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