Probably a 3.5 rating, but I have a feeling I will be talking about zombie vampires for a long, long time. Always a sign of an enjoyable, memorable re...moreProbably a 3.5 rating, but I have a feeling I will be talking about zombie vampires for a long, long time. Always a sign of an enjoyable, memorable read.(less)
I am pretty sure Ian McEwan starts writing all of his books with the same premise: introspective man and emotional woman come together for a moment th...moreI am pretty sure Ian McEwan starts writing all of his books with the same premise: introspective man and emotional woman come together for a moment that changes everything. Everything leading up to the point and right after is fascinating, poetic, and worth the read. Somewhere along, though, McEwan gets so enamored with his prose that he loses it and forgets how it was supposed to end. He then asks himself, "What on earth would be the worst possible ending for this book...? I've got it!"
I don't know why this has to happen every. single. time. that I read a McEwan book, and yet I keep going back.
Three stars because I read it within a couple hours and was continuously entertained. Also because I cannot wait to hand it off to beach visitors needing a quick "beach read." Heh, this will be a goodie.(less)
I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book, and for the first time in so long, I did not want to put it down. Already I want to recommend it to ever...moreI can't believe how much I enjoyed this book, and for the first time in so long, I did not want to put it down. Already I want to recommend it to everyone, even if you think zombies are not your thing - which is not to say exactly how I felt before I picked this up - but horror reads in general are a genre I typically don't read.
So, zombies and all that are a very terrifying force, and Max Brooks has made them a reality. I've spent hours talking with my boyfriend about how to survive and what to do if a zombie apocalypse were to occur, and as silly as it sounds, I feel adequately prepared.
The most terrifying element about this book is that zombies - unlike werewolves, vampires, Frankensteins, etc. - are closest to what us humans can be, and perhaps this is why the subject of this book is such a frightening thought. They aren't individual attackers, as one would think a vampire is. And there is no way to avoid their wrath or to stop them without a swift blow to the head (brain, specifically).
I love how Brooks answered so many of my questions as the book moved along. What about people in space? How did they react to the zombie apocalypse? What about dogs? Do dogs become zombie dogs when they are bitten? When people die, can they still become zombies even if they weren't bitten before their death?
I have so many questions still about zombies - it's absolutely ridiculous. And yet, Brooks writes so that I can't feel silly about it. I, the innocent reader, feel like this could be a real, legitimate threat, to the point where I have developed a looming zombie-apocalypse evacuation plan. Or at least thought about it, seriously, and consulted some very smart people.
And perhaps that's also why this book is so great: the speculation of it all is fun, the "What if?" factor. Because really, who knows what kind of apocalypse could hit us next, be it zombie or plague or nuclear.
First off, I think it's important to share that I read reviews here before I finished the book. Since so many are negative, I was preparing myself for...moreFirst off, I think it's important to share that I read reviews here before I finished the book. Since so many are negative, I was preparing myself for the absolute worst - specifically, at the ending. But I feel I owe this book a review, at least a defense, since Grossman is one of the most engaging modern writers I've encountered in quite a while.
Now, the ending was flat-out bad - bad enough for me to drop my four-star rating to a three, although that's not to say that I enjoyed the book any less. In fact, Codex might very well have sealed my fate now as a longterm Lev Grossman fan. But for me, the end is not what's important: it's the experience I had from the overall reading, and that experience was fulfilling. I love how Grossman employs his words, and in turn his sentences and paragraphs. He writes like a journalist, which is what he is, and that simple, elegant style is attractive and exciting to me. I want to know the description of a place, but not too much, and I want dialogue that propels a story forward, but not so much to where I lose track of who is actually speaking. Grossman works this balance, and esthetically Codex is top notch.
I do believe it helped that I have zero knowledge of any medieval workings, so book binding, estate titles - really anything pre-1600 - can get away with a lot of literary merit in my case because I am uneducated in this arena. If you are, sorry: I'm sure you'll have even more reason to be a critic. But Grossman is also a techie and a geek, and his interest in video games and computer systems shines through in a novel about a book from the days when fiction writing was simply blasphemous. In a way, Codex is a geeks' and bibliophiles' Da Vinci Code: the historical twists and turns are still there, only amplified by a computer game side story that might leave you less enthralled. Never fear, Grossman figures out a way to tie it together.
As a lead character, Edward is also going to be difficult for many to warm up to. He's not a tremendously lovable guy, but he works hard and is quietly observant - like the lead in The Magicians. Edward is snarky, but he's lonely. And this loneliness is what drives his decisions - a sad reason, but one that gave me even more reason to pity him enough by the end to forgive his foolishness. (I know I'm being vague, but if you haven't read or finished reading this yet, a spoiler is the last thing you'll want.)
While the ending is simply unsatisfactory for a book that liked to build things up, ultimately you have to remember that Codex is about one single character and his journey to rediscover himself. It takes a crazy turn of events for Edward to do this, but in the end he's rediscovered his passion. Somehow, someway, that's something we all need - whether it's a kick in the butt or a transcontinental, century-crossing trip.
Yes, Codex leaves many unanswered questions and takes the easy way out. But for some reason I am okay with that - just like Edward is with the codex. Is this a connection that Grossman wanted to make? Who knows, but it is a tie that I accept, appreciated, and thoroughly enjoyed.
Bring on the next one, Grossman. With each book you've put out, you're only continuing to improve.(less)
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 the...moreThis 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.(less)
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 Louise...moreI'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.(less)
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 a...moreIn 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.(less)
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 a...moreI 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.(less)