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
At the tender age of 12, Polly Madassa has discovered Jane Austen and fallen hopelessly in love. Convinced that she's an Austen heroine born in the wrAt the tender age of 12, Polly Madassa has discovered Jane Austen and fallen hopelessly in love. Convinced that she's an Austen heroine born in the wrong time, Polly walks around her modern town speaking in Austen's flowery prose. She's only read Pride and Prejudice, and so has not learned Emma's lesson about meddling. Polly goes about delivering baked goods from her family's bakery and trying to spread happiness and love among her neighbors by matchmaking. Of course, as we all know, the course of true love is never smooth, and neither is this summer an easy one for Polly.
That's all there really is to say about this.
It's nothing terribly original for an older Austenite, but it's cute for the younger set. Polly is well-intentioned if misguided, and more than a few of us can probably relate to her. Who wouldn't be upset if her older sister neglected her for a boring boy? It's much better to set her up with the new boy in town who is not only handsome but also has a British accent! Right?
Polly is an Emma, and so it was a little hard to feel sorry for her when everything comes crashing down on her, but she's plucky and she's a reader.
This will be perfect for girls who might be a little too romantic for their own good. Moms will probably enjoy reading it with them....more
Something isn't quite right in the Oakenwyld. The fairies are terrified to go outside, they're losing their creativity, and their numbers are dwindlinSomething isn't quite right in the Oakenwyld. The fairies are terrified to go outside, they're losing their creativity, and their numbers are dwindling. Young Bryony has a chance face-to-face meeting with a human that leaves the other fairies aghast and Bryony remorseful but curious. After Bryony comes of age, Queen Amaryllis appoints her as the Queen's Hunter. Bryony is thrilled. Now she gets to venture out of the tree on legitimate business every day and see a bit of the wider world. She starts to question the way things are, and soon she finds herself torn between not wanting to endanger her friends and trying to find out if she can help them lead a better life.
I enjoyed this. I love fairy tales and I love the idea of fairies. Unfortunately, most of the modern books I pick up about fairies disappoint me. They're so very dark and dangerous. I want to see the cute little flower fairies. (Why, yes, I do think Disney Fairies are the cutest things ever!) This delivered the cute fairies with flowery names while also giving me a mystery that kept my attention. This is probably more of a middle-grade book than a young-adult book, but I still couldn't guess how everything was going to tie together and end up. There's a little darkness, a little twisty-ness, but nothing that went too overboard.
Bryony is such a feisty little thing, I couldn't help but love her. She's practically fearless. Fearless can lead to stupidity in real life, and it happened a little with Bryony too. She would occasionally get over-confident and she'd pay the consequences and learn from her mistakes. She isn't content with hearing, "That's the way things are," she wants to know why things are the way they are and if it doesn't make sense to her, she challenges the status quo.
The next book in the series, Wayfarer, was just released in the US, and I'll be keeping an eye out for it. This was a nice little break for me.
Pick this up if you don't like your fairies quite so dark....more
Georgia Nicolson is fourteen and full of typical fourteen-year-old girl drama. Through her hilarious diary entries, we learn about her disastrous atteGeorgia Nicolson is fourteen and full of typical fourteen-year-old girl drama. Through her hilarious diary entries, we learn about her disastrous attempt at plucking her eyebrows, her fantasies about a guy she calls the Sex God (even though she doesn't seem very clear about what sex actually involves), her fights with friends, and her triumphs at school.
Oh my gosh. I giggled all the way through this, feeling about 14 myself. Georgia just cracked me up. My poor husband couldn't get me to put it down and had to listen to me laughing and snorting to myself as I read. Oh, Georgia, you did my poor downtrodden, immediately post-Grapes of Wrath heart good.
I recognized Georgia, and I think most of us will. I know some girls bypass the giggly, boy-obsessed stage completely, but I was not one of them. I was quiet about it, horrified at the idea that a boy might actually think I liked him, even if it was true, but at home I had my magazines and my walls were pretty much wallpapered with photos I'd ripped out of them and pinned up. My poor parents had no idea what happened.
And that's where Georgia is in life. She comes across as pretty fearless. I was first shocked by some of the things she did but then I would giggle away again. It's all pretty harmless though.
I don't know if I would like Georgia in real life (she's the type who would immediately tell a boy that you liked him), but on the page, I adored her. She is irrepressible, funny, insecure, sarcastic, and a nightmare of a teenage girl.
Teens and adults who can relate and who aren't afraid of Georgia's crude sense of humor should absolutely pick this up. It was just what I needed for a reading pick-me-up....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
Catherine de Medici. I picked this up not knowing exactly who she was, knowing only that if she was "de Medici," there would be lots of the drama thatCatherine de Medici. I picked this up not knowing exactly who she was, knowing only that if she was "de Medici," there would be lots of the drama that make the best historical fiction. Her parents died when she was young; she was held hostage in a convent in Florence when the Medicis were overthrown; and her uncle, Pope Clement VII, married her off to the second son of King Francis I of France when she was only fourteen years old. Her life in the French court was not easy.
Catherine is fascinating. I found myself Googling her to find out more once I finished because I just hadn't quite gotten my fill yet. These are her "confessions," so we are given full access to her thoughts. I loved watching her grow from a slightly spoiled girl, to a frightened girl, to a young wife, to a woman in her prime and at the height of her glory. Gortner took the approach that some of the bad things that happened during her reign were due to others' actions rather than any complicity on her part. That made it easier to understand her motivations, but it also made her seem like a bad ruler. She had no control over her court, she ignored threats when she should have taken preemptive action, and she didn't think through all the implications of what she did.
Politics play a fairly large part in the book, and I didn't always follow why things were happening. I don't think that I'm someone who would ever be good at intrigue. At most I might think one step ahead of where I am. So when Catherine was making deals, or she all of a sudden had to support one faction over another, or she chose whether to assassinate someone or not, I did not always follow. That could just be me though.
A little feminist preaching here. At the time when Catherine had power (1560-1589), there were so many other powerful women. Elizabeth I, Mary Stuart, Jeanne III of Navarre, and maybe even others. So why were women as a whole still treated as brood mares? I just don't get it.
Catherine's daughter Margot was incredibly interesting. Oh, I wanted to slap her, but I would love to read more about her.
This family could give the Tudors a run for their money. Holy cow. Maybe one ruler didn't have six wives and change the face of Christendom, but the personal drama? They had it. I was trying to tell my husband all about who was sleeping with who, who killed who, how many rulers France went through in this time, who they fought with, who they made peace with, and I just kept going on and on and on. I'm glad I didn't live then, but it is fascinating to read about those times.
If you're looking for some of that intrigue and drama the Tudors were famous for, but you're maybe a little tired of the Tudors themselves, give this one a try. I think you'll like it.
I received this book from the publicist for review....more
Several GR friends have read this and raved about it recently. I've been doing a lot of Halloween-related books this month, so IReview of I Am Legend
Several GR friends have read this and raved about it recently. I've been doing a lot of Halloween-related books this month, so I decided to give it a try.
It somehow wasn't exactly what I expected, and I mean that in a good way. I've seen bits of the Will Smith movie (and what I've seen has very little in common with the book), I've read my friends' reviews, but it's still something that I think you have to experience for yourself to understand.
I would definitely call it a horror book, but not exactly for the reason that I expected. There are the vampires, and there are a couple of intense scenes with them, but that wasn't what made the book scary to me. It was more about the absolute aloneness that Neville experiences. He truly is the last man in the world. How would you deal with that? Would you give up? Would you keep fighting? Would you start searching for others? Would you search for the reason behind the horror that has become your life? Matheson explores all of these avenues and more. Neville's reactions felt very real to me. I experienced all of his emotions with him. The vampires were scary at first, and then they just sort of become background noise. Then there's the rage, despair, curiosity, really the whole gamut of emotions that you would feel in that position. There's even one scene that just broke my heart. It's all in here, it all feels very real, and I am very impressed. Highly recommended.
Review of the other stories
I finished out the other stories and they were pretty good. They weren't on a level with I Am Legend, but there were some genuinely spooky pieces in here. My favorites were
"Prey" about an insecure woman and an African doll "Dress of White Silk" about a little girl showing off her mother's evening dress "Person to Person" about a guy who answers a phone that's ringing inside his head
My least favorite were
"Buried Talents" about a carnival game "Dance of the Dead" which is vaguely post-Apocalyptic "Mad House" about an angry man in an angry house.
I'm glad I read them, but I Am Legend was definitely the star of this show....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