PolymathicMonkey's 100 in 2013

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PolymathicMonkey's 100 in 2013

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1.Monkey.
Dez 19, 2012, 4:42 am

I'm aiming to read 100 books for the 13 in 13 challenge anyhow, so why not join here as a little extra nudge? lol. My "required" total is actually only 90 I believe but I know some of them I'll read more than the 5/10 "minimum" so I figured why not go for broke ;)

4.Monkey.
Editado: Maio 4, 2013, 3:52 pm

May
Books:
1. Alias Grace
Graphic Novels:
1. Abe Sapien Vol 1
June
Books:

Graphic Novels:

5.Monkey.
Dez 19, 2012, 4:43 am

July

Total:

August

Total:

6.Monkey.
Dez 19, 2012, 4:43 am

September

Total:

October

Total:

7.Monkey.
Dez 19, 2012, 4:43 am

November

Total:

December

Total:

8.Monkey.
Dez 19, 2012, 4:44 am

Hopefully I can pull it off! :)

9rainpebble
Dez 20, 2012, 12:06 am

Welcome PolymathicMonkey. You look pretty organized to me so I am sure you will make it. Looking forward to the types of books you will be choosing throughout 2013. Happy reading.

10judylou
Dez 20, 2012, 1:12 am

Very organised! Starred your thread so I can follow your reading.

11.Monkey.
Dez 20, 2012, 3:33 am

haha well, since I'm in a few challenge groups, I've gotten the hang of making nice neat organized threads :P

12fuzzi
Dez 21, 2012, 11:14 pm

Great to see you so gung ho, PolyMon!

13.Monkey.
Dez 22, 2012, 4:35 am

haha thanks Fuzzi! I'm ending out the year zipping through a bunch of novels, apparently, so hopefully I should be off to speedy start come Jan! :D

14wookiebender
Jan 1, 2013, 3:21 am

Welcome to the group, and good luck with the challenge! I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll be reading.

15.Monkey.
Editado: Jan 10, 2013, 2:21 pm

Book 1: Gorky Park - Martin Cruz Smith, Arkady Renko series #1, c1981, 559p, crime-thriller. ROOT book.
Chief Investigator Arkady Renko has to figure out how & why three dead bodies wound up frozen under the snow in Gorky Park, Moscow. Trying to solve their murders seems to lead him from one heap of trouble to the next. I didn't get into this quite as quick as I had expected, but once things started heating up I had trouble putting it down. I enjoyed it for the most part. I tried to keep from being irritated by the prejudices in it, and the antisemitism, giving Smith the benefit of the doubt that he was merely attempting to reflect a prevalent Russian attitude of the time; it was a bit much, though, and I hope that's toned down more in the rest of the books. Aside of that, I was pleased with the book. Once the ball was rolling everything unfolded nicely, kept interest high, good twists, realistic characters, good stuff.


GN 1: DMZ vol 8 - Brian Wood, c2010, 192p, dystopia.
Matty is finding more ways to get himself into trouble, and I'm not really enjoying him right now. It's easy to see how he ended up where he's at, so even though I'm not liking where things are right now it's still very "real," so still getting high marks. For now, at least. Here's hoping he can turn things around.

16wookiebender
Jan 6, 2013, 7:28 pm

Oh, I liked Gorky Park too, but haven't read on. Have heard mixed things about the later books.

17.Monkey.
Jan 7, 2013, 3:38 am

>16 wookiebender: Yeah someone on here said the first few were all pretty good, and the later ones were a little less so, but still fairly enjoyable reads. I'm not all that discriminating, as long as something is entertaining and written well, I'm usually happy to read it. :)

18.Monkey.
Editado: Jan 13, 2013, 9:08 am

Book 2: Malcolm X: As They Knew Him - David Gallen + like 10 others, c1992, 279p, non-fic biographical. ROOT book.
This book is divided into 3 sections. The first is various "oral remembrances" from those who knew him in some capacity. I liked this, it was nice to hear others' accounts of the man behind the angry media persona, nice to hear how much of a family man he was and how quiet-spoken and polite he was outside the public media presentation. The second section is a selection of interviews he did spread over the years. I imagine this is to give a bit of substance to what people are talking about that he stood for, and how his perceptions shifted over time as he experienced more of the world. However, I read the Autobiography years ago and so already knew what he stood for and how his eyes opened, so I found reading the interviews a bit tedious. In the third section six people speak about the man they knew versus the myth the world saw, the mission he was on, reactions to his death, and the theories around the killers. This section was also good, though some was a little dry. Overall, I give it 4 stars. It was nice to "hear from" the people who actually knew him and were close with him, and see their fond feelings for him expressed. But parts of the text were a little dry, I just wasn't feeling certain bits so much.


GN 2: DMZ vol 9 - Brian Wood, c2011, 127p, dystopia.
This volume is back up to par, back up to what made this series such an important piece in the first place. It makes up for the last one being so-so, and makes up for the behavior in it. Really pleased with this one!

19.Monkey.
Jan 13, 2013, 9:06 am

Book 3: The Alienist - Caleb Carr, c1994, 496p, detective mystery-thriller/historical fic.
10-12 Jan
I adored this story. Fast-paced (I read over 320pgs in one morning/afternoon), keeping you on your toes the whole way through, all the characters completely loveable, and fabulous historical fic angles! I just loved it all.
It's a Laszlo Kreizler series book, but our actual narrator is John Moore, a crime reporter. A somewhat unlikely group of folks comes together to combine their various knowledge of the city & its seedy underworld, and psychology & investigation, in order to solve some nasty murders taking place around the city. With all the extensive high-tech forensics we practically take for granted these days, it was quite interesting to "experience" a story taking place over a century ago, where some of our most "basic" methods of the present were just coming into play and were not accepted science yet. Thoroughly enjoyable story, all-around.


GN 3: Fables vol 14 - Bill Willingham, c2010, 184p, fairy tales.
13 Jan
Finally, a volume that I really enjoyed reading, post-war! It wasn't as great as the earlier ones, but there were a handful of things that made me laugh out loud, which there hadn't really been any of recently, and I was completely interested. The other post-war volumes have left me wanting. I hope it continues in this vein. Seems like Willingham can only handle things when there's a large objective they're striving for - when there's not, the story simply flounders. He seems to have found his various goals now, and found his mojo once more. Here's hoping that continues!

20fuzzi
Jan 13, 2013, 10:53 pm

::lurking/reading::

21wookiebender
Jan 14, 2013, 12:34 am

Ah, must bump my copy of The Alienist up Mt TBR a bit!

22.Monkey.
Jan 14, 2013, 3:51 am

*waves @ fuzzi* :)

>21 wookiebender: It's definitely recommended! :D

23.Monkey.
Jan 14, 2013, 2:28 pm

Book 4: Anil's Ghost - Michael Ondaatje, c2000, 300p, war/human rights/historical fic.
13-14 Jan
Overall I'd say I enjoyed this. The way he writes kept me interested; I read it very fast (essentially three periods of sitting reading 100 pgs each), and was anxious to se where things wound up. However, I wasn't fond of how it jumped around. Flashbacks/memories randomly creeping in without idea of when they were taking place, where they fit in... the first time it completely confused me and I had no idea how she'd gone from one scenario to a completely different one. There's too much jumping around in time and from character to character's perspective. I don't care for that style at all, not in short little hops back and forth like this, and I don't think it worked well here. But I did enjoy the story told, and thought he did a good job with the emotional impact - making it clear just how much all these murders touched everyone. Definitely not a cheerful read, but worthwhile nonetheless.

24judylou
Jan 14, 2013, 5:51 pm

Those sudden, unannounced jumps back and forth can be a bit offputting. While I do like a story that goes back and forth, I prefer to know where and when I am before I have read a few pages!

25.Monkey.
Jan 14, 2013, 6:06 pm

>24 judylou: Yeah I don't mind some various shifts, but this just jumped around like crazy, random memories that just started in the middle of things going on and didn't really fit with anything and were all out of sync, jumping around from person to person, and them going back and forth, just way too hard to try and keep track of the when of everything.

26.Monkey.
Jan 15, 2013, 12:26 pm

Book 5: Gold Coast Madam - Rose Laws, c2012, 203p, autobio/prostitution.
15 Jan
Rose Laws has led one heck of a life! She's famous for being a "madam," but frankly I think a book devoted to her childhood would be far more interesting to read. The first part of the book dedicated to her early life with her large family in rural Tennessee on a farm with no electricity and no running water or outhouse even, was surely one of the most interesting childhoods I've ever had the joy of reading about. The rest of the book was still interesting; fairly fast-paced easy reading and definitely a side of life I have zero experience with, so it was intriguing to read about. However, it's clear either that Harris is quite unexperienced as an author, and/or that their agreement for her writing the story out came to not much more than transcription from the tapes Rose gave her. The voice of the text seems pretty verbatim of Rose simply talking about her past, complete with frequent exclamation marks, lists of addresses of former living and working arrangements, and in some parts it simply feels like a gloating list of all the men she was able to get favors from. There's a lot of good material here but it could definitely benefit from an experienced writer giving it a proper voice.

27.Monkey.
Jan 16, 2013, 4:20 am

Book 6: Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie, c1920, 187p, whodunnit. ROOT book.
15 Jan
Christie's first Poirot, and first novel at all. Fabulous as a first novel. There were layers and layers of clues, and "Poirot" does an impeccable job of steering the reader, through Hastings, exactly where he wants us to go. I saw through some of the layers, but definitely not all of them, and wound my way through the several twists Christie/Poirot lead us around, to find myself in surprise at the end.

I've read several Christie before (though this was my first Poirot), and I'm not crazy about how short her novels are and how little character development or plot there is—everything is simply all about the mystery and clues—or really her writing style at all, but the twists and turns you stumble through in her whodunnits are nearly unmatchable, and her books are incredibly fast reads, so I still enjoy them quite a bit.

28wookiebender
Jan 16, 2013, 5:20 am

Oh, Agatha Christie is always very good fun!

29fuzzi
Jan 16, 2013, 8:53 pm

PolyMon, I think I'll try that Christie book. The only other novel of Agatha Christie's that I've read was And Then There Were None.

30.Monkey.
Jan 17, 2013, 4:16 am

>29 fuzzi: I've read several, but not that one. I just pick them up as I find them at the 2ndhand stores and book fairs and such. :P

31.Monkey.
Editado: Jan 27, 2013, 5:12 am

Book 7: Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams, c1979-92, 815p, sci-fi comedy. ROOT book.
16-23 Jan
I enjoyed these stories, or well, most of most of them, but it was too much at once. I made it through about 3.5 before I starting thinking to myself "isn't this over yet?!" and wanting to move on to other things.

It was really just the last one that I wanted very much to be over with already. It didn't help matters that I ended up not caring so much for it, either! The story had its moments (like they all did) but there were definitely fewer of them, and maybe because it came so much further down the road, or maybe he intended on it truly being the end for the series, or who knows, but, it just had a much different atmosphere, was more of a downer through a lot of it. It was still clearly the same intelligent hand that wrote the others but, they all had that light-hearted deal behind the deep thoughts, that whole carefree -let's not make a big fuss about things but simply forge on ahead to what comes along next!- attitude, while the last one just sort of feels like, they've resigned, turned submissive, stopped trying to seek real enjoyment and adventure. Except for Ford, of course, because you know, he's Ford, after all. His parts were as great as always, but he was a much more minor character in it.

And, I didn't really like how it ended. I mean there was of course that certain bit of flair to it, but... eh. I would have been happier had it just stopped at number 4. Books 1-3 I enjoyed quite a bit. Book 4 was alright. Book 5 I'd almost rather not have read.

On a more positive note, there are lots of very amusing, as well as thought-provoking, moments in these stories, and overall I enjoyed them quite a bit. Adams was clearly quite an intelligent man and I'm certainly curious about his other works, especially those focused more directly on his thoughts.

32.Monkey.
Jan 27, 2013, 10:25 am

Book 8: African Mythology - Geoffrey Parrinder, c1967, 139p, mythology/history. ROOT book #6.
23-27 Jan
This was interesting, and gave me a bit of insight about some African history. However, it was a bit too brief, I don't feel like I took enough away from it; also it was organized by loose topic, so all the different peoples and areas are jumbled together in each, which makes it hard for me to retain which groups were associated with which tales. I understand that it was organized in this manner to show similarities between various myths and peoples and how they differ at other times, and to sort it out by larger ideas, but personally I think it would have been more helpful to sort by region and people, and then make small mentions of the others who share the same notions.

Overall, though, it was intriguing and I'm now curious to read more in-depth histories.


GN 4: DMZ vol 10 - Brian Wood, c2011, 124p, dystopia.
27 Jan
Things are clearly coming to a close. The war is ending. Here we have another of those volumes with bunch of short glimpses from various characters, most known, one random. The last time, it felt a bit disjointed and I didn't care much for it. This time they were all more directly tied together, and poignant. This was a great volume.

33.Monkey.
Jan 29, 2013, 4:08 am

Book 9: The Gun Seller - Hugh Laurie, c1996, 339p, thriller.
25-27 Jan
This book was amazing. I mean, okay, the writing was not award-winning prose, but it's not trying to be! I couldn't begin to count the number of times I laughed out loud or a huge grin spread itself over my face. It was just a riot. And it was a riot on top of a gripping suspense-thriller. I have to give this 5 stars. I maybe shouldn't, because the book itself is technically not that stunning, but I had such a fun time reading this, and I thought it started out fabulously and the end was perfect, so I just have to give it full stars!

34.Monkey.
Editado: Fev 6, 2013, 5:12 am

Book 10: Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut, c1969, 157p, classic. ROOT book #7.
28-29 Jan
I'm not really sure what to say about this. It was...unique. I gave it 4 ★s; it was a quick and essentially enjoyable read, about a difficult subject. It's just hard to really sum up thoughts about it though. So, yeah, I'll just leave it at that.


GN 5: Hellboy (library edition) vol 1 - Mike Mignola, c1994/1997, 327p, sci-fi-fantasy.
30 Jan
I've seen the Hellboy movies and loved them, but mostly because Ron Perlman is just fabulous (and I also think Guillermo del Toro does amazing work). So it took me a while to decide to pick up the GNs. Not that I thought it'd be bad, but I knew the movie would obviously be at least a bit different, and because it's already been out so long, so many issues waiting, and it's got tons of hype over the years. All that stuff, I tend to shy away from. But I figured, Mignola is pretty good, and now there's these various other Hellboy offshoots and I "can't" read them until I actually read Hellboy, so... it's about time. lol.

I enjoyed it. I actually had picked up the first regular volume a month or two ago and liked it, so I thought I might as well go for the massive library editions with their extra content and all. It's fun looking through the old sketches Mignola had before the concepts were fully fleshed out. Anyhow, I like Hellboy and Abe, probably because they're such original characters; quirky, witty, solid, good guys! So far I'm not big on Liz or anyone else, but no one else has really been in focus much so I suppose we'll see. I love the bits of history and mythology that are tossed in, added level of interest! :)

35mabith
Fev 4, 2013, 11:02 pm

Glad to hear the praise for The Gun Seller. I've been waffling on reading it ever since it was on the ER list.

36.Monkey.
Fev 5, 2013, 4:11 am

haha I've had several people on my other threads saying similar who were convinced to give it a go now! ;D

37.Monkey.
Fev 6, 2013, 5:13 am

Book 11: Education of a Felon - Edward Bunker, c2000, 304p, autobiography crime. ROOT book #8.
29 Jan-2 Feb
This was a fabulous book about a fabulous man. He was quite literally a genius and way above his years in mentality as a child, hence his super rebelious nature. As he puts it, he was dealt a bad hand, and the rest of his life he simply tried to make the best of it.

The book is a scathing look at the US penal (and judicial) system from someone who lived it a huge portion of his life. It also demonstrates just how much the system fails for those formerly convicted, who have done their time and paid the price, but then are disallowed from going back into society. You can't get a job with a record, you just can't. Minimum wage crap jobs is all that's open, and even those aren't always! It's a wretched situation.

Anyhow, aside of providing a look at the dismal situation of an American convict, we also, obviously, get a very good look the man writing about it all. And he's someone I wish I could have known. Incredibly intelligent, witty, bold, a bit rash, lots of fun... heh. I'd, sadly, not heard of him before. But after learning all about him, and seeing how well he wrote while doing it, I am quite anxious now to go read his novels.

38.Monkey.
Fev 15, 2013, 10:49 am

I'm behind on reviewing, but I'm up to book 15 and GN 7 of the year :))

39.Monkey.
Mar 16, 2013, 10:59 am

Still being a total slacker on reviews, but I added in the last Feb and Mar titles to the lists!

40fuzzi
Mar 17, 2013, 5:13 pm

Come on...REVIEW. We want to know!

41.Monkey.
Mar 17, 2013, 5:25 pm

hahaha, I will eventually kick myself off my lazy butt, but for the meantime... :P

42.Monkey.
Abr 18, 2013, 8:40 am

Finally adding a new review here! I had to write it, haha, for LTER!
Book #26 of the year, Sultan of Monte Cristo, ER read, read on 13 Apr.

Fair warning, this review is longer than my usual, and scathing! heh.

I love books, I love to read, so many things; so I really hate when I have to write reviews like the the one that's about to come.

So, I will begin with the "positive." The "HWG" had some decent ideas. There are things here that, were they actually fleshed out, could possibly be turned into an interesting book. The main adventure parts of the story could prove to be quite interesting in the right hands.

But the "HWG's" hands are not by a long-shot the right ones. First of all, let's start with "HWG." "Holy Ghost Writer." Now, I don't have a problem with anonymity when a person writes things that are a bit daring/risqué, or someone famous wants to be a "nobody" and see how a book does, etc. You know, reasons. What I will not agree is a valid reason to make up some absurd "name" which is purely for attention, is to use anonymity as a gimmick, and to then reveal the author later on in some goofy contest. I also think releasing 10 mini-"books" (and please take that word with a very large grain of salt, I'd never call 60 pages a book, it's not even a novella!) rather than one or maybe two actual full-length novels is just trying to scream "look at me!" in a really pathetic manner.

Then there's the fact that not once but twice in the pages of this "book" he claims people have called him the "successor to Dumas." Now, I don't know if whoever said this had never read a book in their life, or if they were high, but aside of being disgustingly self-congratulatory, it's also clear that he has zero respect for the man whom he's using to try to make some money. I am appalled on behalf of Dumas. If this had been an amazing book, it would still be a ridiculously self-congratulatory untrue thing to say, but to actually stick those words on this little short story devoid of any detail written by someone who seems to just want to stick some debauchery into text without having to create their own character development or anything but simply use that which is already out there, and to choose something loved by millions in order to get attention... I just have no words for it.

So I will move on, to the work itself.
For one thing, there was serious need of an editor. The sheer volume of mistakes in such a small number of pages is horrendous. Typos, wrong words used, quotation marks in completely wrong places, everything you could think of able to be wrong, it happened.

As for the content, well like I said, the adventure bits could prove interesting ...if they were actually written, and not merely as if mentioned in passing. In 60 pages Edmond is on multiple continents plus a stint in the ocean. And the most details we get are about him being seduced by four different women and about drugs. Really?? If someone were to flesh out the ocean and Middle-East adventures, they could have some merit. In a whopping four pages (which have other rambling nonsense amongst the event) there is the encounter and resolution. The last 24 pages seemed somewhat more promising, there was more actual story going on and this was near completely of "HGW's" own creation. It would have been better if there wasn't so overwhelmingly many lines devoted to Raymee's oh-so-incredible eyes, and without the hyper-sexualized tone.

Overall, this is an incredibly short piece of amateurish tripe and I'm quite sorry I wasted ER picks on it! I would never recommend this to anyone.

43.Monkey.
Editado: Maio 1, 2013, 5:15 am

Now then, since that's out of the way. In the interests of getting back to posting reviews, I will just list everything I've read since the last one, and if anyone is curious for a review of any title listed, speak up, and I'll review it! :)

Books:
13) 218p Ice Station Zebra - Alistair MacLean (9-10 Feb)
14) 307p Black Elk Speaks - John Neihardt (told to by Black Elk) (3-11 Feb)
15) 466p Watership Down - Richard Adams (11-15 Feb)
17) 270p Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (17-18 Feb)
21) 226p The Gates of the Forest - Elie Wiesel (3-5 Mar)
22) 183p The Quiet American - Graham Greene (6-9 Mar)
24) 266p Aesop's Fables - Aesop (16-17 Mar)
25) 250p Bend Sinister - Vladimir Nabokov (16-22 Mar)

Graphic novels/comics:
06) 255p Fables Vol 15: Rose Red - Bill Willingham (6 Feb)
07) 140p Global Frequency Vol 2: Detonation Radio - Warren Ellis (14 Feb)
08) 327p Hellboy (library) Vol 2: Chained Coffin / Right Hand of Doom - Mike Mignola (1 Mar)
09) 090p The Dark Horse Book of Monsters - Mike Mignola (12 Mar)
10) 167p Y Last Man Vol 3: One Small Step - Brian K Vaughan (23 Mar)
11) 142p Y Last Man Vol 4: Safeword - Brian K Vaughan (24 Mar)
12) 327p Hellboy (library) Vol 3: Conqueror Worm / Strange Places (3 Apr)

And from now on I will try to get my mojo back and properly review as I read!

44.Monkey.
Abr 19, 2013, 3:34 pm

Oxford Gothic Tales - Chris Baldick (Editor), 18-25 Feb, 542p
I will be straight with you, I dislike short stories; they're too short, you can't get into them before they're over, their brevity can't provide proper fleshed-out details, and they very often have fairly depressing resolutions—it seems somehow to be in their very nature. However, shortcomings aside, they make for good introductions into distinctive types of literature that one hasn't properly explored before. A good collection of short stories gives a glimpse into the style and characteristic features commonly found, and generally give someone at least a few ideas of authors to look further into. Hence, I will occasionally read some collections (also those of authors I especially enjoy, but I hate when they write them and make me read them! :P). And since I've read very little Gothic fiction but am very interested in it, especially the earlier prominent works, I figured I would brave the evils of the short story and utilize this as a first real introduction.

I especially appreciated the introduction to this anthology; Baldick provided a nice detailed explanation of what makes Gothic literature, its origins, and background. This is rather complex and there's lots of details people disagree about (does it need to have X or Y, etc), but he does a nice job of laying out the fundamentals and giving readers a clear idea of what Gothic means. As for the stories, well, I'm sure Baldick had his reasons for choosing the stories he did, but a handful of them I just did not see the value of. I imagine this is partially due to my natural distaste of short stories, but a few of them just didn't go anywhere at all. That said, there were definitely some good stories in this collection. One that sticks out especially much in my mind is The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Stetson. I don't know that she actually meant any of it to be humorous, but some of her descriptions of what was going on had me laughing out loud. It was not a light-hearted tale, to be sure, but her wit in the text clearly shines. And while I don't enjoy all of Stevenson's tales, I found his Olalla to be quite interesting. These were not the only stories I enjoyed, of course, but they're the two that have really stuck with me the most. There were a bunch more I am glad to have read, though.

So. In the end, in spite of my general lack of favor, I gave this collection four stars. Since I don't care for short stories, my view on them often tends to be rather skewed to the negative; so I rounded up a bit for balance. Maybe that's silly, but I know I judge short stories more harshly than is really warranted plenty of the time.

For fans of Gothic fiction, and/or short stories, I'd suggest giving this collection a shot.

45wookiebender
Editado: Abr 21, 2013, 8:51 am

#42> ouch!

ETA: if you look through the other reviews, the are at least two LT members who only own books by HGW and who give all three books the full complement of five stars. And then almost all the ER readers are completely scathing. Hm, I'm feeling rather suspicious about those two HGW fans...

46KarenElissa
Abr 21, 2013, 9:02 am

>45 wookiebender: Ya, I was noticing that too, almost all the ER reviews are two stars or less and then there are a bunch of five stars, definitely a bit odd...

47.Monkey.
Abr 21, 2013, 9:23 am

>45 wookiebender:/46 Yeah, I talked to Jeremy about it and he's already zapped a handful of the very obvious socks, but the ones left weren't quite as blatant so he can't remove them unless he can find some real proof that they're phonies, even though he does believe it based on the real reviews. At least he's removed a handful, though!

48judylou
Abr 22, 2013, 8:20 pm

>42 .Monkey.: I agree . . ouch!

49wookiebender
Abr 23, 2013, 7:50 am

Ah well, I suppose it's nothing new to "spam" good reviews of your own books, given that we as readers go checking and digging that little bit deeper... But it is a shame for the people who signed up for the ER book, presumably some of them chose it on the basis of some (fake) reviews, before the "real" ER reviews were written.

50.Monkey.
Abr 23, 2013, 8:20 am

heh well, I chose it because the real book was fabulous, so I was curious to see what someone thought they could bring to it. I actually never check to see if ER books have already been released and have reviews, I just choose by what sounds interesting to me & fits my tastes and whatnot.

51.Monkey.
Editado: Abr 29, 2013, 10:42 am

Book 20: The Adventures of Robin Hood - Roger Lancelyn Green c1956, 256p, classic, medieval folklore/legend
26-28 Feb
Initially, I wasn't too sure what to make of this. There's a lot of action going on, as everyone knows of Robin Hood, but the writing doesn't really have that sort of tone. And, because he collected the stories from the various places that they're found and put them essentially in order, to try to make a fairly chronological account come together to make a novel, some of it is a little repetetive and a little disjointed. But, I started to get a lot more into it more around halfway in, and found it more engaging. Plus I had no idea that the "real" Marion was so amazing!! All the movies stick her in the trite old damsel in distress role (ugh!), but as it turns out, she's every bit as badass as Robin, and probably even more clever. I was astonished, and thrilled! Also, Green put pieces from the old text/songs at the start of each "adventure," which I thought was interesting and clever.

This wasn't one of my top favorite reads, but I'm really glad that I picked it up, and I'd encourage others to do the same!

52.Monkey.
Abr 29, 2013, 10:42 am

Book 28: Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami c2002, 505p, magical realism
24-25 Apr
I'm a bit conflicted. I definitely enjoyed reading this, I read nearly 400pgs of it in one day. It certainly grabs your interest, and keeps you on your toes. I really loved Nakata and the cats, and Hoshino once he got involved, made for some great light comedic moments. There was a lot of intriguing things going on that kept up my interest very much and I certainly wanted to see where things would lead.

However, as another reviewer said: "I was disappointed at the ending. Too many loose ties." The ending itself was alright, I mean, the big stuff was wrapped up. But after I finished, I sat there and started thinking about what I had just read, and I realized just how much was left completely hanging from earlier parts. All sorts of things that were made a fuss over at some point in the book, big key things, never went anywhere or got any explanation.

Possible spoilerish questions:
What happened to the children? What in the world went on with the teacher? Who the hell is Crow? Who the hell is Johnnie Walker/Colonel Sanders? Are they the same? Related? Completely separate manipulative entities?? What was going on with Crow in the forest at the end? What was the deal with the blood on Kafka's shirt? Why could Nakata make it rain random crap, and why did he make it rain fish?? What was up with his father's "prophecy"?
/spoilerish

All these questions and more. Plus he makes it seem like there's all sorts of potential future stuff that would go on with the characters, but then at the same time everything at the end seems so damn final, I don't get it. Plus the whole Colonel Sanders bit was just irritating.

So, I'd give the writing/plot 4.5★s but the ending & all the dangling unexplained bits get 2.5★s, for a 3.5 overall.

53.Monkey.
Editado: Abr 29, 2013, 10:53 am

Book 29: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde / The Merry Men - RL Stevenson c1886-7, 244p, Gothic/horror. ROOT book #18.
24 Mar-28 Apr
This book contains Jekyll & Hyde along with the short story collection The Merry Men and Other Tales, which in turn contains the title story, Will O' the Mill, Markheim, Thrawn Janet, Olalla, and The Treasure of Franchard.

Jekyll & Hyde is, of course, a great story. Dark Gothic tale, moral quandaries, all sorts of fun to be had. Most everyone knows the basic premise, so I won't bore you. But if you haven't read it, you should. Even knowing what we all already know about it, in this case, doesn't dispel the suspense that Stevenson creates.

As for The Merry Men. Well, the (incredibly short & sparse and rather pointless) introduction to this collection claims that the stories are of "varying quality. The title story has real merit, but Will o'the Mill and The Treasure of Franchard reveal themselves as early works, written before Stevenson had mastered the short story form." And Thrawn Janet "is a masterpiece. There is a feeling of stark terror in it that is matched only by [...] Sheridan Le Fanu." Unfortunately there is no one named as having written this, so there is no one I can direct my anger at for their pretentious lunacy. Because clearly they haven't the slightest clue what they are talking about.

The Merry Men started out decent enough, but the last third of it turned rather odd and I didn't think much of the ending. Also, two of the characters speak in Scottish brogue and are quite a chore to try and make out, and I missed a good deal of the text for lack of understanding the words.
Will o' the Mill, contrary to dear old Intro Writer, was quite interesting and enjoyable. You really didn't know where it was going or how it would get there, but it was a rather good place to be when it did.
Markheim was short and to the point, a tale of guilt and conscience.
Thrawn Janet, again quite contrary to dear old Intro Writer, was miserable. Written entirely in Scottish brogue (except for the first page (of only nine), which is an introductory bit to what the story is about to tell, and really has nothing to do with anything; so the only legible part of the story is pointless), it is unreadable, racist, and just plain stupid—from what I could make out, that is. And the end was absurd. Seriously I am quite aghast that anyone would dare call such a travesty a "masterpiece." They need their head examined!
Olalla I had read just a short bit ago in the Oxford Gothic collection, so I skipped rereading it here. But it was one of my favorite stories in that collection. The atmosphere is perfect, and is drawn out to that perfect suspenseful point, where things are a bit off but nothing is really wrong yet and you're just aching to know what in the world is going to happen! Very nice.
And last, The Treasure of Franchard, where again, the intro could not be more wrong. Along with Olalla, this was my favorite of the Merry Men stories. It had depth, and though the main character makes you want to throttle him, it was a great story with a fabulous end, and the perfect end to the book.

54.Monkey.
Maio 1, 2013, 5:15 am

Book 12: Forever Odd (Odd Thomas #2) - Dean Koontz c2005, 419p, supernatural thriller. ROOT #9
3 Feb
Superduper loved this book. It was every bit as fantastic as the first Odd book. More ghosts and bodachs, of course, and more crazy folk. And, we can't forget about Elvis. Or about the nonstop dry wit we've come to know & love Odd for already, which makes these books so much more than they would otherwise be. I always have trouble finding words when I'm so enamored with a book, so I'll just leave it at that—it's awesome!


Book 19: Brother Odd (Odd Thomas #3) - Dean Koontz c2006, 364p, supernatural sci-fi thriller.
25-26 Feb
Just can't get enough Odd! This one went a bit beyond the first two with the non-realism, but it was still explainable, in a sense, so I forgive that. I like the new characters a lot, and the rapport Odd has with one in particular (which makes up for the lack of being back in Pico Mundo where he'd have semi-similar back & forths with the Chief) was in itself worth reading the book for. Full of laugh-out-loud moments, and also quite touching moments, as we've come to expect with Odd, and a couple surprises here and there. Great read.


Book 23: Odd Hours (Odd Thomas #4) - Dean Koontz c2008, 352p, fantasy thriller.
14-15 Mar
I was pretty disappointed with this book. I still laughed a handful, and still think Koontz has come a long way from those books in the 90s that I read several of, but, I definitely did not feel so strongly about this one. I love Odd, his humor and wit, and the light supernatural elements; the first two books in the series I simply could not put down, and the third, while a little different, was still pretty great. But this one ...Koontz just took it too far over the top, plus, his repeating stuff from the previous ones so absurdly much is starting to get really grating. It's a series, and technically they can stand alone but they really lose a lot that way. Just deal with it, most people who read them will be "devoted" readers and we DO NOT WANT TO REREAD THE SAME THING OVER & OVER, damn you! It's just a waste of space and it completely rips me out of the book when I'm faced with NOOO NOT AGAAAAIINNNNNN! *groan* Completely kills the mood.

And really, I think he was doing a pretty nice job keeping the supernatural aspect fairly low; there are bad guys, there are ghosts, Odd does good things, things are good. This one... too much. Just too much! It's no longer even the least bit believable at this point (whether you believe in ghosts or not, things were pretty balanced previously, nothing utterly outrageous), we have slipped entirely into the fantasy realm, and even Odd is continually going "I'm seeing all sorts of things that bend the rules I've always known" or whatever. Why change the game four books in?! No. And not just all this new unexplainable junk, but (spoiler for previous book) we've lost Elvis, and now there's none of the normal ghosts & bodachs that the whole Odd line is built on.

I'll still keep reading, but only from the library; I'd be reluctant to pay for book 5 or 6 without knowing first if 5 continues like this one—which it almost certainly does because this one left on a huge cliffhanger. Unfortunately Odd has lost quite a bit of favor with me now after everything went topsy-turvy here.

55.Monkey.
Maio 1, 2013, 5:15 am

Book 16: Hannibal (Hannibal Lecter #3) - Thomas Harris c1999, 480p, horror-thriller.
15-16 Feb
I'm realizing that I really dislike Harris the more I read him and read of him. This was most certainly the worst thing of his that I read. And, shockingly, I actually prefer a lot of the movie changes over the book.

Harris made a pretty big blunder fairly early on. The section chief of Behavioral Science asked Starling if Hannibal "liked her." Um, he's a sociopath, through & through. Sociopaths don't like people, sociopaths don't feel emotions the way the rest of us do. I sincerely hope that the chief of this department would be quite aware of this fact. Otherwise, wow, how did he ever get his job?? And then, this same issue recurs in the end, in another form. While I enjoy the series (it's rare for crime novels to focus so intently on a genius sociopath monster, and to even make him into a character you actually kind of like, and respect (albeit keeping a wary distance); it's different and intriguing), it just gets worse over time. I'm a little worried about reading Hannibal Rising, but since it's supposed to be a prequel, I guess I don't have to worry about Harris stretching trying to make the relationship between Clarice and Hannibal work somehow.

I found a lot of fault with him reading this one, which may be slightly colored by having read Monster of Florence and getting an idea of his personality (which was none too pleasing in the eyes of the Italians he offended), but it's more than that. There was a lot of things, such as his trying to use "fancy" words all the time, rather than how humans actually speak. And I don't mean Lecter, it was the narration doing it. For example Clarice (I believe) passed by a medicine cabinet and it was noted that there was lots of "unguents" instead of just saying salves, I mean come on, no one is impressed by having to find a dictionary for something that does not remotely need a special word! And then there's the fact that, while still ruthless, Lecter is completely not himself about Clarice. And the end, ack, the movie definitely had the right end; the end was so not remotely true to the characters and so frustrating.

I'd really only suggest the serious Lecter fan may want to read this, to finish the story line. But even then, you may just want to stick with the movie.