I read Faith by John Love a while ago and enjoyed it, although it had some beginning author issues, so I was excited to give this book a try.
UnfortunI read Faith by John Love a while ago and enjoyed it, although it had some beginning author issues, so I was excited to give this book a try.
Unfortunately, I think that the author has gone in a different direction than I would have preferred. His main character is a James Bond type whose cover is being an owner of a rare book store. He loves classical music, knows a lot about philosophy ( or at least as much as the author does) and because of genetic engineering and reworking is lightning fast, super-smart, and ultra-strong. He's the perfect secret agent, bought and paid for by the UN.
He's assigned a mission- to be a bodyguard for an iconoclastic religious figure whose religion's primary appeal seems to be its secular humanist bent. She's a woman who likes to eat and have sex, and this annoys our fastidious protagonist, who is all about self-denial.
Well, I confess I didn't get very far into this one. It almost read to me like a satire of pulp, because the hero was so over the top, the name-dropping of artists, designers and philosophers seemed so designed to appeal to the casual reader who wants to feel superior because they know who Frank Lloyd Wright was and what Bauhaus furniture looks like. Was the author mocking our brand-oriented, surface level society? Unfortunately, I don't think he was, which takes him down a notch for me. He really seemed to want to write a thinking person's thriller, but his philosophers came across as pretentious and sophomoric, not interesting or original. Lots of testosterone, very serious, too earnestly intense in its styling for me....more
Read this for my mystery book club. Mostly it's an enjoyable, frothy little book that allows you to put yourself in Phryne Fisher's shoes for a bit ofRead this for my mystery book club. Mostly it's an enjoyable, frothy little book that allows you to put yourself in Phryne Fisher's shoes for a bit of wish fulfillment. Phryne lives in a fabulous Art Deco home, drives a great car, has young men falling at her feet, adopts teenage girls as easily as she adopts kittens, and has the respect of both the police and the prostitutes. Not an easy feat, but then Phryne is larger than life. Always energetic, exuberant, and thirsty for justice, she never falters or suffers from indecision.
The plot of the book is a pretty straightforward mystery, in that there's never much doubt who did it. The book takes a meandering side path into the evils of white sex slavery, which stretches things out a bit further, but it all wraps up quickly enough. It's all pretty black and white- characters are good or bad, no trouble telling the difference. There's a lightness and humor to the book. Fun, if you're not worried by the lack of complication or subtlety....more
**spoiler alert** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book started out as a 4 or 5. There was a great**spoiler alert** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book started out as a 4 or 5. There was a great opening hook, and I was immediately interested in Kate and how she had traveled back in time to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. I've read "The Devil in the White City" and so I knew the references she was making and was intrigued, as I've yet to read any fiction about this particular subject.
The characterization of Kate, her mother Deborah, and her grandmother Katherine started out strong. There was conflict, but subtle conflict. There was the mysterious glowing pendant. There was a little bit of menace- Kate being watched on the train.
Where the book started to go off the rails is when things "shifted" for Kate. I've spoiler-warninged this, but so you know, I can't talk more about the book without giving away some of the plot.
One of the paradoxes about time travel is how "erased" timelines would work if someone went back in time and changed things. Usually, books about time travel are focused on people acting upon timelines. This book is a bit different because it focuses on what happens to people in timelines that are acted upon. Kate loses her mother, finds her father with other children but no memory of her, and ends up cooped up in her grandmother's house, a "safe zone" which protects whatever and whoever is inside it from shifting time. This is all still pretty interesting, but Kate also meets Trey. He's a boy who has a bad case of insta-love, believes all the crazy things she says, and is her only friend in her new timeline. Trey is almost a cipher in terms of character except for being a perfect boyfriend who supports and believes Kate, doesn't actually want to sleep with her until all the timelines are sorted out so she'll remember this once-in-a-lifetime event, and does whatever she asks without question.
And after Kate gets cooped up in the house, the plot comes to a screeching halt. Kate does research, getting backstory on her grandmother, and there's a lot of talk about the mechanics and ethics of time travel, but no one really does anything for more than 100 pages. I was ready for a book about time travel, but had to wait more than half the book for any time travel to happen! And you have to admit, reading about the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 has got to be a lot more interesting than a teenager hiding out in her grandmother's house. Especially since... there is a LOVE TRIANGLE.
Before the shift, Kate met an interesting and attractive person called Kiernan who seemed to know her. There was a lot of chemistry between them, but then Kiernan is sidelined for most of the book. The whole time Kate was getting to know Trey I didn't care for the author had managed to get me more interested in Kiernan in the 5 minutes of time that he and Kate had together.
So, the time travel aspect, after a great hook, turned out to be almost a bait and switch since I had to wait another 200 pages to get back to that hook. Kate grew less believable as a teenager as the book went on. It felt like the author cared a lot about characterization early on, but then just moved her characters around as necessary for the plot. Trey talks like no teenager ever, but his conversation reads like exposition. Kate sort of turned mentally into a middle-aged lady (I'm one myself, so no judgement) but she did NOT feel much like a teenager.
After reading quite a bit and spinning my wheels on this book, I don't feel like taking a chance on the rest of the series. ...more
**spoiler alert** For me, this is the least impressive entry in the Expanse series thus far. The basic plot: Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are**spoiler alert** For me, this is the least impressive entry in the Expanse series thus far. The basic plot: Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are sent to a planet that has been found through the alien gates that fling wide access to the entire galaxy. Their job: to mediate between some Belters who have established an illegitimate colony on this planet ahead of the approved company ship from Earth. Essentially, a bunch of claim jumpers are trying to assert their right to a planet because they settled it first, and folks who did the paperwork are trying to get them out.
We had couple of new viewpoint characters. One was Havelock, who was Detective Miller's Earther partner in the first book. He's basically a guy who doesn't like to question his orders much and just likes to do what he's told. Next, we have Basia, one of the claim jumpers.
I actually don't feel like either viewpoint added much to the story, or that either of the POV characters stood out much. They each represented one side of the conflict, but I don't feel like they were integral to the plot. I don't really care if I read about either of them again.
Holden has been sent by Avasarala of Earth and Fred Johnson of the Outer Planet Alliance to this powder keg because they figure he'll do what he always does- blab about everything to everybody and uncover secrets. Holden doesn't really do much in the way of mediation.
The third new viewpoint character is a scientist named Elvi who was sent out with the Earth mission. She's a biologist, and actually a pretty interesting character who figures out answer to a lot of problems. Unfortunately, she also has a huge crush on Holden for whatever reason and acts very unprofessional about it. Also, the plot dictates that she just needs to sleep with some other random person to snap out of her Holden obsession, because apparently she's just really horny. The Nice Guy who's been creeping around her all book persuades her to do this, and it works (UGH!) and then she decides that she kind of likes this Nice Guy after all, proving the creeper theory that if a woman does end up sleeping with you, she'll figure out that it was you she wanted all along, even if she was interested in someone else before. Did I say UGH?
Anyway, the feel is a bit like a frontier western down on the planet. Meanwhile in space, some really gung-ho militia wannabees make life more difficult for everyone.
I feel like this didn't need to be an Expanse book. You can insert different names into this novel and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Holden doesn't really need to be Holden, Naomi and the rest of the crew are uber-competent but don't display much in the way of other personality traits, and the plot doesn't advance the larger arc of the Expanse except to serve as a illustration, explained helpfully by Avasarala, at the end. The protomolecule/scary alien technology is the most hand-wavy and deus ex machina that I've ever seen in this series, and most of the book is essentially a distraction from the real problem of this artificial planet.
I still read the book quickly, but felt dissatisfied after I was done. Here's hoping the next book will be better....more
**spoiler alert** This is a deceptively easy book to read. You zoom along, enjoying the heist tropes- the gathering of the team, the antagonist, the h**spoiler alert** This is a deceptively easy book to read. You zoom along, enjoying the heist tropes- the gathering of the team, the antagonist, the heist itself- and then you find that you just sped over something really dark, like cannibalism, the ultimate in the consumer society. But you're still having fun! Even though the hero finds out that he has been unconsciously manipulating people magically throughout his life, so that he can't trust that anyone has ever genuinely cared about him. But look- there's a really cool fight scene! Mammoth bones making magic! Double-crosses and twists!
It's hard to focus on the darkness of the book with all the misdirection going on, but it's there. It's also true that this is a great popcorn book if you want to leave it at that. The setting is rich and well-thought out, the characters are just a little different than you might expect, and the whole magic system is gruesomely fascinating. It's a great start to a series....more
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable, frothy romp through an alternate RegenI received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable, frothy romp through an alternate Regency-era England rife with magic. It reminded me strongly of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but this book moves much faster and I liked it much better.
Our two main characters include Zacharias Wythe, the adopted son of the Sorceror Royal and the new holder of that office now that his father has died. Zacharias is a freed slave, and experiences a lot of disdain and hostility due to his race. However, his conscientiousness and sense of loyalty to his father keep him in this difficult position.
Prunella Gentleman is half English and half Indian. She's been at a girls' school for magic for most of her life- her father left here there shortly before he committed suicide. Magic schools for girls in England primarily teach the girls how NOT to use magic, since magic is seen as too much for women to handle. Oh, unless they're working class women, who use household magics all the time. But that's different, they are not LADIES.
Prunella and Zacharias end up as allies after he comes to give a speech at her school. I don't really want to say much more because of spoilers, but let me say that the plot involves Fairyland, familiars, dragons, sultans, witches, wedding plans, and the fate of English magic.
The book goes to a surprisingly dark place at the end, but really, fairy tales used to be cautionary tales about how to keep your life and freedom if you were unfortunate enough to gain the attention of the Fair Folk, so the author was going back to the dark roots of fairy lore. What can I say? I laughed, I cared, I was quite entertained....more
I received a preview excerpt of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Cat Valente is a great writer. And you'll enjoy this book moI received a preview excerpt of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Cat Valente is a great writer. And you'll enjoy this book most if you are reading it for the writing. It's lush, evocative, and sensual. However, it's difficult to tease a real plot out of it.
The book is done as sort of a mixed media collection of things like gossip columns, film treatments, and journal entries, all alluding in some fashion to the documentary filmmaker Severin Unck and her disappearance. I suppose that the reader is intended to put all these pieces together to form a picture of this young woman and the tragedy of her vanishing, but it was a hard go, at least for me. Other readers may enjoy figuring out what's going on from all the bits that Valente gives out more than I did and be more engaged in the fun of discovery.
The book is set in sort of an alternate history in which all the planets of the solar system are colonized, each with a unique and fascinating environment. However, due to the nature of the material you're reading, there are several set pieces with great imagined visuals, but not much depth past the glitz and romance of the setting description. Severin is filming her documentaries in an alternate Roaring Twenties, with all the gorgeousness of Art Deco and romance of Old Hollywood.
The excerpt I read didn't take me far enough for me to get a clear picture of everything that was going on in this book. Although the writing was amazing, I found myself a bit frustrated with it, and was content to leave it after finishing the excerpt. ...more