This was interesting only because I am in no way associated with the legal process, and I have not gotten divorced myself, so the epistolary nature of...moreThis was interesting only because I am in no way associated with the legal process, and I have not gotten divorced myself, so the epistolary nature of the technical documents was new to me. I think if I had a passing familiarity with either of those things, this book would not have been interesting.
There were essentially two storylines - the divorcing couple, and the personal life of the lawyer doing the divorce. I really only found myself interested in the story of the divorcing couple, the lawyer herself was not a very deep or dramatic person. Probably a nice person to know in real life, but not a page turner to read about. (less)
This was not a good book. It was an interesting concept, but I found that I was not actually interested in any of the characters, and didn't really ca...moreThis was not a good book. It was an interesting concept, but I found that I was not actually interested in any of the characters, and didn't really care about the plot, and none of the plot twists were surprising or even vaguely amusing.
It was billed, in the library, as a thriller, with a time travel twist (the part that makes it spec fic) - it was not thrilling. There is a time traveling serial killer, but even though we get many interminable scenes from his perspective, it's a little hard to say exactly why he was motivated to be a serial killer. (Not good. The guy is basically a Murder Hobo.) The house that allows him to time travel is cool, but is a concept clearly ripped off from Dr Who. Why are these particular women targeted? Why only women? They "shine". No more explanation.
The pacing also needed work - it was very choppy, the POV character switched constantly, and there were not very many cliffhanger moments, as there should be in a thriller. Scenes were overlong, without adding much to either characters or plot - inanimate objects and scenery were described in excessive detail.
I was disappointed that I picked this as a book for a long car ride.(less)
The cover of this book REALLY put me off, because even after I knew it wasn't a horror book, the cover made me think it was, and just not want to pick...moreThe cover of this book REALLY put me off, because even after I knew it wasn't a horror book, the cover made me think it was, and just not want to pick this up, which meant it took a very long time to read.
I disliked the ending. It was very unresolved, which is great if you are planning on reading the sequel, which I am not.(less)
First, the good stuff. I thought this was a very good audiobook to listen to while commuting - the reader was great. The worldbuilding in theory was f...moreFirst, the good stuff. I thought this was a very good audiobook to listen to while commuting - the reader was great. The worldbuilding in theory was fantastic. The magic system, the detailed levels of clairvoyance & its effects - fascinating. The Rephaim & Emim were interesting. The story was sufficiently engaging, if predictable. I would have really enjoyed this book if not for all the things below.
The bad stuff: I'm just going to be blunt - this was not the greatest writing. The story would have benefitted greatly from a good editor, because the worldbuilding and general theme of the story were good, but there were many other things that were problematic. The author had a tendency to repeat words or phrases in ways that were grating to me as a reader. ("It was now, or never." "He/She was going to KILL me." Over and over.) Action, the inner thoughts of characters, all conversations, and setting the scene were all done in the same tone & rhythm of short, staccato sentences. I think if I read this myself, instead of listening at a set pace, I would have skimmed many of these sections instinctively & it would have bothered me less.
The main characters - I just couldn't believe in Paige. She was so...not smart. It was useful for worldbuilding that she had to come to conclusions slowly and repeatedly, but it made me as a reader want to continually smack her for not seeing the obvious, or being unnecessarily contrary. At the beginning of the book, she was "feisty" (as YA heroines are required to be), but her character development swerved and changed continually throughout the story to accommodate worldbuilding & plot developments. Not in a character-building way. In an unedited manuscript way. And she was an obligatory stereotypical YA heroine - she was beautiful and unique and special and possesses within her the power to change the destiny of the world, if only she can trust herself enough to use it.
Also, OF COURSE, the smoking hot alien/vampire/keeper/master/rebellion fomenter who is hundreds of years old falls in love with the 19 year old human who fears/resents/trusts/relies on him. OF COURSE. Theirs is a love that cannot be kept down by the man, or Scion, or the other Rephaim. INCREDIBLY unbelievable & out of character for all involved. This was the only point in the book at which I was seized with the urge to drive my car off a bridge.
The consistency of the magic system & other plot developments also suffered from the same lack of continuity as the character development. Can Paige sense auras of other voyants, or not? If so, why are they continually sneaking up on her? Why would Nashira keep the scarred ones alive at all, nevermind give them positions of power? The bone seasons, at 10 years apart, with very few voyants taken, do not seem enough to sustain the rate of loss in this book extrapolated over time, but my math might be bad.
I am having a hard time imagining this as part of a seven book series.(less)
This was very clearly YA, but I loved this take on standard super hero stories. Interesting worldbuilding & magic (always!), although I didn't war...moreThis was very clearly YA, but I loved this take on standard super hero stories. Interesting worldbuilding & magic (always!), although I didn't warm to the main character. (Probably because I am not the target audience.)(less)
Just like The Iron King, this reminded me of an anime the entire time I was reading it. Plus, there were references to my favorite, Escaflowne, in thi...moreJust like The Iron King, this reminded me of an anime the entire time I was reading it. Plus, there were references to my favorite, Escaflowne, in this book. I would LOVE to see this series as an anime, it would be incredible visually.
Not a fan of the teenager love triangle theme in general, but it worked for the story. It was fun reading this.(less)
I knew nothing about this book before reading it - it was a book club pick.
I ended up impressed by the characters and pacing and plot. It wasn't fun...moreI knew nothing about this book before reading it - it was a book club pick.
I ended up impressed by the characters and pacing and plot. It wasn't fun or light to read, but it was a nice change in pace from the usual scifi/fantasy plots. I read this at the same time that I read In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin - nonfiction - and the tone and attitudes of the main & supporting characters as they navigate roughly the same time period is spot on. In both books - fiction & nonfiction - there are people who are neither good nor bad, good people doing bad things & bad people doing good things - morality is a gray concept in this period, especially when you consider actions with today's perspective. I really appreciated that the characters in this book had to make hard choices, expensive choices. I appreciated that magic existed, and was available to help them achieve their goals, but it was EXPENSIVE. And the more magic was used, the more expensive it was. I feel like that balance is rarely addressed in most fantasy - the price of magic is not discussed.
This plot could have so easily become about Will - when he revealed that he could use magic I was dreading that it would turn into a standard: young man who can use magic saves the world using skills and wit that only a 19 year old guy can possess. I was SO relieved that both the plot and characters were not like that - they were much more adult & thoughtful.
I don't know if it was the mostly British setting, or the inter-dimensional aliens, ancient enemies of humans, or a combination of both, but it felt a little like Dr Who. Without the Doctor.(less)
I was really interested in the world building - I felt like the characters (one feisty lady in a love triangle with two equally perfect dudes all resi...moreI was really interested in the world building - I felt like the characters (one feisty lady in a love triangle with two equally perfect dudes all resisting the constricts of society) were super overdone, it was definitely not unique in terms of plot. This is the first in a trilogy (of course) and I kind of wish I could just read the worldbuildy parts of books 2 & 3 without all the characters. There was nothing really wrong with the characters, but nothing that really stood out either. But the society was really interesting, I wanted to know more about the Officials & the surveillance & the data pattern analysis.(less)
I liked the dual storylines in this book, it worked very well for the story and I can't think of a transition that was jarring, they all seemed natura...moreI liked the dual storylines in this book, it worked very well for the story and I can't think of a transition that was jarring, they all seemed natural and woven into the plot. I liked the characters. I liked the history. I liked the setting, very atmospheric.
I understand why some other readers categorized this as a sci-fi/fantasy novel, because although I have never written a book, I don't think that this is a really accurate account of the process of writing, from what I have gathered.
The ending was a little too twee for me, too neat. But overall it was nice to read.(less)
I think my favorite part about this book was the way the author continually emphasized how dirty and smelly and generally disgusting the late 1800's w...moreI think my favorite part about this book was the way the author continually emphasized how dirty and smelly and generally disgusting the late 1800's were, from a modern perspective. That sort of thing is not mentioned that often in other books but I think, if time traveling, it would be the #1 first thing a modern person would notice.
I was interested in the research for the book - for Holmes in particular. While many documents and primary sources are still available about Burnham and the fair, since it was such a high profile event, in the epilogue & sources section Erik Larson talks about how many primary sources on Holmes were destroyed, missing, or unavailable. (less)
I enjoyed this book a lot, but only because I had previously seen An Idiot Abroad. This was sort of like a behind the scenes version from Karl's persp...moreI enjoyed this book a lot, but only because I had previously seen An Idiot Abroad. This was sort of like a behind the scenes version from Karl's perspective - many of the same scenes & events were on the show, so they were recognizable. But there were also bits included about what it was like to be filming a travel tv show, which I thought were interesting.
I don't think this book would make much sense as a stand alone book to someone who hadn't already watched & enjoyed An Idiot Abroad. But it did make me laugh a bunch, I liked it.(less)
I was hit by a truck (literally) two days ago and was looking for light, cheerful, non-strenuous things to read while recovering. This was a cute and...moreI was hit by a truck (literally) two days ago and was looking for light, cheerful, non-strenuous things to read while recovering. This was a cute and funny and charming book, it was perfect for reading on a slow day spent mostly in bed.
I was not expecting much, because I only knew the author as an actor, but I was pleasantly surprised. I do want to know how much of it is autobiographical. I can definitely see Lauren Graham herself playing the part of Franny. The writing style reminded me a lot of Meg Cabot, which is a good thing.
I really wanted to like this book, so much so that I held off on writing my reaction for a couple of weeks, to see if I would change my mind. So much...moreI really wanted to like this book, so much so that I held off on writing my reaction for a couple of weeks, to see if I would change my mind. So much about the set up sounds like a great idea, but I just didn't like the execution of it. Obviously I am in the minority here, since this is the first in a 9 book series (so far!), but I just wish too many things were done differently to give this a higher rating.
I cannot help comparing every urban fantasy now to Ben Aaronovitch's series, which was A+ fantastic and is my new gold standard. It looks like lots of other reviewers compare this to The Dresden Files, which I haven't read.
I listened to this as an audiobook - the reader was generally good, but the dialogue was so choppy that his efforts were not good enough to cover the wooden writing. This is something I probably wouldn't have noticed as much if I read it as a hard copy, I would have skimmed those sections. The worldbuilding is communicated in long chunks of dry exposition by the main character, and is interesting in and of itself, if delivered poorly.
The main character, Atticus, is purported to be 2100 years old, but you wouldn't know it from the way he acts or speaks, and he seems to have accumulated nothing in the way of wisdom or knowledge in those centuries. I love a good Star Wars reference as much as the next SWC alum, but pop culture peppered with sarcasm and stock catchphrases is not a substitute for thorough character development. I will say that the author fully captured the particular way that 21 year old nerdy guys can be both immature and self assured. But that persona did not fit with the character's stated (and re-stated, and re-stated...) history, and his actions did not lend any gravitas or depth to a plot that is supposed to have unfolded over 2100 years.
The other thing that I had problems with, and this may be because I was reading this at the time of the SFWA controversy, was that every. single. female. character. FLUNG themselves at the main character. Shamelessly. It got old, REALLY quickly, and it felt cheap, and it didn't do anything to advance the plot or provide any character development. (less)
Aside from this one, I only read book two in the Jackson Brodie series, but I felt like I was not missing that much, plotwise. These are really stand...moreAside from this one, I only read book two in the Jackson Brodie series, but I felt like I was not missing that much, plotwise. These are really stand alone mysteries, as far as I can tell. The audiobook reader for this one was pretty good. The mystery in this was fairly obvious but it was more like a character study than a traditional whodunit.(less)
I found this book while searching for a book club book in my library's ebook catalog - I had heard of Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest, which...moreI found this book while searching for a book club book in my library's ebook catalog - I had heard of Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest, which I had been meaning to read for awhile but never got around to. So I opened this ebook, saying to myself that I would only read a few pages to get a feel for her writing, and then BAM, it was 3 am and I was finished with this and obsessively googling the release date for the next book in the series.
I had recently watched Top of the Lake, a show that is definitely NOT YA, but I thought of it a lot while reading this - the desaturated landscape cinematography and general sense of foreboding combined with strong & independent female leads was pretty similar for both this book and the show. The stillness & wildness of the land was almost another character, someone who never spoke but was holding their breath through the whole book. I know that this is meant to be set in some version of Scotland or another historically Celtic area, but in my mind while reading it, this was taking place in that sort of NZ landscape.
I loved the main character, Neryn, in this. I loved that she was not slow witted, a choice many YA authors seem to make. It's sort of understandable, because then characters can be used as vehicles to transmit information to the reader, but it sacrifices any scrap of humanity a character might have had. That was not the case at all with this book, characters were living beings who were definitely believable, just as they were also fallible and imperfect. I LOVED that (view spoiler)[Flint/Owen was a spy. A double agent! (A TRIPLE agent, maybe???) (hide spoiler)]
I also appreciated the realistic survivalist aspects of the book - many times in fantasy stories you have characters who will be living off the land for years, sleeping on the ground and leaping up to lead armies or perform amazing feats, when in reality, survivalist living is not a path to a long & healthy lifestyle. I really appreciated that the main character got sick, was physically weak & unwell, just as she would be if she was living like that in real life. I appreciated how much of her time & energy was spent on securing food & shelter - I realize that for many people that might be a negative, boring aspect of the book, but for me, it was one of my favorite parts. Your needs & wants really contract in hard situations and I very much appreciated the realism.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
While I was reading this, I could not clearly remember all the characters/plotlines in Ship Breaker (which I read i...moreThis is more like 3.5 stars for me.
While I was reading this, I could not clearly remember all the characters/plotlines in Ship Breaker (which I read in 2011), and I kept having the nagging feeling that there was some stuff I was missing because of that.
This book was okay. I like the sections about the DC metro area - there was one part where it talked about DC metro area commuters, underwater, which I heard as I was listening to this as an audiobook, while commuting in the DC metro area. (Meta!)
The worldbuilding was, as always, fascinating. The characters were a little dull & repetitive, which I am chalking up to this being a YA book. I felt like the allegory was laid on a little too thickly with all the historical artifacts & ephemera from the "accelerated age" US of A. It was interesting to spend more time with the child soldiers as people, instead of just a plot device. They reminded me of the terrorists from Bel Canto.
Overall this was okay - the audiobook reader was good also - but I suspect I will have trouble remembering character & plot specifics 2 years from now just as I do with Ship Breaker.(less)
I do not think I would have finished this book had I not read it as an audiobook. The readers/performers were great - they really propelled the story...moreI do not think I would have finished this book had I not read it as an audiobook. The readers/performers were great - they really propelled the story along and lived each character in a way that I do not think I would have seen if I had just been reading the words on a page. The characters were not really interesting to me in and of themselves - the whole book felt very experimental in nature with the different writing styles and forms of dialogue. It just kind of felt like a standard literary fiction MFA piece. I did like the setting and atmosphere - but the book overall was just okay.(less)