I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stumbled across this book! I was in the mood to go searching for some new Victorian historical fiction, and cameI can’t tell you how glad I am that I stumbled across this book! I was in the mood to go searching for some new Victorian historical fiction, and came across it. I was aware that there was a paranormal element to it, which was ok with me. When I started reading, I was a little surprised by just how prominent the paranormal/fantasy aspect was – and with a stack of library books due back shortly, I briefly considered putting it down in favor of something else. Boy, am I glad I stuck with it instead.
Percy is a great new character, and I found her very easy to relate to – maybe having always been a bit shy myself helped with that. I loved Hieber’s style, and while cross-genre novels like this may not work for everybody, this one combined all of my favorites and it absolutely worked for me! Victorian historical fiction with a Gothic edge, fantasy, and a romance with great characters (who also have great chemistry!) made such a great combination. The first half was a little on the slow side, but once I hit around page 150, I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down! I’m very much looking forward to the sequel due out in May, and I’ll be on the lookout for more from Hieber in the future....more
I've been craving a good historical for a bit, and this one definitely did it for me! There were some things that didn't seem quite historically accurI've been craving a good historical for a bit, and this one definitely did it for me! There were some things that didn't seem quite historically accurate - and some unlikely events and coincidences - but if you want a damn good story, read this. I couldn't put it down!...more
Great story, fantastic premise. It really got going at the end, and I had a hard time putting it down. The whole alternate mythology of the unicorns wGreat story, fantastic premise. It really got going at the end, and I had a hard time putting it down. The whole alternate mythology of the unicorns was very well done - I found myself wondering if I'd be laughing at images of killer unicorns, but Peterfreund really makes them frightening and horrible creatures (even little Bonegrinder).
There were a couple of things that bothered me, though. I'm older than the target audience, so that may have something to do with it, but I thought the whole virginity thing could get a bit preachy. If you look more closely at the whole "hunters must be virgins" thing, and the powers that hunters have, it has some interesting implications. We see what happens to girls who aren't hunters: vulnerable to attack, lessened physical abilities, etc. So, (and perhaps I'm looking too far into this, but I can't help but look for this kind of stuff) as soon as you lose your virginity, you lose your strength and power as a woman. You can no longer fight for yourself. Hunters (virgins) do not need men, do not need to be protected.
Then there was Astrid's character. She was a bit too wishy-washy for me. One minute she's on the phone begging her mom to let her come home, even willing to sleep with a guy she barely knows to get out of her "duty" (another interesting facet of the virginity thing) whereas two months ago she had zero intention of going all the way. And then all of the sudden, she's off enjoying the rush she gets with hunting.
Now what I had some serious issues with was her mother. At the beginning, yeah she's a bit kooky, but then again it turns out all her stories about unicorns are true. Okay, that's fine. When she doesn't let Astrid come home, it's a bit mean, but she's a mother living vicariously through her daughter. Happens all the time. Doesn't make it right, but not uncommon. And then, she comes to be the temporary donna while Neil is away. And we discover that she is, apparently, absolutely psycho. Sure, you can be a bit more rigorous in the training. But having no problems with the other girls dying so Astrid (aka she herself) can get the glory? Mocking Phil, her own niece, being downright cruel, and TORTURING her own daughter to get a promise out of her???? Really?? This lady has some serious mental health issues! And even that doesn't tip Astrid off. On the next page, she's defending her by saying that they've become better hunters since Lilith became the donna (hmm, her name is Lilith as well. How interesting). And then we're supposed to be ok with all of it because she grieves when she thinks Astrid is dead. I mean, yes, she's your mother, but after what she did, you should probably disown her and stay as far away from her as you can.
Ok, I'm done with my rantings. It would have been 4 stars if it weren't for these problems with characterization, etc. It had a great story, turned out not to be as predictable as I thought it would be, and really drew me in. A great twist on a myth, that, for the most part, was executed very well. It ended a bit abruptly with some loose ends, which I think points to a sequel. I may not go rushing out to get it, but I'll absolutely read it. ...more
I'll be honest - I read this one for the cover. I saw it back in August and just loved it. I mean, look at it. Gorgeous!
The book itself though, not soI'll be honest - I read this one for the cover. I saw it back in August and just loved it. I mean, look at it. Gorgeous!
The book itself though, not so much. It was a relatively entertaining, quick read, but on the whole it didn't do too much for me. I really like the concept of fallen angels (who are poised to take over the throne from vampires, apparently), but I feel like so much more could have been done with it.
I suppose the biggest problem I have is the characters. The only ones who have any personality are Arriane and Penn. None of the other characters - Luce and Daniel included - seemed remotely real. Luce doesn't do much besides feel sorry for herself and moan about how misunderstood she is, how she doesn't belong in a place like Sword & Cross, etc. She wasn't all the bright either - I mean, you figure out that this guy you've been seeing is essentially a violent control freak, so when he leaves you a note telling you to get in the car and the driver will take you to him god-knows-where, you actually go? Really? I'm pretty sure this is the type of situation my parents were referring to when they told me "Don't get in the car - if you do, you'll probably never be seen again."
Ok, enough ranting about Luce. It got better towards the end, with some surprising twists and others you saw coming, and once Luce finally figures out what's going on, some of the fallen angel stuff gets pretty cool. My three stars is more like a two and a half - but decent enough that it gets rounded up to three rather than down to two. There's enough romance in this with the same sense of mystery that Twilight has that I think it will do well - after all, Disney already has a movie in the works, and there's a sequel on the way....more
Really lovely - well written, and the story pulled me along the whole time. Buchanan's descriptions of the river are fantastic. Although I've never beReally lovely - well written, and the story pulled me along the whole time. Buchanan's descriptions of the river are fantastic. Although I've never been to Niagara Falls, the danger and power that underlie its beauty were easy to imagine.
I do wish I got to know Tom better - throughout the novel, he almost seemed more of a legend than a man. Part of this probably comes from the chapters he is absent, away at war. When he returns, he has more depth to him, clearly changed and disturbed by what he saw. After that subsided, and he became himself again, I realized I wasn't really sure what that meant. I really liked him as a character, I only wish I knew more about him - how he was in everyday life, not just in his daring during (and his modesty after) a rescue that we saw so often.
Bess is a strong character. We see her go from living the life of luxury to having to work to support herself, and the bumps she hits along the way. Even years later, she wants that house on May Avenue, even if it's more than they need. She seemed very real to me.
I really enjoyed this novel. A beautifully written account of a family's life in Niagara Falls, and how the river becomes irreversibly intertwined with their lives....more
I was a little apprehensive in picking this one up after reading some mediocre (and less than mediocre) reviews - and I only had a few days to read itI was a little apprehensive in picking this one up after reading some mediocre (and less than mediocre) reviews - and I only had a few days to read it before it was due back the library, and I was worried I'd slog through it. Perhaps my low expectations had something to do with it, but I was pleasantly surprised, and really enjoyed this.
I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the whole thing. Niffenegger does a wonderful job of setting the stage for the novel. It starts out with a realistic depiction of our world, with a slight creepy factor due to Highgate Cemetery neighboring the flat. And then, of course, there's the haunting. From the summaries I'd read, I wasn't sure how literal this haunting would be - just an overbearing sense that Elspeth still "owned" the flat? Her belongings and what she left behind keeping the twins from feeling like it was their home? The hold her memory still has on Robert and the others she knew? Or the actual presence of a ghost? It turned out to be the latter, and I thought the "haunting" factor was very well done. It's gradually built up so that it's almost believable, with Elspeth beginning as a weak, vaporous spirit and eventually becoming capable of moving small objects, etc., and the atmosphere is a big help in allowing the reader to suspend disbelief.
Speaking of which, the reader's ability to do just that is important for this one, I think. A lot of other reviews I read said the ending took it too far, pushing it past the point of believability. I can see how; there are several twists at the end, some more far-fetched than others, and one that I saw coming from early on in the book. Nonetheless, I think she ended it the only way she could, if that one big twist (if you've read it, you know which one I'm talking about - I don't want to give anything away!) is something she was aiming for through the whole novel, and I get the impression that she was. One the whole, it was beautifully written, and with great characterization (I especially liked Martin, and it was interesting to see how his journey - or lack thereof - paralleled Elspeth's). There were a couple of things that bothered me about the ending, but on the whole I really enjoyed this once I allowed myself to get lost in it. ...more
**spoiler alert** This was an okay weekend read. I think I was most turned off by the fact that Connie herself winds up having these magical powers -**spoiler alert** This was an okay weekend read. I think I was most turned off by the fact that Connie herself winds up having these magical powers - if it had stayed away from that angle, I would have enjoyed it more. The premise was really interesting - grad student stumbles upon undiscovered Salem witch (all the more interesting to me, being from MA), and has to hunt down her ancient book of spells, etc., and discover her story. But then it's - "Oh, by the way, she's your ancestor and you're a witch. Your mom is too, but she never bothered to tell you any of this. AND every time a woman in your family falls in love, hubby dies in a terrible freak accident." I guess it was just a little too much.
Not bad if you're looking for something to entertain you, or if you're super interested in the Salem trials. It could be pretty predictable, and Connie wasn't too smart herself sometimes - I mean, reading the journal, it's only after five entries that mention delivering babies that she catches on the girl is a midwife. Really? I thought it was a given right off the bat with the first entry, and then two pages later this comes to her as some kind of an epiphany.
I also wish a bit more time was spent on Deliverance's side of the story, and on the book itself - she finally finds it, and we really don't get much about it. Overall, just an okay read....more
Fantastic - this is one of those books that people have been telling me I'd love for a long time, and for some reason or another I just never got to.Fantastic - this is one of those books that people have been telling me I'd love for a long time, and for some reason or another I just never got to. So glad I did! The perfect book to lose yourself in....more
I haven't read much Byatt since I finished my thesis last spring, and I didn't realize how much I missed her writing. This was somewhat different (forI haven't read much Byatt since I finished my thesis last spring, and I didn't realize how much I missed her writing. This was somewhat different (for me, at least) from her other works that I've read, in a way I can't quite put my finger on. It spans social and political changes over a rather large period of time, centering primarily on the Wellwood family and others that have entered their social circles at some point or another. The large cast of characters could make it a bit difficult to remember who was who at some points, but overall I think I enjoyed all of them - they all had their roles to play in the big picture.
Now, my thesis was on her use of fairy tales and fairy tale elements - if she's written this novel a few years ago, I probably could have centered the whole thesis on it! Fairy tales are vital to this story. Olive Wellwood is a writer of children's stories in Victorian (and later, Edwardian) England, and her fairy stories and themes almost define her family.
I especially loved her portrayal of women in this novel. Olive's children (and their childhood playmates) are growing up in a time when it is becoming accepted for "respectable" women to hold "real" jobs - but often at the cost of any romantic desires or chances of marriage. Dorothy (who wants to pursue the career of a doctor/surgeon) is perhaps the most affected by the double standard, observing that although there are female doctors with husbands, those are few and far between. Griselda and Florence grapple with this decision as well. One can pursue a career, but by the time her studies are through in her late 20's, she would would be considered something of an old maid. One of my favorite passages in the novel that sums this struggle up nicely comes on page 495:
Florence was in a turmoil. She had promised herself to Geraint, and she was now promising herself to years of study. She did not think Newnham College would care for married students. She wished to disturb her father, at some ferocious girlish level, and felt - she was not really thinking - that the engagement would do that. And yet - like Griselda, she did want to think. And she did see her future as, perhaps, the choice between thinking and sex."
Byatt has always done a wonderful job of exploring the roles that women play in various situations, past and present. This novel is no exception. ...more