Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Black Powder War (Temeraire, #3)Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yeah.. I'm glad I've been taking my time reading this series. The plots change but the plot layout is exactly the same. Always worst case scenarios and M. Night Shamylan plot twists. They're fun to read but getting steadily more predictable and with that, bit by bit more dull and unappealing.

I like this installment in the Temeraire series because more dragons were introduced, if only for a short part of the novel. Not so much the fact that the crew's trek across the desert read almost exactly like the voyage overseas to china in Throne of Jade.Oh, and surprise! Laurence confronts Tharkay about his being sneaky and suspicious, and they'll probably become best buddies. Sounds familiar. In fact, sounds exactly like his conflict and resolution with Granby in the first book, His Majesty's Dragon. Dammit, this book is lacking in originality :(

I must say though, the more I read this series, the more I wish Temeraire was real. He is fiercely protective of Laurence, and it's a lot of fun immersing myself into this fantasy world of dragons and imagining myself to have such a friend and guardian. (I'm a complete and total nerd, I know).

Liking the second half of the novel more than the second. Once Temeraire and his crew escape Turkey with the dragon eggs, they become involved in skirmishes and battles giants the French alongside the Prussians. The story gets a lot more original, and a lot more interesting from that point on, although I worry that it will end with a cliffhanger and I'll be too tempted to read the next installment immediately, regardless of the countless other books I have on my to-read list as well. You know, like reading more of the game of thrones books, as I've only read two so far..

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Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Not incredibly pleased with this book, but at least I'm now only one book away from FINALLY finishing this blasted series. This wasn't my favorite, it was definitely not the worst either.

Mia-Susannah are going into labor with their demon child, which of course means Mia took over and they're now stuck in an alternate New York. Roland and Eddie are back in the 70's, and Jake and Pere Callahan are right behind Mia-Susannah in 1999.

So. Damn. Confusing.

Multiple people in one mind, alternate times and places, the Dogan, the Dark Tower, and now vampires and even Stephen King as his own story's character?!?! My brain hurts. At this point, I'm still enjoying reading the books but I seriously cannot wait for all these confusing parts, and all the loose ends, to finally be tied up in the final installment of the series.

Oh, and I look forward to seeing more of the other characters. Obviously Susannah is important in their quest for the Dark Tower, but even her name in this title didn't prepare me for the lack of all other characters and plot lines besides hers. But I just don't think she's as interesting as the other members of the ka-tet.. Oh well, we'll see what the conclusion has in store for all of them!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The GamblerThe Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In all honesty, the only reason I picked this book up was because I had to read it for my 'psychology of addictive behavior' class. So naturally, I didn't analyze it as I normally do books, but rather I looked at it from a psychological perspective. Can't say I was the biggest fan of this story, but mostly because I was rather mandated to read it and I can't stand being told what to read.

Looking back, this was a pretty interesting story, delving into the gambling habits of a Russian family living in Germany during what I gather to be the 1800's or possibly early 1900's (when was roulette invented, exactly? Or, when did Dostoyevsky write this book again?) Image was everything, and even if the General and his family didn't actually have money, it was important that they appeared to still be wealthy, to maintain their position in society as well as to attract Mlle. de Cominges into marriage with the General, and to attract a potential suitor for Polina.

Oh, Polina. What a bitch. She outwardly tells our narrator Alexis Ivanovitch (almost exclusively referred to be his full name by the other characters) that while he is madly in love with her, to the point of obsession and submission to her every whim, that she hates him. And she basically gets him fired by the General for telling him to go insult a Baron and Baroness, which he of course does. Stupid arrogant girl.

Anyway, what was interesting to me was that while the 'gambler' referenced in the title is in fact Alexis, he does not really figure to be a gambling addict till closer to the end of the story. In the beginning, I thought it referred to Polina, who gave Alexis money to gamble with (because it was relatively frowned upon for women to get so drawn into the excitement of roulette). Or possibly Mlle. Blanche de Cominges, who is drawn to men for their money, from the Prince to the Baron to the General to Alexis himself, after his big winnings on the tables. Maybe even The Grandmother Antonida, who loses all her money (literally all of it) in a matter of 2 days in the casinos. No, Alexis was to me a smart gambler in the beginning, who was of course enthralled by the thrill of the casino, but cautious and too aware of himself to get too carried away (at least at first). He loses his small amount of money kinda quickly though, but by the end of the book still seems to me to be less of a gambling addict than the other gambling characters (still looking at you, Antonida.)

It was a relatively good book to read, especially for a classroom assignment. I like Dostoyevsky's style of writing slightly more than Dumas, almost wholly because Dostoyevsky pretty blatantly states what is happening at each point in The Gambler. In Dumas's works, it's a little more flowery descriptive writing, making it a little more difficult in some parts to ascertain what is happening plot-wise, and what is just metaphors and description. And this was a quick book, I read it in maybe 3 hours or so. Even if you read it and dislike it, it's not that much time that you've lost :P Oh, and this was more of a 2.30am rant than a book review, but I'm still pleased with how this rant came out, please post comments if you agree or disagree with anything I've said. I like having book discussions, I'm a nerd like that.

- Justin

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

The Rules of AttractionThe Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a lot of fun to read, even though I'd already seen the movie multiple times (I never bothered seeing if it was based off a book, until I bought it on DVD, and was recommended the book by a friend. Otherwise I would've read the book first, of course). It was harder to keep track of all the characters, especially since the story is told from more points of view than the movie was. I thought it was really interesting that the characters were never really physically described, so it makes it easy for the reader to put him or herself into the different characters' shoes and feel what they were feeling, and experience what was happening to them.

This is a fairly accurate portrayal of the death of romanticism and love in the drug-infused 1980's. Kind of sad, in a realistic not-everyone-gets-a-happy-ending kinda way. Because let's be honest: does everyone find their one soulmate in life? No, not too frequently. Just look at that divorce rate. Anyway, I consider myself a romantic, and like to think that eventually I'll have that perfect life; wife, 2 kids, white picket fence, and a golden retriever. All the characters in this book want the exact same thing. They want to find their other half, and be happy. They want love and romance, but don't seem to find the right person. And don't seem to motivated to make the love and romance thing actually work out, they just want everything to work out on its own. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Shit happens. Deal with it.

While I like my happily-ever-after stories, I like the realism of this book. Things happen, good and bad, and you just have to deal with it. Nobody wins by the concluding pages of 'The Rules of Attraction', and that, in a cynical kind of way, makes it all the more realistic. Fun book to read, and I am really happy I was recommended this. Definitely recommend for pretty much all my friends, romantics or not.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Scott Pilgrim, #1)Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quick blurb about Scott Pilgrim vol. 1...

I'm not the biggest graphic novel/manga reader, mostly because I feel like I fly through them and I don't feel like I get much out of them enjoyment-wise, but also because I don't feel like I appreciate the artwork and plot the way I really should. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life was definitely a great move on my part (thanks, Sergio! Awesome recommendation). It was hilarious and easy to follow, although sometimes the characters blended together (especially the girls, I don't know why but sometimes I couldn't tell anyone apart). The style of illustration went along very well with the light and easy-going nature of the story, it was quick and energized and pretty much exactly what one would expect from the storyline itself. If you enjoyed the movie, i highly recommend picking up this manga. It's much, much better and much, much more involved and in-depth, which means a lot more jokes and a lot more fun.

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