Kristin K. (escapeartistk) - - Reviews

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Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
Author: Sena Jeter Naslund
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 134
Review Date: 4/11/2013


In the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to like this novel because the narrative voice didn't strike me as sincere. However, I ultimately concluded that this was intentional, crucial to Naslund's characterization of Marie Antoinette as idealistic and naive yet well-intentioned. I am glad that I stuck with the book, as I ended up liking it very much.


Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette
Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette
Author: Sena Jeter Naslund
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 62
Review Date: 6/20/2013


In the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to like this novel because the narrative voice didn't strike me as sincere. However, I ultimately concluded that this was intentional, crucial to Naslund's characterization of Marie Antoinette as idealistic and naive yet well-intentioned. I am glad that I stuck with the book, as I ended up liking it very much.


Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
Author: Sena Jeter Naslund
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 6/20/2013


In the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to like this novel because the narrative voice didn't strike me as sincere. However, I ultimately concluded that this was intentional, crucial to Naslund's characterization of Marie Antoinette as idealistic and naive yet well-intentioned. I am glad that I stuck with the book, as I ended up liking it very much.


Advent
Advent
Author: James Treadwell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/15/2014


I liked this story a lot in the beginning for the Gothic feel, the characterization of the protagonist, and the suspense. However, the suspense is based on unanswered questions that constitute about 2/3 of the story--as in, the same questions remain unanswered throughout much of the book. I consider simply withholding information something of a lazy way to create suspense, and it seems a little unfair to the reader, who, I think, deserves at least some sense of direction. Instead, we are teased with some vague and ultimately tenuous connections to various mythologies that, in the end, I found unconvincing. I really disliked the final several pages, which felt almost like a different book entirely, and another 20% of the novel consisted of unnecessary details that should've been cut.

If you took the "Wizard of Oz" and combined it with Nancy Drew and "The Shining," you might end up with something like this. It's a difficult book to describe and a difficult book to rate. I can see where some readers will really like the book and others will find my rating overly generous. I myself will never be sure how many stars to give (or not) this novel.


Advent: A Novel
Advent: A Novel
Author: James Treadwell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/15/2014


I liked this story a lot in the beginning for the Gothic feel, the characterization of the protagonist, and the suspense. However, the suspense is based on unanswered questions that constitute about 2/3 of the story--as in, the same questions remain unanswered throughout much of the book. I consider simply withholding information something of a lazy way to create suspense, and it seems a little unfair to the reader, who, I think, deserves at least some sense of direction. Instead, we are teased with some vague and ultimately tenuous connections to various mythologies that, in the end, I found unconvincing. I really disliked the final several pages, which felt almost like a different book entirely, and another 20% of the novel consisted of unnecessary details that should've been cut.

If you took the "Wizard of Oz" and combined it with Nancy Drew and "The Shining," you might end up with something like this. It's a difficult book to describe and a difficult book to rate. I can see where some readers will really like the book and others will find my rating overly generous. I myself will never be sure how many stars to give (or not) this novel.


Advent (Advent, Bk 1)
Advent (Advent, Bk 1)
Author: James Treadwell
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.7/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/15/2014


I liked this story a lot in the beginning for the Gothic feel, the characterization of the protagonist, and the suspense. However, the suspense is based on unanswered questions that constitute about 2/3 of the story--as in, the same questions remain unanswered throughout much of the book. I consider simply withholding information something of a lazy way to create suspense, and it seems a little unfair to the reader, who, I think, deserves at least some sense of direction. Instead, we are teased with some vague and ultimately tenuous connections to various mythologies that, in the end, I found unconvincing. I really disliked the final several pages, which felt almost like a different book entirely, and another 20% of the novel consisted of unnecessary details that should've been cut.

If you took the "Wizard of Oz" and combined it with Nancy Drew and "The Shining," you might end up with something like this. It's a difficult book to describe and a difficult book to rate. I can see where some readers will really like the book and others will find my rating overly generous. I myself will never be sure how many stars to give (or not) this novel.


Agyar
Agyar
Author: Steven Brust
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 1/14/2014


I was going to give this 4.5 stars -- it is original, suspenseful, humorous, engaging -- until the ending, which I didn't like. Also, there were a few other sections, occasionally, that I didn't feel were quite clear, perhaps due to efforts at subtlety. However, it's a well-earned 4 stars: Agyar the vampire, who is never explicitly identified as such, is going through something of a mid-life crisis and decides to record his observations and experiences on an old typewriter he finds in the house in which he's squatting. An enjoyable and unusual read.


Agyar
Agyar
Author: Steven Brust
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 1/13/2014


I was going to give this 4.5 stars -- it is original, suspenseful, humorous, engaging -- until the ending, which I didn't like. Also, there were a few other sections, occasionally, that I didn't feel were quite clear, perhaps due to efforts at subtlety. However, it's a well-earned 4 stars: Agyar the vampire, who is never explicitly identified as such, is going through something of a mid-life crisis and decides to record his observations and experiences on an old typewriter he finds in the house in which he's squatting. An enjoyable and unusual read.


Agyar (Tor Fantasy)
Agyar (Tor Fantasy)
Author: Steven Brust
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 1/14/2014


I was going to give this 4.5 stars -- it is original, suspenseful, humorous, engaging -- until the ending, which I didn't like. Also, there were a few other sections, occasionally, that I didn't feel were quite clear, perhaps due to efforts at subtlety. However, it's a well-earned 4 stars: Agyar the vampire, who is never explicitly identified as such, is going through something of a mid-life crisis and decides to record his observations and experiences on an old typewriter he finds in the house in which he's squatting. An enjoyable and unusual read.


All Other Nights
All Other Nights
Author: Dara Horn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/21/2011


I knew little about the Civil War when starting this book, and even less about the Jewish community's involvement. I also kept expecting this young author to falter. She didn't.
Horn finds a niche from which to share a lesser-known perspective on this much-written-about war, and she molds the intersection of Judaism and Jewish history with more familiar historical events and personages into an engaging and well-constructed storyline. Every time I thought I knew where the plot was headed, it either didn't go there, or it arrived in such a round-about way that I'd almost forgotten my earlier prediction. Equally impressive is Horn's characterization of her protagonist, Jacob, who matures, during the course of the novel, through realistic insights about individuality, commitment, discrimination and honor.
I enjoyed this story and recommend it to others, including (perhaps especially) to those less drawn to military history and more interested in characters, relationships, and theme.


All Other Nights: A Novel
All Other Nights: A Novel
Author: Dara Horn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 2/21/2011


I knew little about the Civil War when starting this book, and even less about the Jewish community's involvement. I also kept expecting this young author to falter. She didn't.
Horn finds a niche from which to share a lesser-known perspective on this much-written-about war, and she molds the intersection of Judaism and Jewish history with more familiar historical events and personages into an engaging and well-constructed storyline. Every time I thought I knew where the plot was headed, it either didn't go there, or it arrived in such a round-about way that I'd almost forgotten my earlier prediction. Equally impressive is Horn's characterization of her protagonist, Jacob, who matures, during the course of the novel, through realistic insights about individuality, commitment, discrimination and honor.
I enjoyed this story and recommend it to others, including (perhaps especially) to those less drawn to military history and more interested in characters, relationships, and theme.


Allegiant (Divergent, Bk 3)
Allegiant (Divergent, Bk 3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 44
Review Date: 3/6/2014


This series really devolves.

In this, the third and final book in the series, the repetitive sequence became monotonous: there's a crucial decision to be made based on limited information; there's a crisis or an incident; Tris and Tobias disagree -- or agree -- and either question their relationship -- or make up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Also (although I don't know how she could've told the story otherwise), Roth's decision to alternate between Tobias and Tris' viewpoints was unwise. Her first-person Tobias narration is unconvincing and seems inconsistent with her previous characterization of him. (He even seems completely emasculated at one point in the story.)

Then there's the questionable science -- and I'm hardly a science whiz. Without revealing much, I'll just say that there's a bit of an issue in terms of scale.

I will give Roth credit for several "pearls of wisdom" (sprinkled here and there) that could be good for young adult readers to learn. Also, those same readers might not take issue with (or even notice) the problems I've noted here. As an adult reader, however, I find myself wishing I'd just read the first book and been done with it.


The Ambassador's Mission (The Traitor Spy Trilogy)
The Ambassador's Mission (The Traitor Spy Trilogy)
Author: Trudi Canavan
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 10/8/2013


I was going to give this book 3.5 stars until I got to the end and it just stopped. It was probably the most abrupt ending I've ever read.

This book is much the same, in terms of quality, as her Black Magician trilogy, though I liked this book a little less - perhaps because I was hoping it would pick up sooner from where 'The High Lord' ended. Instead, it picks up 20 years later.

On a side note, for those who have read her previous novels: It drives me a little nuts how Canavan constantly points out that the magician(s) "opened the door with magic." She's fixated on that, it seems. And quite frankly (and especially given that they sometimes need to conserve their magical energy), it seems a little mundane...and inconsistent. I mean, they will walk up stairs instead of levitating, but they can't turn a door knob?! Just sayin'.


The Ambassador's Mission (The Traitor Spy Trilogy)
The Ambassador's Mission (The Traitor Spy Trilogy)
Author: Trudi Canavan
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 10/8/2013


I was going to give this book 3.5 stars until I got to the end and it just stopped. It was probably the most abrupt ending I've ever read.

This book is much the same, in terms of quality, as her Black Magician trilogy, though I liked this book a little less - perhaps because I was hoping it would pick up sooner from where 'The High Lord' ended. Instead, it picks up 20 years later.

On a side note, for those who have read her previous novels: It drives me a little nuts how Canavan constantly points out that the magician(s) "opened the door with magic." She's fixated on that, it seems. And quite frankly (and especially given that they sometimes need to conserve their magical energy), it seems a little mundane...and inconsistent. I mean, they will walk up stairs instead of levitating, but they can't turn a door knob?! Just sayin'.


American Gods
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 404
Review Date: 1/22/2012


Ugh. I didnt get past 30-40 pages. Im not a particularly prudish (or even particularly visual) reader, but every few pages had sex scenes or imagery that was simultaneously depraved and cartoonish, like something out of an adolescent boys imagination. This struck me as tawdry and gratuitous. Perhaps it wasnt, ultimately, but it turned me off enough not to want to find out.


American Gods
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 968
Review Date: 1/22/2012


Ugh. I didnt get past 30-40 pages. Im not a particularly prudish (or even particularly visual) reader, but every few pages had sex scenes or imagery that was simultaneously depraved and cartoonish, like something out of an adolescent boys imagination. This struck me as tawdry and gratuitous. Perhaps it wasnt, ultimately, but it turned me off enough not to want to find out.


Angelfall
Angelfall
Author: Susan Ee
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 1/14/2014


This book is 'good enough;' at least, that's what it is for me as an adult reader. The writing is nothing remarkable and the romance is cliche. The concept and plot are engaging albeit imperfect: there are several holes in the logic (example: angel can heal from life-threatening wounds in a couple of days, but blisters pose a problem), which I just sort of chose to disregard, and a few rather convenient coincidences to explain characters' behaviors and abilities. I was more impressed by several other young adult fantasy novels ("Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Ship Breaker," "Shadow and Bone," and even "Divergent"); however, the story in this one is suspenseful enough that I plan to read the sequel.


Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days)
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days)
Author: Susan Ee
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 1/14/2014


This book is 'good enough;' at least, that's what it is for me as an adult reader. The writing is nothing remarkable and the romance is cliche. The concept and plot are engaging albeit imperfect: there are several holes in the logic (example: angel can heal from life-threatening wounds in a couple of days, but blisters pose a problem), which I just sort of chose to disregard, and a few rather convenient coincidences to explain characters' behaviors and abilities. I was more impressed by several other young adult fantasy novels ("Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Ship Breaker," "Shadow and Bone," and even "Divergent"); however, the story in this one is suspenseful enough that I plan to read the sequel.


Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)
Author: Susan Ee
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 1/14/2014


This book is 'good enough;' at least, that's what it is for me as an adult reader. The writing is nothing remarkable and the romance is cliche. The concept and plot are engaging albeit imperfect: there are several holes in the logic (example: angel can heal from life-threatening wounds in a couple of days, but blisters pose a problem), which I just sort of chose to disregard, and a few rather convenient coincidences to explain characters' behaviors and abilities. I was more impressed by several other young adult fantasy novels ("Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Ship Breaker," "Shadow and Bone," and even "Divergent"); however, the story in this one is suspenseful enough that I plan to read the sequel.


Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer, Bk 1)
Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer, Bk 1)
Author: Robin Hobb
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 402
Review Date: 2/14/2015


If you previously have ignored this book because it's classified as a young adult novel, stop! It is far superior to many adult fantasy novels, and I'm really not sure why this isn't stocked among them, unless its because there's no sex. (The word "catamite" is mentioned once, but I guess that isn't enough.) Even the writing is more sophisticated and challenging than many adult books (including "Mistborn"). The characters have depth, the plot is unpredictable and suspenseful, and the intermittent dark malice and cruelty should be enough to disturb most readers. There is a lot going on in this story and the author manages all elements of her tale very skillfully.

I finished the book last night and am picking up the sequel from the library today. Assuming the rest of the series is as good as the first book (and I have a hard time seeing how it couldn't be), Robin Hobb will join Joe Abercrombie, Greg Keyes and Scott Lynch as one of my favorite fantasy serialists.


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