I've waited to read this book since discovering The Cabinet of Wonders last year. It was one of my absolute favourite reads of 2008. Adored it. Utterl...more I've waited to read this book since discovering The Cabinet of Wonders last year. It was one of my absolute favourite reads of 2008. Adored it. Utterly.
I'm thrilled to death. The sequel, The Celestial Globe, was worth the wait.
The premise of this book starts up after the events of CoW. Petra Kronos still lives at the Sign of the Compass with her father, Mikal, and her talking tin spider, Astrophil. One day her home is set on fire and she is attacked and wounded, causing her to faint. When she awakes she is in the presence of John Dee... in London.
Meanwhile, Petra's friend Tomik (a glass maker) seeks her out and stumbles through a "loophole", which lands him on a beach. Picked up by Gypsy pirates he meets Petra's friend Neel who explains that there are loopholes all over the world. The pirates are trying to obtain a magical object called the celestial globe so that they can use it to travel the world with ease. Tomik despairs at not finding Petra and vows to reunite with her as soon as possible.
I'm thoroughly impressed with Rutkoski's skill. She excels at the technical aspect of writing, but more importantly she knows how to spin a hell of a story! Combining fantasy plot lines with historic elements and then setting it in Renaissance Europe... Wonderful. You have so many options with which to play with. First it was Prague and the happenings there. Now it's Elizabeth's court and the intrigue surrounding a few murders, which Petra has to ferret out the criminal in order to get home... gorgeous! Well met and wonderfully written. I'm mad for the next book!
wow! WOW!! This was an absolutely amazing book. I think in one fell stroke this has easily become my favourite book of the year. I wish I would have w...more
wow! WOW!! This was an absolutely amazing book. I think in one fell stroke this has easily become my favourite book of the year. I wish I would have written this, it's that good. Victorian/ gothic/ mystery/ steampunk/ spy thriller meets hunchback of notre dame/ phantom of the opera/ and frankenstein. If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would.
And now I have to wait, likely, more than a year for a sequel! Whinge!!!! (less)
This is a really weird read for me. On the one hand I enjoyed it: the exploits of Mary Seymour, a White Magician, in Queen Elizabeth's court are quite...moreThis is a really weird read for me. On the one hand I enjoyed it: the exploits of Mary Seymour, a White Magician, in Queen Elizabeth's court are quite interesting... on the other hand there is so much of the book where not a lot happens. The author spends so much time establishing the world that the overall plot is a bit weak and simple. On the other hand I just finished it and I can't tell you much about what the book was about.
Mary - Seymour, Queen Elizabeth, the Tudor court... all very very good things... the author's handling of that world... less so. I don't think I would ever pick up this book twice... and I'm reluctant to pick up the sequel "A Sweet Disorder", although if I need a fluffy diversion it might be a bit of fun. If I had something more to latch onto this book would have been incredible. As it were it wa just so-so. (less)
To start...what a fabulous premise! I'm not the biggest fan of alt-history kind of storylines but this one blew me out of...moreOh wow was this a great read!
To start...what a fabulous premise! I'm not the biggest fan of alt-history kind of storylines but this one blew me out of the water. Giant living fabricated ships squaring off against robots of war? The catch: World War 1. Brilliant... plus a hiding Austrian Prince and a cross dressing soldier girl... too much fun. The story alternates between the two narrators who are on opposite sides of the impending war so we get to follow what happens before the two characters finally meet up. The clever thing is how Westerfeld divides up the world into Darwinist Factions vs. Clankers which, in essence, becomes a subtle way of separating the more Secular divisions of Europe vs. the more Religious bits. Bravo. And through that all, Alec and Deryn (Dylan) are both fun to read about. The story literally races too. I finished this in a day.
I applaud Westerfeld's addition to the Steampunk genre, as well as breaking my "no alt-History" rule. Thank you very much. I will be reading more. (less)
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)
The Thirteenth Tale is a debut novel from British author Diane Setterfield. It’s one of those books that blew up upon arrival in 2006. Back then every...more The Thirteenth Tale is a debut novel from British author Diane Setterfield. It’s one of those books that blew up upon arrival in 2006. Back then everyone told me that I should read it and that I would love it. In the reviewing world it sometimes takes decades to get around to all those books that are on our to-be-read piles. Fortunately for me my book group forced me to cut this short of a possible decade long wait.
The Thirteenth Tale is right up my alley – dark, gothic, full of ghosts and intrigue, and a family story spanning generations. Long story short it was worth the wait.
Margaret Lea is an amateur biographer who grew up in an antiquarian book shop. Her Father reared her on Bronte and Collins and encouraged her writing when her heart turned to truth instead of fiction. One day another takes note of Margaret’s penchant for fact. A letter arrives from a woman who everyone in the book world knows; Vida Winter. Miss Winter is accomplished and widely successful for many years. She’s also reclusive, choosing to botch every journalists’ attempt to accurately report the facts of her life. Margaret’s inclination is to politely refuse until she reads her father’s rare copy of Vida’s beloved book Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. His edition is special, a first printing with the original title and there is no thirteenth tale. Margaret finds she has to know what it is and responds to Winter’s letter. Winter brings Margaret to her home, the once stately Angelfield. Winter is dying and wants Margaret to record her story for posterity. Margaret, intrigued by Winter’s haunted past, does not refuse. Thus begins the story of Winter and the ghosts that dwell in Angelfield.
Setterfield’s novel is ambitious and absorbing. It’s one of those novels that takes dedication on the reader’s part. This is not a novel for readers who only want action and plot. This is an intense, delicately paced character driven book. The life and times of Vida Winter are not for the faint of heart. Her story shows people at their worst and a house darkened by secrets and festering with fear and grief. It’s rife with gothic suspense and it draws the reader in.
I was sucked in from page one and I, like Margaret, had to know Winter’s secrets. As we go on the book becomes multi-layered, revealing more questions than it answers. Admittedly, there were times that I found the pacing a little too slow and I lost track of some of the detail from lack of focus. But the overall telling is exquisite and darkly rendered. I enjoyed reading it and I know exactly what to recommend when people ask for a great, thoroughly involved read.