Nessa Kurland dreams of a track scholarship getting her out of her dying town of Tether, Michigan. While on a night time run, Nessa is bitten by a wolNessa Kurland dreams of a track scholarship getting her out of her dying town of Tether, Michigan. While on a night time run, Nessa is bitten by a wolf and suddenly finds herself faster, with sharpened senses, and with hair covering her body. Because, of course, Nessa is now a werewolf. This is exactly why I do not run in the woods at night (see also: serial killers, vampires, and rapists).
Nessa is not just struggling to deal with her newfound werewolf status. She’s also dealing with accusations of doping because of her sudden increase in speed. And with the creepy Paravida, an insidious company who presents itself as the savior of Tether, swooping in after the downfall of toxic polluter Dutch Chemical. Paravida pays for the cleanup, a health clinic, and even a study to monitor the town’s children, who have been exposed to the poisoned groundwater and other chemicals left behind by Dutch Chemical. Everyone in Tether is so grateful to Paravida, they don’t even complain when their children’s visits to the clinic take place behind closed doors, without any parents present. Paravida is clearly Up to No Good, as Nessa starts to suspect after her superhearing picks up a weird conversation between the doctor and nurse at her little brother’s clinic visit. I was immediately suspicious of Paravida because I was obsessed with The Secret World of Alex Mack as a child, and am therefore convinced that chemical companies are always out to get spunky young heroines with new-found powers. Unfortunately for Nessa, Paravida is not full of the bumbling fools that filled the ranks of Paradise Valley Chemical Plant in Alex Mack.
I liked Nessa a lot, and found her a breath of fresh air as a YA heroine. Too often, 99% of a YA heroine’s internal monologue is about boys, what she looks like, and what boys must be thinking about what she looks like. Plus, interminable love triangles. Or quadrangles or pentagons if an author is feeling extra feisty. Nessa is focused on actually important things, like getting a track scholarship, dealing with her new werewolf powers, and the safety of her little brother. I also appreciate that she is a generally smart, loyal, driven heroine and has a strong friendship with Bree, her best friend and partner in crime.
All that being said, I wish there was a bit more of a heated romance. Yes, I hate obsessive romantic thoughts that overpower all other plotlines. But I am also a huge fan of the swoon. Mysterious newcomer Luc is clearly set up to be the endgame love interest, but he’s taken a back seat in this book. I’m hoping things heat up a little in the next one (while Nessa stays focused on that track scholarship and taking down Paravida. Multi-tasking is an important skill!).
Disclaimer: The above is my honest review of the book. However, I must note that I received an ARC from the publisher and may do some work with the publisher in the future. ...more
This title is telling readers to just ACCEPT that there is no closure. Area X is a mysterious, alien place. And there is a half-answer about its existThis title is telling readers to just ACCEPT that there is no closure. Area X is a mysterious, alien place. And there is a half-answer about its existence,(view spoiler)[ that it is being terraformed by a seed from a dead alien world (hide spoiler)]. But, really, it is unknowable.
Although I didn't get the answers I wanted, VanderMeer at least shows a bit about Area X before it was Area X. We see the beginning, even if we will never really know the ending.
This was a disappointing end to what started out as a amazing horror trilogy. I almost wish that Annihilation stood alone, as I felt very little value was added by the subsequent books. ...more
Amy Schumer passes my memoir litmus test: she is someone I would like to have brunch with.
So far, in every single memoir I've read by a contemporaryAmy Schumer passes my memoir litmus test: she is someone I would like to have brunch with.
So far, in every single memoir I've read by a contemporary celebrity, the personality that shines through in the memoir is the exact same one as the celebrity's public persona. I don't know if this is just celebrities having an amazing ability to stay on-brand, or if celebrities actually just cannot (or do not want to) hide who they are, even when they have complete control of the narrative. Amy Schumer comes across in both her memoir and her public persona as blunt, loudmouthed, funny, and bubbly. Pretty much exactly who you want to have a bottomless mimosa brunch with. ...more
This doesn't feel like the end. There's still much more to explore! Alas, this appears to be it for now and it was satisfying even as I was left wantiThis doesn't feel like the end. There's still much more to explore! Alas, this appears to be it for now and it was satisfying even as I was left wanting more.
This is a series I know I will return to again and again over the years as a comfort read. ...more
I could read about Cathy and Will all day long. I found myself skipping the sections focused on the other characters, just to read more about Cathy anI could read about Cathy and Will all day long. I found myself skipping the sections focused on the other characters, just to read more about Cathy and Will.
The machinations and political intrigue get darker and twistier in this book. From the fae lords, to the insidious Agency, to the corruption in the Arbiter chapters, to the power-plays in Nether society, there are a lot of challenges for the characters. Newman does an excellent job of infusing a sense of real danger and dread in her series - especially concerning the Fae and their world of Exilium. Lord Poppy, the Fae patron of Cathy's family, is like a powerful toddler - mercurial and jovial and petulant. Depending on his mood, he will bless you or curse you just as easily. Lord Iris, the Fae patron of Will's family, is a cold, manipulative bastard who will always use you for a precise plan, perhaps centuries in the making. Neither is safe to encounter. Both of them are meddling intensely in Cathy's and Will's lives and it is extremely worrisome.
Newman managed to avoid the sophomore slump with this novel, and it actually felt like an improvement on the first book. Likely because Newman had already introduced her world and now was able to delve deeper into it. And because there was more Cathy and Will, although still not enough (never enough). ...more
This is, simply put, an escapist fantasy. Literally, a fantasy about escape. I think at some point, nearly everyone has been stressed, and unhappy, anThis is, simply put, an escapist fantasy. Literally, a fantasy about escape. I think at some point, nearly everyone has been stressed, and unhappy, and dissatisfied with where their life was and dreamt of just taking a break. Just getting on a train or a plane or in a car or hiking into the woods and going somewhere else, away from the daily grind. Away from all your responsibilities and issues and worries. But most people do not actually up and walk away from their life, because you cannot just walk away and expect everything to still be there when you come back. You will lose your job, break your partner's heart, and give your kids life-long abandonment issues.
Except in a fantasy world. In a fantasy world, your actions have no consequences. You can leave a note and walk out the door and cut off all contact with everyone in your life and you will never have to take responsibility for your actions.
Maribeth Klein is in one sense living the dream life: editor of a posh magazine run by her best friend, married to a handsome man working his dream job, adorable four-year-old twins, living in New York City, apparently comfortably well-off.
On the other hand, Maribeth is so busy and stressed out that she doesn't even notice that she's had a heart attack. I didn't even know that was possible. Apparently it is a thing, and it's more likely to happen to women. I had a friend whose appendix burst and she was so stressed and overworked at that point in her life that it took her days to realize that her appendix had burst.
Maribeth feels like she is doing the brunt of the emotional labor, household management, and childcare for the family. All while holding a full-time job. After she has her heart attack, her husband invites Maribeth's meddling mother to take care of the family, instead of stepping up himself. And he clearly expects Maribeth to be up and running at full capacity within days of a heart attack and open-heart surgery. Maribeth's husband is not pulling his weight, and she is sick of it.
So does Maribeth have a hear-to-heart conversation with him? Does she ask him to go to couple's counseling to work out their issues? Does she tell him that she needs space and peace to recover, so she is going to spend a week at (a hotel/her friend's vacation home/etc.)? Of course not. Maribeth, forty-four years old but clearly still in need of serious maturation, leaves a note, walks out the door, cuts off all contact with everyone in her life, and flees to Pittsburgh for an indefinite period of time.
Maribeth's time in Pittsburgh is an enjoyable enough bit of fluff. She gets a collection of quirky friends. She searches for her birth parents. She hangs out. She has periodic anxiety about her abandoned family, but not enough to actually call her children or husband. Like The Restaurant Critic's Wife, not much happens and I have serious issues with characters' choices, but I found it oddly enjoyable and compulsively readable.
But I kept waiting for the fallout. I mean, there has to be fallout, right? Maribeth not only abandoned her job and family, but her first communication (in weeks!) with her husband was an incredibly nasty email, because she's upset that he doesn't seem to be trying to win her back. Plus (view spoiler)[she cheats on him by making out with her doctor. (hide spoiler)] And she misses Thanksgiving! And never once tries to reach her kids! And is prepared to miss Christmas with them! But this is a fantasy. And in a fantasy, your choices have no consequences, and you never have to take responsibility for the terrible things you do. ...more
The wacky,crazy adventures of five Girl Scout-esque "hardcore lady types" at summer camp. There are yetis, three-eyed talking foxes, and moving statueThe wacky,crazy adventures of five Girl Scout-esque "hardcore lady types" at summer camp. There are yetis, three-eyed talking foxes, and moving statues. And, of course, the power of friendship. I'm not quite sure where this is going yet, but the journey itself is delightful. ...more
This was my first 2016-published book that I read, and it was a charming start to the publication year.
Harper Scott is a dedicated ballet student whoThis was my first 2016-published book that I read, and it was a charming start to the publication year.
Harper Scott is a dedicated ballet student whose sole goal in life is to be in the San Francisco Ballet with her best friend Kate. Then her plans fall apart, and Harper ends up as a research assistant in Antarctica, having run as far away as she can from her problems.
Longo got Harper's friendship/rivalry with Kate exactly right. They are best friends who share a love for a hyper-competitive sport. While Harper is passionate about ballet, Kate has the natural talent and body type. The San Francisco storyline (the "flashback" storyline) was by far the most interesting to me, because of the Harper/Kate dynamic. Their friendship is the true heart of the story. I was far, far more emotionally invested in their friendship than either of Harper's romances. While I was sympathetic to Harper's romantic woes, I was mostly emotionally detached from them. But Kate and Harper dealing with perceived betrayals broke my heart. It was therefore extremely frustrating when Kate/Harper became a minor storyline in the second half of the book. In fact, Harper refuses to talk to Kate while she is in Antarctica. And when Harper eventually returns to San Francisco, is the focus on the friendship? Nope. It's on the bland romantic interest. We don't even get to witness the Kate/Harper reunion!!
Harper's romances were so boring, it felt like they were included by publisher mandate. Owen is the hot, smart, sweet guy that Harper starts falling for in San Francisco just as her world is falling apart. It's insta-love, and his blind devotion to Harper even when she runs off to Antarctica and goes no contact with him is eye-rolling. Especially since they had only known each other for a few months. Such loyalty only occurs in novels and real-life doormats.
Owen's loyalty is utterly unrewarded, too, since in Antarctica Harper hooks up with a charming Irishman named Aidan. It's unclear if Aidan actually has feelings for Harper, or if she's just the only willing female in his age range in Antarctica. Aidan is the type to make grand romantic gestures, but disappear when he gets bored. It's not clear if Owen and Harper were on a break while she was in Antarctica, if they were not exclusive, or if Harper was cheating on Owen. It's not even clear if Harper knows. But it makes Owen's puppy-like devotion to Harper even more pathetic. Owen seems like such a great guy, I honestly was rooting for him to break up with Harper and move on to someone who wouldn't run away and ignore him for six months while she made out with another guy.
While the romances felt distracting and unnecessary, the rest of the book was very strong. As I've said, the Kate/Harper friendship was the best part of the book. I also thought Harper's struggle with losing her entire vision of the future was realistic and well-handled. Harper's relationship with her adorable babysitting charge/ballet student, Willa, was cute and touching. Willa's email begging Harper to come back was heartbreaking. I also loved Antarctica as the setting - it's the first time I think I've read a YA set there. Finally, Harper's character growth and her interactions with pretty much everyone but her love interests were well-handled. Overall, it was a strong book, even if it did not contain nearly enough focus on Kate/Harper. ...more
I feel like 2016 is The Year That Sophomore Novels Disappointed Me. The Girl with All the Gifts was a book I could rave about all day long. Fellside iI feel like 2016 is The Year That Sophomore Novels Disappointed Me. The Girl with All the Gifts was a book I could rave about all day long. Fellside is...a book.
I am half-wondering if Carey is working himself through interpretations of today's watercooler TV. If The Girl With All the Gifts was his take on The Walking Dead, then Fellside is his take on Orange is the New Black. I'm wondering what's next. Mr. Robot? House of Cards? Homeland?
Although the publisher REALLY wants you to know that M.R. Carey is the same guy who wrote The Girl With All the Gifts (it says so on the cover!!), very little of what made Girl so good is present. Maybe that's the reason for the reminder. Otherwise you may not realize the two books shared any connection. Also, there was no horror element involved in this book. A touch of the supernatural, but no horror.
Jess is put in prison for allegedly killing a child by setting a fire in her apartment complex. She has amnesia, so she has no memory of setting a fire. But she convinces herself she must have done it (the prosecutor's theory is she meant to kill her abusive boyfriend in the fire). Jess can see ghosts, and after trying to starve herself to death in prison, the ghost of the child she supposedly killed eventually convinces her to live and hunt for his killer.
In the meantime, there are a thousand other characters that we have to follow for no known reason. There’s the idealistic but morally compromised prison doctor, Salazar (“Sally”); the ruthless prison boss, Grace; the corrupt prison guard, Devlin (“Devil”), the dim-witted thug, the overly eager young druggie, the self-righteous nurse, etc. ARE ANY OF THESE PEOPLE ZOMBIES OR GHOSTS OR DEMONS OR VAMPIRES??? NO? THEN I DON’T CARE.
It felt like pulp literary fiction. Carey's writing style pulls the reader along and keeps the pace moving (even if it feels like it's going nowhere). But the focus on multiple characters, and their life stories, read more like literary fiction. The supernatural element was limited, and seemed more like a plot device than a main focus of the story. ...more
This is the first book I read from Swoon Reads, a publisher specializing in romantic ("swoonworthy") YA books that crowdsources which books it decidesThis is the first book I read from Swoon Reads, a publisher specializing in romantic ("swoonworthy") YA books that crowdsources which books it decides to publish. They even crowdsource which cover to use for the books (turns out I am fascinated by the cover choices and what other people think is the "best" cover). It's a pretty cool concept, and I am interested to see how it pans out in the long term.
Did I find Walk of Shame swoonworthy? Not really. But I also don't find 90% of the most bestselling YA romances swoonworthy (Bella/Edward of Twilight, Tris/Four of Insurgent, whoever the leads were in Fallen, any couples in The Mortal Instruments, etc.). So even though I didn't feel any spark between the leads, others probably will. And this book was the piece of fluffy fun I was looking for. It didn't surprise me or make me light-headed with giddiness, but it was enjoyable, and that's pretty much all I ask out of my contemporary YA.
The heroine is Taylor Simmons, a straight-edge student vying for the title of valedictorian. She’s an overachiever and laser-focused. She is also obviously a brown-nosing know-it-all, since most of the school seems excited for her fall. She’s the kind of girl who is upset when a teacher decides NOT to give a quiz. Taylor wakes up in the bed of high school playboy Evan McKinley. They both got drunk at a party and ended up in bed together (but Taylor wants to make it clear that they did not have sex). Everyone loves the idea of Taylor being just another notch on Evan’s belt. So Taylor, to get past the shame, decides to get into a love contract with Evan, wherein they both pretend to date each other. Taylor has a good reason to do so – it defeats the gossipmill. Evan actually has NO reason to do it. He does it because he’s clearly had a crush on Taylor for a while – they had barely spoken before, but somehow Evan had watched her so closely that he already knew she was obsessed with mushrooms. Why did he never ask her out before? Who knows. Of course, Taylor and Evan start really falling for each other. Taylor is more foul-mouthed and feisty than her good girl Ice Queen image. Evan is actually very bright despite his slacker reputation.
I could've done without the love triangle where the other point was the "good" but boring guy. And I could have really done without the "Taylor's not like other girls" aspect. What does that even mean? That is not even a thing. Because there is no Platonic ideal of a "girl" out there that 99% of girls adhere to. There are, in fact, plenty of uptight, virginal girls like Taylor. In fact, Taylor isn't even unique among YA heroines! Or pop culture heroines - Grease's Sandra Dee, anyone? Taylor can pretend she's a special snowflake if she wants, but it's upsetting that the book appears to support Taylor's arrogant, ego-centric view of herself as "not like other girls."
However, as I said, overall this was a fun, cute book. It's clear that Nguyen has a lot of passion for writing YA, and this is a very good start for a debut author. I have high hopes she will only improve from here....more
I really liked the bones of this story. Many of my criticisms I feel safely fall under the rubric of "first novel problems" and can be resolved in anyI really liked the bones of this story. Many of my criticisms I feel safely fall under the rubric of "first novel problems" and can be resolved in any future novels. I love the world that Tompkins has created and I want to read more novels set in it and am optimistic they will be an improvement. The one fatal flaw may have been Aisling, the part goddess and nominal heroine of the novel (or so the book flap promised me). The book almost lost a whole star due to her, and how utterly useless she was.
The Last Days of Magic is set in 14th century Europe, between 1387 and 1400. The Morrigna twins have been reborn, as they always are in Ireland's time of need. The twins are a goddess in human form - warrior Aisling and scholar Anya. Morrigna is a tripartite goddess, and her third aspect (Annan) remains in the Otherworld. The twins are destined to rule over both human Celts and the inhuman Sidhe. Unfortunately for the twins (and Ireland), Kellach, the Sidhe king of the Skeaghshee (tree Sidhe) attempts to assassinate both twins. Kellach is tired of sharing Ireland with the Celts, and dreams of killing all the humans and becoming the high king of a Sidhe-only Ireland. Kellach half fails: he kills Anya but Aisling survives. The Sidhe and humans of Ireland debate whether to kill off Aisling, to allow the Morrigna to be reborn again. They really should have. They could not have gotten a worse Morrigna than Aisling.
Although I thought Aisling was the heroine of this novel, she is mostly absent from this story. The focus is more often on Jordan, a Vatican mercenary. Jordan is half-Sidhe and is quite interested in his magical half. He eventually picks up a witch named Najia as his lover, who plays a somewhat critical role in the story. Jordan is tasked with aiding the Vatican's plot to invade Ireland, take over the rebel Irish Church, and rid the island of Europe's last large Nephilim population (the Sidhe, like the other magical creatures, are Nephilim, the descendants of angels and humans). The Vatican allies with King Henry II and the evil Sidhe Kellach (the one who tried to kill the Morrigna twins) to conquer Ireland. There are also a coven of French witches peripherally entangled, as they want the alliance to succeed so Ireland is weakened and they can sneak in to kill Sidhe for their spells and learn their secrets.
If you think that's a lot of plot and characters to fit into under 400 pages, you are right. The introduction of so many characters slows down the plot for the first half, as action is halted almost every time a point of view is switched. This was especially noticeable with Aisling, where it felt like it took far too long to find out where her storyline was going (before I realized it was going nowhere). What slows the story down even more are extraneous flashbacks. Backstories are slipped in that feel unnecessary, given how much has to be accomplished in such a short time. The backstories of Liam (Aislin's mentor) and Oren (a captured Welsh faerie) are two that I felt were noticeably extraneous. Although the story often felt slowed, at the same time it felt rushed, especially in the second half as Ireland is invaded. Battles and deaths sweep by, and it feels like we barely get to know several characters that should be key players (like the kings and especially queens of Ireland - Ireland has five queens/kings and one elected high king - and almost any of the good Sidhe).
My biggest problem with the book, as I said above, was Aisling. The idea of a reborn goddess in human form is intriguing and I had high hopes for her. Turns out, Aisling is the most useless, selfish, moping, maddening character I have met in ages. Despite being trained as a warrior and raised to rule and protect Ireland, Aisling cannot give two figs about her people or her land. After her twin's death she is understandably bereft, but she never seems to have regained any spark or fight, even when Ireland is invaded. She makes a series of rash and stupid actions and it is clear that she cares for her husband and later her daughters, but not at all for anything or anyone else. She is perfectly willing to throw everything else away without a thought. She is supposedly Ireland's great hope, but she cannot even be bothered to pretend to care about Ireland. During the battle with the invaders, Aisling (view spoiler)[almost loses the spell to protect her army against iron - including the deadly English longbows - by trying to cast a personal protective spell around her husband Conor; flees the scene entirely and leaves her army and Conor to be massacred because her daughters are in danger - and it is utterly baffling how NO ONE sought to guard and protect Aisling's daughters; refuses to heal the mortally wounded Brigid; and ultimately decides to go surrender to the English with her daughter, without considering they may slaughter both of them - they don't, surprisingly (hide spoiler)].
I also was not fond of:
-The bad guys being SO BAD. Richard II was a bit more complex, and I suppose Kellach had his reasons even if his methods were bloody, but they had no real redeeming qualities. The Vatican members were to a man corrupt, venal, and self-serving. I don't think any of them even pretended to be motivated by religious fervor - it was all about the power and the money.
-The present day storyline, which only occurred in the prologue and epilogue. I am not sure what the point of it was, as it had no bearing on the main story, except as a setup for a sequel.
-The unrelentingly grim tone. I would hope for at least a little comic relief or some humor. Any happiness was squashed, usually within the same chapter. I blame Game of Thrones and the popularity of the grimdark genre.
-The French High Coven. They are like the third villain in a superhero movie - it's just one villain too many, and it makes the plot feel too crowded. There was nothing wrong with the High Coven itself, but there was not room for Coven Point of View chapters in the story.
- The "In the End" section featuring snippets about the fates of various characters. I have no issues with the section existing, and found it interesting, but, like the rest of the book, what was included (and what was excluded) left me baffled. Important characters like Liam, Jordan, and Najia were not included. And yet numerous witches and High Coven members were - including Catherine de Thouars, who I have absolutely no memory of in the story. Historical figures like Joan of Arc and Johannes Gutenberg also appear - they were not in the story at all.
With all that being said, I still have a lot of fondness for this book. I want to read more books set in this world. I think the problems I had with pacing, editing, and character development are symptomatic of a first novel, not anything that is systematic to the author. Tompkins has clearly done his research, and his is a welcome addition to the historical fantasy genre (which really does not have enough books - I want more historical fantasy!). The world that Tompkins created is vibrant and full of possibility, and I adored the mix of myth, folklore, and Biblical stories. ...more
I LOVED this. LOVE LOVE LOVE. This is a callback to the fantasy books of my youth -when worldbuilding and character development were paramount and eveI LOVED this. LOVE LOVE LOVE. This is a callback to the fantasy books of my youth -when worldbuilding and character development were paramount and everything does not revolve around a silly love triangle. This is the story of a strong girl trying to do her best, which is the story that I want to read.
Keri is a baker in the idyllic, hidden kingdom of Nimmera. Nimmera is protected by a magical border that hides it from its bellicose neighbors. Keri is the unacknowledged bastard of the Lord (Nimmera's ruler). She has no thought to ever using her royal blood - her future will be running the bakery she inherited from her mother. Then the kingdom's ruler dies. A new ruler will be chosen by the land, and acknowledged by the ruler's three advisors/magical assistants: the Timekeeper (who keeps, and to an extent can manipulate time), the Bookkeeper (who has access to all the knowledge in the kingdom and can find any book), and the Doorkeeper (who can unlock or lock any door or path in the kingdom). The late ruler had three acknowledged sons, and Keri. Much to Keri's surprise, she is selected to be the next ruler. She begins her rule at a difficult time, because her womanizing, selfish father weakened the country's magical borders through illicit trade. Now, Keri has to deal with restoring the borders while trying to handle her three brothers (who have different ideas of who should rule, and how) and representatives from the wiley socerer dictatorship in the North and the hard-edged warrior kingdom in the South.
Neumeier has created a rich setting, that feels whole and lived in - without having to resort to miles of exposition. But my favorite part were the characters. As I said, Keri was a strong and clever girl who is doing her best to hold her kingdom together, against all expectations. She does have a love interest - Cort, her best friend's cousin, who became Keri's new Doorkeeper. And while Keri does clearly care about Cort, her first concern is protecting her kingdom; not whether Cort is smiling at her or not. I also found myself surprisingly interested in Keri's brothers: Bran (the arrogant charmer who is most like his father and believes he deserves to be the new Lord); Domeric (the blunt and direct warrior with the looks of a thug who thinks he knows better than Keri); and dark horse favorite Lucas (charming and flippant, he plays the fool to hide his own slyness).
I will admit that this book did drag in a few places. And while this often annoys me in books, I found I didn't care here. Because I loved the world and the characters and the whole book far too much to let anything minor like a bit of loss of momentum bother me. I truly wish more current fantasy YA was like this book. ...more
Really, I should have seen this coming. It's the themes and the magical realism of Martel's first book, Life of Pi, left to age for about a decade andReally, I should have seen this coming. It's the themes and the magical realism of Martel's first book, Life of Pi, left to age for about a decade and a half in a vat of LSD.
This book is about: dead wives, dead children, animals (more specifically, chimpanzees), grief, surrealism, journeys, philosophy, and magical realism.
It is set out in three parts. Each part ended so abruptly that I kept feeling like I had missed a page. The parts are connected, with events and items and characters spilling over.
The first part features Tomas, a young man who has taken to walking backwards in his grief over the deaths of his wife and son. It's 1904 Lisbon, and Tomas has discovered a journal written by a disillusioned priest horrified by slavery. The journal suggests that there is a game-changing relic in the High Mountains of Portugal. So off Tomas goes after it, in his uncle's brand-new car. And he goes and he goes and he goes, in excruciating detail.
The second part is set on New Year's Eve 1938. A pathologist listens to his wife give a fascinating but rambling soliloquy comparing God/the Bible/Jesus to an Agatha Christie novel. Then she walks out and another woman comes in, carrying her husband's corpse in a suitcase. After detailing her entire life history, the woman demands that the pathologist perform an autopsy. He does, and pulls out a variety of improbable and impossible things, up to and including a chimpanzee hugging a small bear in the man's chest cavity.
The third section is set in the 1980s, and follows a Canadian senator grieving his dead wife. He impulsively buys a chimpanzee (!) and equally impulsively decides that he wants to take this chimp to his ancestral town in the High Mountains of Portugal. Apparently, magical realism includes the fantasy that there are no laws or regulations surrounding buying a chimpanzee as a private citizen and transporting it to a foreign country.
Martel has a good ear for language, and I enjoyed his individual sentences immensely. But I never could figure out the point of it all. Maybe I just don't enjoy deciphering bizarre symbolism enough. It was a puzzle I had no interest in solving.
My very least favorite part of Life of Pi was the carnivorous island. It felt so jarring and out-of-place and absurd. The High Mountains of Portugal is a series of carnivorous islands, strung together by painfully detailed passages.
Overall, this book didn't feel like it was written with the Life of Pi audience in mind. This is for readers of dreamy, philosophical magical realism. Think, Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist. And I'm certainly not that reader. ...more
I am torn between a 3-star and 4-star rating. I think it is 4-star quality, but personally I lean closer to it feeling like a 3-star. This is a resultI am torn between a 3-star and 4-star rating. I think it is 4-star quality, but personally I lean closer to it feeling like a 3-star. This is a result of:
(1) World War I/World War II novel fatigue - There are SO MANY WWI/II novels and I have not found one that has something original to say in years. YEARS. And I probably read around a dozen annually. Authors realize there are literally hundreds of other wars that have happened, right? Do you want European wars? How about the 100 Years War? Or the 30 Years War? Or the Franco-Prussian War? Do you want 20th century wars? How about the Balkan Wars? Or the Boer War? Or the Irish War of Independence? Why just stick to the two most written about wars in the English language?
(2) Long book fatigue - I really feel like books have to justify for me being over 300 pages. This book is nearly 500 pages, and I don't see why it needed the extra 200.
I adored Helen Simonson's first book, Major Pettigrew's Last Standso much and I eagerly anticipated her next book. I had begun to worry that Simonson would be one of those one-book wonders and never have a sophomore work (it's been six years since her first book). And then! A new novel was announced! I was a bit leery of the subject matter, but wanted to give it a try because I loved Simonson's first work so much.
Simonson is a wit, and this book is often very charming and witty. Simonson is also skilled at portraying village psychology, although the town of Rye began to feel very claustrophobic. There were small moments of triumph, but it felt like too often the village bullies and sexism, classism, and racism won the day.
Beatrice Nash arrives in town to be the new Latin teacher, surprising everyone by being younger and prettier than expected. Beatrice's position is sponsored by Agatha, a progressive thinker who is looking for small victories - like getting a woman hired as a Latin teacher. Agatha has two nephews, who are in town that summer: Hugh, a stiff but kind medical student and Daniel, a charming and rogueish poet. The book mostly centers around Beatrice, Agatha, Hugh, and Daniel, as they deal with village politics, Belgian refugees, and the approaching war.
I was grateful that really, 90% of this book was before the war. I think this would have been a stronger book if it only took place before the war, with maybe just a short post-war epilogue. Skip the whole war part altogether, just show the lead-up. Maybe that would have taken away some of its poignancy - unsurprisingly, some of the hardest tragedies occur in the 10% that takes place during the war. But it would have kept the book more focused, instead of treading into the same drama and plotlines of all the other books in this genre (I mean, really, another Sadistic, Brutal Commanding Officer, whose only role seems to be to pick on the weakest member in the unit, while our hero(es) are forced to watch helplessly on, unable to protect a friend from their own army? This trope has already been played out by All the Light We Cannot See and dozens of other books like it. Not only that, but this commanding officer LITERALLY HAD A SHOOT THE DOG MOMENT. We get it, this guy is baaaaad).
I am still excited for Simonson's next book. Her characters feel very real, her dialogue is quite charming and witty, and she is a queen of slow burn romance (in this book, that would be Beatrice and Hugh). Even though this book was not for me, there was still much to admire about it. Since she seems to be going backwards in time, maybe the next one could be a Regency novel? Simonson is the perfect author to take on a book in the vein of the Jane Austen canon or Middlemarch....more
**spoiler alert** What a confusing book. I have no idea how I feel about it. I mean, I kept wanting to read it, which is good. But it also left me a l**spoiler alert** What a confusing book. I have no idea how I feel about it. I mean, I kept wanting to read it, which is good. But it also left me a little miffed.
Natalie Cleary has been having hallucinations/visions/dreams for as long as she can remember of “Grandmother” a wise old lady who tells her parables, mostly based off of Native American stories (and also the story of Abraham & Isaac). When Natalie is about to head off for college, “Grandmother” tells her she only has three months to save “him.” Then Natalie begins to have daytime hallucinations of a hot, mysterious boy named Beau. She falls instantly in love with him for no reason whatsoever.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Beau and Natalie are in parallel universes where the other does not exist. They can somewhat move between the worlds. In the end, it turns out that either Beau OR Natalie die in the same car accident as children. Grandmother is (as I guessed), Old Natalie. Grandmother did not save Beau from his collapsing parallel universe and regrets it, because apparently Beau was the one and only true love of Natalie’s life, and Natalie will never feel instalove for anyone but Beau. Depressing, Granny Natalie. So, Granny Natalie has decided to connect with Natalie as she bops around in time (oh yeah, not only do Natalie and Beau travel into parallel universes, they can also TRAVEL BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS IN TIME). Granny decides to prime Natalie with stories of love and impossible choices. Because Granny’s master plan is to HAVE NATALIE COMMIT SUICIDE TO SAVE BEAU. Because only Beau OR Natalie can exist. And Granny regrets choosing herself. So she wants her younger (alternative!) version of herself to die for love. What the hell, Granny Natalie.
This is never brought up, but Natalie cannot just kill herself at 18 because THAT CREATES A PARADOX. Natalie would only commit suicide IF Granny told her to, and Granny can only tell Natalie to commit suicide IF Natalie survives to become old, suicidal Granny Natalie. Sadly, Granny Natalie has gained in wisdom but not intelligence in her years and has never thought of that.
In a very ambiguous (annoyingly ambiguous) ending, it appears that Natalie somehow managed to make a third way – she goes back in time to the accident and walks into the road to make her mom stop the car before the accident (I thought her Mom was asleep and that’s what caused the accident? How did her mom see her if she was asleep?). I'm pretty sure this would also create a paradox. Time travel is a tricky beast....more
The first story, told only in pictures, is the history of the Marvels, a legendary acting family. It begins with Billy Marvel, the only survivor of thThe first story, told only in pictures, is the history of the Marvels, a legendary acting family. It begins with Billy Marvel, the only survivor of the Kraken shipwreck. It ends with the fifth generation Marvel, Leo Marvel, who angers his father by wanting to be an artist instead of an actor.
The story then switches to text. It features Joseph Jervis, a young boy who runs away from his boarding school to find his best friend, Blink. Somehow he gets it in his head that his Uncle Albert Nightingale can help him. So he goes to Albert, a cranky old man (who isn’t actually old! He’s 36!), who lives in a fascinating, marvelous house.
Selznick is a ridiculously talented author - with just a series of simple drawings he reveals deep emotions, plot twists, and rich characters. His writing, on the other hand, is rather simplistic. This being a middle grade book, perhaps that is purposeful. Still, it felt like his drawings had more life and expressed more emotion than any of his text. ...more
I adored LaBan's first novel, The Tragedy Paper, and have been periodically checking in to see what she came out with next. LaBan has moved from conteI adored LaBan's first novel, The Tragedy Paper, and have been periodically checking in to see what she came out with next. LaBan has moved from contemporary YA to adult contemporary. I found this book pleasing and enjoyable, although it probably could’ve used another draft or two.
Honestly, it did not feel like much happened in this book. It was mainly a serious of mundane events, a frontrow view into being the mother of two young children with a selfish partner. At the same time, I was never bored. I feel like usually this kind of book would drive me insane. I rant all the time about books with not enough plot. But Lila's struggle with moving to a new city, transitioning to being a stay-at-home mom, missing her job as a respected crisis manager, and handling her snotty husband provided enough of a drive to the story. It could certainly have been tightened, but I enjoyed it all the way through and kept wanting to see what happened next. That's more than I can say about most books I read these days.
My biggest frustration was Lila's husband, Sam. Even just thinking about him while writing this review fills me with RAGE. I had really, really hoped that this book would end in a glorious divorce, with Sam weeping all alone in a hotel room, clutching the restaurant reviews he destroyed his family for. That is how much I hated Sam. And that is how little Sam redeemed himself. I am still upset that Sam did not get enough of a comeuppance for his infantile and selfish behavior throughout the book
It's not that Sam was a bad father. In fact, LaBan was scrupulous in showing that Sam was a good father. He clearly adores his children, and was happy to take care of them. But Sam is a terrible husband, and his behavior boarded on abusive (and maybe even crossed the line into abusive).
The book opens after Sam has gotten his dream gig as a restaurant critic for a local Philadelphia newspaper. Lila gives up her incredibly successful and fulfilling work as a national hotel chain's crisis manager and relocates from New Orleans to support Sam. Lila gives up a LOT just so Sam can have the job he has always wanted. And is Sam infinitely grateful to Lila for this? No. He becomes a controlling monster as soon as he starts his job.
When Sam is eating at a restaurant he's critiquing, he stops treating everyone else as human beings. He's rude, obnoxious, and completely selfish. He dresses up in odd disguises (that fool no one and embarrasses Lila). He fails to engage in conversation (even when he is eating with Lila or invited guests). He often tells Lila what to order. And he forces his daughter to only eat macaroni and cheese for an entire vacation as some bizarre restaurant test/article gimmick.
On top of all that, he has decided that the best and only course of action is to completely isolate Lila. He tells her to not make any friends or engage the neighbors, and then gets wildly upset with her when she does make friends. Of course, Lila doesn’t help by agreeing to become a hermit for her husband’s career and then when she does make friends, they are (1) the wife of a restaurant owner and (2) a worker at one of Sam’s favorite restaurants. But still. Sam acts like his identity is a matter of national security, when really any 12-year old could probably uncover his identity within minutes. Even when Lila shows up in some gossip column blind items (really? There’s no one more gossipworthy in Philly than the restaurant critic’s wife?), meaning that clearly people already know who they are, Sam doesn’t relax that the secret is out. He just becomes more paranoid. Frankly, Sam acts like a complete psycho during his restaurant outings, so it would be pretty easy to spot him. Also, when Lila and Sam fight over Lila’s friends, this is how he handles it: “Blah, blah, blah,’ Sam says with a dismissive tone. ‘We’re adults here. We have control over the people we socialize with.’” What a self-absorbed, condescending way to speak to your wife.
Monitors what you're doing all the time Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school Decides things for you that you should be allowed to decide (like what to wear or eat) Humiliates you in front of others Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
Yep, that's Sam. What Sam is doing is not just exasperating or a minor mistake. He is trying to isolate and control his wife. That is scary. Lila cried a lot (to Sam! Who didn’t seem to care!) about how lonely and isolated she felt. Abuse is not just physical violence.
When Lila finally breaks and releases her fury on Sam, I thought it was underwhelming. I wanted MORE. I wanted Sam to really see how wrong he was. Sam is contrite afterwards, but it never felt like he understood why he was wrong.
One thing I was curious about was the lack of Yelp. Was this book set in 1998? Restaurant critics definitely still have their place, but in the age of Yelp, can they still make or break a restaurant? I honestly don't know. But I feel like Yelp could at least function as a counterbalance - Sam may hate a restaurant, but would a restaurant care if it still had a high Yelp rating?...more
Absolutely pleasant and brisk, with appealing characters and even fiesty, arrogant talking cats. Plus, steampunk. There was a lot to entertain here, bAbsolutely pleasant and brisk, with appealing characters and even fiesty, arrogant talking cats. Plus, steampunk. There was a lot to entertain here, but the length! I was not so enraptured that I didn't notice how long it was taking me to finish. ...more
My favorite part of Volume 1 was the exploration of what it is like to have adventurers in town (which is: rowdy, unpredictable, and chaotic). VolumeMy favorite part of Volume 1 was the exploration of what it is like to have adventurers in town (which is: rowdy, unpredictable, and chaotic). Volume 2 is a more straight-forward Kill the Bad Guy plot.
Gerrig Lake (the evil merchant) has called tentacle monsters from the sky to destroy Palisade and avenge his wife's death. They're creepy and they conveniently induce flashbacks in people (which gives us some nice backstory on dwarven warrior Violet and elven mage Hannah).
Volume 2 suffers a bit from the sophomore slump. It's not as fresh as the first volume nor is it as fast paced. Gerrig Lake felt like he was going to be a longer-arc villain. The focus appeared to be more on delving deeper into the Rat Queen's pasts then moving the story forward. While individually a little weak, this volume feels like it has helped to set up future arcs. Rat Queens continue to be a promising series and I look forward to their future adventures.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy for review....more
This collection was overall not as strong as My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. I felt like fewer of these stories caught my attention tThis collection was overall not as strong as My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. I felt like fewer of these stories caught my attention than the first volume. It's probably not a surprise that the first collection had a higher percentage of authors I love. In this series (and I do hope it's a series! I would love fall and spring versions), my enjoyment of the stories strongly correlates to how much I've liked the authors' other works. Although at first it surprised me that Cassandra Clare and Levi Grossman had two of my favorite short stories, once I thought about it I realized it wasn't really a surprise. I may have strong negative feelings about Clare's Mortal Instrument series, but I still re-read her Draco Trilogy. And while Lev Grossman's Quentin Coldwater is the #1 Most Slappable Protagonist, his Magicians trilogy held a strange charisma for me. The one standout new-to-me author was Nina LaCour. Her Everything Leads to You was already on my to-read list, but now I have much higher expectations.
Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail (Leigh Bardugo) [B+] - The story of a girl who thinks she sees the local legendary water monster. Looking for answers, she is directed by the local mystery woman/witch to talk to a summer kid about it. This summer kid is a teenage boy who is obsessed with cryptozoology and loves to eat strawberry-dipped ice cream at the local DQ. Boy and girl hang out all summer, and then boy goes away at the end of the next summer. Girl is not overly suspicious about the fact that the boy is UNCONTACTABLE during the school year (he says he comes from a sheltered family, is home-schooled, and his parents don’t let him have a cellphone/TV/etc. Except he clearly knows how to use the library so he probably could have an e-mail account). The start and the end were a little too strange for me, but it was fairly cute and it felt appropriately summery.
The End of Love (Nina LaCour) [B+/A-] - A girl's mom and dad are divorcing (amicably, after years of fighting), and she is upset that her parents are giving away/selling her entire childhood. The girl she has a crush on and the girl's friends are in her same summer school class. A very cute romance and some fun friend bonding ensue. It felt like the beginning of a full book - there was still more story to tell! I especially wanted to know the fallout of her finally telling her mom that her mom was being entirely selfish. There had been so much buildup and tension caused by the girl's resentment of her parents, and I felt like I never got the catharsis of the resolution.
Last Stand at the Cinegore (Libba Bray) [B-] - I am not sure that campy, comedic horror really works in a book setting. I don't know why I can completely get behind in a TV show (yes, I actually enjoyed Scream Queens), but when written out, it just leaves me with a bad taste. I mean, a whole movie theater of innocent people get turned into demons and die gory deaths just to set up a teen romance? Those poor people! This story was supposed to be funny (I think), but it just made me sad that innocents were slaughtered for no purpose (and I don't care that the only audience members who were given speaking lines were Jerk Bully and Snooty Hipster. I'm sure there were good people there too).
Sick Pleasure (Fracesca Lia Block) [F] - My very, very least favorite. I feel like most of the authors were on board with the idea that these are romantic YA stories. This one was...not romantic. In fact, the ending was deflatingly realistic. I also spent most of my time wondering why all the characters are only known by their initials. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for it, and all it did was confuse and annoy me. I also spent far too long wondering if this story was in the first or third person, because the narrator/main character is known as "I." Do you see how that could be confusing? What is the purpose? There are 26 other letters in the alphabet! Why choose the one letter that could cause such confusion?? Spoiler: It's in the first person.
In Ninety Minutes Turn North (Stephanie Perkins) [A-]- A sequel to My True Love's "It's a Christmas Miracle, Charlie Brown." Since the first story, Marigold and North broke up (!). Marigold shows up at North's new job, determined to win him back. While I loved the first story more, I was excited to see Marigold and North return. I would read many more stories about these two crazy kids.
Souvenirs (Tim Federle) [B-] - This is the story of Matt and Kieth’s “break-up” day. That is Kieth with an "ie", which basically says everything you need to know about Kieth. He is a showboating egoist, and I could not see any downside to Matt and him ending things. I know he's cute, but you can do better, Matt! I'm not sure if the audience was supposed to be rooting for the break-up to occur. But I sure did. Most of the time is spent with Matt working at the local amusement park, watching Kieth, who also works at the park, and being bummed out. Far too much moping. The ending...confused me. I think it was supposed to be empowering?
Inertia (Veronica Roth) [B] - I feel like I should have liked this more? But then didn’t? In the future, those individuals who doctors predict will certainly die are granted Last Visitations by selected loved ones. The loved ones and the dying have their memories merge, and can interact in these memories. The story's love interest is in a car accident, and has included his ex-best friend as one of his Last Visitors. Will they make-up? Will they make-out? Will he survive? I really felt like this concept should have given me all the feels, but it didn't, and I can't put my finger on why.
Love is the Last Resort (Jon Skovron) [B] - A cutesy, light bit of fluff, that was perhaps a tad too airy for my tastes. This is a screwball comedy of a variety of couples who are Meant to Be at an exclusive resort.
Good Luck and Farewell (Brandy Colbert) [B] - Rashida's aunt/surrogate-mom is moving away with her girlfriend to California. Rashida is understandably sad and more than a little resentful. She ends up falling for her aunt’s girlfriend’s surrogate brother. Rashida dealing with the transition/change of losing her mother figure of course took more precedence than the romance. But it didn't leave enough time for the romance, and that left the romantic relationship feel rushed and incomplete.
Brand New Attraction (Cassandra Clare) [A-] - This story made me really, truly wish that Clare wrote a YA book that was not the nine millionth Mortal Instruments novel. This is about a girl whose dad owns a Dark Carnival (complete with adorable demon). Her evil uncle tries to take over the carnival, but she (and a cute guy) work to foil him. It may a bit too Scooby Doo for some, but I found the Dark Carnival concept intriguing and spooky, and I wouldn't mind if it was expanded on for a full-length novel.
A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong (Jennifer E. Smith) [B-] - A camp counselor and her love interest. I honestly cannot think of anything to say about it.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” (Lev Grossman) [A+] - My very, very favorite one of all. A boy and a girl are trapped repeating August 4 (a la Groundhogs Day. They make a map of all the tiny perfect moments in the day, and the final tiny perfect moment holds the key to making the world finally turn to August 5. I am still a bit confused by how the 4th dimension is tied in, but I found this story adorable and nearly perfect. ...more
When I was a wee lass, I was helping out at a garage sale and was told that I could choose one book as my reward. I was already deeply in love with AlWhen I was a wee lass, I was helping out at a garage sale and was told that I could choose one book as my reward. I was already deeply in love with Alanna: The First Adventure, which sparked an obsession with all things medieval. Maybe that's why I picked this out, despite its absolutely hideous cover and incredibly boring title. It has remained possibly the best book I've ever selected on a whim.
Maude Reed is feisty, clever, and stubborn. She wants to be a wool merchant, like her father, but instead is sent off to learn how to be a lady. She hates it. And Maude is not someone to just sit by and accept her fate. There's also a very subtle love story (which I adored) with Henry, a young man destined to be a knight.
The Maude Reed Tale is a hidden gem. Don't be put off by the cover or the title or its age. It's delightful, and is especially perfect for fans of young heroines who decide to defy societal expectations....more
I was going to read just a few pages before going to bed...then I read all of it.
I found it utterly delightful and am so pleased I got to read the enI was going to read just a few pages before going to bed...then I read all of it.
I found it utterly delightful and am so pleased I got to read the entire thing at once instead of finding Nimona when it was a webcomic and only being able to read new sections at twice a week 2-page intervals.
I absolutely adored the Nimona/Lord Ballister Blackheart’s dynamic. She, the tiny, bloodthirsty, gung-ho, powerful child. He, the crafty, scientific, logical, thoughtful guy. Fighting against the “good guys” of the Institute who are really the bad guys. Lord Ballister Blackheart is supposedly the supervillain and Nimona is supposedly the sidekick, but it quickly becomes apparent that Nimona is the more ruthless and powerful of the two.
I feel like there is so much story to tell (although it does conclude in this volume). I hope Stevenson feels inspired to write a sequel (or even a prequel), because there is always room for more Nimona....more
I am a big fan of sci fi thrillers, but this one just did not work for me.
Peri Reed is a drafter: she can go back in time a few seconds to change herI am a big fan of sci fi thrillers, but this one just did not work for me.
Peri Reed is a drafter: she can go back in time a few seconds to change her timeline. Each draft she does, however, she loses time. She also risks having a complete psychotic break if too many doubled timelines exist in her head. She needs an anchor – a handler who grounds her, defrags her memories, and reminds her of the time she’s lost. Peri’s ability makes her the perfect assassin – and she’s used as a weapon by the secret government-backed organization Opti. Opti gives Peri the lavish lifestyle that she craves, but a corrupt sector of Opti is also using the organization for its own goals. Peri finds out about the betrayal and loses three years after she’s wiped by the corrupt faction. Peri knows her memories are gone, but not what they were. But she knows something is off. Then Silas whirls into her life, telling her about the corrupt Opti faction. Silas is a member of the alliance – a splinter group of drafters and anchors who want to fight against Opti’s monopoly on drafter power.
The concept is unabashedly cool and the perfect set up for a summer blockbuster. But it was all flash and no substance. The characters were wafer-thin and I kept finding myself muddled and confused.
Peri is spoiled and reckless. Her unabashed elitism and craving for elegance gives her some dimension, but becoming an amnesiac every few chapters and having to have the entire book’s plot explained to her repeatedly gets annoying. Silas is boring – a large, handsome man with an attitude problem who wants to protect Peri (i.e., generic romantic hero syndrome). And I could never figure out how old he is – he seems like a crotchety old man, and he’s developed all this breakthrough technology that Opti is abusing. But he’s also Peri’s love interest, and Peri seems to be 25 tops (or a super immature late 20s). So he’s not that old? Or maybe she has a thing for older men?
I also don’t understand Opti – there’s a corrupt faction? Or is it ALL corrupt? Because it clearly seems all corrupt - or the US government is just acting so badly that it makes the 1970s CIA look like the Red Cross in comparison. And is the US the only country with drafters? Wouldn’t we be in some kind of drafter arms race? Why isn’t there any government oversight of Opti whatsoever? Or even a task force once there’s acknowledgment that there’s corruption (because the McGuffin in this book is a list of corrupt Opti agents – which means that someone knows there’s corruption going on; plus Big Bad Opti leader Bill is tasked with rooting out the corruption).
It is also unclear WHAT the corrupt faction is getting out of its abuse of power. Money? Power? A plan to take over the world? For a while I thought it would turn out that the corrupt faction was being used by the Billion Under Thirty club that keeps getting mentioned. But it seems like Opti as a whole serves the interests of the Billion Under Thirty. So again I ask, what makes the corrupt Opti faction any different than Opti itself and what makes the corrupt want to be corrupt and not regular well-paid Opti agents?
The alliance is no better – what the hell is their goal anyway? And why are they mostly portrayed as histrionic divas? Fran, the head of alliance, does nothing but throw hissy fits and decides she hates Peri for no good reason – alliance continuously wants to wipe Peri clean or even take away her drafting abilities (which would make her unable to maintain long-term memories).
I also can't get a grasp on the world that Drafter is set in. This takes place 15 seconds in the future (2030), but the world has changed quite a bit. Some of the changes were neat ideas that are solid extrapolations of trends today - mannequins are holograms that can change depending on viewer's tastes and facial recognition cameras are everywhere, so some people wear extreme makeup/face paint to fool the facial recognition software. I'm not sure if these things will appear in 15 years, but they are interesting ideas. But the constant mention of "glass" technology confused me and was never explained - unless "glass" technology is a new competitor to Apple??
I have no interest in sticking around for the next volume. I didn't enjoy the plot or the world enough, and I didn't find the characters worth getting to know better. For being a thriller with pretty constant running and fighting, my attention kept wandering. ...more
An eerie little story that ties into the same world as The Bone Clocks. You don't have to read one to understand the other, but it would certainly helAn eerie little story that ties into the same world as The Bone Clocks. You don't have to read one to understand the other, but it would certainly help.
This is a twist on a haunted house story. Every nine years, a door appears in Slade Alley. Only some people can see this door, and going through is never a good idea. A young autistic boy, a cop, members of a paranormal society at the local university - all go through the door and find more than they expect on the other side.
Each chapter is set at the next nine-year interval and focuses on the new character that goes through the door in Slade Alley. Mitchell, as always, is incredibly talented at writing distinct and authentic voices for his characters. Each chapter makes the situation more clear and Mitchell also drops more and more information about the truth about Slade House and its inhabitants.
Although it's not his best work (I still think that's Cloud Atlas), it's creepy and compact and is perfect for curling up with on a dark and stormy night. ...more
I haven't listened to the Night Vale podcast. I tried, but I couldn't get into it. It felt too disjointed to me. I'm sure a plotline emerges, but notI haven't listened to the Night Vale podcast. I tried, but I couldn't get into it. It felt too disjointed to me. I'm sure a plotline emerges, but not in the time I listened.
But I wanted to try out the book, and I thought audio would be the best format, given that its main iteration is in an audio format. I'm glad I listened to it, because I feel I'd enjoy it much less if I had to read it.
Night Vale is a strange, strange town. The library is full of dangerous librarians. The City Council eats people. The used car lot is manned by used car salesmen who like to jump up on the cars and howl. A faceless old woman lurks about causing drama. A house has thoughts and musings. Angels officially don't exist, but three angels named Erica live with Old Woman Josie. Government officials spy on everyone. Plastic flamingos bend time and space. It's that kind of town.
The story follows Jackie, the 19-year old owner of the pawnshop who has refused to turn 20 for decades. She gets a piece of paper from the Man in the Tan Jacket that reads "King City." No matter what Jackie does, she can't get rid of the piece of paper and anytime she tries to write she can only write "King City." The story also follows Diane, a single mother of a shapeshifting teenage son. Diane's coworker Evan disappears and no one else remembers he ever existed. These two events are connected, and eventually Jackie and Diane team up to try to solve the newly mysterious events in their lives. All while navigating the everyday dangers of the town of Night Vale.
I wasn't really sure where this book was going in the beginning, but I ended up quite liking it. I enjoyed the comedic horror (a sadly underrepresented genre) and I became invested in finding out the solutions to the mysteries. It wasn't wildly funny to me, but I did chuckle here and there and found it nicely amusing.
Definitely get the audiobook version though....more