Not only does the book sound intriguing, but the ratings on Goodreads are amazing - the average rating is 4.45 and 56% of readers gave it 5 Stars.
Appa...moreNot only does the book sound intriguing, but the ratings on Goodreads are amazing - the average rating is 4.45 and 56% of readers gave it 5 Stars.
Apparently I read a different book.
The basic plot of the first half of the book is: Horrible things happen! Awful things happen! She meets a man!! Terrible things happen! Dreadful things happen! The man kisses her!!! And it's all executed in a flat, shallow, and BORING style. A lot of action and no psychological depth.
In the second half of the book, things degenerate to the point that the book is like a bodice ripper written by a 16 year old - all heaving bosoms and thundering heartbeats. Sentences like, "Then he held out his hand towards me and said, 'Come here, my love, and tell me you love me true.'" (gag, gag, gag)
And this! this particular sentence made me simultaneously laugh out loud and throw the book across the room: "Jack kissed me until my lips were swollen and my throat was dry as cotton, and kissed the scar on my breast, whispering A little sugar to make the owey all better."
Howling laughter! How do you write the words "breast" and "owey" in the same sentence and not realize it's utterly absurd?
I know. Just look at the cover, right? Please allow me to explain.
I was reading a review for some book (I've forgotten which one), and one of the revi...moreI know. Just look at the cover, right? Please allow me to explain.
I was reading a review for some book (I've forgotten which one), and one of the reviewers said her favorite French authors were _______, ________, _________, and Sergeanne Golon. Who? I recognized all the names except that one.
I hunted, and discovered that Golon was the author of Angélique. The cover art made me want to run away, screaming, but the summary made it sound like very interesting historical fiction. I read some reviews on various sites, and was shocked.
Angélique led to the choice of college majors and career directions. She inspired vacations and relocations to France. One 80-year-old reviewer claimed it was the best book she'd ever read. And more than one person loudly announced, "Ignore the cover art!"
I was more than a little intrigued.
Angélique is the first in a series of books, though not all of them were translated into English. The Angélique books tell the life story of Angélique de Sance de Monteloup and are set in 1600s France.
The first book begins when Angélique is 12 years old, a tomboy and the daughter of a noble but impoverished landowner. It continues through her marriage to Comte de Peyrac de Morens, the birth of her two children, the death of her husband, and her struggle to survive as a single mother. (And there's lots of secrets and deceptions and witchcraft and torture and murder plots and...)
I really wonder what could have happened to this book if it had had a different marketing plan. Everything about how it is presented is just so wrong. The cover art of the slutty woman draped in purple velvet, the cover blurb describing Angélique as "the lusty barefoot gutter wench (who) becomes the dazzling mistress of rogues and royalty," the almost-like-a-bodice-ripper extract which is featured on the first page.
That is NOT Angélique!
Readers expecting a bodice ripper with a bit of history would be very disappointed. Yes, there are a few (like maybe 4) s*x scenes, but they are not at all graphic and not smutty in the least. This is an intricate multi-layered story and very well written. I think it even almost qualifies as a literary novel. The writing is well done, the characters are well developed, the storytelling is compelling, and the historical detail is superb.
Though I wouldn't go so far as some reviewers and claim that it is life-changing or the best book I've ever read, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this epic tale. (less)
WHY I READ THIS BOOK Fowler is best known as the author of "The Jane Austen Book Club." Based on that book, I had dismissed the author as a chick lit w...moreWHY I READ THIS BOOK Fowler is best known as the author of "The Jane Austen Book Club." Based on that book, I had dismissed the author as a chick lit writer and never so much as glanced at her other work.
Several months ago, there was an ongoing online discussion about why female authors were rarely nominated for a certain sci-fi book award. (Unfortunately, I didn't bookmark any of the articles, and now I can't find them.) As a result of that discussion, some well-known authors posted lists of what they considered underappreciated sci-fi books by female authors, and "Sarah Canary" was on one of those lists.
Fowler wrote sci-fi? Really? Yup. In fact, she began her writing career publishing sci-fi short stories. (Artificial Things, 1986) My understanding, though, is that she doesn't write hard sci-fi with spaceships and robots and such. Wikipedia defines her style as "eccentric tales of implausible history." I guess it's more like science fantasy.
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT "SARAH CANARY" Oh. my. goodness. Wow.
And to think I might have missed this book based on a false assumption about the author.
"Sarah Canary" completely captivated me. It is very well-written in every way, from grammatical styling to story structure. And it has so many different angles - a fantastical journey that is a metaphor or a fable; examination of cultural differences and feminism; legends and history.
As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it again. There is so much going on in this book that I could read it over and over to analyze it and dissect it.
I wish I could say something incredible to convince you to read this, but I really can't find the words except to say this: "Sarah Canary" is a treasure and I highly recommend it.(less)
Toby Warring is a magician. Not a "pull a rabbit from the hat" magician, but one who has the ability to reach into other dimensions and produce real magic. He and Mel Snow meet and marry quickly, and their life journey follows the consequences of Toby's magic. It is a story about losing things, and the price one is willing to pay to find what has been lost.
The storyline is utterly original. There are echoes of Alice Hoffman, but the story is completely the author's own. This is no formulaic plot, but one that kept me in a constant state of fascination.
The writing is gorgeous. I am in awe of the author's ability to use words. The author paints word pictures using every dazzling colour in the universe. Each sentence is a masterpiece of art. I feel that it is this use of words, even more so than the plot, that leads the reader from the first sentence to the last.
A theme of lostness runs through the story like a river, sometimes a gentle babbling brook and other times a raging creek that threatens to burst its banks. And in the end the river empties into the sea, a vast expanse that both hides and exposes the essential meaning of "lost."
"The Art of Disappearing" is Pochoda's first novel. She can't write a second one soon enough for me. (less)
WHY I READ THIS BOOK When I first heard about this book, which was just published last month, I got a bad case of "I want." The author's "The Lost Gard...moreWHY I READ THIS BOOK When I first heard about this book, which was just published last month, I got a bad case of "I want." The author's "The Lost Garden" is one of my favorite books, and "The Reinvention of Love" is about Victor Hugo, the author of another favorite book, "Les Misérables."
ABOUT THE BOOK "The Reinvention of Love" is set in France in the 1800s, and is based on real people and historical facts. Charles Sainte-Beuve is a book critic, and after reviewing the work of Victor Hugo, he is invited to the author's home. Charles and Victor become friends...and Charles begins an affair with Victor's wife, Adèle. The book explores the lives and complicated relationships of these three characters.
MY THOUGHTS "The Reinvention of Love" is much more a character study than a plot-driven novel.
It is told almost exclusively from the viewpoint of Charles, who is not a very likable character. He's arrogant, pompous, selfish, vain, and critical. He's also irrationally jealous of Victor, who has all that Charles wants - a successful writing career and a beautiful wife.
A few chapters are told in Adèle's voice. She seems like such a lonely sad woman who is a victim of the time period, when women could do little more than live in the shadow of a man. Victor is a background character, and is portrayed as having many of the same character defects as Charles - arrogant and selfish. Is this accurate, or is Charles projecting his own faults?
Jealously, identity, and sexuality are all themes in "The Reinvention of Love" and the author explores each of these in intriguing and thought-provoking ways. Motives and actions are not explained but are left open for interpretation.
The book is well-crafted, and the author employs various writing styles as fits the situation. Sometimes it is beautiful and philosophical; at others times, it is terse and spare.
"The Reinvention of Love" is a unique book that was a complete enjoyment to read. It is a book I would like to re-read to more fully explore the character development and the technique used by the author to present the story.
Just a few quick thoughts: "The Woman in Black" is a typical ghost story - a sad tale, a vengeful ghost, a creepy haunting. What impressed me most was...moreJust a few quick thoughts: "The Woman in Black" is a typical ghost story - a sad tale, a vengeful ghost, a creepy haunting. What impressed me most was the quality of writing. It could easily have been written in 1883 rather than 1983, so perfectly does Hill capture the gothic tone and style. Richly atmospheric and perfectly paced, "The Woman in Black" was a darkly enjoyable read. (less)
After thoroughly enjoying the WW2/Japanese theme in "East Wind, Rain" and "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," I was very much looking forward t...moreAfter thoroughly enjoying the WW2/Japanese theme in "East Wind, Rain" and "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," I was very much looking forward to this book. It was, unfortunately, quite disappointing.
The book really needs an editor...or an English teacher. Clunky sentences and awkward story construction made this a chore to read.
Also, I think the book summary is inaccurate, as more of the plot focus is on the residents of the town where the relocation camp was located. Wanting one thing and getting something else entirely makes it difficult to appreciate the book for what it is.
Finally, I thought the characters were one-dimensional. I never felt that I really knew them and wasn't able to emotional connect at at all.(less)
DNF (did not finish). The story never caught my attention, and there was too much about it that annoyed me - plot development, characters, writing sty...moreDNF (did not finish). The story never caught my attention, and there was too much about it that annoyed me - plot development, characters, writing style, etc.(less)
"The Promise of Zandra," the first book in the So Many Secrets series, tells the story of Piper and Nina, two young girls from New Jersey who travel t...more"The Promise of Zandra," the first book in the So Many Secrets series, tells the story of Piper and Nina, two young girls from New Jersey who travel to the mystical underground Kingdom of Galacia. The goblins and trolls are at war in Galacia and a princess has been abducted, and Piper and Nina have been recruited to rescue her.
Koehler's world building skill and technique is reminiscent of Tolkien. The Kingdom of Galacia is well-thought out and complex, with its own political system and language. For me, this made the book especially captivating, as I felt I was fully immersed in this magical world.
The writing style is very strong with well-constructed sentences and rich vocabulary. The plot of the book will certainly appeal to the age of the target audience (fifth to eighth graders) while the writing style will challenge them to read something a bit more complex than what is usually expected of them. The writing style also gives the book appeal for an adult audience as well.
Piper and Nina are well-developed characters with strong personalities and understandable motivations. Piper is brave and curious while Nina is more cautious, and the two personalities create an intriguing contrast. Readers can relate to one or the other, while also identifying with the struggles and questions that are typical for a 12 year old.
The book starts out a bit slow. Piper has been to Galacia before "The Promise of Zandra" begins, which necessitates quite a bit of backstory. And there are few transitional passages at the beginning that are awkward. However, when Piper and Nina arrive in Galacia and begin their quest to rescue the princess, the clunkiness that is evident at first vanishes, and the author proceeds with strong self-assurance. At this point, the book becomes one of those that you don't want to put down.
"The Promise of Zandra" has echoes of Tolkien, as well as of Narnia, but is wholly its own unique thing. It is a compelling book that I enjoyed immensely, and I eagerly anticipate the release of the next book in the series.
It's difficult to put a rating on this book. Compared to the typical self-published first novel, "The Promise of Zandra" easily deserves 5 Stars. It is vastly better than what I have come to expect from these types of books. When compared to books by masters like Tolkien and Lewis, it only earns 2 Stars, but that's true for almost any fantasy book. Held up against other books in the same genre, though, "The Promise of Zandra" is worthy of 3 Stars, so this is the rating I will go with. It's a strong, solid book that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. And I suspect that as the series progresses, the future books could merit 4 Stars.(less)
“Tam Lin” is an ancient Scottish ballad that tells the story of how Tam Lin is rescued from the Queen of the Fairies by his true love, Janet. The firs...more“Tam Lin” is an ancient Scottish ballad that tells the story of how Tam Lin is rescued from the Queen of the Fairies by his true love, Janet. The first recorded version of the song appears in the 1549 book "The Complaynt of Scotland.”
Tam Lin abides in the Forest of Carterhaugh, where he collects either a possession or the virginity of any maidens who pass through the wood. One of these girls, Janet, discovers she is pregnant after her encounter with Tam Lin, and returns to the Forest of Carterhaugh. Tam Lin explains to her that he is bound to the Queen of the Fairies, and he fears for his life, because every seven years a tithe to hell must be paid to appease the Queen. Only Janet can rescue Tam Lin from this fate.
In Pamela Dean’s modern retelling of the Scottish ballad, Janet is a student at Blackstock College in Minnesota. Much of the book chronicles her life as a university student and all the requisite complicated relationships with roommates, first loves, and professors.
There are hints that there is something strange going on at Blackstock - an eerie professor, a bizarre group of Classics majors, a ghost who tosses books from a window, and a midnight horse ride that takes place every Halloween. These elements are all almost background, though, and seem secondary to the plot of everyday college life.
This portion of the book is somewhat interesting, in a voyeuristic sort of way, as all the intricate details of the lives and relationships of Janet, her roommates, and their boyfriends are shared in all their day-by-day happenings. It does get a bit tedious, however, especially things like lengthy expositions of plays they attend, or their habit of speaking to each other using quotes from literature.
Only in the last 50 pages of the book do the parallels with the ballad begin to occur, and with these happenings, the previous mysteries are all explained. As in the ballad, Janet begins a relationship with Thomas Lane (same initials as Tam Lin) and becomes pregnant during an encounter in Charter Hall (sounds like Carterhaugh, the forest in the ballad). She then must rescue him from the Queen of the Fairies, who is the eerie professor. It all ties together in a nice neat conclusion, but the rapidity with which it occurs is rather jarring.
“Tam Lin” is well written (aside from the author’s obsessive use of the semi-colon). It was a compelling read that I got through quickly, even though the book is just over 400 pages. As a fairytale retelling, though, I found it rather disappointing. Overall, I would rate “Tam Lin” 3 Stars. If the fairytale elements had been introduced earlier in the story, and if there had been a bit more mysticism, I would have given it 4 Stars. (less)
Fourteen year old Fern Drawn and her family move to the sheep ranch they have inherited from her grandfather. Fern quits school to herd the sheep, and the Drawn family battles Mother Nature and the poverty of the Great Depression.
The Cleavers wrote several young adult books in the 70s and 80s, and were featured on several reading lists at the time. When searching for a book set in South Dakota for a 50 State Reading Challenge, I found this book by the Cleavers. I vaguely recalled reading their other works in my childhood, so I decided to use this book to fulfill the South Dakota requirement for the Challenge.
It isn't a bad book, per se. The worst thing is the dialogue - three year old George and the town doctor have the same voice. All in all, it's an okay but completely unremarkable book, and it's obvious why the Cleavers' books have not stood the test of time and have mostly faded into obscurity.(less)