I really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was excited to read the second one, but I have to say I was disappointed.
Shadowplay abandons the...moreI really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was excited to read the second one, but I have to say I was disappointed.
Shadowplay abandons the circus setting that I found so interesting in the first book. Instead of Micah continuing to learn the trapeze, he finds himself living with a magician and studying to be an illusionist. He'll probably end up with a musician in the next book and learn to play the lute or something, since picking up new skills seems to be pretty easy for him.
Long portions of the book are spent describing the magic acts Micah sees and performs in, and for me they just stopped the action entirely. Also stopping the forward momentum of the narrative were the numerous flashbacks to the long-forgotten past of their ancestors.
Then there's the whole political unrest angle. Lam is already juggling a lot of fantasy elements here (ooh, maybe Micah will learn to juggle next!) -- mysterious ancestors, dueling magicians, telepathy and magical powers -- not to mention Micah's gender identity/sexuality; she doesn't quite manage to do all these aspects justice. The class/social issues don't feel integrated into the story enough to be of interest. Maybe it will all come together in the next book, which I do intend to read, but this one just seems all over the place.(less)
With apologies to Mr. Afrika, since this is an autobiographical novel, I have to say I found the characters in this book utterly unsympathetic. Consid...moreWith apologies to Mr. Afrika, since this is an autobiographical novel, I have to say I found the characters in this book utterly unsympathetic. Considering the time period, homophobia is to be expected, but the sheer amount of gay panic and denial is exhausting. (less)
My feelings about this book are lukewarm at best. For me, it just didn't have the emotional impact Moyes was going for, and certainly not that of Me B...moreMy feelings about this book are lukewarm at best. For me, it just didn't have the emotional impact Moyes was going for, and certainly not that of Me Before You.
Skimming through other reviews, it seems most readers prefer the parts of the dual narrative set during WWI. But I couldn't bring myself to care about Sophie, the perfect, feisty heroine who daringly defies the Germans, brings food to the poor, pines for her annoying husband, and captivates the Kommandant with her unassuming beauty, all while being shunned by the town.
We're meant to admire her spirit and her loyalty, but she just felt too perfect. And I didn't care if she was reunited with her husband, a self-absorbed painter; their relationship is shown only in flashbacks, and just isn't very appealing to me. Sophie is his idealized muse, who of course spends all her time making sure he can CREATE. She continually credits him with the strong person she's become, but all he ever does is tell her how beautiful she is. Well, except the scene where he shows her how to be free and wild by dancing in public!
The story line set in the present wasn't that much better. It hinges on a very contrived romance and a legal case about art ownership that supposedly captures the public's attention so much as to inspire riots. I don't know anyone who cares that much about stolen art and war reparations that much. (less)
First I want to say that I think it's great that Open Road Media is publishing digital editions of so many out-of-print and backlist titles. That may...moreFirst I want to say that I think it's great that Open Road Media is publishing digital editions of so many out-of-print and backlist titles. That may be the best thing about ebooks - being able to read books that have long been unavailable.
Second, I appreciate that this book features a gay man as a serious investigative journalist; I do think it's important to see all types of gay characters.
However, this is not a very good book. The mystery is not that interesting, and somehow it's hard to take a plot that centers around cat shows seriously as a crime novel. The villain is cartoony and the romance is too fast and easy to be believable, considering the main character is almost 40 and has been in denial about his homosexuality his whole life.
Most problematic is the narrative style. The majority of the book is told from the main character's point of view, third person present, except when paragraphs randomly switch POV, which makes me cringe anyway, but for some reason even more so in present tense.
This book caught my eye because I'm always in the mood for an angsty coming-of-age/coming out book.
Asher is just starting high school, which is hard...moreThis book caught my eye because I'm always in the mood for an angsty coming-of-age/coming out book.
Asher is just starting high school, which is hard enough, trying to reconcile old friendships and new. He's already been blindsided by his parents' messy divorce and just as he's starting to explore his sexuality, his little brother drowns.
Wheeler does a good job showing how the divorce is pulling Asher apart, as he deals with his father's sudden absence from his life, his desire to stay loyal to his mother and how to respond to his father's new wife. Nothing new here, but it felt realistic.
Asher copes with the divorce and his brother's death by immersing himself in photography, obsessively taking pictures of landscapes and objects but never people. In one really powerful scene, Asher's dad forces him to take a picture of him and his new wife, even though Asher tells him he never photographs people, not even his brother. Asher's feelings of grief and betrayal are palpable as the safety he finds in photography is corrupted.
The way Wheeler deals with Asher's sexuality is less successful. It seems like an afterthought. Throughout the book, Asher occasionally feels conflicted over his feelings for the openly gay boy at school, with whom he has his first kiss, but it never goes anywhere. So if you're looking for a coming out story, or first love, this is not the book.
The ending is rather abrupt. On the one hand, it's realistic that there are no easy answers, but the ending was so sudden and unceremonious that I wondered if my copy was missing pages.
When I started reading, the story was immediately familiar, a Lifetime movie we've all seen before: unqualified but sass...moreThis book took me by surprise.
When I started reading, the story was immediately familiar, a Lifetime movie we've all seen before: unqualified but sassy girl becomes a caretaker for bitter quadriplegic and over time charms him into realizing that he has something to live for after all.
I was in the mood for romance, the writing was good, I liked the characters, so I eagerly kept going. But soon I wondered if maybe I didn't know where this was headed; I desperately wanted the cliched happily-ever-after of those Lifetime movies, because I was no longer convinced I was going to get it.
In hindsight, I probably should have guessed this wasn't that kind of love story, considering the comparisons to One Day (a manipulative and aggravating book which still makes me angry). And like One Day, this book was designed for tears. The difference though, I think, is that Nicholls went for the sucker punch, which totally alienated me, while Moyes built up a sense of dread throughout, so I was torn between fearing the worst and clinging to the hope that things would turn out okay.
And yes, there were tears. Ugly, loud sobs. But I wasn't angry. Okay, maybe that's a lie, but still, the ending felt right for the story and sometimes it feels good to have a nice cry.