On the back cover, one of the blurbs (from Family Circle) is something along the lines of "For those of you who like romance with your totalitarian goOn the back cover, one of the blurbs (from Family Circle) is something along the lines of "For those of you who like romance with your totalitarian government". Which is ... interesting.
It probably is better than The Selection, with which I've seen it compared a lot. But part of this is that I don't actually think Matched is from the "Bachelor" stream of dystopia, even though it looks like it should be. It's actually from the "Survivor" stream. I have a blog post about this brewing, even though I don't think it's all that original an idea.
For the moment I'll leave it there. Perhaps once I've worked up my blog post it will all make more sense. ...more
Margaret Atwood did it before you and better than you.
It's not that this isn't an enjoyable book, it's just that it's very definitely derivative, andMargaret Atwood did it before you and better than you.
It's not that this isn't an enjoyable book, it's just that it's very definitely derivative, and I read The Handmaid's Tale in 1995 or 1996, and that's a long time for the absolute brilliant perfection of that particular idea to be in my head.
That said, this book isn't written for people who've read Handmaid's Tale, it's for those who aren't quite there yet. So it probably isn't fair of me to compare.
For me, though, the world building isn't *quite* there. There's so much that could be interesting, but it hasn't quite been developed. And delightful as it is, the Countesses and Ladies and Duchesses and etc, make very little sense, given current politics, the UK no longer having any real cultural influence, etc. ...more
Looking at my AWW list, I have at least five other books (beyond this one) that I want to review before I finally wrap up and say goodbye to the challLooking at my AWW list, I have at least five other books (beyond this one) that I want to review before I finally wrap up and say goodbye to the challenge for 2012 (and get stuck into the 2013 challenge). But I'm going to start at the end with the book I finished this afternoon: Jane Caro's book about Princess Elizabeth, Just a Girl.
Disclaimer number 1: While I really like Jane Caro's public stance on a lot of things, I got into a twitter tiff with her earlier in December, and there were things in the book that reminded me of other attitudes of hers I have issues with. Except where I mention these issues, I've tried very hard to keep my discomfort with the author away from my review of the book.
Disclaimer number 2: I read a fair amount of Historical Fiction, and am pretty much over Princess and Queen Elizabeth I.
It strikes me as a bold move to write ones first novel about a woman so often written about as Princess Elizabeth Tudor. I'll say at the outset that I think this book was better than Alison Weir's travesty of a novel, but not as good as Philippa Gregory's "The Virgin Queen". I haven't yet read Jean Plaidy's Tudor books, so I can't give a comparison there. As I said above, I'm kind of over Elizabeth. She gets written about so often, both in non-fiction and fictional treatments. She has plays and films and I keep reading them (watching them), but to be honest, if this one hadn't been by Jane Caro (who we saw at this year's Write Around the Murray) and if I hadn't needed a quick-ish read to finish off the AWW 2012 challenge, I might not have picked this one up for a lot longer.
It's an interesting structure, all this thinking on the night before Elizabeth's Coronation as Queen. Except for the one element that Caro made up, I know my Elizabeth well enough that nothing is all that new. It just seemed to me that none of the characters lived in the way that they do in Gregory's books - neither Thomas Seymour nor Philip of Spain really seemed all that threatening or skeevey, whereas in Gregory they're that little bit oily. Elizabeth's insecurity next to Jane Grey was an interesting element, and yet Jane was a complete shadow, as was Robin Dudley, sadly. Overall, I wanted it to be better than I felt it was.
One thing kept throwing me out of the story: each time one of Caro's characters - particularly Elizabeth herself - preached religious tolerance. I found it sad that Caro's characters could manage what she has not been able to herself (she's fond of insulting the mere concept of being a person of faith, or certainly it seemed that way at Write Around the Murray and on Twitter,) particularly when I think her depiction of Elizabeth's tolerance was a little broader than it was in reality.
As with another recent read, if Goodreads had half stars, I'd be making use of them here. It would be 3 1/5 stars if it could be, but I just couldn't bring myself to up the level to four....more
It would be 3 1/2 stars if Goodreads had half stars. Just saying.
Although I knew of this book from the collection at the High School where I used to wIt would be 3 1/2 stars if Goodreads had half stars. Just saying.
Although I knew of this book from the collection at the High School where I used to work, but it wasn't until two American friends began talking about it as a book that dealt with polyamory and queer relationships that I got more interested. (I'd thought it also went into trans, but was wrong about that.)
Pina is a teenage girl growing up in Adelaide. Her Italian-Australian family is familiar to me from Melina Marchetta's first book (by which I don't mean it's the same family, but the structure and the overwhelmingness of community that I've never had in real life is recognisable between the two books.) There are firm ideas about what is right and what is wrong. But on the day the book starts, Pina discovers that her mother has been doing something "wrong" for many many years.
I found Pina difficult to deal with as a narrator and as a character: she was judgmental in a way that put me off. I was a pretty sheltered teenager, but I don't remember being as... straight-laced as she seems to be. I don't know: I suppose my point is, this book gets into some pretty deep stuff, but a lot of the treatment of said deepness was just a bit - shallow.
I wanted to love this book but it all began to feel a little too much show-your-research for me. As the various characters and situations were revealed, it just felt a little contrived. (Also throwing me out of the story was someone from Shepparton describing himself as Murri. I know you accept people's own identifications, but Shep is in the heart of "Koori" country - Murri is way further north.)
Again, I think my problem was I wanted to love this book more than I did love it....more
Somehow I've deleted two initial versions of this review without meaning to. Anyway:
Loved it. Loved, loved, loved.
Mel is an awesome character (Kit isSomehow I've deleted two initial versions of this review without meaning to. Anyway:
Loved it. Loved, loved, loved.
Mel is an awesome character (Kit is even more awesome). I love that Larbalestier and Rees Brennan have made sure that there is non-preachy, incidental inclusion of queer and non-white characters. I don't love the universe quite as much as I love the Blue Bloods-verse, but it's a fascinating concept, and the book plays with so VERY many of the tropes of Vampire fiction it's wonderful.
I would love there to be another book set in New Whitby, to see other aspects of the Shade, and to find out how things are going with Kit and Mel. And Cathy and Anna and even with Francis, I suppose....more
Deservedly or otherwise, Puberty Blues is a classic of Australian writing. In some cases it's known because it's notorious - for its portrayal of sex,Deservedly or otherwise, Puberty Blues is a classic of Australian writing. In some cases it's known because it's notorious - for its portrayal of sex, of gender relationships in a particular place and time, for lifting the lid on gender inequalities and gendered behaviours in the southern beachside suburbs of Sydney in the 1970s.
It's the sort of book that many of my peers read in high school, much closer to the age of the protagonists Debbie and Sue than I am. However, I'm really glad that I didn't read it when I was a teenager, as it would probably have scared me even more about high school, peer pressure, and the travails of adolescence than I already was. Reading it now, I'm still horrified by everything the girls go through; horrified by their acceptance of what the boys put them through, horrified by the boys actions and opinions. Thankful that it bears no resemblance to my own adolescence whatsoever.
I did find myself confused by the point of view at times. I found Debbie and Sue difficult to distinguish, and there were certain switches from first person to third and back again that confounded me.
A further point in relation to the particular edition I read. It's the first British edition, so I don't actually know how I got it at the Pan Macmillan firesale (where I got it for 50c). It has two forewords written by Germaine Greer and Kylie Minogue, who are basically chosen for being fellow Aussies who are well known in Britain (as is one of the co-authors, Kathy Lette)....more
**spoiler alert** When I finished this book, I hugged it because I couldn't hug the characters themselves. And then five days later, when the news cam**spoiler alert** When I finished this book, I hugged it because I couldn't hug the characters themselves. And then five days later, when the news came through that the Australian Girl Guides were changing the wording of the promise, I wondered what Henry would think of it.
Dear, dear Henry. And Sophie! And Veronica! And Julia!
This whole series has been brilliant.
I mean, okay. This book is totally in my area of love, and the characters are so brilliant, and I have to say, if they'd just sent Henry to the Chalet School as they should have done, she'd still be alive because they'd never have allowed her to join the WRENS at that point. I almost want to try that out, in fact. (But that'd be admitting to writing fic, wouldn't it?)
I gave my mother "A Brief History of Montmary" a week ago, and she's now demanding the next two books. Which is at it ought to be.
I adored "FitzOsbournes at War", I mean, I really adored it. Part of it is that when I look at the list of references I've read most of them, and other parts of it is that I know this era quite well. And yet it's also that Cooper brought us along, even thought I knew someone was going to die, but made me cry when it was Harry. Made me get to the end of the book and hug the book, because I couldn't hug the characters. Made me adore these people, made me want them to get back their fictitious island, made me hate the Nazi use of Spain even more than I already did, made me want victory for Montmaray while knowing that it didn't even exist.
It was awesome. It needs to be read. I will re-read, over and over again. And I will probably even write fic. No finer accolade exists. Michelle Cooper, you are awesome....more
I'm a book behind with this series. My twitter feed has been full of people reviewing the third book (and loving it) so I know that I've got somethingI'm a book behind with this series. My twitter feed has been full of people reviewing the third book (and loving it) so I know that I've got something good still to come.
I adored the first book (although my Goodreads review might not seem like it, I did give it five stars), and I equally adored the second book. I also got a laugh out of the fact that while reading it, I was wondering whether Cooper had used particular sources, and when I got to the end, yes, she had. :-) There is so much to love in this book: Henry, who is just plain awesome, Simon the mostly stalwart, Veronica the Magnificent, especially when speaking to the Foreign Secretary's Office, and later in her final big scene... I can't wait to see how Colonel Stanley-Ross' character develops in the next book, and I have to admit that if he wasn't already married and ridiculously too old for Sophie, I'd be shipping the two of them right now.
Which brings me to Sophie. The wonderful, strategic, clever, and far too good for the fluffiness of débutante society Sophie. The line I quoted in a status update about feeling like a one-person League of Nations is marvellous, and I can just imagine her, in Geneva, meeting Edith Campbell Berry and the two of them getting along like a house on fire.
I hope I find a reasonably priced copy of FitzOsbournes at War sooner rather than later, because it's a while until the British edition is released, and I don't like the cover of that one nearly as much as the Australian version....more
The back of the book tells us that Mercy is a fallen angel, and there are hints here and there within the text, especially if you know your angelologyThe back of the book tells us that Mercy is a fallen angel, and there are hints here and there within the text, especially if you know your angelology (yes, it's a word, I had cause to look it up some years ago when I found myself reluctantly dragged into a discussion on the TV show "Supernatural", which I don't watch). But by the end of the book, I don't believe it's been said outright that we're dealing with angels here. And I wonder how many people would realise that we were if the blurb didn't tell us so. It's not a criticism, mind you. Just a note.
I really enjoyed this book. Although I'd seen it in the stores I probably wouldn't have thought to pay much attention to it if Rebecca Lim (the author) hadn't been a speaker at a seminar on Public library services to YA that I went to. I was so impressed by her, and by what she said about this series, that I started buying the books soon thereafter. It took until January to find a copy of the first in the series (Mercy) and then until now to get to picking it up and reading it. But it was well worth the wait, and now I know that I'm going to want to stay on top of this series in the future. In addition, can you imagine how gleeful I am that I have three more books in the series to read *right now*?
In an interview I found, Lim described Mercy as "a YA mystery/crime novel – but with angels and Latin, choral music, school bullies and a whisper of romance thrown in." Which is basically exactly what it is. (And yay for YA books where choral music - albeit Mahler - is part of the plot.)
Things I loved: the way Mercy talked about Carmen: the sometimes disconnected/sometimes fluid connection between the two selves. I hope that if Ryan continues to appear through the series (I really want him to: I much prefer him to Luc. Although of course he may *be* Luc, which I don't like so much. After all, my angelology tells me who Luc really is... :-) ) that we find out what happened with Carmen; I'll be disappointed to leave her story here, as much as I really love Mercy.
Things I found interesting: the fact that I spent most of the book trying to work out whether it was set in the USA or Australia (the author is Chinese-Singaporean-Australian). I still can't tell. I was fifty pages from the end when I found one Australianism (mention of an Anglican church) which was followed on the next page by an Americanism ("First Presbyterian Church" - the few Continuing Presbyterian churches in Australia do not number themselves.) The issue is exacerbated by the fact that the town in the book has the exact same name as the town in the TV show "Bunheads", which is in California....more
Shadow Wave is the final book in a series that has been around for many years, but which I've been reading for the last three. It's a series I absolutShadow Wave is the final book in a series that has been around for many years, but which I've been reading for the last three. It's a series I absolutely adored (despite the fact that it is specifically written for boys as an antidote to all those "girly" books, in which category the author includes Harry Potter). CHERUB has followed James Adams since he was 12 years old, when his mother died and he was taken into care. But then he was spotted by a very, very secret government agency... and that's where the fun began.
Shadow Wave is a great book. It's not up there with my favourite books in the twelve-book series (Divine Madness, Sleepmaker and Brigands MC), but it's in the second rung with The General, The Recruit, and The Fall. It deals with the ambiguity in CHERUB's work that hasn't really happened before (except to a certain extent in Man vs Beast), and is very specifically rooted in time, with its references to the Tsunami. I loved the flashback to an earlier time in Cherub's history, and the reappearance of Kyle. Aizat and Helen are both fabulous characters, and I really love (and appreciate) the time given to Lauren in this book. I rather wish there could be a spinoff series about the girls, especially now that - unless something horrible happens in Grey Wolves, and if it does, I will NOT be happy with Mr Muchamore - we know that Henderson's Boys included a girl. IF I was an actual writer I'd suggest it to Muchamore and offer to write it myself, although I don't think I've got the time, let alone the talent. :-)
Anyway: there's a lot to love about this book. James grows up and starts dealing with the ambiguity inherent in the real world. A bunch of beloved characters return, if only for minor cameos; and there's an awesome sense of adventure to the whole thing (although I have to admit that the end seemed incredibly sudden, and I want to know how Kevin got back IN to the hotel.) (Also I love Zara's response to the whole thing. She would get along so very well with Harry Pearce.)
I think my only real disappointment was that I felt that the end of Brigands MC promised a sequel. Instead, the "sequel" was the first fifty pages and then it went off into a totally different story. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that, given that I really loved Brigands. But you can't have everything, and it really was an awesome finale to this particular series.
The hints about the next series are fabulous - and of course I'm hoping that Henderson's Boys will keep going, too. But I guess that, if Muchamore doesn't continue that series on, there's always fanfic... and I know that HB will have changed my way of looking at bits and pieces of WWII history. Can you imagine the SOE working with Cherub? The fabulous chaos *that* could cause? Awesome......more