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
A fantasy western that explores gender fluidity, sexuality, and race. I didn't know this was the book I needed until I read it. Also, that ending... IA fantasy western that explores gender fluidity, sexuality, and race. I didn't know this was the book I needed until I read it. Also, that ending... I need the next book ASAP....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
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
Coming on the heels of my first foray into the Malazan empire (Gardens of the Moon) is Blood Follows, a short novellaMore Reviews @ The BiblioSanctum
Coming on the heels of my first foray into the Malazan empire (Gardens of the Moon) is Blood Follows, a short novella revolving around events outside the main story. Blood Follows takes place in the town of Lamentable Moll in a region called Theft. Emancipor Reese has lost yet another job as yet another of his employers dies an ill-fated death. Mancy’s, as he’s called by his friends and wife, latest employer becomes the 11th victim to a serial killer stalking the streets of Moll. Having no recourse but to find another job as quickly as possibly–lest he face the wrath of his wife–Mancy answers a warded notice for a manservant to two eccentric necromancers, the scholarly Bauchelain and the large, quiet eunuch Korbal Broach.
I read this as a gateway story while I gear up to read Deadhouse Gates, which is the second book in this Malazan series. Bauchelain, Korbal Broach, and Mancy are only background characters in the main novels, as I understand, so reading about their misadventures before the rest of the novels doesn’t really break anything in the story. This novella proves to be much like Erikson’s main offering, but on a smaller scale. Despite the short length, the book introduces quite a few cast of characters. However, given the short nature of this story, they’re not explored with the same depth. In fact, you pretty much have to make up your own mental image of most of the characters in this novel aside from the three men mentioned. There are some characters who beg for a deeper exploration while some just fall totally flat. That may or may not be a problem depending on your approach to short stories.
The plot, while basic, is entertaining enough. The description for this book makes it sound much more dramatic than it actually is, such as saying there was chaos among the people when that’s hardly noted at all in the story. There were ghastly things going on in the story, but nothing ever really felt urgent. I didn’t feel the sense of tension in this story that it was trying to convey. In fact, the murders almost feel secondary to what’s going with the characters in the story, and one of the big reveals in this story just seemed pushed out there without even a real hint that this is what was going on. Mainly, the interest in the story comes from readers meeting the necromancers and their new manservant, and the witticism found throughout this story. The joking nature gives this a sort of dark humor feel which is wildly different from the mostly serious endeavor that is Gardens of the Moon, and for that, I found this story enjoyable....more
Last year, the first book in this series, The Cloud Roads, was easily one of my top reads for 2015. Wells presenRead more reviews @ The Bibliosanctum.
Last year, the first book in this series, The Cloud Roads, was easily one of my top reads for 2015. Wells presented a wonderfully creative world with races who fall outside of human norms. This year, I said that I was going to continue this series. I want to finish up the main trilogy as well as the short stories in preparation for the upcoming fourth book in the series, The Edge of Worlds.
Readers are introduced to the Raksura in The Cloud Roads, a shapeshifting race that possess both a draconic form and a groundling form. They are a matriarchal race of people with complex court laws. In this story, we meet Moon, a Raksura who’s spent most of his years living among groundlings after the destruction of his court when he was a young child. Because of Moon’s ignorance of much of the Raksuran mores, following him through this book is perfect. The readers experience the world as Moon experiences it, learning as he learns, which means that nothing feels like filler.
Book 2 picks up almost immediately after The Cloud Roads. After an attack on the colony, the Cloud Indigo court moves back to the place where their lineage started, a mountain-tree nestled in the forest. Upon arriving there, they soon find out that the tree is dying because its heartseed has been stolen. This leads them to seek out the assistance of another Raksuran court. The neighboring court is unable to provide them with another seed. However, they are able to help the colony scry for their missing seed which leads Moon on a dash to retrieve it.
I am still charmed by this story of the Raksura and the world they live in. Wells introduces new and fascinating races such as the waterlings in this installment, continuing this flair that feels fresh and original. Raksuran politics continue to be a complex weave of laws. While in-fighting was common in the last book, in this book, they have to contend with another court, which sheds even more light on how Raksura are expected to behave with one another. Readers learn how tenuous the ties between various courts can be and how the smallest things can be perceived as insults and power plays to force a rival’s hand.
I appreciate that Moon is still learning and still wary, even though he is now the consort to the sister-queen of Cloud Indigo. Readers are allowed to continue this journey with Moon as he shares his uncertainties, triumphs, and losses. There are always new things for him to learn. He doesn’t automatically want to know everything about Raksuran politics. In fact, much of the culture makes him uncomfortable. He concedes that he should be learning things about the court, but he continues to live outside their societal norms for a consort. It doesn’t help that the mentor-like person who brought him to the court is allowed the freedom to do as he pleases due to his age, which Moon is emulating in his own way. Moon becomes very aware of how he differs from other consorts when visiting the neighboring court. Where Moon is quick to protect what is his, he finds that other consorts are little more than arm decoration. Moon has never lived a pampered, spoiled life, and he doesn’t intend to start living one (but he does give a little when it really counts).
Wells also introduced more magic into this world. There are tastes of it in the first book via the mentor-caste in the Raksuran court who can heal, have visions, and perform augury (more like divination/scrying than reading omens due to birds’ flight patterns). In this book, groundling magic is introduced, especially as one character struggles with the fact that he’s no longer a mentor but is starting to exhibit strange powers more like groundling magic. However, the magic in this world is subtle and downplayed, and it never detracts from the Raksura who are the heart of this story.
Chris Kipiniak continues to narrate this series, and I don’t think there’s anything that I can say about his narration that I haven’t said in my review of The Cloud Roads. His characterization of Stone and Moon continues to be two of my favorite voices in the series. I may not be overly impressed with his female voices, but I’ve gotten used to how he voices women.
I enjoyed this book maybe only slightly less than the first. There’s a bigger spot in my heart for the first one. Maybe because of the way it completely enthralled me with this new setting and characters, but this book is a fitting continuation of the story that balances politics, action, and story in the world the Raksura inhabit. A part of me wishes I’d read these books sooner, but another part of me is glad that I started later, as there is plenty more for me to read and I don’t have to anxiously await a next book....more
MacDonald has been credited with being the inspiration for other “Christian Mythmakers” such as Tolkien and L’EngRead more reviews @ The Bibliosanctum
MacDonald has been credited with being the inspiration for other “Christian Mythmakers” such as Tolkien and L’Engle. Thid story in particular is seen as some of his best work. Despite the publisher, this is not a book that is about religion (but you can catch some religious themes as with the works with all the authors mentioned). The Day Boy and the Night Girl is a fairy tale of sorts, and I’ve heard that this is quoted in Ann Aguirre’s Enclave. Two women, a beautiful noblewoman named Aurora from the king’s court, and a blind, widowed woman named Vesper, are the unwitting guests of Watho, a witch, who aspires to know everything. She allows Aurora to live in the sunlight and have free range of the castle while she hides away the blind woman in the tombs, believing her to know no difference given her condition. Watho finds both women beautiful. Aurora in her vibrance and Vesper in her tragedy. Aurora soon births a son, Photogen. Immediatey upon his birth, he is spirited away from his mother. She’s told he is dead, and she leaves the mansion in despair. Not too long after, Vesper births a daughter named Nycteris and presumably Vesper died after her birth. Watho begins an experiment with the children. She only allows Photogen to see the sunlight, living as his mother had, and she allows Nycteris to see only the dark, living in the tombs as her mother had. Photogen is schooled in many arts while Nycteris is largely kept ignorant save for learning music. Photogen knows nothing of the night while Nycteris knows nothing of the day.
When Photogen decides that he has the courage to face the night after learning about it, he’s seized with a fear he’s never known, only helped through his fear by Nycteris who is ignorant of the sunlight and finds no fear in the dark. In fact, Nycteris is very much in tune with her surroundings. When Nycteris discovers the sun, she believes she is burning. However, unlike Photogen, she is more open to experience despite her naivety, and quickly comes to realize that, despite her fear of the sun, both the light and the dark live together to form a harmony. This harmony is something that both the boy and the girl find in each other, as they learn to balance this realization that there is more to their lives than the small world Watho has condemned to them for her personal knowledge. This is a beautifully crafted tale that’s aged well. There’s a simplicity to the story that kids can appreciate, but at the same time, there’s a depth that adults can admire. Photogen’s resolve to be brave in the face of the unknown and Nycteris’ quiet wisdom are shown beautifully, simply. They complement each other and navigate a world together that they’d been hidden from. Because this is a children’s story, things do wrap up very neatly for the characters, but there is still something affecting about it. Eggington’s narration was great. It wasn’t too over the top, and it wasn’t too boring. He read it just as you’d expect a fairy tale to be narrated. I will admit the story seems to give more weight to the boy’s story, but this could be to show how naive he truly is and how Nycteris offsets that by being compassionate. It made me think of Digory and Polly from C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew, but Nycteris is much milder than Polly....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
In a war torn United States, people have regressed to a bartering system in order to trade goods such as jewelry, dye, and clothing. Grace Kriske is the crippled daughter of traders who has a fierce sense of independence and tries to help her family by making trinket and sewing/knitting other items to trade for good. Grace is an anomaly in her community, an outspoken woman who has no interest in kowtowing to the local religious leaders. Every year, though, a young man, sometimes a woman, is sent to the loons in the lake, chosen by a lottery. Every year, the last remaining loons hope to receive the one who will rebuild the world, the one who will bring their children back, and with it the world before it was war ravished. Being a sacrifice to the loons comes with grave consequences. Despite Grace’s disability, the loons call to her as they have for the past seven years of her life. While Grace is independent, she understands duty, and in her own selfish way she hopes the loons can fix not only her broken body but her broken soul.
I really enjoyed this story. There was so much going on despite the short length. It was nice to see a disabled protagonist whose disability is acknowledge, but she’s not made less for it (at least by the author). She has a lover who wants to give her so much more, but she sees herself only as a broken thing that couldn’t be the wife he needed. Her inability to walk has no bearing on his feelings for her, which was refreshing. She does the best she can and refuses help. While her family life isn’t fleshed out, you still catch glimpses of the family they are. They have their troubles, but they love one another. Life is just hard in their post-war era. This story in a way is a myth, combining many ideas and thoughts about swan, other water myths, women being the center of creation, and what they mean. Due to the war that isn’t fully explain (and that’s not an issue), readers learn how the religious orders have changed and desperation for the world to be fixed have made them more accepting of what they once might’ve called heretical. Cris Dukeheart did an excellent job giving this story a dreamy, mythical tone, a very beautiful narration with a twist of dark. This was a beautifully weaved story whose brevity doesn’t hurt it, but I wished it’d been longer....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.
Touch of Power follows Avry, a healer on the run. After a large portion of the population is decimated by a plague, healers are blamed for the outbreak mainly due to a poorly worded missive released during the early stages of the outbreak that directed healers not to heal anyone with the plague because it was fatal to healers. Healers draw pain, wounds, and sickness from the bodies of others onto themselves, allowing their natural healing abilities to help them recover quicker than the normal person. Despite the fact that no one is no longer being infected by the plague years after the outbreak, healers are still hunted by impoverished communities for gold offered by the rulers. Avry finds herself in the middle of a political struggle after a group of men rescue her from certain death to help an ailing prince that she blames for many things that happened to her people but who may be the realm's only hope of salvation in this new ravished world.
The people who recommended this book to me weren't kidding when they said that the "zombies" in this story were very background. (Refer to this post.) In fact, I almost forgot there were supposed to be zombies in this book until the end when they were a peripheral threat. Overall, the story was a bit shallow, which means I found that I didn't invest much emotion into the characters or their world. I was disappointed that there was not much more to Avry other than to be the long-suffering healer who takes everything in stride without complaint. You'd think someone who took people's pain, illnesses, and injuries would express some discontent from time to time, especially when you consider she's the one who ends up bearing their scars. I did enjoy learning more about the healers and their powers, though, and the connection it forged between a healer and those she helped.
The other characters were essentially basic molds and forgettable, but you still kind of develop a soft spot for them. The love interest is one that's typical of the genre. You know, the asshole that the girl just can't help liking who turns into total mush near the end. The one, though, takes the cake. It's one thing to be an asshole. It's another to initially be an abusive asshole, and I refuse to try to explain away his actions earlier in the story. His logic is, "Yeah, I might've shackled you to a tree, starved you, and attempted to coerce you to do what I wanted by walking you to exhaustion while you're half-starved and freezing, but I saved you from jail and mercenaries. So, there's that. I'm not a bad guy, really. I love you. Love me." With that being said, the romance part of this book didn't overwhelm the story that Snyder was trying to tell. And I could've liked Kerrick in the end if he hadn't pulled that dick move in the beginning. Honestly, most of the men in this book seemed to have a "I do what I want, Thor!" mentality. And that's pretty meant you're going to do what they want whether through charm, force, or magic. Sometimes, this book was like reading about a bunch of 10-year-old boys.
The writing had a tendency to feel like it was skewed for a much younger audience despite Avry being on the older side of the young adult spectrum. At the same time, the story was allowed more adult moments since the characters are all in their twenties, which did lead for some non-graphic, sensual moments. Gabra Zackman was a solid narrator. The only thing that really irked me about it was the voices she used for the male characters. She sounded a bit stilted and awkward while trying to voice them. However, this was an okay story. I dare say it's good even if it sounds like I hated. The writing is tight, and I thought the last half of the book was much more engaging than the beginning which is largely why this got at least three stars. If I'd just based my rating on the last half of the book, I could've given it 4 stars. I did actually start to care more toward the end and was sad that the feeling I had during the last half of the book hadn't translated to the whole book and then, it was over. I tend to be overly critical of anything that categorizes itself as speculative YA, so my opinion is to be taken with a grain of salt. I think that most people who typically enjoy YA of this variety will be mostly pleased with this because there's much here to enjoy especially during the second half. Despite being underwhelmed, I do still want to try Snyder's Poison Study. I'm still trying to decide if I want to continue with this series or not....more
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this comic was provided to me by Tachyon Publications via Netgalley. I would liRead more reviews @ The BiblioSanctum
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this comic was provided to me by Tachyon Publications via Netgalley. I would like to thank the publisher for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed from here forward are my own.
This is my second trip with Nalo Hopkinson. Last year, I read her novel Brown Girl in the Ring. I thought it was a magical book, but it took me a while to warm up to the main character. I enjoyed the book enough to know that I'd eventually get around to reading more of her work. Falling in Love with Hominids seemed to be the perfect book for that since it features short stories written by her, and I knew that meant I'd get a range of what she's capable of as a writer. It houses speculative stories from serious to comedic, featuring such things as dryads and fire-breathing chickens (because they're part dragon, duh!).
This review is going to be short and to the point, which is highly unusual for me, because I don't want to spoil too many of the stories for potential readers.
There were a few stories in this book that left me thinking about them long after I'd read them, such as The Easthound, which reminded me of The Country of Ice Cream Star, but with a more sinister twist on what's happening to the adults. Many of the stories, though, built up an anticipation in me that left me feeling slightly deflated once I got to the end and they didn't deliver the punch I was expecting. With some of these stories, I enjoyed the idea of them more than I did the execution of them. I can really only thing of one story that I disliked out of the whole bunch (Blushing). I think Hopkinson has some great ideas, and I enjoy how she plays around with culture, myths, humor, and legends in her stories. However, I just seem to have a hard time connecting completely to her writing.
Despite that, I would recommend this for someone who wants to get a taste of Hopkinson's work. She has a little bit of everything here for fans of speculative fiction. She's a terrific writer, and my lack of connection to her work doesn't reflect on her as writer. There are some authors who you just can't make yourself love no matter how much you try. I won't let this stop me from reading her other books, though. I like her books. I'm right on the line with her where one book could make all the difference between love and like....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