The Story of Land and Sea opens with young Tabitha contracting yellow fever on her tenth birthday. Her father and grandfather, having already lost herThe Story of Land and Sea opens with young Tabitha contracting yellow fever on her tenth birthday. Her father and grandfather, having already lost her mother in childbirth, are desperate to save her despite the limitations of 18th century medicine. Her father takes to the sea with her in tow, thinking that the sea air will cure her. After all, he took her mother to the sea when they first married and she blossomed into the woman he loved with all his heart.
Flashing back 20 years, Tabitha's mother Helen is a young girl receiving her first slave on her tenth birthday. Helen is a serious, bossy soul, teaching the neighborhood slaves on Sunday and becoming perfectly poised to take the reins of her father's turpentine business. And then she meets a soldier.
Hmm. That story I just described is exciting and I'd like to read it. This book is not that book. This book is much more Literary-with-a-capital-L. Instead of the action-y love story I was hoping for, I found a book that explores the holes that grief leaves in the lives of those left behind. It is well-written but I somehow felt removed from the story. I didn't feel like I really knew any of the characters; I only knew their grief.
The book does have a strong sense of place, which is what I was hoping for. I'm a North Carolina girl and we always spent our summer vacations on the coast when I was growing up. I was really excited when I realized that the book is set in Beaufort. We always spent a day exploring the town, eating ice cream at the marina, checking out the maritime museum, and choosing which yacht would be ours if we ever won the lottery. This post-Revolutionary War Beaufort is strangely colorless. It's hot and muggy, as it should be, but it's so hot that all the color has been bleached from the town. I can't describe it better than that.
There are definitely readers who will enjoy this, and they'll be readers who like their books to be more Literary and thoughtful than I generally do. Despite the beautiful writing, this really wasn't the book for me.
Thanks to the publisher for giving me a copy of the book for review....more
Testimony covers a lot of ground, from the making of the movie, Schindler's List, to the idea of filming Holocaust survivor testimonies, to the actualTestimony covers a lot of ground, from the making of the movie, Schindler's List, to the idea of filming Holocaust survivor testimonies, to the actual project, and now sharing the testimonies and collecting new ones from ongoing genocides around the world.
The first half of the book kept my attention better than the second half. I love the movie so seeing the behind-the-scenes photos and reading about the actor's thoughts was fascinating. I also liked reading about the real people the characters were based on and how filming such harrowing scenes affected all the cast and crew. When the narrative moved on to the idea of the Shoah foundation and collecting the survivor/witness stories, I was still on board. I liked reading about how the USC Shoah Foundation is sharing their expertise with other groups around the world with similar goals. I was reading in bed wondering how you get a job collecting stories. I even searched StoryCorps to see if they were hiring (They were but I'm not bilingual). The idea of such a huge, important undertaking just appealed to me--no, it called to me.
The second half got more technical, focusing on ensuring that the testimonies are secure and stay in a format that is always relevant to the modern age. That started to lose me. I'm proficient with the technology that's relevant to my life. I don't really stay on the cutting edge of anything. And I definitely don't understand anything about movie editing, etc. I do understand that all of this is important but I didn't really follow it. I was back on slightly firmer footing when the narrative switched to sharing the testimonies with the world. Even at that, I quickly got to the point where I just wanted to know what website I could go to for myself.
What kept me going were the transcribed excerpts sprinkled throughout the book. I'm drawn to stories of the Holocaust so reading about what these survivors endured was a highlight of the book. I was glad that the editors chose to include narratives from not only Jewish survivors, but also a homosexual survivor, rescuers/witnesses, a Jewish woman active in the resistance, a Sinti and Roma survivor, and survivors from other genocides (Rwanda and Cambodia). I personally know very little about other genocides or even really other perspectives on the Holocaust. I especially like that all these excerpts included current photos of the speakers and photos from their past.
Anyone interested in the Holocaust and/or Schindler's List will find this book fascinating. Pick it up for yourself and bear witness. We must never forget.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review....more
Ursula Todd is born on a cold winter's night in England in 1910...over and over again. Sometimes she is stillborn, other times she makes it through, oUrsula Todd is born on a cold winter's night in England in 1910...over and over again. Sometimes she is stillborn, other times she makes it through, only to die later and start over at the same place. Each time, something is a little different and her life takes drastically diverging paths as a result.
Someone asked me what this is about and it's almost impossible to explain. "Reincarnation but...not. She lives the same life over and over but...not really." What matters is watching how minute differences in Ursula's life change her story completely.
That was what I really enjoyed. I liked the whole concept of playing with a character's life like that just to see what happens. There were lives that I hated and lives that I loved. Some were depressing, some were horrific, some were odd, but they were almost all interesting. Some got a little crazy. The prelude shows us Ursula, a pretty English girl, setting out to assassinate--a Nazi official (I'm pretty sure it's not spelled out at that point). Where the heck did that come from? Once I got to that life, it did make sense but still--wow.
There were a couple of drawbacks though. The book got repetitive. I don't think there was any possible way to avoid that in this kind of story but there you go. I think the author did the best anyone could have but I was still heartily sick of that snowy winter night that Ursula was born. Also, I started having trouble remembering what had happened in each life by the end. "Is this the one where this happened or was it that?" I can't say that I was always entirely sure.
The characters weren't a huge draw for me but this is one instance where the story itself was engaging enough that I was able to overlook that. Ursula varied so much that I can't comment on whether I liked her or not. I guess I liked her well enough. Her mother was just terrible. Her brother Teddy was too good to be true. Her aunt Izzy was a flighty idiot but generally fun. Pretty much everybody could be summed up in one sentence.
Still, the book was so different from anything else I've read that it kept my attention and I would recommend it. ...more
Malala Yousafzai was only fifteen when she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban for speaking out for education for everyone around the worlMalala Yousafzai was only fifteen when she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban for speaking out for education for everyone around the world, but especially for girls, and especially in Muslim countries. She miraculously survived and now has an even larger audience for her message.
I think I'd heard a little bit about Malala before this book came out but only a little. Then I just happened to catch her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart one night and I was blown away. This young lady is intelligent, well-spoken and seems to be fearless in speaking her mind. I can't remember if Jon Stewart asked if he could adopt her or vote for her (probably both) but I echo that sentiment. I knew I had to have this book after seeing her speak.
The Malala in these pages is everything I expected her to be. She makes it clear that she's not perfect but her conviction rings throughout the book. She knows it is one of her basic human rights to get an education. She has a brain and she wants to use it. She is disturbed by the spread of a version of Islam that she doesn't recognize. She doesn't want the Taliban keeping the populace in ignorance and gaining even more control. She thinks we should all make an educated choice in our beliefs, whether those beliefs are personal, political, or religious.
She begins by painting a picture of Pakistan as she saw it before the Taliban started gaining control. It sounds like a beautiful place with a troubled past. Then she tells about all the ways, both little and big, that the Taliban started to affect daily life. This was the scariest part for me. It felt like it could happen anywhere. It seemed to begin with a radio show and a man who slowly gained power by starting with small statements that a lot of people agreed with and then slowly getting more and more fanatical until he had too much power for anyone to stop him. It was scary. Then Malala's valley is evacuated as the Pakistan army and the Taliban finally fight for control.
Throughout all of this, Malala's father was an outspoken opponent of all the radical changes. As the owner of a school, he was especially outspoken about every child's right to receive an education. Malala wanted to join him in that fight since it directly affected her. Her father started receiving death threats and losing friends as they were murdered for similar beliefs. He carried on though and Malala did too.
As I read, I wondered what I would do in their shoes. I'll be honest: I'm more of a keep-my-mouth-shut-and-my-head-down-and-hope-I-make-it-through kind of person. But that's how these crazy agendas gain so much ground; they count on the majority of people having exactly that reaction. When we wonder how one person can ever make a difference, we can always find an example of one person who already has. To that list, we can add Malala Yousafzai. She's one of our bright hopes for the future. Pick up this book and find out why....more
I have mostly been able to follow Christopher Moore into his craziness with success. He makes a joke and I laugh. It might be the weirdest thing everI have mostly been able to follow Christopher Moore into his craziness with success. He makes a joke and I laugh. It might be the weirdest thing ever (Humpback whales with "Bite Me" on their tails?), but I get it. But then there was Fool. And now there is Sacre Bleu.
I got so tired of having absolutely no freaking idea what on earth was going on. I mean, zero idea. You probably have a better idea what's going on than I did. Notice that I didn't write a synopsis? There's a reason.
Individual elements worked well for me. I liked coming across all these painters and seeing them...misbehave. Especially Monet. I read a book about him once. I liked Lucien and Henri a lot. They had been left a little broken by the women in their lives, but they were still young painters (Or bakers. Or counts.) out on the town having a little fun. And sex. And alcohol.
Paris is always a good location to read about. I'm not sure how much I really want to go, but reading a book set in the city always has me ready to pack my bags. And then I think that I would stand out like a sore thumb in chic Paris. And I mentally unpack them again.
I loved that the ink of the book is blue and that so many prints of paintings were included. In color no less! I hate reading a book that talks about a real work of art and there's no print in the book. Call it laziness. It just seems like it should always be included.
I really appreciated that there is a section at the end explaining what is fact and what is fiction. I was a little surprised by what bits fell under which heading. I knew about van Gogh's ear. I did not know that he shot himself in the chest on purpose and then walked a mile to the doctor for help. That truly is some craziness.
But then there's the whole thrust (hee hee! Are you proud, Mr. Moore?) of the story that centers around The Colorman and Bleu. Who the hell are they and what the hell are they doing? I didn't know. I have a better idea now, but I'm still confused. Maybe my sense of humor is broken at the moment. Maybe my attention span is about as long as that of the hummingbirds that are starting to show back up at my house. But I just couldn't follow anything about them. And they really are the entire point of the story.
I have a feeling that if you liked Fool, you'll understand this better than I did, so go ahead and give it a try if you're interested.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.
Cassie Dasent is growing up in an Arctic research station with her dad and his team. Her grandmother has always told Cassie stories about her mom andCassie Dasent is growing up in an Arctic research station with her dad and his team. Her grandmother has always told Cassie stories about her mom and how the family lost her to the North Wind and the Polar Bear King. When Cassie was younger, she believed these stories, but as she's grown older, she hears them as a metaphor for her mother's death.
Until she meets the Polar Bear King.
Cassie has a chance to save her mother. All she has to do is marry the King. Can she be that brave for a woman she doesn't even remember?
I enjoyed the way that this fairy tale has such a very scientific background. I forget sometimes, but I did earn my biology degree back in the day, so to have that mixed in with a fairy tale was absolutely perfect for me. Don't get all weirded out by that. There's nothing difficult to understand (I promise), it's just that Cassie has been trained as a scientist all her life and suddenly she's in the middle of a fairy tale. I liked seeing her adapt to that and shift her world view. I also liked the way that her training made Bear's job easier. Now that I think about it, having the book set in the modern world makes me feel like magic can be around any corner. And isn't that nice to think about?
I liked Cassie as a heroine because she was feisty and because she took this changing world in stride. She knew what she wanted to do and she went for it. Absolutely nothing stood in her way.
I even liked Bear and how much he cared about his duties. There is one scene that really bothered my latent feminist tendencies though. I understand where he's coming from, but it really, really bothered me.
I really liked this take on "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." I've also read Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, and I have to say that I prefer Ice. I always do better with characters I can relate to and understand, and Cassie did that for me. I liked the twists the story took. I did guess what was going to happen at the end, but not until I was already in the middle of the big climax.
My one real complaint is that the book just stopped. Things are technically resolved, but I do like some sort of epilogue or afterward, and I didn't get that here.
I do recommend this for fans of fairy tale retellings. It's an enjoyable take on the original tale with a likeable heroine as well.
I've given this a good college try, but I'm giving up. The sexual assault on page 7 that had no emotional/psychological ramifications turned me off frI've given this a good college try, but I'm giving up. The sexual assault on page 7 that had no emotional/psychological ramifications turned me off from the start. Then the soft porn on page 46 was my breaking point. I'm embarrassed to even give you a quote. Let's just say that she wakes up from an erotic dream feeling "full" in a place that had never been full before and she set out to explore that area herself.
I'll be fair and say that the tone of the book does match the tone of Dracula very well. I was originally interested in this because Mina had been such an angelically good and exalted woman in the original. I thought it would be fun to see her let her hair down a little. I got more than I bargained for, to say the least! ...more
In a future that strongly resembles Invasion of the Body Snatchers, humans are an endangered species. A militantly peaceful race of extraterrestrialIn a future that strongly resembles Invasion of the Body Snatchers, humans are an endangered species. A militantly peaceful race of extraterrestrials known as "souls" has decided that the passionately violent humans don't deserve to live on the Earth. So they have calmly taken over the vast majority of human bodies.
Sometime after the aliens have gained control of the planet, a soul known as Wanderer is implanted in the body of a young human fugitive named Melanie. But Melanie has not gently left her body; she is still sharing it with Wanderer, making the soul relive her worst memories and feel disturbingly intense human emotions while fighting desperately to hide memories of her human family. The two reach an uneasy truce when Wanderer decides to follow Melanie's memories into the desert to try to locate her family--lover Jared and brother Jamie.
Oh, Stephenie Meyer, what am I supposed to do with you?
I admit, I generally get fully involved in Meyer's plots against my better judgment (the big exception being with New Moon). She writes a riveting story, but then the females are--well, not. Riveting. Or interesting. Or really much of anything except helpless around their men. As in multiple men per woman.
Wanderer irritated the absolute heck out of me. I admit, I didn't notice it too much with Bella until New Moon but Wanderer hit me right away. I know she's supposed to be all peace, love, and happiness, but come on. You can't faint every time someone looks at you the wrong way. And she's always so--almost happy at the thought of giving her life or getting hurt to protect someone she loves. I'm not joking. It went beyond martyr complex. Way, way, way beyond. By the end, I was ready to throw the book against the wall and give up. Five hundred pages of reading time down the drain. But I stuck with it and I can't say that I regret it.
Melanie would have been an awesome character, but she's not in the driver's seat, either in her own body or in the story. The few times she manages to break through Wanderer's control and act on her own, it's obvious that she's got a temper, she's not afraid to fight, and she's not afraid to love. Please write a book with that kind of character next time, Ms. Meyer.
And then there's this really weird love triangle/square. Yeah. I'm over the triangles in general but this one got crazy-weird. How do you even make a love square? I would have said it wasn't possible, but I have now been proven wrong.
The aliens have Seekers, souls who search out the "wild humans." There's one Seeker who becomes obsessed with Wanderer, following her around all day and generally giving both her and Melanie the creeps. That storyline had a lot of potential but it was a bit of a letdown. It caused the climax but after all the buildup I expected there to be some sort of huge confrontation between them.
Despite all that, I tore through the darn thing. It is an easy read, but even then, my reading speed is nothing compared to what it once was. This should have taken me a good three weeks and I finished it in two. I just needed to know what was going to happen next. Once I gritted my teeth and decided that I was definitely going to finish, I needed to know what was going to happen at the end. It becomes obvious further out than it should have, but I had all kinds of scenarios going through my head. I wanted to see which one would be the "official" version.
I found it intriguing to see the world the souls had created and the way the humans were surviving. I see room for a sequel in explaining the Origin of the souls. Wanderer tells a little of their history, but there are some "distressing" parts that she glosses over. "The Vultures were...not kind." (Paraphrased) And that's all she says. What were the Vultures and what did they do to the souls to turn them into interstellar parasites? I confess, I want to know.
Stephenie Meyer seems to be a polarizing figure. I think you knew before you read my review whether you were ever going to read this or not. Fans will not be disappointed....more
Pam and Mark Walker are celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary by inviting their families to stay at their bed-and-breakfast for a week. APam and Mark Walker are celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary by inviting their families to stay at their bed-and-breakfast for a week. As in all families, there are some underlying issues that make the prospect of spending a week together a bit...interesting. Luckily, the county fair is in town that week, so everyone has plenty to do, if Mark can just make it through all the various competitions intact!
What a sweet book! Just what I needed. This is the fifth in a series. I haven't read the others, but I picked up on the story with no problems.
There were a few serious underlying ideas, like redemption, a teen's need to fit in at any cost, those family issues, and how the sale of a large tract of land to the wrong person can change a community's character forever. Linking all of these together was the question of how responsible we are to each other.
Mostly this was just a nice story with repaired family relationships, a community that looks out for everyone, and Mark's crazy antics to lighten everything up. Seriously, who enters a chainsaw art competition when they've never done anything like that before? Overseeing it all is the town's mascot, Hank, a plastic pink flamingo who longs to be an eagle. I loved the newspaper excerpts! They added a perfect little taste of small-town life.
I have to say that the resolution to the angsty teen didn't feel drastic enough. I didn't quite buy it. But the whole book is more of an escape than anything, so it did fit with the tone of everything else.
I also could have used a cast of characters. I lost track of who everyone was. This is where it might have helped if I'd read the books in the right order, but my biggest problem was with the various family members. I got the feeling that they were mostly introduced for the first time in this book.
I read an arc, but there was a whole section full of extras, such as recipes, discussion questions, and "What's in your..." interviews with characters. I enjoyed looking through all those.
If you've had a rough day and you need to escape to a simpler place, pick this up. I'll be doing that with the earlier books in the series.
Thanks to the publicist for sending me a copy for review. ...more
Aerin is the royal sol (think princess) and a bit of a disappointment to her people. With fair skin and red hair in a country of olive-skinned brunettAerin is the royal sol (think princess) and a bit of a disappointment to her people. With fair skin and red hair in a country of olive-skinned brunettes, it's obvious that she's not entirely Damarian. Rumor has it that her mother was a witch from the North who captured the king's heart with her magic. So Aerin's always stayed in the shadows. As she gets older, she starts to find her place in her father's court. She rescues his injured warhorse and goes to work fighting the little dragons that are dangerous pests in the countryside. And then one day a dragon awakens who isn't so little.
Man, this took me right back to my tween years. I can't begin to explain it because I've never read this book before, but it just had that '80s feel. It's a quest book with a strong female lead, short and to the point. The author isn't trying to get a movie deal or spread a plot thinly over a never-ending series. I did get worried about a love triangle at one point but hallelujah! We pretty much avoided it. It's just a good, solid story that I would have adored when I was about 12 or 13 and which I found entertaining and nostalgic today.
I liked Aerin and Tor and Talat and Luthe. I couldn't wait for Galanna to get her comeuppance. I was dying to know more about the world and especially about Aerin's mother. The book is complete as it is, but for all my complaints about book series, I am glad there's a sequel to The Hero and the Crown and that I already own it. I hope I get a few more answers.
I have no idea what anyone outside my 30-something bracket would think of this but if you're a fantasy reader in my age group, you definitely have to check it out....more
Lily Davis was only 17 when she married a boy she had known for a short time. He was shipping out to WWII soon as a supply man for Coca-Cola and it seLily Davis was only 17 when she married a boy she had known for a short time. He was shipping out to WWII soon as a supply man for Coca-Cola and it seemed like the thing to do before he went away. Three years later, her hometown of Toccoa, Georgia has scheduled a big homecoming party for all the returning soldiers, including parades and fireworks. Lily stumbles into Jake Russo, the fireworks man, as he's setting up his show and he opens up a world of possibilities for her.
This just isn't my kind of book. I love the cover, I love that it's set at the end of World War II in a town that isn't that far from my own. I was a little afraid that it would have more in common with a Nicholas Sparks novel than I would like, but I took a chance on it anyway.
As far as I'm concerned, it could have been written by Nicholas Sparks. Not that there's anything wrong with this book or anything that Sparks has written, it's just not my taste. Tell me that a book was "so good you cried for the last 50 pages," and I will avoid that book like the plague. Not for me. And that's the kind of book this is.
I did like Lily. She's a headstrong woman living in a time and place where her opinions and actions are frowned upon. Her mother is trying to mold her into the perfect Southern matron, but Lily is chafing against that lifestyle. It's probably telling of my taste in books and Lily's character when I say that my favorite scene involved Lily assisting a black soldier passing through town.
I liked Jake too. What a hottie with surprising depths! There's so much to him that I kind of feel bad calling him a hottie, but he is. He's only returned from Europe recently himself, and his experiences there have of course changed him. He's become quieter, more reflective, and more appreciative of this moment in time, because who knows what the next moment will bring.
Their story aggravated me to no end. I won't go into why and spoil anything, so I'll leave it at that. The pacing irritated me too. Lily tells the story when she's 82-years-old and just when I thought I might find out what happened, the action would break and we'd move back to present-day Lily for a few pages. That feels like a cheap way to sustain suspense. One scene taking place in the pouring rain had me rolling my eyes and flashing back on the movie version of The Notebook, something I only watched under duress, but that I actually liked in the end.
Like I said though, there's nothing really wrong with this except that it's not my taste at all. If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks, you will definitely love this one.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review....more
I just love Rick Steves. He's funny while at the same time packing a lot of history and very useful information into his travel guides. We used his boI just love Rick Steves. He's funny while at the same time packing a lot of history and very useful information into his travel guides. We used his books for our trip to Italy and just knew we had to have one for our trip to Spain. We caught ourselves mentally thanking him several times for the tips! Highly recommended if you're heading to Europe....more
This is the story of Claude Monet; his great love, Camille Doncieux; and their life as they struggle together in the years before his fame.
I started rThis is the story of Claude Monet; his great love, Camille Doncieux; and their life as they struggle together in the years before his fame.
I started reading this not knowing anything about Monet except that I used to have a print of one of his works hanging in my bedroom. I also don't know much about art except that I know what I like. I have enjoyed reading fiction about art and artists in the past, so I thought I'd give this a try.
It was okay. It is always amazing to me that artists who are generally accepted to be--I don't know, geniuses?--had to struggle so hard to be recognized back when they first started out, and sometimes even throughout their entire lives. I guess that just goes to show that people are slow to accept change.
The main reason that this got three stars is that it's written in a style that's not really for me. It felt like the author tried to stick very closely to the facts, which I do respect, but that made it feel more like I was reading a biography rather than fiction. I read very, very little non-fiction, so that wasn't a style that worked for me. I'm willing to sacrifice a little truth for a good story! Just ask my husband! ;-)
The angle of approaching Monet's life through his relationship with Camille also didn't quite work for me. It was a stormy relationship, and I'm not one for that kind of drama in real life or the printed page. I want to smack people around, and say, "If you're that unhappy, do something about it!"
I did enjoy reading about Monet's relationships with the other early Impressionists. I had no idea that all these guys hung out together. Reading a list of Monet's friends is like reading a "Who's Who" of the art world. Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Manet, Cézanne--I know there are more that I'm forgetting. I found myself wishing that I could read more about those relationships. What was included was good and taught me a lot, I just wanted more. I was really curious about Frédéric Bazille. I've never heard of him, but he was a fascinating character. There was always a lot going on behind the scenes with him, and I really wanted to know more.
I do always find myself wishing that publishers would just go ahead and print reproductions of the works in books about art. I knew a few of the paintings that were mentioned, and I would probably recognize more if I saw them, but it would be nice to be able to see Monet's Water Lilies series as I read about it.
This was a good book, there were just a few things that could have made it better for me. I know that not everyone's taste is the same as mine, so there are readers who will enjoy this a lot. Die-hard fans of Monet and readers who regularly read biographies will be among them.
Thanks to Random House for sending me an ARC for review....more
This book was so complicated, I don't even know where to start with a synopsis. David Marion is an ex-con who receives advance notice of a hit on hisThis book was so complicated, I don't even know where to start with a synopsis. David Marion is an ex-con who receives advance notice of a hit on his life. He escapes and learns that a mega-corporation, UCAI, was behind it. At the same time, Dr. Helen Freyl, who has a complicated past with David, learns that UCAI is trying to get their hands on a patent she holds on some honeybee venom and they'll stop at nothing to get their hands on it.
Let me say first of all that I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.
Now, this was really more like 2.5 stars for me, but I can't bring myself to round up.
This is a sequel to Bleedout, which I haven't read, but there was a pretty good explanation of what had happened previously, so I don't think I necessarily needed to read these in order.
Helen was my biggest problem. I could not bring myself to like her at all. She was a spoiled rich girl who treated the whole thing like a game until she realized that her own life might be at stake. I can't remember how many others had died at that point, but it was enough for me to think that this was an amazingly self-absorbed woman. She had to be at least firmly into her twenties to have her doctorate, but she tended to act more like a teenager. "Oh, let me smoke in this guy's car just to see if he'll say anything." "Oh, let me order the crazy-expensive caviar at this restaurant just to see if he'll say anything." She just liked to push her boundaries and see what she could get away with. She was a tiger while she was pushing away at someone, but the moment that someone pushed back, she was a thoughtless mess of need. I guess there's no turn-on like a guy with a spine, is there? I kept reading, thinking that she was just too stupid to live. She's picking a fight with someone over her hurt feelings as he's trying to save her life, clueless that he's even doing so. Self-absorbed and stupid. Not a winning combination for me.
The book took a long time to get going. There was too much background information. About half the book felt like set up, then by the time the action really got started, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Maybe that was on purpose, but it just felt like there should be more suspense in a thriller. Once I did reach that halfway point, I enjoyed things much more and would give the second half three stars. Unfortunately, that is where I got a little confused though. I was correct about part of what was going on, but it went a step further and I didn't quite follow. That could just be me.
I know this is an ARC and I should make allowances, but there were a few incorrect things that jumped out at me that I really hope get fixed by the final printing. First of all, the Smoky Mountains are in Tennessee, not West Virginia as one of the chapter headings states. There were more incorrect things in that chapter that I'm going to put down to David being a city boy. One other little thing that jumped out was the name SmithKleinGlaxo. That's all tangled up. It's GlaxoSmithKline. I would've missed that one if my uncle didn't work there. Things like that make me wonder about the research that went into the rest of the book.
A reader who isn't as dependent on likable characters as I am will probably enjoy this more than I did. There is a good story of industrial espionage and little guys vs. big corporations in here. It just didn't quite live up to the potential that I saw inside....more
Tomasu is out wandering the mountains where his village is located, as he has countless times before, but this time when he comes back, a warlord hasTomasu is out wandering the mountains where his village is located, as he has countless times before, but this time when he comes back, a warlord has destroyed it and apparently killed all the inhabitants. Tomasu makes his escape after embarrassing the warlord and earning his eternal enmity. A kind stranger on the trail Tomasu takes out of the village helps him get away and the fates of the pair become entwined.
Kaede is a hostage in another warlord's castle. She's been treated horribly but after a violent incident, she is finally allowed to live with the family rather than the servants. She is soon after told that she will marry a lord whom she has never met. She reluctantly sets out to meet him.
The four stars are more for promise than actual delivery. This first "episode," as it's labeled, is really just setup. Bumped down to three stars after reading the next book.
I liked Tomasu, or Takeo as he comes to be known, and Kaede. They're gathering a group of strong supporting characters around them as well. The stage is set for a lot of intrigue and action.
I love the feel of this little book. It has a great cover and it's just the right size to be easily held and hauled around. I love books that are small.
I'm interested to see where all of this goes. There's a magic system that is more hinted at than seen and I can't wait to see more of that. I want to see the woman Kaede becomes; I think she'll be formidable. Takeo is well on the way to his full power but I still can't wait to see more of him. The setting of not-quite-Japan is fascinating as well.
My biggest complaint is that the book seriously just stopped. My copy has a "preview" of the next episode, so when I turned the page fully expecting more of this book only to find that it was finished and all those lovely unread pages were for the next book, I was upset.
I reserve the right to change my mind with the next installment, but so far, so good. Be sure to have the second book ready when you finish though. ...more
Picking up exactly where Episode 1 left off, Episode 2 finds Takeo and Kaede en route to a marriage at Lord Iida's stronghold. Takeo is still bent onPicking up exactly where Episode 1 left off, Episode 2 finds Takeo and Kaede en route to a marriage at Lord Iida's stronghold. Takeo is still bent on revenge and Kaede is just trying to survive this brutal world of men.
There's still a lot of potential in this series, it's just not getting places very fast. I must be losing my patience for series books as I get older!
Kaede is growing fast and I wish more of the story was told from her point of view. Takeo has stalled out a little. I do think he's going to get better throughout the series though. I like Kaede's heart.
I was very disappointed in the direction that Shigeru and Lady Maruyama's story went. I guess the Lady's actions make sense within the context of her culture, but I expected more from her.
And I think that's really all I have to say. Readers who like books set in Japan will probably be pretty happy with it. I don't have a huge need to continue with the series, but you never know....more
Professor Random has sneezed Alice right out of Wonderland. He sends young Henry Witherspoon into the book to find her and put her in her place beforeProfessor Random has sneezed Alice right out of Wonderland. He sends young Henry Witherspoon into the book to find her and put her in her place before the world as we know it comes to an end. But Henry accidentally gets sent into the wrong book. Luckily, he meets the unflappable doodle witch, Winnie Flapjack, who takes him under her wing and helps him find his missing Alice.
This book is for those people who actually believe that it's about the journey and not the destination. Me? I just want to get where I'm going.
The book was fun, and I enjoyed seeing where Winnie and Henry were going to end up next and how they were going to get out of their current mess. The overall plot of finding Alice isn't a very big deal in the book though. It's more of an excuse to throw everything together. I enjoy books more if everything flows together better.
Winnie's solutions to problems were ingenious. Change live to dead? She can do that, no sweat. Defeat a crazy queen in chess? Sure. Take on a boat full of pirates? All in a day's work to Winnie.
Henry was a different matter. He was a loyal little thing with a big heart, but he was a little slow. He never learned to just do what Winnie said; he was always questioning her. He always came out the worse for it.
The pacing was a little off for my taste. Some of the vignettes dragged on too long for me.
Oh! I almost forgot! The prologue is horrible. As far as I can tell, it has very little to do with the rest of the book. So just skip it. My sister grabbed this and read it while she was house-sitting for me, and she couldn't wait for me to start it, just so she could ask me what was up with the prologue. We don't know. Anyone out there have any ideas?
I also really dislike that spacey Nicole Kidman cover. I was a little embarrassed to carry it around. And my review copy reeked of patchouli. I hate the smell of patchouli. I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to read it. The book stayed out on the porch airing out for a couple of weeks before I brought it back inside. It still smells, although it finally faded enough that I could read it.
That stuff aside, this was a fun book. It's not perfect, but if you're just looking for a romp through an author's over-the-top imagination, this is the book for you.
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review....more
Rose Daniels has suffered through fourteen years of an abusive marriage. She finally leaves with nothing but the clothes on her back on the day that sRose Daniels has suffered through fourteen years of an abusive marriage. She finally leaves with nothing but the clothes on her back on the day that she realizes that her husband might not kill her. And that thought is worse than the thought that he might.
I know that this is Stephen King, and you should expect violence, but I just want to say right up front that there is at least one very violent scene of abuse that might be more than some readers bargain for. Some of us can handle a man-eating dog but domestic abuse might push some buttons. So just be prepared. As far as I remember, the worst scene is the prologue, so if you get through that you should be fine with everything else. Rosie has some vague recollections of more abuse, but we don't actually live through them with her.
I really liked this, but I think for me it would have worked a little better without the supernatural elements. That's probably just personal taste, but Norman is scary enough as he is.
One other complaint and then on to the good stuff.
I never noticed how much King likes italics until I read this book. Most of the book follows Rosie, but there are a few chapters from Norman's point of view sprinkled in. His chapters are in italics. At first, when it's just a little section, I was fine with it. But as the book went on, his sections got longer and longer and it was hard for me to read pages and pages of italics. And then the words that would normally have been italicized were in normal print, and I had a hard time interpreting all of that to put emphasis where it needed to go. I understand why he wrote it this way, I just wish he had found a different way to pull it off.
I'm glad King tackled domestic abuse. He's a best-selling author and he definitely has the sales to draw attention to the problem. (I haven't read Dolores Claiborne, but, rightly or wrongly, I think that deals with abuse too) I'm really glad that Norman was a cop. I'm not sure if this was just to give him more resources to track Rosie or if it was to show that abuse happens everywhere, not just in crack houses. Either way, I'm glad he was a working guy.
I liked Rosie. I think she as a character showed how easy it is to fall into this life. It's not just weak or mindless women. And she showed that there can be hope for those who reach out and try to find it.
There was a great supporting cast of characters too. I really liked Bill, and Pammie was a small character but likable as well. And then there was Gert. I absolutely loved Gert. She starred in my favorite scene! Rose Madder was freaky. Part of me even now writes her name thinking, "Don't look at her face! Don't look at her face!"
I recommend it to King fans who haven't read it, as long as you are prepared for the abuse....more
Do we all know the basic story of Cujo? Big, lovable St. Bernard gets rabies and goes on a rampage. That's it. Sounds so simple, and it mostly is, butDo we all know the basic story of Cujo? Big, lovable St. Bernard gets rabies and goes on a rampage. That's it. Sounds so simple, and it mostly is, but King can tell one heck of a story.
Really, this was about 3.5 stars for me, but I'm rounding it up because I read it without once closing it, in one 12-hour night shift, without even thinking about getting tired. In fact, I found myself idly wandering around the office, doing things that needed to be done, holding this book in one hand and working with the other. I seriously couldn't put it down.
But it was a little weak. There was this little subplot where he tried to make the story supernatural. I thought it was silly and unnecessary. It was scarier for being something that I (in my complete ignorance of rabies) think could maybe happen, at least for a little while.
And can I go on record as saying that I hate the name Tadder? If Tad is too short for you, why not move on to Theo? Your kid will not thank you for Tadder when he's being beaten up on the playground. I'm just glad I had finished this before my husband said, "How do you know he didn't mean it to sound like tater?"
But the fact that almost all the "horror" elements take place in such a confined space with just three characters, one of whom is a St. Bernard, earns King huge points. This really should not have been a page turner, and yet it was. There is a reason the man is so popular....more