I read it three years ago, and what I remember now is that I liked the cover art more than the story. It was a good story, but it didn't work for me aI read it three years ago, and what I remember now is that I liked the cover art more than the story. It was a good story, but it didn't work for me at all. Probably because I was not a young adult. ...more
I am slightly embarrassed, because I liked it. Anyway, I am not blind, and the book is far from perfect. The most glaring flaw – POV is jumping betweeI am slightly embarrassed, because I liked it. Anyway, I am not blind, and the book is far from perfect. The most glaring flaw – POV is jumping between characters sometimes several times in the same scene – which is very annoying, even if I wasn’t trained by now to pick it up. Occasionally I had to come back and read a sentence again to figure out whose POV it is now. You get the picture. Then, the author occasionally goes overboard with descriptions and expositions, but I have to note, that it is not jarring most of the times.
Then, the situation is ridiculous and unbelievable. But, here goes praise: once I turned on me suspension of disbelief and dived into the story, I stopped caring about it. Because here goes what Amanda Brown did well. She wrote characters I liked and cared about – even if they started rather stereotyped. She dropped these characters into improbable situation and let them find their way in it. And it was nice. I loved that protagonists didn’t have a great physical attraction form the first sight, that they didn’t think about it at all, but made each other laugh and learn, and shared a companionship instead. And here is another thing I love: I think that the author has a talent for irony, and generally a god eye for funny. She mocks villains and secondary characters, and settings, and conventions, but she also mocks her protagonists without making them unsympathetic. That was what I loved in her first book, “Legally Blonde”. It is more ironic, and less fluffy and victorious than the movie, but the way the author pokes fun at Elle Woods, while sympathizing with her, is very dear to me. ...more
I am reading Wilkie Collins. Again. The Woman in White. And I love it again. I am quite fond of Walter Hartright, and I love, love, Marian Halcombe. SI am reading Wilkie Collins. Again. The Woman in White. And I love it again. I am quite fond of Walter Hartright, and I love, love, Marian Halcombe. She is one of the most interesting female characters I know of. Ever. And what a description, and what a role physical beauty plays here. We meet with her turning back to the Walter – and to the reader. And with Walter we admire her back, her stature, her body, and then she turns, and… her face isn’t up to contemporary beauty standards. Oops.
She mostly isn’t feminine enough in her expressions. Then she starts talking and all ugliness is forgotten. Until, of course, Laura appears, the vision of a perfect beauty, not perfect in its features, but in its influence over a man. I don’t find Laura interesting per ce. I like her, she is a sweetie, but she is always an object – of love, greed, villainy, or nobility. She is like Irene from the Forsyte Saga, slipping through other lives, influencing other lives, but never acting themselves.
Beauty does mean a lot in our first impressions – whether we admit it or not. But the second impressions help us with a touch of reality.
And I loved Walter in the fateful meeting on the road to London with the Woman in White. How sincerely perplexed he is! How he is trying to justify himself in helping the stranger!
It is smart, funny, and about punctuation! What else a girl may need? (well, lots of stuff, but that’s another topic.)
Seriously, as much as I love fiIt is smart, funny, and about punctuation! What else a girl may need? (well, lots of stuff, but that’s another topic.)
Seriously, as much as I love fiction, I often feel more passionate about non-fiction books on languages and history. It was this way since I was a child. I wouldn’t trade my fairytales on my encyclopedia, but the fairytales were a staple reading, whereas encyclopedias were a new magical, enticing world of knowledge about Stuff. I know a lot of Stuff since then, I’ve always been interested in Stuff that is hardly applicable in life.
One of my favourite books was A Book About Language – translated from English, though, of course I cannot name its author now. It was telling a lot of fancy stuff about different languages, and alphabets, and hieroglyphs, and smoke signals. The history of writing, the curious facts, the games with words – and thanks to the translator, appropriate examples with Russian language were included along with the English ones.
Lynne Truss doesn’t not explain every punctuation rule in English language, instead she talks about history of punctuation, its meaning, its changes through the time – together with language changes. She muses on prospects for the future of punctuation, rants about common misuse and indifference to the rules, overviews the proper usage, and she does it all in a wonderfully witty manner that makes me want to quote the whole book here. ...more
I liked it for the atmosphere, and the idea that is at the base of it – that at the edges of our world exist everything else, and you can find it by tI liked it for the atmosphere, and the idea that is at the base of it – that at the edges of our world exist everything else, and you can find it by turning another street, and that ships are sailing into the sky to go to strange places where time and space bleed together. ...more
I liked it a lot, but I expected to like it much more. Unreasonable expectations? May be.
It is strange – reading a book everyone around read long agoI liked it a lot, but I expected to like it much more. Unreasonable expectations? May be.
It is strange – reading a book everyone around read long ago and loves. Well, it is never every one really, but enough to pick up the general attitude.
War for the Oaks is a wonderful book and I thoroughly enjoyed it, plus it is the urban fantasy, which at this point is my favorite subgenre.
But there were “buts”. ;)
The heroine is a great fun. It is hard not to like Eddie – but this is the problem, too. Why is she so lovable, where are her shortcomings? She doesn’t leave an impression of a Mary Sue, but she doesn’t feel to me like a real person. She is just a little bit unbelievably cool. Or am I too critical?
The plot itself seems rather predictable – or every plot after certain amount of books read seems so? I can’t say what will happen, but I can guess what kind of event will happen and how it all will work with great certainty. It is not always a bad thing – I absolutely loved the whole development of love between Eddie and the phouka, and even though I could guess, it didn’t spoil the fun.
Oh, and the phouka is beyond adorable. ;)
On the other hand, I quite loved Willy as well – he possess two qualities that I value: desire to learn and curiosity and the ability to change. That’s why I was didn’t like that he died – he just started to change – and I would love to see the progress.
His death brought me thoughts about the characters’ death in general. The death in fiction is always happens by the author’s design, even if the author is following the story and its demands. How the death in fiction may be written (filmed) so it wouldn’t feel contrived? Sometimes it happens – death doesn’t necessarily feels natural, but I don’t think about author, I think about characters, and sometimes I keep thinking about the author, and what the authors means by it – which create the impression of the death for the sake of plot, not the natural part of the story.
For the positive example I can refer to The Sandman – there we enjoy Death’s company ;)
The clothes are described with amazing precision, and the eighties’ clothes sound so funny!
The music is confusing, too. I wish I could hear it – the music on paper is too complicated, it is something I cannot quite imagine, and for the most of the book I felt the characters are speaking a strange language that I should have understood but cannot. ...more
First time I read it at school, when I was sixteen, and I had a vague memory of something slow, sad, and calm – with the wonderful poems at the end. IFirst time I read it at school, when I was sixteen, and I had a vague memory of something slow, sad, and calm – with the wonderful poems at the end. I remembered this poems much better than the actual book, and recently, having found the book in the library (in Russian) I grabbed and started reading.
It is funny how me reading habits change since my fandom involvement – and reading reviews of books, TV shows, movies, and writing the reviews myself. I notice so many things, and I get annoyed by many more things – or may be I can pinpoint what I am being annoyed with.
So, Doctor Zhivago: I was annoyed with many things: I was annoyed with the wandering point of view, with constant telling instead of showing, with the fact that many characters, supposedly important, seemed shadows, not people (what kind of person was Tonya? What was about Yuri’s uncle, Nikolai Nikolaevich? There was supposedly deep friendship between Yuri, Michael Gordon and Tonya – and I couldn’t see it and so on.) All the Fresh Deep Thoughts bored me to death, what was the turning point of Yuri’s attitude towards the revolution? Now he likes it, now he doesn’t.
In the second part of the book people annoyed me - mostly Zhivago and Lara- with their actions, lack of actions, and big pronouncements…
And yet I liked the book – again, and I liked it a lot. Why is that? I can be annoyed with this and that – and then, the sudden turn of phrase, the words are put together so right that everything comes alive and I believe in every word, and forgive all the annoyances I was harboring.
I love all the long descriptions – cities big and small, random people caught into the story, storms, nights, springs, wolves and the rowan-tree – all this is so bright and clear, and alive, so crispy-cold and sweet as the water from the well, so loving and magnificent that I forget the supposedly main characters for it.
Somewhere in the middle it came to me – the realization - that this book is not a novel.
Not a novel at all: it is a song - slow, sad, and calm, even if events it is describing are as far from calm as possible.
And the figure of the Author – behind the text, but ever so often intruding in the story with his notes, explanations, references of the future events and pronounced judgments suddenly is looking like a half-mythological Storyteller /Bard/ Boyan.
Another thing I noticed – how I cannot reconcile the fictional Moscow there (and in other books) with Moscow I know – I know all the places where the action goes on, but I cannot imagine the characters on the streets I walked. Well, with all these years the streets are different indeed, but still, the existence of several unconnected Moscows in my head is confounding.
Oh, and the poems – as wonderful as ever. I manage to restrain myself from reading them before finishing the previous chapters, and I can see how beautifully done this structure is – the characters are gone, but they continue in the poetry now and forever. And all the talk about how talented Zhivago is stopped being talk, and the previous chapter suddenly got a new colour as I cast Zhivago as hamlet and Gordon and Dudorov as Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.
One more thing – as much as I like the poems it is mind-boggling to figure out who wrote them? Zhivago? Pasternak writing as if he were Zhivago? Pasternak as himself? Poetry seems so personal, so the mimicry I find impossible, and the idea of writing perfectly good poems written by the fictional character is unsettling. On the other hand, I’ve never tried it – may be it is not?...more
I have very mixed feelings about it. It is the type of quirky fantasy with a bit of romance that I should fall in love with. I didn't, and I feel uncoI have very mixed feelings about it. It is the type of quirky fantasy with a bit of romance that I should fall in love with. I didn't, and I feel uncomfortable about it, as it failed me even though it didn't owe me anything, but I am still annoyed.
1)a strong sense of deja-vu made me realize that the heroine, Alexia, is a brain twin of Amelia Peabody (of Elizabeth Peters' Egyptology mysteries.) The Britishness, the proud spinsterhood (that don't survive the end of the first book), the sharp mind, the assertiveness, the lack of conventional beauty... I adore Amelia Peabody and her husband Emerson, but I am not sure how many of her I need for my enjoyment. It has just occurred to me that both Amelia Peabody and Alexia are literary descendants of brilliant Marian Halcombe of Woman in White. Now, that's one lady whose adventures I'd love to follow...
Alexia and Lord Maccon work together as a romantic pair, but they felt to me kind of “meh”. They are probably the homage to Peabody and Emerson, but I feel that they are clones, and I'd rather re-read “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters in the fifth time.
2)My major gripe is with the soul stuff. The book is called “Soulless”, and I kind of expected more exploration of the matter. What is the soul, what does it mean in that Universe? It is said that Alexia doesn't have a soul, which she was told at 6, and she read Greek philosophers to acquaint herself with the moral implications of that fact. But the thing is – it all falls empty, a tantalizing promise that never gets fulfilled. Alexia has a pronounced effect on supernatural beings, an effect that is attributed to her lack of soul. Except this is the only effect, and I reasonably suspect that either the soul here is something different from I am used to consider it, or the basic theories of her world are wrong, and Alexia does indeed have a soul, and her soulless effect is caused by something else. It might be explored further in the next books, but I was waiting for more soul stuff from the book that is called Soulless. After all, it would have been interesting whether good manners can be a person's moral compass. How love would look like without the soul in that world? What is the soul, anyway? Those are all questions I asked myself when I picked up the book, but I didn't find them – not even the questions themselves there.
3)Reading went much slower than I expected, and at the culmination I was frankly bored. Not a good sign.
4)I love omnipresent point of view and the narrator's voice separate from the author and the characters, being reasonably old-fashioned and raised on 18-19 century novels. I applaud the return of the narrator to modern stories, even if it is done to simulate the old time feel. But. But there is one giant difficulty: I need to love that narrator and don't want to smack it. Here so far it feels too twee, and I mostly grow annoyed. I still hope to befriend it as soon as I get used to the tone.
5)What did I like? I liked the world, the atmosphere, the new and different take on vampires and werewolves, and their effect on human history and politics. I liked the scientific ideas of the supernatural. The world, of course, pretty much didn't exist beyond British Isles and North America, but that goes with the mores of the time, and a topic for the following books, anyway. I wrote previously that I was tired of vampires, and I still am, but I wasn't here. The ecology of supernatural beings among humans was very different and very interesting from what we are used to.
So, when all is said and done, my resume is that it is why it fails for me personally, I can recommend it for my friends, or for any lover of romance and Victorian fantasy. I won't guaranteed that you fall in love with it – I didn't, but it is a glimpse into a curious world. I will be checking out the second book as soon as I dog through my immediate to-read pile.
I loved the dragons and their world – strange and different, and amazing, and makes the kind of sense that is not our sense. It also has a beautiful fI loved the dragons and their world – strange and different, and amazing, and makes the kind of sense that is not our sense. It also has a beautiful flow, making it a perfect comfort read story....more