This was just 'meh' for me. It is a quick, plot driven read with high school characters that are geared toward the younger end of the YA scale. I woulThis was just 'meh' for me. It is a quick, plot driven read with high school characters that are geared toward the younger end of the YA scale. I would categorize it as a 'teen' read. In order to avoid too much explanation or creativity, many things in the plot take an expected path for the sake of convenience and quick explanation. It's all too neat and the timing is too perfect to really give it the punch it needs to hold tension and intrigue. The character development is a little strange, especially the BFF, an amazon muse slapped with an aggressive stereotypical Italian personality. From meatballs to the over use of "confessional" catholic rantings, I got a bit bored and found myself doing the 'eye roll'.
This one just wasn't for me and although, I read it quickly, it left little lasting impression besides another plot-driven disappointment that takes the easy way out by grabbing at stereotypes and inserting some paranormal (and not knowledgable) elements to sell because those are "hot" "popular" items in the book market at the moment. ...more
For me this was just ok. It's a lot of confusing, searching for answers while running for your life busy. Of course, things work out - sort of. No reaFor me this was just ok. It's a lot of confusing, searching for answers while running for your life busy. Of course, things work out - sort of. No real surprises or major twists. I just wasn't feeling it. The plot line is rather basic and is similar to many YA formulas. Also, gray jello power pellets stood out as odd to me. The convenient introduction was just too...well, convenient for me to totally accept. Almost seemed silly. ...more
Included at the end of A Fatal Likeness is an author's note that goes into detail about the research and idea for the book. I must say, I appreciate tIncluded at the end of A Fatal Likeness is an author's note that goes into detail about the research and idea for the book. I must say, I appreciate the conception, along with the research and development. The perspective is a visionary undertaking. Undoubtedly, the constructing of this piece was no easy task!
However, simply compiling information and arranging neat pieces with good editing does not make a story great. In my opinion, A Fatal Likeness lacks the electricity it truly needs to jolt this one to life. Given the baited mystery and intriguing subject matter, the telling of this version is remarkably flat and academic. The text is tired, and tries too hard to seem authentic and as a result, the characters suffer unjustly.
Since several characters had the same name i.e. Mrs. Shelley (we have three or four?), the individual voices and points of reference (time shifts) are critical to establish. Unique distinction through dialogue is essential and needs to be immediate for recognition. Unfortunately, this is lacking, which results in confusion. I had a difficult time, especially when coupled with picking up and putting down the book, establishing which family or Mrs. Shelley the narrator was talking to or about. Was this a flashback, an interview or present time? At first, I thought this was my fault and resulted from interrupted reading, but after awhile I became frustrated and often had to back up to get grounded. This truly takes the momentum, suspense and mystery out of a story and often, I just felt disoriented. The prolonged flatness of the characters killed it for me. I really lost interest and by the end, empathy. If I was not reading this book for review, it would have ended up in my DNF (did-not-finish) pile at the 50% page mark.
With such juicy characters to work with, I'm surprised at how chaste, tedious and dry this read actually is. Overall, a rather boring and disappointing historical fiction....more
I'm feeling a little like Switzerland when it comes to this book, neutral. I'm neither loving or disliking it. It's a middle of the road kind of readI'm feeling a little like Switzerland when it comes to this book, neutral. I'm neither loving or disliking it. It's a middle of the road kind of read for me. Yep, totally sitting on the fence with this one and using as many cliche metaphors as possible. Perhaps, I'm getting numb to the redundancy of YA genre books, but as much as I want to say more -- there really isn't anything new to see here. As the synopsis states, you get an outcast girl who happens to be intriguingly beautiful (I know, this is so weird, right?) who discovers she has powers and attracts a forbidden handsome beau. It's fate, destiny or in this case prophecy. A little bit of Buffy meets Twilight with a snowboarding scene. I'm afraid nothing was heart-grabbing, eye-catching or thrilling, but also it wasn't terrible. This one just lingered in the realm of mediocracy the entire way through for me. Bloodspell is like a dish that will fill you up, but not be a memorable dining experience. You know, it's safe, like ordering the chicken breast with green beans when you really want the chipotle steak topped with refried black bean sauce and forbidden sour cream with a fat side slice of cornbread. Who's hungry?...more
It's true, I'm a sucker for this type of book/genre. My inner Buffy fangirl longs for paranormal high school drama presented in the delicious form ofIt's true, I'm a sucker for this type of book/genre. My inner Buffy fangirl longs for paranormal high school drama presented in the delicious form of paperback fiction. Some elements in the structure of Pretty Dark Nothing are cliche and share the usual formulaic plot line and character development similar to competing books on the market i.e. love triangle, popular girl with a crisis, jock, cheerleader, bitchy mean girl and the classic brooding musician bad boy. What makes this book stand a part is the subtle differences, including death as a stalker.
The eerily haunting descriptions are gripping and goosebump worthy. There is just enough of a dark veil drawn to turn the story into a hallway of horrors. Plus, Quinn doesn't possess any super power that she can call upon to battle demons. In fact, she is a hot mess most of the time and very vulnerable. Throw in Azazel, the evil spirit of the wilderness to whom a scapegoat was sent on the Day of Atonement or for those non-Christians, the prince of demons, and you've got a thematic twist of mythical proportion. This is what I like to refer to as adding depth to a seemingly basic and well-exhausted plot structure. Quinn has two options: live or die. She is tested throughout the story by deceit, abandonment, betrayal, physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation, humiliation...and the list goes on. In the end, she is given a choice despite it all -- Ah, the old free will card is tossed on the table.
Making the larger connection: We all have demons whispering in our ears, some are louder than others. To fight or to give in? This is a struggle humanity faces every single day. This is what makes for a good and powerful story, when the reader can connect and relate fiction to real life--to see the parallels and ask questions. The moral isn't laid out and it takes some pondering to feel the true inner workings of the story. Reid delivers contemplation in a way that is entertaining, engaging, exciting, discussion-worthy and spooky as Hell....more
Whew-eee! It takes a lot to make me shudder, but this book did just that! I guarantee The Darkling will give you goosebumps on the warmest of summer dWhew-eee! It takes a lot to make me shudder, but this book did just that! I guarantee The Darkling will give you goosebumps on the warmest of summer days. Probably not the best bedtime read, unless you want some seriously creepy dreams. The southern setting coupled with a mystery and predatory evil makes it beautifully macabre. The story preys on universal fears and makes use of horror culture, such as the woods, monster under the bed and the timely arrival of an innocent stranger. It might sound cliche, but what makes this novel special is how the events are delivered, through the girth of character. Writing a good horror is harder than one might think (hence, why some end up almost humorous). The author must be aware of what scares people and why. Tension and timing is fundamental and withholding just enough to let the imagination provide the special effects is essential. Lack in these areas and the horror fizzles. Chesterton proves to be an expert and delivers a chilling tale that makes the reader think twice about going for a nice walk in the woods after dinner.
The woods? Really? Everyone knows that something is going to happen, right? You may think you know what is coming, but a few twists might prove any skeptic wrong. Suddenly, every place and every person night or day, is fair game. How does Chesterton manage this? By understanding what ultimately frightens people. In this case, fear of being loved, control, helplessness, powerlessness and insecurity. Here, the thematic horror runs deeper than any ghastly gore splattered on the wall. It's the threat of undoing that is terrifying and I believe most readers will relate. If you were gleefully disturbed by or got the 'willies' from the horror movies The Omen or Orphan (Eeesssttteeerrr), then The Darklingis right up your dark alley....more
This is the second book I've read by Kate Ellison (See review of her newly released Notes from Ghost Town), and I was not disappointed! What Ellison dThis is the second book I've read by Kate Ellison (See review of her newly released Notes from Ghost Town), and I was not disappointed! What Ellison does remarkably well is portray flawed, and uniquely constructed characters. She truly digs in and reveals the details that make each one special. Without overwhelming the story with lengthy describes or extraneous details, every character is present, whether they are a main or support cast. It really does take great skill and craft to not neglect those less-than-starring roles. From the Prophet, to Sapphire, to the bouncer at the club, the reader will receive a vivid, richly-developed insight into their worlds and who these people were. Through Ellison's effort, it's nearly impossible not to care or invest in the story, and dare I say, journey into Neverland?
Need more praise to be convinced? Well, okay! I've got gobs to share! This modern day twist(ed) Peter Pan-like thematic awesomeness is worth the bus ticket. Who needs to fly when you can hitch a ride on the Cleveland Public Transit? But...I diverge, back to the praising! What Ellison also grasps, conveys, brings attention to, and humanizes is mental illness. After reading both books (although different), the author has found her niche in relating and characterizing varying aspects of the mentally ill theme. What I love about how she communicates the subject is she does not simply draw upon sympathy, cliches, stereotypes or generalizations, but rather 'shows' through situation, relationship and every day life. She's great at causing chaos at just the right moment to reveal exactly what she needs to. I like that she doesn't take the after-school-special approach. The grit makes it raw and compelling.
I highly recommend picking up both of Ellison's books, The Butterfly Clues and Notes From Ghost Town. These young adult reads are deeply thematic and relevant, but without the sappy sympathy. There is a wonderful strength, courage, awkwardness, and just the right amount of teen naivety characterized in her female leads to make them enduring, frustrating (at times), but never pathetic. ...more
My Ex From Hell is more like the fan fiction-esque book from hell. This won't push the YA boundaries, but leans towards the tween/teen category. HonesMy Ex From Hell is more like the fan fiction-esque book from hell. This won't push the YA boundaries, but leans towards the tween/teen category. Honestly, all you have to do is read the synopsis and you'll get a good understanding of what's to come. The sarcasm, geek teen talk and over-the-top humorist approach is splattered all over the back cover. If you think, "Hey, this totally relates to my inner high-schooler," and can't wait to read more of the same for the next 272 pages, then snag this one and do the Harlem Shuffle all the way to the checkout.
It's no little secret that I'm a big fan of sarcasm. I think it has a place, time and most importantly, a delivery. It can't be used on every page and in every situation, unless you're a cynical bore. I believe when using clever comic relief it needs to be carefully timed for optimal punch. In this story, there is comic vomit, so much so, that nothing can be taken seriously, which greatly reduces character credibility and the potential for an actual meaningful story.
Then...sigh...here comes the easy, cookie cutter plot. Take the basic Harry Potter set up, change the gender of the characters and insert a different magical, mythological world and PRESTO! you've got another boarding school magical adventure, year one. Instead of teachers, it's guidance counselors turning into bad guy creatures. Missing students need to be saved and conveniently, the teen heroes live at an isolated boarding school that is protected from harm (sort of).
Due to the writing style, absurd amount of comic saturation and teen ridiculousness, I felt this book was more fan fiction than novel. In the current form, it'd work better as a running blog story. If you like fan fiction, you might enjoy this book. However, I was less than impressed....more
3.5 stars If you read the synopsis for this book at Goodreads (it is different at Netgalley), you'll notice it is a lot longer and pretty much reveals3.5 stars If you read the synopsis for this book at Goodreads (it is different at Netgalley), you'll notice it is a lot longer and pretty much reveals a great deal of the story. I decided to clip and snip it. I'm hoping the final released copy will be shaped up into something more eye-catching. I'm not a fan of the long-winded, detailed back cover. I suppose some readers enjoy this, but in my opinion, it gives too much away. Honestly, after reading the cliff notes, why bother to read the book? So, I did a little editing to give you a taste.
Putting that aside, Unhallowed Ground by Gillian White is a tale that creeps along climaxing in horror. The chills are slow-growing and the eeriness builds over the pages. The cast is packed full of weird English people that all seem like probable suspects. However, this is a predictable misdirect and any experienced mystery/horror reader will pick up on it immediately. Likely, you won't figure out the culprit until the end simply because you're never introduced or given the opportunity to put them on the list. The person is unknown not only to the main character, but also the reader. Withholding is a tactic, and it isn't too bad in this case, but the reveal and sudden ending happens so quickly that it might be a bit hard to digest. Considering the tension and attentive detailing throughout the entire book, I was somewhat flustered when the final curtain dropped.
Thematically, there is a lot going on including: abuse, loyalty, love, lifestyle, friendship etc. The psychological character development is outstanding. Setting detail and tension building are excellently crafted. My only gripe is the whodunnit twist and final outcome. To make this story truly great, Unhallowed Ground needed to drop a line and tie in the hook better for a more powerful and thematically relevant ending. Otherwise, why do all the work during the set up if it's just going to turn into a plot driven action at the end?
The cast of oddballs are all provided with background for their traits and behaviors, which are readily revealed throughout the story. Well, all except for two, and they just happen to be the trigger and suspect. Their weirdness and relationship with the surroundings and people involved crave a more defined reasoning for cause and effect if understanding and/or sympathy is to be achieved....more
Clair de Lune focuses on the innocence of a pre-war generation, both locally, globally and socially. There is a longing for what was, and a dread of wClair de Lune focuses on the innocence of a pre-war generation, both locally, globally and socially. There is a longing for what was, and a dread of what is to come -- the inevitable change. It also dips into the realm of boundaries not just separated by age, but influenced by position, power, gender and career. Although Allen is close in age with her students, she struggles with her new position at the university and the proper student-teacher relationship. What's relevant is how it might play out today. Are her actions scandalous or more harmless given her age? What trumps proper behavior, age or paycheck?
Where it falls short for me is that given the philosophical struggles and controversial implications, the story does not seize the potential moments to really punch the points. This is more of a going through the daily motions with little resolution or heighten tension. Sure, there are parts where we get a tremor of trouble, but they are not pushed to the limit and held to really create the effect I was hungry for.
Then, the biggest disappointment of all comes at the end. The ending or rather where the story just stops occurs! Did anyone else feel this way? It just ended with a slight shoulder shrug and an oh well, that was kinda fun feeling. I suppose this lends toward the Bohemian effect that the author was trying to instill in the book, along with the attitudes of the characters, but I found it abrupt and unsatisfying. I literally turned the page and said (out loud), "That's it!?" I don't like putting down a book with the thought that I just wasted my time, but admittedly, the thought crossed my mind after finishing Clair de Lune. Overall impression: A tepid cup of Earl Gray tea...more