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Book Reviews

Shooting Stars 02 Ice – V. C. Andrews Book Review

Ice hides from the world behind a shield of silence. And that is what her mother hates about her. All she wants is a normal daughter who wears makeup and sexy clothes to attract boys. But Ice gets her chance to shine when she reveals her beautiful singing voice. And her extraordinary gift may become her saving grace when tragedy and deception almost destroy her dreams.

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Book Reviews

01 – The Witcher Saga – The Last Wish

I absolutely love The Witcher (after randomly coming across one of the later books in the series). So I decided to do what every sane person would do – get all the books, all the audio books, all of the original Polish comics (and I say ALL) and read it from the start.

The Last Wish follows Geralt as he travels from one part of the land to the other righting wrongs, discovering mysteries and saving people. The stories might seem familiar because you’ve already heard them growing up. Like Cinderella:

Prince Hrobarik, not being so gracious, tried to hire me to find a beauty who, sick of his vulgar advances, had fled the ball, losing a slipper

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Book Reviews

Prospero’s Children by Jan Siegel Book Review

I started this book with really, really low expectations. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything of value so I was thinking that a teen book, YA section will probably keep my interest for an hour or so before I went out and then I can pick it up later and leisurely continue reading it without bothering too much about it.

But then, as I started reading, I had to double-back to specific sentences, paragraphs and then I got my pen out. I loved this.

…most legends germinate from a seed of truth and feed on the imagination of Man. We need our demons: they are symbols, overblown maybe, often exaggerated, but effective. They offer simple confrontations between Good and Evil. War, famine, and pestilence are much less straightforward.

This is the first book I’ve picked up in about 3 years about time travel and multi-verse and the lost city of Atlantis. (The last book being Hearts in Atlantis which had more to do with the Dark Tower than any lost civilization and lands).

dreams_of_atlantis_by_flaviobolla-d9mqhqb.jpg

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Book Reviews

“The Lottery” (1948) by Shirley Jackson

“The Lottery” is a short story written by Shirley Jackson first published in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. The story describes a fictional small town which observes an annual ritual known as “the lottery”, which results in the killing of one individual in the town.

“The Lottery” appeared three weeks after Jackson’s agent had submitted it, and there was instant controversy: Hundreds of readers cancelled their subscriptions and wrote letters expressing their rage and confusion about the story

http_%2F%2Fwww.neatorama.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2011%2F04%2Flottery.pngThe story is only a few pages long but it can breed some dread for the upcoming selection of the person. They each get to draw a piece of paper and the one who’s marked will be the victim.

On the morning of the lottery, the townspeople gather close to 10 a.m. in order to have everything done in time for lunch. First, the heads of the extended families draw slips until every family has a slip.

After that, there was a long pause, a breathless pause, until Mr. Summers. holding his slip of paper in the air, said, “All right, fellows.” For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened.
Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once, saving. “Who is it?,” “Who’s got it?,” “Is it the Dunbars?,” “Is it the Watsons?” Then the voices began to say, “It’s Hutchinson. It’s Bill,” “Bill Hutchinson’s got it.”

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Book Reviews

At Night We Walk in Circles: A Novel by Daniel Alarcón

This is a bewildering story. I have picked it up and dropped it about 6 times. Sometimes in the same minute. I didn’t personally like it but it did receive some critical acclaim so I forced myself to read on. In short,  the story is about a young actor, Nelson, who becomes the third wheel in a tour of his writer-hero Henry’s play “The Idiot President,” for which Henry spent six months in one of the scariest prisons in Peru when it was first produced.

There was a problem: No one cared about human rights anymore, not at home or abroad. They cared about growth–hoped for and celebrated in all the newspapers, invoked by zealous bureaucrats in every self-serving television interview. On this matter, the filmmaker was agnostic–he came from money, and couldn’t see the urgency. Like many of his ilk, he sometimes confused poverty (which must be eradicated!) with folklore (which must be preserved!), but it was a genuine confusion, without a hint of ill intention, which only made it more infuriating.

Now the war is over, the country is safer, they think, so they take the old three-person play out of storage and on a small rickety tour into the countryside. Somewhere along the way, Nelson gets embedded in an actual absurd domestic drama. It has huge consequences, for him at least.

“We Walk in Circles” is the portrait of an actor as a young Latin American man at a time when it is not politics that can ruin his life but any brush against the drug cartels and their wide webs of influence, their paranoiac brand of terror.

Sure, there is insight into the human soul, but nothing especially interesting, and certainly nothing new. The characters – well, I just didn’t feel them, or feel for them. There was no connection, that feeling that you care about people even when you know you are reading fiction.

So perhaps people more sensitive than I will love this book, as quite a few reviewers have, but for me, I was bored.   I think most of the problem was the author making such a big deal of this “event” that changed everything, that left this huge impact on all the characters lives. There was a LOT of foreshadowing that was very intriguing at first, but got to be too much after awhile. After all the hoopla over the ending I was extremely disappointed. It was such a letdown.

The narrative was drowning in words, coming up for air only to gulp more words. There was more than a little self indulgence … oooh look … my navel! … a shame, as there were some vibrant pieces of writing. It just laboured too much as a novel.

“He imagined her impressed by his maturity, by his willingness to share her with another man. But this formulation was partial. It did not take into account the fact that she’d loved him, or that he’d broken her heart. It did not consider that her heart might be broken still, or that every time they slept together, it broke a little more.”

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Book Reviews

As the crow flies – by Jeffrey Archer – Book Review

I wanted to see if I can continue reading Jeffrey Archer after the fiasco with Jeffrey Archer – Mightier than the sword and I have mixed thoughts about the latest book I picked up. It was boring in parts but quite interesting in others. All in all, it was a solid 2.34/5.

This is a fairly good 200 page novel, hiding inside 600 pages. It was easy to read, but not very fulfilling. I like novels with a rich background so that you can lose yourself in the time and place. This fat novel was thin in substance. I was ready to quit on it at the halfway point, as I became tired of reading of each shop being purchased with great detail about how much it cost, and what a good deal Charlie got on each one. I continued on, and the story improved somewhat. I never felt anything for any of the characters. They all seemed one dimensional.

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Book Reviews

Rebekah (Women of Genesis) (Book 2) – Orson Scott Card

It is always great when someone dramatizes the life of someone in the Bible so we can get to know the people a little better.  Orson Scott Card started the tale with Sarah – Abraham’s wife – a tale of barrenness despair and the rise of a concubine which ended in happy tears as a child came along – Isaac. This is the tale of Rebekah – Isaac’s wife, born in the desert, child of an influential man, living in a tent – learning about God and the other religions from fathers, brothers and dishonored mothers.

Rebekah is someone I never really thought a whole lot about–other than I knew that she had tricked Isaac into granting the priesthood right to the second son by making him wear lambswool to make him seem hairier like his older brother.  The story had so much behind it!

“Let me be loved like that, by a man who will not replace me with concubines when I’m old and ugly. Let me be loved by a man who loves God more than me.”

558645727-quote-only-stupid-men-trying-to-seem-smart-need-to-be-with-dumb-women-only-weak-men-trying-to-look-orson-scott-card-216496.jpgComparing this to the story of “Sarah” which I also liked, I think that many things are similar. Maybe that was the point in this book–many times it is remarked how similar Sarah & Rebekah were in dealing with Abraham and their families. I know that women in the time period didn’t have much in the way of independence, but I would like to hope that some men allowed their wives to be free thinkers, and to have some independence.

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Book Reviews

The Wise Man’s Fear: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2

The Wise Man’s Fear: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2

I bought Wise Man’s Fear about a year ago and it has been sitting on my bookshelf taunting me by its sheer size. The Stand looked small by comparison. I leafed it. 980 odd pages. The Stand was bigger. I read The Stand, I would read this book too. But first, I needed to plow through “The Name of the Wind” (500-600 more pages). I started in November and now it’s December and I’ve finished “The Name of the Wind” and I’ve finished “The Wise Man’s Fear” and I’m at odds as to what I do with my life next. I didn’t plow through both of them. I took my time, I caressed the pages, I drank in the story and fell in love with the characters.
I loved The Name of the Wind. In fact, I’ve been able to make myself a hero on oodles of occasions by recommending Name of the Wind to people “looking for a good book.”

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Book Reviews

The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O’Melveny * Review

This book was not great but it was not bad either. So a solid 3.22 out of 5. The premise was wonderful, everything was ticking my biblio boxes – the gorgeous cover, the Renaissance setting, a strong female character in a man’s world, comparisons with Sarah Dunant and Tracy Chevalier – so where did it all go wrong? Well, the main problem for me was the extremely stilted prose.

“I’ve since come to believe that the world is populated by multitudes of women sitting at windows, inseparable from their surroundings. I myself spent many hours at a window on the Zattere, waiting for my father’s return, waiting for my life to appear like one of those great ships that came into the harbor, broad sails filled with the wind of providence…I’d grown transparent as the glass through which I peered, dangerously invisible even to myself. It was then I knew I must set my life in motion or I would disappear.”

I love historical novels and, if you toss in a bit of medicinal lore sprinkled with early treatments for madness, you’ve got this clinician drooling! I couldn’t wait to read about the adventures of Gabriella Mondini: a 16th century Venetian physician determined to practice medicine during the Renaissance, when doing so could be construed as heretical.

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Book Reviews

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood Book Review

Do you remember the Illiad? Homer’s Oddyssey? Do you remember Odysseus who sailed the seas and fought monsters and escaped mermaids to return to his faithful wife who waited for him for more than 20 years? Well, this is not his story, it’s hers.

odysseus_and_penelope_by_bohemianweasel-d8pzagiIt’s the story of Penelope—wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy— the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumors, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters, and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and—curiously—twelve of her maids.

In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids, asking: “What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?”