Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson

The Dark Talent (Alcatraz, #5)The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I went into this thinking that it was the last book in the series, and that I had made it through a decent, although somewhat annoying series. Well, just so you know, it isn't the last book. The last book hasn't been written yet.

This book ends on a cliff hanger, which is incredibly frustrating for several reasons. The first is obvious: cliff hangers are often frustrating. The second, the expectation set did not match the reality. Perhaps after reading the actual last book I'll feel differently, but this does feel like unmet expectations. Third, one of the things that Sanderson does best is provide closure at the end of each of the books in his series'. Minor story arcs inside of big ones. A small victory for the good guys, even though the world is in even more trouble. He totally whiffed this one. No closure, no minor win, just disappointment. Maybe it'll all get fixed after the last book, but this was not appreciated.

If I am to give him any credit, it does say something that I care enough to be this disappointed by a juvenile fiction book. It is a sign that despite other failures, he created strong characters, setting and plot, which is classic Sanderson. Unsatisfying endings are not.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Agatha Christie is a household name, I believe, yet my experience with her works is fairly limited. After reading And Then There Were None last year, I put this Murder on the Orient Express, one of her most famous stories, on my to-read list. I was not disappointed.

While there were some weaknesses, such as the fact that Poirot happened to know so many details about the Armstrong case, it kept me guessing until the end. Or at least almost to the end. Then there is the style of the classic mystery, which somehow focuses on the mystery and discovery of the cast of characters, and at the same time leaves them underdeveloped. Part of that is due to the limitation of having only one point of view so the reader doesn't get too much information too soon, but it does make the book a little hollow.

I enjoy a good mystery so I'm giving this one a solid 4 stars and recommend it as a standard in classic mysteries.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (Alcatraz, #4)Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While this was another step forward in the Alcatraz series, I feel like I have said it all already. Once again my comments are meta-comments about the writing rather than the actual story.

This was a good story, with good characters, written in an unfortunate style that hides the genius of the story. Some of the funniest stuff is in those awkward sections where the narrator butts in, but as I have pointed out previously, the voice of that writing is pure Brandon Sanderson. Now, I'd pay for a whole book of that content from Sanderson, and he obviously has it in him wanting to get out, but it is unfortunate the way it got embedded in this book. In some ways, it reminds me of Wayne in the Alloy of Law series, but Wayne has a setting and other characters to be true to. The narrator interjections here are really free from most of that since they are out of the timeline and in an unknown setting, so Sanderson can just let himself go. Enjoyable, but misplaced.

I still can't believe I'm reading this series. At this point it looks like I will just finish it out...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a TimeThe Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book will either convince you that you need to sleep more, or it will put you to sleep. Huffington writes an overly long, overly scientific apology on sleep, but misses the opportunity to drive a single message. If her message is that we should sleep more, then the chapter on dreams and most of the history of sleep was unnecessary. She could have skipped to a few of the benefits, made some astute observations about how we degrade sleep as a culture, slapped us with some consequences of the lack of sleep and sent us on our way. But instead it went on forever, with trivial stories and factoids that did not drive a main message.

So if you are struggling to sleep, you might try this one. There are a few good tips at the end, although solving the problem she presents also does not seem to be the thesis. Hearing some of the benefits and consequences involved in sleep, or the lack thereof, does have a motivating factor. But if all else fails and that motivation doesn't do the trick, the book itself will probably put you to sleep.