This is the fifth and, for now, the last book in the A Song of Ice and Fire (otherwise known as Game of Thrones) series. It’s also long. Really, really long. I’ve been reading it since the first of the year and have just now reached the 50% mark. I guess on the plus side there will be less of a lapse between this book and The Winds of Winter for me, which is definitely a good thing; I have enough trouble keeping characters straight as it is, without a five-year wait between books. Anyway, I’m enjoying seeing some of the perspectives missing from book four, A Feast for Crows (books four and five were originally one book, split when it became too unwieldy). It’s especially nice to see Daenerys again. Though things are going so bad for Dany, it’s almost hard to read about. Who knew being the Mother of Dragons would be such a drag? Anyway, someday I’ll finish this and then be as caught up as I can be with doings in Westeros and such (the main advantage of which is that I can’t be inadvertently spoiled).
I heard about this book earlier this year (I believe the author was on The Daily Show) and was intrigued. I’ve long had a bit of a fascination with the Salem Witch Trials, dating back to reading The Crucible in middle school. This book focuses on six women central to the witch trials: the slave Tituba, both accused and accuser, the tragic accused, elderly Rebecca Nurse, accusers Ann Putnam and Mary Warren (Putnam especially doesn’t come off sympathetically at all) and accused Bridget Bishop and Mary English. I thought this was smart as these women really represented a cross-section of Salem society. I was a little hesitant about the author’s conceit of interjecting italicized passages in which she imagines the women’s thoughts and speaks from their points of view, but ultimately the device is used judiciously and sparingly, and it didn’t feel like Roach went too far in her speculation. I gave this book a B+.
Reviewed here. I really liked True, the first book in the series, even though it’s an over the top mish-mash of new adult/romance cliches (okay, perhaps BECAUSE it’s an OTT mish-mash of NA/romance cliches, but well done). I was intrigued by the pairing of Jessica and Riley; I’m not sure why I waited to buy and read this one. It turned out to be slightly less intense than the first book; Riley is less of a bad boy than Tyler, and Jessica, predictably, is not as much of a bad girl as previously advertised. I wish McCarthy had let her be; I was particularly irritated that despite Jessica’s party girl rep and Riley’s habitual monkishness, we just had to have a scene in which it’s made clear that he’s had more sexual partners than her. Because heaven forbid it be the other way around. Sigh. Also, the rather superficial depiction of the poverty of Riley’s family was a little distasteful. Still, this was entertaining enough to earn a B from me.
I think it was actually the review here that made me get around to buying and reading Sweet, and I liked that book enough to buy Believe after I finished it, in spite of the issues that the review outlines. I feel like this series has gotten increasingly married to traditional gender depictions in a way that doesn’t really thrill me. The romance between Robin and Phoenix is actually rather sweet and low-conflict. But putting aside the question of whether Robin’s sexual encounter with Nathan was or was not rape (it certainly reads like it, but since she doesn’t believe it is, I’m hesitant to call it that), the way she “reforms” after it occurs has a fair helping of (subtle and not-so-subtle) slut shaming. I mean, if a person wants to start dressing differently and wearing less makeup, well, that’s a personal choice. It’s not a reflection on her worth as a person or how “real” she’s being. I think McCarthy’s pulled back a bit on the realistic depiction of college culture, with its hookups, drinking and drugging. Robin’s whole drinking drama was a bit uneven and preachy; her decision to stop drinking after the incident was understandable, but I never got the sense that she was actually an alcoholic until late in the book, when things turn abruptly after-school-specialish. Anyway, I gave this a B-. I will likely read the next book, if only to see some deeper resolution between Robin and Kylie.
I got this from the Daily Deals based on the strong recommendation; plus, the price was unbeatable. It’s reviewed here. I ended up finding it a little strange. The heroine’s disability wasn’t well-explained (or at least not to my satisfaction), and I couldn’t help but wonder why the people who knew her didn’t identify themselves immediately upon greeting her, which is what I’d do if I ever encountered someone with that condition. (And if, heaven forbid, I ever suffered from such a condition, I’d immediately instruct/nag/beg everyone I knew to do the same with me.) The romance was hot, but suffered a little for me from having so much backstory that we only got in dribs and drabs. I did like the characters, and the writing, though rough in spots, worked well for me. I’d try this author again. My grade was B.
Continuing (sort of) my habit of reading about writers whose works I haven’t even read (I’m embarrassed; I’ve never made it through The Great Gatsby, though I do intend to someday!), I picked up this biography of Zelda Fitzgerald (though it really covers Scott and Zelda almost equally). What can I say about it? It was depressing. It’s depressing to read about alcoholics and the mentally ill. And then they die young. (Side note: Is this like complaining that the food at the restaurant was terrible, and the portions were skimpy?) Anyway, I guess I was hoping for a little more Jazz Age glamor, and we do get some of that, but the monsters are always lurking underneath the surface. The author is fairly even-handed in presenting both “sides”, if you’re inclined to take a side in Scott v. Zelda. He definitely used a lot of their lives in his writing, and so in a sense used her, while being terribly jealous and controlling about her own writing efforts. On the other hand, he was more patient than one would expect a self-absorbed genius to be of the vagaries of her illness. Her obsessive mid-life attempt to be a ballerina just about drove ME crazy, and I was just reading about it. This was a B.