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review 2017-11-21 01:58
A wonderful book about one of the best TV shows ever made.
Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical Companion - Alan Sepinwall

So, I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain what Breaking Bad is, do I? One of the greatest TV dramas of all time, Mr. Chips turns into Scarface, et cetera, et cetera. This book is a collection of brief essays about each episode, a critical companion, fan resource, and all around handy book.

 

Most of these chapters started out as episode recaps on Alan Sepinwall's blog generally posted a day or two after the original airing -- a couple were written just for this book because he didn't recap each episode in season 1 and a later episode deserved a better recap (for reasons Sepinwall explains) -- although the original version is included as well. He does take out some of he speculation and whatnot from the original posts to provide a nice, clean look at each episode. It's more than just an episode recap, he looks at the arcs, the acting, writing, cinematography; in just a few pages he gets to the heart of the episode and helps you see all things that Gilligan et. al. were doing. The real gems are the footnotes and sidebar pieces that dive in a little further to the nitty-gritty details -- why was this decision made, where'd actor X come from, and so on. Seriously, fantastic footnotes.

 

This is a quick and wonderful read if you do it start to finish -- or you can just thumb through, stopping at random points to read up on an episode. The book works both ways. I imagine the best way to read it is with a remote in one hand, a DVD/Blu-Ray disc in your player and the book in the other hand. Watch an episode, read the chapter -- skipping around in the episode to re-examine shots/sequences, etc. I haven't done that, but man, I'm tempted to.

 

A few other things worthy of note: Damon Lindelof wrote a very amusing foreword; Max Dalton provided 12 black and white illustrations that are just perfect; the dust-jacket design is great; but more than that, the actual cover is even better; and lastly, the whole book is so well-designed and pleasing to the eye, it's nice just to look at without reading. I don't mention those kind of things enough, and need to get better about it.

 

Now, I've been a fan of Sepinwall's recaps/writing since the days he posted about NYPD Blue on Usenet. I also read all these posts from Season 2 on within a few hours of their original posting (I didn't start watching until after the season 1 finale -- so I read all of those in a couple of days, still pretty fresh). So I was pretty predisposed to enjoy this book, but I'm pretty sure I would have anyway.

 

Sepinwall is a fan of Breaking Bad, most of the stories, most of the performances, etc. But he's a thoughtful fan, not a mindless one -- he is critical of some things, this isn't just someone being a fanboy. I heartily encourage fans of the show to pick this up -- or people who've been meaning to watch it, but haven't (this book would be a much better companion than your friends who will be patronizing about you finally getting around to watching it).

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/11/16/breaking-bad-101-by-alan-sepinwall
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review 2017-11-18 06:24
The Alchemist
The Alchemist - Alan R. Clarke,Paulo Coelho

I bought this book while in Amsterdam for a couple of reasons:  The title first caught my attention, and the friend I was with said he'd read it and thought it was... ok.  But mostly because of the title. 

 

Since buying it I've read a lot of reviews that say it's... ok.  Which is why it sat on my TBR for so long.

 

Now that I've read it, I understand why a lot of people might think it's just ok.  Reading it, I'm left with comparisons that include fairy tales and Pilgrim's Progress; allegory plays a big part in this tale, although the message isn't all that hidden.  And the author doesn't even try to hide his, or his characters', faiths or spirituality; it's not preachy, but God and Allah are at the root of the plot.

 

Still, it's beautifully written, and well translated.  The allegorical nature of the story and the third person POV kept me from really being invested in what happened to anyone, but I did appreciate the truly omnipotent and omnipresent role the author gave to God.  He never tried to restrict the deity's role to just a traditional Christian or a traditional Islamic one; when he claims God is everywhere, he doesn't go about contradicting himself.  My appreciation for this refreshing lack of hypocrisy went a long way to overcoming my ambivalence about the fate of the characters, and elevated my appreciation of the book to a notch above 'ok'.  

 

If you prefer your spiritualism to be deity free, you're not going to like this book.  If that's less important to you and you're intrigued by the question of "why are we here?", this might be worth a look.

 

 

Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue),

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review 2017-11-13 20:54
A Farewell to My Arms by Alan Spencer
A Farewell to My Arms - Alan Spencer,Kristopher Rufty

<!-- [if lte IE 9]> <![endif]--><!-- [if lt IE 9]> <![endif]--><!-- [if lt IE 8]> <![endif]--><!-- [if gte IE 8]><!--><!--<![endif]-->This one reminded me somewhat of the movie called "The Cabin in the Woods". If you've seen the movie, you'll know what I mean. This one has a bit more gore to it and some of the weirdest monsters I've ever read.

 

 

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text 2017-11-04 02:48
Reading progress update: I've read 174 out of 286 pages.
Paradime - Alan Glynn

I think this novel is playing me...but I can't quite figure out just how I'm being suckered. what a weird story!

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text 2017-11-03 23:55
Reading progress update: I've read 138 out of 286 pages.
Paradime - Alan Glynn

we sure do get our share of twins or exact doubles, in Crime Fiction, do we not? I'm just gonna ignore the incredible frequency of this phenomenon in fiction, because in this book's case, it's working, and I love it. insane plot, but I love it.

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