An urban fantasy trilogy is a rare thing. Most are series, continuing until the author calls it quits or the publisher stops publishing. Although I'mAn urban fantasy trilogy is a rare thing. Most are series, continuing until the author calls it quits or the publisher stops publishing. Although I'm sad there won't be any more Daisy adventures, it is definitely nice to have a story that comes to a complete conclusion--and what a great conclusion it was! ...more
This series just keeps getting better! While the first book was pretty tame, romance-wise, the second really amps up the romantic tension and throws iThis series just keeps getting better! While the first book was pretty tame, romance-wise, the second really amps up the romantic tension and throws in a little sex, to boot. Again, this is a far cry from the Kushiel books: nothing graphic, just enough to get your imagination going. Plot and characters stay strong, and if the mystery aspect is solved with a big deus ex machina reveal, well... Carey pulls it off pretty well.
I think my favorite thing about these books is how believable Daisy is. As a narrator, she is always perfectly honest, especially about those small details that really make a character. When I read them, I can imagine myself curled up on a couch with Daisy at 2am, both of us in our PJs, sharing a pint of ice cream while we indulge in a little girl talk....more
First of all, I'm writing this review after re-reading Murder with Peacocks, and re-reading a mystery is almost never as good as reading it for the fiFirst of all, I'm writing this review after re-reading Murder with Peacocks, and re-reading a mystery is almost never as good as reading it for the first time. The first time through, you don't know whodunit, and you can enjoy the mystery. The second time through, you already know all the twists and can focus more on the character interactions.
In Peacocks, both mystery and characters are interesting, but not stellar, though the latter is definitely stronger than the former. Like many cozies, the mystery suffers from lack of structure. If you figure out who the culprit is, it's probably due to luck and author hints (ie, the main character keeps mentioning that she finds so-and-so shifty, or whatever) rather than putting together the clues and working it out for yourself. Again, as in many cozies, the revelation of the culprit happens through luck and a confession, rather than the amateur gumshoe figuring things out.
On the other hand, the book is full of a cast of characters as colorful and outrageous as the peacocks themselves. The best part of re-reading this is probably spotting every every occasion on which a certain character almost tells Meg something important. This minor, character-related mystery is handled better than the real mystery, and has a better reveal at the end. I really feel like the focus of the story is more on this relationship than on the murder, but that's ok. Overall, this is a fun little frolic of a mystery....more
Martha Wells' intricate Three Worlds doesn't lend itself well to starting in the middle, so if you haven't read The Cloud Roads you should probably puMartha Wells' intricate Three Worlds doesn't lend itself well to starting in the middle, so if you haven't read The Cloud Roads you should probably put Stories of the Raksura Down... but only so you can pick The Cloud Roads up and start at the beginning! For those who have read the main trilogy, or for those who are patient enough to start in the middle, this second volume of Raksura stories is a real delight, especially "The Dark Earth Below."...more
Tie-in novels can be hit-or-miss. It's great to go on new adventures with your favorite characters in your favorite settings... but sometimes the writTie-in novels can be hit-or-miss. It's great to go on new adventures with your favorite characters in your favorite settings... but sometimes the writing's worse than the fanfics you can read (for free!) on the Internet. Thankfully, John Shirley is no amateur. If you're all caught up on the latest episodes but haven't quite satisfied your Grimm fix, I would highly recommend picking up this novel....more
I don't read memoirs. Ever. I picked up this one because I thought it was going to be a book about food and blogging, with a little life thrown in. ThI don't read memoirs. Ever. I picked up this one because I thought it was going to be a book about food and blogging, with a little life thrown in. The reverse is true: although Martin talks about food a lot, it's always as a symbol for love, family, or community. Despite this, I really enjoyed this book. It's beautifully written and utterly heartbreaking--I was crying by page 25. Like a good novel, I couldn't put it down and turned pages compulsively. If you only want to read about food, then this book isn't a good fit for you, but if you want a book about life and food, then I would highly recommend this one....more
Although I enjoyed The Master and Margarita immensely, I could tell there was a lot that was going right over my head due to my ignorance of Russian cAlthough I enjoyed The Master and Margarita immensely, I could tell there was a lot that was going right over my head due to my ignorance of Russian culture and history. This is a book I will have to come back to someday, once I'm better able to appreciate its nuances....more
I have never spoken ill of a Mercy Thompson book, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. Not bad--I definitely enjoyed it--but I was expecting beI have never spoken ill of a Mercy Thompson book, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. Not bad--I definitely enjoyed it--but I was expecting better. The pacing was very stop-and-start: every time Briggs got some momentum going, the plot would come to a full stop while the characters regrouped. Although it was interesting to get inside Adam's head, the chapters from his perspective felt out of place because there were only two or three of them. If more of the chapters, even every-other, were told from Adam's perspective, it would have felt a lot more natural. I never felt any real fear for any of the characters, except the Sandovals. Even in the climactic fight, Mercy didn't seem to be in any danger, or, if she was, she didn't seem too worried about it.
On the other hand, it was great to see Asil out and about. I hope to see more of him, either in the Mercy books or in A&O....more
Although overall better-paced than Crossed Blades, McCullough bogs down the narrative with long paragraphs of Aral angsting about the death of his godAlthough overall better-paced than Crossed Blades, McCullough bogs down the narrative with long paragraphs of Aral angsting about the death of his goddess and his addiction to alcohol and efik. This angst was present, and not misplaced, in previous books, but here swells to take up a page or so at a whack. Although it's nice to see Aral's character development as he fights to overcome his addiction and find a new purpose for his life, I wish McCullough would stop telling the reader about it through long and usually repetitive internal monologues or awkward dialogue with Triss. On the subject of character development, however, McCullough shows his continued dedication to diverse characters by dropping a strong hint that Fei is asexual--a small and welcome touch. In general, another fun and page-turning book....more
There's always something with the Blades books, something that makes me say, "This would be a fantastic book, except...." Of course, the prose isn't eThere's always something with the Blades books, something that makes me say, "This would be a fantastic book, except...." Of course, the prose isn't exactly polished, and there's always awkward, repetitive, angsty conversations about Aral's drinking, but those are true of every Blade book and once you know to expect that, it's not so bad. Beyond that, each individual Blade book has something that bugs me, something uniquely wrong with it that makes me say, "The last one was better" even though that's not true because the last one had its own unique flaw, too.
This time, it was Aral's marriage. Improbably, unbelievable, kind of awkward, unexpected in a bad sort of way, contributing in no way to anyone's character development, ultimately meaningless to the plot... I was very frustrated by Aral's marriage.
Every time I finish a Fallen Blade book, I feel a little torn. On the one hand, I clearly enjoyed it. I stayed up until one in the morning to finish CEvery time I finish a Fallen Blade book, I feel a little torn. On the one hand, I clearly enjoyed it. I stayed up until one in the morning to finish Crossed Blades because I simply couldn't put it down. On the other hand, I'm not convinced they're good books. Crossed Blades is particularly full of stilted and awkward interactions between characters, for example.
However, I'd have to say that overall the good far outweighs the bad. What's lacking in polished prose is more than made up for with page-turning power. There are plenty of other strengths, too. Although Crossed Blades does start out with the usual woman-comes-to-Aral-for-help scenario that grew so tiring in the first two books, Jax is complex enough that she doesn't stray as dangerously close to damsel-in-distress territory as the others did--and Faran couldn't be a damsel if she tried.
Part of what makes the Blade series unique is its non-European setting. As a fan of diversity in books, I was pleased to see that McCullough takes the time to (gracefully) remind his readers that most of the characters aren't white and that Aral is bisexual.
Again, McCullough has delivered a fast-paced book with a vivid setting, interesting characters, and a complex plot....more
Katha Pollitt starts out with a position as bold an unapologetic as the cover of her book: pro-abortion. You heard right: not pro-choice, but pro-aborKatha Pollitt starts out with a position as bold an unapologetic as the cover of her book: pro-abortion. You heard right: not pro-choice, but pro-abortion. Abortion, she argues, should not only be legal, it should be seen as a normal part of women's health care. Writing for what she calls the "muddled middle", that broad swath of America that doesn't think abortion should be entirely illegal but also doesn't think women should be having them, Pollitt not only puts forward a strong and persuasive case for abortion, she also refutes each claim put forward by anti-abortionists (pro-life, she says, is a misnomer), and then goes on to dissect the true motives of the anti-abortionists.
I came to Pro as one of the muddled middle. Although I believed that abortion should be legal up to 20 weeks (as enshrined in law by Roe v. Wade), I also believed it should be an agonizing and difficult decision of last resort. Although I'm still not as gung-ho about abortions as Pollitt is, she definitely changed my mind....more
Rebecca Solnitt has assembled a short collection of essays, loosely united by the theme of feminism, that can be read in a single day, or even a singlRebecca Solnitt has assembled a short collection of essays, loosely united by the theme of feminism, that can be read in a single day, or even a single evening if you put your mind to it. I suggest you do. Solnitt is at turns poetic, serious, somber, reflective, philosophic, and factual--but she is always thought-provoking and lyrical. A beautiful and powerful book....more
Roxanne Gay calls herself a "bad feminist": she listens to rap with lyrics that degrade women; she likes dresses and shaves her legs; she admits the dRoxanne Gay calls herself a "bad feminist": she listens to rap with lyrics that degrade women; she likes dresses and shaves her legs; she admits the desire to give up some of her independence and let someone else take control of certain aspects of her life; her favorite color is pink. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I would say Gay is an excellent feminist. There is no fiery, bra-burning rhetoric in Bad Feminist, only the simple (and radical, as Marie Shear wrote) belief that women are people, and should be treated as such.
"People" are very important in Bad Feminist. In every essay--and the topics range widely, from Scrabble competitions to the Sweet Valley High books to Gay's own heartbreaking personal experience with rape--Gay talks about people. People are good, people are bad, people are contradictory. People can be feminists and still like the color pink. Always, Gay shows a profound understanding that people are flawed and imperfect, and as long as they're at least trying to be a little less flawed and little less imperfect, that's ok. Bad Feminist is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book that should be read by everyone--especially those who aren't sure "feminist" is right for them....more
I tried really hard to like this book. I love Discworld and, especially so soon after the sad passing of Terry Pratchett, is seems almost disloyal toI tried really hard to like this book. I love Discworld and, especially so soon after the sad passing of Terry Pratchett, is seems almost disloyal to say... that Raising Steam isn't that great. Although Moist von Lipwig became one of my favorite Discworld characters by page five of Going Postal, here he simply lacks the energy and wit of his previous appearances. In the end I abandoned this book halfway through, as I did Unseen Academicals. As I read my way through the last Discworld books, I would rather remember Discworld, and Pratchett, by books like Going Postal, Reaper Man, and Small Gods, than force myself to read books like Raising Steam and finish the series with a bad taste in my mouth....more
In grade school the "Cahokian civilization" received a passing mention in our textbooks somewhere between the Bering land bridge and the arrival of thIn grade school the "Cahokian civilization" received a passing mention in our textbooks somewhere between the Bering land bridge and the arrival of the Pilgrims. I remember being fascinated by the idea of it: a people worthy of the appellation "civilization," who built enormous and mysterious mounds across the landscape. At the time, I imagined pre-Pilgrim North America to be a great wilderness dotted with picturesque villages full of half-naked Indians, who hunted and gathered no more than what they needed to survive. My textbook did little to correct me. I don't recall any explanation given for why the Cahokians built their mounds, or any other information about the Cahokians at all--besides that they existed.
Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi not only satisfies my not-forgotten curiosity, it also dispels many of the myths surrounding how Native Americans lived before European contact. Here is no wilderness, no scattered villages, no subsistence hunting: instead, a thriving metropolis filled with class distinctions, consumption of luxury resources, organized warfare, public spectacles, even human sacrifice. In short, a civilization--for better or for worse.
Although Pauketat writes with authority and a clear knowledge of his subject, he nonetheless did not satisfy all of my curiosity. Working primarily from the perspective of the archaeologists who have excavated Cahokia and the light their findings have shed on this ancient city, he inevitably leaves large gaps. What was everyday life like in Cahokia? How did Cahokia rise and fall? What was its history? Pauketat doesn't say.
Pauketat does his reader credit by assuming he or she already has a working knowledge of North American prehistory. For those that do not, some small sections can be slightly frustrating. Pauketat occasionally makes mention of, for example, the Moundbuilders, or the archaeological site at Spiro. For those who are unfamiliar with these sites or cultures, the references are obscure and confusing. Also, the chapter "Discovery at Mound 72" quickly left me confused as to which pits contained what, and when they were created. All in all, none of these details are necessary to understand Pauketat's message, but I think the book would be improved with the inclusion of a larger map, showing the locations of ancient sites and historical tribes throughout the Plains and Southeast regions, and also a timeline of Cahokia.
This is a great starting point for someone who, like myself, is curious about Cahokia and is looking for an accessible yet scholarly book to satisfy that curiosity....more