A friend of mine recommended this book and overall I quite enjoyed it, with one major caveat. The target audience of this book is clearly teenage girls. This means that while the story is fantastic, an inordinately large portion of the telling is spent on characters "gazing into eachother's eyes with longing." To the point that for me, parts of the story were immensely frustrating as I waited for plot progress, and in a few places I skipped sections.
I'd still recommend the book to others though, the story is great, the characters interesting, and the world fascinating, but I'd recommend going into it with open eyes about who it's aimed at to help manage your expectations.
The earlier books were enjoyable, but the trend that began in them, of solutions to problems magically (literally or metaphorically) appearing just when needed, has grown to an annoying extent in this. You don't understand the basis of the magic, you aren't aware of sub plots going on, problems are set up, and then just when they start to seem hopeless a miracle happens and they're done. A curse suddenly fixes things, a magical downpour suddenly fixes the world, a confrontation with the enemy results in his death while the character is literally unconscious, an all powerful villain suddenly is easy to beat. It gets to a point where you just wait for the expected magical solution to arrive.
So if you're looking for some mindless escapism with some interesting characters this isn't bad, but if you're looking for real plot instead of deus ex machina look elsewhere.
I listened to about forty-five minutes of this book (almost a fifth of it) only to hear several long lists of what various characters ordered in restaurants and a long description of the basis of the opinion that imagination is better than travel. After that I gave up.
If you were drawn in by the title, like I was, I would recommend skipping this actual book and instead going for The Art of Pilgrimage or Vagabonding, either of which delivers much better what this one's title promised than it does.
This book was entertaining and even had some parts that were interesting enough to be gripping for a while, but overall it started to just become a bit ridiculous. By halfway through the book I was starting to take bets on how long it would take for the protagonist to sleep with the shortening list of characters that she hadn't gotten to yet, and by the end there remained only one or two major characters that she had been near and hadn't managed to bed.
Of course some allowance for that is understandable given that the main character is a courtesan, but the sex scenes weren't even worked in that well and where initially they were at least decently built up and interesting, after a while the twist that takes each of her relationships sexual feels forced and unsurprising. The main character seems unable to connect in a way that does not involve desire and her continually taking all her relationships in that direction starts to just seem sad. And, worse for the reader, it becomes predictable and boring! The author clearly enjoyed exploring in repeated detail what it was like to have a character who derived pleasure from pain but in practice it felt like regular interruptions of the story to rehash the same sex scene over and over again with only minor variations. When the story was good it was tolerable, but mostly it was just annoying.
If you have nothing else going on and are desperate for a relatively mindless and sometimes entertaining read this might not be a bad choice. I was entertained enough at the start to make myself get to the finish, but I won't be continuing this series and if you're debating between this and another book that looks in the least bit promising, go with the other book. Whether you're looking for the romance, the sex scenes, or the story, you can find better of each or all three together elsewhere.
Having read a number of reviews I began this book expecting it to be mediocre and/or a repeat of the many recent articles on the topic at best. Instead it was fantastic! The author does a great job of recognizing and validating opposing viewpoints and then explaining why she believes what she does (I don't think I've heard a criticism of her views that she doesn't address), the book actually uses studies well in conjunction with anecdotes and (sometimes very personal) examples that ground her points, and the end conclusion values everyone's choices wherever they are on the spectrum while still leaving you with a sense of extra work needing to be done.
I will note that I don't agree with all of her end goals and every now and then a point she would make would sit wrong with me, but where The Richer Sex and similar writings evoked a sense of a zero sum world that left me (a male reader) feeling defensive, Lean In did a masterful job of writing in a way that left me thoughtful even when I disagreed, and it did a great job of offering practical suggestions and discussion points for action as well.
I couldn't have been more impressed with this book; I'd recommend it to both men and women. There are other books that cover much of this topic but if you want a current summary that is well thought out and written, covers many different viewpoints, and actually offers practical advice, skip the others and read Lean In. You'll be better for it.
Again a great book (better than 4), I will definitely be reading more, and I was so happy to have Roy Dotrice back as the reader again after the switch to another reader in book 4. He is fantastic at bringing the characters to life! That said, between the first three books and this one he seems to have forgotten which voices went with which characters and switched some of them around so if you're listening straight through like I did you'll find some characters speaking with other character's voices now, which is somewhat disturbing. I'm glad to have Roy back but hoping he either fixes this soon or finishes the rest of the series unchanged so I can get used to the current voice/character matchups.
While this book is quite good, the narrator from the first few books was replaced and this was a rather large drop in quality. Still recommend the book but be prepared to be upset and annoyed at the changes in the characters.
In a very short (for him) story with relatively little development this book manages to weave together a fascinating tale rapidly with little development without ever feeling incomplete. Highly recommended, my only regret is that it's not part of a much larger series. I hope it becomes one.
This book was a fascinating tours of the unique and heretofore unknown to me world of magic in the modern age. It was told with both an underlying story (the evolution of the author/reader in this world) and regular side jaunts into other subsets of the world or interesting studies or research. It seems like that should be jarring but the author did a fairly good job of blending it all together in a way that was interesting and thought provoking. That said, the underlying story that helped tie the book together so well kind of went...nowhere. I kept waiting for a resolution or for something to bring it all together, but you end up walking away feeling like the author told a coming of age story before having finished coming of age.
I'd still recommend the book as interesting and fun, but I'd do so with the caveat that you should lower your expectations for the ending to be meaningful or conclusive in any way.
While this book was interesting, I found myself wondering if the fact that it was written several decades ago accounted for the slower pace. I wondered if books had evolved in the same way movies have (you know how you rewatch a movie from the 80s now and the tension scenes seem so much slower than you remembered?). I enjoyed the story overall but never really felt drawn in or developed a deeper understanding of the world, I was just a bystander as the events were recounted. A fun enough read but not exactly the greatest book out there.
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