The Lost World is a classic work of action/adventure that has a lively feel that made for a very fun read. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his...moreThe Lost World is a classic work of action/adventure that has a lively feel that made for a very fun read. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, has a way of writing an engaging tale. For readers who fear reading books published prior to the later 20th century out of the desire to avoid dry, stale language, I would offer up this book. Although it shows the sentiments, good and bad, for the period in which it was written, the writing tone could easily be as modern as a work published in the recent years. It doesn't have much of a dated feel to this reader, except in one way that I will address later. Mr. Doyle takes the scientific debates of the later Victorian, early Edwardian period, and gives us vivid characters to speak for the different viewpoints, making what could be a dry discussion of evolutionary biology and the various proponents or antagonists therein, and instead crafting a diverting read.
Challenger is by far the most hilarious character in this story. He is completely pompous and arrogant, assured that he knows everything, and of his utter superiority in every way. He is oblivious to the idea that anything should shake his massive self-confidence. Although he is right a lot of the time, sometimes he's very, very wrong (or his way of analyzing and approaching things is just skewed), not that he lets that bother him much. Mr. Doyle created an iconic figure here, so it doesn't surprise me that he wrote other stories about Challenger. He's too good a character to let go of.
Summerlee is mostly a foil for the more vibrant, and sometimes often obnoxious Challenger. He doesn't come off quite as vivid as either Challenger or Roxton, but he adds to the scope and detail of this story with his acerbic, strong, but not bull-like in the way of Challenger, personality. He turns out to be a very valuable member of the exhibition, both for his counterpart role as the voice of reason to the more bombastic Challenger, but also for his scientific knowledge and rationality in the face of very eye-raising events in the Lost World.
Goodness, I did love this character. I have seen and encountered those in popular media who exhibit the Great White Hunter stereotype, but Roxton didn't strike me that way at all. He's an alpha male in all the good ways. He wasn't one-dimensional, only driven by the hunt and sport (as I feared), although those were important things to him. He's a man's man, but he's also a thinker and a doer. He is a man who lives life to the fullest, and doesn't let fear or 'can't dos' stand in the way. He is a lot more compassionate and crusading that I expected. I thought he would be self-serving and superior. That's not him at all. Roxton is another iconic, larger-than-life character, that no doubt fueled many of the adventurer types that have populated later literature and cinema/television stories in this genre. In his own way, Roxton is also a foil for Challenger. Challenger is convinced of his self-importance, and ever ready to take credit for what he does. Roxton likes the thrill and the challenge. He claims his trophies, but it's not about the right to brag. It's about the doing for him. His very apt, if "school of hard knocks" wisdom saves the day many a time on this journey.
Malone is the point of view of this novel. We see everything through his eyes, and his wry observations make for some very humorous moments. Doyle also uses Malone to convey the wonder of the Lost World. He describes both the dangerous and fearsome aspects of the lost world, and the rare and eye-opening beauty in a way that pulls me into the narrative head first. Malone and Roxton seem to be contrasted in ways in that Malone is a bit more of the thinker, who wishes he was the doer. He has quite a case of hero worship for Roxton, but Malone proves to be very valuable on this expedition, both as a source of information, and by his own feats that save and protect the various members on the expedition. He turns out to be a character that one should not underestimate or dismiss.
You take the good with the bad:
When it comes to older books and stories, one prepares to see some rather disappointing exhibitions of racism come into play. As a reader of classic and pulp literature, I have had it hit me very badly with some authors, and others where I was surprised at how enlightened their attitudes seemed. For the most part, this wasn't as bad as it could have been in that sense. However, it did bother me and made me wince how the one Negro character was referred to as 'our faithful' and as though he was an unintelligent object or possession pretty much every time. I found it very patronizing and offensive. His speech was very stereotyped (poor English and using the word 'Massa'), and showing slavish devotion to his white 'betters'. He was even referred to as being as intelligent as a horse. You could take that in the manner in which it was intended (which I did), as the man being less intelligent than white men, or you could take that as Doyle believing horses are smart cookies. Out of this whole book (which I had mainly favorable reactions to), this aspect left a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed as though the views of the South American natives were more enlightented than the black man. Yeah, that smarts. Also there is a tone that speaks of the inherent superiority of the white man and Europeans. I'm not beating up Doyle. I'm telling it like it is and how it affected me as a reader of color. I realize that these were the prevalent thoughts of the time. But this is not something that makes me a happy camper. Thus, it dulls the shining light of this story somewhat for this reader.
On the good side....:
The science, botany and zoology, exhibited in this story seemed quite knowledgeable, showing that Doyle did attempt to do his homework. I am no dinosaur expert, but I did recognize many of the older names for dinosaurs which probably came into common knowledge around the period in which this was written. This story also conveys a detail about the South American rainforests and tropical environs that made for a seemingly credible read. I felt like I was along for the journey, but immensely glad that I was just reading this book on my Kindle when it came to encountering vicious carnivorous species and the rather vile apemen.
The Lost World is a piece of classic literature that no respectable adventure fan should go without reading. If you enjoy movies like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider, or any other of the many treasure hunting/lost world expedition movies and tv shows, then take a little time to explore one of the forefronts in this genre of literature. I give it a thumbs up.
Rich, vivid, entrancing. City of Bones is all those things and more. As I read this book, I felt that sense of childhood joy that I remembered from re...moreRich, vivid, entrancing. City of Bones is all those things and more. As I read this book, I felt that sense of childhood joy that I remembered from reading C.S. Lewis' Narnia series and Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time, and the many fairy tales and legends growing up. I found the world-building in this series without fault. I have to give it to Cassandra Clare for creating this book. It was a fantastic concept that kept me enthralled to the last page.
City of Bones is a fantasy adventure in all the best ways. The characters are interesting, made me laugh, and had quirks and distinct personality traits that made them come to life for me. The setting is another character that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is a New York hidden behind the glamour. The mundanes (regular humans) have no idea what they are missing. Just ask Clary Fray. Clary Fray lived most of almost sixteen years having no idea about the world of the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders. If she saw something weird out the corner of her eye, it was easily dismissed. Until she encountered Jace and Isabelle at a club. Jace kills a demon, who looks like a boy, or does he? That's just the beginning of Clary's adventure.
This book is a young adult book that I think most adults can enjoy just as much, especially those who have a serious love for fantasy and adventure. I thought that Ms. Clare had just the right mix of sophistication to appeal to the youth of today, and the ageless wonder quotient like classic fantasy novels to make this book zing for both younger and older readers. The sense of risk is high, and there are no guarantees that the kids in this book will be safe. They might be youngsters, but their world is fraught with dangers.
The action was intense and sometimes frightening. Ms. Clare's word choice brings every scene to life. I never felt like there was a wall between me and the events playing out in this story. I felt like I was right there for every part.
I met a whole cast of characters that I became involved with in this story: Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle, Alec, Magnus, Luke, Hodge, Jocelyn, Valentine, the Silent Brothers. Some I loved, and some I definitely don't love. But, I definitely want to see more of these characters.
While I truly loved this book, I must admit that part of the resolution in this book has me baffled. I am even a bit disturbed. I am truly hoping that the revelation that takes place in this book is not truly the way things were presented. Although this book doesn't have a true cliffhanger, there are some threads left unraveled which lead into the next book in the series. Honestly, I didn't want things to play out the way they did. All I can do is keep reading to hope that Ms. Clare has an ace card hidden up her sleeve. But there's not a chance I won't be reading the following books in this series. This is fantasy that is too good to miss.
If you are looking for a fantasy series that will captivate you and take you back to the golden days of children's/young adult fantasy literature, I'd humbly suggest The Mortal Instruments series. In my opinion, Ms. Clare has written a book that will be a new classic in this genre.
**spoiler alert** Burning Alive was a book that pulled me in from the beginning. For that, I definitely give it points. I liked the storyline about Se...more**spoiler alert** Burning Alive was a book that pulled me in from the beginning. For that, I definitely give it points. I liked the storyline about Sentinels and their war against the Senestryn, a race of demons. The origins of the Sentinels are fascinating to me. There is an element of the futuristic, teamed with the ancient in their conception and their millenias-long war with the Senestryn. It had me thinking of Flash Gordon--and the various races that Flash encounters when he goes to Space in Dr. Zarkoff's rocket--for some reason. Don't ask! Humorous aside: I kept thinking about Sinestro, who is an arch-nemesis of Green Lantern from the DC Comics Universe. Anyone else make that connection? I do have to say that Ms. Butcher charted a course along familiar ground, but somehow made this story interesting and distinct from the other series, in my opinion. As I read, I could definitely see how she was influenced by other writers that I enjoy, but I don't feel that she was trying to copy them. As my sister likes to say, "There is nothing new under the sun." But what I appreciate is seeing an author take a familiar concept and give it a new approach or new life. I feel that Ms. Butcher did that.
I really liked the aspect of the warriors pining for their mate, and how they have the tattoo of a tree on their chest that grows as they age, and eventually starts to die, unless they find a mate. The leaves on the tree die and fall off, and the closer they get to the tree being completely denuded of leaves, the closer they are to their souls dying. I thought that was pretty interesting. I liked the fact that the warrior is full of energy and his mate taps that energy and uses it to fight the Senestryn in tandem with him. Very cool. I love a strong, powerful warrior who longs for a true love. Sigh! I felt so bad for all the warriors who will die, never finding their mate, since most of the Sentinel women were killed. I hope that more women will be found. The hope will keep me reading this series.
The characters in this story drew me in, and I cared about them. Maybe too much. It broke my heart when a character I fell in love with died horribly. I almost threw my book across the room. I rarely do that. I felt intense pain, and disbelief. Part of me still wants to believe that it's not the truth. The circumstances of the death really cast a pall over this story. I had trouble caring about Drake and Helen's romance, knowing that this person was dead. But at the same time, I think it showed the cost of this war. The scene in which Drake shows Helen the Hall of the Fallen, in which the sword of the dead warrior is hung in remembrance, was very profound. I felt the awe and the anguish at seeing how very many swords hung there. It added to my grief that I felt at the beloved character's death.
As I said, I wanted to find someone to blame for this person's death. It is easy for me to blame Helen, because she flaked at a crucial moment, her lifelong fear such a burden that she couldn't come through and tap her power to defeat the demon in time. It was a dilemma for me. I could see that Helen was just human, full of frailties and flaws. How many times have I failed someone who counted on me? More than I wanted to. Fortunately, it hasn't cost anyone a life, but poor Helen has that on her conscience. Although she will go on to fight in the war at Drake's side, basking in his love, I think she'll always feel grief that she couldn't save this person. The grief I share. I think that the reasons behind this courage-crippling vision of burning to death were not explained as well as I like. I hope that this will be explored further in the next books.
Drake and Helen's romance was good. They had good chemistry, with some steamy love scenes. I liked that Helen was an average girl with a normal, perhaps too-curvy figure, but Drake thought she was the sexiest woman alive. I liked the powerful chemistry between them when they met. I did want things to work out for them, although I was still depressed about the death of that person I was in love with. I admit, I'm more intrigued to see what will happen with Zack and Lexie than I was drawn into Helen and Drake's romance. Why is the first in the series always the least compelling? To keep us reading! I'm wondering what's going to happen with Logan. Will he find a mate as well? More questions than I have time to list in this review.
The cast of secondary characters has caught my interest, and I look forward to reading more about them. I'd like to see where this war with the Senestryn will go. I think that Ms. Butcher will continue to add dimensions to this interesting series she had created. I just hope she doesn't get me to fall in love with anymore characters and then kill them off. I don't think my heart can stand it.
This Fables series has been consistently good. I didn't imagine I would enjoy Flycatcher's story so much, but it was very meaningful. Flycatcher is ve...moreThis Fables series has been consistently good. I didn't imagine I would enjoy Flycatcher's story so much, but it was very meaningful. Flycatcher is very much a man of hidden sorrows. He dropped out from his past life because of the intense grief he suffered due to the loss of his family in the Homelands. His role as janitor in Fabletown (and his tendency to eat flies) is a way of escaping and dealing (or not dealing with his sorrow). but the time has come for him to face his past head on. He goes back to the Homeland and becomes an enormous thorn in the side of the Adversary.
Willingham has managed to make this series feel new and distinct in each and every volume. I like that I couldn't predict what happened next in this book. I suspected tragedy, but things are surprisingly satisfying in the conclusion, but it's also evident that the battle continues and victory isn't necessarily guaranteed for our displaced Fable friends. The upcoming war looms even closer on the horizon.
I can't recommend this series more highly than I do. Definitely required reading for fairy tale aficionados.(less)
Neverwhere is one of those books that answers the 'what if' question about the city in which you live your days, going through your admittedly 'mundan...moreNeverwhere is one of those books that answers the 'what if' question about the city in which you live your days, going through your admittedly 'mundane' routines. In this case, London. What if there was a London Below, a strange world which consists of Underground railways, tunnels, sewers, and sometimes uncannily parallels the London that the average inhabitant thought they knew but didn't, and in a way that seems a lot more interesting? It's a scary place, not terribly clean and sanitary. But it's also a place of wonders. If you spent some time there, would you find yourself, and realize that the normal world just doesn't hold the same charm for you, now that you've realized the possibilities? With this book, you can ponder these questions for yourself through the viewpoint of Richard Mayhew.
The unknown is scary for us. Scary, but also exciting. You just have to find the courage to seek it out. That's one thing I love about books. They take me places that I'm not sure I'd want to go in real life. And in the process, they make me want to be braver than I am. Richard has to find that courage (the hard way), but he becomes a hero and a champion in his own right in the process of his journey. He faces pain, loss, and uncertainty, but he gains a lot more in return.
This is the third book I've read by Neil Gaiman (all on audio), and I really appreciate his writing. He has a wonderful way with humor, a grand sense of adventure and whimsy, and he finds the uncanny and fantastical in the everyday and ordinary. Honestly, that's why I love fantasy, particularly urban fantasy.
Although parts of this story were dark in subject matter and could have been too gruesome, the writing keeps the subject from being over the top in these areas. Subtlety in storytelling gives this reader enough to know just how bad the bad guys are, and without the scenes being too off-putting. And there is always hope that good will win out. I need that in a book.
Of course, living in the sewer and the underground aren't the most clean ways to go about one's business, but there was also an undeniable appeal to these worlds. I'm not saying you will see me taking off on a sewer adventure (not going to happen), but at least I can read about it, and think that it didn't sound quite as bad as I thought it would (for the most part).
I liked the diversity of this world. People of different colors, shapes, sizes and origins. That's how a big city like London truly is, not the monochromatic make-believe of some of the shows on TV (which I won't name) where you wonder how the characters can go seven seasons without ever encountering a person of color. And the diversity isn't just background filler. Diverse people have strong roles in this story. With this added appeal, it made the novel even more enjoyable.
Neverwhere was a fun, interesting novel, with some mystical, otherworldly elements right smack dab in the middle of the everyday. I loved that about this book. I am so glad I started reading Neil Gaiman. I recommend you give this book a try if you haven't read him yet.
I have to thank my Goodreads friend, Jess R, for encouraging me to read this book. All she said was, Rhyzkahl was like an Anne Stuart hero, and I was...moreI have to thank my Goodreads friend, Jess R, for encouraging me to read this book. All she said was, Rhyzkahl was like an Anne Stuart hero, and I was there. And I am so glad about it.
Mark of the Demon gave me one heck of a read. Diana Rowland managed to take the concept of demon summoning and write a story that got past my personal hang-ups about that idea. I like that she made it clear that her concept of demons veers from the Christian concept, because I don't know if I could have been down with reading about a heroine who was dealing with Satanic demons. Okay, my hangup, not yours. But, anyway, that helped me to get on board this book.
Occult detective novels are like candy to me. I devour these things. Essentially, an occult detective novel is a mystery with paranormal aspects. In this case, Kara Gillian is a police homocide detective who has a hobby/calling of demon summoning. She does this because it's in her blood. Her aunt was a summoner, and she finds out that her grandmother was one too. When her aunt taught her this art, it helped her to get her life on track, and to find a sense of purpose, something she could feel confident about. It turns out her summoning skills, and her ability to sense arcane energy, will come in handy in investigating a series of very grisly murders by the Symbol Man.
I flat out loved Kara. She was insecure, foul-mouthed, socially awkward, but strong and intelligent, and very likeable. I like that she wasn't the resident sex bomb that all the men wanted. I get really tired of that over-used device in female lead urban fantasy (which causes me to search out male leads just for a break from it). She was very good at her job as a police officer, even though she didn't always have confidence in her abilities. I liked that she thought things through, and had a habit of 'faking it until you make it'. In other words, showing you had things under control, even if you are a shuddering wreck inside. I liked that because I often use that technique. I have to be honest, I saw a lot of myself in Kara. She hadn't had an easy or normal life. She wasn't good with people, and because of what she was, she hadn't had a busy social life as far as men. I liked that she was pretty good with being one of the guys, and handling that wall of chauvinism that women often face when they are working in male-dominated environments. She didn't act like a bimbo to get her way. She used the natural abilities and skills she had and didn't play up to men's flawed perceptions of women in the work environment.
The mystery was tightly-plotted and well-executed. I had some suspicions about who was behind the murders, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I was wrong. Although the arcane elements tied heavily into solving the case, Kara also used good, old-fashioned police investigative techniques just as much. Ms. Rowland managed to integrate her experience in criminal investigations into this story in an interesting and believable fashion.
The arcane elements were very interesting. I have zero personal interest in pursuing studies in the occult, but I find it fascinating to read about arcane/occult lore in fictional books. This story has some elements that felt unique and personal, crafted by the author to create her own world with its own rules. I liked that a lot about this story.
And then there's Rhyzkahl. Hello! Yummy much? Scary much? Yes to both questions. He's not a demon, by the way. He's a Demonic Lord, which are like the top of the top in demonic hierarchy. He's not scaly and gross with horns, either. He's hot. Really hot. I was thinking, sex with a demon? Not sure about that part. But, when I read about this very sexy, human-looking (well better than human looking since he's absolutely perfect), and smooth, polite (unless he's ripping you to pieces), and charming, the sex part didn't weird me out at all. It was more like, Wow! I can see the appeal with Rhyzkahl. I can also see why Kara is scared of him and wants him out of her life. But, Rhyzkahl has an interest in Kara. We find out what that is to a certain degree, but there are still questions there. Does he like her for who she is, or what she can do with her summoning skills? He seems kind of possessive of her. Is that a sexual thing or a power thing for him? The verdict is still out on that one. But I will keep reading to find out.
As for Ryan Kristoff? I grew to like him. At first, I was thinking, 'Stuffed Shirt.' But, he actually has an appeal. He's smart and he has knowledge in the occult world, and he ended up being a very good ally and partner to Kara. It will be interesting to see where their association goes.
Mark of the Demon is occult detective urban fantasy in all the best ways. The sensual/romantic aspects don't overwhelm the story, but tie in beautifully. The characters are appealing and life-like. I care about Kara. I want to keep reading about her. I want to see what her association with Rhyzkahl is going to bring into her life in the future. Ms. Rowland wrote one heck of a book here. Mark of the Demon gets my stamp of approval. Give it a read!(less)
Ilona Andrews (writing team of Ilona and Gordon) caught and kept my interest when I read Magic Bites. I liked the distinctive voice I saw in that stor...moreIlona Andrews (writing team of Ilona and Gordon) caught and kept my interest when I read Magic Bites. I liked the distinctive voice I saw in that story, one that has stayed true in the subsequent stories that I have read by this team. With On the Edge, they have continued that excellence, providing me with a novel that is multi-faceted, genre-wise and story-wise.
Although I grew up in the Midwest, my roots are Southern, and I do appreciate books set in the South that show the real ways of Southerners. In this case, I saw something very real and almost familiar in Rose, her brothers, grandmother, and friends and neighbors. I smiled when Rose threw the boys in the car and took them to Walmart. Yeah, that's real. Real people do shop there. How many times do you read a book where the characters go to Walmart to buy not the designer shoes, but the ones that look close enough to pass muster? How about a heroine who buys ground beef and adds rice and bread crumbs to stretch it? Yup, that's real alright. How about those moments when you have to stretch your paycheck and hope you have enough money left over the week to buy gas so you can get to work? I've definitely been there. And the love and ties of family, having to work hard all day and get home, take care of your family, go to bed, and get up and do it again. I think a lot of readers can identify with that. So what if Rose is magical, along with everyone in her family? That's a little more on the fantasy part of the scale. But this combination is why urban fantasy is so irresistible to me. The real and the surreal nicely entwined.
The ideas in this story strike me as very unique and different. I liked it a lot, even if some elements was pretty odd, like a reanimated grandfather who likes to eat stray dogs' brains. Or the fact that a lot folks in the Edge community can curse people, or send flashes of powerful energy out of their bodies. And then there is the shapeshifting younger brother of Rose, Jack. The other young brother is a powerful necromancer (hence the zombie granddad). And things get even more interesting when Declan shows up. Rose's powerful flash abilities have made her an asset to Blueblood families who want to integrate her genes into their family lines, one way or the other. She has become wary of men for that reason, since most of her suitors didn't ask nicely. So when too good to be true Declan shows up to claim her and take her back to the Weird, the magical lands that are adjacent to the Edge, she definitely doesn't eagerly go off with him. She makes an oath with the handsome warrior that he can have her if he succeeds in her three challenges. However, they have big problems on their hands, as there are horrible, magical hounds that are devouring Edgers for their magic. And they really want to get their hands on Rose and her family.
I loved Rose. She was a heroine that you could hang with, and that you'd be slightly in awe of, because she knows how to take care of business. She's the type that you tell to do something, and she takes about five minutes or more, and she's back and ready to get the job done. Not the heroine who is infallible and annoyingly perfect. Nope, she's the heroine that you love because she tries so hard, and she has the determination to do what is necessary. I loved Rose's commitment to her brothers, how she raised them from a young age after her mother lost her mind and her father ran off treasure-hunting. Jack and Georgie (her brothers) are adorable and genuine little boys, despite their very unusual abilities. They were sweeties and reminded me of the poem about what boys are made of (you know, snails and puppy dog tails). You could see why Rose loves them, even though being a single mom to her brothers is far from easy.
Declan was a great match for Rose. He was just as determined and capable. He might be a rich princelike guy, but he was down to earth enough that this didn't bother me. And I do like tough, warrior heroes, I won't lie. He took to the kids very quickly, and he treated them like they were his own. He even makes pancakes for them. I liked how he was as much a thinker as a doer, a problem-solver not afraid to get his hands dirty. He was a guy who made a commitment and stood by his word, no matter what. Declan was definitely a knight in shining armor, and I could see why Rose fell in love with him.
William was also adorable. I felt for him, and I will probably end up reading Bayou Moon soon to get more of him. I liked his wildness but also his goodness and how sweet he was with the kids (I am a sucker for that).
On the Edge has its dark, gruesome elements, but I'm okay with that. I like some dark in my fantasy. I loved the juxtaposition of the everyday with the fantastic and surreal. The Andrews have a great way of writing descriptively and setting the scene without overdoing things and info-dumping. I like that the narrative is spare in some places, and the character sketches give you enough to get an idea of the folks in the story, but you can still learn more as you read. There are times you have to figure things out as you go, which is what I prefer, to be honest.
Although I am sure this book wouldn't work for everyone, I had a ball reading it. I liked everything about it. The romance was great, but the fantasy elements were equally important. I'd recommend this to a reader who likes fantasy but wants to try romance, and a reader on the other side of that equation.(less)
I read this book out of curiosity, with no preconceived notions. Merely because I was curious what kids would do in a world with no adults. I admit I...moreI read this book out of curiosity, with no preconceived notions. Merely because I was curious what kids would do in a world with no adults. I admit I was blown away.
Mr. Grant told me a story that I couldn't put down. From the beginning, my mind was full of questions about how this happened, how the kids would survive, what could prevent the same thing from happening again....So many questions.
Sam is the kind of boy you want to have around when the world goes crazy. He's definitely the reluctant hero type, but usually they come through for you like no other. Because they do what needs to be done, simply because it needs to happen. Not for glory, not for recognition. Sam doesn't want to be 'the guy', but he knows that no one else is going to do it. And when Caine and his posse come down from Coates Academy, taking over and making things mostly worse, someone has to step up to the plate to stop him.
This book is intense, violent, and sometimes sad. Some of these kids die. A lot of them get hurt pretty bad. I'm not a mother yet, but I love kids, and I hate to see them suffering. It was a bit painful to watch. Even harder was seeing the cruelty and potential for evil that some of these children showed. Drake, who is basically Caine's bully boy, is a psychopath. He loves hurting people, and he feels no remorse about doing it. In my mind, I was weighing the options, even thinking that they needed to kill him, because he was like a rabid animal, bent on destruction. I felt horrible doing that, but he's a loose cannon, and he's only going to get worse. I don't think saving this boy is an option.
One of the take home messages of this book is the consequences of a social structure that is pretty familiar to most of us. The dynamic that we see in a group of kids where there are bullies who find the 'weakest' people and torment then, doing everything they can to make life miserable for those kids. And this causes a lot of fallout, because people forget ethics and what's morally right so that they can have peace from the bullies. In essence, they become part of the problem, contributing to a micro-society in which children get hurt because everyone is afraid to speak up and stand up against the bullies and the ones who are 'running things' for their own twisted, self-absorbed reasons. It made me shudder to see what these children did to each other, because they thought it was the easiest option to keep control of things. I'll be honest. I was bullied and picked on big time. It made me hate seeing the so-called 'weak' or 'different' people get targeted and treated that way. I'm no fighter, but I made a promise that I'd stand up for someone who couldn't do that for his or herself. I was glad that the kids like Sam and Edilio (what a sweetheart) were more than willing to do that.
I had some issues with the decisions that were made by the kids. They had no real sanitation rules. They didn't use their resources effectively. They had very poor nutrition, unnecessarily, because there was a supermarket full of healthy things like fruits and vegetables, proteins, grains. They ate mostly junk like candy, ice cream, soda pop, you name it. I guess I was looking at things through 'grown-up' eyes, which did cause me some discomfort. I was glad that they did organize care for the babies and kids too young to watch out for themselves, because Mary and her brother took on that job. I was also glad that Dahra worked as the medical provider. Albert took over the McDonalds and provided food for the community. Even so, I see some problems ahead, unless the kids set up a civic structural system in which every person is accountable (over-thinking this, I know!).
I loved the relationship between Astrid and Sam. They had an innocent love but also a strong friendship and support system in which they watched out for each other and did what they could to help everyone through this situation. Astrid was the brain, very smart, but also very kind. She had to take care of her younger brother, who was autistic, and extremely gifted with powers. I'll get to the powers part later. Give me a minute. Not an easy task for a young girl, but she did it. I was rooting for things to work out for these two!
Another character who turned out to be a favorite was Lana. Lana is in a very bad position when the 'event' happens--the one in which all the people over fourteen disappear. She ends up getting horribly injured and is about to die, when her power to heal manifests. Oh, I was on the edge of my seat, seeing her stranded, wounded very badly, with only her dog to protect her from the wild animals in the desert. I was so glad that she was able to get out of that situation. Of course, she ends up in a worse situation that ties in with the kids in town, and in a big way, as this book culminates. It might seem like a deus ex-machina to have a character who can heal even the most grievous wounds, but I was glad that she did have the power. These kids have a lot stacked up against them already. They need all the advantages they can get.
Now, lets talk about the power. Some of the kids, Sam included, have supernatural abilities that start manifesting. I thought this part was very cool. How Caine approaches this, with his evil little posse' made my hair stand on end. I can't even conceive of children being as cruel as that lot were. The powers end up playing a pivotal role in this story, and I am sure that this will continue to be a very strong element in the forthcoming books. I liked the "X-Men" sort of element it brought to the story, and how kids that were often bullied and felt useless, got to play important roles in the fight against Caine and his Posse' of Evil.
I wanted to give the author a nod of thanks for making the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) a multicultural environment, with children of all races. Everyone is important, and it was nice to see that there was a rainbow represented here. That speaks highly to me!
If you're an adult and you don't think you could enjoy young adult books, this is one I'd recommend. If you're like me, you will be riveted to this exciting story. It has a lot to offer as far as entertainment, but also stimulates the brain, as you are confronted with this bad situation that this young kids have to face. I cannot stop reading these books. I'm way too invested now!(less)
I liked Finding the Lost much more than I liked Burning Alive. I obtained a much better sense of the world and the storyline, which is expected. More...moreI liked Finding the Lost much more than I liked Burning Alive. I obtained a much better sense of the world and the storyline, which is expected. More importantly, I felt a much greater connection to Andra and Paul. I admit a big part of my problem with the first book was the way a death of a character I really fell in love with was handled. But I honestly think it's also due to the fact that the author feels more comfortable with her storyline in this book, and the romance and the overall storyline are better integrated. I think the sexy/sensual elements were very well done, hot but romantic. I definitely felt the chemistry and the connection between Paul and Andra, despite the short time frame.
Andra and Paul were for the most part likable characters. Andra is tough and strong, but she isn't too hardheaded to be sympathetic. She's definitely a good match for Paul, even though she fought it more than I liked. I did get frustrated with how Andra seemed to reject her bond with Paul, but I could also understand why she couldn't give it the focus it deserved. So much of her life was about helping her sister, and finding lost children, because she couldn't let go of the guilt of her self-attributed failure to protect her sisters when they were attacked by the Senestryn. She carried that guilt like a weight on her shoulders that affected everything. Honestly believing she didn't deserve any happiness for her own outside of seeing her remaining sister, Nika, alive and well. So when she kept dissing Paul, I would feel upset with her, but I understood why. Also, I realized that it was due to Paul's unwillingness to be honest with Andra about how crucial their bond was to his well-being and life. He didn't want to put that pressure on her, and he had been rejected in the past by a bondmate, so he was sensitive to rejection and insecure about a woman wanting to stay with him as his bondmate. I got pretty frustrated with him for being so reticent about his vital situation. Maybe if he had been more honest, Andra wouldn't have made those stupid bargains to wear his Luceria for such a short time. That annoyed me, but I realize the problem wasn't just with Andra. She really didn't understand what she was doing to Paul by setting those short bargains.
As far as the action/suspense elements, I really liked them, but I felt that the story lost some cohesiveness towards the end, with some anticlimatic aspects that lessened the intensity of the storyline. It didn't ruin the story for me, but it didn't resolve as strong as it started in that regard. Overall, I am developing a strong connection to this story and series that I didn't feel with the first book. I can see why my sister is so enamored of this series now.
I admit a huge part of my liking for this story is the ancillary characters, such as Logan, Madoc, Nika, and Tynan, the other healer who helped Nika at the Sentinels home base. I have to say that Ms. Butcher writes heroes very well. They are very appealing, and strong, sexy, and I felt a lot of sympathy for their plight. I loved Paul and I thought he was a nice mix of alpha and beta, very endearing and sexy in his willingness to take care of Andra, and his honorable nature. However, I feel like I am going to love Madoc even more. He's definitely the tortured, edgy, scary type hero that I loved. I think his book with Nika is going to be very good indeed. I'm honestly looking forward to all the forthcoming books, and I especially want to read more about the Sanguinar people, because I find them very alluring and interesting.
I still have some questions about some aspects of this series, but I feel that reading the subsequent books will enlighten me about those. I have to say that I am glad I kept reading this series. I still feel grief about what happened in the first book, but I think I am at the stage where I can keep reading without that ruining the series for me. Happily, I can give this book four stars.(less)
A World Without Heroes is a 'grew on me' book. Initially, I was not sure I liked the tone at all. At first, I thought it would read more like a Disney...moreA World Without Heroes is a 'grew on me' book. Initially, I was not sure I liked the tone at all. At first, I thought it would read more like a Disney film than a weighty young adult fantasy novel with potential. As I listened, my feelings started to change. The idea is not new, but the in- between steps of the journey proved interesting. While I am not extensively well read, not in the least, in epic fantasy, I appreciate the quest as a foundation for a story. Fairy tales (which I am very well-read in) have a long, extensive history of putting your average, everyday (even if they are just a down on their luck prince or princess) hero in a situation where they have to survive by their wits and a little help, and achieve a certain objective. Quest stories usually make for good reading.
That's what Jason faces. He ends up entering a magical world in the strangest of ways, and I won't say how. Believe me, it's very strange. Initially, he just wants to get home, and he struggles to make sense of this bizarre land he's entered. The thing about this book that makes it worthwhile is the characterization. Without having a main character that drew interest and loyalty, this book wouldn't have worked for me. It might have come off as trite. Although I have to say that Mr. Mull is an inventive fellow, the major pull of this story was hearing about Jason's reactions to the many misfortunes and difficult situations he faces in this novel. I like that Jason is a normal kid. He's not overly brilliant (although he is quite intelligent), athletic (although he does play baseball), perceptive, or magical in the least. But he is determined and brave, and resourceful. And his sense of humor, often verging on ironic and sarcastic, really appealed. More than anything, Jason made this book appealing to me.
The secondary characters are good too. You see a mix of folks. Some of them have very weird characteristics, such as the ability to detach their body parts at will. Others have the gift of immortality due to a cyst-like seed on the back of their necks that can be planted in soil in the event of their demise to allow them to be reborn as adults. Of course, there are plain old humans, all with distinct quirks. There is a tortured, deposed King who reminded me very strongly of King Arthur (post-Camlan). I liked him a lot. There is also an evil wizard to beat the band, truly not a nice man at all. And there is also a fellow Beyonder (from Earth). A young girl--Rachel--who also entered this strange world, and who makes a very helpful companion to Jason. She has her own list of skills and a different personality than Jason that complements him as a character. Admittedly, some of these characters show more depth than others, as most of this book is spent passing through various places and on to the next adventure. Some act as allies and friends to the two Beyonders, and some as formidable foes that the two kids must outwit to achieve their goals.
Earlier I mentioned the strange tone. This book is full of weirdness. To me that's not a bad thing. It elevated this book from being okay to being interesting and one I wanted to keep listening to. The narrator's choice of different vocal stylings for various characters added to the strange flavor in a good way.
I've had the discussion with others about how contentious some readers can be towards young adult/juvenile fiction and downright dismissive of its writers. In my opinion, it takes a lot of work to craft a book for younger readers. It takes some restraint and creativity to write a story that will attract their attention without going over the line into unsuitability. I can see that Mr. Mull faced that challenge here. I'm uncertain as to where I would place this book as far as rating it for young readers. The tone seems a bit adult, with some subject matter that is quite violent and intense in parts. On the other hand, some elements are approached on the surface level so as to appeal to a younger reader; this might turn off an older, more exacting reader. This story deals with the themes of tyranny, corrupt leadership and governmental organization. The people of this magical land face an emperor who is wholly evil, one whose evil has tainted the whole land, having destroyed, seduced, or attenuated all of his enemies. Like any country with corrupt leadership, the whole society seems on the brink of ruin in many ways, with injustice fairly rampant. Mr. Mull touches on these aspects in a way that I feel is accessible to a younger reader. An older reader who appreciates young adult/children's literature will likely see this story in a slightly deeper way and still find some resonance. Mull has a character make a statement that a man comes of age at twelve in this world, and I kept reminding myself of that fact as Jason seems to be put into situations that seemed much too mature, and he is expected for the most part to comport himself as a man. And I can say that as a young adventure-loving girl many years ago, I had that wish that I would be called upon to embark on a great quest and find myself in situations that demanded great heroism and fortitude from me (as an adult I now wish I was still a carefree kid with that life that seemed too normal and boring somedays). So I imagine this book would resonate with a pre-teen or a young teen who has those sort of ideals.
As an adult, I found the use of vocabulary impressive. I think this one is good for kids in the sense that it would encourage them to look up a lot of words. I think kids would also like the creepy, crawly, icky parts, and the adventure aspects. Kids will also appreciate the humor and the snark of Jason and Rachel and some of the other characters as they interact with them, particularly the quirky ones; and how they see the world as regular kids from our own world. Kids should be able to easily put themselves in both Jason and Rachel's shoes, and appreciate this story from the standpoint of all the strange situations, often uncomfortable and frightening, that these two Beyonders face. It probably would make for an exciting read for them. Some adult readers, especially those who don't care for literature for younger readers, probably won't find much of interest here. Especially if they consider themselves exacting when it comes to fantasy literature. For myself, I try to take each book as its own entity and appreciate the unique elements therein. In this case, I did like this book, and I found it worthwhile reading, although not spectacular. It has some interesting, funny, and strange bits that worked for me.
This is the first book in a series, and I will need to seek out the next story. I want to see what Jason and Rachel will face in the next installment. And what Mull can come up with to further this story.
This was a solid four star book until the last hundred or so pages, when it really turned around, and I knew it would get the highest rating from me....moreThis was a solid four star book until the last hundred or so pages, when it really turned around, and I knew it would get the highest rating from me. I must say I think the storyline is very imaginative, artistic and surreal. Ms. Douglas isn't an overly expansive writer, but she somehow paints a very vivid picture of the sights and surroundings, emotions and actions of her characters. Dark City is a nightmarish place, and the imagery rang loud and clear as I read. Sheol has an otherworldly beauty and feeling of peace, and the images of the Fallen appeal greatly to this angel-lover, even in the dark aspects.
I don't love the theology here. Earlier on, I choose to view this book merely as fiction and divorce it from my Christian beliefs, which is the wisest choice for me. Otherwise, I think the portrayal of God would be problematic for me. As a believer in the God of the Old and New Testament, I don't think there is a disconnect between the God of the New and Old Testament, as portrayed in this book, although I know many feel this way. God is shown as a vengeful, angry, unfeeling character, which is not what I believe. I believe in a God that is equally loving and equally just. If I view this merely as characters who have their own way of processing their relationships with God and their subsequent choices and actions, I can still enjoy this book very much, and I did. Outside of my disagreeing with some of the theology, I find the storyline very interesting, and the portrayal of angels is majestic and hypnotically appealing and arresting. I feel that Ms. Douglas writes this books in a very visual and cinematic way.
Azazel is not a nice hero by any stretch of the word, for most of this book. He is almost cruel to Rachel in some ways, although his reluctant feelings (and the fact that he is not a woman-hater) holds him back from hurting her physically. He made a choice that led to something very bad happening to Rachel, and I know some readers won't be able to get past that. Although I don't condone his actions, I understand the turmoil that was behind them. I do like his sea change later in the book, and I think he proved he was worthy of her love. I like how I was able to see how he evolves in his perceptions of Rachel, and as he changes in his feelings towards her, this difference is very apparent in his physical expressions of lust and later passion/love towards Rachel. I could understand that he was angry and hurting over the loss of his latest and best loved wife, and how he wanted to blame Rachel for that because of the prophecy.
As far as Rachel, I liked her from the beginning. She starts as something of a blank canvas, and as the story continues, more and more depth and definition is evident with her character. Her latent identity is slowly and deftly revealed, and it was interesting to process this. The myth of Lilith is interesting, although I have never put much emphasis on it. It ties into that pervasive belief that Judaism and Christianity is inherently misogynistic, which I have never agreed with. More than anything this is a manifestation of the way that these beliefs have been used as a tool for control over others, and through human and societal cruelty, and not due to God disvaluing women (take religion out of the picture and people would find another tool to use against others). Having said that, Rachel is a very sympathetic character, and I liked how Douglas gives the Lilith myth a human and emotional (and relatable) feel instead of dwelling on the horrific aspects of that legend.
As I alluded to earlier in the review, the romantic aspects of the story bloom later, because initially, it's very apparent that Azazel mainly has hatred in his heart for Rachel. It was hard to see that possibility of love initially, but by the end of the book, I did see it. I think that took some skill on Ms. Douglas' part. I went from thinking Azazel was a total loss, and hoping he'd just leave Rachel alone and in peace and safety, to wanting him to prove he was worthy of her and for them to be together. I feel that this ultimately was a successful romance because I was able to arrive at the conviction that they should be together. The love scenes were well-written, showing not just the act of sex, but the emotions, good and bad that went along with it. They were integral to the story, because they revealed crucial aspects of both Azazel and Rachel's psyche, and also their healing processes from damaged emotions and hearts from their journeys in life.
Ultimately, I was very impressed with this novel. This is not just from the viewpoint of a lifelong (and therefore biased) admirer of this writer (Anne Stuart). It is because of her obvious and proven skill as a writer. To take a story that somehow shouldn't appeal and make into something that intrigues me and gets under my skin, leaving me thinking about the story long after I finish it. This book won't work for everyone. Although clearly paranormal romance, there is something very atypical about it. The writing has this flavor that puts it into a different and not always comfortable category. However, I found this to be a feast for the reader's senses. This kind of book takes me on a journey and fully rewards me for the time spent reading it. I definitely loved it.
I found this book a bit hard to get into at times, which is why I didn't rate it higher. But I did like some things about it:
*Lou--I loved him. He's n...moreI found this book a bit hard to get into at times, which is why I didn't rate it higher. But I did like some things about it:
*Lou--I loved him. He's not just an ifrit, he's a dog, and he's adorable in his dogness. *Good humor bits. It had me laughing out loud, which is good! *Interesting magic system *The musical aspects were authentic, enlightening, and fascinating. *The look at San Francisco, which is a beautiful town that I have had the pleasure to visit and would love to go back to. And soon!
Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars. I'll definitely be following this series.
Dragon Bound was an awesome book. I loved just about everything about it. I'm not even going to pretend that my favorite element wasn't Dragos, 'cause...moreDragon Bound was an awesome book. I loved just about everything about it. I'm not even going to pretend that my favorite element wasn't Dragos, 'cause it was! I have an unnatural attraction to possessive, jealous, stalkerific heroes who are scary as heck, and Dragos is going on my list of favorite heroes of this type. I liked that although Pia started out as a thief who dared to steal from him, she became his own personal hoard. He acted like a dragon of old, used to having his way in all things. Even though he came on kind of strong, it was clear that he wouldn't do anything to hurt Pia. He cared enough to make sure that Pia was happy! He brushed her hair all the time! He was actually a softie underneath all that hard scaly dragon armor! Ms. Harrison knows how to write this kind of hero very well!
Dragos is like a Harlequin Presents hero done well (with an intensity times one hundred). He is unbelievably wealthy, prominent and gorgeous. He is also immensely powerful. And he was done so well, there was never that incredulity factor where I have this sarcastic cheerleader moment in my head: "Yay, he is so awesome!" (rolls eyes). Dragos truly was awesome! Sick girl that I was, I liked that even though Pia found him hot and fell in love with him, she could still see he was a scary guy. Who doesn't like a guy who would give you the world, but he could also slaughter a whole army of enemies for you? Who's so jealous, he doesn't even like his crew touching you? (PSA awareness moment: Not okay in real life, but I like it in books. So shoot me!)
I thought the world-building was really good. I loved the fact that this book has a strong fantasy element, equal to the romance. It wasn't just a backdrop for paranormal loving (which was verra nice, mind you). There was a lot of thought put into creating this world in which humans live alongside Wyr (shapeshifters) and Faerie folk of all kinds, and old magic is alive and well in this world, and into the adjacent magic realms. It seemed eminently plausible that one of the most powerful economic figures could be an ancient dragon. Don't I wish?
Dragos is an awesome hero, and Pia is an equally awesome heroine. She is gutsy, intelligent, funny, and sweet. She never gave me the urge to ignore her and focus on the hero because I didn't like her. I loved her a lot. I could see myself having similar reactions to the strange circumstances she faces. I loved how utterly fearless (although inwardly quaking) she was when faced with the very scary Dragos, and especially at the end when she finds herself in a very rough situation. I loved her self-deprecating, humorous way of looking at the world, very down to earth and resourceful. I loved her secret heritage, and how Dragos cherished that part of her, and all parts of her. I felt tears brimming when she discovers what she truly is. (You have to understand that I was the little girl who was in love with Pegasus, Unicorns, and all mythical creatures. It was a sweet moment for this little girl who has never truly grown up inside).
I loved Dragos' crew, especially Graydon (who reminded me of Butch from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward), and Tricks (a very hip elf who works as Dragos' PR rep and happens to be the true heir to Throne of the Dark Fae). How cool was it that his sentinels consisted of four gryphons and a tough female Harpy (she reminded me of my girl Xhex from the Black Dagger books). It was funny how Dragos came to life when Pia came around, and seeing how his crew reacted to the new Dragos.
I don't think my review can really add anything because there are some great reviews out there of this book. I really did love everything about it. It was just hip enough (but not annoyingly so), the story and the fantasy elements were fantastic, there were many laugh out loud moments (this book was really funny), and some poignant moments. I loved the relationship between Pia and Dragos, and how they had to work at some things, but they weren't going to give up on being together. (view spoiler)[ And my being a romance reader who likes babies, I was so happy that she even had that element. Not enough PNR books have pregnancy and babies in them for me (I know some readers hate that, but not me!) So I was glad she did have that in this book, and it was so cool how she did it. Definitely some 'aww' moments there. (hide spoiler)]
I know I want to hug this book tight to my book-loving heart. I will put this out on my favorites shelf for a frequent reread. I can't wait to see what Ms. Harrison does in the next Elder Races books. She has a fan in me!
My friends who said I would love this were right. High five!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ascension took me a while to read, when I typically devour most paranormal romances. The writing style didn't grab hold of me and refuse to let me go,...moreAscension took me a while to read, when I typically devour most paranormal romances. The writing style didn't grab hold of me and refuse to let me go, which is a shame. However, I did like enough about this book to keep me wanting to continue the series.
What I liked *The concept of ascensions was captivating. I loved the idea that there were various Worlds accessible via dimensional gates that only a person who had ascended could pass through. This had some metaphysical aspects that appealed to me as a person with interest in the ethereal and the scientific. *I liked the mix of high tech science with fantasy aspects which are integral to this book. *The romance was strong and involving despite the dense writing style. The steam and attraction elements were well done. *I'm a sucker for a brotherhood of warriors. What can I say? (view spoiler)[I like the way Roane sort of makes fun of the seemingly obligatory aspect of the brothers going out to a club to get drunk, drink blood, and have sex with willing, nubile females. This has become quite a convention of the paranormal genre which I can’t say I’m in love with. I like that Alison talked about how sexist that was with Kerrick, because it’s a thought I often have when I read these books, even as an admitted paranormal addict. (hide spoiler)] *Good action sequences, and the displays of superhuman abilities were well done. I had these images of large-scale, majestic battles between winged warriors. She conveyed this imagery very well. *There's something about winged people that just does it for me. These aren’t angels, but I’d probably lump them into that category because of the whole ascended being with wings aspects. *Endelle is a character that totally stands out. Normally, you don't see these kinds of outre', unabashedly over the top alpha females in these books. She is a good source of humor and I love that her word is law, even to this group of very powerful warriors. *I liked the concept of the breh-hedden. While the fated mate theme is nothing new, I liked the way Roane presents her version. Although I'm not 100% keen on the idea of a hot warrior who is your fated mate smelling like fennel/licorice (Marcus, a secondary character smells like licorice to Havily), at least it's kind of unique.
What could have been better *Honestly, I think that this could have stood a very liberal edit, at least 50 pages. I felt as though there were excessive pages and words used than were needed to tell this story. This was quite striking considering that I had a question mark in my mind over the whole concept until about 300 pages had gone by. A surgical use of words could have conveyed more of what the author intended in a more concise fashion, and made for a shorter, easier read. Admittedly, I'm a reader who prefers more short and snappy writing. I can get past that with a really compelling read. However, in the case of this story, it just felt apparent to me that not all the words she used were needed. *I felt that most of the warrior brethren are still somewhat sketchy as far as characters. I can name them and give brief traits about them, but for all the length of the story, I would have liked a better integration of them in the narrative than I saw. This made the book have a samey feel in comparison to other popular paranormal series out there, when there is more than enough to distinguish this book from others in the genre. *The villain was a bit sketchy too. I couldn't feel his motivations. I was told rather than shown these, and it didn't quite ring through to me. I hope that he is better developed in the subsequent books.
After a rather slow, frustrating read, with some moments of brilliance that spurred me on to keep reading, I can say I liked this book, but I did not love it. I like the ideas, and I really want to fall in love with this book. I hope that I will feel more drawn in with the subsequent books since I have gotten a introductory feel to this world. For a first book in a high concept series, Ascension isn't bad. It is just one of those books that it takes patience and determination to get through.
Sadly, I was pretty disappointed with this book. If it was written by another author that I didn't have higher expectations for, I would have liked it...moreSadly, I was pretty disappointed with this book. If it was written by another author that I didn't have higher expectations for, I would have liked it fairly well. But for Gena Showalter, and what I know she can write, this one didn't quite measure up. I think it's the Harlequin Nocturne curse. I've found that these books don't have enough content to make this PNR fan happy. Ms. Showalter seemed to have some issues with the word count restrictions. I think she did the best she could, but I felt that the storytelling wasn't as cohesive, and some aspects were less concrete that I would like. I think as a 400 page book, this could have been an awesome story. For a 281 page book, it's rather half-done.
I wanted more world-building and stronger characterization. The world seemed a bit like a Saturday morning cartoon as far as the fairy land stricken by dark magic. I was left wanting more on that front. The bad guys were kind of cardboard. I love a wicked witch villainess, and this could have rocked in that sense. As is, the players were too sketchy for my tastes. As far as the romance/sexy bits, that was very well done as it was, although more time spent on Nicolai and Jane getting to know each other wouldn't have come amiss.
On the positive side, I really liked Jane as a heroine. Nicolai didn't impress me, but I wasn't necessarily disappointed. He was just okay. He was the standard rakish hero who happens to be a vampire. He didn't strike me as particularly tortured, but yes, he was sexy! I didn't mind the monosyllabic/neanderthal speech as much as some of my fellow readers. It fit Nicolai's character to me, so it didn't stick out. He's an elemental, primal kind of guy, and I would expect that of him for the woman he fell in love/felt a strong bond with. As far as the sex slave to beat all sex slaves angle, I think The Pleasure Slave has a somewhat similar scenario in some respects, but done much better, because there was more time for the story to ripen and bloom fully.
As much as it pains me, I can't give this one more than 3.25/5.0 stars. Ms. Showalter, you still rock for me, and I am still a loyal fan. I blame this more on the short format than on a lack of writing skills on your part. My fingers are crossed that I enjoy the following books in the series a little more. I'm not giving up on Harlequin Nocturnes yet, darn it!(less)
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It has beautiful writing. The descriptions are lyrical and lush in their imagery. The ideas are very imaginat...moreI'm not sure how I feel about this book. It has beautiful writing. The descriptions are lyrical and lush in their imagery. The ideas are very imaginative. I loved Karou. She's strong and vulnerable. She's old for her years, but full of youthful energy. Akiva has an appealing brokenness and dangerous allure. And of course, I love angels. However, I didn't feel satisfied when I finished this book. I felt rather empty, to be honest. I felt a twisty knot of anguish inside. Maybe that's a sign that it was a very good book. That I felt deeply for both Karou, Akiva, Brimstone, Madrigal. I couldn't take sides easily. That's real though, isn't it? War always has losers and rarely has winners. Even the winning side counts the cost, with the innumerable loss of lives, as much as their way of life in no small part.
Now this is embarrassing for a huge romance fan to admit. I found the romantic descriptions a bit much for my tastes. A little too saccharine for me. It could be because I listened to the audiobook version, and honestly I tend to avoid romance on audiobooks (with some notable exceptions). I think I liked this better as fantasy than as a romance. Certainly the end was a hard slap in the face. Very melancholy!
I can see why this book is so well-loved and highly reviewed. It has a lot to offer a fantasy reader. The storyline is very creative, with the author's building of unique myths just for this novel, and the writing is lush and beautiful. As an audiobook, it's a feast to the ears, and the narrator does a great job. However, since I am an unrepentant emotional reader, I couldn't give this five stars, because I wasn't fully satisfied in some intangible way. Having said that, I am looking forward to the upcoming sequel.
Would I recommend this? Yes. It's a book you don't want to miss. Whether you'll feel the same way I did, I can't say. It's important for you to make up your own mind.(less)
Did you ever read a book, and enjoy it, where you weren't even sure you really liked the main characters at all? They are people that you wouldn't wan...moreDid you ever read a book, and enjoy it, where you weren't even sure you really liked the main characters at all? They are people that you wouldn't want to be around for more than five minutes in real life. Well that is this book.
Having said that, this was a really good book. I found it fascinating, wildly hilarious, creative, unique, and I have this fond feeling inside now that I've finish it. But along with that, there is a sadness.
Let's talk about this book!
As I said above, I spent most of the book trying to decide if I even liked these people, except for Alice. She was the only character I liked 99% of the time. And the 1% of the time I didn't like her, I could understand her actions. The other characters, I just felt like they needed to stop playing around and take something serious for once. Although I felt protective over most of them, and I didn't wish them ill (except for wanting to slap some of them hard), I didn't like their ways of dealing with life. It seemed as though everything was a lark, drinking way too much, taking drugs, sleeping around, playing emotional games with other people. Ugly ways make for ugly people, and that kept hitting me like an off note in an otherwise melodious piece of music. Kind of like Dorian Gray, ultimate hedonism, but without the darkly cruel, ugly edge of narcissism that Gray had. Yeah, there is a bit of a Gossip Girl/Cruel Intentions kind of vibe in some of their doings, The Rich, Bored Mean Kids and their Antics, and I hate that sort of thing. Let me put this way, if this wasn't a book about magic school students, I think I would have shucked it. But the magic part, well that was too brilliant to let go. And I admit, they did make me laugh many times. As for Quentin, the main character....my feelings are decidely complex.
To me, Quentin is a brat who needed a good spanking, a good wake-up call (which he gets in spades, but I'm not 100% sure if it really worked). He is one of those people who scream "Wasted potential." He has opportunities handed to him on a silver platter, and he can't seem to step up and take things as they truly are and be a man. Alice told him so well what I was thinking, essentially to get over himself. I think it helped...some. The verdict is still out. I have high hopes that Quentin will rise to the potential he has, because I can see it shining inside of him. Do I expect great things from him? Well, it's not fair to put those expectations on people, but I expect a lot more than he's given in life. Alice hit on it, his real problem. He is so miserable, and he is bent on being a miserable person. And that is one thing that truly annoys me, a person who likes being unhappy and wants to drag others to their unhappy party. His unhappiness gave birth to a self-destructive bent that he barely managed to keep control of, and it was painful watching him continue in his vicious cycle.
As I said above, I found the concepts of a magic school and how it was handled here utterly fascinating and made for quite an enjoyable read. I know it's been done before, but I like the way it was done here. It brought back memories of my academic days (undergrad and professional school), how it kicked my butt hard and I wondered why I didn't just crawl in the gutter somewhere and die, but I didn't. I just kept on trucking. I especially liked the part in Antarctica. That was just brilliant. I mean....Breakbills South in Antarctica. Rather like the fourth year residency. Just awesome.
The metafiction element of the Fillory books and how they are one of the very few things that Quentin holds sacred, and how they relate back to the story of Quentin and his friends from Breakbills was an element that made this story resonate. Another part I really liked. The satire and the respectful but also irreverent (I think) homage to Narnia hit a chord with me since I love the Narnia books. Seeing how a set of jaded early twentysomethings might view that magical world as opposed to young, sheltered children was quite interesting. And there are some very naughty and quite hilarious jokes thrown in that had me laughing.
The humor was great, and equally well-done was how well the author managed to work in some pretty harrowing and disturbing aspects. The part with the Beast made my hair stand on end. Just freaking weird and scary. And who the Beast turns out to be made it even more unnerving. And the dangerous potential for magic use on the wielder. In my opinion, no story about magic is complete without this. I admit I liked that the Physical kids (as they were called) turned out to be rather woefully underprepared for Fillory. It felt refreshing, although it turns out that their magical skills definitely come to their aid when needed (for the most part). I felt that all the plot elements tie in very well in this story, with elements that are introduced in the very beginning coming full circle in a way that feels balanced for me as a reader.
This was a very well-done novel. My major issue was how unlikable and cynical the characters were at times. That might not bother some, but I don't have a lot of tolerance for that whole, "I'm so bored and jaded with life" kind of vibe, so it wore on me. At times, the narrative voice was a little bit too smug and nastily pretentious (I can't stand cultural snobbery) for me. Also, way too much drinking and carousing for me. I don't know how Elliot still has a liver the way he drinks. And Janet, well, I would have given her a few slaps for her nasty behavior, thank you very much. Even with these unpalatable elements, I can see where Grossman is going here. He's turning the childhood fantasy series on its ear, and he spins this story deftly for those who enjoy fantasy and the process of experiencing how an author can take these elements and craft a fascinating story that you can sink your teeth into. I just want to see more character evolution than I saw here. I need to see that Quentin is a mature, wiser, more emotionally healthy person for what he's experienced. I'm definitely reading the next book, and I hope I can find it on audiobook again, because this kind of story begs for a skilled narrator like I had the pleasure of listening to with The Magicians.(less)
Royal Street is a very refreshing and enjoyable urban fantasy read. I was captivated by the sights and scenery of New Orleans, and the honest and enli...moreRoyal Street is a very refreshing and enjoyable urban fantasy read. I was captivated by the sights and scenery of New Orleans, and the honest and enlightening perspective of the city during and after the Hurricane Katrina devastation. We did get refugees (both human and animal) from New Orleans around that time in the Austin, and also the poisoned air drifted our way, causing a lot of allergy and respiratory issues. Seeing the aftermath from a more distant perspective was painful enough. I can't imagine having experienced it firsthand. Ms. Johnson allowed me to do this in reading this book. New Orleans has such a personality, that it continually establishes itself as a important character in her own right in books. This reader is not jaded at meeting this beautiful ancient dame yet again.
Drusilla Jaco doesn't cede all the attention to New Orleans. She establishes herself as a likable character whose story you want to learn. She's neither too strong, nor too weak. Her strengths and weaknesses balance themselves out, making her a character I want to accompany on an adventure. Drusilla is a wizard, which is fun. Usually the tendency is to make a female UF protagonist a witch, which I feel can be a bit sexist. It could also be that I am not a big fan of witch storylines and witchcraft. I can and do like the idea of wizards a little more, and why can't a woman be a wizard? In this case, she is not just a wizard, but one with a special heritage which comes into play. That was fun to see Drusilla, or DJ, as she is called, come into herself and her genetic inheritance.
As far as other characters, I definitely liked Alex and Jake. Boy howdy, I do not care for love triangles, but this one feels credible. Both guys have a lot to offer, and you do feel torn. I have made up my mind who I want Drusilla to end up with, but we'll see what the series has to say about that. Either way, so long as it doesn't turn into bed-switching (which has become almost an UF staple lately), I'm okay with going along for the ride. Now that Jean Lafitte, he's a character. I find him sexy, but it's in a "I'm so wrong to think he's sexy" kind of way. I mean, he's ruthless and amoral, and he is physically abusive. I'm not feeling that at all. At the same time, he is a cutthroat pirate, so I can't really ascribe 21st century values to him, can I? Yeah, I'm feeling conflicted. At any rate, he's an interesting character. I can't really tell you about one of my favorite characters, who is in fact an inanimate object that DJ calls Charlie. Let me just say that Lord of the Rings fans will find it very cool indeed!
As far as the urban fantasy action, this book is pretty good on that score although it could have used more showing and more description. I did feel that the final confrontation wasn't as exciting and as well-executed as I would have liked. Admittedly, I am a stickler for well-written action scenes, so I tend to grade harder in that area. I did like that Drusilla does get to save the day. It was important for her to be able to do so, even though she did get a bit of help along the way.
Royal Street is a great start to a series that has me excited to read more. I liked the concept and the characters are appealing and have me interested in reading more, including the Grande Dame of New Orleans.
Urban fantasy readers looking for a book that would appeal to both male and female readers should find something to like in this book. I know I did!(less)
Moonbeams is an enjoyable sword and sorcery/heroic fantasy novel with good world-building. I like that the main character is a tough/capable warrior p...moreMoonbeams is an enjoyable sword and sorcery/heroic fantasy novel with good world-building. I like that the main character is a tough/capable warrior princess, and I loved the diverse characters: three college-age humans who fell into the Veil, elves, faeries, dwarves, talking horses (but not in a cheesy way), dark sorcerers, and trolgres (troll/ogre hybrids). It's worth checking out.