Tag Archives: Bill Bryson

Jen K’s CBR III Books 36-41

36. Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan: The last of The Wheel of Time novels that Jordan completed before his death still displays many of the weaknesses that developed with the series, but definitely starts to move the plot forward and get things into the right position. http://notesfromtheofficersclub.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-36-knife-of-dreams.html

37. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: I can’t remember the last time I zipped through a book in this series quite so quickly. Don’t get me wrong, with all books in the series, I felt a need to know where it was going and what was going to happen so they kept me engaged, but there were also quite a few chapters that were a chore to get through. Sanderson, however, has definitely breathed new life into the series. http://notesfromtheofficersclub.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-37-gathering-storm.html

38. Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson: Unfortunately, this book was nowhere nearly as well-written as A Short History of Everything. I don’t feel like I learned too much about the places visited (I thought maybe he’d share random knowledge like in A Short History of Everything, but there wasn’t very much) – for the most part, it felt like he simply reiterated stereotypes. I guess in some cases stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason but I expected better from Bryson. Also, having never read a travel book before, I wasn’t sure what to expect – was it supposed to be a tour of the city, was it supposed to be about random mishaps the author encounters, a bit of both? Mostly, it seemed like Bryson walked around, ate, and pretty much didn’t seem to enjoy himself very much. http://notesfromtheofficersclub.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-38-neither-here-nor-there.html

39. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls: Walls uses the stories that she and her mother remember about her grandmother to create this woman’s life story. Since it is based on family myth, Walls doesn’t title the story as a biography. The book reads very much like an oral history – it is told in Lily’s voice in chronological order, but as a reader I could easily imagine that all the chapters were individual stories told at varying times to her daughter who then helped her own daughter place them in order. In many ways, Lily feels like a portrayal of the quintessential (and possibly even stereotypical) frontier woman. http://notesfromtheofficersclub.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-39-half-broke-horses.html

40. About A Boy by Nick Hornby: Hornby tells the story from the perspective of Marcus, a 12 year old boy who is both old for his age and naive, and Will, a 36 year old man-child to say it in simple terms. Marcus is the child of divorce, and he and his mother Fiona have recently moved to London. His mother struggles with depression, and Marcus understands that things aren’t quite normal. He also doesn’t fit in at school because his mom is a feminist, vegetarian hippie who is opposed to most new popular culture and has raised her son on Joni Mitchell in the time of Nirvana and Snoop Dogg. Being the new kid, he gets picked on quite a bit.

41. The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen: I heard about this author when I saw that TNT was making a show based on the series that started with this novel. I don’t watch procedurals all too often, but I like the occasional Law and Order: SVU, and figured I might as well check out if this series was any different (I also think I saw a book that was later in the series that sounded like it had an interesting premise for a killer, but I obviously couldn’t start in the middle). Having said that, it was an entirely enjoyable book given the genre it represents. I wouldn’t call it ground-breaking in any way but it had a few nice ideas.


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Malin’s CBR-III Reviews #19-22: River Marked by Patricia Briggs, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby and One Day by David Nicholls

Yet again I fell behind on my blogging and have to update with a monster post. Have tried to diversify my reading a little bit.

19. Paranormal fantasy, book 6 in a series, contains some spoilers for earlier books in the series: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/03/19-river-marked-by-patricia-briggs.html

20. Non-fiction, which is unusual for me, written by the excellent Mr. Bryson. Highly recommended: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/03/20-short-history-of-nearly-everything.html

21. My third attempt at reading Nick Hornby – probably my favourite of his so far: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/03/21-juliet-naked-by-nick-hornby.html

22. I know I’m not the first to read and review this one, but the concept made me curious, and it was a quick read: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/03/22-one-day-by-david-nicholls.html

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Jen K’s CBR-III Reviews 1-4

It took me a little bit of time to get on the group blog (I was putting it off due to a slow internet connection), so here are links to my first four reviews.

Drood by Dan Simmons

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

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Mr. Vlach’s CBRIII#1: At Home: A History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

Here is my first entry into this year’s Cannonball Read: the review

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Raych’s CBR-III Read #1 – At Home

Oh Billy Bry, never ever change.  Do not evolve as a writer, and please do not die.  I want you writing cheeky rambles about nothing much when I am old and grey.

At Home is a cheeky ramble about nothing much, and also everything.  Bryson moved into an old rectory in Norfolk and was investigating a leak in the attic when he discovered a door leading to wtfnothing.  You or I would be all, Seal that shit before the kids find it and plunge to their screeching deaths, but Bryson is like, Houses are odd and I will write a book.  It will be a ‘short history of private life’ but that gambit will mostly just be an excuse to noodle through whatever I find interesting.  I will slip in all the trivia that I’ve gleaned since my last noodle, being the ENORMOUS TRIVIA-MAGNET THAT I AM, and I will continue to be the Valedictorian of the Unexpectedly Apt Adjective.  Casually frisky, robustly harmful, energetically combustible.  People will be on board.

I am always on board with you, sir.  It took me forever to read this because after every three lines or so I would go back and re-read them just for the sheer delight of it.  And cheeky!  Have I mentioned cheeky?  Somehow, while discussing the underappreciated corridor, he veers into Eiffel Tower territory, which edifice ‘wasn’t just the largest thing that anyone had ever proposed to built, it was the largest completely useless thing…Never in history has a structure been more technologically advanced, materially obsolescent, and gloriously pointless all at the same time.’  Them’s fightin words, but not empty insults.  The Tower was the Last Iron Thing built, just after the birth of its more practical cousin, steel, and then everyone was like, The hell, Eiffel?  S’matter with you?

Corridors and Eiffel Towers being, admittedly, strange bedfellows.  This isn’t just a history of kitchen sinks or of falling down stairs (though it’s that, too), but a broad, piecemeal swath of human development.  The history of the garden is also the history of the public park which is also the history of public wealth and the idea that even the poor need a place to stroll through attractively arranged plantlife.  Ya dig?

The book is four-hundred-and-hummina pages, but even that is painfully small for all the things Bryson proposes to historicize.  It is of necessity selective, and selective primarily to Brits and Americans and to the Victorian era because that is When Shit Was Invented.  The rectory’s original rector was born into a world of candlelight and carriages and died surrounded by steampships and anesthesia and refrigeration and telephones and cars and movies and mass-produced soap.  You were so industrious, my nineteenth century darlings.

There are a very few bits near the beginning that are too much This is what a Victorian woman wore: list of numerous clothing items, or This is how a rector ate: list of many food items, which, while interesting, are just so LISTY.  Those taper off about a chapter or so in, and are really my only beef.  Largely beefless, this review.  I am a shameless Bryson fangirl, and I cannot help flailing my hands.  Read this, and love it.

Requisite ass-covering: copy received from RandomHouse.


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