tl;dr Will I be continuing this series? Probably not.
I stuck with it, and there are some definitely moments of heartichoke in here, so I'd say there'stl;dr Will I be continuing this series? Probably not.
I stuck with it, and there are some definitely moments of heartichoke in here, so I'd say there's definite potential for the rest of the series.
But the insane amounts of failure-to-communicate drama, a subplot that gets dropped over huge sections of the book only to be picked up again for a second when it would add to the drama, a rushed ending, and my sincere belief that this is a woman writing under a man's pseudonym left me cold. Why does that bother me? Because there's a huge empty space for gay men to be writing their own stories. That women write it and read it and get off on it is fine, but I don't like the idea that a woman is attempting to hide that by posing as a gay man. ...more
I am sorry, poor little highly recommended (so highly recommended that a friend gifted it to me with a "You need to read this!" message) book, but youI am sorry, poor little highly recommended (so highly recommended that a friend gifted it to me with a "You need to read this!" message) book, but you were not the one to get me out of the reading rut I'm in.
Everything I Left Unsaid is another Book That Could've Been for me. It has a few things going for it: a unique set-up, writing that flows (more on that in a second, though), and characters you will really get invested in. It should have been a 5-star read. However...
I'm starting to feel like I'm unable to just read for pleasure anymore. The first thing that really bothered me about this book was that -- again, in a book with alternating POVs, which I ordinarily love -- not only do the POVs switch between the hero and the heroine, but THEY SWITCH BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN FIRST PERSON AND THIRD PERSON.
I am someone who has no real problem with first or third. I've even read a book in second person, which was intriguing. But the switching back and forth with the character changes pulled me out of the book every single time. It's disorienting for the reader. And I couldn't for the life of me figure out why it was necessary, which made it worse. If it seemed like there was a real need for it or it was done in such a way that it emphasized a facet of the characters, I'd have accepted it, but it was so jolting every time it just made me angry.
The second issue was the transparency of the cliffhanger ending. There was at least one moment when I was truly surprised, but the ending of this book was so obvious from pretty much the first page that I was frustrated. Sometimes, reading Kindle versions of books makes me more neurotic about things because seeing an exact percentage of the book left gives me a pretty good idea of exactly when the "twist" is going to appear, and when you knew exactly what the twist was going to be, it makes for a frustrating last 12-15% or so. We know it's a series. There's only one way to make this lead to a second book and... there it is.
I'll admit I was invested in the characters, and I read the preview for the next book to see if it was something I wanted to continue with, but the first chapter of the next book was just as predictable and I don't think I'll be doing it.
I'll probably look for other books by this author, as I did like her overall writing style, but so far this year, I'm waiting for something to wow me. I want to be surprised and driven to turn each page. I haven't gotten there yet....more
See again: if you write a book about vaudeville, circuses, and/or burlesque, I will read it. Add magic and I'll probably be a fan for life.
Dean JensenSee again: if you write a book about vaudeville, circuses, and/or burlesque, I will read it. Add magic and I'll probably be a fan for life.
Dean Jensen's The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton: A True Story of Conjoined Twins is ostensibly a biography of probably the second most famous conjoined twins in history after Chang and Eng Bunker. Daisy and Violet were abandoned by their birth mother and taken in by a woman who allegedly saw nothing but profit with the girls, and whose management of them subsequently led to a huge career in vaudeville before their star faded and they died, destitute, working in the produce department of a grocery store.
Daisy and Violet's story is fascinating, and it's clear Jensen has spent an enormous amount of time researching the twins; many of the photographs in the book are from the author's personal collection.
But however fascinating their story is, the book itself reads exactly as you'd expect the book of a rabid fan to read: disjointed and often veering into what appears to be historical fiction. Jensen presents everything as fact, even where it may be conjecture, and often hops back and forth in the timeline. Imagine an acquaintance who's excitedly telling a story and then repeatedly interrupting herself to say "Oh, but did I tell you about this part?" and you'll have a good sense of the narrative structure here.
Still, this is a fascinating, if sad, story, and the writing is worlds ahead of Jensen's Queen of the Air, which I found myself unable to get through at all....more
Give me a book about a circus, burlesque, or vaudeville and you've lost me for at least a few days.
I was thrilled to get a chance to read ()and revieGive me a book about a circus, burlesque, or vaudeville and you've lost me for at least a few days.
I was thrilled to get a chance to read ()and review) an ARC of Juliette Fay's upcoming The Tumbling Turner Sisters, about a family of four sisters who, at their mother's behest, take to vaudeville with their tumbling routines to earn money when their father is injured and unable to work.
::: The Good Stuff::
Fay has very much done her homework. She references actual vaudeville houses of the late 1910s and early 1920s while weaving in the impact of historical events on the characters without slowing the narrative. Issues like women's suffrage, Prohibition, and racism are part of the sisters' lives, but not placed at the forefront of the story, giving a rich and nuanced realism to the novel. Adding to that realism are small moments of importance presented in a historically plausible manner and an unflinching look at the bigotry of the era.
The very best thing is how Fay manages to create characters who avoid the too-perfect and anachronistic revulsion at era-typical prejudices while giving them an open-mindedness that keeps them likable: a young man incensed at a woman's desire for the vote confronted with the idea that an intelligent woman could be more than a housewife and mother; a white woman surprised by the fact that offering a hand to a black man was the same as any other person, acknowledging both internalized and societal racism.
Bits of humor and historical believability make this a great read.
:: The Not-So-Good Stuff ::
The most frustrating thing about reading this book is that, but for two overarching issues, it would have been stellar. The first is that the character of Ethel Turner -- the mother of the sister act -- veers so far into Mama Rose territory that I couldn't picture her as anyone but Ethel Merman. They share the name. Ethel (the character) orders her girls to do whatever it takes. Controls their careers and their money. Tries to move them up in the vaudeville circuit. Has a henpecked man (her husband, the girls' father) who does whatever she tells him to. Even writing this review, I still have "Everything's Coming Up Roses" in my head.
The second issue is the dual POV (point of view) narration. I'm normally a huge fan of getting into more than one character's head, and am partial to this style of storytelling. The issue here, however, is that the two POVs are two of the sisters, and this style usually lends itself to characters on opposite sides: of an issue, of a relationship, of the story. There often wasn't enough of a distinction between the sisters (one bold and driven, the other bookish and a "good" girl) to keep them straight. There were several times when I found myself flipping back to the beginning of a chapter or looking for a dialogue tag to remind myself which sister's POV I was reading, especially when they were in a group scene, and I wish there'd been a larger distinction between their voices.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable read, and I'd recommend it to anyone as obsessed with the live entertainment era....more
I want to say I loved this book. I want to say it was amazing and transcendent and everything a dystopian should be.
I waited a while to review it, becI want to say I loved this book. I want to say it was amazing and transcendent and everything a dystopian should be.
I waited a while to review it, because the overall terror of Station Eleven is all too visceral: the idea that a virus could sweep through the world and take out a majority of the population is more real than any zombie attack or Hunger-Games-like societal takeover.
And the characters are people you can identify with, portrayed so vividly that you feel like you know them. You grow attached. You care what happens to them.
The problems, however, are clay feet here. In a world with so few survivors, the interrelation between them all revealed at the conclusion is both painfully obvious early on and far too pat. I found myself humming the them to "It's a Small World" several times. And I was distracted at several points with the gaps in the plot. Dystopian novels rely on a certain basis in reality. And while attention was paid to details like the lack of dental care, none was paid to the harsh winter weather in the parts of the world the story is set in. How on earth did these people survive for decades? The lack of big-picture practicalities was a frustration; had the story been set closer to the equator, perhaps, I'd have been less distracted.
In the end, the overall theme will stay with readers long after the ending, but this isn't a book I'd beg others to read, or even return to myself....more
There are a lot of people who are going to be shocked with my review, and I'm okay with that. I often wish I read some of these huge books at the sameThere are a lot of people who are going to be shocked with my review, and I'm okay with that. I often wish I read some of these huge books at the same time other people read them, when I'd have had less baggage, knew less about the books/authors (like that this one has a sequel coming), had read fewer books.
I definitely shouldn't have read this on the heels of Dumplin'.
First, let me get this out of the way: of course I cried at the end. You'd have to be absolutely soulless not to have cried at the end. But at the same time, I felt utterly manipulated.
While the emotion of this book is stunning in its intensity, it is also extremely heavy-handed. I had no doubt from the moment Will's big plan was revealed how the book was going to be ending. There was no anticipation of a last-minute plot twist; it felt as if it was plodding along to its inevitable (and heart-stopping) conclusion.
And therein lies one of the problems.
It's obvious Moyes can write. Shit, she can write the pants off a lot of people. The visuals are amazingly clear, and this is a book that's hard to put down as a result of the way the words are crafted.
But the story itself is full of tropes and is so frustrating, I wanted to take a giant red pen to it. LESS OBVIOUS HERE. KEEP THE READERS GUESSING.
I wish that there had been more, in some unquantifiable way. More agency on the part of Lou. Less waffling about waiting for the right man to tell her what to do with her life. (See again, bad move to read Dumplin' right before this.)
Overall, I'm frustrated by what this book could have been....more
So I first saw people raving about this book on tumblr as part of the Reblog Book Club.
And I sort of ignored it.
It's not that I don'tWow. Just... wow.
So I first saw people raving about this book on tumblr as part of the Reblog Book Club.
And I sort of ignored it.
It's not that I don't trust people on the Internet, but, well, I don't trust people on the Internet, and I heard dystopian YA and checked right out.
Until it went on sale and I thought I'd give it a chance.
Without regurgitating the plot altogether, I can tell you it features a heroine who's pretty ordinary and doesn't end up being extraordinary other than that she takes charge of her life on her own terms. She doesn't save the world or start a revolution or end up pregnant with a vampmire's baby. She simply faces an untenable situation and says "I'm going to do something. I'm not sure what, but it's better than sitting here."
Is there romance? A little bit, but again, on her terms, and it isn't even a focal point of the book.
Best of all, Vivian is relatable. She's not biting her lip or looking in the mirror and telling herself she's ordinary while some hero swoops in to tell her she's anything but. She's sort of unlikable. She's not always the nicest person in the room. She makes mistakes and sometimes writes people off who aren't helping her with what she's doing.
That we get this amazing, imperfect heroine in a dystopian that feels more real than any other YA dystopian I've read, and in which greed, fanatical religion, and environmental issues play a huge role?
I can't recommend this book more highly. Total win....more
Reading Anything But Broken was pretty much an exercise in everything I learned in literary criticism: It's difficult to come to a book by authors youReading Anything But Broken was pretty much an exercise in everything I learned in literary criticism: It's difficult to come to a book by authors you are already a huge fangirl of.
New adult romance has not been a big winner for me -- mainly because most of what I've read seems to be the 20-something college student or college graduate finding herself through her vagina with a guy that any sane individual would be calling the cops on.
I can thankfully assure you that you will find none of that here.
Instead, the duo behind Joelle Knox has given us a really complicated relationship (Hannah's deceased older sister used to date Sean), and a heroine who really does need to find herself after growing up in a family that's never once allowed her to be herself, always having to keep up appearances.
It's interesting to read sex scenes written by two women who have created some of the most amazingly filthy things I've ever had the pleasure to read. They manage to capture the sweetness along with the sexiness.
Where it fell just a little short for me was in the pacing. It's probably the one thing I focus on the most when I'm reading, but it's easy to get frustrated as a reader when you know a climax is coming but you seem to keep waiting for it. I'd love to have seen a little less time spent on their developing relationship and more time spent on events toward the end, which seem too rushed....more
So obviously I can't review this because Bryn is a friend, but I can tell you that it's truly painful when you realize how much more talented your friSo obviously I can't review this because Bryn is a friend, but I can tell you that it's truly painful when you realize how much more talented your friends are than you.
It's also a delight to read a book you don't once want to take a red pen to. It's a rarity for me these days....more
For someone with as many anxiety issues as I have, I do read an awful lot of dystopian novels. I should stop.
The Gracekeepers is an intriguing premiseFor someone with as many anxiety issues as I have, I do read an awful lot of dystopian novels. I should stop.
The Gracekeepers is an intriguing premise: in the tradition of Waterworld, the future has the majority of people -- damplings -- living out on the water in poverty. Those still fortunate to live on land -- landlockers or clams depending on which group is referring to them -- are rich and apparently envied.
This book is ostensibly about the intersection of two women: North, a dampling traveling with a circus with her bear; and Callenish, a landlocker who's been banished to a tiny island to serve as a Gracekeeper, responsible for overseeing water burials and the traditions surrounding them.
There's an almost Atwoodian tenor or Logan's writing, which makes this a compelling read, but it ultimately paled in comparison to Atwood's own dystopian writings. I am rarely a fan of the "surprise" POV when a side character's motivations get their own chapter because the writer couldn't figure out a way to convey them in the limited POV chosen as the novel's structure, and they appear far too frequently here for me to give them a pass. (view spoiler)[(Of special frustration: the chapter in Callenish's mother's inner monologue. We get it. She's nuts. (hide spoiler)] When added on to the rushed, pat ending that could have been explored in way more depth and been a fantastic plot point rather than a near side note, this one became a good, if disappointing, read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It's a rare book that has me begging anyone I know in the industry for an advance copy, but I did with Erika Swyler's The Book of Speculation (and no,It's a rare book that has me begging anyone I know in the industry for an advance copy, but I did with Erika Swyler's The Book of Speculation (and no, I never did get my hands on one).
While I usually pay little to no attention to blurbs, the two on this book were significant for me: Katherine Dunn, who wrote one of my favorite books, Geek Love, and Sara Gruen, author of another of my favorites, Water for Elephants. It's also been compared to Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. All are decent comparable titles, but I'd also add in a dash of Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls.
That's a lot of books to compare this to, and often, that would mean a book is a pastiche of others that have come before it. Swyler manages to avoid that pitfall, however, and create a dense, rich story that blends favorite circus-themed books with a relatable hero and a Long Island setting that will feel familiar even to those who've never been to New York.
Where readers may be led astray is in the idea that this is a book about a circus. It's not. This is a story about a legacy passed down from generation to generation in a family that's been tied to the circus (and carnivals), but it's more a story of unintended consequences, of finding yourself in the sea of what's passed down from your family, of the smallness of the world and how interconnected we all are....more
**spoiler alert** I have no idea what I just read. None.
What I do know is that Julie Murphy has achieved the unthinkable: written a book both Regina S**spoiler alert** I have no idea what I just read. None.
What I do know is that Julie Murphy has achieved the unthinkable: written a book both Regina Small and I both love. This is no small feat, and has only previously been achieved by Christina Lauren, whose book was the freakin' RT Book Reviews book of the year.
Here's what I know (and I'm going to spoil this for you a little): Murphy has written a fat girl heroine who doesn't need to lose weight to find herself. Jennifer Freaking Weiner couldn't manage to do that.
I'm a fat girl with horrible teeth and a trashed digestive system from years of trying to be thin and pretty. I wish I'd had this book as a teenager. I'm thrilled there are girls out there who will have this book with them. I'm going to make every girl I know read this, fat or thin, pretty or not.
We are all beauty queens, goddammit, and thank you, Julie Murphy, for reminding us....more