"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing...more"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." (p. 96)
This book started out as a 3 stars book for me. I liked it but it felt like it was just so very slowly building up to something. Then the trial happened - and it became a 4 stars book. And the ending - well, this is definitely a 5 stars read. The books start out with introducing us to siblings Scout and Jem and their new friend Dill. We get to spend a couple of lazy summers with these kids and thereby Lee really sets the mood of this town with this slow start and by slowly letting Scout and Jem's father's job become more and more influential in the children's lives. It turns out that Atticus, their father, is defending a black man who is accused of raping a white girl. Atticus is called to defend this man - but he choose to really try defending this man and therefore he is suddenly looked down upon by almost the entire town. His children are teased in school and have a hard time accepting what other people say about their father. This small family is just the perfect family in their imperfect ways. Scout is a tomboy and loves her big brother and has a hard time accepting it when he starts to grow up and doesn't want to play with her and hang around with her like he used to. Along with the portrait of a peaceful town torn by racism and the portrait of a single father trying to balance the most important case in his work life with his home life, the book paints a portrait of a boy and a girl growing up and trying to come to terms with the world they live in. Atticus is a perfect father in so many ways. He understands his children, he doesn't always reveal everything he knows about what they have been up to, he is straight with them and is very focused on being the kind of Father they can look up to and be proud to because he did what he believed in and what he felt like he had to do. Everyone in this book just comes across as so very real. Their actions and emotions are spot on and they just jump off the page. I felt really drawn into this book and was so saddened by the way people can be towards each other just out of ignorance and fear. How hatred grows because of irrelevant differences like the colour of your skin. I work in a troubled neighbourhood and I work with integration and with helping people in getting to know each other and get along. The racism that surrounds this neighbourhood and the people in it are sometimes so shocking to me because I feel people should know better by now and not judge others because of the way they look. But then I see the people in the neighbourhood from the different ethnic groups just get along and I feel better. But the moment a conflict arises between two people from different ethnic groups - or different groups within the same ethnicity - it's like people gang up on each other and even though one of the persons involved is a person you dislike normally, you suddenly is on their side if the adversary is from another group. This is also what happened in this book - a respected black man has to go up against a white girl from a very low-life family and it is very clear who should be the winner in this trial. But to take the word of a black man against the word of a white woman and her family takes a lot of courage - and the question is whether the jurors has that courage. This was a powerful book. It takes place in the 30s in the South in the US - but it is unfortunately still relevant today. In some ways, it's sad that Harper Lee didn't write anymore books - on the other hand, if this was the one book she had in her, it was definitely worth it!(less)
There is so much to like about this book. It begins in such an intriguing way with the narrator/main protagonist looking back in such a way you immedi...moreThere is so much to like about this book. It begins in such an intriguing way with the narrator/main protagonist looking back in such a way you immediately start to wonder what has happened to her in her childhood. And when you slowly, slowly begin to figure out what's going on, you get more and more curious. Unfortunately, this again is a book where I found the concept so promising but the execution lacking. And it's a pity because I've really been looking forward to reading this particular book and the author in general. Kathy, the main protagonist, is the narrator and tells the story while looking back on her life at Hailsham School while she is in her final time as a carer and about to begin being a donor. Although I had a general idea of what this book was about, I enjoyed how it was slowly revealed what these terms actually means. Of course Kathy knows - but she hasn't always know exactly and therefore the author's way of revealing it really works. Now I can't talk much about this without giving away too much but to me this is the interesting part of the book and can be the base for a lot of very interesting philosophical discussion about the value of individuality versus the common good, utilitarianism, the value of human life, what makes a person, the value of learning, the role of art and creativity in creating wholesome individuals, and more. All this is so very interesting and I'm sure I could have some extremely interesting discussions with some of my friends about these subjects, based on this book. Unfortunately, the book itself didn't really work for me. The friendship between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy plays a huge role in this book and we follow their life, love and disagreements while they grow up at Hailsham, the sort of boarding school they live at, and how they leave it to face the real world and the lives they are chosen to lead. For me, the friendships and rather normal teenage lives they lead, filled a bit too much compared to the more interesting philosphical themes mentioned above. And the way the book is narrated means that Kathy is constantly saying 'this reminds me of the time when ... but before I tell you about that, I really have to tell you what had happened a couple of days before' and this got rather annoying as the book progressed. I didn't feel that much of a connection to any of the characters either so although it is a book that makes you think, it doesn't really make you care. I still recommend it - to some people at least - but to people caring for the intellectual parts of this book who are able to overlook that the other aspects of the normal reasons you read fiction (to enjoy yourself, to be swept away by the author's imagination, to meet some great characters and get involved in their story etc) are somewhat lacking. (less)
Let's start with the obvious. Yes, this is heavily influenced by C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and somewhat influenced by J.K. Rowling's Harry...moreLet's start with the obvious. Yes, this is heavily influenced by C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and somewhat influenced by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. Aslan has become two rams, The White Witch is The Watcherwoman, Hogwarts is called Brakebills etc. But the similarities are mostly surface only. Yes, the book is about a boy going to magical school and yes, he travels to a fantasy world reminiscent of Narnia, but Lev Grossman has managed to take this inspiration, run with it and create his own. Quentin Coldwater is bored with his entire life until suddenly one day he is handed an envelope containing the missing 6th book in his favourite fantasy series about Fillory. Quentin looses the note attached to the manuscript and when he tries to catch it, he ends up at Brakebills, a school for magic, where he arrives just in time to take an aptitude test. He is accepted and we follow him through his time at magic school, after graduation and finally we follow him to Fillory which turns out to be a real place and not just a story in a book. Brakebills is not a highschool - it's a college and this means that the main characters have an age where sex, drugs and alcohol plays a huge part and sexual tensions and alcohol-related problems play a big part in this story. Magic in this world is very hard work. You have to really apply yourself and study hard to be able to master it and a lot of factors influence the spell casting. When you finally master magic and graduate, you graduate to a real world where you have almost unlimited powers but nothing to use them for. I really liked this - because what are you do to as a practicing magcian in our real world? You need to find something to care about or you'll end up going crazy. Like the Chronicles of Narnia, the books about Fillory features a group of siblings travelling to Fillory to help out with various problems. These books play a huge part in the story and I was completely drawn in by the creatures from this series - the rams Ember and Umber, the Cozy Horse etc. While I really enjoyed this novel, there was a couple of loose ends throughout it and this is the reason for the 4 star rating. The character of Julia for instance flickers in and out of the story in a way that's not entirely satisfying. The Neitherlands is another thing - the way it works, seems like it's not completely worked through. I would also have liked the magic to be a bit more worked out and maybe the Fillory part of the book to have been longer. That being said, I was thoroughly enjoyed by this book and it threw a couple of curveballs I hadn't expected or in any way seen coming and Grossman managed to pull it all together and create a satisfying end that I'm sure I will return to.(less)
When I heard that Stephen King had written a novel about spousal abuse, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to read it and finally I got around to it...moreWhen I heard that Stephen King had written a novel about spousal abuse, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to read it and finally I got around to it. Did it live up to my expectations then? Well, yes and no. The book is about Rose and her husband. Rose stays with her husband, Norman as in Bates, for 14 years even though he is a abuser of the worst kind - he kicks her, hits her, bites her and even cause her to abort her child. And this is where we enter the story - when she's sitting on the floor feeling her baby bleed out of her and having her husband arrange the scene so it looks like an accident. The most unbelievable part of this scene is that she stayed with him for 9 more years. And all this King has told us by page 9! And so the stage is set. We know Rose as an abused woman and we know that Norman is a really, really bad guy. King manages to create the atmosphere of this marriage so well and just draws his reader in - but then King is a storyteller more than anything else. Rose does leave her husband and escapes to another city where we follow her try to get back on her feet, create a life, make friends and fall in love. But Norman is used to getting his way and is definitely not the man to just sit back and accept that his wife left him and took his ATM card - and he's a cop and knows how to track down people so soon he is on the hunt and not prepared to let anything get in his way. These parts of the book are excellent. Both Rose and Norman are so real and King manages to both write the woman on the run and the psychotic husband tracking her so well that you really feel you are inside their minds. And these parts completely lived up to my expectations - I knew King could do it and he delivered. But ... There is another part of this book that on it's own is quite good as well but in the end I didn't feel it added to the book and to the story of Rose and Norman. See, Rose buys a painting of a woman on a hill. This is not an ordinary painting. The first thing Rose discovers is that the picture changes and then she starts feeling the woman as a presence in her life who gives her courage to start living her life. This painting plays a huge part in Rose's road towards freedom - and in her ability to stand up to Norman. Even though I liked the parts with - and in - the painting, I still feel the book would have been better if King had solved the conflict between these two people in another way. I know, I know - this is Stephen King and this is what he does - but the realistic parts of this book was so powerful that he didn't need to go the supernatural way. Now if this was all that bothered me in this book, I would have given it four stars but there are unfortunately some things that really bothered me in the realistic parts as well. Rose knows her husband, he's a cop and he tracks down people for a living. Still, Rose only takes one bus away from him and even though she goes to a large city, it would have been wise to take another bus even further away. And when she knows he has tracked her to the city, why doesn't she get out of there, at least for a little while? I know we need a confrontation - but it just doesn't seem right. Also, the leader of the women's shelter - I just don't believe a woman in that position can be so clueless in some ways. She talks about battered women suffering form masochism arrogance meaning that they take blame and feel gulity for a lot of what happens around them - which they shouldn't because they need to learn a new way of seeing the world after being trapped in unhealthy relationships. But masochism arrogance is one thing - and an amazing term by the way - but reality is something completely different and she should be aware of the difference and at least take extra precaution to protect the women in her charge. Or at the very least answer her pager! I still enjoyed this book a lot - but these flaws are dragging my rating down although I would have liked to give it 3,5 stars. (less)
I've been waiting to read this for ages because I just needed to watch the last couple of episodes of Firefly and then I knew this one filled some gap...moreI've been waiting to read this for ages because I just needed to watch the last couple of episodes of Firefly and then I knew this one filled some gap between Firefly and Serenity. I finally watched the last of Firefly last night and it was so good, really loved the last episode. And then I immediately turned to this graphic novel. And well, it wasn't quite so good. There were some great lines where I could hear the characters saying them and sat chuckling just like I would have done if I'd watched an episode, but overall it didn't quite work for me. One of my favourite lines is when Mal calls Wash to get him to get Firefly ready for a quick takeoff and says: Looks like we'll be leaving this world a bit sooner than anticipated. I'd like that last statement to prove specific and mundane, not spiritual-like. As payment for a job, Mal and his crew goes to one of the worst battle fields from the war but something more than dead people lurks in the shadows ... More important, the novel gives some hints as to why Inara and Shepherd Book leave Firefly. There are some full-page illustrations of the characters and some of them are really good (Shepherd Book) while others are really bad (Simon). Overall, I again feel a bit let-down by the artists - sometimes I have to almost guess who a character is - and some of the action is kind of hard to figure out. But I really liked the introduction by Nathan Fillion!(less)
This volume consists of the original Earthsea trilogy and the fourth volume, published some 20 years later. I'll review each book individually below.
A...moreThis volume consists of the original Earthsea trilogy and the fourth volume, published some 20 years later. I'll review each book individually below.
A Wizard of Earthsea When I first started reading this book, I felt like this was one of those books that I should have read when I was younger. But when I read one, I found there to be more and more interesting in them and I think they are books that are worth reading both as teenagers and also as adults because they have something for several ages. We follow young Sparrowhawk from he is a very young boy who shows himself to have a great talent for magic. He proves himself very capable by saving his village. A wizard comes to take him with him to train him and he gives him his true name, Ged. Ged goes to wizard school and is taught everything that is necessary to become a wizard. But Ged is a proud boy and even though he is very talented and learns quickly, he thinks himself capable of great power and is unable to quite understand just how magic works and how careful you must be when using it. Ged shows off to prove his worth to another boy - but with dire consequences - and he recovers a very different person (which was good since young Ged was rather annoying!). Ged has drawn something into the world and he has to find it and destroy it, before it takes him over and wrecks havoc on the world. I loved the concept and the nature of the big bad and the way it is defeated, is so intelligent. I like how it isn't some normal world-shattering event or epoc villain of some sort that he has to face off against, but instead something he brought upon himself by lacking the proper knowledge and going against what he did know. I love the whole focus on the power of words and names and I think it stands out from (most) other fantasy because of this. In this book, a name is the most powerful thing and you can call beings to you and gain power over them, if only you know it's true name. So people don't tell their real name to others because thereby they give them power over them. "To change this rock into a jewel, you must change its true name. And to do that, my son, even to so small a scrap of the world, is to change the world." (p. 48) The whole focus on magic being dangerous and how you should be real careful with not using it too much because it can change the world, has a bit of chaos theory about it: If you does something to the weather in one place, it can affect the weather in a completely other place etc. I love how she differentiates between use and being: "When you know the fourfoil in all its seasons root and leaf and flower, by sight and scent and seed, then you may learn its true name, knowing its being: which is more than its use." (p. 26) This book has a lot of philosophy in it, a lot of room for debate and thought, and it is a different sort of fantasy because of this and because of the nature of the evil to be battled against, the evil that is inside us all. I was very impressed with Le Guin's way of doing this. And I really liked the little otak, Ged's pet, that at one time even rescues his life - but I'm always a sucker for small furry animals... 3 stars.
The Tombs of Atuan I loved how Ursula Le Guin took the same themes as in book one and elaborated on them in this volume. Since we're for the most part of this book was in another part of the world with no wizards, we got to get an outside look at the magic used in the first book. This book has kind of an Egyptian vibe to it, I thought. We follow the story of Tenar, a young girl who at the age of 5 is chosen to be The Eaten One, priestess to the Nameless Ones, and is taken from her parents to live in a temple. At the age of 6, she becomes Arha, the nameless ones, the Priestess Ever Reborn. Arha grows up in the temple, hard at work both doing physical labour and in constant training to be able to do all the various aspects of the life of a priestess to the Nameless Ones. She never questions her Gods but worship them and when she is 15 and is introduced to the huge set of caves and tunnels beneath the temple, she feels at home down there in the dark almost at once. But one day, there is suddenly light down there in the dark, and a man is poking around in the most sacred of places. Arha is drawn to him but doesn't know what to do with him so she shuts him in and she keeps him down there for a while in the dark and comes down to question him. He turns out to be a wizard - and of course it's Ged, the main character from the first book. Arha and Ged talk as often as Arha is able to sneak down there but when she tells others about him, suddenly he is in danger and she has to choose what to do. In the first volume, our focus was on the importance of names and how you gain power by knowing names. In this volume, our main character is stripped of her name at a a very early age and spends her entire youth worshipping the Nameless Ones. She is taught that wizardry is bad and is false knowledge, all pretend, and when Ged meets her, she is faced with a completely new way of seeing the world. For me, this one was better than the first one and it made the first one better by giving this contrasting view on the whole concept of the importance of names. Names are still important, so important that some beings have their names taken away. 5 stars.
The Farthest Shore Something is affecting the world in a strange way in this volume. Magic stops working, people stop caring about life and loose their lust for life. People stop remembering how things used to be - and dragons stop being able to speak and become just ordinary creatures. So something is seriously wrong in the world and who better to fix it than Ged who is now archmage? But Ged is getting older so he brings a young Prince along. Ged sees something in Arren even though he has no magic in him and together they go off searching for ... well, they don't really know but soon they are on the track of something. I didn't really feel the plot of this book was as strong as the other books and I didn't feel like Le Guin continued the discussions she developed in the two first book. Not that this book wasn't interesting. She has an ability to make her characters have some very interesting discussions so you kind of forget that maybe the plot isn't all that strong. In this book, there was a lot of focus on life and death issues. She is in no way the first to dive into the whole question about death defining life and death giving meaning to life in the way that you make different decisions because you know you are not going to live forever than you would if you knew you had all the time in the world. Death defines life, you could say. This is of course an obvious theme since Ged is nearing the end of his journey and Arren is just beginning his. I loved how dragons finally came to play a bigger role in this volume and I'm really impressed with the very dramatic scenes she created with these dragons. The scene with the dying dragon was very powerful and the entire idea of the dragons loosing their ability to speech also blew me away. 3 stars.
Tehanu In Tehanu, we re-connect with Tenar and Ged again. We're back where Ged trod his first wizard shoes and where Tenar has spent her life. She is now a widow taking care of a young girl, Therru, who was brutally raped and left to die in a fire and who is therefore badly scarred and handicapped. Since many people believe that you get what comes to you, people look down on her and on Tenar for taking care of her. Tenar is called to take care of Ged's first teacher, Ogion, when he is dying and in this she makes the wizard of Re Albi her enemy by speaking to him - and by being a woman. She stays at Ogion's and is here when Ged is returned by the dragon Kalessin after his adventures in the third book. Ged is by now a very different man, having lost his magic and having to carve out a new place for himself and figure out his new identity as a former wizard and one of the most powerful men. Eventually, both Tenar and Ged has to leave Ogion's place for various reasons and when they later on return, Tenar's new enemy, the wizard of Re Albi is waiting for her - and for them. And only Therru can help them - but what does this badly damaged girl hide inside? Again, Le Guin dives into important stuff here - and recurring themes. Once more we look at magic - but in this volume, we look at how cruel an instrument magic can become in the hands of the wrong. The darkness Ged fought in the third book, is once again raising it's head but this time Ged is somewhat powerless against it, having lost his magic. Therefore, this book is also a book about identity because Ged has to re-create himself since he has lost all he has worked with and fought for all his life - and the very thing that made him who he was. And now, he is - in a way - nothing. Identity also plays a role in Tenar's life who has lived her life as the wife of a farmer but once was a priestess and played a major role in huge world events. And of course we are wondering throughout the book who and what Therru really is. Gender also plays a role in this book with Tenar speaking her mind and this is what really drives the plot since the wizard of Re Albi is enraged by her obstinate refusal to bow down to him because of his being a man - but well, then he's lucky to have magic to use to get her to bow down. This is also a story of what's important in life - love, friendship and compassion. 4 stars.
I'm impressed with this entire series of fantasy. I don't feel the Tolkien influence that is almost always mentioned when you talk about fantasy - I rather felt that Le Guin was really original in her approach to fantasy and I feel that some of her ideas has been taken by later fantasy. She has a small grove where the wizards meet and which you can't find before you reach a certain level of skill and which feels like it's constantly moving - but maybe it's the entire world that moves around it. I feel this could be the inspiration for the tower of sorcery at Wayreth in the Dragonlance world which moves around and where the forest hides it from anyone who's not supposed to find it. Also, if a wizard changes into an animal for too long, he might not remember being a human being and will therefore stay an animal for the rest of his life. Terry Pratchett uses this same idea (for instance in Equal Rites. This is an impressive series of fantasy which deals with huge subjects - even though it's classified as being for young adults. It's very well written and I think it was a new type of fantasy and has inspired later fantasy writers. I like when fantasy at the same time is able to have an amazing story with wonderful and unforgettable characters and commenting on interesting subjects that are important to us all - and I think Ursula Le Guin scores high on all these parameters.(less)
At some point in most children's lives, they end up parenting their parents. This is most certainly the case for Vera and Nadia when their eighty-four...moreAt some point in most children's lives, they end up parenting their parents. This is most certainly the case for Vera and Nadia when their eighty-four years old father falls in love with a young woman from Ukraina. Valentina enters their lives with a whirlwind of trouble, accusations and domestic issues that the old man is no match for. Rather quickly it turns out that Valentina comes with her completely own agenda and she and her supposedly prodigy son turns out to be more than what the father expected and he is in no way capable of standing his ground. I felt for the old man who in his naivety actually thought that the young blond woman with the very big boobs would actually want a intimate relationship with him and that she wanted more than just getting into the West, that she also actually wanted to take care of him while he grew older and more feeble. I really liked this book while I was reading it. I was completely drawn in from the very beginning and really felt for these sisters trying to protect their father from this golddigger, still trying to come to terms with the death of their mother and also working on their relationships with each other which has been rather estranged after some inheritance issues after their mother's dead. It's a book about relationships - between fathers and daughters, parents and children, sisters, between new wives and 'old' daughters. And I thought the author did a remarkable job with these complex issues while at the same time keeping the book very light and easy to read. It felt so easy and went by so fast that you almost end up questioning whether it was as good as you felt while reading it or if it was just too breezy. All the cover blurbs are stressing the fact that this is a funny, enjoyable comic feast - but to me, it felt a lot more tragi-comic than comic. In the end however, I liked it a lot and I'm looking forward to reading more by this author. And don't even get me started on the father's book about tractors in Ukraina!(less)
"If it was in the paper, it was news. If it was news it went in the paper, and if it was in the paper it was news. And it was the truth." (p. 134). Wh...more"If it was in the paper, it was news. If it was news it went in the paper, and if it was in the paper it was news. And it was the truth." (p. 134). When Terry Pratchett is at his best, he takes something from the real world and puts it in the Discworld universe and watches what happens. In this book, it's journalism, free press and the news that are the subject of his scrutiny - and also how people in charge cope with these. This is a very succesful installment in the Discworld series since the humor in it doesn't come as much from the theme but from the Discworld itself and from the way, Pratchett writes - that is, he takes the subject very seriously (as much as it's possible to take this serious anyhow) and then add his wonderful twists and turns and his trademark way of using language and out of this comes a very good Discworld novel. The protagonist in this book is William de Worde. William is quite happy making a living by creating a newsletter for a few nobles who can afford it when he's run down by runaway press. This introduces him to a group of dwarves led by Goodmountain who has come to Ankh-Morpork to turn lead into gold. And so starts the Ankh-Morpork Times which soon gets of to a running start, not the least because of staff members Sacharissa and the vampire Otto. Initially, it's not a city which is easy to make a newspaper in, both because newspapers are non-existent at this point and because the population ... well, they don't care all that much about writing etc: "Ankh-Morpork people considered that spelling was a sort of optional extra. They believed in it in the same way they believed in punctuation; it didn't matter where you put it so long as it was there." (p. 28) But soon the city has not one, but two newspapers - the other being the Inquirer - and they start fighting over the news and what type of news to bring. One thing that is very important to the Discworld universe, is the city of Ankh-Morpork. Ankh-Morpork is a character in itself with the very polluted river, the watchmen who just asks people sneaking in at night if they're invading the city because 'they ought to know', the lack of a paid fire brigade because everyone know that if the firemen got paid, they would go around setting things on fire etc. This is the place where most of the Discworld books take place, it's the home of the Watch, the Unseen University with it's very cool library and librarian, it's where young wizards and witches come to make it and it's being ruled by the Patrician, a despot who knows everything about everything and who's another amazing character. The Patrician is heavily involved in the plot in this book since he gets arrested for trying to kill his assistant and flee the city with a lot of money. It takes a talking dog (Deep Bone) and all the skills of the Ankh-Morpork Times - and the lack of skills of the Watch - to figure out what really happened. Of course it wouldn't be Discworld, if there wasn't hints to philosophy. The vampire photographer Otto (who constantly dusts himself when he uses the flash!) has quite a few interesting philosophic points. "Haf you heard the theory that there is no such thing as zer present? Because if it is divisible, then it cannot be zer present, and if it is not divisible, then it cannot have a beginning which connects to zer past and an end that connects to zer future? The philosopher Heidehollen tells us that the universe is just a cold soup of time, all time mixed up together, and wot we call zer passage of time is merely qvantum fluctuations in zer fabric of space-time." (p. 224). Otto comes from Uberwald where the weather is kind enough to accentuate your words by providing thunder and lightning at appropriate places and although the weather in Ankh-Morpork isn't kind enough to do that, Otto is still one of my favourite characters in this book! Another interesting philosophical discussion is about letters and words and what happens with this new kind of creating words. For instance, if you use the same leaden letters to set the words of a God and then a cookbook - what does that do to the holy wisdom? Or to the pie? These leaden letters are a new way of getting words out there - and they are scary: "Put us together in the right way, they seemed to say, and we can be anything you want. We could even be something you don't want. We can spell anything. We can certainly spell trouble." (p. 56) There are also a couple of nods to popular culture - Pulp Fiction for instance when the bad guys talk about le sausage-in-le-bun and when one of them has the words 'Not A Very Nice Person At All' on his wallet. One of my favourite scenes in the book is when the Times offer a reward to find the Patrician's dog - and people come with all types of pets. If you teach a parrot to bark and paint DoG on it's side - is it then a dog? Another favourite thing was the man with multiple personalities who take a vote whenever something involves them all - a very democratic way of having a mental illness! All in all this was a book that saw Terry Pratchett at his best - introducing new characters alongside with known characters that we already love. And of course DEATH makes an appearance and when he does that, all is good in my private Discworld love affair.(less)
What would you do if you touched an ancient stone and it turned into something of a time travelling portal and you're transported 200 years back in ti...moreWhat would you do if you touched an ancient stone and it turned into something of a time travelling portal and you're transported 200 years back in time. Away from your husband and everything you know. This is what happens to Claire Randall when she touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles in Scotland while on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank. Claire finds herself suddenly in Scotland in 1743, a Scotland, where the English and the Scots are not on exactly friendly terms and everything is strange. After being almost raped by her husband's ancestor, the cruel Captain Jonathan Randall but escaping with the help of the MacKenzie clan, Claire has to try to find her way in this unknown world - and to find out who she can trust. To avoid being turned over to the English, Claire has to marry a young scotsman, James Fraser. She does so out of necessity but slowly, this young man wakens something in her and she finds herself in love with both her husbands. But James Fraser is a man with a past and a young scot with a price on his head, is not always the easiest spouse to live with - at least it guarantees that life doesn't get boring! But of course Claire is torn - should she stay with her new husband or should she go back to the boulders and try to find her way back to her own time. This is at the same time a very easy read, very straightforward and although it has a very slow-moving beginning, it really picks up pace later on and gets really interesting and turns into quite a page turner. Gabaldon covers both clan wars and politics, the feud between the English and the Scots, romance, witchcraft and medicine, torture, sex, rape and several other topics. This is not a book for the faint of heart - she details both the sex, torture and rape so you never not know what happened which also makes part of it rather tough to get through because the nastiness is so well developed. I liked the differences between the two time periods and how Gabaldon describes it by showing the difference between small aspects of every day life. Like how a husband treats a wife - and how he has the right to discipline both his children and his wife. Not something a woman from the 20th century is quite used to! I really like James and Claire both as individuals and as a couple - they both have flaws and make stupid decisions which they more often than not get to pay for. But they are real people, their lives seem real and the way they treat each is how real people do. They are well developed - as are all the characters in this book. The brothers Dougal and Colum MacKenzie who together lead the MacKenzie clan are very interesting and complex characters - as are the main villain in the book, Jonathan Randall, who is a extremely creepy fellow who only gets off on variations of SM sex. Again, there's a lot of sex in this book - only thing really bothering me about this is the fact that only the evil guy has homosexual tendencies (or more than tendencies). It didn't bother me while reading - it's only something I'm a bit annoyed with afterwards. But not enough bothered by to not pick up the next volume in the series. Oh - it also bothered me that the book ends with a preview of book 7...! Yes, I understand that book 7 has just come out, but come on - I've just finished book 1; I don't want to read a preview of book 7 yet - just give me a chapter or two from book 2 and I'm happy.(less)
Joyce Carol Oates has been one of my favourite authors for years now. Blonde was my first book by her and it was such an eye-opener for me. Her writin...moreJoyce Carol Oates has been one of my favourite authors for years now. Blonde was my first book by her and it was such an eye-opener for me. Her writing totally blew me away - and still does to this day. Her books are never easy, they are never nice and pleasant but they are important and interesting - and oh so well-written. She does this things with italics, telling us things her characters don't know, letting us know what the characters think when they look back etc. This is not her best book - but it's still very good. This is a book about a murder. A woman in town is strangled in her bed - the general opinion is that it's either by her husband or her lover. No one is able to prove that either man did it so the whole town just suspects one or the other - or both. These two men are actually really similar. Both are men who are used to getting what they wanted, laying down the law - and putting people in their places if anybody dares speaking up against them. Both men have kids. And these kids are the protagonists in this book. The woman's lover has a daughter and the husband has a son - who is also the son of the murdered woman. The books are split into three parts. The first part deals with the girl. We follow her from she's a young girl till she's a young woman. How it is to grow up under this suspicion, how her mother and father are divorced and how much she suffers from this. She loves her father - her drunken bullying father - even though she's scared of him. Oates details this so well. The second part is about the boy. He is a big boy, part Indian. He's the one who finds his mother lying killed in her bed. He's the one who has to live with the entire town suspecting that his father did it. He's the one who covered for his father and told police that he was home that night. Both kids have rather similar lives. They go through much of the same stuff and they know of each other, and later get to know each other under rather unfortunate circumstances. These separate but intertwining stories take up most of the book. We see how devastating the suspicion is for both children, how their and their families lives are ripped apart because of this - even though neither man is convicted. Then for the third part, the two go together to see an old acquaintance. A woman who might be able to shed some light on what happened all those many years before. Oates does what she does so well. She tells most of the events in the book in the first few pages but then she tells it again and again, each time with a little more depth, a little more detail - or from another point of view so we with each new retelling get a better understanding of what really happened - and who did it. The book jumps back and forth between the now and the then, with the added bonus of the characters' gained knowledge over the years. You have to be a really great reader to keep your readers captive when you basically reveal all in the first few pages - and she is. I would have been okay with never knowing who did it because the rest of the book and the writing was that good - even though I've read better by Oates. But of course, when you write at least a new novel each year, sometimes the books only get four stars. (less)
This is a sweet little book filled with nice pictures of pretty hamsters. It details how to care for and treat your hamster with focus on four areas:...moreThis is a sweet little book filled with nice pictures of pretty hamsters. It details how to care for and treat your hamster with focus on four areas: How to house your hamster, food and health, how to get to know your hamster and how to keep it in shape and happy. I really enjoyed all the pretty pictures - the hamsters just look so cute. And I liked the huge focus on keeping your hamster entertained and activated.(less)
Oh Jordan, Jordan, Jordan. You do test my patience! As much as I enjoy diving into your world and going on adventures with your characters, you still...moreOh Jordan, Jordan, Jordan. You do test my patience! As much as I enjoy diving into your world and going on adventures with your characters, you still test my patience. Now I do realise you're dead and what I write won't matter in the slightest, but come on. There are some things about this book - and so far every book in the series I've read - that need to be said. I'm not one who needs action-filled story lines to be happy. Nor do I need high-class literature in every book I read. And I do like long books. But come on - sometimes your writing gets almost ridiculous. There are not exactly loads of action in this volume - and when finally after 900 pages we reach the great battle, it takes about 20 pages or so, then we move over to another great battle for 20 pages and then done. And let's face it - not much happened in these 1000 pages. Perrin travelled back home together with Faile and fought a bit. Elayne and Nynaeve chased the Black Ajahs. Moiraine, Lan, Egwene, Rand and Matt travelled to the Waste, tried to fulfil some prophecies and fought a bit. That's about it. And don't get me started about your characterisations. It seems every time you mentions a person, a group of people, a place etc, you pick up your notecard - oh yes, Nynaeve tugs her braids (and when she hasn't got braids, she misses her tugging them), Perrin doesn't understand women, Matt gambles, the Tuatha'an are a very happy people who don't believe in fighting and wears clothes in insane colors. But all these things we know already - you tell us that each and every time these things appear - and it does get annoying, even when you don't read the books one after another. One good thing about the book is the part of the story which follows Min in the white tower. The happenings in the white tower that Min becomes a part of and involving Siuan Sanche was both interesting and surprising - at least I didn't see it coming at all. For most of the book I was going back and forth between 3 or 4 stars. In the end, I settled for 3 stars both because of the let-down I felt at the ending and because of Jordan's insistence on me not being able to remember who the characters are without constantly reminding me about silly small things about them.(less)
I had a bit of a difficult time becoming fully absorbed in this book - probably because I expected something different. I've heard of Wuthering Height...moreI had a bit of a difficult time becoming fully absorbed in this book - probably because I expected something different. I've heard of Wuthering Heights of course but I had Heathcliff pictured as the great romantic hero where he in fact is more the great Romantic hero, a character that made me thing of Edmund Burke's idea of the sublime and Caspar David Friedrich's paintings. His raw temper, emotions and energy enters everything and everyone in this book and all events and people are shaped by his constant love and possessive feelings toward Cathy Earnshaw.
As a young boy, Heathcliff is brought home by Mr Earnshaw as a brother to his own children, Hindley and Catherine. Catherine and Heatchliff gets along and run and play together like small wild animals, while Hindley dislikes him and when Mr Earnshaw dies, Hindley disowns Heathcliff and he has to work in the stables and the fields. On one of their escapades, Cathy is bitten by a dog belonging to their neighbours, the Lintons. Here she meets Edgar, the man whom she will eventually marry. When Heathcliff finds out, he disappears for two years but he eventually comes back and becomes the master of Wuthering Heights. His return unravels Cathy and with her, the entire Linton family as Edgar's sister Isabella thinks herself in love with Heathcliff and flees with him. Heatchliff's passion poisons everything around him - even the next generation ... But even though Heathcliff plots and plots, maybe love will survive some day in spite of Heathcliff's attempts at forcing his will.
The story is cleverly told by Cathy's old nanny, Ellen Dean to Mr Lockwood, Heathcliff's new tenant, after he has visited Wuthering Heights and is shocked by the relationships between the people, he meets there.
It's an extremely powerful story with some powerful characters that makes all the other characters dance at their slightest wish. Cathy and Heatchliff are two characters that will stay with every reader for a very long time.
I think this book is one that will benefit from being re-read. I think part of the reason I gave it three stars was that my expectations got too much in the way of too much of the book. But now, I know what to expect and I think it will definitely grow on me.
Edit: Well, it's been almost two months since I finished this book and afterwards I've watched the movie starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes and liked it and I've found myself going back to these people again and again, I just keep thinking about them. And because of this continuing surfacing of these characters in my mind, I've decided for once to change my rating from 3 to 4 stars. (less)
To that which you tame, you owe your life. When I was a kid, my father had owls in some small aviaries in our garden. I remember the great horned owls...moreTo that which you tame, you owe your life. When I was a kid, my father had owls in some small aviaries in our garden. I remember the great horned owls the best but since then I've been fascinated by all kinds of owls - and it's kind of a family thing that I'm trying to pass one to my daughters as well. And so far my oldest daughter - at two years old - loves her owl pajamas! So when I heard about this book about a woman living together with an owl for 19 years, I was intrigued. And very fittingly, I got the book as a gift from my parents. Unfortunately, although I went into this with all the hopes in the world, I was disappointed. This is a book about Stacey O'Brien and Wesley, the barn owl she was lucky enough to get when he was just 4 days old and then take care of till he died at the ripe age of 19. We really get to know Wesley and the stories of his antics are amusing and endearing. I loved when Stacey told of their relationship and of the things Wesley did, both typical and atypical for barn owls. I loved how he developed a love of water and wanted regular baths. It was so amusing reading about how Stacey had to fight him off when taking showers and baths before they figured out a way to enable him to take baths also without catching a deadly cold - it helped when he learned to accept being blowdried! When Stacey gets Wesley, she's kind of momma bird to him. She takes care of all his needs and tries to teach him, just like his mother would do in the wild. But somewhere along the way, Wesley reaches sexual maturity and chooses Stacey for his mate. And let's just say, any doubt about whether Wesley really was a male owl, is quickly resolved. But I would have liked a deeper look into how he can make this switch - from her being the one taking care of him to suddenly him building nests for her and desperately trying to get her to eat the mice he tries to feed her. "Wesley and other owls are emotional and show their feelings. They are intelligent and communicate their thoughts in creative ways that we don't always recognize. In fact, many of the higher animals are not really that different from us, they are just 'other." (s. 190) I really liked reading about Wesley trying to learn to fly - and land - and how he turned and faced the wall when Stacey laughed at him afterwards. It's always difficult with these types of books when the author then writes that Wesley felt ridiculed when she laughed at him. It's easy to wonder if the author reads too much into things - we aren't there, we only read her description and of course her description is influenced by how she interprets the situation. For me, I'm willing to believe that Wesley loved his baths even though it's not normal for a barn owl, that he felt something at least when she laughed at him falling clumsily around and I'm all for accepting that animals are not just instincts - or some kind of ticking clock, as Descartes thought. Of course not. But for one not already feeling this way, I don't think this book will convince them that owls - and birds - are capable of emotions. Even though the fact that owls mate for life and if they loose their mate, they can will themself to death within much shorter time than it would take for to starve themselves to death, is a beautiful testament to the fidelity of owls - and that they are capable of more emotion, than we may think. My big issue with this book is that it just felt too uneven. It felt like the story of Wesley couldn't fill the entire book and then the author hadn't quite worked out what she wanted to fill the rest of the book with so she put all kinds of stuff in it. The facts about barn owls - and other owls as well - are appropriate and fitting but although I found it interesting that if a snake is cold and is fed a mouse, the snake can't defend itself against the mouse and instead the mouse can actually eat the snake while it's still alive! Although I kind of feel this is the revenge of the mice, this and other facts about other animals throughout the book did feel like page filling at times. Also, some parts of the book was more about Stacey's life and her career, lovelife, illness etc - and not all of this quite fitted in the book - at least not the way it was presented. Also, on several occasions she compares Caltech to Hogwarts - and while the comparision is fitting when you see at all the owls flying around at both places, once was enough. In the Acknowledgments, Stacey mentions that this is her first book and for her best friend, it's her first editing job - and maybe that's the problem with this book. And it's such a shame - Wesley's story in itself is worth reading and unfortunately this book is not as good as it could be. It's still worth the time because Wesley is such a character and the love and trust between Stacey and Wesley clearly shine through throughout the book but it could have been so much better! I'll leave you with some of the facts about barn owls that I was most fascinated with. - the father owl is the one doing all the hunting. An owl pair typically gets 5 owlets and to feed them and himself and the mother, the father has to catch 37 mice. Each night! - barn owls have to eat the whole mouse. Otherwise, they will die slowly from blood poisoning. - a barn owl can digest a whole mouse in an hour. - their ears are irregularly placed on their heads and thereby enabling them to create a map of their surroundings by auditory means.(less)
This was a disappointment! Serenity Vol. 1: Those Left BehindSerenity Vol. 1: Those Left Behind, the first Firefly/Serenity graphic novel was okay, no...moreThis was a disappointment! Serenity Vol. 1: Those Left BehindSerenity Vol. 1: Those Left Behind, the first Firefly/Serenity graphic novel was okay, not fantastic, but okay and it answered some questions. This one, not so much. Apparently, this one takes place between Firefly and Serenity but before Serenity Vol. 1: Those Left Behind. The story focus on what would happen if the Firefly crew suddenly got rich, very very rich, and what they would use the money on. I loved River's twisted Snow White dream - and how Shepherd Book fools everyone. But other than that, and of course a few great Joss Whedon lines, not much to get out of this one. Especially because the last part, where a (former?) Alliance guy chases Browncoats who were terrorists, are so confusing that I didn't get much of what really happened ... Overall, it leaves more questions than it answers... What's up with Simon and Inara for instance? But again a great introduction by one of the stars from the show, Adam Baldwin.(less)
After finishing Little Women, I dove straight into Little Men, the second volume of the series. Little Men continues some years after Little Women lef...moreAfter finishing Little Women, I dove straight into Little Men, the second volume of the series. Little Men continues some years after Little Women left of and details the life of Jo as she and her husband runs a school for young boys. This is a charming book, almost as charming as Little Women but not quite. It also lacks the depth of the latter and reads more like a series of short stories detailing the lives of the boys attending the school. I really liked Dan, the young wild boy who has experienced so much hurt and neglect and who has a hard time adjusting to the rules of the school even though Jo tries her hardest to love and help him along with the love of her baby son Teddy. I also liked Nat, the young musical prodigy. Even though I liked the stories, I felt like the book lacked a lot in living up to what I've come to expect after reading Little Women. I missed a lot of the important characters from the first book because although they appeared in this book as well, they only played rather small parts, sort of only an attempt to add some of the original flavour. Although this is a cosy read and I recommend it for anyone enjoying Little Women, I don't think I will read this again even though I will probably read Little Women again.(less)
One well-known Danish female journalist invites three famous women to Italy to talk about being a mother with everything this entails. They talk about...moreOne well-known Danish female journalist invites three famous women to Italy to talk about being a mother with everything this entails. They talk about how to raise children, sex, grand parents, infedility, divorce, differences between boys and girls and other subjects related to being a mom and having children. This is a conversation book and such books of course depends on the people participating and their chemistry. The three women are interestingmand very different. One is a former professional handball player, one is a self-taught tv host and business woman and the third is mærked to the former prime minister of Denmark. They are different ages, have different experiences and attitudes and although I dislike the prime minister's wife, I can see why she was chosen. But the potential for great conversations are definitely there. But a good conversation book also needs a great writer who also need to be able to get the talk going and get the participants talking about things in a way so you feel you ger underneath their skin and really get go know them. And in this book, this is lacking. The writing is poor - especially in the introductions to each chapter - and it is not made any better by a lot of mistakes with words misplaced in sentences and similar issues. This book really needed an editor! I didn't feel they really got into the hard conversations and some subjects were treated very superficial. The book was okay - but it could have been so much better. (less)
This is the first Neil Gaiman book I've read - until now I've only read the Death graphic novels and some of the Sandman graphic novels. I don't know...moreThis is the first Neil Gaiman book I've read - until now I've only read the Death graphic novels and some of the Sandman graphic novels. I don't know if this is the right place to start with reading Gaiman novels but this is my start and I'm glad it was. The Graveyard Book is a children's novel about a young boy who grows up in a cemetery. The novel starts with a man walking up some stairs after having killed a young girl and her parents. The man is on his way to kill the only remaining member of the family, a toddler. But the toddler is not in his crib - he woke up, got bored, used his teddy bear to crawl out of the crib and when he got down the stairs (dropping his nappy on the way), he went out of the house and went up to the graveyard. I loved the description of this small boy and his determined way of eliminating his boredom by just leaving his crib and going out on adventures and from this early moment, I was in love with this book. When the boy enters the graveyard, he is met by various dead people who helps him escape the murderer. After some debate, the boy is granted the Freedom of the Graveyard, he is 'adopted' by Mr and Mrs Owens, named Nobody and a whole new life begins. The book follows Nobody - or Bod, as he is called - through his growing into a young man, visiting him every couple of years in a series of short stories detailing various adventures, friendships and episodes involving witches, ghouls, hounds of God night-gaunts, school - and finally in a stand-off against the man, who wanted to kill him when he was still a toddler. This is an amazing book, a wonderful children's book. And even a book that you can get a lot of enjoyment out of as an adult reading it. It was a 5 stars read most of the way - only thing dragging it down and taking the last star was the ending, which I thought was a bit too easy. (less)
The Sorrow Vaporizer. The premise of this book was so promising that I just had to read it, even though I don't read a lot of novels by Danish authors...moreThe Sorrow Vaporizer. The premise of this book was so promising that I just had to read it, even though I don't read a lot of novels by Danish authors - and then mostly read books that are very popular, by well-known authors or that people are talking about. This one is a first novel by a young female author and although it has gotten great reviews, it isn't one of the big books of it's year - which is actually a shame. The book has it's flaws - basically it's just a story about a man suffering a huge blow and then trying to come to terms with it and figuring out what's important in life. But the great thing of it all is that he works as a 'sorrow vaporizer', he helps people deals with their sorrow. Now the really brilliant thing about this book is that people's sorrow sometimes manifest itself as an animal and then our main protagonist, Thor Moslav, helps people deal with their animals. When the book starts, a man is killed by his sorrow animal. This animal is a huge elephant that has been vaporized to a baby elephant. Now this elephant is young and playful - and therefore not quite trustworthy. The death is ruled as an accident but still Thor Moslav is blaimed for the death and becomes the subject of a lot of harsh critique in the medias. This causes him to loose some of his patients and for the first time, he starts to question his work and his abilities. The story itself is nothing special but the idea of the sorrow animals are amazing and the various patients with their animals are so great. How the animals sometimes hurt the people but at other times they become an important part of people's lives, in fact count as pets or even more than that. I really like the idea of this. I wish that sorrow did manifest itself like that - would be nice having something tangible to deal with, something that over time would become a huge positive thing in your life. What is especially great about this idea is, that sorrows work this way. They hurt people in various ways - feels like a great burden sitting on your chest, preventing you from breathing for instance - just like a gigantic bird would feel it it was sitting there. Sorrows are changed over time - like an enormous elephant being changed to a baby elephant as the sorrows grows lighter and like sorrow gets more unpredictable over time. But over time most sorrows get more manageable - like a great big wolf turned into a terrier. This was a very easy and light read and because of this whole idea, very enjoyable. I hope that it gets translated so more people can enjoy this small book. (less)
Yes, this is what the title says. Cheeta, the chimpanzee from the old Tarzan movies, wrote his own autobiography - although it's as much about Johnny...moreYes, this is what the title says. Cheeta, the chimpanzee from the old Tarzan movies, wrote his own autobiography - although it's as much about Johnny Weissmuller as it's about Cheeta. Cheeta tells his life story from he was a young chimp captured in Africa, his movie career until his time as an old, retired chimp spending his time visiting hospitals and the like. For me, this was a strange book. I enjoyed the intro note where Cheeta talks about his problems arriving at a title since all the good ones was already used and how he finally settled on Cheeta inspired by Katherine Hepburn's autobiography Me: Stories of My Life. But then the real book started and throughout it, I had problems with Cheeta's voice. I felt it switched between being naive and sarcastic in a way that just didn't work for me. The book is in some ways written in support of the 'No reel apes' campaign (a campaign trying to stop the use of apes and monkeys in movies). But at the same time, Cheeta did enjoy his movies, the dreams as he calls them, and he enjoyed his cigarettes, drinks and drugs... No ape, if your campaign has it's way, will ever again have the opportunity to enjoy a career in showbusiness, with all its attendant delights? You're just going to take that hope away from the hundreds of thousands talented young apes who'll suddenly find themselves with no parts whatsoever to go up for? For nine-tenths fo the apes you meet, acting, or the long-term survival strategy of celebrity in general, represents their best chance of an escape from the grind of everyday existence. (p. 141) Another example is a time when he's hanging out with Errol Flynn and where Flynn is going to watch a dog fight - and where Cheeta thinks that Flynn wants to stop the fight and save the dogs and we of course knows that Flynn and his friends were the ones making the dogs fight... I do get that Cheeta is an unreliable author in the way that he views his life and time in showbusiness as mostly good while we as readers are aware that it wasn't good at all because we can read between the lines and therefore see that Cheeta was abused, neglected and mistreated in every way. But his voice just didn't quite work for me. However, this book still had it's enjoyable passages. I liked reading about Johnny Weissmuller and his relationship with Cheeta as well as all the other Hollywood stars from the 30s and 40s (David Niven, Errol Flynn, John Barrymore, Marlene Dietrich, Maureen O'Sullivan ...), I liked being reminded of the fantastic old Tarzan movies with the one and only true Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller. And Cheeta's life story is interesting - and interesting enough for me to google a bit after finishing the book. It turns out that there's not one Cheeta - Cheeta was played by several different chimps and the Cheeta in the book as well is pieced together by several different chimps. I actually believed in there being only one Cheetah and I thought the facts in the book was correct - and now I of course doubt the whole thing... It does seem, however, that the Johnny Weissmuller facts are true and he comes across as a very sympathetic man. And the last time Cheeta and Johnny meet each other is heart breaking and beautiful. But overall I'd expected more from this book.(less)
This book covers it all. From the history of the hamster and how to choose your own hamster, daily care and also showing, breeding and health problems...moreThis book covers it all. From the history of the hamster and how to choose your own hamster, daily care and also showing, breeding and health problems. The authors have a lot of experience they have used in writing this book and this combined with a few anecdotes about various hamsters they've owned, make this an enjoyable read as well as informative. I didn't read the entire A-Z of hamster diseases or every aspect of the breeding guides since they both are sections you turn to when the need arises.(less)
I'll have to start this review with a confession. See, when I was a teenager, I read a bunch of Barbara Cartland books. I loved the romance of them an...moreI'll have to start this review with a confession. See, when I was a teenager, I read a bunch of Barbara Cartland books. I loved the romance of them and read them quite a few times - until I got tired of reading the same basic story over and over. And then I read just one more because it took place in parts in Copenhagen - but it also has exactly the same story as the others, and then I gave her up. This book is also a romance - but it didn't feel as much as a guilty pleasure read to be embarrassed over because of the romance taking place in a steampunk urban fantasy world with werewolves, vampires and ghosts and with the romance being only part of the action. So I settled down for a nice, quick read with cool inventions, romantic interludes, fast action and humour. And that was exactly what I got. Soulless is the first in a 5-book series about Alexia Tarabotti, a young spinster in Queen Victoria's England (London). Now Alexia is - of course - not your normal spinster, she's in fact the only soulless in London and as such able to neutralise the supernatural aspects of werewolves and vampires, she can make them human as long as she touch them. The book starts out with a bang with a vampire rudely trying to bite her without having been introduced first, having asked permission - and without knowing what she is. Soon it's discovered that both vampires and werewolves are disappearing and Alexia gets more and more involved in the investigation - as well as more and more involved with the leader of the investigation, Lord Maccon. Now, there was a few things I didn't like about this book and that most definitely keep it from getting five stars. First of all, I disliked the constant reference to Alexia being of Italian origin and therefore having a darker complexion, a bigger nose and a dark wavy unruly hair. In parts of the book, especially in the beginning, it felt like this had to be pointed out to us every few pages and it didn't feel quite in character that Alexia - being otherwise very resourceful and able to see through the shallowness of her family - herself places such a huge importance on this. Secondly - the romance. Now, I know I started this review with saying I used to like romances. But that's exactly it. I used to like them. And I liked this one in the beginning but then it just got to repetitive. When the romance first got started, every encounter between Alexia and Lord Maccon were the same and Alexia had the same doubts every time it was over. Again, this didn't feel quite in tune with the rest of her character. And thirdly, I was disappointed in the author not doing more about the soulless-ness. When you're soulless, you have the ability to negate the supernatural parts of beings, ie. turn a vampire human so he can see the sun for instance. But on a personal level, apparently it only means that you have no morals and that you have no taste in clothes... Alexia gets told at age 6 that she is preternatural, that she has no soul, and that "/.../ words like I and me were just excessively theoretical for [her:]." She still has an identity however. In philosophy, the questions of what a soul is and do we have it, personal identity, what does it mean to be a human being, are we more than just animals and how to explain morals and what to base our ethics on, are some of the most enduring and important questions - and the author could have done so much with this and really made the book into something more than just a fun romp. Instead she just lets 6 years old Alexia read some Greek philosophy dealing with reason, logic and ethics to get an alternative to her not being able to have morals because of lacking a soul, and that's it. Afterwards, the only real problem with lacking a soul is the lack of taste - which just means she wears the latest fashions but still is able to criticise her friend's hats... I really wish the author had chosen a different way of using this because the idea in itself is worth so much more! I really liked the various characters however, especially Alexia herself, Lord Akeldama, professor Lyall and others. And I liked the differences between werewolves and vampires and how werewolves live in packs with an alpha male, whereas the vampires live in hives with a queen. So all in all, I really enjoyed this read and it was just as enjoyable and easy to read as one expect from this type of book.(less)