This would be a 2.5, but I'll bump it up to 3 for writing quality alone.
Not sure how I feel about this one. Honestly, the reviews on the back of theThis would be a 2.5, but I'll bump it up to 3 for writing quality alone.
Not sure how I feel about this one. Honestly, the reviews on the back of the book blew it so out of proportion that I felt I should feel underwhelmed, so the fact that I am is all the more disappointing. Ms. Byatt certainly knows how to turn a phrase, but her stories never found the niche I desired. Were they intended to be creepy? Insightful? Mesmerizing? One cannot know.
I think I hold short stories to a higher standard because I've read some truly incredible ones over the years, so finishing all five of these with barely feeling an ounce of fascination for the character stories is another reason I rate so harshly.
I do believe the last story, "The Pink Ribbon," was the highlight of the collection. This story did captivate me on a larger scale, and the final paragraphs gave me the "Aha" moment I desired. Short, sweet, and a conclusion I agreed with but still surprised me, I wish more of the book had been like this....more
I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled upon Tender Morsels. I think I was looking for something similar to The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by LouiseI'm not exactly sure how I stumbled upon Tender Morsels. I think I was looking for something similar to The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy, which I read last year and fawned over for months and months afterward. It's a beautiful, tragic story, and I guess I'm still fawning over it since I wanted to read another book that would retell a classic fairytale like Murphy did. What's funny is that with H & G I wanted more to be fleshed out, since I thought ends were wrapped up a little too nicely. But then the book would have been 500 pages, which would have ruined all its beautiful moments by dragging them out until they could no longer be appreciated.
Lanagan could have used this nugget of advice. Spanning almost thirty years, Tender Morsels is a novel of epic proportions, and it's baffling to me that this is even considered a Young Adult book. If only I could say that this was an epic worth following, since there is so much of it that I would like to cut out and tell you to skip over, and possibly then there would be a story worth the investment. As many other reviewers have said, 'Morsels' is drastically overwritten, and it is possibly the first book I've come across all year that is crying out for a massive edit. 150 pages need to just go from the middle (these just dragged on and on and ON), and I could probably also do with another 70 gone at the end.
Even though I contemplated quitting, the climax came 3/4 of the way through - and by then I just needed to know what was going to happen to them all. I was confused so much of this book that when the big moment did finally happen, I thought things would come together. But they didn't, and on the book dragged for another 150. (Really, if you are not a patient reader, you need to just move away from this book.) The characters were the saving grace, and even then I'm disappointed in the plot Lanagan chose for Snow White and Rose Red, here known as Branza and Urdda, perhaps because I've always been captivated by the Brothers Grimm version.
On the bright side, there is still a story worth telling out there somewhere. I'd be curious to see what another author might choose to do with Snow White and Rose Red, since Branza and Urdda are only a blip in what the Grimm brothers created.
Still, Lanagan gave a ton of effort, and I can appreciate that. But the greater novels don't let that effort show, and here it is overwhelming how much Lanagan tried. So I say, 2.5 stars overall. 3 stars for quality, 2 stars for plot. Read The True Story of Hansel and Gretel instead....more
In need of a quick fix after I finished another book faster than I anticipated, my Californian friend recommended Zorro from her own bookshelves. As aIn need of a quick fix after I finished another book faster than I anticipated, my Californian friend recommended Zorro from her own bookshelves. As a fan of the occasional swashbuckling romance, this was all the more appealing because of how California history is also a prominent feature of the book.
And what a delight Zorro was. Colorful, epic, and virtuous, this book is a perfect filler for the in-between stages, the times when you're not sure what to read next, since you've just finished a masterpiece and don't think anything else can measure up. Well, the beauty of this book is that Allende writes with a style that will keep you entertained and invested, her characters complex and defined. At times the tale can get a little tedious, but what I enjoyed about Zorro was that I could put it down and easily pick it up several days later. I attribute this to the fact that the book is not told in chapters; it simply keeps going, one long tale after another until the story of how Zorro came to be has run its length.
As a fan of the old Disney black-and-white television show, I loved reading Allende's version of the rise of Diego de la Vega, the by-day identity of the masked man to his late night, Robin Hood-type escapades. Allende has left nothing out: Zorro is a well crafted and finely edited number that will entertain a wide audience, since there truly is a little bit of everything for the well read reader to appreciate.
If you enjoyed this book and are looking for something to follow-up, I also recommend checking out The Scarlet Pimpernel - a swashbuckling favorite of mine with another charming, swoon-worthy male lead....more
I think I enjoyed this book more for my friend's recommendation of it than the actual characters themselves. Mostly, I had fun imagining her sitting aI think I enjoyed this book more for my friend's recommendation of it than the actual characters themselves. Mostly, I had fun imagining her sitting and reading, so absorbed and aggressively underlining passages and sentences that spoke to her. At times, I found myself thinking about her doing this more than the actual book's passages, and maybe that's ok. It's still a three-star reading experience for her observations I thought about as well as the classic narration that was so engrossing....more
What a trip. A silly, educational, thrilling trip, and I'm so glad I stepped on for it. (It would be 3 1/2 stars, lowered from my initial 4-star ratinWhat a trip. A silly, educational, thrilling trip, and I'm so glad I stepped on for it. (It would be 3 1/2 stars, lowered from my initial 4-star rating.)
Dan Brown writes with at the pace of a roller coaster - seriously, I think he must take trips around the country to test the best of the nation's coasters, since this is exactly how his plot progresses.
1) A slow incline...the story begins to unfold and build. A menacing character is introduced, and Langdon's test becomes life or death.
2) First long drop that sets the ride's momentum...a dramatic occurrence, a shock that throws Langdon into action and gives him a mission.
3) First set of spirals and loops...side characters are introduced, all the while pummeling forward and building the thrill.
This continues, the twists and turns becoming more elaborate, jerky, and unexpected. Ahead, you see the one last drop, the massive twist that will set forth the climax of the book. It is Brown's shocker, the literal surprised twist that you did not quite see coming. And yet, it feels right - it excites, it's what you waited for in line over two hours in that hot, sweltering summer heat, fanning your face with your park map and wiping the sweat from your forehead with the back of your hand. It is all worth it now - it is what you craved, it is what the park advertisers know you desire in that thirty second commercial that captures every last scream and wide-open mouth for that final dip.
That is a Dan Brown novel. That is The Lost Symbol. And that is why I read and enjoy Brown, because I know the thrill will be a ride that meets my expectations. With quite a bit of historical knowledge in tow, cunning, and endless patience with the nonbelievers who ask the idiotic questions, Langdon is an ideal character. He takes us on a ride that will drop us off safely at the end, but he knows we'll want to rush back to the line for another go-round as soon as we exit. ...more
This was a very easy read, but not nearly as entertaining or thought-provoking as I thought it was going to be. I have, however, seen the movie adaptaThis was a very easy read, but not nearly as entertaining or thought-provoking as I thought it was going to be. I have, however, seen the movie adaptation, so perhaps the excellent screen version tainted the outcome of the book for me. Either way, Hercule Poirot is a character unmatched, and I applaud Agatha Christie for creating such a funny, brilliant man.
I think my rating also is a reflection of my own jadedness, since I love me some crime stories but was underwhelmed here. I wanted more drama, more of a whodunnit feeling. Of course, the solving of the crime is the majority focus of the book, so drama is limited to the accused crying and pleading their innocence. There is so little character development that I also found myself having difficulty keeping track of who each person was. Still, the book was a light read, and I feel a little accomplished for having read this crime classic. (With a little bit of guilt, I might also recommend that you just watch the movie version instead.)
Still, Christie gets bonus points for the title alone. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS - can you really beat that? Makes me want to find myself a newsie....more
I have been attempting to think of how I could possibly start a review for this book, when my own little Goodreads point-of-view is so small and insigI have been attempting to think of how I could possibly start a review for this book, when my own little Goodreads point-of-view is so small and insignificant compared to this Wharton masterpiece. For that's what it truly is - a masterpiece like none other, and that is a word that I reserve for truly the only most deserving, fulfilling pieces of work.
It might be fair to compare Wharton to Austen, but I am not sure that does Wharton justice. In this book in particular, she is able to submerge us into a reality so devastatingly true and tragic, but this only describes one side of the story. Life for these characters does carry on as it does for any Austen work, and all ends are wrapped up, patted on the head, and kissed good night.
But the feelings I have after finishing this book are unlike the Austen texts I have read. Wharton understands that life does not always find its ideal matches along the way - it carries on with both dreariness and joy, but regret will inevitably find and haunt us at some point, whether for a moment or for a lifetime. Most will find a way to carry on and find joy elsewhere, and they will live a good, fulfilling life. But to have that little pang of regret somewhere along the way is something that Wharton finds fascinating, tragic, and part of what makes us real. The Age of Innocence allows us to experience characters like this, and for this reason alone this work deserves its timeless place on the shelves of great literature.
If you loved this, I suggest reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I believe it complements Newland Archer's story, only Chopin carries you down south to the steamy French quarters of Louisiana. There, a female protagonist shares Newland's struggle with what our fate tells us to do and what our heart inevitably desires.
All that said, I would also like to add that I think Newland Archer might be the best male figure I have ever encountered in a text. He is so magnificently developed, and I yearn for more characters like him. Whatever I read next is going to have some massive shoes to fill, and I'm afraid it's going to take me a while to find another text - or a character - equally if not more captivating. ...more