I just finished STEELHEART and it was amazing. When I realized my library had the sequel, as well as the bonus short story, I immediately put both on hold.
MITOSIS takes place immediately after the events of STEELHEART, so if you haven't read STEELHEART yet don't read this book or it will spoil all the twists for you.
David and The Reckoners (that sounds kind of like a band) are dealing with the consequences of their killing the Epics. Newcago is still very afraid, and struggling to survive. They want to teach the people they have nothing to fear, but such bravery is still a huge risk when another Epic could take control at any time.
The villain in MITOSIS is an Epic of the same name, who is capable of self-replication. He has heard that David is the one who murdered Steelheart and is convinced that it's a cover-up for a larger scheme. He wants to find out the truth...and then kill David.
Which will totally happen, unless David's crew can find out his weakness in time.
I'm giving this four stars because even though it was so fucking short, it did contribute to the storyline and had great suspense for what was essentially thriller. I wouldn't have purchased it myself, but I'm very happy I was able to read it for free courtesy of my lovely local library.
A PROUD TASTE FOR SCARLET AND MINIVER will always be my favorite book by this author. It is the book that first introduced me to the woman who is now one of my favorite historical figures of all time: Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Nothing else can compete.
THE OUTCASTS OF 19 SCHUYLER PLACE is an interesting idea (that might be based off a true story?). Margaret Rose Kane has just come home early from a summer camp where she's been bullied by her fellow campers and (inadvertently) the camp director. She was rescued by her uncles, two Hungarian brothers who live together in a New York Suburb called Epiphany.
The uncles are eccentric. Alex is the glib, witty one and Morris is the grouchy one who is secretly a marshmallow. They kind of have an Ernie and Bert/Abbot and Costello type of relationship: one that's filled with tons of fighting and repartee, to the point where you might think that they genuinely hated each other if they didn't willingly spend so much time in the other's company.
One of their facets of eccentricity are three towers that they have built in their backyard out of found objects. The towers are about 45 years old, older than Margaret or her mother, and a point of fascination with Margaret. Unfortunately, they are also a point of contention with the local Home Owners' Association and the Historical Society, who think that the towers not only don't hold true to the historical accuracy of the "Old Town" atmosphere, but they are also dangerous and unsightly, and as a result, they are bringing down property values. Margaret decides that she is going to save the towers, but in order to do it she needs the help of a motley assortment of individuals.
THE OUTCASTS is a book with some pretty mature concepts considering that the narrator is only 12. You don't usually see middle grade books with such important messages that also have such a heavily adult cast (seriously--so many of the supporting cast in this book are adults). I did appreciate how this book went about showing how you can make a difference, and what some of the consequences of protests are (arrest, asshole demolition men/cops, nice cops, legal involvement etc.).
My biggest problem with this book was probably Margaret. She was overly precious and precocious and I just did not like her one bit. She was annoying, and rather than being impressed or inspired by her, I found myself becoming incredibly annoyed with her.
Also, despite a rather big cast, I felt Konigsburg only really scraped the surface of her characters. Some of them were so interesting, and I would have liked to have seen them get more air time.
When I was a kid, I would watch Pokemon every day after school. There was a time when I had pretty much all of the original episodes on VHS tape, and we watched several of them until they fell apart. Like other 90s kids, I was obsessed.
Even now, Pokemon is still something I remember with fond nostalgia, and continue to indulge in from time to time. I still have my Gameboy Color, and occasionally I'll play Yellow Version just so I can watch Pikachu follow me around all over Kanto as we fill up our Pokedex and triumph over evil Team Rocket. One of my ex-boyfriends, knowing my fondness for the franchise, bought me a Pikachu Pillowpet that continues to sleep on my bed to this day.
When I saw this graphic novel and its sequel for sale in a thrift shop, I couldn't resist. Even though it looked about twenty years too young for me, even though I'm not a fan of shounen style manga, I bought both and took them home with me.
And you know what? I'm really glad I did.
POKEMON ADVENTURES serves as a tie-in between the games and the TV show. For example, it's got the Pokemon fan club from the game, but also employs the "reluctant Pikachu" storyline from the TV show. Also, Ash is named "Red" and Gary is named "Blue." I think this particular manga is more loyal to the game, rather than the TV show, and it works surprisingly well in serialized form.
Ash is a young boy who catches and trains Pokemon. His starter is a Poliwhirl that he raised from a Poliwag--it evolved to save him from drowning when he was a small boy (I thought that was really sweet). After a collision with Team Rocket and a glimpsing of Mew in the nearby Viridian Forest, he goes to Professor Oak's lab in order to find out how to be a better trainer...
And that's how this story begins.
The way the Pokemon are drawn is incredibly cute. I love how expressive they were, and how each one had its own personality. Ash is also less of a douche in this book than he is in the show, and even though I didn't think it was possible, they made Misty even cooler--she's like a cross between a Disney Princess and Leela from Futurama: fancy dresses, fancy mansion, and vengefully kick-ass.
I was really surprised by the emotional depth in this book. The storyline moved really fast (almost rushing, to be honest) but the author and the artist still managed to give a sense of humanity (or Pokemanity) to all of the characters. There were some creepy moments, too. Zombie Pokemon. And yes, they are just as creepy as they sound. If that was in the TV show, I'd have nightmares. o_o
There are some creative licenses taken with this storyline that I'm not quite sure how I feel about...like what they did with Koga and Lt. Surge. But overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. This is a keeper--oh, and it's supposedly on Edelweiss now, too!
Two types of books consistently have the best cover art: vintage romance novels and Korean manhwa. One look at this cover and it was love at first sight. Seriously, look at those soft lines, those pastels, that gorgeous outfit. I would so frame this.
I didn't even care that this was book three in a series.
HISSING is kind of like a cross between PEACH GIRL and BOYS OVER FLOWERS--it's one of those shoujo dramas about bitchy, vengeful girls and alpha douchebags, with one hapless, innocent, "good" girl caught in the middle.
I knew this, going into the book. It's not my favorite trope--not unless a shit-ton of character development and wtfuckery drama goes into it (see Hana Yori Dango)--but I couldn't resist.
LOOK AT THAT COVER.
Resistance was futile from the start.
The alpha douchebag in question is a boy named Sun-Nam, which is an ironic name because it means "kindness" and "man." Of course, the heroine's name is ironic too because hers is "Da-Eh", which means "a lot" and "love."
Sun-Nam has issues. His father is dead and he feels like he's responsible for that: something his brothers (I think they're his brothers) do nothing to dissuade him from. Also his mother might possibly be crazy? Anyway, he has a thing for Da-Eh, but for whatever reason he's "dating" a girl named Ha-Ra who looks a lot like Da-Eh, but is her complete opposite personality-wise.
When she tries to initiate sex between them, Sun-Nam calls Ha-Ra a slut and a skank and tells her "you totally turn me off!" A few days later, he confesses his love to Da-Eh, and then suddenly they're going out? There's another weird blonde guy who also has a thing for Da-Eh, but gives off major creepster vibes (like Ryo, from Peach Girl). She also has a weird awk friend who likes her.
Oh, and Ha-Ra wants to get revenge against Da-Eh with her coven of friendos, possibly involving beatings and acts of gross humiliation that can only be stopped by male intervention.
I don't even know what to make of this. It felt very short. I think it was short, because the last twenty pages or so are actually a preview of another manhwa called FOREST OF GRAY CITY. I should also point out that the art inside the book isn't really anything like the art of the cover. It is much more simplistic, and the proportions of the characters are odd--freakishly long torsos with boxy shoulders on both the men and the women. Also, their hands are huge. o_o
Here's a picture to show what I mean. Look at those proportions.
HISSING is also offensive on multiple levels. Da-Eh calls someone retarded. Ha-Ra accuses Sun-Nam of being queer, since why else wouldn't he want to sleep with her? Sun-Nam calls Ha-Ra a slut and a skank, and he also says that Da-Eh has "chinky" eyes.
IT'S FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY, Y'ALL.
I'm keeping this because of the pretty cover, and if I see other books in this series I'll probably buy them, because I am a sucker, but this certainly won't be topping any of my favorites lists.
Maybe if you like shoujo...although you'd be better off reading PEACH GIRL or HANA YORI DANGO.
You don't talk about your potentially ruinous scandal.
The second rule of the Romance Novel:
You don't talk about your potentially ruinous scandal.
Oh, romance novels. You thrive on miscommunication, don't you? Where would you be without it? Plotless...and about 200 pages shorter, methinks.
I've been on an HR binge & it's been absolutely glorious. In fact, I think I may have found my niche as a consumer. HR romances!
THE MISTAKE is a wallpaper historical that I believe is regency--that woman in the prom dress on the cover doesn't really provide an accurate time stamp. It is about a woman named Julia Forsythe who is a famous courtesan, and her childhood friend Adam Radcliffe, who has been carrying the torch for her for all these years but can't quite come to terms with her new profession.
Adam and Julia grew up together. Both were poor, and both were pretty much orphans. Adam's father fucked off, leaving his wife alone to raise a ton of kids & Julia's father was a neglectful and embittered alcoholic who never got over the deaths of his wife and son.
In a twist that is Sparksian in its predictable inevitability, the two of them fall in love. But even more Sparksian: they can't be together because of Reasons. Specifically money.
And then, later, scandal.
Flash forward fifteen years and Julia is now the mistress of a ruthless Marquess who doesn't love her but doesn't want to lose her, either. Unfortunately, she's pregnant and out of options. He forces her into a contract saying that he won't provide for their child unless she is basically his sex slave, so Julia takes a draught that makes her vomit, and the Marquess, thinking her ill, sends her off to the countryside to get better so they can pork to his heart's content knowing she is miserable.
And then...Julia finds out that the gardener of this countryside estate is...Adam.
SURPRISE! (said no one reading this book)
In spite of its predictability, I actually quite enjoyed THE MISTAKE. Julia is a courtesan and has slept with multiple men. She has mixed feelings about this, obviously, and given the context of the times, I get this. She wants to believe herself self-sufficient, but she also has to deal with the snubs of society and the cat-calls and harassment of men who think she's an object.
The angst was quite well done, too. Even if it seemed unnecessary, the emotions felt genuine, which gets the author brownie points in my book. One of the problems I have with Julia Quinn, for example, is that her characters have miscommunication issues AND they act in ways seemingly without motive. With THE MISTAKE, I always understood where the characters were coming from.
Julia being awesome:
"You cannot watch me like I'm the hated whore of Babylon one minute and then become protective of me the next. I am not two different women. I can't be a whore AND an innocent fourteen year old" (74).
"It's unfair, isn't it?...If a man said he'd known five lovers, no one would even blink an eye. But even one lover makes a woman a whore" (172).
I couldn't quite find myself willing to join Team Adam, though. He was kind of a dick. Very judgmental and slut-shamey and selfish, imho. He obviously thinks he's a Nice Guy but there are tons of women out there who can attest to receiving flash judgments from Nice Guys who were pissed off about their niceness tokens not working in sex vending machines.
He couldn't reconcile the vivacious, innocent girl with the jaded whore (33).
Here's the thing: I have absolutely no problem reading about dub-con. It just has to be done well.
I am not so fond of sadism. I get that this is a kink for some people. Okay. More power to them (literally). But it is not something I am at all interested in giving or receiving.
This book has both of these things, and they are done very, very, very badly.
I am very sorry to say this because CAPTIVE, MINE started out really well. I was actually impressed. I thought--hoped--that I would end up giving this book a decent rating.
And then the first sex scene happened, and everything went straight to hell.
Lily is the daughter of an infamous drug lord. When he gets busted by the cops, they make him a deal: if he rats out his slightly eviler partner, and testifies against him, they will give him a free pass, send him on his merry way into the Witness Protection Program, and pretend he doesn't exist.
It's a good deal, so obviously, he takes it.
Lily is put under protection so the other drug lord doesn't use her as collateral. Hired to protect her is an ex-SEAL named Lake, who then double-crosses to turn Lily over to the drug lord. But then he double-crosses again, and shoots the man picking her up, taking her to his cabin in the woods.
Where he then rapes her repeatedly.
Except...well, Lily likes it. A lot. Way too much, actually.
LILY. LILY WHAT ARE YOU DOING.
It starts out with a spanking. Multiple spankings while they're in the car, because Lake doesn't think she's obedient enough. Then in the cabin, he makes her strip in one of the most uncomfortable scenes I have read in a while, taunting her about all the ways he can rape her as she takes off her clothes.
She started out as so resourceful, and I found myself thinking, "Okay, so this is going to have dub-con, but at least she'll be one of those heroines who gives as good as she gets."
Well...maybe the bad guy will be a really bad guy, and her psychological breakdown will be well-done, at least?
NOPE. He's secretly a nice guy, you see. He's just a bit messed up over the death of his wife.
SO HE TURNED INTO A RAPIST TO AVENGE HER DEATH. THIS MAKES PERFECT SENSE. OKAY. THE BOOK CAN BEGIN NOW. I UNDERSTAND.
There is a lot of anal punishment in this book, too. After having sex with her, he gets angry with her again and threatens to whip her. She avoids the whipping by agreeing to anal (well, not really agreeing...she said she would do anything, which is never a good thing to say in the vicinity of sex-crazed psychopaths because they will take this as consent), and Lake lubes up with a bottle of olive oil and gets down to business. And by business, I mean her butthole.
I find Stockholm Syndrome fascinating. I wouldn't mind reading books about it if they actually did a good job portraying psychological distress. But Lily gets aroused by the spankings right away. She cries during the rapes, and then immediately afterwards is like, "Hmm! That was actually good sex! Please, Sir, may I have some more?" During her first (unwilling) experience with anal, she hardly hurts at all (not nearly as much as she should) and even has an orgasm.
And I am just sitting here like, THIS IS NOT BDSM. THIS IS NOT A ROMANCE. THIS IS NOT HOW SEX WORKS. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?
More sex happens, and it had me wincing. I got really tired of Lake saying that a lubricated vagina is synonymous with consent, because it really isn't. Not that he'd care. At one point, he leashes her and makes her go to the bathroom outside while he watches and gets his jollies on at the total power trip.
Again, some people get off on pet play. This is not my cup of tea, but if it's consensual...that's your business. This was not consensual. She didn't like it.
Also, this book gets points for some of the most creatively unsexy words I've seen used in a while to describe human anatomy. "Umbilicus." "Back hole." "Dark slot." At one point, the male love interest "wails" on Lily's ass. Oh, you don't have an ass fetish? Don't worry, Lily's ass only makes a cameo 23423423 times, and gets roughly 50% of the narrative description in this book.
The book ends with them saying how much they love each other, and talking about how excited they are for the baby Lily is apparently going to have.
Dear God, they're breeding.
Where is my trashcan? I think I'm going to be sick.