Two things first: I hate this cover. Despite that, I really enjoyed the story.
I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and there's something about the...moreTwo things first: I hate this cover. Despite that, I really enjoyed the story.
I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and there's something about the woman on this cover that really turns me off. To the point where, despite having waited patiently for this book to become available on my library queue, when it came in, it took the book actually being due for me to stop ignoring it in the pile on my floor and actually read the damn thing, and once I did that, I read it in one day. So, there you go. Just one more example of why you should really never judge a book by it's (quite awful) cover.
If you have not been introduced to the Parasol Protectorate series yet, it is a delightful mix of Queen Victoria-era London and it's surrounding countryside, with occasional forays into other parts of Europe; the supernatural, paranormal, and preternatural worlds; steampunkery in terms of machinery and accessories, though the clothing is more typically Victorian; and lots and lots of tea drinking.
I've been a bit wishy-washy on whether I was fully in support of this series or not. There's always something that I don't really like in these books, making me feel vaguely irritated while reading them, and yet they suck me in with the quality of writing and the unexpected plot elements and the most ridiculous situations the characters get themselves into and the descriptions of Victorian life. Dammit.
Luckily, book 4 was much better, in my estimation, than book 3 (I don't like marital tension, and there was a lot less of that in this book), though it was a close call because I almost stopped reading after the first 3 pages. That's how disappointing I found the first plot point. BUT, as the book went on, it was woven in, in such a delicate and thoughtful way, that soon I was on board and interested to see where things would go next.
Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, is eight months pregnant. Despite feeling the size of a fully-inflated dirigible, she tries not to let that slow her down as she investigates a new plot to kill the queen. Delving into the history of the last assassination attempt on the queen means diving into the history of how and why her husband Conall came to London from Scotland, a circumstance that no one is happy to remember as it involves betrayal and poison and a mad werewolf Alpha. After some sleuthing and deducing, Alexia realizes she's actually on the trail of two mysteries, just in time to alert the queen who's actually in danger (and it's not the queen you first think it is), save Genevieve's son, relocate a hive, relocate the werewolves, and give birth to the most beautiful and astonishing little creature ("creature" because I don't want to ruin the surprise). The whole cast of characters is present including a surprise visit from Alexia's sister, Felicity, who may or may not have joined the women's suffrage movement; Ivy and her hats who get sent off to Scotland for reconnaissance (there's a true friend!); Genevieve and her tinkering (octopuses come back into play); Lord Akeldama and his dandy drones; and of course, the Woolsey werewolves.
I enjoyed this book the most since the first novel, and am very much looking forward to book #5 in the Parasol Protectorate series, Timeless, out in March 2012. I warn you, though, I think I will continue not to like the covers.(less)
Didn't finish this one either, and I'll tell you why. This was the first time I've picked up a Melissa Marr novel. I knew she was a YA author, she is/...moreDidn't finish this one either, and I'll tell you why. This was the first time I've picked up a Melissa Marr novel. I knew she was a YA author, she is/was very popular, and I sold her well as a children's bookseller. I was curious about the premise, it appeared suitably creepy for an end-of-October read, and a lot of blogs were buzzing about it. But here's my problem with it, and why at over 100 pages into it, I stopped reading:
I'm supposed to be reading about adults, but they are FILLED with the angst of teens. This would be much better served as an intended YA book, meaning the main characters should still BE teenagers, not these adults who have lived around the country and are still so emotionally unsure, insecure, and somehow damaged even though the people who love them most have been protecting them their whole lives. It just wasn't believable to me that the two main characters wouldn't be more mature, have asked more questions of the rest of the townspeople who clearly knew more than they did, and wouldn't have grown into themselves as people just a little bit more. Also, I thought the spacing and timing of the writing was just off. For instance, someone hands Rebekkah a letter, but instead of taking the reader there right away, we have to wait an entire chapter for Rebekkah to read it and then when she does, it's completely anticlimactic.
That's what I felt reading most of the chapters, as far as I got - anti-climax at every turn. The suspense wasn't there because the author kept dragging it out in a way that made it lessen, not increase.
Ultimately, I was disappointed and I'm sorry to say, did not continue reading it.(less)
Gwen Frost's mother died 6 months ago, on the same day Gwen fully realized her Gypsy Gift. Both her mother and her grandmother have Gypsy magic; Gwen'...moreGwen Frost's mother died 6 months ago, on the same day Gwen fully realized her Gypsy Gift. Both her mother and her grandmother have Gypsy magic; Gwen's Gift is psychometry magic - the ability to see people's thoughts, memories, and actions by touching an object. She can see every person who has ever touched that object, feel their emotions, almost read their minds. After an incident in Gwen's public high school involving a hairbrush and a child molester indirectly leads to Gwen's mother's death, Gwen is sent to Mythos Academy, the special private school where boys and girls with powers go to learn how to use them.
Not just any kids go to Mythos Academy. These are the descendents of mythological figures: Amazons, Spartans, Titans, Greek Gods & Goddesses, and Gwen - the Gypsy. Gwen feels like even more of an outsider at this new school, where she's not good at fighting, doesn't care about learning history/mythology, and only wants to read her comic books and sneak off-campus back to her grandmother's house. When a murder in the library leaves one student dead and Gwen unconscious, Gwen finally wakes up to the fact that all this mythology might be as real as the teachers and other students say it is. Disturbed by the fact that none of the other students seem fazed by the death of the most popular girl in school, Gwen decides to investigate the murder herself.
Throughout the course of her investigation, Gwen will engage in some breaking-and-entering, reluctantly make or make a reluctant new friend, and keep running into (literally) Logan Quinn, the best Spartan fighter with a killer ladies' man reputation in the school. By the end of book one in this new YA series, Gwen will have solved the mystery of the murder, learned more about her Gypsy gift, inherited an ancient weapon, been honored by the gods, and will almost have started dating Logan Quinn.
This was a promising beginning to a new series, though honestly, I believe it could have used some tighter editing. Readers of Estep's adult Elemental Assassin series will recognize the same snarky sense of humor and addiction to describing food that Gin Blanco exhibits, but unfortunately I don't think it works as well on Gwen Frost. The descriptions of food are, frankly, pedestrian and add nothing to the story. Gwen isn't like Gin; she doesn't own a restaurant or cook to relieve stress. So why the emphasis on the creamy cream cheese frosting? In addition, Gwen is so disturbingly like Bella Swan (sorry for this obvious comparison) with her "I'm so average and a loner but actually want friends" persona, that her snarky attitude actually seems at odds with her self-description and loner behavior. The "poor me, why do the teachers think I'm special, I just have this one power that isn't very helpful" attitude is not only grating but doesn't seem to reflect her confident speaking voice or her initiative-taking actions in certain scenes.
Luckily, the "poor me, why me" phase seems to get beaten out of her by the end of book one, where she manages to avoid getting killed long enough for Logan to save the day and for neither one of them to get any credit for it. She's supposed to be receiving fighting lessons from Logan, her assigned personal trainer, and as long as he pulls the stick out of his butt and starts explaining why he's running so hot and cold about his feelings for Gwen, I'm sure all will be well there. I'm looking forward to following this saga in book 2, because despite the loose writing, the story is compelling.(less)