Fortunes of the Imperium is a fun read; I enjoyed it far more than the first one, enough so that I'll eventually give View from the Imperium another cFortunes of the Imperium is a fun read; I enjoyed it far more than the first one, enough so that I'll eventually give View from the Imperium another chance. Definitely light fare but meant to be, in the Jeeves-and-Bertie-go-to-space tradition, this action comedy finds Lieutenant Lord Thomas Kinago on a diplomatic mission to the Autocracy, hoping to save the lives of Imperium citizens who have inadvertently smuggled forbidden military tech. The penalty for such smuggling is death, and the Uctu legal system doesn't seem to allow for mistakes.
Lord Thomas's new fascination is superstition and fortune telling--in fact, he's invented a new method, condimentomancy--as ridiculous as any other, he promises. Fate in the fall of catsup on your plate, as it were. Thomas' legendary charm (genetically enhanced) crosses species, his factotum Parsons helps save the day, and the stage is set for future adventures. Parsons is way more hunky than Jeeves, and Thomas is far less irritating than Bertie Wooster. For fans of Kris Longknife and Daniel Leary, this sits somewhere in between and is overtly tongue-in-cheek. I received an e-galley for review from the publisher and netgalley....more
"In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love."~Marc Chagall
Th "In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love."~Marc Chagall
This was my first Susan Vreeland, and I'm intrigued enough to read another--Vreeland writes beautifully about paintings and scenery and the hunger for art and artistic expression. The book is conceived as a "trail of the history of art. ... The visible reality expressed through the handling of light and color of impressionism-Pissaro-moved into the solid geometric shapes of postimpressionisn-Cezanne-to the modernism of distortion and cubism-Picasso-and finally to the postmodernism of the expression of the invisible personal reality of dreams. That's Chagall." The flaw is that this history of art is told by characters created to tell that story, who never quite come alive enough to tell their own.
Young Lisette was raised in an orphanage in post-WWI Paris, and she has an eye for art. She marries Andre, a young frame maker, and expects to find a job in a gallery--even cleaning the walls would do. But she and Andre are called to the countryside to take care of Andre's grandfather, Pascal, in his old age. From soirées and cafés to bedpans and roosters--Lisette's life is turned upside down! But Pascal used to be a paint salesman in Paris, a step up from his teenage job as a miner of ochre for paint and dyes in the small commune of Roussillon, and in addition to the stories of paint and artists, he has beautiful paintings from the greats--Cezanne, Pisarro, Picasso--that they can look at and comprehend together. Then, WWII starts, Andre and their friend Maxime enlist, and the rest of the plot ensues. Chagall comes into the story, hiding in a small village before escaping from the Nazis to the United States.
As I said, Vreeland writes beautifully, especially when she is writing about the heart of art and not art criticism and history; she shows what is behind all that jargon. But Lisette does not change, though more than ten years (and the war!) pass; it's as if by being in the countryside she's frozen in time at twenty, though she's thirty-one at the end. Or perhaps it's just that she exists, like her list, like the paintings, as a hook on which to hang some beautiful art.
Despite the flaws, it's a good book--it does fulfill the promise of its Chagall epigraph, coloring the pages with love, and I recommend it to anyone that has an interest in art. (I received an e-galley for review from the publisher and Netgalley.)...more
Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle has adventure, imagination, friendship and grit--in addition to some cool raven lore. With both boys and girls aGabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle has adventure, imagination, friendship and grit--in addition to some cool raven lore. With both boys and girls as main characters, it is a lovely addition to the kids-rescue-adults fantasy sub-genre.
Gabriel's dad disappeared a few years ago, when he set out to keep his brother from taking over the world. Thanks to his ability to bond with a young raven, Gabriel is able to set out to find and rescue his father. Throw in a bit of Norse mythology, a lot of made-up bird culture, a true appreciation of ravens and owls, and a motley middle-school crew consisting of Somes, the school bully, Abby, his colorful neighbor, and Pamela, who plays the violin and is unfazed by a dancing desk, and you have a fine adventure for middle-schoolers.
Three stars for adults and avid fantasy readers; four stars for the younger set. There are some continuity issues and just plain fuzzy world building, but most readers will get caught up in the story.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the e-arc for review. Buying a hardcover for the nephew. ...more
Perfect for fans of romantic suspense, Mean Streak will be a four star for many of her fans. It is a total romance fantasy, with a kidnappiMean Streak
Perfect for fans of romantic suspense, Mean Streak will be a four star for many of her fans. It is a total romance fantasy, with a kidnapping that isn't, really. Or is it? Somebody bonked sexy heiress Dr. Emory Charbonneau with a rock--and if it wasn't the mysterious stranger in whose cabin she wakes up, who left her to die in the winter wilderness?
The mystery man won't reveal his name, some menacing hillbilly thugs presage violence, Emory's husband might be the one who tried to kill her--but her heart, frozen since her parents' deaths, is starting to thaw in the presence of the fearsome giant who has carried her off to--protect her?
Dear reader, I read it all the way through, because Sandra Brown is a mean storyteller, but I wasn't surprised, and the story wasn't plausible. That's why I call it a fantasy instead of a thriller. But it is fun to follow the twists and turns, and satisfies in the romance department. I am a recent Sandra Brown reader, thanks to netgalley and Grand Central Publishing, and while I rate the previous book four stars and this three, I will continue to read and recommend Sandra Brown's books. (I received an e-galley of this book for review.) ...more
This new entry in the Fitz and Fool saga brings the reader right back into the wonder and intrigue of the Six Duchies. I wish I'd had tFool's Assassin
This new entry in the Fitz and Fool saga brings the reader right back into the wonder and intrigue of the Six Duchies. I wish I'd had time to go back and re-read the other two trilogies (the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy), since they were my favorites of hers in this world. I don't remember such foreshadowing in the other books, nor the impatience of reading whilst thinking that the main character is such an oblivious fool. And I am all uncertain whether I should reveal why I thought so from the beginning page, but I will treat it as a spoiler. Nevertheless, I am sure you will realize far before Tom does the target of the mysterious intruders, and the identity of the unexpected son.
Is the Fool still alive? Why has he never contacted Fitz, now known as Tom, living in happiness and peace at long last, enjoying Molly's love? Unlike some readers, I do not chafe at the long descriptions of bucolic country life and dear daughter Bee's childhood. Let them enjoy their happiness, and me with them, until the wide world intrudes. Here we revisit again the differences between Skill and Wit, the native magics--Skill being a bit more abstract, controlling, and intellectual, and Wit being what some call beast magic. For some of us who might have waited to read the Rainwilds Chronicles until complete (finished recently, not yet read by me), this was a needed, leisurely reintroduction to this world and culture.
So cons: a little slow-moving, sometimes a confusing transition between Fitz/Tom's first-person narration and daughter Bee's first-person narration. And of course people die that you don't want to. Pros: I do love the mind and imagination of Robin Hobbs. Bee is amazing.Father Wolf. Unnamed cat. Stable boy Per.
Recommended--but begin at the beginning. I'll be starting there again, in the year we wait for the next installment! Bravo! (I received an e-galley from Del Rey and net galley for review.)...more
Small Blessings is the heart-warmer of the year. I love this tender story about people trying to do their best no matter what life throws at them.
CleSmall Blessings is the heart-warmer of the year. I love this tender story about people trying to do their best no matter what life throws at them.
Cleverly constructed with the terrible thing at the beginning instead of the end, we have orphans, free spirits, addicts, mental illness, campus politics, mysterious money, love requited and un-, Shakespeare and bookstores, all blended together and gently simmered with hope and humor into a soul-nourishing stew that satisfies the hungry heart in every way.
Rose, the new campus bookstore manager, has moved around a lot. She's never in her whole life had a place she called home for long, and never wanted to. But there's something about this town....
If you'd like a read that brings a smile to your lips and an occasional tear to your eye, Small Blessings is the perfect prescription--for renewed hope in human nature, for a feel-good love story, for a book club read, for a present. Highly recommended!
I received an advance e-galley for review from St. Martins and Netgalley. ...more
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot illustrates that you can sometimes tell a book by its title, if not its cover. In other words, WTF is kinda...? The writing is nWhiskey Tango Foxtrot illustrates that you can sometimes tell a book by its title, if not its cover. In other words, WTF is kinda...? The writing is not bad, but the setup is too long. At 15% in, I could not tell my friend what the book was about, and at 25% in, it was still true. Cutting-edge tech and government/multinational corporation conspiracies have been their own subgenre for quite a few years now, and if there's nothing new at 25% in, it's not worth my time. What do sci fi geeks want? Bandwidth and speed. The bandwidth might be there, especially for people who haven't read sci fi, but the speed isn't. I would give the writer another chance, so three stars. I received an e-galley from netgalley and Mulholland Books for review, and wish I liked it better! ...more
Gritty and inspiring, an interesting departure. The beginning of a new series I will certainly keep following. Way to refresh the Skolian Empire-RubyGritty and inspiring, an interesting departure. The beginning of a new series I will certainly keep following. Way to refresh the Skolian Empire-Ruby Dynasty saga. ...more
Wow and wow again. Gibson has delighted and surprised. The street-smart voice and savvy of his earlier work is back, coupled with the insight and utteWow and wow again. Gibson has delighted and surprised. The street-smart voice and savvy of his earlier work is back, coupled with the insight and utter normal weirdness of his latest books. Flynne lives in our world (possibly), in a future that hasn't changed much. Everything comes from 3D printers, but the rich are still rich and the poor still have to hustle any way they can. From the flap: "Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran’s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC’s elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but there’s a job he’s supposed to do—a job Flynne didn’t know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. " Flynne thinks she's part of a video game, but she's really visiting the future virtually. She witnesses what was almost certainly murder, and it doesn't feel like a game. The search for truth (and maybe justice) is a wild ride from a writer at the top of his game. With youth's clear eyes of doom and destruction, and the wisdom and experience (and hope!) of maturity, Gibson has crafted another masterpiece....more
This is truly a book for foodies! The recipes alone are worth the journey of Lunch in Paris. Interwoven with the recipes--three or four at each chapteThis is truly a book for foodies! The recipes alone are worth the journey of Lunch in Paris. Interwoven with the recipes--three or four at each chapter's end--is the story of how Elizabeth Bard became an ex-pat.
The tone attempted in this memoir is Sex-in-the-City meets Three Coins in the Fountain, substitute Paris for Rome. New Yorker Elizabeth is working in London when she meets Gwendal (Celtic Frenchman, who could resist?). They fall in love and she moves into his tiny, unheated Paris apartment. Culture shock and marriage ensue, whilst Elizabeth wonders what she should "do" with her life. You may or may not end up liking the author, this thirty-something those around her love to take care of, but it’s the recipes that really bring the book to life.
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes was the recipient of the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best First Cookbook (USA). So think of it as a cookbook instead of a memoir, with rather long stories before the recipes. There's some depth lacking throughout, but who can blame the author for being lucky and cute? Just concentrate on the food—advice for any uncertain situation, as the author demonstrates.
Chocolate soufflés, ratatouille, asparagus with ham and poached egg. Eggplants galore. Noodle pudding and matzoh ball soup, too. The recipes are so well-written, everyone in the bookclub wants to try at least one. There are descriptions of memorable meals with family and friends, and enough inspiration to make you want to try to recreate them. Have a wonderful time in the kitchen and get ready for book two, Picnic in Provence, due spring 2015. ...more
A Man Called Ove is the name of the book, but what you see above is not a typo. The book is, at heart, a love story. Fredrick BackmanA Man Called Love
A Man Called Ove is the name of the book, but what you see above is not a typo. The book is, at heart, a love story. Fredrick Backman has created a small masterpiece in this gem of a tale about a not-so-charming man. A man of a certain age and type. The curmudgeonly type.
Ove is the grumpiest man on the block, until a young family moves in next door and calls him back to life and love. People aren't following the rules, and God is the worst offender in this matter, having taken Ove's wife, the only color in his life, and by gum, Ove is determined to join her. But the neighbors keep interrupting every time he has his method and timing picked, and Ove must save the day.
The book has been compared with The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, but I love it even more. It's funnier and wiser than either, and neither one of those books had my grandpa in it. Or the cat. Backman can sure write a cat. He can also write the story of a man who speaks his heart with his hands, his harsh and brittle life, and the tenderness at its core. This is my favorite general fiction book of the year so far, and I could see an Oscar-winning movie come from it, with the right team. It is sure to be a book club favorite for years to come.
I laughed out loud and cried good tears. Thank you Simon and Schuster for retaining the British translation; it would not be nearly as funny in American English. The translator is gifted! Colloquialisms have been left in, and they make the book more charming: "Her laughter catches him on the back foot. As if it's carbonated and someone has poured it too fast and it's bubbling over in all directions. It doesn't fit at all with the grey cement and right-angled garden paving stones. It's an untidy, mischievous laugh that refuses to go along with rules and proscriptions."
Parvaneh is the young mother who has moved in next door, whose name means butterfly. That laugh has a butterfly effect on Ove's life, and he is caught by the back foot indeed, captivated like a stray and charmed back to the land of the living. And he smiling. You, too, will be captivated and smiling even through tears, as Backman celebrates the beauty and transformative power of everyday love, all kinds.
I received an EARC of this book for review from the publisher and netgalley, and it's cost me 20 bucks, because I have to buy a hardback for my "favorites" shelf. :) ...more
I read it straight through. Immediately wanted more. Abercrombie has a distinctive storytelling voice here, cultural mores woven seamlessly into narraI read it straight through. Immediately wanted more. Abercrombie has a distinctive storytelling voice here, cultural mores woven seamlessly into narrative, like listening to a saga that reveals reality instead of romance. The blood, guts, and gore are here, but they are not gratuitous. One is at the same time living the story but grateful to be in a modern world with running water and machines.
The culture of Half a King is analogous to the old Norse, or older. The story is like all old stories, with men clashing, thrones lost and won, heirs lost and found. In this story, the prince is a reluctant king, being an introvert and trained from youth for the Ministry--meaning Administration. He'd rather be beside the throne than in it. But he is a man of his culture, and attempts to step up to the job--but others do want the kingship, and thusly the story starts.
Kudos for the strong, well-written women characters--there are a few. There is adventure, deception, merchantry, and personal growth. Stories are how we learn to live in the world, and there are some fine lessons here, lessons for heart and mind. This would make a great compare and contrast with Goblin Emperor; two young men with thrones unsought, two different but similar worlds, two different takes on duty and right behavior. Two different books marketed as YA and yet achieving far more range and power than typical coming-of-age stories. Highly recommended for mature teens and adults. ...more