January 23rd, 2011

001

Book Reviews - #03 - #05

Title: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller [New York 1961]
Summary: At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn't even met are trying to kill him. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he is committed to flying, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. [Source].
Review in 5 words or less: Memorable | Impressing | Funny and tragic | Gets very intense toward the end |
Personal Rating: ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ of 5.
Fake-cut to Review: here



Title: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier [London 1938]
Summary: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers.

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. [Source].
Review in 5 words or less: Clever mystery | Only Rebecca has solid characterization | Nice surprising twist at the end |
Personal Rating: ◊ ◊ ◊ ½ of 5.
Fake-cut to Review: here



Title: The Girl Who Played with Fire by by Stieg Larsson [Stockholm 2006]
Series: Millennium trilogy book #02.
Summary: Part blistering espionage thriller, part riveting police procedural, and part piercing exposeé on social injustice, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a masterful, endlessly satisfying novel. Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander's innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past. [Source].
Review in 5 words or less: Complex heroine | Captivating | Very clever plot | Outstanding characterization | Great pacing |
Personal Rating: ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ of 5.
Fake-cut to Review: here
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Books 1 & 2

Title: Glimpses of the Moon
Author: Edith Wharton
Themes: Love, 1920s Upper Class

I had fallen in love with Wharton after reading "Age of Innocence" and thought that "Ethan Frome" was only ok so I feel like my opinion of her was in a downward slide. In my opinion, "Glimpses of the Moon" was better than "Ethan Frome" but not as good as "Age of Innocence." It's very interesting to me to read a story but a woman in that time period as she reflected upon things in that time period. Overall, a good period novel by it does drag on a bit and the conclusion was a bit obvious.

Title:Bloodsucking Fiends
Author: Christopher Moore
Themes: Vampires, Humor

Why can't people be obsessed about THIS vampire book? Sigh. Christopher Moore is hilarious as usual in this story of a vampire trying to find her way and all the antics that includes. As usual, Moore makes a nod to other characters in other books which is a fun tongue-in-cheek nod for his faithful readers.
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Forty Shambling Iron Norse Witches Love Zumbador

Iron Kissed, by Patricia Briggs
Romp, romp, romp. Still very satisfied with how Mercy figures out her relationships (all of them, not just the romantic stuff). Next one already on hold at the library.
(7/200)

Shambling Towards Hiroshima, by James Morrow
I don't think James Morrow could write a bad book, and you would think that "aging b-movie actor tells the story of how the US army almost unleashed real live behemoths on Japan during WW2" would be the sort of thing I would like, but this never gelled for me. However, as I am a completist about my favorite authors, I am still glad I read it.
(8/200)
Forty Years in Canada, by Jack Whyte
This odd mix of rhymed verse and fragmentary recollections grew on me as I read. Quite fond of it by the time I finished.
(9/200)

Norse Code, by Greg van Eekhout
Very fun story of how a Valkyrie and a relatively minor god conspire in an attempt to stave off Ragnarok at the last minute. It's action-packed and charming; a little emotionally distanced, the same way Niven and Pournelle's retelling of the Inferno is, but like that book, there's no question that the characters have rich emotions - we're just not quite immersed in them. I'm not sure how a story can be undemanding and epic at the same time, but van Eekhout manages it here.
(10/200)

El mosquito zumbador, by Verónica Uribe and Gloria Calderón
Delightful rhythms and a sense of humor grace this story of two kids in search of relief from a very annoying mosquito. Also, the illustrations are really marvelous.
(11/200)

Hatter M, vol. 3: The Nature of Wonder, by Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, and Sami Makkonen
Hm. The 2nd volume of this was fathoms better than the 1st volume. I felt like this third one had bits that were as unappealing or difficult to follow as the tiresome bits of the first volume, but also bits that were even lovelier and more exciting than the best bits of the second. Hard to say what the next one will be like, but I'll be on the lookout for it. Also, I should get around to reading the novels these comics were spun off from. One of These Days.
(12/200, 12/100)

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, by Chris Roberson et al
I was a bit dubious since, well, nobody does Bill Willingham quite like Bill Willingham does, but this was plenty good. Kind of like a Fables / Queen and Country mash-up, only more lighthearted.
(13/200, 13/100)

Fables, vol. 14: Witches, by Bill Willingham et al.
And *this* was everything I could ever want from a chapter of Fables - reminding me of all the reasons why it's my favorite currently running comic - except that the main story gets cut off at a very frustrating point. Razzerfrazzer cliffhangers. Luckily, some kind person had warned me in advance. And the not-directly-connected story AFTER the cliffhanger was solid, and had a traditionally conclusive ending.
(14/200, 14/100)
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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The first novel about Thursday Next, the LiteraTec. (She investigates crimes against literature.) There's some really good ideas in this book (like imagining a world so in love with literature that pretty much everyone is arguing over who really wrote Shakespeare's plays) but it seemed like there was just too much, it was starting to stretch credulity. (AND dodos have been brought back? AND the Crimea war is still going on?)

Hmmm, don't know what else to think about the book. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't all that great either.

Next: Beautiful Darkness or Cherie Priest's Boneshaker

(Rest of the Reading List)