A brief overview of world religions and their various branches within the framework of a story about a teenage boy with a mysterious illness. It feltA brief overview of world religions and their various branches within the framework of a story about a teenage boy with a mysterious illness. It felt more like nonfiction, but it was interesting to learn about religions that I know little or nothing about....more
Daisy has been sent from NYC to live with her aunt and cousins in the English countryside. Shortly after her arrival, her Aunt Penn has to travel outDaisy has been sent from NYC to live with her aunt and cousins in the English countryside. Shortly after her arrival, her Aunt Penn has to travel out of the country for work, leaving the teens alone for a few days. Terrorists strike and nothing is ever the same.
This just wasn't really my kind of book. I want to call it dystopic, but my grasp of the meaning of that word is so tenuous that I could very well be wrong. Whatever it is, it's very bleak and end-of-the-world feeling and I'm more of a head in the sand, optimistic kind of person. But I picked it up and gave it a try because it won the Printz award and I've had good luck with the few of those I've picked up. Oh well. They can't all be winners for me, I guess.
I have to say that Daisy's voice was very distinct and felt pretty authentic to me. But she presents herself as a know-it-all to her cousins at the beginning (while admitting secretly that she doesn't know anything about the country) and that irritated me. I just had to try to train a know-it-all at work, and I really have that button out there to be pushed right now.
Daisy does grow past all that and it was interesting to see how she and her cousins dealt with the situation they found themselves in. But that's about all that happens. There is a little action but mostly it felt like a character study of how these kids deal with this new world. Characters can make or break a book, but a good story is equally as important to me.
The ending felt very rushed. There's sort of a fade-to-black and then the story picks up some time later. I had a hard time figuring out when this was taking place and what had happened. I was really just confused. I think I finally got it, but I would have liked it to be clearer from the beginning.
I can see how this would appeal to teens who are more realistic and worried about the state of the world than I am. I wouldn't recommend it for people like me who choose not to think about what might happen. It's definitely for older teens. There's some very vague but still inappropriate teen sex (trust me--it's not gratuitous, I'm not a prude, but it is inappropriate) and some violence that's not very graphic but maybe all the scarier for the lack of details about what just happened....more
I am not, nor have I ever been, exceptionally qualified to write a review of a collection of poetry. Back in the day, I could probably have muddled ouI am not, nor have I ever been, exceptionally qualified to write a review of a collection of poetry. Back in the day, I could probably have muddled out something about rhyme and meter, but high school English is a long way behind me, and I've forgotten anything I ever knew.
But I do like poetry that's pretty straightforward and that says something to me. I have a collection of these that I've probably kept since middle school. Unfortunately, for the number of poems included in the collection, there weren't many that spoke to my personal experience. Maybe I read them too fast. I'm a fast reader and poetry is meant to be savored. I tried to take my time, but I think I came in at about a month. I tried to keep it to one or two a day, but I just got tired of lugging the thing back and forth to work and finished reading it.
Also, I'm not clear about what made these "Good Poems for Hard Times." I expected an uplifting collection, or maybe a "You are not alone" kind of collection, but really they seemed to be about anything and everything. Flipping it open randomly, I find a poem that reminds me of James Blunt's Song, "You're Beautiful," about instantaneous, hopeless, distant love; a poem about watching a man be unsuccessfully resuscitated; a silly little rhyme about a yak; and I remember reading some of those funny little Burma Shave ads. Why are those good for hard times? Some fit the theme, but, for me, anyway, most of them didn't.
Readers who know more about poetry or who have a broader understanding and expectation may enjoy these. This just wasn't the collection for me....more
My family all loved this, but I remember thinking it was just okay. I think this is one of those books that appeals more to the region its set in thanMy family all loved this, but I remember thinking it was just okay. I think this is one of those books that appeals more to the region its set in than anyone else. It was a decent biography though....more
This was a fun little hobbit-y knockoff, but the writing was pretty terrible. I overlooked it enough to pick up the second, but if there's a third I wThis was a fun little hobbit-y knockoff, but the writing was pretty terrible. I overlooked it enough to pick up the second, but if there's a third I won't be reading it....more
Elderly Leo Gursky lost his great love when he was young and he has spent the rest of his life living with what-might-have-beens and watching her andElderly Leo Gursky lost his great love when he was young and he has spent the rest of his life living with what-might-have-beens and watching her and her family from afar. Not in any kind of icky way but in a caring way. Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is named after all the women in a book entitled The History of Love. The book leads her on a quest that takes on more and more layers, as she first searches for happiness for her widowed mother and then she gets more curious about the people she finds.
I missed something here. I know so many people love this book, and I kept waiting to love it too, and then I got to the end. And now I'm sitting here watching my cursor blink back at me and I really don't even know what to say.
I do have to say that I admire the narrators' voices. They were all very distinct, from the twelve-year-old Jewish boy to his fourteen-year-old sister, to old Leo to the disembodied narrator, I knew who was telling each section with no problem. I have to admire the author's artistry in pulling that off.
But everyone was just so sad and so alone. It got a little depressing. Even the twelve-year-old felt sad and alienated. He was faced with the choice of being true to his own nature and alone or burying a part of himself and fitting in and having friends.
I guess my problem might be that I tend to like my stories to be a little more linear. I can take some detours as long as I get to see how they're going to tie in pretty quickly. But when there are several distinct plots roaming around a book and I don't understand how they fit together until right at the end, I've pretty much given up and don't care anymore. And I think that's what happened to me here.
The book is beautifully written, so if that is a bigger draw for you than that linear plot I was talking about, I think you will like, or even love, this one....more
David Martín is a writer of penny dreadfuls who is offered a huge sum of money to write a book for a French publisher. He can't find any evidence thatDavid Martín is a writer of penny dreadfuls who is offered a huge sum of money to write a book for a French publisher. He can't find any evidence that the publisher actually exists though, and violent things start happening to David's friends and colleagues.
I was rocking through the first half of the book, loving Ruiz Zafón's writing, and then I just stopped caring a little over halfway through. I'm not entirely sure what happened. I think I got sick of having absolutely no freaking idea what was going on. Yeah, I knew who the publisher was, but I didn't know how that was going to tie into everything else. I read this using this really cool post-it-flag bookmark my husband gave me, because I knew that I would probably have tons of quotes I loved in here. The last one is at page 324 out of 531 pages. There's no big event that I can find there, I think that's just where I ran out of patience.
I loved Ruiz Zafón's previous book, The Shadow of the Wind, and I have a feeling that a re-read would bump that one up to five stars. I missed having a Fermín. There wasn't really anyone to give any lightness or grace to the story. It was all darkness and despair. The relationship between David and Isabella gave a few lighter moments, but he ended up hurting her feelings more often than not, so those were pretty limited. This is sort of a companion to Shadow, and I had a hard time figuring out how and when they fit together. I was confused about how this Sempere was consistently described as being shy and sort of boring, when that wasn't the guy I knew from Shadow. This young Sempere is the father in Shadow.
I have to say, my hat is off to the translator, Lucia Graves. She did one heckuva job translating this. The story might have lost me a little, but the writing is still lyrical, and that has to be as much to her credit as to the author's.
Maybe I should have put this aside and tried it again later when I realized that I had started to lose interest. I don't think that would have made a difference though. It's still a dark, Gothic novel that fans of that genre will still probably love. I just preferred The Shadow of the Wind much, much more....more
Walter Hartright finds a woman, all in white, wandering down the road to London in the middle of the night. ARating/Review for The Woman in White only
Walter Hartright finds a woman, all in white, wandering down the road to London in the middle of the night. As they talk and walk, she mentions that her happiest times were spent at Limmeridge House as a child. By coincidence, Walter is leaving to become a drawing teacher at this house the very next day. In talking this over, it's revealed that the woman in white has been badly mistreated and there are many more secrets surrounding her.
I find it hard to judge a book by how it would have been received in its time. I can only judge by my modern-day standards. That being said, I was disappointed in this book. I really expected more.
I found the mystery to be mostly predictable. There were a few twists and turns that honestly surprised me, but I saw the big picture from pretty far out. I know this book was supposed to be one of the first mystery novels and should receive a lot of respect for that. But my problem is that I found a lot of the elements to have become cliches. I realize that this isn't being fair to this particular book, but there you go. It hasn't weathered that well for me, personally.
The way that Collins wrote about women drove me crazy. He has one very strong, very intelligent female character who is always spouting off about how "we women can't be quiet" and stuff like that. Having a woman say it doesn't make it okay. I know this might have been pretty standard fare for the time period, but I didn't care for it. It doesn't help me feel any better when we realize that the smart woman is ugly and mostly overlooked as a romantic prospect, while her boring, weak but beautiful sister is pursued on all fronts. Irritating.
This high-handed attitude extends to everyone who either doesn't have a title or at least a "gentlemanly" occupation. The descriptions of villagers and servants really aggravated me. Less eduction or opportunities does not equal a lack of intelligence. I know, my modern approach to a Victorian novel is getting in the way again.
The novel is written from many different view points. There are straight-up narratives written by Walter Hartright, letters written by lawyers and servants, and journal entries from the intelligent sister. I like the style, but I found the voices to be pretty interchangeable. The only one who really stood out to me was the owner of Limmeridge House, a nervous man, and his whining and complaining cracked me up!
All those view points to cover every possible angle of the mystery made the book longer than I thought it had to be. I'm not sure exactly what could have been left out, if anything, I'm just left with the vague feeling that it could have been shorter and been improved for it.
But for all my complaints, I really don't regret reading this. Considering it's length and the Victorian language, it was actually a pretty quick read. I wish I could look at it a little more objectively, but I can't. If you're good at judging a book by it's originality for it's time, you'll enjoy this. Unfortunately, that's just not me....more
Fiona Finnegan is growing up poor but happy in Whitechapel in the 1880s. Her family might not have much but they have each other, they have a roof oveFiona Finnegan is growing up poor but happy in Whitechapel in the 1880s. Her family might not have much but they have each other, they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. That's more than most of their neighbors can say. She also has Joe Bristow, the boy she's always loved, and their shared dream of someday owning a shop together. But everything changes in a tragic series of events that leaves Fiona scrambling to care for herself and her younger brother. She's also out for revenge.
I'm so torn. I adore A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. Like, top-five-books-ever adore it. So I know she can write. But this is her debut novel and it shows. It also got laughably melodramatic. There's a better word to describe this book but it's escaping me. Dickensian? Maybe.
Fiona's tragedies just pile one on top of the other, on top of the other, on top of the other! I do have to admit that I didn't see a lot of them coming, and I do appreciate that. The final climactic scene was predictable--until the shocking twist that was so implausible it truly left me laughing. But I think the author was kind of going for that over-the-top feel. It's certainly reminiscent of someone's writing from that era, even if I can't place who it is.
Star-crossed lovers doesn't even begin to describe Fiona and Joe. The number of obstacles they had to attempt to overcome eventually became ridiculous.
I did keep turning the pages quickly, especially once everything starts falling apart.
Fiona was maybe a little too perfect. She's beautiful, intelligent, fiercely loyal, and driven. She does have a temper, which I guess could be a fault, but since it only flares up in defense of others or to help her achieve her goals, I'm hesitant to classify it as such. I was mostly as charmed by her as all of her family and acquaintances were.
In the right mood, I would probably have eaten this up but instead I feel that it amused me a bit more, and in a different way, than it was intended to. I'm not a huge romance reader so I'm not the best judge of this kind of thing. While it wasn't exactly for me, most readers do seem to adore it, so don't let me dissuade you from giving it a try if you're so inclined. ...more
This is a tough book to summarize. Let’s just say that Mr. Corey wakes up with amnesia after a nasty car crash and setsReview of Nine Princes in Amber
This is a tough book to summarize. Let’s just say that Mr. Corey wakes up with amnesia after a nasty car crash and sets out to recover his memory and then to take back what he sees as his.
Starting this was a leap of faith. Corey tells the story and since he doesn’t know anything about what’s going on, neither do we. He’s confused, we’re confused, and I for one was left wondering if it was worth the effort to continue on. Luckily, I decided that since I’d heard so many good things about this author and since the book was only about 150 pages, I really had nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. Once I got going with the story and started getting tantalizing pieces about the story behind the story, I was hooked. Even after finishing, I have some questions, but I know that this series has to be worth the ride.
I love Zelazny’s writing. He has a unique voice and some of his descriptions were incredibly original. Of course I didn’t do anything useful like mark them, but here’s one I did find again: “his skin was as porous as an orange rind and the elements had darkened it to resemble a fine old piece of furniture.” Can’t you just picture this guy’s skin?
As much as I liked it, there were a couple of things I didn’t care for. There’s a big old deus ex machina at the end. (Here’s hoping I got hold of the correct phrase) Maybe it will tie in later, but right now it just felt like an easy way out after he had painted himself into a corner.
This isn’t really anything to do with the story, but my copy is chock-full of typos. It’s easy enough to figure out what Zelazny meant most of the time, but there were a few instances where the sentence could work in a couple of different ways. There was at least one time when a few sentences were repeated for no reason. It got really distracting.
I’m going to give this three stars, mostly because of what I just mentioned and because I still have lots of questions about what exactly is going on. I’ll definitely be continuing the series, and who knows? I might bump my rating up later.
The Guns of Avalon
I don't have too much more to add except that the typos were better in this section and I'm hugely surprised that one story arc wrapped up as quickly as it did. I'm glad we got to see a few more members of the family. I really didn't see the big twist coming. It's still three stars and I'll still keep on reading....more
Three generations of MacIvey men struggle to survive and thrive in the Florida wilderness among disasters of both the natural and man-made kind.
My motThree generations of MacIvey men struggle to survive and thrive in the Florida wilderness among disasters of both the natural and man-made kind.
My mother-in-law insisted that I read this, basically because "it's so interesting to read about the history of the area" where she lives. She lives in Naples, FL, and all I know about the area is her neighborhood. We never get out and see anything when we visit, so that wasn't much of a recommendation for me. But being the meek daughter-in-law that I am, I read it.
And it wasn't bad. Patrick Smith wrote a decent story here. I was afraid I would drag through it for a week or two, but I finished it up in a couple of days. I just kept turning pages to find out what was going to happen next to the MacIvey family.
But the writing, especially the dialog, just wasn't all that great for me. The dialog is in the vernacular, and it just did not ring true. That's very hard to pull off. I can only think of Mark Twain and Lee Smith as being successful at this. Tough shoes to fill.
And then the disasters. They didn't just happen once. They inevitably happened twice, usually within a few pages of each other. That got very repetitive.
My last complaint is about the pacing. The book starts off with Sol MacIvey as an old man in 1968, thinking about how much Florida has changed in his lifetime. Then it flashes back to 1863, when his grandfather was the first MacIvey in the state. Tobias's story is interesting, and so is his son, Zech's. But all of a sudden, we get to about 1908 and Sol's story really starts--and finishes in about 50 pages. All the stuff in the 1800s was interesting, but since Sol started the book, I truly expected to get more than 50 pages of his story. Especially considering that Florida went from being a place where it was possible to buy something like 60,000 acre chunks of land at a time to the Florida that we think of today. Huge changes, and only 50 pages to show for it.
I did enjoy the history. I had no idea that Florida was ever a place where cattle drives and gunfights that would fit right in to a spaghetti western took place. All that was truly interesting. The MacIveys were a great family. They were accepting of others and mostly respectful of the land and I sort of hated to bid them goodbye. I just really wish the writing had been tightened up a little....more
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story of two girls from very different backgrounds in 1800s China and the deep friendship they share.
I picked thSnow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story of two girls from very different backgrounds in 1800s China and the deep friendship they share.
I picked this up after reading three Holocaust novels in a row. I needed some “fluff” and, not really knowing what it was about, I thought this might work. Instead I found myself reading the horrible details of foot binding. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. *Shudder*
That aside, this was pretty good. I found it hard to relate to either Lily or Snow Flower, but I did appreciate the deep friendship they shared. In a time of arranged marriages, a friendship was the truest love most women experienced. I think we’ve lost some of that today, but we can still relate to the love, regret, and misunderstandings that arise between friends.
A big part of the book centers around the secret women’s writing that the women in this area of China had. I just love the whole idea of a hidden writing system invented for women by women. I’ve come across this idea before in The Secrets of Jin-shei. That novel’s set in an imaginary country that is obviously based on China. Readers of one of these books should like the other.
Really, this was about 3.5 stars, but I just can’t bring myself to round up. I think women who enjoy reading about friendships between women will enjoy this one....more
Had I reviewed this when I actually read it, I would probably have given it 4 stars, but I've forgotten almost everything about it now. I do rememberHad I reviewed this when I actually read it, I would probably have given it 4 stars, but I've forgotten almost everything about it now. I do remember that I liked Coriander and that she was the heroine of her own story, not a helpless damsel. I also vaguely remembering it being very dark, following in the footsteps of the original Grimm fairy tales. Don't hold me to any of this though. And that's really all I have to say about that....more