The review on the front cover says "one of America's most prickly, and most delicious, young comic talents", and Sedaris definitely has no problem bei...moreThe review on the front cover says "one of America's most prickly, and most delicious, young comic talents", and Sedaris definitely has no problem being prickly to show the stupidity of people. Although the stories are unconnected, the common theme was people who won't see their own problems because they're too busy blaming or criticizing others. His characters are ridiculously flawed, and at times it's really funny. It's also a bit infuriating, since it hits so close to real life and people I interact with.
This was an odd collection of shorts, very hit and miss. There were several times the book made me laugh out loud, which isn't very common, but there were also entire stories that just left me feeling kinda sad. They were all 1st person, and I think the longest was about 35 pages. Clever stuff, and very funny in many spots, but sometimes less entertaining that I'd have liked. I'd be interested in reading something longer by him.(less)
When I spent a couple months in Arizona, Wonka showed me a book called The Zombie Survival Guide. It was written as a handbook, with no tongue-in-chee...moreWhen I spent a couple months in Arizona, Wonka showed me a book called The Zombie Survival Guide. It was written as a handbook, with no tongue-in-cheek tone, of what to do in various environments and situations in the event of a zombie attack. Cute idea, I even thought about picking it up. But when Wonka loaned me a full-on novel by the same guy, I was in. I'd never read a zombie book before, despite my love of horror. It seemed very limited to me, but I thought I'd give it a shot, and I'm really glad I did. Brooks manages to include a lot of subtlety for a genre known for its conspicuousness. The book is framed as a series of interviews with survivors from around the world. The "editor" arranged the descriptions so they're in chronological order, and it nicely forms a cohesive story. But, I think more importantly, Brooks manages to capture some of the social commentary of Romero's original films -- and he often does an even better job of it. Highly recommended for fans of zombies, but even more so for fans of statements on the human animal.(less)
This was very chaotic. There. I said it, it's out there, now we can move past that, okay? :)
I remember loving the Hitchhiker series, although I rememb...moreThis was very chaotic. There. I said it, it's out there, now we can move past that, okay? :)
I remember loving the Hitchhiker series, although I remember them being hit and miss. I also remember loving both Dirk Gently books. The first book was a little scattered, but it was funny and overall it was fun. But this one...it was just a little too much work trying to keep track of unraveling plot threads. I dunno, maybe Pratchett ruined Adams for me.
Having said that, it was still funny, I still like Gently as a character, and once the plot finally became clear I thought it was cute. I wish it hadn't been so much work to get there, but I still enjoyed this. Not a favorite, but I had fun.
And I'm still looking forward to The Salmon of Doubt.(less)
As the Dresden series has progressed, Butcher has moved it further into the fantasy realm and further out of mystery. Oh, it still has that noir feel...moreAs the Dresden series has progressed, Butcher has moved it further into the fantasy realm and further out of mystery. Oh, it still has that noir feel I enjoy so much, but this book (and the fourth book to a lesser extent) solves the whodunnit early on and moves to action, character development, and furthering the overarching plot. That makes these more mature works of fiction, and could explain why the books move from 300+ to 500+ pages each.
While Death Masks still has Harry's dry sarcasm, it really had a darker tone than the prior books. Where before Harry would get the crap kicked out of him fairly often, this book instead turned to soul searching and introspection. It also had more action than the prior volumes, since Harry had less time needed to recuperate.
The conflict with the Red Court of vampires continues, as does Harry's cooperation with Michael and his order of holy Knights. The baddies are getting badder, and the plots are getting harder to stop -- this time it involves recovering the stolen Shroud of Turin, so it throws a touch of real-world theology into the mix. I dunno how long Butcher can keep this up, but I like.(less)
I read this along with Death: The High Cost of Living, and they were both kinda disappointing. Not bad, well-done in fact, but they felt lik...more2.5 stars:
I read this along with Death: The High Cost of Living, and they were both kinda disappointing. Not bad, well-done in fact, but they felt like the in-between stories from the middle of the Sandman arc.
Despite the interesting insights into Death, there were few supernatural elements to these tales. These were really just dramas; one was a story of love gone wrong, the other was the tale of a kid trying to find meaning in his life. That second tale is by far the more supernatural of the two, but even then it has the feel of a mundane adventure rather than fantasy, and not an outstanding one at that.
This book was recommended by a co-worker, and I loved it. I was hoping for a thriller, and there's very little action in this book, but it's a wonderf...moreThis book was recommended by a co-worker, and I loved it. I was hoping for a thriller, and there's very little action in this book, but it's a wonderful mystery. When I read this, I still hadn't read DaVinci Code, but this reminded me of James Rollins' Map of Bones.
The Rule of Four is based on a real-life book called the Hypnerotomachia (say THAT three times fast!), a book from the Middle Ages which is so dense, so complex, that the first English translation ever was made in 1999. The fact that a real book like this exists is just crazy to me; I'm completely fascinated by the fact that there's really a book that has completely and utterly baffled scholars for centuries.
Oh yeah, back to my review. :-) Rule of Four is well-written, and there are many quotable-quotes. The characters are likable and well fleshed-out, with complex motives and hang-ups. The mystery is wonderful, but don't plan on figuring it out unless you're a big art history buff. (less)
Even the best of authors must have a bad day from time to time, and I found this to be Vonnegut's. This still definitely has his style, his prose, and...moreEven the best of authors must have a bad day from time to time, and I found this to be Vonnegut's. This still definitely has his style, his prose, and his wit. But this really just meandered about from one unlikeable character to another. I think part of this was intentional, but that didn't make it an enjoyable read.
The lead in the story is Eliot Rosewater, the last in a line of direct descendants of a huge legacy. He's become a philanthropist, much to his family's chagrin. But he's also a drunk and a delusional man who does as much harm as good in the world. He's a likable character, and I think if the story had followed him it would have worked for me. But instead it talks about his father's life, then his estranged wife's life, then the life of the next in line for inheritance, then the lawyer who wants to bring the whole fortune down, then the life of this guy he met in a shop...it just doesn't read like a cohesive story. It reads like a set of loosely connected short stories, which would be fine if the short stories stood on their own, but they don't.
Like I said, this still screamed Vonnegut in style, characterization, etc. It wasn't for me, but it also doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for this amazing talent. 6 wonderful books compared to 1 bad one is a darn good record.(less)
It's hard to rate a self-help book. As a writer, Mr Carr leaves a lot to be desired. But there's no doubt that his method works, so I give that 5 star...moreIt's hard to rate a self-help book. As a writer, Mr Carr leaves a lot to be desired. But there's no doubt that his method works, so I give that 5 stars. Like a lot of smokers, I've stopped and restarted several times over the years, but quitting was never easier than this time.
Carr says that he quit by using hypnosis, and then tried to figure out why that worked. What he discovered was that hypnosis undid the brainwashing that our culture has built up around smoking, the benefits we get from it, and the difficulties with quitting. So he wrote the book to do the same thing, and it definitely works.
Now, Carr's writing is repetitive, clumsy, and slightly preachy (I'd give his writing 2 stars). But who reads a self-help book for the writing quality? I very rarely have any cravings at all, and even then they're barely noticeable, even if I'm drinking. I really have no desire to start again, which I could never say before.
I'm gonna average the 2 ratings as a 4 (since his method really works!). Highly recommended if you really wanna quit.(less)
For my first Vonnegut short story collection, I decided to read the first collection he released. Truth be told, it's hard to get ahold of, so I actua...moreFor my first Vonnegut short story collection, I decided to read the first collection he released. Truth be told, it's hard to get ahold of, so I actually read the same stories in Welcome To The Monkey House, where all but one of the tales were included. But I originally planned on reading that extra story via the library, and still might someday.
I any event, this was classic Vonnegut (again). I was really impressed by the depth he was able to pack into each of these shorts. I could have definitely enjoyed any of them in an expanded form, but never felt like they needed to be longer. Great stuff, highly recommended (as always!).(less)
The final book in the Riftwar Saga was a little disappointing. While the 2nd half really picked up (and rocked!), the first half spent a lot of time o...moreThe final book in the Riftwar Saga was a little disappointing. While the 2nd half really picked up (and rocked!), the first half spent a lot of time on matters of court & battle descriptions, and these are the things that bore me. I may be the only one out there who fast-forwards through the big battles in LotR & the Matrix films, but I do. Big battles just don't have the immediacy of smaller fights. The last couple battles of the 1st half of Darkness somehow captured that urgency...maybe it was the hopelessness of the situation. I also think this book suffered from dividing the action among two groups. The earlier novels had a large ensemble cast, with several groups each pursuing their own plots to achieve the same goal. This book was almost exclusively covering two groups, with some major characters from earlier books getting scant to little coverage.
But the second half of this book just rocked. It combined the big, high-magic, epic portions of the earlier books of the series with the urgency and secrecy that made Silverthorn so good. I think most people would enjoy this novel as a whole better than I did, but I still definitely found it enjoyable and worth reading. Not as good as Silverthorn, but definitely worth wading through the battles for.(less)
I prefer horror/thrillers to techno/thrillers, but the couple I've read by Lincoln Child are pretty good. This one's about a very hi-tech theme park,...moreI prefer horror/thrillers to techno/thrillers, but the couple I've read by Lincoln Child are pretty good. This one's about a very hi-tech theme park, with holograms, robots, etc. that's attacked by a terrorist-type group. I would've preferred monster attacks to rides and robots going wrong, but this was still a very fun read.
I've been told that Lincoln Child is the talented writer of the Preston/Child duo, and based on the 2 books I've read by him, I'd agree. Someday I'll have to read a Douglas Preston solo book for myself, but for now I've got another Child solo novel, as well as a handful of Preston/Child novels to go. And that makes me happy. :-)(less)