Charlie claims that she isn't an idiot and then does everything she can to demonstrate that she actually is, as usual. Like repeatedly risking her andCharlie claims that she isn't an idiot and then does everything she can to demonstrate that she actually is, as usual. Like repeatedly risking her and that of her unborn and fated-to-slay-Satan baby's life without letting Reyes come with her, and blocking him from being able to sense her being in danger, before even bothering to try getting some information about the mysterious hellhounds from the one person on Earth who might know about them. And I'm getting into a Stephanie Plum situation here where I complain about the books more than is reasonable, when will I abandon them? But I like Darynda and I want to support her, and library circulation is still supporting her, even though I know posting critical whining reviews really is not. Not liking Reyes and how he treats Charley is a matter of taste, not of how well the books are written, I know that for some reason lots of people think hot is more important than mutual respect. I'm sure all of the people who love Fifty Shades will like these books. Not that it's as sexual as those books. But he's hot, and he manipulates the hell out of her and she doesn't seem to mind, she just bulldozes past what she doesn't like or ignores the rest. She thinks he's a poor little devil's boy who's had it so rough that he needs all of her empathy to fix his wounded heart. It's a messed up relationship. But I like her friendship with Cookie, and Cookie's daughter. And her Ubie/Uncle Bob. And how hard she works to help the ghosts, she has really good intentions and her priorities really are intact under all of the banter. Despite Reyes objections that she should stay safe inside and wait out the danger, her life is going to be dangerous now and the people who've died need her to help them, they can't just hire another PI. Especially in an ongoing police case where one of the victims died while she was asking Rocket about him, underscoring in the most clear way that finding that killer was urgent, it was an active case and an urgent one. So if course Charley didn't want to just hide inside while they waited for the hellhounds to show up, one great thing about her is how deeply she cares for people and especially how hard she works to help the people who come to her for help, whether their request is big or small.
If the flipness could just come down 20% so it could be funny like it was in the beginning instead of grating like it's been in the last few books? It isn't fresh anymore. I still hate the named body parts, for example, when caffeine withdrawal made her feel like her brain, Barbara, was going to explode, but luckily her clearly hard skull Fred kept everything intact, or something like that. And her heart named Betty White was mentioned too many times.
But the big thing is that the woman only grows in tiny fits and starts, I'm sure in part because the series is popular and the actual plot is being dished out as slow as possible to sell as many books as possible. But Charley never seems to learn from her mistakes or horrible experiences or grow at all. There was one book (four) where her life actually was impacted by all of the seriously disturbing things that happens to her and it was a terrific book. She was dealing with fear and anxiety and depression and it was actually great. She felt real and relatable and like someone I'd actually like to know. The book had depth while still being fun and I thought it would impact how the rest of the serious would go, show a new layers to Charley's character. And now all of that is wiped out, she's learned nothing, takes just as many risks, acts just as insanely stupid. Reyes even mentioned the incident in this book that led to her being so anxious and freaked out and she just pushed it away like she didn't want to think about it, so much for maturity. Forget trying to keep a fish alive, how's she going to keep herself and her friends alive, much less that baby? Oh well, seat of the pants had worked great so far so I'm sure she'll do just fine. I have no idea why Reyes had any doubts in her ability to stay safe, she was totally wrong to get upset with him for doubting her, how dare she be upset with him! Normally I hate his pushy, stalker bull but in this book I was on his side, she's just too stupid to live and refuses to learn or listen....more
I really loved this collection. I'm coming to realize that I'm more of an anthology girl than a collection reader in general. I like the variety and II really loved this collection. I'm coming to realize that I'm more of an anthology girl than a collection reader in general. I like the variety and I can get bogged down in collection if they aren't balanced really well. And this is a long collection, twenty stories and five poems. It looks like the limited edition printed version of the book has ten more stories that weren't in the ebook, as well. But despite the length and my inclinations, this book was great, I really enjoyed every bit of it.
Even though I'd read several of the stories before, I re-read all of them except White Lines on a Green Field, which was fine (and award-nominated), but not one of my favorites. I enjoyed my re-reads of The Bread We Eat in Dreams (award-nominated), the very odd One Breath, One Stroke (which is one of the stories that made me fall in love with Valente), and Silently and Very Fast (award-nominated), which is probably the best short story/novella I've ever read. In fact, Silently was even better the second time around, I understood it better and picked up on nuances I'd missed the first time. Silently is still available online from when it was printed in Clarkesworld, I urge you to try it if you haven't read it yet.
It's interesting just to look at those three stories and see that one uses US history with a bit of mythology, a demon and religion, one uses Japanese culture and mythology, and one is science fiction and mythology, everything from Enki and Inanna to Snow White. But she uses the mythological references in such new and creative ways, she just blows me away. This isn't re-writing or updating fairy tales. In her stories mythology is a touchstone, or a mirror, or a jumping off point, but what she does with it is completely new and fascinating.
As for the other stories, I was never bored, but some I loved, some were fun and some were just smiles and nods. I loved my first visit to her version of Fairyland in The Girl Who Rules Fairyland—For a Little While. The teenage runaways inVoice Like a Hole were moving. The Shoot-Out at Burnt Corn Ranch was wild, she was at her craziest in that one, kind of a wild west version of One Breath with mythology and characters run rampant. I'm not good at reading poetry, my eyes just don't focus on it well, but I tried a few times with these and eventually The Melancholy of Mechagirl sunk in, and so did Red Engines. There were many other stories that were quite good, but those were my favorites. It's really a terrific collection. Which obviously isn't just my opinion, considering how many of the stories in the collection were nominated for and won so many awards. For once I'm in agreement with the judges. The collection was also nominated for the 2014 Locus Award. Those Locus voters always seem to get it right, good job guys. ...more
I read a story of Ballingrud's in Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales and he was one of the author's I liked well enough to really remember afterward. II read a story of Ballingrud's in Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales and he was one of the author's I liked well enough to really remember afterward. I wanted to read more of his short stories but at the time the way to do that was to get this book and it wasn't out yet. And I was disappointed to see that it was being published by a small press and I didn't think my library would be getting it. I'm so thrilled to see that since it's release the collection has been nominated for several awards, including but not necessarily limited to the BFSA, the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. Pretty impressive for an author's first collection! And lucky for me, I was wrong. First, Tor.com released a story from the book, "The Monsters of Heaven," so I got a small taste now. And I saw that my library does have the book on order, so I'll get to return to the collection soon and read the rest of it.
Monsters was dark and weird and sad. It was very rooted in the reality of what happens between a couple when a child is lost, but it added the element of something happening out in the world, these "angels" arriving, and how one specific angle would impact the dynamic between this devastated couple. I'm looking forward to seeing if there's any pattern or connection between his stories, if the monsters are as often human as otherworldly.
---- Oct 2014 update:
The rest of the book was just as dark and weird as the first story that I read. None of the stories had what I found to be a satisfying ending. Which was the style he was going for, it just wasn't my style....more
Non-stop action, the definition of a page-turner. Kadrey did a fantastic job of pulling all of the elements of the long story arc together and bringinNon-stop action, the definition of a page-turner. Kadrey did a fantastic job of pulling all of the elements of the long story arc together and bringing the story to a close. Or so I though right until I got to the very end. And then I thought, OK, maybe there really can be more to come after all. We'll see!...more
3.5 stars. I have mixed feelings about this one. The details were weak. The storytelling skills were not up to Harrison's better efforts for sure, and3.5 stars. I have mixed feelings about this one. The details were weak. The storytelling skills were not up to Harrison's better efforts for sure, and she also should be demanding more from her editors and beta readers. But the big finale was a BIG finale, which is pretty hard to do well at the end of a thirteen book series, so I have to give her credit for pulling a lot of story lines together and leaving us with a bang.
On the negative side, it was too repetitive. There were way too many tingles when Trent touched her, I felt as sick about it as Jenks did by the end. And Rachel's insecurities were more than hammered home. I get it. I've had that feeling that it isn't going to last and you're trying to treasure every bittersweet moment. But it was repeated and repeated that it was her fault that Trent had lost power, all of his problems were her fault, their relationship could never last because he'd lost his influence because of her. It gave Trent no credit for having a mind of his own, was one side of the story, and was just repeated way too much. She spends the entire book in a tizzy of insecurity until the very end when suddenly she's cured of all anxiety as if by magic. It was not fun. And everything about Ivy's story was just irritating except for the concept of how it ended. (view spoiler)[I don't know where the strong, fascinating woman that I fell in love with went but she's been beat down by her fear so long that I don't recognize her. And I don't get anything about why I should like Nina. She was a victim and an addict and I do feel bad for her. But an addict and an enabler does not make a good relationship. I didn't see anything likable about her in this book. And suddenly Felix died and now we're all supposed to be on board with Nina, she's strong and a leader? Or a warmonger. And then it all falls apart again until it's happily ever after. I'm glad that Ivy and the vampires are getting a happy ending, and I didn't want or expect her to have some cookie cutter happy romance, but I just wish Nina could have some likable qualities. There weren't any displayed in this book and I have a bad memory, if she had them in past books, well, you're only as good as your last review. I'll be remembering Ivy going off with a selfish, whiny, unstable woman. Unstable for sure. Regardless of the state of her soul. (hide spoiler)] And Rachel always manages somehow to save the world, usually in an hour or less, somehow she can accomplish what no one else could with little to almost no effort. Create the spell that everyone wants, sure, she can do it in an afternoon, and don't forget to copyright that, Rache! Save the world, again, sure, no problemo. In typical urban fantasy style, our heroine will save the day. And then she finally stops feeling insecure about her relationship too! Because the first few times she saved the world weren't enough, this time it stuck that she's the bomb. Or something. Seriously, the relationship stuff sucked. If those two ever actually talked to each other like adults the book would have been light years better.
But the end was exciting, and some of the details were great. And after many dramatic books with huge save the world stakes, how do you end a series in a satisfying way? Harrison pulled it off. She managed to pull together most of the dangling emotional and story elements and write an exciting book and an actually pretty great grand finale. I was rolling my eyes a bit going into the big finale because Rachel was again thinking with her heart and not her head, she shouldn't have gone off to run after a friend when she'd already agreed to try and save the world. But you know our Rachel, she winged it and managed to do it all. (Ha ha, she winged it, sorry for the Goddess joke.) It was quite a juggling feat to keep all of the balls in the air and bring them around at just the right point so all of a sudden I saw them lining up perfectly for the big finale to come together like, well, magic. And it was thrill, as it should have been. Good job, Kim Harrison. I might quibble about some of the issues in the book, but for the final installment of a well loved series, I think she did a good job. And the little moments, the intimacies between friends weren't lost in the big sweeping dramas. The fun banter or angry snapping at each other that still helps make these characters feel more real than most is still here. The supporting characters that make the world feel so real were used, but not overused. The settings that have become almost characters themselves were used, or misused, appropriately.
But then I wish that it had just ended there. (view spoiler)[Big thrilling save the world how did she do that but boy it does make sense everyone got a happy ending ending very exciting on a high ending. The tacked on twenty-five years later thing was unnecessary and just annoying. What did we find out? Nothing that we couldn't have assumed, things worked out for all of our heroes. It's a blandly cute scene which to me was ruined by the basic concept that a couple has to want to be able to have children together to be happy. Even after a quarter of a century together and raising what appears to be two beautiful girls who consider them equally parents with their other co-parents/step-parents, whatever to call them, somehow Rachel and Trent must have a core of missing need because they can't have children together. It only actually matters in the case of these two because their races are dying out, she's the last demon able to breed and he appears to be the last elf, unless those Rosewood kids and Lucy and, well Lucy, can turn it around. Except the race thing wasn't mentioned, it wasn't because of demons or elves, it was strongly implied that without more kids their lives wouldn't be complete. But never fear, intrepid readers, all will be fixed by a magic wand or by science, one or the other in this series. I just don't like the very strong suggestion that their lives couldn't truly be fulfilled without more children of their own. People do manage. And choose it and have full lives. I get tired of so many books making having a baby an untimate goal, as through there would be something wrong with a woman or man who was OK with not wanting kids or accepting not being able to have kids or who was just happy raising the kids they already had through whatever means. And the message about marriage too. They saved the world (a lot), raised raised a family, and their reward it to get married. Huh? Marriage is a right, not a reward. The whole end was just lame. It wasn't anything about Rachel and what she'd accomplished, what she'd done with her life. Except that she waited around for him to finally get off his high horse and propose. Which she didn't even really care about. Or did, in which case he should have done it long, long ago. (hide spoiler)] Lame either way. Nothing was added in the last chapter that actually added to the story. Authors should stop feeling like they need to do these twenty-five years later chapters, they never work out.
So, overall, I hated Ivy's story and feel like Harrison lost the way with that one a long time ago. And Rachel was really whiny about her relationship, which was not fun. Oh, and Cormel, what a one-note jerk, not interesting at all. But Jenks was great (of course), the banter was good overall, and Harrision's juggling the big storylines into an exciting big finale led to a satisfying and even thrilling conclusion. Which I can't say another more about without putting in a lot more spoiler thingies, but stuff definitely happens throughout the book that I didn't expect and was pretty cool. I think that most fans who are still on board up until this point will be happy with the big idea stuff, though I think a lot of people will continue to be split on the shaky relationship portrayals. (view spoiler)[Newt deserves a whole extra star all on her own so I had to round up to four stars. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This was one of the best anthologies I've read. Almost every story was good, and it had a very good balance and flow overall. I did read it slowly oveThis was one of the best anthologies I've read. Almost every story was good, and it had a very good balance and flow overall. I did read it slowly over quite a period of time, putting it down and picking it up again many times, but I think this one would have held up pretty well for a straight read through.
Ian Tregillis - The Mainspring of His Heart, The Shackles of His Soul - A very good story, an intriguing alternate history and a moving story perfectly sculpted to fit the time available. I don't always like heart-tugging stories, I don't like feeling manipulated, and it's so easy for an author to cross that line. But this one work for me. It was a good opening for the book, setting the tone for the theme very well.
Jay Lake - The Blade of His Plow - The point of view changes weren't useful. Sometimes it's first, then it's third, it's too short of a story for that and it didn't add anything to it. And I just didn't buy into his motivation for being a soldier, for being killed and killing over and over again. I didn't like him, or feel sorry for him. I didn't actually feel much of anything, I just didn't connect with this one. If it had been a more original idea it could have saved it but I've read a ton of wandering Jew stories so it was all about the emotional impact.
Seanan McGuire - Cinderella City - This was a very enjoyable story, a good idea and well executed. It made me hope that the characters were a part of a series. I later found out that McGuire had written a previous short story about these characters in After Hours: Tales from Ur-Bar as well. This story didn't have the emotional depth that the first story in this book had, but it did have a cool idea and a sense of wonder that was a lot of fun, and it was a good change of pace for this point in the book.
Anton Strout - Tumulus - It was OK. It was good editing to have something a little darker at this point, the book was flowing well. I'm a fan of his but this wasn't my favorite thing he's done.
Fiona Patton - The Sentry - I found it hard to believe that a young woman (a girl really) could masquerade as a World War I soldier for more than a day or two without being caught. They didn't exactly have private latrines in those foxholes, much less in the barracks where they trained or anywhere else. It took away from the impact of the rest of the story, which was supposed to be very touching. Remember what I said about being a grumpy curmudgeon who doesn't like to be manipulated? It was still kind of touching.
Erik Scott de Bie - Ten Thousand Cold Nights - I'm glad I read the information about the author at the end of the book before reading this. It explained that the story draws upon the Japanese myth about the legendary competition between masters Muramasa and Masamune. In a test, Muramasa's blade was so bloodthirsty that it cut everything in its path including water and even air. Masamune's did not cut any of the things that Muramasa's did. Master Masamune's blade was declared the victor because it did not cut that which was innocent and deserving of preservation.
So, knowing all of that wasn't necessary going into the story, but it made it resonate more. It was a very good story, with a strong feeling of being firmly in the crossroads of historical fiction and fantasy, a legend of what might have been.
Dylan Birto - Mortality- I've read too many stories like this angel come down to Earth tale to enjoy this one. It was very predictable. It's just a story I've read in so many novels explored with so much more nuance (of course, they're longer). But it did fit the theme.
Tanith Lee - The Dog-Catcher's Song - A good story for the theme. A little creepy to think that one of our dogs might look at us romantically. But if it was turned into a human those loving emotions could certainly change. The teenage hormone point helped. I'll go with it for the sake of the story. I just read a story by Caitlin R. Kiernan because it was a finalist for the 2014 Locus Award that said that we shouldn't pick fairy tales apart with too much logic or fact and she was totally right. Anyway, it was kind of sad and sweet, a good fit for the book.
Laura Resnick - Mortal Mix-Up - This one was very disappointing. I'm a fan of her Esther Diamond series. She always balances adventure and humor in those books. But this wasn't funny and didn't go anywhere, it was just stereotypical and irritating. I hope it tickled other people's funny bones.
Jean Rabe - Band of Brothers - Such a bloodthirsty tale! I lost track of the number of broken arms, 30 dead men, and a dead-ish duck. But an original idea that I won't soon forget. The last line was great.
Tim Waggoner - Zombie Interrupted - This is more of an advertisement for his series than a real story, it felt like a tour guide of all of the different sites and creatures in Nekropolis than much of a story itself. I'm sure it intrigued some people into reading the series. I'm kind of intrigued, it sounds fun, a lot like the Dan Shamble books by Kevin J. Anderson but these came first by a lot of years. Usually the anthologies that I read , filled with stories by popular authors, are supposed to serve the dual purpose of entertaining you now and getting you to read more of the authors' works later. This didn't feel like so much that kind of a book, the stories are really strong, more the kind that get nominated for awards than just fun stories or between-the-book stories by popular authors that sell books. So this story seemed out of place. It was fine, it fit the theme, it just wasn't a story that would stand on it's own so much the way the others would.
Eugie Foster - Beneath the Silent Bell, The Autumn Sky Turns to Spring - A good story, the kind that seemed like it could earns awards. Not that it was perfect, just that it was the kind that judges seem to like, from what I can see from the award nominated stories that I've been reading. But I can't really figure out what they like.
Jody Lynn Nye - The Very Next Day - A cute Santa story. Bittersweet, but it didn't make me annoyed. The theme is human for a day, I can't get mad at all of the authors who take the description literally.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch - The Destroyer - I liked this story from a feral cat's perspective.
David D. Levine - Into the Nth Dimension - It wasn't perfect, but I liked the idea of the comic book world layered underneath ours with flatter colors, and how disorienting it would be to land in our with all of the extra vibrancy. The way the author described the change was great, very visual and easy to picture. The conflict between the characters was a bit predictable, duty versus freedom, responsibility versus love. It felt a lot like not so well disguised fanfic of the dynamic duo. But the concept was very cool.
Jim C. Hines - Epilogue - Very touching, a great way to end the book, though not a chipper one. But the story had it's light moments too, and definitely it's sweet ones. Good writing. And good editing to wrap things up.
There is a lot of history and a lot of life packed into this one story. It really is one of the best stories I've read this year among all of the manyThere is a lot of history and a lot of life packed into this one story. It really is one of the best stories I've read this year among all of the many award nomination processes, smart, clever and still enjoyable to read, but still important to remember. The whole package. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novella in 2013 against a strong field.
It was interesting that two other Nebula nominated novellas were also historical fiction. I strongly preferred this to Wakulla Springs, though I'm in the minority going by the number of nominations and wins it received. The history in that story was strong but the speculative fiction elements were weak, as was the pace and tension, both of which were strong here. Vylar Kaftan's The Weight of the Sunrise from Asimov's Science Fiction, February 2013 or possibly available online depending on your timing, was an alternate history of the Incan Empire that was also quite interesting and enjoyable to read. What if they'd found a way to isolate people with smallpox and quarantine them? How would it have changed the history of that nation, that region? And what sort of a relationship would the revolting American colonies want with the power to their south? I wasn't able to read Nancy Kress's or Catherynne M. Valente's stories that were also in the Nebula category, but Laurence M. Schoen's was a lot of fun, not what I normally see in award nominated stories, just a regular fun story well-told and a series that I want to add to my to-read list.
Anyway, The Burning Girls was a very powerful story in a field of strong, interesting and entertaining stories. The history happens to be some that I'm quite familiar with and I appreciate the way the more horrifying parts were told with deep emotion without going too sensational. It felt true, like the reader was witnessing a family tragedy. Usually short fiction has to focus in on one event or a short time frame to make the impact work within the physical size of the assignment, but this story attempted to show this family's triumphs and all to many tragedies over time and across cities and nations, and the author made it work, focusing in on a narrow enough tale that the slightly longer or wider scope worked very well. It's a story of America, just as Wakulla Springs was, with or without the demons and witches or sea monsters. It's always the monsters who wear human skin who are the scariest after all. All three of the historical fiction based stories show that element pretty clearly.
And once again I'm going on and on because I'm writing too late at night while I'm too tired. But The Burning Girls is available for free still from the Tor.com website and I think it may also be available from Amazon as well for the same low price, I encourage you to check it out. it's not a spot of light reading, but it's a worthwhile story that you'll remember. ...more
The first three books of this series were pretty good, especially as audiobooks. But I absolutely can't recommend this series to audiobook fans, the pThe first three books of this series were pretty good, especially as audiobooks. But I absolutely can't recommend this series to audiobook fans, the producers have screwed it up beyond redemption. The first book had a reader who was awkward at the beginning but grew into the part. I really enjoyed hearing the book, it made the views of New York and the detailed descriptions come to life, I really think I would not have become a fan of the series if I'd read it on paper. Then they switched readers for the second and third books. I was so thrown when I got the second book, I almost couldn't listen to it at all, it's so jarring to have a new narrator when you already know exactly what your characters sound like. But I stuck with it and grew to really like her. I think that second reader was Natalie Moore. But they continued to totally screw with things by hiring famous people to read the fourth book and they were beyond awful. They were so bad that they got different famous people to do the fifth book, but apparently didn't learn their lesson and bother to ask them to test read first because they were awful too. And again for the sixth book two more famous people stepped in. The man is pretty darn awful, and the woman is actually quite good except she's British. She has an English accent reading the New York characters. It was an insane choice. She did put on an American accent when she had to read the characters' voices, but the narration is in her real British accent. How am I supposed to feel like I'm relating to these characters and in their work when I'm hearing that? I'd managed somehow to plow through the horrible horrible narration of book four and the woman who stumbled over her words like a fourth grader but this I couldn't take and I finally abandoned it and waited for a few months to get the print copy from the library. If you want to try the first three books as audiobooks, you might be fine, just be prepared for the change in reader at book two. But definitely don't get the audiobooks for books four through six. Famous doesn't mean good at narrating.
As for the book, it had a lot of weaknesses. It just read a fan fiction, it was cheesy. I'm not someone who was ever involved in whatever controversies are out there about this author, I don't read fan fiction, I don't really know what happened, so don't flag me for comparing the book to it like I have some vendetta or something. The book just didn't feel like an experienced author wrote it. She kept pulling her punches when it came to storyline choices. The things that should have been moving and shown the consequences of the situation just became shallow and unimportant.
The writing was really repetitive. What is it with experienced or best selling authors having crap editing with ridiculous amounts of repetition that there is just no excuse for? LKH is obviously the worst about this, it's off the charts in her books. Kim Harrison's last book was bad about it, and this one is making me groan over and over again. These people can afford editors and beta readers and more editors, they have publishing houses who are supposedly looking out for them. It's as though the more books you sell the worst the product you put out becomes. It's really frustrating! I got so sick of some of the descriptions in this book. I was sick of the Silent Brothers's robes that look like parchment, and Brother Zacheria's description: slender, tall, elegant face, young, etc., got it the first three times, you didn't have to keep telling me. Plus I do know who he is, I know what he looks like
I still really hate Alec and Magnus, it's just super creepy for a very old man to be with a nineteen year old kid, one who was much younger when they got together. I get that Magnus is drawn to Alec's youth and vibrancy, but there is nothing Clare has ever said that makes this OK. She tries to make Magnus part of the gang but he's not. There's no way for Alec to have a relationship with Magnus that isn't unbalanced and gross. She's trying to play off the old vampire/young girl trope but it's just as creepy when it's a man and a woman. It's not cute and romantic and it's a shame because it's so close, I like the growth that we see in Alec. But Alec is obviously a totally naive kid, it's just creepy for a grown man to want to be with him, whether he's forty or four hundred.
Clary and Jace (view spoiler)[ seriously, they finally did it in a cavern in a demon realm? With their friends right down the way? That is so far from being romantic, I can't even deal with it. That was the consummation all of the teenage (and probably some adult) fans were panting for? Not fun, not romantic, just more grossness. It was like Clare realized she had to have them have sex before the end, but she'd run out of time so she just stuck it in. All the buildup between those two and that's what we got. And no condom or thoughts about it. Idiots. (hide spoiler)]
Everything about Maia in this book was stupid. Really awful. (view spoiler)[ Jordan dies and she doesn't even act like she cares. Just because she was going to break up with him doesn't mean she shouldn't be upset that he died in her arms. Flirting with another man the next day is just too stone cold, how am I supposed to like this girl? It was like Clare realized she'd screwed up Maia and Jordan so she just tried to erase his memory. Losing him should have been emotional, should have show the consequences of war, like when Cedric dies in Harry Potter. But she just moves on, no big deal. And then everything with the pack is insane. First she beats the huge guy in the fight. Now she's the permanent pack leader. Uh huh. Because a pack of unstable fighters is going to listen to a teenage girl. Much less refrain from challenging her for leadership after she won using a dirty trick that would only work once. And she'll be taken seriously as a representative of the pack to the Consul. Just because it's a YA book doesn't mean that we can just suspend all disbelief. She doesn't have some magical powers or abilities, it's just idiotic. And every part of the book she was in was just a total waste of time. After she started flirting with Bat I lost all interest in her. And it had nothing to do with Sebastian and the core of the book, it was just filler, totally unnecessary. (hide spoiler)]
I really liked a woman named Jeninne's review, you can check it out if you'd like. It has some spoilers too, though, beware.
The second half of this series, and especially this book, was very weak. The characters didn't have the depth and passion of the first three books. It happens a lot when a series is a hit and the author has to try to extend the concept that inspired her in the first place. It feels like effort this time, it feels manipulated, you can see the framework and the ways that she's pulling and stretching to try to make things come together and work. The problem is that she really ins't a great writer and the effort just shows. She's going on enthusiasm and love of her characters, and so are her fans. But that can only take you so far. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked the mystics, it was something that I haven't seen before. And I always like how fully imagined this world is and how completely real it feels.I liked the mystics, it was something that I haven't seen before. And I always like how fully imagined this world is and how completely real it feels. And Newt was great, she's always a scene-stealer. But I didn't love how watered down some of the characters have become. Rachel used to be more interesting because she was fallible. Not that I didn't want her to grow up over the course of twelve books and make better decisions, but now she's a super woman who not only keeps saving the world, she expects to keep doing so on a regular basis. And when she isn't doing that she's daydreaming about Trent's rear end, which got really hard to take after a while. And Trent used to be interesting because he wasn't a typical good guy, he was either a bad guy or shades of gray. Now he's washed out and all dull. I'm not a fan of this romance, too. The hints about it in early books were intriguing, but as it's played out the author has had to totally sanitize who Trent is and it's made him really boring. And not only has Ivy been completely pushed aside for Trent in the last few books, but she's also completely lost her edge as well. She could be sharp, tough, and witty while still being in love with someone other than Rachel. She's still pretty full of angst, so it's not like she's suddenly all sunshine and roses. It's just hard to balance, how do you let the characters grow and change without having them lose whatever it was about them that the readers related to? It's tricky....more
I started off getting so annoyed again right from the start. I didn't want to, I always start a new book assuming it will be great, or at least prettyI started off getting so annoyed again right from the start. I didn't want to, I always start a new book assuming it will be great, or at least pretty good. But Maddy tends to really just irritate me. This young woman was until recently totally isolated and naïve, living alone with her gargoyle and had been since her mom died when she was a teenager. Remember how isolated her job as an Agent kept her? But now she had, "honestly grown so accustomed to succeeding that I didn't know how to fail." How is that possible? How did she get so perfect and so damn cocky? "I didn't easily give up anything that was mine." Why not? What makes you so brave and bullheaded? And then how did she know more about battle strategy than a fae king? Who was she to advise that guy like she knew anything? She isn't some geek who loves strategy games and is just finally getting a chance to implement her favorite hobby, much less has any actual experience, where does this knowledge come from? The overwhelming Mary Sue qualities of this character just drive me batty.
I'm sorry, I really am not that reviewer that likes to give bad reviews (which this won't be I have good things to say too), that keeps reading the series that she knows she isn't going to like just so she can write snarky reviews that she thinks are funny and get lots of likes or something. I do kind of get why a couple of series may lend themselves to that kind of parody-like thing, but I don't love it and this isn't that kind of series. The author seems really nice, and I was a big fan in the beginning. And I never like giving bad reviews. Maybe I just don't have the wit to write them funny enough or it to be charming instead of just awkward for everyone involved. Luckily for this series, the books are never entirely bad, that's the problem, that's why I keep reading. I still want to find out what happens to the characters. I get attached, I hate knowing that the story is still going on and I could be reading but I turned away. So if it's free from the library I keep going unless something happens and I just can't take it anymore, hoping every time that maybe the character will grow up a little this time, show a little bit of sense or awareness finally.
And she did, a little! Just a little, but it was progress. Maddy was nervous about the darkness inside her and the way that Beezle and the others turned away from her because of it. It did make her think about her tendency to just barrel into every situation without considering the consequences. Unfortunately, part of the considering led to repeating over and over again that she tends to "break and smash" her way through situations. I wish I had the ebook so I could count the number of times the phrase is used, it's definitely drinking game levels. And there were other things that were repetitive that an editor should have caught. For example, Maddy repeated several times in a very short section of the book how dangerous it was for her not to have a home with a threshold any more. It was too short a book to make repeating basic information necessary, especially in such close proximity.
When I reviewed Touch of the Demon by Diana Rowland (you should read all of her books, by the way, they're all wonderful) last week I said that the travel book in any series, where the main character and occasionally one or two other supporting characters as well, go out of town or to another world together, is usually the worst, but that Touch was the exception. This one wasn't exactly an exception as well, but it wasn't exactly a complete success either. When you take your character out of her familiar setting and away from all of the supporting characters that the readers love, you're taking a big risk. The bad part was not having Beezle or Maddy's half brother Samiel or J.B. in it for the first two-thirds (or Samiel in it at all), especially for me because as you know by now, I find Maddy frequently annoying. Actually, Samiel shouldn't be regulated just to a parenthetical notation because then Chloe goes with him and other than villains throwing around threats and then get killed, Chloe has been the only other female character in six books now, so not seeing her and having her be a part of the core team is a real lost to the team and the readers. I hope that Henry find a way to get her right in there working side-by-side with Maddy in the next book. I get too tired of these books that are written by women that still don't feature strong, smart female characters that talk to each other. Maddy has a harem of men who will do anything for her. It gets to be too much.
But back to being on the other-world, Maddy needed to grow up. She could do that anywhere. And Beezle and Samiel had stepped away from her for the time being because of the choices she was making and she needed to think about that. And it wasn't boring, or overwhelming, as some travel books get, piling on too much detail. And this section of the book was much more focused than previous books, or the last section of the book, which tend to cram a lot of plots and ideas in and get a bit jumbled. Once Maddy got back to Earth the story is suddenly going in ten directions at once again, which can be overwhelming when it's a whole book of that. So the other-world section was actually pretty good, when Maddy wasn't annoying me with her snark that wasn't actually funny because arrogance is a fine line. Plus I get even more annoyed when she gets put into leadership positions that she has no right being in with her total lack of experience, like being at the head of battles in previous books, so at least when she's away from almost everyone she knows on another world there's less of that happening. I get less annoyed with Miss Mary Sue exploring her incredible magical powers than suddenly being a genius battle leader, at least they have a foundation in her genetics.
As for a couple of specifics, Daharan was great. It was good to find out who Lucifer's third brother was, and it was really fun to see Puck intimidated. I loved this image, "I had a very strange vision of the brothers as children. It looks a lot like a chibi-anime cartoon in my head, all soft edges and big eyes. Alerian was a tiny cute squid in a baby pool. Puck was a troublesome toddler with chocolate on his face and a stash of cookies behind the couch. Daharah was a teensy dragon blowing puffs of smoke. And Lucifer rose up on little wings before falling to the ground, unable to stay aloft." Too funny! This is why I keep reading. Perfection. And I loved the end with Bryson and Lock, Stock and Barrel too. When Henry gets it right she gets it so right.
Overall, the good news is that it really was a much better book than the last few. Maddy still isn't the brightest gal in the world, but she is at least trying to be aware of her shortcomings and occasionally hesitates before breaking and smashing. The part of the book that took place on the other world was balanced by a last third or so back on our world with the full gang. There were a couple of super funny scenes to balance the earlier really annoying parts. In fact, I don't think I was annoyed almost at all during the second half of the book, so that's great. I'm not sure that the lists that were brought up several times of all of Maddy's exploits and kills were actually a great idea though. Yes, it helped refresh the reader's memory. But it did underscore my point about how absurd it is for one completely untrained and inexperienced young person to have done so much over the course of such a short amount of time. I know it's a fantasy series, but there has to be some basis of believability, a sense that these things could happen within the rules as they've been established for this time/place. And much of the time Maddy isn't believable. And that annoys me more than her bad attitude. But I'm very glad that this book had less of that than the last few. I really hope to see more growth in her character in the next book. Which I at least know now that I do want to read. And if we were able to give half stars I might be tempted to do so for this one....more
It was nice to visit with Team Awesome and get a glimpse of "what happens next". It was worth the 99¢ I was able to get it for but I have no idea howIt was nice to visit with Team Awesome and get a glimpse of "what happens next". It was worth the 99¢ I was able to get it for but I have no idea how much it normally costs. My impression was that the three novellas from the series were all on special and that the normal price will be higher. I'm not sure it would be worth much more, though fans will be tempted to get it just to see the characters again and see what their lives are like after the end if the series. There isn't much substance for diehard fans other than a pretty amusing glimpse of their home life with Giguhl's wild kids. But it was an OK little story. Not a $3 story....more
Looking back over previous reviews, I see that my memory is correct and I've been up & down on this series a bit. I've always really liked Celia aLooking back over previous reviews, I see that my memory is correct and I've been up & down on this series a bit. I've always really liked Celia as a hero, she's a good mix of smart and brave, a survivor for her whole life, not just from the vampire attack, witty without being too snarky, with a nice dose of vulnerability. I think the authors created a great character, even if they don't always totally do her justice. Especially in her love life, which is always pretty weak in my opinion. Creed was sexy, but controlling. And I just never got Bruno, other than residual feelings for an old boyfriend I just don't see what Celia sees in him at all, the authors haven't managed to show it to me.
But! This book really showcased what I like about Celia. It was my payoff for sticking with the series, I wasn't annoyed at all until around two-thirds of the way through the book, and then it was just that one thing (see below). This book highlighted the contrast between the strong, capable woman who's job it is to protect and rescue people by averting danger and facing it if she must, and the sensitive, vulnerable woman that she can be as well. And that she can be both and manage to survive and thrive, if often by the skin of her teeth, and frequently only with the help of her loyal friends. When she was dealing with her sister moving on, she was vulnerable and strong at the same time. The other dealings with her mom and grandma were things that many readers can relate to on different levels, it has nothing to do with the supernatural and everything to do with being human. And there was another moment when she was in the hospital that was particularly well done. The entire time from when she woke up in the hospital to when the nurse came into the room was moving, seeing how afraid Celia was that she might have hurt someone or that she might finally go too far and might lose her struggle to remain human. But when the nurse came in and reminded her that they met before, it was really lovely. Celia has been the object of so much fear, and unreasoning hatred. And when she was so completely vulnerable and afraid, that she might lose her struggle and become a bat, that she might be executed instantly because of it, worst of all that she might hurt an innocent person, yet here was a woman who remembered that Celia has tried to help a lot of people before also under very difficult circumstances and she trusted Celia to control herself, and it gave her hope. It was a simple scene, shorter that my description probably, but it touched me. It was the first time that regular people outside of her circle of friends, not security guards hired by royal families, just people trying to do their jobs reached out to her and said that they had her back, they were going to protect her and get her through a crisis and it felt like a turning point. And at the end of the book she was tough and strong, she made the decisions that needed to be made no matter how hard they were and saved a life, then flew to the battle and saved many more, fighting side by side with a man who considered her an enemy, but they got the job done and she made the blow that may have saved the day. Her fears and limitations never stopped her from doing what needed to be done.
Taking a step back, I really liked the characters in book one of this series, even though the story only got three stars. Then books 2-4 had a lot of weaknesses in the plots, major coincidences and things that just felt like the kind of lazy writing that really experienced writers like these two shouldn't be trying to get away with. They kept undermining the strong character that they'd developed in Celia and in her friends to the point that if I wasn't able to read the books for free from the library I'd never have stuck with the series. But I'm glad I was able to, because book five showed some improvement and this book was really much better. Overall it showed strong character development for the main character as well as several of the secondary characters slotted neatly into the ongoing action story. The balance between their personal lives and professional lives/action story was well done, in my opinion.
But the authors always do at least one weird, really stupid thing and ruin their good streak! Like have Celia wake up from a truly terrible night and call Bruno to check if her weapons are ready, shower, get dressed, whine about not having her favorite jacket available, check her messages, and on and on but never check on her beloved friend who was medivaced to the hospital to have major surgery last night! Celia was with him on the helicopter, she was super concerned, then nothing. These authors are so inconsistent sometimes, it makes me nuts, don't they read their own manuscripts or have editors or beta readers? They're too big for it? No one cares about this hugely sympathetic character? Pages later, she's had an entire drive with Dawna and a long conversation about bills and everyday details and neither of them brought him up still. Their future spa date to relieve Dawna's stress is more important than finding out if their friend has survived the night. Finally, after Celia rents a new car but before she pulls out of the parking lot, she calls the hospital to find out that he's stable. Seriously? Who does that? It's so not OK, it completely undermines the character and makes her seem horribly shallow and stupid. Especially after the way that all of these people sent flower and were constantly at her hospital earlier in the book even thought they couldn't even get in to see her. But now Celia, and Dawna, couldn't even call to see if he had survived and what condition he was in. I'd like to say that the authors seem dumb for writing her that way but it would probably get my review banned. It's just so completely inconsistent with the character they've established. Or if they did it on purpose then it makes her seem incredibly unlikable with the screwed up priorities of a teenager, and I don't think that's what they intended, considering the rest of the book.
Rant aside, the book was very good, much better than I expected, the best since the first one. I like the woman Celia has become, and I like her friends. I appreciate her struggles and I can even relate to some of her experiences, despite the supernatural story. I wouldn't even mind the authors having her make stupid, shallow decisions sometimes if they felt intentional, no character is perfect and perfect is boring anyway. I don't care that she worried about her hair and makeup or loves her jackets or whatever. It's just some of the really odd choices that they make that make me nuts. (Anyone remember Emma's suddenly decision to become sterile just so she could stay friends with Celia? Who does that?) But overall I really enjoyed this book about a strong, vulnerable, successful woman....more
Probably more of a 3.5 star book, but it was good. This one is almost all angel politics and supernatural dynamics, so if you like the developing storProbably more of a 3.5 star book, but it was good. This one is almost all angel politics and supernatural dynamics, so if you like the developing story about the tensions between Heaven and Hell, you'll be interested in these goings-on. It still seems odd to me that Remy would be the only one disenchanted with the situation, or at least with the guts to stand up and say so, but that's the premise so we have to go with it. Marlowe is still great, of course, Sniegoski still writes the best dog except for Kevin Hearne's Oberon. But the cliffhanger ending stunk, readers be warned, you'll be out on a ledge until the next book comes out....more