I enjoyed this, but I'm not sure I'd ever give it a re-read.
I really really dislike the trope of courtesan in a period novel who actually never has seI enjoyed this, but I'm not sure I'd ever give it a re-read.
I really really dislike the trope of courtesan in a period novel who actually never has sex with anyone. The hero did a lot of slut shaming (the author never portrays it as a good thing, and at the end he makes it clear that he loves her and would marry her no matter how many partners she had, but still) and to have the answer be that she actually only ever had sex with her ex-husband is frustrating. I get that a lot of readers don't particularly want a heroine who is a sex worker, but I think I'd have been happier with her courtesan 'cover' providing her with the luxury to be very picky about her protectors and maybe she's been with two or three people she actually liked....more
A fast read, very engaging, very sweet. I'm honestly surprised that this is marketed as fiction rather than women's lit or even romance, but I'm pleasA fast read, very engaging, very sweet. I'm honestly surprised that this is marketed as fiction rather than women's lit or even romance, but I'm pleased about it. You know how dudes are about genre.
I really liked all the characters, which can be unusual with family stories. Jess and Ed are both likeable and open, not looking for a romance but not being silly or stubborn about it. I loved that (view spoiler)[ when Jess first comes on to Ed, and he says something along the lines of "what do you want from me", she doesn't take it personally. She reacts sensibly and understandably, oh he's out of two bad relationships with similar themes oh poor guy. (hide spoiler)] I usually have a difficult time with children in fic (and especially romance) because it's so rarely realistic and I have no interest in cloying precocious brats, but Tanzie was quite nice, and used just the right amount. We get little of her point of view, relying more on Nicky for that.
I would have liked a little more of Ed and Jess together at the end before the epilogue, but that's a usual complaint of mine. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I greatly enjoyed this book, easy and fun to read while dense with information. There are a few British-isms linking some of the categories that didn'I greatly enjoyed this book, easy and fun to read while dense with information. There are a few British-isms linking some of the categories that didn't make a lot of sense to me, but it's easily ignored.
I was enjoying it so much, in fact, that I felt really unhappy when I read some stuff I knew to be inaccurate (or at least not explained properly, such as the discussion of the name Wendy. It existed before Peter Pan, but it was popularized by it, and the writing seemed as though he was promoting that old urban legend). So now I have a book I really enjoyed and have been spouting off facts from, and I have no idea if they are all true.
It's not that the book isn't fact checked properly, it's that the dense and quickly glossing over style lends itself to being misread and also to it not being checked deeply enough....more
More of an 'atmosphere' than a 'plot' book, which is just as well, because I was much more interested in the first half than the second. I like slice-More of an 'atmosphere' than a 'plot' book, which is just as well, because I was much more interested in the first half than the second. I like slice-of-life behind-the-scenes servant stories, and I greatly enjoy descriptions of how they clean things or how food is prepared. Daily life. The drama and character study and longing for more could very well be someone's favorite part of the book, just not mine.
The last third of the book or so felt very Jane Eyre-esque to me, quite a lot of Sarah musing about what her place is in the world, and is it wrong to think above her place, is it wrong to look for what happiness one can find. When I say I wasn't very fond of the ending, I'm not saying it is poorly written or that I dislike any events of what happened, I more or less am not sure what I would have wanted, as this isn't a book where what happens is the point. The daily drone of life going on is very suited to this, and it's a book that I think was strong enough to handle a non-ending.
A very good read, and one I would recommend....more
The poor-woman-still-in-society conceit is why I was interested in this book, so I was really sad to see that the story begins (like, page 1) after alThe poor-woman-still-in-society conceit is why I was interested in this book, so I was really sad to see that the story begins (like, page 1) after all that. We begin with Astrid setting off on her journey. What follows is pretty good, even though there's that thing I hate where the heroine is in over her head and the hero is trying to help but she's too stubborn to accept it and in fact sabotages it all. The hero is 'claiming' you to keep you from being gang raped, lady, he's practically winking at you to go along with it. Just wait until you're private to yell at him, please.
Still, I'm disappointed that the story is not what's on the back cover. I love the tropes that I was expecting, and picked it up because I wanted that, not a Scottish highland romp with an aborted murder mystery....more
I don't know how to rate this book. I probably won't reread this ever, but it's worth a read (it being so short is a plus, the pages fly by).
I was verI don't know how to rate this book. I probably won't reread this ever, but it's worth a read (it being so short is a plus, the pages fly by).
I was very intrigued by the concept and I wonder what a modern writer would do with it. There were points where I wished it had just been a short story, with more of a sense of impending doom and (view spoiler)[ the realization that he's trapped at the end. Instead, he realizes it pretty quickly and the book moves on to themes of inevitability and getting used to stuff and losing one's individuality and individual desires. (hide spoiler)]
I read an old edition, with an old translation, I wonder if the word "rape" would be chosen to be used so liberally, in places where it doesn't really fit. I didn't quite understand the discussion of 'spiritual rape' although the larger metaphors worked.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This story (the trilogy) should have been one book. Maybe two. The trilogy is interesting, but when the last page was done, it was done. There wasn'tThis story (the trilogy) should have been one book. Maybe two. The trilogy is interesting, but when the last page was done, it was done. There wasn't any lasting sense of enchantment, no interesting world I want to immerse myself in via fanfiction. It was just done.
The end felt rushed and slapped on. In a way, I was fine with it, this is a story where the journey is important, not the end, but even that journey should have been cut down. The second book is largely unnecessary, if you really want to read this series, just read a summary of the second and go right on to this one. Even that doesn't seem worth it. If we aren't going to get much of a look at Rowan, which I fully expected to be the focus of Sever, then the trilogy should have been carefully edited to one book. I could do without pages of meaningless nonsense at Madame's carnival and had it all whittled down to increase the urgency. Rhine (and all women) expects to die at age 20. That should have been a ticking time bomb in the back of her (and the reader's) mind at every moment. Instead, she wanders, back and forth, from one protector to another.
So, the good things from this series: -An interesting concept -No actual good or bad people, all shades of grey -Even though there's a 'romance' and it could be set up for a love triangle, it doesn't go that way. Rhine really just wants to be able to chose a partner herself, not be sold into a marriage. Gabriel was completely forgettable so I'm glad it wasn't more about him. -Cecily and Jenna. They're the breakout characters and Cecily in general was wonderfully flawed with real reasons for her actions. I grew much more fond of her than our bland protagonist....more
I was expecting this to be similar to Island of the Blue Dolphins, but it turned out to be closer to Room. Sky has always lived on Island with River,I was expecting this to be similar to Island of the Blue Dolphins, but it turned out to be closer to Room. Sky has always lived on Island with River, and she's good at providing for herself, at surviving. To be taken from that place and put somewhere she doesn't understand anything is really difficult for her, especially as she can't make anyone understand.
The book becomes an exploration of shades of grey, that no one is black or white. Helmut could still do the things he did and actually be a very good father figure, Alice could be trying to protect and help but still do bad things. The "truth" unfurls slowly and never really fully, showing that is not the actual point.
I liked that Sky's relationships with the young men in her life weren't really romantic. River is her everything, and it very likely would have turned romantic if they had stayed on the island. Ben is just a friend, a friend who touches her and holds her hand and at one point they lay on a bed together, but it has nothing to do with romance or sex. He's more representative of the good things about California.
A good read, and a quick one, Sky's voice catches you quickly and the amount of confusion she had for our world was very interesting to read. I imagine it was difficult to write, figuring out what she would understand and what she wouldn't even realize she didn't understand....more
I'm rating this a 'personal' three stars, but more of a four for other people. I'm not entirely sure why it didn't fully absorb me, but there's so mucI'm rating this a 'personal' three stars, but more of a four for other people. I'm not entirely sure why it didn't fully absorb me, but there's so much good stuff here.
Do you know how refreshing it is to have a book like this as a stand alone? There's lots of world building and some very complicated ideas. There's plenty there that would fill companion books. And yet the author and editors kept this specific story tight and controlled and managed so that it is contained in one book. I appreciate that so much.
I liked Nolan more than Amara or anyone in Amara's world, which I think was done on purpose, the formatting of the book, allowing the reader to see Nolan's world, Amara's world, Nolan in Amara's world, and Amara's awareness of Nolan in Amara's world, all could have gotten confusing and didn't, something extremely impressive from an editing standpoint.
I read an interview with the author recently about "issue" books and how this is not one, even though there are no white males in the story (possibly Maart? The appearance of the races in Amara's world don't seem to be analog to our own). I agree. Nolan's 'seizures' are important as the plot device of the whole story, but there is sex (non-explicit for the reader), extreme injury, one main character missing a foot, another missing her tongue, communicating in sign language, a family speaking many languages, heterosexual romance, homosexual romance, and none of it is really treated as a thing. It's not a big deal. (view spoiler)[ Amara is attracted to both Maart and Cilla at various times. No big deal. We don't learn much about sexual mores in Amara's world because they're a little busy not dying, but Amara herself doesn't go into any deep introspection about bisexuality or self identity. That was just really really nice, and representative of my own sexuality, and I don't get that much with fiction. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked this so much more than the Pride and Prejudice themed Epic Fail. This retelling of Persuasion works so much better, perhaps because the originI liked this so much more than the Pride and Prejudice themed Epic Fail. This retelling of Persuasion works so much better, perhaps because the original novel's themes of angst and wanting and feeling overlooked translate very easily to high school life.
There are mentions of drugs, drinking, and sexuality (although no sex is had on or off page). That might be enough to keep it out of a school library, but if any parent had reservations with their own teen, I would just recommend reading it first. It's handled really well, with focus on safety and yet being pretty accurate about the way a well off but not famous teen living in LA would act. I really enjoyed that the "good girl" protagonist was willing to drink wine at a friend's house but not chug beers at a party, take one hit from a trusted source but not take anything from some randoms.
Sometimes literary retellings suffer because the author is forcing the themes and characters into 1:1 'this character is x, this one is y' boxes, and this thankfully avoided that by maintaining its own story throughout, one less angsty (Anna is never as alone or unloved as Anne is, and her family is clueless but not careless) and more age appropriate (Anne's ten year development was never going to be able to be represented in Anna's three years of high school without Finn, so instead we have a focus on her art etc)
A worthwhile read for wherever you are on the Venn diagram of liking YA and/or Austen retellings....more
This is a hard book to rate because nothing much happens and it's still pretty engaging. I can definitely understand why so many people have labeled iThis is a hard book to rate because nothing much happens and it's still pretty engaging. I can definitely understand why so many people have labeled it "disappointing". I haven't read Tiger Lily yet, so I had lower expectations going in.
It's not bad, not at all. But it's slow and atmospheric and I'm not sure many people have (or should have, given limited leisure reading time) the time and patience for something like that with very little payoff. I wouldn't say it's beautiful enough to warrant existing for its own sake without a payoff.
Maggie is an interesting character, smart and obedient, a good daughter, without being annoying or frustrating to read. I was very angry on her behalf for a lot of things, and frustrated with her calmness, that she never expressed those feelings.
Part of the frustration about nothing happening in this book is because there's a lot actually going on, just not in the pages of the book. There is a serial killer on the loose, there's pages between chapters from the probable point of view of a ghost, there's even just the fact that Maggie is home schooled and helping her parents redo their house, which could be really interesting. Instead, we read about minutia of Maggie's day and museum trips that never amount to anything, walks nowhere, waking up and doing such and such, lists of boring stuff that don't mean anything. That was frustrating.
(view spoiler)[ So. The ending. Very haunting and sad, and the short chapter of Pauline waking up on the ice was beautiful. I loved the last line 'Not with those eyes'. But the entire ghost subplot felt unnecessary, I can see a point was being made about letting go and moving on, but it wasn't satisfying for a reader. Nor was the visit home for Maggie to see her friend and decide she liked Door County better and she should be a better friend to Pauline. It just didn't work for me. The killer being someone she never knew, just a stranger, is another thing that makes sense in real life (and probably the point, 'wow life is senseless and random') but it didn't quite work for me. I would have much rather had either NO ghost subplot, or had the ghost be the killer's daughter who died before her time and that's why he is unhinged, that's why he kills, anything that tied it together. (hide spoiler)]
Liam was an interesting character, Pauline was 'eh'. The move and Maggie's homeschooling give a good excuse for keeping the cast of characters small, and adds to the slightly claustrophobic feel of small town life, but I still doubt my parents would let me stay at home alone or go out into the woods with my friends if there was a killer on the loose. (view spoiler)[ I was excited by the thought that Pauline might be asexual, there were a lot of hints that way, it would explain her wanting to be possessive of Liam and yet not have sexual desire for him. I was very enthused that she acted ace even if it was never outright said. Then, of course, she flat out changes her mind and MAN I was frustrated by that. More ace and aro characters in YA, please.
So my bottom line is that this book got me more interested in the author, but I would not recommend it to anyone with anything less than unlimited reading time. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more