PositiveMediumI was drawn to the premise that involved something as quaint as involving switchboard operators and the setting of this period piece ... The setting of the dying days of an occupation enthralled me, and...it’s enjoyable to read of a much simpler time when bag boys carried your groceries for you to the car and gas station attendants filled your tank up ... However, as pleasurable as this debut may be, it does have its share of issues. For one, I wasn’t overly enamoured by the character of Vivian Dalton ... I would say that, even with some first novel jitterbugs, the end result is a little satisfying. Even though I’m probably not in the marketing demographic for this book — I would imagine that this is something my sixty-year-old-plus mother would enjoy reading due to the time setting ... It’s usually well written — though it was a bit tricky at the start of the read to keep characters straight...and I thought the author did an admirable job of making the setting feel real, even if a few factual details were deliberately miffed. To that end, if you like juicy gossip and peering into the lives of others, ,em>The Operator is a commendable read.
RaveMedium...a breathtaking, stellar read of non-fiction ... Talking to Strangers if it has a fault, is really all over the map. It is such a loose collection of writings that one has to wonder if the sole reason behind its publication has to do with the fact that Auster is writing another long novel and needed a stop-gap collection just to pay his mortgage ... Regardless of the reason, I devoured this book. I read it in the course of a couple of sittings, and was saddened when it was done ...This might not be the best starting point for the Auster neophyte...but for the dedicated reader of Auster’s work, this book is a bit of a marvel.
RavePop Matters... has a lot going on within its 300-plus pages, so much so that it feels like a book that is twice as long and one that is best read in tiny morsel sized bites to really appreciate and absorb the goings-on in the future America that Shteyngart paints as being on the brink of collapse ... depicts a world that is completely absurd and out of control, which brings a lot of dark humor into the story, yet seems to be true enough in a scary way that you have to wonder if this is the slippery slope the real world is headed down ... The novel is clearly influenced by the work of both William Gibson in its futuristic detail, and early Jonathan Lethem in its surreal zaniness. There’s also a bit of Russian literature to be found ... The novel’s only real flaw is that you never really get a sense for what our Romeo and Juliet see in each other, particularly from Eunice’s standpoint, because they tend to spend as much time arguing as they are kissing and making up ... The picture Shteyngart paints, for all of its science-fiction trappings, feels very real and frightening, and in some ways, the sensory overload of images and scenes from this very society threaten to topple the very simple love story that is being told throughout the novel ... this is the type of book that people will be reading 20 years from now just to see how closely the world turns out to Shteyngart’s warning shot.
MixedPopMatters\"I found the book to be quite daring in its reversal of female stereotypes, but I also worry that some readers may just attribute the characters’ overall cattiness to be very bitchy ... While the murder mystery and solving the whodunit makes up a large portion of Dare Me, it is probably the least satisfying angle of the book. Where the book works remarkably well is probing female power dynamics and the bonds of girlhood friendships, if not understanding modern womanhood in general ... So there’s a lot of really interesting, meaty stuff going on in Dare Me, and it pains me to note that the plot is wafer-thin and the characters are so brazenly male-like that they veer almost into caricature ... That all said, Dare Me is still engaging for offering a role reversal in gender relations.\
MixedMediumIf you were to put together a British-like romantic comedy with horror overtones together, the end result would be a book a little like The Bus on Thursday. Written in diary-like form as a series of blog posts, the book is about an Australian woman named Eleanor, a primary school teacher, who discovers a lump in one of her breasts ... The Bus on Thursday is a light farce. Yes, it is gooey and disturbing, but it’s also often really, really funny in a darkly comedic kind of way ... if you’re looking for a good, solid read, The Bus on Thursday will more than fit the bill. It isn’t brilliant, and it isn’t the very best book that you’ve read ever.
PositiveMedium\"The last third, in particular, feels like an extended advertisement for Tima’s new charitable foundation, which is the only slight knock against the book. However, this memoir deftly weaves its chronology together, giving Western readers an idea of what Kurdi’s family gave up — both positive and negative — in deciding to become refugees, how they struggled to make ends meet, and how they have the hint of hope that war will be over eventually, and some sense of normalcy will return to Syria ... The Boy on the Beach made me realize that systemic injustice prohibits them from meeting their basic needs — but that refugees also can be as resourceful as anyone else. So the book does make readers want to do something more for these hardworking people ... The book also works as a personal journey ... The Boy on the Beach should reawaken readers to the fact that the word refugee does not equate to the word terrorist, and, for that and other things, this book is — fortunately or unfortunately, you decide — necessary reading.
MixedMedium...misses the mark more than it hits it. Essentially, these retellings envision a dour reading of Ovid’s work ... I found that many of the stories read like fragments or shards, and didn’t really go anywhere. I thus found the longer stories to generally have more meat to them, though they, too, tend to drone on and on ... What’s particularly baffling is the inclusion of star charts at the beginning of each section. The book doesn’t do an adequate job of explaining what these constellations had to do with each other or the book as a whole ... Basically, Metamorphica is an interesting and curious piece of writing, but will probably speak to only a very select amount of people.
MixedMediumWhat do you do when you come across a collection of short stories where you can see the intrinsic worth in each piece, but the collection as a whole leaves you a little cold? ... reading this collection is like walking in on a movie that’s in its second reel and being forced to leave before the final one is unspooled. They don’t feel complete or whole. However, that all said, each story is impeccably well written and you can see why a large swath of them was picked up by literary magazines ...
Patterson comes off as a female version of Charles Bukowski ... most of these stories feel incomplete and are waiting for an additional 200 or 300 pages to get the juiciness wrung out of them. They feel more like postcards written from the edge, with little or no substance to them (other than the substance abuse angle). As such, the stories could read as poetry in a way— which shows that Patterson is, at least, a gifted writer ... [the] stories are in search of a much bigger canvas to be painted on. And that has me split in two.
PositiveMedium...you really have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit through this twisted and turny book, that’s probably best described as pulp fiction — since it’s written in a really gritty style ... That means that this is a gross out of a book, one that can be hard to read at times for the stomach churning details and the fact that the main protagonist is basically one sick little puppy ... Just don’t make the mistake of calling this literary fiction ... Overall, Find You in the Dark is a fun, yet disturbing, work. It really works its best when it dabbles in the police procedural side of things.
PositiveMedium...this is a deeply layered book ... Those who love brain puzzles will find much enjoyment in The Book of M, which is impeccably well-written ... Alas, the book eventually does not succeed in holding one’s interest because, at almost 500 pages, it is overlong and, by the mid-way point, things start getting sillier and sillier. Peng Shepherd, the book’s author (making her debut here), has a penchant for writing her characters into corners that are inescapable ... There are plot twists that you don’t see coming, but they, too, may make your eyeballs roll ... All in all, I found The Book of M to have a crackling good start, a ponderous mid-section and an unintentionally hilarious finale ... It is an entertaining book.
PositiveMedium\"As Pein writes, a lot of these startups get funded without anything in the way of an idea or business plan — if you have the marketing savvy, you, too, can get venture capital funding. He doesn’t really explain why, despite that, 95 percent of all startups fail. Or maybe that was just me in my reading, because this is a very dense book. There are actually two or three books waiting to break out of Live Work Work Work Die, so there’s a lot of ground to cover in a scant 300 pages ... Still, I did find Pein’s chapter on tech journalism to be illuminating ... Overall, I was fascinated and creeped out by the book. Pein doesn’t have much that is flattering to say about Silicon Valley or tech in general, so that can also make the book a difficult read. If you’re looking for fair and balanced journalism, you’re not really going to find it here. Instead, this is a screed about a guy (the author) who seems forlorn that his attempts to create a startup for the sole purpose of making a whole lot of money doesn’t go as planned. (Which is really the thrust of this volume.) The book might have been better if Pein was slightly more objective and didn’t institute a slash and burn policy. But maybe Live Work Work Work Die is what it is because it has to be — nobody is keeping tabs on tech generals who are out to supplant presidents and kings. To that end, the book is a must read for any young people interested in working in technology.\
PositiveMediumParis by the Book is, of course, a sopping love letter to the titular city ... It is also simply a crackling good tale — one that has its shares of tragedies and missed opportunities. Callanan tells the story from Leah’s perspective, and I would say that he nails the female voice ... Put it this way, if you’re looking for a great story, then look no further. But if you’re looking to go off the deep end with your fiction in terms of thematics, you might be well pleased by the quality of the book. I wouldn’t peg it quite as literary fiction, because there’s a breezy style to the writing ... a charming novel.
RaveFestival Peak\" ... this five-star book ... a book such as Twilight of the Gods is an addictive and important read ... Twilight of the Gods got me excited about rock music again. For that reason, it is damn indispensable. I should have read my advance reader copy much earlier.\
PositiveMediumOff the top, I’d like to say that McIlvain is a consummate crafter of words. Each word of his prose carries real weight, and it has the cadence of late period Jonathan Lethem. In fact, this book reminds me a bit of Lethem’s Dissident Gardens, just not set in the past and is not loaded to the gills with all sorts of philosophical references. Another trick that the author McIlvain employs is letting his characters speak in monologues. Now, a piece of writing advice given to young writers is to generally avoid monologues. However, McIlvain avoids any pitfalls associated with this device by doing it masterfully. His characters speak of past experiences in the same way that two friends might share a story at a coffee house in a social gathering. This creates a closeness between the reader and characters, as though the former is a fly on the wall in the latter’s (fictional) lives. So McIlvain is a prose stylist who knows what he’s doing. Sadly, though, as much as The Radicals is compulsively readable and effortlessly enjoyable, I do think that the moment for this novel is past ... The Radicals is hardly radical, but, in a pinch, it’s good to go?—?especially if you favour style over substance. While the material might be lacking in some respects, this is a dazzling work from an author worth paying some attention to. A masterwork may not be far behind. Stay tuned.
RaveMedium\"Well, I took a chance on Mark Sarvas’ Memento Park and I’m elated that I did ... In the end, this is a powerful meditation on the power of love, family bonds and romantic relationships ... Every good book should make you want to do something like this. This is one of them.\