“My lady,” he said gallantly, “I’m willing to stop whenever you are. Perhaps you’d be better off sticking to more womanly pursuits, like embroidery o
“My lady,” he said gallantly, “I’m willing to stop whenever you are. Perhaps you’d be better off sticking to more womanly pursuits, like embroidery or music or-“ She bashed him in the ribs.
4 1/2 stars. This was so much fun. So much fun. Turns out that a good laugh at my country's expense is exactly what I needed right about now.
Before you pick up this book, make sure of two things:
1) You know what you're about to read. This is a silly, lighthearted historical comedy, full of Monty Python-style jokes, puns and mockery. I also thought the story was very well-executed, but don't be expecting a high-angst drama (beyond the comical variety).
2) Be in the mood for it. Like I said, it's a very specific type of book and it won't suit everyone. I usually prefer tension, action and "oh shit, what's going to happen next" books. But I sat down to read this wanting something funny, entertaining and undemanding. That's what I got.
If you meet those two requirements, there's really nothing to dislike. This book does exactly what it promises and it does it very well. It's the kind of laughsnort embarrassingly out loud story that will get you some strange looks from other people. I just couldn't stop giggling to myself.
“I asked him to change back to talk to me, but he won’t,” Jane said. “It’s disrespectful to remain a horse in the bedchamber, I should think.”
This is a Tudor retelling set during the reign of the young Edward VI. In this reimagining, instead of the infamous divide between Protestants and Catholics (fostered by Henry VIII's disregard for the Catholic church), we see a war between Verities and Eðians. The latter have the power to shapeshift into various animals, and the former hate them for it.
Mocking sexist attitudes and the ridiculous social graces of the 16th Century upper classes, the story unveils the "true story" about Lady Jane Grey - the one that history has hidden from us.
She was a woman who wore pants. She couldn’t be trusted.
I've already said that it's very funny, but for such a light, silly book, it is remarkably well-plotted. The story itself, behind the quips and hilarity, is compelling and features all kinds of royal backstabbing, secrets and craziness.
It is a warm, lovable, over-the-top rewriting of history and I enjoyed every minute of it. Unlike most funny books, the humour remains constant throughout, never running dry or feeling forced. I only hope this trio of authors continue to write comedy together. Because it dazzles.
I love it when historical fiction manages to be both informative about a time and place I knew nothing about, and emotionally crushing. Oh, okay, thatI love it when historical fiction manages to be both informative about a time and place I knew nothing about, and emotionally crushing. Oh, okay, that may be a bit dramatic - it's not that much of a depressing book. But still, Rachel's story made me cry :(...more
This book has a fascinating premise. Part historical fiction, part paranormal dystopia, it imagines a Victorian world where sin is visible inDNF - 50%
This book has a fascinating premise. Part historical fiction, part paranormal dystopia, it imagines a Victorian world where sin is visible in the form of an ugly smoke that leaks directly from a person's body. Imagine it: your anger, lust and shame displayed for the world to see.
The beginning opens in a rich, upper-class boys' boarding school near Oxford. And, at first, it is compelling. Thomas and Charlie are the protagonists; each likable and sympathetic enough to capture our interest. The narration is mostly third person, but slips into many first person accounts, and the writing style is dense and descriptive, but this suits the setting and atmosphere of the novel.
There's a darkness and fear to this world that keeps the pages turning for the first few chapters. Crazy religious zealots and "innocent" teenage boys are a combination that draws us in.
Unfortunately, though, somewhere towards the end of the first 25%, this book becomes unspeakably dull. It loses its compelling rhythm surrounding the way the smoke is used to punish the boys and the hint at mysteries and lies behind it. Instead, we get pages and pages of description about country life, fancy manors, and characters far less interesting than Thomas and Charlie.
The denseness of the narrative works when paired with a plot that intrigues, but it felt like wading through thick mud when the plot slowed down and nothing was happening. The more time we spent in this slow section (which I'm sure eventually gives way to interesting things again), the less I cared about the story and the fate of the characters.
Anyway, now I've finished bitching, I'm going to talk about how great this story is. It's a short, powerful, emotive read about the twelve hours before a Danish boy is due to be executed. He sits in his jail cell with a fly as his only companion, reminiscing about his life with his father (poor and often homeless), but The Last Execution is not just a book about the boy in question.
As we soon find out, there are many people involved in Niel's execution - from the carpenter who will make his coffin, to the baker who will serve bread to those coming to watch, to the poet who will record the events. It's a chilling tale about the whole town, and the vast array of emotions experienced - everything from sadness and pity to excitement and enthusiasm.
The boy's guilt of the crime is never really in question, but it is given context, which makes it hard not to side with Niels regardless. The book acts as a criticism of society and its failures to the lower, poorer classes, and also shows the way people are quick to rally around and enjoy another's misfortune. As Kirkus said: "the carefully paced reveals of the specific circumstances leading up to the fatal incident ultimately suggest Niels’ greatest crime might simply have been poverty."
By opening each chapter in the dark simplicity of Niel's cell and reminding the reader how long is remaining until the execution, the atmosphere is one of impending doom and the suspense is perfect. I really enjoyed the format of the storytelling, the gradual reveals, and the wide scope of such a small novel, incorporating the perspectives of many characters.
It was dark, she was alone, but her blood was beating; she was alive. She would study it, this place, this asylum. She would hide inside herself. She
It was dark, she was alone, but her blood was beating; she was alive. She would study it, this place, this asylum. She would hide inside herself. She would seem to be good. And then she would escape.
This was awesome. I have no idea how I found this book or ended up reading it - I haven't read the author's work before and I have literally heard nothing about this book or read any reviews, professional or otherwise. I guess it was something about the setting that did it. An asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire moors in 1911 was just too good to pass up.
I suppose I should warn you non-romantics that there is a love story going on, but I never for one second felt like it took over the novel. For me, this was a dark, scary tale of events horrifyingly close to historical truth. Torn between horror and fascination as I learned how easy it was to be sent to an asylum (and the chilling laws proposed regarding "lunatics"), I could not turn the pages fast enough.
John lifted his shovel to the hard winter earth. And he thought of where he was. And how long he had been there. And what was simple broke apart and became a shattered, sharded thing.
The story follows three third-person perspectives, each as interesting as the last. John is an Irishman with a past cloaked in mystery; only time will tell why he was locked up in the asylum. Ella was dragged away from the workhouse after displaying "hysteria" and stands as an example of how easy it was to be labelled insane in 1911, especially as a working class woman. And then there's Charles - a doctor and eugenics enthusiast, and the most surprising character in this book.
The author writes some gorgeous descriptions of the setting - from the isolated, eerie Yorkshire moors to the streets of London, to the asylum itself. And at the centre of this dark, miserable asylum, there is an old ballroom where the inmates are awarded for good behaviour once every week, and allowed to come together and dance.
A strange sound started up, a low drumming. At first, she couldn’t light on what it was, until it grew faster, and louder, and she understood: it was the men, beating with their boots on the floor. Something stirred in the pit of her stomach. It was wild in here. Dangerous. Anything might occur.
There is so much to praise about this book. The truth about the eugenics movement is unsettling, even more so because it really wasn't that long ago in human history.
In fact, it was only really the Nazi crimes that served as a wake-up call and halted the eugenics movements in the United States and Europe. Prior to this, many prominent politicians (including such as Winston Churchill) called for compulsory labour camps for the "mentally defective" and/or forced sterilization. It was a widely-accepted notion that a better race of humans could be bred by following Darwinian theory. God, people are stupid.
All of this makes Charles an incredibly important and interesting character who grows in complexity, offering a very different kind of experience to that had by John and Ella in this book.
There are also some fantastic secondary characters, particularly Clem. She offers some much-needed female friendship to Ella and the two cling to each other inside the asylum, being a way to keep the other sane.
Just a really great and interesting book, featuring love, friendship, history, sanity, insanity and the many insane notions of the supposedly sane majority. I enjoyed it a lot.
She stared at the book in her hands. ‘When I go to university,’ she said, ‘if I write an essay about it, then I’ll talk about the ending. How I want it to be different. But how it’s still the right ending after all.’
“The ease. Us, the children… I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.”
Butler is an author that constantly pops up on "
“The ease. Us, the children… I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.”
Butler is an author that constantly pops up on "Best sci-fi" and "Must-Read African American authors" lists and I can finally see why. This book may be my first by her, but it won't be my last. Kindred is a fascinating, horrific journey through a dark time in American history, combining eye-opening historical research with time travel.
I suppose some modern readers will want to compare this story to Outlander and there are some similarities - a woman trying to survive in the past, lots of blood-soaked history and horror, the harsh realities of being who you are in that time - but not only did this book come first, but it is far more distressing, more tied in with historical truth, and way more about surviving than it is about lusty scenes with a kilted hot dude.
It's a really important "what if" book about race. What if a modern black woman suddenly found herself transported 150+ years into the past, right into the centre of the antebellum South? The book doesn't shy away from portraying the realities of that (nothing is sugar-coated, be prepared for some upsetting scenes).
But it's also more than a gruesome look at historical racism and violence. There are many complex and interesting characters - both slaves and slave owners. Butler has written a book that goes deeper than surface level, exploring how people come to accept slavery as the norm and to justify poor treatment of slaves. Dana is horrified how easy it is. And so was I.
Kindred is so good because, not only is it well-written and emotionally effective, but it also manages to be several different important things: complex historical-fiction, intriguing science-fiction, and a memoir of slavery. For a novel so obviously fictional, it feels very real and true. Maybe because, sadly, most of it is.
I know this is one book that will stay with me for a long time.
Nothing much to say about this one; it just isn't holding my attention. The protagonist is already slipping from my mind and I seem unable to get caugNothing much to say about this one; it just isn't holding my attention. The protagonist is already slipping from my mind and I seem unable to get caught up in the Victorian dances and dresses. Maybe because I recently read the more compelling The Dark Days Club and These Shallow Graves. Or maybe I just need to try again at a different time....more
I very rarely put aside books after reading just a prologue and one chapter, but I cannot make myself suffer through any more of this. My stomach wDNF
I very rarely put aside books after reading just a prologue and one chapter, but I cannot make myself suffer through any more of this. My stomach was coiling with dread each time I even thought about pushing through another 300+ pages of this overwritten prose.
I ate in the blunt way I had as a child—a glut of spaghetti, mossed with cheese. The nothing jump of soda in my throat.
I tended to the in-between spaces of other people’s existences, working as a live-in aide. Cultivating a genteel invisibility in sexless clothes, my face blurred with the pleasant, ambiguous expression of a lawn ornament.
I'm sure a certain type of reader will love this, but that reader is not me. Out of curiosity, though, what's with the Manson-related stories? I just finished My Favourite Manson Girl, and now we have this book, which is based on the Manson cult and tells how Evie Boyd gets drawn into it. Did I miss something?
Critics are saying this is a realistic addition to the Bronte tale because of Case's style - slow, detailed, old-fashioned - and IJust... quite dull.
Critics are saying this is a realistic addition to the Bronte tale because of Case's style - slow, detailed, old-fashioned - and I quite agree. And yet, I don't think it actually adds much at all. The author has broadened the story to contain even more details, especially about Hindley and Nelly, but it feels unneeded and unexciting. It doesn't go to all the new places I'd hoped for....more
There would be no dressing up as a maid. No cyanide slipped into his crystal glass of mineral water. The Fuhrer’s death was to be a loud, screaming t
There would be no dressing up as a maid. No cyanide slipped into his crystal glass of mineral water. The Fuhrer’s death was to be a loud, screaming thing. A broadcast of blood over the Reichssender.
This book is an action-packed adventure, but it cannot be denied that a lot of its strength comes from one of the most fascinating premises I've ever read. Two, really. Though this may have been done by other authors, it was the first time I'd read anything like it. Wolf By Wolf imagines a reality based on two horrific "what ifs". And it is damn compelling.
Almost everyone knows about the atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II, and most people will know of some book or movie that explores the possibility of a world where Hitler won the war. What fewer people know is that medical experiments were conducted on concentration camp prisoners - painful, genetic alterations, attempts to cure homosexuality, injections of dyes to create blue eyes, etc.
Graudin takes the "what if" of Hitler winning the war and pairs it with the "what if" of an experiment that resulted in something else. What if the Nazi's attempt to play with genetics created a new type of creature - a "human" with the ability to shift their physical appearance, to take on the face of someone else? Meet Yael.
This book offers an introspective exploration of identity and the ultimate result of the Nazi crimes - a loss of identity, a loss of a sense of self. Yael can be anyone, have any face, and by doing so, she never really has an identity of her own. This inner struggle is paired with a fast-paced, heart-pounding plot.
Yael is part of a resistance with the ultimate goal - to kill Hitler. However, the Fuhrer rarely appears in public these days, so Yael must go to extremes to get close to him: join and win the Axis Tour (disguised as Adele Wolfe) and then put a bullet through Hitler's heart at the Victor's Ball in Tokyo.
But Yael makes the mistake of thinking her biggest challenge is becoming an expert biker. She gets way more than she bargained for when faced with the intricate web of jealousies, love and backstabbing from the other riders. The author reminds us that humans are complex and layered, and Yael is unable to view the other riders as empty followers of Nazi ideology because, of course, underneath everyone is so much more.
I will issue one warning - not criticism, exactly, because I quite enjoyed it - Graudin's prose gets a little purple at times. I found it more polished and less jarring than in her previous book (The Walled City) but I know flowery metaphors are a deal-breaker for some readers. Otherwise, I thought it was excellent.
Even knowing that the ending couldn't possibly be as neat as planned, I did not see it coming. It opens up possibilities for an exciting sequel, while still drawing a line under this chapter of the story. I cannot wait to read more about this world and its characters - their trials, troubles, struggles and hope.
He hadn’t stood a chance really, but that was the power of hope, the utter cruelty of it.