Sunday, April 26, 2015

my instagram pics: part two

1911 edition of Shakespeare's Works Vol. II - with Hamlet (his best!) and his poems and sonnets...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: The Name of the Wind


The Name of the Wind
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This book was highly recommended, but lived up to every expectation.

It took a while to get rolling (like more fantasy novels that have to build the worlds they live in), but once it did, it really took off. Cannot wait to pick up the next book.



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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: The Sandman: Overture #1


The Sandman: Overture #1
The Sandman: Overture #1 by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



It feels like only yesterday I was in the world of Morpheus and the Endless...



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Review: Doctor Sleep


Doctor Sleep
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Short review...ok. Had it been a stand alone book, it wouldn't have been bad. But as a sequel to The Shining, it did not fill the big shoes that were left behind by that genuinely scary book.



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Thursday, April 11, 2013

my instagram pics: part one

Here are a few pictures that I've taken with my iPhone and then messed around with in Instagram.
Bushkill Falls waterfall

Bushkill Falls bridge

SEPTA R6 Main Street station

Valley Forge Park, last summer

Overcast Valley Forge Park

Friday, January 4, 2013

Thursday, December 20, 2012

my book review: the hunger games trilogy by suzanne collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't know if, after reading these books so long ago, I could write a review for each one...so I'm going to write and all-encompassing review of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Hunger Games (Book #1) - The best of the three.
Catching Fire (Book #2) - Gets better from about the half-way point on.
Mockingjay (Book #3) - Not that great. Probably the weakest of the three. Then the ending sucked HARD.

The Hunger Games is a story about North America after a horrific war has wiped out life and government as we know it. The survivors have banded together to form the Capitol City and various outer Districts, each with its own jobs/manufacturing tasks. The Capital City controlled everything to the point that the Districts rose up and revolted. And they were crushed. To remind the Districts that they must never revolt again, the Capital initiated The Hunger Games. Each District must deliver one boy and one girl to fight to the death against the other District children for food.

All this happens before our story begins...

We begin with the 74th annual Hunger Games and our main character, Katniss Everdeen from District 12, is competing in the Games. While it won't shock readers to know that the main character wins the Hunger Games, there are still surprises, twists, and gut-wrenching scenes of loss and heartbreak. This is the first book. It was fantastic and an exceptional read. The Hunger Games could stand alone without the other two books and still be a knock-out first novel. In fact, I kinda wish I stopped reading here.

The second book picks up with the Victory Tour that follows the Hunger Games. Katniss, am anti-authoritative rebel, ended up pissing off the leaders of the Capital City with her actions in the 74th Hunger Games. So during the Victory Tour, she has to deal with the consequences of her actions from her Hunger Game win. This part really seemed somewhat repetitive and boring, especially after all the excitement of the first book. Then, everything changed from the middle of the book on. And it was almost as good as the first book. Definitely full of unexpected surprises until the cliffhanger ending...

The third book picked up from the cliffhanger ending of book two and completely different than the other two books. Mockingjay deals mostly with Katniss Everdeen being the figurehead of a District-wide revolt against the Capital City. The difference in plots alone doesn't make the book bad, just not as interesting as the other two. Then came the surprise "dramatic" conclusion to the trilogy and...IT SUCKED HARD. The ending was SO BAD it pretty much ruined the entire trilogy for me. I don't think I'd ever read these books again, cause I know how it ends and IT. IS. HORRIBLE.

My advice to anyone...Read "The Hunger Games" book #1 and THEN STOP.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

my book review: the dante club by matthew pearl

The Dante ClubThe Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hm. Not sure where to go with this review. I'll start off by saying I liked this book. A lot. So much so that I picked up Matthew Pearl's next two books (The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens) and have them sitting on my HUGE to-read pile. This is probably one of the biggest compliments I can give an author after reading one book...not often does someone's first novel make me an instant fan.

The book is historical fiction. And the story is the made-up events surrounding the real-life quest of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to complete the first translation of Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy" from Italian to English. Longfellow, along with real-life friends, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr and James Russell Lowell, notice a parallel between recent murders and the various punishments in the "Inferno" canto of "The Divine Comedy". With Dante's famous work being largely unread in America, the three men take it upon themselves to make the connections and solve the crimes.

The novel seamlessly tied fact with fiction and Pearl crafted a thrilling and suspenseful novel that entertained, taught, and got me interested in reading "The Divine Comedy" in its entirety. In fact, the Longfellow translation has been reprinted due to the notoriety it received from Pearl's "The Dante Club".

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my book review: tinker tailor soldier spy by john le carré

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A George Smiley NovelTinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A George Smiley Novel by John le Carré
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So...it's been a while since I've updated this. Sorry.

I'm going to start this review by saying that mystery/crime/whodunnit novels are not my cup of tea. On top of that, I've probably only read one "spy" novel before TTSS and that was a James Bond novel. And NOT an Ian Fleming one, but Sebastian Faulks' "Devil May Care". And I found that one to be 'blah' at best.

So I can say that I felt predispositioned to not like TTSS when I picked it up. But I was looking for something to read, trying to expand the genres that I went in for, and was swayed by both the book's reputation and the commercials for the Gary Oldman film.

That being said, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is, without a doubt, the best spy novel I have ever read (and my list of read spy novels IS growing). It's not an action-packed thriller like a Bourne or Bond movie, but (since it's written by a former spy) a slow, methodical examination of clues and possibilities until the main character, George Smiley, reaches the unthinkable conclusion. I will admit, the spy is NOT the character I suspected.

Despite the slowish pace, the book had me captivated, guessing, and enthralled from the opening pages of Jim Prideaux arriving at his new teaching position to the big reveal and the ensuing fallout.

On a somewhat-related note, the Gary Oldman film version was a total letdown, despite a fantastic cast. The film script was NOT up to par for such a fantastic book.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

my book review: full dark, no stars by stephen king

Full Dark, No StarsFull Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not sure where to begin or how to begin, so I'll start by saying I liked this book. In King's pantheon of short story collections, it isn't the best however. Nor does it really live up to the quality of his recent books, published after his "retirement". But it was still better than some of his later-years/pre-retirement crap.

And I think I can pinpoint my overall liking of this book to the biggest complaint I'm going to lodge against it... I feel like I've read it all before. I know King has written a LOT of tales. In fact, I think he's written one of EVERY possible theme/monster/scare that exists in the horror genre. So I shouldn't be surprised that after a career spanning almost 50 years, he repeats himself. But when you notice it in the middle (or even beginning) of the story, you do tend to feel ripped off. Cheated. Like, "Ugh! I've read this already!" I'll compare the stories in Full Dark, No Stars to the ones I'm reminded of in the individual reviews.

1922 An excellent story to start off King's return to short stories after 2008's Just After Sunset. Incredibly creepy and foreboding, like King’s early work, it showed that he can still scare the crap out of you when he has a good idea to work with. But, in this case, the story feels too similar to the short story "Jerusalem’s Lot" in his collection, Night Shift. Even down to the choice of narration style.

Big Driver One of King's psychological horror stories, instead of the supernatural. It was ok, but seemed to be another version of his "Rest Stop" from Just After Sunset. An author takes a long trip in his/her vehicle and finds himself/herself in a situation where he/she channels one of his/her characters to get out of the situation.

Fair Extension Back to the supernatural horror, the well-used story of a mysterious stranger who shows up to give the main character what he/she most desires with unintended consequences. Considering these consequences involve negative effects on other people, I was reminded of "Thinner", the most famous of King's Richard Bachman books.

A Good Marriage Back to the horror of human nature, this one deals with a woman who discovers her husband MIGHT be a homicidal serial killer. It was ok, with only the ending providing any moments that seemed shocking or surprising. The only story of the four that didn't immediately remind me of something else that King had written.

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