Well, I probably need a reminder not to read this series late at night when I'm home by myself and should be sleeping! I don't normally get spooked byWell, I probably need a reminder not to read this series late at night when I'm home by myself and should be sleeping! I don't normally get spooked by reading or watching things, but this had me needing my light on for hours to finish reading because I could just not abandon the characters. Plus, having a horror story revolving around a sickness that traps people in sleep? Pretty effective!
I loved the obvious research that went into this. There's a lot of old New York history this delves into, including the earlier forms of underground rail transit. I found myself delving into some online articles about some of the specific locations because she picked some really fascinating subjects! Plus it deals with a lot of the social issues of the time, particularly anti-immigration sentiments.
The old cast is as interesting and diverse as ever, but the character who really stood out in here for me was the introduction of Ling. Her background as the daughter of two immigrants--a Chinese father and an Irish mother--plus being a victim of polio set her up to have a much different perspective on many of the events in here from the beginning. Plus, she's a giant science enthusiast so she had a lot to offer for more variety.
Story-wise I don't want to give anything away, but I'll say that the setting of ghosts inside of New York subways was super creepy. Plus, the dreamscapes were fascinating in here and the way everything eventually turns out in the end has left me really craving for the next book!
I was provided a copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley....more
Three interwoven narratives from different young women coming of age during the 1940s in San Francisco. This tackles not only the Chinese-American expThree interwoven narratives from different young women coming of age during the 1940s in San Francisco. This tackles not only the Chinese-American experience during this era, but also the Japanese-American as different characters involved in the narrative try to pass themselves as Chinese-American after the events of Pearl Harbor and the internment of so many Japanese-Americans. This tackles a lot about the racism regarding Asian cultures during the period.
I liked all three of the girls, and each brings a different history to the table. Their stories are both of friendship and constant competition as they all try to get out ahead of the hardships and racism of the time. I liked how complicated their friendships were, and although I saw the one big truth that was revealed at the end coming for quite some time, it was still enjoyable to see the characters get to that point themselves.
The reader was excellent and even when I'd stop listening mid-chapter for the day it was easy to tell which of the three women I was currently listening to. They did each have their own distinctive tone from the writing, but she did a great job of bringing in much different voices....more
Another in the War of the Roses series, this time concentrating on Anne Neville, the wife of Richard III. I felt pretty awful for her for most of thisAnother in the War of the Roses series, this time concentrating on Anne Neville, the wife of Richard III. I felt pretty awful for her for most of this--she spends most of her life as a pawn for her father, her mother, and then her husband (less so with him, but even still).
Unfortunately, this felt like it lacked any real climax and eventually just seemed to fizzle itself out. This book in particular had me wishing that Gregory had tackled this series chronologically and with inter-weaving narratives. The events keep repeating throughout the series, of course with different perspectives, but I find myself forgetting each woman's take on them.
Either way, I did like the more positive portrayal of Richard III found in here....more
I'll admit I picked this up with some hesitation--I enjoyed the first book in this series well enough that I was pretty curious about what direction tI'll admit I picked this up with some hesitation--I enjoyed the first book in this series well enough that I was pretty curious about what direction things would move, but with an ever-growing pile of to-read books I was unsure of whether I wanted to spend the time on a sequel to a book I didn't love. I'm really, really glad I gave this a chance! While I found the first book in the series to drag in a lot of places due to the romance, this book was a non-stop adventure story (with some cute romantic scenes to spice things up) that delved much deeper into Lora's otherworldly self than the first book did.
Lora is still a fabulous, strong-willed character and with the central plot revolving around (view spoiler)[her braving the warfront of WWI on a rescue mission, she really gets in on some crazy fun action. Both she and Armand grow a lot as characters (he, thankfully, backs off a lot on the romantic pushing, allowing her to get a grasp on her emotions without forcing her), and the interactions between the two felt pretty natural. (hide spoiler)]
The first book has just barely hit the shelves, and with how strong this is I definitely recommend this series to fans of young adult romance and fantasy--book one is heavy on the romance, book two heavy on the fantasy, and I'm definitely looking forward to whatever book three has in store.
I was provided a copy from the publisher via Netgalley....more
This was a fun adventure story that reminded me a lot of Haggard's King Solomon's Mines or Doyle's The Lost World. Set at the end of Edward VI's shortThis was a fun adventure story that reminded me a lot of Haggard's King Solomon's Mines or Doyle's The Lost World. Set at the end of Edward VI's short reign, the story starts off a bit slow as the characters begin exploring the magical properties of both the bodies and the items of a doomed expedition to a magical island, while also juggling the politics of the period. It easily pulled me in with all the detail work, and it didn't take long before the characters were off on their expedition.
The magic and physics of the island felt really well-done, and I enjoyed the descriptions of all the wonders. The one place this flagged for me was the dialogue and characters--it felt a bit stiff, and outside of Catherine I didn't much care what happened to anyone. Still, I was happy this was a story willing to allow a girl of 16 to be fascinated by science and want to live her life outside of her gender confines.
Definitely worth a read for fans of the old sensationalist style novels, especially for the non-stereotypical gender roles.
I was provided a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley....more
A pretty decent depiction of the last years of Queen Lakshmi of Jhansi before the British annexation as told from the perspective of one of her guardsA pretty decent depiction of the last years of Queen Lakshmi of Jhansi before the British annexation as told from the perspective of one of her guardswomen. As usual, Moran does a nice job at making the cultural/historical bits of this pretty accessible while not feeling like it's dumbed down TOO terribly.
This fell a bit flat for me with it being from Sita's perspective. So much of this concentrates on her personal experiences and hopes, and while the cultural bits of her early life are definitely interesting I felt it came at the cost of what could have been some really fascinating action sequences and political plotting at the end. Rather than seeing much of the rebellion in action, most of the tension in the narrative is taken up by Sita's rivalry with another female guard. I was disappointed that this fell back on the overused "more established and older woman immediately tries to undermine our heroine in catty and nasty ways."
I really enjoyed the narrator on this! I'm glad I listened to the audio version because she was wonderful....more
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked this up from the new release shelf at the library, and honestly I can't really say what exaI had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked this up from the new release shelf at the library, and honestly I can't really say what exactly it was after reading it. It's certainly a gruesome and surreal tale, ridiculously vulgar to unbelievable degrees at time, but with such a stunning cast of characters I couldn't put it down.
Jan, who in this type of tale would typically be the "villain with the heart of gold" stereotype is a disgusting creep. Sander, the crazed thug, I couldn't help but like... And Jolanda was hilariously to-the-point, violent and no-nonsense for most of the novel (as a teen, she's got some angst, but as soon as it got to where it could be aggravating the story worked its way around it).
I think the icing on the cake here is when the author is gearing up to have one particularly confounding and inexplicable part of the story explained...Jolanda, as honestly I'd expect, goes and punches the guy in the nose and runs off without hearing him out. And that's the most explanation ever given. It's so true to the character he'd built up for 450 pages that I had to just laugh (despite being a bit sad at never actually getting a full explanation).
A lot of this is so surreal and reminded me some of Haruki Murakami...just a incredibly gross and vulgar take on the dreamlike qualities his novels have. The water scenes in here involving giant fish, however, felt very real and incredibly eerie. Definitely not for the easily squicked out....more
After having a rough time with the Red Queen and the sheer awfulness of listening to Margaret for so many hours complaining about everything, I wasn'tAfter having a rough time with the Red Queen and the sheer awfulness of listening to Margaret for so many hours complaining about everything, I wasn't entirely looking forward to listening to this. Luckily, pretty quickly I got used to the same reader now being the voice of Jacquetta, especially since she spends very little time bemoaning her position and is a much more hopeful narrator.
Overall I liked Jacquetta's story, and wish this has been written and released before The White Queen just for the sake of chronology (plus I think understanding Elizabeth's mother might have made that a more enjoyable read). Whiles this did feel bloated and incredibly repetitive at times, it was nice having one of these sprawling historical novels with a love match rather than an arranged marriage.
I rather enjoyed the alchemy and foretelling aspects as well, although unfortunately they don't take up much of the story at all. Still, a much better and enjoyable read than the Red Queen and gives some more perspective on the War of the Roses....more
This was one of the roughest protagonists to suffer through in quite a while for me, and some of that is due to knowing exactly how the end of this woThis was one of the roughest protagonists to suffer through in quite a while for me, and some of that is due to knowing exactly how the end of this would be turning out an so having the history lessons to know that a lot of Margaret's obsessions and concerns played out how she wanted them to. At first, I really felt for the poor woman--married off as a child twice, almost dying in childbirth as a result, and having next to no say in her life until she starts plotting and manipulating for her son's future. This really does do a great job with portraying just how horrible the situation was for women and the way the men of their households and kingdom could dictate their lives, but it didn't take long for me to despise her.
Gregory attempted to make her a likeable character. Right off, Margaret is very pious and wants to be a nun, and her role model is Joan of Arc. This carries through the entire book, often with extremely long passages of her bemoaning her lot. Unfortunately this gets extremely old really fast. This may be a result of listening to this rather than reading, but the reader's take on her tone was incredibly petulant for a lot of the book. Occasionally she takes on a more commanding and assertive tone, but overall this was a lot of inner monologue about how she's been so mistreated by the world.
I lost any care I had for the character when it came to the princes in the tower. (view spoiler)[The way Margaret chose to compare her command to execute two young boys in order to further secure her son's place in the succession to the throne to Joan of Arc going to battle was pretty disgusting. By this point, she was so twisted by her ambitions that apparently she couldn't see the difference between the murder of children and going to battle with an army. (hide spoiler)]
This was well-written, but I can't even say I liked it with how much I despised Margaret....more
A short story dealing with some of the history of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It's a pretty interesting little story, especially for fans of theA short story dealing with some of the history of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It's a pretty interesting little story, especially for fans of the series, and saying much more could be a whole lot of spoilers since this is so short. I was happy to see this as a freebie for my Nook and was able to finish it easily on a 15 minute break at work....more
I was super excited to hear Libba Bray was returning to historical fantasties, as my favorite of hers was still her Gemma Doyle trilogy. Plus, the 192I was super excited to hear Libba Bray was returning to historical fantasties, as my favorite of hers was still her Gemma Doyle trilogy. Plus, the 1920s are an interesting time of change in our history, and throwing a supernatural serial killer story with teens that have special powers just couldn't go wrong (okay, it could, but there's no way it could go wrong with Libba Bray).
I had a blast with this! I loved how creepy and horrific it was at times, paired with the varied cast of characters who all have their own troubles to deal with on top of some old prophecies that seem to be coming to life in here. Evie wasn't the normal young adult fiction protagonist at all, either, which was a fun change. She felt better-defined and less of a stereotypical quiet girl, which the genre generally relies on.
Naturally, the ending was absolutely evil and I'm very much looking forward to the next book. It's one of those endings that tied up just enough of the plot to not make me rage, but left so many questions that I need more right now. ...more
This covers a fairly interesting portion of history, including a little of the post-imprisonment Napoleon and his strange (but brief) return to power.This covers a fairly interesting portion of history, including a little of the post-imprisonment Napoleon and his strange (but brief) return to power. Post-revolution France really doesn't seem to get as much attention and revolutionary France, so it was extra interesting for me from that perspective.
Unfortunately I found this a very rushed and jumpy novel. Moran gives the narrative from three perspectives, and as a result I never really felt like I much got into the heads of any of them (Paul, the Haitian servant to Napoleon's sister, felt like the most fleshed out in character). There's enough to feel a little bit of sympathy for Pauline and her condition, and I definitely felt bad for Maria Lucia and her awful arranged marriage to Napoleon, but overall it didn't go beyond a little sympathy. Plus, the time skips ahead a lot, glazing over what sounds like some pretty fascinating bits of history. It felt like the narrative was more about skipping ahead a year or two during major events, to show the conversations that later happened.
This was still an enjoyable read, I just really wish she'd concentrated on one character's story line, or fleshed this out more. This is a pretty short book for the subject, and dividing it up between three characters made it feel even shorter for me....more
When I first saw this I was thrilled, thinking it was another Discworld novel (what can I say? I'm a sucker), but I was still super excited even findiWhen I first saw this I was thrilled, thinking it was another Discworld novel (what can I say? I'm a sucker), but I was still super excited even finding out it wasn't. I haven't read anything by Pratchett that wasn't a load of fun, and this was no exception.
I knew this was supposed to have a "Dickens feel," but it not only had that...the writing style felt much more Victorian, and Dickens appears as a character in the novel itself. It's basically a few levels of Dickens tribute, which is pretty fun.
The usual Pratchett snarky wit is here, and Dodger was a fun character to follow around as he journeys through a fantastical version of Victorian London (Sweeney Todd does appear...so it's not exactly straight-up historical). It's silly at times, it's got plenty of adventure, and like Dickens it really showcases the poverty of the time period....more
I was sold on this as soon as I heard the phrase "convent of assassin nuns," because really, how could I not be?
I'm happy to say this is full of whatI was sold on this as soon as I heard the phrase "convent of assassin nuns," because really, how could I not be?
I'm happy to say this is full of what I love--lots of political intrigue and complexities, action, some fantasy (she is, after all, the daughter of the god of death) and a dash of romance. To be fair, this deviates heavily on the romance aspects here and there, but the overall story is pretty strong without the romance, and it didn't have me rolling my eyes like a lot of the teen romances do.
Ismae grows a lot during this story. Despite her harsh beginning--an unwanted child that is sold off to a disgusting man and narrowly misses effectively being his slave for the rest of his days and being scooped up by the convent to be trained in the ways of assassination--she actually is a fairly naive character at the beginning of this. It isn't to say she doesn't have a badass streak--she knows how to kill and handle herself in a fight, but she still doesn't quite know what to expect out in the world or question things. Watching her begin to understand things better, albeit through her romantic interest, was satisfying.
Plus, I can never argue with a book that has the heroine saving the "hero" of the story, rather than the old formula. Ismae stands on her own--she may be in love, but she doesn't require a man to act, and that's a great message. Recommended!