The buzz around this title interested me. I've never really been a reader of 'universe' titles/superhero comics. This has a premise that interested me...moreThe buzz around this title interested me. I've never really been a reader of 'universe' titles/superhero comics. This has a premise that interested me though and it's a good jumping on point, so I gave it a go. It's a good first issue, a snappy intro with plenty of well written dialogue that makes me want to continue reading the title. So it's done its job there then. I was a little confused as to what exactly was going on when she had her transformation, but maybe that's the point and we'll learn more about this in future issues? The artwork is simply divine, which is always an important thing. If I don't like the art, it lessens the enjoyment for me.(less)
I didn't actually mean to stay up late reading this until I finished it, it just sort of happened. As these things do. I was a little surprised when I...moreI didn't actually mean to stay up late reading this until I finished it, it just sort of happened. As these things do. I was a little surprised when I got to the end; a little bit 'Wait, that's it? That's the end?'. It's not that it's a bad ending, more just that I was a little surprised that it'd crept up on me - but I guess that's what happens when you're sleepily reading at 3.30am.
After the brain-breaker that was number9dream (and with the similarly break-breaking The Westing Game on the side), I felt I needed something simpler and straightforward to read next. There's a lot to be said for a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin book. And this is that. It's a ya romance, as it looks, but it's equally a rather lovely exploration of family relationships which balanced things out nicely and keeps it from being too sappy. Everything plays out as you'd expect it to, there's no surprises here. Even the 'twist' really isn't because you can see it coming miles away. That's not a bad thing though, and it's rather nicely written too, which puts it a notch above something that easily could've been average. I particularly enjoyed the English/American differences that were accurately, and humourously, written. It was what it was, and what it was was what I needed to read at the moment and I enjoyed it for being that.
My digital copy came with a preview of Jennifer E. Smith's next book, The Geography of You and Me, at the end. I only read the intro, not even the first chapter that's actually included, and I was off to request it on NetGalley. Always a good sign.(less)
This is a great book, that I may never even have come across if it hadn't been for Mark Reads. So I'm grateful for that. Some things I managed to figu...moreThis is a great book, that I may never even have come across if it hadn't been for Mark Reads. So I'm grateful for that. Some things I managed to figure out, others I didn't ((view spoiler)['America the Beautiful', for instance. Not being American it wasn't something familiar enough to me to get. (hide spoiler)]).
This is the kind of book that you can never just read once. I'm going to have to read it again at some point, because I just know I'm going to get so much more out of it now that I know how it all plays out. Which is why this is only 4 stars and not 5, because I suspect the reread will be even more enjoyable so I'm saving that one for later.
Finally, JKR should have taken note of this book, because if you're going to do a (view spoiler)['and this is how everyones' lives played out' ending (hide spoiler)], then this is how you do it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The first chapter didn't grab me. It just made me wonder what on earth I was reading - listening to other people tell you their dreams is (usually) ve...moreThe first chapter didn't grab me. It just made me wonder what on earth I was reading - listening to other people tell you their dreams is (usually) very boring, and this seemed to be veering into that territory. Weird, pointless, bit boring, and not even polite enough to be funny. It took quite a while to move past that and start the second chapter. I basically spent last night and today reading this book - I went from 37% yesterday, to 48% this morning, to finishing it 2 minutes before midnight. Which I felt I had to do, because it's the book that was chosen for my bookgroup read and our next meeting is tomorrow eve. It wasn't an easy task, but I had nothing else to do today. It's not the kind of book that I wanted to carry on reading; it's not the kind of book that sucks me in and makes me read all night and forget to sleep. No, it's not that at all. I was happy to be distracted for periods of time while reading this. I honestly thought about skipping the Goatwriter sections at one point, but I didn't (well done me).
There were a few sentences, and the occasional paragraph, in this book that I really liked but I felt like I was trudging through tar to get to them. Sorry David Mitchell fans, but this really did a whole lot of nothing for me. The only bits I properly enjoyed were the parts between Eiji and Ai. Their developing relationship through the book was lovely, as was Eiji's parallel, but opposite, relationships with his mother and father. Actually, all the relationships are well done, it's all the crap that goes alongside them that was tedious to me. If I took a cleaver to this book, chopped it up, threw out the fat, and then put it back together again then I might end up with something I'd enjoy more.
Let's not even talk about that ending. I was just happy it ended really. Uch. It might be a while before I try David Mitchell again.(less)
So: * If you're in your late teens, or early twenties, you could read this as inspiration and a bit of a how-to guide for travelling the world (the aut...moreSo: * If you're in your late teens, or early twenties, you could read this as inspiration and a bit of a how-to guide for travelling the world (the author does have really excellent 'rules' for travelling). * If you're in your mid-twenties to early thirties and haven't had similar adventures this might inspire you to set off and have a few of your own. * If you're in your mid-twenties to late thirties and have had similar adventures you can nod knowingly and feel a sense of shared experience. * If you're in your mid-to-late thirties and have never done anything like this in your life, it might get a bit depressing. Depending on what you've done with your life that is. You may be happy with all your choices, and even though they may be different and you've never left your own country, you're happy and that's all good. If not though, the book may be a little challenging for you.
You have to read this book for what it is. Yes, she's privileged and thus has the opportunity to fly around and experience the world in ways others can't. That's fine, her prerogative. The other aspect of this travel book is her international sexcapades. Which, again, is fine but don't expect this book to be deeply culturally insightful, or deeply spiritual, and if reading about one lady's sexual exploits doesn't sound like your thing then maybe it's not for you (but do try it anyway, you might be surprised). But, having said that, the book is not without any depth. You can read the author maturing and 'growing up' each time she takes a trip. The human connections that she experiences in different places are formative, and if she hadn't had this particular personal journey then would she be where she is today? Who knows...
I started out being a bit beaten down by this book - 'oh great, you've had lovely and interesting adventures all over the world and now you're rubbing my face in it, thanks' - but I quickly moved on from that. The writing has a lightness and charm to it, so it's immensely readable which kept me coming back to it and moving quickly through it. By the end, I realised that actually this book is a brilliant demonstration of the fact that people move through life at different paces and that one shouldn't feel pressured by people telling you what you should be doing when, or feeling like you should be doing something just because everyone else your age is. As Mama Cass said, 'make your own kind of music', and do things in your time and when you're ready for them.(less)
This book is amazing, but hard to read. As Mark Oshiro pointed out - how did anyone read this book as a child and not be utterly destroyed by it?!? Th...moreThis book is amazing, but hard to read. As Mark Oshiro pointed out - how did anyone read this book as a child and not be utterly destroyed by it?!? This is how it goes: 'Here's a nice thing, NOW LET ME RUIN IT. Muhahahahaha.' And repeat.
I remember seeing the film that bears the same name as this book when it came out. I remember enjoying it in a light-hearted way. I actually borrowed the book from my cousin (the one with the Anne Hathaway tie-in cover), but didn't get around to reading it and ended up having to return it. So I'm glad it became one of the Mark Reads books and I've finally got around to read it. I can now see why people say that the film is terrible. Because, yeah, when you consider it as an adaptation of this book, it's pretty shocking.
There's a bit, near the end, where letters are exchanged. It's an amazing chapter, but got me extra emotional because it reminded me of a time when I had some wonderful email exchanges with someone that's now a sad thing to think about. Damnit, I want someone to write to me like that again. Sigh.
So my friend set up a book group at the end of last year, so I'm now part of a real-world, actual in-person book group - rather than various online on...moreSo my friend set up a book group at the end of last year, so I'm now part of a real-world, actual in-person book group - rather than various online ones that I've tried and found unsatisfying. This was our first pick (selection process is made by everyone putting a choice into a hat and then one being picked out).
Historical fiction is a new area for me really, and I'm not sure this was the best book to start with. There are many things good and interesting about the book, but it didn't click for me. I'm not sure if I'd just rather read a non-fiction book about the person, or subject, rather than a fictionalised work. However, I understand that a written history can also be biased, inaccurate, or one-sided (sounds like Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China might be an example) and often historical information is very much 'who knows?' anyway, so at least a fictionalised account is knowingly presenting you with a hypothetical.
I think my main problem with this came not from it being historical fiction, but with the way it was written. The way that a few things were Anglicised (e.g. her name, Orchid) and yet the majority wasn't seem very odd to me. I like consistency. Sometimes I also felt that things were just going no where. There'd be large chunks where I just felt like nothing was happening and it was all just descriptions of opulence. Which is fine, and they were very interesting (as were the descriptions of all the ceremonial and superstitious aspects of life in The Forbidden City), but without balance they get a bit much.
The depiction of Chinese history from a non-Western viewpoint was very interesting and, from about half-way in, the growing feeling of the 'barbarians' closing in around you and China diminishing and growing smaller was very well done. The depiction of Chinese culture, which I know little about, was also very interesting. However, the story overall didn't do a lot for me which is why it's merely 'ok'. And what on earth was that ending? Was it meant to be romantic? It was just confusing. What on earth was An-te-hai up to with his coat? I don't understand that at all. I just can't quite push it over to three stars.
I may well read the follow-up to this at some point, to read about her later life. I'll certainly be doing a bit of research into the Dowager Empress regardless. An interesting person, so that book has at least introduced me to her. I'll be interested to read some more historical fiction in future, I've got my eye on HHhH, which has been highly recommended to me.(less)
The story is still 5-star amazing, and I love it, but the reason this gets 4 stars is because I prefer Chris Riddell's illustrations in the UK edition...moreThe story is still 5-star amazing, and I love it, but the reason this gets 4 stars is because I prefer Chris Riddell's illustrations in the UK edition. Skottie Young is an amazing artist, but I feel that Chris' illustrations are more suited to the book. Still, I love the story so much that I had to own both editions, of course!(less)
Massive step up from previous books. Not quite enough for me to say I really liked it and bump it to four stars, but I solidly enjoyed it and that's l...moreMassive step up from previous books. Not quite enough for me to say I really liked it and bump it to four stars, but I solidly enjoyed it and that's largely because it's a step up in the writing. I find this often happens when you read an author's works in order, you can watch the writing grow and improve as the author continues to learn and hone the craft. It's a really enjoyable thing to experience.
There are some brilliant, thoughtful sections in this book and I think that's what makes it interesting. I'm not really so interested in the whodunit, or working out the puzzle, but sections like the reflection on morality in chapter 13 are great. The themes of slavery and forced prostitution are done well in this book, they never felt to me like 'Now I'm exploring this hot topic in this book, having previously covered...', and they never felt crass or judgemental. Well handled. Plus, total sympathy with the murderer at the end, which is an interesting and different finish.
Another reason that the books gradually get more interesting is the gradual development of all the central characters. The progression of Elettra was particularly good. I liked her when she was introduced in the previous book, she's an interesting character, and the introduction of early internet and her use of it in this book was great. A real point in history, almost casually captured, and rather entertaining now (though I'm sure it wasn't meant to be in '95, in fact it probably was a bit 'hot topic' then!). Chiara is another great character (and Paola is getting better written too); it'll be interesting to see if there's any lasting effects for her after events in this book.
I've got the next two books from the library to read too (you reserve a book through the library system and there's no telling how long it'll take to turn up - this one took ages, then the other two followed very quickly behind it!), and I'm actually looking forward to them now.(less)
I enjoyed this more than the previous two. The plot seemed tighter and more engaging, certainly more exciting in places. It was also less confused tha...moreI enjoyed this more than the previous two. The plot seemed tighter and more engaging, certainly more exciting in places. It was also less confused than the 2nd book (which, honestly, I couldn't summarise clearly for you now and I only read it a couple of months ago). I'm more familiar with the principal characters now and so it's more interesting and engaging as gradually more and more of Brunetti's life and colleagues are fleshed out. I think reading Donna Leon's essay 'Suggestions on Writing the Crime Novel' helped too - it is what it is, and thus you must enjoy it for what it is. And for what it is, it's fairly entertaining. I think I've come to the conclusion that the mystery/crime novel is not My Thing necessarily, but I think I'll continue to pick the books in this series up from time to time.(less)
When I realised there was a 2nd one of these, I got it straight away. Just read it now while I waited for my old tumble drier to be collected by a cha...moreWhen I realised there was a 2nd one of these, I got it straight away. Just read it now while I waited for my old tumble drier to be collected by a chap from freecycle. He came, got the tumble drier and then I finished it off. A good, entertaining way to spend a rainy Saturday! Some of the things that are in here will make you boggle. The stuff from kids is the best, though I don't really feel it can be counted as 'weird' like the stuff that's in here from adults. Would be nice to have a whole book of 'things kids say in bookshops'! (less)