Until 3/4s of the way through this novel, I was into it. There was an intriguing crime, some interesting suspects, and cops who behaved in a smart manUntil 3/4s of the way through this novel, I was into it. There was an intriguing crime, some interesting suspects, and cops who behaved in a smart manner.
Then came the final 1/4 -- which was, in a word, disappointing. Without giving too much away, Maeve Kerrigan, the main character, gets shunted to the side at a very key moment. Seriously, she's been smart and active up until this VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT and then BOOOOOM! She's taken out of commission and her handsome, male co-worker gets the glory (and a strange I-need-to-get-certain-information-across POV chapter). Essentially, she's reduced to a damsel in distress, at the point when she's supposed to be the hero.
It's rather disappointing, considering the lead-up.
Then it happens again.
At another key moment -- when they find the big bad guy (thanks to Kerrigan's top-notch detective work, which makes you think that maybe she'd have some kind of influence on the catching of said baddy) she's relegated to the background AGAIN. The bad guy basically monologues like nothing else (after being confronted by another handsome male character and some evidence) and the whole thing ends rather disappointingly.
There's a lot of good stuff here, but it all gets dropped in the last little bit, which is very frustrating when you've come to understand that this is the opening book of a series featuring Maeve Kerrigan -- who is well worth getting behind. It's really kind of a shame that the storyline drops her so heavily. ...more
Now, I don't like to psychoanalyze writers based on their novels -- but this one strikes me as Galbraith/Rowling going "I'm gonna kill someone so violNow, I don't like to psychoanalyze writers based on their novels -- but this one strikes me as Galbraith/Rowling going "I'm gonna kill someone so violently that no one could possibly remember I wrote the bestsellingest children's series of all time."
Because the murder in this one -- it's gruesome. Wonderfully so. And grossly so.
There are only two things keeping me from rating this a full-out five stars:
1. I kept falling asleep. And it has nothing to do with anything being boring or off-pace. I think it has everything to do with Cormoran being so exhausted in the early chapters. He's barely slept. He talks about how achy he is and now he's got this gory murder to solve. He wants to sleep so badly that I think it made me tired. So I didn't read this as quickly as I've read the others.
2. For about the last eighth of the book, Cormoran knows whodunit -- he even tells his intrepid sidekick/assistant Robin who it is -- but not the reader. There's about twenty pages of obnoxious card-holding. And there aren't really any extra clues after that, so you kinda want to go back and re-read what you've read to see if you can make an educated guess before the big reveal -- which you know will be coming any minute because the narrative practically screams "You'll know who it is any minute now! Just not now! But in a minute!" Which is no fun.
But it's still awesome. There's a lot of novelist talk, which is fun coming from the bestsellingest novelist ever. ...more
The Henry plays -- and a great deal of Shakespeare's history plays -- were written prior to 1594. These are Shakespeare's early attempts and a lot ofThe Henry plays -- and a great deal of Shakespeare's history plays -- were written prior to 1594. These are Shakespeare's early attempts and a lot of critics have pointed out: it shows.
Henry VI, Pt 2, is definitely rough. There are a crap-ton of characters, some of whom only show up once for a couple lines and then disappear. In a production of these plays, a lot of these roles would be doubled-up. The result is a somewhat chaotic read, though I bet it's much easier to follow on stage.
All I really have to say about this play is: Early Shakespeare is Still Shakespeare!
And I think Shakespeare might've missed his true calling: dark-Kill-Bill-style comedy.
Yes, I think Shakespeare and Quentin Tarantino should get together. Wait, scratch that. They'd never shut up so they'd never get anything done. Both are kind of long winded.
However! Jack Cade, the badass-but-not-too-bright leader of the rebels, who appears near the end of the play, is the epitome of a Tarantino talky-crazed bad guy. He makes decapitated heads kiss each other. He kills people for calling him the wrong name. He proclaims random laws. His scenes are straight out of Pulp Fiction. It's a good thing Shakespeare didn't have access to needles. (Or, maybe, a bad thing.)
Some of that shit was so disturbing I laughed out loud.
Do the nobles plot for an unreasonable amount of time? Yes. Is it sometimes difficult to follow characters and their motivations? Sometimes. Yes.
But I liked it way more than I thought I would. ...more
My guess is that "Gentlemen" is Shakespearean code for "Buttheads." Because The Two Buttheads of Verona fits the story much better.
And the story is tMy guess is that "Gentlemen" is Shakespearean code for "Buttheads." Because The Two Buttheads of Verona fits the story much better.
And the story is this: two friends, Proteus and Valentine, are bros for life. Proteus is in love with Julia and refuses to go out into the world to make his fortune until his daddy makes him. Off Proteus goes to join Valentine, who in the meantime has fallen for Silvia.
Unfortunately for Julia, Proteus decides that Silvia is pretty hot.
Therefore he decides to throw over both his best bud and his fiancee. He betrays their elopement plan to Silvia's Duke of a father and gets Valentine exiled, Silvia stuck, and Julia (who has decided to dress up like a page in order to get near her wayward fiance) in the cold.
Proteus is a jerk. Even his servant, Lance says "I think my master is something of a knave." No sh*t.
Did I mention the classic Shakespeare speech on "No doesn't really mean no"? You'll find it here!
(view spoiler)[Anyhoo -- Valentine and Proteus make up and become bros again. Valentine even offers to let Silvia marry Proteus. But Proteus apparently grows some kind of heart in the quickest monologue Shakespeare's ever written and that paragon of manhood decides that Julia -- even dressed as a boy -- is a-okay by him. Valentine gets to 'keep' Silvia and Julia -- that lucky duck -- gets to be with Proteus. Happy Ending All Around! (hide spoiler)]
The only reason I'm giving this two stars and not flushing it down some sewer bank is because you can see the bits that lead to some of his better, more well-rounded, works later on. And because one of the monologues was used in Shakespeare in Love. ...more
Liam Neeson was born to play Titus -- Taken has nothing on the revenge porn that this is.
The plot boils down to an escalation between Titus, who starLiam Neeson was born to play Titus -- Taken has nothing on the revenge porn that this is.
The plot boils down to an escalation between Titus, who starts off the whole thing by conquering the Goths and capturing Tamora, their queen. To prove a point, he kills her eldest son. Tamora, not one to be outdone, wriggles her way into the cozy position of Roman Empress and proceeds to f*** up everything Titus loves.
It just gets worse from there.
What I love about this is that no one is likable, with the possible exception of Lavinia who bears way more than a human being should. The fact that everyone is a punk makes the (very, very) extreme violence of this particular piece more bearable. Seriously, you're cheering on the death and dismemberment because these people are JERKS.
But my favorite bit about this is Tamora. She's a supervillain who makes me think of a more human Iago. She's passionate and hateful. It's mind-boggling how hateful she is. Though...considering the good guys are complete monsters...I don't know how she could be anything but. ...more
Gah! This one is tough -- just reading it, you really wanna slap Shakespeare across the face and scream, "Tame this, beyotch!"
However, there's a lotGah! This one is tough -- just reading it, you really wanna slap Shakespeare across the face and scream, "Tame this, beyotch!"
However, there's a lot of room for actors to interpret things throughout, which possibly makes it less about 'taming' and more about creating a crazed team of madness between Petruccio and Katherine -- together they inflict more damage on the world than either of them singly. But it's all in how the performers choose to play it. The text is less forgiving if you take it at face value.
I mean, the title gives it all away. It's not "Learning to Get Along as Equals with the Shrew."
It's tough for me, because both of the main characters in the central plot are abusive punks (Kate, for example, ties her sister up and slaps her around)...but Petruccio, as the man of the times, has all of the cards. There's nothing for Katherine to defend herself with -- he's in charge of all the servants, the money, the food, everything. You know how they say the strongest tool of a abuser is isolation? Well, this is the perfect example of that. At the first opportunity, Petruccio pulls Katherine away from her family (first opportunity = right before the wedding feast). He even takes away her name:
Petruccio: Good morrow, Kate, for that's your name I hear.
Katherine: Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing. They call me Katherine that do speak of me.
Petruccio: You lie, in faith, for you are called plain Kate, And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst, But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom...
Ain't no one else calls her "Kate."
But it's still hilarious.
And her sister, Bianca, never gives up her autonomy. So the 'shrew' isn't the stand-up woman, it's her sister, who does it quietly but with just as much fervor. Soooo...does that mean there is a balance?!
Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram are no Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy.
For me, it was really hard to get behind a relationship that basically boils dWell.
Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram are no Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy.
For me, it was really hard to get behind a relationship that basically boils down to a weird father/daughter dynamic. Repeatedly it's stated that Edmund had so much to do with 'forming Fanny's opinions.' I can run with that. Times were different, after all.
But! the fact that most of those 'opinions' revolve around passing judgment on others' lack of judgment or moral turpitude makes for a preachy read -- especially with Edmund becoming, basically, a preacher. Unfortunately, all of the charm and wit in this Austen novel go to the 'bad guys.' I found myself cheering more heavily for Miss Mary Crawford and her wayward brother than for the two main characters.
I don't really have much to say other than that...and it's probably damning enough to say that a novel which revolves around a relationship doesn't present a fascinating relationship. So I won't say anymore.
It gets a star for being written by Austen (therefore it has never been out of print) and a star for the lovely description of English countryside customs and manners (and manor houses) even though everyone who lived in this particular English countryside was a judgmental punk. Other than that, I have to say I did not love this one. ...more
So this is classic Jane Austen genius. While the novel doesn't have the wittiness of Pride and Prejudice or the quirkiness of Emma I super-enjoyed thiSo this is classic Jane Austen genius. While the novel doesn't have the wittiness of Pride and Prejudice or the quirkiness of Emma I super-enjoyed this.
Anne Elliott is probably a too-long ignored heroine in Jane Austen's body of work. Quite frankly, she's the only one, aside from Elizabeth Bennett, who ends up speaking her mind and defending her position in a direct way -- and one of the only heroines who doesn't receive a 'lesson' from her leading man.
One particular section involves Anne discussing the question of enduring love: Who is more likely to love longer/deeper -- men or women?
At one point the gentleman with whom Anne is discussing this pressing topic says, "Songs and proverbs all talk of women's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men."
To which Anne answers, "Perhaps I shall. -- Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been their in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything."
It's waaaaay too easy to suppose that Austen herself is speaking through her main character, but I totally buy that POV. The whole of Persuasion presents the motivations of one woman -- and her actions are not selfish, fickle, or illogical when viewed within the context of a woman's life. (In Jane Austen's time.) I think this novel presents an important argument, and Austen presents that argument clearly, with very few frills or embellishments. ...more
I'm probably forgiving of this novel because I've loved everything I've read of Sophie Kinsella. In general, I've found her heroines spunky, somewhatI'm probably forgiving of this novel because I've loved everything I've read of Sophie Kinsella. In general, I've found her heroines spunky, somewhat flighty, but really lovable.
And Rebecca Bloomwood, the heroine of the Shopaholic series, reads like the prototype of Kinsella's later characters. She's spunky but that comes out a little late in the story. She's flighty - waaaay more flighty than what I'm used to with Kinsella's gals. And she's lovable, but only because she's kind of pitiable as well. So, in this book, it seems like the balance of spunky/flighty/lovable hasn't quite been developed.
While I found the amount of shopping exhausting (really, I was sympathetically physically tired), I appreciated the energy that Rebecca had. I also liked that she had friends who were tolerant - and shared - her love of things...it actually made her less superficial (to me) that she had loving friends who were also a little crazed about labels.
Probably what saved this book for me was the fact that it's the beginning of a series and I've read Kinsella's other work. This is a great start-of-series because the character has so much room to grow. She started a *tiny* bit in this story and you can just bet that her charm will grow throughout the series. Rather than putting the book down and being satisfied with the ending presented, I was hopeful and wanted to read the rest of the series just to see what happened to Rebecca.
"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
I think the first book review of the year should set the tone for the rest of the year. And what better way to start the year 2013 than reading and reviewing the book that has everything? In fact, it has so much of everything that I used every single one of my shelves to label it. I'm pretty sure that I'm still short a couple subjects.
Sure, I could've been reading Anna Karenina and learning about Imperial Russia with the rest of my book group instead of learning about the present American stuff I already know. But since my reading goal this year is 100 books - which is like reading everything - I should start my odyssey with the book that has everything. Everything American, that is. Anna Karenina just has affairs and trains and Keira Knightly and other stuff.
Tolstoy's book doesn't have anything that Colbert's book doesn't have.
Anna Karenina has extramarital affairs: America Again has illicit relations between politicians and food.
Anna Karenina has people who hate their jobs: America Again has resume how-tos.
Anna Karenina has 2-D: America Again has 3-D.
Anna Karenina has Siberia: America Again has North Dakota.
Anna Karenina was translated into English: America Again was written in American.
It's probably this last one where Tolstoy has managed to one-up Colbert. America Again has no, count them: none, award winning translators. We're just expected to understand paragraphs like: "But the Real Question is: are America's best days behind us? Of course they are, and always have been. We have the greatest history in the history of History. But never forget, our best days are also ahead of us, and always will be. Because America also has the Greatest Future in the history of the Future. It's our Present that's the problem...and always is be."
I mean, Colbert began two sentences in that paragraph with But. And fragments. You just don't do that. A good translator would've saved him some face-saving. ...more