Wow, and I really wanted to like both the heroine and hero. So didn't. The heroine's concerns and fears were logical and reasonable but almost seemed...moreWow, and I really wanted to like both the heroine and hero. So didn't. The heroine's concerns and fears were logical and reasonable but almost seemed presented as silly and ridiculous, and the hero has a bad case of I'm Listening But I Don't Hear You Because I Don't Want To. Yes, yes, tragic past, whatever. Still doesn't excuse being a dick in the present. Any hero that even a little bit denies the heroine her own agency and never really figures out why that's bad other than 'it made her mad/upset' is an automatic no in my book.
Damn that plot, though. It's actually really interesting and more than enough to bring me back for book three. I have more hope for Cybil and Gage. I hope. (less)
A wildly mixed bag of stories, some of which were marvelous (hi, Barbara Hambly!), some of which were awful (hi, author whose name I've blocked becaus...moreA wildly mixed bag of stories, some of which were marvelous (hi, Barbara Hambly!), some of which were awful (hi, author whose name I've blocked because it was SO BAD), many of which skated around somewhere in the middle. I do love me some outsider POV, though, and this was a wonderful collection of that.
My one regret, though, is what I find so very, very common in much of Holmesiana: either an author is all about elevating Holmes at the expense of Watson or elevating Watson at the expense of Holmes. Sure, this often makes sense in the context of the points of view in this collection, but too often it comes off as authors having axes to grind. And, sure, I should've expected some of this in the nature of the book (it's about other people's relationships with Holmes), but I feel like these stories (and so many pastiches) shoot themselves in the foot by ignoring much of what makes the original ACD stories so marvellous: the relationship between Holmes and Watson (and I don't even mean that in a subtextually groiny way). It comes off as a little authorial self-inserty: sure, Holmes and Watson were an okay pair of crimefighters, etc., but the one who was really important was me. Er. My character.
It's part of why I so thoroughly enjoyed the new BBC version of Holmes: Sherlock may still be, well, Sherlock, but John Watson is a badass in his own right, and it's all about how they're simply more together than they are apart. I think that's true in ACD as well, and I wish more pastiches recognized that. (less)
I almost gave this 2 stars, because OH MY GOD is it brain candy, but you know what? I'm taking a stand! It was complete and utter ridiculous fluff, an...moreI almost gave this 2 stars, because OH MY GOD is it brain candy, but you know what? I'm taking a stand! It was complete and utter ridiculous fluff, and I read it in approximately twenty minutes, but those were an *entertaining* twenty minutes, so three stars it is!
Mostly it gets three stars for taking one of my most hated plot devices - "if we just sat down and had a half-hour's worth of honest conversation, the entire plot of misunderstandings would crumble like the sugar-spun castle that this book is" - and made me not want to punch it in the face. The Tragic Miscommunications are played plausibly (within the context of this pretty ludicrous universe), and they don't result from either of the protagonists being Too Stupid To Live (almost).
In which Our Hero takes a road trip and almost learns that Girls Are People, Too! The set-up and stylistic points are charming, but I seriously would...moreIn which Our Hero takes a road trip and almost learns that Girls Are People, Too! The set-up and stylistic points are charming, but I seriously would have preferred to read an entire book about Our Hero's slacker, Muslim, wannabe ladies' man sidekick. Our Hero is supposed to be annoying, but I often questioned my desire to keep reading a book about someone so annoying. Hassan kept dragging me back in, though. Hassan 4 Life, y'all. (less)
**spoiler alert** Intriguing concepts, but a little emotionally distant from all the characters, human and alien alike.
Human beings are actually just...more**spoiler alert** Intriguing concepts, but a little emotionally distant from all the characters, human and alien alike.
Human beings are actually just the seeded colony of a vast, distant alien society, and we've finally come online enough to communicate with this society. Except, hey, unlike the vast majority of these stories, the first person to be able to communicate with Our Alien Overlords is not white, male, or from Europe/North America; it's a young woman who is a former revolutionary from the lowest (reinstated) caste in India.
Lots of metaphor about caste in India and caste in the alien race, interesting perspective of the various people in Varansai literally at each other's throats to kill each other but united in their "oh god, don't let the Americans come in and take over" sentiment. Interesting world building, a little shallow on the character development.
Mostly, though, I'm a little vexed at how easily the human race, via Our Heroine, capitulates to Our Alien Overlords. Mostly this is done a) to keep from being entirely exterminated as the result of power plays by the various aliens, but the decision-making to actually relinquish human autonomy (such as it is) happens almost entirely offscreen. I realize that that's not actually what this story is about, but I find relegating the whole "humans are now flunkies to the vast alien society" decision to window dressing a little offputting. (less)
Oh, man. How did I miss the poorly-disguised political ranting when I read this in seventh grade? Heinlein has, like, a fleet of axes to grind. And so...moreOh, man. How did I miss the poorly-disguised political ranting when I read this in seventh grade? Heinlein has, like, a fleet of axes to grind. And some horses to beat. And some soapboxes to stack to the sky.
If you can navigate around the creepy paternalistic politics and dehumanization of women and the valorization of a particular brand of masculinity above all else (which you need, like, a supercomputer GPS to dodge), I grudgingly admit that this is a ripping good yarn. I can see why my dad loves this book (which, you know, says a lot about both my dad and the book). It's easy to get swept up in the momentum of the piece, and I always was a sucker for a good training story. Throw in a lot of stuff about teams and struggle and bonding and whatnot, and I kind of enjoy it, when I'm not rolling my eyes at the mockery of namby-pamby twentieth century society filled with people who weren't spanked enough as children. Or whipped as adults.
The most shocking thing of all is how rereading this book gave me a newfound appreciation for the movie. I, like most of the rest of humanity, found the movie nigh-on unwatchable (except for Doogie Howser as the quasi-Nazi psyops guy, which I recognized as hilarious even on first watching). However, in retrospect, I appreciate so many of the changes they made. The military! It's co-ed! And girls get to do things! Not just give men a reason to die! And the entire thing is essentially a piss-take of the hypermilitarized culture that the book venerates! I think it might actually be funny. (less)
Intriguing set up, and I'm even down with the extensive, loving food and beverage descriptions, but I could. not. deal. with a stereotypical Alpha Mal...moreIntriguing set up, and I'm even down with the extensive, loving food and beverage descriptions, but I could. not. deal. with a stereotypical Alpha Male Romance Hero (also pronounced "raging dickweed") in my otherwise enjoyable fantasy. I mean, it was to the point of almost making me wonder if it was a parody, or poking fun at Twilight and the vampire sleep-stalking and controlling and isolating, but thanks to a quick skim of other goodreads' reviews, I'm confident enough in it not being a "see what was wrong there" situation or taking the piss or in some other way showing that Matthew's violent mood swings and stalking and otherwise bad, bad behavior are not good, romantic things or otherwise narratively justified, even though he's the hottest vampire with the coldest body temperature ever omg. Just - ew.(less)
Goddammit. If I end up reading this entire freaking series just because of the Wimsey homage character, I swear I will....not be surprised.
Okay, so,...moreGoddammit. If I end up reading this entire freaking series just because of the Wimsey homage character, I swear I will....not be surprised.
Okay, so, there's an egregious amount of dialect, and the handling of Hinduism is maaaaaaaaybe a step and a half above Temple of Doom, and the author is clearly v. proud of how she's handling issues of race in Edwardian England with a heroine whose mother was Indian, and while you're totally aware she's tanking it most of the time, you don't realize how much she's tanking it until you read the passage about suffragettes, which is actually pretty decent, and oh my god, are we not even going to vaguely address the fact that the villain might, you know, have some legitimate grievances against the British in India, even if she is batshit crazy? No? Not really? Oh. Okay then.
The romance is a little half-hearted, and the fairy tale pastiche doesn't work nearly as well for me as The Fire Rose did (which is a guilty pleasure re-read of mine), and even the magic isn't all that magic-y for me, but DID YOU SEE THAT THERE'S A NOT-TERRIBLE WIMSEY HOMAGE? Because there is. And he's not terrible. And I'm going to end up reading the entire damn series just to watch him swan onstage every couple of chapters, say something pithy, solve someone's problems, then swan back off. Hey, I recognize my weaknesses. (less)
These essays' strengths are the author's skill in the writing craft - structure both in the macro (narrative) and micro (sentence) level. Damn can she...moreThese essays' strengths are the author's skill in the writing craft - structure both in the macro (narrative) and micro (sentence) level. Damn can she pull an essay together. It's always nice to read someone who knows how to handle an ending.
These essays' weaknesses are in the author's seeming inability to acknowledge her own failings without trying to justify those failings, in a backhanded, narrative-structure kind of way. I mean, good on her for actively acknowledging when she expresses ideas, often about class but occasionally ethnicity, that are rooted in prejudice and stereotype and do not reflect well on her. That are unflattering. I am all for that kind of honesty, exposing one's ugly, raw bits on the page and thinking about them out loud. What I'm not so much for is then wrapping around to wink and nudge at, "well, when you really look at it, wasn't I kind of right? wasn't I kind of justified in sneering at [the poor/the helplessly bourgeoise/people who choose to live their lives differently from me]?" And to do that again and again, in essay after essay.
The worst offender in this category for me was the essay on the polyamorous family who were also science fiction/fantasy fans of the tie-dyed wolf t-shirt/I am channeling the Norse pantheon/I have figurines of my gaming character variety. The author graciously finds it in herself not to dislike/pity them because they have unconventional sexual relationships; no, she pities them because she loathes their taste in books and they will (and I loosely quote) never know the joy of loving someone who has unfamiliar books on their bookshelves (which is a lesser sort of relationship, clearly). Now, she's not wrong about the joy that can be found in being introduced to new books/art/culture/whatever by someone you love, but it all just comes off as judging people who even she portrays as essentially pretty happy with their lifestyle and hobbies for not liking books that she likes. Oh gosh, these poor people who will never know the joys of literary fictions!
Yes, as a science fiction and fantasy fan, as a geek, I'm a little sensitive on this. Even if the people described are probably not anyone I'd be clamoring to be BFF with, I cannot despise them because of their desire to seek people out who love the same things they love, no matter how much the narrative structure of the essay encourages me to.
To be slightly more generous, I do wonder if some of these essays rub me quite as poorly as they do because of how dated they are. It is very, very clear these essays are well more than a decade old, and it's kind of fascinating by how many things that might have been outre or challenging initially are now kind of banal and HuffPo-y. Oooooh, online romance. How daring. How shocking to find out the person you created in your head based on correspondence can never be equaled by the actual human being. Oooooh, you've got massive student loans and consumer debt from a series of choices that made a sort of sense at the time but are crushing and crushingly illogical in retrospect. I get that with more honesty and more sympathy and more, I don't know, humanity from The Billfold on a daily basis. Basically, I think this book has been entirely trumped by the internet, even if the author is a damn sight more skilled than large swathes of the internet.(less)
**spoiler alert** Just another werewolf vampire hunter in love with his as-yet-unturned protege who he eventually has to a) turn and 2) bonk. Also, wh...more**spoiler alert** Just another werewolf vampire hunter in love with his as-yet-unturned protege who he eventually has to a) turn and 2) bonk. Also, what is up with this author's repetition of the I-put-my-wang-in-you-but-only-a-little-bit-so-we-haven't-had-sex-yet trope? (less)
**spoiler alert** A little deus-ex-the-plot-goes-this-way-now!, but should I have really expected anything different from a series of books with a god...more**spoiler alert** A little deus-ex-the-plot-goes-this-way-now!, but should I have really expected anything different from a series of books with a god's name in the title?
This was the book where I finally saw the transition from the little-bit-shallow-little-bit-irritatingly-self-centered Phedre to the touched! by! the! gods! Phedre really come out. I like Phedre #2 better than Phedre #1, but she does walk the line awfully close to too-precious-for-this-world from time to time.
Points to Carey for not just telling us (repeatedly) that Darsanga was creepy and evil but also showing it. Also points for making really long trips feel really long - though not in a bad way. Simply in a way of conveying how far apart these places are and how freaking long it takes to get there.
Points again for actually making me care about Phedre and Joscelin. Again, it's the lighter-hearted moments that really flesh out the characters. Plus, who doesn't love a giant fish? (less)
These books should not be nearly as enjoyable as they are, given the weird, stilted distance in Larsson's writing style and the plowing-through of inv...moreThese books should not be nearly as enjoyable as they are, given the weird, stilted distance in Larsson's writing style and the plowing-through of investment banking or whatever you have to do before the plot shows up.
But man, when it does show up? a) You're glad you know all the random-ass stuff about mathematics or whatever and 2) you better hold on. (less)
Free from amazon. Better than many of the free erotica samples/shorts from amazon, with an actual frisson of tension between Our Heroes and a wee litt...moreFree from amazon. Better than many of the free erotica samples/shorts from amazon, with an actual frisson of tension between Our Heroes and a wee little mystery to boot, but a) it felt like the last third of a story, not in media res and 2) the unbelievably dodgy legal system stuff made my brain leak out my ears. I'm sorry; I cannot enjoy your sexy bits when you are honestly trying to suggest that a district court judge in his early thirties is a viable candidate for the USSC, gay or not. (less)