Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Great Gatsby

On a rainy Tuesday my lovely wife and I went to see the movie Brave, which by the way is fantastic, and saw the trailer for the upcoming movie of The Great Gatsby. The movie is made by the producers of Moulin Rouge, Australia, Romeo and Juilet and Strictly Ballroom. In all the visual extravagance of the trailer I decided it’s a book I surely must read.

The book is good, enjoyable but not gripping as it winds around a story of post-war Jazz-age materialism. The story is narrated from the viewpoint of Nick (a bonds salesman) who’s love, awe and disdain of his neighbor Gatsby is borderline captivating. Other characters are introduced who all find Gatsby both great, mysterious and a little frustrating. There is marital jealousy, judgment and violence, there is sneaky deals, investigations and drunken discord which is all set within lavish and luxurious wealth.

Overall the book was OK, good in insight and luckily few in pages. I think this is one instance where the movie might be better than the book. A 5/10 overall rating.


Welcome

Hi Guys and welcome to the new site for Jason’s Book Reviews. I have given Tumblr the flick and quite like the new layout and features that Word-press has to offer. Hope you like it and I’ll endeavor to get some new reviews up soon and thanks for reading them.


The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen

I can not exclaim loud enough the praises I have about this book. It’s not merely an instant classic but one of the BEST BOOKS I’VE EVER READ!

The plot in itself is simple yet Franzen’s vocabulary and scope destroys other great writers like Eugenides who’s phraseology pales in comparison. Simply it’s a family of five who are (whether they know it or not) destined to spend one last Christmas together in St Jude. Franzen hums along between the lives of both the Parents (Enid and Alfred) and the three children (Chip, Denise and Gary). We see both present and past perspectives from all sides and slide into background’s that create a vibrant tapestry of drama. I’m very reluctant to divulge any detail as I want you to enjoy it for yourself. My only point for some potential readers is that if you are shy of a crude word or explanation then be prepared for a few ‘fingers in ears’ moments. What I found to be one of the great points about this book is that at no single moment is there any drag or mundane moments that many other novels seem to have in their middle. It’s pure uphill the whole way.

Franzen has written four novels and a few non-fiction books and I am chomping at the bit to get at them. This book is arguably (and I will argue it) a must-read so get on with it and get started.

Overall I give this book a 15/10 rating because it’s too good for a mere 10.


The Year of Living Biblically – A. J. Jacobs

Agnostic immersion journalist A J Jacobs decides to spend an entire year living based on the laws and rules of the bible. In this hilarious adventure Jacobs adopts all sorts of outlandish traits and responsibilities throughout his spiritual quest. He grows his beard long, wears tassels, wears all white,  stones adulterers, prays, does a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and eats bugs, just to name a few.

What I really enjoyed about this great book was that Jacobs not only explored the humorous side of the absurdity of both Jewish and Christian interpretation of the old and new testament but was honestly open to finding valid spirituality in each experiment. The year bought about great embarrassment but also a good amount of peace as he took time to observe the sabbath and pray three times each day. There were some great laugh out loud moments like when he was not allowed to sit in a place that a menstruating woman had sat, so his wife sat on all the seats in the house with a wicked grin.

Jacobs had a bunch of spiritual advisers to help him along the way and also a wonderful Jewish man who would come around to inspect his garments to ensure they were not mixed fibers. This man would pray with him and invite him to experience some odd rituals. The whole book had a warm feel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Jacobs also did a great job in explaining quite a lot about Jewish tradition and culture to give background to his year. I am now looking forward to reading his next one called ‘Drop Dead Healthy’.

Overall a wonderful book and well worth a read. I give 8/10 for it’s humor and poignancy.


The old man and the sea – Hemingway

Purely Magical.

This is a magnificent story about an old fisherman who has not caught a fish for 85 days, but then hooks the biggest fish ever which drags him out further and further to sea.  There are three things I love about this story:

1) Hemingway’s writing style is no nonsense and to the point but is by no means void of emotion or weight. I love how a single sentence tells us so much.

2) I flipping love sea stories and this one was great. I could easily imagine the surroundings and interactions with nature that Hemingway wove and it reminded me strongly of days fishing off a little boat with Dad when I was a kid.

3) I love, absolutely love how the old man talked to himself. I felt like what he said is what i’d say if I was in the same situation… actually at one point in the book he said something and my subsequent thought was exactly what was written next, brilliant.

This is truly a story of epic manly-hood and never giving up and I’m sure there are many parallels between the story and life that could be uncovered. Overall rating 8.5/10


The Black List – Volume one

Here is a list of some of the books I have begun over the last five or so years and then either read half of or could not get into because I lost interest, got distracted or they were so boring I could no longer go on. This list is in non-alphabetical, non-chronological and in no particular order.

Wise mans fear – Patrick Rothfus: The first one blew me away and I loved it, this one was ssooo boring.

The power of one – Bryce courtney: I think I just got distracted.

Gardens of the moon by Steven Erikson: Awful. I actually almost finished this book but it was so much work I eventually gave up as I felt it was not worth the effort.

The curious incident of the dog in the night time – Mark Haddon: I Couldn’t get into it, not really for me sorry.

A fine balance – Rohinton Mistry: I enjoyed the first half, then I got bored.

The hunger games – Suzanne Collins: Boring, although I’m not a teenage girl so maybe that’s why.

Magician – Raymond E Fiest: First half was so so, then it got boring and I couldn’t keep interested.

The art of racing in the rain – Garth Stein: Started well, very well, but alas I just was not that into it.

Wheel of time – Robert Jordan: Read three quarters of it, got distracted and never picked it up again, thought about it but didn’t.

Die trying – Lee child: Horrible, pure torture to read.

Friends like these – Danny Wallace: He just lost me on this one, I love his other books.

The way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson: Started great, I then got a bit bored… but carried on until I could bear it’s crap no longer.

A cavern of black ice – J V Jones: Read most of it, painfully… gave up once it’s story line was no longer worth following.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke: Read half…Boring.

The Stand – Stephen King: Good, huge but not compelling enough to spend the time to read 1200 pages.

A Shadow on the glass – Ian Irvine: Utter trash

The reality dysfunction – Peter F Hamilton: Really enjoyed first half (its about 1300 pages or so).. but it became so monotonous I couldn’t keep going.

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell: Good but not great. I even saw Malcolm in an interview say he regrets the way he wrote it as it got such bad reviews.

The camel club – Davil Baldacci: Heard it was great, I just couldn’t get into it.

Starman – Sara Douglass: I got half way through this book TWICE… but I just couldn’t do it. The first two in the series were mind-blowing amazing and come highly recommended by me.

The light fantastic – Terry Pratchett: I struggled through the first one and thought I’d give the second one a go… not my cuppa really.

Lords of the silver bow – Conn Iggulden: Really didn’t like this, I just could not picture the story.

A Briefer history of time – Stephen Hawking: Listened to most of the audiobook, problem was it’s too tricky to take it in it slow when someone is reading it to you… I therefore got a bit lost.

The lady of Sorrows – Cecilia Dart-Thornton: First book (the ill made mute) was outstanding and I loved it. This one however was miles off and I attempted it at various times as it called out to me from the book shelf, only to be frustrated again at it’s weak writing and very slow plot.

Dune messiah – Frank Herbert: Dune was amazing, utterly fantastic and wonderful. Dune messiah, what a botch up.


How to be good – Nick Hornby

It started off actually quite boring, it picked up briefly in the middle and then dragged on until the very end. This book wasn’t overly bad, but I expected more after reading high fidelity.
The story is of a lady who is trying to find herself in the midst of an unhappy marriage, a teenage son and a soul searching do gooder of a husband. Introduced early on is the quirky healer called GoodNews who has a mysterious power where he can heal peoples illness, but only if they are sad. GoodNews comes to live with the family and David (the husband) and him begin a number of projects to help others. One of these projects is inviting all the people in the street to a party to entice them to adopt a homeless youth… It kind of works. David hadn’t always been so nice, in fact up until meeting GoodNews he’d been a very grumpy, sarcastic and unhappy man who’s job was writing a grumpy newspaper column. The family is thrown into a current of madness as both parents change drastically and the future of their unit is threatened.

Overall I give this book a 5/10 because if you never read it you have missed very little.