***3.5 stars altogether***. After the first nothing-is-actually-happening chapter I was almost ready to throw the towel, but resolved to go on reading...more***3.5 stars altogether***. After the first nothing-is-actually-happening chapter I was almost ready to throw the towel, but resolved to go on reading, because Anna had delighted me and Lola had entertained me to a satisfying degree.
After the 30% mark it got definitely more interesting and offered a lot more pull. Suddenly problems popped up on paradise and the sibling-stuff hinted at at earlier points of the plot got more prominent and held identification potential. Also I cannot really complain about a lack of heartthrob. Josh didn't particularly wow me as a person, but the chemistry was unmistakably there.
That said, I'd like to mention two thoughts concerning the trip to Barcelona:
1) I know, that this is a rich kids story about Americans thriving in a posh boarding school with hotel-style breakfast. But somehow I resent a little that a romantic weekend of fictional American teenagers can only be prefect when it is located in an expensive hotel and shows the lovers not having to think about trivial things like taxi fares or entrance fees, room service or spontaneously acquired umbrellas. For instance the entrance fee to the Sagrada Familia including the elevator to the top, where you can see the mentioned dove-decorated Christmas tree, costs an arm and a leg. And still Isla and Josh seem to have enough pocket money to plan their next trip - to costly Switzerland, right the weekend after the next - without the bread-earners in their families noticing their expenses.
2) There is that scene in which the narrator explains about European students and their living at home instead of moving out into dormitories, in order to save money. This is given as the reason for a young Spanish couple having sex in a shrubbery of a public park densely populated with tourists. Well, I cannot speak for Spain. Maybe it's different because a lot of families are catholic, but in my experience in my country, students who stay at home do not really have to fear having a reduced/monitored sex-life. On the contrary: I have never heard of anybody having to resort to backseat-sex or other things we see in US movies. To illustrate my point: Not long ago two of my colleagues each reported at lunch that their teenaged offspring had announced their first boyfriend/girlfriend would soon stay over on a regular basis. And what did those parents do? Buy larger mattresses for their son's/daughter's room, of course.
I close my non-review with a question: What the hell happened to Josh's damaged tendons? In the beginning Perkins made it seem as if there was a disability looming ahead that would cripple the love interest's career options and thus his shot at having a fulfilling, artistic existence in a life-changing way, but apart from some ouchy moments at cuddly-times that initial scare turned out to be a dead alley that wasn't meant to be walked. Did anybody else feel cheated/mislead on purpose? Or did you put it down as a forgotten thread that the editors overlooked when cleaning up?
Pre-reading assessment: Ahh, Isla. The petite redhead? I am looking forward impatiently.(less)
*** Read and reviewed on May 14th 2009, re-read on March 5th 2014 ***
This is so good ... and now I am waiting again!
The second part in the "Darkest Po...more*** Read and reviewed on May 14th 2009, re-read on March 5th 2014 ***
This is so good ... and now I am waiting again!
The second part in the "Darkest Powers Trilogy" is basically a road movie. A diverse bunch of naturally supernatural - and genetically altered - kids are running for their lives, because the adults whose guinea-pigs they are, decided to end the experiment and terminate the subjects.
The book starts in the middle of the attempted flight and ends with the - temporary - end of it. But, wow what a roller coaster! Although there is danger after danger, ghost after zombie after spell duel, the story remains believable and the characters real: Bickering, bratty witch Tori, puberty-hit werewolf Derek (with acne, anger-issues, wolfish stink, excruciatingly painful and puke-enhanced half-transformations), brave, unsure and compassionate necromancer Chloe and Simon, a diabetic womanizing sorcerer.
I especially like the non-perfectness of everybody. For example, although the kids decide to call a truce and stop bitching against each other, Tori fails to keep her tongue in check. Although Chloe starts to like Derek more and more for himself as the story progresses and to appreciate her ability to talk freely of her anxieties to him, she still notices his flaws in appearance and is flattered by beautiful Simon's attentive flirtation.
Kelley Armstrong really did a wonderful thing, when she decided to go for young adult fiction. I can't wait to read "The Reckoning" next year.(less)
*** Finished for the first time on August 2. 2009 *** Waaaagh, such a cliff-hanger ending ... and I will have to wait for the second volume at least u...more*** Finished for the first time on August 2. 2009 *** Waaaagh, such a cliff-hanger ending ... and I will have to wait for the second volume at least until May.
Kelley Armstrong's first attempt at the young adult genre worked just fine. It has wonderful, believable characters (who doesn't applaud Armstrong for creating someone like Derek in an era full of unblemished, irresistable heartthrob heroes?), supernatural elements and is thickly layered in thrills: Ghost-seeing Chloe Sanders lands in a closely monitored, posh boarding-school for mentally ill teenagers and is quickly diagnosed as being schizophrenic. When getting to know her fellow inmates and their unique problems better, she starts to doubt anybody attending Lyle House is really ill. Can it be coincidence that all six teenagers have supernatural tendencies or is somebody playing down things deliberately and using their otherness for his or her own mysterious means?
In contrast to funny and down to earth mediator Suze (Cabot), who I adore as well, this book's heroine really is living through hell. She believes herself sick, takes her medicine, is confined to a house with a sound alarm system and no one sincere enough to trust, does not know how to deal with ghosts repeating their death scenes over and over and is afraid her friends in school have noticed her freaking out and being shipped off to hospital.
3.5 stars. I do not really know exactly why I enjoy stories that picture girls masquerading as men so much – I do not mean stories that focus on girls...more3.5 stars. I do not really know exactly why I enjoy stories that picture girls masquerading as men so much – I do not mean stories that focus on girls feeling wrong in their own female skins, but plots that show girls cross-dressing because their gender would be an unacceptable obstactle to doing what they want or what they have to do (like spy work, having a career or evading a certain unwelcome fate). For instance, I loved Alle halten mich für einen Jungen, in which 12-years-old Simone just doesn’t dare to contradict the teacher introcuding her to her new classmates, Star-Crossed, in which the heroine applies for a job as a ship’s surgeon after her master dies and leaves her jobless, Freedom Beyond the Sea, which shows a jewish girl fleeing the Spanish Inquisition as a hand on Christopher Columbus’ ship, the historical romance The Spy and the manga series W Juliet, Volume 1... plus I have to admit I almost became addicted to the Korean drama The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince when I watched it two years ago: I felt compelled to watch episode after episode although night had already set in and I had plans for the day after.
In Babe in Boyland a lot of the possible, awkward situations that might occur when a girl pretends to be a boy in an boys-only-boarding-school were covered and I liked the conveyed message that we all have different sides to us that we broadcast in the company of different people and that the conviction of really knowing someone is mostly founded by what our own interaction with the person in question triggers. Plus, The heroine and her two best friends were rather cute and the love interest was hot and nice.
Still, Babe in Boyland was not perfect as a girl-in-boys’-clothes-book. It reminded me a lot of the Japanese drama version of the popular manga series Hana-Kimi, Volume 1, which I enjoyed considerably more inspite of all the unnecessary twists and turns and silly side-plots a manga-based TV-series is inherently prone to. In both stories the supposed new boy falls for her roommate. And in both plots this leads to interesting dilemmas. But the scenes in the drama were more vivid, more romantic, more awkward. They pushed the dangerous whoa-she-almost-blew-the-cover angst at me with a firmer shove and made me wonder if the „real“ boy, who tended to react grumpy or moody, but sometimes a little tender, was having difficulties at keeping himself from being attracted to someone he thought to be a guy.
But a non-perfect book is by no means a book that is not good or not recommendable. So if you like light and short chicklitty romances that involve a little cross-dressing, cute boys, friendship, Shakespearean drama and a teenaged heroine, who shows some character development, I show you you both my thumbs turned upwards. Babe in Boyland provided my with some much-needed fun hours and a wonderful respite from wading through an endless historical fantasy that entirely revolves around sex and dark obsessions. (less)
"Yucko"". That is the heroine's favorite word. And it fits, a bit. However, if I were to blurb the paranormal sleutheress boarding-school romance ""To...more"Yucko"". That is the heroine's favorite word. And it fits, a bit. However, if I were to blurb the paranormal sleutheress boarding-school romance ""Touch of Frost"" I would say ""Likable, but in the direct vicinity of 'meh'"".
I feel a little bit like venting, but I am in bed with a cold. So, please excuse me for amassing random thoughts here instead of a structured review:
- English is not my mother tongue. Therefore I am always happy to pick up additional tidbits that help me to understand and use it better. While reading ""Touch of Frost"", I learned that ""purple hoodie"" is actually a composite word. The same might be true for ""violet eyes"", a narrower term being ""my violet eyes"". The broader term can be found sixteen times within this series' starter volume. Both can be used in sentences of remarkable literary value, i.e.: ""So I just stared at him, my feelings for him so obvious in my violet eyes."" The only way Gwenny could be so unwaveringly sure of the expressability of her Frost-Familiy-Brand-Eyes in PANTONE 261C is extensive self-study via mirror... or it might be that the author still has no idea how a first-person-narration is successfully implemented. That might also explain the long, long and kind of repetitive analytical monologues the heroine has in her mind - preferably in the face of imminent danger.
- Connected to the point-of-view is a lot of meta-information that gets dumped on the reader, which is either the result of judging the readers as being too dense to spot the author's applaudable ability to stick to certain paranomal romance or sleuthing-story formula on the dot on his or her own or it is a tell-tale-sign of parodistic writing. I tend to go with the first possibility. Gwendolyn actually tells us ""Everything about Logan screamed bad boy, from the thick, silky, ink-black hair to his intense ice blue eyes to the black leather jacket that highlighted his broad shoulders."" A thousand things just feel ""off"" to the heroine, which certainly makes her investigate. But then she misses some important clues. And in case the reader has not just noticed that things are a tad too obvious here and the heroine has a plot-lengthening moment, she emphasises her own being behind: ""I felt a memory stirring in my subconscious. Something to do with illusions. Something that I'd seen or heard or read or thought about in the last few days. Something that was important."" Well, duh.
- In addition there is the ""let's-have-a-paranormal-heroine-but-how-on-earth-can-we-make-use-of-her-powers"" dilemma. In ""Touch of Frost"" it is not as bad as in, for example, Clarity. But if the heroine would play her cards, or rather abilities, right, there would be no need for her to admit repeatedly that she is no Veronica Mars. Gwen, whose gift is ""touch magic"" - having visions when touching people or people's objects -, breaks into a room to find clues about a murder, but actually tries to avoid touching most things in there. She takes out a book with a sticky note tacked to a rather relevant looking paragraph, but a day later she has still not tried her power on it. Gwen's reluctance is feebly explained away by her fear of reliving horrible moments or learning secrets without the consent of people she respects, but in the light of solving the case - and the fact, that Gwen earns money by locating lost and sometimes embarrassing stuff - that sounds far-fetched.
- The heroine's ""I-avoid-touching-people"" strategy certainly works beautifully with the ""Save-the-heroine's-virginity-for-the-last-installment-or-forever"" rule most paranormal young adult romance sticks to. Gwenny is even of the unkissed sort and ohhh does she want to make out with the bad, but life-saving boy, but then she would compromise him by learning all his and his family's dirty secrets and probably his hot and dirty thoughts on top. Therefore she takes down her open arms in time, makes a double morron out of herself verbally, has the love interest's half-melted ice-eyes turn to popsicles and does not get a third chance in the end, because by then we have - just in time - switched to the moody-broody ""I-cannot-have-you-know-my-dark-secret-and-my-utterly-ugly-side-yet-although-I-crave-you"" part of the required plot development. Who would have guessed, huh?
That would be all for now. Before you say it, I have to bring it on the table myself: I cannot successfully explain what made me read a paranormal boarding school romance again after so many disappointments. Must have been the high average rating plus the enthusiasm of several of my friends - or my indestructable hope that Enid Blython and J. K. Rowlings cannot be the only ones who were able to pull off addictive stories set in boarding school environments.(less)
Meh-meh. I really think that a bEarding-school story would have been far more orginal than this "followed-all-baking-instructions-for-paranomal-young-...moreMeh-meh. I really think that a bEarding-school story would have been far more orginal than this "followed-all-baking-instructions-for-paranomal-young-adult" boarding-school girly-girl, let's-kiss-the-presumably-hot-and-bad-but-taken warlock, "three-mean-girls-shall-you-be" witchy-washy is.
Please pat me on my back! Finishing this with only skipping half a page now and then took almost all my witch-power for today.(less)
4,5 stars!! I am quite overwelmed by how much I liked Ballad, since after reading Lament I expected a sequel that would also barely make it into the "...more4,5 stars!! I am quite overwelmed by how much I liked Ballad, since after reading Lament I expected a sequel that would also barely make it into the "It-was-enjoyable-but-didn't-touch-me" category. In most cases sequels even take a slight - or not so slight - drop for me. Surprisingly Ballad turned out to be what I wished Lament had been: A beautiful but eerie story in which humans meet dangerous, but alluring and likable faeries. Both worlds are shaken up. Both main characters change because of the encounter. James was the character I liked best in Lament, anyway. And his story told in turns with faerie muse Nuala tucked at my heart strings in a way Deidre's narration would not and could not. (Oh, how I wished for a miracle in the end! A sure sign of success of the author's efforts to engage the reader.) I was so very afraid of Nuala hurting James in the beginning, but after a few chapters she started to grow on me, which is how it should be in my opinion. Ballad, which was featuring Deidre, too, in the form of unsent text messages, confirmed my slight dislike of "the cloverhand" and opened my eyes to why Lament and I could not and did not really click. A short comment on the cover: It fits "like a fist on an eye" as we would say in German.
P.S.: I am sorry, Jessi, for stowing Ballad away on my keepers shelf after having set up your hope. Borrowing is certainly possible ;-).(less)