This is a fitting conclusion to this engaging, clever and well written series.
What fan of Tudor history doesn't love to play "what if..." with the li...moreThis is a fitting conclusion to this engaging, clever and well written series.
What fan of Tudor history doesn't love to play "what if..." with the lives of Henry VIII and his queens? Laura Andersen has created a living, breathing alternative England in which the "what if..." (a thriving son born to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn) cuts off the multiple wives and tragic consequences of much of Henry's latter reign.
I was a little disappointed with the book's slow start, especially after the jaw-dropping ending of the last book. But by the middle of the book, once complications had become sufficiently twisty and perils sufficiently dire, I couldn't stop turning pages. Because William is a Tudor king, after all, and one knows what a Tudor monarch does to those who cross him. Could these things really happen? Would William be the king we, with our historical perspective, know the real Henry VIII was? And would the world never know a Queen Elizabeth?
My only quibble -- and it's nagging at me -- and maybe I missed it -- is, why are the...moreBrutally beautiful. Aggressively truthful. Powerfully passionate.
My only quibble -- and it's nagging at me -- and maybe I missed it -- is, why are they "the liars" at the beginning? All the shorthand labels were so satisfying and real (the "littles" for all the other, younger children; "Summer 15" or "Summer 16" to let you know which year it was), but why "liars" for the narrator's special group? I feel like it was one of those things that the author wanted for the end so she made it happen from the beginning, reason be damned.
When teen readers of this book grow up, I hope they find their way to Chris Bohjalian and Brunonia Barry. This book is a youth-oriented version of their spectacular works.(less)
This is a 4.5 star book. It reminded me of Stephen King in the obvious ways -- something weird and tragic happening at a grand old hotel, the claustro...moreThis is a 4.5 star book. It reminded me of Stephen King in the obvious ways -- something weird and tragic happening at a grand old hotel, the claustrophic atmosphere of being snowed in at that hotel -- but also in the best way: the deep, intimate sense of KNOWING several unique, individual characters and their secrets. The characters are wonderfully ignorant of their own flaws, until they aren't. Wow. Such great writing.
I mean, this book is PERFECT for me. It's set in Victorian England, which, if you're not going to be set in the midd...moreI really wanted to love this book.
I mean, this book is PERFECT for me. It's set in Victorian England, which, if you're not going to be set in the middle ages, is the only other time worth being set in, besides the Regency. It takes place in Edinburgh, a city I am happy to say I've actually visited and loved, so I had the thrill of the familiar as well as the delight of the exotic. Plus, Celtic faery lore.
What's not to love?
I had a hard time identifying with the main character; that's on me. She is driven by forces that do not and probably would not motivate me, so it was really hard for me to get under her skin and live with her. Then there was the fact that I found several of the plot developments (which shall remain nameless) very predictable. Now, I am not the author's target audience, so these may be the very things that make this book popular with teens; I know that a certain amount of predictability was appealing when I was a teen. I also found one of the characters a little too otherworldly and beautiful to be taken seriously; I kept waiting for the main character -- otherwise an extremely practical and level-headed young woman -- to wake up and see through this person.
The writing was good overall, and I will probably pick up the second one when it comes out, if only to see what happens next.
Where language and math meet is where my head explodes.
That's this book.
Fortunately, the author has a funny, down-to-earth style that keeps me going e...moreWhere language and math meet is where my head explodes.
That's this book.
Fortunately, the author has a funny, down-to-earth style that keeps me going even when my eyes glaze over and start to roll back into my head. That has nothing to do with him; it's all me. He and I have a fundamental difference in wiring: he loves numbers and the things they can do. For him they sing. For me, they are instruments of torment and deceit.
Let me give you an example. Here's one from page 44 et seq., where he demonstrates that the sum of an infinite string of ones (1+1-1+1-1...) equals zero, except that it might also equal 1. Or maybe it's actually 1/2. You heard me, the sum of an infinite string of whole numbers is a fraction. And they say that numbers are immutable and true and solid, unlike MY stock in trade, words, with their shades of meaning and the ease with which they can be manipulated. HA!
But you cannot frighten me away so easily, sir!
This is a more challenging book than, say, Nate Silver's, because it gives you the method -- the math -- behind the theories. That should not scare you. It should dare you. Along the way, you'll be confused and befuddled, but you'll also laugh and be intrigued and remind yourself that the ways in which you think you know -- really KNOW -- the world are hopelessly flawed, and this guy can prove it. If nothing else, this book is endlessly valuable for that. (less)
I am taking this book in very slowly, like a cup of tea savored with a friend. The language is beautiful and needs to be enjoyed and absorbed.
I like...moreI am taking this book in very slowly, like a cup of tea savored with a friend. The language is beautiful and needs to be enjoyed and absorbed.
I like the fact that Anne Hathaway is neither a shrew abandoned nor a woman scorned (at least not so far) and Will and Anne are a couple deeply in love and trying to make this thing work. I also like the fact that this author has chosen to follow a straight-forward path from Stratford to London without any detours into speculative "Shakeshafte" the Catholic sympathizer-teacher territory. We're all so desperate to fill in the unknown contours of his life that we give it a shape it didn't necessarily have (or even need).
I really want to get to the end and see how it turns out -- I mean, I know how it turns out, but I want to see where the author ends it and how he gets there -- but I don't want to get there just yet. I'll take my time and sip it slowly. It's too lovely to rush.
I really can't believe I'm reading -- and enjoying -- this. I did this and HATED it for years when I was a divorce attorney. I guess part of my motiva...moreI really can't believe I'm reading -- and enjoying -- this. I did this and HATED it for years when I was a divorce attorney. I guess part of my motivation in reading it was to look for errors (and I have to say, there's only one that really sets my teeth on edge), but really, it had been very well reviewed and I think I wanted to see if Icould handle it, like seeing an old boyfriend again. And yes, I'm happy to say that I'm able to read this without getting sick to my stomach or feeling any of those old, awful feelings I used to get...
But none of this is going to contribute to a valuable review of the book.
I'm not sure who the target audience of this book is. Divorce lawyers and paralegals do this sh*t all day long and will not consider this any fun to read after hours. People who have been divorced will not want to go down that road again, and people who have never been divorced... well, why would you want to be a voyeur at that train wreck? If you've had even tangential experience with divorce -- a parent, a sibling, a friend -- you know what a nightmare it is and you know enough to stay away from it.
And yet, the book is getting great reviews and people are reading it. I read it. I'm just not sure why.
Obviously, the strong, well-defined central characters are a big part of that. And even though the entire thing is told in emails, letters, and court papers (make sure you read those published decisions!), the sense of place and time is very strong.
So overall, yeah, I'd recommend this, if you can stomach it. And know that no matter how bad this particular divorce and these particular divorce lawyers (Kahn!) seem, they are nothing compared to the reality. She toned it down because no one would believe the level of douchebaggery that really goes on.
You always knew that behind the pretty lives of the Bennet sisters, there was a lot of hard work. You just didn't want to think about it.
Well, Jo Bake...moreYou always knew that behind the pretty lives of the Bennet sisters, there was a lot of hard work. You just didn't want to think about it.
Well, Jo Baker did.
The lives of the servants were as hard as you thought they might be, and worse. And the people they served were rather selfishly unconcerned with those hardships.
If you read this to find out more about the intimate lives of the Bennets, you will be disappointed. They are minor, supporting characters. The action of this novel is centered belowstairs with the Hills and the housemaids. But that's fine: we've all read this story a hundred different times from the Bennets' perspective, and it was interesting to get a completely different look at that world (including the war with Napoleon).
Highly recommended for fans of P&P and also well worth the read as a well-written piece of historical fiction in and of itself.
I enjoyed the exotic setting of this novel, which reminded me of pre-Colonial India. One complaint directed at YA fiction is the lack of diversity and...moreI enjoyed the exotic setting of this novel, which reminded me of pre-Colonial India. One complaint directed at YA fiction is the lack of diversity and people of color; well, there were no blue eyes or pale skin to be found in this novel, and I found it delightful and intriguing to hear women praised for copper- or chocolate- or coffee-colored skin and eyes and hair.
This was more mystery than fantasy (with some sexual politics thrown in) -- all the magic died long ago, and the City of a Thousand Dolls refers to a place where girls, unwanted in a culture that permits only two children (and of course boys are preferred), are raised and trained for various adult duties. Some become healers or artisans; some become wives or mistresses. The women in charge of the City strive to place the girls into the appropriate Houses for their training, but the unpleasant fact remains that these girls have no choice. They would otherwise be dead; they live off charity; and at maturity, they will be sold off to masters or husbands... and their price will support the training of the next generation of girls.
As girls begin dying, main character Nisha investigates. The mystery kept me guessing without feeling manipulated.
I think where I had trouble was with some of the character development and description. The author had a habit of using similes, which began to grate on me after a while. Her big secret was so obvious to me (I guess that was part of the point) but it made me think less of her that she didn't seem to have an inkling; the line between blind and stupid got a little blurry (and she was smart in so many other ways!). I also had a hard time with her emotional struggles because they seemed to take such a long time to develop and crystallize. However, I did like how her relationships with young men were handled. They were realistic but also surprising.
This is an interesting twist on YA fantasy. I think Ms. Forster is a writer to watch. I will definitely keep an eye out for her next book! (less)
I'm trying to figure out how to review this book without spoiling it.
By now, I know Jaron so well that I'm onto his tricks, which I hope doesn't spoil...moreI'm trying to figure out how to review this book without spoiling it.
By now, I know Jaron so well that I'm onto his tricks, which I hope doesn't spoil anything for you. But I'm trying to say (without giving anything away) that this book isn't as much fun to read as the first as a result. I don't trust Jaron anymore. I'm always looking for the ace up his sleeve. And of course, there always is one.
Luckily for me as a reader, when I'm expecting the ace of hearts, Jaron pulls out the ace of spades. He can still surprise me.
Also, the most ringing endorsement I can give is that my son, who is very picky reader, has been waiting desperately for this book and devoured it in two days. He snatched it away from me several times so he could read it, and kept asking me "Where are you? What are you up to now?" as I read along behind him.
So I would give this book 5 stars for its target audience -- middle school to high school boys -- and 4 stars for anyone else who enjoys the genre. (less)