The most gripping book I've read recently. There's a lot of interesting intellectual work being done about love, captivity, oppression, resistance, an...moreThe most gripping book I've read recently. There's a lot of interesting intellectual work being done about love, captivity, oppression, resistance, and collaboration. The latter two themes interested me, because in a lot of ways, Dawn was an antidote to the hero-rebels-against-oppressive-government stories dominating a lot of popular fiction, and it's pretty brazen in portraying challenging, layered, complicated systems of oppression, and in its insistence on asking constantly, "At what cost? By whose choice? Is this a choice? Is choice something to be prioritized? What about survival itself? What does survival even look like?"
So, yeah, there's a lot of uncomfortable stuff here, amid an immediate and intense story about the questionable survival of the human race.(less)
This book was ridiculous, and I really liked it. It was a perfect summer read, and it served up exactly what I wanted: an exciting action adventure sc...moreThis book was ridiculous, and I really liked it. It was a perfect summer read, and it served up exactly what I wanted: an exciting action adventure science fiction medical thriller YA with the flimsiest of plots but a strong voice. Though all its flaws shined through, still I read on, enjoying every popcorn-y moment of it.(less)
Great voice and great characters, as per usual with Charlotte Stein, but I didn't quite buy the mix of wildly romantic fantasy with the serious issues...moreGreat voice and great characters, as per usual with Charlotte Stein, but I didn't quite buy the mix of wildly romantic fantasy with the serious issues that could have benefited from expansion and more of a practical treatment.(less)
Hmm. This started off as a wonderfully weird story about a shy and sometimes-LITERALLY-invisible seven-year-old girl juggling a strong ego with a trem...moreHmm. This started off as a wonderfully weird story about a shy and sometimes-LITERALLY-invisible seven-year-old girl juggling a strong ego with a tremendous fear of the world, and it all felt like something Aimee Bender would write, and I loved it. And then it got terribly banal and did banal stuff about gender and plot resolution and how prettiness is the best thing of all. I guess I was hoping for something subversively strange all the way through, not something that ended up so banal.(less)
The prose was tidy and purposeful--not spare, but not overburdened--as was the plot. I was surprised by the nuance with which Robinson tackled women's...moreThe prose was tidy and purposeful--not spare, but not overburdened--as was the plot. I was surprised by the nuance with which Robinson tackled women's issues; even if there was a terribly stereotypical depiction of a feminist, even if what was interpreted (by said feminist) as an incident of sexual harassment turned out to be consensual flirting, and even if there were more words dedicated to describing women's breasts than I was interested in reading, both Robinson's narrative and lead character demonstrated a realistic understanding of how women (and their partners) negotiate and compromise within patriarchal systems.(less)
Nothing that lived and breathed was truly objective--even in a vacuum, even if all that possessed the brain was a self-immolating desire for the truth.
For years, teams of volunteer researchers, of scientists and explorers, venture into Area X, a mysterious, dangerous, wild, horrific place abandoned by human life. The survival rate of these researchers is dismal, and if any progress is being made into understanding the nature of Area X, it's not public knowledge. On this, the twelfth expedition, an unnamed biologist narrates the fate of her team and maybe comes closer to knowing some truth behind this terror. Things are strange from the start, when arriving at their base camp they are surprised by the sight of an elaborate entrance to a tunnel--or perhaps an inverted tower--unmarked on their maps.
I didn't think I'd be an ideal reader for this book. I'm not really one for Weird--though having been devoured by Welcome to Night Vale last summer (I think that's the way it went, not the other way around), my appreciation for it has at least increased. Additionally, I'm not typically drawn toward Horror, because fear and dread aren't emotions I'm really interested in being manipulatively whipped up within me, and gawking at fictional inhumanity isn't my bag. In this book, however, I really liked the tone used in regard to all the weird horrors encountered: straight-forward and blunt without being sensationalistic. It helped that the story belongs to a fairly unemotional narrator: she's not devoid of emotions, but she's distant and she knows it. She's introverted, she's used to holding herself apart from other people, and she's long found safety in her role as an observer. And yet with all this knowing distance and all the increasing shakiness of what the narrator observes and relates, I thought the emotional story underneath it all--the biologist once had a husband, and they both were clear-eyed about the differences between them even if they couldn't bridge the gap with love completely--remained the engine of the narrative thrust, from the first page to the last.
Okay, so I really liked the narrator and the depth and nuance brought to her, that she was brutal and self-contained and a mix of untrustworthy/trustworthy and, at one time, loved. If the book does not finish with any answers, the biologist's arc ends triumphantly and beautifully. (Readers who want answers and want definitive status updates on characters might not be so satisfied, however. Most mysteries remain mysteries throughout this book, and IDK if the future books will explain/reveal everything.)
I also enjoyed the ways this was a survival story, a story of exploration, and a first contact story. Well, a first contact story that knows it's not FIRST, not really, but still doesn't know the half of what they're to come up against. The biologist may not be an everyman representative of an average human being, but her humanity, and what she loses and what she gains in that inhumane landscape, is unquestionably human. And that's what I want from my science fiction, even when set in an inhuman world.
The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it could not be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.
This series continues to be absolutely ridiculous. Sir Philip is the foulmouthed criminal mastermind among the Poor Relations (the mostly elderly band...moreThis series continues to be absolutely ridiculous. Sir Philip is the foulmouthed criminal mastermind among the Poor Relations (the mostly elderly band of poor gentlepeople running a hotel during the Regency), but when he falls in love with someone absolutely inappropriate, the rest of the gang have to up their own game in order to drive away his beloved. Also, there is a long infodump about the hair powder tax that I found absolutely fascinating--even if it was relevant only to understand an insult one character hurled at another, I appreciated it. At the very least, Chesney's Regencies resemble no other Regency romances I've read.
There is a lot of fat shaming in this book, unfortunately. :((less)
An atrocious cover but an excellent collection. My favorite was "Rodney Has a Relapse," about a golfer who was thought to have recovered from his poet...moreAn atrocious cover but an excellent collection. My favorite was "Rodney Has a Relapse," about a golfer who was thought to have recovered from his poetic tendencies but who is backsliding terribly. Timothy Bobbin omg, that is possibly one of Wodehouse's funniest bits ever. Also, Wodehouse's relationship with A. A. Milne was not something I knew much about before now, until I went searching to see if it was an affectionate send-up or what.(less)
Hey so apparently Code Name Verity wasn't Elizabeth Wein's first rodeo on the emotional brutality circuit. The Winter Prince is just as ruthlessly pre...moreHey so apparently Code Name Verity wasn't Elizabeth Wein's first rodeo on the emotional brutality circuit. The Winter Prince is just as ruthlessly precise in its restrained depiction of wild and complicated feelings under stressful situations. And, okay, I feel like that description is something that only makes sense to me, but the beauty in Wein's writing is in that contradictory dynamic: careful narrators committed to truth, and all sorts of hard love blooming underneath the surface of that narrative. That hard love seeps to the surface in ways that feel like punches to the gut.
The Arthurian mythology isn't really my thing, and prior to reading this book, I couldn't recall anything about who Medraut was, but I found the story easy to follow, easy to enjoy. The characters were fully inhabited, not just placeholders falling into particular roles or fates. The climactic scenes tore my heart out, but I wished for an ending that left more resolved, that lingered more on the changes that had occurred in the relationships--though I understood clearly just how exhausted the characters were and how they deserved to get ushered off the page and sleep for a few days. But my feelings re: the ending don't diminish the story at all: there are four more books after this AND the series moves off to the Aksumite Empire next, so I'm a happy reader.(less)
Fluttery, nervous Miss Tonks summons up her courage and disguises herself as a highwayman to rob her sister of some expensive jewels. She holds up the...moreFluttery, nervous Miss Tonks summons up her courage and disguises herself as a highwayman to rob her sister of some expensive jewels. She holds up the wrong carriage, but while her unintended victim is actually a nice young lord who also happens to be packing heat (and who isn't going to be doing any standing or delivering), he also happens to really, really hate Miss Tonks's sister. So he dons her mask and hat and goes to do the heist himself. He steals the diamonds, but he also happens to steal a kiss from Miss Tonks's niece, and in doing so, sets the plot rollicking off in unexpected directions.
Another enjoyable farce. There's even less romantic content than in the first book (the hero and the heroine don't spend much time together), but the ensemble is strong enough to make this work.(less)
A fast-paced, farcical romance. A ragtag band of poor gentlewomen and gentlemen, half of them elderly, decide to save themselves by setting up a hotel...moreA fast-paced, farcical romance. A ragtag band of poor gentlewomen and gentlemen, half of them elderly, decide to save themselves by setting up a hotel. Hijinks ensue. While not wildly subversive (the HEA still involves marrying a rich duke, etc.) and definitely not recommended for readers who want romances that are emotionally deep, there's a lot of good stuff in here: a strongly delineated ensemble cast, critiques and send-ups of upperclass hypocrisy, references to anti-slavery principles in action (something I've noticed in every Marion Chesney regency-set novel I've encountered), someone chucking a chamberpot handle at a duke, some terrible marriage night counsel ("So you must smile and sigh despite your pain and think of the boy in the Bible with the fox gnawing at his vitals."), and some amusing situations and analyses.
"Oh, do stop them," whispered Lady Fortescue urgently to Sir Philip.
"Do you know, I don't think I will," said Sir Philip gleefully. "This will be all over Town tomorrow and will add to our consequence. I insulted Lady Stanton, and the duke and Darkwood are arguing publicly over one of the servants."
"But no one will come if they think they are going to be insulted by an old fright like you," said the colonel nastily.
"Course they will. The upper classes have a masochistic streak and fawn on anyone who insults them. How do you think Beau Brummell became so popular?"
We have had Aunt Maria ever since Dad died. If that sounds as if we have the plague, that is what I mean.
Creepy and gloomy. Neither the plot nor the w...more
We have had Aunt Maria ever since Dad died. If that sounds as if we have the plague, that is what I mean.
Creepy and gloomy. Neither the plot nor the worldbuilding cohered for me, but I liked the relationships between Mig and her brother Chris and her mother, and the sickly sweet Aunt Maria was a despicable if flat villain.(less)
Lovely prose, and a lovely first two-thirds. It's a fairy tale amid ghost lives and dreams denied. The book grows more and more ludicrous as it goes o...moreLovely prose, and a lovely first two-thirds. It's a fairy tale amid ghost lives and dreams denied. The book grows more and more ludicrous as it goes on, though, with characters acting in service of a plot rather than behaving like people. Soooo contrived. I loved the beginning of the book, and I loved the set-up, and I started off adoring the characters, but all the characters were in crumbles by the end and I was left tilting my head suspiciously at what I was being asked to trust would be a happy ending. That said, I still love Sherry Thomas's prose; it's not so much that she uses descriptive language and interesting analogies, but that she's clearly a wordsmith and she makes her choices carry emotional and narrative weight. I also think she uses flashbacks / multiple timelines beautifully, with good timing and great pacing. I just wish the characters could have been better salvaged from the mess of the plot.(less)