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review 2017-12-19 22:16
This is bona fide angst
Grendel - John Gardner

I have to assume that a large majority of you studied the epic poem, Beowulf, when you were in high school. If you recall, this is often cited as the oldest example of an epic poem in Old English and it tells the story of the hero, Beowulf, who comes to aid a king who is plagued by a monster known as Grendel. It goes on to discuss Beowulf's homecoming and his continuing adventures (with a dragon no less). All I remember of the poem was a fight in a cave. (Clearly I was unimpressed with this work's historical lineage.) So it might come as a surprise that when I saw Grendel by John Gardner I was intrigued by discovering that it was a kind of retelling of the poem in narrative format...from Grendel's point of view. Straight out of the gate, this was an absolutely bizarre piece of literature. I came away from it thinking that it was too cerebral for me (Farewell hubris!) because there were many times I felt like I had absolutely no clue what was going on. I think part of this lies with the narrative style which mixed Old English language (like the original) with contemporary phraseology (curses galore, ya'll). I was nearly tempted to reread Beowulf for reference. (Spoiler alert: I didn't.) This is a philosophical novel that ponders the nature of existence and what it actually means to be 'good' or 'evil' because for something to be truly 'good' there needs to be a corresponding 'evil' to balance it...right? Grendel is a classic example of an antihero but boy does he jaw on and on and on about his place in the universe. I found him bitter and whiny but I don't know if that's due to characterization or if it's the author's 'voice' projected onto the character. I guess I'll have to decide if I want to read more of Gardner's works to find out the answer. It's hard for me to sum up my feelings on this one other than to say it wasn't an especially enjoyable time and I don't know who I'd recommend this one too because it's very niche. It's a 3/10 for me.

 

What's Up Next: The Great Questions of Tomorrow by David Rothkopf

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Mine Own Executioner by Nigel Balchin (and also Scythe which apparently I'm never going to finish)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-04-15 01:32
A different kind of robopocalypse
Waking Gods: Book 2 of The Themis Files - Sylvain Neuvel

By chance, I saw that the second book in The Themis Files series by Sylvain Neuvel had hit the shelves. You may recall that I posted a review of the first book, Sleeping Giants, not quite a year ago and I really enjoyed it. It's a unique story that blends aliens and robots *shudder* with a heaping dose of science-y adventure and intrigue. In the sequel, Waking Gods, we're reunited with our mysterious narrator who continues to record his interactions with the team tasked with uncovering the mysteries surrounding Themis, the robot pieced together and purportedly left on earth by an alien race in the distant past. In the first book, the lid was blown off the super secret agency housing the alien creation. This book starts 10 years later where Themis and the EDC (Earth Defense Corps) are now household names. However, years of study haven't revealed all of the answers about this alien race or why they left pieces of a scattered robot across the globe. In fact, Dr. Rose Franklin is starting to wonder if maybe they were never supposed to find the robot at all... It becomes an even more pressing issue when another giant robot (larger than Themis) materializes in the middle of London. Is it a sign that they want to make contact? Is it a threat? How will the human race react? All of this and much more is explored in this book and if you thought the first was fast-paced and action packed then this one is sure to knock your socks off. 10/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-12-27 17:37
I wasn't even that surprised
The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher

I have to be honest...Carrie Fisher's The Princess Diarist was a bit of a letdown. When I saw that she'd come out with a book with excerpts from her diaries written during the making of Star Wars I was SO excited. The punny title, the front cover with that iconic hair, and the premise had me immediately adding it to my library hold list. It turns out that this is not a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat or makes you feel as if you've learned something monumental about the person who is writing the book. The book focuses on one subject and sticks to that ad nauseum throughout. And the worst thing was that it wasn't even that earth-shattering. For me, the best part was when Fisher talked about her relationship with the Star Wars franchise after so many years and how she's had to navigate the world of fandom. I always find that so interesting because for celebs it has to be like moving through an alien landscape. (Now that is a book I'd like to read.) Strangely enough, this experience hasn't deterred me from adding her other book, Wishful Drinking, to my TRL. Hopefully, that one will be on the blog in 2017. XD This one gets a 4/10.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-12-14 01:51
Lightning struck twice
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things - Jenny Lawson

I actually finished this book last week but as the site was down I'm taking the opportunity to post it now. :-)

 

I'm not entirely sure why it's taken my so long to read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. As I mentioned in the post where I reviewed Let's Pretend This Never Happened, I freaking LOVE Jenny Lawson and her writing. I actually picked this book up last year shortly after it came out but as with many things I was distracted and I only now got around to it. I adored it. Her debut novel is much like her blog where it's snippets of stories from her life (which is nothing short of eccentric and bizarre like her which is why I love her so much) mixed in with colorful anecdotes. Furiously Happy is a completely different kettle of fish. There are still tales of her life which are off-the-wall but the main focus of this book is Jenny's struggles with mental and physical illness and how she's decided to view it. Instead of seeing it as a dark cloud that obliterates all the joy from her life she has instead chosen to embrace all of the happy moments in between and LIVE THEM UP. Her joyousness and love of life is felt on every page. It's a fantastic pick me up. She takes the stigma of mental illness and throws it completely out of the window (making sure that it's wearing a funny sombrero on its way out). There's more taxidermy and of course arguments with Victor but the overarching theme is shining rays of light into the darkness of mental illness. I've already gotten one of my co-workers reading it and she said that from the first page she was hooked. That's two ringing endorsements, ya'll! This one is a 10/10 for sure and if you don't read it you'll surely regret it.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-06-21 17:29
Dear Caitlin, I love you.
How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran was the April book from the feminist book club on Goodreads called Our Shared Shelf started by Emma Watson. I am continually thankful for this book group as it has really opened my horizons to some truly fantastic and interesting books that I don't know I would have necessarily picked up on my own. I had heard SO much about this book in particular that I was starting to wonder if it was fated for me to read it. Yes, I have definitely fallen under Caitlin Moran's spell. I challenge anyone to read this book and not think she's the epitome of awesomeness. The basic premise of this book is that Caitlin feels that she has never truly known how to be a "woman" in all the ways that society/family/ourselves tell us are the defining characteristics of a "woman". She talks about growing up in a family of 8 as the oldest in a very poor household and her journey in discovering her place in feminism. However, it was her no-holds-barred satirical take on the pitfalls of trying to mold ourselves to fit one perfect mold that made me truly love this book. 10/10 highly recommend

 

PS This is definitely an adult book. So be prepared.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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