I find myself really enjoying this series despite the fact that this particular book was chock full of pain and death at pretty much every turn. I didI find myself really enjoying this series despite the fact that this particular book was chock full of pain and death at pretty much every turn. I did long for a little bit of a reprieve from it because Caim or Josey always seemed to be some experiencing level of hurt but it didn’t detract me too much from the story. It just became a little much.
I liked how it alternated between the two storylines and kept Josey involved in Caim’s quest to find himself while keeping her story almost wholly separate. I still think her personality wins over Caim’s any day but with their stories separated like they were Caim was able to stand out more on his own and come into his character more without Josey getting in the way. While I felt Caim grew significantly in SHADOW’S LURE I didn’t feel the same about Josey. Sure, she had a little growth but it was mostly clustered at the end when her hand was forced. For most of the book I felt she was kind of stagnant. That’s not to be confused with me not liking her. I still adore her but this book was much more Caim’s story than Josey’s and I was really happy to find out that she was still involved.
While Josey’s coasting along in her castle Caim’s being broken down (sometimes literally) and rebuilt as a warrior and a leader for people seeking justice against a too-power ruling hand. He also finds out more about his history and his family and it’s a lot for him to take in. He plays the act of having a hard time accepting everything but when he’s thrust into a position to make change he takes to it immediately, begrudgingly or not.
I’m still rather unsure about Kit and her purpose in this story. She really still doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot and she arrives with some interesting news for Caim that fuels the next book in the series (I think) but she’s still not much more than a scantily clad, testy character that plays lookout every once in a while. Not a whole lot going on there.
As for Caim and Josey, I totally sail on that ship. To the point where a potential adversary for Josey came into Caim’s life and I was like OH HELL NO. The other chick was dealt with in a rather not nice way (which I wouldn’t wish on a fictional character, even if she were trying to sink my ship) but I don’t think she was all that much of a contender anyway. The whole book I wanted to have Josey and Caim reunite because they obviously still want each other but no. Romantic frustration ensues. And, SPOILER ALERT, it doesn’t get resolved. But where SHADOW’S LURE ends seems promising for where book three could go.
I find the SHADOW SAGA growing on me more and more and while I find myself want my fantasies to be a bit more diverse at this point in my life instead of your standard white, European-esque fantasy I still like this series. The language is still wholly relatable and I find the characters growing on me more and more (except for Kit, really). It’s a good, solid fantasy story that I think deserves more exposure than what it’s had.
A big thanks to Chuck himself for sending me BLACKBIRDS because I’m a dolt and kept buying later books in the series without effing paying attending tA big thanks to Chuck himself for sending me BLACKBIRDS because I’m a dolt and kept buying later books in the series without effing paying attending to which title I was buying and ultimately amassing a pile of Miriam Black books but NOT HAVING THE FIRST ONE. So thank you again, Chuck.
Being a fairly regular reader of Chuck’s blog, Terrible Minds, I’ve become used to him having a certain tone, mainly snarky and combining various bodily functions, food types and swears to make these hybrid, Transformer-like expletives that I immediately want to introduce to my own lexicon. With that being said, BLACKBIRDS is exactly the book I thought Chuck would write and I loved it as much as I hoped.
The tone is pithy and dirty and snarly and paints a vivid picture all on its own. Add in the characters that are both somewhat caricatures yet so grounded in reality it’s hard to not picture them as real and you get a story that kicks you in the teeth by the end of it.
Miriam is rather . . . damaged, to put it nicely. She sees pre-dead people and it kind of messes with her head. Really, she takes it better than what I think a lot of people would but it’s not without its consequences. And there are a lot. She gets herself into some messes and she’s quickly spiraling down into nothingness but the story wouldn’t be complete without a meth-adled sidekick and Ozzy and Harriet Do Grand Theft Solar Plexus. Read the book. That’ll make more sense once you do. All of these characters are just slightly over the top that you can somewhat laugh at them but it’s more of a nervous laugh because they’re serious too but like when Joe Pesce laughs you don’t know whether it’s ha ha funny or ha ha bullet in the face.
I like Miriam. I do. She’s stubbornly imperfect and makes mistakes that she quickly regrets but she’s also pretty accepting of fate. She’s mostly consigned to the fact that it is what it is but damn it all if she’s supposed to be somewhere when it happens then come hell or broken face she’ll get herself there. She’s street smart after years of living it all but that’s not to say she doesn’t get her ass handed to her. And how.
The story is a weird mesh of out-there situations and real grounded emotions. It reminds me a little bit of Sean Beaudoin’s work but where his is, for the most part, a total mind fuck, Chuck’s is more realistic and sometimes it makes you question whether you’ve been roofied. Not all the time. Just some of it. It’s actually a pretty good balance nestled firmly centered on a scale of Reservoir Dogs to Fight Club.
Lucky me I have the next two in the series on hand! Hooray! No waiting. I want to see where Chuck takes the story. It was kind of effed up in BLACKBIRDS. I want to see how much more twisted it can get. Because, you know, carpet noodle.
THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH is a definite bridge book. Despite the fact that it’s been about three and a half years since I read the first book this one brTHE MADNESS UNDERNEATH is a definite bridge book. Despite the fact that it’s been about three and a half years since I read the first book this one brought me up to speed pretty quickly, like about Rory getting stabbed at the end of the last book and now this one is picking up where that left off. I remember the ripper guy and she becoming a terminus and it was enough to get me into this one. But at the end of the day there wasn’t a whole lot going on here until the very end.
For the most part THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH is about Rory coping with what happened to her, learning to interact with people, and ghosts, on a different level, and attempting to get on with her life. No surprise she doesn’t actually want to move on from anything and still wants to be involved with the Shades because she’s useful. And she is. But a lot of the book is people interaction and Rory going back to school and getting psychological help and not much else. The prologue is an event that happens just before Rory goes back to school that has a supernatural element to it and one more of this kind of instance happens further on in the story but that’s it. Some insinuations are made, educated guesses are had, but that particular plot element is secondary in this second book and aside from those couple of touches it’s left unresolved by the end of it. It’s a neat concept and I really hope it’s carried over into the next book but here it was just an introduction. Don’t get too attached yet.
Then there’s the cult Rory inadvertently gets involved with but, of course, she doesn’t realize until too late what’s going on and it sets off a series of smaller events that lead to a major one happening at the end that fractures their little group and, of course, is left unresolved and you’ll have to read THE SHADOW CABINET to see what happens with it all. I’m not necessarily complaining but I do wish this book had a bit more going on than just introducing plot elements for book three. It’s all filler that I feel could have been split and half added to book one and the other half combined with book three and you have a duology and that’s it. They’re not long books so it’s really not unreasonable.
Rory doesn’t seem to suffer many psychological repercussions for nearly getting murdered but it could be passed off as her coping being directly related to wanting to dive head first into the Shades or finding out more about herself. She has more going on internally than what she expresses and she tends to take drastic leaps into danger in order to find answers instead of taking a more reasonable approach to it. It doesn’t make me like her character any less, it’s just a different approach to dealing with trauma that, actually, I feel more connected to. Get involved with something else and move on.
I’m eager to read THE SHADOW CABINET now just because of how insubstantial THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH was. It continued the story a little bit but as its own book it really doesn’t do much for me. It’s short on the way of anything supernatural, there’s no resolution to anything at the end of it, and it really just all felt like filler. I did read the free short Johnson had on WattPad that was a tie-in to this book about Stephen’s life before the Shades and I really liked that. When his family is mentioned here that short immediately popped into my head and filled in gaps and fleshed him out more than what otherwise would have happened had I not read it. So I do like what Johnson’s giving me here; I just wish THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH weren’t so throwaway or that it was combined with other books. On to the next one.
This book is proof that I’ll read just about anything. I was a bit dense going into it. I knew, obviously, that there were religious undertones basedThis book is proof that I’ll read just about anything. I was a bit dense going into it. I knew, obviously, that there were religious undertones based on the blurb but I didn’t realize it was proper Christian lit, published by a Christian publisher and written by a devout Christian author, until after I even started reading. And then the psalms and overt religion started making sense.
However, that didn’t detract me from the story. And I still found ALL FOR A SONG a good story, much more about female empowerment and a young woman finding herself than anything else.
I liked Dorothy Lynn, both in her younger days and her last ones, and you could see the transformation she makes. Or more correctly the realization she makes about herself. She’s flawed. She makes mistakes. She hangs around with less than savory people in order to achieve an end. But she’s incredibly self-aware and she suffers for her actions but she doesn’t apologize for them either. And she can thank Mr Lundi for that.
His first name escapes me at the moment so I’ll just call him Lundi, Lundi is a rather slimy fellow that gets Dorothy Lynn to travel with their revivalist group there and he just has an air of sleaze about him. He just borders inappropriate with her, he talks a good game, knows all the right things to say and do, knows all the right people, and I didn’t like him for most of the book. I really didn’t. He was gross. But around the last quarter of it or so his facade really breaks down and he becomes more human to me. He’s still a bit of a slime and a schmoozer but he gives some damn good advice. He empowers Dorothy Lynn, makes her hold her head up about what she’s done, convinces her not to beg for forgiveness but own her life, whatever life she chooses. It was such a wonderful message and I really wish I got to see more of that part of his character throughout. And his and Dorothy Lynn’s parting broke my heart a little. It really did.
The female preacher there, you can keep her. Yay, lady preacher! Boo, self-aggrandizing snatch. She was just a nasty piece of work and it’s unfortunate that that’s the character she was. She was almost bordering on bitter but she was pretty nasty and rather mean. The two faces of Jesus, I guess.
You don’t really see much of Brent, Dorothy’s intended, because most of the story is set away from Heron’s Nest, but from what I saw he was a rather forwarding thinking guy for the period setting. He definitely still had hints of male-dominated society about him where women are flitted about with their permission but considering his upbringing and where he landed, he deserves more credit than that. He truly loved Dorothy and let her go to do what she needed to do. All he had was faith that she would come back. Not a lot of guys would do that even today.
I wish the older Dorothy had her voice because the sass going on in her head was rather hilarious. I liked the camaraderie she had with Charlotte and how her young relative brought a life gone by back to her, if even for a little while. The rest of Dorothy’s family was rather useless in that regard and that’s a sad state. Still she gets to have a meaningful connection with someone before the light fades.
I’m not religious. I’m not about to go out and find Jesus after reading ALL FOR A SONG, nor am I about to seek out more Christian lit. With that being said, this really was an incredibly good story. So HONEST and without pretense and that really surprised me for how steeped in religion it really was. I didn’t feel preached at or moralized at all. There was such an overwhelming sense of girl power going on here that I couldn’t help but get revved up about it. I really liked Dorothy, for all her flaws and mistakes. She was honest (eventually) to herself and everyone around her. She indulged and recanted, screwed up and apologized. She’s HUMAN. You can’t really ask for anything more. I do have one more Pittman book through BookShout (where I also got ALL FOR A SONG) that I plan on reading. I really think it’s a shame that this book isn’t more mainstream (while something like HALO by Alexandra Adornetto is and is just so steeped in self-righteous religioning it makes me gag and it’s a Big 5 book) because there’s so much going on here and I think it would touch far more people than just the limited market that Christian lit addresses itself to.
We were not impressed. Well, all but one weren’t. So it was NEARLY unanimous in our lack of impressed. Go to our home and see what we had to say aboutWe were not impressed. Well, all but one weren’t. So it was NEARLY unanimous in our lack of impressed. Go to our home and see what we had to say about the stupid names and nonsensical plot and hyperbole and general ridiculousness of it all. Yes, it was December’s book and this is late going up. Oh well....more
Overall we liked this one. We thought it was NICE. It was a NICE book that was short enough on WORDS to keep us from loving it. But we liked it. It waOverall we liked this one. We thought it was NICE. It was a NICE book that was short enough on WORDS to keep us from loving it. But we liked it. It was pleasant and ultimately enjoyable. Read our thoughts for yourself over at the YAck blog and maybe give THE BONESHAKER a try. It couldn’t hurt....more
Laura was Keeper of the Book last month and she chose this . . . interesting read about seal fucking and the men who love fish a little too much. A feLaura was Keeper of the Book last month and she chose this . . . interesting read about seal fucking and the men who love fish a little too much. A few of us LOVED it for the over-abundance of WORDS. A few of us HATED it for the over-abundance of WORDS. Some of us were interested enough to keep reading and not care much at the end. So yeah, we were split all ways on this one. Come see what we had to say over at the Yack blog and be done with it. Seal fucking. Seriously....more
This came through on William Morrow’s ARC mailing list request email that I receive and I accidentally requested it. I say accidHow did we end up here
This came through on William Morrow’s ARC mailing list request email that I receive and I accidentally requested it. I say accidentally because I’d already previously decided to stop accepting review copies altogether but my brain vacated my body when this one came through and by the time I remembered I didn’t want any more review copies I’d already put my name in for it. Oh well.
Aside from that not only was I intrigued by the premise Hill is the offspring of one Stephen King. I just HAD to.
Okay, book. You've got 50 pages. Go!
Coming in at nearly 700 pages I have to go back and look to see what actually happened in the first 50 that had me keep reading because, really, door stoppers scare me and in hindsight I blew through this bitch so . . . hold on . . .
Okay. It opens with this 99% corpse of a coma patient who’s this renowned kiddie killer waking up but maybe not and this nurse witnesses it and she’s a bit freaked out. And then you get your first peek at Vic and her bridge to places that find things except it makes her eyeball want to explode when she does it. And Bing Partridge with his yeasty dick that will forever be stuck with me because ew.
Hill is a scene setter and he knows just where to drop those little tidbits of crotch rot that’ll crawl your skin and embed you into the scene even more. He doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares but instead slowly builds the creep by leaving you little pieces of creep candy to string you along the pages. By page 50 Manx, Vic and Bing had already made appearances and there was no getting away from them at this point.
What worked . . .
Like I said, NOS4A2 is nearly 700 pages (689 to be exact). I don’t normally read books this long because they usually can’t hold my patience for that amount of time. But this one? Despite the fact that is took me two weeks to read (which is long for me) it felt like no time at all. I kept coming to points in the story where if it weren’t for the bulk of pages remaining it rightly should have ended. I found myself asking how could this keep going? What is going to happen next? And Hill kept winging them at me. I was never let down in all of the plot, or left wanting for something more interesting. If it wasn’t centered around Christmasland and Manx and Bing it was about Vic and her downward spiral. Who doesn’t love a train wreck? I’m hard-pressed to find a lull here.
Creepy children. You really can’t go wrong with creepy children and NOS4A2 had them in spades without killing their buzz. While the plot centered around Manx and his kidnapping children and turning them into worm-like vampires the actual child presence in the story was barely there. Until Wayne came into the picture children were insinuated, hardly more than spooky voices backdropped by jingle bells on a crackly phone call. They were used sparingly and only when necessary. I got a peek of one when Vic first met Manx and we really get to see what he does to the children he takes. Effing weird. But it gets even better when the POV switches to Wayne. Without spoiling anything I’ll leave it at that.
Talk about ruining Christmas. What a great way to make Bing Crosby sound sinister. Aside from attaching the name Bing to one Mr. Partridge , who dissolved into a proper Lenny by the end of the book. He seemed far more put together if not a little immature when he first met Manx and just deteriorated into this feeb that could barely function without Manx. And Manx himself? Especially at the beginning you could almost empathize with his quest to help children. You really could. I know I started thinking maybe people had it wrong about him. Based on this prophetic graveyard of future ruined children, maybe they were better off with him. Yeah, no, not so much. But he really believed in himself and it was hard to not believe him. Until his exterior started to crack and his real personality started to slip. Then it was like, oh okay. He cray cray.
What didn't work . . .
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Vic once she grew up. She was endearing as a child and blessedly angst-ridden as a teenager but she ended up rather insufferable as an adult. The thing is I think she was supposed to be a more unlikable protagonist and that was fine because there was so much more going on around her to root for. I could still root for her mission without giving her too much thought. I could support Wayne without having to jump on the Vic bandwagon. She grew up to be a rather rough person that was understandably self-centered in order to protect herself from her past but it came at the price of her present and that kind of sucked. But she ended up getting her shit together long enough to serve her purpose so I can’t really fault her for that.
Lou was kind of a non-character until the very end where he actually displayed his relevance to the story. He had a moment right in the middle of it but that gap from when he enters to when the story closes isn’t filled with much.
One could argue that Vic’s dad was a bit deus ex machina but it didn’t really bother me enough to get angry about it. Her dad merely supplied a product. Vic had to see it through to the end so it really wasn’t that bad.
And in the end . . .
It takes a lot to scare me so I would be stretching it if I said NOS4A2 scared me but it certainly had its moments. Hill is great at character and despite their flaws there’s something in each of them that’s at least a little bit relatable. They’re all still human and maybe that’s one of the more scary elements. In the end Manx was a father protecting his daughters and wanting what’s best for them. At a cost. It’s scary to relate him to something so simplistic and HUMAN because he’s so far from it but it can’t be helped. I actually found Bing to be the far more disturbing person than Manx because of what he did to the parents and how feeble yet astute he actually was. He teetered on this line of touched and tough and it was difficult to tell which he was. You could see pieces of his remorse poking through but it was more in line with disappointing his father figure than feeling bad about what he’d done. And he’d done incredibly adult things to people for the sake of Manx, things that an immature person with a stunted mental capacity probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend too well. Bing knew damn well what he was going. So which was it? It’s hard to know.
NOS4A2 is a breeze to read despite its length and it’ll give you a much different look at Christmas. I know I’ll be hearing those carols a hell of a lot differently from now on. Especially anything sung by a children’s choir. *shudder*...more
I don’t know why this one’s called THE KNIFE. It actually has very little to do with a knife, or knives. You see one maybe twice in the entire story.I don’t know why this one’s called THE KNIFE. It actually has very little to do with a knife, or knives. You see one maybe twice in the entire story. It’s rather misleading.
Kudos to another Fear Street book that didn’t have crappy characters. That’s not to say there weren’t any unlikeable characters but friends were friends who didn’t stab each other in the back and everyone (mostly) got along just fine. Aside from a possible murder in the hospital but, you know. Details.
THE KNIFE ended up being rather different and went far darker and a bit more serious than any Fear Street book I’ve read. The big reveal at the end was actually shocking and I guess in hindsight you can see where it’s going but I don’t know too many people who would actually guess it. It’s such an out-there topic that I don’t think people would think that way. So I think just from a story perspective it’s unique and brings something different to the Fear Street series other than just pure cheese and horror. It made it all more real and, possibly, even too real.
To lend to that plot, though, it’s all taken rather lightheartedly and in proper Fear Street fashion. People get over things really quickly, being tied up in someone’s basement is no big deal, children disappearing is normal, that whole thing. It’s almost inappropriate how light the characters treat such a serious topic and I think this is where Stine falters. He’s good at light and cheesy and campy but when he tries something more serious in this campy horror series it gets too difficult to manage. Fear Street isn’t serious so while the plot is shocking it doesn’t quite fit with the rest and lends itself to some awkward character interaction as a result.
I want to say I liked THE KNIFE but again, awkward ending is awkward even though it was shocking. The characters were good in all their white-bred (bread) glory but they weren’t memorable although I will give Laurie credit for her persistence in getting to the bottom of what was going on at the hospital. Slightly horrifying ending but handled poorly so call this one a wash, really.
I’m a bit blasé when it comes to WHAT HOLLY HEARD. I didn’t really care about it one way or another. There was next to no scary going on, the plot wasI’m a bit blasé when it comes to WHAT HOLLY HEARD. I didn’t really care about it one way or another. There was next to no scary going on, the plot wasn’t interesting, I wasn’t all that interested in any of the characters. It was just blah.
Holly is a gossip that ends up getting killed because she has a big mouth. Presumably. She really wasn’t developed much beyond being a gossip and having a boyfriend but salivating over someone else’s boyfriend while shamelessly trying to get said boyfriend. So once she died it was kind of like eh. Not much of a character there to miss, really.
Miriam was kind of like a bowl of plain oatmeal. She doesn’t make any waves and she’s just there really to push us through the story. (I realize this sounds nothing like plain oatmeal but the comparison is in the blandness of it all.) She fights with her own boyfriend a lot and when he starts getting physically violent with her she has moments of strength before dissolving into forgiveness and taking him back. That got old after a while, especially as it kept happening.
Ruth was kind of just there in the background, reading books and playing with her hamsters while the story went on around her. She and Holly butt heads a lot and she was really vocal about Holly digging into other people’s lives and stringing her boyfriend along while she chased this other guy who wasn’t single. But that was the extent of Ruth’s character.
The story is set up so you believe that this couple are the perpetrators and instigating all these threats and making these kills. Of course, in proper Fear Street fashion, that’s not the case. Another good ending where you’re not blindsided by the killer. The clues are there. You just have to follow them. WHAT HOLLY HEARD didn’t have much of a twist either. I guess some might call it that but not me. It was just revealing the killer and that’s about it.
Not Stine’s worst Fear Street showing but certainly not his best. This falls somewhere in the middle where it’s not bad but I wouldn’t call it good either.
This is a very classic Fear Street book in that it’s crappy characters being crappy to each other as the big twist at the end. Everything seems okay aThis is a very classic Fear Street book in that it’s crappy characters being crappy to each other as the big twist at the end. Everything seems okay aside from Jason appearing to be a little murderous over money and he’s coming off as the driving antagonist in the book but the “twist” comes and it’s SURPRISE. All a ruse and no one’s really friends after all. It’s kind of shitty, really.
The plot seemed like it was heading in an okay-enough direction as the girls find this money and decide to bury to while they wait for news about it to surface but Sydney blabs about it and now it looks like Jason wants to kill Emma out of the way for his cut of the dough. Not sure why he thinks he would be deserving but whatever.
I did like how it went psychological at the end and even with the shitty twist this particular portion of it worked out pretty well and was pretty inventive. I have to give the book that. But it’s incredibly disappointing that I keep going into the Fear Street books not believing any of the friendships because more often than not they turn out to be fake in some way. THE RICH GIRL didn’t disappoint in that regard. While the crappy friend got a smidge of comeuppance at the end and it’s supposed to be oh no! We did all that work for nothing! Only to have me end up thinking you destroyed someone’s life for nothing! The comeuppance was stupidly pale against what they actually did to someone so it wasn’t much of an ending.
I do still like how unapologetic with killing kids Stine is. Oh, kid got smashed in the head with a shovel. He’s dead! Let’s sink him in a lake. While not the most creative Fear Street death the characters deal with it in proper Fear Street fashion with at least one of them getting over it really quickly. The other, not so much and THAT was a nice departure from the normal. Someone who actually feels guilty about something. SO RARE.
Not impressed with THE RICH GIRL. It doesn’t have a ton of originality except as part of the twist ending, the characters suck (except for one but she gets the crap end of the deal in her literary life), and the ending wasn’t fulfilling. What little good there was here it was grossly overshadowed by the . . . not good.