Bridget O. (sixteendays) - - Reviews

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11/22/63
11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 263
Review Date: 4/24/2015


This isnt a book review; its a love letter to Stephen King.

I read my first book by Stephen King when I was 11-years-old; the summer before 6th grade, 1992. I read It, and I dont remember a thing about reading it. Something tells me it was a little over a young girls head. I followed it up with Cycle of the Werewolf, which inspired me during the school year to write a short play based on the concept where all of the girls in my class that I disliked were killed by said werewolf. My 6th grade English teacher allowed a few of my friends and I to perform it for the class. As a side note, I also did a book report that year on Piers Paul Reads Alive; its a wonder to me now that that teacher didnt send me to the school counselor.

As anyone who is vaguely familiar with me knows, I am a book lover and have been an intrepid reader since the time I learned how. I read a lot. Last year, when I only completed 79 books (out of the 100 I had aimed for), I felt like a failure. I do not have a favorite author, or genre, and I will choose books based on their covers or on the flimsiest of recommendations. The way I see it, if someone has put their time and heart into writing something and then had the good fortune to get it published, it is probably worth a read. I certainly have never finished any stories Ive ever attempted to put to page, so I feel that if I even have the slightest bit of interest in what theyve written, I owe it to them to experience their art.

I have favorite books, to be sure. If pressed I will claim David Copperfield is my favorite book of all-time, but the truth is that it is just one of group of books that swim in my 5-star pond.

Not more than 30 minutes ago I finished reading 11/22/63 and by the last page (as I read the Afterword through tear-soaked eyeballs), I had redefined not only what a good story is, but also the concept of favorite book.

I love 11/22/63 because I am a lover of stories. I love being able to experience a part of another persons life. Stories are a window into a foreign soul and reading them is a way to open your eyes to how people are very different, and how people are often very much the same. The story of Jake Epping and George Amberson is the best representation of this that Ive seen, as it also illustrates how there are different versions of ourselves that lie dormant inside of us; it is often our environment and the people we encounter that causes these other versions to be freed.

I love 11/22/63 because I am a historian and a lover of history. (There are two very distinct things to be, and Im not sure you know the difference unless you are both.) Historians have been enthralled with the idea of what if? since the first historical record was put into print. If youve never looked up what if Germany won the war? or what if Hitler didnt die? I think youd be surprised at the enormous amount of theoretical writings that are available. This story uses its central character as a way to explore American history from not only the what if? context, but also from an incredibly interesting social history context. It is rare that anyone realizes they are in the midst of history while they are living it, but in this story our Jake/George knows that he is witnessing history before his eyes and oftentimes finds himself overwhelmed by the awe of it. Just imagine if we could all see our present with that kind of clarity?

I love 11/22/63 because I love love. Its not something Ive been very good at in my life, but it is something Ive experienced on a handful of occasions. Jake writes But I believe in love, you know; love is a uniquely portable magic. I dont think its in the stars, but I do believe that blood calls to blood and mind calls to mind and heart to heart. There are a lot of arguments out there for the different kinds of love, and the importance of lasting love and the heartache of unrequited love, but nothing has ever seemed as true to me as Jakes understanding of how to find, and recognize, love.

I love 11/22/63 because I know that if someone asked me what did you like so much about it? I would never be able to answer their question to satisfaction. As I sit here, thinking of how to end this, I find myself placing my left hand upon the cover, as if it were the Good Book and I was being sworn to testify. Its a book about a man going back in time to stop President Kennedy from being assassinated is a justifiable way of introducing it to another person, but its really not what this book is about at all. Thats like saying Donnie Darko is about a kid that hallucinates a rabbit or The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a phantom painting.

I love 11/22/63 because Ive never had an experience where Ive said Eight hundred and forty-nine pages was not enough. It wasnt. Not nearly.


33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day
Review Date: 11/8/2014


This may be the first time I've ever had a love/hate relationship with a non-fiction book.

It's safe to say that for nearly the first half of this 600+ page exploration of protest through song, I was enraptured. As a historian and a music-lover, I was in awe of the way Lynskey folded global historical events in with the chapter title songs. The first chapter, on Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" as well as the chapter on James Brown's "Say It Loud-I'm Black and Proud" are excellent examples of where the combination is done so almost flawlessly. By the time I had reached Part III of the book - a trio of chapters written about lesser-known songs and history (from an American point-of-view) from Chile, Nigeria, and Jamaica I had already begun thinking about a way to create a history class based around this idea. It seemed that introducing history via music and the protest song was a perfect way of illustrating historical ideas and ideals.

Something happened to the narrative of the book once it hit the mid 1970s, and it wasn't an improvement. Suddenly the chapters seemed disjointed and started feeling more like short essays on ideas and songs stitched together to create the larger chapters. The historical narrative, in itself simply a 100-level glossing of political events, was overtaking the musical narrative. The chapter on U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" has little to do with the title song, and instead describes U2's entire catalog and how it relates to the history of the years in which they were written. Chapter 20 on Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" is a neutered history of political hip-hop in the early 1980s and spends most of it's time forgetting to talk about "The Message".

By the time the book reaches the end of the 80s, into the 1990s and beyond, Lynskey becomes more interested in showing parallels and differences of then-vs-now protest songs than talking about the songs in question. (Excepting Chapter 27 on Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" which is a late book stand out.) Chapter 28 on Huggy Bear's "Her Jazz" says only about the song that it began as a 'zine article before becoming overshadowed by the history of Bikini Kill (much like in real life). In perhaps the most bizarre chapter, the story of Rage Against the Machine's "Sleep Now in the Fire" says absolutely nothing about the title song other than the fact it existed. It then interweaves the history or Radiohead as if there was some sort of connection between the two. Unsurprisingly, Lynskey dramatically fails at the attempt.

Chapter 32 (Steve Earle's "John Walker's Blues") spends more time talking about the Dixie Chicks than its supposed subject, and perhaps most disappointingly, the final chapter on Green Day's "American Idiot" spends three and a half pages discussing Green Day before peetering out in a weak history of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina.

In the epilogue, Lynskey talks about the feeling he has had writing the book, that the era of the protest song may be over, buried under armchair internet activism and the flux music industry. This, perhaps, is his excuse the for floundering second half of his book, but it's not one I am ready to accept. For an author to so expertly move between and along with the racial history of the 60s and the war protests of Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie, Lynskey has no excuse for being unable to transition into the new history or music and protest in the 2000s. Excepting, of course, for either laziness or his not-so-hidden anachronistic views of how protest songs should be.


After Alice
After Alice
Author: Gregory Maguire
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 1.9/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 3/27/2016
Helpful Score: 1


It too me a dreadfully long time to get through this rather short book.

One truth is that I've never been all that interested in Alice In Wonderland. The story, in any form, has never caught my fancy.

Another truth is that the only non-tedious parts of After Alice did actually occur in Wonderland, but they were few and far between. Less than half of this book actually takes place in Wonderland, and even the parts that do are kind of a mess.

You get a small peak at some notable Wonderland residents, but mostly this book is trying to get at something else. But what that is isn't very clear, and mostly it talks itself in conceited circles.

This rarely happens, but after I finished the last words and the cover I said to myself "Stupid." Out-loud. To myself.

I didn't think it was possible for Maguire to write something more uninteresting than Lost. I guess I was wrong.


The Art of Falling
The Art of Falling
Author: Kathryn Craft
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/23/2015


Penelope Sparrow is a dancer. For reasons she cant seem to remember, she has jumped off of a 14-story building and woken up in the hospital alive.

Penelope Sparrows story tries to be a lot of things. It tries to be a story of finding oneself using the metaphor of modern dance. It tries to be a treatise on the inner-mind of a woman with an eating disorder. It tries to be an interconnected tale of the different ways love comes to us in our lives. It tries to be far too many things at once and because of its over-zealousness all of these threads end up flat and lifeless.

Penelope Sparrow is one of the most unlikeable characters Ive encountered recently, and in my opinion, she does not redeem herself at the end like I hoped she would. She is so incredibly self-centered, self-involved, and selfish that by the time she finally realizes that through her new best friend she as experienced a kind of love Id never known before it seems forced and ultimately untrue. We are supposed to believe that Penny has opened herself to love but all I saw was someone that made her friends illness more about herself and her own pain than anything else.

Perhaps most uncomfortable in the story is Penelope Sparrows relationship with her mother. The reader is supposed to believe, based on Pennys POV, that her mother has been a demanding task-master that has cared about nothing other than living her own dream of dance through her daughter. What we actually see, however, is a loving, supportive mother that has given up her life and dreams FOR her daughter and in return has lived through 28 years of tantrums. Penny spends the entire book commenting on her mothers weight - in the first half being openly disgusted with how fat her mother is, and in the second half constantly commenting on her mothers new slimmer figure as if that has somehow made her a better human being.

I could sit and pick apart ever other relationship Penny has in the book and how she treats everyone in her life like utter trash, but I think my point is made. I do want to mention how, after working 3 days in a candy factory, she complains how this job is killing me - it was such a clear illustration of how spoiled and privileged her life is (and clearly always will be) that I had to laugh out loud.

Everyone else in Penelope Sparrows story was wonderful, and each one deserved a better friend, and a better daughter.


Batman: The Black Mirror
Batman: The Black Mirror
Author: Scott Snyder
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 6/17/2015


Its been a long time since Ive read Hush or The Long Halloween, so the following statement might be incredibly present-biased:

Scott Snyder writes Batman better than anyone else.

I know people have issues with how dark Snyder likes to go, but thats exactly what I love about it. Last I checked, Batman was dark. Gotham is dark. Its supposed to be. If its light-hearted Batman youre looking for, then I suggest looking up Adam West and Burt Ward. Otherwise, Snyder is definitely the way to go.

There are a decent handful of villains that Batman (Dick Grayson) has to chase after over the course of The Black Mirror - even the Joker shows up with a short cameo. Its James Gordon, Jr., however, that steals the show. A psychopathic serial killer to beat all psychopathic serial killers, James Jr. is creepy to the bone. (No pun intended.)

I refuse to better-or-worse The Black Mirror with The Court of Owls, but they are both on my top 5 graphic novel shortlist.

Scott Snyder, my marriage proposal is still waiting an answer.


Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52)
Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52)
Author: Scott Snyder
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 5/3/2013


When I finished The City of Owls, I proposed marriage to Scott Snyder over Twitter. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear back.

If you love Batman - you will love Court/City of Owls. If you love drama - you will love Court/City of Owls. If you love mystery - you will love Court/City of Owls. If you love good art - you will love Court/City of Owls. If you love Superman - you will love Court/City of Owls.

If you have never, ever, ever read a graphic novel in your life - you will STILL love Court/City of Owls.


Becoming Your Own Parent: The Solution for Adult Children of Alcoholic and Other Dysfunctional Families
Review Date: 4/4/2014


Assures reader that AA and ACOA has nothing to do with God or religion. Only interviews people that constantly talk about God.


The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future
The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future
Author: Robert Darnton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 1/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/9/2015
Helpful Score: 1


I'm having a hard time deciding what this book is more guilty of: false advertising or unreadable dryness.

If you think this is a book about the history of books and how books fit into people's lives differently in the new "eBook age", you would be wrong. As was I.

What Darnton has done here is slap together ten or so essays he had written in the past (like from 30 years ago up to 7 years ago) that sort of, kind of, have to do with the way book publishing has changed as the world moved into the Internet age, but mostly they just go off-topic to long diatribes about his favorite 18th century works or endless thoughts about Google Book Search. (Honestly, in the first half of the book I was convinced this was just a book about Google Book Search and the lawsuits attached to it.)

This book was originally published in 2009, when this mountain of information about GBS would have been up-to-date and possibly engaging. In 2015 it is already incredibly dated and uninteresting. When you throw in other articles written in the 1990s about the idea of books turning digital, it becomes a disjointed, and oftentimes discusses newspapers more than it does books themselves.

The major problem with throwing together all of these out-of-date articles, despite the fact that they sort of touch on the same subject, is that they become nothing but a repository about how one man saw the transformation of printed works move into the digital age as it happened. It creates no linear history and does not call into account a broader discussion of how these changes affected society on the whole.

I was intensely disappointed by the book and I feel almost shocked at how happy I am to be finished with it.


Chopsticks
Chopsticks
Author: Jessica Anthony
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 3/3/2015


This book can be "read" in under 30 minutes.

Laid out in a graphic style, this story is uniquely told through photographs, newspaper clippings, momentos, and instant message chats. It is an interesting and different way to tell a story, and that's what drew me to this book.

Unfortunately, the story that is being told is terrible.

Two self-indulgent teenagers, one a young piano virtuoso and the other a South American immigrant, meet and fall in love. The story, from start-to-finish, is how they both completely ruin their lives because they "love" each other so much.

Perhaps this is what romance looks like to 16-year-olds, but it's not romance, it's a waste of time and effort. Even if that is only 30 minutes.


Circus of the Damned (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Bk 3)
Circus of the Damned (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Bk 3)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 945
Review Date: 5/3/2013


I honestly cannot tell if these books are getting better and better or worse and worse. It's like a black hole of sugary goodness - you know it's rotting you from the inside out, but you just keep falling anyway.

Has the writing gotten any better? Absolutely not. This third book in the series had more typos than you could shake a stick at (not that I'm sure that shaking a stick could really prove much of anything). Has Anita's annoying inner dialogue been improved? Yeah...riiiiiiight. (Did you get that joke?)

But yet there is something almost intangible that makes me want to keep reading these damn books. Will it bring me through the dozens of volumes left? Who knows?


Contactees: A History of Alien-human Interaction
Contactees: A History of Alien-human Interaction
Author: Nick Redfern
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/3/2013


Repetitive information, glosses over the facts. Introduces interesting concepts and does no further work on them (such as cryptoterrestrials and government faked E.T. encounters used to study media response). A small handful of chapters kept my interest, but mostly I had to fight my way through this.

This is not a "history of alien-human interaction". It is 5 or 6 detailed occurrences between the 50s and the 70s, and the author keeps finding things to link to these few things (hence the repetition).

Finally, the formatting in this book is inexcusable. Bottom margins change page-by-page and vary throughout the book from 1/2 to 2 inches (?!), and on one wonderful page, the text inexplicably splits into two columns for a few paragraphs.


Coyote Moon / Night of the Living Rerun / Portal Through Time (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Vol 1)
Review Date: 12/19/2010


Coyote Moon by John Vornholt: Absolutely ridiculous. The story was ludicrous (werecoyotes?? ...and Giles confirms the past existence of werealligators??) and Vornholt had clearly only ever watched one episode of BtVS, ever... and that episode was probably 'Go Fish'. The characters most out of whack were Giles and Xander, but Buffy and Willow were not that far behind. This story read like the author had what he thought was a good idea for a YA book, and somehow got the green light on using the Buffy characters and just stuck them in.

Night Of the Living Rerun by Arthur Byron Cover: Slightly less ridiculous, but not by much. It actually starts out rather promising, with Buffy having a very in-depth dream about the Slayer in Salem in 1692 at the height of the witch trials. It's when Giles also starts having the dreams and Xander dreams that he's a witch named Sarah that the entire thing falls apart. Cover's love of and nod to Night Of the Living Dead is completely misplaced and completely derails the entire plot of the story.

Portal Through Time by Alice Henderson: This fine woman can write a BtVS novel. The longest of the three in the collection, it takes up roughly half of the books pages and nearly makes up for the clusterfuck that is the other two stories. The story takes place mid-season two (before Angel turns) and begins with two vampires that have discovered a way to time travel. They keep going back in time to kill Buffy before she is called in an attempt to change the course of events so that the Master rises, instead of being killed by Buffy. When their attempts fail, they decide to go back farther (like ancient Sumeria farther) to kill past slayers to disrupt the slayer lineage in hopes that Buffy will never be called and therefore THEN the Master will prevail. Buffy and the gang are hot on the vamps heels as they whirl their way through not only Sumeria, but also Wales in 60 CE, Tennessee during the Civil War, and finally Paris on the Night Of Terror during the Revolution (where they meet a few unexpected foes). Henderson knows her BtVS AND she knows her history and she blends them splendidly. I couldn't put the book down during this one.


The Darkest Kiss (Lords of the Underworld, Bk 2)
The Darkest Kiss (Lords of the Underworld, Bk 2)
Author: Gena Showalter
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 691
Review Date: 4/23/2014


I made it about halfway, but I can't finish this. (And I ALWAYS finish the books I start.) This is literally the worst book I have ever read. The writing is terrible, the "characters" are flat and have no discernible personalities. No backgrounds are ever given for anyone or any thing. The men are disgusting, and constantly refer to/treat women like they are property, and the women are drawn as only ever caring about sex. It's simply terrible.


The Daylight Gate
The Daylight Gate
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 12/31/2015


This book reads like someone had part of an idea and tried to tie it together into some sort of story and wrote it as quickly as possible.

Alternatively, this reads like someone explained the witch trials to extraterrestrials and illustrated it to them with 1970s horror films and the aliens tried to write a book about it. Or maybe robots.

Either way, it was definitely the most disappointing book I read in 2015. And somehow, unfortunately, the last book I read in 2015.


Days of Blood and Starlight
Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/26/2015


I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed returning to Karous world of chimaera. And then I was surprised again when I found myself incredibly bored, heartened only by the short chapters and a few moments of brilliance from Karou.

The first half of this book was really difficult for me to get through. All of the main characters (Karou, Akiva, Zuzana) are separated and for some reason it takes 200 pages to basically catch the reader up on each of their lives. Interspersed were chapters from other characters points-of-view that were stuck in just as plot movers so that the reader could see parts of the war that the main characters werent privy to. This really slowed down the story and made me feel like I was drowning in plot (and misery).

The second half of the book picks up when Zuzana and Karou are finally reunited, but I can only admit to being fully rapt for about half of the remaining chapters. Very little of Akivas story held my interest, and as I have no personal stake in Karou/Akiva I didnt really care if they found their way back to each other or not. (In fact, after this book, I am firmly in the Karou/Ziri camp.)

This book was written with the knowledge that there would be one more book to come, and it really shows. There is no end to this one; it ends more like a breath is held. The purpose, Im sure, is to make me really want to read the next book, but honestly this one wore me out and Im going to have to take a break from Karous world yet again.


The Dead & the Gone (Last Survivors, Bk 2)
The Dead & the Gone (Last Survivors, Bk 2)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 81
Review Date: 1/3/2013
Helpful Score: 1


This book is what I would imagine they would've twisted Life As We Knew It into had it been made into a fim. Based on the same cataclysmic event, but unworthy ipof the big screen unless we can show New York City being destroyed. The only redeeming parts of this story were Alex's trip to Yankee Stadium to view the dead bodies, and Alex's fever dream near the end. Absolutely none of the characters wew likable in any way, and I found myself wanting them to die just to make it stop.

I understand why the author might have wanted to tell this part of the story, but it was a huge disappointment after reading the first book.


Did I Do That?: The Best (and Worst) of the '90s - Toys, Games, Shows, and Other Stuff
Review Date: 5/3/2013


A genuinely fun book to read, and obviously a quick one. The book is full color with tons of pictures, which helps the whole nostalgia factor. There were very few things in the book that I wasn't also obsessed with in my youth, save maybe Captain Planet.

Compiled almost as if it was blog entries, but that's what keeps it fun and easy. If you need a break from heavy fiction, this would be a good one.


Dragonsinger (Harper Hall, Bk 2)
Dragonsinger (Harper Hall, Bk 2)
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 132
Review Date: 1/14/2015


I read the first book in the Harper Hall Trilogy last year on the advice of a friend. To be honest, it wasnt my favorite. I found the characters hard to connect with and the world pretty difficult to jump into as this is a small part of the larger Dragonriders of Pern series.

What brought me back to continue with the series was the fire lizards. When reading Dragonsong I would think about them even when I wasnt reading and I became a little heart-sick over the fact that they were fictional. They are amazing creatures and I just wanted to see what more trouble they could get up to!

I didn't find myself disappointed, as the fire lizards are front-and-center in this story and make themselves known on practically every page. While Mennoly's journey (no pun intended) is worth reading, it is really the interactions of the fire lizards, and how they may-or-may-not-be connected with people, each other, and dragons, that is the most interesting aspect of this tale to me.

New characters introduced in this second volume were much more appealing than those in Dragonsong. The Masterharper, Sebell, Oldive, and Groghe were all welcome additions to the story.

I can see how this could be a very defining and important series to read for a young adult. I have read many reviews of these books stating how they were integral to their childhood reading experiences. Obviously, I am only just now reading them in adulthood and I cannot help but wonder if a bit of the magic is lost on me. I hope not.


Ecofeminist Philosophy
Ecofeminist Philosophy
Author: Karen J. Warren
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 0.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/30/2011


The worst book I've ever had the displeasure to read. It made me hate Ecofeminism, both the class and the philosophy. So glad it's over.


Embrace (Violet Eden, Bk 1)
Embrace (Violet Eden, Bk 1)
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 5/3/2013


I have the first book in 4 different series that seem to be all the same thing - Hush, Hush & Embrace & Fallen & Fated. When I finally picked up Embrace, after having read the entire Hush, Hush series, I was sure there would be no way I could like it more.

And I don't. But I kind of do? Oh I am so undecided.

Violet Eden is much stronger, much smarter, and much more self-determined than Nora Grey. Lincoln is way less creepy than Patch (but Phoenix might be more creepy?) The Hush, Hush series seems like the mythology was much LESS fleshed out than in Embrace, and I kind of liked that. But I missed the amusement park. But...but...but...

Okay, maybe it's completely unfair to be comparing the two. Maybe if I would have read this first, it would have changed my perception?

I'm just very distraught that these two stories exist and now they are forever embedded in my brain. And I REALLY DESPERATELY want magical angel tattoos on my arms.

*The preceding has not been a review but a word!vomit.


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