I've been MIA for a while because I've been busy grading papers and cloning genes, but also because when I went to blog the computer told me the server was down. But that might just be a Mac incompatibility. Who knows?
I actually did read A Great and Terrible Beauty, and I even finished it not two days after the due date (Sept. 15), and had some things to say about it. But honestly, it wasn't very good, and so I won't bother to write too much.
I didn't expect to like it. After reading just the first two chapters (in which there's all sorts of disgruntled and snotty teenager remarks, followed by the confusing "vision" and murder of her mother), I doubted I'd even be able to finish the book. I made a deal with myself that if I still hated it by page 50 (I was reading the large print version, so there were about 500 pages), I wouldn't finish it. But I did, because it was easy garbage reading.
The plot didn't make much sense, especially with all the "realms" nonsense. But then I don't really pay attention to details, so I didn't mind the plot holes. However, I can't stand the fantastical other dimension. It falls under my category of fantasy because it doesn't follow the basic laws of physics or life as I know it.
(Incidentally, I have the same problem with the new "Commander in Chief" show, in which Geena Davis is VP to a president who dies unexpectedly, and she therefore inherits the white house. The show doesn't follow the rules of this universe because the Republican president chose her, a female and an Independent, as his candidate, despite the fact that she didn't agree with any of his platform. Furthermore, the show seems to be trying to paint Republicans as "not that bad", which is completely indicative of an alternate universe.)
So the Realms pissed me off. Somehow, I was able to ignore it. But by the end of the book, it was too predictable. I usually don't get foreshadowing, but this was just too obvious. I didn't feel for any of the characters, and I didn't care what happened to them. I think the only reason I kept reading was because it was large print and I didn't need my glasses.