Maura would say "That's the universe calling for you on line two, Orla" or something like that [...]. In the next room over, Orla was talking to eith...moreMaura would say "That's the universe calling for you on line two, Orla" or something like that [...]. In the next room over, Orla was talking to either her boyfriend or one of the psychic hotline callers. With Orla it was difficult to tell the difference between the two sorts of calls. Both of them left Blue thinking she ought to shower afterwards.
”The Raven Boys” has been one of the books I anticipated so much that I placed a pretty early preorder on the hardcover. And, if you look at my status updates, you can see that I breezed through it in practically no time, because I did enjoy reading it and did not want to read other books in between in order to wait for my group of reading buddies to catch up.
Right from the start I loved heroine Blue Sargent, the likeably different non-psychic in a small-town, all-female household of delightfully wacky, but genuine tarot-card-reading fortune-tellers, without reserve and glued myself to her every move. Her family was like a mix of the Obermeiers in “Olfi Obermeier und der Ödipus” and the Delaneys in “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney”, but in contrast to the hero and the heroine in the before mentioned novels, Blue feels perfectly comfortable being her mother’s offspring and contributes to her family’s business, too: Her presence is like an amplifier for everything spiritual, magical and life-energy-related. Blurry visions get clearer, spirit voices get louder and ley line energy flows freely when Blue is in the vicinity. I looked extremely forward to the possibility of wonderful Blue falling in love with a boy and struggling hard against her emotions, because her cards again and again predicted the too-early demise of a boy she will kiss. I was eager to meet the mysterious boy who had only one year or less to live: The doomed boy, whose spirit appeared to Blue on St. Mark’s Eve on corpse road.
And here is where my rainbow-colored balloon was condemned to slowly deflate: Although mystery boy Gansey and his friends Adam, Ronan and Noah, who - like him - are Ivy-League-bound students of the prestigious, private boarding-school Aglionby, are far from being cardboard characters, I didn’t fall for them at all. Their sharp angles and their unique edges failed to evoke my interest and their Holy-Grail-like quest to locate the exact route of one of three criss-crossing ley lines, and consequently the secret burying ground of the corpse of the Welsh legend Glendower, seemed pretty random, forcefully molded to fit to the rest of the story and artificially constructed altogether. The use Gansey - and his evil competitors, too - had for the power granted to the person responsible for ancient Glendower’s reawakening was eventually explained, but it did not convince me as far as the degree of obsession and urgency was concerned.
In addition, there was - contrary to the book flap's promise - no true love in sight. Blue is described as a very sensible person, who is determined not to fall in love, because she does not want to be the cause of someone's death. Her frightened realization, that steeling her heart against love - which unerringly will find a crack to slip in anyhow - did not have the slightest effect at all, could have been an extraordinary drama to behold. But Stiefvater chose the route of lukewarm first attraction for one boy, whose attentions are kind of welcome and gratifying, and a curiosity-based, growing familiarity lined with bickering and headed towards a friendship between like-minded persons for another one, who at first seemed to be incompatible. In short, that means: No passion for Blue in volume one, but seeds in the soil for a solid love-triangle in volume 2.
By the way, volume 2: Quite a number of questions remained unanswered and quite a lot of puzzles stayed unsolved. I do not mind a book that leaves room for a sequel. (“Shiver”, for example, has been such a book for me. I could read “Linger”, if I ever felt like it, but I do not have to.) But I resent books that make no sense on their own. “The Raven Boys” does not really end on a cliffhanger, but you cannot fail to notice that the story is incomplete.
I guess I will enjoy reading the sequel eventually. But I can assure you that nothing will seduce me into preordering the hardcover. My hardcover copy of “The Raven Boys” is back on the market, by the way. I see no sense in keeping it. A lovely cover alone does not earn my precious shelf space. All in all: A good read, but also a disappointment. (less)
Not really worth reviewing in my opinion. One thing was ridiculously noteworthy, though: The mermaids' tails are of the conveniently modest and young-...moreNot really worth reviewing in my opinion. One thing was ridiculously noteworthy, though: The mermaids' tails are of the conveniently modest and young-adult-like clean sort: "By the time I had unclasped my bra and slipped out of my panties, I could feel the protective sheath of shimmering blue-green scales covering me from nipple to nipple and down across my belly to obscure my nudity." Ehhhh? I thought scales were part of the merfolk's nature and not a costume? How can they use their nipples for - let's say - feeding, if they are hidden under a "sheath of scales"? (less)
"Ashes" is a uniquely-set example of zombie dystopia that manages to keep the reader on her or his toes with a lot of action, a compassionate, brave a...more"Ashes" is a uniquely-set example of zombie dystopia that manages to keep the reader on her or his toes with a lot of action, a compassionate, brave and stong heroine, a cute-kid-sidekick, who repeatedly puts a strained smile on the worried reader's face, a loyal dog and a likable, but difficult-to-grasp kind-of-love-interest (Forget what the book-flap says. Don't expect a romance novel, please.):
After two years of chemo and nano-pebbles and other ineffective treatments seventeen-years-old orphan Alex has given up on fighting her tennis-ball-sized brain tumor. Armed with some gear and a heavy case (I pretty much guessed from the beginning what it contained, but it was kept a secret for three quarters of the book. (view spoiler)[If you want to surprise the reader, don't put the secret into the title, dearest publisher. (hide spoiler)]) she sets out to hike through the wilderness toward Lake Superior.
She has just shaken hands with an an old guy on a fishing-trip and his whiny eight-years-old grand-daughter Ellie, when something later identified as an electromagnetic pulse kills off all electronics - including Jack's pulse-maker and a lot of birds and game. Interestingly Alexs instantly not only gets back the sense of smell her tumor had previously eliminated, but is able to use it at a superhuman capacity, too. In addition she loses the slight tremor in her left hand and shortly after that - because of Ellie - most of her outdoor equippment and food. After surviving a couple of kids who were gorging themselves with the intestines of a lone camper, Alex starts to develop alarming theories about what happened to whom, in which perimeter and why Ellie's and her own brain did not turn them into juvenile cannibalists. But there is not really time to ponder, because the girls are attacked by a small pack of wild dogs and later by another "brain-zap" - who gets shot just in time by the youngish soldier Tom. Tom claims to be on holiday leave from his duty in Afghanistan and seems to have his own difficult past.
At this point the road trip/hell ride really takes off, takes some shocking, some ruthless and some unexpected turns and finally lets us hang on a real, stomach-droppingly, fist-in-the-mouth, blink-blink-blink-do-not-mess-with-me cliffhanger that costs my rating a fully filled-in and carefully lined star. (view spoiler)[I can stomach not knowing about Tom. But Ellie? The author deliberately made me love Ellie. How can she not tell us if she survived and if yes under which circumstances? (hide spoiler)]
Otherwise I liked "Ashes" (at least the first, "road-trip-style" part) quite well. But not well enough to rate it five stars (if you put the cliffy aside, I mean). And not well enough to buy the sequel, either. Some strange things about the settlement "Rule" and the relevation about it works bothered me a lot in the last third, but I am too exhausted to pull them out of the fogginess of my setting-saturated mind. Maybe I will prod/study some enlightening reviews later.
If you consider reading a rather interesting, no-filter-gruesome Zombie dystopia, "Ashes" is definitely no bad choice. But if you asked me, I would in all likelihood say: "Buy Enclave first!", because it was simply better rounded, had a far stronger pull on my emotions and a hero that stole a larger chunk of my heart. Still, "Ashes" is better constructed than the also fast-paced, pretty similarly-set, but city-based, romance-induced and self-published monster apocalypse Released, which is to be had as a Kindle version for almost nothing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Not as good as the Mediator Series or Teen Idol, but definitely more enjoyable than some of Cabot's other recent output. It has a kind of open ending,...moreNot as good as the Mediator Series or Teen Idol, but definitely more enjoyable than some of Cabot's other recent output. It has a kind of open ending, but since I had read the sequel last year already, I didn't mind so much.(less)
Maybe since reading Otfried Preußler's The Little Watersprite almost 30 years ago and certainly since reading Der Sommer als Nixe kam (translates as "...moreMaybe since reading Otfried Preußler's The Little Watersprite almost 30 years ago and certainly since reading Der Sommer als Nixe kam (translates as ""The Summer Nixie Came"") by Evelyne Kolnberger two years later I have been mesmerized by the idea of mermaids, their mysteries and their underwater worlds. The beginning of the current mermaid trend in YA fiction and paranormal romance about two years ago consequently made me very happy and alert. In the meantime I have picked up as much disappointing stories as interesting ones. But I am determined to enjoy the wave as long as it lasts. And although I have stopped putting every new merfolk book on my wishlist, I still patiently sift through the debris in order not to miss the rare gem. Everblue”, the first book of the “Mer Tales Series” by Brenda Pandos, sadly belongs to the category of stones I am going to throw over my shoulder with some flip behind it. Yet, I am sure, some other mermaid fans stumbling across the book will decide that they have finally found what they had been looking for. I am going to try to explain in detail so you can decide, whether you would judge like me or like them:
First a description to make you familiar with what I am talking about: “Everblue” is told in the first person. Its point-of-view switches from chapter to chapter between the two main characters (usually a “plus” for me), High School senior Ashlyn and her best friend’s home-schooled twin-brother Finley. Ash, Fin and Tatiana live on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Ash has helped Tatchi to secretly apply for the admission and a scholarship at the Florida Atlantic University, where they want to spend their college years together, although they know that Tatiana’s parents, who do not even allow their kids to go to the local High School and who often disappear with the twins for days, will not exactly be thrilled about their daughter’s plans for the future. Truth is Ash doesn’t really know. Since the day several years ago when Tatiana’s dad smashed a glass vitrine because Ash had suggested a sleepover at her house, she hasn’t set a foot on the family’s premises. She remembers her own parents mumbling something sounding like alcohol-related problems, but she has never breached the subject. Another thing she does prefer not to talk about is her long-standing crush on Fin. Apparently a pity, because for Fin there has ever been only Ashlyn. But in contrast to just-waiting-for-the-right-moment-to-confess-Ash, Fin is set on forgetting the beautiful red-head next door, because his “carreer” has not been decided upon and he does not want to force an underwater-life on her. For Fin and Tatchi are mermaids, who are permitted to live temporarily on land, because their father is guiding a gate in the Lake that leads to their monarchic underwater country. When Fin’s family is summoned down by the capricious son of their present King, there is not even time to say good-bye. And while Tatchi tries to evade evil Azor’s advances and Fin tries to replace his longing for Ash by courting a mermaid who reminds him of her, Ash is on the one hand concerned because of the twins’ absence, on the other hand she basks in the sudden interest of the school’s – really nice - star quarterback in her and nurtures her crush on him, which had been slumbering in a corner of her heart. How will everybody get happy with the right partner, (how) is Azor going to be defeated and how can Tatchi get to live the human life she longs for?
These questions are not so easily answered because of the unquestionably unique mermaid lore - which is essential for “Everblue” and which is in large part responsible for me being repelled. To be fair: From a logical point of view there is nothing wrong with the construct. It is even very believable, because it fits into the pattern of merfolk legends and fairytales. But if I think of “Everblue” as a love story between girls and boys I am supposed to like - or at least understand fom a ""human angle"", the lore turns into a paranomal romance nightmare:
Mermaids are a different species. They are either born (alpha-mer) or made by a willingness to stay with a merfolk partner (beta-mer, who really stay second-class citizens). When daylight falls on their tails (directly or indirectly via mirrors) they morph into legs. Simultaneously something happens with the breathing apparatus, too. The most important things are that mer-blood has healing qualities (came in handy when mermaids encountered shipwrecks in former times) and that a kiss and one kiss only (between two mers or a mer and a human) mingles the two souls permanently and makes the two persons addicted to each other up to the point that the absence of one makes the other one go crazy. This explains why sea-faring men encountering mermaids after a storm or a swim went slowly mad, jumped into the waters and drowned or joined their tailed saviours and were never to be seen again. That these mermaids were kissing the poor guys in the first place does not need to always have been an erotic urge. A mer’s kiss is also reviving for a person whose life’s flame is on the brink of blinking out. For the teenaged merfolk in “Everblue” it means that regardless to whom you are attracted to or who you fell in love with, you first kiss – voluntarily, accidentally or forced - determines who you will eternally long for, who you cannot be without, whose body will turn you on without fail, who you “love”. To avoid random matings the mer-families do not approve of or which weren’t really planned by the hormone-laden teens all unmated merfolk is constantly heavily chaperoned. To me this once-press-the-button-guarantee of eternal, mutual infatuation (Tatchi and Fin’s parents are permanently making out) seems to be a thousand times worse than, for instance, an unwanted pregnancy or an old-fashioned arranged marriage (for both allow for several choices). It does not take into account that people change, that people have intellect, something in common or not in common, something to talk about or not to talk about. It is just some weird chemistry that traps a couple into an iron lock of inescapable bliss. Horrific, don't you agree?
As the story progresses the reader is in for a treat of how awful the mating-kiss can turn out. (view spoiler)[Tatiana is forced to kiss evil Prince Azor and feels compelled to stay with him and even shield him from her brother’s attack – in spite of her always having been the one willing to leave the merworld and become a full-time human for the sake of her personal freedom. (hide spoiler)] Brainless, naive Fin who felt only slightly inconvenienced (he wanted to succeed his father as the Lake Tahoe gate keeper, knew that his future lay in the hands of the all-powerful royal family) but never managed to see the real danger, (view spoiler)[feels kind of bad for his twin in the clutches of the slimy-tailed Dark Knight, but he (hide spoiler)] is more intent on assuring his lately acquired, giggling mate that he won’t have sex with her before turning her into an honest woman. I asked myself what the heck is wrong with that author? As if the question of premarital sex could be of any relevance when two teens are already infinitely bound by magical shackles. In addition the admittedly peculiar question stole into my head if the author thinks that lasting happiness can only occur, when both partners are brain-washed and paranormally forced? (view spoiler)[This notion would be supported by Ash’s change of feelings toward quarterback-boy after being kissed by Fin. What he says is simply not interesting anymore, his body looks less delicious and she doubts his devotion to her altogether. How convenient, but also how wrong! (hide spoiler)] It all made me personally very angry.
But should the mentioned concept of love (I don’t think that this kind of connection deserves to be labelled love) of the author’s mermaid lore cover you in happy goosebumps, because you simply cannot pass up the chance to read about sweet eternal obsession, do not mind my previous antics and buy the book!
Another aspect, which constantly annoyed me to pieces, were the two sets of parents. Tatchi’s mother – a beta-mer – never trusted her children and their ability to keep their mouths shut enough to let them go to school with humans or to have friends, but she promised her daughter the freedom of choice as far as her future mate was concerned. When the family moves underwater she changes her stance and her behavior so frequently that the reader gets the impression she has already gone nuts from her husband’s extended “business trip”. Ash’s mother is a over-the-top moody, sharp-tongued, unfair bitch, who likes to make her daughter feel unbelievably helpless and bad in various creative ways. Communication between her and Ash is only possible with Ash’s dad as a go-between, who advises his daughter to ""talk to her mom about it”, but does not initiate a family conference himself either. When Ash, whose confusion about her friends’ absence and her own accelerating romance with what’s-his-name finally wear her out, resorts to excusing herself from church under the pretense of feeling unwell, she is plagued by a mightily bad conscience and an enormous urge to come clean afterwards (which is later seconded by her indignant grandmother. Imagine! A good girl lying to her parents! *gasp*). That had me seriously wondering if the author is member of a strange religious cult. The real problem was definitely not Ash’s dishonesty, but her fear to ask monster-mom for permission! But faith is rather bluntly pushed at the reader throughout the book anyway.
I will count “Everblue” as “read” although I have to admit I stopped reading at 93%. But since I cannot imagine what glorious things could happen on the last few pages to pull the boat around, and I have read somewhere that the book ends on a huge cliffhanger anyway, I am not going to bother, since it only makes my skin crawl. One more down, how many to go? We will see.
Forgive me for not elaborating on the writinng style ecetera. It was not bad, but also not outstanding. The usual young adult, paranormal fair, you know?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Meh-eh. Not my kind of heroine, not my kind of mystery (What is going on exactly?), not my kind of youth slang, not my kind of snottiness, not my kind...moreMeh-eh. Not my kind of heroine, not my kind of mystery (What is going on exactly?), not my kind of youth slang, not my kind of snottiness, not my kind of book. I'll stop after mere 15% and forget about it quickly.
And ... I know reading excerpts would be the sensible thing, but I cannot get myself to do it most of the time. Either I plunge into a book with the hope of a beautiful ride through a new story or I don't. Testing something with a road-stop in view is no real option. Especially since I usually do not read a freshly acquired book at once. And that always means: Back to square one.(less)
*** 2.5 stars *** The teens-alone-in-outer-space thriller was suspense-laden enough to make me go on reading until the very last cliffhanging page, bu...more*** 2.5 stars *** The teens-alone-in-outer-space thriller was suspense-laden enough to make me go on reading until the very last cliffhanging page, but as the religious conflict, the fertility aka mating issues, the Lord-of-the-Flies-or-Gone-like, but highly improbable, kiddie rule on board of the deserted, damaged and slightly dusty, but peachy-going mega-ship Empyrean (120 boys aged between two and 15 keep everything running for almost six months from gravity to clean airfilters and from chicken coops to artificial rainforests - not mentioning personal hygiene or daily routines), the love-triangle and the lack of general information (conveniently easily explained: The adults just avoided painful talks about the destructed earth, the survivors left behind and the events that led to the departure of two selectively staffed rescue ships) are concerned, I was, simply said, permanently annoyed to the point of imploding in my space suit. I would read the sequel only if it was dropped into my lap without any effort or compensation expected from me in return.(less)