Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book #1- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Title- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Author- Junot Díaz
Genre- Historical Fiction
Pages- 335
Pages to Date- 335

The Good:  In this book Díaz tells the story of a Dominican Republic family cursed by bad luck.  Their tragic lives manage to captivate the reader and hold attention throughout the story.  The characters also constantly refer back to Dominican history.  This would make the book difficult to follow but Díaz conveniently includes footnotes commenting on the historical references, providing insight into their meaning.    

The Bad:  The narrator of the stories is constantly referencing science fiction books, TV shows, movies, and comic books.  If you’re not well versed in science fiction literature some phrases are confusing.  Similar to this problem is the use of Spanish words and phrases.  Being Dominican, the characters will sometimes speak in Spanish, and unless you know Spanish, good luck understanding.  There are online annotated notes to assist with all of the references, but it gets old reading a page then reading all of the explanations online.

Verdict:  Overall, this book is a fascinating look into a culture’s superstitions and history.  It is difficult to understand some of the phrases and references, but the family’s story captures the reader and will entertain till the very end.  I’d definitely recommend checking this book out, regardless of its hitches.     

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book #23- The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

Title- The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
Author-Various Writers and Translators
Genre- Video Games, Fantasy
Pages to date- 6,862

The Good:
Hyrule Historia is a great choice for any Zelda fan. The book has a detailed account of every game and awesome concept art. The history of Hyrule, viewed through a timeline that was previously a topic of much debate, grant new perspective to fans of the series.

The Bad:
The dense mythology of Hyrule is only lightly covered in this book, but the shortcoming is forgivable, considering that the gaps will most likely be filled by other games.

The Verdict:
Hyrule Historia is a must for any Zelda fan. It is a rather unconventional book, so it's hard to do it justice in a review. If you're interested, check it out.

Book #5-Memory of Light

Book #5
Title: Memory of Light
Author: Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 912
Pages to Date: 3185

The Good:
I have been reading the Wheel of Time series since I was in fifth grade, I am now a sophomore in college, and quite frankly this book is a better ending for the series than it deserves. The focus of this book is Tarmon Gaiden and Sanderson really delivered during the battle sequences, managing to make them seem coherent and the tactics that both sides used actually make sense. Sanderson also manages to put a satisfying cap on this epic series tying off most of the loose threads that had been left hanging throughout the series.

The Bad:
One thing that I have had a problem with throughout Jordan's books is the interplay between men and women, men are constantly perplexed by the nature of women and women are all grumpy old shrews. The clear chauvinism throughout the book is so obvious it is frustrating. Another thing I had a problem with in the book is that only one or two main characters gets killed. Its the Last Fucking Battle for crying out loud people are bound to die, and lots of people do just nobody important.

The Verdict:
If you have already started the series its worth finishing. If you're older than fourteen and haven't started reading them yet don't bother.

Book #4- Deadhouse Gates

Book #4
Title: Deadhouse Gates
Steven Erikson
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 864
Pages to Date: 2273

The Good:
Deadhouse Gates is one of the strongest offerings in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Erikson creates cultures that are rich and feel as if they have the weight of history pressing down on them. The same goes for characters and this book introduces some of the best characters in the series. Duiker, the cynical, fatalistic historian, is one of my favorite characters in the series. I also enjoyed the deeper look the reader gets into characters from the first book such as Fiddler and Kalam.

The Bad:
To be completely honest, this is my favorite book in the series so its very difficult for me to find anything bad about this novel.

The Verdict:
Read this book! By the time I reached the end of this novel I was nearly in tears. Even though it is long it is well worth the read.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book #22- God Is Not Great

Title- God Is Not Great
Author-Christopher Hitchens
Genre- Nonfiction; Atheism
Pages to date- 6,582

The Good:
Christopher Hitchens was an incredibly intelligent man. His essays continue to influence the world in many issues of religion and science. This book was a great collection of arguments against religion that were well-executed, legible, and thoughtful. Rather than babble on in endless cliche, Hitchens uses specific evidence to support his claims.

The Bad:
There isn't much to say in this area, other than a general criticism of books in the genre. It doesn't seem to be reaching the right people. Halfway through, I thought "Why am I reading this? I'm already a convinced atheist." While the book did provide me with great debate ammunition, I couldn't shake the feeling that somebody religious should be reading it instead.

The Verdict:
God Is Not Great is superb in execution and a great read for atheists looking to further their knowledge or wavering believers  looking for a good argument.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book # 1- Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me

Book # 1- Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me

Title- Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me
Poet- Mark Leidner 
Genre- Poetry 
Pages- 94
Pages to date- 94

The Good:  Mark Leidner is a master of playing with the reader's expectations, which allows for exceptional comedic timing in his poetry.  The poems in this book are hysterical because Leidner fleshes them out like a rhetorician and is unafraid to explore every angle of the individual poems. Leidner's poems often seem like a comedian writing a bunch of different lines for his set and putting them down on paper rather than delivering them in a club.  He also makes great use of anaphora (if you know what that means).  

What I've said so far might be difficult to make sense of, so just GO READ THIS BOOK!  It contains poems titled, "Charismatic Ambulance Driver," "The Night of 1,000 Murders," and "Memoirs of a Secret Agent."  What more could you want in a book?  That's right, nothing.          

The Bad:  Mark Leidner has a certain sense of humor that's almost British.  I could see some people finding the jokes cheesy or finding the speaker in certain poems an asshole.  But I find this humor hysterical, so there.    

The Verdict:  This is a very funny book of poetry by a talented poet and definitely a good book to checkout if you are just getting into poetry.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book #21- The Last of the Sky Pirates

Title- The Last of the Sky Pirates
Author-Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Series-The Edge Chronicles, Book 1
Genre- Fantasy
Pages to date- 6,307

The Good:
The Last of the Sky Pirates shares many strengths with other books in the series. Most notable (at least in the first five books) is world-building. Stewart and Riddell put a ton of work into creating The Edge, and the result is a breathtaking land with varying races and scenery. The Edge is a perfect setting for such a whimsical collection of creatures such as shrykes, banderbears, and stormhornets.
The charming eccentricity of the book suits it well, especially in regards to character. Magda and Stob, while both somewhat annoying at times, lend a sense of comfortable familiarity.

The Bad:
As a fantasy series geared towards the interest of young readers, The Last of the Sky Pirates struggles to capture a more mature audience. Rook (the book's protagonist) has a few difficulties here and there, but they all seem to resolve themselves or he is aided by an older, more knowledgeable character. While this makes for some action-packed scenes, most of the time it is a bit disconcerting.

The Verdict:
The Last of the Sky Pirates by no means a difficult read, and readers who are more attuned to adult fantasy may struggle with it. However, the installment of The Edge Chronicles is perfect for anyone looking for a fun, casual, and whimsical journey into a well-crafted fantasy world.