05 November 2013

Divergent ~ Veronica Roth


My divergent opinion : YUK 
Trite and contrived (whoops, you can only belong to one group) 

OK, so "divergent" means "departing from stereotypes" and the premise was that heroine didn't fit any of the stereotyped groups offered to her.  Sounds fine but the execution was ridiculous.  What could have been deep-and-meaningful was trite and contrived.

There seems to be a sly dig at intellectuals (who, of couse, must wear glasses), and hippy/pollyanna types who like to grow things, and pallid grey self depreciating do-gooders, and honestly, I can't remember the other loser group!  (Oh!  Just checked, they were the cannot-tell-a-lie group.  Honestly!) Not that they matter much because it rocks to be a tough guy, where brave equates to stupid-but-awesome.  

Character development was well nuanced.  No, sorry! says a member of Candor (honesty).

The book shows the tribulations of coming-of-age. No it doesn't, says a member of Erudite (knowledgeable).

This book might be just what you are looking for.  Ooo, yes, says a member of Amity, sipping on green tea (peaceful).

Have my copy. Please do, says a member from Abnegation (selflessness), and please take parts 2 and 3!

But someone from Dauntless doesn't need an opinion,  just a knife or a gun or a bit of hand-to-hand combat will resolve any differences of opinion.

04 November 2013

Girt ~ David Hunt

 The Unauthorised History of Australia

 **** RECOMMEND ****

Cheeky early Australian history, 
Warts and all (especially the warts!)

The author at times tried a little too hard to do a Brysonesque (Bill) look at early Australian history.  There were some points that rubbed (endless footnotes), humour that missed the mark, broadbrush generalisations,  and some rambles that seemed disjointed.

But, that being said, it is about time we had some Australian larrikin getting into print and telling our history with such wonderful irreverence.  This history has a sense of the ridiculous, a wry poke at political correctness, a satirical slant to conventional history.  And it is still a mine of trivial but true information.  While it is about early British settlement in Australia, there is plenty about world exploration, major historical figures and society of the time to give it wider appeal than just an Oz audience.

Bring on Part 2!

Caution : Avoid reading in public unless you like drawing attention to yourself.  You will tend to laugh out loud!

03 November 2013

A Feast For Crows ~ George R Martin

 *** LIKE ***

Game Of Thrones - Book 4

So much about not much
It was a slog but had to be done!

Whoa!  Did this go on forever!  Good things happen, bad things happen, not much happens.  We are given a lot of background information but, rather than broad scope, this installment of GoT concentrates on Cercei, Brienne and Jamie with just a little of Sam, Sansa and Ayra thrown in to season the plot.

It is definitely worth the read because it is part-of-the-whole but that didn't always make it easy to swallow.  In some ways it was like the need to clean up your dinner plate so that you can have dessert!  Bring on the pudding!  Book 5 next!

02 November 2013

A Cook's Tour ~ Anthony Bourdain

In Search of the Perfect Meal

*** LIKE ***

Some reservations
A less than perfect meal

Watching "No Reservations" it all seems so unscripted, so shoot from the hip, so take it as it comes.  And I love that.  It is the world of the traveller. But that is my problem with this book ... I have seen the TV series and this is just a write up of the events so the spontaneity was missing.  

Maybe if I had read this first ... If only I had read this first ...

I loved Kitchen Confidential - laughed till my eyes watered, salivated over the food, thought it should be the book in the hand of every would-be apprentice chef.  A Cook's Tour contained humour (though not as barbed or insightful), travel, food, - all the right ingredients - but it didn't engage me.  It was a little bit of a jumble with some chapters better than others.  But it all felt more contrived in provoking reader (or viewer) reaction.

01 November 2013

One Summer : America, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson

** OK **

Regurgitated research
Short on humour, long on history

The part of me that loves trivia and loves history would probably give this 3 stars.  But those aspects of it were overwhelmed by the lack of a good laugh and the dominant themes in the book.

I do not want to know one more trivial (boring endless minute) detail about trans Atlantic air flight or (run-screaming-from-the-room) baseball. I think I know just about every less-than-fascinating detail about Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth.  Even the few other topics that were covered in detail didn't gain my interest (even Bryson made it seem like Calvin Coolidge was the most boring President ever).  

Luckily, along the way, there was enough general trivial detail to keep me reading (from Henry Ford's eccentricities to hot dogs).  Missing was the wonderful fun that is injected into his other works that I love.  Maybe he is a baseball & aviation nut and it was a chance for him to indulge ... I just didn't want to go along for the flight.