Honestly, I did not expect to like this book. It's only logical. I assumed that I would have the same reaction to it that I had for the first three boHonestly, I did not expect to like this book. It's only logical. I assumed that I would have the same reaction to it that I had for the first three books in the series*, which was basically to be entertained, but also half the time I'm rolling my eyes at the predictable plot twists, the shallow characters, the tell-not-show and idiom-filled writing (a symptom of weak worldbuilding). I just didn't find any of it particularly compelling, especially Celaena, the central character. I found her to be uninteresting as a character, and worse, an uninteresting character wasting a great backstory.
But I genuinely enjoyed this entire book, from start to finish. I was extremely surprised. Like, I don't know what happened entirely?
I'm not going to figure out what changed behind the scenes, so I will just tell you what changed for me in terms of the text, and we'll go from there.
First, I've already mentioned Celaena. She was an interesting character for me for the first time. I really responded to her raw grief, and her struggles in dealing (and not dealing) with it. I appreciated how complex her feelings over everything were; the guilt over having survived, sure, but also guilt over the events themselves, guilt over having not done anything for ten years, and just the raw trauma of her whole situation that she'd been avoiding for so long.
And that's where Rowan comes in. Oh, man, guys. I liked him right away because I'm a sucker for characters with deep hidden emotions, but when it turned out that (view spoiler)[he and Celaena/Aelin were such kindred spirits, I just about lost my mind. Granted, I'm sure a lot of that is my relief that I was actually engaging with the series emotionally for the first time, but I genuinely love them together. I like Chaol and Dorian, but Rowan GETS Aelin. On a deep level that she will never be able to explain to the others. And it's pretty obvious that they are going to get together romantically, but I so, so appreciated them being friends first, and having such a deeply platonic bond first. (hide spoiler)] For me, Celaena's character arc went from being about 10% interesting, and then skyrocketed up to about 80%. Maybe I'm just a sucker for some of the tropes employed here, but in my defense, they were employed pretty effectively.
For the first time, either Maas's plotting wasn't super predictable, or I was enjoying the other parts of the book enough that I could ignore a lot of the stuff that annoyed me so much in the first three. Including that Maas shows her work with Celaena for the first time. No narrator is just telling us what a badass she is without showing. We see it. She's also a hot mess, but hot mess that is a badass.
I also enjoyed the other storylines. I think part of what deepened my enjoyment this go-round was the expanded POVs. We get not just Celaena, but Dorian, Chaol, Celaena's cousin Aedion, Sorscha (a healer who works in the castle), and new character Manon. Manon was great. So different. And scary. It was sliiiightly awkward of Maas to introduce her so late in the game for how significant she was in this book, and her story doesn't tie in with the other ones yet, but I will forgive that because I love her.
I wanted to pick up the next book as soon as I finished this one. I'm still feeling kind of weird about this. Part of me still wants to be annoyed with this series and sit upon high in judgment of it. But the other part is like, shut up, a-hole. Go get that book. So I'm gonna.
I wanted to like this, so so much. But I had so many problems with it, and ultimately didn't enjoy myself while reading.
Like a lot of people (non-comiI wanted to like this, so so much. But I had so many problems with it, and ultimately didn't enjoy myself while reading.
Like a lot of people (non-comics nerds mostly), I was introduced to Black Panther and T'Challa in Captain America: Civil War. His appearance in that movie was great (one of the highlights of an already fun movie), and it left me excited for his solo movie. And then of course Ta-Nehisi Coates signs up as a writer for the comics, and that's an unholy soup of curiosity right there.
But this did not work for me.
Firstly, I literally did not know what was going on half the time. Coates didn't provide enough background info, and then drops us right into the middle of a seemingly ongoing conflict where T'Challa's people are suddenly against him and people are stirring up revolution, so when the story starts to complicate as it goes on (as stories do) I was already lost, and only got more so as it went on. Coates's writing style did not help with this. It was way, way too poetic for my tastes. Poetic is fine every once in a while, but please can you just give me some exposition or some basic dialogue, and oh dear god, scene transitions or indicators of how much time has passed? If this were a superhero who was already in the zeitgeist his experimental style wouldn't have mattered as much because everyone and their grandma is familiar with Spider-Man's origin or whatever, but Black Panther isn't there yet. I needed a base for this story and didn't have one.
The art was good (in particular I enjoyed the trippy sequence where the witch induces hallucinations of T'Challa's "dead" sister), but (and this is on me entirely), I just kept wanting T'Challa to look like Chadwick Boseman because, well, have you seen Chadwick Boseman??
Anyway: too confusing, scattered, poetical and murky for my tastes. Won't be continuing to read this comic.
[2.5 stars rounded up for some intriguing, if confused, ideas]...more
This book was an alternative pick for the non-fiction (Hollywood history-centric) #CannonBookClub, and it was my pick. I saw it and I knew I had to reThis book was an alternative pick for the non-fiction (Hollywood history-centric) #CannonBookClub, and it was my pick. I saw it and I knew I had to read it ASAP, even if it didn't end up winning the vote (it didn't; that honor, of course, went to Life Moves Pretty Fast, which I haven't read yet as of writing this review).
I'd actually never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's before a couple of weeks ago, though I'm familiar with its legacy, both positive and negative. (Positive: Audrey as fashion icon, a central pivot point in changing sixties womanhood; Negative: Mickey Rooney and the racist portrayal of the character Mr. Yunioshi). Watching the film for the first time in 2017 was an interesting experience. It's tame in content compared to both its source material and the more no-holds-barred approach we have these days (relatively) in terms of film and TV content. Watching it is simultaneously like stepping into a time machine and visiting a more (on the surface, and perhaps entirely illusory) innocent past, and watching the end of that same era begin to appear. I wasn't aware of the extent of the latter until reading this book, however. Wasson really puts into context how revolutionary Breakfast at Tiffany's was for Hollywood film, for fashion, for women in film, for romantic comedies.
Forcing down the hated Danish.
You can feel the push and pull throughout the film, between a more conservative, restrictive mindset (most prevalent in that romantic Hollywood happy ending, and the softening of Holly Golightly from hooker to "kook") and the inescapable boundary pushing nature of the story (a girl having sex and not being punished for it, Audrey Hepburn living a life without a man, the casual normative treatment of sex work). Slim as the book is, Wasson does a great job contextualizing all of that, planting you back in the fifties and sixties so you can really feel the historical impact of the film as people would have felt it at the time. He portrays the birth of the film from start to finish, the origins of Capote's novel, the production process, casting, behind the scenes drama, and the film's reception and legacy.
You know she's a kook because of the cat. Without the cat: HOOKER.
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. is first and foremost a historical biography of a film, but bound up in that by nature are discussions of gender roles, contemporary social mores, Hollywood history lessons, and portraits of the film's stars, most obviously Audrey Hepburn, who is the star of this book in much the same way she is the star of the film.
The book wasn't perfect. I mentioned earlier that it was slim. In fact, it clocks in at just over 200 pages, and those pages are on the smaller side for a hardcover, with relatively large print. I zoomed through it in several hours and it was fast and engaging, but I frequently found myself wishing Wasson would dwell a little more on his subject. This book could have easily had 100 more pages, and been the better for it. There were also individual moments that needed clarifying, for instance, he goes on and on about how unusual looking Hepburn was at the time, and the narrative voice he employs doesn't leave much room for contextualizing that. He points out her perceived "flaws" (as they were considered at the time), but he never says why they were considered flaws, or offers up an alternative vision of womanhood. We in 2017 are living in a post-Audrey world, and these things are not as obvious to us as he perhaps thinks they should be.
A book recommended if you enjoy Hollywood history, behind the scenes stories, making-of books, and if you love the film.
[3.5 stars, rounded up just because I wanna]...more
This series is such a mixed bag. I loved the first book. I found the whole world enchanting. And as the series went on, despite some hang-ups, I fellThis series is such a mixed bag. I loved the first book. I found the whole world enchanting. And as the series went on, despite some hang-ups, I fell for the characters and the way they all pulled together gradually. But in the end, each book is just full of diminishing returns. Also, this is the end of the series. At least, the end of the stories about Meg and Simon and the Lakeside Courtyard . . . but I am left pretty unsatisfied by it.
All of the things that annoyed me slightly (but not enough to really hamper my enjoyment) were very much present here. The weird repetition of certain phrases. The focus on minutia. Slow and anticlimactic plot. And on top of that, the frustrated sense that this story is over, and the whole last book feels wasted. If this had been just another installment, I probably wouldn't have minded it so much, but as a conclusion? Bah.
I appreciated the way that Bishop wanted to focus on the effects of the slaughter by the Elders last book, and showing a way forward for mixed communities of Elders and humans, and there were some moments in here that were full of genuine enjoyment, but for the first time, those moments were overshadowed by just this sense of the book surrounding them being incredibly weak and unfulfilling.
Jimmy (Monty's brother) is the villain, and he is effective as a villain until you get inside his head, and then he's just a vile moron. I never believed for a second that he would cause any lasting harm to the Courtyard or Meg or whatever. So much real estate devoted to focusing on him, when I wanted more resolution for Tess and Nyx, and Monty and his family, and Meg and Simon. Of course Meg and Simon. (view spoiler)[They finally agree to become mates at the VERY end of the book, which is literally just a paragraph of them trying kissing for the first time, and finding they like it very much. It was a very nice paragraph, I will admit, but then the book is over. (hide spoiler)] This feels very deliberate on Bishop's part, so I'm not even sure I can fault it. But it's not what I wanted from the story.
This review is probably pretty incoherent. I'm just typing whatever pops into my head, and I only finished the book about five minutes ago, so I haven't really had a chance to process. All in all, I'm not upset I read this series, despite its whimper of an ending, but I wish the last couple of books had been as good as the first, and not just Bishop reiterating the same things over and over again, leaning heavily on things that had worked for her in the past in exactly the same ways, dangling Meg and Simon's relationship, and giving us barely any resolution for pretty much anything. I know some people will welcome this, because they can imagine their own endings, and I'm usually okay with that sort of thing, but in this case, I wanted even just a little bit more....more