Reminded me A LOT of those Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories books; had a similar feel and those twist endings, brought back what I loved about those as aReminded me A LOT of those Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories books; had a similar feel and those twist endings, brought back what I loved about those as a kid. Wanted a little more, but still really liked it, and LOVED the art. Full review to come....more
I've actually had this all but finished for weeks, but got distracted and realized that I hadn't finished up the last few pages or so (oops). DefiniteI've actually had this all but finished for weeks, but got distracted and realized that I hadn't finished up the last few pages or so (oops). Definitely enjoyed. Full review (and an interview with its ghostly narrator) to come. =)...more
Though I have pet peeves with this series, it still always wins me over. And the addition of Myrnin has pretty much guaranteed I'll read these no mattThough I have pet peeves with this series, it still always wins me over. And the addition of Myrnin has pretty much guaranteed I'll read these no matter how many pet peeves they tick......more
Myrnin. It's all about Myrnin for me. (These 2 have not been my favorites, for the most part, but they always pull it together, and I always enjoy theMyrnin. It's all about Myrnin for me. (These 2 have not been my favorites, for the most part, but they always pull it together, and I always enjoy them - but Myrnin makes anything worth it.)...more
I'm sorry, I just can't with this book anymore. If I force it, I'm gonna really hate it, and I just don't feel like ranting at the moment, so... on toI'm sorry, I just can't with this book anymore. If I force it, I'm gonna really hate it, and I just don't feel like ranting at the moment, so... on to the next!...more
2.5ish territory, but this one has a pretty fluid rating, I think - apt to change depending on my mood.
Okay, Shadowlands...I feel like I would write a2.5ish territory, but this one has a pretty fluid rating, I think - apt to change depending on my mood.
Okay, Shadowlands...I feel like I would write a different review of this every day of the week. Frankly, I'm really torn, and have even held off giving it a rating on Goodreads. Here's the thing: There are going to be people that are so shocked and amazed by the way this ends that they'll love it. There are going to be people that are so shocked and dismayed by the way this ends that they'll hate it. There are going to be people that find this gimmicky and disjointed, something that relies too heavily on a twist (and today, at least, that's where my opinion is hovering.)
This is a difficult book to talk about without spoiling something, but essentially, Shadowlands is a contemporary thriller that reads like a movie trying to be a book. And that doesn't really work. Things that work in movies often don't work so well when they're written out because your brain processes them differently. Fog, for instance; fog rolling up right at the opportune (or inopportune) moment, there at the height of tension and then gone - seeing that on a screen works, even if later you think it's cheesy; we sort of process it in the background. But when in writing, it ceases to work because it's being pointed out; you are forced to focus on it, which gives you the time to reflect on it, realize how cheesy it is immediately, roll your eyes, and then begin to question everything. It jars you out of the flow a little, and each time this happens, you get further and further away from connecting with or believing in the story. Things like this, and the unrealistic way characters react and/or interact with each other, kept eating at me. But this is where it becomes tricky, because those same things can actually be kind of interesting by the end.
I spent the first half of this book being really frustrated with damn near everything, laughing and rolling my eyes when I should have been, I don't know, shivering in sympathetic terror, I guess. And then there came a point right about the middle when I thought, you know what would be kind of neat? If this had a twist ending where [big fat spoiler]. And then I started to think that the only thing that could redeem the book and make me look at all of my little annoyances in a different light would be that [big fat spoiler]. But the book kept going on and on, and though things got a little weirder, and then occasionally less-weird, I started to doubt the book would be redeemed. But wouldn't you know it? [Big Fat Spoiler] right there at the very last second. Well, I'll be. And so there is was, the BFS, and I'm sitting there thinking 2 things: 1. This gives the book interesting reread potential, which is funny because I didn't think I'd want to finish it, let alone reread it; and 2. This is going to piss people off. Or maybe amaze them. Or mostly piss them off, but amazingly so.
So it happened, the one thing I thought could maybe save this and make me like it, and for that, I have to kind of smile at Kate Brian and admit that there's a part of me that likes this. But I have to wag my finger at her, too, because she really drew it out to the very last minute, and is it too little, too late? Well...sorta, yeah; there needs to be a balance. In the end, the things I didn't like about it made sense and even seem almost necessary, but to get to a place where it works, readers have to make it all the way to the end. In an often-frustrating book, that may not always happen.If this weren't fairly engaging and quick, I probably would have given up on it, and I never would have known that things worked for the world. You have to give the reader a reason to go with it, and if you don't, it doesn't matter how snazzy or perfectly-suited your twist ending is. If you give me piece of pie and the first few bites taste like crap (or even just bland and pedestrian), you can't be surprised when I don't want to finish it, even if you insist that the last few bites will totally change my mind. I want the whole slice to be good, dammit. There are a lot of calories in pie. Each bite should be worth it.
I've gotten offtrack.* What I'm trying to say is, I'm TORN. A twist ending is 10% of a book, tops. I need to care about the other 90%, too. So, yes, part of me likes this in hindsight, and even thinks it will make for an interesting reread; but part of me thinks it's just silly and slapdash, and full of really unlikable characters and unlikely events, that is hastily (but interestingly) pulled together in the end. Personally, I could have done with a lot fewer cliches and a lot more slow-burning thriller. There could still have been unlikable or questionable bits that click into place in the end, but with something more worthy to pull me along. But this would make a good movie, I think, and I have to wonder if perhaps it was written to be? A lot of authors seem to be writing things with the goal of having it optioned and potentially making bank on a franchise, and though that's another pet peevish trend I do want to discuss someday, I'm not going to use Shadowlands as a platform to do so. In the end, this book is truly going to come down to each individual reader, and I find it nearly impossible to predict which side of the fence any one person will fall on. Maybe it comes down to whether you figure out twists waaaay too f*cking far in advance (like me =/) or whether they sneak up on you. I dunno. I will go so far as to say that I'm curious enough about the setup for the rest of the series - and more specifically, the main character's reaction to it - that I may even read book 2. So there's that. But there are a lot of pages in a book. Every page should be worth it.
See, it all comes back around...
OH! OH! OH! AND: This cover? Pretty much nothing to do with the book.
*Have you guys ever noticed how many food metaphors I use? Lest you think I'm some binge-eating, calorie-counting, obsessive foodie**: 1. for a long time I thought I was going to be a chef; 2. everyone eats. Food is something we can all relate to, so it's a good go to. At least, that's what I'm going to tell myself the next time I compare a book to food. **Okay, I sort of am an obsessive foodie. But not of the binge-eating type, and certainly not of the calorie-counting type. shudder....more
If I don't shout maybe I can save myself, save the rest of us. But I don't know how I can just look on and watch a murder. Can you do that? Can you l
If I don't shout maybe I can save myself, save the rest of us. But I don't know how I can just look on and watch a murder. Can you do that? Can you look on and do nothing? It feels like I ought to do something. It feels like all of this was because we all just stood by and did nothing, in the before time, in the time when we had every flipping day to sort out all the Connors and all the Jases and all the Lucases ever born.
I went into this with some trepidation, because I think we'd all agree, this is a tricky subject to take on. To make this powerful and meaningful, to show the horror of the situation, but also any hope - slim hope, slim humanity - to avoid sensationalism and finger-pointing...it all just seemed like too much to ask. And briefly in the beginning, I was worried that it was going to be too much to ask. But Mussi somehow pulls it off, despite all of the times it could have gone wrong. Siegeis powerful and effecting and so very, very horrific, but I never felt like Mussi was just going for shock-value or trying to fulfill a quota on bleak atrocities.
But my god, her success with Siege makes this a hard review to write. When I finished the book - in the middle of the night, mind you - I wanted nothing more than to just get up and record a vlog for you guys, a sort of impressions video, 1/2 review, 1/2 discussion. Because frankly, I needed to talk it out. But as it was the middle of the night, and as I was essentially a shattered mess, that didn't seem like the best idea. But now I'm stuck wondering how do I write about this? How do I discuss this without being raw, and without giving too much away?
What makes this book work so well is Leah Jackson, the smarter-and-braver-than-she-could-have-ever-realized main character. The way the story is filtered through her experiences - who she is, her need to help and fix and save and live - and her fear that her brother may somehow be involved, is what makes the story so powerful. Mussi evolves Leah's character very well throughout the story, from the beginning panic and confusion, through her disgust and her questioning and examining, and all of her realizations and revelations; Leah grows tremendously in a very condensed time frame, and the reader is led along at break-neck speed, thinking the same thoughts Leah does at the same time she thinks them. Leah's adrenaline practically drips off the page. This is a visceral read; it gets you in the guts. My heart pounded - literally pounded - reading this. That just doesn't happen to me. I get butterflies when something is really good, yes, but heart-pounding, physical, nervous anxiety is a rare one for me. And of course the way I felt completely gutted in the end... there was that. All of this happens through Leah and her somewhat stream of consciousness narration, and it makes for a really compelling read.
But this is part of what will make it a very difficult book for some people to read. There is no break from Leah's voice, and she is in the thick of things right from the start. There are no little side jaunts with other characters, no forays into the outside world for reactions - nothing to give the reader a break from the relentless anxiety and stress that Leah is under, both physically and mentally. Leah witnesses a lot of things no one should have to witness, and is forced to contemplate things or act on things that no one should have to face. I wouldn't call Siege gratuitous, necessarily, and I don't think Mussi descended into sensationalism and useless violence, but she doesn't flinch away from the true horrors of a situation like this. But I think everything is done with an eye to being honest to the story and the situation, and (more importantly) to the whole of the situation, all of the little things that lead to something like this. Most readers will know within pages - if not even before they start the book - whether Siege is the right type of read for them, but for those that can handle it, I think they'll find it a really compelling read with a lot of fascinating gray area to explore. And I think they'll find it surprisingly - perhaps uncomfortably - relatable.
I will say, I was really, really leery of the use of government presence in this. There came a point early on where I started to have suspicions, and as I was slowly proven right, I kept asking myself whether this weakened the story or strengthened it. I don't want to give anything away, but there's an element of the Grand Government Conspiracy here, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it (sadly, scarily) is believable for the world that has been set up. Even more sad and scary, is that there are definitely people who believe these Grand Government Conspiracies are happening here and now in relation to shootings. Seriously. Google "Sandy Hook conspiracy theories" and you'll see what I mean. So even though this particular instance is believable and works for the story, and even though it sort of parallels the way people search to impose meaning on senseless acts, I could never really decide if I felt it was a necessary element, and whether it added or detracted from the central issues of the story. It worked in the end, and maybe even won me over; I think Mussi certainly handled it better than many would. But I think there are readers who are going to find it one thing too much in a book that already begins as a struggle for some to read.
The only other thing I want to touch on - and that, only briefly - is the ending. I really can't say much because I don't want to give a single itty, bitty thing away, but I think some readers will be very bothered by at least one aspect of the ending - and really, there are a few to choose from. Personally, I was not bothered, and it's one of the things that had me sitting up late into the night, talking myself down from the book, and thinking that it would make for a really intriguing group or book club read. In some respects, I think things happened in the only way they really could, but at the same time, the end leaves so much to talk about and think over, and - if you're brave enough - feel, and after all the stress and tension of the book, these last few twists of the knife might be a bit too much for some readers. Personally, I think feeling it is good; being bothered by it is good. This is a book to be discussed, not reviewed.
[And I'm going to be completely honest with you and tell you that, not only did I have a really good cry when I finished (an interesting book-cry, not just sad, but sort of drained and hollowed out), but I also teared up a few times writing this review, as it all came back to me. It's not just the things that happen in the book, but the way Mussi makes you feel, and the way a story like this - at least for me, an American woman who hears about these things far too often, and who for a long time intended to be a teacher - really hits home.] ...more
I'm always on the lookout for fairy tale retellings that take on lesser-known and lesser-used tales, so of course when I heard there was a Bluebeard rI'm always on the lookout for fairy tale retellings that take on lesser-known and lesser-used tales, so of course when I heard there was a Bluebeard retelling, I was all over that. Fortunately for me, Strands of Bronze and Gold didn't disappoint. Jane Nickerson has placed the "Bluebeard" tale in antebellum South, using a Southern Gothic style to create a retelling that is gorgeously atmospheric and lush. More on why I loved that, plus a touch of controversy, HERE....more