Category Archives: Books

Those Disappointing Reads

Reading is a delight.  It opens up worlds and concepts, ideals and philosophies, cultures and culture.  But there are those times when a book falls flat.  Those times are especially hard when the book’s reputation for greatness precedes it.  You hear things about it that pique your interest and you launch into the book with anticipation of a great and satisfying read.  But alas, there was no hook.  Sometimes it isn’t necessarily that the book is bad.  The book just isn’t to your taste.  It was like anticipating a great steak dinner and having chicken masala placed in front of you.  The chicken may be well prepared but it sure as hell isn’t a thick, juicy steak. Continue reading

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To Be or Not To Be Therefore To Be…Or Not – Thoughts on The Human Condition by Thomas Keating

On the surface Thomas Keating’s The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation has the appearance of being a thought provoking book.  It is in fact two lectures he gave at The Divinity School at Harvard University.  The problem is Keating brings nothing new to the table and what he brings is a bit of a deception.  Continue reading

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Creature Triple Feature; Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life

I have now finished reading the third volume of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy titled The Book of Life.

First I would recommend to those just now jumping in at the beginning to start with volume one and read the trilogy straight through.  It is not a novel with two sequels.  It is one continuing story.  I had read the first two entries last year.  Coming to part three this much later was a little difficult.  I spent a significant amount of time in the first few chapters saying, “Who is Baldwin?  Who is Fernando?  Remind why there is a tree growing in the fireplace? “

Overall I would grant this trilogy the accolade of a very entertaining romp.  Although it revolves around the exploits of vampires, witches and daemons Continue reading

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Thomas Merton: A companion for the solitary walk

Merton is deep.  I knew this going into this volume.  I’ve read other works by Merton and I have encountered just how high my waders need to be.  I think that is what draws me to his writing.  He forces me to think and does so without tossing in scholarly rhetoric and all those words and catch phrases that so many Catholic theologians seem to be enamored with.  Merton makes me think using average, everyday language.  When reading Merton I don’t have to stop and consider if I have the proper understanding of a school of thought that has been referenced, or if I have the proper definition of some esoteric word rarely seen outside the works of theological tomes.  Continue reading

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Witches and Daemons and Vampires, Oh My!: The Journey of 100 Books Continues

Having failed at choosing a satisfying Halloween read  with Something Wicked This Way Comes I am taking up another gauntlet.  The next book to read is The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, book three (and final entry) in her All Souls Trilogy. With only a couple of days to go before Halloween and the thickness of this book I will probably finish it around Thanksgiving but so be it.

The first two books (read back to back prior to the Journey of 100 Books) were an entertaining romp.  Set in a world where there are four species of intelligent life (Vampires, Witches, Daemons, and Humans) (levels of intelligence ranking vary depending on character but all agree Humans are the lowest on the ladder) we have a reluctant witch in peril because she has seen a grimoire that is coveted by the entire witch population.  Now many believe that since she has seen it she must be in possession of it and they want it even if it means killing her to get it.  Her life now in peril she is finding protection in the company of a dashing vampire with an impeccable taste in wine and more degrees than a thermometer.  Of course they fall in love, get married, that whole bit (his mother is so unimpressed).  Peril increases with each turned page.  We time travel.  We cast spells.  We suck blood.  The daemons, who are basically creative geniuses, so far seem to be around just to keep everything interesting.  The humans just seem to get in the way and gum up the works.

When I left them all at the end of book two our heroine and her be-fanged husband/protector had just arrived back in the current century after having visited the court of Queen Elizabeth I.  (You just wouldn’t believe who Walter Raleigh and Christopher Marlowe really were.  I never would have guessed).  The whole witch/vampire/deamon world is after the grimoire too so those who aren’t for them are truly against them.  The humans?  They don’t even know something is going on. It’s a race against time, several times.  Who will win?  Will our heroine find the book before all the others?  And if she does will she be able to use it for good before others use it for evil?

I’ll let you know.

©2014 M. Romeo LaFlamme

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Something Wicked Came and Went (here there be spoilers)

I haven’t done any research on Ray Bradbury and his intentions in writing Something Wicked This Way Comes so I am going to fly here on my own personal impressions; something I believe is the point of reading anyway.  After all it is rare that two readers see exactly the same things in any one book.

In Something Wicked This Way Comes the lives of two pre-teen boys, as well as a small handful of adult townsfolk, are turned upside down when a strange carnival arrives in town late one night while the town slumbers.  There is no surprise that there is something shady about this carnival, and not shady in a conman sort of way.  This carnival is shady in a purely malevolent fashion. Continue reading

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Abandoning Homeplace

56% of the way through Anne Rivers Siddons’ Homeplace I realized that I really don’t care what happens to any of these characters anymore.  I found I was not convinced of their motivations for doing what they did, I was not in sympathy with their flaws and foibles, and I just plain didn’t like any of them.  I wasn’t even given those characters you love to hate, I just didn’t give a flip about these people and whether they lived or died.

The book started out well.  In fact it was very similar in style and plot to another Siddons book I thoroughly enjoyed, Heartbreak Hotel.  The two heroines were very similar.  Their involvement in the exploding Civil Rights Movement in the South were identical to each other.  I found myself looking forward to another Heartbreak Hotel.  Then the story veered.  The heroine’s appeal rapidly diminished.  Her return home made little sense and her decision to stay home made even less.  To add salt into an already bland wound the supporting cast is annoying at the best of times; the characters coming across as either cloying, cardboard, or corrosive.

So I am abandoning this book at the 56% point.  I gave it a better chance than it deserved.  My ground rules for the Journey of 100 Books said I would give a book at least 25% before abandoning it if it turned out to be disappointment so I am well within my guidelines.

 

So what next….

Next, since we are just a couple of weeks away from Halloween I am diving into Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, the story of Halloween arriving a week early in a small Ohio town.

© 2014 M. Romeo LaFlamme

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