Monthly Archives: March 2013

NOT RECOMMENDED: The Turning by Francine Prose

Title: The Turning

Author: Francine Prose

Review: 6/10

Reviewer: Davon

The Turning more than anything, is a boring book.  It starts out with little action, tries to build suspense through cliff-hanger endings chapter by chapter, but ultimately leads to nowhere. The action is not very exciting.  The main character will sit in the book, or see a ghost passing by, but won’t actually drive the action or make things happen. It’s one of the few books I saw down to read word by word, because I knew it was supposed to be a little confusing.  But by the climax, the main character finds a key to a room he wasn’t allowed in.  That’s it.

These aren’t scary ghosts, these are just evil spirits who pass by.   Or are they?  By the end of the book, there were no answers, and while I know I was meant to question the reality of things, I went back through the book and failed to find the answers to help me even make an educated guess about what all was happening in the book the whole time.

Although Francine Prose has authored more than ten other books before this one, I must admit they must be much more interesting than this one.  I can’t imagine an author getting published for the first time for a book like this.  I can’t imagine any author getting published for a book like this.  Nor can I imagine many readers enjoying a book like this.

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The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power

Title: The 48 Laws of Power

Author: Robert Greene

Rating: 8/10

Reviewer: Seon

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is a fascinating novel about the usage of power that is used in the real world; either by you or used against you. From the darkest corners of history, and to the most honorable, power and seduction is illustrated throughout this book. To me, by far, the most important rules in this novel are: “never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use friends” and “master the art of timing.”
Moving on, the book implies never putting too much trust into friends, instead use enemies to your advantage. The reason why this is true to me is because in this book, it uses a variety of examples to explain why having a friend around may be much worse than corresponding with an enemy. For example, on page 23, it says, “the more gifts you bless upon a friend the more they believe that they have achieved it on their own. Instead bless gifts upon an enemy, and they will move mountains to show their gratitude.” What this means is that at times an enemy is much more useful in your affairs than a friend may ever be. Secondly, another rule that is highly significant to me that is used in the book is the art of timing. As explained in the novel, the art of timing is so important. For instance, on page 53, it says, “art of timing is so essential to acquiring and maintaining power. A lack of timing shows that you are not in control of yourself.”What this quote means is that whenever you’re in a rush or a frenzy state of to get something done, a lack of control – a lack of control over yourself.
In conclusion, the novel The 48 Laws of Power, is a very interesting and entertaining book. However, I must advise the reader to be aware of how deceptive, and skeptical may seem at times. Despite this, it is still truly knowledgeable. Even though the accumulation o f power may seem like holding a double sided sword, I must say it is far better to be the predator than a victim – your choice.

The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

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Title: The House of Sand and Fog

Author: Andre Dubus III

Rating: 9.9/10

Reviewer: Isa

The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III is an odd book.  It’s the story of three people in a legal dispute over a house, which in theory is a straightforward enough topic, possibly something for an episode of the popular (And fantastic) “Judge Judy.”  But one should never underestimate a vaguely insane writer.

The book centers around three characters: Kathy Nicolo, the original owner of the house in question; Colonel Massoud Behrani, a man who was exiled along his family during the Iranian Revolution; and Officer Lester V. Burdon, the man who has come to fall in love with the emotionally unstable Kathy.

The story opens with Colonel Behrani, working a menial job cleaning trash along the side of the road, with frustration and longing festering in his heart.  He desperately wishes to have more for his family, and success in America despite the shadow of his past.  We then meet Kathy Nicolo, whose already dysfunctional life took a more drastic turn when her husband decided to walk out on her and the house her father left her incorrectly put up for state auction, and Kathy is forcibly evicted.  One of the officers sent to evict her is Lester Burdon.  Lester instantly falls in love with her, partly because of the loveless marriage that he has remained faithful to for the sake of his children.

Unfortunately, sensing opportunity, Colonel Behrani decides to buy Kathy’s house on short sale with the intent to sell it for three times the amount he paid. Obviously, Kathy wants her house back, and her new lover, Lester, will do anything to help her.

As I read this book, I was struck by how deceptively raw it was.  It delved into the depth of dark thoughts and intimate sexual relations very, very…casually.  It’s quite hard to describe, but in some books with explicit content, it’s almost as if the writer is getting some secret thrill out of describing their encounters. Andre Dubus doesn’t seem to partake in such decadence.  Instead, he uses sex as a means to describe the actual feelings of his characters, and I feel that is to be appreciated.

The writing of this novel is crisp, clean, and fitting, and tells the story how it deserves to be told.  That’s not to say it was straightforward, however.  The writer used a combination of first and third person styles, which isn’t crazy on its own, but it’s used unexpectedly in the last half of the book.  Personally that shift, even if it was only for one character, was almost as surprising as the actual plot twists.

The pacing of the book is, in my opinion, the most effective piece.  The ending is so tense that I nearly threw the book across the room in a frustrated rage.  But when that tension was released…well, all the frustration was worth it.  I do think it’s worth it to point out that after that large burst of emotion and craziness, the last fifteen or so pages of the book feel slow and rather dry.

All in all, The House of Sand Fog is a worthy read, and belongs on our shelf.  Plus, Oprah endorsed it, so what else do you really need to know?

Rating:
Dialogue: The dialogue was well written and tactful, providing enough interaction between the characters, and also leaving room for strong internal thoughts 10/10

Pacing: The pace is very well done. While I was a little frustrated in the end, it was obviously done in order to bring the reader in farther, and strange as It may sound, the pain was needed. However the pages after that were a little flat.  9.8/10

Plot: The plot is fantastic and managed to keep me hooked. It answers all the questions it should, while raising all the questions one secretly wishes it wouldn’t–all for the better. 10/10

CHERUB: The Recruit by Robert Muchamore

Title: CHERUB: The Recruit

Author: Robert Muchamore

Rating: 9/10

Reviewer: DaJour

Have you ever been so mesmerized by something so impeccable? If not you should certainly read the C.H.E.R.U.B. series. Rob Muchamore has done an awesome job of making his plots absolutely phenomenal. I’ve become addicted to the conflict in this particular story. From high speed chases to daring romance between Protagonist James and his lovely companion Nicole. And I can’t seem to set down this immaculate novel. And although this book seems to have made no societal impact it still continues to remain a fast read that is fantastic for all ages. In my own personal way this book is considered a classic.

The exposition begins with a troublesome child our protagonist James in a world of trouble. James is faced with tons of conflict particularly that foreshadows situations in the future; situations that normally occur on Cherub missions. And normal this is the portion of the book that tends to contain the majority of the action. But this poses a problem when reading the Cherub series because the author rarely slows down the action enough for the reader to understand that they are approaching the climax.

I personally believe that if the climax was better written this story would be more than spectacular. Although I do recommend books one and two because book three begins slow and it may make one not want to read it.  But aside from this flaw this story is indeed a classic. The dialogue, the character development, the conflict, is truly impeccable. This book has not only entertained me but brought me more intense joy from reading.