Size Doesn’t Matter (127): Updraft; French Lessons; Wonders of the Invisible World

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (127): Updraft; French Lessons; Wonders of the Invisible WorldUpdraft by Fran Wilde
Series: Bone Universe #1
Published by Tor Books on September 13, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother's side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city's secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever-if it isn't destroyed outright.

If I were a poet, I would write an ode to the redesign of this series. Many odes. Tor has some of the most gorgeous cover art out there. Though I don’t love the book as much as I love the cover, it accurately captures the majesty and breathtaking nature of the world within Updraft.

Updraft compelled me. I’m not really sure why I found it so hard to put down, because the characterization isn’t that strong and the pace isn’t that fast. There’s just something about Updraft, but I’m not sure what that something is.

The best part of this book is the world. I don’t understand how this world functions, but I don’t really care, because it’s beautiful and dark and fantastical. Growing buildings made of bone, towers rising forever up above the clouds, and humans learning to build wings so they can fly from tower to tower.

In the sequels, I’m seriously hoping for a romance. Kirit and Wik could be an awesome ship, if the book started having some interest in that sort of relationship. So far, all Kirit cares about is protecting her friends and family, which is a good motivation, but about all there is to her. It’s weird how much into this book I was, because I’m such a character reader and they’re not that well-developed, but into it I very much was.

Updraft will appeal to more patient fantasy readers. There’s a lot that’s really amazing here, like the world and the plot, but some elements do leave you wanting.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Size Doesn’t Matter (127): Updraft; French Lessons; Wonders of the Invisible WorldFrench Lessons by Ellen Sussman
Published by Ballantine on July 5, 2011
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
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two-stars

A single day in Paris changes the lives of three Americans as they each set off to explore the city with a French tutor, learning about language, love, and loss as their lives intersect in surprising ways.

Josie, Riley, and Jeremy have come to the City of Light for different reasons: Josie, a young high school teacher, arrives in hopes of healing a broken heart. Riley, a spirited but lonely expat housewife, struggles to feel connected to her husband and her new country. And Jeremy, the reserved husband of a renowned actress, is accompanying his wife on a film shoot, yet he feels distant from her world.

As they meet with their tutors—Josie with Nico, a sensitive poet; Riley with Phillippe, a shameless flirt; and Jeremy with the consummately beautiful Chantal—each succumbs to unexpected passion and unpredictable adventures. Yet as they traverse Paris’s grand boulevards and intimate, winding streets, they uncover surprising secrets about one another—and come to understand long-buried truths about themselves.

Oh man, French Lessons was so not a Christina book. I’m pretty willing to read most anything labeled contemporary romance, but the chances of regret can also run pretty high. French Lessons is a great book for people who like reading about affairs and have an obsession with Paris that borders on fetishy.

French Lessons is more like a collection of novellas around a central theme than a cohesive novel. The frame is three French tutor friends who meet up for drinks in the brief opening and closing chapters. In between, each one has a long chapter where they fall a little bit in love with the person they’re tutoring. Every single story has to do with adultery. Only one of the tutors actually has sex with his tutee, and the other two ostensibly realize that they’re in love with each other. It’s the least shippy thing ever. At least for me. Maybe others are into this I don’t know. The characterization of the people they’re tutoring is good, but the tutors themselves feel pretty one dimensional, which ends up making French people feel fetishized, since they’re just there for the American students to lust over.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that French Lessons is bad, but it’s very much bad for this reader.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Size Doesn’t Matter (127): Updraft; French Lessons; Wonders of the Invisible WorldWonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak
Published by Knopf BFYR on September 8, 2015
Genres: Magical Realism, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
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three-stars

Aidan Lockwood feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life, each day as hazy and unremarkable as the one before it. But when his former best friend, Jarrod, suddenly moves back to town, the veil that has clouded Aidan’s mind begins to lift. Yet what Aidan discovers is that his world is haunted by stories of the past; stories that he has somehow been prevented from remembering.

But visions from the past come to him unbidden, starting with an old apple tree—a gnarled, dead thing—that haunts Aidan’s sleep, and seems to beckon to him from across his family’s orchard. And then there are the dreams that show him people and places he’s only heard of in family stories: a great-grandfather on the field of battle; his own father, stumbling upon an unspeakable tragedy; and a mysterious young boy whose whispered words may be at the heart of the curse that now holds Aidan’s family in its grip.

But there’s another presence lurking within this invisible world—someone who has been waiting to collect on a debt set into motion generations ago. As the lines between the past and the present, stories and truths, friends and lovers begin to blur, Aidan will be forced to spin a story of his own to protect those he loves, and keep the invisible world at bay.

Hilariously, I totally thought this book was a contemporary, but I was plenty pleased to find magical realism in its pages. Wonders of the Invisible World has a really cool plot, but didn’t engage me emotionally.

Aidan Lockwood’s narration felt permanently distancing. That worked effectively in the early chapters, because he’s lost a lot of his memories and his emotions have been compromised. He doesn’t feel anything too strongly, and he feels like a paper person, though he doesn’t know why. As the novel goes by, he opens up and regains his memories, but his narration remains just as closed off and dry.

The story totally worked for me though. Aidan’s family has a history of being able to see thing that others can’t. Aidan didn’t remember he could do this until his childhood friend Jarrod returned to town. I can’t really talk about the rest of it without spoiling it, but it was pretty damn cool. The romance with Jarrod should have been shippy, but, again, Aidan’s just slightly more emotional than a Hemingway hero, so I didn’t get much off of that.

For plot readers and lovers of magical realism, Wonders of the Invisible World may hit it out of the park. If you’re a character reader or in it for the ships, this may not be your jam.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (127): Updraft; French Lessons; Wonders of the Invisible World”

  1. I have a slight obsession with French books BUT I wouldn’t go so far as to call it fetishy. lol And adultery books have to be handled with care and it definitely does not sound like it is.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Series I Quit After the First BookMy Profile

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