Monday, February 20, 2006

Book 17: The Kite Runner

TITLE: The Kite Runner
AUTHOR: Khaled Hosseini
STARTED: February 14, 2006
FINISHED: February 19, 2006
PAGES: 371
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.

SUMMARY: [From] Despite their class differences, Amir, the son of a wealthy businessman, and Hassan, his devoted sidekick and the son of Amir's household servant, play together, cause mischief together, and compete in the annual kite-fighting tournament - Amir flying the kite, and Hassan running down the kites they fell. But one day, Amir betrays Hassan, and his betrayal grows increasingly devastating as their tale continues. Amir will spend much of his life coming to terms with his initial and subsequent acts of cowardice, and finally seek to make reparations.

REASON FOR READING: Kathleen P. told me I had to. Plus, I've heard a lot about it.

THOUGHTS: Normally, I am extremely disappointed by books that are overly hyped. I warily began reading this one, but was quite happy to have the feeling melt away as I read. Khaled's story of tormented relationships (Friend and Friend, Father and Son, Husband and Wife, Man and Self) was an addictive read. Having such a flawed character for the focus of the story created such an emotional read that it was hard to not become attached to the story. There were times where I did not like Amir, but it was so hard to hate him. Hosseini balanced his characters perfectly. While some of the plot lines were cliched, none of them read that way.

There was so much emotion permeating this story that I did not want to put the book down. I spent more than one night reading into the wee hours of the morning. Hosseini's prose is the strength of this novel. It is simple and straightforward. None of the language is difficult and this book is actually a very easy read. But, it was the way he crafted the language that made it stand out. Simple it may have been, but the emotions he built were complex, the characters were complete, and, in his descriptions, I could hear, taste, smell, and see the seen without trying to hard.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this book for me were the simple philosophic insights into human life. The way Hosseini describes Amir's life can be carried over easily to the reader. This book made me pause to think. I did not blow through it like I would most novels.

A rich text and a HIGHLY enjoyable read.

MISCELLANEOUS: This book made me hungry.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): I will buy my own copy in hardcover one day.
RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

CR: The Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman
RN: Either the next Sandman or a romance novel

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Book 16: On Liberty

TITLE: On Liberty
AUTHOR: John Stuart Mill
STARTED: February 12, 2006
FINISHED: February 13, 2006
PAGES: 118
GENRE: Philosophy

FIRST SENTENCE: The subject of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty of the Will, so unfortunately opposed to the misnamed doctrine of Philosophical Necessity; but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately excercised by society over the individual.

SUMMARY: [From] Published in 1859, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty presented one of the most eloquent defenses of individual freedom in nineteenth-century social and political philosophy and is today perhaps the most widely-read liberal argument in support of the value of liberty. Mill’s passionate advocacy of spontaneity, individuality, and diversity, along with his contempt for compulsory uniformity and the despotism of popular opinion, has attracted both admiration and condemnation.

REASON FOR READING: Assigned in HSCP 490: Senior Capstone Seminar

THOUGHTS: Aside from Machiavelli's The Prince, this was the only philosophy reading that I truly enjoyed in college. Mill advocates for the free exchange of ideas in a clear and concise manner that can be difficult to argue against. I enjoyed his many examples and eloquent explanations.

MISCELLANEOUS: I hate it when professors assign 100 pages of reading on Sunday night for a Tuesday night class. Boo to that.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Going back to the library
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
RN: Some romance novel over spring break.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Book 15: The Sandman: Fables and Reflections

TITLE: The Sandman: Fables and Reflections
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
STARTED: February 12, 2006
FINISHED: February 12, 2006
PAGES: 259
GENRE: Graphic Novels

FIRST SENTENCE: It was getting late, and I was losing it fast.

SUMMARY: [From] The critically acclaimed The Sandman: Fables and Reflections continues the fantastical epic of Morpheus, the King of Dreams, as he observes and interacts with an odd assortment of historical and fictional characters throughout time. Featuring tales of kings, explorers, spies, and werewolves, this book of myth and imagination delves into the dark dreams of Augustus Caesar, Marco Polo, Cain and Abel, Norton I, and Orpheus to illustrate the effects that these subconscious musings have had on the course of history and mankind.

REASON FOR READING: It was the next in the series.

THOUGHTS: I think I may be more attracted to these random stories than I am to the overarching plot of the series. No reason why, I just am. Each story was fantastic but I really enjoyed "Thermidor," "August," and "The Parliament of Rooks." I love it when Gaiman takes a historical era or story and spins his own telling of it. The man is amazing. This part of the series covered so many aspects of life, history, and the human imagination that it would be difficult not to find something to enjoy.

MISCELLANEOUS: I had the weirdest dream after reading this. Spooky.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): It's going to back to Pete... or whomever he borrowed it from.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: A romance novel of some sort, I think.
RN: Haven't thought that far ahead, it will probably be Spring Break time.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Book 14: Watchmen

TITLE: Watchmen
AUTHOR: Alan Moore
STARTED: February 5, 2006
FINISHED: February 11, 2006
PAGES: 416
GENRE: Graphic Novels

FIRST SENTENCE: Rorschach's Journal. October 12th, 1985.: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach.

SUMMARY: [From] It all begins with the paranoid delusions of a half-insane hero called Rorschach. But is Rorschach really insane or has he in fact uncovered a plot to murder super-heroes and, even worse, millions of innocent civilians? On the run from the law, Rorschach reunites with his former teammates in a desperate attempt to save the world and their lives, but what they uncover will shock them to their very core and change the face of the planet! Following two generations of masked superheroes from the close of World War II to the icy shadow of the Cold War comes this groundbreaking comic story -- the story of The Watchmen.

REASON FOR READING: Pete gave it to me in lieu of the next Sandman book.

THOUGHTS: For being considered the greatest graphic novel, I was left wanting. For me, this was just an okay read. I much prefer The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. I don't why this book failed to move me, it just did. The story was great, I will admit that, but I felt, in comparison to Gaiman, it lacked imagination. That being said, the amount of detail crammed into this book made it worth the read. I loved the "what if" scenarios that ran throughout the book. The only character I truly connected with was Jon. That big blue guy could do no wrong in my mind. I liked how he was written and drawn. There was such life in him even though he had no real eyes.

It's a good read, but I'm not awed.


KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Going back to Pete.
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: The Sandman: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman
RN: Probably a romance novel but it might be The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Book 13: The Runaway Duke

TITLE: The Runaway Duke
AUTHOR: Julie Anne Long
STARTED: January 28, 2006
FINISHED: January 30, 2006
PAGES: 353
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: He was dreaming, or he was awake; he couldn't be certain anymore.

SUMMARY: [From] No one could ever accuse Rebecca Tremaine of being a proper young lady. She's wretched at embroidery, pitiful at the pianoforte, and entirely too informed about the human body, courtesy of her father's Scientific Journals. And now she's been compromised by a dandy she despises! When her parents arrange a hasty marriage to save her honor, there is only one man she can turn to for help.

Nobody has any idea that Irish groom Connor Riordan is actually the fifth Duke of Dunbrooke, "killed" in action at Waterloo, and he wants it to stay that way. But a true gentleman can never turn away from a damsel in distress. Soon Connor and Rebecca dash away and into a world of adventure, where they are pursued by bumbling highwaymen, a scheming duchess, and Rebecca's fiance.

Being by the side of the beautiful and desirable Rebecca jeopardizes Connor's secret every day-and tests his willpower every night. For if ever there was a reason to bring the Duke of Dunbrooke back from the dead, it would be to make Ms. Tremaine his Duchess!


THOUGHTS: This book was your typical romance. I really can't say much more than that. There was an overabundance of characters, but they were all well written so Long pulled it off. Personally, I think this book should have been MUCH longer. There were so many subplots that needed to be lengthened and explored more.

MISCELLANEOUS: The woman on the cover looks like she's covered in overly pink cotton candy.

RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

CR: Nothing. Shocker!
RN: No clue.