"I'd seen the movie before -- multiple times, in fact -- but I had never read the book. It was really good! I was immediately drawn in to the world of the novel; despite the fact that I already knew the basic outline of the story (if not all the details -- they changed quite a bit from what I remember from the movie), I found this book to be a compulsive page-turner. Cee Cee Bloom is a wonderful character to read about, loud-mouthed, brash, insanely talented, insecure, and just really good-hearted underneath it all. I found Bertie to be less compelling -- the most interesting thing about her was her death (okay...that was harsh. True, but harsh) -- but still a good, strong, EveryWoman-type character, who kept the story moving forward. A great depiction of a true friendship."
"I love this book to death! It's marketed as science fiction -- mainly because Connie Willis is a science-fiction author -- but I don't think it really is. It's a novel about science and scientists. It's also a wacky, screwball romantic comedy. It's a great deal of fun! Lighthearted and funny, but it also deals with some deeper issues -- specifically, the nature of scientific discovery. It was a joy to read."
"Okay -- wow, this was good! I have never read Crusie before, so I was expecting just another semi-generic chick lit novel. I've never been so glad to be disappointed!
I think this is the most perfect chick lit book I have ever read. It was hilarious, for one -- the one-liners just kept coming the whole novel through. And they were *good* one-liners, funny, smart, sexy, and witty. The characters were fabulous -- well-drawn, quirky, likeable (the good guys), deliciously unlikeable (the bad guys), intelligent, and fully fleshed-out. These were people I wanted to get to know and hang out with, the kind of people I could see myself being friends with. And the plot was utterly absorbing. Once I started, I couldn't put the book down. Literally. I stayed up until 9:00 in the morning finishing this thing; by the end, I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, but I kept on reading instead of doing the sensible thing and, y'know, sleeping, because I just *had* to know what happened next. It's been a while since I've been that caught up in a book. I'm going to have to check out Jennifer Crusie's other novels, because that was really a lot of fun!
Oh! I forgot to mention the best part! The overweight heroine doesn't lose weight to win the heart of the hero! Not only is she as fat for the happily-ever-after ending as she was for the beginning, but the hero kept feeding her all the way through the novel because he liked the look on her face when she ate something yummy. I was starving when I finished "Bet Me" -- people kept eating pasta, chicken marsala, and Krispy Kreme donuts! I've been waiting a long time for a book that said you don't have to be thin to be happy, and actually *meant* it. Thanks, Ms. Crusie!"
"I adore this book! It's an excellent, really well-written fantasy novel about a young woman who goes off to college. It features witty dialogue, wonderfully drawn characters, political intrigue, and a clever plot. I was drawn in right away and I couldn't put it down until it was finished. Great story.
This book was set in an alternate universe -- some bits are clearly set in real places, like Paris, and other bits are set in imaginary places, like Galazon and Greenlaw. It's set in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century, and it feels authentically Edwardian. Stevermer's writing style convincingly mimics the literary style of that time period. In other words, don't jump into this book expecting fast-paced explosions of action. While there is plenty of action and adventure and daring escapades, the novel takes its time getting there. This is a subtle book. A slow book. A book to savor.
Also, don't be misled by the title into expecting Harry Potter-style antics. The magic taught at Greenlaw -- all the magic in this book, really -- is not showy. This magic is the stuff of metaphysics; it deals in intangibles.
All caveats aside, this book is absolutely wonderful. I love it to death, and I will undoubtedly re-read it many times in the future!"
"This was a wonderful first novel. I loved the characters -- Maggie (the narrator) in particular was just very vivid and real to me. I identified with her quite strongly, to the point where I was recognizing some of my own character flaws in Maggie's personality. I hope I have the strength to do what Maggie did at the end of the novel and take charge of my own life and change those things about myself that I don't like.
This is, as the title suggests, a book about what it's like to life as a fat woman in modern-day America. It deals with issues of appearance, weight, and self-esteem. But it also is a novel about friendship -- about why people become friends, what friendship means, and what happens when a friendship ends. The death of Maggie and Olivia's friendship is just as sad and bitter and slow as the breakup of a marriage -- and just as poignant and important and life-altering to the people involved.
Conversations with the Fat Girl was funny, sad, uplifting, and depressing, but most of all, it was honest. This was a conversation I both and enjoyed and needed to have, and I will no doubt be rereading this book many times in the future."
"I love Amanda Quick, and I adored SLIGHTLY SHADY, the first book about Lavinia and Tobias, but for some reason I just couldn't get into DON'T LOOK BACK. I may have to give it another go before I swap it out."
"I just finished this, and I really enjoyed it -- a lot more than I thought I would, even. It's more than just your typical chick lit book, despite the silly romantic comedy premise. (By the way, the silly romantic comedy premise was an awful lot of fun, and the reason I bought the book in the first place, so don't think I'm knocking it. I'm not.) Instead, we get a genuine, interesting novel about a set of characters who felt like real people. Even when the author was playing things up a little for comic effect, none of these characters felt like caricatures or cartoons -- they always came across as real people. The plot did get slightly ridiculous in places, but hey, what can you expect from a novel in which a woman hires an actor to play her fake boyfriend at family gatherings? It never got absurd, though.
And best of all, I felt like Samantha had really grown and changed thoughout the course of the novel. She had a newfound understanding of herself and her relationships with other people by the end of the book. The character development was very satisfying to watch.
I also loved the author's style -- deadpan and sarcastic without being cynical or mean. Very funny stuff; I was laughing out loud in places.
Good book! I'm going to be looking out for more by this author!"
"Classic Jayne Ann Krentz, this book has everything I love about her work -- dysfunctional families and trust issues combined with wonderful, vivid characters and a great, wow-what-happens-next story. A great read!"
"I initially picked it up because of the gorgeous cover, but I wasn't sure I would like it, since I haven't been in the mood for fantasy lately. But I opened it and started to read, and I'm glad I did. I found this story to be greatly entertaining. The heroine, Alissa, is refreshingly realistic -- magically gifted, yes, perhaps even extraordinarily so, but still recognizably a nineteen-year-old girl, and subject to the impetuousness of youth. She makes mistakes, and she has a fierce temper, but she is ultimately an extremely likeable and sympathetic character.
As far as world-building goes -- well, we don't see a whole lot of the world, just a small section of it: the plains and the foothills. (And this makes sense, for our viewpoint character, Alissa, grew up in the foothills and has never been far from home before. This area is the only one she knows.) However, that small section is richly detailed, and the prejudice and mistrust between the two groups vividly drawn.
My only complaint about this book is that it ended far too quickly; the story wasn't finished yet! The resolution of the plot is delayed for future books -- but fortunately there are already three sequels published. This was a delightful read that kept me turning the pages. I recommend it for every fantasy-lover who just wants to read a good story!"
""A Fistful of Sky" is wonderful on so many different levels. The first, most immediate, one is the "good story" level. This book is a great read, fun, compelling, magical, and dark by turns. The plot is just irresistable -- the magicless "ugly duckling" of a family of magicians suddenly develops the power of curses -- and the main character is very likable and personable. The various twists and turns of the plot will keep you engaged with the story, compulsivly turning pages. It's both a fun read and a good, thought-provoking read.
Another level I can appreciate this book on is the "good writing" level. Hoffman writes beautiful, pellucid prose that is simultaneously simple, easy-to-read, and relatively transparent, and also gorgeous, poetical, and resonant with meaning. This is good stuff, here.
And then there's Gypsum's coming-of-age story. Any woman out there who has ever struggled with a weight problem will be able to identify with Gypsum. There's a scene that takes place in Gypsum's adolescence where her mother casts a well-intentioned but horribly inappropriate spell on her to make her lose weight that will have all of us fat girl readers wincing in recognition and sympathetic pain. More than that, the idea of Gypsum, a full-figured woman, being afraid to use her own power just resonated strongly with me.
Ultimately, this book is about coming to terms with yourself and accepting yourself, learning to love the dark parts of your soul as well as the light parts -- embracing yourself in all your good, bad, light, dark, and contradictory human glory. I know I, for one, really needed to read it. I'm very glad I did."
"I enjoyed this book. It had great characters -- Dubric is just fascinating. I can't imagine a worse fate for a good, dedicated cop than to be haunted by the ghosts of the murder victims whose cases he hasn't been able to solve yet. And to see an admittedly fairly typical serial killer story set in a fantasy world where no one has ever heard of a serial killer before, a world where the concept just doesn't exist -- that was a stroke of genius.
Unfortunately, the descriptions of the murders and what the killer did with the bodies was a little too graphic for my tastes. I didn't think I was particularly squeamish, but yuck! Too much for me. But your milage may vary."
"I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a straight-forward fantasy novel so much! "Green Rider" was well-written and a lot of fun. Plenty of derring-do and high adventure, plus political intrigue and some very charming characters (the Misses Bunchberry and Bayberry, anyone?). A just plain out good read. If you like fantasy at all, you'll like this book!"
"Wow! What a great book! This was an awful lot of fun! A smart, gutsy, likeable heroine with some very cool powers on the run from some really scary bad guys -- this book really kept me on the edge of my seat. Lots of action and adventure, thrown in with some romance and a fascinating take on the concept of the djinn. I couldn't read it fast enough! The perfect beach book for summertime reading."
"This book was an utter delight. Hyacinth is a charming character, stubborn and witty and a lot of fun, and Gareth is all those things too. This is a wonderful and delightful love story, full of banter and charm, but it's also a book about family and family relationships, and I love it to death!"
"The description on the book jacket made me slightly uneasy -- it made it sound like Abby blackmailed Jack into marrying her, a "marry me or die" kind of thing. I'm so grateful I decided to read it anyway. It wasn't that way at all.
Both Abby and Jack are wonderful, well-developed characters who I really enjoyed reading about. They take their time getting to know one another; they talk to each other and they come to trust one another. Slowly and gradually, they fall in love -- their relationship felt very real and solid to me, more so than most romance novels, because of the time they took to get there.
The magical subplot -- healing Jack, the prejudice against wizards and witches in this version of England, etc -- was just an added bonus. Great fun, and an excellent read!"
"Well, this was just great! Each one of these essays was fabulous -- funny, witty, wry, and quirky. Sedaris's perspective is unique, and he has a way of taking the most mundane events (going out to dinner with his father, say) and making them seem like epic stories full of meaning and insights into the plight of humanity, and yet taking the most seemingly romantic situations (like moving to Paris) and grounding them satisfyingly in the mundane.
Plus he's freakin' hilarious.
I think my favorite essays were the ones in part two that dealt with his attempts to learn French. He turns culture clash into comedy gold! ("'I hate you,' [the French teacher] said to me one afternoon. Her English was flawless. 'I really, really hate you.' Call me sensitive, but I couldn't help but take it personally.") Hee! How can you not love this guy?"
"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is an excellent novel, action-packed, exciting, and deftly-plotted, with fascinating, complex characters and some interesting science-fictional ideas. I also enjoyed reading about Luna's culture; I thought the marriage customs were particularly interesting.
One thing I noticed right off was the way the Loonies use language differently than people from earth do. In fact, it threw me at first -- I couldn't figure out what was going on or why the language was so rough and unpolished and choppy. Eventually, though, I found the rhythm of it and settled in just fine -- I didn't even notice it after a while. It makes sense; Luna started off as a penal colony and has since developed completely seperate from Earth and relatively unmolested. Of course they would have their own dialect and speech patterns! To my mind, their language seems to be as efficent as possible. They trimmed away any unnecessary deadwood -- they don't use articles, for example, and very few personal pronouns, and they seem to prefer to use fragments to complete sentences. Only the essentials remain, much the same as the original colonists/prisoners had to start their lives over with only the bare essentials and sometimes not even that.
This book was written about forty years ago, and it has stood the test of time quite well, but there are some aspects of it that do seem rather dated. For example, the idea behind the character of Mike -- the computer that is connected to everything and has "woken up" or become alive -- is one that is very familiar to modern readers, one that we accept easily. Apparently, we accept it much more easily than Heinlen expected his readers in 1965 to accept it, because he spends more time explaining it than he really needs to. When Mannie, the narrator, tells Wyoh about Mike and introduces them via a telephone conversation, she is shocked that Mike already knows what she looks like. He looked up her medical records and found a picture of her immediately after being introduced to her. To modern readers familiar with the internet, this is an obvious step and hardly shocking; we expect it, and Wyoh's shock and apparent need to have every detail and implication of Mike's "life" spelled out for her makes her seem a little bit stupid to us. If we don't remember that Heinlen is using Wyoh to explain things to his 1965 audience that his 2005 audience intuitively understands, then we'll get a little frustrated with Wyoh's denseness.
All in all, though, this is a novel about politics -- a very complex, deep, intellectual and sophisticated look at politics, government, revolution and war. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has a very definite world-view and political philosophy, some of which I agreed with, and some of which I really, really didn't. My agreement (or lack thereof) with the politics espoused in this book didn't seem to have much bearing on my enjoyment of it. This is a book that requires the reader to think. And that, I think, is why I loved it so much."