So, this was the book that I decided to pick for my first read of 2017! There was no particular reason that I chose it, otherActual Rating: 3.5 Stars
So, this was the book that I decided to pick for my first read of 2017! There was no particular reason that I chose it, other than that I felt in the mood for a Murakami read. It was late at night so I decided to pick ‘After Dark’; the title just seemed to resonate with my midnight reading. I also plunged into this having read no synopsis whatsoever on it. So, here’s my best version of summing it up:
The reader takes the role, along with the narrator, as an unseeable observer to the interactions and plots of the characters. The text focuses primarily on two sisters—Eri Asai, the fashionable elder sister who has mysteriously ‘went to sleep’ and rarely wakes, and Mari Asai, the younger and more hardy sister, who spends her nights haunting local Denny’s while she reads her book. It is clear there is something not quite right about the slumber of Eri, and even Mari seems to sense it to an extent. Mari, meanwhile, is pulled into the world of the people who are awake long after dark. She meets a handful of very colorful characters including a trombonist from her past, the manager of a love hotel and a Chinese prostitute.
The book was very short and I could have finished it in a day if I had sat down with the time. It was a good story and had some typical Murakami tropes that I’ve begun to spot along (mysterious woman, cats, jazz and classical music). It was a good book and it definitely had the feeling of ‘nightfall’, if that’s understandable! I thought the story was enhanced by my decision to read it only after dark. I was left with some unanswered questions, but I found the ending to be very sweet and over all satisfying. A good, solid story to keep you companion at night as you’re falling asleep. ...more
I have read and studied a great deal of Alison Weir’s historical accounts and biographies regarding the EWow. Forgive me, but I’m a little overwhelmed.
I have read and studied a great deal of Alison Weir’s historical accounts and biographies regarding the English monarchy, ranging from the War of the Roses to Katherine Parr. I love how she does her best to show all sides of the story and to remain as true to the facts as absolutely possible. While in her other historical works she does wander into the realm of speculation on occasion, she allows her readers to know just when she does and provides them with multiple view points so the reader can make their own informed opinions. However, it was Weir’s absolute concern with the facts that made me unsure whether or not she would be able to write a good historical fiction novel. While I knew it would be close to the truth as any fiction book could be, I did not know how Weir’s style would translate into the realm of fiction.
She definitely assured me, with this book, that there was nothing to worry about at all. I was right when I thought Weir would stick to the facts, but she wrote beautifully and elegantly, carefully incorporating actual dialogue and written letters to craft an engaging tale of the first, and true, wife of King Henry VIII. Told in third person limited, readers only see the story and facts as from Katherine’s point of view. We see her arrival to England as the Infanta and her transition from Princess of Wales to Queen of England to the discarded wife of a King enthralled with another. All the facts are there, but set forth in such a manner that makes the reader absolutely sympathetic towards Katherine’s cause. Though Anne Boleyn is present, she is not seen much more than a lurking, angry figure in the distant reaches of London. This makes me so much more eager to read the next volume in which Anne Boleyn’s story will be encapsulated.
The book was quite hard to read in places; not because it was dull or that it was hard, but because there is just such raw emotion. By the end of the book I had finally cried. Katherine’s story is not a happy one, though it does have many happy moments. Her story is one of hardship and unwavering conviction. I could not help but be moved by the strength of this woman in her beliefs and the kindness that overflowed her heart. If you read this book, bring a box of tissues along with you. By the end, you’ll need it. ...more
I first heard of Carmilla in my Victorian Literature class this semester. I was intrigued at the idea that this was the predecessor of Dracula, whichI first heard of Carmilla in my Victorian Literature class this semester. I was intrigued at the idea that this was the predecessor of Dracula, which I have not yet read, and thought it would be an interesting addition of examination for the end of term paper I'm writing. The paper, 10-15 pages long, is a topic of my choosing: the Victorian obsession with the occult and what it reflects back on the duality of their culture. While I DID find some interesting information in that regard, I found the book to be actually about the contaminating effects of the fallen woman on the angel of the house, and the threat it posed to the role of masculinity in the domestic sphere.
Carmilla is told in first person point of view from the narrator, Laura. She is a young woman of nineteen who lives in a countryside castle with her father and two governesses. As a child she vaguely recalls having been victimized by a beautiful, unearthly woman. But years have passed since that moment and she has dismissed it as no more than a dream as she eagerly awaits a visiting friend, Bertha the General's daughter. Instead she is found herself occupied by a completely unexpected companion when an aristocrat's carriage crashes on the side of their road and a woman of regal bearing asks Laura's father to take her young daughter in while she attend to urgent business.
Carmilla's, the noble daughter, presence changes not only the country side but the household as well. A plague has struck the area, targeting only young and attractive women. Laura, too, seems to be changing for the worse the more that she spends time with her strange and passionate new friend. It is almost impossible to disregard that Le Fanu intended the relationship born between the two women to be most certainly homoerotic. Carmilla has become obsessed with Laura and there's much sighing, fondling, kissing, blushing and caressing on her part, despite the obvious discomfort of Laura.
It's a very interesting story and a very short read. It could be tackled in an afternoon if you have the hour or two to sit and read without interruption. It was an enjoyable story and makes even more interesting material to dissect for my paper. I began reading it in anticipation of finding clues for the Victorian duality performance and instead got an interesting link between Victorian lesbianism and vampirism. ...more
Very interesting compilation of Bloodborne's lore. It doesn't cover everything but touches on quite a few subjects and the author does his best to tryVery interesting compilation of Bloodborne's lore. It doesn't cover everything but touches on quite a few subjects and the author does his best to try to make as straight forward a timeline as its actually possible. Would really be interested in reading more. While I didn't agree with all the interpretations made, a majority of them make an overwhelming amount of sense. The only theory of his that I was kind of iffy about was the scientific explanation of the Paleblood. Some subjects left out that could have been included were: Hemwick, Paarl, and a few of the other minor side characters. Overall very good, worth the read and download. Glad I found this!...more
Wow, what a book! I'll give the usual heads up before you go on reading, there will be spoilers but I will make sure to mark and hide them all as I doWow, what a book! I'll give the usual heads up before you go on reading, there will be spoilers but I will make sure to mark and hide them all as I do this review so you can enjoy the review without ruining the book! Let me say that the anticipation for this book, for me, was big but not huge. I first came across the Percy Jackson books when I was in my first year of college and all of the books were already out. I devoured them in days and fell in love. They're not challenging reads, you won't stretch your mind here, but they're fun and lighthearted. If books were food I'd compare the Riordan books to chicken noodle soup, mac n cheese, or another comfort food--good for the soul. That being said I did learn a bit about some more obscure Greek mythology, which is really fun considering I know quite a bit about it. So, how did the final book in the series compare? Pretty well!
The last two books in the series I've felt kind of iffy about. They did not seem quite as energetic as I'd have liked, but in hindsight I probably should have appreciated them more and do plan to read the series again as one complete whole. In The Blood of Olympus, Riordan does as he does best. He places are characters in impossible situations and gives them opportunities to sink or swim. Riordan also did a very good job at focusing on characters that could have been assumed as secondary, while still keeping plenty of action towards the main group. I absolutely loved the attention paid to Nico and Reyna, who are now two of my favorite characters.
(view spoiler)[Nico's ability to shadow travel? Bad ass. In fact, everything about Nico suddenly developed into bad-assery. I also liked the relationship that he developed with Reyna. It gave him the opportunity to have a big sister again, and gave Reyna the opportunity to be a big sister, which I think she greatly enjoyed. For a brief moment I thought that maybe Riordan was going to pair them up romantically, making Nico bisexual, but the more I read about the two of them the more it clearly developed into a familial bond. I also felt relieved that this, and his relationship with Hazel, seemed to help him accept the death of Bianca more. I half expected her ghost to show up at some point, to either help him gain closure or hinder it, but meh! Everything worked out as it should. I also thought his revealing his secret to Percy and Annabeth at the end was fairly funny. Oh! Did anyone else think that he and Will Solace might develop a thing for each other? Just food for thought..
I was a little disappointed with Orion. I kind of hoped for something a little more dramatic, maybe more towards the end, but ultimately he served his purpose which was to give us an inside look at the praetor. You also get a better look at the ghosts that are, quite literally, haunting Reyna and how she's developed into who she is. A very sad, but necessary story. Without it I would have hardly took much thought about Reyna's involvement. At least not in depth. I liked her connection with Lord Pegasus, too, and the other Pegasi. I thought it was great how they respected her for having to put down her beloved horse because of his sickness and injuries. My heart went out to her as someone who's had to recently put down my beloved cat and best friend for being sick. My only question was... Whatever happened to Black Jack? You read that he's surviving with Reyna's help during the battle but, unless I accidentally scanned over a sentence, you don't hear about him afterward. (hide spoiler)]
Meantime, the main group is of course getting plenty of action. Percy, Jason, Piper, Annabeth, Hazel, Frank and Leo are still trying to prevent the Earth Mother waking, weaving their way through the ancient lands to Athens.
(view spoiler)[And what a great job they didn't do, haha. There adventures on the way to Athens were fairly amusing; I especially loved the chapter with Percy's godly sister Kym. I was extremely amused by Jason's promises of honor and, especially, fear. He did an excellent job haggling and I was left grinning at the end of the chapter. Very cool goddess, I especially like her. I also thought it was amusing how Zeus seemed completely thrown off when Jason later mentioned her. Zeus: "Kym--what?" Poseidon: "Er... She's one of mine."
Riordan did a good job at showing Percy's and Annabeth's PTSD regarding their time in Tartarus which was just what I was wanting. I would have been miffed if they had come through all that and been all bright and chipper constantly as if none of that had happened. Hazel seemed to take a back seat for most of it, being involved but not getting a great amount of attention. I wish she would have had more time at the center stage. Frank's grown into a badass legionnaire and Piper's done an excellent job at breaking away from the typical Aphrodite mold. I especially like how Riordan remembered the little story about Piper being named as such because her grandfather thought she'd be able to mesmerize even snakes. Awesome, really awesome!
And they arrive in Athens. What do they do? They wake up the Earth Mother. BECAUSE OF YOUR NOSEBLEED PERCY! Shame, shame. Granted I do agree that there were other things to worry about, but still tsk. While Reyna and Nico are uniting the camps, Percy's group are now battling giants. With who? Gods! Lots and lots of them! It was a pretty bad ass scene and had me laughing in multiple spots. I especially loved Aphrodite's moral support during the fight: "Yes, very good! You're doing beautifully, dear!" Ultimately, Gaia woke up as we knew she would and it came down to the final battle. Zeus smacked them all, literally, back to camp and the fight was on!
Though the final battle was awesome in itself, I did feel as if it were a little anticlimatic. Since the beginning of the series we're always faced with the terrifying prospect that once Gaia wakes, shit is really going to go down. And while some of it does, in actuality the battle only lasted a handful of chapters. It was intense, but short lived. I especially liked watching the Romans getting into battle position and meticulously slaughtering their enemies; felt like I was reading a portion of 300. Well, Gaia is destroyed thanks to Jason and Leo, who had been taking a sneaky back seat to most things during the story. Gaia is defeated, the Romans and Greeks are united--"VICTORY TO THE GODS!" as Nike would scream--and only one death: Leo's.
Granted he died in a very heroic way, and it served it's purpose. He was revived with the physician's cure and when he woke again, he was united with Calypso. A beautiful, happy ending. (hide spoiler)]
I would have liked an Epilogue chapter of sorts, talking more about their adult lives later down the road, but the small glimpse we had was good too!
And the best part? Riordan's coming out with a new series! Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: Sword of Summer Hell to the yah? Any relation to Annabeth? Can't wait to find out!...more
Midway was an interesting and quick read. I saw it being offered for free during World Book Knight on Amazon and grabbed it up for my kindle. I'm alwaMidway was an interesting and quick read. I saw it being offered for free during World Book Knight on Amazon and grabbed it up for my kindle. I'm always a fan of seeing new indie authors emerge and seeing what they have to offer the reading community. Sometimes you find diamonds and sometimes you find fool's gold.
This was... not quite either. I would compare Midway to an unpolished gemstone. The author has a very elegant writing style and right away I was able to fall into the setting that Francis had painted. I could hear the sounds of people in the distance screaming in joy and terror as they rode rides, flooding out the sounds of the ever beckoning carnies. I could smell the funnel cake and taste the fresh, hot corn dog. Francis did a very good job at painting her scene and the character was someone who could be any of us. However, Mary Beth wasn't simply a self-insert character, she was able to put herself aside from that sort of thing with her own quirks, fears, and worries.
However, while the story was good the ending left me with some questions that I didn't quite feel.. satisified with. I felt it left the story off a cliffhanger of sorts. My instinctive thought was that perhaps this short story could maybe bleed into another story, or maybe even a series of stories. It felt like the ending was a loose thread. That, however, may have been how the author was wanting it so the story could be played around with at another time.
Now time for the key questions:
Why 4 out 5 stars? Actually, I would call it more like 3.5, but there were a couple factors that bumped it up to a 4. The story did what it was meant to: it entertained me and it made me suspensful. The writing style was impeccable and well done for an indie author. I've read quite a few indie author books and short stories and this story trumps quite a few of them. I do not give out ratings easily. I analyze the story hard after I read it and try to be as honest and fair as possible. Writer's do not get better by people constantly praising them, they get better by honesty. And I honestly felt that the author deserved the four stars. The only thing that made me withold the last star was my confusion towards the end, and my feeling that this is not her best work. I have a feeling that Francis has the ability to make much better work, and I'm saving the five stars for when I've got the chance to read it.
Would I have bought it? In retrospect, after I've read it, I would have to say that the price put up is perfectly reasonable! It's an interesting, suspenseful story and worth the .99C that Francis is modestly asking for.
Would I recommend it? Sure! It's good and I urge those who are unsure and sitting on the fence to give it a shot! It won't blow you out of the water, but it will give you you money's worth!
Francis had a way with words that has made me very curious and excited about where she's going as a writer. I may have to read some of her other stuff and give them a read. =) Given some time to sharpen her work, she might be able to give A.R. Wise a run for his money someday! Good luck, Francis, and keep writing!...more