Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: A Review

152From the back of the book:

Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.

In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together.Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.

Love, tragedy, infidelity, this book has it all. Unfortunately, I found myself having to go back and re-read sentences and entire pages because Tolstoy is one long-winded person. Here is one example of such: “Every person in the house felt that there was no sense in their living together, and that the stray people brought together by chance in any inn had more in common with one another than they, the members of the family and household of the Oblonskys. The wife did not leave her own room, the husband had not been at home for three days.”

That’s the fourth sentence of the second paragraph. That, in and of itself, is simple enough to understand, but when entire pages and chapters are made up of similar passages, it lends itself to absurdity.

I am not afraid of long books. In fact, I love them. My favorite book is just shy of 1,000 pages. I’ve read Winds of War/War and Remembrance at least three times because I love the characters. This book, however, I found myself wanting to strangle them. Each was too whiny to care about, particularly since they brought their situations upon themselves.

If you are truly wanting to read this book, props to you. However, be prepared for a difficult journey.


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ENDLESS NIGHT by Agatha Christie: A Review

EndlessThe story is simple, really. Boy meets girl, falls in love, and they get married. However, they do not live happily ever after.

The narrator of the story, Mike Rogers, is a poor man. He dreams of being rich, but he does not have the patience for hard work. When we meet him, he is a driver, a chauffeur. He takes time away from work to visit the English countryside. Visiting a village, he attends an auction. There, he meets Ellie Goodman. He woos her into a romance that results in a surprise wedding not long after.

Shortly before their nuptials, Ellie confesses that her last name is not Goodman. In fact, it is Guteman. She lied about her last name so he would not know she was rich. Naturally, her family is upset. They wanted her to marry someone in her own station. This does not dissuade the couple as they build a house in the same town where they met.

Not long after moving in, trouble begins to happen. A rock thrown through a window is really the worst of it, but it’s enough to upset Ellie. She insists that her governess move in with her and Mike, against his wishes.

I don’t wish to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, but I’ll admit I was expecting a mystery when I began reading. When I reached the hundred page mark and nothing major had happened, I looked it up. It was classified as a thriller. For two-thirds of the book, not much happens. Then it comes head-on. The story was enough to keep me entertained, but it is not one I am likely to reread in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors

Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors.

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Promise of reviews

152Beginning January 1st, I plan to begin reading through a list of classics. Some will be Modern Classics perhaps, while most will be what many consider to be classics. Many of these, I have never read, some I read so long ago I remember next to nothing, and a few will be favorites.

The first book I have planned is Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, and I hope to have it finished by January 31st.

Other books I have plans for reading include The Iliad and The Odyssey (I haven’t decided if I will read The Aenid), A Tale of Two Cities, Earth Abides, Moby Dick, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Killer Angels. There will be more, but those are the ones I’m most focused on reading.

I promise that once I finish the book, I will write reviews of them (something I have been extremely lacking in doing). In addition to that, I will also keep everyone up to date on the progress for my second book (the first is unpublished and needs a lot of work, so I’ve hired an editor to tell me what to do in order to make it work).

We hope to see you in the new year!

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A Rose by any Other Name: A review of Affliction by Laurell K Hamilton, Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #22

afflictionUnfortunately, I think that we have all gotten that call. We are at work, doing what we have to do, and if we’re lucky, what we love to do to pay the bills, to eat for the next few days. Everything is business as usual. And then the phone rings. It doesn’t matter who it is, just that the news is awful. For me, it was my father-in-law, and thank heaven, I was home. But John, he was working. And his father was gone.

Anita is spending a rare (at least from what we see) day at Animator’s Inc. when her call comes in. At first, she has no idea who it is that is calling. The names given don’t match up with anyone that she is seeing, so she chalks it up to a wrong number, until in the blink of an eye, it clicks. She knows whose family is calling, she knows who will be hurting and need her as a hole is ripped in his heart, because his father is dying of an incurable wasting disease.

The St Louis crew pull together to get done what must be done in order for this person to go home and see his father one last time. On the ground, Anita does her best to just be the girlfriend, the moral support, what her lover needs her to be.  When he tells her to do what she does best, Anita sticks her nose into the local investigation. The disease is a rotting disease, called the Zombie Disease, because it rots its victims, and Anita is best zombie expert in the country. When even she doesn’t know what is going on and all of the bad guys seem content to break the rules, you know it’s gonna be bad and bloody.

We see a new side of familiar characters here. Edward hints more at his past (Yay for another book with Edward!) which we know next to nothing about, and Anita gains a new animal in her panwere state. We see Micah, Nathaniel, Asher, and even Jean Claude in new roles, taking new actions. While this is a familiar feel for all returning AB fans, it is new enough to stay fresh. That is something that I can always complement Ms Hamilton on .

I’m fairly for certain that she must upload some baking soda into her hard drive, because her stories are always fresh, there is always something new to learn.  I loved this story, not for all of the blood-and-guts action that often accompanies an Anita adventure, but for the tenderness, and the love she shows to each of her men.  This also brings to mind the recent LGBTQ victories, and alternate lifestyles. Something I take away from each of Ms. Hamilton’s books is that just because your type of love is rare, doesn’t mean it isn’t love. Gay love is love. Lesbian love, is love. Polygamous love, is love. Polyamorous love is still love. Who is to say that it is wrong if it works for someone else. No one should have the right to tell anyone how to live their lives, or that how they are living is wrong as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Bravo, Laurell, for standing up for alternate pictures of Love.

Here Anita makes me think of the early days of the AIDS epidemic. An otherwise healthy, middle-aged gay man is wasting away while his family watches and can do nothing. I probably see it that way because of having just finished And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, but think of it this way.  If you knew your loved one had been with someone like Gaetan Dugas and that person was still out there spreading the sickness while your loved one lay dying, many of us would want to catch that person and have him/her up on neglegent homicide charges at least. But here, in this world, it isn’t AIDS, they need to worry about, but a similarly contagious case of zombie-rot that spreads throughout one’s organs. And it is controlled by a master vampire so old that he is also a rotting vampire. But his rot doesn’t stink.  That is seriously old. But reports said that Amour Morte died in Atlanta. It’s happened before. It happened again. The report was wrong.

This is a beautiful story of racing against time, and doing what Anita does best to help one of her lovers.  There are some bombs dropped, and that’s all I’m saying, but Death and the Executioner (known in Law Enforcement circles as Death and War) have their work cut out for them if they are going to save the day. If they can save they day. If they can make it out of all of this alive.



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“What happened to love thy neighbor?”, A Review of Copperhead (2013)

Caggiano's Corner


History-based films always work the best when we can watch a particular story and relate to the characters, and then in our minds, just change a few things around, and all of a sudden, a movie set during a particular time period becomes very relevant to almost any era. This is what happens with Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead, a film so incredibly distanced from Gettysburg and Gods and Generals (both in content and style), in a sense that it takes the both-sides-are-right mentality and completely smashes it, instead, choosing to come right out and say that war is wrong, because no matter what side you are on, or what the result is, good people acting as mere pawns in a chess game for generals and politicians, will be killed and wounded regardless. The families and conflicts present in this movie could quite literally be anybody. Yes, they are dressed…

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Movie Review: Odd Thomas

Sorry, there's no cover for the movie, so you're just going to have to deal with the book cover.

Sorry, there’s no cover for the movie, so you’re just going to have to deal with the book cover.

The First time I can remember ever seeing Anton Yelchin was in the film adaptation of Hearts in Atlantis (based on the first and last stories in the book). His next major appearance was in the miniseries Taken. In 2009, he appeared as Pavel Checkov in the sequel/prequel/reboot of Star Trek. In between, and since, he has had a variety of roles. When I first learned he was cast as Odd Thomas in the film of the same name, I was curious. Could he pull off the role. More importantly, could the supporting cast (Willem Dafoe plays Chief Porter, Addison Timlin plays Stormy) flesh out their characters? I am happy to report that they all did fantastic. All of the major characters from the book are there, except for Elvis whose sole appearance is relegated to a cardboard cutout

For those of you who do not know the story of Odd, it is based on a 2003 book by Dean Koontz. Odd Thomas is a 20ish person living in a small desert town. He has a gift to see dead people. Unlike Sixth Sense, ghosts seem to know they are dead. For one reason or another, some have chosen not to pass on (Arnold Vosloo plays a character who spends his afterlife at a tire shop trying to make those who can see him laugh by picking his nose with his severed arm while others have actual unfinished business).

The main story focuses on Odd trying to prevent a large-scale attack on the town in which he resides. He learns of the upcoming attack through his encounter with the character Fungus Bob. After seeing creatures that Odd has labeled Bodachs, he realizes that Bob is planning something big. Enlisting the help of the local police and his girlfriend, he does his very best to figure what the clues point toward.

Unlike many adaptations of Koontz’s work (Watchers and Hideaway come to mind), this follows the story quite well. It condenses some action (sorry, no exploding cow) and focuses on the plot of Fungus Bob. The laughs, suspense, and heartache are all there. This is a definite must for anyone who enjoyed the book or is just looking for a fun time.

Rating: 4/5

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