Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1)Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were some new ideas in this and it was a pretty fun sci-fi action/mystery (like a futuristic Jack Reacher) but it dragged quite a bit for me. I would have appreciated some heavy editing.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a cute little story, and I think it would have been good if I'd read it as a child, but as an adult it didn't provide much more than plot, plot, plot.

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Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Living HistoryLiving History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's a lot in this memoir. Clinton discusses her childhood, her time as the Governor's wife in Arkansas, her time as Frist Lady, and her run for New York Senate. She discusses controversial policy issues such as the Clinton-era welfare reforms and her attempt to introduce health insurance reform. She discusses foreign policy challenges during her husband's administration. She also gives her perspective of the numerous scandals that dogged the White House during her husband's administration including Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. It was definitely an interesting and a good reminder of all the history we lived through ourselves.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Casino Royale (James Bond, #1)Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the first James Bond book. I seem to feel the opposite of other reviewers in that I thought the writing was sort of fun and moody, but the actual plot was so bad that it was not salvageable. This is not a spoiler because this is at the very beginning: the plot is basically that Bond will destroy this Russian spy by beating him mercilessly at gambling. The final third is the worst most unbelievable romance ever. I'm going to read the second one anyway.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

De Profundis De Profundis by Oscar Wilde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This starts out at a fabulously written slap to Wilde's ex-gay-lover. (Who needs Real Housewives when you can read this? Not me.) Then, unexpectedly but gracefully, this turns into a literary tour-de-force of a Christian treatise. I know, totally did not see that coming, right? More strangely yet, it is one of the best essays in favor of Christianity that I have ever read.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy

Profiles in CourageProfiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What is the point of this book? I think the point is that these politicians were courageous in opposing their political parties for what they perceived to be the best for "the union." But I'm not actually totally clear on the thesis. It was not about voting your conscience because the second story is about abolitionist Daniel Webster sacrificing his abolitionist beliefs to keep the union together and out of what would be the Civil War for what turned out to be only a decade. This is courage? This seems like the worst possible racism and cowardice to my modern scruples.

I can't even handle discussing Taft's opposition to the Nuremberg Trials. This is a "courage" example.

This book gives no background into the history of how the Constitution was set up with the expectation that politicians would stand up for their conscience above their political parties and wrote in a number of measures to help them do so- such as by not logging the name of the voter.

Finally, even though the book is short, the middle of the book is painfully boring.

I love John F. Kennedy, and I read that Ted Sorenson mostly wrote this book, but that's no excuse. I assume he read this before he put his name on it. I don't understand why this won a Pulitzer.

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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being EarnestThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really fun play with lots of snarky writing. The plot itself is cheesy, but it's forgivable because the language is great.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human NatureThe Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is primarily a book about linguistics. (I had been hoping that it was more about neurology). It is sometimes boring (mostly the beginning), sometimes interesting (mostly the end), sometimes inscrutable. I particularly liked the part about how impossible it is to visualize the reality of physics, a short section in the middle.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez

Memories of My Melancholy WhoresMemories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read the Spanish version of this, Memoria de mis putas tristes. When I read this, I hadn't read Lolita yet. It's probably inspired by Lolita but it's also the exact opposite of Lolita. I thought it was a sad and beautiful story about mortality and love.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

One Second After (After, #1)One Second After by William R. Forstchen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was both realistic and terribly horrifying. Basically, it's time to start accumulating canned foods, medicines, guns, and bullets for the end of days. Good luck, y'all.

This author is very pro-history, pro-military, pro-militia, and pro-infrastructure preparedness. He makes an extremely convincing case for all these.

Read this! And if we get hit by an electromagnetic pulse apocalypse please share some of your food with me because I told you about the book.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle

Many Waters (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #4)Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book in the Wrinkle in Time series, though it's ctually a more well-written story than the first three books. Chronologically it takes place between book 2 and 3. When I read this as a child I gave it three stars- possibly because I was bored by it or because it focused on Sandy and Dennis instead of Meg and Charles. As an adult, my biggest objection is that it's a bit misogynistic. My secondary objection is that there's not any point in this adventure either for Sandy and Dennis or in the bigger scheme of the Wrinkle in Times Series.

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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

LolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a lot. The writing is excellent, though the plot itself is a horror story. I just don't have the emotional energy to write a real review for this one.

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