Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Around the World for a Good Book selection for Colombia
Author: Gabriel García Márquez
Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Translator: Gregory Rabassa
Narrator: John Lee
Publication Info: Blackstone Audio (2014) (originally published 1967)
ISBN: 9781482939682
Other books read by the same author: Love in the Time of Cholera
Summary/Review:

I always find it difficult to review a book that is a recognized classic.  What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said before.  I enjoyed this book a lot, and I was surprised it was so funny (it was meant to be funny, I hope?), at least parts of it.  I also couldn’t keep track of all the characters but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that is not as vital as the story of the town of Macondo itself with its sleepless sickness, civil wars with civil generals (but gruesome executions), and endless rain.  There’s also the books style and use of words and imagery that set it apart from your typical novel.  This novel is also rich in symbolism encapsulating an alternate history of Colombia.

So there you have it, my very short and very dumb review of a classic work of literature.  Here’s all you need to know: read it!
Favorite Passages:

“Fernanda was scandalized that she did not understand the relationship of Catholicism with life but only its relationship with death, as if it were not a religion but a compendium of funeral conventions.”

“Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people.”

Recommended booksThe House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: Gregor and the Code of the Claw by Suzanne Collins

AuthorSuzanne Collins
TitleGregor and the Code of the Claw
Publication Info: [New York] : Listening Library, 2008.
ISBN: 9780739364895
Summary/Review:
The final volume of The Underland Chronicles completes the fascinating and well-written series.  While at heart a war story, it finds its protagonist Gregor grappling with ethical dilemmas, mortality, and fate.  And if you’re like me and thought the prophecies of Sandwich were too overbearing in the earlier novels, it was a relief to see what Ripred and Gregor make of the final prophecy.  The Underland Chronicles are a worthy addition to fantasy literature and something readers of all ages should enjoy.
Rating: ****

Book Review: Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins

AuthorSuzanne Collins
TitleGregor and the Marks of Secret
Publication Info: New York : Listening Library, 2008.
ISBN: 9780739364857
Summary/Review:
The Underland Chronicles continues its compelling story.  This one is set apart from its predecessors as it doesn’t follow a quest.  Instead it finds Gregor and his family in everyday interaction with the Underland, only falling into adventure to solve mysteries that crop up eventually leading to war between the Underland humans and the rats.  The story continues to grow dark with imagery reminiscent of the Nazi Holocaust and the killing fields of Pol Pot.  This book is also essentially a two-parter leading right into the final book Gregor and the Code of the Claw.
Rating: ****

Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

AuthorDavid Levithan
TitleEvery Day
Publication Info: [New York] : Listening Library, 2012.
ISBN: 9780449015230
Summary/Review:

This novel is told from the perspective of a person – or perhaps just a consciousness – named A who awakes each morning occupying the body of a different person.  Over the years, A has come up with practices and ethics to not interfere in the lives of the bodies occupied, but this all changes at the age of 16 when A becomes obsessed with a girl named Rhiannon.  A reveals the secret identity to Rhiannon and tries to find some way to maintain a relationship. Along the way we get sympathetic vignettes glimpsing into the lives of several teenagers each facing their own joys and struggles. Levithan’s writing is well-done and the story works both as ripping good yarn and as metaphor for the teenagers’ search for identity.


Recommended booksThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Fade by Robert Cormier.
Rating: ****

Book Review: Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins

AuthorSuzanne Collins
TitleGregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
Publication Info: [New York, N.Y.] : Listening Library, 2005.
ISBN: 9780739353950
Summary/Review:

The third volume of The Underland Chronicles is another ripping yarn but also one where the quest is really a metaphor.  Revelations of the Underland’s past are made and the morality of the human’s position in Underland society is questioned.  Gregor’s family also become a greater part of the story, as Gregor’s mother visits the Underland for the first time and also succumbs to the plague that afflicts the mammals of the Underland.  It’s great that Collins can maintain the high quality of adventure while unfolding the ongoing plot of the chronicles.
Favorite Passages:
Recommended books:
Rating: ****1/2

Book Review: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins

Author: Suzanne Collins
TitleGregor and the Prophecy of Bane
Publication Info: [New York] : Listening Library, 2005.
ISBN: 9780739344842

Previously Read By Same AuthorThe Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay, Gregor the Overlander

Summary/Review:

The second volume of The Underland Chronicles continues the delightful adventures and imaginative world-building of it’s predecessor.  Gregor and his sister Boots return unwillingly to the Underland and find themselves drawn into another quest to seek a rat known as the Bane.  [Side note: Being the father of a girl the same age as Boots makes me love her characterization all the more].  The book builds on the Underland with new characters and new locations but at it’s best it develops continuing relationships, especially between Gregor and his bonded bat Aries.  It is also a darker story as Gregor faces a tragic loss and must make a difficult  moral decision that defines his character.  If I have one quibble it is how these stories are guided by prophecies, although there is the counterpoint that the interpretation of these prophecies is often way off base within the story itself.  Another excellent work by Suzanne Collins, go get it now!

Rating: ****1/2

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Author: Suzanne Collins
TitleGregor the Overlander 
Publication Info: [New York, N.Y.] : Listening Library, 2005.
ISBN: 9780739344859

Previously Read By Same AuthorThe Hunger GamesCatching Fire, Mockingjay

Summary/Review:

I read this book for the first time in 2006 (my original review is on Library Thing) and was impressed by the adventure set in a fantastical world under the Earth.  I learned a few years ago that it was the first book in a series and have been meaning to try to read through them all.  And so I begin with a reread of this terrific story about a boy named Gregor and his toddler sister Boots who fall into the Underland, where lies a mysterious kingdom with humans allied with giant bats and cockroaches at war with giant rats.  Gregor discovers that his long-missing father is held captive by the rats and thus begins a quest to find him.  The story is a delightful mix of action, humor, and introspection.  I included this book in my list of 100 Favorite Books back in 2009 and I believe it still deserves a spot in that list. Suzanne Collins has become famous for The Hunger Games (and their film adaptations), but I think this is her best work.

Recommended booksAlcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
Rating: *****

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