Friday, October 29, 2010

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

Rating 2/5

Meh. The first half was really boring, but it picked up after that. The characters seemed rather lifeless caricatures, especially Jessamine and Henry. The protagonist, Tessa, was inconsistent -she had all these ideas about what was proper, and her inner thoughts seemed those of a timid, proper girl, but her dialogue was at odds with this. All the characters seemed to be stereotypes to which the author half-heartedly added a bit of mysterious past in order to give them more depth, without much success. The plot was rather murky. I really enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series, so I found this book to be quite disappointing. It feels like the author's heart wasn't really in it.

See my reviews of Clockwork Prince (#2) and Clockwork Princess (#3)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers by Toni Bernhard

Rating 3/5

I have mixed feelings about this book. When I saw it at Chapters, I thought, well hey, here's a book written just for me - a chronically ill Buddhist. Just like the author. Except my situation isn't like the author's - she's older, had a good career and a family before she got sick, and has a very supportive husband. I'm on my own, without having done much of anything. Still, I found much to think about in this book. It's a little more simple than I like my Buddhism, but there were ideas I hadn't studied or thought about in relation to my illness. Each chapter was short and to the point, and I read a couple of chapters a day. Reading anything about Buddhism always makes me feel emotionally calmer (unless I'm triggered/resisting - then I get angry - my issue), and it was educational to read exactly how the author uses Buddhist practices to relieve her own suffering - not the physical symptoms, but the emotional ones that make having a chronic illness potentially devastating and seriously depressing. I will be revisiting this book and exploring the techniques she uses to help her cope. An important book for anyone with chronic illness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James

Rating 1/5

Don't read this. Read Dracula In Love by Karen Essex instead. Syrie James has succeeded in turning every character from Stoker's original into a total idiot - especially Mina, and even Dracula. This may be the most trite, insubstantial, obvious and unoriginal book I've ever read. Much of it was ridiculous, and I literally rolled my eyes several times. I suppose if I'd never read Dracula, it might have been bearable, but besides the character names and certain events, it has nothing in common with the original. James has killed this story and resurrected it as a brainless zombie. And did I mention it was ridiculous?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Rating: 2.5/5

I honestly don't know how to rate this book. I could give it 5 stars for originality and creativity, or 1 star for how little I cared about any of the characters. Parts of it made me slightly nauseous, and most of it made me impatient. The many, many references to other works (of literature and art, I think) are alienating to the reader, unless that reader happens to have Masters degrees in those subjects. Nabokov has an interesting grasp of the English language, and he pretty much uses every word in the dictionary. He paints a very vivid portrait of obsession, and I can appreciate why this book is a classic, but in truth I didn't really like it. Everybody in it was despicable to me, including (after awhile) Lolita.