The best thing about BEARLY IN CONTROL is the title. It sets up expectations that there will be puns, bearReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
The best thing about BEARLY IN CONTROL is the title. It sets up expectations that there will be puns, bears, and people getting a little bit wild (oh my). Did I mention puns? They’re recycled over and over until a one sentence pun becomes an unbearable two pages of butt jokes. There’s bears, though the bear in question only shifts twice, including when he is found at the beginning of the novel. People getting wild? Well, I suppose if you consider the unprofessionalism of all of the characters then that counts too.
If you’re shot at, would you tell the police force that you work with? If you find a naked, amnesiac man, would you push for a missing persons search? If you find bags of money and jewels, would you think they’re related to the robberies you were debriefed on? Charli Avers, veterinarian and animal mind-reader, wouldn’t. In fact, none of the characters in BEARLY IN CONTROL ever consider the obvious, even when the solution is staring them right in the face.
There is plot to the novel but it’s quickly passed aside to make way for the sex scenes between Charli and Barry, the bear-shifter without a past. The sex scenes are detailed, explicit, and, unfortunately, dominate most of the novel. If the characters aren’t having sex, they’re thinking about it. The overarching plotline—likely to carry over the rest of the series—hints at a evil-doer creating shifters through experimentation and torture. An interesting concept disregarded almost entirely in the rest of the book. There’s even a one-line reveal that aliens are real—that no one remarks on. Aliens! The investigation storyline is followed through by the side-characters, Devin and Russel, who are obvious setups for the next books.
BEARLY IN CONTROL is the first of the Shifter Undercover series but the world seems tied to Milly Taiden’s other book lines. Characters drop information, like two souls, shifter population areas, and investigation teams without full explanations. This problem persists throughout the novel, where information and characterization is inconsistent or dismissed immediately. I think there’s a golden writing rule: if you start a book with an amnesiac main character, by the end you should have either uncovered their identity or at least discovered an important clue.
Milly Taiden is a prolific writer and if you’re familiar with her other series, you’ll likely forgive the book’s flaws. Bears might be the new wolves in shifter novels, but if you’ve got a hankering for a new grizzly/teddy bear paranormal romance you might want to look elsewhere.
POISONED APPLES opens by warning its readers, "You can lose your way anywhere," and for anyone underestimaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
POISONED APPLES opens by warning its readers, "You can lose your way anywhere," and for anyone underestimating this slim volume of YA fairy tale poetry, consider yourself fairly warned. It's a solid little book, some offerings packing more of an emotional punch than others, some fitting the fairy tale theme better than others. But taken as a whole, it delivers raw and sometimes brutal commentary on what it means to be a teenage girl today.
As a lifelong lover of fairy tales and a student of various types of mythology, I got the biggest enjoyment from the poems that reimagined specific fairy tales. I also found that those were, on the whole, more successful and better written than the ones that dealt more in vague magical or mythological imagery. Heppermann twists these well-known stories (some deftly, some more clumsily) to frame the adolescent girl's experience, by turns macabre, joyful, angry, wry, and sad. Several of the poems discuss eating disorders using the fairy tale obsession with eating, food, and hunger; female friendships and the pitfalls of teenage love are also common topics.
The feminist in me was delighted by Heppermann calling out the strictures of these roles girls are expected to fulfill. Why should we care who's the fairest? Why should we fight over Prince Charming? Why shouldn't we save ourselves for once? However, the photographic illustrations were more miss than hit when it came to complementing the content. For a book that talked so much about the pressure to conform to the standard of thin white prettiness, the photos were mostly pictures of thin white girls. The abstract / surreal ones were definitely the best, often fattening up-- so to speak-- the creepy atmosphere of the poems they accompanied.
Overall, POISONED APPLES is a good, quick, fun read with a bunch of unexpected serious notes that gave the book an extra punch. If you like YA and fairy tales, it's worth the read, even (or especially) if you don't think you like poetry.
If you haven’t read any spoilers for THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, it’s hard to know what to expect. The b Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
If you haven’t read any spoilers for THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, it’s hard to know what to expect. The bare-bones description doesn’t give much away, but though the story starts out a bit vague, told through the eyes of a ten year old girl, it soon becomes an engrossing, mind-blowing and genre defying experience that is nearly impossible to put down.
Besides being a good story, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS also manages to take a construct we’re all familiar with and change it up a bit – so if you like your post-apocalyptic walking dead types drooling and mindlessly hungry then this book probably isn’t for you. But for any of you who are excited when a genre or trope is focused through a new lens, then this book should definitely be on your “read immediately” list.
The story centers around Melanie, our ten year old heroine and is told very much through the wide eyes and open heart of a child. She becomes attached to Helen Justineau, her teacher and the two are thrust into a set of intense circumstances that have these two at odds with the rest of the characters in the story. The voice is authentic and the pacing of the book is absolutely perfect. Author M. R. Carey masterfully weaves a tale that takes us from confession, to redemption, to rebirth in an exquisite and intense journey that elevates and rehumanizes the classic zombie construct in a bittersweet and beautiful way.
Through it all the story remains engrossing, engagingly scientific and brings a degree of hope and humanity to a post human world. At the end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is a story of awakening and accepting a new reality and bears a kinship with classic stories like Planet Of The Apes, A.I., PINOCCHIO and LORD OF THE FLIES – all told through the wonder of a child who comes to discover that she is a beacon of hope for life on earth, just not in a way that any of us might expect. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is a mesmerizing and haunting must read this summer.
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy While I am relatively new to the genres focused on here at All Things Urban Fantasy, I am not new to Ann BReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy While I am relatively new to the genres focused on here at All Things Urban Fantasy, I am not new to Ann Brashares. As an avid Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fan, I was super excited to be able to read Brashares’ most recent book, THE HERE AND NOW.
First of all, I want to put it out there that I’m thrilled this book isn’t part of a trilogy. Seriously, authors, enough with that. It had many other promising qualities as well: time travel, romance, a leading lady taking control of her destiny…
The time travel plot line was interesting since Prenna is a time traveler from a very bleak future, and is experiencing the present day with fresh eyes. Along with “time native” Ethan, Prenna is given a mission by a mysterious time traveler to undo a tragedy that inadvertently leads to the troubles of the future she comes from. Prenna’s mission isn’t made clear to us until almost halfway through the book, with the first half moving slowly through depictions of a future that made time travel the only chance for people’s survival.
A few things didn’t quite work as well as I hoped. I didn’t care enough about Prenna and Ethan to buy their friendship turned to relationship. Prenna’s life, interests, and personality weren’t developed beyond the community of time travelers, and details about Ethan’s motivations were even harder to come by. Also, the frequent descriptions of greedy consumption of natural resources seem a bit like a preachy scare tactic at times, but I felt they were necessary to convey the dire situation Prenna is trying to repair. That being said, after a slow start, I read THE HERE AND NOW quickly, especially the second half when most of the action was taking place.
THE HERE AND NOW had an interesting and mostly engaging plot whose flaws I would have been much more likely to forgive if I hadn’t been critiquing it for this review. Overall, I enjoyed the book but it won’t be taking the place of FOREVER IN BLUE on my bookshelf.
Just when I thought I had a story line figured out Adrian throws us another curve ball. I knew that sGuest Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Just when I thought I had a story line figured out Adrian throws us another curve ball. I knew that since there are more books to come in this series that everything wasn’t going to be all happy hearts and teddy bears but, OMG I never saw what was coming in this book!
ETCHED IN BONE picks up pretty much right after BENEATH THE SKIN ends with Heather and Dante going to find Lucien in Gehenna. The story is so fast paced and told by so many different perspectives that sometimes it’s hard to keep up but, if you’ve read the other books you’ll remember character names and their places in the story line. Basically all hell breaks loose in this story and no one is safe including our two leads Dante and Heather. There were some parts of the book where I really wanted to throw it against the wall and just yell at these people “Leave poor Heather and Dante alone!”
What I love about these books and characters is the bond between Heather and Dante. It’s not one sided where she’s all googly eyed and needs him. He very much needs her too, and they balance each other completely. The other characters hold a significant place in my heart as well I especially love Von and Silver. Their comments always make me smile. And there’s so many bad guys in these books sometimes it’s hard to keep track of who’s truly bad; some of these people have flipped sides so many times you get whiplash.
Overall, Adrian has written another hit! I cannot wait for book five in the Maker’s Song series because this one left us with a total cliffhanger. So if you’re a fan of Adrian’s books or looking for a great new series to read I suggest picking up the Maker’s Song series and book 5 ON MIDNIGHT WINGS when it releases in December. Happy reading!
Sexual Content: A couple moderately graphic sex scenes...more