This had a rocky start, but I liked it quite a bit overall. Honey was feisty. In fact, it kind of reminded me of "Taming of the Shrew" because Honey wThis had a rocky start, but I liked it quite a bit overall. Honey was feisty. In fact, it kind of reminded me of "Taming of the Shrew" because Honey was so prickly and rebuffed any attempts at seduction. Ben isn't a flashy charmer who gets off on being offensive like Petruchio, but rather takes the tactic of disinterest. Surprisingly, it does hurt Honey's feelings, although she's sick of being seen as a sex object because of her beauty and curvaceous body. The "Taming of the Shrew" aspect is more that Ben actually woos Honey into relaxing the icy walls around her heart and wins her by loving her for her. She has some valid reasons for being wary of men who seem only attracted to her looks.
I think Ben did play a little too lukewarm at times. If I was Honey, I would have thought he was disinterested as well. I think that's part of why I didn't give this four stars. I like when the hero is crazy about the heroine and it's easy for me to tell that as a reader, even if the heroine can't because of her issues. In the end, Ben finally came clean, but he left it almost too late.
I liked this quite a bit in the end, even though the "hot and cold' back and forth got a bit tedious at times. It was a nice diversion and I'm a sucker for a good marriage of convenience storyline.
So, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's aSo, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's a big part of why I enjoy this series so much.
Sorry, but this is a really long review. I had a lot to say!
Possible Spoiler Disclaimer: I will warn readers that while I really tried not to use overt spoilers, you will see that there is an emotional shock that comes in this book, but I don’t reveal exactly what it was. Readers beware!
The Shadows is the telling of the story of the two s’Hisbe brothers who have become unofficial members of the Brotherhood’s growing family. Trez is running away from his destiny, written in the stars, as the future mate of the Princess of the s’Hisbe. He’s done everything he could to disqualify himself, but the time is growing short and he can run no longer. iAm has stood in the gap for his brother for many years, trying to keep his brother from going over the edge of oblivion to the exclusion of having his own life. But the time is coming when he won’t be able to save his brother. Trez is stone cold in love with the Chosen, Selena, but for many reasons, a happy ending doesn’t seem to be written in their destinies. Will iAm ever get the chance to build his own life, and to make decisions that aren’t dictated by his sacrificial love for his brother?
With a storyline that like, you know there’s going to be major drama.
Drama is JR Ward’s calling card. When I read one of her books, I automatically expect it. It’s hard, at the same time, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it often does, very hard. I deliberately took my time reading this, preparing myself for the emotional blows sure to come. Not at all sure that there would be a happy end by the last page. I know a lot of people weren’t happy with this book, and I was prepared that I might not be, or that I might like it and find myself an outlier in saying why I liked it. So, it was emotionally stressful for me to read it. Another reason to take my time.
Some have argued that Ward has moved away from her initial writing of romance. I’m not sure I agree. Even in her earlier book, there was always a sense that not everything was settled, and while there were committed and happily mated couples, troubles could be lurking around the corner. Yes, the books were shorter and they focused more on the romance, but there was always something more, and plenty of drama. As the series has progress, the books have expanded, and with them, the storylines. And yes, the drama quotient. At times, it’s wearying how the storylines get dragged out and she introduces yet another set of new characters instead of giving more resolution on current storylines. This book was not different in that regard. And there were parts of this book that ripped my guts out and gave me a headache that was just a shade below a migraine. I wanted to slap one particular character super-duper silly. And I wanted to shake another one. I wanted to rail at the capriciousness of life, and ask the whys. But at the same time, I was satisfied at the end of the story. Hence my rating.
My opinion won’t be popular on this book amongst many of my friends. Largely, I really enjoyed this book. While there were some parts that were terribly sad and that made me sob like a big old baby, I felt that JR Ward delivered the quality of storytelling I appreciate about her writing. I’m not the one to tell you if she messed up specific details. I love this books a lot, but I don’t always remember which hand of Vishous glows or which eye of Qhuinn’s is blue versus green. To me, I don’t find that terribly important. I do care about the stories and the emotional journey. I don’t care if she rewrites some aspects of the storyline, because that’s to be expected in a long-running series. As an artist, one’s creation will evolve, and Ward views these people as real, probably as real as they seem to me, but probably even more real. And real people do change.
I will say this as well, I believe in eternal life. I believe that life doesn’t end on this plane. I believe that death is an enemy in that it steals love ones away from their beloveds, hopefully not forever, but sometimes it is forever. Our mortal bodies fail us and we leave this life and go to another place. I’m a Christian, so I believe that Heaven and Hell are real. For the Brothers, it’s the Fade. But I think the pain is the same, knowing that you won’t see a beloved again in this life. And when one is dying, it’s facing one’s mortality, and the question of whether what you’ve believed that whole time was real or not.
My two cats (that I had for pretty much their whole, long lives) died this past fall, and it broke my heart to pieces. They were older and I should have been prepared. I work in animal medicine, and I lost my dad about ten years ago, so death is not new to me. But it still wrenched my soul to lose them. It’s funny what people say and don’t say to you when you lose someone. I had people say some things that were quite ugly even though they didn’t mean it that way, and that didn’t help my emotional healing. I also had people who ministered to me in my grief, and understood exactly how I felt. They can’t know how much they helped me, but I say a prayer of thanks that God put them in my path at the right time.
I think this book touched me because I saw one of the characters go on that journey. The stages of grief were so tangible to me because of my recent loss (and quite honestly, I also lost a church friend recently, so I was dealing with that as well). I could feel what it was like for this character and the pain of losing a person, but also the fact that they could not ever have regrets about having loved that person, for however short that time was. It’s real for me. I don’t know, but I’m thinking that Ward went through a loss recently, and she wrote this from her heart. I connected with that, and I can see why she didn’t change the ending to a “happy, joy, joy” one that would be expected.
Sometimes, that’s not the way life works. Sometimes, you lose people and you have to get out of bed the next day. You have to attend to the ceremonies that come along with the loss and keep one foot in front of the other until you can walk without falling. Sometimes you have to be strong so you can be strong for another person who needs that strength, and put your own needs aside. That was all so real to me, and very well-written.
Others may not like how that was done. I respect that. While it sucked that this person died, it was also valuable in the terms of the story. I can’t fault Ward for that decision. I’ve seen her make others in her stories that I was more angry about. I think she handled the situation with grace, even in the most ugly and emotionally wrenching parts. I think she knows that people are going to be angry with her, and she owns it. I respect her for that.
Speaking of things that made me angry, Xcor was a real tool in this book. I had started seeing more potential for him as a future hero in the past few books, but now I’m just annoyed at him and I question his value as a future love interest for a certain person. I really disliked what he did, for numerous reasons. Those who know my tastes can probably pinpoint why, and can understand why I wanted to bitchslap him. It’s not that I don’t understand his character or the whys but it was a jerk move. At some point you have to stop being a whiny baby and say no to the past and declare a better future. I hold out hope that he’ll get a clue, but he’ll need to get a cleansing deep inside and outside before everything will be okay with me.
I continue to like Layla’s character. She’s really growing as a three-dimensional character in her own right. I wasn’t happy about that storyline with Qhuinn at first, but now I’m okay with it. I think it’s an interesting dynamic, and I want to see where things lead with her and her ancillary relationship with Qhuinn and Blay. I just want her to have a Hellren who is worthy of her. She deserves it! I hope the male she’s in love with gets his head out of his rear end sometime soon.
One of the things I absolutely loved about this book was the relationship between iAm and Trez, and how things turned around, and the one who always made sacrifices got to be the one who was put first in a crucial way. iAm is a really classy guy, a worthy male, and while Trez did have some jerk moments in the past few books, I really liked him in this book and felt for him. He proves to be a very worthy male (although I don’t agree with his view of prostitution being okay as long as the women get the lion’s share of their earnings). Yes, they don’t consider themselves black or African American, but I liked that they do represent people of color in this book so well. I also found the s’Hisbe culture fascinating. In some ways, it’s not super well-defined, but it’s intriguing to me. An interesting compare and contrast to the Vampire and Sympath cultures. ‘s’Ex is some kind of dude. On the real! He has swagger like my beloved Rehvenge, and that is a very nice comparision from a reader who is stone cold in love with Rehv! I hope we see more of him. I like one of the new characters introduced very much, which I cannot reveal as a spoiler. Thumbs up for her. That was super-sweet too what happens with her and another character.
A few things I was indifferent about as well. I am indifferent about the Lesser storyline. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We’ll see what happens in the next book. I can’t make up my mind how I feel about Assail. I hate drug abuse/activity, so he’s got a major strike against him. At the same time, I do appreciate the pragmatism of his character. I think he truly is amoral, and he sticks true to that. I’m not sure if he’ll turn out to be an antihero or a full on villain. I have this sick appreciation for a good antihero, I freely admit.
I feel like the Band of Brothers storyline was underrepresented in this book, but I think Ward is saving it for the next book and chose to focus on other aspects. It will be interesting to see what happens between Xcor and Throe (and I’m glad that Wrath ain’t nobody’s fool when it comes to that situation). I wish she’d spent more time on the BoB instead of developing the new storyline with Paradise. I don’t hate her, but I can’t say I really care that much about her right now. Having said that, I’ll definitely be reading the spinoff series, even though I think it’s Ward’s bid for the New Adult niche (and I’m not interested in that genre).
So, yes, I think I could go on about this book, but I’ve already written such a long review. It won’t change anything. I’m pretty set on how I rated the book. I own it. I liked this book a whole lot. I enjoy Ward’s writing. I love the elegance of the old races she writes about, juxtaposed to the gritty modern world. I even like the thug slang and urban ways of the Brothers (as odd as some find it). I know a lot of folks hate that, but I feel that it’s characteristic of her writing, and I smile every year when I get to hang out with the Brothers and their ever-growing circle of acquaintances. I think that Ward really loves writing about these characters and that joy is infectious to me as a reader. I wish that some of my favorites were more front and center, but most of them had their day in the sun and it’s time to let someone else take the center focus. I will say it was nice to see more of Rhage and Mary in this book.
I guess I’m always going to enjoy Ward’s book for what they are. I don’t expect her to be a perfect writer. She has her quirks like any other artist, but I think she’s a darn good writer, and I love this world she’s created, even more with each book. I added The Shadows to my BDB hardcover shelf with a feeling of proprietary pride. Enough Said! ...more
Once again, Bill Willingham and company have created a fresh spin on a fairy tale. And he takes Rapunzel to a very adult and at times disturbing journOnce again, Bill Willingham and company have created a fresh spin on a fairy tale. And he takes Rapunzel to a very adult and at times disturbing journey to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Rapunzel has been looking for her children for many, many years. Even though she was forced to forget them, she never really does. That was a poignant note in this story. An interesting touch was that Rapunzel's hair grows continually, and she experiences very rapid growth spurts of her hair under strong emotion. You can guess how that plays into the story! Her companion is one of the Crow brothers, who is also her hairdresser. Her time in Japan opens the doorway to a story full of Japan's very imaginative, and in some ways very frightful folklore.
If you're like me and Japanese horror movies scare the you know what out of you, you might find this volume therapeutic. There is an interesting twist on the drowned maiden in the well. And I will never look at hairballs the same way again.
There are some dark elements in this one, probably the most out of all the Fables/Fairest volumes I've read, so reader beware. Having said that, I loved it just as much as the other ones. Rapunzel is both sympathetic and at times, really kind of scary. I've never thought much about her, so this volume definitely has me seeing her in a different light.
Only Matthew Reilly would write a book about a zoo full of dragons. I will admit I am a huge fan of his books. I take each one as it is and I usuallyOnly Matthew Reilly would write a book about a zoo full of dragons. I will admit I am a huge fan of his books. I take each one as it is and I usually come out a happy camper. In this case, I have to give him a thumbs up. Let's face it, Reilly either works for you or he doesn't. He unashamedly writes escapist fiction that makes the reader feel as though they are immersed in a summer blockbuster movie. And he does it well.
I wasn't a big fan of the "Jurassic Park" book. I didn't finish it because it felt like the characters only existed to be dinosaur food. I don't care much for 'sacrificial lamb' characters. However, I find it interesting that this is Reilly's favorite book of all time. Even though I liked the movie version more than the book, I'd have to thank Crichton for inspiring one of my favorite authors in that way. So for me, I don't mind that the idea of a dragon zoo was inspired by "Jurassic Park." With all due respect, I'll take dragons over dinosaurs any day of the week.
Clearly Reilly is aware that this book would be compared to Jurassic Park and he understood that fact. I think I can get into this book because while I am a fantasist, I love the idea of real, live dragons. However, Reilly takes the fantasy version of dragons and gives it a very real, very gritty spin. I like that Reilly put so much thought into bring dragons into a millennial setting in a believable way. Many of the reasons it's a bad idea to have a dinosaur park are evident in why it was a bad idea to have a dragon zoo, but maybe even worse. Dragons don't mix well with humanity. Especially Reilly's dragons. The creators of the zoo believe that have concocted a fool-proof plan with their zoo that will supplant China over the United States as the arbiter of cultural consciousness. However, they neglected to consider that while dragons are animals, they are fiercely intelligent, and are the ultimate of predators. Frankly, I think people who believe all animals are stupid aren't paying enough attention to the natural world and clearly do not have pets. Humans like to think of themselves as the ultimate of predators, but in nature, when the odds are evened, we aren't. Even a microbe can wipe the floor with humans, case in point.
Reilly is in his high action, high gore mode, and I know I'd be covering my eyes if this was a movie. Reading the book had many wince-worthy moments, but also the awe of majestic dragons. While I didn't want the dragons to be eating people, I felt wowed by the fact that they were real and they did a lot of what dragons do. Like our intrepid heroine, CJ, I felt like the whole thing had BAD IDEA!! Written on it in huge block letters. Even with the ingenious plan the zoo creators had to keep the dragons in the zoo, I had a feeling that they dragons would find a way around it, yet their strategizing gave me a huge feeling of awe.
I think books should stand for themselves and authors shouldn't have to defend themselves for what they've written outside of the book. But at the same time, I find it very interesting to see what the thought process behind their writing is. I enjoyed reading Mr. Reilly's Q&A at the end of the book and I can see that he put a lot of hard work into writing this book. His goal is to make a book that is easy to read and enjoyable, and that's evident. At times, when I wondered why he phrased things a certain way, it made sense when I read the Q&A and saw that this was why he did it.
I loved CJ as the lead character. She is a buttkicking character and what makes it cool is that she is a woman. She proved very clearly that an action lead doesn't have to be male to own a story or to save the day. But anyone who has ever seen "Aliens" or "Alias" knows what I'm talking about. I like that CJ was the type who observed and assimilated information and acted on that information in a logical way instead of losing her cool. But at the same time, she's not just an academic. She knows how to go into action and it saves her life and others around her many times in this book. Her backstory really informs who she is a person and makes it clear that she's in the right place at the right time.
I liked the other characters, especially Hamish (CJ's brother) and Greg. But the scene-stealer is Lucky. I was a bit jealous of CJ, except for the flying parts. Not for me, that. Oh, I just adored Lucky!
I think Reilly brought it big time with this book. I'd give it 4.5 stars because I had a couple of quibbles. I won't go deep into those because they are spoilers, but I wish the ending was slightly different. I see why Reilly ended things the way he did, but part of me was still sad about that.
I am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy taleI am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy tales and especially clever retellings. Each volume ups the ante on the grim aspect of fairy tales. Each book seems less appropriate for a younger audience. I'm torn on that. Mr. Gidwitz is obviously a teacher, and he understands the young minds he writes for. I mean, he has to in order to teach them. I'm going to trust that he knows what they can handle, but my personal limit would be 12 or older for these books. There is way too much dark violence and subject matter for kiddos younger than twelve, to my thinking. Also, the cruelty of adults against children in this book is highly disturbing.
I also think this is the saddest out of the series. Wow, the things that our young protagonists are faced with really tore at my heart. And how the cruelty and neglect they experienced warped something inside of them. Gidwitz deals with the psychology of abused/neglected children in a poignant way without getting too soapboxy.
There are some great life lessons here. Family, loyalty, honor, integrity, kindness, and making moral decisions. These kids have to raise themselves and that leads to some issues when they are faced with adult moral decisions. Along the way they make mistakes and have to learn from them and 'face the music.'
This book breaks the 4th wall in a way that the other ones in the series did not. At first, I really didn't like that about the book, but then I saw how integral it was to the story. It was also good because Gidwitz doesn't follow the predictable pattern I expected.
Johnny Heller truly is an awesome narrator. If he didn't win an award for narrating this series, then he was cheated. He deserves it. He was all in, and you would have to wonder how he didn't get emotionally affected by this book as he read. Not just in horror or sadness, but in hilarity, because this book involves all those emotions.
I am biased. I love fairy tales a lot. Yet, I think that increases my standards for fairy tale retellings. Gidwitz is a writer who clearly loves fairy tales just as much as I do, if not more. He respects the genre, and it clearly is a huge creative influence on him in crafting these marvelous books that add very much to the cultural relevance of fairy tales.
If you have not checked these out and you like fairy tales, what are you waiting for?...more
Another really good book in this series. I always get sucked into these books, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I am a huge fan of Sister AnAnother really good book in this series. I always get sucked into these books, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I am a huge fan of Sister Anselm. She's a whippersnapper! This story got my ire going for sure.