Not my favorite Jennifer Crusie. I like the central romance -- her specialty is flawed people falling in love and then evolving because of that love tNot my favorite Jennifer Crusie. I like the central romance -- her specialty is flawed people falling in love and then evolving because of that love to make the romance work better. This is a slightly clunkier romance than her others, but still sturdy.
But the mystery hung around the romance is strange and convoluted and the resolution is meh. At some point, at least every chapter, I'd lose track of some character and have to deduce it from context. I'm still not sure who the hell Olivia is. Also, this book feels dated -- more 1980s than 2001. The patronizing husband who doesn't want his wife to work seems retro. And all these women getting married in their late teens!
Still a fine book, just where I"d start with Crusie. ...more
The only problem with Faking It is that after I read it, I want to paint adorable animals and jungle motifs on all my furniture. Which would drive myThe only problem with Faking It is that after I read it, I want to paint adorable animals and jungle motifs on all my furniture. Which would drive my husband insane. ...more
Not a good way to start this rich and complicated series but a must-read treat for those who already love the world of the Folly. The writing was pitcNot a good way to start this rich and complicated series but a must-read treat for those who already love the world of the Folly. The writing was pitch perfect and I wasn't surprised when I finally looked at the author's byline and saw that Aaronovitch himself had written it. The art isn't so bad that it distracts. ...more
A fine debut novel. Perhaps a little burdened with Blocks O Exposition but quite good nonetheless and one presumes Ms. Bonesteel will become more deftA fine debut novel. Perhaps a little burdened with Blocks O Exposition but quite good nonetheless and one presumes Ms. Bonesteel will become more deft with time. A rollicking cross between mil SF and space opera, with just enough science to make it interesting but not the tedious chunks that you often get in milSF. (If long technical descriptions are you jam, this is not the series for you.)
MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW
I see that there's a sequel on the horizon and I wonder if it will be Elena again and will be have Trey and Greg. I hated Greg like a toothache and I'd love to see him gone. I'm not sure HOW she'd manage to get Trey back? But I'll be happy to hang out with Jessica and iwth Elena again. ...more
A fine book from Seanan. I perhaps suffered from heightened expectations -- everyone was gushing about this for so long that I expected it to be mind-A fine book from Seanan. I perhaps suffered from heightened expectations -- everyone was gushing about this for so long that I expected it to be mind-blowing. It wasn't. It was a lovely little book, though, and worth your time. I hope she revisits the school again. ...more
Normally I'm very fond of the Mercy books but this one left me feeling... meh.
The tie-ins to other stories and novellas were necessary to bulk up whatNormally I'm very fond of the Mercy books but this one left me feeling... meh.
The tie-ins to other stories and novellas were necessary to bulk up what was a fairly slim plot. But I hadn't read those stories (because I found them boring) so the exposition was tedious and I didn't care.
What's more, the Margaret-Thomas subplot brought into sharp focus a problem I've been able to handwave for a while: Mercy's a cool girl surrounded by men. There are a few other women in her stories, but not many. Jess, her mom, and women of the pack who generally dislike her or can't be close to her because of the power struggle. Mostly she's the only woman in a landscape of males who like/admire/respect/love her. It's a frustrating trope and I've been able to mostly ignore it but it pissed me off this time.
I'm hopeful that Mercy gets some girlfriends and that this book was so meh becasue it was setting up the next book. ...more
Sometimes you read a book and it fills a need you didn't even know you had.
The taxonomy of mystery books is a complicated one and not one I'm qualifiSometimes you read a book and it fills a need you didn't even know you had.
The taxonomy of mystery books is a complicated one and not one I'm qualified to speak about. But my favorite mystery series are what, in my own head, I call "Big Man" books. It's a very specific sub-genre marked by a literal big man -- he's always big and always a man -- at its center. Think Travis McGee, Walt Longmire, and Spenser. What Jack Reacher wishes he could be.
Our hero is self-contained, tested and tempered. His moral compass is steadfast. The prose is by turns lush and spare, but always sharply observant. He's always well read, cultured, and insightful. He's an outsider, with an outsider's keen eye for human interactions. The setting is always vital and vibrant. The violence is elegant, brutal, and central to his appeal.
And the women are problematic.
If you don't understand why women in these books are problematic, then this isn't the review or the series for you. But if you do... oh, do I have some books for you.
Because as much as I love Big Man mysteries, as a woman reader, they can be hard to get through. As a woman, you have to turn off all feminism to enter these worlds because this type of book takes place in a man's world and violence is a man's business. Women can be lovers, trophies, clients, villains, but we are always outsiders, there at the author's sufferance.
Until I met Aud, I figured I'd never have a book that resolved the tension between my feminism and my love of Big Man mysteries. In fact, women are so inimical to the genre that it had never occurred to me to even imagine that such a book could exist! But Aud is a revelation. She moves with the same grace and muscularity, the same beautiful violence, through the world. She's a big woman and a keen observer of humanity and otherwise very very like the Big Men books. Just... a woman. And that makes a remarkable difference.
Griffith came to my attention because of the exceptional Hild which was luminous and dense. I don't know why I assumed Hild was a first book but I did. But these earlier books are just as lovely, if dramatically different. The keen observations are the same, though, and the detailed nature writing. (If you think nature writing in the middle of a murder mystery sounds weird, allow me to commend Craig Johnson's books to you.) The prose is less dense, faster and more transparent, but still lovely.
And there are women in this world! Fully realized women with depth and grace and motivations! It's exceptional!
It's not flawless. She hits a few notes too hard, too often. And Aud is young enough to lack some of the self-awareness that marks a mature Big Man. But it's a first book for the character and Spenser and Walt grow, too. I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series. ...more
I know I've read this book before. I remember little snatches of it. Or maybe I read a different book set in the same world? I have no idea. It's enteI know I've read this book before. I remember little snatches of it. Or maybe I read a different book set in the same world? I have no idea. It's entertaining and I love librarian protagonists. Worth a few hours of your time. ...more
I was ready to love this book. Bird Janet meets Beauty and the Beast?! Awesome! (Reading, I couldn't help but notice that there was a flavor of HungerI was ready to love this book. Bird Janet meets Beauty and the Beast?! Awesome! (Reading, I couldn't help but notice that there was a flavor of Hunger Games in there, too.) And, to be fair, it should have a 2.5 star rating, not a 2. It was decent if a little YA-formulaic: strong female heroine, broody and very masculine handsome hero, broody and very masculine handsome antihero, fairy-tale reboot, evil queen, difficult family. vague magic, and a little hot sex.
I dunno. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it.
I didn't buy Tamlin as the hero. He was too by-the-numbers and his motives became deeply suspect as soon as we found out about the curse. Lucien, sure. I'd buy him as the romantic lead. Maybe even Rhysand. But Tamlin was blank and dull and dutiful.
The world building seemed too elaborate and not sturdy enough.
The romance didn't build in a way that I felt. Maybe I've just been in my 40s too long to appreciate a teen romance, but I remember that tumbling incandescent ride of falling in love when I was a teen and I just didn't get that from here.
Also, I'm very very tired of teen girls and multi-centuries old men falling in love. I understand why it's a common trope in the genre, from Buffy to Twilight to Mercy, but it's a little wearing. ...more
**spoiler alert** This review deals with all three (thus far) books in the series. It contains spoilers. It's not really a review so much a commentary**spoiler alert** This review deals with all three (thus far) books in the series. It contains spoilers. It's not really a review so much a commentary/observation.
I don't know if Ms. Huff intended it this way, but what I took away from this book was this: This is what a traditional fantasy series would look like if the gender roles were reversed.
Think about it. The Gale girls are high-handed, arrogant, they sleep with whom the choose, they mostly ignore issues of consent, they do all the real work, and while boys are sometimes let in, they really don't play a big role. The women are most of the characters, they have complex relationships with one another and to the world, they take action. The Gale men are tied to a place, generally pursued rather than pursuing, seen as passive, and they have exactly one power: "to choose."
It's not a full-on reversal. If it were, the men would be two-dimensional and have no distinguishing characteristics other than their gender. And there would be far fewer of them, they would speak and do less, and they wouldn't have any voice at all. Ms. Tuff is too good a writer to turn her men into cardboard cut outs.
I adore this series, even if it's a little ... odd in places. (The semi-incestuous thing was a more than a little strange until I decided/grasped that it's a big clan and you can certain date your fifth cousin without any issues.) I love the old-school 70s hippie ethos of a matriarchal clan of kitchen witches engaging in free-love and Mists of Avalon-type rituals.
The five star review is for the book this should have been.
The note in the back explains, quite patiently, that this isn't the book Sir Terry wanted.The five star review is for the book this should have been.
The note in the back explains, quite patiently, that this isn't the book Sir Terry wanted. It's an outline, really, with some bits fleshed out and some... not. And I'm glad that we got one last visit with Tiffany and the other ladies. I'm sad we didn't get to read the book it should have been.
That said, Sir Terry helped us all grieve for his death by taking Granny from us and then showing that, while there's a hole left in the world when the great ones pass, there are others coming along to fill it up. I sat, reading this book, and sobbing very very quietly, for the inevitable loss of a Great One. I'm glad we got to say goodbye....more
**spoiler alert** This stands as a review for all three book.
This series suffered from mismatched expectations.
One of the strengths of urban fantasy (**spoiler alert** This stands as a review for all three book.
This series suffered from mismatched expectations.
One of the strengths of urban fantasy (as opposed to epic fantasy) is that the worldbuilding doesn't need to be a huge job on the author's part. The world is much as we know it, only with werewolves, vampires, etc. This allows for the characters and the writing to shine through. And if an author wants to go deep with world building, there's plenty of room to do so. Look at Kim Harrison's Hollows or Patrcia Briggs's Mercy series.
Sadly, Ms. Bishop took that strength and turned it to a weakness. [SPOILERS FOLLOW]
When I picked up the first book, I assumed it was a standard urban fantasy. I was pleasantly surprised when it seemed to be somewhat deeper -- an entire re-writing of human history. How would humanity look if we'd evolved in a world with a different apex predator? That's an amazing premise and could have been a fascinating book.
But Ms. Bishop didn't even try. I mean, there's some broad and shallow world building -- a different dominant religion, calling Europe "Cel-Romano", etc. -- but really, it's our world. There's TV, oil-powered vehicles, jeans, pizza, burgers. How do we get jeans without the California gold rush? How do we get pizza if the terra indigene didn't bother cultivating tomatoes in the New World? Why would the all power terra indigene allow humans to use petroleum products at all?
Also, humans have JUST invented the airplane?
It was uneven and jarring, constantly pulling me out of the story, to consider what this world that she invented could have looked like. It could have been cool.
I know I'm a hard ass for world building, so I wasn't going to love this series. But I can usually settle in and get over myself and enjoy the story. But Ms. Bishop kept trying to make the story bigger and kept drawing attention to the weaknesses therein.
What started as one young girl's attempt to escape a terrible life turned into a total Mary Sue journey in which Meg Saves The World Through Her Innate Sweetness. We know she's sweet because that's the only word people use to describe her. Also because she's just always doing nice things for people. There may be some grit and spunk in there, too, but mostly she's a blank character and not terribly interesting.
(Let's just take a minute here to diverge into reality and point out that girls who were raised in this level of abuse would not be functional. They would have serious detachment disorder, among other things.)
But everyone just LOVES her because she's sweet. She's so sweet that the elementals love her and the crows love her and Sam comes out of his damages shell to love her and Henry loves her and Erebus loves her... and... and...
And that love for her literally saves humanity! Because through tens of thousands of years, no human and terra indigene have ever tried to communicate better, get to know each other better? Really? Seriously? Her mere presence is enough to evolve an entire community to a higher order!
Her shallow world building crumbles and falls as she keeps expanding the plot outward.
Particularly since she's invoking parallels in our real world. It so happens that I read this during the weeks when the news was full stories that seems to resonate: the anniversary of the Murrah Federal Building bombing, the riots in Baltimore, the Boston Marathon Bombing Trial, girls rescued from Boko Haram, the anniversary of Doctor King's speech to the Mass. Legislature.
The world she's written has humans living at a drastic disadvantage under a tremendous power imbalance. There is good material to be mined there, and she seemed to be TRYING to say interesting things. But if she was, the analogy felt sour.
The gender dynamics are not good either.
Women fall into a few categories. Most of them are like Meg -- young, not mothers, characterized as sweet and kind (but not bunny-ish, no, we sneer at bunny-ish girls, they have a little wolf in them!). They have little to distinguish them one from the other -- I honestly couldn't remember who was just married and who was engaged. Even the Crows falls into this -- there's no distinction between the Crow girls. They are all just interchangeable young things.
Some of them are grasping, damaged, stupid, manipulative, shallow, and status hungry monsters. (Asia Crane and Elayne Borden and Elayne's mom.)
Nyx is literally the embodiment of a cliche (and back to the bad world building -- why do their vampires look so much like ours?). We know nothing about her other than she likes to dress in long dark evening gowns.
Tess was the only interesting female in the whole book. Except, maybe, Jean. Who disappears entirely.
There weren't MANY females, though. The police department and seemingly all the Wolves, and Henry, and most the vampires, and all the political players, are all male. And they are doofus males, like some 60s sitcom characters who are all flustered by women crying and say things like "is it that time of the month?" and are so unsure of their own basic emotions that it takes three books for Simon to realize he is in love with Meg.
All that said, this series gets two stars instead of one for a single reason. I grew up with a girl who cut herself and this is the first time I've ever seen her represented in a book. As a hero, nonetheless. I can't pretend to know anything about the psychology the drives self-cutting but I can imagine this might an interesting book for someone who deals with that issue....more