Monday, May 28, 2012

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Rating 4/5

I can see why so many people love this book. I found the first half a bit tedious, but by the end I was hooked. There are so many memorable characters in this story, ones you hate from start to finish, ones you don't like but come to love, ones you love all the way through, and ones you think are alright and then learn to loathe. The funny thing about it is that, though David is a sympathetic character, his personality actually pales in comparison to the ones he meets throughout his life. It doesn't matter though. This story sends you through a roller-coaster of emotions and ends on a satisfying high note. I usually enjoy tragic endings, but this happy one worked for me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Rating 4.5/5

This is Henry Miller meets Anne Rice meets (insert popular thriller writer here). This is Werewolf Existentialism 101, and it's great. The ending left me a little dry - I was expecting a complete tragedy - but otherwise this book reminded me why I read in the first place. It's been awhile since I read anything that agreed with both my sensibilities and my soul. I'll definitely be picking up more Glen Duncan in the future.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello

The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello

Rating: 3/5

****spoiler alert****This review contains spoilers*****

Sometimes I just need to read something fast-paced and easy, to take a break from the stuff I usually read, and this book was a good pick to do that. At first there were some things that annoyed me, but I was able to get over much if it by reading quickly. I thought the fantastical elements were kind of weirdly out of place in what would otherwise have been a standard historical mystery, but I was willing to accept that.

The author went one step too far, however, when he brought Hitler into the mix. My ability to suspend my disbelief totally snapped at that point. I also had to wonder why, at the end of the book, the amulet had the power to heal, instead of just stopping aging. I honestly thought that when Sarah looked in the mirror she would've gotten stuck on the brink of death rather than fully restored. I think the author took a cheesy road to a happy ending rather than pursue the lesson to be learned. But, it's a book written for a wide audience who probably wouldn't have liked a tragic ending. Oh well.

The book served its function for me, giving me a break from the two more difficult and very long books I'm in the middle of. I'm sure I will forget the entire thing in a month, but it was fun.

See my reviews for Masello's Blood and Ice and The Romanov Cross

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cold-Blooded Kindness: Neuroquirks of a Codependent Killer, or Just Give Me a Shot at Loving You, Dear, and Other Reflections on Helping That Hurts by Barbara Oakley

Rating: 3/5

This book was pretty interesting, part true crime and part behavioral science. I had to knock off a star, though, because it seems like Oakley wanted to write about pathological altruism so badly that even when she discovered her subject was actually a pathological liar instead, she tried to find a way to tie in the altruism angle anyway. I don't mind her talking about her original intent with the book, but for heaven's sake, change the title. There was NO cold-blooded kindness in Carole Alden's story, just masterful manipulation and its fallout. I'm a big reader of social science, so I'm surprised to find myself saying this book would perhaps have been better with less science exposition and politicizing about research. Still, Carole is a fascinating case study in how much chaos one person can cause.