I thought Silkworm was one of the best books I read last year, so multi-layered and crafty. And I first fell in love with these characters, Strike andI thought Silkworm was one of the best books I read last year, so multi-layered and crafty. And I first fell in love with these characters, Strike and his assistant Robin, and the dark, strange world they inhabit, in Cuckoo’s Calling. But, unfortunately, books in a series will be compared to each other, and this third Strike novel is only a 3 for me.
1. I’d never had trouble with JKR’s Britishness before, so I’m puzzled by my irritation now. I had to read some sentences three times to grasp what was modifying what in the long, awkward British syntax. And all the British slang and accents and countless little towns they visit during their investigations all blurred together. I was reminded of Stieg Larsson’s Dragon-Tattoo-Girl series with all the Swedish places and details that held no meaning for me. But you were pulled through it by compelling characters, and both Strike and Robin are acting infuriatingly stupid most of the time in this outing. I realize this was additional contrived conflict for our characters, but all of their stupidity is never really resolved…
2. The book drags in the beginning. It’s too long.
3. There are too many threads all over the place. The investigation is all over the place. I didn’t really understand the logic of focusing on one area based on nothing when there were avenues to explore that were more logical and evidence-based. By the time we got to the “ah-hah” that’s supposed to be satisfying, I was asking “who the heck was so-and-so”?
4. I realize the ending was meant to be vague to create anticipation for the next allotment. But, this was just waaaaaay too vague. I needed just one more stinking clue regarding the repairing of Strike and Robin’s relationship!
All that being said, it’s JK Rowling, and she takes you through the emotional meat grinder, lol. I fell back in love with both of these characters by the end. They are so good together. And I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one. ...more
The use of the "unreliable" narrator technique worked much better for me in this book than in "Gone Girl," because I actually felt some sympathy for tThe use of the "unreliable" narrator technique worked much better for me in this book than in "Gone Girl," because I actually felt some sympathy for this unreliable narrator -- an alcoholic who blacks out. (I liked none of the characters in GG -- both the husband and wife could have killed each other and I wouldn't have cared.)
There were times I laughed, shook my head, and said aloud "what the hell is really going on here!?" I was consumed with morbid curiosity about these people's lives, lol. And it was tense! Like watching a baby toddle in to oncoming traffic. All in all, this thriller was a very fun read, heck, even thrilling.
No doubt a Hollywood movie will follow, starring someone like, I don't know, Amy Schumer as the alcoholic chick. ...more
Honestly, this is a confusing hot-mess of a book...I don't know what to say except I've loved Sue Grafton and her girl-detective Kinsey Millhone forevHonestly, this is a confusing hot-mess of a book...I don't know what to say except I've loved Sue Grafton and her girl-detective Kinsey Millhone forever, this is Book No. 24 in the series, and we are limping into the finish line.
Chapters end abruptly, three different plots run amok, Kinsey herself is just going through the motions with the people in her life. This is the thing that bewilders me the most. The special aspect of Sue's writing is the extreme level of DETAILS in every scene that makes you feel as if you are really there and solving the mystery with Kinsey. The devil is in the details, and it's so satisfying intellectually to sort through the puzzle pieces with Kinsey. But in this 24th offering, the details are simply boring, predictable. It's apparent how bored Sue is with it all.
There's a feeling of sadness running through the book -- Kinsey will always be alone, Kinsey is becoming less effective at catching the bad guy, even helpless, Kinsey does the same things over and over again. End of story. ...more
I just read that Janet Dailey, author of a kabillion romance novels since 1976, died in 2013 at the age of 69. So who is writing these books publishedI just read that Janet Dailey, author of a kabillion romance novels since 1976, died in 2013 at the age of 69. So who is writing these books published solely under her name two years later? That's rather mercenary, don't you think....more
I loved the finale in this trilogy because seeing the very flawed characters from the first book evolve into the very best versions of themselves in tI loved the finale in this trilogy because seeing the very flawed characters from the first book evolve into the very best versions of themselves in the third was gratifying. There is a sense of hope and belief that it's never too late to fix anything when you are a fixer. This is the message of the entire series.
Grossman maintained the artful flirting with "breaking the fourth wall" in which characters discuss, question, and analyze the plot and action and their role in it as if they were the author writing their own scenes. I really enjoyed the comparisons of magician to author or magician to "god" (imagine a god arranging the pieces on a chessboard, deciding who wins and loses with the flick of a finger) and magician to reader (normal people who create their own lives out of nothing every day).
And Grossman's descriptive verse was off the charts in this one with adjectives I've never seen used before in that context and making up entirely new words to use as adjectives, lol. His imagination is impressive, a really wacky funhouse ride as he creates new worlds, new creatures, new ways to look at normal objects. ...more
Book Two of the Gritty Harry Potter Series: our antihero/hero Quentin is put on a quest to learn how to be heroic, or in other words, how, as an AsperBook Two of the Gritty Harry Potter Series: our antihero/hero Quentin is put on a quest to learn how to be heroic, or in other words, how, as an Asperger's person, to learn how to connect to his time, place, and people, feel appreciation in the face of sacrifices made for him, make sacrifices for others, and choose joy over despair.
His quest doesn't look like a quest from the inside. It just looks like the universe is screwing with him, like the universe does for most of us. I found this piece of the story interesting and relatable, acknowledging we're all on a psychological quest every day to connect, care, feel, fix, crash, and then start over.
I'm still fascinated by the way Grossman writes this series as if the characters are the author writing their own story around themselves with free will and self-determination.
The saga continues. I'm very curious to see what happens to Quentin now that he is more kingly than he ever was as a king. The real and agonizing evolution of this character is marvelous, worth four stars alone. ...more
Folks, I have found it: the perfect contemporary romance novel. I’m so glad I gave this a shot. I bought both No. 1 and this No. 3 in the series togetFolks, I have found it: the perfect contemporary romance novel. I’m so glad I gave this a shot. I bought both No. 1 and this No. 3 in the series together, and while No. 1 fell flat with me, this No. 3 was marvelous. The premise is a romance novel junkie looking for her own romance novel in real life, which sets up humorous juxtaposing of Real Life Crap within her Romantic Fantasy. The transitions between the fantasy narrative in the heroine’s head and the story’s actual narrative are smooth and very well-done.
Clayton spoke in the foreword how difficult to write this one, and I can appreciate that statement. The biggest challenge was probably tone – the Real Life can’t be too real! There are no missteps here. She keeps it light and funny throughout. I’m so glad she persevered.
BTW, I felt the first book in the series was way too cavalier in its characters’ attitudes toward sex, like it was perfunctory daily exercise or something, and ironically, in this one, the hero and heroine do not kiss until page 234 of the 245-page book. SO worth the wait! Anticipation, people! Also, I felt pummeled by the Clever in the first. Here Clayton is more restrained, deft, poignant, more everything I wanted in the first book.
Message to People Who Design Contemporary Romance Covers: Please stop what you’re doing. Actually read the book. This one is the worst I’ve seen. The guy on the cover looks like Dylan McDermott in a tux. Our hero was a librarian with glasses and elbow patches. Our heroine was a tattooed, pierced pixie with 2-inch-long hair and combat boots. She rarely wore dresses, certainly not one like the cover model. You guys are such pandering idiots. No reduction of the book’s rating due to this because I know Clayton had no say in the cover. ...more
This book completely fell apart at the end. The final big hurdle for the couple was based entirely on illogical behavior. Also, the stereotypes everywThis book completely fell apart at the end. The final big hurdle for the couple was based entirely on illogical behavior. Also, the stereotypes everywhere, hmm. ...more
Titling a series of contemporary romance comedy novels based on cocktail names sounded so fun! The reality is it took me a million years to finish thiTitling a series of contemporary romance comedy novels based on cocktail names sounded so fun! The reality is it took me a million years to finish this book. And I’m very conflicted about how to rate the experience.
On one hand, I kinda hate this new trend in contemporary romance of texting and text-speak as the witty banter between a heroine and hero (just another death knell ringing for the English language and literature)…and yet, it was the best part of this book. It was abundantly clear that the heroine is the Audrey Hepburn of 2015, clever, sassy, quirky, EXCEPT LACKING ALL THE CLASS. I can imagine, though, how it must resonate with the 20s demographic. Well, just check out all the positive reviews on this site, gifs flashing throughout an endless scroll.
I guess the real problem for me was the attitude toward sex embraced by this book. It’s fun, it’s a right, it’s an entitlement, it’s No Big Deal. I guess the “romance” part is two people with this attitude about sex ever falling in love.
You know, I kept thinking we were going to find out the neighbor banging his harem of girls every night against the bed headboard was actually Something Else causing the heroine’s apartment wall to tremble. It was the perfect setup for a comedic wrong assumption. Nope. The guy really was a man-whore.
Maybe I’m being too harsh because I’m not 19 and shallow and oblivious to what this book could have been with a little more poignancy and restraint. ...more
This book was chosen as this year’s community-wide Big Read by my local library (an annual event in which they distribute thousands of free copies ofThis book was chosen as this year’s community-wide Big Read by my local library (an annual event in which they distribute thousands of free copies of the book and organize correlating activities such as, in this case, fantasy art contests, mapmaking workshops, and scholarly discussions over a slice of Dragon Pie). In the past, selections have been True Grit, The Joy Luck Club, Old School, The Maltese Falcon. I think the goal this year was to offer a widely regarded fantasy that wasn’t too epic (Lord of the Rings) nor too controversial (Harry Potter). So, they reached back to 1968 and found a fantasy classic many fantasy aficionados of today had never heard of, which was cool.
It’s fascinating to compare Le Guin’s voice and vision to Tolkien or Rowling. I mean: there is no battle among factions, no unspeakable violent head-chopping and flesh-burning. Le Guin’s tale involves the battle everyone fights to grow out of pride, arrogance, boasting, self-doubt, self-absorption, fear, shame. And it’s so lyrical and beautiful.
I enjoy reading these “old books” (this one published in 1968, lol) because I am convinced they could never get published today. First of all, can you imagine a fantasy novel with no head-chopping and flesh-burning making it with the ADHD reader of today? Booooring. (HUGE SPOILER HERE!) The main character taking a boat voyage of 18 days or something with his gaze never wavering from the horizon is a FATAL lack of action. And when he gets where he’s going to confront the horrible evil shadow? Nothing. They embrace and he realizes it’s his own shadow, the dark, empty part of himself that has to be accepted, understood, marginalized. Can modern audiences get behind this sort of self-analysis? What would the Hollywood movie look like?
This is the second one I’ve read with a dog in it, and apparently there’s a whole series based on crazThese Susan Donovan books are ridiculously cute.
This is the second one I’ve read with a dog in it, and apparently there’s a whole series based on crazy, silly, hilarious dogs bringing their owners together with their true loves. The super-friendly, goofy Labradoodle in this one stole MY heart as he went about doing doggy things like chewing up the new boyfriend’s underwear and humping legs. I have a dog just like him sooo, there’s that.
But, I would have given this book five stars if only Donovan had re-visited the villain at the end. The story line following the villain’s trek by car across the country to reach his target transcended “typical romance novel.” The interactions with lifeless, damaged, desperate young women in a Walmart, laundromat, and truck stop diner were mesmerizing. I had hoped for a closure there – this was a…heroic villain. This grieving father obsessed with revenge, moving through a landscape of sordid sadness and despair, deserved his loose ends tied up.
To summarize, Donovan writes funny, life-embracing romantic stories, and I’m working my way through her canon with a smile on my face. But, this one came darn close to perfection with the juxtaposing of the villain’s story line inside it, which illustrated what life looks like with no romance or humor or forgiveness. It’s not worth living.
Hail to the gifted contemporary romance novelists working today in this maligned genre, who keep reminding us to open our hearts. Thank you for your stories, Susan. ...more
This is Susan Donovan's first book, published in 2002, and she's going to get a LOT better at fully developing vivid villains and crafting edgy confliThis is Susan Donovan's first book, published in 2002, and she's going to get a LOT better at fully developing vivid villains and crafting edgy conflict. Still, three stars for the insanely cute premise: an athletic, tomboyish daughter of a Martha Stewart-type forced to carry on her deceased mother's legacy and empire. She lives a lie as she knows nothing about cooking, cleaning, organizing, gardening, etc. Picture a perfectly coiffed, polished woman in a signature pink Chanel suit jacket taping her weekly segment of household tips for a tv station, and underneath the console out of the camera's view, she's wearing soccer shorts and cleats. (Obviously we're going to be exploring the idea of perfection, self-criticism, acceptance, and love.) The Irish cop-hero and his family were a little boring and trite to me, though.
Insanely CUTE with the disco songs running through the narrative and the tough law enforcement guy stuck with the weird Chinese Crested toy dog who wiInsanely CUTE with the disco songs running through the narrative and the tough law enforcement guy stuck with the weird Chinese Crested toy dog who witnessed a murder. So light, funny, and enjoyable....more
Oh, no. A new author for me -- I'll be busy reading everything she's written all summer, lol. These are like cotton candy, mindless rom-com movies, yoOh, no. A new author for me -- I'll be busy reading everything she's written all summer, lol. These are like cotton candy, mindless rom-com movies, you can't help but laugh. Donovan's voice sounds like your best friend on the phone telling you about her latest romantic mis-adventure. These are so perfect for spring/summer!!...more
These Carpenter and Quincannon mysteries are seriously cute and fun, with all the turn-of-the-century Victorian jingo. Touted as "historical mysteriesThese Carpenter and Quincannon mysteries are seriously cute and fun, with all the turn-of-the-century Victorian jingo. Touted as "historical mysteries," they are heavy on accurate details of 1890s San Francisco in all its awesome and weird glory.
Think about that for a second; the setting has offered to the series so far: Chinatown tongs, Barbary Coast lowlife pirates, beaches and cliffs with glowing light phenomena, GOLD, unscrupulous business magnates, high society, opium, a community built with abandoned streetcars, Tenderloin gaming houses and brothels. Such a ripe environment for this Nick-and-Nora team to move around in. There's Quincannon, a Scot blustering "Balderdash!" and "Thunder and damnation!" when he's shot at. And Carpenter chirping in with "A heinous crime indeed." and "Devil's work, I tell you!"
The books are about 200 pages, breezed through in a couple of hours.
I really enjoy the very different ways the two work, highlighting differences in gender. For example, it makes perfect sense that she would visit a florist for additional clues (I'll bet Victorian florists would know all about secret romantic alliances and such!). Meanwhile, he is traipsing through the opium dens with his trusty Navy Colt strapped to his leg. Chapters switch back and forth between their two points-of-view.
Some people want their reading to be a highbrow, transformative experience, worthy of the time and energy invested, and this book is not for them. ButSome people want their reading to be a highbrow, transformative experience, worthy of the time and energy invested, and this book is not for them. But it was exactly what I wanted yesterday.
Five days ago my son's house was hit by a tornado, and we've been busy moving them, cleaning, worrying. I went to the library and found this, with a first sentence as follows: "Birthdays are like a box of tampons."
It took zero effort on my part to be instantly immersed in Something Else other than my own problems. Carmichael douses every chapter with zany mayhem and heavy campy tone, and it's not even that funny, and sometimes it doesn't even make sense, but it doesn't matter. This is mindless consumption, popcorn. With extra cheese. Finished in one day. Forgotten in another.
You curious about the punchline for that first sentence? "When the box is new, you thoughtlessly reach in and grab another but as the box empties you start worrying about running out before you're ready." See, it's not thaaat funny. But, who cares? It served its purpose.
The relationship between women and their clothes (and jewelry, makeup, etc.) is intense and complex, and this amazing book is a serious, definitely anThe relationship between women and their clothes (and jewelry, makeup, etc.) is intense and complex, and this amazing book is a serious, definitely anthropological, approach to begin unraveling the whole mess. Feelings about clothing are almost as complicated as the women themselves. The three editors have distributed thousands of surveys, compiled hundreds of responses and short essays, and personally interviewed many more. There are over 600 voices in this book, sharing their thoughts about clothing themselves, and they are all devastatingly funny or heartbreaking or fascinating in some way.
It’s all so deeply psychological. There are stern mothers, tragic sisters, wacky aunts, reckless best friends, confused husbands, shallow boyfriends, and all the memories, events, jobs, places, purposes, rules…an enormous amount of energy and thought aimed at achieving a perception or non-perception. They use clothes as shelter, weapons, gifts, tools, homage, insult. It’s exhausting.
I loved the chapters of photographs women submitted of their mothers before they became mothers. It is clear that children and time suck the vitality from women! And every chapter lead-in was a ridiculous photo montage of some woman’s duplicates in her closet e.g. Mary Lou’s prescription eyeglasses or Heather’s navy wool blazers or Yuuma’s striped shirts. Such head-shaking evidence that we all buy the same damn thing over and over. There’s a map of some woman’s bedroom floor of discarded clothing as she tries to dress for a funeral, with explanations why each piece was deemed unsuitable. There’s another map following the steps a woman takes while on a shopping trip at the mall. And yet more photos of real women discussing the “outfit in the picture.”
I really enjoyed the scientific approach to what many see as a frivolous topic. They couldn't be more wrong. This book has impressive heft. ...more
*Spoiler* Damn you, JoJo Moyes. Damn you! I need to get up early tomorrow morning but I only have 100 pages to go and Tims and Nicol are duking it out*Spoiler* Damn you, JoJo Moyes. Damn you! I need to get up early tomorrow morning but I only have 100 pages to go and Tims and Nicol are duking it out below decks, and the ship is on fire and the damn dog has just escaped from the girls's room and we are on the verge of finding out what the heck is going on with that bitch Avice. They're lowering very-pregnant Margaret down into the lifeboat now. Ugh! I must find out what happens to all these characters!
I'ts been a while since I've read a book as moving. And the whole WWII brides-on-a-war-ship historical setting was just icing on the cake. I absolutely loved all the chapter introductions with snippets from newspapers, brochures, naval memoirs, etc. Amazing how Moyes used them to create dry observance of just how misleading news and brochures and naval men's memoirs can be, lol, with their sugarcoating. Bloody brilliant....more
I’m 51 and finally reading this famous classic…and I have mixed feelings about it.
At one point, I was quietly sobbing, after the trial’s verdict. I waI’m 51 and finally reading this famous classic…and I have mixed feelings about it.
At one point, I was quietly sobbing, after the trial’s verdict. I was awed by the craft of the last 4 pages – such brilliant technique, to review the events of the entire book from a different perspective, from a neighbor’s porch and everything he may have observed from the outside looking in. The ability to see from another’s perspective is a major milestone in a child’s brain development, and this is a story of childhood innocence lost and growing up. I’m such a sucker for a creative writing technique I haven’t seen before. Yet, during the entire Part 1, I wondered ‘what is this book about – three children and their silly games?’
The pacing of this book is so different from what is published today, slow to develop. There is no urgent crass need to grab a reader’s attention immediately. There are no cliff-hanger sentences at each chapter’s end (a la that charlatan James Patterson), well, maybe a few, but they’re not cheap and overused. She takes her time to tell her story the way she wants to, with no expected formula or story arc. She switches her voice back and forth between child and adult versions of herself, but mostly this story of innocence lost is told by the children through their bewildered, fragmented observations. It’s fitting that the story be told by the children because adults become immune to the evil of the world. They help us tap back into a child’s essence of purity and morality.
I wanted to talk about two aspects of the legendary status of this book: its Pulitzer Prize and its widespread banning.
It’s amusing that Harper Lee donated to a Virginia literacy fund upon hearing that one of their school boards banned her book for being “immoral” – she assumed a bunch of people there simply can’t read. It’s hard to imagine a book with a more moral agenda. According to an academic website, the book was “banned” as recently as 2006 in a sophomore literature class in Normal, IL, as “being degrading to African Americans.” I find the use of the word “banned” very misleading in these discussions. I had no trouble checking this book out at the library. You can buy a copy anywhere. Removing a book from a suggested reading list is not “banning” it. Using the word “banned” is a tactic to get people’s panties in a wad. We can’t get rid of Internet porn; I don’t think do-gooders are going to get rid of TKAM easily.
I personally would be reluctant to teach this book in a classroom. I would hate being forced to read and discuss as a student in a group because…I couldn’t handle it if I were a black student. MY heart couldn’t bear the pain I imagine inflicted upon THEIR hearts. I recommend every adult in America read the book, but I feel more protective toward a black young person forced to read the evisceration of her ancestral people in a novel. I’m concerned that by reading about 1935 Alabama, we can’t deal with 2015 America. Yes, we should take a moral stand on evil, but sometimes it feels like all we do is talk about evil. This was a good approach in 1960; I’m not sure it’s the most effective now.
The book does address more evil than racism. There’s alcoholism, drug addiction, violence, sexism, mob rule, gossiping, etc. It’s a heavy-handed moral edict that bashes one’s sensibilities, delivered in a sweet child’s innocent voice. And isn’t that a good thing? It’s sort of ruthless in its approach. I guess I prefer…humor, comedians who make us laugh at our shortcomings, and then we privately consider change and improvement. It’s a gentler approach. I’m just wondering if a preachy approach will get us where we need to be today.
Would TKAP win a Pulitzer today? I don’t think so…because it’s not 1960, the dawn of the civil rights era. This book definitely fueled the movement, causing sweeping societal change. It was the right book in the right place at the right time. But can it stand alone at the top today? Sadly, no, because readers expect and publishers deliver only proven formulaic niche books, packaged in series, today. I wonder if it could even get published. ...more
I can't believe how much I hated this book. I'm sad for the English language. This may put me off romance novels forever.
This is the childish way HoovI can't believe how much I hated this book. I'm sad for the English language. This may put me off romance novels forever.
This is the childish way Hoover writes: Worst. Book. I've. Ever. Read. Totally. A lot.
The 19,027 votes this book received in the Best Romance of 2014 category on this website had to be 13-year-old girls on i-phones. This book would receive zero stars from me if possible. Gack, I need to go find some mind bleach now. I am seriously masochistic in the way I make myself finish awful books. ...more