So. That was a solid Marla Mason story, with several engaging twists. (Fans, you'll never see Nicollette coming. Really. It's--you'll just have to reaSo. That was a solid Marla Mason story, with several engaging twists. (Fans, you'll never see Nicollette coming. Really. It's--you'll just have to read it.)
With each new book, I do wonder how Pratt's going to manage to up the stakes. I mean, at this point, Marla's overcome (view spoiler)[ monsters, psyche-augmented rapists, assassins, gods, Death himself, (hide spoiler)] so many Big Bads, with a capital "B" (no offense, Bowman,) and even made inroads on her own bloody-mindedness...yeah. So how do you find something worse? Pratt keeps managing it, somehow--though the plots are starting to feel a little mechanical at points, they're still entertaining and fresh. Plus, all the juicy, juicy character development. (view spoiler)[I suspect Marla may have sealed her fate on this one--that last decision was really bad, and she knows it, she's deliberately transgressed against her own goal--but I find I'm actually o.k. with that. Marla's story has always had more than a tinge of tragedy about it, and if it goes traditional with the big "tragic flaw," I'm sure Pratt's writing is up to the challenge. (hide spoiler)]
I think that these books are my feminist answer to The Dresden Files, which I just couldn't tolerate. Marla's not a nice person, but Pratt manages to write an often unlikeable character without resorting to sexist stereotypes. That's a hell of an achievement. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I will have to write a longer review after my brain has recovered from all the squeeing this book elicited from me. Really. I just. I just can't evenI will have to write a longer review after my brain has recovered from all the squeeing this book elicited from me. Really. I just. I just can't even begin to describe how delighted I was by this latest Vorkosigan novel. It's light on plot, sure, but who cares? We get to positively revel in the characters, and most especially Cordelia. Plus, delicious, delicious backstory: what were Aral and Cordelia getting up to while Miles was gallivanting around the galaxy? Well, you'll get some quite revealing details and they'll make a lot of things clearer.
Spoilers: (view spoiler)[ In some ways, the book feels like a perfect eulogy for Aral; his passing shadow looms large over the characters, but we get to see the legacy of full life and fulfillment he left them with. (hide spoiler)]
So...this novel is what I would describe as "peak Night Vale." The stylistic quirks of the podcast are in great evidence in the novel. If you enjoy thSo...this novel is what I would describe as "peak Night Vale." The stylistic quirks of the podcast are in great evidence in the novel. If you enjoy those quirks, then you will probably enjoy the novel.
However, I found that some things that work well in a brief, auditory format did grow a little wearing in the sustained concentration of a novel. (In fact, it struck me that, given the novel isn't narrated by Cecil, those verbal ticks that characterize his radio program belong less to Cecil than to his writers. To a certain extent, this diminished the uniqueness of Cecil himself, especially as a narrator.)
That said, I loved getting a chance to see Night Vale through other eyes, and I loved the main characters of the novel. "Welcome to Night Vale" the novel is concerned with family: families of blood as well as families that you choose. Sometimes those categories overlap. I connected to both Jackie and Diane; though their circumstances are bizarre, their reactions to them are very human and comprehensible. And the plot, once it got going, became engrossing--especially in the latter third of the book. There are moments of humor sprinkled throughout, as well as moments of true horror, and/or poignancy.
It's hard to know what to say about this book. It made me feel intensely nostalgic, and I was heart-broken by the opening. The ending was immensely saIt's hard to know what to say about this book. It made me feel intensely nostalgic, and I was heart-broken by the opening. The ending was immensely satisfying--Tiffany centered, knowing who she is and who she has always been, but also who she will be. In some ways, I will always love it for what it is: not only the last Tiffany book, but the last book Sir Pterry wrote.
And yet...The Shepherd's Crown wasn't as devastatingly disappointing as Raising Steam, but both books definitely shared a few characteristics: they were preachier and less subtle than I've come to expect from Sir Pterry; they did a lot of telling, rather than showing; they retread old ground (and old plot lines,) not always quite managing to make them fresh; and they seemed to be written to go out of their own way to name-drop every character possible. If Raising Steam was the Ankh-Morpork Retrospective and Reunion Party, then The Shepherd's Crown was the Witches' Argument and Potluck. Everyone showed up to be counted, and sometimes the roll call did get a little tiresome (especially in battle.)
That said, I do think The Shepherd's Crown is maybe the best example of what set Discworld apart from other fantasy: most fantasy is, by its nature, nostalgic, pro-authoritarian, and (somewhat) anti-progressive. Discworld didn't start out that way, but it became increasingly progressive (and capital "P" progressive) the longer it went on. It gives us a vision of the trappings of a medieval (or early Industrial) culture, but with a forward-looking attitude. The stories, even in the midst of silliness and satire, are informed by Enlightenment sensibilities: the value of human life, human knowledge, human ability to change and grow better, morally as well as culturally, balanced by an acknowledgement of its failings and stupidities. For that, as well as for it's marvelous humor, incredible storytelling, and brilliant setting, Discworld will always be an amazing addition to our literary galaxy. ...more
Oh lord, this book. Given the reviews by friends I think I may have done it a disservice by "reading" it in audiobook, rather than on traditional papeOh lord, this book. Given the reviews by friends I think I may have done it a disservice by "reading" it in audiobook, rather than on traditional paper. As a listen it was...endlessly, brutally repetitive and frustrating. The interminable, cyclic worrying of the characters--especially when, as readers, we know those worries have been resolved pages and pages ago--as they repeat every possible hitch, factor, and potential disaster lost all drama for me as they were reiterated over and over. Dramatic irony is a splendid device that can be used by authors to create suspense, or expectation of relief; here, it had a sapping effect on my interest. If I had been able to skim, I probably would have enjoyed the book much, much more. Added to a pacing that was positively glacial, and a deeply depressing (and often disgusting) setting and story, and it's a wonder that I managed to finish the blasted audiobook.
To Willis' immense credit, despite all of the flaws in the writing (or medium,) her characters held me in place. I wanted to know what would happen; I wanted them to survive. When they didn't, I was deeply touched. That speaks to the power of her writing.
I can't say that I enjoyed this book, but neither can I say it was a bad one. It was a terrible listen, but still had a lot of power....more
In the introduction, the author acknowledges the debt "Bryony and Roses" owes to McKinley's "Rose Daughter." To me, "Bryony" felt like someone had re-In the introduction, the author acknowledges the debt "Bryony and Roses" owes to McKinley's "Rose Daughter." To me, "Bryony" felt like someone had re-written "Rose Daughter" just for me. While I liked the older book, it didn't sink into my heart the way "Spindle's End" or "Deerskin," or even "Sunshine" did--those stories have always felt mine, in some intimate and hard-to-define way. I have a few friends who feel that way about "Rose Daughter."
"Bryony and Roses," however, burrowed right down into my heart and brain, put down deep roots, and demanded that I read it NOW.
The so-called Kingfisher has been a favorite author of mine for a while now. She has an incredibly deft sense of humor, frequently making me bark out a laugh in startled, pleased surprise; and her characters have a sensible, unvarnished realism that makes me believe in their flesh. Reading her books, I cry, I shudder, I laugh. I laugh often, delightedly. I knew that I would love "Bryony and Roses" from the first line, but when I met the Beast and he was...not just suffering, but sardonic, sharp-tongued and caustic and vulnerable with self-loathing, my heart leaped.
This is a very good book.
It takes a very good book to make me want to live in a story that is essentially gussied-up Stockholm Syndrome, but Kingfisher does it, and well.
This book is dense, intriguing, and thought-provoking. I loved it; sometimes I struggled to follow it, and it will require re-reading before I can truThis book is dense, intriguing, and thought-provoking. I loved it; sometimes I struggled to follow it, and it will require re-reading before I can truly say I understand everything that happened. But it is a book that I think will reward re-reading. Leckie's revolutionary approach to gender in this book was very interesting. In our society, it often seems like we have "humans" and "female humans"--male is the fault. By changing that up Leckie creates a universe and character perspective that not only feel different, almost inhuman, but calls attention to why that perspective might feel so alien. I thought it was very well done.
The plot was tougher to follow, the dialogue often hindering my understanding of the action. I found myself frequently reading over passages multiple times to understand what had just happened and what had been said. This was tiring, at times, but it didn't exhaust my interest. I will be very curious to see what happens next in this series. ...more
Nope. Anachronistic, poorly researched, with annoying, repetitive internal dialogue and a shoe-horned, ridiculous romance with treacly self-help nonseNope. Anachronistic, poorly researched, with annoying, repetitive internal dialogue and a shoe-horned, ridiculous romance with treacly self-help nonsense crammed in. Nope, nope. I was constantly being thrown by anachronistic or inept moments. For example, canvas is not paper. An artist's canvas is made of specially prepared fabric on a wooden frame. One might call a blank sheet of paper a blank canvas, but that is purely metaphor. So when the narrator referred to the sheet upon which Ceony was bound as a canvas, I was nonplussed. My nonplussed-ness increased to sheer irritation as Ceony put on make-up (something associated with actresses and prostitutes in the Victorian era, not that they drew much of a distinction between the two,) or referred to getting therapy in school--not to mention the whole idea of a woman being apprenticed to an upper-class man. Who has no servants. These are anachronisms, and rather ridiculous ones. Not to mention further, the various Americanisms sprinkled throughout. I realize that steampunk has introduced a lot of people to the love of all things Victorian, but for goodness' sake. And I found myself laughing at inappropriate points throughout, such as when (view spoiler)[ Ceony crawls through the heart valve and a river of blood, all I could think throughout the remaining dramatic! flashbacks was, "Ceony looks like Carrie right now. And she stinks." (hide spoiler)] I expected to find this interesting, because of my love of paper crafts, but altogether I'm rather glad I got this book for free....more
**spoiler alert** Chris Riddell's lavish (although oddly and sparsely gilded) illustrations raise an unsatisfying story to a truly beautiful book. I h**spoiler alert** Chris Riddell's lavish (although oddly and sparsely gilded) illustrations raise an unsatisfying story to a truly beautiful book. I had seen this tale marketed as a lesbian fairy tale, and it does not live up to that score. I was enchanted by Gaiman's bisexual Snow White, but I guess I expected a queer romance? Instead, Sleeping Beauty was a sexual predator, and the (beautifully illustrated) queer kiss was undercut by what felt like a stereotypical predatory lesbian/opportunist. Maybe I shouldn't fault the book for not being what I expected, but I was left feeling deeply dissatisfied by the story. ...more
Just finished this, and I want to re-read it before posting a more full review, but these are my initial impressions:
I was so super-excited to finallyJust finished this, and I want to re-read it before posting a more full review, but these are my initial impressions:
I was so super-excited to finally get another Old Kingdom book that I might have done "Clariel" a disservice. I had really high expectations. "Clariel" suffers in comparison with the rest of the Old Kingdom series, especially with "Lirael," oddly enough, which is its closest cousin (har) in terms of structure. It takes its time setting up the characters and the world, something I thoroughly enjoyed, and then seems to rush through the last third of book to a rather unsatisfying ending. (I would have really liked to see (view spoiler)[ Nix carry Clariel all the way through to Chlorr, rather than leave her at the beginning of her downward spiral (hide spoiler)].)["br"]>["br"]>...more