Posts Tagged ‘2.5 out of 5’

11th February
2014
written by Steph
A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being

Is there anything worse than a book you expected to love but didn’t? Since setting out to travel the world, the frequent discrepancy between reality and one’s lofty expectations is something I’ve become accustomed to, but I still think I am most disappointed when I’m prepared for a book to sweep me off my feet only for it to leave me rather cold instead. That’s pretty much what happened with this book: I wanted to love it, and by all accounts, I should have loved it, but I didn’t.  It has many of the literary elements and quirks that are like cat nip to me such as discussions of quantum physics and parallel universes (I’ve never met a book that grapples with these ideas that I’ve been able to resist; see: my love affair with Scarlett Thomas, for starters), while also delving into a topic that has become near and dear to my heart over the past few years—meditation and the struggle to live in the present moment. Truthfully, I didn’t even know the book dealt with any of this before I picked it up, so all of these things should have been a delightful surprise. They were, and yet, they still couldn’t tip me over into unabashedly loving this book. (more…)
5th May
2011
written by Steph

We all know that I am a Jasper Fforde ffan girl, so I’ll never really have anything bad to say about any of his books. That said, I think it is fair to say that book five in his Thursday Next series, First Among Sequels, was perhaps not my favorite of the batch thus far. And that is, of course, putting it mildly. Of course, a weak Thursday Next book is still better than 95% of most books out there (and funnier to boot), so I don’t want to get all “damning with faint praise”… but really this book was quite a let down for me. I read it nearly two months ago (*gulp*… I am REALLY behind on my book reviews…), and to be honest, I don’t really remember much about it anymore. I know that it involves the fictional version of Thursday going rogue, and her son Friday having a debacle with the pesky ChronoGuard, but that’s about all I’ve got. (more…)
1st November
2010
written by Steph

Room is one of those books that set the book blogging world on fire. It was first released in the UK before being released Stateside, and there didn’t seem to be a single British bookblogger that I followed who didn’t review this book. Even more remarkable, everyone who read it seemed to love it! When the book hit the U.S., responses were the same – readers talked about how tense and riveting the book was, how the book urged them to keep reading and lent itself to being consumed in a single sitting. I couldn’t remember the last book that made me want to devour it in an 8 to 10-hour reading jag, so I was so excited to get my hands on this one. Of course, so were about 100 other patrons at my local library, so it wasn’t until about a week ago that I finally got the chance to sit down with Room and see what the fuss was all about. I’m sure anyone reading this has already heard of the book, so giving a short summary is probably pretty redundant, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock (or in Room), the basic gist is that the novel is narrated by Jack, a young boy who has just turned five. Jack and his mother live in a single-room, and for Jack, this space constitutes his entire world. He has never stepped a foot outside and has no understanding that anything exists beyond Room’s four walls; the duo’s only visitor is a menacing man that Jack calls “Old Nick”.  Through Jack, we learn how it is that his mother and he came to be in Room and how they have adapted in order to survive… As well as what Jack’s mother will risk in order for them to escape their prison in the hopes of living a normal life. (more…)
19th February
2010
written by Steph

One of my 2010 resolutions that is always at the back of my mind (but struggling to break through to the forefront, I assure you) is that I’d like to read more Classics.  Who doesn’t, really?  We have a pretty wide selection for me to choose from (and with my ipod touch on hand, the possibilities of free public domain novels are nearly endless), so it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to narrow my pick down to single book.  In such times, I tend to wind up creating highly specific restrictions that are ultimately pretty arbitrary.  In this case, I decided that since A Hero of Our Time is considered the father of the Russian novel, and we have a bunch of Russian classics (e.g., The Brothers Karamazov, Doctor Zhivago, The Master & Margarita, etc.,) kicking about the place, I’d better read this one before I tackle any of those other ones.  It only makes sense, right? (more…)
26th January
2009
written by Steph

Sigh.  My first book read for this year’s Tournament of Books, was fairly atrocious, so despite the rocky start, I was at least optimistic that the next book would have to be better.  It’s the law of averages!  So I picked up Fae Myenne Ng’s Steer Toward Rock, and dove in hoping I was going to land in a somewhat deeper pool. Steer Toward Rock is largely about a Chinese man name Jack Moon Szeto who, during his youth, is sold into another family so that they can have a son.  When he is older, he is sent to San Francisco so that he can work off his debt to his non-blood father, and also act as a decoy husband for the second wife said father wants to also bring into America (hoping to get a true blood son out of her).  This is around the time of the Chinese Confession Program, when the INS were trying to weed out individuals who had lied to bring other Chinese immigrants into the country, and when Chinese immigrants were treated extremely poorly.  The novel examines the trials and tribulation of Jack, primarily focusing on his relationships with three pivotal women in his life: Joice, his first love; Ilin, his fake wife; and Veda, his daughter by Joice.  It examines what an individual is willing to undergo for love, as well as the role of family (both in terms of one that is formed versus one that we are tied to through blood), and of course the immigration experience and the struggles to habituate as well as the struggle for later generations to understand their heritage.  Through this exploration, Steer Toward Rock also addresses the issue of self-identity. (more…)
18th December
2008
written by Tony
1990

1990

Okay. So, apparently everyone thinks Kurosawa is a genius. The best Japanese director ever. Don't get me wrong, it's not that he's necessarily bad at what he does, it's just that what he does tends to leave me high and dry, especially in the case of this particular film. I've seen Seven Samurai, even liked most of it (God, it is long), but as films go it wasn't transcendental or even really all that remarkable. Now wait, before you crucify me, let me explain. It is a good film, and it is deserving of the heaps of praise lauded upon it over the last 50 years. However, it's a good film for reasons that don't really play into my viewing enjoyment. It was the inspiration for The Magnificent Seven, and it is often cited as the first film to use the plot device of gathering heroes to fight a battle. It was an enormous success when it was released in Japan and is one of the few Japanese films to gain wide recognition in the west. On and on and on, the innovation and the power and the glory. (more…)