Mildly amusing, and somewhat enjoyable, although it seems Mr Lodge couldn't decide whether he wanted to write a novel or an academic essay, occasionalMildly amusing, and somewhat enjoyable, although it seems Mr Lodge couldn't decide whether he wanted to write a novel or an academic essay, occasionally slipping into dry lecture mode. It was nice to read a book about the difficulties faced by the hard of hearing, and I could definitely relate to Desmond - especially in the party scenes. I share his frustrations, although perhaps he needs to learn to laugh at himself a little more, and then he wouldn't be so 'humiliated'.
As much as I enjoyed this novel, I'm not sure I would have had the same reaction had I not been hard of hearing. ...more
I went to this book in mourning after finishing the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, hoping (irrationally so) for some sort of continuation (even tI went to this book in mourning after finishing the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, hoping (irrationally so) for some sort of continuation (even though this book was written first), a thread of that love that I could hang on to - for just one book longer! Of course, that didn't happen. That's not, though, to say that this was in any way a bad book - it was just...different - like a rebound relationship after spending years with another, trying to recapture some of that lost happiness only to find the pieces don't fit quite so well.
Had I read this before the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (DOSAB), I would probably have loved it a whole lot more, as sad as that is to say. Blackbringer is a lovely tale of a fearsome young faerie who fights demons and argues with gods. She's sprightly and fun and endearing. The story, too, is exciting and keeps you reading through the night. Dreamdark is a magical place and Taylor's beautiful descriptions are enough to actually put you there, a tiny faerie yourself, hiding in the trees and watching the action unfold.
It is most definitely aimed at a younger audience than DOSAB though, and that shined through. Also, it's clear to see Taylor's development as a writer from Blackbringer to DOSAB. Some characters have lent themselves through all the books too (view spoiler)[I'm thinking primarily of Batch in this book and Razgut in DOSAB (hide spoiler)]. I hate to compare the two books like this, it somehow devalues Blackbringer, but perhaps my need to do this is testament to just how amazing DOSAB really is.
Most of all, know this: read this wonderful little tale, there is much love and entertainment to be found here, but read it before you embark on DOSAB!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Another enjoyable edition of Blade's escapades and I'm very much looking forward to reading the third book. Is it just me though, or is Blade actuallyAnother enjoyable edition of Blade's escapades and I'm very much looking forward to reading the third book. Is it just me though, or is Blade actually invincible? He's certainly a survivor......more
An enjoyable book that could have been so much better. The concept of the silo is interesting but the why and how of it all is only very briefly touchAn enjoyable book that could have been so much better. The concept of the silo is interesting but the why and how of it all is only very briefly touched on, whereas other aspects are talked about in too much depth. I would be intrigued to know more about how and why the silo was started, and perhaps a little less about Holston and his wife. Also, I wanted to know more about how the silo worked, especially the vague marriage lottery concept that was regularly mentioned but not fully explained, and how people fit into their roles and careers.
The actual story didn't really being until around 100pages in, especially as the blurb proclaims the book to be "Jules' story". I have since read that this was originally self-published as a series of short stories and novellas and that certainly explains a lot - why there is a fair bit of repetition at the beginning of each section, why the sections don't fit together as fluidly as they should but rather, seem shunted together, it even explains why Jules took so long to enter her own story. When Howey decided to publish this as a single book, perhaps he should have put some effort into smoothing out these seams.
I had actually assumed that Hugh Howey was a woman, given his sweeping and unfortunate generalisations about "those distinctly male characteristics", but seeing photographs of him, it turns out not.
Definitely an interesting read that is worth the time invested - it's just a shame that a little more time wasn't invested in the making. ...more
What a frustrating little book - and one that should have ended 40 pages earlier!
The Thirteenth Tale tells the story of Margaret Lea, small-time writWhat a frustrating little book - and one that should have ended 40 pages earlier!
The Thirteenth Tale tells the story of Margaret Lea, small-time writer and book-seller who is employed to write the biography of prolific writer Vida Winter - a life story that has never been told before and that is full of twists and turns.
And it's frustrating. The reason for that is this: the book is told in a duality - Margaret's own story running alongside Vida's. It's not the duality in itself that is the problem - many extremely successful tales are told in such a way, but rather, it's the fact that the two are poles apart in terms of...well...anything.
Vida Winter's story is compelling - it pulled me along to the end of the book, trailing behind the latest story segment. Miss Winter herself is compelling - a character who is likeable and mysterious, a character I want to know more about, a character with whom I would love to sit next to the fire with. It's this part of the book that kept me up past my bedtime, had my wondering through the work day, and eager to pick up where I left off when I got home.
Margaret Lea, on the other hand, is irritating, prissy, and pathetic. Her story is dull as dish water and completely unbelievable, her character is horrid and I found myself groaning and huffing when Margaret's life interfered with the story. I found it impossible to tell her age - at some points she seemed a lonely old spinster who has wasted her life and at others, she seemed like an angsty and slightly loopy teenager in the throws of her first adventure. I didn't like her at either age! And was it just me or did she have more than a few screws loose? (view spoiler)[Am I to assume that since I can also see my reflection in the window, that I, too, have a dead twin?? (hide spoiler)]
If it wasn't for Vida Winter and the story of Angelfield House, I would have left Margaret Lea wallowing in whatever it is she was wallowing in but Winter kept me going. And as for the end...ugh! I know that Setterfield had made it clear throughout the book that she likes endings all tied up with pretty little bows but really? The way she sums up the life of the rest of the characters in a few words at the end is ridiculous - just as Vida says when Margaret asks what happened to Hester - they are sideline characters so who cares? It's not their story. And as for the little (view spoiler)[love story between Margaret and Dr. Clifton hinted at near the end (hide spoiler)] - completely unnecessary. Really, the book should have died when (view spoiler)[Vida Winter died (hide spoiler)].
An enjoyable little book on the whole - as long as you stop reading on page 430. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The brother to whom Pandora has always looked up to comes to visit - and he is more than twice the man he used to be, literally. This book tells the tThe brother to whom Pandora has always looked up to comes to visit - and he is more than twice the man he used to be, literally. This book tells the tale of how a sister reacts to discovering her older brother is suddenly grossly overweight, and Shriver's discussion of the topic is thought-provoking.
Although she can come across as a little preachy at times, with her occasionally over-wrought and long-winded dialectics, Shriver's novels take important topics and discuss them with a harshness and a starkness that can only possibly come from honesty and candour. A refreshing approach, in which Shriver is broaching themes and truths that perhaps most people would shy away from. Big Brother is no different. The debates about why people gain weight and what the possible solutions are are both sharp and considerate - she looks at the situation from all angles and comes to some satisfying conclusions, as well as some scary 'what if's. She doesn't molly-coddle, but she doesn't entirely berate either.
In terms of the tale itself, it's an interesting one but Pandora's family unit is uncomfortably reminiscent of Shep Knacker's family in So Much for That - one hard working, successful business owner with a partner who has been given the opportunity to follow their artist passions to little financial gain. A big event throws the family into disarray, and ultimatums are given. It seems almost as though Shriver has fallen across a good framework around which she can base her philosophical discussions of social issues - and it works for the most part, but I imagine that it would get very old very quickly. As much as it is the philosophy and the debate that makes her books so interesting - and so successful, there needs to be the draw of a new tale if you want to wrap it up in fiction. Otherwise it'll become dry and stale, which would be a tremendous shame, because Shriver really is a tremendous writer, with a tremendous talent for holding a mirror up to the things that perhaps we don't want to see. ...more
Irritating, egotistical, London-centric claptrap that prefers to employ the 'sledge-hammer' approach to moral-telling. Lacking in subtlety and stockedIrritating, egotistical, London-centric claptrap that prefers to employ the 'sledge-hammer' approach to moral-telling. Lacking in subtlety and stocked full of clichés, this book is great if you're a Londoner and this is the first YA urban fantasy that you've read. Otherwise...ugh.
Okay, so maybe that's a little harsh.
Pollock has got an amazing imagination and some of the imagery is fantastic. The characters are great and diverse, although sometimes a little confusing. It's like Pollock thought of this amazing and magical place, full of weird and wonderful characters but then couldn't think of an equally great story, so bent it to fit the standard urban fantasy tale and forced a few morals in there to make it mean something.
I'm disappointed by my disappointment but it promised so much. Pollock is clearly a great writer with a wonderfully inventive mind - he just needs to steer clear of the clichés and over-told tales. ...more
Harkness has a talent for weaving tales together in way that is reminiscent of the tale itself. The narrative is thick and luxurious whilst the characHarkness has a talent for weaving tales together in way that is reminiscent of the tale itself. The narrative is thick and luxurious whilst the characters are deep and almost touchable. I got a little frustrated for the first 100-or-so pages that seemed to focus solely on the romance between Diana and Matthew, in fear that the entire book would continue in the vein and thus, lose it's excitement and pull. I worried for nothing, however, for as soon as Harkness got into her stride, the tale flowed out in a way that has made me eager to get my hands on the third book. Alas, I shall have to wait a little longer......more
The Book of Life is a fast-paced and thrilling conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy that was almost as enjoyable as the first two novels. Full of magicThe Book of Life is a fast-paced and thrilling conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy that was almost as enjoyable as the first two novels. Full of magic, mayhem, and a chase to the end, it's hard not to get caught up in the story.
I've read reviews about how much the characters change and I agree that by the end of the third book, Diana is like a completely different person but in some ways, that makes sense. Although not based on a teenager, the trilogy is almost a coming of age story for Diana, wherein she discovers who and what she is. She is bound to be completely different by the end. Other characters changes are more difficult to explain away (apart from all the major life events that they go through) but are also less prominent.
I was amused by Harkness' desperate attempt to keep equality throughout the novel, which is remarkably difficult when you base an entire trilogy around a patriarchal system but she did it well enough, making Diana as an equally important family member as Matthew. Why, she even has Marcus (view spoiler)[allow women into the Knights of Lazarus! (hide spoiler)]. How Miriam hadn't fought for that years ago, given the strong and forbidding character that she is, I do not know.
The book is not all great though.
At some points, there are so many characters it is almost impossible to keep up with who is who. The only thing to do is to let go of trying to work out who is who and hope it all comes together in the end - it sort of does (or at least, not knowing doesn't cause any major problems).
I also found myself zoning out through the soppy love sections and especially during the long-winded birthing process. And the jumps between narrator? Frustrating and unnecessary. It almost reads like Harkness couldn't decide whether she wasn't to write from Diana's POV or not.
There are lots of loose ends that aren't tied up too.
(view spoiler)[ - The whole deal with the Book of Life was not satisfactorily dealt with. What was in it? Why? Who made it? If the rest of the world were so desperate to get their hands on it, why are they okay to just sit back and accept that the book is now part of Diana?
-What happened with Corra? Why did she feel so trapped - she was a familiar, she was where she was supposed to be. This plot point wasn't dealt with and I'm not even sure what the point of Corra was at all to be honest.
-How did Satu manage to hide the fact that she was a weaver for so long, given that we were already told that weavers can't cast other people's spells?
-How did the witch with vampire/witch lineage manage to hide that for so long, given that she and her family have lived such long lives - surely the vampires would have noticed that and wondered why this witch family had such fantastic longevity?
-Since Benjamin had already fathered a child, why didn't he come out about it sooner? Why was he only doing so much in apparent reaction to Matthew/Diana?
-If Matthew walked into Benjamin's trap purposely, why did he let himself get so beat up? Why didn't he come up with a better plan than that?
-Diana get so drained by the use of magic sometimes but at others, seems to use her magic like it's nothing.
-What the hell does Diana look like by the end of the book? Is she going to have to use a disuising spell forever to cover up all the crazy tattoos, shadows, scars, the tree coming out of her head, and the numbers whirring through her eyes?
If you want to read this book because you want to enjoy the flow of narrative, because you want to visit the characters again, because you want a book full of magic and ancient texts and intrigue, then great. But if you want answers to all the questions that you had through the first two books, and if you want everything tied up with a pretty bow on top, then you are probably going to be disappointed. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I hate clichés like 'tour de force' and 'epic' but sometimes, they are the thoughts that come to mind. This is the perfect case in point. Seriously, wI hate clichés like 'tour de force' and 'epic' but sometimes, they are the thoughts that come to mind. This is the perfect case in point. Seriously, what's not to love about witches and ancient manuscripts? Even the love story didn't aggravate me like they usually do. In fact, Diana and Matthew's love was an integral part of the over-arching story and wasn't 'over done' at all.
This is an excellent book that pulls you along with a force that's almost enough to take your breath away - and I wasn't ready for it to end (although in this respect, I feel somewhat cheated, as a chunk of the back pages are dedicated to bonus material).
If you love fantasy and old books, if you like interesting characters and stories that are forceful and exciting, this is the book for you. ...more
This book reminded me of two things: how much I hated school and how much I like David Mitchell. Far from his best, Black Swan Green is still a light,This book reminded me of two things: how much I hated school and how much I like David Mitchell. Far from his best, Black Swan Green is still a light, enjoyable, coming of age novel. Mitchell has an exceptional way with words and he certainly captures the trials and tribulations of high school. ...more
Oddly melancholy and strangely light; I couldn't help but feel disappointed in both Firmin and the book as a whole. Such a great concept, lovely narraOddly melancholy and strangely light; I couldn't help but feel disappointed in both Firmin and the book as a whole. Such a great concept, lovely narrative style, fantastic character, slipping in many great references, but it just...it didn't quite get there for me. Firmin's not quite meeting his potential is somewhat mirrored by the book as a whole. And I found myself strangely questioning the fallibility of Firmin's tale, too.
That said, it's an enjoyable light read. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. ...more
Shep Knacker has worked hard all his life, following rules and being the good-guy, saving money for an escape to the Afterlife in a third world countrShep Knacker has worked hard all his life, following rules and being the good-guy, saving money for an escape to the Afterlife in a third world country. Upon his decision to leave, his wife drops a bombshell - she has cancer.
Shriver certainly knows how to rip your heart out and throw it at the wall, making you feel not only for the characters in this novel but also for a possible prospective future for yourself.
Although not perfect, with some odd plot lines (Jackson being one - heart-wrenching and even gut-wrenching, but still a little far-fetched in comparison to the stark reality of the rest of the novel), it is the first novel to ever bring a genuine tear to my eye. I'm usually so cold-hearted with books, films, anything fictional (it's made up, after all) but this cut so deeply and so closely that I couldn't help but do the thing I usually (and perhaps unfairly) sneer at.
It wasn't just the cancer that did it either, but the injustice of the system about which Shriver rants, the fear of laying on your deathbed and regretting you life - regretting that you hadn't made the most of it, the fear of having to watch someone you love die in unending pain, the fear of being unable to handle it and not giving them the attention they deserve. It's a horrible book, and yet it's a brilliant book - even a little uplifting at the end.
And I concur with the Literary Review quote that is splashed on the cover - it most certainly does make me appreciate our flailing NHS. I agree that our healthcare system is far from perfect, but being left with the alternative is unbearable and for all those who sneer at the NHS, I urge you to read this book. ...more