Three stars is an average, and a generous one. I really liked the first half or so, dealing with Hamilton's childhood and early adulthood, her travelsThree stars is an average, and a generous one. I really liked the first half or so, dealing with Hamilton's childhood and early adulthood, her travels through Europe and her beginnings as a restaurant chef. But then she starts in on her marriage of convenience (essentially) and her Italian husband, and I disliked her so strongly by the end of the book that I almost didn't finish it.
Look, I get that honesty is good, and strength of character, and all those things this memoir is lauded for. When honesty becomes cruelty and strength of character becomes selfishness, that's when I start to lose interest. When nearly every paragraph about her husband involves making fun of his accent (which she claims is mostly put-on), when everything is "me me me!" and she just doesn't seem to have a clue that there are other people in the world, that's when I want to part ways....more
This started out well enough, with an intriguing mystery and Todd's usual good WWI historical setting, but the plot deteriorated into complete confusiThis started out well enough, with an intriguing mystery and Todd's usual good WWI historical setting, but the plot deteriorated into complete confusion by the end. Also, someone should have gone through and removed at least half the exclamation points from the dialogue. I was quite disappointed, after having enjoyed several of Todd's other books....more
For me, this was reminiscent of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie only in that it took place at a school. In comparison, The Finishing School's charactersFor me, this was reminiscent of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie only in that it took place at a school. In comparison, The Finishing School's characters are paper-thin, and although I occasionally found it amusing, I never found it absorbing....more
Reasonably interesting (especially once I found out what the treasure was), but not enough to get me to read the others in the series. Also, I reallyReasonably interesting (especially once I found out what the treasure was), but not enough to get me to read the others in the series. Also, I really only have to hear once how flat-chested the hero's love interest is, please, Mr. Price....more
Maybe I read more parenting articles than I thought, but I found most of this to be not even surprising, let alone shocking. A reasonably interestingMaybe I read more parenting articles than I thought, but I found most of this to be not even surprising, let alone shocking. A reasonably interesting read, but hardly as earthshattering as the cover would have one believe....more
One night when teen Tyler Dupree and his friends Jason and Diane Lawson are out stargazing, the stars suddenly go out. Mysterious forces have erectedOne night when teen Tyler Dupree and his friends Jason and Diane Lawson are out stargazing, the stars suddenly go out. Mysterious forces have erected a shield around the planet and enveloped it in a time discontinuity which causes billions of years to pass outside the shield while only thirty or forty go by inside. I thought this was very good, with an excellent balance of plot coolness and character development, though the second half drags a bit.
Oddly, though, I find that I don't really care about reading the sequel, Axis. I got it from the library, read the blurb, and was struck with an attack of not-caring. ...more
This was easily my least favorite of all of Westerfeld's YAs. Usually I think Westerfeld's ideas are neat, but this time around, they just didn't grabThis was easily my least favorite of all of Westerfeld's YAs. Usually I think Westerfeld's ideas are neat, but this time around, they just didn't grab me; it's all about trendsetting and spotting what's cool, preferably before it becomes cool, and I wasn't that interested. Plus, although the pace is good and managed to carry me through my slight boredom with the concept, the resolution is amazingly anti-climactic. Oh, well, can't win 'em all, I guess. ...more
Waters starts her tale of WWII London in 1947, introducing several characters and showing us their situations: Kay, who's still obsessed with wartimeWaters starts her tale of WWII London in 1947, introducing several characters and showing us their situations: Kay, who's still obsessed with wartime and can't connect with anyone in the present; Helen and Julia, whose love affair is threatened by Julia's possible infidelity; Viv, who's involved with a married man; and Viv's brother Duncan, whose life is changed when he meets again the man he shared a prison cell with. Then Waters works backwards: having shown us where these characters are after the war, she goes back to wartime to show us how they got there, with the main part of the book occurring in 1944 and a much shorter section at the end in 1941.
The wartime setting is excellent; Waters obviously did her research, and she creates a very convincing atmosphere, particularly when her characters are out in the streets of London. As far as the unusual plot structure goes, Waters is clever about how much she reveals as she goes along, so that I never felt that I already knew what had happened. It does feel a little manipulative, as the characters refer to earlier events circuitously, so that the reader doesn't get too much information, but it's an interesting experiment.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite work for me. This was partly because I didn't find the characters all that engaging, and partly because once I finished the book, I would have liked to know what happened after the 1947 section, which is left very open-ended. Having been led back through the characters' lives to find out how they got where they were, I'd have liked a little more closure as to where they were going, too. It was worth reading, but it's definitely my least favorite of Waters' books and I doubt I'll read it again. ...more
I resisted buying this for a long time, because I am really not a short story person and thus don't usually get along well with anthologies, but eventI resisted buying this for a long time, because I am really not a short story person and thus don't usually get along well with anthologies, but eventually I broke down and bought it. It turned out to be rather a mixed bag: some really good stuff, especially near the beginning and the end, but some I was less enthralled by (and a couple I frankly skipped, after reading a page or two and not being hooked).
I really liked Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's "Boojum", about a living spaceship and one of her crew; Naomi Novik's (non-Temeraire-related) "Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake" and its heroine who starts out as a lady and ends up as a pirate (but in an unexpected way); and Rachel Swirsky's "The Adventures of Captain Black Heart Wentworth", a tale of piratical rats (and one cat). I liked the conceit behind Howard Waldrop's "Avast, Abaft!", which begins with Captain Rackstraw of the Pinafore chasing the famous Pirates of Penzance, but ended up finding it disappointingly short and slight. ...more
This historical novel, set mainly in 10th century Britain, tells the story of a young Cornish girl and a Breton knight, who become caught up in EnglisThis historical novel, set mainly in 10th century Britain, tells the story of a young Cornish girl and a Breton knight, who become caught up in English politics and Viking raids. As usual for Seton, it's well researched and convincing, and I liked the first half or so all right, when Merewyn and Rumon are caught up in English politics and the machinations of beautiful Queen Alfrida. Later, though, it became too episodic, skipping years at a time and interrupting character arcs; often, the characters' changes of emotion seemed more dictated by the needs of the plot than by consistent characterization....more
I bought this at the Strand, having heard Richman's name before and hoping it would be amusing; he's a well-known food critic, and this turns out to bI bought this at the Strand, having heard Richman's name before and hoping it would be amusing; he's a well-known food critic, and this turns out to be a collection of his articles (many of them for GQ). Well, it is amusing, in spots; he does have an often devastating wit, and good food descriptions (though I thought there were too many reviews of bad food). I liked a couple of essays about his family, which are insightful and touching.
What I most definitely didn't like is his condescending, patriarchal, chauvinistic attitude toward women, which is unavoidably present throughout the book. A couple of examples I marked (and I could certainly come up with more if I were willing even to skim it again): an encounter with an Asian girl in Shanghai: "an Asian Alicia Silverstone, which meant she was very pretty and going to fat"; on truffles: "If the white truffle is a slattern with immoderate lipstick, the black truffle is a Ph.D. in a naughty dress" -- I mean, what? Objectification much?
It comes to a head in the last article, about a dinner he had with Sharon Stone, which I knew was going to irritate me when he ended the second paragraph with this: "In other words, [Stone:] was a woman who knew how to eat like a man."
And then I got to the third paragraph, which I will quote in full:
"When it comes to dining with women, I have become skeptical. I simply don't bounce back from those experiences the way I used to. Once I was wonderfully resilient, but these days I question the fundamental concept of men and women going to a restaurant together. I even wonder where it all began, when the dinner table became the preferred venue for men and women to get better acquainted. It is now one of the burdens that men bear."
And it gets worse from there -- I haven't even gotten to the bit about how all older women (the younger ones being "callow and indulgent") are "dinner-table dominatrices". I suppose one could take this as tongue-in-cheek and not serious, but coupled with a lot of other remarks, Richman's whole attitude left a very bad taste in my mouth. And I'm not remotely vegan, but the article entitled "My Beef with Vegans" was also incredibly condescending and offensive....more
The Trickster books are about Alanna's daughter Alianne (Aly for short). I began by finding Aly offputtingly cocksure and annoying, and Pierce throwsThe Trickster books are about Alanna's daughter Alianne (Aly for short). I began by finding Aly offputtingly cocksure and annoying, and Pierce throws her into the plot before even letting the reader get to know her much. After a little bit of interplay between Aly and her parents, she sets sail in her boat; two paragraphs later, she's been captured by pirates and taken to be sold as a slave in the Copper Isles.
Fortunately, it does get better from there, as Aly joins the household of the Balitang family, who are caught up in the politics of their kingdom, where the ruling luarin people hold sway over the native raka. There's some interest in seeing Aly's character develop, and more in the plot, which has a lot of interesting political intrigue. I probably liked these books less than any of the other Tortall books, but they were certainly worth reading. ...more