The writing is very succinct and the quick pace does pull you through the story. It's a decent, fast read, but things seriously unravel toward the endThe writing is very succinct and the quick pace does pull you through the story. It's a decent, fast read, but things seriously unravel toward the end. The MC goes from being useless to somewhat interesting to completely insufferable. The writer throws in an occasional line about her thinking about how she is changing, but nothing in her actions ever show these things. Her transformation turns her into what she hates, which could certainly make for an interesting character arc, but it happens entirely without irony or real reflection.
There are also too many implausible elements of the story. You have to buy that there has been a total and complete nuclear annihilation of all things on land, even in the most remote areas of the world and all the little islands and archipelagos scattered about our oceans, of which there are close to 200,000 that we know of. The writer also suggests futuristic technologies in passing without elaborating in any way how they might work. Oh, they're 3D printing clothes? So are all the clothes made out of acetate or something? Isn't that a feature that probably would have been noticed by the main character? Also, 3D printers don't work on magic. Where is the material even coming from?
This book certainly has its moments, but there is very little character development. Characters rarely interact in meaningful ways. The MC is the only character who has any sort of growth, and her growth is more like the growth of a cancer. The bond villain ending eye-rollingly ridiculous.
Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, it's just not really good either. It's an easy read that requires no thought and that's fine. ...more
I received a free copy from the Amazon Vine program.
I thought the book did a great job of showing what a future would look like where technology advanI received a free copy from the Amazon Vine program.
I thought the book did a great job of showing what a future would look like where technology advanced faster than social consciousness and equality. Yes, some of that is disturbing and even frustrating, but that is the world this book is set in. It's not some altruistic future world where we have learned from our mistakes. It's a world where we keep making the same mistakes and those mistakes are amplified by our ability to surpass our own evolution.
There is a murder mystery in here, but it's more decoration than structure. The real story is about the human interactions. It's about the manipulation of fate and free will and the consequences there of.
The world-building is excellent. And, while some of it is a bit silly and intentionally tongue-in-cheek, the story really does take on big subjects and makes you think about what our world would be like if we get too much power to control our universe before we have gotten rid of the worst of our human tendencies. ...more
Empire of Sin is a history of New Orleans during the 30-year period between 1890 and 1920. This era, beginning with the end of Reconstruction and endiEmpire of Sin is a history of New Orleans during the 30-year period between 1890 and 1920. This era, beginning with the end of Reconstruction and ending with the beginning of Prohibition, was pivotal in shaping the culture and landscape that would evolve into the modern day New Orleans. It was a virtually lawless time, when sin was making a lot of people very wealthy. There is also another story here that is mostly between the lines; the tale of how racial segregation and oppression created an inequality and injustice that still hasn’t untied itself even decades after the abolishment of the Jim Crow laws that this era spawned.
The scope of this book is broad, covering the birth of jazz, the reign of organized crime, and a thriving sex trade. The central tale is the rise and fall of Storyville–a district where vices, such as soliciting and gambling, were, if not legal, decriminalized and flourishing–and it’s symbolic “mayor” Tom Anderson. Anderson and the other purveyors of sin grew rich and powerful during the heydays of Storyville, which made them targets of reformers.
The birth and evolution of jazz primarily runs parallel to the narrative of Storyville, though at times the two stories intertwine and are inseparable even when they aren’t touching. It’s clear that without the influence of Storyville and “Black Storyville” jazz may never have reached maturation.
Peppered in are accounts of the activities of the organized crime syndicates that have some impact on the overall narrative, but never really quite fit in to it all. In many ways these stories feel disparate and out of place, but are, nevertheless, intriguing and engaging.
New Orleans itself could have been more of a character. With so much focus on Storyville, the rest of the city gets left out. Other than the over-the-top antics of reformers and justice mobs, we don’t get a feel for how the rest of New Orleans operated during this time.
The level of research that has gone into this book is astonishing. The subject matter is presented in a way that is always engaging and interesting, and Krist speaks with both authority and credibility as he recounts the stories of pimps, prostitutes, and procurers with a refreshing lack of judgement and, at times, even hints of admiration.
Empire of Sin is an exciting story that should appeal to anyone who enjoys history and/or true crime....more
David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is an epic fantasy about a woman trapped in a battle between good and evil that transcends time and space. We first mDavid Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is an epic fantasy about a woman trapped in a battle between good and evil that transcends time and space. We first meet Holly Sykes as a runaway teen trying to escape the sting of her first breakup. Holly’s runaway plans are complicated by a series of mysterious encounters that setup a tale that spans six decades. The story is told through a series of short character studies from people who are somehow involved with or touched by Sykes.
Much of the novel reads as a drama with a few fantasy elements peppered in, but there is always this sense of something big about to unfold. That persistent tension and some very well-drawn and realized characters are what keeps the story moving forward. It’s not until around 2/3rds of the way through that the book really opens up into full-fledged fantasy, at which point the seemingly disparate pieces fall together.
While the story eventually does come together, some of the earlier pages are a bit slow. The writer character, in particular, is almost pointless and his meta references often drew me right out of the story. That entire section could have been cut with minimal impact to the story.
The end also feels tacked on. It feels like it is there more as a way for the author to moralize than anything else. It does, ultimately, lead to a comfortable resolution, though.
The Bone Clocks isn’t light reading. While it has fantasy elements, at its core, it is a deep character drama that explores the way we are all interconnected. Sykes matures from a bratty teenager to an elderly grandmother in a way that rings true for anyone, no matter the genre. If you remove all of nightmares and illusions, you’re still left with an interesting story about a woman who endues heartache and loss and still finds ways to become a better person.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through the Amazon Vine program....more
When I read the description of Mort(e) a few months ago, I was expecting something with a bit of whimsy and humor, but that is not what I got; Mort(e)When I read the description of Mort(e) a few months ago, I was expecting something with a bit of whimsy and humor, but that is not what I got; Mort(e) is a dark, cynical tale. Animals gain self-awareness and then enlist in a brutal, protracted war against humans.One of the first things pets do after becoming sentient is kill their masters. If you are reading this with a cat purring on your lap, this may be difficult to "buy," but in this world their path to self-awareness is corrupt by the Queen, whose sole purpose of existence is to destroy humanity.
At the core of this tale is a love story. It's not a romantic love story, but instead a story of friendship. The writer goes a great job of setting up the friendship and making the reader understand why it is so important. In fact, those early pages are the best in the book, filled with beautiful prose and vivid imagery.
The story also explores to concepts of faith, fate, ideology, and Weltanschauung; as well as, the inevitability of conflict when militant belief systems collide, even when the belief is the firm belief in the lack of belief.
The story is really light on believable science. Most of the technology and scientific concepts are described in vague, meaningless terms. Things are often "similar to" or "like" something. Things like how a hormone causes significant physiological changes in a matter of hours are glossed over. If you want realism, you won't find it here.
Overall, the story is well-written, well-paced and concludes in a satisfying way. It's a cynical tale, but still manages to be hopeful and even uplifting at times....more
David Bernstein’s 294 page novella SURROGATE starts with an interesting idea, but never takes it anywhere. The real story doesn’t get started until haDavid Bernstein’s 294 page novella SURROGATE starts with an interesting idea, but never takes it anywhere. The real story doesn’t get started until halfway through the book and then it drags along ping-ponging back and forth between predictable and ridiculous. The plot depends on stupid characters making stupid decisions. The women are irrational and manipulative and the men are weak-willed and pathetic. The pace is bogged down by filler and characters constantly rehashing things the reader has already seen. Tricky plotting issues, like how one woman dragged another unconscious woman out of a basement by herself, are just skipped over. None of the characters are fully realized or behave in ways that make sense. The dialogue is silly, repetitive, and lacks maturity. The only insult any of the characters seem to know is “bitch,” which characters lob at each other no less than 13 times – middle-aged, professional, adult characters, mind you....more