It has been years since I read this, so this will be short. I really loved it, mostly because I really love Tomie dePaola's work. His drawing style isIt has been years since I read this, so this will be short. I really loved it, mostly because I really love Tomie dePaola's work. His drawing style is very unique, instantly recognizable, and really good. I personally prefer some of his other work but this is a really good story with the pictures aiding the story rather than working against the text. The two main characters are Strega Nona, a good witch ('are you a good witch or a bad witch?'), and Big Anthony, a local town's person and her assistant. This is one of those stories where the smart, knowledgeable person tells the person left behind not to do something because something bad would happen. Three guesses as to what happens and the first two don't count. As this is a kid's book, want to bet it all comes out right in the end?...more
*5 Stars* (I didn’t think it would make it based on the likely score I thought it would get)
Scorecard: (Out of 10) * Quality of Writing - 8 * Pace - 9*5 Stars* (I didn’t think it would make it based on the likely score I thought it would get)
Scorecard: (Out of 10) * Quality of Writing - 8 * Pace - 9 * Plot development - 9 * Characters - 10 * Enjoyability - 8 * Insightfulness - 9 * Ease of Reading - 9 * Photos/Illustrations - N/A Final Score: 62/70 = 89%
If I don’t start a series at the beginning, sometimes the previous stories don’t stand out in my memory, no matter how much I read them. This book suffers partially from this personal phenomenon though I also seem to repress parts of the book because of what happens at the end (see below). Before that can happen again, I’m getting this review done.
Many authors have written with varying success pastiches of supposed ‘lost’ cases of Holmes and Watson. One of the better authors I’ve found is Larry Millett, even though his stories take Holmes far from fog-shrouded London and into the wilds of Minnesota. This is his first attempt and though I find some of the later ones more developed and with tighter writing, this is a great first book. Well written with few problems, the plot is riveting and the mystery almost impossible to solve. The clues are there but even reading for the third time, I still couldn’t pick them out until the reveal. The characters, both historical and fiction, are well done with depth and a distinctive voice all their own.
One of the best features of his book (and the consecutive ones) is his frequent use of superscript number that correspond to end notes. This is one of those books I geek out over and I use two bookmarks, one solely to keep my place in the end notes. They add a great deal to the story and are always interesting to read.
The author has that ability, sadly rare, to perfectly weave history to fiction until you are not sure where one begins and the other ends. Others might be patch jobs; this is a tapestry.
All the above is not to say the book is without its problems. The author, like so many others facing the same temptation, tends to over indulge in the creation of ‘lost cases’ that Watson alludes to. While most readers of Sherlock Holmes pastiches get used to it, it still annoys me at times.
His Holmes and Watson at times seem to have multiple personalities. One chapter, they react one way, the next time they react completely differently to a similar situation. The plot explains this to a degree as the action continues to ramp up, it affects the characters as they deal with deadly situations in a world vastly different from the London they know so intimately. But it still causes reading whiplash at times.
This is my main issue with the book but since it is so entwined with the ending, I have to hide it or hide the entire review, and I didn’t want to do that. (view spoiler)[At the end, in the midst of the climatic denouement, I remembered why I couldn’t recall how this book ended. I had blocked it. The reason for this is twofold. One, the actual historical events during the fire at Hinckley were horrific. Over 400 people died in one of the most horrible ways possible and the author captures that. The air seems drier and hotter as you read; you can almost feel the flames coming for you. And a few times he showed what happened when a person lost to the fire. It was a bit…distressing (understatement) to read because this had really happened to real people. The second reason is the major one for me. I still have problems reading it. When Holmes confronts the Red Demon, the villain becomes covered in flammable liquid and Holmes stops him by using the lighter (plot point) and setting…him…ablaze. This isn’t the Downey Jr. action hero Holmes, this is Holmes from the books who rarely fires a gun and he’s setting people on fire. While not graphic, it is in a word, shocking. (hide spoiler)]
*Conclusion* If you like or want to read beyond the Doyle canon, this is a well written and interesting continuing story. The history Millett adds with his end notes lends a richness to the story which helps this stand out over other similar books. It is, however, a bit rough at times and the readers should be prepared.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It has been forever since I last read this book. I can't help but feel that the author fell into the same pit that many Sherlock Holmes authors have -It has been forever since I last read this book. I can't help but feel that the author fell into the same pit that many Sherlock Holmes authors have - can't think of what else to have him solve...lets send him somewhere weird! This is very much like the rest of her books where Basil goes someplace not Baker St. and experiences things exclusive to that country and/or people group.
Not to say they are bad...they are just extremely predictable. The first was the best. ...more
*The Gush* Perhaps this stands out to me because this is one of the first P&P rewrites I read but I quite like this book. The chance to se*3 Stars*
*The Gush* Perhaps this stands out to me because this is one of the first P&P rewrites I read but I quite like this book. The chance to see the events of the novel from the closed mouth Mr. Darcy's POV is something no pan can truthfully say they haven't wished for. While I'm not a huge fan of diary-style books, the placing of key events both before and after as well as a chance to glimpse his times away from Lizzy really works well.
Characters: All essentially the same, though some, particularly Darcy, are given a chance to show the hidden reasons for some of their actions.
Plot: The same as the original novel except for a few scenes before and after and all are from Darcy's perspective. As the story is set up in diary entries, we not only see his view of events, reasons behind his actions, and his speculations of the hows and whys of those around him, but we also have a time table for the events. This helped me, as I had never before been entirely clear on the passage of time. In the novel, it seems to happen so quickly as we are reading it but months can go by between instances and here we see how Darcy struggles to accept his love of Elizabeth and then struggles in the aftermath of her rejection. It is a very interesting and much hoped for POV.
Writing: While the idea for the book is sound, the writing is...less so. On the positive side, the writing flows well and this is the only diary form novel I've ever been able to read. It is a good read, an easy read, but not necessarily a great read.
*The Rant* My main complaint is the lack of proper tone in the writing. By which I mean that the 'voice' of the story does not sound correct to the time period. While the writer does try, she does not really succeed. This is very hard to do, I understand that, but it is something that is lacking in this version. It also has the disadvantage of being almost too easy. After awhile, the form, the way things are presented, etc. all come out sounding like '1st this happened, then this, then they said that, and I thought that'...and so on. I dislike comparing books to each other because I find it unfair to both the author and the books themselves, but one should, if the idea of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's POV appeals to them, read Darcy's Story. It reads much more like a contemporary of Austen's story and goes much deeper.
*Conclusion* While not the best version of Darcy's side of the story, this is a very decent romp through the man's situation, thoughts, and actions which leads to a better understanding of why he might have acted as he did in P&P. The format of the diary lends one to feel they are merely reading over his shoulder as events take place. It does have its problems, but it is well worth a read by Pride and Prejudice fans who want a little more.
Not: Might appeal more to people with an understanding of fan fiction....more
*The Gush* This is the book every Pride & Prejudice lover has been dreaming of: the story told from Darcy's perspective that reads*4 to 4.4 stars*
*The Gush* This is the book every Pride & Prejudice lover has been dreaming of: the story told from Darcy's perspective that reads like a contemporary tale. The author does an excellent job of allowing Darcy his voice while also allowing us some information outside of his knowledge. This book is written to neatly mirror Pride & Prejudice and even includes quotes surrounding the various sections. The author's look at the character is solidly based, not just on what we know from the book but what we know of the time. The time period was obviously well researched and the world surrounding Darcy is well built indeed. Yet, you do not feel like you are reading a dry, dusty tome but rather a novel of the time period, a companion to Jane Austen's work.
Characters: No added characters, a plus. We do see more of a few characters we've always wished to - Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliam - and a few you'd rather see as little of as possible - Lady Catherine and Caroline Bingley. So yes, we do get more of the painful reparte of these two ladies, but we also get to really see the relationship between Georgiana and Darcy. We also see Fitzwillaim help as well as hurt Darcy's chances with Elizabeth. In this book, characters are built on, not rewritten.
Plot: The best thing I can say is the pieces in this fit perfectly with Pride and Prejudice. They seem to flow one to the other, so that the reader gets both sides of the story. In this book, we get to see Wickham's infamous attempt at elopment with Georgiana first thing, as everything is laid out in chronological order. One of the best plots I've seen is printed fan fiction (my phrase to describe books like this).
Writing: The writing, as stated previously is nothing short of superb. It reads as if it was written in the time period (as close as one written today can come to). It flows even if it reads slightly odd to today's reader and captures the voice of it's male central protagonist very well.
*The Rant* There is little to say here. It is not perfect and yes I did not give it 5 stars though it came very close). I will admit the author seems to go too long talking about how 'right' his pride is and not enough time working through his new attitude. This is understandable with how the author set the book up, but it doesn't really set the transformation up completely. However, as this gives the reader more info than Pride and Prejudice, I can't complain too much.
*Conclusion* Of all the printed Pride and Prejudice fanfiction out there, this is the one to read. Not only does it conscentrate on Darcy's side of the story, but it is one of the best written ones I've found. I particularly liked the author's note at the end talking about the book. I always love hearing directly from the author about a book they've written and this one does not disappoint....more
*The Gush* I was not expecting to like this series. When my friend told me I should read it, I at first was planning on sayi**spoiler alert** *4 stars*
*The Gush* I was not expecting to like this series. When my friend told me I should read it, I at first was planning on saying no. However, I ended up saying ok with the thought that I'd give the first one a try and then not read the rest. Boy was I wrong. I started this series last night and by this morning I've already finished the third book. Not my normal cup of tea (or coffee with this story ;P) but I'm glad I took the chance.
The story centers around the Silver Star Tea Room, a business in 1920's Japan run by a young lady, Mizuki. However, nobody comes here to drink tea or coffee; instead they come to meet the baku Hiruko. A baku is a demon who eats and lives off dreams. Hiruko has the appearance of a young boy and people come to the tea room so that he will walk them through their dreams and help them in exchange for their nightmare to eat. While he claims he only does this for the nightmare, he does seem to go out of his way to help his customers and seems sad when it doesn't seem to work. He is a very interesting and contradictory character.
Characters: While many people come and go through the tea room, their nightmares are more interesting than they themselves are. The ones to focus on are Mizuki and Hiruko. In this book, Mizuki seems like a background character, commenting and welcoming customers but simply a way to learn more about Hiruko. The baku himself is a little bit more developed. We see him take an interest in the people that come to him, though he claims to only care about his next meal. He appears to be a young boy but he often acts much older. He is a very interesting character with a lot of potential.
Plot: The book is broken up into small chapters each with its own new character suffering from a nightmare. The chapter is the baku walking through the dream with them and helping them work though it. Since they're nightmares, most of them are pretty dark and depressing and the ending is often up to characters. While the author has not done much about it yet, there appears to be an overarching story about Mizuki and Hiruko, but it's very faint in this one.
Writing and Drawing: Shin Mashiba is a very talented artist with a gorgous drawing style. The setting is very detailed and the characters are very well rendered. The writing (also done by the artist) is very well thought out and each chapter flows into the other as well as keeping your interest even with little knowledge of the person the nightmare is about. This is a very well put together manga.
*The Rant* My only real problem is the reason I had to mark this for spoilers. I realize Hiruko is a baku, a demon, but he really tries to help people in their nightmares and they all seem to end the same-very badly. Almost none of these stories end well and despite the short time you spend with the customers, you do come to care about them. So to see every single one of them go out with such hope and see it shot down later is very disappointing. The one I was most disgusted with was the one where the customer chose to leave a body part behind in the dream which represented a memory she would forget. After they come out of the dream, her former boyfriend runs in with a policeman saying she stabbed him. She is then able to say quite honestly that she has no recollection of the event. I nearly threw the book. Other than the bad endings, this is a good series and I'm glad I read it.
*Conclusion* This is a great series and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the artist has in store for us. The drawing style is good and the writing engaging. If you like supernatural manga or manga set in historical periods in Japan, this is a good series to pick up....more
As I did a big review for the first volume I'm just going to touch on what I liked here. Introducing The Delirium really added a new dimension to thisAs I did a big review for the first volume I'm just going to touch on what I liked here. Introducing The Delirium really added a new dimension to this story. I'm not sure what Kairi is, but I'm very interested to find out.
Mizuki really came out with a bang in this book. Finding out about her brother and why Hiruko stays there was very sad and very wonderful at the same time. I'm looking forward to seeing that developed more.
The painting story was probably my favorite. Even though it was sad and heartwrenching, it was extremely poiginent and it is by far my favorite.
The one thing I wish desperatly had never happened was the introduction of Hifumi Misumi. Man this guy annoys me! I want to see him go away so bad. The only time I laugh when he's around is when Hiruko makes fun of him.
I read someone shelve it as horror. I guess it is, but I really didn't think about it like that. I don't read horror at all and though there's blood and stuff in this, I don't really see it as horror. More dark suspense or just supernatural....more
I think my favorite chapter in this book was the one about the narrator of silent films. It ended very sadly but they talk about a job that no longerI think my favorite chapter in this book was the one about the narrator of silent films. It ended very sadly but they talk about a job that no longer exists and in fact is completely foreign to several generations of people. It was interesting to read about.
The saddest one was about the emotionless boy. I really couldn't hardly handle that one.
Having another story end up at the Delirium was great too.
The best story was the tiny one at the end with the golden bath tub. That's all I need to say....more
*The Gush* I have read the first one in this series, though it has been some time. What I remember is...liking it but almost despite itsel*4.5-5 Stars*
*The Gush* I have read the first one in this series, though it has been some time. What I remember is...liking it but almost despite itself. It wasn't that it was bad it was just...weird. Not what I was prepared for. Well I went into this with my eyes wide open and it helped, a lot. I knew to expect some kind of supernatural mystery and found this one actually well thought out and very intriguing. Everyone has hear of the Hell-Fire Club and to get to 'meet' its originator was quite interesting. Meeting our old friends from Norwood and beyond was wonderful and I hope though doubt that Mrs. Darcy will continue her acquaintance and friendship with Elinor Ferris and the rest.
Characters: Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are very well in character, not only from Jane Austen's book but from the first book in this series. Darcy is still highly skeptical even after seeing interesting things and Lizzy is left knowing things but not having anyone to talk to about them. The rest of the characters are all very close to their original characters though they do change as a result of what takes place in the story.
Plot: We see the engagement and the subsequent falling out of Kitty Bennett to young Harry Dashwood. With him comes meetings between the characters from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. We see the Dashwood sisters older and their marriages happy ones. We see the former Miss Lucy Steele, now Lucy Ferris, in all her glory. We see Harry Dashwood change and resemble too much his ancestor, Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Hell-Fire Club. The plot was slightly predictable in my opinion, but well done and interesting.
Writing: Very well done. This is rather on the high end of Jane Austen 'printed fan fiction' in terms of sounding like it was actually written back then. The characters speak mostly as they would have in the day and the writing style is similar. Even the discussion of the supernatural and spiritualism fit in with the time period, with all its gothic horrors and Mrs. Radcliffe novels.
*The Rant* I can't help but feel that the situation would never happen. Nor the one in the book before. Darcy was too much a man of the world and would have been unable to believe in or participate in anything like what takes place here and in the previous story. However, the characterizations are so good that I am able to over look this most of the time while reading it.
*Conclusion* I surprisingly really enjoyed this book and I can't wait to read the next one, which she won an award for. If you are a fan of Jane Austen 'printed fan fiction' and mysteries, I'd check this one out....more
*The Gush* As I stated in my review of the first book in this series, this was one of the major series of my childhood. I read the first book*5+ Stars*
*The Gush* As I stated in my review of the first book in this series, this was one of the major series of my childhood. I read the first book a dozen times over...and then the sequel was published. I bought it basically as soon as it came out and have treasured it ever since. I was so excited that another whole book with beautiful paintings and a great story would add to my knowledge of such a strange and intriguing place, and it does not disappoint. The World Beneath tells of the further adventures of Arthur and Will Denison in their new home. While Will's destiny takes him to the sky as a Skybax rider, Arthur's takes him to the earth or rather below it as he travels the forgotten lands of the World Beneath. This time he takes more than just Bix, his protoceratop friend and translator, with Lee Crabb and a new character traveling with him. Both father and son make new discoveries, rediscover old ones, and continue to grow as people and citzens of Dinotopia.
Characters: Many of our old friends are here, from Bix and Nallab the librarian, to Brokenhorn and of course our two main characters. However, there are plenty of new ones as well. Oriana, the beautiful musician becomes an important member of Arthur's team not to mention important to him personally. New dinosaurs abound from Stubbs, a nephew or some such to Brokenhorn, to Stinktooth-a king among kings. While some are more developed than others because of the way the story develops, all are given their time in the sun, not to mention under the artist's brush.
Plot: No longer are we strangers discovering a new and different world. Right away we are welcomed back in with open arms as if we are old friends recently returned for a visit. Will continues to learn as an apprentice Skybax rider while his father has grown well known for his scientific explorations and is beginning a new one back to the World Beneath. Bix of course will go with him, and Crabb unexpectedly shows up with the offer of a submersible. Oriana completes the group with the arrival of half of a key needs to open doors which will allow them further into that hidden land than anyone has gone in ages. Most of the book is their story with the wonders, dangers, and history they uncover. At times the story swings away to check in with Will as he flies decoy for a caravan through the Rainy Basin. The two stories meet in the middle and travel until the climax with a chase across Dinotopia...with some unusual allies.
Writing/Illustrations: Both as wonderful and as detailed as the last. There are some very memorable illustrations in this one, not to mention more details - including a map of Waterfall City. I always look at that for several minutes. The characters are very well treated and the story flows very well. A sequel worthy of its predecessor.
*The Rant* Again, little to say here. My one complaint when it first came out was that it wasn't like the first. Well, duh. Since than, I have come to realize why that is and the reason that strengthens this book, not weakens it. The first book was an introduction, not just for the characters but for the reader as well. We in essence traveled the land with the Denisons and discovered the fascinating land along side them. However, this is the sequel. We are no longer strangers to Dinotopia but old friends come to visit again. So we no longer need a travel guide or diary to walk us through but merely be met with open arms and pointed in the right direction. This is what the sequel does and it does it quite well. We see both the familiar and the new, as any good visit to a previous spot should have and we met new friends as well as old, again as it should be. So my rant turns into not much of one, only a bit of advice. This is not the first book, it doesn't have to be. This frees the book and allows it to take us deeper into this fantastical land, in this case literally.
*Conclusion* If you liked the first book, read this one as soon as you can! If you haven't read the first one yet, put this one down and go read that one first. Then come back and enjoy a second visit....more
*The Gush* Wow. I had looked into the book a number of times but too many times of being burned stayed my hand. The idea sounded too good to b*5 Stars*
*The Gush* Wow. I had looked into the book a number of times but too many times of being burned stayed my hand. The idea sounded too good to be true and my experience tends to it either being too good to be true or seeing a wonderful idea mangled by the author. So I keep gazing at it longingly but was unwilling to give it a chance. Until today. I found this book relatively cheap at a used book store and decided to bite the bullet. And how glad I am that I did. This is urban fantasy at its finest with steampunk and historical fiction creatively mixed in for flavor. This is a seamlessly blended book that could have easily turned into a glorified mess. I tip my hat to the author (particularly if I could have one like the one adorning Alexia's head on the cover).
Characters: First one must discuss the protagonist, Alexia Tarabotti. Not only is she a spinster, but Soulless (a preternatural), a strong and opinionated woman, and worse half Italian. ;P Alexia is simply delightful. I was worried at first that the author would have difficulties balancing the emotional symptoms of her state with making her an interesting and sympathetic character but this was handled so perfectly that one hardly even notices going on. Alexia is easy to like, even when behaving so abominably. She is very learned, matching wits not only with the head of the supernatural police (an alpha werewolf) but scientist on the cutting edge of knowledge at the time. She is a modern girl with an appreciation for older values which makes her delightfully shocking without being priggish. The next character would be Lord Maccon, the head of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) and the above mentioned alpha. While of high class, he is a werewolf and worse comes originally from Scotland. They argue constantly (always terribly amusing, even often to themselves) but you quickly see another side to their reactions to each other. Maccon may be rough around the edges, but he is loyal, honorable, and essentially a good man. Alexia's family is ridiculous, causing the reader much needed laughter during tense moments, and Professor Lyall, Maccon's Beta, is wonderfully played off of both his Alpha and Alexia. Lord Akeldama, the vampire we get to know the best in this book, reminds me of a more roguish Percy Blakeney (aka Scarlet Pimpernel) with his intelligence hidden behind a foppish exterior to allow him to slip under radar. Also, I laugh every time he opens his mouth. He is too funny. The baddies are not particularly well developed, but as they serve merely to give form to the idea of a heartless scientist who cares nothing for who they hurt in the name of knowledge, this is somewhat explainable.
Plot: The first half of the book is introduction, not only of the characters but their world around them and the changes of theirs to our own. Things do not truly pick up speed till about half way through the story, when we begin to see a hidden threat seeming to pop up out of the ground. Alexia, even when not actively trying to get involved, seems to continually be made to be involved and has to use her intelligence and her nerve to save more than just herself. The characters fit well into their slightly off-centered historical fiction setting, upholding and subverting ideas and situations that arose in Victorian England. The 'mystery' is not really one but rather a conflict that would naturally arise in the world the author created.
Writing: The writing is quite good in this one. Not only does it read similarly to something written at the time, but her characters sound as if they have walked straight from London's fog and gas lite lamps. Alexia may say things that are shocking and not what a young lady would say, but that is part of her character. The author's descriptions help the reader truly picture the setting, though her attention to Alexia's dresses may not be appreciated by all(I loved it). The story flows well, with no harsh changes of narrative flow and the plot opens up slowly but consistently.
*The Rant* There is little to put here. I wish we had met the baddies early and seen more of their reasons and thoughts (though I believe they will probably be cropping up again in the series). I wish we had learned more about her father (again, I hope that will come later in the series), and I didn't like how little Alexia seemed to know about the world she was unfortunately apart of-though I assume she will learned with us.
*Conclusion* I hate that I waited so long to try this series. This has in a large part restored my faith in what can be written. This is an excellent fantasy series made better with steampunk tendencies. If you like either of those, try this. If you like both, why isn't this yet on your bookshelf?...more