I really wanted to like this book. I've heard great things about it from my booktwins*, and I enjoy the TV show. But I knew this would be a DNF from tI really wanted to like this book. I've heard great things about it from my booktwins*, and I enjoy the TV show. But I knew this would be a DNF from the first page:
"I'm blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial."
The first page, people. This is the kind of thing I expect from high school creative writing classes (I should know, having produced similar info-dumps regarding similar Mary Sue heroines in my high school career). Sookie is annoying, her voice is flat, and I do not understand why everyone loves her.
I cannot imagine why this particular series was chosen for television development. I like the TV show, but the books are emphatically not for me.
*People** whose reading tastes generally mirror mine. **I don't know any of these people. Unless by "know," you mean "lurk on their blogs." In that case I know them very well....more
This incredible book is a take on the utopia/dystopia genre that I've never seen before. Instead of imagining how one system of governance or cultureThis incredible book is a take on the utopia/dystopia genre that I've never seen before. Instead of imagining how one system of governance or culture would benefit or harm our world, Le Guin introduces a character - a completely neutral character, a man who tests as average on every personality test his psychiatrist can throw at him - whose dreams change reality. George Orr, the dreamer, ends up in Dr. Haber's office because he has been abusing drugs in an attempt to stop his dreams. However, Haber builds a machine that allows him to control George's dreams, and the book proceeds through versions of reality based on Haber's vision of a perfect world. To Haber, the means are nothing; it is only the ends that matter. Both he and Orr remember all of the realities they have gone through, and Orr feels that the means (reducing overpopulation with a great Plague that killed 6 billion people) do not justify the end.
Further, the end isn't something that one man, no matter how well-intentioned, should be in charge of. Le Guin urges us towards a view of progress as a social process - we get by with a little help from our friends. The means are the ends, and we are all in it together....more
A fun, hot book. Nikki and Kid finally get to have their own book, but it would have been better if they had had the conversation Janzen kept promisinA fun, hot book. Nikki and Kid finally get to have their own book, but it would have been better if they had had the conversation Janzen kept promising. Janzen has built their relationship up over several books, and at the beginning of the novel she addresses their problems, but they never do. Of course action is important in romantic suspense, but there's a way to balance it with the romance.
That said, I love Skeeter. I love that Travis is becoming more filled out, and I love Jane Linden. I just hope Janzen fulfills her promises in those books....more
Another amazing entry in the Kushiel's Legacy series. Although the series goes on, this is the final book of Phedre's story. Carey's masterful plottinAnother amazing entry in the Kushiel's Legacy series. Although the series goes on, this is the final book of Phedre's story. Carey's masterful plotting pays off beautifully in Kushiel's Avatar, bringing Phedre physically, mentally, and emotionally farther than she has ever been. Phedre's unique relationship with pain is explored beyond the obvious erotic possibilities. As someone whose strength is in yielding, she alone is capable of dealing with the darkest side of human nature. Carey explores the relationship between pain, love, and sacrifice far more subtley than readers have any right to expect from a fantasy epic. The Kushiel's Legacy series is a sweeping tale of love, war, betrayal, and politics, but it is also a nuanced meditation on human nature and faith.
For me, one mark of a great book is whether it can keep me up well past my bedtime. Kushiel's Avatar not only did that, it forced me to break my no-spoiler rule: it was far too late for me to keep reading, but I had to flip ahead just to make sure that Phedre and company would be okay. I couldn't sleep without knowing....more
Jo Walton is just the most imaginative writer working today. What if there was a Victorian novel of manners, but all the characters were dragons? Uh,Jo Walton is just the most imaginative writer working today. What if there was a Victorian novel of manners, but all the characters were dragons? Uh, what? It sounds ridiculous, but it works. Maidens are ruined by leering, inappropriate men who take advantage. In a Victorian novel, such a thing can be covered up; in this novel, the maiden dragon turns pink if a man gets too close to her, and she really is ruined. What if a son takes his brother-in-law to court over the inheritance left by his deceased father, which he feels was unfairly distributed? Sounds familiar, except in this case the inheritance includes the father's body, which the survivors eat in order to grow stronger. What if a female dragon is asked to bear too many children, and dies in childbirth? Wait, that one's the same. Except she lays eggs instead of having babies. Walton even throws a little gothic in there, with a mad dragon piling rocks in front of a maiden's bedroom door and getting rid of (in this case eating) servants who displease him.
At times I forgot I was reading a work of fantasy, because Walton's use of Victorian mores was so spot on. Then she would mention a character stretching her wings, or eating raw sheep, and I would be reminded. This book is a small joy of Victorian and fantasy literature....more
This book begins two weeks after Farthing, with Mark Normanby now Prime Minister of England and introducing laws to make England a fascist state to riThis book begins two weeks after Farthing, with Mark Normanby now Prime Minister of England and introducing laws to make England a fascist state to rival Germany. Anti-Semitism is rampant, communists are nearly equated with terrorists, and the jails are so full the country has to build new ones. It is a clear case of some white, Church of England middle class and above people turning their heads because their livelihoods have not yet been threatened. Churchill has been silenced and those who agree with him work as terrorists to bring down the new British regime and with any luck topple Germany.
In Ha'penny, we alternate between the first person perspective of Viola Lark (nee Larkin) and the third person perspective of Inspector Carmichael, who solved the murder in Farthing and was told to shut up about it. Viola, an actress, becomes involved in a plot to bomb Hitler and PM Normanby on the same night - the opening night of her play, Hamlet. Viola is to play Hamlet in a cross-cast production, and Walton does fun narrative tricks where Viola herself feels like she is in a play within a play, unable to make real decisions and unable to trust her instincts. Carmichael, despite being blackmailed by his superiors (for his homosexuality), sets out to discover why Viola's castmate is blown up in her apartment and whether further bombers are at large.
This alternate history is downright creepy for how easily it could have been. It is very affecting to read a scene in which Hitler is greeted by his British hosts and admired by a British accent who finds him charming and polite. ...more
A bit uneven. Janzen does best when she's funny, and Travis and Red Dog are not funny. Their relationship is perhaps a bit dysfunctional, which couldA bit uneven. Janzen does best when she's funny, and Travis and Red Dog are not funny. Their relationship is perhaps a bit dysfunctional, which could have made for a great story, but there were too many pages dedicated to the secondary romance for that to happen. I wanted to see Red Dog change more. I like how much Travis has developed over the course of the series, but Red Dog was definitely shortchanged.
On the other hand, the Smith/Honey storyline was sharp and funny, more what I'm used to from Janzen. I think if she had stuck with the tone of the main story, it would have been a more solid book. ...more
Skeeter and Dylan have great chemistry and hilarious dialogue. Janzen has been nurturing this May-October romance along for five books now, and the buSkeeter and Dylan have great chemistry and hilarious dialogue. Janzen has been nurturing this May-October romance along for five books now, and the buildup was worth it. Skeeter is absolutely believable as a badass operative. In fact, I find her more well-rounded than Dylan, who I didn't even know was a master thief until this book. I hope Skeeter doesn't go the way of other Steele Street heroines - that is, relegated to summaries made about scenes that happen off the page. This book also has a great setup for the next installment.
Two things, though:
1. What's with "Geezus"? I assume this is an editorial decision made to prevent offending readers, but in books that are about torture, murder, and terrorism, I think that bird's already flown.
2. Who designed these covers? And how do they manage to draw the lumpiest man-silhouettes I've ever seen?...more
Incendiary is written entirely in the voice of a working-class London woman, a feat in itself since Chris Cleave is neither of those things. The unnamIncendiary is written entirely in the voice of a working-class London woman, a feat in itself since Chris Cleave is neither of those things. The unnamed narrator is writing a letter to Osama bin Laden, whose terrorist cell in London blows up a football stadium, killing 1,003 people including her husband and son. The woman herself is badly injured in the aftermath of the blast, when she makes her way to the destroyed stadium and gets trampled.
The text is alternately tragic, funny, and inspiring. The woman is clearly a PTSD survivor, with constant images of the people in front of her in everyday life burning, blowing to pieces, and bleeding. She has visions of her four year old boy, who follows her everywhere. As a coping mechanism she joins the Met, where her husband was a bomb-disposal expert (a painful irony), in order to do her bit fighting the terrorists. She also has a destructive relationship with Jasper Black, a rich journalist who lives in her neighborhood and is deeply attracted to her because she looks just like his girlfriend, Petra, only with the opposite personality. Ultimately it is the web of unhealthy relationships between the narrator, Jasper, Petra, and Terence Butcher, the head of anti-terrorism, that brings the narrator low at the end of the novel, when we find out her letter to Osama is part of her break from reality.
Incendiary, like Little Bee, was written in response to a specific problem (in this case 9/11) that is still painfully applicable. Cleave writes about a fictional terrorist attack, but the way he describes the aftermath in both societal and personal terms is eerily prescient. ...more