By the summary, it can be accurately guessed what's going to happen. It's a predictable storyline. So it takes talent like Cath Crowley's to take a predictable storyline and turn it into a funny, enjoyable, unique book with great writing and even greater characters.
I liked the main characters, Lucy and Ed. Lucy had real sass—the kind country grandfathers tend to find charming, but she didn't come off as aloof because she had compassion. She was a visionary when it came to art and she was also fearless when it came to standing up for this passion.
Ed was really cool, too. He had a tortured artist's soul, but it didn't come off in this wimpy way. He wasn't this guy who was worldly and just happened to have a crappy life at home. Ed was the opposite: he was real thinker, passionate about art and actually had a good family situation with his mom. His bitter view on life ran deep. This believability really came off true.
The minor characters were also fantastic. They really added a great flavor to the book.
Cath Crowley writes these characters in a very real way. It's hard to explain how, but coupled with the atmosphere, the writing, and the humor, it came off as a great package.
The only thing that bothered me was how the chapters overlapped. I don't have a particular preference when it comes to choosing between alternating POV books and one-character POV books, but this really bothered me because Cath Crowley went back into a scene that had already been covered by another character and rewrote half of it in the other character's POV. I wouldn't have minded if it had happened once, but it was like that in most of the chapters.
I loved Cath Crowley's simple, gently sarcastic writing. Bookmarking on my Kindle is godsend because there were a lot of memorable lines.
The moment of clarity doesn't go any further than that because smacking into a tree in the middle of the night will knock clarity right out of a girl, every time.
Every now and then I think he's here because in the dark Ed looks like a shadow that someone else is casting.
Overall, Cath Crowley has the potential to be up there with Melina Marchetta. Her ability to turn around a predictable storyline and add on with incredible backstory will keep me looking for her next books....more
Another inventive and engaging story by Patricia Briggs. I really wish there were more than two books. I think Patricia Briggs could have made a whole short story collection with these characters, as distinctive and loving as they are. A duo, frankly, is just not enough.
With Raven's Strike in particular, however, I must say that I wasn't AS engaged as I was with the first book, Raven's Shadow. The beginning lagged for me, the middle was breathlessly exciting. For the ending, it wasn't that it wasn't thrilling, it's just that it wasn't so compelling as to get me to hurry up and finish it. It did end fantastically though once I read it. I'm really sad to give these characters up.
What compelling characters they are! Combined with Patricia Briggs' envious talent for world building makes me fantasize about hanging out with these characters for a day—or tagging along for their adventures. When characters aren't forced onto the reader, I tend to respond better towards them. No one can present characters like Patricia Briggs.
A fantastic fantasy. And if fantasy isn't your thing and you still want a taste of P.B. awesomeness, check out her urban fantasy/paranormal romance books, the Mercy Thompson series. (It's my favorite adult series.)...more
I read somewhere that Catherine Banner was slated to be the next J.K. Rowling. I’m sure whoever said it had good intentions but I’m left going, Um no. The book was exciting at first because it was different, but soon, the flaws began to stand out. The writing began to show a amateur-istic choppiness. Then, the plot just didn’t make sense and by the end of it, I was left skimming the pages. I wish I had gotten more out of this because I think the idea was clever, but being dragged out over four hundred pages and squandered with raw writing? The idea starts to lose its luster.
The first thing is the writing. It was choppy. But that was all, because even choppiness can be brilliant (look at Maria V. Snyder). It lacked that critical personal element that makes the readers care about the characters. When tragedy hits halfway through the story, I’m left feeling sympathetic because it’s sad by nature, but I had no emotional take in it. And Leo’s reaction…It was stretched over the rest of the book—more than two hundred pages of the exact same thing over and over and over and over again. The repetition was just annoying after a while. Then, when the romance came in, I was just like…”Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” There was simply no emotional depth. I just didn’t get it.
The characters didn’t make sense, either. I didn’t like any of them. Not Leo, the main character. Not Grandmother. Not Maria. Maria! That girl had no place in this story.
That was my main issue, right there. Nothing really had a set place. I’m expecting everything to be so Its Own that it can’t be left out without the story falling apart. If it isn’t needed, then I don’t want to read about it. Maria didn’t hold a critical part, neither did her story, which took forever to get out and wasn’t that surprising.
When I pick up a book—especially a fantasy—I’m expecting some type of “tightness” about the plot. Consider Cinda Williams Chima. Her fantasy books—The Demon King and The Exiled Queen—are thick. Over five hundred pages each. Over that considerable amount of length, she doesn’t let anything go to waste. She uses everything. Meaning, something she mentions in the beginning of the story becomes significant later on. All her character’s subplots are critical to the main plot. With Eyes of a King, there was no tightness. With the parallel world aspect, the two plots should have been so tightly bound that you shouldn’t have been able to tell them apart. I feel that the separate stories barely affected each other.
Not only was the plot not tight, but it was cliché. The romance with Ryan, the story with Aldebaran…And the dialogue was poor. The lines of one character could come from any other character. There was no differentiating feature between them.
The writing could have stood for some serious polishing. There’s a difference between describing the rain outside to just describe it versus using the rain as a backdrop and tool to get to the bigger picture. And I think putting it in first person was a mistake. The emotional distance between the reader and the characters was simply accentuated by the use of “I”.
However, there were a few diamonds amongst all the roughness. For example:
There was an atmosphere of disquiet in that strange town. Horses shifted and puffed steam in the damp evening air, and the men who walk around did not talk or smile. There were Malonian flags everywhere, grubby and damp, and they flapped like sickening birds against the buildings.
Excerpted from the hardcover, US edition, page 251.
Overall however, I was just not impressed. I was so excited to read this book because I’d had the name “Catherine Banner” down on my authors-to-investigate list for months and I finally found her book in the library. She apparently started this book when she was fourteen and she was showcased in a prestigious British gallery for inspiring young Britons. But I don’t see the hype. I might pick up the next book because I know how an author’s writing can change as they mature as a writer. (Again, see Cinda Williams Chima.)...more
Could it possibly be? Say what? More enjoyable that The Warrior Heir? Whoa.
I could really see an improvement in Chima’s writing style here. Gone away are the awkward, brittle descriptive actions and instead more emotion is present to back up the prose. I really got into the characters—and was especially glad when I saw the return of most, if not all, of the characters from The Warrior Heir. Chima’s action-packed, intrigue ridden plots keep me riveted from start to finish.
I liked the main character, Seph. He was just a relatable character that had been through hell and back and was still likeable. Sometimes his style of thought and action reminded me a bit of Jack (from The Warrior Heir), but it was subtle and makes sense if you think about it. I mean, they’re boys.
The romance was a bit sudden, but I liked the girl. Her nastiness actually came off pretty well—stubbornness instead of rudeness. I cheered for her all the way. I wish the romance had been set up differently, because it didn’t seem convincing on Seph’s part.
The conclusion? Brilliant. Talk about a fight scene! It was easy to picture and it wasn’t forced—quite clever, too, by how it ended. The plot twist had me reeling!
I love how Cinda Williams Chima writes. She just has this style that works for me as a reader. Her stories are brilliant and her characters are memorable. I love sitting down to a Cinda Williams Chima book....more
Where was this book ten years ago? I know that I would have been all over this. It probably would have given me nightmares, too, but I would have loved this book to pieces. Even now, just shy of an official adult, it really connects with my not-yet-buried side of childhood pleasures. Sometimes I just love a good, out-of-this-world, simple read. And Panjandrum and J.J. Telly really delivered.
At first, it took a bit for me to get into it. It seemed too otherworldly for me to grasp into my werewolf-and-vampire-hardwired mind. The simple pleasure of reading a clever children's story eventually took over however and I disappeared into it hours at a time. There was something compelling about Telly's creative interpretation of the alphabet.
See, the Levels are not just letters as we know, like: P, G, and H. It's phonetically written and it's really clever! So it would go: Pee, Gee, and Haitch. Then there's Eff (F), Ess (S), Que (Q)…Isn't that clever?! The amount of detail that goes into the story is awe inspiring.
I love the descriptions, too. There's something about it that pulled me in. Maybe it was because it was so unlike any style you see today in YA lit.
I loved this passage especially:
And Portentia contained the most wonderful laugh. It was the kind that billowed out like a gale, flooding the room. You could hear this laugh on a muggy, crowded bus and no matter how grumpy you were, the laugh would force you to crack a smile.
It was the kind of laugh that stole your sadness from you, though you didn't feel like you'd lost anything at all. Her laugh was a clever thief Bellamy could respect.
Excerpted from the paperback edition, page 124
Panjandrum is a clever story with likeable characters, a thrilling adventure, chilling subplots, and a detailed setting. I cheered Gelsem and the Parasitic Punks all the way. I seriously needed this ten years ago, though. It would have really spiced up my pitiful literary stack at the time.
This review copy was received in exchange for an honest review....more
The blurb by Nancy Werlin (Impossible) on the back of the ARC edition of this book really said it pretty well in terms of tone: “A surreal little nightmare in book form.” Imaginary Girls files right in there with The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff because it’s as if Nova Ren Suma had a nightmare one night, decided to write it down and just go with it. The setting was deep and creepy, as were the characters. Novels like these stick out for their untraditional way of storytelling, but the distinct differences make them stick out for their brilliance as well.
Imaginary Girls was one of those books that didn’t really have a typical unfolding of events. Nothing is really explained. There’s no handsome hero there to sit you down and say, “This happened because of This and now you have to watch for This, That, and The Other.” So when I finally began to piece together what happened as Chloe did, I got goose bumps. Especially since I wasn’t sure if I was right. Even at the end, I was left thinking that there was a trick and that something would be said in a concrete way. This technique of leaving the reader floundering around for information really adds to the book’s charm.
Also, this incredibly distorted view of sisterhood makes me think, “Who the heck would think of something like this?” Ruby scares me. Seriously. I don’t have any sisters and this almost makes me grateful. I like dedication and loyalty as much as the next person, but Ruby is extreme. It’s creepy. Like something taken off of Criminal Minds. These little things Ruby does that you know she does, yet you don’t have any evidence and you don’t want to believe it…(I think the creepiest thing was the balloons, because it proved that there was something going on with Ruby that Chloe was trying to figure out. But I won’t go into anymore detail because that would be spoiling the story for you…)
I liked how it was set through Chloe’s eyes. She was an honest character who was woefully innocent yet her story was told in this seasoned way, as if told through her unconscious side. The side that knew what was going on. I don’t understand the romance—or attempt at romance—that goes on as it wasn’t deepened and it didn’t contribute significantly to the plot. It did show some personal development on Chloe’s part, however, since it portrayed her and grounded her as a real girl who has unexplainable crushes like everybody else.
The writing was beautiful. In a remember-to-lock-your-doors-at-night type of way. The style made every emotion, scene and setting come alive in this nightmarish quality.
An example would be the opening paragraphs:
Ruby said I’d never drown—not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone’s bottomless backyard pool. She said she’d seen me hold my breath underwater for minutes at a time, but to hear her tell it you’d think she meant days. Long enough to live down there if needed, to skim the seafloor collecting shells and shiny soda caps, looking up every so often for the rescue lights, even if they took forever to come.
It sounded impossible, something no one would believe if anyone other than Ruby were the one to tell it. But Ruby was right: The body found that night wouldn’t be, couldn’t be mine.
Excerpted from the ARC paperback edition, page 1. Subject to change.
For a young adult debut, Nova Ren Suma is astonishing. I definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good creepy read, and/or if you enjoyed The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.
Special thanks to Holly @ Good Golly Miss Holly for holding this ARC Tour...more
If you haven't picked up an Ally Carter book yet, consider your life incomplete until you do so. If you don't want to read about a smart thief and a gorgeous best friend (also a thief), then check out the Gallagher Girls: they're spies. (You can't say you don't like thieves or spies, because everyone likes at least one or the other.)
If you need MORE reasons to make Ally Carter your new favorite author:
Thieves. Yes, I realized I already mentioned this, but you've got to admit that it takes a lot of talent to successfully write a book about teenage thieves without making it into a middle grade novel. This new installment in the Heist Society series was a lot edgier than the first book. Kat is dealing with a lot of crap: with her family, with her identity, and with Hale. I totally lent my heart out to Kat through the entire book. (And yelled at her a lot when she wouldn't confront Hale with…certain topics.)
Humor. I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for funny books. Even if it has the WORST main character ever, if she's funny (she can't be all that bad) then I'll usually read the entire book without too much trouble. Kat, besides being a completely AWESOME main character, is funny. So is everyone else. Especially Hale when he's mad. ;)
Characters. Did I mention Kat's a world-famous thief? Just think about it: being an infamous con artist makes her smart. And not just smart, but clever. (Yes, there IS a difference, just like robbing a casino and robbing AT a casino.) So Kat is awesome, and Hale is sexy, and Simon is adorable, and Gabrielle is…apparently cursed, and Nick is…well, he's sexy, too. Don't forget the Scottish twins and legendary uncles. So yeah. In summation, you've got a great set of characters.
Plot. Wow. And I thought Patricia Briggs was the only author who could surprise readers with such class. Ally Carter drives her characters seemingly into a corner with no escape whatsoever (even for the world-famous thieves) and then slams you with a plot twist that is so awesome that it's beyond incredible.
I could go on and on. Ally Carter has presented a great addition to Heist Society and I can't wait to see what she adds to this series....more
I don't think it was the thrill of reading it on my new Kindle that had me loving this book so much. The characters, the originality, the plot, everything, worked. It was a great read; I enjoyed it from beginning to end. There are a few things I would have preferred to be different, but it didn't detract from the sheer awesomeness of this book.
I liked the main character, Elisa. Though some of the things she did annoyed me like nothing else, she had such a streak of reality to her. She grew through her experiences and came to be a different person by the end of the book.
I loved the setting and plot, and how closely intertwined they were. I was totally blown away! Some parts were predictable, so I was settling in for a predictable ending and then BOOM. Halfway to the end and everything totally hits the fan. I almost cried.
But I liked the romance, I liked the story, and the characters. The only problem I had with it was how short it was. In retrospect, I could easily imagine the amount of time passing throughout the story. As I read however, it seemed to pass too quickly—to fast to get any depth. I felt as if the author should have taken her time, and let the story expand.
She had great descriptions, though. So great, I used the nifty note-making feature on my Kindle to mark a few passages, this one included:
The tumultuous snarl of sand is so huge and steady, so pure, that it is almost like quiet.
Elegant in its simplicity.
I cannot wait to see where this series goes. I want to read the next book now! (And I'm totally buying this in hardcover.)...more
A very promising debut. There are pros and cons with both writing style and plot but there’s something in the characters that makes me anticipate the next book’s release.
I love the archetypical hero’s story. It’s what makes me love stories like Harry Potter and Eragon. Griffin is an earth-angel who is realizing the heart of his situation: human versus angel. While he struggles to figure out the balance, he’s haunted by a jaded past. His struggles and obstacles were the perfect challenge for him and created a very enjoyable story.
I rooted for Griffin 100%. What really grabbed me about him was his humor because I’m a sucker for funny guys, but also his sensitivity (girls love a guy in touch with his emotions) and his loyalty. Griffin’s passion for saving people didn’t come off as cliché as I had started to fear it would.
As I read, I started to dread the romance. I was afraid that it would turn out to amount to several pages worth of description about what drew them to each other. But besides the initial, Wow, he/she’s pretty cute there wasn’t much to drag down their relationship. I actually began to cheer for Katie because she’s wasn’t a complete girl about some things.
“Fire, you’re fast! I almost didn’t beat you,” Griffin gasped. “Notice I said almost.”
”Well, I let you win. Frail male ego, you know.”
Excerpted from the ARC edition, page 84
I mean, I wanted to smack her about some things but otherwise, I liked her attitude.
The one thing that bothered me was Nash. The kid was way too much the archetypical bully. Griffin’s reactions were good (Go Griffin!) but the whole thing with Nash just didn’t fly well with me. I could see it coming a mile away and he didn’t put a lot of originality into the story. And the final confrontation between Nash and Griffin just annoyed me because Griffin was such an idiot about it.
In terms of writing: it was rough but I liked the way it was set up—half journal entries, half narrative. The plot was straightforward and I think the story could have been greatly lengthened if more detail and depth had been added.
However, I loved Griffin’s story. I blew through this story so fast; I was sorry to finish so quickly. Now I can’t wait for the sequel! I can see a lot of potential in Darby Karchut’s style. I can see that with time and practice, she will flourish into a household YA name.
This ARC was received in exchange for an honest review....more
Though not as endearing or as satisfying as the first two, The Dragon Heir is a stunning addition to the series.
The book focused mostly on Maddie and Jason, both introduced in the previous book, The Wizard Heir, though there were plenty of shifts between POVs. I really like Maddie and Jason—Maddie, for her ferocity and Jason for his complexity.
But I was confused about some things. There were a few plot points that were slacking. For instance, the way the book opens is with Maddie's infamous grandmother Min telling her about these four pretty boys she'll meet—two who will steal her heart and two that will deceive her. I think that whole aspect could have been eliminated entirely. It didn't hold up very well towards the end; didn't seem important at all. The book could have done well without it.
I had problems with the very beginning and the very, very end. Just…the way it ended? From a strategic standpoint, the whole "where they are now" scene should have been put into it's own chapter—the Epilogue. There was no "floating down" period—a denouement, if you will—where you were guided through the full impact of the climax. A lot of crap went down. There should have been something more—the mourning period and reconstruction progress should have had more than a paragraph a piece dedicated to it.
I loved the battle scenes—so well described. I could picture all the chaos and fighting and the character's reactions. I was glad the fighting lived up to the anticipation. I would have dropped a star on the rating if there had been all this panic about an attack only to have a tiny little fight scene.
I like how Cinda Williams Chima switched between the setting at Trinity and Booker Mountain. She kept the atmospheres unique to each other. However, I think the book would have been tighter had she kept to just Maddie and Jason's points of view. It seemed as if Chima tried doing too much with too many characters. It gave the story a looseness where I expected iron-clad progress.
The one part I really liked was how Seph's character was expanded. After reading The Wizard Heir, which was mostly in his point of view and now into The Dragon Heir where he's shown through the eyes of other characters, you can see his transition from rich boy arrogance to home grown humility to self-sacrificial hero.
This transition in Seph shouldn't be the focus, however. Jason's character didn't really change or grow. So at the end, I was confused at his depiction. I liked the change in Maddie. Her story was very cool and it made the end of the story very satisfying. Though taking a step back from her character, I didn't like how whiny she seemed sometimes and her romantic interest just didn't hold up. I didn't believe that she was really in love with anyone.
I loved the plot twist at the end, though. Fantastic!
Other than some plot holes and overdoing the POVs, it was an absolutely thrilling conclusion to the series. (Though it isn't the conclusion. Chima has a sequel coming! *squeeage*)...more
This was a great, heart-wrenching story. And instead of romance, the focus is on the two sisters, Darri and Callie. This companion novel to Mistwood was a thrilling and compelling read. While dark and spooky, I wish there had been more romance, but that's my personal preference in a book. I think it would have added some flavor and drama.
The characters were excellently written and each distinctive. They were all loveable and all garnered respect from me in one way or another. Even Varis, who was a real butt head and didn't really change much throughout the story, was relatable in my mind. I really rooted for Callie and Darri in equal turns. Their relationship was excellently written.
The setting, well…ghosts creep me out anyway. You won't ever find me chilling by a fire listening to ghost stories. So Nightspell really got my imagination shaking at some moments. Leah Cypess crafted an excellent ghostly setting. Not just spirits moving in the dark woods far off, but partying, carousing ghosts who, unfortunately, can acquire really cool—and dangerous—powers.
The plot was excellent as well, though I really missed some minor part at the end. There was some revealing piece about Clarisse and it went over my head. Other than that, however, the end was just what the back cover said, "a heartbreaking choice". It really fit the characters. Wasn't too much of a stretch or anything. The very last scene though, in my mind, was a bit of a cliffhanger, which is just mean. There had better be another companion novel.
I think this book was primed for a great romance story. The lack of it, however, I think really added to the flavor and environment. Some authors, like the talented Ms. Cypess, create books that are so awesome you don't even NEED a romance. Still. It's what I like to see in a book, so I was a smidge bit disappointed there.
Overall, it was a great story—very enjoyable. I think out of the two Leah Cypess has written, I'd say I liked Mistwood more but I think the main character's ability to shape-shift has something to do with that.
If you liked Mistwood, you'll love Nightspell....more
I have pretty mixed feelings for this book. I loved most of it, was completely creeped out by some of it, and didn't like bits of it.
I liked the alternating points of view between Amy and Elder. As for the characters themselves, I liked Amy because she was fierce and normal and sometimes funny. I felt like Elder's character could have been expanded though. Both Amy and Elder, really. I like when I can carry characters around with me after I'm done reading, but I couldn't get a sense of their characters after I'd put down the book.
While some of the plot was inevitable and expected, I LOVED how the mystery played out towards the end. It had taken me a while to get into it—I loved the beginning, then got in a lull for a day or two—but then I raced through it. By the time I got to the end I knew the identity of the killer, but I enjoyed the twist involving the ship, Eldest/Elder, and the drug.
The one thing I really loved about this was how it wasn't some kiddy space travel book. It was intense! (I was completely crept out by the Season, especially. I share Amy's disgust for that.)
I liked the writing, even though I couldn't get a full sense of the characters, because the writing really brought out the emotion. Some of it was written too hastily when I expected a lot of care, but I had a real taste of the setting and atmosphere.
The ending though…gah. I just didn't like it. The quick recovery, the lack of crew response, easy acceptance…It just didn't work for me. But I am looking forward to the next book. (The second cover is GORGEOUS!)...more
I wanted to be very careful with this review because of how different and unique it is from all the other YA books I've ever read. I've seen books described as "inspirational" and "it teaches you blahblahblah" and I'd go and read them and…not be inspired. I'd be depressed. I wouldn't feel any victory when the main character finally learned to trust herself, nor when the dirt bag got what he deserved.
I didn't put aside this book for anything less than meals or sleeping. I was attached from page one and I'm still holding onto it. I had a $25 gift card from Amazon and I used some of that to buy myself a copy of The Mockingbirds. This is a book I want on my "favorites" shelf next to my desk.
This isn't a "Last Friday Night", Katy Perry type of story. If it taught me anything, it's the human capacity for hurting others.
The Mockingbirds wasn't a pity-party type of story either. Alex was a fleshed out character. She laughed, cried, raged. Every page wasn't dominated by what had happened, but it was realistically always in her thoughts. I loved reading how she grew as the story progressed. The romance built in was well done because it showed the ability to choose.
Something I noticed right away was how packed with character and atmosphere the first few pages were. I had an instant understanding of Alex's character and how things stood at Themis.
Three things I know this second: I have morning breath, I'm naked, and I'm waking up next to a boy I don't know.
And there's a fourth thing now. It's ridiculously bright in my room. I drape my forearm over my eyes, blocking out the morning sun beating in through my windows, when it hits me—the fifth thing.
These are not my windows.
Which means this is not my bed.
My head pounds as I turn to look at this boy whose name I don't remember. He's still asleep, his chest moving up and down in time to an invisible metronome. I scan his features, his nose, his lips, searching for something, anything that rings a bell. A clue to connect me to him. But remembering last night is like looking through frosted glass. I see nothing. But I can hear one word, loud and clear.
Excerpted from hardcover edition, pages 1-2
I loved the whole book. I can only appreciate this book from a creative and literary standpoint—I myself have never been in such a situation as this. For those who have, I can imagine how this must have struck home. Carrie Harris's post speaks very well about how Daisy Whitney has written a fantastic book. This book should be taught at schools and assigned as summer reading instead of the garbage most schools make high school kids read. Teenagers suffering in silence might actually learn to find the courage to speak up by reading The Mockingbirds rather than Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America....more
The blurb on the inside flap says, "In the increasingly crowded field of kick-ass supernatural heroines, Mercy stands out as one of the best". BAH! Hard for me to believe, because while they're right—Mercy IS the best—they don't understand that no one can hold a candle to Mercy. Seriously. No one. Not even Faythe Sanders from Rachel Vincent's decidedly awesome Shifters series.
I really wish I could rant about all my favorite scenes—practically ALL OF THEM—but I'm hardcore spoiler free. God. If there's any author that makes me want to go on a squeeing rampage, it's Patricia Briggs.
This latest installment definitely had me loving the series even more. I really enjoyed the depth added to Adam and Mercy's relationship. In my head, it was always something distant—used for drama rather than something solid. So this book kinda made me sigh happily—an incredible occurrence, lemme tell you.
What I love most about Patricia Briggs' abilities (besides writing flipping awesome characters) is how she can surprise readers. Usually, I have an inkling of what's going to happen—and if not exactly what's going to happen, then at least the knowledge that something surprising is going to happen within the next two pages. But Patricia Briggs just blows that all to hell. Her surprises aren't in the typical places, but instead of feeling out of place, they really work in terms of shock value.
Second, her plots. I think it's hard for authors to have hair-raising, nail-biting plots when the readers already correctly assume that the main character is going to live. So having the character in a live-or-die situation at the end and making it good just shows talent. For real.
Another thing that makes this a great series? (It also attributes to why the characters are so great.) The humor. HILARIOUS! Mercy's almost self-deprecating, gently sarcastic humor has me laughing out loud. (And getting checked in on by my dad, who asks, "You okay?") This isn't the funniest of them, but it was the quickest I could find. Just gives you a taste. ;)
"I think I'll pitch it to the Gray Lords as suicide by werewolf," he said after a long moment of silence. "Anyone who hurts you in front of Adam is too stupid to live anyway."
Excerpted from the hardcover edition, p. 316
Even if you're strictly young adult, you need to try this series out. It's appropriate for young adults, and really worth it....more
I will forever be a fan of Patricia Briggs. It’s how she blends together all the critical elements of a story with her flawless writing and loveable characters. Her stories themselves are original and engaging. Her characters come alive and are presented so well that it’s perfect daydreaming material.
When the story first opened, I was confused because Seraph is presented as a child and I was like—Well how are they supposed to get married? But the transition between the years is very well done. I was worried for a moment that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the Before and After but as I said, very well done.
Raven’s Shadow isn’t set in just Seraph’s point of view. It switches between most of the main characters—Teir, Seraph, and Jes mostly. The mix gave me an insight into the characters that reinforced their accessibility. Seraph’s character, for instance, could come off as cold and distant but since a good portion of the book is in her point of view, I was shown her motives and understood her character. I really enjoyed Seraph’s character especially because she has a lot of fire in her and a quick wit.
The characters in general were presented extremely well. Even the Emperor, who is supposed to be this pompous, partying ingrate. His transition between drunkard and commander was believable. I cheered him all the way.
The world of Raven’s Shadow was excellently crafted. It took me half a dozen chapters to figure out what the heck a Sept was but once I settled into the book, it became clear as well as a bunch of other tiny things that readers have to pick up when they delve into a fantasy novel. I would suspect that politics is something difficult to write about without being complicated and boring, but I was engrossed with the uncovered alliances and seeming insignificant things becoming important.
Patricia Briggs has a flawless storytelling style that gives a clear picture of the story without being so in your face about it. She doesn’t coddle, she doesn’t condescend. She effectively shows the reader what she finds so special about these characters and what they’re going through.
An absolutely thrilling read. I devoured it practically in one sitting....more
This idea of angels being the bad guys and the assassins the heroes was fascinating and one that L.A. Weatherly put together nicely. The story was told in a simplistic yet effective writing style, yet there was major flaw that kept me from fully enjoying this story. The characters. Even amidst a story full of a great mix of action and romance, the characters began to wear at me as the plot progressed and it strongly affected my rating for this book.
The beginning was great. I was immediately captured by the story and the characters and before I knew it, I'd burned through the first hundred pages. I felt this was going to be a great story because Willow had a great introductory scene, full of humor and a sharp awareness. And she's a mechanic. Brownie points right there. Alex had a deep complexity about him and I immediately got a sense for his character, thank goodness.
Then the romance hit. And everything went downhill.
In a nutshell, this book could have been remarkably more enjoyable if the characters hadn't played towards every cliché line ever invented. Given spicier lines that were more character-specific, I would have been more invested in the story, after I got about three hundred pages in, I started rolling my eyes and fifty pages after that, I had to work towards making it through the entire book. Cliché to the last word.
This idea was so clever and everything seemed to be primed for a read full of humor, breathless adventure and steaming romance. Yet it just didn't deliver.
(I did like how the tense switches persons when there was a change between Willow and Alex. Willow's narration was in first person; Alex's in third. I thought that was an interesting touch.)...more
I could barely get into this book. I barely got through the first two chapters. The main character, Charlotte, drove me completely bonkers. Her constant whining made me want to throw the book across the room. Her low self esteem, cookie-cutter responses and her GORGOUES SISTER (aren't they always?) just annoyed me.
The story didn't hold much appeal either. The beginning was confusing—are ghosts real or not? Are they "energy" or are they real spirits? Confusion doesn't bode well for any story.
The writing wasn't much better. Nothing particularly appealing about it; didn't draw me into the story.
The writing coupled with the type of story made it come off as little kiddish. Charlotte's "holier-than-thou, I'm-so-misunderstood" attitude is something I expect in a middle grade novel, not YA.
Now, there might've been something more interesting farther in, but the first couple of chapters turned me off so much that I just wasn't willing to wait it out....more
I freaking loved reading this book. The main character, Bianca, was fantastically written! This book wouldn't have been half as enjoyable if it were told from the point of view of anyone with less nerve. Her interactions with Wesley, her family and friends really gave her a gold star in my book. The other characters were very well written and the story was told with a unique, character-driven style. Absolutely loved it.
Eight pages in and I was in love. I knew right away that I would really like Bianca's character, so I just listened to her story and it kept me engaged with the other characters. Her cynicism may come off as annoying to some people, but for me it really clicked. I found myself laughing out loud at her narrative, decorated though it was with some colorful language.
Her story was great. I really liked Wesley, though I didn't get such an engaging, in depth interest in him. I loved the dynamic between Wesley and Bianca. Their drama was nicely balanced with Bianca's issues with friends and family. It was a fascinating idea brilliantly executed.
In retrospect, Wesley and Bianca's relationship is pretty cliché, but I wasn't ever annoyed by it, nor did I ever want to put the book down. Bianca kept everything alive and interesting by shutting down all the cliché pitfalls. I started this book around noon and finished it right after dinner. I wanted to find out what happened with these characters—I wanted to hear their story.
In some ways, Kody Keplinger's presentation of Bianca's story reminded me of Sarah Dessen. The topic was wonderfully handled and I never felt like I was being preached to. This is a book I'll be rereading for a while....more
I was shocked I loved it so much. Going in, I was hesitant. I thought the idea was so straight forward, I thought there wasn't much that would be able to surprise me with this plot. I thought The main character is going to drive me crazy, and The romance is going to be pathetic.
Wow. Lauren Oliver totally took me by surprise.
First, the main character, Lena, was actually pretty cool. I sometimes I wished she had more of a mind to stand up for herself, though. I thought the relationships with her family members were excellently portrayed, though their reaction towards the end freaked me out. I also liked Lena and Hana's friendship, though the plain-girl-with-a-gorgeous-best-friend complex was annoying at first.
Second, Alex. I wasn't exactly drawn in by him. I thought he was awesome though, and I did respect his character. I think the romance between Lena and Alex worked; it never seemed forced. Though only a seventeen-year-old boy could charm a girl the way Alex did. (Read it to understand, it's pretty good. ^_^)
Once I got into this book, I was hooked. The amount of detail Lauren Oliver put into this was fantastic. I felt completely enveloped by the world. Most of it was horrifying. Most of it I could see running through my head like a movie. The ending almost killed me. Jesus, I was thisclose to crying. (That in itself an incredible feat. Haha.) I can't wait to find out what happens in book two.
For such a straightforward idea, Lauren Oliver really pulled it off. It was original, detailed and heart wrenching. I need this book for my bookshelf....more
I didn't really know what to expect when I first cracked the spine of this book. I'd read Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers trilogy and thought it was awesome so I thought I'd do good by reading this series, too. Good call, Amelia. I loved this. I especially loved the main character Maya, but the sub characters, the setting, the romance, and plot were so fantastic. It was a very enjoyable read.
Maya is my kind of girl. I wouldn't mind tending some wild animals and having a nice conversation with her. She knew she was flawed (hallelujah) but her attempts to work at her flaws gave her a refreshing dimension. She was funny, not completely uptight, and the "fearlessness" she felt when confronted with something terrifying was portrayed very convincingly—something I was a bit worried about cause saying she didn't feel anything at someone's death could've been a major turn-off.
The one thing I didn't like about her was that she was defensive towards the reader. She'd go, "Look, it was because blahblahblah…" getting really personal with the reader and I was just like, "Okay, chill." I don't like having to think that towards a book. So that was kind of annoying, though it didn't happen that often, luckily.
The other characters were completely awesome. I would love to sit in a cabin somewhere and chill with them for a while (as long as they kept the beer—and their hands—to themselves). Corey, though not having a major role, was probably one of my favorite "background characters". As for the main characters, I call dibs on Daniel. He was completely awesome and swoon-worthy. The relationship Maya and Daniel had was pretty well described and didn't hold any cliché moments. Also, I loved Maya's interaction with her parents:
"Another night then," Mom said. "Maybe on the weekend we can have a barbecue and invite your sister."
"Or," I said turning to Rafe, "if you want to skip the whole awkward meet-the-family social event you could just submit your life story including your view on politics religion and every social issue imaginable along with anything else you think they might need to conduct a thorough background check."
Mom sighed. "I really don't know why we even bother trying to be subtle around you."
"Neither do I. It's not like he isn't going to realize he's being vetted as daughter-dating material."
Rafe grinned. "So we are dating."
"No. You have to pass the parental exam first. It'll take you awhile to compile the data. They'd like it in triplicate." I turned to my parents. "We have Kenjii. We have my cell phone. Since we aren't yet officially dating I'm sure you'll agree that's all the protection we need."
Dad choked on his coffee.
Excerpted from the hardcover edition, page 202
Kudos to Kelley Armstrong for the well-played romance. Considering the limited selection Maya had in her town (pop. 200), she sure had a fine catch. Not like it came at such a huge surprise who would get together with who, but Rafe's character had some nice appeal and the twists and turns of their relationship were believable and didn't feel over-dramatized. (Sort of. There was one point I just had to go "c'mon".) As for Rafe himself, I didn't find him appealing to my standards, but I did respect him.
The atmosphere was written beautifully. It almost makes me want to move to a tiny town…almost. The time Kelley Armstrong took to describe the town of Salmon Creek really paid off. Within the first one hundred pages, the setting was established so thoroughly that it became a character of its own. Maya's character really fit in with the world. Everything seemed to click.
Everything seems set for the take off of the rest of the series. The ending, however, was crazy. I mean, it was so sudden that I was just like, "Wow. That's…it?" Very dramatic for an ending and raises even more questions—especially for Maya (HOLY CURSED PARENTAGE, BATMAN). I can't wait to find out what gets answered, wrapped up and put away in the next book!
Quick note: that cover is SO hot! I seriously need this book for my shelf. Cover love to the extreme....more
I've seen it before. Maybe not the exact plot or the exact world but it's too close for my comfort. It reminded me too much of all the other fae/faerie books that have been done: Holly Black, Modern Faerie Tales; Lesley Livingston, Wondrous Strange; Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely; Jenna Black, Faerie Walker. All these fae/faerie books have so much in common. I wanted to see something edgier that hadn't been covered yet.
Oh god. Then there's the main character. Talk about raging insecurities. Sure, she might have a dry, innocent sense of humor but she isn't that charmingly naïve character. I think Meghan is ridiculous. How come none of these stories have main characters who KNOW anything already about fairy stuff? Like, never promise the fae anything. Etc.
The character set overall was too predictable and standard for my taste.
The writing was pretty good, though. That was the one thing I liked, but it wasn't' enough to hold up the whole book.
Overall, I just wasn't compelled to continue reading. I'd previously read about a hundred pages in before leaving it for a few months, and so I picked it up from there. I only got about six pages before I put it back down.
I know this is a wildly popular series, but it just wasn't for me....more
I'd started this book once and had dropped it, whether it was due to boredom or time constraint or whatever, I had dropped it. I'm really sorry I did. Even though I have a sort of phobia of short books, Once Dead, Twice Shy was a testament to ingenuity and skill.
Kim Harrison's skill for titles aside, her main character, Madison, was awesome. Besides my short-book-phobia, I also have a phobia for weak, fluffy main characters. Madison didn't trip any wires. Her originality and spunkiness (though apparently she doesn't like that term) was refreshing. I do wish her character was given a bit more room to breathe, though, because the book was so short. Her character really could have stretched over 350 pages or more. She was funny, wimpy when called for, not a pushover but not a unbelievable ninja either. I'm thinking of stealing her skull earrings and purple shoes.
Romance alone is a sticky subject and being dead doesn't help matters much. So when Stupid Cupid comes along, I was holding my breath for Madison's sake (since she didn't actually have to breathe). The love interest turned out to be a cool dude. Thank God. At least he didn't dismiss her as a freak when she turned "invisible" and didn't mumble and bumble when he should've been defending her. So, to the love interest, kudos. I do wish the romance could have been expanded, though. I mean…c'mon. There were grounds for some hard core romancing in here…But Kim Harrison kept it real. Kudos to her, too.
As for the world, it was genius. I'd almost started to lose faith in the hopes for a refreshing angel read, but this brought hope back. I love how there's this introduction of "timekeepers" and "seraphs". And it wasn't like Hush, Hush or Fallen where the whole book focuses on the fallen angel/guardian and the human girl. First of all, Madison's dead. Kind of puts a kink in the works anyway. As I read, it was easy to figure out how things worked. The amulets connected to their swords, etc. Very clever.
Blonde bubbleheads are the bane of my existence. Something Madison and I have in common. Amy was a very convincing small scale enemy. (Meaning she wasn't the holder of Madison's body.) I wanted to slap her throughout ever encounter and I applauded Madison's comebacks—though they were unfortunately mostly verbal, not physical. *sigh*
The writing was simple. Nothing really complex and worldly about it. So it fit the story and tone nicely. It seemed to be meant to be plain and productive. When the writing and the story fit together, it creates a beautiful experience.
Gosh darn it I just wish it was longer. If it were, say, 200 pages thicker, there would be an extra star in my rating. As it is, it only took me little over half a day to read it. All that awesome should not be contained in a measly 232 pages!
My short-book-phobia aside, it was a very enjoyable story. I cannot wait to pick up the sequel....more
I heard from one of my blogger buddies that there are a lot of varied reviews of this book. (I wouldn't know, as I don't read reviews of books that I'm looking forward to reading—spoilers, you know.) I can see clearly why there would be a lot of variation, but I know that I'm settling into the side of "I-freaking-love-this-series-and-book-so-freaking-much".
I love it because it's written beautifully, the characters stay true to form—not conforming to what the public would want most to read—and the atmosphere is deepened with each chapter.
Maggie Stiefvater has a way with words. There's no other way to say it and no way to explain it so you're just gonna have to go pick up one of her books to see for yourself. She hasn't just written this werewolf series. She's also written a fae series, which is awesome if you're into that kind of thing.
I love characters that are challenged by their own inner demons. In most books I read, internal conflict is something simple and therefore easily resolved. I can always pick out that "resolution" scene where the character comes to terms with what's eating them up inside. Something that sums up to "It wasn't really my fault" etc. Maggie Stiefvater works her characters differently, making their transformation much more believable and easier to swallow. I think the personal battle I enjoyed the most—not exactly the right word, more like appreciated—was Sam's. I cheered for that kid all the way. Cole was also a favorite. But each of them did have something to deal with, and I liked that. Gave them each their own dimension.
I love the setting that Maggie Stiefvater has created. Mercy Falls carries this certain nuance in my head that I can easily identify and pull on when I'm reading.
I'm really sad now that this series is over. (I actually had to walk into my dad's room and lay down on the dog to feel better after I'd finished reading.) I only picked Shiver up last year, but I'm still sad to see it go.
Now us fans get to look forward to watching literary-challenged directors screw up the movie. XD...more
This book takes on a whole new meaning of "All the world's a stage". Fascinating and creative, I'm shocked this book hasn't garnered more attention. Think of a theater acting like a magical world all its own. Think of just the main character, who dies her hair Cobalt blue, exchanges swears with a pirate, and resists the urges of an air spirit while trying to save the world which she knows.
All enchanting stuff. Yet when I first started out (over a year ago), I wasn't very enchanted. I'd tried a couple times to start it and stopped reading it. This time, however, I wanted to read more. I was suddenly fascinated by what would happen to Bertie and I wanted to know more about the world of the Theatre. So I started where I'd left off before, about seventy pages in, and had a hard time putting it down!
Bertie's character was fantastic. The idea of an orphaned girl living in a magical theatre world could have really come off as childish and very middle grade, but Bertie's smart mouth and her romantic interests kept it on a YA level. Bertie was a classy girl and I loved her character. Though I hardly understand her taste for seductive air spirits. I'm going for Nate all the way.
The one thing I didn't get was the Theatre's place in time. Maybe it was mentioned and it went over my head, but the mention of limousines makes me think very modern. Also, I wasn't quite sure if the outside world knew that the Theatre was magical. Other than those two things, however, the story was wonderful.
It was a very enjoyable story—I can't wait to pick up the sequel, even though love triangles are the bane of my existence! I fell in love with the world, the excellent characters, and Bertie's story.
Just one thing about the covers though: I freaking love them. I want these made into posters so I can hang them on my wall. For real. BUT! They only feature THREE fairies! What the fudge? There are clearly FOUR. And this series oversight continues on EACH FLIPPING COVER. So all of them are fantastic, except for that grievous mistake. Jeepers....more