Roeper writes well and this book is short and entertaining for movie fans. Sure, you already are aware that the odds of seeing Drew Barrymore in a goo...moreRoeper writes well and this book is short and entertaining for movie fans. Sure, you already are aware that the odds of seeing Drew Barrymore in a good movie are dismal but do you know what percentage chance you have of seeing her in something worthwhile? According to Roeper, it's 19% (for poor Chris Kattan, that average drops to zero.) Everyone knows the Hollywood Foreign Press (the bestowers of the Golden Globes) are highly questionable on the "press" part, but Roeper has a chapter explaining their ignominious history, including when they were dropped from network TV in 1968 as a result of an FCC investigation. Other topics range from film flubs to the Oscars to the mystery of films that are shot but never released. All things you've read about before but you might find new information here and it's all wittily rendered. The chapter on the press including bloviating, near-delusional quotes from the stars of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is a scream.
One criticism, the book needs an index but this is a general complaint of mine with non-fiction books.
I wish I had given Roeper ("the guy who's not Siskel") more of a chance now on "At the Movies." (less)
I had some complaints with style and pacing, but basically I really enjoyed the predecessor to this book, The Magicians. This one had a good storyline...moreI had some complaints with style and pacing, but basically I really enjoyed the predecessor to this book, The Magicians. This one had a good storyline when it comes right down to it but it took at least 100 pages too many to tell it.
When last we saw Quentin Coldwater and his friends (fellow magic school grads Eliot and Janet plus his high school crush Julia who acquired her magic through mysterious means-trust me, we'll delve into that in excruciating detail), they were off to the Narnia-ish Fillory to be joint rulers. In book two, they are bored. Again. Yep, the book starts out on the same ground that killed the momentum in the middle of book one. Quentin and his pals have everything they've ever wanted and the ennui of the easy life is killing them. Soonish enough they stumble upon a mysterious omen and Quentin is off on a quest with Julia that includes an unexpected trip back to Earth.
First of all, Grossman can write well when he chooses to but at other times, he's wincingly informal:
I'm sorry, where did you think you were, motherfucker? Connecticut? There was a considerable Venn diagram overlap between people who lived in Bed-Stuy and people who had motherfucking guns. Fool. Welcome to New Dork City.
This isn't even dialogue. This-THIS-is what frequently passes for exposition.
And speaking of exposition, there is far, far too much of it. The story takes way too much time going somewhere and keeps running aground on trivial details. Quentin and company aren't a very compelling bunch to travel with either. And can I just say, the resolution of the Julia story made me want to hate vomit all over the page.
Despite some interesting developments near the end, this started to feel like a quest that I would never complete. I'm giving it three begrudging stars because I think the story and concept are good-it just falls to shit in the execution. I expect this series will continue but I'm not sure if I'll be there for it. Looking at other reviews though, I seem to be in the minority.
Edit: I'm tormented by how I rated this book as time passes. Does this happen to anyone else or am I patient zero for a new form of internet scrivener OCD? I digress. Three stars=I like. I did not like. So, I'm knocking this down to a more appropriate level. (less)
Oh man. This is embarrassing. I shouldn't even admit to have picked this book up. But, see, there's this show called "The Secret Circle" on the CW abo...moreOh man. This is embarrassing. I shouldn't even admit to have picked this book up. But, see, there's this show called "The Secret Circle" on the CW about these teen witches and I'm totally wrapped up in it I do understand that it's not exactly Chekhov but it's insanely addictive and surprisingly well acted. And I guess I was kind of curious about the source material for the books since it was the Christmas holiday and the show is on hiatus. And what's more Christmasy than reading about witchcraft and magic crystals and bound circles, amirite?
So, you know how you watch a tv show based on something you've read and think, "Why did they change that??" (yes, I'm looking at you True Blood.) Well in this case, the creators of the TV show were wise to go back to the drawing board. Instead of the high quality semi-soapy drama from the TV show, the book is simply Mean Witch Girls without the humor or insight of the Lindsey Lohan classic. It's dreary. But worse than that, everyone is terribly one dimensional. The villains are evil and interchangeable, the adults are largely useless and the heroine is a cipher. When the protagonist first meets the bad witch clique, they are trying unsuccessfully to break the neck of a classmate and soon move on to torturing our heroine by filling her locker up with raw meat (WTF? Dude, I tell you it makes NO sense.) I plowed through most of the first book (this is an omnibus edition of the first book and the first half of the second) and realized I couldn't force myself to go on. I flipped to the end of the first volume to see if it got better and the whole thing is a joyless, clumsy bummer. Avoid and re-watch The Craft instead.
BTW, this is also the author of the books that inspired the show "The Vampire Diaries."
This book was a little slow to get going-the murder doesn't take place until well over 100 pages in-but its charms inevitably won me over. Specificall...moreThis book was a little slow to get going-the murder doesn't take place until well over 100 pages in-but its charms inevitably won me over. Specifically, the charm of the narrator, 11 year old Flavia de Luce: chemistry prodigy, put-upon youngest sibling and indefatigable snoop.
In this outing, the second in the series, a famous BBC puppeteer and his assistant turn up with a broken down van in the small English town of Bishop's Lacey, where the de Luce family (Flavia, her two basically evil older sisters and her emotionally absent father) live in a crumbling mansion. Eventually, murder follows (although the victim is somewhat obvious, try to avoid reading the plethora of reviews that give this away. Mystery novels should be a little mysterious.) Furthermore, there seems to be a connection between this murder and the mysterious death of a local child that occurred five years prior leading the cast of suspects to include BBC staff, not one but two local mad women, and a former German POW-the novel takes place in 1950. Will Flavia armed with her titration vessels and insatiable curiosity save the day? Please.
The story is, as I said, a little slow getting started and possibly too padded out. Additionally, some of the characters mannerisms were a bit stilted and bizarre. Nevertheless, you read these books to enjoy the exploits of the heroine and there are plenty here, including her administering a pregnancy test using a woman's tears and brewing up a batch of hydrogen sulfide to poison a box of chocolates (it's a long story.) This series has such a bounty of references to smart topics- the paintings of Jan van Eyck, Madame Bovary's exploits, etymology- and dry humor that they succeed in being light reading that is not a waste of time. And if I haven't mentioned already, Flavia kicks ass. (less)