While this functions as a compelling story - the intertwining lives of a 1970s artist and the poet Rimbaud (circa 1870) with some fantastical elementsWhile this functions as a compelling story - the intertwining lives of a 1970s artist and the poet Rimbaud (circa 1870) with some fantastical elements thrown in - the real delight is the way Hand layers everything together in a sort of ode to different art forms. There's graffiti and art history, half-destroyed Paris, poetry, music, and a handful of Classical allusions that wrap up the whole package nicely.
The only distancing element, for me, was that I didn't particularly like Merle or Arthur as characters. I was fascinated by their journeys and the way their art directs their lives, but I also found both of them annoying as people. So while I can admire the artistry of the plotting and style, I never connected with them on a personal level. ...more
While the style occasionally felt a little bit over the top - the lush descriptions could go from 'perfect' to 'too much' - I thoroughly enjoyed the sWhile the style occasionally felt a little bit over the top - the lush descriptions could go from 'perfect' to 'too much' - I thoroughly enjoyed the suspense, atmosphere, and characters....more
The writing style felt very old-school - not dated, necessarily, but there was something about the book that gave me flashbacks to my fantasy-devourinThe writing style felt very old-school - not dated, necessarily, but there was something about the book that gave me flashbacks to my fantasy-devouring adolescence. This was my first Mahy, and now I'd like to try more....more
This wins major points for addressing all the issues I had with Glow. This is really one of those series where it would be best to sit down and read tThis wins major points for addressing all the issues I had with Glow. This is really one of those series where it would be best to sit down and read them all in a row (if they were all out yet). Glow left me frustrated with a few things - I didn't click with either of the main characters, and there was a boatload of ambiguity about how people were acting and why. Was I supposed to be siding with Waverly or Kieran? And what about Seth?
While I still didn't completely click with any of the main characters in Spark, I certainly found myself less frustrated. More of the characters' personalities were falling into place, and we got more of Seth's perspective to help explain his behavior. Of course, the plot also continues to thicken, which again gave the book a brisk pace and plenty of action. I also became more accepting of the ambiguity - maybe I was just in the right mood for it this time - and I really appreciated the way Ryan doesn't let the characters be 'good' or 'bad' - they're all somewhere inbetween, and increasingly aware of their own flaws. Nicely done, very nicely done.
I'd recommend this series to teens (and some middle-schoolers) who are interested in space travel, or who like morally complex stories that also have plenty of action....more
Strangely enough, I didn't love this on audio as much as I loved the print version. The narrators did a good job, but I think I appreciated the materiStrangely enough, I didn't love this on audio as much as I loved the print version. The narrators did a good job, but I think I appreciated the material more as 'silent reading' - I felt the mood of the story more strongly on my own. Plus, in the early, difficult sections, the audio version doesn't let you skim over the horrors the way the print version does. I'd forgotten how the story wraps up (my poor memory makes for great rereading) and it was interesting to see which of my guesses were right.
While this was marketed as young adult in the US, I believe it was originally marketed to adults in Australia - and I think it could go either way. There are some aspects of the story that feel YA, and others that feel impossibly adult. I'd recommended it to older teens and adults....more
The beginning totally had me hooked - the story moves at a nice clip, the characters were just interesting enough, and I have a small weakness for timThe beginning totally had me hooked - the story moves at a nice clip, the characters were just interesting enough, and I have a small weakness for time travel stories. Perhaps because I'm completely willing to go along with the premise and I don't worry about deconstructing the logic of each particular theory of time travel? At any rate, I was enjoying the quick pace and the mild suspense, right up to the big showdown at the end, where I completely lost track of who was where and when and why I cared. So the ending fell a bit flat, and then of course I see that it's the first in a planned series, and then (this is beside the point but still detracted from the ending) I see the author gushing in her acknowledgements about how it's going to be a movie!
The story has solid appeal - I would say both to boys and girls, although the cover doesn't quite match that aspect of the story. I'd recommend it to fans of time travel and moderately action-packed stories....more
It's been a while since I reread Persuasion, so I enjoyed the similarities without being distracted by any ways that this homage might not have livedIt's been a while since I reread Persuasion, so I enjoyed the similarities without being distracted by any ways that this homage might not have lived up to the original. I particularly liked the ways that the futuristic setting allowed Peterfreund to explore social issues that often lurk in the background of Austen's novels. Note: not set in space, and I'm not sure exactly why I thought it was (for a few chapters, actually)....more
Darker than Daughter of Smoke & Bone, this answers a lot of questions from the first book. Not necessarily in terms of plot or things left hangingDarker than Daughter of Smoke & Bone, this answers a lot of questions from the first book. Not necessarily in terms of plot or things left hanging (although it does that, too), but in terms of how believable it is that Karou and Akiva have the relationship they do. Things are tested here, and that gives me faith in Laini Taylor to finish off the series in a solid way. The first book was much more fun, with that heady romance and the Prague setting and all the mysteries of the doorways and Karou's past.
Here, things get serious. We witness the horrors of the war between angels and chimaera, the awful choices Karou must make, and the fallout of various decisions from the first book. It's all well done - believably painful - but this makes it not quite as much of a pleasure to read as the first one. But of course, fans of the first one will want to find out what happens next, and it's hard but not bleak. Definitely read the books in order....more
May contain spoilers for Delirium, but not for Pandemonium.
I liked this sequel much better than Delirium. For one thing, I felt like Lena was coming iMay contain spoilers for Delirium, but not for Pandemonium.
I liked this sequel much better than Delirium. For one thing, I felt like Lena was coming into her own as a person. She learned to question her society in the first book, and here we see her dealing with the aftermath of that, and of her decision to leave for the Wilds. The changes in setting allow Oliver to flesh out her dystopian world - we see a greater variety of characters and opinions and ways of dealing with the dominant society. Plus, I felt like any romantic elements involved a lot less 'mooning and pitching,' to quote Anne Shirley. A sigh of relief all around.
The book alternates chapters between 'now' and 'then,' showing us Lena's current adventures as well as flashing back to what life was like when she first arrived in the wilds. This really keeps the plot hopping and offers some nice opportunities for comparison between the two storylines.
Cons: some things were just so predictable. I won't go into details to avoid spoilers, but this dragged things down for me. Other readers might not mind this - especially big fans of the first book. Overall, a stronger read than the first book, which makes me curious to see where things will go in what I assume will be the third installment in a trilogy.
Edited to add: what is UP with the cover? At what point in the story does she wonder through a botanic garden?
A slightly claustrophobic page turner. There are plenty of interesting issues going on - individual thought and freedoms, the ethical use of scientifiA slightly claustrophobic page turner. There are plenty of interesting issues going on - individual thought and freedoms, the ethical use of scientific advancements, etc. - but Revis never lets those slow down the action. The writing doesn't really shine, but the pacing is great for a quick, plot-driven story (which was what I was just in the mood for). I'm curious to see where she takes things in the sequel....more
An enjoyable story of Regency England, Egyptology, and intrigue. While it's never completely convincing as historical fiction (Bradbury's character maAn enjoyable story of Regency England, Egyptology, and intrigue. While it's never completely convincing as historical fiction (Bradbury's character make nods to convention but do away with it too easily to be believable) it does have a nice Regency atmosphere. There's a mystery to be solved, spies, hidden clues in the Rosetta Stone, and enough fun action to keep fans of all these things satisfied. While it never goes quite beyond just fun, it's a nice quick read that I'd recommend to fans of light historical fiction....more
I'm completely conflicted about this one. On one hand, I was enjoying the pace and the tension and all of the mysterious unknowns, both plot-wise andI'm completely conflicted about this one. On one hand, I was enjoying the pace and the tension and all of the mysterious unknowns, both plot-wise and in terms of Ryan's world-building - what will her version of life in space look like? On the other hand, I never clicked with either of the main characters whose POV we follow. As the story went on, I found the ambiguity surrounding their actions more and more frustrating. Wait, do I trust him now or not? Wait, is she being reasonable or suffering the effects of trauma? How much can I trust each narrator? I wavered back and forth between thinking that Ryan was doing brilliant things with characterization and being completely annoyed. That pretty much sums up my whole experience!...more
This may be my favorite Libba Bray book yet! I've had mixed reactions to her earlier titles. I enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty, but had some issueThis may be my favorite Libba Bray book yet! I've had mixed reactions to her earlier titles. I enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty, but had some issues with the fantasy aspect of the story (and that continued through the rest of the series, culminating in my 1 star review of The Sweet Far Thing). Then I thought that Going Bovine had some great things going for it, but didn't quite work. Same thing for Beauty Queens, which was hilarious and biting but otherwise flawed. Here we go, though - here's a happy medium between her tendency to go over the top and throw it ALL in, and her fantastic sense of characters and dialogue and setting.
Okay, maybe she goes a little over the top - there are an awful lot of characters, and there's an awful lot of setting things up for the rest of the series. The set up is all marvelous, but the loose ends may bug some readers more than others (I was particularly interested in what would become of Theta and Memphis, who factor into the resolution but don't play as large a part as I expected based on all the set up). Bray also goes a little over the top with Evie's slang, but the saving grace here is that she's the only character who speaks in slang, and the story is spread out over so many characters.
The book has got humor, suspense, a fantastically realized setting, and a decent pace despite the length. There's a little romance, a bit of action, some genuinely creepy scenes - basically a little bit of everything.
I was curious to see how creepy and suspenseful the story felt on audio - perhaps a bit less than it would have on the page, reading in a dim room at bedtime. The narration is well done - the women's voices slightly better than the men's, but it's fun to hear all the slang and accents and so on. This is one I'll easily recommend to high schoolers....more
I'm continuing to enjoy this excellent fantasy series (starting with The Girl of Fire and Thorns - and you do need to go in order). It features one ofI'm continuing to enjoy this excellent fantasy series (starting with The Girl of Fire and Thorns - and you do need to go in order). It features one of those fantasy worlds that you can just sink into, trusting the author to have her world-building in order. It's also a pleasant change from the more common northern European-inspired fantasy worlds - this is a world of deserts and tropics and heat, and the setting is key to the rest of the story.
Carson also has a knack for complex, conflicted characters. Most impressive, to me, is the way spirituality is a key component of the story - both in terms of who Elisa is as a person and a ruler, and in terms of creating a believable fantasy world.
This second volume ends on something of a precipice - we're not quite hanging off the side of the cliff, but the fates of several characters are up in the air. You can bet I'll be picking up book three when it's published!
In terms of audience/age level, there's some frank conversations about sex, but it's all either in the past or hypothetical - no one actually has any. Violence is the typical fantasy stuff, assassination attempts and magical stuff, with real, painful consequences.
As with the first one, I'd definitely recommend the series to fans of Kristin Cashore and Robin McKinley (although, stylistically, I think this has more in common with Cashore). It's also a series I've been recommending to adults who are discovering YA fantasy and want something that's a balance of fun reading and depth....more
So yes, I'll admit that this was pretty much a total fun book - it's got a dash of the supernatural, poison, assassins, court intrigue, and romance. ISo yes, I'll admit that this was pretty much a total fun book - it's got a dash of the supernatural, poison, assassins, court intrigue, and romance. It's a thick book, but nicely paced so that it doesn't feel long. Ismae is an intriguing character with a satisfying arc and a believable balance between feeling powerless and impowered.
While it's billed as the first in a series, I get the impression that each book will focus on a different character. There's a blurb at the end saying that book two will feature Sybella, a mysterious side character from book one, and I'm guessing that book three will follow Annith, another side character with potential for a good story. If this is the case, it's a refreshing break from the typical series mold. While another book about Ismae would certainly be entertaining, her story feels complete enough in this first book that I don't see the need for a traditional sequel.
While the book features an atmospheric historical setting that's crucial to the plot, it's the light kind of history that doesn't dwell too much on exact details and facts from history. Instead, it seems to incorporate the mood and setting without hitting the reader over the head with information.
However, as a historical fiction fan I was disappointed in the lack of historical note - I wanted to know, without having to look it up myself, which of the character actually lived and what liberties were taken with the facts. I wanted to know more about Mortain and the other old gods, and whether LaFevers invented them or used existing lore.
All in all, a very engaging story that I'd recommend to fans of books like Graceling as well as medieval historical fiction. ...more
I'm not sure what I think of this one. Like Divergent, it features a slightly far-fetched dystopian future, where society as become extremely regulateI'm not sure what I think of this one. Like Divergent, it features a slightly far-fetched dystopian future, where society as become extremely regulated in certain ways. In Delirium, it's love that's become regulated - in fact, the society has tried to wipe it out as a dangerous disease. There is, of course, a (very forbidden) romance, a hefty dose of teenage emotional ups and downs, and looming danger. There are a few action/chase scenes, but not as much as in Divergent - still, I think each book would be easy to recommend to fans of the other.
I think my main beef with Delirium - the thing that kept me from getting caught up in the story - was the fact that I didn't particularly like Lena. She's supposed to be sympathetic - we see her progression from enthusiasm about her upcoming procedure and complete faith in her society, to gradual disillusionment, to a complete rejection of a loveless life. Perhaps the sequel, Pandemonium, explores more of her personality and allows her to mature a bit. But as an adult reader, her emotional rollercoaster didn't quite ring true to me.
Still, I found the concept interesting and I'm curious to see where the sequel takes us. I won't hesitate to recommend this to teen readers looking for dystopia + romance....more
I first read this a few years ago and enjoyed it, and I've always meant to keep going with the series. My memories were hazy, though, so I reread it tI first read this a few years ago and enjoyed it, and I've always meant to keep going with the series. My memories were hazy, though, so I reread it to brush up before I jump into the second one, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy....more