Baseball Card Adventures), but the promise of this one having literary quality enticed me.
The "natural" of the title is Roy Hobbs, a 34-year-old ballplayer who joins the (fictional) professional team the New York Knights. He's insanely talented, and the novel details his amazing season where he brings the Knights out of last place, along with meditations on love and guilt and "doing the right thing".
The edition that I read had a quotation from Time's review of the book, that being "[a] preposterously readable story about life", and I wholeheartedly agree. I would find myself doing the "just one more page" nonsense over and over and over. One of the reasons I hate sports books is how boring the scenes in which the sport is being played is written (when J.K. Rowling announced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would have no Quidditch scenes, I must say I was happy about it). It's way more fun to watch someone hit a ball than it is to read about it, but Malamud did a great job. I found the baseball scenes engaging and interesting.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Anyway, our story is that of a young man, Felipe Montero, who answers an ad in the newspaper looking for someone fluent in French. He answers, and meets an old woman named Consuelo who lives with her young, beautiful niece Aura. Consuelo wants Felipe to translate her dead husband's papers, and Felipe agrees because he is transfixed with Aura.
Friday, July 20, 2012
I worried for nothing.Sure, both The Lightning Thief and The Shadow Thieves came out around the same time, both are kid's series with Greek mythology, and both have a variant of the word 'thief' in the title, but the books were different enough that I could enjoy them for different reasons. The characters are charming, the writing is clean and focused and snarkily, sarcastically humorous. I thought I would get tired of Ursu's funny jabs after the first two or three, but they consistently remained entertaining. I appreciated their presence.
The Enchantress is book six in Michael Scott's YA fantasy series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. It's the final book, and so I don't really want to/am not sure that I can sum up the events of the previous five (here's the Wikipedia article for the first book with a pretty thorough plot summary), but here's my best effort. Imagine the modern world, except now some gods (Elders) and mythological beasts exist and have existed for a very long time. Throw in historical figures (the titular Nicholas Flamel, a famous alchemist you may know from Harry Potter; Joan of Arc; Shakespeare) that are granted immortality or gain it themselves by whatever means. Add a plot by some of these gods (the Dark Elders) to destroy the world we live in and allow their paradise of 10,000 years ago (Danu Talis AKA Atlantis) to continue on. Josh and Sophie, identical twins, discover that they are the "Twins of Legend" in a prophecy that says "one will save the world and one will destroy it".
I definitely liked it. Our main character, Stuart (the book was originally published in the U.K. under the title Small Change for Stuart), moves back to his father's hometown and accidentally uncovers a series of clues that will lead him to the workshop his great-uncle (a famous stage illusionist by the name of Teeny-Tiny Tony Horten), which promises to be filled with amazing wonders and illusions of all kinds.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
And then the book won the Goodreads Choice Award for favorite book of 2011, and I was paying attention. The book has amassed over 100,000 ratings in 14 months, and its average rating is 4.39 (as of my writing this post). Such popularity and positivity is not something to be ignored, so I decided to read the book.
I came away (slightly) disappointed. Set in a Chicago of the future, society has been divided into five factions, each favoring a particular trait: bravery (Dauntless), honesty (Candor), selflessness (Abnegation), intelligence (Erudite) and kindness (Amity). When every child is sixteen, they must take an aptitude test to determine which faction best suits them, and then they are allowed to choose which faction to join. Something that wasn't clear to me while reading was whether the aptitude test results dictated your choice. Does getting a Candor result mean you must join or stay in Candor, or can you switch to Amity despite the fact that you didn't test well for that faction? I'm not sure if I just missed something while reading or if something wasn't explained. Oh well.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
We're introduced to a teenage shepherd who wanders around Spain with his flock of sheep. He has a strange dream about finding treasure at the Pyramids in Egypt and then meets a mysterious man who tells him that the only way to be truly happy in life is to realize his "Personal Legend" (one of the things that irritated me more than it should have was the constant capitalization of "Personal Legend", like it's some big important proper noun. Ridiculous), and his legend is to seek this treasure he dreamed about.
What ensues is the said journey, full of discovery and wisdom and knowledge, and the whole thing is just irritating. Several times on the journey things happen that force the shepherd to stop; he gets robbed, there's a war in the desert, etc. Every time an excuse comes up for him to avoid fulfilling his Personal Legend, he tries to take it. Which is perhaps the point, but most infuriating is that his Personal Legend isn't one that's necessarily difficult to achieve: show up to the Pyramids, get treasure, be rich. I'd understand if he kept quitting because his PL is difficult, like climbing a big mountain or building a home for every homeless person on Earth. But it's not particularly challenging, so our shepherd hero just comes out looking wimpy and whiny.
Richard and Angela are brother and sister, estranged after the death of their mother. Richard, a wealthy, recently-remarried doctor, invites his sister and her family on vacation in an attempt to mend the bond and grow closer. Angela, who took care of her mother as she declined, holds a serious grudge against Richard, almost never visited their mother and was still her favored child. There's a lot of wild drama: an affair, hallucinations, and a conflict between religion and sexuality, to name a few.