I shouldn't have liked this - it's a junky romance with few surprises, and it focuses on the trials and tribulations of rCall this a... 3.75, I think.
I shouldn't have liked this - it's a junky romance with few surprises, and it focuses on the trials and tribulations of rich nobles which, really, is far from the most important thing going on in its time context... but I guess I was in the right mood, and whatever else it is, this book is fun.
I think part of what makes me like it more than I expected is that, in my opinion, most romance novels ask the wrong question. As a reader, I don't go in wondering if the two leads will get together - it's a romance novel; I'm not oblivious. I go in wondering how. And this book, from just a few chapters in, had completely centered itself around that how. There's no doubt that Grayson and Camille both want each other, but in order to get there they have to overcome both external conflicts and internal ones. It honestly feels like a well-earned happy ending, because they've both had to work through justified and unjustified anger, apologize for past mistakes, and resolve other relationships in order to get what they want. (And the sex wasn't even a cure-all! It led to more conflict! I was thrilled!)
There's a straightforwardness to this book that makes it very palatable to me. Camille jumps into things without thinking, and not only do other characters point this out to her, she acknowledges it herself. As she and all her sisters acknowledge the fact that, when they first married, they were essentially fortune hunters. Similarly, Grayson admits very quickly (when pressed a little by his cousin, who I was thrilled to see was sympathetic to Camille) that he treated her unfairly. It's so honest and mature. (The advantage of reading about characters in their 30s as opposed to hormonal teenagers, perhaps?) The secondary characters were similarly pragmatic, for the most part, and actually pretty well-drawn and interesting.
All in all: if you're looking for a quick read and a simple Christmas romance story, this is a good bet. And free on Kindle, last I checked!...more
I don't want to be too hard on this book because a) it was free, b) I always feel bad ragging on queer stories unless there's something seriously unheI don't want to be too hard on this book because a) it was free, b) I always feel bad ragging on queer stories unless there's something seriously unhealthy in them, and c) y'know, in the end, it did basically what it promised it would do. It was a pretty bare-bones, charming, short romance story. That's just... not enough to get more than three stars from me. If it had been longer - if there'd been more time to develop chemistry, in particular, or to show a bit more of the world and its magic - maybe it'd rate higher. It did do a good job with showing the main couple as mutually supportive/positive in each other's lives, so there was definitely potential there....more
This was the fourth and final text for my African Lit course this semester, and by far my least favorite - still important, as a reflection on the expThis was the fourth and final text for my African Lit course this semester, and by far my least favorite - still important, as a reflection on the experience of emigrating, but nonlinear and difficult to track, and also often very one-sided in discussing issues which affect immigrants.
Our essay prompt for this book was, in fact, writing a critical review, so once grades are in I'll probably post that in full-text here. (I'd rather it not show up if my professor runs essays through a plagiarism checker - it is my actual work, after all!) A bit weird to post an academic essay as a GR review, yeah, but better than writing essentially the same thing twice!...more
I've never read anything by Patricia McKillip, so when the chance came to get this on Kindle (cheaply? free? I honestly can't remember which) I pounceI've never read anything by Patricia McKillip, so when the chance came to get this on Kindle (cheaply? free? I honestly can't remember which) I pounced, because I keep hearing good things about her work and it seemed like a good place to start - or at least, everyone was praising it as being representative of her work, so surely it would be a fitting sampler.
If it is - well, I just don't think her work is for me. The thing about this collection was that the writing was lovely, the concepts interesting, and the plots... completely unfinished. Seriously, most of these stories just didn't have any real resolution; they simply ended arbitrarily, with threads un-resolved and guns un-fired on the mantlepiece. Those interesting concepts went largely unexplored. There were some exceptions - 'Naming Day' and 'Bryndley' and 'The Doorkeeper of Khaat' all wrapped up tidily, but the rest were simply unsatisfactory to me. (Even 'Knight of the Well', which was the longest and therefore had plenty of interesting worldbuilding, had a very pat and simple finish that didn't feel fitting to the rest of the story.)
It's worth noting that this probably isn't a problem for some readers; I tend to like a less ambiguous, more defined narrative than a lot of people do, and that's just a matter of taste. But in that case, McKillip just isn't to mine....more
This was the second of four books assigned for my African Lit class, and honestly, it wasn't at all what I'd expected. As a white American, the storieThis was the second of four books assigned for my African Lit class, and honestly, it wasn't at all what I'd expected. As a white American, the stories I've absorbed about apartheid focused on injustice and racialized oppression, and don't get me wrong: those are major factors in this book. However, Mine Boy wasn't just about suffering; it was, in the main, about overcoming and the endurance of humanity and community. The bulk of the story takes place within the black township of Vrededorp and focuses on the life within it - a life riddled with hardship, but also full of heart.
That duality is, I think, one of the most important messages of the book: that in the face of oppression, people find ways to survive. They're often moral compromises, like Leah's decision to bargain with the police for herself but warn no one else, but they allow for survival as much as possible. People don't stop living when they're oppressed - and just because someone laughs doesn't mean their daily life isn't under constant threat.
I don't want to make it sound like this book downplays apartheid, because it doesn't; it focuses mostly on quieter dramas (especially internalized racism, through the character of Eliza), but it does also show some of the more explosive aspects of racism, especially the casual disregard for black lives in the mines. But - the quieter dramas are the ones that are harder to see, especially from a position of privilege, so they stand out to me as the most important parts of this book, because they demand that others sit up and take notice....more
I went into this book wanting to adore it, really I did - queer YA fairytale retelling AND dangerous faerie mythos? hello yes - but... like many otherI went into this book wanting to adore it, really I did - queer YA fairytale retelling AND dangerous faerie mythos? hello yes - but... like many other reviewers, I found it simply failed to rouse much emotion in me. I never felt like there was much there: not in Sidhean, who appeared infrequently in response to plot/pacing needs; not in Kaisa, who had one of the strongest personalities in the book but did little and was explored less; certainly not in Ash, who had so few desires or even strongly conveyed emotions of her own. And the thing is, that's characteristic of fairy tales, where characters are more archetypes than fully formed people - but in a book which strays so far from the structure of its original tale, and which from the start seems to be trying to add depth to it, shallow characterization feels out of place.
There was also, congruent with that, a simple lack of conflict, even when compared to the basic fairy tale on which this book is supposedly modeled. Ash's problems have convenient solutions - even the one which, it is foreshadowed, should cost her a great deal - and she rarely has to expend much effort to reach those solutions. There is little tension here, which I'll grant could come from the novel's roots in Cinderella narratives except that Cinderella tales can hide horrifying twists (stepsisters cut off their toes or heels to fit into the shoe, birds peck out their eyes, etc). Instead the story sort of gently meanders, like a placid forest stream, to its contented happy ending. Which is fine, really, except that it's boring as hell to read about.
As for the romance - sigh. As a queer woman, I've often found myself frustrated with stories where two women fall in love just... 'cause. This is, in the end, another of those. What does Ash know of Kaisa? What does Kaisa know of ash? What relationship have they built, by the end of the story? Would we, as readers, know they were in love if the words were never used in the text? I don't think so - their interactions were either superficial or not wholly shown (ie the implied conversation about their respective backgrounds, which could have been a powerful character/relationship-establishing moment). This relationship was the key to the whole book, and it just didn't have much weight to it at all.
I'm gonna give Malinda Lo another shot, because I can't just walk away from someone writing queer girls in YA, but my expectations will be much dampened next time....more
I have the utmost respect for Dr. Earle - as a scientist, an entrepreneur, and a public speaker I've been fortunate enough to hear in person - and thiI have the utmost respect for Dr. Earle - as a scientist, an entrepreneur, and a public speaker I've been fortunate enough to hear in person - and this book is a good overview of marine conservation issues. It's just... a bit too basic to keep my interest, personally; as a biology major with a particular interest in marine biology and ecology, a lot of the content here was essentially review.
That said, I do think this would be a very useful and eye-opening book for people without background in its topics. I know some universities have freshman seminars where the entire incoming class reads the same book, and this seems like it would be a good candidate for that: it's clearly written, explains concepts in a straightforward manner, and outlines a lot of issues that need comprehensive solutions if we're to move forward as a species. ...more
This was book one of four assigned for my Oral Traditions and Performance in African Lit course this semester (which I've come to just call African LiThis was book one of four assigned for my Oral Traditions and Performance in African Lit course this semester (which I've come to just call African Lit, as it's much more generalist than its title would suggest) and, like the other three, Ambiguous Adventure was a complex but totally worthwhile read. (None of the books we've read can really be called enjoyable, as their content tends to skew to very heavy issues and experiences, but personally I've liked all of them.)
The story here is, essentially, that of two people: Samba Diallo, a young Senegalese boy who will eventually travel to France to study, and the Thierno who teaches the traditional Islamic school which he attends as a child. Early on, their narratives are intertwined, and the story focuses on Samba's intense spiritual potential. When he leaves home for the city, and then for France, the Thierno's story continues in parallel, showing how life progresses in the village - and how Samba's absence impacts it, as instead of becoming heir to either his uncle the chief or to the Thierno, he grows more and more distant from his family, Islam, and their traditions.
It's very much a story about separation made inexorable by colonization and the power dynamics thus laid down. Samba Diallo fits seamlessly into traditional ways, but because of changes in the world around them his family decides to send him away to learn so that they can keep up. The end result, though, is that exposure to a different culture changes his relationship with his home and the people in it. As they say, you can't go home again.
Worth a read if you're interested in African perspectives on colonialism, which everyone really should be....more
Consider this a tentative TR - the Nix comparison has my interest piqued, but to be honest if the romance isn't between the two women in the synopsisConsider this a tentative TR - the Nix comparison has my interest piqued, but to be honest if the romance isn't between the two women in the synopsis I probably won't bother for a long time....more