Marko, Alana and their family hide out while they puzzle out how to make a living without revealing their identities or going back to war. Meanwhile,...moreMarko, Alana and their family hide out while they puzzle out how to make a living without revealing their identities or going back to war. Meanwhile, the Will and Gwendolyn maintain an uneasy peace while Slave Girl starts recovering from her ordeal. But alas, the planet they're on is not as idyllic as they'd assumed. Fantastic dialog, particularly between Lying Cat and Slave Girl, and the author and Prince Robot.(less)
The love story of two soldiers from opposing armies, told by their child long after the fact. By turns hilarious, touching, sexy and disturbing, this...moreThe love story of two soldiers from opposing armies, told by their child long after the fact. By turns hilarious, touching, sexy and disturbing, this unexpected tale had me hooked immediately. The art is perfect for the story, and has clean lines and a great sense of movement and emotion.(less)
Penelope Featherington has been in love with her bff's older brother Colin for over a decade. She long since gave up hope that he would ever think of...morePenelope Featherington has been in love with her bff's older brother Colin for over a decade. She long since gave up hope that he would ever think of her in a romantic way--until one day, he does. The only bar to their perfect happiness is that (view spoiler)[Penelope has been writing a gossip column under the name "Lady Whistledown" for the last twelve years. Colin is afraid her true identity will be revealed and her reputation marred, so he repeatedly yells about it and has sex in public places, because that's the best way to keep a secret and maintain your lady-love's pristine reputation. They're both idiots and the excerpts of their writing (her gossip columns, his travel journals) were so poorly written and anachronistic that they quite broke my suspension of disbelief. (hide spoiler)] Too, the banter between the Bridgertons is interminable, unvarying and utterly mechanical; it all follows the exact same pattern, chapter after chapter, book after book. The made-up names in these books are just too awful (Featherington isn't even the worst of the lot), the sex scenes boring and by-rote, and there's no plot or narrative tension. (less)
A novel of the Bronte family, from the children's childhoods to their deaths. It's told in a beautifully elliptical manner. I got the impression of gr...moreA novel of the Bronte family, from the children's childhoods to their deaths. It's told in a beautifully elliptical manner. I got the impression of grim, narrow lives with loads of tragedy and lack of opportunities--but also the shining, open vastness of Emily, Charlotte and Anne's imaginations.(less)
Ah Lee is supposed to go to school and be a good girl, but then she falls in love with a classmate. How can she date with a grandmother and a great-gr...moreAh Lee is supposed to go to school and be a good girl, but then she falls in love with a classmate. How can she date with a grandmother and a great-grandmother and innumerable aunts keeping watch over her? And how can she have a relationship without revealing that she died at 16 and has been killing and eating humans ever since?
Hilarious and touching and lovely. Each of the characters has so much personality, and I love the way Ah Lee's family works.(less)
An analysis of Moroccan women in the early 1990s and the ways in which they interacted with, obeyed, and subverted traditions and patriarchal authorit...moreAn analysis of Moroccan women in the early 1990s and the ways in which they interacted with, obeyed, and subverted traditions and patriarchal authority, particularly in the public marketplace of the suq. A fascinating subject, but the writing was maddening. There are sections in which the author describes the current and past of women's actions and expectations in Morocco, and I rejoiced when I found these, because the vast majority of this book was recursive and boring. Each chapter includes a several-page exact transcription of a dialog Kapchan or her research assistants overheard. The rest of the chapter is a sentence-by-sentence analysis of what is being said, alternated with multi-paragraph quotes from the earlier transcription. If I wanted to reread one woman's marketplace negotiations (which are themselves incredibly repetitive), I would flip back two pages. As it is, just believe that I can remember what I read mere minutes ago. Getting through this book was made all the harder by Kapchan's reliance on certain terms, which pop up several times a page:
subaltern commodification socially pre-scripted hybridizing force female discourse coercive embodied/embedded constructed as antagonistic 'others' entextualization
and by her purposefully convoluted phrasing, as these randomly chosen phrases will attest to:
fused-form speech employed strategically for pragmatic purposes counter-hegemonic and transgressive voices of the margins the reflexivity of their status as commodities (though not always as controlling commodities) redefine and circumscribe territories of newly sanctioned desire the gestural and emotional-aesthetic ethos structuring identities of difference the discursive reconstruction of identity, intertextual fields where competing tropes battle for metonymic dominance or accede to hybrid complexity
Basically, this book was not written to convey information. It was so clearly written to show off Kapchan's ability to write impenetrable sentences using academic buzzwords that I would be shocked if this wasn't her PhD dissertation. Why was this published? And moreover, why on earth would my public library buy this?(less)
Written in the 1930s and apparently very witty but with some ethnic slurs thrown in.
This has little to do with the book, but why do they insist on us...moreWritten in the 1930s and apparently very witty but with some ethnic slurs thrown in.
This has little to do with the book, but why do they insist on using immediately recognizable portraits of real people for fictional novels? I'm going to spend the entire book expecting Margaret Burne-Jones to pop up any page.(less)
Philippe was the grandson of Louis XIII and nephew to Louis XIV. Although one of the royal family, there were so many other royals, and the king and h...morePhilippe was the grandson of Louis XIII and nephew to Louis XIV. Although one of the royal family, there were so many other royals, and the king and his mistress (Mme de Maintenon) had taken such a dislike to him, that it seemed that Philippe would never be given any power or responsibility. Eventually he was given a military command and proved himself quite able, but alas, he intrigued to take the Spanish throne (which had been given to his cousin, Philip V of Spain) and was called back to France. There he lived as a useless courtier, plagued by rumors of intrigues, murders by poison (probably false), and incest with his daughters (also probably false). In rapid succession, Louis XIV's direct family members died, leaving behind just his great grandgrandson to inherit the throne.
Upon Louis XIV's death, Philippe took control of the Regency council and became the main power throughout Louis XV's youth. He attempted to reform the banking and tax system of France, but relied upon speculation on the success of the Louisiana colonies to do so, and this led to a terrible market crash. Philippe was more successful in the arena of diplomacy--he managed to avoid war and better diplomatic relations with England and Russia--and created a free library in the hotel de Nevers (a predecessor of the Bibliotheque Nationale?). At no point did he try to seize the throne from his little third cousin, and in fact trained him to handle diplomacy and administration like a king. Shortly after Louis XV took the throne at age thirteen, Philippe abruptly died in his chair. He was little mourned, and mostly remembered through scurrilous ditties and legends of his debauched lifestyle.
The author liked Philippe far better than I did: she saw virtues where I saw none, called him attractive when any portrait proves that a lie, and mourns that he never got a chance to rule (even though he actually had a huge amount of power during his eight year period as Regent). Worse than her partisanship, however, is how poorly she explains his life and milieu. She introduces people, doesn't mention them for a hundred pages, and when they pop again, she uses a completely different title or nickname for them. I read these biographies carefully and I've read other books set in this period, yet I still had to refer to the family tree as a cheatsheet, even as I finished the book. Philippe's mistresses appear only briefly, given barely a sentence each, even if they were by his side for years. I was never clear on why the court and Parisians singled out Philippe as so very morally corrupt when, from Pevitt's summary, it seems that the worst he did was have mistresses and late night dinner parties, which every other courtier was doing. Surely there was some reason Philippe was noted so often as a libertine, why it was so easy for everyone to believe that he seduced his daughters and killed his relatives?
Too, Pevitt spends an oddly large amount of time talking about Watteau. Five of the twenty-three illustrations are by or of Watteau, and there are numerous detailed descriptions of each of his paintings scattered in the text itself, to boot. WHY? Pevitt gives no indication that Philippe even particularly noticed or cared about Watteau, so I've no idea why she expended so much time on him. And it's not that she talks about all Rococo artists--Boucher isn't even mentioned, and Voltaire gets a quarter of the space she lavishes upon some painter whose colors are muddy and whose anatomy is laughable. (less)
Apparently Woolson had a spirited correspondence with Henry James, and on the basis of her half-joking criticism of The Portrait of a Lady I read her...moreApparently Woolson had a spirited correspondence with Henry James, and on the basis of her half-joking criticism of The Portrait of a Lady I read her short story "Miss Grief" and quite loved it. Here's a sample:
Once during this period I showed two of the short poems to Isabel, withholding of course the writer's name. "They were written by a woman," I explained.
"Her mind must have been disordered, poor thing!" Isabel said in her gentle way when she returned them--"at least, judging by these. They are hopelessly mixed and vague."
Now, they were not vague so much as vast. But I knew that I could not make Isabel comprehend it, and (so complex a creature is man) I do not know that I wanted her to comprehend it. These were the only ones in the whole collection that I would have shown her, and I was rather glad that she did not like even these. Not that poor Aaronna's poems were evil: they were simply unrestrained, large, vast, like the skies or the wind. Isabel was bounded on all sides, like a violet in a garden-bed. And I liked her so.
Amaranthe is a low level enforcer in the imperial capital. Most women go into business; few pursue a martial career, and so Amaranthe is viewed with s...moreAmaranthe is a low level enforcer in the imperial capital. Most women go into business; few pursue a martial career, and so Amaranthe is viewed with suspicion and derision by her colleagues. Then she impresses the emperor in a chance encounter, and soon the head of police gives her a special assignment: to kill the deadly assassin Sicarius. If she succeeds, she's guaranteed a promotion. But chances are, she'll die in the attempt...
This was a fabulous adventure, with double crosses, quick thinking, great action scenes, and a good deal of creative problem solving. I particularly loved the interactions between Amaranthe and her crew (a few of which I quoted in the status updates section of this review) and the way she strives to solve problems without using violence.
This book is offered free online, but beware--it's the beginning of a long series, and after reading the first book, you'll probably want to read the rest!(less)
Anne Margaret was a lady who effortlessly belonged to the upper crust of society--until Ash Turner, her third cousin, revealed that her parents' marri...moreAnne Margaret was a lady who effortlessly belonged to the upper crust of society--until Ash Turner, her third cousin, revealed that her parents' marriage was bigamous. Now known to be a bastard, she and her brothers are utterly disinherited, and their cantankerous father doesn't intend to help them. Their last chance at regaining their titles is to win a vote in the House of Lords, and to that end Margaret pretends to be a nurse in order to spy upon Ash Turner. She discovers a number of secrets that would win her family's case, but she also falls in love with him. Margaret is torn between loyalty toward her brothers and her knowledge that Ash would make a much better duke than they would.
I didn't care a jot for the romance between Margaret and Ash--in fact, I ended up skimming portions of it, because it was so by-the-numbers. I was surprised, however, by the energy and depth the author managed to give to two well-worn tropes: Ash helps Margaret to respect her own judgement above society's, and Margaret helps Ash come to terms with his learning disability. I've read these kinds of stories a dozen times before, but Milan managed to imbue them with far more emotion and tension than I've seen elsewhere. Too, the relationships between siblings engaged me. I look forward to reading about Ash's brothers, who already have a great deal of personality.
That said, I hate the cover and the title has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Someday romance novels will not have titles and cover art assigned to them at random, but that day is not yet come.(less)