Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

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CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #27: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

 

*Audiobook Review*

***It is apparently very difficult for me to write a review of a book that I love. I finished this book 3 weeks ago, but I can’t even get halfway through the review.   I can’t define the qualities that make me love a book.  I just do.  If I hate something, I am ridiculously articulate about why I hate it.  I have a 10 minute lecture on why Titanic was a terrible movie, or why Taylor Swift songs make the Baby Jesus cry.  But why I love something is far more ineffable.  My half-assed attempt at a review is below.***

Good Omens is very, very English.  It’s more English than Queen Elizabeth having tea and scones at a Jane Austen convention.  It’s very dry and droll, so obviously, I love it.  I have read this book at least four times now.  This is one of those books that you recommend to nearly everyone you meet.  I also realized that I’ve read a ton of apocalyptic literature for this Cannonball Read.  That’s a disturbing revelation.  The Hunger Games series, World War Z, and Robopocalypse immediately spring to mind.  This was definitely the most light-hearted and ridiculous.

Good Omens is the story of Armageddon.  Crowley is a demon who is enjoying the chaos he has wrought over the centuries until he is given the message from below that the Antichrist is about to be delivered to Earth.  Since he enjoys being on Earth he colludes with Aziraphale, an Angel, to make sure that the Antichrist is raised as impartially as possible.  The problem is that the Antichrist has been misplaced and is now a perfectly normal 11-year-old boy in a small town in England. Chaos ensues while the 4 motorcyclists of the Apocalypse race towards Armageddon.

What really sets this book apart isn’t the plot so much as the writing.  The small jokes are often the best.  Did you know that if you leave a cassette tape in a car for longer than two weeks it automatically becomes a tape of Queen’s Greatest Hits – which is awesome!

This book is a must-read for anyone who likes dry British humor.

5/5 Stars

Tit’s McGee’s Books 1-16 of 2012

I completely forgot that we’re supposed to link to our blogs on the CBR main blog. I’m also posting on tumblr and on Pajiba as competitivenonfiction now, because Tits McGee was taken.

These are my first 16 books. More reviews to come.

Book 16 – World War Z by Max Brooks

Book 15 – The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Book 14 of 2012 – Peony in Love by Lisa See

Book 13 of 2012 – The DoveKeepers by Alice Hoffman

Book 12 of 2012 – The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Book 11 of 2012 – One For the Money by Janet Evanovich

Book 10 of 2012 – Gods Behaving Badly by Marilyn Phillips

Book 9 of 2012 – The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler, Cassandra Forsythe and Alwyn Cosgrove

Book 8 of 2012 – Gardens of the Moon, Book one of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Book 7 of 2012 – No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Book 6 of 2012 – The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Book 5 of 2012 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book 4 of 2012 – Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Books 1-3 of 2012 – The Inheritance Cycle 2-4 by Christopher Paolini

And I also did a bit of a round up of my favourite reads from 2011:

My Top 5 Books of 2011 (in no particular order and in totally made up categories)

 

Jen K’s #CBR4 Review #10: Robopocalypse

I’m back?  Went through a few books that couldn’t keep my interest, and then got a bit behind on reviewing.  Robopocalypse has a similar set up to World War Z though this time, it’s robots that are taking over the world.  Read my review here.

genericwhitegirl’s #CBR4 Review 8: Blindness by Jose Saramago

I was in Portland on business and heard that one of Portland’s treasures is Powell’s books. So I checked it out. If you haven’t been there or heard of it, Powell’s is a new and used bookstore that literally takes up an entire city block. Each room has a genre, labeled by a certain color (Want a mystery book? Head to the gold room. Children’s? That’s rose). There’s also the rare book room, whose hours, if you’re only visiting for a few days, seem just as rare as the books inside. And there are other little treasures hidden within as well. If you want to take a book and read for awhile, you’re welcome to go to the coffee shop and relax. And I discovered my new favorite book “Go the Fuck to Sleep.” (If you are one of the last people, like me, to hear about this little treasure, I’ll review it next.)

I say all that to say this…there was a Nobel Prize section that featured several books by Portuguese author Jose Saramago. I had read his book, Death with Interruptions, last year, and selected it as one of my top five. So I was excited to see what else I could pick up. I saw what appeared to be several histories, like The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, and The History of the Siege of Lisbon. I figured Saramago had a boring side to him, but I should have known better. Apparently the former is a highly controversial book about the fictional retelling of the life of Jesus. It won him critical acclaim but also instant disapproval with the Roman Catholic Church (among others). But hey, cut the guy some slack. How many atheists do you know that would even give JC another thought?

And the latter is a book about “Raimundo Silva, assigned to correct a book entitled The History of the Siege of Lisbon by his publishing house. Silva decides to alter the meaning of a crucial sentence by inserting the word ‘not’ in the text, so that the book now claims that the Crusaders did not come to the aid of the Portuguese king in taking Lisbon from the Moors.” (thank you wikipedia).

What I like about Saramago is his out of the box, creative, and some would say, dangerous thinking. Each one of his books has some strange twist. If you really want to dig deep, you can talk about modern parables and allegories and whatever other literary devices people who KNOW throw out. But it’s simple for me. He’s interesting. You just have to get past his style…

Saramago has a thing about punctuation, especially commas and quotation marks. His characters engage in dialogue, but besides using a capital letter with each new speaker, he doesn’t differentiate between speakers. He also writes from a third person, narrative perspective. So I feel disconnected from the characters. But I have to say this book was loads easier to read than Death with Interruptions. I don’t think that’s because it’s actually written in an easier to read style, it’s because you can get used to Saramago’s style. And it was easier for my mind to adjust, having been conditioned by his first novel. I guess.

So on to the actual review…Blindness is about a country that is struck with a mysterious disease, only described as the white blindness, where (surprise surprise) people are instantly and seemingly randomly struck blind. Saramago begins with patient zero and those who shortly follow. The government decides to quarantine the blind and those who have been exposed to the blind. The first half of the book is about the quarantine. At first dozens, and then hundreds of people occupy a hospital, which is guarded by the military. Unable to organize, and with no one to guide them, the living conditions in the hospital degrade exponentially. To make matters worse, a group of internees withhold food from the rest of the wards. It’s almost like Lord of the Flies meets World War Z.

SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD…

The second half of the book involves the release of the quarantined after the sickness strikes the entire country. Here’s where comparisons to a zombie apocalypse really become evident. Saramago follows a small group from the hospital as they try to survive, looking for food, housing, and their families.

END SPOILER

It took me awhile to get into the book, probably because I was stumbling through it at first. But as I got used to the writing style, and the story developed, I became more interested.

In comparison to Death with Interruptions, I felt Blindness was a heavier book. Death with Interruptions, despite the subject matter, had a playful, light feel to it. Blindness, on the other hand, had a couple of disturbing scenes and emphasized the worst in humanity during the quarantine. But that’s part of what makes the book interesting. And without telling you the title of the next book (possible spoiler as well)…there is a short snippet from Saramago’s sequel to Blindness at the end.

So a solid recommend if you’re up to the challenge!

Check out The Blist to read more reviews by genericwhitegirl

Even Stevens’s #CBR4 Review #2: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

 

This is a review I’ve been putting off writing for a little while, mostly because I’m having trouble finding something substantial to say about this book. The Dead-Tossed Waves is the second book in a trilogy. For those who haven’t read the first book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, this trilogy takes place after a zombie infection has broken out. There are two types of zombies: the typical slow-moving, moaning, flesh-eating zombie and another kind called “breakers”; zombies that possess excessive strength and speed.

I had problems with Ryan’s first book, mostly that I found Mary to be cold and selfish and the rest of the characters to be underdeveloped. Thankfully, she has fixed some of these issues in the second book by making Mary’s daughter, Gabrielle the protagonist and giving us a new set of characters. She avoids some of the pitfalls that come with a middle book, mainly the feeling that the story is filler before the final chapter. Ryan builds stronger characters and introduces a new set of issues and also raises more questions about zombies. Do they retain souls? Can they be brought back from zombification? Is it a form of immortality? These were some questions that were explored in an interesting way and the story moved fastest when Ryan was addressing the zombie issues.

Where this story falls flat is with the character drama. Though the characters in this one have become more relatable and sympathetic, it still feels as though Ryan is manufacturing the human drama just for the sake of drama. Ryan is good at the little moments (passages where she describes a first kiss and a panicked dream come to mind), but it feels like she created a big picture story with bullet points and bends her characters to fit that mold, rather than letting the story flow naturally. She is also a big fan of the love triangle formula (present in both books, with two different sets of characters), which I find tiring.

On the whole, this book was better than the first installment and I will still check out the final installment to see how the story plays out, but if you want a really good zombie story, I suggest picking up World War Z.

Alexis’s #CBR4 Review #5: Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies Isaac MarionR is in love with Julie. However R is also a zombie. And the zombie thing is a pretty serious impediment relationship-wise.

I have a hard time mustering the enthusiasm to write much of a summary. R saves Julie. R loves Julie. R plays some dope records for Julie. R takes Julie home. Implausible things happen. The End.

Warm Bodies will appeal neither to lovers of zombie books or romance books. World War Z or Day by Day Armageddon are both fun zombie books (romance-free). Outlander and The Grand Sophie are both great romance books. If you’ve found yourself wondering how zombies spend their time when not eating brains then perhaps this will interest you.

Warm Bodies the MovieThey’re making it into a movie (our titular hero pictured here). However before you spend $15 on this movie you should get the book from the library and read the end. Because I suspect that the ending might leave you as cold as the non-beating heart of a zombie.

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