I have been among many greatly anticipating the second book in the Clifton Chronicles and I am happy to report that it doesn't disappoint. I would say that The Sins of the Father is a faster moving and even more intriguing story then the first. The book jumps literally right as the first left off giving you answers to questions that we have been wondering about since the end of the first book. The Sins of the Father covers a lot of ground in terms of years, but once again ends with a nail biting cliffhanger that makes the wait for Book 3 even more difficult to bear.
I'm a giant sucker for all things time travel. One of my favorite novels of all time 11-22-63 by Stephen King focused on a very finite couple of years in time. Alternatively Replay by Ken Grimwood follows Jeff Winston who dies of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 43 and wakes up as his 18 year old self. The twist of this time traveling novel is that their isn't a DeLorean to drive to the past but instead his life continues to rewind to his college dorm until October of 1988 where he will eventually die again of a heart attack and start over again.
Each Replay for Mark is vastly different. The world around him is the same but his decisions are vastly different. For example the first time he travels back he decides to bet big on sporting events (like in Back to the Future II) and starts his own financial company called Future Inc. The second time he goes for love and family, and so on and so on. The book feels like a cross between Back to the Future and Groundhog Day. But more then anything it really does make you think. If I was to wake up at 18 and have the ability to replay my life what would I do.
What's probably the most fascinating (no spoilers I promise) is the heartbreak. Just by telling you that Mark gets to replay his life means that anyone he loves in one life he will have to start over with at 18 years of age once he reaches 1988. A pretty crazy idea right?
To me though Replay is haunted by this amazing idea for a novel. Or in other words Ken Grimwood bit off more then he could chew. I think the 20+ year time frame that Mark gets for each replay is far to vast for him to make each replay compelling. And even with some twists half way through the story the end of the novel left me disappointed. The closure the book gives feels inconsistent with the rest of the novel. It felt like he had a great idea but couldn't figure a clean way to wrap it all up.
I truly enjoyed Replay more for the thought provoking concepts that it brings up rather then for the novel itself. Which is a shame because the base concept of the novel is beyond fascinating.
I absolutely loved The Martian. After reading countless five star reviews I knew that I had to give the book a shot even if it wasn't my preferred genre, and what I was left with was one of the most compelling novels I've read in a long time.
The Martian follows Mark Whatney an astronaut who is stranded on Mars after a failed mission. The novel follows his quest for survival on the red planet and what a quest it turns out to be. The book starts out quick and doesn't let off the gas until the end. This is one of those novels that I wanted more of even when I wasn't reading it. It consumed me for the week or so that it lasted and in all honesty I wouldn't mind re-reading it today.
I just loved this book. It had an incredible pace and had enough ups and downs and surprises to keep me at the edge of my seat. But most of all I loved Whatney as a character, he wasn't a super hero (even if he wanted to think he was) but he came up with crazy ways to stay alive. Oh and the book is heavy on science which most of the time I wouldn't have loved but for some reason it really worked here. Please read this book its incredible.
I don't often read non-fiction books, but out of all the major wars that the United States has fought in, I felt like I knew the least about the Revolutionary War so figured this would be a good book to pick up. For a history book, 1776 was quite entertaining. David McCullough who both wrote and narrates the audio book does an incredible job of painting a picture not only of the war but society during that time. The first half of the book which talked a lot about the British side of the war which is something I feel like I either missed in school or wasn't taught.
From the crossing of the Delaware to snippets of letters and journals from the lowest ranking soldiers, 1776 does a great job of building that timeframe in an easy to understand format, and for that I really enjoyed reading it. More then anything the triumph of America after all odds were stacked against it in 1776 is truly remarkable.
I've never read a book about super heroes. In a lot of ways I missed the entire comic book world and am only a fan from a distance. I enjoy the lore, the enthusiasm of the fans, and even enjoy when they bring those comic book characters to life in movies. But something about the book Steelheart from Brandon Sanderson drew me in. Not sure if it was the high praise many have given Sanderson on his recent novels, or the amazing cover for the book, but one thing is for sure I'm so glad I read Steelheart.
Steelheart is a book that flips the script on other super hero tales. Instead of the good guys being super heroes, its all the bad people in the world who are given powers while the rest of the world is left to fend for themselves. Steelheart is considered a young adult novel which is both its greatest strength and weakness. Strength because it makes for a lighter easier read that is instantly entertaining, and weakness because it does have Sanderson shying away from the grittier details of life under these super heroes rule. We get tastes but you get the sense that he is giving it to you in small bit size portions.
All in all though Steelheart is one of the most entertaining listens I've had in a long time and I cannot wait for the next one. Count me in Sanderson I've officially boarded the reckoners train.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the second Neil Gaiman book I've read. The first was American Gods which I got around a quarter of the way through and gave up. I loved the concept of the book but just couldn't get into it. I wasn't ready to give up on Neil Gaiman as so many of my friends and fellow readers seem to love his writing and had great things to say about this novel.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is different then any other novel I've read before. First its closer to a short story then a novel. There isn't a ton of character development, and the story just jumps in and asks you to go along for the ride. I'm going to avoid talking much about the story because its really hard to explain, but in short it reminds me of a childhood fantasy novel with major adult overtones.
I enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane but it still wasn't my cup of tea. I'm not sure I'll be going back to the Neil Gaiman library anytime soon.
In mid-2013 I first saw the trailer for the movie Twelve Years a Slave and knew right away I wanted to see it. I've got to be honest I'd never heard of Solomon Northup nor his story. What I appreciated most about reading Twelve Years a Slave was it was the most honest telling of that time period I've ever read. The descriptions that Solomon had on being a slave, his masters, and his fellow slaves made you feel like you were back in the mid-1800's in the South,
What can I possibly say that hasn't already been said before. To me Twelve Years a Slave should be required reading for all students in America. It shows slavery through the eyes of a slave not something we have many first hand accounts of. I'm so glad I read Twelve Years a Slave and cannot wait to see the movie.
I had The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters on my wish list since it was released a couple of years back. It combines a genre I love (apocalyptic) and an interesting idea. If you knew the world was going to end what would you do? So I finally took the plunge and recently read The Last Policeman and enjoyed it.
The Last Policeman follows Hank Palace and his journey as a detective as the world approaches an impending doom. My biggest issue with the book was that it lacked character development. We learn very little about Hank, his family, friends, or even his co-workers. The book jumps straight into a murder investigation and uses the impending astroid to change the typical crime solving formula up a bit. Its an interesting twist but could have used a couple hundred more pages to understand how the world has changed because of the impending asteroid and more insight into the characters. Instead The Last Policeman is a very enjoyable quick read thats an interesting concept not fully realized.
I sure hope the second book elaborates more on how the world is handling the upcoming disaster because to me that's what makes this series unique and interesting.
After I read Under the Dome and 11-22-63 last year I got hooked on Stephen King books and have continued that this year. After enjoying both The Stand and Joyland earlier in the year I decided to go back in his giant library of books and read The Shining. This is one of the only horror books I've ever read and now I remember why. Although The Shining is terrifying it definitely has some edge of your seat, what's around the corner moments.
On one hand The Shining has the typical great King character development. Each of the characters are flawed in their own ways and that to me was far more interesting then the horror pieces. I also really enjoyed the science fiction pieces, the ability to read others thoughts and emotions is fascinating and in another setting would have been far more interesting.
To me The Shining was a very entertaining book but the horror elements just wasn't my cup of tea.
In a lot of ways David and Goliath is a lot like its title, its a battle of two very different pieces. The first half of David of Goliath is excellent. The stories are engaging and the theme stays close to Gladwell's main thesis. The second half of David and Goliath doesn't seem to follow the same tightly constructed argument. Gladwell seems to go off on tangents and only at the end of his examples does he try and make an parallels to the underdog.
I really did enjoy David and Goliath but will have been far more impressed had the book remained as good as its first handful of chapters. The idea that David might not have been an underdog was fascinating and I would have liked to have seen that explored more then the diversions that happen later in the book. All things being equal I thought David and Goliath was an extremely entertaining read but not one I would want to go back to.
My favorite piece of any sci-fi/fantasy novel is a great setting. I love when an author is able to build a world and invite you in. Unfortunately for me Ender's Game is a novel that has a fantastic story but never spends enough time building the world around it. Ender's Game is a quick read, and spends little time building the characters around Ender.
You can sympathize with his character but its hard to relate. There is so many different locations that Ender goes to that it would have been nice to learn more about the other characters that are either helping or using Ender. I would have loved to have spent more time on Earth with his brother and sister.
All in all I enjoyed Ender's Game and am glad I read it but for me it didn't live up to the hype that surrounds it.
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