I won't say much about Mockingjay's plot because many of my Goodreads friends haven't gotten the book yet. I'll just say that in many ways I thought tI won't say much about Mockingjay's plot because many of my Goodreads friends haven't gotten the book yet. I'll just say that in many ways I thought this was the strongest book of the series, but I also found it unsatisfying. I was captivated, but I'm also glad the series is over and I never have to read it again. And I'm not happy about the fact that I can't get this book out of my head! How's that for a cryptic review?...more
Robin Hobb returns to the world of the Farseers and the Bingtown Traders for the fourth time with this series, which mainly takes place in the Rain WiRobin Hobb returns to the world of the Farseers and the Bingtown Traders for the fourth time with this series, which mainly takes place in the Rain Wilds. The serpents, which make their way up the river to their nesting grounds at the end of The Liveship Traders series, have cocooned and hatched into dragons--but they're not formed correctly. Nobody knows if it was because they stayed in the serpent stage too long before cocooning, or if they didn't cocoon long enough, or if they just weren't properly cared for. But they can't fly, some of them can't walk, they're sickly, and they can't care for themselves.
In the meantime, we're introduced to other people whose lives are on a collision course with that of the dragons. Alise has been tricked into an unhappy and abusive marriage, but she's willing to endure as long as she can live her lifelong dream of studying dragons. Thymarra is an outcast among outcasts, heavily marked with scales and claws. When she sees another path for her life, she grabs it. Some well-loved characters from books past have cameo appearances, like Brashen, Althea, and Malta.
But this book, the beginning of a four-book series in the middle of Hobb's much larger multi-series story, is mainly just set-up. It establishes characters and motivations, and a journey is embarked upon. There's not much story itself here. This is typical for Robin Hobb and people seem to either like her style or hate it. I happen to love the depth of her characters and I appreciate her style of writing....more
Can I just say that I adore Kate Morton? She's one of my favorite finds of 2010, and I hope she has a long and fruitful career. How can you not love aCan I just say that I adore Kate Morton? She's one of my favorite finds of 2010, and I hope she has a long and fruitful career. How can you not love an author who writes passages like, "A horde of lurking thoughts seeped along the wall to brush my shoulders with their tapered fingers. Before I knew what was happening, they'd taken my hand and led me places I hadn't been for years." I was almost reluctant to continue reading this book because I knew that the more I read, the faster it would end. Fortunately for me, Kate Morton has been prolific so far, and I hope it continues!
This book is character-driven, so I'm not going to try to give a synopsis of the plot. The writing is beautiful, the characters are deep, and the mysteries are...mysterious? My only complaint was that this is not the sort of book to read for a few minutes between distractions--it's the sort of book where you curl up by the fire and read for hours, which is sometimes hard to do.
Added in 2014: I just re-read the book and was wowed again by the beautiful prose. Four years is apparently long enough for me to forget most of the plot, so the revelations were as new to me as they were in 2010. I love the way the book unfolds: secrets are gradually uncovered...or not. No character knows everything, although they all assume that their version of the story is the only story. I loved the theme that nothing happens in a vacuum and that people have reasons for behaving the way they're behaving, even if those reasons aren't readily apparent....more
3.5 stars. I didn't like it enough to say "really liked it" but I liked it more than just plain "liked it." This is a common problem.
Hanna, who's a bo3.5 stars. I didn't like it enough to say "really liked it" but I liked it more than just plain "liked it." This is a common problem.
Hanna, who's a book restoration expert, has been given the task of a lifetime. A rare illuminated Jewish haggadah has turned up in Sarajevo just after the war, and Hanna has been asked to restore it. The book, more than 500 years old, has a long history with more than its share of secrets. As Hanna begins to get glimpses of these secrets (in the form of a wine stain on one page, a hair caught between pages, traces of salt, etc.) the narrative jumps backwards into the book's history to give a glimpse into the lives of those who created it, owned it, and protected it.
I liked the fact that the novel is based on an actual haggadah, the Sarajevo Haggadah, currently in the National Museum in Sarajevo. It's passed through so many hands in its lifetime, and each of those hands had its own story. I also liked the fact that the author didn't assume that the National Museum would be the final resting place for the haggadah. This is merely another stop in its long history, and 200 years from now it could be somewhere much different.
And it was a bit sad that the history of the haggadah is just a microcosm of typical human history. In the words of one of the characters: "The book has survived the same human disaster over and over again. Think about it. You've got a society where people tolerate difference, like Spain in the Convivencia, and everything's humming along: creative, prosperous. Then somehow this fear, this hate, this need to demonize 'the other'--it just sort of rears up and smashes the whole society. Inquisition, Nazis, extremist Serb nationalists...same old, same old. It seems to me the book, at this point, bears witness to all that." I was fortunate to have lived my life so far in a time and place where differences are largely tolerated, with a few grumblings here and there. It scares me to think that the pendulum could so quickly swing the other way, the way it did in Bosnia.
But although I liked the idea of the book and enjoyed the stories, the writing and the characters just didn't grab me. Maybe it's because I recently read a book in a similar vein by James Michener ( The Source) which was one of the best books I've ever read. This book, unfortunately, suffers in comparison. ...more
This was billed as a vampire story, but it's not the sort of plot-driven action novel I expected from a vampire story. This book is more about the hisThis was billed as a vampire story, but it's not the sort of plot-driven action novel I expected from a vampire story. This book is more about the history of Transylvania and Wallachia, lands that we now call Romania. Once I changed my expectations and regarded this as a history novel with a little bit of vampirism, rather than a vampire novel with a little bit of history, I liked it better.
There are several central plots, stories within stories, but they all deal with a scholar getting an "invitation" of sorts to find out more about Dracula. The vampires in this book are the Bela Lugosi or Vlad the Impaler type of vampires, rather than Edward the Lovesick Vegetarian or Angel the Teenage Heartthrob. I have to say, I like the bad guys better.
I learned a LOT about Romanian history in this book, and I found it completely fascinating. I had to put the book down numerous times to use the internet to look up pictures of places or to find out which events really happened. The writing was so clear that I now feel like I've actually been to Istanbul, Hungary, and Bulgaria.
The first main character, who I don't believe was ever named (a plot device that I found a little unnecessary in a book like this) tells her own story while also relating her father's story, as he told it to her. Her father, in turn, includes the stories of one of his teachers and a few other minor characters. All of these people talk in first person, and they all have the exact same voice, whether the speaker is a Dutch teenager in the 1970s, an American history professor in the 1940s, or a young girl living in the Balkans between the World Wars. This made it tough to figure out who was talking, and when I finally got it sorted out, the point of view would often change without warning in the next paragraph.
And in addition to being confusing, I didn't find the book very compelling. I never felt like I had to stay up late to find out what came next; sometimes I would even catch myself doing mundane tasks to avoid reading. It's a shame, because I wanted to like the book better. The author's research was extensive and impressive. I'll probably give another of her books a try....more
This is a classic tale of a man in search of truth. He leaves his family and the Brahmin teachings of his youth to follow a path of asceticism. When hThis is a classic tale of a man in search of truth. He leaves his family and the Brahmin teachings of his youth to follow a path of asceticism. When he has learned all he can by having nothing, he searches again, this time stumbling briefly across a great Buddhist teacher before leaving that path to follow the worldly pleasures in the city. And so on, eventually achieving enlightenment.
The translation for Kindle was terrible (it even contained some of the proofreading comments), but I've heard that other translations are much better. So the prose wasn't great (the fault of the translator, not the author) but the ideas presented were wonderful....more
I really liked Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld so I thought I'd like this book better. This is just chick lit, and not even interesting chick lit. The mainI really liked Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld so I thought I'd like this book better. This is just chick lit, and not even interesting chick lit. The main character, Hannah, moves from middle school to college to professional life without a thought or goal beyond getting it on with her latest crush. She doesn't grow or develop, she has poor self-esteem, and nothing really happens besides her moving from place to place in search of the perfect man.
And it's not even the light, funny, enjoyable chick lit that I like to read on airplanes. This is morose, navel-gazing chick lit for people who want a lighter form of a Wally Lamb book.
This is a cute young adult chick-lit novel about a group of girls who attend a school for spies. One of them develops a crush on a boy in town, and shThis is a cute young adult chick-lit novel about a group of girls who attend a school for spies. One of them develops a crush on a boy in town, and she and her friends bring their full spy skills into play as they tail him, go through his garbage, and basically try to decide if he likes her or not. These are the kinds of skills I wish I had back in high school! It wasn't particularly well-written and the plot lost its uniqueness after a few chapters, but it was nice for a long bus ride, where I could follow the plot without paying too much attention....more
It's impossible to say much about this book without giving anything away, and a spoiler-free review is important because this book is all about the suIt's impossible to say much about this book without giving anything away, and a spoiler-free review is important because this book is all about the surprises. There's a farm in Connecticut. There's a happy family. There's a young boy named Niles. And there is some twisted and deep psychological horror.
I don't know why I liked it--this is the sort of plot I don't seem to have the stomach for anymore. But I did like the writing; that must have been what kept me going. 3.5 stars, but I'll be sleeping with the light on tonight....more