The Dead Girls' Dance wasn't a huge step up from Glass Houses in my opinion of it. The characters were good, but not exceptional; the world was expanded well enough; and, luckily, it wasn't a rehashing of the first. It was still very superficial and "bubble gum" like, but what made this installment distinctive for me was how the stakes were high. (No pun intended.) But I'm still not finding it "oh my goodness" amazing.
Like the first book, Dead Girls' Dance lacked a sense of depth. It left me wondering, "Why should I find this important?" I did feel more of a connection with the characters, though, because I'd already read a book about them, but while their quips were hilarious, their dynamics weren't thrilling me. That was my issue with most of the story: I was left utterly un-thrilled.
Claire was my central issue in Glass Houses. Here, she was fine. Still a complete flake, but not wholly useless, either. Although, I certainly raised my eyebrows over her desire to still head to class when she knows full well that leaving the house will get her killed. With Claire, I was always thinking, "If you're going to get threatened, kidnapped and potentially sucked dry by a bunch of creepy vamps, it might as well be for a better reason than wanting to go to class."
I thought the plot for Dead Girls' Dance was much better than Glass Houses. It had a bit more cohesiveness; I understood the stakes better. What I didn't understand was why the title was "The Dead Girls' Dance" when the dance didn't mean a whole lot in terms of how it impacted the story. Besides that, it was exciting and interesting and packed a few twists.
What I loved most, hands down, was the humor. Kudos for books that make me laugh. Glass Houses was excellent in the humor department, and The Dead Girls' Dance continued that excellence nicely. So if I got anything out of it, it was a great laugh.
I'm a bit on the fence about whether or not I'm going to continue with the series. I've been told they get better with time, but after two books that were only "meh," I'm a bit skeptical about putting a lot of time and effort into the series. Still, I'm interested, and that counts for something....more
Kendare Blake single handedly turned my intrigue and curiosity towards the ghostly side of creepiness. Where normally I stay far, far away from anything with the mere suggestion of skin-crawling terror, Kendare Blake's work, first with Anna Dressed in Blood and now Girl of Nightmares, has brought me a new appreciation of things that go bump in the night. I think in any other case, I would cast a questioning glance at the author's mental stability after seeing the product of their work, but with this book -- with its refreshingly three dimensional characters, exciting plot and great narrative -- I'm willing to make an exception.
The one thing that worries me with sequels of any kind, whether it's a part of a long, drawn out series or just a duology, is a rehashing of the first book. With each new book, I expect a deeper and thorough progression of the characters and a plot that explores the world instead of sticking to the same set of possibilities. Girl of Nightmares really impressed me with the way the world, and the characters, expanded.
The characters had to be my favorite thing about this book. I cheered for and admired them in Anna Dressed in Blood and that admiration only grew with Girl of Nightmares. I think specifically of Carmel: I loved seeing her gain dimension and progress as a character. Normally, side characters are shoved ruthlessly aside to make room for all of the main character's drama, but Carmel was a solid presence. In fact, all of the characters were nuanced. They lacked the picky, petty, cookie cutter melodrama that tends to sand down the finer grains of a character. In this respect, they all had a strong sense of realism, so it made it nearly impossible for me not to sympathize with them as they went to hell and back (literally).
The "there" that she's referring to is the Tower of London, the castle-like fortress that sits on the north bank of the Thames. It's touristy and historical, the site of numerous tortures and executions, from Lady Jane Grey to Guy Fawkes. Looking at it as we cross the Tower Bridge, I wonder how many screams have bounced off the stone walls. I wonder how much blood the ground remembers. They used to put severed heads up on pikes and display them on the bridge until they fell into the river. I glance down at the brown water. Somewhere underneath, old bones might be fighting their way out of the silt.
Cas's narrative made it so easy to slide into the story. Full of great zingers and one liners, I love Cas's blatant insolence and dry humor. This style of Anna Dressed in Blood carried over brilliantly to Girl of Nightmares. With clear, concise imagery, Kendare Blake's writing style really brings out the creepiness in clear cut descriptions. The effect is uber chilling. It's incredibly easy to picture the action like a movie, which only heightens the suspense and drama.
Not that the plot needed the extra help. Constant action, always something interesting happening. I loved how it was perpetually moving forward. There were no boring or useless fillers; everything had a purpose, impact. The stakes kept building and building, pushing the characters, forcing them to make choices, to question themselves, to make sacrifices. The climax... Ah, climaxes that make me want to cry are always memorable. The bittersweet ones are the worst, aren't they?
Girl of Nightmares was an epic book. I loved every page. I must have it for my shelves....more
For a long time I've claimed that short stories aren't really my thing -- I don't read them, I don't write them. Now, I find myself doing both! TheseFor a long time I've claimed that short stories aren't really my thing -- I don't read them, I don't write them. Now, I find myself doing both! These three authors have rekindled my faith in short stories. Each of their pieces are electrifying and exciting. Truly inspirational. Love it, love it, love it!...more
I don't like vampire books. Just a little quirk of mine. So the one and only reason I picked Drink, Slay, Love up was because it was written by Sarah Beth Durst, who blew me away with her unbelievably wonderful fantasy novel, Vessel. People told me, "Oh, you liked that? You'd totally love Drink, Slay, Love." And I just thought, "It's...a...vampire book." But I did pick it up. Thank God.
I love books that make me laugh. What surprised me here was the way humor was used. Drink, Slay, Love was not some light, fluffy spoof. So while it was a lot of fun, the humor was more along the dry and sarcastic side rather than ridiculous and unbelievable. (But okay, I'll admit the unicorn thing did push a limit or two.) I didn't expect something deep and rich with complicated feelings, nuanced characters and a plot that actually challenged the characters instead of being conveniently inconvenient. But that's exactly what I got.
Another expectation busted? Pearl's awesomeness. Huzzah for awesome vampire main characters. I thought she would be irritating and shallow, but she never even gave my nerves a mean glance. Not even for a second. That rocked. I loved how her transition from soulless predator to vulnerable teenager was portrayed as a slow evolution that was believable and sincere. I backed Pearl up 100%. I wanted her to live (so to speak), to find her happiness, and succeed at her mission. Having so much sympathy with the main character let me sit back and enjoy the story.
I was thinking the plot might be a little on the sketchy side. I mean, there's a unicorn. But only a few things warranted an eyebrow raise. The stakes were well defined (no pun intended) so I understood from the get go what Pearl stood to lose if she pushed the boundaries of her world. There was constant motion and conflict, always something to move the story forward, and the plot twists challenged the characters, didn't let them slide by with only a few scrapes.
All of this was accented with a great sense of humor and underlined with a sweet romance. I liked how the humor was more sarcastic and snarky than goofy and unbelievable. And the romance. Ah, amour. I think that I saw the signs of a Durst trademark. In Vessel, the romance built up naturally and here, too, in Drink, Slay, Love, the romance did not take center stage but instead was something else the main character had to work through. I really liked how this wasn't a romance, but more of a coming-of-age story.
Sarah Beth Durst has finally given me the opportunity to say that there is only one vampire book I like, instead of declaring I dislike them in general. Drink, Slay, Love was a fun tale of vampirism, action and a dash of romance, all laced with a snarky humor that had me giggling from start to finish. A great read....more
There's a reason I never watched any of the Jason movies (weren't there seven of them or something?) or The Exorcist. Somehow, there's a huge difference between the urban fantasy world of Twilight and City of Bones with the vampires, werewolves, and warlocks and what Debra Chapoton brought to life in Sheltered.
I was glued to the pages, but mostly out of fear of stopping than morbid fascination. I am a total scaredy cat, but this was a whole different kind of creepy. It was psychological. Debra Chapoton paired the physical demons with the mental ones and the effect was spine tingling. Maybe my lack of spooky experiences made me uber vulnerable to suggestion, but regardless, the effect was immediate and lasting. I almost couldn't get through it because I didn't want to be freaked out.
Sheltered surprised me with how it appeared to be ordered chaos: a string of seemingly linear events tossed in with mystery but all told with an omniscient POV that I haven't seen outside of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. In a single scene, the POV would switch between three different characters seemingly at random. At first I was a bit put off by this because it would happen without pause: no marker that said it was now being told from Ben's POV. An interesting style that, I think, worked for the story.
Sheltered took on a different kind of story for me. I was more concerned, mentally, for the creepy things going on than for the development of the characters or the world-building. Only upon reflection did I think about how much I didn't really like one of the characters, or the romance. It was the tiny details of the possessions that I found myself focusing on, not the characters themselves.
While Sheltered was not a story I would seek out myself, I think anyone who wants a good spooky read for Halloween has found a good one....more
I've always been a huge fan of Patricia Briggs, ever since I picked up the first Mercy Thompson novel (Moon Called) at my good friend, Smash @ Smash Attack Reads, request. This short story in the On the Prowl anthology is the prerequisite story to the Alpha & Omega series. I've already read and fell in love with the Alpha & Omega series, so starting in on a short story where that series began was a sure win for my affection.
If you've never read anything by Patricia Briggs, taking a look at this short story would be a good test drive to see whether you, dear reader, would enjoy pursuing her work. For patrons of the Alpha & Omega series, this short story really set up the series nicely. Though the events were alluded to in the first book, Cry Wolf, it was merely given as background information to provide a foundation for the story.
The one thing I absolutely love about Patricia Briggs' writing is how she can pack so much character into a few paragraphs. There's an immediate sense of both Anna and Charles's characters as the POV switches between them and this skill, though very helpful for writing an appealing short story, carries over into her full length novels as well.
Even though I've read the entire Alpha & Omega series, reading this short story makes me want to read it all over again. (Which, as a matter of fact, I'll be doing since I read them before but never reviewed them.) Patricia Briggs created a well-balanced, well-rounded story with nothing forced or sloppily done.
So, dear reader, try this out for a test ride and see how far you can get without completely falling in love with the story....more
My first experience with Melissa Marr came in the form of her novel, Wicked Lovely. I was left unimpressed with it and uninspired to pick up anymore of her books, but I've learned from experience that an author can start out a bit rusty and develop into this whirlwind of awesomeness. Unfortunately, the whirlwind hasn't come for Melissa Marr yet. Five years between publications and I'm having the same problems with Carnival of Souls that I had with Wicked Lovely. Interestingly enough, they're the exact. same. problems: Shallow characters and boring plot wrapped together in totally amateurish writing.
It took a bit of dedication on my part to get into the throes of the story. From the scarcity of descriptions, I was left fumbling to anchor myself in any kind of atmosphere, making me hesitate to invest in the story. The way the story was presented left me confused about the stakes -- when a character acted, I didn't get the supposed "risk" behind it. Only by the time I was some two hundred pages in did I understood the switches and plot twists, but I couldn't feel them resonating through the characters as I should have.
I didn't sense any kind of depth from the characters and I think it was mostly due to the writing and not as much off the fact they were just shallow characters. Marr's writing style lacks any sort of passion. It was made up of all telling, losing much of the emotion, depth and shock value in the deadpan prose. And while the story had an edge, the prose ill-fitted the story. Everything was described to me, not shown, so I wasn't fully aware of how dark the The City was supposed to be, or how dangerous the witches were, or how Mallory felt as she lived a life in constant danger. Everything fell flat.
Occasionally, romances can swoop in to save the day if the hero or heroine happens to be appealing. This is not the case here. Not only were Kaleb and Mallory as flat as the rest of them, but the romance was of the insta-love variety and a major turn off. I grew immensely agitated at the "I love you's" carelessly thrown around and the proclamations of undying love and protection. It just came to: Ugh.
There was also little plot to speak of. While events progressed in a linear fashion, the "mystery" was hardly a head-scratcher. And not only that, but there was no climax. Despite the fact that the rest of the story hadn't held the telltale signs of a story building to a tipping point, I paused a few pages away from the end and realized that I'd just read the climax. It had passed me by without ceremony. The mystery that had been apparent a hundred pages ago was revealed to little fanfare and the characters were now in a classic "this is just the beginning" kind of ending. It's never a good sign when a reader breathes a sigh of relief as the book closes.
I was hoping that I would be blown away by Carnival of Souls, but it failed to deliver. As a slew of books separate Carnival of Souls and Wicked Lovely and yet the latter shows no sign of improvement, I'm most likely not going to pick up another one of Melissa Marr's books....more
When I first read the synopsis for Time Between Us, the overbearing, overanxious skeptic inside of me recognized the signs for a potentially epic fail. Nothing in the book's summary promised any kind of originality, except that the bulk of the story appeared to be set in 1995 and not 2012. I read it only because it's happened before: a dull, predictable synopsis that completely understated an entire novel. In this case, however, a dull, predictable novel was exactly what I got. The main character, Anna, was two-dimensional and irksome, Bennett was far too whipped to be of any interest, and the plot held promise but ultimately fell flat.
Anna was too glossy. Superficial. All shiny surface and no depth. She was the narrator of the story, yet she had no distinct voice. It could've been told from anyone's point of view and I wouldn't have been able to differentiate between them. It was as if Tamara Ireland Stone didn't delve deep enough to discover what was so compelling about this character, and that lack of compassion made me think, Why am I supposed to care about this character? I couldn't get behind any of her childish, immature choices because none of her decisions were backed up by motivation. Bennett was possibly glossier than Anna. While he had bursts of anger and passion that gave him a little flavor, he had no backbone -- it was all mushy from his undying love for Anna. As a result of both the main characters flopping, the romance fell apart for me. I didn't even bother with it.
The plot was entirely too predictable. In every story, there has to be conflict, build ups and payoffs, but conflicts that push characters. While there was some tension created by high stakes, they were not high enough. A story should keep raising the stakes until they build to a breaking point -- a point where my respect for a character is determined based on the character's decision under the ultimate stress. Anna's decision at this ultimate point was painfully obvious from several chapters away. As was the ending. I actually skipped a chapter or two because just by skimming ahead, I could tell what happened. When I can remove entire scenes from the plot, and it still makes sense, it means those scenes shouldn't have been there. The plot wasn't tight enough.
Maybe something could've been salvaged if I had been able to get behind the writing style. But it was all telling. I was told what Anna was doing like it was coming from someone else, even though it was in first person. This created a huge emotional gap between me and Anna. She eventually became so cookie cutter, I wanted to give up halfway through the story.
I really wanted to like this book because time travel is such a cool concept that I haven't spent a lot of time reading about. I don't really even see it that often. While I liked the mechanics behind Tamara Ireland Stone's ideas on time travel, it wasn't enough to make me passionate about the story. Ultimately, I was left dissatisfied and unimpressed....more
My first experience with Libba Bray's work left me skeptical that I would ever pick up something of her's again. A Great and Terrible Beauty bored me. I found it unenlightening with a picky, uninspiring main character and dull plot. Southern Book Bloggers changed things. I got a week to slave over the immensity that was The Diviners. Chockfull of brilliance of every kind -- from amazing, deep prose to a chilling antagonist -- my experience with The Diviners restored my faith in Libba Bray. I am psyched to find out what the rest of this series holds in store.
I can't help but compare my thoughts on A Great and Terrible Beauty to The Diviners. Given that A Great and Terrible Beauty was published in 2003 and here it is, nearly ten years later, there was an incredible maturation on many levels. This is evidenced mainly in the exponential increase in the page count of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series: A Great and Terrible Beauty (403 pages), Rebel Angels (548 pages), and The Sweet Far Thing (819 pages). Now, The Diviners at 578 pages. By the page count alone, Libba Bray certainly gained some polish from her work on A Great and Terrible Beauty.
The Diviners was told in an elegant, haunting style that perfectly suited the plot. Written in large swaths of detail and description, Libba Bray's prose was concise and easy to understand. Five hundred plus pages might suggest that the story amounted to a whole lot of nothing, but every word carried meaning. Occasionally, I thought that a scene was a bit out of place a time or two, like it was put there merely to better paint the backdrop of 1920's New York City. It didn't much affect my overall opinion, however. Paired with subtle humor and a keen eye for lively details, Libba Bray is a study in beautiful language.
Language became a bit of an issue for me during some parts of the plot. While I was impressed and deeply appreciative of Libba Bray's immense knowledge of 1920's lingo, I thought sometimes it was a bit overused. The excessive use drew me out of the story a time or two, like I was suffering from sensory overload.
Though The Diviners was told from multiple points of view, it centered on Evie. Evie was a great main character. She was inspiring because she had the ability to be unbelievably irritating at times with her selfishness, but the fact I found her irritating and likable says to me that underdevelopment or poor character-building wasn't to blame. Rather that she was presented in such a human-like way that I could accept her, rough edges and all, because I could relate to her on some levels. Still, there were moments that I just couldn't believe how selfish, self-centered, arrogant, mean and downright stupid she could be. Those moments were backed up quite convincingly by Libba Bray, so I was left shaking my head and hoping she'd remember her mistakes, as if I were a friend admonishing her for her recklessness rather than a judgmental stranger.
Above all, The Diviners scared me half to death. It's as if Libba Bray had personally snuck inside my head, withdrew all the tiny things that made my skin crawl, and fit them into words. I learned, the hard way I'm afraid, why reading The Diviners before bed was a bad idea. Coupled with the fact that I was sleeping on my grandmother's couch at the time, overall was not conducive to sleeping. Especially since I was looking over my shoulder into the darkness every few seconds, to see if Naughty John was standing there, ready to start whistling while he chased me around the house. Bray made a clever move by putting several of the murder scenes in the point of view of the victim. It brought creepiness to a whole new level.
I'm excited for this new journey that the Diviners trilogy has in store. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters that seasoned this haunting read -- Memphis, Theta, Sam, Jericho and Will -- and I anxiously await the continuation to their story....more
The Dead Girls Detective Agency is not my idea of a hardcore ghost story, mostly because at every twist and turn, it's an epic meeting of Cliches United. Take out the humor and you're left with a mass of predictability: mean, slow and slutty cheerleaders, brooding bad boys, a lead (ghost) detective with the brains of a geek princess and the tact of a nuclear bomb, and a main character who "just wants..." to within an inch of her death. And despite it all (even the totally sketchy murderer)... Dead Girls was a charming and entertaining book. It was four hundred-odd pages of fluff and questionable taste, but it was also incredibly funny and original.
I can't honestly say that I liked the main character, Charlotte, because she seemed way too cookie cutter for me. Nearly all of her reactions and responses were predictable to the point where I would smirk whenever she said exactly what I knew she would. I will totally give her kudos for her sometimes snappy comebacks, though. Her interactions with bad ghost boy, Edison, were like getting ringside seats to a high school drama and luckily, I brought along popcorn. The rest of the characters weren't much of a step up from Charlotte. Lorna was good comic relief, but I thought Nancy was a bit unformed. I kept getting her and Lorna confused in the beginning of the story, and character confusion isn't a huge turn-on.
Moving over that speed bump... the murder plot? The whodunnit? Pretty weak. I was disappointed at the climax because all the build up fell flat. I was expecting a more believable and definitive motive from the murderer -- I mean, if you're going to push a girl under a train, you'd better be outright unhinged (and insanity doesn't just go by unnoticed). The whole murder mystery just lacked a creative hand. Though that's not to say the ending wasn't interesting. There was a twist at the end that I liked, although now it has me unconsciously prepped for a sequel, evidence of which has yet to be seen.
I liked the world of Dead Girls. I liked how teen ghosts check in to a hotel and, of course, go through the Big Red Door when they get their Key from the confession of their murderer. They get to port places with just a thought, and they can choose when they appear to humans for the most effective haunting. They can walk through walls and possess humans (which is Cox's way of explaining deja vu) but the only drawback (besides being dead) is that they can't change anything about their appearance. It has to stay the same way it did when they were dead. So if you happened to be wearing your god awful school uniform at the time of the incident... Well... Nobody expects you to look all that attractive when you're dead, right?
My favorite part of this story was the humor. All kinds of hilarity floating around the afterlife. I thought it was a bit strange that Dead girls kept flitting between a fluffy, almost middle grade material to all of a sudden, hello, we're using swear words. I really expected it to be one or the other -- hardcore with big girl swear words or fluffy and middle grade. It's alternating style made it come off a little unconvincing but I still appreciated the humor. A lot of it was truly clever, and I'd totally share a fist bump with Suzy Cox for some of the stuff she came up with.
So despite the hiccups, The Dead Girls Detective Agency was a fun and fast-ish read. I'm not really attracted to the ghostly side of fantasy, but this one was enjoyable and swayed me a little towards picking up something from the other side more often....more
It's almost unbelievable to try and think about all the awesomeness that Maggie Stiefvater possesses in a singular person. She has established herself so thoroughly and built up such a reputation that, for a moment, I was worried that The Raven Boys might be just a little bit of a letdown. It was not. Maggie Stiefvater delivers, once again, 100%. The crowning factor for me was her stunning writing ability but also how that ability amplifies the motivations and desires of her characters. The Raven Boys was not so much an entertaining paranormal read, but a psychological display of greed, revenge, shame, and a lust for power and importance. Which makes it sound so hardcore and depressing, when really the ugly human stuff allows for the beautiful human stuff to shine brighter. It's Maggie Stiefvater's understanding of what drives human behavior that really made this book so enjoyable for me.
In retrospect, and after much forced consideration, I realized how ironic The Raven Boys turned out to be. In the book, there's a constant reminder from Blue of how impressive they are, but what's truly impressive is how much they actually dominated my view of the book. Looking back on it, I almost completely forgot about Blue. Only when I searched for quotes to use for this review did I realize that I had never -- even once -- mentioned Blue's name. Blue was a major character (and an awesome one), and yet the boys' personalities had totally clouded her out in my mind. I think this happened partially because several parts of the story are told in the boys' point of view. The narration style for The Raven Boys was more omniscient, and though it didn't just go around dropping into people's heads randomly, characters who I would deem "secondary" (like, funnily enough, the antagonist) were given their own voice in the story.
This style gave the story a more rounded feel, like it had matter-of-factly encompassed an entire world in three hundred pages. Right off, I could get a sense of what the rules of the Raven universe were. I didn't have to trawl through the prose to try and figure out if any of the preconceived notions I had were going to hold up. Throughout the entire novel, I was amazed by the details and amount of possibility in the world. And with Maggie Stiefvater's succinct writing style, information was given neatly without having to resort to word vomit.
Maggie Stiefvater's writing skills are wonderful. Ever read a how-to book on fiction writing? Every bit of writing advice boils down to show, don't tell. Don't bother with the how-to section anymore. Just read Maggie Stiefvater. I recall one of the occasions where I was floored by the writing: when, in the space of a few sentences, I had, in my mind, a complete sense of a character. And another time when the atmosphere of a place was brought completely to life in a single paragraph:
Mornings at 300 Fox Way were fearful, jumbled things. Elbows in sides and lines for the bathroom and people snapping over tea bags placed into cups that already had tea bags in them. There was school for Blue and work for some of the more productive (or less intuitive) aunts. Toast got burned, cereal went soggy, the refrigerator door hung open and expectant for minutes at a time. Keys jingled as car pools were hastily decided. (p. 29)
At times, the writing was almost too good. Time and time again I was pulled out of the story to marvel over how well something had been said, which admittedly is most likely a byproduct of a writer's insecurity in the face of a superior being, and also, how can writing be too good?
As a psychology fan, I was extremely impressed by the motivations clearly built into the characters -- motivations more in line with the uglier side of human nature, like greed and shame, and the battles that occur on the outside with friends and family as well as on the inside with morality and choices. Which sounds very grandiose, but it makes me thrilled to see this kind of depth in a young adult novel. Finally, something with actual substance and not mere fluff that smudges the shelves at the bookstore. Here is something worth reading.
A long time fan of Maggie Stiefvater's work, I was happy to know for myself that The Raven Boys did not disappoint....more
Aha, the series I love to hate. I picked up Finale out of a sense of obligation: I'd read the first three books, and hey, it's the last one so might as well, right? I couldn't even see it through to the very end. Two hundred pages and I had to call it quits. I had no interest in the plot, the characters grated on my very, very last nerve and the writing, which had lost its appeal after the first book, was not a great help. For me, Finale was just the capper of a long journey of irritation and strained patience.
"Will love conquer all?" Not only do I question the way the word "love" is used in this series, if Nora has anything to do with it, I very much doubt anything will survive. With Nora, it was just an epic case of "Really? You're that naive?" I can't get behind characters who can't make up their mind on something and stick with it through to the end. Flitting between decisions like a drunk butterfly with a dislocated wing and an insecurity complex did nothing to make me sympathize with Nora. That, and she lets people push her around (when she's "supposed" to be in charge) and generally being irritating. I just want to tell her to go sit down somewhere.
None of the other characters picked up the slack for me. Patch's brooding and badass all-black attitude was sexy in the first book, but now? Ugh, not even. He can go have a seat next to Nora. As I saw it, they could have each other, just as long as they didn't drag everyone else down with them while they were at it. Vee was such a darling for a while in the beginning of the series, but her attitude just got on my nerves in this one. As for the introduction of new characters (and insufferable, constant presence of old ones), I wasn't impressed. I couldn't get into any of the characters.
Usually, if the characters won't work for me, the plot doesn't stand a chance. In this case, even if the characters had worked, the plot would've had me going "WTF?" Mostly, it was "wow, I didn't see that coming at all" with a heavy dose of sarcasm. The stakes were seriously shadowy and undefined, so the plot seemed strung together like one drama-fest after another. I had little to zero interest in what was going on, let alone how it affected the characters.
The writing started catching on my nerves with the third book, Silence, but this time? Wasn't edgy, wasn't elegant, just wasn't working for me at all.
Nothing about Finale worked for me. I just couldn't convince myself to continue after two hundred pages of irritation. I'm sorry that it didn't, because I have fond memories of Hush, Hush. It's just that the magic didn't carry from that book forward....more
My first impression, before ever having opened the book, was that it was gonna flop. I just figured that with a plot like that told from the points of view of three different characters...something said it wouldn't work.
Well. That's what I get for losing faith in Australian/New Zealand authors. Because The Shattering was an excellent book with rich characters, an impressive storyline and a haunting setting. Not to mention hilarious humor.
I was in love from the first chapter. Keri's character really set the tone and my interest was piqued from the blunt way she told her story. I knew right away that this wasn't going to be some summer story with crappy romances and cheap inner battles. Karen Healey was not fooling around with this book.
At first, I thought it would be a contemporary, because that's the impression I got from the summary. It's not, however. It's actually an urban fantasy and I think it worked out great. The story fit with the genre, and carried a lot of depth.
I loved the myth and culture involved. By the end of the story, I felt as if I were coming home from vacation--that's how well Karen Healey represented the setting of Summerton. It was creepy, but compelling, which made it even creepier. I was spooked but couldn't get out by that point.
The dynamic between the three main characters--Keri, Janna and Sione--was fascinating. Karen Healey didn't shy away from anything. The three had a lot of complications. They weren't instant buddies, which I thought was fitting. Cookie cutter friendships have been becoming more common lately and their unique natures made me fall in love with them right away.
Karen Healey was a breath of fresh air. I can't wait to get my hands on more of her books....more
I wanna say that this is my new favorite book, but it just…isn't. But take note that this wasn't a bad book. It was kind of hard to push myself through the ending, sure, but that was probably due to a sudden influx of typical teenage depression (AKA: mood swing).
There wasn't anything incredibly appealing about the main character, Silla. She was whiny sometimes and other times, she was really cool and I wanted to be her best friend. She appeared to me to be one of those characters who're so deep in their self-pity that they wander around and do stupid things. So I had a hard time really connecting with her. I wanted to slap her more than I wanted to console her.
Nick was the real flavor of the book. He was crass, bold, and atypical. He was cliché at times, but his whole character worked. He wasn't pushing to be the hero, but that's what he turned out to be in several ways. He was like a dark knight—and I totally call dibs. ;)
The plot was a great one. A unique idea—blood magic. I loved the flashbacks to Josephine's time—she was truly a whacky character. Scared the crap out of me. How her story and Silla and Nick's were intertwined was brilliantly done and I nearly jumped out of my seat during the scary scenes.
So while a bit depressing at times, funny at others, in summation the whole book rather fell flat for me. I most likely will pick up the sequel, though, because I am intrigued about what happens next. Let's see if our dark knight will turn out to be a total sissy. ...more
I loved the idea, but I had a hard time getting into the story. I didn't have a lot of sympathy or compassion for the characters. They all seemed a bit shallow to me. The story was interesting, if a bit unorganized, and the writing was not what I was expecting at all.
I didn't feel at all compelled to continue reading Kali's story. I liked Kali's character enough, especially this interesting situation she finds herself in: her powers switching on and off every other day. And the problems she faces with her dad. Kali herself had an interesting dynamic--she has little sense of normality, but I felt as if that wasn't portrayed very well.
The sub-characters Skylar and Bethany were interesting, but their group dynamic was typical: girl that babbles, girl that's popular but not actually the b*tch she appears to be, and the screw up in the middle. Bethany can't stand Skylar, Skylar can't stand Bethany, Kali trying to keep the peace because she needs the friendship. I liked Skylar and Bethany, but not enough to really care about them.
Kali's story was...almost typical and expected. Not as complex as I was hoping for. I had no problem figuring out the mystery. I did like Kali's powers, though. That was cool and different, though maybe not described very well.
The real let down for me, though, was the writing. Very simple, and not elegant. There were spots of humor and brilliance, but they were few and far between. I was expecting more from Jennifer Lynn Barnes because I loved Raised By Wolves.
For the final installment in the Caster Chronicles, I had in mind a sweeping conclusion with a racing, pulse-wrecking climax and heart-fluttery ending. I didn't get what I had hoped for. I had wanted to like this book so much; I was so excited to finally read it, and yet I was left going, "What the heck?" around the two hundred page mark. What had started out as an interesting, complex plot turned into a twisting, incomprehensible mess.
Unlike the first three books, Beautiful Redemption is broken into three parts: the first and third in Ethan's point of view, and the second part in Lena's. While the first part had built up the suspense nicely, carefully stacking up conflict until the characters seemed backed into a corner, I felt things began to fall apart when Lena's narration took over. (It's quite possible that Lena's POV and the plot fumbling have nothing to do with each other, they just happened to come at the same time.) The plot became rushed and random things happened. (And not in the charming, Rick Riordan style. These things were random and unexplained.) The confusion made for lack of interest. By the time the (entirely predictable) ending came around, I was left going, "What is supposed to be going on here?"
Also, Lena's POV only solidified how much I didn't really like her. I didn't dislike her the same way I dislike Bella Swan types. Lena was just unimpressive to me. She cried too much and fell apart at all the wrong moments. And she had all this power at her fingertips and yet she didn't use it when a crisis called for it? That stuff was a major turn off. On the flipside, I saw a lot of growth in Ethan. I felt like he had actually changed in the course of the story, whereas Lena remained suspended in time.
The writing in Beautiful Redemption lost a lot of the charm of the previous book. With all the telling and no showing, it had lost a lot of the cleverness that I had so much admired in Beautiful Chaos. Half the time, I was groaning at the truly awful dialogue that had suddenly degraded halfway through and the rest of the time, I was left in utter confusion. Several times I had to backtrack and try to figure out what was going on. Not an appealing trait in any book, let alone the conclusion to a series.
My lack of love for Beautiful Redemption makes me want to shed a few tears since I've had the chance to reflect over the entire series and I've realized that I haven't truly loved any of the books. While I appreciated the depth of the world and frankly adored Amma's little sayings, the romance was the driving force behind it all. And I never could fully get into the romance because I never liked Lena. I'm glad to have read the entire series, though. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl built a fantastic world and very detailed (if sometimes confusing) plot, peppered with a cast of amazing characters....more
This was a book that I wasn't supposed to like. Anna Dressed in Blood, from its shadowy cover to its ghost-killing main character, had every possible turn-off possible in my eyes. Fact is, I don't do creepy books. My sensitive but suggestible imagination can't handle it. Anna Dressed in Blood surpassed all expectations and returned me to a state of readership where I read it for the love of the story, and not because five million people were shoving in my face in an attempt to get me to read it. The main character, Cas, was captivating and memorable; his friends, seemingly ordinary people who are forced to do extraordinary things; a plot that kept me glued to the pages, and a romance that I cheered for... All wrapped together in an atmosphere layered with history and topped off with a dash of humor.
I think it was the humor that did it for me. Kendare Blake could've easily turned this story into one that left me unable to close my eyes at night by stripping it of any relief from the suspense. Instead, Cas's narrative is peppered with quips that had me giggling one moment, before the plot turned and I was left with a screwed up expression of disgust. Kendare Blake didn't rely on cheap tricks and overly described gory scenes to mess with the reader. She went past that, into the realm where (we normal people) don't like to go. Described with simple, skin-crawling details, the story made me cringe as easily as it made me laugh.
I loved Cas's narrative for more than just his wicked tendency towards gallows humor. His sense of vulnerability made him appear alive to me; he wasn't this fearless guy who sprinted in to slay mean ghosties. Every move to action was precipitated by a fear of losing something, like his family or his life. I liked that.
Also, his friends developed in a way that surprised me. For example, he makes friends with the school's queen bee, Carmel, and I thought she'd drop out of the story completely. Instead, she becomes one of the main characters and develops a force of her own. Each character was developed in this way, and it gave the book a unique flavor.
The plot was a straightforward adventure story, and like many of the contemporaries of its kind, it was fast and it was heart-pumping. Kendare Blake handled it well, presenting enough mystery to sustain the reader without riddling the entire story with lose ends to be gathered up within the last fifteen pages. The lack of hardcore mystery made it easier, I think, to slip into the world; my brain didn't have to restart itself and think back to the last thing that had happened. The action scenes were well described, so much so that I could see it projected in my mind like a movie. (This book would make an awesome movie.)
Even though the romance was entirely predictable and in retrospect, Anna came off as rather flat and one dimensional, I cheered for Cas and Anna all the way. Their romance wasn't like all the other supernatural pairings that are now a dime a dozen, where the "we can't be together" speech is worthy of an epic eye roll because it seems so melodramatic. Not here. I understood what stood in Cas and Anna's way. I wanted Cas to be able to make it past the obstacles, I totally cheered for him. Anna came off a bit one dimensional sometimes, but I didn't notice until I thought back on the book. Fact was, they worked for each other and for me.
I loved the atmosphere Kendare Blake created. Settled in its spookiness, it was easy to get lost in the world of Thunder Bay. It was equal parts creepy and intriguing. It makes me want more of the world, just as much as I want more of Cas and Anna's story.
Anna Dressed in Blood is perfect for those who love a thrill, as well as for those who don't. I'm so glad I picked it up -- a hearty "thank you" to those five million people who were dying for me to read it. I loved every page. ...more
A well crafted and excellently written book, though it's not without its faults.
This is the first thing I've read of Laini Taylor's and it's an impressive first impression. I was completely blown away with the writing. The setting was what really took me away, though. I don't think I've ever read a book where the author painted a foreign setting that clearly. (I mean, thank you Jesus, finally!) This seriously makes me want to visit Prague now or hunt down every movie set in Prague and have a Friday Night Movie Fest.
Karou was an interesting main character whose strength really showed through. I loved her consistent sense of humor and steel-like core. I loved her quirks—artistic ability (MY GOD, SO ENVIOUS!) and language collection (EVEN MORE ENVIOUS). She was never annoying.
Her relationship with the angel, however, was pushing my patience. I kept getting distracted by the whole "love at first sight deal" with undertones of a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance. I want to compare it to Twilight because there wasn't a lot of the stuff that truly makes a stable relationship, just mostly physical attraction. I had a hard time not thinking, "Okay, seen this before. Get. Real."
I was very taken with the set up of the story. The plot was intricate, unique and very well set up. As it got closer and closer to the end, I started figuring things out slowly as each new piece of information was presented. I love that kind of slow-coming realization! I'm glad I found a book where I didn't have the whole plot figured out by chapter three.
Monsters…angels…very cool. Even though I couldn't really get into the romance, I loved the story and the worlds and the characters.
(The ending annoyed me though. Just saying. Makes me hesitate to pick up the next book. o.o)...more
My first experience with Jackson Pearce's work came many, many years ago with her novel, As You Wish. As a know-it-all fourteen-year-old, I wasn't that impressed and I never finished it. It was too short and too kiddy for the likes of me. Now, after having read Sisters Red, Sweetly, and now Fathomless, I'm intensely curious about that first book I picked up. I have had my mind blown -- yet again -- by Jackson Pearce's amazingly creative talent for capturing a breathtaking story within three hundred pages.
Like Sweetly, Fathomless kept me up way past my bedtime. I couldn't let go of Celia and Lo's story, or the world of ocean girls and power triplets. In retrospect, I'm amazed at how much atmosphere was packed in with the plot and character development. Almost as if those aspects were fused together, and not separate things. Short books don't generally appeal to me because they're like a single inch of a foot long idea: they don't reach their full potential. Jackson Pearce defies this idea. She establishes atmosphere, character and plot very compactly -- not "quickly," as if she rushes it, but "compactly." She doesn't waste words.
My sisters love this place.
It smells like sand and cigarettes and cotton candy, like sunscreen and salt. The scent builds up all summer, and now, at the height of tourist season, it's so thick that I think I could wave an empty bottle around and it would fill with liquid perfume.
She also doesn't fall back on the typical, well-worn templates that lazy writers use. Jackson Pearce got deep into the characters' minds and strung out every flaw and imperfection that made them human, or inhuman, as the case may be. I loved the psychological battles that raged between Celia and Lo, as well as Celia and her sisters. Celia and Lo each had their own motivations -- Lo fought with being human, Celia fought with her power; Celia was one of a triplet, but the odd one out -- and their internal battles inherently affected their relationship. Those aspects drew me in the most. They mimicked the same kind of undercurrents that run underneath everyday conversations and interactions. So even though Celia can read someone's past and Lo is a creature of the deep, the relationships they had with their family and friends bore the same complications and intricacies of real-life situations.
I liked how the romance both did and did not take center stage. The romance between Celia and Jude was sweet and well-developed without being the main purpose of the story. The romance, however, was practically the driving force of the plot. Had there been no Jude, the ending would've fallen apart. I liked this duality because it's not something I've seen often, and Jackson Pearce pulled it off extremely well by focusing attention on the ups and downs of the plot.
I loved how Jackson Pearce went in and owned this story. I was pulled in from page one and I couldn't stop thinking about the story until I finally finished it. I think this story would fit anyone's interests, whether you like contemporary fiction or paranormal romances, even if you don't like mermaid stories (because it's just enough of a mermaid story to appeal to those who loved The Little Mermaid and just unique enough to suit those who didn't.)...more
My expectation: something totally goofy. Sherman Alexie's blurb -- "This is a scary funny book or a funny scary book. In either case, it is a great book. I love it." -- was a fair warning, even if I didn't quite believe it. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was a funny book. It was also a freaky as hell book, and teaches me to mind my manners when reading a book with Lish McBride at the helm. Just as good as Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake in the creepy department, though Anna pales just a bit in comparison, let's be honest. I enjoyed everything from the characters to the way it switched effortlessly between light superficiality to hard, cold badassery.
I loved Sam's character, but in a way that makes me think I wouldn't have the guts to approach him in real life because, while he may consider himself socially awkward, he's actually wickedly funny (and to a 20-year-old with the sense of humor as non existent as an unattractive Tom Hiddleston, funny guys are endlessly attractive). Sam was open and vulnerable, exposing his weaknesses but also his steel core. He could shriek like a girl at the sight of a severed head, but he could also take care of business like a BAMF. Sam is just the kind of narrator I'm drawn to: one who struggles with power. He held this book together excellently.
In fact, all of the characters brought this story to life in the way that well-cast Broadway productions seem to just work, even if you can't say exactly why. Lish McBride has me convinced that she has the ability to write good characters, which says to me that no matter what genre she chooses to write in, she will produce a work of enjoyable quality.
Really, when I say "enjoyable" I mean "holy crap I'm freaked out but I kinda like it." When I first cracked open Hold Me Closer, Necromancer I assumed that the "freaky" stuff was going to be hokey at best and schticky at worst, and I was not expecting to be left rolling my shoulders with unease and enduring a shudder that rippled all the way down my spine. Lish McBride has this ability to present something creepy in an off-handed way, sort of lulling you into a false sense of security until she snaps the comedy off with a healthy dose of skin-crawling reality.
Really, it's like a superpower. It's almost enough to keep me away from her work. Almost. I am super psyched to get a copy of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer for my shelves and to pick up the sequel, Necromancing the Stone, because the thing I loved above all else in this book was that no matter how much something appeared superficial and fluffy, there was a hard truth that came at you like a prize fighter. Lish McBride's way of kidding-not-kidding has me excited and apprehensive about her work all at once, but definitely willing to continue reading her books....more
My first question with this book was, "What is it with stalker guys and windows?!" Because seriously, how many times am I going to have to read about borderline stalker guys climbing in through windows before it gets old? That question really sums up my experience with Everneath: there are archetypes and then there are stereotypes and I felt that this book was chockfull of the latter. I found it uninteresting and lacking in cleverness and intrigue. Really, it was just disappointing.
Firstly, I didn't understand the appeal of the myth this novel was based on. The myth of Hades and Persephone is about kidnapping and imprisonment. There was nothing romantic about the myth, and I searched and failed to find the romantic passion in Everneath.
I might've been able to see past my skepticism of the myth if Nikki had been a character that was capable of carrying a story well. She came off as vastly transparent and shallow because her motivations weren't made clear, or were stated after the fact. For example, she returned to the surface to say her goodbyes... but just not to her family. She had a younger brother who was almost never mentioned, which I didn't like at all. She returned for her ex-boyfriend. That was just pitiful. She also never did anything surprising. She was more like a mannequin or wind up toy, constantly fluctuating between doing something dim-witted and doing nothing at all. I just didn't get her at all, and it made it really difficult to get into the story while having to mentally spar around Nikki.
Another roadblock for me was the supposed romance. I knew that there was supposed to be something building up between Nikki and Cole (the creeper in aisle five who likes to climb through windows uninvited) but there was also the reconstruction of the demolished attraction between Nikki and her ex-beau, Jack. I didn't understand the purpose behind either relationship. Cole's main tactic to convince Nikki to come back to Everneath with him was blatant manipulation and overenthusiastic brooding. Jack was supposed to be sweet; the picturesque devastated ex-boyfriend. Sorry. Couldn't find the appeal in either guy.
The story itself I thought was sloppy. It lacked a cleverness, an intrigue, a constant unasked question. When I picked it up, I was expecting a plot that would wrangle the main character into a corner until a tiny loophole was exposed or she fought her way out. Something that would have me cheering or going "oh snap." No such luck here. It focused mostly on "unraveling" the "mystery" behind the reason Nikki got to the Everneath with a little bit of "my best friend loves my boyfriend" drama. Frankly, it was boring. There was nothing interesting or compelling to keep me going.
The writing was very disappointing. Definitely more of a first draft quality than a polished final edition. A lot of telling, nowhere near enough showing. I was frustrated most of the time because the writing was too simplistic in all the wrong ways.
Overall, Everneath just wasn't for me. There was too much brooding, too much unnecessary drama, too much of sneaking through windows and convenient misunderstandings. I only got about 3/4th of the way through it -- I couldn't even bring myself to finish it because I'd lost all interest....more