Seriously. Shut up and know all ye THIS BOOK IS FUCKING FAN-DAMN-TASTIC!
Well, so, yes, I might have just secured my one way ticket to the pillowed
Seriously. Shut up and know all ye THIS BOOK IS FUCKING FAN-DAMN-TASTIC!
Well, so, yes, I might have just secured my one way ticket to the pillowed-wall room complete with self-hugging jackets for that crazy-sauce outburst, but it was so worth being committed over. Alas, lock me away Johnny, for I have recently come to the sad conclusion that books are not healthy for you. In fact, they're a bit dangerous to your well being, and unquestionably no-good for your sanity. Books like No Good Duke Goes Unpunished make it very, VERY difficultimpossible emotionally traumatizing to separate fiction from reality. Why? Well!
When a book kicks much ass, you want that thing to be real, dammit. And, let's face it, we're all secretly convinced that Temple and Mara are walking-talking people. Those two characters are the epitome of a huge honkin' bowl of Awesome sprinkled with a sugary goodness pile of Emotional Agency. Yes, yes, our characters are believable, they're likable, they're strong; they're all of that. But, far, *far* more importantly, their back-stories, their personal identities, AND their personal growth, both independently as well as a couple over the course of novel, brings these two fictional peeps into a hot, zesty fiesta of damned good reading.
Oh, and that's not even broaching the topic of the plot! This story is just damned good; all of it. DAMNED GOOD I SAY! The conflict is nuanced and layered, operating as an external crisis driven by internal emotional pain. The progressing of plot points is so well executed in sensical construction that even the most ADHD spasmodic, "Oh-Look-Something-Shiny!" reading attention span would remain hooked throughout every friggin' chapter. The smexy smokin' sensual chemistry (yay for alliterations!) that sparks in every scene between our hero and heroine is, in my obnoxiously unimportant opinion, serious justification for making this Book-Crack-level worthy.
Not good enough for ya to be convinced to read this glorious collection of words? Well, fine! Then how about a story chock full of piss-your-pants-roller-coaster-ing emotional hits within the plot? Temple's Mr. Angsty-Angst man from Angstville level of mistakenly misplaced self-hate? Or Mara's I'm-Apparently-The-Most-Bravely-Bad-Ass, Most-Independently-Self-Reliant-Vagina-Owner moniker holder in Romance Land? Still not convinced? FINE! Throw in some amaze-balls beautimous writing, some burn-this-mother-down hot sex scenes, AND majestic perpetual plot momentum! Because, ya know, as great effing books do. SO HOW? ABOUT? NOW?!
I really do.
Post Review Postscript:
Dear Sarah MacLean: You're birthed in win, and your DNA is basically the equivalent of diamonds dipped in liquid gold. This has long been acceptable scientific truth for you, for your books up until No Good Duke Goes Unpunished have proven as much. Here I must put it to you, though, that you are a mastery of awesomeness. That itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny way you just SHOCKED THE EVER LOVIN' CRAP-LOVE out of your readership with those last two lines of the epilogue about a CERTAIN surprise you've been harboring over the course of three novels? Well. You are officially Queen of Romance. Here's your well deserved fist bump, good woman.
You know that moment after finishing a book, when your brain zig-zags like an in-play Ping Pong ball because you can't figure out how you feel about w
You know that moment after finishing a book, when your brain zig-zags like an in-play Ping Pong ball because you can't figure out how you feel about what you have just read? Well, welcome to my world. Firstly, let me put this out there, because I feel like if I don't I'm sacrificing virgins on the alter, or something equally heinous; A Rogue By Any Other Name is worth reading. It is, put simply, a good book. Despite my following complaining screed, it's fun to read. But...
...There are some problems.
The synopsis is pretty in-your-face-like-whoa simplistic; boy wants revenge, girl harbors means for revenge, annnnnd...marriage. While there is obviously a bit more to the structure of the story, that oversimplification is the meat-and-taters of the thing. As far as plot goes, there isn't too terribly much happening in the background lives of Penelope and Michael. This is sad, because I think if there were other motivating elements to the story, the thing would have bazooka-ed on up as a better read. As is, we've got Penny and Bourne circling each other in a very off-beat dance of "What's Going On With The Two Of Us, Yo?"
As far as characters are concerned, I'm thinking Penelope was a lot more fleshed out as a person than Lord Bourne (or Michael, he's a tad crazy-sauce Bipolar with his name for some inexplicable yet obvious reason.) The nature of the story grants us a significant amount of time inside Penny's head at the onset of every chapter, which is good like a sunny day at the beach, and bad like the subsequent sunburn. I, personally, believed her motivations, her actions and goals within the book, I just didn't like 'em. Too often, I felt like screaming...
...In the singular form, of course. Essentially, Penelope took so long to develop her backbone to Michael that I grew more irritated with her than I did with the hero's occasional Ass Hat #3 moves. It was such a relief towards the end of the story when she began showing some spirited spunk for herself, but by that point, I felt it was too late for me to truly appreciate her attitude. The above sunny day/sunburn analogy comes into play here, for the doorway, the one in which we're granted access to this chick's identity, is solely streamlined through letters to a dude (Michael) who's ignored her for years. Add that to the fact that she's all Mrs. Droopy-Eyed Pup about her new hubbie, and I wanted to just, well...
Michael gets the same treatment, too, of course, but to a lesser extent. Yeah, yeah, that's probably sexist, but at least his motivations came from a bit more believable context. However! Despite the bad character aspects, and the occasionally forced plot-points that just didn't flow well, the story read surprisingly well! From my review I'm sure it seems otherwise, but, since I have no problem DNF-ing a book in a split second if the thing becomes unreadable, that's not the case. A Rogue By Any Other Name reads well, predominately because of the fact that, despite having occasionally shit-tastic character motivations, Sarah MacLean makes you care about Penelope and Michael, as well making you wish for their HEA.
But, that in and of itself is the problem. You like Michael, you like Penelope, but rather quickly upon seeing them finally find one another emotionally, the two are easily forgotten. If anything, this book is prime sequel-bait, because if for no other reason it's hooked me like a Diabetic to a chocolate fountain; I want Pippa and Cross' book! The final scene of this novel makes you go uber-gushy; I admit it. I mean, c'mon, a nerdy girl in Victorian England paired with a tall intellectual ginger? Yeah. I'm all over that.
Sometimes they're epic, sometimes they're shittastic, and other times they fly around like a YoYo in a Bounce House. In the case of Mi
Books are weird.
Sometimes they're epic, sometimes they're shittastic, and other times they fly around like a YoYo in a Bounce House. In the case of Milan's book, Unveiled, said novel falls way-the-hell into the latter category. Before I dive into my I'm-Gonna-Rant-And-Then-Shut-Up review, know with absolute certainty that this book kicked SO much ass! Yep, I liked it, I loved it, and I spazzed in wanting so much more of it, truly. But! Upon the start of the book, and definitely within the first one hundred pages I was all...well...
...Yeah. Kind of like that, except more, "I don't know where the hell this book is going!" as apposed to the general, "Dude, what the serious seriousness?!" Any book can struggle at the onset, but Milan's novel, for some inexplicable reason, came off like a drunk hobo making the switch from boxed wine to Vodka; a good plan, but not without some stumbles and issues. Ironically, my yes-but-no interest in the first half of the novel didn't stem from the lack of interestingly dynamic characters; me LOVE some of them characters! Rather, the story just jump-starts with a BANG into the meat of the book without any real buildup. Throughout the first few pages, I was just searching for a foothold or some story line clarity, like bad.
Unveiled didn't seem to be a Happy-Happy-Star-Ranking kind of deal, at first, since the heroine and I...well, we didn't get along too well in the beginning. She jumped from page one seeming like the Eternal Ass-Snob, and while I know it's illogical to say one can't enjoy a story if the lead characters aren't likable (I KNOW, okay?!), I still maintain that it's a prerequisite for my judgmental ass. Margaret felt like Queen Bitch for no other reason than the fact that the reader is denied personal time with her before the book leaps off, so here I was thinking, "Yep! I'm gonna hate her!"
Yep! I sucked on that assumption! One of the most damn-woman-you're-good! aspects of Courtney Milan is that she pwns the ability to create fascinatingly dimensional characters that are layered in complexity. This is obviously true for Margaret, who was a unique mix of strength and weakness, confidence and self-consciousness, and pretty much every other polarizing identifier. Likewise, such is, can, and should be said for Ash, the hero who embodied probably one of the most interesting male roles I've ever read in quite a while. His weaknesses gave him a strength that made him simultaneously multifaceted, and fun to read.
Interestingly enough, while the above is true for the two leads of the book, the entire cast of characters contained a lot of the cool conflicting character traits, too. The brothers, each set belonging to both the hero and heroine, were the antithesis to "set pieces," were damned-yes vital to the plot, and granted so much more to the reading of this story than I can possibly articulate. The fact that the entire novel felt realistic in its character creations, even down to the inconsequential secondary and tertiary cast, shows Milan's got some mad writing skills to her credit.
(Not to Milan, apparently!)
Lastly, the final thing that just blows me out of the water is Courtney's ability to create an exceptionally complex plot that is entirely, completely, OH MY GOD ALL THE WAY dependent on emotionally driven conflict. And, yes, she even manages to do so without once making the novel come off too weak, as though there was no plot in existence whatsoever, or without bogging the whole ship down with Angsty Drama Bullshit. When considering how well the story sails along, all the while making me FEEL for Margaret's loyalty struggle, making me FEEL for Ash's feelings of inadequacy, hell, making me FEEL for their emotional story as a whole...I just...I can't even!
Incidentally, if you're an author who can write THIS for your lead character, how the hell is it possible to not just fan-girl over the book, like lots?!
"Because if you were suggesting that you would sacrifice your sister's reputation to serve your own purposes, think again. If you do, I won't just steal your title and your lands. I will run any bank that holds your funds into the ground. I will bribe your servants to slip nettles into your bed. I will hire trumpets to stand outside your home every evening, where they will sound notes at irregular intervals. You will never have a solid night's sleep again."
You know those crazy-ass novel plot pitches, the ones that sound like someone was huffing a seriously epic-amount of Elmer's glue to have come up with
You know those crazy-ass novel plot pitches, the ones that sound like someone was huffing a seriously epic-amount of Elmer's glue to have come up with THAT idea? Those stories typically had some crazy element, like one of the characters is a dead-like ghost-zombie throughout the entire novel; crazy bad, right? Well, I'd have thought that right along with you, dude or dudette, and we'd have both been wrong. Crazy, yes, but bad? Nah, not always!
C'mon, reviewer reader, I would never-not-ever lie to you...And neither would this review. Put simply, I'm a bit blown away by how much I literally-like-whoa enjoyed this novel. The premise of the story alone was a sink-or-swim reality, and when all's considered, the writing of the book actually held up pretty well...for the most part. As far as a technical standpoint, The Ghost and The Goth stood up all in all decently. The pacing of the story was excellently well done with negative zero lag time, and the two main characters are believably real, but...
...While more enjoyable than a bowl of calorie free tasty ice cream, this book contains some seriously serious issues. While the novel is well constructed, with excellent build up/pay off scenes that drive the plot, at times this focus of pacing and plot definitely come as a sacrifice to quality character development. Yeah, yeah, I know, a lot of fancy-schmancy critique there, but basically the novel blasts along with the plot being a demanding bitch, doing all the driving while never once giving the keys to the characters for some off-roading exploration.
(That GIF is apropos for more than one reason, there!) Put simply, Alona and Will, while believable characters with their own solid identities don't get much more character exposition than "Here's cliche One, cliche Two, and cliche Three," along with a character description. This is a pretty ouch-inducing criticism, especially considering, um, hello? THIS NOVEL IS WRITTEN IN FIRST PERSON! Okay, sorry...*attempting to reign in book-nerd-rage.* Overall, if I had one heavy Bitch-Just-No! complaint, the above would definitely be it. However, while I will give the novel some latitude because, after all, it is a part of an on-going series, I'm still a wee bit disappointed.
And, on that note? The secondary characters! Now, yes, yes, yes and yes...I get that in deep split first person POV, the supporting cast typically get shafted in the "Hey, I'm a real boy!" department. But, even still, most authors can do a tad bit better than playing the cliched "I'm the evil principal" character, "I'm the cliched worried mom" character, "I'm the neglectful parent" character, and so on. Not, alas, for Stacey Kade. Considering the issue with the aforementioned lead characters' lacking development, not to mention their pigeon holed character types, it seems writing cliched characters is kind of Ms. Kade's modus operandi.
And, yet, in spite of all the bitching and moaning I've been doing... I still like this book! Surprising, right? Well, for starters the uniqueness of both the plot, and specifically the characters, truly helps. While Alona is the stereotypical cheerleader preppy chick, and Will is the stereotypical goth dude, such works geniusly well for the book because their identities are given excellent framing and the motivations for their personalities are stronger than just "I like the color black," or "I love pompoms!" While their setup is cliched, their delivery is not; thus the lead characters are cliched, but believably cliched!
I did, Violet; I did! And, reader, I recommend you doing the same! This book is crack, it's not good for you, and it certainly won't improve anything other than your Happy Brain Place, but indulge, just this once. I did, and will probably do so again!
I am typically very selective in choosing whether or not a book is interesting enough for me to attePages survived: 99
The reading gods have cursed me.
I am typically very selective in choosing whether or not a book is interesting enough for me to attempt. As such, I rarely have did-not-finish books sitting around on my bookshelf. But, apparently that's not the case for this month. The last two books I've chosen to read have been wallbangers...including this one.
More often than not, the reason I never finish a novel deals with the characters. Specifically, my hatred of how said characters were written, or just their overall personalities. Not so for Here Is My Heart. It is of my not so humble opinion that the title for this story should have read Here Is My God Awful Written Dialogue.
It's a very rare thing to read a book wherein the characters are extremely fascinating, but every sentence which erupts from their mouth is as nails on a chalkboard. Put simply, the dialogue sucked. Every time two characters engaged in speech together, I thought I was going to hurl from the unreality of it. Aside from just very cheesy exchanges, what was more difficult to swallow were the frequent spoken monologues the cast of characters would randomly state when alone. I don't particularly find the idea of a character speaking to themselves weird. Idiosyncratic, perhaps, but still believable. Instead,what was so painful was the fact that when such characters would engage in this activity, the way certain reflections were phrased was as stilted and awkward as a preteen's first date.
It's odd, but one could almost swear there were two entirely different authors creating this book; one writing the dialogue, and one writing everything else. Spoken word is such an integral part of the world we live in, and even more so for the fictional word. When words and statements don't ring true, it can be so jarring that we literally loose sight or admiration, or even like, of a characters. So, sadly, while having an amazing story dynamic, I just couldn't stomach another moment in this book's world....more
So, at forty pages into this novel, I was already start to lean towards the idea that such was heading straight towards Suckage CityPages survived: 40
So, at forty pages into this novel, I was already start to lean towards the idea that such was heading straight towards Suckage City. The brief introduction we, the reader, is given of the hero was so stiff, jaunty, and disconnected that I immediately didn’t care about who he was, or his back-story. However, I bided my time, for I firmly believe more than one novel's aspect has to suck in order for me to cease reading so PDQ. Well, then the letter exchange starts happening. And. I. Was. Bored!
That’s bored with a capital B, honestly. The exchange, even considering hero's masquerade with the heroine, was so one-sided of dialogue investment that it was almost purely a heroine introduction. Which, you know, makes sense, considering that at 40 pages in, the reader has still yet to get face-time with said female. But, by 40 pages of epistolary exchange, I was convinced I didn't even want to meet this woman. So full of happy-happy joy-joys was this chick that I thought I would stroke out into a diabetic sugar-induced coma; it was that bad. So, boring hero? Check. Irritating heroine? Check. Dry, stilted writing? Check. A DNF, perchance? I didn't know. I'm often a fence-sitter, what can I say?
So, I Googled for some reviews (Goodreads was sans any in depth ones, once more), and apparently, I was dead-on about this book's crappiness. Apparently the heroine (I honestly can’t recall this chick’s name, nor do I even care to check, so apathetic am/was I) has no character evolution or dynamic what-so-ever. Her entire on-page presence, as the reviews tell me, consists of Hi-I’m-Happiness-And-Fake-But-Real-Smiles-All-Day-Long-ness. Add that to the fact that my original premise, the plot being El Boreo, holds true, and this book turns into a total bomb for me. I don’t mind character-driven plots that are entirely internal, but if this story-telling device is going to be utilized, c’mon, peeps, you KNOW the author must follow through with some awesome characters.
I realize that a reader's absolutely character adoration can’t be established within just forty pages. I’m cool with that. I can’t, however, be cool with heroines that are irritating paired with heroes that literally had me all droopy-eyes with sleepiness. As always, there are too many other potentially good books waiting for me to waste time on the possibility that this novel -might- improve. So...This book = fail.
PS: Lastly, can anyone PLEASE tell me why the name of the hamlet/county/city/town where the heroine lived always had to be edited out? ‘Cause, really, c’mon, ____shire was as irritating as the female lead chick....more