The Informationist has one of the most daring and distinctive heroines I've personally read about. Vanessa Michael Monroe is practically a force of naThe Informationist has one of the most daring and distinctive heroines I've personally read about. Vanessa Michael Monroe is practically a force of nature. Her personality is hard to pin down, even if you know her very well, which few people do. And she makes a very bad enemy. While some characters might go to Africa to run away from their past or to define a new life for themselves, Monroe is the opposite. She was born in Africa and raised there. Although she is Caucasian American descent, Africa flows in her veins and helped to make her who she was, and not all in good ways.
Monroe doesn't let fear define her, instead she walks in defiance of it. Being afraid is not her problem. It's the rage and anger she keeps under lock and key. She struggles against demons from her past that simmer in her blood and make her heart beat fast with the tribal beat of war. Control is a way of life when she knows just what she's capable of. Yet, she is unafraid to go into dangerous places when others would shirk such a responsibility. When Emily Burbank's adoptive father contacts her to find out what happened to his daughter in Africa four years ago, she is going to have to go back to the place she was born and face her ugly past.
I love to read about heroines who are tough and resourceful. Who can kick butt just like the action heroes. Monroe is definitely one of those kinds of heroines. I like that she is very adaptable and clever about thinking through situations. While she has other weapons, she uses the one between her ears very well. Her personality is really abrasive and she's not what I would consider a typical "likable" heroine. And yet, there is something about her that resonates with me. I like that she is such a survivor. I mean, who could go through what she did and still be 100% sane and free of scars? She actually is quite sane, although I think deep down, she fears what lurks in the abyss she keeps locked away inside. She's sort of the opposite of Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. She's been there and she walked away. It holds no appeal for her.
I liked the complex relationship that Monroe has with Francisco. I didn't expect it, yet when it happened, I thought, "Of course." I knew that Monroe would have to come full circle and get closure about Africa in order to heal. That process was ugly and painful, but necessary. I also liked her relationship with Miles. Each encounter helped to shape her in different ways, as relationship with others should do.
While I didn't like everything about the narrative, I did like how the author builds tension and unfolds the story, and keeps me guessing what's going to happen next. While one could easily draw conclusions about what happened in Equatorial Guinea, it's different from what I thought, and complicated. I think this is a book that lends itself well to audio, because some of the written facts about Emily's disappearance and the various places she went/the stonewalling she encounters, and Monroe's search in those places might be a bit dry on paper. I also think that some of the action scenes could have been more suspenseful and intensely written. There was a sense of risk, but it was a bit muted at times. As far as the narrator, I liked her voice a lot. She captures who Michael aka Monroe very well.
This is one of those books that doesn't build up one's faith in humanity. Corruption runs so deep and twisted in this world, and some places are built on this foundation. And while some of us who are lucky to live in a more lawful country, those same individuals go to other places in the world and make things worse in their conquest for power and money because they can get away with that in some places in the world, where life is cheap. Like some of my other thriller/suspense/action hero favorites, Monroe is there to teach them a lesson, but in her case, that lesson is a costly one for her as well.
I couldn't imagine living the life that Vanessa Michael Monroe has lived. One of the things I love about fiction is that I can go on a journey with a distinctive heroine like Monroe and see life through her lenses. I can feel her pain and her anger and experience the victories and defeats she has, and it helps me to understand that life is a complicated thing, but we can make it through things we never imagined possible.
This book might not work for everyone, but I found it interesting and thought-provoking. It felt unique and Monroe is an unforgettable heroine. She's kind of lawless in some ways, but deep down, she has a code that she won't stray from. She's a complicated women. Readers who enjoy this kind of heroine or a reader looking for something different might enjoy The Informationist....more
Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under diSynopsis
Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under dispute. She has learned all the many lessons that Henry taught her to survive in the cold wilderness of the North. When Henry is murdered and she flees her pursuers, she will have to rely on that training, especially when she's stranded on a deserted narrow island in the middle of the raging, icy river. The days tick down slowly and her chances for survival narrow with each day with no food and limited shelter. Liana must face the unsympathetic, cruel force of nature, all alone on her frigid island of refuge.
An Island Between Two Shores is a tale of survival that brings back my memories of reading stories by Jack London in which humans travel to the frozen North and pit their wills against the unforgiving wilderness. The story of the struggle between man and nature is not a new one. In this case, it is woman against nature. I appreciated that because gender is no factor in having the skills to survive in the wilderness. It's about knowledge, will, and sometimes just sheer luck. In this case, Liana's education in living on the land in the North comes from the best, and other than that, it's up to her wits against nature.
The writing was crisp and clear, taking the reader to this place of brutal cold and harsh elements. It had a vividly realistic feel. Williams paints a bleak picture, but there is beauty in the descriptions of nature, even at its most fierce. Liana herself appreciates the beauty of nature as she waits for the ice on the river to freeze so she can leave the island. With little to do except rest in her improvised shelter, she has time to observe it. She sees the Northern Lights and all the constellations in all their unpolluted glory. In the wilderness, man (or in this case, woman) is alone with herself and the forces of nature. Self-knowledge is unavoidable in this process. Liana's inner dialogue as the days count down and she realizes that she is growing weaker wrenched at my psyche.
This story grabbed at my gut. I wanted to keep reading, hoping all the while that she would survive, yet fearing that she would not. The sheer enormity of Liana's struggle to survive, and the bleak nature of her predicament hit home with me. I could feel the grinding ache of the fierce cold, as well as the horrible emptiness of the starvation that Liana suffered. An Island Between Two Shores will stay with me a long time. In a profound way, I identified with this young woman, who just wanted to survive the cruel, indifferent wilderness that preys on both the strong and the weak.
As much as I enjoyed this story and appreciated the writing, I felt the ending was weak and robbed this book of some of its impact because it was too quick and a bit predictable. Otherwise, this is a well-written novel. I believe those who enjoy survival tales will probably appreciate An Island Between Two Shores as much as I did.
I am so glad my library had this book. I was looking for a good female lead action/adventure series, and I think I have found one with Emma CauldridgeI am so glad my library had this book. I was looking for a good female lead action/adventure series, and I think I have found one with Emma Cauldridge. I liked that while Emma makes a very good action heroine, she starts out as an everyday type of woman and doesn't unrealistically turn into Rambo Jane. Her skill set qualified her for saving the day when placed in an incredible situation. While there are plenty of tough guys in this book, they don't overshadow Emma's opportunity to be heroic.
The setting of rural rainforest Colombia simmers. Freveletti vividly captures the sights, sounds, feel, and smells of the environment to a very visceral degree. I felt like I was there in the jungle with Emma and the hostages. I really dislike hot weather and humid environments, so I was sympathetically miserable with Emma and the other passengers. On top of that was the callous disregard for life and the cruelty of the paramilitaries and drug cartel members. Because they were so awful, it made me root for Emma even more. Their tendency to dismiss those they feel are weaker and to abuse them actually backfired when they met Emma and Sumner.
The story builds very satisfactorily. It hits the ground running and like Emma, the reader is forced to adapt and react to the situation. At first, you don't quite understand why the plane goes down and how it relates to the guerrillas, and what Emma's role is. As you keep reading, those questions get answered, and it's only near the end, you really find out why Emma is in Colombia at all, and that was quite cool as well.
This is a good book for readers who enjoy characters who have to survive on the land and live by their wits. Emma definitely holds her own, and I loved how Emma exploits her background as a chemist with a background in the therapeutic properties of plants. There is a good message here about brain versus brawn. The strongest, most vicious don't always win the war. Endurance and resilience often win the race, which really works for this book, since Emma is an endurance runner and a scientist, trained both to survive in harsh circumstances and to use her brain.
I enjoyed the secondary characters, such as Sumner, Edward Banner and Carol Stromeyer, Miguel, and of course the German Shepherd Boris, among others, who add texture to this novel. While the villains are not quite as developed, they are not cardboard. Freveletti is unafraid to show humans at their worst, but I like that she doesn't lay on the gory descriptions. The action is fierce and descriptive enough not to rely on gore. It's sad enough to think of those hostages being forced to hike through the jungle and abused when they don't have the stamina of their native counterparts. Although I admit I loved the scene where Emma uses maggots to heal up a festering wound on another character. My love of medicine and natural remedies held me captive in reading of Emma's ingenuity with using what the rainforest provides liberally to help others and herself.
This was a fun, exciting book that I finished in less than 24 hours. That should tell how much I enjoyed it. The writing flows and keeps the reader's interest. And the action sequences are frequent and well-plotted. While there are no info-dumps, I felt that the author definitely did her research, which makes a book even better. I would definitely recommend this book to readers looking for a new action heroine or readers who like a good jungle survival adventure. I'll be reading more of Freveletti's books. I'm thrilled that my library has the next book and another in the series. I love my library!...more
We often have ideas of what we want in life, but they aren’t necessarily what we need. Such was the case with Michael Bowen. He asked the Lord to sendWe often have ideas of what we want in life, but they aren’t necessarily what we need. Such was the case with Michael Bowen. He asked the Lord to send him a bride, a genteel, elegant Southern lady. The Lord sent him Selina instead. Of course, he took one look at the rough and tumble, trouser-wearing , but very beautiful young woman, and thought he’d been cheated. It turns out that Selina had her friend write those letters, unaware of the embellishments her friends had made. Nevertheless, Michael was a man who took his vows seriously, and he’d married her, even if she wasn’t the woman he’d fallen in love with via the letters they had exchanged. He would make the best of this marriage, but he didn’t believe he’d ever love her. He was afraid to love the wrong kind of woman after what his eldest brother went through with his first wife.
Selina fell in love with Michael via the letters he’d sent her. She came to Idaho from Kentucky in good faith, determined to be a good wife to her new husband. She was perfectly happy with him, with his good looks, and his honorable personality, and she was happy to have a safe home and plenty of food, and an accepting family of in-laws. However, it was heart breaking knowing that she wasn’t enough for her husband, what he wanted. That he didn’t love her for who she was. Regardless, she too had made vows and she’d keep them. They both prayed that God would make the best of their marriage, and give them the hearts for being a good husband and wife to each other.
Debra Ullrick charmed me with this novel. Her writing is crisp and lively. Her prose nicely descriptive and full of imagery. I found Selina utterly delightful. She is comfortable in her own skin. She’s a giving, generous person who is highly capable of many things, even if that list doesn’t include reading and writing, speaking genteelly, and wearing dresses. She wants to improve things about her that need improving, but she doesn’t want to fit into anyone’s box for her. She believes that God made everyone and everything unique, and that’s the way she wants to stay. I like that she stands up for herself with Michael when he tries to do the bossy husband bit. Like her, I don’t believe being a good wife means being a doormat to one’s husband. She’s perfectly willing to honor and cherish her husband, but she’s not going to let him control her. I loved how she inspired Michael to look at the small things one typically takes for granted, the ever-present beauty of the world around him. To stop and smell the roses. She continually surprised him, and showed him that God knew exactly what he needed in a wife. I loved Selina because she was easy to love. I wanted Michael to feel the same. It took him a while, but ultimately he realized just what a good woman God had brought him. Michael was a good man. I didn’t like some of his tendencies to be narrow-minded about what he thought his life and his wife should be. I liked that he was a man of faith who truly wanted to do what was right. He was afraid that he couldn’t love his wife, but his actions showed love in that he treated her with respect, took care of her, stood up for her, and opened his life to Selina. He honored his vows, and he showed what he didn’t believe he could feel. Love is about what you do, not what you say. And I could see love in Michael’s actions towards Selina, long before he owned up or acknowledged it.
I am so glad that I read this book, because I enjoyed the story and the messages about the Christian walk in it. Along with a beautiful romance, it made for a very fulfilling read. I liked that even though this is a clean romance, Ms. Ullrick did a good job of conveying the chemistry between Selina and Michael, through their thoughts, their interactions, and their kisses, both gentle and passionate. There’s no question that they have a true love match.
The only reason I didn’t give this five stars is because Michael’s fixation on not being able to love Selina, and her efforts to change herself to make herself worthy of his life, along with the aspects about God giving him the power to love her seemed a bit unromantic. I do believe God shows us what love is, and I think that a Christian marriage should definitely involve God in the process of relating to one’s spouse, but I wanted Michael to realize that he loves Selina out of his own heart. He did come to this conclusion eventually, and realized how he wasn’t doing right by Selina trying to make her something she wasn’t. So that was good.
That issue aside, this was an infectiously readable, wonderful book. I would recommend The Unlikely Wife to any historical romance readers open to a book with an obvious Christian message. I will be reading more by this author.
It's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroineIt's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroines I've ever read about, both in adult and young adult literature! How much crap can one girl go through? As I listened, I kept thinking how morose this story was. But I had to keep listening. Hoping that Plain Kate would find joy and a place to call home.
This is a novel that shows the destructive effects of prejudice in an interesting way. In this book, anyone who is different or odd has to be a 'witch.' Everyone is so busy blaming everything that goes wrong around them on witches (who are more than anything just anyone who sticks out), they don't even have the sense to go after the real cause of the problem. Even those who are outsiders don't show nearly the amount of tolerance that they should. That makes for a very bitter pill to swallow.
What I loved about this story, what kept me reading was Kate. It was not easy to walk alone, and to keep walking after all she had lost. But she does. And I admire her for that. Also her cat, Taggle. Talking about a scene stealer. I loved him. The author knows cat behavior very well. I would laugh at Taggle's antics and what he would say. He's charmed so that he can talk, but he expresses himself in very much the way I can imagine my cats talking. I definitely give the author brownie points for that.
Although it's never stated, the setting is very Russian. Even the folkore gives this story an indisputible Russian stamp. Russian elements always work for me!
The tone of this story was hard to handle at times. It's very grim in a way. There are spots of brightness and joy like a ray of sunlight shining through a cloudbank. But for the most part, this story has a very downcast feel to it. That sadness that permeated this story grabbed at me. I was glad that Taggle was there for needed comic relief. As an optimist, I looked for evidence of hope for Kate, another thing that kept me reading, even when one event had me sobbing out loud. I mean really crying. I was thinking how much can this one person suffer?
Although definitely the most depressing young adult book I've read in a long time, Plain Kate was a very good book. It's not one of those books that you put down with a smile, though. Instead, you feel a sense of moody reflection. If only to convey how ugly prejudice is, this book succeeds on that point. Substitute any class of people for the 'witches' as the persecuted group and you have a powerful story told in an imaginative way, and the lesson will get transmitted to an audience who I hope will take this lesson very seriously. I think that one should think hard about these issues. Thinking clearly might help a person to see that hatred of others because of their differences is just wrong. And a world that condones that kind of injustice makes for a cold, cruel world for all of us. If I have to read a book that's not so sunny and happy to get that message, I guess that's a good thing in the end....more
**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend to read a lot of historical fiction that is not romance. The Highest Stakes was a good stepping stone for me into the historical fiction genre, with a good, strong love story for my romance-loving palate.
I have to confess I did not grow up with horses. I actually never really had contact with them until I was in college. So, I became a equine aficionado later in my life. Without a doubt, The Highest Stakes is a book for horse-lovers. It is very clear that Ms. Lee loves, understands, and respects horses; and is very much an equestrienne. I appreciate the detail that she put into describing people firmly immersed in horse culture, and in giving this horse-racing novice a crash course into the horse-racing industry. Now, don't expect me to be down at the horse tracks every weekend. That's not going to happen. But I must say, I have a lot more respect for what goes into horse-racing. I am just as much a horse-lover as I ever was, maybe a little more after this book. In fact, I loved reading about the details of equine husbandry. I can certainly see how it becomes an obsession that can drive people in many ways, like it did with the three main characters in this story: Robert, Charlotte, and Philip.
On top of the foundation of horse-racing, this is a story about human nature: the dark sides, and the fundamental urges within people that drive them to achieve what they want most in life. For Robert and Charlotte, they just wanted each other. A mutual love of horses was their intial connection, and a great love blossomed between them from that starting point. Their road to happiness was a very crooked, even heartbreaking path. Many times, I felt like I was being twisted into painful knots as I read about all the troubles that this couple faced. I wanted to keep reading, crossing my fingers that things would work out; and at times, I was afraid to read one more page, for fear that their love would be driven past the point of survival. Fate seemed against them at many turns, although there was also a providential guiding hand that kept them working and striving towards their future together. I came to love and respect them both very deeply. I respect Ms. Lee that she was not afraid to put this couple through so much over the course of this book, even if it didn't always make for comfortable reading for me.
Philip was by far the most complex character. I must confess I still don't quite have him figured out. He manages to be a very self-serving person, but at the same time, he has a core of honor. Towards the end of the book, I really wanted to hate him, but I found I could not, because he was such a fascinating person, and truly did want to be a good man. He made some wrong decisions that really hurt two people that he cared about. At the same time, he played an important role in their destinies, and in some ways, helped to drive them to achieve the successes they obtained in the horsebreeding fields. One thing was for certain, he came very close to stealing the show, despite the fact that I really loved Robert and Charlotte's characters.
The writing was very good. Ms. Lee firmly establishes the Georgian period, and she doesn't have to spend a lot of detail describing what the characters wore, or what their houses looked like. Instead, she weaves in a time table of important events that occur in the background of this story, and which involve Robert and Phillip to no small extent. It felt very authentic, yet she always kept this book readable. To be honest, I am not sure that this book would appeal to readers who have no interest in horses. But that's okay. I am glad that Ms. Lee wrote a book about a subject that she clearly has a lot of passion for, and did it well; for her passion for horses is quite infectious to those who have the slightest inclination in that direction.
Quite frankly, this book came very close to being a five star book. I think that for readers who don't mind some very complicated obstacles between the hero and heroine, it probably would be a five star book. Unfortunately, I just don't like when the hero and heroine are together while they are married to other people. I really regretted that Robert and Charlotte's first time together occurs after she is forced to marry Philip. I can see that this was a realistic choice for Ms. Lee to make in plotting her story, but it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I would have preferred for Robert and Charlotte's happy ending to be unmarred by this. I freely admit that adultery is my huge pet peeve and it's hard to get past that when I am reading a romantic story. Despite that fact, I cheered on the couple for being able to get their happy ending. My other issue was that I found the ending to be a little abrupt. I was very glad to see Robert and Charlotte to achieve many of their life goals, but I would have preferred to see a little more page time spent on their reunion and how they dealt with Phillip. I did like the letter. It was a nice, and very fitting way for some of the denouement to be incorporated into the story.
The Highest Stakes was an excellent book. I was emotionally and intellectually involved with this story. It is very clear that Ms. Lee put a lot of heart and soul into this book, making for a great reading experience. Highly recommended to horse-lovers, fans of historical fiction, and those who love a good star-crossed romance.
Just a disclaimer here: This will be a very difficult review to write. In order to truly review this book, I have to talk about my own views on thingsJust a disclaimer here: This will be a very difficult review to write. In order to truly review this book, I have to talk about my own views on things and how books affect me personally. I am opening myself up here, which always makes me squirm. If you are reading this review and you don't agree with my beliefs on things, that's totally fine. But, I am not going to deny how I feel, because that is very important to me when I review a book, since I read books emotionally and not from a detached standpoint. Having said that, let's get this show on the road.
I can think of a list of reasons why I should not have liked this book, and I will start there:
1. I really dislike long books. As I told a friend on here, I am a 'hit it and quit it' reader--meaning, I like to read shorter to moderate-length (and occasionally longer) books, get them read, and move onto the next book. This book was a massive 901 pages!
2. Prostitution and paid sex is something that I absolutely detest the thought of. It squicks me out that someone would pay for sex or have sex for money or financial support/livelihood. I generally avoid this content like the plague, although a big part of my nature is to occasionally challenge myself and my perceptions of the world. It's good for me, even if the process is painful at times. This book has a heroine who is a courtesan, although she is called more ugly terms that I don't use. Not only that, her prostitution is a form of worship and honor to one of her dieties (if you want to call Fallen angels dieties).
3. I don't like books where the main characters sleep with a lot of people during the book. Promiscuity and sleeping around is another area that I am just not comfortable with. I especially don't like reading about sex with no love/emotional bond. This book was kind of interesting in that Phedre's sex is a form of worship. She didn't love most of the people she was intimate with, but she loved Elua, Naamah, and Kushiel, and that was expressed through her sex with her patrons. The genesis of the sacred nature of sex in this culture relates to the fact that the angel Naamah would lay with strangers to support Elua and the angels as they traveled through the Terre D'Ange. It's probably necessary to mention that the patron can be male or female. Elua's dictate is Love as thou wilt, which eliminates any stigma to same sex relationships. Although I am more of a male/female romance reader, I don't necessarily dislike same sex interactions, so that wasn't a huge issue for me.
4. I am very vanilla about sex. Meaning, I don't like reading about kinky, dark, twisted sex at all. I especially don't like reading about sadomasochistic/painful/humiliating sex. I don't understand that need and it's not something that I personally feel okay about. The main character in this story is a masochist. She was pricked by Kushiel (who is the angel who is the keeper of Hell and punishes the lost). That punishment is out of love to save their souls. Phedre possessing Kushiel's Dart marks one of her dark brown eyes with a dash of red, which is a visible manifestation of her being favored or cursed to have a physiology which made pain pleasurable for her, including emotional pain (which means that she got sexually aroused by being humiliated or forced or treated badly by her partner). I'm not going to go into detail here. I think you could use your imagination. I'll just leave it with two words to express my feelings: Ick Factor! Most of the sex scenes were very uncomfortable for me to read. In the author's defense, this book has very elegant sex scenes (for the subject matter). Somehow, she managed to avoid them coming off as repulsive and tawdry. My repulsion was based on my own comfort zones being exceeded, instead of deliberate acts of prurience on the author's part.
5. I typically don't care for stories with a lot of political intrigue and situations. Surprisingly, I found that I really got into that aspect of this story, and I was quite enthralled with the tangled web of conspiracies against members of the royal family and nobles. I believe it was because Ms. Carey did a great job of entwining Phedre into this Gordian Knot in a very intimate manner through her adoptive father, Anafiel Delaunay. Phedre becomes Delaunay's bondservant, and is trained to be a master spy as well as courtesan. Her skills aid him in his secret avocation to the royal family, hearing and seeing all, in the line of her duties as a courtesan.
6. The whole cultural set up of this story is very different from what I am used to. Surprisingly, this part was the easiest thing to get past. When I read fantasy, I expect that the author will build her own world from the ground up, and that might include other religious beliefs. It's easier for me if the author founds a whole new religious world divorced from the real world. I can easily separate myself from what I know and accept the concepts from the story and read it with a fresh mind. In this book, Ms. Carey takes a left turn from Christianity, and creates a world in which the main diety worshipped, Elua, is the son of Jesus' blood from when he was wounded on the cross and its union with Mother Earth. The other members of the pantheon are angels that chose to fall to accompany Elua in his exile. In other words, turning their back on God to follow Elua. The people with these beliefs are called D'Angelines, because they live in the country founded by Elua and his Angels called Terre D'Ange (Land of the Angel in French). Christianity still exists in the world, and its practitioners are called Yeshuites, after Jesus' Hebrew name of Yeshua. I believe there are also Muslims, but they are called Akkadians. The people who correspond to the Celts and Picts of Alba (Britain) and Eire (Ireland) have their own beliefs, and the Skaldi, who are like Norsemen, worship the Norse pantheon. Even though it was pretty different, I thought it was a pretty creative cultural genesis that Ms. Carey accomplished in this story.
Yes, that's a lot of reasons why I shouldn't have liked this book. Despite these things, I loved this book. It was fascinating. It kept my interest. I cared about the characters. Phedre was a heroine that I loved. I didn't like her assignations, and I would sort of roll my eyes when she took another one, much like Joscelin did. But, I liked her as a person. I could see that she was being true to herself, and I couldn't fault her for that. I loved how she came from very humble origins and made something wonderful of herself. I loved her loyalty and her caring heart. I loved how clever she was. She used every thing she had been taught and all her assets to accomplish what needed to be done. Even though I didn't always like what she did, I respect why she did it. It was profound to see how her view of herself and her place in the world changed. People looked down on her for being a 'whore', but she was a great spymaster, a diplomat, and an incredible tactitian. I cheered for her to find her rightful place in her world, because she earned that after all she'd suffered and lost. I loved Joscelin as well. Although he was a bit judgmental at times, so was Phedre towards him, but in a different way. It was very clear how devoted to her he was, and he was very true to his beliefs, following Cassiel, the angel who still loved God, but felt that he had to follow Elua out of loyalty. I admired that he made sacrifices to follow his beliefs, but his love for Phedre often caused him to break his vows, which in a way showed how true to following Cassiel he was. Even though he was not the main character, my mind always went back to him, wanting to see what he was doing and how he reacted to the situations around him. All the characters were real and lifelike, some in a good way, some in a bad way. But, there weren't any disposable characters in this story, even if they played small roles. And when some of the characters I grew to love got harmed and died, it made for painful reading.
At first, I had a lot of trouble with all the names of the characters and people, and countries. But, after a while, it started to make sense, and I was able to connect them to an existing frame of reference pretty well. I think it was pretty brilliantly conceived. The various peoples were extremely culturally distinct, and I really appreciated the time that Ms. Carey took to explore their cultures. It was interesting how the D'Angelines had a lot of cultural superiority that they had to get past, in order to face a huge threat from within and from the warlike, intimidating Skaldi race.
What surprised me was that I found the military aspects very fascinating. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, because I've always had an admiration for warriors and the culture of warriors. I thought that seeing the battles and war unfold through Phedre's eyes was very interesting. I liked seeing how she used her particular skill set to aid her country in winning the war. The sacrifices she made for her country were very admirable. She showed that although she wasn't a warrior in the traditional sense, her heart was that of a warrior, willing to give everything to win and prevail, even if that involved personal sacrifice and surrender.
This was a deep book. It took me through a gamut of emotions, many not comfortable at all. It truly was epic, and I really didn't get bored, surprisingly considering its length and complexity. There were some very unpalatable aspects to this story, and the values seemed very alien to what I feel I hold sacred. However, underneath there is a commonality. Love is sacrifice, love is giving. When something is important to a person, one devotes herself to it. Even though the creeds of the people in this book seemed alien, I could identify with the idea of holding something sacred in life, and that dictating one's actions.
As one can imagine, it's not easy to sum up my thoughts on a book that is so long and rather complicated. I think I have done as best as I can, and I won't make this review any longer than necessary. I have to be honest and say I highly doubt I'll keep reading this series. It's a huge investment of my time and energy when books are this long. And since it took me to some uncomfortable places, I'm not sure I want to go through that process any more with the following books. In my mind, I want to think of Phedre and Joscelin being happy, able to find a compromise that works for both of them, and having a great love. I want to leave things that way. The good thing is, this book is a keeper, and will have fond memories of these characters who came to mean so much to me. Perhaps I will reread this book one day to revisit this fascinating world of the D'Angelines. ...more
I can't imagine how hard it was to write a novel about kids being forced to kill each other. Probably much harder than it was to read it. After all, iI can't imagine how hard it was to write a novel about kids being forced to kill each other. Probably much harder than it was to read it. After all, in my limited viewpoint as a person who also writes (although unpublished), I really dislike hurting my beloved, lifelike characters, and much less killing them, or having them do terrible things, unless they are supposed to because they are evil.
But Ms. Collins had to take kids between the ages of 12-16 and force them to deliberately harm each other.
It's a journey into a world in which a whole society plans events and festivities around such barbarism. It's not the Roman Empire. It's a dark future in which North America has become a much smaller continent called Panem. The society is a dystopic one in which the resources are not so much limited as restricted and deliberately kept from those regions whose denizens participated in a rebellion over 40 years ago. Their punishment is to have twenty-four of their children, two from each District, selected in a process called the Reaping. Those who are chosen must go and fight in the Hunger Games. If you've seen Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, then the phrase "two men enter, one man leaves" sort of gives you the idea. Except in this case, it's twenty-four kids enter, and one leaves.
Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, grows up to the age of 16 in this world. She has been taking care of her family since she was 11, hunting illegally in the forests beyond the fence around District 12, bringing back fresh meat and wild plants to feed her young sister and mother. Her heart has become hard so she can survive. But when the day comes of the Reaping, and her young sister Prim's name is called, she volunteers to go to the games in her place, almost unprecedented. Most people know that they won't return, especially the poorly-trained and outfitted tributes from District 12. But her sister is not going to face the sure death that awaits her in the Games. Not when she can.
The other tribute from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, the baker's son. A boy who did a life-saving act of kindness to Katniss several years before, one she can never forget. She doesn't like him for that reason, also because he reminds her of what she doesn't have, as essentially a townie, when her family lives on the fringes, the offspring of a deceased miner. However, they will have to form an alliance dreamed up by their sponsor, Haymitch, who won the Games many years before. He's a drunk, but he is going to do what he can to keep at least one of them alive in the Games.
I wasn't looking forward to reading this. I don't care for dystopian fiction. And the thought of kids killing each other, well it doesn't work for me. However, I decided to give this a read and bought the book a few years ago. Managed to put it off until now. When the Action Heroines group on Goodreads selected it as a group read this month, the choice was made. I started it, and was crying, not too far into the book (made even more painful by the fact that I have a nasty cold right now with a bad sore throat). I was sucked in.
I love a tough, survivor heroine, and Katniss is definitely that. Not only a survivor, but a girl who made sacrifices for her family. She's without a doubt, a very well-developed character. I like the fact that Collins takes the effort to describe Katniss' thought processes so well in this book, her woodcraft, her no-nonsense approach to life. How she suppresses those soft emotions that would have been a liability to her in her present situation. But deep down, how Katniss has the potential for love, and she does love. When Katniss bonds with another tribute, a young girl named Rue, who reminds her of Primrose, I could literally hear and feel my heart breaking. We all know how this ends. And Katniss best of all. But that doesn't mean you can stop feeling emotions, even when the brutal reality of your existence and forced choices seem to dictate otherwise.
That's part of what makes this a difficult story. The fact that kids are forced into a world in which they starve to death, not because there is nothing to eat, but because someone feels that they shouldn't have the basic things like a full belly and a safe life, for political reasons. That's going on today in this world. It should break a person's heart, and it does. Is this so very out there, when in real life, there are child soldiers in the world right now? I know I'm going towards "Soapbox" territory, so I'll stop myself. Yeah, I guess that's the point. Why should I keep my blindfold on to these horrors and immerse myself in safe, happy tales all the time? And forget that events like this do happen (maybe not in this obvious, fictional landscape kind of way), but in a way that is lot less showcased, and much more brutal.
I admit I liked the role reversal here. Peeta, the boy is more emotional, more approachable, more in need of protection. And Katniss is tougher, more armored, the protector. That doesn't hold true across the map, for Peeta shows depths that surprise Katniss and the reader. And likewise, Katniss has her moments when she doesn't have it all figured out.
Since this is first person, we don't get to find out how the grown-ups feel about this travesty. But I can surmise that people like Haymitch, Cinna, even Effie feel their share of anguish for the roles they play every year, as they watch twenty-four more children go off, most of them to their deaths, even if it's well-hidden.
It's a mad world, and all this comes together in this story to propel me through a gamut of emotions, most of them uncomfortable. I could almost identify with the kids, that horror of knowing, "This is it." The Games are real. I was there with them, and I wasn't spared the realness. I guess that's another reason to respect this work, that the author doesn't soften such a terrible concept. She doesn't allow you to settle into a false sense of security that it will be alright. That would only be a form of contempt in my mind. If you're going to go there, then bring it. And she does.
My final verdict: The Hunger Games is tough reading. But it's complex and powerful, and completely involving. I couldn't stop reading this until I was done.
It's clear that Patricia Briggs can work the same magic for traditional fantasy that she does with her urban fantasy and werewolf stories for this reaIt's clear that Patricia Briggs can work the same magic for traditional fantasy that she does with her urban fantasy and werewolf stories for this reader. I loved this story. I must admit that there were parts that were slower and harder to read, and that's due to the intricacies of the worldbuilding (keep in mind, I don't read a lot of heavy-duty, traditional heroic fantasy--so keep the urge to sneer under wraps if you've read a lot of that and consider this book child's play). Having said that, I thought the idea of the different orders of magic really interesting. I loved how it all tied together and related very personally to Seraph, and the family she had with Tier. And, I like that she kept the story focused on the characters and their journey, and not on the actual magical aspects. The magic was part of who they were, and it affected the non-magic people who lived in the world of this book. I liked the messages about prejudice, and how some people are dismissed and marginalized, but they are the people who are capable of really doing something worthwhile in the world.
Seraph is not the type of heroine who's in touch with her feelings and bright and bouncy, emotionally open. I didn't mind that. I liked that she was a to-the-point, contained, composed, but deeply feeling person. Because of the dangerous nature of her magic, she had to keep her composure. And it was clear that she did care about others, and loved her children and her husband, Tier, very deeply.
Tier was a great hero. I loved him from the first page. He's so humane. Even years as a soldier, seeing the worst, didn't change that about him. He's a born leader, not through brute force, but an intrinsic charisma and his being a good person that you wanted to like. For all that, he's formidable and strong. He's the kind of hero I go ga-ga over.
Tier and Seraph had good chemistry. Even though this isn't a romance novel, they have a great love, and I was hoping that things would work out for each other. After twenty years, there was still passion, and they knew each other so well, and cared for each other. Their love was a steadfast thing that empowered them, even if they didn't say the words to each other.
Tier and Seraph's kids: Jes, Lehr, and Rinnie, all play important roles. I loved all of them. But my favorite, hands down, was Jes. He managed to be menacing and dangerous (in a very appealing way), but sweet, at the same time. His gift (also could be a curse) was very fascinating to me. I was hoping that we'd see a lot of him. And I liked the fact that he found a connection with a woman who wasn't scared of him, like so many others were. Jes, Lehr and Rinnie's gifts really came in handy in this story. It was interesting to see how they came to realize what they were, and how they embraced them. Although, they struggled with their natures as magically-gifted people.
Raven's Shadow may not appeal to some fans of the Mercy Thompson books. It's pure fantasy. But, the things that I love about Patricia Briggs' writing are there for me to enjoy. Her writing has a simple, yet elegant beauty. She tells a story that is full of the human element. When I read her stories, I get so captivated in seeing how her characters unfold, and how they meet the issues that life gives them. This book was no different. I like how she gives you characters that have flaws and troubles, and you end up getting heavily invested in their stories, hoping for the best for them. And, she's so good at writing about magic, and a good adventure yarn, to go with it.
When I was a kid, I devoured all the fantasy I could find in the library. But I fell out of reading fantasy for a long time. I've recently gotten back into reading it. This was a good start. It's focused on the characters, but it has the traditional heroic fantasy elements. And in Patricia Briggs' hands, it's very successful. I'd say give it a try, if you like the Mercy Thompson books. If things seem to move slowly at times, hang in there. I think you'll enjoy the end efforts. Or, at least I did. I look forward to reading Raven's Strike, the next book in this set....more
Z for Zachariah was a very suspenseful book. From the moment I started it, I had a knot in my stomach. For most of my life, I lived with my fear of nuZ for Zachariah was a very suspenseful book. From the moment I started it, I had a knot in my stomach. For most of my life, I lived with my fear of nuclear war and its aftermath. As a child of the 80s, I remember that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. Were the Soviets going to push the button, or the Americans? Either way, we'd both lose. I remember everyone in school was watching "The Day After Tomorrow," and I was afraid to watch it, but I heard all the ugly details. I inadvertently watched the other nuclear war movie, "Testament," and I still remember how utterly hopeless and depressing it was. I didn't want to die slowly and painfully from radiation poison, nor did I want to be instantly incinerated in the first blast, or have to survive a nuclear winter. It was a very ugly thought that I've tried to push way to the back of my mind. Well, this book brought it all back for me. So, I could deeply sympathize with Ann, the protagonist of this story.
And it turns out that her worst threat is not the aftermath of the nuclear war. It's the fact that the only other apparent survivor of the holocaust is dangerously insane. Ann showed a lot of fortitude and intelligence, in my opinion. I didn't really consider her overly naive, considering she grew up in a sheltered world. I think she did an admirable job of keeping herself alive. How on earth could she be prepared to do deal with a crazy man who decided that everything left in the world belonged to him, and was not hesitant about using violence or ugly methods to make sure it remained in his possession? It was a tough road to travel for this young woman. She had a choice to let this man succumb to radiation poisoning, or to nurse him through it, even knowing he was possibly a murderer. She did what she thought was right, although that action contributed to the destruction of her small, safe world. I appreciate the ethical dilemma that the author presents in this story. Do we abandon all the qualities that make humanity worthwhile, because the civilized world as we know it has gone away? Should we embrace violence as the best solution, because it's the most expedient one? These are all very pertinent issues to Ann in this book, and I had to work through them as I read.
I was literally on the edge of my seat, as I saw how things were unfolding. I felt a rage at Mr. Loomis, who came to Ann's valley, availed himself of her generosity and good heart, and decided that he was entitled to all of it, and he could take control of everything. Oh, I definitely understand that battle that Ann faced. People controlling others is a real problem for me. I felt her pain as she decided that she would have to leave everything was familiar and she'd worked hard for, because she refused to be enslaved to another person, not for any reason.
I found Z for Zachariah to be a powerful read. It did resonate with me, and that wasn't always a comfortable feeling. The issues of isolation, fear for the future, defining who one is when the world is no longer the same, and having control of one's life and destiny were very well-handled here. I think Ann could be a metaphor for any young woman who is facing choices in her life that will define her present and future. I would recommend this book to young adults and to adults, because it has a very timely message, and it was good, albeit nerve-racking at times, entertainment. Also, readers who enjoy stories in which the characters have to use their wits and energies (physical and mental) to survive on the land, and in a hostile environment, will enjoy this story. I'm very glad I got the opportunity to read Z for Zachariah....more
I picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, wI picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, was the one Rose that St. John Worth wanted. I didn't realize that they had a turbulent history until I started the book. Ardith thought St. John's proposal five years ago was a joke that he had planned with two of his drunk cronies. It broke her young, insecure, love-struck heart. At that point, she abandoned any attempt at a season and fled to her Aunt Sibley, an independent spinster who raised her to be the same. Five years lady, she is a woman of consequence, with an independent life as Aunt Sibley's heir. She is content running her estate, raising horses, and taking care of the tenants and the country folk who are in need of medicine but don't trust the local doctor. She's managed very well to avoid St. John and any other suitors. However, when she leaves her sister's house, who has just given birth to her third daughter, she ends up caught in a bad snowstorm, and is forced to see shelter at St. John's house. Unfortunately, he is there. From that point on, she'll find him very hard to avoid.
I ended up loving this book. It just had that certain something that kept me turning the pages. There is built in angst and pathos for Ardith's situation. She is tall, dark, lanky, strong-featured, and not feminine enough compared to her older, prettier, blond, perfect sisters. She has given up on the idea of marriage because she feels she lacks those qualities that a man would want in a bride. St. John's cruel trick was the final factor that convinced her of that fact. And then, there is the fact that she has come to treasure her independence. Her father doesn't know what to do with her. He's not even allowed through the gate of her estate, nor is St. John. She has total autonomy. However, St. John's renewed presence in her life makes her second guess her determination not to wed, and that he was just playing a trick on her.
I really loved and felt for Ardith. She was very insecure about her charms as a woman, and it was clear why as I saw how her family treated her. As if there was something wrong with her and she'd never measure up. Even her father made jokes about her not being pretty or womanly, although he admired her pluck. I liked that she was a capable woman. She was very skilled at healing, running an estate, and was a much admired and respected horse-breeder. When she showed her doubts at her lack of beauty or social charm, I didn't find it annoying, because it wasn't in a self-pitying way. She had made the most of what she had, and she had determined to have a good life, even if she wasn't going to be some man's beloved, beautiful society wife. The secret hurt that she'd experienced from St. John felt very real to me. Even more so because it was a misunderstanding, but her low self-esteem, caused by the way her family treated her, made it worse.
St. John was a dear from the beginning. I felt bad for him, because he truly loved Ardith. Even five years later, he was very much in love with her, but stayed away out of respect for her. When he got his chance to woo her, his chance at finally having her as his bride, he didn't let the opportunity pass him by. He wasn't afraid to use whatever means available in his arsenal. I loved how he stood up for her with Ardith's overbearing, but very thick-headed father. He even fell out of sorts with him because he wasn't going to back down, and was willing to defend Ardith, even if it put him in her father's bad graces. I appreciated the fact that St. John loved Ardith for who she was. He wanted her in his life, and was willing to make compromises to make sure she was happy in their life together. Even so, he was no pushover. He showed determination and a sense of grace and honor in his pursuit of Ardith. He was very patient, even when Ardith was stubborn to trust in him. He understood the uphill battle to win back her trust and was in it for the long hall. He was a really good man. A man any woman would be glad to have as her beloved husband. I was cheering for him to win Ardith's heart back into his keeping.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the humor. I love the way that a good trad regency brings in the funny aspects of the speech and the everyday interactions of the characters. Ms. Savery captured the feel of the period very well. She used a few phrases that were new to me, but I forgot to write them down to look them up, but they made me feel she had done her research on this period, going way beyond just window-dressing. Poor Ardith's hands were full managing her sisters' issues, since her father was pressing for a grandson, even willing to bribe the first couple who gave him one. Her sisters (except the one who just gave birth) fled to Ardith for protection when their marriages were under strain from their father's edict, and it was funny seeing how Ardith's loyal gatekeeper showed no respect for title or rank in turning away both Ardith's dad, St. John (who won him over with his devotion to Ardith), and her sisters' spouses. This book was laugh-out loud funny in more than a few scenes. Ardith's dad was not an intelligent man. And he was so set in his ways. He just had no clue how to deal with a stubborn, independent daughter like Ardith.
This book was a nice breath of fresh air. An impulse buy from the clearance rack that more than paid for its spot on my keeper shelf. I am usually lured in fairly easy by the plain Jane theme, especially when the hero is smitten and wooing the plain Jane, so that got my attention. But the good writing and engaging story and characters kept my interest. I'd definitely recommend this one....more
I shall write a wee bit about my thoughts on this book as I read, for I do not trust my foggy brain to keep up with them if I wait until the last minuI shall write a wee bit about my thoughts on this book as I read, for I do not trust my foggy brain to keep up with them if I wait until the last minute.
*I like the juxtaposition of 20th Century (early) Ancelstierre with a medieval-esque world of the Old Kingdom. It threw me for a loop at first, how the prologue was very medieval (pre-Industrial), and the first chapter was modernesque. I was thinking, are they immortal or something? But further reading clears that up.
*I don't read as much pure fantasy (which I am working on changing), but this magic system stands out to me. The Charter concept. The magic system is based on sketching out these symbols that have a magical power behind them. They can also be whistled or sung, if bells are not available.
*There are some geniuinely creepy elements that make this story borderline horrific, if not dark fantasy in tone. There were moments that held me breathless, my stomach tight with dread. I like the manner in which Nix incorporates zombies. Zombies are not a favorite horror element of mine. But this type of zombie is scary, because the emphasis is on the dark spiritual (if you will) aspects. The ability of dark Charter mages to command spirits to come back from the realms of the Dead, binding them in service. Dark stuff. The loss of free will is a big sticking point with me. Nix succeeds in unnerving me in a deeper way, and doesn't focus on the gory, squeamish aspects of zombies that repel rather than cause the fear response.
*The author's ability to describe and propel the narrative without being too dense. I like a more natural, simplistic form of prose when I'm reading. That is what has kept me from starting some of the magic fantasy sagas, thus far.
*The welcome elements of subtle humor. Mogget is a spirit in the form of a cat. He could not be more feline in personality. I love this scene:
Mogget had no time for such introspection, mourning or pangs of responsibility. He left her watching, blank-eyed, for no more than minute, before padding forward and delicately inserting his claws in Sabriel's slippered foot..
That's exactly what one of my cats would do to get my attention. Haha.
So far, I'm enjoying this read. I didn't even turn on my computer and get on Goodreads last night. I just read my book. And I turned off the tv to better concentrate.
That's it for now...
Okay, I finished this book after 1am this morning. I loved it. It was intense, it was moving, it was written in a manner that allowed the story to flow, but with a richness of detail that made it visually stunning as I read. The magic was fascinating. Intricate, but written so that the reader doesn't feel clueless.
I absolutely loved Sabriel. She's a strong girl. She went through such a harrowing experience. I mean, there are some truly dark moments in this story. Her father must have been so proud of her. I know I was.
Although the book doesn't really show Sabriel with her father, (the present Abhorsen (a person who sends the restless dead back where they belong), all that much, I loved the relationship between the two. A rich father-daughter relationship always appeals in a story, and I think readers of a similar mind will enjoy this part of the book.
For many years, I didn't read fantasy. I am sad about that, and resolved to make up for lost time. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance rekindled my childhood love of this genre. This book has truly lit me on fire to read more fantasy. I was drawn to the heroism, but also the ambiguity of this world, where the power of magic has the power to corrupt those who are not strong of mind and spirit. I'm drawn to a story where the heroine is on a journey that tests her spirit, and she comes out of it a stronger, wiser person. Sabriel definitely fits the bill for that kind of story.
Although Sabriel is the major focus of this story, I felt that Mogget and Touchstone were strong characters that added to the texture of this story. The light romantic elements between Sabriel and Touchstone were more than welcome.
Sabriel was a vivid, captivating, often scary introduction to the Abhorsen series, and my first read by Garth Nix. It will not be my last.
This was a lovely book. Although short, it was a full meal, rich with humor, magic, the struggle between good and evil, and a nice little romance.
ArenThis was a lovely book. Although short, it was a full meal, rich with humor, magic, the struggle between good and evil, and a nice little romance.
Aren was a great heroine. You see her go from meek and frightened to powerful and independent in her own right. Ms. Briggs excels at writing loveable characters who I care about, cheering along as they grow, and as they fight the good fight. She did a great job of showing Aren come into knowledge of her gifts, and I admired her ability to survive so much turmoil.
How I did love the Hob. Wild and elemental, flamboyantly-dressed, a bit mischievous, but good-hearted, just what the doctor ordered for Aren. I certainly haven't seen a romantic hero like him before. He helps to heal the broken places inside of Aren, and she does the same for him. Not the usual kind of romance, but a very good one, all the same.
The magic was enthralling. This book has some pretty dark aspects with the bloodmages and the evil wildlings. Some of the darkness on the land is downright creepy, adding another layer to this story. Yet, the wild beauty of the elemental spirits of the land called to me. I almost wish some of them were real. Well, almost.
I'm on a roll here with the horse theme. Aren's horse Duck is yet another equine character I've fallen in love with.
I truly did enjoy reading this book. Yet another one of Patricia Briggs books I will add to my keeper shelf and treasure for future rereads....more
Okay, there are tons of reviews on this book, and I can't add too much to the review ether that hasn't already been said. But, I promised to write a rOkay, there are tons of reviews on this book, and I can't add too much to the review ether that hasn't already been said. But, I promised to write a review for every book I read, so I'll do this in an different kind of way. How about a Q&A session about this book?
Question and Answer Session With Danielle Regarding Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
1. So, you finally read it. How does it feel to read this 850 page magnum opus?
I feel a profound sense of accomplishment. I'm glad that I 'womaned-up' and faced this super-duper long book. This is the longest book I've ever read (other than the Bible, which I've read in parts, although I haven't made it through all the way yet). I'm verra, verra glad I chose this book for a challenge, thus had to read it in a certain time period. I might have put it off longer, and missed the marvelous book that it was.
2.What do you think of Jamie Fraser?
Are there words to describe him? He is just fantastic. I can't imagine how D. Gabaldon created such a wonderful, wonderful character. I have standards for my "heroes to die for", and he meets all those standards. What a beautiful, wonderful man! Claire is a lucky woman.
3. Was this a difficult read?
I have to say that it wasn't. I did have to apply myself. This was more because I don't care for long books. I like to read shorter books so I can move onto the next book faster. This book felt like it could be 2 1/2 books. However, it wasn't boring. It was interesting seeing life back then, and how Claire, who is from the 20th century, reacted to it. I love books about Scotland and Scottish people. Their way of life sort of resonates with me. And the characters were very vivid and fascinating. And the romance was to die for. And Jamie is just awesome!!!
4. What was your favorite aspect of this book?
Jamie Fraser! My second favorite aspect for the powerful love story between Claire and Jamie. They are definitely a couple that was meant to be together. I thought that the fact that she was married in the future would bother me, but it didn't. I thought of Frank as being her past life, and although she truly loved Frank, he wasn't her soulmate like Jamie was (can I write a review without using that 'S' word? Apparently not). I so wanted her to stay with Jamie. There was no contest. And Claire was used to rustic living, since she'd grown up on digs with her uncle. I also liked seeing Claire do her medical treatments (I love medicine). I also liked the adventure and the fighting.
5. What didn't you like about this book?
Well, I hated Randall, but I was supposed to! He was one sick puppy! I can't imagine how Claire felt to meet her husband's ancestor, and to know what a truly awful man he was. I hated some of the situations that Jamie and Claire faced and what they had to do. It made me sad that one evil man had caused this.
6. Would you recommend this book to other readers?
Absolutely, providing that one was committed to reading a book that is nearly 900 pages, and one enjoys historical books. No book is for all tastes, but I think those who might be interested in a story with a fantastic hero like Jamie, and an outstanding heroine like Claire, and those who are crazy about Scottish subject matter, should read it.
7.Has the bar been raised for Scottish Highlander romance?
Most definitely. I try not to compare books, because, well it isn't fair. But, now that I've read Outlander, I know in the back of my mind, an image of Jamie will crop up when I read future Highlander books.
8. Were parts of this book hard to read?
Oh, there was a couple of parts that made me wince. One part nearly broke my heart, but Claire really came through for Jamie, and it made me almost cry. It was beautifully done. I tend to read romance books for the hero moreso than the heroine, but I love a great heroine, and Claire is definitely that.
9.Okay, what if I don't like romance, and I think it's sappy nonsense. Can I still enjoy this book?
Well, I think this might convert you, if you don't enjoy romance. Barring that, I still think you'd enjoy this book. Not only is it a great romance, it's great historical fiction. And the time travel element, although not a huge part, is very intriguing. So, give it a try.
10.Danielle, what are you going to do, now that you've read Outlander?
Go to Disney World???? Just kidding! Honestly, I'm going to continue my reading adventures in my massive, ever-growing tbr pile, and I know eventually I will be drawn back to this series. But, I think I'll read some shorter books for a wee bit. I might take a break from Scottish Highlander romance for a while. I don't want to be disappointed because the book isn't Outlander.
11.It's about time to wrap this up. Anything you want to add?
Just a few things: The praise for Jamie Fraser is well-deserved. Ms. Gabaldon wrote a fantastic book, and I'm very glad I read it. I can now pat myself on the back, since I read this book. I'll consider it my War and Peace, in fact. I hope that those who are hesistant to read this book take the plunge. It was worth the time spent on it....more
I finished this book on Friday, and I took all weekend to decide what I wanted to say in my review. Let me start by saying that Poison Study is writteI finished this book on Friday, and I took all weekend to decide what I wanted to say in my review. Let me start by saying that Poison Study is written in a very elemental fashion. If you are a reader who likes flowery, descriptive writing, this might throw you for a loop initially. The story is told inelaborately, and there is no hesitation in describing the ugliness of Yelena's situation. When I met Yelena, she was taken out of her prison cell, where she had languished for the better part of a year, and was prepared to meet the executioner. I can't say I've read too many books that started this way. I was hooked right then and there. Instead of seeing Yelena get executed, she is taken to the office of the man who will cause a profound change in her life, Valek. Yelena was offered the opportunity to escape a quick execution. She could undertake the training as a food taster, which was not without risk, and if she survived, she would spend her life risking death on a regular basis. Typically the life of a food taster is very short. But, it's a lot longer than instant death. Yelena thought things through and decided she'd rather take her chances as a food taster.
From the beginning, I was interested in Yelena's story. She was a young woman who had ended up in a very dire situation (not all of her making), but was willing to own up to the life she'd taken. She never made excuses for her actions, although the reasons were valid. With the murder she committed, she felt as though her soul had been lost. And yet, some part of her refused to give up.
This book brings to mind the aphorism that "Justice is Blind." More and more I wonder if justice really should be blind. Those who enforce the law make their verdicts on cases based on the evidence presented. Yet, they don't always consider the underlying reasons why a person commits a crime. In the eyes of an omniscient diety, this makes perfect sense, because that Supreme Being sees all things. But, humans don't have that all-seeing perception. Is it fair for a woman to be sentenced to death for trying to protect herself and her loved ones, for killing a man who brutally tortured and raped her? According to the strict laws of Ixia, murder outside of war is considered a capital offense. From the moment that Yelena took the life of the son of General Brazell, her life was forfeit.
I believe in second chances. I just do. I know that we all fall and fail, and while I think some crimes are extremely heinous, I cannot let go of my belief that everyone deserves the right to make amends. I was happy that Valek gave Yelena the opportunity to live. Yet, Yelena will face more trials with her second chance. And she is put in a position to save the Commander who she serves as food-taster, and to prevent Ixia from falling prey to a conspiracy that involves key members of the government.
Poison Study was a very readable, fascinating, enjoyable adventure. I loved seeing Yelena come into her own. It was clear that she'd always been a strong person, and her strength of character and will is what allowed herself to emerge from the fires that had potential to destroy her. Instead, she was honed by those fires and made stronger.
I'm not very good at political stuff. I have my own way of looking at things, and it makes my interpretation of political stances, parties, affiliations, and governmental structures very against type. I think it was interesting to see the inner workings of the system that the Commander had set up through Yelena's eyes. In many ways, going from a monarchy to what appeared to be a dictatorship was an improvement. However, there were many restrictions imposed on the people as a result of that same government. Opportunities were open that weren't before. The government was set up to encourage fairness and to discourage waste. The downside was, anytime you have people in a system, it's going to be flawed, because people are flawed. So this system was not perfect. Through Yelena's eyes, I was able to see this all playing out.
I started this review by saying that this book was written with a simple use of language. I found that this narrative style was a bit deceptive. You might think this story is basic on first glance, but that's far from the truth. There is a lot going on here. I liked that Ms. Snyder left it up to the reader to interpret the events through her own eyes. I like how she slowly reveals aspects of the characters until the fullest picture comes to mind. That was the best way to write about a character like Valek. When he comes on the scene, he doesn't seem that grand. He seems like a puppet in the political structure of Ixia. But, if I had continued to see him that way, I would have been missing out on a lot. You see, Valek is not the puppet. He's the puppetmaster. He is an extremely intelligent and cunning spymaster, a swordsman without equal, and a deadly assassin. He's so matter-of-fact and without flare, so you don't see him truly unless you look deeper. He holds his allegiance to Commander Ambrose very sacredly, but that doesn't mean he doesn't always agree with the rules that the Commander has instituted. That he cannot see justice done in his own way. Through Yelena's eyes, we see how the perception of Valek expands to show who and what he really is. I fell in love with him as Yelena did.
I'm a romantic at heart, and I will always be. I loved the burgeoning relationship between Yelena and Valek. How they slowly worked their way into each others' hearts, through proximity and the fact that they saw something in each other that resulted in an irresistible draw to each other. It's clear from the beginning, through the eyes of others around Yelena and Valek, and through Valek's actions, that he cherishes Yelena. It's a subtle but at the same time, pretty obvious thing. In my opinion, it took a lot of writing skill to convey this to the reader, and Ms. Snyder did an excellent job.
Poison Study was a grand adventure in the style of the classic adventure novels. The fight scenes are well-written, and the danger elements are exciting and involving. Being Yelena is a dangerous proposition, because Brazell is determined to see her dead for killing his son, and continually uses underhanded methods to do it. Also because she lives in dangerous times, and in an environment fraught with intrigue. I liked that Valek saved Yelena several times, because it showed the intensity of his regard for her, but I also liked that many other times, Yelena was able to save herself through her intelligence, quick-thinking, and through her developing skills at self-defense. Yelena views herself as a small person in the scheme of things, but she had an important role in preventing a very ugly conspiracy from coming to fruition. She effects change by doing what she feels is right, and because of that, she gains the respect of those who had previously viewed her as a cold-blooded murderess. Her actions don't occur in a vacuum, and they often result in helping/protecting others in various ways.
The fantastic elements are subtle but integral. I liked how Yelena's magic was instrinsic to her, a part of her that was dormant, emerging when she needs it. I loved seeing her become a capable and deadly fighter. She hates the idea of killing, but killing is necessary in the dangerous world she lives in. She had to come to realize this, or she couldn't love Valek, a man who kills for a living, and must do it without letting remorse weigh him down.
Poison Study was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Like many unexpected favorites, it snuck in there on me. But when I finished this book, I had a big smile on my face....more