3.5 Audiobook Review - Originally Posted on Parajunkee.com
PJV Quickie: BELLMAN AND BLACK was one of those titles that I'm glad I did in audiobook vers...more3.5 Audiobook Review - Originally Posted on Parajunkee.com
PJV Quickie: BELLMAN AND BLACK was one of those titles that I'm glad I did in audiobook version, not because the narrator blew me away, but more because I probably would not have been able to stick it out in printed form. While the book was atmospheric and the setting was interestingly portrayed, the author went into minute detail about a lot of intricacies of Victorian life. Interesting at times, but it could make for a read that drags for most.
Review: As a highly anticipated title, BELLMAN AND BLACK: A GHOST STORY wasn't as well-received by myself as I would have hoped. I enjoyed the writing and the story, I thought William Bellman was a great tragic character, but I was hoping for a little more progression in the novel, which I never received. The book is also titled "A Ghost Story" and maybe I'm daft, but where was the ghost?
The story follows the life of William Bellman from childhood to old age. William Bellman starts out as a life-loving, highly intelligent boy, with a knack for business which he discovers when he begins assisting his Uncle in the family mill. The underlining story though, begins when William is 11 and kills a Rook with a catapult. A meaningless death, just to show that he can kill a bird with his great catapult. Even though William did not expect to hit the black bird, it tumbles from the tree dead. Throughout the entire story, the author preludes each chapter with description of rooks, painting them as intelligent almost mystical animals, with long memories. That death of the rook "haunts" William until his last days.
In the beginning of his life, William is extremely well-set in his life, beautiful wife, lots of children, turning profits at his mill like no other. But then people around him begin dying, one by one. At each funeral there is a man, who he later discovers is named Black. When the deaths get closer and closer to him, his wife, his children...William is ready for his own death, but is met at his wife's grave by Black, with a proposition.
This ushers in the next part of the book, where we are faced with a driven, depressed main character who is set to focus all of his resources and intentions into the creation of a mourning good stores, called Bellman & Black.
I'm assuming the ghost in the story was Black, was he the rook that he killed, or I believed he might be death himself, or even could the ghost be Bellman himself? Was he haunted by all the deaths that he experienced? The novel was a bit disjointed at times. Bellman at moments was a strong driven business man, at other times he was a messy pile of mental illness. The author would introduce characters with hopeful up-turns of plots, but then nothing would come from them. I believe the main intent of the novel was to describe business of Victorian era, from the intricacies of the mill in the first part of the novel, to the vast insanity of all the mourning goods that were sold within the "big-box" type environment of Bellman & Black.
There is no doubt about it though, Diane Setterfield is a very talented story-teller. Her sentences flow like water as she paints each setting within her novel. This is one of those fiction novels that you learn as you are entertained. I was impressed by the depth of research she must have done to deliver this novel, even though I wished she would have crafted her plot a little better. Most readers enjoy character formation and a final culmination with all loose-ends revealed and this didn't happen in BELLMAN AND BLACK. Not to mention the abstract ghost story, that might lead to readers being confused or have a feeling of being misled. You read Ghost Story and you believe, well that there is a haunting.
Other then that, the narration by Jack Davenport was delicious, he had a wonderful accent and he aided in the dark, atmosphere of the novel. I'm again, glad I got this one on audiobook, not just for the narration, but also because I think it carried the story better.
Recommendations: If you have read Diane Setterfield's THE THIRTEENTH TALE, this novel is not quite like it. It share's Setterfields writing quality, but that is the only similarities. It is very different. BELLMAN AND BLACK felt like it was trying to be books like THE WHITE QUEEN and THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, so I should probably compare it to those novels. Even though, it was in the merchant class setting so it didn't have that royal, political flavor, which a lot of the Historical, Magical Realism type novels tend to be set within. This is an adult novel, but there is nothing that is inappropriate for younger readers that want to expand their repertoire outside of Young Adult novels.(less)
Freebie Spotlight: Aurora Sky by Nikki Jefford Deal or Duped: Deal
I will post the full review this Friday, but I think the book will not be Free by th...moreFreebie Spotlight: Aurora Sky by Nikki Jefford Deal or Duped: Deal
I will post the full review this Friday, but I think the book will not be Free by the time the review goes live. Because this book is a mediocre novel, entertaining because of the characters, but failing within the plot and writing skills - it is a great Freebie grab, but I probably would have been much harsher in my views toward it if I would have paid full price. I really did like the character of Aurora and saw the great potential within the novel. So, much so that I will move on in the series, hoping that the author increased her skills. Pick it up now, for free, especially if you are a fan of Young Adult Vampire novels with a bit of Romance in the mix.
My quick assessment: Cat & Bones in Young Adult attire.(less)
**spoiler alert** PJV Quickie: If you have not read the first Penryn & the End of Days novel, Angelfall - do so now! You will not be disappointed....more**spoiler alert** PJV Quickie: If you have not read the first Penryn & the End of Days novel, Angelfall - do so now! You will not be disappointed. World After by Susan Ee was probably the most anticipated novel of this year for me. I had read Angelfall, the first novel in the series and fell in love with Susan Ee's horrific storytelling talents…and then I had to wait…and wait…and wait. Was it worth the wait? Yes, it was, but now I have to wait again!
Review: World After begins right where Angelfall left off. Penryn is in a frozen state, thought to be dead by all around her as she is transported to the resistance camp with her mother and her mutilated little sister. Her angel has just flown off, believing she is dead, with his new demon wings attached to his body. It was quite an ending and an opener!
After the new landscape of Penryn's life unfolds within World After... it is not long until another Penryn adventure begins, again spurned by her sister, who is not accepted by the refugees and eventually chased off into the desolate landscape. Penryn is forced to chase after her as she leads her from one angel stronghold to the next, Penryn is desperate to find her little sister, only seven years old, but now viewed by all as a monster. Unfortunately Penryn isn't able to avoid the angels as she tries to locate her Paige. Captured, she is forced to witness the atrocities performed by the angels as one power hungry angel tries to gain more power by manipulation and lies. She has to stand by, treated like nothing but meat as she is either injured or primped, treated like a display piece or a lab rat, as events unfold that could mean the final annihilation of the human race.
If you think Angelfall was horrific, you haven't seen anything yet! I was literally shivering as I read some of the descriptions of the fights and experiments the angels were engaging in. Susan Ee didn't pull any punches as she gruesomely described that scorpions and more devastatingly, Paige, the bizarre acts Penryn's mother engaged in and the behavior of the angels and the survivors. Can you say freaky?
The novel was also very very clean, I haven't read an ARC in a long time that was quite so on-point and tight, Ms. Ee has a very well-put together writing style that I enjoy submerging myself into. So combine the great writing with a thrill-ride of macabre details and I was hooked from start to finish.
I do have to say that in the beginning I was a little bored with the novel. (I know right?! I was disappointed in myself) Penryn was very introspective and with her back in the resistance camp and distrusted, it didn't make for fast-paced reading…but once it got rolling, there was no stopping the pace. Penryn was forced to deal with one crisis after another and it was all on her own. This was good and bad in my estimation, because Raffe wasn't by her side, like in the first novel. In fact, Raffe didn't show up until about two thirds into the novel.
Yup, you heard me. My kindle read 70% complete when Raffe decided to make his reappearance. I was about to have a panic-attack by this point.
But, of course when he did come back into the mix, it was an utter delight. There was that great banter back and forth that I had missed terribly. The storyline culminated into the final showdown -- and then the novel ended!!!
***This is me freaking out***
The novel ended! Just as it was getting good!!!! I know. Much like she did to us in Angelfall, I was left with some questions answered and a feeling of some peace because of a big resolved issue - but in no way satisfied. I both love cliffhangers and hate them. I don't know if I can make it to "sometime in 2014" with my mental faculties in check. Please, hurry Ms. Ee -- I will be somewhat patiently awaiting the next novel...at least a name?? Anything??
Recommendations: You have to read the first book. No question on this one. This is a young adult title, but has very mature horror themes, so recommended for 14+. The recommendation is because of violence, description of violence, only. Fans of Kendare Blake and Carrie Ryan should really enjoy Susan Ee.(less)
PJV Quickie: CRASH INTO YOU was probably my most anticipated young adult novel of the final part of this year. I really got into McGarry’s earlier two...morePJV Quickie: CRASH INTO YOU was probably my most anticipated young adult novel of the final part of this year. I really got into McGarry’s earlier two novels and could not wait for Isaiah’s story. Plus, the chick’s name was Rachel. How much more could I ask for? Unfortunately CRASH INTO YOU was nothing compared to Beth and Noah’s stories and this makes me all sad-face.
Review: Isaiah is now living with Noah in their own apartment, but even though their dreams have been realized, it’s nothing like what he planned. Even though their apartment is a dive, the two boys can not pay the rent and maintain their school and bills. Isaiah decides to make some extra cash by street racing. One time only.
Unfortunately that one time will resonate with him for a long time. A hot new Mustang pulls up and out of it comes a fresh-faced female that obviously doesn’t belong. She wants to race and Isaiah only wants to protect her from this world. Eric, the street thug that runs the criminal underground of Isaiah’s world only sees a mark, so Isaiah steps in and takes charge. His association puts them both in danger as the cops show up and the two guys that Rachel came with use the opportunity to rob Eric. Eric, instead of blaming the two guys, blame Rachel and use it as a bargaining chip to get Isaiah to potentially work for him. If they don’t raise enough money to pay Eric off “something bad will happen” to Rachel.
Rachel and Isaiah decide to work together to pay off Eric, by legally racing Rachel’s car. In the middle of it all, they both need to work out their own issues, Isaiah’s inability to trust and Rachel’s inability to stand-up to her family. By the time they get through all of the problems, maybe they can find love. The story-line, while similar to the other titles, was really a bit more hoaky then the other two. Featuring the stereotypical “bad-guy” that just threatens – while the good guys scramble to obey because of shaky reasoning. Can’t call the cops because Rachel’s parents can’t know, or they’ll find out Isaiah isn’t living with his foster parents, etc. Silly reasons when you think that this thug might actually hurt Rachel or Isaiah or potentially kill them.
Isaiah has always been the enigma of the group, painted as a drug user, tatted up and a bit stand-off-ish, I figured his story would be a bit more dark. I was expecting a lot, which is probably the reason for my lukewarm reception of this novel. For one, I believe that Katie McGarry took certain short-cuts when it came to this book, like the aforementioned stereotypical antagonist. But, a more focal problem within the plot was the fact that she blew off Isaiah’s drug-use as “play.” He was painted in his own novel as someone that needed control, so the tattoos and the drug use were all “for show”. He mentions in CRASH INTO YOU that he did drugs to keep up appearances, but never enough to get high.
Yet, who was he keeping up appearances for? A guy like this, one that is too scared to “stand-up” against peer pressure will just smoke it up when there is a party…not when it is just Noah, Beth and Isaiah, right? Because these are his BFFs – no need for fooling with them? But he was constantly lighting up a joint in the first book. Noah is a person that Isaiah thinks of as a brother, yet he had to keep up his image even for Noah, when they were alone? This scenario didn’t sit well with me. McGarry could have worked through Isaiah’s drug use, instead of just eradicating it without a backwards glance.
The reasoning behind this was most likely, because the female character Rachel, wouldn’t have been able to mesh well with a drug-user. Rachel, whom I wanted to like but just couldn’t, would have skittered like a scared rabbit if you added drug-use to Isaiah’s problems. She constantly whined about her brothers, mother, father, Isaiah protecting her – but then she was a type of character that needed protecting. She didn’t’ show much backbone within the book. She would run-away, or she would vomit, hide, cower as soon as she was faced with something major. She let everyone make decisions for her. I just didn’t feel an attraction between her and Isaiah. I blame Rachel as the main reason for my middle of the road liking of the book.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some great things with the novel. Again McGarry paints a great story behind the romance, she has a way of depicting scenes that resonate. Her tales are realistic and romantic with a happily-ever-after that you never expect. I enjoy McGarry’s writing, even though I think she needs to back off on the receptive descriptions, especially when describing her characters. Isaiah was always described as tattooed, Rachel always as a blond angel.
My favorite part of the book was being in Isaiah’s head. His point-of-view was fresh and a bit screwy and just great to read.
Overall, the book was lackluster in my opinion, probably because I hyped it up so high, Noah and Beth’s stories were fantastic and I expected the same from Isaiah. While the delivery was still on par with McGarry’s style and gritty determination, I feel the plot could have been flushed out better, with more maturity and the character of Rachel could have been given more life. I wasn’t that won over with her brother, West, which will be the next book – but I do plan on reading on in the series. Nothing like a bit of screwed up love stories to get a girl swooning.
Recommendations: This book/series is recommended for fans of contemporary romance young adult novels. The books focus on “across the tracks” relationships and intense emotional and psychological problems, so if you like that sort of thing. There are sexual interactions, talk of drug use, threats of violence…may be unsuitable for a younger teen audience.(less)