A good chunk of my love for this book is because of the way that it handles a trope that fandom loves and I hate: the soAUGH ENDING SO UNFAIR/AWESOME.
A good chunk of my love for this book is because of the way that it handles a trope that fandom loves and I hate: the soulbond. What if you had a mystical connection to another person? In this book the answer is mostly "wow. Awkward," and I love it.
However, if you have not found yourself cursing "damn you, soulbonds!" at the internet, I am less sure what you will get out of this book.
It's a great book! There's some super hilarious dialogue, great characters, the plotting is tight, the setting is vivid, etc. But so much of what I love about it is that constant return to "wow, awkward," so my love for it is a bit founded on one thing that other people may not share.
Okay, and I have probably made it sound like this book is about two people standing around going "so... this is awkward," which is a terrible description. Let me try to do better.
Sorry-in-the-vale, winner of the annual 'most creepily picturesque town-name in England' award, has always been keeping an eye on the Lyndburns for as long as Kami remembers, even though the Lyndburns have been absent her whole life. But now they are back, and Kami discovers that the voice in her head which she has been accustomed to thinking of as her imaginary friend, is a real person with an actual physical existence. (Wow. Awkward.) But Kami cannot properly freak out about this, because she is very busy freaking out about: someone is creepily killing animals in the woods; Kami is being flirted at by boys, which is new, and maybe awesome?; Kami plans to be a kickass journalist, and she has managed to start up a school newspaper; EVERYONE IS KEEPING SECRETS, THIS IS SERIOUSLY NOT COOL.
So, like, she is very busy, being awesome and kickass and terrified and dealing with her suddenly not imaginary imaginary friend. And then the stakes get higher.
One of the things I love about this book is that the book is clearly a Gothic novel; everything is creepy, the houses have names, secrets have secrets etc. But Kami is not at all the Gothic Heroine, she is the plucky girl detective and has no patience for all the awesome Gothic tropes she is swimming in. Someone will give her a creepy Gothic Pronouncement and she'll whip out her recorder and be all "Can you repeat that, for the record, and state your name?"
Kami's pretty great, and her cast of supporting characters is too. I kind of want to know more about Angela's romantic relationship, and what's up with Rusty? because seriously he is not doing good at having a secret, and also her dad who wandered into this Gothic Novel from a quirky sitcom I would watch more of....more
This book really suffered from being a second book. All the fun world-building has already happened, and now the characters more or less just dash aboThis book really suffered from being a second book. All the fun world-building has already happened, and now the characters more or less just dash about madly getting into place and having revelations so that the climactic showdown of the third book can happen.
(view spoiler)[I really enjoyed that Sean heard his dead sister's voice, but I kept thinking "Wow, more characters should hear voices, this is a great device!" which is, I am aware, more than a little odd of me.
Also a strange technical choice: half-way through, the reader finally gets the final word on whether Sean and George were actually incestuously involved or just weirdly co-dependent. (It's the former.) And I'm really not sure why it took so long for the author to let me know. It's not like it's a big reveal, it just slips out, and provides a couple more paragraphs of angst for Sean.
Also, the book doesn't do much end on a cliff-hanger as end ten feet or from the cliff, road-runner style. The editors must agree with me, because the, chapter of the sequel provides at the end at least a couple fingers in the cliffside. (hide spoiler)]...more
Crusie's acknowledgements at the beginning thanks the people who "beta read." Has this piece of fanish terminology become mainstream? Is Crusie a fan?Crusie's acknowledgements at the beginning thanks the people who "beta read." Has this piece of fanish terminology become mainstream? Is Crusie a fan?
The first page before before the main story starts (I presume this has a name? What is it called?) says "This book is set in 1992. Because" and I kept on getting distracted by trying to figure out what the "because" was. At first I assumed it was because Crusie had written it then, failed to quite complete/sell it, and when she pulled it out in 2009 realized the plot wouldn't work if it was modernized, because everyone now has cellphones.
Then, as I was reading it, I decided that couldn't be it, because there's not a lot of "out of contact" obstacles that couldn’t be replaced with "out of service," so perhaps it's just that the musical references would have had to be updated, or else her characters made twenty years older, which perhaps makes the book less mainstream?
What does it mean for a review when you spend half your time talking about the authors' notes? Anyway.
This book, with the exception of the supernatural elements, reminds me of earlier Crusie more than her later stuff (which also supports my 'written in 1992 thesis') but perhaps that is just because this was not written with Bob Myer, as her more recent books have been.
ACTUAL BOOK-RELEVANT PLOT DISCUSSION FOLLOWS.
The romantic pairing in this book are a couple who divorced ten years ago when they discovered that their sexual chemistry was great, but they were bad at communicating with each other. In a less talented writer's hands, this would have resulted in my spending the entire book shrieking "TALK TO EACH OTHER," but with Crusie writing, the working out of their relationship comes not because they finally blurt out the missing piece of information they have been bone-headedly concealing all this time, but because they have since grown up.
They get together because he needs someone to look after a pair of children he inherits, and he hires her not because her ovaries qualify her, but because she is an English teacher and they need a tutor. (Also because he luuuuurves her.) The children are delightful, which I mean not in the saccharine Shirley Temple kind of way, but rather they delight me by being dysfunctional in the way real children are, doing such things as having screaming fits when you try to feed them waffles.
If "supernatural romances" are not your thing, you may enjoy this one anyway, as the ghosts have strong individual personalities, like all Crusie characters, and it is their personalities that motivate them.
This book completely lacks a dog, and I didn't care while I was reading it, so that's certainly a strong endorsement from me.
Two things detracted from my enjoyment of this book: The character of Kelly, evil girlfriend, was so straight-up "ambitious woman is evil bitch" that she was like Miranda Priestly without any style or magnificence.
And at one point, a ghost possesses someone to initiate a sexual encounter, and when someone calls this rape, it is dismissed because the woman being possessed would have initiated the sexual encounter anyway.
I don't usually see much point in arguing which impossibly fictional phenomenon are or aren't rape; it seems a distraction from the actual fact of rape. But in this instance, it super-bothered me how easily the fact that it was at very least "rape-like" was swept aside....more
This is a fun book which I enjoyed while reading and which afterward presented all kinds of problems for me.
The good: The basic scenario is the goodThis is a fun book which I enjoyed while reading and which afterward presented all kinds of problems for me.
The good: The basic scenario is the good old 'the world ended, we kept on going' which is always a good time. Add to that, the narrative voice is strong, distinctive, and fairly likeable. Bonus: our heroine, George, runs a news site that includes paid RPF writers, because that's just how the future rolls, and these writers are basically my people.
The bad: This book really had so much potential that it didn't live up to. Either it was super-subtle, or it really failed to go anywhere with the zombies/consumerism angle. And the book is named "Feed!" And all about news, which, you know, 24 hour news channels, I really think there's an angle! But from the book's point of view, news is more of a sacred calling than a commodity, and the consumers of it are invisible, or at least visible only as site statistics.
I'm not saying zombies have to be a metaphor for consumerism, but if your story has a snake and an apple, people are going to have expectations, which you should either subvert or fulfill.
Secondly, there's all kinds of things about this future which were just not believable to me. (Not the zombies. Obviously. Everyone believes in zombies.)
(Lightreads, in her review, says she had troubles believing it because of the inaccurate portrayal of presidential primaries. This was not a problem for me, since I assume presidential primaries are conducted basically like a concert tour: everyone gets in a bus and then drives around America to stop and scream at the locals from a podium.)
But, thing one: if everyone is a carrier for zombism which activates on body-fluid contact with the active virus, or upon death, then I just don't see the future looking like this. In the book, the death penalty is much less popular, since turning murderer into a murderous biohazard isn't really a savings. But surely we can just decapitate our murderers and be fine?
(Although I guess you could argue that the zombism would make prison safer: no sense sticking a shiv in someone if you knew you might be starting a plague and you'd be locked in with the vector.)
In fact, and, you know, I'm not arguing that this is a moral course of action, but surely there would be buckets of euthanasia for the terminally ill, and elderly? I mean, if someone might, at any time, turn into a murderous biohazard, why not gas them, decapitate them, and burn the bodies on your own schedule?
A big part of the book is also the fact that any animal over 40 pounds can (and will, upon death!) become a zombie, and then go searching for protein sources to eat/infect. This is a political hot-button: should people be allowed to keep large animals for pets? Surely they are much too dangerous!
Except, I honestly don't believe that any species that has not evolved siege warfare tactics has much of a chance, vis-a-vis zombies. Surely the first caribou to die and zombify would quickly infect the whole herd, and even if this did not occur, every caribou that dies is going to give it their best shot. Rinse and repeat for every critter over forty pounds, which, by the way, is a lot of them.
I mean, I'm personally glad to see thoroughbred horses have made it, but I'm a little skeptical any species that is not both protected by humans and traditionally reared in isolated stalls would have much of a chance.
Finally, and leaving for a moment, the realm of theoretical zombie epidemiology, I cannot believe that the books' protagonists would be anything like this sane. Georgia and Sean Mason are adopted by their parents as a publicity stunt, and have known this most of their lives. Adopted kids have a rough enough time when they know their parents love them; I cannot believe these two would not be far more fucked up than they are. (Which is moderately; they have quasi-incestuous vibe that skirts the edge of plausible deniability.) But really, they're basically stable kids with a strong set of values, which, no. I've seen what happens to the children of celebrities when they're not adopted, and have no reason to doubt their parents love them.
That said, a good book, and I will be on the look-out for sequels! Which is probably not at all the impression my review gives....more
Happy to confirm that Thea Harrison is able to write distinct characters! Carling could not be less like the heroine of Dragon Bound and Rune is prettHappy to confirm that Thea Harrison is able to write distinct characters! Carling could not be less like the heroine of Dragon Bound and Rune is pretty unlike its hero.
(Although for a vampire queen and immortal elemental griffon who are thousands of years old, these characters had all the emotional maturity of middle-aged people. Which is okay, really, since I would probably find immortals somewhat unrelateable; just an observation.)
(view spoiler)[This book also does the time-travelling romance thing, where he goes back in time and meets her when she's younger, but manages, by and large, to avoid the overtones of creepy grooming that trope generally produces. In fact, the entire time travelling thing is done with rather more skill than I expect from a stupid-romance, and in such a way that the reader finds reality and continuity shifting as she reads, which is a rather clever trick. (hide spoiler)]
Also, there is a dog in this book who comes across as dog-like, which I am always in favour of. He comes across as a stupid, annoying dog, but still. Genuinely dog-like....more
Sometimes all you want is a stupid romance, and you know that. This book may meet that need.
I have a problem with stupid romances, because there are sSometimes all you want is a stupid romance, and you know that. This book may meet that need.
I have a problem with stupid romances, because there are some stupid-romance tropes that show up a lot and tend to kill my interest; the instant, 0 to 60 arousal in five seconds the hero can produce in the heroine on first sight is a nearly a deal breaker to me, for instance, but I'm aware there are tropes just as stupid that I happily accept as the cost of reading a stupid-romance.
So, yes, this book's heroine suffers from Glittery Hooha syndrome, and yes, she suffers from the dark secret of being basically too awesome, and yes, I skimmed the smut, it wasn't great, and the secret reveal at the end genuinely made me facepalm, but you know what? I made it to the end without throwing the book, and went looking for more by the author. It makes the stupid-romance bar....more
I would like to observe, first, that the male protag. does not do that much shirtless corsair-ing in the book; he is actually moderately fixated on hiI would like to observe, first, that the male protag. does not do that much shirtless corsair-ing in the book; he is actually moderately fixated on his waistcoat.
Second, I think it is worth noting that contrary to the impression given by the cover, the title is a reference to the female protag. This strikes me as slightly unusual in the genre, although I have no studies to back up this impression. (Also noteworthy: whenever a reference is made to her heart of steel, she usually mentions that he has balls of iron. For some reason, the publishers chose not to use this as the title. I can't imagine why.)
Anyway, the worldbuilding in this book is as big of a draw as the story. See also The Iron Duke. It's set in a Europe that has just beaten back/is still in the process of beating back Genghis Khan's steam-punk invasion, and where vaguely defined nano-technology allows fabulous prosthetics and creepy brain-washing.
(Also fabulous; you can read the entire thing as a vaguely AU Iron Man Noir story. But that presumably is a draw to a limited demographic.)
The central feature of the romance was her desire not only for independence, but for a man who wouldn't be threatened by it. I was pretty pleased....more
I'm going to be honest: I can't tell if this book is actually that good, or if I just got sucked so far into the Id vortex that I can't even see the eI'm going to be honest: I can't tell if this book is actually that good, or if I just got sucked so far into the Id vortex that I can't even see the event horizon. So please take this entire review with about a tablespoon of salt. I stayed up 'til four reading it, and didn't notice.
So, this is a story about a doctor and, he discovers over the course of the story, a sadist, who is forced by his state into becoming a torturer, and how he deals with that. (There is a certain amount of torture, none of which is remotely safe, sane, or consensual, nor pretends to be. Take ye warning.)
Alternately, it is the Mirrorverse "Dr. McCoy to the interrogation room." (I believe this is TNH's description, and for a certain segment, an entirely adequate elevator pitch.)
It's written decently, and the only time it strayed (for me) into "Oh god, I can see your Id!" was when the author came up with two separate justifications for the protagonist to platonically kiss his armsmen/slaves. But that could be the blinding effects of the Id vortex. I'm pretty sure The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife would be the best illustration for what this book was like for me....more
Boo. The dog in this book does not appear until the last chapter.
This is a decent early Crusie. It reads like a dry run for her later Dempsey novels.Boo. The dog in this book does not appear until the last chapter.
This is a decent early Crusie. It reads like a dry run for her later Dempsey novels.
The chemistry between the main set of protagonists is good, although their dirty talk gives me non-sexy concerns of a yeast infection; the second set of protagonists were less convincing to me as a couple, but still fabulous characters....more
I'm pretty sure Jam told me to read these books, oh, five years ago? I don't know why I resist doing her bidding, since she is always right.
In any casI'm pretty sure Jam told me to read these books, oh, five years ago? I don't know why I resist doing her bidding, since she is always right.
In any case, I downloaded the Ferretbrain Girl Books For Girls Halloween podcasts (which, despite the name are not dismissive of the genre, and probably, in fact, the most honestly you will ever hear five guys (and a girl) engage with Twilight) and came away with the idea that I should probably have listened to Jam. Conveniently, my library has it to borrow as an ebook.
Short version: if 'girl discovers her new town hides dark secret (P.S. secret is vampires)' sounds up your alley, give these a shot. Caine's protagonist is only sixteen, but despite that, the book reads, to me, as if it's aimed at a slightly older reader, and the characters actually, as Ferretbrain points out, get to say "fuck."...more