Alison Kent seems stuck between straight-up category romance and deeper-issue women's fiction. That gave this book an uncomfortably disjointed feel.
I...moreAlison Kent seems stuck between straight-up category romance and deeper-issue women's fiction. That gave this book an uncomfortably disjointed feel.
I am more of a women's fiction fan; so much of a traditional romance puts me off. Unfortunately this novel showcased pretty much everything that rubs me the wrong way. There are cutesy names for everything. The entire conflict comes from characters withholding information. Threads were left dangling, presumably to get us to buy the next book in the series.
Kent has good skill; it's that skill that keeps me from giving the book 1 star. As it is I'd say its a 2.5 star book. (less)
I went on a Kinsella binge this week. I tend to find a lighter-read author and down their books like candy in the summer. Of all of the ones I read (p...moreI went on a Kinsella binge this week. I tend to find a lighter-read author and down their books like candy in the summer. Of all of the ones I read (pretty much every non-Shopaholic Kinsella title) this was, hands down my favorite.
I enjoy Wickham / Kinsella's books as a nice, fun change of pace. This one, however, is the weakest of the ones of hers I've read. It feels formulaic...moreI enjoy Wickham / Kinsella's books as a nice, fun change of pace. This one, however, is the weakest of the ones of hers I've read. It feels formulaic and less well-plotted. The catalyst which drove the action was completely implausible. (SPOILER) I'm a messy desk person. But I always know what's on my desk. If I saw a memo there that I didn't remember my first thought would be "who slid this into my mess, thinking I wouldn't notice?" Because messy desk people aren't always the absent-minded twits people think we are.
I just couldn't embrace any of the central conceits of the novel. (less)
Sure, it was written by a person called "Veronica Roth" but the style is pure Crichton. 1. Have an intriguing What-If...moreThis is a Michael Crichton book.
Sure, it was written by a person called "Veronica Roth" but the style is pure Crichton. 1. Have an intriguing What-Iffy premise. 2. Establish some cool visual hooks that would look good on the big screen 3. Lose track of the interesting premise and turn the story into a long, drawn-out series of battle scenes where characters run around in a difficult-to-visualize landscape that the reader skims. 4. Make sure that the secondary characters lack any sort of dimension. 5. Establish a villain who lacks ANY nuance whatsoever.
That's it. That's a Michael Crichton novel, and that's what Veronica Roth has written.
PROS-- The premise of a society with separate-but-equal caste systems was interesting.
The detail about the Dauntless pit--where most of the action takes place--was atmospheric, even if it was overtly Freudian.
As a Christian I appreciated the details about the Abnegation faction, which was very similar to my own Mennonite faith tradition.
The romance was VERY well done, with the right amount of tension and resolution.
CONS--(SPOILERS TO FOLLOW)
The logic of the faction system was hollow. Humans do not have one principal characteristic. I understand that this becomes the ultimate point of the series, but it's TOO facile. Societies require stronger foundational philosophies than some childish idea about "oh, you're a nerd and I'm a nice person and she's a tomboy."
The heroine was not at all sympathetic. The only reason the reader elevates her is because the story is told in first person. Up until the very end of the book every action she chooses is the unsympathetic one.
The secondary characters were all ciphers. No dimension to any of them.
There are two boys she is friends with, who protect her and stand up for her. One she pretty much compels to kill himself and the other she shoots in the head because he's attacking her while under the influence of the villain. But then there are two boys who spend pretty much the entire book humiliating her, beating her, threatening to kill her and even trying to rape her and throw her body off a bridge. When facing them during the climax of the story she shoots to wound. What's with this "kill your friends but wing your enemies" nonsense??
What's with these YA novels where the villain is this intensely evil head of an entire government hatching plans for world domination? Even worse, what's with this busy-and-important person taking time out of their puppy-boiling schedule to have long chats with random teenage girls? Even if they're winning Hunger Games or the daughter of another politico it's just utterly stupid. I don't see Kim Jong Il taking a meeting with Taylor Swift or Chelsea Clinton to chat about nuking Alaska.
I liked the book enough to plow through to the end. I liked it enough to check the sequel out of the library for a skim. But I'm just disappointed that so many of the books that are popular now are so...adequate.(less)
Yeah, I know it's fiction and it's meant to be light and escapist.
I was especially excited because it isn't often that childfree-by-choice characters...moreYeah, I know it's fiction and it's meant to be light and escapist.
I was especially excited because it isn't often that childfree-by-choice characters show up in chick lit. When the heroine talks about meeting her boyfriend at a childfree meeting I thought "hmmm...at last a book for us single-gen families.*"
(*the term "childfree" has negative connotations for those with children. The term "childless" likewise has negative connotations for folks like me who are not parents. I tend to prefer the designation "single-generation family" as it describes my family without a harsh subtext. I use the term "childfree by choice" in this review because that is the way the character refers to herself.)
I suppose my two-star review is in itself a spoiler for the fact that by the end of the book our plucky heroine declares that she DOES want kids...she was just afraid to let herself want them in case she couldn't have them!
Because you know, secretly everyone wants a child or two or five.
It's kind of insulting, really.
Had it not been for that bit of nonsense I'd most likely have given the book 2.5 stars rounded up to three. All of the secondary characters were annoying, there was no comeuppance for antagonists and bratty kids' vandalism of leased property was treated as a punch line with no consequences befalling them.
And of course the heroine has an unrealistic "career" that gives her oodles of free time to swan around being eccentric.
It just wasn't as fun to read as it thought it should be.(less)
I have read _Crossroad Cafe_ five times. It's one of my favourite escapist reads of the last three years. I loved it enough to send Deborah Smith a "t...moreI have read _Crossroad Cafe_ five times. It's one of my favourite escapist reads of the last three years. I loved it enough to send Deborah Smith a "thank you" note for having written such a wonderful novel.
In the wake of reading (and loving) _Crossroad Cafe_ I bought as much of Ms. Smith's backlist as I could track down and read it all.
Naturally I was thrilled beyond measure to see Smith leave her "Leigh Bridger" persona and paranormal romance series behind and return to this wonderful Appalachian story land.
Have you ever eaten Lucky Charms cereal? You know how there are all the crunchy oat bits and the occasional sweetness of marshmallow? Well, _The Biscuit Witch_ is the fiction version of a bowl of Lucky Charms marshmallows. Since the book is a novella, the crunchy oats of setup and character growth are gone. Instead it's all the sweet high points of a Deborah Smith novel, crammed in an awkward way into this thing that passes for story.
The characters' quirky lives are setup in a few tossed off opening paragraphs; what should be the first act of the novel is missing entirely. Instead we dive right into the meet-cute involving a bear, a bronco and a batch of banana cupcakes. The male love interest falls immediately in love with Tallulah Bankhead MacBride--have I mentioned how utterly PRECIOUS everything is?--and she reciprocates. Twelve hours (!) later they're sharing a house. Twenty hours after their INITIAL MEETING the neighbours phone Tal to take care of her love interest after a cute-sick head injury. Yes...after less than one day she is the emergency contact for this man.
There's the usual bit about how food=love and Tal bakes the best biscuits. Three more days, maybe four, Tal's little girl is calling THE MAN THEY JUST MET "daddy". And the book ends and they live happily until the sequel, which is coming in a couple of months.
I normally love the escapist worlds of Smith's work. But this is all phoned in and feels like an attempt to cash in on the first book's popularity.
I'm trying to resist the urge to give this 1 star. Because it's a fine story on one level that works for what it is. But knowing how much better Smith can do makes this review hard to distill into a star rating system. I'll go with three--rounded up from 2.5. Anything else is grade inflation out of a fondness for Smith's other work.(less)
I'm giving this one star even though I didn't make it past 25 pages. Why? Because after a tense operation to save a boy who cut himself up by falling...moreI'm giving this one star even though I didn't make it past 25 pages. Why? Because after a tense operation to save a boy who cut himself up by falling off a roof, the doctor and nurse/love interest couple go to the local cantina in Mexico where they both drink tap water. But before they drink the water they order chicken enchiladas. A few sentences later the cook brings them tortillas and fajita fixings. JUST A FEW SENTENCES LATER the nurse "takes a bite of her BURRITO"!!!
That's just sloppy. Sloppy, poor, first-draft crappy writing. Hell, if your FIRST draft is that careless about detail you don't need to be writing, to say nothing of having that be your final, saleable copy.
No way was I going to not have this purchase refunded, and no way was I not going to shout from the rooftops about what utter cack this is.
I was really in the mood for a light, carefree romance after all the heavy reading I've done this last week. I'm so angry that I can't even sit down for a light snack-read without having to work as an editor.(less)
This was a daily deal. It cost me $1.99 and two hours.
I think I have a new rule, that being: Any fiction book that has recipes in the back automatical...moreThis was a daily deal. It cost me $1.99 and two hours.
I think I have a new rule, that being: Any fiction book that has recipes in the back automatically loses a star.
At the beginning of the book the protagonist is making a coffee cake. (Recipe in the back, natch.) Her cat comes into the room. She puts dry cat food (alas, no recipe!) in the bowl. Then she puts butter in the bowl.
It's not immediately clear that she went back to the coffee cake process; it sounds like she gave a stick of butter to the cat. I'll skip over how grossed out I am that she allows the cat into the kitchen where she prepares food for HER ENTIRE BED & BREAKFAST (health codes much??) and ask how a clunker like this made it through editing. Okay. Maybe I won't skip it. Gross.
I very much love novels set in hotels, inns, cafes, taverns, and restaurants. But this is the first mystery I've read in a hospitality setting, and I just don't think it works for me. What I enjoy about those stories is a feeling of nurturing and community. With the murder mystery element added--and all the red herrings that accompany it--that atmosphere is tainted. There is just no getting it back, no matter how many scone and brownie recipes are tacked on after the fact. (less)
It's quite a shame that we've been conditioned by the environment to expect everything we experience to compel us from the outset.
I do know that not...moreIt's quite a shame that we've been conditioned by the environment to expect everything we experience to compel us from the outset.
I do know that not every book will have the same appeal to every person, and that's okay. But so many of the negative reviews for this (or less than fully positive) complain about the novel's slow start.
It does indeed start slow. By embarking upon the first page you have been dropped into a wholly unfamiliar world where a whole lot of stuff is about to happen. And happen it does, from page 83 (according to my Kindle) onward you feel the momentum build into a crazy train of story that you won't want to leave. But up until page 83 you are getting your bearings. Bearings that have to balance you through some admittedly _different_ stuff. But that's okay. Because that's what Hartman needs to do to make the story meaningful. I'm not going to complain about those 83 pages of groundwork because they paid off spectacularly well.
My only complaint at all is that this is being marketed as a YA book. I know that's what is hot right now. I know that "YA" is the magic word for selling copies of anything. But is this YA? I consider it a fantasy novel with a young female protagonist. I hesitated to read it at first because I'm tired of YA, tired of all the Hunger Games wannabes clogging the shelves. This is not a "wannabe" of anything. It is its own magnificent work, original and real. (less)
Not my favourite of the Vorkosigan books; there is too much x-filesish running around in disorienting spaces. I dislike that type of storytelling, whe...moreNot my favourite of the Vorkosigan books; there is too much x-filesish running around in disorienting spaces. I dislike that type of storytelling, where you can't get a mental fix on the setting. This book was much less cerebral than the previous Vorkosigan novels. Ironically it's the least relatable; I found myself far less interested in this Earth-based tale than any of the stories set on foreign worlds. In many ways this book seems like the "bottle episode" of the series, with everyone confined or held prisoner.
I just didn't like this story. So far I can see myself rereading all of the Vorkosigan books--except this one. (less)