Beautiful words, beautiful stories, beautiful characters... you know, this is just one damn beautiful book. I am in awe of it. Can you fall in love w...more
Beautiful words, beautiful stories, beautiful characters... you know, this is just one damn beautiful book. I am in awe of it. Can you fall in love with a book? If so, I'm guilty. I don't mean to sound condescending to young adult readers (I am one) but this book simply does not deserve the readership that thought Twilight was the best book ever written.
Everything about the marketing and presentation of this book does not convey how truly wonderful it is. Firstly, though the cover illustration is a stunning work of art, I think it tends to immediately appeal to younger readers and rule out an older audience. It's pretty... but it looks like a children's book. Same with the title... it's cute, very cute and it's quite a subtle representation of what the book is about... but again, it sounds like a cutesy Twilight-style romance. Another thing it has in common with the saga is the genre it is categorised in: paranormal romance.
But to say that Twilight and Lips Touch: Three Times are both paranormal romances is like saying tin and platinum are both metals. It's in an entirely different league. And I almost didn't read this because I saw reviews saying the first story was just like Twilight. No, no, no. The very main difference between the two is that Laini Taylor remembers the basic principle of quality writing.
Let's look at Bella Swan for a second... after four books what do we know about her?
1) She's that girl who's in love with a vampire 2) She's that girl who's in love with Edward Cullen 3) She's that girl... um, that's about it.
In one paragraph of that first story called 'Goblin Fruit', that according to some is "just like Twilight", this is Kizzy:
"Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy's blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn't possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer's small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads. Kizzy wanted."
YES. In just one paragraph, Laini Taylor has created a far more complex character than Stephenie Meyer ever managed. And let me just say, this book is hard to quote from because the entire thing is a quotable masterpiece, you can find something beautiful in every single paragraph on every single page. I actually took longer than it would normally take me to finish a 250 page young adult novel, and not because it was hard work, but because I would read a few sentences, think "wow", and go back and read it again. And again. My only fault with it is that I finished the last story and wanted to cry because there wasn't any more.
Who is this Laini Taylor who seems to have appeared out of nowhere all of a sudden with her extraordinary writing and her pink hair? I don't know but I do know I'll be getting my hands on her future work if I have to sell my soul in exchange (yeah, that was a bit melodramatic but I haven't come out of fairyland yet). Read this, spread the word. 'tis fantastic! (less)
This book is very misleading. Rather than being a collection of stories celebrating women who are both strong and feminine, it is simply various shor...more
This book is very misleading. Rather than being a collection of stories celebrating women who are both strong and feminine, it is simply various short sequels, prequels and spin-off stories from popular urban fantasy series. Some of them are mildly entertaining, but most are not. Or at least, they're not to those who, like me, are unfamiliar with the series they come from.
Most of the stories cannot be appreciated if you aren't already a hardcore fan and in love with the characters. Seeing as I am neither for five out of the six stories I read, I was bored, unengaged and got no real sense of what this book was supposedly about: chicks kicking ass and taking names. For example, the first story by Rachel Caine, which featured Djinn from her Weather Warden series, seemed to centre around a super hot female Djinn who our protagonist was jealous of because her (also Djinn) boyfriend was paying her a bit of attention. Surely being jealous of other women isn't a great message for female empowerment? Just saying...
The best story by far was, for me, "Hunt" by Rachel Vincent. It was almost certainly because her Shifters series was a favourite of mine prior to book 3 (where everything went downhill) and I was delighted to see the formerly meek and mild character of Abby take her turn in the limelight and save the day. In the Shifters series Abby plays only a small part as a secondary character who ends up being the victim of rape in book 1. In "Hunt" she finds herself stumbling onto the scene of an attempted rape and she is determined not to let the women suffer what she went through. I felt like cheering her on all the way through and was so pleased that she didn't submit to the pack's orders and wait for the men to turn up the way Faythe so frequently did.
If Rachel Vincent fancies writing a spin-off series centred around Abby, I would be all too happy to give her another chance to make up for the latter half of Shifters. (less)
4.5 I apologise for my lack of originality, but I need to steal karen's perfect summarisation of this book: "this book is life - it is tender and gentl...more4.5 I apologise for my lack of originality, but I need to steal karen's perfect summarisation of this book: "this book is life - it is tender and gentle and melancholy and real. not everything works out according to plan here, but what ever does?"
There is no better way to put it than that. Winesburg, Ohio is a collection of short stories about the inhabitants of the small town of Winesburg, it is a very real story about the lives of "normal" people. Those people who work hard every day of their lives and never get rewarded for their dedication. Those who pray each day for the one thing they've always wanted... only to remain disappointed. Those who are sad and broken from having never been loved as a child, those who were never good enough for the people in their lives. This little book captures so many emotions in just over 250 pages: pain, happiness, fear, want, greed, sadness, frustration...
This book is filled with beautiful, quotable writing and the last line is one of the best finishing lines I've ever read. It just adds that cherry on top of this sundae and left me feeling a whirlwind of emotions. As does the whole book. Sherwood uses the short story method to explore different styles of story-telling when dealing with different characters in this small town. For example, the second story in the book is called Hands and tells the tale of Wing Biddlebaum through his hands that have inspired emotions from wonder to hatred in the hearts of the people he has known in his life. "The story of Wing Biddlebaum is a story of hands. Their restless activity, like unto the beating of the wings of an imprisoned bird, had given him his name."
Another example of Sherwood's experimentation with styles that I really liked was in Godliness: A Tale in Four Parts. In this, the author tells the story of a family from the point of view of different family members and your opinion of the characters change with each one you read. At first, Louise is a selfish and argumentative woman who neglects her son and is prone to fits of anger or alternatively periods of withdrawal and silence. But then Sherwood switches perspective to allow for understanding: "Before such women as Louise can be understood and their lives made livable, much will have to be done. Thoughtful books will have to be written and thoughtful lives lived by people about them." Because Louise was not born with rage and frustration inside her, it was put there by life and others who failed her. Sherwood's portrait of a woman at this time and the limits put upon her because she is a woman and not a man is sad and somewhat ahead of its time.
I really wanted to give this five stars and I almost did, but I held back from doing so when I paused to look back over the book and realised the quality of some stories is far greater than others and it was the stronger stories that were tempting me to rate higher. But readers of short story collections often acknowledge that this is frequently the case and I don't want to put you off reading this. It's hard not to be touched by the realities these people faced and I think this would be the perfect opportunity to compare with The Casual Vacancy - another book about the lives of people in a small, quiet town and how they are not as calm and gentle as one may be tempted to believe.
I want to make this comparison because I tried to read Rowling's adult novel and found myself too bored to continue. So I inevitably started to believe that this was down to the subject matter and the subtle tone of the book and perhaps my not-so-secret super love of wizards and magic. I personally think Winesburg, Ohio is proof that it wasn't my lack of ability to appreciate a certain type of story and that it really was just pretty boring (sorry fans!). Because this is about small town relations too, it is about people who aren't celebrities or supernatural creatures or dating supernatural creatures... and it hooked me from start to finish.(less)
Recently, I've read a number of short stories with the intention of cutting down my huge reading pile and I've been largely disappointed. Particularly...moreRecently, I've read a number of short stories with the intention of cutting down my huge reading pile and I've been largely disappointed. Particularly by common favourites like Edgar Allan Poe and his many famous horror tales - I was surprised to find them rather lacking.
The Lottery, however, is one of the best short stories I've read. It's very rare that I would give five stars to a short story because I reserve the top rating for meaty, well-rounded, often complex and/or clever novels, so a four star rating means a lot in this case. Jackson's tale is undeniably creepy and tells a story that, though seemingly unknown to us, draws parallels with our world and the ridiculous way people are prone to behave at times. Her story is pure fiction, it is not about any world from the present or at any time in history... but it's meaning is something that applies still today.
It all comes down to one simple three-syllable word: tradition. Oh, what silly nonsense has been committed in the name of tradition. How often progress has been halted in favour of an outdated practice that remains simply because "that's the way it's always been". In Jackson's short story, every person in the town where this novel finds its setting is forced to draw a ticket in The Lottery. In the end, only one person can be the "winner", but this game has a sinister twist. Will you see it coming?
As the story builds up to its climax, we see the town citizens discussing the tradition of The Lottery. We are told that other towns nearby have started to ban the practice, that there has even been talk of banning it in this town. But everyone brushes this off with distaste - how can you ban something that has been going on for so long? How will people cope without this routine that they've come to rely on? I found this story fascinating. Both simple and clever and, ultimately, very effective.