Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies #1) by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, Philip Smiley (Illustrator)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies #1)
by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, Philip Smiley (Illustrator)

This is a book with 319 pages, of which, when combined, perhaps 3-5 pages of the contents are very clever and amusing. Do not neglect the Reader’s Discussion Guide, which is perhaps the part of the book containing the utmost hilarity.

The rest of the book is the borrowed genius of Jane Austen, but because it is incorporated without the range and craft that authoress possessed, her best phrases and structure are merely repetitive.

By all means, read it (if you read quickly, or have nothing whatsoever else to do) for the sprinkling of fun you can find inserted herein; but expect much of your efforts to be unrewarded drudgery.

I expect the movie will be far more rewarding, and the zombies themselves to be able to play a more central role.

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The Final Empire (Mistborn #1)

The Final Empire (Mistborn #1)
The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson
The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I didn’t start this book April 19: I RE-started it. I actually began months and months ago and put it down to read or…do ANYTHING else…a few times. That’s to tell you this is a slow to start book.

The Last 33% of the book is fantastic though, delivering all of the emotional and intellectual punch of great epic fantasy. The plot twists were half unexpected and half-just-as-hoped-for. As a romantic, I loved the ending.

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Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1) by Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1),
by Douglas Adams

Re-reading out of order, which makes me want to turn around and re-re-read Long Dark Teatime RIGHT NOW. Alas, I will move on to other books looking for wonderful locations for my Pilgrimage.

This book turned out to be chockablock full of not just geographical places but buildings – with addresses. On my pilgrimage I shall see if they exist (they probably don’t) and hopefully do some of the fun things the characters do: Eat pizza (anchovies are wrong. I do not care about accurately re-creating fiction when it comes to fish on pizza. WRONG!), consider a Greek menu through the window, and perhaps take in a Bach concert in London. Or feed a Dodo. Maybe not that last one.

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The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently #2)

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently #2)
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently #2) by Douglas Adams
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently #2),
by Douglas Adams

This remains one of my all-time favorite books, by one of my favorite authors. This re-read was to plumb the content for locations I want to visit during my upcoming 42 for 42 trip: I am traveling to 42 places that occur in Douglas Adams’ novels for my 42nd birthday.

I’m hoping to see Miss Schechter’s view of the Park, the street the Draycott’s lived in, the places Dirk couldn’t buy a cigarette, and the train station in our world that is hiding the great hall of Asgard.

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Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2),
by Deborah Harkness

Better than Book One. Far more compelling, and I was interested to know what happened to the characters. Overall, I find the book still too choppy with writing not rich enough to really convey what is happening in the characters internal worlds and external environment. Almost as if the author is writing in a language I don’t quite speak.

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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1),
by Deborah Harkness

If I could give this a 2.5, I would, because it is just below average, but not by much. After consideration, I can’t give it a three though, because of the ending. The end of the book is a blatant, unapologetic cliffhanger. Not even a pretense that this could be a stand alone book, which makes me resentful. I bought your book, Ms. Harkness, trusting I would get a beginning, a middle and an end: I’m cheated! There’s lots of beginning, a little middle…and no end in sight.
*DING!* a star falls…

I enjoyed this “beach read” book, but it didn’t draw me in. The language and writing were very straightforward; for a book about magic, the writing style was mundane.

It was very easy to put down and at times I avoided picking it back up.

Still, the premise is interesting, some action sequences worth following, and the protagonist has a lot of room to grow if you can wait out the annoying naïveté.

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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,
by Michael Chabon

My introduction to Chabon was the Yiddish Policeman’s Union, and I fell in love with his rich and savory writing style.

This book is not for the average reader interested in love triangles, motorcycle chases, or jewel thieves, but it does have all of those things.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a coming of age story. I loved it. The novel completely immersed me in a gender, a sexual awareness, a city, a culture, a lifestyle that was 100% foreign to me. It was done so beautifully and skillfully that even though I could relate personally to almost nothing, I never felt jolted out of the story or even a little bit skeptical.

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Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3)

Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3)
Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3),
by Mary Robinette Kowal

Reviewing a single book in a series is often difficult. As a “series addict,” I believe books should both ‘stand on their own merits’ and ‘be read in context.’

In the spirit of full disclosure, I sometimes choose to only read a series-author’s books if there IS a series, and if it is (mostly) DONE. In the spirit of Inigo Montoya, “I hate waiting.” And I also like more of a good thing. With no waiting.

Having finished book 3 of the Glamourist histories, I feel challenged to say why I gave 5 stars to Books 1 & 3, but only 3 stars to book 2. I also feel that it is important for me to acknowledge that while my “stars” tend to be entirely emotional, given upon immediately finishing, when I choose to write reviews, they are after…at least a few moments of reflection. Today, over an hour! (sadly if I wait too long they do not get finished)

Technically, all three books feel similar, but books 1 & 3 have 2 specific things that book 2 does not. (Sorry readers – I apologize openly for the numbers).

First, I am loathe to say it, but I think that perhaps…perhaps it is because in Without a Summer, we once again experience our beloved Jane as the inadvertent protagonist-as-antagonist. Our dear, flawed Jane makes a mess of things. And again, as in book 1, her sister bears the brunt of Jane’s fallibilities. Jane’s messes lend a huge amount of valid suspense and are allowed to resolve in a way that keeps me, as a reader, in love with her as fallible and forgivable.

Second, as in book 1, book 3 has a single, actual antagonist. Someone evil, in the background, creating a bad situation for Jane and those around her. A really good bad guy makes a book truly great.

Book 2 was good, and enjoyable, but didn’t have the punch-in-the-guts that comes from foiling a villain. The reader isn’t carried along on the rising tide of Jane’s tendency to make matters worse before they get better. That is replaced with a main course of heroism and a side dish of tragedy.

I feel privileged to have accompanied Jane through book 2, but book 3 is a happy return to what I enjoyed about book 1, while book 2 lacked the direct action…and mistakes…that are uniquely “Jane.”

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Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal

This book has 302 pages and took me four hours. They were four WONDERFUL hours. I love Jane Austen, but more than that, I love Fantasy. SOMEONE WROTE BOTH!!!!

This book is a perfect example of what it is, and a perfect thing I never knew existed. I am so excited that there are 3 more out there for me to savor and enjoy. I may have to restrict my reading and save them for when I REALLY NEED some reading that is entirely light, airy, and beautiful.

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Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (Jane Austen Mysteries #10), by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (Jane Austen Mysteries #10), by Stephanie Barron
Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (Jane Austen Mysteries #10) by Stephanie Barron
Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (Jane Austen Mysteries #10),
by Stephanie Barron

This installation of a series beloved to me seems to have less “Jane” and more madness. While I am glad that Jane and Henry get to enjoy each other’s company, the other characters, and even the settings of this book, feel less solid than I have come to expect. Perhaps as there is more fiction – fewer of Austen’s actual letters to hang the fiction on – I found the descriptions of Brighton, pavilion, rooms, less clear and immersive than previous works. Still, the action led to an interesting plot; As with all mysteries, the blinds and dead ends were enjoyable. Unfortunately, Jane’s single minded coherence is lost in the efforts of too many characters, going to too many places, causing a tumbled, unstructured narrative that feels different than Jane writing to herself in her little journal. Despite the more ‘active’ nature and pace, I was still able to linger over some description. I enjoyed the Master of Ceremonies character who socio-autistically recalls every person, every dance, and every aspect of ‘toilet’ for every Assembly. Useful in a murder investigation, to be sure. The flirt with Lord Harold’s broader tale – then continuation of The Elephant In The Room – was disappointing, and made Mona feel less a ‘friend’ than a haute ton convenience of plot. Still, I enjoy every one of these novels like canvassing what is new with old friends: this one is just more like tepid coffee with an old friend who is having an off day.

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