Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Sister by Rosamund Lupton

SisterSister by Rosamund Lupton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm still struggling with my feelings about this book. I think a good description is that I liked it but I didn't love it.

It took awhile for me to find a flow with this book, in part because of how the story was told (the primary character talking directly to her missing sister & intertwining the past and the present) and in part because of the pacing of the book. In the end, I think that it was critical for the book to be written from this perspective and that it really gave the story something special. But, it didn't make reading easy in the early pages of the book.

I thought the mystery itself was solid. It was interesting & engaging. It certainly didn't give away the 'who done it' too early. Although I had my suspicions, I was questioning them throughout the novel. The twist at the end was really unique and definitely made the novel memorable. The interweaving of the twist throughout the book was done very well - it was there but I never fully picked up on it beyond something being there. That was a nice, pleasant surprise!

I think the writing was OK - sometimes really good and sometimes less than good. It had the feel of a first novel in that way. I think Rosamund Lupton has quite a future as a novelist. I'd definitely give her next book(s) a read! If you're a mystery fan, I think you'll really enjoy this one - it's a unique take on the mystery genre.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an EndingThe Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm still not quite sure what I thought of this novel. It was frankly nothing like I'd expected and I'm still not entirely sure if I truly liked it.

It is a superbly written book! There were many places where I stopped to write passages down because I found them so beautifully stated or the thought memorable. Unfortunately, the great writing was not able to save this book for me. It did, however, keep it from being a 2 star book for me!

The pacing was one of my primary issues with this book. It took FOREVER for me to get into the book, to care one iota about the book. And because of how short the novel was, I'm not sure that I ever recovered from that ... it permeated the entire experience for me.

And the story itself just didn't ever quite capture my full interest, even the story's 'twist.' It was frankly a bit anti-climactic for me. I get why it resonated with others but it didn't quite do that for me. I never really liked any of the characters or even really understand them or their motivations. Perhaps that was a factor in my disliking the story. I found the ambiguous ending to be interesting and it did give me something to think about. Part of me wants to go back and read it again to put the pieces together again but I can't bring myself to care enough to actually re-read it given how much I didn't love my first read.

I have enjoyed reading the theories about the twist and the ending in some of my Goodreads groups. It's always interesting to get different perspectives and have people point out the things you missed or to help you see something in a new way!

I do think that there were some really nice pieces around memory and how we reflect on what we've done in the past.

I can see the value of this book and what some have called the author's brilliance at bringing it all together. I completely see that despite the fact that I didn't feel that way about it. Unfortunate, I cannot recommend this one. I think its a love it or hate it kind of book and I just didn't love it. Which doesn't mean that it doesn't have value, it just means that I'm hesitant to recommend it it others at this point!

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After watching the HBO series, I decided that I had to read the series myself because I found the show so compelling. This isn't the type of book that I'd normally pick up. Fantasy is typically not something that I reach for but I loved the series on HBO and was interested in seeing if the books were even better!

I have had this one sitting on my Nook for months but I was a bit hesitant to begin (despite many friends encouraging me) because I wasn't entirely sure that it would actually be readable for me. It's a long book and a big commitment.

Imagine my surprise when I began reading and found it to be incredibly readable! It pulled me right in and was captivating me in every way. But, I have to wonder if having seen the first book come alive on screen helped me in the reading of the book. If it helped bridge the gap for me ...

Let me just say that I am ASTOUNDED at how well HBO was able to bring this book to life. They did an amazing job with every aspect - characters, costumes, setting, etc. It's all wonderful! They made the book come alive and I thought it was a very well done adaption!

There was a nice mix of world building, character development and action in the novel. That mix really kept the pacing and flow of the novel from moving into boredom. The story is truly epic and really sweeping. I was concerned that the history, geography and politics could become too much in the novel (given the content of the HBO series) but it really was well written and compelling.

I've already added the rest of the series to my Nook and I plan to keep reading thorough over the coming months. My primary advice about this book is that if you're having trouble getting into it, consider doing what I usually never recommend - watch the HBO series first, then come back to the book. Otherwise, I recommend it wholeheartedly! It's a fantastic book!

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Going into this book, I really knew nothing more about Steve Jobs other than his being all things Apple and his dying last fall. I'd heard he was odd but I didn't really know what that meant. Until now. This book really helped me to better understand Steve Jobs as a man, as an entrepreneur and as a business leader. I found it to be a compelling read, with good pacing.

Steve Jobs was obviously a genius. And a marketing whiz. He brought amazing things to our culture with Apple. He changed the way that we do things in a truly significant way.

But, he was also incredibly selfish, difficult and unusual man. One whose choices in his personal life astounded me. In almost every way, he was simply an ass. I found him utterly fascinating while also being incredibly grateful that i never had to work with him or even know him. The dichotomy between his incredible creativity and vision with his many flaws is just fascinating. I didn't quite understand before reading this book what a character Steve Jobs really was ...

I think Walter Isaacson did a great job of portraying all sides of Steve Jobs - the good, the bad, and the REALLY ugly. I appreciated how well he blended the multiple facets of his personality into the book, making it come alive for me. And I like that he gave many different perspectives from a variety of people that had encountered Steve Jobs during his life.

Overall, I really enjoyed this biography of Jobs. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Steve Jobs, Apple, or is interested in particularly influential people. It's a very readable book that kept my attention throughout. And, ultimately, it helped me to better understand this very complex man who literally changed the world with his vision and entrepreneurial spirit!

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