i should probably preface this with: i don't love science fiction.
mostly because i'm paranoid and sometimes worry that it's a subtle way of preparingi should probably preface this with: i don't love science fiction.
mostly because i'm paranoid and sometimes worry that it's a subtle way of preparing us for the future dystopia that will probably attempt to eradicate the human race as we know.
that's why the aliens in the book look like us, RIGHT??? because we're the ones who are mostly likely to erase ourselves from the earth.
but then i try to calm down and remind myself IT IS JUST A BOOK. because that's the saner thing to do.
honestly, my biggest problem with this book had little to do with science fiction (although, and admittedly i have a weak body of comparison, the "science" here felt of vague and flimsy...like JUST GO WITH IT, TEENS, JUST GO WITH IT! instead of the martian where you get the impression that the science is so detailed and accurate that you, too, could survive on mars.
my biggest problem, however, was the character of cassie and what i'll call "the wally lamb effect." several years back, wally lamb wrote this book called she's come undone which is one of the first adult encounters i had with a male author writing a first-person female narrator (i'm sure i had other instances of it, but it is one of the clearest memories i have as an "adult reader" with the concept). it reminded me of the scene in "as good as it gets" where jack nicholson's character describes writing females ("i think of a man and then i take away reason and accountability")...and here, yancey has a bit of the same trouble.
first off, i get that she's a teenaged girl, and probably very lonely, but i don't care how lonely you are, most women don't find themselves longingly commenting on their would-be killer's bottom quite so much (particularly after figuring out what the killer is). and while i appreciate the plight of the protagonist in regards of hoarding her post-alien-apocalyptic tampon supply, ultimately she just didn't feel authentically female to me. she spends a great deal of her narrative bemoaning the loss of her beloved crush ben parish (until she finds ben, of course) or ogling her captor-boyfriend's goodies, even though she suspects he's a silencer. it's very edward and bella and jacob...if jacob had no clue that bella existed and edward was a pure-consciousness alien inhabiting a hot teen male bod.
that sort of bummed me out. the narrative where ben talks was much more effective for me because he spent much less time bemoaning his teen angst (sure, he gets his own crush - BECAUSE FOILING - but he doesn't turn into a simpering and stupid lovelorn puppy who wants to kiss death...the army turns him into that, i suppose, to some degree, but that's more mind control than anything else). i worry for the next installment should evan return and cassie have to choose between the boy who doesn't know she exists and the boy who would stalk her to the end of the earth.
it's gale and peeta, if peeta were a trained sleeper agent for the entire series.
or the manchurian candidate set in ohio.
also, can we talk about how the alien army chooses to set up its main base in dayton? not my first choice for intergalactic takeovers.
i don't know. it's quick, it's enjoyable, it's science-fiction-y, but i worry about its depiction of women and their glossy hair and raging loins.
3.5 stars - will read the sequel with a little fear in my soul....more
this book makes me profoundly sad and i'm actually going to reread it at a later date when i'm less emotional.
THE FEELINGS. they matter.
i loved asigh.
this book makes me profoundly sad and i'm actually going to reread it at a later date when i'm less emotional.
THE FEELINGS. they matter.
i loved ariana franklin's series (mistress of the art of death) and her admiration for the middle ages (there are so few of us left in this crazy world) and i was saddened by the news of her death. when i saw her daughter was finishing this novel, i knew i'd read it. i also knew it would not be like the others.
these things never are.
and the writing and structure weren't the issue here. it's the content that's difficult to get through (not the history, although some of it is murkier than other bits). i don't know. as a mother of a couple red-headed girls, this one got very hard very fast. still, not a bad story. just not an easy one.
3.5 stars - i need to revisit this when i'm not trying to sell my house and get ready for back to school and can give it better attention and less personal attachment....more
to be honest, i'd move to a town named shakespeare, too.
but that's where most of the similarities between lily bard and me end.
look, i know i promiseto be honest, i'd move to a town named shakespeare, too.
but that's where most of the similarities between lily bard and me end.
look, i know i promise after EVERY. CHARLAINE. HARRIS. NOVEL. EVER. that that's the one that will be the last for me. that i've gone off her and her books. but sure enough, i find myself going back to her endless bounty of mediocre mysteries time and time again. i almost gave up on this one around page 20...maybe it's the northerner in me, but there are definitely some curious racial undertones operating in this one that just didn't sit well with me. i'd picked up on them in the aurora teagardens but seemed oblivious to them in the sookies (possibly because the supernatural races were so predominant, it was easy to pretend that the racism was exclusive to make-believe subcategories like fairies and werewolves)...is that was living in the south is really like? or was it just the 90s? i don't know...but it was definitely off-putting.
the other issues for me revolved around sex. the premise is basically that lily bard is the survivor of a traumatic kidnapping/rape who moves to a new place for anonymity, works out like a champ, and cleans houses to make a livable wage. i appreciate authors trying to depict what i'll classify as "optimistic rape survival" stories (meaning, rather than focus on the act itself or the negative repercussions, harris tries to paint lily as someone capable and determined to make her own way in the world despite her tragic past) but ultimately she still needs to be saved by a man (literally, figuratively, ecumenically) and the whole "women power" thing falls flat. there's this uncomfortable moment toward the end of the novel where lily bard, who never makes eye contact, looks another woman in the eyes and searches her soul for some hidden scar of recognition and they share a moment in solidarity.
there's also a town slut that gets shamed HARD here as well as deeply uncomfortable sex scenes that include such terrific lines as "and my boobs popped out" that make this whole thing just feel impossibly anti-female.
still, as an inaugural mystery in a series, it's not terrible. the more i read, the easier it was to forgive some of the missteps.
2.5 stars - not terrible but certainly very much reflective of a time and place that is now almost 20 years away from us....more
there have been a few three star books in my world this week, but of them, this one was the best.
mostly because my relationship with neil gaiman (if wthere have been a few three star books in my world this week, but of them, this one was the best.
mostly because my relationship with neil gaiman (if we can call it that, having never met the man himself) consists of me appreciating how good neil gaiman is but feeling the inexplicable frustration of knowing we see the world in fundamentally incompatible ways.
he is my "good on paper boyfriend" writer.
if that makes any sense at all.
i feel similarly about william gibson - another science-fiction-y fellow with brains and eccentricities and a vocabulary which should make my literary knees quiver. but there is, as i said, some fundamental disconnect between how he writes and how i process. our boy and girl literary legos don't click. if you catch my meaning.
so take what i write with that caveat in mind, please.
i read this one at the behest of a friend who enjoyed it but felt she didn't understand it. i have this problem with magic realism and fantasy in general (i know many people would classify this one as fantasy but i'm inclined to say magic realism. you say tomato. i say tomahto. whatever. it feels real in spaces and then inexplicably surreal in others. however you want to classify that is up to you)...i never get the rules of magic realism. mostly because the rules are up to the individual mind of the universe's creator. and when they bend those rules, it feels confusing and strange. i don't like predictability in my writing but i also dislike a world where prediction is simply impossible because anything could and probably will happen.
like worm-women. or hunger birds. or an ocean at the end of the lane.
but gaiman is special in the sense that his worlds do live in almost a steep literary tradition. his hempstock women, for example, are a classically-infused trio of women - like the fates/weird sisters - who invoke the pagan tradition of the crone, the mother, and the maiden goddess archetypes. this is mythology. and fairy tale. hansel and gretel who save the world from furies-like birds and an evil witch of a would-be-stepmother who also happens to occasionally function as a worm by following the laws of magic, hiding in the mysticism of book crumbs, and mastering the art of self-sacrifice before all can be lost. and despite the fantastical nature of the protagonist's quest here, the hempstock women feel deeply entrenched in believable reality. and for that, gaiman most definitely should be commended.
i also liked what i will lovingly dub the "to kill a mockingbird" style of the narration - an older and more depressingly adult version of the young boy protagonist flashes back to an uncomfortable past from the standpoint of a more stable and comfortable future. he knows - and so we know - that he survives the ordeal in the fairyland between childhood and adulthood. we also learn the crushing truth about the unreliable nature of both child and adult narration. i think of the truism that "you'll never get two people to remember anything the same" - but that's even more true of the child and the adult, even when those "two" people are one in the same.
for a little novel, it certainly has a lot packed into it.
the framing of the story around a funeral and a death (the idea, perhaps, that childhood is fleeting and the human condition is, at its heart, a story of loss - and, yeah, that pun was intentional), the paralleling of the hempstock trio with the narrator's mother, the supernaturally and sexually charged thing that calls itself ursula monkton, and the protagonist's weirdly disconnected sister, the duality of water, the concept of books as weapons, the cyclical nature of the protagonist's return to the farm (and subsequently forgetting each visit), the kitten with the soulful eyes...blahblahblah. it's sad and sweet - a song of mourning and loss...but ultimately, it's the greater questions of loss that make this novel feel less developed for me.
the transition from childhood to adulthood never feels entirely complete here - in other words, there is not enough magic left in the narrator's memory to make the tattered shards of his memory seamlessly stitch back together. there is the constant threat of death or loss that permeates the adult realm, the fragility of it all that halts the ability to succumb to the delicious nostalgia of the protagonist's past and makes lettie's sacrifice feel hollow or superficial.
and that's the biggest shame for me, because this story should have been lettie's. and, in a way, it was. but told from the perspective of a character worthy of name not worth sharing whose memories are as unreliable as leaving ursula monkton to care for your family members.
and there is no ability to judge the worthiness of her sacrifice except to say that the boy lives, and grows, and will inevitably die as all living things must. but the boy without a heart never felt fully grown to me. his younger self is more defined than his older self, but neither leapt off the page the way lettie manages to with even less description or breadth.
3.5 stars - lots to think about with this one but not what i'd dub an enjoyable read. it feels too much like an attempt to use magic to describe the slings and arrows of childhood, loss of innocence, and the difficulty to self-identify. also, for a british author, it feels appallingly american in scope (the language, the setting, the clothes...these things feel contrived so we feel its britishness and yet are the least successful touches in the whole book). while that blurring of geographical lines works thematically well in the text, it also adds an air of the disingenuous which mars more than it makes.
it was billed to me as "lord of the flies" meets "bring it on" - which of course seemed like a good idea toi don't even know how to review this one...
it was billed to me as "lord of the flies" meets "bring it on" - which of course seemed like a good idea to me at the time.
but it isn't really LOTF-esque...unless it's focusing on jack and roger and the latent homoeroticism that burns quietly between them.
only, you know, with sparkly undies and anorexia.
because that's TOTALLY was golding had in mind.
and, maybe, that's the biggest thing between this time period and golding's...at least, then, there was a piggy. now, the piggies of the world are malleable, weak, and scarce. and if they were on your cheer squad, you'd probably drop them from a dangerous stunt on purpose just to not have to deal with them anymore.
this one is more...metamorphosis. it's not loss of innocence, although i've used that tag here...it's more like rebirth into evil. it's understanding and becoming that which you once feared or hated. it's embracing all that is cold, calculating, self-centered, and ambitious about yourself.
it's becoming cheer captain.
and that's when it lost me. because ultimately, it's the frivolity of the world that ruins it. it's JUST cheerleading - no matter what self-important metaphors you use to doll it up. and the fact that the girls never see it is just pathetic.
there's also some ridiculousness near - the weird lesbian-esque love the girls have for their coach who is cruel and manipulative to them. it's the coach enabling everyone's anorexia and alcoholism. it's the predictability of the murder - which should have been an awesomely drawn out cat and mouse game...it just never really took off and that was disappointing.
most of all, i just never felt genuine concern or care about any of them, and i should have if the tension was to build at all.
but they all could have broken their necks in three different spots and stopped cheering and i probably would not have cared a bit. that's the danger of depicting the two-dimensional cardboard nature of these teenagers.
2.5 stars - quick, fast-paced, enough mystery to keep you going but not enough to particularly care which way it ends. ...more
i should be prepping for something called "english instructional lab" and instead i'm reading "men in kilts: return of the kilt".
i'm okay with my lifei should be prepping for something called "english instructional lab" and instead i'm reading "men in kilts: return of the kilt".
i'm okay with my life decisions.
here, it's the tricky reunion between our time-torn lovers who, having been apart from one another for twenty or so years, finally reunite when claire gets her history checked.
this is one of those frustrating things - when you want the characters to be together but you feel a little odd about them having so much reunion sex since they're like fifty now.
i mean, GOOD ON THEM, and all. but still. do i want to read it? mmm...
plus, and here there be spoilers, some things happen in this one that made me verra, verra angry.
first, DOUBLE. EWE. TEE. EFF. what happened to jenny in the last twenty years? she's not particularly nice to claire here - and i kind of sort of get her reasoning, but, damn. claire was jamie's first wife and all. surely that earns her something.
second, there is no way...and i mean NO WAY...that jamie would ever - despite whatever voodoo black matchmaking magic his sister wielded - ever marry leg-hair. he just wouldn't. don't we all remember how claire freaked out in the first book when leggy smiles at him after they return from their "honeymoon" and she's all "you can hook up with her; you owe me nothing" and he's all "damn you, lady, i just bought you a ring, will you please just CHILL?"
he could literally have married ANYONE else and it wouldn't have been a problem.
no, seriously, anyone. heck, he could have married grannie mcnab and the world would have rejoiced. but, nope, he was "lonely".
it's like twenty years apart and wee jamie fraser has no concept of honesty anymore. and sure he's a smuggling printer with a super-shady past, but he's usually more reliable than that when it comes to claire.
i mean, not telling her about his illegitimate son is one thing, but forgetting to mention that he's married???
come on now.
i don't know...i'm still obsessed but i'm worried that as claire and jamie age i'm going to start worrying about hip replacements and forget the whole "sexy kilt" bit.
not that i think jamie wore a kilt for most of the latter portion of the novel.
gaaahhhh. i am so obsessed with these books. i can't even.
in men in kilts part 2, we know right away something has gone terribly, terribly wrong in magaaahhhh. i am so obsessed with these books. i can't even.
in men in kilts part 2, we know right away something has gone terribly, terribly wrong in magic-scotland-land, where we last left our heroine and hero (or were they in france already? i forget...). either way, this one starts off about 20 years into the future, then we flashback and learn what happened to claire and jamie.
this one was emotionally trickier to navigate. i could predict a considerable portion of the more negative bits, but it didn't make them any easier to read through. and i found myself a bit heartbroken by the end of the flashback.
still, a thoroughly enjoyable series and i look forward to reading the third.
you want to know why there are so few historical fiction novels featuring henry viii as a first person protagonist?
because, on paper, he was kind of ayou want to know why there are so few historical fiction novels featuring henry viii as a first person protagonist?
because, on paper, he was kind of a dick.
look, when you know the punchline - that he was married more times than a kardashian and that he offed two of his exes (at least), cast away two others, and was faithful to none - you have an impossible problem ahead of you.
how do you make the character charming enough to buy that six women would risk their lives to be his lover?
this book doesn't even come close.
here, henry is a spoiled brat, imbued with a hefty dose of egotism after overhearing his mom and her confessor discuss local prophecies. he, being young and fairly stupid, overhears that "york will be king", and, of course, since he is york, clearly that means he is destined for greatness.
GREATNESS, I SAY.
and he does try to say it only to get slapped pretty fucking hard by his mother.
which is, sadly, not the last time henry's overcharged ego gets him beaten by someone he shares blood ties with.
all the parental abuse and neglect doesn't take. he was born a spare that becomes the heir. and since he thinks that HE IS A KING ORDAINED BY GOD, he intends to take over the world.
or bankrupt england trying.
things do not improve as he moves through wives, children, and religion like they're pieces of a puzzle he's putting together horribly wrong.
also, he's haunted.
no, literally, by a straw-haired ghost boy who plagues him at sad moments (deaths, usually).
it all boils down to a cruel feminist joke that henry, who only takes his father's advice regarding sons, has misjudged his legacy to the wrong child.
don't bother. it rests too greatly on an unworthy protagonist who is spoiled and entitled, not clever or impressive in any other why other than his wife count. ...more
how am i the only person to really, really dislike this book?
the last two spellman "documents" have been incredibly grating. the todouble.ewe.tee.eff.
how am i the only person to really, really dislike this book?
the last two spellman "documents" have been incredibly grating. the tone from the originals is entirely gone and the attributes i disliked so heartily from the first books seem magnified here.
let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? here, there be spoilers. consider yourselves warned.
1. henry: WHAT DID HENRY EVER DO TO YOU, LUTZ??? it's like she had to try to come up with a way to make henry so unlikable that no one could ever possibly want him to end up with izzy ever, ever again. so she gives henry a baby mama (because someone who is impossibly fastidious about cleaning his apartment sure as hell is going to get all looseygoosey with the contraception for a woman he's been dating for a couple of months) and THEN has him drunkkiss izzy AND tell her that awful thing about being "more normal." but then, because she'll probably need henry for later installments, she tries to redeem him a little at the end by having rae point out how much happier henry is not dating izzy. right. because that feels good to the people who invested so much interest in the development of their relationship for the first four books. 2. morgan freeman and the footnotes: is it just me or did the tone of the footnotes gradually get meaner and meaner? i mean the plugs for the other books has always grated (BUY MY BOOK! NOW IN PAPERBACK!). here, izzy is just a bitch (IF SOMEONE WANTS TO GIVE ME A NEW CAR TO ADVERTISE, SURE, THEN I WILL TELL YOU THE BRAND). and more obnoxious than normal. and i'm so done with the morgan freeman thing. wasn't funny in the fifth, isn't funny here. 3. Al Spellman - this plotline felt similarly to the henry. izzy's corporate takeover and subsequent dictatorship made her so unpleasant and unsympathetic that even her own parents hate her. which, considering how little respect they seem to have for her in the earlier books, isn't that much of a change. but in order to basically right all the emotional wrongs established in book 5, lutz gives al spellman leukemia. i don't think it takes a rocket scientist for anyone to figure out who the bone marrow donor has to be in order to make sure the balance is restored in this greek tragedy of a family. 4. the set up: here, we get more voice memos from rae. she is even given the titular "last words" here, which sets up her voice to help take over the writing of the family "documents" from here on out. since rae has been far more sociopathic than izzy, i can only imagine the misery we are setting ourselves up for. 5. the mystery: not hard to solve, not even close to unpredictable. i don't even get why the mysteries exist if not to point out how shitty izzy is at doing her job. and she is. really shitty. she can't even run the business she purportedly is so good at doing. I DON'T GET IT. WHY MAKE HER SO USELESS IN ALL CAPACITIES OF HER LIFE??? 6. Max, babies, whatever: So, Henry isn't the right guy for izzy but single dad max is??? because izzy very loves children!?! or just not children related to her? WHAT?!
i don't know. i might be done with the series. i actually cannot believe how many good reviews this last book has; it's like we're all hoping lutz will take a break from the series and come back to it when she wants to, not when publishers push her into it just to make more money. i think this is sort of what happened with charlaine harris after she had to write about the love affair between sookie and eric when she was so staunchly team bill/sam/anyonebuteric; she ended up resenting the characters and her writing. i don't know. i just don't feel the love here, not from lutz, not from me. i devoured the first four of these and could barely make myself read the final installment. the two stars is more for nostalgia and hope than merit.
okay, so i'm gathering some time passed between lutz's book 4 and her book 5 because, dang, was the voice and tone off on this one.
first, the snarky mokay, so i'm gathering some time passed between lutz's book 4 and her book 5 because, dang, was the voice and tone off on this one.
first, the snarky magic of the first four was just...gone. maybe as izzy gets older, it just gets more pathetic for her to be quite as snappy without it coming across as "bitchy" instead of "quirky." here, she's avoiding the subject of marriage and children with henry by throwing herself into her investigative work and staging a spellman coup in her copious spare time.
i know she did that whole thing with old david vs. new david - i think lutz really needs to consider new izzy, because she's just unlikable.
finishing the series, but feeling like maybe sort of kind of book four should have been the last one....more
but i still don't know how much i like izzy or her parents. first, izzy seems a littleokay, so now i love henry stone.
and i'm invested in the series.
but i still don't know how much i like izzy or her parents. first, izzy seems a little bit...alcoholic. and she has one of those convenient detective story tropes of "miraculously stumbling across a mystery and then misreading it entirely". is that her thing? she gets a funny feeling in her gut, assumes evil, and then is pleasantly surprised when her gut is right that something is up but wrong when she's informed what that something actually is?
because i don't know how i feel about that.
i mean, we spend an awful lot of time learning about how flawed izzy is, how her life has, essentially, been a series of disappointments and scares in the eyes of her family members (Except, maybe, for rae, who is still my favorite). it seems cruel to give her a gift or a purpose in private detective work and then reduce it to "accidental" or "close but really the opposite of what you thought."
i really like rainbow rowell, i think you all know that, but i didn't love this book at all.
it's much shorter than her previous tomes, but that's noti really like rainbow rowell, i think you all know that, but i didn't love this book at all.
it's much shorter than her previous tomes, but that's not really the issue here.
so what is?
first, the book's premise just reads like...fast food magic realism. i liked the premise in theory, but in practice it fell exceedingly short of expectations. we not only have to believe that there is a person named georgie mccool (no, no there is not) but we also have to believe her pug-owning, victoria-secret wearing, bedazzled, married to a man half her age mother has a magic yellow phone (the titular landline) that allows her to dial her past in hopes of figuring out how to right the current wrongs in her crumbling marriage.
this would never happen in a gabriel garcia marquez novel, america!
second, i just didn't give a fuck. i mean, i tried. i love nerdy, funny people. but georgie wasn't nearly nerdy or funny enough to be bothered. i didn't see how she was this great comedic force of nature (even in a hot lips costume)...i know she was depressed and stressed on account of the aforementioned failing marriage, but even in flashbacks she just sort of fell flat, funny-wise.
and while we (sort of) on the subject of georgie's job, can we just talk about how unrealistic the depiction of her work felt??? it was like a rip-off of a 30 rock episode, only, like, if they had writing meetings in an IKEA and frank was a j-crew model.
it just felt pretty...weak...to me. i don't really know that world, but it just wasn't ringin' true over here.
AND...seth...and scotty...but seth first...WTF? was he there only to add some sort of "sexual tension" or "love-triange-esque friction" to the narrative? because it didn't work. georgie is #teamhobbit4lyf. there's no threat there. to try to give seth a semblance of a soul at the end only undermined his depiction for the first 90% of the novel AND left several unanswered questions regarding the nature of georgie's work after the "After".
as for scotty...he was an interesting meta-nod to diversity (he is a gay, indian writer who attempts to infuse diversity into their scripts by creating a gay, indian writer...i shit you not). but he didn't read as culturally significant only expendable.
ditto with georgie's maybe-gay half-sister heather who holds hands with the lovely pizza girl after they co-deliver pug babies in a laundry machine.
the more i think about this one, the more upset i'm getting.
I MEAN GEORGIE DOESN'T WEAR UNDERWEAR OR A BRA FOR LIKE HALF THE NOVEL. THAT'S A PROBLEM.
i really, really wanted to like this one because i really, really have liked everything else rowell has published. but i just really, really didn't.
i'm sorry, rainbow. i have failed you.
but if i'm being honest, nothing here felt deep. all the voices felt the same, every setting (past and present) felt the same. nothing was special, not even the stupid yellow magic time-traveling phone. if you couldn't see the end coming from about page 34, well, shame on you.
2.5 stars for some 1998 nostalgia and the hopes that the next one will be better.
WHERE WERE ALL THESE SMOKING HOT TATTOOED BADBOYS WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL?!?!
oh, right, prison.
seriously, y'all need to calm down about this book.
loWHERE WERE ALL THESE SMOKING HOT TATTOOED BADBOYS WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL?!?!
oh, right, prison.
seriously, y'all need to calm down about this book.
look, i don't usually go in for this sort of thing, so that'll probably bias my opinion a tad here. i understand if you don't want to read this. i won't take it personally.
i didn't hate this book. i didn't love it enough to tattoo it to my back, either. so there we go. a solid 3 star effort in the realm of teen love.
let's talk about some of my problems, because i'm feeling ranty tonight.
1. dueling narrators - i just don't get this. does it offer the reader a more holistic picture? does it give the writer an additional viewpoint to play around with? make the story feel truer? i just don't understand why EVERY BOOK I READ NOW has this format. if i always wanted to be in everyone's head, i would read a play or something written in third person omniscient. YOU ARE GOING TO WEAR THIS FORMAT OUT, PEOPLE! TRUST ME!
2. "baby" - every time noah called echo "baby", i wanted to take a drink. it chafed me. bad. i'm not entirely sure why.
3. reading this reminded me a little bit of jane eyre, but not in the sense that it was a classic work of british literature. more, like, it was "okay" for echo to end up with noah because he "used" to be cool and on the side of the right, popular, and middle classed. and echo is a little "freaktastic" because of the scars that now mar her otherwise perfect body. it was very reminiscent of the end of JE when rochester and jane can finally get together because jane actually has money (and rochester has been blinded and publicly shamed by his now-dead crazy pyromaniac wife in the attic). i know they're similar yet different pasts were supposed to make their love believable but it felt creepy to me.
4. echo's "friends" are terrible. and echo is sort of horribly impressionable. "you think i'm shallow? you hide your arms still!" next day? arms uncovered! what? if my mom's murder attempt resulted in me getting cut up, i'd show or not show my arms whenever i felt like it! not because some witchy girl i was never really friends with called me out like she had any business pretending to know my life.
5. luke. oh, sweet, horny, stupid, jock luke. actually, i think he gave the truest sentence in the whole book (except he wouldn't have said it out loud, of course) when he said he could never look or touch echo's scars without flinching. that felt pretty real to me, bro.
6. i HATE parents in these things. why are they always so one-dimensional and ALWAYS a huge part of the problem? echo's dad is just horrible. and i feel for the guy, but he gets introduced as this beyond-disinterested, angry, all-business hardass and it's really hard to buy his transformation at the end. breakthrough or not.
i don't know. i don't want teens to get the idea that romantic love will save them from their bad lives. it cheapens the idea of what real love is and what real loves feels like. that said, i'll probably read at least one of the sequels.
i think we all need to agree right now that this sort of "four star" rating is not the same as say "out of africa four stars". but since this installmi think we all need to agree right now that this sort of "four star" rating is not the same as say "out of africa four stars". but since this installment was better than the other ones i'd previously read (and i *think* i gave those about 3 stars), i decided to round up for posterity.
these are like stephanie plums. you know what you're going to get when you start one. i happen to prefer when maxwell and king are not straddling the divide between private detectives and saviors of democracy; there are a lot fewer presidents mentioned here.
this one is more classic murder mystery - creepy killer starts offing people in the style of famous serial killers to make some sort of "makes-sense-only-to-him" serial killer statement. king and maxwell are working a separate but related case (and michelle, an avid outdoors enthusiast and runner, finds the first victim's body).
look, i had the killer(s) figured out right quick - i saw the signs - but worked harder on the motives to the degree that this one was actually fun to read and figure out. it was also a bit scarier than the others, more real feeling (as real as these stories ever feel, anyways).
biggest problem -aside from baldacci's reliably uncomfortable attempts at characterization, which, admittedly, were much better in this installment than in later ones - was the end that sort of gets drawn out like peter jackson homage to hobbits, if you catch my meaning.
not that there were hobbits here.
*but in that wink,wink,nudge,nudge way evocative of a barry bonds' homerun...more
ok, can we all agree on one crucial point before i commence: proms suck. they do. they're a lot of build up and hype and flash and glitter, but there'ok, can we all agree on one crucial point before i commence: proms suck. they do. they're a lot of build up and hype and flash and glitter, but there's always puke or some girl crying her eyes out in the bathroom or some kid who gets wasted or brings drugs or breaks up with his girlfriend for a freshman. it's the acme of high school drama. with high heels. so, should we really expect that much from a book of the same name?
prom is the story of "ash" - a "normal" kid. you know, normal, right? it means "no extras poor", a perennially pregnant mom, an astronomic number of detentions to make up, a class cut or six a week, a math teacher who steals all your prom funds, a lot of "yo"-ing, a dad who bastardizes the story of cinderella for his little boy at bedtime, a loser boyfriend who reeks of wannabe felon and who wants you to move into a hovel with him and work at a "chuck e. cheese" ripoff full-time to help support his pot habit...oh, and a couple of bffs who are, like, totally obsessed with prom.
this is not my normal.
my normal consisted of honors and AP classes, of playing designated driver, of collecting a weird assortment of friends with mixed feelings about prom, of working at a video store, of having one older sister who is smarter than me, and of living in "camelot" (a collection of streets named after the who's who of arthurian legend). when i drop a "yo" people look at me funny.
and you know what? when "ash" does it? i looked at her funny, too.
i don't know. i wanted to like this one. it's cute, in a "cinderella loathes school/prom/her future but uses her prom management skills as a catalyst for changing her life and getting more than just knocked up and welfare out of it" kinda way. but it's a bit...i don't know...hokey?
when i think laurie halse anderson, i think tortured adolescence, sordid secrets, anger, emotional distress, turkey bone sculptures, anorexia, and pain.
not pink gossamer gowns and sparkly shoes.
that cinderella shit just isn't her.
what we have here is if the marthas (from Speak were like younger, post-prison versions of martha stewart. they're hyper-organized, hyper-stressed, and hyper-prom-centric. and they're not afraid to cut a bitch.
you know what i mean?
3 stars - let's just say it lives up to its namesake....more
reading this play should be mandatory in high school. it's a compelling piece about compassion, conformity, conviction, and crime. in terms of reinforreading this play should be mandatory in high school. it's a compelling piece about compassion, conformity, conviction, and crime. in terms of reinforcing humanity, the character of #8 who, while not convinced entirely of the defendant's innocence, honestly believes in the singular worth of a man's life. i'm not entirely sure i believe the validity of the challenges to the evidence...but...well, that's not really what the plays about.
teaching Hamlet is perhaps one of my greatest joys as an educator.
for years, i have loved this play. hamlet's inappropriate fascination with his motheteaching Hamlet is perhaps one of my greatest joys as an educator.
for years, i have loved this play. hamlet's inappropriate fascination with his mother's sex life, his cruel treatment of his former lover, his reluctance to act, his decision to put on an antic disposition...i love it all.
this fall, my students are gravitating toward the complexity with which hamlet approaches his madness. this week, as we read over hamlet's "love letter" to ophelia, my students were amused by the danish prince's decision to focus on ophelia's "white bosom" as one of his first talking points. when faced with the reality that hamlet, perhaps, has seen too much lust, they were entertained by the possibility that hamlet's intended audience was never his ladylove but always her father (and more importantly his uncle). while they fail, perhaps, to connect to some of the more philosophical notions embedded in the text, the idea that hamlet would, from afar, enjoy the notion of his uncle being read a dirty letter by the foolish father of his former flame gains him a modicum if respect.
i think i've also managed to convince them that horatio is perhaps a fragment of his imagination, the rationally-charged tyler durden of the play.
let's just face it. an unger novel is perfect for those pre-bedtime creepouts. she weaves convoi know. i promised myself i'd never unger again.
let's just face it. an unger novel is perfect for those pre-bedtime creepouts. she weaves convoluted plots that feel simultaneously unbelievable and close-to-home. here, it's the tale of two dead girls, separated by decades, and the question of what would you do to protect the ones you love.
1. for once, unger's multi-perspective drama didn't feel uber-contrived to me. i got into the rhythm of the novel easily and it was addictive. 2. tone: it's creepy. i wanted to double check the locks on all my windows and doors after reading. it's not something about which i would say, "YES! I need to read more books like this so that i can live in abject terror for the rest of my life!" but i think she was successful in creating the intended atmosphere. and i respect that. 3. story: of all the ungers i've read, this one i liked the most. there's something harrowing about a missing girl that makes me think of the 80s in the worst kind of nostalgic way. i flipped the pages the same way i glued myself to the television, looking for updated news of missing children, fearing the worst, hoping for the best. whatever the best may be.
1. the names. blech. jones cooper? two last names is hardly effective at conjuring anything other than a downeaster in a flannel jacket. sorry. 2. female author in a male brain. or male author in a female brain. i don't like it. it has to be done carefully and cautiously, with respect to the gender. but here unger's internal conflict reads like the stereotype. ricky has all the predictable angst worthy of a teenage male goth ("It's Rick, Mom!"), jones is doughy, passive, and broken, and charlie is...well, charlie is number 3. 3. charlie: okay, i've said it before and i'll say it again. i really don't like it when authors create a fictional author self. here, it's charlie, the writer-cum-exterminator. his story is probably the weakest and obviously he is, in all ways but the penis, supposed to function as the counterpart for unger (who tells us in the epilogue about how she was personally haunted by a missing girl when she was in her teens and how she wanted to write about it but couldn't find the words). blahblahblah. charlie had potential, but it was squandered when he became a literal representation of the author herself. 4. maggie: maggie is ricky's mom, jones's wife, marshall's therapist, melody's high school buddy, elizabeth's daughter...she's connected to almost all of them (not charlie, though, i guess it bears mentioning). i hated her. she's very condescending her role of therapist and she plays only to the stereotype. plus, she pimps therapy on EVERYONE, and, i'm not saying they don't need it, but it felt a little cheap and a little hollow. 5. marshall, travis, and the chief - this unholy trinity of abusive/abused males permeates the text in a way that feels altogether overplayed. they're 2-d representations of a sensitive subject matter worthy of some deeper consideration. oddly, while reading, i totally imagined christopher plummer in the role of the chief. off-putting, that.
3 star effort here - a good story mildly undone by the cardboard rigidity of its characters....more
so, i like john green, i really do. i find his work to be intelligent and witty, and usually with a heart.
excuse the faulty parallelism there.
that saiso, i like john green, i really do. i find his work to be intelligent and witty, and usually with a heart.
excuse the faulty parallelism there.
that said, he's highly formulaic. i've often bemoaned the fact that i fear he will become the male sarah dessen (another young adult author whose work is highly addictive, quick to read, and extremely formulaic). here, we have yet another socially awkward male protag who borders somewhere between asperger's and brilliant who is muddling through a lonely existence of nerd-dom in the last breaths of his high school career. there's a foul-mouthed best friend who reads more like a swingers character than a high school kid, an almost out-of-reach young lady who is both beautiful and complicated, and a road trip of self-discovery in a car most teen boys would be simultaneously horrified and proud to drive.
oh, right, that's because it's the plot of LFA and Paper Towns, and i'm guessing most other John Green novels.
do you see my point?
look, the dialogue is snappy, i laughed out loud during one scene in particular - which is more than i can say about most dessen attempts. there's something far funnier about green's writing style - his characters read like hyper-intelligent kids, the kids you'd want to hang out with if you were still in high school. but my big problem is: are a sprinkling of very funny scenes enough to save a plot you find utterly redundant?
i guess because i expect more of green than i do dessen, it's not. i don't want him to create another character who needs to traverse the southeast looking for answers to relationships he's too young to fully understand the emotional implications of (here, colin, who feels almost precociously autistic in his factual knowledge, needs to comprehend his latest breakup with K-19 through a language he is more comfortable with - math). the sideplots involving TOC (the other colin), hollis, tampon string factories, and hassan's laziness all sort of fall victim to that initial impulse and thus feel shallow.
the proverbial nail in the coffin for me was the epilogue during which a newly unsingle colin (will he date a katherine 20 or will he break his streak? i won't tell!) examines his evidence and discovers lo! and behold! he no longers needs math to rationalize his emotions; he has become a writer!
i don't know...like i said, green is too intelligent for that sort of anticlimatic conclusion, and, while endings are certainly not his strong point, i still expected more from him.
two things happened in this installment that made me incredibly happy: 1. ariana franklin only felt compelled to mention once or twice the unhappy tratwo things happened in this installment that made me incredibly happy: 1. ariana franklin only felt compelled to mention once or twice the unhappy tragedy of thomas becket and henry's "side comment" to his knights about getting rid of the bugger. 2. adelia's full name only gets mentioned twice
two of my biggest gripes about the first book in the series were the previously mentioned items that franklin threw in the reader's face any time there was a chance to do so. here, she seems to have learned to temper herself a bit more (although, it was probably more because this book was more about eleanor than henry).
the sweetmeat: 1. adelia has mellowed considerably with the birth of her baby. i related to the breastfeeding thing: not so much the "negative vibe" crap (because, quite frankly, most of the time i feel compelled to nurse my infant because my boobs have turned into rock-solid pornstar tits), but more the decision (or, rather, the unwillingness) to wean on the part of the mother. 2. gyltha has grown on me considerably. not that i didn't like her in the first book, but that i definitely have a deep appreciation of her now. 3. eleanor - like a crazed peacock, eleanor descends on the plot. i loved her - she's totally batty, even childishly petulant at times, but brilliant and strong even in her maniacal need to get revenge on her husband. all the scorned women here can hold their own (to an extent) and it's nice to see in a plot that centers on the restrictions of the gender...plus, it's such a curious combination of traits...and it sort of works...so i'm making it a positive. 4. rowley-powley - both baby and father were not the obnoxious side plot i feared they'd be. in fact, franklin is particularly adept at making sure the reader doesn't hate rowley, even though adelia claims to. 5. the nod to julian of norwich - any good medieval scholar will appreciate the scene between the abbey's mother superior and adelia where the nun explains to the cynical italian about god the mother. the scene is a bit out of place, in a sense, but i like the attempt to infuse scholarship to a generic mystery. 6. the perpetual nod to the canterbury tales. here, we get a character who could be the squire (of course, he ends up dead for his love letters and wooin') and the lawyer (the squire's money-man and potential killer). keep that up - the books are more successful when you do so!
the deadly mushrooms: 1. poor dead and rotting rosamund the fair - gah! this was like a scene out of se7en. in fact, i thought for awhile that franklin was going to do a medieval ripoff of the movie because of rosamund's gluttonous depiction here (she didn't). rosie here is fat and dead. her corpse remains unburied for awhile...it gets...gross. 2. dakers - i never mind a subtle homage but dakers here is practically a total ripoff of "danny" danvers from "rebecca" (a character whose insanity and creepiness i totally love). i don't know - it felt sort of cheap to give her the same sort of treatment (almost down to the all-consuming fire, which dakers escapes death from) 3. henry II - i love henry, i really do. but the last scene with him felt...weird. i couldn't tell if franklin was trying to set up some bizarre "wooing" or what. it makes little to no sense to me that henry would insist on keeping adelia around england so rigidly and then "forget" to pay her (an omission that gets mentioned SEVERAL times). i don't know. it didn't resonate with me. 4. the mystery - the killers were SO predictable. even the "twist"...blech. i just wanted them caught already by the end. 5. the women-hate - i get it. the medieval era was not really the time for female empowerment. men fear and hate that which they don't understand (or, that which bleeds once a month). adelia's constant pondering of her gender dilemma seemed so inappropriate for the time period. more distracting than thought-provoking. 6. ulf - stop telling us how much you miss him and bring him back, gosh darn it!
3.5 stars for another fun but flawed adventure into CT spinoff land....more
reading science fiction, for me, is like reading in greek or colloquial german. i have some sort of delay that prevents me froso, here's a confession.
reading science fiction, for me, is like reading in greek or colloquial german. i have some sort of delay that prevents me from getting into the cadence of a text easily; instead, it's labor. even in this one, which is definitely more "young adult" (although, i'd argue, not as much as you might think). and maybe it's because of that delay that i struggled to finish this one in a timely fashion or that i had to reread several passages over and over for clarity. i don't know. but that sci-fi dyslexia might be one of the reasons i didn't love all of this novel.
note, i said all.
here's the thing. i love ender. he, in a completely unrelated way, reminds me of ralph, from lord of the flies, who, like ender, is another boy sent to be a commander of troops who resent him. and, in both novels, even though the primary character list is children-based, the book isn't necessarily geared toward children.
i'll say this, however, orson scott card is more roald dahl than william golding. he glorifies the intense creativity and genius of the child's mind in order to make his greater messages clear (rather than showing how evil lurks in even the seemingly most innocent of us). card's treatment of adults also follows a dahlian flavor - they're enemies, manipulative and cruel (only to be kind).
when the novel stays with the games/school (like harry potter at hogwarts), it is vastly more successful than when we get into the politics of things on earth. the whole peter-valentine-russian-hegemon sideplot ultimately feels clunky in comparison to the deftness of the scenes in command and battle school. by the time we get to the whole hive-queen cocoon, speaker of the dead thing at the end, the reader (this one, anyways) feels like the whole thing has been rushed in order to set up the next book in the series.
and i really hate that. it's gimmicky and cheap and does ultimate disservice to the original storyline.
so, it's three stars, not four. if they'd cut out more of the earth battle or saved that for another novel, i wouldn't have minded. stupid, fart-eating subplots....more
this is probably the weakest in the series by far. the murderer is painstakingly obvious - although, in fairness to white, she manages to pul2.5 stars
this is probably the weakest in the series by far. the murderer is painstakingly obvious - although, in fairness to white, she manages to pull off an almost nifty bait-and-switch with the red herring. of course, when it happened, it just made me mad that the motive made no sense whatsoever and then i kept thinking about how stupid bailey was afterwards. so maybe more harm than good???
i won't go on and on - in some ways, if you've read one, you've read them all. but i'm still hooked....more
so, sarah dessen does "dark" - if by dark, i mean, she follows exactly the same formula she always does, only instead of the boy being someon2.5 stars
so, sarah dessen does "dark" - if by dark, i mean, she follows exactly the same formula she always does, only instead of the boy being someone the girl lives happily after high school with, the boy is an abusive POS who helps the girl realize who she is only after he gets arrested and she goes to rehab.
but i appreciated the effort, even if the metaphors are still clunky and the use of random lines of poetry still, well, random....more
i don't read much in the way of graphic novels - but there is something particularly nostalgic about this one, a childlike quality to the art here, thi don't read much in the way of graphic novels - but there is something particularly nostalgic about this one, a childlike quality to the art here, that helps propel the narrative in every way.
this is a strange little coming-of-age tale about a girl living in iran during a period of revolution, war, and invasion. we see her navigate her youthful misunderstandings of life's great abstracts (god, life, death, grief, loss, love, etc.), each episode pushing her further and further from innocence.
considering that she has witnessed bloodshed and violence firsthand, heard stories of tortures and execution from parents and friends alike, and weathered a transition from secular to religious education...it's a little surprising that the incident which marks marji's transition to adulthood is the defiant act of smoking in the basement.
but it's that detail, the reminder of her normalcy via typical preteen angst set against the turbulent and violent backdrop of iran in the early 80s, that make this a truly compelling piece.
that i cried while reading about her uncle (the swan! calling her his "little star!" ggaahhhh) just as easily as i laughed at her childish declaration that she would like to be a prophet when she grows up speaks to the emotional effect of the text as a whole.
very interesting piece, one that will be with me for awhile....more