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The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It
The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It
by Neal Bascomb
Edition: Audio CD
8 used & new from $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous tale of determination ! Highly inspiring for runners! Try the audio..., April 27, 2009
I am not a high consumer of audio books, but tried this one during my sunday long runs. It was a great source of motivation to endure some kind of fatigue and pain.

This book is a must for all competitive runners. I am far from being a good miler and found the story as inspiring for middle and long-distance runner than for sprinters and milers. The determination and courage of the 3 sub-4 minutes candidates, John Landy (Australia), Roger Bannister (UK) and Wes Santee (USA) are incredible. Each had to do with his own obstacles and challenges to lower the mile record closer to the 4 minute barrier.

The story tells about the Helsinki Olympics, the training regimen of each runner, their respective trainer and friends, the Vancouver Empire games and The Mile of the Century, with a few side anecdotes about the Everest first's climb, Jim Peters collapse in Vancouver and others. The tale is entertaining from the beginning to the end.

A lot of milestone races are very well described by the author and the narration is great if you go for the audio. Highly recommended !

The Long Walk
The Long Walk
by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.00
121 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic endurance tale set in a totaliratan USA, April 26, 2009
If you like King but find tedious spending long hours getting through his 800+ page titles, this short, quite enjoyable and dark tale is for you. I think this could obviously have been a "long" short story (if the guys would have been running instead of walking ;)), but King found a way to keep the story longer while interesting from the beginning to the end.

The plot ? simple, but efficient : in a walking contest set in a totalitarian future, 100 teenage boys must walk at a speed over 4 mph, if not they receive up to 3 warnings before...well you'll see. Most of the story is set around Ray Garraty and a dozen other walkers, mainly those walking close to him during different parts of the trip South from Main to Mass. where the walk usually ends.

King gives a lot of importance to the diminishing endurance of the walkers and their mental and physical battle to survive longer. And he does it well. The tale is dramatic and gives shivers.

A different King, short, dark and enjoyable, maybe not before sleeping...

Brother Odd (Odd Thomas Novels)
Brother Odd (Odd Thomas Novels)
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
305 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Half back on the track after Forever Odd. NOT BAD.....3.5 stars., August 6, 2008
Well... BROTHER ODD is not exactly what I was expecting from Koontz as a sequel to the awkward FOREVER ODD.

That's the problem with serie novels... often the first book is so great you feel like you could read a dozen similar plots, then the publisher pushes the author (Koontz of course!) to give a sequel quickly for marketing purposes...the sequel is a big deception...but is still a good a third volume must be published and fans are confident that it won't be a disaster this time.

BROTHER ODD is not a disaster. It is enjoyable and Odd Thomas remains authentic. It is a great improvement after the forced and weird FOREVER ODD... but nothing compared to the flowing storyline and simple SO ENJOYABLE plot of the first tome, ODD THOMAS. I am looking to read the 4th book of the series, ODD HOURS (yes, like many readers, I feel the need to follow ODD till the end), but I know it won't get much better.

I think the book could easily have been a short story without any important details missing. Koontz sometimes has a very bad tendency to fill pages with boring anecdotes and works too hard to repeat what worked in previous novels.

Salem's Lot, Illustrated Edition
Salem's Lot, Illustrated Edition
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from $2.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of King's best ! A great scary read with plenty of twists !!, June 20, 2008
This is the oldest work I have read so far by King (The Stand comes next). Most of his book I have read were written after 1986. I had heard plenty of times that his early work was much better than the new era, so I looked at the reviews and Salem's Lot looked pretty good.

I made a great pick! This is obviously one of King's best (certainly in the TOP 3 with The Stand). Salem's Lot main idea is fairly ready for vampires, a LOT of vampires. Don't like reading about vampires ?!? Me neither, I really don't care and never read about them... but the book intrigue is so well tighten around a huge cast of characters that you may forget that it's "just about vampires". The chapters alternate between the multiple characters (like for IT and THE STAND), most of which are interesting.

The first part of the book has a quite slow pace, but the building tension is so enjoyable and intense until the climax. The book quickly turns into a page-turner.

I got the illustrated edition from the library. It features a few nice pictures, a very interesting foreword by King and two short stories related to Salem's Lot (these were published in Night Shift). I don't think it is worth paying the extra for it, except if you are a die hard fan or collector.

A great read, really... a must for any King fan.

Duma Key: A Novel
Duma Key: A Novel
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
509 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best King of the last decade. A worthy read !, April 11, 2008
This review is from: Duma Key: A Novel (Hardcover)
This is definitely the first King I REALLY enjoyed since THE GREEN MILE in 1996. Lisey's Story, From A Buick 8, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, ... these had nothing to do with the GREAT WRITER I had known with THE STAND, IT and MISERY.

If you are part of those who had a hard time finishing Lisey's Story, don't throw away DUMA KEY! This is King back to the source, with the deepnest of his earlier writings and profound and enjoyable characters I had not seen (or read) in years.

I must admit you have to get ready for a long slow-paced read. But if you're familiar with King, you know that details in characters, places and emotions are part of his writing style and quality. King uses a great technique to give the writer a few pieces of informations each chapter and as you get toward the end everything settles up.

I found the last part of the book a bit weird but overall I really enjoyed the story. The first 400 pages are not filled with action, but I had no problem turning pages. The main character, Edgar Freemantle, is one the best created by King.

A great beach read if you are not superstitious ;)

No Country for Old Men (Vintage International)
No Country for Old Men (Vintage International)
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.95
374 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story and characters....weird writing., March 27, 2008
I saw the movie before even knowing it was inspired by this book. I loved the movie so I ran for the book!

The story told in the book is a great modern western-style tale very different from most fiction books I have read before. The main vilain is such a horrific character (like in the movie). The main idea of McCarthy's plot is simple but he develops it in a very efficient way.

I must admit I found the Sheriff's philosophic thoughts a bit long compared to the story. The main action between the hero and vilain could have been developed a bit more. Finally, the writing style is weird and often annoying (missing quotation marks to identify dialogue, weird sentences and punctuation...).

Occasionnal readers => the book is pretty short and easy to read compared to the average fiction book.

Anyway, 5 stars for the main story and 3 for the writing ;)

A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.47
1731 used & new from $0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant story, profound characters and marvelous writing, March 24, 2008
I was so astonished after reading THE KITE RUNNER. I had no expectations before reading the author's first novel so I was greatly surprised and marveled by the quality and deepness of both the story and characters.

Then I ran to the library for A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS and I was once more taken away by a poignant story of love, family and friendship. The story takes place in Afghanistan and covers 40 years of history (as in The KR). The main characters are two women from two generations. War, religion and faith make their life a common path filled with love, violence, terror and sacrifice. They have to fight under the Taliban reign to live and save children they love.

I just don't understand how people can give one star to such a great story. Alright, you may not love it but I can't believe nothing reaches you in this book.

For those asking which book is the best... hard to tell as both are great novels. I think I preferred THE KITE RUNNER. I think most women will prefer A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. Anyway, read both! They are worth every penny spent on them !!

If Hosseini's future books are to be of similar quality, he will surely be among my favorite authors.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
by Jared Diamond
Edition: Paperback
65 used & new from $0.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and well documented. A GREAT READ!!!, March 23, 2008
I really enjoyed reading this book. I must admit I mostly read fiction, so I cannot compare this book to other writings, but I found the book well-written and easy to understand.

The author gives a bunch of examples to illustrate and justify his arguments and tells us dozens of stories to complement his ideas. The book is quite long but I rarely got bored while reading it. There is always an interesting detail to focus on and keep turning pages.

The books covers different past and present societies as examples to illustrate various factors influencing a tendency for a society to collapse. Easter Island, Vikings, Rwanda (genocide), Dominican Republic and Haiti and Polynesian Islands are among them.

I found the last part of the book a bit less convincing and harder to follow. The author describes his concerns about mines, forests, fishing,... and some parts seem endless.

Anyway, most of the book is great and I think everyone should have a look at it.

Forever Odd: A Novel
Forever Odd: A Novel
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Hardcover
33 used & new from $2.23

2.0 out of 5 stars Definitely read ODD THOMAS first ! ! !, March 23, 2008
This review is from: Forever Odd: A Novel (Hardcover)
I never thought it possible for me to give a 2-star rating to a Koontz novel. It sounds weird but I loved the first book of the series, ODD THOMAS, and gave it a 5-star rating without hesitating ! For at least 3 reasons, YOU REALLY SHOULD read the first book before even thinking about FOREVER ODD :

1- Forever odd contains dozens of spoilers from the first OT book. Anyway, if you have to read one book from the series, the first one is definitely the best.

2- This sequel doesn't present the series characters at their best. They are less credible and profound. The writing is floppy and much less rigourous than the average Koontz. After reading Forever Odd, you may not want to read a Odd Thomas book again. If you have read the first book, you may forget about this one and give a try to the third and upcoming fouth books.

3- The book contains a few important elements (descriptions, events) required to understand the story correctly. The book is not that good, so if you haven't read the first tome, you won't even appreciate the few "good" parts of the plot.

The main vilain is not credible and the ghosts featured in the story are less important and interesting. Odd Thomas is still a great character, but was funnier, smarter and more entertaining in the first book. Still, he is the one who raised my rating to 2 stars (alright, maybe 2 1/2).

Overall, not a real bad book, but not a masterpiece. Entertaining, easy to read, nothing more. The ratings for the third book, BROTHER ODD, seem much better. I will have a look at it because I really enjoyed ODD THOMAS.

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road
Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road
by Neil Peart
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.66
150 used & new from $3.62

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing but unequal quality between chapters, February 26, 2008
I love Rush and traveling. I appreciate Neil Peart but my main interest in reading his book was his long journey across North America. Of course, I had some concern about the horrible family losses he had to deal with (both his wife and unique daughter died within a year!!)

I really appreciated the way Peart introduced this context and how he managed to deal with his grief while traveling and writing. He his a pretty good writer, that is obvious. The first half of the book is very interesting for people interested in the "traveling" part. Peart gives us a good description of his journey and introduces the reader to great places to visit in North America. I really enjoyed this part of the book.

After 200 pages or so, Peart begins to tell his story through letters, most of them to his friend in jail. He returns to his home for a few months before returning on the road. While at home, he writes dozens of letters to his friend and other people, mostly telling about his evolution in grieving. I understand Peart's intention but I was a bit bored by this part. You may prefer the middle part of the book of you are looking mostly for the "grieving" part.

About 2/3 toward the end, Peart returns on the road, but from there his journey is badly told (not that bad but the first part is really better), skipping more and more parts of his trip. At the end I was getting so bored about his letters, I wanted to skip a few to get to a more interesting part... or even to the end.

Overall, a good book, but oviously most readers will love and hate some parts of it.

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