I intended for this audiobook to last me a week, at least, with my hour-long commute to and from work. Unfortunately, I reached a point where I couldnI intended for this audiobook to last me a week, at least, with my hour-long commute to and from work. Unfortunately, I reached a point where I couldn't stop listening. I should have expected it. Gone Girl sucked me in with the same intensity, and Sharp Objects is similarly dark, brooding, and oh so familiar.
That said, this is not a light-hearted novel or one with a hopeful ending. It's not something you should read if you've ever struggled with self-mutilation, as the possible triggers become more and more frequent throughout the novel. The razor-blade on the cover should serve as a warning to those who might find descriptions or even references to that sort of behavior problematic. I found some parts difficult to listen to, but I have to say that I'm always impressed when a book can make my skin crawl.
Don't expect to get to the end of this story and like any of the characters involved. Flynn belongs to a growing list of writers who do an excellent job of baring a character's flaws to the reader and not bothering to redeem them in any way. The protagonist (I use the term loosely, as she's less of an actor and more of a bystander as the story progresses), Camille, has a few endearing qualities but more emotional baggage than you can shake a stick at. Her family is terrifying in a way that only old money and faux-Southern mentality can create. Windgap is as chilling a setting for this Midwest Noir (Is that a term yet? If not, I'm making it one) as any big city, ghost town, or backwoods shack could ever be. It's the sort of town that's full of closely-guarded secrets, nasty gossip, and more than a few closet skeletons.
If you enjoyed Gone Girl, you will probably enjoy Sharp Objects. If you're the sort of reader who prefers a happy (or even hopeful) ending, this is not the book for you....more
I waited a very long time for this book. If not decades, it certainly felt like decades. The Abhorsen series remains one of my favorite YA fantasy ser
I waited a very long time for this book. If not decades, it certainly felt like decades. The Abhorsen series remains one of my favorite YA fantasy series, and that's quite a feat when one considers the sheer volume of YA fantasy out there today. My overall reaction to this latest installment was satisfaction, but that was tempered by a faint echo of disappointment. I'll explain the latter first, as I could wax positive on a book I like for entire paragraphs.
My disappointment stems more from the pacing of Clariel than by anything else. The first half of the book felt like a long, slow climb up a hill, and the view from the top once we got there didn't seem to be worth the exertion to see it. I haven't experienced a pacing disappointment like this since Harry Potter and the Prolonged Camping Trip Deathly Hallows. Perhaps the author meant for the reader to experience some of the frustration the character felt at being bored and trapped - but as a reader, when I begin feeling bored and trapped by a novel, I tend to move on and find something more engaging to read. Life is too short to be bored by a book, especially one you've been waiting for with such anticipation.
I stuck with Clariel out of dedication to the Abhorsen series, and I don't entirely regret it. I appreciated having a female protagonist who was utterly unmotivated by romantic aspirations. Asexuality is underrepresented in fiction for teens, and it's a refreshing trait that inherently negates the tired trope of the love triangle (spare me the tormented romantic choices that drive so many other teen novels). I also appreciated seeing a completely different side of a familiar character - Mogget at his most manipulative. Though there were a few disconnected threads between what was alluded about Chlorr in the Abhorsen series before and what we learn in Clariel, I found the story to be an enjoyable addition to the backdrop of the Old Kingdom. I'll probably never love Clariel as a character in the same way that I love Lirael, but her story (in spite of the pacing) was one that I don't regret reading.
I love nearly everything Tamora Pierce writes, and for different reasons. At first glance, one might think that the Protector of the Small Quartet is
I love nearly everything Tamora Pierce writes, and for different reasons. At first glance, one might think that the Protector of the Small Quartet is a rehashing of the Song of the Lioness. While both Alanna and Keladry are noble-born ladies in the still-primarily-patriarchal society of Tortall, that's where their similarities end. Alanna accomplished her feats of knighthood using a familiar plot device - the woman who disguises herself as a man to become a renowned warrior. It's been happening since the legend of Hua Mulan or of le roman de Silence.
But where Alanna won her place before revealing herself as a woman, Keladry enters into her training fully exposed and vulnerable (in a sense). She is the first woman to enter knight training since the law was changed to allow it, and she is very nearly denied that opportunity. And, though the sponsorship and companionship of the realm's only other female knight might have made a huge difference in her experience with hazing, bullying, and downright criminal attempts to get her to run back home, Alanna is notably absent from Keladry's life. As a result... we get a strong girl, who fights her own battles and those of the weaker characters around her. She stands up for what she believes is right, having been at the receiving end of injustice herself. And in spite of tremendous social and interpersonal pressure to give up her dream of knighthood and return to a woman's more traditional feudal role as the lady of the estate, she perseveres. Keladry's story is in many ways more synchronous with the experiences of young girls today. Instead of a gods-chosen destiny, Kel has a dream. Instead of hiding who she is, Kel is unapologetically a girl. She wears armor and dresses. She develops romantic feelings for some of her friends, and learns how to deal with those. She bleeds, she rages, and she cares.
I have a soft spot for fairy tale retellings. That said, I'm also incredibly picky, especially when it comes to Beauty and the Beast. I can't claim toI have a soft spot for fairy tale retellings. That said, I'm also incredibly picky, especially when it comes to Beauty and the Beast. I can't claim to have been impressed by Flinn's modern take on the classic tale. I found the pacing sluggish and the characters flat and predictable - of course you expect some level of predictability with a retold fairy tale, but there's still room for creativity on the author's part. It's called creative license for a reason, folks, and Flinn didn't make much use of it in this novel.
Beastly rates two stars on my meter only by virtue of its being based on a tale that I love. Beyond that, it's a disappointment. Disappointingly flat and one-dimensional characters, disappointingly linear story progression. If you're looking for an enthralling Beauty and the Beast retelling, you may want to give Beastly a pass. If you're looking for a fairly shallow high-school drama in the guise of a fairy tale, then this novel is right for you....more
I have rarely committed to finishing book that I find so uncomfortable to read. Unfortunately, I was working in a public library when the 50 Shades hyI have rarely committed to finishing book that I find so uncomfortable to read. Unfortunately, I was working in a public library when the 50 Shades hype was at its highest, and it was one of those books I felt like I almost had to read, because half the people coming up to our service desk wanted to talk about it.
I do not find emotional abuse to be romantic at all. I'm actually a bit concerned by the number of people who seem to find this love story romantic. I could make an itemized list of all of the emotionally abusive things Christian Grey does in the name of love, but others have done a far better (and more eloquent) job of that already.
Additionally, 50 Shades is about as accurate to BDSM as Grey's Anatomy is to the medical profession. Are there bad, abusive dom/mes out there who participate in the lifestyle because of emotional trauma and abuse? Yes. But the majority are well-adjusted adults who engage in dom/sub play as a healthy expression of sexual fantasies. "Safe, sane, and consensual" is the mantra of a healthy BDSM participant. There is nothing safe, sane, or consensual about Ana and Christian's relationship. Do not fall into the trap of believing that 50 Shades is a realistic representation of a relationship between a dom and sub. You'll end up either disappointed or injured....more
**spoiler alert** Volume two was definitely an improvement on the first installment of the Scott Pilgrim series. There are a few things in here I'm su**spoiler alert** Volume two was definitely an improvement on the first installment of the Scott Pilgrim series. There are a few things in here I'm surprised they left out of the movie adaptation (like Knives and Ramona's epic battle in the library). As expected, I am liking the comics a lot more than the film. Looking forward to volume 3....more
A good introduction to some techniques I've never before encountered. The photos and diagrams are helpful, the step-by-step instructions relatively eaA good introduction to some techniques I've never before encountered. The photos and diagrams are helpful, the step-by-step instructions relatively easy to decipher. I was hoping for something which didn't require me to buy commercial patterns, and that is my one major criticism of this book. That said, I'm sure following pattern directions will be much easier with Sparks' handy commentary.
Additionally, the matte paper is great for making notes to yourself in the margins. This book has earned its place on my sewing bookshelf....more
I'm not ordinarily a nonfiction reader, but I saw this audiobook on the library shelf and figured I'd take a chance. I'm glad I did. Schiff's biographI'm not ordinarily a nonfiction reader, but I saw this audiobook on the library shelf and figured I'd take a chance. I'm glad I did. Schiff's biography of one of the most famous women in history is entertaining and enlightening. I especially enjoyed the author's habit of comparing eminent Cleopatra historians' own assertions, since Dio and Plutarch are constantly contradicting each other....more