Hi, my name is Jacqueline, I'm a bibliophile, and I'm in love with this book.
This thing kicks ass. And, I don't mean in the "let's-create-comedic-commHi, my name is Jacqueline, I'm a bibliophile, and I'm in love with this book.
This thing kicks ass. And, I don't mean in the "let's-create-comedic-commentary-for-the-sake-of-an-amusing-hyperbolic-review" kind of kick-assery. I mean legitimate, I-glommed-this-mofo-in-one-day level of quality. So, what's this puppy about? Okay, quick run down; The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lie, a historical romantic mystery set in China during the Tang Dynasty which follows Yue-ying, a scarred indentured servant working in a Courtesan pleasure house, and Bai Huang, a privileged aristocratic playboy, both of whom are set by circumstances to solve a Who-Done-It murder mystery. And subsequent awesomeness ensues.
First off, let me just put it out there that while I do have some issues regarding the story (we'll get to those a minute), I have to say it; The Lotus Palace is basically the literary equivalent of the TARDIS. I shit you not, from Chapter One this sucker takes you out of your Modern Day Bore-ville and transplantes your ass to ancient China. The textures of the writing are hardcore realistic. So much effort is put to the smallest details in the setting, from Chinese social class structure to the character's attire to dietary rituals, making your brain feel immersed in awesome culture all without becoming boring or textbook-ish.
That said, while I'm fangirling over this thing like a Belieber at her first Justin concert, there are a few figurative landmines sprinkled in the recipe of this novel. "The characters, perchance?" you might be thinking. Nope. In fact, I am completely on board with the ideology that says Huang and Yue-ying are IRL people. While Yue-ying does seem to be given more character development, with Huang kind of feels pushed to the back-burner, I'm okay with this criticism. For the most part, The Lotus Palace is largely told from our heroine's point of view. So such favored attention makes sense. Both characters are still likeable, believable, and interesting.
"The plot?" you could be pondering. Nope-nope. The external conflicts of this piece of fiction, while obviously serving as the Forced Proximity Vehicle by which our two leads are granted interaction, it works. The mystery is believable because just enough focus is directed its way without feeling like a Scooby Doo special. What's more, it paves the way for allowing the book's secondary characters to feel fully realized and dynamic.
"Screw you, Jacquie, I'm done playing your guessing games!" you're now thinking. Okay! Here it is; the big ol' answer to What The Hell Is My Problem is basically the romance between hero and heroine. Yeah, okay, so that was a lot of hyperbolic expository buildup for not a lot of payoff; sue me. As is, while I was in copious love with the initial sexual tension and relationship dynamic between Huang and Yue-ying during the first arc of their story, it kind of died a quiet death from the second to third act. I really can't explain what happened, either; which is not helpful, I know. The two had really rockin' chemistry in the first several chapters, but after the story got rolling it's like their relationship was simultaneously rushed and ignored. What's worse, along with getting fewer relationship development scenes the more the story progressed, I also really struggled buying them as couple-material.
AND THIS FACT KILLS MY SOUL! Why the text-screaming? Because the quality of this story was frackin' phenomenal! The writing was amazing, the pacing was amazing-er, and the characters were the book-people equivalent of chocolate+orgasms+free money; basically all the things that make life awesome. Sadly, our two leads just felt stale, especially when considering their relationship culminates at the end of the book in a pretty unbelievable way. Without activating the Spoiler Bomb, I will say that while I straight up demand an HEA in my romances, I want my Happily Ever Afters to not feel as fake as Pamela Anderson's chest. Even more of a bummer, the ending of The Lotus Palace does give me my couple being a couple, but it does so in a very rushed, unsatisfactory delivery.
Still! Aside from all my bitchy bemoaning, I still gotta give high fives to the author of this little gem. Jeannie Lin kept me hooked throughout my reading experience with this book. I did genuinely care about the characters, and my attention was all wrapped up in the story like a puppy with a ball made of bacon. Yes, I do wish more time had been spent on Huang and Yue-ting's relationship, and yes, while I seriously regret this author's use of time-fast-forwarding in the book, I still stick by my recommendation. Ms. Lin, your book was awesome. Please, give me more!
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 wanna what I love? Bad-ass heroines who rock capability and personal agency like it's a Def Leppard farewell tour. You know what I really, reallyYou wanna what I love? Bad-ass heroines who rock capability and personal agency like it's a Def Leppard farewell tour. You know what I really, really love? Independent and confident female characters that save their own damn selves when stuck in a hopeless situation all while maintaining personal identity. You know what I love more than all that; said supposedly anachronistic heroine in an historical romance.
Artemis Greaves is my favorite non-person person, not the least of which is because life has screwed her blue, and yet she survives. This character is well written, fascinating, interesting, bold, and does things in Duke of Midnight that make me stand up and hug her on a perpetual basis. Her counterpart, Maximus? Not so much.
This novel rocks it with character development and an elegantly simplistic plot...but kind of sucks mammalian testicles when it comes to hero-tastic awesomeness. Maximus is believable, yep, and he's got legit internal conflicts, double-yep, but he's kind of one dimensional. He's sort of just there, believably so indeed, but unquestionably more of the supporting actor to Artemis' lead. Who knows what the frickity-frack reason for this is, really? Maybe it's the seemingly surplus of scenes told from our heroine's POV? Maybe it's the plot which, while heavily focused on Maxi-boy, doesn't really seem all that prominent in the final analysis. Maybe it's Maybelline?
Yeah, okay, so that was admittedly a bit pretentious sounding, and so vague it probably gave you a headache, BUT! Such brain-vomit is relevant because while our hero is second to our heroine, he's still viably written. We see him feel his feels and make an impact on the story and do all sorts of other awesome stuff. Oh! Speaking of the story...
(...you like that segway? I worked on it all week.) You remember back in the good old days of two paragraphs ago, when I said the plot was elegantly simplistic? Well, it was, but more to the point, and largely the only reason why this novel doesn't get a Woot-Woot 5 Star ranking...but honestly the entire St. Giles subplot could have been completely removed from the book with little to no real consequence. After altering the hero's internal conflict only just a smidgen, the whole big swashbuckling-meets-vengeful-hero-of-the-night not only felt a bit forced and random in the dynamic of the plot, but it was boring.
There's a whole giant subplot about our hero's family and St. Giles and a bunch of other stuff that my brain just kind of went "Doooooooooon't caaaaaaare" every time the book jumped back to That Topic. Luckily these scenes weren't all that frequent, but they were there and thus, yeah, not a fan. Still! As somewhat weird as that subplot felt, the romance in this romance novel kicked all of the ass!...Well, mostly. At the end of the day, I totally bought the Artemis+Maximus ship, and I'm glad it sailed because dat heat doe!
These two had chemistry that sparked all of the smexy, and they believably needed one another, both in and out of bed. But (and that's a big damn) but I felt by their This Is Our Culmination End-Of-The-Book Scene that...well...how to put this lightly?...Basically their love story felt rushed. It went from, "Let's resist! Now let's bang! NOW let's avoid each other for a hot minute! NOW LET'S LOVE DAMMIT!"
Which is good and all, but by that point I was just like, "Yay" instead of "OH MY GOD YES YOU TWO ADORABLE BASTARDS...YESSSSS!" which is actually the reaction I prefer.
Not sure what the hell all that means, but hey I like the book and I loved the heroine and I loved me some of that romance.
So! Screw my above bitching, and read this thing dammit! READ IT NOW BECAUSE I'M SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS, OKAY?!
You know that feeling when you grab a gallon of ice cream, wolf the thing down in one sitting with the initial thought that, "This is a GENIUS freakin
You know that feeling when you grab a gallon of ice cream, wolf the thing down in one sitting with the initial thought that, "This is a GENIUS freakin' plan!" and then later when your stomach's trying to bitch-slap your brain you realize you're an idiot, but you still regret nothing? Well, surprise surprise, that's an analogy for my experience with The Autumn Bride. I read the first three chapters on day one of starting the thing, waited four days to come back to it, and then proceeded to glom the bastard in one sitting. AND I REGRET NOTHING, DAMMIT!
...No regrets, but definite consequences. At the end of the day, this book was likable; not great, not terrible. Character wise, it's fair to say our author kicked lots of ass in this department; just not necessarily with our two leads. Abby was an enjoyable enough little lady, and our hero was smexy fascination as per usual for a hero. But, the surrounding cast? So much better, especially since Abby and Max, while nice enough are admittedly and completely forgettable. The novel held entertaining sexual tension and the plot's conflict, while VERY thin, was seriously in line with the "I As A Reader Am Curious As To How This Crap's Gonna Play Out" way of book drama. The writing was strong, for you did believe in the validity of Abby and Max as people, just, um, they weren't...well they didn't...oh fine, dammit, their romance sucked!
"Girl, what you smokin' to proclaim this novel is likable if the conflict was minimal, the characters merely okay, and the romance be shittastic?" I know. Logic isn't my strong suit, but bare with me for a hot minute. At the end of the day, this book's biggest problem lies in the fact that the conflict resolution, one which centered on the romance of our leads, was hella rushed; like a hooker's makeup, rushed. Up until the climax and conclusion of the novel the story predominately focused on a will-they/won't-they theme, with the emotional and sexual tension being All Of The High. When we finally get the, "D'aww, lovey feels" at the literal end, it falls ass-first flat. The tension made the book read awesomely quick, but such was a disaster in the final analysis as a romance because it's glaringly apparent Hero and Heroine know jack squat about one another.
"Seriously, WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS NOVEL?!" I know, I know, nonexistent review reader, I'm guano. So, the book's other greatest strength is how enjoyable the exchanges are between Abby and Max, which is also it's greatest weakness because not much else attention is paid to different elements. Issues such as the emotion building, or internal POV exploration of the characters' growing sentiments for one another, are just not a thing with this story. One minute, they're all "I shouldn't want her/him," the next they're "LET ME HAVE/MAKE YOUR BABY!"
Which, at the end of the day, is why this novel is theme-park fun. Yes, the two lead characters are kind of forgettable two milliseconds after finishing the epilogue, but the supporting cast are rich with diversity and interesting characters. Yes, the plot's conflict is painfully thin and almost irrelevant, but the low angst provides for a refreshing book pallet cleanser. Yes, the hero seems to spontaneously decide he's in love with Abby, and vice versa, but we all sometimes love the Jane Austen-ing of a romance story. And, lastly, yes, the book started too slow and ended too hurriedly, but much like that aforementioned gallon of ice cream, it might not sit well upon rumination and completion, but damned if it wasn't enjoyable on the way down.
So, read it, you might enjoy it; don't read it, and you're not missing out. Either way, it's a book, and it was nice, and hell I might even explore other Anne Gracie titles, who knows?
But, one thing IS a certainty, and that is I now want ice cream, dammit.
Courtney Milan has written the very definition of the perfect-effing-novel. Seriously. When it comes to romance, and God kn
Yeah. It's just like that.
Courtney Milan has written the very definition of the perfect-effing-novel. Seriously. When it comes to romance, and God knows I've read enough, there are so many authors who know how to suck-it so bad. Cliches become transparent, characters are a joke, and the plot is a dead squirrel hidden in the anus of Hitler. So not so for The Duchess War! As is, I'm currently holy-effing-wow-amazingly-awesome-I-CAN'T-BELIEVE-HOW-MUCH-THIS-BOOK-ROCKS! (And, yes, the exclamation marks were needed.)
First and foremost, this book is just geniusly well constructed. Most novels' writing, romance or otherwise, come off as being a men-in-tights scenario; you think it's okay initially, but after a while, you kind of want to just barf. Milan knows her business. Her structure of sentences, her pacing, her detail and description, it's all perfectly perfect perfection! Additionally, her historical writing is phenomenal, with believable detail that's just perpetual enough to allow for total immersion in setting, but not so much that I want to off-myself with the nearest Soup Spoon. The Duchess War is not a book, it's a time-travel machine; I visited Victorian Leicester England.
Speaking of Leicester England...I want to bang a Beta, right now. Okay, okay, so those two thoughts weren't exactly cohesive, but holy-crap-on-crap, Milan has entirely redefined the definition of "Romance Hero." Robert (think Downton Abbey's Lord Crawley, but even hotter, if that's physically possible) is absolutely the most respectable, most considerate, most thoughtful fictional dude I've ever read. (By the by, Robert's a virgin, and lemme just say this virgin made some HOT-HOT-HOT monkey-lovin' scenes!) And, yes, he's tortured. Hey, you Alpha-A-Holes, think you've got a monopoly on tortured? Pfft. Incidentally, Mr. Alpha-Ass...
...Think again, because Ms. Milan proved conclusively that a character can be created who's not Mr. Rapey-Rape Man, who struggles with the idea of love, and who doesn't turn into a walking douche box. I'm angry at you, Alpha-A-Hole, because you dominate a market on romance novels and you shouldn't, because Robert pwns you, almost in the same way Minnie pwns romance heroines. Incidentally you romance heroines, I'm tired of you being all "I've got problems," when in actuality you just come off as being redonkerous. I don't believe you. I do, however, believe Minnie. Oh, sure, she does some things I don't like, but I BELIEVE her crappy acts. I buy her as a person, fleshed out and whole. Minnie is absolutely someone I can see talking to IRL, someone to take out for a drink just for the hell of it.
You know that moment when your Kindle reaches out and grabs your face, yanking it through the screen like your gravity's bitch? Well, the plot's kind of just like that, except even more so. Throughout the entire reading of The Duchess War, I was so drawn in by the story that I forgot I was, in fact, reading a frakkin' story. On the one hand, it's an external conflict narrative, and on the other, it's internally driven. I don't even recall the diminutive details because hot-diggity, reality ditched my consciousness, entirely.
The Duchess War also deals with a some pretty heavy non-love-story elements, as well. Social class, working conditions for the poor, the role of government in the lives of its citizens; who said romance novels weren't "smart reading?!" This novel goes to some pretty dark places, both within the elements of the book, as well as the lead characters. There are moments when I just want to reach out and bear-hug both Robert, and Minnie. Each character has some pretty hardcore excrement from their pasts to deal with, and both do so with such believable emotion that the reader can't help but get entrenched in their emotional state. The plot aids this along at times, as well as the character's internal dialogues. Put simply, there are times I want to repeatedly slam my head in the refrigerator door because EMOTION! I do NOT cry, dammit, okay? I don't effing cry! (<--Lies.)
Wait, wait, wait, WAIT?! Are you telling me that I just read a hella grand novel, and the author actually THANKS HER READERS (capitalization necessary, yes) in the Acknowledgments? And, she also takes time to go into some of the historical points she addresses within the context of her book?
Yeaaah. My heart totally had a happy as a result of the above. So, in summary? This novel totally made me have Good Book Noise, and it's gonna be stuck in my brain's Fiction Reply data bank for quite some time. Dammit, I need more Courtney Milan, otherwise I'm going to asphyxiate for no logical reason!
This book is a great big ball of NOPE. Seriously, literally, and honestly, I'm a tad baffled at the utter oh-humanity-why failings
Pages Survived: 290
This book is a great big ball of NOPE. Seriously, literally, and honestly, I'm a tad baffled at the utter oh-humanity-why failings Maya Rodale achieved in the entirety of A Tale Of Two Lovers. And, I can say, with absolute certainty, confidence, and "Bitch, I ain't lying!" this book was a bomb-face; when one is only 80 pages away from completing a book, and it's a Wall Banger, you can trust that it sucks.
So, here's the low-down; there's this chick, there's this dude, shenanigans and misunderstandings pop out all over themselves, they get married...and some other crap happens. That, in one very specific nutshell, is the entirety of the frakkin' plot. Abso-friggin-lutely, I'm not lying. I'm roughly sixty seven percent sure Rodale did zip-zap-zero outlining with this story, because if she had then she'd have quickly realized there is truly no driving element to the novel. Instead, Julianna and What's His Face are constantly thrown together like atoms in a large Hadron Collider, and stuff "subsequently" ensues.
If abhorrently terrible scene progression with no story drive isn't enough to prompt immediate throat-slitting via dead-tree-book paper cuts, then surely to Yoda's chin-hair the unbelievably dry-dead-dead-dead characters must be, they must! Julianna literally has zero personality, while So Unimpressive Hero I Can't Even Recall His Name-guy barely registered as sawdust. While I found Julianna to be weak as a character (her motivations are told, not shown, she has zero focus on other life activities outside her article, and she comes off as raw Salmon even in the presence of her supposed close friends!) in comparison to the Hero Dude, she's practically Heidi Fleiss or Mother Teresa. Male Lead never once demonstrates identity, personality, or even effing character expression!
*Breathes* Okay, sorry for that rant; I know it was painful. Alas, I digress; let's recap. No plot, bad characters...what else we got? Well, those issues are Mommy and Daddy, with their offspring quickly being bored, boredom, Boredom City, boring, and kill-me-now bore! The book's pacing moves like a decapitated snail recovering from an Opium addiction, but that's not even the worst part, oh no! The bad story progression, lackluster characters, and absent plot, I could handle...if the romance was hot. Alas, ladies and ladies...here exists a romance novel with no romance!
No, no, you read that correctly, rest assured; A Tale of Two Lovers should be retitled to A Meandering Collection Of Words With No Lovers. Julianna and Him were the most painfully awkward, painfully painful couple I've ever read about, and that's saying something since I'm a card-carrying Edward-Bella hater. Stalin and Hitler had a more passionate love-nest reality than these two leads. I never once felt a spark of intimacy, a suggestion of interest, even a flare of "Hey, you with the face!" Julianna and her dude had no chemistry whatsoever of which to speak, and what supposed fire they did have, I wasn't buying. When Male Hero was all, "Hey, I love her!" by page 200-something, I was done; they knew virtually nothing about each other, and thus his realization was rushed, and without reason. I had to physically restrain myself from punching the words on page.
Oh, don't mind me. Just, you know, sitting here, basking in the brilliance of one of the most exciting roller coasters of fiction I have ever read. Ev
Oh, don't mind me. Just, you know, sitting here, basking in the brilliance of one of the most exciting roller coasters of fiction I have ever read. Ever. Hyperbole might admittedly be my thing, but let's lock that bitch right up and never refer to it as anything but copious truth. The facts are these:
1. Kristen Callihan will one day be a national treasure. 2. Moonglow is one of the most adventurously entertaining stories you will ever read. 3. You will feel All Of The Feels throughout the course of this novel. 4. Orginality is NOT dead; it's name is Moonglow.
Dear wondrous bacon, where does one even begin?! I mean, logically it's first with the characters, who deserve a damned review all on their own reality of "These People That Aren't People Be Kick Ass." Aside form all the necessary adjectives (likable, believable, interesting, etc.), Daisy and Ian are so much more than simple description. If Einstein, Kant, Kipling, and Sherlock Holmes were given a decade and an endless supply of cocaine, even they couldn't convey to you the earth-shattering, level-this-sucker-to-the-ground depth and complexity embodied by our two leads. Their evolution as whole-bodied characters reveals itself layer by layer, each chapter in the book pealing back more interest and emotional agency to their existence as people. Am I in love with Daisy and Ian? Well.
Truly it's not my fault, for obviously there's a national conspiracy at hand that has genetically engineered the perfect construction of plot with excellent writing quality. Callihan delves into a paranormal world that feels such a part of the fabric of reality within its fictional setting. The historical elements mesh perfectly with the other worldly-ones, which are fundamentally unique in their own right. Yes, we've read about werewolves, but not these lycans. Yes, we've seen be-gifted heroines with powers over the elements, but not with this backstory. Yes we've seen the animated dead, but not with that steampunk Grim Reaper twist.
You really don't; not til you read the book. (Seriously, hon; read this thing.) I mean, in this single novel we've got smokin' hot romance that is emotionally fueled by the most heartbreaking needs-some-lovin' hero and heroine, a Who Done It mystery, a monster on the loose, one hella screwy love triangle that is an acid trip into Feelville, a bloody half-century family feud even Dr. Phil wouldn't touch, all topped off with some of the most NO-WAY plot twists that would leave Steven King salivating. And, if all that wasn't enough to make you want to devour this book NOW, DAMMIT, then at the very least ignore that huge run-on sentence, for my sake. Additionally, know that you're crazy.
*Dodges the hate.* Okay, so aside from my being a douche-nozzle, I will admit that if the book contained a single flaw, it would have to be that a LOT is going on in this story. Such is a good thing, in that it makes for some hella-damn interesting story telling...but not such a good thing for crowding out room for more emotion-building between Daisy and Ian. While it would have been nice to see just an itsy-bitsy bit more of these two constructing their emotional connection, the specific plot points that occur do believably allow Daisy and Ian to short-hand their way to the lovey-dovey sentiments. Confused?
(view spoiler)[Basically Ian gets his flesh literally eviscerated (facial muscles mutilated, bloody chunky inside bits falling out...yeah) all to ensure Daisy's well being. Daisy's trust in Ian's humanity sparks a bond that supersedes the need for copious love-growing exposition. So, yeah. If that's not enough to excuse the lack of an extra heaping spoonful of emotion-cresting-telling, then may Alan Rickman help you. (hide spoiler)]
The non-spoilery answer is that Kristen Callihan is a goddess, and you should worship on her alter of awesome writing skills, dammit! She creates spectacular spectacularness and you effing -NEED- this in your life for your own well being! Moonglow's entire cast of characters are all equally well written and they're just waiting to be your friend, and you want to know the future of your friends don't you? DON'T YOU?!
Read this book. Now.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So this book kicked hella amounts of ass. We've got Steampunk, Paranormal, Alternative History, Science Fiction, and Mystery all crammed together intoSo this book kicked hella amounts of ass. We've got Steampunk, Paranormal, Alternative History, Science Fiction, and Mystery all crammed together into one big smacking pule of awesomeness.
Seriously, people. Very rarely do non-standard adventure romances pull me into a story, because mostly, and sadly, they bore me. Often I'll get very bored, very quickly, with romance-ish books; either make it a romance, or make it something else is my mentality. However, I gotta say, Gail Carriager is just a phenomenally damn good writer.
The characters were, in a word, sublime. Outside of just a likable, realistically relatable leading woman, Alexia, we have an interesting hero, Lord Maccon, who functions, initially, more as a secondary protagonist. Added to that is the rather fascinating Lord Lycon, the irrestiably compelling Lord Akeldama, and the craptastic mother and half-sisters to Alexia. Every character that arrived on-page, from the predominate individuals of the story, to the supposedly disposable antagonists and background characters had presence in this book. Every single one of them felt believable, realistic, and lifelike. Holy crap on a cracker, did they ever!
The plotting of this book took a little while to attain momentum, but I'm more of the mindset this slow build was done with intent, better to acquaint the readers with the cast, and Alexia, specifically. Despite that, once the ball got rolling, I was hooked. Even though the reading time for this novel was a bit longer than my standard, I was still amazingly engaged with the plot. I find it interesting how the actual events of the story line are paced within the context of the book. Some might say "rushed," and while I can see that argument, I think it felt more realistic as a result.
While it may seem redundant, I have to admit I was astonishingly impressed with the quality of writing this book contained within. Gail Carriger mastered the art of picturesque detail, when appropriate. The scenes were painted in fine consideration, when necessary, and left to the readers imagination when not. The dialogue, likewise, was snappy when appropriate, informative when needed, and always fluid and relevant. The pacing of the book, as a whole, was almost geniusly constructed, so much so that I doubt there is one single purposeless scene in the book.
Very rarely do I proclaim that a book can have everything a reader could ever want within, but Soulless unquestionably proved me wrong. This book could entertain just about any literate person on the planet, I believe. I am absolutely going to be seeing to the rest of the series, and I only pray the subsequent books carry the same amount of entertainment quality as Soulless....more
Sadly, despite being an alt pick for September's Vaginal Fantasy, this book was an Epic Fail in every context of the word. IronicallPages Survived: 83
Sadly, despite being an alt pick for September's Vaginal Fantasy, this book was an Epic Fail in every context of the word. Ironically, it's fail-ness was more upfront and not entirely a shocker, but still a disappointment so big, it hurt my face.
Most people know from jump that a shifter romance story with a dinosaur as the hero lead probably isn't going to hold up well as a realistically "good" piece of fiction. Truthfully, this isn't my biggest problem with Eternal Pleasure. I can handle off-the-wall weirdness, and odd-ball book realities. I can handle a novel that doesn't take itself too seriously (even though this one so did, and shouldn't have.) I like humor, and drama. I don't, however, like paper-thin characters.
The worst element to this book is, unquestionably, the lack of reader connectivity available with the two leads. Granted, while my sorry-ass only lasted 83 pages, I still maintain that good characters can jump at you within the first sentence of a book, or at least make headway into said jumping within that time-frame. Kelly and Ty were so not-on-page for me that I literally felt like I was slugging through words, and THAT does not for a good book make.
But! What's worse than paper-thin characters? Plot. Specifically, when there's SO much plot that it pushes out any room for character personality, development, or interaction. I don't mind a busy story with lots happening, but when I'm 80 something pages into a book and feel like I literally only met Character A and Character B two paragraphs ago, I'm done.
Add those two negatives with the fact that Bangs' book is abhorrently weak in the world building department, even considering my early stopping point, along with the illogical "Hi, Character X, who are...oh, wait, where you going?" writing device was used, and my brain practically spun into a tizzy. Characters were coming out of Santa's ass and MacArthur's pipe with little to no relevance, introduction, or presence. Something about werewolves, and good vampires. Or, bad vampires? Or ghost dinos? I don't know.
I guess, fundamentally, my issue is the fact that the book had the makings of a parody-style lite PNR, but took itself in so-not-that-light that I was just done. So, in conclusion? This one's a big honkin' no-go for me, thanks....more
This book had me terrified, because the opening praise for Perfect Chemistry utilized a quote by Chasing Heroes, comparing this book to Twilight, in aThis book had me terrified, because the opening praise for Perfect Chemistry utilized a quote by Chasing Heroes, comparing this book to Twilight, in a positive light. Thank GOD they were wrong!
I never thought I’d say these words; I read a YA first person, and I liked it!
Ironically, neither statement is in and of itself unusual, since there exist modifiers to each. Firstly, I’ve read Young Adult one other time (Sherrilyn Kenyon’s CON series). However, this is the very first time I’ve read a YA that was independent of my favorite author. Additionally, I’m still adamant in my hatred of a strict first person novel. Thank the literary gods that Perfect Chemistry was written in split-first person. Not only was this my first experience with reading first person, and enjoying it, but likewise it was my first experience with split FP.
This book, frankly, blew my ever lovin’ mind. One of my biggest problems with YA is the fact that, from what I’ve witnessed, experienced, and heard, most come off as being mediocre drama. At best they seem to be the literary equivalent of reality television, and at worst they’re hum-drum with one dimensional everything. This was so, so not the case for Perfect Chemistry. Here is a book that encapsulates the very definition of quality.
One of my favorite aspects to this novel is the realistic emotion, and genuine humanism evident in the characters, as well as their reactions to life. From hearsay, I’ve always understood most YAs to utilize not just one dimensional characters, but clichés and caricatures as their protagonists. Elkeles does an amazing job of taking two, very easily written-off high school stereotypes, the Rich Good Girl and the Bad Boy, and turning them completely on their heads. Both Brittney and Alex were multifaceted with believable motivations and realistic dynamics. To say that I liked these two characters, their faults and qualities included, would be a massive understatement.
In the arena of characters, I too must say that Elkeles hit a field goal, slam-dunk, goalie, and any other potential sports metaphor, in regards to the emotion that was brought on-page. Almost from the opening sequence I knew that I was delving into a world that would be unique in its own right. I did not, however, expect said uniqueness to translate into heart wrenching emotion and real-world consequences and wonderful storytelling. Hot damn if I wasn’t pleasantly, surprisingly shocked to find out otherwise.
The plot of Perfect Chemistry was unique, too. This is not to say that the storyline within said novel hasn’t been done before; it has, most assuredly. Rather, the fact the hero and heroine were so lifelike, so well written allowed me to forget I was reading a tried-and-true story type. So engrossed was I to the events, actions, and thoughts of Brittney and Alex that I transcended that fine line between story and reader. I was Brittney, I was Alex. This could be attributed to the split first-person aspect of the novel, but I insist it results from the sheer excellence Elkeles maintained in her writing.
I think, truly, what made this book so amazing was the fact that, while obviously never forgetting its reality as a romance, the story wasn’t afraid to venture off into different realities and real-world issues. Social class, poverty, affluence, stigmas, peer pressure, betrayal, violence, body image, drug use, identity crises, abuse, sex, the pressure to succeed, disabilities, culture, isolation, love, disillusionment, misunderstanding, education, prejudice, friendship, death, judgment, guilt, respect, fear…the list of topics dealt and addressed by this novel is seemingly endless. And yet, despite all the subjects noted, holding the pieces together are just two characters, and their perspectives. Of all the aspects that I love in regards to this book, and there are many, the one that still awes me is Elkeles bravery in going to places few YA authors do, and yet still manage to maintain humor and occasional levity when appropriate.
Another wonderful element to this book comes its pacing, as well as its climax and subsequent conclusion. Throughout the entire story, at no point did I ever think, “Okay, already, c’mon with it.” Every plot point succeeded in bringing about the next plot point, every scene was relevant and substantial to the characters, or the story. And, if that weren’t enough, the climax was intensely dramatic, and yet believable considering the subject matter.
Incidentally, I must give Elkeles excellent props, for despite briefly using the “high school girl lost her guy” trope, this was done in a realistic, and then admirable way, predominately following with the “get on with your life” message. While I’m a romance novel addict, I despise the “everything’s over for me without him” sentiment so popular nowadays. Lastly, the epilogue! How on EARTH could I read that wonderfully concise ending, and not leave the story with that wonderful Happy Book Feeling? To say I will be continuing with this author’s work is a statement of the obvious!...more