I wonder how I'd feel about this if I hadn't read it on the heels of Jemisin's brilliant and most recent novel, The Fifth Season. I was expecting to bI wonder how I'd feel about this if I hadn't read it on the heels of Jemisin's brilliant and most recent novel, The Fifth Season. I was expecting to be similarly blown away, and it just didn't happen. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I'm much less interested in the premise and subject matter of this novel. But it was also startling to observe how much Jemisin's writing and character development have improved during the five years between this book and The Fifth Season. I'm going to give the next book in the series a chance, but I'm really just killing time until The Obelisk Gate comes out......more
I love Lucy Knisley's work and plan to read everything she publishes forever (I'm particularly looking forward to her take on pregnancy and motherhoodI love Lucy Knisley's work and plan to read everything she publishes forever (I'm particularly looking forward to her take on pregnancy and motherhood). That said, this book -- her first memoir -- was a bit less enchanting than her more recent work. I loved the food, the shopping, and Knisley's strong relationship with her parents, particularly her mother. But having recently read Relish: My Life in the Kitchen and Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride, I was accustomed to the wiser, kinder, and more thoughtful voice that's only beginning to develop in French Milk. It's worth a read if you already love Knisley's work, but if you started here, just know that Knisley grows as a person and as an artist with each subsequent book, and it's a journey well worth tagging along on. ...more
Well-nigh irresistible to an erstwhile theater kid, and anyone who's ever loved a musical will surely feel the same. Viertel's favorite musicals and mWell-nigh irresistible to an erstwhile theater kid, and anyone who's ever loved a musical will surely feel the same. Viertel's favorite musicals and mine don't always line up (I'm with him on Guys and Dolls and Fiddler on the Roof, but I've never seen Carousel, prefer The Sound of Music to South Pacific, and never managed to warm up to Sondheim), but his enthusiasm is contagious, his analysis thoughtful, and his love of musicals and firm belief in their importance is apparent on every page. A delight from the overture to the curtain call! ...more
Thanks to this very approachable history, I think I'm finally starting to get a handle on the Wars of the Roses. Next up: The Princes in the Tower, thThanks to this very approachable history, I think I'm finally starting to get a handle on the Wars of the Roses. Next up: The Princes in the Tower, though after being thoroughly convinced by The Daughter of Time I'm afraid I won't be happy with Weir's solution to the mystery......more
This book is a total charmer -- though I was occasionally a bit suspicious of Wright's research and sources, it was just such fun to read that I had tThis book is a total charmer -- though I was occasionally a bit suspicious of Wright's research and sources, it was just such fun to read that I had to give it four stars. I particularly liked that Wright refuses to forgive not only Norman Mailer (for stabbing his then wife at a party) but also the literary establishment (who spent the rest of his career making excuses for him). Brava! ...more
I'm officially a K.J. Charles convert! This is a delightful romance -- smart, sensitive, and funny, with vivid characters and excellent witty banter -I'm officially a K.J. Charles convert! This is a delightful romance -- smart, sensitive, and funny, with vivid characters and excellent witty banter -- but it's also set against a convincingly serious backdrop of political unrest in early nineteenth-century England. Like Courtney Milan, Charles obviously isn't afraid to tackle issues of social justice in her romance fiction, and I loved the touches of early feminism (the hero's mother is the author of a Wollstonecraftian manifesto in support of women's rights) and nods to the unconventional Romantics.
Our hero's "caught between two worlds" dilemma is convincing -- he wants to hold on to his (then) radical notions of equality and justice, but he also loves partying, wearing nice clothes, and hanging out with his society bros. What young person wouldn't feel conflicted in that situation? And his true love's reluctance to open his heart is no tired cliche, but convincingly and sensitively rendered. Of course, "happily ever after" looks a bit different for Julius and Harry than for the typical "then they got married and had a whole bunch of children and were rich and happy forever!" of a heterosexual couple in historical romance. Charles manages to give us a "woohoo, true love!" ending without letting us forget the difficulties and dangers of being two men in love in this society.
Charles also does a great job with the secondary characters -- each has a distinct personality and voice, and while they often disagree on matters of politics and propriety, they always support each other in the end. I'm very eager to read the rest of the series! ...more
**spoiler alert** I quite like Kleypas' writing and I really am very fond of the quartet of female friends at the heart of this series, but I can hard**spoiler alert** I quite like Kleypas' writing and I really am very fond of the quartet of female friends at the heart of this series, but I can hardly stand her alpha heroes! It probably doesn't help that I was reading Men Explain Things to Me at the same time. But I almost put the book down when I realized that the last-thirty-pages plot twist involved the abduction of Lillian, our heroine, and a plan for a forced marriage and subsequent rape* (to ensure that her true love would never want her back, sans virtue). Is the villain stopped from carrying out these dastardly deeds by the dashing hero? Of course he is! But what's most disturbing here is not the existence of a villain who plots to do terrible things to our heroine. It's that this man -- who is perfectly willing to force her into marriage and sex to ensure that she becomes and remains his property -- is THE HERO OF THE NEXT BOOK. And worse, his true-love-to-be is my favorite Wallflower. I'm going to read, but it might be a hate-read. I'm not sure Lord St. Vincent is redeemable.
*Said villain asserts that "it wouldn't be rape," because he is skilled and Lillian would enjoy herself. UGH. Lillian herself, however, refuses to contemplate that the threatened act would be anything other than rape. These heroes drive me nuts, but at least the heroines know their own hearts and minds -- and have quite a bit to say about what the men in their lives do or don't do with their bodies. ...more
While Karp has some great ideas (and a few of them even seem to work on my child), I found myself cringing often at the writing and the tone. And I paWhile Karp has some great ideas (and a few of them even seem to work on my child), I found myself cringing often at the writing and the tone. And I particularly loathed his near-constant use of the word "primitive." It's bad enough as an adjective ("your child's primitive behavior") but so much worse as a noun ("try this technique with your little primitive!"). Ugh! I'm not sorry I read this, because his overall message makes a lot of sense -- but I didn't exactly enjoy the experience. ...more
This novel, while very much a work of fiction, does not disappoint, and while the author made some interesting choices, her Caroline and William feel very true (due in part, surely, to the abundance of source material they left behind). Brown deftly balances science and emotion, love and resentment, and Caroline is easy to love and to relate to. I especially loved that Caroline's love and admiration for her brilliant and difficult brother never left her blind to his myriad faults -- she is happy with her life and her work, but she also knows that she deserves better than the treatment she often receives from her head-in-the-Milky-Way sibling.
A historical note at the end of the book details some elements that were invented or omitted from the historical truth of the Herschels' lives, and I had mixed feelings about this. For example, I loved the Portuguese doctor and stargazer who wins Lina's heart well into her middle age and the servant boy who grows up to be Lina's greatest friend and supporter (both completely invented!), but I'm a little bemused by Brown's choice to eliminate the son of William's late-in-life marriage, choosing to leave William and Mary Herschel childless. I don't think that a son for William and a nephew for Caroline would have diminished what Brown was trying to do with her characters -- quite the contrary. And since Sir John Herschel grew up to be an astronomer and scientist in his own right, his removal from his aunt's and father's story is even more baffling -- causing the story almost to veer into the realm of alternate history. (Which, let's face it, I love, but I prefer to have it identified as such.)
In the end, it's up to the author of historical fiction to make her own choices, and I'm sure Brown had her reasons. In the hands of a lesser writer, this might have been a dealbreaker, but a few invented and deleted astronomers ultimately couldn't cloud my enjoyment of this fine book....more
This is a middle-grade novel for grownups. Or rather, it's a novel intended for preteens that, miracle of miracles, expects a lot from its reader, andThis is a middle-grade novel for grownups. Or rather, it's a novel intended for preteens that, miracle of miracles, expects a lot from its reader, and is just as rewarding at 35 as it was at 11.
I read this as a kid and remember liking it, so I was expecting a fun nostalgia trip. What I wasn't expecting was to enjoy it even more twenty-five years later. The characters are still memorable, the writing excellent, the story compelling -- but there's a level of wisdom and thoughtfulness that had me cheering for authors who don't talk down to their intended audience. (Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond succeeds in a similar way, I think, and I'm sure there are many many others I'm forgetting.) And as a parent, it's such a thrill to remember that books like this exist and to look forward to reading this with my daughter.
Something else that struck me throughout the book was what an excellent parent Juniper makes. She's the very embodiment of "firm but kind," allowing Wise Child to make her own mistakes, teaching her lessons without reprimand or punishment. (Wise Child is a real pill at times, so this is quite a task, but Juniper never seems too nice to be believed.) If Juniper wrote a parenting manual, I would absolutely buy it. Perhaps Parenting the Juniper Way, or The Doran's Guide to the First Five Years? ...more