Kidd is a capable writer and she doesn't over-reach in this, making the commitment to fiction rather than faction. The topic is horrific and so that mKidd is a capable writer and she doesn't over-reach in this, making the commitment to fiction rather than faction. The topic is horrific and so that makes it difficult to read, in part because she so clearly contrasts the two kinds of lives her protagonists lead.
I found the middle of the book difficult, in large part because of its slow pace. One character had a lot of narrative to cover while the other dithered back and forth, and together that didn't keep as compelling a pace as the beginning or end did. It also falters with the late addition of the third main character, Sarah's sister, as part of the anti-slavery action; while she obviously is a solidifying agent in her sister's ambitions, she also acts as an almost deus ex machina force in re-boosting lagging momentum. Obviously the plot was constrained to some degree by both biographical content and the need to deal with two converging character arcs, but it didn't feel as smoothly developed as the earlier portions did. ...more
At first I was overwhelmed by the richness of the writing in this book, but about, oh, 30 or so pages in, I twigged to the metacommentary the author wAt first I was overwhelmed by the richness of the writing in this book, but about, oh, 30 or so pages in, I twigged to the metacommentary the author was constructing between the book, the signs of life (the meaning of the title), and the specific signs cited as they were playing out in the lives of characters. Although I think it gets a bit self-consciously cute by the end, the author sets up one set of expectations per section only to stand them on their head by the next revelation. And so a complex and yet very simple story is told by looping ever further backwards, ever more detailed in a complicated timeline.
In content, the book is every bit as horrific as a story of modern war's effects on a population should be, and as such, hardly something to recommend to the squeamish. I've seen this described as a "romance" and, really? It's a story of war, period, and there's no romance to that. ...more
This book clearly grew out of the training in infection control that went out all over Alaska during the H1N1 flu epidemic. The proposal, that the govThis book clearly grew out of the training in infection control that went out all over Alaska during the H1N1 flu epidemic. The proposal, that the government set loose an infection in Western Alaska, seems kind of basic and aside from flirting with Native culture a bit, this post-apocalyptic attempt doesn't really carry as much suspense as is promised. It's mostly a journey, on the land and of course is paralleled in the interior landscape of the protagonist, and while unobjectionable, really didn't draw me in as much as I'd hoped. I think it might read better for someone outside Alaska, for whom the setting, geographic and cultural, would be exotic and exciting....more
It's hard to read this book without also thinking about Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. Both are pretty interior, but this one doesn't really sIt's hard to read this book without also thinking about Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. Both are pretty interior, but this one doesn't really sell the confusion of the lost memories because she's transplanted back to a time when she had those memories intact. That makes this story a more textual one, as she constantly tallies what she is experiencing against what she remembers. As such, then, it's almost more like the time travel trope in which the traveler goes back to review an earlier part of their life, such that when they return, they're more in touch with that past.
I think that because the emphasis is thus upon a story mostly told, rather than experienced, by the protagonist, this distance works against really developing much empathy with or sympathy for her. That's magnified by her own distaste for the older version of herself as well as her sense of drifting with bland helplessness amidst her confusion, so that I found it hard to care much about a great deal of what happened.
The three-part narrative, Alice's, her sister's and her grandmother's, is clearly meant to weave into a seamless whole about [blah blah heartwarming, family]. I can see why it's in development for a movie, but I am pretty much guaranteed not to particularly care given my general lack of enthusiasm for the whole heartwarming genre. And although I give credit to the author for trying to write a twist into the ending, it tended more to to confuse me than seem, after discovering it, to be the reasonable outcome. This usually results from the author not quite laying the groundwork to make an ending inescapable—unless it was more about the meta-concept of the reader being rendered as passive and seemingly uncaring as the protagonist about how her life works out. ...more
I didn't finish it. I got sick in advance of the book club meeting and because I had failed to engage with it at all in the third of it I did read, II didn't finish it. I got sick in advance of the book club meeting and because I had failed to engage with it at all in the third of it I did read, I couldn't summon the enthusiasm to finish it.
Basically I found the style charmless, the protagonist unengaging of sympathy, and the inclusion of the real person bafflingly inconsequential (I'm really not into RPF) for as much of the plot as I saw. I'll acknowledge that the remainder of the book might be just brilliant, but it failed to motivate me to stick around that long and there are too many stories in the world to waste time on reading an uncompelling one out of some sense of duty. Sorry not sorry. ...more
This is a sweet YA romance for the near-college-aged. The author's voice is very current, very Tumblr, very fanfic. In fact, she does an especially niThis is a sweet YA romance for the near-college-aged. The author's voice is very current, very Tumblr, very fanfic. In fact, she does an especially nice job of shifting her tone into a very convincingly fanfic style in the quoted fic sections, a tone that's quite different to the majority of her "real" narrative. The plot is a bit of a simplistic First Love story with very little dramatic tension, but as fluff (the fanfic genre) it works fine. For those who need one, it should carry a bit of a trigger warning for mental illness or bipolar.
Really, this book should be sold in a boxed set with Anne Jamison's Fic. ...more
I felt an immediate liking for the spunky damaged loner sort of heroine, even while I'm appalled at how terribly she's acting. Not terrible in terms oI felt an immediate liking for the spunky damaged loner sort of heroine, even while I'm appalled at how terribly she's acting. Not terrible in terms of society's conventions, but terribly in terms of the destructive effects of her acts on herself and how indifferent she is to them. It's a very promising character tension and I'm interested in seeing where the author goes with it. Loving all of the horticulture. It's being an easy book club choice to pick up and read.
-- (spoilers ahead) --
At least, the above is what I felt when I was starting it. But the book lagged—or, at least, my interest did—somewhere at the halfway point. I felt as though once she was involved with Grant, things became more ponderous. I drifted away, read other stuff, then came back as the book club deadline approached. I might not have done, were it not for that deadline. And while the pacing did pick back up, almost breathlessly so at times, it seemed, I was increasingly less fond of it.
Once she's pregnant, you can see the plot gathering steam for its predictable redemption with a suitable moral at the end. Oh joy: families triumph over...stuff. As edgy as this character began, I would have been more satisfied, I think, without such a neat wrap at the end. I also felt as though her changing values, especially as she let go of her business, was in some ways too underplayed. Yeah, they snuck up on her, but the reader should be able to look back and find the subtextual inevitability of it. And I didn't feel this was actually there in the writing.
For the most part, the author doesn't get in the way of the story. I liked the changing picture of the spaces the protagonist inhabited as metaphor for her mental state, especially in the descriptions of the blue closet and its link to the blue box. I vacillate between seeing the character Marlene as poorly-developed plot device and subtly reflecting Victoria's own indifference to her as a person, but I think I come down on the side of the former. And I feel that the alternating time-stream narrative was just a bit too neat in terms of how its correspondences turned a converging series of events into a single story. Finally, although the author states in the end notes that she did not write this as magical realism, I think that is nonetheless what she achieved, albeit to a rather small degree, and that the book is the richer for it. Perhaps I read too much fanfic and can't help extrapolating on plots, but I am intrigued by where this could go with a bit more magic and Grant's more active participation.
Over all, this book didn't really hold any surprises in terms of plot development, but disappointed somewhat in the conventionality of the writing and the way the plot is wrapped. It's well enough done for what it is, but somehow, I wanted it to be more....more
This one feels livelier than the last couple, perhaps because it's working with more familiar cultures. Still, the Japanese culture painted here is raThis one feels livelier than the last couple, perhaps because it's working with more familiar cultures. Still, the Japanese culture painted here is rather softened—naturally enough, in order for our protagonist to survive. The integration of dragons into feudal Japan worked rather well, however, and I did especially like the river dragon, incidental but a lovely little episode that embodied the care and indifference both of the dragon personality Novik has created.
Amnesia is a well-used trope for re-acquainting the reader with information, and while it's more interesting than sheer exposition, I found myself dragging my heels as it dragged on. I don't see that it accomplished anything other than exposition by a subtler name.
I do like the way red echoes visually through the book, underscoring the title. And speaking of the title, I enjoyed (maybe not truly the right word in the context of tyrants) the way in Japan we think we've met the title tyrant, then perhaps it's in China, oh no, maybe the Russians, or Napoleon. The last few chapters especially, the Russian section, have a good flavor of the moral ambiguity that is a recurrent theme throughout the series.
So, this one has turned around my feelings after the previous installment, that I might give up on the series. The chopped-off ending is not my favorite plot resolution, but I can understand it in the context of a long series that is published more in episodes than stand-alones and that has to be fit into the constraints of what a publishing house feels is marketable and adequately profitable.
Spoiler alert: does anyone want to bet that we don't meet Junichiro on the back of a French dragon in the next book? Novik hasn't even begun to wring all of the moral ambiguity and historical value out of that character; he's way too written, at this point, to be a throw-away. In the words of Jim Moriarty, I'm afraid you've rather shown your hand there, Ms. Novik. ...more
I love Gaiman's work: it's clever, idiosyncratic, just this side of twee, and always well-crafted.
This one, that starts as a deceptive little memoir oI love Gaiman's work: it's clever, idiosyncratic, just this side of twee, and always well-crafted.
This one, that starts as a deceptive little memoir of childhood, ends as something entirely else and I'm not altogether certain what. In between, there are strange women, dire peril, and several cats, which are good things for any tale of questionable reality to hold.
Perhaps I've just been reading too much Sherlock fanfic, but the early portions of this would have made a lovely story of Sherlock Holmes' early years. ...more
Husband's comment after looking at me reading just the introduction:
"Pencil and highlighter and sticky notes? What are you reading? It's another greatHusband's comment after looking at me reading just the introduction:
"Pencil and highlighter and sticky notes? What are you reading? It's another great big hard novel like Parade's End again, isn't it?"
Yes, I did in fact read it that thoroughly because this is simply the best available collection on this topic that yet exists. Jamison has done a good, if not definitive (she herself admits that some writers she hoped to include refused either initially or once they saw who else was included) job of covering the growth and major history of fanfiction by focusing on a limited number of large fandoms and tracking important trends and controversies in fictionalizing those 'verses. She deals in passing, with appropriate legal disclaimer, with the legal issues of copyright and public domain, pointing out that within fandom it's the fans themselves who hold the most restrictive views of ownership. She also places fanfiction solidly and thoughtfully within modern literary context rather than the titter-fraught writing apartheid that is more generally applied to fan efforts.
This book was released at the perfect time to benefit my preparation of a presentation for our state library association at their annual conference, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I may end up looking like nothing so much as a fangirl of this book. So be it: it deserves it....more
**spoiler alert** I continue to read--and enjoy--this series somewhat to my surprise. I'm not actually a fan of urban fantasy--most of it is dull and**spoiler alert** I continue to read--and enjoy--this series somewhat to my surprise. I'm not actually a fan of urban fantasy--most of it is dull and repetitious, and if you were only in it for the sex, a good bit of slash fanfic probably does it better.
No, I like Butcher's work. I like that he continues to evolve his characters (including his opponents and the presumably immutable fae); I like that there's never a moment to catch breath as one catastrophe follows another (and such clever, clever catastrophes); and I like the series arc as one long journey of redemption for the whole planet. I even like his cheeky tone of geek smartassery, throwing in his pop cultural references with just the right degree of insouciance to tickle the knowing without sneering in the face of those who don't recognize them.
Specifically in this episode (because they are that: stand-alone is long behind us now), I enjoyed the growing contribution (and characterization) of the Little People, his developing relationship with Karrin, his struggle to incorporate the mantle of Winter Knight, the oh-shit of Molly's reveal at the end, and the evolution of our picture of Mab. Oh, and Butcher's Theory of Historical Conservation? Totally grabbed that (attributed--I always ack) for a bit of fic I'm writing in a different 'verse because it is just that handy a concept. So thanks for that, too, Mr. Butcher.
The series holds its quality. I'll keep reading it, waiting for the next installment to come out and snatching it up. Is there any greater compliment to an author?
Rereading because of new BBC radio production. I'd forgotten a lot of details but, more importantly, I'd also forgotten how charmingly written this isRereading because of new BBC radio production. I'd forgotten a lot of details but, more importantly, I'd also forgotten how charmingly written this is. There's not a lot remarkable about the story and there's everything remarkable about the characters and atmosphere in this story of a journey to heroism beneath the streets of London. I don't frivolously give five stars, but this one remains utterly worthy. ...more
I'm familiar with the author as a Sherlockian and have read (and enjoyed) her Sherlock pastiche, Dust and Shadow very much. That made me pick up thiI'm familiar with the author as a Sherlockian and have read (and enjoyed) her Sherlock pastiche,
Dust and Shadow
very much. That made me pick up this book when I'm otherwise kind of over murder mysteries and would not have chosen this era of historical New York in any case.
It was well worth it. Her Sherlockian style comes through in recognizable instances, but her historical tone is excellently balanced between accuracy and not overwhelming the humanity and story-telling. Several turns of the plot outright surprised me, and not many authors do that.
It's a grand tale of relationships--brothers, lovers, physician/patient, children, employees, politics--that interweave in surprising ways set in a very particular historical and geographic milieu. I highly recommend it, even to non-mystery, non-historical readers: it's that good....more
A mean, gritty, mythic book that does the road trip novel one better with all of the forgotten gods of history. This book doesn't make you feel betterA mean, gritty, mythic book that does the road trip novel one better with all of the forgotten gods of history. This book doesn't make you feel better, but it sure entertains you along the way....more
I read this mainly for "Emerald", which is a hoot. If one heard of a fanfic writer proposing an AU crossover Sherlock Holmes/HPLovecraft, there wouldI read this mainly for "Emerald", which is a hoot. If one heard of a fanfic writer proposing an AU crossover Sherlock Holmes/HPLovecraft, there would be laughter and mocking. Except this one won awards, deservedly. Oh, and the other stories are good, too. ...more
Started as a result of the discussions online about the book and the BBC series, but I'm really not sure how I missed this, given how much I enjoyed oStarted as a result of the discussions online about the book and the BBC series, but I'm really not sure how I missed this, given how much I enjoyed other things of this type/time (A Dance to the Music of Time, I'm looking at you). In fact, abandoned other stuff I was reading when I couldn't resist this one any longer. Indulgence.
Reading this was a long process (and reviewing it an even longer one since my first entry here was eaten by a crunked save, it seems), and one that involved the rare use of sticky tabs and heavy annotations. This is a rich work and it deserves the time it takes to digest it thoroughly.
It's also not easy reading. The modernist style, with limited plot linearity and choppy syntax is nothing for the skimming reader. In fact, I found it demanding to read in part because I was at the same time beta-editing for an author whose English is a second language and who is prone to run-ons and excessive splicing via ellipses; parsing the difference between these two was demanding and, ultimately, rewarding.
So what is the book about? Briefly, it is a lengthy exposition of how, in their own views, the very conservative Christopher Tietjens fails everyone in his life: his wife Sylvia, his father, his brother Mark, his godfather and commanding officer Campion, and even his lover Valentine while earnestly remaining as honourable as he could be in his own lights. Although it plays out against massive upheavals in English society due to World War I, it is most significantly a character drama of complexity and pathos.
The excellent BBC/HBO production brings a great deal of visual illumination to the story and I highly recommend it as an adjunt to the reading. I also found the discussions and illustrations curated by Emma De Los Nardos to be a great asset in appreciating the depth of the portrait of the times and culture that Ford was painting. ...more
I'm abandoning this. It's not that it isn't perfectly acceptable as an historical romance--it is, and it's got plenty of history in it. The charactersI'm abandoning this. It's not that it isn't perfectly acceptable as an historical romance--it is, and it's got plenty of history in it. The characters seem to be developing nicely. I have every expectation that it will be a fine book, followed by the other two sequels in the series.
But I have Parade's End sitting on my bedside table and I simply have to begin it. I have to. Can't wait. So, no fault to Furnivall; it's about competing with something timely (the BBC series and the discussions I'm reading about it online). Maybe I'll come back to this one when I have more time....more
I've enjoyed this book a great deal. The pair of "detectives" are delightful in the book, a clear fanfic of Holmes and Watson with Wilde playing the wI've enjoyed this book a great deal. The pair of "detectives" are delightful in the book, a clear fanfic of Holmes and Watson with Wilde playing the witty lead (so fitting, of course). But I cannot help but enjoy the metacontext, that Doyle himself is playing the everyman narrator of the events, not only as Watson did as a member of that classic couple but as he did in person as the ultimate author of the whole concept.
The mystery, not unentertaining although not of the most rigorous manner of solution--much more like the country house murder than a more modern handling. Really, it doesn't matter all that much in the face of the pleasant reading that gets us there.
I shall certainly be seeking out more of this series as I work my way through the surprising and delicious Sherlock written fandom. ...more
A nicely-crafted set of parallel stories that, of course, intersect nicely at the end. There were a few twists that I didn't anticipate--nothing of brA nicely-crafted set of parallel stories that, of course, intersect nicely at the end. There were a few twists that I didn't anticipate--nothing of breathless tension, but simply enjoyable to see play out. Pairing the mystery that Doyle was working on (with his real-life friend Bram Stoker) against the story of the "lost" diary that covered that period made for plenty of room to explore both periods, contemporary and Edwardian, in satisfying, if abbreviated, detail. ...more
This has been an on-and-off read, but it's a fairly simple romantic mystery so not terribly demanding. The Sherlock Holmes mention is a tease, but a nThis has been an on-and-off read, but it's a fairly simple romantic mystery so not terribly demanding. The Sherlock Holmes mention is a tease, but a nice little hook to gain readers during the re-awakened interest fostered by the BBC production. This is a bit more romance than mystery, or, rather, the mystery furthers the romance rather more than the reverse. It's all period and quite tame--I don't think the characters even touch, and so it's appropriate for even young or protected teens. A more sophisticated teen will undoubtedly find this overly "sweet" and predictable, but for period fanciers or those who like a romance of very tame sorts, this is a perfect one. Oh, and the mystery involves kidnapping but not murder and all is set right in the end, so even that isn't too demanding upon the reader. ...more
Retribution Falls set the stage but it wasn't until close to the end that the characters really earned much sympathy. T
The first book in this series,
Retribution Falls set the stage but it wasn't until close to the end that the characters really earned much sympathy. This episode, the group is more cohesive and there's more detail on them, especially as the plot moves forward. Every character gets their moment, and some of them are stirring adventure and some of them are high comedy (the story of Slag the cat is particularly delightful). The parallels to Firefly are even stronger in this one, but that's not necessarily a bad thing: watching Captain Frey get cheated, robbed, beaten up, and defeated over and over and just get more determined, well, that's part of the cleverness of Firefly and it's shaping up well for this series to. While it's heavy on the swashbuckling, it's clever and inventive and there's room for many more adventures in this barely-explored world.
Oh, this is just wonderful. Everything from the book production (the cover, the blue ink, the illustrations with their captions taken from the text) tOh, this is just wonderful. Everything from the book production (the cover, the blue ink, the illustrations with their captions taken from the text) to the plot and characters, wonderful. And the writing: the writing is nothing but a pleasure. I don't often laugh aloud at books; with this one, a lot. "He tried to assume the beatific look he'd seen on the Renaissance Virgin Marys in the Louvre, but he only succeeded in looking as if he were being touched inappropriately by the Holy Ghost." See what I mean? Even the donkey, the Colorman's donkey, has character (and a hat). And how can you not love an author who titles his afterword "So, Now You've Ruined Art"?
Yes, it's irreverent and bawdy, quite bawdy. Plus, a great deal of art and artists and art history. I don't see anything that would be dangerous for a teen, but there's plenty to give conservatives the whimwhams. Plus a guest appearance by Sherlock Holmes. Oh but I love a brilliantly funny book!...more
Superb, both the art and the story. I put this aside, destracted by other things, for about a month, but I'm glad I came back and finished it. DespiteSuperb, both the art and the story. I put this aside, destracted by other things, for about a month, but I'm glad I came back and finished it. Despite its very harsh material, it's ultimately a wonderful story of loss and redemption.
It did get put into our adult collection rather than the YA just in deference to local mores (we don't keep anyone from checking anything out, but the younger kids don't need to mistake this for a comic book) due to the sexual content of the slavery and romance. None of it is titillating, actually, but it is graphic and no-nonsense and perfectly part of the story. ...more
**spoiler alert** First of all, let me say that the scene early in the book where Locke has lost his way and Jean has to browbeat him into snapping ou**spoiler alert** First of all, let me say that the scene early in the book where Locke has lost his way and Jean has to browbeat him into snapping out of it: brilliant. No, really. Every bit of the precious posturing that this author inflicted in the first few chapters of the first of this series is atoned for in this one scene.
I will admit that the first book in this series sailed it right on past me, what with the ensemble cast, but in this book I see what's been done. Oh yes, you've rather shown your hand, Mr. Lynch: Locke, the clever, nimble one, the brains of the outfit; Jean, the muscle, the defender, the romancer of women. Nicely played, sir. I love them too and adore their long history of fanfic, to which this is a worthy addition.
I was a little lost in this book, not sure exactly where the tangled plots were leading. No matter, I enjoyed the adventures along the way. I especially enjoyed things once they went to sea. Cliffhanger ending? Well, an author's gotta guarantee selling the next book; that's what authors do. It's not going to keep me awake at night worrying about them; I'm quite sure that this corner can be written out of. And I'll be happy to pick up that book when it comes out. ...more
Okay, I'll admit right up front that I find the "clever thief" trope almost always appealing. And so I really enjoyed this book and am looking forwardOkay, I'll admit right up front that I find the "clever thief" trope almost always appealing. And so I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to dashing right into the sequel.
This is, however, what I only hope to be an early work for this writer. He has a delightful imagination but I think there's room for growth in the characterization area: there's still a bit more tell than feel, and going all sweary, however well-executed, is not a fully-realized portrayal of emotion when we finally get to the crisis. And the protagonist has just a touch too much of the old Dirk TM Pitt keeps-on-ticking-despite-dire-injuries endurance: when everyone's beating on him, he really should wear down a bit instead of just adding yet more swearing.
It's necessary to grant the author a bit of indulgence in the first few chapters. He tries a bit too hard and he shows off in the verbal cleverness department more than he really needs to and he's clearly having a lot more fun at this point than the reader is. Stay with it, though: he calms down and gets down to business and the tale is worth the investment.
Good world-building. Good cast of characters. It should appeal to classic fantasy fans as well as those who favor the more modern urban genre (no werewolves or vampires, but the magicians are a bad lot). There's swearing, mostly a few standards and not a lot of detail to worry the sexually squeamish. In fact, no sex. Still, I think it's a book that belongs on the adult shelves rather than YA, although I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to teens looking to read up....more
This book spends way too long setting things up: all of the plot happens in the final eighth of the book. It's not especially clever in premise and thThis book spends way too long setting things up: all of the plot happens in the final eighth of the book. It's not especially clever in premise and the characters are not terribly well-drawn. It's also difficult to sympathize with them much.
I think its probably an okay book for a not-overly-sophisticated reader or a scifi reader who is still reading primarily from the YA shelves, but it's just not remarkable. It's also neither a convincing romance or scifi space adventure, but it combines the two in a weak fashion for those who might like both. But, really, it's not got much to recommend it over a lot of ground that was covered in the pulps....more
If the first one of this pair, Elsewhere is the character setup (and it mostly is, I now see), then this book is the action that those characters setIf the first one of this pair, Elsewhere is the character setup (and it mostly is, I now see), then this book is the action that those characters set in motion. Lovely twist at the end redeems a great deal of the sadness and explains why Wolfboy goes on in other works as he does. Shetterly's taken just a small bit of Bordertown's shared world and fleshed it out in delightful detail. And the kids are just taken from the start by the "dating outside your species" tagline. ...more
**spoiler alert** Lovely. Good Doylish tone and characterization. It felt a tiny bit modern in the writing, but that may be my judgement clouded by th**spoiler alert** Lovely. Good Doylish tone and characterization. It felt a tiny bit modern in the writing, but that may be my judgement clouded by the BBC Sherlock.
Strangely, the show cross-fertilized the book in terms of my inability to read Lestrade in anything other than (BBC) Dimmock's voice. I think that perhaps the BBC cast is slightly askew from Doyle canon there in that Lestrade (BBC) is much less tentative, a stronger character with what seems to be a stronger backstory with Sherlock, where Dimmock captures the less capable "voice" Lestrade evidences in the books. There are also moments when this plot or certain dialog evokes the TV series (The Reichenbach Fall, I'm looking at you and the role the press plays in Sherlock's problem), but that may just be that they both are, after all, based upon the Doyle.
So, good expansion of the Sherlockverse, for anyone who wants a truly quintessential Victorian Holmes and Watson coming up against the baddest bad guy of that period's history. ...more