialism itself. The book tells the story of the erosion of Capitalism as an inevitability around the world, the rise of Oligarchy to replace it, and the struggle of the proletariat to rise to power in Socialism. The manuscript is annotated by historians much later in history (roughly 2600 AD, also noted as an entirely different year in an era known as the Brotherhood of Man).
I found myself devouring the first half or 60% of this book. I was completely dumbfounded at how eerily similar the story felt to politics of the last few years. The book was written in 1908, yet it talks about the crumble of Capitalism as growing wealth disparity, the failure of world Stock Markets and Banks, globalization of goods distribution and labor, people's uprisings around the world, et cetera. It made the book astonishing to read as a dystopian story, because any good dystopian story portrays a view of an unfavorable, but plausible outcome of society. It was amazing how much it felt like reading a summary of 2011.
The manuscript in the story is written mostly in first person, by Avis, but she speaks mostly about her husband Ernest. As the book progresses, and the arc of the story relates less to our modern times and more toward the possible future outcome, Ernest is not so much in the story and we learn more about how Avis remains safe and hidden during the rumblings of revolution in America. At this point, my interest started to wane slightly. Avis writing about herself and the outcome of each person she had ever known seemed to be a lot more tedious than Avis writing spectacular, adoring stories about her husband. Maybe I'm just not a fan of first-person writing, or perhaps the character of Avis isn't as compelling as that of Ernest, but the second half of the book seemed to move a little more slowly for me. It also ended abruptly, in the manuscript as well as the annotation.
Overall, I would say that this book is definitely worth reading, especially for fans of dystopian stories.(less)
**spoiler alert** Just After Sunset is a compilation of short stories by Stephen King, published in 2008. I enjoy reading most King books, and his sho...more**spoiler alert** Just After Sunset is a compilation of short stories by Stephen King, published in 2008. I enjoy reading most King books, and his short story collections are fun to read because you get interesting little sips of stories that you can read in a single sitting. I enjoyed this book, probably worth a seven out of ten.
This book contains thirteen stories, on a wide range of topics. There seemed to be two themes running like a thread through this book, one being death (not exactly surprising for a King book) and the other being obsessive-compulsive behavior. Not every story dealt with OCD directly, but it seemed that many characters had their habits, their quirks that they just couldn't help doing.
My favorite short story in the book, called simply "N.", actually did deal with OCD directly. It was a story about a man who found a thin place in reality, where demons and monsters threatened to spill out into the world. The only way for him to prevent that from happening was to count, and to touch things, and to move things. He tried going to a psychiatrist for relief, but his disorder drove him mad, and even the psychiatrist began to fall into the same habits.
I am a fan of Stephen King's writing, and I often read his books at a good pace, because I enjoy his writing style. It's effortless and natural, never flowery or contrived, and because of that I can really sink into the story and let my imagination take over. Just After Sunset was no exception, and I finished it in a matter of a few days. It's something quick and fun to read, and you can do it in little bites, which is the beauty of short stories.(less)
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book. I only knew that it was popular and supposedly poignant and profound. I read this book in a d...moreI didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book. I only knew that it was popular and supposedly poignant and profound. I read this book in a day, not because it was a good book but because I found myself with an entire day with nothing else to do.
The first 1/3 and the last 1/3 contained a decent story (not fantastic), full of tragedy and guilt. What infuriated me about this book was the 150 pages of essentially pointless filler in the middle. It didn't need that many pages to bring us from the narrator's childhood guilt to the modern day. We didn't need to know every detail of his growing up in order to resume the effort for redemption. It was incredibly tedious to read.
Another small thing that grinds my gears: The author was trying to teach us Farsi vocabulary, so the characters would say Farsi words to each other, and then also say the English translation. Real life dialogue doesn't happen like that. It was distracting.
I don't really think that I could even recommend this book. I feel like I wasted my time on this one.(less)
**spoiler alert** It's Kind of a Funny Story (Ned Vizzini) is, in short, a story about depression, but not in a sad or pessimistic way. It's about a t...more**spoiler alert** It's Kind of a Funny Story (Ned Vizzini) is, in short, a story about depression, but not in a sad or pessimistic way. It's about a teenage boy who suffers from enormous stress which makes him very depressed, and how he learns to handle it. I quite enjoyed this book; on a scale of one to ten I would rate it at an eight.
The main character of this story is Craig, who is fifteen and attending a high-profile business preparatory school. The school is very prestigious and very difficult to get into. Passing the entry exam was one of his proudest moments, but the exam is nothing compared to the stresses of life inside the school. The courses are difficult, the homework is difficult, the expectations of teachers for grades and clubs and activities are extremely high. He is quickly overwhelmed with his life, and he becomes terrified of failure. Failure at anything in the school means inevitable failure at life itself, and the downward spiral of depression begins. He only feels worse and worse until he almost decides to kill himself; instead, he calls a hotline for help and checks himself into the hospital, where he spends five days. While in there, he learns a lot about himself, about Life, about people, depression, and how to learn to manage.
I really enjoyed this book. The writing style is very natural and easy to read, like Craig is sitting in the room with you, telling you his story. I found it to be very easy to relate to Craig, and the way he describes his mental processes really made sense to me. It was comforting to watch him learn to let go of the things that dragged him down, and embrace the things that make him happy. That's a lesson that many people can benefit from. In the end, this book left me feeling optimistic and peaceful. I'm glad I decided to check it out.(less)
The Great God Pan is a short book or novella that is basically an unsettling story to read or tell when the lights have gone out or you are sitting at...moreThe Great God Pan is a short book or novella that is basically an unsettling story to read or tell when the lights have gone out or you are sitting at a campfire. The book does a pretty nice job of keeping your interest, by being simultaneously descriptive and teasingly vague about the horrible things that the characters have seen. It kept me reading, because I wanted to know more, and because it also did a decent job of giving me that uncomfortable, creepy feeling that a decent scary story is supposed to give. However, I only gave it three stars because the end seemed to be a bit disappointing for all the build-up that I read in order to get there. It was quick to read though, so it was a fun little story to take up an evening.(less)
At first, I thought this book started out a little slow, but it really seemed to snowball and suck me in as it progressed. The more the protagonist le...moreAt first, I thought this book started out a little slow, but it really seemed to snowball and suck me in as it progressed. The more the protagonist learns about Stepford, the more interesting it gets. By the time I reached the climax of the book, I was devouring pages, and that moment in the story is so gripping actually found myself cringing at what was about to happen.
The writing is beautifully clever, and this story is one of those that makes you want to re-read as soon as you've finished, so that now you can pick up on all the little clues along the way. This book was really fun to read, and it's short enough to read in a single sitting.(less)