Story: Hacking! Daring escapes! Distopian apocalypse! And lots and lots of computers!
Thoughts: I've been on a bit of a reading slump. I'm not sure why. I can hardly read anything right now. But it is not terribly surprising that the one book that I could read at this time was a YA cyber thriller. WITH HACKING!!!
Yeah, so as you might have guessed, I like computers. I study computer science at university, and this kind of book makes me wish I actually studied hard. In that respect, it reminds me of Evil Genius and its sequels, by Catherine Jinks. Except it has the added benefit of an apocalypse-type end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario. In fact, I think if this book has a fault, it's that there are too many good things packed into it. It started out reminding me a lot of Evil Genius, with a young male prodigy with not the highest morals. Then it morphs into an Born Identity-like escape sequence, until finally ending in an almost 1984-ish distopian finish. It was all great stuff. However, personally I would have preferred that it stayed in the first mode. The part where the slightly amoral teenage genius stumps the officials with mega-cool hacking. ...more
Story: A square living in a two-dimensional universe explains the working of his universe, and then tells theOriginally reviewed on RED Book Reviews.
Story: A square living in a two-dimensional universe explains the working of his universe, and then tells the story of how he explored, in reality and in visions, the universes of no dimensions, one dimension, and three dimensions.
Thoughts: I should have read this at the same time as A Wrinkle in Time. The talk about multiple dimensions in WiT totally fascinated me, and I think this book would have followed up on that perfectly. At this present time, however, it doesn't go into quite as much depth as I'd like. They didn't even go to the Fourth Dimension! Although I suppose it's left up to the reader to do that, as a sort of exercise. And there are other resources if you want to go farther in dimensional thought (like this awesome video).
But I shouldn't be too upset about this "lack of depth". It was written in 1884, after all. Before Einstein and quantum physics--before practically everything related to this.
The second main element of this book is Victorian satire. The Square who is the "author" of Flatland has definitive views on his society. Many of them rather ridiculous. Personally, I found this part (most of Part I) not as interesting, but I fully acknowledge that many people like Victorian satire more than imagining different dimensions. So I don't blame anyone if they find the first half far more interesting than the second half....more
Story: She is caught in a Nazi prison, and like the coward she is, she gives in and tells them everything. AsOriginally reviewed on RED Book Reviews.
Story: She is caught in a Nazi prison, and like the coward she is, she gives in and tells them everything. As in, everything. She writes down her story from the point of view of her best friend Maddie, one of the very few female pilots in WWII. And I'm not going to write any more story description, because I don't want to give anything away. (Note: Sorry for the lack of a Name in the above story description. There is a good reason for it.)
Thoughts: The only--let me repeat, only--thing wrong with my reading experience for this book was my too high expectations. Every review and comment I read said it was utterly fantabulous. With books like that, I expect to enjoy them as much as The King of Attolia. And I never do. So I always leave just the tiniest bit disappointed. And thus it was with this book. But I'm trying to ignore that, because it's a rather silly emotional issue. So, other than that: It was soooo awesome! Espionage! Friendship! Airplanes! Torture! Indomitable Scots!
Primary Source of Awesomeness: Elizabeth Wein's biggest strength--I personally believe--even over her plotting and prose, is the complete depth of all of her characters. I mean, she gave the evil Nazi interrogator depth, for Pete's sake! The only other book I've read by her, The Winter Prince, has as the protagonist one of the most complex characters I've met. I am now firmly resolved to read every single book she's written. They can be slightly hard to get through at the beginning, from my two-book experience, but always worth it in the end.
Secondary Source of Awesomeness: This is one of the very, very few female bromances around. Just in case anyone doesn't know, a bromance is basically a friendship so deep that it is very much like a romance in some ways. Except that there isn't any, you know, Romantic elements. So think...Holmes and Watson, I suppose (especially in the Moffat/Gatiss Sherlock series). Or if you're a Chesterton fan, Turnball and McIan from The Ball and the Cross (awesome, though strange, book; one of my favourites.) Troy and Abed from Community is a great example too. As might be deduced from the name bromance, you seem to find this much more in fictional men than in fictional women. For most of the fictional women I know, if they have a female friend at all, that friend is delineated to the sidelines. Often as a funny sidekick who only says a few lines (the most recent example I can think of is the very funny, but not very important, best friend of Natalie Portman from Thor). I am constantly on the lookout for female equivalents, because I know FROM EXPERIENCE that this kind of friendship is NOT specifically male.
"It's like being in love, discovering your best friend."
P.S. I was thinking about talking about the morality of one of the main plot twists. But I think I won't. Because a) it is one of the main plot twists; and I'm worried you wouldn't be able to help yourself and you'll read what I write despite the big SPOILER warning, and b) I don't feel like writing about it. But if you are reading this after you've read the book, know that I disagree with Jamie's assessment. I think. I dunno. It's hard to tell. I don't want to think about it too hard due to...reasons....more
A mother of two young girls takes her family to France for a year. There they discover that the normal North AOriginally reviewed on RED Book Reviews.
A mother of two young girls takes her family to France for a year. There they discover that the normal North American style of eating (complete with pickiness, whining, hurried and emotional eating, etc.) is completely looked down on. As a result of this and the way the French act with regards to food, almost none of the children are picky at all. They eat everything, and enjoy it too!
I have always been an extremely picky eater from a young age, so it was fascinating to read about these methods to encourage healthy and all-encompassing eating. Although I'm not sure how much would have changed with me if I had been raised in that fashion, as many of those techniques we did implement in our family to a certain extent. But then, I'm inclined to think I'm the exception to a lot more things than I actually am. In other words, I'm biased.
All in all, it strikes me as a very Catholic approach to food. To explain the reasonings behind this would take quite a bit more time and energy than I'm willing to spend at the moment, though. So you'll just have to make do with this quote from one of the French people in the book:
"Actually, it's really about religion," offered Sylvie. "Catholic countries have always been more interested in food. French gastronomie is like a secular communion, like a sacrament or a ceremony." (pg. 71)
And the main downside? I'm afraid I'll never look at those pictures of cute kids throwing their food about the same way again.
To sum up: I don't agree with absolutely everything the French do. I really do like a few certain aspects of North American food culture. Sometimes casualness is simply more joyful. But generally, I think so many things would go better if everyone here read this book....more
An ex-Yale professor of English talks in a clear and amusing style about the influence Jane Austen had on hisOriginally reviewed on RED Book Reviews.
An ex-Yale professor of English talks in a clear and amusing style about the influence Jane Austen had on his life, from when he was a young jerk of complete self-confidence, to someone who actually understood people well enough to get married.
My favourite chapters were the first and the second-to-last. The first was about Emma, which is my favourite Austen, I think (well...maybe P&P...). It was the chapter in which he initially realizes that Austen is, in fact, absolutely fabulous--not just for women, not soap-opera-y in the least, and full of fascinating and unusual insights into human character.
The penultimate chapter was about Sense and Sensibility, but more importantly, it was about love. As in actual love, not the kind of Romance that practically everyone in the whole word mistakes for love right now. Deresiewicz seems to be one of the few secular authors I've read who really understands the relationship between feelings, intellect, and will, with regards to marriage. And it is all Austen's fault that he does.
P.S. This is non-fiction, so it seems strange to talk about one's favourite character, but still--his professor was awesome. To be someone like him is, and almost always has been, my dream life. ...more
Story: The title says it all. Evil child genius turns his genius brain onto the problem of becoming class presOriginally reviewed on RED Book Reviews.
Story: The title says it all. Evil child genius turns his genius brain onto the problem of becoming class president. It is, of course, harder than he thought.
Thoughts: I am a huge fan of evil child geniuses. Cadel Piggot (from Catherine Jinks's Evil Genius series), Artemis Fowl (from the series of the same name), Ender Wiggin (from Ender's game), this certain Harry Potter fanfic where he's a super-genius Ravenclaw (with an evil dark side), etc. Thus, while I didn't like this book quite as much as the ones mentioned above, I still found it worth reading.
It did somehow seem slightly more implausible than evil child genius books usually do. Also intended for a younger audience than I enjoy (though I frequently really like Middle Grade and children's fiction even more than adult and YA fiction).
On the pro side, Tatiana (who is sort of the love interest) was awesome. In fact, if there are any sequels in the future, I will read them all solely for her. ...more