4.5 This had a fantastic opener, and was pretty damn solid throughout. Really enjoyed this, and now it makes me want to dig out my copy of Struck, Jen4.5 This had a fantastic opener, and was pretty damn solid throughout. Really enjoyed this, and now it makes me want to dig out my copy of Struck, Jennifer's debut, which has been sitting around on my shelves since it came out, and see if it's as good. ...more
Say "kitchen witch" and I'm there. (Especially when said kitchen witch tells me, personally, that I should eat nasturtiums, which I love...) There's jSay "kitchen witch" and I'm there. (Especially when said kitchen witch tells me, personally, that I should eat nasturtiums, which I love...) There's just something so. . . charming and quirky and endearing in stories around the theme of kitchen witchery, and this was no exception. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it's like magical realism's more universally palatable cousin (and we all know how I feel about magical realism). Think Practical Magic. Just Say Yes is the even more palatable cousin, actually – the kitchen witchiness is subtle, never beating you over the head with quikry magicfulness, which I imagine many people will appreciate.
If you’ve been around for awhile, or follow my Austen event, you’ll probably already be aware that I tend to find Goodnight’s stories equal parts cute, funny, and sexy; they never fail to win me over and put a smile on my face. This was fun and funny and quirky and cute, as expected. There's charm and warmth to her characters, always balanced by a sharp, incisive humor, coated in a veneer of light sarcasm (never bitter or obnoxious, just witty). She seems to do well at fleshing out her casts, too, with great side/peripheral characters that you always want to see more of (which means you’re seeing just the right amount of them – always leave ‘em wanting more, and all that). There’s a great mother/daughter relationship, and other friend and family relationships and interactions that help ground the story and build it up nicely. There were times I questioned Max, the male lead, and whether he’d really be so gung-ho about all of the goings on, and the way Jade consistently pushes him away, but I still think it worked – and frankly, maybe that's my own biases clouding my perception of him. But it was never enough to thrust me out of the story or make me dislike either of the romantic leads, or their relationship.
Speaking of the relationship, which is kind of a central focus in a romance, this one was sexy and fast-building in a way that could go really wrong and feel like it’s fleeting and meaningless, but it managed to keep from going off the rails into cheesy territory. It's – for the most part – believable, and there seems like a solid-enough foundation and chemistry for it to go somewhere after the book has run its course. Goodnight wisely tests the romance and characters, beyond that initial getting-together/will-they-won’t-they. She gives them obstacles, and opportunities to grow stronger together, which is something that really elevates a romance novel for me. It takes it out of the realm of quick fluff, and makes it that much more believable. On top of all that, there’s a good streak of nerdery that pop culture/nerdom fans will appreciate. All in all, I’m glad to hear there's more in the series AND I totally want there to be an offshoot business, with recipes and label designs and all of it.
4.5 Started out a little shaky for me, and also a bit at the end... Bookended by shakiness, but everything in between was very good and very engaging.4.5 Started out a little shaky for me, and also a bit at the end... Bookended by shakiness, but everything in between was very good and very engaging. Can't wait for book 2....more
Holy crap. As you may be able to guess by my fevered updates of the last few minutes, and by the fact that this book finally brought me back to GoodreaHoly crap. As you may be able to guess by my fevered updates of the last few minutes, and by the fact that this book finally brought me back to Goodreads after I haven't updated the things I've been reading since the beginning of this year, I loved this. Need book 3 like YESTERDAY....more
I've mentioned a few times that I've been in a strange reading funk for months now, where I'm really struggling to concentrate on what I'm reading, anI've mentioned a few times that I've been in a strange reading funk for months now, where I'm really struggling to concentrate on what I'm reading, and stick to one book. It's a pretty serious case of Ooh, Shiny Syndrome, so even when I've been really enjoying a book, I've found myself setting it down in favor of giving something else a try (and then liking that, too, and yet putting it down for something shiny, in its turn). It's like some weird avid reader's-version of an auto-immune disease: my TBR is attacking itself*... Though there has been the oddbook that has broken through this happy-reader's malaise, they've been few and far between, and for the love of all things bookishly holy, praise pen-and-ink, this was one of them.
I fell into this story, face-first and whole-heartedly. It's likely a case of the right book at the right time, and who knows how I'd feel about it years down the line, but right now, it gave me exactly what I needed; I'd read it before falling asleep at night, and pick it up again first thing in the morning. The story and the writing flow beautifully, and it has a cast and world I connected to and wanted to explore. I liked basically all of the characters (good, bad, and indifferent), and how they interacted with each other, and I liked that in nearly all of them, there was gray area to explore. They very rarely fall into the trap of being perfect (and perfectly boring), and characters that you think are probably going to stay one dimensional don't —they are explored and become dynamic as Feyre herself grows and learns more about herself and how to let people in and see them for who they really are. I'm VERY eager to see what becomes of some characters in particular, in future books (Rhys, and surprisingly, Nesta, spring to mind), and I may have already begun calculating the days until ARCs of book 2 are likely to become available...
That's not to say it's wholly without flaws (is there such a thing?); it's a little too on the nose where the curse is concerned, for instance. It's all laid out very specifically, which makes it seem contrived (and also makes me question the relationship more than I'd have liked to), and I find that in general, curses and prophesies that are a little more ambiguous in their terms tend to lead to more nuance and interesting interpretations, and more general believability, when they come into play. But things like this (which were minimal and infrequent, honestly), are very much outweighed by the things this book got right. To that end, I love love love LOVE how sexuality is dealt with in this. I always hesitate to talk about presentations of sex being "empowering" because it can sometimes sound belittling and just sort... I don't know, of over the top, I guess? But I really can't think of a better descriptor for Feyre's relationship with sex, and Maas' presentation of it. Feyre is fully comfortable with herself, sexually, and the entire approoach is very mature and thought out without taking away any of the sizzle — and sizzle it does, in doses, but without every sliding into being cheesy or tawdry. The relationship is built believably, and Feyre's sexuality is natural and VERY well done, feminist in the best way. I was consistently happy with how the entire thing played out, and how much agency Feyre has (another buzzword I hesitate to use), especially in a storyline such as this one. I really have to tip my hat (fun point of fact, I am actually wearing a hat right now) to Maas for this.
I thought the fairy tale inspiration was nicely handled, too. It's there, with lots of little easter eggs for those who are looking, but it's not heavy-handed, and doesn't overpower the story. It remains its own thing, a complete fantasy novel on its own, but with a sort of comfortingly familiar feel to it, as a result of being a retelling. Overall, there's really good balance to the story, both as something complete of itself, and as part of something larger; A Court of Thorns and Roses has a good story arc all its own, but also good build up for what's in store for the rest of the series. It left me satisfied, but also wanting more, which is exactly what a book should do — it's basically just well done and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, and I'm eager to see where it goes!
*I should not have to clarify this, but it's the internet, so I feel like I'm probably going to have to: This is a silly, hyperblic comparison, some may even go so far as to call it a joke, and no it is not meant to make light of those who have autoimmune diseases. Or those who've literally had their to-be-read piles turn on them and attack them. [moment of silence] Many papercuts were had that day. ...more
Many of you know how much I loved last year's Tin Star, which I never seemed to stop talking about. If you don'tknow, here's a refresher. As soon as IMany of you know how much I loved last year's Tin Star, which I never seemed to stop talking about. If you don't know, here's a refresher. As soon as I found out there was going to be a sequel, my fingers started itching for it, and it planted its self pretty firmly near the top of my must-haves list. So of course, I was very eager indeed to be part of the Stone in the Sky blog tour, and share my thoughts on this highly-anticipated book with you.
[And since this is a sequel, it should go without saying that there may be spoilers for the first book. I say should because it never ceases to amaze me, the things people will cry 'spoiler!' at...]
Now, it should be said, I'm always a little hesitant going into a follow-up to a book I loved. Sophomore Slump and all that, but the truth is, it's not just hard to capture the things that made me love it in the first place; sometimes it's downright impossible. I think such is the case with a series like this, because what made me love it so thoroughly the first time around was the isolation and cold-fish-ness of Tula, which is slowly chipped away by new connections and a new life forged. You can't really recreate that in a sequel, because Tula is beyond that. So the trick for a sequel, then, is not recreating what I loved, but about giving me something new to love. Castellucci does this by sending Tula out into the Great Unknown, forcing her out of the comfortable niche she's carved for herself on the Yertina Feray, and out of the arms of my favorite alien, Tournour. She's alone again, and in peril, so it echoes her experiences of Tin Star, and allows her to prove herself once again, but it's a new venue, a new set of challenges and goals, and I appreciated that.
I like exploring more of the world(s), and that there are still hard times for Tula and the people she meets. In both Tin Star and Stone in the Sky, Castellucci has not shied away from pain and heartache, and just the stark realities of trying to cobble together a life out of barren, hardscrabble worlds. In some ways, this book goes even darker in the actual subject matter, but because of the things Tula has experienced and the people she finds herself now surrounded by (no longer alone!), there is a strong savor of hope. There's a tenacity about Tula that I absolutely love, and I also love that people she meets admire and respond to it. It's a quality that would be very helpful, if not downright necessary, in such a setting, I would think, and Tula puts it to good use. Even when she's selling herself short or downplaying her own role in things, she makes things happen, she fights for what she wants to happen, and I am a big fan of that. From the very beginning of the first chapter of Tin Star, when Tula is literally fighting for her life, straight through to the end of Stone in the Sky, she never gives up reaching and growing and making things happen -- even when the odds are practically non-existent.
And at the core of the story, Tula is still Tula. I said in my review of Tin Star that part of the reason I love the book and Tula is because "I gravitate towards prickly people and hopeless situations," and Tula gives me that, both in her being somewhat prickly and often in seemingly hopeless situations, but also because I feel like she gravitates toward prickly people and hopeless situations. She doesn't shy away from daunting challenges, and she draws people to her against all odds, and by the time Stone in the Sky comes to a close, Tula has really come into her own. She's grown, but she's still her, in all of her prickly, cold-fishy tenacity that I adored the first time around. The same disclaimers from the first book still apply, in that I don't think this is the book/series for everyone. It is slow, in a slow-burning way that I personally enjoy (so I don't really feel it's slow, but that was the complaint I saw most), and I'm sure some people still just won't connect to Tula or her world. I also felt that there were times, especially as it neared the end, that it felt a little rushed or chaotic, and I actually wished it would have slowed down and lingered over some things. But no book is the book for everybody, and for me, I'll always gladly take more Tula Bane (and Tournour!), and this series that isn't really like anything else out there right now. And I have a feeling that these characters will stick with me for some time to come, and when you fly through things and then promptly forget them, the way I do, saying something's memorable is high praise indeed....more