Between Shades of Gray is an important book for people to read because it brings awareness to a side of World War II that doesn't get a lot of attentiBetween Shades of Gray is an important book for people to read because it brings awareness to a side of World War II that doesn't get a lot of attention. The atrocities that were committed in concentrations camps, as terrible as they were, were not the only crimes committed during the war and those victims weren't the only victims.
I honestly had no idea what was happening in Lithuania and other eastern European countries until I read Between Shades of Gray. The work camps in Russia were just as horrible as the concentration camps but their history is nowhere near as well know. I think Between Shades of Gray tells the stories of the victims of tyrannical government gracefully and with care. It doesn't exploit their pain but it doesn't sugar coat it either.
I really loved all of the characters, but in particular I greatly admired Lina's mother. She is so strong and sacrifices literally everything she has to try and make things a little bit easier for her children. She is amazingly strong and I admired her bravery.
Between Shades of Gray is a book that needs to be taught in schools. It's the kind of book that will open your eyes to the horrors that don't make it into history courses. These are the kinds of stories that need to be heard so we can remember the victims and so we can prevent things like this from happening in the future. ...more
I don't know how to feel. I hated how Jem was treated. Not what happened, but how he was brushed off, both by characters and the author. All of his maI don't know how to feel. I hated how Jem was treated. Not what happened, but how he was brushed off, both by characters and the author. All of his major plot points happened "off screen". it was infurating.
With that said I did like what happened with Will. I think I liked Tessa's relationship with Will and Tessa's relationship with Jem, but not both of them happening at the same time. Maybe I don't like Tessa...and maybe I don't like her because I see so much of myself in her, and she is flawed....more
I can't believe I actually liked a Cassandra Clare novel. I never thought I would see the day. This is my fifth Cassandra Clare book and the first oneI can't believe I actually liked a Cassandra Clare novel. I never thought I would see the day. This is my fifth Cassandra Clare book and the first one I can say I honestly enjoyed. Even though the main plot didn't really go anywhere (much like Clare's other middle books City of Ashes and City of Lost Souls) I wasn't bored, unlike the other middle books.
Honestly, the character development in the Infernal Devices is so much stronger than in The Moral Instruments it feels like two different authors. I don't understand how engaging the characters of The Infernal Devices can be and how flat and dull the characters are in The Mortal Instruments. There are a lot of writing faults in The Infernal Devices. The word "startlingly" is used way too much! It's like Cassandra Clare thinks that everyone in Victorian England walked around jumping at literally everything they see "ooh your eyes are blue!", "ooh you are handsome!", "ooh your skin is pale!". Just stop, seriously, it's so bad. I also feel that Will is incredibly anachronistic. I know he's supposed to be a rapscallion, but the way he talks is just too modern.
I thought the romance was really well done. I mean, this is of course the over used love triangle trope, but The Infernal Devices is actually successful because we don't know who Tessa will choose. Both Will and Jem are viable options and we as readers actually have to read the rest of the series to see what will unfold. So even though Will was a huge idiot (seriously, didn't he ever think to I dunno, talk to someone about his issues? Why would he just take everything he was told as the truth and believe it blindly? I don't understand) and I don't thing Jem (my boo) has a snowballs chance in hell, I'm excited for clockwork princess.
Overall The Infernal Devices series is turning out to be leaps and bounds better than the Mortal Instruments. If I may be completely truthful I would recommend just skipping the Moral Instruments all together and starting with Clockwork Angel. You get the same characters and plot, but more interesting versions. ...more
Graceling is hands down one of the best examples of YA high fantasy I've ever read. It is action packed, well thought out, and never got static or preGraceling is hands down one of the best examples of YA high fantasy I've ever read. It is action packed, well thought out, and never got static or predictable. There is a great foundation set in the world building that really allows the characters to shine.
I really believe that good high fantasy is based on good geography;. When you write high fantasy, you're creating an entire new world, and how that world works is based upon their geography. Coastal countries should have port cities, colder regions can trade furs and game, warmer regions grains and fruits. There are going to be areas that have better advantages in war because of a river placement or a mountain range. There are going to be different cultures, economies, governments, religions, and dialects, and can get very confusing all on its own even without adding in a magical element. I think Graceling handles all of these elements well while still keeping it simple enough for younger readers.
I also really enjoyed the main characters, Katsa and Po. I loved the growth that Katsa goes through and I like how their relationship develops. I LOVE how Katsa takes charge of her life and decides that she will have lovers without marriage. In medieval settings it's rare to find a woman who is open about this kind of sexual arrangement and who really takes control of her life (I'm thinking of the women in Game of Thrones) which makes Katsa even that more refreshing in the fantasy genre. I also loved Po. I thought he was what a YA love interest should be, supportive, understanding, and a hottie (that goes without saying though). Po isn't perfect, he has his own insecurities and short comings, but he never tries to dominate Katsa and I really like the dynamic the two have (plus Cashore doesn't sky away from the sexy times which is AWESOME).
Overall Graceling is everything that everyone has been telling me, exciting, interesting, intelligent, and totally awesome. I highly recommend this novel as one of the best high fantasy novels in the YA genre. ...more
I don't think I've ever read anything like The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. It is amazing, horrifying, and both a work of magical fiction and bI don't think I've ever read anything like The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. It is amazing, horrifying, and both a work of magical fiction and brutal honesty. I felt like for the first time I had found someone who could understand how I feel. I identified on so many levels with this book, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. I appreciate Emilie as an artist so much more now because I realize just how much of herself she puts into everything she does. This is one of a kind, and is well worth every cent I paid and more.
The Asylum is a book, I think above all else, about women's rights. Women's rights to do whatever they want and have freedom over their bodies, minds, and lives. This includes the right to harm their bodies and to even end their life. Emilie is all about fighting like a girl and being a total bad ass, and I love watching Emily-with-a-y grow into a Victorian warrior queen. It's just totally awesome.
I also totally loved Emilie's story as well. I think it was such a perfect blend of fact and fiction that I really couldn't tell what was true and what was bleeding over into Emilie's story. The decent into madness was so slow and subtle that I found myself thinking very odd things were perfectly normal and destructive behaviors were really the only option available. And the ending? Amazing beyond belief.
On a more practical note I loved the overall presentation of this book. It is absolutely beautiful. Every page is glossy and full colored with photos, drawings, and cut outs from journals. It really adds to the story and makes it more than just a book.
I cannot recommend the Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls enough. It has so many fascinating topics. Abuse, mental illness, historical fiction, self mutilation, suicide, friendship, women's empowerment, music, photography, art, and of course muffins, tea time, rats, and leeches. So spread the plague little rats because, as we all know, dead is the new alive!...more
Clockwork Angel is an interesting novel in that it produces a conundrum. I think it was better than The Mortal Instruments books, but pretty much theClockwork Angel is an interesting novel in that it produces a conundrum. I think it was better than The Mortal Instruments books, but pretty much the exact same story and characters. I would love to see Casssandra Clare write something other than a love triangle of sarcastic teens with modelesque good looks. All of her characters are the same, and it's getting old.
While the writing was better, this did not really work as a historical or steampunk novel. These characters are most certainly not Victorian, they are written in a modern voice with mostly modern sensibilities. Occasionally Tessa will think that something isn't proper or that servants shouldn't act a certain way, but because none of the characters ever seemed to follow Victorian propriety all this did was make Tessa look judgemental and prudish. It felt like all of the ideas about Victorian society came from Wikipedia. Also, just having a cheap imitation of Dr. Who's cybermen doesn't make your novel steampunk. Steampunk is highly stylizied speculative fiction and just inserting a few robots and putting "clockwork" in the title doesn't cut it. This felt very gimmicky and like a way to cash in on a popular trend.
Now with that said, I still did enjoy Clockwork Angel. Third times a charm I guess. I think this is largely due to Jem, the one character that felt new and fresh to Cassandra Clare's world. Tessa and Will are pretty much carbon copy's of Clary and Jace, but Jem actually felt like a fleshed out character with a unique back story. I was actually surprised at how excited I was to read a different character from Cassandra Clare (can you tell that I've been marathoning all of her books back to back?).
Overall the best offering from Cassandra Clare, but when you consider her other novels that's not saying much. I think if I hadn't read The Moral Instruments before Clockwork Angel I would have enjoyed it a lot more, but sadly this comes off as a more polished version of the novel she has already written. ...more
I don't know what it is about Gregory Maguire, but I keep reading his books thinking I'll like them and I end up being disappointed at best, but moreI don't know what it is about Gregory Maguire, but I keep reading his books thinking I'll like them and I end up being disappointed at best, but more often than not annoyed and put off. I love the ideas of his novels, but every single one is a let down. Confessions is not so terrible as Mirror Mirror or Lost, but I'm still leaving feeling like he could have done so much more. There is all of build up in this novel and the ending feels rushed, like he got bored half way through and just decided to stop writing. Also, I am surprised at the lack of sexuality in this book, which is a very prominent topic in some of his other books. This story seemed ripe for sexual exploitation, and if there was any it was only hinted at. There were many aspects of this book that I thought were almost good, but just not quite developed enough.
I think I will always try and fail to enjoy his writing....more
One of these stars is for the audiobook, which was very good. The story itself is pretty terrible. The characters are all very one dimensional, it's oOne of these stars is for the audiobook, which was very good. The story itself is pretty terrible. The characters are all very one dimensional, it's obvious who is the "good" Boleyn and who is the "bad". There's also a lot of telling, but not a lot of showing. We're told Anne is very political savvy and extremely charming, but all we ever see is a raging psychotic bitch. I'm a big Anne Boleyn fan and I hated this one sided portrayal of her....more
ok I can't do it. This book is just awful, and I can't finish it. I made it about half way and while a lot of people told me it would get better in thok I can't do it. This book is just awful, and I can't finish it. I made it about half way and while a lot of people told me it would get better in the second half, I'm sorry this book is almost 900 pages. If you have literally zero plot in 400+ pages then it's not worth finishing. I think this book needed a much firmer editor. Just in the first half I'd say 50-100 pages could easily have been cut, largely due to the complete lack of story. The whole first half of the book goes like this:
Claire - 'Cuz we are living in a post WWII world, and I am a 1940s girl....
****MAGICAL TIME TRAVEL ROCKS ACTIVATE****
Evil Englishman - ARRRR RAPE!
Sexy Scotsman - Rape save!
Claire - 1700s Scotland!? dafaq?...ooh a kilt...OK!
Other Scotsmen - ARRRR RAPE!
Sexy Scotsman - Rape Save!
Roadway Bandits - ARR RAPE!
Sexy Scotsman - Rape Save!
****300 pages of them living in Scotland doing nothing except living in Scotland****
Sexy Scotsman - Now we have to get married because...reasons!
Claire - but I'm already married...oooh a kilt...OK!
Evil Englishman - ARRRR RAPE!
Sexy Scotsman - Rape save! Wife Beat! ARRR RAPE!
Claire - I'm mad I hate you...ooh a kilt....OK!
****Loch Ness Monster (no really)****
That's literally it.
The thing about this book that really grinds my gears is the general acceptance of rape. Basically the main character lives in constant threat of rape from everyone. The villainous Englishman, the Scottish clansmen, and even her (second) husband. It's one thing if the villain is doing the raping, it makes him more evil. What I completely don't understand is when the romantic interest does the raping or threatening of rape and we as readers are supposed to find it manly and sexy. I'm sorry, but threatening your wife with assault is NEVER attractive.
ANOTHER THING. So many people have defended the rape in this book because it's "historically accurate" and "that's just how things were back then". It's true that women didn't have many rights and were treated like property, but that DOESN'T MAKE IT RIGHT. Rape is ALWAYS wrong, even if it's the 1700s and even if it's your husband. For Claire to be so accepting of it and for other readers to still find Jamie attractive and heroic is just disgusting. We need to stop making excuses for rapists and abusers, regardless of time period, culture, childhood, or whatever else you want to try and use. ...more
The Red Tent is an interesting perspective of one of the most know stories from the Bible. The story of Jacob and his many sons, in particular JosephThe Red Tent is an interesting perspective of one of the most know stories from the Bible. The story of Jacob and his many sons, in particular Joseph and his "Amazing Techno-color Dream Coat", have been told in many movies, books, and even Broadway musicals. The Red Tent tells the same tale but from the woman's perspective; a side that is sadly under represented in the Bible.
I really loved this book. Like REALLY loved this book. I absolutely loved the tribe aspect for the women. I think in modern times we look at ancient tribal cultures and see the women as repressed "possessions" of the men in the tribe. This book really shows how the women have their own culture, support systems, and contentment with their woman-ness. They aren't meek submissive pets. They stand up for themselves, are shrewd business women, and sexual beings aware of their bodies and the natural cycle of life. Being on their period wasn't the curse so many women complain about today. The Red Tent was their retreat, their place of solace where they could congregate and share in each other's wisdom.
There are a lot of people who dislike this book, and I think it's largely the people who cannot see history as any way other than what is exactly in the Bible. The idea that the "heroes" of the Bible may not be so heroic after all scares them because it causes them to question their faith. I think that it's very important to not read the Bible as literal fact for modern times. It has to be looked at within the context of a two thousand year old nomadic nation and that the Bible was written two thousand years ago in ancient Hebrew. There's bound to be some things that are lots in translation and through cultural evolution. For example the word "rape". Was Dinah raped in a modern sense, with violence and anger, or was she raped in an ancient sense, as in having sex out of wedlock? The same word but with two very different meanings and implications.
Overall I think The Red Tent is a very important book for women's spirituality. It presents the story of one of the most under represented figures in the Bible and gives her a voice. It never strays from the original backdrop of the Biblical story, but expands on this untold story with grace and beauty. ...more
Book Thief is a beautiful and unique novel about one of the most horrible times in human history. It is a brilliantly constructed look at how the NaziBook Thief is a beautiful and unique novel about one of the most horrible times in human history. It is a brilliantly constructed look at how the Nazi party controlled all of the citizens of Germany through fear and intimidation and the lives of citizens who dared fight back. This book does more than describe the atrocity of the concentration camps and the crimes against the Jewish people; it shows the compassion and courage of the people willing to save them.
The characters are presented in a way that allows the reader to understand their actions and motives and connect with them on a deep emotional level. The characters are tangible, their emotions wonderfully described, making them believable and relatable to the reader. The use of death as an omnipresent narrator weary of the crimes humans continually commit against each other is a wonderful balance between exasperation at humanity's need to repeat the mistakes of their fathers and admiration of compassion that can be shown toward people who are truly in need. Death tells the story sprinkled with humor and a sense of wonder that humanity can still surprise him with its rare bouts of selfless goodness.
This book is not light and easy fare. It is heavy material about the need for people to stand up for what they know is right, even if it means facing foes much more power and control. You as the reader will grow to love the characters for which they are, the mistakes they make, and the dreams they have. The Book Thief does an excellent job of presenting the German people as individuals with their own opinions on morality who were fighting personal battles against tyranny and oppression. These are people just like the reader, not the single minded evil entity in which many other World War II stories seem to lump the entire German community.
Overall The Book Thief is an emotional account of how World War II affected everyone in the world through the one entity that connects us all, death....more