Hilarious! For anyone who has ever had dealings in foreign countries, with art students, with music snobs, and/or with hipsters, etc., this book gets it. It really just nails it.
This book did an amazing job telling the same story from the perspectives of two very different, very messed up characters. So good!
I can't remember ever reading a book before (admittedly, I haven't read a lot of mysteries) where the characters lie so blatantly to the reader. This made the story über-suspenseful. It was almost too suspenseful at points - I had to take a break for a while about 1/3 of the way through because I couldn't take the self-destructive tendencies of the main character anymore. It was painful watching him slowly hang himself (metaphorically speaking) with all his unnecessary lies, which were intended to cast him in a good light, but ended up backfiring on him.
The ending comes out of nowhere. It's like the author asked herself what the least likely scenario was, picked the craziest one, and went with it. Brilliant!
Etiquette and Espionage was a very quick, easy little book. Much like Carriger's other books, it's absurd in the best possible way (paranormal mystery/comedy/alternative history?). :-) The story is funny, very light, and kept me entertained for a few days at the gym. It doesn't demand much from the reader, but sometimes that's exactly what you need. I liked it, obviously, even though it won't become an all-time favorite.
This was a quick mystery/adventure, fun, and it made me laugh at loud at points. Definitely enjoyed it.
That being said, I am a bit worried. Mead just keeps adding more and more conflicts and more and more characters without following through on some of the earlier conflicts and characters she introduced but never resolved in the first two books in this series. This is shaping up to be a big mess. It really felt like a digression away from the main problem in the series that Mead set up in the first book. Characters that had been central in the other books, only appear briefly in this one, and I'm worried that this series is just flying out in too many directions at once to be manageable.
I downloaded this 32 hour-long book less than a week ago and finished it yesterday, which might say more about my feelings towards this series than anything else. My day job might have suffered for it, but I couldn't stop listening.
The conclusion to the "big mystery" in the series wasn't a surprise, but by the time I started listening to the final book I had become so attached to the characters that it didn't really matter that the surprise was ruined. It was simply a pleasure to listen to well-written dialogue and to have a whole group of characters with well-developed, distinctive personalities interact in unexpected ways.
I know I said this in my review of the second book, but it was refreshing to have a love story told in a way that wasn't always in your face or about sex or defined by immature angst-ridden decisions. The two characters complement each other in a very real, very sweet way. Though the love story is understated, it put a silly grin on my face.
That being said, the book could have been shorter. I did feel myself getting impatient, thinking the author should just get on with it. I think the first novel in the series might have been edited more rigorously, which is why I enjoyed it the most, while the next two were each longer, even though they didn't need to be.
I downloaded this the same day I finished the first book in the Riyria series and am still quite happy with the story. I've known the answer to the "big mystery" since about a quarter of the way through the first book (at least I think I do - still have to finish the series, obviously) but I still feel an incredible sense of suspense listening to these books. It's a fine balance for an author to strike between revealing enough hints about where the story is going, but still keeping his readers guessing what will happen moment to moment. It's so much fun to read something where the big story arc is clear, but all the little details are so unexpected.
Also, this has to have one of the most understated but sweetest love stories I've read in a long time. It's perfect.
I didn't give it 5 stars because the ending was not satisfying. It annoyed me a little that the book was so long and still nothing was resolved. But I suppose that's why there is a third book... which I've already started listening to.
This book plays on familiar fairy tale tropes (an assassinated king, dragon terrorizes countryside and kidnaps princess, etc.). You might think that kind of story would be boring or predictable, but I loved it.
The story is told from an omniscient third person perspective, which allows the author to drop all these tantalizing clues along the way about the characters. Nothing is ever explained all at once. One character has a brand, the other wears a necklace with a silver pendant. These clues are mentioned casually in passing, and they eventually get explained in little pieces scattered throughout the entire course of the novel. I spent the entire book trying to figure out who the characters are and what happened to them in their pasts. I think that was why it was so fun to listen to, even though all the plot elements were strictly traditional.
Sullivan has the ability to know exactly how much he has to say in each scene without going overboard. He tells you enough to make you feel like you know what's going on, while holding back enough information to keep things interesting. He's got a succinct writing style and a really funny habit of setting up long, dramatic scenes and then undercutting the tension with a joke.
It's a light-hearted book and I truly enjoyed listening to it.
I know this book was quite popular last year, so I tried it. Overall, the prose were sophisticated, and the reader did a nice job, but the story itself was disappointing. It had a great premise (a mysterious, magical book is discovered in the Bodleian which only one person can recall from the shelves). But the story isn't actually about solving the mystery of the magical book. The beginning introduces the book in the Bodleian, then the author abandons that mystery to follow a completely different, completely mundane romance between the two main characters.
A romance between a witch and vampire has the potential to be interesting, but in this case it isn't. The couple is portrayed like regular, upper-middle class couple (they go to yoga together, have wine-tastings, he makes her tea, etc.). Given how they interact and what they do together, there is no real reason for them to be supernatural creatures. They might as well be human. A major plot point occurs when the vampire takes the witch home to meet his mother (!). If taking his girlfriend home to meet his mom is one of the most important events to occur in the entire book, then it really isn't that original of a story. The supernatural elements were not exploited to their full potential.
I also found it difficult to care about the characters because their reactions to events seemed either completely unrealistic or completely clichéd. Because I didn't care about the characters, when the witch gets kidnapped, I didn't feel frightened or sorry or even mildly worried for her. The best I could manage was to cringe, thinking about the violent, irrational response her boyfriend was going to have when he found out.
Even though I'd still like to know what happens with the magical book in the Bodleian, I probably won't read the sequel.
When I started this book I was expecting a unified narrative, start to finish, but it turned out to be just a series of loosely connected short stories. Each episode was self-contained, in and of itself. All the stories charming, and many were funny and/or sweet. But ultimately, I really just wanted a long story with a beginning-middle-end, and this definitely was not that. I think my reaction probably says more about my own state of mind as I was listening to Anita than it does about the actual quality of the writing. My expectations prevented me from enjoying this book fully.
The setting of the book is fun and there are some really lovely, poetic descriptions, but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe the plot didn't have enough clues along the way to tell me where things were going, but my mind would start wandering as I was listening. I also thought the narrator's voice was an odd choice (gravely, elderly man's voice for a love story).
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