House of Sand and Fog

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3/5 (The book rates a higher score, but the depression wouldn’t allow me to give it)

This is a truly depressing story, but if you’re one of those people who hear “depressing” and it magically changes to “powerful” in your head, this will hook you.

Basically, this book is a detailed account of how a (fictional) tragedy in the news came about. You know, one of those news stories about a tragedy (such as a murder-suicide or a drive-by shooting) that makes you wish you knew the reasons behind the violence. You get to know the point-of-view of each of the main contributory characters as they “eye-for-an-eye” each other to misery. You’ll probably spend the whole book wanting to explain the other characters’ POVs to whoever you’re reading about now, but since its a book, you won’t be able to. Trust me, I tried.

In the end, hopefully you’ve learned how important it can be to step into another’s shoes. If you can’t learn this lesson, skip the book, as its the only reason to read it. However, if you’re open to learning lessons, then this book is hard to put down and it really sucks you in.

Warnings: Much of the book is in 1st person, which can annoy some people. It didn’t bother me, though. Also, there’s adult topics (a bit of graphic sex, drugs, alcohol abuse).

-TC

Published in: on August 7, 2007 at 3:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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4 stars

The final chapter in the Harry Potter series does an excellent job of completing the story.  Often with a longish series of books like this, the author will seem to get lost and leave us readers with an unsatisfying feeling at the end.  That was not the case with this book, and after reading it I felt quite satiated.

I am not going to go into any story details, as it won’t make sense except to someone who has read the series and knows what’s going on anyway, but I will touch on some generalities.  I like the way this books seeks to tie up and explain all the loose ends that popped up throughout the series, without getting tedious about it.  The flow is nice an natural, not depending on characters making obviously stupid decisions to create drama.  I also dig the fast paced, non-stop action that this volume featured.

As far as the overall series is concerned, I never did get much interested in the plight of Harry, specifically.  I was, however, quite enthralled by the witty humor, and intriguing mysteries, and grand adventures.  And the setting, with the magic schools and wizard/muggle interactions et cetera, was positively top hole!  Even the length of the series was excellent–any more than seven books and I probably would have gotten tired of the repetition, whereas these stories managed to stay simultaneously familiar and fresh.

If only the movies weren’t so god-awful…

ben

See Adrienne’s review of this book!

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 10:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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3 1/2 stars

I just finished Harry Potter 6! I know, I know… “Harry Potter 6?” you ask. “Why have you just read that? It’s Number 7 that just came out.” Well when we got Number 7, at first Adrienne was reading it, and then Dean was reading it, and I figured, having just watched the awful movie version of Number 5, that I would ramp up to Number 7 by reading Number 6. Which I have just done.

It was a fun book to read. Harry has tuned down the Frodoesque self-pitying that was so annoying in the preceding volume, and gets down to the business of defeating You-Know-Who. But Big V. shows why he is so feared by the good wizards of Great Brittain, and the book ends with darkness on the horizon, along with a great big cliffhanger. More than any other Harry Potter, this book left me fienin’ for the next installment.

ben

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

His Magesty’s Dragon

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4 Stars

Our friend Brad recommended this book, and it is his copy that I read. While I have noticed an obscene number of dragon books out there, I have never read any of them, so I cannot say how this stacks up as a dragon book. But I sure did enjoy it.

His Magesty’s Dragon inhabits a rather ironic sub-genre of science fiction called alternate history. In this case the setting is 19th century Europea, where Napolean is trying to take over the world, and people sail around in wooden ships with sails and cannons. And nations have air forces compromised of dragons. The plot is pretty simple, but the characters are excellent, and it is very clever the way dragons are incorporated into the story.

I would recommend this book to anyone, and I look forward to reading its sequels.

ben

Published in: on July 23, 2007 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Spoiler free)

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5 Stars

Just under 12 hours ago I received a box in the mail…a box our mailman insisted on putting into my hands only (despite the best efforts my husband. Our mailman will be getting a Christmas present this year). I have spent the last 12 hours lying on our couch, listening to symphonies and burning lemon-scented candles while I devoured the final chapter in this series. I will not spoil anything for anyone here, though. It is impossible to write a comprehensive review, in my opinion, without going into detail about the story, so my full review will be posted in about a month. That should give most Potter fiends plenty of time to read the book and discover all the secrets for themselves. Until then, here is my abbreviated opinion:

This book was very, very good…easily my favorite of the series. Maybe it was the nonstop action; maybe it was the attention to detail; maybe it was the obvious way Ms. Rowling crafted the entire series to climax perfectly around page 679. Whatever it was, I loved it.

–(a very tired) Adrienne

See Ben’s review of this book!

Published in: on July 22, 2007 at 3:03 am  Comments (2)  

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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4 Stars

So every time a new Harry Potter book comes out I take time off work and read it in one or two sittings. This was no different. It was very good, albeit very long. The characters are getting more mature, and the problems more sinister. This book included a stupid, tragic death that made me cry, and Harry has to deal with it. I could go on forever about the plot and whatnot, but I’m assuming you know and have probably already read this one. Good for you!

–Adrienne

Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Halfway Heaven

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2 1/2 Stars

This is a true crime story about a murder-suicide at Princeton. A college coed ends up bending to the pressure of college and kills her roommate and then herself. This book tells her story and outlines the circumstances leading up to the tragedy. A good book for those who are into little-know crimes.

–Adrienne

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Highland Christmas

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2 1/2 Stars

Another book on the long list of silly-little-mysteries, this one takes place in Scotland over christmas. I won’t even bother putting in a decent summary of the plot–it’s exactly as you might imagine: relatively interesting main character, funny supporting characters, murder, intrigue, resolution. A good book if your in the mood for bite sized fiction.

–Adrienne

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment