I see Beautiful Creatures as Adult Literary Fiction meets Young Adult with a heavy dose of Paranormal Romance.
The story is told from a male perspectivI see Beautiful Creatures as Adult Literary Fiction meets Young Adult with a heavy dose of Paranormal Romance.
The story is told from a male perspective (unusual for this genre) in first person by Ethan Lawson Wate who is stuck in a small southern town in the middle of nowhere, where no one moves in and no one moves out. You’re born there, live there and die there. Ethan wants to be different, he wants to get out and see the world, he’s tired of the small-town attitudes of his school friends and neighbours. He’s been having nightmares about holding onto an unknown girl he’s in love while she dangles in the air until he drops her, nightmares in which he wakes up soaked from the rain in his dream, and is haunted by a mysterious song called Sixteen Moons.
Everything in the town is the same until Lena Duchannes moves in with her reclusive uncle, Macon Ravenwood the town’s bogeyman. Everyone tars her with the same brush automatically believing she’s as “crazy” as her uncle, everyone but Ethan. He recognises her from the nightmares and sees something different in her. She’s a symbol of everything he wants: she’s travelled, she’s well-educated, well-read and she doesn’t think like the rest of the town, and when Ethan becomes her friend the town turns on them both. Ethan adores her until she reveals she’s a Caster, a magic-user who will be Claimed either by the Dark (evil) or the Light (good) on her 16th birthday but she belives she will go Dark. They form an unusually strong bond especially since he's only a Mortal and together they try to find out more about the Claiming to see if they can stop it but both Macon and Ethan’s housekeeper (or second mother), Amma stand in their way.
This is very slow-building, so slow in fact that it took me over two weeks to finish. Only bull-headed determination got me to the end. A lot of background on the town and its characters was given but there were parts that just didn’t interest me, like detail on the all-important war and the repetition of certain facts that got tiresome after a while as did Lena's behaviour, constantly pushing Ethan away "for his own good" when it was clear he wasn't going anywhere and all she was doing was hurting them both. I had to skim a few times.
Macon Ravenwood was my favourite character, I wanted to read more about him and his life. I also wanted more on Genevieve and her life after the visions, how much did she change after she made the failed bargain? How Dark did she become? I wondered if there was something special about Boo Radley the wolf-dog other than being Macon’s eyes, was his relationship with Macon symbiotic? It seemed like it. I think something more could have been made of Ethan’s father, I don’t know what exactly but there wasn’t enough interaction with Ethan especially after the suicide incident.
Ethan struck me as very feminine and extremely mature until quite late in the book when he found it difficult to say the words "girlfriend" and "I love you". I waited for his thoughts to turn sexual, like every hormonal teenager but it didn't happen. His unusual bond with Lena wasn’t really explained, even though there was a comparison to Ethan Carter Wate (Ethan’s great, great uncle) and Genevieve’s relationship, it wasn’t clear on what made Ethan able to feel and communicate (via mind-speak) with Lena so easily. There was a suggestion he was a Caster and then doors were opening of their own accord for him which was later explained away as his mother’s spirit helping him. Lena’s father is practically glossed over, we only know that he was murdered by her mother. I didn’t fully understand the extent to which Mrs Lincoln was possessed by Serafine, she said she wasn’t always possessing her so I was curious to know how much of Mrs Lincoln’s behaviour was due to Serafine and how much was her own nasty personality.
The ending was lack-lustre, rushed, not well-thought out, hodge-podge. Lena gets rid of the enemies quickly and easily, a flash of lightning was all it took. Lena isn’t claimed and doesn’t claim herself, she doesn’t make a choice instead a wishy-washy explanation was given – suddenly there is no moon and Lena, being a powerful Natural temporarily got rid of the moon so she wouldn’t have to choose (when did she have the time to do that?) until of course there is another verse of the song but instead of Sixteen Moons it’s Seventeen Moons. I’m guessing this means her choice has been put off until her 17th birthday. Ugh. I’m not sure if this is right because Ethan notices Lena’s eyes have changed colour, one has remained green and the other is now gold like those of Dark Casters. Shouldn't both of her eyes be gold like Genevieve's?
One thing that wasn’t addressed was the fact that Ethan and Lena could never be together physically, it was stated and then after the drama of the climax it wasn’t discussed by Lena and Ethan. I would think they’d be thinking about that as well as Macon. I can’t see them staying together, especially since Lena hasn’t admitted to killing the Dark Casters or even bringing Ethan back to life – which is another thing I’m not clear on. Is he truly alive? Why was his life traded for Macon’s specifically. I just don’t understand.
I know this review is quite negative but I do believe the small-town mentality was well-drawn. As a child I lived in a small English village in the country, my mother was the only black person and I was mixed race. We both felt like outsiders and the rumour-mill got so bad, led by the stay-at-home mums, that my mother sent me away while she packed our things and moved us out, back to the city. She didn't want me to be affected by their behaviour. Lena and Ethan were pretty strong not to crumble under that collective pressure.
I really wanted this story to finish in this book. I made an extraordinary effort to finish it due to the hype, some great lines and a few intriguing scenes, I deserved to be rewarded with a good ending. This book isn’t as concise as it could have been or as clear, I believe a concerted effort was made to make the town and the many characters realistic but the ending wasn’t right. The need for a sequel seemed to outweigh the need to end the book properly....more
Dark illustrations enhancing highly emotive topics expertly written and presented in a wonderfully tactile and beautifulOh, I need a hug.
Dark illustrations enhancing highly emotive topics expertly written and presented in a wonderfully tactile and beautiful book.
A Monster Calls is an important and powerful piece of artwork, an absolute must read for every child. It deals with death, divorce, alienation, bullying, guilt, blame, the weight of responsibilty and basically the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Everyone has or will experience these things and Conor's anxious journey through this complicated maze of thoughts and emotions perfectly demonstrates the reality of dealing with the obstacles in life in the most touching manner possible. This sense of depth and painful truths is not something you usually see in children's books which makes this even more special....more
Words, words, where are the words? How can I describe this?
Amazing. Awe-inspiring. Heart-achingly beautiful.
The writing, the language, the emotions and imagination -this is a work of pure genius.
I can't tell you how long I've waited to read something so completely original and inspiring.
And it's a self-contained novel. No unanswered questions that won't be satisfied in a sequel due out in a year. Oh, the glee.
It's not possible for me to go in to detail because I would give away too much. You really need to go in blind and discover that R. J. Anderson deserves an award, many awards. And of course, the tools to write yet another piece of art I can admire, clutch tightly in my hands and call it my precious.
Go read this. Beg, borrow or steal it if you have to, it's worth the jail time, I promise. Go now. I'll see you on the other side....more
Assassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assumAssassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assumedAcross the Nightingale Floor had been translated due to inconsistent, simple and superficial language. And I wasn't alone in my thinking. However, a quick search revealed the author to have been born and raised a few miles from where I live in England.
Very little emotion is shown by Takeo, our hero, despite what should've been some harrowing scenes in the beginning in which he lost his entire family in the massacre of his village, witnessed by him. Balancing 'show' and 'tell' is a common problem and unfortunately there's far too much 'tell' than there really should be. Long conversations, flimsy explanations and detailed summaries are shortcuts used here contributing to a severe lack of depth concerning Takeo's character and a level of unreadability to his chapters as I was unable to connect or sympathise with him.
On the other hand, Kaede, our heroine, manages to engender sympathy for her plight right away. Her chapters were noticeably different in quality, contained more action and the feminist-themed commentary was intriguing.
"Even beauty is dangerous for a woman. Better not to be desired by men."
Again and again this is proved in this patriarchal, feudal Japan. Including superstitious nonsense regarding the powers of women cursing men just by being arbitrarily associated with them. If a man happens to die at the hands of the woman he tried to rape it's the would-be rapist's fault, not the woman's. That's the social norm of the time period this is set it.
Kaede's insta-love at first sight towards Takeo and its reciprocation turned me off for it's commonality and overuse amongst young adult novels but THT suggested it could be taken as "fated to be mated". I think, in the end, it was a mixture of both. Their relationship was engineered to be Shigeru and Maruyama's history repeating itself, an ill-fated one where being together would mean death. Our hope this second time around is that they'll finally be reunited and gain a happy-ever-after. For me, this isn't something I like, this repetition in the vain hope all will work out in spite of history attesting to that fact it most likely will not. I can see the poetic beauty and note the tragic Shakespearean nature of these circumstances, though I can't appreciate them here, not with this writing. And certainly not when it looks like the other books will draw out the angst-ridden will-they-or-won't-they. No, thank you.
Hearn gives away her ending early on via heavy foreshadowing. Predictablity isn't something I'm a fan of, although I am grateful the author didn't go full Romeo and Juliet on her characters, close call though it was. I'm also glad the issue of sex wasn't glossed over or ignored. Sex was heard, had with prostitutes, and had next to a rapidly cooling corpse in what must've been a blood-spattered room and clothing. Sexy.
Usually I'm an ardent lover of politics and dastardly machinations, I wasn't in this case. I had zero invested in the plot and no side ever revealed itself to be a favorable one to champion. Takeo, Shigeru, Iida, Kenji and the Tribe. I hoped for nothing. No, I tell a lie. I hoped they'd all die quickly so I could finish the damn book and move on.
As super secrets assassins go I wasn't terribly impressed with the Tribe. Like everyone else they had an agenda, not one I could get behind, and possessed no members I could warm to. They were petty and patronising with no respect for free will, what's to like about that? Their skills were only mildly paranormal, mostly standard stuff to use to fight, escape and evade: enhanced strength and hearing, fast reflexes, creating temporary shadow doppelgangers to distract, and hypnotic gazes that can send you to sleep. Out of all the assassin scenes Takeo's acts of mercy were the ones to make a good impression on me and a bad one on Kenji, Takeo's teacher:
"It's that softness he has," Kenji said. "It drives him to act from compassion, even when he kills."
Villain, Iida, is defeated unbelievably fast and easy. You could argue a stroke of luck, a fortuitous accident, if you will. Not in my eyes. Iida lost his credibility as a convincing foe in the moment he was beaten. For someone so completely paranoid and obsessed about security he underestimated his opponents and ignored possible threats, not just the one that brought him down either.
I understand what the author was trying to achieve with Across the Nightingale Floor and no doubt it would make for a beautiful, graceful yet tragic movie. As a book, it failed to seduce me. Reading shouldn't be hard work. Just skimming I struggled to stop my eyes from glazing over in utter boredom until the last 20% when the pace picks up. I couldn't, in good conscience, recommend this to anyone.
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 plThe 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....more
This is the first Neil Gaiman book I have read and I’m sad to say I’m disappointed. Though it’s highly regarded I found it to be rather boring. I wasThis is the first Neil Gaiman book I have read and I’m sad to say I’m disappointed. Though it’s highly regarded I found it to be rather boring. I was tempted to abandon it after 50 pages but I persevered. The only reason why I’m giving this two stars instead of one is that the original idea was good and there were parts that drew me in but then it always lost me again.
The story was disjointed and episodic in nature. It went off in different directions that were either not resolved or unsatisfactorily explained. The lack of realism in the fact that I doubt a baby could crawl out of its cot, out of the house and down the road into a graveyard at what must have been lightening speed not to be caught by the man Jack, was ill conceived. Also the reason for Bod’s family’s death didn’t seem feasible or at least wasn’t revealed in enough detail, especially the workings of the Jack-of-all-trades.
It's almost as if Gaiman's popularity (and therefore money-making ability) meant that the publishers rushed to publish this book without so much as glancing at it first, when really they should've hired a team of editors to help whip it into shape fit enough for public consumption.
I feel this will serve better as a movie rather than a book. I hear it has been recently picked up by writer/director Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire, The Company of Wolves) and is due out in 2011. I look forward to seeing how he transfers The Graveyard Book to the silver screen hopefully updating and expanding on this poor book. ...more
Dashed hopes. That's what this book was for me. With all the rave reviews I expected a 5 star read but I was left disappointed.
The first half of theDashed hopes. That's what this book was for me. With all the rave reviews I expected a 5 star read but I was left disappointed.
The first half of the book was ok and seemed to be heading some place good but then Katsa and Po rushed into a sexual relationship that she wasn't ready for. For some reason she thought that being with Po was an all-or-nothing affair, she needed time to get used to her feelings for him. One second she acknowledges her attraction to him and the next they're doing the dirty - I was unprepared for this being a YA book and all. Not a good message for the kids.
Afterwards I expected Katsa to soften just a little around the edges at least with Po; more smiles, small touches, gestures, glances between them but I was left wanting. The tension between the two characters before they got together was good but afterwards...it all seemed very forced. Katsa didn't love Po, Po may have loved Katsa but she didn't love him. She felt friendship - a bond of sharing, affection but love? No. It was almost as if she was responding to Po's desire for her rather than her own wants. She was wooden for most of the book, she rarely had any emotions except anger and perhaps fear. Even her feelings for Bitterblue were muted. She cared for her and taught her how to hold a blade because she needed her to live so that leaving Po behind had been worth it. Bitterblue didn't appear to grow on her at all, Katsa cared very little for others except her cousin and Po and even then it was debatable as to how much she cared for them.
Katsa didn't really change over the course of the book. Yes she refused to be her uncle's tool anymore but what else? She is with Po only because he needs her and she cares about him - that is it. She is not perfect, she doesn't realise that Po would never "trap" her in what Katsa sees as a typical marriage, one where the husband is always dominating and controlling his wife. Po on the other hand, made progress in leaps and bounds, I think I would have been happier if this story had been told from his perspective. He showed plenty of emotion, his grace would have made it interesting and he had all of that family who I would have loved to have seen more of. So much happened to him in this book that he sort of made Katsa look boring in comparison.
**MAJOR SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT**
The demise of King Leck came about rather suddenly and too easily in my opinion. He was made out to be a very powerful evil man, hard to kill but he was brought down after only a couple of very short face-to-face encounters with Katsa. It was implied earlier in the book that he would try to make Katsa hunt and kill Po or someone that one of them cared about. It never happened.
The story after King Leck's defeat was strange. I felt it unlikely that Po would have survived so well on his own even though he did suffer permanent injury. I like a bit of reality in my fantasy - it has to have some believability to it.
All of this made me wonder if this book had originally been written for adults and was cut down to a shorter teenage-friendly size. If it had then I would understand why King Leck had to be defeated so quickly and why the second half of the book was so odd.
As I read the last sentences I felt sad, not because it was an unhappy ending, it wasn't (it wasn't exactly a happy one either) but because it had potential to be something more than it was....more
I've just finished reading City of Bones. It wasn't as good as the hype. I skimmed most of it and only slowed down for Luke's explanation of events anI've just finished reading City of Bones. It wasn't as good as the hype. I skimmed most of it and only slowed down for Luke's explanation of events and when Clary finds Jace with Valentine near the end. It was a plot by numbers (like painting by numbers) sort of book and the characters were puppets to the plot.
Jace started liking Clary even before getting to know her though I tried to put that down to Clary being the first female to enter his life who wasn't like a sister to him. Poor Jace can't catch a break there.
I'm guessing that Clary is going to develop abilities. The dreams she had seemed to be about the past and about the future. A prophetess like Dorothea?
I didn't see Luke being a werewolf coming though I did wonder why the werewolves wanted her. The only thing that intrigued me was the issue of incest, I may read the next book just to see how the author tackles it. ...more
Lately I think I've been overdosing on the young adult reads because I'm finding way too many similarities between these books.
Anyway, Hush, Hush wasLately I think I've been overdosing on the young adult reads because I'm finding way too many similarities between these books.
Anyway, Hush, Hush wasn't great. The only thing I enjoyed was Patch's embarrassing public comments about Nora and his way of antagonising her although it could also be classed as bullying. I don't think I'll be reading the sequel....more
First, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. ActFirst, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. Action, terror and death almost from the very first page. I was on edge, longing to shout at Alex to shut up and listen to his woman. I decided to go without sleep at about 33%, sleep is for the weak anyway. I needed closure and I needed it NOW! I saw some of those bad things coming, they were inevitable. But...but...I got scared. Alex + Darla = formidable team, so when they got separated, in a most terrifying manner...MUST READ NOW!
Alex arrived at his uncle's farm in October, it's now April and they're experiencing a perpetual winter. No effort has been made to rebuild infrastructure or establish order. The US still appears to be in political turmoil and rumours abound. Finding Alex's parents and rescuing Darla has us re-tracing their path from Ashfall; passing through another FEMA camp and reuniting with old friends like the fearless old librarian Rita Mae from Worthington (great woman) and old enemies like Black Lake and Colonel Levitov.
"Without children we don't have a future." "Without freedom," Rita Mae yelled back, "why would we want a future?"
When I thought over Alex's actions leading to his separation from Darla and everything up to that point I realised he wasn't just an overly generous softie and arguably stupid (which he freely admits: "I'm too stupid to live. I should have never dragged Darla back out here, not for anything."). The negative adrenaline-pumping and usually deadly consequences could have unexpected silver-linings. He gains allies, information and supplies as well as lessons in future dangers by observing other towns and meeting new people. Like I previously mentioned in my Ashfall review there's a delicate balance of luck and karma. If the characters are praying for something good to happen there may be a miracle but there will always be payment. Nothing is free.
However, I could only hold my breath in desperation and fear for these characters, whilst they were apart, for so long. I couldn't maintain that level of anxiety and slowly I became detached and less interested in what was happening. And so I turned to skimming. Darla was sorely missed although I completely understand how her absence played so well into the plot and the original mission: to find, and if alive, bring home Alex's parents, as well as the subplot involving missing and presumed kidnapped, girls. The way everything just slots into place gives the illusion of mild predictability when really it's a natural progression of events.
I love Darlex (Hehe, that's so Dr. Who but much better than Peniss) having built a strong relationship in the first book (ETA: Emeli Sande's Next to Me describes it perfectly), have it tested and re-affirmed (thankfully) in this one. Absence made the heart grow fonder despite my worry to the contrary.
"If we're going to die anyway, I want to die with you. And if we live, I want to live with you."
I sincerely hope they manage to achieve their dreams of one day marrying and having children when life becomes stable and prosperous. But on a sidenote: those childbirth death certificates were heartbreaking.
I have a new favourite character -Ben. Ben suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder with social and communication problems, is incredibly intelligent and is an expert in all things military. He's a huge asset. One time he corrects his hostage-takers on their strategy, advising them on how to tighten up their formation. Jaw-droppingly hilarious. I sympathised with Alyssa, Ben's carer and "sister unit", and her attachment to Alex. Oh, that was sad. I was both shocked and as uncomfortable as Alex when she enacted her strategy with the gang. That took courage. She was stronger than she knew.
I've got to give the author props for his increasingly sickening and gory yet realistic portrayals of the fight for survival. Ripping away childhoods and replacing them with the cold, dark and horrifying reality. Showing how any decent and honest person can become an unrecognisable monster. Alex's father may have been on that slippery slope when he does something that requires the suspension of compassion i.e. torture. (view spoiler)[I'm glad that Alex's father finally came to understand Darla's importance after witnessing the changes in his son: his new strength and maturity.
"Responsibility's a cruel bitch. She comes for you whether you want it or not."
His sacrifice was heroic. Both he and Alex's mother had big brass balls playing chicken lighting up that propane tank. (hide spoiler)]
The emotions, action and characterisations in these books are superb. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book. Go, Warren! Go!
P.S. If you ever hear the words "flensers" and "long pork buffet", RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
***My thanks to Tanglewood Press for the ebook in exchange for an honest review.***["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 I looked this one up online (and read it there for free) as I was struggling with the 13th volume which is a 2014 Hugo finalist for Best Graphic NoSo I looked this one up online (and read it there for free) as I was struggling with the 13th volume which is a 2014 Hugo finalist for Best Graphic Novel, and while this is from only one point of view - Agatha's - it's still a little disjointed and hard to follow. Almost every sentence of dialogue feels like it should end with a exclamation mark. It's high drama, or melodrama. But perhaps that's a mark of the mad science genre - I wouldn't know, I'm new to it.
Agatha is a strong female role model. She doesn't crumple in the face of adversity. I found the worldbuilding a little lacking and many questions are left unanswered by the end of the volume.
The artwork is nice though a little cartoon-y and Agatha's proportions seem a bit ludicrous for a teenager. She'd be more at home as a buxom barmaid wench in a tavern filled with randy vikings.
I love visual steampunk, on TV and in the movies, but can't get into it in novel form so I thought this would be good middle ground. Not this time....more
Ever feel like you're missing something? I was constantly reminded that I'm not a Twi-Hard by the never-ending references to the Saga, especially BreaEver feel like you're missing something? I was constantly reminded that I'm not a Twi-Hard by the never-ending references to the Saga, especially Breaking Dawn (I think). How can the author refer to things (view spoiler)[imprinting -something to do with cementing a relationship? (hide spoiler)] and not explain them enough for me, someone who only made it half way through New Moon, to understand what the heck you're talking about.
I got the feeling that the editors went over this with a fine tooth comb so as not to have any lawyers screaming and suing. Referencing Meyer herself will probably stop them from shouting "Plagiarism!". It's all very well tipping your hat to a favourite book (Twilight and Blood and Chocolate) and movies (The Princess Bride) but you shouldn't really base your book on another where you're constantly referring to it -we usually save that sort of thing for non-fiction, essays and reviews.
Despite similarities to "that damn series" this was a fast and easy read due to the engrossing writing. I can't be too positive about all of the characters though. I don't like Pietr, he's Edward in Jacob's werewolf body, ugh. The whole pulling away to keep you safe thing -gimme a break. The change in Derek's character was interesting but I'm finding it hard to reconcile his character in the two books because they're so different even though they're supposed to be. (view spoiler)[Was there any indication of what he is and what he was doing in the first book? Because I don't remember there being any. (hide spoiler)] It kinda threw me but it made for good reading.
The characters I like are: Max -I loved his undiscovered depths. Everyone assumes he's a man-whore but he's an adorable hero-in-the-making, Amy -the physical abuse by her boyfriend and the effect it had on her was very well done, Cat -her straightforwardness and her bravery, and Sophia -she's become really helpful and I'm guessing she'll be needed in the final instalment.
As for Jess, I got annoyed with her for not putting things together faster even though her memories/actions/emotions were being manipulated. The clues were so obvious. Hello? Derek, derek, derek. Blood, blood, blood. Simple.
Dr. Jones was odd at the end. It was stupid for Jess to spill her guts like that to a stranger when she knew there was stranger-danger. (view spoiler)[I'm guessing Dr. Jones is pretty high up in The Company if even Wanda was shocked by her roughness. (hide spoiler)] Why not tell her sister instead? She's a smart girl who isn't asking questions, and why not? Plenty of suspicious activity going on around her and she doesn't notice? Hmm. Hopefully she and her father will finally be clued into the situation in the next book.
I'm so glad Bargains and Betrayals is coming out in August, I hate unfinished stories. Thankfully this is a trilogy which is good because I really dislike the near-cliffhangers.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book is all about thWeird, wacky and whimsical worldbuilding, Batman!
Silly, stupid and senseless.
Depends on your outlook, and sense of humour.
This book is all about the worldbuilding. Forget about the plot, there isn't much of one and it isn't introduced until quite late into the book.
Croak is a town filled with places and characters with names linked to death e.g. Kilda, Mort, Corpp's (pub), Dead Weight (gym) etc, etc. Every single inhabitant, 82 including our MC, is an oddball and a former delinquent just like Lexington is at the beginning. A rebel without a cause. Punching, kicking and biting her way through life much to her own chagrin. She hates being unable to control her violent outbursts. But this makes her an exceptional Killer Grim -someone who separates the soul from the body at the precise moment of death with a single touch while her male 18-year-old partner, Driggs is a Culler who harvests the souls and transports them back to the Bank to be released into the Afterlife via the Atrium where Mr. Tell Tale Fart a.k.a. Edgar Allan Poe, Elvis and many a dead US president like to hangout to greet the newbies and socialise with the Grims.
Lex's new summer job seems to have a calming effect, giving her purpose and a sense of fulfillment. The town accepts, welcomes and understands her wild nature so she quickly feels at home despite the lack of internet and cell signal.
There's much to laugh at; the absurdity of death detecting jellyfish, the unsettling chemistry between Lex and Driggs and their inability to deal with it, but this balances out the horrors of reaping the horribly disfigured, the young and the murdered. Lex struggles to adhere to the rules by doing her job and only her job. She itches to chase after murderers and deal out some justice although she believes it's also unfair that people like John Wilkes Booth don't go to hell and reap a little of what they sow. And then Lex finds out why Killing is an intensely different experience for her in particular. (view spoiler)[She can damn people, anyone, whether living or on the brink of death. Condemn their souls to be locked out of the Afterlife. Burnt from the inside out -an exceptionally painful way to go.
I think it's a cop-out that this ability was stolen from her before she had a chance to decide what to do with it, if anything. It would've created conflict within herself and with the Croakers as they compare her to the serial killer from the 1800s and the current one. (hide spoiler)]
The romance with Driggs gets a tad uncomfortable with a stalker/paedophile vibe at one point which he fully admits. The plot served only to sever the only connection the MC had to her old New York City life: (view spoiler)[by killing off her twin sister (hide spoiler)]. No attempt was made to mask the identity of the serial killer so there was no mystery there.
Humour is subjective. Sometimes I enjoyed it immensely and others it was over the top and irritating. The same goes for the worldbuilding. It gets a little complicated which along with the absurdness of it all, makes everything harder to comprehend. However, the unusual writing was fresh and exciting and encouraged me to read more.
Croak is like Dead Like Me on steroids. And LSD. I didn't hate it although I can't say for sure whether I'll read the sequel or not.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Revived committed suicide early on, but somehow it was saved. It was... Revived. Dun, dun, dun.
The Science. Oh dear god, the science!
"Revive" is a druRevived committed suicide early on, but somehow it was saved. It was... Revived. Dun, dun, dun.
The Science. Oh dear god, the science!
"Revive" is a drug which brings the recently dead back to life though it heals no wounds and cures no disease.
Adrenaline, anyone? Has this not been discovered in this world yet? Why yes, it has. Daisy has epi-pens on hand for a deadly allergy. So how is it any different from adrenaline? There's no answer because Revive's discovery was never explained. Nor is the state of any "Revived" individual. Are they the living dead? Still human? Able to reproduce? No idea.
Also: A bus crash with no survivors would mean lots of corpses with fatal injuries. Only those who'd died by passive means, like asphyxiation, might be revivable. (Yet they tried the drug out on a child with a foreign body piercing his brain. *facepalm*) Then again, in this experiment, no other treatment can be performed in addition to Revive's administration. No CPR. This means no circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain, heart and lungs -critical organs this drug needs to work on. So how is it going to get to its target destination from the injection site? No defibrillation to restart the heart. The drug would have to be administered with 5 minutes of flat-lining to avoid risking brain damage or brain death. But it would do no good if Revive can't be transported around the body in order to do its job. Actual revival rate: MINISCULE. Viability of drug (under these conditions): NONE.
In conjunction with other resuscitation methods it would probably act like adrenaline, possibly keeping someone alive long enough for surgery. But for the sake of secrecy and the experiment the success rate of the drug would be so close to zero it wouldn't be worth using.
That CPR trick at the end is: (a) MEDICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. 12 minutes dead (timed anyway, death had to have occurred much earlier - see below) with no intervention? Nothing you can do, they're dead and gone. (b) LOGISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. (view spoiler)[According to Wikipedia, anaphylaxis can occur 5 to 30 minutes after exposure, and hundreds of bee stings would've accelerated the process. Say it took 10 minutes until death, plus 12 after. Communication boyfriend-friend-agent-aeroplane, finding a suitable place to land, landing and finding/flagging down a car near a small town -30 mins at least. Driving 100mph for 20 miles equals another 12 minutes. (hide spoiler)] Not enough time for help to arrive and still be of any use.
Epic science fail on the science fiction front.
Realistic contemporary YA front Great. There were definitely some perfectly portrayed emotional moments concerning (view spoiler)[The Big C (hide spoiler)]. Even though I guessed correctly about what was up with Audrey it didn't take away the fact that I haven't encountered this issue in paranormal or sci-fi YA before. It was different, new.
Daisy's parental figures, there are three, were all present and/or made an appearance. No disappearing parent syndrome, although caring Mother #1 was replaced by robo-Cassie a.k.a. uncaring Mother #2, or the fem-bot as Daisy calls her. Then there's Mason who I suspected had difficulty staying objective instead of treating his "daughter" like a lab rat, as he should.
Matt, Daisy's love interest, isn't a jerk. Nor is he abusive. He does act out, but he has every reason for doing so, and he apologises for his behaviour. Overall, he's responsible and caring.
Megan is a teenage transgendered character, something I've never encountered in fiction. She's my first. There were a couple of moments I really felt she was a flamboyantly camp stereotype, most commonly attributed to gay males, but I overlooked this for her valuable insight and understanding.
The only thing I didn't get were the cultural references to music. Way before my time (I'm 25).
The Conspiracy While I anticipated parts of it I wasn't frustrated by its small element of predictability. It was satisfactory.
Readability Despite the science fails, I kept reading. And eagerly, too. That says a heck of a lot. High quality writing, a fast pace and it demonstrated an excellent understanding of difficult emotions, like guilt and grief.
Cringe-worthiness: Some. The ooey-gooey crush developing into a romance, the divulging of dangerous secrets when it wouldn't benefit a certain party, and a little Mary Sue-ness.
Anyone who's seen this movie will know what I mean. Presenting a fake family unit to the outside world, selling the perfect family to the public when in reality none of them are related or romantically involved with each other, and all of them employees of the same organisation. It's all pretend. David Duchovny is Mason, playing the role of Dad, with the same ensuing emotional development of deepening attachment to a character, but in this case, of the father-daughter variety. Fake names, documents, moving house every time the cover's blown, again, all reminiscent of the movie.
The head of the organisation in the book is nicknamed "God" for playing god by resurrecting the dead. His employees are his "Disciples", and Revived children, "Converts". It makes a surreal sort of sense.
Conclusion Usually, failing so completely on the science will earn a book 1, maybe 2 stars, and will be forever consigned to the shit-list shelf. No, 3 stars this time. Even though the romance seemed typically thin at first, it grew into something real, while the emotions of all involved were also authentic. I didn't hate the characters, a common complaint with me. Being a stand alone also helps its case. If I see other works by Patrick in my local library's catalogue, I wouldn't say no to reading them, but I wouldn't trust the science!["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Seraphina is perfect. Rachel Hartman's beautiful writing is simply astonishing with her multi-layered world-building, an expertly articulated plot, sySeraphina is perfect. Rachel Hartman's beautiful writing is simply astonishing with her multi-layered world-building, an expertly articulated plot, sympathetic characters who possess distinguishing personalities and the ability to grow and develop, and three-dimensional antagonists with meaningful agendas and a sharp sense of purpose.
I enjoyed the differences in cultural complexities between nations and species, and I laughed at a certain dragon's terror and wonder at experiencing human emotion for the first time. But in observing this I also found it heartwarming. It showed another side to his otherwise antagonistic character, acting as a vehicle for growth and completely changing my perception of him. I also felt the same way when an important dragon in Seraphina's life finally reveals all to her -that was a bittersweet moment, if ever there was one.
As for my criticisms, there was a distinct lack of a map. (I thought they were mandatory for all fantasy novels). Its absence was noticeable as it impeded my sense of the lay of the land and the locations of the nations located therein. I was also perturbed at encountering the 'Cast of Characters' and glossary at the end of the book instead of the beginning. Not very useful there, now is it?
There is a love triangle, albeit an unusual and tolerable one. We have a man engaged, facing an arranged marriage to his cousin with whom he'd been brought up, and is now falling for Seraphina. That's not your usual young adult love triangle set-up. In fact, every negative, clichéd and contrived trope you've come to associate with young adult novels happily do not exist within these pages. Hurrah! SO PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not dismiss this book on the love triangle alone, you may be pleasantly surprised. Had I known beforehand that this device had been used I would've avoided reading this great work, and I would've been all the poorer for doing so. I can only think of maybe one or two other authors who can create worlds as richly detailed and nuanced as Hartman (and in only one book too!) and I feel that anyone even slightly interested in Seraphina should take a chance and read it.
However, although my emotions were aroused quite strongly and all of my senses were titillated throughout, and there were harmonious moments when I wanted to point to a particular section and say, "Yes. This," I cannot definitively say, "I'm in love with this book." I love it, but I'm not in love with it, though it pains me to make that distinction, and is the reason for my 4.5 star rating. I feel I'm somehow defective in my reaction, but I have hope I will have more love for the sequel.
I would recommend this to those in their late teens and beyond, for those younger may find the language a challenge and may require a dictionary of some form at their side.
*Fans of Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series may recognise many similarities regarding species interaction/interbreeding, the differing approaches to emotion, emotion as a sign of disease/madness, and rehabilitation involving the excising of emotions and memories....more
Rosa Parks was not the first woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. I know, I didn't know this either. It's not our fault.Rosa Parks was not the first woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. I know, I didn't know this either. It's not our fault. Claudette Colvin had done the same nine months before. She was not considered by African American civil rights leaders to be a suitable symbol for the campaign against segregationist legislation. She was too young (she was fifteen), perceived to be too fiesty and too emotional, and too working class to be an appropriate figurehead to inspire revolution among her fellow African American residents of Montgomery, Alabama. She suffered more at the hands of the police than Ms. Parks (Colvin was jailed, among other things), more scorn from her neighbours and supposed friends than Ms. Parks, and yet she's been conveniently forgotten by the press, the historians and the public.
But she isn't bitter about it. In fact she understands why Rosa was the better choice, she was everything Claudette wasn't - a well respected introvert, a middle class and middle aged woman. Colvin was understandably hurt when she wasn't informed about victories or included in celebrations, and was completely shunned by everyone when she fell pregnant just a few months after she took a stand, by a married - and supposedly white - man. She was a teenager, an unwed mother - a shameful thing. Her parents forced her to keep the name of the father secret so apart from her immediate family she was without support from the community that once revered her for her bravery. The movement took what they wanted from her and then ignored her when she became the object of shame. The irony is astonishing - the movement rallying against unjust persecution while also persecuting a vulnerable member of their community.
Anyway, Colvin never sought fame or criticized the movement's leaders, she quietly tried to rebuild her life. Her dream of becoming a civil rights lawyer shattered once she became pregnant. Her school kicked her out as it did any pregnant teenager and she was forced to bear and raise her son in isolation, constantly looking for work since she was fired every time her employers discovered who she was.
This is an exceptionally well-rounded account of events surrounding the bus boycotts and the reversal of the segregation of schools in Montgomery, Alabama in the mid-1950s. Colvin's point of view and personal history is interspersed with accounts from other sources and there are plenty of detailed explanations of how things worked and were organised and funded. It's quite amazing what the co-operation of a community accomplished, and what they had to sacrifice. There are many examples of unjust events that precipitated Colvin's impromptu decision to make a stand.
The narration is perfect. Not once did I become bored or frustrated. I highly recommend this anyone that wants to know more about Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement in Alabama.
ETA: I forgot to add that I was surprised to hear that Colvin stopped straightening her hair while she was in high school because she was proud of her African heritage. Unfortunately her classmates and her boyfriend didn't understand and began to pressurize her on the subject. But she was adamant. Her natural hair was beautiful. She didn't want to spend hours every morning trying to make her hair look like a white woman's. She was African and that was that.
If you hated Throne of Glass because the supposedly violent assassin acted out Cinderella instead of Buffy, then you'll absolutely adore Crown of MiIf you hated Throne of Glass because the supposedly violent assassin acted out Cinderella instead of Buffy, then you'll absolutely adore Crown of Midnight. Rare is it these days, that an author will read critical reviews such as mine and actually make a concerted effort to make their readers happy by upping their game. And boy, did Ms. Maas raise the bar.
Let's address the issues that I brought up in my 2-star review of the debut.
Poorly constructed insta-love love triangle: Quashed. Winner is determined.
He would move on. Because he would not be like the ancient kings in the song and keep her for himself. She deserved a loyal, brave knight who saw her for what she was and did not fear her. And he deserved someone who would look at him like that, even if the love wouldn't be the same, even if the girl wouldn't be her. So Dorian closed his eyes, and took another long breath. And when he opened his eyes, he let her go. [p119]
Dorian shows surprising maturity and with the help of Celaena's bestie, Princess Nehemia, he attempts to move on without bitterness leaving the well-suited Chaol to win her affection.
"Don't cause trouble for them. You and I... We will always stand apart. We well always have... responsibilities. We will always have burdens that no one else can ever understand. That they" - she inclined her head toward Chaol and Celaena - "will never understand. And if they did, then they would not want them."
They would not want us, is what you mean. [p135]
Chaol and Celaena's romance deepens and heats up, finally culminating in consummation. 18-year-old Celaena was a virgin, and though it hurt, afterwards she was 'Tired but happy.' And in love. She felt whole and full of hope - something she'd never felt before.
The spoilt prince: Grows Up.
Dorian stands up to his father by opposing his proposal to expand the slave camps filled with the innocent of conquered foreign lands. Dorian's rage brings out his magic that he never knew he had and is desperate to hide it from everyone so he can't be executed by his father, the King. Dorian knows he's vastly outnumbered when it comes to his father's council, and yet he begins to fight back anyway. I worry about his newly arrived cousin. That guy has been positioned to become Dorian's confidant - he agrees with everything the prince says, while plotting behind his back.
An inconsistent heroine: Blood, death, intrigue - all on stage - and not a dress in sight. Celaena's far more tactful, except for a major and understandable incident - more on that later.
Celaena reached a gloved hand into the sack and tossed the severed head toward him. No one spoke as it bounced, a vulgar thudding of stiff and rotting flesh on marble. It rolled to a stop at the foot of the dais, milky eyes turned toward the ornate glass chandelier overhead.
Pages 221-3 of the UK paperback depict the most beautifully written fight scene - Celaena against multiple opponents as she infiltrates a building to save a kidnapped Chaol. Bloody and violent, yet graceful and beautiful. What follows is brilliantly written - more on this below.
"Enough! We have enough enemies as it is! There are worse things out there to face!" Calaena slowly turned to him, her face splattered with blood and eyes blazing bright. "No, there aren't." she said. "Because I'm here now."
Predictable: Much less so now. You get a feeling about certain people and situations but nothing is so painfully obvious that you're frustrated at what seems a slow pace or the ignorance of any characters. And there's a major incident I didn't see coming that has sad and disheartening ramifications - more on that in a moment.
'I wanted more action, politics and mystery...': I got all of these. There was no way I was DNFing this one.
****HUGE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT****
Part II Nehemia's death. Celaena runs full speed to Nehamia's aid when she found out about the threat to her best friend's life via Archer and Chaol, only to find a corpse in Nehamia's now blood spattered rooms, obviously tortured before she was killed. This tips our heroine into the blinding rage and agony of grief.
They had done this. Her bloody fingers slid down Dorian's face. to his neck. He just stared at her, suddenly still. "Celaena," that familiar voice said. A warning. They had done this. They had betrayed her. Betrayed Nehemia. They had taken her away. Her nails brushed Dorian's exposed throat. "Celaena," the voice said. Celaena slowly turned. Chaol stared at her, a hand on his sword. The sword she's brought to the warehouse - the sword she'd left there. Archer had told her that Chaol had known they were going to do this. He had known. She shattered completely, and launched herself at him.
It's absolutely heartbreaking, and I felt every second of it.
"You will never be my friend. You will always be my enemy." She bellowed that last word with such soul-deep hatred that he felt it like a punch to the gut.
Dorian accidentally uses magic to stop Celaena's blade from stabbing and killing Chaol. It turned out Archer had Nehemia killed - Celaena kills him.
Celaena can't bare to live without Nehemia so she tries to bring her back to life, all the while Nehemia's last words to her at the end of an argument ringing in her ears:
"You are nothing more than a coward."
Risking life and limb for others who've done nothing for her, isn't in Celaena's nature. Going against the King is to court the possible pain and death of those she's come to love. Understandably, relative safety is a valuable commodity to her. Nehemia challenging this hurt her deeply because she may seem a hardened, almost unfeeling assassin on the outside but her personal history has left her soft and vulnerable on the inside.
By opening a portal, Celaena is able to speak to Nehemia one last time where the princess reveals her level of dedication to her people; her last act of bravery, the ultimate self-sacrifice - her death would bring them hope of a better future.
"You will not understand yet, but... I knew what me fate was to be, and I embraced it. I ran toward it. Because it was the only way for things to begin changing, for events to be set in motion."
Chaol finds out Celaena is part fae (she can shift between forms) and has a shit-ton of raw magic. Chaol trades his position and a chance to be with Celaena again to send her away - back to the safety of the fae. He made a deal with his father - he has to return to his homeland to be heir again.
In the process, Chaol makes an enemy of Dorian because Dorian doesn't know she's fae with magic, too dangerous to be so close to the King, who executes magic users. Her mission is to execute the royal family of a land yet to fall to Dorian's father.
As Celaena is sailing away she gives Chaol a clue as to her real identity; his research reveals: she's the last queen of Terrasen - the only person who rally an army large enough to defeat Dorian's father.
I'm incredibly impressed by this sequel. The series has gone from 'abandoned' - until I heard about the improvements in this one - to 'must read the next one'. I will say, I'm disappointed that Chaol and Celaena have been broken apart by his mistake, grief and now distance, but it was done so well that I can't 'hate' this development. Bring on book #3 of 6, Heir of Fire....more
Beastly is a modern teenage version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast told from the Beast's point of view. This tale is of Kyle who pre-transformationBeastly is a modern teenage version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast told from the Beast's point of view. This tale is of Kyle who pre-transformation was a shallow, popular and very mean 16 year old and his growth afterwards as Adrian the Beast.
As the Beast he goes into deep philosophical thought over the meaning of beauty and truth, and finally learns to appreciate the simple things in life that he formerly took for granted. He becomes thoughtful and caring when he realises that he needs those around him, giving them the respect they deserve but also looks back at the person he was and the people he once chose to spend time with, deciding they never were his friends.
He uncovers the true people behind their online personnas which is a lesson to everyone especially the YA audience this is aimed at, that the nice 18 year old you met online could easily be a 12 year old school girl, a thirty year old cop or even a 50 year old man!
I love the cold reality of this book. The desperation of Kyle/Adrian's situation is fully realised when his thoughts turn to very dark possibilities. His father's selfishness and utter abandonment of his son even before his transformation and Lindy's father's drug habit and the lengths he goes to, to feed it are all very realistic.
After all my praise you're probably wondering what the reason is behind my two-star rating, which would be Adrian's developing love for Lindy. I didn't believe it. They seemed more like friends. I couldn't believe that their love would be enduring. After a gritty beginning, Adrian suddenly became very sappy and using the corny language from Lindy's favourite books. Considering that the relationship is a big part of this fairy tale, I found it lacking and extremely disappointing....more
Wow, I never expected such a great YA book! The story was so intricately woven with enough action to entertain even with the world-building necessaryWow, I never expected such a great YA book! The story was so intricately woven with enough action to entertain even with the world-building necessary for a first book.
My only real complaint was that there's so little interaction between Bryn and Chase. I was dying to know more about him and was desperate to see some "padding" in their relationship other than the basic connection they formed. The one-word sentences between them in animal-instinct-language weren't enough and to be honest became irritatingly repetitive after a while.
My feelings about Callum swang in different directions throughout the book but by the end they'd done a complete 360 degree circle. His life is tough. Navigating through the endless decisions he has to make and the resulting outcomes is an impossible task, and takes an incredible strength to cope with such a responsibility. I couldn't help but respect him but being on the receiving end of his manipulations probably doesn't feel good so I could completely identify with Bryn on that.
After such a strong start, I can only hope the sequel is as great. 4.5 stars....more
A cleverly written, Tim Burton-eque fast-paced magical mystery with witty dialogue, and a beautifully eye-catching cover.
Mr. Skullduggery Pleasant isA cleverly written, Tim Burton-eque fast-paced magical mystery with witty dialogue, and a beautifully eye-catching cover.
Mr. Skullduggery Pleasant is a vengeful detective, a living skeleton with a wicked way with sarcasm, introducing Stephanie (a.k.a. Valkyrie), an intelligent, resourceful, and inquisitive young girl, into the supernatural world her now deceased uncle was once apart.
The theatrically funny reactions of Stephanie's greedy family members to the reading of her bestselling author uncle's will hooked me into listening to Rupert Degas's masterful narration of Skullduggery Pleasant.
"There's something about you, Valkyrie. I'm not quit sure what it is. I look at you and..." "And you're reminded of yourself when you were my age?" "Hmm? Oh, no, what I was going to say is there's something about you really annoying, and you never do what you're told, and sometimes I question your intelligence, but even so I'm going to train you, because I like having someone follow me around like a puppy. It makes me feel good about myself." She rolled her eyes. "You are such a moron." "Don't be jealous of my genius." "Can you get over yourself for just a moment?" "If only that were possible." "For a guy with no internal organs, you've got quite the ego." "And for a girl who can't stand up without falling over, you're quite the critic." "My leg will be fine." "And my ego will flourish. What a pair we are."
I enjoyed SP and Stephanie's new and easy partnership in the supernatural detective business, saving the world from monstrous and magical bad guys, the first being Nefarian Serpine - the man who killed SP's wife and child, then tortured him to death. You see, he likes to leave a lot of bodies in his wake in his quest to bring back The Faceless Ones.
I wasn't particularly invested in the action, but I liked the way in which Stephanie learned how to navigate this new and interesting world, seizing opportunities, taking risks, and figuring out who she can and can't trust.
While many clichés are criticised by Landy, he still uses a fair few of them in his story, though Stephanie's endearing maturity, unexpected turncoats, the comedic elements, and the more violent and horrific aspects of the novel, do attempt to make up for it.
This sequel trilogy to Darkest Powers is mild in comparison. There's no lethal danger. (view spoiler)[No one dies. None of the kids anyway. (hide spoiThis sequel trilogy to Darkest Powers is mild in comparison. There's no lethal danger. (view spoiler)[No one dies. None of the kids anyway. (hide spoiler)] Sure, some are injured and there are some close calls but considering the stakes I'd expect there to be more casualties.
I like the character development in this one. None of them are perfect, even Maya and Daniel. Sam is my favourite with no filter on her mouth, willing to say what she really thinks of you to your face and doesn't apologise for it. She's gutsy and I like it. She also happens to be gay, not sure if that's stereotyping but anyway I sympathised with her back-story. Kenjii, Maya's dog, was also a comforting presence throughout -fiercely loyal and protective, the perfect scout when it came to detecting nearby cougars.
I wasn't as frustrated with this book as I was with The Gathering however, I still cannot stand Rafe. I wanted him out of the picture entirely and at one point I was cheering because I thought I'd got my way, then groaned. I don't understand why Maya constantly forgives him. Animal magnetism isn't enough. He may be doing the best he can under the circumstances, was even willing to sacrifice his life but his methods...he just rubs me up the wrong way.
Whilst Rafe was gone we got see how well Daniel and Maya worked together, how much they trusted each other and managed to care for and lead the group. And I don't think I was imagining it this time: Daniel has a thing for Maya and I think if Maya opened her eyes she might feel the same way, if it wasn't for Rafe. Even Sam noticed and almost outed Daniel's feelings. I hate love triangles but this is one of those extremely rare once-in-a-blue-moon moments where I'm hoping there is one. The only thing wrong with Daniel is his inability to tell Maya how he really feels about her and trying not to stand in the way of her and Rafe even when he gets bad feelings about him (his superpower, and he's usually right). He wants her to be happy.
This was a quick and easy read but I'm definitely not loving this trilogy as much as the first. I don't feel as sell-my-own-mother desperate to get my hands on The Rising as I did with The Reckoning. I can wait a year for the conclusion, even knowing we'll be seeing Derek, Chloe & Co. again. The plot and these characters just aren't as compelling.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
**spoiler alert** This one, I think, was the most harrowing and painful to read out of all three and I'm so glad it didn't get a happy, happy, happy e**spoiler alert** This one, I think, was the most harrowing and painful to read out of all three and I'm so glad it didn't get a happy, happy, happy ending. It was realistic and I liked it.
Even Katniss's nightmares, confusion and depression contributed to this being real. So many books ignores the repercussions that violence can have on it's characters.
Finnick. I fell hard for him and then...I was so upset. And to a lesser degree, Boggs which happened so fast. In the blink of an eye. Gone. War sucks. An understatement but I can't think of better words right now.
The choice of who Katniss was going to pick wasn't much of a choice in the end was it? And was only given 3 pages at the very end. I wasn't on the team that "won" her eventually but I accepted it. That there wasn't much between her and Gale made this easier even though I was dying for them to be together all the way through.
I thought it was funny that Snow's death happened without anyone watching, giving it less importance. I did want to know a little more about the aftermath of Coin's death and the trial though. I wanted Katniss to explain to them her reason for it and see everyone's reaction. I also needed to know some details of the Games with the Capitol's children and Katniss's views on it.
Toys. This word has meant different things throughout my life. Children’s toys, technological gadgets, sex toys (hehe!) and now...let’s just say theseToys. This word has meant different things throughout my life. Children’s toys, technological gadgets, sex toys (hehe!) and now...let’s just say these toys were not inanimate. And they screamed.
Rules. What are rules? There to be broken? Not if this is your mantra:
They became one person, John and Mr Monster. Controlling himself becomes almost impossible especially when Lauren brings her obnoxious and insulting boyfriend, Curt around and later turns up with a bruised face. In the words of the great Homer Simpson:
Oh no. Don’t do it. I can’t look, I can’t look. Oh shit! That was my mantra whilst reading this. Sometimes it lead to relief and others...(s)ick, (s)ick, (s)ick! Pyromania is much preferable (when no one gets hurt) over the torturing and killing of animals.
Curt deserved to die. What he did and what resulted from it –OMG. I was disgusted, appalled, sickened. Rot. In. Jail.
John’s stabbing fantasies featuring Brooke seemed Freudian. You know, instead of stabbing her with a knife he’d be...er, piercing her with... erm, his body but he wouldn’t allow himself to look at her breasts so I’m wondering if downstairs worked or received any attention. Come on, he is a healthy teenager! He did make a connection with Brooke though, one that didn’t involve pain and fear even though it wasn’t as strong as those. He enjoyed their dates so I was hoping for a little more between them before what happened, happened and denial got in the way. I would've been interested in seeing how their relationship progressed.
John’s obsession over the new murder victims and his need to be involved in the investigation felt repetitive and I wondered how he didn’t see that what he was doing was another classic serial killer mistake –getting too close to the cops. It was a touch predictable but seeing what John could be like in the future was an eye-opener.
Demon Serial Killer #2 had no emotions but was an empath, meaning he could feel others’. Clearly this demon was insane. Who collects and tortures toys women to feel their pain and fear? Why would you want to feel negative emotions? I understood his desire for a range of emotions though -everyone likes a little variety. I felt for his prey.
I was glad John got to experience what it was to be a victim. When he was faced with a situation where he could maim and kill without repercussions I was worried. He’s a killer of killers, and that's how it should remain. His decision means he’ll be getting his hunt on in a Supernatural-Dexter-X-Files kind of way.
Meh. The writing was pretty bad. It plainly said that it was unsure of its audience. One minute it read like it was for 9-year-olds and the next they'Meh. The writing was pretty bad. It plainly said that it was unsure of its audience. One minute it read like it was for 9-year-olds and the next they're talking about uncircumcised penises and people poking out the eyeballs of innocent children. (Those two things aren't related by the way. Just thought I'd let you know, in case you were wondering.)
I didn't care about Kaye's smoking, drinking, shoplifting and truancy etc. It didn't bother me because it was realistic, and I sympathised with the situation concerning her mother.
Kaye's sexuality seemed stifled even for a young adult book, which frustrated me because it was difficult to figure out whether she was actually attracted to Kenny or Roiben. Corny (what a nickname, but then who wants to be called Cornelius?) however - yay for a gay character who doesn't fit a particular stereotype. He's just an ordinary guy with insecurities.
But there was one thing that baffled me. One of Kaye's friends drowns but she doesn't think to give them mouth-to-mouth and try and revive them. Guess they weren't that good of a friend.
I liked the descriptions of the Unseelie Court and it's fey but most of the book was set in Ironside (our world). Kaye didn't slip down the rabbit hole until halfway, when I was about give up on this due to boredom.
Speaking of the rabbit hole, Tithe reminded me of Alice in Wonderland except Kaye/Alice is fey rather than human so she's an outsider in the human world despite growing up there and an outsider in the fey world because she doesn't understand all of the rules there.
The different elements of this book didn't really come together in a way that worked. It was unsatisfying. The highest praise I can give it: I love the beautifully striking cover accurately representing what's inside.
Out of the all the characters Roiben and Kaye's mother were the most fleshed out, the others were thin throwaways. The ideas in Tithe were interesting but the writing could've been better. I'm the first to admit that the fey aren't my favourite supernaturals but I didn't completely hate Black's incarnation of them. Despite my less than warm reception of the book, I do believe it would make a good movie (by Tim Burton?). I won't be reading the sequel....more
Sold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gaSold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gambling addict step-father and trafficked into India to become a prostitute in a brothel run by a woman with no morals. There, Lakshmi's body is sold for the price of a Coca-Cola - a luxury she'd once cherished as a poor country girl. When she'd left home, she'd believed she was to become a maid in a rich woman's household in the big city where she could save and send money home to her beloved mother and her baby brother. The reality is soul-crushing. She's told so many lies she doesn't know what to believe.
Justine Eyre's narration is wonderful. I truly believed she was from that part of the world, but it turns out she's just great with accents. I was transfixed by her voice. Lakshmi's pain and horror at her situation is palpable. What makes it worse: once a prostitute, always a prostitute. There's no going home to your family if you manage to escape. You'll be shunned for bringing shame and dishonour to them. The only way out is HIV and death. As Lakshmi's fellow prostitutes fall prey to these, she eventually becomes the one to have resided in the brothel the longest. She survives her sexually-transmitted disease and endures the daily humiliations in the hopes of one day being free.
My only criticism: that Americans were Lakshmi's saviours. The white man. Considering the Author's Note at the end, describing how ex-prostitutes patrol the Nepal-India border and the work of various organisations (like this one) who work with the governments of these nations, it would be much easier to infiltrate these despicable places if the 'rescuers' were Indian themselves.
Some of the teen-speak annoyed me as well as the assumptions and judgements about others. I don't remember being that bad as a teenager. Also I feel lSome of the teen-speak annoyed me as well as the assumptions and judgements about others. I don't remember being that bad as a teenager. Also I feel like I all ready know what will take place in the sequel, I'm not sure whether that was the intention of the authors to make it obvious but anyway other than that it was an okay book. ...more
Wow, I’m so glad I acquired all six of the books (out so far) at the same time. The cliffhanger ending left me so hungry for more that as soon as I fiWow, I’m so glad I acquired all six of the books (out so far) at the same time. The cliffhanger ending left me so hungry for more that as soon as I finished Glass Houses I started reading The Dead Girls’ Dance right after just so I could find out what happened next. For a young adult book and a first in a series I was impressed, it’s rare to find any series that starts with a bang.
I didn’t have a problem with Claire that others have expressed. Her attitude was justified, moving away from home to go to university is tough and to do it at sixteen as a child prodigy must be even harder especially when you are being targeted by a group of murderous bullies. If you wouldn’t feel scared and depressed in that situation then you’re a robot. She was entitled to a little whining.
I haven’t read the whole of Caine’s Weather Warden series but I did read the first book, Ill Wind which wasn’t really something I could get into so if you couldn’t get into it either then you may want to give the Morganville Vampire series a try though I have to warn you it is addictive! ...more
Refreshingly nerdy. This is The Big Bang Theory crossed with Bones (TV series based on Reich’s books). Nerdilicious.
Reichs does not talk down to herRefreshingly nerdy. This is The Big Bang Theory crossed with Bones (TV series based on Reich’s books). Nerdilicious.
Reichs does not talk down to her audience. This book is all about science and technology and the era of the digital age. The author is a real-life respected scientist so happily, for once, I can say that the science is real and the leaps made into the unknown/paranormal seem plausible. This is authentic science fiction. Take that, I Am Number Four!
Although slow to start, 14-year-old Tory’s alpha personality is established straight away. She’s a mature girl who knows what she wants. Reich’s writing style was punchy, concise and intriguing. Yes, the beginning was heavy with description which is par for the course when it comes to world-building but once that was out of the way it was action, action, action.
Although I predicted small parts of the story, there were still red herrings which diverted me. Often in YA the obvious is the answer and I’m pleased Reich’s didn’t go that route. Not everyone and everything is what they seem. Real mystery.
The main characters are intelligent sponges, soaking up information wherever they find it. Knowledge is valued and utilised at every opportunity, and I appreciated every bit of it. Tory, into natural and biological science; Shelton, the geeky-looking mechanic and general gadget master; Ben, the athletic strong silent type; and Hiram (or Hi), the overweight guy with a penchant for sarcasm and probably the weakest, physically and mentally – are all valued members of a tight knit team. They are real friends who do not judge each other over every little thing: they listen, contribute and help each other whenever they can. Despite being forged by necessity living on a tiny island together and forced to go to school with rich kids, they have strong and lasting bonds, not superficial alliances in the petty games of teenage wars.
I enjoyed the contrasting elements of rich vs poor, brains vs popularity, adults vs teens, and the demonstration of those who cling on to their social group at the exclusion and ridicule of others are ignorant and small-minded. And that some things are more important than money and social class, like say, morals and ethics.
Perhaps I have an exceptionally dirty mind, something I have been accused of once or twice, or maybe the author has a sense of humour but names like Cummings Point and Hyman's Seafood had me in fits of laughter.
Also, the number of crimes committed in the book is ludicrous. These teens are criminal geniuses when it comes to B&E and theft. Luckily they’re on the side of good. If evil, they’d be unstoppable. At times, I did find their simplicity and ease with which they committed their criminal acts a little unbelievable but I shrugged and moved on.
I am curious by a few things. What’s behind the animosity between Ben and Jason? Will they become rivals for Tory’s attention/affection? Oh yes, I forgot: there is little romance here, perhaps a crush or two but nothing more. In YA these days, this is rare but very welcome when the plot isn’t contingent upon it.
There is a self-contained story, no cliffhangers, and a reminder that not all teens are vapid, immature airheads who can’t survive without conforming, not to mention needing an I-can’t-live-without-you romantic love interest hanging in the balance. Some can be witty with talent and a bright future. People I’d like to know.
This is not perfect. It was slow to start, I’m not strongly attached to the characters and the story does feel a little far-fetched at times but I was entertained and impressed by the science and the forthright nature of Tory and her merry men.
Virals engages the brain. It is nerd candy. And I need more....more
City of Glass was so much better than the first two books. The first third was blah, the second third the action ramped up, then I got to page 369 - tCity of Glass was so much better than the first two books. The first third was blah, the second third the action ramped up, then I got to page 369 - the revelation that implied a possible happy ending, I was glued to the book from then on.
***Major Spoilers Warning***
I really loved Alec and Magnus in this especially their public display of affection in the hall and Alec introducing Magnus to his parents - finally.
Loved Simon's joke about Sebastian and Jace that Clary was appalled at: “So technically,” Simon said, “even though Jace isn’t actually related to you, you have kissed your brother.” He always manages to sum everything up so well. Sebastian was certainly creepy. He knew Clary was his sister but he still tried to seduce her. Ick.
I also loved Raziel's line to Clary after he did some smiting of the arrogant and presumptuous Valentine: ‘That was the justice of heaven. I trust that you are not dismayed.’ Brilliant.
Oh and when Jace and Clary are sleeping hand in hand before the night before the battle - that was sweet and so were the many touching moments they had together.
Although I liked this book there were still some things that annoyed me. I wondered why Clary didn’t come up with a rune that meant “awake” to help her mother, or may be she tried and I missed that bit.
Clary was given plenty of clues as to what Jace was throughout the books most notably Ithurial’s vision of Jace with angel wings. I had an idea when the Inquisitor died for Jace in book two, she wouldn’t have done that if she thought he was evil. Plus his physical abilities that no other Shadowhunter seemed to have.
On top of that Clary knew there was something wrong with Sebastian but she didn’t question his interest in her until much later. Things like this made me quite impatient for Clary and the others to realise these truths.
This third book made reading the first two worth it. A brilliant end to the trilogy.
As YA dragon books go Flying Blind is better than Firelight.
First of all, I should say that Flying Blind is a spin-off of the adult series which I havAs YA dragon books go Flying Blind is better than Firelight.
First of all, I should say that Flying Blind is a spin-off of the adult series which I haven't read. I believe this has been reflected negatively in my rating because I got the distinct feeling I was missing some vital information.
The protagonist is likeable, funny and loyal, and she does everything right. In desperate need of information about her destiny and her abilities as the Wyvern (female dragon shifter) for her generation, she goes to knowledgeable sources like her parents and their friends and the rest of her extended family but no matter what she asks or how much she pleads they give her very little and tell her to figure it out for herself at dragon Boot Camp, basically a summer school for young dragons. Now I'm all for children learning things on their own through trial and error to make the lesson they learn more meaningful but in this case it was downright criminal and mean to do this to poor Zoe. There are limits. It was bordering on neglectful and dangerous for both her and others. She almost killed her friends because she had no idea how to control her power. And this isn't the first time I've read a YA book where adults or people in the know withhold vital information from those that desperately need it, and I'm sick of it. And where were the adults when the kids needed them? Getting their asses handed to them by mages the kids knew nothing about despite them being enemies for I don't know how long. Ugh. But this isn't the only reason why this didn't get a higher rating.
Zoe's cousins and friends had no faith or trust in Zoe whatsoever. How could they even call themselves her friends? It didn't take long for them to turn on her, heaping everything on her shoulders, blaming her for things she couldn't control and not one of them asked her how she felt, what she was having trouble with or how they could help her. No, it was just "I want you to do this for me", "I want you to do that for me", so selfish. She had but one defender though it was implied he had a special ability that meant he could see the truth of things more easily.
The Pyr mythology is interesting and the humorous way the book is written meant this was a breeze to read. I was a little uncomfortable with the romance aspect of things because I wasn't quite clear on the age difference between Zoe and her beau. It may have been only three years (Zoe's 15) but I got the impression it was more. However, the romance isn't the main aspect of the book and there's very little angst.
Isabelle confused me a bit. Although she's set up as competition in the battle for Nick's affection so Zoe automatically dislikes her which comes through loud and clear, I hated Isabelle, too. She was overly earnest and way too helpful. I found her behaviour suspect. No one is that nice. I kept waiting for her dark side to show itself. I was also flummoxed by the prophecy that Nick and Zoe would one day be together when in fact dragon lore states that male and female dragons can never form relationships. Colour me confused.
I didn't particularly like the plot, mainly because it showed the majority of the characters in an extremely negative light, in effect discouraging you from liking them and made them appear weak and stupid. I think I would've been better off reading the adult series first so I could get a better grounding and understanding of the world-building and of the dragon history and mythology.
Flying Blind was an average read for me, nothing supremely outstanding about it except it's lack of angst, love triangles and all-consuming romance, which I suppose does mean it stands out from the crowd after all. ;)...more