Once of the best biographies I've read in awhile, Bradley walks us through his experience in the war with calm, quiet authority. He goes through minutOnce of the best biographies I've read in awhile, Bradley walks us through his experience in the war with calm, quiet authority. He goes through minute detail on each decision made and walks us through battle plans (and the actual battles that followed) with an excellent tactical eye that never gets too far beyond what a lay person can follow. He never seems like he's dumbing history down; he said in his introduction that he wanted the GIs to under why they were given the orders they were given, what went into the decisions that sent them hither and yon, and he does so with careful precision. In doing so he humanizes the "brass" in a way that I never appreciated before, and gave me a look at the personalities behind the commanders. For example, I always viewed Eisenhower as the ultimate chess master, a brilliant tactician but a "cold fish," with very little personality. Seeing the human side of him through his interactions with Brad and George changed that completely. So from both a strategy angle and for the human interest perspective, this is an absolute must-read for the World World II buff.
And, from reading the other reviews, I've learned that this was the basis for the film "Patton," which I did not know. Somehow it's very fitting that Bradley's biography would be the basis for the film of another man's story. I'm not even sure it would bother him, which tells you everything you need to know about the man. ...more
I recognize that dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction is very "in" right now, with The Hunger Games and Divergent series. This was not either of those;I recognize that dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction is very "in" right now, with The Hunger Games and Divergent series. This was not either of those; it wasn't as well written and the characters definitely weren't as rich. But, I love the genre and the I loved the world, so I'll let that slide for now. I hope to see more character development as we go forward; Thomas in particular seemed like the cardboard cut out of the "good guy," and I really would like to see him grow and mature. Maybe the flatness of the personalities was a purposeful choice of the author, since our memories, to some extent, make us who we are. If you take out the nurture and all you have left is nature, by definition, and that's going to fall a little flat.
Am I overthinking this? Maybe. But it's the first book in a series, so I'm prepared to give him some slack while I wait to see where we go from here. ...more
The pulpiest of pulp fiction, the whole thing was gleefully ridiculous. Maybe with another 50 or 100 pages would have made the plot feel less forced aThe pulpiest of pulp fiction, the whole thing was gleefully ridiculous. Maybe with another 50 or 100 pages would have made the plot feel less forced and overly convenient, but as it was, it was just a series of one overly-fortuitous event after another. It may have been originally written as a serial; I'm not sure, but that would explain a lot. It was a fun enough story if you're willing to go along for the ride, but not something I'd seek out more of....more
I'll admit it: I saw the movie before I even heard about the book, and the picked up the book at a sale on a whim. But this is not the movie--as muchI'll admit it: I saw the movie before I even heard about the book, and the picked up the book at a sale on a whim. But this is not the movie--as much as I loved it, this is better.
Clocking in at close to 400 pages, this is a scholarly treatise covering the history of New York gangs (you don't say?), written in 1928. I thought it was be dry, slow, hard to slog through, but it was the opposite. The author showed a sense of unexpected humor and understatement that added levity to what could otherwise been a long, depressing tale. While I knew that New York was never exactly a city of angels, but reading the history, I'm amazed any part of the city is still standing.
I will put in one caveat that affected my enjoyment of the book; while the author moved in roughly chronological order, he mainly grouped his book by subject matter, which means that the time periods tended to shift back and forth, and I had a hard time keeping track of what was going on and when. Sometimes players would drop out of sight for 100 pages, the pop back up again without a re-introduction, and I struggled to remember who they were. I would have benefitted from some kind of chronology, but that was a minor note in what was otherwise a very, very enjoyable read. ...more
Whatever rating I give this, it won't really be fair. The story is incredible, but the writing is...not impressive. In fact, the writing not only didnWhatever rating I give this, it won't really be fair. The story is incredible, but the writing is...not impressive. In fact, the writing not only didn't add anything to the book, it actually took away from the story. It was so uneven and so choppy, and really somewhat juvenile, that it was distracting. As a general rule, I don't approve of exclamation marks! In nonfiction writing! Because it seems like a grade school report! And also fragments. Even for emphasis.
I can handle the chatty narrative when it's a first person autobiography--I still don't like it, but I can understand the intent. But a supposedly serious biographer should treat his subject with a little more respect, and a little more polish. This book honestly needed to be two, maybe three times the size it was in order to give the subject the treatment is deserved, with the detail and the documentation that I would expect on something like this. Gallagher barrels through years of the war, covering the period immediately after the surrender, when O'Flaherty first started his work, until the end of the war. He leaps months and years in a few chapters, skimming along like an ice skater rather than digging in. I'll treat this as an introductory work rather than the definite masterpiece it was billed as. The story, though? Worth every word....more
First off, let me just say: not the movie. I loved the movie, I loved the book, but they are two separate entities. They have almost nothing in commonFirst off, let me just say: not the movie. I loved the movie, I loved the book, but they are two separate entities. They have almost nothing in common but the title and the fact that they both center on a worldwide war against zombies (you don't say?).
I thought the book was incredibly well done; it's very hard to write action, period, and Brooks chose a series of difficult tasks to tackle: multiple points of view, first person, action, horror, all in dialogue...that's no joke. His decision to recount the book as oral histories of survivors was a big risk, and I think it paid off. One of the book jacket reviews called it "compulsively readable," which I thought was some hyperbole, but I definitely stayed up well past my bedtime every time rushing through. This a hard genre to do with talent, taste and restraint, and I think he did a great job....more
I must admit that I approached this with wariness; books that can be shelved under "paranormal romance" typically aren't my thing. But I was impressedI must admit that I approached this with wariness; books that can be shelved under "paranormal romance" typically aren't my thing. But I was impressed by this. I thought it had more going on than just a Romeo and Juliet theme, and the characters did something besides stare longingly at each other in a field of flowers. There was actually some action and some self-determination, which I admired. And there were a fair amount of other characters that mattered in the plot; it didn't hang solely on the merits of the main protagonists, which would have gotten old in a hurry. I did wish they would both stand up for themselves and push back a bit more, but hey, it's high school. No one has any idea what they're doing at that point.
I did appreciate the nod to Carrie at the winter formal, although I have to wonder how many of the target audience got that reference.
I am looking forward to reading the other books, but I will say that I think the authors were needlessly nasty about the South, and Southern small towns in particular. Every place has its downside, but they seemed exclusively focusing on small town South as the root of all evil, boredom, ignorance and bigotry. It's as if Lena would have been perfectly acceptable anywhere but the South, but because she was in the South, she was subjected to the literal witchhunt. Surely Yankees are far more welcoming of outsiders! Surely only in South Carolina would there be hatred for the "different." Surely anywhere but in that particular place, would the blond cheerleaders welcome the brunette new girl with open arms! It's all the South! Those backwoods Johnny Rebs have brought all this on themselves!
I am trying to write that off as the perspective of the teenagers, along the lines of "parents just don't understand," but really...bitter much?
I will read the others, I just hope some of the vitriol will quiet down a little. It's distracting....more
I just...I tried, y'all. I tried so hard, but I couldn't do it. I made it about a third of the way through before everyone else in the book club startI just...I tried, y'all. I tried so hard, but I couldn't do it. I made it about a third of the way through before everyone else in the book club started rethinking our decision, which gave me permission to voice my desperate plea that we pick something else--anything else--please. We picked another book.
I have deeply mixed feelings about this. The writing style was beautiful, I have to give him that--lyrical and flowing, although it flowed into needless digression more often than not. It was so-o-o-o slow; when I gave up 200 pages in, I still had no idea what Sophie's choice was going to be or had been. That's a lot of ink to cover without having any idea what the plot is about.
Also, I felt like Styron was needlessly focused on sex. I get it, he's young and male and he's going to think about sex. Men have sex, men like sex, men think about sex, I get it. But the narrator goes on for pages at a time about his increasingly outlandish sexual fantasies, and it just didn't further the plot. I don't exactly faint and clutch my pearls at a sex scene, but it really needs to do something for the plot. Most of Styron's lustful musing do nothing for the plot, such as it is. I finally wikipedia'd the book's page (I'm so embarrassed) to see if it was worth slogging through the remaining 400 pages, and I almost threw something when I saw where the book was going. If I had lost the next however-many hours of my life to that, there would not have been enough alcohol in the world to make it okay.
To be clear: I don't say Styron is a bad writer, because the writing really was beautiful. And it was interesting enough that I kept slogging on much longer than I normally would have, because the spell he wove successfully pulled me in at least enough to go that far.
My frustration with Stephen King lies in how uneven he is--he alternates from genius to mediocre, and sometimes downright awful. Mediocre is okay if tMy frustration with Stephen King lies in how uneven he is--he alternates from genius to mediocre, and sometimes downright awful. Mediocre is okay if that's the best you can do, but when I know you're capable of genius, I expect better.
While Bag of Bones might not rise to the level of genius, it is certainly the most enjoyable of his books that I've read in awhile. It's probably going to go on the shelf next to my other favorites of his, 'Salem's Lot and Needful Things. It will never be The Stand or any of the Dark Tower books, but it is a truly enjoyable read. King shows more care in world and plot building in this book than he has in some time, and develops some characters that seem real (even likable!), rather than just moving cutouts around the flannel board. It was better plotted and better anchored, and it wasn't as overly self-referential as many of his works have been since his accident. (Did you hear? He was in an accident while jogging! He was hit by a van! He almost died! I bet you didn't know! Because he's never talked about it since!) I also didn't get that "I am Stephen Goddam King and I don't need no stinkin' editor" vibe.He actually thought this one through and wrote like the talented storyteller he really is...when he can bother to expend the effort.
As a side note, I really liked how he handled the relationship between Jo and Mike. It felt like a relationship between two adults, like a real marriage. He handled it without the "tee-hee, I get to talk about sex! How far can I push the envelope?" juvenile side trips, where he rights about intercourse like a 13 year old who just saw a Playboy for the first time. Thank God. ...more
I knew nothing about this book when I started it, other than it had been made into a movie. My book club picked it, and while I was not exactly enthusI knew nothing about this book when I started it, other than it had been made into a movie. My book club picked it, and while I was not exactly enthusiastic, I figured I didn't have room to complain after my pick went over like a lead balloon. To my surprise (this isn't really my genre), I really enjoyed it--in fact, I was hooked from the prologue on, and found every chance I could to get in a few pages more. This is not something I would ever have pictured myself enjoying, but I'm glad I tried it. I was even able to overlook some of the things that usually would have bothered me. Normally telling a story in present tense makes me crazy, but it was so smooth and seamless that I really didn't notice it most of the time. She was also able to handle most of the grammar issues that cause present-tense narrative to be so clunky.
At first I had trouble with the switching back and forth between "old Jacob" and "young Jacob." Not really trouble, because it was done well and also had the added bonus of letting me know there would be some kind of happy ending, and he would be with Marlena in the end. But the scenes were so well done that they made me uncomfortable; it's hard to see someone in their prime, and then at the end of life, and not feel very keenly your own mortality. Especially after reading this, I'm really hoping to live fast and die young. Seems better than 93 and in an old folks' home.
And I really didn't see the last two twists coming, so good job! ...more
I am about to commit bibliophile blasphemy when I say this, but...I liked the movie better.
CLUTCH YOUR PEARLS.
Now I will temper this extreme statemenI am about to commit bibliophile blasphemy when I say this, but...I liked the movie better.
CLUTCH YOUR PEARLS.
Now I will temper this extreme statement with some back tracking. In terms of a horror story, I thought the movie was one of the most effective horror movies that I've seen in a long time, and it's now one of my favorites. I had really hoped that the book would do the same for me, but it was a very different story. The basics were the same, but instead of being a straight scare, this was an atmospheric tale that snuck up on you, and then slid away before you really knew what was going on. The tension built and then eased until I barely knew which end was up, and the genius of it was that virtually nothing happened. Everything was hints, or scene at a distance--there was comparatively little direct action. It was all mental, almost like The Turn of the Screw, only in this one there was no doubt over the reality of the Woman.
It's a very slim volume, only 138 pages in my edition, and I do wish it were another fifty or hundred pages. It was so quick and I wanted more detail and more depth. The first 15 pages were all prologue, and by itself the section was a spoiler, since it definitively reveals that who lives and who dies (and reveals a very different ending from the movie). 15 pages is not a lot, normally, but when you're only dealing with 138 that's a good percentage that I really wanted spent elsewhere.
So it was a very different book, not what I was expecting, not even what I was hoping for, but it was still a brilliant story, and worth the read. ...more
This reminded me of The Turn of the Screw in many ways; not because the books themselves are that similar, but because of the eerie, atmospheric tensiThis reminded me of The Turn of the Screw in many ways; not because the books themselves are that similar, but because of the eerie, atmospheric tension, and the brilliance of the writers by allowing scenes where nothing happens at all to be terrifying. The similar thread I did find between them was the question of the narrator's sanity and stability, and the sense of unreality. What did happen? What didn't? What was psychosomatic and what was external? There are no answers.
I really wonder about Eleanor's sanity, not just at the end of the book when the house had clearly subsumed her, but from the first moment we met her. She was "off" from the beginning, her mental health worn down by stress and weakness, and that left her easy prey for Hill House. Was she ever sane? And what does that mean for the rest of the book? I have to wonder how differently the story would have read if the narrator had been Dr. Montague, or even Theo. I don't think Luke has enough personality to carry the entire story himself, but Theo--especially because she is the most maligned by the house and/or Eleanor--probably had a much different take on the events. Very quickly after the second night, I stopped believing anything that Eleanor told me at all, because I couldn't trust her perception. I would have questioned even more than I did if the other characters had not also been reacting the what happened around them, otherwise I might have decided the Eleanor was something else entirely, maybe in an insane asylum.
I would recommend seeing the 1963 movie version, The Haunting (NOT to be confused with the 1999 version), which follows the book surprising well. Of course, as a visual medium it can't adequately convey Eleanor's increasingly unstrung internal dialogue, but it's a fair adaption....more
I....I don't get it. I really don't. I wanted to like this, and I have to say that I understand why it's so popular. I can appreciate the merits of itI....I don't get it. I really don't. I wanted to like this, and I have to say that I understand why it's so popular. I can appreciate the merits of it, without actually enjoying it. I just couldn't get past the deliberately obtuse writing style. There was too much "He knew! That I knew! That he knew that I knew that he knew! AND IT WAS TERRIBLE! TOO TERRIBLE TO SPEAK OF. So we're going to talk about something else instead." What? What?
I have never used Cliff Notes, or anything like that, for my reading before, but I feel like it could help here so that I could translate the scenes better in my head. The oblique style of hinting and dancing around things but never actually saying it almost drove me to drink. I'm sure the hints and subtleties were the point, but I was too busy trying to sort out what was going on to actually enjoy what I was reading. Not. Impressed. ...more
I loved the show Dark Angel, and in fact I own both seasons and watch through them periodically, so I thought I'd read the continuation. I desperatelyI loved the show Dark Angel, and in fact I own both seasons and watch through them periodically, so I thought I'd read the continuation. I desperately wanted to know what happened after the end of Freak Nation, and I am...disappointed. I'm not convinced the author ever watched the series, or had more than the most passing familiarity with the characters and plot lines. Also, his writing was painfully bad--I'm having a hard time believing that this guy has received awards. Maybe his original works are better, but this was a little hard to get through, and only my curiosity kept me going. I'll probably read the next one, too, just to see where the story could have ended, but then I'll definitely be returning these to the friend I borrowed them from and moving on. ...more
I picked this up after watching the (short lived) TV series--I didn't even know that there was a series until I was reading the trivia section on theI picked this up after watching the (short lived) TV series--I didn't even know that there was a series until I was reading the trivia section on the IMDB page. I have to say that I really enjoyed this; writers tend to stumble when they have to do either comedy or action, but Butcher managed both with aplomb. Dresden is a thoroughly enjoyable character, and he inhabits a completely engrossing world. He makes the urban fantasy seem completely gritty and believable, like something I'd see on a "real" cop show. The plot may have gotten a little convoluted at the end, and it did tie up with a nice pretty bow, but I'll forgive both of those. For the first foray into a series, it got me excited, and that's the main thing.
As a side note, I'm really impressed by how well the TV series adapted the book. The characters were spot-on, and the only major change I noticed was fleshing out (haha) the character of Bob. I can see why they went with a ghost tied to a skull instead of just a skull, since that would have been hard to do for TV. But otherwise, the dirty, seamy word of Dresden's Chicago was pitch-perfect. It was a great primer for the books, and now I'm excited to get into the real deal. ...more
It's a nice enough little book, less than 300 pages of silly fluff that I read in an afternoon and that kept me company during two short flights and aIt's a nice enough little book, less than 300 pages of silly fluff that I read in an afternoon and that kept me company during two short flights and a layover. If this is a first novel, which I think it is, I'd like to see more of the author's work as she matures. This needed some more heft to it and had several plot holes and internal logic problems, plus the story was a bit too...simple. I think this really wanted to echo Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman, and who knows, maybe she will get there; I definitely see the potential. In the mean time, if you're in to this short of thing, a much more fleshed-out look at the same concept is in American Gods by Neil Gaiman. ...more
I...I made it. It's over. I made it through without hanging myself in despair or clawing my eyeballs out in self-defense.
I opted to read this becauseI...I made it. It's over. I made it through without hanging myself in despair or clawing my eyeballs out in self-defense.
I opted to read this because I feel like a well-educated adult so read all books that are part of the cultural lexicon, and so I should read at least one thing by the author who inspired the term "Kafkaesque." So I read it. And, God help me, I finished it, but I will never get that month of my life back.
I didn't get it. I mean, I know it was existential, but I still didn't get it. And I don't want to get it. Apparently this was made into a movie, which I would rather shoot myself in the face repeatedly than see, even if it would provide some semblance of plot structure and reason. I feel like I could have invested more into it if I'd liked the main character, but I disliked Josef so much that I only finished it because I was rooting for something bad to happen to him. Even with that, I still finished it with a feeling of "What? Are you shitting me?After all of that, THIS is how you end it? Is this a joke? Am I being punk'd?"
My personal feeling is that this is a classic because generations of readers could make heads or tails of it, but didn't want to admit it in case everyone ELSE understood it, so they nodded wisely, caused it an important work of literature, and passed the buck to the next reader to explain. ...more