Know those loopy scrawls going all over the place when you give a toddler a crayon?
That is what this book is like: meandering all over with a barely...moreKnow those loopy scrawls going all over the place when you give a toddler a crayon?
That is what this book is like: meandering all over with a barely tepid plot, a very gushy mother alternating between airhead and serious mom mode and a very precocious 13 year old who drinks soy milk and thinks every second passing by is a major turning point deserving a 'something-awesome-is happening-to-me-now' moment.
Even if the book was aimed at 10 year olds, it could have been done better.(less)
There are two kinds of people who get paid to write – authors and journalists. Then there are some who are both. J. R. Chartrand is one of the latter....moreThere are two kinds of people who get paid to write – authors and journalists. Then there are some who are both. J. R. Chartrand is one of the latter. My grouse is I wish he wasn’t.
Under Your Skin is set in a small town in Southern Idaho where one day the town wakes up to the deaths of three teenagers. While the town reporter, Cal Murphy, is all set to earn that Pulitzer with his in-depth coverage, he seems to be the only one who is interested. Turns out, the entire town is under the control of one man and it is in his interest and theirs for the deaths to go unnoticed. Cal, the intrepid reporter, along with his love interest/sidekick, Kelly Mendoza unravel the secrets but not without danger to their lives. Throw in the FBI and the machinations of a rouge agent and the story is complete.
The book was bad at so many levels, that I don’t know where to begin. At the outset, the plot has nothing to itself. There is no element of surprise in the novel and from the very beginning, it is spelled out clearly as to who is responsible for the act. The book plays out like a bland movie where all one can do is wait out the end. The characters are insipid and the action, forced. As if the ploy of a town so under the control of one man and yet known to none outside is not outlandish enough, there is the FBI twist nearing the end. In a book where murder, drugs, and conspiracy theories happen, happily ever after is not left out either with Cal getting his dream job of sports writer right after his award deserving coverage of the drug ring cover up (go figure) and his dream lass (with a job offer for her too). The writing style itself is not so bad, though one does wonder when the word phone is replaced by ‘iPhone’ everywhere.
Not every journalist turned author need be a Stieg Larsson or a Bruce DeSilva but not even sports writers turned authors are expected to churn out such tepid fiction, specially for $3.99. These are $3.99 best spent elsewhere.(less)
Never judge a book by its cover, we are told. I for one, always do exactly that. The pretty nifty cover of this book was what caught my eye when I pic...moreNever judge a book by its cover, we are told. I for one, always do exactly that. The pretty nifty cover of this book was what caught my eye when I picked it. As it turns out, this is also my first from the ‘steampunk’ genre.
The Emperor’s Edge is a fantasy novel (high fantasy set in the era of steam as explained on the cover) set in the capital of Turgonia which is at discord with its neighbors, Nuria and Kendor (nope, no friendly maps laying out the topography, however much you may wish for one). Amaranthe Lokdon is an ‘enforcer’, one of the rare female ones who during the course of her duty, meets the Emperor Sespian and catches his attention. The Commander of the Armies, Hollowcrest decides to eliminate her for that and deviously sends her to kill the dangerous assassin, Sicarius, knowing fully well that it shall be fatal for her.
Amaranthe being the heroine and all, not only does not die but also uncovers a plot between Hollowcrest and Forge – a business group, to do away with the Emperor and comes up with a plan to save the day. Magic, magical creatures, counterfeiters (which is Amaranthe’s big plan to the save the day, I might add), colorful characters and probable romance provide for the story and general entertainment.
The novel has a good pace and is well written though not without fault. The rapidity with which things evolved had me wishing that the author had spared some time for world building. There is no backstory to prop up the happenings and a lot of times, people and situations kept popping up from nowhere. Whenever the heroine is in a tight spot, too many good things happen to her too easily and she has an easy escape. Even when she meets the bad guys, the minions of the bad guys are good guys and help her. Then, when she comes up with the ridiculous idea of counterfeiting as a tool to thwart the bad guys, the ease with which she finds men, materials and everything else is mind boggling. Just when she needs an artist, the dangerous assassin turns out to be an excellent artist too!
The romance angle in the novel also left me feeling confused. The nineteen year old Emperor is smitten by Amarnathe who seems to be amazingly capable of doing more than any average nineteen year old. Add the weird chemistry between Sicarius and Amaranthe and I was left walking in circles trying to untangle the romantic knots.
Despite the many tangles, the series (The Emperor’s Edge is book one of a series of six books as per the authors site) shows promise and whether the remaining books get past the teething troubles remains to be seen.(less)
Let me say something upfront: I am a sucker for a good fem-lib story where women achieve something against many odds and everything remains right with...moreLet me say something upfront: I am a sucker for a good fem-lib story where women achieve something against many odds and everything remains right with the world. There, now that we have got that out of the way, let us get down to brass tacks.
At first, I thought the book was a memoir (maybe because of the James Herriotesque name) but as it turns out, it is a fictional account. When the book began with a change of name, I thought ‘ah, so that is how she became Carolyn from Margaret’ but no, that was how she became Maggie from Margaret, which does not qualify as much of a name change if you ask me, which nobody is, but, we digress.
Margaret is your average Southern girl from Tennessee for whom her mother wants what every Southern mother wants for her daughter (or so the books tell me, stereotyping and at so many levels anyone?). So naturally our heroine is headed the other way and chooses to become a vet. Despite being rejected at vet school for being a woman in what was then an exclusive all-male club, she meets another woman, Elizabeth or ‘Eli’ and both of them prop each other up and manage to graduate. How she meets her husband, sets up shop with Eli, has her kids, makes plenty of friends and deals with the vagaries of life forms the rest of the book.
While the book, in which each chapter is set out like the retelling of an anecdote, was highly entertaining in the James Herriot fashion, on the whole it felt more like a montage giving brief glimpses of the whole. Maggie’s mother is aghast with her daughter’s decision to become a vet, yet in the next chapter she is tagging along happily. When Maggie learns she is pregnant for the first time, she is riddled with anxiety about keeping up with personal and professional life and yet, a few pages away she is already having another. Sarah is said to have an uncanny ability to communicate with animals but further in the book, there is no reference to this at all which makes you wonder why that was mentioned in the first place. All of the aforementioned would have probably made better sense if the book was an actual memoir but in fiction, they make poor literary devices.
Each time there is conflict, we fast forward to happier times with no satisfying resolution to the problem at hand or at least if there is, we are not told how.
If you are not too concerned to nitpick, which I was not, it can be a rather enjoyable read, specially the various bits about the animal exploits which form the mainstay of the book. If you are a fan of animals, countryside exploits and women raring to go, then this one is a safe bet.(less)
Great title but that is all the good things I can say about the book. The book started off fairly well but went downhill rapidly. The books seems to m...moreGreat title but that is all the good things I can say about the book. The book started off fairly well but went downhill rapidly. The books seems to meander all over the place and even before I was 20% into it, I was already checking how far I was from the end yet. There were just too many things in the plot, specially with the 'wacko' place called Ida's facility and the gay angle thrown in.
All the while, I felt like 'now it is going to make sense' but the moment just never happened. Add the missing words and the bad formatting and an inherently difficult to follow book went down a notch further.
My feeling at the end of it was that while the author had a fairly decent plot chalked out, she got lost somewhere while actually getting the book together. Maybe her second book is going to be better.(less)
If you were to go by all those wonderful reviews until now who just could not put the book down, you would think you have got a pretty good read on yo...moreIf you were to go by all those wonderful reviews until now who just could not put the book down, you would think you have got a pretty good read on your hands. I beg to differ.
The book is filled with bad prose, weird happenings, a very contrived plot, superfluous characters, twists in the plot just to up the 'shock' value and very badly put together narration.
The saving grace: the last few chapters where to all appearances, the author was in a hurry to wind up and finally started writing sensible prose with logical 'flow', skipping all the manufactured style. Clearly, the author can write but only if he wasn't so eager to please. (less)
When I come across an author, the very first thing I do is check if they have a Wikipedia page. If they do not, my usual reaction is not to bother wit...moreWhen I come across an author, the very first thing I do is check if they have a Wikipedia page. If they do not, my usual reaction is not to bother with them. After all, there are books and books everywhere. That has now changed with all those free books for Kindle and that is how I discovered this book.
Daughters is a 'saga' that traces the lives of three generations of women over the years. Set in the Middle East before it became the Middle East of today, the story weaves through the lives of Miriam, her daughter Nadia and her daughter Nijmeh in context of the changing times of the two world wars with the personal travesties of the characters and the effect of the times on the lead women in the foreground. Do not be fooled by the beginning of the book as, though it opens like a primer to Middle East history, it picks up right away and you are in the story before you know it.
Each of the women can be seen as rebels of their own times, saddled with something that set them apart - Miriam with her blue eyes, the result of a Russian father, Nadia with her mixed features and her height, the result of a German father and Nijmeh with her extraordinary beauty, and her shocking parentage. All three lead more than ordinary lives and Ms. Baehr does a wonderful job of making them seem extraordinary and yet, very ordinary.
The writing was surprisingly good (specially for a book that I got free) and the story had me engrossed. Coming from a family of seven girls, reading the book felt like I was listening to narration by a cousin. The only reason why I gave this book three stars was that despite the very good writing and the wonderful characters, the book did seem a bit too tragic with all the women having dark secrets of their own yet paling away immediately when the new daughter acquires a secret.
On the whole, a very well written book and I would recommend this to lovers of all saga fiction and to anyone who grew up amongst a lot of women, young and old.(less)