One thing that really jumped out at me in this re-read, which I'm not sure whether I caught/comment on my first read, is the amount of reRe-read
One thing that really jumped out at me in this re-read, which I'm not sure whether I caught/comment on my first read, is the amount of repetition in this story.
Some of it was the seemingly obligatory reminder of what happened in prior books - which is helpful when you're reading months or years apart, but annoying when reading back to back.
A lot of it, though, is in Xandra's inner thought process. I mean, in the past two books she must've thought, at least a dozen times, how inconveniently grey real life is, and how she wishes she could go back to the comfortable illusion of black/white thinking.
Or how she's a strong person, really, but still enjoys being able to be taken care of and rely on Vex.
Like, I get it... I do... but this are pretty short books, and I don't need to read about her having the same thoughts a hundred freaking times.
That aside - I still enjoyed the series, and Vex is quite yummy. ...more
This was a sweet fairy-tale like story about a wicked witch. About reality versus perception. About magic in nature, and about the importance of hope.This was a sweet fairy-tale like story about a wicked witch. About reality versus perception. About magic in nature, and about the importance of hope.
It has a lot of great characters - especially Glerk, the not so scary bog monster, and Fyrian, the tiny dragon with a severe case of "ooh shiny". And, as a coming of age story, lessons about growing up and accepting things in life that aren't always fair.
But, while I enjoyed it well enough, I did feel it was a bit too long in the tooth for what it was. Things developed a bit too slowly, especially for an MG book, and there was just far too much repetition in scenes. (I don't know. I think I've read somewhere that repetition is good for younger kids, so maybe there's a purpose to it? But it kind of bogged the book down, no pun intended, and a book which should've taken maybe 2 or 3 days tops took over a week to read 'cause I kept putting it down.)
It's a cute story, with lots of strong characters, and good lessons - but the writing could've used a bit more tightening up....more
This wasn't a bad retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses story, adding a curse into the story and making them victims of the dancing as opposed to2.5
This wasn't a bad retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses story, adding a curse into the story and making them victims of the dancing as opposed to willing participants. It expands on the characters and gives it a bit of depth, with a nation at war, corrupt cardinals and charges of witchcraft.
But, for all that, it's a fairly straight forward retelling, and I think I've come prefer stories which take the original story but them put spins on them. Reading this story gave me a new appreciation for The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, for instance.
But it's sweet and charming and keeps its fairy tale feel....more
This was a cute book, and I like the series overall...
But this also felt far too much like a filler book. (I'm also fairly certainly it's the shortestThis was a cute book, and I like the series overall...
But this also felt far too much like a filler book. (I'm also fairly certainly it's the shortest book in the series, and that, to me, just lends credence to the fact that this is a filler book.)
Not to say stuff doesn't happen, but we're left almost exactly in the same place we were at the start, with some minor changes, and all those changes seem poised to set us up for the next book... and that's about it.
The good news was that it was a quick read, and I popped it out in a day. I am looking forward to the next book - though I'm also somewhat glad the series is wrapping up.
I liked Mr. Mercedes a good deal. I thought it was one of the better King books I've read, outside of Dark Tower and a few others. (Maybe I'm just morI liked Mr. Mercedes a good deal. I thought it was one of the better King books I've read, outside of Dark Tower and a few others. (Maybe I'm just more a mystery/thriller person than horror... )
But I was a bit hesitant to start this book because hubs had informed me that the titular trilogy hero - i.e. Bill Hodges - is absent for a good part of this book.
He shows up somewhere in the 40% realm.
But I'm glad I knew this going in... and so I pass on the savings to you, as it were.
The first 40% of this book sets up the stories and backstories of Morrie and Peter. This is really their story, of which Hodges only comes in towards the end.
It's also only partially related to the events of the first book - more in the character way than the actual way, except for one particular - and admittedly important - aspect.
Knowing that did help, I think, but that didn't help with the fact that it's still a slow set-up. I mean, the first, like, 62% of this book is all build up and backstory. And, like, there was definitely some character development, but I felt like around the 40% part, along with meeting up with Hodges and Holly again, we also kind of hit a wall for development, and I felt like Roland rolling his fingers in that "move it along" gesture.
Of course, this has often been a complaint of mine with King. I feel like he tells good stories, and develops good characters, but he doesn't seem to know when to stop and just finish the fucking story.
The ending was really good. Tense and fun.
Ok, fun's probably not the right word. But King built in a lot of synchronicity in this story and ah-ha moments, and it was cool to see them finally resolve when Morrie - and with name like Morrie he's got to be the antagonist* - had come so close to stumbling onto them so many times.
But, yes, the ending was tense and made a great little movie in my head - which is why this is a 3-stars instead of less - but I still feel like a good 50 pages could've been cut for the first two/thirds of the story.
That said - it also does set up the next, and final, chapter well, so there's that.
* With apologies to hubs for the theft/paraphrasing of his cleverness. :)...more
I bought this version mostly for the Riddell illustrations, which I enjoyed, but I was a little disappointed that I'd seen them all online before, and there weren't any ones I hadn't seen. But that's really not the books fault at all.
As I said in my original review, each chapter is a snippet of Bod's life, and is almost like reading a series of short stories. That said, it did feel a bit more... complete to me this time than it did the first, I think.
I like Liza a bit more this time around, but was a little more annoyed with Silas, too. (view spoiler)[It's hard to describe why. Maybe because I felt bad for Bod and wished Silas was a bit more... available. But, then, I think that's just a raw bone that hits close to home, so... (view spoiler)[
I usually try to give it longer - the unofficial rule I set was 35% - but I opened it to read today and was just like:
OtherCalling it quits at 11%.
I usually try to give it longer - the unofficial rule I set was 35% - but I opened it to read today and was just like:
Other reviews have detailed what they found wrong with the story. There's a lot of research into the time period, and info-dumpy paragraphs about said details, but the story - the characters - had no heart. No soul.
There was no *life* to the story. Just detail.
I've read too many reviews from people who finished which suggest that if this is an issue, it doesn't get better... so I'm just calling it quits, 'cause I give zero fucks about what's going on.
The first time I read this book I only gave it a 3. I liked it much better this second time around. I've developed a better appreciation for Vimes andThe first time I read this book I only gave it a 3. I liked it much better this second time around. I've developed a better appreciation for Vimes and his trials and travails than I had when I was a bit younger...
I'd also forgotten how early Lady Ramkin was introduced into the guard books. For some reason I didn't think she came into the story until later - but I think that may be because I may have read them out of order.
And of course the Patrician is always a pleasure. The scenes with him and the rats was great fun. Thanks to the mini-series of Going Postal, the Patrician is forever Charles Dance in my mind. :>
And this was the first book, I think, where the Librarian really had a substantial role.
Granted, this didn't have as many noteworthy quotes as some of his other books - there were a few, of course, because there always are - but the story and characters, overall, is definitely up there on the list....more
Reread of Coraline, mostly to partake of Riddell's wonderful illustrations. (I have a quibble about the illustrations, though - namely the placement.Reread of Coraline, mostly to partake of Riddell's wonderful illustrations. (I have a quibble about the illustrations, though - namely the placement. They would put an illustration from each chapter at the start of the chapter, but their placement ended up being a bit spoilery. Wasn't a huge issue for me, being as I've read it before, but I definitely think they didn't think the choice through very well.)
This will never be one of my faves of Gaiman's. I like the story well enough, especially the last few chapters, but it's written in a straightforward style and doesn't have much of his signature 'voice' which I love in his story telling.
I think this might be one where the movie actually expands on the story a bit, to be honest. Probably more a 2.5 than pure 3....more
Unlike some others, I wasn't really overly excited about this book coming out... or about the existence of the play at all.
Especially once I'd heardUnlike some others, I wasn't really overly excited about this book coming out... or about the existence of the play at all.
Especially once I'd heard that Rowling didn't even write it. And then I heard the play was split into two parts, and I was like, "Well, that seems unnecessary" and then they announced this and I was like, "Well, I guess I have to read it"...
That said... my lack of upfront interest in the story didn't really stop me being supremely annoyed with it - and with Rowling for signing off on it. I don't care what she says, this reads like bad fanfiction and nothing you do or say will make me accept it as canon.
As others have said, the characterizations are fairly terrible. They are mere shadows of their true selves. I mean, yes, I understand that people will change in 19 years... but to change so dramatically that they would do or say things that make no sense for their characters and their history?
No, this is simply not acceptable.
And that's not to mention the absurdity of the plot, the "twist", and the canonical issues.
The rest of this rant will be about specifics about the story, and instead of worrying about what's a spoiler and what isn't, I'm just going to mark everything as a spoiler from here on out:
(view spoiler)[So first there's the issue of Albus. I didn't care for him. At one point I was reminded of OotP - or "Harry Potter and the Years of Angst" or "Harry Potter and the Year Everyone Wanted to Smack Him".
Harry, though, had two advantages:
1) We had already come to know and love the character, and so were, perhaps, more willing to forgive. 2) We found out there were mitigating circumstances to his behavior - i.e. sharing headspace with Voldie.
Albus has no such chances.
Mostly, I just didn't get why he had such a massive chip on his shoulders... and I feel like I ought to. I mean, I, myself, am the black sheep in my family, the one who has little in common with the rest of my family, who feels misunderstood and put out and my parents have told me that they didn't know where I came from. So, yeah, I feel like I should get Albus - but I don't. And I can only say that comes down to bad writing. Because he's never believably sympathetic and he starts off annoying from the get go.
Now, like many others, I liked Scorpius a lot, in all his pseudo-Hermionishness. But hubby pointed out that Scorpius was very rarely proactive in this story, and seemed to be more of a counterpoint to Albus. Most everything actually revolved around Albus, though, and it would've been nice for Scorpius to have some of his own agency. (I did appreciate, though, when Scorpius calls Albus out on his shit and was like, "Dude, we just destroyed the world... could you seriously table your daddy issues, because this is bigger than you!" (Paraphrasing. Obviously.))
Also, he belongs in Hufflepuff. Which is not a slight in the least - he just doesn't seem like he belongs in Slytherin. Like, at all. I mean, I can buy Albus there a bit, what with the whole 'thirst to prove himself' and all. But not Scorpius.
Throughout the years, after Deathly Hallows, Rowling has given us glimpses into life after the stories.
She has stated that McGonagall did not stay on as headmistress long after the Battle of Hogwarts, because she was becoming a bit long in the tooth.
She has said that Kingsley Shacklebolt became Minister of Magic, and Hermione "went back to Hogwarts to pass the NE.W.T.S. after which she worked in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures while also continuing to work for S.P.E.W. and the rights of non-humans everywhere. She then became the Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and helped Kingsley Shacklebolt eradicate antiquated pureblood laws."
Of course, none of that matters to these people, who had Hermione as Minster of Magic (?!) and McGonagall still as Headmistress these many years later.
Also, the way that they all treated each other - Harry, Hermione and McGonagall I mean. McGonagall scolded Hermione like she was a student still (and presumed to think she could tell the Ministry how to behave), and Harry was rude to McGonagall! Ginny was barely present, except to be a sounding board for Harry, and to scold him when he was having trouble connecting to Albus.
And poor Ron. I mean, Ron was never my favorite character - but this story makes him completely bumbling. In one of the alternate timelines, while he's a fucking freedom fighter no less, he's scared of the thought of fighting a child, and pulls his wand out the wrong way? I mean, FFS!
Rose is barely in the story, and there's no mention of Teddy or Victoire or any of them at all.
Speaking of which...
One of the revolving points of this story is that Albus is sorted into Slytherin, and his only friend is Scorpius.
Except I find it completely unbelievable that a member of the Potter-Weasley clan would be just left adrift, Slytherin or not!
I mean, I also find it hard to believe that McGonagall wouldn't work to alleviate some of the prejudice against Slytherin, and while prejudices don't disappear, I was disappointed in the way Slytherin was still treated as the "bad house".
But, I mean, hell... none of the Weasley's could stand Percy, but he was still family and they treated him as such!
Where was I?
As for the plot itself...
Where to start?
First, with a sort of minor plot/canon thing. Polyjuice potion.
This potion is used at least once and mentioned a few more times - but without holding to any of the canon of its use. For one, it's used to change into people, on the fly, but those people would have no way of having anything of the people they were turning into, so it's impossible that it would've worked.
And then, later in the story, Albus suggests using Polyjuice again and that he's sure a local house will have the ingredients and he can just nip in there and brew up a batch.
Except polyjuice is a notoriously difficult potion, this kid if no fucking Hermione, and oh, by the way, it takes a month to brew!
And Hermione is there and is like, "No, that won't work, because we don't have anything from the person to use" (because now that matters), but doesn't mention, "Oh, by the way, it takes a month to brew!"
(Ok, that's arguably a minor thing, but it really bothered me.)
Now, onto the worst parts of the plot:
In a now deleted post from Pottermore, Rowling mentions her sort of regret for introducing Time Travel in Prisoner of Azkaban:
Clearly she "Changed her mind", but we would all be better off if she had stuck to her guns. Because this...
Ok, first off there's the convenient appearance of not one, but two, unique and differently functioning Time Turners.
Then there's the idea that changing small things in the past can hugely alter the present... but then meddling some more will revert everything back to "normal" without any change whatsoever. (Not to mention that when there was time travel in PoA it was of the variety that "what happens has always happened" - like when Harry saw himself make the Patronus in the "first" iteration, and then knew he could do it in the second because he had "already done it". The time travel rules for the world are completely different for this story than they were in PoA.)
And then there's the blasphemy of what they did to poor Cedric.
Part of their plan to "save Cedric" is to go back in time and stop him from winning/tying the Triwizard Tournament. So they go back and "humiliate" him... and apparently this is enough to turn Cedric into a Death Eater.
Yes, boys and girls... they turned Cedric-fucking-Diggory into a goddamned Death Eater.
And that's not even the worst part of the book.
No, for that we come to the "twist" that Voldemort had a daughter.
Voldemort. Had a Daughter.
VOLDEMORT. Had sex.
With Bellatrix - who was apparently pregnant and gave birth right before the Battle of Hogwarts, except that no one, including Draco, had any fucking clue.
This is. Without a doubt. The most ridiculous. Fucking. Thing. EVER!
Entering the reread of this one, I didn't really remember a single thing about the story. The only thing I knew was that this was never one of my favoEntering the reread of this one, I didn't really remember a single thing about the story. The only thing I knew was that this was never one of my favorites.
I think I enjoyed it more on the reread than I did on my first go around, though it probably still won't be one of my faves. It won't be in the bottom tier, either.
This is pretty much a standalone in the series. I don't believe we ever encounter Teppic again - or, if we do, I don't recall it just now - but it's also a companion piece with Small Gods (which is one of my faves) because both deal with life outside of the usual places and also, more importantly, deal with the realities of faith and gods and religion - not all of which go well together.
There were some really nice quotes from this book, and I did find it an enjoyable and interesting read.
(As a side note, I'm note sure I got the sound-joke of Djelibeybi the first time, and now I'm wondering how in the hell I would've missed it!)
Definitely the best in the series, for me, so far, it was also the most intense, as this entry follows a serial killer. Not just follows, but we get cDefinitely the best in the series, for me, so far, it was also the most intense, as this entry follows a serial killer. Not just follows, but we get chapters from the killers perspective, reminding me almost of a Stephen King level of dwelling on the grotesque and gore.
Of course, as with all of Rowling/Galbraith's books, the focus is on the characters as much as the crime. It is my enjoyment of reading about Strike and Robin and their partnership which brings me back to this series more so than the plot elements - but this felt, to me, to be the first book which more readily balanced those two aspects of the story.
Of course, the fact that this case is so personal to Strike, and to Robin, helped blend those two spheres more readily than the other stories.
Here we get more about Robin's backstory - which she dropped out of college and took an aggressive driving course. Herein lies, perhaps, my main quibble about the story - I'm a bit tired of the (view spoiler)[(hide spoiler)] trope. On the other hand, I felt Rowling handled it very well. It wasn't a throw away like it often is in the trope. It was realistically explored, and it was not used, thankfully, as a means for motivating Strike.
Another quibble is that there were some slow parts to the story, which felt very repetitive. This was during the 'lull' part every case is required to have, which they are staking out various targets without any real clues to lead them in one direction or another. They're also short of funds - because a PI can't not have money troubles. Of course.
But, anyway, during the lull of the story, we spend more time in Strike's and Robin's personal minds, and it just started to get way too repetitive and circular for a while...
Anyway - we also get more Strike backstory, as each of his three suspects for the crimes are people who have personal grudges with him from the past. Rowling weaves the story of Strike and Robin's investigations through the chapters from the killer's perspective, leaving clues and red herrings along the way, as we get sucked up into theories and counter theories, and never seeing quite enough of the killer to guess out of hand who it might be.
And we see a bit more of Robin and Matthew together in this story, as Robin is preparing for her wedding, and also dealing with the case and being a target in it. All I can say without getting too spoilery is that I never liked Matthew - and now I out and out hate him - and I sort of hate Galbraith a little for that cliffhanger of an ending! (The cliffhanger relates to the personal side of the story, not the killer side of it.)
I liked the chapters dealing with Strike and Robin's relationship as partners. (view spoiler)[I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of Strike and Robin getting together. While I really, really *hate* that she seemed to marry Matthew at the end, I also agree with Strike that I think a S/R relationship would be doomed. I don't know, though. At first I was annoyed. I mean, why can't a man and woman work together without it ever being platonic in stories? But the more it seemed like it was going to happen, the more I ended up rooting for it... So I'm not opposed to it, but I do hope the will they/won't they doesn't start dominating the story. (hide spoiler)]
A bit of a warning, though.
I mentioned before that the chapters from the killer's perspective border on King levels of grue and sadism. They are also potentially very disturbing and triggery, because this story is about misogyny in its worst forms. There are issues of rape, child abuse, domestic violence, prostitution, and a whole sort of ways that women are treated badly, and it's sometimes described in more detail than people will be comfortable with.
I did not think this devolved into the gratuitous or lascivious - at least not on the part of the readership. I never felt like Rowling used any of the abuse to be secretly titillating, the way I felt about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I know some reviewers did, and I'm giving fair warning to people who think that they may not be able to handle somewhat graphic descriptions of violence towards women....more