I was so excited to read this because of all the buzz it was getting. It also started to show up on lots of year end lists. So we finally bought out oI was so excited to read this because of all the buzz it was getting. It also started to show up on lots of year end lists. So we finally bought out own copy if it. I tried so hard to love this. But I ended up being so disappointed. :(
This book literally tells two different, parallel stories that take place during World War II in France and Germany. The Paris story is about a blind girl who has to escape from her home town and who experiences life in the nazi occupation. The Germany story is about a boy who goes to a school where he is being trained to be a nazi but experiences mixed feelings about it.
And that is essentially the plot in its entirety. I have definitely enjoyed character driven stories in the last, but I can't say this is what this was. I thought of this almost as a setting driven story. The writing in this book was gorgeous! So the way the author described scenes was truly beautiful. In fact, the very first page/chapter is just a paragraph and drew me in because of the writing. I just felt that the other aspects were lacking to the point that I rarely had the desire to pick the book back up. The other thing I found somewhat bothersome was that most chapters were extremely short and since they alternated between the two stories it felt disjointed, even though the concept of alternating chapters has never bothered me before. And just as an FYI, the two story lines intersect only slightly and not until at least 400 pages in the book.
So in summary, All The Light We Cannot See is beautifully imagined, but there was nothing in the story or characters that made me want to read more. I finished this one for the sake of finishing it.
Jason and I chose Frankenstein as our Halloween/October/Fall read-a-long this year. (I read the signet classic mass market paperback version picturedJason and I chose Frankenstein as our Halloween/October/Fall read-a-long this year. (I read the signet classic mass market paperback version pictured at the top, but Jason read a really nice hardcover that included illustrations which is pictured on the right).
Overall, it was just okay. It certainly was not one of the scariest books ever, as many lists online try to say. Maybe in 1818 the thought of it was scary. I think maybe the theme itself was sort of scary, more so than the actual plot. The theme being how sometimes we get carried away and the decisions we make will haunt us and create horrible consequences.
In case you weren't aware of the origin of this story, Victor Frankenstein is a scientist who decides he can create a living creature, so he toils away in his laboratory until he creates a living being. This creature, who remains nameless, (yes, Frankenstein refers only to the scientist who created the monster), is a gruesome being who scares people in his image alone and whose actions taunt Frankenstein.
This was a pretty sluggish read. Even though it was less than 250 pages, and even though the story itself is interesting enough, it was so drawn out and could have used some editing... Part of this is that it was written in 1818 and maybe that's just how people talked?? (The story is all told in first person, though there are a few different narrators)... but I've read other older classics and didn't always feel this way. I wanted to shout at it to "move on already!" Jason felt the same way. It became a running joke that we each had to sit down and push on through. In fact, the last night I was reading it I only had about seven pages left and just could not stay awake for them, and it felt like it took me forever the next morning to finish those pages!
I mentioned earlier that parts of it were so ridiculous. Frankenstein is considered one of the first science fiction novels ever written. But the science fiction part of it, such as when the monster is created, had me laughing with the lack of reality. Whereas nowadays, even a fictional story would have to have some type of rationality that even if unreal makes sense in the story, in Frankenstein, it was more like... he wanted to create a living being, so he worked hard in his laboratory, and voila! a monster is made! Many parts of the book lacked the kind of detail and polish that could have more thoroughly illustrated the scene; this is despite feeling in other ways that the book was sluggish with over narration.
All that being said, Frankenstein really wasn't horrible... it is just definitely outdated. It was still interesting to read the origin of the story that has become so well known today. I won't even say that I would never read it again... I do think that talking about the themes of the book etc. would make it a good group read. And with Jason and I reading it together, there were many times we were able to talk about the plot and laugh at something ridiculous or be confused together about when something happened or exclaim at a plot point together. It was also very interesting to see how the modern interpretation of Frankenstein differs so dramatically from the original one created by Mary Shelley. Jason feels that reading the illustrated version improved his experience of the book, though that one is a heavy copy so you would need to plan on keeping that one at home!
I had heard of The Sparrow once or twice before and knew it to be highly underrated (in terms of how well known and popular it was) and heard it was aI had heard of The Sparrow once or twice before and knew it to be highly underrated (in terms of how well known and popular it was) and heard it was amazing and life changing. (Read the reviews on any site... you'll find mostly 5 star reviews all touting similar reactions). So with the recent read-a-long hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter, Insanity, and my recent desire to jump back into blogging and reconnecting with the book blogging world, I decided to join right in. I have very mixed thoughts after reading this. First let me explain briefly what it's about as well as any confusion you may have at reading the genre categories!
The basic plot is about the Jesuit Society hearing alien transmissions from another planet, so they send a team to investigate and learn about what other possible life forms there are. Bad things happen there, though, and only one person returns to Earth where he is interrogated, questioned, judged, etc. The narration flips back and forth from the current time (year 2060) after Emilio Sandoz has returned and from 2016-2019 when this mission started. The flip flopping of the narration adds to the tension because you know something horrible happened and just a little about it and the other narration builds to that end we're all trying to figure out.
This was a heavy book to read -- dense in its 405 pages. It was actually more engaging than I expected it to be in a lot of ways. But I can see where a lot of readers felt the middle dragged.. but I think it's not that it dragged but that it's that the focus was on the life found on the other planet, Rakhat. I felt like I learned. SO. MUCH.... only it is all fiction, LOL. I don't read a whole lot of scf-fi or fantasy so I may just not be used to how the genre works, but I don't remember in the few things I have read of having to focus as much on specifically learning the terms, the cultural factors, etc. as opposed to learning it indirectly through the movement of the story itself. The reason for all that here was because the main characters' purpose in going to this world WAS to learn these things, so part of moving the story along, I suppose, was learning and explaining these things. How their language works. Why they speak the way they do. What their culture is like. How it operates economically. I just sort of felt like maybe it was a bit much... maybe I just feel guilty that I can tell you so much about the Runa and Jana'ata and Ruanja and K'San and Kashan and Supaari VaGayjur and spacial observation vs. non-visual etc. etc. but I'm still working on understanding a lot of real life things in history and current events.... LOL!! It also took me about 1/2 to 3/4 of the book to really start to connect to most of the characters.
The other thing is that I expected to find some great insights into faith and related philosophy and, for me, it wasn't as significant as I thought it would be. I did take away some thoughtful little nuggets. But I guess I had just expected more and wanted it to be life changing for me too. That being said, I also think that there is a lot to talk about and I think that after discussing things with other readers I would maybe come away with more. There were horrific things in this book and some of it did seem extreme. I understand that the extreme nature was maybe necessary to emphasize the point of Emilio's bitterness, but yikes! There was one part that did make me cry having to do with one of the kids on Rakhat. I usually consider something in a book affecting me like that as a good thing.
So for these reasons, I was pretty torn and had mixed thoughts after finishing the book. The book itself was good... yes, and overall I did enjoy reading it. But I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. Only to those who very genuinely have an interest in this book and topic. I have found in reading the reviews on the book sites that this is one of those books people either LOVE or HATE. Obviously, I don't fall into either extreme, I seem to be the exception! There is a sequel, Children of God. I am curious what happens, but I'm feeling so/so about reading it again. Then again, I did invest all that time in learning about that world so maybe I should go for it. :)
And just an interesting thought I had while reading this; in some ways, this reminded me of State of Wonder by Ann Patchett which I loved. They're both about traveling to a foreign environment for research and controversial issues about the culture that is encountered. Anyway, just had to throw that in there!
My husband and I chose this as the audio to listen to on our recent road trip to North Carolina. We ended up not listening to audio much on the trip bMy husband and I chose this as the audio to listen to on our recent road trip to North Carolina. We ended up not listening to audio much on the trip but enough to finish it a few days after we got home. B. J. Novack is one of the writers and producers of the show, The Office, so if you're into that quirky, sometimes absurd, always silly comedy, you may enjoy this book of "short stories". That being said, it's misleading to call these short stories. It's more a book of humorous stories... the lengths of some would definitely warrant a typical short story; many were extremely short (like a couple sentences, if that) and, to me, were more of just jokes.
In all, there are more than 60 stories, though like I said, some are very short. The ones that weren't good were really "bleh"... but the good ones were hilarious. We laughed out loud listening to them, and we keep quoting some of the ones we really liked.
The best thing about the audio is the guest stars that narrate parts including Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, and Rainn Wilson who, you probably already know, were all in The Office. There was also Lena Dunham, Katy Perry, and Julianne Moore. I won't list them all but that was just some of them, and they all did great.
One of my favorite stories was the first one, The Rematch, which was a continuation of the Tortoise and the Hare story. We have fun quoting this one part of that -- something the hare says to the tortoise which is ridiculous but which made both of us crack up. We loved The Girl Who Gave Great Advice (which Katy Perry helps narrate) and use phrases from that one all the time. Actually there were lots of other good ones like Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Bicycle, Constructive Criticism, and Discussion Questions at the end... Some weren't as funny but were good stories like The World's Biggest Rip Off which we both thought we had called but went in a different direction than expected. Some of the stories are funny but, at the same time, are sort of sad. Novack pokes mocks some things and pokes fun at a lot of things about our society and people.
So, while it wasn't completely even across the book, there were plenty of stories that kept us entertained. There were a couple crass moments, but overall I thought the humor was fairly clean.. (of course, there is the story about the warlord on a blind date and the one about a sex robot...) I would definitely recommend listening to this one on audio, though.
I have mixed feelings about The Three. It was creepy (good) but weird, enthralling but irritating, captTaken from my blog at www.takemeawayreading.com
I have mixed feelings about The Three. It was creepy (good) but weird, enthralling but irritating, captivating but repetitive. I was drawn to this one by the premise and my interest lately in scarier things. (It's like I'm a teenager again!... almost). Basically, four planes crash on the same day. There are no survivors except for three children. Before long, all these conspiracy theories arise about the kids. Are they a part of alien experiments? Are they a sign of the apocalypse? Large groups form that believe in each theory. The End Time Believers create a religious group called the "Pamelists" in honor of the one adult, Pam, who managed to send a partial message by phone before she passed. But as horrible as all this is, some of the people who are around the kids can't deny that there is something different about the kids who survived... but isn't that normal considering they've been through such a trauma??
I initially thought the way the story was told was clever and interesting: the entire book is basically the narrator's non-fiction book, Black Thursday: From Crash to Conspiracy, and is told through various (many, many) interviews that the "author" did. There are also chat room transcripts and magazine articles. While this was interesting at first it became way. too. much. These are the things that moved the story along, but I do think it could have done with moving a little faster because, as I mentioned earlier, it felt repetitive after a while. And by the end of the book, the last 75 pages or so, I had pretty much lost all interest.
On the other hand, I did find the book to be engaging. There was a lot of foreshadowing and just overall creepiness that made me want to read more. Even though it isn't really a scary book per se, there was one night when I didn't turn the light off when I went to sleep, because the whole things with the kids was creeping me out a little too much! The whole evangelist thing was funny but scary in a whole different way.
So, while I felt mixed emotions throughout the reading and after, I still think ultimately it was an interesting read and would still recommend it for maybe some fall/scary/Halloween themed reading. ...more
In 2007 I went to the theater and saw the then latest Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Zodiac. It was based onOriginally published at www.takemeawayreading.com
In 2007 I went to the theater and saw the then latest Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Zodiac. It was based on the true story of the Zodiac Murders in the 70's which I hadn't known anything about up until then, but it was interesting and the movie itself was really good. And then, coincidentally, I watched the movie again last month when a friend of mine was visiting because she hadn't seen it before and it was on Netflix. So I was super interested in this book when it came out. (And just a side note, the cover is so interesting. The front and back cover is a picture of the believed-to-be serial killer and the dust jacket is red and clear. My hubby is reading this one too, and he and I agreed to keep the dust jacket on while reading this, because I can't just have a large serial killer's face sitting around my house!)
Anyway, it took me a minute to get into the book, but then once I did it was hard to put down! One of the authors, Gary Stewart, was surprisingly reunited with his birth mother at the age of 39. This eventually led him to look more for his father. He started to find signs that his father may have been the infamous Zodiac killer of the 70's, so he continued to research it for the next twelve years and provides his evidence and reasoning for how he believes his father, Earl Van Best Jr. "Van", was this serial killer.
The book is broken up into three parts: first he writes about the history of the romance between Van and his mother and then the second two parts are about his investigation and when his father becomes the Zodiac. It was fascinating and, especially if you are into true crime, you will fly through it. I can't remember if the author's conclusions were the same as the movie's or not, but I feel like the movie thought it was someone else. It's convincing in the movie, but so is the book, so I'm not sure about all that. I do wish that the author would have mentioned the movie and his thoughts on that, since he was doing all his investigating already when the movie came out. But other than that and feeling like it ended somewhat abruptly, I really enjoyed this book. If nothing else, it is an interesting look at the factors that influenced the development of a possible serial killer....more