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Posts tagged ‘book reviews’

Book #71: The Death Of The Heart

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not the kind of guy who enjoys reading teenage love stories on my beach vacation, which will be here in a few weeks.

So it’s wonderful timing that I’m wrapping up The Death of the Heart today—just in time to leave it at home when I go on vacation. Won’t The Lord of the Rings be the perfect read for the beach?

I took way too long to finish this book. At first, I thought the novel would be a slog—the opening didn’t exactly give me warm and fuzzies about enjoying The Death of the Heart. But it improved. The novel gets better. Elizabeth Bowen is obviously in her element writing this book. Everything about the story feels natural and unforced. Read more

Character Development In The Death Of The Heart

I don’t know what to do with The Death of the Heart.

It’s a novel that lulls me to sleep, then quickly pulls me back in. It’s a novel with little action and large amounts of character development. I’m still not sure how I’ll rank The Death of the Heart when I review it next week.

If you’re looking for a glowing review of the novel, check out Charlotte Freeman’s take at The Rumpus. She calls The Death of the Heart “the last book she loved,” and has this to say about it. Read more

Book #70: Red Harvest

Red Harvest is a great book.

It’s the type of novel you can sit down and read in a few hours and enjoy every minute. The story is fast-paced and strong and Dashiell Hammett’s writing is on point.

If you haven’t read any of my previous posts about Red Harvest (see them all here), here’s a quick story summary:

The Continental Op is a private detective hired by a millionaire in small-town Montana. This millionaire, Elihu Willsson, wants the Continental Op to come in and clean up a lot of the organized crime activity, including a dirty police force, that has been brutalizing the town for months.

Once the Op gets in town, guess what? You guessed it…all hell breaks loose. Read more

Book #69: Possession

Let me tell you about Possession.

In fact, I’ll give you a quick outline of the novel in case you were considering reading it. No real spoilers, but here’s the breakdown: Read more

Possession: You Hate It Or You Love It

Last week I told you guys I was out of things to say about Possession and/or A.S. Byatt. I’m saving the tiny bit I have left for my review. I really hate this book.

So I thought I’d let the sometimes-friendly reviewers at Good Reads tell you a little more about it.

The book has more than 42,000 ratings and 2,600 reviews, with an average rating of 3.85 out of 5.

As I highlight some of the reviews below, I’ll be fair. I’ll include 3 one-star and 3 five-star reviews of Possession.

Who cares what I think? Let the reviews speak for themselves. Read more

What’s The Best Book You’ve Read In The Last Year?

All of us love a good book recommendation.

Except for me. You can give me book recommendations, but I can’t really act on them right now because of some stupid book list I’m reading through.

But you’re not confined to a list. You are a free reader, are you not? So this post is all about you.

Tell me and everyone else what’s your favorite book you’ve read in the last year. Read more

I Can’t Read Your Book

I can’t read your book.

At some point during the last year, I started getting a lot of book review requests.

I’m honored that people want me to read their novel and use my small platform to tell others about it. But here’s the thing: I don’t have the time.

And here’s the other thing: I don’t just review random books. I review books from a specific list that’s already been created. Your book ain’t on that list, I bet.

I’ve been asked to review memoirs, non-fictional biographies, and vampire-werewolf fiction. Not just once or twice, but dozens and dozens of times. I kid you not.

My first instinct is to respond by saying “HAVE YOU READ THE HEADER AT THE TOP OF MY BLOG? AND HAVE YOU SPENT MORE THAN 10 SECONDS AT MY BLOG?”

Read more

Revisiting “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”

Today’s kind of a lazy post, but it’s relevant.

Many critics, and even A.S. Byatt herself, have acknowledged Possession is a response to John Fowles’ 1969 novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

So before we jump into Possession, I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the story that provoked A.S. Byatt to write her novel in the first place.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman currently sits at #27 in my rankings of the first 68 books I’ve read from the Time list. Before I read the novel, I thought I wouldn’t like it—thinking of it as a Victorian romance. And it is partly that, but to dismiss it that easily does a great disservice to John Fowles. The man was excellent at his craft.

So instead of me babbling on and on about a book I read nearly three years ago, I thought I’d just repost that review here today. It’s been awhile, so just reading this review again reminded me of why I enjoyed The French Lieutenant’s Woman so much.

And, hopefully, Possession will prove to be as interesting.

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Book #68: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Here is my one word, highly academic, response to Their Eyes Were Watching God:

Wow.

Five years from now, if you ask me about some of the books I’ve read from the Time list, I’m sure there will be many that I’ve forgotten about. That’s what the blog is for—to help me remember.

But this is one of those novels that I won’t forget. Everything about Their Eyes Were Watching God is memorable—the story, the characters, the settings, the writing—oh, the writing.

Zora Neale Hurston’s writing is so ridiculously good, and the story itself is so strong, I wonder how this woman hasn’t been given more praise than she has. How did she not get “rediscovered” until the 1970s? What’s wrong with us?

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Book #67: Money

Money is one of the wildest novels I’ve ever read. Pardon the literary cliché, but it’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish.

The novel is such a romp that I don’t even know where to start reviewing it.

Let’s just say that Money is told from the point of view of the classic unreliable narrator. John Self is a raging alcoholic. In fact, it wouldn’t be out of line to say that he is drunk through probably 90% of the novel.

He battles other addictions, like sex and cigarettes. At one point, Self even says, “Unless I specifically inform you otherwise, assume I am always smoking another cigarette.”

The man is a narcissistic basket case. He’s a jerk, a man of terrible morals, but Martin Amis almost, almost, almost makes you like him because of his sense of humor and self-awareness.

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