This one was a lot more grueling than the previous installments in the trilogy. Lots of street combat, many die, "first-name-only" characters flit int...moreThis one was a lot more grueling than the previous installments in the trilogy. Lots of street combat, many die, "first-name-only" characters flit into the story and are killed shortly thereafter.
However, I found the ending terribly poignant and I actually cried. I've cried a few times when reading our books aloud, but it's still a rare occurrence. The mounting loss, Katniss' shared experience with Peeta, her growth through trial, and her maturation were the crux of the story.
Not the greatest writer, Collins, and the audio book reader did not thrill me. However, I will probably read the book at some point -- just have a much harder absorbing the story without seeing the words on the page in front of me. I'd call the story of this teen archer a minor classic, but not in the league of some of the greats. (less)
A wonderful book to read aloud. I will always associate this book with our long drive across the prairies to Santa Fe -- and how I felt about the chan...moreA wonderful book to read aloud. I will always associate this book with our long drive across the prairies to Santa Fe -- and how I felt about the changes in our country since the days of Franklin and Eleanor. I felt we were seeing the heartland and the people who came together to form the arsenal of democracy. Yet, at the same time, I felt that the concessions made then to big business have resulted in the virtual takeover of our government by corporations today. Learning all the underpinnings of how we got here has been illuminating.
Having read the entire trilogy (somewhat unwillingly), I now confess to feeling that this was a very good investment of time. I have such a strong pre...moreHaving read the entire trilogy (somewhat unwillingly), I now confess to feeling that this was a very good investment of time. I have such a strong prejudice in favor of Mists of Avalon and MZB's vision of the Lady of the Lake, Morgaine, etc., it was hard to read the story from Merlin's perspective and have the daughters of the Goddess get not a single mention until the third book. And then, short shrift indeed. However, ultimately, I loved Mary Stewart's perspective and choices, what she selected from the canon to focus upon, her wonderful portrait of Arthur, her treatment of many of the smaller characters (Ralf, Ulfin, Stillicho, Ninian, Casso, Beltaine and others), and especially her refusal to make Nimue a characature of a femme fatale. Also, I adored her Tolkien-like descriptive powers, especially as they related to the landscape of Britain. At points, I felt I could actually see the land unfold as we read her words aloud. Having begun and failed to finish the first book as a teen, I'm thrilled to finally have finished this trilogy! (less)
Better than The Crystal Cave. Detailed and interesting take on the Authurian legends thru Merlin's eyes. Let me say, I adore descriptive writing and s...moreBetter than The Crystal Cave. Detailed and interesting take on the Authurian legends thru Merlin's eyes. Let me say, I adore descriptive writing and setting the scene. However, MS really includes a lot of relentless and lengthy descriptions. Whenever she is describing any climactic moment (Arthur Sleeps With Morgause. Arthur Finds the Sword. Merlin is Attacked by Bandits.) suddenly the author bursts into a bout of describing the bird flitting on the nearby vine, the creaking of the nearby tree, the state of the sky or water. After awhile (reading it aloud), it started to become a predictable joke. Reading it silently, this feature probably won't jump out at you or disturb you, so I recommend THH. (less)
Well, two ghastly years of waiting was not in vain. I've had this one on hold at the library since the first hint of the title. When it finally arrive...moreWell, two ghastly years of waiting was not in vain. I've had this one on hold at the library since the first hint of the title. When it finally arrived, I literally whooped.
I love this series. I love the town of Millers Kill, which feels so familiar and real. It feels like my home, in Michigan. Just a tiny aside, when the downtown had been all dressed up for Halloween, Spencer-Fleming notes that you'd barely noticed that two stores had closed on that corner. Familiar. In our economy, small towns struggling for survival is an everyday fact of life -- one that she communicates subtly and well.
I love Russ & Clare. Their repartee is fantastic -- they are sexy, funny, adult, serious. I love how each of them has a set of values by which they live -- hers, religious; his, professional -- and how they show leadership to the others in their lives. This is some of what makes the books so engaging. This is the stuff of character development.
It's a pleasure to read Spencer-Fleming's books. She writes some very hot sex scenes and some excruciating sexual tension. In this novel, some of the sexual tension has been transferred from Russ & Clare to Hadley & Kevin -- glad Spencer-Fleming didn't just set aside her flair for it when Russ & Clare (finally finally finally) got together.
Ditto to all everyone said about the returning veterans' struggles -- well done. Fewer mentioned her treatment of the struggle of addiction. I can attest that Spencer-Fleming also scores big in her writing about that problem.
Minor quibbles: wish we knew more about why Hadley is so bitter. Can't believe she'd turning down Flynn after one of the best cmon lines I've ever read (you'll just have to read the book) -- he had me at "I want to take you & your kids skiing." Also, a bit too much foreshadowing of the "surprise" ending. Also, I found the Group Therapy + flashback + Therapy + flashback structure annoying, but I finally figured it out.
Overall -- A+ gem of a book. What an excellent series. I was surprised so MANY reviewers had only read One Was A Soldier. Wait'll you find out all you're missing having not read the whole series!!! Get busy!(less)
Beth says (on her first reading of the series and my second) -- Book moved along quickly & smoothly. The characters continued to develop. Beth lov...moreBeth says (on her first reading of the series and my second) -- Book moved along quickly & smoothly. The characters continued to develop. Beth loved that each of the protagonists helped and "saved" the other, so that there's no helpless female character lead. Good job of building the tension in the mystery.
About the gay-themed story line: the characters were well-written, typical, true-to-life. The gay organization, the Adirondack Pride Team, was sadly accurate although cast a little heavy-handedly.
Beth found the motive of the crime a little difficult to follow. (Little does she know, the BWI Adirondack Waters Spa and its developers continue to appear in successive novels.) She loved the introduction of Hugh Partager, who is much funnier read aloud.
We had fun reading aloud Clare's southern accent, Hugh's English accent, Russ' tough mountain-man voice. As always, although Miller's Kill is a town of only 8,000 (and my town is 22,000), I find the similarities of small town American life fun and engaging and also well-described.