**spoiler alert** This book was a sweet, sappy, cute Christmas read. It was pretty basic holiday fluff—meaning, the prose was certainly lacking for or**spoiler alert** This book was a sweet, sappy, cute Christmas read. It was pretty basic holiday fluff—meaning, the prose was certainly lacking for originality, variation in adjectives and turns of phrase. I have to blame the editor, who had to suggest (or insist) on using such repetitive adjectives such as "lovely" and "maudlin", as well as not knowing how to properly use a comma or how to proofread for typos or missed punctuation.
I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half, mainly because I didn't care for Zach's "schorphenic" commitment-phobic personality, as well as all his childish hangups with his parents, especially his mother, and his parents' several-years-ago divorce, which has apparently taught him that love doesn't last, so why try? I also didn't like that the last part of the book was spent on the fire at Zach's mother, stepfather and stepsisters' house, rather than on romantic goings-on with Zach and Merilee. I especially didn't care for the "in the very last seconds of the last chapter" Zach just showing up at Merilee's apartment and just starting to make-out with her and then offering her the lame excuse that "he's taking a chance on her". It's implied that they have sex, which kind of seems like a soap opera/TV movie cliche to me; they've barely had any "real" dates, since Zach pulled away every time Merilee made a good effort to show her interest in him.
The other thing that bothered me about this book—and I tried to not let it bother me and suspend my disbelief, but it was hard—was Zach himself. There seemed to be no escaping that Zach was a character created by a woman who thought she knew how a man would behave, what he would think and say. There was one point when Zach thinks (or says) the word "maudlin", a word to me always seems to a standard word in chick-lit or mass-marketed chick-lit masquerading as a mystery or a drama. I just can't imagine big, beefy fireman Zach uttering or thinking a word like "maudlin"–it just wouldn't be in his vocabulary.
To be completely honest, I only picked up this book because of the Christmas movie on Hallmark this past 2014 season (also called "The Nine Lives of Christmas", which I found to be cute and adorable and appropriately romantic without being too over-the-top sappy. (The movie's plot varies from the books; several very good changes, in my opinion, were made to give the plot and the movie itself a fresher, better updated and more romantic feel.) I enjoyed watching the movie more than reading the book, but still, the book was a pretty fun read. I did really like the sections that were from Ambrose's point of view, like the opening chapter, Ambrose's trip to Pet Palace to see the "Santa Monster", and the disaster scene following Ambrose's gift of bird feet to Zach. ...more
**spoiler alert** I stopped reading this at 100 pages and decided to skim the rest in case there was anything good to come. (There wasn't.) By page 10**spoiler alert** I stopped reading this at 100 pages and decided to skim the rest in case there was anything good to come. (There wasn't.) By page 100, I was sick of the bad characterization and the constant use of ellipses. (Where in the hell was this "author's" editor? Asleep at the printing press, or the computer screen, apparently.) At page 100, I realized that the "author" didn't know the characters at all. I guess, writing this "novelized fanfiction" stuff might be a "hard sell", especially when it comes to us loyal fans who have been getting to know the characters since day one, episode one. Loyal fans KNOW when a characters is acting out of character. (Sometimes, it's just better to go with actual fanfiction, if you can find any that's more attuned to the show's version of characters.)
As it was, I had a hard enough time focusing on the prologue, which is set in 18-something in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte and a German Grimm named Kessler (where Nick can apparently trace his line), but I kept with it, thinking that it was good to have some background (which we don't really get on the show except via the books kept by Nick's Grimm ancestors). It was okay, it introduced the use of the Coins and Kessler's apparently awful mercy of letting the son of Denswoz, a Wesen (can't recall what kind) live—because this son vowed revenge on all Grimms—after killing the father.
Cut to the present. Or rather, an alternate reality Portland, where Nick is some "super Grimm" who has "magical powers" that are never stated or explored on the show, where he can "sense" when an ordinary looking person is actually Wesen, and "goes red" with that "Grimm instinct" to kill all of any kind of Wesen. (These are quotes or paraphrased quotes from the book.) Not to mention, he's also some rabid borderline serial killer, inventing police related emergencies so he can explore underground tunnels and randomly kill Wesen who might happen to attack. This Nick also insists that Monroe, who might happen to be in the underground tunnel with him and Hank, "woge" and put himself in imminent danger and expose himself to a Wesen-only organized crime syndicate known as "The Icy Touch".... (the ellipses are basically ripped straight from the book, either for "dramatic pause" or just the author's lack of passion for the story-telling, I'm not exactly sure).
Then there's Hank, who, at one point, argues viciously and passionately with Renard about letting the FBI in on the secret world of Wesen, so that "they know what they are dealing with" (because "The Icy Touch" organization is all about Wesen-on-Wesen violence and murder, especially when it comes to those coerced Wesen unwilling to help out when asked so politely). The whole time I was reading this section, I noticed that Nick was eerily silent, except for brief protestations at the beginning of the argument that exposing the Wesen world is unwise.
(The plot is set sometime in Season 2/Season 3, pretty much glossing over the fact that Juliette was in a coma and that Hank got his hasty initiation into the world of Wesen. Juliette also apparently "knows" about Wesen, but she and Nick are not back to being a couple; it's implied they are still living apart and not connected MAINLY because of "Nick's lying to Juliette about his 'Grimm powers'" [again, paraphrasing from the ACTUAL PLOT]. Not even to mention that there's an awkward scene between Nick and Juliette at some cafe again glossing over their disconnection, yet mentioning a necklace that Juliette happens to be wearing, a CAT pendent that Nick apparently gave her because of her "SUCCESSFUL OPERATION OF SAVING A CAT". I'm sorry, but I'm absolutely NOT buying this. At the end of Season 1, Juliette is scratched by Adelind's cat and falls into a coma, where she loses all of her memories of Nick. THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL SHE WOULD HAVE A PENDENT OF A CAT, LET ALONE THAT NICK ACTUALLY GAVE IT TO HER.)
Anyway, back to the Hank-Renard argument. It was absolutely insane and way beyond anything that would ever come out of Hank's mouth regarding the Wesen world. Hank, even still in Season Three, defaults to Nick or even Renard when it comes to how to handle anything Wesen—anything he considers unknown. There's a point in the argument when Hank threatens to resign over Renard's decision to keep the FBI "in the dark" over the whole Wesen/woge thing. That would never happen, at least, not at a point when Hank has barely more than found out about the Wesen world. At that point, he's still pretty freaked out himself, and still thinking himself almost "crazy" for believing in it, so how could he do a complete 180 and try to convince others that it's "all real"? Not buying it.
The absolute last straw for me was the point when Monroe flips out over Rosalee's well-being after an offhand comment from Nick. Instead of calling Rosalee on, say, his cellphone, Monroe runs off dramatically and histrionically in his truck (which, in the show, he doesn't drive a truck, he drives a vintage yellow Beetle looking car) to the spice shop to make certain Rosalee hasn't been attacked by The Icy Touch....
After that, I skimmed the book. At some point, after some early cryptic chapter where Monroe is spying on some fatherless family, the teenage daughter of this family is kidnapped by The Icy Touch.... and then, much later on, Nick is suspended pending an IAB investigation for, likely, his underground tunnel killing spree, and ends up at some bar off the beaten path. He's attacked by Wesen from The Icy Touch... and kidnapped and imprisoned and intended to be killed by a direct descendant of Denswoz (the Wesen that Kessler let live all those many years ago) in some ritual.
Well, that doesn't happen. Nick escapes, Hank and Renard find him, and teenage girl and eventually Nick kills more Wesen. And somewhere after that Juliette starts to warm up to Nick for some reason.
Really, it's a god awful read. The writing itself isn't bad but the characterization is so off that it will make any loyal fan sick. Read at your own risk. ...more
**spoiler alert** I'm on page 62, but I am utterly bored by this novel and don't think I can stomach another page. I was trying to get it a good shot**spoiler alert** I'm on page 62, but I am utterly bored by this novel and don't think I can stomach another page. I was trying to get it a good shot because it was a Christmas gift—in hardcover, besides—but I just don't think I can manage. It's just drivel, a whining narrator who says the title of the book, "The Yonahlosse Riding Camp for Girls" just about a billion times per page, who wants to be popular yet also unnoticed at her new camp/school, who was sent away from her childhood home and family, including her twin brother Sam, due to a scandal. At this point, I'm not even sure I care what the scandal was. I can guess, from the vague hints the narrator gives, that the narrator probably slept with some boy and is pregnant or is viewed as "ruined" (1930s American South), and that her twin brother got into a fight with his sister's mysterious lover.
I really don't care to read anymore. I was wholly dismayed to realize this book was nearly 400 pages and at page 62, I have only a little idea of the narrator's–Thea—role in the whole scandal. I have not connected with Thea or any of the other characters. I think reading this book is a waste of my time. ...more
I was just reminded of the movie made from this story, "Homeward Bound" and that led me to recall I'd read this *quite* a while back. Probably aroundI was just reminded of the movie made from this story, "Homeward Bound" and that led me to recall I'd read this *quite* a while back. Probably around 1993 when the movie came out. XD
The only thing I recall not liking about the book was that the animals don't "talk" like they do in the movie—there are no human voices to carry them along, only the narrator. But I remember enjoying it. (I think I read it for a school book report.) ...more
**spoiler alert** I actually decided not to finish this and instead skimmed the last 80ish pages just because I felt I had come to a point when I had**spoiler alert** I actually decided not to finish this and instead skimmed the last 80ish pages just because I felt I had come to a point when I had no idea where the novel was going or how the author intended to wrap everything up (with closure or not) in these last 80 pages.
I also found myself turned off and annoyed and bored by Kiwi's life on the mainland with his new douchebag friends (and/or regular teenage assholes), as well as horrified and grossed out beyond belief that Ava's journey with "The Bird Man" into the "underworld" to find her missing sister Ossie seemed to culminate with Ava first discovering that The Bird Man was not some "mystic" and was actually a crazy old pedophile who basically kidnapped her and then raped her (in the chapter that I skimmed). Here she was, 13 years old, confused and lost and sad and way too trusting when The Bird Man showed up at Swamplandia! after her mother died, Kiwi and their father, Chief Bigtree, left for the mainland to try to make some money, and Ossie ran away to "elope" with her "ghost" fiance. In a way, it seemed Ava just wanted someone to love her, but I don't think she wanted romantic love, the kind of love 16 year old Ossie felt for her "ghost boyfriends"; also, Ava was too trusting of this stranger who claimed he could get her to the "underworld" so they could save Ossie—she didn't even question, until much, much later, the facts: The Bird Man stealing a ton of stuff from their house and their Swamplandia museum for the journey to the underworld, including food and her father's cigarettes and beer; that The Bird Man often seems dangerous to her, from the way he looks at her to a nasty tone of voice he might take with her; that he slaps her in the face after she makes too much noise when she sees a "humanoid shape" on later after they've crossed into the "underworld", etc. By the time Ava realizes she's trusted the wrong person, it's too late. He won't let her leave and then he rapes her. After that, she seems to wise up and does run away. That was the moment when I feel the book was ruined for me—or perhaps the moment that he slaps her in the face and keeps her from crying out; something was suddenly off and wrong about everything. And I couldn't believe this was happening so late in the book! If I had known that was coming, that entire Ava character and plot itself were going to be destroyed and ripped apart then there's no way in hell I would have read this book. (Maybe that's why the author "waited so long" to include that scene, as if she knew that no one would want to read on after that. Also, the rape scene opens a chapter. It's just so awful, it makes me sick to think about.)
Eventually, the entire family is reunited on the mainland. They lose Swamplandia! and end up getting an apartment on the mainland, but they are happy that they are all alive and together, and feel that the "spirit" of their mother, as well as that of their Seths, and Swamplandia! itself, is always with them, in their blood.
I hate to only give this three stars, because I really did enjoy it up to a point, and the prose is beautiful and so well written. The imagery is also stunning, and the author has this unique, refreshing way of describing things that gives the story an extra dose of magic. I understand what the story was about: family, specifically, the Bigtree family, who happened to own a popular Florida theme attraction called Swamplandia! that also happened to rapidly go under following the untimely death of the show's biggest star, Hilola Bigtree (Ava, Kiwi and Ossie's mother and Chief Bigtree's wife). The story is also about death, loss and grief, but also about survival, connection, reconnection and love. I think my rating is closer to 3.5 stars. I just have such mixed feelings about it; it was really good and fascinating until it was just sad and boring (but still good in its own way); when I first started reading, I was enthralled and envisioned myself buying the rest of Karen Russell's books because I couldn't get enough of the writing and the style of storytelling (in spite the enormous number of "twenty-five dollar words" on any given page), but now I'm not sure I want to read anything else by this author, but I might change my mind. ...more
LOVED. IT. Loved it. Was so delightful and wonderful and fantastic and perfect! Even better than the movie, which was the movie that got me hooked onLOVED. IT. Loved it. Was so delightful and wonderful and fantastic and perfect! Even better than the movie, which was the movie that got me hooked on reading the series. ...more
Okay, okay, I used to frown every time I saw this book (at least while in the Hamptons). But I just saw the movie and it was very enjoyable, so I wasOkay, okay, I used to frown every time I saw this book (at least while in the Hamptons). But I just saw the movie and it was very enjoyable, so I was thinking, maybe, just maybe, the book might be interesting too. ...more
This is a sweet story about a family dog who's white with black spots. I read this one a while ago. The only thing I really remember about it is thatThis is a sweet story about a family dog who's white with black spots. I read this one a while ago. The only thing I really remember about it is that when Harry goes to the beach with the family, he wanders away from the blanket. Then he can't find his family because it seems everyone on the beach has that yellow, white, and green stripped umbrella (the one on the cover). ...more