Until 3 days ago, I had 1500 books on my Goodreads bookshelves. Until one month ago, I was passionate about Goodreads, an evangelist, really, telling...moreUntil 3 days ago, I had 1500 books on my Goodreads bookshelves. Until one month ago, I was passionate about Goodreads, an evangelist, really, telling everyone I knew - who loves books (and there are a diminishing number of those people in my life, sadly) about the amazing community that I had found here on Goodreads.
This is not a protest review. But it is an off-topic review, although I will get to the point sooner or later.
But I came to Goodreads precisely for the off-topic reviews. For the friendships. For the occasionally over-the-top snark and the silliness and the passion. But mostly because the people that I found here were like me in one extremely unique way. There are a lot of people who enjoy reading. There are a lot of people who profess to love books. There are commensurately fewer people who read widely, and wildly, and with a great consuming fury that causes them to recall their lives in books.
I remember that I read The Portrait of a Lady on my honeymoon. It was the Penguin classics edition, with the black spine, and I still have it sitting on my bookshelf. I read it next to a pool in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and the cover is still rippled where my new husband splashed me in an effort to get me to stop reading and join him at the swim up bar (I did. And this was the first in many years of my husband splashing, poking, tickling, teasing and otherwise attempting to pull my attention away from whatever book I was reading).
I remember that I read The Game of Thrones on a cruise. This, too, was in the pre-kindle days, before I could take an entire bookshelf with me everywhere (and what a luxury that turned out to be). I was going away for a week, and I didn't have a lot of space to pack, and cruise ship libraries are, in my experience, pretty bleak places, full of novels written by Nicholas Sparks and little else. In a moment of inspiration, I packed the first three, bricklike paperback editions of GRRM's epic series, concluding that they would keep me busy for the entire week, while only taking up the space of three paperbacks. I was right. It worked a treat. Except, of course, for the part where I finished the books on the sixth day, leaving me with one lonely, bookless, day to spare.
That is what I found on Goodreads. I found my people. People who, when they pack for vacation, pack their books first and decide which clothes to take second, based on how much (little) space is left in the suitcase. People who are always reading, and talking about reading, something.
I have 1100 books on my home kindle account, and another 450 on a bookclub account I share with friends. I have bookshelves full of books at home, at least another four to five hundred books in print form that are waiting for me to read. I could probably read for a full decade and never buy another book (not that I will, but I could). I am not on Goodreads because I need book recommendations. My entire non-professional brain capacity is given over to books, and authors, and publishers, and random ephemera about all three of them. I can find my own books.
So, what was I here for? I was here for the off-topic. For the stories. For the conversations. For the crazy. For the people who loved, like I did, Trixie Belden. To talk about books that I read long ago and that stole my heart.
Like this one. That is where Christy comes into this off-topic review. This is a book that I read long ago, when I was a girl, before I went off to college. It was a library book, that my mother, of all people, checked out because it was a book that she had loved, and she wanted to share it with me.
I wanted to turn up my nose at it - I was a teenager after all, and very, very edgy. And my mother and I were at a rough patch in our relationship. I wore Ray-Ban sunglasses, and skinny jeans with zippers at the ankle, and black (lots and lots of black), I spoke bad high school French. I was insufferable, pretentious, caught up in my own intellect, and I saw little in my mother - doctor's wife, stay-at-home mom - to emulate. God, what a little bitch I was.
And this book was about a Christian girl who goes to Appalachia to teach. There was no reason that this book should have worked for me. And yet, it did. It enraptured me, and I stayed up all night reading it. And even as snotty, and edgy, and obnoxious as I was, I saw the look in my mom's eyes when she asked me if I liked it, and I couldn't lie to her and break her heart, and I admitted that yes, yes I did like it. I liked it a lot, and I thanked her for giving it to me. And we hugged, and some of the tension between myself and my mother, in those very difficult years between childhood and adulthood melted away with that little bit of common ground. From a book. This book.
That's all I have to say.
Except that I'm sad because Goodreads is different now, and this review is off-topic, and off-topic is no longer allowed.
I was witness and, mostly, observer to this book's creation. This was a tremendous amount of work, the burden of which fell disproportionately on a fe...moreI was witness and, mostly, observer to this book's creation. This was a tremendous amount of work, the burden of which fell disproportionately on a few of the - other - active contributors. It was my sense in watching the process that the moving forces behind it persevered out of a sense, not of spite, but of sadness and loss.
I suppose that it was inevitable that the Goodreads debacle would end in a book. There is a fearful symmetry to that, really.
This book will be interesting primarily to people who are grieving that yet another public space is lost to commerce. In a world where corporations are king, and money is speech, I suppose that it was inevitable that this place, too, would become just another space to market books written by people who clearly don't read, and can't really write, to readers who just want to be left alone to read and talk about books in peace.
The contributors to this book know how to write. And they are passionate about reading.
“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” ― Madeleine L'Engle
Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book from an author. It was a no-strings attached sort of a thing, and there was no agreement that I would revie...moreDisclosure: I won a free copy of this book from an author. It was a no-strings attached sort of a thing, and there was no agreement that I would review this book at all as a part of the giveaway. In addition, I was very excited about the release of this book because the author is someone I follow here on Booklikes, so I had read various excerpts from the book before getting my hands on it (digital hands, really) and it looked fantastic.
I was not disappointed.
I'm going to witter on for a bit about myself, to explain what kind of a reader I am. I have read a lot of historical fiction, including the grand dame of English historical fiction, Sharon Kay Penman, and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Both of these writers primarily write in a period that is quite a bit later than the period chosen by Mr. Hayes for his novel, but they - Penman in particular - are well known for the quality of their research and writing.
I am not tremendously knowledgable about the English Middle Ages and am definitely not reading as a scholar. However, I am pretty picky about obvious errors and I am quite picky about good writing, and I love a great story. Ned Hayes is one of those authors who is the total package.
Sinful Folk was, in a word, wonderful.
Most historical fiction focuses on the nobles not the vassals. This makes sense, as it is undoubtedly much easier to research how the royalty and the powerful members of the church and the wealthy lived. The peasantry are usually there, in the book, as an aside. They serve things, they (if they are male) are the cannon fodder for the foolish wars embarked upon by the powerful, or they (if they are female) are a sexual outlet - sometimes consenting, sometimes not so much - for the men of noble blood that they might encounter. Nonetheless, they are mostly interchangeble. Unnamed, unknown, unimportant.
But, of course, in the Middle Ages, as in any other period, those are the people who do most of the living and loving and hating and dying. This book gives them a voice in Mear, or Miriam. And it is a beautiful voice, utterly convincing.
"In the end, I listen to my fear. It keeps me awake, resounding through the frantic beating in my breast. It is there in the dry terror in my throat, in the pricking of the rats' nervous feet in the darkness.
Christian has not come home all the night long."
The book begins with the death of Mear's son, Christian. He is burned to death in a terrible fire, along with four other boys. The men of the village, including Miriam, because she is living as a man, and a mute one, at that, take a pilgrimage in the dead of winter, seeking justice for their boys. The story is the story of their journey, and the life story of Miriam, who has secrets that are slowly revealed as the journey unfolds, picking up other travellers as they go. It is incredibly dangerous for peasants to be abroad on the road in winter, especially as they travel without the permission of their Lord. This is no light-hearted picaresque tale about villagers on a pleasure trip - the characters face real dangers, real hardship, and experience real terrors and injuries. It is winter, in the midst of a famine, and the world is a harsh and unforgiving place.
In the bleak mid-winter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak mid-winter Long ago.
(Poem by Christina Rosetti)
I don't want to spoil the story, so I will stop here. Ned Hayes has a story-teller's sense of timing and mystery, and a poet's grasp of language. He could have been a bard in another time.
"Rooks have clustered on either side of the long road. It is as if they line a grand parade route for our passage. Their black feathers are stark as soon against the White Road and the snow. They stab at the ground with their strange bare bills and unfeathered faces."
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from netgalley.
Second disclosure: I think I need to stop reading books by Kristen Ashley. Because e...more16/2014
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from netgalley.
Second disclosure: I think I need to stop reading books by Kristen Ashley. Because every single book is a retread of the book that went before. Or at least it feels that way to me.
This book is the story of Deck, who is a character in Breathe, and is Chace's BFF from way back, and Emme, who is another incarnation of Kristen Ashley herself. Deck is an uber-alpha who decides that he *wants* Emme, and reaches out and takes her. Emme is all right with that because Deck is rich, tall, goodlooking, and super-duper-good at the between the sheets action. Which of course, she's never experienced before, because all of her past boyfriends have been rubbish in that department.
There are lots of whisperings, breathiness, babes and honeys. Also, there are lots of orgasms. There is no current kidnapping, which is sort of refreshing, although there is past trauma related to kidnapping which ultimately makes very little sense, but provides our heroine with a nice PTSD backstory so that Deck can fix her with his magical whang. Things, of course, cost a whack, people have to be scraped off, and the mayhem and hijinks involve a girl posse. The obligatory appearances by Lauren and Faye occur, and we get a check in with all of the old hot guys. Even Lee Nightingale and the Denver hot bunch make an appearance.
If I sound flippant, it's because I'm disappointed. I think that Kristen Ashley has some real story-telling talent buried inside of all of the trite, lazy, same old same old. Yes, her writing is, at times, over-the-top and insane, but she is funny and is capable of more than just relying on the same tropes.
Ultimately, this book is entertaining enough for what it is. But what it is is what it always is. That's enough for some people. It isn't for me. She can do better.(less)
Challenge information: This book has been in my TBR since November, 2012. It qualifies for Genre: Romance in my February Book Blast and for the...more23/2014
Challenge information: This book has been in my TBR since November, 2012. It qualifies for Genre: Romance in my February Book Blast and for the Mt. Kilimanjaro challenge.
I wanted a quick romance read. This one definitely fit the bill, although the annoying factor was quite high as well.
What I liked: it was sort of cute, and very snowboardy. I am not a snowboarder, but I grew up on skis and there were a lot of aspects of this book that hearkened back to my days as a junior racer in a good way.
What I didn't like: it was just too juvenile for me. The "romance" was very simplistic and not very believable. The resolution was unconvincing.
Also, and let's get to the point: the "bet" between the girl (who was supposedly an expert professional class snowboarder) and the boy (who was a recreational snowboarder) just pissed me off. It is true that when equally skilled men and women compete head to head, typically men will beat women. However, a professional woman basketball player will blow the freaking doors off the guy who plays a round of pick up basketball once or twice a month. And Venus Williams on her worst day, sick with food poisoning, with one arm tied behind her back, is going to beat the pants off the average man at some tennis club somewhere.
The idea that Hayden - who is allegedly ready to go pro - would lose a race to Nick - who is a recreational boarder - just annoyed the shit out of me. If she is that good, then she should win. Period.
Skill wins. Unskilled penis does not beat skilled uterus. And basing an entire book on the idea that it is does annoyed me to no end.
Disclosure: I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley.
I had mixed emotions about this book. It is ambitious, and engaging, and is a very fast rea...moreDisclosure: I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley.
I had mixed emotions about this book. It is ambitious, and engaging, and is a very fast read. I think I read it in about an hour and a half, while watching to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I am not sure that it succeeded in all of it's ambitions, but I would generally recommend it.
It is a first person narrative from Laila, with very short chapters. I liked the narrator - she was convincing to me. The cast of this book is limited to a few people: Laila, her mother, her brother, the CIA agent, a few classmates, a few other immigrants from home. The country that Laila has fled is an unnamed country in the Middle East. We are obviously meant to think of Iran or Iraq, but the author never identifies the setting of Laila's country of origin. The action takes place in a relatively short period of time after Laila's arrival in the U.S.
There was so much going on in the background of this book: the various forms that privilege can take, how one person's privilege is another person's cage, misogyny, the impact of religious fundamentalism, growing up in a world where physical safety is just another commodity, available only sometimes and only ever to the wealthy.
Laila is an insightful narrator, but she is not precocious. She is an ethical person, but not a questioning person. Or at least she wasn't until after her father is assassinated.
I would love to get the rest of Laila's story. Those of you who read the book will know just what I mean.(less)