I love Lord John Grey. I kind of want to be best friends with him. Or, at least take him out for drinks and commiserate about how he has absolute shitI love Lord John Grey. I kind of want to be best friends with him. Or, at least take him out for drinks and commiserate about how he has absolute shit luck with romance. He seems okay with his life, but I just feel so bad for him, like, all the time.
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is the second novel in the Lord John spin-off series which takes place during the twenty year timespan of Voyager. You don’t need to have read the Outlander novels to enjoy these books, though. They stand very well on their own.
The Lord John books are essentially historical mysteries set during the time of the Seven Years War. Lord John is a an officer in the British army. He is also gay, something which was absolutely taboo at that time, and punishable at times by execution. The central mystery of the book features Lord John and his family once again becoming embroiled in the scandal that killed his father years before. Because of the scandal, which ended with the Earl supposedly killing himself, and LJG’s older brother refusing to take his title, the remaining Grey family has had to step carefully lest they too be accused of treason.
The thing is, LJG’s father didn’t kill himself; he was murdered, and his mother made it look like suicide in order to keep her children safe. So when pages from his father’s journal start showing up as threats in his family’s mail, LJG is drawn back into the scandal, trying to dig up the truth. All the while this is going on, his mother is about to remarry, bringing with him a new stepbrother called Percy, with whom John becomes romantically entangled. LJG’s investigation also brings him into contact with Jamie Fraser, the Scottish Jacobite prisoner he fell in love with during his time as warden of Arsdmuir prison. Jamie does NOT reciprocate his feelings, but he may have information that could clear his father’s name.
Despite being a well-educated man of means, Lord John Grey is a constant underdog, forced to live in a world where he can never be himself. His constant transgressions provide a backbone of conflict that runs throughout even the most mundane of his interactions. Nobody in his life suspects his double life, and at points he’s forced to act as if he was “normal” and punish those who commit the same acts he does privately in order to remain safe. It’s an institutionalized hypocrisy that all these secretly gay men lived with daily, and Gabaldon manages to portray her world as one where Lord John is far from the only person in this precarious social situation. It’s a fascinating and heartbreaking dynamic.
I’m SUPER excited for the next book in this series, which is supposedly the story of how Jamie and Lord John finally become friends. I am beyond ready for Jamie to stop acting like such an ass about LJG’s sexuality. He behaved atrociously in this book to LJG, cultural norms or not. I’m ready for them to be BFF now....more
I love all the interpersonal stuff in this novella, with LJG and his German captain who maaaaybe is gay and maaaaaaybe is not, and the stuff with hisI love all the interpersonal stuff in this novella, with LJG and his German captain who maaaaybe is gay and maaaaaaybe is not, and the stuff with his footman Tom Byrd of course, but the mystery in this was pretty uninteresting until almost the very end. Full review can be found in my review for the bind-up collection Lord John and the Hand of Devils.
This was okay. It was too short and everything wrapped up too quickly, but I always love LJG. Full review as part of my review of Lord John and the HThis was okay. It was too short and everything wrapped up too quickly, but I always love LJG. Full review as part of my review of Lord John and the Hand of Devils....more
I really, really like Diana Gabaldon's Lord John Grey novels, but this collection of shorter stories fell a little bit flat for me. I think what I likI really, really like Diana Gabaldon's Lord John Grey novels, but this collection of shorter stories fell a little bit flat for me. I think what I like most about these books is the character work she does alongside the various mysteries, and there really just wasn't room for any of that in this short of a format. I think there's a reason she normally gravitates toward longer books as a writer. (Sidenote: I'm currently reading the second LJG novel and I think it's hilarious that it's considered a short book at 494 pages.) Each story is loosely connected by the thread of supposedly supernatural events that motivate their plots (spoiler alert: none of them are actually supernatural).
The first story in the collection is the shortest, and in my opinion, the weakest. "Lord John and the Hellfire Club" takes place before the first Lord John novel. LJG is dragged into the death of a redheaded man that turns out to be connected to a mysterious secret society. It gets pretty gross and I enjoyed Lord John's wry voice throughout, but it also felt really disjointed, like she was working so hard at keeping it short that she cut pieces out of the story.
"Lord John and the Succubus" is novella length, and follows Lord John in his adventures in Prussia, as he's seconded to another unit and gets to know the mysterious Colonel Stephon von Namtzen, who may or may not be expressing sexual interest in our Major Grey. Meanwhile, English and Prussian soldiers keep showing up dead, and the rumor is that the local succubus is the perpetrator. LJG of course gets wrapped up in the investigation. His interactions with von Namzten were very fun, but the mystery fell flat for me.
The final novella is original to the collection. "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier" is called to testify at a tribunal investigating the deaths of a several soldiers and the explosion of a cannon during a battle. LJG's half-brother turns out to be involved, so of course, he is compelled to find out what's really going on. This was by far my favorite of the collection because it had the most personal stakes for LJG.
I wouldn't recommend this collection as a starting point for anyone, but if you're already a fan of the series, definitely check it out.
I'm not usually one for books about mommies and gossip and the plight of the suburban housewife, but I am highly susceptible to books everyone seems tI'm not usually one for books about mommies and gossip and the plight of the suburban housewife, but I am highly susceptible to books everyone seems to love. So I gave in (like I always do). Actually, let's not even play around and call it "giving in." I'm a curious bastard. If you get me curious, I'm gonna follow through.
And I'm so glad I was curious about this book, because I really ended up loving it.
Here is where I would normally give you a brief rundown of the plot, but I feel like if I explain the plot of Big Little Lies to you, you maybe will say what I almost said, which is: That is not for me. I do not like reading about those things.
Here is some actual useful information so as for you to properly judge your interest in this book:
•It's funny and sly without being mean. It's heartfelt without being sentimental. It's compassionate without being dopey. •It will tease you mercilessly until you beg for . . . well . . . mercy. And then it will punch you in the butt. •The characters are extremely well drawn. The three main ones especially, but in the end all of them are, really. •It takes on some serious issues in a realistic manner, and it does always in the context of its own characters. This isn't a VERY SPECIAL EPISODE kind of book. It's a book about Madeline, Jane and Celeste, and some things that happen to them. •It's frustrating, but the frustration ultimately pays off. •It's feminist as hell, if you're into that sort of thing. And if you're not, what the hell. •It has twisty mystery elements, one of those elements being that you know from page one someone is dead, but unlike with most mysteries, you don't know how OR who.
By the time I was about a third of the way in, I was frantically googling spoilers for this book because it had me so worked up and stressed out about what was going to happen. In a way, I'm glad I couldn't find any spoilers of significance* because the ending really would have lost some impact, but man I was worked up for a while. This was probably made worse by the fact that I was listening on audio and it probably took me at least twice as long to read the book that way than if I'd have been reading through the hardcover.
*INTERNET YOU HAVE FAILED ME.
The audio was great, but if you're the type of insatiable curious person who will easily be turned into a raging frothmonster by endless teasing, I'd suggest picking up a hard copy of some sort so you can just zoom through that sucker.
Will definitely be reading more of Liane Moriarty's stuff, including an eventual re-read of this one since I know what happens now and I'll actually be able to relax while reading it instead of running around my house screaming things like WHEN WILL THE TORTURE END.
I'm not quite sure The Girl on the Train deserves all the hype it's being given, but it's a fast-paced psychological thriller/mystery, and I think itI'm not quite sure The Girl on the Train deserves all the hype it's being given, but it's a fast-paced psychological thriller/mystery, and I think it succeeds handily in being exactly what the author wanted it to be. I didn't NEED to read it, and you don't either, but I'm glad that I did.
As is always the case with these sorts of books, the less said about the book the better, but I do want to take a second to talk about some things:
1. Hawkins employs a series of unreliable narrators to tell her tale (in the first person present, which notably didn't make me fly into a rage here, so props for that). This has the effect of obscuring things not only from the reader, but from the other characters as well. In the case of the titular girl on the train, Rachel, we're seeing the story through the lens of a depressive alcoholic who is barely holding it together. It's a challenge to sort through her wobbly, emotionally self-destructive perspective to see what's really going on. I liked the way she used Rachel's flaws to enhance the mystery at the same time as Rachel's character. The other two POV characters are Megan, a blonde young woman whom Rachel observes every day from her commuter train, and Anna, the mistress who Rachel's husband left her for.
2. Your sense of these women as people is constantly shifting as the book goes on. They are not always likable, but they are always interesting, and ultimately, human. This complicates the mystery but also gives the book a little more depth. If you're looking for depravity and shocking behavior, you're not really going to find it here. Everything that happens here is couched in a layer of sympathy from the author--these aren't monsters or psychopaths, they're people who've sometimes done and said terrible things.
3. Of course I didn't figure out the mystery, but I've heard other people have. I've stated on numerous occasions that I'm not the best at figuring out the answers in mysteries, so keep that in mind when I tell you the ending came as a surprise to me. It also fit in with everything that had been happening in the book so far and made retroactive sense. I'm not sure if you guess the ending if that will hamper your enjoyment of the book--it might, and it might not. There might still be some pleasure in it for you to see how the whole thing is constructed. How Hawkins put it all together is pretty neat.
If you like thrillers and mysteries, you should definitely check this book out, just don't put any of your own outside expectations onto it and you'll be fine. Despite what you may have heard, this isn't "the new Gone Girl." It's its own thing. Read accordingly....more
So on the Batman/Superman divide, spectrum whatever you want to call it, I’m on the side of the Man in Blue. Have been since the fifth grade when LoisSo on the Batman/Superman divide, spectrum whatever you want to call it, I’m on the side of the Man in Blue. Have been since the fifth grade when Lois & Clark was my favorite TV show and my mom let me put Superman’s shield on my retainer. Also, the dark and broody thing has never really done it for me. I’m pretty much in agreement with John Green on this matter (“Batman is just a rich guy with an affinity for bats who is playing out his insane fantasy of single-handedly ridding Gotham of crime.”) I’ve read a smattering of Superman comics over the years, but I’ve always preferred the filmed versions over the comics. Give me Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, Dean Cain or Tom Welling any day.
Yeah, I’m one of those “non-comics readers”. Superhero comics overwhelm me. Deal with it.
But as much as I love that thick-necked, tight-panty-wearing honorable musk-ox of a man, the actual reason that I love Superman so much is because where goeth Superman, Lois Lane goeth also.
I love Lois Lane. Love her. LOVE.
She’s smart and spunky and tenacious. She won’t take your shit. She’s nosy and persistent and knows just exactly how to push all of your buttons, either to get what she wants or just to annoy the bejeezus out of you. She’s sometimes bitter and caustic on the outside, but inside she’s all gooey emotional center. She’s the original marshmallow.
So basically the only thing I was wanting from this book was to make sure it did my girl credit. I’m happy to report that it did.
Gwenda Bond’s Lois is a seventeen year old army brat, newly moved to Metropolis. She’s spent her childhood moving from place to place and stirring up trouble, but this time her father has requested a more permanent assignment, and Lois is determined not to screw things up, and maybe actually make a friend that will stick with her longer than her next move. Her only long-lasting friendship is with a guy she met online in a mysterious occurrences message board. He refuses to tell her his real name, only going by the handle “SmallvilleGuy.” (winkwink)
But of course, being Lois, she manages to get herself right in the thick of things almost immediately upon entering her new school. Like, IMMEDIATELY. Pretty soon she’s on a crusade to save a student from a very bizarre and terrifying form of bullying, of which the administration not only ignores, but seems to go out of their way to cover up. She does this with the online chat type help of SmallvilleGuy, and with the resources of the student version of the Daily Planet behind her (Perry White, of course, having almost immediately recruited her).
It’s a really fun read. The mystery was pretty good, very reminiscent of the comics, but my favorite parts were Lois being Lois, and the close friendship between her and SmallvilleGuy. Their relationship frustrates Lois, as she wishes she could be closer to her friend, but knowing for some reason that she can’t.
It was a fun, quick read, and I hope enough people buy it and read it so that she writes sequels. I very badly need this whole thing with SmallvilleGuy to be worked out, even though I know how it will all end....more
Meh, I guess? I mean, the second half was pretty good, I guess. She sort of got Twelve's voice and demeanor right. Not sure when this was written? TheMeh, I guess? I mean, the second half was pretty good, I guess. She sort of got Twelve's voice and demeanor right. Not sure when this was written? The twist was pretty cool, I will admit. Definitely didn't see it coming. I didn't really care for the first person POV, though, and the tone felt slightly . . . off. Like, not bad, just not Doctor Who. The thing about the coffee space station was pretty great, though. All in all, just meh. ...more
I alllllmost two-starred this fucker. For about the first 2/3 of it, I was actively bored. Halfway through, I actually returned it to the library andI alllllmost two-starred this fucker. For about the first 2/3 of it, I was actively bored. Halfway through, I actually returned it to the library and didn’t expect to pick it back up for a while. Somebody else had a hold on it, so I couldn’t renew it. But it turns out whoever had that hold either didn’t care enough to actually pick the book up, or returned it almost immediately because they didn’t like it. I can sympathize with that. And it got the book back to me very quickly, so. Hey. Who’s complaining.
There are lots of little problems in this sixth installment of the meta-tie-in Nikki Heat series, penned by “Richard Castle,” as a fun but savvy marketing ploy to fans of the TV show Castle. But the main problem is that the book, which takes place in the week leading up to, during, and after Hurricane Sandy, and yet it might as well have taken place anywhere or anywhen else for all that signified in the plot. I mean, my God, what a WASTE. Basically there were only two scenes that utilized the hurricane effectively, and they were very brief.
All the other problems I can sum up by saying that it feels like this ghostwriter (or maybe ghostwriters?) has stopped having fun with writing this series. It felt like a chore to read it, I can only imagine how it must have felt to write it. It doesn’t help that the plot has Nikki freaking the hell out and acting stupid and paranoid for half the book and she was almost intolerable to read about. But really, it was just uninteresting for the most part. Towards the end as all the plot threads came together it picked back up again and actually managed to hold my interest for the rest of the book, which is why I’m rounding my two stars up to three, and why I’m going to continue the series for at least one more book. (This was not something I planned on doing the first time I returned it to the library.)
Mr. Kiss and Tell is the second of two books contracted after the Kickstarted movie in 2014. Both books have done a great job taking the Veronica MarsMr. Kiss and Tell is the second of two books contracted after the Kickstarted movie in 2014. Both books have done a great job taking the Veronica Mars world, escalating it, and translating it to the medium of books. I also really like what they're doing with Veronica's character (and the other characters). They're allowing them to grow and change. These characters haven't just been held in stasis in the nine years that have elapsed since the third season of the TV show ended.
This book picks up about three months after The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, and about six months from the end of the movie. Veronica and her father (and Mac) have settled into a routine at work. They are also hard at work trying to clear Weevil's name from the fallout of cop corruption in the movie. And Logan is home from shore leave and living with Veronica. The Neptune Grand hires Veronica to help them with a lawsuit--a rape victim is naming one of their employees, an illegal immigrant, and suing them for damages. Only it turns out, Veronica and the rape victim have a history with one another.
The book actually takes place over several months, which I liked a lot. We see Veronica living her life even as she takes her time to unravel the case, and come to terms with what her new relationship with Logan means to her. It's a lot more believable than if it had taken place over a shorter timespan. There are also a lot of in-jokes, but they are never unbearable. They have the effect of making the world of Neptune feel like a real place rather than an artificially constructed one.
I really, really hope they order more of these books. They are fun and well-written and they give me back some of my favorite characters for a couple of hours at a time. ...more