I saw Without You on a recent trip to Borders and had to buy it. Rent is one of my all time favorite Broadway shows and Mark is a character that has aI saw Without You on a recent trip to Borders and had to buy it. Rent is one of my all time favorite Broadway shows and Mark is a character that has always resonated with me. In addition to that, Anthony Rapp has always been the quintessential Mark, at least in my experience, so I was interested in hearing what he had to say. Now that I have read it, I have to say that it was bit of a mixed experience for me.
On the one hand, Rapp gives the reader incredible glimpses into the evolution and experience of a musical and theatrical masterpiece. He also gives great insights into the character of Mark and how that personally related to him. And the story of his mother's struggle with cancer and how desperately he needed the tension between them that came from his sexuality to be resolved before it was too late was very moving.
On the other hand, there are occasions when the details in the story veer off into graphic and sometimes gratuitously vulgar territory. And there were angry descriptions and personal details of people he wrote about by name that made me feel uncomfortable at times. For example when Rapp tells the story of breaking up with a boyfriend who was unwilling to come out of the closet, I couldn't help feeling that he was outing the man in the book.
All in all, I am glad I picked up the book for its insights into Rent but, despite the fact that I often read and re-read books, I probably won't be picking it up again anytime in the near future. ...more
**spoiler alert** Reading the Wheel of Time series has had its frustrations. While there are great characters and cool moments throughout the series,**spoiler alert** Reading the Wheel of Time series has had its frustrations. While there are great characters and cool moments throughout the series, the books tended to lag and even the coolest of characters had their annoying phases. The series seemed to drag on but there was always enough promise left in the story to keep me reading.
Then the author, Robert Jordan, passed away and readers began to wonder if they were going to be left without any payoff after wading through 11 HUGE books. We knew that Robert Jordan, who had been ill for some time, has prepared for this possibility by leaving detailed information about the ending of the series so that another author could pick up where he had left off. But, as someone who has seen other series handed off to a new author with little success (*coughPerncough*), I still had my concerns and in fact, for the first time since picking up the series, I didn’t rush out to buy the new book when it was released.
When I finally bought the book, I was thrilled. This was the book Wheel of Time fans were waiting for. After years of set up and getting into place and dragging storylines, this was a book of action and payoff. Egwene, one of my favorite characters from the early series, who (I must admit) went through quite an annoying phase in later books, became the living embodiment of awesome. The split in the White Tower plotline got resolved in a VERY satisfying way which gave more than a few characters a chance to shine.
Verin, the quirky, odd-ball Aes Sedai, who’s past and motives have been the source of much debate among the more fanatic fans, finally gets explained and has a shining moment that was pretty damn cool.
Rand, whose mental state and stability were deteriorating rapidly, got the swift kick in the backside that he’s needed for about half the series now and promises to get a better grip on himself and go back to be a fairly decent person to himself and those around him. (It was particularly satisfying that the thing that brought it about was something I have been wanting to happen for 5 books now, even if it didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would have.)
And interspersed throughout, Mat has some excellent moments of comedy (loved the Great Aunt back story), Aviendha had a personal breakthrough, Suin and Gareth Bryne came to an understanding, and Gawyn made progress in his quest to get over himself.
I have to give credit to Brandon Sanderson, the author who was chosen to carry on the series. He really managed to write the book in the best of Robert Jordan’s style, treating characters with respect and maintaining what we really loved about them. This is seriously the best Wheel of Time book that has come along in YEARS. It would be easy to say that Sanderson has breathed new life into a floundering series but I am not sure if that is true. This book was always intended to start resolving the story so the sense of payoff that I feel reading may have been there if Robert Jordan had had the opportunity to write it. But the fact remains that Sanderson has proved to be a worthy successor of the Wheel of Time legacy and I cannot WAIT to see the next book. ...more
Over the course of the past few years, I have watched with some dismay as a number of authors have attempted to share in Jane Austen’s literary legacyOver the course of the past few years, I have watched with some dismay as a number of authors have attempted to share in Jane Austen’s literary legacy. I have seen books that allegedly continue Austen’s stories past where she left them in her novels, attempts to re-tell the stories from another character’s point of view, and even mystery and (shudder) horror novels that take liberties with Austen’s work. For the most part, I have hated each and every thing in this vein that has come along. No other author has ever come close to the wit, charm and complexity of Jane Austen and I, for one, think that modern authors should just stop trying.
Having said all that, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is one of the rare exceptions to this rule. Rather than trying to appropriate Jane’s characters and stories, Beth Pattillo writes about an Austen fan in the modern world. This way, she is able to pay tribute to Jane without having to live up to her. The plot is a bit like an Austen version of the Da Vinci Code. Emma, a young Austen scholar, whose marriage and job have both abruptly and traumatically ended, travels to England to track down lost letters written by Jane Austen. Angered at her expectations of love and happily ever after and blaming Jane Austen for instilling them in her, she nonetheless sees these letters as her way back into academia and some semblance of her life. She discovers a secret society whose purpose is to preserve the secrets contained in these letters, secrets about the love of Jane’s life and the love affair that inspired her novels. They are willing to share these letters with Emma on the condition that she keeps their secrets and that she performs a series of tasks, tracing Jane’s life and journey across England. And just to complicate matters, Emma is thrown together with Adam, an old friend who clearly wants to be more than just friends. While she is drawn to him, Emma’s ability to trust (both professionally and personally) is at an all time low and she tries to resists the attraction.
Overall, I found Jane Austen Ruined My Life to be charming… a bit lighthearted but fun. The writing is witty with occasional snarky comments (usually involving tables – something that Emma has fixated on ever since discovering her husband with her teaching assistant on one) that I enjoyed very much. While the secret society and the letters are fictional, the descriptions of the various Austen sites made me want to hop the first plane to England and experience them for myself. And I thought the ending of the book was mature and reasonable, and a real departure from what I expected from the end of this kind of story.
I can honestly say that I really enjoyed Jane Austen Ruined My Life and have happily added it to the extremely short list of Austen-lit books that I enjoyed and would recommend to fellow Austen fans. ...more
A good re-telling of the Rumplestilken fairy tale. As has been done with many stories, the author took the original tale out of its original context aA good re-telling of the Rumplestilken fairy tale. As has been done with many stories, the author took the original tale out of its original context and setting and re-arranged things for a more modern audience. While that can be problematic if not done right, A Curse Dark as Gold is one of the success stories in this genre. Re-setting the story during the dawning of the Industrial Revolution and adding in a sort of ghost / revenge plotline actually improves upon the story, giving motivation for the Rumplestilken character and gives context and reason to the need to guess his name. ...more
The Mystery of Grace reminded me a bit of Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place (and believe me when I say that any comparison I make to a Peter BeaThe Mystery of Grace reminded me a bit of Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place (and believe me when I say that any comparison I make to a Peter Beagle book is high praise) but with De Lint's own style and flavor on it. ...more
When I first started reading the Mermaids Singing, I would never have guessed that I would end up liking it so much. Out of the three generations of cWhen I first started reading the Mermaids Singing, I would never have guessed that I would end up liking it so much. Out of the three generations of characters that the story revolves around, I didn't start out liking either the mother, Grace, or the daughter, Grainne. Only my interest in the grandmother, Cliona (and later on, the father, Seamus) kept me reading the book. And I am grateful that it did.
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed the story and came to like or accept each of the characters and their choices. The author also incorporates stories and themes from the history of Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen of Ireland and of Mermaids... which adds layers of meaning and shades of mythology to the characters and their relationships with each other. And the author is very clever is with some of the details she weaves casually into the story which pay off in the end in a way that I did not anticipate but really enjoyed. ...more
I have really been enjoying the Newford series but I have to say that after reading The Onion Girl, I have been less than pleased with Charles de LintI have really been enjoying the Newford series but I have to say that after reading The Onion Girl, I have been less than pleased with Charles de Lint. I wasn't happy that he had left one of my favorite characters in the series, hurt and handicapped... unable to create her art and distanced from the one guy that everyone KNOWS she is supposed to end up with.
But now that de Lint has written Widdershins, all is forgiven. Though the story puts Jilly (and Geordi) to the test and drags her through a world of heartache, the resolution of all the dangling plot lines at the end of the book was enough to put a huge smile on my face. ...more
**spoiler alert** As much as I enjoyed returning to the world of Terre d'Ange, I have to say that Naamah's Kiss wasn't nearly as good as the original**spoiler alert** As much as I enjoyed returning to the world of Terre d'Ange, I have to say that Naamah's Kiss wasn't nearly as good as the original two trilogies in the Kushiel's Legacy series. Don't get me wrong, it was a good book and when the next one in the trilogy comes out, I will definitely pick it up. It says something for Jacqueline Carey's skill as a writer that even the weaker books in the series are definitely worth the time to read. But I had some problems with Moirin story.
The biggest complaint I had was that for the first part of the book, there really didn't seem to be a strong reason or any direction or urgency to her adventuring. It seemed like the reasoning behind her leaving Alba and hanging out in Terre D'ange seemed a bit flimsy. I also didn't understand why so many details of her birth and conception had to be hidden and vague. It just seemed like a bunch of drama with little concrete reasoning behind it. It's not until she decides to go to China with her teacher that there is any real sense of a quest. (It is also at that point the story picks up and I enjoyed it a bit more.)
Another issue I had was that it seemed like half of the significant intimate relationships Moirin has in the book (as opposed to the "hey, you're cute... why not" encounters that she indulges in because... after all, she is half D'Angeline) start are out of nowhere, and with some outside element (a tonic, a dragon) forcing the situation to happen. In the earlier trilogies, relationships began and grew very naturally... It was one of the things I loved most about the series. There was plenty of casual encounters, lustful moments, assignments with patrons but for the deeply personal, intimacy was never forced and as a result, I believed in the pairings more and was more invested in them. The shortcuts that the author took to get Moirin with Bao and Snow Tiger annoyed me.
I will say that I enjoyed hearing echoes of what happened with my favorite characters from the first two trilogies. It felt good to hear that Imri and Sidonie and Alias had the happily ever after that I felt they deserved. It was also cool to see references to Amarante and Ti Phillipe.
All in all, Naamah's Kiss was a decent book. It has some cool moments, a couple of cool characters (even if I suspect that the author is trying to recycle some of the dymanics between characters from the past trilogies to bulk up the new one) and while I still say that it hasn't quite lived up to the other Kushiel books, it definitely has the potential to develop into something pretty decent. So I am going to reserve judgement until I read book #2. ...more
I wanted to like the White Queen much better than I did. While I have read a ton of things on Tudor England, I hadn't really read much about the perioI wanted to like the White Queen much better than I did. While I have read a ton of things on Tudor England, I hadn't really read much about the period of history, the War of the Roses, which lead to the Tudor dynasty taking power. I thought that coming to the subject fairly fresh and unbiased would allow me to enjoy the story more.
Unfortunately, the book suffered from a very unlikable main character, a queen, power-hungry and ambitious, quick to see enemies, unable to let go of vendettas even when it would benefit herself and her family, prone to deliver curses and ill wishes despite them constantly rebounding on her and hers. While I couldn't help but feel sorry for her family members who seemed to bear the brunt of her schemes and feuds, I really couldn't work up any sympathy or interest for her.
My other issue with the book is that the author does very little to establish any history or context to what is going on. The reader gets thrown into a conflict that has already been going on for years with little to no back-story or information other than a genealogy chart at the beginning of the book. It made things confusing and more than a little bit frustrating.
Lastly, the author included a rather indulgent thread of witchcraft and sorcery in the story. Elizabeth, the main character, is able to cast “ill wishes” and cantrips to further her cause, as can her mother and her daughter, supposedly because she is descended from a water goddess. The only real point of interest was when Elizabeth and her daughter cursed whoever was responsible for the murder of the princes in the tower. Their curse is intended to cause the unknown murderer (and his descendants) to lose their first born sons until their line dies out. While the scene itself was a bit overdone, it was somewhat interesting because (according to Wikipedia) the daughter who helps her with this curse eventually marries Henry VII, who loses his firstborn son Arthur, leading to Henry VIII taking the throne which in turns leads to his infamous attempts to have sons by his six wives. It is ironic that the most interesting thing in the book wasn’t interesting until I turned to the internet to research these historical figures.
While I think I might enjoy reading another book on this subject, I really don’t recommend this one, particularly if you don’t come to it with a lot of foreknowledge. ...more
Rebecca Well's latest book, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, has all the charm and personality of the Ya-Ya trilogy without the darkness. AndRebecca Well's latest book, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, has all the charm and personality of the Ya-Ya trilogy without the darkness. And while there were moments that had me sobbing, it really was a very celebratory story. The resolution at the end was a little cliché but the characters and the style of the writing more than made up for that....more
Another great collection of short stories by Charles de Lint. While, Waifs and Strays isn't just a Newford book, (it contains some stories that de LinAnother great collection of short stories by Charles de Lint. While, Waifs and Strays isn't just a Newford book, (it contains some stories that de Lint did in other settings and feature different characters) it was still an enjoyable read. ...more
Another excellent book in the Newford series. I was particularly happy to read this one as I had just finished read The Onion Girl and it was good toAnother excellent book in the Newford series. I was particularly happy to read this one as I had just finished read The Onion Girl and it was good to go back to period in time where Jilly's life was on more of an upswing. Even though the story took us through some of the darker points in her history, it also took us through recovery and hope... which to me seemed liked a promise for her post-Onion-Girl prospects.... sort of a, "she did this once, she can do again" mentality.
I also just want to take a moment to say that Charles de Lint comes up with best book titles. Promises to Keep just as a title, not even counting the fact that it was part of a series I love, caught my attention instantly. It comes from one of my favorite Robert Frost poems, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. The full line is "But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep" which is very appropriate for this particular tale.
Also, this is another book where de Lint hints at the darker history of the Riddle boys, particularly Geordie and his own emotional walls built after his own emotional trauma. I haven't read all of the Newford books yet but if there isn't a book or story that deals more head on with the Riddle family history, I would strongy suggest that Charles de Lint write one. I for one would be interested in reading it. ...more