Three books by Katherine Talbot arrived in the mail today, sent to my daughter by her paternal grandfather. I was confused until I read the enclosed lThree books by Katherine Talbot arrived in the mail today, sent to my daughter by her paternal grandfather. I was confused until I read the enclosed letter, which made me realize that these were books of family lore, books I had only heard of, but had never seen. These are the books which, according to my husband, were written by his cousin when she was only 12 years old. I never really understood why a 12 year old was working for an editor, but I thought maybe unpaid internships in the late 70's in NYC were just the thing for precocious pre-teens.
She was actually 16 when she was working for the editor and signed the contract to produce these books. She had already graduated and been accepted to Harvard, but her parents felt she was too young, so she took a year off and started at 17. The first book was written when she was a freshman, and the second in sophomore and junior years, and the third when she took a year off from university before law school.
I haven't read them, but my understanding is she felt they were formulaic enough that anyone could write them. At least this is part of the story my husband tells, but his details are often not quite correct. In any event, when I do read them as I'm sure I must, I will report back. ...more
This one was pretty good. It had disturbing violence, but wasn't as disturbingly violent as others. It was a prequel and tells how Jack left the Army,This one was pretty good. It had disturbing violence, but wasn't as disturbingly violent as others. It was a prequel and tells how Jack left the Army, so it was interesting from that perspective. He kept emphasizing how it was 1997, but some things seemed a little older than 1997, and probably in rural Mississippi in a poverty stricken area, it makes sense. But VHS players, yeah, people still had those then. DVDs were limited in 1998 and I feel like they didn't take over VHS until the early 2000's. There was the usual negative depiction of fat people, and Jack kills people without the benefit of due process and beats on some too. He doesn't get beat up or hurt in this one, and there was end left hanging. But it was entertaining enough as a political type of thriller....more
I recently came across this book in the used book store and it was in great condition. I thought it would be an interesting if disturbing read, so I bI recently came across this book in the used book store and it was in great condition. I thought it would be an interesting if disturbing read, so I bought it to read on a camping weekend. I honestly don't know much of what happened in Japan around the time of these events. Most of what I've read about Japan in WWII was told from a Chinese or American perspective about Japan's actions, and I didn't actually know much about Japan from a perspective of the Japanese.
Of course, this book was written by an American journalist (who was born to missionaries in China and lived his first ten years there), so there are still limits. I don't really know enough about his voice or his agenda to put it aside, but I felt like he did a good job just reporting the different recollections that people had shared with him. He told the story of several experiences, 2 doctors, a mother of young children, a single woman who worked at a tin factory, a German Jesuit missionary. The description of the day of the attack, and what people were doing was very interesting. It made me want to read more of general life in Japan during WWII, particularly about the B-29 bombings in Tokyo, which were referenced here.
The stories of these survivors doesn't really give the reader a sense of the devastation closer to the epicenter of the attack, but that seems like what a reader would have mostly heard about in reference to nuclear weapons, so this was eye opening for the discussion of things farther away. The author mentioned how far in meters the different people were, and they were far enough away not to be killed in the initial flash, but close enough to die in many other ways. There were numerous stories of many people dying in collapsed buildings and then suffocating or burning to death, dying from radiation sickness, flying glass and debris, infection and flash burns.
The stories intertwine and then go on at length in one direction before coming back to pick up the thread. At that point it feels like there were just big gaps in time that I wish could have been a little more fleshed out. And even though I read it in a short time period, I did find myself going back to reacquaint myself with the initial stories of some of the doctors.
Some things I thought were interesting was the discussion about the type of bomb it must have been, with it taking awhile for people to learn what it was. Some people felt anger that the Americans would have chosen to use these bombs, some felt that it was just the cost of war and it isn't the weapons we should be thinking about, but the causes of war.
There were some interesting points brought up that couldn't really be fleshed out completely, but made me want to further explore the topic. For example, there were descriptions of people asking for help in saving people, but that not being really possible, but then people going out of their way to bury the dead in an honorable way at some risk to themselves, because the way the dead were honored seemed to be of paramount importance. The idea of the hibakusha (explosion affected persons) which was the term used for those made sick by the bombs, but not killed, and the discrimination they faced, and then the hibakusha becoming more vocal politically, but it being the less affected who garnered the most attention.
The idea that it was shameful to be from a city that represented the failure of the Japanese to prevail, and then the fact that even with these bombings, there were citizens who were upset that the Emperor had surrendered, as they thought that nothing but victory was possible. I presented really heartbreaking material, but didn't leave you with the sense that there was anything to be done for it. Although when they mention Nagasaki, it really was sad to try and comprehend in the wake of the horrors of this story....more
I love this series, and I feel like this author really knows how to set up a good story arc within her series. I enjoyed the Vampire Academy books, anI love this series, and I feel like this author really knows how to set up a good story arc within her series. I enjoyed the Vampire Academy books, and while there were things I wish she had done differently, I love that she is writing on some of the tried and true literary themes in a fun & compelling way...because life is too depressing for real, and I want people to be heroic and fall madly in love and be kind and smart and beautiful, and I want to read about redemption and sacrifice.
This particular story was interesting, but also bleak and almost exhausting by the end because of the non-stop action and magic use. And it ends so abruptly I was hoping there would be a little blurb or something...but it was just the beginning of the first Vampire Academy book trying to tie in with the movie that came out in 2013....more
So the series is over, and I must admit that I did really enjoy this series on the whole. I slowed down on the last book as I was enjoying their advenSo the series is over, and I must admit that I did really enjoy this series on the whole. I slowed down on the last book as I was enjoying their adventures out in the wide world of Appalachia, and I didn't want to rush through it, knowing pretty much how it would end, since I spoiled the ending by accidentally reading part of Bloodlines.
In my last review, I wrote that I enjoyed the love story between Rose and Dimitri, even though Rose was only 17 when the book started; 30 years younger than I am, but that kind of love is for the young, honestly. There was humor in the books, and some really exciting scenes, lots of adventure and a mystery. Ultimately, though, I wasn't happy with some of the things left undone in this story.
Here are the problems I had: In the last book, a criminal was broken out of prison by our heroes who basically framed the compelled guardian for the job, possibly leading to his incarceration. The reason for the breakout was important, to convert a key Strigoi back to Dhampir, but then when said Strigoi showed up, he started killing and at that point really needed to be put down. The main character prevented the other guardian from staking the him and humans were killed as a result. Then the prisoner escaped from his rescuers, presumably to wreak more havoc. Later on, many guardians and Moroi royalty were killed by this unstaked Strigoi leader when he was trying to get to the main character to kill her.
When he was finally turned back to Dhampir, it's hard to see that all these sacrifices were worth it. I stopped wanting him to be saved, even though I loved the idea of any Strigoi being transformed back to the good. But I really just wanted Dimitri taken out.
When he was turned back, I didn't really feel the same about him because of the cost of the transformation. And I don't really feel like anyone answered for this high cost. Spirit users are too few and the costs of healing too high for Strigoi conversion to be done on a widespread basis. So Dimitri was given a great gift, but I think on some part, he should have felt angry at Rose for not doing what she should have done in part because she allowed him to kill even more. He was never angry at her, though, only himself, which is, I admit, pure Dimitri. I just think it was odd that he didn't want to see her because he felt so guilty about what he did to her, when what he did to her was not as bad as what he did to others. So wrongdoings going unpunished in a story apparently is a big deal to me, but, the farther you get away from them in the plot, the easier it is just to accept that that theme is part of the story, so that's what I did.
Rose did stake Dimitri once in a fabulous scene where she did many amazing things to save her life. And then she was truly ready to kill him again, but Lissa intervened. So ultimately Rose still retained some of her awesomeness even though she made mistakes. I can live with that. Dimitri came off as a little whiny some of the time, though. He was definitely more fun in earlier incarnations.
I liked the part with the vampires who kept to the old ways, living hidden in the woods, and I wished there had been more to do with them. I actually kind of liked Victor Dashkov and his brother, and I was hoping they would get some sort of redemption, honestly.
The series takes place in a very short time frame, which I feel could have been spread out a bit more. The whole thing with Rose going to Siberia and doing what she did in 5 or 6 weeks, when really it felt like 5 or 6 months, wow...she didn't even have to get a visa, I'm guessing. I wish there had been more with Dimitri's family (maybe there will be later on). I felt like the ending was a little anticlimactic and found the whole loss of the shadow-kissed bond thing to be too convenient and too easily accepted by those who lost it, but the author didn't really have time to delve into that.
The author did sort of touch on the topics of the dhampir role in society, being the servants who always had to put the Moroi first. I mostly considered them as Secret Service agents but since they didn't really have much of a choice in some ways, it felt deeper than that. They were the serving class, and their needs could never come first, but other than repeating that line, I felt like that element wasn't as thoroughly explored as it could have been. When there was talk of forcing all dhampir into service, and lowering the age limit for service, that was a nod to recognizing some of the problematic parts of this society....more
This was the review I wrote in the heat of the moment after finishing the book. But then my Internet went out and I couldn't post it, so I copied it oThis was the review I wrote in the heat of the moment after finishing the book. But then my Internet went out and I couldn't post it, so I copied it off. I originally gave it a 1 star rating, but I uprated it after I finished the last book. However, I always write a review if I give a low rating, so here it is.
The problem with rating a book with how well I liked it, which is the rating system that GoodReads encourages, is that what I am really saying when I give a book a one star rating is that I didn't like how the story went--I wasn't happy with the plot or perhaps just the subject matter. And that's not really a way to rate a book, yet it is probably the best way for me.. When I give a one star rating, I must explain myself. I could just not give a rating, but when I read series, I tend to give them all ratings, so that I am comparing the books against themselves.
This book was generally more uplifting and exciting than the previous. Plotwise, it has a lot going for it. I actually didn't enjoy the previous book as much because of the tone and subject matter...I generally tend to dislike blood sucking fiends. Yet book 4 had many necessary elements, and it finished on a great note. When I was done, I was excited and I felt like I understood the overarching storyline. Then there was this book, and it seems like it's going to accomplish things the reader will want to happen, but I realized I am opposed to the way the objectives were carried out; the joy and excitement I felt in previous books turned to anxiety and despair. I was explaining my problems to my husband, and he told me I should just stop reading. They were just light and fun for him, but he knows my issues.
As I read this book, and I saw the characters make more and more bad decisions, decisions that resulted in irreparably bad things happening to others, I felt like there is no way to pull a good ending out of this story. Really, no way, unless all the people who have been killed somehow deserved it, which is not the case, or if the story ends the way I don't want it to...which I would hate. Yet, at this point I don't see many ways out. I told my husband there is a reason that Superman is my favorite superhero, or at least one incarnation of Superman, I'm sure there are others I wouldn't like. I mean like in that movie when he flew around the Earth to make time go backwards to bring Lois Lane back to life--that was just stupid. And he shouldn't have done that, even if he could have, but, I suppose, as a flaw in his character, it makes him more interesting.
I like the stories of prodigals, of those who make mistakes and live ignoble lives and then come back into the fold, come back to be glorious, even if it's a secret hidden nobility. But the difference is that in my mind, they never do anything truly bad, they just do things that others perceive that way. I started wondering why this book bothered me as much as it did, and why I am hung up on the idea that it must end in a way that was satisfactory for the reader. In real life, an 18 year old can and do make some, and the way we are as humans allows us to come back from them. We can gloss over them, become desensitized, be convinced we did what we had to do...we can just be normal humans. Didn't a teen just get let off with no consequences for killing 4 people with his car? So it can happen in real life. However, the characters in this story are not humans, and they're in a novel. My belief is that in the storytelling we do, whether it is literature or film, we don't let characters get away with things.
Of course, some literature doesn't follow that model, but I have a feeling this series will try. Thinking about what people can come back from, and how it can be acceptable, I told my husband I only see one way out. I was thinking of that, because I actually started thinking about my religious beliefs and what they say about it. And that was when I realized a sacrifice of some kind will be required and told my husband so. He's good at keeping mum, and didn't tell me the last book was actually called Last Sacrifice, but I found that out this morning.
I think the biggest issue for me with this book, truth be told, is that I wanted things to happen a certain way, and they didn't; I wanted the characters to make different choices than some of the ones they did, even knowing that making the bad decisions will probably make a better story. I also felt that, realistically, they would have had different feelings than depicted, but I'm inserting my own mindset into it, I guess.
The author did a good job in making me like the characters, and then enjoy love story between two youngsters, (Dimitri and Rose) which is kind of a big accomplishment. She made me believe things could, beyond all odds, work out. Then she made me wish they wouldn't. Now I don't know what to think. I do know some of what will happen, however, since I accidentally started to read Bloodlines, the series that takes place after this one, thinking that it was the second book in the Vampire Academy books (there was a snippet at the end of the first Vampire Academy book--who does a lousy thing like that???).
Ultimately I do recommend this book and this series as a whole. ...more