Interesting, in that it felt like a Romance and not a Presents at times, and I thought it was stronger when it focused on the Romance-y angles: the evInteresting, in that it felt like a Romance and not a Presents at times, and I thought it was stronger when it focused on the Romance-y angles: the evolving family ties and how that changed Alessandro's sense of self in particular, life in the small Scottish village, the more tender and feel-good emotional dynamics. The dramatics and the sex and the Presents-y trappings (he buys her new clothes unlike her own! they jet-set to the gigantic place he owns on a tropical island! he ignores her after their climactic argument and her rejection of him, because he's realizing he loves her!) weren't as appealing or nuanced.
I did like Williams' writing style, especially the long scenes that felt like they were very much a stage play style: there was so much movement in the emotions and in the characters' goals during a single scene--and yet it always full of clarity and vitality--and it was quite satisfying. All the headhopping, though, reminded me of Nora Roberts....more
Okay, time for me to take another year-long break from Christie. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was marvelous; despite knowing the whodunnit, I was hoodwOkay, time for me to take another year-long break from Christie. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was marvelous; despite knowing the whodunnit, I was hoodwinked pretty good with the howdunnit, and I only spotted one line of anti-Semitism. In this one, the anti-Semitism is egregious and woven into the logic/rationalizing out of the mystery, and being too familiar with how Christie writes/patterns/constructs her mysteries, spotting the culprit was too easy....more
While a more straightfaced book than the rollicking The Good Lord Bird, Song Yet Sung is no less nimble and a piece of a similar project: in both bookWhile a more straightfaced book than the rollicking The Good Lord Bird, Song Yet Sung is no less nimble and a piece of a similar project: in both books, McBride consciously wades in among the links of American Mythology and tugs those chains hard. He may destabilize those myths, but he doesn't break them. And he's not trying to. The movements he makes with the stories he tells, it's all to get a better idea of the shape and strength of these myths. Here, he focuses in on the collectivity of the dream of freedom.
This is so well-paced. I just kept reading, my attention never getting distracted because there was always something interesting to follow. Characters were brilliantly clear, intensely motivated. Even when Liz, the Dreamer, was motivated to go nowhere…that was some intense motivation and stubbornness. There wasn't often a lot of subtlety, and there was definitely some melodrama and sentimentality. The writing verged from beautiful to overwrought, and almost never understated. But whenever I found some reading time, I was really excited about getting back to this book, because it was so engrossing and so competent. Its use of place, and travel through place, and character-revelations through character-interactions, were all the sorts of things I enjoyed in The Good Lord Bird, but its construction--the multiple viewpoints of protagonists and antagonists & their games of cat and mouse, the writing style, the rather delicate and protected heroine at the center, the depictions of resistance and complicity--made me think readers who liked All the Light We Cannot See might also like this book, despite the different time periods and settings. (Also, this book is better, even if it does share similar flaws.)
Finally: how is this not a movie yet, omg. ...more
This was one of SYNC's free offerings this year, paired with Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down. I ended up turning to an ebook copy midway through listeThis was one of SYNC's free offerings this year, paired with Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down. I ended up turning to an ebook copy midway through listening; I can read faster than I can listen, and I was too engrossed to slow down. It was both an entertaining read and an intellectually textured one, though the book ends with choked-up grief over passing, and that feeling overwhelmed everything for me. I'd recommend it to readers who want to expand on Boy, Snow, Bird or to follow up on A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in America, books that look critically at what is lost by passing....more
Some beautiful writing, and some heart-in-your-throat excellent descriptions of breaking free and breaking past and forging those cracks that'll let iSome beautiful writing, and some heart-in-your-throat excellent descriptions of breaking free and breaking past and forging those cracks that'll let in your future, and some good if not particularly deep thematic work about masculinity, but I was disappointed by the final parts of the story (the book's description on its GoodReads page mostly covers the plot of said final parts, and it's an unpleasant rush of Stuff Happening and Things Changing after so much stasis in the first parts of the book) and the flatness of the characters who were not Jason--particularly the women.
The scene with Jason and his grandfather at Evel Knievel's Snake River Canyon jump will probably rank among the best things I've read all year, though....more
I want to review this properly when I'm not in the middle of packing and moving, but in short: believe the hype (but if you don't like YA, you won't lI want to review this properly when I'm not in the middle of packing and moving, but in short: believe the hype (but if you don't like YA, you won't like this, it is very much YA), yes there are gigantic sea monsters and a teenage girl who trains them and a group of pirates who abduct her and a f/f relationship and an adorable & deadly sea monster named Bao but who seems to mostly be called "little shit" and he is basically the most important male character. The book so very smartly & so very solidly swerves away from the potential grossness of the tropes it deploys, and it very much looks at concepts like complicity and agency in nuanced ways--through a teenager's eyes.
The plot is bloody, the characters are crunchy, the treatment of issues is chewy, and the first thing I did after finishing this book was rush to the computer so I could look up when the sequel will be published....more
This is one of those "I mean, it's good, but I didn't LIKE it" two-star ratings. This is Link's debut collection of stories, and while she's always haThis is one of those "I mean, it's good, but I didn't LIKE it" two-star ratings. This is Link's debut collection of stories, and while she's always had amazing ideas, her execution skills have grown a lot, given how smooth and sharp--and a lot more varied--Get in Trouble is. Anyway, "The Specialist's Hat" is wonderful and a couple of the other stories were also good, but there was a pervading sameness to most of these stories....more
Loved this one. It deserves a better review than I have the brainspace to give it at the moment, but in short, I think it's my favorite ever renditionLoved this one. It deserves a better review than I have the brainspace to give it at the moment, but in short, I think it's my favorite ever rendition of a popular trope that I'm normally meh about (the bluestocking and the rake). There was lots of nuance and complicated self-image chewiness, and I enjoyed James's prose, which risked purple-ness in order to actually be interesting and complex....more
I was never good at the future. I grew up with girls whose chief occupation was the future--designing it, instigating it. They could talk about it wi
I was never good at the future. I grew up with girls whose chief occupation was the future--designing it, instigating it. They could talk about it with so much confidence that it sounded like the past.
My favorite kind of coming-of-age novel, full of intense longing and drowning in pretension and focusing tight on the painfully discomfiting stumbles of figuring out the borders between yourself and others, between being an object and being a subject. The prose is indulgent and reverent, not wasting a second on pretending neutrality, and in particular, I think Danler does something lovely and pluralizing with her scattered use of unattributed overheard dialogue. The book is thick with commitment to mistakes--to flailing through a new job and making missteps with coworkers, to a dully obscene amount of coke and ill-conceived romantic longings--and I wouldn't recommend it to readers with low tolerance for pretension (and okay, even average tolerances for pretension might want to to tap out). But me? I loved it.
The last pretentious coming-of-age novel I loved was Wittgenstein Jr, and I think they'd be happy shelfmates, despite the extreme differences in the two. Sweetbitter, in the biggest difference, is very conscious of gender, gendered authority, and feminization. It's very knife-edge precise and angry about it at times ("No," I said. "Nothing you do is ever embarrassing. You're not a girl."). Given the current popularity of books with "girl" or "girls" in the title, I'm pleased this book escaped that fate, especially considering our protagonist spends most of the book only known as "new girl." I can't speak to the horde of "girl"/"girls" books, but Sweetbitter pushes at the designation of "girl" and wallows in at the same time, which I think is really helpful in the work it does examining gender, gender performance, and living-inside-gender in this hardy, exoticized, fast-paced world where readers come in with, like, Anthony Bourdain (who I like, don't get me wrong!) as their source of authority. ...more
Physics, ground down to its most basic parts, was nothing more than the study of energy: where the energy was, where the energy was not, and how the
Physics, ground down to its most basic parts, was nothing more than the study of energy: where the energy was, where the energy was not, and how the energy flowed.
Humans were the same. All human interactions were nothing more than the flow of power from one to another. Whatever emotions other people professed to feel for one another--love, hate, empathy--they were nothing to that unconscious awareness of power. Crack any of those sentiments open and find inside only the dark core of a power differential informing it, defining it, giving it strength.
Slow-burning but cinematically vivid. It felt very old-fashioned, and never quite nuanced or believable enough, but there was magic in the sureness of the unfolding of everything; I think the fact I loved the last few pages, loved the emotions and uncertainties it stirred up, was what secured a three-star rating when otherwise, I found the book a little too irritating in its construction.
The book's primary downfall was how frustrating and unsatisfying it was at a character level. The vast majority of characters (aside from the hyper-intelligent trickster conman poor little rich blond boy whose feet and body are both lovingly described as pale and slender, excuse my vomit over the objectified vulnerability--and p.s. I'm sure there's a page for that archetype on TV Tropes, in the Pimpernel/Wimsey vein). But, nearly unforgivably, the POV characters were irritatingly single-minded, leaving huge blindsides to the plot machinations going on, and what avenues they chose not to consider in their attempts at problem-solving or at interrogation were never believably delineated. Like, they nonsensically both choose to dismiss the most interesting/complicated/nuanced/intelligent options of whatever they're evaluating/theorizing/working to solve--and these are two women who are supposed to be very smart--and the only reason seemed to not broaden their minds was to keep delaying the plot. I needed smarter POV characters than that. The twists were far too heavy-handed for my taste, as well, which also contributed to my feelings of OMFG BE SMARTER, THE AUTHOR KEEPS STATING THAT YOU'RE SMART, HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE WHAT'S GOING ON HERE????
But the book's plot/situation is intriguing--thieving con-men (possible terrorists?) sneak aboard a secret government spaceship, and then the ship starts losing its mind--and I found satisfaction on the plot level. And I think I'll still give the sequel a try....more
I enjoy Robinson's mysteries--one twist here had me gasping an expletive--and I enjoyed that this book was the aftermath of the book Aftermath (crimeI enjoy Robinson's mysteries--one twist here had me gasping an expletive--and I enjoyed that this book was the aftermath of the book Aftermath (crime spirals and connects, pain claws at you from the inside out and shapes you from that point on, there is no such thing as closure--which the characters touch upon). But omg he seems incapable of writing women outside of the male gaze. This goes beyond the typical women-as-objects-of-violence and pervasive sexism in the crime genre, and it translates to a disappointing failure at the craft level. And I don't get it. He seems to understand people and humanity on the level where he writes interesting and engaging mysteries, but the POVs of his women characters are utterly unconvincing & revolve primarily around men and how men perceive them. This problem has been present from the start of the series, though it's been balanced by some glimmers of insight and complexity (I thought Jenny was a well-rendered effort at the start, for example). As Annie becomes a larger character in the series, however, the failure of Robinson to create and utilize women-outside-the-male-gaze is very grating....more