callistahogan: (Book Addict)
Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Genre: Conspiracy fiction / Suspense thriller
Length: 454 pp.
Grade: B-

Amazon Summary: Brown's latest thriller (after Angels and Demons) is an exhaustively researched page-turner about secret religious societies, ancient coverups and savage vengeance. The action kicks off in modern-day Paris with the murder of the Louvre's chief curator, whose body is found laid out in symbolic repose at the foot of the Mona Lisa. Seizing control of the case are Sophie Neveu, a lovely French police cryptologist, and Harvard symbol expert Robert Langdon, reprising his role from Brown's last book. The two find several puzzling codes at the murder scene, all of which form a treasure map to the fabled Holy Grail. As their search moves from France to England, Neveu and Langdon are confounded by two mysterious groups—the legendary Priory of Sion, a nearly 1,000-year-old secret society whose members have included Botticelli and Isaac Newton, and the conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei. Both have their own reasons for wanting to ensure that the Grail isn't found. Brown sometimes ladles out too much religious history at the expense of pacing, and Langdon is a hero in desperate need of more chutzpah. Still, Brown has assembled a whopper of a plot that will please both conspiracy buffs and thriller addicts

My Thoughts: All right. I just finished this book, and you know what? In my opinion, this book is overrated. Completely and utterly overrated. The people who are throwing a huge fuss over this book need to understand that it's fiction, that it's not threatening their faith at all, and the people who seem to think this is the truth need a good solid dose of reality. Dan Brown merely wrote a suspense thriller. That's it. Nothing more. It wasn't as groundbreaking as some people led me to believe. It wasn't as good as people led me to believe. It was just... mediocre.

The best thing I can say about this book is that it was surprisingly unputdownable. Even though I yelled at the book a few times and threw it across the room twice, that was only to vent out my frustration. When I threw it across the room and didn't pick it up for a while, it was only so that I could calm down. The night after, I picked it back up and continued reading, albeit with a smidge less enjoyment than before.

I did get caught up with the drama and all the different things that were happening during the story, but I did figure out the "big twist" ahead of time. Regardless, the pace moved along nicely and, on a whole, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would at the beginning. But then again, the comment "It was enjoyable" is the only compliment I can give this book, because the flaws outweighed the perks.

The biggest flaw in this book was, by far, the terrible research Dan Brown put into it. The synopsis I gacked from says it was "exhaustively researched," but it wasn't. Not in the slightest. I don't claim to be an expert on any of the topics Dan Brown brought up, but I could pick out obvious flaws in his logic and so-called "research." Like one of my friends said, it seems Dan Brown is allergic to actual research—if you looked anywhere, you'd see that most of the things he said were quite wrong. It makes me sad to note that Dan Brown basically said "everything in this book is true" in the opening "Facts" page, but it makes me sadder to note that people will actually think that statement is true.

Also, the whole business with the "sacred feminine" was a little too much to handle. It seems like every other page, someone was saying: "Oh, you know that symbol? Yeah, that's actually a symbol of the sacred feminine." I got the impression that Dan Brown thought that everything in the world is a symbol of the sacred feminine, and it was frustrating after a while. It jolted me out of the story—the excessive references were just not necessary. Dan Brown should learn to tone it down just a bit.

A lot of people also said that this book was unpredictable, but... I found it predictable. The big twist didn't come as a surprise to me at all, and I could see things coming from a mile away. Some of the things that were a big problem in the middle suddenly turned out to not be such a big problem, and the ending... oh, the ending was such a cop-out. I appreciate that Dan Brown didn't just up and say that Christianity was wrong, but still. Once I got to the end, I said to myself "That's it? Where's the big reveal? Where's all the information?" The ending just forced me to say that this book is pure speculation. I'm not taking it seriously at all.

The Da Vinci Code was interesting. That's all I can say. It's not the truth, and it may not be entirely wrong either. For me, it was just something to read. I doubt it'll make that much of an impression on me in the long run. As for recommending it, if you want to read it, do so. If you don't, I won't force you to.

Currently Reading:
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I'm only about twenty pages into it right now, but already, it seems miles better than The Da Vinci Code.
callistahogan: (Books)
Hmm. Lately I seem to be finishing two books at a time. My last two books are short, though, so it's not that hard to imagine. And, suiting the books, my reviews are shorter than usual, just because I'm having a bit of trouble concentrating today. But hopefully they're still coherent!

Currently Reading:
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
callistahogan: (Default)

Before I get to the reviews, poll results.

Four votes for "I don't care either way," three votes for long reviews, and one for short. That's pretty much what I expected, but I just wanted to make sure. Long book reviews are incredibly difficult, but here at my personal journal, why not?

So, here they come.

Next Up:
I don't know yet. Probably The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (I think that's the author) or Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Maybe Angels and Demons or The Da Vinci Code. It depends on what I feel in the mood for. 
callistahogan: (Default)
Book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Genre: Fiction
Length: 215 pp.
Grade: B

Amazon Summary: Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway. You'll never read funnier science fiction; Adams is a master of intelligent satire, barbed wit, and comedic dialogue. The Hitchhiker's Guide is rich in comedic detail and thought-provoking situations and stands up to multiple reads. Required reading for science fiction fans, this book (and its follow-ups) is also sure to please fans of Monty Python, Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and British sitcoms.

My Thoughts: I've been wanting to read this book for ages, having heard so many great things about it that it was impossible for me not to read it. Also, it's on my summer reading list and the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list, so I had even more incentive to read it. Unfortunately, this book slightly disappointed me. Not because it wasn't well-written—it was, very much so—but it just didn't... connect. I originally started reading this in hopes that I could somehow be able to pick out quotes to "analyze," but having finished reading it, I can't think of any quotes I'm able to use. So, that means that reading this book won't count as the three books I've read over the summer, even though I did read it and enjoy it.

However, like I said, this book was very well-written. I didn't find it as funny as some, nor as true to life in a sort of indirect, unmeaningful, coincidental sort of way like some others have. It was good for what it was, but it's far from being one of my favorite books in the world.

This book is incredibly hard to explain, I think. To me, at least, it's one of those books that's incredibly hard to form an opinion on. One minute, you think it's really great, the next you think it's mediocre, and then the next you wonder what the entire point of reading this book was, but on a whole, your subconscious is telling you that you enjoyed the book, but you can't pinpoint why.

'Tis confusing. Let's see if I can try and pinpoint some of this.

Firstly, I liked the writing style. It was hilarious in a dry sort of way. Not dry as in boring, but dry as in deadpanning. For example, some things would have seemed a bit more hilarious if it had been "fluffed" up, but Douglas Adams just said it as if he was saying "hey, the sky is blue" or "it's a nice day today, isn't it?" And sometimes, that was hilarious, but other times, I skipped right past it without realizing what was so funny about it. 'Course, most of the funniness (is that even a word?) came from Douglas Adams turning the science fiction cliches on its head, and I haven't read many science fiction novels at all, so... yeah, wasn't as funny as it could have been for me.

Secondly, the characters intrigued me. Especially Marvin. *giggles slightly* I don't know why, but the idea of a depressed robot amuses me so much. And the scene near the end was so cute and hilarious. That was one of the few times I actually laughed out loud during this book and I adored it. Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and the rest were also great, but Marvin was just... so CUTE. 

Oh, and I liked the idea of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I liked it when we could see the little snippets from the book. I have no clue why, but having excerpts from books in books keeps me entertained. As do emails, letters and other things like that inserted into books. 

Hmm. It turns out I liked more in this book than I thought, and if I say anything else, I probably wouldn't be able to stop, so I'll just say I liked it, although not as much as other people did and, if you can look past a few nitpicky things involving quotation marks, it was a really good book. Recommended, although not as highly as some other books I've read.

Currently Reading:
Nothing. Need to go to the library soon (preferably tomorrow), so I prolly won't be able to finish the other three books taken out from the library. But I might be able to finish one more, which will probably end up being Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
callistahogan: (Default)
Book: Flux by Beth Goobie 
Genre: Fantasy-ish
Length: 258 pp.
Grade: B

Amazon Summary: Nellie is a 12-year-old orphan living in a shack in the Outbacks of a nameless dystopian world. Motivated by hunger, she makes forays into the city, trying to avoid the Skulls, a predatory male gang, as well as operatives of the corrupt Interior, who are responsible for the disappearance and probable death of her mother. The Skulls catch Nellie and shave her head, revealing wormlike scars, reminders of the insidious experiments the Interior has performed on kidnapped Outbacks children. Nellie is a devotee of the Goddess Ivana to whom she attributes the phenomenon of flux, "a quirk in the molecular field" that causes her surroundings to "shapeshift" and allows her body to take "strange wild forms." She has learned how to travel between levels of reality by stepping through hidden gates, a discovery that leads her on a quest for the truth about her mother. She also tries to help Deller, the street-smart leader of the Skulls whom she has befriended, search for his younger brother. The process of traveling between levels creates the problem of doubles—clonelike, unstable human duplicates—and the plot is burdened with confusing and contrived episodes. Lacking descriptive power and atmosphere, this novel uses the plot devices found in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series (Knopf) and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (Farrar, 1962), fantasies to which it cannot begin to compare.

My Thoughts: The first thing I noticed about this book was the similarities with the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. The idea of "flux" seemed like another way of describing Lyra's Dust, and I have to say that this book intrigued me because of the principle. However, as the review said, I found that it wasn't quite as good as Pullman's series. It was quite good, but not as good.

Nellie and Deller (the leader of the Skulls) were quite intriguing. Nellie was quite weird, but I enjoyed her narrating the story. It gave it a bit more of an edge, and the way she interacted with Deller was very well-written. It was the typical shy, introverted, abandoned girl's reaction to the bully-turned-best-friend-who-wants-to-be-something-more, and I felt it was very realistic. 

I also enjoyed the Goddess, Ivana. It gave me a bit of insight into those people who believe in a Goddess instead of a God—for example, Nellie believes in the goddess because her mother died when she was young, and she's always wanted a female, motherly figure, and I've found the "yearning" for a mother is quite a good indicator as to why people believe in a goddess. It's not the only reason, of course, but for some people, it may be a subconscious thought—as with Nellie.

By far, though, my favorite part of the book was how it was written. It was so different. It was a bit like poetry; it felt like you could read it out loud and the words would just roll off your tongue. Even though some parts are not as good as some books I've read, the structure and style of the book really got me. It really got me into the story from the very first page and kept me 'till the very end, considering I finished the book in about a day.

The ending was a bit open-ended, I found, and it felt like a cliffhanger, so I'm just hoping there's a sequel. If there is, I'll probably make sure I end up reading it, since this book wasn't my favorite, but the writing makes me want to pick it up again sometime.
callistahogan: (Default)

Book: If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans by Ann Coulter
Genre: Political nonfiction
Length: 269 pp.
Grade: B+

Human Events Store Summary: "The truth," says Ann Coulter, "cannot be delivered with novocaine." In her latest blockbuster, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans, she wallops Democrats with a full dose of unvarnished, unadulterated reality—as only Coulter can deliver it. Witty, sharp-tongued, outrageous, and always faithfully conservative, here is Ann at her best, running circles around liberal pundits, pols and Leftist wackos before they even know what has hit them. 

My Thoughts: As I said under my The Last Novel review, Ann Coulter is my guilty pleasure. I've read Godless and How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) and I felt like Ann Coulter made a lot of good points. In this book, it wasn't quite as good, because it was just a collection of her quotes about various issues as well as a short—or maybe medium-length—blurb thing at the beginning of each chapter explaining some of her views that weren't told in quotes, but I really enjoyed it.

Some parts bothered me a bit more now than they did, because Ann was sort of throwing the harshness at us a bit more than usual in this book, but I felt like a lot of the book was quite true. She could have phrased it a bit more polite way, I admit, but a lot of her little quips and jokes toward liberals amused me. I don't hate liberals and Democrats as much—I don't hate them at all, as a matter of fact—as Ann Coulter seems to, but a lot of what liberals believe bother me—not everything, but mostly their ideas on abortion and such like that.

Ann's one of those authors, I've found, that you either like or hate. If you like her views and are able to overlook a few quips and look beyond to her points, then you'll probably like her. If you're a strong liberal, you probably won't. For someone like me, I don't take her  books entirely seriously, but I get a lot of my reasons for believing certain things for her. I don't make them as harsh as she does, but yes, she influences me a bit.

Overall, my favorite sections were probably the ones about sex (Sex: "Virile Pacifist" Is an Oxymoron), abortion (Baby-Killing: Abort Liberals, Not Children) even though I don't agree with the chapter title, evolution (Evolution, Alchemy, and Other "Settled" Scientific Theories), and more, even though all of the chapters were amusing and fun to shift my way through.

Hmm. Perhaps the main reason why I liked this book is because you got a mishmash of Ann's thoughts on most of the main issues between liberals and conservatives, so if you want to read her views on some things and are able to look past the quips and such and look at her points, then I'd recommend you pick this book up at your local bookstore or libary.

I would not recommend this book to liberals, however. That's what Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg is for.

Currently Reading: Flux by Beth Goobie

callistahogan: (Default)
Book: Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 371 pp.
Grade: B+

Amazon Summary: Extrapolating from current world events, Brooks projects a worst-case scenario in which the steady destruction of all humankind is a reality. Plagues have killed half a billion, weapons of mass destruction have decimated entire populations, and the few survivors have retreated into a siege mentality, turning city stadiums into walled compounds and shutting out the "freaks"—those who have mutated from breathing the polluted air and drinking the badly fouled water. A variety of principals propel the transfixing yarn Brooks spins in this setting: Logan Tom and Angel Perez, both Knights of the Word committed to keeping the magic that binds all things together in balance; Hawk, a street kid who leads a group of other young people in Seattle; Kirisin, a young elf who is one of the Chosen safeguarding the Ellcrys, a magnificent tree upon whose existence the lives of the elves depend and whose safety is now threatened; and the demons and their minions, the once-men, who have been subverted by false promises and lies. Everything and everyone moves inexorably toward a deadly confrontation in the Northwest. Characterizations are dynamic and multidimensional, the descriptions of the land as well as the ruined cities and small towns are compelling, the action and battles are mesmerizing, and, as is Brooks' wont, the ending is a cliff-hanger that leaves readers salivating for the sequel.

My Thoughts: A few months back, I read the Jerle Shannara series, as well as the series after that (I can't remember the exact name at the moment), and was incredibly impressed. Terry Brooks was absolutely evil in the endings of the first two books, but they were incredibly good—it was glad that my friend had recommended them to me.

And with this book I wasn't disappointed.

As soon as I read the first page, I knew that I was going to like the book. Logan Tom's story—especially his backstory—was intriguing, and I kept wanting to understand how the world had gotten the way it had, how humankind was nearly entirely wiped out, and how everything seemed to have gone downhill. Logan Tom was one of those great male narrators; even though some of the book was written in his male perspective, I could still relate to him. He was one of those intriguing characters, one that you just want to know more and more about.

Of course, all of the characters were like that. All of the main characters—Logan, Kirisin, Angel, and Hawk—were so well-drawn that I just wanted to know more about them. Not only that, but their situations were so different, as well as the way they dealt with them. I really enjoyed hearing about each them—it was a joy to read about all of their different encounters and such with the dystopian-like world they're living in.

About the dystopian-like world, though.

For some reason, the "future" described in these books made me slightly afraid because, you know, some of it might actually happen. They might not happen in my lifetime, but some of it seems awfully likely, and that's scary, because I would never want anyone to live in a world like this series. Regardless of that, I felt that the demons and Freaks were absolutely terrifying, and the scenes in which they played a role absolutely terrible. Those action scenes with the demons and the compound (the places humans take refuge against the demons and the rest of the world) and all the other terrible things were so riveting that I didn't want to shut the book and finish it.

So, all in all, this book was quite good. I felt some parts of it were... well, not as good as it could be, and it wasn't nearly as good as the Shannara books, but it was a nice, fun read (if a bit depressing). There were a few spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes, but I doubt it would be noticeable to the average reader, so it's not much of an issue.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who like fantasy books and/or Terry Brooks—but beware of the cliff-hanger ending!

Currently Reading: If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans by Ann Coulter (have only about a hundred pages left) and Flux by Beth Goobie
callistahogan: (Default)

I know, I know, two posts in a day spams the friend-lists, but I just finished the second book of the Planet Pirates trilogy, and I had to do a book review on it.

Book: Sassinak, Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Science fiction
Length: 280 pp., according to my version
Grade: B

Barnes and Noble Summary: Sassinak was 12 when the raiders came. That made her just the right age: old enough to be used, young enough to be broken. Or so the slavers thought. But Sassy turned out to be a little different . . . and bided her time to become the fleet captain of a pirate-chasing ship of her own. 

My Thoughts: I'm not sure what my opinion of this book is, frankly. It was written well enough, it had enough action, some suspense, some character development... but something was missing. I'm not sure what it was, but the book just didn't grab my attention the way it should. 

Sassinak was the only character that was really developed and, honestly, her character didn't appeal to me. She seemed a bit like a Mary-Sue, and her character development wasn't all that intriguing. The description in the book says that she was "different," but I didn't get that... different-ness in the book itself, if that makes sense. It was said, but it just didn't seem believable to me.

However, through all that, I enjoyed reading the book. I only had one favorite part that really made me want to read on, so I probably wouldn't reread this anytime soon. I'm still going to read Generation Warriors, but only because I don't want to leave the series when I've already read two of the three.

So, all in all, it was a fairly good book, and I might pick it up again sometime.

ETA: Finished Generation Warriors, but didn't think I should do another post just for that particular book.

Book: Generation Warriors, Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Science fiction
Length: 207 pp., in my version
Grade: C

Barnes and Noble Summary: Lunzie, fresh from her adventures in The Death of Sleep, has discovered that the one good heavyworlder she ever met isn't so good after all...

Fordeliton, sent off to investigate the connection between the super-rich and the planet pirates, is now dying of a mysterious slow poision. His aunt's spiritual advisor wants to give him her "special cure."

Dupaynil, having made the mistake of pushing Sassinak too far, has been exiled to Seti space aboard a tiny escort vessel--where he's discovered that the crew are in the pay of planet pirates...

Aygar, the idealistic young Iretan, is out to prove he has brains as well as heavyworlder brawn... but there are plenty who'd like to blow them out before he can learn to use them.

Then there's Sassinak, ordered to report to FedCentral for the trial of the mutineer Tanegli. She'd been told to disarm her ship when it enters restricted space; she'd been told her crew can't have liberty or leave; and she'd been told to follow all the rules. You remember Sassinak...the only person who might be able to stop the disaster ahead has never been one to follow the rules...

My Thoughts: I think my reaction of "FINALLY!" once I reached the last page says it all, really.

Don't get me wrong, the book was well-written, but it wasn't just for me. I found myself skimming past the last one hundred pages or so just to get done with it, and ended up yelling at the book because I wanted it to be over already. My favorite parts were with Fordeliton and Dupaynil, as well as some scenes with Lunzie. Sassinak gets on my nerves, even though I have no clue why, and I just... really didn't like the book.

However, that's a matter of personal taste--it's written well enough, but it definitely wasn't for me.

Next Up: Liberal Fascism, by Jonah Goldberg


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