I love Tana French's books. They're a little more police-intensive than anything else I typically read, but the Irish-spin seems to water-down the copI love Tana French's books. They're a little more police-intensive than anything else I typically read, but the Irish-spin seems to water-down the cop talk and make it more of a mystery. The bureaucracy of cop life is certainly there, but it comes and goes, secondary to the plot.
I also find myself going through a love and hate relationship with the change in characters. I get very attached to the narrators, and each of French's books switches them up. In one book someone's a narrator, in the next they're a passing person at the police station. It's fun to revisit them, but I also find myself nostalgic for them, missing the point of view from a previous book.
Because I'm a woman, formerly a school girl, I particularly enjoyed this book. French frequently uses a male narrator despite being a woman, and while she does a nice job; with the exception of Wally Lamb, most writers seem to work best within their own gender. While the Secret Place's partial narrator is male, the book changes back and forth between Moran and four teenage girls, Selena, Julia, Becca and former book narrator Detective Frank Mackey's daughter, Holly. The girls are all boarders at an elite school, St. Kildas, where they've created a world of their own fit for the saints they learn about. There's a power in their friendship and also their innocence, and they work hard to maintain their closeness, shutting almost everyone and everything else, out.
But, when a student from a male boarding school is found murdered on St. Kilda's grounds everything becomes muddled. Where the foursome involved? Cold cases detective Stephen Moran is brought in along with Antoinette Conway, who previously worked on the case (and yielded no results).
Stories begin to unravel and Conway and Moran learn to work together, all while readers are permitted a keyhole-view in to the secret lives of schoolgirls.
It was a good who-done-it, but the real glory of the book was French's ability to recreate the powerful few years of mid-adolescence, when hysteria, trust, love and hormones are all so poignant a part of life you can't imagine things will ever change. French creates a fantastic look back, including one scene between young Holly and her mother, reminiscing about her own days at St. Kilda's and the friendship's she forged and thought were unbreakable.
The mystery itself is not without a few...holes, but I did love the trip way back. I remember the feeling of power that goes with 15, the certainty that it all must matter more than it did, and knowing that I would always feel as strongly as I did right then. It's impossible to hold on to that intensity, but it was nice to visit--just for a bit. ...more
Gabaldon is certainly into a winning format with these novellas. It's like an outlander comic--a way to never have to fully go cold turkey while she sGabaldon is certainly into a winning format with these novellas. It's like an outlander comic--a way to never have to fully go cold turkey while she spends years penning new, big books.
I wasn't as into "a wind on all..." It just didn't have the right tone somehow, but this novella was on target. Joan was a relatable, strong very-gabaldon character I've come to anticipate. (It amazes me that while I despise Laoghaire MacKenzie she becomes more likable based on Joan and Masali).
Meanwhile, Michael Murray is a Jamie/roger-type emotional but strong male lead, so together it's very much a set up a la Jamie and Claire, yet still it's own.
Paris was also fun. I missed it after dragonfly, and certainly the count and Monsieur Raymond were all welcome back.now I just need the sequel to the novella, please. ...more
If I could turn into a Victorian lady from reading enough historical mysteries, I'd have done it already. Having wrapped up the latest Outlander bookIf I could turn into a Victorian lady from reading enough historical mysteries, I'd have done it already. Having wrapped up the latest Outlander book I decided I needed a new historical series. This set has many, many books and is in the Victorian era, two major perks. I'm amazed I hadn't found them before.
These books are the perfect blend of historical relevance (if you like that sort of thing), mystery and also a nice, engaging group of characters--very timeless and colloquial rather than old fashioned (I want the setting Victorian, not the writing, if that makes sense).
The character Charlotte is a timeless, strong, intelligent and unyielding heroine, and to follow her through the last dregs of adolescence while simultaneously dealing with a mystery was a great experience.
Likewise, inspector Pitt rounded out the historical depiction of the middle classes. While perhaps sit wasn't as intricate in terms of description or romanticism as it might have been (I could have sa bored a few more dress details, descriptions of homes or physical appearances,) it was a wonderful read.
Plus, midway through I fell info Anne Perry/Juliet Hulme real murder and it became even more gothic. On to calander sq....more
It's wonderful because I love these books, characters and their histories. Truly, there could be no driving plot at all and I'd love to just be in theIt's wonderful because I love these books, characters and their histories. Truly, there could be no driving plot at all and I'd love to just be in their world. But if I'm honest, this was the first one that felt hurried and a little...deadlined. A few of the characters fell off near the end (which didn't seem like it could possibly be the end, as it rapidly approached. Too much was unresolved).
The side plots: Brianna, Roger; John and William Grey; Fergus and Masali; Hal and Ben Grey (Amaranthia)...they all just evaporated to an ending that seemed more suitable for a chapter than the novel.
And while in the first to admit it's cruel and unfair how long it takes to pen a good novel verses how fast I can read them, I think all in all i'd have gladly waited another year just to get a little more.
But Gabaldon does have her novellas and things, so perhaps we'll end up with more soon.
As always, what was there was beautiful, fun, accurate and a delight. Just slightly hasty....more
I read these in about a week. And I loved them, though in the grand scheme of some young adult series this one is less complex and thought outNooooo.
I read these in about a week. And I loved them, though in the grand scheme of some young adult series this one is less complex and thought out than some--but certainly still great.
And, while I don't want to spoil endings, the ending is what I'll always remember. It's not out of the realm of Roth's world to kill off important people, but I felt like the "end point" became too pivotal for the good of the plot. Roth chose just this book for multiple p.o.v., which made it convenient for a major voice to...abruptly cease. And it did. A little unnecessarily in my opinion, but since I'm not writing hit trilogies at 25 who really cares what I think?
I Found myself a little heart broken and underwhelmed, skimming the last chapters despite drinking in most of the material. Personally it was a depressing conclusion to a ravishing, intense, action-oriented series that became a little too hard-knocks and preachy, but IF od been capable of creating such material at a young age is probably have thought it needed that type of conclusion too. ...more
A few days ago I heard an author being interviewed on the radio. One thought he expressed has been on the edge of my brain—the feeling that, as a chilA few days ago I heard an author being interviewed on the radio. One thought he expressed has been on the edge of my brain—the feeling that, as a child who read, he often felt as though the real world wasn’t rich enough (more or less he said this) and it was some how easier to go to television and novels than attempt to make real life come anywhere close to the world laid out in fiction. Of course for movies we expect it, though I’ve long taken the gentle hues and flower trellises of “Father of the Bride” and other feel-good films with great styling over the gritty and important films that generally take Oscars; but books are a bit different. Books require more. As the ultimate escape, they engage visuals, yes, but also tastes, smells and there are plot requirements I can generally let slide in my Nora Ephram-ish “You’ve Got Mail-“isms.
I’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book prior to “The Ocean at the End of the Lane—“ but it was as perfect an escape as they come. Since having my baby nearly a year ago I haven’t felt the real pull of a book—the inner need to remove yourself from the suddenly garish bright and filth of real life and just slide back into the comfortable perfection and solitude of a book, until this one.
Like Rebecca, the narrator remains nameless throughout, but it hardly seems an issue. A frame story, our narrator starts as a slightly sad and defeated middle-aged man. Back home in Surrey for a funeral (we’re never told who’s), he mentions a marriage that eroded until it at last, broke, children who’ve grown and people he’s lost touch with completely. Not wanting to rush, he’s driving (as the nostalgic so often do), by landmarks of his childhood and remembering what happened to him as a seven year-old.
And here is where the magic that I’ve found to be Gaiman begins. Because, you see, it isn’t so much the plot that matters, it’s the state-of-mind—a world of perfect richness unfolds, and, like a mermaid being remoistened by the sea and coming to, Gaiman’s narrator at last begins to remember, truly remember.
We’re introduced first to the narrator’s childhood home, his tiny-sized sink belonging to him alone, and a gas fireplace in his bedroom of a rambling house he was later to loose—as he has so many things. As is crucial to childhood memory stories, the parents are largely cumbersome shadows on the outlines of memories, entirely absent save a few disturbances and intrusions, and the food is opulent and simple in the most miraculous way imaginable. Oats and cream with dollaps of honey comb, fresh pies on worn tables in white washed kitchens, and perhaps best, a family of what might be on the outskirts of witchcraft, but certainly wise women with a flair for magic and a knowledge of a much larger world untouched by the mundane modern-antics we all require some relief from now and again.
The women stick to Hempstalk farm, their refuge from the corruptible world. Our narrator is lucky to be granted one night’s sleep in what must be the safest, most perfect place ever imagined. He is given crisp, old-fashioned sleeping clothes and a darkened room of his own with a high bed, complete with a kitten and light from the hall. When he awakens in the night he rises from bed to look out his window, where he finds a perfect harvest moon (despite it not being time for a harvest moon), and sees the matriarch of the Hempstalk women walking back and forth near the edge of the property, holding vigil over his safety. He goes back to the sleep of the very young, the very safe, the sleep of dead quiet and perfect temperatures, thick walls and the very solid.
There are some direct parallels, and perhaps, if I’m truly honest, versions that might even trump “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” L’Engle’s a Wrinkle in Time and the Time Quartet, with it’s New England thunderstorms, cocoa and cream cheese and tomato sandwiches on dark bread, collection on wise woman dressed in Miss Bundcombs sheets and consistent mention of Dr. Denten footed pjs might have a far superior and continuing plot—(The Ocean’s plot is slightly quick and perhaps not entirely complete, though I did just listen to an interview of Gaiman explaining he wrote the book in pieces for his musician wife who was on another continent and sent them as installments, so perhaps that was the culprit), but all in all I was terribly sad to know this book would end.
And, while I don’t want to give anything away, I did find Gaiman’s thoughts on “memory” and how it seems to erode the farther you are from the source incredibly meaningful. It’s almost painful to read the last few pages—to know our narrator is clearly drawn to the Hempstalk farm and unable to stay away, yet cannot retain these memories once he leaves. Perhaps the most important and defining moments of his life, are never, ever his to keep—but maybe that’s Gaiman’s jab at where I started with this review—that the richness of fantasy is not ours to keep, either. That some things are just too dear and meaningful to touch on a daily-basis so you can continue on with the bits and pieces of real life. ...more