Have you ever read a book where you enjoyed it, and wanted to know what will happen, and couldn't put it down, yet there was something about it that k...moreHave you ever read a book where you enjoyed it, and wanted to know what will happen, and couldn't put it down, yet there was something about it that kept bothering you? The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume was that book for me. While I liked it a lot, I also could not shake off that nagging feeling that something was off.
The gift/curse idea was interesting, but I felt like it could have been developed much more. Things like where this "gift" came from, why was Treasure's family chosen to get it, and what was the point of it in the first place? I also didn't feel like the "gift" was that much part of a story to begin with. It was brought up at the beginning, wasn't mentioned much throughout the middle and then brought up again at the end. Take away the "gift", and the story wouldn't even suffer that much. (view spoiler)[Treasure didn't even add anything to the quilt, when at the beginning everyone made such a big deal about her recording her blessings. She didn't record anything at all on that quilt, so my question is - what's the point of the "gift" and the quilt if no one going to do anything with them? (hide spoiler)]
The writing felt very abrupt. It's hard to describe for me since the only writing I ever do is either blogging or history papers, but it felt like there was no transitions between points of view, paragraphs or even sentences, and events. It almost felt like the author wanted to cram as many events as possible in one book, but didn't spend much time developing those events. Something happened, this something got resolved, and the action moved on to the next something. Many things happened, yes, but I would have preferred to have fewer well written plot points.
While reading The Unlikely Gift, I was constantly getting frustrated by the way women were portrayed or described (emphasis is mine):
"She was beautiful, like an Italian race car, trim and chrome, built for two. And Dennis could appreciate that beauty,. But it made him nervous. And after talking to her for five minutes, he was sure he didn't want to drive her. He knew the cost of maintenance and upkeep too well." (See what I mean about how abrupt it feels? The whole book is written this way).
"The girl turned around and flipped her limp dishwasher hair behind her ear."
"One clerk, a size twelve in a size six outfit, shot grammy a "what planet are you from?" look as she walked back with an armful of rejects from the dressing rooms."
""Although I doubt that you weigh what you have listed here," he said, smirking at her."
These are just some of the examples I highlighted from the book, but there were more. A woman is compared to a car, a woman is insulted about her looks, a woman is (harshly) judged on her appearance. Was that really necessary? In our current culture women bodies are already treated like something that everyone has the right to comment or have an opinion on. Those quotes were just observations of other characters, and nothing was said to these women, but the fact that things like that were even thought of shows the problem. Women are constantly evaluated on their looks, then commented on it, and finally put down because they didn't live up to the standard of beauty. This could be my personal pet peeve, but comparing a woman to a car is double insulting since it's implies that she can be owned and can't take care of herself on her own.
I also didn't like that Dennis's job was constantly referred to as the "lunch lady", while making it clear at the same time that the job was inferior. For one thing, I should not state the obvious that Dennis is a man and could not be a lady. Isn't there an actual title to that job? Having negative connotations attached to the word "lunch lady" only reinforcing the notion that being a "lunch lady" is bad, inferior and in Dennis's instance, almost a joke.
I still wonder and want to know why all the women were named Treasure, Patience, Thankful and Experience, when all the guys got normal names. I wish it would have been explained even a little, since I can't imagine it being easy living with those names.
The characters were pretty good, but some of them felt pretty two dimensional. Howls and Grammy were my favorite. Dennis annoyed me more than anything with his trying to cook gourmet food for little kids. Treasure was better, but now that I've finished the book I can't think of anything special about her. Patience was just there and then she was gone. Randy has a great taste in clothes, so he was cool. Bonnie started to become human towards the end, but not nearly enough to give her any depth.
The climax was very anti-climatic after everything else that's happened. Since the rest of the conflicts, problems and misunderstanding got resolved almost immediately, there wasn't much tension or even wondering if everything will work out.
Overall, this wasn't a bad book. Yes, I have many things to say about it, but I still enjoyed The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume. I think if you're not as picky about the issues that I talked about, you will definitely enjoy the book.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Cedar Fort via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own. ["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"]>(less)
I love fairy tales retellings, so I was very excited to read Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem. I'm happy to say that for the most part, I absolutely...moreI love fairy tales retellings, so I was very excited to read Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem. I'm happy to say that for the most part, I absolutely enjoyed the book.
However, there were some things that I did not particularly enjoy. First, I was disappointed for the lack of action in the book. Kat just didn't do much, other than doing what she was told. At the same time, I didn't think she was a weak person, just a normal person. There was nothing exceptional about her that we were shown. Yes, every reader will know that she is Snow White, but other than that I expected something more from her and those around her. Again, she wasn't a weak heroine. Kat actually stood up for herself and could think for herself, given her circumstances, pretty well. It was disappointing because I was reading about an ordinary life, which is something I don't expect from fairy tales.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Cedar Fort via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
Having just finished and loved Jane Carver of Waar I immediately started on Swords of Waar and I wasn't disappointed. Everything that I loved about th...moreHaving just finished and loved Jane Carver of Waar I immediately started on Swords of Waar and I wasn't disappointed. Everything that I loved about the first book was present in the second book, although it also felt slightly more realistic than the first book. Yes, the action and adventure were still on the overload, but since the initial world building was already established, Nathan Long was able to focus on some of the more specific issues.
Mr. Long only briefly touched on topics of honor and slavery in the first book, but in Swords of Waar I felt these topics took the front row. He also gave a lot more nods to ERB than before, going as far as specifically mentioning him by name, which made me chuckle several times.
The book starts off, predictably, with Jane back on Earth and desperately looking for a way to get back to Waar. She finds a book that author Kline wrote about Waar and his uncle, and proceeds to use it as a clue about how to get back to Waar. She gets back to Waar only to find that she was declared an outlaw and accused of kidnapping Wen-Jhai. So much for plans of riding off flying off in the sunset with Lhan, instead she has to find Wen-Jhai and clear her name.
As I said before, Swords deals heavily with honor and slavery. I liked how Nathan Long brought up some of the ridiculous hang ups that people of Waar have about honor. It was especially apparent when Jane agreed to become Lhan's Dhanshai and he became her Dhan. I think they simply got married with the added bonus of fancy titles. Except, this is where the problems started, and the conflict, which I found most interesting, happened. Suddenly, Jane has to act like Dhanshai, and Dhanshai never ever EVER saves her Dhan. She lets him take care of her, and certainly can't upstage him in her fighting skills. Instead she should submit to him. That doesn't sound like something Jane would do, now does it?
"Here, a man's honor is far more precious than his life".
"My brain had been scrambled by that romance novel night we'd had together before the priests had sent me back to Earth, and I'd jumped right back across the whole fucking universe to try to have it again. How was i supposed to guess he'd be a stupid, stiff-necked caveman who wanted me to play Snow White to his Prince Charming? How was I supposed to know he'd have a stick so far up his ass that he'd rather die than let a woman save him - even a woman who could bench press him for reps."
Throughout the book, Jane had to deal with her feelings about the medieval customs of Waar and Lhan had spent much of the book being a total stubborn ass to her. Yes, this is the only thing he had ever known, so I should give him some slack, but I simply couldn't. I'm not in love with him like Jane is, so I don't have to put up with his crap and instead can think whatever I want. Thankfully, I could see the progression in his thinking, and towards the end I began liking him again. I was also thankful that Jane didn't give up her convictions for Lhan. Oh, she tried her best to accommodate him, but at the end she stayed true to herself. The feminist in me was applauding.
The culture of all the people on Waar allows for slavery, something that Jane is not ok with. She was a slave in the first book and later confronted someone very important about the issue. Sure things will not change immediately simply because Jane is aware of them, but at least she is aware and knows it's wrong. This sort of answers my question about how a modern person would feel in a completely different setting (say medieval or United States in 1800s). I know I would feel the same.
All of the characters got some healthy development throughout the book. I was especially excited for Wen-Jhai, who in the first book simply annoyed me, but towards the end of book two I started to really like her. I expect her to play a big part in book 3 and I can't wait. Sai-Far just stayed Sai-Far, still the same idealistic idiot, who got even more idealistic towards the end. Either way, he is fun to read about. My favorite sky pirates also made an appearance.
Overall, I loved this book too. It's a great sequel, with the same amount of action and adventure, while addressing more of the issues that were only touched in the first book. I still don't think that Jane is really a feminist character, but I find a lot of things to like about her. She not only voices all the things that I've been wondering about, she also challenges them.
I recommend Swords of Waar to anyone who's looking for strong heroines, a great cast of supporting characters, non-stop action-adventure and a great self-deprecating humor.
P.S. Too bad Aarurrhs (Waar equivalent of Tharks) never made an appearance.
Here are a couple more quotes that I particularly enjoyed:
"It isn't easy being a ninja when you're big and pink and dressed in red and green."
"I felt like a rabbit at a wolf convention. It looked like they might tear me apart any second. And pretty girls got this all the time! Christ! How did they stand it? No wonder they all came off like such cold bitches."
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Night Shade Books via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
This book was interesting and definitely different, but there were some parts I just couldn't get into. For example, the constant repeating of "Duck b...moreThis book was interesting and definitely different, but there were some parts I just couldn't get into. For example, the constant repeating of "Duck boy" as a taunt, which I just didn't feel was that bad of a taunt? I actually didn't really feel that the title reflected the book all that well because of that, since there wasn't that much relation between him being called "duck boy" and what was happening in the book.
However, the whole idea of alchemy and how it tied in with his mother's disappearance was very interesting and new to me, since I haven't read anything like that before. I liked Steve's relations with his great aunt, and how realistically she was portrayed. Mr. Bunn also touched down on some serious issues that many kids are undoubtedly facing with their families, which brought a nice realistic touch to the story.
Overall, this was a pretty good read other than the "duck boy" issue.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Bitingduck Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
I actually really liked this book. I got it as ARC a while back but just now got around to reading, and I sincerely regret that I didn't read it earli...moreI actually really liked this book. I got it as ARC a while back but just now got around to reading, and I sincerely regret that I didn't read it earlier. This is the 4th book in the series, but I didn't feel lost at all because there was just enough information about characters and previous events for the story to move along.
The detective story and fantasy work surprisingly well here, which again I didn't expect. Normally detective stories are not my thing, but I loved it here. I kept thinking that Eddie LaCrosse was Inspector Colombo of his realm, probably because he was constantly referring to himself as old. And he had that same never-in-a-hurry mannerism too.
I'm definitely going to be checking out previous books in the series and waiting for the next installment.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Bloomsbury Tor Books via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
When I requested this title on NetGalley, I had no idea this book was the last one in the series. I started to suspect that after getting into the boo...moreWhen I requested this title on NetGalley, I had no idea this book was the last one in the series. I started to suspect that after getting into the book and wondering why didn't I know all the characters that were suddenly popping up or being mentioned. I felt somewhat lost, not enough to not enjoy the book, but just enough to feel constantly annoyed in the back of my mind.
Being somewhat lost wasn't the only thing that bothered me. There were just too many characters, and because of that, none of them were really developed. Yes, writing a book about 12 princesses plus their husbands/love interests and another whole bunch of villains, while making everyone into a well rounded characters is hard, but I was still hoping for something more. Every character got maybe a line of so at the time, even Petunia and Oliver. Heck, I was pretty disappointed in Petunia and Oliver because of their insta-love that sprung up out of nowhere. Everyone also shrieked too much, cried too much, and just overall acted like damsels in distress. I would have thought that after the same thing happening to these princesses before, they would grow a little bit accustomed to it and be more in control. Yes, Petunia did at the very end, but that just wasn't enough for me because I didn't get to know her as well as I hoped I would. I'm not sure if it was because I haven't read the first two book, or because of the general lack of development to her character.
I was also getting tired of the constant repetition. She is one of the nine daughters of Russaka! Oh no, the duchess is one of the nine daughters! She can't be one of the nine daughters of Russaka. The king of Russaka had nine daughters. And on and on it went, including the twelve daughters and twelve princess. I wanted to scream that I got it, I got that they are all either nine or twelve, just stop repeating it!
I wanted to know more about the villains too. Just like the good guys, they also suffered from the two dimensional syndrome. There was an attempt to give a little more dimension to some of them, but it wasn't enough to really understand them. And I like to understand my villains, because a lot of times they end up being just as interesting as the heroes.
The writing felt a little simplistic, but it moved along nicely. Overall it wasn't a bad book and I think I would have enjoyed a lot more had I read the previous two. I think fans of the series would find the conclusion pretty satisfying, although I still had some questions left.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Bloomsbury Children's Books via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
Snarky, funny, sexy and overall great read! I forgot that this was a second book in the series, but it didn't stop me from enjoying it. There were mom...moreSnarky, funny, sexy and overall great read! I forgot that this was a second book in the series, but it didn't stop me from enjoying it. There were moments that I felt that they could have been hinting at the previous book, but I didn't feel lost or confused.
Unfortunately, as it usually happens with the adult romance books, the actual story-line took a backseat in favor of the adult romance. I knew this will most likely happen, yet I was a little disappointed because the story had so much potential too. Hence only a 4 star rating. Dred and Middy was supposedly investigating some serious stuff, but really, other than talking about investigating and proclaiming that Dred was a spy on every corner, there was not much investigating going on. There wasn't much more than Dred and Middy being hot and bothered about each other, even if it was a blast to read.
Because of that, other characters were not as developed as Dred and Middy. Again, shame, because a lot of them were lots of FUN! Dred's mom and Middy's brothers were especially great and I loved reading about them. I wished we could have seen more gargoyles too, but again, I think I wish too much for this type of a book.
Dred and Middy had great chemistry and hilarious interactions, and their scenes were especially delicious. I would also not mind having my own Dred centerfold... Middy's attitude towards life was nicely refreshing, and could be summed up in this great quote from the book:
"I've found dragons to be kind and wise, shining armor rusts like a bitch, marriage is overrated, and charming princes are usually whoremongers."
Overall it was a great read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for witty sexy romance. Just as long as you don't expect a great story-line to go with the romance, I'm confident you will enjoy How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Days.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Kensington via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
I love Japan and many aspects of its culture, so picking up this book I, while not expecting greatness, expected at least some enjoyment. Unfortunatel...moreI love Japan and many aspects of its culture, so picking up this book I, while not expecting greatness, expected at least some enjoyment. Unfortunately I barely got any enjoyment at all, and instead got to read the longest 320 pages that just wouldn't end. I don't even know where to start... because I literally don't have anything nice to say (and no, I will not go by the good ol' rule of rather not saying anything in this case).
There was absolutely nothing interesting or unique about any of the characters in the book. David was bland, Rie was bland, Takumi was bland, Natsuki was a token biatch character and also bland. None of them had personalities, and if I didn't see a name attached to whoever was speaking, I wouldn't have been able to tell one character from another. Natsuki especially bothered me, because I kept wondering WHAT was so special about her that she had to become a part of all of this?(view spoiler)[They couldn't even do anything together, so at the end she was completely useless. (hide spoiler)]
I didn't buy David's story of wanting to pick up and go somewhere on the exchange program out of the blue, and then coming to a foreign country without even knowing the basics of its culture? Let me clarify. Without even bothering to learn even the basis of the culture and the language? Isn't knowing the language is a pre-requisite for any kind of an exchange program? Either that, or the student gets put into an English-taught class, like I've heard is done from some of my friends who went as exchange students in Japan. So yeah David, all your emo moments at the beginning of the book were brought on by you and you only, and I didn't feel even remotely sorry for you.
Then I started wondering why Matsumotos even bothered with a foreign student? They were so cool and great and traditional and apparently super-duper busy with everything, so WHY? I would have thought they spent their days training and looking for the Samurai instead of taking on David and his emo spells.
And not a SINGLE person in the whole book had even the slightest problem with David being the Samurai? Not even a little bit? I find it hard to believe considering Japan is a country that is known for still being pretty proud of their Japanese uniqueness and solidarity. Foreigners are not easily accepted and face quite a lot of racism. Don't believe me? Check out Hi My Name is Loco and I am a Racist as well as countless blogs about Japan that I will not list, but which google will pull up in an instant.
Later in the book something bad happens to one of the characters, and it was meant to be a very sad moment, but I literally felt nothing. I, as a reader, did not feel invested in that character at all, nor did I care either, because that character was also as flat as can be.
Something that really bothered me throughout the whole book was the constant use of first names only for EVERYONE. It made it hard to figure out who was a teacher, who was a student, and who was an adult. Seriously, how often do we see any teachers referred to as Becky or Jim in any books? Unless it's a nickname, all I ever saw were Ms. Williams or Mr. Peterson as an examples. Since the story takes place in Japan, wouldn't it make sense to add -sensei or at least -san at the end of teachers' names? Same with the adults, instead of Yukiko it couldn't have been Yukiko-san, etc... Finally, where are the -kun and -chan for students names? If David suddenly started thinking in Japanese then I would think he'll really start thinking in Japanese and add those prefixes to EVERY name. He is not close enough to any students to suddenly omit the honorifics. How would I know? I've heard the Japanese exchange students refer to me as Lyuba when speaking English, but Lyuba-san/chan when speaking in Japanese between themselves.
It bothered me that David was asked to make this big lifechanging decision, but the MOST IMPORTANT piece of information was completely omitted from him until AFTER he agreed. Sneaky much? Or more like seriously? Had I been David, and after I've agreed to become the Samurai I found out about that information, I would have thrown the biggest fit possible. He was just ok with everything, not even remotely bothered.
The bad guys were bland too, and while couple of them had potential, they were not developed at all. I wished they would have been, because they seemed interesting for those few lines they actually showed up in the story until the big (bland) reveal.
The story itself was bogged down by the constant information overload. The information was not expertly woven into the story-line, but instead dumped at the readers at every opportunity. It did not create any connection to the characters, making them two dimensional and flat like I was saying before. There was constant telling but no showing, and way too many badminton matches descriptions. I could have cared less about these matches, and preferred to see more character development.
It's been couple of weeks since I've finished this book and I can barely remember the plot. As you could probably tell, characters are the most important aspect in a book for me, because without them even the greatest plot will be lost. Still, a compelling plot is also very important, but it wasn't there. Oh, there was a plot, but it was just as bland as the characters. I expected trials and failures, dangers and overcoming of obstacles, but it seemed like everything just came too easy to everyone. If there was a question, the answer was found within couple of pages (which we were told about, not shown). If there was a bad guy, he got beaten up in a few paragraphs. Yet those badminton matches took up several pages. I didn't feel like Japan was in that much danger, because we were never shown that danger! There was no frantic turning of pages wanting to know what happens next and who's going to get hurt or not. Instead every little thing was methodically explained. I was bored. Wait, wasn't I talking about a plot? Ok, so it was there, but it was so bogged down by constant explanations and lack of action, that it wasn't memorable at all.
Samurai Awakening was not a page turner. In fact, I struggled with finishing this book, but I persisted, thinking just how long could it take to read 320 pages. Apparently very long. I do not recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in Japanese culture, because I think you will be disappointed. If you want to read a book about Japanese youkai, I recommend reading Nura Rise of the Yokai Clan instead.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Tuttle Publishing via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Assassin's Curse started out a little shakily for me because it jumped straight to the action and events happened so fast that I literally went HU...moreThe Assassin's Curse started out a little shakily for me because it jumped straight to the action and events happened so fast that I literally went HUH? WHA? WHY? COME AGAIN? I get that Annana didn't want to marry the guy, but we were not given any reasons as to why. Is she against marriage in general, against marriage to this particular guy or did she tell her parents that she didn't want to marry and they completely ignored her? Why leave behind everything, and I do mean everything, just to avoid this marriage?
As you can see, I'm one of those people who likes to ask the WHY questions, and my why's were not satisfied. I wanted to know what motivated Annana, but I didn't get any answers. Still, I couldn't put the book down and it got so much better down the road! I still would like to know why she keeps saying that her parents two timed her, but at the same time I can forgive the lack of answers because bigger things had started to happen.
Naji was a delicious mystery and I can't wait to learn more about him. At times, for all of his experience, he was such a blind fool, but that only made him more endearing. Annana was resourceful, witty, willing to learn, refreshing, and definitely not a damsel in distress. She had a lot of spark going for her, and I loved her inner voice! I can't exactly pin-point what it was, but I'm leaning towards her un-educated self that contributed to a very interesting way she spoke.
As many have mentioned before, there wasn't much of a climax at the end. Things did not get resolved, but at the same time I didn't feel like it was a bad ending. It simply was a clear set up for a second book, and while I would have preferred some resolution, I wasn't disappointed. I simply wished for the second book like RIGHT NOW!
Overall it's a great book and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a different setting in their YA novels.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Angry Robot via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
I literally did a happy dance when I saw that Kristine Grayson's new book in the Fates series was available on NetGalley and I'm happy to say...more4.5 Stars
I literally did a happy dance when I saw that Kristine Grayson's new book in the Fates series was available on NetGalley and I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed. That said, if you're looking for alpha males, this book will not be for you. If you're looking for steamy romance, this book is not for you either. Since I'm kind of tired of those two things at the moment, Charming Blue hit all the right spots for me.
It's a light clean romance with a tortured hero who is a genuinely nice guy, and I like that. I'm sick of gorgeous assholes as main love interests! I want to read about gorgeous nice guys because they DO exist, you know, and just as interesting to read about. Blue is one of those guys. He spent hundreds of years hiding from the world because of the crimes he committed (or had he?, but the hiding is over now. He is forced to reconcile with his past that he had tried to escape for years, and it's not an easy feat.
Jodi was great in her own right. I liked how she didn't loose her head to the attraction she felt for Blue, and was still able to think clearly enough to try and solve his mystery problem. She took charge, knew her strengths and limits, and was able to take care of things.
Tank was a special treat, and probably my favorite character in the whole book. Ramon was the token gay character, and while he was great, I wish there would be less stereotypical gay characters that just end up being the same type in every book.
The pacing of the story was fairly fast considering that the whole book takes place in less than 5 days. There is a great mystery there and I was dying to know what really happened to Blue and why. Whatever it was, it did take me by surprise and I've enjoyed how the whole thing played out, although I wish there was more to the 'why' part. I didn't really get the reasons of the Big Bad, and I wish Grayson would have gone into more detail about that. Actually, I would have liked to see more of the Big Bad period. There were some other minor questions that I've had, and I *think* they did get answered, but again, I wasn't clear on that either.
There wasn't that much time spent on the world building, probably because this is the #8 in the series. I've only read two other books in the series (I actually didn't even realize there were THAT many books until very recently), but I wasn't lost or wondering what's going on. Other characters from previous books were mentioned or made an appearance, but this book could be read as standalone without a problem.
Overall, it was a great read and I couldn't put it down! I recommend it to anyone who likes clean romance, or who is tired of their usual steamy reads.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.(less)
Sometimes a book comes along, and from the first sentence I know that I will love it. When Monster in My Closet started with "Of all the poss...more4.5 Stars
Sometimes a book comes along, and from the first sentence I know that I will love it. When Monster in My Closet started with "Of all the possible weapons I might have grabbed, I choose a toilet brush", I knew that this was one of those books.
Zoey wakes up one morning to find her greatest childhood nightmare sitting at her kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading a newspaper. Turns out, his name is Maurice and he didn't want to scare her when she was 5 years old, but wanted to play. Soon, her house is full of Hidden creatures needing her help, and Maurice becomes a permanent addition to her household. She also meets a very fashion challenged incubus, who decides that Zoey is the best possible meal out there. She is in grave danger, but has no idea about how to protect herself, so she must learn fast. Good thing that she has all the new friends protecting and helping her, something she is not used to, since she spent her whole life helping others.
I already said it, but I was simply blown away by this book. It is lighthearted and fun with just enough seriousness and danger to be "real". I loved Zoey and Maurice (he can come and live in my closet any time he wants), along with everyone else in the story. Even the Big Bad was likable in a way, even if I wanted to punch him more than once. I started reading it thinking it will be a paranormal/urban romance, but I was pleasantly surprised because Monster in My Closet turned out to be an urban fantasy book, so the romance did not take over the book at the expense of everything else. Instead, I was treated to just enough of romance to be interesting and believable, and a lot of personal relationship between the rest of the characters.
The book was very easy to read, and I literally could not put it down. I loved Naquin's writing style, and how she poked fun at some of the usual things in the genre (like the typical thousand years age difference between a hero and heroine). I giggled and kept turning pages. Zoey's personal style made me smile more than once, and made me wish that we could be friends. Oh we would get along so well, and she would love my funky shoes collection! Riley was very cute and lovable, and I'm definitely want to know how their relationship progresses.
Not everything was great though, but the issues I had were pretty minor, and did not distract from the overall greatness. Naquin hinted at the bigger mystery with Zoey's mother, but that was not explored beyond figuring out that something was going on. I'm hoping this means that there will be a SEQUEL! Another thing I didn't particularly care for was the final showdown with the Big Bad because it felt pretty anti-climatic. I appreciated that the big conflict was not to save the world from destruction, or something along those lines, as it seems to be in every other fantasy book, but at the same time I wished that it was just a little bit more dangerous? Or maybe just explained a little more how Zoey got to the conclusions she got, and how she figured out how to defeat the incubus. Or even more about the mythology behind him, and other Hidden.(view spoiler)[Was his actual lair at Sara's house? Because it sure seemed like to me! Was that the reason why Zoey could not find him, because she didn't think of looking there? (hide spoiler)]
Overall, this is a great book and I recommend it to those who would want to read about somewhat different take at the paranormal creatures, and those who love more lighthearted books.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book tickled my feminist sensibilities in all the right places, mostly because I could OH SO relate to the main character, Bambi.
While the basic story of The Booby Trap had been done countless times before, I found it very refreshing that the Big Reveal did not come until the very end of the book, only giving few pages for characters to make up and have their HEA. Instead, there is plenty of what's-after-the-Big-Reveal action, and we get to see Trip and Bambi grow into liking and then loving each other. They do not immediately fall in bed with each other, nor is their mutual attraction is based on (initial) sex. In fact, when the sex part eventually happens, I almost wished that it didn't. Well, I wished it wasn't described that is, because The Booby Trap was so great without going into the details, that I wanted it to not go into the said details.
Bambi was the star for me. I loved how no matter what, she didn't loose the sight of her educational and career goals, and that she didn't just forget about her research as soon as all the spotlight started to happen. (view spoiler)[ I also ABSOLUTELY loved how she realized that maybe she is not the only one who needs to learn a lesson about assumptions and judging "books by their cover". (hide spoiler)]
Bambi and Trip's relationship was also refreshing to me, because they actually *GASP* talked to each other so there was no annoying misunderstandings (well, except one but Trip sure got hell for it). The book was not built on misunderstandings and lack of communication, like so many other romance books out there! Their fake relationship was just that, fake, and as I would imagine a fake one would be, and the things did not start changing immediately after the first date/kiss/look/etc... Trip also learned some lessons along the way, which helped him to grow as a character and to "grow" into his relationship with Bambi.
That said, for all the greatness, there were several things that made this book less enjoyable for me. The writing felt underdeveloped, like there was something missing although I can't pin-point exactly what. Maybe it was the perfect resolution to everything, or the lack of background story for other things. Like for example, why was Bambi named Bambi? Or what's up with the last bar and her mother? (view spoiler)[Does her mother work there? Frequents it often enough to KNOW she'll be there pretty much? (hide spoiler)] What exactly happened on that fateful night, that made Bambi be so scarred for life? None of those things were explained clearly, and I would have liked to know.
The secondary and auxiliary characters were not fleshed out nearly enough for my liking, and I, yet again, was left with some unanswered questions. I saw the potential with some more action for them (especially Lainie and Elizabeth), but the things either happened to them without any good (explained) reason, or just didn't happen at all.
Overall, it was a light and enjoyable read, and a great start for a brand new author. I recommend this book to anyone not afraid of a little bit of feminism (ok a lot of it) in their reading, and to those who like to see a believable romance.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Pixel Entertainment via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was excited to read this book, but from the first pages I wanted to put it down and forget about it. Yet I persisted, and it took me a WEEK to read...moreI was excited to read this book, but from the first pages I wanted to put it down and forget about it. Yet I persisted, and it took me a WEEK to read The Golden Flute and that's saying something, since usually I can finish a book in a day, especially an YA book.
The first chapter was mostly fine, although I was extremely annoyed that I couldn't figure out what country the action was taking place in. No big deal, it was all over soon enough. But then I got to the second chapter, and my "REALLY Radar?" started going off big time. First of all, take a look a the title, it clearly says "Adventures of Lilli and Zane". Well I want to point out that it should say "Adventures of Lilli, Zane AND Teddy"! I don't understand why a character, who is clearly important AND a big part of the story, was excluded from the title?
The more story progressed, the more unbelievable it got. Some characters got introduced for what seemed like no other reason but a (failed) comic relief. (view spoiler)[What was the point of two Egyptian villains? They came off as those two idiots from Home Alone movies, except in Home Alone movies they made sense and were actually funny. Here... they were just stupid idiots, with ZERO common sense and completely not funny. They overhear a conversation, they steal a credit card, they are able to use the said credit card MANY MANY times without being caught, and then they sell the Golden Flute for $10K when before they were going on and on about changing their lives back in Egypt. Maybe back in Egypt $10K (divided by two mind you) can change someone's life, give them respect and cars and women, but what would I know? I've never been to Egypt.
And don't even get me started on the credit card use! Whoops! Too late, I'm already started. I have a REALLY HARD time believing that they were able to use this credit card, repeatedly, in the UK, considering I live here now, and I constantly have problems using my AMERICAN swipe cards! They are either not go through for some reason, cashiers don't know how to deal with a swipe card and have to call a manager to help (not kidding, everyone here is using chip cards, so they rarely see swipe cards), AND on top of that, they are ANAL about checking IDs! Or signatures! Maybe I can believe that they could get away with this in the USA, but in the UK... excuse me for rolling my eyes. (hide spoiler)]
The rest of the characters were pretty flat and very two dimensional. I never got their motives, the reason for their action, or saw them as anything but cliches. That was especially true for the villains in the story. Forget the "secondary" villains, even the "main" ones did not present anything other than the tried-and-true "I want to rule the world, but I wouldn't be able to explain to you why" cliche. And my personal pet peeve, but enough with Russians being the bad guys, please? (view spoiler)[ I spent almost the whole book thinking that Li was a Chinese man, until my illusion was completely shattered by author specifically having him speak Russian and calling him Russian. HOW is Li a Russian name? There are plenty of resources online for Russian names, so there should be NO need to call one of the character by one of the most popular Chinese names! (hide spoiler)]
Neither Lilli, Zane or Teddy left me with much of a lasting impression. (view spoiler)[Teddy was a typical Wunderkind and probably my favorite out of the three, since he had the most common sense. Although, the overabundance of descriptions such as "scrawny chest" and "puffin up his thin chest" were making me pretty annoyed. Zane had LOTS of charm *ZOMG* and I bet he even sparkled, although he stopped that stuff somewhere after the first few chapters. Lilli apparently had no fashion sense whatsoever, because that was the reason why she wasn't popular at school. Guess wearing all the colors in the rainbow is just not cool for the cool kids (pun intended). (hide spoiler)] They each has some specific (cliched) roles that they acted out, but beyond that there was no substance to either one of them.
Lilli's father, JC, wasn't even that much in the story, so I'm not even sure what to make of him. (view spoiler)[I'm still wondering why Robert went complete 180 on everyone, it just seemed out of the blue and for no reason whatsoever. There was no indication that he was unhappy with anything until the big 'reveal'. (hide spoiler)] Nancy's personality went from one end of the spectrum to another, and there was even an attempt to introduce an adult theme, but it felt forced and kinda pointless.
The writing was pretty choppy, and action jumped from one character to another without any transitions, so most of the time I had to go back and re-read few of the prior lines just to figure out what was happening. It could be because I was reading an ARC, and the final formatting was missing. In addition, it felt very basic, like it was intended for someone pretty young. It is definitely not a book for "all ages". The writing did get better somewhere in the middle, but then went right back to what it was before.
I think someone who is fairly young will enjoy it, or someone who doesn't think too much into the book, but not anyone who likes for the books to make sense and be believable. I can suspend my disbelief to a degree, especially when I read fantasy novels, but when there are so many "real life" elements and events, I want them to actually make sense. (view spoiler)[Worrying about customs, no making a BIG deal out of customs when the Golden Flute went through customs at least 2 times already with no problem? Even before that, how did customs did not pick up on a freaking solid GOLD flute?! And how did Lilli not notice that the flute was stolen from her backpack, considering it must have weighted a LOT?! (hide spoiler)]
The Golden Flute had some good things going for it, but not enough to give it more than two stars. I loved some of the quotes, which I thought were absolutely great. My favorite one is "It wasn't that she was better than anyone else. She just wasn't less than they." This is a great message for anyone, and I will have to try and remember it anytime I feel down. The archaeological and Atlantis elements are always fun in my book and make my heart beat a little faster, but even they were not enough to make me get into The Golden Flute more.
Like I said before, I think someone fairly young will enjoy this book and I would be interested to know what the actual intended audience thinks of The Golden Flute. As it stands, I will not be reading any future books in this series.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Cedar Fort via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)