This review does not contain spoilers for either FEED or DEADLINE. One year has passed since Shaun and Georgia Mason found more than they bargained fo...moreThis review does not contain spoilers for either FEED or DEADLINE. One year has passed since Shaun and Georgia Mason found more than they bargained for as they investigated the truth behind the Kellis-Amberlee virus, a mutated cure for human disease that led to the uprising of the dead. The events that transpired then have an enormous impact now as the high-profile bloggers from After the End of Times uncover a conspiracy that is even bigger than they ever imagined. A CDC researcher fakes her own death in a spectacular fashion and shows up at their headquarters, and soon the whole team is battling zombies, mutant dogs, and the ever-present ghosts of their past.
When I finished this book late last night, my thoughts were "I have not a single criticism to offer. Not a single one." And this still holds true. Without exception, every question and doubt I raised with Feed is answered here. The action is incredibly intense, the story is densely and intricately plotted, and the book is exceptionally well-paced and exciting. Readers who are leery of zombies still shouldn't have much of a problem, because although there are more tense encounters with the undead, the violence is relatively contained and there are no gross or gratuitous scenes. Most of the terror comes from heart-pounding action and chase sequences, as well as the knowledge of the overwhelming consequences if the team fails in its quest for truth and justice.
Shaun, Georgia, and Buffy all loom large in this sequel, but we also get to know the other staffers better, including the elegant Mahir, the fiercely determined Becks, the quietly steady Alaric, and the sad, tragic Maggie. Most significantly, however, the narrator has shifted to Shaun, whose personality comes through loud and clear in his bitterly funny words, his decisive handling of his team, and his desperately emotional struggle to hang onto what he loves most. Mira Grant met and exceeded every expectation I had for this book, particularly in the devastating truth that comes to light about what might have been. I knew from Feed to expect an emotional reaction, but I could not have prepared myself for the terrible knowledge that these characters have to face. I was literally whimpering from the pain, and tears were streaming so hard that I couldn't see the page.
This is my third 5 star review for a 2011 book, and it is given with no reservations or qualifications. This is a searingly intelligent novel, with hard questions about medical ethics, government responsibility, and the nobility and folly of human nature. And just when you think the author has delivered everything she possibly could, there is a HUGE twist at the end that made me bolt upright and scream in the middle of the night. This twist has far-reaching consequences for both the characters and for society as a whole, and it also answered questions I had about the future in a crazy and unthinkable way.
It will be another year before the third book in this trilogy will be released, and I'll spend much of that time waiting in agony to find out what happens to the characters I've come to care about so much. But oh my stars, what a pleasure it is to be so incredibly excited and thrilled and moved by an author's work.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
REMINDER: DO NOT read the synopsis for this book anywhere if you haven't already read FEED, as it contains potential spoilers for the first book. And please do be careful of reviews that may spoil this one.(less)
This review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about scien...moreThis review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about science fiction novels or zombie thrillers: the Newsflesh trilogy defies all expectations. The story that began with a turbulent political campaign in a post-apocalyptic Feed escalates here as the blogger journalists from After the End of Times continue their quest to uncover the truth behind the deadly Kellis-Amberlee virus that has decimated civilization--one that is now mutating and spreading faster than ever before. The breakneck action and intrigue in Blackout is intense as a dangerous rescue mission, disease-carrying mosquitoes, zombie bears, tangled family drama, and a mysterious patient known as Subject 7B all complicate what is already hell on earth.
It's funny that my favorite zombie series actually has the least amount of zombie action in it, but Newsflesh hasn't ever been about the undead anyway--it's about the human response to it. As with The Reapers Are the Angels and Warm Bodies, this series is fascinating to me because it explores the idea of personal integrity within extreme circumstances. What would you do when the world ends? If you're Shaun and Georgia Mason, adopted siblings whose closeness forms an unbreakable team, you lead your fellow bloggers into an unrelenting search for truth--no matter what the cost. Or at least, that's how their story began. But now that the stakes are higher than they've ever been and those they love most are at risk, the focus has shifted to a very human need to hold onto the connections that matter most.
Blackout seamlessly combines medical thriller, political intrigue, and pulse-pounding action sequences with unforgettable human drama. How you feel about this series will very much depend on how you feel about the characters in general--if you love the Masons, Alaric, Becks, Mahir, and Maggie, you'll most likely have a fantastic time with Newsflesh. It doesn't mean the characters are perfect, of course; Shaun in particular is mourning a huge loss, and his reckless, desperate behavior in the second book caused a lot of criticism from a lot of readers. For me, I felt his pain so keenly, however, that his torment became mine--and I understood, too, the unconventional, defiant ways in which he grasped for some semblance of happiness as the world around him was destroyed. In books and in real life, I respond very strongly to loyalty, honesty, and the determination to do what's right. Shaun and Georgia, as well as their superbly realized supporting cast, embody those traits in a big way. Because they also are slammed with unbelievable suffering throughout these books that require a brutal amount of self-sacrifice, it isn't any wonder that I feel such fiercely protective love for them, as well as for the ideals they represent.
The author's writing gets better and better in each book, with well-researched scientific dilemmas and brilliant recaps that engage the reader without resorting to long info-dumps. Her brisk, matter-of-fact style of writing suits the story perfectly, and the sophisticated plot is exceptionally well-paced, with shifts from furious action to moments of stark stillness and contemplation handled beautifully. Whether we're getting worked up over red herrings, watching someone facing her own mortality, or respectfully acknowledging fallen comrades, the emotional pitch throughout the book felt utterly right, which is something that is very hard to pull off when there are so many ethical issues at stake.
A few random thoughts with REAL spoilers, because there's no other way to discuss them:
(view spoiler)[Subject 7B's realization of who and what she is is totally kickass. I loved how very true to her character this whole scenario was, and how believably all the cloning issues were integrated with our human need to recognize this person.
The scenes where 7B looks on the 8s made me really sad. :(
I'm so glad that one of the major plot points wasn't rescuing Georgia, because I cannot imagine any situation less likely to happen. The way she escapes and the way everyone reacts to seeing her was pitch-perfect.
I am SO happy to have Georgia back. Sheesh, I missed her so much! And it's nice to have a break from all the crazy of being in Shaun's head, hah.
I'm glad that Shaun and Georgia got to ride off into the sunset a bit, though I'm still sad for the brave, original Georgia who died in such a devastating way.
There were certainly some plot lines that I saw coming, and although I'm a little surprised that we got a HEA, obviously this didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book at all. The way it was handled felt just right. (hide spoiler)]
I don't know that I've ever read another series where the emotion it evoked was so intense--Feed left me crying so hard I could hardly see the keyboard, Deadline had me literally whimpering with pain in the middle of the night, and Blackout made me want to scream with excitement and agony and worry all at once. If you'd told me that a science fiction trilogy with zombies could be so searingly emotional or feel so incredibly personal, I'd have told you it was impossible. And I've never been happier to be proven wrong. I know most true fans of this series will race through the pages just like I did, with the same urgency and dread and excitement.
While I'm so sad that this particular story is over (although there are two more Newsflesh novellas coming this year) and I dearly wish they could all turn into zombies so this story could live on forever, I'm happy with the way the story ended. I'm sure Mira Grant's new forthcoming novels Parasitology and Symbiogenesis will be absolutely spectacular.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
P.S. For more proof of the power of Mira Grant's writing, read the alternate ending to FEED, Fed, at the bottom of the review on our blog which is ONLY safe for those who have already read the first book. Holy frak, that woman is an evil genius. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A superbly written novel, full of great twists and turns. You may be able to guess some of what's going on, but the author will still surprise you wit...moreA superbly written novel, full of great twists and turns. You may be able to guess some of what's going on, but the author will still surprise you with daring prose and unexpected red herrings. If you've never read the author before (as I had not) I'd recommend not reading ANY reviews about the book, not even the Amazon general description. The book jacket and this http://orangeprizeproject.blogspot.co... should whet your appetite enough. Trust in the author to do the rest.(less)
4.5 out of 5 stars This is a gruesome and beautiful book. This allegorical tale of a 15-year-old girl wandering a barren wasteland should not be beaut...more4.5 out of 5 stars This is a gruesome and beautiful book. This allegorical tale of a 15-year-old girl wandering a barren wasteland should not be beautiful, because she's fighting off zombies and a guy who's dead set on executing her. But it is. The writing is lush and gorgeous, the kind that makes you want to sink down and roll around in it until some small part of it is absorbed into your skin.
It was deep night when she saw it, but the moon was so bright it cast hard shadows everywhere on the island...a school of tiny fish, all darting around like marbles in a chalk circle, and they were lit up electric, mostly silver but some gold and pink too. They came and danced around her ankles, and she could feel their little electric fish bodies, and it was like she was standing under the moon and in the moon at the same time.
And that is just the first page. Six pages later, Temple stands over a zombie on a beach and crushes its skull with a huge rock. This author does not spare the terrible violence of encounters with the undead, and each confrontation is absolutely brutal and wince-inducing in its savagery. But there are some things you just have to do in order to survive.
Temple is also one of the most unforgettable fictional characters I've ever come across. She is bold, fiercely independent, and terribly damaged. Left on her own by an infected uncle and parents she doesn't remember, she encounters all kinds of people in her travels: a commune of frightened survivors, a group of men who have resorted to creative ways of finding food, a band of vicious mutants, a pitifully tragic family wasting away in their elegant manor, and a mute, helpless man she takes on against her better judgment. And of course, there's also the guy who's tracking her, hell-bent on justice because she dared to kill his brother in self-defense. It's an interesting situation when you have to fear both the living and the undead...as well as the mistakes you've made in your past.
This is a fairly short novel that is written almost like a post-apocalyptic western, but it is one that is packed with incredible power. It's been a few days since I finished reading this book, and I can't seem to forget the bleak intensity and magnificence of its imagery. I suspect that I never will.(less)
Probably the most romantic literary story that ever was...and it happens to be real! I've loved Helen Hanff's book for years, for both the wonderful s...moreProbably the most romantic literary story that ever was...and it happens to be real! I've loved Helen Hanff's book for years, for both the wonderful story of an intellectual love affair, but also for its witty and passionate love for books. A short but satisfying read.(less)
This is not the type of book I would normally pick up at all. My book club chose it for a monthly read, however, and I'm so glad they did!
This is a f...moreThis is not the type of book I would normally pick up at all. My book club chose it for a monthly read, however, and I'm so glad they did!
This is a fantastically funny, warm, and fascinating book that I literally read in a day because I was so engrossed in the story. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with all the characters. This is one of the few cases where I can see why the book has been on the bestseller list for ages--it deserves every accolade it's gotten. I've since sent the book to several women, all of whom love it too. (less)
Not many books start out with the heroine getting shot in the chest with a flying arrow. Fortunately, Tevra is wearing chain mail and astride her hors...moreNot many books start out with the heroine getting shot in the chest with a flying arrow. Fortunately, Tevra is wearing chain mail and astride her horse, however, so she doesn't even bat an eye. She merely pulls out her sword, narrowly avoids the keening magical orb pursuing her, and rendezvous with the men under her command. The king himself has charged her with ending the corruption in the Forest Province, and as the youngest Colonel in the Light Cavalry, she takes her extraordinarily powerful role as the king's viceroy quite seriously.
I rarely traditional fantasies because I often don't have the patience to learn all the new customs and names--and so many fantasy books seem so focused on the world building that an engaging story sometimes falls by the wayside. Not so in this book, however! We are thrown into the action as soon as the story begins, and we are quickly caught up on the issues at stake. For a short book in which sword battles, politics, romance, and magic play nearly equal roles, it is exceptionally well-paced, entertaining, and accessible, whilst pleasing most fans of high fantasy, adventure, and romance.
Tevra is an unforgettable heroine, one who imperiously commands war-scarred men and dispatches corruption with ease, but who is also capable of expressing herself subtly with a cool lift of her brow or a gracious tilt of her head. The author has created in Tevra a sympathetic protagonist who is believably authoritative, but whose inner dialogue also shows a more vulnerable, emotional side that is immensely appealing. In the middle of the sensitive political issues she must deal with, Tevra is also struggling with an unwanted attraction to the Forest King, and her tingly encounters with this man made me clutch the book a little more tightly more than once. Complicating matters is the headstrong young Hetwith, who has been at her side for more than a decade and whose strengths and weaknesses somehow seem a perfect match to complement her own.
Written with brisk economy that still manages to convey a great deal of expressiveness and emotion, Tevra's story excited me and moved me in ways that I didn't expect. It is thrilling to witness her decisiveness and determination in the heat of battle (the woman takes a harpoon through her side at one point!), it is unbearably sad to hear about her past as an Unchosen maid, and it is scandalously pleasing to see her discover her feminine side for the first time. It's always tricky with first person narrative to make the reader cognizant of clues that the main character herself may not necessarily be aware of, but somehow the author managed to do that here. I also loved the cheerful humor and witty language with which nearly every scene was met--I don't think I've ever chuckled so much in a fantasy adventure.
While it's true that you might predict some of the plot lines or you may guess some of the secrets that Tevra keeps hidden even from herself, it really doesn't matter. This book fulfills every demand you would want from a story like this--and it does so with style, playfulness, and latent emotion. I couldn't have loved it more.
Spread the Love
If you ever wonder about whether word of mouth is influential, by the way, this book is another great example of how readers discover and share hidden gems. Gail Carriger chose a moment from this book as her favorite romantic scene on my blog for her guest post. Since I started reading it, more than 100 people have shelved this book and I know a number of friends have purchased it (along with a few of the author's other titles) as well. Taming the Forest King is sadly out of print, but you can easily obtain a copy through secondhand bookstores or online through Amazon, Half.com, Alibris, etc. Good luck! It's well worth the $5 or so you'll spend.(less)
In reading the gothic psychological novel Affinity, it is nearly impossible to shake off an overwhelming feeling of gloom and pervasive dread. Followi...moreIn reading the gothic psychological novel Affinity, it is nearly impossible to shake off an overwhelming feeling of gloom and pervasive dread. Following a failed suicide attempt, a young "lady visitor" named Margaret Prior develops a relationship with an inmate named Selina Dawes in a Victorian women's prison, and both their lives are forever changed by their acquaintance.
Narrated in alternating chapters by the two very different women, this dark, moody story incites fear, melancholy, and terrible pity. As always, with this author's work comes a thoroughly researched story and a compelling look at women in oppressive circumstances, as well as how their limited choices often lead to desperate attempts to control their own destinies. There's also an erotic undercurrent of forbidden attraction running deep in this novel as Margaret finds herself increasingly drawn to the mysterious Selina Dawes, who has been imprisoned for a spiritualist reading gone horribly wrong. Their subtly blooming attraction is heightened by the misery of the contrast with Selina's living conditions at Millbank Prison (an actual London prison, by the way), and it's a certainty that in Margaret's desire to save Selina, she is also desperate to save herself.
And what will your sister do if her husband should die, and she should take another? Who will she fly to then, when she has crossed the spheres? For she will fly to someone, we will all fly to someone, we will all return to that piece of shining matter from which our souls are torn with another, two halves of the same. It may be that the husband your sister has now has that other soul, that has affinity with her soul--I hope it is. But it maybe the next man she takes, or it may be neither. It may be someone she would never think to look to on the earth, someone kept from her by some false boundary...
Sarah Waters writes in dense, elegant prose and tells stories that unfold with exquisite deliberation. Affinity is similar to The Little Stranger, in that there are such evocative, spine-chilling moments (including a particularly vivid one involving (view spoiler)[dripping wax and a dimpled baby's arm :-O (hide spoiler)]) that I literally had to put the book down and step away from it. She masterfully creates an atmosphere of suffocating melancholy and builds the tension to an almost unbearable point, so that when the characters finally break, there is a blessed emotional release and relief in the confusion and madness that follows.
As with all of the authors' novels, it's important not to read too many reviews or interviews lest important surprises are spoiled. I've read enough of her books to know that I needed to pay attention to every word that is uttered, but she still kept me guessing until the devastating end. If you decide to read this, try to save it for a day when it's cold and dreary and drizzling; I did, and my imagination nearly went wild over the awful conditions of the prison, as well as the evocative seances I could picture perfectly in my mind. Affinity isn't the typical jump-out-of-the-closet horror novel, but for the reader who appreciates subtlety and who might feel a fine shiver when things don't feel quite right in the house, it can offer an incredibly suspenseful and terrifying read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Searching for another kick-ass urban fantasy heroine? Look no further, because McKenzie Lewis has arrived. Caught in a fascinating war between the fae...moreSearching for another kick-ass urban fantasy heroine? Look no further, because McKenzie Lewis has arrived. Caught in a fascinating war between the fae king and the rebel faction, she is kidnapped by the rebellion, who wants to use her special cartography skills for their own means. McKenzie fights to escape in some seriously great action scenes, but gradually she starts to wonder whether the truth behind the war is even more complex than she ever imagined.
What's intriguing about McKenzie is that unlike most other urban fantasy heroines, she's not a warrior. She has no magic sword, she doesn't have mad martial arts skills, and hell, she can't even fire a gun. But she is an exceptionally gifted shadow reader, a person who can see the trace imprints left behind when one of the fae has teleported to another location. The author does an amazing job of showing us how special McKenzie is, particularly in scenes involving a tracking test that's set up for her by the rebels. This girl is fierce and determined and fearless and funny, and I liked how she actually thinks and reasons. You know how sometimes you want to yell at the page because something should be occurring to the heroine, but it doesn't because the author wants to let the story drag on? It's like McKenzie hears you yelling loud and clear and answers you immediately in her actions. But I also like that she's so very human in the middle of all the powerful magic and power plays exhibited around her. She miscalculates, she doesn't know whom to trust, and she actually bleeds and feels pain in a jarring, wince-inducing way. And I like that in the middle of a blistering attack when her own life is in danger, she stops to rescue a little squirmy kimki animal.
And yeah...there are a couple of really sexy guys in this book. McKenzie's been waiting 10 years for something to happen in her forbidden relationship with the strong and principled Kyol, the king's swordsman; but her rebel captor, Aren, is also strangely compelling, with awesome healing powers and a pesky habit of making her feel things for him that she shouldn't be feeling. (Oh, and he has disheveled, sexy hair, too. :D ) Love triangles are usually equal parts agonizing and annoying, but the romantic entanglements are handled incredibly well here. It's like the Dorian-Kiyo thing (view spoiler)[without the murderous deceptive part (hide spoiler)] but done in a much more sophisticated, non-icky, non-frustrating way. I like that everyone behaves honorably and that fae politics and war add so many complicated layers to the situation; while everyone has secrets and agendas, it's clear why both men are so attractive to McKenzie, because both are certainly very attractive to us. The electricity running under her skin whenever she's touched by one of the men is incredibly hot, especially considering that there is no actual sex in any of these relationships. Yet.
Aren holds on for a moment more, his lips and hands lingering as if this is his last breath. As if this is the only breath in his life that has ever mattered.
"Fine," he says, his words coming out breathless. "I'll save your precious sword-master, McKenzie. But I will never, ever give you back to him."
I'm really happy to find another great series, especially one that features such a smart and funny heroine and a well-plotted story. If you're a fan of Richelle Mead, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, or Chloe Neill, don't wait another minute! This is urban fantasy series you've been waiting for.
P.S. If you're still not convinced, let me just say that I made the mistake of starting this book when I went to bed late at night and I was so hooked, I couldn't put it down until I finished it at 6 am. By the time I woke up a few hours later, a few of my friends had already purchased it..and it looks like they really enjoyed it, too. Yay!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Everything, everything, everything a violent crime thriller should be, and the best Slaughter book to date. (view spoiler)[ I am even more irritated w...moreEverything, everything, everything a violent crime thriller should be, and the best Slaughter book to date. (view spoiler)[ I am even more irritated with The Shining Girls now. Grrrrr. (hide spoiler)]
4.5 stars Hugely entertaining scifi written like urban fantasy, with an awesome Ripley-from-Alien type heroine and explosive action. SPACE. ALIENS. KI...more4.5 stars Hugely entertaining scifi written like urban fantasy, with an awesome Ripley-from-Alien type heroine and explosive action. SPACE. ALIENS. KICKASS WOMAN. FUN.
Still my favorite gothic novel of all time. A troubled love interest, an unwelcoming housekeeper, a house haunted by the memories of its previous mist...moreStill my favorite gothic novel of all time. A troubled love interest, an unwelcoming housekeeper, a house haunted by the memories of its previous mistress, and a young girl who is ill-equipped to handle everything...all the elements for a wildly mysterious and romantic story that is unforgettably and beautifully written.(less)
Here is a most edifying (and highly scientific) quiz you may use to ascertain whether this novel is one that you will enjoy.
* Is your bookcase overflo...moreHere is a most edifying (and highly scientific) quiz you may use to ascertain whether this novel is one that you will enjoy.
* Is your bookcase overflowing with strong, decisive heroines? * Do you chuckle over the animated Gorey titles preceding a PBS “Mystery!” presentation? * Are you fond of the Victorian era? * Does witty prose make you positively giddy with excitement? * Have you ever lingered over a bit of lace or wistfully touched a velvet coat? * Are you delighted when someone brews a pot of tea? * Does the notion of shape-shifters tickle your fancy? * Are you fascinated by the seductive appeal of vampires? * Have you a penchant for strong, handsome men? * Do you look discreetly and longingly at other people’s plates?
If the answer to most of these questions is “yes” then you musn’t hesitate—it’s quite possible that Soulless will thoroughly please your palate and leap right onto your “favorites” shelf. If the answer is “no,” then clearly there is no romance in your soul this is a book to be most assuredly avoided.
You will have to forgive my enthusiasm in this review. I was positively in ecstasies over the witty language as I was reading this deliciously dotty book, and even as I write this it’s hard to keep from smiling. The story follows Miss Alexia Tarabotti, a preternatural being who has the ability to remove supernatural powers as long as she is touching the other person. Alexia is a clever bluestocking with revoltingly independent tendencies and an unfortunate weakness for treacle tarts. As a spinster, she’s resigned herself to hovering on the edges of glittering social engagements--that is, until she gets caught up in the mystery surrounding a strange vampire attack that flaunts all the rules of polite society. Not to mention that such attacks are a serious breach of good manners.
Meticulously detailed and overflowing with good humor, Soulless is a like a cozy mystery run mad, set in an inventive alternate universe populated with a dizzying array of colorful characters. I’m quite sure that Gail Carriger has been busily spying my bookshelves to see all of the different kinds of books I enjoy and wrote this just for me, as I jotted notes continuously as I read because I found so much to exclaim over. If you’re curious about the writer’s style, I would strongly recommend downloading the preview chapter to try or having a look at my status updates, since I quoted a fair number of my favorite lines.
I haven’t read that many steampunk novels yet, but it’s hard to imagine that there could be another one that blends the Victorian era and imaginative paranormal fiction as seamlessly as this one does. I loved the marvelous descriptions of glassicals, carriages outfitted with tea kettles and viewing lenses, and the various steam-powered machines and engines. (view spoiler)[I am still disturbed by all the octupuses, however. That is never explained! (hide spoiler)]
What I appreciate most about this book, however, is that the author did a splendid job of melding mystery, steampunk, and romance together in such a wonderful way while observing the customs and attitudes of the Victorian era. I have such a pet peeve about novels that are set in this time that largely ignore traditional views towards women or the rules of society; while I don’t expect every historical novel I pick up (especially light-hearted entertainers like this one) to be completely accurate, it is a joy to find a book that is so thoroughly researched and comfortable with the manners and mores of the period. Although Alexia is obviously a supernatural being with unusual powers, she also has the same concerns as other women of her time: the feminine role in society, the need for security through marriage, the uncomfortable marginalization of thinking women, etc. I felt enormous sympathy for Alexia when she says simply, “I would so like something useful to do.” The author spends just enough time working these details into the story before she transcends those issues and gives our heroine the means to overcome her problems in a completely enjoyable way.
Once the big confrontation occurs towards the end, however, I did feel that the book lost a bit of its momentum since it would have been better if things were wrapped up more quickly, and the paranormal aspects of Alexia's abilities are perhaps a little on the slight side. There was also a bit more romance in the novel than I expected, but you know, I’m as willing to be seduced by a handsome werewolf as the next lady, so I was happy to go along with that part of the story. It’s not a hardship when Miss Tarabotti and Lord Maccon are such well-matched individuals. And, um, some of their scenes together made this reader fan herself more than once.
I had such a wonderful time reading this novel. This style of writing and humor and story will not be for everyone, but I found it to be hysterically funny, swooningly romantic, and thoroughly entertaining. I absolutely adore it.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ And I want to pepper it with kisses. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
4.5 stars I have a theory that it's nearly impossible to read a Karin Slaughter book in more than a day. She's one of the few authors whose books I NE...more4.5 stars I have a theory that it's nearly impossible to read a Karin Slaughter book in more than a day. She's one of the few authors whose books I NEED to get and devour on the day they're released because I'm so engrossed in the characters and have been waiting a whole year to find out what happens to them next. If you like your murder mysteries on the dark and gritty side, if you're fascinated by the seething violence lurking in the human psyche, this author is a definitely going to make your favorites list.
This third installment in her Georgia series, which chronologically follows the Grant County and Will Trent series, absolutely delivers on the page-turning thrills. GBI agent Faith Mitchell comes home from work one day to find her mother missing, her baby locked in the shed, a dead guy in the living room, and a bloody handprint above the open door. What the hell is going on? And how can she investigate the situation when she's been implicated in the crime?
Leading the investigation is Faith's partner Will Trent, who is still trying to hide his high-functioning dyslexia as well as his attraction to former coroner Dr. Sara Linton. Will is one of the most interesting characters I've ever come across--he is highly principled, a fantastic agent, and incredibly damaged by his childhood. Will's taciturn nature keeps most of his colleagues at a distance, but the painful patterns set in his past continue to shape the difficult circumstances of his present, and as usual he has to fight his demons so he can function in his job. Fans of this series have been waiting literally years for some measure of happiness for Will, and it's a pleasure to say that Fallen does not disappoint in that respect.
Slaughter (that is, believe it or not, not a pen name) continues to deliver high-tension thrills, hard-nosed yet vulnerable characters and violent, fast-paced action. As with all her books, this latest installment is exceptionally well-written and meticulously detailed, as well as filled with fascinating insight into forensic pathology, police procedurals, and human behavior. If you've never picked up one of her books...what are you waiting for?
For anyone who is interested in checking out this series, please note that it's important to read them in order since the author wrote two separate series that eventually merge. Here's the order in which they should be read:
Grant County Series:
Blindsighted Kisscut A Faint, Cold Fear Indelible Faithless Beyond Reach
Will Trent Series These two books can be read (in order) concurrently with the above, but read them before you read the third batch.
4.5 stars It takes a lot to interest me in starting an adult urban fantasy series these days, so I was a bit hesitant when Written in Red landed on my...more4.5 stars It takes a lot to interest me in starting an adult urban fantasy series these days, so I was a bit hesitant when Written in Red landed on my doorstep. This turned out to be a happy surprise, however, because it ended up being a fantastic read.
Meg Corbyn is on the run. As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, she is able to see the future when cuts are made on her skin. This is a painful process in many ways, and she's desperate to free herself from those who have been profiting from her gift her whole life. She soon encounters Simon Wolfgard, a snarly, suspicious shapeshifter who takes her under his wing despite his better judgment.
What I loved: I liked Meg as a protagonist, and her attempts to fit into her new surroundings were well-written, particularly the subplot involving Simon's panicked, endearing nephew Sam. The secondary character are distinct and memorable, particularly the reticent Tess, who just might be more than she appears. Simon is fiercely protective of those he holds dear. And there are short but thrilling action scenes with spectacularly awesome deaths. I admit to being a little bloodthirsty, but really--I was wriggling on the edge of my seat as I was reading some of those scenes!
This book also has one of the most interesting depictions of werewolf culture that I've ever read. The way they interact with each other, the hierarchy, the thought patterns and behavior impulses--all these were well-thought out and integrated into the story, and were both a little scary and endearing in turn. These shifters are primed for action and much more in touch with their animal side than their human one.
"You want us to save any meat for you?" Blair asked.
He wasn't human. Would never be human. "I want the heart. I'll come by for it later."
When Meg was asleep.
But these wolves also aren't above some creature comforts now and then, and can also be coaxed with cookies. :D
A few things that could have been a little better: the villains could have been more complex. The strutting, on-the-make Asia Crane appears often, and yet she's more of an annoyance than a real threat. After such a long build-up, the climax might've been more drawn out. Meg's blood prophecies are pretty cool, so I would have enjoyed seeing more of that. And that cover--oh sweet mercy, that cover should be so much stronger.
I enjoyed this book so much, however, that those things didn't even matter in the end when there's great world-building, humorous dialogue, and genuinely touching moments here and there. I also liked that the book didn't fall into predictable PNR/UF patterns of relationship behavior between Meg and Simon, even though there's clearly an attraction. The way they get to know each other happens gradually, and it's going to be so interesting to see where their story goes in the next installment.
All in all, a strong start to a great series. If you're a YA reader who would like to try more adult crossover titles, this might work for you as long as you know it's not written in a wham-bam instant gratification kind of way. And if you're an urban fantasy fan, you have to check this out. I loved it--I hope you will, too!
4.5 stars Oooo, smut smut smut smut smut. :D Is it terribly shallow to admit that I snapped up this book because I heard there was hot *whispers* drag...more4.5 stars Oooo, smut smut smut smut smut. :D Is it terribly shallow to admit that I snapped up this book because I heard there was hot *whispers* dragon sex in it? I rarely read paranormal romances these days, but all of the reviews I saw for this book were raves, so I was wild with curiosity. Besides, I have a serious weakness for shapeshifters, which has sometimes led to disastrous reads and sometimes led to really fun ones. I'm happy to report that in this case, the book more than lives up to the hype.
The story is actually really good, and so well-plotted that in some ways, I'd say this is a lot closer to urban fantasy than your typical PNR; there's as much focus on the story as there is on the relationship. Pia, the central character, is very strong and principled. When we first meet her, she's just been coerced into stealing from a powerful dragon lord. Being a clever woman, she's stolen only a single penny, and she even left a note of apology in its place. Dragos doesn't care, however, and comes after her with all the force of his formidable powers and bristling with outrage and fury. Things begin to get interesting when they realize that Pia's coercion is actually part of a bigger political game between the Fae and the Elder Races...and when they discover their unwilling attraction to one another.
And boy oh boy, is this relationship HOT. Dragos is a very, um, masculine guy and he's overwhelmingly attracted to Pia. The rumors of crazy dragon sex in this book were not exaggerated, but what I also love is that the relationship between them is portrayed with a great deal of respect and tenderness. They're strong as individuals, but they're so great together that you really want them to overcome all their obstacles and get their happily ever after. The secondary characters are also great, and the set-up for the next book Storm's Heart is skillfully woven into the plot.
Aside from a small bit of info-dumping in the beginning, this is an exceptionally well-written novel for the genre, and filled with humorous situations and hilarious one-liners. Several of my friends have pulled this out as a favorite quote, and I have to share it as well, because it just makes me giggle:
“So is that your long, scaly reptilian tail or are you just happy to see me?”
Tee hee hee. How can you not laugh? This is a book that isn't afraid to poke fun at itself, which is a nice change from all the paranormal books that take their own mythology so seriously. Speaking of which, I also enjoyed the reveal of Pia's mysterious past and her...powers. It was a fun surprise and perfectly done.
If you're inclined to read this sort of book, I can't recommend this enough--it's truly the best PNR book I've ever read. Every element that you could consider--the story, the magic, the characters, the romance, the sex, the writing--is absolutely terrific. You really couldn't ask for a more entertaining read.(less)
*Spoiler-Free* Don't worry, Chicagoland fans. *pat pat* Everything will be okay.
4.5 starsIt's been two months since the nail-biting events of Hard Bit...more*Spoiler-Free* Don't worry, Chicagoland fans. *pat pat* Everything will be okay.
4.5 starsIt's been two months since the nail-biting events of Hard Bitten, and Merit is still dealing with the fall-out from what occurred. As Cadogan House is investigated for mismanagement and blood rations keep everyone on edge, there's also trouble when Lake Michigan suddenly turns black and fingers are pointed at the vamps. Merit must work together with Jonah, the attractive captain of the guards at Grey House, to find out who's really responsible, even as she's haunted by dreams that she doesn't understand.
Merit has always been a strong, smart, and funny heroine, but her loyalty and her honor really come through in this particular book. We also get more kickass fight scenes, interesting political developments as a pending paranormal registration act causes tempers to flare, complicated problems with Merit's best friend Mallory, skies that turn ruby red, and tense run-ins with faeries and lake sirens. I also liked that Malik has stepped up in a stronger role at Cadogan, and how respect and trust and allegiance are, as always, big themes in this series.
But never mind all that--you want to know about Ethan! The sexy, green-eyed Master is never far from Merit's mind, and he casts a long shadow over all of the turmoil at Cadogan House. After the sucker punch dealt to fans in the last book, many of us worried about the direction that the series was taking. But most readers are going to be very, very satisfied with the way Merit deals with her feelings for Ethan as well as her reluctant attraction to Jonah. I am really happy that she finds the strength to come to terms with this very tricky situation, and every development in this story arc feels completely right and emotionally true.
I continue to be impressed by how Chloe Neill juggles a sizable cast of characters and all kinds of interesting subplots while moving Merit's personal story forward. There's no doubt at all that this series will continue to deliver the great stories and quality entertainment we've come to expect. And yeah, I gave an urban fantasy book 5 stars--what of it? Chicagoland has always been the cream of the crop for this genre, and Drink Deep is by far the best book in the series to date.
This book has zombies in it, but to call it a zombie or horror novel does it a disservice. There are some awesome action sequences, but no gratuitous...moreThis book has zombies in it, but to call it a zombie or horror novel does it a disservice. There are some awesome action sequences, but no gratuitous feeding scenes, screaming teenagers, or B-horror movie cliches or gore. It's more of a novel about journalism, the right to information and free speech, and the personal and political ramifications of a wide-spreading disease. With occasional zombie action.
This is also not necessarily a young adult novel. Not because it's inappropriate in any way, but because the themes it addresses are hard and sometimes the narrative is pretty dry. In the year 2039, Georgia and Shaun Mason, along with their friend Buffy (recognize any zombie-related names there?), are invited to cover Senator Ryman's presidential campaign in a world in which the Kellis-Amberlee virus has decimated the country's population and resources. Traditional news organizations have given way to the rise of internet journalism, and the trio of young bloggers must uncover a terrible conspiracy and disseminate information to their readers, all while risking their very lives.
The strengths in this novel include incredibly well thought-out world-building, strong characters, snappy dialogue, unexpected plot twists, and excellent action sequences. Mira Grant's attention to detail in Feed regarding precautionary measures, sterilization procedures, and waiting for heart-pounding test results all rang very true. (Richard Preston's The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story scared the bejesus out of me when it was first published in 1999, and for awhile I was fascinated by the CDC and read a lot of books about various outbreaks and plagues.) Georgia, who is the primary narrator, is a butt-kicking heroine with a huge amount of integrity, and I loved her adopted brother Shaun, who sports both a cheerfully bantering demeanor and a crossbow. I have a healthy amount of respect for their efforts to survive and for their pursuit of truth, which often came at great cost to themselves and to those they hold dear.
This is not to say that this is a perfect novel. There are overly long info-dumping passages (they are intelligently written and provide necessary back story, but they are info-dumps all the same) that would have been better served with more dialogue; a surprisingly uncomplicated, easy-to-spot villain; and some aspects of Georgia and Shaun's relationship that were teased but perhaps a bit unexplored. I wish there was also better build up of tension, a few more zombie encounters, less politics (a personal preference, though, since I find politics a big snoozefest), a less prolonged ending following a major game-changing event, and a little more emotion throughout the book. Overall, I think the spareness of prose and Georgia's all-business approach worked within the context of the story, but because I'm always looking for emotional connection, I would liked to have seen it spread out in more than just a couple of places.
However...the scenes with emotional impact pack a gigantic wallop. It's hard to surprise me these days with unexpected story twists, but this one managed to do it not once, but twice--and the outcomes of both those revelations ratchet up the stakes in a way that nothing else could have. I had early, anxious worries about the ending, but things didn't unfold the way I expected--and it still didn't prepare me for the tears that flowed freely and the awful ache in my throat, both of which still come and go as I think about the book. That characters would still, in such extreme and tragic circumstances, behave with such integrity and nobility and selflessness and love, just wrenches my heart.
To be honest, this would probably normally be a 4 star review because of points I mentioned. But because of its heartrending and unforgettable ending, it gets 4.5 stars from me. I think as readers, most of us go through dozens and dozens of books hoping to find that one book that shatters our expectations and leaves us speechless with unexpected feeling. For me, Feed is one that definitely does that.
Here is my spoiler-free review of the sequel (which is okay to read even if you haven't read FEED). Reminder: DO NOT READ the synopsis for the second book in the trilogy, however, as it spoils major plot points for this first book. (less)
Why are readers drawn to horror? Read our Q & A with Marcus Sedgwick, the Printz honor author of Midwinterblood. Plus win a finished copy of this...moreWhy are readers drawn to horror? Read our Q & A with Marcus Sedgwick, the Printz honor author of Midwinterblood. Plus win a finished copy of this fantastic book!
4.5 starsBlood-soaked nightmares. Of another time. Of another place. Of another life.
The unusual story of Midwinterblood begins in the future, in the year 2073. A young journalist named Eric arrives on a remote island, where it is rumored that the people live forever. He is immediately drawn to a woman named Merle, but soon begins to notice that the locals are behaving strangely...very strangely. Little does he know that his story is but one chapter in a piercingly poignant, savage saga that stretches across time and transcends the boundaries of life and death.
I love fiction that is unsettling, particularly when it comes to the YA genre. Eric and Merle's story has elements of the shrieking madness of the film The Wicker Man, including a distinct undercurrent of unease and disturbing pagan rituals. To tell you too much about the seven interconnected stories would be to give away too many of their delicious secrets. But following the opening segment, the plot moves backwards in time, and by the third story "The Airman," the pieces start fitting together. My favorite ones are "The Painter"(1902), "The Unquiet Grave" (1848), and "The Vampire" (10th Century), many of which are violent, pensive, and sad. One of the things I like best about the plot is how Eric and Merle are bound together throughout the centuries, and yet their relationship is never the same. Sometimes they are lovers, sometimes they are children, etc., but there is always a connective emotional thread between them.
The prose is descriptive and powerful, with fragments of rough beauty jutting out from the horror contained in the intricate framework of the story.
Behind them grew a tree, an odd tree, with a straight trunk, and a pointed crown of brilliant green leaves. Gold objects hung in the glossy leaves, and Bridget was startled as she saw they were skulls. Shining golden skulls.
Although I read a great many books for sheer entertainment value, it's coming across an author like Marcus Sedgwick that reminds me how very formulaic many YA books tend to be. When I read his chilling gothic mystery White Crow last year, it freaked me out--I couldn't believe the intensity of the emotional pitch, or how the persuasively suggestive writing played tricks with my perception. Midwinterblood solidified the author's place on my list of favorite writers, and I will be seeking out every title of his that I can get my hands on. I wish we saw more YA with this degree of depth and complexity.
If you're the type of reader who prefers goth over gore, mood over mayhem, or disquiet over digust, this is exactly the kind of horror story that will appeal to you--one that is odd and beautifully strange, and one written with passion, but also with great restraint. Unapologetically bold, horrifying, and desperately doomed, Midwinterblood is not a book any reader could easily forget.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
Midwinterblood Tour Stop
We're very pleased to be kicking off the official Midwinterblood Blog Tour next Monday, February 5th! Stop by for our Q & A with author Marcus Sedgwick, when you may also enter to win a copy of this spectacular book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)