Archive for Reviews

Book Review: Mother by Maxim Gorky

Mother by Maxim Gorky I didn’t really like the overly simplistic style. It felt like a Dick and Jane book about socialism.

Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë I seem to be in the minority here, but I could just not get into this book and I really didn’t like it. I tried to give it a chance, reading about 95 pages in all, but I couldn’t go on any longer.

I think part of the problem was the stodgy language, especially when trying to imagine it coming from a 10-year-old, as Jane is at the beginning of the book. Even given the time period, I can’t imagine a child speaking like that.

Also, I felt like the author kept hitting me over the head repeatedly with the major themes of the book. Jane is too easily overcome by her emotions, ok I get it. Religion, god, religion, ok, got it. A bit of subtlety, please.

The pace was also strange. First, there’s a a good amount of time spent on 10 year old Jane, showing us her childhood. Something seemingly major happens, and then suddenly, without much reaction or showing the impact of it, we’re suddenly jumping ahead eight years? I can only imagine how this keeps up later on.

Book Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House by Charles Dickens Phew! I managed to finish the whole thing! I think this was the first Dickens novel I read in full, at least that I can recall, and it was quite an experience.

It’s a hefty tome, especially in terms of the often weighty language and cast of characters. (I wish I’d taken notes or had a list of who’s who to refer to as I read along. Though sometimes it seemed like there were only 30 people in England at this time, and they all knew each other.) I often had to reread passages to grasp was what going on, or go back to a previous chapter to remember if I’d seen a certain character before, and I’m sure I missed some clever coincidences or small events that played into the bigger story.

Despite all this, I did enjoy reading it, though I feel I’d need to reread the whole book to really see all that was going on, and to appreciate the writing more fully. Maybe someday.

Book Review: The Collected Stories by Heinrich Böll

The Collected Stories by Heinrich Böll A great collection of Heinrich Böll’s work, though with so many stories and novellas, it’s hard to comment on them here. His writing style is appealing, mostly clear and to the point, but with enough detail to paint a scene. The stories focusing on the war and just after seemed best to me; those touching upon religion and/or philosophy did not feel as compelling.

Book Review: The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf I think this was the first I’ve read of Virginia Woolf, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped though. It didn’t feel like a great deal happened for awhile, at least earlier on in the book, and some of the descriptive or philosophical passages got rather wordy and took a bit to wade through. I didn’t really like any of the characters either, so I didn’t really care what happened to them throughout the book. It was just ok.

Book Review: Selected Stories from Sholom Aleichem

Selected Stories from Sholom Aleichem I liked the writing style of these stories, and they were interesting in terms of where and who they focused on. But a lot of the stories didn’t really go anywhere and felt incomplete. Some were more like portraits of individual characters, but without a story. Others seemed to be heading to a climax, but then abruptly ended without any resolution. A bit of a mixed bag, really.

Book Review: The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker

The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker Meh. I just wasn’t feeling it with this book. It doesn’t seem as compelling as some of his other novels (Dreamland, Paradise Alley). It kept jumping back and forth, making it hard to following, especially with so many characters to keep track of.

Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker I’m pretty sure I read this back in high school, but as I started to read it just before Halloween, I realized I had completely forgotten everything about it. It has a good dose of creepy and thrilling elements, though it’s a bit plodding in parts, what with all the journal entries and exclamations of “oh, what brave men!” Some of the characters’ actions were a bit baffling, and they felt like they were written that way to fit in later plot points. (Why on earth would they keep Mina out of things, right after saying how great and smart she was, with her “man’s brain?” And then see what happened as a result!) That said, it’s still a good book, and a classic, at that.

Book Review: My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning The story sounded like it would be interesting, but the book just didn’t deliver. I thought I would be reading about a real person, not a character “inspired by” a real person. And I didn’t really expect the heavy focus on the main character’s childhood. It just didn’t really keep my interest, and parts of it felt superfluous, like the whole orphan train episode. (Would they really have sent a kid out West and then just let them go back to New York?)

The writing style also got in the way quite often. Not only did it feel a bit stilted at times, but the use of dashes instead of proper quotations for dialogue, as well as the asterisks on certain words, kept slowing me down and pulling me out of the story.

Book Review: The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon I didn’t realize this was by an author I’d tried to read before, but I figured I’d give it a try. The first chapter seemed really good, so I thought I’d keep going. It wasn’t as strong after that, but I thought it was ok, though I credit that to having been sleep-deprived. I got a good night’s sleep, and then I realized that this wasn’t the book for me. I didn’t like the characters, and the writing was so sappy and overly wordy. Just too annoying in so many ways.