3.5 stars. Heroine has an excellent voice with deliciously dry wit and clever banter with the hero, though I grew a bit weary of her jumping to hasty-3.5 stars. Heroine has an excellent voice with deliciously dry wit and clever banter with the hero, though I grew a bit weary of her jumping to hasty--and erroneus--conclusions. Could have used a few more pages for more satisfying resolutions to several threads. A fast and fun read....more
A story setup of this nature--two men discovering they're long-lost twins--really needs time to develop and explore to make sure it's believable, andA story setup of this nature--two men discovering they're long-lost twins--really needs time to develop and explore to make sure it's believable, and that just doesn't happen here....more
3.5 Stars. I was very impressed with Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel, The Crown, and I absolutely loved the follow-up, The Chalice. So I could not wait to3.5 Stars. I was very impressed with Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel, The Crown, and I absolutely loved the follow-up, The Chalice. So I could not wait to get my hands on the final book in the Joanna Stafford trilogy, The Tapestry. It's hard to review books that are part of a series without giving away spoilers from the previous books, so forgive me if my plot recap is a bit vague and I focus more on my overall impressions.
The Tapestry differs from the previous books in several ways. There's not much of a mystery or mission in this book as there was in the others. Joanna is still in danger from an unknown enemy, but that danger stems from things she did in the past rather than what she's doing now. She's just trying to live her life, and though she is drawn back into Henry VIII's court once again, this time it's for a fairly benign and above-board purpose: creating a custom tapestry for the king and helping him inventory the extensive collection of tapestries he already has. So I figured that, since Joanna was now living at court again alongside her good friend Catherine Howard, she was going to somehow be embroiled in the Catherine Howard scandal and that I would get an inside view of this tragic queen's downfall at the hands of a gifted writer. But Joanna's journey ends up taking her far from the English court, and we learn about Catherine's alleged extracurricular activities and the fallout from them secondhand. That was a bit disappointing for me.
However, Joanna's journey through the Hapsburg empire to find her former fiance, Edmund, who she believes to be in great danger, did provide a welcome examination of what was going on across the Channel during Henry VIII's reign. And the fact that her traveling companion is her other former flame, constable Geoffrey Scovill, made for some wonderful emotional turmoil. I found the descriptions of political and religious divisions in Germany to be fascinating. Joanna travels through a land decimated by drought and famine, full of wary and unwelcoming people, where entire towns close their gates to outsiders and even the nobles are resorting to highway robbery to make ends meet. Her experiences and observations were eye-opening and served as a great contrast to the ignorant decadence of the English court. And Joanna's friendship with painter Hans Holbein was a pleasant addition to the story, as were the discussions of men who were challenging the commonly held assumptions of the church and scientific community, men like Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Copernicus.
The story is fast-paced and had me on the edge of my seat quite a bit as Joanna finds herself in one precarious situation after another. I blew through the pages to see how it would all shake out, but I have to say I felt like a major thread was left hanging: the prophecy that Joanna was supposed to be at the center of. It is an underlying theme of the first two books, but it fades away around the middle of this book and never makes a reappearance. And after such a build-up to find Edmund, I felt like their reunion was rather anti-climactic, and her decisions made at the end felt rushed. I wish I had been inside her head more at the end as she grappled with her conflicting emotions about faith, love, and marriage and the direction she wanted her life to take.
So overall, I have mixed feelings about this final installment in Joanna Stafford's series. It's an exciting read, and the historical detail is amazing, as always, and I was very pleased with Joanna's personal transformation and the final choices she made for her future, so the ending was extremely satisfying for me. But I couldn't help but feel like the overall story arc had some holes in it and a couple of underdeveloped plot points. But judging by the other early reviews, I am literally alone in my opinion on this, so don't take my word for it. This is a great series featuring a wonderfully unique protagonist in an environment that never lacks for drama and intrigue, and I recommend it to all lovers of Tudor fiction and historical mysteries....more
I had really high hopes for this historical fantasy debut, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Almost a month passed between when I read tI had really high hopes for this historical fantasy debut, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Almost a month passed between when I read this and when I wrote my review, and I could hardly remember a thing about it before I skimmed back through it, so I think that's pretty telling. A medieval world filled with witches and wizards, revenants and prophets, magic and alchemy should be extremely gripping and atmospheric . . . but it's not so much.
I had some issues with the presentation of Elizabeth's character. There's a twist early on when we find out what Elizabeth has been doing with her nights, and I really felt like it merited more explanation and emotional exploration. That kind of secret has got to take a toll on a young woman, but we don't know if it does on Elizabeth because she never talks about it. And later in the story, Elizabeth is confronted with some startling truths about the world she thought she knew, but really, I couldn't help but think that a smart girl like her should have figured it all out much sooner. I did.
Combine that lack of depth with some uneven pacing and a superficial romance, and eventually I realized I was reading just to get to the end and see how it would all play out. There was a lot of potential here for in-depth characterization and gritty storytelling, but it wasn't fully realized and ending up feeling rather simplistic. The Witch Hunter is by no means a bad book--it certainly has its share of action and excitement--but I found it to be ultimately forgettable in a genre where the bar has been set high by some fantastic stories....more
Even though I wasn't blown away by the one other M.J. Rose book I read, I was drawn to the gorgeous cover and intriguing description of this one. I alEven though I wasn't blown away by the one other M.J. Rose book I read, I was drawn to the gorgeous cover and intriguing description of this one. I almost gave up 50 pages in because the writing was really rocky, but then the plot kicked in and I was encouraged. But around the 60-percent mark, I did give up, for good this time. I just did not care what happened to Sandrine. Perhaps if more time had been spent developing her character before she was possessed, I would have been rooting for her. This story concept had terrific potential, but for me, it didn't live up to it....more
I am not a fashionista, and I didn't know anything about Coco Chanel before reading this. But I am a fan of women who sGiveaway @ Let Them Read Books!
I am not a fashionista, and I didn't know anything about Coco Chanel before reading this. But I am a fan of women who shape their own destinies and leave their mark on the world in the process, and C.W.'s novels have yet to let me down, so this one immediately went on my wishlist. I was not disappointed! This novel is a tour de force, much like the woman at its heart, and I think it's Gortner's best book yet.
I'm glad I did not read any reviews before reading this book because, looking through some of them now, I see that some major plot points that hit me pretty hard would have been spoiled for me. So if you're like me and don't know anything about her life either, and if you like to be taken unaware by a great story, be careful as you browse reviews. This one will be relatively spoiler free. If you are familiar with Coco's story, I think you'll find Gortner's interpretation to be balanced and well researched, vibrant with the essence of this legendary woman.
Mademoiselle Chanel's life is a true rags-to-riches story. The story of a woman who used talent, opportunity, and an awful lot of hard work to build a fashion empire. The story of a woman prone to perennial heartbreak, no matter her fame and fortune. The story of a woman who held her heart close yet allowed it to shine through in bittersweet tributes and acts of generosity. She is far from perfect. Her self-absorption causes her to be blindsided by certain developments and to feel tremendous guilt in the aftermath of others. She is a demanding employer and businesswoman, vindictive and even vengeful at times. She cultivates some controversial connections that will tarnish her reputation and her legacy, and she doesn't always come out on the high side of moral dilemmas.
But in spite of all these flaws, you cannot help but admire her. Her drive, her ambition, her sense of style and understanding of a woman's fashion needs. Her desire to free women from the cages of their corseted clothing. Her ability to adapt multiple times over a career spanning five decades, albeit sometimes reluctantly. Her loneliness, her feelings of inadequacy, her fear of irrelevancy. Her conflicting desires between being independent and beholden to no man and her yearning for companionship and security. Her relationships with some of the most influential and creative people of the times, from business tycoons and socialites to artists, writers, and composers to royalty--and even Winston Churchill.
Mademoiselle Chanel's was a life lived through the decadence of the Gilded Age, the Great Depression, the ravages of two world wars, and the good times in between. Hers was a love affair with Paris, with achievement, and with a succession of men who would all leave lasting imprints. Yet hers was a life filled with tragedy and disappointment as well.
Gortner has created a loving tribute to an unconventional woman, and I'm not ashamed to admit I cried at the end! It's a beautifully written story, a dizzying whirlwind of hopes and dreams realized and unraveled, of celebrities and parties and love affairs, of inspiration, dedication, and a rabid work ethic, interspersed with rare quiet moments of respite and reflection, and all playing out against the great backdrop of history--I couldn't put it down and yet I didn't want it to end. It's one hell of a story about one hell of a woman, and one of the best books of the year. Highly recommended!...more
Arden, I remember a summer day when we were young and you were lying on your back in the grass, and all I can think ofGiveaway @ Let Them Read Books!
Arden, I remember a summer day when we were young and you were lying on your back in the grass, and all I can think of now is that nothing in the meadow told you that in five years you'd be dead. No clues at all. Not from the daisies or the clover or the birds or the wind. Not from the clouds or the dog whose ears you scratched. Not from God.
There were Yankee boys, then, in the North. Lying in meadows. Scratching dogs' ears. Time would pass and one day they would put on their shoes and come find you.
Now I've come to find them.
Sisters of Shiloh is the story of Libby Beale, a young woman maddened by grief who disguises herself as a man so she can funnel her anger into vengeance by joining the Confederate army and killing one Yankee for every year of her husband's too-short life. But she's not going alone. Her older sister, Josephine, is going too, to ensure that Libby comes back home, for Josephine can't imagine a life where she is not the plain and dutiful sister to the beautiful and willful Libby.
The sisters run away and enlist shortly after the Battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day in our nation's history. While Libby fits right in, relishing her new role as a soldier and a killing machine, Josephine feels increasingly isolated. That feeling deepens even more when she realizes her sister has done far more than simply impersonate a man; she has channeled herself into her dead husband, to the point where Josephine can't tell where Arden ends and Libby begins. Libby's descent into madness couples with the horrors of war and Josephine's own guilt over Arden's death to form a morass of conflicting, soul-crushing feelings that Josephine must wade through to maintain her own sanity. Throw in her growing love for a fellow soldier, a love she can never act upon without revealing her identity and getting the sisters kicked out of the army--an unforgivable sin in Libby's eyes--and Josephine's internal struggles become almost as large as that of the war itself.
For a long time, I thought this was going to end up a 3-star read for me for several reasons. First, I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the writing style. Lots of POV switches and short scenes lent a disjointed feeling to the novel, but that is balanced out by gritty and eye-opening descriptions of camp life and stunningly profound passages about war and its effects. Second, the subject matter is already so dark that at times I felt like Libby's madness on top of that was overkill, and I started to get rather annoyed with her, but toward the end, the authors did a great job of making me understand how closely she had been connected to her husband (and that it wasn't a good thing) and that her temporary spiral into darkness was almost necessary for her to be able to come out on the other side of it and move past her grief. And finally, it took me awhile to form a connection with the sisters, but as the story drew closer to the end, everything sort of gelled together for me, and I was on the edge of my seat to see how everything would play out.
I was moved the most by Josephine's struggle to hold on to her femininity, which she had already thought was somewhat lacking, in the midst of so many men and so many horrible situations. I enjoyed watching her confidence emerge, watching her finally become her own person instead of thinking of herself only as a sister or a daughter. And I was grateful for her budding romance with a fellow soldier. In a novel full of blood and guts and death and despair, that shining bright spot was very much appreciated, and I held on to that hopefulness right up to the very last page and the novel's poignant and satisfying conclusion.
I don't think this novel will be for everyone due to its darkness, but for its focus on the sisters' internal struggles and the life of a war-time soldier, it's a must-read for lovers of women's fiction and Civil War history....more
3.5 Stars. I was drawn to this book because I loved the idea of Helen of Sparta, not Helen of Troy. What a brilliant idea to tell the story of who Hel3.5 Stars. I was drawn to this book because I loved the idea of Helen of Sparta, not Helen of Troy. What a brilliant idea to tell the story of who Helen was before Paris entered the picture.
Helen of Sparta is very well written, offering a fascinating glimpse into Spartan society, though I did find the pacing to be slow at times. I hadn't been expecting to get so much of Theseus, and I was pleasantly surprised at his relationship with Helen and the strength of his character throughout the story. He's a dreamboat. There's a good cast of supporting characters too, including Helen's brothers, Pollux and Castor, Pirithous, King of the Lapiths and Theseus's best friend, and there's even an encounter with a young and then-unknown Paris. Even Menelaus comes off as sympathetic in the beginning before his desire for Helen and the power he believes is his due twists him into an unrecognizable version of Helen's childhood friend.
I hoped this book would give me a new view of Helen, of a Helen that was not just a prize or a pawn or nothing but a pretty face. And it does, though I can't say that I was totally enamored of her. She has a bit of a tough go of it. Her mother, Leda, despises her as the daughter of rape at the hands of Zeus, and Zeus has never made his presence known in Helen's life, something she is pretty bitter about. Suffice it to say she has some major daddy issues! Sometimes she was truly strong, brave, and smart, but other times she was incredibly stupid. Or perhaps obstinate to the point of idiocy would be a better way to put it. I get being pissed off at the gods, but after they've already proven how miserable they can make your life as well as what they can do to your loved ones, to be willfully rude and disrespectful is just not a smart thing to do, and Helen ends up bringing a lot of heartache on herself.
An exciting sequence of events leads up to the conclusion, but then it ends just as the beginning of the story we all know kicks into gear. I was surprised at the abrupt ending just as Helen's life was about to be forever changed, and I anxiously scoured the internet looking for news of a sequel, but I couldn't find any. I'm familiar with the basic story of Helen's departure with Paris and the war that follows, but I was hoping to get it from Helen's point of view in Amalia Carosella's capable hands. Plus I don't know what happens to Helen after Troy falls, and I was really hoping to find out. So if there is not a sequel and that ending stands as is, then I am not completely satisfied, and I'm going to bump my rating down a notch. But I'm crossing my fingers for that sequel!...more
I've been loving the trend these days of re-imagined fairy tales, and so I was drawn to Ten Fingers Touching. But rather than a re-imagining, this isI've been loving the trend these days of re-imagined fairy tales, and so I was drawn to Ten Fingers Touching. But rather than a re-imagining, this is a classic-style, original tale of the battle between Good versus Evil and the mortals that are drawn into the conflict.
The story is simple and told in the manner of a fairy tale, which doesn't allow for much by way of character development, but there were a couple of surprises at the end. The story was darker than I expected, and it was racier too, which it didn't necessarily need to be. The flowery descriptions of love-making were a little over-the-top, and that turned out to be the only real weak spot for me in an otherwise solidly written piece.
What made this book for me were the gorgeous illustrations. The book is very well produced with bright, glossy pages and vibrant art that captures the eye and the imagination. The author calls this book a labor of love, and that is evident in the finished product. The presentation alone makes it worthy of adding to any fairy tale lover's collection....more
3.5 Stars. This is a hard book for me to rate because there were things about it that I loved, and things that I didn’t. I loved the idea of a hero wh3.5 Stars. This is a hard book for me to rate because there were things about it that I loved, and things that I didn’t. I loved the idea of a hero who seems like a villain at first, but once you get to know him and peel the layers away, you realize that all of his questionable actions actually had good intentions behind them, and that the exaggeration of his reputation has been perpetuated by his enemies and cultivated by the hero himself as a front for the lonely and chivalrous man he really is.
The story starts out with plenty of excitement: a shootout at the train depot just as Lucy Forbes arrives in Parsons, Kansas. The man who saves the day turns out to be none other than Henry Stevens, manager of the Katy Railroad, the man the railway board has sent her father to investigate for wrong-doing. Henry’s reputation precedes him, and Lucy is dismayed to find that the strong and handsome Henry is nothing like the villain she was prepared to hate on sight. And to Henry, Lucy is a breath of fresh air in a town where beautiful, unmarried ladies of station are in short supply. He quickly vows to make Lucy his, but he first has to overcome her objections and those of her father. He also has to figure out who is trying to kill him and stop them before they accomplish the task. What follows is an exciting tale of danger, mystery, tragedy, and love. The town of Parsons is brimming with historical ambiance and filled with well-drawn secondary characters. And the tension between Henry and Lucy sizzles.
The best part of this book turned out to be the very reason I was drawn to it in the first place. I absolutely loved the railroad setting. The railroad is central to the story, and because Henry is a hands-on manager who worked his way through the ranks, we get to see him handling all aspects of the business. From laying track to repairs to planning routes and depots and towns, to negotiating land deals and navigating the press and politicians – it’s a fascinating environment for a romance, and it makes Henry one very capable and commanding hero.
Unfortunately, I was not as enamored of his heroine. For someone who is supposed to be so smart, Lucy sure does some stupid things. While I certainly appreciated her desire to be independent and adventuresome, her stubbornness really grated on me, as did her inability to communicate her feelings to Henry, which led to big misunderstandings and unnecessary heartache that could have been avoided. But there are a few instances in which she redeems herself, most notably in a thrilling train chase.
And finally, I was not a fan of the epilogue. While I would have loved to have spent some time with Henry and Lucy in their new life together, this was a snapshot of them from the point of view of a relative, and it did nothing for me. I thought it a very odd note on which to end the book, and I would rather have not had it at all.
But all in all, A Dangerous Passion is very well written, and it stands out from the crowd with its unique and vividly depicted setting. And Henry is quite swoon-worthy! If you’re looking for something different in historical romance, this Western railroad adventure could be just the ticket....more
3.5 Stars. Cynthia Hand is a terrific writer, and her Unearthly series is one of my favorites. I knew The Last Time We Say Goodbye would be vastly dif3.5 Stars. Cynthia Hand is a terrific writer, and her Unearthly series is one of my favorites. I knew The Last Time We Say Goodbye would be vastly different, but I also knew her storytelling skills could carry anything. This is everything you'd expect a novel about suicide and grief to be--sad, analytical, angry, and ultimately, hopeful--but I didn't connect with this book as deeply as I'd hoped I would. I had a hard time connecting with Lex, and suicide is a depressing subject to read about. I'm really torn between three and four stars. It pains me to give it a lower rating because it is so well written, and it was a very personal book for the author to write, stemming from her own experience with the suicide of a loved one. So I'll split the difference. Three stars for my inability to form as much of an emotional attachment as I'd like/four stars for the presentation....more
Dominick Blackmer has just finished a punitive undercover body guard assignment for the Crown, finally earning his way back into the intelligence agenDominick Blackmer has just finished a punitive undercover body guard assignment for the Crown, finally earning his way back into the intelligence agency's good graces years after a disastrous mission that resulted in the death of his first wife. He has only to make it through Lady Clarissa Bevington's coming-out ball, and then he's off to throw himself back into the world of international intrigue. But fate has a different plan.
Clarissa has been dreaming of her society debut for months, planning the perfect setting to announce her betrothal to her secret beau. But a devastating betrayal leads to a public scene and a terrible misunderstanding when a concerned Dominick is found comforting her. Though he wants nothing more than to reclaim his former life, his noble heart and allegiance to Clarissa's grandfather won't allow him to abandon her to her folly. A hasty marriage takes place, and Dominick is forced to take his bride to the last place he ever wanted to go . . . home. Thrown together in close quarters as they make the long journey to his family estate, the newlyweds get to know each other and make a surprising discovery: a smoldering desire between them and the possibility of a true partnership. But troubles await them at their destination, and just when Dominick believes he will be able to finally put his anguished past behind him and embrace the future he never thought he'd have, the past catches up to him with a vengeance, and it has its sights set on his beautiful new bride.
This is the third book in a series, but aside from a few pages at the beginning that had my head spinning while I was introduced to all of the players from the previous books, this one stands alone just fine. I was instantly drawn to Dominick's wounded heart and his honor and nobility. He's a little bitter and rough around the edges to start, but he is heroic to a fault. Clarissa is younger and naive, and at first I was put off by her fairly instant attraction to Dominick since she was still reeling from having been betrayed by a man she thought she was in love with. It made her seem a bit flighty and shallow, but to her credit, she acknowledges this. Her circumstances require her to do some growing up pretty quickly, and she turns out to be a compassionate and spirited counterpart to Dominick's brooding stoicism. I really enjoyed watching them bring out the best in each other while discovering the joy of having found true love.
In terms of the historical in this historical romance, it's on the lighter side. There are some vague references to the war with the French, but nothing specific, and I would have liked a little more given Dominick's employment as a spy for more than a decade. However, the time period is lushly rendered with hundreds of little details that combine effortlessly to provide an immersive experience. And Dominick's former work does eventually come into play as his darkest secrets are revealed, setting the scene for the exciting and dangerous climax.
Overall, I thought this was a very well-written romance with a little bit of everything I like in a book: compelling characters, angst and excitement, and true love--and in the perfect combination of sweet, sassy, and sexy. I look forward to reading more from Lily Dalton....more
4.5 Stars. I love this series! And if you're a fan of smart, exciting, sexy historical romance with complex characters and a paranormal twist, you wil4.5 Stars. I love this series! And if you're a fan of smart, exciting, sexy historical romance with complex characters and a paranormal twist, you will too! Books one and two are fantastic, and there's a novella in between that's also great, books three and four are good--though the romance and excitement don't quite live up to the bar set by the first two, in my opinion--but this book, book number five, Of Silk and Steam, brings the series right back up to top-notch reading pleasure.
Bec McMaster has created a fantastic story world set in an alternate version of Victorian England where steam and clockwork are advancing technology and aristocratic blue bloods (pre-vampires) lord over the lower classes of humans and verwulfen, and the Echelon, the council of dukes, led by the wicked Prince Consort, rules over them all. But humans are tired of being used and abused by the blue bloods, and as unrest grows not only among the lower classes but among the upper class as well, the discontented are organizing. The humanist movement has formed and has been strategically taking shots at the Echelon wherever they can, and the moment they've been preparing for is finally upon them thanks to an unlikely pair of catalysts.
We first met Leo Barrons in book one, Kiss of Steel, where we learned that he's the illegitimate son of one of the most powerful dukes in the realm and half-brother to the three Todd siblings. Leo has long struggled to find his place, forced to be a part of the Echelon, yet increasingly sympathetic to the humanist movement, and increasingly attracted to Lady Aramina Duvall, one of only two female blue bloods known to exist, and the only one with a vote on the council. That literally makes her the most dangerous woman in England. When Leo's deepest secret is exposed and a price is put on his head, he has nowhere to turn but to his siblings, who are up to their ears in treasonous plots. With nothing left to lose, he places his trust in the very woman who may have betrayed him, and who could end up being his final downfall . . . or his salvation. But Mina has secrets of her own, and when they come to light, the world as they know it will never be the same.
I love this romance because the hero and heroine are just made for each other, but their journey to figuring that out is full of angst and emotion, and that makes the payoff so much sweeter. Mina is a fiercely independent woman who has had to fight for her position, her power, and her very life at every turn. She's been able to rely on no one but herself, and her greatest fear is that falling for a man will be her ruin. And Leo is a lonely hero longing to belong to someone, to find the happiness and security his sisters have found, to have someone he can trust by his side as he forges a new identity for himself. When these two get together, the sparks are off the charts. But as they are forced to choose sides, the danger they are facing is very real, and they will have to determine what they are willing to sacrifice for freedom, for family, and for love.
One of the things that I felt lacking in books three and four is that the other characters from previous books didn't have enough of a presence, and since they're all awesome and all working together toward a common goal, they should have. Finally, at the end of book four, the gang got together again, and they are all here in this book in significant roles, and it made my heart happy. The only thing I didn't like about this book, and the reason for the bump down from five stars, is that the ending really confused me. After some emotional twists and one heck of a showdown and romantic resolution, there was a revelation and a cryptic conversation that I couldn't quite wrap my head around. So that was kind of frustrating and left me feeling like I didn't have the closure I needed. Originally, this was supposed to be the last book in the series, but the ending implies that there could be more to come, and I know there is at least one more couple that needs to have their own book, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Each book in this series can be read as a stand-alone since they each focus on a different couple, but the beautiful thing about this series is that, in addition to the romances, there is a broader plot arc that develops over the course of the books as the humanist movement prepares to take down the Prince Consort and the Echelon. In each book, new twists and turns arise, enemies and allies are revealed, and pieces are dropped into place, propelling the characters toward a revolution and a series climax. So to fully appreciate this magnificent and complex story world Bec McMaster has created, you should start at the beginning with Kiss of Steel. Seriously. Like, right now. You won't be disappointed!...more
This story had sooo much potential. From the description and the setup, I was really expecting more than the average new adult romance, and it feels lThis story had sooo much potential. From the description and the setup, I was really expecting more than the average new adult romance, and it feels like the author was trying to go for more, but it was marred (for me) by a rushed plot that wasn't believable, tired man-whore cliches, an immature heroine, and piles of backstory references popping up at awkward moments. As much as I wanted to like this, I'm DNFing it at the 35% mark....more
Dreamfire starts off strong and keeps that intensity and momentum going throughout the book. It's a bit of a wild ride between dreams and reality andDreamfire starts off strong and keeps that intensity and momentum going throughout the book. It's a bit of a wild ride between dreams and reality and the secret world where they collide. The heroine of the story is Josh, a seventeen-year-old girl, a dream walker tasked with maintaining the delicate balance between the dream world and the real world, battling monsters and madness in dreams to prevent them from escaping into reality. She is celebrated among her kind as the most talented dream walker of her generation, but her success has not come without cost. Hiding behind a tough exterior and a workaholic mentality, she's still reeling from the death of her boyfriend, a fellow dream walker, a death she feels responsible for. When she is assigned a handsome young man from the real world as an apprentice to train, she is terrified of getting him killed too, and even more terrified of letting him into her heart. But a new menace is lurking in dreams and causing consequences in the real world, and Josh and her friends need all the help they can get to save the unsuspecting populace from the stuff nightmares are made of. And that's all the plot recap you'll get from me! This story has a lot of twists and turns, and I don't want to spoil the fun of trying to figure it out for anyone.
This book was strange for me in that the premise alternated between being almost too hokey for belief and totally mind-blowing, but overall I liked it and thought it one of the most imaginative premises among the YA titles I've read this year. It's a very complicated secret world that co-exists with contemporary reality. There's no magic, just the kind of crazy things that can happen in dreams, so the characters only have their brains and brawn to fight with. And there are some really great characters in this book, whose personalities and histories are slowly teased out against the backdrop of the twisted mystery involving what really happened the night Josh's boyfriend died. Some readers may find the story world a bit of a stretch for the suspension of disbelief, but the characters are so vivid and evocative that you can't help but root for them and keep reading to see how it all plays out.
I can't tell if this is a stand-alone or not. It had a nice resolution, though there were a couple of loose threads, but then the epilogue certainly seemed to portend another installment. I can't find any mention of a sequel anywhere, but it's YA, so more than likely it will be a trilogy. But if it's not, readers may be little put off by those loose threads. But overall, I really liked Dreamfire, mainly because the characters are so complex, and their emotions and struggles fairly leap off the pages. The story is original, the writing is solid, and the plot is twisty and juicy and fast-paced. If you're looking for something a bit different in YA, and if you love a good strong, smart, capable YA heroine, Dreamfire should be on your radar. ...more