I'm always thrilled to see a new Laurie R. King. Here are the reasons I was not all that excited this time around.
1) One of the joys of reading her books is her interest in theological concepts. Where else-- in the world-- are you going to get religious concepts mixed up with mystery? (And if you say Dan Brown, I'll smack you.) 2) I didn't read the previous book, and that is clearly an oversight. Not that you had to know what happened, she introduces that nicely, but it sorta feels like she left all her best ideas in the previous book. 3) She doesn't put Holmes and Russell together until 4/5 of the way into the book. One of the joys of these books is how these characters interact, each learning (albeit stubbornly) from the other. When they can't play off each other-- and since they rely on no one else, all you get is their thought processes-- it's a bit dull. 4) Furthermore, they act especially grumpy towards each other, with Mycroft getting in the mix there. In the end, it's hard to tell if they're all still pleased to be a family or not. I don't need my books to be wrapped in a bow, but this is fundamental to this series... ...more
After the joy of listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, I needed something new and asked the tweet-world what I should rehttp://tinyurl.com/ybmzzb6
After the joy of listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, I needed something new and asked the tweet-world what I should read next. This was the sole recommendation. (Really? Do you all just not listen to audiobooks or have you all been disappointed by everything you've listened to lately?)
This is odd. A more appropriate word doesn't exist. It's a fictionalized tale of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, replete with parachute jumping, speed-reading dentistry texts, the inner workings of a bike gang, and falcons. If you have a better word for this, let me know, I'd love to hear it.
It is often very funny, but in a sad, sorry sort of way. The humor is meant to describe and explain the most ridiculous facets of both British and American life, but American society gets the greater share. Fortunately, this is interspersed with gorgeous descriptive passages about our continent's natural beauty, to take the edge off.
I just couldn't figure out what to take away from it: societies can learn from each other? we're all teetering on the edge of rapid decline? we should pity royalty and assume they're all very smart? I could use some help here....more
For the first time, I'm not connecting Grafton's title with the subject of the mystery she's written. Yes, the title is explhttp://tinyurl.com/y8lt2gq
For the first time, I'm not connecting Grafton's title with the subject of the mystery she's written. Yes, the title is explained (and particularly, it's explained how this is not the correct word to use for a riptide effect), but even in a metaphorical sense it doesn't work. For me, I think that's the case because "undertow" could describe the characters in every single one of her mysteries. They are all sucked in and floundering and panicky.
I really do think Grafton is ramping things up for her last 8 or so novels (she has 6 to go), though. The writing is both taut and descriptive and entertaining, and she got to have a lot of fun this time describing how hippies can not be a barrel of laughs, plus how hard it is to be a writer. For the latter, she creates a character learning to write as a teenager and becoming a hugely successful mystery writer 25 years later. Cute, but the only problem with this is that this kid has a deep dark secret, which I can just imagine the press trying to get to the bottom of. "Ms. Grafton, does this mean YOU have a deep dark secret you'd like to share with us?"
There is one place the story falls down-- at the end, and this is where Grafton can sometimes fail us. She spends quite a bit of time with a hapless yet likeable young man, getting us to feel sorry for him, and then never revisits the ramifications of his life and his family at the end. I needed that, didn't you?...more
Somehow this one seemed shorter than the rest. Like, bigger print and smaller pages. Hopefully, I'm just imagining it and Ihttp://tinyurl.com/y3nk74l
Somehow this one seemed shorter than the rest. Like, bigger print and smaller pages. Hopefully, I'm just imagining it and I simply sucked it in all at once without noticing its length.
After all-Gen-all-the-time in the last 3 books, it was dispiriting to have him only for a short while in this one. Yes, he still gets all the good lines so he's worth it for however long Turner wants him there, but more Gen in the next one, darn it!
Did anyone else find it a little unrealistic that Sophos becomes kingly so quickly? Someone who hides and bemoans his fate for most of his life doesn't just magically become an excellent speaker, an efficient tactician and a skilled persuader. So that bolsters my argument that it WAS too short a book...
I think there are only 2 fables told, so at least she learned her lesson there. And, while I thought the final chapters were great fun, I also thought the plotting was rather obvious from the point at which the gift from Attolia/s is revealed through to the end....more
I believe Diana Gabaldon's Wikipedia entry says that her books are difficult to classify seeing as they include elements ofhttp://tinyurl.com/34n5drx
I believe Diana Gabaldon's Wikipedia entry says that her books are difficult to classify seeing as they include elements of romantic fiction, historical fiction and science fiction. Yup. I expected purely romantic fiction when I picked this up. Now before everyone jumps all over me for that, I chose this because it is popularly designated a primo example of good romantic fiction. I read my share of terrible romances as a teen and I wanted to see if the genre had anything better.
But, if this is the best that romance novelists have to offer, then I am still unclear whether there is any really good, purely romance fiction out there. Because the Wikipedia entry has it entirely right-- there is, in fact, so much history in this book (and very well researched history to boot) that I think its primary classification should be historical fiction. I have learned oodles about Scotland before England enveloped it, as well as aiding in dredging up memories from grade school when we learned a bit about living in the 1700s.
Don't let that stop you: it's vastly entertaining, not a history lesson. The first half, in fact, is somewhat devoid of history, being spent primarily on setting the stage. I was a little bored and not sure I wanted to continue through this 600-plus-pages novel. It most definitely gets more interesting in the last half. Really surprisingly interesting. However, if you are averse to time travel and its ramifications, avoid this. She spends few words on it but it is there, and since she ends Book #1 with so many unanswered questions, I expect it rears its ugly little head in force in Book #2....more
I'm pleased that this book seems to be telling it like it is, i.e., the gory details of wartime Shanghai as the Japanese arehttp://tinyurl.com/2covnx4
I'm pleased that this book seems to be telling it like it is, i.e., the gory details of wartime Shanghai as the Japanese are invading. Better than some other tales from that time (i.e., The Distant Land of My Father) that tend to gloss over the horror of war and the indescribable ambiance and character of 1930s Shanghai. So for that, I am grateful.
Still, in many ways this book felt like a list to me. Everything that could possibly happen to these sisters, and their entire family, did, down to the burning (twice) of L.A.'s original Chinatown. To me it seemed as if See was cataloging all the interviews she had conducted (and she talks about those in the author's note at the end), and stuffing them in sideways and sometimes backwards.
It's not that I didn't feel the girls' plight because See is not a bad writer, but I actually stopped halfway through to finish another book and felt not all that interested in returning to the story. It just wasn't compelling, or at least not to me.
The most fascinating aspect was the concept of the Chinese beautiful girl, and there I learned quite a bit. It's also clear that See expects to be writing a sequel that would have the potential to say more about this art form. You could find me signing up for more, if that happens....more
The New York Times reviewed this with the following phrase: "the kind of book that can be life changing." That got my danderhttp://tinyurl.com/yjwsamj
The New York Times reviewed this with the following phrase: "the kind of book that can be life changing." That got my dander up. Really? You're going to tell me up front that this book is so good I can't help but have it affect me? What if I don't like it as much as you? Am I then, somehow, defective? Thanks, NYT.
I was untrustworthy, I'll admit it. While I may not have found the book life changing, it may very well be that for teen readers. The book's magic is in how it slowly reveals aspects of German life across the board in the 1940s. We learn not only what it is like to have been a Jew during that time, but a communist, a child, a rich person, a poor person, a soldier, etc. I can't imagine a more gentle entrée into such a horrifying world.
My minor quibbles were two: At times I was irritated by the author's deliberate fore-shadowing. It *does* work, but instead of it easing you into knowledge that will be coming pages later, it arrives like a bolt out of the blue and causes a literal gasp to escape. I'm not convinced that this was his original or true reason for doing this. The other quibble is the last line, which I cannot reveal, but which, if you've seen all of Robert Redford's movies, will bother you as much as it did me....more
I found it fascinating to re-read this for book club, probably twenty years after I read it the first time.
I suggested the book because I find it appalling that more people-- and by people I mean women-- don't read good science fiction. Why is this genre ignored and other genres are not? Women devour mysteries and romance, and yet good science fiction has all the elements of fantasy that these others do. I would suspect that it is because of the hard sci-fi aspect of most examples of the genre: endless noodling about the Fardles' new gamma ray thruster and how it works, with no regard to how that fits into an actual story.
Le Guin is a rare example of all that works. First, she's a girl. Second, she can write. Third, she's smart as hell but doesn't noodle.
I had forgotten how erudite she actually is and she can sound far too academic for her fantasy audience. It's understandable-- the world of Gethen with its ambisexual/bi-sexual beings is so alien to us in terms of basic functioning, much less culture, that she needs to warm us up to the idea of it first. But by the time she has reunited her main characters-- Genly and Therem-- and even though her setting is a seemingly endless trek across a glacier, the pace feels far quicker.
The subtle discussions into feminism, sexual identity, communication and political science are left as an exercise for the reader....more