High Fidelity is one of my Top 5 All-time favourite movies.
(And not only because it's a Cusack movie).
Strange then, that I didn't realise for a few yHigh Fidelity is one of my Top 5 All-time favourite movies.
(And not only because it's a Cusack movie).
Strange then, that I didn't realise for a few years that it was based on a book, and embarassing that I didn't realise, 'til I picked it up, this year, that it was a British book. Shame on me.
Rob Flemming is a 30something Record store owner, whose life has hit a bit of a rut. He spends his working day (in a store which has very few customers), hanging out with his social misfit employees, making up Top 5 lists about records. Then he gets ditched by his girlfriend Laura. At first he's feeling pretty freed by it, back to his batchelor ways, doing whatever he likes; playing his records up loud. But soon he's depressed again. He makes his 'Top 5 breakup' list, and goes back to revisit each ex-gf to find out what it all means, why is he doomed to fall in love and be dumped repeatedly. Through it all he's constantly trying to win back Laura from the hated hippy Ray.
I know at first glance, a book like this can seem somewhat shallow in premise, but it's hidden gem like that.
And it's hard to think that a book about a 30something depressed bloke born 15/20? years before me.. could be relevent to me, but I constantly find it totally relevent, maybe that says something about me, or maybe it's just an awesome book.
I love the first person narritive in this book. Rob's point of view interspersed with 'Top 5' lists, flash backs, reminiscing, little anecdotes and ponderings. And his internal voice is just so perfect, he's clearly a flawed character, but that's what makes the realism. These little bits like; describing the way Laura got stuck in the door on the way out, and he had to faff around - no dramatic cliches, it's just real and honest. I also love the unsure, questioning way he likes to make semi-profound statements about the way things are, but then turn back on it at the end of the statement.
See, Laura? You won't change everything around like Jackie could. It's happened too many times, to both of us; we'll just go back to the friends and the pubs and the life we had before, and leave it at that, and nobody will notice the diffecence, probably.
I think the best thing for me, about this book. Is that it's a great break from reading (as I so often do) hundreds of fantasy romances, where the 36 year old single woman finally meets the handsome rich vampire of her dreams and everything is magical and perfect.. well this book is for everyone who is depressed, and hates their life, wishes they worked somewhere else, wishes they were with someone else, but knows there is nothing magic about to happen to save them from it. It's about reflecting on your life and realising that if you're always wishing for a fantasy, if you're always wishing for the all-time number 1 life of your dreams, you might miss that you're ACTUALLY perfectly happy where you are with plain old (but really just as nice) number 5 on your top 5 list.
So.. how well did this book translate from book to screen? Well the movie removed some of the more uninteresting scenes, changed Rob's last name, and moved the setting from London to Chicago. In order to change it to an American setting, very little was messed with. Simply switch every intstance of the word 'Bollocks' for the word 'Bullshit', make Marie deSalle black (because being american in america doesn't make her unusual anymore), and change a few of the place names and a couple of the song references. But as far as I'm concerned the translation from book to movie was still near perfect. Am I biased because I watched the movie first? Possibly. But if you watched the movie and never read the book, I will still respect you in the morning.
When I review one of my rare 5 star books, I know I can never do them justice. I can't write a perfect synopsis, I can't pick a perfect quote, I can't even spell perfectly. But maybe since this is a novel about not being being perfect, maybe that's okay. All I can say is, I loved this book. ...more
Noticed this has been shelved several times as 'Romance' and even as 'erotica', but I think its important to note that there is a difference between bNoticed this has been shelved several times as 'Romance' and even as 'erotica', but I think its important to note that there is a difference between books which are actually Romance, but contain fantasy elements; and books which are Fantasy but contain some romance. I'd say this book definately falls into the latter category. Certainly some parts are somewhat graphic on the bdsm parts, but thats where it's important for plot and character, a lot of 'encounters' were suprisingly of the tasteful fade-to-black sort.
Phedre is a girl, born and raised among courtesans. Unfortunately Phedre is considered flawed, a single red mote in one eye spoils her appearance, and leaves her unwanted. This is until Anafiel Delaunay sees her and recognises the mote for what it is - Kushiel's dart - a rare mark bestowed by one of their patron angels, both a blessing and a curse. Delaunay takes Phedre into his household, and gives her an education beyond that of any other courtesan. At first it's confusing to Phedre, who doesn't understand what need she'd have of languages and history etc, but Delaunay insist she also learn the more useful skills of observation and deduction.. skills more appropriate for a spy than a courtesan. Delaunay can do his best to keep Phedre safe, but ultimately they must use all resources as the political plots go ever deeper.. murder, treason, war..
The story takes a fair while to get truly started; the novel follows Phedre's story from birth and through her childhood. But despite the long set up, it was never boring, in fact, it's a good method for world building. As Phedre speaks about the various night courts, and learns the myths and histories of her home country, we learn too, and the world has quite a fascinating background.
The Author has chosen to base her mythology on jewish and christian beliefs, the brief story is that at the crucifiction of J-sus, His blood mixed with the magdalenes tears, and out of the earth sprang Elua, who was a sort of mortal deity. He had a minor disagreement with the jewish/christian G-d and departed amicably taking several angels with him. They then founded a civilisation in a place called Terre D'Ange (geographically it seems to be france!). From a christian point of view, I actually found it an interestinc concept, to see a fantasy mythology based on something which I consider to be fact.. this made me think more seriously about all the times I've read fantasy stories based on norse or greek mythology! I have no criticism of the way it was done, there seems no disrespect in it from the author's point of view, and it makes for a new and innovative fantasy setting.
One of the most unusual things about the setting is the fact that their culture respects and revere prostitutes, in fact to be a courtesan is this society is an act of devotion to one of their patron angels. Theres also a high amount of acceptance for gay relationships, and their one tenet of faith is the phrase 'love as thou wilt'.
Overall I thought the book was absolutely brilliant, it's been a long time since I came across a fantasy series to rival my all time favourites but I could happily shelve this alongside my beloved George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan and Elizabeth Haydon. The background was epic, the description was inspiring, and the characterisation was practically flawless. Just the right amount of sympathy for the heros/heroines and just the right amount of love and hate for the 'villains'. I really hope the rest of the series live up to the same standard!
I'd probably recommend it for anyone who like most kinds of fantasy, although.. it's hard to compare to other types of fantasy, but I'd say out of my own limited experience it's closer to Elizabeth Haydon than anything else.
Just the other day, I discovered an astonishing fact: Scott Lynch keeps a Live Journal.
This is just not possible.
Scott Lynch is not a mere mortal liJust the other day, I discovered an astonishing fact: Scott Lynch keeps a Live Journal.
This is just not possible.
Scott Lynch is not a mere mortal like you and I. He should not keep a blog. He should not be seen at conventions. He should not have relationships with other writers. He should not live anywhere mundane and earthly like Winsconsin.
Scott Lynch is not a man, he's a legend. His books are not written by mortal hands. They are written with unicorn hair quils, inked with dragons blood, suffused with the breath of elves, carried to us by the hands of angels, who float on sunbeams drifting across the universe to us from far distant galaxies.
Thats why they take so bloody long to arrive.
The plot: The city of Camorr is a fantasy city reminiscent of a mediaeval venice. Composed of several islands and networked with canals; from the filthy squalor of the slums to the shining spires of elderglass. Street thieves, pickpockets, gangs, merchants, priests, alchemists and nobles all packed into one interesting city. Locke Lamora and his group of gentlemen bastards began as thieves, but were taught to be something better and brighter. Now they spend their time conning noblemen out of their riches, and conning Capa Barsavi into thinking they're still just honest street thieves. Locke and gang are in the middle of their biggest, most elaborate con job yet, when the elusive Grey King decides to use them in his own nefarious games.
Thoughts: Locke is one of the best anti-heroes I've read. He has a wit to rival that of Tyrion Lannister. And his ability to plan so intricately and meticulously, with every contingency prepared for, and with twists upon twists, is just awe-inspiringly beautiful. The lure of the character is that even the omniscient reader doesn't know what Locke ultimately has planned until it all unfolds, and he does it with such a hillarious sarcastic wit too. But don't worry, Locke is saved from the terrible fate of becoming a Gary Stu, by being remarkably not at all tall or handsome or strong. And by the fact then when he does get foiled in his plans, things have a tendency to go horribly messily wrong.
The story is told in a really interesting manner, as an alternating series of flashback episodes (Locke's childhood learning his trade as a con-artist) and 'present day' episodes (The gentlemen bastards current con job). At first I was inclined to be a bit frustrated by this, as each part ended just as it was getting really interesting and flicked to the alternate time. But the brilliance of this soon becomes clear because each flashback links directly to the next 'current day' episode, for example, showing how locke learnt a particular trick of the trade that will shortly be useful in the present con-job.
The Lies of Locke Lamora also contains one of my absolute favourite fantasy tropes; that of the ancient but long-lost, highly advanced civilisation which has left behind some mark upon the world, but on which very little is known. In the world of Gentlemen Bastards there are structures made of elderglass, a magical, beautiful and super-strong glass; including impossible tall towers. The citizens happily make use of elderglass, and some claim to understand the properties, but yet no one knows how it is made and who made it. Did I mention I love this device in fantasy novels? As if Locke's fantastic personality were not already enough to keep me reading, the mystery of the elderglass and it's alien origins is sure to keep me begging for sequels.
In summary: I loved, loved, loved this novel. It was just all shades of fantastic. Highly recommended to any fantasy lover.
This particular cover had on it a shining recommendation from George R.R. Martin himself, so that should tell you particularly how good it is. Because everyone knows that GRRM's books come from another Galaxy too. If you're a fan of Tyrion Lannister - you're probably going to like Locke Lamora too! ...more
Several years ago, there was a devastating war between Humans and The Others (magical creatures such as vampires, werewolves and demons). The war, nicSeveral years ago, there was a devastating war between Humans and The Others (magical creatures such as vampires, werewolves and demons). The war, nicknamed the 'voodoo wars', left the world riddled with magical 'bad spots', where black magic thrives, and everything is wrong. There is an uneasy tension left behind, the vampires may have been defeated, but they're clearly gaining power again, many recent suspected vampire kils leads to a nervous populace. The SOF (Special Other Forces), is a sort of police division which keeps the populace safe from the Others.
Rae "Sunshine" Seddon, is a young woman working as a pastry chef, in her step-father's coffe shop. Her real father was a powerful wizard, who disappeared along with the rest of the magical humans after the voodoo wars. Sunshine is kidnapped by a group of vampires (ruled by a vampire named Bo), and held captive in a room where they are keeping a vampire named Constantine, whom they have been starving, and they hope to taunt him by keeping them together. Sunshine thwarts their plans by drawing on her long unused powers, that enable her to draw on sunlight. And using transfiguration spells taught to her as a child by her magical grandmother, she effects an escape for both herself and Constantine. Aiding Constantine, throws her into the conflict against Bo, whether she wants it or not.
I have to admit, this novel drove me absolutely crazy, but in a very good way. Since the first time I read it, I have gone back to it several times, re-reading favourite bits, and at least one full re-read. We're still waiting for a sequel (that may possibly never come), and I'm not very patient at my waiting. I just can't get over how much I loved this book.
Some people, I've heard, don't actually like Sunshine, the POV char. Or they don't like Robin McKinley's characterisation of her, which is down to McKinley's writing style; first person POV characters that have a tendency to let their thoughts run away with them, causing the plot to be held suspended for long segments while we listen to the character reminiscing or pontificating. But really, I was practically in love with Sunshine, and I loved hearing her random thoughts and speculations, and about her day job; baking endless reams of delicious cinammon rolls. I thought these little tangents broke up the novel perfectly, and made Sunshine into such a real and beautiful character!
Constantine was such a curious character, and the mystery that still surrounds him is probabyl the main reason why I'm so frustrated at the lack of a sequel. It is implied that Con is different from most other vampires, he doesn't seem to feed on humans (hence the taunting by imprisoning them both together), and he can walk under moonlight. But these things are never explicitly revealed or explained, and Constantine remains a total mystery. A frustratingly dark yet awesome mystery.
Sunshine's magical ability of being able to draw on Sunlight for her powers, is just absolutely uniquely awesome. I have never heard of this being done before, and it is amazingly well executed, in fact the entire system of magic is fascinating, and beautifully described, I could certainly stand to hear more on this system of magic. There is an interesting concept of powers alowing a sort of reversal of their actions, which I have not really come across before either. For example, a magic user with fire powers, would be able to counter-act fire due to his affinity with it, meaning he makes a very good fireman, as fire cannot harm him. Which leads to the absolutely amazing way that Sunshines power can be used to aid Constantine!
As for the *ahem* sexual content, yes it's labeled as romance, I guess I can accept that. But there is probably all of about 2 paragraphs of explicit content in the whole book. It's really not a big deal, and I'd feel completely comfortable recommending the book to someone who doesn't read romance. The tension is there if you want it, but it's not everything, it's the characters and the plot that stand at the forefront. In fact I believe many people who are avid readers of paranormal romance have slammed the book for not being what they expected. And me? I found it quite frustrating, (I think I keep saying that), but I cannot hate it because of that, I will just sit here and angst over the fact that there is no sequel (I think I said that a few times too..).
So yeah, I loved this book. And I loved Sunshine. I'd probably marry her if I could. And I'd recommend it to everyone. Just know what you're getting into, be open-minded about it.. it's not a twilight clone, and its not a typical PNR.. it's very Unique....more