“Let's not forget The Things They Do To Make Themselves Happy That Actually Make Them Miserable. This is an infinite list. It includes - shopping, watching TV, taking the better job, getting the bigger house, writing a semi-autobiographical novel, educating their young, making their skin look mildly less old and harboring a vague desire to believe there might be a meaning to it all.”
If I was into highlighting my fiction books this WHOLE book would be highlighted. So much good stuff in it. It's really quite unfair that Matt Haig alone has gotten all of the world's wisdom, but at least he's sharing it with us, so that's good. Also, to clarify, I only rated this 4 and not 5 stars because there were some musings I didn't agree with, but for the most part I loved everything about this novel.
The Humans is not a book that should be read for the plot. Yes, it's sci-fi, but it's not anything new, or groundbreaking, the plot is very recyclable and very, very predictable. The Humans is a book that should be read for its soul, for its wisdom and for the beauty that it finds in the mundane. Mundane meaning us - humans. And our meagre lives.
"But know this. Men are not from Mars. Women are not from Venus. Do not fall for categories. Everyone is everything. Every ingredient inside a star is inside you, and every personality that ever existed competes in the theatre of your mind for the main role."
“Maybe that is what beauty was, for humans. Accidents, imperfections, placed inside a pretty pattern. Asymmetry. The defiance of mathematics.”
I realize that my review will consist mostly of quotes, but honestly with a book like this - it speaks for itself. I am merely a spectator, who was lucky enough to experience the masterpiece of this. And the beauty of this book is in how it unfolds itself.
An unnamed alien comes to earth to take a place of a mathematician who solved a theorem that would have sped up the technological progress on earth to unfathomable levels, and aliens know that humans can't handle it, so they sent one of their own to exterminate the knowledge. The alien is repulsed by humans - he thinks us primitive, disgusting, and just backwards really. Are you offended yet? Because funnily enough, I agreed with every little thing he said about humans and all of our flaws. We, as species are truly horrible, and I finally have a book that wholeheartedly agrees with me. Feels good.
“Human life, I realized, got progressively worse as you got older, by the sound of things. You arrived, with baby feet and hands and infinite happiness, and then the happiness slowly evaporated as your feet and hands grew bigger. And then, from the teenage years onward, happiness was something you could lose your grip of, and once it started to slip, it gained mass. It was as if the knowledge that it could slip was the thing that made it more difficult to hold, no matter how big your feet and hands were.”
But, as flawed as we are, there is something to us. And the alien goes on discovering what is it that makes humans so irresistible. Despite our feebleness, our single mindlessness and all our erroneous ways - humanity is real, it's raw, and it's painfully beautiful. I'm still not changing my opinions - I agree with alien's initial overview of human race, but I also agree that there's good in us, there's light and there's beauty - and all of that - the good and the bad is what makes us - the humans.
The writing is superb, the humor is contagious - I highly recommend this, even to those who do not read sci-fi. This books is so much more than that.
“The tea seemed to be making things better. It was a hot drink made of leaves, used in times of crisis as a means of restoring normality.”
You know that saying - one man's garbage another man's treasure? Same here. Take these with a grain of salt. Or two (as I tend to hate books everybody else loves).
I'm going in chronological order even, I feel so proper.
1. The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson
What. A Brandon Sanderson's book in this list? Am I mistaken? Have I lost my mind?
Just because he's my favorite author, it doesn't mean that I can't be objective. And I am all objectiveness, really.
I just really didn't like this 6th book (or second 3rd depending how you count them).
It was a mess. I didn't hated it, I was just so disappointed in it - and thus it makes this list. Please don't disappoint me like that again, sir, okay?
I really don't have much to say about this book, except - BORING.
So, so boring.
Like, wake me up when this is over boring.
I'm not hating, I really just was so bored, how is this book a winner of anything I don't know. The only thing more boring than this book is probably this paragraph I just wrote.
3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Creekwood #1)by Becky Albertalli
DNF on page 80 and 1 star
Oh yeah. This book.
You know, just because the book is diverse - it doesn't mean that it can't be garbage.
But try calling this book garbage on Goodreads - you will get crucified. Probably.
The writing is awful. The representation is one sided. The jokes are racist. Life is easier for lesbians apparently. Tumbrl is mentioned on every other page. This book is a mess.
Read Aristotle and Dante instead, much, much better. <3
4. Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović
DNF on page 215 and 1.5/5 stars
I read 5 pages of it and the only word that kept running through my mind was - pretentious, pretentious, pretentious.
It felt like the author just really liked using her dictionary - trying to fit as many descriptions and adjectives into one page as possible.
The main character, Iris is a bitchy bitch for no apparent reason. She's "breathtakingly beautiful, but she herself doesn't think so." NO, thank you!
All of the characters had as much dimension as a sheet of paper.
I was bored.
The plot? I don't know if there was a plot, but apparently I never got to it. And I generously gave up after 215 pages.
5. Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner
I enjoyed reading this book, but I didn't particularly like it at all( if that makes any sense). And to be honest the more I think about it the more things I find to dislike.
I honestly think that when parents who have down syndrome child (or any other mental disability) read this book would be offended by the tone of the storytelling. I certainly was - and I don't even have kids.
The ending was the worst part. First of all it was very predictable. Second of all, it was just so messed up.
6. The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Suzannah Dunn
DNF and 1/5 stars
Look for the nearest dumpster because this is garbage! Trash. Total trash.
I'm rude and I'm not even sorry. How this book ever got published I have absolutely no idea.
Normally, I have the rule if I don't reach the 100 page mark, I don't rate the book, but in this case I am more than happy to make an exception and give this 1 star (even though it doesn't even deserve that).
This reads like a trashy romance fanfic (minus the actual romance). The author obviously has no idea how people of that era spoke, so it's full of modern slang and curse words.
Anne Boleyn's favorite word is apparently "damn".
King Henry has words such as "skedaddle" in his vocabulary.
Anne's cousin just tells her to "f@ck off" and so on.
7. A Different Blue by Amy Harmon
Man, I hate this cover.
First off, the writing - the first 100 pages of the book are completely horrendous. It felt like somebody completely different wrote it. Normally Harmon's writing is lyrical and beautiful, and inspiring. This felt like something I'd read on a WatPad (which there is nothing wrong with, it's just not what I expected). A Different Blue was full of "he threw his hands up into the air", "he ran his hands through his locks", "I clipped", "growled", "sashayed to him" and more, - very cringe-y.
The book seemed to have no plot, or maybe too many plots - I honestly am not sure. So many things were happening, but then they all just ended up going nowhere.
I love Amy Harmon, but this was a huge miss for me. Or a mess - same thing.
8. The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg
"What in the world did I just read" - sums up this book very well. At least for me. Aside from giving it a low rating I actually do not think that this is a bad book, I think that this is a brilliant book - for the right audience.
I like a little ambiguity here and there, but The Third Hotel is ambiguous on top of ambiguous - and at that point what is the story even? When the author leaves too much to reader's interpretation the story telling ceases to be, it looses its direction and it loses its own voice.
Everything would be made okay if the ending at least gave us something, but it doesn't. I finished the book, but I feel like I haven't, I still have so many questions and absolutely no answers. Sure, that is the point of this type of writing, but to be honest I'd rather have hard, but set in stone truths than delirious musings that go nowhere.
9. The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) by Emily R. King
I have so many questions.
- Why didn't anybody tell me how bad this was?
- Why did I fall for the pretty cover yet again?
- Why didn't I DNF'd it?
- Why YA fantasy isn't really fantasy at all?
- Why did I spend $2 on it?
I do have to say that this had tons of potential. Tons! But sadly it was all wasted away. Partly because of the super Insta-romance, and partly because of the very detached writing.
“You couldn't erase the past. You couldn't even change it. But sometimes life offered you the opportunity to put it right.”
I do not like young adult books much anymore, especially contemporary young adult, and especially young adult contemporary coming of age stories with romance (whew, that was a mouthful). And The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants series is all of those things. And somehow I really enjoy it. Girls in Pants is the 3rd book in the series, and so far my favorite one. I lost some faith in the book 2 (I didn't like it much), but book 3 came back and definitely brought it home for me.
“She was still waiting for him to come back to her, even though he wasn't going to. She was still holding out for something that wasn't going to happen. She was good at waiting. That seemed like a sad thing to be good at.”
If I was a teenager reading these books right now - they would be my holy grail of books. I can say that with a 100 percent certainty. But as I am not a teenager anymore, I just appreciate these books for what they are - a really good, proper young adult coming of age story. Young Adult genre, while skyrocketing in popularity over the last couple of years, definitely went downhill in quality of its content. A lot of ya contemporaries are very mainstream, "hip" (or whatever they are trying to be) and just not generally good (in my humble opinion).
The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants is a classic of coming of age stories - it's relatable, it's real and it's very raw. Nobody in these books is perfect - adults or teens - both are flawed, both are guilty of doing wrong things. And I really love that. Nowadays it's teens vs parents, or parents are very often absent (I guess we have Disney to thank for a trend of "poor unfortunate orphans" that always somehow save the day.
“Why does he have to be my boyfriend? Are you inferior if you don't have a boyfriend? Why does everybody have to be in love with somebody?”
Girls in Pants is far from perfect, not just character wise, but plot wise too. I admit that it is too easy, too convenient, too happy even. But I (ever the critic of cliches and tropes) somehow am okay with it. There was plenty of heavy emotions to offset the cheesy- it was a pretty good balance. Being on a third book in this journey my only fear right now is for the series not to become horrible with the last books, because oh that is definitely a possibility. But, fingers crossed.
I always try to say who was my favorite in each book, and I always gravitate towards Lena - I just really love her. And her story arc in this book was so, so good. And happy to say that I finally didn't hate Carmen or Tibby - both definitely evaluated themselves as characters in my eyes. Bee is always a solid number 2 for me, I love Bee.
“Sometimes when she thought of Eric, and now more powerfully when she saw him, she felt some achy nostalgia for her old self. For the dauntless, daring soul she used to be. There were certain qualities you possessed carelessly. And you couldn't retrieve them when they were gone.”
So I was in the mood for something thrilling, suspenseful and fast paced. Obviously, from my low rating you can tell that I got none of those things from this book. That is unfortunate, because despite never reading anything by this author I was excited for this book. It's the cover probably (I am always a victim of pretty or intriguing covers).
The premise was interesting enough, but as I started reading, and reading and reading... I really couldn't tell what the point of this book was. There was little to no plot development and I got to 41 percent, so I feel like I gave this book all of the chances I could.
The backstories of characters weren't interesting, because they were very generic - and they didn't really bring much depth to the story, but then again the whole thing lacked altogether, so depth was of my least concerns here. If I had to describe this novel in one word, I' say 'disjointed'. There were lots of bits and pieces, and I could see how they were supposed to fit, but they just didn't. And as it is the end of the year, I do not have the patience to read books that don't grab me a 100%.
The writing itself was probably the worst part - the dialog was so common, that it felt like it was taken straight up from the "dialog for dummies book" or something. The descriptions were dry and generic, and even silly sounding at times. I found myself rolling my eyes multiple times a page, and that's when I knew I needed to stop.
I also find it's funny how I don't have much to say in this review - just as the book didn't do much in those 41% for me - Daughters of the Lake literally left zero impressions on me
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
This is up to date the most depressing book I've ever read. I knew Hannah Kent was going to be bleak, but a new word needs to be invented for darkness that is this book. I am drained, absolutely drained. And unfortunately not in a good way.
I found Hannah Kent when her debut The Burial Rites caught my eye - and I absolutely loved that book. Burial Rites was bleak, but beautiful. Entrancing, engulfing and all consuming. The Good People was repulsive and heavy in the blackest of ways. Both are brilliant for sure, but I cannot say that I enjoyed this one - I see what Kent did here and I applaud her, but I will never be re-reading this.
“The world isn’t ours,’ he said once. ‘It belongs to itself, and that is why it is beautiful.”
For starters, this book wasn't what I thought it was going to be at all. From the title (and knowing the style of the author) I thought it was going to be a story about people, maybe a small village, coming together and doing something good against all odds. A story that would redeem humanity somehow. This is like the opposite of that. If you don't already think that we, as species, are absolutely selfish and horrible, wait till you read this. I honestly did not have enough hate in me to spread it around everybody I hated in this book. Which is EVERYBODY, except literally one person. The title really feels like an inside joke after you're done with the book. Or the book is done with you, more accurately.
Irish folklore is also not something I've ever been interested in, so that also put a damp on my reading experience because I didn't care about the surroundings as much as I wanted to. Also, I never knew just how dark the folklore is, but then this wasn't just some stories by the fire that children are told, this was pagan rituals and curses and everything in between.
But even the vilest of rituals pale in comparison to just how horrible people can be. People who find reason in superstitions as long as they explain things the way that suits them. The blind superstitions was the driving force of this book - how people always need somebody or something to blame their misfortunes on. How one can justify their vile feelings with some folklore tale, how suspicion turns people against each other and how the good ones are never rewarded, because nothing in life is ever fair.
The simplemindedness and ignorance in this book is blinding - this is somehow darker than the dark ages. The things one can do if one believes in something, especially when that belief is not only wrong, but evil, is horrifying. The book does a spectacular job exploring human psyche, even if it goes into places that I never wanted to see.
The writing was superior, there is no doubt in that. Hannah Kent transports the reader completely - and this wasn't a good place to be transported to. I found myself shaking with cold, or most likely anger, many times whilst reading. But the pace and the driving of the plot has left more to be desired. A lot of things were repetitive and everything just snail paced, and the ending didn't bring the conclusiveness that I desired.
“That was a tall order for Ivy. Sarcasm was kind of her native tongue, though she was fluent in “stern disappointment” and “light condescension” as well. She was also a good friend. Well, imaginary friend.”
In the past I've been saying in error that I do not like to read sci-fi books. I only recently found out that I was terribly wrong, and I also found out why I was wrong. When I think of sci-fi - books set in space come to mind immediately (for some reason) and I am not a big fan of those. Apparently my brain refused to acknowledge that there are tons of other science fiction books, that don't involve space and aliens and all of that - and they are so good!
Legion by Brandon Sanderson is a prime example of a sci-fi book that I enjoy. Well, technically it's 3 novellas re-realed as one book edition, and what an amazing edition it is! I honestly think that reading these 3 stories one after another is the true way to enjoy them - they are way too short to be spaced out. I know that the length of these novellas is often the thing that people complain about the most - they are really short, especially first novella (it's barely 80 pages), but I found them to be just the perfect size.
“I can’t let you make changes until I authenticate, sir,” the man said in the neutral, patient voice of one accustomed to talking on the phone all day to people who deserved to be strangled.”
It really takes a skill to craft a story in so few pages, and like the Arthur C. Doyle had that skill with his splendid Sherlock Holmes short stories, Brandon Sanderson too possesses and wields it quite effectively. I thought this when I read The Emperor's Soul for the first time, but Legion definitely solidified that opinion of mine.
The pacing is great - I was glued to the pages and did not want to leave Steven even for few minutes. Steven is the main character, and a pretty great one at that. The interactions between the characters are priceless, the humor is great and as usual Sanderson has hidden many great life lessons in there as well. It's really astonishing how these small stories can pack such a great punch.
And a punch it is - at the end of the journey I was sobbing, so if that isn't a sign of a great book I don't know what is. It's really hard to review this without spoiling anything, because of how short stories are, so I will just say this. Read the book - get the 3 in 1 edition one. enjoy the Rorschach test images of the pages that add to the story. Read the author's note. Cry.
“Who cares?” I said. “Yes, it’s all in my head. But pain is ‘all in my head’ too. Love is ‘all in my head.’ All the things that matter in life are the things you can’t measure! The things our brains make up! Being made-up doesn’t make them unimportant.”
I was quite excited about this one. Mainly because I'm a big Friends fan - when I say I watched the TV show 20 times, I really mean 20 times. At least. Although every time I re-watch it I find something else that's problematic which I haven't noticed the first time. Which is totally fine, because the times back then and right now were so, so different. I also felt like reading some non-fiction so this was perfect timing.
So why such low rating?
Because this book really didn't bring anything new to the table. Which is so, so disappointing. I wanted to find things that I've never heard of before, I wanted more insight on episodes, on actors themselves, maybe even some piece of juicy gossip. Instead, literally 80% of everything in this book can be found on Pinterest and Instagram 'fact' posts about Friends.
Things like 'the part of Ross Geller was written specifically for David', 'or Matt Le Blanc was really poor before landing this role', ' or the show was supposed to be named "Insomnia Cafe". Like, yeah I KNOW, what else is new??
The rest of the book wasn't much better - the beginning was so slow and boring I almost gave it up completely. First of all, most of it reads like a page from Wikipea, but maybe with a little bit of soul. Second, there was a lot of useless information about other shows of that time - most of which I've never heard off. Sure, you have to tell the story of how the Crane/Kauffman/Bright production came to be, but did you have to drag it out so long?
That is honestly my biggest complain - the book reads as if it only was written for people who grew up with the show, who watched the episodes as they came out. People like me, who started watching Friends only when Netflix acquired them, weren't really taken into consideration at all. Such a missed opportunity.
The book also went on exploring issues of racism, lgbt+ rights and sexual harassment associated with the show itself, or with the Hollywood, but I don't think it did a very good job on that. The thoughts didn't seem original or organic - they all were things said brother people. I honestly feel like the author didn't do much herself at all, except collect the information and type it all together.
I especially didn't agree with points of view that stated Carol and Susan's wedding was 'too straight' because they both wore dresses and because it all was so traditional. It says that they didn't want to be too cliche with it, which I agree with, but then it contradicts itself and says that they straight washed it all to be safe. Maybe they did, but with openly gay producer I'm pretty sure they knew what they were doing.
The book also seems to focus on the fact that 'Friends' were indeed friends. It repeats that statement at least once in every chapter. They were friends, they really were close, yes they were friends - which made me think 'maybe they really weren't?' Otherwise why repeat it so many damn times? Unless it's just bad, repetitive writing - which, I mean it was.
Big thanks to HARLEQUIN - Trade Publishing (US and Canada), Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for a digital copy of this book. all opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
“Tremble and fear, all enemies!” he shouted. “For we shall shake the air with thunder and blood! Your doom is imminent!”
Let's talk about this gorgeous cover. Gorgeous, but very misleading. Because from the cover it looks like a main character might be, ohh I don't know a 25 year old woman, while in reality Spensa is a 17 year old who acts as if she were 12 most of the time. The whole book is very juvenile, really. In fact it reads more juvenile than The Rithmatist did, so while this is marketed as young adult it's definitely more on par with books like Percy Jackson. Which there is nothing wrong with, I just prefer Brandon Sanderson's adult novels.
“You get to choose who you are. Legacy, memories of the past, can serve us well. But we cannot let them define us. When heritage becomes a box instead of an inspiration, it has gone too far.”
Before I go on any further I must say that the whole time I was reading Skyward I was thinking of Ender's Game. The atmosphere, the issues, the fleet of adolescents training to be deadly pilots, adults who think they know what they are doing but really don't - it's all really, really similar. I'm not complaining as both are great, but I am a bit let down by this. I was just expecting a whole lot more here. To me this book, while great in its own way, feels like a very watered down version of what Sanderson can actually do. Also for some reason I thought this was a stand alone?? Jokes on me, I know.
“I’d be offended if I could be offended,” he said. “Maybe I should start calling you a cow, since you have four limbs, are made of meat, and have rudimentary biological mental capacities.”
Spensa is not the easiest mc to like, but it's really not her fault. It's the way she was raised, it's the way the society around her thinks and operates. Spensa is forever branded as a daughter of a coward, and thus her only goal is to prove that her father wasn't a coward, and that she isn't going to turn into one either. Cowardice and bravery are basically the only things on Spensa's mind, obviously after her thirst to be a pilot, and the way she sees everything in black and white can get really annoying something. At some points I just wanted to pick her up and shake all of those stupid beliefs from her head.
The culture in which Spensa grew up has taught her that bravery is good and that all those who aren't brave are cowards. She lives by these words, often imagining herself as a nightly and brave warrior lurching for battle - and yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds. For a good half of the book it's really hard to take Spensa seriously at all. She does grow in her character and starts to question the world and her beliefs, eventually. It just takes her painfully long.
The side characters are nicely flushed out, Kimmalyn being definitely my favorite, bless her stars. But nobody is as hilarious as M-Bot is, Sanderson has an uncanny ability to create funny and sarcastic sidekicks. And one in this book is no exception. FM was a pretty good character too, I loved her quiet rebellion. And she definitely had one of the best lines in the whole book.
“Just because I want change doesn’t mean I’ll let the Krell destroy us all. But do you realize what it’s doing to our society to train our children, practically from birth, to idealize and glorify fighting? To worship the First Citizens like saints? We should be teaching our children to be more caring, more inquisitive—not only to destroy, but to build.”
The pacing was good, the plot, while not original in the least was still very engaging, and dialog obviously is superb as it usually is with Sanderson. But for me Skyward lacked something - a spark, a twist. I don't know, but it was definitely too smooth and too easy. I'm hoping book 2 whenever that comes out (the draft is 100% finished for it I just checked) brings out the big guns!
“They looked like two children," she told me. And that thought frightened her, because she'd always felt that only children are capable of everything.”
I'm not the one who reads a lot of literary fiction, I dabble here and there, but it's still not much. So, yesterday when I finished this book - I wanted to give it 2 stars because all I could think was "I have no idea whatI just read". But, as the hours wore on and I thought about it more and more I've come to realize that it is actually quite brilliant.
The book is very short, only a 120 pages, so I hoped to read it in a day, but that didn't happen. Because with Chronicle of a death foretold it's more about what's not being said than what is on the page. You have to look between the lines to find so much more meaning. The book itself is just one big allegory, but of what I won't tell because it is honestly up to the reader to decide.
“He was healthier than the rest of us, but when you listened with the stethoscope you could hear the tears bubbling inside his heart.”
I'm going to try and dissect the book a little bit here, so if you haven't read it yet and want to form your own opinions first - do not read past this.
When the whole town hears that Santiago Sazar will be murdered and does nothing to prevent it - it's like the whole town murdered him. And that's what the book really wants to stress across - the one single conscience of the whole town comprised of individual opinions and feelings. Did Santiago deserve to die? Who knows. But he was murdered because his name was spoken in a very wrong time. Now this is when things get political.
Angela, when asked who dishonored her, answers - Santiago Nazar and since the moment his name left her lips he was a dead man walking. The reader believes he did it, the whole town believes he did it. But as the book progresses we start to have doubts - why did we believe Angela so quickly? Because Santiago is a man? Because she said so? Then we start feeling guilty because now it seems that maybe an innocent man will die, all because we didn't check for facts, because we wanted to see justice done. But will there be any justice? In the eyes of Angela's brothers - sure. For them this is not as much about Angela's honor as it is about proving that they are real men.
Masculinity subject is so twisted in here - we condemn a man without questions because he's a man. A fiancé of one of the brothers (who did the killing) says that she wouldn't marry him if he didn't kill Santiago for his sister's honor because that wouldn't be manly. And the scariest things is that everybody thinks they are doing a good thing. A right thing. Because murder for honor is not murder at all. Unless the man is innocent.
As the book races to its gruesome and very macabre finish, one part was especially twisted - Santiago dies because his own mother locked the door in front of him. Not on purpose - which makes it even sadder.
Was Angela trustworthy? A lot of things we learn about her towards the end of the book definitely point in "no" direction. If anything, she turned out to be sex crazed woman who eventually lost her mind. Was Santiago guilty? He wasn't a nice person for sure, but did he deserve to die? Signs point to him being "crucified without questions" by the whole town because of the mob mentality. Did the brothers have any right to avenge their sister's honor with death? In their eyes they did - but in yours?
Wow this book is underrated. I found it in a corner of a used bookstore and just couldn't pass it up because of the cover of it. It's so unique and colorful and just so pretty.
“His small compliments and offhand remarks formed a new scripture, and in breathless conversations and lonely, dream-drunk nights they built whole theologies from them.”
I'm happy I dived right into this book without looking it up on Goodreads first (because sometimes that can definitely spoil the fun). I was surprised to see such low average rating (3.47), and I am happy to be in minority of people who truly loved this book. Minority is usual where I like to be when books are concerned.
I'm not a fan of magical realism at all, and I am not sure this book was magical realism, but it definitely had aspects of it. So, in conclusion, I have no idea what I just read, but I know that I really, really enjoyed it.
“I am going blind,” she had blurted to her mother, in the welcome dimness of the family coach, her eyes still bright with tears from the searing winter sun. By this time, her peripheral vision was already gone. Carolina could feel her mother take her hand, but she had to turn to see her face. When she did, her mother kissed her, her own eyes full of pity. I have been in love, too,” she said, and looked away.”
Besides not liking magical realism I also am not a fan of affair stories (usually that is). But somehow all of the stars have aligned and this story just spoke to me and I ended up loving every part of it. I do wish the ending was more concrete though, but honestly that is the only complaint.
I am going to say that this book is not for everyone (as evident by the low ratings), but when the correct person finds it - the sparks fly. The only time I remember feeling this elevated about a book was when I read The Night Circus and The Girl who Drank the Moon - all of these books are so very different, but all of them make the reader FEEL the book. Somehow these books engage all of the sense and you can smell, touch and experience the book almost in dimensional perception. Magic? I think so.
Now I know I sound like I'm gushing, but don't get me wrong - the book isn't perfect. It's far from it, but somehow in that imperfection it's ... perfect. The Blind contessa's New Machine made me want to appreciate every little detail. It made me touch the bark of trees, to feel the carpet with my toes, to sit with my eyes closed and juts breathe. And those little experiences to me are priceless. I spend my life hunting for books that make me feel like this.
The writing style was also one of my favorite things in this book - it wasn't wordy at all. It's more about what the book wasn't saying than what it was actually saying. It's about the things that lurk in the dark, the things about which we prefer not to talk, the things we do when the night comes and we don't think anybody would find out. But despite of that shortness, all of the descriptions were absolutely luscious and mesmerizingly real.
“The past and the present are within my field of inquiry, but what a man may do in the future is a hard question to answer."
When I say that I read every Sherlock Holmes story at least 5 times, I mean that I really read every story at least 5 times! It's not a figure of speech. when I was in my early teens I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes - the books that is (the very famous BBC tv-show wouldn't come out for at least 10 years). Yes, I'm old.
My old copy of the book looks like it's been through wart's so extremely battered. I would start from page one and once I finished I'd go back and start re-reading immediately. And then again. There really was a time in my life when I didn't read anything else, just Sherlock Holmes.
So it was very nice to revisit the world again now, after I've read so many different genres in the past few years. And it was just as good.
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
The hound of Baskervilles is a timeless story, and no matter how many times I read it - I still feel the atmosphere of fear it supposed to bring onto a reader. But the past part of this story is not necessarily the mystery - it's the character interactions that we see. Sherlock is at his peak of being a gentleman asshole for sure. He's sarcastic and pompous and the way it rubs other people wrong is hilarious. I've never been a fan of Watson's really, so when he falls for one of Sherlock's jokes is always a good time for me.
The writing is flawless, the pacing is perfect and dialog is sharp and witty. But then, would you expect anything less?
“There's a light in a woman's eyes that speaks louder than words.”
It took me 9 days to read this book. And it's only 390 pages. Sure, I have been quite busy lately, but it's mostly due to me putting this book down and not really wanting to pick it back up.
That said, this isn't a bad book. This is just very slow and tedious first book in the series. I'm sure things get going in book 2, but man book one is a drag, if I were to speak frankly (I always do, so I don't know why I'm being so proper).
“When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.”
To sum this best, would be to say that this book is quite a paradox: it's slow and boring, but it's also very good and interesting? Not things that co-exists usually, but it is what it is. And it's not like the book is overly descriptive, no, there are so many things that the reader doesn't get answers or explanations to, it's actually kind of insane. The whole time reading this I felt left out, as if the author knows things and I don't. As if the whole book is a joke that I'm not on.
“When you spring to an idea, and decide it is truth, without evidence, you blind yourself to other possibilities.”
With all of that negativity aside, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely continue, just not this year. I originally planned to read the first trilogy by the end of the 2018, but that's not going to happen. The first book is the smallest one, and it was so dense and, like I mentioned, quite boring - I don't feel like ending a year with those books. I will wait till 2019 instead.
Also, I have to mention that I was prepared for this book to be slow, and tedious because I read a couple of reviews prior to reading it (no spoilers of course), but still I was surprised by just how slow it was. The name, Assassin's Apprentice throws you off too, big time. It sounds badass, and action-y and all of that. Well, it's not. At all, so if you are to read this book throw all of those notions from your head.
I loved the writing though. Well, let me rephrase. I loved the way it was written, but I didn't like the way the story was told. I make total sense, right? The storytelling is very passive - things happen to characters, but they are told in a way that is not affecting the reader at all. At least didn't affect me. It's very dry, and removed way of telling things and I do not like it. I want feelings!! Think of Lord of the Rings way of telling (if you are a fan of LOTR - you cry, if you aren't - you are bored). Same here, really.
“My silences he mistook for a lack of wit rather than a lack of any need to speak.”
This book however, has a lot of wisdom in it. Wisdom about people - how we see each other, how we treat and label each other. How we treat those inferior to us, how we treat animals. The animal bonds in this book were absolutely precious, but also very sad. I loved and hated how all of those issues the book talks about are still very much prevalent in our modern culture. Did we really evolve from our crude medieval mindset, or did we get worse? Watch the news and the answer is clear.
“It was inside me. The more I sought it, the stronger it grew. It loved me. Loved me even if I couldn't, wouldn't, didn't love myself. Love me even if I hated. It set its tiny teeth in my soul and braced and held so that I couldn't crawl any further. And when I tried, a howl of despair burst from it, searing me, forbidding me to break so sacred trust."
A lot of the plot in the book revolves around politics, which I really enjoyed, but I also wish that more was done, more was revealed, just - more. Hopefully book 2 will answer my questions, whenever I get to it.
My review is all backwards, but this book also made me realize that I prefer fantasy books when the reader is thrown into the midst of action, instead of slowly building up to it, telling backstories and whatever else. I like to be swept off my feet, and this book unfortunately didn't do that. It maybe nudged me a bit, but that's all.
DNF at 33 %
So not the rating I thought I was going to be giving this book, I was pretty sure that this would have been a 5 star, boy was I wrong. Gorgeous cover though, so that's something.
To start off, I'm not giving this 1 star, despite having dnf-d it, because I only save 1 stars for books I really did not like. And I just didn't care for Iron Flower, it's not a bad book, but it isn't a book for me, unfortunately. The Black Witch was though, so I honestly have no idea how the book went from that to this...
So, let me summarize this book for you:
"Oh Yvan! Oh Lucas! Oh Yvan! Let me make out with Lucas. But Yvan is so beautiful! But I can't have him. Oh Lucas! blah blah blerhhh!!"
In other words, ya fantasy is dead because ya romance has killed it. RIP. The entirety of 33 percent of the book that I read was filled with Elloren wishing she was with Yvan, Elloren thinking that Yvan is beautiful, Yvan glaring at Elloren with passion, Elloren making out with Lucas, Elloren thinking how she can't have Yvan.... You got the idea. If romance overload and love triangle tropes are your jam, you will love this book. Me? I loathe those things.
For a book that's 608 pages long 33 percent is not little, so for nothing to happen in those 33 percent is really mind boggling. That's why I just had to give up reading - I couldn't care less about the romance, or Elloren as a main character, and with plot going absolutely nowhere and telling us nothing new, even Diana (what little of her was there) couldn't save this book for me.
Which is really sad because I was so sure that I'd have loved this. So what happened? The Black Witch (despite rising a storm of stupid controversy) was a wonderful and engaging book. Sure, the romance was still there but other things more than made up for it. I read Black Witch in 1 day! That's 608 pages in 24 hours people, and it isn't a small feat.
The Black Witch had a story - it was a beginning, a new chapter in life for Elloren - she was sheltered, she was naive, she was bullied and she had to go out there and find her truth. And she did, and it was beautiful. The Iron Flower focused more on which character was in love with which character, what material her dress was made of and how many times can Yvan stare at her without Elloren bursting into flames. There was very little substance, unfortunately, in it for me.
The writing also got very repetitive - there was a lot of "shivering", "glaring", "drawing a breath" and in general the descriptions were over explained an drawn out. The ending of The Black Witch had a huge cast of characters and they were all present almost immediately here without any throwbacks really, so it was hard to remember who was who at first. I'm sure the book gets better, and some things do happen eventually, I just don't have any patience to wait around for that.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for providing me with a digital arc of the book. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
How much of a good thing is too much? Five books? Nine books? How about sixteen books? White Night was a book nine and unless something ground breaking happens I don't think I will make it to book 16 (there's more coming after that too I'm sure).
This was everything that a good Dresden Files novel should be: witty, non-stop action with some sexual tension and hilarious remarks. But I still felt a little bit bored. Maybe because we already met the villain in the previous book. Maybe because the concept seemed really cool, but then everything kind of got turned around 360 degrees and I just wasn't into it? I don't know, this wasn't bad, but it wasn't particularly great either. Especially in the middle - things dragged quite a bit, despite the never ending action (I don't even know how's that possible).
But, once again the ending was amazing and I will be definitely picking up number 10, just maybe not too soon. This is definitely not a series you can binge, it does get quite repetitive. You want to stretch them out and savor every book a good time apart from one another. Don't worry about forgetting stuff - Butcher is great about catching the reader up (one of the best really).
What I love most about Dresden Files, besides the hilariousness that is Harry, is how relatable and real the books are. I think the crazy attention to details largely contributes to that. I love how Butcher never forgets that Mouse is a living, breathing, pooping dog and not just a super hero side kick. I love that Harry gets cranky and tired, and he sleeps and eats like a normal functioning human. In too many books main characters are portrayed as those "super warrior machines that only keep fighting for justice, or whatever". Harry is real and I think that's the beauty of it. Also, he can make fun of himself and it's hilarious and I just love it.
I also especially adore Harry and Thomas's relationship - those two give me life. I really need more of their interaction in every book. Even Bob the Skull is a fantastic and well rounded character.
I did think that there was going to be more of Molly in this book, but I guess after being the main distorter in previous book she kind of took a step back - which is fine, I'm not particularly fond of Molly. I liked how Elaine was brought back, but also thought that there was nearly not enough of hermit all. Also, I never really liked suzan, so can we just stop mentioning her? Plus, there hasn't been a sex scene in at least two previous books, Butcher are you okay? I'm worried over here. haha.
Despite being a tad bored with this one I still think that these series is a great fun and I love most of these characters dearly. Especially Mouse and Thomas *heart eyes* , he got me under his vampiric charm.
Enjoyed the diversity - hated pretty much everything else.
I'm going to tell myself that this is the last time I'm reading hyped book that everybody absolutely loved, but we all know it isn't true and I will never learn.
I bought the book because of the raving reviews and then it just kinda sat on my shelf for a couple of weeks, because I had an inkling that I wasn't going to like it. And look, I was correct. At least I know myself.
Main reason for me suspecting from the bat that I won't like this was the setting - I can't think of something I care less about than Hollywood (old Hollywood in this case). That's just not my thing. And while my opinion about the "stars" who would do anything (and I mean anything) just to get a little bit of spotlight was already very low, this book lowered it even more.
It's been a couple of days since I've read this, so my feelings aren't as angry as they were right after I finished it - so maybe this review won't be a disaster after all. But what used to be a very coherent and informative review in my head is now merely a half remembered ramble.
I guess saying that everybody in this book is a horrible human being is a good place to start as any. Except Harry and Monique's mother. Everybody else is honestly barely a human, they are quite the monsters. Starting obviously with Evelyn herself. I'm thinking that the idea of this book was to show that even people like Evelyn are real, raw and as vulnerable as anybody else. I think. Because I did not get that. If I was supposed to feel any pity whatsoever towards her - I didn't. I honestly think that she deserved what came to her.
And I love morally grey characters. They are probably the most interesting ones to read and "dissect" for me. But, Evelyn is not morally a grey character, in my opinion. Because morally grey characters do wrong things mostly for the very right reasons. Or do good things for wrong reasons - Evelyn did everything in her life for one reason and one reason only (pardon, two reasons haha) - fame and money. Even if she claimed otherwise, it was always about fame and money.
It's hard to talk about this book without smiling anything, so !!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!.
!!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!. !!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!. !!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!.
Evelyn is very flaky as a character. I don't know if it was done on purpose, or if she just wasn't fully developed as a character. As she is telling her story she makes both statements which contradict one another a 100 percent. Evelyn says that she learned her from mistakes and she knows that she did everything wrong and that she chose all the wrong things to pursue in life, while all she ever wanted was love and family. 30 or so pages down the road Evelyn says that she would do everything she did again exactly the same and that she doesn't regret a single decision. Which is it Evelyn? Did you learn from your mistakes or did you not? It's a yes or no question, Evelyn!
I don't think she learned anything. It is shown through many, many decisions she kept making throughout the book, but it is definitely solidified with her last decision. When Evelyn encountered something she couldn't cheat, something she couldn't sleep her way out of - she decided that she would just rather die than let the world know that breast cancer beat her.
First of all, how cowardly is that? Second of all, her daughter died from breast cancer - a true and loving mother would never take her own life, but would battle it and live through what her baby lived through, because no pain is too great for a mother that truly loves her daughter. If anything, a true mother would have thought that the experience, no matter how painful it is, would bring her closer to her daughter still. Third, for all her "caring" about Grace - did she even think how Grace would take these news?? Grace was sent on a lovely vacation - imagine her coming back and finding that her employed killed herself? Throught out the book it was made clear that Grace cared for Evelyn, so Evelyn's last act wasn't just cowardly and selfish, she managed to hurt another human being in the process yet again.
And how maddening was the scene in the hotel? "... and you knew that he wasn't going to use a condom...." Evelyn, you are a grown woman, tell a man to get a f-king condom or he can go and blow himself if he doesn't. She thought herself in control of that night, but that detail shows that she really wasn't at all. Sure, you can argue that her plan wouldn't work if she told him to wear a condom, but hey she's an actress she could have simply told him that they are too hot, too young and too famous to have a baby from the first time having sex (he's a grown man he knows how babies are made) and that would have sobered a rock star like him up real quick.
I can honestly talk for pages about how much I hated Evelyn, but there would be no point in that really. I can just as well love the book even if it has a horrible, morally corrupted main character (Lying in wait by Liz Nugent is a great example of that, I loved that sick and twisted book so much!), but other things have to work in the book for me. And so far the characters and the setting did not. So let's move onto the plot.
It was just okay, I guess. People keep calling the book revolutionary, but I just don't see it. The plot twists were pretty cliche, and not that well executed in general. Especially the scene with the car crash - oh don't get me started on the scene with the car crash. I'm sorry, are police officers on the scene were actually blind puppies?? Because you can't just pull a body out of the car, take it to the hospital and pretend that the other person (you f-king left there to die) was driving, and that the actual driver just died from a heart attack! The driver had cuts all over his face and his neck was bleeding, his blood was all over the car - Evelyn bought the silence of a cabby driver and some nurses, but what about detectives and police? This scene needed way more research done.
Also, what was the point of Monique's side plot line? To show that she could walk away from her husband? To show that she can get the job she wants? What was the point of her mother coming to town? I wanted to like Monique but she was so underdeveloped, it wasn't even funny. She was just there, just another captivated audience member to the show that was all about Evelyn. Sure, there was that big twist at the end, which wasn't as shocking as it surely intended to be. Sure, Evelyn was the one who would "understand Evelyn's need to take her own life and not interfere" because, her Monique is apparently also a coward). But as a whole, her character was very and sadly bland.
While I'm on the subject - we lost so many people to suicide in 2018, you'd think that a book wouldn't try and promote the message of "dying on your own terms" or whatever, any further. Suicide affects everybody - not just the one who dies, it leaves a plethora of hurt and pain and emotions to the other people. If anything books should be telling the message of "keep going" , "it will get better" , "get help" , "sure, it hurts, it's painful, but it's how the life is and it's worth it". You do realize that the book is probably influencing tons of depressed teens and adults who think "hey, if Evelyn did it maybe should I?". I wouldn't wish this kind responsibility on my worst enemy. Sure, Evelyn had no family left, but Evelyn is fictional, and the readers are not. By the way if you are reading this and you are in a bad place emotionally, just remember that you are not alone, you are loved and I am always willing to offer a listening ear and a comforting word.
Moving onto the romance - the only real feeling of love I got was for Harry and Evelyn - that was love, everything else was either lust, possession, obsession or the need to control. I felt lust between Evelyn and Celia, I felt great friendship between them, but their love was so toxic, I am hesitant to call it true love, because that's not what true love is or should be.
Speaking of true love, it seems that the concept is very lost in this book. When Monique's mom describes her love for Monique's father - in the book it's described as soul mate love, as the purest love of all relationships in the book. And it totally ignores the fact that her husband cheated on her? Kept secrets from his so called soul mate, and led a second life with a man. You don't lie to your soul mate - that isn't true love.
The only thing that kept me going with this books is how compulsively readable it was - it was definitely a page turner. But mostly because things kept getting stretched out and Evelyn kept hinting at things to keep readers engaged - which is a cheap writing trick, but hey, it worked really well. I honestly couldn't put it down, no matter how mad it made me.
Speaking of writing - I enjoyed it - it went really well with the tone of the book, and did a great job at describing shocking parts about the "glamour of Hollywood" But, to me it held no emotion. People kept promising tears with this book and I didn't even tear up once. I'd call myself a cold hearted bitch, but I cry at videos of puppies eating carrots, so I know it isn't me this time. The way things were written gave away a lot of the things that were going to happen, so when the sad thing happened, I already knew it would and thus had no emotion to show for it any longer.
Also, the conversations felt very stiff at some points. Especially when Evelyn was explaining her sexuality to people - what should have came out as a natural conversation felt like a school lesson with Evelyn just drilling the same point over and over again. I think that took away from believability a bit.
Obviously, from this long and ranty review you can tell that this book did not work out for me. But that's just me. Lots of people loved it. I am okay with being in minority. I'm not here to change people's opinions, I am here to simply state mine. I am also not here to apologize for my, I guess popular opinions, because there are mine. I felt what I felt and I constructively expressed that.
Freelance BETA reader.