Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Manny

I don't know where I first heard of this book or why I thought I wanted to read it.  I think I must have thought given the title and the cover that this would be fun, harmless Chick Lit.  Entertaining, amusing, another Nanny Diaries type book.  But boy was I wrong.

Save yourself and never, ever pick up this book.  It is not funny.  The writing is terrible.  The plot is hackneyed and beyond predictable.  If you want a fun look at New York's Upper East Side watch some Gossip Girl or pick up any of Meg Cabot's books set there.  But for my Type A, must finish what I start personality, I would have and should have put this book down well before hitting its 351 page end.   Allegedly Ms. Peterson is writing another novel.  It will not be on my To Read list.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The End

I'm cranking through series this month.  In this period of time where I'm thinking about endings, first Dark Tower, then Battlestar, LOST next year, I think The End does a wonderful job of telling yet another story in the misadventures of the Beaudelaires yet also waxing quite eloquently on the nature of stories and the in medias res nature of most. We just don't get all the stories, even the ones that prominently affect our own lives.  While we might want to know everything, we just don't get to because that's not the nature of things and that's certainly not the nature of fiction where the number of pages or episodes are finite. And while we may not be satisfied with all endings we're given (fade to black), Lemony Snicket has done an admirable job of ending the beginnings he started. Bravo!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

When Will There Be Good News?

Read this author!  One of my favorite books I've read in a while.  I was enjoying it so much I didn't want to keep reading because then it would be over.  This is the 3rd novel by Atkinson that features Jackson Brodie.  Case Histories comes first, then One Good Turn.  Atkinson is a master of writing intertwining narratives about characters you really care about.  Ostensibly crime fiction, but the crimes serve merely to get the actors in motion.  Full of twists and turns, I envy everyone who is reading this book for the first time.  I can't wait until Ms. Atkinson's next offering.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Battlestar Galactica

Wow what a series!  I watched most of it on DVD, but managed to catch up in time to watch the last 10 episodes as they aired.  This is a fantastic character driven story full of themes ripped from the headlines of our early 21st century world--themes like racism, multi-culturalism, terrorism, torture.  This was a show that could really make you think, but instead of being merely high-minded and preachy, it got down and dirty by driving the story with characters you loved, characters you hated and characters that made you love then hate them then love them again (or vice versa).  

Don't be scared off by thinking it's too Sci Fi (or SyFy, stupid network).  The setting of space was merely that, a setting, though it did lead to some kick ass action sequences, always a plus.  This is a series I'd recommend to everyone, especially everyone who likes LOST.  The continuity of the story is not as intense as in LOST, but BSG does pay off long threads, most of them in a very satisfying manner.  Go watch BSG!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Island of Doctor Moreau

Yep, another Island book. And boy am I glad this isn't one that's had too much influence on LOST. I much preferred this to the other Wells book I read recently, The Time Machine. Wells writing style in the 8 years between the two greatly improved in terms of readability. Essentially a shipwreck story, the Island is a place for science to be pushed to its limit and those things which define humanity itself challenged in more ways than one.

Arthur & George

This book has been on my To Read List for a couple of years now. And now I wish I'd read it earlier. This is one of my favorite type of novels. It's the story of two lives, essentially from birth to death, and how they came to overlap. And what's more, it's based on real people. Arthur is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame, or infamy he might say. And George, well he's also real, but I'll let you discover his story for yourself. To tell you much would give his part away. Much of the story is based on fact including actual transcripts of various proceedings and correspondence. The setting is pre and post turn of the 20th century England. The pacing is a little slow in the beginning, but then it is wonderfully quick paced. The author does a great job of making you feel for the characters, but all the while making you wonder if there's something you don't know yet that will turn everything on its head. While not at its heart a mystery, the way those elements blend into this story of lives, famous and mundane, add to the enjoyment of reading Arthur & George.

The Dark Tower

Thousands of pages and I and Roland have finally arrived only to find --- no, I'm not telling. I've actually added up the pages from the 7 books I read. It's 4656. Wow! And worth it. I've enjoyed this journey I've taken with Roland and his ka-tet. I started reading the books because of LOST, of course, and there certainly have been numerous themes that overlap between the two endeavors.

But a couple of things stood out to me as I embarked on this last 1000 pages of my quest. First and foremost, the Dark Tower protagonist and those involved with him understood their quest, much as I understood my quest was to read all these pages. That's a key thing that's been so lacking and often so frustrating in a hurts so good way on LOST. It's clear our 815ers and therefore us as viewers still don't have a clue what our goal is. Widmore may know; Ben may know; Jacob may know; Richard may know, but I wonder if we'll ever know even after that final episode airs.

Given this lack of goal on LOST I decided not to try to document all the overlaps in details between this book and the TV series. There were lots. I'm not sure if it's a case of homage or if it's a case that certain details signify certain things in the sci fi/fantasy genre, but trust me, the next time I encounter brain hemorraging, I'm going to assume teleportation or some form of time travel.

I don't really want to go on anymore, just suffice it to say that I'm glad I finally finished this series. I was very satisfied with the ending, and I think both the journey and the destination were worth the commitment.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Penultimate Peril

Only one more Beaudelaire book to go!  The Penultimate Peril reunites the Beaudelaire orphans with many volunteers and villains from their past.  In fact this is getting more and more like LOST and its myriad crosses.  And as the question of justice arises, our "heroes" can't plead innocent, but only comparatively innocent which makes me wonder if Ben or Widmore should make that plea.  The question of whether it is okay to do bad things for good reasons is at the forefront of this tale.  And as is the case with life I suppose, non of us are completely innocent, not even children orphaned and placed repeatedly in peril through no fault of their own.