That Thing At the Zoo is a good size dark urban fantasy prequel novella introducing a character whose physical appearance I can picture perfectly. Rar...moreThat Thing At the Zoo is a good size dark urban fantasy prequel novella introducing a character whose physical appearance I can picture perfectly. Rarely can I say that, I'm mostly left with a vague overall impression but Mr. Deacon Chalke is a man that cannot and will not be ignored. He's an intimidating 6'4 and 300 pounds. Think WWE star with no hair and lots of tattoos. This guy looks like he could cause trouble and with a classic muscle car complete with a 4-corpse trunk full of weapons, he's equipped to deal with it. Reminds me of a certain beloved Impala belonging to a pair of monster-hunting brothers on TV. Loved that show.
Bottom line: Deacon Chalk, occult bounty hunter, is a total badass. He could kick Harry Dresden's butt easy-peasy. And that brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.
You may actively avoid meeting Deacon on the street or a dark alley but he's not the thug his appearance advertises him to be. He's a man still reeling from, and is haunted by, personal trauma. Monsters murdered his family and now he hunts those dangerous to humans. He's not the "tough guy" cliché often expressed in movies where the hero ultimately gets over his tragic loss by kicking some lame villain's butt then settles down with a waitress he just happened to encounter along the way, completely trivialising the effect his past had on him. No, Deacon has full-on flashback panic attacks he tries desperately to stifle and hopes no one notices his distant, pained silences as he experiences a post-traumatic stress episode. These lapses in concentration aren't professional and are downright inconvenient when hunting deadly nasties but he has no control over when they occur. You feel for his anguish, knowing that if he wasn't a Catholic he would rejoin his family in death.
The side character I'm most eager to get to know is the priest:
I don't know what his life was before becoming a Catholic priest, but he can shoot like a sniper and knife fight like a convict. He has my back anytime I need it, whether that means tending bar at Polecats [strip club] or two steps behind me, shotgun in hand.
The writing style is reminiscent of pre-controversy Anita Blake. Gory and gritty. Visceral. No one is safe from being ripped apart and carelessly tossed aside without dignity.
Although it's obvious this has been written by a debut author, I've found something I've been missing from UF of late: a real sense of darkness without the distracting focus on angst-ridden romance (is it really necessary every...single...book?). There's nothing but the characters, plot and the danger around the next corner to occupy the reader -what a relief. My only real negative is the lack of contractions i.e. can't, won't, etc. which in my opinion, slow the pace and jar the reader out of the story. I'm also surprised Deacon so readily disfigured his tattoos to get some blood to "chum the waters" so to speak. I thought tattoos were treasured permanent works of art but it was emergency so I'll let it go.
When it comes to non-full-length prequels authors aren't usually interested in making a concerted effort to give readers an accurate taste of what's to come, with a few exceptions like this. Next up, Blood and Bullets.
Favourite Quotes 'Rednecks are part of the South, and even when they don't look like much, they usually turn out to be tough as leather and full of skills that save your ass.'
"What the fuck are you doing?" "Putting this thing in the back of my pants like they do on the TV."
'I found Dr. Critter trying to hold off the [spoiler removed] with a bullwhip and an office chair.'
***My thanks to the author for the ebook in return for an honest review.***(less)
From the ghost's perspective Charley was far more likeable than in First Grave on the Right. Reyes seems to have more dialogue in this story than in t...moreFrom the ghost's perspective Charley was far more likeable than in First Grave on the Right. Reyes seems to have more dialogue in this story than in the novel though his appearance was intrusive and unnecessary until the very end.(less)
I'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe B...moreI'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe Black angle I was curious to know if it would end the same way. It didn't. Actually, it took an unexpected yet not unwelcome turn that may not be liked by the masses.
Abbey is excellently portrayed. Her predicament: the ever-present crushing guilt over her mother's death, the growing distance between her and her father, and her misplaced obsession with Nate (the jock who has an obsession of his own with mountain climbing) resulting from her inability to deal with her guilt, wallowing in it instead of moving on with her life. So she imagines this fictitious romantic relationship with him to help her deal with reality. It comforts her. Yes, it's sort of creepy. She was one step away from becoming a full-on stalker but I understood her crush and empathised.
Her only company was her best friend Tanner but she hadn't revealed much about her mother's death and how she felt about it to him. He had his own hang-ups. He'd also been in a tragic accident but he hadn't been so lucky; he was paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. I enjoyed reading Tanner's POV, witnessing how he was treated by others, how his relationships had suffered and the difference in how Abbey treats him. Without pity. She understands how it is for him without even asking.
'Being loners might have drawn us together out of necessity, but it was our friendship that had made us strong enough to come out the other side.'
The story is all about Abbey's transition. Realising that she's tired of being unhappy, of pretending, lying and hiding. She wants to live. It's a great message and I liked the method in which it was conveyed, reminiscent of Riders of the Apocalypse. Love, and the selfish versus the altruistic needs, wants and decisions we make based on that love were also expertly demonstrated. FYI, love's a bitch.
"Dealing with guilt and grief doesn't leave much room for anything else. I know about that dark stuff, but one day if you're really lucky, you get tired of feeling bad all the time. It's like a curtain opens and light comes in. First, it's only a sliver. Then more."
However, it's not all smooth sailing. Besides being slow I really struggled to remain interested whenever we joined Nate's dangerous climb up the mountain. Since seeing Cliffhanger as a child I never even contemplated doing something so unnecessarily hazardous. Rescue teams must love those guys. Anyway, when the Angel of Death does his Joe Black thing to Nate I cringed at his interactions with Abbey. Perhaps it was realistic given her crush but the way she sort of accepted not-Nate's behaviour was uncomfortable to read. I wanted her to push harder when she called him on it, which would've sped up proceedings.
Death had been dealt a bum hand, poor guy. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. As powerful as he was he couldn't control everything and he wasn't perfect. He made mistakes. The mythology surrounding Death was intriguing. He's sort of a swallower of souls, holding them inside him for safe-keeping until the day he's the last one to die. But each soul changes him, for better or worse and this is what prompts him to make contact with Abbey. The ravens were a nice touch -suitably eerie.
As for the romance, well this is tricky. How much to say? There are three potential boyfriends, I guess. One from Abbey's past, her present and future. And the most obvious is not the guy Abbey chooses, and I'm glad of this. Some might not be pleased but just this one aspect makes On a Dark Wing unique, for multiple reasons. The resolution at end was well done. I can definitely see people reacting in that manner to such an extraordinary situation although the lead-up to the climax was a little ludicrous.
Would I recommend this to anyone? Well, I didn't hate this book and I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I might warn them it's slow but I'd encourage them to read to the end because I think the effort just might be worth it.
***Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with this ebook.***(less)
Whether you believe climate change is man-made or not is immaterial, the point is it exists inside this book....moreDark Life, The Little Mermaid in reverse.
Whether you believe climate change is man-made or not is immaterial, the point is it exists inside this book. Anyway, uniquely set “Under the Sea” in a starkly plausible dystopian future with a plot which delves deeper into this unsettling world. Unfortunately, I could’ve done without the tacked-on romance.
Fish out of water, young Ariel Gemma meets Prince Eric Ty on her mission to find and join her long lost elder brother after they were separated in an orphanage years ago and is rumoured to be working in an underwater settlement. As a Topsider (a land resident) she’s blindly stumbling about unaware of the dangers of travelling alone. Ty becomes her guide as a lifelong subsea resident and as the only teenager in the still growing marine community he’s eager to spend time with someone his own age by showing her around his world.
We learn Earth is in a warm stage; icecaps have melted, sea levels have risen and large swathes of low-lying land are underwater. Space is limited. Privacy is a luxury no one can afford until the advent of Liquigen bringing with it the ability to breathe underwater and withstand the pressure, and the development of underwater settlements which farm much needed food for those left on land.
One problem, the prejudiced attitudes towards those who’ve chosen this new lifestyle. Rumours abound about what living down there does to you. People believe prolonged submergence will lead to the development of abnormal abilities and have labelled people with them Dark Life, though no one has actually owned up to having these powers. On top of this, pirates are plaguing supply vessels to and from land putting underwater residents on edge.
The world-building is amazing. The exotic fish, the fear of sharks, the inventive underwater architecture, bubble fences etc. It’s wonderfully imaginative.
I have one bone to pick with Dark Life and it revolves around the topics of gender and romance.
“Ty collected all of it himself.” ~ page 66
The protagonist is male? This gender reveal isn’t intentional. It plays no part in the plot. I had no idea. I assumed Ty was female and we were in for a rare treat. Two girls join up for a death-defying adventure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ty was originally female and the author was instructed to change that and make him “Kiss the Girl” in order to make this baby more marketable.
Ty didn’t feel male. His interaction with Gemma didn’t say male-female relationship. Some effort was made later to masculinise Ty but I didn’t fully believe it. Ty’s physical description beyond “I sparkle” (don’t worry there’s a perfectly legitimate reason for it -eating lots of luminescent fish) is also lacking.
These “Poor Unfortunate Souls” should not be forced together. They had little chemistry. I didn't like it. They were friends, we didn't need more.
So, terrific worldbuilding, not the best conspiracy plot but it successfully drew us further into this intriguing future scenario. Thin characters. Beyond her mission there isn’t much to Gemma other than her fascination with and envy of Ty’s life compared to her cramped packed-like-sardines love-deprived existence on land. Ty is more fleshed out as a collector of the artifacts he finds, with hopes and dreams.
If Liquigen is invented...Indian Ocean here I come! Warm waters for me. Not Atlantic or Pacific –positively arctic in comparison. Although I am a bit claustrophobic. Hmm. I'll give this series another shot, hoping the characters are better developed with the excellent world-building out of the way.(less)
This is my third free shorty by Sylvia Day and I'm coming to believe I am a fan. Although not one of her best I still enjoyed this no humans involved...moreThis is my third free shorty by Sylvia Day and I'm coming to believe I am a fan. Although not one of her best I still enjoyed this no humans involved erotica with plenty of humour. (less)
At 90% off this was a bargain I couldn't refuse after checking out a sample. Excellent detailed and insightful professional advice from an actual recr...moreAt 90% off this was a bargain I couldn't refuse after checking out a sample. Excellent detailed and insightful professional advice from an actual recruiter with plenty of whats, whens, hows and whys as well as dos and don'ts. It covers not just CVs but the whole job hunting process including application forms, interviews, networking, references etc. and what to do when you successfully gain employment. Almost every potential situation crops up in this book, supplying many reasons and solutions for any problem. Well worth the pennies I spent on it. Highly recommended.(less)
Wonderfully informative. I'm impressed with the detail in this. The maps are large enough to show the names of even the smallest village.
The book is...moreWonderfully informative. I'm impressed with the detail in this. The maps are large enough to show the names of even the smallest village.
The book is separated by country then county with photos, vital statistics and and information on towns and cities of note. There's also info on climate, population, economic activity, the transport system, tourism and energy production, plus a 30+ page index.(less)
Very informative. Includes information on the solar system, populations, the structure of Earth, aerial and satellite photos, historical maps, country...moreVery informative. Includes information on the solar system, populations, the structure of Earth, aerial and satellite photos, historical maps, country flags and vital statistics, city maps etc. A good all round atlas.
However, I would've liked more detailed maps of the countries outside of Europe, more specifically North America and Asia. China and India are the most populated countries on Earth and yet there aren't enough maps covering them to even give justice to show how densely populated they are.
(2011 reprint with changes of 11th edition printed in 2009)(less)
Firefly with a paranormal twist. Better than Break Out, Deadly Pursuit continues from where BO we left off.
Al, the small teenage boy, turns out to be...moreFirefly with a paranormal twist. Better than Break Out, Deadly Pursuit continues from where BO we left off.
Al, the small teenage boy, turns out to be Alexia High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting Life, the 24 year old woman. Suffocating from boredom and lack of control over her high profile life she escapes, disguises herself as a boy and ends up on the spaceship El Cazador.
Both the Collective (people who've taken the expensive immortality treatment Meridian) and now the Church (believe in immortality of the soul which goes to heaven when they physically die) are chasing the crew for the recapture of Jon the werewolf assassin and the return of the High Priestess.
Despite her deception, the crew immediately defend Alexia. She's one of them and they're not going to hand her over if she doesn't want to go. Jon, on the other hand, is wanted for an unknown reason, pointing to a conspiracy so they're not giving him up after they were hired to risk their lives breaking him out of prison until they get some answers.
Alexia is instantly attracted to Jon. Unfortunately her disguise worked only too well, looking like a scruffy child. Her innocence is compounded by the fact that she's a virgin who's lived a sheltered life, and Jon doesn't do virgins. He's a rough, tough, manly 6ft 4 werewolf to her doll-like 5ft 1. He'd break her. But she knew what she wanted and was determined to experience as much of life as could before she was forced to return to her duty so the predator became the prey. Poor man, he had no chance. At least he has a new pack now i.e. the crew and a buddy in Rico despite him being a vampire.
Similarities to Firefly (Rico is Mal with fangs and a lust for blood) and the introduction of shapeshifters, my favourite supernaturals, meant I quite liked this. However, I'm slightly uncomfortable with how Alexia, seconds after being almost raped and killed on two occasions, jumped her mate-to-be's bones. That struck me as wrong since she was beaten and manhandled. I doubt I'd feel up to it if I was in her shoes.
Tannis is next to be matched up with her crush Callum Meridian, the man who first took the immortality treatment and has been transformed by it. They're hired as his bodyguards in the next book.
***Many thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing the ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.***(less)
Not at all what I was expecting after the numerous 5 star reviews from the most discerning critics.
My UK cover:
Pretty unremarkable, right?
The US cove...moreNot at all what I was expecting after the numerous 5 star reviews from the most discerning critics.
My UK cover:
Pretty unremarkable, right?
The US cover:
Striking, wouldn't you say?
The US cover plus the 5 star ratings and general popularity spurred me on to grab this from the library. I'm very pleased I didn't pay for it. The UK cover advertised it perfectly i.e. not worth your time and cold hard cash, especially at hardcover prices.
Those loving reviews whispered in my ear to keep going, to not put it down because there's precious awesomeness to be had, until they were over-ridden by the knowledge that if my hands lowered at any moment I'd never raise them with this book open again.
The slow dry start, the excessively wordy prose, the change from kickass, bohemian, independent heroine raised by "monsters" to typical teenage starcrossed insta-love, and characters I couldn't connect with -made this difficult to read, let alone love.
I was confused by the change in Karou. I liked her better when she was artsy but jaded by her failed naive romance, running errands collecting the mysterious teeth for her Chimera family who raised her from a baby. How could she fall in love with someone who tried to kill her and not be wary of his beauty when the last beautiful man to enter her life broke her heart?
And then the twist. The memories were a flood of information filling in all of the gaps and answering questions one after another but by this point I was skimming to freedom, occasionally slowing to look for the golden nuggets others had obviously found in spades. This part was interesting, I'll admit, but it was like the book contained different stories that didn't quite come together as one tale.
We have: -- Karou's double life as the art student and the teeth trader who knows how to wield a knife. -- The inexplicable insta-love for the angel who tried to kill Karou. -- The recovery of memory. -- The repercussions of today's events in light of that memory.
It's a mixed jumble that left me frustrated and confused. There are some good ideas but they didn't really get to shine. Much of the story is in the last hundred pages and then the book ends abruptly.
I don't understand the hype surrounding this one. Unremarkable.(less)
The best YA angel book I've read. Fully-fledged characters with no self-respect issues and solid, healthy relationships. No insta-love here, and no pl...moreThe best YA angel book I've read. Fully-fledged characters with no self-respect issues and solid, healthy relationships. No insta-love here, and no plot holes plus, there's a truly mysterious mystery...but I won't be reading the sequel.
Clara is one quarter angel who has just received her Purpose, the one thing she was born to do as an angel. Her vision of her Purpose implies she will be rescuing a boy from a forest fire. Small details show her he is somewhere in Wyoming so the whole family moves from California so she can fulfil her destiny. She finds the boy, Christian, is the most popular guy in school with a possessive girlfriend. Clara studies him to the point of obsession in order to understand the where, when and why she is to save him. She comes to believe she has quasi-romantic feelings for him until he manages to completely embarrass her at the school dance and sees Tucker, Clara's best friend's twin brother, step in to save the day.
Previously Tucker had acted like a child, calling Clara "Carrots" due to the shade of her dyed hair and picking on her. It isn't until a school break when all her friends, including Christian and her mother, leave town and she's alone on her 17th birthday when Wendy sends Tucker to be her present. He takes her on a nature tour over a number of days, always setting up another appointment to spend the day together. It's during this time they grow closer. Unfortunately, when they first kiss, her angel powers activate and his love turns to fear...I absolutely loved this aspect of the story. It's so well written I was right there experiencing the wilderness with them, wishing I could be doing the same activities. I was pleased to see Tucker and Clara gradually fall for each other. Tucker was a true gentleman cowboy with an easy smile and a loveable character. I was disappointed in Clara's mother's reaction though. Any mother would be happy for her daughter to be dating someone like him. And it's not like it was against the rules to date a human. All work and no play...
Clara's mother is a half-angel with secrets. She holds so much back to the point of putting her children in danger but as a mother she's loving and caring and fully involved in their lives, always knowing how and what they're doing. I do wonder what her Purpose is/was and whether it has something to do with her children. On the other hand, Clara has a long-distance, almost non-existent relationship with her human father who sends guilt presents.
Jeffrey, Clara's younger brother, is practically an open book at first, struggling to balance his need to compete in sports, wanting to be the best but also needing to hold back to ensure he's not accused of cheating. He feels like a fraud. At some point I believe he receives his Purpose but tells no one, he becomes pensive and broody. I'm assuming his Purpose isn't a particularly "good" deed.
I liked these angels and the concept of White Wings (the good) and Black Wings (the bad, who don't fulfil their Purpose and are unable to love). However, I found it strange there were so many angels in one small town, albeit a tourist one. Angela came across as not just intense but I kept expecting her to turn on Clara because she's so enthusiastically helpful when it came to anything angel-related.
My only problem I have with this book is the serious implication that the reason Clara must save Christian is because they are meant to be together, romantically-speaking. I abhor love triangles. I hate them, I do. In this case, it really makes me mad because the love Clara has for Tucker, and vice-versa, is genuine. I fell for Tucker right along with Clara. Why must Hand go the route of so many other authors and implement a love triangle? It feels like a huge insult to have these characters form a strong relationship we rarely see in YA paranormals and then basically say "Nope, he's not for you. This one is." For a moment there I really thought "Yay! We have an honest to god healthy teen relationship." And now, I'm pretty sure that will be ruined in a sequel, for a character I never cared about. I don't want to see this happen so I doubt I'll be continuing with this series.
ETA: I will, however, be interested in watching the TV show of the same name based on this book, announced in October.(less)
A post-apocalyptic western with a touch of sci-fi and the paranormal. No speech marks and a writing style that does not include good spelling, punctua...moreA post-apocalyptic western with a touch of sci-fi and the paranormal. No speech marks and a writing style that does not include good spelling, punctuation or grammar. You might be enticed by the former and horrified by the latter but it’s okay, seriously, don’t be put off by it. I didn’t notice it after the first few pages.
In case, I’m losing you and you’re thinking this isn’t for you, it has: Cage-fighting Giant killer worms Strong female characters (Feminists, you will love them) A male love interest with balls, not just empty sacks.
Saba’s voice and personality are unique. She’s a strong woman with flaws. Real flaws. But she’s also extremely loyal and vulnerable. After horsemen attack her family and kidnap her twin brother Lugh 18-year-old Saba cares about nothing and no one but getting him back. She pushes everyone away. She doesn’t have time to make friends or allies - they’re only means to an end. Finding Lugh is everything. Nothing else matters. Or does it?
I was worried about Jack. At first, I thought he was going to be the typical weak YA hero bringing lovey-dovey romance to the book which would’ve been inappropriate but I needn’t have worried. Jack oozes charm and provides light-hearted banter but there are moments when you see his deeper side. He confronts Saba with the truth about herself, forces her to face it, and it hurts. It hurts a lot. He says her 9-year-old sister Emmi would be better off with him than Saba because she cares so little for her and her feelings.
Saba’s never been able to forgive Emmi for killing their mother during childbirth and as a result breaking their father’s heart and robbing him of his sanity. Many times she’s tried to leave Emmi behind with someone she trusts to keep her safe, like she promised her father and brother, during the immensely dangerous journey over wasteland and through barbaric towns but Emmi knows Saba will never return so she always catches up to her. She endures Saba’s mean streak, she stubbornly wants to help find Lugh but she suffers for it. And that’s when Saba starts to realise how badly she’s treated Emmi, when she’s forced to watch someone beat her, unable to protect her, when Jack shows Saba how to patiently interact with Emmi without constantly berating her. Before, Saba only had a twin brother and now she finally has a little sister. It’s heart-warming. I loved it.
Saba gains friends in the Free Hawks, a group of female bandits but she won’t accept their friendship and loyalty. If someone’s going to risk their life, it’s going to be her and her alone. It’s her mission, no one else’s. Even Jack, who you can tell is desperate to get close to Saba is pushed away, often physically. He’s a brave man, chasing a dangerous woman. Saba won’t allow herself feelings for anyone because she’s afraid it will make her weak and distract her from finding Lugh.
Apart from the expert characterisation and development, the writing itself is exemplary. It’s emotive and though some might say it’s sparse on description you still feel the burning hot sun on your skin and know the loneliness of the deadly unending desert. You fear for Saba’s safety, knowing she’s grown up in isolation, and you’re just waiting for something terrible to befall her. It’s intense reading to begin with, building up to something, you just know it but I never found the explosions I was looking forward to; of passion, of realisation, of relief. It didn’t quite happen for me. I think more could've been made of the occasions when lives were in danger and of the grief when they were lost, like it was in the beginning.
And the end left me wanting. Everyone went their separate ways. The characters may have grown but I thought they’d learned that being together as one group meant they were stronger as a whole so I expected them to remain together at least until the fallout of recent events blew over.
As for the plot, saving Lugh involved a deadly superstitious ritual by an insane power-hungry king who rules by doping his police force (the Tonton) with a drug called Chaal, grown by slaves who are also under its influence, and sold to the general public. In small amounts it gets you high –slow and calm, in higher doses it makes you feral, rabid, blood-thirsty.
I didn’t envision the book taking the turns that it did. There were too many convenient coincidences and the need to defeat a crazy dictator, predictable. At times all this felt ludicrous but I tried to keep in mind that there is no “society” now. No infrastructure to speak of. No law and order. It was every man for himself. It was dog eat dog. The survival of the fittest. Any man could build an empire and call himself a king. We’ve regressed back to the times of the Wild West, perhaps even before then. The height of technology is the bow and arrows. Anything more advanced is regarded as “Wrecker tech”. The Wreckers, I’m assuming, is us now. I’m presuming something wiped out much of the world’s population and people left the cities for the country in order survive on the land. I’m got the feeling that this is set in either Australia or the US because of the skyscraper graveyards and the vast deserts.
The paranormal elements are mysterious. You’re not quite sure if they’re real or silly superstition, for instance when Saba’s father reading the future in the stars, or the Heartstone that remains cold until you meet your heart’s desire, when it burns hot. The giant killer worms are mutant creatures evolved from the dumping of illegal chemicals into a mountain lake back in Wrecker times, are mucho scary.
Despite my gripes with this book, I do think it’s worth reading. If you liked Katniss’s strength and survival instinct in The Hunger Games, enjoy the depiction of REAL men and characters that experience tough times and grow from them, then this is for you.
ETA: I've just seen "Tremors". Giant killer worms, people, giant killer worms! They will get you in the end. I see where Young got her inspiration. (less)
Never have I experienced such a u-turn in my opinion of a character.
I was absolutely livid and appalled when I learned Sebastian would be marrying Evi...moreNever have I experienced such a u-turn in my opinion of a character.
I was absolutely livid and appalled when I learned Sebastian would be marrying Evie in the last book. Such a vile man doesn't deserve happiness. Her shy and vulnerable nature would surely be crushed under the manipulative man-slut, St Vincent. And after getting over my disappointment in the author and looking at the ratings for this book, my curiosity got the better of me. I went into reading this expecting the worst but in reality I came out the other side with major respect for the author.
Never in a million years did I expect to like Sebastian after what he did. Kudos to Kleypas for changing my mind. (less)
I'm fairly new to historical romance but this was very disappointing fare from what I perceive to be a popular author of the genre.
Though funny at ti...moreI'm fairly new to historical romance but this was very disappointing fare from what I perceive to be a popular author of the genre.
Though funny at times, I found this book to be insubstantial and inconsistent fluff with a couple I didn't think were "made for each other" at all. The Prince wasn't drawn in a very favourable light (you get the feeling he's a useless arrogant rake) until we're told he has a degree from Oxford in archaeology and the weight of responsibility on his shoulders which meant he needed to marry an heiress in order to keep his castle full of outcast (and charming) relatives running, thereby giving him the air of an honourable gentleman. I didn't quite buy it. And to a certain extent, neither did Kate.
24-year-old "I'm over-the-hill" Kate as our downtrodden Cinderella also isn't the most endearing. Despite being intelligent and witty she's always moaning about her looks (she's not ugly, just under-nourished), her stupid "bosom friends" (wax inserts to enhance ones chest i.e. the ye olde version of chicken fillets) and pining for a man she can't have.
Their scenes together weren't all bad, witty banter aside I merely felt their relationship would be more of a fling. Berwick appeared to be a better fit or even the slightly boring Lord Hathaway who seemed charmed by her personality.
The ending left me cold. Kate is the one with all the power to grant both herself and her Prince happiness but she fails to do anything, instead leaving him to agonise over a choice: feed his family by marrying the Russian heiress or marry the seemingly penniless Kate and starve. The way she sat back and waited for him to choose her was cruel to both of them. She knew if he wasn't so desperate for money he'd marry her in a heartbeat so he couldn't be compared to her father who was marrying her mother more for greed than necessity when he rejected Henry. Not only that but if she cared for the tenants of her father's estate so much then why didn't she immediately purchase it from her stepmother upon receiving her inheritance?
Despite being a "retelling" it bore very little resemblance to the fairy tale, and I don't just mean the Disney version. The stepmother though manipulative, controlled very little. She allowed her daughter and step-daughter to walk around without supervision i.e. governesses and chaperones, which sees her daughter falling pregnant out of wedlock because she failed to educate her on sex.
Kate's godmother Henry, although I liked her I was uncomfortable with her connection to Kate's father. It seemed inappropriate that he would ask her to be Kate's godmother so I understood why Henry never took the responsibility seriously until now.
This wasn't exactly compelling reading however, the side characters were far more interesting than the leads: Henry and her husband Leo, Berwick and Effie (I loved how the Prince defended her honour and dealt with Beckham) even the horrible yapping dogs (three tiny Malteses -ew!), the lion, elephant and monkey were entertaining.
Although the author states this was 'not an historical novel' but a fairy tale she does estimate it was set around 1813 though I had my doubts. Powdered wigs were out of fashion at that time -they went out with the fall of Marie Antoinette (1793). I only mention this because their abundant use, especially the ridiculous rainbow-coloured wigs Kate wore, annoyed the hell out of me.
I'll most likely give the author a second chance with When Beauty Tamed the Beast but only because the ratings are quite a bit better than this one.
Favourite Quotes "Why did Ceasar bite Victoria, anyway? I never thought to ask." "She was feeding him from her mouth." "What?"
"He's male. I've noticed that sometimes the brains simply get left out of the package." ~ Kate
"I've no dogs, but I'm willing to consider the lion as a substitute." ~ Prince (Gabriel)
"As long as you're not as much a fool as your sister, there's no need to fuss about a bit of liberty before marriage. Just squeak loudly on your wedding night and your husband will never know." ~Henry
"Are your footmen unfortunate degenerates?" Henry put in cheerfully. "The only one of those in my household is my darling Leo." They all glanced at Henry's husband, seated opposite her. Leo gave Kate a naughty wink and said, "It takes a degenerate to keep track of my wife, I assure you. No one else would have the imagination."
"If my wife had gone to Oxford, they would have had to create a triple first," Leo said. "What did you say?" Henry asked. "In seduction," he whispered.
"Offer me a post as your mistress and I'll stab you with a fork, just as Effie stabbed Beckham. Except the fork won't go in your hand." ~Kate
"Dear me," Gabriel commented. "England seems to have suffered a rash of trollopy young ladies without fathers." (less)
After getting over the giggles and settled down to read this seriously, I found this book educational, interesting and jaw-dropping. If I'd recorded t...moreAfter getting over the giggles and settled down to read this seriously, I found this book educational, interesting and jaw-dropping. If I'd recorded the soundtrack of me reading this it would be full of giggles, gasps, oh my gods and ewws. Anyone listening would assume I was Bonking, instead of reading about it.
Mary Roach fully immerses herself in her research, even taking part in some studies to experience the experiments for herself. I feel for her husband. Being married to her can mean finding yourself chatting to a strange man watching you having sex with your mad wife inside an MRI machine.
Her witty commentary on the history of sex research shows the people behind the white coats weren't all perverts and had a genuine scientific curiosity about sex, the most taboo subject in the world no matter time or place you live in. The negative effect this had on both their careers and their personal lives was sometimes staggering.
However, some of the experiments on animals...err...well, they were uncomfortable to read. Roach only reported on the humane ones but even those -I was questioning where the line between science and bestiality is, if there is one. I'm sorry, researchers but there was a gigantic EWW! moment involving a female primate. It was too weird.
Being female I was most interested in the female chapters than the male which tended to drag for me although penis re-attachment surgery was most...enlightening. *coughs to hide smile*
Certain statistics, anecdotes and trivia (e.g. items removed from naughty places that can't be explained without embarrassment) were spread throughout the book, many of which were in the footnotes so whatever you do, pay attention to those even if you, like some, don't particularly like Roach's writing. Her sense of humour won't be to everyone's taste, for me it's more hit than miss but I can understand why some see it as forced, trying too hard to evoke a laugh from her audience.
In an ideal world I'd want to give this to teenagers as part of their sex education. Anyone who might assume this is just some smutty perverted book just by looking at the cover, is wrong. Neither is it dry and boring, there will be no Zzzz's whilst reading this. If anything I'd warn people: You must have a strong stomach. There are graphic descriptions of surgical procedures that will have you involuntarily crossing your legs in sympathy.
So if you want to read about how men get erections, why some women orgasm and others don't then this book is for you. Have fun and try not to puke.(less)
Set after the Moon Trilogy, I enjoyed this more-so than those books. It was the slow burn that did it. The hero and heroine don't get together until 5...moreSet after the Moon Trilogy, I enjoyed this more-so than those books. It was the slow burn that did it. The hero and heroine don't get together until 5 years after they first met, and the hero is the alpha of the Cat Clan -that's some self-control!
However, when Wheeler found Emma she was a mess. Damaged by the one who had turned her and forced to kill him to escape, and then with no advice or support she was doing her best to survive on her own. She didn't trust anyone, especially not some strange Cat Alpha. It took her a very long time to even step on to the Cat compound and even longer to become part of their community.
But because of the Alpha's obvious interest in her no one could get close enough to her to become her confidante and therefore impart valuable information on mating so she didn't understand the alpha's interest in her!
I loved the retrospective scenes where we come to understand Emma's background and her relationships and position with the Cat Clan. She may be a small wereanimal as an ocelot but she's fierce and cunning.
My Favourite Scene Security conscious Emma is an Ocelot to Wheeler's lazy, arrogant Lion.
'The economy of movement through the leaves of the tree made little noise, but it was enough that Wheeler turned his massive leonine head in her direction. The sight if a thirty-five pound ocelot flying directly at him must have been disconcerting. The comical expression on the feline face would have been rib-tickling if Emma could have taken a moment to stop and consider it. He was amazed that Emma was doing what she had done. The with bruising force, she abrubtly connected with his body, wrapping her claws around his neck, digging into his back with her rear legs in a manner that made Wheeler suddenly erupt with fury. She bit his neck as he leapt upward, bucking her like a horse with an unruly rider. Sharply, Emma spun on his back and raced backward down his spine, leaping over his violently slashing tail into the brush. Wheeler roared. So much for his serenity. Mere seconds later he was bellowing after her, "Emma, goddammit! What the hell was that?!"'