Loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, among other fairy tales, Wildwood Dancing is the story of five sisters who disappear into The Other Ki...moreLoosely 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.(less)
Hannah Gray is now an old woman, reliving the summer when she was seventeen and in love. She's revisiting her grandparents' house on the coast of Main...moreHannah Gray is now an old woman, reliving the summer when she was seventeen and in love. She's revisiting her grandparents' house on the coast of Maine and re-reading her journal from that summer. She was fighting with her stepmother, her father was back home in Boston, and the house they had rented was haunted but Hannah was the only one who could see that. She eventually stumbles on the tale of a gruesome murder with ties to the house when it was located on an island out on the bay. In a dual narrative, the book contains Hannah's journal and relates the events surrounding the murder.
I really just grabbed this out of a box of books that I borrowed from my aunt a long time ago and haven't finished reading. I glanced at the back and saw something about Maine and decided that sounded good to me. I was surprised to get a murder and a ghost!
Don't get the idea that this is a horror novel. There's a lot more going on here than that. The ghost seems to serve more as an illustration of the ways we hurt each other in countless ways, both big and small, and the way that bitterness and anger cause effects that ripple out from us and down through generations.
I liked Hannah and thought her parts captured that feeling of being young and in love and knowing that the world is too small to contain everything you feel. She just wants to do what she wants but she has her stepmother constantly trying to clip her wings. And Conary, the boy she loves--he's fabulous. I got the feeling that he could be a heart breaker but he's tender and caring and charming and almost perfect with Hannah.
The story about the Haskells and their miserable lives together is horrifying. They just about hate each other. Well, they really do hate each other. Claris and Danial are married in spite of her parents' misgivings. They see Danial more truly than Claris although she'd never admit it. Claris thinks his quiet demeanor hides a deep soul when really it hides a man who just wants to work and be hateful and not much else. The two warp their children and even drag a schoolteacher who is boarding with them down into their spite and hate. They're one of those couples that seems happiest when they're tearing each other apart. They were exhausting.
The harsh Maine landscape of the early twentieth century plays a part here too. A visit to Maine is definitely on my bucket list and the descriptions in this book only added to my desire to go. But the tough climate shaped a tough, proud bunch of people and that's reflected here. This is one of those books that just wouldn't be the same if it was set anywhere else.
I haven't read The Woman in Black but, based on the movie, I get the feeling that readers who enjoyed that would enjoy this book and vice versa.
When you're in the mood to explore the darker side of human nature, give this one a try. It's a quick, atmospheric read that won't disappoint.(less)
I have somehow never seen "Bram Stoker's Dracula" or any of the other movie incarnations of this book. In fact, I was surprised to read the back cover...moreI have somehow never seen "Bram Stoker's Dracula" or any of the other movie incarnations of this book. In fact, I was surprised to read the back cover of this book and find out that the book is about Dracula moving to Enland to set up shop. So, I had no expectations going into it.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It's written in a journal/letter style, which I (mostly) liked and found interesting. I liked seeing what was going on with the main characters as we went along. The voices of the narrators kind of all blended together though. Mina was different, but Jonathan and Dr. Seward were pretty interchangeable for me. If there wasn't a clue in the content, I very often had to flip back to see which one was supposed to be writing this section. And I thought Van Helsing's "accent" was terrible! This intelligent physician/lawyer makes some horrible grammar and syntax mistakes that didn't come across as real to me. Granted, I'm not an expert at that kind of thing, but there's my opinon.
Speaking of characters--the characters in this book were all (with the obvious exception of the vampires) too noble and good for words. A typical, paraphrased conversation between characters (I think spoiler free):
"If I should show signs of becoming a vampire, give me your oath that you will do the honorable thing and destroy me in the appropriate way."
"I would lay down my very life to prevent such a thing from happening, but if it should, I would gladly fulfill such a duty to you, in order that you might go to your eternal reward in Heaven."
Is this for real? Okay, the book's over a hundred years old, but still...
Now for my big pet peeve: the way Mina is treated like both this wilting flower and this oddity because she has a "brain like a man's." If that's not a direct quote, it's close. I tried to keep in mind that this book was written 20 years before women could even vote, but it was still driving me crazy! But then I really thought about it and decided that Stoker might actually have been a little feminist for the times. Mina might be a fragile flower, but at least she is intelligent and she gets to tag along with the men, and they even arm her at one point. I don't know. But it did bother me.
I was shocked to find out that Van Helsing is an old man who has more in common with Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot than Hugh Jackman! So I'm reading along, pleasantly picturing Hugh Jackman every time Van Helsing's name is mentioned, and then I come across a reference to how he's an old man. What?!? Where'd Hugh go? Bring him back please!
I've made it sound like the book is terrible, but somehow it's more fun to write about the things that don't work than it is to write about the things that do. I really did enjoy it and I'm glad I finally read it. I've read quite a bit of vampire fiction, so I'm glad to have finally read the book that sort of started it all. It's all gothic and melodramatic, but if you can live with that, you'll enjoy the book.
Jody Stroud wakes up under a dumpster with one hand severely burnt one evening after being attacked by a stranger on the way home from work. It doesn'...moreJody Stroud wakes up under a dumpster with one hand severely burnt one evening after being attacked by a stranger on the way home from work. It doesn't take her long to realize that she's become a vampire without any knowledge of the rules. It also doesn't take her long to realize that she needs a minion who is able to take care of her business during the day. Enter C. Thomas Flood, the Next Great American Writer. But strange murders follow the pair around and they end up battling the police and an older vampire.
That sounds all so very serious, doesn't it? This was actually pretty funny. I have to say that I enjoyed A Dirty Job more, but I am glad I read this.
I think part of the appeal was that I read this while I was on vacation in San Francisco, where the book takes place. So I'd read about the Transamerica Building or Chinatown or Coit Tower and it was pretty cool that I had just seen them that day.
And I'd forgotten about The Emperor! I'm glad he made an appearance, even if he does travel with a Boston Terrier. (Long story. Let's just say that I consider the breed my nemesis.)
And it's been too long since I finished for me to get any more detailed than that. If you like Moore's other work, you won't be disappointed with this one.(less)
Odd Thomas is back. He's finally getting to take his long-awaited break at the monastery called St. Bartholomew's Abbey. Inevitably, the bodachs appea...moreOdd Thomas is back. He's finally getting to take his long-awaited break at the monastery called St. Bartholomew's Abbey. Inevitably, the bodachs appear to him again and they're centered around the disabled children taken care of by the nuns living at the abbey. Odd knows that he doesn't have long to figure out where the threat is coming from and what it even is. He would do anything to protect these most-innocent of innocents.
I really like Odd Thomas. I like his self-effacing sense of humor, his sense of honor, his sense of justice, and his love of people. While this book was probably better than Forever Odd, the second in the series, it wasn't anywhere near as good as Odd Thomas. The plot seemed kind of secondary. After such a long buildup, the climax was pretty short and, after a certain point, obvious. Honestly, if felt like Koontz came up with some of his ideas for this one from Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Just some subtle stuff, but that's what I thought of.
I did love Koontz's loving descriptions of these special children, the descriptions of Elvis's antics (yes, he's back in this one!), and the tennis-match conversations between Odd and the only other guest at the abbey, the mysterious Russian, Rodion Romanovich. These back-and-forth conversations alone are a good reason to read this one. There was even one statement made by a mentally retarded young man that almost made me cry--and I'm not a crier.
So, the characters and the people were fantastic, but the plot was pretty lame. You'll have to decide if this sounds like it's for you.(less)
I have wrestled with my rating for this brick of a book. On one hand, Meyer really is not the greatest writer out there, and I noticed it here. And Ed...moreI have wrestled with my rating for this brick of a book. On one hand, Meyer really is not the greatest writer out there, and I noticed it here. And Edward really is so controlling that it's frightening at times. And Bella can be nauseatingly gushy. Yes, I'm looking at the sentence, "I wrenched the door out of my way--ridiculously eager--and there he was, my personal miracle." Ugh. Cue the eye-rolling and gagging. But once I just sort of let that go and went with the story, I read most of this 629-page book today. I couldn't look away. So it would be 3 stars for all the bad stuff, but I'm bumping it up to 4 stars for being compulsively readable.
And that really sums it up. That and I think the epilogue was a cheat to keep all the Jacob fans reading the series. And I'll declare myself to be a member of Team Jacob right here. Edward, when he isn't being creepy, is just too perfect. He's enough to give a girl an inferiority complex. Give me Jacob's wild emotions any time. (less)
**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...more**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.(less)
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 g...moreTwilight 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.