It would be hard to say what I hate most about this book and its publication. I hate that my library website now lists To Kill a Mockingbird as "To KiIt would be hard to say what I hate most about this book and its publication. I hate that my library website now lists To Kill a Mockingbird as "To Kill a Mockingbird Series, Book 1" as if Go Set a Watchman is a sequel. (IT'S NOT A SEQUEL!) I hate that Harper Lee's lawyer claims she recently discovered the manuscript when in fact she has known about it since 2011 and was only waiting for Harper Lee's sister and longtime protector, Alice, to pass away before she and the publisher cashed in. I hate that the announcement of publication was made only two months after Alice Lee's death. And I especially hate that the lawyer, Tonja Carter, claims Harper Lee fully supports this publication when in fact Ms. Lee is a frail, hearing- and sight-impaired stroke victim living in a nursing home who was most likely manipulated into this publication.
All that would be appalling enough, even if the story were good. But it isn't. It's rough, it's preachy, it's boring, the dialogue is unrealistic, and Jean Louise's internal monologue switches between 1st and 3rd person in an odd, clumsy way. So maybe I hate most that the person tasked with protecting Harper Lee chose money over honoring her literary legacy. I hate that people are equating the Atticus Finch of this rough first draft to the Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird as if this book is a continuation of the same story rather than the germ of an idea that eventually became a classic novel. And I really hate that this money grab by Harper Collins and the bloodsucking lawyer will likely tarnish two great American classics--the book and the movie--forever. The sad thing is that it's working. This never-should-have-seen-the-light-of-day book has sold 1.1 million copies in a week--the fastest selling book in Harper Collins history--and I really, really hate that.
This week, the world lost its collective mind over a dentist who killed a lion. I'd like to reserve my outrage for the lawyer who killed a mockingbird....more
I used to love Jane Aiken Hodge way back when, but this book makes me wonder why. The storyline was silly, the romance lacked depth, the characters weI used to love Jane Aiken Hodge way back when, but this book makes me wonder why. The storyline was silly, the romance lacked depth, the characters were nondescript, and there really didn't seem to be much reason for the romance other than gratitude and propinquity. The heroine, Camilla, begins falling in love with the hero almost instantly--apparently for no reasons other than physical attraction and because he rescues her from governess hell. The hero, Lavenham, takes a little longer because he doesn't trust women. Emphasis mine, because we're told over and over that he doesn't trust women. In fact, the story occasionally dips into his point of view just so he can mutter to himself about how much he doesn't trust women. The episode from his childhood is certainly traumatic, which makes his attitude at least somewhat understandable, but after a while I just wanted to say, for god's sake grow up and get over it. The plot revolves around Lavenham's mission to Portugal which is comically vague. (The author includes a lot of history about Portugal's role in the Napoleonic Wars but skates over minor details like the hero's reason for being there.) His one brush with danger seems included only to provide a romantic interlude. He spends the rest of his time dancing attendance on the Portuguese royals to absolutely no effect. It is this life-or-death non-mission that also leads to his abandoning the heroine for close on 50% of the novel, leaving her and his own sister to fend for themselves as war erupts in Portugal. This is hardly heroic behavior but is not even the worst of what he does to the heroine. Happily for the romance, she's more willing to forgive him than I was on her behalf. All in all, a forgettable romance....more
This is one of my least favorite of Heyer's Regency romances. The characters are unappealing, and the mystery at the heart of the story could be clearThis is one of my least favorite of Heyer's Regency romances. The characters are unappealing, and the mystery at the heart of the story could be cleared up by one frank conversation amongst family members. Not exactly riveting stuff. In a close race, the heroine finished as my least favorite character. An amazing chance to escape a life of drudgery as a governess comes her way (for however implausible a reason), thereby bringing her into contact with a charming set of brothers who fall all over themselves to accommodate her, and all she can do is whine about it. Sometimes she is spirited and intent on bringing the hero down a peg, which gives her the potential to be a fun character, but more often she is humorless and complaining, which makes her annoying and totally unworthy of the "splendid adventure" she finds herself in the midst of. The hero is a close second on the annoying front. He hoards information like gold--to the detriment of several other characters in the story--and behaves as if his word is law and his instincts infallible. The romance between them is nonexistent and only signaled by other characters' reaction to them. Far from compelling, but even sub-par Heyer is better than most....more
I'm kind of on the fence about this book. On the one hand, I loved the way Emily has to learn to craft a life for herself after all her friends go offI'm kind of on the fence about this book. On the one hand, I loved the way Emily has to learn to craft a life for herself after all her friends go off to college. She eventually does a good job of it--as one of her former teachers says to her:
"You've discovered, I see, that we have to build our lives out of what materials we have. It's as though we were given a heap of blocks and told to build a house..."
That's a message that really resonates with me and I enjoyed watching Emily grow. What I didn't enjoy as much was her odd obsession with Don, who from the beginning seemed like a real jerk, and the slightly preachy tone of the story. I appreciated Emily's zeal to help the Syrians, but the romanticized, one-dimensional portrayal of them was ridiculous (borderline insulting, really), and at times I felt the author was more interested in pushing a political agenda than in telling a story. That is (emphatically) not what I'm looking for in a novel. I read, re-read and loved the Betsy-Tacy books as a girl, but for me, this book doesn't quite measure up. ...more
I read this years ago, but it was never one of my favorites. This time, I re-read it from an omnibus edition that also contains Touch Not the Cat. TI read this years ago, but it was never one of my favorites. This time, I re-read it from an omnibus edition that also contains Touch Not the Cat. The two books don't have much in common other than being romantic suspense stories, but as I read I was struck by the fact that both novels involve family members as romantic leads. In Touch Not the Cat, (view spoiler)[the relationship is a distant one, but the heroine spends much of the story wondering if her first cousin is her secret lover (hide spoiler)]. In The Gabriel Hounds, the hero and heroine are second cousins who were basically raised as brother and sister. I suppose having your romantic leads already well acquainted makes it easy for the author to dive right into the story without contriving any meet-cute situations, but I can't say it's a plot device I care for. There's something creepy about a romantic couple remembering how they were bathed together as children. The story itself is interesting enough, but rather convoluted and implausible, and the hero disappears for long sections which makes the romance even more shorthand than their already close relationship allows. Not one of Stewart's best. ...more
This is billed as a novel of suspense, but there isn't a great deal of suspense involved. It's pretty clear early on who the bad guys are and what theThis is billed as a novel of suspense, but there isn't a great deal of suspense involved. It's pretty clear early on who the bad guys are and what they're trying to accomplish. It takes the main character rather longer than it should to tumble to some fairly obvious conclusions, but I enjoyed the story despite these issues. I liked the backdrop of Evie's job as a curator and how that meshes with Mina's experiences during World War II. I especially liked Mina and how strong and independent she was and how feisty she remained even as the bad guys tried to Gaslight her. I also appreciated the history behind this story. Before I read this, I had no idea that a B-25 crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945--much less that Betty Lou Oliver really did survive a 75-story plunge in the elevator. Overall, an enjoyable, if not suspenseful, read....more
Never one of my favorites of Mary Stewart's books, and re-reading it all these years later hasn't changed my opinion. The story makes for a nice traveNever one of my favorites of Mary Stewart's books, and re-reading it all these years later hasn't changed my opinion. The story makes for a nice travelogue of rural Greece, but as a romantic suspense it falls short. It's never much of a mystery who the villains are in the story--just why they're doing what they're doing, which is secondary to their interaction with the hero/heroine. Nor is the romance particularly satisfying. We're meant to believe the two young (too young!) leads have fallen for each other, but their romantic interaction is pretty close to nil. For the most part it's an entertaining story with interesting people and an intriguing setting; it just isn't all that memorable....more
I love the hero of The Unknown Ajax, Hugo, who turns out to be so unlike his initial appearance in the story. His size and expression make him seem liI love the hero of The Unknown Ajax, Hugo, who turns out to be so unlike his initial appearance in the story. His size and expression make him seem like "the lubber Ajax," but his actions eventually reveal that "Ajax shall cope the best." (Who but Heyer could insert so many quotes from Troilus and Cressida into her story and make it work?) I love that Hugo's sense of humor won't allow him to resist hoaxing the Darracotts when he realizes they believe him to be a Yorkshire bumpkin in need of training. And I love that it is his sense of fun that draws Anthea to him. The secondary characters are entertaining as well, especially the feuding brothers Claud and Vincent, and the involving plot even includes a moral of sorts as Heyer shows that it is the Darracotts' casual acceptance of lawbreaking (smuggling) that leads to their troubles. An excellent read....more
This book is an old favorite that I hadn't read in years. Unfortunately, I didn't find it quite as enjoyable as I remembered. Some of the humor fell aThis book is an old favorite that I hadn't read in years. Unfortunately, I didn't find it quite as enjoyable as I remembered. Some of the humor fell a little flat for me, and the romance between Sir Tristram and Sarah was not as well developed as I would have liked. I loved that Sarah mocked Tristram for that well-worn romance-novel cliche of letting an early disappointment sour him on women, but I just couldn't quite believe in their transformation from strangers to lovers practically overnight. It's still a delightfully ridiculous romp, but I don't think it ranks with Heyer's best....more
This book is an old favorite that I haven't read in ages, but I'm happy to say it still holds up for me. Stewart's literate writing and vivid descriptThis book is an old favorite that I haven't read in ages, but I'm happy to say it still holds up for me. Stewart's literate writing and vivid descriptions set the standard for romantic suspense. Who else but Stewart could maintain the suspense of a mad car chase through Provence while taking the time to make the countryside come alive?
But for the wind of our movement, the day was utterly still; under the pitiless sun of late morning the leaves of the planes that lined the road hung heavy, in thick lifeless clusters of yellow-green. The lovely stems of the trees with their dapplework of silver and russet-peeled bark, shone in their long colonnades like cunningly worked pillars. The blinding road was barred by their shadows.
I also love the depths of her characterization and how she shifts our impression of Richard as the story progresses, so that our viewpoint changes as Charity's does. (Although I will say that it strikes me now, as perhaps it didn't years ago, that Charity and Richard fall in love awfully fast--based on little more than instant attraction--and that makes the romance a little hard to believe at times. Also, the climax depends on a lot of coincidences, but somehow Stewart makes it all work.) Re-reading this reminded me of just how intelligent and descriptive Mary Stewart's writing was, and I'm looking forward to revisiting more of her wonderful novels....more
I loved the setting and time frame of this book--I always love a peek into high society life of the early twentieth century--but I struggled a bit witI loved the setting and time frame of this book--I always love a peek into high society life of the early twentieth century--but I struggled a bit with the characters. I suppose the author was trying to make a point about the shifts women were forced into when it came to marriage back in the day, but I must say I found it hard to sympathize with the heroine as she manipulated her poor hapless victim. I didn't much sympathize with the victim either, since he walked wide-eyed into every trap she set for him. It turned out all right in the end, but it was occasionally a struggle to stick with it. Fortunately, the writing was charming and had a sly humor to it that was quite entertaining....more
An old favorite and one of Heyer's best, in my opinion. No Regency writer ever immersed her readers in the time period as deeply as Heyer did, and VenAn old favorite and one of Heyer's best, in my opinion. No Regency writer ever immersed her readers in the time period as deeply as Heyer did, and Venetia and Damerel are among her best creations. Their romance is unconventional in every way, but they are perfectly drawn and perfect for each other. The secondary characters are just as engaging. Edward Yardley and Mrs. Scorrier are delightfully ludicrous characters--irritating and hilarious at the same time--and Aubrey and the old retainers at Undershaw add depth to an already wonderful story. No one ever has or ever will (judging by the Regency dreck that is published today) done it better....more
Probably gets my vote for Heyer's best Regency romance. Sophy is a marvelous creation and her convoluted plots to rescue and rearrange her loved ones'Probably gets my vote for Heyer's best Regency romance. Sophy is a marvelous creation and her convoluted plots to rescue and rearrange her loved ones' lives are endlessly entertaining. I've probably read this a dozen times or more over the years and it never fails to delight....more
Interesting story that I mostly enjoyed. Unfortunately, I found the Francie character as annoying in the book as she is in the movie, and I thought thInteresting story that I mostly enjoyed. Unfortunately, I found the Francie character as annoying in the book as she is in the movie, and I thought the story sagged a little in the middle, but the lovely atmosphere of the Riviera goes a long way to make up for those faults. Amusing that the book version of John Robie uses a disguise to make himself look paunchy, clumsy and balding as he hunts the thief--not hard to understand why they left that part out of the Cary Grant movie....more
I know the reader is meant to find this book super suspenseful and be amazed by all the twists and turns, but I mostly found it tedious. It was disappI know the reader is meant to find this book super suspenseful and be amazed by all the twists and turns, but I mostly found it tedious. It was disappointing really, because I think the author had a great concept here; I just didn't like the execution of it. The story dragged in many places, and the constant retelling of events from different characters' points of view felt clumsy and poorly executed. Maybe the real problem was just that there's no one in the story to root for. All the characters are appalling people, and I ultimately didn't care too much what happened to any of them....more