November 3rd, 2009


Book 22: Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut [link]

This is the second time I am reading this book. Like Confederacy of Dunces, I first read it over the summer in preparation for my English class, and now I've read it a second time. I do remember the first time I read the book, I did not enjoy it and thought it was very confusing with the time travel. The second time through though, with the wisdom of my teacher (haha), I actually enjoyed it more this time and could take away the message Vonnegut was trying to send.

Slaughterhouse-Five follows a young man, Billy Pilgrim, through his life. Billy believes aliens, Tralfamadorians to be exact, have abducted him. We assume that it's through these aliens that he learns to time travel, a skill he frequently uses. In the book Pilgrim bounces around time to all the various portions of his life, many times returning to World War II where he was captured, taken prisoner, and held in Dresden, Germany during the time the city was firebombed and many people were killed. So it goes.

Up Next: Next book to re-read for my English class is "Crimes of the Heart"

22 / 50 books ~ 44% done!

4712 / 15000 pages ~ 31% done!

# 74

North and South

Elizabeth Gaskell

I loved North and South! Elizabeth Gaskell was always so good at writing about the social issues of her time, and her writing, especially in North and South, so gets to the heart of the issues that it remains relevant in some respects even today.

The great concern of North and South was the effect of industrialization on the lives of both workers and industry owners; in fact on the lives of the town's inhabitants.

In North and South Gaskell did an outstanding job of writing a balanced view by presenting both the problems of the working class and the owners with a fair, even hand.

The novel's main character, Margaret Hale, is strong, courageous, and compassionate. I loved the romance between her and mill owner John Thornton. North and South has one of the most satisfying endings of any novel I've ever read.

Of course I highly recommend this book! It's just a fantastic read!

Books 12-16

It's been a busy couple of months. Here's what I've read so far.

Summaries taken from back of books.

12. Watchmen by Alan Moore

Summary: This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.

Genre: Graphic novel

Thoughts: Umm, O.K. I bought this book under the pretense that it's one of the best novels. That it's this phenomenal exciting Fantastic was good... O.k. maybe because of all the hype I set ridiculously high expectations. I did like it. Dr. Manhattan's story was especially interesting. And so was Nite Owl's.

However I didn't care for Rorschach or the Comedian they just didn't do anything for me. And the story in some aspects felt very dated in the Reagan years. Not that there's anything wrong with story encompassing a time. I guess it comes back to my expectations. I thought that it was going to be a story that transcended a time and place but was instead very much about the thoughts and feelings about that time.

I also really liked the continuous narration of the Robinson Crusoe-type comic book. That was interesting and in general the way the story was put together and written was just phenomenal.

I think the main reason why I didn't love it as much as I thought I would was because I went into thinking it was something completely different.(was that sentence even in english?)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

13. Glass Books of the Dream Eaters Volume 1 by Gordon Dahlquist

Summary: Here begins an extraordinary alliance-and a brutal and tender, shocking, and electrifying adventure to end all adventures.

It starts with a simple note. Roger Bascombe regretfully wishes to inform Celeste Temple that their engagement is forthwith terminated. Determined to find out why, Miss Temple takes the first step in a journey that will propel her into a dizzyingly seductive, utterly shocking world beyond her imagining-and set her on a collision course with a killer and a spy-in a bodice-ripping, action-packed roller-coaster ride of suspense, betrayal, and richly fevered dreams.

Genre: Victorian mystery, suspense, thriller, science fiction and slew of other descriptions.

Thoughts: OMG...I LOVE THIS BOOK(s)!!! I get chills just from re-reading the summary. It does start with a simple note!! This story is just unbelievably fan-tastic! Celeste Temple, Cardinal Chang and Dr. Svenson!! love them!!

Ahem, O.K. must control myself and post a coherent review. First off, I broke the book up into two volumes because well that's the version I own ;) Their two separate books though I know originally it was one massive novel.
This book has everything...political intrigue, adventure, suspense, sex! The first volume essentially introduces us to the characters. You must pay attention to all the characters even the ones that appear to be tertiary. It's allllll interconnected.

I tend to favor the first volume over the second one, only slightly because the author did such a phenomenal job introducing us to this world and that gave volume one a slight edge for me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

14. Glass Books of the Dream Eaters Volume 2 by Gordon Dahlquist

Summary: In which the astonishing adventure to end all adventures continues-and the excitement doubles.

Like every other honest man, an assassin has his reputation to consider. So it is with Cardinal Chang. A brutal killer with the heart of a poet, Chang is no longer able to trust those who hired him. Disconcerted, he sets out on the trail of a mystery like no other, in a city few have traveled to-featuring three unlikely heroes with a most intriguing bond.

Genre: Victorian mystery, suspense, thriller, science fiction and slew of other descriptions.

Thoughts: So as I was saying before, there were moments in the second part that weren't as exciting. I think what happened was that in the original novel there was a small chunk of the story in the middle that kinda lags and it just happened when they broke it up into two books that's what opens up volume two. It's only a small part and I think in most books you wouldn't even notice it but because the rest of the story and pacing was just perfect it becomes more obvious. You guys, have probably noticed how I haven't mentioned any plot points...I can't without giving anything away. I want to though!!! I found the ending to be so satisfying and I can not wait to read, The Dark Volume, the sequel that came out a few months ago.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

15. Silas Marner by George Eliot

Summary: Gentle linen weaver Silas Marner is wrongly accused of a heinous theft, and he exiles himself from the world-until he finds redemption and spiritual rebirth through his unselfish love for an abandoned child who mysteriously appears one day at his isolated cottage. Somber, yet hopeful, Eliot's realistic depiction of an irretrievable past, tempered with the magical elements of myth and fairy tale, remains timeless in its understanding of human nature and is beloved by every generation.

Genre: British fiction, Classics

Thoughts: And now for something completely different... You see that summary up there? How much of the story is described in that summary?? Hmm, what do you think?? Well, let's take a look. Silas Marner is wrongly accused of theft and he is CHAPTER 1!! Eppie, the abandoned child shows up oooooh 120 pages later where we speed through to the happily ever after. Now let me mention that the book is only 170 pages!! What happens in the rest of the book you ask...nothing!

The book focuses on two brothers, both morons in their own ways. One is selfish, weak, conniving and other is the "bad seed". The ending is bittersweet for Silas and Eppie because of a big reveal. The entire plot of the book is centered around this small town where everyone's lives are connected and I guess it's supposed to be seen as an example of community but good and bad. But I couldn't help picturing the neighborhood in the movie Dogville with Nicole Kidman.

Maybe my big city mentality is showing through here but all the conversations about how weird and evil Silas was because he came from up north and how the author made excuses for the characters to think that. And the way the town viewed the brothers as one good, one bad when in actuality they were both shits.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

16. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Summary: The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers' attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger's new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock's Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.

Genre: Children's fiction, Fairy tales

Thoughts: This book I read while I was doing research for a story I was working on. I've never read a single Harry Potter book, and I don't think I ever will. However, that being said I really really liked this book. It's a collection of stories (5 to be exact). They're very interesting alternative fairy tales. Really great stuff that kids I'm sure would love but also really great vehicle to get kids talking about themes in fairy tales and folk tales that most of these stories subvert. I was really impressed. Though I did find the commentary after each story a little boring but that could just be because I'm not into the whole Harry Potter thing.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

That's all for now.

Currently reading Dracula
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 I haven't posted for AGES!!!
There's been so many things going in my life that I have very little time to write reviews so my reviews might be very short in the future.

38  PERSUASION   Jane Austen  (England, 1818)

Anne Elliot broke up an engagement with a naval officer she was in love with years before the beginning of the novel. Her friend had persuaded her to do so based on his social rank. But when she finally meets him again she realizes she still loves him.

This book is a disappointment. None of the characters are really interesting and some of them are so annoying it just makes your eyes roll.
I have now read Jane Austen's six most famous novels and here's my ranking of her books.


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Book 50!

Book 50
Discover Your Inner Economist - Tyler Cowan

(One caveat: I have 10 more pages to finish this book, because I want to re-read. But rereading shouldn't count, so I'm not).

I was well out of college before I realized I would have really loved economics, had my professor for both my 101 and 102 courses been an avowed supply-sider who suspected that regulation was something akin to organized Satanism. His insistence of theories that explained the way things *should* be never quite jived with what actually was in my word.
So imagine my surprise, years later, when I geeked out and began reviewing the ideas behind incentives and markets. Freakonomics was a favorite, especially in showing real-life examples of how people do behave, not how they should.
I also recall quite fondly a Sunday morning in Germany, during my fellowship, when our two-hour lecturer was a noted economist. I still love the idea of road socialism.
This book, I hoped, would be more of the same: provocative ideas and narratives and new ways of looking at things.
Sadly, while there is much to like about this book, that lack of real innovation has me wondering if it was meant for only those truly new to the science of economics.
For instance, the subtitle talks of motivating your dentist. Given my recent experiences, this should be right up my alley, right? But his best advice is for the patient to appeal to the dentist's self-image as good as his/her job and playing into his/her personal narrative as such. Um, not really the "aha" moment I had hoped woudl appear.
Still, he has some interesting arguments about learning to be a "cultural billionaire" by understanding how to better appreciate art, fine food and music. And he clearly understands real-world incentives, considering often the motivation is not money.
He glosses over a bit too quickly those who are too motivated by money for my taste, but he would certainly accept that economics means you can't be all things to all people.
Besides, I just got a Paul Krugman book. I suspect I'll enjoy that one far, far more ...
Caleb- snug as a bug!

Books read in October

Books read in October:

39. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Photobucket
40. Me & Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter, Photobucket
41. The Wild Things by Dave Eggers, Photobucket
42. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle , Photobucket
43. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich, Photobucket
44. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Photobucket

Most surprising read of the month: I absolutely LOVED The Hunger Games! It was thrilling and I had a difficult time putting it down! I am going to read the sequel soon! :)
Most disappointing read of the month: That would definitely be A Wrinkle in Time. I thought since so many people gave it such high praise, that I would automatically love it. I was wrong haha!
Current read: I just started reading The Thirteenth Tale and it is interesting so far.
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Darkborn Light

Darkborn, by Alison Sinclair
It took me a few chapters to get past my innate "but this author writes SCIENCE FICTION and it's really GOOD science fiction and FULL OF CRUNCHY BITS and THIS IS NOT THAT" reaction. Once I simmered down, I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy story. The worldbuilding is well-worked out but didn't get in the way of what is essentially a character drama. Excellent, and I'm looking forward to sequels.

Dawn Light, by Diane Ackerman
I don't think I gave this book its due. I usually love Diane Ackerman's highly digressive, adjective-laden style, but most of her books that I've read tie that style to a very strong through-line and this one is, instead, very short pieces tied together by nothing more pervasive than a meandering seasonal progression through very many dawns, and ideas somehow connected to morning or the sun or dew or ... I needed a sharper focus than this book had, but I don't feel like it's the book's fault. If I was in a more meditative, in-the-moment, sort of mood when I read it I would have liked it more. There were a few pieces which grabbed my attention and made me swoon: one on flying with cranes, one on rain, and a couple about bees. Still, I think even if I weren't all distracted, I would rather have read another one of her books that DO have the strong throughline... good thing I have a (small) unread hoard of those upstairs.
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