The rating for this book may suffer a bit from comparison. I first came across this book while browsing Valentine's page after being mesmerizing by MeThe rating for this book may suffer a bit from comparison. I first came across this book while browsing Valentine's page after being mesmerizing by Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti. Of the books on the page, this jumped out at me because I have something of a fascinating with flappers and the 20s, and also with fairy tale retellings. But this book just didn't quite have the same magic as the first, for me - thus the comparison thing.
It is told in a similar style, which I think really works for the fairy tale aspect. It sort of goes back and forth in time, with little references to things that happen, which get fleshed out a bit down the line.
I did think it captured the essence of the 112 Dancing Princesses story well, while offering a unique twist on the tale and making the girls much more sympathetic than their Grimm counterparts.
It also captures the flapper spirit fairly well - but I would definitely mark this more as a fairy tale than a historical fiction. I mean, it has the speakeasies and dancing and fashion and whatnot, the raids and the sort of complicit cops and all that, but it still sort of felt more like window dressing than entirely being immersed in the culture. Part of this is because of the girls strange situation with their father, but I think part of it is because it is more about the girls and the Roaring 20s offers a good background for the story - and the suffrage movement and women looking for more rights and freedoms certainly does mesh well with the story of 12 daughters locked away by their disappointed father.
The bulk of this story is told from Jo's perspective - the eldest daughter and 'General' of the others, who lives in a strange middle ground of trying to protect her sisters from their father, but also having to sort of enforce his edicts. As much as the story is about all the sisters, it focuses most heavily on her own precarious position, of trying to walk that line of mother and sister and go-between, and of finding her own voice and her own place in the world.
We do see some of the other sisters' perspectives, but only snippets, and I think I would've liked to learn a bit more about them. It was hard to keep them straight in my head, especially towards the beginning, precisely because we mostly see them through Jo's perspective - so we learn more about those closest to her in age - and the others, for much of the book, are sort of defined by one overall descriptor.
The story started a bit slowly, but really picked up a bit more than halfway through. I will say that I really felt for Jo and the girls at parts in the story, especially for what Jo did for Lou. That was kind of heart breaking. And their father was such an ass, he made me so mad.
But I'm glad that, at the end of the day, everything seemed to work out - but I wished there was just a little more closure at the end. If felt like it ended kind of abrsuptly, especially fter belaboring certain parts that I felt could've gone a bit faster.
I either have the omnibus or the complete edition - depending on how you look at it, since, apparently, the story was originally written as one bo3.75
I either have the omnibus or the complete edition - depending on how you look at it, since, apparently, the story was originally written as one book, but the publisher released it as two. And the fact that the omnibus/complete edition has the same name as the first book of the duology makes it delightfully confusing to talk about!
I wasn't all that impressed with the first part of the book. The blrub makes it sounds much more action-packed and interesting than it actually is, since our heroine seems to spend half the time passed out, and the rest of the time being really stupid.
Basically, she does something stupid which ends up getting her caught by the enemy. She is rescued/escapes, trudges around for awhile, does something stupid, gets caught against, gets rescued/escapes again... rinse, wash, repeat.
She's also willful to a fault, and often (dis)misses things because she's unwilling to see anything for any perspective other than her own.
Which brings me to the fact that, when the story starts, we're sort of dropped in shortly before war, have a lot of names and places thrown at us, but there's nothing to really connect you with these characters or even let us know that they're in the right. It's like we're meant to root for the protagonists because they're the protagonists, but we're not really given any real reason why we should.
(This actually plays a bit of a role in how the story unfolds, but I had a really hard time following along at first because it was slow and boring, and I was like, "Meh, who are these people?")
The ending did pick up some, though, and I was considering bumping my 2-stars up to, maybe, a 2.5.
When I got to the end of Part One I considered putting the book down for awhile (and, actually, I'd considered just bailing entirely earlier on).
But by the end of Part 2 I was really glad I kept on, because, wow, major difference.
Mel is still stubborn to the point of foolishness, and even Bran irritated me more in this story than he did in the first... but Vindaric was great, and Nee was pretty cool, too.
I think maybe I just favor the court politics and intrigue and romance. Or maybe it's because Mel does actually manage some character growth by the end (though it's a hard road to get there).
But by the end of the story it went from being a book I'd almost bailed on to, perhaps, my second or third favorite book of the year. (Ok, the year is young, but, still...)
Really slow beginning, frustrating and often boring first half, but really enjoyable second part - despite Mel's more annoying characteristics. ...more
Sometimes you like a book almost despite yourself, and this is sort of one of those books for me. I almost feel like I should put it on my guilty pleaSometimes you like a book almost despite yourself, and this is sort of one of those books for me. I almost feel like I should put it on my guilty pleasures shelf. Almost.
A few months after the events of the first book, we find Ceony still an apprentice to Emery Thane with the confession she made in the first book still hovering over them, while Ceony longs for the future she saw in the box to come to pass. (And she's very impatient.)
She spends far too much of this book mooning over Emery, and trying to decipher his every touch and word for hidden meaning. Of course, it's one of those things where she's the only one wondering...
I will say I was kind of amused when the author hung multiple lampshades, both about the speed with which Ceony fell for Emery, and the mooning. Oftentimes this sort of thing might annoy me, but I sort of appreciated the lampshading and even wondered if it was in response to reader reception to the first book at all.
Aside from the mooning, the main story is that two of Lira's compatriots are hunting Ceony and Emery, but for their own ends, and they will stop at nothing to get what they want, threatening not only Ceony, but her family and friends as well.
Of course, Ceony, feeling responsible, decides to try and take on Grath herself - and this is when she comes perilously close to TSTL territory. (Actually, I might be being generous, 'cause she probably went right over the line.)
Of course, the people in charge are partly to blame, too, because they do the ever popular "we're going to ignore your personality type entirely and try and lock you away someplace for your own safety instead of letting you help or keeping you involved in any way, even though it would be much smarter for us to at least let you think you're helping without putting you directly in harms way" thing.
And this is what I mean for almost liking it despite myself, because these are things that, in a different book, I might rage against.
But there's something about these books, and the way that they're written, that pulls me along and gets me all invested and along for the ride. I love the character of Emery, and I even like Ceony, when I'm not wanting to shake some sense into her. I was a pity to (view spoiler)[developed Delilah just to kill her off, though. (hide spoiler)]
I missed Fennel in this story, though. He was a great part of the first book, and I was sad to see so little of him in this one.
Despite it's issues, and I won't pretend it doesn't have any, I have really enjoyed these books, and look forward to the next. I'm only sorry that it's the final in 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"]>...more
This is my first "true" 4-star of the year - so yay!
On one level, I can't really explain why this book worked for me. There are some issues with it -This is my first "true" 4-star of the year - so yay!
On one level, I can't really explain why this book worked for me. There are some issues with it - specifically dealing with the magic system and the setting.
The magic system is very loosely defined, and there's a lot of hand wavium going on, specifically of the "A Wizard Did It" variety - but I'm more of a character/story based reader, and can take a lot of magical stuff for granted.
To the setting, it takes place in some sort of historical England - I forget exactly when - but aside from a few random references, this isn't really a strong focus of the story. It does have a distinct period feel, in a way, just not of a particular period or an actual place. (It could just as easily be "pseudo-Regency fantasy realm number 5" - and, in a way, I think it would be better if it were.)
But, that said, I just liked this story. I liked Ceony, even if she was a bit slow sometimes, and I really liked Thane.
Ok - one more gripe about the slowness, and this, for me, was the biggest issue.
We're racing against the clock, life is on the line, and yet we keep getting sidetracked. We keep telling ourselves "we really need to move along - the clock is ticking!", but we still keep getting sidetracked.
I mean, I know it's just one of those things... on one hand we want the suspense of the ticking clock, but, on the other hand, there's things the author wants us to see... but it got a bit tiresome at times, and the middle part did start dragging a bit.
But the other problem was how slow Ceony was about what was going on. She's got a near perfect memory, is effing brilliant at her studies, and yet it takes her aeons to figure out that the memories are not going to interact with you. (Speaking of, Ceony is perhaps a bit *too* perfect, and wavers close to Mary Sue territory, but since a lot of the focus was actually on Thane, I was able to get past most of it.)
Even Harry Potter was quicker in the diary, and I thought he was a bit thick!
Where was I?
Oh, yes. I liked the characters, especially Thane, and I liked the bit with the heart - the way it was portrayed both literally and figuratively, and how the chambers of the heart were tied to different emotions. I thought that was really cool.
And I thought it was an interesting way to present backstory - a sort of non-flashback flashback trick.
As I said, I did think it wavered a bit in the middle, as we got a touch more backstory than was really needed to establish what we were trying to establish... but, other than that, I thought it was a well paced book.
Oh - I also liked the little Wizard of Oz touches/homages. The dog was awesome.
And I liked the romance, even if it was a bit rushed.
Overall, this is one of those books that I'm not sure I could run around and recommend to everyone, but, for me, it hit that sweet spot that I'd been longing to scratch.
I promptly went home and bought the next in the series, and I would've bought the whole trilogy, but the third book's not out yet. *pouts*...more
This book had a slow start, and a whiny protagonist. He spends most of the book lamenting that he doesn't have a cooler/more active power, like sup2.5
This book had a slow start, and a whiny protagonist. He spends most of the book lamenting that he doesn't have a cooler/more active power, like super strength or super speed, and, instead, has super senses - like sight, hearing, etc.
I can't blame just him, though, because even the head of the department of sidekicks (or whatever) also seems to sort of undervalue his powers. I mean, he does work on improving and expanding them, but no one really seems to know how to use them to the fullest - i.e. as one freaking kickass spy!
There are several times throughout the book where they're trying to figure out where people are, and I'm like, "Why do they never think to use this kid like a sniffer dog?"
Also, I understand that he's also learned how to turn off his sense, because they'd be overwhelming otherwise, by the number of times he's snuck up on and whatnot is pretty effing ridiculous all things considered.
But it's not just his powers that's the problem. There's also the fact that his Super has bailed on being a Super, and they're kinda using this kid as a last ditch effort to get him to sober and Super up again.
He also has an "antagonistic" relationship with another sidekick - whose main "failing" seems to be that he's strong and handsome and that his female friend seems to be into him. (i.e. a major case of "I hate you because I want to be you" syndrome.)
And, of course, his jealousy and anger also gets directed as said female friend, because he wants to be more than friends but she doesn't, or isn't sure if she does, and of course those chicks have to pick the jocks, right?
So, anyway -
That aside, the story did pick up by the end and it was entertaining enough. I even considered bumping it up to three at one point.
But then we find out the 'cause of his Super's depression and withdrawal, and it's the most cliche thing ever. (view spoiler)[He accidentally killed someone he was trying to stop, and so now he just can't fight the good fight anymore.
I was doubly irritated that it seemed to be not just the fact he killed her, but the fact that she was a her. The teenage daughter of the main villain.
And, of course, the main villain is all revenge bound - because, ya know, it's not his fault that he involved his teenage daughter in his villainy. No. Of course not. It's the hero's fault that she got killed. (hide spoiler)]
Lastly, the story tries to introduce some moral shades of grey, and whether the ends ever justifies the means, and all that good stuff - but, unfortunately, the ends are so selfish and shortsighted and the means so not ok, that you have to wonder how someone who seems to be a relatively decent and intelligent person could really fall for the claptrap.
The writing itself, once it gets going, isn't bad, and the story's ok if you aren't annoyed by... all the things that annoyed me.
Anyway - it was more serious, and darker, than I expected going in. I was expecting something pretty light and silly. But it also seems like it wanted to be a sort of deconstruction, but ends up being all too familiar in most ways.
I'm sort of ambivalent about continuing the series. I won't say never, but I'm not exactly keen on it, either.
I did enjoy this conclusion to the story, though not quite as much as the first. (I rated them both 3.5, ultimately, but bumped the first up to 4,3.5
I did enjoy this conclusion to the story, though not quite as much as the first. (I rated them both 3.5, ultimately, but bumped the first up to 4, and this one down to 3.)
Also - it seems this was originally written as one book and then broken into two, so this is definitely a series where you want to have both books on hand. And, honestly, I don't think that they're that long and they're such quick reads that I think they could've easily been kept as one book. I want to say it was broken up because of this idea that YA books can't be over a certain length, and not just as a money grab - but it's only be around 600 pages.
As such, this book picks up pretty much immediately where the first leaves off, with Naji and Ananna trapped on the island. This is pretty much a quest type story, travelling from one place to another in an attempt to fulfill the tasks to break the curse, gathering friends and allies along the way - including the return of Marjani, a manticore, and some other strange beings that pop up along the way.
Of course, they also have to contend with the Hariris, the Order, the Mists, and various other impediments.
I'm not sure how I feel about the third task. It was kinda cool and interesting, but I also felt like it was almost a bit of a cheat...
Anyway, I suppose the real focus is mainly the romance, watching Naji and Ananna dance around each other for chapters upon chapters. I started to get a bit tired of Ananna's "nobody can love me" schtick, and the way she kept pushing everybody away and not listening to anyone, though, of course, Naji was pretty stupid, too.
I was glad when some shit finally got resolved, but I'm not sure how I feel about the ending - and I think it's, ultimately, the reason why this was bumped down to a 3. It did seem fitting, and I didn't hate it, but I couldn't help but feel just a bit melancholy at the bittersweet nature of it.
Also, I felt like some things were left kind of hanging. Like the issue with Naji's magic. I mean, there's the whole thing about how (view spoiler)[his emotions effect his magic, to the point where his mixed up feelings for Ananna leaves her vulnerable, and this is sort of given as one reason why he keeps her at a distance - but then when he finally gives in, his magic doesn't seem overly effected, and he's pulling down the wind left and right and all that. Also, he has to go back to work for the Order, but how will his magic be effected when he and Ananna are separated? (hide spoiler)] That's one plot-point that was brought up and then sort of just forgotten or ignored for the rest of the book, so that was annoying.
Overall, though -
This book is kinda fluff - a romantic quest story - but I liked the characters, mostly, and it was definitely entertaining enough for me to get swept up in the story. I may have to buy myself a copy, as I can see this being a reread in the future.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A Kat, Incorrigible novella, it picks up the story 5 years after the last book, with Kat now being 18 and having her debut - much to her chagrin.
But,A Kat, Incorrigible novella, it picks up the story 5 years after the last book, with Kat now being 18 and having her debut - much to her chagrin.
But, of course, the story being what it is, at her first ball she's also on a Guardian mission with three other Guardians, including Alexander, he of the (view spoiler)[fleeting kiss (hide spoiler)].
It was nice to see Kat still being Kat, but a bit older and wiser and able to hold her tongue a bit more. (Though, honestly, her family would drive me batty, too.)
There's a lot about the romance in this story, but it was well balanced with the case. Kat would often find her thoughts straying, and then mentally shake herself to stop with the nonsense and focus.
It was the perfect length of story. It was long enough that it didn't feel rushed, but a longer story would've either fleshed things out more - which could've been good - or just dragged things out more - which would've been bad. As is, it works nicely as wrapping up some threads lefts from the last book, and showing us the woman Kat might grow into.
(As a side note, though, I don't like the cover. It doesn't fit with the drawn versions of the rest of the series, and is too generic.)
The author said she might write more novellas in Kat's world, and I really hope she does. While on one hand the story is in a good place to end, on the other hand I always enjoy a quick romp with Kat, and look forward to their being more to come.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
First and foremost I want to say that I did like this book. IT's a solid three - and while I sort of hoped for more, I did still like it. I like the iFirst and foremost I want to say that I did like this book. IT's a solid three - and while I sort of hoped for more, I did still like it. I like the idea of the world and I love Morpheus... and it's a guilty pleasure kind of book, but I did like it.
I even didn't mind the ending - it's kind of (view spoiler)[Persephone-esque (hide spoiler)] - and it's certainly been set up since at least book 2 that Alyssa belonged to both worlds.
I felt the need to start off with that because, from this point on, there will be almost nothing but complaints.
It might also be a bit spoilery, but I'm gonna try to avoid any major plot points... but do consider yourself duly warned.
My gods, this book/series could've been so much better if it didn't fall into the trap of focusing on the love triangle. I mean, as far as love triangles go I do appreciate that this one made a sort of sense, the boys representing the two halves of Alyssa's life and heritage... but we have a unique Wonderland to explore, and battles to fight, and yet most of the story *still* focused on Alyssa's backing and forthing and on the boys posturing and jealousies.
And in this story we have yet another man getting in the way. Sorry, Alyssa's dad. I know you're her dad and want to protect her and all, but I got so tired of the constant wanting to protect Alyssa from everyone through the whole story and not letting her be more proactive. (Lords know she dithers enough on her own - when she finally wants to act, she's stymied!)
I think that's actually one reason why I really liked Morpheus. For all his faults and manipulations, he at least trusted Alyssa to step up and take care of things, and didn't constantly shunt her to the side so the menfolk could protect her.
Speaking of manipulations, though, it was another story where a lot of the drama is fostered on the fact that everyone is keeping secrets and doing things on their own, which just causes more confusion and consternation, and, honestly, when you're fighting for your lives there's got to come a time where you put aside your hurt feelings for the time being and work together.
My last big complaint is related to the aforementioned shunting - Alyssa doesn't actually *do* much.
The beginning had promised. She had finally come to some resolution and peace within herself concerning her dual nature, and she was ready to act. But then came dad and more doubts and dithering. And then came Jeb and more doubts and dithering. And then battles happen, but Alyssa's not there, because she's being protected. And then, even in the battle between her and Red, she didn't really have a lot of chance to be proactive.
Speaking of the battle between her and Red - talk about anti-climax. I mean, it's built up to be this huge thing, and then it seemed far too easily and over too quickly. And I understand why the boys had to (view spoiler)[keep Alyssa in the dark about the plan, I do - but it still irked me that, yet again, Alyssa was prevented from being the heroine of her own story. (hide spoiler)]
And then, once again, after the battle, Alyssa is home asleep while (view spoiler)[Jeb, imbued with some power of Wonderland's regency, goes about and helps fix Wonderland with Morpheus! (hide spoiler)] Even that is taken away from her.
And the whole book seemed to be more focused on the boys learning to work together than it was about Alyssa being freaking Queen!
So, yes, the book vexed me. I couldn't get past what I felt the book could've been, and I was really irritated that Alyssa kept sort of being shunted to the side in her own story.
But, as I said, I like the world, I like Morpheus, I like the magic and the madness, and I like the writing style. And, honestly, the fact that the style "clicked" for me was sort of its saving grave, 'cause gods know it wasn't the story and the pointless and overly manufactured sturm und drang!["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"]>...more
I also really liked the power found in Courtney's angsty poetry. Seems really fitting, and makes me think of my own forays into the field. ^_^
I'll definitely miss these characters and this series, but luckily I own all the pretty colored copies with their pretty hardback covers, so I'll be able to reread to my heart's content.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
When I first saw this book I thought it sounded so ridiculous, I knew I had to read it. (Yeah, that's just how I roll.)
It's actually played straigh3.5
When I first saw this book I thought it sounded so ridiculous, I knew I had to read it. (Yeah, that's just how I roll.)
It's actually played straighter than I expected, and is a bit dark in places - but never past the YA threshold, I don't think. (The blurb and author interviews sort of note that it follows more the original story, which has some darkness to it, too, but I've never read the original - I only know the Disney version. (Well, and the Fables version.) The story does start with a quick synopsis of the original, though, which is cool.)
There are still quite a few laughs, though - lots of one-liners, some sight gags, puns, and even some witty banter. The characters are pretty well drawn (pun not originally intended), and the pacing is good.
To the art - it's kind of interesting to have this complete edition, because you can clearly show the development of the art style from the first book to the last.
The first book is much rougher, and blockier, and the shading thicker and less precise. It works pretty well for the tone of the story - but some of the characters, especially secondary ones, are hard to differentiate.
By the end, there's much more detail and depth, the characters are more recognizable, and it's just a huge improvement overall.
The middle is, as one might expect, an awkward transition between the two. Pinocchio, especially, in human form looks really jacked up in this middle section - but is much better in the last section.
Lastly, the ending was a little surprising, but fitting, and I give props to the authors for not going trite.
A fun read, and I have no regrets for shelling out the cash for it (which is a rarity for me these days)....more
I liked this one a bit more than the first, but I'm not sure if that's because the adaptations or better, or just because I like these stories bett3.5
I liked this one a bit more than the first, but I'm not sure if that's because the adaptations or better, or just because I like these stories better.
That said, I wasn't in love with the almost-realistic-but-not art of the second story, and the last story didn't have the same emotional punch as when I read it. (Not sure if this is because of what it loses in removing prose, or just because I knew it as coming.)
Overall, this is probably one of the better GN adaptations of a book I've read, but I think I'll stick with the prose book for my next reread.
(Also, this could seriously have been released as one book. I can't help but feel breaking it into two volumes is something of a money grab - but, then, I got them from the library, so no skin off my nose, I guess. That said, I'd probably buy the book to have it if it is one instead of two.)...more
I enjoyed this book well enough, but I didn't like it as much as the previous installment of the series. Overall, this story just had far too much2.75
I enjoyed this book well enough, but I didn't like it as much as the previous installment of the series. Overall, this story just had far too much love-triangle angsty stuff going on, and both Soap and Felix was overly insufferable and possessive.
I did like that the ending seems to have resolved this issue, and finally forced Sophronia to deal with feelings she was running away from, but I still felt that far too much of the book focused on the relationship angle.
I also missed the various goings on at the school, since precious little of this story actually takes place at the school. Much of the story is about trying to get Sidheag to Scotland where a crises is going on with her pack - a crises which those who have read Parasol Protectorate already know a little something about.
Of course it is left to Sophronia to take charge.
I was a bit conflicted about the portrayal of Sidheag. (view spoiler)[While I did like that we saw a more vulnerable and emotional side to her, I didn't like that she basically became a useless mess when things went badly. This, to me, is not the girl who eventually becomes the alpha of her pack, and not the woman who, even before her transformation, is able to keep a rowdy bunch of werewolves in line. Granted, this is a younger Sidheag, but she's always been a version of the gruff, no-nonsense woman we know from PP. Anyway - it's one thing to break down and then pull yourself together again to do what's necessary, and it's another entirely to break down so completely that you're incapable of dealing with anything. Yes, I know this is, ultimately, Sophronia's story and so she must be in charge... but, still... (hide spoiler)]
Of course the story can't just be about dodging teachers and racing to Scotland, so the erstwhile group must also stumble into the middle of malfunctioning mechanicals, sabotage and continued hostilities between the vampires and Picklemen - though, by the end I kept wondering if it wouldn't be better if Sophronia just stayed out of the espionage business, because, despite what we're told, I'm not sure she's actually very good at it. (And they got so sidetracked, they never did get Sidheag to Scotland.)
The highlights of the story were: 1) the weaponized fan, as per the cover and 2) the lesson of seduction while they were still at school, and the reaction of the girls as they learned a shocking thing or two.
As a side note: It's important to remember the details for this series. They kept referencing specifics from the prior book which I couldn't recall, and while they gave some hints it took me awhile to really put the pieces together enough to remember what had happened.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So, I think the flipped table pretty much sums up my feelings, but I figure I out to give an explanation.
First off let me say that I wasn't1.5
So, I think the flipped table pretty much sums up my feelings, but I figure I out to give an explanation.
First off let me say that I wasn't in love with the first book, but I was interested enough, and curious enough, to continue. The first book did have some tense bits, and quite a few unanswered questions which I was hoping would be addressed in the follow-up.
Well, some of them were answered, but I found myself wishing I could go back and leave them open instead, 'cause I sort of hated the answers - as you might be able to tell from the whole table flipping thing.
In brief, this book was a hot mess. I felt like it was trying to put in as many "scary" things as possible, whether or not it made any sense to do so.
The creepy carnival aspect, for instance, was not nearly as part of the story as the blurb might lead you to believe, and I'm not convinced it was necessary at all. The only reason it's there is to serve as an introduction of (view spoiler)[the young warden to hypnosis (hide spoiler)], but there were other ways that could've happened.
And yet, despite it playing so minor a role, we encounter several carnival photos throughout the book, from various sources, and it seemed mostly an excuse for Roux to include the photos.
(Which, speaking of, the photos in general felt more out of place in this book. In the first book the photos served the story pretty well, but in this one I got the distinct feeling Roux had found photos first, and then tried to write them into the story in often convoluted and nonsensical ways.)
In addition to the carnival, there's a secret society with creepy masks and rituals, and we're meant to be left unsure of who to trust, but it's pretty freaking obvious from page 1 who's who.
(Ok, that might not be entirely fair. Maybe page 10.)
And, lastly, there's the whole mind-control/brainwashing/CIA thing going on (which, in fairness, is connected to the secret society thing, but, again, seemed an entirely irrelevant side point).
The characters were meh in this installment, losing what little life and personality they had from the first book, and, as I said, the new characters were painfully predictable. The "romance" between Dan and Abby seemed even more forced and pointless. (Of course, part of this is that they don't seem to really have anything in common, and I'm not sure, aside from Dan's sorta insta-love in the first book 'cause Abby's hot, what is drawing them together at all. I mean, yeah, there's the surviving crazy shit together thing, but this does not seem for real relationship make.)
The pacing was off, and while there were a few tense moments (thus the half star), most of it was pretty boring and plodding. I know several reviews who agree with some of my points still loved the ending, but I wasn't impressed with that, either.
But, of course, by then I was more focused on how stupid everything was, and how disappointed I was that a seeming ghost story had become something more psychologically oriented - and in such a stupid way, to boot.
And, unfortunately, I can't really get into it without getting into spoilers, so...
*** SPOILERS ***
So, we find out that the Warden wasn't obsessed with curing his patients, even via unconventional means, but that the "real story" is that he wanted to control them via a combination of drug therapy, hypnosis(!), and, if that fails, surgery (i.e. lobotomies).
(view spoiler)[Yes, he wanted to control the perfect brain-washed soldiers - and, in fact, managed to hypnotize Reyes, the villain of these books, who, in turn, seemed to have most of the town under her sway.
Yes. The entirety of the town that we see are all under her sway - doing things, up to and including killing people, including their own people - and against their will.
Because that's how hypnosis works, of course.
But, then again, there is that magical amulet that the Warden got from the carnival hypnotist - thus the tenuous carnival aspect.
And Reyes lures Dan and Co back to town, and puts on a Carnival, to try and jog his "memories"* because she thinks he'll figure out the trick to breaking the hypnosis that she couldn't figure out.
Because of his connection to the Warden.
Because, apparently, Dan can be hypnotized to have the memories of another fucking person, because they're blood related.
Jordan and Abby and Felix and Dan were all hypnotized in the first book, which explains some of their odd behavior (and, theoretically, also why this behavior is never called out and just completely dropped as a plot point, as well).
And, apparently, there's a password - one single word, when said out loud, breaks the hypnosis... which, while not a completely common word, is still, somehow, a word that no one in this town had ever heard said out loud in all this time.
(By the way, I'm presuming the "said out loud" part, because that would explain why reading it didn't break the hypnosis on Dan or Abby, though it's never explicitly stated.)
Also, Reyes is an idiot.
For one, she wants to know this word to break the hypnosis on her - but doesn't consider that other people are in the room whom she has hypnotized and once this word is uttered their hypnosis will also break, which could put her in a world of danger, since these people are not going to be too pleased with her.
Also, she somehow managed to hypnotize Dan into having someone else's memories, and forcing him to hold a knife to his own throat and even break skin (iirc), but she doesn't just hypnotize him to a) not work against her and b) just answer her fucking questions?
I mean, she does make it so that he can't hurt her - so why not just take it the extra step and make it so he doesn't constantly fight against her? That does seem to b within her repertoire.
Of course, Dan doesn't know the secret word and couldn't give it, anyway, but it still makes no sense for her to leave him with the free will to fight her mentally, if not physically. (You could argue that hypnosis can only do so much, and normally I'd agree with you - but, then again, the ENTIRE FUCKING TOWN!) (hide spoiler)]
So, yeah, what started off as a potentially decent ghost story, though without the greatest of writing, turned into complete and utter drivel.
This is easily the most angry I've been at a book this year, which I believe wins this book the dubious honor of being my Worst Book of the Year.
(And don't ask me why I wrote out, and bolded, the word "spoilers" only to then haphazardly use the spoiler tag. I don't know. It makes no sense. Nothing makes sense any more... this book has broken my brain.)["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I decided to go 1, because I didn't like it. The best thing I can say about it, really, is that it was short. I wDebating between 1 and 2 stars...
I decided to go 1, because I didn't like it. The best thing I can say about it, really, is that it was short. I will say 1.5, though, because I usually reserve 1s for books I just completely hate, and this didn't even annoy me enough to make me hate it - it was just stupid.
Basically, it takes a ton of horror story cliches - the ubiquitous Old Ones from another dimension wanting back in, the crazy villagers wanting to let them, performances of the Black Mass, which seemed to consist of saying the Our Father backwards - and couples this with cardboard characters, insipid writing, and corny dialogue.
It's like a bad B-horror movie, but without the charm to make it "so bad it's good", so it's left just being "so bad it's mediocre" which is just completely bad.
There were a few questions I was left with - like why does it have to be 4 boys and 1 girl who saves the universe? I'm sure - well, I would hope - that that would be explained in some future installment, since there are 5 books and we only meet Matt in this one. I, however, will never get that answer being as I will not continue the series.
My biggest question, though, was why the ritual for summoning the Old Ones at Raven's Gate - allegedly the first stone circle, thousands and thousands of years old, containing the purest ancient evil, of which the Christian devil and demons are but pale shadows - is a Black Mass, i.e. a perversion of a Christian ritual.
In other words, why make it an anti-Christian ritual that summons up creatures older than time at circles older than Christianity?
I'm betting there's not really an answer to this, and it just goes back to the "grab bag of horror cliches" thing, with no real rhyme or reason.
A decent sequel/conclusion(?) to Malice, though it seemed to lose most of it's horror vibe and go for straight on action-quest story, which is cool anA decent sequel/conclusion(?) to Malice, though it seemed to lose most of it's horror vibe and go for straight on action-quest story, which is cool and all, but I was hoping for more of the atmospheric stuff from the first book.
The characters didn't really develop much at all, either, and sometimes annoyed me with their myopia, especially Seth. And there was a new character added which seemed kind of weirdly put into the story. I thought she'd play a larger role, though she did end being kind of important.
I would definitely place this on the lower end of the YA spectrum, maybe even the high end of the MG one. Even when it was being scary it wasn't anything that kids couldn't handle. A decent story, and I'll probably read the continuation, if there ever is one. I've heard there might be, and the story, while wrapped up enough, definitely leaves room for more....more
Had to think a bit how to rate this. For much of the book I was thinking 2-stars, because it just wasn't grabbing me, but after the 65% mark it pic2.5
Had to think a bit how to rate this. For much of the book I was thinking 2-stars, because it just wasn't grabbing me, but after the 65% mark it picked up and started getting interesting and kinda twisty. It was building up good for awhile - but I don't know how I feel about that ending.
I totally guessed the (view spoiler)[Felix (hide spoiler)] thing and suspected (view spoiler)[Reyes (hide spoiler)], so there wasn't much surprise there, and the confrontation in the basement was kind of hokey. On the other hand, it's kind of tantalizingly open-ended, which an interesting hook to pull you into the next book...
I think I'll go 3, but it's a low 3... like 2.5ish.
One thing that's really bugging me, though, is the way things were sort of just dropped. Like the whole thing with Jordan and the math equation. I sort of guess it's gonna be picked up again in the next book, maybe, but, if not, then it's just really sloppy. Hell, maybe it's sloppy anyway.
So, anyway -
Slow start, and iffy writing. Lots of "he did this, and went there, and felt freaked, and that happened" and not a lot of real atmospheric tension or anything. The characters were kind of all over the place - but that's sort of on purpose, I think, so, yeah...
Like I said, it did pick up and get tense there for awhile... but I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending. I do feel compelled to put the next book on my to-read list, where I wasn't sure I would continue for awhile, so I guess that's something.
ETA: After further consideration I've decided this book was just too sloppy to get a 3-star. While I have a theory for why the characters were schizo, it's never really addressed in the book and then totally dropped...
So I'm going down to 2, but instead of a low-3 it's a high-2, and I do plan on reading the next in the series to see if any of the dangling bits are addressed.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
For starters, of the 192 pages of the book, only 100 were actually dedicated to Alice at all. The other 92 pages were a prevDisappointed in this one.
For starters, of the 192 pages of the book, only 100 were actually dedicated to Alice at all. The other 92 pages were a preview, or something, of an entirely different series (whose name I forget but which is a similar type of game to the Alice story).
Of those 100 pages, only, like, 60 were dedicated to Nightmare. The rest of those pages were short vignettes - one with Peter (ew) and another with the Twins.
None of these stories felt complete, not even the Nightmare one. I didn't feel like there was any real character or relationship development, and not even any kind of satisfying ending - they all sort of just ended.
Also, some of the artwork was kinda borked. Not nearly the same quality as previous installments.
I sorta felt like they just wanted to get this one out, and didn't really care about the quality at all. It's sort of soured me on buying more of the series....more
Charles de Lint is one of those names that I hear time and time again, often with lots of praise, but I've just never been entirely enthralled with2.5
Charles de Lint is one of those names that I hear time and time again, often with lots of praise, but I've just never been entirely enthralled with any of his books I've tried to read - and this is no exception.
And it's a shame, because there's a lot of potential for a great story here.
There were things I liked about it. The idea of the story, and the mixture of cultures is really interesting. It was cool to see non-Anglo-Saxon cultures presented for a change in a story set in America, and the way the Medicine and Chinese philosophies and magics were discussed and how they were different and how they overlapped was interesting.
But the characters were fairly one-dimensional and just really unrealistic. Jay was marginally developed, being the main protagonist and all - but all of the others were just who they were on the surface and there's nothing else really there. But there were also kind of annoying. I mean, we'll have them believe that Jay is a dragon, but they won't believe (view spoiler)[that he doesn't really know how to control his powers or what he's doing? (hide spoiler)] 'Cause, yeah, that's the unrealistic part of his story...
And that's a big problem with the story in general. And so help me, if someone says, "Oh, yeah, 'cause a story in which a boy is part dragon is *so* realistic," I might have to smack someone. Because that's not the problem, obviously. THe program is that the human characters don't act or sound like real people. Part of it is that there's just too much telling, but the biggest issue is the dialogue. The dialogue is just terrible.
There was a stretch of narration where I was starting to get into the story, and then we got to several pages of dialogue where everything just fell apart.
And, honestly, how does someone who has as many books as de Lint has under his belt end up writing such bad dialogue? The mind boggles, it truly does.
So, anyway, condensed version:
There are some really good ideas in this story, and the story, itself, is interesting. The magic seems to be explored well - (I don't want to say "developed", since we are using real cultural systems) - but the execution just ended up taking me out of the story more often than not.
3.5 for the story 1.5 for the writing ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I almost skipped this one, because I knew it would squick me a bit - and not because of the menage aspect as much as the whole fact that the twins2.5
I almost skipped this one, because I knew it would squick me a bit - and not because of the menage aspect as much as the whole fact that the twins are introduced as younger, can mangic their bodies bigger but as still esentially little kids, and even still call Alice 'Big Sis'... so, yeah...
That said, my biggest issue with the book, really, is that only half of it is with the Bloody Twins, and the other half are various shorts - one with Gowland, one with Vivaldi and one with Blood.
I'd like Vivaldi to get her own story. Never really considered Gowland, though.
But I guess I just would've liked the twins to be a bit developed, and they weren't at all - they're pretty much as they are in every other story....more
I gotta say, this finale is pretty damn action packed, with lots of twist and turns. Just when I thought I could plot out the course for the rest o3.5
I gotta say, this finale is pretty damn action packed, with lots of twist and turns. Just when I thought I could plot out the course for the rest of the book, something would throw a bit of a monkey wrench in my thought processes.
It did sort of start off a bit slow for me, but once it got going it was pretty pulse pounding, especially towards the end.
My only real complaint is one I've had for much of the series - there are so many characters, many of them vaguely interchangeable, that it's hard to really get - and stay - emotionally attached, so when things go down, it doesn't always have the gut-punch it could.
Also, speaking of characterizations, I thought Stephanie should've been more sympathetic than she was, but she was often so sort of annoying that it was hard to maintain said sympathy.
There were still some really funny banter bits in the story - my favorites of which I put in the status updates - and these have always been a highlight for me.
Overall, it was a good conclusion to the series - though the weird sort of interstitial epilogue was kind of confusing. I still wished for a bit more character development and focus, but for a more plot-based story, it definitely has its moments. ...more
In the continuing tradition of this being a sort of 'choose your own adventure love interest', we once again visit the Country of Hearts in a versionIn the continuing tradition of this being a sort of 'choose your own adventure love interest', we once again visit the Country of Hearts in a version where Alice ends up with Blood - but on a different course than the original series.
I have to say I like it better than the Country of Hearts ending. This seemed less forced and made a bit more sense. And I do sort of like Alice with Blood - but I still prefer Boris.
Overall, this is a fun, quick little duology that focuses on Wonderland's own Mafia family, but it doesn't add that much new or different from the original series, and actually retreads a lot of the same ground, like discovering that (view spoiler)[Vivaldi is Blood's sister (hide spoiler)].
In a way, I would've preferred this story to have been incorporated in the original 6 books instead of being a separate venue.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
(And it's probably not what you think it might be (if you've read it).)
I liked the first book of this seri(1.5)
(Ranting ahead. You've been warned.)
(And it's probably not what you think it might be (if you've read it).)
I liked the first book of this series. I mean, it wasn't mind blowing or anything, but it was a fun little gothic sort of adventure with an anachronistically spunky heroine, which I appreciate.
I forgave many of the foibles of the second book figuring that it was mostly middle book syndrome. Yes, it took an already loosely defined magic and added to it, but not deepening it, and it added a weird sort of triangle thing, but some of the plotting and pacing seemed typical middle book slogginess and I was prepared to forgive it if it came together in the end.
But this book is a hot mess. And worse, it's kinda boring.
The big bad didn't seem nearly as menacing as he should've - or even as he was in the past - especially since he kept making the Bond villain mistake of leaving people alive for no apparent reason.
I sort of enjoyed the Egyptian stuff, because Egypt, but it also adds to the whole "sprawling magical world without ever really being defined or explained" problem. Instead of deepening the magic and stuff in the world, it just kept adding more stuff to it. It seems like the author has "ooh, shiny" syndrome.
The worst thing, though, for me is the characters.
Several people have pointed out how selfish and willful-to-a-fault Eleanor is - unwilling to listen to other people's perspectives and think that maybe those older and wiser may know a thing or two.
But, honestly, *everyone* was completely set in the belief that their way was right, and Joseph was just as unwilling to listen to Eleanor - except when suddenly he needed to, and all of a sudden it was ok.
I couldn't root for the romance between Daniel and Ellie because, oh my god, can we say dysfunctional? Hot and cold doesn't even begin to cover it. Whenever Ellie does something Daniel disagrees with, he just completely withdraws and freezes her out, even after "confessing" his "love" for her. I mean, that would make for a healthy relationship... I love you, I need you, you're my life... but do something I disagree with, and I'll freak the fuck out like a crazy person... because, hey, love.
Then there's the weird pseudo-triangle with Oliver - who was actually, in some ways, the strongest character in books two and three, but he also suffered from the "I'm going to be mad at you for not knowing things that I didn't tell you!" thing. (Going back to book two, because it was carried over into this book and really annoyed me, the whole (view spoiler)[electricity thing. Ellie asks him to help, and he refuses. He doesn't say why, he just refuses. And for all she knows he's just being difficult... because, you know what, he's fucking difficult a lot!
So, anyway, she forces the issue, so he does it, but then he'll never forgive her because the electricity tore away a piece of his soul.
And, yeah, that sucks... but, ya know what? You could've just fucking said that. "Ellie, don't make me do this because it will tear away a part of my soul!"
And then, yeah, if she still made you do it, then, yeah, you could be majorly pissed. (hide spoiler)]
But, as it stands, you're pissed off at her for not knowing osmething that you could've just fucking told her!
And I feel like this happened a lot. Between everyone.
This book is all wangst and drama and 95% of it could've been avoided if anyone ever talked to each other! (And listened to each other. The listening part is important, too.)
Everyone is just really fucking annoying. They're also the shadows of the characters they were in the first book - and could've become. Jie, a strong presence in the first book, is diminished in the second book and barely existence in the third book. Joseph, too, seems much lessened.
Hell, like I said before, even Marcus seemed lessened.
The plot itself...
After the events of the last book, they have to stop Marcus. They encounter him, things go badly but they survive, he gets away, they chase him, they encounter him, things go badly... so on and so forth. The encounters never really felt very tense, and I can't say I was all that bothered by the big shocking ending.
Part of it might be because I accidentally spoiled myself by glimpsing a scene later on in the book when I was flipping through trying to find my place. Part of it is because I just didn't really care at that point, anyway. It didn't help that (view spoiler)[Daniel didn't really care whether he lived or died, since he valued himself so little, and I couldn't get behind Ellie's sorrow at his loss because, like I said, I couldn't root for them together, anyway.
And speaking of not caring if he lived or died...
The scene where he jumps out of the balloon 'cause he's being tracked? He seriously couldn't take 5 seconds to grab a parachute? It would've served the same damn purpose - i.e. getting the Hounds to follow him.
And it's not like he didn't have time. I mean, Ellie saw him jump out, went to gtab a parachute, put it on, jumped out herself, and still managed to catch up with him, so obviously the parachutes were, like, *right there*.
I guess we're supposed to think he's all heroic and noble, but, really, he's just an idiot. And also kind of selfish. Because you know the other side of not caring if you live or die? It's not caring about how your death will effect those you leave behind.
Yes, there are noble sacrifices where you put someone's life before your own. But there are also selfish ones, and his was definitely more on the selfish side. (hide spoiler)]
So you may be wondering why I gave it a 2 instead of a 1. Honestly, at this point, so am I.
I don't remember actively disliking the book when I finished. I was more disappointed and meh about it than anything. It was only as I started writing that I kind of realized how much of it was actively irritating...
But, whatever. I'll leave the 2 star for now... but I guess I'll consider it more a 1.5.
I'm just going to write one review for this whole arc, because I read them all within a 24 hour time frame, and there's no way I can try and rememberI'm just going to write one review for this whole arc, because I read them all within a 24 hour time frame, and there's no way I can try and remember where one book left off and the next started, so...
This is a companion story to Alice in the Country of Hearts. At the start of this story, instead of Alice choosing someone at the end, it assumes that Alice stayed in Wonderland but hadn't fallen in love. So we're at the end of the Hearts, but with a different ending...
This particular story, as the name suggests, follows the budding relationship between Boris (the Cheshire Cat) and Alice.
It was a cute story, but also frustrating and a bit embarrassing. Frustrating because the represenations of teenage romance are a bit too stereotypical... and embarrassing because I couldn't help but be reminded of my own romantic fumbligns, as it were.
Luckily, though, it's not just the romance stuff, as there's also stuff going down the the Faceless rising up to take on the Hatters, and Alice being used as a pawn in that particular game.
I did like that Alice because a bit more forceful by the end of the story, and I liked this arc because I liked Boris from the first story and think she should've totally ended up with him instead of (view spoiler)[Blood (hide spoiler)] anyway.
And, of course, as they're mangas, they're very quick and addictive. I read all 7 books in this arc in a 24 hour time frame, as I would come to the end of one only to be left with a sort of cliffhanger and get immediately sucked into the next.
Of course, that was also a bit weird because some of the books were half part of the Clover story, and half part of a side-story, which also involved Alice and Boris - but showing the starting of their relationship, which would've happened during Hearts if Hearts had gone that way.
It's not really that hard to follow as long as you understand that Hearts and Clover are all sort of alternate versions of the same story. It's sort of like extended 'choose your own adventure' - which makes sense since it's all based on a video game, anyway, in which you would do just that.
Enjoyable series, though I'm a bit hesitant to read some of the other alternatives since I like Alice with Boris. I'll probably read them anyway, though, 'cause they are pretty addictive.
Definitely gotta go on the guilty pleasures shelf, though. ;) ["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"]>...more