Sensitive characterizations drive this tale of the Green Man and the cycle of the seasons. Sisters Molly and Hannah have been sent to live with their...moreSensitive characterizations drive this tale of the Green Man and the cycle of the seasons. Sisters Molly and Hannah have been sent to live with their grandparents following the sudden death of their mother. While Hannah is angry at everyone and everything, Molly takes refuge in books and stories, and ends up befriending the mystical Green Man when she aids him in his narrow escape from the Holly King. Molly becomes obsessed with saving the Green Man, convinced he can bring her mother back to life. But summer is over, fall is here, the Holly King is hunting, and the Green Man can't hide forever. As Molly comes to understand the myths and the idea of balance between death and life, she and her family face the reality of her mother's absence. Beautifully written narrative with humorous moments; recommended for anyone who likes Celtic myths, a fast read, or for anyone whose child is beginning to ask difficult questions.(less)
I read The Lost Ones before I came back to read this--the first in Ace Atkins' new series. Good stuff. Great characters, crisp dialogue and good atmos...moreI read The Lost Ones before I came back to read this--the first in Ace Atkins' new series. Good stuff. Great characters, crisp dialogue and good atmosphere. (less)
Darkest Sketch Award! (Robot Chicken reference for those of you not in the know. The Cape is based on a Joe Hill story of the same name, found in 20th...moreDarkest Sketch Award! (Robot Chicken reference for those of you not in the know. The Cape is based on a Joe Hill story of the same name, found in 20th Century Ghosts--and where the story drops off, the adaptor and the artist flesh out the characters and continue the story, giving it a few more darker turns but bringing it to a good conclusion. Read something happy after you finish this one though. (less)
A dark offering about a changeling caught up in Titania's quest to unseat Mab. Never read anything of Mike Carey's before. Sometimes the art was hard...moreA dark offering about a changeling caught up in Titania's quest to unseat Mab. Never read anything of Mike Carey's before. Sometimes the art was hard to take, especially the renderings of Mab (she graces the cover). Story was decent but it was hard to dredge up sympathy for the main character until the end. (less)
Great resource. The classic foundations of Celtic religion, from St. Patrick, St. Brigid and St. Brendan and including an introduction to Celtic spiri...moreGreat resource. The classic foundations of Celtic religion, from St. Patrick, St. Brigid and St. Brendan and including an introduction to Celtic spirituality, translated Welsh and Irish prayers, and translated material for the Celtic liturgy. (less)
Companion book to BBC series of the same name. It's the most information about Scotland I've seen in one place that focuses primarily on ancient or me...moreCompanion book to BBC series of the same name. It's the most information about Scotland I've seen in one place that focuses primarily on ancient or medieval Scotland. The first two chapters alone talk about the cultures that existed in ancient Scotland--hunter-gatherers next to agriculturalists--and the archaeology there. So it was refreshing in that respect. It also doesn't focus primarily on Bruce or Wallace, which are not the only 2 people in Scots history (you know who I'm talking about). I learned a lot about St. Columba, Scottish archaeological sites, and twentieth century culture. It's a great general overview of things Scottish, and a great jumping-off point for more research.
One weird drawback: the photos and illustrations don't always seem to match their chapter content. ???(less)
This is the second book in a new series by Ace Atkins starring Quinn Colson, former Army Ranger come home to rural Mississippi and now serving as Sher...moreThis is the second book in a new series by Ace Atkins starring Quinn Colson, former Army Ranger come home to rural Mississippi and now serving as Sheriff. Colson and his deputies must ferret out an illegal baby-adoption ring while tangling with the Feds (one beautiful agent in particular) over a gun-running scheme masterminded by the local rich guy and one of Colson's old buddies. Great book--the characters are relational, the dialogue is spare, and the story is straightforward. I went back and picked up the first one, The Ranger--which, thankfully, you don't have to read first in order to enjoy this one. (less)
What is it lately with me picking up books that are great in the first half and not so awesome in the second half?
I almost gave this three stars. Wan...moreWhat is it lately with me picking up books that are great in the first half and not so awesome in the second half?
I almost gave this three stars. Wanted to. I loved the first half of the story, set in 1906 just before and during the great San Francisco quake. This part concerns a lab assistant who finds evidence that California was explored and possibly claimed and settled in the early 1400s--and what happens to that evidence and who was involved in keeping it secret.
In the second half Steinbeck jumps forward to 2008 and introduces us to a grad student named Luke who comes across old notes pertaining to an historical discovery that was lost at sea. Luke enlists--and in turn is enlisted by--a Chinese linguist and his very rich father to find it.
What's sad is that this part of the book has little to no soul. It runs as a mechanical play-by-play in order to wrap up the story from the first half. It's an archaeologist's best-case-ever scenario (which NEVER HAPPENS except in L.A.), with lots of coincidences, no expenses spared, cool toys and good luck for the protagonists. The writing also suffers. Maybe the writing is more suited to historical fiction? I don't know.
The book's two-page coda serves as a better ending for the first part of the story. By the time I reached that, I wished I'd never read the book. (less)
I was disappointed in Tess Gerritsen's latest R & I book. I couldn't wait to read this but fairly quickly felt that some things were lacking--one...moreI was disappointed in Tess Gerritsen's latest R & I book. I couldn't wait to read this but fairly quickly felt that some things were lacking--one being Gerritsen's prose, which is usually dense and more evocative than the language used to render other thrillers out there on the market. In fact, within ten pages she repeated the line "Come with me if you want to live." Where have I heard that before? Terminator, where it's been done to death.
The book, off to a rocky start, improved after the initial setup, showcasing Rizzoli's sarcastic wit and her friendship with Isles after Isles testified against a cop. But ultimately too much was going on (a visit to NASA results in a faux-red herring) and some questions were never really resolved. Not Gerritsen's style.
Rizzoli & Isles are two of my favorite characters in fiction. Gerritsen has a talent for grounding characters in cases. This time the case ate the characters, and overall Last To Die felt too formulaic. Not fair, Tess Gerritsen! I just discovered your books right before the TNT series showed up, and I loved them. Hopefully I will like the next offering better. (less)
The Ritual is a camping-trip-gone-wrong horror story ala Blair Witch Project and Deliverance, but fused with ancient Norse mythology. Four friends lon...moreThe Ritual is a camping-trip-gone-wrong horror story ala Blair Witch Project and Deliverance, but fused with ancient Norse mythology. Four friends long past their London university days reunite in Sweden to hike into the forested borderlands, and find out that nowadays they really don't have much in common. The protagonist, Luke, feels especially alienated--but when they stumble across a house, a stone circle, and an ancient church, and something horrific begins stalking them in their nightmares and through the woods, Luke becomes the defacto leader.
If indeed this was all there was to the plot, I'd have been happy. The second half serves as explanation for the first half, and I really could have done without it. Or perhaps it could have been shortened. It's the point in the story where the first group of people runs into a second group of people, hoping for help, only to find out the second group initiated the entire horrific event, or is apathetic toward the situation, or is insane... or all of the above.
Adam Nevill has trouble holding the moment, so I was never truly scared, but I did check the shadows of my house for carnivorous entities. He's pretty good at creating characters; I felt what they felt--grief, horror, laughter. Sooo--up until that second half, I was really impressed with the book, and especially the way he created a modern horror story out of ancient and strange mythologies. (less)
Once upon a time I saw this book on the shelf and picked it up and took it home and tried to read it, and it was very... surface? so I took it back to...moreOnce upon a time I saw this book on the shelf and picked it up and took it home and tried to read it, and it was very... surface? so I took it back to the library and marked it off my mental list of books and forgot all about it. (The disadvantage to a "mental" list.)
Two weeks ago I picked it up again and gave it another go. Normally I don't read this kind of book (which seems to me to be along the same lines as Catherine Coulter and Iris Johansen, etc). Given my interest in art and Celtic culture and religion, I thought this would be a match.
It wasn't. No matter how far I read, the story was still... surface. I couldn't get drawn into either the characters or the action. Perhaps because of the tense & POV? I think Ms. Neggers has awfully good templates for interesting characters, but this does not include the villain, who wasn't very villain-y. Also, if this book is supposed to be suspenseful, the definition of "suspense" must be very loose indeed.
I'm writing a review on it so I know not to look at it sometime next year and think "Oh, I should try that one." It's supposed to be the first in a series, but unfortunately I wasn't engaged enough in this one so I won't pick up any of the others. It's back to Rizzoli & Isles for me.(less)
I put this in the "horror" category because 90% of the stories will have you on edge (like the first one, or "The Rundown," or a couple of others that...moreI put this in the "horror" category because 90% of the stories will have you on edge (like the first one, or "The Rundown," or a couple of others that stuck with me). Other stories are beautifully, amazingly reminiscent--like "Better Than Home," a story about a boy connecting with his father on a baseball diamond--or beautifully wondrous, such as the short story about the tree-ghost.
The collection's theme means each story investigates different connotations of "ghost." A ghost could be a dryad. It could be someone who disappears. Someone who's shifty; who operates outside of societal norms. It could be someone who feels he's a shadow of his former self; someone who feels he could be greater and had the chance and now is not. It could be a dryad; it could mean the things we carry with us from our pasts into the present.
Hill's writing is concise and packs a punch. The man has amazing talent; I liked Horns and Heart-Shaped Box but am really, really impressed with his stories.(less)
Jeremy Jackson's memoir captures the essence of growing up in small-town Missouri (who knew, he grew up about three hours north of me?). Anyone lookin...moreJeremy Jackson's memoir captures the essence of growing up in small-town Missouri (who knew, he grew up about three hours north of me?). Anyone looking for a straightforward memoir will be disappointed; the writing meanders in a way that reflects both the kid-narrator and the adult looking back on his life and family. It's intentionally slow, and once I got into that, I remembered what it was like to be a kid in small-town Missouri: following creeks, chasing frogs, making up our own games, taking trips to Kansas City or Jefferson City; when we were afraid of storms or of what will happen to our grandparents. Beautiful & nostalgic writing. (less)
I wanted to like this book. I'm supposed to like this book. It's been nominated for a Hugo, after all. It has everything that could appeal to a scienc...moreI wanted to like this book. I'm supposed to like this book. It's been nominated for a Hugo, after all. It has everything that could appeal to a science fiction/fantasy reader. The protagonist loses herself in science fiction of all types? Check. The protagonist is an outcast? Check. Are there fairies? Check. Magic? Check. Conflict? Check. Great characterization? Check. Secret kingdom? Check. Unreliable narrator (normally my favorite)? Check.
Which makes it all the worse for me, writing this review.
One problem with Among Others is that it's too slow. The blurb sounds like it's chock full of action. But the story itself is a bit flat in terms of tension. It's possible I don't remember what I was like when I was fifteen, or what life was like when I was that age, and maybe that's why I couldn't really connect with the main character.
Another problem has to do with all the science fiction nods. I like science fiction, but I realize I've read only a quarter of it. So I didn't get quite a number of references in the book. I just accepted them for what they were and moved on. And noted them down for future reading lists.
This doesn't mean don't try it yourself. I just couldn't connect with it. I hesitated about giving it three stars, but conversely, while I don't recognize all the science fiction writers, I think the magic was really, really awesome, and coming up with and writing a story like this is genius. Among Others is as important to the science fiction/fantasy canon as Zelazny and Heinlein. (less)