I saw so many less than glowing reviews on this book that I decided to read it just to see if I'm still capable of forming my own opinion. The results...moreI saw so many less than glowing reviews on this book that I decided to read it just to see if I'm still capable of forming my own opinion. The results were not encouraging.
The good things first. I loved the world the author created. It felt complete and thorough. All the details were there and it even made me want to appreciate poetry more. The imminent destruction of this Society would be something spectacular and I could hardly wait to read more about it. Unfortunately all that time and effort used to create this dystopian world seems to have been taken directly from character development.
The warning bells became intolerable, when I was half done. I still didn't know who I was supposed to cheer and empathize with. Basic logic soon cleared that dilemma, but it didn't really solve the problem, because I still didn't feel what the character was feeling. At least with Twilight, I could vicariously live through the (other) characters and feel every nonsensical emotion, but here, nothing.
Well, there was that brief moment where I was smitten with Xander and wondered maybe this was the first time I'd end up cheering for the one I'm supposed to be cheering for, but I should have known better. Xander, like Gale, like Jacob, and the rest of that club, was promptly pushed aside and forgotten making the love triangle trite.
Telling me the heroine is in love just isn't enough, not anymore, and that's the basic problem with first person voice. People, authors, forget to show what love feels like. It might not be my idea of falling in love, but you need to sell it with something more than (view spoiler)[I saw his picture and now I can't stop thinking about him; I must find out more about him; oh, geez, I'm in love (hide spoiler)]. Their motives were understandable and sensible, but I just didn't feel them. Not even the parents, who were as close to success as the author came.
The part that makes me really mad, is the brief encounter with action writing towards the end. It was beautiful, but without any emotional connection to the characters that too fell flat. Until then I was merely irritated with the protagonist, but (view spoiler)[her running after Ky and breaking the rules in public (hide spoiler)] just showed how much better than this the author is, or could have been. You don't feed your significant other ready-made meals for thirty years and then suddenly reveal yourself as a gourmet cook without consequences: Two stars.
Still, I'm tempted to give that third star for the one real character in this book, the Society. But I won't.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It wasn't bad but neither was it anything especially good either. An angsty short story that touched subjects far too big for its ~10k word count. Esp...moreIt wasn't bad but neither was it anything especially good either. An angsty short story that touched subjects far too big for its ~10k word count. Especially because a third of it was dedicated to the sex. (less)
I wish I could say I really enjoyed reading this ten day countdown to World War II, but for reasons unrelated to its content it was just too much work...moreI wish I could say I really enjoyed reading this ten day countdown to World War II, but for reasons unrelated to its content it was just too much work.
Also for those same reasons I can't comment whether this book deserves the fourth star I'm withholding now.
1939: Countdown to War (1939 Nedräkningen till andra världskriget) isn't an easy read in any language. Its focus is too narrow for any casual reader for the devil truly is in the details. By concentrating solely on the last days of peace and on the intricate diplomatic choreography played on the stage of European politics, Overy underlines just how painfully human this tragedy is.
People don't start because they're angry and yelling at each other, because that still counts as dialogue. People start wars when the lines of communication are broken down, reliable intelligence is unavailable and fear for the worst takes over in the wake of unforeseeable circumstances, as the author points out.
This and other insights hidden within the pages challenge the reader to think and take a step closer to those people who more than seventy years ago faced a another Great War in their life time. Few held on to the illusion of honourable war, but they were all innocent in comparison with us for they hadn't grown up being taught about the horrors of the Holocaust.
That's another kind of tragedy; the more you already know about the Second World War and especially about the events leading up to it, the more you'll get out of reading this book.
It doesn't give you all the answers to the how or why but it pushes you to the brink, so you can discover the answers for yourself. (less)
Update: I'm rounding up the rating after the reread.
What kind of ridiculous name is that? That's what I thought when I first read Finnikin of th...moreUpdate: I'm rounding up the rating after the reread.
What kind of ridiculous name is that? That's what I thought when I first read Finnikin of the Rock and marvelled at the fact that he was going to be the main character of the second book. Then I read the ending of Finnikin and decided I didn't care. I decidedly didn't care. I wanted to read Melina Marchetta's books and that was it.
I'm happy to say the gamble paid off. Froi of the Exiles not only deepens the world building (maybe not enough for the severest critics) and further explores other characters, it brings alive Lumatere's greatest enemy: Charyn and its people.
Froi is sent on a mission for his Queen and country, but he ends up finding himself instead. The exile without a past finds out exactly what he's lost. Through a journey that isn't that dissimilar from the one Finnikin and Evanjalin took, Froi finds a home and a family if not, yet, a place where he belongs.
I have my doubts about the love of these two broken people are still developing, but I don't doubt my love for the secondary characters. The brothers who share a face and their lost loves were who I really found myself invested in. Let's just say that Arjuro needs his happy ending. It's non-negotiable.
What was a throwaway remark in Finnikin was also further demonstrated in Froi. Bonding–what the people of Skuldenore call a marriage–is completely asexual. It's part of why I love these books so, but it's not the only reason.
For all the good there's so much more wickedness. It's like the ick factor of Finnikin and the turnside of the war is multiplied in Froi, but the story's set up and the characters ground it and make it believable if not bearable. A word of warning, though. If you can't forgive and look past what Froi did to Isaboe, you most likely won't like what's done to Quintana and others. Many, many others.
It isn't a secret that this book ends with a cliffhanger. I knew it going in and it honestly didn't bother me as much as it would others. What did annoy me, were the very last lines of the epilogue. I didn't need that trick to be revealed. There's very little mystery in these books and all that keeps me reading is the need to find out how it'll happen. The what is easily guessed.
Marchetta's magic is in the words, not in the misdirection and slow reveal of a mystery. What I'm trying to say is that I've read better storytellers, but I've read few authors whose writing speaks to me like hers does.
Oh, and the story behind the ridiculous name is explained as well. I could tell you, but I won't. You'll just have to read the book to find out.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the US publisher through NetGalley.(less)
This is a short book describing what life and filmmaking was like in the 1950s especially for people working with Carl Dreyer on the set of Ordet, The...moreThis is a short book describing what life and filmmaking was like in the 1950s especially for people working with Carl Dreyer on the set of Ordet, The Word .
Jan Wahl, then a film student, relates the story of a summer he spent in Denmark with the director and his crew. He relies heavily on his diaries and letters exchanged with Dryer to paint a picture of a man who lived and breathed films and filmmaking, a perfectionist who eventually succumbed to the elements and simply did his best.
For a layman work offers a glimpse behind the scenes and the history of filming. It draws attention to details that might otherwise escape the casual filmwatcher's notice, and it highlights some of the difficulties the age and technology presented.
For an expert, though, I imagine there are infinitely more layers hidden in these pages than I can hope to describe.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
I haven't read the previous Invasion Volumes (I assume there are volumes 1 and 2), but that didn't stop me from liking this. It was like an episode of...moreI haven't read the previous Invasion Volumes (I assume there are volumes 1 and 2), but that didn't stop me from liking this. It was like an episode of a really good show or a film series. Which reminds me, even though this is set 25 years after Battle of Yavin (had to look that up) and features mostly the Skywalker progeny instead any of the original Star Wars characters, the events and the script reminded me of Star Wars IV - A New Hope.
The art I liked. I liked it much better than what I saw in Dart Vader and the Lost Command. Here it was much more precise and contributed to the parallels I saw with A New Hope.
This got me excited about Star Wars again.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
I was all set to give this story four stars and then the characterisation of swans happened, and no. Just no.
Duck! is an m/m BDSM story with a sprinkl...moreI was all set to give this story four stars and then the characterisation of swans happened, and no. Just no.
Duck! is an m/m BDSM story with a sprinkling of paranormal thrown into the mix. I wanted to read about avian shifters, but unfortunately that side of the story was superficial at best. The nest and hierarchy between species read more like an allegory of BDSM caste system people were born into with dominant species on top and submissives at the bottom.
Except that the dominant-submissive relationship aspect read more like an Master-slave dynamic. If you get past all that, then this is actually a well written and easy to read m/m erotica.
Ori is a fledgling waiting to become of age and a full avian shifter. He’s been thrown from one foster home to another and he doesn’t know what species his heritage makes him. The nest elders’ best guess is a lowly duckling. Raynard is a hawk shifter recently returned to the nest, and suitably high in the hierarchy for his dominant tendencies. He becomes engrossed with Ori and decides to save him from the abuse by the other nest shifters. Ori does what he’s told; he’s a good submissive.
I managed to swallow the iffy aspects of their set up—Raynard’s total control over Ori without Ori ever questioning the arrangement other than to offer more—because I utterly bought Ori’s want and need to please his master. Ori wanted to serve and he wouldn’t have been happy any other way.
As much as I wanted to learn more about the nest dynamics, I would have been happy with less hadn’t the author’s portrayal of swans’ nature rung utterly false. She makes them sound like majestic but utterly helpless creatures without proper guidance. Swans aren’t helpless. They’re fierce, protective of their cygnets, and downright scary coming at you.
It’s a good read if you’re in the mood to suspend your disbelief.(less)
Mariah Cooper wants a life for herself. She wants a husband and children, and she wants a career as a seamstress where she works for herself instead f...moreMariah Cooper wants a life for herself. She wants a husband and children, and she wants a career as a seamstress where she works for herself instead for her mother. None of these things she can get in Philadelphia, so with a little help from her aunt Mariah answers an advertisement for a housekeeper and travels across the continent to find a new life in California. Her reluctant employer, Logan Yates finds himself bewitched by the spirited widow. He ends up wanting to share his life and family with her and it only takes him a little over a week to decide this.
Jenkins takes the time to set up both Mariah’s life in Philadelphia and Logan’s life on his farm before bringing the characters together—with a clash or ten. Mariah’s decided to change her life and she won’t let anyone walk all over her ever again. This leads to repeated conflicts with Logan who is used to getting his way without having to invest too much of himself.
The banter between these two characters is wonderful as are the little titbits about Californian history the author sprinkles between the pages. I loved that all their troubles came from their characterisations instead of manufactured obstacles. Mariah wants to commit, Logan doesn’t, and neither is hiding the fact. There’s quite a lot of plain speaking and whatever lies or secrets are told, they don’t stay secret forever. Truths comes out and they have consequences. For example, Mariah admits she’s attracted to Logan but that doesn’t change her mind about wanting a commitment. For Logan, when he finally changes his inconstant ways, there are consequences for that too.
Even though the romance itself takes barely a week to develop, it doesn’t feel rushed. With the exception of the sex scenes. The initial kisses and seduction worked well for me, but their first actual sex scene and the events leading up to it felt more like a slapdash-afterthought method had been applied in writing them. It made me question whether or not the publisher had asked them to be added in later. This could also explain why I felt like the author missed the optimal notes for the emotional pay offs such as their I love yous and the umpteenth proposal. Luckily, Mariah’s confrontation with her mother saved a lot.
Destiny’s Embrace is the first book of a trilogy and there is the definite feeling that Jenkins is setting things up for a bigger story. She spends a lot of time on introducing secondary characters like Logan’s stepmother and half-brothers, and expanding their personal histories. For some reason the book also felt little anachronistic; it felt like a 1990’s kind of a book rather than a historical romance written in the 2010’s. I don’t have enough perspective to properly explain why this is.
My thanks to Sarah for gifting me this book when I had trouble buying a copy.(less)
This reads more like a man's desperate attempt to make sense of a language, a culture, and a history behind them that is wholly different from his own...moreThis reads more like a man's desperate attempt to make sense of a language, a culture, and a history behind them that is wholly different from his own, than it reads like a novel about an amnesiac man searching for an identity through a new language.
I appreciated the historical accuracy, but can only hope that the mispelled Finnish words are the translator's fault rather than the original author's. As I said in one of my status updates, it's good for linguistic laughs. (less)
I thought this would be more about the wild Holland sister rather than about everything but Diana Holland. What I got instead was a predictable mess....moreI thought this would be more about the wild Holland sister rather than about everything but Diana Holland. What I got instead was a predictable mess. Why, oh, why must everything be forced into series especially when there isn't enough story for two books let alone one?(less)