Wreckage revolves around two survivors of a plane crash, Lillian and Dave, who'd spent two years trapped onTL;DR Version:
2.5 stars. Ugh.
Wreckage revolves around two survivors of a plane crash, Lillian and Dave, who'd spent two years trapped on a deserted island together. Both are married, and Lillian has two boys. Lillian's mother-in-law, Margaret, wins a trip for two to Fiji thanks to a contest ran by a yogurt company. After a week of VIP treatment, the company sends out a private jet to take the two women to the company's private island. The airplane is manned by a pilot and a stewardess, Kent and Theresa respectively. The company also sends Dave, a representative of the company.
When the plane loses an engine and gets caught in a storm (I know, I know), it goes down. Theresa and Margaret are the only ones fortunate enough to bail out of this story early, leaving Lillian, Dave, and Kent to fend for themselves. However, this story doesn't follow them from that point. This book begins some time after they've been rescued. Lillian has agreed to do one exclusive interview so that she can tell her "necessary lies" and be done with the whole thing, only she requires Dave to get in on this fiasco for whatever reason (and I never figure out why he had to factor in). The book shifts between the interviews and scenes on the island.
This book started out promising, even as I joked, "Is this going to be like that Guy Ritchie and Madonna movie?" Looking at some of the other reviews for this book that thought terrible things like cannibalism would come into play while reading this, I wished I'd been more creative with my question. I will admit that I initially picked it up because I was hoping that I was going to get something like The Woman Who Wasn't There (a documentary about a woman who faked being a 911 survivor for many years). The more I got into the story, the more dissatisfied I became with it.
My main problem with this book is the whole idea it's based on. Why did Lillian and David feel the need to make up such a complex story? You were stranded on an island. You didn't think you were coming home. No one thought you were alive. While hurtful, no one can blame you for whatever happened there in such a stressful situation. I get there are things that happened on that island that would hurt their partners. Just tell the truth so people can heal and move on.
I'm not so much annoyed that they chose to lie, but what they chose to lie about and the types of lies they chose to tell. Some of these lies, like Kent's death (and Kent only served to be the mustache twirling villain who knew exactly how to survive on a deserted island making him feel necessary to the two), weren't even worth the effort to lie about. If you feel you have to lie, why would you unnecessarily complicate your story with excess lies? Not only that, one of the lies you told was perhaps the easiest to debunk because of the wonders of modern medicine, and it was debunked because of the wonders of modern medicine.
The dialogue was so trite. It just didn't feel like things that people would say to each other. I could see this dialogue being in one of those old 80s young adult books I used to read, just real shallow, banal quality for the most part. I found myself unintentionally frowning up at most of it. Some of these other points of contention, I'm not even going to comment on because I'll never stop talking about it, such as Paul. Insert ominous music here.
Two-thirds of the way into this book, it just fell apart completely as the romance plot completely took over. Two attractive, married people (though they don't think of themselves as attractive, but the writing proves that this just isn't so) on a beach alone together after the villain's demise... what else is there to do? Apparently, have the book lose its shit altogether from that moment to the ending.
The ending wrapped everything up so neatly. They all lived happily ever after. The truth came out to the ones that mattered despite all the lies, and everyone is okay and they're all one big happy family. Literally. I don't have anything against HEA endings, but this just didn't fit the context of the story. However, considering how the book just fell apart and the general shaky premise, maybe it did fit the book.
After I finished reading it, I was so disappointed. It wasn't a badly written book, which is why I can't rate it lower than 2 stars. The story is actually intriguing in parts, and the concept of the story itself isn't bad just not executed well. I also think that she mostly got it right with media feeling entitled to every piece of a story, as if their opinions are the ones that really matter. (I still found the woman doing the interview to be a bit of a caricature of the ambitious reporter herself.) I think I'm more perplexed at how such a promising start could go so absolutely wrong....more
4.5 stars. How do I even begin to review this? I'm going to have to think on this for a few days. If you have Kindle Unlimited, do yourself a favor an4.5 stars. How do I even begin to review this? I'm going to have to think on this for a few days. If you have Kindle Unlimited, do yourself a favor and read/listen to this book. If you don't, just buy it. Doro, a man who steals the bodies of others and uses the until he must find another or he feels he deserves the body of another person, finds Anyanwu in the African forests living alone on the fringes of a village as a old medicine woman. While searching for one of his lost groups of people, people who were likely taken and sold into slavery, Anyanwu’s power pulls him toward her. This aged woman reveals herself to be a young healer with strength that could crush a grown man who has roamed the world for over 300 years, but her lifetime is still a drop in time compared to his own lifespan.
Anyanwu agrees to leave the safety of her home to help Doro forge a bloodline of children who have special abilities and share their immortality in a world where loneliness and boredom are the enemies of people like them. While her agreement is made in order to save her own bloodline from him, part of her wonders if there could truly be a time when she would no longer have to watch her children die. This book follows Doro and Anyanwu from Africa during the early years of the American slave trades to the end of slavery as love, fight, hate, and dream about everything from the ethical issues of true workings of Doro’s breeding plan to their feelings about each other.
It’s hard to pin this book down to just one thing. It’s science-fiction mixed with historical fantasy add a little romance and a generous helping of social issues (racism, gender issues, ethical issues). Even describing it like that, I don’t think I’ve capture the essence of this book. This books takes so many conventional ideas and presents them in such an unconventional way as Butler uses words to weave this tale that can really take her readers on an emotional roller coaster. I love a good light, quick, fun speculative read, but there’s nothing like speculative fiction that uses the medium to really transcend expectations of the genre. Butler managed that this with book.
Dion Graham was such a powerful, amazing narrator choice for this book. The emotion and voices that he used for the characters captured me as much as the words did themselves. Butler’s characters were already so powerful. I love characters that can really shake me to my core. There was nothing simple about any of them. Even the ones you hated had this part of them that you still recognized as human, and Butler was able to convey so much of their humanity in less words than many author’s use to get you to care about characters in books twice this size. These characters combined with Graham’s narration was fantastic. I’m hoping that he’ll be narrating the other books in this series.
Despite all the ugliness in this book, it was counteracted with so much beauty. I had one minor complaint with a transition later in the book. It seemed a little hurried as Butler tried to wrap up the story, but I did like what it transitioned into.This was my first read by Octavia Butler, and it took me so long to read her because others had told me she could be a heavy read. And while I expected something amazing, something that would probably affect me on a profound level given how many people I know read her books and praise how she touched on issues, I hadn’t expected the incongruous beauty that waited for me or the feelings and thoughts that was this book....more
5 stars. Totally accurate portrayal of my reaction when I finished. This book. Aw yeah! HigMore reviews can be read @ The Bibliosanctum
TL; DR Review:
5 stars. Totally accurate portrayal of my reaction when I finished. This book. Aw yeah! Highly recommended for people looking for something different in the fantasy genre, especially as far as the characters themselves are concerned.
The Cloud Roads introduces us to Moon, an orphaned shapeshifter who has spent years living among the groundlings (more traditionally humanoid looking races) disguised as one of them. Moon has long given up on finding his real people, and he doesn’t even know the name of his race at the beginning of this book. Instead he’s focused on living in different locales with various races, moving on when they became suspicious of him, forging some semblance of a life as best as he can. Despite Moon’s somewhat detached nature due to his self-reliance, cynicism, and general distrust–learned habits from having to keep on the move–Moon is not a solitary creature by nature and finds comfort living among others, even if he isn’t free to be himself. That all changes one day when he meets another shapeshifter like himself, and Moon begins a life changing journey that may finally provide the answers he feared he’d never find.
Moon presents an interesting conundrum in Raksuran society. He has difficulty with the mores of the society, and while Moon tries to keep his outward feelings neutral, even as he worries he may doing the wrong things, Moon’s survival tactics never quite leave him. Given how he’s lived much of his life wandering, he always looks for weaknesses and escape routes when introduced into unfamiliar situations. I appreciated he didn’t immediately find personal peace or a feeling of belonging among the Raksura, He didn’t find himself suddenly eager to sing the songs of his people. No, having Moon work through issues and learn how he factors into this new society gave his journey substance. Moon also showed that, even though he’s wary by nature, he is a very dedicated, caring, and trustworthy individual, often feeling his own happiness isn’t more important than doing what’s right.
What made me enjoy this book as much as I did was Moon and how he slowly comes to learn about his culture including the complicated court politics of his people. Because neither Moon or the reader know anything about the Raksura, this allows a level of world building that feels almost like we’re taking this journey with Moon. We’re experiencing this strange new place with him, and it gives Wells such freedom of expression with the culture and people. She’s allowed to dwell on her world building, presenting Moon and the readers with this beautifully crafted landscape and culture. She weaves this new information into the story without having to resort to info dumping.
With the world building, Wells did a terrific job of fleshing out her characters and races, making most of them feel like more than just humans with odd colored skin tones and some structural appearances. Some races outside the Raksura can feel fairly typical for the fantasy setting, but the author still manages to give them cultural differences to make them memorable. The Raksura culture is treated with ingenuity and craftiness by Wells. There’s something that feels familiar and human about them, making the reader empathize with them while giving them this unique culture and mannerisms that sets them apart from typical humans or even the groundlings in the story.
The Raksuran culture is largely matriarchal and plays with gender roles in clever ways. However, gender doesn’t play out in such obvious ways to make the characters feel inferior or in ways that makes it seem like a gender war is happening. The genders largely on equal footing with defined roles that are important to their society as a whole. Gender differences aren’t treated as a slight. A female may be stronger than her male counterpart in some cases and it doesn’t cause an inferiority complex due to gender. It’s just treated as part of the culture and makes a interesting, subtle commentary on gender without feeling like it’s crept over into the territory of being angry and preachy. In this same vein, the sexual nature and customs of this world are varied and include various sexual orientations and customs without demonizing them in any way.
Chris Kipiniak was an excellent choice in the reading the series. I especially loved the gravelly voice he used for Stone, which made the character actually sound like his name. I was a little unimpressed with his female voices, but I’m particular about narrators voicing characters opposite their gender in general. He didn’t do a terrible job with their voices, though. I just wasn’t moved by them. Despite that, he was an engaging narrator and added a nice flair to much of the dialogue. I enjoyed his characterization of Moon best and thought he did a superb job with capturing the wry nature of Moon’s personality and Moon’s conflicted nature that knew he should practice selfish self-preservation but ultimately always did what was right.
In this first book, Wells has introduced us to a wildly imaginative world with these fully fleshed out characters and traditions that take the reader on quite a journey. This is one of the more innovative books I’ve read in any genre. There haven’t been many books that make me feel like I’m reading something that’s truly fresh and special, but Wells has managed to make me feel like I’ve stepped into a whole new world with the Raksura while keeping elements that make it feel familiar....more
Written in Red takes the traditional shifter story and turns it on its hRead more reviews @ The Bibliosanctum
4 of 5 stars. That was... A M A Z I N G!
Written in Red takes the traditional shifter story and turns it on its head a bit. It starts with a brief history of the world. The goddess-like Namid created humans, gave them a fertile piece of herself, and kept them isolated from her other children. However, her human children became smarter. They began to innovate and spread until they pushed into the wild regions and encountered Namid’s other children. The Others, as these non-humans came to be known, didn’t accept humanity with open arms. They saw food, and they had the strength to enforce their dominance. This is the point where typically the humans would prevail over all odds in most stories, but instead, Bishop decides to take the alternative path. The Others have a strong hold on humanity. Humanity created things that could aid their fight and advance civilization, but the Others ruled over the resources they needed to create. Humans are only as useful as the things they create, making them “useful meat.” Larger cities have Courtyards, which are fenced communities where the Others live to make sure that humans keep agreements made between the two groups.
Fast forward to the present day, sweet, unassuming Meg Corbyn is a cassandra sangue (blood prophet) escaping the compound where women and girls like her are held. They have the unique ability to see prophesies if their skin is precisely cut. They live a sterile life inside a compound. They know things, but those things are disconnected from what use they could be to them. It isn’t until Meg endures a punishment for deceiving one of the compound’s clients that she’s able to use the images in her visions to make an escape. She finds refuge in the Lakeside Courtyard run by Simon Wolfgard, an Other with the ability to shift between wolf and human. He’s confused by her because she doesn’t hold the prey scent. This bothers him, as well as the fact that he knows she’s hiding something, but he still allows her to become the Human Liaison for the Courtyard. Meg knows it’s only a matter of time before her Controller finds her and tries to take her back to the compound. Her safest option is staying with the Others who cow before no human.
The Lakeside Courtyard is more progressive with how it interacts with humans, but Meg’s presence allows for a stronger trust to form between the humans and the Others. While the Others are certainly imposing, they’re not nearly as cunning as humans who have perfected lying and betrayal, something that doesn’t come easily for the Others (aside from maybe a group of them) who are mostly upfront. This may be because they are the apex predators in the story and have no need to for that type of dishonesty. The Others who choose to interact with humans are only slowly coming to realize that humans do share some of their base level emotions when confronted with things such as triumphs and injustices. Despite taking human forms, they’re only simulating humanity to the best of their abilities. They don’t understand many aspects of human life, and tidbits of useful wisdom about humans are imparted on them throughout the story, which in turns makes them begin to see them as more than just prey.
The story of how humans and the Other co-exist is a fascinating one, and while there isn’t a ton of back to back action in this like you might find in most urban fantasy, there’s plenty of delicious world-building as you get a feel for this. I found the various types of shifters fascinating, especially the avian shifters (Crowgard, Hawkgard, Owlgard). The narrator used a distinct speaking rhythm for them that made them instantly likable, especially the Crowgard who are as impish and intelligent as their animal counterparts. Even though the crows’ obsession with shiny things is a myth, I still couldn’t help being entertained by it being used in throughout the story. The vampires in the story are a mash-up of dated B-movie tropes, but they still add to the story in their own kitschy way, even if I did keep imagining Nyx as Morticia Addams.
I thought it was great storytelling to have the shifters proud and in control. They’re not hiding who they are. They’re not holding control by working behind the scenes while humans remain oblivious. They’re not ruled by human laws and integrated into human society because they have to be. It was heartening to see humans and the Lakeside Courtyard accomplishing so much together as they learned to trust each other more, even if the catalyst is Meg’s sweetness. They’re not giving up control, but choosing to explore ways that humans and Others can continue to live together with more mutual trust and respect. Trust and respect are hard for both sides given their histories.
Having Meg squeak and stumble around while everyone felt the need to baby her was disappointing, though. I’m not saying that I needed her to be some superwoman who could handle anything because rounded female characters aren’t just the ones who can hang with the big boys, but it’s unfortunate when a character like Meg, a character that I could like wholeheartedly, isn’t allowed much agency. Instead, she has all these supposedly intimidating, scary shifters deciding that she’s too precious for this world and they have to protect her at all costs. That’s all fine and good, but where is her growth as a character around all this white knighting? Then, there’s the whole “sweet blood” thing and the changing so many aspects of their life to accommodate her. That’s why I preferred the character Monty in this case of showing how both humans and Others could actually have some sort of relationship. He’s a human in the story who smells like prey unlike Meg. For that reason, he’s not given automatic trust as Meg is, but because of his positive interactions with the Others, concessions and considerations are made for him, as well, because they start to see him as more than prey and even “useful meat.” That felt more believable considering the circumstances. That brings me to my next point.
The Others aren’t as scary as I think Bishop intended them to be (at least, not to me, YMMV). Yes, they’re intimidating. However, they’re not out of control. They’re not unreasonable. There’s talk of killing and eating people, but how often does that happen to someone who hasn’t threatened them in some way? Any other threat to people who do something minor that might offend them isn’t followed through with in this story, even if it’s mentioned things happened in the past. They make noise and scare the humans who interact with them away when riled up, but most of those humans come right back when they’ve settled down and it’s business as usual. Hell, even in the more secluded places where humans and the Others have to live without the separation and relative safety of a Courtyard, I didn’t get the impression they’re just gobbling down humans because they’re prey, except for maybe the wild ones. In any event, I’m not really afraid for the humans whose intentions aren’t ill, even with these parameters in place. The book tries to make me feel a dread that I just can’t dredge up because I don’t feel like there will be any follow-through with the threats for the humans who aren’t trash.
Also, For the Others to be so fiercely independent and in control, some of them sure accepted the idea of having human law enforcement around and involved in certain incidents very quickly. Not only that, but once Meg was around, it seemed that they, even some of the Others who didn’t seem like they interacted with humans much if at all, were more accepting of other humans even humans they interacted with outside of the Courtyard’s regulars. I would’ve expected much more resistance. I understand that the Courtyard is trying to be more tolerant of humans, but given their history and how the book presented relations, that still seems like a bit of a stretch. I guess that HLDNA (Human Law Does Not Apply) sign amounts to about a hill of beans in most scenarios.
However, those aren’t things that hampered my enjoyment of the story. It was just a few things I noted while reading. Those things are not necessarily deal breakers, and they certainly won’t make me hesitate when picking up the next book. I just wanted to expound on the reason why they made me quirk my eyebrow a bit. Other than that, I thought this story was excellent.The narration for this book really added to my enjoyment. Alexandra Harris’ is exceptional. She captured the innocent vulnerability of Meg well, and I enjoyed the voices she used for the different animal gards and the Sanguinati. She does have a voice that can come off very young sounding, which can make the story feel a bit juvenile in places, but I still would highly recommend this audiobook for readers who enjoy audiobooks.
I’m anxious to find out what happens next. This makes it hard to stick to my reading plans, and I think I might have to make an exception for this series. I’m almost sad it took me this long to start this series....more
Answer: Indeed I am, Mr. Brooks. 2.5 stars, might recommend for the funnies.
Long and unapologetic version:
I have a dirty secret
Answer: Indeed I am, Mr. Brooks. 2.5 stars, might recommend for the funnies.
Long and unapologetic version:
I have a dirty secret to confess. I am no fan of Tolkien’s writing. If you were to check out my Goodreads profile now, you’d see that I’ve one-starred almost everything he’s ever written. This may be a seeded dislike due to the fact that I had to read these books in high school (even though I wasn’t one of those kids who was normally traumatized by high school reading experiences), but even attempting to reread them again as an adult was a labored effort, a true test of my patience, an effort that I am willing to admit was a disgraceful defeat. However, I do love the movies very much if that’ll grant me any measure of immunity.
The Sword of Shannara gained popularity in the late 70s and early 80s and is often used in the same sentence as Tolkien, which may tempt some readers but is a little off-putting for me. This seems to be one of those divisive books with readers either decrying it for being a Lord of the Rings rip-off or lauding it as a brilliant epic fantasy adventure. There are few people who seem to walk the middle road with this book.
I’ve been making it my mission to read classic speculative fiction. After reading The Lathe of Heaven for my science fiction pick and The Haunting of Hill House for my horror pick, I started searching for a classic fantasy pick and settled on this after reading a brief blurb on it. It sounded interesting enough, and believe it or not, I’d never actually heard of the series before now.
From the beginning, yes, it’s pretty obvious that this is influenced by Tolkien. I’d started jokingly calling Allanon by Gandalf’s name and Flick by Sam’s name even before I knew about the Tolkien connection. However, I didn’t say these things to necessarily be condescending toward this book. That’s just the way things are. So many books regardless of the genre, especially a first novel for a writer, contain elements that are similar to others in that same genre.
When I started publicly saying things like that, then people came out the woodworks saying that it really was “just like Tolkien.” I didn’t even realize I knew so many people who read this series. Even opinions from friends ranged from “5-star read” to “turn back, dead inside.” So, reading this book has been quite the journey from the actual reading to the various interactions I’ve had with people thanks to this book.
On with the review. I should warn you. This review is a little derpy if you haven’t figured that out by the Adventure time gif following this, and I can’t promise it’s completely spoiler free.
The Sword of Shannara follows the adventures of Shea Ohmsford, a half elven man living in Shady Vale with his adopted father, Curzad Ohmsford, and his adopted brother, Flick Ohmsford. One night when Flick returns from peddling his merchandise in the nearby town of the Shire (because I am absolutely sure it was the Shire), he encounters Allanon, a tall, mysterious man who saves him from a shadowy creature in the woods. Flick takes Allanon to his village where Allanon insists on meeting Shea.
(Actual Allanon the Druid in actual practical questing gear. Hey, Allanon, heeeeey…)
Anyhow, Allanon tells Shae that he is a direct descendant of a line of royal elves. These elves are the only ones able unlock the power of the sword of Shannara. I imagine that to be a lot like He-Man powering up. The Druids have kept this relic, believed to be a myth by many, locked away in their keep. The sword was originally created to defeat Brona, whose name I kept seeing as Brony when I was reading portions during immersion reading, 500 years before the start of this book. Brona is a powerful Druid-turned-sorcerer. However, just as they had traitors within when Brona attacked 500 years ago, the Druids find themselves attacked again by traitors (who’d think that would happen again?), and Brona has returned to finish what he started, but I kind of forgot what it was he wanted during the course of the story. World domination? Probably. Isn’t that what they all want either to control or destroy the entire world. Much of their hope to defeat Brona, now called the Warlock Lord, rests on Shae’s shoulders and what slim shoulders they are we are reminded repeatedly throughout the story.
The quest starts with the brothers, Shae and Flick, leaving the Vale to escape the Warlock Lord’s minions, the Skull Bearers. Along the way, they pick up Menion Leah, a friend of Shae’s and the prince of Leah, Balinor Buckhannah, the prince of Callahorn, Hendel, a dwarven warrior, Durin and Dayel, elven brothers sent to accompany them on their journey from the elf kingdom, Orl Fane (very briefly and more a foil than anything), a gnome who has deserted his cause and invokes shades of Gollum, and the thief Panamon Creel and his rock troll companion, Keltset. Together they face countless obstacles including murderous gnomes, haunted tombs, a large water serpent that shoots lasers from its eyes (I may be slightly exaggerating because I’m sure it only shot fireballs from its mouth), and giant monsters made of flesh and steel before facing the Warlock Lord himself with THE SWORD OF SHANNARA!
I finished this through a combination of reading the book on Kindle and listening to it on audiobook, but the bulk of this was completed through the audiobook. The narration of this by Scott Brick wasn’t spectacular. He did a fine job with the story, but I wasn’t moved by his reading. I don’t fault him for that more than I fault the unspectacular nature of the book itself. The story was clunky for me. There was so much of it that was nonsensical with shaky plot direction. Not to mention the parts that were inconsistent with what was happening in the story. I can remember rereading certain passages numerous times and thinking, “This is literally impossible in the context of this story.”
I also concluded that Panamon Creel masquerades as Dragon Age: Inquisition‘s Dorian in his free time while twiddling his mustache and compared the bit about Balinor’s homeland and it’s impregnable walls to Attack on Titans: “On that day mankind received a grim reminder…”
(Just pretend that’s about Balinor with his walls and that’s the Warlock Lord peeking over about to smash them. C’mon, people, use your imagination.)
So, in other words, my bar is set pretty low in that regards, and I rolled with it. I went into this story expecting it to be schlocky fun, and that’s what it was. I was entertained, and there’s nothing more that I could ask for from this book. I don’t need savant-like brilliance from a story to be entertained.
The most annoying part of this book to me was Brooks’ incessant need to remind me how lithe, agile, slim, or lean such characters as Shae, Menion, Durin, and Dayel were. Sure, he’d mention how tall characters were often, especially Allanon who is freakishly tall, but not nearly as much as he liked pointing out how lean theses characters were. Okay, I get it. They’re fit. You could make a drinking game out of this, but it’s also likely you’d get alcohol poisoning if you did. Also, I don’t mind head jumping, but sometimes, he was jumping in multiple heads in the same paragraph, which can be a bit much. Finally, I am so disappointed that the final battle didn’t end with Tyrion in chainmail using the power of DOOM metal to defeat the Warlock King (who by this time had started being called the Skull King randomly after hitting the 60% mark in the book).
You know what? Forget that. As far as I’m concerned that is exactly how this battle ended. I have my headcanon. You can’t take it away from me.
I like to think of this as being Lord of the Rings for Dummies by Tolkien Lite if we have to go that route. It’s not nearly as heavy to digest as Tolkien’s books. Despite the hefty page count (726 according to my Kindle), there’s not all this meandering prose. It moves fairly quickly. I’m not going to say it doesn’t have its rambling moments, though, because I did start getting restless toward the end. However, to be fair to Tolkien, this isn’t nearly as inspired as his books either. On the other hand, to be fair to Brooks, I feel like his writing and fictional situations have probably improved since this initial offering. He’s not a terrible writer, so I’m curious to see how his writing has evolved over almost 40 years.
While I wasn’t bowled over by this (I can be so wishy-washy about fantasy, especially in this vein), this was a palatable enough experience for me and fit well within my expectations for it. I had fun with it. Besides, there are tentacles in it, and tentacles are relevant to my interests and gives this book an automatic 2 stars. Will I finish this trilogy? I think perhaps I will, and yes, all my reviews for this series will probably be derpy.
2.5 stars. I am so annoyed because this could've been so good. Also... This girl needs some Beyoncé in her life. You can like nice shitTL;DR Review:
2.5 stars. I am so annoyed because this could've been so good. Also... This girl needs some Beyoncé in her life. You can like nice shit and be a good ruler, too. No matter how plain someone says you are you can still say, "I'm flawless. I woke up like this. I woke up like this!" Who cares what some random plebes thinks.
Long (very long) Review:
Fortunately for me I’m not usually not usually the one who’s current on the hype train as far as books are concerned if it doesn’t deal with comics. Gaming, television, and movies are a different matter, though. For books, I think my obtuse nature of what’s supposed to be hot in the reading world is simply because there are so many books new and old out there to read that I just don’t have the time to keep up with what’s hot trends in reading. I’m going to read what interests me. I don’t care if it came out before the dawn of man. That’s not to say that sometimes I’m not aware of newer book especially as a blogger who blogs about ARCs and has co-bloggers who blog about them, just more often than not I’m not in the loop and I don’t particularly care that I’m not. God bless you if you’re a book hype monster. I’m not judging you. See me on new video game release day (Tuesdays) and new comics day (Wednesdays), and you’ll see I’m the last person to judge you on hype. I’m downright scary on those days.
I had no idea this book was a hype machine, though. I added it to my list because it sounded interesting, and I wanted to check it out. I’d read maybe one review from a friend, and I’m fairly certain I added it because this person said that this book was one of the few YA books they’ve read that even acknowledged the idea of birth control in a fantasy setting, even if it wasn’t pivotal to the plot. However, that’s a bit disingenuous I found, but more on that later. It wasn’t until I started reading the book and scratching my head a little bit because bits of this story were strange, for lack of better word, that I started sort of looking up more information to see if I was missing something. That’s when I saw this was hyped as Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games with a movie coming soon starring Emma Watson. Funny that since Kelsea is described as being “dark in color” (I took that to mean that she was olive skinned at best and her father was probably one of the darker, conquered races mentioned) and a curvy woman who wasn’t about missing meals. Not necessarily things I’d attribute to Emma Watson, and no, I don’t have anything against Emma Watson, but I digress. With all this new knowledge about the book, I soldiered on and tried to forget I read most of that blurb.
This book follows Kelsea, the new heir to the Tearling throne. For the last nineteen years of her life, she’s been hidden away in the woods with an odd couple who have been preparing her for the day to take her rightful place on the throne. She was hidden away because of assassins, but I guess assassin’s are too dumb to check countryside, though they can track people there. When that day comes, she’s cryptically warned to use her wits and not to make the same mistakes her mother made. Except she doesn’t know anything of her mother’s rule. She only knows her mother died young, was beautiful, and didn’t like to read. She wasn’t allowed to learn anything else about her or her rule, which is stupid. In fact, she’s never been around other people to even know what her mother might’ve been like as a ruler. She doesn’t even truly know what she herself looks like as her keepers had no mirrors and she’s only glimpsed herself once when she was twelve-years-old in some mucky river water when she decided then she was a plain girl.
I would probably call this mature young adult. Not for sexual reasons. It’s light on the romance, but Kelsea is a little older than many YA protagonists, which allowed the author to tell a story that’s a bit more ruthless than you’d normally get. However, that doesn’t mean that all the mature themes were handled well. I thought the premise of this book was an excellent one. However, don’t be be fooled into thinking this is anything like either of the books mentioned earlier, especially not The Hunger Games, and while this certainly kept my interest enough to keep me reading, this book was a bit problematic for me. I was troubled by Johansen she glossed over some pretty appalling things, obviously only using them to make the reader uncomfortable while Kelsea kept saying, “I can’t believe this going on. In my kingdom. RUDE.” Kelsea can’t relate to these things she’s seeing or hearing about outside her books, and therefore, her view of them seems a bit small. Because she doesn’t know much about it, these problems are mourned and swept under the rug for more “important things.”
Kelsea starts this book sounding fairly interesting in looks and temperament. Even though she hasn’t seen herself really, she knows she’s tall, darker than her mother (who was fair), and has curves that leave her mildly self-conscious. It’s nice to read about female protagonists who aren’t some wisp of a girl, but usually for this same reason their looks become a striking point because they’re not that petite wisp of a girl that YA loves so much. I hate when anyone does that. There are a million other things to attack her on–her naivety, her small view of the world, her somewhat stubborn nature. Instead, her looks are mostly the thing that’s used to hurt her. However, I loved this conversation that Kelsea had early in the book that showed some potential for her:
He turned back, expressionless. “I’m sorry. Was there something else, Lady?”
“Why did they bring me a mare, when you all ride stallions?”
“We didn’t know if you’d be able to ride, Lady,” he replied, and this time there was no mistaking the mockery in his voice. “We didn’t know if you could control a stallion.”
Kelsea narrowed her eyes. “What the hell did you think I was doing out there in the woods all these years?”
“Playing with dolls, Lady. Putting up your hair. Trying on dresses, perhaps.”
“Do I look like a girl’s girl to you, Lazarus?” Kelsea felt her voice rising. Several heads had turned toward them now. “Do I look like I spend hours in front of the mirror?”
“Not in the slightest.”
There were some niggling annoyances already showing at this point, but I thought I’d certainly come out of this book more satisfied than not when Kelsea started showing such fire at least. I was looking forward to taking this journey with her as it was obvious that she was about to step into a kingdom that seemed to have little love for her mother and would probably have less for her, especially given no one knows who her father is. There’s also the threat of the queen in a neighboring country and her own uncle who isn’t keen on giving up his rule of Tearling. However, then, we start getting more problems.
First thing, the endless contradictions. Example: one passage Kelsea mentions that one of her guards is devastatingly handsome despite his age and another guard is much younger than the rest and closer to her in age, and then, in the next passage, she thinks they’re all too old for her to find attractive, which clearly isn’t the case as she’s already been eyeing the handsome guard and noted the young guard. Then, a few pages later she notes all the guards are handsome even the one she just noted with a mouthful of broken teeth (as long as he kept his mouth closed). There were many moments like that in this book that I found a bit distracting.
Second issue: What is this world? I mean, really, what is it? At first, I thought I was just reading a fantasy novel set in the usual fantasy world, but it seems like I was actually reading about a dystopian (maybe) future world that regressed for some reason. I’m not sure what that reason is, though. We’re only told of something called The Crossing that happened 300 years ago where nobody thought to preserve knowledge and instead got on Noah’s boat and went on a cruise or something. Was there war? Did famine/supply shortages kill most of the population? Natural disasters? Are they even on Earth anymore? What the fuck is New Europe? What the fuck happened to Old Europe? Why is there a New London? What in the hell is going on here? It’s odd to hear about America and Europe existing at some point, but not anymore–or at least not how we’re used to it–and having zero explanation for it, especially when from time to time you hear about things that used to exist before (like birth control) that they had to find new ways to implement after this Crossing. Unless I missed it. Sometimes, I’m okay with catastrophic events being vague in books. It can work well for some books, but that does not work for this story because of the fantasy impression it gives you. Fantasy stories ask for the world to be explored. It needs to be explored in this setting.
Third issue. There are way too many moments that made me say, “But why would you do that?” There aren’t too many books that don’t get that from me at least once, but the real challenge is making the read so enjoyable that I can forgive and forget. I was only able to do that about half the time with this book. Stupid decision after stupid decision. Ridiculous scene after ridiculous scene. I wanted to know when some of this madness would end. Who in their right mind would think any of these things were smart? I was kind of hoping they’d kill each other in a dramatic fashion.
At least I still had Kelsea… wrong. Kelsea took to the world much better than you’d expect for someone who has been isolated, even with her teachings. I don’t care how much you’ve been taught in your little rustic cabin with your books. Real life isn’t as linear as a book. It’s a complicated affair. She fell into the role of being a ruler a little too well. She started out so promising, but then failed to grow as a character. She was above it all, and it saddened me because she could’ve really come into her own. She actually became quite annoying as the book went on with her constant worrying about not turning out like her mother (who wasn’t that great she learns) while managing to be that kind of condescending that people who have more morals than everyone else manage to be sometimes. I was summarily irked with everything she did by the end of this book. Everything worked out so well for her. She wasn’t pretty, but she was loved by everyone because apparently she’s the only good person in the world and that’s probably because she was basically a hermit for nineteen years.
But hey, at least, I got passages like this:
A thick, guttural sound came from behind her, and the Queen whirled around. But it was only the slave in her bed. She had forgotten about him. He’d performed well, and she’d kept him for the night; a good fuck chased the dreams right away.
Because clearly having prophetic dreams about your demise are just as easily forgotten as that slave in your bed when you remember you have a slave in your bed you’d forgotten about. That has to count for something, right? However, I did like the Red Queen as an antagonist. I really enjoyed her chapters and felt that Johansen set her up as a great foil if only Kelsea had given me more. The Red Queen is kind of what I wished Adora had turned out to to be in Storm Siren. Also, the little tinge of romance actually was something, if I’m to take that as romance. It was very unconventional, even if the jerk love interest is a relatively typical thing. If that was supposed to be romance that is. I don’t know. It wasn’t just in your face at all. It might just be the start of a weird friendship. This book had me all sideways. I’m probably not thinking about this thing right.
The narrator of this book, Katherine Kellgren, was a strange creature. Her narration definitely fit the strange nature of this book. I think I listened to this book in a kind of bewildered amazement for quite some time. One moment she was simply amazing with narration, and then, the next she seemed to be screaming for no particular reason. It was kind of funny. I don’t think she’s a terrible narrator. In fact, I’d venture to say that she’s quite good when she’s not randomly screaming. I’m laughing now thinking about all the screaming as I write this review. However, she did do voices both male and female justice and narrated the story well when she wasn’t off her hinges. Yes, I did mention that the second book was an audiobook I was looking forward to, but Davina Porter is narrating the second book. I’m sure she’ll be a little more consistent. (Edit: As of this posting, I’ve listened to Katherine Kellgren narrate another story, which I listened to after this book, and she is a fine narrator, but I’d already written this review prior to that story.)
I know I shouldn’t be interested in seeing where this story is going, but I’m a glutton for punishment, and I have to know what’s going to happen next. Kelsea was starting to show some gray areas at the end there, areas that hinted at more than just a girl trying to play queen. I know she’s going to have to make some tough choices, but some of her decrees and demands at the end didn’t seem so much like touch choices than, “I’m queen. I do what I want.” So, I’m interested to see where that is going, if it goes anywhere
After much hemming and hawing and promises of getting around to it, I am the last one here at the BiblioSanctum tRead more reviews @ The Bibliosanctum
After much hemming and hawing and promises of getting around to it, I am the last one here at the BiblioSanctum to finally get started on this series. Its availability on Kindle Unlimited was the final push that I needed to try the series.
Each year, Blue Sargent spends St. Mark’s Eve at a ruined church helping her clairvoyant mother record the names of people who will die in the next twelve months. Blue is unable to see the ghosts herself, but she amplifies the powers of people who have psychic abilities. This year, however, is different for two reasons. It’s the first year that Blue has spent St. Mark’s Eve with someone other than her mother, and it is the first year that she has seen a spirit of one of the soon-to-be dead. The spirit’s name is Gansey, and he’s a student at a local pre-Ivy League boys school, Aglionby. To Blue, boys are trouble enough, but Aglionby boys are bastards. But Blue finds herself drawn into the world of Gansey and his friends–Adam, Noah, and Ronan. Compounding to her problems, Blue is also burdened by a warning from every psychic in her life. She’ll kill her true love with a first kiss, and as she was told the night she saw Gansey’s spirit:
“There are only two reasons a nonseer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love… or you killed him.”
This is my first outing with a Maggie Stiefvater book, and after reading some synopses on her other books, I think this was my best introduction to her writing. Stiefvater excels in many areas with this book. The story takes a little time to jumpstart itself. However, it is never dull, and it certainly lays the groundwork for a thoughtful story. Her handling of the supernatural elements are done in a way that could make them almost believable if placed in a real world setting while retaining that magical allure. She’s taken typical genre tropes, such as the “rich boy meets poor girl” and the “tormented bad boy,”and weaved into these familiar stories a complexity and nuance that both young adults and adults can appreciate. While I would’ve enjoyed just a little more depth of character for some of her characters, she does a fair job of presenting characters that you care about, characters that have their flaws and strengths. You love them. You cheer them. You get angry with them. One thing that kind of irked with me with the story, as far as character is concerned, is that the main antagonist felt so weak in the grand scheme of the story. This person had weak motivations, weak intentions, and no substance. I dislike antagonists that I can only feel apathetic toward at best. Antagonists should pull emotions from me I didn’t even know I had. Finally, as a history nerd and supernatural buff, the coupling of history and the supernatural kept my interest. This was almost Arthurian in a way without being about King Arthur.
As for the narration, I have a bit of mixed feelings about Will Patton’s narration. I feel his voice is both perfect and imperfect for this book. I enjoyed the almost hushed tone he used for the overall book However, parts of the book are narrated so brilliantly and other parts of the book, his narration felt jarring, a clash of tone and words. Funny thing is I can’t say whether there were more brilliant parts or more clashing parts, but it doesn’t turn me off to the narration. This is probably just another case of a narrator that I need to spend much more time with before I decide if I truly like them or not. One high praise I have for him is that I enjoyed his Southern accents, which I can be really finicky about as a Southerner myself. In fact, I enjoyed most of the voices he did for the characters in this book.
This book was quite a pleasant surprise, I didn’t expect to get as involved with as I did, especially since I wasn’t drawn to this book. However, the books I don’t feel any particular way about are usually the ones that manage to really capture my interest and imagination. Stiefvater has created something amazing with this story, and that ending certainly prods readers to seek out the next book....more
Silk #1 is worth a mention. There are too few mainstream books with women of color placed squarely in the center. (CindCrossposted @ The Bibliosanctum
Silk #1 is worth a mention. There are too few mainstream books with women of color placed squarely in the center. (Cindy Moon is Asian-American.) Not only do I feel this book is important for that reason, but this is really a good female-led comic despite a few bumps I’ll talk about later. (Skip to the bottom for the TL;DR version.)
Before I talk about the book itself, here’s the gist of how Cindy Moon got her spider powers. I apologize that this is probably not going to sound like the greatest story when condensed down to these few lines, but it is what it is. The spider that bit Peter Parker also managed to bite another person, Cindy Moon, giving her the same powers. (More importantly, she can weave clothing from her fingertips. Aesthetics.) Instead of having the free range that Peter Parker had, a man named Ezekiel Sims kept her in isolation for 10 years until Peter found her. Yes, that’s a fairly small view of what happened, but to talk about this in any more detail will require an aside just for this purpose.
This book starts with Cindy fighting a fairly cartoonish villain, named Dragonclaw. She equates to a Pokémon. (Side note: I freaking love Pokémon!) While fighting him, her powers begin to short out whether this relates to her decade in isolation or not is unknown, but things start to go downhill from there. She’s helped by your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man who jokingly accuses her of not calling, but their interactions say there was something there and something might still be there.
I enjoyed this book, especially that I’m usually not the biggest fan of Spiderverse, but I almost always love the Spider-Women of that verse. Cindy joins Jessica Drew and Anya Corazon (Araña) in my heart. Her story focuses a bit on her past and her present, giving readers a brief glimpse of who she was before she became Silk and who she is now, shifting between a brilliant, headstrong teenage girl on the edge of adulthood and a socially awkward adult woman who’s trying to find her place as a person and a superhero. Despite the funnier moments in the book, Cindy is a woman lost, a woman struggling with her past for various reasons, a woman who wishes things were “quiet,” and a woman who still doesn’t completely understand her own strength. I’ll pause to compliment Thompson for managing to catch the nuances of a teenager butting heads with her parents over love, sports, and school without seemingly being over-broody or over-cheesy. There is a fair bit of cheesiness in this book, though, but Cindy even mentions that she’s got to work on her quips.
Pop culture features prominently in this book. That can be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes. However, much like the pop culture Marvel has used in other newer titles, I find it chuckle-worthy and well-timed while being a tad more finely clever (if such a statement can be used with memes) in terms of wit with this book. We don’t get doge memes here, which many people don’t know, instead we get my personal favorite #AskingForAFriend, which is easily understood in the right context because we’ve all had those “asking for a friend” moments. Not that I’m downing the doge meme. Sure, some of it won’t stand the test of time when my kids read this 20 years later, but it adds a little fun to the book. Also, kudos to this book for that Sleepy Hollow/Supernatural mash-up shout out. Robbie Thompson writes for Supernatural, and Orlando Jones, one of the stars of Sleepy Hollow, is known to tweet avidly about Supernatural and mashing the two shows up.
Next up: I loved the art in this book. It’s fun. There’s an anime-ish quality about it while making me think of the Teen Titan cartoon (the 2003 show, not Teen Titans Go to be clear). Yes, I can accuse it of being a little “girly” at points, but it’s not done in a way that makes me feel like someone went heavy on the glitter because this is a girl (and all girls like pink and glitter, duh). It’s subtle, it’s pretty, and it fits the feel of the book. It manages to be both bright and dark, if that makes any sense, and it’s so busy. Okay, maybe “busy” isn’t what I meant. I mean, the panels feel like they move and flow with their actions. It feels active.
Now, to get the “bad” out of the way. One thing that sort of bothered me is that, while Peter definitely doesn’t overshadow Cindy in her book, I didn’t really like her following in Peter’ footsteps by working for JJ (okay, she’s technically not working for him, but you know), using her own secret identity for stories. I understand why they did it in context of the story, but it felt like they could’ve given her something more unique than that. It’s a small complaint really.
Next, I will concede that Silk might be a little confusing for newcomers because it does require some knowledge that you’ll likely have to Google for (or ask me!). It’s not nearly as new reader friendly as Squirrel Girl. It was a little disjointed for me, so I can only imagine how it might make someone new feel. However, I think this book is still worth the effort of reading after you have a grasp of her background. I just feel like they were just trying to cover a little too much ground this issue. I’m hoping subsequent issues will be less harried.
Overall, did Tiara love this book? I think one panel can sum it all up my feelings:
TL;DR: In the words of the esteemed Daniel Bryans:
Let's hope Spider-Gwen inspires me as much when I read it (later today). <33...more
Before I get on to the review. Let’s start out with a very important fact about me:
My first tattoo was dedicated to my love of music. It’s my lifeblood, so I went into these book very expectant. Now, let’s kick things off with my thoughts on The Hum and the Shiver.
wenty-year-old Bronwyn Hyatt returns to Cloud County, Tennessee after a horrifying experience in Iraq brings her back to the States a war hero. She returns to her home a place she both dreads and loves, a place she has a deep connection to. Bronwyn is a Tufa, and they are at the apex of their magical strength, which manifests in music, when they’re home. The Tufa are an enigmatic ethnic group living in the mountains, believed to have been there when the first white settlers stumbled into the area. They’re called everything from black to Native American. However, no one knows for sure who they are or where they come from. Bronwyn is a pure-blood Tufa and one of the “First Daughters,” women who carry the songs of the Tufa through the generations. Even though Tufa men sing the songs, as well, the First Daughters are the most powerful and most important of the Tufa. Despite this, Bronwyn is a bit of black sheep among her kind. She was rebellious as a child, eventually leaving the safety of the Tufa land for the military. She returns a rebellious woman who is insistent of honoring her heritage while embracing the change that seems to be coming for them. On top of this change, signals of death are in the air, leaving the Tufa on high alert because the signs point to the Hyatt family.
This book also follows an uninspired reporter named Don Swayback who has lived away from the Tufa for years, but he is part Tufa. With Bronwyn’s return, which he reports on for the small paper he works for, he feels something awakening in him as he begins to embrace more of his heritage. That chance encounter stirs something in him. Being part Tufa means he may or may not have the capacity for the magic as explained by this passage:
“Anyway, we need to talk about blood. You got more Tufa in you than you realize. It ain’t always about quantity: you can have a man ninety-five percent pureblood, but if that missing five percent is the part that lets him ride the wind, he ain’t a true Tufa. You know about riding the night wind?” Don shook his head.“You will, I reckon. I hope. One night you’ll go outside, look up at the sky, and either hear the hum or feel the shiver. If it’s the shiver … well, you’re still kin and I love you, but it means you’ll never be a real Tufa. If it’s the hum, though, you’ll feel the stirrin’ of your wings.”
I should briefly point out that in this book the term “the hum and the shiver” is used frequently and in many beautifully poetic ways. It can be used to express many different things in the Tufa life.
Don’t think you’re going to get just a flowery book about music and magic. There’s politics at play among the Tufa. While many believe them to be one people, they are actually two separate and equally power factions of people who don’t like each other much and seem to be vying for power. Don’s story can seem a little disjointed from the rest of the book until you keep in mind there is a power struggle going on. Also, there’s much prejudice that the Tufa deal with, especially with the state trooper that patrols the area whose role isn’t much more than to be your standard racist villain. There’s also a few villains among their own including a man named Dwayne Gitterman, an ex-boyfriend of Bronwyn’s, who has “burned” the music out of him through his own evil. While he’s more interesting as a villain for this, he isn’t much better a villain than the state trooper except for his Tufa connection. There’s also that looming violence that Bronwyn dealt with in Iraq, which thankfully isn’t fully explored, mainly because Bronwyn insists on not revisiting that part of her ordeal. There’s some mention of violence against women, even a scene where one man sort of describes how he could carry out a rape against Bronwyn (he’s really not that stupid, though), but he does do some other violent things. This is redneck country, expect some ugliness is what I’m saying–in language and actions. It’s totally in keeping with the setting of such a story, but it may offend some.
I will admit in explaining the Tufa at points I think Bledsoe was trying to be as plain as possible for clarity’s sake, but instead those passages started to feel redundant and had me asking, “What can’t the Tufa do? Can one Superman punch someone into the sun? Asking for a friend.” On their own land, they hold a lot of power. Some people may even ask why would the Tufa even ever leave their lands with that in mind, but just because something is the “best” thing for you doesn’t mean that your heart doesn’t long to see things, to see the outside world, to have new experiences, even if that means weakening yourself or facing the unknown to do it. People run from their heritage all the time. That’s part of why Bronwyn left and she is hardly the first Tufa to leave, even in her family, but she found the need to be home greater than her need for something different. Bronwyn as a character left me conflicted. She was selfish and selfless, and maybe that describes most of us. However, so many of her actions that seemed selfless also seemed to really further her own selfish actions. Despite the terror she’s been through, though, she is still a twenty-year-old woman barely out of girlhood and it shows. She’s strong, weak, self, sexual, and a million other things, and despite this, we need rounded female characters that don’t just embody our idea of what a heroine of a story should be.
The love interests of the story come in two forms. One is a older teenaged boy (which may squick some people because he is like seventeen), Terry-Joe Gitterman, the brother of Bronwyn’s former boyfriend, and a pastor ten years Bronwyn’s senior named Craig. Tufa don’t have religion per se. That’s not to say they don’t believe in God, but they have their own beliefs and they are very private about them. So, giving Bronwyn a Christian love interest was intriguing. Both provided different angles to Bronwyn’s idea of love and sex, and in the end I really thought Bledsoe did something unique where this love triangle was concerned. While I did think Bledsoe played it a little safe with Craig, doing much to make him so likable despite him not really being someone the Tufa would open up to, I did like that Bledsoe presented Christianity not as something that should be about brimstone and fire but as about your actions and what you do to help your fellow man without their being some burdened placed on the actions because “God is watching!” In other words, Craig did things because he knew they were the right thing to do, and he didn’t condemn those he helped because they might not believe as he did. I only say he played it safe because there were moments when he did have the Christianity be so “in your face” and then back away from it instead of leading to more challenging conversations.
About halfway through the book, I stopped listening to the narration. My reasoning for this is because Card’s voice reminded me too much of the lady who co-narrated the novel, Wreckage (and that book annoyed me, so she faced a prejudiced in me getting to really enjoy her narration) and didn’t fit how I think Bronwyn–young, yet old all at the same time–would sound like, which came off too flighty and just didn’t feel right. Also, Card wasn’t really singing the verses in the book more than chanting them when I was looking to hear some twangy, bluegrass type music for the Tufa songs. As for Rudnicki, his voice was so deep that it distracted me. I love deep-voiced narrators both male and female, but his voice actually lulled me and made me miss bits of the story because it was easy to get caught up in his voice, which is very musical in nature compared to Card’s. Don’t let my thoughts on the narration deter you from listening to it, though, if you’re considering the audiobooks. Fun fact: Card attributes Rudnicki for much of her training.
I would be lying if I said that part of my ratings and feeling on these books come from many reasons aside from just the story itself. I connected with the story as a southerner and knowing how small towns can be with their secrets and their “haints.” Secondly, and the larger reason I started this series, is that I love books that combine music and magic in inventive ways. As a musician, I could relate too well to so many lines in this books about the hum and the shiver. My instructor was one of those people who believed you had people who played music and then you had people who music was so much a part of them that to rip music from their soul would surely kill them. She always said proudly that music was in my soul, and she still brags to this day about me being the youngest child she’s ever taken as a piano student because she “saw” something in me. I played a few other instruments, but the piano is my Magda (what Bronwyn calls her mandolin and most treasured instrument). In a way, she believed much of what this books believed, but in a much more realistic way. And I can name a few musicians that can touch me in a way that feels like something short of magic. This book does a beautiful job of capturing that feeling, the emotions and stories that music can capture in them. ...more
This was my face during this whole thing starting from the very first lines:
I know many people enjoyed this, but I'm not sure this story is for me.This was my face during this whole thing starting from the very first lines:
I know many people enjoyed this, but I'm not sure this story is for me. It managed to do every single thing I hate about some YA novels, but the premise was interesting, which is about its only saving grace right now with me. I'm putting the rest of these books (novellas really) on the bottom of my TBR pile where I will wait for the day I feel compelled to continue this story. Hopefully later parts will make me forgive this part because it has potential, but this was not it for me. ...more
In simplest terms, The Bees is a novel that explores the phenomena of cRead more reviews @ The Bibliosanctum.
"The Queen is dead! Long live the Queen!"
In simplest terms, The Bees is a novel that explores the phenomena of colony collapse in bees with a speculative slant. In more complex terms, this is a dystopian novel that takes issues ranging from racism to self-acceptance and investigates them in this structured “society,” entwining science and myth to present a story that is both analytical and dreamy. It’s a little strange to call this a dystopian story when you have the bee world under a human world that operates “normally.” In fact, readers only see humans briefly a total of four times during this story. We do get to witness the affect that humans have on the bee world, though. And even later, we find out that this story runs concurrent to a human story that we don’t witness, but readers learn is represented symbolically through the bees story.
The hero of the story is Flora 717. We start at her birth where she narrowly escapes the Fertilization Police whose job consists of eradicating anything that doesn’t fall within the hives standards of normalcy. Flora is born too large, too dark, and she’s born into the lowest caste in the hive–sanitation. However, she’s born able to speak unlike other members in Flora. She also has the special ability to make Flow, a substance used to feed the Queen’s offspring. One of the hive’s Sages has mercy on Flora to sedate a curiosity. Flora overcomes many insurmountable odds to reinvent herself many times while in the hive, moving from the nursery to sanitation to foraging. Her actions decide the fate of her hive.
Flora lives in a world that subsists on rules, duty, Mother’s Love (a ritual involving the Queen giving off a scent that reminds the hive of her “love”), and appreciating Maleness (represented by spoiled, lazy male bees with names like “Sir Linden” who use crude language while speaking like they’re Victorian transplants). This world reminds her that she falls short of perfection repeatedly while demanding her loyalty, obedience, and her sweat. These are things that Flora is willing to give to her hive regardless of being an anomaly until she encounters the strongest emotion of all.
Orlagh Cassidy (great name!) narrates Flora’s story from the days she spends sheltered in the hive to her feeling of freedom as a forager. Some of her voices can sound similar, but I sort of wrote this off because the bees are a hive unit. There’s not supposed to be much variance between them in their respective jobs, so it makes sense that many of them sound like the same bee. The voices she uses for the Sir Maleness bunch is hilarious. It may not be the most manly thing you’ll hear from a female narrator, but she captures the tone, the arrogance, the entitlement dead on. It’s really hard not to chuckle a little bit the males. Her voice for the Spiders, especially the Black Minerva, was notable as well. The Spiders, along with the bees’ cousins the Wasps, serve as one of many outside antagonists in this story. The Spiders are witch women, truth-filled villains who speak hard facts if their high price is met. However, Cassidy’s voicing of Flora is where she excels and manages to capture the most variance and emotional nuance.
Complaints? There are a few. This first complaint isn’t really the book’s fault. Again, who is writing these blurbs where they insist on comparing books to other pieces of existing literature? This is really starting to get ridiculous. Let’s just strike this book being like The Hunger Games and The Handmaid’s Tale. The only thing this book has in common with The Hunger Games is the fact that its “citizens” are divided up into different groups, which could be like any piece of media (or real life) that divides its people up. Now, it does share a similar sentiment and atmosphere as The Handmaid’s Tale, but comparing it to that book overlooks the unique angle that Paull takes with her story.
Second, the presentation of the social issues can sometimes seem a bit too abstract. While reading this, I wondered if the messages of things such as racism, sexism, and class issues might be lost on some readers. Despite what emotions this book may tug in readers, it’s easy to disconnect from the underlying message because BEES! I might’ve pondered this a bit too much while I was listening to this. Also, I applaud Paull for using science (while taking liberties, of course) and trying to combine it with myth, but there are some bits that can come off a little too dreamy and fairy tale-like such as the Melissae, which is what the Sages call their collective group.
Overall, Flora’s story is a compelling, emotional journey. She’s tough both physically and emotionally while being tempered with inquisitiveness, independence, and sensitivity. I’m still asking myself how I managed to be gut-punched in the feelings by bees. ...more
Gardens of the Moon is an ambitious novel that’s not so linear in plot. It’s not really something that can be narRead more reviews @ The Bibliosanctum
Gardens of the Moon is an ambitious novel that’s not so linear in plot. It’s not really something that can be narrowed down plot-wise. You’re dropped into this world and left to piece together what’s going on through the narrative with very little hand-holding. Some may dislike that and find the story jarring and disorienting while trying to figure out what’s going on, and it can be. Personally, I found it exciting to start the story in medias res without all the padding. However, you’re either going to go into the book with a broader view of the story or you’re not. There’s nothing wrong with either view, but if you have a hard time reconciling yourself with the haziness of the story, you may find it going to your DNF pile. However, things do start to become clearer as you near the end of the book.
This is a complex, dense story. Not something I’d recommend everyone listen to, especially if you have a hard time keeping up with characters and factions without a visual. I found myself having to rewind sections to listen to again to make sure that I fully comprehended what I’d read/listened to. I also had the Kindle book, so immersive reading became my best friend with this book. This book demands your full attention, and it’s easy to lose track of things if you let your mind get off track too often. If you still decide to go audiobook route, Lister’s performance will not disappoint. He’s an excellent narrator. Some of his characters can sound a bit too similar, but not so much that I disliked his narration. My only personal complaint rests in some of the voices he used for characters were not voices I’d attribute to them, such as Kalam who read as if he’d have a much deeper voice than the one Lister used for him. However, his Kruppe is sure to keep listeners amused.
Layers upon layers of story are heaped on here. However, from the beginning, you can see different seeds being sown for future events. You have an empress, a usurper who betrayed the former emperor of Malazan, moving across the lands in an attempt to consolidate her power. Only one city remains after the defeat of the city Pale, a large city named Darujhistan. While her reign seems absolute, cracks begin to stress her goals. Darujhistan fears for itself after the fall of Pale, but there is also a political struggle happening on the local level that is being manipulated by a ragtag bunch of players that includes an alchemist, a playboy, and an assassin. Finally, the gods have decided to play their hand and turn this story over even more. Weaved around these things are numerous characters, factions, motivations, and side stories. More than a few people have some investment in the outcome of the empire.
Erikson really took a chance writing a book that could’ve turned many off to the story. This seems as if it will be the kind of book that will become clearer in retrospect as you move through the series, the kind of book where you’ll remember it as the book where certain threads began. I think, while this story may confuse some, there’s just enough intrigue shining through to keep people hanging on for the next story
Hm. Uh-huh. Well, again... that was... another book.
Hidden Bodies is the follow-up to Caroline Kepnes' novel You. We continue to follow Joe, a psychoHm. Uh-huh. Well, again... that was... another book.
Hidden Bodies is the follow-up to Caroline Kepnes' novel You. We continue to follow Joe, a psychopath who only wants love. In the previous book, he incorporated himself into his intended's life by using social media. That didn't work out so well for him, and by the book's end, he'd met an alluring con artist who was off the grid unlike his previous girlfriend who could barely live without social media. We catch up with Joe in this second book as he's living his ideal life with his new girlfriend only to be--you guessed it--swindled by his con artist girlfriend. This leads him to LA where he meets the woman who surely has to be the love of his life, a producer named Love.
Despite my mixed feelings for You, I found it a strangely compelling story given that it's told completely from the POV of the stalker. Hidden Bodies was a worthy follow-up and, at times, I felt I enjoyed it more than You because it found steadier footing than the previous book. As the book wore on, though, it became redundant and seemed to go on way longer than it should have. There was little variance to Joe and his reaction to things going on in his life. You could pretty much predict how he'd react in any given situation because that's how he always reacted in a situation, which made the end of the book a bit tedious for me. There were only a couple of things of note that happened in the end, and if it hadn't been for Santino Fontana's excellent narration, I would've skipped to the end of the book. Seriously, though, if you like audiobooks, you owe it to yourself to listen to Fontana's narration. He is amazing in both books. Overall, I'd rate this about the same as its predecessor. Maybe edging it out just a tad....more
First of all, I have to say the cover for this book is gorgeous. With that aside, speculative YA fiction and I have a strange relationship. I’m either unmoved by much of it or I outright hate it. I can’t pinpoint why this happens since I enjoy YA books in every other genre. Exception: I enjoy YA horror more than most sci-fi and fantasy YA. However, if there is one YA genre that I seem to dislike more than the rest in the speculative vein, it’s without a doubt fantasy YA. Because of this, when I find a YA fantasy book that I enjoy, I latch on to it for dear life while reading it because I don’t know when I’ll feel so attached to another book in this genre again. And in true fashion, just like the last fantasy YA book I truly enjoyed (we’re getting to what it was), it ended with me wanting to make dying whale noises. Like who told you it was okay to mess with my feelings like that? Who gave you the right? I so mean that in the nicest way possible because I enjoyed this book:
I’m doing the Popsugar Reading Challenge again, and this book was my “A book based on a fairy tale” choice. This came to me by chance. I like imaginative retellings, and I have a ton on my TBR. As I was searching my list, Goodreads recommended this book to me because I read and enjoyed Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (a Peter Pan retelling from Tiger Lily’s POV). I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a fantasy YA book this much since Tiger Lily, and I read that two years ago. Don’t believe me. Check any fantasy YA review I’ve written since 2013 and you’ll learn. The blurb for it caught my interest: “Seven emotionless princesses. Three ghostly sirens. A beautiful, malicious witch haunted by memories. A handsome, self-mutilating prince.”
Drown is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but don’t think this follows the Disney happily-ever-after version most people have come to know. This is Hans Christian Andersen dark. The Sea King fathers seven daughters each born a year apart. Merfolk live abnormally long lives, dying at exactly 300-years-old, if nothing takes them from life sooner, and they believe this is so because they do not suffer what is called the Great Condition. Merfolk believe that only humans suffer from this condition, which is why their lifespans are so short. When children come of age within the sea kingdom, they are allowed to visit the surface and observe humans from a safe distance in the sea. It’s during this time when the Sea King’s youngest and strangest child visits the surface that she falls in love with an emotional, disturbed prince, and she decides that she will be human and win his love and a soul of her own (because merfolk believe only humans have souls, given to them by God, while merfolk are some false creation) no matter the cost… and the cost is great.
You follow the mermaid as she convinces herself that the prince loves her, that everything he does he does it because of her, for her, while knowing the truth deep in her heart. It’s an emotional journey that explores not just this romance, but the origin of the merfolk and their emotional detachment, the turbulence of new love and the honesty of enduring love, and the emotions that often lead us to make rash decisions, even as we’re warned that emotions, especially love and hate, will often deceive us. The book even starts with this warning: “We are bid to receive the ones that seek us, and grant their heart’s desire. But beware your heart’s desire, for those that seek us hide broken hearts, and broken hearts are divided. They will lie to you, they will deceive you.”
Even though this calls itself a “A Twisted Take on the Classic Fairy Tale,” if you know anything about Andersen’s fairy tales, then you know that often these stories are often bittersweet at best, and the original vision is pretty dark in its own right. In fact, this books follow so closely to the original story that it reads like Dalseno is filling out the story while managing to make it feel like a creation of her own. She makes many brilliant, intriguing changes, but if you’re expecting Disney, this isn’t it.
With that being said, this is a touch melodramatic even in its beauty and has portions that can come off silly in a dramatic way. Also, I’m not sure I particularly care for how she handled the prince’s cutting, which seemed more for convenience and to make him seem more tortured and dark. Honestly, I’m not sure I bought into the prince’s “tortured soul” as much as Dalseno wanted, but this book was 90% excellent and I overlooked the fact that I spent a good portion of this book thinking, “Shoo, prince. Get your life together, honey. Just get your life.”
The handling of the self-mutilation can seem kind of insensitive because it comes off as a superfluous device a bit. I’m sure that’s not how she meant it and others might see it differently, but trigger warning. There were other elements of the book that seemed to be in place more for convenience sake and factored into the story little once they’d serve their purpose as well. These are things that kept it from being a 5-star read for me, but it still goes on my favorites list.
In reading this book and thinking about why I enjoyed it much in the same way that I enjoyed Tiger Lily, I realize that I like this complex, lyrical, dark, magical realism style that books like these bring to the table. I enjoy the emotional, visceral journey including most of the melodrama. They’re love stories, but they’re so much more than that. The words and feelings in books like these are haunting, and the exploration of feelings and ideas are poetically moving. These are the kind of books that stay on my mind and I revisit time and time again.
Narrator: Alessandro Juliani | Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios (July 31, 2013) | Whispersync Ready: No
\The 70s and 80s must’ve been a time to be alive if you were SFF author. Despite how I may feel about the books that came from that era, a unique crop of stories emerged from that time. Thanks to a recent Audible sale I was able to snag the first book in Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber series, which came recommended, from some people. I figured this could serve as my cautious first step into the series without committing to the omnibus.
A man, Corwin, wakes in a hospital with no recollection of his memories. He knows that he’s been in a car accident that should’ve been lethal. However, he doesn’t know why or how the accident occurred. He knows that the medical staff in the facility he’d been confined to had been using too much sedative to keep him under for some reason. He learns that his sister has been paying for his stay, so it’s with this knowledge his adventure begins as he tries to remember who he is and complete the path to power that he’s begun. Corwin is an exiled prince vying for control over his homeland Amber, a version of earth from which all other earthly realities are imperfectly copied. Their father has been missing for years and thought dead. Only a few brothers are believed to have a reasonable chance of claiming the throne, including Corwin. The other siblings act as pawns in the game, changing alliances as needed, giving support to one brother over another as it suits them.
When I started reading this, I wasn’t sure if I subscribed to the reasoning behind all this infighting between the siblings. On one hand, having the king’s children fighting over his throne is to be expected, but on the other hand, after a few revelations, I started asking, “To what end?” After about midway through the book, it started to feel like the real reason they’re fighting over the throne is because of the status symbol it’ll give them. I’m not sure if I even believe it’s worth all the effort they’re expending on it and each other. It’s petty and immature, and maybe that’s what Zelzany was going for–to show the fickle nature of these characters more than trying to get me invested in this story about a king’s abdicated throne and his warring children. People have fought for much less than a throne.
I don’t think I ever became too attached to any character, least of all Corwin. Okay, maybe that’s not completely true. I do think the ending did wonders in making me feel like I could like Corwin more if I kept reading. Most of Corwin’s siblings, aside from a few, aren’t in the story long enough for them to matter to me. I found elements of the story more interesting than the struggle between the characters such as the explanation of the Pattern, learning more about the trumps (playing cards), the shadows, etc. Zelazny really excelled there with his take on the magic of this world. Most of my rating comes from the fact that I liked the ideas he used in the story, and I can actually see why writers are inspired by his work in that sense.
The narration. Let’s see how I can condense this without falling into giggles. I’d read that these audiobooks are an improvement over Zelazny’s own self-narration of the story that existed for years. While I certainly have no quarrel with Alessandro Juliani, I can’t say that I cared for his narration of this book. It wasn’t terrible exactly. It just seemed strange, and it didn’t do the story any favors either. Some of the dated language sounded so stilted and silly coming from Juliani. His narration made it hard for me to take this story seriously, and that peppered my overall view of this book.
I’m still on the fence about this one. Admittedly, I probably should’ve gotten the omnibus and just read the whole thing rather than taking it bit by bit like this. While I spent much of this book with one skeptical eyebrow raised, I did like the ending considerably. It felt like the book had finally reached a comfortable stride and I was just beginning to really get lost in the story when this first book ended, which means I’ll probably be reading the next book soon....more
At the end of The Dream Thieves, Blue's mother disappears leaving behind a note that she is going underground. Throughout this book Bl
3.5 of 5 stars
At the end of The Dream Thieves, Blue's mother disappears leaving behind a note that she is going underground. Throughout this book Blue struggles with trusting her mother and being afraid for her mother at the same time as she and her Raven Boys move within touching distance of their goal.
If you love a good plot to go with your characters, Blue Lily, Lily Blue might disappoint. As I mentioned in my review of The Dream Thieves, the plot has taken a back seat to the characters. What started as a fairly interesting plot has been reduced to flailing in the wind with these last two books. Stiefvater's villains also continue to be a point of contention with me. Greenmantle, the antagonist from the last book, makes a personal appearance in this book, but this time he brings his mustache twirling wife along for the ride. However, just as with the first two books, there's still not much compelling about these villains despite this extended look at Greenmantle. Even the other characters seem to barely spare Greenmantle and his wife more than an exasperated sigh for their troubles. They add no substance to an already sputtering plot that is really starting to become redundant in a droning way.
If you don't mind a thin plot and love characters, then this will definitely be a treat, as characters continues to be Stiefvater's strength and is obviously what she enjoys writing. This continues to explore the characters that we have come to know and love and their relationship with each other. I loved how the relationship between Blue and the Raven Boys is described as them all being in love with one another.
But what she didn’t realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.
Adam learns to listen to Cabeswater's needs, reconciling himself with the strange nature of its mutterings and manifestations, while coming to terms with his own feelings of inferiority and learning that his friendships are absolute and lasting. Blue discovers that she is so much more than an amplifier for other people's "magic." While the full extent of this isn't explored in this book, it leaves open so many possibilities for her in the next book and beyond. Ronan continues to be Ronan, but we learn more about his dream things including a reveal about someone in his own life that he pulled from his dreams. Gansey seemed to have the least amount of development other than to start showing more frayed ends around that cultured, privileged perfection he tries so hard to show the world.
Other characters in this series continue to pop in and amuse readers such as the always acerbic Calla, and there's an introduction of a new character that I suppose will be important in the next book, even if I felt his introduction at this points felt a bit forced. (I like the character, but it's hard to see him fitting in the story at this point.) This book also begins to set the groundwork for what will come after their search for Glendower. They're preparing to graduate and they're thinking about what they want to do with their lives. There is disappointment and yearning in these moments as befitting to kids their age. This prods the readers to start thinking of the future (and the end of this story) for this group.
Will Patton returns as the narrator for this book, and even with my mixed feelings of his narration, this series wouldn't be the same without his voice.
I think Blue Lily, Lily Blue tries to be more than it really is. Part of the synopsis says, "Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel." A mother certainly did disappear, but the rest of this doesn't really seem to come to fruition. I can see it happening for some of those things, but it's so murky. The plot is just not strong enough to really strongly support most of those claims. It's not a bad book by any means, and there are plenty of revelations that come to light in this book along with a heartbreaking moment near the end. However, this book seemed more ambitious than anything. There was much going on with the characters, but it doesn't really move forward much in terms of story. ...more
Libby "Baby" Day is the only surviving member of a brutal murder that claimed her mother and her two older sisters. Her brother, Ben, stands accused oLibby "Baby" Day is the only surviving member of a brutal murder that claimed her mother and her two older sisters. Her brother, Ben, stands accused of the murders--based largely on Libby's testimony, which she admits early is a lie, and his uncooperative behavior--and has spent twenty-five years in prison for the murders. Libby has spent these years living on a trust fund created by sympathizers for her while living in a perpetual state of self-destruction. However, her sympathizers have largely moved on to other tragedies, and Libby's money has dried up. In desperation, Libby begins helping a group known as the "kill club" to investigate the circumstances surrounding her family's death and her brother's possible innocence.
The murder of Libby's family has left her ambitionless, lost. She doesn't want to work and doesn't want to "try" to lead anything that might resemble a normal life. She's spent the past decades barely bothering to keep her own utilities on. She's grown into a selfish woman who tries to use her misfortune to continue her sorry existence. While this might not endear her to many readers, I can understand her turning out as she did. Everyone doesn't grow from their tragedies, or at least, they don't grow in ways that would be deemed positive. Libby doesn't have many redeeming qualities, but her life view, her attitudes, were bred out of a necessity to protect herself. It isn't until she starts investigating her family's deaths at the behest of the kill club that she starts to actually have an aim in her life as she works past her painful memories in her own way.
This is the first book that I've read by Gillian Flynn. I have watched Gone Girl finally, but I still haven't read the book. I started Dark Places on a whim after two of my friends flailed over the book. I also remembered catching a quick glimpse of the end of the movie, and curiosity got the better of me with this story. (I've since watched the whole movie.) This started a bit slow, but it finally hit a stride with me a few hours in. This book is told from three different perspectives--Libby's, her mother Patty's, and her brother's Ben. The latter two tell the story from the past on the day of the murder. What a journey this story is. Aside from the mystery aspect, there are so many things being touched on here from abuse to poverty. It's a dark, depressing story revolving around people who didn't have much going for them in 1985 and certainly don't have much going for them now. This also captured the sensationalism that follows cases like this fairly well.
I follow a popular-ish case in the media involving a man who was convicted of his ex-girlfriend's murder in 1999 when they were seniors in high school. He recently had a hearing to see if he'd be granted a new trial after 16 years in prison--a decision that the judge is still working on after five days of testimony in early February. Parts of this book made me reflect on just how true it feels to real life as far as people putting a sensational slant on such a tragic event. I have watched supporters of the man convicted of this murder express dismay toward the family because they still maintained the system worked. It hasn't been as nasty as the portrayal in this book, but this book certainly captured the culture of amateur sleuths while showing how painful/traumatizing this can be for families that live through these tragedies. People often forget about the victims or try to pooh-pooh their feelings with cases like these.
Narration wise, the narrators for this book did such a wonderful job with the story, and I liked that there were three different narrators (with one additional narrator for a single chapter told from a completely different character's POV, which I felt could've been skipped or written into either Libby's or Ben's parts) for each of the characters. However, I can't rate this higher than a 3.5 because some parts of this plot was just too unbelievable for me to let go. A perfect storm led up to the murders with one terrible thing piling up one after another, which I largely accepted, but then the big reveal at the end had me shaking my head like: "This book is doing way too much right now with this."...more
This was a fun book. There were so many experiences and thoughts that she had that I could totally relate to. It always feel great when you can empathThis was a fun book. There were so many experiences and thoughts that she had that I could totally relate to. It always feel great when you can empathize with the narrator and wish you could say to them, "Me too, girl!" I'm glad I decided to listen to this rather than read it. I find I always appreciate comedic memoirs such as this one much better when narrated by the author....more
Rob Quillen is a musician known for being one of the final contestants on a reality show called So You Think You Can SMore reviews @ The BiblioSanctum
Rob Quillen is a musician known for being one of the final contestants on a reality show called So You Think You Can Sing? Despite that, Rob really isn’t one of those fifteen minute famer types and really loves music. After the tragic death of his girlfriend in a plane crash, he’s directed by a mysterious stranger to go to Cloud County, Tennessee where he’ll learn a song that will mend broken hearts. Rob is not a Tufa, but is often mistaken as one because of his looks, which he attributes to being part Filipino. As strange as the stranger’s words are to him, Rob travels to Needsville in search of this musical balm for his soul. He’s not sure if he believes he’ll find it, but he needs something to take his mind off his tragedy and get him away from people who know his face. What he finds in Needsville is mystery, an ages old power struggle, and secrets that could change the Tufa forever. Caught in the middle of this all is the sister of one the First Daughters, a feral Tufa woman who roams the woods.
This second book proved to be much more political in terms of how the Tufa live and what their future holds. As I mentioned in the last book, despite most people thinking the Tufa are all one people, they are actually two factions who are vying for power. The true villain of these books–who is actually both father and villain, in a sense–has his plots revealed more. Unlike the two villains of the last book, there’s more depth to this character and his villainy. His presence means more to the Tufa people, and his possible demise also leaves all the Tufa in a state of flux, wondering what will happen to them if he ceases to exist. This book explores the depths of cruelty and how deep hatred can run, even for those people should protect and love. Bledsoe plays around with some interesting lore and ideas where the Tufa are concerned, and I’ve enjoyed seeing where he takes their story.
I can’t stress enough that these are not pretty, flowery books. There’s plenty of violence and language. Life in the mountains is hard, even for the Tufas. Because there’s more focus on finding out who and what the Tufa are, you don’t get as many snatches of random songs as in the last book instead you get more portents and history, especially the history of where this bad blood comes from. However, the songs you do get in this book tell stories just as powerful as the last, and you get longer, fleshed out musical tales, which makes up for it because it probably all evens out in the end. Beauty is expressed in their music, but still there’s so much tragedy in it, as well, expressing the ordeals and hardships of the Tufa life.
I did listen to this one nearly the whole way through this time, but I was able to better pay attention this time even with Rudnicki’s deep, lulling voice. I think it helped tremendously that there was only one narrator for this book instead of having various breaks in the story as the narrator changes. That works for some stories, but this definitely benefited from only having one narrator. Still no singing, though, so if you’re interested in these books because you expect to get some off-key narrator singing, don’t bother. The verses are chanted, which is probably the best deal for the narrator and readers alike.
These books do an amazing job of being very accessible to new readers and acting as standalones. Sure, the same characters show up, but Bledsoe provides an amazing amount of context to what they mean to the story, even down to having some passages read almost exactly the same from the previous books. You won’t get lost regardless of which book you start with it seems, but for even more context about the Tufa, I’m sure you should get around to reading the first book at some point as the politics seem to be becoming a larger focal point now than in the first book where it was only beginning to burgeon, even though you know something’s simmering underneath the surface.
I wasn’t supremely happy with the wording of the very last line of the ending or the “epilogue” type thing that follows, especially depending on how the next story goes as far as that “epilogue” goes. Rob could sometimes come off as a “special snowflake” since he is definitely not Tufa. I liked that he didn’t learn that somewhere on his great-great-great grandmother’s side he had a Tufa relative, but there were times when things were just a little too convenient for Rob. Also, it would’ve been nice to learn more about Rob and his anger issues. I did like that, even though Rob wasn’t Tufa, he had the music in his soul and didn’t need that qualifier to make him a musician who had music in his bones. I found this story just as engaging as the first as more of the Tufa’s true nature comes to light. This also means that the story becomes more whimsical as readers learn more truths about the Tufa people. Whether you prefer the more grounded magical realism of the first book or the magical realism blended with magical fantasy of this one will totally be up to you as the reader. I enjoyed both. Side note: A painting mentioned in both this book and the prior book is a real painting. I had to go stare at it a while on Wikipedia....more
I may be in the very small majority when I say this, but... while I certainly thought this was an interesting read, I guess I'm just not as taken as yI may be in the very small majority when I say this, but... while I certainly thought this was an interesting read, I guess I'm just not as taken as your normal nostalgia nerd (or as a nerd in general). Parts of this plot drove me absolutely fucking crazy, to be honest. I'm not even going to touch on the part that really annoyed me about this whole thing because I could be here all day. If you're looking for a fun, light read, this is it. ...more
Surprisingly, I have been enjoying The Raven Cycle. I wasn’t really drawn to this series or anything. I had it on my TBR pile, but I had other books
Surprisingly, I have been enjoying The Raven Cycle. I wasn’t really drawn to this series or anything. I had it on my TBR pile, but I had other books by Maggie Stiefvater on my pile as well. I just knew that I wanted to try something by Stiefvater, and after some deliberation, this seemed like the best place for me to start. I jumped into this book a few days after reading the first book. I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the second book as much as the first, but my fears were unfounded.
The Raven Boys ended on a huge note with a confession from the group’s bad boy, Ronan Lynch, that he can pull objects from his dream, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I read the next book. I’m a sucker for dramatic cliffhangers. The Dream Thieves explores Ronan’s abilities and gives readers a taste of the darker workings of Ronan’s mind, which is understandable given he was the one who found his murdered father, a father who passed on this dream ability. Ronan isn’t completely incapable of showing other emotions even if they are lined with barbed wire. While Ronan is a large focus of this novel, it doesn’t forget to explore its other characters such as Adam Parrish who is trying to understand what his sacrifice to Cabeswater means while continuing to deal with what he feels is his own inadequacy, Blue Sargent who comes to terms with her feelings for Adam, and Gansey who isn’t sure how to deal with Adam after the events in Cabeswater. This novel also brought Blue’s psychic family to the forefront more, which was a welcomed treat.
Stiefvater’s characters continue to be the high point of the book. Many books work hard to make you love their protagonists, but Stiefvater has created a cast of characters that feel “real.” She certainly wants you to sympathize with her characters, but presenting characters with real flaws and strengths, characters that you may like one moment and loathe the next, trumps making her protagonists adored by the readers. However, I can’t really say the same about the antagonists of her story. Once again, I’m only lukewarm toward her antagonists at best. They’re one-dimensional, but this could just because of how the story is told. I think, for that reason, that her denouements where they’re concerned often feel a bit fragile as if they’re hanging on very tenuous threads. I don’t much care for villainy for the sake of villainy if it doesn’t feel like it connects to the overall story.
The search for Glendower feels secondary to the characters and their struggles. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since I enjoy characters, but I am interested in seeing where this search leads the character and how it will continue to influence their friendship and decisions. Part of the reason I enjoyed the first book is because I enjoyed how the plot worked with the characters. In this book, that part of the story felt very stagnant and didn’t make much forward progression. It’s easy to overlook that the search didn’t move very much because it’s easy to be swept up in the various personal things that the characters are involved in and forget that they have this quest for something that’s bigger than themselves. This still manages to be a very engaging story that will keep readers invested in these characters and their story.
Will Patton continues to be something of an anomaly for me as far as the narration goes for this story. I don’t hate his narration, but I still teeter between thinking he’s the best voice and thinking maybe he’s not the best voice depending on the section he’s reading. However, I can’t dispute the emotion that he brings to the story with his reading, and for me, sometimes the passion a narrator uses for a story is more important than any other feeling I may have about the narration.
The Dream Thieves ends much like The Raven Boys with a cliffhanger that begs the reader to continue the story as soon as possible, and since it involves a character that this book made me love more than I thought possible, I’m already gearing up to read the next book....more
This is a retelling of Peter Pan, called The Boy in this story. Actually, this is the story of Paul Dear, a young boy who desperately wants to go to AThis is a retelling of Peter Pan, called The Boy in this story. Actually, this is the story of Paul Dear, a young boy who desperately wants to go to Anyplace (Neverland) to find something to help his mother who is miserable after the death of his one week old sister. However, his story is strongly tied to The Boy and Anyplace since he needs both to achieve his goals, and in some part of himself, Paul believes that he may actually be The Boy or some manifestation of him.
This was an audiobook listen narrated by Simon Vance. Yeah, you know I love the guy. Even though I’d listened to one book he narrated before this. This book made me realize how consistent and talented he was with his reading, and it helps that he was reading an imaginative retelling, which I love. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I was a little apprehensive at first that I might find it too juvenile for my tastes, but that wasn’t the case at all. Peter David managed to make this book feel like a child who is on the cusp of adulthood. It was both naïve and worldy, innocent and experienced. It was truly an amazing, whimsical story with tones of darkness.
Mom Note: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for younger children even if the tone, wording, and pacing “feels right” for younger children. This book is about children and told in that genial tone reserved for children’s books. It’s not necessarily a story that’s “bad” for younger audiences, but they wouldn’t understand the nuances in the story that require some level of maturity to already have been achieved. Examples of this include when the narrator mentions that Paul, being a child, would not understand a woman’s figure or why they might not have wanted to be as “round in the hips” as Fiddlefix (Tinkerbell) or when the narrator notes that The Boy shares with grown men the inability to decide if he wants the significant non-mother female figure in his life, Gwennie (Wendy), to be his mother or his lifemate or when the narrator refers to maturity as “the destruction.” So, for any parent/guardian/adult figure thinking this might be great for a younger audience, it’s not. It’s a book about children, but it’s not necessarily a book for children. I’d say early teens, maybe even kids as young as 11-12, would better handle a book like this one....more
My grandfather, whom I lived with along with my grandmother, fell ill when I was around 10-years-old and remained in a wheelchair until he p3.5 stars.
My grandfather, whom I lived with along with my grandmother, fell ill when I was around 10-years-old and remained in a wheelchair until he passed away when I was 19-years-old. My grandfather was a quadriplegic.
I can remember days missed from school helping my grandmother take him to doctor's appointments, helping to feed him, reading to him, emptying catheter bags, etc. These things never seemed out of the ordinary for me to do, but there were always those moments of self-consciousness. Not because I was embarrassed of my grandfather. Never! It came from the fact that there was always that sorrow or pity in the eyes of others. That is absolutely something that my grandfather did not want. It was such a relief to bring home my husband to meet my grandfather (while he was still my boyfriend) and have him look my grandfather in the eye, man-to-man, and to shake the hand my grandfather offered where most people were unsure or felt awkward with the gesture.
As someone who has perspective, this book was quite the emotional journey for me. Readers meet Louisa "Lou" Clark, a 26-year-old cafe worker living at home with her parents, her disabled grandfather, her younger sister, and her younger sister's son. Her life takes a sudden change when the cafe closes, and after a series of odd jobs, she becomes the companion to Will Traynor. Will is a former business executive and adrenaline junkie who becomes a quadriplegic after a tragic accident. He's hard to get along with and has allowed his bitterness toward his situation to fester over a course of years. They're an unlikely duo who goes from tolerating one another to forming a solid bond.
If Will is a quadriplegic, what about the romance? I see you asking it. I've seen some people say this book is misleading because it is not what they'd consider a romance. On one hand, I say, that is an unfair and limited view of what a romance can be. Romance is not limited to people able to express physical desire toward one another and that thinking precludes that romance can include romantic partners who may not have sex because one, or both partners, may not be interested in sex for whatever reason and romantic/passionate friendships, which are (usually) non-sexual, and includes friendships of all gender makeups.
On the other hand, I concede that romance is largely defined by an individual's feelings and intentions toward another person. Where one person may see it as romantic, the other personal may not feel the same. It doesn't necessarily mean that one person may be more invested in the relationship just that their ideas of romance differ from the other person's. With this book, I think both the romantic and aromantic POVs regarding this book are valid, but I feel like some dismiss the romantic possibility in this story because their ideas of romance are bound tightly to a "sexual" aspect, that there can be no intimacy outside of what many consider the "typical" romance. I even feel like the book challenges this idea by having a character say that Lou and Will's relationship is false intimacy, that it's "not real." It denies intimacy to people because they don't fit society's standards of who should receive it. Personally, I do see a romantic aspect to Lou and Will's friendship, and there is even some attraction there between both of them. I wouldn't say this is a romance book as the romance genre would typically define it, but there is a romantic aspect to this, in my humblest of opinions.
The story is largely told from Lou's view, but there were singular chapters told from the POV of Will and other people in his life, which are voice by different narrators. This is an instance where these outside POVs were not needed outside of Will's. I really didn't need a justification from people like Will's parents and felt the book performed fine without that filler. My biggest peeve with this book is I didn't like the minimizing of Lou's feelings. Lou doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, so characters spend a great deal of time trying to decide for her, telling her that interests aren't good enough. She's often ridiculed by those who love her most in a way that can feel emotionally abusive. I think, much of it was supposed to be funny, but there's little funny about Lou having to endure name-calling and negativity that can hurt the most coming from the people you love. I hated that Lou never really did stand up for herself. She was usually cowed into agreeing with whatever was being thrown at her. She had her moments, but she was mostly resigned to take the ridicule in relative silence and acceptance.
This book is heartwarming, funny, and touching. It also poses ethical questions in regards to the disabled and their wishes concerning their own life. Many things Louisa experienced as a caregiver, I could picture a corresponding moment in my own life. I could nod knowingly at many of the triumphs and frustrations that this book presented. Even to this day, it's hard not to get choked up about all the good and bad times. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to seeing how this one is presented on the big screen. ...more
Originally published in 1988, Alien Child is a young adult book that follows a human girl named Nita who is being raiMore reviews @ The BiblioSanctum.
Originally published in 1988, Alien Child is a young adult book that follows a human girl named Nita who is being raised by a catlike creature, Llipel, in the remains of a medical institute. Llipel’s companion, Llare, stays holed away from them in another part of the institute that she’s not allowed to access. Nita begins to believe that she’s the last surviving human on Earth as she learns more about what happened to the rest of humanity and how she, a human girl, came to exist in a world where humans no longer roam. Then, she discovers that Llare is actually raising a human boy of the same age named Sven.
This book seems typical fare for young adult books published during the 80s and 90s. I think if I’d read this as a kid, I probably would’ve liked it more. Reading it as an adult, it was a conceptually interesting read, but not the most compelling read. It felt a bit too juvenile, even for my tastes. This skews toward the younger side of young adult. We meet Nita when she’s young and follow her to her fifteenth year, and this book focuses on the issues that she goes through as she ages from precocious child to puberty. These issues are handled in ways that a child would relate to them and not in a way that could be seen as gross or inappropriate, except for maybe one scene between Nita and Sven.
The science fiction aspect of the story is where things get a little atypical. This book explores themes such as “nature vs. nuture.” It questions how would a human child behave if raised by a being that didn’t have an innate curiosity about things, who believed that all answers come in due time. As a mom of two, I could definitely see a human child being overly curious as Nita was, despite having a guardian who was cautious and patient. Honestly, I didn’t think Sargent addressed this as well as she could have. Nita didn’t really seem that much different from a child who hasn’t been raised in isolation, and she took to many things much better than you’d expect.
Sargent did a better job trying to explain the horrors of humanity to the children and what led to their destruction, questioning whether humans were even a race worth saving once the children had full knowledge of their heritage. It might not explore this as deeply as my adult mind would like, but keeping the age group this is aimed toward in mind, this is a great way to start challenging their ideas, especially what they feel the fate of humanity should be after learning something pivotal later in the story.
Twelve-year-old me probably would’ve lapped this story up, and I think it probably would be great for kids as an introduction to science fiction and perhaps as a starting point for some of those uncomfortable conversations parents eventually have to have with their kids but are not quite sure how to get there. Adult me thought this was an okay story, but can still see why this is considered a classic and brings out nostalgia among old science fiction fans....more
2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to rereadMore reviews @ The Bibliosanctum
2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to reread Anna Dressed in Blood to make myself feel better about this
This book calls itself Dexter meets The Grudge. I’m starting to really hate when books try to say that it’s similar to other books. I don’t know whose job it is to come up with these blurbs, but they need to get their priorities straight. First, this is nothing, and I mean nothing at all, like Dexter. Did they even read/watch Dexter? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? This isn’t even in the same universe as Dexter. Second, while I’ll concede this shares some general traits with The Grudge, this is nowhere near as atmospheric and creepy as that. Okiku, the ghost of a murdered girl, stalks the streets, looking for child murderers. Killing them, she frees the children still tethered to their attackers, but she can’t find such relief. You’d think that would mean that you’d see many people get their comeuppance because there are many sickos in the world. You don’t. You spend more time reading about how Okiku just watches people like Netflix and chills in people’s attic. I didn’t need a gorefest, but I needed something to at least make me believe this was creepy. And it was creepy for the first few pages and then… *sigh* Anyway, a tattooed boy named Tark moves into the town Okiku’s currently haunting, and something about him reminds her of home and happiness and warmth. However, there is also something dark imprisoned deep inside him.
Okay, this wasn’t a bad book. This book was more lyrical than scary. In fact, I enjoyed the experimental style that Chupeco used writing this. Okiku has an obsession with numbers and counting that pops up frequently. Paragraph structure is purposely inconsistent when we’re seeing things from her POV. This would be all fine and good if this was an experimental novel, but this novel wants to be Dexter meets The Grudge. I may be jaded because I’ve been reading/watching horror for a very long time, but I can still appreciate the elements that actually make a story scary even if I’m not scared myself. This book tried to be scary, but this book also tried to be poignant, different, and moving. It can be hard to mix all those things together and get a story that’s both scary and emotional. It’s been done many times for sure, but it’s easy to focus on one aspect more than others. She obviously gets what makes J-Horror work, but she’s not as adept as putting it all together. Add to the fact that it was hard for me to care about the characters. They all felt so generic, even Tark with the strange tattoos put on him by his Japanese mother. I couldn’t say I found anything riveting about them–save for one character. Typically in a horror novel, it’s okay to have some generic characters because the horror is supposed to be front and center. Because this book tried so hard to be deep, it was too easy for me to realize how shallow the characters were because I didn’t have any actual horror to hide that fact. Not a bad book, but it feels as if it tried too hard. For me, the horror is lacking. For someone else, this might be perfectly scary.
Yays! – A YA book that doesn’t find a way for the boy and girl to be together (no romance, not even a friendship really; just a state of existing together for a common purpose) – Interesting experimental writing style
Nays! – Not Dexter meets The Grudge, I don’t care how hard you squint – Cardboard characters that I didn’t actually care about – Squandered potential, especially with Okiku who was a badass for three seconds ...more
You tell a man he's a god enough times, and he'll start to be believe it. You strip away his humanity by worshipping him, and eventually he'll think iYou tell a man he's a god enough times, and he'll start to be believe it. You strip away his humanity by worshipping him, and eventually he'll think it's his right to lord over you. Continuously mention that his powers are the only reason the planet still turns, and one day that virtue that compels him to save you will turn into the vice that causes him to decimate whole cities without remorse.
However, despite that recipe for disaster, there's still one more key ingredient. The inner struggle that a person like this would face. Someone who struggles with difficult decisions everyday in regard to the safety of others. Out of millions of people, who do you save and who do you let die? How do you deal with humanity's capacity for ingratitude when you don't save them in the manner they wish to be saved? How do you deal with people who try to marginalize your feats by calling you a "pervert in underwear?"
The answer is simple in the case of Plutonian. You've ignored that he is human (or humanoid) and has human weaknesses and emotions. You've rejected his attempts to be normal, to give him something that anchors him to his human side. There's no longer any need for him to act like a mere human. You've made him a god, and now, he becomes a god. He has every right to judge anyone--hero, villain, and civilian--because he's your god, a monster of human creation.
I know I'm still in the early stages of this series, but the above is what I gathered from the first volume. These opinions may change as I continue to read this series, and I'll acknowledge that when the time comes. Once Plutonian turns, he doesn't discern between friend and foe--taking some lives, leaving others alive to suffer his carnage. Making a hero, a hero who questioned Plutonian before his heel turn about how it felt to be responsible for so many lives, choose ten people out of millions to save and then killing the rest before that same hero's eyes while telling him: "This is what it felt like."
While Plutonian is inarguably the greatest super-powered being on earth (I know Max Damage from Incorruptible is pretty strong himself and can, at the very least, withstand Plutonian's abuse, but I'm not sure yet if he could actually beat Plutonian at this point), this story for me isn't just about the greatest superhero on earth becoming the greatest supervillain. It's a story about a man who wasn't allowed to be human, so he became a god instead.
Waid has also taken some traditional superhero tropes and turned them on their ear such as what if a hero did confess his identity to someone one close to him, expecting their inexplicable acceptance of who he is and forgiveness for hiding his identity all this time to protect them. Yeah, this ain't Superman, honey. What if a hero didn't get all the acceptance and support he needed from the people around him? What does he do then? Waid is addressing things that I've questioned in comic stories.
And I really love this about the story.
However (you knew a HOWEVER was coming), I'm not as drawn into the story as I'd like to be even though I do like the foundation of it. And maybe this partly by my own design because instead of focusing on this series first I read the first volume of The Boys which I really, really enjoyed. When I love something and I start moving on to other similar media/genres, I expect them to keep my enjoyment buzz going. That isn't this comics fault, and as I said, it's not a bad comic. I probably should've waited a few more days when I wasn't thinking about The Boys anymore. I have a tendency to ponder things long after I've read them.
Another problem I'm having is with Volt who is an African-American superhero with electricity powers. Most of his panels include switching into AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) to prove how racist the white people are and how little they expect of him, which was true in a couple of panels. Other times, it just seems kind of random and unnecessary. He also enjoyed pointing out a black superhero with electricity powers is a cliche when nobody said anything about it, but what can he do about it? The only thing he really said that spoke to me, something that I’ve spoken about with other comic book fans of color, is the need to add BLACK to the beginning of some black or ambiguously brown heroes’ names. He’s Volt, guys. Just Volt. PREACH, Volt!
I’m hoping Waid does better than this with Volt because as it stands he feels silly, forced, and unnatural at times as if Volt is incapable of being a normal person while facing issues that concern his race. It seems he can only be one or the other, but not both at the same time. So far, instead of pointing out why such behavior is problematic, Volt would rather sarcastically respond to their micro-aggression by slipping into jive talk and leave them to their “accidental” racist tendencies. And while I think Waid is an exceptional writer when it comes to showing the moral standings of heroes, I’m not sure if I think he is capable of providing an adequate portrayal of how an African-American superhero deals with racism as a person and as a hero because this can be a tough issue for anyone to grasp.
This was an interesting beginning, though, and I'll move on to the next volume, but only time will tell whether Waid handles the complex issues he's setting up expertly or not....more