I'd been warned that this wasn't King's best. But they're all some degree of fascinating, and the interaction between Mary ahttp://tinyurl.com/lfof3ny
I'd been warned that this wasn't King's best. But they're all some degree of fascinating, and the interaction between Mary and Sherlock is always stellar, and I have to read them all, right? Right.
I think the reason this one is not as great as the rest is for two reasons. First, because she's rehashing the old Hound story. It's dangerous territory, since she's already rehashing Holmes to begin with.
But second, and chiefly, she's set this in a locale that sounds simply... boring. If Mary isn't cold or wet, she's exhausted or irritated. The love the inhabitants of the moor have for it does not shine through. And it should! It may be a dangerous place, filled with slippery bogs, but its windswept majesty and haunting beauty should be extolled by the author, not denigrated at every turn.
In the end, there's just too much tramping around and not enough real action....more
Well, that was disappointing. The thing I like the most about Laurie R. King is how she weaves her scholarly passion for faihttp://tinyurl.com/mxar6el
Well, that was disappointing. The thing I like the most about Laurie R. King is how she weaves her scholarly passion for faith and spirituality into all her books. She has made this an integral part of her novels but doesn't create situations where you feel left out or lacking. Except for this one.
Granted, putting your main character - a Jew - smack in the middle of Israel on her way to Jerusalem, creates for a certain kind of urgency on the part of the writer to explain everything about Judaism just so. But she describes every single part of Judaic tradition - no, strike that - every part of Judaic history in excruciating detail and without much explanation. Names and places fly past at the speed of your eye across the page, and by 2/3 of the way through I gave up squinting at them all and trying to understand how they fit in.
If you do that, it's not a bad story - Holmes and Russell dropped into a situation they are completely unprepared for with companions who despise them, off to save The Good British Commander and Liberator of Jerusalem. But even with that interesting thread, there is little Holmes-ish-ness and while Russell at least gets to chafe at the bonds that tie women down in the Middle East, it's not enough.
My guess is that King didn't know where to go next with her story, so plunked this down back in the storyline because it really was a one-off she didn't know how to do right....more
This is the only mystery series that I like reading out of order. And it actually does make a difference! In that, things hahttp://tinyurl.com/l57ohw8
This is the only mystery series that I like reading out of order. And it actually does make a difference! In that, things happen in previous novels I haven't read yet that pertain to the novel I'm currently reading. For some reason, this doesn't ever bother me. So, I've read books #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10. (Thankfully, I'm now only missing two in the middle there.)
I find King's pretense of Sherlock Holmes being real (the fiction of him being real, which is fun thing number one) and him being married (to a much younger woman, which is fun thing number two) completely engaging. In a lesser author's hands, this would be the mightiest failure. I can imagine her agent quailing at hearing about this new series - "wait, you have a successful series about a lesbian detective with a background in theology, and now you want to mess with one of the classics - are you nuts?!"
Well, read it to believe it. She pulls these stories out of what seems like thin air, all the while giving them a realistic enough turn to make the 1910s feel like you're reading about today. Except for the Victorian-style language (and the plot settings), this would be entirely true. This particular story is about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the ensuing fire and general mayhem. Plus it has a personal bent (ie, the mystery plot hinges on one of our main character's past), which makes us care more for the outcome.
Also, Sherlock and Mycroft like each other in this series. As opposed to what I consider the overwrought family dynamics of the British TV series....more
I've read four of the Kurt Wallander series at this point, watched all three seasons of the Kenneth Branagh series, and watchttp://tinyurl.com/kw7drps
I've read four of the Kurt Wallander series at this point, watched all three seasons of the Kenneth Branagh series, and watched season 2 of the Swedish series (why oh why can't we get season 1 in this country?). Fair to say that I'm rather steeped in the Swedish mystery culture. And that I know too much about Kurt Wallander. But each of these - the originals and the adaptations - show Wallander in a different light.
In the novels, Wallander is a far, far sadder character. His life is just down the tubes, man. You want to reach out and hug him, only you're afraid you'd get yelled at. After the last novel, he is truly struggling at being a police officer, but an important meeting gets him back at the station and working on a new case. He galumphs around the office each day, trying to remember his instincts.
It's really Mankell's observations of human character that make these mysteries so compelling. Because they do move rather slowly, as nothing gets done page after page - precisely the kind of mind-numbing detail that police work really is. But Mankell constantly gives us insights into the thoughts, interests, mannerisms, ideals of all the police officers at the station, as well as the witnesses and additional needed characters. As a result, when a scene with action occurs, it almost feels as if it doesn't fit inside the book and should be in a fantasy novel instead. ...more
This almost doesn't merit a review. I mean, it's a mystery series. They're all essentially the same, so you could just go rehttp://tinyurl.com/lg88ww3
This almost doesn't merit a review. I mean, it's a mystery series. They're all essentially the same, so you could just go read my review of the previous book instead. What keeps them fresh for me is the continuing desire to actually meet someone like Mma Ramotswe in real life. What would she sound like? What would her mannerisms be? In this volume, you learn that she has wide feet and a surprising difficulty facing up to a particular part of her past, but in all other aspects she remains the same. We are introduced to a couple new characters, but the environs also remain the same. I suppose the books are comfort 'food'. You can read them in bed or on the beach, and not worry about your mind drifting to other things because when it returns to the book it will be familiar and understandable and essentially the same as when you left it. ...more
I read this bassackwards. I read The God of the Hive ages ago, which is the sequel to this book, which ends on a cliff-hangehttp://tinyurl.com/q6obtw9
I read this bassackwards. I read The God of the Hive ages ago, which is the sequel to this book, which ends on a cliff-hanger. The worst part is I don't remember what happened at the end of The God of the Hive! Meaning, I just read a story for which I technically have no conclusion in my head.
Besides all that (guess I better go back and check out The God of the Hive...), I have ambivalent feelings about this book, The Language of Bees, because it has so little of Mary and Sherlock together. I've made that complaint about other volumes in this series before, but for some reason in this volume there's also a severe lack of affection between the two that depressed me. One of the best parts of this series is the incongruous love affair between a 20-something year old and a 60-something year old (and, of course, that it's Sherlock!). It's a clear assumption that this marriage is something very different for the 1920s, but it's also a clear assumption that it's not just a partnership - that's been made very clear over the series. So, show us the affection! In this volume, I don't think they touch each other once. That's just sad.
In terms of description in the story, my favorite part was absolutely the plane ride, but also the rendering of Mycroft's personal space which I don't think we've been privy to before....more
At first, I wasn't enamored with this novel because it seemed way too obvious who the real hero of the story was. Then I wasn't so sure. Then I was sure again, but it didn't matter because by that point I was far enough into the story to enjoy the character and story development.
Stead owes a great debt to Madeleine L'Engle, and I can see that she's wanted to write, in essence, a tribute to L'Engle since she could remember reading "A Wrinkle in Time" as a young girl. I want to think that this was the only YA or children's sci-fi novel of my generation's time, but that can't be right, right? There have to be others. The only other one I can think of is "The House With a Clock in its Walls," but that's not sci-fi, that's gothic horror aimed at kids (what? yea, but it's fabulous). I think of all the riches kids have today and I'm so jealous.
I digress a bit. I ended up liking this hugely because Stead wraps things up in a nice neat bow - absolutely essential for this kind of story - but leaves you wondering about one little thing. Until the last line....more
I am pleased I waited until the end of the trilogy to write this review. Because while the first book is really very good anhttp://tinyurl.com/7sfnf9h
I am pleased I waited until the end of the trilogy to write this review. Because while the first book is really very good and is one of the few pageturners I've ever read, and the second is good as well (if not as good as the first, but sophomore efforts are so difficult you can't blame her here), it's the third that will knock your socks off.
I'm not entirely sure how she did this. She took a pretty horrible tale to begin with-- a game where children are pitted against children until all lie dead except one victor-- and made it so horrific by the end that Katniss' nightmares became my own (literally!). I think it's safe to say that no one under the age of 15 (maybe a bit older?) should read this book. But everyone over that age should.
It isn't so much the gruesome quality of the killing, it's that the story is relentless and there is no happy ending. All the things you want to come true for our flawed heroine, well, they don't happen. I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that. Because I flew through these books (I read the last one in 24 HOURS) I am probably not the best choice to ask about the writing itself. It's certainly good enough to pull you along, although I'm going to bet that's because Collins' plotting is stellar.
If you read her acknowledgements at the end of the last book, you'll see why she wrote a book like this. And good for her, really, really, because it is worth the entire ride. It's just definitely a young adult book, not a teen or a children's book. ...more
The most fun of paying attention to a particular author is to see how her writing transforms over the years, from the first book onwards. It is beyond clear that Zielin's confidence in her writing has vastly improved since the beginning: I may have loved Donut Days but I really LOVED The Waiting Sky.
In part, this is because Zielin has adeptly tackled a very difficult subject: that of alcoholism and how it affects entire families. I learned a ton reading this book-- that interactions among family members are beyond complex when a disease of this type takes hold, that self-awareness of one's feelings on this subject are incredibly difficult to decipher, and that it takes one tough cookie to work out the solution to these problems. I'll admit I stayed up way, way too late to finish this novel one evening because the last 75 pages would not let me go. I had to know how our protagonist worked her way through everything being thrown at her.
Plus, it has tornadoes in it! I also learned a boatload about their destructive capabilities. And no, you will not catch me as a tornado tourist at any point in the future. Yipes.
With these double (or triple) whammies, there is no doubt in my mind that this novel will have a cult following when it comes out this summer. ...more
Compared to Berg's prior book that I just read, this one is about 1 million times better: more intriguing, better written, chttp://tinyurl.com/753yn3o
Compared to Berg's prior book that I just read, this one is about 1 million times better: more intriguing, better written, characters who matter, just everything works in this one. It makes me wonder about first novels sometimes. The author has so much more time to spend on a first novel than on any following ones-- does that often make a first novel more robust and fleshed out?
I adored this world. It's too bad I've been told that the next two in this series are really not as good as the first (yeah, well, see above paragraph). I can't decide whether I want to "ruin" the vision she gave me here. I think she's a fantastic writer, and I imagine that any misstep will already rise head over heels above the rest of the genre, but... I'll give it some time.
I'm pretty sure you'll fall in love with our two main characters: Aleksander and Seyonne. They are beautifully described, as flawed as any of Berg's characters, and they almost never do the right thing in their quest to save the worlds they love. Oh, and those worlds? So flawed.
Berg is also not perfect in her plotting. There were a few, relatively minor, plot constructions that almost shouted that they were put there for the purpose of making the story work towards its end. I forgive her. Clearly the moral of all her stories is: nobody's perfect. ...more
I felt nothing special about this book when I started it, and for about halfway through it. It seemed an intriguing tale abohttp://tinyurl.com/7ys4r2n
I felt nothing special about this book when I started it, and for about halfway through it. It seemed an intriguing tale about somebody with a completely unique "illness" that no one understood, and while I recognized that the surrounding passages were describing the impact of someone with a strange disease, and how this affects those around the person, I didn't see it as more than a tale of that. Until I hit about the 2/3 mark.
At this point, the book changes rather dramatically, and without giving anything away, it's safe to say here that its focus is completely altered. Instead of talking about how illness affects the body, Ferris starts talking about how illness affects the spirit. The unexplainable nature of this particular illness is not as important, then, as it was in the beginning of the tale.
This makes the last 1/3 of the book the strongest part of the story. To some degree, however, I feel that Ferris wasn't entirely sure how to handle this change, and the supporting characters around our main character lose clarity and seem to be around merely to guide the timeline. This is unfortunate; I think Ferris could have pulled off something truly spectacular if he'd had a better idea of what to do at this juncture.
Of course, this doesn't mean the book is not worth a read. I consider it one of the best books I've read in the past 6 months....more
It's not saying too little to review this extremely briefly. Because you end being fairly pissed off by the end of this bookhttp://tinyurl.com/7xc8m7z
It's not saying too little to review this extremely briefly. Because you end being fairly pissed off by the end of this book, which takes so damn long to get through, and then does next to nothing by the end. ALL because Martin couldn't contain himself and wrote a 1700-page book for his 4th in this series. Then just said "oops" and cut it into 2 parts: one containing all the characters we care extremely little about (except perhaps Sam and Brienne) which he proceeded to publish as Book 4, and the other part containing all the characters we really do care about (Tyrion! Daenerys!) which he published as Book 5. So, Book 4 is a frickin' slog. Some stuff happens, like enjoying the downfall of a certain queen, and watching the quite interesting turn of events for Arya. But we also get garbage like the unnamed chapters having to do with the seaweed princes and princesses (that's just what I call them). As if Martin couldn't remember their names! Ugh. On to the 5th, thank heavens, and good riddance....more
This is by far one of the best science-fiction stories I have ever read. In fact, if Scalzi does this well with novellas, alhttp://tinyurl.com/6qx9kx7
This is by far one of the best science-fiction stories I have ever read. In fact, if Scalzi does this well with novellas, all his books should be this length. At least all his books that have one very vital thing to say about our culture and our path forward.
I don't want to say much more about it. I fondly hope that those who are a) already sci-fi fans and b) haven't read it, will seek it out and devour it as I did. I will say three things, though. 1) it is not what it seems it will be 2) the subject matter takes a detour you are likely not to expect and 3) it is a thoughtful review of one of the deepest divides in our society and societies around the world....more
This is probably not a book you should read in many, many, itty, bitty sittings. In other words, don't make it a bedstand bohttp://tinyurl.com/7am9hro
This is probably not a book you should read in many, many, itty, bitty sittings. In other words, don't make it a bedstand book. It's short, and can be read in one afternoon without any trouble.
This being a classic, I'm wary of saying anything at all about it that hasn't been said a million times by everyone, especially by much smarter people than myself. So, maybe just some general feelings instead.
* The writing is gorgeous, especially his descriptions of places. I especially loved his description of the lawn outside Gatsby's house and how it creeped up to the house itself. What a bizarre and moving way to describe a lawn! * He is also a master of describing the elements of a scene in as few words as possible, while at the same time providing enough words to give you a completely full picture of that scene. Is there anyone else who has ever achieved that? * The story is really just a noir on the face of it. I know there's a ton of symbolism under that face, but I am usually pretty bad at recognizing these even when they're thrown in my face, so I won't pretend to tease that all out. * The last few pages felt to me like a clue to Fitzgerald's thoughts on American culture, and the divide between East and West, which harkened back to the rest of the book, but made you try to re-evaluate the entire book after you set it down. I have ambivalent feelings about that kind of novelistic approach. * If nothing else, the book really makes you hate rich people. Or at least, rich, amoral people....more
I was going to write that I couldn't be more conflicted about this book, but then I realized that I only had one positive thhttp://tinyurl.com/7k32wrt
I was going to write that I couldn't be more conflicted about this book, but then I realized that I only had one positive thing to say about it.
Negative #1: The writing. It should be obvious within a few pages that this is a poet writing a novel. The problem with a poet writing a novel is that these are two different art forms. I think it's likely extremely difficult to move from one art form to the other, and this book is evidence of that. The flowery descriptive language is beautiful in and of itself, and it does match the story as it evolves but...
Negative #2: ...the plot is ridiculous. Not the foster homes part; I am certain that is as awful in real life as it is here. But when your protagonist, at barely 14 years of age, becomes, without a word of warning, a sultry, confident seductress, all believability in the character flew out the window. Plus there's the dog attack scene. And the whore next door. I mean, really.
Positive #Only: However, her mother is gorgeously drawn. You admire her and hate her and wonder at her sanity and all these conflicting feelings can only come as written from a daughter's perspective. If you read interviews with Janet Fitch, she makes it obvious that this is the only thing she did not make up in this novel. No wonder it rings with truth....more
Yes, this is a bit ridiculous, posting this review but I'd like to say the following: having proofed all his prior self-publhttp://tinyurl.com/7cjzqcz
Yes, this is a bit ridiculous, posting this review but I'd like to say the following: having proofed all his prior self-published work (because where else do you get cheap labor than at home?), I can say this is far and away his best work. Because it had a professional editor (and proofer)? I will say no more. ...more
Definitely popcorn fare. But satisfying popcorn fare.
What I like the most about it is that Berg doesn't make it too fairy-tale. The dragons? They're angry, hateful, horrible beasts, caught in a web they haven't been able to escape from, but still not cuddly monsters by any stretch of the imagination. Her protagonists are extremely flawed people, and she changes up their allegiances, hopes and dreams at almost every step of the way. That's what keeps it interesting to read. She may not be the most skilled fantasy writer in the world, but she knew how to create this story and create it well. I enjoyed it for precisely what it was....more
It is true that I never read this classic in high school (I think we were the Jane Eyre class instead). I will never stop wohttp://tinyurl.com/7q25vys
It is true that I never read this classic in high school (I think we were the Jane Eyre class instead). I will never stop wondering how I would have felt about it if I had read it then as opposed to now.
(Note: I am not reading any commentary on the novel before writing this. On the other hand, that is something I will definitely do before book club.)
It is clearly a clever person's writing. Not even because of its structure, which is a story within a story (within a story, in parts). But for its time, and not forgetting that it was written more than 30 years after Pride and Prejudice, the writing style is exactly what I expected: verbose, formal, passionate. What it is that I was NOT expecting was the gothic horror play that pervades it.
Really. I knew nothing about this book, and had never watched any adaptation on film or TV. I thought it would be dreamy, that the characters would be unforgivable or misguided or awful to each other (but of course, oh so formally) and then everyone would be redeemed through a series of experiences and events that unfold as the story continues. Not even remotely the case here! I am more than eager to find out what history knows of Emily Brontë's life, because it must have been a desperately troubled, and perhaps abusive, one. How else would she be able to drag such hatred of humankind from her characters?
Yes, yes, there's a love story. But it is so deeply hidden for most of the book that it sank into the mire for me, and I forgot it. And ended up having to focus on horrible, nasty, no-good people. Blech. I appreciate the writing, but I am not enamored of the tale....more