This is an incredible account of the men and women who helped preserve the culture of humanity during World War II. Admittedly, I picked up this book...moreThis is an incredible account of the men and women who helped preserve the culture of humanity during World War II. Admittedly, I picked up this book after having seen the trailer for what looks to be a truly entertaining film (The Monuments Men with George Clooney et al). And I'm so glad I decided to read the book. I hope the movie inspires many more people to read this book.
There is so much information available from the first person accounts of those who lived the task to protect the great artworks of not just the Allies but also of the Germans. While the book focuses on the story of the looted artwork and hidden repositories, you still feel the horrors of the war. While the Monuments Men were not directly fighting they were often in contact (some more directly than others) and witness the destruction and pain all across Europe. Reading this book brought home the importance of art and inspired me about our cultural institutions. It also made me want to read and learn so much more about the history of the war, the people involved, and mostly about the art.
I will admit, this book took me longer to read than I expected because I kept stopping to look up the actual art pieces (I got particularly distracted by Ghent Altarpiece and the Bayeux Tapestry which you can explore in great detail online).
I highly recommend The Monuments Men to art lovers, history buffs, and everyone else.(less)
It's not secret I'm a huge fan of Ann Aguirre's work (Razorland trilogy, Jax series, etc.) so I was very excited to pick up this book set in Sirantha...moreIt's not secret I'm a huge fan of Ann Aguirre's work (Razorland trilogy, Jax series, etc.) so I was very excited to pick up this book set in Sirantha Jax's universe. I don't think it has quite the same power and charm that the Jax series does which is not surprising since the book is set in a prison that is meant for all the worst offenders (think multi-hundred kill serial killers).
That said, I did really enjoy this book largely due to the strength of the 'princess in chains.' I can't tell you how often I started thinking about wanting to swing chains around (it'd be a great workout). Between Dred (said princess) and Jael (formerly found in the Jax series) the book moves quickly and violently. There is intrigue and violence but there are interesting shades of morality given to the prisoners. The consideration of a society and rules amongst killers is intriguing. Some of the battles did feel a bit repetitive and drawn out, but considering the setting and the weapons available that is not surprising.
I definitely look forward to the next outing the series to see more exploration of the prison ship, Perdition, and the aftermath of this book.
I must say though I did enjoy this book, at times I found myself wanting to go back and read the Jax series more than I wanted to continue reading Perdition. (less)
The Grendel Affair Review How I missed the quick wit and humor of Raine Benares. With Mac, Ian, and the SPI in The Grendel Affair, Lisa Shearin returns...moreThe Grendel Affair Review How I missed the quick wit and humor of Raine Benares. With Mac, Ian, and the SPI in The Grendel Affair, Lisa Shearin returns with humor and a quick pace.
Makenna Fraser, aka Mac, is a seer, which reminded me a lot of a Grimm (NBC show with….) and Ian is a special agent who my mind kept thinking of as Agent Ressler from The Blacklist (another NBC show, this one with James Spader. It’s great; go watch it after you finish reading this book). Ian and Mac work for what in essence is supernatural investigative police force in New York. One that is headed up by a literal dragon lady (the next book in this new series concerns a dragon conspiracy – looking forward to that). Almost halfway through the book we have a briefing about the events earlier in the book and the ultimate goal to prevent certain events occurring later in the book. It’s a natural moment that feels right and simultaneously provides background and summary information to allow the reader to catch the breath for the wild ride that follows until the conclusion of the story which comes all too quickly. This was a quick and entertaining read sprinkled with cultural references (both pop and classic). The main character is confident though not necessarily skilled and graceful and I look forward to seeing her develop her skills in the coming books.
Overall I found it to be another very strong entry in the series. It begins with a breakneck pace and doesn't let up, which definitely means you shoul...moreOverall I found it to be another very strong entry in the series. It begins with a breakneck pace and doesn't let up, which definitely means you should not read this if you haven't read prior entries in the series. I believe there is very little that would make sense if you picked up this book first unknowingly. In my opinion, there were only a couple stumbles along the way. One dealt with the demise of (view spoiler)[ Tybalt (hide spoiler)]. I felt like that kind of came out of nowhere and I'm not sure it was truly necessary. The other being the anger between (view spoiler)[Tybalt and Sylvester (hide spoiler)] while October was (view spoiler)[dealing with the initial effects of goblin fruit (hide spoiler)]. For me this seemed overblown. I've seen worse offenses offered in the series without this kind of response. I also could have used a little more closure for the events that occurred at the end of this book. It some ways this book sets up more questions than it answers. Though there is one big question that is answered - (view spoiler)[and that is who Quentin's parents actually are. (hide spoiler)]
But despite all that, I loved the continued development of the status of the world and the hints at big events to come.
That said, the additionally short story included is more of a giant tease than an actual short story. I think it provides more questions than it actually answers. But it is always good to see more of the sea witch.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I really liked this book. I found I it to be a totally immersive experience, made more so by the inclusion of the news articles, notes, forum postings...moreI really liked this book. I found I it to be a totally immersive experience, made more so by the inclusion of the news articles, notes, forum postings, etc. inserted throughout the book. The references to real films and actors and actual news outlets make the novel feel real (i.e. the reference to Marlowe Hughes role in Superman). These aspects are inserted so seamlessly, it makes you want to fact check and see if Marlowe really had a role before you recognize the distorted reality of this book….
While reading the book I did tend to feel like Cordova really is a master of fear and horror and that his films and experiences related would absolutely terrify me. But upon finishing the book, I realized nothing describes is really that terrifying, which is kind of a relief to someone who is not that fond of being scared. You get enough detail about the plot and story of Cordova’s films to really believe they exist, but there’s not enough to provide the heart-stopping terror which is purported to exist in viewers of Cordova films.
There are some interesting points about science versus magic in reality, especially when searching for answers that are not easy to come by. I would have liked to have seen some of that explored a little more fully. There are some plot issues. For one example, I’m not sure an investigative journalist would really forget about and/or let go of the fact that someone follows him. Certain threads seem to be abandoned for longer than they should be. Part of the ending was also telegraphed fairly early on (at least for me). (view spoiler)[The meta experience of being IN a Cordova film (hide spoiler)]
The book also uses italics liberally was does get to be a bit annoying, especially since the italics often serve to emphasize the wrong word in a particular statement (or at least the wrong word in my head).
Overall I really enjoyed the book. It is a huge book, but don’t let that scare you off. It reads like a book half its size (the frequent short 1 to 2 page chapters helps with that). The book is ripe for a movie adaptation, almost feels like it was written with that in mind at times ….
(view spoiler)[Considering the way Inez Gallo lied about Cordova in the resting home. Is it possible that Ashley is still alive? I only ask because of the references to South America and Hopper leaving for South America. Perhaps he found something indicating she was there and he was going to meet her. It was never really explained what he saw/found when he was in the house at The Peak. Also, I’d like to know if you think McGrath will ever go back to his ‘reality’ in NY after finding Cordova. (hide spoiler)]
Quotes from the book that resonated with me. Potential spoilers. (view spoiler)[ “To write about something so gutting is like staring at the sun, day after day. You can’t really make it out, no matter how hard you try. You’re sure to go blind.”
"The temperament of geniuses – they have hungers unknown to ordinary men. If you’re going to commit to such a person, you have to accept it or there’ll be no end to your suffering. TO survive such a person you must bend and twist all the time like a thin piece of wire, making allowances. It’s always changing, the shape you’re in. “
“But occasionally I slipper, unseen, outside the talk and stared in at it, wondering if I’d stumbled back to the wrong table, the wrong life."
“But when you flee someone, no matter how far you roam, that person will follow you as doggedly as the stars. In fact, their grip on you grows even stronger.”
“ ‘Time to let the vines take over,’ he was always fond of saying, which meant there was no use keeping parts of the house manicured and well lit, not when he had no intention of ever entering those rooms again. He lived his life like that….And what he left behind was always ruins. But he never turned around to see it. He never looked back.”
"It’s not fair. It’s not. But then, that’s the game. It makes life great. The fact that it ends when we don’t want it to. The ending gives it meaning."
"The dark side of life has a way of finding us all, anyway, so stop chasing it."
"Life was a freight train barreling toward just one stop, our loved ones streaking past our windows in blurs of color and light. There was no holding on to any of it, and no slowing it down." (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I love this book. It's silly in all the right ways. And so much better when you read it to a young person using multiple voices. Pirates and aliens an...moreI love this book. It's silly in all the right ways. And so much better when you read it to a young person using multiple voices. Pirates and aliens and dinosaurs and an adventurous dad, what's better than that?(less)
I enjoyed the Darwin Elevator. This is the first of a trilogy and as such there isn't a whole lot of revelation to be had, but the pace of the novel m...moreI enjoyed the Darwin Elevator. This is the first of a trilogy and as such there isn't a whole lot of revelation to be had, but the pace of the novel moves quickly and that almost makes up for the weak characters. Skyler, one of the few main protagonists and one of the third person POVs, is never quite believable as a strong captain. His constant doubts never seem to quite match with the character and leader that he is supposed to be. And the main villain of the piece, Russell Blackfield, is kind of a one-note man with ambitions of power. He's nasty and enjoys violence towards women but he seems to care about the men under him, if only to further his own goals.
But the world building is interesting but there are aspects that seem a little far-fetched and hard to believe. However, it wasn't enough to keep me from reading the book and it won't stop me from reading the next entry. I'm fascinated to see/know what happens next outside of Darwin.(less)
I loved Richelle Mead’s Succubus series (although it did kind of lose some of its charm towards the end) so I was excited to pick up an ARC copy of th...moreI loved Richelle Mead’s Succubus series (although it did kind of lose some of its charm towards the end) so I was excited to pick up an ARC copy of this book at Comic Con. And I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It reminds me of a much lighter take, and with a somewhat opposing premise, of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I will read the next one because I look forward to seeing how the gods re-insert themselves into this world.
Gameboard of the Gods is the tale of world that has suffered debilitating and devastating diseases blamed on religious fervor. In the world that survived the disease/curse, religion has been very dramatically regulated to reduce its fervor. There is also a somewhat murky relationship to varied genetic stock that is thrown in to the world as well making government regulations on the mixing of different cultures to produce a more varied population – as such creating a more mixed society of ‘plebians’ and a society of ‘patricians’ or ‘castals’ that cling to their undiluted race. The story pits a plebian government regulator with a member of the elite military branch, the Praetorians, who also happens to be a patrician. The government regulator has been exiled because he actually admitted to seeing/believing in supernatural elements. The story brings him back to his home country to resume his prior position in order to solve a series of violent, mysterious, cult-like murders.
(view spoiler)[ The main character, Justin March, has two ravens in his head talking to him. Their names are Horatio and Magnus. From the immediate reference of these two it was clear to me that the god seeking Justin March as a follower was Odin. And this is where one of my biggest critiques comes in – how on earth would a man whose job is to know various mythology about numerous gods not know that Odin was the one courting him? The ravens, Hugin and Munin or thought and memory, are one of the most common aspects related about him. But, for the sake of the story I went along with his ignorance. But I have to say it was rather frustrating. My other complaint is related to the entirely violent and unflattering portrayal of the Morrigan. Yes, she is a goddess of war and death. But she is so much more than that. I also find it strange that her followers shifted into a smoky form rather than one of her various well known forms. Essentially, much of the myth of characteristics of many of the gods mentioned an portrayed seemed overly superficial and not well researched.
“The truth is, when you banish gods from the world, they eventually want back –with a vengeance. Humans can’t say away from gods, and gods can’t stay away from humans. It’s the natural order of things. Our country’s treatment of the divine was too harsh after the Decline. Our people have pushed the gods away for too long, and now the divine is pushing back. That’s why these force are stirring around us. There’s a vacuum here, and entities we haven’t seen for a very long time are rushing in, seeking followers. Belief is what powers the gods, and they’re picking out their elect to conduct their earthly business.” (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I've read several of Carol Goodman's adult books previously and always enjoyed them so I was intrigued to read Blythewood – her foray into the young a...moreI've read several of Carol Goodman's adult books previously and always enjoyed them so I was intrigued to read Blythewood – her foray into the young adult paranormal realm.
The book opens quite bleakly, and without any paranormal shades which I found quite refreshing. The story is allowed to build slowly atop the back of its main character, a 16-year old girl who has lost her mother and working in a factory to avoid starvation. At this point I wasn’t quite clear on the setting and time of the story, but the details for both slowly build unobtrusively over the course of the story and a fairly well known historical event is used as a slightly gimmicky but also slightly brilliant vehicle for the story. Other less obvious events and historical figures are thrown in here and there as well proving that Goodman does know how to pepper a tale with details to enhance the overall feel.
From the factory setting we move to a boarding school, very familiar to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts in many details, including a great hall and flying birds. There is even a loner caretaker and ‘evil’ teacher. In fact, the similarities are so obvious that a certain plot twist was telegraphed long before it was revealed. There are also similarities to another young adult series, the House of Night by P.C. Cast. So much so, that by the end of the book I was convinced that a subsequent book to continue the story will probably have a certain teacher aligned more with the side opposing our young heroine. I might also add the main protagonist is also clearly a ’chosen one’ with powerful and rare abilities.
All that said, in spite of the aforementioned tropes and similarities, I enjoyed the book. There are fantastic creatures, messages of tolerance, and wonderfully creative objects in this world (i.e. the candelabellum). I think the series has a lot of potential if it can veer away from what’s been done before and focus on the original concepts. I’d be willing to read the next in the series just to see where else the girls of Blythewood go next.
I received an ARC of this book at Comic Con 2013. (less)
I thought it was a rather slow start and it took me a little while to get into the book. But about 30 pages in or so, I really started to become more...moreI thought it was a rather slow start and it took me a little while to get into the book. But about 30 pages in or so, I really started to become more interested in the story and the characters. I think Cassandra is more likeable than Dominic initally, for obvious story reasons. So, perhaps if the book had started with Cassandra's viewpoint chapters I would have been interested more quickly. That said, I did love the story and the reveal about Dominic's true character. I wanted much more from/about the dragon though.
I agree that the ending was slightly off in tone with the rest of the book, but it does set the author up for additional books and I know I would like to explore some of the other elven lord's territories - especially the flirty female elven lord.(less)
Once again another stellar book by Sarah Maclean. This one has all the charm and perhaps even more humor than the tales of Cross and Bourne. Just imag...moreOnce again another stellar book by Sarah Maclean. This one has all the charm and perhaps even more humor than the tales of Cross and Bourne. Just imagine Temple, a great ox of a man, holding young boys up in each hand and a small piglet running around at the same time. I love the strength that Maclean gives to her woman characters. In regency romance novels, it is rare to find powerful strong woman unwilling to cow to men or society. And yet her characters do. And it feels natural. While the overall tale is clearly predictable, the journey to get there isn't and I loved exploring it.(less)