I read this book at my mom's request, because she really likes the author and the series of which this is the beginning. I enjoyed it as an interestin...moreI read this book at my mom's request, because she really likes the author and the series of which this is the beginning. I enjoyed it as an interesting look at the legal world as well as a good mystery that made for a very quick read. My enjoyment was probably more like four stars' worth, but I don't pretend that this is great literature--plus I'm leaving room for improvement in future books, which I plan to read. The writing was great, but I'm pretty sure that the plotting and characterization (which were already good) and other writing elements will improve, simply because first time authors almost always improve when they learn more tricks of the trade, and find their voices and their confidence.
Lisa Scottoline's first book introduces us to Mary DiNunzio, a lawyer from South Philadelphia who is up for partner at her prestigious law firm. As stressful as her job is, her personal life is worse, as she's being stalked and threatened by someone. The story is very fast-paced, despite the range of story elements to it. The mystery of the stalker is intriguing and has some surprising developments, Mary's family is realistic and has moments together that are relatable, and there is also a lot about various court cases and other legal proceedings that was pretty interesting and rounded out the story well.
This was a first book in a series, and as such, it had a lot of exposition: introducing the characters, sketching out--or sometimes detailing--their personal histories and relationships with one another, showing the workings of a law office, and explaining intricacies of the judicial system. Some of it was skillfully and naturally woven in to the story and some was less so, but none of it was bad. There was perhaps a bit too much back story revealed; maybe some of it could have been saved for future books--or maybe in the future books there's plenty to go around, and I shouldn't complain. Actually my only real complaint about this book is how easily Mary switched her suspicions from person to person at what seemed to me little provocation. This could be reasonable paranoia, given her circumstances, but it annoyed me. Oh, and she didn't take care of her cat! OK, I guess that's not a major complaint, but still, poor Alice. Also, the pacing was a little fast. Anyway, this was definitely an enjoyable book, and since this was the author's debut novel, don't judge it too harshly.(less)
Although this volume is longer than the previous ones, I read it in under an hour. Probably I didn't take enough time looking at the (even more than u...moreAlthough this volume is longer than the previous ones, I read it in under an hour. Probably I didn't take enough time looking at the (even more than usually) gorgeous art because I wanted to see the resolution of Emma and William's story, and because I was in the library. There were some times in this volume that the story skipped over what must have been days or sometimes even weeks, but then again it was rather long as it was, so maybe that was necessary. It definitely didn't confuse or very much harm the story, the way the jumps in the narrative did in Volume 5. It may seem odd--and frustrating to some readers--that their story ends at the very beginning of their life together, but I think that's a nice way of letting us picture our own happily ever after.
After reading this volume, and mostly after seeing the art, I definitely intend to buy it. I want to admire it at much greater length.
The backstory of William's parents is filled out in the first chapter of this volume, and then we are returned to the present and the aftermath of Wil...moreThe backstory of William's parents is filled out in the first chapter of this volume, and then we are returned to the present and the aftermath of William and Emma's surprise meeting. The storytelling seemed a bit choppy in this volume, but the art was as beautiful as ever.(less)
Really, really funny. For me, it was laugh out loud funny at some points (and I was reading it in the bookstore, so I was hyper-aware of that). I enjo...moreReally, really funny. For me, it was laugh out loud funny at some points (and I was reading it in the bookstore, so I was hyper-aware of that). I enjoyed the first two volumes, but this one I really loved. This volume finally felt like part the TV show.(less)
I LOVED the geek talk that Andrew submits Buffy to to an unheard of (and unheard--I think my squeals of delight were in too high a register for human...moreI LOVED the geek talk that Andrew submits Buffy to to an unheard of (and unheard--I think my squeals of delight were in too high a register for human auditory reception) degree. And I got all of the references, to my simultaneous embarrassment and pride. The Harmony stories weren't as interesting, but the geek page more than made up for any lows this collection may have had.(less)
I was looking forward to this book so excitedly and for so long, that it wouldn't have been surprising if I'd raised my expectations too high and foun...moreI was looking forward to this book so excitedly and for so long, that it wouldn't have been surprising if I'd raised my expectations too high and found myself disappointed once I'd finally read it. I hadn't, and I wasn't. I loved reading this book the way I have loved reading every book starring Vicky and John, because Elizabeth Peters has done such a good job of making me know and love and care deeply about her characters.
Even after more than ten years, Peters still writes those characters perfectly. She also recreated their world (albeit a modern version of it) and their lives down to the details--the thrillingly epic, the hilariously mundane, and the way that the larger-than-life has become routine for them while the frustrations of daily life can be often be dramatic--that we enjoy so much. She recreated Vicky's voice equally well. As always, there are one liners and bits of repartee that make me laugh out loud and want to bookmark the pages where they live, there are impassioned and touching declarations, and there are those thoughts that Vicky shares about life that I identify with so wholly.
The book is not perfect, of course. There are times when the pacing slows a bit, and there are a couple of instances of repetitiveness that some readers have put down to bad editing. However, this book is written in the first person; we hear what Vicky thinks. I don't think that it even calls for a serious suspension of disbelief to suppose that a subject of thought might occur to someone twice over a period of several days.
Some readers of mysteries may be troubled to find that they can identify characters or pick out some of the bad guys before their revelation to the sleuths--but for this series, in which there are recurring heroes and villains, this is in many ways a game that is played with the readers. Some of the revelations in this book have been speculated about and discussed by many fans for some time, but it was still a pleasure to find them out for certain.
Although I read this book in fewer than 24 hours, the pace of my reading did slow down near the end, because I realized that with every page I read, there was one fewer new page of Vicky. I knew I could only read new pages once, and that the remaining pages might be the last new pages of Vicky ever. Despite the sadness of that thought, I still thoroughly enjoyed all the pages, especially the last two or three, which not only made me grin, as they did Vicky, "a big, silly grin," but made me laugh and made me exult (if such a thing is possible). This is not my favorite Vicky--that will always be Night Train to Memphis--and it may not be the best (although I'm not sure I could determine which one is), but it fits right into the series without a problem, and if it is the last one, although I shall miss the characters dreadfully, it is a fitting end.
A favorite quote, from p. 229
Only Schmidt, the bloody romantic, spoke up in John's defense. "I will not believe it until he admits it." He considered the statement and then added, "Perhaps not even then."
The Morning Gift is a great look at life in twelfth-century England. It is the story of the Norman lady Matilda of Risle, who we meet living a life ty...moreThe Morning Gift is a great look at life in twelfth-century England. It is the story of the Norman lady Matilda of Risle, who we meet living a life typical of noblewomen of her day. As England enters a period of war and turmoil, however, she goes through times of joy and ease as well as times of sorrow and strife as her life goes down paths she never could have imagined.
The characters are all very interesting, both alone and, particularly, in their interactions with one another, and they are also very real. The main character, for instance, is not always a very nice person, but she is so believable and her thoughts and feelings so human, that she is a likeable and sympathetic character who can make the reader want to continue the story.
This book shows us daily life in the 1100s, from what clothing nobles wore and what they ate to the chores of peasants and villeins to the technologies and rules of conduct of medieval warfare. It gives us details about life in the courts of King Stephen of England and of the Empress Matilda in Normandy and life in the fens of eastern England. It tells about the political scheming going on among the aspirants for the crown. And it shares with us the story of people trying to survive and perhaps find happiness and purpose for themselves.
Plus, the young Fitzempress, the future Henry II, was brilliant!(less)
Android Karenina, the newest in the "literary mash-up" trend from the publishers of the original mash-up, Pr...moreI got this book in a first reads giveaway.
Android Karenina, the newest in the "literary mash-up" trend from the publishers of the original mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is not just one silly book in a series of silly books. In fact, it's not silly, apart from the Reader's Discussion Guide--not that the two Jane Austen mash-ups were necessarily silly either, but this review is about Android Karenina. And if it's not a silly fad what is it? It's a really good book.
All the drama and tension, as well as the hope and joyousness, that one could ask for in a great book are there. The characters are deep (or shallow, as the case may be, but real), and rounded, and very human--even, and sometimes especially, the robots. And the story is interesting and exciting as well as suspenseful and heartbreaking. The wording of the message in the book may have changed, but the themes and ideas remain. The new elements of the world of Android Karenina blend pretty seamlessly with the old, as does the writing between the co-authors.
Leo Tolstoy's and Ben H. Winters' story does not always feature humans and humanity at their best, at their most likable or respectable, and as a result they may not always be very sympathetic characters. But being human does not necessarily mean being sympathetic (in fact, it often doesn't). Many of the humans in this story are not, in fact, very sympathetic, but many of the robots, on the other hand, are. And whether they are or not, it is hard not to become emotionally invested in what is happening to them.
I LOVED the inventiveness of the way the Russian society had adapted with the help of robots and the advancing technology. Improvements in the efficiency of travel and hard labor are obvious places to go, and Ben H. Winters did indeed go there, but he also had incredible ideas of cultural changes as well. Most interesting to me was the idea of floating balls, where couples dance high above the floor, leaping from jetstream to jetstream of air--what would have made people ever think of improving dancing, and how did they arrive at this idea?--and the way that class III robots enhanced their ladies' beauty by casting different colored lights to silhouette them. The creativity of these and other changes blew me away.
Once started, I had a very hard time putting this book down. Nearly every day this week I kept reading while I should have been going out to do some work, sometimes twice in one day, because I could not hold myself to my constant promise of "just one more chapter." Its length is considerable, but the desire to always keep reading on made it go pretty quickly.
Oh, and for those who were hoping for silly, there is a little bit of that too. My favorite silly quote, which I can't stop laughing at: p. 499 "The knock was not from the door, however, but from the windowpane. It shattered violently and an Honored Guest burst into the chamber and flew across the room toward her, shrieking horribly, its dozens of grimy yellow eyes flashing, its razor-sharp beak aimed like a dagger at her breast." This makes sense in the context of the story, but I love the sound of an "Honored Guest" bursting in through a window and attacking.(less)
The art is beautiful as always--the backdrops of almost every panel are works of art that I would hang on my wall, and Kaoru Mori has the look of Vict...moreThe art is beautiful as always--the backdrops of almost every panel are works of art that I would hang on my wall, and Kaoru Mori has the look of Victorian London down pat, from the buildings to the clothes and the interior decorating. Plus, this volume finally included a scene that really tugged at my heartstrings, pretty much the first time I felt any real emotion in this series.(less)