This showed up on my doorstep unexpectedly, and I gave it a chance because I'd seen some surprisingly positive reactions among friends. I say "surprisThis showed up on my doorstep unexpectedly, and I gave it a chance because I'd seen some surprisingly positive reactions among friends. I say "surprising" because I absolutely loathed Hush, Hush--suffice to say that years after reading it, I still don't know if there's a YA couple that I dislike more.
It's true that Black Ice is entertaining and kept my interest, more than most YA thrillers, though I'm admittedly hard on the genre in this age category. It's not unlike adult romantic thrillers you'd find from authors like Lisa Gardner or books in Harlequin's Mira imprint, in which the relationship drama gets a near equal amount of play as the fairly straightforward mystery. That's all perfectly fine, except that the characters are pretty ridiculous here--the BFF is an idiot and the adults are non-existent. Britt herself isn't entirely unredeeming, except that she's torn between her cocky ex-boyfriend and her lusty Stockholm Syndrome feelings for one of the guys who kidnapped her. The author does keep you guessing (I mean, I guessed correctly, but she did a decent job of drawing things out) who the culprits are, but it doesn't even really matter, because pretty much every guy in this book acts like a jerk at one time or another. Not quite Patch-levels of controlling behavior or abusiveness, but enough to make you want to give them a good hard shove out the door. Even if they are supposedly, as my friend Crowinator says, supernaturally hot.
I kind of wish this author would write books for adults. While I'm annoyed by women acting dumb over guys in most scenarios, and I certainly don't think YA needs to always model exemplary behavior, I'm so uncomfortable with romantic portrayals like this--it just feels especially icky when the book's audience is younger. At least Britt stands up for herself? Eventually? I guess? But the power dynamic still seems so off, and the tenor of the relationships is so negative and mostly animal attraction-based, that I just can't get on board with the romance--and when that's 50% of what's going on, that's a lot of letdown. Not to mention that there's a lot of male-fixation and sexist thinking.
So: the thriller parts are relatively diverting, but the relationships and characters annoyed me. And despite all this snow and isolation, there's not all that much talk about the survival aspects, which is something I would have enjoyed. But this serves to confirm that this author's just not for me. While the resolution for this one is better than the Hush, Hush series, these aren't the types of relationships I enjoy reading about--or the types I would necessarily be wild about impressionable young girls daydreaming over, either.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review....more
You know what I don't like in fiction with erotic content?
A sexual relationship that seems rather pathetic and silly.
A sexual relationship that is viYou know what I don't like in fiction with erotic content?
A sexual relationship that seems rather pathetic and silly.
A sexual relationship that is violent. Not pseudo violence/BDSM games, mind you, extreme physical pain inflicted by both parties.
A sexual relationship where someone is repeatedly used. And often raped.
A sexual relationship that's literally filthy--sex in a crap hole of an apartment, up against a dumpster with rotting food and rats, etc.
A sexual relationship with seriously unsexy sex.
And worst of all: A sexual relationship where both parties pretentiously quote literature at each other as foreplay.
I won't even get into the other ways in which this book proved to be disappointing, in every conceivable way--psychologically, plot-wise, writing-wise, dialogue-wise, character-wise, and beyond. Everyone's fucked up and no one is in the least bit likeable or nuanced or even marginally interesting.
Hated. This. Book. In case that wasn't obvious....more
Seriously, what the fuck. Aside from the rampant, rapey sexualization of a 14 year old by every man who comes into contact with her, the main characteSeriously, what the fuck. Aside from the rampant, rapey sexualization of a 14 year old by every man who comes into contact with her, the main character is annoying, and the writing style drove me crazy. Ugh. ...more
I think a large part of whether this book works for you may rely on whether you find Sawyer LeGrande charming. And I do not.
And while I'm prone to beI think a large part of whether this book works for you may rely on whether you find Sawyer LeGrande charming. And I do not.
And while I'm prone to be pretty forgiving with girls who don't always make smart choices, I was constantly frustrated with Reena, too. Make him work for it, honey. And it is NOT OKAY to (repeatedly) act in a way that is hurtful to other people, particularly if you know what it's like to be hurt yourself.
I'm surprised at how negatively I feel about this one, given the sea of 5 star reviews. There were also a few moments conveniently timed for maximum drama, which felt somewhat soapy. Appreciated the way her relationship with her daughter was portrayed, though, as well as with Shelby and Soledad and her father. Is the book well-crafted? Mostly. Realistic? Yes. Personally enjoyable for me? Not really. But many others have loved it, so take my reaction with a grain of salt. ...more
3.5 stars As with its predecessor, I love all the angel stuff and I really dislike the way the romance is written. I liked the introduction of the Sha3.5 stars As with its predecessor, I love all the angel stuff and I really dislike the way the romance is written. I liked the introduction of the Shadows and the subplot with Elise's sister, and I'm interested enough to keep reading. But oh, how I wish the romance was written in a less predictable, more compelling way! If the dialogue and romantic entanglements weren't so blah, and the beautiful angel stuff more deeply explored, this series could easily be one of my favorites. ...more
3.5 stars Oh Eugenie, Eugenie, Eugenie. Throughout all four of the Dark Swan books, I feel like you could have used a good girlfriend you could call w3.5 stars Oh Eugenie, Eugenie, Eugenie. Throughout all four of the Dark Swan books, I feel like you could have used a good girlfriend you could call whenever you had the urge to do something silly. Unfortunately, you didn't have my number, and as much as I've enjoyed your company, I still have to fight the urge to shake some sense into you, even after all this time.
In Shadow Heir, Eugenie Markham has her twin babies but hides them away in fear of their safety. She returns to the faery world to find that a disaster has fallen on her land, and she must work together with both allies and enemies in order to save the Otherworld that she's come to love. Eugenie's story has always been a lot of fun from the very beginning, when we first learned she was a half-human, half-fae shaman for hire who learns that she's destined to be part of a prophecy that will wreak havoc upon the mortal world. I've really enjoyed her learning to harness her powers (she can control water elements!), uncovering the truth behind her past, and watching her become a more powerful, more dedicated Queen in the faery kingdom. All of the battle scenes are really fun, and if some of the plot points are a bit on the predictable side, that hasn't mattered as much to me because the characters are all nuanced and interesting, the dialogue is snappy and humorous, and the overall story lines are fast-paced and entertaining.
What's been much less enjoyable has been watching Eugenie bounce back and forth between her two love interests, the half-Japanese, half-fox shapeshifter Kiyo, and the madly flirtatious, deadly ambitious King Dorian. While both men were equally attractive in the beginning, the love triangle dragged out interminably, with pretty bad behaviors from everyone concerned. Both men have their own agendas and secrets that they keep from Eugenie, but in the last book Iron Crowned, one of them made a horribly treacherous and unforgivable move, and I went into this book absolutely gunning for blood. (view spoiler)[ Or a fur coat. :D (hide spoiler)] One really funny thing about this last installment is that pretty much everyone else in the book hates him, too! Different characters kept bringing up the idea of killing the traitor again and again, to my great satisfaction.
I did very much enjoy reading this story and I was happy that many of the threads that were left hanging in the last book were concluded--but I'm not sure I'm happy about the way they were resolved. Eugenie makes some pretty awful tactical errors, seems deliberately obtuse throughout much of the story, and in the end sets upon a course that made my blood pressure go up a few notches. There is just no reason that she shouldn't have learned by now that dishonesty and deception are never going to pay off. Her decisions at the end were illogical, poorly conceived, and completely unfair to everyone concerned. Also...(view spoiler)[I could have used a little bit more makeout time with Dorian. (hide spoiler)]
Richelle Mead's heroines are always strong, dominant women, which is part of what I like about them--but after producing three series which manage to entertain and frustrate readers in nearly equal measure, it's pretty clear to me that the biggest issue is that in trying to make her main character flawed, she so often makes the main character stupid as well. Or at least irrational and thoughtless, which is so frustrating when our heroine usually otherwise behaves with a great deal of courage and integrity and common sense. That's not to say that obstacles shouldn't be thrown in the main character's way or that she shouldn't make mistakes, since that's what keeps things interesting. But there should be solid reasons given for withholding information/not taking action/etc, etc., other than just to extend the story. We can't root for the heroine if we're suddenly rolling our eyes at her all the time.
So this is, once again, a mixed conclusion to a Richelle Mead series. I still enjoy her books quite a lot because they're so darned entertaining--but things never seem to end with my having as much respect for the heroine as I did in the beginning. It is so very disappointing when it appears that readers believe in the characters' self-worth and honor more than their author does.
**My thanks go out to the lovely Flannery for knowing how much I was dying to read this book and being kind enough to share her ARC.**
I have wildly mixed feelings about this book, which is loosely based on the myth of Persephone. I'm not sure I can write a coherent review because I'mI have wildly mixed feelings about this book, which is loosely based on the myth of Persephone. I'm not sure I can write a coherent review because I'm so conflicted, so here goes the pros and cons list.
For the first two thirds of the book:
* I was pretty annoyed with the main character Theia. Stop falling in love with boys just because they're kinda cute, girls! * I really, really disliked Haden. Manipulative, bad-tempered, controlling, stalker-ish guys who try to make girls jealous, especially while (view spoiler)[grinding their hips against other girls during a dance while eye-locked with the main character (hide spoiler)], make me want to resort to violence.
I can't get a handle on the guy. Sometimes he seems so into you, and other times he's...sort of the Antichrist. Exactly!
* I saw no reason for Theia's dialogue to be so stilted. I understand why Haden's was, but speaking with a British accent doesn't mean she has to talk as if she's straight out of some boring 18th century period drama. Even her father's dialogue was less formal than hers. * I got a little tired of all the "Touch me!" "But I can't..." "I want you to!" "You'll die!" "But it's sooo worth it!" drama that kept repeating over and over. * I really didn't buy into the mix of attractive boy/dangerous "man" thing. * I wasn't sure why Haden was so attracted to Theia at first...how many boys are enthralled by spying on a girl playing the violin? Although I did really like the way Theia's hair was described, all gold and caramel curls. Lovely!
* The opening is pretty darned good. Burning man falling from the sky = great visual. * I really, really liked some of Theia's friends--and they were proof that the author could write snappy and unstilted dialogue. Her best friend Donny is hilarious, and I liked Amelia, Gabriel, Mike, etc. as well. All the early interactions between the friends felt very grounded and real, although the roles they play towards the end of the book are less convincing. * Some of the self-deprecating humor took me by surprise. Even while I was rolling my eyes at all the melodramatic stuff that drags on through the first part of the book, I kept going because every once in awhile the author would pop out a surprisingly funny remark that poked fun at what was going on. More of that tone would definitely have improved the book, however.
What really made the book enjoyable to me, though:
* A fantastic villain! When she shows up about two-thirds of the way through, I sat up and paid attention. Her physical being, her arch dialogue, and her evil scheming were all really well done. I wasn't entirely convinced by the (view spoiler)[disguise she takes (hide spoiler)] later on in the book, but I still really liked seeing her. * A big, big sacrifice that is made that I thought was extraordinarily well done. Based on what had come before, I wasn't expecting it to be that emotionally compelling. * The turn of tables (related to the sacrifice) and shift in POV was pretty interesting. * I ended up liking the new and changed Theia quite a lot. There's the backbone we were all waiting for! It's a shame it didn't happen sooner in the storyline. * I love love loved the creepy evil minions. (view spoiler)[Skeletons. Women stitched together with black thread and wobbly heads. Who violently BATHE her. (hide spoiler)] Awesome! Would love to have seen more done with them.
I'm torn between how I felt at the beginning of the book (bored, somewhat annoyed) and the end of the book (really excited and interested), so I'm not really sure whether it's something I'd recommend. I'd say that if you're intrigued by the premise, it's worth a read just so long as you keep your expectations in check. I, for one, will definitely be checking out the next book to see what the new and improved Theia will do.
*Happy happy dance.* For fans the Soul Screamers series, this book will either be everything you want...or everything you feared most. I fall firmly i*Happy happy dance.* For fans the Soul Screamers series, this book will either be everything you want...or everything you feared most. I fall firmly into the "incoherently happy" camp after reading it.
Soul Screamers as a whole is kind of a funny animal. The mythology is pretty unusual and I really like the unique world that Rachel Vincent creates with her banshees, maras, grim reapers, and demon breath. The stories are admittedly fairly straightforward (think Morganville rather than Chicagoland or Vampire Academy) and Kaylee Cavanaugh sometimes seemed very young in the beginning. But as Kaylee's problems became bigger and her relationships with her best friend and her family and her boyfriend became more involved, this somehow became a series that I really, really enjoy. She makes plenty of mistakes, particularly in that last agonizing book My Soul to Steal, but they are ones that you completely understand and sympathize with.
If I Die presents Kaylee with the biggest challenges she's ever faced in her life--she suspects that attractive new math teacher may not be everything he appears to be, she's still fighting her complicated feelings for her possibly irredeemable boyfriend Nash, and to top it off, she receives world-changing news that gives her only a matter of days to put everything right.
I really love Kaylee after this book. One of the things that surprised me is that she meets all of her problems with admirable maturity and sensitivity. There are a number of really difficult situations she has to resolve before time runs out, but instead of being self-pitying or railing against fate, she immediately takes action to help the people around her, all the while remaining true to her emotional self; that's no small feat under the best of circumstances. I'm impressed by the author's frank handling of teen sexuality, which is very um, enthusiastically present in this book but written with exactly the right amount of excitement and humor and gravity. Most importantly, it's also included in the right context of Kaylee's life.
I'm also really happy with the way the author handled the tricky situation with Kaylee's relationship with her boyfriend. Nash was previously hooked on demon breath and his ex-girlfriend the evil Sabine complicated things further. Nash's behavior, particularly (view spoiler)[how he dealt with his ex and the terrible, terrible thing he did to compel Kaylee (hide spoiler)], changed Kaylee's perception of him irrevocably, and the author does a terrific job of showing how agonizing and sad it is when feelings and priorities change with time. Anyone who read the excellent Soul Screamers short Reaper also knows the complicated story behind what Nash's brother Tod has done for him and will be thrilled to see Tod finally being present in the book in a big way. Fangirl moment: (view spoiler)[Yaaaay! At last at last at last. I'm so happy with where this story went. :D (hide spoiler)]
If you haven't read the series, it's one that is extremely entertaining and matures in surprising ways with its protagonist. And if you're already a fan of the series, well...this latest installment hooks you from the very first chapter. It's important to read this as quickly as possible so that major plot developments aren't accidentally spoiled for you, since this is a game-changing book--so don't wait too long! You're in for an awesome ride.
1.5 stars The pitch for this book is fabulous, and it's easy to see why it got the green light: a group of beautiful girls, loosely based on the Greek1.5 stars The pitch for this book is fabulous, and it's easy to see why it got the green light: a group of beautiful girls, loosely based on the Greek Furies, punishes teenagers for their indiscretions. Add to that an insanely gorgeous cover using a model with glorious red hair in a flowing dress, and most people are going to be irresistibly drawn to it. I know I was. Even now when I look at this beautiful girl on the cover, I want so badly to forgive her for her toxic contents. But I can't do it, my lovely girl. I just can't.
The marketing package is actually very misleading. From the synopsis and cover art, I expected a fairly typical paranormal YA novel, but what's inside is actually much closer to horror-lite. Emily and Chase are both doing naughty, naughty things during winter break, and most of the book follows one drawn-out example after the other of all the dirty little things that kids can get up to. Emily's lusting after her best friend's boyfriend Zach. Chase is constantly looking for his next hook-up and may have been involved in the death of a girl last year. Pretty much all the teens in this town have some sort of sin to atone for, with the exception of the near-saintly, handy-car-service-provider J.D.
The Furies themselves are mostly just...pretty. Seriously, there is more time spent on descriptions of their physical beauty and their clothes and the red orchids they leave behind than on any real attempt to teach anyone a lesson. Because their lessons mostly involve luring people to their deaths, which isn't really helpful to anyone. Sure, the women in the original myths meted out death like candy, but they were also monstrously ugly and their stories were really short. If you're going to expect us to sit through several hundred pages of relentless pursuit and punishment, there has to be some sort of sympathetic quality in the main characters or some sort of redemption or justice in their deaths. And while it's true that nearly every boy in this book is a jerk and nearly every girl acts like a bitch (at least at some point) and the things these kids do are despicable, none of them are things they should actually be killed for.
The writing is inexpert (most of the back story and many events are just told, not shown), the dialogue is uninspired, the story is pretty sketchy and not very well structured, the characters are one-dimensional and mostly there to drive the plot, and the whole set-up just does not work. Why aren't these girls going after kids who have abused animals or pushed someone down the stairs or something like that? Because those scenarios aren't that sexy, that's why. This book is much more interested in exploring cheap, tawdry tricks and melodramatic or titillating scenarios including: (SPOILERS BELOW)
* A boy who casually cruises for hook-ups, timing his appearance at an event so girls have had enough time to get drunk so it helps him score
* A girl who makes out with her best friend's boyfriend, and is caught with her top and bra off (fresh from a shopping trip to Victoria's Secret, of course) by a fellow classmate
* Words like "cock-block" and "slut" are casually thrown around
* Drunk driving and texting
* Numerous near-death events
* Girls throwing coffee in the faces of other girls
There is scene after scene of public humiliation, constant drinking, and disgusting behavior all around. I also despise the use of the word "faggot" for the sake of fluff entertainment, even if the people using it clearly aren't supposed to be.
There is a marginally interesting event towards the end which is clearly the set-up for the next book, but overall, this first installment in the series has very little to recommend it. The only time I've ever felt as turned off by the events in a book or as questioning of its redemptive value is when I went through the equally off-putting House of Night series, although *grits teeth* even that paranormal set-up was complex compared to this one.
I'm sure that like House of Night, this series is going to have its share of fans, however. I personally found Fury to be nothing short of infuriating.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
ETA: Readers who are interested in a great YA version of the Greek Furies myth would do well to check out Shirley Marr's Fury, a superbly plotted, well-written, and darkly funny interpretation of this story....more