The third and final book in Colleen Hoover’s New Adult Slammed series is done. And I, for one, am not sorry to see it go. In fact, don’t let the door...more The third and final book in Colleen Hoover’s New Adult Slammed series is done. And I, for one, am not sorry to see it go. In fact, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Where was my mind? Knee deep in wedding week, that’s where. And I am happy for it to be over. I would ordinarily not continue to read something I was so ambivalent about otherwise. However, I read it so I must review it.
Layken and Will have finally gotten married. During their honeymoon Lake relies upon typical girlish (and foolish) whims and asks Will to tell the story of how they met and what he was thinking about the whole time. Thus starts the biggest “you asked for it” scenario that I have ever read. And why I read it I still don’t know. This book, for all intents and purposes, is 95% identical to book one, Slammed. I thought the sequel, Point of Retreat, was overdoing it. I stand corrected. This is the literal manifestation of the phrase “beating a dead horse”.
Told from Will’s barely-different-than-Layken’s point-of-view we rehash the events of Slammed, just slightly different. I said in my Point of Retreat review that Lake is screamier and Will is punchier? This is what I was referring to; his tendency to hit things out of frustration. I wish I would have gone through and counted the number of times that Will punched something out of anger in this book. I’m sure it was supposed to give him depth but it didn’t work. He just seemed to have unresolved anger issues about anything and everything. And I’ve decided that he should drink more. Because that’s where he’s going if he doesn’t get some proper therapy.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Will. I think were it not for his POV I would never have bothered picking up the second and third books. I’m just annoyed at myself that I got sucked into two books that I didn’t need to read. Hoover focuses too much on details that hold no real power to the overarching structure of the book. She has soft rules when it comes to grammar and she doesn’t do anything new with character development. Oh sure, these characters had moments of growth, but they didn’t grow. And Hoover failed them. The proof is in the pudding when Lake asks Will to hear his point-of-view and then gets angry at him for several moments for telling her what he was actually going through. This shows that despite two years and two massive events between them she has not changed from the immature, self-involved snot that she was in Slammed… and I liked her (for some reason) in Slammed. Strike that, I liked that Hoover actually penned her the appropriate age and not a thirty year old stuck in a teenager’s body (which is the usual approach for seventeen and eighteen year old characters). However, she never progressed beyond this point and she should have considering the traumas that she has had to endure.
Will’s another story entirely. He actually decreased in estimation the further I went with him. And I am officially over it.
This Girl was a waste of reading time. It’s tediously exact, it’s mediocre to begin with, and it’s got nothing to offer a reader.
(And yet, on some level, it was better than book two. Figure that one out.)
Slammed is the first book by debut New Adult author Colleen Hoover. I picked it up on a whim after finding that I am not in the mood for anything heav...more Slammed is the first book by debut New Adult author Colleen Hoover. I picked it up on a whim after finding that I am not in the mood for anything heavy for the next few weeks (Sookie Stackhouse has even proven to be too much). I was immediately drawn into the story and liked the main character, Layken, from the very first page. So I settled into the book and began the tumultuous journey through mid-Michigan, a place I know very well.
Layken is a Texas native newly transported to Ypsilanti, Michigan. Her Father has been dead for almost a year and her Mother is having difficulty making ends meet. She, her Mom, and her little brother, Kel, move to Michigan in hopes to make a fresh, financial start. On the first day there she meets Will, her dashing across-the-street neighbour whose little brother, Caulder, quickly befriends Kel. Layken also finds herself drawn to their family, particularly Will. The two fall into a fast courtship that includes many eye opening experiences. After a night of slam poetry (Will’s passion) Layken and he discover a terrible secret that will keep the two of them apart.
Slammed had me interested until Hoover threw in one plot line that stopped me for a moment – A cancer plot line. Keep in mind that if you have personal experience with watching a loved one die from cancer that this is an important element. I do have personal experience and I usually give up on books that lead down this path as a result. Slammed, however, was not a book that I gave up on despite hitting my auto-shut-off button. Why? It’s very simple – the cancer thread does not dominate the plot line as one thinks it might. It’s more of a clothesline to hang the story on. It happens, and then the story shifts to other, more important focuses. To me it seemed more of an opening device to write a sequel than anything.
So what dominates the rest of the story? Will and Layken’s mutual attraction to one another despite their inability to be with one another. Yeah, it’s a romance. What do you expect? It’s not particularly deep or original, but it was fun and fluffy. And precisely what I needed this week.
Layken got to me a few times. She’s eighteen and still in high school and has that annoying youthful bite to her attitude. For once an author wrote a character of that age that actually seems to be that age (instead of most of the YA heroines who seem impossibly wise beyond their years). Layken is immature. And defiant. And whiny. And selfish. And for those reasons alone she reads as a perfect character of her age and her circumstances that is unused to hardship and not getting what she wants. Yet she isn’t spoiled, just thrown into new directions and uncertain how to proceed. We are witnessing her at the crossroads of her life and Hoover has written this transitional point of new adulthood well. It’s really a coming-of-age story for her. I would almost rather this be marketed as Young Adult rather than New Adult. There’s very little content wise that makes it NA.
Will is almost peripheral in this story, though he certainly dominates the focus of Layken’s obsessive fascinations. Will is Layken’s ultimate If-Only. If only everything were in its proper place than she wouldn’t have to resign herself on losing him. I enjoy reading Will, but when I step back a few paces and really examine the book he’s more one dimensional than I want him to be. I’m hoping that he will improve with the sequel, Point of Retreat, which is told from his point of view.
Other elements I liked about the story; Layken’s newly found best friend, Eddie (who is a girl, self-named after Eddie Izzard), the relationship between the two young friends Kel and Caulder, the minimization of the cancer plot line from the characters (in an attempt to maintain normalcy), and also some of the snark surrounding the cancer plot line. There’s a particularly creative set of Halloween costumes that leaps to mind when considering this statement. The poetry slams were also quite good, though I found the poetry writing to suffer from the law of diminishing returns. The first poem was fantastic but by the time we get to the poetic climax the poems have gotten stale and expected. Perhaps this is owed to the supposed “writers” of said poetry. Let’s just say that poetry written by an eighteen year old is bad and cliche no matter how “good” it is.
Emma was in an accident that has robbed her of her past. While convalescing she is introduced to Declan Burke, her charming and handsome husband whom...more
Emma was in an accident that has robbed her of her past. While convalescing she is introduced to Declan Burke, her charming and handsome husband whom she does not remember. Declan is devoted and attentive but Emma is still having a hard time adjusting post trauma. Haunted by disturbing dreams Emma turns to painting; easily creating lush seascapes that lull her into a false sense of security. When Emma's recovery is deemed acceptable she is sent home to the mountains with Declan. The two fall into an easy partnership with one another but something is off. Emma's dreams still undo her; dreams of the WTC and of a man named Noah. She begins to wonder if her dreams are only that or if they could mean the destruction of her entire world.
This book redefines the phrase "trophy wife". Archetype poses several frightening views of a possible future were women are bought and sold like merchandise. Every mandate about what they do with their bodies is strictly regulated by men. As such a woman's body does not belong to her. It belongs to her husband and he is within his legal rights to do whatever he wants with his property. It is a grim outlook of a future that could someday become reality.
Archetype is a dazzling debut, a very sharp book. It has such a dignified air to it, a beautiful poignancy in the writing. But the beauty is a skin deep mask threatening to expose itself at any moment. Beneath the surface is a haunting, corrosive tension that eats the reader alive. It makes the reader nauseous in the best possible way.
This is one of those books that seeps into your consciousness. It breeds discontent. It forces one to ponder the possible "what if?"… What if this book was true and this grim outlook implied a probably future for women? What if this is what our genders have to look forward to... the selling of sex in the most literal way.
A Study in Silks is a debut Steampunk novel by author Emma Jane Holloway. It releases September 24, 2013. I was fortunate enough to obtain an advanced...more A Study in Silks is a debut Steampunk novel by author Emma Jane Holloway. It releases September 24, 2013. I was fortunate enough to obtain an advanced reader copy last week.
Evelina Cooper is a young girl with a strange upbringing. Raised under a circus tent she is excited to enter her first season in London society. While staying with a friend in the fashionable district a grisly murder occurs. Evelina’s curiosity is piqued. She is the niece to the infamous detective Sherlock Holmes, and she believes that she can resolve the murder with her own deductive skills. Further investigation into the crime reveals a seedy underside; a London where steam barons and mechanized gadgetry hold real power and nothing is what it seems.
This is one of those books that I would have preferred to be in a better mood during the read, though I enjoyed the tone of it immensely. I have had several diversions going on in my personal life so I couldn’t afford to devote as much time as I wanted to. What I liked about this book was the overall spunk of the heroine, Evelina. I find her to be a perfect mixture of character, charm, and wit. She’s a natural follow up for Holmes in these types of gaslight mysteries.
Where this book looses the reader is in its multiple narrative paths. A Study in Silk is told in third person. I really wanted it to be written in first because I like Evelina that much. The quickly moving perspectives are jarring and hard to follow. I would have preferred for this book to have a few less characters to develop the story. By the time it would cycle around to someone I wanted to read again I often did not remember who they were and would have to go back in the text to recall their details. It didn’t help that there is an element of dramatic irony within one of the perspectives that adds more confusion than tension.
The romantic plot lines were delicious. For the first time ever during a book I was impatient for the triangle to emerge. In recent days love triangles are so old hat, but this one I enjoyed.
I think I may have to reread this when I am in a better place for it. I loved the Steampunk/Gaslight elements to it, and the book is perfect for fans of Gail Carriger. For me though it’s a 3 out of 5 star book. But were I more in the mood for it the book would have been a solid four.
Point of Retreat is the second book in the New Adult Slammed series by Colleen Hoover. I read the first book a few weeks ago when I needed something l...more Point of Retreat is the second book in the New Adult Slammed series by Colleen Hoover. I read the first book a few weeks ago when I needed something lighter-handed leading up to my wedding. Despite an intense plot line in book one I knew that Hoover’s handling of the material would prove to be a good fit with my mood. And I was not mistaken.
The problem? This book was not as fun as the first book. But I know why. Allow me to explain.
Layken Cohen and Will Cooper have gone through an extreme experience with each other. Following the death of Lake’s mother, Julia, due to lung cancer. Now the two are managing a relationship with one another while raising their respective younger brothers, both without their parents. And it’s all going swimmingly until a woman from Will’s past threatens their happiness. Lake cannot get over Will’s ex and insist that he evaluates their relationship by giving him time apart. Will does not want to lose Lake and will do anything to keep her. Even reconsider his feelings about his ex.
So, once again it’s a romance, and an absurd one at that. Once again the two have to find one another. And once again there is poetry (though not as much). And, once again, there’s a dramatic event that prevents the two from consummating their love.
Sound familiar? It is. In fact, it’s a repeat of the entire first book, Slammed, with minor tweaking on details. Structurally, it’s the exact same book. Will’s just not Lake’s teacher now. And the sexual tension is patterned the same from book one. And Lake is still immature and inexperienced. And the only difference is that it’s told from Will’s point-of-view… who is virtually the same voice as Lake. Only punchier instead of screamier.
Will punches when he’s angry and Lake shouts and rants and raves to solve her problems. I get it. That’s what I learned from this book. And that’s about all.
The couple of elements that I wanted more of that would have brought this book up for me were more muted than book one – The Poetry slams and the side characters. Eddie, Lake’s best friend, is a bore in this book. There is not enough of her and I missed her fire. Surprisingly, I also missed Julia, Lake’s mother. Hoover included her in spirit in a great way but she did something that annoyed me – she added a child named Kiersten with a very similar Julia/Eddie personality. And it was very obvious that she did it to supplement a dead (and a might-as-well-have-been dead) character’s personality.
This makes me think that Hoover’s formula for book one is the only thing she knows how to write. And this worries me, because against my better judgement I actually liked this series enough to read book three (shocker, I know). But I can’t even tell you why I did. Because there is not even enough here to string me along for that long.
But I went onto book three. So that says something.
I blame wedding week. It would have never happened otherwise. And what happens in wedding week stays in wedding week. Including these books.
(Please don’t judge.)
Oh, and another thing – The inclusion of Will’s ex was poor. And the reason for the additional sexual tension between them… touching, but also poor. I understand, but it was still weak. And unnecessarily melodramatic. And sappy.
A Wounded Name is a debut novel by Dot Hutchison releasing this September. The book is a contemporary retelling of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. I'm g...more
A Wounded Name is a debut novel by Dot Hutchison releasing this September. The book is a contemporary retelling of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. I'm going to presume that many of you know the original story so I will not completely rehash it. I prefer instead to talk about Hutchison's brilliant take on it. The book is told in first person from Ophelia's point of view as she shares the events leading up to the tragic end of the Prince of Denmark. It is a title that I expect to hear more about, particularly since the early responses have been so favorable. I'm not even going to tease on this one - I loved it... every word. I thought it was fantastic.
This book... wow... this book.
Ophelia Castellan has always feared that she would succumb to her dead Mother's legacy, a grim future of madness and promiscuity. The fears are not isolated to her alone. Her Father, Polonius, and older brother, Laertes, maintain an ever-watchful vigilance over both Ophelia's virtue and sanity. But they never factored Hamlet Danemark VI, known as Dane to his friends, into the equation.
Dane's father, the head of the illustrious Elsinore Academy, has died suddenly. This sends Elsinore into an uproar, but none are as shattered as Dane. Dane is stricken by this and in his grief he turns to Ophelia for comfort. This single act sets off a series of events that will draw them both to the brink of madness and beyond, particularly when Dane comes to learn that his father's death may have been prevented.
I was immediately drawn into the world that Hutchison was painstakingly recreating. Within a page I knew that I was going to like her style. Her writing is solid, beautiful, and rife with deliciously quotable passages. Her use of metaphor and word-play is perfect. I found myself rereading lines and sharing them aloud to others amazed that this was her first novel. The level of craftsmanship that went into this is unbelievable. It's obvious that this book has been a labour of love for her. It shows with every nuance in characterization, with the attention to thematic elements, and, most importantly, in the wild, runaway chemistry between Ophelia and Dane.
Here Ophelia is gorgeously rendered; the dynamic woman of myth and fantasy that Shakespeare only hinted at. Hutchison gives her so many new levels - she's troubled, she's sneaky, she's loyal and she's kind. She's also devoted and strong and weak and knows her limitations. She is the heart and soul of the play and in this book she finally gets the spotlight that she has deserved for the last four centuries. One feels every emotion as if they were there with her, holding her hand and spurning her into the water yourself. My heart broke repeatedly for her with every foreshadowed allusion to her end and then broke again... and again... and again.
There's a chaotic beauty to her relationship with Dane. Dane himself is a masterpiece of characterization, a wondrous glitch. Dane is the kind of man that a reader sympathizes with despite his obvious and distasteful flaws. Dane is self-absorbed, he's singularly minded, and he's manipulative without realizing that he is. He's the ultimate user and Ophelia is merely the drug that he abuses... and abuses her he does, both mentally and physically. There are some haunting, brutal, painful scenes in this book. And yet the reader forgives him just as Ophelia does, accepts that he has his problems, and let's him get away with his callous whims. It's not that he's a particularly good boyfriend or anything, far from it. He's gets away with murder... until he doesn't. And he drags Ophelia along for the ride, every tragic turn of it.
This is the love story that I love to read; a doomed one. I'm a sucker for torturous beauty and impossibilities when it comes to romantic plot lines. To me there is no better romantic ending than two lovers who don't live happily ever after. This play has always fulfilled that element for me in multiple ways. Hutchison's execution of this tragedy goes beyond my expectations. I gritted my teeth for the entire book but my lips were still smiling. It's such a rough ride but it's worth every heart-wrenching, aching second. I'm not sure who Hutchison was writing this book for but I swear she was directing it at my kind. I'm so in love with her words.
I encourage fans of Laini Taylor, April Lindner, and Tessa Gratton to go immediately and pre-order this book. I think you won't be disappointed. This is a definite favourite of the year. It's going on my shelves and never leaving them.