I remember things spatially. The first time I read this book was at my parochial school. It was in a bookcase against the wall across from the windowsI remember things spatially. The first time I read this book was at my parochial school. It was in a bookcase against the wall across from the windows on the left side of the school. It couldn't have been the 1st grade classroom, so it must have been 2nd grade or 5th or 6th. I think it might have been Miss Lemke's class.
Earlier last year I was reading "Bless me, Ultima," and it triggered some half-remembered bits about a young girl in a migrant family during the Depression who lived somewhere out west. And she found a beautiful library in a deserted house and would spend her days hidden away reading. I couldn't remember the author or the title, but I remembered the velvet curtains. It took some sleuthing, but I finally hunted down the book. My library didn't have it, but I was able to find a copy on Amazon.
Sometimes when you reread books from your childhood, you're let down because it's nothing like what you remembered and much of the magic is just gone. I'm happy to report this book was just as good as I remembered.
Robin is an 11 year old girl and her family has fallen on desperate times. They're driving to her father's next temporary job when their Model T car loaded with all their belongings breaks down in a small town. All they have is $12, and it's not enough to fix the car. Fortunately, her father finds a job at a local farm and the whole family is able to move into a shack for the farm-hands. Robin's a shy, quiet little girl who loves to read and is down-trodden from their years of quiet desperation. She frequently wanders off to escape from her troubles, and does just the same into the orange groves. While exploring, she comes across a beautiful old abandoned house with a smaller house behind it. She meets Bridget, the retired nursemaid who now lives in the smaller house. Then she meets Gwen, the daughter of the orchard's owner. Gwen used to live in the abandoned house until her parents decided to build something more modern and they boarded up the old one. Robin becomes friends with Bridget and spends many mornings talking to her about the history of the house and the people who used to live there long ago. One day Bridget gives Robin an old key to the house, and Robin is able to explore it and discovers a wonderful library in the turret with long velvet drapes and a comfortable window seat and so many books. Robin frequently escapes to the private paradise and is able to hide from her problems and drown herself in other people's stories. She gets to start school again, and she makes friends, and helps her parents when it's time to harvest the fruit. She begins to experience permanence and security. And then one day, everything changes.
This is a fantastic story for kids who don't have control over their circumstances. I've always thought the hardest part about being a child is that you have to live with someone else's decisions and you don't have much say in anything. In this book, Robin learns to accept the things she cannot change while coming to terms with the things she can control. ...more
So I got to the car dealership for my long overdue oil change, picked up my bag.... and realized I left my book at home. Oh CRAP. The only magazines oSo I got to the car dealership for my long overdue oil change, picked up my bag.... and realized I left my book at home. Oh CRAP. The only magazines on the table were ESPN and Avon catalogs. Double crap. Fortunately my phone was fully charged, so I was able to quickly get to my library's website and download an ebook. I LOVE ebooks for the secrecy they afford for romance readers. There's no way I would have been caught dead reading a paper copy of this in the waiting room while getting an oil change.
The last three books I read were real duds, so I needed a good palate cleanser. And this was it! High ratings on the angst-o-meter (though the cause for the angst was a bit contrived, which is why this only got four stars. I need a liiiitle bit more just cause for angst instead of "I cannot love you as I have long ago loved and the guilt from her accidental death will prevent me from every loving again." The characters were fantastic. Sophie kicked ass and took names (and got shot in the process), King had a sense of humor while still remaining dashing, the duke was suitably contrite, the members of London's elite were appropriately snobby and cruel, and even the townsfolk had verve. The plot was fast-paced and interesting. All in all, a very good read. ...more
I was composing my review as I was reading this. Initially, I was going to say "If you liked Twilight or that Shades of Gray series or any other MaryI was composing my review as I was reading this. Initially, I was going to say "If you liked Twilight or that Shades of Gray series or any other Mary Sue kind of world, you'll like this book." But then it started getting better! The characters became more realistic and likable, the scenarios less outrageous, and the dialogue even got a little better.
I'm still not recommending this book to anyone other than those who liked Twilight, though. ...more
Everything I love about Hiaasen was present in this book. Detailed and colorful characters, side eyed commentary on society, little glimpses down theEverything I love about Hiaasen was present in this book. Detailed and colorful characters, side eyed commentary on society, little glimpses down the back alleys of Florida, truly hilarious plot twists, rodents, and an ending wrapped up in a nice, tidy bow. I am very pleased that Hiaasen is still going strong. ...more
I really like the direction this series has taken with John's addition. Sometimes Dixie's practicality and persistent get-up-and-go felt a bit forced.I really like the direction this series has taken with John's addition. Sometimes Dixie's practicality and persistent get-up-and-go felt a bit forced. These past few books have shown a stronger depth to her perspective. Not so much in the plot or dialogue, but in the descriptive narration. The way she sees things and describes events is a little bit darker. She notices things I'm not sure she would have seen before. She's a little bit sadder, but it's good because a) she has reason to be sad, and b) it shows a lot of character growth. Previously she had been all walled up, trying to deal her tragedies, but now she's opening herself up more to some of the things she buried deep inside. It's painful, but it's healing, and it's growth. ...more
So far all three books have had three murders, a convenient leak to the press, and in the last 10 pages Eve is nearly killed by the murderer but beatsSo far all three books have had three murders, a convenient leak to the press, and in the last 10 pages Eve is nearly killed by the murderer but beats him to a pulp and ends up in Roarke's arms. I've going to give it one more try and see if #4 strays from the formula. ...more
Hot diggity! I was not expecting that! I've read some Nora Roberts in my time, here and there, as filler between other books. I figured the In Death sHot diggity! I was not expecting that! I've read some Nora Roberts in my time, here and there, as filler between other books. I figured the In Death series would be much of the same. I love being wrong! Intriguing mystery plot, FANTASTIC heroine, DREAMY male lead, SUPERB we-shouldn't-get-involved-i'm-a-cop-and-you're-a-murder-suspect romantic tension. I know this is a 40 volume series, and I don't know how long the Good will last, but I'm willing to ride this train to see where it goes!
The reason for only 4 stars instead of 5 is my dismay about how it calls itself a science-fiction romance. It's not. Yes, it's set in the future. Yes, there are flying cars. Yes, Eve drinks her Pepsi out of a tube. This is not science fiction. This is a romance set in the future. HUGE difference.
ALSO, this book solves the riddle as to why so many conservatives think Obama/Hillary wants to take their guns away from them. The book alludes to the distant past (2016) when guns became illegal. It turns out NORA ROBERTS started the rumor in 1995!!! ...more
I'm glad I listened to a friend and didn't quit the series after Eyre Affair. This second book in the series is far better than the first. It does havI'm glad I listened to a friend and didn't quit the series after Eyre Affair. This second book in the series is far better than the first. It does have some of the same problems I had with the first book, in that there's too many ideas crammed into one book and the pacing is very rushed. It's a lot of main character does something over here and then rushes over here to do more things and then disaster and something more happens and it's all at once. There's a gazillion little clever words and phrases and puns and tricks but it's too much at once.
That said, this title better explores not just time travel, but the ability to travel within book and interact with characters. The behind-the-scenes action action when the reader isn't looking is the most fun. I'm at a point now where I *want* to read the 3rd book and am not just holding on because a friend urged me to....more
On one hand, I really dislike epistolary novels. On the other hand, I love an unreliable narrator. This book is a battle between two literary tropes aOn one hand, I really dislike epistolary novels. On the other hand, I love an unreliable narrator. This book is a battle between two literary tropes and I'm not sure which will win.
Finished! The verdict is still... uncertain. I couldn't stop reading it, which tells you that the plot is interesting and very fast paced. I still don't care for the epistolary nature. I'm still intrigued by the narrator, who reminds me very much of Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files. He's in on the grand scheme of things and knows secrets beyond the scope of the United States government (or any international government, for that matter), yet he doesn't know *everything.* There's moments where he's surprised, and that's refreshing for that kind of character. ...more
Something rather miraculous happened. Last week, I checked out a book from the library by one of my favorite authors. I didn't recognize the title norSomething rather miraculous happened. Last week, I checked out a book from the library by one of my favorite authors. I didn't recognize the title nor the description, and happily thought I had found a book of hers I hadn't read yet. So I took it home, put it on the dining room table and waited gleefully for the weekend when I could settle down in my jammies with a nice glass of something and my cat wedged into the chair beside me with this book.
Only to discover, one chapter in, that I HAD already read it. The despair was real.
So what do you do? You pick yourself back up and go back to the to-read pile. Next on my list was "Empress of Mars." I adore Kage Baker and her Company series. Her death several years ago was a true loss for me. It pained me to know there would be no more books from her to anticipate. "Empress of Mars" was not my favorite of the series. It didn't have Mendoza, nor Joseph, it didn't really have much Company plot, it was all about that Mars Two explosion and I just wasn't in the mood for it. But it was next on the list, so.....
Only to discover, one chapter in, this was not the book I thought it was. I had never read this book. The incredulation was real.
And, my goodness, this book was delicious. It's a weird mish-mash of novel and short story. All the events and characters are related, and there's a definite progression of plot throughout the entire book, but each chapter feels like a short story. Or, more accurately, an episode. And it's delightful. Mary Griffith is a bitter botonist (...remind you of anyone?) who got screwed by her employer and is stuck on Mars with her three daughters in the very early phase of colonization. She's got no funds to get back to Earth, so she decides to make the most of it and starts a brewery. Because if the hardworking colonists of Mars need anything, they need beer. And she makes friends with inhabitants - some are screwed ex-employees like herself, some are Haulers who do the hard labor, some are from a neighboring Clan who are giving a go at agriculture. And then there's the British Arean Company, the bastards who fired her. Whatevs. And *spoiler alert* there's some familiar personalities. And this is such a fun book. There's little glimpses of their everyday lives and there's bigger looks of what's going to happen next, and you can't help but really, really like these characters. ...more
This is the most fabulous series in the entire world. I *adore* Mendoza. This book beautifully sets up the premise for all the Company books that follThis is the most fabulous series in the entire world. I *adore* Mendoza. This book beautifully sets up the premise for all the Company books that follow.
That said, there's a lot of melodrama in this first book. If folks don't like this one, I usually urge them to try the second one, "Sky Coyote" anyways because each book has it's own tone. I'd hate for folks to be turned off from the entire series just because they didn't like the tone of the first book.
ETA: I just my SIGNED 1ST EDITION copy in the mail last night. I am the happiest person on the face of the earth.
ETA: 2016 reread: My litmus test for a book I truly love is how it makes me feel. Kage Baker was one of the rare authors who could combine not just plot and characters, but emotion as well. You can feel the author in the background the entire time. This story was something she experienced in her own life, and was able to translate it into fiction. No, I'm not saying she was a cyborg or she lived through the Spanish Inquisition, but there was a parallel experience she was able to use. And it was something she was able to make come alive through Mendoza. I carry Mendoza with me probably more than I realize. This first book in the series sets the tone for all the rest because here is where we discover Mendoza's life-defining moments. Surprisingly, it wasn't the Spanish Inquisition. Surprisingly, it wasn't her rescue from the dungeons or the surgeries that made her immortal. Surprisingly, it wasn't her education or training. Mendoza is who she is because she loved a boy and it ended badly. One must remember that this entire book is seen through Mendoza's eyes, post-Nicholas. She even interrupts her own narration with little snippets of, what is for the reader, foreshadowing, but for her, it's a bitter self-recrimination.
I think this paragraph summarizes the entire book: "Now that I come to write of what we did together, I have a peculiar reluctance to put pen to paper. Yes, this is definitely pain I feel. There is a locked door, you see, hinges red as blood with rust: it screams upon being opened and tries to close again, but through its narrow space I see the color green."
The reader can feel her reluctance in sharing her story on every page. Yet she's compelled to share it because she knows that the reader will never understand the rest of the series without it. She relives this glorious and horrible time as it is her duty to record the events that lead up to the series' culmination. She's doing it for us.
And it's a hard mix - Mendoza's subtle despair combined with this grand story arc. I mean, my god, immortal cyborgs! Living amongst us and quietly saving the best of our civilizations from our own destruction. It's a fascinating concept and the reader cannot look away. And that is the lovely twist - if you want to know more, you have to suffer along with Mendoza....more