The best thing about Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series – and there are many wonderful things abouRead the full review at Working for the Mandroid
The best thing about Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series – and there are many wonderful things about this series – is her domineering leading lady. Even on the occasions when she needs to be rescued, she never backs down and still usually remains a thorn in her enemy’s side until everything returns to her liking. When facing entrapment within a burning warehouse district, only Alexia would think to bust a street lamp and use her parasol to hit a burning coal into a warehouse full of fireworks to alert people of her plight. She is always finding herself in the most ridiculous, unladylike of situations, and she always comes out on top. Alexia Maccon is my hero.
One of Carriger’s best skills, other than her world building and her fantastically colorful characters, is her ability to turn a phrase. With a slight tweak to the vocabulary, a somewhat innocuous common day saying turns into something giggle worthy. Made up words seem real in the context of her world. Describing a werewolf who can’t control his changing as suffering from “premature transfluctuation” showcases her clever word play and her ability to plug in a nonsense word and it make sense, as though transfluctuation is a word you often hear in conversation.
This incredibly stylized form of writing might be an acquired taste, but I find Carriger a clever story teller, using her third person narration to fill in the world she’s created. She is able to explore the thoughts and feelings of Alexia without the limited and often indulgent use of first person narration. Her use of language is a mix of modern and Victorian that allows the story to have the classic feel needed for the time period it’s set in while not ever becoming stuffy like a lot of actual Victorian novels.
From beginning to end, it’s ridiculous. The plot is ridiculous. The characters are ridiculous. But that’s what makes it so much fun. The image of two Victorian dandies tossing an eight month pregnant woman from balcony to balcony is funny. Knowing that, in the end, this waddling, tired, mother-to-be will save the day while almost always irritating her husband is part of the charm. And in the end, Carriger still managed to surprise me. I love when I can’t exactly predict the ending and I love what she chose to do with Alexia’s baby. That should make the fifth and final book even more intriguing. ...more
This book was nothing like I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a sort of silly story that happened to have characters that duplicated as classic monsters all sort of tangled together in one large story verging on the convoluted. Monsters of LA is nothing like that. For one thing it’s a collection of short stories (and one longer novella) taking place in the same world with subtle interconnectedness. Some secondary characters show up in multiple stories, particularly a professor of folklore and legend, while other stories mention occurrences from previous stories that would have made the news. Despite the monster-ness of it all, the stories are believable and very grounded in reality of the strange world we live in.
I can buy people at the La Brea tar pits thinking that a monster crawling out of the ooze is part of a publicity stunt for a movie until he starts ripping people apart. Or a story of a veteran soldier who was pieced back together into a form of Frankenstein’s monster only to find himself living despondently on the streets. Some of the stories were even a little heartbreaking, like “The Hunchback”, which involved a bullied high school student attempting to turn The Hunchback of Norte Dame into a musical, and “The Invisible Woman” that might have felt just a little too familiar. And I’ve never wanted to hit a “ghost hunter” in the face more than in “The Haunted House” or give a house a hug for that matter. Can you give hugs to houses?
My favorite of all the stories was of Dracula, an old famous movie star, who finds himself being upstaged by a younger costar. I should have seen where it was going, but perhaps I was reading too fast to notice the little clues. I don’t think it would have mattered anyway; I would have ended up laughing out loud at the end whether I saw it coming or not.
Another favorite was the tale of the Mad Scientist, a man playing God in the attempt to bring his wife back from a deadly car crash. The repercussions of this very short story pop up in the background of a few other stories before coming to a conclusion in the Zombie tale, which Morton talked about a bit in her guest post yesterday. Her version of zombies is different and the explanation of how they became what there were was fascinating in a science geek sort of way. I want to know more about her manobots and their effect on humans.
Morton also manages to make clowns even creepier than they actually are. I strongly suggest to all people who dress up like clowns to stay away from me because I might attempt to beat them down with a baseball bat to see if they bleed cotton candy. I will also avoid all stores with giant clown signs. It’s probably for the safety of all other people for them to do the same. ...more
A spinster with no soul with the power to turn supernatural beings into humans again gets tied up in a plot that finds rogue vampires and werewolves dA spinster with no soul with the power to turn supernatural beings into humans again gets tied up in a plot that finds rogue vampires and werewolves disappearing.
I was sold on this book the moment I read that she fought supernatural beings with a brass umbrella. Yes, Alexia is a total Mary Sue, good at everything, loved and/or adored by all the men that she spends any considerable time with,and more knowledgeable and clever that everyone else. Despite that and the addition of a grumpy Alpha werewolf that seemed like the male lead in just about any bad romance novel, I really enjoyed this book. It was light, fun fluff that made me giggle and smile even just thinking about it between readings. There were no big surprises or twists, but that's okay. It was still a fun read.
Gail Carriger is a great world builder, setting the tone of the universe very early on and adding details that made the world even more believable. I'm looking forward to the sequel for another fun romp through this universe with these characters....more
This book is seriously creepy. I didn't follow some of the religious aspects of it because it is heavily steeped in religious mythology, but it was stThis book is seriously creepy. I didn't follow some of the religious aspects of it because it is heavily steeped in religious mythology, but it was still a really good horror story....more
I don't know if it's because I listened to the first book on CD during my daily commutes or what, but this one was so much better than City of Bone. TI don't know if it's because I listened to the first book on CD during my daily commutes or what, but this one was so much better than City of Bone. The male characters weren't so annoying. There was more Magnus Bane. And Clary herself was far less Mary Sue-ish, though her hot and cold "relationship" with Simon did get a little confusing. And of course, Valentine is a hypocritical jackass. Nothing new there. Then there's the Inquisitor, who existed just to not make sense it seemed. Her motives seemed to slip and slide, but whatever.
And of course demon armies are always exciting.
Something I do notice more when reading than listening are the little inconsistencies. A character drops something and never picks it back up, but has it moments later. A character was sleeping and yet has a jacket on the next page. I don't know. Maybe Jace always sleeps with his jacket on. It's kind of funny, like when you're watching a movie and someone has taken their coat off in one shot and when the camera angle changes, they're taking it off again.
New super powers were fun. The pushing of the (currently) incestuous relationship was surprising, if not beating me over the head that in the end they won't really be siblings at all.
Not desperate to get the next book in the series, but I did enjoy this one and liked that I had the chance to read large chunks of it at a time. It's intriguing and much better than most of the YA books popular when I was of the intended audience's age range....more
In Changeless, the focus moves from squarely on Alexia to the werewolf pack she has married into and the mysterious “illness” that has caused some supIn Changeless, the focus moves from squarely on Alexia to the werewolf pack she has married into and the mysterious “illness” that has caused some supernatural creatures to become human again. Because she is soulless and has the power to cause the same effect, Alexia is of course the perfect person to figure this whole mystery out. In her search for her suddenly missing husband, she ends up in his homeland of Scotland where his former pack seems to be facing a potentially pack-threatening disaster. And, of course, even stuck in the uncivilized country of Scotland, Alexia is an entertaining character with funny observations and witty repartee with everyone around her. It should get annoying, but for some reason, it just doesn’t. It’s the magic of Gail Carriger.
A large chunk of volume two takes place on a dirigible with an oddball group of characters that really shouldn’t be traveling together. Someone is, of course, still attempting to poison/maim/kill Alexia due to her soulless condition, and she keeps managing to avoid being poisoned/maimed/killed. The witty banter and twist on Victorian literature that made the first novel so much fun continues and expands to a wider set of supporting characters. Best friend Ivy still has her hideously ugly hats, but has also perhaps found love with a budding actor (and potential future werewolf). Alexia’s sister somehow ends up in the midst of things also and remains delightfully annoying and full of herself.
Carriger’s storytelling is lightning fast, but at the same time, she puts in minute details that become important later on. It’s clever story telling that most paranormal romance novels just don’t seem to have with the added benefit of fun gadgets, cagey supporting characters and a delightfully strange mystery. It ends on a cliffhanger that had my sister-in-law on the verge of buying the third book to read on her iPhone because I didn’t have my copy on me when she finished....more
**spoiler alert** This was your standard young adult urban fantasy series starter. Werewolves and vampires wandered around, hunters hunted things and**spoiler alert** This was your standard young adult urban fantasy series starter. Werewolves and vampires wandered around, hunters hunted things and talked big only to turn out to be sensitive little snowflakes when all was said and done. There were twists telegraphed hundreds of pages before and in the end, when the last disc was scratched and skipped sections at a time, you don't really miss anything.
Somewhere around disc five (of 12), I got a weird Star Wars vibe from this book. Not because it was necessarily exciting or captivating like Star Wars, but something about the relationships made me try to figure out who Han Solo was supposed to be out of this cast of characters. Needless to say, when all was said and done, I'd already figured out the twist reveal and how all the characters were really related to each other.
The only thing I hadn't figured out was that Valentine was impersonating the real father Whellon. I figured he'd just past Jace off to one of his underlings to raise in order to prevent him from dying. And how did he really expect his son and daughter (not to mention his comatose wife) to forget that he's a murderous dick and run away with him back to their homeland when the rest of the clave would inevitable come after them, wanting blood.
Anyway, it was a good light listen for hour long commutes and I'll probably read the second book to see if it remains so predictable and to see if Simon becomes as likable as he was at the very beginning of this one. I like his geek references and sarcasm....more
There’s nothing really unique about this book. We have a teenage girl, who finds out she’s inadvertentRead the full review at Working for the Mandroid
There’s nothing really unique about this book. We have a teenage girl, who finds out she’s inadvertently involved in a society she had no idea existed. We have the love triangle that splits said teenage girl between her old life and her new one. We have an excessively long set of scenes that read like a training montage from an 80s movie, just really drawn out. Then of course there’s the whole “vampire” thing. What could have still been an interesting story was marred by a set of unlikable characters and pacing issues that had nearly all the action occurring in the last three chapters.
Our protagonist is a high school girl named Brooke, who finds out that she’s half “vampire” and because of that, some people in the “vampire” community want her dead. Brooke has a crush on this guy, Jaren, who is a complete indecisive ass for most of the book, and her best friend Kaitlynn is trying to get her through the everyday trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl. All of this is fine and could have been the building blocks to an interesting if middle-of-the-road YA vampire novel. Instead Brooke is one of the most wishy-washy, bi-polar main characters I’ve read about recently. She’s the type of girl who thinks if she pretends something isn’t happening, it will go away. Rather than going from a typical teenage girl to a potentially strong character that accepts the challenges ahead of her, she cries. A lot. Nearly every single chapter. I am not even kidding. In nearly every single chapter, Brooke either starts bawling or is holding back tears. I almost wanted to start a drinking game.
Then there’s Brooke’s ability to go from woe-is-me-the-world-is-ending misery to “Oh, this is my favorite song EVER! Let’s sing and dance and have a good time!” so quickly that I nearly got whiplash. I could ignore it had it happened once, but there were a number of times when Brooke was in world-ending despair and then, a few lines later, suddenly laughing and having a good time. I get that teenage girls aren’t always the most consistent people in the world, but it seemed too “fit the character’s emotions to what I need the story to do” and not “let the story develop organically from the characters”.
Going along with the previous observation, I just have to state that if I ever find myself in mortal peril, the very last thing I will be thinking about is whether or not to make out with the hot vampire guy who is helping me escape....more
First off, I have to admit that this took me four months to read. Part of it was that it was an ebook, so I couldn't read it for long spans of time. EFirst off, I have to admit that this took me four months to read. Part of it was that it was an ebook, so I couldn't read it for long spans of time. Even if I had been able to, I don't think I would have wanted to. I was very unimpressed with this book. There was very little character growth and even less world building.
Main character Kita is originally a shapeshifter who turns into a small cat, but in some vaguely described incident that occurred in the first book, she is now also a vampire. A very whiny, Mary Sue vampire. Despite trouble following her around, everyone seems to be fascinated with her and almost all of the main male characters want her. She's whiny and petulant like a child, and yet you're supposed to be on her side. At the same time, you have Nathaniel, her sire, who is the strong silent type. And that generic stereotype is about all we know about him. All the other characters who are given any amount of page space to make an impression are similar stereotypes - the maniacal, possessive Tatius, the quietly possessive Collector, the scheming china doll-esque Elizabeth. Then there are all the interchangeable characters who are just around to hate on Kita because her life is so. hard.
Bland two dimensional characters would be palatable if they lived in a vivid well-structured world, but these don't. Maybe there was more world building in the first book of this series, but in Twice Dead, I couldn't tell if this was supposed to be an Earth-like world, an alternate version of Earth, or something completely different. Humans were very minor elements, so is the world primarily full of supernaturals? How does this world relate to Kita's original home of shapeshifters? Is that in another dimension, on another planet, etc. Mostly you're life to assume this world is just like ours with a supernatural underlining so fill in the blanks yourself. Except there are so many supernatural elements that it doesn't make sense how it could run any entire city/council underneath the humans without anyone noticing.
I readily admit I never read the first book, so some background was definitely lacking. Any subsequent books in a series should still give a brief overview of what has happened before so that the plot makes sense in context. The references to rouges and judge's marks were not fully explained and I'm still not quite sure what the point of the mage was other than to be a convenient way to get Kita in and out of trouble. And finally, the book ends and then continues until the new sequel is setup like in a movie with a brand new character appearing out of nowhere with one or two lines of dialogue, except that doesn't really work in a book.
Underneath all this, there might have been a pleasant plot, but too many of the large elements did not work. There was one moment, in the middle of the novel, where I couldn't put the book down, but I think that was more because it was so much fun to read on an iPad than my computer. Wouldn't recommend it though I've read worse....more
I've discovered that I have a hard time with first person storytelling that involves a teenage protagonist because generally the protagonist is very I've discovered that I have a hard time with first person storytelling that involves a teenage protagonist because generally the protagonist is very much like the teenage girls I avoided as a teenager myself. To be stuck in one's head for a couple hundred pages is verging on excruciating to me. This particular book wasn't helped by the attempts at clever slang and overly sarcastic remarks that occurred every few lines. It's very difficult to write sarcastic characters that seem real rather than just eye-roll worthy, and Fang, the part hell hound who can read all the supernatural creatures' minds, was definitely one of those that made me roll my eyes with every word.
Unlike previous young adult series that I've jumped in midway, Try Me filled in gaps from the previous story pretty well and I liked the tension created through the factions of part-demons and vampires who want to come out to the world. It would have been nice to get more full formed characters other than Val and her annoying dog, but this is a young adult book where action is generally wanted above well rounded characters.
Having it set in San Antonio gave me a slight benefit because I knew the more public locations that were mentioned in the story, so lack of scenery description didn't hinder me from fully picturing what was going on.
Overall, it was a quick, occasionally fun read, but I won't be diving into the series again any time soon....more
There’s no definitive definition of emotional or psychological abuse, but according to the medical portion of TheFreeDictionary.com, psychological abuse is:
A form of mistreatment in which there is intent to cause mental or emotional pain or injury; includes verbal aggression, statements intended to humiliate or infantilize, insults, threats of abandonment or institutionalization; results in stress, social withdrawal, long-term or recalcitrant depression, anxiety
According to the Conflict Tactics Scale – a scale used to identify harmful relationships – psychological abuse fits within three different categories:
Verbal aggression (e.g., "Your partner has said something to upset/annoy you");
Dominant behaviors (e.g., "I have tried to prevent my partner from seeing/speaking to their family");
Jealous behaviors (e.g., "Your partner has accused you of maintaining other parallel relations").
If I was smart, I would probably stop here, walk away, not offend any readers, but I’m not that smart and I do have other things to say, primarily:
I REALLY HATE THIS BOOK
Do not move forward if you are easily offended. Mild cursing ahead.
I hate the incredibly weak and selfish character that is Bella Swan. I hate the pompous asshat that is Edward Cullen. I hate the oblivious father and the flaky mother. I hate the series of suddenly lovesick teenage boys that fall at Bella’s feet. I hate just about everyone and everything about this book except for Carlisle and Alice, and they are not in the book enough to justify me attempting to sit through the next one. I really just want a book about Carlisle managing to be a doctor and a vampire, and that whole vampire hunter in a previous life thing.
I just don’t get it. I don’t get what people like about these characters. You have an indecisive century old potential serial killer with the maturity level of a 12-year-old constantly saying, “I need you, I love you, you’re my entire world but you must go away or I might KILL YOU but I can’t stay away from you so don’t go away even though I might KILL YOU!” And then you have the stupid teenage girl who says things like, “But you ARE my life” after nearly getting murdered because of something her wonderful, perfect boyfriend inadvertently instigated.
I don’t get it. There was a short portion in the middle where my preteen self could see potential, but then Bella started playing the victim and Meyer started beating me in the face with her “Edward’s vampirism suppression is the same as remaining celibate” message, and I started twitching.
Edward Cullen is a creepy, manipulative asshat, who spends most of this book emotionally abusing the girl he supposedly loves eternally. He puts his eternal love in a number of situations that could potentially end in her grisly death and sort of shrugs the danger away with the fact that, oh, well, I’ll be there so she’ll be safe because I am the best ever since ever was invented.
Bella Swan is a sniveling, selfish teenage girl with no self-worth and no idea she’s in an unhealthy relationship. While she does express concern regarding her family’s safety, that doesn’t prevent her from continuing the activities that could potentially cause them harm. This is the type of girl I would strongly encourage see a therapist. And worst of all, she has absolutely no sense of humor.
Oh yes, and she finds it romantic that Edward is basically stalking her, sneaking into her bedroom every night to watch her sleep. That’s not romantic, that’s freaking CREEPY! People get arrested for that type of thing in real life.
And I got that Edward was perfect from the moment he showed up. He did everything better than everyone and he was the most attractive guy in the history of the universe even though he’s pasty and has creepy eyes. You don’t have to tell me every five minutes. If his face is perfect, I inferred that his nose was perfect and his eyes and his lips and his hair and his… Really, Stephanie Meyer, I got it. You don’t have to keep telling me. I think in the end, the constant repetition of declaring how perfect Edward looked was what nearly caused me to throw the entire audio book out the car window in rush hour traffic.
I won’t even start on the glittery vampire thing. Just… no.