After struggling to finish this book, all I can say is: I am disappointed.
I really wanted to love this. I felt the characters were interesting and theAfter struggling to finish this book, all I can say is: I am disappointed.
I really wanted to love this. I felt the characters were interesting and the plot had potential. But I found myself struggling to finish this out of pure boredom.
A few issues I had with this book:
- The character of Barrington Whelk. I hated his backstory, felt he was an unnecessary addition to the story, and honestly wish he had never been included.
- Gansey's bipolarness. Gansey was possibly the most frustrating character I've ever loved to hate. At times I really loved him, and at other times I felt like he was the ultimate hipster/emo persona. If you were to ask me who he really truly is as a person I wouldn't be able to tell you. There's being interesting and multi-faceted, and then there's being a completely different person depending on what scene you're in.
- Blue's father. Towards the end of the book Blue's mother shares a theory she has for his disappearance, but it's never explored. Here is a woman who spent the entire first half of the book being secretive about asking her friend to find Blue's dad and when she finally tells Blue all about it, nothing comes of it. Really?
- Noah's big reveal and the boys' reactions. I just couldn't believe how no one was sufficiently freaked out about this.
- Ronan's issues. In the beginning of the book it's clear that Ronan has issues. With his dad's murder, his schooling, and especially his brother. During the middle of the book Ronan's brother disappears and we never hear about him again. There's no resolution to their issues as a family or even with Ronan's grief. He just adopts a baby raven and calls it a day. I was really disappointed with this.
- Blue's deathly kiss. WHY BRING THIS UP WHEN NOTHING HAPPENS?! You're such a tease, Stiefvater.
- The ending. The end was frustrating, lackluster, and disappointing overall. When there finally is some sort of resolution, it's glossed over or passed on to someone else to fix or deal with (Whelk, Neeve, Adam, etc.). Adam is one of my favorite characters, and in the end all we know is he went through some inherent change and moved out on his own. So I'm guessing he's happy, but I don't really know for sure. It's beyond frustrating. I NEED SOME CLOSURE, STIEFVATER.
However, not everything was awful. There were some positives I noticed:
- Different characters narrating the chapters. I like when Stiefvater does this, I feel like she has a way of varying the narrating so that you know it's someone different talking.
- The three psychics. Calla and Persephone were my favorite characters in this book, hands down. They added some humor to the story and had a lovely dynamic between them, I loved them.
- Blue wasn't an idiot. At least, I didn't feel she was, and that's such a rare thing in books like this so kudos to Stiefvater for not writing a character that I immediately wanted to choke to death.
Unfortunately the cons outweigh the pros by a wide margin in this case, so I had to give this three stars, but I'm sad, because a lot of people loved this and I really wanted to as well. It just didn't work for me in the end....more
A great intro to science and our not-so-humble beginnings.
Some of my favorite quotes:
"Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time o
A great intro to science and our not-so-humble beginnings.
Some of my favorite quotes:
"Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stuck fast, untimely wounded or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result - eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly--in you."
"Using huge amounts of energy, [physicists] can whip particles into such a state of liveliness that a single electron can do forty-seven thousand laps around a four-mile tunnel in a second."
You read that right. That's 47,000 laps around a 4-mile tunnel in a SECOND.
"Even the most substantial ocean creatures are often remarkably little known to us—including the most mighty of them all, the great blue whale, a creature of such leviathan proportions that (to quote David Attenborough) its 'tongue weighs as much as an elephant, its heart is the size of a car and some of its blood vessels are so wide that you could swim down them.'"
"The fact is, we don't know. Don't have any idea. We don't know when we started doing many of the things we've done. We don't know what we are doing right now or how our present actions will affect the future. What we do know is that there is only one planet to do it on, and only one species of being capable of making a considered difference. Edward O. Wilson expressed it with unimprovable brevity in The Diversity of Life: "One planet, one experiment."
Bill Bryson has a wonderful talent for sprinkling humor throughout all the scientific facts that he repeatedly throws around in this book. He uses great analogies to drive the point home without boring you to death. He also makes it a point to use as many credible sources as possible, and mentions them almost as if to say, "Here, please check this out on your own time."
He breathes life into old scientists, researchers, and scholars. You almost feel like you know them. You feel bad for a lot of those who made great discoveries and never got anywhere in life or died in poverty.
I was surprised at how little we know. How little we've always known. Even after Bryson describes discovery after amazing discovery, he makes it a point to let you know just how much we don't know. It's both fascinating and disappointing.
I recommed this book for anyone who wanted a brief overview of our early beginnings, how we got to where we are, and a nice concise history of science as we know it today. ...more
I was a bit disappointed with Fire Study. While Snyder is a skilled writer, the plot in this book was so disjointed and all over the place that I feltI was a bit disappointed with Fire Study. While Snyder is a skilled writer, the plot in this book was so disjointed and all over the place that I felt it hard to keep up. And sometimes, I didn't even want to.
As with the other two books there is an underlying Big Issue that Yelena is trying to overcome that sometimes takes a backseat while other minor events go on. The difference with Fire Study is that these minor events that were sprinkled throughout the story were either completely pointless, hurried, random, or just plain confusing. Most of these plot points didn't affect the Big Issue or have anything in common with it.
I kept feeling frustrated reading about all this other stuff that didn't really matter in the end. It sure as hell didn't help Yelena come closer to finding out how to overcome the difficulties she's encountering with her magic.
I also felt that her character development skills slipped here a bit, especially with the characters of Cahil and Marrok. Too much has occurred with these characters. I don't understand exactly how Yelena can just hope to "work things out" and "teach things" to them. Cahil himself should have died twice in the series. I also kept thinking back to Cahil and Yelena's earlier almost-romance that never happened. The Cahil that showed up during that time was never seen again.
The romance between Yelena and Valek was a bit more refreshing however. I didn't particularly care for it in the second book, but I enjoyed their romance alot more in this one than in Magic Study.
Overall, this was a great series and the ending was satisfying. I felt Yelena grew a lot during her journey and became a well-rounded individual. Her position as liasion between Sitia and Ixia is a perfect fit for her. I just wish Fire Study would have focused on two or three main ideas instead of multiple mini-stories. I felt it would have made for a more conclusive novel and the quality would have remained consistent somewhat....more
I've really been enjoying this series by Maria V. Snyder. The plot, the characters, the magic aspect of it all feels really fresh. The main characterI've really been enjoying this series by Maria V. Snyder. The plot, the characters, the magic aspect of it all feels really fresh. The main character Yelena is self-sufficient, intelligent, and brave without feeling unbelievable or forced. Do you know how rare that is?
In Magic Study, Yelena is coming to terms with relocating to a new place, reuniting with her parents and her brother, and beginning a new journey with her recently discovered magical abilities. It's a lot to take in, a lot of changes at once, but the difficulties don't end there.
While she struggles to understand her identity she is faced with additional challenges: 1) her brother Leif will not accept her as his sister and has some sort of hateful grudge against her, 2) Cahill, a young man raised specifically to take over the throne of Ixia, kidnaps her for information, 3) Goel, a guard of Cahill vows to take revenge against Yelena for making him look foolish and incompetent, and most importantly, 4) there is a man who possesses magical abilities and is using them to abduct young girls, tortures them, and then steals their souls. So a lot is going on.
The plot is fast paced, intriguing, and unpredictable (at least for me). The only disconnect I had with the story was the relationship between Yelena and Valek. For some reason I just love them both separately but not together. I can't really explain it, because it's not like Snyder doesn't know how to tie in romance, but I just didn't 'feel it' in this book. Hopefully in the third installment, Fire Study, I can either come to terms with this romance or just ignore it. Because honestly, the rest of the plot/characters/development makes up for it....more
I really wanted to love this, but I just couldn't.
Megan Whalen Turner is an amazing writer, there is no doubt. But time and time again she lost me. MoI really wanted to love this, but I just couldn't.
Megan Whalen Turner is an amazing writer, there is no doubt. But time and time again she lost me. Most of this book is about a war between two countries. There's a lot of talk about strategies, plotting, battles, and geography. Lots of talking about time passing and nothing happening.
I love Gen as a main character. I love the queen of Eddis just as much. I even have a weird soft spot for the queen of Attolia. But great characters aren't enough. I need a story that keeps me entertained and makes me feel something other than "Well, she's brilliant." and "Okay, I see some slight character development here." It never quite did it for me.
This entire book felt like a huge set up for another book, which kind of defeats the purpose of it being the second book in the series. Events are slow in coming and halfway through you wonder why it's taking so long. It's difficult to imagine the geography of the three kingdoms and I felt like half of the details about where things are happening could have been eliminated completely. It doesn't add anything to the story. But while all of this is frustrating, it pales in comparison to the unbelievable plot twist Turner decided to add at the last minute (or at least, that's how it felt like).
The twist towards the end of this book (literally like the last three chapters) had me groaning. It was all "too little too late" for me. And it also didn't feel believable. There was absolutely no build up whatsoever for this 180. It was just this "But I feel this way. I've always felt this way. I didn't talk about it, but all this time I've been feeling this way. Do you feel this way?" NO. I DO NOT. What I feel is RAGE.
The last paragraph of this book was a bit heartwarming, yes. And I really am rooting for some of these characters. But I don't see the point of a third book. I don't see the point of this book, and overall I'm disappointed that this series hasn't lived up to the hype for me. And it sucks because Turner is an amazing writer and this whole cast of characters and the different situations they find themselves in makes for some really great reading. I just wish I had enjoyed it more....more
I know a little bit about grief. Conor's grief and the conflicting emotions he's grappling with are feelings that I myself hThis book hit home for me.
I know a little bit about grief. Conor's grief and the conflicting emotions he's grappling with are feelings that I myself have been through these past four months. When I lost my father to cancer in late August, I felt many things. Pain, grief, anger, hopelessness, and guilt. A lot of guilt. I believe guilt and grief coincide and I believe that's the message in A Monster Calls. It's not about fear. And it's not about death. It's about guilt being wrapped up in pain. Conor's truth is revealed late in the game, but it's made clear that he's known this truth all along. And it's eating at him.
I know a little something about guilt. It consumes you little by little and continues to eat at you until you reach deep down into yourself and face the truth. Forget the five stages of grief--I was feeling everything at once and in no particular order. But above all there was the guilt. I wanted all of it to just go away. None of it was fair. I didn't want to wait around in the hospital seeing my father waste away day after day (I'm going to remember him this way), I didn't want to have to say good-bye (why am I saying good-bye?), I didn't want to deal with the aftermath of people sympathizing (you have nothing to be sorry for), I didn't want to bury him (so final). And every time I thought these things, I would feel guilty immediately afterwards. After all, it wasn't my father's fault or the hospital's fault that this was happening. There was nothing anyone could do. This wasn't planned and it wasn't a consequence of some mistake. I had no one to be angry towards (and that angered me in itself). I had no one to blame but chance. To describe it as hopelessness is not doing it justice and there is no quick cure for hopelessness.
Letting go is the ultimate act of courage. There is nothing like it, and you will not understand how difficult it is until you have to do it yourself. Reading about it, seeing someone else go through it, is not enough. Life can sometimes throw something at you so scary, so incomprehensible, that you do not know how to deal. There is no way to prepare. Your very first instinct is to hold on hard, no matter what, because doing the opposite does not make sense. Conor has trouble with letting go, because above all there's that fear of the unknown. What will happen when the worst thing we can imagine does happen? Will I be strong enough to deal with it? Will it kill me? How will I cope? The fourth tale deals with this. It's a reassurance for Conor. He's going to be okay, and while the future looks a little bleak, he's strong enough to pull through.
I've let go of my father. I know I will survive the unknown. I know my truth. That's not to say days aren't hard, because they are. Sometimes my heart feels so heavy and there's a void so large that I wonder if anything will ever fill it again. I have days when I question fate, when I wonder how things might have been. But I feel a sense of peace. Wherever my father is now, he isn't in pain. He can be his true self. He's home. And while he's not here I have memories to take with me no matter where I go. When you are ready to say that final good-bye, to your anger, to your guilt, to your pain, but most of all, your fear, only then will you know the peace that comes with letting go. Conor has found this peace, and so have I. This is the cure for hopelessness and the one thing that can propel us forward. I am ready for the unknown....more
Mary Katherine Blackwood is one of my favorite characters ever written. I believe she made We Have Always Lived in the Castle what it was because herMary Katherine Blackwood is one of my favorite characters ever written. I believe she made We Have Always Lived in the Castle what it was because her voice is so special. I can't imagine anyone else narrating this story, I don't believe it would have worked at all.
From the first page you can tell that something is off about Mary Katherine (also referred to as Merricat in the novel). She sees the world... differently. There's an innocence about her but also a kind of violence underneath the surface. She connects with objects and believes her rituals protect her family. She's also very paranoid and close to her sister Constance.
Right away we're told that six years ago her entire family, with the exception of her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian, mysteriously died one afternoon of poisoning. There was a trial, Constance was acquitted, and since then the town where they live has completely shut them out and labeled them all as crazy murderers. Through fragments in the dialogue we get a vague idea of the circumstances that occurred before and after the murders, but the truth of what really happened is not revealed until much later in the story.
In the first half of the book Mary Katherine gives us a glimpse into their lives as a family. It's not long before she shares that she senses a change is coming, something that chills her, and she knows it will change their lives forever.
I wouldn't call this a mystery novel. Maybe horror. There's a plot and a climax but no real resolution. I don't think that would have worked for this novel. It's basically a story of what used to be, what changed everything, and what comes next. Throw in Mary Katherine's special case of crazy and you have a dark tale from a unique point of view that makes everything shine.
Shirley Jackson did an amazing job with Mary Katherine's voice, and her paranoid perspective was persistent throughout. While you wonder about her eccentricities and don't really understand her neurosis you can't help but feel drawn to her and the way she sees her world. Original, gripping, and dark, this is easily one of my favorite books as of late for sure....more