Ok, I finished all four of the Blue Bloods books in 6 days. So that says something.
However, the fourth book, The Van Alen Legacy, is a very different...more Ok, I finished all four of the Blue Bloods books in 6 days. So that says something.
However, the fourth book, The Van Alen Legacy, is a very different book from the rest of the series. It deviates from the established formula set up for the Blue Bloods. In every book the storyline follows three narrators (Schuyler, Bliss, and Mimi) as the story develops. These three are still present, however they do not spend the majority of the book frivolously gallivanting about New York socialite-ing it up. Schuyler is running across the world seeking asylum from the European conclave. Bliss is riding backseat in her own body while Lucifer joy rides his way over her life. And Mimi... Mimi has forsaken all to search for Jordan Llewllyn with the Venators.
The book is fine. It's just not what I wanted, nor expected, especially considering that the first three were perfect. I'm reminded of when I read Harry Potter 7. It was a good read, but I laboured through much of the book because it felt SO different from the previous 6. It didn't jive with me as much. Like HP 7 this book drags. It feels about 70 pages too long, and it's 250 pages of camping all over again, for lack of a better metaphor.
The other thing I have a hard time buying is Mimi Force. Mimi - as a Venator? Queen Mimi Force of New York proper who survives on multiple feeders, manicures, Pilate's, and trips to Barney's...as a Venator? Why on earth would this character become a Venator? The queen of duplicity and cruelty would never give up her 4 figure 5+ course meals to tromp around the world searching out a child, particularly after forsaking her bonding ceremony. This plot line does not work within the constructs of her character. She's too taking, too much of a princess. She's Mimi effing Force! Mimi Force...as a Venator? I don't buy it, even though I know why the plot line is there and see why it has to be it's a hard bit to swallow.
The first 200 pages of the book are grueling. Then all three work their way back to New York and it becomes a delightful book. However, it's still 200 pages of camping.
This rates a 4 out of 5. Need I explain why? It's the first BB book to do that. I hope book 5 makes me happier.
Sigh, oh Francesca Lia Block... you had me at wine and seductions of young, impressionable beauties with satin ball gowns and Portishead. I always am...more Sigh, oh Francesca Lia Block... you had me at wine and seductions of young, impressionable beauties with satin ball gowns and Portishead. I always am impressed with Block's writing ability and her nuance, particularly in how she couples words and imbues them with about ten different meanings. Eventually I want to read everything that Block writes, and I am slowly working my way through it all... must make a point of reading the Weetzie Bat books soon... mental note. I've written it on the internet...so it must be so.
So why the four stars if I liked it so much? Well, even though I liked it and I can't identify anything particularly, glowingly wrong about "Pretty Dead" I can't quite give it a perfect rating. I wasn't crazy wowed. It was good, I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed the stroy. It was just...just.
The story itself is a vampire story, one of those through the sprawling ages, present at every major world/cultural event kind of vampire story. It actually reminds me a touch of Virgina Woolf's "Orlando" in places...the continuing immortality...the changes that Charlotte goes through... the angst...very Orlando-esque. And, in typical Block fashion it rounds itself off in a very comforting way.
It's good, it's just doesn't have that extra "Oh my gods gush!" factor. Still, an under perfect Block book is still lightyears ahead of many others. This won't disappoint the vampire fans looking for a new book (less)
Perfume, by Patrick Suskind, was recommended to me by a friend several years ago. I shelved it on the back burner as one of those books to read when t...more Perfume, by Patrick Suskind, was recommended to me by a friend several years ago. I shelved it on the back burner as one of those books to read when the mood for something gripping struck me. Fast forward five (six, seven?) years and I finally have an excuse to read it - a three person book group read, myself included. Joy.
For the record this is one of those books that numerous patrons and folks at the book store I work in have told me is a "must read", so I know virtually everything about it at this point. There were no surprises because all of the highlights had been revealed prematurely. It's like hearing people talk about the Stieg Larsson books, about Salander's rape and revenge. By the time I got around to reading it I was completely desensitized to the horror of those page (good thing too, I don't handle rape plots very well). The same can be said about this book. "Oh, you must read Suskind's Perfume. It's about a guy who murders women to capture their scents! It's brilliant!"
Fine and good, but brilliant is truly subjective in this case. Let me rephrase that. I liked the book, but I felt underwhelmed considering it had five (six,seven?) years of praise heaped upon it before my perusal. I also felt that the events leading up to the protagonist's demise were completely drug out. The whole ending is overlong. And unbelievable. I was on board until the ending but it lost me somewhere along the way.
I feel a little conned. To be fair the reader is supposed to; that's a big part of the book's appeal. We follow the charlatan Grenouille from his birth to his death (like all good pre-Victorian type novels). Grenouille is in possession of the finest, most acute, sense of smell, and he is also obsessed with distilling the greatest scent the world has ever known. I say he is a charlatan because he spends the better part of the book boasting about his abilities (mostly within internal dialogues) while simultaneously learning the craft of his bombast. Like I said, I feel a little cheated. This mountebank is one of the most one-dimensional, vain, insufferable characters ever to write 250+ pages about... and I ate up every bit, and licked the spoon afterwards.
I feel like everyone who has told me about this "must read" has misled me just a bit. This whole book feels false, and yet I can't utterly despise it. There is a certain something compelling about the story of this huckster. This "devil". This indescribable narrator. Maybe if I had not had the whole story revealed to me (before reading it, as I am doing now) I would not have felt so duped. Maybe that's not the right word... so torn on whether this book is a masterful piece of fiction, or a complete let down. At times I felt unequivocally seduced. At other times bamboozled. It's a weird book to talk about.
I'm giving it a tentative 4 out of 5 stars. I didn't hate it. I just wanted something else. Frankly, I really didn't want him to resort to grubby murder to attain his ends. He's a creator, an artist, a master. I wanted him to create his master scent, not to steal it. He would have been more sympathetic.
4 out of 5. Yeah, that seems right. I'll be seeing the movie this week.
I realize that I probably should have read this book several years ago when it was shiny and new. However, I read it today...the whole book...all 533...more
I realize that I probably should have read this book several years ago when it was shiny and new. However, I read it today...the whole book...all 533 pages...all 284 beautiful illustrations. Yep.
For the record, this is one of those books that everyone has told me I needed to read, so today I finally decided it was time. The story follows young Hugo as he scrounges for food, steals, and sets the clocks in the Parisian train station. He is obsessed with this notebook of his father that details a variety of clockwork mechanisms. When he finds an actual automaton that is drawn within the pages Hugo's journey begins to get really intriguing.
I think the illustrations in this book are beautiful. However, I did feel a disconnect with the actual story itself. This book took a while for me to warm up to and I think this is directly caused by the fact that it is told in pictures and in text but is very unlike traditional sequential art. It's a little too "one or the other and not both" for me. That, and the aforementioned hype leading up to my read, had me expecting something over the moon. While it's good I did not love it like I probably should have. What I did like about it was that this book is a giant love song to both old films and Paris and, in that, it definitely succeeds. Plus, the ending is quite touching.
I started reading Alexandre Dumas's famous book The Three Musketeers when I was 15 years old, half a lifetime ago. I remember reading, oh, 100+ pages...more
I started reading Alexandre Dumas's famous book The Three Musketeers when I was 15 years old, half a lifetime ago. I remember reading, oh, 100+ pages or so and enjoying it. However, I was distracted by something else and set it down, vowing one day to pick it up again. It took 18 years and I've finally (reread and) finished the damn book. Huzzah.
For the record, the things I enjoyed about it half a lifetime ago have had the edges worn off with personal experience. I've discovered things in the last two decades like Feminism, and cultural appreciation... and that I do not have to finish books I am not enjoying. I finished this book though as a matter of personal pride because I vowed to almost 2 decades ago. I did not love it though. It's a very dated, very male book.
Much of the book follows the exploits of D'Artagnan, a youth from Gascony, as he attempts to join the King's royal guards, the Musketeers. Shortly after his arrival in Paris the Cardinal Richelieu disbands the guards and D'Artagnan is left floundering. He hooks up with three men, said Musketeers - Porthos, Aramis, and Athos. The rest of the book follows the four's attempts to buck political schemings between the Cardinal, the Duke of Buckingham, and a number of other people.
This book is a prime example of what is wrong about Victorian serialized novels... It's too damn long. It's a book where the author clearly was paid by the word...and the syllable... and the letter... and the punctuation mark... There is a lot of unnecessary text within the context of this novel and as a result the novel drags and drags. I always advocate reading books in their complete form, unabridged. This book, however, might be better served with having at least 200 pages cut out. There is so much padding to it I wonder it Dumas was paying for an estate with the profits. Or a mistress. There's a lot of fat to the book.
The women characters, at large, are loathsome. It took Dumas over 100 pages to introduce any (besides a peripheral innkeeper's wife) and when he does they are all pieces of work - The queen who might be cheating on her husband, the married woman who snatches D'Artagnan's eye who has a love affair with him, the female spy who manipulates everything... Sigh. I wonder what Dumas thought of the female sex in general because if this is any example it's clear that he was not a fan. Now, one can make the argument that this is how many male writers have portrayed women and that Dumas is just one of many but to write every single female main as a vile harridan just seems like he's making a point. And it's a point I don't appreciate as a woman, to say the least of being a twenty-first century woman. Wer are not all disloyal shrews.
Besides that, the male posturing in this book is so heavy handed it chokes the reader. I told a friend while I was in the midst that I felt as if the males were walking around with hands on hips and jutting erections protruding from their loins. I wish this, in fact, was the "sword fighting" they were talking about so frequently because the metaphor certainly feels apt with this book. "We're going to fight...with our cocks. And we are going to repeatedly hit you upside of your head to make points... with our cocks." Much of the book is very "We are manly men and these are our manly men friends and our manly men dealings. Let's get drunk and be men!" I sort of wish Monty Python would have made a film version of this book. I think that is exactly how they would have conceptualized it and that would have been semi-charming at least. I was not overly charmed by these men. In fact I began to grow weary of them forcing their erections on me.
There are some interesting points to this novel. There had to have been, or I wouldn't have continued with it. Much of the court intrigue was quite thrilling. And I did love the dynamic of the four main characters and their separate personality quirks. I would have loved this book had it not been so penis-centric. As it was I felt as if they were gagging me with their manhoods... and I mean every bit of disgust over that euphemism. Parts of this book made me feel dirty that I was still reading it. I felt like I was betraying my sex when I loved it, and I felt let down by the fact that this is a classic when I hated it. Mostly, I just checked out. It was the only way to finish it, to read it half mast. With half of an erection.
... 2.5 to 3 stars out of 5. It's a hard one to judge, but overall I wouldn't ever read it a second time.
So, I loved the Gallagher Girls books - the previous works by Carter set in a specialized prep school where brilliant girls are trained to be spies......moreSo, I loved the Gallagher Girls books - the previous works by Carter set in a specialized prep school where brilliant girls are trained to be spies.... Too much fun. With "Heist Society" Carter cements her place in my list of "Authors who I must read"...regardless of what the book is, or what it is about. Period. End of story. No contest.
We enter the world of Katarina (Kat) who grew up in the midst of plots and intrigue. Her entire family steals, her entire childhood has prepared her for one grand heist... to save her father's life she must break into the Henley museum and steal paintings. The con... that no one knows are there. That's the trick.
With "Heist Society" Carter explores the world of theives and con-artists, electronic specialists, and precious works of art. Having a background in fine arts myself I love the idea that precious works of art become priceless upon theft. They instantly become too hot to sell. Carter expounds on this idea, inventing fictional works of art that evoke the real masterpieces. Beyond that the book is one giant fast paced caper that reminds one of old movies and slick gansters. Carter masterfully creates a fantastic world that instantly feels more grown up than her Gallagher girl books, even though the charcaters are teenagers.
I loved it. I want more of it. I think Carter has to work more within this world. Bravo, Carter! Bravo. (less)