Lisa F. (fogcityite) - Reviews

1 to 17 of 17
Anathem
Anathem
Author: Neal Stephenson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 34
Review Date: 10/11/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Stephenson stumbles, or what happens when an author thinks he's outgrown the need for an editor.

I'm a big fan of Neal Stephenson, and was excited when this book came out. What a disappointment. The premise is interesting; an order of monks who (like Stephenson) worship math are the only ones on earth who hold the knowledge to potentially save the planet from a threat. Throw in the usual Stephenson sci-fi twists, like parallel universes, and you have the bones of a good story.

The problem is, Stephenson's usually entertaining stream-of-consciousness writing style fails here. The book is unfocused, self-indulgent, and ultimately rather dull. Although not his longest book, it is far too long for the story it seeks to tell. After 900+ pages I felt, not as though I'd been taken on a warpspeed trip through Stephenson's fertile imagination, but rather that I'd watched him preen in a mirror, admiring the reflection of a popular author.


Black White Other Biracial Americans
Black White Other Biracial Americans
Author: Lise Funderburg
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 7/15/2009


Lise Funderburg's extensive interviews with biracial Americans provide an honest, broad, sensitive and well-rounded book on this topic. Refreshingly free of dogma, Lise presents the complexities of identity with which Biracial - and by extension all - Americans live, celebrate, and sometimes struggle. First rate!


Busy Night
Busy Night
Author: Ross Collins
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 10/9/2008
Helpful Score: 1


This is one of the funniest children's books ever written!


Cryptonomicon (Cryptonomicon, Bk 1)
Cryptonomicon (Cryptonomicon, Bk 1)
Author: Neal Stephenson
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 294
Review Date: 10/11/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This is one of my all-time favorite books. Stephenson seamlessly blends historical figures and events with fiction in high-energy, funny prose. I don't have a strong grounding in science and at times found the math and science a bit daunting, but this didn't interfere with my enjoyment of this book. The book is long, and the three intertwined stories require some attention: this is not a casual read. It is, however, escapist fun.

Stephenson writes in two distinct genres: cyberpunk and his own brand of historically-grounded, science-informed fiction. This book is of the latter genre. If you love his cyberpunk you may not love this. If you read the Baroque Cycle, you probably will enjoy this book. (And if you didn't read the Baroque Cycle, I'd read this first - I disagree with the reviewer who said the opposite. Although the B.C. takes place chronologically before Cryptonomicon, this book: 1. Was written first; and 2. Is a smaller time investment in which to figure out if you like this writer.)


The Fig Eater
The Fig Eater
Author: Jody Shields
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 126
Review Date: 5/20/2015
Helpful Score: 2


I have a fondness for novels set at the turn of the turn of the 20th century that feature new police technologies, like the study of fingerprints. (Caleb Carr's "The Alienist" is a good example.

I expected Jody Shields "The Fig Eater" to be of this genre. The novel, set in early 20th century Vienna, begins with a mysterious murder of a young woman and the ensuing police investigation. However, while the mystery remains a primary thread throughout the book, the focus quickly shifts from the police investigation to the relationship between the chief inspector and his wife. The wife becomes interested in solving the case without her husband's knowledge, and their parallel investigations put a strain on their marriage. This dynamic becomes the central drama in the novel.

Shields writes well. However, I had not set out to read a novel about a marriage, and found it uninteresting. (Perhaps if I had been in search of such a novel I would have enjoyed it more.) Further, the wife is obsessed with superstition, the paranormal, and the like. This irritated me to no end. I felt I'd been the victim of a bait-and-switch, in which I'd been promised lots of material about the development of new technologies at the beginning of the 20th century and had instead been given seemingly endless prose about werewolves. I can't recommend this book, despite the obvious care in research taken by the author.


Geographies of Home
Geographies of Home
Author: Loida Maritza Perez, Loida Maritza Perez
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/4/2008


A beautiful autobiographical novel. Often disturbing, always arresting. Fantastic book!


A Girl Named Zippy : Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana
A Girl Named Zippy : Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana
Author: Haven Kimmel
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 10/4/2008


Starting out as a roll-on-the-ground funny book, Kimmel seems to lose steam about 2/3 of the way through. Too bad; the beginning is well worth the read, but I gave up caring about any of the people long before the end.


Go Tell It on the Mountain (Modern Library)
Go Tell It on the Mountain (Modern Library)
Author: James Baldwin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/21/2009


This beautifully written, semi-autobiographical story tells of a day in the life of a Pentacostal family in Harlem. In poetic prose, James Baldwin's young protagonist, who is "saved" on this day, shows us his Harlem, his family, and his church.


Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy, Bk 1)
Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy, Bk 1)
Author: Louise Fitzhugh
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 75
Review Date: 8/8/2008


Harriet, a ten year old with a self-assigned spy route, keeps detailed notes about everyone and everything she sees. Unfortunately, her notebook falls into the wrong hands, nearly destroying all of her friendships.

This was one of my very favorite books as a child. Harriet is the type of kid to whom any child who is bright and a bit of a social outsider will relate. Now, decades later, my daughter is as enamored of this book as I was. Harriet helped me feel less alone as a kid; it was reassuring to know that I wasn't the only one who looked at the world differently than those around me. As an adult, I appreciate that this book offers a great tale of friendship and trust, without being preachy.


The Known World
The Known World
Author: Edward P. Jones
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 480
Review Date: 1/21/2012
Helpful Score: 2


This book is brilliant on many levels. It focuses on an aspect of the antebellum south which which few are familiar: ownership of Black slaves by Black people. This in itself makes it important. The story is extraordinarily well-crafted, with incredible characters, description and story line, all presented in deceptively understated prose.

What is most remarkable about this book, however, is that Jones invented the place in which it takes place. Not the state, of course - Virginia is real enough. But the towns, the county, the history - all is fiction. Once one has read the first part of the book it becomes obvious what a feat this is.

Finally, Jones himself is interesting. An insurance adjuster, he wrote in the evenings after work, finally quitting his job to devote himself full-time to writing this amazing novel. He gathered material on Black slave owners in the antebellum south, but decided not to read any of it until after his manuscript was complete. A remarkable book both in how it came to be and the final product.


The Known World
The Known World
Author: Edward P. Jones
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 136
Review Date: 10/4/2008


Jones' intriguing novel is based on the little-known historical fact of black slaveowners in antebellum south. As setting, he constructs a fictional world so compelling readers will want to track the locations on maps. Full of sorrow and heartache, this impressive work invites us to rethink the histories of the South we so often take for granted.


Life, Death & Bialys : A Father/Son Baking Story
Life, Death & Bialys : A Father/Son Baking Story
Author: Dylan Schaffer
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 10/6/2008


One of the loveliest memoirs I've ever read. Period.


Life of Pi
Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 165
Review Date: 10/4/2008


Out of a seemingly impossible premise comes this book about life, love, and survival. A great book.


Living Proof
Living Proof
Author: Kira Peikoff
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 0.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 3/21/2014


I got a few chapters into this, but found it so tedious I gave up. I suppose it is well enough written, and the concept has some merit, but the author works so hard to build suspense that it gets in the way of the narrative and feels contrived.


The Song of Hannah
The Song of Hannah
Author: Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 12/21/2008
Helpful Score: 10


I loved "The Red Tent", and read this because it had been compared to it. However, the similarity between the two books is limited to their having been inspired by biblical women. "The Red Tent" is a well-written, complex novel that is as much an historical exploration of how people lived during those times as it is about the characters. "The Song of Hannah" is simply a potboiling romance set in biblical times. It could have been set in any time. The writing relies on some rather silly conventions for building tension, and the "twists" can be seen coming from miles away.

If you enjoy romantic fiction, you'll probably like this book. If, however, you appreciated the historic complexity of "The Red Tent", you won't find it here.


The Third Child
The Third Child
Author: Marge Piercy
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 6/11/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I'm a long-time fan of Piercy's work, but was very disappointed by this book. Trite, predicatable, cliched, with characters that are uninteresting, hollow stereotypes, there is little to recommend this novel. Perhaps if I had been 16 when I read this it would have been engrossing, but this is not a book for an adult audience. The primary character is unrealistically naive, and most readers will guess the plot complications before they happen. It's unfortunate that Piercy's normal political and human insights are so missing from this novel.


Zodiac
Zodiac
Author: Neal Stephenson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 131
Review Date: 7/25/2009


A fun, fast-paced eco-thriller. Brimming with Stephenson's trademark, offbeat humor and scientific explanations, Zodiac offers an entertaining read for fans and novices alike.


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