This is one of my favorite books ever, in large part because Leif Enger's writing is so beautiful. I fell in love with the characters and something inThis is one of my favorite books ever, in large part because Leif Enger's writing is so beautiful. I fell in love with the characters and something in the story really spoke to me. I highly recommend it....more
I'm a huge Charles de Lint fan. This was really as good as his other work, but I like Jilly so much that this was a little disappointing. He really puI'm a huge Charles de Lint fan. This was really as good as his other work, but I like Jilly so much that this was a little disappointing. He really puts her through the fire in this one....more
This was a follow-up to A Princess of Roumania. I liked it about as well as that book. They're not my favorite fantasy, and they move a little bit sloThis was a follow-up to A Princess of Roumania. I liked it about as well as that book. They're not my favorite fantasy, and they move a little bit slowly for me, but they are definitely worth reading....more
I saw and loved the short film long before I read this book. I was a little anxious when my husband bought the book for me because I wasn't quite cleaI saw and loved the short film long before I read this book. I was a little anxious when my husband bought the book for me because I wasn't quite clear which came first, and would I really like the book as much as the film?
I needn't have worried.
The two are amazingly similar, both being charming and whimsical and just perfect for any reader. I highly recommend this story in any form....more
Twilight is a young adult novel about a 17-year-old girl, Bella, who moves from sunny Phoenix to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father and gTwilight is a young adult novel about a 17-year-old girl, Bella, who moves from sunny Phoenix to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father and give her mother and new stepfather time to be alone together. She falls in love with mysterious, gorgeous, intelligent Edward Cullen. But there is more to Edward than meets the eye, and Bella gets caught up with Edward in a dangerous game.
This was definitely aimed at a young adult audience, and there were moments when I kind of cringed at some of the dialog, or at Bella's thoughts, but then I would think, "Yeah, I acted and talked like that when I was seventeen." The story itself was so well-written that when my husband brought me some popcorn while I was reading, I thanked him for bringing me lasagna, because that's what Bella and Edward were eating at that time in the book. Every time I opened this I got sucked into Bella and Edward's world. The story was only fairly original, but mostly I liked the characters and the writing. I'll definitely be looking for the next one at the library.
**spoiler alert** I liked this one a little better than the first, Kushiel's Dart. The story of Phedre, a masochist trained as a spy, continues as she**spoiler alert** I liked this one a little better than the first, Kushiel's Dart. The story of Phedre, a masochist trained as a spy, continues as she once again tries to save the throne of her country.
There were still a few S&M scenes, but I don't think there were as many and I don't think they were quite as detailed as they were in the first book. Still, if you're squeamish about these kinds of things, you should probably stay away from this whole series.
I liked this one better for a couple of reasons. I think the big thing for me was that I didn't have to wade through all the background story of her childhood and her training. The action started pretty quickly. And also, Phedre didn't rely quite so much on the men in her life to do things for her. But........
I really wish that this whole thing with Melisande was over already. She's a "good" villain, but she's not such a strong character that I'm looking forward to reading one more book about yet another attempt on the throne she's going to make. Why can't they send assassins into her sanctuary and just kill her? Then the third book could be focused on finding Melisande's son and getting Hyacinthe off the island.
I'll definitely read the third book in the trilogy, but I am tired of Melisande....more
**spoiler alert** This is the third book in the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy. Phedre no Delauney, s&m courtesan/spy extraordinaire, and her consort Jo**spoiler alert** This is the third book in the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy. Phedre no Delauney, s&m courtesan/spy extraordinaire, and her consort Joscelin have enjoyed ten years of peace. That peace is shattered when they set out to find the traitor Melisande's son and rescue Phedre's childhood friend, Hyacinthe, from eternal life (notice I wrote life and not youth.)
For me, this was the darkest and therefore hardest to read of the three books. As usual the s&m scenes weren't (to me) all that graphically detailed. Well, they could have been a lot worse anyway. Most of it was really left up to readers' imaginations. But what she did write and the direction it sent my imagination in was just too much for this country girl. Luckily, all that stops after the first half of the book. So if you can hang in there that long, I believe you're free and clear to just get on with the story.
The story itself was well-written and engaging. I really felt like this book could have been two novels. There are definitely two distinct halves. I think I would almost have rather had the real second book cut out completely and have the first half of the third book as the second novel in the trilogy.
If you liked the other books, this one won't let you down.
The whole first half in Darsanga was just way too dark for me. I didn't feel like we were really getting anywhere with the story for a while. I know that the plot really was moving along, but it just felt repetitive with Phedre trying to make friends with the others, Phedre trying to make friends with Imri, Phedre going to dinner with the Mahrkagar and avoiding Joscelin's eyes, and then Phedre going to have violent sex with the Mahrkagar as he slowly breaks her. I was just ready for the plot to move on past that part.
And, as much as I like Joscelin, and I'm really glad that he's still with Phedre, I kind of wish that Phedre and Hyacinthe had hooked up one more time, maybe when he visited her in Montreve. It's kind of hinted at that it might happen in the future, but, c'mon, this woman just practically went to hell and back for this guy. They have to get together one more time!
**spoiler alert** New Moon is the sequel to Twilight, and, I must say, the sequel is nowhere near as good as the first. This continues the story of Be**spoiler alert** New Moon is the sequel to Twilight, and, I must say, the sequel is nowhere near as good as the first. This continues the story of Bella and Edward, but this time it appears to be Bella and her Quileute friend, Jacob, who are facing danger together. I don't really want to say more than that for fear of giving anything away.
I still ripped through this almost-600-page book in about a day. But the plot was a mess. You start off in one plot and all of a sudden you're ripped out of that one into something that you really couldn't see coming. Maybe for some readers, unpredictablity is a good thing, but, for me, when an author has spent 400 pages involving me in one plot, she needs to finish that one instead of jerking me off into something totally unrelated.
Bella really got on my nerves in this book. She's supposed to be so intelligent, but she's about as dense as they come this time around. I got really tired of reading about the hole in her chest. A little bit of a spoiler here---------------------- The description of her teenage heartache is pretty dead-on, maybe a little over-dramatic, but still right. But I don't need to read about how she's been living her life like a zombie for the past six or seven months. Tell me that and then get on with the story.
I'll still read the last one, but I really hope it's better than this one. This one was just a disappointing, irritating mess....more
Renata DeChavannes is reeling from personal loss. She runs home to her grandmother in Alabama, seeking answers to questions about her mother.
I don't hRenata DeChavannes is reeling from personal loss. She runs home to her grandmother in Alabama, seeking answers to questions about her mother.
I don't have a lot to say except that I can't help but feel like this has been done before. Younger generation, digging in the past, looking for parents' secrets. Sound familiar? I'm thinking of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and this book is nowhere near as good as that one.
I liked most of the present-day characters. Renata was pretty funny, but apparently pretty dense, but Honora, Gladys, and Isabella were tons of fun. Unfortunately, they weren't really the focus of the story. The focus is on Renata's mother Shelby and her broken relationship with Renata's father, Louie. Everyone talks about Shelby like the only reason she didn't walk on water was because she didn't want to, but once the past starts coming out, I couldn't stand her.
I really don't get what was up with Renata. She's about 30 years old, but you would think that she was five. She seems to know absolutely nothing about family history, even when she's directly involved. An explanation was given, but it was pretty weak. And everyone's supposed to be telling her these old family stories, but when they start talking, it's like Renata's not even there. Instead of, "You weren't a very pretty baby," it's "Renata wasn't a very pretty baby." What's up with that?
The chapters float around between several of the present-day characters. Some of them are titled, "Honora says..." and that made it pretty clear who was talking. But sometimes that was left off and I would think Renata was telling a story only to find out that it was her father. Confusing.
I'm making this sound bad, and it really wasn't. It was decent but forgettable. If it sounds like something you're interested in though, go ahead and dig in. It's not book to regret reading. It's just a book that I'll forget....more
The narrator of The Gargoyle (I'm pretty sure we never learn his name) begins his story with a horrific car crash that leaves him burned beyond recognThe narrator of The Gargoyle (I'm pretty sure we never learn his name) begins his story with a horrific car crash that leaves him burned beyond recognition. He hasn't lived the best life: he's selfish, addicted to drugs, and a porn star. His beautiful, sexy "friends" take one look at him after the accident and never come back. But one day a woman, Marianne Engel, shows up in his room. He's never met her before, but she knows things about him that he's never told anyone, and she claims that theirs is a love going back seven hundred years.
I'm not entirely sure what I just read. This was a group read this month for The Next Best Book Club. I'm dying to go over there and see what others have to say, but I try very hard to write my reviews before reading other reviews or discussions. I want my thoughts to be my own, and I'm afraid that sneaking a peek somewhere else will change my own honest feelings. For what it's worth, here they are.
I really, really, really liked this, but there was a lot going on and there's still a lot left for me to think about. Don't you hate it when you know your review is never going to convey everything that you're thinking and feeling? That's what's going on here.
Marianne is a character that I won't forget anytime soon. She's a gifted carver of gargoyles, a gifted linguist, a gifted storyteller, and a woman with infinite love to give away. She teaches the cynical narrator about the true meaning of love through a series of stories about her friends, and a long narrative about the first time they met and loved. He sees what she means when she lives what she teaches as she cares for this burn victim whom she's never met before and even the staff and other patients at the hospital that is caring for him. Her stories and her actions are beautiful.
You know how everyone seems to think that Jane Austen has the best declarations of love ever written? I believe Andrew Davidson topped her. Yes, it was that good.
There's quite a bit about God and the nature of forgiveness and penance in here too. That was secondary, for me at least, to all the ways that people can find to truly love each other.
I know we aren't supposed to judge books by their covers, but let's face it--we all do. And I just love this cover. It's even better in person than in the picture.
I really think that's the best I can do. Mostly, you just need to read this soon if you're interested in it at all. But if you're a reader who needs a beginning, middle and end with no deviation from the storyline, this probably won't be a book for you. The scenes describing the crash and his initial treatment are fairly graphic, so the squeamish might want to stay away also. But if you don't mind some sort-of-tangents, a meandering plot, and plenty of food for thought, I really think you should pick this up. I mean all of that in the best possible way....more
Anything that keeps me smiling through the whole little book deserves at least 4 stars. And who doesn't love those lovable, cute, cuddly, Twisted WhisAnything that keeps me smiling through the whole little book deserves at least 4 stars. And who doesn't love those lovable, cute, cuddly, Twisted Whiskers animals?...more
A giant dome suddenly appears over the town of Chester's Mill, Maine one beautiful October day, and the townspeople are left to their own devices.
ThatA giant dome suddenly appears over the town of Chester's Mill, Maine one beautiful October day, and the townspeople are left to their own devices.
That's a lame synopsis, but I don't want to give anything more away.
What would you do if you were cut off from the rest of the world? Perhaps more importantly--what would your neighbors do? Would everyone pitch in together to get through the crisis the best way they could? Would everything dissolve into complete anarchy?
What would you do?
As I read this, I kept mentally comparing it to Lord of the Flies, which I hated. I hated almost everything I had to read for class though, so I don't know what that says. Anyway, as I recall, in Lord of the Flies, the boys run wild and only bad things happen and I'm supposed to buy that that's the way people in general would act if all authority and rules disappeared. I can't buy it. I just can't. Call me a deluded optimist if you want. Oh, I'll give you that some people will get up to nasty things. But there will always be people who do the best they can, for themselves and their neighbors.
And that's what Stephen King got right here.
Sure, it is what it is and a lot of terrible things happen. But there is also a core group of good people. I loved them and I loved King for creating them. There was Barbie (a man), who might have been a little too good to be believable, but I still liked him. There was Julia, who never backed down. There was Piper, struggling with her faith, but still trying to minister to people's emotional needs. There was Andrea. I respected the hell out of that woman. And then there was Rusty. Rusty somehow became my husband in my head. I could see Luis just shining right through the guy, so of course I loved him too.
And then there was Big Jim Rennie and his son, Junior. I loathed Big Jim within about 3/4 of a page of meeting him. It was obvious I was going to dislike him right from the start, but I was impressed with how quickly King got such a strong reaction out of me.
It got knocked down a star mostly because I thought a merciless editor could have cut quite a bit off the 1027 page count. Some sections, like the immediate aftermath of the Dome plopping down, just got a little too long. It all added to the suspense, but I still wanted to tell King, "Enough! I got it. Let's move on already." Most die hard fans will disagree with me, but there it is.
This is such a little thing that I hesitate to even mention it, but here it is. I wish that Twitch, the ambulance guy, had been a paramedic rather than a nurse. My husband is a medic, and let me tell you, they are under-appreciated and underpaid, at least where we live. Every little bit of publicity has got to help, so I wish that King had helped them out a little. There's a whole gigantic soapbox I could get on, but I'll leave it at that.
Mostly though, this was just a great book that started off with a bang and didn't really let up. I thought it would take me forever to read this beast, but I got through it in about four days. Don't let the size intimidate you. If you're interested, pick it up and buckle up for the ride....more
Max Trader is a luthier who wakes up one morning in a body not his own. After the initial panic and a little further investigation, Trader finds out tMax Trader is a luthier who wakes up one morning in a body not his own. After the initial panic and a little further investigation, Trader finds out that charming, womanizing rake, Johnny Devlin, has wished for a different life and somehow they have traded bodies. Devlin has no intention of trying to switch back. He gets a fresh start while Trader tries to navigate his way through the wreckage of Johnny's life. While learning about Johnny, though, Devlin learns a few things about his own life and how he needs to start living as large as trees, to paraphrase.
Characters, characters, characters. What draws me to Charles de Lint are his characters, and he did not disappoint with this one. Trader is a mild-mannered kind of guy, mostly forgettable except for his talent, but he's willing to learn from this unbelievable experience he has. He learns to live his life to the fullest and not take a single day for granted.
So that one's obvious. What makes this a de Lint book is that even the secondary characters grow and learn and change. Trader and Devlin's switch is like a stone thrown into a still pond: the effects ripple out in ways that you don't see coming. Even minor characters learn self-acceptance, the value of having your own life outside of a relationship, acceptance of others, forgiveness, open-mindedness and all kinds of Important Life Lessons. I've loaned out my copy already or I would throw out a couple of quotes that sum all of this up much better than I can. Expect to see a revised version of this review when I get my copy back.
Finally got it back!
"The thing to do is to be happy with yourself, with what's in your own life; then if a relationship comes along it's a bonus, something to enjoy instead of the thing your life revolves around."
"Look inside yourself for the answers--you're the only one who knows what's best for you. Everybody else is only guessing."
What kept this from being five stars are two of the characters who actually grow the most. They were the whiniest women I have read about in a long time. Oh, they felt real alright. I know plenty of women who moan on and on and on about their boyfriends, the lack of, or the fact that they need a life apart from. They are not women I want to spend time with, either in books or in real life. I have very little tolerance for that kind of thing. It's an important lesson to get out there, but spare me. Please.
What's a little unusual about this novel is that there isn't really a bad guy. Devlin's not anyone's idea of a nice guy, but the real antagonists are apathy, inertia, missed opportunities, wasted talent, and a lack of self-awareness. Devlin's actually sort of the poster child for the "wherever you go, there you are" theme running through the book. He gets a new life, but he's unwilling to change and makes the same old mistakes all over again.
This falls pretty early in the Newford books, which I will still maintain that you don't have to read in order, but it was pretty cool to go back and read an early book and see how the regulars were doing back then. I finally know who Tanya is and how she and Geordie meet, and I finally realize that there are hints of Jilly's The Onion Girl (Newford, Book 11) trials this early.
On a side note, I adore the cover art that John Jude Palancar creates for de Lint's books.
Anyway, this is a great example of why Charles de Lint is my favorite author. He tells a great story with an important message without being preachy, all while creating characters who honestly feel like old friends to me at this point. Reading this one has given me the urge to go on a Newford re-reading binge. Highly recommended....more
Loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, among other fairy tales, Wildwood Dancing is the story of five sisters who disappear into The Other KiLoosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, among other fairy tales, Wildwood Dancing is the story of five sisters who disappear into The Other Kingdom for a fairy revel every full moon night. But when their father leaves them alone to spend the winter in another city, their cousin, Cezar, realizes something is going on and starts making their lives difficult.
So maybe there's nothing deep or thought-provoking here. This was still a hugely fun book. It's pretty obvious that this is a re-telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but there are some other fairy tales thrown in. I enjoyed seeing how all of them fit together to make this tale.
Jena is the second-oldest sister and the narrator of the book. I loved her. I have noticed in Marillier's other books that her female characters rock, and this one isn't any different. She's intelligent, capable, caring, but also maybe a little blind and naive about some things. Her sisters are a little bit of a disappointment. They don't really have huge roles to play, so they fall more into stereotypes. The pretty one. The smart one. The flirt. The baby. But for me, that just fell right into the spirit of a fairy tale. If you really think about it, aren't they generally peopled with stereotypes that prevent a lot of needless explanation?
Cezar was bad enough for me to really despise him, but he didn't cross this weird line I have where I hate the bad guy too much. He was an insufferable, chauvinist prick who infuriated me, but at the same time I loved it. Go figure.
Once I realized that there were so many stories being woven together to make this one, I started to worry a little that there was no good way to wrap it up. But it all comes together in the end. I do have one or two lingering questions that I would like to have answered, but that's just me. Everything really does wrap up nicely in the end.
If you love fairy tale re-tellings, go pick this one up. You won't be disappointed....more
Charles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and doCharles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and do the same thing. Without knowing anything about the book, the prologue is one of the best hooks I've read in a long time. But you can't know anything about the story beforehand. But, man, what a hook!
One of the things I love about de Lint is how his characters always have faith in something bigger than themselves, but that faith doesn't necessarily take the form of organized religion. He incorporates the best elements from many different religions and mythologies to build a story that most people can relate to. This book has a great love story, but the point is really to explore faith, grace, and having the courage to let go.
The biggest thing that I love about de Lint is his characters. Within a few pages, his characters feel like old friends. Grace is no exception. Tough, tattoo-covered, hot-rod building Grace is easy to pigeonhole. But there are many surprising sides to her personality, and she quickly became a character I won't forget. But what makes his characters stand out to me are the way they interact with each other and the world. They usually have some of their own serious issues, but they also generally seem to believe that, while they might not be able to single-handedly change the world, they can change their parts of it. They live to try to ease the way for others they encounter. They understand that life is hard enough without people beating each other down. We should build each other up. De Lint got all of that into this book too.
Most of my favorite books by this author are set in the fictional city of Newford, with some recurring characters throughout. I was initially a little disappointed that this wasn't a Newford book, and that I wouldn't get to check in on Jilly and Geordie and friends, but I quickly got over that. This still wasn't my very favorite book of his, but this was definitely one of my favorites.
In all honestly, the story was probably 4 stars. But the ideas behind the book are 5 stars. I love this guy, I loved this book, and I can't recommend either highly enough....more
Valentine Roncalli is turning 34 years old, she lives and works with her grandmother, and she's single. She's pretty happy though, until the day her gValentine Roncalli is turning 34 years old, she lives and works with her grandmother, and she's single. She's pretty happy though, until the day her grandmother tells her that the family's custom shoe shop is in financial trouble. Now she finds herself trying to find a way to save the business she loves as she juggles a budding relationship with a hot new restaurateur.
I think my expectations for this were skewed by the first few sentences of the book. It begins,
"I'm not the pretty sister.
I'm not the smart sister either. I am the funny one. I've been called that for so long, for so many years, in fact, that all of my life I thought it was one word: Funnyone."
So I thought I was in for a funny book. It wasn't. Valentine stays entirely too stressed out to really be funny. Not that I blame her--she has a lot on her plate. It just wasn't what I expected from the setup.
Also, I should probably be ashamed to say this, but I don't really care about shoes. I know, I know! But that's me. So all the descriptions of the cute shoes with the perfect fabrics and darling embellishments were lost on me.
The food sounded divine, and I loved the part when Valentine and Gram take off for Italy. I'm ready to go back! They spend time in Tuscany and Capri, and the author's descriptions of both were beautiful. I didn't get to go to Capri when I visited Italy, but I did want to. Now I'm thinking I need to convince my husband that we should go back and spend time south of Rome. I don't think he would need much convincing!
I may not be girly about the shoes, but I am loving this girly cover. Isn't it great?
This was a good book, and I'll pick up the soon-to-be-released sequel sometime. I just thought I would like it more. I loved Big Stone Gap, so my expectations may have been too high. Other readers will probably enjoy it a little more than I did....more
Aslaug has lived an isolated life with her mother in the woods of Maine. A disturbing story is revealed in alternating chapters. One set of chapters rAslaug has lived an isolated life with her mother in the woods of Maine. A disturbing story is revealed in alternating chapters. One set of chapters reveals the course of Aslaug's life in the summer of 2003. The other reveals Aslaug on trial in 2007, for a crime that isn't even revealed until very late in the book.
These are some crazy *itches. I'm sorry, but that's the logical place to start this.
Aslaug appears to be an innocent victim, living in a house with her mother where they don't have electricity and all the windows are boarded over. Is it to keep the world out or Aslaug in?
When she finally starts to meet other people, she's woefully unprepared for what she finds. She doesn't understand a lot of modern technology, she's brilliant with languages but doesn't understand everyday slang, and she doesn't realize the evil that people can hold in their hearts. Well, evil probably isn't the right word. I'll try again. The evil that fanaticism can lead people to. Save us all from fanatics of any flavor. Is there anything scarier than someone who is doing crazy, hurtful things because they believe that God, Allah, the Easter Bunny, or anyone else has told them it's their sacred duty to do so?
I can't say that I enjoyed this--I was too upset throughout most of it for that. But I'm still mulling over some of the religious history that I read here. This is a book to get under your skin and unsettle you for a while. If you're in the mood for that, go for it....more
Busy week + training + overtime=forgettable review. Sorry, guys.
These stories/poetry were pretty dark. But then it's been a while since I read any GaiBusy week + training + overtime=forgettable review. Sorry, guys.
These stories/poetry were pretty dark. But then it's been a while since I read any Gaiman, so maybe I've just forgotten how dark he can be. I would really put this on a dark fantasy/horror lite shelf, but that's fine by me.
As in all short story collections, some of these were winners and some were okay. Some that stood out were
"A Study in Emerald"--A fun take on the classic Sherlock Holmes format.
"October in the Chair"--Memorable more for the framework than the actual story, although that was pretty good too.
"Bitter Grounds"--Pretty creepy
"Other People"--I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares after reading this one. But that really has more to do with my own buttons than the story.
"The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch"--Just might be my favorite. He stops in just the perfect place and tells just enough. Loved it.
"The Problem of Susan"--Should have come with a warning a la Stephen King and The Dark Tower. He has a point, but I will never look at Aslan the same way again.
"Feeders and Eaters"--I hate to pick on The King again, but I really think this one would have done him proud. Super creepy.
"Goliath"--Absolutely perfect for what it was written for
"The Monarch of the Glen"--I can't honestly say that I remember all that much about American Gods, except that I liked it. Still, it was fun to check in on Shadow.
One last thing. There are a few poems scattered throughout the book. I did not care for the earlier ones, but as I continued reading, they improved, and I genuinely enjoyed "The Day the Saucers Came" and a few others.