I wanted to try out a Kindle Serial. Seanan McGuire typically writes fiction in genres I don't read, but this one was right up my alley! I grew up rea...moreI wanted to try out a Kindle Serial. Seanan McGuire typically writes fiction in genres I don't read, but this one was right up my alley! I grew up reading and rereading fairy tales from "The Index" and this is a new take on a world where these stores are real, but not nearly as idyllic or idealistic as their originals. Stories change over time...
This isn't a particularly deep read, but it is a good book for in between serious novels. Some of the side themes are good for a modern, accepting teen.(less)
**spoiler alert** I don't want to give away the ending, but there isn't one! This is a mystery story that builds upon the first three books in the ver...more**spoiler alert** I don't want to give away the ending, but there isn't one! This is a mystery story that builds upon the first three books in the very odd, not-quite-a series.
The mystery is never resolved.
This book is worth reading for the prose. It's nearly infinitely quotable (like much of Murakami's works) but the great reveal never comes.
I don't mind being confused... I don't mind a let-down ending if it makes a point... so maybe I'm missing the point of this one.
4-stars for prose 3-stars for plot 1-stars for ending
Sorry Murakami-san... it's my lowest rated of your books thus far.(less)
This is just plain awesome. Reading a book in a span of 24 hours, on a work day, has a few pre-requisites. Insomnia helps. The Rithmatist isn't a part...moreThis is just plain awesome. Reading a book in a span of 24 hours, on a work day, has a few pre-requisites. Insomnia helps. The Rithmatist isn't a particularly long read, at around 5000 locations, this is about 1/5 the size of Clavell's monster: Shōgun and about half as long as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It's not really short either.
To finish a book this quickly, you need a readable and exciting book. The parts of the book without a lot of action are full of an interesting and unique premise. The "magic" in this book is that chalk drawings can come to life. Brandon Sanderson has a wonderful way of explaining how the system works, in pictures, dialog, and action. Thank goodness there will be another book in the series, but the wait may be difficult.(less)
Note: Spoilers are very minor and not regarding this book, so I'm not marking the review.
Another uncategorizable novel by Haruki Murakami. In fact, of...moreNote: Spoilers are very minor and not regarding this book, so I'm not marking the review.
Another uncategorizable novel by Haruki Murakami. In fact, of his novels at least, this is his first. Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 precede "A Wild Sheep Chase." Technically this is the third of the series, but the first two books are not necessary.
Book 1 introduces some characters. There are some excellent passages, but for Murakami, "Hear The Wind Sing" is what you'd expect from a first novel. "Pinball, 1973" is better. The bar, The Rat, and J are introduced clearly. Start with "Pinball" if you can find it, but don't despair if you cannot (it is out of print in English and can only be found as a shady download or via inter-library loan).
** Thus, stop reading this review if you don't want some minor spoilers from preceding books. **
This book is a fantasy. The first book in the series is a coming of age book that does little more than introduce the scene. It's entirely skippable. The second book is about friends parting. When you get older and build your own life, paths separate. The second book is also about an obsession that may stagnate your progress, or enhance it, toward some unknown goal. The book is loose, but it makes its point in a roundabout way.
"A Wild Sheep Chase" is neither about coming of age or parting. It is about loss, but this loss is twisted around a fantasy or even a horror that twists into the lives of the narrator and those around him. This overarching theme is clear.
Murakami shows here, in his third novel, that he can make a strong thematic point with a narration that moves in strange, unexpected ways. Furthermore, the prose and timing in the book are already masterful.
This is another good place to start reading Murakami. His style is young, but evident en force.(less)
While better than Hear the Wind Sing, this is still a coming-of-age (or better, adult-turning-point) novel that has modern Murakami-eqsue scenes in a...moreWhile better than Hear the Wind Sing, this is still a coming-of-age (or better, adult-turning-point) novel that has modern Murakami-eqsue scenes in a weakly themed book. Murakami's themes are usually complex, and this is true of Pinball, but they're also usually direct. Pinball, 1973 lacks the thematic direction of Murakami's modern books. The scenes involving pinball machines are the best scenes in the book. I suppose the characters are supposed to be like a ball, having little in way of direction and bouncing somewhat randomly at times. If this was the point, it could have been made more clearly.
For a second book this is far beyond his starting point. I can understand why Murakami doesn't want his first two works published in English, (making these books hard to find), but it is unfortunate. It's still a good book and a much easier read than his later books. As an unrefined, early book this is above and beyond most authors' pinnacle works.(less)
An excellent book, but the theme was tough to read. It seemed to be about the Manchurian Incident. I may need to know more history to really understan...moreAn excellent book, but the theme was tough to read. It seemed to be about the Manchurian Incident. I may need to know more history to really understand the link between Okada's search and the Japanese history he keeps running into.
Even not knowing the full history, the story is interesting and endearing and I learned a lot about Japanese WWII history. I'm only somewhat dissatisfied because it seems as though there's a very strong thematic element that I can't quite grasp due to my lack of understanding about WWII Japan. I don't think my lack is from a historical perspective, since the book provides much or all of that, instead it seems as though I don't understand the country's perspective during that timeframe. Some of this leaks through when we see that the people knew their invasion was a mistake but they had to continue onward, regardless.
The book is dark and gruesome in places. The are short sections, but there are a few of them. This is a book involving descriptive war crimes.(less)
This book is full of action and suspense! The character resolution never fully comes together, but it is the first in a series so that's to be expecte...moreThis book is full of action and suspense! The character resolution never fully comes together, but it is the first in a series so that's to be expected. The main character has good inner dialog, which is important since she's alone for major portions of the book. The supporting characters tend to seem a bit flat, though. Their flatness comes from seeing them through an antisocial main character.
The book is aimed at teens, and the theme makes this clear. You can consider this anti-utopian, but to me it seems like it's about perceived wrong and rising against authority. While the reasons for this are sound in the book, this can only play into teen angst.
The lost star is for the flat side characters and some awkward moments.(less)
The concepts in the book are very interesting. The stories are also somewhat captivating. The flaw in this book (which, from the 2 books I've read, se...moreThe concepts in the book are very interesting. The stories are also somewhat captivating. The flaw in this book (which, from the 2 books I've read, seems to be a problem of Stross') is the language. Stross likes to reuse real words to invent new slang languages, but at no point does he really clue us in on it. By the midpoint of the book, the language becomes an immersion process, which helps draw the reader into the book. At first, this is interesting because it's up to the reader to figure out the new language, but it becomes tedious.
This book lies somewhere between hard, architectural science fiction (which I tend not to like) and fantastical science fiction. Stross builds a new universe from the ground up, but uses bad science to do it. His method of doing this is very pleasing, letting the reader fill in the details of how most things are done, but when he relies on actual science it shouldn't be so grating. My favorite example of "bad" science from the book is "its surface etched with strange quantum wells that emulate exotic atoms not found in any periodic table that Mendeleyev would have recognized." This is also a good example of how Stross lets the user figure things out, but in this case the ambiguity makes us ask whether the author knows what he's talking about or if he's just stringing scientific words together.
The shifts in this book are also interesting. It seems as though we cover millennia across the entirety of the book, passing from one point of view to another across generations of the same family. Their incredible life spans, and the "historical" narratives that let us know what's going on in each era, are able to describe the sort of world we might evolve into. For all the point of view changes, however, the ending of the book is abrupt, to say the least. It's almost as though Stross hit his deadline or word count and had to end the book. I'm typically a fan of open endings; in this case it does not work well.
Overall, it wasn't a bad book. I liked the story line and the general concepts it contained. I just think the execution left something to be desired.(less)
**spoiler alert** Foucault's Pendulum follows the story of Casaubon, et al. as they try to piece together the secret history of the Templars. At times...more**spoiler alert** Foucault's Pendulum follows the story of Casaubon, et al. as they try to piece together the secret history of the Templars. At times this can be a dry process, as there are a number of history lessons presented as dialog, readings, and thoughts. I don't know if the book is historically accurate, but no knowledge of this material is needed before reading.
Jewish lore is also central to the book, and some knowledge of this would probably help. I do not know the cabala. This is used to organize the book and is discussed, but is only particularly confusing in the first few Sepherot (parts).
The book is a classic tragedy, but the main character is likeable enough. It may seem that parts of the book are extraneous, especially the detour in Brazil, but even this helps drive one of the main themes, that the deeper one enters one's own fantasies and delusions, the harder they are to escape.
The other theme is the central one, that it is easy to relate previous works together to create any sort of falsehood, that they'll make sense, and that people will believe them. The danger and evil of this is highlighted.
Perhaps further making this point, much of the book is told by hearsay. Casaubon reads papers, hears stories, and recalls his own expeditions to tie together the histories. This sometimes feels jumpy.
What is unclear in this book is whether the author expects the reader to be multilingual. The book was written in Italian and translated to English, but a number of passages still remain in French and Latin. These are not extensive, and can be skipped over, but this, along with the hearsay presentation, leads to confusion. It is possible Eco intends this, but continuing to read the book requires faith that it will all come together. It does, mostly, but the amount of background material we're given leads me to believe strong abridgment would lead to an easier book.
5-stars for coming together in the end and making the point clear. -1 star for foreign language (without subtitles), use of Sephirot without much background information, and (possibly) unnecessary chapters.
Beware of the Kindle version. There are a number of formatting errors (e turns into c, y turns into v). I expect spell-check is not easily done in a book like this, but if I'm paying money for it I expect higher quality.(less)
This is the end of an excellent YA fantasy series!
The overall gist of the series is that Gregor, an 11-12 year old boy drops into a cavernous underwor...moreThis is the end of an excellent YA fantasy series!
The overall gist of the series is that Gregor, an 11-12 year old boy drops into a cavernous underworld to be wrapped up in a series of prophesies.
These are aimed at 8-10+, but deal with some adult issues such as death of loved ones and facing one's own death. All of these books explore this topic, something even adult fantasy series gloss over, but the first book isn't as deep as the rest of the series.
This final book is darkest and wraps up the series nicely. Other readers complain about the ending, but it seems fitting to haven an open ending to a book with such deep topics.
For the adult reader, the few vocabulary lessions thrown in (as part of the main character's innder dialog) are somewhat irritating and make me think the aim is to the younger side of 8-10+. This is even more unsettling because of the subject matter. Fortunately, these were only obvious a few times.
The series is suspenseful and fast-paced and worth a fun read for any fan of the genre. (less)
A hilarious take on just about everything. The book is a mish-mash of stories, blurbs, and rants. The rants can drag on at times, but an anecdote is u...moreA hilarious take on just about everything. The book is a mish-mash of stories, blurbs, and rants. The rants can drag on at times, but an anecdote is usually waiting within a couple hundred locations.
This book is not for the feint of heart! Carolla may come across as sexist, but that's sort of the point. In the end, though, the topic is lost somewhere in the middle of the book. I don't want to make this out to be more than a superficial comedy, but it would have been nice if his well-begun thesis had come to a conclusion by the end of the book.(less)