Marathon ManAuthor: William GoldmanPublication Date: 1974Publisher: Delacorte PressBlurb (GR):
Tom "Babe" Levy is a runner in every sense: racing tirelessly toward his goals of athletic and academic excellence--and endlessly away from the specter of his famous father's scandal-driven suicide. But an unexpected visit from his beloved older brother will set in motion a chain of events that plunge Babe into a vortex of terror, treachery, and murder--and force him into a race for his life . . . and for the answer to the fateful question, "Is it safe?" Review:
I honestly had no clue what Marathon Man
was about before I started reading it. I started a book club when I moved to Seattle a year ago and each month we pick a new genre and roll with it. We picked thriller/suspense for January and then looked to see what the mostly highly shelved and rated books in the genre were and added a few to our poll. This won so I acquired it and jumped in. I think it made it quite a bit more fun having no clue what the story was about or where it was going (I haven’t seen the movie) so I’ll try not to ruin anything in this review. Marathon Man
opens with two angry old men in a road rage situation in New York City which results in a string of events involving Nazis, espionage, and a Jewish grad student who runs marathons. It is basically an adrenaline-fueled rush all the way to the ending.
Babe Levy, the aforementioned grad student, has the uncanny ability to remember historical facts, just like his father before him. The father whose life and career were ruined by McCarthyism. Babe’s only family is his brother Doc, whom Babe resents a bit for doing corporate work of a sort and collecting hoity-toity interests. After Babe begins dating a German student and writes to Doc about his feelings, his brother shows up at his apartment and Babe finds out that several things are not as they seem. And that is about as far into the plot as I can go without spoiling it all.
I had rather high expectations going into this book because it was written by William Goldman
, of The Princess Bride
fame. I’d hoped that he could write a thriller with the same humor he injected into both that book and the movie screenplay based on it. Was there humor? Not really, but he certainly knows how to keep the reader intrigued and there are several scenes I won’t soon forget. Something that might be a positive for readers is that the pacing roars along, allowing readers to frantically flip pages until they’ve finished the book in one sitting. However, I thought the characterization lacked a bit because of it. There are several German characters I kept confusing with each other and they, along with a few other characters, left me practically begging for more of the backstory. It reminded me of the characters in Jasper Fforde
who try to invent interesting tidbits about themselves to interject into their acting. Character 1: generally evil henchman, German, broad-shouldered. I found it perplexing, though, that some complete randomness was interjected instead
of helpful characterization—did we really need to know about so-and-so’s favorite Argentinian laundress?
I will say that Goldman knows how to write torture, death, and chase scenes which really covers all the bases in a thriller. And I liked the seventies feel to it. Thrillers are more interesting to me when they aren’t utilizing the newest technology and people have to base their life and death prospects on skill and luck rather than their knowledge of advanced weaponry. Plus, who doesn't love reading about assassins going after assassins?
Now that I’ve read the book, I can’t wait to see the movie, which stars Dustin Hoffman as Babe Levy. I want to see if the film captures the anxiety I felt during the dentist scene, the point when Levy finds out about the double-crosser, the bank escape scene, and the ending. (these are pretty general, non-spoiler mentions. If you think I should spoiler them, let me know)
Happy New Year! I've been thinking for a few months about knocking out a significant amount of classics in 2012. I had all these grand ideas of doing a shared blog challenge and setting group goals and cross-posting reviews of any classics my friends read throughout the year. (still will cross-post reviews of some of my fellow bloggers but no "challenge" beyond mere attempt) A few other bloggers ARE running Classics challenges this year so if that is your thing, go for it! Here are a few I've seen around:Back To The Classics, hosted by Sarah Reads Too MuchA Classics Challenge, hosted by November's AutumnGreek Classics Challenge 2012, hosted by Howling Frog BooksI had several conversations with friends about what a "classic" book is and it seems obvious that the definition
is different for everyone. (Duh.) I'm not here to declare myself QUEEN OF THE INTERWEBZ and lay down the definition of a classic for all. But HEAR YE, HEAR YE! The Readventurer declares that the definition of a classic, for the purposes of her 2012 reading goals is just any book written before 1980 whose author is deceased. Sure, there are modern classics whose authors are still alive. Sure, there are hundreds of thousands (or millions) of books that fit the criteria which are underwhelming and/or utter crap. But I don't care about that, all I care about is jumping into a bunch of stories and oldey timey drama and crossing off list items. Speaking of lists, I'm going to start with the Pulitzer Prize winners at the beginning, though I'll probably jump around once in a while. Despite the fact that I've read over a thousand books, I was a bit embarrassed when I added the list of winners to my blog
and found that I'd read...wait for it...wait for it...ONE BOOK ON THE LIST.Welcome to Mortification Station, me.
(it was Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
but I'm just going to reread it because I don't remember it at all) So my quest to read these worthy titles begins with His Family by Ernest Poole. Never heard of it? I hadn't either! Here's the blurb from the world's most accurate source for information, Wikipedia
: His Family
tells the story of a middle class family in New York City in the 1910s. The family's patriarch, widower Roger Gale, struggles to deal with the way his daughters and grandchildren respond to the changing society. Each of his daughters responds in a distinctively different way to the circumstances of their lives, forcing Roger into attempting to calm the increasingly challenging family disputes that erupt.
In all seriousness, I'm excited. It's on. Oh, and let me know if you are reading any classics this year, whether it is for a challenge or not. If you want to cross-post any reviews, just let me know.Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS! You finished reading this post. If you comment on this thread and tell me one classic that you are embarrassed you haven't read or that you want to read this year, you can enter to win one Penguin clothbound classic (up to $15,the link shows 24 choices but there are more than that available in the price range). Open Internationally. Fill out your info on the contact form and extra entries if you tweet or blog about it.
I WANT ALL THE CLOTHBOUND CLASSICS! Contest ends 1/31, 9pm PST
. Good luck!Here's a sample tweet: Enter to win the Penguin Clothbound Classic of your choice @TheReadventurer:
LOOK HOW PRETTY!
The Case of the Baker Street Irregular (Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt #1)
Author: Robert Newman
Publication Date: 1978
Publisher: AladdinBlurb (GR):
Andrew found London terrifying, especially after his guardian, sour old Mr. Dennison, was mysteriously abducted. Suddenly, Andrew was plunged into a series of bizarre, bombings, blackmail and murder. Then, when he met the incomparable detective Sherlock Holmes, Andrew's plight took a thoroughly remarkable turn...Review:
Sherlock Holmes is basically a literary superhero to me. Sure his weaknesses are a little more interesting
than most but he holds the same appeal to me as comic books do to fanboys. (or girls!) I am just one huge grin at all of the quick conversations, random factoids and asides, and during the eventual wrap-up when the billions of threads get sewn up tightly in a way that only Sherlock Holmes would ever be able to figure. A Goodreads friend sent me a copy of this book because she knows how much I love Sherlock and I’d never read any of the more juvenile stories. How well could the dynamic duo translate to a younger audience? The answer to that question, at least in terms of this book, is two-pronged. Robert Newman
was absolutely successful in creating believable dialogue and multiple interwoven mysteries involving a few younger characters. However, I’m still not sure how large of an audience would enjoy a younger-YA/middle grade Victorian multi-layered mystery. My heart hopes that there are quite a few precocious mystery-lovers out there. As an adult, I flew through The Case of the Baker Street Irregular
in an hour or two and I’m not at all ashamed to say that I was legitimately surprised at some of the connections. Some other reviews have mentioned the transparency of the mystery but I found it to be entertaining til the last and honestly, I thought it better done than many adult murder mysteries I’ve read in the past.
This series is based on the mention of “Baker Street Irregulars”(221B Baker Street being the address of Holmes’ abode), various local children who would aid Holmes and Watson in their investigations in the original stories. The Case of the Baker Street Irregular
opens with Andrew Craigie, a young boy from Cornwall moving into a boarding house with his former tutor who is temporarily his guardian after his aunt passes away. Almost as soon as they arrive, Andrew’s guardian disappears. A prominent lord dies, his son has hallucinations, a woman visits Holmes and Watson to help her find her missing daughter, and someone is trying to fence stolen goods in a store on Baker Street. Are any or all of these things connected? If you’ve read any Holmes at all, you already know the answer to this question. I suppose one of my favorite things about Holmes stories is the multiple storylines. When so much is happening, I forget bits of information and when they come round again later in the story, I have those “A-ha!” moments. I’d much rather have loads of red herrings and random facts tossed out in order to make the eventual unraveling a surprise than removing all that extraneous detail and reading a murder mystery paint-by-number. (which I sometimes feel is what I’m reading)
I totally loved it and if you are a Sherlock fan and are looking for some entertainment without a lot of mental work, I think you’ll find this book an hour or two well spent. The only potential negative about the book was that I thought the author made Holmes a bit too sentimental and empathetic. I enjoy the little glimpses of humanity we get and I understand the reasons that it works in this particular story. For me, it wasn’t really a negative at all. I’m sorry this series wasn’t on my radar as a young girl but I’ll be finishing the series as an adult and that’s just fine with me.
Stray (Touchstone, #1)
Author: Andrea K. Höst
Publication Date: March 20th 2011
Publisher Andrea K. Hösth
Blurb (GR): On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing: alone, she will be lucky to survive.
The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she's being watched?
Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people's skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a 'stray', a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.
Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?
She thinks about where the sun is located, how long the days are, what kinds of wildlife is around, what she might be able to eat, how to actually make
things from raw materials. Gosh, thanks for that Andrea K. Höst
, because my reading partner and I were so excited to read about a character who actually thought about all the things a person should
be thinking if they are somewhere they have never been before. I’ve read several books since I finished this one (as has my reading partner) and we’ve repeatedly said “Ugh, Cass Devlin would never
do something like this.” I also enjoyed her sense of humor about her entire situation and the new society she finds herself a part of.
The interesting thing about this book, and this could really be a positive or negative depending on the reader, was how it was very in-depth setup for the rest of the series.
What this book needs is a kickass editor to contain the awesome. Here is a very scientific graph I’ve made for the occasion:
How useful would you be in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic situation? My best friend and I had a discussion about this for a while the other day. (Well, to be honest I have this discussion all the time.) While we obviously tally people’s skills up in the positives column, we were in agreement that two of the biggest advantages a person can have is their ability to just go with the flow and their tendency not whine or complain about things. The reason I bring this up is because the first third or fourth of this book is about a teenage girl, Cass Devlin, walking home from school and suddenly finding herself in a completely foreign place. As she walks around, the thinks about what is going on in a very logical manner.
It is clear that Ms. Höst
has mapped out this world, its inhabitants, the powers, technology, and the history...and I was into all of it! At a point, while I never lost interest, I was looking for a little less description of every single power, its amplification, and the different spaces the teams went to. (this sentence probably makes very little sense but I don’t want to ruin the plot of the book for future readers) Several of the characters intrigued me and I wished we got to know a few of them more in depth rather than tens of them by name only. In the end, this book has the potential to be a five-star read for me if it was completely edited. (There were a couple affect/effect, hanger/hangar-type errors but overall, the writing was fun and there were very few errors for a self-pub) However, the final product as it is was quite enough to make me buy the remaining two ebooks in the series to see how it all pans out and definitely enough to recommend it to a lot of people. Surprisingly, there is no concentration on romance, at least not in this installment of the series. There are
a few hints and several possibilities but it was nice not to have that weighing down the plot. Instead of Cass wondering about what X or Y dude thinks of her, she actually wonders about how everything in the world works, how she might get home, and the ramifications of her choices. Crazy!To the author, if you are reading this at any point (which you might be!), please write a survivalist or post-apoc novel! I will read it and love it.
Until then, I'll continue with this series and enjoy those ones.
I never would’ve found this book without Goodreads. My pal Chichipio
has an aversion to buying books that cost more than $5. Sure, I often yank his chain about this habit but this is it, Gonza, your REVENGE. I really loved this book, so thank you. (be sure to check out his review
Wouldn't we all like to have that problem? I’d get overly excited if I were the author, too.