A bit uneven (I still have no idea about the maybe-romance-interlude-strangeness-QUESTION MARK part, except that I didn't like it), but I actually fouA bit uneven (I still have no idea about the maybe-romance-interlude-strangeness-QUESTION MARK part, except that I didn't like it), but I actually found myself thinking "is it possible that this was written for me?" on occasion. Seriously despised, scapegoated, former King's blades struggling to keep faith now he's been killed, but their job was to change the world by bringing justice. Can't wait for more....more
Started off a strong four, dipped significantly for a long stretch, came back. So, average 3.5, maybe.
It's entirely possible that this would have beenStarted off a strong four, dipped significantly for a long stretch, came back. So, average 3.5, maybe.
It's entirely possible that this would have been more of a hit if I'd realised the Matthew Swift books came first before reading this, or equally possible it wouldn't. What I do feel fairly certain of is that it would have read better with a good pruning. I really liked Sharon Li, and enjoyed her voice, but there were just too many passages in which she bursts out in frustration about the way everyone expects her to know everything just because she's a shaman, and "that nobody telling me shit shit" and it's entertaining, but a fair amount of it goes a bit too far.
Similarly with the more mystical passages, as, for example, this one:
She could smell the beer-soaked breath of the man who'd left his mark in this place, hear the footsteps of the beggar looking for a place from the cold, the laughter of children playing hide and seek in the park at the end of the alley, smell the coal smoke that had once burned in the chimney stacks of Clerkenwell, see the footsteps that stretched out impossibly behind Sammy, a great long journey at his back, still not complete, and she thought she saw a flash of brilliance as Dez flickered across the surface of her mind, her spirit guide winking lewdly as he passed, and when she looked at the man called Matthew Swift she saw... feet shuffle lonely on cold street too far too far too far splash! bus tyres through the puddle sheet of water drenching the passser-by help us aerial bum with TV signal window rustle with feedback noise
we be light we be life we be fire! hooooowwwwlllll! come be we and be free blood in the stones ...everything.
(I suspect the formatting won't be reproduced perfectly, but close enough.)
Almost all of the characters, especially those in Magicals Anonymous, were fun, and some were very endearing. I was particularly fond of Rhys (the Druid with allergies) and Gretel (the gourmet troll), but Kevin (the OCD vampire) got a bit tedious after a while, and Sammy (the second greatest shaman whose ever lived, by his estimate) was also somewhat one-note.
It was definitely a book that came together well towards the end, however, as the humour was tempered with a greater dose of emotion, and while I might go back to read A Madness of Angels first, I'd also like to read more of Sharon's (mis)adventures with her newly-found tribe. ...more
It was a pity this fell a bit flat towards the end, as the idea was fascinating. Christine's condition wasn't very realistic (a type of amnesia followIt was a pity this fell a bit flat towards the end, as the idea was fascinating. Christine's condition wasn't very realistic (a type of amnesia following trauma that left some of her memories of her childhood intact, allowed her to retain new memories made during the day, but wiped everything clean when she went into deep sleep) but it was easy enough to push that aside and just go with the 'what if' of the set-up. Her extreme vulnerability was made painfully clear, and the realities of keeping a journal for yourself, knowing that you'll find it each day as a complete revelation, also well done. The fact that Christine wasn't always that easy to like didn't cause a particular problem, especially as she found this out about herself too, and admitted at times that she didn't like the person she'd been either.
Unfortunately, I found the end part less engaging, as the tone of Christine's voice got into the "and reader [herself], I love him, and will make the decision to be true" prosaic tone. Followed by a big revelation that wasn't that shocking, though it was very frightening, followed by more "and I love him". Eh.
(As I'm not even attempting anything more than a bitsy write-up, I'll just mention again that I really, really dislike 'fuck' as a verb, which was pretty common in the book.)...more
Finally got around to reading this, after pretty much everyone I know has read and had Thoughts about it. I went in quite skeptical, and sure I'd endFinally got around to reading this, after pretty much everyone I know has read and had Thoughts about it. I went in quite skeptical, and sure I'd end up in floods of tears (her *whole family* dead!) regardless of whether I thought it was good or rubbish, and my reaction was not what I'd expected at all.
What totally won me over - aside from the fact that Forman's prose was good - was the way a total tearjerker didn't go for the maximum hanky requirement, but had a very restrained tone. The structure, with present-time action sections interspersed with (often longer) flashbacks to Mia's previous life, forced a certain amount of detachment. That suited Mia's voice, which was also detached, in perfect keeping with her borderline state of existence. Until the decision is made whether she is staying or dying, she's not experiencing her loss as such, although the potential loss of those who desperately want her to live does seep through to her to an extent. (The only places where I came close to tears too.)
I doubt anyone will be unsure about what happens in the end at this point, but still, stop now if you want to avoid any indication of it. (There's a sequel, which precludes surprise, but I don't think I'd have been in any doubt that Mia lives even without that knowledge.) Anyway, the only time I felt the prose was a bit weaker was the scene in which Mia is slammed back into her body, into living, into pain, and that was probably just that it was a bit overwrought for my taste.
[Completely irrelevant to the book, but I was very pleased to be able to borrow it as an ebook from our library! Took a huge amount of fiddling to get it to work on my iPad, but it's still pretty awesome. Unfortunately the search engine for the digital collection is brutal, reducing me to trying to find things by looking at ALL the SF/fantasy books, and ALL the YA ones. It looks as if there might be one more book there I want to read. Not Where She Went, unfortunately, but that was in the local branch, so easy to get anyway.]...more
Hovering between three and four stars. I liked this one a lot, but my hesitation over the four stars came from the treatment of the wolf-pack's natureHovering between three and four stars. I liked this one a lot, but my hesitation over the four stars came from the treatment of the wolf-pack's nature, especially in the sense of their sexuality. I had problems with the gay best friend in particular, as he was, er, a straight wolf? It just seemed a bit unconvincing. (And I do want my werewolf biology to be realistic!) I really didn't like the results of Kitty's lowest pack member status either. But will read more, as I definitely liked more than I disliked. ...more
I saw this in the bookshops in town and decided to check it out from the library on the basis of a recipe for pumpkin scones. YUM. I'll probably end uI saw this in the bookshops in town and decided to check it out from the library on the basis of a recipe for pumpkin scones. YUM. I'll probably end up buying this, but have already drooled over lots of the recipes (not literally - it's a library book!). Nice photography too....more
I thought the premise of this book was wonderful - linking the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" with the historical story of a girl convI thought the premise of this book was wonderful - linking the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" with the historical story of a girl convicted of theft in 19th century London and transported to New South Wales. The problem I had with it as an enjoyable read was that the protagonist is so naive for so much of the book, and - although it's understandable given her upbringing - a snob and a half, too. That just makes for tough reading, or rather, it makes for a different kind of tough reading. What happens to Hannah after she's abandoned by her worthless father is horrific, and the villains she encounters during her long voyage to Australia are some of the nastiest imaginable. But it still wasn't a book I could say I loved, despite admiring it quite a bit. Will definitely look for other books by the author....more
This rating is not so much an indication of the amount of pleasure I'd have got out of reading this book just for the love of reading children's/YA boThis rating is not so much an indication of the amount of pleasure I'd have got out of reading this book just for the love of reading children's/YA books, as a sense of how well I felt Lane did the job of writing new Sherlock Holmes books for kids who may or may not have read the originals. Of which Lane himself is a huge fan. And I write this as someone who is not a fan, never having read any Sherlock Holmes when I was young, and only the odd story here or there as an adult. So. With that context, I was quite impressed. The book assumed younger readers who are intelligent enough to be interested in the training in deduction Sherlock (at age 14) gets, which is always nice, and the character seems fairly plausible as a young version of the canonical figure. There's no young Watson, correctly, but there is a girl who's suitably independent and brave to offer the glimmerings of a romantic interest - with the knowledge that "something will happen" so they aren't together as adults. Perhaps she will go off with the substitute Watson sidekick, Matty?
The mystery -- and the villain -- were wildly over-the-top, in a way that seems fine for these books, and I enjoyed it enough that having to read the second for History Project purposes is no hardship.
In my historical curmudgeon guise, there was a rather noticable slip about a character's having been from Albuquerque, "in the state of New Mexico", although it's 1868. Oops. However, the slip is fixed early in the second book, which pleased me quite a bit. ...more