Another short story in the Study series, again taking place after the third book and before the to-be-released fourth. This one alternates between Yel...moreAnother short story in the Study series, again taking place after the third book and before the to-be-released fourth. This one alternates between Yelena and Valek.
I liked it well enough but, as with the other short stories, the ending seemed much too abrupt. It's like there's a decent story getting going and then she realizes it can't be too long and *bam*.
My other issue with this is that Yelena is pretty damn thick. Granted, this is a common issue with her, but I'd like for it to not continue to be a driving force of the plot...
Valek, of course, is wonderful as always, though a bit disappointing that he keeps (view spoiler)[walking into traps (hide spoiler)].["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It was cool to see a story from Valek's perspective, and I kind of liked the "choose your own adventure" aspect of it (the author had polled her re...more3.5
It was cool to see a story from Valek's perspective, and I kind of liked the "choose your own adventure" aspect of it (the author had polled her reader's to ask how they wanted the story to progress at the time of writing ) - though I was also glad the voting and whatnot was over and I was able to read the story straight through. (Most of the votes went the way I would've gone, anyway. It was kind of amusing, though, the way you could sort of tell the author would take the poll, but them steer the story in her intended direction anyway. I'm pretty much sure that it would've, ultimately, gone down the same way, regardless, and the voting only changed some details.)
I slipped back into the world pretty easily. While this series certainly had it's flaws, it's one that's stuck with me.
My biggest complaint, really, is that it was too short and ended too abruptly. (less)
Overall I enjoyed this book, and the trilogy as a whole. I like the mix of gothic fantasy and romance - t...moreI won this book through Goodreads First Reads
Overall I enjoyed this book, and the trilogy as a whole. I like the mix of gothic fantasy and romance - though my general preference would have a bit more focus on the plot and a bit less on the romance than this particular story provides.
One good thing about this story is that it ties up the threads of the story quite nicely, while leaving avenus of exploration open should the author ever decide to have further forays into this world. And the climax of the story was pretty well handled, for the most part.
My biggest complaint with the story has been the same for the whole series, and that's pretty much the first person narration and some of the issues that's inherent in that writing style - particularly limited perspective (i.e. not seeing what other people are doing, which could be an interesting component to the story), and train-of-thought style writing.
For me it's the latter that really bogs down the story, in this case. Natalie is embroiled is this story of love and life and death and demonic plots, and while she does think on these things, it's the love aspect of the story which she focuses on the most and, thus, which we focus on the most. While their are demonic plots and clues abound, we get mostly internal monologuing about her insecurities and jealous and how much Jonathon means to her.
We're also reminded certain things repeatedly, like how her now surpassed Selective Mutism made her keenly aware of bodily and facial expressions, and how she can read people deeper than most may be able to. (Of course, this ability seems rather selective, as she suddenly can't read people when it's better for the plot for her to be unable to.)
This is just one example but, in general, Natalie seems to focus on a handful of things which are important to her, ad nauseum, and other, potentially more interesting parts of the plot are sort of in the periphary. Kind of annoying, that.
As to the limited perspective, this is also why I say the climax was handled well "for the most part". There's something which happens which, while predictable, seems to come out of nowhere. It seems in many ways (view spoiler)[Maggie's journey (hide spoiler)] may have been the more interesting story, but we only get bits of that in a letter after the big "surprise".
Granted, the "shock" might not have worked had we been more privvy to the various ongoings out of Natalie's purview but, then, as I said, it wasn't really all that surprising anyway. (view spoiler)[I knew Maggie would end up involved in the climax, just not to what extent. (hide spoiler)]
As I said, this story does wrap things up nicely and we get our long-fought HEA, and that's nice, but I do think the writing style sort of limited the story in some severe ways.
Oh, speaking of writing styles - I'm not sure how I feel about the earnestness. The other of Hieber's series that I've read, Percy Parker, was also a bit over-the-top in its gothicness (though perhaps not as self-aware as this book, which repeatedly calls focus to 'being caught up in a gothic novel'), but the writing style lent it an air of tongue-in-cheekness to it. This book seems more earnest, which is, perhaps, one reason I didn't enjoy it quite as much.
Still enjoyable, though, and perhaps I'd enjoy it more if I could stop comparing the two series but, alas, I don't seem to be able to make my brain do it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm not a huge zombie book reader, but the cover kinda caught my eye, and the fact that it was set in historical Philly sold me. As to the Philly aspe...moreI'm not a huge zombie book reader, but the cover kinda caught my eye, and the fact that it was set in historical Philly sold me. As to the Philly aspects, the Centennial Exhibition that is a important part of the story happened, but I don't know much about it. Mostly, she just sort of mentioned the Schuylkill a lot.
But the story was fun - in a gothic sort of way. I liked that the zombies were more spiritual in nature, in that they were raised by a necromancer, and aren't the usual sort of virus-turned flesh eaters. I'll take magic and spirits over your run-of-the-mill zombies any day. (And, in a lot of ways, this is actually a throw back to the original zombie stories, which were raised by magic (or, well, drugs) anyway.)
It took me a little while to get into the writing style. Part of it was the usual first-person perspective thing I have issue with, but part of it was just the overly modern sound of it. It just didn't seem like the author had a really good grasp of historical writing and setting, so it felt a bit forced.
Speaking of forced, the potential romance didn't develop very naturally, either. That didn't stop me from being a bit sad about how it ended, though.
Oh, and Eleanore was a bit slow on the uptake about the identity of the necromancer.
If you don't take the book too seriously, it's pretty fun. Eleanore is spunky in that historically anachronistic way that I appreciate, while still semi-trapped by the constraints of society. I also like Jie a lot, though, again, she was very anachronistic. (Well, really, like I said, the whole historical setting felt a bit off. If you're more a stickler for accuracy, you'll want to give this a pass.)
Mostly, though, I liked the magic and the sort of steampunky ghost hunting equipment that the Spirit Hunter used throughout the book. And I cared enough about the characters to care what happens to them.
I'll definitely read the next in the series.(less)
So, I picked this book up on a whim when I saw it in the give-away pile at my library. I knew, being a YA romancey kind of novel, that there were g...more2.5
So, I picked this book up on a whim when I saw it in the give-away pile at my library. I knew, being a YA romancey kind of novel, that there were going to be eye-rolls and groans - and there were, make no mistake - but I also thought the whole Jekyll and Hyde aspect could make it interesting, which it did.
Of course, sometimes it helps your enjoyability level if you go in sort of expecting it to be trashy, and that's definitely the case here... because, despite it's flaws, it was kind of fun.
So, anyway -
The biggest issues were the obvious ones - it relied too heavily on the trope of the whole good girl/bad boy, taken to a bit of an extreme. I mean, Jill was very good, her innocence definitely crossing into the realm of unbelievability. (Ok, maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time believing in a 17 year-old girl who's never even been kissed.)
And Tristen, of course, with the whole Hyde thing going on, was definitely in the baddest of bad boys - but an unwilling bad boy. Tristen, himself, is a pretty nice guy, but he has that whole uncontrollable dark secret thing...
So, yeah, cliches abound.
I also had problems with the stereotypes of how the guy's hidden darkness is violence - and sexual violence, specifically - whereas the girl's hidden darkness is mostly sexual.
Yes, friends, the virgin/whore thing rears it's ugly head. It's even sort of directly addressed at one point, Tristen thinking maybe (view spoiler)[it wouldn't be too bad for Jill to take the serum, and to get "both" Jill's. 'Isn't that everyone's fantasy' he thinks. (paraphrased) (hide spoiler)]
Yeah, she had to go there.
But, of course, these are, ultimately, good people... and that's where a bit of moralizing comes in. And this might be a bit spoilerish, but I'm not gonna tag it, 'cause I'm'a get on my soap box here.
You've been warned.
***** SOAPBOX AND SPOILERS *****
So, Jill and Tristen, being teenagers and newly infatuated/love with each other, have the natural physical impulses that go with that. But, naturally enough, Jill's hesitant. I mean, that makes perfect sense - you don't go from never been kissed to losing your virginity overnight, for heaven's sake.
But then we had to throw in the whole thing about how Tristen decides he doesn't want to take that next step without putting a ring on it.
Now, ok, some people are probably happy with this. Pre-marital sex, and teenage sex, and whatnot, is bad, mm'kay.
But I disagree.
I know too many people... far, far too many people... in unhappy marriages. And I've known people who, because of the whole no sex before marriage thing, have rushed into marriage more because they want the sexums than anything else.
I mean, sure, they probably figure it's more than that, that it's real love and true and they'll live happily ever after and shit... but these are people who, honestly, have only known each other for a few months, and much of that time was spent in lots of drama and turmoil, and these people don't really know anything about what life together would be like.
I'm a firm believer that not only is sex outside of marriage not wrong, but that people should not rush into marriage, and that people should probably have sex and live together before marriage to determine compatibility.
It becomes especially problematic in that the people who disagree with all that are, often, the people most heavily against divorce, which creates the problem of rushing people into marriage, and then forcing them to stay there.
I am glad that, at the end of the book, Jill and Tristen were still engaged, and not married, and that they seemed to be spending some time together getting to know each other and all, but I'm still not really happy with the overall moralizing aspects of the book.
But, then, I guess you almost expect it from someone who has the whole idealization of virginity mixed with slut-shaming going on.
Lastly, in the issues category, was some writing things.
I mentioned in my status update that I wasn't a fan of the shifting perspectives both being in first-person. I found having to mentally adjust one "I" for another a bit jarring, even with the chapters telling you whose perspective it was.
But I mostly got used to that.
I didn't quite get used to the heavy-handed "foreshadowing" that came at the end of many chapters. Sort of along the lines of the whole "If only I knew then what I know now... "
A paraphrased example:
"Professionally, she said. But I was too wrapped up in my own drama to catch it or think about what she meant by it."
So, not only a heavy-handed sort of "foreshadowing", but also a serious clue-by-four. Like "I'm not going to let you, the reader, miss these obvious clues I'm littering throughout the book, even though the character's are meant to have missed them at the time."
Not only do it sort of kill a lot of suspense, and any real hope in a twist or surprise, 'cause you're telegraphing everything from chapters away, but it's also just annoying to feel like the author must assume her readers are complete morons that she has to make a big, neon sign saying Here Be A Clue!
That said -
I did like the Jekyll/Hyde aspect of the story. I found the idea that (view spoiler)[Hyde could create his own lineage, all tainted with an uncontrollable dark side (hide spoiler)].
I also thought the ending was interesting.
Well, the final showdown was kind of cartoony, the reveal was obvious (see above), and the whole thing was sort of anti-climactic, actually... but the epilogue brought in an interesting bit related not to the dramaz so much as to the nature of darkness and the 'beast' within.
I haven't read Twilight, but I think I might feel about this book the way I imagine some of my friends feel about Twilight - specifically those people who enjoy it, but acknowledge that there are so many things wrong with it. (Though, from the excerpts I've read of Twilight, I do think this is better written. Also, no love triangle. It's definitely shorter than Twilight. And, best of all, it's a stand-alone! 'Cause while I did enjoy it, almost despite myself, I'm glad it's self-contained.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
To refresh my memory, I went back and read my review for the first book in the series. A lot of what I said in that review could be repeated here,...more3.5
To refresh my memory, I went back and read my review for the first book in the series. A lot of what I said in that review could be repeated here, especially the whole, "I liked it - but it frustrated me."
I think it frustrated me a bit less this time around, because I was more aware of what to expect, but I still couldn't help wanting to reach through the pages and shake people.
I think my thing is that, by and large, I enjoy my fantasy to have some romance. Other people might like their romance to have a bit of fantasy. This series seems to lean towards the latter, to the point where about 1/3 of the book seems to deal with actual plot development, and 2/3s focuses on a lot of angst and relationship drama.
If these figures were reversed, I think I'd like the book a heck of a lot more.
On top of that, though, it's the fact that a lot of the drama was circular and repetitive and stupid. I mean, I knew that there'd be a continuation of the angst, especially after the way book one ended, but, people were just being extra dumb - especially Kami. I mean, I couldn't figure out what her deal was. She kept thinking about how she wanted to be close to Jared, she wanted him to let her in, but then, as soon as he made any move to do so, she went cold and pushed him away.
I honestly couldn't figure out how conversations got from point A to point B at times, they were so manufactured for pointless drama.
But, for all that, I still cared, damnit. Kami is pretty damn likable, even when she's being annoying, and I kinda care about this world and how things come out.
As for the other characters, I liked how some of their stories were fleshed out and they became a bit more rounded, but I really wish Jared could be more of a person. In this story we have sort of the reverse of what we see in too many stories, where the girl falls in love and her whole life becomes about this other person. Jared is that way in this story. The good thing is that instead of being portrayed as super romantic, Kami realizes this is unhealthy and wants to help him care more about and live for himself, and not for her. So that was kinda nice.
As to the plot, the battle continues between the Lynburns, with the non-sorcerers being caught in the middle, and pretty much disdained by both sides. Kami and her Scoobys are working to find what they can do to help while constantly being dismissed by Lillian, but determined to find a way to help regardless.
Most of this is spent doing research, and, even then, there seemed to be more sitting around and discussing what to do than actually doing anything. We're repeatedly told time is running out, but the sense of urgency didn't really filter through.
In many ways, this book suffers from many middle-of-trilogy-books, where it's more about setting up the third book than doing much on its own. (I'm assuming/hoping this is a trilogy.)
Like I said, I liked it, but it was frustrating. I think this one has to go on the guilty-pleasures shelf, for being one of those books I like almost despite myself. (less)
When I picked up the first book in this series, 'Shades of Milk and Honey', I knew it was a fantasy-romance, but I didn't know that the romance aspect...moreWhen I picked up the first book in this series, 'Shades of Milk and Honey', I knew it was a fantasy-romance, but I didn't know that the romance aspects would far trump the fantasy aspects. But, despite that, I still generally enjoyed the story.
So, in going into 'Glamour in Glass', I was prepared for a more relationship/romance oriented story. That didn't stop me from being less than thrilled with the particular direction the story took - namely, Vincent acting a bit weird, and Jane fretting about his weirdness, but constantly making excuses, and then fretting, and rationalizing, and fretting... so on and so forth.
This was doubly annoying since, to the outside observer, it was freaking obvious what was going on.
It was also obvious, at least to this outside observer, about the other little secret/twist/thing that happened - i.e. (view spoiler)[Jane being pregnant (hide spoiler)], and, also, I had a fair guess as to the outcome - i.e. (view spoiler)[the miscarriage. Actually, this is the second story I've read this month which had a miscarriage. It's sad. :( (Edit - the event is sad, I mean, not sad that two stories had it in it. Ugh - you know what I mean!) (hide spoiler)]
On the other side of the equation, though, I did like the way the story expanded, a bit, into the wider world, and the way that glamour was used in a more meaningful way than just as art and decoration.
It was also interesting to take the story out of England, and see the portrayal of, we'll say, more European sensibilities, where women were actually allowed to participate in the after dinner discussion with the men, and they were a bit freer with shows of affection and whatnot. It was kinda of interesting to see Jane's initial knee-jerk reaction against such things, rubbing against her sense of English propriety, but then her more rational acceptance about how, honestly, she appreciated the more open and honest interactions.
But, anyway - a bit of politics and intrigue, and an exciting ending. It was nice to see Vincent's growing appreciate for his wife, coming to accept her as an equal and partner - not just in glamour, but in all things.
(And now a random picture to go with the saccharine nature of that last paragraph... )
This story picks up straight away where the first book leaves off, almost like you just turned the page. This is good in some ways, as I hate belab...more3.5
This story picks up straight away where the first book leaves off, almost like you just turned the page. This is good in some ways, as I hate belabored reminder chapters, but it also took me a second to remember what was happening at the end of the first book and reset myself in the scheme of things. There were enough reminders that I was able to job my notoriously crap memory, though, so that's good.
All-in-all, my thoughts are kind of the same as with the first - it's a fun, frothy book, not as good as Hieber's other series, Strangley Beautiful, and my biggest issue is the constraints of the first person narrative as well as the fact that things didn't seem to really progress much in this book.
The first person narrative makes it so that when our fated couple has to part, we get Jonathon's story via letters. Unfortunately this leads to a bit of telling over showing, and makes those parts just not quite so interesting.
And, from Natalie's perspective, we're once again sort of left going in circles of her fears and doubts, reassurances, back to fears and doubts, to reassurances, so on and so forth.
Also, some of their interactions and the dialogue, in general, was just sort of awkward and jarring. I mean, I allow some leeway for the purposeful floridness, but at times it was just too forced.
And, lastly, as I said, I don't feel like much progressed in this story. There was a lot of travelling, only to turn around and go back where we came from. (And, speaking of travelling, cross-Atlantic journies seem to go awfully quickly in this story.) And while we're in a sort of life or death struggle, I didn't feel much in the way of suspense - though the bit at the end in the hospital was good.
I just sort of wish the relationship stuff could be more settled, so that the focus was more on the dastardly schemes of the Society and all that, and less on Natalie's silly twitterings.
Overall, though, it's a fun little story, I liked the gothic touches, and I'll definitely pick the next up at some point.(less)
What can I say about this book? Despite it's flaws, it kept me up past my bedtime reading until I finally had to force myself to put it down. But I...more3.5
What can I say about this book? Despite it's flaws, it kept me up past my bedtime reading until I finally had to force myself to put it down. But I almost feel guilty for liking it how much I did, because at least part of it has to do with stomach fluttering romance.
Nikola Tesla, steampunk's* god of wacky science, ends up transporting random bits of London to another place - a place of Elementals and magic, and the Rational minded Londoners take over in that Empire building way, call the natives 'Unnaturals', and basically set about destroying the world, outlawing magic - except for that approved/hoarded by the Empress.
In this world resides Vespa (and, seriously, I kept thinking of Spaceballs), a young girl who wants to become a Pedant, which is a scientist who studies Unnaturals. Her bits are told in first person.
Also in this world resides Syrus, a Tinker, gypsy-like people who live in harmony with the magical world and its creatures. His bits are told in third person.
And, the third of our main players, Hal, an Architect who fights to preserve the magical world, knowing that the more that the 'Unnaturals' are destroyed, the more of the world goes with them.
And there's other stuff, too, but then it starts getting into spoilers.
Suffice it to say, I really liked the world, though it's not what I was expecting. I was expecting something more techie type Steampunk, wheras this is more magi-tech, and just barely Steampunky at all. But, as I am a fantasy buff, and I do love me some fae, after I readjusted my expectations, I was taken along for the ride.
And it is a bit of a ride, as these three try to save the world, their lives, and their hearts - not necessarily in that order - while going about it in the most annoying way possible.
Here's the downside.
Usually I would really dig a character like Vespa - a girl unhappy with the gender roles of the time. Spunky, independent minded, and a bit wild... but, often, she comes across as more petulant and whiney than anything.
I preferred Syrus, though I wished his character was a bit more fleshed out.
(I also wish the author would've just written everything in third person, instead of alternating between first and third. And, along those lines, the narration styles weren't different enough, really, to allow for two different narrators.)
Hal is one of my favorite characters in the story, though I was vexed with him often, too.
See, this is one of those books where people don't seem to like to actually talk to each other, except in short bursts of, mostly, argumentative banter. No one ever listens to the other, and so much misunderstanding could've been avoided.
And usually that shit drives me to distraction, to the point where I end up not liking the book, but something about this book - maybe the adventurey-suspense bits, or just the world, or something - allowed me to look past even that faux pas to enjoy the larger story.
And enjoy it I did - though I did feel the ending was a bit rushed and unsettled. It's not a cliffhanger, and it does wrap up enough to read it as a stand-alone, assuming you don't get too invested in the characters, 'cause there's some character-related stuff which is left open which left me a bit unsatisfied.
I will definitely be looking for the next in the series - though I do hope that the characters get fleshed out a bit more, and are, overall, a bit less irksome.(less)
I wasn't very far into this book when I knew it would have to go straight to my guilty-pleasures shelf. Heck, just based on the title and blurb I knew...moreI wasn't very far into this book when I knew it would have to go straight to my guilty-pleasures shelf. Heck, just based on the title and blurb I knew I'd be getting into some relationship wangst - but I had a thing for Arthurian legend since I was a kid, and I was in the mood for something light and frothy, so the idea of a trashy teenage romance with an Arthurian twist appealed to me.
What I did not know going in, though should've probably expected considering the current state of YA romance, was the existence of the dreaded love triangle.
Between brothers. Who look an awfully lot alike. And, that's just kinda wrong.
And, honestly, I can't see what she would see in Vane. I mean, I'm all for the occasional bad boy, but far too many of these YA bad boys are really just assholes. And no, the whole (view spoiler)[I'm only being an asshole for your own good (hide spoiler)] doesn't cut it.
The thing with Matt - i.e. (view spoiler)[I want to be with you but can't because of reasons (hide spoiler)] is equally cliche, but I can tolerate it a bit more.
But them being brothers just adds that extra level of weirdness, because who can you not think that (view spoiler)[she only wants Vane because she can't have Matt (hide spoiler)]?
Despite the dreaded love triangle, I still kinda dug the book. As I said, I used to be a giant sucker for all things Arthurian, but then kind of burned out on it - but I liked the idea of it set in modern times, and Merlin being a teenager.
And I liked how they handled the myths. Like how they sort of took Viviane and turned it into Vivane, and how we get some of the "real stories" behind the legends from the man himself.
I also liked how the story sort of just throws you in. There's not a bit long set-up, it comes fast and furious, and Ryan and Matt have a bit of a history before the book even starts, so it's not insta-love, at least.
That said, the action bits were kind of hard to follow, I couldn't always fathom characters motivations, and reveals kind of came out of nowhere. This last bit makes some sense, I guess, since the good guys didn't know what the hell was going on - but they kinda did a real half-assed version of trying to find out what was going on, as far more time was spent on training the candidates and, really, with Ryan and her drama.
So, yeah, it's definitely a groaner and eye-roller in places, and it's one of those books where I should probably know better - but, all that said, it sucked me in and I liked it.
There, I said it. ;)
I've already downloaded the next in the series and plan to continue soon.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A lot of people say the first book in this series sort of feels like Supernatural - and while I've only seen a few episodes of that show, I can gr...more3.25
A lot of people say the first book in this series sort of feels like Supernatural - and while I've only seen a few episodes of that show, I can grok it.
That said, I would say this one feels a bit more like Buffy, as Thomas and Caramel are even bigger parts of the story, and it kind of felt like a little Scooby gang. Also, Gideon sort of was like Giles and the Order of Blah Blah Blah was like the Watcher's Council. There were some part of this I liked (Thomas and Caramel, though mostly Thomas), but I felt the whole secret occult order was a bit hackneyed, and those parts got draggy.
That aside - overall I think this one felt more like a ghost story, whereas the first one felt more like a monster story. I mean, sure, Anna was a ghost and all - but the ghosts in this book weren't like ghosts. They were too solid, for one thing, and dispatched with a knife? I mean, even a magical knife, it was always a little weird for me.
In this book, though, Anna is sort of haunting Cas, and he has to try to figure out how to communicate with her and what she wants and how he can help. All very ephemeral kind of stuff... you know, like a ghost story. :)
All that said, I didn't quite like this one as much as the first... mostly because of those aforementioned draggy bits. And also because things kinda kept going in circles, with people having the same conversations and doubts and things, and Cas's insane "I know I shouldn't trust this person, but I do" thing, along with his constant dithering, was really grating on me.
But, in the end, it was mostly worth it.
Now, I know a lot of people don't like the end. And I can kind of see why. I mean, it's one of those things... it's not a matter of good or bad writing, imo, but just whether people were happy with how it came out, or not. Whether it met their expectations, or not.
I can't really say that much without getting into spoilers, so I'll just leave it by saying that I thought it was really fitting. I mean, (view spoiler)[it could've never really worked. It just couldn't. And while there was a part of me that was expecting they'd pull something out of their hats - like Anna would become human when she came back, or, hell, at one point I was expecting Cas to die and be okay with it 'cause he was with Anna, but, really, I think, deep down, I expected something like this.
Because, as I said, it couldn't work. But this way Anna gets her happily ever after and, even though Cas doesn't, he at least knows that she's free, and she's happy and, really, I don't think you could honestly expect more than that, given the givens.
And I like to think that, someday, when Cas does die, that he'll take the place of the dream-Cas in Anna's heaven, and they will be reunited.
But, until then, there's this bittersweet ending, which is beautiful and sad and which left me both smiling and teary and kinda at peace with the whole thing...
I'm also glad that it is a conclusion. I mean, not that I wouldn't've liked the series to continue, but if it is just gonna be a duology, then I'm glad the ending was settled and not having Anna come back and her still being a ghost and them being together but you knowing, in the back of your mind, that it'll never really work out in the long run... (hide spoiler)]
But, before all that, there's the big climactic battle which, honestly, I thought I was a bit rushed. I mean, it was satisfying and filled with jujubes and all, which is cool, but after sort of belaboring some of the 'fruitless searching' bits, I think she could've lingered on the actual fight for awhile.
Anyway, overall, I liked it, and I think that it was a fitting conclusion to the story.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I just finished this today at lunch. I liked it - I think I'll go 3.5 stars, though I can't decide if I want to round up or down. Possibly down.
At fir...moreI just finished this today at lunch. I liked it - I think I'll go 3.5 stars, though I can't decide if I want to round up or down. Possibly down.
At first I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I was expecting more of a horror story, and less of a sort of urban fantasy, and I definitely wasn't expecting the sort of romance angle. (Yeah, I must've skipped half the blurb or something.)
So take the fact that it wasn't what I was expecting, add that in with the fact that the reddish-brown lettering on the yellowish paper was killing my eyes - yes, I imagine it's meant to be like dried blood. Didn't help it not hurt my eyes - and compound that with the fact it was a bit of a slow start, and I honestly wasn't digging it at first.
But, eventually, my eyes got used to it, and I was able to be brought around to it being more a urban fantasy sort of thing, and I tried not to think too hard about certain aspects... and I started liking it.
The characters grew on me, even though their reactions were a bit unrealistic and/or annoying at times, and I started sort of rooting for Cas and Anna (though I couldn't stop wondering how Anna is so physical? And it could just be written off as her being uber-powerful and stuff, but the other ghosties seemed to have it, too, which didn't make a whole lot of sense.)
Anyway - one thing I really liked was when they helped Anna by (view spoiler)[dealing with her fetter instead of killing her (hide spoiler)]. I was a little irritated with Cas, to be honest. I mean, I know that that's his deal and all but, come on...
But, overall, I got into the story and the characters and while it wasn't really ever what I would call scary or anything, there were definitely some tense bits, especially at the end. My heart was thumping and everything. ;)
I also liked the representation of Wicca and magic and stuff. It wasn't all fires from your fingertips and lightning bolts. And I liked that it wasn't dismissive of kitchen and herbal witches, which a lot of these kind of stories tend to be. (It was one thing that kinda irritated me about Buffy, to be honest.)
That said, there were still a few things that bugged me.
I didn't think the action scenes were very well written. I had a hard time following what was meant to be going on at times, and it didn't always make sense. It was especially annoying when I had to go back and try to work out the logistics of things in my head, which pulled me out of the tenseness of the moment.
Also, I wish more was explained about the Anna and Cas thing. Like (view spoiler)[why could she not kill him. What was it about him that was different? And aside from him being impressed with her awesomeness, what was different about her for him, too. (hide spoiler)] There was a bit too much of an instant attraction thing going on, and it never really was adequately explained.
And I know I already mentioned it - but what's with the ghosts being so physical? I was half expecting (view spoiler)[Cas' hand to sort of not be able to touch Anna, and them have that unfulfillable longing thing going on... and while that's still there, for other reasons, it just seemed weird to me that, aside from being dead, Anna was pretty much just a person. (hide spoiler)]
But, like I said, enjoyable overall, and I've already put the next book on hold at the library.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The back of this volume says it's the last, and it looks like the anime it's based on only lasted one season... and I'm sad to see it go.
While not without its flaws (i.e. a sort of typical romance with the shy, awkward girl with the ugly duckling complex, and the dark, possibly dangerous, bad boy whose heart she changes) - it was a quick, fun and frothy sort of read complete with derring-do, danger and faeries, set in 1800s London.
Ah, yes... the perfect sort of brain candy.
Well, Lydia and Edgar, et al - I hardly knew ye, and I'm sad to see you go, especially since the story feels incomplete. I mean, the plot-arc is tied up, but there's a lot of unresolved stuff from the characters, and I think there's definitely room to grow the story.
I sort of hope that they decide, at some point, to expand beyond the anime and maybe continue the series.(less)
At first, as we are introduced to new characters and scenarios, I thought this was a new arc, but, as the story progresses, we se...more3.5
Ack - cliffhanger!
At first, as we are introduced to new characters and scenarios, I thought this was a new arc, but, as the story progresses, we see that it's tied up in the larger story of Edgar's past in interesting ways.
Lydia continues to waffle between trusting Edgar and not - and for good reason.
We learn more about Edgar's (and Ermine's and Raven's) dark past, still uncertain of where he falls in grey scale of morality.
We also get to see Lydia...moreWe learn more about Edgar's (and Ermine's and Raven's) dark past, still uncertain of where he falls in grey scale of morality.
We also get to see Lydia come to the forefront a bit more with her Fairy Doctor skills.
Had an easier time making out who's who with the art this time, and following things from right to left, though the weird sentence breaks are still, well, weird.
I'm enjoying the story and how it's developing, though I feel like some things are overly rushed. There is a note saying that they couldn't quite get the whole novel or anime experience into the manga, so... if I like it enough, maybe I'll track down one of those venues.(less)
I don't really read a lot of manga, but this one caught my eye for reasons which may be obvious to those who know me (i.e. 1800s England and fairy sto...moreI don't really read a lot of manga, but this one caught my eye for reasons which may be obvious to those who know me (i.e. 1800s England and fairy stories = yay!).
Not that I have anything against it, but there are a lot of really long series, and it's kind of an expensive habit, and, one of my biggest issues - everyone, especially the guys, often look too similar and I have a hard time telling them apart. Especially with the black and white art. So, yeah, there was a bit of that going on, especially towards the beginning.
And it took me a bit to get used to the right-to-left reading, and the way... the speech bubbles... are broken up... mid-thought... made it feel... a bit stilted... at times...
But I'm not really sure if that's a product of the form, itself, or something particular to this book.
Anyway - aside from all that, the story has promise. Edgar is the titular Earl, and we're never really sure whether he's a good guy or a bad guy, though we do know that he's not quite who he says he is.
Lydia, the fairy-doctor, is a misunderstood heroine, at once drawn in by Edgar, and yet also wary of him. She does a decent job of standing up for herself, though she does let herself get drawn in deeper - even when it's maybe not for the best.
So, yeah, a bit of that weird bad-boy romance thing doing on, which will turn some people off, but I'm curious enough to continue with the series.
This book first came to my attention when I'd heard that the author was making something of a stink about the fact that people were classifying his "b...moreThis book first came to my attention when I'd heard that the author was making something of a stink about the fact that people were classifying his "book for grownups" as YA, and saying some pretty disparaging things about YA books - and the adults who read them - in the process.
I read the blurb of the book, thought it sounded like a more serious version of My Life As a White Trash Zombie, which I enjoyed well enough, and decided to give it a go - partially out of curiosity as to whether I would consider it YA or not. (My ruling on that is so-so. I would say its literary pretensions* don't quite make it read like a YA novel, but that it certainly would have crossover appeal and there's nothing particularly mature in this book that makes it out-of-bounds for older YA readers. Of course, a lot of the problem comes from the fact that people think of YA as 'kids books', which simply isn't the case... but I'm not going to go into that whole diatribe, except to say that maybe the book would've been less boring if the author didn't spend so much time naval-gazing in his ever so mature way... )
But, honestly, his tiff over the YA thing is not why I rated this 1-star. I rated it 1-star 'cause I just didn't like it. I found the overall premise pretty absurd, the characters uninteresting, and the story pretty boring. I mean, for such a short story (240 pages, give or take), I felt like it was so slow...
The book started off well enough. We meet R, a zombie, going about his business and we meet the zombie hives. Even though they don't remember their names or details of their lives, they still retain elements of society - the have a Church, and marriages, and adopted children who go to a school to learn how to be zombies because children zombies don't have that killing instinct (which I find kind of a naive and romantic notion of children, since young kids are all id anyway), and while they can't articulate their thoughts, they seem to have rich inner lives - or, at least R does. We don't really know much about the others, except that M tells jokes and hits on all the girls...
So, yeah, they have some vestiges of culture and society and whatnot, but they can't even remember their own names. I just had a hard time reconciling this. They - well, R, anyway - remembers airplanes, and malls, and sporting events, and music, and food, even though they can't taste it anymore or get any benefit out of it, and escalators, and, and, and... and, well, basically everything about their lives except for any specifics that would help tell us who these people were or how they got into the positions they were in.
But, anyway, while I found the world-building a bit inconsistent, I did find the overall idea of it to be kind of interesting - and you could even say there's some philosophical issues being raised of what it is to be human. Most people equate memory and personality with their humanity, but could you retain humanity while losing everything else? (I would say no but, hey, it's not my story.)
But I'm belaboring...
On a hunt, R kills Perry and eats his brain. In this mythos, when you eat someone's brain you experience some of their life - their thoughts and memories and emotions. Perry had been the long-term boyfriend of Juliet, who is also there, and when R sees Julie, high on Perry's memories, he decides he has to protect and save her.
Thus begins the love story, and the downfall of the rest of the book.
Romeo loves Juliet because of Perry's memories, and Julie has some sort of... Stockholm Syndrome, or something. I mean, afterall, Julie is dependent on R for saving her life and keeping her alive. I mean, sure, he's different and he talks to her and has Sinatra records but, still...
***** Possible Minor Spoilerage ****
Anyway, things happen, there's a really heavy-handed balcony scene, to really cement the whole Romeo and Juliet thing, if it wasn't obvious enough, complete with cries of "Anon, good nurse". (Ok, not really, but for all intents and purposes, yeah, it's there.)
We have romantic scenes of a decomposing, dirty, grue-covered R - blood and fluids and all sorts of lovely things - snuggling up under the blankets with Julie, and no one seeming to bat an eye.
We also have more weird world-building, in which a city of people living inside a sports Stadium, who doesn't have enough real food to go around and subsist primarily on these weird nutrition bars, have this giant plot of land right outside, larger than 'all the farm combined', wasted as a graveyard which is primarily empty (meaning there are plots and stones and things, but most of the plots are empty or full of just a few bones and things 'cause, ya know, they just grab what bits they can of a person after they've been eaten).
You have some issues of what it is to be alive versus living - which is, interestingly enough, really similar to another book I read recently, an actual kids book, Johnny and the Dead, which was so much more touching than this book even hopes to be but, ya know, totally immature, obviously...
And you have a zombie virus/curse cured by the power of teenage love.
Yeah - it really was that ridiculous.
And I could almost deal with the ridiculousness of it if I cared a whit about the characters, but I didn't.
So, yeah... So glad I got this one out of the library and didn't pay for it.(less)
So, even though I wasn't 100% sold on the blurb of this other series by her, I decided to give it a go.
Overall, I did like it... but not as much... and I think a lot of it might come down to the different writing styles, particularly the third-person vs. first-person narrations.
This book is first-person, and it's also written in diary format - which is even a bit more annoying, to me, than regular first-person, because it starts the chapters with such things as "I just had the most horrible experience and it shook me to my very core. Here's what happened... "
And while that's a valid way that people tend to tell stories, it tends to take me out of the story a little bit. I don't want to envision the protagonist sitting at a desk, writing the story that I know she's obviously come out of ok enough to write down - I want to experience it while it's happening.
But, aside from that, it's just the limited focus we get.
I felt like, overall, both the world and the characters could've been developed more, and I do feel we got more of that in 'Strangely Beautiful', precisely because we weren't limited to Percy's perspective.
I feel like we hardly know anything about Mrs. Northe or about Jonathan. They were both a little too perfect, and they don't really have any depth outside of what they mean to Natalie, and what Natalie means to them.
Even Natalie herself doesn't seem all that developed, which you'd expect more of since it's her diary and all but, of course, she's telling us what's happening to her, and not really looking at herself all that often - except for the usual doubts and insecurities and whatnot.
I will say, though, that I was glad Natalie was a bit more pro-active than Percy, who was a bit too much of the damsel in distress for my taste.
But, overall, everything just felt a bit thin. 'Strangely Beautiful', for all of its gothic ridiculousness, felt much more fleshed out, overall.
And speaking of ridiculousness, there's something about being in third-person that let me take the style with a little less chagrin. In this story the dialogue was just... well, some of it was just silly, as you'd almost expect in a gothic romance but, for some reason, this was a bit harder for me to take in first-person than third.
But, really, I think my biggest gripe is just that I wish things were more fleshed out - though I suppose we can hope for that in the next book.
'Cause I probably will be reading the next book, 'cause I did enjoy it, cheesiness and all - I just think it could've been a bit more, and I know the author's capable of it, so a but disappointed, but, still, entertaining overall.
I first noticed this book when I saw it was written by Laini Taylor, whose Blackbringer book I really enjoyed. But when I read the blurb it sounded a...moreI first noticed this book when I saw it was written by Laini Taylor, whose Blackbringer book I really enjoyed. But when I read the blurb it sounded a bit too much of a typical YA PNR sort of thing, so I passed.
But then I started hearing lots of good buzz and hype about it. On several of the groups I'm in, people wtih varying tastes and opinions all seemed to agree this was a great book, so different and original, and one person even described it as being beyond classification as it so broke genres and boundaries.
Also, the opening was good. Not great - I mean, it didn't have that immediate hook that I so look for in a book, but it had some really interesting ideas and some fair amount of potential.
So, maybe, this is a case where my expectations were just set too high... but, honestly, I don't think so.
First, the good.
I really liked the setting of Prague. It's different from the stuff I've normally read, and it seems like a really great city for a magical story. I do wish that there was a bit more developing of the atmosphere and ambience and whatnot, but, all-in-all, it seemed like a good setting and was handled fairly well.
I also liked the general premise - a sort of angels vs. demons thing, but with a twist. I liked Karou well enough, especially in the beginning as she dealt with her ex- with a mixture of longing, regret and strength, and navigated her strange life, balancing school, friends (well, a friend), and her 'delivery' jobs. She's a little too perfect - swan-like grace, svelte and beautiful, magically blue hair, a wonderful artist and singer, etc - but she does have some flaws and could be developed well.
And learning about Brimstone and crew was just cool. I liked how the details were blended with a fair bit of mystery, and the system of wishes was a pretty cool, and unique, magical system - at least based on stuff I've read.
Like I said, while I found some aspects interesting it didn't quite have that hook that really captured me, and I wasn't longing for the next time I could crack open the spine... but I was interested enough to continue reading.
But then comes the angel - Akiva.
Since Karou is raised by the chimera (i.e. demons), she is, obviously, an enemy to Akiva, so their first meeting is one of violence. But he's struck by her - her beauty and something familiar about her. So, after she escapes his half-assed attempt to kill her, he starts stalking her... Following her, watching her sleep...
My first thought was "Oh, great, another creepy Twilight thing" - and, hell, I haven't even read Twilight.
And Karou, of course, is also drawn to him. Even while he was trying to kill her, she couldn't help but be struck by his alien beauty. She draws him and fantasizes about him...
And, so, the next 1/3 of the book or so is crappy romance schtick. They're on opposite sides of the war, they're enemies, they can't be together... and yet... and yet... they can't not be together. They must touch. They must...
And, yeah, nevermind that Akiva has (view spoiler)[destroyed the portals that allows Karou to get to Brimstone's shop and that he's the cause of her suffering (hide spoiler)], 'cause, ya know, it's destined love or something.
And, yes, there is an explanation for the insta-love, but it really doesn't mitigate it. Especially when (view spoiler)[their original meeting, when Karou was Akiva's dead love, Madrigal, was also fraught with insta-love vibes (hide spoiler)], so, yeah, no...
And then we jump into a flashback, filling in backstory and whatnot - but a lot of it was already gleaned, and it could've been shorter and tighter - but some of it was interesting, at least the bits that weren't focused on the romance - the bits where we learn more about the world and the war.
And then we're back in the present, and the inevitable happens...
And then we're left with a giant fucking cliffhanger.
There's no resolution in this book. None. It's half of a story. You have to read the next book to find out how any of this gets resolved.
Honestly, I probably will pick up the next book. There are parts that are interesting, and I do want to learn what happens and what repercussions come from this book. There is potential here. If Taylor had just stayed away from all the insta-love mooning and bullshit, and focused on the world and the war and characters, it coulda been a really good story.
And it's not like I'm anti-romance. I wouldn't even have minded if Karou and Akiva had romance vibes going on if, ya know, it was developed in any real kind of way. Characters that could've been 3-dimensional never quite manage because everything gets swept aside by star-crossed lover bullshit.
Summary: The parts that weren't moon-eyed insta-love were interesting, and, for those bits, I will probably read the next book (though I would like to know, before going in, whether or not there's actual resolution first).
For the rest of it - Romeo and Juliet does not need to keep being remade. It just doesn't. Just stop. For everyone's sake. Please just stop.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The delightfully trashy sequel to Shakespeare Undead, I think I liked this one even more than the first. Some of the issues I had with the first - lik...moreThe delightfully trashy sequel to Shakespeare Undead, I think I liked this one even more than the first. Some of the issues I had with the first - like the voices of the characters not being different enough, and the way the quotes from Shakespeare's plays were intermittently placed, were handled a bit better in this one.
Also, I liked the riff on 'The Tempest' and seeing how Handeland handled Ariel and Caliban. Also, it was kind of nice to see Kate's husband develop more as a character, instead of just being the looming, bad husband.
One of my complaints is that it's a bit jumpy. You'll be in a scene, and then it sort of just ends, and then in the next chapter we'll get a paragraph or two about how the scene ended, which was awkward.
The sexy scenes were well-tempered with the zombie scenes - though it was a little annoying for Kate to be without her sword for a good stretch of the story, turning our zombie-hunter into a sort of damsel in distress - but at least it wasn't through the whole story.
Also, the book, as a whole, ended rather abruptly. There are some things left unresolved which need to be address between Will and Kate, and I look forward to a third in the series.
Overall a really fun romp, and just the sort of brain-candy, mind-cleanser I needed.(less)
The fifth and final book in the Wicked Lovely series - not bad as a sort of YA romance with faeries, but there were moments where it seemed like it co...moreThe fifth and final book in the Wicked Lovely series - not bad as a sort of YA romance with faeries, but there were moments where it seemed like it could be more than that, which left me more frustrated than anything else.
For those who missed the romance between Ash and Keenan and Seth and Donia in the last book and some, rest assured that you'll be happy because much of this book focuses on that whole thing. And I appreciate that these threads were wrapped up nicely and we mostly get our various HEA endings.
The downside is that a lot of the intrigue and stuff - the parts that I generally enjoyed the most - is sort of shunted to the side in favor of the above romance, as well as the issues of Niall and Irial after the ending of the last book in which (view spoiler)[Irial was fatally stabbed by Bananach (hide spoiler)].
I was hoping that all five courts would be involved in this end. I guess, thinking back, it was a bit unrealistic considering what Devlin did in the last book - i.e. (view spoiler)[closing the Veil between Faerie and the moral world (hide spoiler)] - but I expected everything to come to a head in this in a more epic way, and was disappointed that Sorcha and Devlin and everyone involved therein are pretty much non-existent in this final installment.
And speaking of non-epic - the climactic battle was pretty lame. I mean, the last few books really plays up the power of Bananach and how everyone has to be at full power and all this other stuff... but then the final battle comes - quickly and suddenly after much dithering and pining and whatnot - and it just seemed far too neat.
So, much of the book is sort of repetitive sequences of will they, won't they, who hates who, so on, with talk of how they have to come together against the bigger threat - and then the ending is just rushed and kind of pat.
Those who are in it mostly for the romance may be pleased, but those who enjoyed the non-romantic intrigue - because there is some intrigue and stuff in these books, but it's all tied up in the romance bits - and who were looking forward to a big, epic ending may be disappointed.
I'm not sure it really rates 3 stars, to be honest... so I'll give it 2.5, overall, bumped up to 3 'cause I am a sucker for HEA endings, even subpar ones.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is yet another book wherein an interesting premise is killed by lackluster execution.
Elizabeth Rew, pseudo-Cinderella-ish new girl in town with...moreThis is yet another book wherein an interesting premise is killed by lackluster execution.
Elizabeth Rew, pseudo-Cinderella-ish new girl in town with no friends, becomes a page at a depository where instead of people taking out books on loan, they take out objects - mostly historical type objects but we also find out (rather too slowly, since it's kind of obvious from the name of the book) that there are special collections, as well, which contain magic (or sci-fi gizmos, etc).
On top of the wonder if discovering magic is real - there's also itmes being stolen or losing their power, pages going missing, a giant bird attacking people, more pages going missing, so on and so forth - all the while Elizabeth is dealing with the trials of teenagehood, including low self-esteem, body image issues, and having a crush on the popular boy.
Sounds exciting, right?
Except the writing is so pedestrian that everything is flat and uninteresting.
There is so much telling versus showing, and none of the characters are really developed - including Elizabeth, even though this is her first-person narrated story.
Also, I picked this up in the Teen section of the library, but it reads much more like MG (and not particularly good MG) than YA - aside from some "passionate" kissing bits. (I see Amazon lists it as 10 and up, so, yeah, not really YA - which may have changed my expectations if I knew that going in... but, still, I like quite a few MG books, so that's not really an excuse.)
The romances, themselves, were entirely unnecessary and didn't really add anything to the story. Maybe that was partially to do with the totally flat characterizations, or just the sort of shoe-horned feeling of them since they didn't always make sense. But while I'm often a sucker for a bit of romance, these did nothing for me. Zip, Zilch. Nada. Once again, we're told these people like each other, but we never really feel it.
Speaking of the telling versus showing - Elizabeth asks a lot of questions, which is good in someone actually learning a job, but we're left with a book in which almost everything is explained via expositionary dialogue, and very little is actually discovered.
And the climax was totally anti. It was wrapped up far too neatly, nobody really had much in the way of consequence for any of the not-too-bright or honest things they did along the way, and it was sort of Deus ex Machina-esque.
Two stars because of the premise and because it did have a few good moments... but, overall, a disappointment. (I'm so glad I got it out of the library, 'cause I think I woulda been pissed if I'd paid for it.)(less)
What can I say about 'Unspoken'? I liked it - but it frustrated me.
First and foremost I liked the voice of the story. Not just Kami, though I did m...more3.5
What can I say about 'Unspoken'? I liked it - but it frustrated me.
First and foremost I liked the voice of the story. Not just Kami, though I did mostly like her, but just the style and tone of narration.
I liked most of the characters, though I'm not sure any of them really felt entirely fleshed out. They all seemed to have their one or two dominant traits, and pretty much stuck to this pattern. I still enjoyed them, but I never became fully immersed into their lives.
As to their lives...
This book had a few things in it which are sort of pet peeves of mine. The first thing is the love triangle thing. While it wasn't entirely overblown, just the fact that it was there kinda irked me - doubly so that it was between two boys who were not only related (cousins), but who looked almost like twins, except one looked "angelic" and the other like a bad boy.
(Speaking of angelic, the idea that someone or something looked like an angel of some sort - avenging or guarding or whatever - was used a bit too often.)
The other thing is that this was one of those books where a lot of the drama/angst (and there's a fair bit of it), not to mention the ongoing mystery, was all created by people not talking to each other. Kami is trying to investigate things, but everyone has a "no talking about the Lynburn's" thing. And even when they find someone from out of town, we don't get any answers because Jared becomes so unbearably sick they leave, after tons of travel getting there, without asking a single question.
Manufactured plot point, much?
And, of course, this might not have been so annoying if Kami's own investigations often seemed to take a backseat to the love-triangle/angst stuff.
Part of me gets it. I mean, you have this voice in your head which you think isn't real and then you meet the person who it is, and there's lots of issues there. I get it. To a point. Being a sort of fierce individualist myself, I get the sort of fear that comes from not knowing where someone's impact on your own mental and emotional state stops and starts can be scary. How can you be sure how much of your emotions are your own?
And I admire Kami's desire to want to understand it and deal with it rationally, and not just emotionally. But the problem was that she wasn't really entirely rational about the whole thing. Or, rather, she didn't seem to really think things through. She said she wanted privacy - and yet they were constantly putting up mental walls and keeping secrets from each other, so it's not like they didn't have some control over it. And she also never seemed to consider the ramifications of losing a link with someone you'd had since birth... she focused so much on one side of the issue - the not having privacy and being linked to someone - that she seemed to ignore the other side completely - of facing the idea of being entirely alone in your own head for the first time ever, and the emptiness that would bring.
Of course, I imagine it's hard for her to be rational when every time she wanted to talk about it rationally Jared sulked or went off in a huff. I mean, I can get brooding bad boys, I really can, but my gods. The fact that Jared was all possessive and demanding and shit certainly didn't help her case.
But, anyway -
Not only does the whole town have secrets that could have helped Kami out a bunch - including her own mother, but the people who can read each other's minds never seem to actually talk out their problems. There's lot of sulking and huffing and shouting and misunderstanding, because there's no communication.
I mean, how the fuck do you have a book where the two leads can read each other's minds and still end up with one of those annoying books which is all manufactured angst from lack of communication?
I wouldn't have thought it possible... so I guess that's a win?
But, for all that, I still found it a compelling enough read. I half-guessed the bad-guy - i.e. (view spoiler)[I knew Ash was involved somehow, though I hadn't guessed about Rob, though I didn't trust him at all after his little visit to Kami - and it was a bit of a shame, since he seemed like the only decent/sane one of the lot. I guess that shoulda been a giveaway... (hide spoiler)] - though I gotta say that end battle was kind anti-climactic and didn't make much sense. I mean, I wish it would've explained a little bit why (view spoiler)[taking just a little bit of Kami's blood made Rob so strong and her so weak. It's not like she was bleeding a lot - it was made out to be, like, not much worse than a shaving cut, but it caused a hella lotta difference.
Also, how are there so many sorcerers in the town? All the focus is on the Lynburn's for so much of the story, but really the town is full of these hidden sorcerers that no one knows about? (hide spoiler)]
And then the post-battle bit... Ugh.
I admit that I ached a bit at the end... part of it was an emotional attachment, but part of it was frustration at the stupidity of the whole thing. (I know I said earlier that I never entirely clicked with the characters, and this is still true in the sense that none of them seemed entirely plausible as real world people. But I had enough of a connection to get a bit attached, yes.)
Ya know, (view spoiler)[I wanted to root for Jared, I really did... but he's just such an ass most of the time, it's hard to really get behind wanting them to be together. But I sure as hell wasn't rooting for Ash, either, 'cause I never really liked him. He always seemed too smug, or something. (hide spoiler)]
I know I'm mostly grumbling, and there was stuff, obviously, that bugged me... but I also found parts of it interesting. The overall story was kinda cool, what with the hidden magic in the sleepy town kinda thing, and if they'd only focused more on the mystery and the magic and less on the romance angst stuff, it coulda been so much better... and maybe that's where part of my frustration with the rest of it comes from. It's also kinda irking to see a story that could be pretty awesome sort of languish in the typical teenage drama shit.
But, all that said, I was planning on reading the next in the series. I immediately wanted to continue to story - though that's partially 'cause of the effing cliffhangery non-ending bullshit aspect of it - but...
Well, then I read the blurb for the next book, and I read some reviews which talk about excerpts from the next book that royally pissed them off (which I have not read myself, 'cause I'm kinda scared to), but I get the impression that the next book is still pretty heavy - and potentially a good deal worse - with the relationship drama. I mean, when the blurb ends with the focus being about who Kami will date... well...
I kinda of find myself half wanting to read the next book, and half terrified of the prospect of it. :-\
(ETA: I hafta say that, despite my issues with parts of the book, I was planning on bumping it up to 4, for a large part of the book, but that non-ending just killed me... )["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
When I first heard about this book I was in. I loved 'Wonderland' growing up - or the Disney version at least - and tend to eat up variation...moreMaybe 3.5.
When I first heard about this book I was in. I loved 'Wonderland' growing up - or the Disney version at least - and tend to eat up variations of the story. When we were promised a "true story behind the story" type of thing, even darker and more mad than the original - well, what Wonderland aficionado could pass it up?
And I was into it pretty much from the beginning. I liked the voice of the story, even though first person isn't my favorite, and I liked the sort of madness of it. I even liked Alyssa, for the most part. I related to her mixture of insecurity and strength.
But then we meet Jeb and the first twitterings of romance are felt... and I was like, ok, I can deal with a bit of romance, and, hey, at least they were long time friends and not insta-love, which I hate - though the whole 'two people who secretly love each other but stay away for X stupid reason' is a bit tired, too.
But, aside from that, the story of a growing family insanity, the language and whatnot was good.
Then we get to Wonderland, and I loved parts of it. The way the characters are taken from the book but twisted and different. I especially liked the Twid Sisters, thought the Mad Hatter analog was pretty cool, and enjoyed the adventure, danger and insanity of the whole thing.
What I did not enjoy, however, is the love triangle. 'Cause, see, Jeb comes along on our adventure and is ever so tiring and annoying, constantly "protecting" Alyssa and sort of putting her down and generally being a giant ass, even though I think we're meant to be rooting for him as the "good guy" of the triangle. He's just so patronizing and domineering and annoying. I kinda worry about what it means for young girls if this is the good guy.
Then we have Morpheus. Morpheus is also an ass, but of a different kind. He has an agenda and he's kind of obviously pulling Alyssa's strings. And maybe it's 'cause I tend to go for the dark, broody types... or maybe it's 'cause Morpheus was actually honest about his treachery, in a weird sort of way, but I actually preferred him over Jeb.
But, regardless, the biggest issue isn't just that the triangle exists, but that it becomes such a huge focus of the book. So much of the awesome stuff is sort of swept away by the constant alpha-posturing and, even worse, Alyssa goes from being sort of willful and spunky, chasing away to Wonderland despite her mother's warning, to a typical damsel in distress, her biggest issue being which boy to trust/love/whatever.
She's constantly getting saved, constantly dithering and unsure, and becomes downright helpless when she's on her own. Gone is the spunk of the girl at the beginning of the book.
When Alyssa uses a (view spoiler)[wish and wishes that Jeb hadn't come along, I couldn't help but wish we'd gotten that story instead. (hide spoiler)]
That said, I did like the ending, for the most part, and Alyssa did step up. Finally.
So, overall, I'm a bit conflicted. The overall plot and the characters and the whole twist of Wonderland was really cool. The love triangle was way overplayed and tiresome. And some of the middle could've been tightened up... but the beginning and end were pretty strong, and the adventures were cool, overall.
I just can't help but being a bit disappointed because of the book that might've been if only we'd focused more on the story, if Alyssa had stayed more spunky throughout, and if there was a lot less romance. I'm not saying all of the romance had to have been cut - but it certainly shouldn't have been the focal point that it became.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book was recommended to me on the basis that it's very similar to the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger - and in several ways it is. A...moreThis book was recommended to me on the basis that it's very similar to the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger - and in several ways it is. Amelia is similar to Alexia (or, I suppose, the ohter way around since Amelia came first), Emerson = Maccon, Evelyn = Ivy, Walter sort of = Lyall... in general, the archetypal characters are, well, archetypal.
But, in my opinion, this book suffered, a little, in the comparison to Soulless, et al, because while it was fun and charming in its own way it wasn't quite as fun or charming as PP.
Part of it, perhaps, was just the fact that I liked the world of PP, with it's steampunkish elements and vampires and werewolves and ghosts, oh my, whereas the Peabody books are set firmly in this world. Perhaps it was just because I didn't find the characters quite as fleshed out and I felt the romance a bit more forced in this one.
Perhaps, though, it was the lack of any sleuthing or detective work in this "mystery" novel. I think it would be more aptly named an adventure tale - and, ya know, that's fine, but I was expecting more of a mystery.
I mean, sure, there is a mystery in the sense that we need to discover who is behind the dastardly plot to try and drive our intrepid heroes away but it was more in the vein of "let's try and set several unsuccessful traps to catch the villain" as opposed to "let's do some sleuthing to try and deduce the identity and motive of our villain".
(In fairness, towards the end you do discover Emerson has been doing some ratiocination and whatnot on his own, but since everything it told first person from Amelia's perspective, we don't actually see anything being done.)
Which brings us to the issue of the first person perspective. Any loyal readers of my rambling reviews know by now that it's not a favorite of mine. In this instance, Amelia's (sometimes a a bit repetitive) perspective was interesting, but I would've liked to have gotten in some other people's heads, too, and I think it might've been better, all around, if we had.
All-in-all, though, it was still an enjoyable read and I do think I'll continue with the series. I think I'll get the next one from the library, though, instead of buying it.(less)
First let me dispense with the disclaimer that I don't usually read erotica type books and when I first read the blurb for this book, while I realized...moreFirst let me dispense with the disclaimer that I don't usually read erotica type books and when I first read the blurb for this book, while I realized there was definitely a strong romance element I didn't realize it was listed as erotica. (Yes, I know reading the blurb now one might wonder how I could've missed it, but I swear it was different and more ambiguous before!)
So, anyway, that out of the way...
While it's not the type of book I usually read, mostly because I can't quite get past the flowery language often used in these kinds of books, not to mention I'm a giant prude, I have to say that I did feel the sex scenes, while a bit florid in places, were generally very tactfully handled and not overly belabored.
I think my biggest issues with the book are actually more plot related:
The first issue can mostly be attributed to the short length of the book, but everything just seemed a bit rushed and the characters weren't as fleshed out as I would've liked (no pun intended). As I said, though, I think this is more an issue with the length and not really with the writing. The writing was generally good and I believe the author would've definitely developed the world and characters more given more time.
The second issue, and, really, the most important one, for me, was that I felt the conceit of the story was a bit thin. The necessity of the machines were a bit of a stretch since (view spoiler)[sexual aids and devices already existed at the time, though none quite as elaborate, I imagine (hide spoiler)], and I felt it was kind of a weak plot-device manufactured to bring our protagonists together and, also, so it could have the steampunk label, since it is all the rage these days (and, quite frankly, it was my interest in steampunk which brought this novella to my attention in the first place).
Oh, and one other smaller point, (view spoiler)[I felt the spy/intrigue thing with the husband was kind of unnecessary and sort of tacked on (hide spoiler)].
I know with all that it seems like I would've like the book at all, but I still did. Since it was short it was a quick read, and it was a easy read in the sense that it flowed well and was just generally well put together. (I guess it's a bit of a bias in me that I expect romance-type novels to be painful to read, not just because of my embarrassment with certain parts but just because, well, they're just badly written, but that was definitely not the case with this one.)
I'm not sure whether I'll read any more books in the series since, as I said, erotica isn't quite my thing, but I wouldn't be opposed to reading books in a different genre from the author. (And, that said, I did like the characters enough in this one that if they continue on I might follow them.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book was written as a Letter Game - each author plays a character (Caroline Stevermer writing as Kate and Patricia Wrede as her cousin Cecelia...more3.5
This book was written as a Letter Game - each author plays a character (Caroline Stevermer writing as Kate and Patricia Wrede as her cousin Cecelia) - and that's the layout of the story, the two cousins, separated for a season while Kate goes to London and Cecelia is stuck at Rushton, write to each other of their various goings on - goings on which, inevitably, intersect and bring the plots of the two places together.
While I think the letter writing thing was a kind of clever narrative for the story, I also feel that it, perhaps, kept certain things from being as developed as they could've been, including characters, and it also kept some of the tension down, because you knew that the character got out of whatever predicament they were in because here they are writing it down in a letter.
But, that said, I generally enjoyed the story. I would definitely say it's a girl's book, though, as there's much attention paid to clothing and gossip and propriety, and while there's also magic and mischief and danger, the tone is fairly light and easy and the inevitable romances seem to take front stage.
A quick fun read - a bit twee and obvious in places - but, still, a rather enjoyable way to pass a few hours reading. I look forward to the next in the series.(less)
I was just looking over my review for the prior book in the trilogy, The House on Durrow Street, and this book has a lot of the same stylistic issues...moreI was just looking over my review for the prior book in the trilogy, The House on Durrow Street, and this book has a lot of the same stylistic issues that I had with that book - namely that a lot of things happen off-screen, so to speak, and the things that happen on-screen are often repetitive.
As we switch perspectives from one character to a next we often, also, experience a passing of time, and then we get a summary of what happened in that time - which removes and and all tension from these scenes, especially when they includes battles or things because, well, we sort of know the outcome, don't we?
The worst example of this was in the freaking climax where we basically go over the plan of action, in belabored detail, and then we skip to after the battle and learn that, well, everything sort of went to plan so, well, that's that, then.
I don't know if Beckett has done this on purpose for some reason, or if he's just not very good at figuring out what should go on the page and what should be summarized?
As to characters, Eldyn had a much more relevant role this time around, and his parts, at least in the beginning, were often the more interesting ones. Unfortunately, towards the end, his role was sort of over, so he was shunted off to the background more often than not. (I was not sad to see no sign of his sister in this book.)
Rafferdy, conversely, didn't have much going on in the beginning, aside from some scheming and politics and whatnot, but became much more involved towards the end. We do see a lot of character growth in Rafferdy, which is good, but my main complaint with it is that a lot of it sort of already happened in the second book and yet he's still sort of acting shocked about it the whole time.
We see a bit more of Mr. Quent in this book, which is nice. I'm glad to see more of his character, since he's so often absent from the previous books. But I was rather bothered by a certain plot point pertaining to him, mostly because it felt so forced. (view spoiler)[See, the first book sets up a romance between Rafferdy and Ivy that never comes to be, Ivy marries Mr. Quent and Rafferdy is forever regretful. So, then, of course, we have to have Mr. Quent perform a noble sacrifice which not only bolsters his character, but paves the way for Ivy and Rafferdy to finally get together. (hide spoiler)] Ugh.
And then there's Ivy. Oh, what to say about Ivy? Mostly I'll say I'm rather disappointed in Ivy.
See, Ivy is, ostensibly, thee main character of the series, it being named after her and all, but she never really plays any sort of proactive role. She's constantly reacting to things around her, and never really taking charge of anything - aside from taking care of people.
We're constantly told how intelligent and clever she is, and yet she fails to solve, like, any of the riddles or clues that are left for her - or, if she does solve them, she does it too late for them to be of any use.
And, even worse than that, when she's point blank told to do something - like to gather certain people together - she constantly dithers about it. Well, it's dark. Well, it's raining. Well, there's this other stuff going on and I just can't spare an hour away from the people I need to take care of because, of course, that's my main role as a woman.
Never-fucking-mind that it's about the end of the world and something you could actually DO to maybe help that NOT HAPPEN!
Where was I?
Oh, yes. One character which becomes rather interesting in this final installment is Lady Shayde, but I can't say too much without giving things away.
That said, it wasn't a bad book - just disappointing... but, then, my expectations were set rather high after the first book, which I really enjoyed, and even though the second was more lackluster I had held out hope for a spectacular finish and just, well... didn't get it.
But it does tie things up - a bit too neatly, at times - and there are still moments that are exciting or touching or interesting and whatnot.
I did read the whole 718 pages of it in just a touch over a week - and that's including a busy week full of rehearsals and family parties and things - so it doesn't really drag, for all that.
It's just that I think it could be so much better than it was, and that always leaves me feeling a bit sad... But I don't hate it, by a long shot, and still do have some fond thoughts of it, regardless, so it can't be all bad. :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
On one hand, I continue to feel that Lila is a relatable and likable character, and there were real moments of pathos...more3.5
I'm sort of torn on this book.
On one hand, I continue to feel that Lila is a relatable and likable character, and there were real moments of pathos and complexity going on. But, on the other, her constant self recriminations and doubts and everything else seem to bog down the story because despite everything that happens it seems like it's the same notes that get played over and over again. (I never felt bored, per se, but there were a few times where I did think we could move along already.)
And then when things did move along they moved along very quickly, and I sometimes had a hard time following what was going on. Part of this is because there's been a 2 1/2 year gap since I read the last book and I'd forgotten a lot of the details. While Robson does a good job and slipping in little reminders of things that happened, I still felt like I was missing a lot of what I was supposed to know.
And then more things kept getting added to the pile of things to keep straight. New characters and philosophies and revelations, oh my. (And there was some of that whole "it would all make so much more sense if the people who generally knew what was going on would actually explain in instead of playing all coy and mysterious", which I generally hate as a plot device, but I let some of it slide in the whole "well, it's in the nature of things elven and faerie to be mysterious bastards", but, still... )
And then everything sort of happened at once and while I was ultimately satisfied with the conclusion (though I thought the epilogue was a bit hokey), I didn't feel as connected to the characters and the story as I did in the beginning.
So it's like on one hand I'm walking away feeling a bit disappointed by the whole thing but, on the other hand, I kind of actually enjoyed it.
Like I said - torn.
One thing is for certain - I definitely want to read this whole series, back to front, at some point in the future. It'll probably be a few years or so before I get to it, but I do think it'll help me not feel so lost half the damn time and I think that could make the experience infinitely more enjoyable. (less)