Honestly, after reading at least one of the following books - Hush, Hush, Halo, Fallen - do you really believe there is a good paranormal YA romance aHonestly, after reading at least one of the following books - Hush, Hush, Halo, Fallen - do you really believe there is a good paranormal YA romance about angels out there? A book about proms, love triangles, hawt boys, that doesn't make you want to hurl? No? Neither did I before reading Unearthly.
I was very much impressed by this novel. I was cautious and not trusting of positive reviews of it, and it ended up exceeding my expectations. The book never even once made me roll my eyes - something that I always expect to do when I open any teen romance. It is not driven by the main character's stupidity, like many paranormal romances are. It is not focused on some girl's obsession over a guy who treats her like crap. It is pretty much a breath of fresh air.
Clara is an angel-blood (1/4th angel, 3/4th human). She just received her purpose - a task that all angel-bloods have to fulfill in their lives. This purpose has something to do with a boy Clara sees in her visions and she thinks it is her duty to save his life. She moves closer to him, tries to get to know him and has a bit of a crush on him. Only it seems her purpose in regards to Christian is not quite clear and neither are her feelings towards him.
Apparently, it is possible to write a paranormal romance which employs all standard elements of the genre, and make something good out of it. Cynthia Hand proves with this novel that you can write a teen girl with supernatural abilities and not make her a complete Mary Sue. That there can be a romance between a supernatural and a human, and neither is obsessed with another and ready to die of despair if they break up. That nobody in the relationship has to be a stalker or a doormat. That teens can fall in love with each other not because one of them is inhumanly hawt or sparkly, but because, you know, they spend time together and TALK first.
The story is well paced and never gets boring. The mystery of Clara's purpose is sufficiently mysterious and creates a nice tension. The romantic story line is sweet and, oh my, HEALTHY! Can you believe it?
The angel mythology unfolds at a good pace as well. Whenever you write something about angels, there is always this question of God, how to place him in the story. Hand does a great job of not mucking the concept of angel by making angels in her novel some sexy beasts who are allowed to do whatever and still remain angels. And God's place in the story is also carefully written, avoiding being preachy (for non-believers) or blasphemous (for those who believe).
Unearthly might not be one of the books that I recommend to anyone who would listen (like I do with Lips Touch: Three Times or Melina Marchetta's novels) and that I am in awe of. But I can guarantee you will at least not want to bang this book against the wall. It is not morally reprehensible, misguided or poorly written. As far as teen paranormal romance fluff goes, Unearthly belongs in the top tier IMO. I am even impressed enough to read the sequel, many plot lines remain open and I am curious!...more
Why isn't this book more popular? The only reason I know about it is because one day I was browsing my GR friends' shelves As seen on The Readventurer
Why isn't this book more popular? The only reason I know about it is because one day I was browsing my GR friends' shelves looking for a book written by an author whose name starts with "Q" for a reading challenge. How sad is that? Sorta Like a Rock Star deserves better.
Amber Appleton is a peculiar sort of girl. If you have seen Happy-Go-Lucky, Amber is pretty much a younger version of Poppy, an incorrigible optimist. She is the life of the party, she stands up for the weak, cheers up elderly, saves stray dogs, all with never-ending enthusiasm and positivity. Only, as you can expect, such approach to life is not necessarily healthy. It is too much of a burden to hold up so many people. One day, after a particularly devastating event, Amber can't take it any longer and succumbs to depression. Will she be able to pull through?
In an ocean of conventional YA books with recycled plots and characters, Sorta Like a Rock Star stands out. Amber's story is heartbreaking and inspiring. As for the characters, I do not know which one of them I liked the most - Amber, upbeat, hopeful, improper and pushy; or her best doggy friend Thrice B who never fails to hump his canine lady friend even with fresh stitches in his belly; or maybe Private Jackson, a Vietnam vet who copes with his war memories by writing haikus and drinking green tea. I just can't decide...
Speaking of haikus. Can't say I knew much about this poetry form before reading this book, but haikus here had quite an effect on me, meaning, they made me bawl like a baby. ...more
Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes novel is utterly unimpressive. In short, the book starts like this:
and mid-way turns into this:
[imagArthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes novel is utterly unimpressive. In short, the book starts like this:
and mid-way turns into this:
And I am not even joking. The novel begins with Holmes and Watson meeting, moving into their Baker Street apartment and then investigating a murder of a man found in an abandoned house. At the half point, however, the story completely changes its course and becomes the most awkward introduction of the murderer's back story and motives involving Mormons, polygamy, violence, money, and Brigham Young. The structure of The Study in Scarlet is utterly bizarre.
But let's not linger on the bad. I want to use this review to shamelessly hype the new BBC version of Sherlock Holmes.
This is an absolutely delightful modernized take on the old characters and it offers a much better version of Arthur Conan Doyle's dreadful story. So, check it out....more
I don't think I've cried this much over a book since Mockingjay. Okay for Now must be one of the most bitter-sweet stories out there. Exhilarating is I don't think I've cried this much over a book since Mockingjay. Okay for Now must be one of the most bitter-sweet stories out there. Exhilarating is probably the best word to describe it.
If you've read The Wednesday Wars, you already know the main character of this novel - Doug Swieteck. While this companion novel follows the formula and themes of The Wednesday Wars, Doug's story is a heavier one. Holling's problems are nothing compared to Doug's. His father is quick with his hands, his elder brother is a bully, his mother is powerless, he himself is defined by what his family is and can't seem to break away from the image everyone has of him.
But, thankfully, there are new people in Doug's life who expect the best of him, who give him a fair chance at succeeding in life, who empower him to become the best person he can be and he, in turn, empowers others.
It is amazing how complex and multi-layered Schmidt's characters are. You think of them in one way and then there comes a moment when they reveal another side of themselves, and suddenly a bully is a loyal brother, a prejudiced school principal is the best supporter... I love it that everyone in this book has redeeming qualities that are ready to be expressed, if only you give a person a chance.
The book took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride. It made me cry my eyes out in sorrow one moment and grin (and again, cry) in delight and of pride the next. Schmidt has a wonderful way with words and a skill of showing and not telling, when by saying nothing, he says it all.
I have no doubt Okay for Now will be a serious Newbery contender in 2011 and, dare I say, it is even superior to The Wednesday Wars. The book is not out until April of the next year, but it is so worth waiting for. Too bad this cover doesn't do this terrific book justice. ...more
Out of all Bronte books Agnes Grey is definitely the one that reads as if written by a pastor's daughter. There is just a very familiar quality to it,Out of all Bronte books Agnes Grey is definitely the one that reads as if written by a pastor's daughter. There is just a very familiar quality to it, a mix of self-righteousness, martyrdom and judgment, characteristic of "Christian" romances (yes, I have read a couple back in the day).
Not even once during the course of the novel does Agnes make a mistake and therefore she doesn't evolve, change. She is just the most perfectest creature ever who is mistreated by everyone around her. The beginning part of the novel is particularly jarring in this respect - her never-ending complaints about the family she works for as a governess are annoying. Yes, the kids are spoiled and the parents are ignorant, but Agnes herself has absolutely no experience with kids or teaching and in a dire need of Supernanny's advice.
The things are not much better once Agnes moves to her second place of employment. Here, of course, everyone is bad too. (Except the love interest, who is a minister, naturally.) It seems to be Agnes' main purpose to observe and document everyone's follies - from her employees' to fellow servants'. I say enough already.
In spite of the whiny voice of the main character and continuous moralizing, the novel is not a complete loss however. Anne Brontë's talent for social critic reveals itself in the latter part of the novel. Her portrayal of naughty Murray sisters is delicious. Dare I say, you can hear the voice of Jane Austen in some of the passages? And how about those spoiled kids who act as if they are serial killers in the making? I can't not give the author credit for writing about that.
On the other hand, the romance is a bit of a disappointment. It is nothing like twisted and complex relationships in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. It is a tepid affair, culminating in a "passionate" elbow touching.
Do women still do this sort of thing - marry a man they suddenly find out is a very unsavory/immoral character because they want to make sure any chilDo women still do this sort of thing - marry a man they suddenly find out is a very unsavory/immoral character because they want to make sure any child born to this man is raised not to be like his father? And then, once this child is all grown-up, instead of advising him what is right or wrong, stand back to let him take the wrong path? Such idealism and passivity are hard for me to comprehend. But, as always, written beautifully. ...more
This novel is by far my favorite account of an artist's life in fiction.
The story of Charles Strickland is based on Paul Gauguin's life. To what extenThis novel is by far my favorite account of an artist's life in fiction.
The story of Charles Strickland is based on Paul Gauguin's life. To what extent, I don't know. What I do know is that there is something infinitely irresistible about how artistry is portrayed in this novel. I love the idea that a real artist creates art because he cannot not to. That all other aspects of his life - family, money, acclaim, food even - are secondary to his desire to create. Strickland is remarkable in his drive to paint - he abandons his comfortable life, wife and children, career as a stockbroker - to do something that he feels he can't live without.
What I also love about Moon And Sixpence is how Maugham portrays relationships between men and women. He really makes a case that women are very much into men who treat them badly. He does so with humor, even though a bitter and puzzled humor. This is one of my favorite bits of the novel, where Strickland "proposes" to his Tahitian wife and an observer chimes in afterward:
"Well, Ata, he said, "do you fancy me for a husband." She did not say anything, but just giggled. "I shall beat you," he said, looking at her. "How else should I know you loved me," she answered.
Tiare broke off her narrative and addressed herself to me reflectively.
"My first husband, Captain Johnson, used to thrash me regularly. He was a man. He was handsome, six foot three, and when he was drunk there was no holding him. I would be black and blue all over for days at a time. Oh, I cried when he died. I thought I should never get over it. But it wasn't till I married George Rainey that I knew what I'd lost. You can never tell what a man is like till you live with him. I've never been so deceived in a man as I was in George Rainey. He was a fine, upstanding fellow too. He was nearly as tall as Captain Johnson, and he looked strong enough. But it was all on the surface. He never drank. He never raised his hand to me. He might have been a missionary. I made love with the officers of every ship that touched the island, and George Rainey never saw anything. At last I was disgusted with him, and I got a divorce. What was the good of a husband like that? It's a terrible thing the way some men treat women."
I want to laugh at this quote and say that Maugham's views are outdated and plain wrong, but then I read another 5-star review of Hush, Hush, and think - Nah, things, unfortunately, have not changed that much.
On a bright note, I do very much want to visit Strickland's Tahiti.
This series appears to be a childhood favorite of many readers and I think if I were 10 years old I'd be a bigger fan of it as well.
Alanna: The FirstThis series appears to be a childhood favorite of many readers and I think if I were 10 years old I'd be a bigger fan of it as well.
Alanna: The First Adventure is a good book that you would want your small daughter to read and learn from. It is both an entertaining mix of adventure and magic and it teaches all the right lessons of perseverance, patience, hard work, and standing up to adversity. Extra points for writing about periods.
However, to me, an adult reader, this short novel had very little to offer. Although the book kept my attention throughout and the pace of the story was very dynamic, it was hardly mind-blowing or very inventive. My desire to read the sequel did not appear until the very end and only because I really wanted to know how Alanna's relationship with Prince Jonathan would unfold, I thought that story line had a lot of promise.
BUT, the moment I read some reviews of In the Hand of the Goddess that mentioned Alanna's bed-hopping, my desire to continue on with the story completely evaporated. This sort of thing was definitely not something I cared to read about, and definitely not in a children's book....more
Frankly, I have no interest in zombies and unicorns, I just don't, and especiallyAs seen on The Readventurer
And the winner is...
TEAM ZOMBIES! [image]
Frankly, I have no interest in zombies and unicorns, I just don't, and especially in unicorns. But I was induced to give this anthology a chance mostly by many of my GR friends' positive reviews. They didn't let me down. Unlike almost all multi-author collections, this one is very strong.
The zombie stories are almost consistently very good. The weakest, expectedly, is Cassandra Clare's necrophilic Cold Hands. Not only is it written poorly, but it has a fundamental flaw in logic - why aren't bodies of the deceased simply burned? Wouldn't that stop all the town's problems?
The rest of the stories are great though.
Alaya Dawn Johnson managed to convince me zombies can be sexually attractive (that's a first!) in her Love Will Tear Us Apart, points added for boy/boy love story, points taken away for crassness and excessive use of the f-word.
Carrie Ryan's Bougainville is a million times better than the only novel of hers I've read (The Forest of Hands and Teeth). Great survival story with a twisty ending, no nauseating love triangles and quadrangles and the heroine is actually likable.
The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson is about creepy zombie kiddies and a freaky celebrity.
Scott Westerfeld's Inoculata left me yearning for more. The whole idea of people mutating to co-exist with zombies is fascinating. There is also some girl on girl action.
The most bleak story is saved for the end. Libba Bray's teen survivors don't have much to look forward to after Prom Night is over.
Ironically, both my most and least favorite stories are about unicorns. Garth Nix's The Highest Justice and Naomi Novik's Purity Test are half-baked creations that they probably threw together in minutes. Nothing original or exciting about them.
Meg Cabot's Princess Prettypants, as you can expect from the title, is a pure silliness and fluff, but the writing is very engaging and I have a soft spot for Meg's characters.
The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn definitely needs a better title, but the unicorn in this story is super-cute in spite of having sharp teeth and being carnivorous. Maybe I should give Diana Peterfreund's novels a try?
And finally, the best! The unicorn in Kathleen Duey's The Third Virgin is a hardcore addict! And Margo Lanagan's A Thousand Flowers is full of deliciously gory stuff like rape, bestiality, murder and child birth. Only fans of Tender Morsels should proceed with this one.
The novel starts with Keir's friend, Gigi, screaming at him, accusing him of rape.
I am so sorry. "What are you sorry for, Keir?" Gigi screams again, grabbing me by where my lapels would be if I had a jacket on, or a shirt, or anything. She can't get a purchase because I have no clothes, and very little fat, because I have been good about my health lately. She grabs, can't grab, scratches instead at my chest, then slaps me hard across the face, first right side then left, smack, smack. "Say what you did, Keir." "Why is Carl coming? Why do you have to call Carl, Gigi?" "Say what you did, Keir. Admit what you did to me." "I didn't do anything, Gigi." "Yes you did! I said no!" I say this very firmly. "You did not."
You see, according to Keir, the way it looks is not the way it is. How can he, an upstanding guy, a great son and brother, rape anybody? It's just impossible, because he is a good guy. Gigi must have gotten it all wrong, misunderstood him and he will do his best to convince her she made a mistake.
What follows is your (a)typical "unreliable narrator" story. When Keir starts describing some events of his senior year leading up to the fateful evening, we see that maybe he has a bit of a skewed image of himself, maybe even a lot skewed? Maybe his dad is not such a great role model? Maybe his sisters are not that supportive?
Inexcusable, it seems, gets some heat in the reviews for focusing on an unlikable main character who doesn't realize what is wrong with him. I never have a problem with this sort of thing. Such stories (The Spectacular Now and You) I enjoy, it's always interesting to get into a twisted person's head IMO. What I wish though is that the novel were a little longer. I think there is much more to explore in Keir's life and his relationships with his family and friends. Otherwise, it Inexcusable is a strong, thought-provoking, but not necessarily feel-good novel for young adults. ...more
I can't believe I am giving a Le Guin book 2 stars, I have nothing but respect for this writer and her work, but alas, A Wizard of Earthsea was a chorI can't believe I am giving a Le Guin book 2 stars, I have nothing but respect for this writer and her work, but alas, A Wizard of Earthsea was a chore to get through.
Frankly, I only enjoyed the very beginning and the very end of this story. What's in between is excruciatingly boring. A Wizard of Earthsea is an introspective book. What I mean is, it's all about one wizard's personal quest to overcome the dark entity - Shadow - that he unleashed during a youthful boasting about his magical powers. Ged spends the majority of the novel feeling ashamed of his deed, or running away from the Shadow or, in the end, finally confronting it.
It is not a bad tale on the intellectual level, that's why the book has such a strong following. But as a reading experience it was underwhelming. There are no interesting personalities or relationships in this book, no adventures. Just a very, very dry, almost didactic, quest. I look back at some science fiction works of Le Guin's - Four Ways to Forgiveness or The Left Hand of Darkness - they blew my mind. A Wizard of Earthsea just didn't.
Listening to this novel as read by Harlan Ellison was an experience in its own. This person really overdid it, emphasizing stuff and yelling and stammering every other sentence. None if which was in the novel. At times I could almost feel him spitting during the reading. But in the end, this narrator did the job for me. When I tried finishing the novel on my own, I was bored to death, so only thanks to him I was able to get to the finish line at all.
My favorite are definitely the sci-fi stoUnlike Four Ways to Forgiveness, this is an uneven collection, a mixed bag of Le Guin's early short stories.
My favorite are definitely the sci-fi stories: from Hainish cycle - Winter's King (a prequel to The Left Hand of Darkness), The Day Before the Revolution (a prequel to The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia), Vaster than Empires and More Slow (humans try to communicate with a different type of intelligence, reminiscent of Solaris); and independent - Nine Lives (about cloning) and The Field of Vision (explores mysterious structures on Mars).
A couple of Earthsea shorts are great too - The Word of Unbinding and The Rule of Names. I wasn't sure I wanted to try Le Guin's fantasy before, but now I am certain I will, her magic system is quite interesting.
The worst for me are the psychomyth category of stories (very much like Margo Lanagan's writing) and the acid-trippy ones. They are just weird and most of the time I didn't even understand them. The best in this bunch are - The Masters and The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, hard to explain what they are about though...
Almost forgot, another good thing about the collection is that all stories are preceded by the author's introductions. Interesting to learn about Le Guin's creative process. She is a very smart woman.
P.S. I would really appreciate if someone could explain Darkness Box to me. It seems to be a favorite of many readers, but I have absolutely no idea what happened in it.
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas - Hugo (short story 1973) The Day Before the Revolution - Nebula (short story 1974)...more
So, a reread after a dystopia-overstaffed year, and Ship Breaker still stands out. Actually, this novel has by far the bestAs seen on The Readventurer
So, a reread after a dystopia-overstaffed year, and Ship Breaker still stands out. Actually, this novel has by far the best conceived vision of our future in terms of realism. Nothing much far-fetched or impossible here.
This future is grim and rusty. The planet's natural resources are exhausted, the global warming is happening, Antarctica is gone, cities drowned. Nailer, the main character, makes his living stripping old ships off of their metals which will be then sold to big corporations to be recycled over and over again. His life takes a turn when he comes across a wrecked ship whose only survivor is a girl who is the heir to one of the biggest corporation in the world. Nailor has to decide what to do about this girl - to help her or take advantage of her strained circumstances...
However, the reread highlighted the fact that, compared to Bacigalupi's adult works (pretty much all of which I devoured after reading Ship Breaker), this book is a tad juvenile, middle grade almost, and it touches only the surface of the issues the author explores so well and so thoughtfully in his adult fiction. Reading Ship Breaker for the second time, I just wanted more, because I knew how much more there was to this world Bacigalupi imagined.
I am not trying to dismiss Ship Breaker's accomplishments. Judged on its own, this novel is one of the strongest in the genre of dystopian YA. But if you are first a fan of Bacigalupi's adult work, I am afraid this book might just not be enough.
If you are new to Bacigalupi, go ahead, take a gentle dip into his dark imagination, Ship Breaker is a good primer. What he offers in his adult fiction is much uglier and more terrifying. ...more
Quite a few suicidal people in this one. And a gigolo. But otherwise a strong mystery and good dramatization. Supposedly one of Christie's 10 best novQuite a few suicidal people in this one. And a gigolo. But otherwise a strong mystery and good dramatization. Supposedly one of Christie's 10 best novels....more
Classics of the Macabre is a collection of the (supposedly) Daphne du Maurier's best short stories packaged very nicely - multiple colored illustratioClassics of the Macabre is a collection of the (supposedly) Daphne du Maurier's best short stories packaged very nicely - multiple colored illustrations, gorgeous paper. As far as such collections go, it is very strong. Although the stories are satisfying to various degrees, all of them are equally spooky and suspenseful. I am amazed how well du Maurier laces her stories with so much thrill and foreboding.
My favorite in the bunch is definitely The Birds. Having never watched Hitchcock's movie adaptation, I do not know how the two mediums compare, but this apocalyptic story about birds suddenly turning on people is thrilling and scary in a Stephen King way.
Close second favorite is The Apple Tree about a man who one day sees an apple tree in his garden which strongly reminds him of his recently deceased nagging wife. Love how the perception of the dead wife changes throughout the book and how the apple tree embodies her essence.
Don't Look Now is very strong as well. A husband and wife are taking a vacation in Venice after the death of their daughter. They come across a couple of weird old ladies who tell them that their dead daughter wants them to leave Venice immediately or something bad is bound to happen. My favorite part of the story is that it raises an interesting question: can we actually change the course of our destinies?
The other three stories are a little weaker. In The Blue Lenses after an eye operation a patient suddenly starts seeing people around her as animals. In The Alibi a man decides to spice up his boring life by ... killing somebody. And finally, my least favorite story Not After Midnight about a man who acquires a mysterious malady after taking a vacation in Greece and encountering a strange American couple there. This story basically over-promises in terms of suspense but under-delivers in terms of resolution.
Even though the stories are not all equally good, they maintain a pretty consistent high quality. On the other hand, I was not at all impressed by the illustrations. ...more
First thing first. I think Ally Condie owes at least half of her seven-figure paycheck to Lois Lowry. The entire dystopian world is lifted directly from Lowry's The Giver. Almost everything interesting in Matched is very familiar - the idea of highly controlled Society (the Community in The Giver), the prearranged Matches, uniform clothing, the pills suppressing emotions, predetermination of everyone's life course, euthanized elderly, regulated personal possessions, the precision of the language, the family structure. The list goes on and on... What Condie adds of her own is too often doesn't make much sense - people are not allowed/can't write, but they know how to read and operate computers; Matches and procreation are controlled but teens can still snog around a bit; and what is the sorting job all about, I still have no idea. I am not the biggest fan of The Giver our there, but that novel had a horrifying, structured, world hiding behind its simplistic language. What hides behind the words of Matched is sheer emptiness. And boredom and unoriginality.
If all "borrowed" dystopian ideas are stripped away, what is left is a tepid, G-rated teen romance affair with an obligatory love triangle and magical love connections. Even the male love interests are the same old tired cliches - a sweet and loyal best friend type and a mysterious, hurt, emo type quoting poetry. Yawn! Yawn! Yawn!
Ally Condie's writing is serviceable enough. So are the characters. No male character requires a restraining order against him, no female - a head check for putting up with abusive crap. But is this (and a pretty cover) really a recipe for success these days? There is nothing in this novel to get excited over. There is no urgency to Condie's writing, no passion. Just dull characters, dull relationships, dull conflicts, dull conversations...
I can't whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone, it simply doesn't offer anything new or noteworthy. But some fans of lukewarm-romance-driven stories like Birthmarked or Beautiful Creatures might enjoy it I suppose.
Do I really need to say I am not coming back for more?
P.S. Apparently, Disney picked it up for development! WHY?!
I don't know if something got lost in abridgment, but this story didn't quite come together. The connection between the characters weren't up to ChrisI don't know if something got lost in abridgment, but this story didn't quite come together. The connection between the characters weren't up to Christie's usual standards and the murderers came sort of out of nowhere. Maybe the fact that she wrote it close to her nervous breakdown and disappearance had something to do with it... ...more
Girls, abusive relationships are bad! (accompanied by her own story about her 7th-grade romance with a boy who used to punch her and call her ugly)
Girls, threesomes might ruin your relationships!
Girls, don't let your men have parties in Vegas, bad stuff happens there!
Well, thank you, Jenny, for discovering America! I am sure your audience of grown women had no idea about these things! And thanks for googling and wiki-ing stuff for us (nick names for lady parts, hook-up playlists and horoscopes) and putting it into your book. You saved our lives!
But seriously, there is almost nothing of substance in this book. The woman knows nothing about anything at all, and especially about relationships.
The only reason I am giving this book 2 stars instead of 1 is because it does have a couple of funny stories - one about her coming to shoot her Playboy nudy pics with all hairiness intact, and a couple of amusing sex facts:
Did you know that half of the men raised on farms have had a sexual encounter with an animal? (Ew!)
Did you know that the dolphins are the only known animal other than humans who have sex for pleasure? (Huh?)
I am at a loss here and can't really get myself to choose how to rate this book. It certainly provoked an array of emotions in me, but I find it hard I am at a loss here and can't really get myself to choose how to rate this book. It certainly provoked an array of emotions in me, but I find it hard to articulate what I thought of it as a whole. Which is not that surprising considering that philosophical books about meaning/meaninglessness of life never work for me. I sort of already have that question answered for myself and no one's nihilistic ideas can change it (I hope). Kids in this novel, however, are easily influenced by such ideas and fight back the doubts by creating the pile of meaning, to which they sacrifice things most important to them. What do they have left then?
The other aspect of the novel - the herd mentality and savagery humans are capable of - is easier to be affected by.
What I am certain about is that this very allegorical fable will not be a hit with its target audience - middle school kids. Some adults will appreciate it, and for a reason.
I wonder what Teller writes for adults of this is what she wrote for kids......more
On the one hand, I liked many things about it. Publishers promise StarCrossed to be the next Megan Whal3.5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this book.
On the one hand, I liked many things about it. Publishers promise StarCrossed to be the next Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief-like experience. The book delivers on this promise, somewhat. The main character, Digger, is a thief and an extremely unreliable narrator - she lies, she steals, she has secrets. It makes the story interesting and twisty.
The world of StarCrossed is wonderfully developed. It is rich and all-encompassing, starting with multiple moons and a pantheon of gods and ending with elaborate history and social order of the country Digger lives in. After reading just the first couple of chapters I was amazed at the image of the world I had in my mind - how GREEN it was. You'll have to read the book to understand. And then there is THE INTRIGUE. A very good one which unfolds at a nice pace.
On the other hand, there were some things that drove me nuts because they defied any logic. Digger is a thief and a liar, so of course, she is not a very believable narrator. But then she would do something that makes no sense. Such as, portrayed as a maid, a servant, she manages to get various nobs (noblemen) to reveal treasonous information about themselves and others to her! During casual dinner hall conversations! Why would they tell her anything? She is a nobody. Or there is another instance. One of the noblemen is arrested for treason and is being interrogated. Digger manages to get into the room to talk to the prisoner under a lame excuse - she has a tray of food to give to this prisoner! For goodness sake, that person is tied to a chair! Who would care if this prisoner is hungry if they are about to start torture? It happens on several occasions and can't be explained away by saying that the narrator doesn't tell us everything. I wonder why nobody questioned these lapses in logic while editing the book?
The other complaint is that the first part of the book is filled with characters that never show up again. But I am guessing they will play bigger role in the sequel. I hope one of them will become Digger's love interest. This novel is pretty light on romance, unfortunately.
And my last set of complaints is related to the book's design. First, StarCrossed needs a map! A lot of traveling takes place and the geographic location of various places is vital to the story, so a map would be a great help. And second, the font is very hard on the eyes. It is so small and blocky! It makes the text look much denser than it actually is. I think this particular font is more suitable for some non-fiction book rather than a YA fantasy novel.
I know I've been griping about many things in this review, and yet there is a certain charm to this story. I want to know what happens next and how it all ends. I will definitely read the sequel....more
Looking back at The Little Stranger, I think I quite liked the novel as a whole, especially the ending that wrapped up the tale in a curious and deliciously ambiguous and enigmatic way.
This sort-of-ghost-story is an interesting portrayal of the downfall of an aristocratic family in post-war Britain and a deep exploration of what it means (psychologically) for such a family to witness a slow dilapidation of its once grand estate.
Sarah Waters's writing is elegant and her descriptions of both decaying Hundreds Hall and its defeated inhabitants are haunting and atmospheric. And the narrator, Dr. Faraday, the over-involved spectator, is quite an amusing specimen to watch and get to know.
My main problem is, though, why couldn't this book be a couple of hundred pages shorter? I couldn't help myself wishing Daphne du Maurier had written it in half the page count. As much as I enjoyed Waters' writing, I felt the pacing at times was excruciatingly slow. I am glad I decided to listen to the audio version of this novel, because, truth be told, I don't think I have enough stamina for such a slow-moving, atmosphere- rather than plot-oriented story. The audio allowed me to keep up with the narration easily (in reality, not much happens in this novel), while not missing out on much during the times I found my mind drifting away from the story.
This is by no means a definitive biography of the Brontes. It is very short, basic, full of pictures of places and people in the Brontes' lives. I likThis is by no means a definitive biography of the Brontes. It is very short, basic, full of pictures of places and people in the Brontes' lives. I liked that the author presented facts in a responsible manner without trying to shock or sensationalize certain events in the sisters' lives.
Overall it presented a much cheerier view of Anne, Emily and Charlotte's experiences than I had expected. Their existence wasn't in fact as dreary as some suggest. The tradition of portraying the Brontes leading the lives of drudgery and deprivation probably stemmed from their early deaths which added a morbid and tragic tone to their story. Even Charlotte's wasn't overly unbearable. Yes, emotionally taxing in the later years, when her sibling succumbed to various illnesses, but utterly awful - no. It appears Charlotte was mostly plagued by her loneliness and lack of love, but in all fairness she was the one turning down marriage proposals, probably waiting for a romantic hero a la Mr. Rochester, an unrealistic product of her vivid, passionate imagination.
After reading this book I no longer think that Villette's Lucy Snowe is a mirror image of Charlotte. While writing this novel the author, I suppose, was in a state of mild depression after the several deaths in her family, which colored the work so darkly, but as a whole Charlotte Brontë's personality wasn't as repressed and as unhappy as Lucy's. But kudos to Charlotte for utilizing every notable experience of her life to create such an emotionally intense work of art. ...more
Writing this review is hard, simply because I don't think I am equipped to adequately relay Ursula K. Le Guin's genius. She is one of the cleverest wrWriting this review is hard, simply because I don't think I am equipped to adequately relay Ursula K. Le Guin's genius. She is one of the cleverest writers I have ever come across and her anthropological science fiction never ceases to amaze and distress me.
Of course, at the core of every sci-fi novel lies an alien world. The one depicted in this collection of 4 interconnected novellas is particularly gruesome IMO. This collection of stories is about slavery, freedom, and women's liberation. But even more, it is about understanding and forgiveness. Le Guin makes it possible: to understand and forgive a disgraced leader of the the War of Liberation who is accused of embezzlement and debauchery; for a Werelian officer, disgusted by a female representative's of Ekumen (the Envoy) childishness and loose behavior, and the Envoy, turned off by the officer's uptight, proprietary behavior towards her, to understand each other and fall in love with the very qualities they had thought off-putting; for a representative of a better, more peaceful world, to come to understand how a refusal of newly freed men to allow their women the same freedoms can be justifiable.
There are many profound things touched upon in this book: the destructive, alienating nature of slavery; the futility of just giving people freedom when they never dared to want it and never fully understood it; that freedom begins with sexual freedom, a freedom within our bodies; the wrongness of simply bringing one's ideas of liberty to force upon people without understanding the people's culture, no matter how right and humane these ideas are. I think Le Guin articulates the last argument very well in this quote:
"You can't change anything from the outside in. Standing apart, looking down, talking the overview, you see pattern. What's wrong, what's missing. You want to fix it. But you can't patch it. You have to be in it, weaving it. You have to be part of the weaving."
Truly, there are so many things that I loved about these 4 stories, I can't quite express it. Le Guin brings often under-appreciated genre of science fiction to a whole new level. I am in awe of her talent....more
In all honesty, the basic premise of this novella is the one I've read/seen many times before both in fiction (the latest version is James Cameron's "In all honesty, the basic premise of this novella is the one I've read/seen many times before both in fiction (the latest version is James Cameron's "Avatar") and reality.
A group of evil and greedy Terrans is in a process of colonizing a new planet - Athshe. What it means, as you can guess, is that Terrans destroy Athshe's ecosystem by cutting down the planet's forests and sending wood to their mother planet Earth (which by this time is nothing but a barren desert) and enslave and abuse the native people who they consider to be imbecilic animals but choose to rape their females anyway. What's more is that through their heinous actions, Terrans affect the psyche of the whole planet's population, forcing the people to react to the invaders' atrocities in a way that is foreign to their inherently non-violent nature.
But of course, Ursula K. Le Guin, a great writer that she is, creates a completely unique and meaningful tale using this age-old story. As always, her world-building is impeccable. I am always amazed at how imaginative Le Guin is - there is no stone unturned, she creates an entirely original system of culture, social order, ecology, physiology, language, and thought process. The result is a remarkable work of science fiction firmly grounded in brutal reality of our past and present. ...more
**spoiler alert** I am always reluctant to read books about kidnappings and captivity. The y can get too emotionally manipulative. Too often such book**spoiler alert** I am always reluctant to read books about kidnappings and captivity. The y can get too emotionally manipulative. Too often such books become almost unbearably violent (memories of Living Dead Girl and Tender Morsels still make my skin crawl) or unrealistically light and a tad misguided (I am in a minority in my assessment of Stolen: A letter to my captor, but I do think the setup of this book is far from reality). But Room gets and portrays such an experience just right IMO. I guess this is why it snagged a Booker nomination.
Of course, the personal story of a 19-year old girl kidnapped and held captive for 7 years in a confined space of 11 by 11 ft, is horrifying. But it is told from a POV of her 5-year old son Jack who is sheltered to the extreme, even from the captor, and whose childhood had been practically idyllic. Jack's life in Room is full of adventure, games, play, and studying, and, most importantly, great times with his loving Ma. He doesn't comprehend the horror his Ma has to live through, he doesn't know why he has to sit in the closet and count while Old Nick comes over to "jump on Bed," he doesn't understand why his Ma would ever want to leave their Room. But we do.
Jack's perspective is definitely the most unique aspect of the novel. The topic of kidnappings is in vogue right now in literature (And no wonder, just google the words "kidnapping" and "captivity." These are the kind of atrocities that come up:
so it is pretty hard to create a work of fiction that will distinguish itself among others on the subject. But Jack's "voice," with his unawareness of the outside world, inability to understand that this world is not limited to 11x11 sq. ft, space, and lack of social interaction with anyone but his mother, is a wonder and the strongest point of this book.
Another important issue Room touches upon is what happens after the escape. The escape is only the beginning of the journey to recovery, if such a recovery is at all possible.
Room is undoubtedly a hard book to read, and yet it is at the same time a hopeful story, a story about unwavering love between a child and a mother, and about new beginnings.
As for the Room's chances of winning Booker, they are pretty slim IMO. I don't think it well qualifies as literary fiction. Good popular fiction - yes. The subject matter is just too commercial and worn out to create any significant literary impact.
This an interesting essay by Emma Donoghue about the research she did for the novel