I had a great deal of fun with Soulless, the first book in the series, but the sequel left me cold. I may have just read it too soon. These books areI had a great deal of fun with Soulless, the first book in the series, but the sequel left me cold. I may have just read it too soon. These books are essentially junk food - one is an indulgence, but two? That's a recipe for indigestion and regret. And regrets abound, so if you loved this book and don't want me to tarnish your recollection of it, stop now.
I won't go into great detail... partially to avoid spoilers, but mostly to avoid wasting any more energy on this series. (Remember when I said that if you liked this book, you might not want to read this review? Wasn't kidding.) My biggest disappointment was with the characters. In Soulless, Alexia was a refreshing alternative to the waiflike-twentysomething-damsel-in-distress trope, and I loved her for that.
In Changeless, we're subjected to entirely too much of Ivy and Felicity, Alexia's friend and half-sister respectively. Between them, they represent every unflattering female caricature ever. They're just... ugh. A Venn diagram of awful stereotypes. Every scene with them is painful. Worse, Alexia appears to have nothing but contempt for either of them. Carriger couldn't fail the Bechdel test harder if she tried.
And on the topic of contempt, there seems to be a toxic amount of it in Lord and Lady Woolsey's marriage, which bubbles over in the last chapter in a way that guarantees I won't be picking up Parasol Protectorate #3....more
Yes, the protagonist is an eleven-year-old girl, but make no mistake: this is no children's book, and Flavia de Luce is no Encyclopedia Brown. This giYes, the protagonist is an eleven-year-old girl, but make no mistake: this is no children's book, and Flavia de Luce is no Encyclopedia Brown. This girl solves murders, and brilliantly. The audiobook narrator is perfect for Flavia. Precocious, not obnoxious; young, not twee. You can hear Flavia's barely-contained joy as she conducts experiments in her chemical laboratory or examines a recently embalmed murder victim in his casket. Good pacing, interesting characters, an overall good vacation read....more
What I usually love about this genre is the feeling of being swept up in something epic, and propelled toward a breathless finale. I didn't get that hWhat I usually love about this genre is the feeling of being swept up in something epic, and propelled toward a breathless finale. I didn't get that here. The author didn't give me much reason to be interested in any of the main characters. She paints them with a very broad brush; all the bad guys are rapists and the good guys are fierce. Really. "Fierce" is to this book as "sandwich" is to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Once you start to notice, you can't stop.
That said, I'll likely pick up the sequel, Froi of the Exiles. The chapters written from Froi's perspective were a nice change of pace, and sweetly insightful....more
The Magician King begins a few months after the spectacular ending of The Magicians, in which Quentin is rescued from his mundane, non-magical life inThe Magician King begins a few months after the spectacular ending of The Magicians, in which Quentin is rescued from his mundane, non-magical life in the real world by fellow Brakebills alumni and the mysterious Julia. The four are now installed as the kings and queens of Fillory, and Quentin is bored out of his mind by the perfection of it all. He yearns for the next adventure (even considering that the last one was pretty terrifying, and ended in the death of another classmate), and decides that a sea voyage to collect taxes from a tiny island community in a far-flung corner of Fillory might be just the thing.
I couldn't quite get into this, and abandoned it after two chapters. I might pick it up again someday, because I am sincerely curious about Julia's story. We didn't see much of her in the first novel after she flunked the Brakebills entrance exam.
Recommended for fans of fantasy classics (i.e. Narnia), which I am not....more
Another difficult rating to assign. Two stars for too much convoluted exposition... three stars for bringing back my favorite character from the serieAnother difficult rating to assign. Two stars for too much convoluted exposition... three stars for bringing back my favorite character from the series and making him sound exactly like himself ("That wasn't our fault!" "Nobody said it was except me right now to your face!")... and eleven stars for page 35. Which I will leave cryptic, lest I divulge spoilers. So, four stars overall. I'm reluctant to get to specific in this review, because some of the surprises (in this volume and in the whole season) were excellent, and I'd hate to ruin that for anyone.
So generally speaking, the big story arc was a bit clunky and unbalanced, while the character development was brilliant. My disappointments with Buffy Season 8 were pretty much exactly what Joss himself described in his little "letter to the readers" at the end of this volume. Which means that either (a) Joss and I are mental twins, or (b) I've watched way too many of his interviews & commentaries. Probably (b).
Like A Discovery of Witches, this novel features a heroine who starts off interesting but winds up as a little more than a pawn in an excessively convLike A Discovery of Witches, this novel features a heroine who starts off interesting but winds up as a little more than a pawn in an excessively convoluted plot. And she has the requisite mysterious/dangerous love interest, of course. And there's a whole chapter about an oubliette!
If I sound snarky, it's because I'm disappointed. There's so much meaty potential in the premise, and the early chapters promised some decent writing. Neither panned out. Overall, this is readable, but not "stay up until the wee hours of morning because I just can't put it down" readable. I doubt I'll continue with the series.
October "Toby" Daye is a half-human, half-faerie changeling living in modern day San Francisco with her human (and faerie-oblivious) boyfriend and theOctober "Toby" Daye is a half-human, half-faerie changeling living in modern day San Francisco with her human (and faerie-oblivious) boyfriend and their mostly-human kid. The novel begins with a prologue: in 1995, Toby is trying to solve the mysterious kidnapping of a faerie Duke's wife and daughter. She bumbles into a trap set by the perps, and ends up cursed to live as a fish in a koi pond in Golden Gate Park. For fourteen years. Sounds like a good beginning, right? Magic, mystery, intrigue...
We are re-introduced to Toby about 6 months after her de-enchantment. She's itching to get revenge on the people who put the carp in her diem, solve the 14-year-old kidnapping mystery, and reunite with her family.
Except, no. She's not itching to do any of that. She's working the night shift in a convenience store and avoiding everything to do with her former life. She ends up investigating a murder mystery which has no apparent connection to any of the events in the prologue. (And by the way, I don't know how she ever got her private investigator's license, because most of her investigative techniques seem to involve little more than getting knocked unconscious.) Even here, in the urgent pursuit of a killer, there are buckets and buckets of backstory mucking up the plot rather than contributing to it.
Overall, the balance between backstory and this-story felt lopsided to me. Too much tell, not enough show. Recommended only for people who prefer to spell fairy as faerie....more
Finding it very difficult to give this a rating. Here's me, at various stages:
* In the beginning: "Yay -- witches in an archive! Our heroine is intereFinding it very difficult to give this a rating. Here's me, at various stages:
* In the beginning: "Yay -- witches in an archive! Our heroine is interesting: she has moral quandaries, plus she rows, and does original academic research! And oooh, check it out. A hot vampire." * Middle: "When did this turn into a Harlequin romance? And why can't I tear my eyes away, even as they roll?" * Later middle: "Where did my interesting heroine go? Girlfriend hasn't made a decision for herself in at least a hundred pages." * Towards the end: "Wait a minute. This is all exposition. You're just setting stuff up for a sequel. You're not going to build up to any kind of climax, are you, Prof. Harkness?"
Overall, a fun read, but with an aftertaste of disappointment. Characters that had great potential for complexity remained stubbornly two-dimensional. This is the first of a trilogy, and I'm betting that the author has a big plan in mind, so hopefully volumes 2 and 3 will be more... fulfilling.
This was the Free Friday ebook pick of the week from Barnes & Noble. And it's actually something that I wanted to read anyway. Win-win.
Update: AsThis was the Free Friday ebook pick of the week from Barnes & Noble. And it's actually something that I wanted to read anyway. Win-win.
Update: As others have said -- predictable. Which isn't a crime, but there's plenty of better YA lit out there. I did like the pet rock named Petroc, though one good pun isn't enough to make me continue with the series....more
Shades of Grey is the first-person tale of 4 days in the life of Eddie Russett, a 20-year-old resident of Chromatacia. Chromatacia, or The Collective,Shades of Grey is the first-person tale of 4 days in the life of Eddie Russett, a 20-year-old resident of Chromatacia. Chromatacia, or The Collective, is a rigidly controlled society where everyone suffers from varying degrees of color blindness, and your fate is determined by which colors you can see.
It's an imaginative concept, and Fforde creates a fantastically detailed world, ridiculous and horrifying by turns. Unfortunately, he takes his sweet time getting around to the plot. That's a forgivable offense, given that this is the first in a series. Will most certainly read the next one.
Here's a brief essay by the author on the genesis of The Big Idea for this book. It's spoiler-free, unless you are highly spoilerphobic, in which case, don't click the link.
If this were an actual television series, these issues/episodes would have aired during a sweeps month.
Big reveals (particularly -- who/what is TwiligIf this were an actual television series, these issues/episodes would have aired during a sweeps month.
Big reveals (particularly -- who/what is Twilight? What's he/it all about anyway?) make for a lot of exposition. I'm not sure I get and/or buy all of it. I think I'll need to re-read it before the next volume comes out.
The biggest delight for me with this issue is that two of the books ("Turbulence" and the one-shot "Willow: Goddesses and Monsters") were scripted by Joss Whedon. The dialogue between Buffy and Xander in "Turbulence" is pitch-perfect Whedon. True to both characters, and alternately hilarious and heartbreaking.
This sequel to Storm Front begins a few months after the events of that book. Things are tense between Dresden and Murphy, and hubba-hubba between DreThis sequel to Storm Front begins a few months after the events of that book. Things are tense between Dresden and Murphy, and hubba-hubba between Dresden and Rodriguez.
The violence starts early, and escalates to almost-comedic proportions. Honestly, I lost track of the body count after a couple of chapters. Werewolves (or variants thereof) are committing mayhem and murder throughout Chicagoland. The plot is sufficiently twisty, and the final confrontation is exciting enough. As in Storm Front, the author does a good job of lacing just enough tidbits of backstory to make Dresden interesting, without bogging down the story at hand. However, I have a litany of complaints. And since Dresden gets shot (yet again), I shall present them as a hail of bullet (point)s:
* Despite being set in Chicago, this book bears little resemblance to my fair city. Chicago has more than these two neighborhoods: Downtown (which we call the Loop, BTW) and the Gold Coast. And about the Gold Coast, there are no giant wooded estates there! And you cannot drive to a lake house in Michigan, and back, in one evening. And Chicago doesn't smell -- you're mistaking it for Gary. Harrumph. * Jim, did you choose to feature werewolves so that you would have an excuse to refer to your female characters as bitches? Because you do. A lot. * Bad guys don't always have to snarl or growl their dialogue. Sometimes they can just say words.
Even the narration by the fabulous Mr. Marsters can't convince me to continue with this series....more
The least compelling of the series so far. It's unfortunate that our protagonist, Moirin, so often contrasts herself to the Phedre, the heroine of "thThe least compelling of the series so far. It's unfortunate that our protagonist, Moirin, so often contrasts herself to the Phedre, the heroine of "the old tales" (i.e., the first three books in the series). Phedre was a much more interesting character, and every time Moirin mentioned her, I thought to myself: "you're right, kiddo. You can't hold a candle to Phedre."
My problem is this -- destiny is boring. Phedre was interesting because we never knew for sure (even *she* never knew for sure) what she was supposed to do in any given situation. She made choices, and dealt with the consequences. Moirin, on the other hand, has a built-in moral compass (or Destiny-o-Meter) in her diadh-anam. Difficult decision? Moirin consults her diadh-anam. Does the morally correct path fork left or right? Moirin has a vision of the Great Bear Herself walking one direction or another. Does Moirin love Bao? Let's see what the diadh-anam does in Bao's presence. Should Moirin seduce Supporting Character Number 53? If the Bright Lady smiles at the idea, why not?
Also, it was a bit preachy, in the "Moirin is tortured by evil priests" and "Moirin goes to India and catalyzes massive social change" storylines.
Will I read the next one? Of course. But my expectations will be dialed down, way down....more
Not quite as delightful as Dead Until Dark, but that may be because it lacks that "new genre series" smell. Mind-reader Sookie Stackhouse and Civil WaNot quite as delightful as Dead Until Dark, but that may be because it lacks that "new genre series" smell. Mind-reader Sookie Stackhouse and Civil War veteran-slash-vampire Bill Compton are still an item, and there's a new murder mystery in Bon Temps... although that storyline gets shunted aside very early in the book, to make room for an entirely different plot, wherein Sookie is summoned to Dallas to help find a kidnapped vampire. Which she does, and then returns to Bon Temps, where conveniently, no progress has been made in the murder investigation, so there's still time for her to solve that -- with the hilarious and creepy assistance of Eric the vampire.
Spoiler warning: the two mysteries are completely unrelated. Which makes the whole book feel as if Harris took two half-formed ideas and shoehorned them together. Reads flimsily (if flimsily were a word), but seems like a good setup for the next book in the series....more
I thought I had read this before, but clearly I haven't -- I've only watched the 1987 film version a gazillion times during the public television pledI thought I had read this before, but clearly I haven't -- I've only watched the 1987 film version a gazillion times during the public television pledge drives of my youth.
Lovely. Though at some points I really wanted to reach between the pages and smack little Davy upside the head....more
I've only seen one episode of True Blood, but it was enough to spark my interest in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Truth be told, I wasn't impressed byI've only seen one episode of True Blood, but it was enough to spark my interest in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Truth be told, I wasn't impressed by the first couple of chapters. It read like fanfic. Mediocre fanfic. BUT... either it got better halfway through, or I took off my snob hat, because I ended up enjoying this immensely.
Overall: a fun mishmash of horror/mystery/romance silliness. The literary equivalent of cotton candy....more