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Interviews | April 8, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Gabrielle Zevin: The Powells.com Interview



Gabrielle ZevinThe American Booksellers Association collects nominations from bookstores all over the country for favorite forthcoming titles. The Storied Life of... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

    Gabrielle Zevin 9781616203214

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Customer Comments

Coni has commented on (17) products.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
The Luminaries

Coni, February 25, 2014

Set in 1865-1866 in New Zealand during the gold rush, 13 men try to solve a bunch of local mysteries, involving a opium-addicted whore, a missing prospector, a recently deceased man with a wife that no one knew about and a scarred man that no one likes. This is a long book, but it is necessary to cover all the story taking place between those men and all those other people.

I had no idea New Zealand had a gold rush so that was educational. This book is written like a Victorian-era book with each chapter giving a teaser about what it will be about. It is a bit like Charles Dickens without all the annoying Dickens bits (no unnecessary words!).

It seemed to have a bit of a slow start but once one of the men started sharing his part of the tale to a guy, it picks up and doesn't stop. Hearing people telling their versions of stories and piecing it all together into a much larger story was fun. There was some astrological stuff that didn't make much sense to me and wasn't really explained so I skipped over that. I still enjoyed the overall story.

When some of the backstory was pieced together by the men, the story shifts to real time where you learn even more about what happened from the other players. After that, the story wraps up with parts that the men never knew. It was a nice summary of the entire story, even though I still had a few unanswered questions at the end. Did I miss the answers in this 800+ book or were that not answered? Hard to tell.
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Divergent (Divergent Trilogy #1) by Veronica Roth
Divergent (Divergent Trilogy #1)

Coni, February 25, 2014

I had no intention to read a Hunger Games knock-off. I kept hearing it was good and when I read what it was about, it did intrigue me, even though the factions seemed arbitrary.

It is easy to compare it to Hunger Games with the dystopian future and kids being trained to fight and kill each other. The fighting and violence in Divergent was much more realistic than Hunger Games. The action scenes are really well written. While I viewed the Hunger Games as a parable about where we as human beings are as a society today, the society in Divergent doesn’t seem realistic in comparison. The factions were as arbitrary as I feared. It was as if people only had a portion of their personality, skills and attributes instead of being more well-rounded which is how I view people.

Also there was really no explanation of why the world was set up that way, what happened to make it that way, and what was behind the fences that they alluded to in this first book. Since there are two more books, I feel like that will all come out in the next two books so I’ll give it the benefit of doubt.

Even with those drawbacks, this book was a fast read. I really wanted to know what would happen next. It was highly entertaining and I know I’ll be reading the next two. I think it achieved its goal.
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A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R. R. Martin
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3)

Coni, February 25, 2014

It is not the book’s fault that it took me almost a year to read it. It is long but I did start reading it when I started watching the third season of Game of Thrones. I wanted to be surprised in the show so I stopped reading the book until it was over. Then I struggled since I knew overall what happened for half of it. I do enjoy the book as much as the show. It is different in a good way. I love knowing the back story more in the books. I feel like I know the motivations for some of the characters better.

Once I got past the Red Wedding part in the book, I debated stopping until I watched season 4 of Game of Thrones but then I had to know what happened next. The last part went very fast for me. So much happens. It is so good. I can’t wait to see it on screen.

I enjoyed this book overall compared to the first two. The first book set up many characters before moving on to the scandal and action. The second book seemed to recover from all the shocking ends to the first book and set up all the action for the last third of the book. It really dragged in the middle. This book did not drag at all. Things had been set up. We just had to watch it all play out. It was better than I expected. Many times, I yelled out, “No way!” when I read a certain part. This is what epic novels should be like.
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Building Stories by Chris Ware
Building Stories

Coni, August 27, 2013

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked up this graphic novel at the comic book store. It came in a huge box. It had 14 different pieces to it. They ranged from small books to newspapers to pamphlets. They all told stories of occupants of a Chicago building. There was no beginning or end. You could read each of the pieces in whatever order to learn a bit more about the occupants’ lives.

I really enjoyed this reading style. Not having a definite beginning reminded me of when you meet someone. You meet so many people at one point in their life, and over time, you learn bits of their history and are with them as they go into the future. Most of the stories revolved around a thirtysomething woman who lived in the building when she was single and later was conflicted about moving to the suburbs after getting married and having a daughter. I began with the stories of her time in the suburbs with hints of what her life had been like before. I finished by reading about her time before her marriage and it really came full circle. I never felt lost when I was reading. I was just given hints of her life at one point in time and learned more as I picked up a different part of the story.

There were other stories involving an unhappy couple, an elderly lady and even a bee. None of these stories were particularly happy. There were bits of happiness, but a lot of regret and sadness. I didn’t find it depressing to read though. I really wanted to keep reading about each person’s self doubts and feelings of hopelessness that kept entering into their minds. Once again, I didn’t find it challenging to read, even with the somber tones. I really connected with the characters and wanted to go back and reread different parts as soon as I was finished.

The only flaw I found with it was the parts with the bee. I am guessing it was there as some sort of comic relief with all the other storylines, but it was still a sad story, and was pretty disconnected with the other stories. There was some connection but it could have easily been left out. I think the time spent on the bee could have been spent developing the storylines of the couple and elderly lady. I wanted more on them that I didn’t get.
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The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel of North Korea by Adam Johnson
The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel of North Korea

Coni, August 16, 2013

I was interested in this book since it was about a country that I don’t know much about, North Korea. Unfortunately, the author tried but doesn’t know as much as he wishes he did and that comes through. I couldn’t trust what I was reading most of the time since what he was describing could have been rumors instead of based on stories told from defectors. I think this story would have been more useful if it wasn’t set in an actual country, but a fictional one that readers could understand was like North Korea.

My main problem with the book was the lack of believable characters. The main character is never really fleshed out. He just has things happen to him, but his thought process isn’t really shared with the reader. The same thing happens with some other characters in the book. Actually, I felt like I did get to know an interrogator that appears halfway through the book in how he relates to his family. I found it odd that I felt more for one of the minor characters compared to the main one in the story. I also found it silly to have Kim Jong Il as a character in the story.

The characters seemed to be there just to drive the plot, which gets more and more outlandish. It starts off with the main character living in an orphanage, describing the horrors of what happens to the orphans. Then it skips to him being already trained as a kidnapper. I thought that would have been interesting to read about, but instead I got to spend many pages reading about him transcribing on a boat. It was the long boring passages like that where I wanted to give up, but forced myself to continue. Halfway through, the story changes. I had hope! I actually enjoyed the propaganda chapters about what the citizens would hear on the loudspeakers. It was all so ridiculous and gave more insight into North Korea than anything else that I read, especially when compared to what was actually happening in the plot. Still, the second half of the book lost me with boredom again. As it went forward and backward in time, telling us the end of the story or hinting at it enough that by the time we read how it actually happened, it seemed repetitive. I kept waiting for some big reveal at the end to make it worth my effort of finishing it, but there was none.
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