This third book in the Book of Ember series takes us back in time to before the apocalyptic catastrophe that decimated the human population. Young NicThis third book in the Book of Ember series takes us back in time to before the apocalyptic catastrophe that decimated the human population. Young Nickie, with her aunt, visits the quiet town of Yonwood to fix up her late-grandfather's old place and put it up for sale. Nickie finds Yonwood quaint and intriguing, and secretly wishes to keep the old house and move into it with her mother. But she soon learns that the town follows its own rules--rules interpreted from one old woman's garbled words after she was struck nearly dumb by a vision so horrific that it has left her borderline incomprehensible and unable to care for herself ever since.
This was a cute story. And I just love how DuPrau skillfully works relevant lessons (for the age group) into her stories without being preachy. I at first expected this story to be way in the future, after Ember, but was pleased to realize it would reveal more about how the apocalypse came about, instead. I then assumed it would tell of the events leading right up to the apocalypse itself, (view spoiler)[which it doesn't quite. It isn't until a generation later that the apocalypse ends up occurring, though part of this story tells us why that is. (hide spoiler)] What I really liked was how this episode ties back into the creation of the city of Ember, as well as that lovely little wrap-up at the end of the next book, The Diamond of Darkhold. Yes, I've already read that one, too!...more
I love Miles Vorkosigan, the precocious, ingenious, and vertically challenged offspring of Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith, of Shards of Honor aI love Miles Vorkosigan, the precocious, ingenious, and vertically challenged offspring of Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith, of Shards of Honor and Barrayar. This is the first story where Miles takes center stage in the Vorkosigan Saga--his coming of age, as it were. In essence, after failing to get into the illustrious Barrayaran military academy, Miles and friends go to Beta Colony for a visit to his grandmother. But it's not long before Miles leads them into a hair-brained scheme, delivering contraband in the middle of a war zone, (view spoiler)[where he ultimately finds himself the accidental leader of a mercenary space fleet (hide spoiler)].
I really love parts of this story. I gave it four stars though, relative to many of the other episodes in this series. There are some moments, in The Warrior's Apprentice, where the pace fluctuates a bit too much and loses momentum, so that I'm not eating it up and turning pages like crazy, as in other Miles stories....more
This was definitely a story that I really enjoyed during the first read-through and didn't at all mind re-reading it when it was included again in a later omnibus collection. Miles's first meeting with Taura the genetically modified "super soldier" teenager werewolf is delightful and hilarious. Even in eight years between my first and second reads, I remembered enough about the hilarity to anticipate this meeting, although the details had certainly grown vague enough that I was as delighted my second read-through as I had been on the first....more
This installment in The Cousins' War series chronicles much of the reign of Henry VII, as seen through his wife's eyes (Elizabeth of York, daughter ofThis installment in The Cousins' War series chronicles much of the reign of Henry VII, as seen through his wife's eyes (Elizabeth of York, daughter of the deceased King Edward IV and niece to Richard III, whom Henry defeated on the battlefield to win the throne). This novel is most interesting because even though Elizabeth of York is married to Henry shortly after he takes the throne, the remainder of her family continues to rebel against and attempt to usurp the king for many years afterward, leaving Elizabeth torn between her family and her husband and children.
This is my favorite book in The Cousins' War series, so far. I felt like this novel had the strongest viewpoint character (clear, internal conflict, hurrah!), and there were very few actual battle scenes and war-making, which are the parts that I have found drag most in the other books. But my liking of this one in particular may also have to do with the fact that I was so very curious about Henry VII and what happened after he took the throne.
Gregory's writing isn't mind-blowing, but it suffices. As always, I wished she would dig a little deeper into her viewpoint character's head. I did find myself getting annoyed with the character traits she did choose for Elizabeth, who was constantly saying, "I don't know," to just about anything anyone ever asked her. This would have come across better if we could have seen the internal conflict clearer. But Gregory seems to be a strong component of show, and internal thought doesn't appear to fall into that category, for her. Ah well.
I do love learning about the history of these times and find myself oddly glad to know that I can probably hold a rather expansive conversation about the War of the Roses, now....more
This book was long but good. The Kingmaker's Daughter, the fourth book in the Cousin's War series, follows the life of Anne Neville, the younger daughThis book was long but good. The Kingmaker's Daughter, the fourth book in the Cousin's War series, follows the life of Anne Neville, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick--who helped the house of York overthrow King Henry VI (of Lancaster) and put Edward IV on the throne. Hence Richard Neville's nickname as "The Kingmaker." Unfortunately, King Edward's choice of wife leaves Warwick dissatisfied with his limited power, so he begins kingmaking again, using his two daughters as pawns in his attempts to put someone new on the throne who could be more easily influenced and controlled.
As a woman in 15th Century England, Anne had very little control over her own life, except in the way she chose to view the cards dealt to her. She and her sister Isabel rode the tides of fate sometimes as friends and sometimes as enemies, as the wheel of fortune--and their father's ambition--pulls them low and raises them high at different points throughout their lives.
I felt like Anne had a strong viewpoint in this installment of the series (one element that was sometimes lacking in some of the other books). At this point, we've seen the same events now from the perspective of three different women, and those past books help to deepen the insights here. The perspective Anne chooses to view events through is what really influences her reactions and what happens next, as opposed to the events themselves. The mistrust and enmity between the houses of Warwick and York, at some points, is quite palpable. And yet drives one crazy. Can't we all just get along? Why is everyone so obsessed with being king or queen of England?!
I've rated the book (perhaps a bit generously) as 4-star, even though there was really nothing that blew me away. Just good, detailed, well-written historical fiction....more
In this second Griffin and Sabine trilogy, Griffin and Sabine have escaped to another dimension together (or something) and are now corresponding backIn this second Griffin and Sabine trilogy, Griffin and Sabine have escaped to another dimension together (or something) and are now corresponding back into the regular world to illicit help from a young couple who are corresponding with each other to maintain their long-distance relationship.
I haven't been too excited about the G&S books since the first two. This one is much the same same, although I do like the art a bit more in this installment than in #3, The Golden Mean. And this new tale raises interesting story questions. As usual, Sabine comes on too strong and comes off a bit creepy at the end of this. On the whole, I found the dialogue vague and overly-dramatized. Just freaking say what you mean or stop writing letters. I can really see how I was influenced in my own writing, as a kid, by these books. I recall several talking-head dialogues I wrote that were completely philosophical and nearly incomprehensible in their vagueries. The Gryphon is not too far off from that....more
I really enjoyed (some parts of) the TV mini-series based mainly off of this book but also pulling from some of the other books in the series. HoweverI really enjoyed (some parts of) the TV mini-series based mainly off of this book but also pulling from some of the other books in the series. However, I had read one other Gregory book before, The Other Boleyn Girl, and wasn't super thrilled by it, so I wasn't in a hurry to dive into this other Gregory series. But a few months after finishing the mini-series, I happened to read The Daughter of Time, which I had no idea was about the exact same time period and characters until the historical mystery of the story began to reveal itself. That book reinvigorated my interest in the history and so I set out to read Gregory's The Cousins War series.
I enjoyed this first installment in the series, which gives account of Elizabeth Woodville's climb from landless post-war widow to queen and wife to Edward IV. However, I felt like Elizabeth, as the point-of-view character, acted more like a cardboard cut-out or fly on the wall than an actual character with feelings and opinions. There wasn't enough her in her point of view. She told us what she did and what others around her did, but what did she think of it all? That absence of character depth left the story feeling a little vanilla....more
The second book in the post-apocalyptic Undying series jumps forward in time to Ren's adolescence. He was born on the first day of the end of the worlThe second book in the post-apocalyptic Undying series jumps forward in time to Ren's adolescence. He was born on the first day of the end of the world. Now he has grown up in a world without civilization or safety. Pursued by people who have died but not died--the moribund--returning as beasts whose only desire is to kill and consume those who still hang onto life. Ren is tired of sitting behind barricades, his community destined to slowly starve to death as food stores near their settlement dwindle. New visitors--who claim to be hunters of the undying, clearing them out of city after city--and sudden tragedy are the sparks that ignite Ren to fly the nest, leaving the safety of his foster-mother Jeanie's side, to finally stand on his own two....more
I listened to this whole series in audio book. This last installment in the series took me so long to finish that my library loan ended while I stillI listened to this whole series in audio book. This last installment in the series took me so long to finish that my library loan ended while I still had about two hours of listening left. It took me about 4.5 months on the waiting list before I got to check out the book again and finish it. Yes, I could have gone to a book store and finished it in a sitting or two. I just didn't care enough (as evidenced by the fact that it took me over 30 days to listen to it in the first place).
In Allegiant, the jig is up. Everyone knows about the world outside their little city, and a secret group of rebels (the Allegiant) want to send an expedition of people outside the walls to fulfill the ultimate purpose of their existence (so they think) and see what they can do to help. Only, what Tris et al discover is that the city was actually a generations-long science experiment to try and remedy genetic mutations misguidedly introduced into humanity centuries earlier. In the outside world, people with genetically mutated genes are like second class citizens. They can't have any but the crappiest jobs, are considered inferior, and are generally shunned. Tris is genetically pure. All her friends are not. And so now they have a new evil government to overthrow.
There are some really good ideas in this book, but the execution was just not there. Tris, the protagonist, was one-note and annoying as usual. The conflicts between her and her boyfriend Four seemed rather silly at times. I feel like Roth tried too hard to have likeable characters that she could then kill off to make her readers sad. And I was dying for the book to be over, once the final scene of conflict was done. Not a great ending to a series that, well, was just okay to start with....more
This second installment in the Divergent trilogy was definitely weaker than the first. Lots of going places and being chased. Plenty of action. Just nThis second installment in the Divergent trilogy was definitely weaker than the first. Lots of going places and being chased. Plenty of action. Just not enough meat. Insurgent continues where Divergent left off. The Erudite have taken over, killing many of the Abnegation and sending the rest to scatter to hidden safety. The Dauntless have their own minds back. Some have nonetheless joined forces with the Erudite while others have defected to join with the Abnegation and the Factionless against them.
After two books of Tris's same-same angry, everyone-is-my-enemy attitude, I'm beginning to wonder if she is capable of feeling or expressing anything else. Maybe it's just the audio book reader, Emma Galvin, but I'm. Getting. Sick. Of. Tris. Always. Talking. Like. This. Learn some other emotions!...more
I would more accurately give this final installment in the Caster Chronicles series only 2.5 stars. By this point, I was already a little jaded. BooksI would more accurately give this final installment in the Caster Chronicles series only 2.5 stars. By this point, I was already a little jaded. Books 2 and 3 just weren't what I'd hoped they would be. And I really wasn't a fan of the way Book 3 ended. No surprise, then, that I wasn't a fan of following a ghost around for the whole of book 4.
Ethan is dead and trapped in the Otherworld. In the real world, Lena and Ethan's other friends and family try to find a way to bring him back while, in the Otherworld, he sets off on a journey to do the same.
This book was filled with a lot of then I tried this, then I tried that. Where is the interpersonal connection? Where is the emotion? I feel like books 2 - 4 of this series rested on the laurels of the great relationship established between Lena and Ethan in Book 1, Beautiful Creatures. But we pretty much never saw that relationship again. It's like the authors didn't really get what was so great about their debut novel (school, being a teenage outcast, young love) and completely lost the thread of it from Book 2 on.
Disappointing end to an ultimately disappointing series....more
This book, the third in the Cousins' War series, follows Jacquetta's story--mother to Elizabeth Woodville, eventual wife and queen to Edward IV, whoseThis book, the third in the Cousins' War series, follows Jacquetta's story--mother to Elizabeth Woodville, eventual wife and queen to Edward IV, whose story was told in book one of the series (The White Queen). Beginning when Jacquetta is a young girl whose family briefly takes in Joan of Arc before she is turned over to the English for execution, the story follows her travails through her first brief marriage to John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI, her choice then to marry a gentleman of her household for love rather than let the court determine her future for her, and her and her husband's time serving Henry VI and his fiery queen Margaret of Anjou.
Oh man, this book is long. But enjoyable. I definitely felt like Jacquetta had a clear point of view. And certainly most everything that happened in her life was interesting. Though it does seem challenging to keep a reader's attention when things digress to war and frequent battles and skirmishes -- when the viewpoint is a woman who is rarely directly involved in these events. All in all, though, I found this third book interesting and easy to get through....more
This second book in Gregory's The Cousins' War series follows Margaret Beaufort's life as a young, unusually religious girl all the way to her long-awThis second book in Gregory's The Cousins' War series follows Margaret Beaufort's life as a young, unusually religious girl all the way to her long-awaited ascendance to Queen Mother when her son Henry (VII) Tudor finally takes the throne.
I enjoyed this installment more than the first, as I really think Gregory did a good job of capturing Margaret's personality and unique viewpoint. However, I was very disappointed to realize (only at the very end of the book) that I had accidentally checked out the abridged version of the audiobook. Grr! So I can only assume I would have enjoyed it even more if I had listened to the unabridged version. I also wished that the story had gone on into Henry VII's reign. So much build-up to Margaret finally reaching the throne and then the story is just over....more
I loved this second installment in the Leviathan trilogy, which continues following Deryn (a young soldier in the British Air Service posing as a boyI loved this second installment in the Leviathan trilogy, which continues following Deryn (a young soldier in the British Air Service posing as a boy in order to serve) and Alek (secret heir to the Emperor of Austria and son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose recent assassination was the instigating event that led to World War I) as they reach Istanbul on the airship Leviathan and (view spoiler)[succeed in helping the local rebels insight a coup against the Klanker(Germanic)-influenced government (hide spoiler)].
In this series, Westerfeld has created a wonderful alternate history filled with walking mechs and bioengineered airships. He has fantastic characters, plot, and dialogue. In Behemoth, I particularly love Bovril, the perspicacious loris. And I love Deryn's continued cosplay deception and how it effects her relationship with Alek. So good!!...more
I feel like the conclusions of short stories are often a bit underwhelming. This one was so for me. This story tells of a house wronged and how the suI feel like the conclusions of short stories are often a bit underwhelming. This one was so for me. This story tells of a house wronged and how the surviving brother and sister (Clay and Weed) live to make amends as adults.
I liked the ambiguity introduced into the situation by Clay's and Weed's different takes on who the mastermind behind the betrayal was. Even Father Odren's (view spoiler)[killing of their mother, at the end, by hugging her and taking her over the cliff with him, doesn't clarify the issue of whether she was guilty or just a pawn in the whole situation because the stone Odrin embraces her. It's unclear whether he is embracing her for love or revenge. (hide spoiler)] I even like how (view spoiler)[Weed simply returns home after the deed is done. She doesn't take her place in the Odren Manor, but returns to her life as a simple farmer's wife. Because it wasn't about the inheritance. It wasn't about standing or power. It was only about setting things right in the world. (hide spoiler)] Yet the pacing or something about that very strong sense of ambiguity, and no clear right answer, at the end just didn't hit the spot for me....more