I've been gravitating toward fantasy more and more lately, but this book was not for me. It's a huge red light for me when every character is impossibly gorgeous, but I was willing to try to overlook that. The mythology wasn't well-built--I felt like the author tried to cram every supernatural being in too early. If she would have focused on vampires and skinwalkers and then brought in the fairy and werewolves in subsequent books, she might have been able to flesh out the back story. There's also lot of sex that's very clumsily woven into the plot. Elizabeth can take on the powers of the Nephilim she has sex with? Sounds like something out of a bad porno. I'm not opposed to well-written sex scenes, but these aren't it. If you're into supernatural romance, this might be worth a shot, but I'm not likely to read the rest of the Phoenix Chronicles.
I'm a fan of Hemingway's work and find him a fascinating, if problematic character in American literature. When I learned I got a review copy of this book, I was pretty excited even though I knew I could easily be disappointed. I'm happy to say I really liked it. Paula McClain does an excellent job constructing Hadley's voice to create a character who is both sympathetic and frustrating in her complacency. Ernest (and many of his friends) come across as self-centered and thoughtless, but they read as true to me. The one criticism I have is of the intrusions of Ernest's thoughts a few times in the narrative. I didn't want to see anything from his perspective (I've read his novels and A Moveable Feast and have his side of things). The point of the novel for me was to hear Hadley's voice, even a fictional one. Familiarity with Hemingway's work and the Michael Reynolds biography series might have heightened my interest in this book, but I finished it wanting more and was inspired to go seek out Bernice Kert's The Hemingway Women, which I've had on a "to-read" list for too long. I recommend The Paris Wife to others like me who are fascinated by, but not necessarily reverent of Ernest Heminway.
I don't read a lot of non-fiction for pleasure, mostly because I read so much of it for work. Maybe I should change that, because I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Burr, who also wrote a book I have sitting in my unread stack from Midwinter, is a really engaging writer. The book tells the stories of the creation of two different perfumes: one is Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely, the other is a commission for Hermes. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between a celebrity perfume that would be mass marketed and one for a luxury brand that would be sold in much more exclusive markets. He explains the intricacies of both the way perfume is created and the way the industry works without getting so detailed as to be technical and boring.The personalities of the people he met really come through in the story. Little details like what they wear and how they speak help flesh them out as real people, rather than caricatures. SJP seems like really smart and opinionated busineswoman, which isn't necessarily surprising, but it was a different side of her than we get to see when she acts. I also liked learning about peculularities of communication among the different groups of people--the French, PR people, perfumers, executives. Very human and funny stuff.
As a fan (but not a superfan) of Kristin Hersh and Throwing Muses, I was happy to receive Rat Girl. Unfortunately, I just can't get into it. Maybe I'm not in the right frame of mind and I'll like it better later, but for now I'm setting it aside only half finished. The descriptions of how Kristin feels while she plays and writes music are really interesting, but I can't stop my mind from wandering away during other stretches. Diary style novels and memoirs are usually right up my alley, but this time I'm not getting it. I'm glad some people love it, though.
Brady Udall's name was familiar to me, but I hadn't read any of his work before The Lonely Polygamist. The story was immediately engaging, starting with Golden as a put-upon husband to four wives but quickly jumping back in time to his life as a boy. I enjoyed the shifts in time and perspective from Golden (past and present), to Trish (the fourth wife), to Rusty (one of the eleven-year-old sons)--and back around again. Other reviewers have commented that the pace is slow and that nothing much happens, but that's one of the things I liked most about the book. The slow pace allows the characters to develop and we as readers learn more about how complex the Richards family is. I found myself falling in love with this family, as dysfunctional as it is, and wanted to know more about the motivations of some of the characters we saw through others' eyes. Other people have done a good job of summarizing the plot and characters. My review is more about why I enjoyed the act of reading this book. It's messy and slow, and the characters feel real and are so frustrating. If you like that kind of thing, pick this up!
I was a huge fan of J.A. Jance's J.P. Beaumont mysteries set in Seattle, but my interest dwindled when she started writing the Joanna Brady and other books set in the southwest. The quality of her writing was still there, but I just didn't connect with the Brady character or the setting, so I went into reading Queen of the Night with some skepticism. In fact, the book was a quick read, and I even stayed up really late to finish it in a single night. As other reviewers mentioned, there are a lot of characters with complex relationships to one another, making it slightly challenging to keep everybody straight. Because I haven't read Jance's last few books, I wasn't sure if the characters were recurring or if they were a completely new bunch starting with this book. I did enjoy them, as well as the storyline, although I'd place this book squarely in the "thriller" category because we know from the start who the killer is. The characters are well-drawn and nuanced, and I found myself wanting to know more about them--I will probably go back and read the other books about the Walkers as well as Jance's next books in this series. The only complaint I have is about the killer. He's the least developed character and I really didn't see his motivation for anything and didn't understand his personality. But maybe that's okay. Who wants to identify with a mass murderer, anyway?
This one didn't work for me. Some of the stories, particularly those about David Mamet, were kind of amusing, but the author's life is just not that compelling. A good memoir makes the reader care about the author, but this one just irritated me. Balbirer is pretty candid about some of her own mistakes, but she comes off as bitter and jealous to me. I found myself unsympathetic to her struggles because I didn't particularly like her.
Firefly Lane is a lovely story of a friendship that lasts a lifetime. Kristin Hannah is an excellent writer, and I'm so happy the EarlyReviewer program introduced her to me. Both Tully and Kate seem real and true to me, though I had a hard time sympathizing with Tully a lot of the time. Kate, who seemed kind of boring and unambitious in the beginning of the story, really grew on me and I eagerly looked forward to "her" chapters. I'm also sucker for novels set in western Washington state, since that's where I'm from. Kristin Hannah gets a lot of the little details right, dropping in both local favorite hangouts as well as the important news of the day. It makes sense for a book that follows a journalist through the years to include the major events of the day, but it also helps set the tone for the various decades the characters inhabit. The only criticism I have is that the story dragged a bit and the book is overly long (and I like long books). Especially toward the end, there seemed to be a lot of repetition. I'm trying not to spoil anything, because I do recommend you read the book, so this might sounds vague. The final section was kind of dragged out and there seemed to me to be too much of the "resolution" after the climax, if that makes sense. Still, I loved it and look forward to reading more from this author.
I haven't read any of Eisler's other work, but I probably will now that I've finished Fault Line. Thrillers aren't my favorite genre, but I enjoy them now and then when they're done well. This one's good--the plot, the characters, the pacing--it's all there. I particularly liked the way the story began from Alex's perspective and made him sympathetic and relatable, then introduced Ben, the real protagonist of the story. As the reader, it was possible to see things from both of their perspectives and understand how they don't see eye-to-eye. The story isn't that original. We've all read books or seen movies where somebody develops a new technology that bad guys want, and then black-ops government agents get mixed into things. Still, I was interested in what was happening, probably because I was invested in the characters. Even though the premise is a little shopworn, the events weren't completely predictable, and provided a few hours of entertainment.