W. R. (NYbooks) - Reviews

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11/22/63
11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 272
Review Date: 2/6/2012


SciFi/ Historical Fiction. * * *. An aging Diner owner entrusts to a middle aged teacher the secret of a time portal located in his Diner in the hopes that the teacher may finish a job the aging owner was too sick to finish himself: travel back in time and stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. At least thats what the book jacket says. That summary is really the backstory; the motivation, if you will, that propels that protagonist's actions.

Jake Epping establishes a second life in the past as he awaits the day he must act. As time passes, critical decisions must be made; decisons that, ironically, were unforeseen; such as, HIS future in the past. The book really asks: Can you live in the past when you know what the future holds?

The book could have been about two hundred pages shorter. Jake takes an initial jaunt as "practice" that really don't affect the rest of the story, if only to establish how the hidden time portal works.

Without divulging whether or not Jake succeeds in his mission, I will say that King's use of time teleportation and its butterfly effects add realism to the conclusion.


The 37th Hour (Sarah Pribek, Bk 1)
The 37th Hour (Sarah Pribek, Bk 1)
Author: Jodi Compton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 118
Review Date: 12/17/2006


not bad, not great, so-so


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 111
Review Date: 7/15/2012


Distorted Biography / Horror. * * ½*. Young Abraham Lincoln suffers a tragedy that will obsess him and shape his destiny as a Vampire Hunter. When he is not building his political career, he is offing a budding America of creatures that have evil intentions in a pre-emancipated country.

The man who "co-authored" "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" pens this well-researched story of Abraham Lincoln. He flips continuously back and forth between fact and fiction giving it a documentary feel.

Leave your history at the door and have fun with it.


The Alienist
The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 543
Review Date: 5/27/2007


The hunt for a killer unheard of in 1800's New York: a serial killer. Excellent escapist fiction


American Gods
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 970
Review Date: 6/2/2007


* * ½*. Fantastique. When I began reading this book, the premise seemed promising; I thought this would be a real page-turner. A man finds himself in the midst of a battle between old gods long forgotten and new gods. Whoa! Seemed like heavy stuff. The narrative is good. Shadow's whimsical sarcastic sense of humor had me laughing out loud at times (most memorable was the scene where he meets the raven). The book reminded me of Clive Barker's early fantastique novels (Weaveworld, Great and Secret Show, Imajica) where ordinary people became embroiled in matters involving other worlds. The problem with American Gods was there really was no plot so much as a pattern: 1.) Hear about the upcoming storm 2.) Move to a new location 3.) Hide 4.) Get discovered. 5.) Repeat.
So, along the way, we meet interesting characters (human and non-human), but nothing happens to propel the story forward. The only reason that I didn't quit the book early is because Shadow is a likable character and you do want to know how certain relationships end, if they do at all.

3/4's of the way, Gaiman finally writes "And so the storm began." I won't say anything about the storm, other than "That's it!?" But Mr. Gaiman could have turned a great premise into a cool book.


The Appeal
The Appeal
Author: John Grisham
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 432
Review Date: 4/21/2008
Helpful Score: 1


* * ½*. Legal Drama. Giant corporation loses against struggling law firm for dumping toxins and polluting town water. Hasn't this story been done umpteen times already? Goliath decides to fight and goes for ... you got it ... The Appeal.

You think you know how the story will go, and you may be right. But Grisham provides enough twists to make this a tolerable read.


The Aquitaine Progression
The Aquitaine Progression
Author: Robert Ludlum
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 59
Review Date: 5/27/2007


One of Ludlum's best. Two words: international cabal.


Big Trouble
Big Trouble
Author: Dave Barry
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 119
Review Date: 1/22/2007


I thought I'd laugh through the 300+ pages. What I experienced was an occasional guffaw every 100 pages or so.

Ok, the book does move fast. If you can keep track of the gazillion characters (well, maybe 20) and their motivations, you can have fun with the book. Don't expect deep, thought-provoking, multi-layered characters. What you get is a screwball race running on high octane that doesn't slow down until the last page.


Black Like Me
Black Like Me
Author: John Howard Griffin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 101
Review Date: 5/27/2007


Classic powerful little book that examines behavior towards a black person.


Bless Me, Ultima
Bless Me, Ultima
Author: Rudolfo Anaya
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 125
Review Date: 5/20/2007
Helpful Score: 5


* * * * A young boy growing up in old New Mexico amidst Catholicism, spiritualism, and the conflict between them. He learns life's lessons from his grandmother who comes to live with the family.

Great novel. Much symbolism abounds in this small powerful book.

DRAWBACK FOR THE NON-SPANISH SPEAKER: The author lends the book authenticity by using many Latin idiomatic expressions, without a translation. Dictionary required.


The Bonfire of the Vanities
The Bonfire of the Vanities
Author: Tom Wolfe
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 178
Review Date: 7/1/2008


I read this when it came out in the late 80's. The author is dead-on regarding everything New York. Exciting page turner.


Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Author: Mary Roach
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 71
Review Date: 10/9/2011
Helpful Score: 2


Science. ***. The author's personal account into the historical research dedicated to sex and the sexes. Includes professional interviews she conducted (some successful, some denied) with said researchers, as well as an experiment or two she engaged in, in the name of science.

Given the author's style of bringing humor and laymen terms to broad subjects, and with such an opportune topic, the book surprisingly is not as funny as I had hoped. I recommend her more recent books: 'Packing for Mars' or 'Stiff'.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Author: Junot Diaz
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 249
Review Date: 1/13/2008
Helpful Score: 4


Fiction. * * * *. Looks at the life of an overweight, lonely nerd aspiring to be a writer and fall in love, and how his life may have been affected by an old Dominican curse. Interspersed with pop culture references and idiomatic expressions, it is both humorous and tragic.


The Children of Men
The Children of Men
Author: P. D. James
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 40
Review Date: 2/17/2007


Tough to start. Not as good as i thought it would be. Interesting second half but the characters were not that compelling.


Choke
Choke
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 580
Review Date: 5/27/2008


* * * * . A man unloved in boyhood fakes choking incidents at restaurants and scours sex addict meetings seeking new techniques. This books is a wild ride as the narrator tells his story of self discovery, uncensored. While the book is disjointed, it is often hilarious and shocking that you find yourself reading more. Original. Prudes: Beware.


Clan of the Cave Bear  (Earth's Children, Bk 1)
Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children, Bk 1)
Author: Jean Auel
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 175
Review Date: 12/15/2006


The best in the series. Excellent premise, riveting characters, compelling story. Book 2 is good also. The other books are long-winded.


The Color of Water:  A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
Author: James McBride
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 5/27/2007


Heartfelt biography of a black man raised by his white mother in 1960s US. Classic.


Coma
Coma
Author: Robin Cook
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 12/17/2006


Compelling, scarily plausible medical thriller


Coraline (P.S.)
Coraline (P.S.)
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 66
Review Date: 9/21/2009


* * * ½* Young Adult Spook Story. Coraline and her parents move into a new home. Bored little Coraline doesnt get much attention from her parents so she goes off exploring her new home and discovers a door into a similar world. But is it real or Memorex?

The theme is not original, but Gaiman puts in his own magical touches to make your skin crawl. I am surprised this was classified for young adults since some of the scenes are really unsettling.


The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night-Time
The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 31
Review Date: 9/3/2008


* * * . Remarkable book wherein a young autustic boy narrates his search for the killer of a neighborhood dog. His "detecting" begins to unravel other unexpected unrelated secrets.

The author convincingly conveys how an autistic mind could operate; grasping onto math, facts and figures for security. It is a poignant, charming little book.


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