This is closer to 3.5 stars. As a companion to Heyer's novels, it's invaluable. Kloester makes frequent references to characters and events from the b...moreThis is closer to 3.5 stars. As a companion to Heyer's novels, it's invaluable. Kloester makes frequent references to characters and events from the books when she's discussing aspects of Regency society, and I think the only way it could be more useful in that respect is if there were some sort of index so you could look up facts in reverse (though this would be a truly major endeavor and probably better suited to a database). She's also got an extensive list of recommendations for further reading. What I wasn't fond of was that she said she'd written her thesis on Georgette Heyer and had access to all these letters and research Heyer did, and I wish she'd used more of that in her book. It's a popular rather than scholarly text, and I suppose I shouldn't fault the book for being something it isn't, but I was still a little disappointed. If you're looking for actual research on the Regency era, pick this book up and use the recommended reading list at the end. If you want something to help you understand some of the more arcane aspects of Heyer's novels, this will be perfect for you.(less)
This is an excellent resource not only for the Aubrey/Maturin series, but as an introduction to naval warfare and the seagoing life in the late 18th/e...moreThis is an excellent resource not only for the Aubrey/Maturin series, but as an introduction to naval warfare and the seagoing life in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. I particularly appreciated the tables about such things as the actual breakdown of personnel on a Royal Navy ship by rating (how many lieutenants, how many Marines, etc.) and diagrams about how a crew would be broken down into smaller groups aboard ship. Fans of the Aubreyad will appreciate the sidebars relating historical fact to episodes within the series. Plenty of references and lists of further reading material make this a great starting place for anyone interested in the naval battles of the Napoleonic War.(less)
I'm reading this series fifteen minutes at a time, during my break at work, and that seems to be working out just fine. As in the first book, Bowen ta...moreI'm reading this series fifteen minutes at a time, during my break at work, and that seems to be working out just fine. As in the first book, Bowen takes a long run at the mystery, so I'm finding it easier to think of the series as historical fiction that happens to have a mystery attached to it. As it happens, I figured out the mystery well before the end, so that way of thinking made the book rather more enjoyable than frustrating. The characters are still interesting, and I find myself warming to Georgie, whose awkwardness I can relate to. Darcy O'Mara continues to be a presence hovering in the background, but in this book he makes a little more sense as a potential love interest for Georgie, and I like how her attraction to him is as uncertain as anything else she does. Good, light, fun reading.(less)
I'd call this an essential reference guide to the characters in the graphic novel series. Most entries tell where the original Fables come from, as we...moreI'd call this an essential reference guide to the characters in the graphic novel series. Most entries tell where the original Fables come from, as well as where they appear in the series, and the book is beautifully illustrated. Notes by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham about their inspirations and thoughts add interest to many of the entries. I particularly liked what they had to say about the Cubs. Warning: this contains spoilers all the way through vol. 18, so it's definitely reference material for fans of the series as opposed to a standalone guide for newcomers, which is a little unfortunate as I think newcomers might benefit from some help in identifying some of the less well known Fables. All in all, an excellent supporting work for the series.(less)
The content is great; the presentation less so. The print is small and the text arranged around the illustrations (more on them later) in blocks that...moreThe content is great; the presentation less so. The print is small and the text arranged around the illustrations (more on them later) in blocks that make it difficult to read. Also, the authors have a tendency to make personal statements about the people involved that give the book the feel of being an opinion piece in places. But what's really wonderful are the illustrations--battle scenes, plans of attack, pages of uniforms with labels and the years in which they were used, and most wonderfully, portraits of practically every officer who set foot on a battleground in Spain or Portugal. I can recommend it for the art alone.(less)
Very cute story. It took a while to get started, and I can see why--Bowen had a lot of things to establish so she could bring them up later, when the...moreVery cute story. It took a while to get started, and I can see why--Bowen had a lot of things to establish so she could bring them up later, when the actual mystery began. I liked the characters, the mystery was a little light-weight, and I might read some of the others in the series, but in general there wasn't much to this book.(less)
I really liked Tuesdays at the Castle, and I think this one is even better, mainly because the nature of Castle Glower is at the heart of the story. I...moreI really liked Tuesdays at the Castle, and I think this one is even better, mainly because the nature of Castle Glower is at the heart of the story. It's no longer just an eccentric, interesting aspect of the kingdom; Celie's adoption of a baby griffin calls into question a lot of things everyone has always assumed about the Castle, particularly the issue of where the rooms actually come from. Celie is a really fun protagonist, and I love her interactions with Rufus the griffin. I also like Bran, valiantly doing his best to be Royal Wizard despite his youth, and Pogue Parry, who is my favorite character and is developing in interesting ways.
My daughter, who is Jessica's biggest fan, insisted that I read this Right Away because she needed someone to talk to about the cliffhanger ending. It's a great, exciting ending that makes all the rest of the buildup even better in hindsight. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.(less)
An excellent ending to an excellent series. This final volume turns the action up, with Cammie and friends leaping from one tension-filled moment to t...moreAn excellent ending to an excellent series. This final volume turns the action up, with Cammie and friends leaping from one tension-filled moment to the next. All the loose ends are tied up, and we get glimpses enough of the Gallagher Girls' post-graduation lives to feel satisfied that each of them is going to do great things. I had trouble putting this one down, not only because of the intensity but also because I didn't want it to end--and yet I think this is a perfect ending for everyone, including the bad guys.(less)
Read my review of the trilogy here. This book is where the detailed attention to character pays off, as the emphasis drops from the actual plot to the...moreRead my review of the trilogy here. This book is where the detailed attention to character pays off, as the emphasis drops from the actual plot to the lives of the characters, and that's what kept me sucked in despite it losing some focus. (less)
I read this mainly because my husband really liked it and because the book is set in the same area our family Pathfinder game is set in. It turns out...moreI read this mainly because my husband really liked it and because the book is set in the same area our family Pathfinder game is set in. It turns out that the same quality determined our ratings; he liked that you could see the RPG characteristics in every action, and I really didn't. I disliked being pulled out of the story thinking "oh, Laws is describing the effect, but I know that's just how the fireball spell is described in the manual; he's not being creative, someone else was creative on his behalf, years ago." And the main character and her family--it was such an interesting idea, having an adventuring party that's all siblings, but that didn't stop me mentally ticking off "fighter, rogue, mage, cleric, monk, druid" as they were each introduced. I think most of the people who read this book will be players of Pathfinder, but I actually think it might be more interesting to readers of straight-up action fantasy who don't know anything about the system. It's a well-plotted novel with good description and interesting characters.
Laws' description and development of the main character Luma, who is a cobblestone druid (a druid who is connected to the life of a city rather than that of the natural world) is really well done, and although I worked out most of the plot twists in advance, that is more because I'm super suspicious than that Laws let anything slip. All in all, an enjoyable Sunday afternoon read.(less)
It's a measure of how much I like Andrea K. Höst's books that I feel incredibly guilty about not liking this one better. There's a lot to like here: i...moreIt's a measure of how much I like Andrea K. Höst's books that I feel incredibly guilty about not liking this one better. There's a lot to like here: it follows very well on the events of Champion of the Rose without telling the same story again, and I especially liked that she tackled the issue of the twin hazards to Darest (the taint and the malison) from an unexpected direction, by bringing in the extremely sympathetic Gentian Calder. Aristide, who was a compelling character in the first book, has a much bigger role to play here, and although I would have liked to see the romance between Gentian and Aristide play out more overtly, I was satisfied with how it went and how it was resolved. And, as always, Höst is a terrific writer with a great sense of setting and creative plots.
And so to the main reason I wasn't totally thrilled with the book: Aspen Choraide. I know, I know, I can see how he's meant to be a sort of comic relief, and I can see that he's got some strong characterization going on, but his unrelenting sexualization of absolutely everyone around him really got on my nerves. I didn't like it in Champion and I liked it even less when he was a POV character. I was so relieved when I got to the end of the book and saw him pressed into a role that would force him to be a little bit more serious and stop wasting his life.
So, like I said, I feel guilty about not liking it, particularly since, personal distaste aside, I think Aspen is a very well-written character. In all other respects, I loved the book and continue to look forward to Höst's other works.(less)
I feel a little uncomfortable giving this a starred rating, as it seems I ought to have liked this book better than I did. It takes place five years a...moreI feel a little uncomfortable giving this a starred rating, as it seems I ought to have liked this book better than I did. It takes place five years after the events of Troubled Waters, focusing on the princesses Josetta and Corene whose family relations were so spectacularly disrupted in that book. Now Josetta lives in the slums, running a soup kitchen/flop house (only very nice and not at all slummy) and Corene is trying to find her place in the world. Gambler Rafe Adova enters their lives when he rescues Corene, meets Josetta and is instantly attracted to her, which feeling is mutual.
My main trouble, I think, is that I never really felt connected to either Josetta or Rafe. Rafe, for one, reads as *much* younger than his stated 27 years. Their relationship and eventual romance is handled as well as any such thing you might expect from Sharon Shinn, but I just never really cared whether they'd end up together or not. I was far more interested in both Corene's fate and the political plotting going on in the background, and everything always got more interesting when Darien Serlast was on the scene. The mystery of what was going on with young Odelia, heir to the throne, really did stay a mystery, and kudos to Shinn for choosing that complication to the story.
Corene is a much feistier person than her sister Josetta, and I really felt for her because, for one, her mother is a stone cold bitch, and for another, she keeps getting ignored and forgotten by absolutely everyone. At the end, (view spoiler)[when the primes all decide Darien should be king, which DUH he's effectively been the king for years, and they start talking about the difficulties of him being married to a prime and what happens to their baby daughter becoming the heir, EVERYONE FORGETS THAT CORENE IS ALSO HIS DAUGHTER AND POTENTIAL HEIR. This, when she's always wanted to be queen or at least treated as someone who matters. So her running away at the end is a truly satisfying ending. (hide spoiler)]. I really hope the next book has Corene as the main character, and also that she doesn't fall in love with Rafe's nonentity brother Steff.
Ultimately, it's still a great world, and it's interesting to see the development of technology that runs side by side with the elemental magic of the primes. But the romance at the heart of the story isn't sufficiently strong to keep up with the more substantial political maneuverings of the secondary plot.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm beginning to realize that I simply connect with Andrea K. Höst's books in a way that is deeply satisfying to me, no matter what she's writing. In...moreI'm beginning to realize that I simply connect with Andrea K. Höst's books in a way that is deeply satisfying to me, no matter what she's writing. In Champion of the Rose I'm captivated by how both Soren and Strake are bound by things outside their control, Soren by her unwilling appointment as Champion of the Rathen family and therefore her ties to Strake (never mind how attracted she is to him) and Strake's sudden rise to rule that comes at the cost of losing every person, every thing he knows.
Soren is chosen by the semi-sentient entity woven into the fabric of Tor Darest not because she is a warrior or a mage or anything particularly special, but because she is fertile--Champion Brood Mare, she thinks of herself. And then she refuses to accept that role, proving that she has qualities the Rose never anticipated. I like her relationship with Strake, which begins with an act of violence neither of them (particularly Strake) ought to be able to get past, and their overcoming of it makes sense and made me care more about each of them.
I like Höst's unusual social/sexual society, which makes sense and provided a very strong sense of family in all the ways family was formed in Darest. And the ending, in which Strake gives up vengeance in favor of justice, was powerful. I'm rating this 4.5 stars because I think the writing isn't as strong as in her other books, but I enjoyed it enough that I'm going to round up instead of down. Very much looking forward to the sequel(s).(less)
So cute, so well done, and so much better than the novel George Lucas hacked out back in the day. Doescher's grasp of Shakespearean English and iambic...moreSo cute, so well done, and so much better than the novel George Lucas hacked out back in the day. Doescher's grasp of Shakespearean English and iambic pentameter is solid, and though there are recognizable bits of dialogue drawn straight from the movie and others repurposed from Shakespeare, the whole thing works beautifully. Doescher also takes advantage of information from movies in the series created after Star Wars, like the fact that Leia is Luke's sister; one of my favorite parts is Obi-Wan's lengthy aside when he's telling Luke what happened to his father. And, of course, no Star Wars pastiche would be complete without a nod to the question of whether or not Han shot first. Excellent work, and very entertaining.(less)
This is probably closer to 3.5 stars, as I loved half of it (the parts with Athena, Hermes, and Odysseus) and was sort of meh about the rest (Cassandr...moreThis is probably closer to 3.5 stars, as I loved half of it (the parts with Athena, Hermes, and Odysseus) and was sort of meh about the rest (Cassandra and Aidan/Apollo). I'm not sure why I didn't connect with Cassandra, as I can't really point to one thing and say "This was broken." Kendare Blake is a terrific writer; her prose is excellent and her characterizations (yes, even Cassandra) superb; but in the end, it didn't entirely work for me.
What pushed my rating to a four instead of a three was the relationship between Athena and Odysseus, which I absolutely loved. If Cassandra and Aidan had had half that chemistry, this book would have been amazing. I found Athena's struggle to change after millennia of existence compelling, and seeing Athena through Odysseus's eyes reminded me of what it must really have meant that he was always her favorite mortal, however much hell she put him through. I'm looking forward to seeing more of that.
But what I'm really interested in is which gods Blake is going to bring in for the next books. (view spoiler)[Hera dead? Poseidon dead? Aphrodite maybe dead? Zeus MIA? If it's Hades, I may squee. (hide spoiler)] I find the whole idea of the series compelling enough that I'll definitely read the next book.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I never thought I'd rate a book by Jack McDevitt this low. (Okay. Time Travelers Never Die was a real dog.) I don't like the Alex Benedict books nearl...moreI never thought I'd rate a book by Jack McDevitt this low. (Okay. Time Travelers Never Die was a real dog.) I don't like the Alex Benedict books nearly as much as the Priscilla Hutchins series, but that aside, Firebird was still kind of a mess. There are two stories in this plot: one is the mystery of space ships appearing and then disappearing without warning; the other deals with the question of whether AIs are sentient. The two are barely related to one another--the AI thing arises as Benedict and Chase Kolpath are investigating the mystery ships and plays out as a separate storyline McDevitt occasionally comes back to. Since neither story is sufficient to support an entire novel, the book comes across as limp, especially since it takes over one hundred pages for anything to start happening. Dull, uninspired, and if you really want a good example of why Jack McDevitt is worth reading, pick up Seeker or Chindi instead.(less)