I liked Blood Magic more than I thought I would, but less than I'd hoped. I loved that was a "gritty" book. Happily ever afters don't fall into the ch...moreI liked Blood Magic more than I thought I would, but less than I'd hoped. I loved that was a "gritty" book. Happily ever afters don't fall into the characters' laps, and they have to make sacrifices to survive. Really, my only complaint was that the final "showdown" scene in the end seemed...kind of...easy. The rest of the book made the characters struggle, making the book feel more real, but in the last pages felt hasty. Overall, it's worth a read. I'll definitely read the companion book.(less)
I absolutely LOVED the first two thirds of Lethal. Apart from Sandra Brown's usual cheesy dialogue, it felt real and believable. The suspense was perf...moreI absolutely LOVED the first two thirds of Lethal. Apart from Sandra Brown's usual cheesy dialogue, it felt real and believable. The suspense was perfect, and the romance was gripping, if a bit overdone. It was a great read.
And then the last third happened, and my review lost a star. I won't spoil the ending for any die-hard S. B. fans, but suffice it to say that I wasn't sold on the identity of her villain. It was beyond forced.
Overall, I'd recommend it for a light read, but don't expect anything earth shattering.(less)
Summary: Meghan Chase and her cast of fey friends return in Julie Kagawa's sequel to The Iron King. In this installment, Meghan's romance with Ash is...moreSummary: Meghan Chase and her cast of fey friends return in Julie Kagawa's sequel to The Iron King. In this installment, Meghan's romance with Ash is pushed to the limits when she is forced to uphold her end of a fateful bargain that saved her brother's life. Megan travels with Ash to the Winter Court to face Queen Mab, and is swept into an even more perilous adventure when a mysterious stranger usurps the role of Iron King and sends the iron fey to steal the Sceptor of Seasons -- a magical tool that enhances Mab's power during winter, and Oberon's during the summer. Mab, blaming the summer court for the theft, seeks battle with the summer fey. Only Meghan and Ash seem to know the truth, so they journey into the Iron Fey's territory once more to stop a war that could destory both their courts forever.
Thoughts:The Iron Daughter was every bit as entertaining as the first novel in the series, but it also held all the same flaws. The romance is unfounded, most of the characters fall flat, and stereotypes reign supreme. However, Meghan's potential power begins to build here, and we finally catch a glimpse of what makes her such a threat/asset to the fey courts. The story is fast paced and full of suspense, which kept me vested, but the characters are every bit as infuriating as ever.
For those with eReaders: This was formatted excellently for kindle. The cover illustration is included, as well as a table of contents with click through links to the start of each chapter. Well edited, and priced well under the hard copy price. (less)
Summary: Meghan Chase is an average American teenager. Except that she's not. Sure, she's unpopular, broke and has no social life, but unbeknownst to...moreSummary: Meghan Chase is an average American teenager. Except that she's not. Sure, she's unpopular, broke and has no social life, but unbeknownst to her, she's also the daughter of the Summer Court's Faery King. When her little brother Ethan is replaced by a changeling, Meghan must embrace her secret heritage and journey into Nevernever, the land of fey, to save him. Along for the journey is Meghan's best friend Robbie, secretly the famous "Puck" of A Midsummer's Night Dream, who has spent all 16 years of Meghan's life disguised as a human, protecting her from malicious fey who would seek to kidnap the Summer Court princess. Also lending a helping hand is Grimalkin, who bears a striking resemblance to the Cheshire Cat.
Thoughts:The Iron King was a great story with underpar character development. Almost everyone falls flat, making predictable decisions and exhibiting very little "growth" throughout the book. However, the concept of The Iron King was a fun twist on faery lore. While searching for her little brother, Meghan learns that there has been a massive change in the balance of Nevernever. Alongside the traditional "Summer Court" and "Winter Court," "The Iron Fey" have sprung into existance: a new species of faery birthed of human imagination and dreams of technology and science. The Iron Fey thrive on iron, the bane of all other faery existance, and threaten to overrun their territory and slowly poison both other courts.
The descriptions of Nevernever are another highlight. Every setting in the book feels realistic -- balancing the beauty and magic with harsher facts of faery life. Even the backdrops in the human world are well established.
For those with eReaders: I read this on my kindle. The formatting was flawless and the price slightly lower than the hard copy's. No complaints.(less)
Summary: In a world free of all major ailments, life should be perfect, but instead, a freak medical accident has reduced the life expectancy of women...moreSummary: In a world free of all major ailments, life should be perfect, but instead, a freak medical accident has reduced the life expectancy of women to 20 and men to 25. All children born to the "new generation" are doomed to die a gruesome death, contracting an undefeatable new virus mere months after their 20 or 25th birthday. To keep the human population from dwindling, young girls are kidnapped and sold as brides to the polygamous weathly upper class, or forced into prostitution. Rhine Ellery is one such stolen girl. She is lucky enough to become the bride of a kind architect in Florida, but unlike her sister wives who were raised as orphans, Rhine has a brother and childhood home. She has tasted freedom. Though no bride has ever managed an escape, the possibility of returning to her life and brother is what Rhine lives for.
Review: Another review called Lauren DeStefano's Wither "The Handmaid's Tale retold for teens." There are certainly strong similarities between the two books; in both women are forced to leave their lives and homes to work toward the "greater good" of repopulating the earth. However, it's not quite fair to think of Wither as a derivation or copy. This is truly a unique story, and an impressive, though not flawless, debut.
Rhine is a strong heroine. That in itself sets Wither apart from the mass of YA novels centered on helplessly besotten girls. From the moment she is taken into captivity, Rhine is resolved to escape, and neither her rich husband's oblivious kindness nor the budding romance she shares with a servant will deter her. Reminiscent of Katniss (The Hunger Games) or Amy (Across the Universe), Rhine's strong will is a welcome break to the YA mold.
Also notable is the relationship between the "sister wives." The expected "competition" never forms. Despite their stark differences and unequal privileges, the girls have surprisingly little animosity toward one another. In fact, they truly begin to form a sister-like bond, protecting each other from the many dangers of their world. Their characters were surprisingly well developed, and their actions always justified. These girls feel startlingly real.
[SMALL SPOILER AHEAD!] My only complaints about the book lay in Linden, the hopelessly blind and doting husband. He is supposedly controlled by his overbearing father, but I found his obliviousness in regard to his wives' pasts hard to believe. Apparently, he doesn't even realize that the girls have been kidnapped -- he is under the impression that they were raised to become wives, and that they submitted willingly to their marriage. Since the girls spend their first few days in his mansion drugged and unconsious, I found this (for lack of a better term) excuse for his character hard to swallow. DeStefano tries to make Linden almost pitiable, but I didn't buy it. Had he known about the girls' plight and been sympathetic or outraged by it, had be been a true prisoner of his father, it might have been beneficial to pen him as a "good guy," but as it was, he read as either incredibly stupid or falsely benevolent. Neither was effective. (Maybe this issue will be cleared up in the sequel?)
Overall, Wither was a well written and fascinating story. I'd definitely recommend it as a fun read, but wouldn't give it any medals.
For those with eReaders: I read this one on my kindle, and it was EXCELLENT. The cover (both front and back) and inside flaps were shown, as well as the designs on the opening pages. No errors in editing, as far as I could tell, and no mishaps with formatting. One of the best I've seen so far. Price was fair -- about $10, so cheaper than a hard copy.(less)
A Quick Thought: After reading so many negetive reviews, I was really surprised by Passion. And in a good way. This is definitely more than a glorifie...moreA Quick Thought: After reading so many negetive reviews, I was really surprised by Passion. And in a good way. This is definitely more than a glorified prequel. It's true that Luce and Daniel spend nearly the entire book traveling through the past, but the story line is still moving forward as Luce tries to understand and break the curse that threatenes their love. If you liked the first two novels in this series, ignore the haters and give this one a try for yourself. I enjoyed it every bit as much as the rest of the series.(less)
Summary:Ballad is the sequel to Lament, and picks up almost exactly where its predecessor left off. This tale is narrated in turns by James (from Lam...moreSummary:Ballad is the sequel to Lament, and picks up almost exactly where its predecessor left off. This tale is narrated in turns by James (from Lament) and Nuala, a newly introduced faerie. The heroine of Lament, Deirdre, is still a central character in this novel, but her story is put on the back burner while James takes center stage.
Just after an epic showdown with the fey, James is hunted by Nuala, a faerie who exchanges unimaginable talent for years of her victims' lives. Fate sticks its nose into matters and the two find themselves falling into star crossed love. When both Nuala and Deirdre's lives are threatened, James finds himself in a second supernatural battle, but this time around he is faced with a gut-wrenching decision: he has the power to save both of the girls he loves, but the time to rescue only one.
Thoughts: Maggie S. makes me take back my words again. I loved Lament despite my predictions, and now I find myself besotted with Ballad. When I learned that Deirdre and Luke's romance wouldn't be continued in this sequel, I was a little heartbroken. I immediately expected to be disappointed with this book. However, I was surprised to find that Stiefvater kicked things up a notch with James' story. Ballad surpassed all my expectations.
With words as lyrical and haunting as ever, we are sucked once more into a realm of magic. Of love. Of longing. Of danger. Someone needs to give Stiefvater a medal for her ability to inspire compassion for her trouble-seeking characters, because no matter how many times the humans in this book go running (literally) after murderous faeries, I can't help but want to be barreling into the hills beside them. So perfectly is the luring song of the fey described that I find myself expecting to catch a whisper of it in the moonlight. The penning of Ballad is exquisite.
The one real fault I found in Lament was the brash and careless way Deirdre and Luke fall in love. There was no inspiration or cause for their emotions written in the pages. I mentally wrote that off to faerie magic then, and expected to have to do the same in the sequel. I was pleasantly surprised to find James' actions entirely feasible. His character is so developed that all of his actions become inevitable -- they're just what James would do. When romance blossoms between him and the faerie Nuala, it is subtle, hesitant and most importantly, real. No pixie dust excuses needed.
Ballad also pushes the faerie lore to new depth, questioning what it means to be "human," and whether humanity is a privilege or burden. Nuala's narration illuminates the pain that comes with being an immortal, cold-natured species -- exposes both the personal value of human love and it's literal worth. Her story is 6 parts bitter and only 4 parts sweet, but it inspires more empathy in her character than a pretty past would, and more hope. Through her journey both the beauty of humanity and harshness of life is expounded.
I can't say enough good things, but I can say "GO READ THIS NOW!" So I will: Go read this now. Ballad is a book to devour once with alacrity, and then again to savor.(less)
Summary: (spoiler free) Girl is extremely talented musician. With extreme talent often comes other special abilities, such as telekinesis. Faeries lik...moreSummary: (spoiler free) Girl is extremely talented musician. With extreme talent often comes other special abilities, such as telekinesis. Faeries like extremely talented musicians, but almost always eliminate them, as their extra abilities pose a threat. Talented girl is destined for assassination, but is saved when her killer falls in love with her. The two must attempt to beat the odds and defeat the evil faerie Queen if they and their love is to survive.
Thoughts: I didn't expect to like Lament as much as I did. The book held a few of my writing pet peeves within the first thirty pages, and while that should have been a huge turn-off, somehow it wasn't. In fact, I couldn't stop reading until I reached the last page. Five minutes after finishing I am already tempted to flip back to the front and start again. My theory is that Maggie Stiefvater can do with words what her heroine, Deirdre, can do with a harp; for those of you who are new to this tale, I assure you that both women are uncannily skilled.
Within the first chapter I could feel myself falling into a world brimming with unexplained coincidences and startling possibility. Many improbable events unfolded with no explanation whatsoever, but the dense magic in the story makes this acceptable, and the susbsequent suspense is delicious. The book is filled with song, and Stiefvater's words are fittingly lyrical, ensnaring readers in a welcome net stitched of myth and fairy tale.
YA Fiction currently has a strong inclination toward "paranormal romance," and the genre has developed as certain stigma for recycling a singular plot and theme. However, Stiefvater's use of traditional Celtic faerie lore gives this book a grounding and depth that sets it apart from the crowd of stories about angst-ridden teenage girls looking for a "unique" boy to love. It takes both artistry and intuition to craft a novel that defeats its stereotype. With Lament, Steifvater has struck a golden combination.
I have the sequel, Ballad, on my nightstand and I cannot wait to reimmerse myself in a world of faerie and bittersweet love. Hats off to Maggie S. for clearing some of the sludge from the YA name.(less)
I love love love this cookbook. The recipes are going to be challenging to master, I know, but the clear directions and helpful tips give me the confi...moreI love love love this cookbook. The recipes are going to be challenging to master, I know, but the clear directions and helpful tips give me the confidence to keep trying until I get them right. Gesine Bullock-Prado transcribes her sugar wisdom with the perfect balance of humor and guidence. I can't wait to get cooking. Highly recommended reading for anyone with a sweet tooth.(less)
This is the second cookbook in the "500" series I've read, and I love it as much as the first. Old favorites and new recipes mingle in this definitive...moreThis is the second cookbook in the "500" series I've read, and I love it as much as the first. Old favorites and new recipes mingle in this definitive volume on pies and tarts. I can't wait to get cooking.(less)
I predict that this will become one of my favorite cookbooks. It's organized, easy to understand, and brimming with unique, creative ideas for delicio...moreI predict that this will become one of my favorite cookbooks. It's organized, easy to understand, and brimming with unique, creative ideas for delicious cupcakes. Highly recommended reading.(less)
Summary:Fighting for Your Marriage is like one stop shopping for techniques to better your relationship. The book is broken down into clearly labeled...moreSummary:Fighting for Your Marriage is like one stop shopping for techniques to better your relationship. The book is broken down into clearly labeled sections of interest, and every potential problem (and solution) a couple might face is described in great detail. Examples of troublesome (and ideal) conversations are given often, and there are plenty of "talking points" and exercises to help couples integrate this book's advice into their relationship.
Thoughts: As a newly wed, I haven't had the time or misfortune to encounter many of the potential problems highlighted in this book. However, I feel that the introduction is completely justified in saying that this is a great preparation tool for couples who are perfectly happy, or even for singles who are looking to start a serious relationship.
Fighting for Your Marriage gets 6/5 stars for clarity, but it is also sometimes overly repetitive. It does a great job of explaining situations from the (typical) viewpoints of both men and women, and manages to be very "readable." The book sounds like a conversation rather than a lecture.
I received a copy of this book free during an Army couples' retreat, and had originally planned to pass it on after reading, but now I think I might keep in on the shelf. While it soemtimes reads a little on the cliche side, it seems to hold quite a bit of wisdom that might someday come in handy.
I'd especially recommend this to couples in new marriages/relationships that are on the brink of becoming serious. I feel as though this book helped me develop the ability to spot a problem coming, and keep it from spiraling out of control.
It probably deserves four stars for quality, but the repetitive nature of the text was just annoying enough to knock the last star off the chart.(less)