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.