Well, what can I say. It was well-written, meticulously researched, exactingly plotted. I wanted desperately to feel engaged by it, but I never seemed...moreWell, what can I say. It was well-written, meticulously researched, exactingly plotted. I wanted desperately to feel engaged by it, but I never seemed to really connect to anyone. A re-read might help answer some of the questions, in case I missed something, but I don't think I care enough to try it again.
For instance, I knew the minute that (view spoiler)[Ian (hide spoiler)] was mentioned that he was (view spoiler)[Gideon (hide spoiler)]; it was so incredibly obvious to me that I couldn't believe Elizabeth didn't see it. I also thought it was a little odd that she spends centuries running and changing her first name, but in every reality she appears to be a doctor/healer of some kind, and she seems to keep the last name Hawksmith. Really? Because he's never, ever going to connection Bess Hawksmith to Eliza Hawksmith to Elise Hawksmith, when you stay in the roughly the same areas and do EXACTLY THE SAME THING? I am not impressed with your witness protection skills. Tell me he find Katie Warren as a blacksmith in Moscow, and I'll be a little more impressed.
Also, my understanding from the transformation scene early in Bess's story that she embraced the "dark arts," and that there was a very literal deal with the devil involved for her immortality. Unless Gideon was the only one who made the sacrifice and it didn't affect her (which was not the impression I got), then how was she able to embrace the Wiccan/good witch power later? If her power was dark arts power, how was it healing? And if it wasn't evil, why did she always refer to it as the "dark arts"? Etc, etc, etc....the boundaries of what she was doing and what her powers were, and the sources of those powers, never made sense to me. Again, I'm open to the idea that I mis-read or misunderstood parts, but the problem for me is, I don't care enough to go back and figure it out. The disconnect stayed to the very end, and I remain feeling disconnected and unimpressed.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I have a love/hate relationships with books that have a massive twist that the end, which make me want to go back and read th...more(Real rating, 3.5 stars.)
I have a love/hate relationships with books that have a massive twist that the end, which make me want to go back and read the whole thing again, with the end in mind. Having read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dance, I thought I had a handle on what kind of twists and plot devices to expect, but turns out, I was wrong. I got a very big shock at the end when it turned out that the prism I had been viewing the entire book through was completely wrong. It put me in the position of realizing that I'd been following the path of a semi-unreliable narrator, without either of us knowing it. On the one hand, well played, Howe! On the other...now I have to read the whole thing again to figure out where we went wrong.
Having read Physick first helped a lot going into this, because I knew what to expect in terms of how Howe treats supernatural events. I did like her first book better; I felt like it had a better flow and more movement, while the action in this one is largely internal. It's a different book, with much more hinted at or glimpsed in corners than directly stated. It takes some getting used to, a kind of shift in your to go "Oh, this means THAT." It drove me crazy for a bit, but eventually I caught on to it.
One final note, that having my heroine slowly move toward (view spoiler)[opium addiction (hide spoiler)] while dealing with (view spoiler)[an eating disorder (hide spoiler)] was very uncomfortable for me. It was handled tastefully and wasn't glorified, but it still kind of twisted my stomach. I was glad to see it resolved at the end, even though the epilogue did feel a little tacked on to provide the (relatively) happy endings.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This, right here, demonstrated to me why Agatha Christie is still considered the mistress of the mystery. I spent the entire book on the proverbial ed...moreThis, right here, demonstrated to me why Agatha Christie is still considered the mistress of the mystery. I spent the entire book on the proverbial edge of my seat, and I still never guessed what was coming. Every time I thought I had it figured out, oops! Plot twist! By the end I thought I had finally seen through all the smoke screens and was smugly assured that I had figured out who the secret adversary was. It was all so obvious, the hints dropped so clearly along the way, that I was sure I'd seen through Christie's machinations. She was good, but no match for a modern, sophisticated reader like me.
I was blown away by the final reveal, but not in a "surprise, the butler did it" kind of way. She had masterfully twisted me so around that I fell right into the trap, along with the Young Adventurers (at least for a time--they got out of it before I did). The only nit that I have is that some of the dialog felt rather forced, especially Julius's, as the token American. He was so broadly drawn for awhile, his language so over the top, that it got under my skin after a bit. It felt like an American author putting in a random Australian character who goes around saying "G'day, mate!" and "Shrimp on the barbie!" all the time. Just...no.
But, that being said, I will definitely be hunting up the further adventures of Tommy and Tuppence, and I'm sure that Christie will keep surprising me. (less)
This is a collection of short stories, all loosely connected, that start with hair-raising horror, and end with a couple of dreamy romance. It started...moreThis is a collection of short stories, all loosely connected, that start with hair-raising horror, and end with a couple of dreamy romance. It started with a bang and ended with a whimper--I was much more impressed with the 5 star beginning than what was (for me) the two star end. Definitely read at least the first 4 stories with the lights on, though!(less)
I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this book, since I am usually somewhat leery of anything that would self-categorize as "chick lit." But I w...moreI wasn't sure what I was going to think of this book, since I am usually somewhat leery of anything that would self-categorize as "chick lit." But I was pleasantly surprised in how much I enjoyed this, and how engrossing it all became. I started it on Thursday night (and read an hour past when I'd meant to), didn't get to it on Friday, and then finished the rest of it in a couple of long sessions Saturday. I loved going on this journey of discovery with Alice, seeing the her new world through her old eyes, trying to piece together a missing decade. For awhile I was rooting for her not to get her memories back, since I agreed with her, New!Alice is insufferable.
But of course she did, and I was scared for a bit that I wasn't going to get the ending I wanted, that it would be bittersweet and "that's life" and an unsatisfying ending. But I held on for the epilogue, and everything came out all right in the end for me.
For a "light" book, it actually gave me a lot to chew on, about how much of who we are is our memories, our experiences, and how much is our choices. Can we simply "choose" to be happy, to "get over it," to "move on"? When your life erodes so gradually you don't even know it's gone, can you get it back? Should you? I had all of this and more to chew on, to ponder whether "growing up" is simply an excuse to take ourselves way, way too seriously. Obviously, adjustments have to be made, but at what point do you lose yourself to what you're "supposed" to be?
(There are a lot of quotation marks in that paragraph. Yikes.)
As an added bonus, amidst all the questions and the morals and the angst, Alice was a hilariously relatable narrator, and there were plenty of light moments and humorous insights to keep the whole thing from being an utter existential drag. This will definitely one of those books that I pick up the next time I see it on a self, to read when I feel like my life is just So Important. Maybe it will give me a good dose of reality. (less)
That...was a really long book, and one I ended feeling somewhat ambivalent about. The pacing problems that plagued The Name of the Wind were only ampl...moreThat...was a really long book, and one I ended feeling somewhat ambivalent about. The pacing problems that plagued The Name of the Wind were only amplified in this nearly one thousand page monster. Every time I thought we were actually going to get somewhere and move further into the meat of the story, we'd get a few hints and then drop right back into a daily "grind" of sorts. There's excessive detail for what is really a prologue of sorts; while Kvothe is gaining his reputation throughout the book and some of his titles and stories are being explained, we're still left with great, glaring gaps. For something called "The Kingkiller Chronicle," for example, I have spent close to 2,000 pages and still have no idea why that's the name. I'm starting to feel they way I did about 3/4th of the way through Lost; by the time I start getting payoffs, I either don't remember the reference or I'm so annoyed I don't care.
For all of that, I did enjoy it. I can also appreciate the very deliberate narrative choices that the author made. I don't always agree with how he chose to structure the plot or the extreme (some might say excessive) amount of detail he goes into, but he is clearly telling his story his own way, and I applaud that. There is very little formulaic here, not much of the "expected" story structure, and I like that. Literary conventions exist for a reason, but Rothfuss uses them when he wants them and disregards them when he doesn't. It takes a brave man to do that, and I like his innovation. I will definitely read the 3rd one when it comes out (and I do hope it's soon--I need some explanations!), although I probably won't be at the midnight release party.(less)
The pulpiest of pulp fiction, the whole thing was gleefully ridiculous. Maybe with another 50 or 100 pages would have made the plot feel less forced a...moreThe pulpiest of pulp fiction, the whole thing was gleefully ridiculous. Maybe with another 50 or 100 pages would have made the plot feel less forced and overly convenient, but as it was, it was just a series of one overly-fortuitous event after another. It may have been originally written as a serial; I'm not sure, but that would explain a lot. It was a fun enough story if you're willing to go along for the ride, but not something I'd seek out more of.(less)
I read the first 50 pages and was ready to call it quits, but I decide to read at least the first of its two major parts before I threw in the towel....moreI read the first 50 pages and was ready to call it quits, but I decide to read at least the first of its two major parts before I threw in the towel. "Luckily" I was interested enough to push through the whole thing, although I don't know how happy I am about that. At least I can say I finished it and so I can criticize it from a place of full knowledge. I read it in 2 days, but don't confuse speed for enjoyment; I wanted to get it done the same way you want a root canal undertaken without anesthesia to be over. That book should come packaged with a warning label and some broken glass, so when it makes you want to slit your wrists you don't have far to go.(less)
I found this to be a somewhat anti-climatic end to the trilogy; something I had loved for its inventiveness seemed tired and worn by the end. From a s...moreI found this to be a somewhat anti-climatic end to the trilogy; something I had loved for its inventiveness seemed tired and worn by the end. From a semi-scientific take on vampires as virus, we took a sudden turn to End Times, angels, miracles, the will of God, and all sorts of other eschatological delights. I don't have a problem with the religious trappings, but if that's where the series was going to go I feel like it should have been seeded throughout the first two books instead of popping up at the end as a literal deus ex machina.
(Caveat: It's been awhile since I read #1 and #2, so it's possible that these ideas were planted at the time and I'm just not remembering it).
I wanted badly to engage with the book, but I just could never get there. The end was too abrupt, too pat, too tied in a bow. I never really connected to the plot, although the atmosphere was all right there. It missed an emotional step for me and that made the action seem to forced and artificial. I'm glad I have it to complete the set, and maybe reading all three through again back to back will make the whole thing more cohesive. But for now, this is how the series ends, not with a bang but with a whimper.(less)
I really enjoyed The Yard, and when I saw this in the library without a second thought. I shot through it, trying to figure out a my...moreI...don't...what??
I really enjoyed The Yard, and when I saw this in the library without a second thought. I shot through it, trying to figure out a mystery that left me completely confused until the last 50 pages...actually, even after that. When I finally completed my sprint through the last pages, I put it down and announced to my husband, "This book is messed up."
I wanted to enjoy it, but I'm not sure I did. I'm not sure of anything right now--when I finished, I wasn't sure of my name. Part of me wants to re-read it, knowing the beginning with the end in mind, and see if I could understand it better. I didn't guess who the killer was until about the last 3rd, and even then I didn't believe it until it was confirmed. I almost still don't believe it now.
What was odd about this to me is that it felt more like a first novel than a second novel. I thought The Yard suffered from too-many-plots-itis, and this took that issue to a new level. There were at least four threads twisting through--missing family, plague, mysterious stranger, nameless killer stalking mysterious stranger. And those were just the major ones. They all wound together in the end, but I felt like there was too much going on for me to keep track of. There needed to be either a couple fewer plot lines or about another 50 pages to make them twist together more naturally, without feeling forced.
I also felt that the dialogue was a little forced. I loved the chatter in the first book, but Hammersmith and Day never seemed to get that easy banter, and that slowed it down for me. It was just trying too hard. I will still read number 3, since by the time it comes out I'll have recovered from the horror perpetrated on me by the plot twists in this one (the body was where?!), but I hope it's a little smoother. (less)
Take a shot every time: -A child dies -Someone is raped/forced into sex against her will -A situation is briefly promis...moreThis book should be drinking game!
Take a shot every time: -A child dies -Someone is raped/forced into sex against her will -A situation is briefly promising, but then goes horribly wrong -A plot point could be resolved in less than 5 minutes if major characters would get talk to each other -Rankin is creepy
Chug when: -Marshall is violent -Ben threatens someone's life -You're reminded that Lavinia is a redhead -Affair! -Marshall is drunk -Someone abuses opium -Belle's free papers are mentioned -An awkward metaphor is employed
Finish your drink: -Someone is reminded of his/her place
Actually, I'm just kidding. If you were still standing after the first section, go to an AA meeting immediately: you're a functioning alcoholic.
Apparently the author believes that we no longer understand that slavery was bad, mmmmkay? So she set out to out-Uncle Tom's Cabin Ms. Stowe. In case anyone missed it, owning people is wrong and leads to terrible behaviors. Bad things happen. But she can't just show bad things, she has to show the worst things, unremittingly throughout the entire book. As we slog through the years, it is just a series of unfortunate events, without the humor--everything goes horribly wrong, nothing is right, and anything that is briefly right is promptly shattered in the most unspeakable way possible.
I suppose it's possible that I'm being too harsh. I'm assuming everyone still reads Uncle Tom's Cabin and Gone With the Wind and sees all these stereotypes and the caricatures as old hat. This is NOT this generation's version of either of those books, but clearly draws its inspiration from them and tries to update the story. All I got out of it, though, was a desire to go take an anti-depressant.(less)
This is not my book, okay? This is not my style of book, and it will never be my style of book, and I generally think that "chick lit" as a genre shou...moreThis is not my book, okay? This is not my style of book, and it will never be my style of book, and I generally think that "chick lit" as a genre should be tied up and left to rot in a stew of its own faux tears.
But we picked this for book club, and after I had a visceral hate reaction of rage and flailing and venom to our last book, I figured I owed this one a genuine shot. I didn't want to be booted from the club for raging against the book two months in a row.
But, much to my surprise, I enjoyed this--and, yes, I cried at the end. I felt like we were at the cusp of something actually happening, and then it...didn't, although honestly, I don't know that the book could have ended any other way.
I had my moments of frustration, of course; most of the characters seemed eminently unlikable to me, at least at the beginning. I wanted to shake our intrepid heroine until her teeth rattled more than once, and I needed her entire family to...just stop. Just please, please stop. But here was my key to connecting to the book, an element that I have found to be missing in some of the others I've read lately--the characters grew, matured, and changed. Whiny, worthless Lou developed a backbone, Will reconnected on some level to humanity.
Yeah...and that's it. Pretty much everyone else remained static and annoying, but at least the principals evolved, and that was all I really wanted.(less)
I really have a love-hate relationship with these books. I love Kovac and Liska, I love their banter, I love the gallows humor and the snarking among...moreI really have a love-hate relationship with these books. I love Kovac and Liska, I love their banter, I love the gallows humor and the snarking among the cops. It all feels very raw and real, and matches the cops and investigators I know. On the other hand, just like Prior Bad Acts, the plot is overly convoluted and has too many moving parts. After I finished it I actually had to go back over the story in my head to make sure I understand who did what when, and why. I also thought some of the "twists" were pretty obviously telegraphed. There were a couple of hints dropped that immediately gave me two of the answers that were part of the "big reveal" at the end, and I felt like they were so obvious that our otherwise crack investigators should have latched on to them immediately.
On the other hand, I know they're in a book and they don't, so I guess they can be forgiven for not knowing that every stray bit of information has to lead somewhere.
Also, man, Kovac really cannot catch a break.(less)
Like most of the other reviewers I've seen, I loved, loved, loved The Thirteenth Tale, and I had the highest of hopes and expectations for this new Se...moreLike most of the other reviewers I've seen, I loved, loved, loved The Thirteenth Tale, and I had the highest of hopes and expectations for this new Setterfield work. And, like the others, I went through the slowly spiralling story eagerly, watching the screw turn tighter and tighter, and waiting for the payoff. The ending was, to say the least, a shock and initially a letdown.
However, after having a couple of days to think over it, I have decided that I might have been missing the point. I was looking for a thriller, and this was (sort of) a thriller in the same way that Frankenstein is a horror story. Yes, you can read it that way on one level, but it's a morality tale more than anything else. This is the same way, a slow burn of second chances squandered and opportunities wasted. I think the twist is that there is no twist--like Dorothy, Bellman could have gone home at any time he wanted, but didn't realize that he had the means.
I also think that there was a ghost in the story, but it was (view spoiler)[Bellman himself, becoming a ghost in his own life (hide spoiler)]. And this is the way the book ends, this is the way the book ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)