Oak Park, California United States | Member Since 2005
I came across this title while browsing through a list of suggested books I might like based on prior purchases. Those things are pretty accurate – I really liked this story. At the time, I didn’t realize they made it into a movie (I haven’t seen it) or that it was written way back in 1999. To me, the main character Charlie was Cameron Crowe + Conrad from Ordinary People + Neil from Dead Poet’s Society. The story follows Charlie through his freshman year of high school through a series of letters he writes to an unnamed recipient. He describes his many turbulent adventures with family, friends and acquaintances, and learns to participate in life and not just observe. I would be very interested to know what happens to Charlie and his friends in the unwritten future, a true test of an author’s ability to make the reader care about his characters. As I haven’t seen the movie or even a trailer, in my mind Charlie looks like Kurt from Glee. Don’t know what that means…..
Like probably the majority of sequels, this one the second installment of a trilogy, it didn’t live up to the original. Granted the storyline got advanced, but often not in a good way - I found myself not buying in emotionally to the characters or their problems. I think it could have been a much more interesting story had the author expanded on different aspects of the brothers’ travels. Don’t get me wrong, Tommo and Hawk had a lot of good moments. But by the end, I wanted to move on. I didn’t care that Hawk’s fiancée got killed. Actually I got kind of angry that Courtenay pulled the rug out at the last minute for the sole purpose of setting up a cliffhanger ending, thus forcing the reader to buy Part 3 to find out how Part 2 actually ended. I’ll probably eventually get sucked in to find out, but definitely not right away. One thing this story did for me was to open an interest in the Maori people. I have a copy of The Whale Rider which I'm going to re-read right now.....
Man, that was a long story. I decided to take on Count of Monte Cristo after an underwhelming experience with Jeffrey Archer’s Prisoner of Birth, a book based on the Monte Cristo plot, or at least a modern version of it. Archer took a lot of shortcuts in plot development and ended up with a Reader’s Digest condensed novelette. Talk about taking a trip on a swinging pendulum – Alexandre Dumas’ went totally the other way, his details had details. I recall thinking, “Do I really need to know all this stuff? Isn’t this going way off on a tangent?” Overall, I think the story contained a lot of fat, but also I felt very satisfied at the end of the book. Danglars, Fernand and Villefort received their just desserts and Edmund Dantes got his revenge without sacrificing his soul in the process, though it was very close. One thing I wondered about and will have to do a little research – did people really talk that way or did writers just do dialogue like that in the mid-19th Century? You'd get punched out if you spoke that way on the playground today. Might have to roll into a little Charles Dickens next to keep this thing going.....
This book was a nice surprise. It popped up as a personal suggestion based on my past
Audible purchases. The author wrote this historical novel almost 20 years ago as part one of a trilogy, and covered a topic I had not previously come across, I.e. the settlement of the Australian continent. The story begins in Dickens-era London, and then moves to the island today known as Tasmania, after the main characters get “transported” to the British penal colony following court convictions. Charles Dickens makes a cameo appearance as a reporter covering the trial in London, interviewing a street urchin who tells him his name is Artful Dodger. I enjoyed this book very much, and found myself really caring for the story’s characters, including some unsavory ones who battled their flaws and demons throughout. I can’t wait to start on part two of the trilogy. Good thing I bought a year's worth of credits!
It was nice to return to familiar territory after slogging through that Bourne book earlier this week. By all definitions, Griffin’s books are my guilty pleasure. I’ve completed the entire Corps series more than a half-dozen times over the last 20 years and honestly, it’s like visiting old friends and favorite relatives, complete with all the quirks (he notoriously changes characters’ middle initials for no reason, even historical figures), inside jokes and catch phrases. Yes, yes I know you can write everything you know about that subject in a matchbook with a grease pencil. Now fully recharged, I can take on something more unfamiliar.....
The WEB Griffin empire jumped the shark and having a 500+ page volume #7 proves it. I’d say 175 pages max for the amount of new material provided in the latest offering of the Argentina series. The author and co-author, I.e. the co-author succeeded in converting once interesting characters into parodies of themselves, while slogging them through a totally uninteresting, often confusing tale. You'd think the father would instruct the son to just stick to the time tested formula (stick to the script, stupid). He didn't listen, or more likely, thought he was Hemingway. It appears the WEB empire intends to expand into volumes #8, #9 and probably #10 – count me out. Evita made an appearance in this book so Butterworth Hemingway must be chomping at the bit to bring in Andrew Lloyd Webber as a guest B.I.S. agent or S.A.A. passenger.
While I like the author’s Argentina “Honor” series very much overall, the story lines have gotten pretty thin and it’s probably time to put the old girl to rest. Victory and Honor is #6 in the series about O.S.S. operations in WWII South America. While the war ended sometime in #5, for some reason, the story continues into this volume….. and the next – I see #7, Empire and Honor just got published. This all seems to be about the author providing a writing career for his son, listed as a co-author on all Griffin series for the last few years. Even the WWII USMC series continues on into the Korean War. When will it all end? Who knows? Who cares? Suffice it to say, I’m already pot-committed, I.e. I’m all in, as are thousands of other Griffin fans. We keep buying the books because it’s very much like reading letters about family and old friends – you want to know what happens to them, however mundane and trivial. He brilliantly tosses in a few morsels of new info amid the pages and pages of chronicling daily life. For example, I became very happy when Griffin finally had the Navy dock Cletus Frade’s pay for the chronograph watch he never turned in after returning from Guadalcanal three years earlier in the story. And an even bigger nugget, he referenced the only crossover character in all of Griffin’s books, I.e. Lt. Colonel Clyde W. Dawkins – WOW! That’ll make the Griffin geeks keep coming back for more. I would never suggest anyone read a Griffin book as a stand-alone – it’s really about the journey and understanding the Griffin formula. On to Empire and Honor to find out what Cletus Frade is having for breakfast…..
I just finished this book and am having a little trouble getting my arms entirely around it. I started the first third of the book, then went back and started over. I enjoyed the character Oskar very much - his quests, inventions, methods of coping and overall approach to the world. His observations often made me laugh out loud, as did the numerous reply letters received from an eclectic array of scholars and personalities. Conversely, Oskar’s episodes of obvious grief and pain (heavy boots) often made me a little misty….. when that happened, I gave myself a little bruise. But I didn’t particularly care for the weaving in of Oskar’s grandparents’ side/back stories. To me, while they emphasized the overall theme, they nonetheless interrupted the main storyline. I didn’t feel that the payoff at the end compensated me for the constant intrusion. I cared very much for Oskar and his father, and Oskar’s family and friends, but only in their direct relationship to him. I’d be interested to see how the screenwriter dealt with these generational relationships.
This was a nice follow-up to Fall of Giants, though nothing earth-shattering - certainly nothing compared to the Pillars of the Earth duo. At times, the storyline seemed a bit contrived as though the author attempted to hit all the highpoints of the Second World War and its aftermath, without materially adding to the page count. Personally, I think Herman Wouk did a better job of telling a similar story in The Winds of War / War and Remembrance though granted, the latter had two volumes to cover the same ground. I’ll be interested to see how Follett treats the second half of the 20th Century in the final installment of this trilogy. I foresee the final chapter being set in the summer of 1997 in Hong Kong when Britain’s 99-year lease ends and the island ceding back to China at the dawn of the 21st, I.e. the Chinese Century.
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