Well, I finally got to the end of this massive tome, and you know what? It was actually worth it.
Some caveats, though. It could have been hacked down by at least a quarter of its length and missed nothing. Cases in point: the motorcycle? completely unnecessary; Ghosh's prolonged internment? shorten that; Hema and Ghosh's strange courtship? yawn-inducing. You'll see that most of my complaints are about the first half of the book. I get that Verghese lived this trajectory himself, but truthfully, it only got interesting when his main character comes to America (if that's a spoiler, you're not paying close enough attention). On the face of it, that looks nationalistic, but this is where the book turns both funny and intriguing. He learns things! That aren't about growing up or insurgency or hospitals put together with spare parts (okay, at least some of those are also about his internship in the U.S.).
Then again, you would not have been able to bill this romantic-medical-wayfarer drama as sweeping (so much like Gone with the Wind, only not at all). My own history with it feels that way as well. Picking up the e-book at least 5 times to set it back down again, and finally, with a feeling of failure in myself, grabbing the audio-book, managing to not drive off the road in boredom for the first half, and then finally seeking every opportunity to listen while the tale spun itself to its end.
So, I recommend it and I worry about recommending it. You can actually pick it up and put it back down again. Just don't borrow it, because you most certainly won't get it back to the library in time....more
This is pretty much the pulpiest pulp I've read in a long while. It should be clear to anyone reading this that the writer ihttp://tinyurl.com/l7tr7c5
This is pretty much the pulpiest pulp I've read in a long while. It should be clear to anyone reading this that the writer is completely homegrown, ie, has he even taken a writing class? By the end, I got extraordinarily tired of "oh, I'm going to die" - 4 paragraphs on that - and then the obvious "oh, wait, I forgot about using that [insert magical device]! good, now I'm not going to die."
I understand the series gets better. But will I stick around to find out? I love fantasy, but this guy seems to have ridden in on the coattails of Ms. Rowling and then followed in the footsteps of Ms. Evanovich. I see the basic appeal, but there isn't much that's actually, well... clever, here.
In the end, my biggest pet peeve is that it's like reading a giant game of Zork. He stands outside a house. The curtains are drawn. He has a bad feeling. He sees a film canister on the ground. He wonders how it got there. He walks around the house. He sees a faery. Ugh. I'd rather play the game....more
The comedy in this famous play is surprisingly spot on and interestingly current. You could make any of these same jokes todhttp://tinyurl.com/kavfzjr
The comedy in this famous play is surprisingly spot on and interestingly current. You could make any of these same jokes today. It's not as if Britain has stopped making jokes about class and culture, right?
Wilde certainly had a talent for farce - for that brand of ridiculous that is not supposed to have any bearing on reality. It teases reality, but sits soundly outside it. The great thing about farce is that you begin reading with that assumption - that nothing is real - and consequently it's all about the words and the plot. Since you can't take it seriously, this frees you up to enjoy the English language at its finest (and silliest).
I especially liked how Wilde created female characters the equal of the male characters. They are equally silly as well as equally eloquent. I would think the role of the "mother-in-law" would be a plum one for any well-established British Dame. In fact, can't you see Maggie Smith playing this in its next incarnation?...more
What an enchanting read! Not knowing a thing about this book before I started made it all the better. For instance, I was unhttp://tinyurl.com/l2u6t4o
What an enchanting read! Not knowing a thing about this book before I started made it all the better. For instance, I was unaware that I was essentially about to read a fantasy novel. Clearly any book that makes magic real is by definition fantasy. Even when it's clearly rooting itself in the not-too-distant past of our own world.
Speaking of which, I completely missed some of the telling signs Morgenstern was truly throwing at me regarding the origins of the circus in general, and the circus as it exists in our present-day minds. I will give nothing away just in case others are as slow as I was to get the hints. But I will say that they are just hints, and that she doesn't fully realize them (as she shouldn't in a fantasy novel).
Don't let the number of pages dissuade you, as this book moves very, very quickly. I think I finished it in 4 days (granted, 4 vacation days) and was compelled to return to it as often as possible. The writing is a little formal, however, this fits well with a book set in the late 19th century. It also has a slight goth feel to it - the black and white circus tents, the ultra-chic dresses, the slow-moving statues, the "reveurs" and their flashes of red - and I believe that makes it all the more interesting.
I was told not to read the back of the book. I read this on Kindle so didn't have to worry about that, but in seeking out the back cover after I was finished I didn't see any monstrous spoilers - nothing that wasn't guessable from the get-go. Perhaps I saw the wrong back of the book. ...more
There is no question this is a compelling book. From start to finish, you are pulled inexorably to the end, or should I say,http://tinyurl.com/m29og92
There is no question this is a compelling book. From start to finish, you are pulled inexorably to the end, or should I say, ends. (There are at least three of them.)
Now, I'm a Swedish mystery aficianado, so I was super geeked to see this in my Christmas stocking a few days ago. (Yes, I read it that fast.) I figured, the Danes must be learning to push back - break that lock that the Swedes have had for decades. I really wanted to see if that was true.
A solid B+ for effort and style. Gazan aces the Scandinavian mournful tone (in spades), provides a solid set of plots, and she's a biologist so her themes have a more interesting bent than usual. She has an easy, light writing style (as translated), with the occasional excellent turn of phrase to make you smile or raise your eyebrows.
Also, unexpectedly, Gazan gives you a boatload of backstory, which while also compelling, comes at a very odd time in the book, ie, the beginning. I mean, at least 70 pages of backstory. It moves very quickly, but it begins to dawn on you that this is an extraordinary amount, and either the author is brilliantly setting you up for the ending or she's a pretty dumb writer. How to know when it's the first book of hers you've ever read? There is, in fact, a reason for it, but I'll give nothing away here.
(I should also say that this is the first book in a long while that I have read in paper. There was something comforting about being able to turn actual, non-digital pages. No, that alone won't put me off using my Kindle forever and always.)...more
Unfortunately, for all the awesomeness that this book contains, it leaves you with the feeling that you've been lectured at.http://tinyurl.com/kqy7uf9
Unfortunately, for all the awesomeness that this book contains, it leaves you with the feeling that you've been lectured at.
Probably most autobiographies have the tendency to "inform the user" of how their life would be better - like mine! - if only they listened to my wise experience and changed their ways. Then everything would be marvelous and you'd never have any problems. Of course, I'm being more than a bit snarky here - and Hadfield's book has many large sections that are not about bettering yourself - that are actually about space travel itself! - but in the end I have a bad flavor in my mouth from reading the book.
I completely understand that this man is NOT a writer first and foremost. He didn't have a ghost writer on this, and that is more than admirable. He's an astronaut who's done some of the very coolest stuff anyone's ever done in their lives, and it's perfectly okay for him to both trumpet his successes and give us some pointers in how that success occurred. Heck, his educational initiatives alone are phenomenal (and CSA should give him the hugest retirement package for that). But that doesn't mean that I wished the book was much more about the cool stuff that happens in space than about the tedious slog that is an astronaut's life on Earth and even in space.
It is, in the end, eye-opening though and I'm glad I read it, if only to understand both the thrills and the banalities of space travel....more
Looking back at what I've been blogging about, I seem to have been on a Doctor Who kick these last few months. Not surprisinhttp://tinyurl.com/odepj5g
Looking back at what I've been blogging about, I seem to have been on a Doctor Who kick these last few months. Not surprising seeing as the 50th anniversary materials are finally making their way to this side of the pond. And that could be why I finally picked up this book.
Originally a set of blog posts, this is the result of an experiment in watching all the old classic Doctor Who episodes together - a couple of English folk who also happen to be married. Apparently, it isn't the blog simply printed out and bound together, but contains additional bits of information about the couple, Neil's and Sue's past, etc.
While not great literature, it was engaging for someone who's made their way through the classic series to the Sixth Doctor. Meaning, I'm not just anyone off the street. Many of the descriptions and comments in this book definitely made more sense to me simply because I've sat through a large majority of the classic Who episodes already. (Yes, I had to go count for the purposes of this post: I've seen 428 classic episodes to date. Zowie.) Meaning, only someone who's watched a lot of the classic series knows how amusing it is to see the BBC indicating a horrible space disease using green spray-painted bubble wrap.
If for no other reason, I recommend the book because of Sue's excellent names for each of the doctors. While they're fantastic for the classic doctors, I actually like her names for the new series doctors even better. Eccleston is "The Hard One," Tennant is "My Third Husband," and - the best of them all - Smith is "The Pipsqueak." Spot on, my good woman....more
As fascinating as it was to read a book about pilots in the RAF during World War II, I do wish the author had recognized thehttp://tinyurl.com/m5tk35g
As fascinating as it was to read a book about pilots in the RAF during World War II, I do wish the author had recognized the difficulties inherent in spewing large batches of data about planes and codes and airports at her readers. Without advancing the story at the same time.
I'll say right off the bat that the last 1/4 of this book moves very, very quickly. The plot twists were achieved persuasively, and there were scenes that did make me tear up, they were so emotional. However, the artificiality of telling a story via a batch of letters makes it a risky endeavor for any author. You have to be very, very good at what you do to pull that off. (Although I can think of at least 3 more books that have done that recently, so maybe it's commonly done now...?)
In the end, the essential boring-ness of the entire first half of the novel makes it way too much of a slow burn. It's war after all - how about some activity? When the friends start describing their fears for the fourth darn time, I was really ready to move on. I can't recommend skipping to the back 1/4 of the book unless you have read at least the first 30%, so it's a bit of a conundrum. I'll stick with not recommending it, sadly....more
I read this because it was highly recommended. In the end, I think it's not a book to put on your bedside table. It's a bookhttp://tinyurl.com/ljtcrcc
I read this because it was highly recommended. In the end, I think it's not a book to put on your bedside table. It's a book to read almost at one sitting.
There are so many characters in here, and they weave and dance around the main "protagonist" rapidly and in varying frequencies within the text. I got discouraged because I couldn't keep anybody straight by the time I was 2/3 of the way through. In an almost real sense, it's a ride - so if you just read along as if it is you'll likely be better off. Details, schmeetails.
I've been told, however, that I really didn't get it. That while this may be billed as a fantasy novel, it's really about a very bad man (at his core) and the way he intends to disappear from the world, so the law can't get him any longer. Y'know, if that's the case, then I understand zippo about all the hijinks. I mean, why bother creating this level of fantastic detail if it's all intended to be hooey? Why not just write a crime novel?
Also - yup, this is one of the books I was thinking of that is written in the form of letters to other people. Geez, it's going to be refreshing to read something written in the 3rd person....more
Perhaps this one isn't Sanderson's best venture. If it was the first book of Sanderson's that you read, then it would likelyhttp://tinyurl.com/l22ckzy
Perhaps this one isn't Sanderson's best venture. If it was the first book of Sanderson's that you read, then it would likely be quite entertaining - seeing as it has all the usual elements he likes, i.e., a person or persons of faith who are struggling against the tenets of their religion, as well as any number of politically motivated people in positions of power and/or nobility. And, of course, the magic that is only just out of reach and needs to be understood or recognized in some manner that currently no one else understands. There - I've just summarized every Sanderson book for you. You're free to go!
A reminder that I wouldn't actually read his books if I didn't like what he creates so much. So, I still enjoyed this book immensely. But it felt more like it was following a template than the others I've read. The story switches between three protagonists - Hrathen, the leader of a particular religion, Raoden, the noble prince who would govern his people well (if only), and Sarene, the free-spirited princess who will be his bride. Reading this, it seemed that Sanderson was simply slotting the appropriate characters into the appropriate slots.
The magic is fun in this one, and you could read it for that reason. But be warned that it's not extant in the story for most of its run, so those of you who found Mistborn most fascinating because of the magic are going to be profoundly disappointed....more
This is a much less convoluted version of his usual novels. As befits a YA novel, since I find it difficult to keep all thehttp://tinyurl.com/mte3yjk
This is a much less convoluted version of his usual novels. As befits a YA novel, since I find it difficult to keep all the parts together in any of his "for adults" novels (Way of Kings, anyone?).
I think he correctly grounds this novel in as close to present day as he can get. The more-real setting lets him more fully develop his main male character (not quite a teenager, a little older than that). The character's angsty issues include how he interacts with girls, how his spoken language (ie, metaphors) isn't quite up to snuff, his guilt over how he treated his father, etc. In other words, your normal young adult issues.
As an adult reading this, this was fine because he handled it pretty well. At times it seemed forced, like when they're on a high-speed chase through the steel-lined streets of Chicago and all our protagonist can think about is how he used a terrible metaphor in his last interaction with someone on his team. Um, I very much doubt that would be the case. But neither would an almost-teenager be so adept with guns and other bizarre warring technologies. (There's a LOT of warfare in this book. It doesn't pull punches.)
I enjoyed it enough to read the next one when it comes out this year. But I'll read the next Way of Kings first, you bet....more
Now I understand why Jeannette Walls' parents were so nuts. If I'm remembering correctly from The Glass Castle, Walls' parenhttp://tinyurl.com/mqb5jt8
Now I understand why Jeannette Walls' parents were so nuts. If I'm remembering correctly from The Glass Castle, Walls' parents were undeniably negligent towards their brood, not recognizing their need for anything tangible - the very definition of selfish.
In this story - and Walls calls it a novel even though it is based on a very real person - we are getting a biography of her grandmother, her mother's mother. A great deal of the story is focused on explaining why Lily Casey Smith was so headstrong, so alternative, so proto-feminist. And it's these characteristics that become such a huge part of her daughter, Walls' mother.
It's both funny and disturbing to read that Lily never washed anybody's clothes on the ranch. They'd just wear them inside out when they were too dirty on the outside. (Holy cats.) And washing jeans was considered sacrilege - the shinier they got, the better they were. (Holy mackerel.) In this day and age, it's hard to read this without your jaw dropping to the floor. This is one of many examples showing that Lily never followed convention, didn't care for rules, and thought walloping kids was the way to keep them in line. How could she not consider that this would leak down to her kids?
Irregardless of the jaw-dropping scenes, it was remarkable to read about a woman who really followed her heart, no matter what, to get what she wanted most. Because it's Walls, you bet it's well-written and engaging as heck. Enjoy what is really a breath of fresh air....more
I remain impressed - Grafton is on a streak towards the end. (The fact that the woman is currently 73 worries me a bit abouthttp://tinyurl.com/l8s3uus
I remain impressed - Grafton is on a streak towards the end. (The fact that the woman is currently 73 worries me a bit about all of us getting to read the final 3 books. I will only breathe a sigh of relief when Y comes out. The assumption being that when Y comes out, Z will already be well drafted. Yes, I know too much about the publishing industry.)
I like what Grafton has been doing lately, which is to take a topic of interest, heft, and political significance and bring her opinion to it. In this case, it's homelessness. She doesn't do a perfect job of it - it's a little obvious what her intent is at times - but it's admirable and perfectly adequate.
What she also seems to be doing is tying loose ends together. No, you'll say, after reading the book, she most definitely is not doing that, but remember - there are 3 books left. I would say she's starting to do what needs to be done so we have perhaps 20% closure on Kinsey's life. Honestly, more than that would kinda freak me out. Kinsey's too much of a free spirit for me to want any more than that.
What I really wonder is if she'll fast-forward to present day for the final book. About 20% of me wants that....more
Talk about compelling. I scarfed this book up, basically reading the last half (of a fairly lengthy book) in one weekend. Whhttp://tinyurl.com/l9opvj7
Talk about compelling. I scarfed this book up, basically reading the last half (of a fairly lengthy book) in one weekend. While I overall was wholly enthralled by this story of a WWII survivor - and what unbelievable situations he survived! - I do have some small issues.
a) It wasn't as great as Seabiscuit. The writing was just as phenomenal, but there was something about how spread out the story was that diluted it just the tiniest bit. Seabiscuit basically had one (okay, three) pivotal events the story was gearing us for. In this book, it's one surprise after another, and because of that it almost felt rushed in places - as if Hillenbrand wanted to get us to a particular point in the narrative sooner, just in case we were getting bored by gory (and I do mean gory) details.
b) Which is my next point - you could make the argument that this is disaster porn. Such unbelievable odds, such strength of purpose, such absolute horror - it's like watching an accident on the side of the road. You simply can't stop looking - or reading. It seems that a lot of non-fiction is just that these days. Are we all just looking for anything that will stir our blood?
c) I wonder if there were instances where more research, or at least more description of her research would have benefited the reader. There were scenes or situations where I wanted to hear more about the other side. Yes, the Japanese in wartime were some of the scariest enemies the world has ever seen. Were they the only ones? Yes, we lost a lot of good men to accidents and the like. Were we the only ones? It felt actually one-sided at times.
Also, I'll repeat what I wrote on my Goodreads review as I was still reading the book, since it's still a main reason I enjoyed this story: "Holy crap. If I'd known that the story of the USS Indianapolis was only one of so, so, so many heartbreaking stories of loss of life during wartime - I mean nearly 36,000 air corps personnel died in NON battle situations in wartime, much less how many died in combat - it's possible I would have been less horrified and awestruck by that story. Rescue of war personnel from water was horribly problematic until mid-1944, and even until the end of the war there was only a 30% chance of success. And sharks? Yes, they were horrible on the USS Indianapolis. They were horrible everywhere else, too."...more
Mr. Mitchell is a very smart man. I feel very, very not-smart next to him. Having read two of his books now, I believe he wrhttp://tinyurl.com/lku8cwf
Mr. Mitchell is a very smart man. I feel very, very not-smart next to him. Having read two of his books now, I believe he writes fiction for the pun. Every opportunity he has to exploit the potential for a pun is taken. In fact, I would bet (but I'm not smart enough to determine) that he writes certain scenes to encapsulate puns. ("Let's see, there were 10 in that chapter, that's probably enough, next chapter!")
Not that I don't enjoy it. It's mounds better reading a story that the author is enjoying the hell out of telling versus one that is labored, overly trite, obtuse or any of a number of other plagues that befall authors.
This particular story is not as layered as Cloud Atlas, but it does have layers, so beware in advance. We are supposed to love our protagonist immediately because of his Christian, moral, upstanding ways - which of course are surprisingly similar to the thoughts and feelings of the denizens of his host country. The Japanese in the latter half of the 1700s, and their efforts to encourage and absolutely not encourage trade with the Dutch, sounds like a minute section of history. It is not. It is entrancing and mysterious and disgusting and bizarre and lovely and holy. Mitchell may have taken 500 pages to tell all that, but I dare anyone else to try.
And by no means miss the Reader's Guide at the end of the book. There are several pages devoted to the origins of historical fiction, how it can be difficult to write it, and why we all still love a good historical novel. You'll laugh out loud, believe me or not....more
It's no surprise to me that this book has garnered a number of honors, including a Printz Honor Award and being part of thehttp://tinyurl.com/q6chx39
It's no surprise to me that this book has garnered a number of honors, including a Printz Honor Award and being part of the YALSA contingent. It's solidly written fantasy with just the right amount of real life thrown in to be appealing to those who may be thrown off by the idea of horses from the sea that ride up onto the beach and eat you.
That's a terrible description. At heart, this is probably a love story. Between a boy and a girl, but much more importantly, between horses and people. Including those horses that want to eat you. It's about loyalty as much as it is about love. It's about caring for something other than yourself, and in that, it's also about the place you live and the neighbors you have and the family that you have around you.
What I loved the most about this book was its ability to place me inside of a young girl's head, showing me what she felt about a variety of different things. This made it possible for me to learn/know/assume what she'd be thinking about any particular thing, thus avoiding the need for this kind of description and allowing the story to progress. It's really quite a perfect example of story progression....more