Haunted house stories tend to freak me out and this one had me totally freaked for the duration -- even the funny parts seemed ominous -- but I honestHaunted house stories tend to freak me out and this one had me totally freaked for the duration -- even the funny parts seemed ominous -- but I honestly can't tell if this was truly a haunted house story or a slow decent into madness story. Maybe both. The writing is brilliant in its wit and subtlety.
Also, Eleanor reminded me of a coworker who I tend to find extremely annoying. Oddly enough, I think this book has softened my feelings towards her.
Fighting the urge to do an immediate re-read. Maybe I'll re-read The Lottery instead, it's been a few decades....more
Sunako Nakahara is possibly my favorite character of all time. She's one of a handful that I unreservedly adore, at the least. I've watched the animeSunako Nakahara is possibly my favorite character of all time. She's one of a handful that I unreservedly adore, at the least. I've watched the anime so much I figured it was time to read the manga.
The art and storyline are practically the same. Some of the movement pieces are a little clearer in the anime (like when Sunako pops out of the bushes at the beginning), but I really liked how the party scene was handled in the manga -- it's more "Sunako to the rescue, harmful politeness rules bedamned" than "Sunako the weirdo clutz." Either way, her aunt gets annoyed that Sunako isn't a lady yet (aka, perfect feminine girl-doll) and the story continues in the next episode. Can't wait!...more
This was so much fun! The setting is Georgian England, but the story structure and tone seemed much more 1930s to me, a slapstick comedy that had me cThis was so much fun! The setting is Georgian England, but the story structure and tone seemed much more 1930s to me, a slapstick comedy that had me casting Carole Lombard as the mischievous Miss Thane, Errol Flynn as the dashing Ludovic, Fredric March as the level-headed Tristram, and... I'm still struggling to figure out who could do justice to Eustacie's morbid enthusiasms, prompted by too many Gothic romances.
If I hadn't been reading a library book, I would have dog-earred about half the pages in search of the perfect quote to share. But instead of quoting half the book, I'll share what is probably my favorite passage (along with the scene where Eustacie describes her imagined trip to the guillotine and the scene where Miss Thane and Tristram announce their betrothal. So many possible choices!)
"A secret panel?" repeated Miss Thane in an awed voice. "You mean actually a secret panel?" Ludovic regarded her with some slight concern. "Yes, why not?" "I thought it too good to be true," said Miss Thane. "If there is one thing above all others I have wanted all my life to do it is to search for a secret panel! I suppose," she added hopefully, "it would be too much to expect to find an underground passage leading from the secret panel?" Eustacie clasped her hands ecstatically. "But yes, of course! An underground passage--" "With bats and dead men's bones," shuddered Miss Thane. French common sense asserted itself. Eustacie frowned. "Not bats, no. That is not reasonable. But certainly some bones, chained to the wall." "And damp--it must be damp!" "Not damp; cobwebs," put in Ludovic. "Huge ones, which cling to you like--" "Ghostly fingers!" supplied Miss Thane. "Oh, Ludovic, there is a passage?" breated Eustacie. He laughed, "Lord, no! It's just a priests' hole, that's all." "How wretched!" said Miss Thane, quite disgusted. "It makes me lose all heart."
Snarky humor and a self-assured heroine - yay! Skillful, playful use of Gothic tropes - yay! The ending -- I'm so glad I was warned/spoiled ahead of timSnarky humor and a self-assured heroine - yay! Skillful, playful use of Gothic tropes - yay! The ending -- I'm so glad I was warned/spoiled ahead of time. It makes perfect sense, and I can see what it is probably going to lead to, but I think it would be a pretty brutal endpoint without foreknowledge....more
4.5 stars. Rounded up to 5 after thinking about it for a while.
Started off with a bang, dragged a bit in the middle and had me in tears by the end. I4.5 stars. Rounded up to 5 after thinking about it for a while.
Started off with a bang, dragged a bit in the middle and had me in tears by the end. I can see why this seems to elicit such love it or hate it reactions. It's not a dungeon-crawl, shoot 'em up kind of zombie story. It's actually more about virus transmission, democracy and... I don't know. Fear? Journalism? Humanity? Whatever it is, it made me think. It also made me laugh.
That said, I wish more attention had been given to non-Anglo-American parts of the world. (Rich, industrialized parts of the world are still going, but what's going on in the already conflict-ridden oil and mineral producing parts of the world that provide the tech they/we rely on?) I also wish the tech/journalism parts didn't feel like they were written in 2007. Craigslist survived but twitter is gone like it never existed?
Those small complaints aside, I did enjoy reading it and am looking forward to the next in the series....more
When I read fiction, it's normally of the romance or sword & sorcery varieties, so when a friend recommended I try this, I was a bit dubious. A miWhen I read fiction, it's normally of the romance or sword & sorcery varieties, so when a friend recommended I try this, I was a bit dubious. A middle-aged coming-of-age story / fictional travelogue, really? But, I decided to trust her and - oh, I'm so glad I did! This is such a lovely book.
The descriptions of Grace's travels are beautifully, crisply done and the characters themselves are all quite charming. The perspective of the writer/narrator displays such grace, maturity, and unexpected humor that, as soon as I finished this book, I began to look for the next of hers to try....more
Edit: I just realized that Custine was the French aristocrat in the film Russian Ark.
This was almost like reading a great epic in some ways, with theEdit: I just realized that Custine was the French aristocrat in the film Russian Ark.
This was almost like reading a great epic in some ways, with the hero a man on a quest to find a beautiful truth. Instead, he finds himself traveling through a bleak, oppressive landscape where the truth he seeks is a miserable, twisted thing held captive by a ruthless villain.
After the opening section about the author's childhood experiences during the French Revolution, which was chilling, I was engrossed in his initial descriptions of Russia:
"I was entering the empire of Fear.... Thus, I was afraid and I was sad... out of politeness... to be like everybody else."
"This automaton population resembles one side of a chessboard, where a single individual causes the movements of all the pieces, but where the adversary is invisible."
Then, in the middle part, as Custine continued on his quest for the truth about Russia, the characters got much crankier and the pace slowed down a bit. (Which is also similar to many fantasy epics I've read, though a bit of editorial pruning would have been welcome, to be honest.)
Despite his occasional meandering asides, I adored Custine's insightful comments, his intelligence and civility. However, he definitely has his prejudices. (Nothing too surprising, and maybe less than one might expect from a 19th century French aristocrat.) I did find it somewhat amusing to read the author refer to the "natural slovenliness and inborn filthiness" and general barbarity of the Russians, given that I remember Castiglione making similar comments about the French a few centuries earlier.
But even with those chastisements, it was hard to tell who the real villain of the story was. Was it the indolent, generally uneducated, obsequiously polite slaves (i.e., everyone not the emperor) or was it their ruler, born into a position which allowed for two apparent options: rule with an iron fist or die at the fists of others? Custine was on a quest for truth, and the one group blocked his access to it on the orders of the other.
However, by the end the only consistent villain was the culture, the government, the system which defined everyone's roles. As Custine observed, self-preservation was gained through strict adherence to those roles and not just apathy, but deliberate ignorance and cynicism about the people who occupied them. The suit is more important than the man in it, and self-interest always wins over compassion. Even those who rebelled against the czar, the traitors and terrorists, demonstrated those same tyrannical characteristics.
Custine, who initially prided himself on his superiority, became aware of his own susceptibility to the attitudes he condemned:
"In France, where they respect life, even that of a brute creation, if my postilion had not thought of rescuing the colt, I should have obliged him to stop. I should myself have appealed to the peasants for aid, and should not have proceeded on my journey until I had seen the animal in safety. Here, I aided in destroying him by an unmerciful silence. Who would be proud of his virtues, when forced to acknowledge that they depend upon circumstances more than upon self?"
And how can such attitudes be changed? Custine didn't know, but he was afraid of what the future would bring. After accomplishing his quest to find the truth about Russia, he fled back to France to release it -- with the hope that Russia would not follow....more
I love this book so much that when I could no longer find it at a public library, I hunted it down on the used market. (That probably doesn't sound liI love this book so much that when I could no longer find it at a public library, I hunted it down on the used market. (That probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's been one of my public library repeat reads since I was a kid; it was like an every three years ritual for me.)
Do I still love this book now? Yes. It's scary, sensual (in a non-graphic way), smart, magical, empowering and in many other ways fabulous. Plus, it's set in New Zealand, which as a kid growing up in one of the landlocked parts of the US, that seemed kind of magical in and of itself. Anyway, I still vividly recall certain scenes, and the wonder of reading those scenes is still there for me as an adult.
Here's a quote from one of those scenes. I'm not sure if it's my favorite, but it's a good representation of the heroine, Laura Chant, and her ally, Sorry (Sorenson Carlisle) as she makes an object of power under the supervision of the witch Winter (Sorry's mother):
"Stamp, your name is to be Laura. I'm sharing my name with you. I'm putting my power into you and you must do my work. Don't listen to anyone but me." She thought for what seemed like a long time, though it was really only a single second, and in that time, oddly enough, the picture of the old, whistling kettle at home came into her mind. "You are to be my command laid on my enemy. You'll make a hole in him through which he'll drip away until he runs dry. As he drips out darkness, we'll smile together, me outside, you inside. We'll " (she found her voice rising higher and growing a little hysterical) " ... we'll crush him between our smiles." She looked up at the reflected witches and said nervously, "Is that enough?"
"Quite enough," Winter said, and behind the fine lace of her age, Laura saw a reflection of Sorry's wariness.
"Terrific!" exclaimed Sorry. "Chant, can I be on your side? I'd hate to be your enemy."...more
First, I would like to say, squee! Second, Thea Harrison is now on my auto-buy list.
In many ways, this is classic genre romance: Dragos is super-rich,First, I would like to say, squee! Second, Thea Harrison is now on my auto-buy list.
In many ways, this is classic genre romance: Dragos is super-rich, powerful, arrogant... and an immortal dragon shifter. Pia is a feisty, innocent mortal with untapped powers and a passel of evil on her tail that only Dragos can save her from. What made this so enjoyable was how Harrison took these classic romance archetypes and created a fresh, exciting world with them. She showed the world and its characters without miring the reader in info-dumpery; the nuance and maturity of the characters is demonstrated through real emotional reactions and adult conversations (there are some Carpathian-style rage scenes on Dragos's part, but the way they're presented shows how Pia and Dragos are able to talk with each other and learn from each other); and, in a nice change of pace from a lot of PNR/UF, while Pia has some kick-ass fighting abilities, she's very conscious of consequences -- she'll fight if she has to, but she's always looking for other ways of handling her problems. That, plus strong threads of sensuality and humor made this a thoroughly enjoyable read.
There's a ton of sequel bait secondary characters, so I'm pretty sure this series will go on for quite awhile, but based on how much I enjoyed this book, I'm totally ok with that. I can't wait for the next one!...more
So. Much. Fun. It's set in an alternate Japan in which government censorship forces go around banning and destroying books (and lives), stopped only bSo. Much. Fun. It's set in an alternate Japan in which government censorship forces go around banning and destroying books (and lives), stopped only by authorized librarians and the library defense force. The first volume included bookstore battles, a secret "prince", the Japanese decimal system and set up future romances and family drama. I've already picked up volume 2 and can't wait to read the rest!...more
From the opening daydream scene to the end, this is a loving send-up of old school romance and pulp fiction novels from the past, oh, 150 years maybe.From the opening daydream scene to the end, this is a loving send-up of old school romance and pulp fiction novels from the past, oh, 150 years maybe. If you're not familiar with or don't enjoy those older forms of the genre, I'm not sure how much you'd enjoy this book, but I thought it was hysterically funny. I actually laughed out loud at least once per chapter.
Cassandra meets her college friend Val for a vacation in San Diego, where they're joined by Val's favorite cousin, Rafael, and his business partner Connor. From his name to his body, Rafael fits all of Cassandra's daydream expectations about her romantic hero, which is what Val had hoped for, and which fits in with Rafael's plan to find an undemanding, biddable wife. (Seriously, every piece of this book references the genre.) Connor, on the other hand, shakes Cassandra out of her daydreams... initially, by completely infuriating with his jokes about her reading taste. However, unlike everyone else Cassandra interacts with, Connor also refers to her by her full name rather than the nickname Cassie, which she hates. So, while she is pursuing Rafael, the living embodiment of her romantic fantasies, she's feeling a strange, unwilling attraction to Connor, a man who truly sees who she is and, in turn, prompts her to remove the veil of her own illusions.
This is described on the ARe website as an erotic romance, which is probably not quite how I would describe it. There's a lot of steam, don't get me wrong, but most of the scenes are Cassandra's fantasies, which take old school love scenes and makes them a bit more graphic... and then she's interrupted. So, if you're looking for full-on erotica, this probably isn't it, but it does use very descriptive language and graphic details.
The ending could be considered HEA or HFN, depending on how you prefer to read it.
Bottom line: I never would have run across this book if ARe and the publisher hadn't done a promotion where it was given away for free, but I'm so glad they did! I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to finding more by this author....more
I'm not a sports person or big into exercise, but I want to get stronger, so I appreciate how this provides not just pictorial explanations of how toI'm not a sports person or big into exercise, but I want to get stronger, so I appreciate how this provides not just pictorial explanations of how to do strengthening exercises, but also explains how to modify your workouts to get the results you want (and avoid boredom) along with specific workouts for different fitness levels and interests, from sports training to quick 15-minute workouts to prenatal programs. There are certain things that I think I'd still want a real human to help me with before trying, but most of them seem like something I can do.
The nutrition and diet information contain pretty standard advice and reference which studies they pull their information from. Basically, it boils down to: get a good mix of protein, fat and vegetables; take it easy on the sugars, starches and dairy products; drink water.
I can't say I've been terribly diligent about my strength building attempts so far, but I feel more confident about my ability to do so and am able to do things I couldn't do a year ago....more
My favorite Amanda Quick novel and probably my favorite historical romance, I've continued to enjoy this book through nearly 20 years of multiple readMy favorite Amanda Quick novel and probably my favorite historical romance, I've continued to enjoy this book through nearly 20 years of multiple readings and various life changes.
I love how nerdy Harriet is. I love how charmed Gideon is by her nerdiness. I love how skeptical Harriet is of the rumors about Gideon, and how she bases her opinions of him on his actions rather than on gossip. I love watching their families, friends and even enemies get sucked into the vortex of quirky that surrounds Harriet. I also love how the story flirts with slapstick humor while remaining grounded and full of heart....more