Although this is the second book in the series, it can stand on its own. I assume that I missed a lot of character development in theActual rating 3.5
Although this is the second book in the series, it can stand on its own. I assume that I missed a lot of character development in the previous book, because there were references to previous events to which I had no knowledge. Often this can make me frustrated, but here it only made me intrigued, and it has me considering reading the first book.
I liked Grace, and found her very sympathetic, if only a little stubborn. I suspect that Bruce and Scott are a treat and a half, but their role in this story seemed minimal (I hope they have a greater role in the first book, because I think they’d be a lot of fun) other than in the introduction of Bootsie, the cat, into the story. Some of Jack’s reactions perplexed me, but, like Grace, I find myself liking him. Normally I like a little more romance in my mystery (I’m a sucker for romance, what can I say?), but I also feel that perhaps their relationship is a little more…realistic, I think is the word, than a lot of romance in other books. And Frances – I hope she will be in more books. There is a great potential for Frances becoming a reliable and humorous sidekick.
The first couple pages were difficult for me to get through. This was the first mystery and the first paperback I have read in a couple weeks, so I think the transition was a little rough. Having read the first book may have also made it easier to jump into the story. That said, once I started reading, the pace really picked up, and it became harder and harder to put the book down – to the point where I was cranky when I had to put it down.
While my guess on one of the murders was a little off, I was still on the right track. There aren’t any serious twists and turns, but there are enough clues to figure it out (looking back, I probably should have, considering the one damning clue is actually given to us) without it being too obvious. I loved that this was set on the grounds of a southern (I assume southern?) mansion, and the setting itself probably contributed to my enjoyment of the book. It made me want to go visit Marshfield Manor.
Minus the excess hair, Rylie reminds me of myself. I read this line and was instantly sold:
"I needed wine. Lots of wine. Then I migh
Actual rating: 3.5
Minus the excess hair, Rylie reminds me of myself. I read this line and was instantly sold:
"I needed wine. Lots of wine. Then I might move on to something stronger. Whiskey might do the trick. Perhaps a little intravenous therapy of hard liquor was needed."
I like wine, I like whiskey, and I understand that sometimes hard liquor can be necessary, but fantastic, therapy. And I like my men with blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, too. Go figure.
In the space of a few days, Rylie’s life goes from routine to spiraling out of her control, beginning with an irate and slightly crazy client of the werewolf persuasion. There’s something about crazy characters in books that provide not just comic relief, but a device to move the plot forward. Lily fits the bill perfectly. When we meet Lily’s failed match, Martin, I have to agree with Rylie that they are a perfect match. Not romantically, maybe, but definitely in the crazy department. When the “gifts” with notes start arriving, and strange men and werewolves start following her around, we realize that someone is working real hard at being crazy and succeeding quite fabulously. I figured out who was behind everything before it was revealed, but I never felt that the identity of the person behind it was a driving force of the story – the characters and their antics are what make this book enjoyable.
Rylie also believes she is cursed to never fall in love. This, of course, complicates matters with the new man in her life, Jack, especially since he doesn’t know about Rylie’s werewolf heritage. The ending of the book, though given somewhat of a happy ending, I think there is enough left up in the air that the second book could prove to be tumultuous on the love life front (that, or I am inherently suspicious, which is also a credible possibility). I am very interested to see what the second book has in store, and I hope we get to see more of Jack, Rylie, and Jennifer, as well as finally meeting Rylie’s parents and the other paranormal creatures she sets up.
This was a surprisingly quick book to read. Despite the heavy — and controversial — issues that The Hairdresser of Harare raises, it won’t be a book where the prose weighs you down; Tendai Huchu’s writing style is approachable and smooth. Vimbai is our straight-forward narrator, and though she takes her own sweet time in setting us up with background knowledge, the story propels itself toward the inevitable ending of which we are warned from the very beginning. Although we are given inklings of what is awaiting us at the end, there is not enough information to guess the exact details, even with our building suspicions.
Being slightly arrogant, Vimbai is not the most sympathetic character ever, and I found myself more drawn to the story and how the situation unraveled than her plight. Dumi is perhaps the character that will most pull on your heart strings — he certainly pulled on mine. Casting Dumi as a hairdresser — unheard of in Zimbabwe, and relatively uncommon in the United States — is probably one of the best professions that puts male sexuality at the forefront, questioning it. My mom does hair for a living, and up until a few months ago, the only male hairdresser in the salon was her boss. Then they hired two young men. One of the first questions that popped up — correctly or not — was, “Are they gay?”
My heart breaks for what Dumi had to endure, and also for the beliefs that make Dumi’s life impossible. Vimbai believes that a rapist ranks above a homosexual. That is, until she is confronted with a homosexual. Even then, her actions lead to dire consequences. This is not a happy story. Like the back cover says, this book is like eating dark chocolate — bittersweet. But in many ways, it is important to read, if only to understand....more
The vast majority of this plot belongs in the mystery or suspense genre. If it had stayed there, I would have been okay with it. But the ring that Lucy finds brings a paranormal element that feels out of place with the rest of the story, and this only served to make me more skeptical about the ring’s powers. This was a mystery set in reality — save for the ring. If there had existed other magical objects capable of power outside the normal human capacity, this aspect would have been easier to swallow.
The romance between Coop and Lucy was weak, fast, and seemed to happen when we were not watching. It was easy to see that it was happening, sure, but we were never able to experience it the way I would have liked in a romantic suspense novel. The character perspective shifts were also a little rough; a few times, the character had switched before I realized, and I was left wondering why that particular character was having those thoughts until I reread the passage. I know that Savich and Sherlock are important figures in this series, but I was not sold on their characters.
On a positive note, the mystery itself was entertaining and left me wondering what would happen next. The question here was less of “Who did it?” and more “When will he be caught?” which had me intrigued, and kept me turning the pages....more
I almost gave up on this book. Those who have read the book before and know of my dislike of love triangles will understand why. There is an appearance of a certain character that throws the balance of this book off about a third of the way through and I wanted to give up in despair. I’m glad I did not. Though I struggled with certain elements of the book, the struggle is necessary, just as Ash’s journey to find his soul was necessary.
I found Ash’s narration to be the perfect reflection of who he is and what he quest was on. Throughout the series, I liked Ash more than Meghan, and I enjoyed delving into Ash’s perspective. At times, however, especially toward the beginning of the book, I almost felt that Ash was too distant and aloof. But then, those feelings are needed to contrast with who Ash must become to possess a soul. We can literally track his change.
The Iron Knight tore me up. I was not even sure how to rate this final installment, but no matter my problems with the book, the ending more than makes up for the frustration and pain. In fact, everything that Ash is dragged through is necessary, as though everything must happen for a reason. It does, but it does not necessarily make sense at the time. That is simply how life works.
Seeing Ash and Puck together was fantastic. We got an inside look into their relationship, and it gave me an appreciation for their history and everything that they went through together. Puck was one of those secondary characters that tended to steal the show at time, not just in this book, but throughout the entire series. The Iron Fey series would not have been the same without Puck. And, of course, we can’t forget the special treat that is Grim, either. The Iron Knight was a necessary part of the Iron Fey journey; not only did it provide closure to Meghan and Ash’s relationship, it also gave us a chance to get inside the mind of Ash and really get to know him in a way that we had not had before....more
It took me a little while to settle into The Edumacation of Jay Baker, but it had nothing to do with the story, and everything to do with the fact I was reading an ARC. I caught a grammar error on the first page, and it took a bit before I got over myself. Once I did get invested in the story, I devoured the book in an evening. There is a valuable story nestled in between the constant barrage of pop-culture references and other snarky banter. In her review, Jess called Jay the male version of Juno. I can definitely see that, though for me the awkwardness shifted a little bit too much between charming awkward and awkward awkward. While it didn’t necessarily work all the time for me, it fits Jay’s character.
If you read the synopsis, you know that it mentioned something that I have professed my profound dislike for: love triangles. But! But but but. You will perhaps be surprised to find that I really had no issues with this love triangle. If anything, it was a realistic love story with some overlapping love interests and confusion. I can deal with that. It wasn’t over dramatized and there was more to the story than the love interests. In fact, a lot of the whole love interest/triangle deal led to the importance of Jay learning to be himself, and that was good.
One of the best aspects of The Edumacation of Jay Baker is the cast of characters. Jay is fun, but his mortal enemy (Mike), his sister (Abby), his love interests (Cameo and Caroline), Ms. Lamert, and his parents make this book what it is. Being a big sister myself, I identified with Abby, and thought she was well-portrayed. Big sisters represent! Jay’s run ins with Mike are hilarious and the resolution to that story arc was both surprising and satisfying. Ms. Lambert also shined through — when you can’t count on your divorcing parents to be there for you, everyone needs a teacher like her — and provided a strong adult figure in the story.
In the end, The Edumacation of Jay Baker is a story about a boy who learns to deal with the craziness that life can bring. It is contemporary, but not realistic in the sense that actual teenagers (and parents, and teachers) would speak and act the way they do in the book. Contemporary comedy is a more accurate term perhaps, and there is also truth in comedy. And I always love a story where the main character learns how to be himself. Or herself. Stories like that are incredibly important. I wished I had had more stories like that when I was a teenager.
The Edumacation of Jay Baker is a quick read that will make you laugh at all of the antics, and feel for Jay through all of his downs....more
I have always — ALWAYS — been a fan of books set in the past. I don’t quite know what it is about historically set books that makes me love them so, but they are intriguing with their society rules and culture and dress. Though Grave Mercy is not true historical fiction in the sense that it follows actual history, it felt as though I was reading about actual people in the past. And, of course, the fact that there are paranormal elements (Ismae is a handmaiden of Death after all, and she has powers that no true human would have) also slot Grave Mercy into the historical fantasy genre rather than straight historical.
We only get a brief glimpse of Ismae’s life before the convent and her training at the convent. I think this may be my one big complaint because I think it would have set up Ismae’s character and her motives a little better. That, and I think learning about the assassin training the girls went through would be pretty darn cool. Ismae becomes a product of the convent, devoted and unquestioning. We believe in the convent, too, even if it is a little odd to be a handmaiden of Death. I do love that throughout the book, the convent slowly comes into question, and we are left wondering where the truth lies.
In some ways, Grave Mercy reminded me of Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder in the sense that this bordered on being an adult book. Even though the characters in Grave Mercy are young (Ismae couldn’t have been any more than 18, and the Duchess herself was in her early teens), historically, these “youngsters” were forced to take on more adult roles. To me, Grave Mercy felt true to the times and actually covered the kinds of situations actual people may have faced at court (well, except the whole handmaidens of Death thing). Grave Mercy was a very politically charged book, as many historical books that revolve around court are. The politically treachery that occurs adds suspense to the story, which left me flying through the pages as fast as I could. Whom do you trust?
While the historical aspects of Grave Mercy are well set, there is still a lot left to learn about the assassins of Death, the convent, and where the truth lies in how Death should be served. There are a lot of levels to this series if you bother to look at it deeper (though it’s enjoyable without looking more in depth, too) — the idea of blind unquestioning faith being one such theme explored. Though the main focus is on Ismae and Duval, the other characters in Grave Mercy are easy to fall in love with and cheer for. Or hate, as the case may be.
Ismae’s story was one that sucked me in almost right away. I was instantly captivated by this world. And I thought it only got better (especially with the introduction of Duval, but then, I do love a good romantic interest in my books, especially since it was slow and sweet yet made my heart race all the same). I am sad that Ismae’s story is basically over with this book (i.e., the next book does not focus on her) because I loved her and her relationship with Duval, but I am looking forward to exploring this world a little more, as well as getting to know Sybella more. Her character pops up occasionally in Grave Mercy — in key parts, that is — and it will be fascinating to find out where the convent sent her, and what is happening with her....more
Because it had been over a year since reading Grace Interrupted, the second book in the series, it took me a little bit to resettle into the Marshfield Manor and company. Once I did, though, I found myself enjoying this mystery and the cast of characters with only a couple minor exceptions. The biggest aspect that bothered me was the constant reference to the fact that until Grace came to Marshfield Manor, there hadn’t any murders. Which I get. But I also feel that in series like these a certain amount of suspension of belief needs to happen. In other words, yes it’s odd to have so many murders happen, but it’s a cozy mystery series and it wouldn’t really be a series without the crimes happening.
I was able to guess who was behind the thefts pretty early in the book. While normally that’s not necessarily a good thing, I don’t think it detracted too much from the book overall. After all, I don’t really expect my cozy mysteries to be all twisty turny or be extremely suspenseful. And I have probably read enough mysteries to figure things out. Because yeah, I’m awesome like that. And while I figured out who was behind the thefts, I didn’t find out what the thieves were really after, so it wasn’t like I had solved the entire mystery.
One of my favorite characters in this book is actually Frances. She is both Grace’s assistant and the resident gossip, and she can be mean, but there’s something lovable about her. Perhaps it’s that she’s not as mean as she seems. Or that underneath all that gruff, she has the best of intentions for the manor. Or she leads a mysterious life that no one knows about on the weekends. And I think that Grace is really starting to come into her own as far as the manor is concerned, and who she is as an amateur sleuth. Grace’s romantic life is a bit involved this time around, and while I wasn’t completely satisfied with that, I am definitely sure that I want to see where it goes in future books.
Overall, Grace Among Thieves was a great cozy mystery, and perfect for a quick summer read. I am looking forward to whatever trouble Grace gets into next!...more
I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this, but… this book didn’t have enough angst in it for me. With Miranda’s total and complete emotional upheaval and everything that is done with her memory, I needed more to connect with her and feel her pain–feel that she was real. In some ways, she acts robotic almost, and I had a hard time caring about Miranda and the other characters. If your entire world is turned upside down, wouldn’t you experience something tremendous and crazy? She was too bad ass for me. I want a little softness and vulnerability in my strong female leads.
A love triangle makes an appearance in False Memory as well. Not only am I not a fan of love triangles (as many of you already know), but I also had trouble connecting with Miranda’s feelings for each of the two boys. I wanted more angst between Miranda and her old boyfriend; I wanted the relationship to be volatile and mirror what went on between them. Instead, Miranda dealt with everything pretty well. Likewise, I didn’t understand the relationship between Miranda and Peter and why that blossomed. It just…happened.
I initially liked the premise of this book, with genetically-altered teens and a plan to bring the world into chaos. It was good. But then it kept expanding and widening, and eventually the plot just became too much and I stopped trying to track each new twist and turn. Part of me wonders if I’m simply not the right target market for this book. It’s entirely possible. I’m a very character-driven reader (excepting, for the most part, mysteries), and this book didn’t hit the right notes for me in the character department....more
Bad Behavior is a prime example of why I dislike taking review requests. Not because Bad Behavior is bad--it's not, not at all--but because I drag3.5
Bad Behavior is a prime example of why I dislike taking review requests. Not because Bad Behavior is bad--it's not, not at all--but because I drag my feet when it comes time to read and review. (Sorry, Jennifer!) And I'm sure that the only reason I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first is because it was a review request. Because review requests = obligations = not as fun. So it goes.
If you thought Sophie's and Grant's adventures were over and done with after With Good Behavior, you were wrong. Though certainly not over, the suspense factor in Bad Behavior is toned down, waiting until the very end of the book before the action kicks up and we start worrying for the characters. The ending, though? I like where it's going to take the characters. There's hope for them yet.
I'm torn about how I feel about the psychologist aspects of Bad Behavior. That Sophie and Grant work on building healthy relationships with each other and their respective families was something that belongs in more books. But it did turn into a psychology lesson every now and again, which wasn't what I was looking for at the time. Sometimes even I need to turn my brain off. Crazy. But true.
But if you've read With Good Behavior, you'll want to see how Sophie and Grant fair in this installment. I had some eyebrow-raising moments with these two (Grant more than Sophie), but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless....more