The Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that reall...moreThe Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that really happen mixed in with some very visually stunning imagery. It's also quite sober and heartbreaking in a subtle, literary fashion.
I think there is a reason that adults continue to read stories with children as the main characters. We never truly detach or divorce ourselves from our child selves. It's therapeutic to look back at that time through the viewpoint of a child character in books and to work through the issues from our own childhood.
That is why I did connect very well with the narrator of this book. I remember vivid the powerful mix of fear, curiosity, joy and the intensely visceral assimilation of all sensations from my childhood. Also in some of the bittersweet experiences that the narrator has. Not in a small way, our parents are godlike figures to us. They live on pedestals and glimmer like gold, until they don't. Until something reveals their feet of clay. However, even as children, we want to keep believing in the purity of their perfection, because we can't not believe. That dose of reality finally takes effect as we near adulthood, if we're fortunate enough to hold on to that innocent view of our parents until then..
I felt the pain of this young boy as his family is nearly torn to shreds by the arrival of a very old, very cruel force. I felt his uncomfortable situation of being the only one in his family who sees through her seemingly benign facade. At the same time, I felt great comfort in knowing that Hattie and her family are there to protect and even coddle him, when his own family fails. I loved the way they take him in and feed him delicious, satisfying food that made my mouth water as I read this book.
I like that we don't quite get all the answers for who Hattie and her family are. We just know that they are old, very old, and they have enormous power. However, they are not invulnerable.
Gaiman succeeds as he typically does in tempering the truly sinister with the sweet comfort of the familiar and childlike. He knows how to use just the right phrasing to convey this duality in his storytelling. Even though this is an adult book, I feel that it speaks to the young girl in me.
I can't say much more about this book because my mind is not very clear right now, and I read this last week (and there have been some busy days for me), but I can say that this was an enjoyable reading experience. It accomplishes much in the short span of pages, and leaves this reader with even more to ponder and to ruminate on.
This is the first book by Gaiman I've read in print. I've been getting his narrated audiobooks from the library (and enjoying them tremendously). His writing stands up to both media formats, but I have a feeling that I will probably get this to listen to as well, because I love his soothing voice and the manner in which he uses that voice to better illustrate his words on the page for an auditory experience.
It took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough an...moreIt took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough and I was able to finish it. It turned out to be good, but I feel the writing needed more work to be more accessible. I love British just about anything, but I think some of the Britishness of this book didn't translate very well on paper.
A dark, twisted, and at times, incomprehensible urban fantasy novel.
Wow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose....moreWow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose. Butcher wrote the foreword, and he said he was very happy with the way Harry comes out, that he'd always visualized Harry Dresden in this medium, since he grew up as a huge comic book fan. I'd tend to agree. I think the artist did an excellent job of capturing Harry and also Karrin Murphy and Carmichael. He captures Harry's physicality as well as his self-awareness of both his flaws and strengths. It was interesting to see Harry perform his typical spellwork and see him in action with his blasting rod and staff, and get a glimpse of his beloved VW Bug. While I watched the tv show, and I liked it, there were a few things they changed that I didn't care for, so this was a better way to visualize Harry outside of my own active imaginations, and truer to the plotlines of the books.
The storyline was very good. I loved the infusion of folklore and the underlying concept driving the story. The villain was really quite formidable and very creepy. Harry shows his heroism, even though he is often the underdog in the battle. And he definitely faces some serious obstacles, as always. I liked the secondary characters like Will. Of course, being an animal lover, I enjoyed the fact that this is set in a zoo.
Beautiful artwork, and great storytelling. What's not to like about this? Really glad to see Harry Dresden in the graphic novel medium. Will definitely read more of these!(less)
Sealed With a Curse starts out in medias res, and that pace pretty much matches what is found throughout this novel. I was a bit clueless at first as...moreSealed With a Curse starts out in medias res, and that pace pretty much matches what is found throughout this novel. I was a bit clueless at first as to what was going on, but I got sucked into the narrative and the Wird sisters' story almost immediately. There is more or less nonstop action, and the cool thing, is the heroine and her sisters are the main ones kicking butt and taking names. Along with laugh-out-loud humor and wonderful sisterly bonding, with a touch of romance, that adds up to a very enjoyable book.
Celia and her sisters were cursed before birth, but the curse backfired into a blessing. They are all gifted with unusual abilities. Despite the strangeness of the four Wird sisters' abilities, three of them manage to have busy dating lives and all four fulfilling careers as a nurse. Celia had a big issue that precluded dating a lot. She has an inner tigress that makes her one tough woman. Most men can't handle that. Celia fears that she never will meet that guy. Until she sees a hunky werewolf running with his pack. Their gazes connect, but that doesn't mean that they will "connect". And there is an epidemic of vampires turning into feral, bloodthirsty killers, so they might not get the chance to 'connect' anyway. Aric Connor might be the man of Celia's dreams, but as a purebred werewolf, she might not be a good partner to settle down with on his end. However, master vampire, Misha Aleksandr thinks Celia is pretty awesome, wooing her with expensive gifts and his supernatural vampire allure, which Celia is a lot more immune to it than she would have thought. Instead, her heart beats for Aric.
I loved the sister camaraderie the most in this book. They really had each others' backs. I liked how each sister had a distinct personality. They were individuals, but they worked and lived together in harmony. I also enjoyed the humor a lot (although it is sometimes of the raunchy, foul-mouthed variety). At first, I thought that would book would be too silly for me, but Robson proved she could hang with the Grade A Kickbutt Action Writers crew with her seriously intense action scenes. Readers who don't like gory description should be warned, because the author doesn't skimp on these. But seeing the Wird sisters kick butt and hold their own against a slew of powerful immortals makes up for some icktastic moments.
I thought it was cute how Celia's sisters all found romance with other weres associated with Aric. Although I didn't like the assumption that sleeping with them that fast was 'normal' whereas Celia was weird because she didn't get physical with guys like her sisters did. Sort of an inherent value judgment against people who choose a celibate lifestyle, for whatever reason. Granted, Celia did tend to be very self-pitying about her lack of a love life. I do think she could have dated more if she wanted to. And it's perfectly fine if she didn't date much, if she was okay with it. The fact that Misha definitely found her sexy and appealing from the beginning of the book (even before she met Aric) was proof that there was nothing wrong with Celia. Misha thought she was better than sliced bread, and he could have any woman he wanted. A man who couldn't handle her wasn't worth it anyway. I think deep down, Celia didn't want to settle for a Mr. Now when she could have Mr. Right.
Overall, this was a very good book. Lots of action, hilarious humor, great sister bonding. I liked that there is good ethnic diversity in this novel. The Wird sisters have Latin descent on their mother's side, and numerous characters are of different ethnic/racial backgrounds. The world-building was good, with some interesting takes on vampires, werewolves, witches, and other paranormals. Personally, the romance wasn't the biggest draw for me, although it was good. I liked the sister bond the most and the action, but the romance is pretty good (for an urban fantasy book). But there is definitely good chemistry and romantic promise for those who want that in the urban fantasy. This is a series I look forward to continuing.(less)
This was undoubtedly the best in the series. I actually didn't dislike Kyana in this. The events alluded to in the other books come to fruition in a p...moreThis was undoubtedly the best in the series. I actually didn't dislike Kyana in this. The events alluded to in the other books come to fruition in a pretty good way. I think I would look forward to reading another book if the author continues this series.
I don't use the term brilliant much when I'm writing reviews. But this is the term that just keeps coming to mind about this book. I knew I'd apprecia...moreI don't use the term brilliant much when I'm writing reviews. But this is the term that just keeps coming to mind about this book. I knew I'd appreciate it, because I have an appreciation for Asian culture and people, and swordsmanship; and honestly, something about a book with a woman holding a sword on the cover just pulls me in.
This book speaks to me of a writer who loves Japan, both modern and ancient. Someone who has taken the time to investigate and learn the culture, even to the deepest levels. You can't gain that kind of authenticity any other way.
Bein has taken an idea about three swords crafted by a legendary swordsmith and created a beautifully rich novel around them. While this is labeled as fantasy, the fantasy element is that the swords have animus and their very natures affect the destiny of those around them. Bein cleverly unfolds his story with a combination of past and present narrative. I was a bit worried I would find the historical parts dry, but I didn't. It was fascinating. I realized how little I know about samurai and how bushido affects everything about their lives. The insight into this period was crucial in this novel, because the swords are over nine hundred years old. Since I haven't even lived in cities that old, I can't even conceive of owning something that old! But for a Japanese person, not such a stretch. Now add in the fact that these swords have shaped history in major ways!
It takes some skill to make an inanimate object sinister. But that's exactly what Beautiful Singer is. It's a sword that takes over the owner's mind and leads him hand and headfirst down the path of doom. This is why I don't go in for antiques! The other two swords have their own distinctive natures as well. What was interesting is that the swords can’t make you into something you’re not. They seem to work on the inherent nature of the person. This destiny attached to these swords brings Mariko Oshiro to the front door of elderly Professor Yasuo Yamada, who is the owner of a sword that a violent Yakuza criminal tried to steal. This twisted path could only be destiny, as all the forces send her in the direction of a deep bond with the nearly blind expert swordsman, who takes her on as a student. Because she is the only one who can stop Fuchida, a man who has been seduced by the voice of his own sword, Beautiful Singer.
This book is just so good. It’s amazing how the story just drew me deeper and deeper. I wanted to find out about how these three swords could draw people into relationship with each other from historical to modern times, and not always in a good way. But ultimately, the right people end up in the right places, until we end up in the present with Mariko and Yamada’s story.
If you’re looking for an over-the-top fantasy story with all kinds of out there scenes, this isn’t the book. If you want a book with an excellent narrative building on a concept that seems magical, if you don’t believe in swords that are blessed and cursed, then you’d enjoy this book.
The cultural aspects had major appeal. As I mentioned earlier, the look at bushido and historical samurai was a good learning experience. But equally important was the view into modern Japan. I especially appreciated that the main character was a Japanese woman, who dealt with a society which is profoundly sexist, and she was driven enough to fight for what she wanted and needed in life, even as she ran into stumbling blocks of prejudice within her own agency, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. I admired her drive and determination. I also liked seeing the walls come down between her and Yamada, as she realized that this old man was what she was missing from her life, the companionship and the belief in her that he offered. Yamada, I adored him! No words! I can easily see why Mariko came to love him so much. Relationships can be pigeon-holed because it is the natural way of humans to classify what is hard to define. But they are so complex. They provide what we need in this life in a way that goes way beyond labels. That’s how Yamada and Muriko’s relationship impacted me. And also Keiji and Hayano’s back in the 40s. Heck, all the stories added so much texture to this book.
My feelings for this book are so intricate, that I’m having trouble putting them into words. So I’ll just end by saying I just loved this book so much. It may not hit you the same way, but I hope that others find something to offer them in Daughter of the Sword. (less)
This is a very good start to a male-lead urban fantasy series. The concepts were familiar, but the author gives them all his own distinct spin. McHugh...moreThis is a very good start to a male-lead urban fantasy series. The concepts were familiar, but the author gives them all his own distinct spin. McHugh touches on some very recognizable figures in fantasy and folk legends and mythology and in a way that made me go "Hmm!". It's pretty gritty and quite violent. I'm not sure I was in love with the sexuality expressed in the story though. However, this book definitely keeps your eyes glued to the pages, and the magic was fascinating and darkly alluring and repulsive in parts. I am thrilled I am able to read and review this series, since I do love my urban fantasy.
The terribly unlikable heroine killed this book for me. The Greek Mythology is interesting, but otherwise, this didn't have much of an original feel t...moreThe terribly unlikable heroine killed this book for me. The Greek Mythology is interesting, but otherwise, this didn't have much of an original feel to me, and wasn't groundbreaking as far as female-lead urban fantasy.
*Disclaimer*--I have endeavored to make this spoiler-free, but beware anyway.
It’s been a long time coming, but readers of the Black Dagger Brotherhood...more*Disclaimer*--I have endeavored to make this spoiler-free, but beware anyway.
It’s been a long time coming, but readers of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series finally get to see the culmination of the romantic entanglement between Qhuinn and Blay. While I wouldn’t have called myself Team Qhuay, I had hopes that their love story would be satisfying, and I can gladly say that it was! I am very much in love with this series, and each year, I look forward to reuniting with the Brothers and their loved ones, allies, and associates (and antagonists), and spending time in that busy little city of Caldwell, New York. While there was a great deal of nervousness of how this book would hit me, I am a happy reader. I found that I couldn’t give it less than five stars since I enjoyed it so very much. A book that has my eyes and attention stuck to the pages like Super Glue and happily (or otherwise) talking to myself and the book has to be a five star one in my mind.
Qhuinn is an acquired taste. His ‘don’t care’, abrasive personality and highly promiscuous behavior did not endear him to me, although I did respect his loyalty to John Matthew and Blay, and as a result, to the Brothers. He evolved beautifully over the course of the series, growing into the worthy male he always had the potential to become. With this book and the previous two, Ward showed me that his personality was shaped by a childhood of being denied what every person should have in this life, loving acceptance from his parents and family. Qhuinn more or less raised himself. I do have to say that when I take this into account, it’s amazing he turned out so well. Deep down, he is a very wonderful male with a good heart. It’s interesting that some of the gentleness that calls to me from a male of worth was first brought to light in his relationship with Layla. While I never saw them as a future mating, their interactions showed a strong bond of friendship and caring, and the courteous way he treated Layla warmed me to Qhuinn, as well has his loyalty and bravery in fighting for the Brotherhood. With this book, I felt as though my heart was scraped over with sandpaper as I saw truly how it was for Qhuinn in his life. The mindless sex didn’t work for me, and it still doesn’t. But I can see that this was just a way to hide from the pain. In the end, Qhuinn made me cry and showed that he deserved Blay’s love. I was happy to go through his journey or realizing what truly was important in his life, and the one consistent in his life was his friend and beloved Blay, even though he couldn’t admit for a long time that his heart desire to love and be loved by Blay. I literally hurt for him, as he looked back on his past actions with excruciating regret. I know we all wish we’d made different choices, and our hearts cry out for acceptance and unconditional love. I felt so much for Qhuinn as he went through this painful process. At the end of this book, I realized that I truly loved Qhuinn, he has become one of my favorite characters in this series, which is saying something!
I have always loved Blay. I loved him just as much now. He has so much to offer others, and his center is strong and complete. Being around someone like that is so good for you, because we need that pillar of strength in our life. Qhuinn certainly did. Even when he wasn’t being very kind to Qhuinn. I can certainly understand why. It’s very hard to keep loving someone who clearly doesn’t want your love, or at least that is how they act. Despite that, Blay still showed love in his intent and his uncalculated actions, which speaks volumes. The acts he does on behalf of Qhuinn definitely speak of unselfish love, and even when he was being nasty to Qhuinn, I could look past that to the why of his behavior. I didn’t find his viewpoint as strong as Qhuinn, but I guess that Qhuinn is just a more vibrant character in the end. I think that it’s because Blay has known who he was for a long time, and what he wanted. He just had to wait until that person was ready to be claimed. But for what I saw of Blay, he remains a beloved character for me. I feel that his steady nature complements the windstorm that is Qhuinn.
As before, I feel sad about Saxton. I think they both knew it wouldn’t last, because Blay’s heart was elsewhere. But I still pain for Saxton that he had to let go of Blay, even though he had fallen in love with him. It was the right thing to do in the end. I hope high hopes that Saxton will get his happy ending. He deserves it.
If there was a couple who weren’t more meant for each other than Qhuay, then I can’t name them. Their love has traveled some tough roads, with lots of pain and anguish along the way. But anything forged in fire is built to last. I feel that way about Qhuinn and Blay together. Like most of the other Brotherhood couples, they have found their place on the shelf in my heart as I smiled at their happy resolution at the end of this book. I do feel that Ward did them justice.
We get more of a snapshot of all the Brothers in this book than anything else. Instead of focusing on the established characters, Ward spends most of her attention on the newer characters and of course, Qhuinn and Blay. However, I just love catching up with the Brothers. They have me laughing and sometimes crying. They watch out for each other and love each other, even if it’s in a dysfunctional way. To me they are real people. Maybe that’s sad, but I can’t feel any regret about my psychotic belief that these are real people!
Layla is a character that many feel conflicted about. I like her. I like her just as much as I did before. I do like that she is taking measures to root herself in newly found autonomy. There were moments in this book that I cheered her on seriously, because she showed the potential I felt she always had. While she is not Qhuinn’s true love, I really like their relationship, how she sees the good in him and loves him dearly. She had faith in him when I didn’t and probably few others did. That means a lot. But more than this, she is her own person with her own destiny to fulfill outside of Qhuinn or her Chosen status. I’m glad she grabbed for that with both hands. I am so glad that things are going okay with the situation that arose out of the last book. I can say no more without spoilers.
When I read a book, I go through a period of wondering where an author is going with a storyline, but I am willing to take the ride. With this book, there was a fair amount of that initially. Especially with Assail and the Band of Brothers. While Assail was intriguing in the first book, he is doubly so now. That male is fierce and very, shall we say, ‘antiheroic.’ His interactions with a certain lady and some of his shameless comments definitely had my heart beating fast. He has that pull I look for in a romantic hero, for sure. Let me just say I am eagerly waiting seeing where things go next with Assail. He is turning out to be quite the character.
The Band of Brothers storyline is another one that is in flux. I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of it, but I am definitely feeling the Xcor/Layla connection. The scene in the car made me feel so deeply for them. The writing was so good on that scene. The imagery embedded itself in my consciousness, and I felt this aching poignancy of that moment. Call me Team Xcor/Layla! As far as the BoB’s war against the Brotherhood, this promises to be intense. I love the Brothers, but I can’t say I want to see the BoB hurt. I am feeling kinda invested in these guys. I don’t think of them as full-on villains right now, but more like antiheroes. Maybe that’s good that they aren’t so cut and dried. But more layered and complex in their motivations.
I am gratified to see Trez’s storyline develop. At the same time, I wonder, what about iAm? I guess Ward has to pick her battles, and she chose to work with his story first. The Shadows have me very intrigued, and I want to find out more about their origins. Trez is definitely in the hot seat. While I don’t like his method of dealing with it, I definitely can understand his feelings of being trapped by his destiny.
Summing Things Up
I haven’t followed reviews of this because I don’t like to let that affect how I view a book. I tried very hard to avoid spoilers before I read this. In all honestly, the new Brotherhood book is a highlight of my year. And I was not disappointed. While many dislike JR Ward’s writing or have become dissatisfied with the series, I am not one of those. I felt that she showed that she cares about these characters as much as I do, and puts a lot of energy and creativity into writing these books. I’m happy with the result. I’m back on the merry-go-round, because now I am starting the year long wait for the next book. It’s hard work being a Black Dagger Brotherhood fan, but there are payoffs! (less)
I hate giving two star ratings! Three stars might be generous on my part, because this one didn't come together for me. I did like the werewolf charac...moreI hate giving two star ratings! Three stars might be generous on my part, because this one didn't come together for me. I did like the werewolf character a lot though, so it makes me want to give it more than 2.5 stars. Dilemma! BBB doesn't allow fractions below or above .5 star ratings, so I'll go ahead and give it 3 stars.