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Gone Girl
Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.66
818 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally unexpected ending, March 29, 2013
This review is from: Gone Girl (Hardcover)
Wow. I mean, WOW! What a book! A person must be truly brilliant to come up with a plot like this. It's that great, it really is. It grabs you right from the start with catchy opening sentences and keeps going this way to the very end. Contrary to some opinions I encountered that the book had a pretty slow-paced first half (to be made up for by the roller coaster of a second half), I personally found this book to be thoroughly compelling throughout. And it reads like it was written to be filmed, I can easily see this book turned into a very successful movie.

I'm not going to give any detail about the plot itself, because everything is so interconnected that there's no way I can reveal a little without revealing too much and totally ruining this book for other readers. So I'm only going to say that, come to think about it, it's quite sick in the message that it conveys. It represents such a twisted and unhealthy vision of marriage that, in a normal world, it would totally extricate the desire for commitment from people. But we don't live in a normal world, and I know there are a lot of crappy marriages out there... So we get to have this story, and it's so well written that you actually stop minding all the despicable things it talks about. The things spouses (in this book, Amy and Nick) would do to each other, the amount of information they'd withhold from each other, the ends a person is willing to go to out of unhappiness...

About the characters. At first I found both Amy and Nick to be pretty cool. Fun, interesting, sweet. I liked them both, in a different way--in the beginning. But then there's this thing: you don't get the whole picture in the beginning. The author is feeding us one little bite of information at a time, and somewhere along the book I already was pretty much hating both with the same energy that I loved them in the beginning. The first part of the book took its time to introduce and somewhat develop the characters, and perhaps for that reason some readers found those first chapters to be rather slow. I personally found them quite entertaining, I was constantly wondering and replaying possible scenarios in my mind. But by the middle of the book, once the readers are already served the full pile of nastiness, you no longer wonder: you know. The outcome was still anything but clear, and it remained this way until the very last page, but you no longer get to like the characters, they have grown that unpleasant. By that time, however, the action is moving on so quickly, that one would hardly focus on the characters; it took some will power for me not to skim through pages just so I could reach the end and finally figure out what would happen. Flynn really does know how to keep her audience intrigued.

What disappointed me in this book was the ending. I was going to rate it 5 stars, I really was. But the ending the author chose came so unexpected, it went against all my personal ideas justice in fiction :)I was left wondering if the author perhaps had several different versions of that ending and only chose this one spontaneously at the end. I don't know. But I did feel Gillian Flynn kept her "finale" options open. Throughout the narrative, she left little venues here and there, little stories she spent suspiciously good amount of time on, so I was kind of expecting them to turn up towards the end to assist the novel's "grand finale". They didn't, and I felt a little cheated by my expectations. I was, really was, hoping for some sort of a happy ending, if such was even possible with such a plot. So, my personal craving for justice wasn't satisfied. Or maybe--just maybe--there might be a sequel? It certainly leaves you wondering.


Unspoken Abandonment
Unspoken Abandonment

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly inspirational!, March 19, 2013
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Unspoken Abandonment tells a story so typical--a story that any soldier might have told--and yet so very personal and unique that by the end of the book I felt I've known author Bryan Wood forever. War has this way of depersonalizing its victims, both civilian and military; we are so used to hearing about it in terms of numbers and dry statistics that we often fail to realize how many anonymous lives have been shattered to serve purposes that at best can be called unclear.

Bryan Wood's writing is lucid and easy to follow, his story--straight-forward and bearing an immense emotional charge. He has managed to brilliantly recount both the horrors of war and the uncertainties awaiting veterans back home. He writes about survival and coping, rebuilding life from scratch, finding strength and hope again. In this sense, Unspoken Abandonment is truly inspirational. It also raises quite a few moral issues, so it's much more than one person's account of his war experience. This book had a special appeal to me because someone I know was deployed to Iraq--apart from my personal bias, though, it is a really worthy read and I heartily recommend it.


The Judas Strain: A Sigma Force Novel
The Judas Strain: A Sigma Force Novel
by James Rollins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
210 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointed, June 2, 2009
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I typically enjoy the works of Mr. Rollins, although most of the times I find them a little too far-stretched. This one is no exception to the rule; however, I did find it a tad too shallow and way too naturalistic to my taste.

We have to give Rollins credit for his tremendous imagination. He comes up with ideas, plots and developments that keep surprising me even after having read all his previous works. Every time the basic plot is intruiging, and so is the Marco Polo trail in this book. He taps into the story well, intertwines history and science in a fascinating way, and builds a present-day situation so complicated and multi-faceted, that it could bewilder even an experienced Rollins reader. Rollins is an author who does his homework well, his works are based on actual facts following a thorough research; that's why his ideas are so shockingly plausible. And, once again, after finishing the book, I'm curious to find out more. Especially in view of all the pandemic threats that have been raised over the past decade, I must admit that The Judas Strain did give me the chills...

However, I was also disappointed by the shallow and brutal characters featured in this book. Neither the good, nor the bad guys were well-developed and realistic. I hated the brutal and naturalistic descriptions of torture, and was repelled by the sadistic women (employed, perhaps, to make the plot colorful and spicy) in this book. I felt it was a bad move. I was also disappointed by Painter's role (or lack of)... All in all, the book was mostly action and no real characters, even Gray has somewhat faded in this book, lost his edge. Some may think that makes him more human, but I personally found it quite corny. On the positive side, I liked Seichan... She was a something fresh and different, and her role never quite fully understood. And, I kept feeling intimidated by the ability of the characters to put things together and fit a puzzle... But then again, it all comes down to the scope of the author's imagination.

All in all, not a bad book, but not Rollins's best, in my opinion. I would still recommend it to anyone who likes fast-paced and action-driven disaster fiction; it's got some interesting ideas in it, and would definitely make a nice vacation read. It's a page turner, alright, but don't expect to be left with any significant insights after you've finished reading it.


Black Order: A Sigma Force Novel
Black Order: A Sigma Force Novel
by James Rollins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
219 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, July 30, 2008
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This is by far the best James Rollins book I've read so far. Demonstrating his impressive scope of vision and imagintion, he pulls together science, history and the occult into a plot that grabs you and holds you tight until the last page.

While I found some other books by this author quite readable but still sadly shallow and lacking feasibility, "Black Order" has no such flaw. The opening of the book takes place in post World War II Germany, which I think will hook many European readers as myself to the story. But the way Rollins intertwines these infamous events in European history with ancient lore, science and technology into a wild "super human" project orchestrated by a modern day "mad scientist" is awesome and raises an almost unbeatable challenge to the reader. The knot of this mystery stays tight throughout the book and only begins to loosen towards the end. So I simply have to give Rollins credit for that. I enjoyed the scientific background as well as the bits of Norse lore and mythology thrown here and there. Some of the conclusions he makes are a little far-fetched for my taste, but after all, this is a work of fiction, so I guess it's quite alright.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book. It is a great example of suspence literature that puts one's mind to work from the very first page and keeps it busy to the end. You can't go through the book without a decent amount of thinking in order to put all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. Best of all, a significant amount of the information the book is based on is TRUE--which comes to show--as the author has repeatedly stated--that indeed "truth is often stranger than fiction." I do intend to follow up on the recommended readings because I really find some of the questions raised in "Black Order" worth exploring. This is a great read, and I hope Rollins keeps up the good work!


The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.99
819 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment, May 12, 2008
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This review is from: The Da Vinci Code (Paperback)
Perhaps because I was already well acquainted with the scandalous issues raised in this book due to its wide publicity, I did not find it in the least as breathtaking as I had anticipated. It does raise some controversial topics and elaborates on others that have already been voiced, and is, of course, a very welcome breakthrough for all conspiracy lovers out there. Whether it is mere fiction or a legitimate alternative view on the issue of the Holy Grail, I don't really care. An enjoyable read for me, but that's about it. The action could not grab or fascinate me, the characters were a bit shallow and predictable, and all in all, the book was a little too superficial to my taste. It does have some intriguing descriptions, links and associations, and one can easily see that Brown has done his research well, which made me feel like a complete profane on the topic. The biggest merit of the book is that it makes you reassess critically most preconceptions that are taken for granted in today's society. History, after all, has always been a matter of view point. In terms of literary merit, I must say I enjoyed "Angels and Demons" a lot more. I give this one three stars for the interesting plot, but other than that, it was a little of a disappointment for me.


A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.83
507 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They Keep Coming!, September 28, 2003
Martin did it again! In this third installment of what has turned out to be the greatest fantasy work of our times, he continues the dynamic and captivating tale of the wars in the Seven Kingdoms, and in doing so creates yet another masterpiece to the pleasant surprise to his audience.
I will be honest: it was hard to believe in the beginning that such a voluminous work as The Song of Ice and Fire can keep fascinating its readers at all times: it was only natural that it will have its peaks and downfalls. Martin, however, has exceeded all expectations in creating his saga: from the tiniest details and the most intricate twists to the greatest plot sets, he keeps creating this wonderfully believable world with the precise calculation of a genius. The depth and scope of his imagination and literary mind seem unfathomable. But then, maybe this is the reason why each installment takes so long to produce-to ensure that each detail is well placed and all actions are perfectly timed.
In this third part of the beloved saga, the number of contenders for power has actually dwindled, but the war and bloodshed go on as alliances are made and broken. In the mix of loyalty and betrayal, love and hatred, cruelty and mercy, too many good characters die-in this respect A Storm of Swords surpasses the first and second parts. Martin kills off good and bad guys with an equally steady hand as serves the purpose of his grand plot, and thus creates more complications and seemingly no-way-out situations, just to offer the most unexpected solution a couple of chapters or a few hundred pages later. More than once have I put the book down in dismay, not quite used to having some of my favorite characters killed in impossibly graphic scenes or, in other cases, with as much as line to describe their demise, and then seeing how the author continues his narrative as if nothing has happened and throws you back in the whirlpool of action. Winter is coming, and you can almost feel the chill coming from the pages. Strange and inexplicable things happen, unexpected and sudden twists of plot make you gape with surprise, and the intense narrative makes you hold your breath as suspense builds up. Magic has now returned to the Seven Kingdoms-magic believed to be long dead-and the prospect of it is more dire than positive. It's not necessarily a conventional type of magic with wizards and spells, but more of a mystical magic out of legends, with dragons and black sorcery, living dead, and clashes between powerful gods (a little spoiler: as some of you may have already guessed, the power of old gods does gradually return). The political element is stronger than ever, and the moral dilemmas and questionable actions of some of the characters further complicate the plot. The inter-personal relations and feelings of the characters are just as important as in the previous parts, which brings about a marvelously realistic reading, despite its fantasy setting. Sex scenes, on the other hand, are even more abundant and graphic than before. In addition, the book offers some great action and battle scenes, which, if filmed, will surely challenge those in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
This is indeed an awesome book, and if you haven't yet read it, then most likely you haven't started the series at all: otherwise, you would be desperately hooked. My advice is hurry up to the nearest bookstore and pick all three published books of the saga right now. For those like me who are now anxiously awaiting the next installment-it will be a lo-o-ong wait until June 2004 to finally get A Feast for Crows. Rarely have I read a series so addictive and so utterly irresistible, and at the same time so unpredictable and inexorably real. Martin is the literary genius of modern fantasy; of this I have no doubt.


A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.98
417 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A World Beyond Imagination, September 18, 2003
The second part of George R. R. Martin's saga, _A Clash of Kings_ is an astounding continuation of _A Game of Thrones_ but also a breath-taking literary masterpiece of its own. Before approaching it, though, you would do well to read the first book: although I have to give Martin credit for giving brief explanations in the beginning that would account for some of the characters and action in the second part, it's impossible to grasp _A Clash of Kings_ in all its magnitude without having read the first part of the saga beforehand.
A boy kings sits in the Iron Throne surrounded by a cohort of Lannisters trying to preserve his feeble reign over a kingdom thorn by wars and bloodshed. With two Baratheon brothers questioning his right, the Stark heir ruling the North in the name of its people and a turn-cloak prince fighting for yet another king's claim, the Seven Kingdoms are bleeding worse than ever: death and plunder, atrocities and suffering, and approaching winter threatening to last a generation, coming with its own dangers and unspoken horrors. Black sorcery and out-of-legend cold creatures emerge to devour the realm of men, while a young girl, the mistress of the last living dragons in the world, makes her way through blood and fire to reclaim her father's throne. The blood-red comet that shone in the sky and drew ominous predictions was left unheeded; the terrors it warned of are free to loom over the realm of men.
The book starts with a riveting prologue that throws the reader in a new dimension, more mystic than one would have suspected. The rest of the book lives up to the promise of the first pages. Graphic, realistic, convincing in more ways than one, it reaches out of the pages, grabs your brains and squeezes tightly...and you're hooked. Page after page, you will most likely complete the entire thing (which, be warned, approximates 1000 pages) in a heartbeat. It presents a series of betrayals and unexpected friendships, and a world where the closest of allies could turn against you, and the seemingly vilest become your friends. More kings and more violence than a kingdom can bear, and way more dynamism than you've ever seen in a fantasy book. Martin is a master of details-compelling, overpowering details-when he needs to, but he also shrewdly changes the speed of narration to build up suspense. He also continues the successful practice to tell his narrative from the points of view of those characters that survived in _A Game of Thrones_, and adds a few new ones, that come as a pleasant and refreshing surprise, and come to play essential roles in the plot. True to his promise in the first part, Martin continues to build understandable and very human characters that you can feel with and relate to.
The complexity of the book is sometimes impossible to grasp, and I cannot begin to think what sort of suprahumanly imagination Martin must have to create it. Magic, one of the most important elements of the fantasy genre that seemed to lack in the first part, is now returning to the Seven Kingdoms, with dragons coming back to life and also mystic sorcery that accounts for a few of the numerous shockingly unanticipated twists in the plot. This renders _A Clash of Kings_ more than a mere tale of medieval tradition. Although, to be sure, the political element is overwhelmingly present, and shrewd and unexpected moves give the reader further delight at this wonderful work. An absolutely thrilling masterpiece and a great continuation to what promises to be the greatest phenomenon in the genre after The Lord of the Rings. Five stars to this one without the slightest hesitation!!!


A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $9.98
550 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!!, August 20, 2003
This is probably the best fantasy work I've read after Tolkien. It's a real page-turner, whose enchanting setting, rich characters and complex plot structures construct a powerful and intense reading you just can't put away until you've read every single word of it.
Martin creates a world utterly believable with characters so complex and yet so understandable, so the audience can easily relate to them. The unusual structure the author has chosen only enhances the complexity and increases the appeal of the book. With each chapter being told from a different point of view, the reader is given an opportunity to explore the main characters and reach into their deepest feelings, thoughts, desires, the goals they have and the decisions they make.
The imaginary world is masterfully developed, with magic and magical creatures being alloted just the right amount of space to keep the flame of anxiety burning. Yet, it is the characters and their actions that account for most of the suspence in this book. In an complex blend of mystery, plots and counterplots, passions and cruelty, honor and betrayal, battles and intrugues, the fates of three noble families are intricately interwooven and the prospects are utterly bleak. A deeply compelling and extremely readable work, _A Game of Thrones_ will most likely leave you confused, perhaps because it doens't have the convenitonal ending. In fact, it doesn't seem to have an ending at all, only an open epic struggle against everythung and everybody. I can't promise you'll like this book; what I can promise, though, is that it'll leave you with an avalanche of powerful emotions. You can love, hate, cry or reason with the characters, be devastated, disappointed and secretly gloat, but one thing is sure: you will not be left indifferent. I will definitely, definitely read the sequels. Great work!


Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1)
Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1)
by Stephen R. Donaldson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
206 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Example of Psychological Fantasy, August 7, 2003
A great example of psychological fantasy illustrating the effects of disease, isolation and social ostracism in a marvelously depicted character-focused fantasy novel. The main character, Thomas Covenant, is the pivotal figure of the plot. Initially, he has it all: a happy marriage and a loving family, a successful writing career, and the confidence he had his life in his hands, until he is diagnosed with leprosy. Scared of the disease, his wife takes his son away and divorces him; society shuns him and doctors draw gloomy pictures of his new life. Left alone and forced to live the disillusioned and rigid life of an outcast, he makes it the sole purpose of his life to survive, thus refusing to believe and hope for a better life. Thus, when magically transformed into The Land, a fantasy world where everything is ultimately good and yields immense healing powers, Covenant discards it as a wicked trick of his mind and engages in all sorts of questionable actions that build a character we can understand, even if we don�t like him.
Covenant�s wedding band, a ring of white gold is perceived by the locals to have extraordinary powers, and he himself is believed to be the reincarnation of a mythical hero who came back to save them from the imminent threat of evil devouring the world, embodied by the omnipresent Lord Foul, a wicked but powerful representation of Satan. Covenant thus finds himself caught in a battle he does not understand, but in which he is rendered a reluctant hero. The stubborn perseverance, with which he keeps denying life, his internal struggles, the deep sense of guilt and responsibility coupled with his survival instinct, provide a detailed account of the emotional and psychological state of a social outcast and build a moving story of a man who struggles to preserve what he considers to be his only sound part�his sanity.
Overall, the book is a profoundly engaging reading. The only shortcoming that I see are the long descriptive paragraphs that sometimes tended to get on my nerves, and this is what made me give this book four stars. The author is sometimes straying into unnecessary detail, while in general the setting required to describe Covenant�s emotional struggles is only sketchy. Yet, despite being somewhat overloaded, the setting is of significant importance to the overall effect of the book exactly because it is so absurd. In an ordinary setting the novel would probably fail to support an entirely psychological reading, but in Donaldson�s imaginary world it turns into a great fantasy work that bears enormous significance�educational, moral, and social. I would recommend it to anybody who has interest in the fantasy genre. Give it a try and the time to understand it�it�s well worth it and you certainly won�t be disappointed.


The Grooves of Change: Eastern Europe at the Turn of the Millennium
The Grooves of Change: Eastern Europe at the Turn of the Millennium
by J. F. Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.95
48 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Book by a Fine Man and an Excellent Teacher, January 7, 2002
Running the risk of repeating myself, I will once again restate the title of my review and describe "Grooves of Change" as a uniquely fine book written by a fine man and an excellent teacher. I had the pleasure of taking two courses with J. F. Brown at the American University in Bulgaria last fall, both of which were more or less based on the material covered in the book. It presents a substantial and thorough analysis of the dynamics currently in process in Eastern Europe; written in a lucid and easy to comprehend wording, this masterpiece of post-Soviet East-European studies is also the most readable work on this region that I have so far encountered.
The bulk of the book is focused on the 20th century developments in Eastern Europe after the breakup of the Habsburg and the Ottoman Empires. Carefully assessing all factors playing part in the political and socio-economic processes in the region, and following them closely but without lapsing into too much boring detail, Brown has managed to determine the exact balance between factology and analysis to make "Grooves of Change" both a pleasant and an educational reading.
An interesting concept is developed in the section of the book devoted to the relations of Eastern Europe with the Soviet Union in the aftermath of WW II. Analyzing Communist rule in the region and reflecting on the reasons for the ultimate failure of Kremlin to establish effective and lasting domestic regimes, Brown develops the concept of "cohesion and viability" as teh two Soviet objectives in the region. For him, the reason underlying the ousting of Communist governments in Eastern Europe was grounded in the failure of the Soviet leaders to find the exact balance between these two while trying to come up with a consistent East European policy.
The book also gives the readers a close look into the development of democracy in the region, discussing the obstacles and impediments hindering its progress, its interrelation with the globalizing forces on the one hand, and the omnipresent ethnic factor on the other as a major challenge to its survival. An instructive discussion of the Yugoslav wars as an indicator that something was obviously going wrong with the transition in the region adds to the value of the book. The minority issue is given due significance and a coverage that it rightfully deserves. In view of the latest bloody conflicts that have taken place subsequent to the fall of Communism, it is indeed high time that people start heeding these issues. Thus, I find it admirable that authors like J.F.Brown have devoted their professional careers to untangling these complicated matters.
To make the long story short: I personally enjoyed every page of this masterfully written peice. Read it yourself; it will in all probability profoundly impact your understanding of the regional processes and dinamics. Such an understanding will be vital for the future not only of the region per se, but also for its intercation with the rest of the world.


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