Evie "I want to see my name in lights" O'Neill gets shipped off to live with her uncle in Manhattan after her flapper antics cause trouble for her wel...moreEvie "I want to see my name in lights" O'Neill gets shipped off to live with her uncle in Manhattan after her flapper antics cause trouble for her well-to-do parents. In New York, a ritualistic serial killer whose crimes smack with the supernatural is on the loose and the police ask Evie's Uncle Will, owner of a Museum of the Occult, to consult on the case. Unknown to her family, Evie posses a supernatural power of her own, the ability to get psychic readings objects, and she is convinced that if she uses it, she could play an essential role in the capture of the murderer. But this murderer proves to be darker and more elusive than Evie, Will, & Co. ever expected.
This book shares some similarities with Libba Bray's previous supernatural trilogy. Both follow the exploits of a young girl in a supernatural version of history. Unlike Gemma's story, The Diviners is written in third person, and instead of focusing primarily on one character, skips between a multitude of them. The book improves when we've had time to get to know the characters a little more. The idea of the American Dream seems to pervade the novel. Most of the characters are motivated by a desire to make something of themselves, to be famous, glamorous, celebrated. To achieve an ideal.
While the book did entertain me, I still felt that something was missing. Instead of the distant, sweeping descriptions of the era, which are scattered throughout the novel (one follows wind, blowing through the city and observing its inhabitants), I would have preferred more time spent on individual characters and more specific, more sensory descriptions of the time period filtered through the points of view of the characters. There was a little too much name dropping to convince me of the setting's authenticity and a little too much stereotype to allow me to connect fully with the characters. The only one I really empathize with is Mabel--I would have like to see more of her. I hope she plays a bigger role in the rest of the trilogy. I'm surprised at the way Libba Bray handles historical setting here, because Gemma Doyle's world seems so effortlessly authentic.
The story itself is creepy and mysterious, a good fall read. The plot was resolved at the end (Hooray!), but I'm still left with questions about the characters and their lives. I look forward to the unfolding of these mysteries in the next installment of the trilogy and hope that the world will be a little more textured.(less)
Joan Aiken's boundless inventiveness and wonderful storytelling always leave my brain buzzing and whirring with delight. Her creativity is inspiring--...moreJoan Aiken's boundless inventiveness and wonderful storytelling always leave my brain buzzing and whirring with delight. Her creativity is inspiring--I only wish my imagination was as fertile. Aiken writes beautifully. Her prose is flowing, intelligent, and descriptive--as always, a pleasure to read.
These stories tell of a mermaid brought back from the sea in a glass bottle, a stolen horse, a man haunted by octopi only he can see, a vicar who is reincarnated as a cat, and a village that only exists for three days out of the year, among other equally intriguing subjects. I felt that some of the stories seemed like only sketches and some ended too soon, but maybe that's just me wanting more.
Finishing this has reminded me that The Serial Garden is waiting patiently on my shelf, and I look forward to reading it.(less)
Vera Dietz has lost her best friend Charlie twice: first when he betrayed her, and again when he died under mysterious and unsavory circumstances. Ver...moreVera Dietz has lost her best friend Charlie twice: first when he betrayed her, and again when he died under mysterious and unsavory circumstances. Vera knows something that might clear Charlie’s name, but isn’t sure she’s ready to share. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is about the courage it takes to break through the safe facade of normalcy—in whose shadows the twisting, choking roots of lies and hidden evils flourish.
King’s writing is strong and illuminating, her world and characters solid. Vera, the primary narrator, is sarcastic, intelligent, independent, and a little weird. I like her. It is easy to sympathize with her bitter regret of Charlie’s death—easy to feel the pain of Vera’s loss because halfway through the book I missed Charlie too. King’s alternating perspectives create nuance and depth. We get to hear from Vera’s dad and accounts from the deceased Charlie and the Pagoda (a town landmark) lend a dark quirkiness to the novel. Its most striking success is the clarity with which I can see through the prose of the story, how the characters and their lives become more real than the printed words before my eyes.
Vera’s tale is dark, funny, mysterious, and heartbreaking. It is honest: there is a sad, ringing truth to the tangle of emotions Vera struggles with after Charlie’s death and this honesty plays a large role in my response to the novel. I look forward to reading King’s other work.(less)
Ghostgirl is a fun, ghoulish read that fans of Tim Burton and Henry Selick will probably enjoy. (I would love to see them do a film of this.) High-sch...moreGhostgirl is a fun, ghoulish read that fans of Tim Burton and Henry Selick will probably enjoy. (I would love to see them do a film of this.) High-schooler Charlotte Usher is essentially invisible: she has no friends and most of her classmates simply ignore her. She has spent all summer diligently making herself over into the type of person she is certain popular boy Damen Dylan will want and feels confident that all her dreams are about to come true. Sadly, just as she is setting her plan into motion, she chokes to death on a gummy bear. Now literally invisible, but still determined, Charlotte clings to her plan and desperately looks for a way to make it happen--viewing her death as merely a minor setback. Charlotte's quirkiness and determined optimism save Ghostgirl from spiraling into a woe-is-me-I'm-invisible-and-alone sob story. Instead, Hurley's novel reads like a delightfully and absurdly morbid teen quest for recognition.
I did have some issues with plot resolution, and not the kind that can be fixed by a sequel. (GETTING SPOILERY FOR A BIT) The two major obstacles of the story are Charlotte's pursuit of Damen and her ghosty pals' attempts to save their drafty Victorian Manor, first from buyers and then from condemnation. In order to "pass on" they must successfully complete a task assigned to them by a mysterious higher power, which we find out at the start of the novel is "protecting" the house by keeping it uninhabited. They have a bit of trouble doing this because Charlotte, distracted by her designs on Damen, is not being very helpful and often inadvertently messes things up for the other ghosts. By the end of the book, the Damen plot thread is sufficiently resolved, but the Passing On business gets kind of glossed over.
At the climax of the story, when Charlotte finally chooses responsibility over personal gain, there is a sort of Magical Hooray Moment when we find out that Charlotte's decision means all the ghosts can pass on. I don't buy it. It's a bit too deus ex machina for me. I don't understand why all of the ghosts' fates were resting on Charlotte's epiphany of selflessness and not the resolution of their own issues. As a result of this, the conclusion felt bungled and vague. I wish it was set up more thoughtfully and also that Hurley elaborated more on all of the ghosts' deaths. It might have been more effective for the ghosts to help each other solve/avenge each other's deaths in order to pass over, especially since Hurley has already told us that each ghost came to a strange and unexpected end. Instead, they have to save an old house for no good reason except that someone told them to. (END SPOILING)
Ghostgirl made me chuckle at times and mutter "ugh gross" under my breath at others. I appreciated the Young Frankenstein and Edward Gorey references. The physical book is gorgeously designed, with it's Gothic lettering, black and pink Victorian patterned endpapers, and the pink roses adorning each page. I will read the sequel if someone finds it and puts it in front of me.(less)
I would first like to say that Will Herondale is a giant douchebag and I can't stand him. Unless he's been possessed by the demon of douchebagery, the...moreI would first like to say that Will Herondale is a giant douchebag and I can't stand him. Unless he's been possessed by the demon of douchebagery, there is no excuse for his selfish, obnoxious behavior. I don't care if his rudeness is a front cultivated to mask his mysterious inner turmoil or if he is sometimes nice. If he stood in front of me, I would gladly slap him across the face.
Now that I've got that off my chest...
I actually enjoyed Clockwork Angel very much. This is the first novel in what will be a trilogy set in the same world as The Mortal Instruments, but several centuries earlier. I love Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series and looked forward to getting a peek at some Shadowhunter history. I also love period pieces, expecially when they're set in London, so when I found out about this book I thought: Mortal Instruments plus Victorian England? A sure formula for an excellent story. The Fantasy genre of Clare's books lends an interesting dynamic to writing a historical prequel, namely the possibility that some characters present in The Mortal Instruments (vampires, warlocks, etc.) may have easily been alive in 19th Century England. Every time I came across the name of someone I knew from Mortal Instruments, I was very excited.
Expect the same adventure and mystery found in The Mortal Instruments with complexities added by the 19th Century setting: the subjugated role of women, a strict etiquette, and the master/servant relationship, among others. The novel is dark and creepy, with a hint of steampunk. The characters feel real (Jem is my favorite), the plot is intriguing and moves forward steadily with unforeseen twists, and the conclusion left me eager for the sequel.
Readers who like this book might also enjoy Clockwork by Philip Pullman or the Sally Lockhart series by the same. Or, if you are already fans of these, pick up Clockwork Angel.
I give this novel four stars only because I can't give The Mortal Instruments six. I believe the next installment of the trilogy, Clockwork Prince, will be released this December. I can't wait.
For those of you who don’t know, The Graveyard Book is about a living boy who is raised by ghosts in a graveyard. While I appreciated the creativity o...moreFor those of you who don’t know, The Graveyard Book is about a living boy who is raised by ghosts in a graveyard. While I appreciated the creativity of the concept, I found the plot itself to be boring. I had to push myself to finish it. I think this was because Gaiman spent a lot of time describing protagonist Nobody Owens’s morbidly unconventional childhood instead of carving out the twists and turns of a more complex plot. The Graveyard book paints an eerie picture that is intriguing to look at for a little while but it just didn’t hook me. My favorite of Gaiman's works is still resoundingly Coraline.(less)
Oh God, I could not read this. I think I got to Chapter Five or Six and my brain started yelling WHERE IS THE STORY? Maybe some people will say that I...moreOh God, I could not read this. I think I got to Chapter Five or Six and my brain started yelling WHERE IS THE STORY? Maybe some people will say that I didn't give it a fair chance, but I read enough to get a feel for the writing, to decide it was not good writing, and to realize that I didn't care a smidge for the main character (or any other characters for that matter). Amelia is too wishy washy. She goes on about how she doesn't remember her last name or when she lived but she kind of hangs out in her cemetery and she doesn't even care enough about herself to TURN AROUND and READ THE TOMBSTONE. If she doesn't care, why should I?
I have more reasons not to like this novel and I wrote them down in a notebook that is somewhere else right now so I'll add them in later.
**EDIT Things I've remembered that don't quite work:
1. Amelia sees a boy drowning. She desperately wants to save him from sharing her terrible fate but can do nothing to help because she is a ghost. Yup, yup, still with you. She can hear his heart slowing. She wills him to wake up, to swim to the surface. His heart stops. ...And then starts again? You lost me. I'm no medical expert, but I'm pretty sure that if someone is drowning and their heart stops, it's not going to randomly start again. Maybe it's possible in some one in a million type scenario, but we've only just got this story going and already I'm in doubt. My suspended disbelief is sputtering and losing altitude.
2.After his magic revival, the boy swims to shore where a crowd of people who know him and are shouting his name have miraculously appeared. We are shown the gaping hole in the guardrails on the bridge or overpass where his car ripped through and plummeted into the river below. So if he was in the car by himself, where did all those people come from? According to the internet, it only takes about two or three minutes to drown. So how did all those people AND an ambulance get down to the river in two or three minutes? Were they driving in a caravan formation? Is there a convenient stairway down to the river? There may be some reason for all of this, but it is unusual and so must be explained.
3. When Call-Me-Joshua comes back to find Amelia, their interaction is stiff and boring. He says "O-kay" a bunch of times and Amelia looks at her dress. Despite the car crash and the rescue (which were both played down), there seems to be very little action in this story. There's next to no tension, and thus little to propel the story forward. The first twenty pages consist mostly of introspection, which might have been interesting if it led us somewhere. Also, who requests to be called by their full name when all of their friends/family/whoever clearly call them by a nickname?
I really wanted to enjoy Hereafter because I'm a huge fan of ghost stories, but it was extremely disappointing. If you were planning to read this, I recommend putting it down and going to read A Certain Slant of Light instead--it's a better version of the same type of story. If you really want to be spooked, More Than You Know is amazing. It's one of my favorites.
**If anyone can convince me that it will get better and that things happen and actually move forward, then I may consider giving it a second chance. Maybe.(less)