A good, light read. I've been a fan of Bryan Cranston for a long time, and A Life in Parts really helped solidify that for me. I especially enjoyed thA good, light read. I've been a fan of Bryan Cranston for a long time, and A Life in Parts really helped solidify that for me. I especially enjoyed the first half of the book, which mostly concerned Cranston's vagabond youth. The anecdotes from his childhood and from his post-adolescent travels were truly interesting.
As a fan of both Breaking Bad and Malcolm in the Middle I also enjoyed Cranston's recollections of those periods in his life, as well as the other shows he worked on earlier in his career. He's obviously lived through some very eventful and varied years, which makes for a colourful read.
However, I did feel that there was a shift in the tone of the Cranston's writing towards the end of the novel. It's just my own personal reading, but I sensed a great deal of the author's arrogance leaking through the words on the page. I also felt like some chapters were thrown in to the mix literally for the sake of calling certain people out, or for making himself look like a white knight. Or just to have an old-man preach about something he needed to get off his chest. It was a tad bit cringey.
All in all, it was a good read. There's a lot that can be learned from Bryan's experiences. He's a talented and intelligent man for whom I hold a great deal of respect....more
**spoiler alert** Like many others here have pointed out, this wasn't as good as the original. It felt less magical, but it also read as very rushed a**spoiler alert** Like many others here have pointed out, this wasn't as good as the original. It felt less magical, but it also read as very rushed and unplanned. The narrative jumps around a lot and there isn't really a proper focus to it besides Lily's blues.
Looking back on it, the book is basically four smaller stories kind of tied together by a bunch of tragedies. Example:
(view spoiler)[ #1 - The Oscar narrative, that ends with an unfortunate fire. #2 - The Lily Runs Away narrative... that just kind of ends. #3 - The throwback to the first novel, in which Dash sends Lily on another moleskin directed adventure. This ended happily, and honestly felt like it should have been the end of the book. #4 - The rest of the book which is a blur of random events and disasters. What was even the point of the pirate part? (hide spoiler)]
I also felt that it was one of those novels that loses its believability when you realise that if the characters just expressed themselves like real people would, then none of the plot would even be happening. I always struggle with that.
I mean, all of Lily's issue with Dash could have been solved by a single conversation.
(view spoiler)[ Lily: Dash, do you not love me? Dash: Huh? Lily: You didn't say you loved me back. Dash: Oh sorry, I just thought it was obvious. I love you. PROBLEM SOLVED.
At least, I think that's how Dash had felt about it? They never actually gave a reason for his lack of a response, and he didn't really cover it in his section. They never talked it out together. It's like nine months later he just magically knew all of a sudden why Lily had been withdrawn from him and he made amends. And then for reasons I don't really understand, the novel just kept going. (hide spoiler)]
I DID however like the character growth and development that took place in both of the main characters. Even the side characters went through a decent amount of growth. And the prose, as you'd expect from these authors, was lovely. I just think it could have been better....more
I'm basically as confused as everyone else is about this play. I'd heard it wasn't canon, which was a relief. But I just read that J.K. Rowling herselI'm basically as confused as everyone else is about this play. I'd heard it wasn't canon, which was a relief. But I just read that J.K. Rowling herself has apparently said that it should be considered canon. This saddens me, considering how many details of this play contradict the world she spent so many years building. And I'm not just talking about the discrepancies with the actual plot and lore of the HP universe. You know, things like how the Fidelius charm should work, or how the floo network was altered.
No. The biggest issue I had was how poorly it handled the characters. Almost every pre-existing character in this play was butchered. In fact, the entire plot hinges on Harry getting into a rage and telling his child that he wishes he weren't his son. Harry just flat out wouldn't do this. Considering the fact that his own father died when he was so small, and left a huge father-shaped hole in his life. Considering how horrible it was growing up as an unwanted child in the Dursley home. Considering how very aware he was of the importance of the father figures he gained in both Dumbledore and Sirius. Considering Harry's own life-long fear of being a burden. Yeah, I'd say that no matter how bloody angry Harry got, he would never say this to one of his children.
He also wouldn't threaten McGonagall. Ever. Harry respects McGonagall. She looked out for him during his Hogwarts years. She fought bravely for Hogwarts. She is Dumbledore's successor. I should not even be having to write this paragraph. Yet here I am. Because in this stupid play Harry does threaten McGonagall. And it's ridiculous.
Ron was little more than a parody of his eleven year old self. Never mind the character development he underwent throughout the series. He's just a goofball. Move along. Both Draco and Snape were completely robbed of the darkness and the edge that made them who they were. Sure, they both had redeeming qualities (Draco much less so...) but they were both incredibly damaged and flawed human beings. I feel like Thorne tried to incorporate this by giving them each a few snipey lines. But he failed. In the grand scheme of things, they came off as softer than Harry did.
I could go on. I don't think I need to even begin pointing out how absolutely moronic the idea of Voldemort having an illegitimate lovechild is. The Cursed Child may as well have been an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful.
For the record, I liked the friendship between Scorpius and Albus. It was sweet. But it wasn't enough to save this mess....more
Reading Dark Places was incredibly tense and oftentimes spooky, especially throughout the first half of the novel. I found the tension lessening as IReading Dark Places was incredibly tense and oftentimes spooky, especially throughout the first half of the novel. I found the tension lessening as I read deeper into the plot and formed more of my own theories. There are plenty of twists and turns and characters to keep you guessing, but I did sniff out what eventuated as the actual ending at about the half-way point. I also had plenty of other guesses, though, and wasn't sure which, if any, would be correct.
This is the kind of book that hooks you and doesn't let you go until you've read the very last word of the very last page. I even dreamed about this book one night. It's haunting, and I know already that it will linger with me....more
I really liked this short story, much more than I liked Mary Poppins in the Park (which was pretty dull and repetitive having read the first three MarI really liked this short story, much more than I liked Mary Poppins in the Park (which was pretty dull and repetitive having read the first three Mary Poppins novels beforehand).
Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane finally shook off the usual formula (for the most part, anyway) and did something a little bit new. At the same time, it still felt nostalgic and snuggly, because it brought back all the good characters from the previous novels, and had a nice sentimental touch at its conclusion.
Bonus: I loved the allusion to Mary Poppins perhaps being present in Mr. Banks' childhood. That was a nice touch and got my imagination ticking....more
Having read the first three Mary Poppins novels immediately before Mary Poppins in the Park, I found it to be boring, repetitive and quite simply a reHaving read the first three Mary Poppins novels immediately before Mary Poppins in the Park, I found it to be boring, repetitive and quite simply a rehashed version of the other three books... but shorter and with less effort put into it. It's definitely my least favourite Mary Poppins to date; seeing as I usually have a few favourite chapters in MP each novel, and had absolutely none in this one.
I think Mary Poppins Opens the Door would be much better were it a stand alone novel. As it stands, it's not. It's the third book in a series and is sI think Mary Poppins Opens the Door would be much better were it a stand alone novel. As it stands, it's not. It's the third book in a series and is sadly yet another demonstration that P. L. Travers preferred to stick to a formula than to come up with new ideas. I realise I sound bitter, I swear I'm not. I love Mary Poppins. I love the Banks family. I love magic. But in everyMary Poppins book you read the same things over and over. I think I'll list all the common denominators in my full review of the series.
The only thing that brought this novel up to three stars for me was the final chapter, in which Mary Poppins presumably leaves for good. I'm a sucker for a bit of sentimentality, and I liked the way this series ended (chronologically ended, anyway). I especially loved the concept of the "other door" and the world within the window. It was beautiful and creative.
Highlights: Peppermint Horses (would be even better if it was a tad more original), High Tide, The Other Door...more
I liked Mary Poppins Comes Back just as much as I liked the original novel, but I did find myself more aware of P. L. Travers' formula this time arounI liked Mary Poppins Comes Back just as much as I liked the original novel, but I did find myself more aware of P. L. Travers' formula this time around, and thus a little more sensitive to her recycled ideas. However, I felt P. L. Travers really improved her writing in the novel, with the introductions and conclusions of each chapter varying a little more. I am still in love with Mary Poppins, and this time around fell in love with the children, too.
Highlights: The New One, The Evening Out, Balloons and Balloons...more
I'm struggling with whether or not to give this book 3 stars or 4 stars... 3.5 stars? That seems about right.
Mary Poppins is actually one of my favourI'm struggling with whether or not to give this book 3 stars or 4 stars... 3.5 stars? That seems about right.
Mary Poppins is actually one of my favourite fictional characters. Ever. I love and adore her. Both the Disney version and the P. L. Travers version. In fact, I don't see much of a difference between the two versions. After reading a few reviews here, the way they went on about it, I was expecting the book's Mary Poppins to be some foul-mouthed monster. She is merely Mary Poppins that is slightly more prone to grouchiness. I feel this may even come down to the difference between the time in which the book was written and the time in which the movie was made.
On the subject of the actual, original story within these pages - I loved it. The magic and the mystery of the children's' adventures is fun and interesting to read. My absolute favourite chapter was John and Barbara's story; it really captured my imagination.
That being said, I can't give Mary Poppins a full 4 stars, because at the end of the day, despite enjoying the book when I did read it, it didn't hook me and keep me turning pages the way some other children's classics have (I'm looking at you, The Secret Garden).
Still, I'm looking forward to the rest of the humungous brick that is the 6 book collection.
HIghlights: Mrs. Corry, John and Barbara's Story, Christmas Shopping...more
Don't hate passionately hate it. Don't love it. Don't know how I feel. Here goes:
A melodramatic, humble-bragging, egotistical writer in her 30s embarkDon't hate passionately hate it. Don't love it. Don't know how I feel. Here goes:
A melodramatic, humble-bragging, egotistical writer in her 30s embarks on a "spiritual journey" around the globe. This pilgrimage is Gilbert's poorly concealed attempt at telling the world just how special, gifted, intelligent and strong she is. I mean, she got through a divorce. In just four years. And it only required a year-long paid-for trip across the globe. I mean, that's practically unheard of. What a special snowflake.
I'm not saying divorce isn't hard. I'm not saying it isn't great that she got through it. I just found this book so self indulgent, bordering on self obsessed. I found Gilbert's occasional attempts at modesty to be insincere and see-through. I'm also terrible at swallowing hippy dippy delusions of "meetings" with God. I found the entire passage about her ascending to heaven and how she "understood the entire universe" particularly grinding. Do explain the universe to the rest of us mere mortals, then, Elizabeth. Please.
BUT - I really liked the first section of the book, "Eat", in which she explores Italy and describes all the amazing food that she indulged in. Because I like food. Even if I'm just imagining it. However, when the story landed in India it quickly went downhill. The Italy section was not enough to redeem the rest of what followed. Which means 2/3 of this novel were insufferable. I'm giving the two stars to the amazing food she ate, and Gilbert's very occasional wit. ...more
Though The Golem and the Jinni isn't really that long of a book, it reads as though it is. I'm usually a pretty quick reader, but I found that when IThough The Golem and the Jinni isn't really that long of a book, it reads as though it is. I'm usually a pretty quick reader, but I found that when I was reading TG&TJ, when I felt as though I'd read 10 pages, in reality I'd only have made it through something like 3. On top of (or perhaps because of?) that, I found that the plot could really drag for long periods of time, with very little actually happening, despite a lingering hope that something is about to shake the world up. I think the narrative could have been edited down a bit more and maybe paced a bit better.
That being said, the premise of this book was brilliant. I really liked the characters, the history, the cultures, the fantasy, the fairy-tale elements and the overarching plot line. I liked the way Helene Wecker wove her characters into a web of connections that felt real. And I loved the way the ending tied everything up. The conclusion was interesting, unpredictable and most importantly, satisfying. (Whilst, of course, leaving room for a sequel... when you're playing with immortal characters the possibilities are endless).
(view spoiler)[I also liked the very slow and natural way that the romance between Chava and Ahmad developed. I really didn't know whether or not they would end up that way (and honestly didn't care, they had a great dynamic just as friends), but when they got there it didn't feel rushed. It was a real love that had been built on a long and interesting friendship. That's not something you read every day. (hide spoiler)]
And can we just talk about how great this would be as a movie? The filler would have to be cut down, but the story and characters are very translatable to film. I can imagine a dark and fantastical old New York. I can see creepy old Schaalman, eyes aglow. I can see them giving Sophia a bigger part, making her a little more sassy. And some real life Aladdin would play Ahmad. I would watch that. I would like it.
Overall? I would recommend TG&TJ to people who have an attention span when it comes to reading, but not to someone who struggles with long books or slow-burning plots. I think it's a great transitioning book for people who are interested in fantasy but don't want to dive all the way into some monstrous series.
Good characters, good atmosphere, good read....more
People keep calling this book funny. I didn't find this book remotely funny. There were maybe two points where I actually laughed, and they weren't atPeople keep calling this book funny. I didn't find this book remotely funny. There were maybe two points where I actually laughed, and they weren't at points that were written to be intentionally humorous. Which is saying something, because about 90% of this book was written with the intention of being humorous. It's very American comedy, and that was probably why I didn't like it. It felt forced and over-the-top. Like a Disney sitcom aimed at early teens.
I found the narrator, Greg, to be very frustrating. Ironically, I struggled to identify with a character so selfish and cut off from his own emotions that he was blind to the feelings of others around him. His social interactions were excruciating to read through. I'm sure the author fully intended for this to happen; he wanted a flawed character at the center of the narrative. Someone that contrasted the saintly characters that are found in typical cancer stories. I get that. I appreciate it for what it is. But I didn't enjoy it. I was so sick of reading self-depreciating and over dramatic comments by the end of this novel.
The rest of the characters kind of hovered dully in the background. Including the "Dying Girl", Rachel.
The concept was great and I liked that it wasn't a typical cancer story. But it just wasn't a story I liked, regardless.
The Mary Poppins complete collection is a rollercoaster ride of a book. It features one of my most beloved characters, Mary Poppins, who is3.5 Stars.
The Mary Poppins complete collection is a rollercoaster ride of a book. It features one of my most beloved characters, Mary Poppins, who is so unique and so interesting to read about. It features a family that you grow more and more infatuated with as the chapters progress.
It also has a host of side characters that vary from the mildly interesting to bland recurring nuisances. By the end of the novel I was just about ready to crack it every time Fred the Park Keeper appeared on the page. The same goes for the Policeman and Admiral Boom. Sadly, when it comes to the shortcomings of these stories, dull and repetitious characters are the just the tip of the iceberg.
Between the magical and intriguing gems that can be found throughout the six Mary Poppins books, there happens to be a lot of boring, repetitive filler that P. L. Travers regurgitated onto the page over and over again. For instance...
How many magical old women will sell the children something that is more than it seems? Over the course of the first three novels we met Mrs. Corry with her gingerbread stars, The Balloon Woman with her personalized flying balloons, and Miss Calico, with her peppermint sticks that are actually flying horses (written remarkably similar to the balloon story...)
How many times will the children sneak out at night to find some congregation of magical people and/or creatures in the park or elsewhere? - The first novel had the giant zoo party (ending in a dance). - The second novel had the constellation circus (ending in a dance). - The third novel featured both the magical gathering of sea creatures (ending in a dance) and the book characters and toys of the world congregating in the park (of course, ending in a dance). - The fourth novel contains a party, in the park, consisting of peoples' escaped shadows. (Guess what? They dance.)
How many quirky relatives of Mary Poppins have a curse that activates on a certain kind of day? - There's the lovable Uncle Arthur Wigg, who laughs himself to the ceiling every time his birthday falls on a Friday. He has a grumpy housekeeper who is shocked to witness this phenomenon. - There's Mr. Turvey, whose world is turned upside down on the second Monday of the month. He has a grumpy housekeeper who is shocked to witness this phenomenon. Though she distinguishes herself from the others by accepting it and having a change of temperament. - We're then introduced to Mr. Fred Twigley, Mary's cousin, whose wishes come true so long as it is "the first New Moon after the Second Wet Sunday, after the Third of May." He has a grumpy housekeeper intent on marrying him. She knows about his wishes, but is shocked when he uses them to spin her in a jewelry box. She wanted him to give her a golden castle. - In the fourth book we meet Mary's other cousin, Mr. Mo, who is not cursed, but does somehow live in a plasticine park. And he's struggling with a grumpy woman demanding to be his wife. She wants him to build her a castle. Wait, wait, I've heard this one before...
And of course there's the chapters in which the children behave badly on a particular day of the week and are taught a lesson by being dragged into some magical world (alone), only to be saved by Mary Poppins at the last minute. Bad Tuesday, Bad Wednesday, Lucky Thursday... though at least these differ to some degree in the foes the children are made to face.
Then there's the typical filler chapter of each novel, in which P. L. Travers, bored of her usual characters, attempts to tell a fairy tale. These are by far my least favourite part of each Mary Poppins novel. The loveable characters you've grown accustom to are replaced by dull, limited-time-only, types. The Dancing Cow, Robertson Ay's Story, The Cat That Looked At A King, and Every Goose A Swan, in each of the four novels respectively. All left me rather unimpressed and impatient to get to the next chapter.
Each book inevitably includes some mention of stars, constellations and figures of Greek/Roman mythology. This didn't bother me so much, as each time it was approched in a different way. A child Christmas shopping, a trip into space, a statue coming to life and a Midsummer's Eve excursion to collect herbs. It was well done.
If I have children one day, I'm sure I'll read them these stories. But I'll break it up one chapter at a time, with other books in between. Because I honestly don't know how children could stay focused on characters that never develop, and chapters that drag on an on about something alarmingly similar to something they read a week before.
Despite it all, I still enjoyed this collection. In fact, I loved certain parts, and found it captured my imagination. But... overall? I just plain liked it. Had it not been stuffed full with so much filler, it would have been four stars. Sadly, there were just too many bland characters and chapters to save the good parts....more