This was another book given to me by my dad so the only thing I knew about it beforehand was that it was a literary mystery. After having read a few sThis was another book given to me by my dad so the only thing I knew about it beforehand was that it was a literary mystery. After having read a few sillier mysteries recenty, filled with twist upon twist upon twist, I highly appreciated Bollen's well-developed characters, backdrops, and plot points.
The story follows an itinerant 18 (or 19?) year-old named Mills who makes his way from Modesto, California to NYC and follows a man named Paul to a small town off the Long Island Sound. There, he befriends Beth, an Orient native who spent the last decade or so in NYC but has since returned home to lead a quieter life with her artist husband. Bizarre things start to happen in town and Beth and Mills try their hands at sleuthing while many of the locals have their eyes set on Mills as the perp.
By the end, there were a few extra twists and turns I could have done without, but for the most part this was a very well-crafted story. One night, when I was already having a hard time falling asleep, I made the mistake of picking this book up and wound up reading a few hundred pages before being able to put it down again. Needless to say, I was not very awake the next day. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good mystery. I would not recommend this to anyone hoping to get anything done/sleep in the next few days...more
This book is 4.5 stars for me but I'm feeling generous so bumped it up to 5 instead of down to 4. It's not the best written book but I found it highlyThis book is 4.5 stars for me but I'm feeling generous so bumped it up to 5 instead of down to 4. It's not the best written book but I found it highly enjoyable and really had a hard time putting it down.
The book follows Wade, a young guy who escapes his depressing life in a post-apocalyptic world by entering the VR world of OASIS. There, players are able to go to school, meet up with other players, engage in quests, and travel to ridiculously cool planets all while hiding behind anonymous avatars. Jim Halliday, the creator of OASIS, has recently died and it turns out that before his death he created an incredibly complex game that only one player can win. Wade becomes one of many players who jumps into action. Things escalate really quickly and all the action, both in OASIS and in Wade's real world, move at a rapid pace.
This book is probably the geekiest thing I've ever read, and I've read the LOTR trilogy multiple times. Though it openly borrows from and relies heavily on 80s' video game and pop culture nostalgia, (and certainly nods to more recent works of science fiction and dystopian fiction), it has its own original flare. Imagine a sassier Hunger Games or fourth Harry Potter book.
It's especially fun to read considering how popular VR is becoming, particularly with the recent releases of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Perhaps it's only a matter of time until we level up from the book or audible versions to the Ready Player One VR experience. ...more
My dad gave me this book a few months ago so I didn't really know much about it going in other than that it would probably be good. Overall, I found iMy dad gave me this book a few months ago so I didn't really know much about it going in other than that it would probably be good. Overall, I found it highly enjoyable and beautifully written, though it didn't seem to have much of a plot or purpose.
The story is a biography of a fictional photographer, Amory Clay, who begins photographing socialites, moves on to fashion photography, and ultimately becomes a war photographer. Along the way, we meet the characters who help shape her career and witness the various long and short-lived relationships she has. The book includes many black and white photographs, intended to be taken from her different points of life, which enhances the feeling that Amory is a real person. I really liked Amory as a character and loved following her on her many adventures, from sneaking her camera into a brothel, to falling in love many times, to risking death or injury in order to get a good shot.
There were a couple issues I had with this book. One was that Boyd's attempt at a female voice were oftentimes awkward, especially when narrating her experiences with men and childbirth, and not fully successful. This didn't bother me through most of the book but there were a few cringeworthy spots where I thought, "I'm pretty sure that's not what a woman would have thought/said/reacted/done/felt in that situation." The other issue I have is that Boyd had this wonderful idea to honor many of the prominent female photographers of the 20th century with this book but doesn't make that apparent anywhere in the book. There was no foreword or afterword explaining where this idea came from, where the pictures came from, or why he'd thanked a series of photographers (both real and fictional) in the acknowledgments section. I had to search for reviews to find out that he'd wanted to share pieces of their journeys and that he'd found these photographs in junk shops and at yard sales. It left me feeling, "this is a really nice and well-told story but why should I care about this person?"
With all that said, this book was a solid four stars for me and I would gladly read something else by Boyd. ...more
I've been in the mood for some mindless thrillers and murder mysteries recently so decided to try out another Gillian Flynn book (the other one I've rI've been in the mood for some mindless thrillers and murder mysteries recently so decided to try out another Gillian Flynn book (the other one I've read being Gone Girl). Overall, I'd say it was fine, not great.
Flynn certainly seems to have that multiple perspectives, unlikeable characters, and never ending twists thing down to a science. This story is told from three perspectives throughout the book: Libby Day in the present, the sole survivor of a vicious series of murders in which her mother and two sisters are killed, Ben Day in the past, her brother who has been in jail for twenty plus years based on Libby's testimony that he committed the murders, and Patty Day in the past, Libby and Ben's mother, one of the three victims. Early in the book, Libby is confronted with a group of people that try to persuade her that her brother may be innocent, which leads her on a path of figuring out what happened all those years ago.
I'll admit, Flynn's style is addictive and page-turning. However, the "past" chapters were somewhat distracting and made the "present" chapters feel rushed and incomplete in the end. I could have done with fewer twists - at a certain point, it just feels overdone. If you're looking for a quick and easy commuter or airplane read, then sure, read this. But, if you really want to go to "dark places" and feel your spine tingle, I'd recommend a different book about a murdered Kansas family: In Cold Blood. ...more
I don't know how to feel about this book. On the one hand, Rowling clearly spent a lot of time developing this mystery and really tried pushing it toI don't know how to feel about this book. On the one hand, Rowling clearly spent a lot of time developing this mystery and really tried pushing it to a dark place. It is at its strongest when Robin and Strike follow leads to out of the way places and learn more about each of the suspects. On the other hand, far too much time is spent on the non-love triangle love triangle. While these relationships add depth to Strike's character, they serve to make Robin fall apart. It feels as though Rowling can't make up her mind about whether Robin should be a damsel in distress or strong, independent woman. I really hope the next one focuses more on sleuthing and less on this nonsense, though I doubt it will. ...more
Out of the three Cormoran Strike books, this one is by far the silliest and therefore my favorite. We already know quite a bit about Strike and RobinOut of the three Cormoran Strike books, this one is by far the silliest and therefore my favorite. We already know quite a bit about Strike and Robin so we don't have to spend too much time reading about them. I found this mystery the most interesting and really enjoyed the side characters and possible suspects. ...more
I've come to really enjoy Lindy West after first hearing her tell a story on an episode of This American Life about internet trolls. She has a distincI've come to really enjoy Lindy West after first hearing her tell a story on an episode of This American Life about internet trolls. She has a distinct voice and is intelligent, funny, and incredibly honest. In Shrill, she shares some personal essays about her personal life, though predominately discusses fat-shaming in society and the media. She takes to task everyone from trolls, male comedians, and her former boss, Dan Savage. I gave it four stars, instead of five, because some of the essays start to feel repetitive after a while. However, it was mostly a great read and an even better listen (I listened to some of it on audible - Lindy West narrates it)!...more
This book was a pretty fun read. It's definitely not amazing, and certainly not Rowling's finest writing, but page-turning nonetheless. The subject ofThis book was a pretty fun read. It's definitely not amazing, and certainly not Rowling's finest writing, but page-turning nonetheless. The subject of the mystery was a bit silly but it I enjoyed getting to know the main characters, Strike and Robin. ...more
What a *neat* little book (chortle chortle). Now that I've finished this book, I feel both inspired to start tidying right away and daunted at the proWhat a *neat* little book (chortle chortle). Now that I've finished this book, I feel both inspired to start tidying right away and daunted at the prospect of ever meeting Ms. Kondo's incredibly high standards.
The book could use a second translator to offer a "normal" person's perspective on her methods. Have you ever wanted to try something new but the teacher you found was so good at what they do that they can't understand how to come down to your n00b-like level? Take a music teacher for instance - someone who can hear every note instantly and can play a new song without having to study the music and practice each section one at at time. That teacher understands that you don't have the same capacity for music, but since music is part of their nature, can't grasp what it is you don't get so struggles to teach you so simply tells you, "your rhythm is off." That alerts you that you've done something wrong but doesn't help you correct the problem. You'd almost be better off with someone who isn't as gifted and as had to work hard for years to reach a certain level because they can explain to you how they got there. Similarly, Kondo explains that tidying is practically in her blood. She's been learning how to tidy since she was 5 years old and has a deep love for it. Though she tries her best to understand why people might hold on to unnecessary items for years, it's clear that she doesn't fully grasp it. I'd love an ex-slob to write a forward or afterword to the book to let the rest of us know how this method plays out in practice.
All that aside, Kondo makes some fantastic and simple points. She emphasizes that most of us should not need to tidy every day because if we only keep things that give us joy, storage will become a no-brainer. As a terrible clutter hoarder, I appreciated her spelling out that two of the main causes leading to clutter are: 1) making it easier to access clutter than to put it away, and 2) not knowing where clutter should go. This is straightforward stuff but makes a lot of sense. Also, having seen my grandmother, whose kitchen drawers and cupboards are so packed with items it takes several minutes to find the knife you need, painfully cling to single purpose serving items she "may one day need," I value Kondo's message about discarding things and wish my grandmother would give it some consideration.
However, sometimes she takes things to an extreme, even anthropomorphizing household items and indicating that we abuse these objects when we don't treat them properly. In the third chapter, she claims socks should never be balled up because it prevents them from getting any rest:
"The socks and stockings stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday. They take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet. The time they spend in you drawer is their only chance to rest. But if they are are folded over, balled up, or tied they are always in a state of tension, their fabric stretched and their elastic pulled. When the owner finally discovers them and puts them on, it will be too late and they will be relegated to the garbage. What treatment could be worse than this?"
Coming this fall, The Brave Little Toaster 4: Rescue of the Inappropriately Balled Up Socks (yes, there was not one, but TWO Brave Little Toaster sequels).
The final issue I take with this book is her attitude about remembering the past. Kondo's focus is on capable decision-making and looking forward to a stable future. This I get and appreciate. Her basic point is that things from our past, whether they are books we've read, photos, or letters, have already served their purpose. They've given us all they have to offer and so we should move on and not remain attached to the past. However, some things may still bring joy in the future even where they don't bring joy to us in the moment. A book on my shelf may not bring me joy right now but could excite a future guest, meaning I may give it to him or her and therefore would spread the joy. A box of photos stored away in my closet might not bring me joy now, but maybe it will next year. Or maybe it will bring joy to someone looking through my things once I'm gone. I don't think being somewhat attached to the past is necessarily a bad thing. Take a listen to Radiolab's episode on Things, it's great: http://www.radiolab.org/story/things/
Moving forward, I will give the KonMari method a try, with reservations. ...more
This book was fine - not terrible but not great either. The book follows the story of David, as told by his advisor/soothsayer Natan. The first half tThis book was fine - not terrible but not great either. The book follows the story of David, as told by his advisor/soothsayer Natan. The first half to two-thirds of the book seem to serve merely as a vehicle for retelling David's rise from neglected shepherd boy to king of Israel. Natan's narration is impersonal and stiff. However, closer towards the end of the book, Natan begins to focus on his own story, which is far more interesting. I think I really would have enjoyed the entire book if it had been more like the final section. ...more
After reading The Orphan Master's Son last year and this collection of short stories a couple months ago, I can safely say that I will rush to read anAfter reading The Orphan Master's Son last year and this collection of short stories a couple months ago, I can safely say that I will rush to read anything this guy publishes. I am super jealous of those Stanford students who are lucky enough to take his creative writing classes!
Though I enjoyed TOMS more as a whole, this collection is nothing to scoff at and my thoughts keep returning to a couple of the stories. Johnson has the ability to create incredibly dark, yet highly engaging characters and scenarios that leave us not sure whether we want to laugh, applaud, or cry (either from sadness or sheer discomfort). One story in particular, "George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine" about a former East German prison warden confronting his past is especially powerful and left me with a lingering feeling of unease. I can't wait to read whatever he comes up with next. ...more
I read this book twice in six months and loved it equally each time through. It is short and sweet, with simple language and few characters. It tellsI read this book twice in six months and loved it equally each time through. It is short and sweet, with simple language and few characters. It tells the story of two elderly people who have lost their spouses, live away from their adult children, and form a beautiful relationship with one another. Together, they discuss love, aging, past indiscretions, and what their hopes are for their remaining years. Haruf knew he was dying when he wrote the book, which makes it feel all the more special. I cannot recommend it enough for anyone looking for a thought provoking and moving read. ...more
Well, hot damn. I wouldn't say this is a perfect book but I found it so powerful I couldn't give it anything other than 5 stars. This is the kind of bWell, hot damn. I wouldn't say this is a perfect book but I found it so powerful I couldn't give it anything other than 5 stars. This is the kind of book I wish I'd had to read in my high school English or history class.
The book follows an unnamed sympathizer, or communist sleeper agent, as he travels to America to report back on the doings of a South Vietnamese contingent. The writing is filled with humor, humanity, and anger. The language Nguyen uses is fast paced, eloquent, and filled with distinct imagery; it's unlike anything I've read recently.
In an interview included at the end of the paperback version, Nguyen says his goals for the book included bringing a Vietnamese perspective to a wider audience, directing anger and blame at all parties involved, and showing that Vietnam is made up of many parts that can't be represented by a single character or object. Nothing, from The Quiet American, to Apocalypse Now, to Francis Ford Coppola, to the Viet Cong is safe from Nguyen's wrath. Though it is difficult to read at times, I welcome this depiction of the war and hope it continues to reach a wider and wider audience. ...more
This was the second book of Adichie's I've read, the other being Americanah. Though Americanah felt richer and more fully developed to me, I was increThis was the second book of Adichie's I've read, the other being Americanah. Though Americanah felt richer and more fully developed to me, I was incredibly moved by this book and am now convinced that Adichie is one of the most important writers of our time.
This book, which depicts the Nigerian Civil War, is powerful, gripping, and often difficult to read because of its gut-wrenching scenes of brutality and loss. Though each of the main characters serves to offer his or her perspective of the war, both before and during, they also feel very real. Adichie does not mess about when it comes to relationships or character development- they are not cliched or predictable nor do they fall into specific categories. We see the good and bad of each. We see what drives them apart and brings them back together. We see them conflicted, not sure of what decision to make, not sure whether there is anything they can do to repent for decisions already made. If you haven't read any of her work, please, do yourself a favor and read one now. ...more
Overall, this book was delightful to read - it's sweet and even a bit cute. Montgomery clearly fell in love with the octopus and was excited to shareOverall, this book was delightful to read - it's sweet and even a bit cute. Montgomery clearly fell in love with the octopus and was excited to share her passion with as broad an audience as she could reach. The first two or three chapters had me hooked. She mixes some information about the octopus with personal encounters she has at the Boston Aquarium. I learned quite a bit more about the octopus than before - I had no clue an octopus would like having its head petted like a dog or cat!
However, after the third chapter, Montgomery gets distracted and goes on to talk about other things, such as her struggle learning to scuba dive, which I didn't find particularly exciting. By the end, many of her anecdotes and pieces of aquatic trivia became repetitive and a struggle to read. The last chapter, which actually discusses consciousness of the octopus, helped pull things together in the end but didn't make up for all the side stories about electric eels, home foreclosures, and scuba diving.
I'd recommend this for someone looking for a fun and light nature read that's far less depressing (and less good) than H is for Hawk. ...more