Not a guide to living frugally (as I had hoped), this is the memoir of a college student that awakens to his plight of being heavily indebted for student loans but with little tolerance for office jobs. Ken is engaging and interesting but definitely a bit unusual. The length he goes to to get solitary jobs in the great outdoors and in Alaska to pay off his debt show a penchant for isolation and rigid self-control. He talks of living a simpler life but most of us are not willing to live in such isolation, eating only subsistence foods (peanut butter spaghetti stew, anyone?), living without necessities like a winter coat or heat in winter. Ken gets awfully preachy and overly philosophical in between anecdotes, to the point where it sounds like he is trying elevate his choices to a greater philosophical meaning that I am not sure even Ken believes. It loses its edge of truth.
Interesting, sometimes tedious, offbeat memoir, but I don't think his lessons will last in my mind other than his valid warning about not accruing mindless debt.
There was so many great things about this book, and some disappointments.
First of all, the world of the story is good and unusual. The idea of a world with demons and humans separated by a Veil, where there are no angels to balance out the demons, is solid. I appreciate that there is no Heaven/Hell morality laid over the world. Our main characters are half human and half demon, and their differing views on their identity in the world were interesting. I do love a good misfit tale. The Institute is a great concept and makes a nice foil to the demons as villains. They offer Muse a way to improve her skills and while keeping her safe from the demons while doing it. I liked the demon magic system being based on elemental forces (fire/heat, ice/cold) and look forward to meeting characters in future books with powers in other elements.
Muse/Charlie is a good protagonist. She was imprisoned and abused, and is coming into her own now. We want her to find her power and to find her place in her world. She has a metalworking aptitude, which I'd love to see her work more with. She has fire elemental magic. She gets thrown into and situation after situation without much ability to do more than react, but by the end of the book we see her getting her feet under her and starting to plan her own destiny finally. She waffles a bit too much about who to trust and love, but her abusive backstory makes that believable (for now). Now that she is getting some clarity and training, I expect her to be much stronger in the second book.
Some things were frustrating to me. The sex scenes in this book seemed awkwardly thrown in. There is a "love triangle" of sorts, but poor Muse is choosing between two men that have treated her badly and broken her trust, and with all the twists and turns of the plot, I was left thinking she should have thrown them both away and went on with her life.
I felt that the demons were a little underwritten (thought that may be rectified more in coming books). We are told there are seven Princes in Hell, and that Akil is the Prince of Greed (so I assume they are the seven Deadly Sins), but that is not explored in any way that I could see. I'd like to know more about the origin of the demons and what their world and motivations are. I am very intrigued about the role/powers of the half-demons and look forward to more revelations about them. How did they come to be? How many are there? What role will they have in defeating the demons or bolstering the humans?
There seemed to be some continuity errors (Muse refers to something a character told her or taught her, but we never saw that scene, etc.), which made Muse seem a little unreliable as a narrator. The pacing shifts rapidly, and felt too much of action action action without time for the character to react or reflect, which keeps the reader from bonding with Muse. Similarly, I am unsure how to feel about some of the secondary characters (Mika, Ryder) because we're never given enough time with them to see what their true natures are. Everyone seems to be a double agent in this book. I'd like to see a bigger scope in the next book - make me care about the world and what the greater stakes are. If it's just Akil versus Muse because she dared to leave him, that's pretty shallow and uninteresting.
All in all the book was interesting, fast-paced, and a good start to a series. I am eager to see the world fleshed out more, Muse come into her own, and the scope of the struggle between demons and humans to be revealed.
If you have not read the other two books in the Kingkiller Chronicles (and you SHOULD), do not start with this novella. This is a side tale, an exploration of an enigmatic character you have already met, a girl whom Kvothe named Auri.
That said, as Rothfuss himself says in the introduction to the audiobook, this is an odd little thing of a tale. I think it perfectly fits the odd, magical little thing that is Auri. The tone and language are enchanting, magical, delicate. There is not much of a plot, as the story covers a week of Auri preparing for the next time she sees Kvothe, and keeping her home in order. What we are told is mysterious, yet revealing at the same time. We are given hints of Auri's backstory, and shadows of things that may come for Kvothe. We explore the Underthing where Auri lives, and get to see more of how her mind works.
I gulped this story down like air in one day, then re-listened to it again immediately. Rothfuss is masterful with his use of words in writing, and surprisingly reverent and gentle in his narration. I was transported and amused. I am a little in love with Auri. I am intrigued to learn what drove her from the University.
My initial reaction to listening BL,LB was that it was less wondrous than the first two books in the series. I suppose that is misleading - many many impossible, surprising, and dangerous things happen in BL,LB. The stakes are getting higher; characters die. Characters are revealing their complex natures and we're getting a better idea of what each's potential is. Blue's and Adam's powers are defining themselves more clearly. The pace seemed hectic, but somehow the book seemed slightly more mundane to me. I missed the wild darkness of the Ronan/Kavinsky pairing from Dream Thieves. Greenmantle was diminished from his portrayal in the previous book, not at all how I envisioned him (though Piper was a welcome surprise). I'm glad the Grey Man was there, but he was a tamer version with all the tension taken out of his story line. The new character was, quite frankly, irritating. The pacing seemed odd to me - in particular, cave rescue at the end seemed a bit rushed and too conveniently contrived.
What worked? The emphasis on the women of 300 Fox Way, and in particular, Persephone. Female characters get things DONE in this book. Adam maturing and losing some of his foolish pride, growing more self-aware. More revelations about Ronan (though I though he was a bit of a dulled knife). Hints toward a possible Ronan/Adam romance. The heartbreaking romantic tension with Gansey and Blue. Malory was also a bit disappointing until the lovely heart-wrenching explanation of the service dog. Stiefvater's complexity and specificity of character description - every characters feels real, matures, gains understanding, makes mistakes, has emotions, and makes sense. The promise of getting to know Artemis in the next book. The lovely detailed language that Stiefvater uses so easily and off-handedly that make you forget how finely crafted her writing is to make you inhabit this Raven Boys world so familiarly, so immediately.
I'll wait a week or two and re-listen. Gansey seemed to me to be an observer rather than a leader in this book, and I want to see if that seems true after a re-examination. 3.5 stars for now.
It is no surprise that Will Patton does another great narration in this series. His tone seems to make thing more plausible or honest. I love that his narration works even with younger or female characters.
Likeable werewolf story with some unique twists on the werewolf mythology and pack dynamic. I loved the strong female lead character and the twist on "alpha" that Wolfie/Chase represented. I loved the pack of misfits. The relationship between Terra and her wolf reminded me of Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock and Big Cat (in a good way). The romance felt genuine instead of pre-destined or contrived, and never moved into overt "romance novel" territory. The writing was clean, if a bit rough or unexplained in parts. It could have used a bit more fleshing out here and there. Overall, very enjoyable storyline, dimensional characters, good balance of humor and danger, and character growth. Reminded me of Patricia Briggs' writing, which the author is also a fan of as she mentions Terra reading Briggs' books in Shiftless.
Middle of the pack post-apocalyptic fiction. It has a lot of possibility in the telling of the end of the world in a slow rundown of supplies and infrastructure, where the very rich retreat to gated communities with all the luxuries of modern life (internet, television, power, schools, parks, and some manufacturing - though the food is mostly protein and nutrient powders), while the rest of the world falls into wilderness and living off the land. We meet two such households in the beginning, a young couple and a young family. The family dies, and the couple move to a smaller community that they have familial connections to. This community is a nest of secrets and lies, which the couple try to puzzle out.
From such a promising start, the story falls flat. Cal and Frida profess to have high moral standards, but being keeping secrets and making excuses. Their behavior seems puzzling and inconsistent. The main villian is supposedly super smart, charismatic, and ruthless, but we never see him do much to deserve that reputation - we just heard of things that happened earlier. None of the characters at the community seem fully developed. Our independent, strong feminist Frida gets distracted by the joys of baking in the kitchen and dreaming of being a mother... like some sort of 1950s housewife ideal. The ending seems rushed and the final moral of the story seems to be that people will sacrifice and justify anything for some security and comfort, which was a disappointment to me.
There are some lovely moments in the book - the worldbuilding of the communities versus the gated communities is interesting and seems plausible and realistic. I liked that there was do catastrophic event that caused the "end of the world" - no zombies or plague. The forms or spikes around the community are a wonderful image. There are some great lines of description here and there, but the dialogue is mostly juvenile, wooden, or awkward. I didn't connect emotionally with the characters much at all, or stopped when they started behaving against their natures and behaving in an untrustworthy way.
Great idea - poor construction. I wish this book could have had more editing and a few more revisions to achieve its potential.
Fantastic followup to The Raven Boys. Stiefvater ramps up the magic and puts us in a speeding car with the boys headed for a crash. They test the loyalties within in their circle, they struggle with authority, and they search for their identities. I listened to this white-knuckled for most of it. Stiefvater crafted some stunning lines in this book. Magical things happen but the characters and their realities are also totally believably real at the same time. I'm already recommending this series to my friends.
This is a very solid and imaginative read. It's a love child of Raymond Chandler's noir hard-boiled detective story and the Philip K Dick or William Gibson cyberpunk/speculative science fiction genre. It has the best of both worlds, and yet doesn't feel contrived. It's post-apocalyptic in a way that fits the genre, playing on the scarcity of some resources in a world where people take their mind off the problems with prevalent and affordable technology that allows them to enjoy the virtual world. The author creates great concepts like the "eyes" (much like Google Glasses), which allow constant interaction with online information; electric cars can be programmed to make whatever drive tone you want them to, from cats purring to reggae; and "mixing" clubs that allow partiers to experience a drug-like synesthesia (tasting colors, feeling sounds). Enter Ted Lomax, a war veteran whose injuries exclude him from using technology, and so he does his private detective job the old-fashioned way: strictly analog, through research at the library, tailing suspects, and using his knowledge of human behavior. His daughter gets framed for murder and he has to figure out who the killer is to save her from exile from the city.
The mystery itself is good - complex, twisting, and revealed at a good pace. There's conflicts with bad cops, untrustworthy dames, and cocky tech-genius outlaws. There's lots of thrills and tension and danger, car chases, and some great seedy worldbuilding. The book is wonderfully atmospheric, gritty and still full of clever humor and insight into the human condition.
I got this audiobook free fromt he author in exchange for an honest review, and I loved it from start to finish. The narrator is good, but speaks a bit laconically for the story, so I sped it up to 1.25x speed. If you like noir, PIs, and speculative Science Fiction, check this out!
I think this book needed to be split - one the lighter, interesting thriller set in a high school where there are two competing thrill-seeking gangs, and maybe a separate one with the muck darker thriller about the madman with a Circus of torture and mind control. The author seems to waffle about whether to shock or to show that good girls (who don't drink, have sex, who do the right thing for the greater good and who worry about their faith in God) triumph over evil. The narration by Laci Morgan is well-done and well-edited, but the writing needed editing and focus.
Pretty much what I expected from the end of this series. Some decent plotting, a 'happy ever after ending' for most of the characters, some humorous moments from secondary characters, and a ridiculous amount of Rachel thinking herself unworthy to be with Trent and blaming herself for all the things that go wrong around her. I'm honestly happy to say goodbye to Rachel at this point. I was pleased to see the races find a balance point finally, and that the world of the Hollows is still ripe for more writing in that world with the new future ahead. I have loved The Hollows series but the it lost its luster in the last few books, so it is a good time to end the series. The epilogue was sweet. I'll miss Jenks and Al the most of all.
Exciting fast-paced thriller with a smart but damaged young female protagonist. Dani is a "data analyst" with a talent for reading body language, tells, and information gleaned form receipts, behavior patterns, and the detritus left in people's pockets. Dani is likeable and clever. When she finds out that the company she works for is not what she thought and that they are out to kill her makes the stakes very high and she has to be very smart and resourceful to survive. The writing is mostly good, though clunky at some points and over-detailed at other times. I liked the main characters (despite the ridiculous name of one of them!), but the ending of the book disappointed me. The ending was abrupt and seemed incomplete. I wasn't sure exactly what happened and who was behind the bad guys' actions. Enjoyable (if mostly forgettable) thriller. The narration by Eby was solid and well-edited.
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