Homecoming is a bit of a mess. I enjoyed the first two installments in the 100 series more than I expected to, at a time when I was struggling throughHomecoming is a bit of a mess. I enjoyed the first two installments in the 100 series more than I expected to, at a time when I was struggling through the not-very-good first season of the TV show for the sake of a friend. Back then, it was nice to take a peek at the wider world, and gain some backstory and depth on developing events. However, with the second season of the show now verging on becoming genuinely good, this book... just isn't.
There's a lot of focus on various romances here, which is hardly the most interesting thing happening when the last survivors of the space colony have just joined the original hundred on Earth. Octavia - the character I found most interesting in the first book - again has no POV chapters, and barely appears for the most part. Glass - who spent the first two books in space - finally joins the rest of the main protagonists. And then leaves again. Almost immediately. Given the chance to add depth and believability to her friendship with Wells, Morgan elects instead to send Glass off on a pointless side-quest, separating her from the other characters for almost the entire book. Then there's Wells himself, who I was convinced in the first book was intended to be a slow-burn antagonist. But no. He feels sad for a few pages about sentencing hundreds of people to a painful death, and Clarke forgives him, so that's all right then. Ugh.
Clarke is repeatedly painted as the most able medic on Earth, despite being a seventeen year old apprentice. Evidently, Earthborn society is so backwards after three hundred years that a child from the sky is the most capable pair of hands going. The big twist in her story at the end of the second book is resolved inside a paragraph, with zero depth of emotion. The antagonists here are 2D and paper thin, and the whole story just feels shallow and superficial. Given the stakes involved - warring societies, tyrannical leaders, teenagers facing firing squads - that's really not a good thing. It's not entirely without merit and there are some stirring moments towards the end, but honestly, do yourself a favour and stick with the TV show....more
Inside HBO'S Game of Thrones is a gorgeous coffee table book. The quality is just lovely, and the pages are so thick and glossy I often had to check IInside HBO'S Game of Thrones is a gorgeous coffee table book. The quality is just lovely, and the pages are so thick and glossy I often had to check I wasn't turning over two at once. I think this would make an excellent gift for any fan of the series. Content-wise, there's less here for fans of A Song and Ice and Fire - I absolutely enjoyed it, but there was very little information I didn't already know. Some of the production details are a bit dry, but no one topic ever lasts for more than a couple of pages at a time. The best sections are the character profiles - it's very interesting to read little insights from the relevent actors and crew, even if some of them are a bit off the mark (Jack Gleeson tries, bless his soul, but trying to pin all of Joffers' abuse of Sansa on the example set by Cersei and Robert... nope.) It's certainly not essential reading, but it's a lovely, high-quality companion to the show, and I'll definitely be reading the season 3-4 tie in book too....more
I've never seen much of Sarah Silverman's comedy, but I loved her on Monk and have always enjoyed the little I have seen - so when The Bedwetter showeI've never seen much of Sarah Silverman's comedy, but I loved her on Monk and have always enjoyed the little I have seen - so when The Bedwetter showed up as a Kindle Daily Deal, I figured why not? It was a very quick read, and for the most part told with an amusing, self-deprecating and engaging air. It's not in-depth or hugely insightful as memoirs go (from the family photos at the end it seems she has a third sister who I don't recall being mentioned at all), and it loses traction post-adolescence, but on the whole I definitely enjoyed it. The later parts of the book seem to give undue focus and weight to events that aren't especially interesting - Silverman being slated for targeting Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, using a controversial racial epithet on live TV, and, for pages and pages, explaining how and why she came to wear a particular dress at the 2009 Emmys. It felt like there were brief periods of notoriety Silverman has been looking for a platform to explain away, but also like the only person who still remembers/cares about said periods is, well, her. But on the whole it's a fun and breezy read that I sailed through and that made me a little more interested in her work....more
I love Stephen King. At this point, I'll automatically buy any new book he releases without even reading a synopsis. I actually did read the blurb forI love Stephen King. At this point, I'll automatically buy any new book he releases without even reading a synopsis. I actually did read the blurb for Revival and wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it that much, and yet I was still excited to read it. Go figure. Some of his recent releases - Doctor Sleep, Mr Mercedes - haven't really hit the mark for me, but others - Joyland, 11/22/63 - have been an absolute gift. I think Revival settles somewhere between the two.
Our main characters here are Jamie Morton and Charles Jacobs - the former a New England boy we follow from childhood through his teenage rock band years, into a drug addicted thirties, and on again into his sober and quietly successful fifties. The latter starts out a small town pastor with an obsession for electrical inventions, who suffers a huge personal tragedy and becomes more and more unsettling every time his life crosses paths with Jamie.
I think my favourite section of the book followed Jamie's early years. King seems to have that knack for remembering the realities of childhood, and being able to lead his readers back to that time too. When we time jump to a Jamie who's washed out and hooked on heroin, the leap is a bit too disparate, and reminiscent of being re-introduced to Danny Torrence as a burned out screw up in Doctor Sleep. The final section picked up again as everything began to come together, but by the time the final denouement came around, I had the vague impression that the whole story really existed to service this one climatic scene - like this thing could have had the same impact as a short story or novella. I'm not saying I disliked it. It was fun ride to reach that point. But I think the bulk of the story will ultimately prove forgettable - it's the ending that's the takeaway point here, and it's impressively and deeply unsettling. The book as a whole isn't King's best and isn't his worst, but that ending. Geeze....more
Die Again is a pretty solid installment in Tess Gerritsen's 'Rizzoli and Isles' series, albeit one with a few issues. Gerritsen is one of those authorDie Again is a pretty solid installment in Tess Gerritsen's 'Rizzoli and Isles' series, albeit one with a few issues. Gerritsen is one of those authors whose new books I'll buy without question, to the extent that I started this one without even reading the blurb. We're thrown straight into a safari in Botswana, where English tourist Millie is growing apart from her boyfriend, and developing a crush on their enigmatic tour guide Johnny. It was only after the first chapter that I read the cover summary, and learned that all of Millie's companions would disappear never to be seen again, leaving her to stumble out of the bush weeks later on the point of death. Awesome, I thought, here we go. And the Botswana chapters really were exciting, as one by one her fellow travellers were picked off by an unseen killer. The problem is, I think I enjoyed these early chapters more than the ones set in Boston, following our protagonists, Detective Jane Rizzoli and forensic pathologist Maura Isles.
After five seasons of the Rizzoli and Isles TV series, it's becoming increasingly jarring to return to the books and remember that on paper, the friendship between these women is not that strong. We learn early on that they've barely even seen each other since their last case, and to me that's just a bit sad. As the book goes on, the recurring plots (Maura wondering whether she should leave Boston, Jane's mother's romantic struggles) get little more than a few pages of coverage, and by the end everything is still very much up in the air, albeit with a possible angle on the next book in the form of Maura's serial killer mother.
My biggest problem with Die Again is that I think most readers will guess the twist in the tale long before Jane does, which means there's a good fifty pages or so in there where she's treading water when she should be surging ahead. The realisation did make for a great aha moment, but leaving the detectives miles behind has the unfortunate effect of making them seem slow off the mark, which isn't ideal in the heroes we should be rooting for. In it's favour, I did appreciate that the crime in this novel was essentially ordinary - Gerritsen sometimes peppers her plots with secret cults and elements of the supernatural, which can spoil a book for me, so I was glad that for the most part here things stayed within the realm of the normal. All in all it was't my favourite in the series, but I enjoyed reading it, I know I'll be back for the twelfth installment, and I'm very excited to see Gerritsen speak on her upcoming UK book tour....more
This book is just gorgeous. When I started reading Game of Thrones this summer at the urging of a friend, I found myself peppering her with backgroundThis book is just gorgeous. When I started reading Game of Thrones this summer at the urging of a friend, I found myself peppering her with background questions. Who are the Rhoynar? What's a crannogman? Hey, tell me everything about these Children of the Forest... The World of Ice and Fire is precisely the book I hoped existed then. It's an in-depth look at the history of Westeros, and to a lesser extent, neighbouring continent Essos. The bulk of the book focuses on the many Targaryen kings, followed by a potted history of six of the seven 'kingdoms', plus the Iron Islands. We then travel over to many of the major cities in Essos, and towards the end go further afield, drifting towards the far east and mysterious Asshai.
The tone of the book is perhaps a little dry in places, but it's framed as being penned by a Maester of the Citadel, so for me that worked (although in later sections I think the editing could have been tighter, as small repetitions and spelling errors became more frequent). Certainly the histories we're presented with become vaguer, more rumour than fact, the further afield we travel, but as this is a world where few from Westeros dare to travel that far, it fit with the perspective the book took.
I think this is definitely more for the obsessive rather than casual fan, and I'd definitely recommend reading the Dunk and Egg stories first (I may or may not have got quite emotional during the history of Aegon V's reign, and had to put the book down a few times...). If you've read the history of the first Dance of Dragons, it's quite heavily condensed here, and there are other places where it definitely feels as though Martin has much longer histories waiting to be told when time permits. One of the biggest selling points of the book is the absolutely stunning artwork. I'm normally a 'nice picture, turn the page' kind of girl, but The World of Ice and Fire starts with a painting of Dragonstone so stunning you can all but taste the sea salt and hear the crash of the waves on rocks, and it only gets better from there. This is definitely a book you want to hold in your hands rather than flick through on a Kindle - the only problem being that it's so big and heavy, I did find it difficult to get comfortable with it.
I seriously, seriously love this book, and have already bought an extra copy to give as a Christmas present....more
Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books are sometimes a bit hit-and-miss for me (unlike the Mickey Hallers, which always bring the A-game). I still buy eMichael Connelly's Harry Bosch books are sometimes a bit hit-and-miss for me (unlike the Mickey Hallers, which always bring the A-game). I still buy every single one regardless, so I was really pleased to enjoy The Burning Room as much as I did. This was one of those books so tightly plotted that every single sentence I smugly highlighted - believing I'd caught a vital piece of information - turned out to be inconsequential. I love that feeling of having no idea where a plot's going, but needing to get there as quickly as possible.
Something that sometimes puts me off the Bosch series is the number of partners Harry's worked through over the years. Sure there are the memorable standouts - Kiz Rider, Jerry Edgar - but remembering anything about the others, even recent ones, is a bit beyond me. Luckly, his new partner in this book, rookie Lucy Soto, proved interesting and endearing, with a solid backstory that dovetailed with the book's sub-plot.
We didn't hear a great deal from Harry's teenage daughter Maddie in this book. I know there's been a lot of talk about her possibly picking up the mantle when Harry finally retires, and that day must be coming soon - possibly all too soon based on the open-ended climax of The Burning Room. I was hoping for another Haller book next, but after the momentum built up here and how much I enjoyed it, I'd be happy with another installment of Harry....more
A Series of Unfortunate Events has pride of place on my shelves. I loved that series more than anything except Harry Potter in my teens, and even thenA Series of Unfortunate Events has pride of place on my shelves. I loved that series more than anything except Harry Potter in my teens, and even then it was a close tie. There was nothing like the excitement of picking up the newest book and pouring obsessively through it for clues, discussing them online for hours, and disappearing into Lemony Snicket's strange but wonderful world. So when All the Wrong Questions - a prequel series of four books - was announced, I was delighted. And then Who Could That Be at This Hour? was released, and... I was a little less so. Same again with When Did You See Her Last?.
I was still very fond of those books - I mean, Lemony Snicket! As a child! Solving mysteries! How could I not love them? But they weren't ASOUE and I didn't really feel like part of the intended audience. The thing is, these books are still largely aimed at children, even though the original ASOUE audience are all grown up now, and the disconnect made me a bit sad. But with Shouldn't You Be in School? the magic finally clicked for me again. Back was the breathless page turning, the complete absorption in this world, the grinning like an idiot and wanting to hug the book to me - and above all the staying up until 1am, propping my eyes open with matchsticks because I just. had. to. finish. It's been a long time since I've done that with any book, and I love this one all the more for it.
A few reviews mention that Shouldn't You Be in School? feels largely like set-up for the next and final installment, and in many ways that's true, but it really really works for me. It feels like we're gearing towards something big and important and all these strange little plot elements that were just a bit odd on their own are finally coming together into something cohesive and wonderful. I can't wait for the next book, and I can't wait to dive back into re-reading ASOUE - an endeavour that fell by the wayside seven books in a couple of years ago, that I just have to resume now. Simply put, I just loved it....more
As far as I'm concerned, Jeffery Deaver is the master of plot twists. His short story collections Twisted and More Twisted are packed with brilliantlyAs far as I'm concerned, Jeffery Deaver is the master of plot twists. His short story collections Twisted and More Twisted are packed with brilliantly crafted gems, and his on-going Lincoln Rhyme series has more stings in the tale than a rattlesnake. So I was excited to see what he'd do with The October List, a thriller told quite literally backwards. We open on chapter 36, with a frantic mother awaiting news of her kidnapped daughter. The door opens, revealing not her rescuers but the kidnapper himself, wielding a gun and a deranged grin. How did it come to this? We're about to find out, in reverse.
Although it takes a long time for the full picture to become clear (the game changes constantly, and the kaleidoscope doesn't come to rest as a fully-formed image until you've read all the way through to chapter one), the pace is never anything less than frenetic. I finished the book in around a day, and kept reading for several hours after I really should have been sleeping (when you physically can't hold the book open in bed, it's probably time to call it a night.)
Does the gimmick produce satisfying results? Yes and... hmm. The format does lend itself to some difficulties. You know the piece of proofreading advice, that if you read a document backwards you're more likely to catch mistakes? While there aren't mistakes here as such (ultimately, everything ties together beautifully), I think the problem with starting from a place of complete bewilderment is that I never really fully trusted anyone, nor took any information at face value. When the revelations come, they're more of the 'ah, that makes sense of that!' variety than the sudden sharp shock of being completely surprised.
When working with a regular chronology, Deaver is fully adept at misdirection and sleight of hand, techniques that I think this format fundamentally makes more difficult. I'm definitely not saying I guessed the resolution in advance, but I also wouldn't say I was miles from the ballpark. There are times Deaver's caught me from another continent entirely, so this wasn't necessarily in the same league.
That said, I think this will definitely bear a repeat reading, perhaps in reverse this time, to really catch all the subtle clues laid throughout. It's probably only a shade over half the length of most of his other books, so it wouldn't surprise me if this was the intention. I've quickly re-read the first (last?) chapter, and the additional depth and nuance once you know what's really going on is brilliant. As is the contents list at the back - I actually laughed out loud at how clever he'd been in places with the chapter illustrations.
Overall, while I wasn't completely blown away by The October List, I do think Deaver's writing here is very, very clever, and I'm looking forward to going through it again when it's not quite so fresh. For readers unfamiliar with JD, it does take a while to get in to - it was probably sixty pages or so before I stopped being completely bewildered, and maybe as much as another hundred before I was really rolling along - because of course, telling a story backwards does run the risk of making it choppy, disjointed and frustrating. My advice would be just to trust that he knows full-well what he's doing and that it will all pay off eventually. And enjoy!...more