A satirical fable about the futility of war which is part autobiographical, and which uses sci fi elements as a metaphor. Best read slowly, it is a beA satirical fable about the futility of war which is part autobiographical, and which uses sci fi elements as a metaphor. Best read slowly, it is a beautifully crafted book, poignantly written and structurally brilliant. A masterclass in how to play with narrative structure, it reminded me of Tristram Shandy and The Time Travellers Wife (the latter of course written much later) and yet I have read nothing quite like it. The narrative circles around the bombing of Dresden with multiple times, perspectives and narrators. Vonnegut is able to produce powerful yet simple images on each page. A sentence that encapsulates the novel? You could make an almost random choice from any page it is so well crafted. Try "They got up to discover the door was unlocked." True, and false and simultaneously both. Unpick that....more
Probably the final book in the series and personally I felt this was in the top three for me with Son of Shadows and Prophecy. Like Prophecy, this stoProbably the final book in the series and personally I felt this was in the top three for me with Son of Shadows and Prophecy. Like Prophecy, this storyline pulled together a number of earlier threads and consequently the romance was relegated to a secondary storyline. That suited me just fine. Some reviewers disliked Maeve, I disagree, I enjoyed the fact that she was 20 and therefore older; having a character that was consequently less impulsive was interesting, though I felt given Bran and Liadden she could have a bit more bite, especially while in England. Given Bran's heritage, I find it hard to believe that Maeve was initially so hesitant and frankly I found it increasingly hard to care much about Silver who seemed to have no redeeming qualities other than beauty.
As the novel progressed Marillier seemed to remember Maeve's foster parents' background which pacified me a little. (I also felt that given Bran resolute character, i'm surprised he had not tried to find a solution for a saddle with Maeve-he is a perfect strategist and consummate professional after all.) However, the narrative had a few more twists, and whilst some were a little transparent others were well paced. Ciaran and the sisters were interesting, though I wasn't totally convinced that Marllier had thought through the fate/geis implications. If the geis was inevitable then the conscious role of others becomes questionable. But I guess Marillier's strength is in the mythological/romance side of the genre so there is a tendency or her characters to get stuck in a rut. If your strongest novel was Daughter then you may be frustrated by the lack of all suffering womanhood. The sex scenes have become increasingly demure as indeed has the violence, though this novel is lively enough. I found the more ambiguous male leads more interesting but the family really need to challenge the 'well not all of the tale was fit to be shared' routine if they don't to keep revisiting mistakes from the past.
I was glad we saw the Old Ones as well as the Tuath De and the range of characters was much more interesting. If you have wondered what happened to he raven then you need to read Marillier's short story....more
Well my enjoyment of these books seems to the inverse of many of the reviewers. I preferred this to Heir, yes the romantic interest was obvious from eWell my enjoyment of these books seems to the inverse of many of the reviewers. I preferred this to Heir, yes the romantic interest was obvious from early on but since he was unconscious most of the time it allowed some of the other characters to develop and a secondary storyline to unfold. Yes, unravelling of one of the mysteries was fairly obvious, lord knows why a family full of seers and otherworldly knowledgeable warriors couldn't have an inkling of the resolutions - you'd think they'd talk to each other a little more but I did enjoy seeing the Inis Eala community in action.
Having said that I wasn't convinced by Marillier's portrayal of Gareth on his return from the quest. As second on the island I can't believe he has never led any missions before; a shame Marillier felt she had to pigeon hole him into another stock romantic character. My other gripe concerned one of the female characters; since all of the key women in the series have had critical periods in their lives when they have been raped or abused or misunderstood or not listened to, why do they never stand up for each other or other women, particularly if they happen to have a seer's intuition into other people's distress. That family need to have a few more honest chats with the up coming siblings, especially 2 weeks before their 16th birthday!
All that notwithstanding I found this much more fun than the previous book. If the romance element is the mot important thread to you, perhaps you'd be best off ignoring this review and reading some of the 3 stars instead....more
I have to start with the fact that for Patrick Ness my 5 * bar is set ridiculously high and that's probably unfair. Without question, this is not an aI have to start with the fact that for Patrick Ness my 5 * bar is set ridiculously high and that's probably unfair. Without question, this is not an average 3* YA novel. The narrative style is unusual, the content is challenging and it's not like his other novels. True to form, Ness never patronises the YA audience. I can see why some readers would give this 5*.
I'm going to label the rest as a spoiler though I don't give away specific plot details, but you are better off approaching the novel without preconceptions. Give up on the reviews and just read it.
(view spoiler)[The novel is essentially existentialist: it plays with the idea of a text, a narrative and reality. It offers a series of questions and rigorously avoids answering them. It sets up a narrative and then undermines it...more than once. It creates a series of relationships and then pretty much sidesteps them. At times it feels quite original and at other points frustratingly derivative. Ness plays with stylistics, creates tension well (particularly in the mid section of the novel) explores structure and narrative...but I just wasn't quite convinced. If I'm honest I felt it needed more time to mature and perhaps more careful editing. As for my reservations there are perhaps three: although the opening is very powerfully written, I can't quite forgive Ness for the first 100 or so pages when I nearly put the book down. (I began to feel I had entered my own personal hell during the vacuous teen conversations.) I was never quite convinced by the characters or fully engaged by them; the argument about whether they were real felt circular and certainly didn't help! Finally, I found the existentialist debate ultimately empty and frustrating. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
3.5 Reading this felt a little like walking the Penine Way. Let me explain: I started optimistically, engaged by the jovial tone, eagerly reading the3.5 Reading this felt a little like walking the Penine Way. Let me explain: I started optimistically, engaged by the jovial tone, eagerly reading the opening chapters entertained by the carefully considered prose, and looking up maps to chart the route. I paced myself, anticipating the each chapter of an evening thus matching the pace of the walk. Then from about half way a sense of despondence settled, rather like a fine mist and I rather suspected I would quietly sneak off before the fog finally descended.
It wasn't that Armitage's writing gradually deteriorated, but somehow I lost my way and I couldn't determine why. I just couldn't gain a real sense of direction or purpose and searching for it through google maps became tedious. Perhaps I felt frustrated by the black and white photographs that did less to place the journey than the descriptions. Perhaps it was the absence of maps to chart the progress. Either way something was missing. Given the ending, perhaps it did accurately chart Armitage's mood: it increasingly seemed to lack a joy or engagement with either the people he met or the journey itself. It began to feel like a chore, something he had committed to and felt obliged to finish. And yet, just as I was ready to give up I turned a page and was met by a blast of sunlight in the shape of a poem, all the more radiant for being placed unexpectedly in the midst of the prose. And perhaps it was as simple as that. Armitage is a poet....more
First of all I am new reader of the series so I read the three books back to back. I found The Lies of Locke Lamora overindulgently descriptive but liFirst of all I am new reader of the series so I read the three books back to back. I found The Lies of Locke Lamora overindulgently descriptive but liked the characterisation and the complex narrative twists. I enjoyed the pace of Red Red Seas more. RoT is a slower paced novel: It is nowhere as frenetic as #1 and #2 and the mood is much less dark. In essence it focuses on Sabetha and Locke. There is a well paced dual narrative with a 16 year old Locke and the Gentleman Bastard crew juxtaposed against Locke's the present crisis - his poisoning and the consequences of his recovery. The narratives are heavily contextualised. On the plus side you experience two new worlds and cultures. However, if you don’t like plays and politics as a vehicle for a narrative you may struggle. As for the romantic encounters, they are slow and hesitant compared with Jean’s action packed romance with Ezri.
I enjoyed Lynch’s language and humour. Jean and Locke’s characterisation is strong, but I am not totally convinced by Sabetha. She seems remarkably fragile for a GB: on the one hand I can understand why she is defensive as a teenager, but her later reasons for ambivalence seem thin. My hope is that there is something else we don’t know about her.
I was disappointed that Jean was once more relegated to sidekick. I’m also hoping I've misread the hint of 'superpowers' in the final chapters. In my mind, Lynch's characters appeal because they are somewhat flawed and fragile heroes. Finally, if I’m honest I lost interest in the Bondsmagi’s posturing and didn’t care too much about Patience’s actions other than to wonder if she was a bit hormonal. Her final moves in relation to the Bondsmagi seemed somewhat dramatic given the provocation.
All in all Lynch has certainly produced a lively pageturner, but I’m not sure I was ever quite satisfied. It lacked the darkness and drive of #1, and the humour and drama of #2. Perhaps a change of pace and less a intense narrative was necessary for a transition to a longer series. Having said that, Lynch certainly catches your attention in the final pages. Probably 4.5 if I'm honest, but still good book in a great series....more
The novel draws you in to 10 year old Melanie's strange world through her narrative voice. Carey presents Melanie as innocent, alone and vulnerable, sThe novel draws you in to 10 year old Melanie's strange world through her narrative voice. Carey presents Melanie as innocent, alone and vulnerable, struggling to balance the cold and hostile environment she regards as home, with her yearning for love and recognition. Carey controls the reveal skilfully, as Melanie and the reader learns of Melanie's past and the reality she finds herself in.
Thereafter, the narrative branches out into a variety of perspectives. I have to say I am not normally a reader of post apocalyptic thrillers or horror novels. The horror here is not only in some graphic descriptions, but in a recognition of our capacity for violence, endurance and a desire to survive against all the odds. The afterward, identifies that the novel originated as a movie 'pitch' and it does read very 'visually'. It might also explain why the narrative and characterisation settles into a more predictable pattern from about half way, and the inevitable demise of various characters. However by this point I was engaged enough to be intrigued.
Although elements of the quest were predictable, I didn't second guess the ending which Carey delivers with both pathos and a sense of detached irony. I remember reading a short story by Ray Bradbury many years ago which ends with the writer holding up a metaphorical mirror to the reader. Carey presents you with hope but it comes at a price, challenging you to think about boundaries and the darker side of our instinct to survive.
For me this is a 4.5; the gruesome details made me wince somewhat (this not being my genre of choice). However, whilst I would agree with a few reviewers that there are elements of predictable generic patterns and character tropes, I think Carey's skill goes beyond that; he portrays his characters both critically and sympathetically, as each in their own way struggles to reach the hope at the bottom of Pandora's box, and each in their own way strives to survive.
*disclosure* This was an ARC received from the author. I have no links to the publisher....more
I got this to in order to read the shorts listed below. I'm not usually a fan of anthologies but this was fun. All the stories were strongly linked byI got this to in order to read the shorts listed below. I'm not usually a fan of anthologies but this was fun. All the stories were strongly linked by a Christmas and werewolf theme, but each of the authors explored the ideas in different ways. Most of these writers are horror rather than UF and there are no PNR stories here though Kerri Arthur and Charlaine Harris are close. Even though I am not really a horror reader I was entertained. The 15 shorts in this anthology are quite light-hearted & tongue in cheek: some are stories with a twist, some are retellings of Christmas tales within a werewolf or paranormal framework, some just have characters working in a seasonal setting. Many are quite short which was good- they fulfilled their brief then stopped. This also meant that you never really got irritated by a narrative style that you were uncomfortable with. Most significantly all the authors seemed to have fun writing them, and that enthusiasm was catching. Some readers may be irritated by the recurring Christmas theme, the the short length of the stories or by the lack of PNR given that it is edited by Charlaine Harris.
Think of them as a Christmas smorgasbord of werewolf snacks with a smattering of meatier spin off tales from established UF writers. There are too many to review each one but I've added brief comments on the 4 or 5 that caused me to request this for Christmas.
1. Charlaine Harris - Sookie Gift Wrap #8.5: I actually preferred this to the novels probably because it did't have Eric or Bill. Sookie is expecting solitary Christmas. A bit tongue in cheek.4* 2. Patricia Briggs - Star of David #3.5?- great story with David Christiansen, who gets a call from his estranged daughter just before Christmas. Great pace. 5* 3. Karen Chance - Rogue Elements4* creates a were - community within her existing world of war mages featuring Lia and her family. Needs a second read - too much packed in too fast - new view of her established world. Lia is more like Dory or Andrea from Ilona Andrews. 4. Carrie Vaughn - Il Est NeDavid # 2 - a lone werewolf seeks help from Kitty. This reminded me why I liked the Kitty series. Great short: Kitty at her best. 5*. 5. Keri Arthur - Christmas Past Brodie joins the heroine, Hannah, for a Christmas stake out. PR but romantic rather than sexy-quite sweet 4*...more
I really wasn't going to bother with this but since it was here, on the shelves in the holiday cottage in the Dordogne, with temperatures in the mid 3I really wasn't going to bother with this but since it was here, on the shelves in the holiday cottage in the Dordogne, with temperatures in the mid 30s and it being far too hot to do anything other than read or swim in the pool, I thought I'd find out what the 6th formers are reading out aloud to each other in the common room when the teachers aren't around.
What amazes me is that anyone got through the first 90 pages or so of poorly written 'plot' to get to the sex. (Though I suppose it did start off as adult Twi-hard fan fiction...) Once you get to the sex manual in the guise of the contract, bondage room and the sexual initation of the virginal heroine, I suppose the audience broadens to the curious but still...
What can I say - it's cliched predictable sex novel with a tortured controlling good looking hero who is dangerous but ultimately attractive to the inexperienced heroine - not so different to '9 and a half weeks' published 30 odd years ago,... which is quite sad really. Still - it's making its author very happy. The sex doesn't worry me particularly - it's not my kind of book: the 'insanely attractive dangerous sex god' cliche has been out there for ages and readers of the PR and R genres get that ..I just hope that girls who come across this for the first time have the sense to dismiss Grey as an archetype and don't go looking for dangerous men for real, or expect them to give them 4 orgasms a night/turn up on their doorstep with sympathy if they cry when they get out of their depth. ...more
A while since I read this and the style is more dry than I personally would like but it was engaging and I enjoyed the portrayal of the wolf and the iA while since I read this and the style is more dry than I personally would like but it was engaging and I enjoyed the portrayal of the wolf and the interation with humans. I wonder to what extent it influences modern UF and wolf groupies?! I suppose the British equivalent would be Black Beauty by Anna Sewell in that it is written in a similar period and is a cross between a children's story and social comment. (More horses fewer wolves though...)...more
This wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was prepared to read a series of tales told by different characters in the seraglio along the lines of 1001This wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was prepared to read a series of tales told by different characters in the seraglio along the lines of 1001 nights. Whilst we do hear some fantastical tales, they are interwoven with the lives and experiences of the women of the seraglio and the people of Bessa. I was surprised by the humour, intrigued by echoes of other stories (eg Midas), occasionally thrown by the voices, and engaged by both the richly drawn characters and the timeless quality of the narrative. This was particularly true of REM the ink teared, vision seeing librarian. Interestingly unlike many other reviewers, I read this much more slowly than normal: whilst the story was well paced I enjoyed savouring the different voices and enjoyed the artwork in this edition. The ultimate source of the city's destruction is signposted early on: this should have detracted from the narrative, but watching this shadow grow and realising that Bessa would fall made its success more poignant. Although predominantly the aspirational tale of women, the novel felt balanced by its male characters and by the acknowledgement of human folly and weakness....more
I read 2 volumes of Father Brown stories whilst in yr 8 of secondary school and loved them. They provided a way on to a more sophisticated style of wrI read 2 volumes of Father Brown stories whilst in yr 8 of secondary school and loved them. They provided a way on to a more sophisticated style of writing but to me were more accesible than Sherlock Holmes....more
I read this in yr 8 after my English teacher read chapter 1 aloud to the class and loved it. Great humour lovely descriptions of Corfu - though I wasI read this in yr 8 after my English teacher read chapter 1 aloud to the class and loved it. Great humour lovely descriptions of Corfu - though I was disappointed when I visied in a few years later in 1982!...more
A book about three generations of Chinese women spanning much of the 20th Century. I found this book utterly compelling from the description of ImperiA book about three generations of Chinese women spanning much of the 20th Century. I found this book utterly compelling from the description of Imperial China through the communist revolution and the late 20th century. A beautiful though harrowing account which brought history alive. If nothing else it is a fascinating account of how women's roles have shifted in 3 generations. Apparantly it is still banned in China. I started reading this a couple of weeks after I had seen the display of Chinese women's shoes in the Science museum....more
I bought this when on holiday in New Zealand after reading a recommendation somewhere. I think it was someone who commented on how alien English LiterI bought this when on holiday in New Zealand after reading a recommendation somewhere. I think it was someone who commented on how alien English Literature was to many students in NZ. So I thought I would try something written by an antipodean writer. Boy did I have no idea what I was getting myself into. It was hard work shifting cultures and expectations: the book is spectacularly written but one of the most harrowing I have ever read. Emotionally exhausting. I don't think I could ever read it again, but it did explain why western classics might seem irrelevant....more