Not sure I'm going to write a full review of this, but it's definitely a good (quick) read. Definitely a young adult memoir (meaning adults might findNot sure I'm going to write a full review of this, but it's definitely a good (quick) read. Definitely a young adult memoir (meaning adults might find it simplistic). And though it is ghostwritten, Jazz's voice comes through really clear (she's so young! I do NOT miss being a teenager). She's honest and confident about what her life has been like.
This book would be a great way for younger readers to learn about transgender issues, and to develop empathy for people who are gender non-conforming or who identify on the LGTBQIA spectrum (not to mention, of course, it's a great resource for transgender children themselves). I hope Jazz writes another book, though, when she's older. I was obviously not the target audience for this book. It would be really interesting to see what kind of book she would write after she's got a few more decades in her. I have a feeling it would be great....more
I first read American Gods when I was twenty-five. It was only my second Neil Gaiman book; I'd read Stardust several months earlier and completely felI first read American Gods when I was twenty-five. It was only my second Neil Gaiman book; I'd read Stardust several months earlier and completely fell in love with it, so it seemed like a no-brainer to give this one a go, since so many people were over the moon about it. What I found was not what I expected.
The book is long and meandering. Its characters inhabit the grey areas of the world. They do gross things, immoral things, right alongside utterly mundane and profound things. They murder and cheat and rob. They love and live and die. And it was a subtle book, subtlety not being something I enjoyed in my fiction at the time. It was also raw and provoking. I remember being profoundly uncomfortable with several of the scenes (the Ifrit and the cabbie comes to mind immediately, as well as the first scene with Bilquis). In the end, I came away with an intellectual appreciation for it, but nothing about it stuck with me, nothing resonated. For years this has been my least favorite Gaiman, even though I gave it four stars on Goodreads as a sort of pat on the back, oh-well-you-tried gesture.
But I've had so many experiences lately with revisiting books where my opinions have changed, sometimes drastically, it was inevitable I'd make it back around to American Gods. I'd be lying if I said I anticipated liking this more; I didn't think I'd changed that much. But pretty much everything that sat weird with me the first time was actually something I enjoyed this time around. I liked the slower, leisurely pace. I liked the grey areas. I liked the weird sex. I liked the sense of melancholy that permeated the whole thing, the darkness. I enjoyed being provoked.
It's still not my favorite Gaiman, but I definitely *get it* now. And I can't wait to see what Bryan Fuller does with it in the TV show. (I was already picturing Ian McShane the whole time I was listening to it. Which reminds me, if you read this, make sure to read the 10th Anniversary version that has the author's preferred text. And do the 10th Anniversary full cast recording if you like audiobooks. The dude who plays Shadow has a voice like warm honey drizzled over cornbread, like slow morning sex in springtime, with the windows open. It's good is what I'm saying.)
Parallel universes are categorically THE BEST, but I don't think I've ever seen them done quite like they are here in A Darker Shade of Magic, the firParallel universes are categorically THE BEST, but I don't think I've ever seen them done quite like they are here in A Darker Shade of Magic, the first book in Victoria Schwab's* Shades of Magic series, which just published its third and final book last week.
*She writes YA under her real name, and adult fiction under her pseudonym V.E. Schwab.
I'm late to the party, especially given how much I love fantasy and parallel universes, but I don't really care because I now own all three books and I DON'T HAVE TO WAIT TO READ THEM (though I probably will, just a little).
So like I said, parallel universes. Only here, there are only four, and specifically, four Londons. Our two main characters are Kell, a magician who can travel between the Londons (which he dubs Grey, Red, White and Black), and Delilah Bard, a thief from Grey London. Grey London is basically our world, a world that has forgotten magic. Red London, Kell's home, is full of magic, and it's thriving. White London is dying, starving from lack of magic. And nobody knows what's going on in Black London, because it was consumed by magic hundreds of years before, and the other Londons sealed it away. From there, the stage is set for madcap, universe-crossing adventuring.
I wanted to love this book immediately, but it actually took me about eighty pages or so, until (view spoiler)[Kell and Lila finally crossed paths and the plot was set into motion (hide spoiler)]. But as soon as that happened, it was hard to put down. Schwab writes with a simple prose that is very much in the moment. Kell, Lila, and the plot barrel through these pages with the speed of a freight train, hardly getting any time to breathe. This isn't helped by the structure, which consists of a series of very short chapters, which you can't help but finish and say, okay, just one more . . . and then before you know it you've read sixty pages and you're late getting back from your lunch break.
My only real complaint, besides the slow start, is that I wanted more. More worldbuilding. More quiet moments. More banter. More time with the characters. Obviously there are two more books, so I'm getting my wish in that respect, but it is a lightning-paced book, and you get to know the characters on the fly. The whole book takes place over the course of a couple of days, and it's almost jarring how much stuff is crammed up in there.
This for sure passed my first book test, and I'm glad because I already spent money on the second two books, and, boy, would that have been embarrassing. No idea where the second two books are going, though. This one wraps up pretty well. I know nothing about what's coming, except that the the third book is almost twice the size of this one. It's over there sitting all fat and smug on my shelf right now, and it's taunting me. Some day soon, book. Someday soon.
The Assassin's Blade is a compilation of five interrelated novellas that take place about a year before the first book in this series, Throne of GlassThe Assassin's Blade is a compilation of five interrelated novellas that take place about a year before the first book in this series, Throne of Glass. Each one can be read separately, but work best together, showing how the infamous assassin Celaena Sardothien went from being rich, spoiled and deadly, to being a slave in the salt mines of Endovier.
These five novellas go a long way towards rectifying one of the main complaints I had with that first book, namely that we were shown almost no proof of Celaena's supposed assassin talents. Maas kept telling us how badass and assassinatrixy she was, and meanwhile we saw almost no evidence of it. And when she was in tough circumstances, a lot of the time she doesn't behave like a trained assassin, just a dumb, oblivious teenager. There was still a bit of that in this book, actually, but we can probably also chalk that up to the other thing I have a problem with in Maas's writing, which is still a problem even after this book, and that's her predictable plotting skills. Celaena is dumb and oblivious because Maas needs her to be unaware of practically everything that goes on around her, otherwise it would reveal the "surprise" of Maas's plots. But: they aren't surprises. I called every single thing that happened, and that just ended up making Celaena look incompetent. She is not subtle, and I hope going forward she'll lay off the "plot twists" and focus on her strengths, which is feeeeelings.
These aren't like most YA novellas on the market these days, which are mostly fun extras that fans can skip if they like. These novellas seem pretty crucial, and though I don't have proof of it yet, I'm fairly certain a lot of the events in all five novellas will become relevant later in the series. It was a good call to publish them all in hard copy form to emphasize their importance.