It was clever, but not particularly engaging. I was interested in the beginning as I was figuring out who everyone was, but then it got really boring...moreIt was clever, but not particularly engaging. I was interested in the beginning as I was figuring out who everyone was, but then it got really boring for a long time, I almost quit. The pace picked up by the end of issue four and it moved quickly after that. But the characters were just flat. He tried to make them witty, but he didn't try to give them any emotional depth, which is what I'm looking for in a story. I like banter too, but I need to connect with the characters to be excited to pick a book, or it's sequels, up. The art didn't help with this since they all lacked expression in these stylized designs. They were sometimes pretty cool, but not expressive. I know very little about art but even I recognized the Toulouse-Lautrec inspired designs when they were in Paris. But it's did make it harder to connect to them.(less)
Clever and charming and richly imagined, with every detail just perfect. Not as crowded with historical figures or situations as the last one, more fo...moreClever and charming and richly imagined, with every detail just perfect. Not as crowded with historical figures or situations as the last one, more focused on the main characters and story. Which doesn't make it better or worse, just a little different. I think this one might have been a big more active and exciting though, it's hard to remember the pace of the first one. The humor might have been turned up a bit as well, Sasha and his family's interactions with the mob fellows were pretty witty, in a subtle it made me chuckle way, not in a laugh out loud way. It's really a lovely book and series, I highly recommend it.(less)
Very clever and entertaining. I can't really judge how I'd have felt about each individual comic, I can't quite tell where the breaks would have falle...moreVery clever and entertaining. I can't really judge how I'd have felt about each individual comic, I can't quite tell where the breaks would have fallen like I usually can in a big volume like this (this is an omnibus of the first ten comics in the series out of eleven printed as of this review), but that might be because those breaks are somewhat arbitrary in the first place if the strip is usually published three times a week online. But regardless of any of that, Agatha is a really winning hero, smart, funny, brave and bold, definitely a hero, NOT a sidekick. I can see that boys and girls, men and women, would all enjoy rooting for her and her companions, and be very eager to see what she's going to design and come up with to show all of those doubters what she's really made of. I'm looking forward to reading more about her adventures in the comics and in the novels as well.(less)
Oh how I love and hate last books in a series. It's always exciting to see how the author wraps things up, but bittersweet to say goodbye and see the...moreOh how I love and hate last books in a series. It's always exciting to see how the author wraps things up, but bittersweet to say goodbye and see the characters I've grown fond of move on to other stages of their lives. This was a very satisfying conclusion to a really lovely series. The mystery was fair to middling with a few too many coincidences thrown in again for my taste, Enola often depends on happening to have run into people in the past or pure luck for major leads. But the emotional components were right on target. The Holmes family story reached a conclusion that suited this group of clever eccentrics, not too sweet, not too perfect, but right for them. And maybe we'll get lucky and Springer will write some stories someday about what an older Enola chooses to do with herself. I would certainly be on board for that.(less)
Substantial. Background gets filled in and questions get answered, although of course they always generate more questions. It's a long book, this isn'...moreSubstantial. Background gets filled in and questions get answered, although of course they always generate more questions. It's a long book, this isn't a quick, light read. You'll definitely have a better idea of what the big picture is all about by the end of this, although despite the many reveals it just shows deeper levels of what we still need to find out. But it was definitely a satisfying read, both in watching the stories move forward toward apparent goals, and in divulging information that we're eager to understand as readers. And it did it with it's usual style, creepy history lessons abound, making the reader wonder what really did happen. Or what should have happened, perhaps. It's a book that lingers with me, long after I've read it, wondering about this power and who might be using if now and what they're using if for for.(less)
3.5 stars. Still a very charming series, all the more so because of it's dark edge. It always works that Enola is successful despite the large age dif...more3.5 stars. Still a very charming series, all the more so because of it's dark edge. It always works that Enola is successful despite the large age difference between her and Sherlock because Sherlock overlooks the female arts. Would the "real" Sherlock have done that? Who knows? But this Sherlock is clearly characterized and consistent and it works that he wouldn't notice or take seriously things like the flowers in a bouquet, or the corset and bustle in the first book, etc. It gives Enola an advantage and makes the willing suspense of disbelief work.
But... solving this one relied entirely too much on coincidence. Yes, she kept her eyes open, was bold and brave, and used her advantages, but a big part of it came from the huge head start of coincidence. What if she'd chosen to do her shopping at another store? I'd have liked to see a plot that Enola could have deduced beginning to end.
Just as a side note, I felt bad for her when she couldn't sleep at night. She used to wander around and help people, but Sherlock caught on to her disguise. Now she just had to lie awake in bed worrying. She had no library full of books full of entertaining mysteries to keep her busy all night like I have. She thought it was a luxury to be in an apartment for a change that had gas to read her newspaper after dark. This author always does a great job of setting the tone of what London was really like in the 1880's. Unlike a lot of historical fiction, these books actually convey poor lighting, bad smells, and poverty, not just high society and elegant fashions. And even when Enola wears the latest fashions, the discomfort of the crazy styles are clearly pointed out so that a reader can really imagine what it might have felt like to walk in those shoes or be squished into that corset.
Despite a bit of weakness in the plotting of this one, I still really like this series. It's great to see a smart, brave female hero who is interested in things other than boys and who isn't doesn't need anyone to save her, who in fact does all of the saving. (less)
This one was a little bit strange, but not in Moore's usual way, or not in the way that I'm used to anyway. It was a much more serious book than I've...moreThis one was a little bit strange, but not in Moore's usual way, or not in the way that I'm used to anyway. It was a much more serious book than I've read from him before, somewhat witty, but not especially funny, but it was very interesting and often quite lovely, so that was new too.
My first impression was fantastic, what a gorgeous book this is. The cover is just stunning and really represents the story well. The book is printed in two shades of blue ink, which really sets a nice tone for a book about art using the color blue. Two different fonts were used to set the tone, a more old-fashioned serif font for the main sections, and a stark san-serif for the interludes. And then after I turned a few pages I got a great surprise, a full color print, a self-portrait of Van Gogh. And as I kept turning the pages more and more prints appeared every few pages to illustrate the story. After I finished the book I flipped through and counted and I think there were approximately thirty-two impressionist and post-impressionist paintings included in this book, pretty impressive. Most books don't even have a handful of black and white sketches, or decent covers these days, much less more than thirty major works of art used to illustrate the story. So it was definitely worth the money from the standpoint of being a lovely product. I would definitely recommend that if you don't buy or borrow the hardback, you will want to read it on a color ebook reader; as much as I love my original nook, it would be a shame to read this one in black and white, the images really illustrate the story and add a lot of value to the book.
As for the story, it started out quite slow. It wasn't funny or quirky at all at the beginning and it didn't even feel like any kind of a fantasy for quite a long time. It felt like a mystery, and there were hints of something odd going on with the Colorman, but it took quite a long time for it to develop into anything mystical. And it never really developed into funny for me, or not laugh-out-loud funny. And the slow pace continued throughout, as did the lack of laughs. I think it was just a different style of book than his lighthearted, silly somewhat farcical stories à la the Love Story trilogy or Practical Demonkeeping. I haven't read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal or Fool yet, but perhaps it's more in line with their sensibility. It's certainly a more mature novel than Bite Me or A Dirty Job. It's just a very different kind of book. There were chuckles, and it certainly wasn't overly serious, there were a lot of lighter moments, but it just more wry than funny to me, mildly amusing most of the time at best.
The book reminded me of the historical fiction I grew up reading, like Désirée and Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess, except in this one Lucien, Bleu and the Colorman aren't real. But almost everyone else in the book is, that part is really fun. It could have come off like some of the urban fantasy novels I've read that make me nuts when the author throws in every historical figure that she's ever fantasized about and it just gets absurd; yeah sure that many famous people throughout history just happened to get turned into vampires or whatever her theme is and somehow they all ended up crossing paths with her unimportant lead character; my willing-suspense-of-disbelief gets stretched too far. But having all of these painters interact in this book works because these guys really did hang out together. Maybe not exactly the way it's portrayed here, maybe they didn't have these specific conversations, these identical relationships, senses of humor, etc., but some of the older masters did teach the younger painters, they did have relationships and interact, so it's plausible to some degree. And Moore did write the painters' characters based upon what is known about their personalities. In fact, I thought he did a better job with the actual historical painters than with the characters he created in this one. They were much more vividly portrayed than the other characters.
My biggest problem with this book wasn't with the slow pacing, which although it wasn't a huge page-turner, I was never bored either, or with the lack of huge laughs, because again, I was never bored. It was with the characterization of the main characters of Lucien, Bleu and the Colorman. The were all, well, not to be too trite in a review about a book about painting, but they were really flat. Usually Moore's characters are so vivid and 3D. But Lucian was nothing more than a sketch in my mind. Bleu and the Colorman were seemed more like caricatures than real characters, ticking off the points of what we expect to see but not filing in the details to make real complex characters. I really liked the concept of what it turned out was going on with Bleu, it was a really good use of mythology, but the explanation of how it all came about was really weak too. And how it played out was disappointing, quite a let-down.
I think maybe Moore was more in love with telling his story about the painters, of figuring out a way to tell a story about why in the world Vincent Van Gogh would shoot himself in the chest and then walk a mile to the doctor afterwards, and he came up with a vision that he wanted to explore but he just didn't have a strong enough back story to support it, but decided to go with it anyway because the one idea was so cool. So we get this. Overall was lovely, charming, amusing, interesting, I was never bored, but it wasn't funny or a page-turner either.
(Also, and not related to the story at all, the quote from The Washington Book World on the back cover just annoys the heck out of me every time I see it, it's so pretentious. "...deftly limned protagonists...in the hyperbolic mode...cultural milieus..." so irritating!) (less)
It won't be a popular opinion, but I didn't like the last 100 (very long) pages, I thought it weakened the whole thing. I'm trying not to be spoilery...moreIt won't be a popular opinion, but I didn't like the last 100 (very long) pages, I thought it weakened the whole thing. I'm trying not to be spoilery here, obviously. She spends three books talking about the great literary dramas, then makes a big romantic soft choice. Hard choices from authors make for better drama. Please don't send me hate comments, it's just my opinion.(less)
Another very solid story by Chance, a sequel to The Gauntlet. Both stories are available for free on the author's website or from smashwords. They tak...moreAnother very solid story by Chance, a sequel to The Gauntlet. Both stories are available for free on the author's website or from smashwords. They take place during the late 1500s in England in the world of Chance's Cassie Palmer characters, but familiarly with the series isn't necessary. Fans of the series will enjoy that this story features Kit Marlowe, once of the more intriguing vampires from the series (although him being a vampire isn't much of an issue here). I do think the stores will be appreciated more if read together, the character of Gillian will make more sense In this one and you'll care about her more if you know where she came from and what she's fighting for, but both stories a quite good in their own as well.(less)
This was a weird one for me. Not just because it was a weird book, but also because it's a really mixed review. And because it's really hard to write...moreThis was a weird one for me. Not just because it was a weird book, but also because it's a really mixed review. And because it's really hard to write about without spoiling. But I'm going to try, so here goes.
To start, it started slow. As in one hundred pages of slow. I made a note at page 55 that it was almost all history and set-up, mainly about the main character, Sir Richard Francis Burton, and his rival, Speke, and their expeditions in Africa. I wrote another note at page 100 that I was still pretty bored and that it was still mostly history and set-up about the philosophical movements the author created for the book, but both came across as very lecture-y and dry, quite heavy-handed with very little effort by the author to work getting the information into the plot, mostly he just had the characters discuss things while walking down the street together. I did write a little note that by page 150 I wasn't bored anymore though.
After the first 100 very slow pages I thought it got to be a lot more fun, but there were a lot of things that made me nuts too. At its heart, it's really quite a silly book, even though it tries to look very serious on the surface with all of the historical figures and philosophical discussions. Throwing in every historical figure you can always bugs the heck out of me, too many vampire romance writers do it too; just because they might still be alive in your little fantasy world doesn't mean that it works to put them all in your story. Florence Nightingale was the last straw for me in this one, I just didn't get it. I guess its a find line between fun snd overkill.
And the tech and eugenics was just nutty, especially the eugenics. Some of the ideas were cute (like the broom cats) but all of it stretched my ability to suspend disbelief way beyond bounds. Once I understood what was going on I could buy a few technological innovations, but the degree in this book really stretched it in the short time frame given. Even if I was willing to just go with it, I just can't accept the genetic manipulation that we don't even have 150 years later. And stupid stuff like the spontaneous combustion thing just bugged me, it wasn't necessary, it was silly showmanship and it was yet another thing that took away from the things that were really good.
I think Burton has a lot to offer as a hero. But I don't really get why he and Swinburne were friends. They have such a large age and experience difference, i really don't see why Hodder picked him as the assistant except for him being little (which also bugged me, a mid-twenties man doesn't look like a pre-teen boy even if he is short). But I guess Algy grew on me a bit. The book certainly got more exciting. I liked Jack's story once it was explained. I'm definitely going to read the next book. I just hope it focuses more on the steampunk and less on the eugenics. Now that it's been established I guess I just have to accept it as part of the world, but I know the absurdity will continue to annoy me.
In the end it was a romp. It was clever in a lot of ways. If the author would just scale things back a bit and focus more, I think the things that he does do quite well would have more impact. (less)
This was one of those books that just didn't hold up upon reflection for me. Immediately when finished it I was mildly annoyed by some aspects of how...moreThis was one of those books that just didn't hold up upon reflection for me. Immediately when finished it I was mildly annoyed by some aspects of how Bailey's plot resolved, but I was still charmed by the book and I could definitely see why so many people were so in love with it. I still can, it's quite a lovely book in a lot of ways. The imagery is quite lush and if you like a dreamy, magical kind of story then this delivers in that way. But I had been thinking for the second half of the book about how much the plot is lacking and then I went to take a nap. Big mistake. Because I had totally uninterrupted time to just think about the story. And get more and more irritated.
The non-spoiler things that I can discuss: The most obvious thing is that it's beautiful. That's undeniable. It appeals to sight most of all, but also scents and taste are quite well done. But my personal preference is for books with strong characters and Celia and Marco aren't. He's almost a complete cipher. She's a bit more developed, she's described a person that everyone likes, willful and charming, she certainly seems like someone the reader would like. But they're both pretty much blank canvases. This bothered me a lot more before I read Jillian's review, where she mentions that the circus is the main character: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/.... I hope you'll read her review, because it captures a lot of my thoughts about the book. (And I hope she doesn't mind me using it here because I don't know her and we aren't "friends.") Once I saw that review I was able to let my enjoyment of the book resurface more once again. It became clear to me that the rest of the book is really an excuse to let the author's imagination about the circus blossom. And it does. Where many other aspects of the book falter, the circus is vivid and alive. It's easy to understand why so many people, both characters in the story and readers of the story, are in love with it. I do wish that the author would have made the supporting tale more consistent. I'm going note several specific items that did not hold water and mark it spoilers. But that doesn't entirely take away from the achievement of the book for me.
(view spoiler)[As I was reading the book I was really interested to see how Bailey's story would unfold. The back and forth between the two timelines was one of the things that I thought made the book more interesting. But in the end it ended up making no sense at all. When I first finished the book I was only a bit frustrated. I thought binding him was a crummy move. I've read books about similar situations being a nightmare and not a dream. The kid was only sixteen, how the heck did he know what he wanted? Saying that he was able to choose was crazy, even if he did, being bound to do anything forever is only fun in, well, a fantasy. Then I started thinking about him more and his entire story fell apart. He was only there in the end because Poppet told him she saw him there. So why did she see him there? He wouldn't have been there if she hadn't told him to come. It was totally circular. Especially because they made a big point of saying that he wasn't even destined or chosen, he was just in the right place at the right time and cared enough to do the job. So then it could have been anyone, they could have opened the gate and waved in any of the rêveurs? So why did the author make such a big deal about Poppet seeing Bailey and him having to be there to save everyone? His entire story didn't make sense, he's either fated or he isn't, and either way it sucks that he ended up bound just like Marco and Celia, even if he loved it, it's still a kind of slavery.
My biggest problem with the book was that in the end the underlying premise didn't make any sense at all. The whole book is a mystery building toward finding out what the contest is. So fine, the stakes make sense, but the contest doesn't at all. The two villains were testing their teaching methods of chaos versus control. But in retrospect, other than one being meaner in his methods than the other I never saw anything resembling chaos versus control in Alexander or Prospero's teaching, what little we saw of their teaching. And I never could tell much difference in Celia and Marco's magic style. So who ended up being the winner (or not) didn't show anything at all about these methods at all. (hide spoiler)]
When I look back at the entire game and the sub-plot with Bailey and the twins, it's just an excuse for the author to stage a lovely circus. And it is lovely, but I would have liked a solid story to go with the pretty images. In the end a book that I was somewhat leaning toward giving four stars because of the loveliness had to be marked down because of the many holes in logic. I could deal with the somewhat weak development of the human characters in favor of the beautiful circus, but when I have to push away the irritation from plot holes to try to keep the lovely images as my main memory of the book instead, it's quite a shame.
This is just a charming, fun book. I've been a huge fan of Chris Moriarty's ever since I read Spin State; it was one of the first books I gave five st...moreThis is just a charming, fun book. I've been a huge fan of Chris Moriarty's ever since I read Spin State; it was one of the first books I gave five stars to, I remember just loving it. I read Spin Control as soon as I could and waited anxiously to hear about the third book in the series. And waited and waited. I was thrilled to see Chris appear on Goodreads and to find out that she was writing both this book an the long awaited third book in the Spin series (coming soon!). But I was curious as to how this book would turn out as it's such a huge departure from the hard science fiction of Spin. And I'm happy to report that it turned out great!
The experience starts with the great investment the publisher made in the the book, it's just beautiful. The cover has a big engraved centerpiece and four engraved pictures in each corner. The back cover has addition artwork, as do the inside covers. Best of all are the full page illustrations that pop up throughout the book that really set the tone and establish the time and place beautifully. In addition, the font is just perfect, it's a bit quirky and a bit old fashioned, it also sets the tone for the book perfectly.
But most importantly, the story is great. It's an alternate history of New York, magic, Jewish culture and mysticism, growing up, politics, big business, inventions, show biz, and more. There are levels to the story that will appeal to kids and adults. It's a really smart story that doesn't talk down to kids but I think will still be fun for them. If you can't resist a story about Edison, Houdini, J.P. "Morgaunt", nice Jewish boys roped into being police Inspectors, slightly tomboy rich girls, mysterious police Inspectors, scary dybbuks, and so much more, then you have to read this book. The only thing I wonder about his how the heavy focus on Jewish culture will play to non-Jews. I loved it, but I wonder if it will feel confusing or overwhelming to people who are unfamiliar with some of the terms or practices. But I hope it people will find it as interesting as I did. Anyway, it was just super fun and charming, and it turned into a real page turner at the end. There wasn't anything about the book that I didn't like except that it ended too soon and that I can't wait to see more about these characters and this version of New York that Chris has created. This is a book that is actually worth the price, and would be a great gift as well.(less)
I loved it. I laughed out loud more than with any book I can remember. It's just the wit and the phrases she uses and the way she puts things together...moreI loved it. I laughed out loud more than with any book I can remember. It's just the wit and the phrases she uses and the way she puts things together, it just cracks me up. Each passage is crafted for maximum effect, perfectly suited to the tone of the book, there isn't one thing that's out of place. It's unique and tremendously fun. And it was better than the last book as well. Can't wait for the next one. (less)
I liked this book much more than I expected to. From the descriptions I'd seen, I thought it was a tale about a small town girl being thrust into city...moreI liked this book much more than I expected to. From the descriptions I'd seen, I thought it was a tale about a small town girl being thrust into city life and family politics. It kind of is, but it's so much more. The author describes it as a mash-up of, "Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy with airship, Phoenician spies, the intelligent descendants of troodons, and a dash of steampunk (or at least some gas lamps)." Princes, mages, the industrial revolution, human rights/democracy revolutionaries, and an unseen spirit world are all colliding in this book and our girls are stuck in the middle of it all. It was much more complex than I expected, with fascinating glimpses of world history and culture. And it had more adventure than I expected as well.
That being said, there were several slow parts with too much boring traveling or dumps of generally interesting history that should have been better integrated into the story rather than just, well, dumped on us. But those issues were relatively minor. Overall, I liked it very much, despite my general lack of love for alternate histories. In fact, the way she wove the historical elements together to create such a multi-ethnic and diverse world was my favorite part. She created a new "tartan" of peoples and it really worked for me. I'm really looking forward to seeing how these complex elements continue to unwind in the next book. (less)
I loved it. I never went for more than a few pages without chuckling. It's just good silly, smart fun. Carriger is great at turning a funny phrase, bo...moreI loved it. I never went for more than a few pages without chuckling. It's just good silly, smart fun. Carriger is great at turning a funny phrase, both honoring and satirizing historical romances at the same time. The steampunk elements are fun. I enjoyed seeing more of Floote and Lyall (although Floote's secrets are making me nuts). Conall isn't in it much except to act like a fool, but that does give her the excuse to go off on her own. Every series where the romance begins in the first book faces the issue of how to keep the story going, usually involving convoluted ways to keep the couple apart (Aguirre's Jax anyone?). So, did lots of silly things happen? Sure. Was that part of the fun? Yup! With Carriger, getting there is more than half the fun; the destination is enjoyable, but almost beside the point.
It was also fun to see a preview for Nicole Peeler's Tempest Rising in the back. She's another favorite author with a similar voice, although her series is set in modern times. Both authors are very funny and write about women who are strong, funny and liberated (for their times). If you like Carriger's Alexia, give Jane a chance as well.(less)
A very solid short story that takes place in the past in Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer world, but doesn't require any familiarity with the series. Kit...moreA very solid short story that takes place in the past in Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer world, but doesn't require any familiarity with the series. Kit Marlowe, one of the regular (and most intriguing) vampire characters in Cassie's stories, appears here, but this story is really about a witch named Gillian and about how the witch covens are being forced out of England by a new group called the Silver Circle. Fans of the Palmer series will recognize this group, but new readers won't feel lost at all and are sure to just enjoy the strong story. It originally appeared in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 but is now available for free from the author's website on smashwords. This story should be read before The Queen's Witch, which is a sequel to this story, and is also now available in both locations. (less)
Very (very) much like The Mortal Instruments; if you liked that series, you are sure to like this. I would have liked to see more originality, but the...moreVery (very) much like The Mortal Instruments; if you liked that series, you are sure to like this. I would have liked to see more originality, but the author writes fun characters and scenes, so it's ok. Tessa is just like Clary, thrust into this new world, but takes it all in stride with bravery and humor. She was less irritatingly-perfect though, not every good idea in the book was hers. Will is another smart-mouthed, handsome boy hero who's either a jerk or tortured or both. Jessamine is much like Isabelle. At least Jem is a fresh character, as are Charlottle and Henry, who run the London institute.
The steampunk elements are fun. The cover is lovely, it's nice to see such detailed and original art; so many covers these says are stock photography with a few generic photoshopped details. The story is entertaining, if a bit predictable. It seems to me that it's a bit more simple than the other series, but it's hard for me to compare because I listened to the audiobooks of TMI. That always makes things seem more complex. I also remember really enjoying how visual many of the scenes in TMI seemed when being read to me; I'm not sure if there is less of that here or if I'm just processing it differently in print.
For those who haven't read TMI, I still think you'll find the book very enjoyable. The kids are appealing and the world is well-drawn. The writing flows easily. The epilogue was more annoying than intriguing though.
Here's a fun bit of trivia I noticed when I was looking up some of the characters in TMI's last names: the club where Clary and Simon first saw the Shadowhunters was named The Pandemonium Club. Coincidence?(less)