I'm impressed by the scope of this novel but to be honest, it felt like a chore to read up until approximately page 500, when I finally started enjoyi...moreI'm impressed by the scope of this novel but to be honest, it felt like a chore to read up until approximately page 500, when I finally started enjoying myself. (less)
This book kept me company in my idle time while traveling last month in Norway. The Outlander series is a favorite of my co-workers, so I had some cau...moreThis book kept me company in my idle time while traveling last month in Norway. The Outlander series is a favorite of my co-workers, so I had some cautious but high expectations of a sweeping and engrossing historical epic with a lot of sexytime. I liked it. It was a good, hefty, satisfying historical romance. The time travel premise is silly and there's a lot of goofy situations but whatever. But I think I would have been a lot more impressed if I had read Outlander as a teenager. Maybe then Jamie Fraser would have been a literary pin-up boy as Ralph de Bricassart was to me when I was fourteen. I generally feel rather ambivalent towards Claire Randall and Jamie. Of course my favorite character is the evil sadistic Scotsmen-raping English pervert Jonathan Randall. I love him, hahaha. (less)
If you're looking for historical authenticity in the Victorian England setting, this book is not for you. India Black is a playful murder-mystery narr...moreIf you're looking for historical authenticity in the Victorian England setting, this book is not for you. India Black is a playful murder-mystery narrated by a smart-mouthed madam of a London brothel named Lotus House. India Black's adventures starts when Sir Archibald Latham (dubbed "Bowser" by India), a corpulent member of the War Office croaks in Lotus House. Bowser's favorite activity at Lotus House was to dress up as Queen Victoria and be flogged by a whore in Prince Albert costume, so naturally, he was in black mourning dress when he keels over. This is the kind of humor you will find in this book.
The best parts of India Black were the first few chapters, which takes place in Lotus House. Unfortunately, when India left Lotus House and ends running all over England, embroiled in espionage plots between Russia and Great Britain, my interest waned. I didn't care much for the mystery itself and found myself chugging through the action sequences, mostly bored. (less)
Enjoyable, but not exactly what I was expecting. Hundreds Hall, the Georgian-era haunted house in The Little Stranger isn't the Overlook Hotel; the ef...moreEnjoyable, but not exactly what I was expecting. Hundreds Hall, the Georgian-era haunted house in The Little Stranger isn't the Overlook Hotel; the effect of the hauntings in the book are subtle, ambiguous. They are maybe delusions of a mentally ill mind, or possibly a consequence of isolated people imagining things while living in a huge estate visibly rotting around them. Or perhaps even something else. The book is mostly about lonely people interacting with each other in some craphole Warwickshire village in post-WWII England, and a touch of the difficulty of old landed gentry families adjusting to the modern world. I did enjoy it (I read it in 2 days) but it left me feeling cold at the end, wanting more. I can't help but wish for more than what the book was. One major weakness was the first-person narrative which felt a little flat. I found myself feeling rather indifferent towards the narrator, Dr. Faraday. I wonder how Hilary Mantel would have written the story. (less)
The premise of the book - Charging Elk, a young Oglala Sioux, who had known Crazy Horse, joins Buffalo Bill's traveling circus and is abandoned in Mar...moreThe premise of the book - Charging Elk, a young Oglala Sioux, who had known Crazy Horse, joins Buffalo Bill's traveling circus and is abandoned in Marseille - intrigued me. Oh man, it was beautiful. I loved every word of it. And I have a crush on Charging Elk now.(less)
I won this through the First Reads giveaway program. Thanks Goodreads!
This is the first book I've read by Sandra Brown. Apparently it's quite unlike t...moreI won this through the First Reads giveaway program. Thanks Goodreads!
This is the first book I've read by Sandra Brown. Apparently it's quite unlike the stuff she usually writes (I admit that I know so little about Sandra Brown that I have no idea what kind of stuff she usually writes), so I can't really say whether you would like it if you were already a fan of her work.
The story takes place in Dust Bowl-era Gilead, Texas during the Great Depression, and Ella Barron is a single mother of an autistic child. Ella takes in boarders for a living. One day, in too chaotic and pressured of circumstances for Ella's liking, she takes in a boarder named David Rainwater. David Rainwater is terminally ill. The fact that the guy's name is Rainwater and the story takes place in a time of drought is not mere coincidence.
This was a very fast and easy read. The language is very simple and brisk with no frills at all. Sandra Brown doesn't tell you anything more than what she thinks you need to know. This may please some people but I like my fiction to be a little more descriptive. Though the time period and their life circumstances sucked, I found the protagonists Ella and Rainwater kind of boring. I guess the point was that they are decent, moral people trying their best to do good with what they have, but that doesn't exactly make exciting reading. The ending was surprising, though. Also, the antagonist was a bit of a caricature, and reminded me a lot of Biff from Back to the Future, which is probably not a good thing given the serious tone of the book. The most interesting parts of the book involved Ella's autistic son, Solly. I think Rainwater would have been more suitable as a novella or even a short story.
I recommend this if you like simple character-driven stories about relationships between people, without much perverseness. Because of that, I can't say that it's the most exciting book I've ever read, but it was not bad. (less)
I am demoting this book to two stars because after stewing for a couple of months, I've decided it annoys me. The Kitchen Boy is not bad. The language...moreI am demoting this book to two stars because after stewing for a couple of months, I've decided it annoys me. The Kitchen Boy is not bad. The language of the narration is interesting. There is a stilted, halting, slightly awkward flow to the language which reminds me of how my husband (who lived in Russia until his mid-20s) would write in English. I'm not sure if Robert Alexander (a native English speaker) wrote like this on purpose or not. But in general I'm not very impressed with the style.
I've generally avoided reading fictional accounts of the Romanovs generally because there is so much documentation on who they were and what happened to them - and their story is so outrageous, sickening, and heartbreaking - that fiction just seems unnecessary. And there's a lot of EXTREMELY well-written nonfiction books on the subject. Just read Robert Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra, for god's sake.
Most of the book is confessional-style - the narrator (the kitchen boy) is spilling his guts to a tape recorder. There is a fairly predictable twist at the end and I don't really buy some of the reasoning that the characters made justifying the secrecy. (less)
I was surprised by how good this book turned out to be. The cover of the paperback, which suggests a bodice-ripper, is deceiving, though there is a lo...moreI was surprised by how good this book turned out to be. The cover of the paperback, which suggests a bodice-ripper, is deceiving, though there is a lot of sex. But the perverse, lonely, desperate, and hate-filled kind of sex. The glittering scenes of how the rich despair as they indulge themselves into oblivion, and the isolation of snowy Wisconsin reminded me a little of Edith Wharton, and also Willa Cather's "Paul's Case". I enjoyed A Reliable Wife and will be reading it again sometime. (less)