I'm giving this one 4 stars instead of the usual 3 because it was my favorite Glory St. Clair book so far. I don't know what it was exactly, but I reaI'm giving this one 4 stars instead of the usual 3 because it was my favorite Glory St. Clair book so far. I don't know what it was exactly, but I really liked the change of scenery (from Austin to L.A.) and Glory's attempts to balance her fake engagement with her real relationship. Moving the setting helped open up the vampire world a lot too - it was good to see that there is paranormal activity outside of Austin. Another great change was how much more fun Valdez was in this book. Also, what overweight girl wouldn't like a plot that involves a gal who literally cannot lose weight finding a way to finally do so while oodles of hot men tell her she is sexy as she is? Exactly. And the ending left me greatly anticipating the next book instead of just mildly looking forward to it. So hooray for Glory....more
Impossible not to like a Tony Horwitz book, but this is definitely my least favorite of all of them. I was really excited he wrote this because I knowImpossible not to like a Tony Horwitz book, but this is definitely my least favorite of all of them. I was really excited he wrote this because I know so little about Harpers Ferry (in fact, I think that is true about a lot of people who just saw one or two sentences about it in a grade school textbook), and living 40 miles from Harpers Ferry makes it kind of a big deal around here.
So, it was an interesting subject. I learned a lot about John Brown and his raid. But. It just couldn't touch Horwitz's other works because it was straight history, rather than his usual history/travel style. I think we get a lot more from his research when he adds that modern-day contrast. (For example, Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before was fascinating because the reader could see the impact of Cook's "discoveries" of the Pacific islands even in the modern age.) Still, if he had included some interpretation at all (historical or modern), it would have been an improvement. This book felt like facts, facts, and more facts, but devoid of interpretation it really lacked the meaning it could have had.
Still, it was very well written, of course. And I would even go so far as to call it THE authoritative history of the Brown raid, since it relies so heavily on primary sources and leaves interpretation up to the reader. I really do recommend it for historical fact, just not for Horwitz fans looking for his unique spin....more
This book was excruciating to finish. I would have quit after about 50 pages (or maybe less), but all the good reviews from trade journals and YA-readThis book was excruciating to finish. I would have quit after about 50 pages (or maybe less), but all the good reviews from trade journals and YA-reading friends made me want to stick with it and see what all the fuss was about. Everyone raves about Mafi's beautiful writing, but to me it was too disjointed, too flowery, too forced, too much in general. I liked the idea of a stream-of-conscious journal, complete with our narrator striking through words and phrases she changed her mind about, but it quickly became tiresome. And the sentence fragments. Painful. Like this. I wanted to yell "Shut UP already!" at our rambling heroine. It wasn't just the inner thoughts that were annoying, either. A lot of the dialogue was surprisingly bad, especially between Adam/Kenji and Juliette/Warner.
If the writing style had been a world apart, I think this could have been a good book. The relationship between the leads could make sense. Juliette's "powers," while never explained, were unique. (Unfortunately, a lot of plot elements, including several surrounding her powers, are way too convenient.) The ending headed in a very interesting direction, which almost makes me want to read the next one to see where things go. Unfortunately, I just don't think I can stand any more of the writing for the sake of the story. Sad.
For a more descriptively mean review that says what I was thinking better than I can, try this:
So despite the fact that I have approximately 1,000,000 books to read, I decided to give Goodreads' new recommendation feature a try. I found this sugSo despite the fact that I have approximately 1,000,000 books to read, I decided to give Goodreads' new recommendation feature a try. I found this suggestion based on my "currently reading" shelf when I was reading (and loving) The Night Circus. Mostly I've been underwhelmed with the suggestions I've gotten, but this one seemed intriguing. And can I just say... WOW.
If the description on the cover had been a little more detailed, this is probably not the kind of book I would have picked up, but I'm so glad I did. The fantasy part is completely out of this world (literally), but Taylor does an excellent job working up to the big reveal. From the first page, her excellent writing just grabs you and doesn't let you go. I was so frustrated that I didn't have time to sit and read this straight through. The characters (particularly the human characters) are incredibly drawn. I just adored Karou. The descriptions of her character (witty, tough, artistic, fragile, blue haired, loyal), her life (flat, art classes, her charming ex), her city (streets of Prague, favorite restaurant hangout), her adopted family (which just cannot be described adequately) were all just beyond phenomenal. (To further illustrate, they hang out at this place called Poison Kitchen and eat goulash all the time. Taylor's descriptions were so awesome that when I found myself in a biergarten with friends the day after I finished this book, I was beyond thrilled when I saw goulash on the menu... I had developed a serious taste for it from reading.)
I don't want to give too much about the plot away because it is just so much fun to unfold. Although Karou has a foot in a supernatural (for lack of a better word) world, even she doesn't know the full extent of things. There are so many clues to unravel the mystery of Karou's life, and it's done in this teasingly slow and suspenseful way. Uncovering these secrets with Karou while she is also discovering herself makes for some incredibly compelling reading. And did I mention how strong the writing is?
I really, really can't do this book justice. It's surprising, compelling, entertaining, and downright addictive. I'm really excited for the next book... September seems so far away!...more
I was quite disappointed by this book. It's really not much of an autobiography at all. Instead, it is practically a point by point breakdown of the 2I was quite disappointed by this book. It's really not much of an autobiography at all. Instead, it is practically a point by point breakdown of the 2008 Wimbledon final and, to a lesser extent, the 2010 U.S. Open final. The reader learns very little of Nadal's life, and what tidbits can be found are repeated frequently. (There is a lot about the closeness of the Nadal family, for instance. A LOT.) I did enjoy learning the meaning of his last name (which is the same meaning as mine, in a different language!) and that he likes Nutella and olives, and the insight into his game and life philosophy was interesting too. However, if I was looking for such a book, I would have expected a subtitle more along the lines of "A Look into My Game."
Also, it was quite a sucker punch when he said that the sportsman he most respected was Tiger Woods BECAUSE OF HIS GOOD ATTITUDE. Woods has one of the worst attitudes of any sportsman I've seen, always blaming something else for his mistakes and getting in a mood whenever he loses. So that was shocking.
Anyway, this book was interesting and informative, just not what I was hoping for at all. Probably the whole thing could be condensed to 50 pages. Still, it's going to be a must-read for any Nadal (or tennis) fan....more
Sheesh. Talk about unexpected reactions! I tried, but I just really didn't like this book at all. The worst part is that the kernel of the story is reSheesh. Talk about unexpected reactions! I tried, but I just really didn't like this book at all. The worst part is that the kernel of the story is really good and it could be downright awesome, but the execution was a definite miss.
I think the biggest turn-off for me was the style. Descriptions are good, but they can only take you so far. There is such a thing as over-description. When you find your fifth rotting, dismembered corpse, a simple "...just like the last body, except for..." would suffice. I am not a weak-stomached person, but I'd really had enough of words/phrases like "putrid" and "maggots" and "smell of death" and "rotting." You get the picture. Multiple pages spent on descriptions of saw teeth was really pushing it too -- like I said, there's detail and then there's being excessive. She had a similar problem with location description. It could have been very cool, using the Quebec setting. Instead, she just name-dropped the same streets and neighborhoods ad nauseam, and I feel like I learned nothing of import about the city. Similarly, it was like she forced descriptions of Quebecois culture into the novel. While it may have been interesting, it really did feel exactly that -- forced. I can't think of a good way to explain the feel of this book. It made me feel off step, out of sync. Perhaps it was like a puzzle with all the pieces that were put together wrong, so it was a complete picture but still not quite right. That's just the best I can come up with. The worst part is that all the excessive description slowed down the pace a lot and hurt what could have otherwise been a very suspenseful mystery.
Of course, a lot of this could have been somewhat overlooked if I liked Temperance at all. However, she seemed stupid, selfish, and shallow. Stupid: the examples are endless, but let's start with going to search for a corpse by herself in the dark and the rain, on top of countless other things. Selfish: her friend Gabby is obviously in some sort of serious trouble, and all Tempe can do is yell at her for being a thoughtless inconvenience. What a friend! Shallow: I had a reason for thinking this, but now I forgot what it was. Sorry! On top of these stellar character traits, she also spends way too much time thinking about men's bodies. Between constant oogling of one detective's butt and another one's size (which reminds her of sexual fantasies she had of her ex-husband), I just wanted to smack her. It's one thing if it adds to the plot (and I guess perhaps it was supposed to emphasize her loneliness), but I just wanted to shout "Put your big girl panties on and go get laid!" (Hello, the one guy was definitely interested, so no excuse!) Then she's irritate with one detective who wants to file a complaint since she's butting into the investigation, and although he was really not the nicest man, I found myself on his side because he was RIGHT. Are you really telling me Quebecois law enforcement would let an anthropologist/bone specialist go off investigating a murder when they have perfectly good detectives? No. Stay in your lab, little girl!
Wow, writing this I realized I liked this even less than I thought. I almost wanted to push it up to a 2-star because some elements were good, but I don't think they pulled it up at all. I'm shocked and somewhat sorry, but I just didn't like it. Oh well....more
I thought this was an absolutely wonderful book. It is not the simple cozy that you would imagine from the cover and the blurb, which I liked. In factI thought this was an absolutely wonderful book. It is not the simple cozy that you would imagine from the cover and the blurb, which I liked. In fact, it seemed to take quite awhile (until a second murder, in fact) before any serious sleuthing happened. I was so impressed with the amount of character development, especially with Lucie. She was in a car accident that left her with a permanently disfigured leg, but she doesn't let it slow her down at all. In fact, her disability is only a disability because other people try to make it one. Consequently, her "can do" attitude is far more convincing and realistic. Truly a great character. Another great "character" was the Virginia countryside. Crosby obviously knows the area well. If I were still living out of state, this book would have made my heart leap with joy because the descriptions of the Blue Ridge, Route 50, and the like were so wonderful. (As it is I'm lucky enough to be living in sight of those things again, so it was more of a comfortable, peaceful feeling than a leaping heart.) I also learned so much about wine from reading this book, and it made me want to try reds again. (Historically, I've been strictly white and blush, fruity or sweet; I am a gal of infantile tastes, I guess!) The facts were fascinating and didn't slow the plot down at all, which can be a hazard with that sort of detail.
Of course, I think all that (characters, setting, detail) just comes down to great writing. I'm a fast reader (as you can tell by looking at my shelves) and I read big chunks at a time, but rarely do I read in one sitting. I read about 50 pages yesterday, but I sat down today and read the rest in one fell swoop. (Of course part of that is because I was trying to finish before Ellen Crosby came to our library tonight, but it wasn't a chore at all. In fact, I might have done the same thing anyway.) Really, I can't recommend this book enough. I'm looking forward to the next one.
*edit: So I met Ellen at the library tonight, and she is an absolutely charming, lovely woman with great stories to tell. I also had the pleasure of speaking to her son, who is a doll. I have an even greater appreciation for the details about winemaking and Lucie's character than I did when I first read it. (Oh, and I tasted several red wines and liked them ALL. The power of persuasion? Ha ha.) So I must further recommend this book and tell my librarian friends that if you have the opportunity to host Ellen, it is well worth it. She's a gem!*...more
What a magical book. I fell in love with Le Cirque des Rêves. The novel took me quite awhile to read because I've been so busy (4 whole days!), and IWhat a magical book. I fell in love with Le Cirque des Rêves. The novel took me quite awhile to read because I've been so busy (4 whole days!), and I really looked forward to the stolen moments when I could escape to the circus of black and white. The contents of every tent were meaningful and beautiful, not just entertaining. I could smell the caramel in the air. The bonfire and the clock of dreams were enchanting and fascinating. The characters were mysterious and compelling (though less engaged readers might be tempted to call them flat). Pacing is slow (but action is not the point of this tale), and the ending is unexpected, though it also felt almost anticlimactic. Not unfulfilling exactly, but it definitely left me in a contemplative mood. I found myself dissecting what Morgenstern was trying to say, with her black and white and grey circus (because the world is not so binary) with splashes of red. The competitors were forced to match innate ability against extensive training, one essentially holding the weight of the world inside her while the other had an external conduit. (Hard to explain, but a fascinating concept. Like I said, this book made me think... but not in a painful way.) It also illustrated many kinds of love and sacrifice and passion and destiny and choice and, above all, dreams.
By the last page, I too wanted to be a rêveur. I initially rated this 4 stars, just because I wanted so much more. More description, more story, more everything. I probably could have read 1000 pages of this tale. The more I thought of the book afterwards, however, I realized that it couldn't be any less than a 5 (even with my desire for more), and I believe it's even getting a coveted place on my "favorites" shelf. I'm really looking forward to future books by Morgenstern, if she always creates such magical yet realistic and alive worlds. Incredible....more
I love any book about Matilda, and this one was good but also frustrating. I liked the writing, I liked some of Matilda's inner monologues, and I likeI love any book about Matilda, and this one was good but also frustrating. I liked the writing, I liked some of Matilda's inner monologues, and I liked some of the descriptions and many of the secondary characters. However, it seemed like people and relationships were sometimes characterized well and sometimes badly. Sometimes it was a sliding scale. For example, Matilda and Geoffrey's relationship, arguably the most important of the book, is very well drawn in the early stages but hardly described at all in later stages. Stephen, the great adversary, merits some bare descriptions in the beginning before becoming almost a nonentity. The same is often true of events. Matilda's return from Germany to England at the onset is very well written, but her final disappointing retreat from England to France feels detached (when it should be very emotional). I really loved the incorporation of Adeliza's story, because I've never seen her mentioned in the fiction I've read about Matilda. (Again, on the other hand, she was not quite as prominent as the taglines and press would have you believe.)
I guess the overall verdict is that this is decent historical fiction, neither bad nor great, and it varies a lot between its covers....more
I'm just continually bummed by Linda Howard these days. In the past she's been so brilliant, but things are hit and miss these days (as I have said maI'm just continually bummed by Linda Howard these days. In the past she's been so brilliant, but things are hit and miss these days (as I have said many times recently). This book had a FABULOUS concept and the execution wasn't bad. She worked it out so that the scenario seemed plausible, and that was good. She also had characters that were just unique enough to make the story work. (Outdoorsy girl, abandoned by mother, raised by father, bad first wedding, not a quitter. Military man with shrapnel wound to throat and therefore hoarse voice, has a love of cussing, reads books, really grouchy but has a wry sense of humor and a bit of tenderness on the inside.) I liked them. I liked the concept. (Well, except poking around online makes it seem like black bears are the least likely to be maneaters, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief on that point.)
My biggest complaint was how unsuspenseful the whole thing was. I knew the rough plot from the inside cover, and that's about all that happened. There was no build up to the climactic showdown, no running for their lives, no terror. Just a couple of people holed up staying out of the rain, taking FOREVER to finally have sex. (Let's be honest here. In reality, the sex may or may not happen. In a Linda Howard novel, it should happen a lot sooner.) I guess it's good that the reader has something to wonder about, because it's easy to forget about both the maneating bear and the homicidal client for a majority of this very slow moving story. I almost hate to shelve this with suspense. I still love Linda Howard, I like her ideas and her characters and her writing, but the execution just seems to be lacking again....more
I love the Harry Hole series, but this book was waaaaaaaaay too gross for me. Objectively I can definitely see the skill required to write this plot wI love the Harry Hole series, but this book was waaaaaaaaay too gross for me. Objectively I can definitely see the skill required to write this plot with style, but subjectively... yuck. I think someone blurbed it saying it was a witty caper in the vein of Tarantino or the Coen brothers, and that is EXACTLY what it reminded me of. So if that's your sort of thing, you'll probably love it. Me, I'm sticking with Inspector Hole....more
I'm giving this the benefit of the doubt and going for 3 stars. I really liked the concept. It was definitely more of a plot-driven book than a characI'm giving this the benefit of the doubt and going for 3 stars. I really liked the concept. It was definitely more of a plot-driven book than a character-driven one. (In fact, if you stop to think about it, the characters are awfully flat.) Still, it's not really a hindrance because it's a plot and issues book rather than a people book. As I told Joan, "I'm just so happy to be in deep space again!" There's just something about all that emptiness out there that adds a greater element of suspense to the story. I don't want to give anything of the plot away, but I will say that I liked the (critical) look at religion and fertility (for lack of a better descriptor). What made me suddenly want to knock this good book down to a 2 was the unexpected character development in the last 10% that made for a seemingly pro-religious tone. I will say to each his own, but I don't want to read Christian fiction and I feel like I should be warned. (Incidentally, the three-way romance implied in the cover blurb hardly even seems to be a two-way romance, much less a love triangle.) Of course the story's not over yet, so perhaps I should wait and see where it goes in the next book. Hence my suspension of judgement....more