I haven't read a new King book since The Dark Tower, but my partner loved this one, and as he doesn't read much fiction, I thought I'd give it a try....moreI haven't read a new King book since The Dark Tower, but my partner loved this one, and as he doesn't read much fiction, I thought I'd give it a try. I certainly enjoyed it, although I have to think that someone (like my partner) who is more of a history nerd might like it better. Anyhow, this is King in top form - not too terrifying, not too out there, just a damn good storyteller.(less)
I picked this up on a whim after searching for "historical fantasy" on Amazon after finishing Glamour in Glass. To be clear, this is not historical fa...moreI picked this up on a whim after searching for "historical fantasy" on Amazon after finishing Glamour in Glass. To be clear, this is not historical fantasy and Amazon's search feature isn't very helpful if it thinks it is, but it worked out okay because this was a perfectly fun read. Plus it was available in the free Amazon Prime lending library, so no harm, no foul! I'll probably buy a copy when the sequel comes out and I'm ready to re-read this, but I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise, so good deal.
If we could use half-stars, this would probably be a 3.5. I haven't read a ton of time-travel books, but they handled it in an engaging and not too confusing way. A little much on the romance, but I'm not a teenager, so I can forgive. The character's voice was a little obnoxious at times, but again, so are teenagers (sorry teenagers!). It's a quick and fun read - I finished it in one 4-5 hour sitting. I look forward to the sequel!(less)
I've been looking for this at bookstores for a while and haven't seen it - such a shame, because it's a beautifully done series. Starting where Shades...moreI've been looking for this at bookstores for a while and haven't seen it - such a shame, because it's a beautifully done series. Starting where Shades of Milk and Honey, you don't need to have read that book to enjoy this one, but it helps. Like its predecessor, this is a slow book, but a rewarding one. Kowal has really pulled out all the stops in making the book feel like something written in 1815. There's a fascinating bit in the afterward talking about how she spellchecked using a dictionary made up of the complete works of Jane Austin, and researched any word that wasn't in there to see if there was a period-appropriate equivalent.
I think this is probably a stronger book than Shades, but if you didn't like Shades I can't imagine that you would like this one. But if you liked Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell or Gail Carriger, you'll probably like these as well (if you thought Jonathan Strange was good but a bit TOO long and slow, like me, this will be right up your alley).(less)
Picked this up after finishing Steelheart. It's a nice follow-up, and we'll see how it fits into the series once the next book comes out. Nothing too...morePicked this up after finishing Steelheart. It's a nice follow-up, and we'll see how it fits into the series once the next book comes out. Nothing too meaty, just a little something extra if you're sad that book one is over and book two isn't out yet.(less)
Not my favorite of Sanderson's works, but a good solid fun read in another uniquely imagined setting. This reminded me more that anything of Rising St...moreNot my favorite of Sanderson's works, but a good solid fun read in another uniquely imagined setting. This reminded me more that anything of Rising Stars: Born in Fire - asking what would happen if superhumans suddenly appeared, and finding an answer that's not nearly as happy as the golden age of comics would have us believe. This is even darker than Rising Stars, in that there are no heros - only villians.
Sanderson offers a possible explanation for this late in the book - I'm not 100% sure it makes sense to me, but I'll run with it. This is the first of Sanderson's young adult books that I've read, and I wonder if he's not trying to find his voice a bit. He wrote the four Alkatraz books before this one, but my understanding is that they're more midgrade than YA? Who knows. In any case, it feels less polished than his adult books, especially the Mistborn Trilogy and The Way of Kings, but it also feels like he had a lot of fun writing it, and as I had a lot of fun reading it,
Looking at the common tags, I'm not the only one who isn't quite sure how to categorize this. Somewhere between post-apocalyptic and urban fantasy? Let's just say superheros and move on - superheros have always existed in a funny land between fantasy and science fiction anyhow. Interestingly, this is the first Sanderson I've read that's actually set on earth - I have to wonder if it ties into his larger mythology at all.(less)
2/11/13: I loved this one a bit less than the rest of the series, though it still gripped me enough that I was able to get through the whole thing dur...more2/11/13: I loved this one a bit less than the rest of the series, though it still gripped me enough that I was able to get through the whole thing during my commute and in a couple sittings after work. The narrative split didn't work as well for me as the Donald/Troy or Donald/Mission splits in First Shift - Legacy and Second Shift - Order. Solo is an interesting character, but nothing really comes of his chapters except confirmation of what we guessed about him in Wool: he lost everyone he cared about in a brutal and sudden fashion, he drifted in and out of insanity, he killed in necessary as well as perhaps unnecessary self-defense. Part of what I liked about the last two books was how the dual perspectives compliment one another. In First Shift - Legacy it's the before and after, and in Second Shift - Order it's the investigation into a silo collapse and the collapse itself (sort of). But the two pieces here just didn't fit together in the same way.
I may have to break my usual rule and reread the entire series before the end of the year, because there are a lot of moving pieces here. Certainly on the list to reread whenever Dust is released. So a good book, but a little bit of a let down after the last 7 parts, and a frustrating place to have to stop and wait for the next installment.(less)
I still enjoy this series quite a lot, but I'm not sure if any of it quite lived up to the first book. The worldbuilding and story-telling is tremendo...moreI still enjoy this series quite a lot, but I'm not sure if any of it quite lived up to the first book. The worldbuilding and story-telling is tremendous, but I'm not sure that the character growth quite kept pace. Note that I'm still giving this book four stars, so it's not like I wouldn't recommend or reread it. If anything, it's absolutely a series I look forward to rereading many times in the future.(less)
2/10/13: This is sort of a sequel/prequel to Wool, and lives up to the awesomeness of that story. It took me a little bit of time to work out the time...more2/10/13: This is sort of a sequel/prequel to Wool, and lives up to the awesomeness of that story. It took me a little bit of time to work out the time frame, as this story is split between the near future (2049 as I recall without putting out my copy) and the slightly-less-near-but-still-fairly-near future (2110), and it wasn't clear to me until well into Second Shift where the timing lined up with Wool. This is a feature, not a bug from my perspective, though, as the perception of time is something that is played with here much more so than in Wool.
It would be possible to read the Shift trilogy before reading Wool, but I think that would probably detract some of the tension. First Shift in particular is about good intentions gone bad, and knowing where things end up even though the characters don't is half the fun.
One comment here that I was reminded of reading other reviews: the bit about gender segregation in Silo 1 did strike me as clashing with Howey's otherwise good depictions of women. Maybe there's an in-universe explanation that I haven't gotten to or interpreted, but the idea that women would be a distraction is presented without much criticism for me to feel entirely comfortable. Given the rest of the story, why not use some kind of sexual-tension blocking drug instead? The throw-away line about the democratic party nominating a woman for president for the second time implies that the rich-white-male-politician class has continued to be integrated, so what gives? Did the women in charge just agree to be completely removed from power "for the good of the species" or something? I get we're talking special circumstances, but I just don't buy it.
Which leads in the criticism that there are apparently no homosexual men in Silo 1 for some reason. Giving Howey the benefit of the doubt on this one, again, there might be some in-universe issue, but given the state of gay rights in 2012, it's strange to think that even the rich-white-male-politician class of 2050 would have this kind of blind spot. Giving Howey a bit less benefit of the doubt, this lack of logic makes me think that the blind spot is his.(less)
2/9/13: I keep telling myself that I should unsubscribe from Amazon's Kindle Deals emails, because I have more than enough books (both physical and e)...more2/9/13: I keep telling myself that I should unsubscribe from Amazon's Kindle Deals emails, because I have more than enough books (both physical and e) that I haven't read yet, and even $2-3 adds up.
Then I end up with something like Wool, which wasn't even on my radar until it was featured a few weeks (or months) ago, I buy it on a whim, start reading it on a whim a while later, and am completely blown away. It doesn't surprise me at all that this is the rare self-published book to gain mainstream acclaim. And the author is writing more!
Wool gets the rare five stars from me because it hit all the parts I want in a story: a fascinating and unique setting, characters I empathize with even if I don't always like them, and, oh yeah, a great story that keeps me turning pages. It also has a lot of the parts that I like in a book but can live without: social and political commentary that's thoughtful without being heavy handed, a decent gender mix in the lead characters, women in non-stereotypically female roles, plot twists that are actually genuine surprises (but still make sense in hindsight), moral ambiguity, and non-linear storytelling.
The plot twists come fast enough that it's hard to write much of a summary. I'd just recommend that anyone who likes post-apocalyptic fiction give it a shot, because this is definitely going on my list of best new book of the year.(less)
I guess I got my nonfiction reading out of the way early this year. I picked this up after finally watching the show, having had it recommended about...moreI guess I got my nonfiction reading out of the way early this year. I picked this up after finally watching the show, having had it recommended about a zillion times. The book is an easy read - I blew through it in an afternoon. It's interesting, though it maybe lacks depth. I don't read a lot of nonfiction so I'm not the one to judge, but this felt like the kind of thing I'd read in a series of blog posts, not something I'd pay money to pick up. I may have been a little distracted by the show, too, as I often found myself comparing the two rather than enjoying the book for what it is.
One thing I do appreciate - Kerman has done some research here, and it shows. This might not be the deepest book in the world, but it does convey the real broken nature of our prison systems in an accessible (for middle to upper middle class white women at least) way. A little smug at times? Sure ("I am fairly certain that I was the first Seven Sisters grad to eat duck liver chased with a Diet Coke in the lobby of a federal penitentiary.") But still likeable.(less)
**spoiler alert** The Safeword storyline is my least favorite part of Y, hands down. In hindsight, I get what they were going for, but I think that th...more**spoiler alert** The Safeword storyline is my least favorite part of Y, hands down. In hindsight, I get what they were going for, but I think that the buildup was lacking, so the intervention seems to come out of left field. I was also uncomfortable with the rape elements. It's not necessarily a bad thing to be made uncomfortable by something you read, but since the setup didn't seem to be there, it just felt like gratuitous discomfort rather than the kind of discomfort that makes one think. I just didn't buy Yorick being suicidal - the character up to that point just seemed reckless, and I felt like rather than just being told that his recklessness is suicidal didn't work. I needed to have seen it, so that the revelation clicked, and it didn't.
Since I read these in single issue form, I don't connect the Widow's Pass storyline to the Safeword storyline as closely as I suppose one would if reading in collected format. I quite enjoyed that one. PJ is one of my favorite guess characters and I was quite bummed about her death.(less)
I read through Y a couple of weekends ago after it was briefly shown on Lost. I've been on a Vertigo kick recently, rereading Books of Magic and Lucif...moreI read through Y a couple of weekends ago after it was briefly shown on Lost. I've been on a Vertigo kick recently, rereading Books of Magic and Lucifer as well. Hands down, Y is the best of the three. I'm going to have to read Sandman again soon to decide which of those wins out as favorite comic series of all time. I'm going to guess Sandman will win, but only by a small margin.
One of the things I really like about Y is the consistency of it. From issue 1 to issue 60, the art is consistent (if there were any fill-in issues I sure didn’t notice), something that really helped keep me in the story. There are a lot of touches that really make the universe real - one thing that might seem small but I thought was a great touch is how the characters’ appearances change over the course of the story. It’s also the style that I really enjoy in comics - there are places where the pictures tell the story without any text at all, including some of the most powerful parts of the story, but the layout is also not so flashy that it distracts from the plot. Some comics lean really far in either the word or picture direction, but Y is a great balance of both.
If Vaughan and Guerra didn’t sit down with issue 1 knowing what was going to happen in issue 60, it certainly doesn’t show. Almost every character with a speaking role shows up again, and they all change and grow as the story progresses. One of my favorite repeats is the garbage collector from the second issue.
There is exactly one theme that I thought was not handled especially well though the series, and that’s Yorick’s survivor’s guilt, which is hinted at but I don’t think especially well developed. This makes Safeword my least favorite storyline, as even on what was at least my third full read through, the events of Safeword seem to come out of left field and feel really forced. As it were.(less)
I got this as a Christmas present from my future-in-laws (they know me pretty well) and really enjoyed it. I don't read non-fiction books very often,...moreI got this as a Christmas present from my future-in-laws (they know me pretty well) and really enjoyed it. I don't read non-fiction books very often, but this reads very easily. That said, I wouldn't consider it an entry-level discussion of the constitution, either. Wexler explains his concepts, but he doesn't dumb things down, either, and he goes into the weeds of constitutional analysis at times. Lots of fun if you're already a con law nerd (*raises hand*), but might be difficult if you're not.
As a side note, Wexler definitely lets the liberal flag fly in places. It's kind of hilarious, if you're into dark humor about Dick Cheney and John Yoo (spoiler alert: Wexler isn't a big fan).(less)
I picked this up as a Kindle daily deal and didn't realize until I was most of the way through (it's a fast read) that it wasn't actually fantasy. So...moreI picked this up as a Kindle daily deal and didn't realize until I was most of the way through (it's a fast read) that it wasn't actually fantasy. So this is officially the 107th book I've read this year and, other than the two non-fictions-the first non-speculative fiction. Hah. In any case, it was a good read. Maud is realistically unlikable at times, and the supporting characters are more three-dimentional than they easily could have been. This reminded me a lot of Coraline, actually, just without the overt supernatural elements.(less)
12/2/13: This was an interesting book. Not quite what I'd expected, following Graceling and Fire, but an understandable progression. The cover calls t...more12/2/13: This was an interesting book. Not quite what I'd expected, following Graceling and Fire, but an understandable progression. The cover calls this a "graceling realm book" and that's a good way of putting it. It's surprisingly stand alone, although reading the previous two books certainly fills in some back story on King Leck. That said, most of what you need is right here: Bitterblue is a young queen, her father was a madman with the power to take over people's minds, and she's stuck cleaning up the pieces.
Of the three books, Graceling is probably the most plot-based in terms of story (maybe that's not quite the right term but I'm going to run with it), and Bitterblue is the least. Graceling tells the story of Katsa coming to terms with her grace, and solving the mystery of the kidnapped prince. Fire also deals with the titular character coming to terms with her power, but the plot is less focused: there's the war, the romance, and the mysterious boy all wrapped around each other.
Bitterblue is even more in that vein: the real story here is Bitterblue finding her place and understanding how to use her power as queen (I'm sensing a theme here!) to heal a kingdom that is even more badly injured than she realizes. It's a surprisingly dark book, actually, to the point that it was actually difficult to read in places. I had a little hesitation putting it in the young adult category, although I think it certainly sits there. The romantic elements are much more downplayed than in the last two books, although it doesn't necessarily seem so in the beginning. Having just finished this, I might read it again right away, because there's a lot here.
I don't know what Cashore's next project is, but whatever it is, I'll buy it because she's put out three really fantastic books so far.(less)
12/3/13: I'd been thinking about picking this one up again for a while, especially with Bitterblue coming out in paperback, but was putting it off bec...more12/3/13: I'd been thinking about picking this one up again for a while, especially with Bitterblue coming out in paperback, but was putting it off because in my memory, it was a bit angsty. Having read it again, however, I didn't find it that way at all. Katsa is not necessarily the most upbeat of characters, but she's well paired with a strong supporting cast, and although she struggles with understanding her place in the world, she gets there about two-thirds of the way into the book and it able to come to a great finish. I appreciate how understated the romance is too. There's certainly ups and downs, but there's a great balance between the characters, and I didn't feel like Cashore spent a lot of time having the characters circle around each other. They act like adults, which is a great thing to find in a young adult book.
3/20/12: Graceling is absolutely one of my favorite young adult fantasies. It just has all the pieces: a strong and interesting lead character, strong world-building, compelling plot. I especially enjoy Cashore's ability to write action - so often I get lost trying to follow a fight scene, but she brings them to life. High on the list of books to reread.(less)
3/21/12: Adding a star on rereading because I enjoyed this one more than I'd remembered. Cashore writes some excellently flawed characters, and great...more3/21/12: Adding a star on rereading because I enjoyed this one more than I'd remembered. Cashore writes some excellently flawed characters, and great palace intrigue. Too often female characters (especially young women) are written as being "insecure." While that's fine for a start, it's not especially compelling. People can be insecure in a lot of different ways, and flawed in ways that have nothing to do with their self-confidence. As in Graceling, the lead character here has to come to grips with her own power. Whereas Katsa's power caused people to avoid her out of fear, Fire's power causes people to be overly attracted to her, sometimes violently. In both cases, the character ends up extremely isolated, but whereas this Katsa seems more or less okay with this, Fire is a more social being.
I'm not always the biggest fan of the intrigue/political style fantasies, but maybe the style is growing on me because I really enjoyed it here. The relationships and power dynamics between the royal siblings are fascinating to watch, as are the different ways they react to Fire. Although on reread the mystery of Fire's father was absent, I could still feel the suspense and enjoy watching the pieces fall into place.
A comment I saw in some of the reviews was that they disliked Cashore's anti-family and marriage perspective. I find that a disappointingly simplistic way of looking at things. Yes, Cashore's books are set in a world where sexual politics are somewhat more flexible than our own, and both star women who don't want children (if for very different reasons). However, I don't see that as a criticism of marriage or families. In both cases the women make very personal decisions for very understandable reasons. I'm tired of readings books where every woman's reward or goal is to be married and start a family. Showing a little diversity isn't anti- anything except for lack of choice.(less)
1/8/13: The spine on my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring broke, so I picked up the all in-one-kindle version. I suppose I could still keep track wit...more1/8/13: The spine on my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring broke, so I picked up the all in-one-kindle version. I suppose I could still keep track with the separate versions (which would mean I hit my goal of 100 books in 2012 last year rather than being two short) but that just seems like cheating. I suspect that the next time that I read this (probably some time in 2014!) I'll read the kindle version as well. For long books it's now my preferred format by far.(less)
12/3/13: The one where Harry works for the fairies.
I gave the last book three stars on first reading, and going back after a second reading I don't fe...more12/3/13: The one where Harry works for the fairies.
I gave the last book three stars on first reading, and going back after a second reading I don't feel a huge need to upgrade that. This one does better, and starts to really move Harry into his new reality. The old bad guys are (mostly) still around, but the island becomes much more central, and although Harry does spend a lot of this book getting used to his new situation, it doesn't drag the way the last book did. James Butcher has said there will be about 23 books in the series, which puts this a little past the middle, but it has a lot of the feel of starting a second act. We're certainly well past the point where jumping into the series anywhere would make any sense - the series is pretty firmly in ongoing plot arc land now and has been for a while.(less)
9/2/12: You know, I've been looking forward to this one for a while but it just didn't do it for me. I'm...more12/3/13: The one where the title is a spoiler.
9/2/12: You know, I've been looking forward to this one for a while but it just didn't do it for me. I'm not sure what it is - I could have reread the rest of the series first, but I think I did that less than a year ago. The pop culture references seemed to come a little too fast and furious here - in previous books there's just been a smattering of nerdy awesome, but it felt heavy handed here.
Another problem might be that the book operates by a new set of rules from the rest of the series, being as how (view spoiler)[Harry's dead (hide spoiler)] and all. Is that actually a spoiler? Better safe than sorry, although anyone jumping into the series at this point would probably be totally lost and not make it all the way through.
The middle section of the book seemed to drag. I like my Dresden files fun and explody. If something new and awful isn't happening to Harry every few pages, then what's the point? Here much of the middle of the book is devoted to Harry figuring out how to function in his new circumstances and feeling bad about the stuff he did in the last book. And while the consequences of those actions are interesting (and fill the role of punching Harry around quite nicely), there are bits where Harry is almost wallowing in misery, and whether that's deserved or not, it slowed down the story.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)