In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons.
It's like Jonathan Franzen re-wrote The Help: an indictment of Terrible White People, with no likeable characters. Worthwhile morally but what. A. Slog. The first third was pure Franzen-esque dysfunction, then we had the racist adoption storyline, indictments of all mothering of all types, and Teen Sex Problems. It just felt like beating a dead horse to me. I love satire and I love books that cleverly call out people for being jerks, but this was just too transparent and humorless for me.
On the upside, Jennifer Lim's narration of the audiobook was spot on. Really excellent. I'm giving this book 2 stars, one for Jennifer Lim's narration and one for Ng's descriptions, which were really lovely.
Read for book club May 2018. Would definitely have been a DNF if I read this independently.
Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price? Blade is known as the master of the rookeries - no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood craving he's been quicker, stronger, almost immortal. When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel - or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.
Lots of vampires, very little in the way of steampunk elements, and a supposedly intelligent heroine outshone by an overly dominant hero. Still wondering why the hero has a drawer full of French letters that go unused. I was hoping to branch out in the steampunk genre from Meljean Brook but this does not compare. At all. Heavy on the romance and light on plot and character development, which is a shame because there were some interesting ideas that surfaced occasionally. Loved Alison Larkin's narration, though the cockney accent reminded me of something from the Mighty Boosh. The Hitcher, maybe?
A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland's inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magical - and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom. Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on an airship, searching for her sister.
I save up the Iron Seas stories for when I really need something excellent to read, because they haven't let me down yet. Here we are on #3 and still going strong. This was my first to listen to on audio, and I loved Alison Larkin's voice. I kind of laughed at first when I heard her read Annika's part- it sounds exactly like Bjork! But hey, she's a unique Icelandic woman too, so it fits, they even have equally crazy sartorial taste. These books have adventure, fantasy, romance, and great characters. They are just so perfect. I loved the LBGT rights angle, the secret village of women, and all the Icelandic settings. And as always, the steampunk vehicles and the prosthetics are so interesting and add so much to the world-building. So good.
The only thing I hate is the cover art. Annika looks white! In the book it's pretty clear she is dark-skinned with very curly hair, probably of African origin. David is also possibly mixed race, his father was "Native" and his mother was probably white? Also, Annika's clothing is super bright and she even wears a ruff. So the cover is kind of generic steampunk, I wish it were more accurate to the characters.
Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches' cliff-hanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew's old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries.
I flew through the first in the series in 2 days. This one took longer because I listened only on audio. This audiobook performer is put through her paces! German, Italian, French, Latin, and numerous accents. I thought she read very well, I liked her voices for different characters. Time travel, witches, vampires, Shakespeare, Oxford, Prague, London, Christopher Marlowe. It's like a mix of Inspector Lewis, Outlander, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In a good way. AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY
A mouse is taking a stroll through the deep, dark woods when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat, but smart enough to know this - so he invents...the gruffalo! As Mouse explains, the gruffalo is a creature with terrible claws, terrible tusks in its terrible jaws, knobbly knees and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of its nose. But Mouse has no worries. After all, there's no such thing as a gruffalo...is there?
I've listened to this audiobook at least 20 times and I will surely listen to it at least 20 more. I listened to it twice on the way to drop off the 2 year old yesterday. He is completely obsessed with "The Grump-falo" and has been carrying the book everywhere and insisting on the audiobook in the car and occasionally in the house. Luckily this recording is excellent!
Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.
We read the audio version, read by David Tennant. His reading is awesome, though the sound quality was troublesome because there were whispers interspersed with loud yells and the choice was either to miss the whispers or be deafened by the yells. My main complaint is that while women (mothers) are mentioned in the book a couple of times and one actually speaks a line or two (max), there are zero girls in the book. ZERO. Like, were they eaten by dragons? Why don't the girls get dragons? Do the girls even exist? They are never even mentioned, not a single word about girls in the tribe. Where are the girls? I think having them in the book would add a lot of interest. The book was a bit one-dimensional. It needs a Hermione! (In the movie made from this book, a female main character is added!) Loved the dragons and adventure and the world-building is great. Worth a read, but disappointed.
Thomas Hardy brings us an England that once existed but no more. It is rural, traditional, pastoral - a society of mannered conduct that flows like a deep river where powerful currents eddy and swirl. In this powerful novel of love and disillusion, Hardy's heroine is torn between the three men in her life. Passionate but capricious, her romantic involvements have fascinated generations of readers.
Oh my goodness. Lessons for the kids: 1. (Spoiler) Gabriel Oak sat around being Plan B for years and years and it paid off for him but what in the world. Never do this. 2. Bathsheba... is she bad at decisions because her parents died and she has no mentor? Is she just a country bumpkin? Did people in this time just stir up drama for fun? I would not file her as a strong female lead, though in the end she almost squeaks into that category. There is more exposition on her at the end than in the beginning. The writing was fantastic, though.
"...though it was possible to form guesses concerning [Boldwood's] wild capabilities from old floodmarks faintly visible, he had never been seen at the high tides which caused them."
I read the audiobook read by Jill Masters, which is a great reading but with terrible sound quality. It needs remastering. I would recommend finding a newer recording.
In the good old days, magic was indispensable - it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians - but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer.
My kids are 5 & 2 and way too young to get the humor in this book, so I continued it without them. Fforde is one of my favorite authors, I adore the Thursday Next books. The humor in this book mostly hinges on government regulations and the absurdity of a dragonslayer being a beleaguered teenage orphan who has been single-handedly running an agency of magicians that is being run into the ground by a reduction in the demand for magic and an increase in paperwork. If you enjoy the humor and novelty of Piers Anthony without the weird misogyny and awkward sexual content, you will love this.
Fforde can write a strong female lead, and Jennifer Strange is a good one. There is no romance here, which is a good thing, it's quirky humor, wordplay, and magic!
Meg Murry, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a "tesseract", which, if you didn't know, is a wrinkle in time. Meg's father had been experimenting with time travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?
This book is just as good as I remember. The story of good versus evil and the fight against fascism is more clear now that I'm older, but it's still awesome that the heroes are the kids who travel across space and time to rescue their dad from a darkness that is creeping across the universe. The 5 & 2 year olds loved it too, though it was a bit over their heads, they especially loved Charles Wallace. My favorite is still Meg, awkward and unsure of herself. Hope Davis is an excellent narrator.
One of the best-known stories in American culture, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has stirred the imagination of young and old alike for over 100 years. Best Actress nominee Anne Hathaway ( Rachel Getting Married, Alice In Wonderland), fresh from filming one of this year’s most anticipated films, The Dark Knight Rises, lends her voice to this uniquely American fairy tale.
The book is so different from the movie! The flying monkeys were just roped into this whole thing because of bad luck and some nasty magic. The shoes are silver! I learned what the word "humbug" really means. The emerald city isn't really emerald. There are a lot more adventures and challenges. Hathaway is a good narrator; some of her characters were better than others, but overall solid reader with an excellent Dorothy voice for sure. Thumbs up from the 5 & 2 year olds also, all of us enjoyed reading this one.