Not quite 5 stars because of 'you know what' near the end. Still, it was pretty epic. You can certainly see how JKR improved her writing so much since...moreNot quite 5 stars because of 'you know what' near the end. Still, it was pretty epic. You can certainly see how JKR improved her writing so much since the very begininng.(less)
The blurb has the right idea, in my opinion, take the opening line!:
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of J
...moreThe blurb has the right idea, in my opinion, take the opening line!:
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
There are no real spoilers here. Cal was born intersex, but raised as a girl, and later on transitioned to male. But as with most things, its the journey thats important here.
Cal is introduced to us as a middle-aged Greek-American male, living currently in germany. And the book every now and then shows us this 'present' pov. But in order to really tell his story Cal sends us right back into the past, beginning with his grandparents before they made the journey to America. Progressing through his parents story, up to his birth. This is a fairly impressive piece of story telling. And while at first I was a bit confused, believing I was getting a book about an intersex person in America, and instead finding myself reading a piece of historical fiction with all the drama and incest of a greek tragedy. But in the end the story is well worth it. And to Cal, this history is all part of him. The genetic mutation that caused his hermaphroditism, is carried through history and culture and family, and it's all an integral part of who he is. Just as much as his own childhood (which does get plenty of pagetime too). And it has to be said, the romance of his grandparents was quite a beautiful story in its own way.
There are a lot of metaphors within the book, a recurrance of images to do with change, and new beginnings; the silk worms, Cal's grandparents journey from greece to America, greek mythology etc. Some readers complain that the metaphors could be more used, but really how hard is it to see the meaning yourself, I don't want to have deeper meaning bashed in my face like I'm too stupid to look for it myself! I thought which Eugenides does a good job of gracefully bringing all the symbology together, without belabouring the point.
One point I've seen a few people make in their review is that Cal doesn't seem to spend a lot of time 'deciding' to change from female to male. Their complaint is that they wanted to see Cal's thought process, how he decided what he really was. But in my opinion, if you have to spend a lot of time deciding.. then its not really who you are. I think the point for Cal is precisely that he didn't have to decide, it just suddenly made sense. Anything after that is just the 'how' and not the 'why' of it.
A lot of people don't like a HFN (have fun now) ending, and prefer a more complete finish. But in this case, considering the scope of the book, anything else would have been a bit trite compared to whats gone before. In a certain way the 'past' portion of the book doesn't need its own ending, as we already have the 'present' portion of the book, even if we don't see what happens inbetween, we generally get the idea that it was business as usual.
I really enjoyed Middlesex. And I would very much recommend it, but as with most things, try not to have too many expectations, just go with the flow, it's well worth it.
Additional Info: If you find yourself curious about any of the intersex terms used in the novel, or, for example, you find yourself asking "But what does Cal actually look like Down There?". Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to ask these questions. And I highly recommend you check the following link to help satisfy your human curiosity.
Moll Flanders was originally written as though it were a memoir, although it is actually fiction. I think this was a habit of Defoe's, and a trend at...moreMoll Flanders was originally written as though it were a memoir, although it is actually fiction. I think this was a habit of Defoe's, and a trend at the time.
Moll is born into poverty, being the child of a convicted criminal, she was born in Newgate Prison and raised in a sort of poorhouse. But at a young age determined that she wanted to become a gentlewoman, her idea of such being that a gentlewoman is simply a woman that can look after herself. And Moll pretty much holds herselfs to this ideal throughout her life.
Many people find the young Moll amusing for her strange ideas, and she attracts a lot of attention, and fortunately for her ends up being taken into the home of a rich family. Thus getting her first taste at a fine life. Then when Moll grows up a little bit she attracts the attention of both of the sons of the household. The elder son seduces her and showers her with money, but never makes good on his promise to marry her. Instead Moll ends up marrying the younger brother, basically for lack of any other option rather than love. When he dies 5 years later, Moll doesn't take it too badly, but sorts out her money and possessions and sets off to find another man to keep her in the lifestyle she's now accustomed to. And her life basically continues on as a sort of series of fortunes and misfortunes, with Moll carrying on regardless, using only her goodlooks and quick thinking to support herself.
I can't say I truly enjoyed this novel, it was a little difficult to get into. Not so much the old language or spelling, but the manner of the telling. The book has a distinct lack of characterisation, and of conversation. Most people aren't even given names, not even her lovers and husbands. One is simply her 'lancashire husband'. Thats how she tells them apart. Not much of a description, and not much of a romance for some characters. But what Moll really does like to talk about is wealth and posessions. Every other page it seemed there was a tally of how much money she had in her pocket, or how much plate or linen she had, and what was it's value.
What was really striking about this novel, was the fact that it was written in 1722, by a man, about a woman who was at various times a prostitute and a thief. And yet it's not written in a negative light, it's not a censure upon women. As Moll says:
“I am giving an account of what was, not of what ought or ought not to be.”
In fact Moll is shown to be a fairly strong, independent, pragmatic and adaptable woman, with a certain amount of innate wit and cleverness. And her story shows an honest view of the very limited choices available to women in that age. On this.. I admit myself very impressed by Defoe.
Like I say, I didn't exactly enjoy this novel.. but I thought it was worth reading. Which may sound a bit wierd, but there is a difference between the two things. I didn't think it was particularly fun etc. But it was certainly worth the time and trouble to experience. (less)
Dragon Keeper is Robin Hobb's eleventh book set in the Realms of the Elderlings, and the first in a new story arc set immediately after the events in...moreDragon Keeper is Robin Hobb's eleventh book set in the Realms of the Elderlings, and the first in a new story arc set immediately after the events in her Liveship Traders trilogy, but focusing on new characters.
After hundreds of years, the last serpents have finally made their migration up the rainwilds river, and with the help of the rainwilders, and the dragon tintaglia, they make their cocoons for the winter. But the new dragons that hatch out in summer are deformed, slow-witted, and unable to fend for themselves. The rainwilders are unwilling to continue to care for the dragons, and the dragons themselves yearn after ancestral memories of an old elderling city. So a mutual decision is soon reached that the dragons should be escorted upriver in search of the city, Kelsingra.
The novel mainly follows the three main characters, Thymara, Alise and Leftrin.
Thymara is a rainwilder who was born deformed, with scales and claws, (and would have been abandoned at birth if not for her father). Thymara feels a great kinship for the dragons, and is one of the few with an innate ability to understand their speech.
Alise, is the plain and studious daughter of a Bingtown Trader, pushed into marriage for the sake of financial security, by her somewhat unaffectionate parents. Her only love in life is the study of dragons and elderlings, and her great desire is to study the newly hatched dragons in person.
Leftrin, is captain of a liveship, a barge named Tarman. Who is the only ship cabable of pushing further up the shallow acidic rainwilds river.
The novel is interspersed by a series of communications between the birdkeepers (postal service) at Bingtown and Trehaug, which tells a cute little story but nothing momentous, but sort of serves to mark out the passage of time, as the novel passes through several years of time jumping to major events in each main character's time.
The liveship traders is my favourite of Robin Hobb's series, so I loved returning to the same world to hear the continuation of the dragons' story. And I am so eager for more details on the elderlings. But Robin Hobb is so determined to keep them mysterious, we recieve a few tantalising glimpses through Alise's study's and the dragon's remembrances, but nothing wholy new. Robin Hobb is such a tease, I guess I'm just going to have to keep reading the series to find out more.
I did love all the new characters. Thymara especially is fascinating, because she has so much in common with the new dragons because of her deformities, but I'm not sure she even sees things that way yet. She's born into such a harsh society that outcasts their deformed children, and kills the worst of them at birth. And yet she's so young and naive at first, she hasn't properly questioned this regime yet. I enjoyed seeing her conceptions of things change slightly as she talks with the older rain wilds outcasts.
Apart from the elderlings, I'm also curious about Leftrin's liveship Tarman, as he seems different to all other liveships, not just that he's a barge, but he doesn't seem to have a figurehead, just painted eyes on the front of the ship. And I'm so curious as to whether he will still prove to be alive and sentinent in the manner of the other live ships.
There was also a little 'cameo' appearance of my favourites from the liveship series, Althea and Brashen Trell, and their liveship Paragon, which I won't spoil by relating, but it was so good to see them again, like old friends!
I thought the novel progressed a little slowly, and I'm a little bit frustrated by it. but then I have a history of being frustrated with Robin Hobb's novels, no matter how much I love them. Often feeling like I'm struggling to pull more detail out of the story than Hobb is willing to write into it. But I did really like it, and I'm glad I've got the next one ready to read soon. I think this will prove to be another great series.(less)
Elinor and Marianne Dashwood grew up in the family estate of Norwood, with their mother, father, and younger sister. When their father dies, the estat...moreElinor and Marianne Dashwood grew up in the family estate of Norwood, with their mother, father, and younger sister. When their father dies, the estate goes to their older half brother John, and his wife Fanny. Fanny makes sure they get very little money from John, and generally makes things difficult, so Mrs Dashwood and the 3 girls move away to a cottage near the estate of a friendly distant cousin Sir John Middleton. Sir John introduces them to many new people, including Colonel Brandon, a reserved gentleman who shows a fondness for Marianne. Elinor quietly mourns the loss of her relationship with Edward Ferrars (Fanny's brother), who she no longer hears from. And Marianne promptly falls head over heels for John Willoughby, the dashing young nephew of the middletons who is not quite a sensible choice in the end.
The book begins in typical Austen fashion, with a sort of quick recap of the story so far, then really begins just as the Dashwoods are moving away from Norwood. As such I never really felt Elinor's true feeling for Edward. It's all related as a past occurance, and between two somewhat shy characters it's hard to see any great feeling anyway. So that really doesn't have any great impact on where I hoped things were going for Elinor. Pride and Prejudice's Darcy and Elizabeth was subtle, but in it's own way momentous, not like this.
And Marianne is hard to like because she's fairly superficial.. not to say she's not intelligent, but she's not very sensible.. but then thats the point of the character. She's just difficult to relate to. I could see her attraction to Willoughby, but I couldn't agree with it, the Colonel was the more interesting prospect from the beginning.
The side characters are probably the most interesting in all this. Mrs Jennings is the mother-in-law of Sir John, she's a very friendly, and well-meaning person, but she says some really rude and socially unacceptable things sometimes. And Mr and Mrs Palmer are probably the most funny and entertaining. Mrs Palmer being the younger sister of Lady Middleton, is an extremely positive young lady, and Mr Palmer is really dour, and rude, but not in an unclever way. Their interactions were always funny to read. He never says anything well-meaning, but she takes it all as a joke. Probably the highlight of the book.
Overall, I think it was a fairly good read, but, not my favourite Austen. The main characters just didn't click with me. (less)
Presumably everyone here already knows what this one is about, consider how big the TV show is. Dexter is one of my absolute favourite TV shows. But I...morePresumably everyone here already knows what this one is about, consider how big the TV show is. Dexter is one of my absolute favourite TV shows. But I didn't decide to pick up the book 'til recently (after already having watched 6 seasons of the show). I wasn't in a hurry to read it, as most of the revewiers seem to be of the opinion that the books just aren't as good as the series. But I thought I'd fancy making my own opinion on it.
Spoiler note: my spoilers only apply if you HAVENT seen the tv series (season 1), if you HAVe seen it, feel free to read all...
Dexter works as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police department. He also happens to be a serial killer. But he follows a code given to him by his late father Harry (who was the only person ever to know Dexter's secret), which allows him to continue his secret life without getting caught, and the code also states that he only kills 'bad guys'. Basically he cleans up anyone that slips through the net of the judicial system.
In Darkly Dreaming Dexter the Miami police are investigating a series of particularly creepy murders. Dexter's sister Deborah really wants to be on the case, but is stuck on duty posing as a hooker. Deborah knows Dexter has a particularly good knack for figuring out homicide cases (but she never guesses why), So she gets Dexter to let her in on any of his 'hunches' so she can use the information to help her police career. Meanwhile Dexter gets the distinct impression that this particular killer is directing his crime scenes AT Dexter. It's a like a kind of creepy serial-killer love-notes that only Dexter can read. And he's not sure if he actually wants these cases solved.
If you've seen the tv show, it's basically the condensed plot of the first season. But there are notable differences. Dexter is a notably odd character, not that he isn't in the show, thats pretty much the appeal of him. And yet here, he's actually a little harder to relate to. He waxes poetic a lot, particularly about the moon, but only to himself. His outward character, whatever everyone else sees of him, is very easy-going and jovial, in fact he's always cracking jokes. But much too many smart-ass jokes. I mean really, maybe he'd do better fitting in if he just kept a bit quiet sometimes? But then I suppose its ridiculous of me to expect such a short novel to show many insights into a character that's I've seen be developed through 6 series of a television show. And of course Michael C Hall is such a phenomenal actor on the show, not suprising the original written character can't compete with him.
As I say, the book is fairly short compared to the series, there isn't much side plot to speak of. Dexter's relationship with his girlfriend Rita is included, and provides some interesting moments highlighting Dexter's strangeness of character. But it's only a brief part of a short novel.
(view spoiler)[There is absolutely no side plot with Deborah and Rudy. In fact there is no Rudy. The killer is aways a mysterious character until Dexter discovers his identity. Which kind of lessened the tension slightly. But presumably thats also to do with the fact I already knew that Rudy/Brian is Dexter's brother. Although an interesting point that cropped up is that in the novel Brian looks remarkably similar to Dexter (which causes complications the one time Brian is caught on security cameras), which is something they obviously didn't pull off in the series. (hide spoiler)]
I guess the main reason why I didn't really enjoy this novel is probably because I've seen the tv series, which kind of spoils the mystery. But now I'm pretty damn impressed with the production of the show, because they really have improved upon the novel so much. The show really is better than the book! But much kudos to Jeff Lindsay for the original concept, I'm sure it would have recieved 3 or 4 stars if I'd have read it first.
Don't think I'm going to bother reading the other novels. I don't have to, theres 2 more series of Dexter already in the contract! I can't wait. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is another of those books that is most commonly shelved as romance, but is actually a fantasy with some elements of romance in the story. I had t...moreThis is another of those books that is most commonly shelved as romance, but is actually a fantasy with some elements of romance in the story. I had this wrongly shelved as paranormal romance, which I guess I had picked up from other peoples labels and reviews. But as soon as I read the blurb in the shop, it was clear what it was actually about. which just shows you, don't judge a book by it's cover.
Yelena is a prisoner about to be executed for murder. But the Commander needs a new poison taster, and the law is that the job must be offered to one that is about to be killed. And so Valek, the Commanders adviser and spy-master, offers Yelena the position, and she accepts. Valek begins her training by feeding her the poison 'Butterfly Dust', for which she must then recieve an andidote every morning for the rest of her life. Thus securing her loyalty. Yelena's job puts her right in the middle of all the political intrigue, And if Yelena's job weren't dangerous enough, she begins to discover she may have magic abilities, in a country where magic is outlawed and punishable by death. All the while being haunted by traumatic memories of the past.
I thought the setting was very unusual for a fantasy novel, Ixia is a country that has recently been overtaken by a military regime. Each area of Ixia is ruled by a general, and all citizens wear uniforms and must carry paperwork. It's a tiny bit orwellian, But this is all still in a fantasy setting, which is a strange, but interesting new twist for the genre.
I'm fairly sure the book was supposed to be Young-Adult, but after reading it I'm not actually sure what age range I would recommend it for. Parts of the plot were a little easy reading to me, something that I could happily have read when I was 10-12 and in my 'point fantasy' stage. But then some parts, particularly the flash back scenes, would require much more emotional maturity.
The one mistake that I think the author made, was using certain items from real life in her fantasy setting. It wouldn't really have mattered, except one particular item was pivotal to the plot, and was supposed to be a mystery to the protagonist, but since it was taken directly from real life, and not invented for the fantasy setting.. it was no mystery to me as a reader, which was a bit of a let down.
Despite that one problem, and despite it being a young adult novel (which I don't often read), I think I'm definately going to continue to read the rest of the trilogy. Good thing too, since I already bought all 3 books together.
In the seven kingdoms, a rare few people are born with a 'Grace'. A random special ability, that can be skill in combat, a magical touch with cooking,...moreIn the seven kingdoms, a rare few people are born with a 'Grace'. A random special ability, that can be skill in combat, a magical touch with cooking, mind-reading, etc. It's always easy to tell who is Graced, as from a young age when the grace sets in, that person always have two different coloured eyes.
Katsa is a young woman who is graced with killing. She's feared by many, and her ability is exploited by her uncle, the King of Middlun, who uses her to do all his dirty work. Katsa has a few close friends, the spy master Oll, a young lordling Giddon, and her cousin prince Raffin. Together they created the council of kingdoms; a secret vigilante group that go righting wrongs in the seven kingdoms.
We meet Katsa on her latest mission for the council, rescuing the kidnapped princ Tealiff, father to the current king of Lienid. During her rescue of Tealiff, Katsa crosses paths with Prince Po, his grandson, who is also Graced with fighting skill. At first they don't get along, but soon they have to work together to discover the real reason behind the kidnapping.
I was pleasantly suprised by this book, I wasn't expected to like it as much as I did. I'm not always keen on Young Adult novels, although I'm giving them more of a go these days. But this has to be one of the more passable YA I've read. At first the names are a great offput (I mean really? Prince Po?! - Thats the german word for 'bum' by the way - What was the author thinking?!), and the strong invincible super-powered, yet exploited and opressed young lady who yearns to be independent and never marry.. well that threatened to be a bit cliche, but the character was actually quite likeable in the end. I still think she had too much power, but at least she had weaknesses that the author wasn't afraid to show, and she wasn't entirely self-centred and shallow like some YA heroines.
She did have a little too much opression forced on her for realism tho. The way I see it, the Uncle should have been Either exploiting her for her abilities, OR trying to marry her off, but not both. Surely he loses control over her if she's married? Pick one method of opression for the heroin, but not both please. Other than that and the names, I have few real complaints.
At least one of the bad-guys was an interesting character, well, we didn't see a lot of his personality and motivations, he was clearly a bad guy, but his abilities were certainly interesting. It could have been more interesting to see him have more page time though, I would have liked to have known what his motivations were and whether he really thought he was doing wrong or not, but then, it might have got moe creepy and non YA suitable if the creepy bad guy were actually allowed to do and say more, hah.
I wished also that some of the other character had been padded out a bit more, Raffin and Giddon particularly, I didn't feel that they had enough personality separate from their interactions with Katsa. But I can't complain too much, then it wouldn't have been such a quick and easy read.
I wouldn't highly recommend it, but if you particularly like YA fantasy, then it's actually not bad.(less)