Gah, I have no luck at the moment with books. Normally I enjoy Jeanette Winterson's work for the prose and the brief shining ideas, but nothing about...moreGah, I have no luck at the moment with books. Normally I enjoy Jeanette Winterson's work for the prose and the brief shining ideas, but nothing about this shone for me -- not even the prose. Based on a historical event, The Daylight Gate is a story of witches and spirits and poverty. It's the very typical view of the Middle Ages -- dirt and poverty and witches. And Catholics. Witchery popery popery witchery, as Potts puts it.
At least I'm getting all the meh books out of the way? And it was a quick read -- if you like Jeanette Winterson, I warn that this doesn't seem much like her other books, but it might be worth a try if you think everything she touches turns to gold.(less)
I really wanted to like this. I mean, it's very gender and sexuality aware, focusing on issues that I care a lot about. It sounds maybe a bit like The...moreI really wanted to like this. I mean, it's very gender and sexuality aware, focusing on issues that I care a lot about. It sounds maybe a bit like The Left Hand of Darkness, in that sense. But the writing -- gah, so much exposition. I don't need six pages worth of explanation of the difference between sexuality and gender, and I'm bored to death by a very basic run-through of bioethics that is less wide-ranging than the first week of my neuroethics course.
So I got about a third of the way through this and just... I don't have time for this when I can (and should) be rereading The Left Hand of Darkness. Which has its own problems, of course, but which never has me going "oh my god get to some plot already" in this way.(less)
I've flicked through this a couple of times since I got it, and tried to read it, but I just... can't really get interested. Reading the summary leave...moreI've flicked through this a couple of times since I got it, and tried to read it, but I just... can't really get interested. Reading the summary leaves me cold, since I don't like the idea of Xas falling in love again after Sobran -- it doesn't seem to fit, somehow. I don't feel like this book brings anything particularly new and exciting to the table, which makes me a little sad -- but I also don't think I really wanted anything to follow The Vintner's Luck, so maybe I'm just the wrong audience.
I thought rereading The Vintner's Luck would make me eager to read this, but actually it made it worse. I'll keep it around in case one day it does sound interesting again.(less)
There are some unique ideas in this book; the way vampires and zombies are recognisable, but somewhat different, always makes for some added interest....moreThere are some unique ideas in this book; the way vampires and zombies are recognisable, but somewhat different, always makes for some added interest. Unfortunately, I didn't really get into the world and plot around that. Instead of occurring within the world, the world seemed to be created for the plot -- which of course, it is, but you don't want the reader to realise that. You want there to be an awareness of the world around the events of the novel, and that was lacking here.
As other reviewers have said, the quality of the writing is fairly mediocre; it's certainly functional, but it's not deathless prose at all. It's a very teenage style, and all in all the book comes across as being for the YA audience. That tone in the narration is a little awkward, as the main character isn't a teenager in one sense -- physically, he is, but if I remember rightly, he's older than that in experiential terms, because he ages slowly as a vampire. The adolescent outlook doesn't just come with a teenage body, but with teenage levels of experience.
The insta-love thing other reviewers have mentioned is also pretty problematic, not to mention the fact that one of the romantic leads is somehow a "good" zombie, and yet needs to tear apart and eat living humans. Maybe there's some way to make that less horrifying, more equivocal, but as it is, I couldn't get past that fact to see him as a unproblematic "good" guy. (And I don't think the intention was to make him a problematic lead.)
Anyway, all in all, I can't say I really enjoyed this, which is a shame because the tweaked supernatural characteristics could've been interesting.(less)
Not really recommended. It's free, and short, so you don't waste much time or money on it, but there's really nothing to it but a mediocre sex scene a...moreNot really recommended. It's free, and short, so you don't waste much time or money on it, but there's really nothing to it but a mediocre sex scene and a random, not terribly relevant-seeming, thing about werewolves. There's no emotional intensity, no reason to care about the characters, etc.(less)
I don't really get the pleasure of reading Angela Carter. Her writing is powerful, passionate (except where intentionally deliberate and emotionally p...moreI don't really get the pleasure of reading Angela Carter. Her writing is powerful, passionate (except where intentionally deliberate and emotionally parched), every word is perfectly chosen. I can imagine the editing that goes into it. But I just can't enjoy them. It makes me laugh when people say they don't get it because it's a literary text, and sort of assume that an English Lit graduate could manage it. 'fraid not. I find Angela Carter's work nigh on unpalatable, and would much rather read half a dozen Norse sagas instead.
And psst -- a secret: I hated the Contemporary Women's Writing module. I audited it, because I know this is a gap in my understanding, and I came to love Jeanette Winterson and Carol Ann Duffy and writers like that. But Angela Carter is apparently the point where I grumble and say that learning Anglo-Saxon is easier. (It is.)(less)
This is unashamedly sappy and lovey-dovey and romantic. It's basically a rewrite of Brokeback Mountain: what if Ennis and Jack did end up making a lif...moreThis is unashamedly sappy and lovey-dovey and romantic. It's basically a rewrite of Brokeback Mountain: what if Ennis and Jack did end up making a life together? What if the stars all aligned for everything to be perfect for them? (Mind you, I wouldn't read it as Brokeback Mountain fanfic: they'd seem out of character then.)
It's quite fun, I guess, as wish fulfilment: people who don't like queers die, the ex-wives are resolved to the situation, most people don't care, their kids are fine with it, and other gay men come out of the woodwork to leave them a ranch and money. It felt too much like wish fulfilment to me -- I've seen this kind of story a gazillion times, in fanfic, where everything turns out perfectly and no hurt is permanent. I don't really believe in it. It got to the point where I could guess every development because I knew exactly how I'd have written it as a thirteen year old first discovering fanfiction. (Which is not to say it's badly written, just... hang your disbelief up on the coat rack in another room before you read this.)
But, still, if you want something romantic and fairytale-like, this is a good bet, as long as you have no objections to two men unashamedly having sex all over the place.(less)
The Fall of the Kings is set in the same world as Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword. However, it's a very different kind of story. The really...moreThe Fall of the Kings is set in the same world as Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword. However, it's a very different kind of story. The really personal focus, the sense that this story matters most to the people involved in it, is gone, and now there's a more far-reaching plot about scholarship, politics, monarchy, magic and restoration. This time there's a co-author: Ellen Kushner's wife, Delia Sherman.
Having read Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword, I didn't know exactly how I felt about them. They were fun, but... And then reading this, I decided that I liked those a lot, and didn't like this so much. It's hard to pinpoint why. I like the way things grew out of the original two books -- the madness of the kings, the madness that ran in Alec's family, is interesting. The fate of Alec's child is also interesting. The fact that such a lot of background to the world is also filled in is good in its way. I like worldbuilding.
This, though, felt too wordy. It dragged and I stalled on reading it several times. It didn't flow as well, and it felt as if there were several infodumps. It's also less exciting and flowing a story, since it's written about a scholar and not a swordsman (or swordswoman). The mystical scenes and dreams seemed slightly... overblown, I guess. But I generally find mysticism overblown, so that's probably a rather personal judgement. I didn't find the characters all that absorbing -- which is an argument I've felt about all of these books, gaining my affection for the characters only after reading. I felt it particularly in this book, in that I didn't just find the characters difficult to like, I wanted to slap most of them outright. I liked Jessica, though, because she was lively and straight-forward and different.
The plot itself is intriguing, the characters could be, it's just the execution that makes it difficult for me. I did love the end, actually. I was wondering how things could possibly come out okay, and then they just... didn't.
If you're expecting a second Swordspoint, you'll be disappointed.(less)
I know I finished my initial skim-read of The Mists of Avalon not that long ago, but then I realised it's necessary for my essay. So I grabbed the Kin...moreI know I finished my initial skim-read of The Mists of Avalon not that long ago, but then I realised it's necessary for my essay. So I grabbed the Kindle edition, and got my mother to bribe me into reading it (if I could finish it before midnight on Christmas Day, I got a £10 gift voucher for books), and this time I am truly triumphant.
I'm... still not enamoured. In fact, I think perhaps I like it even less than I did the first time. Thinking about it in terms of my essay, it's obvious that it's been immensely influential when it comes to portraying the women of the Arthurian stories, and on neopaganism as well. But parts of it read like awful romance novels, and it could be significantly shorter without losing anything essential to the plot.
One thing that I did like was the somewhat tortured relationship between Lancelet and Arthur. Their deep friendship, their smothered sexual attraction to each other... A development from T.H. White, I believe.
For the most part, though, it's interesting to read from an academic standpoint -- more so the more I can relate it to other texts -- but otherwise, no thank you. I won't be reading it again, unless by ill-luck my thesis requires me to.(less)
I've been on a binge of acquiring lesbian fantasy lately, and this came enthusiastically recommended. It's okay -- I finished it, and there were some...moreI've been on a binge of acquiring lesbian fantasy lately, and this came enthusiastically recommended. It's okay -- I finished it, and there were some powerful scenes. But I didn't feel like I knew enough of the whys and wherefores of the world to get involved in it. The characters could've been interesting -- Bren with her moral dilemmas, her alcoholism, mostly. But I didn't really feel it: for a medic like she's supposed to be, I'd need a lot more background to believe she'd do what she does here in the first place. If I'd had that, she would've felt more three dimensional and compelling.
Not sure if I'll read the other books. I do wonder if they get better, but I wouldn't pick them up if I wasn't actively looking to read more lesbian lit.(less)