It's hard for me to critique this because I'm simply not a big fan of non-fiction. When I was explaining to my boyfriend why I didn't like it he kept...moreIt's hard for me to critique this because I'm simply not a big fan of non-fiction. When I was explaining to my boyfriend why I didn't like it he kept saying "but that's WHY I liked it, and it's because it's non-fiction." But I think I'm entitled to my opinion anyways so here goes:
Why I didn't like it is because the story to it wasn't apparent. It doesn't have to be fiction to have a good plot. I think the job of a non-fiction writer is to take all the information that they learn, and everything they uncover and select what goes into a story. That's not to say that their selections should be done based on a bias towards what they want to present, but rather it should be done based on relevance.
There were several lines in the book that caught me so off-guard it actually took me out of the story and placed me firmly back in my seat. Like there was one part where the story was chugging along on the architects and their plans and how summer was interfering. And then there was just a stat about how many people died that year of heat, disease or whatever. Did a character die? no. Did these deaths impact the architects? no. Was it necessary to provide context to the summer? no. especially since many of the deaths were from disease.
On the other hand, some information that seemed central to the story was left out or vaguely referenced and left hanging. I found myself googling my way through this book to add to my understanding. Names were used in such a way as to insinuate that I would know who they were. Nope. Google. References were made that sounded like famous events, but did I know them? Nope. Google. All of this was key plot info - why didn't it get included in the book when random almanac type facts did?
Overall I was disappointed. My boyfriend recommended it as a good intro to learning to love non-fiction and it really had the opposite effect. But I contend that it's not the genre but the writer that's to blame. A good job can be done telling a true story, but you have to approach the story and present the facts in such a way to make it interesting, it can't just be a chronological hodgepodge. (less)
This book was amazing. The writing was absolutely superb. Every sentence was a work of art. The plot unfurled like a b...moreBeautiful. Haunting. Horrifying.
This book was amazing. The writing was absolutely superb. Every sentence was a work of art. The plot unfurled like a ball of string, bouncing all over with unexpected twists and turns. And the story itself is one of those that will be with you for the rest of your life.
Don't want to say much more about it - just read it. now.(less)
This book had the potential to be great, but fell just slightly short. Here's a quick breakdown --
Things I loved: - The concept of Deliverance Dane and...moreThis book had the potential to be great, but fell just slightly short. Here's a quick breakdown --
Things I loved: - The concept of Deliverance Dane and the potential that one of the salem witches really was a "cunning" woman - The lineage and way that the lineage is revealed - The academic plot line and it's role in the discovery - The flashbacks, especially the dialogue - details and descriptions
Things I wasn't so sure about: - The, almost too hard to swallow, shift into pure fantasy in terms of magic. I think I would have liked it to be more *suggested* than actual. I love me a fantasy don't get me wrong, this just didn't come off as one for so long that it felt false when it happened. - The character of her advisor (Chittings or whatever his name was), he was believable...until the end. Then it was too hard to believe he was really that evil, he should have been toned down. I also didn't understand him as the cause of Sam's illness because all the women had their men harmed and killed...obviously Chittings hadn't been doing that across the centuries so it's not a satisfying explanation. - the too cheery wrap up in the epilogue. I would have loved the suggestion of her continued growth/struggle with this part of her life.
So I'm splitting the difference and calling it a three. Fun read, falling just short of being a great book.(less)
I really enjoyed this book - it's like Crash if you've ever seen that movie. It has multiple plot lines that swirl around and eventually latch onto ea...moreI really enjoyed this book - it's like Crash if you've ever seen that movie. It has multiple plot lines that swirl around and eventually latch onto each other. I think my only complaint is that it ended. I was still completely interested in the characters and what was happening to them. I think I just wanted more story. The jump between past and present seemed to leave a lot of interesting detail out in my mind but even after that I just wanted the present story to continue. Can't say it was earth shattering to me or something that I would return to as often as I might other books I've read this year but I definitely recommend it as a solid, engaging, story.(less)
Normally not a fan of non-fiction but this was an incredible story. Delicately told with great care and compassion towards the material. I loved it. A...moreNormally not a fan of non-fiction but this was an incredible story. Delicately told with great care and compassion towards the material. I loved it. And I learned a lot from it on the way. Would recommend it without reservation!(less)
Hate is a strong word, so I didn't hate this book. But I sure didn't like it. Thought about giving it 1 star but I figured I'd reserve that for books...moreHate is a strong word, so I didn't hate this book. But I sure didn't like it. Thought about giving it 1 star but I figured I'd reserve that for books that I don't even bother finishing, and while I was frequently put off, I did still care enough to finish so two stars it is.
When I started this book I had high hopes I would like it. I like books - a book about books - what could be better right? I was also visiting NY at the time and feeling a bit homesick so the San Francisco setting was appealing.
It's all downhill from there. I felt like the plot was so ridiculous as to actually be funny, it's not the first "secret society" book I've read, but it is the most unbelievable. Also, I'm a Google fan sure but this book was two steps away from outright worship. The writing was alternately too high brow (throwing in 10pt vocab words for no reason) and too juvenile, so it came out as trying too hard. And the tense change in the final chapter was just unnecessary. If you're going to add an epilogue just do it and tell us what happens.
I guess my main gripe is that I would be reading along, trying to get into it, and then all of a sudden I'd be back in my body critiquing the writing. I don't want to be critiquing the writing in real time, it ruins the fun. In hindsight, sure. But if it's so bad I can't ignore even when I'm trying, and the plot is so thin I actually laugh at parts...it's just too much.
So no, I didn't *hate* this book, but you'd be better served to pick up something else.(less)
I love love love Gillian Flynn. Her books are so deliciously dark. Like a Grimm fairy tale. Her prose is beautifully poetic even as she's exploring th...moreI love love love Gillian Flynn. Her books are so deliciously dark. Like a Grimm fairy tale. Her prose is beautifully poetic even as she's exploring the most twisted examples of human nature. Every book contains similar key ingredients 1) a murder mystery 2) a major twist 3) complex human relationships 4) messy endings mainly due to point #3 - but like a master chef she remixes those ingredients in ways that leave you wanting more, never bored. (less)
This book surprised me. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was. I really enjoyed all the information that she looked up and the honesty in whic...moreThis book surprised me. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was. I really enjoyed all the information that she looked up and the honesty in which she approached it. I actually found myself highlighting several passages...it's just such a universal topic with so many different views on it. Worth reading. (less)
I devoured this book like the delicious layer cake that it is. The plot is so delicate and so intricate, and the author weaves the tale so deftly that...moreI devoured this book like the delicious layer cake that it is. The plot is so delicate and so intricate, and the author weaves the tale so deftly that it's hard to put down. And even if you manage it, it's hard to put the story out of your mind while you go about your daily life. Just like the main character, you become obsessed with the Sisters Blythe and have to know what dark secrets they're hiding. It's part love story, part mystery, part family drama, part historical fiction, part literary fiction...but no part takes anything away from any other part. It's all perfectly balanced and paced.
And, maybe this is just because I read it all in the span of a couple days almost uninterrupted over my Christmas holiday, but I started to get a weird sense of being part of the story. I think it has a hall of mirrors effect because you're reading about a girl who's reading about a story and trying to unravel the mystery behind the literature...and I'm a girl reading about a story and trying to unravel (at least in my mind) the mystery behind the literature. I guess what I'm saying is that it's a story that sucks you in and makes you forget you're reading in the first place.
I don't normally "follow" authors, I read a good book and then tend to move on - I feel like there's too much out there to read to spend too much time with only one author. But Kate Morton may be the exception to that, I expect I'll be reading anything and everything else she's written.(less)
I feel like the narrative dragged a bit but there were some beautiful moments and poignant reflections. I almost felt like the ending in Cambodia was...moreI feel like the narrative dragged a bit but there were some beautiful moments and poignant reflections. I almost felt like the ending in Cambodia was too rushed - like it should have been a lead into a second book about that rather than hurriedly tied up for an ending. Overall I feel really neutral towards it, probably won't return to it but don't regret having read it. The definition of "middle of the road" for me. As for a recommendation, I liked When Heaven and Earth Changed Places better for this subject and would rather recommend that book than this one.(less)
I wanted to love this. Really wanted to. I love the blog and the guy and follow him everywhere - the shame was that there wasn't any new content in th...moreI wanted to love this. Really wanted to. I love the blog and the guy and follow him everywhere - the shame was that there wasn't any new content in the book. I kept reading and never came across a story I hadn't heard before. If you haven't followed him religiously, buy it. If you have, you don't need to but you might want to just to show support!(less)