I loved this one, you guys! LOVED IT. I read the beginning of a review for the next book in this series over at...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
I loved this one, you guys! LOVED IT. I read the beginning of a review for the next book in this series over at The Book Smugglers, so I knew I had to pick it up. The tone of the writing is formal but a little mocking, with September as a little bit of an unreliable narrator. This one is biting and funny and heartbreaking, and there’s no clear villain, not even the Marquess. People die, or are taken, or disappear, never to be seen again. The mythology of how Fairyland connects to Earth is lovely, something I haven’t yet seen, and I know my fairies. This is going to be a short review, because so much happened, and what’s important is what September learns on her journey, about others and about herself.
I bought this one, which isn’t something I often do with a book I haven’t read, because I love fairies and dragons and impetuous twelve-year-old girls who are Somewhat Heartless. And I ended up enjoying myself more than I thought I could, even though the ending, while happy enough, made me cry. The imagery of the different places-a town made of fabrics, and one of baked goods-was incredible, and the isolation I felt when September sailed the Sea made me so lonely for her. There’s a cute little love story, or the beginnings of one, in this too, and it is very sweet. What made this novel for me, though, was the writing and the style of it, so I have a few quotes I’ve taken from the paperback edition of this novel. Check this one out immediately, then head over to Tor.com and read the short story about Mallow, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland — For Awhile.
“All little girls are terrible, but the Marquess, at least, has a very fine hat.”
“It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.”
“I suppose that would be true if the earth were round.” “I’m reasonably sure it is…” “You’re going to have to stop that sort of backward, old-fashioned thinking, you know. Conservatism is not an attractive trait. Fairyland is a very Scientifick place. We subscribe to all the best journals.”
“I…I don’t think that’s how evolution works…” “Oh? Your name Charles Darwin all sudden-true?” “No, it’s just-” “It’s Survival of Them Who’s Best at Nicking Things, girl!”
“I say, let them as wants to evolve do it and soak the rest.”
“[...] Witches present brewed a bouillabaisse of a long and interesting marriage: five children [...] and a friendly sort of unfaithfulness for all involved”
“Oh, Ell! No, no, don’t be dead, please!” “Why not?” said Iago. “That’s what happens to friends, eventually. It’s practically what they’re for.”
““One can always bear more love,” the Wyverary purred.”(less)
Here we go! The final installment in what was one of my favorite series at the beginning of the year! (The firs...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
Here we go! The final installment in what was one of my favorite series at the beginning of the year! (The first two books are reviewed here and here.) We left Bane basically in the middle of a scene, and we arrive at Magick just as Jax is regaining consciousness. The first quarter of this one is Sarah from the Bane explaining the history of both Salem and the Bane, but also of white witches. While there was a whole lot of telling instead of showing (and I’d LOVE to read a history of the original women of the Bane), I found I didn’t mind as much as I normally would. The backstory is interesting and I like getting it in any way I can. There’s also a lot of guilt on Jax’s part due to Barrow’s murder, but that was to be expected. She did what she had to do, and while Toni is afraid of her at first, Egan defends Jax and is on her side. So Jax has to start training to be savior of the world, gain control of her white witch powers, and destroy the covens once and for all.
Things are going swimmingly, romance-wise. Everyone is nicely paired off, including Rule, and… I don’t know. It was all very saccharine, and earnest, like omg, every ten seconds Jax is very seriously vowing to die before anyone else does. This girl is like a forty-year-old. She operates under the weight of her own guilt for the whole series almost, and she’s just so very serious about everything. Love is a big theme in this series, so we go from Jax silently swearing to die for Rule if need be, to Keller going off to buy Jax a Christmas present. It’s all so opposite. There is also a lot of waiting in this one. Jax at the Bane HQ, Jax working on her powers, Jax waiting for the covens to show up, Jax chilling and eating pizza with Toni. But then, something happens, like we’re reminded of the time Jax kissed Rule, and Keller forgave her. And that makes me happy, because it reminds us that Jax is human, and she makes mistakes, and that sometimes mistakes are forgivable. The things we do in times of stress can be the most irrational.
White Witch was one of my favorite books at the beginning of the year, but the series just kind of went steadily downhill for me. It was so sappy, the power of love and all that, and the end was too neatly wrapped up. It was a cute series, but maybe it just ended up not being my style. We didn’t really get to see any real action with the covens either, and the story of Jax’s life with them might have been more interesting than the story of her defection. Anyway, the writing is solid and the love stories are nice, plus all three books are short and super easy reads. If it sounds like your thing, check it out! The trilogy is complete.(less)
Fairies! And Juliet Marillier, who I love to pieces. High fantasy is basically my bedrock, because it's where I...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
Fairies! And Juliet Marillier, who I love to pieces. High fantasy is basically my bedrock, because it's where I first began my explorations into books outside chick lit and the Babysitter's Club. I owe it all to David Eddings, Anne Bishop, and Jacqueline Carey, honestly. Eventually Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, and Ilona Andrews helped push me into urban fantasy territory, which led me to Twilight, the The Mortal Instruments, then the Caster Chronicles, and now here I am! Sorry for the impromptu history lesson, but this book had me so excited! The beginning reminded me of the start of Fable II, if only because RPGs are always on my mind in some fashion. Anyway, Neryn has a deadbeat dad who she parts from in the first chapter, after being saved by a mysterious man named Flint. Neryn has been beaten down by a life that saw her grandmother murdered. Neryn is brave though and begins the trek north alone, dangerous for a girl alone in the time of the Cull, when the king's Enforcers round up and kill anyone with magic. Like Neryn.
We don't know much about her gift at first, but as soon as she's on her own, she's approached by the Good Folk--fairies. Some don't want to help her and some do, though she warns them away. Magic is dangerous unless you're in the king's inner circle. There are three fairies in particular who want to help her: Sage, Sorrel, and Red-Cap. Neryn resists their help at first, but they're persistent. Marillier really likes to show you the scenery, and there are lush descriptions and measures throughout the novel. I almost always skim these; that's not a condemnation of the writing, it's one of those "it's not you, it's me" things. It's something I've always done. I really ended up liking Neryn, especially when she learns the full truth of her gift. She doesn't want to believe it, but she's logical enough to see the plausibility. She's responsible and tough.
Much of this novel is traveling, which can be slow and a little boring. Fully half (and more) is just Neryn trying to find her way to Shadowfell and generally failing miserably. Neryn is also incredibly gullible, which just goes along with how good and virtuous she is, and, honestly, it makes for a somewhat boring protag. The worst moral decision Neryn has to make is whether to accept food from fairies. It started feeling like this novel was less about Shadowfell and more about Neryn and Flint. Which is fine, just not what I was expecting. So, yes, I was a little disappointed by this one, which is why I gave it the rating I did. Neryn frustrated me, not seeming to be able to pick up on the behavioral clues of those around her, vowing never to use her gift again because she killed some of the enemy, just so naive and clueless. And she's fifteen. She has some right to be clueless, I just hope that, in the next book, she'll have gained some experience.
So, yes, I will read the next novel, and am actually a little impatient to do so, because I see a lot of potential, and I want to see where Marillier goes with all of this. The fairy lore in this one is unique and interesting, so that's where a lot of my interests lie. I am of course interested to see where Flint and Neryn go next as well.(less)
Ilona Andrews is the best urban fantasy author out there (she and her husband write as a team). Kate Daniels is...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
Ilona Andrews is the best urban fantasy author out there (she and her husband write as a team). Kate Daniels is one of my personal heroines, because she’s badass, magical, not afraid to kill, and she doesn’t really do guilt. My big problems with the Anita Blake series turned out to be Anita’s guilty conscious due to her Christian beliefs and necromantic skills. That annoyed me! Kate Daniels never annoys me, not really. This one isn’t about Kate, but that’s okay. Andrea is just as cool, despite having trope-y, boring commitment issues. She grew up in a bouda pack that abused her and her mother, so she has a lot of deep scars when it comes to Pack logic or unity. She doesn’t want the Pack, but now that she’s out with the Knights, she might be forced to reconsider. The whole thing with her and Raphael is stupid, in my opinion. They both did stupid things, they’re both too stubborn to get back into it, and Andrea is acting like she’s not a shapeshifter. Whatever. I ignore the romance in most urban fantasy, because the plot is always better. It bugs me that the summary focuses so much on the romance when the plot is so interesting!
What I love about Andrews’ writing in this particular world (because I did not like their YA series AT ALL) is how lushly she describes post-apocalyptic Atlanta. I’ve never been there, but I imagine it evokes the same feelings as reading about a torn up Chicago in Divergent did. I love when a character goes to Centennial Park, the witches’ park, when the magic is up, because it always makes me think of Rivendell or Lothlorien. Magical. And Andrews is so good at weaving a twisty, snarly mystery that I almost NEVER figure out. The fights scenes are also really well-written, with people getting hurt and all that reality. I’ll be honest, I prefer being in Kate’s head over Andrea’s, but I love the character development of Ascanio, who I hated in the original series, but he’s growing on me. I also really like the further development of some secondary characters we saw during Kate’s series.
I love the twisty mythology in every Andrews novel, and this one’s no different, showing us the god Anubis and his demon Annit. We see all kinds of creatures you’d expect to see near the Nile, and discovering things through Andrea’s fresh eyes was a lot of fun for me. The fight scenes with these animals are crazy, and I found myself really getting into it. The ending wrapped things up nicely, but there is always room for disaster in Kate Daniels’ Atlanta! You can read this one without reading the Kate novels, so dive right in!(less)
It’s that time of year again! You know, late September, you’ve read 70+ books and now you can’t even look at a...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
It’s that time of year again! You know, late September, you’ve read 70+ books and now you can’t even look at a book without feeling stressed and nauseous? Or is that just me? To cleanse my palate of angsty supernatural YA, I’ve been immersing myself in… supernatural middle-grade. All the fun and adventure without the romance! Perfect! (I’ve also been reading the Ruby Oliver novels, which are so silly and have almost no plot.) This one really doesn’t disappoint either! Maya is a precocious thirteen year old with divorced scientist parents. Her mother is often out of the country and her father has bad luck with grants. She likes colors and connecting them to emotions and she draws in her notebook. She’s super smart and makes connections in her head that I’m not sure I would, plus she has this vast storage of esoteric knowledge gleaned from her scientist parents. She makes for an interesting narrator, which is good considering the book is written in first-person. It’s always a sad day when being in the protag’s head makes you hate them more.
The story gets going pretty quickly, and there’s only a little bit of fact-finding before they reveal the mammoth is fake. I like Maya’s interactions with her father, who sounds like the coolest dad ever, and her adventuring with Kyle, who she doesn’t immediately swoon over. I was dying to know what was actually under the ice during this period too. Dying! I had no idea this story would be fantastical (obviously I am not very good at closely reading summaries), so I was really happy when I discovered there’s a teensy bit of magic in this one! Oh, and something I thought was cute (and entirely contrary to my own thinking), but Maya is okay with the icy tundra being a mammoth graveyard, but it makes her sadder to think of the people the ice might encase. I’m personally sadder for the poor mammoths. Let me segue here into something I didn’t really like: the stereotypes. Russian man tied to the mob and illegal drugs, mystical indigenous women in Alaska, stiff and formal Japanese man. Those characterizations lacked the depth of Maya or Kyle or even Randal.
HOWEVER. The mystery is great and so is Maya. When they unearth their prize, strange things start happening, including very realistic dreaming. Maya goes out one night into the snow and discovers cool things that will spoil you, so I won’t elaborate, but I ended up reading bits and pieces of it to my boyfriend, that’s how much I liked those scenes. I always like storylines that show how much adults root themselves in what’s “real” and forget about magic. Only children can see magic because they haven’t yet learned to ignore it. I believe in magic, though maybe not in the way most books use it. No one can shoot light out of their fingers, of course, but that doesn’t mean magic doesn’t happen. That’s probably my favorite part of middle-grade, the magic of being a kid again, even though I almost always figure out the twists before the protag. (True in this case as well!)
Maya gets a little irrational in the last quarter of the book, though I understand why. She wasn’t on equal standing with the rest of the scientists and didn’t really have the language to explain her feelings to them. Couple that with fear she wouldn’t be believed, and her bad decisions can be understood. Things get really crazy at the end of the novel. I liked this one a lot, both for its elements of “real” and for its magical action. Middle-grade at its (almost) best, in my opinion. Check this one out when it comes to bookstores on October 1!(less)
I love middle-grade! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’m nearly done with my undergrad degree in Specia...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
I love middle-grade! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’m nearly done with my undergrad degree in Special Education, and lately I’ve been really interesting in finding good middle-grade novels for my future classroom (here, let me recommend two MG novels by Laura Amy Schlitz, A Drowned Maiden’s Hair and The Night Fairy) so I just really wanted this one when I saw it up on NetGalley. Plus, it’s got a little history thrown in there, which is always a plus when choosing novels for a classroom! This one starts off with a little backstory before we meet Colophon and the modern day Letterfords. Colophon’s family sounds stifling, with a rigid seating hierarchy at Thanksgiving dinner and a strict rule that ownership of the company passes to the eldest child only. Her family is rich, owning a huge home with its own library. Colophon is twelve and has her own laptop. None of this stuff bothered me, but I was kind of amused by all the stuff in the Letterford mansion, the formal way her family spoke, and her interactions with her brother. Plus, I love a good black sheep, and Cousin Julian fits the bill quite well.
As we got into the mystery, I found myself liking Colophon more and more. Where at first she seemed annoyingly inquisitive (a common trait among intellectually gifted children), she later seemed charming and precocious. I started to really like both her and the little mystery she’s solving. While Mull Letterford, Colophon’s father, is trying to save his family’s publishing house in Georgia, Colophon herself eventually travels to London to get down to business trying to find the hidden family treasure. The relationship between Colophon and Julian is fun to watch unfold, because Julian has been almost outcast his whole life. I found it amusing that his way back into the family’s good graces was his twelve year old cousin.
As the book goes on, it becomes increasingly obvious that someone is trying to sabotage Mull’s reign as head of the publishing house. Colophon’s main suspect is her father’s recently reappeared cousin, Treemont. I felt so sorry for Mull during his scenes, but even his catastrophes are humorous (to us, at least), keeping a whimsical air about the whole thing. During all of this, Colophon is with cousin Julian in Stratford-upon-Avon, and while the clues fall into her lap a little to easily, the story is cute and fun, and the mystery is easy to follow. Colophon’s brother, Case, who seems like an insensitive jerk in the beginning, turns out to have some depth in him after all. This one was a quick read, but I enjoyed it immensely.(less)
Oh, this book. It had everything I usually enjoy, paranormal happenings, female friendships, female narrator, b...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
Oh, this book. It had everything I usually enjoy, paranormal happenings, female friendships, female narrator, but this one annoyed me more than anything. I gave it three stars instead of two because it’s quick and sometimes fun, and I realize a lot of younger readers probably won’t have the issues with it that I had. The Dead Girls Detective Agency follows (and I literally could not remember her name for a few minutes) Charlotte Feldman, a snobby, bratty, judgmental sixteen-year-old from the Upper West Side. She’s pushed in front of the F train after school one day, waking up in a hotel as a ghost. In order to pass to the Other Side, Charlotte must solve her own murder with the help of the other dead girls, Nancy, Lorna, and, sometimes, Tess. And there is Edison too, of course. None of these characters are very fleshed out, which is fine, and this is a somewhat forgettable book.
Starting with the good, I liked Nancy and even Lorna, despite the latter being an airheaded fashion queen trope. I liked Edison too, because he was different and made Charlotte a little less insufferable. I even liked David, Charlotte’s boyfriend, because he reminded me of a lot of semi-douchey guys I was friends with in high school. I have a soft spot for semi-douchey guys, okay? Charlotte spends much of the book mooning over David, then getting mad and calling him a cheater when he kisses a cheerleader. Yes, I agree it’s douchey to kiss another girl* at your dead girlfriend’s funeral, but you can’t cheat on a dead person. I didn’t hate David like I think Cox wanted me to. I felt sorry for him, and disliked Charlotte instead. There’s also a little bit of slut-shaming going on, and I really don’t enjoy the word “whore” in my YA. I realize I am not in the majority here, but that just did not help my liking of the book. (*and of course this other girl, Kristen, is of the blonde-haired, cheerleader, Mean Girl variety, with Cox even going to far as to call two of Kristen’s minons “Blonde 4″ and “Blonde 5.” I am tired of this trope.)
Another thing that bothered me, and really took me out of the story, were all the Britishisms. Cox is editor of Cosmopolitan UK, and I have to wonder who edited her novel for American audiences. The book takes place in New York, with presumably native New Yorkers, but they speak like they’re in London. “Muso chick” is not a phrase often heard in the US, and I had to Google it to find out it means “girl who’s into music.” Other things like saying “I’ve not seen that” stuck out to me too, because here we tend to use a different contraction and say, “I haven’t seen that.” Also, “air-con.” Another phrase I’ve never heard, as we tend to call air-conditioning “AC.” These are little nitpicks though, really, and at least no one was calling any elevators “lifts.” There’s also a silly part where Charlotte manages to have seen Heathers, a movie that came out in 1988, and references Freddy Krueger, whose first movie aired in 1984 (though I suppose she could have seen the 2010 remake), and then manages to not know Ghostbusters. What? I found that sloppy, to be honest.
The ending of this one was just silly too. The wrap-up of both the mystery and Tess’ storyline made me roll my eyes. It was just too far-fetched for me to suspend my disbelief, and I’m a girl who likes Farscape. Take that as you will. So, as you can see, I had more problems with this one than anything else. It’s pretty standard YA fiction, with a blonde mean girl, a ditzy fashion queen, a jerk for a narrator, and a flimsy love story. You guys should know by now that I don’t really like books that focus more on boys and romance than the actual paranormal element, and that’s what this one does. I think maybe my co-bloggers would have enjoyed it more than me, but hey, I don’t regret reading it! It had its cute moments, and one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.(less)
So when I started this one, I was also reading the first Bloody Jack novel, which is also about pirates. It was...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
So when I started this one, I was also reading the first Bloody Jack novel, which is also about pirates. It was kind of funny to compare the two, as one is middle-grade and one is YA, one girl is an urchin and one is a princess, but they speak the same dialect. Ananna also reminded me a lot of Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns. The setting is similar and some of the circumstances are similar, but it’s more that Ananna’s voice reminded me of Elisa’s. It’s hard to pin down exactly with words. So. Ananna is a pirate princess about to advantageously married off to some pirate prince or other. She escapes, only to be hunted down by assassin, Naji. Through a silly, silly technicality, Naji’s personal mission changes from “kill Ananna” to “protect Ananna at all costs.” The tone of this one is light a little silly, but I have reservations about any love story that starts off with the love interest attempting to kill the protagonist. Maybe that’s just me. Anyway, the story continues, and Naji is keeping secrets from Ananna all while sending her back out into the city to buy things for him, which seems…imprudent to me, but what do I know? I’m not an assassin.
Soon, the silly oath from earlier is revealed to be a curse, and so Ananna heads out into the desert with Naji. As they traveled together, I found I sort of lost my reservations about Naji. The problem with the whole “falling in love with the assassin” story lines is usually the assassin has all the power. Either he’s stronger, or more experienced, or has magic, or something that puts the relationship out of balance. Ananna is a pirate princess, and she knows what she’s doing in a fight. She can work her knife well, and she can survive on her own by using her skills. She kills people when she needs to, and then goes on fighting. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and while Naji has magic and is withholding information, they just aren’t as unevenly matched as usual. And, just randomly, Ananna’s hatred of the heat while traveling over the desert is much the same as Elisa’s. But you know the other (slight) annoyance I had with this one? All the villains were beautiful, and if the beautiful people weren’t villains, they were at least cruel or clueless. I can think of three examples off the top of my head. Naji was once beautiful, but his face is scarred, so he falls under the category of Assassin with a Heart of Gold. I believe this is on TV Tropes, so I’ll let that speak for me.
Besides that though, I loved this novel, the lightness, the fun, the changing settings. Ananna is attracted to Naji, but the love story (if you can call it that) isn’t really a focus of the story at all. This is very much a tale of misadventures, from the desert outside Lisirra to the Anyel’s Revenge on the sea. Near the end of the novel, I sort of realized that Ananna’s strength is also her weakness. She is strong and capable and used to being those things, so she believes herself ti be capable of resisting magic, and she isn’t. She has never come up against something like the Isles and their magic, and her abilities mean less than nothing. I liked that. Ananna has to do some self-discovery in this one and that’s always something I enjoy.(less)
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this one, my final mermaid book of 2012. The summary is suitably vague,...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this one, my final mermaid book of 2012. The summary is suitably vague, so I wasn’t sure how this one would come out in the end. And I loved it. The book is broken up into six parts, different points of view, but that isn’t at all distracting. In each section, you get a bit more of Rollrock Island’s nautical history told. Misskaella’s section is the longest and my personal favorite section. The mermaid mythology is so unique in this one, with a twist I’ve never seen before, that it adds this almost grotesque feel to the whole thing. I was fascinated the entire time reading about Misskaella and her sisters, and her family’s not so secret shame. Misskaella is mistreated by her family and her entire town, because she is most obviously descended from the seal-folk. Misskaella finally tires of all the abuse, and does something rather extreme. I loved it, of course. This book is so angsty.
Misskaella begins selling her services, using magic to produce wives for the men of Rollrock, to punish both the women who were so cruel and the men who never looked Misskaella’s way. The rest of the book, and the first chapter, shows the aftermath of Misskaella’s “gifts.” The lure of the seal-woman is too strong for what seems like most men, leading them to hide women from their wives and children. Eventually the story unfolds to show a new Rollrock, one in which the Mams are from the sea. Misskaella is eventually the only one of the old tribe left. She’s pretty insane and kind of evil in the rest of the novel, all grown up, and I halfway delight in her, and half feel sorry for her. Her “gift” upon the men of Rollrock, however, is really more like a nightmare, snaring men and driving out native women until the entire island is full of these mams with stick-straight black hair and big luminous eyes. Dominic Mallet’s mam was the last of the land-born, and her caution did not stop her son from finding his own seal-woman.
One thing I noticed is that these sea-women don’t seem to give birth to human females. All the children on the island appear to be male, something confirmed in Dominic’s son’s story. And as Daniel’s story continues, a darker thread is shown. These women on Rollrock are born of seals; they shed their skin when Misskaella works her magic on them. The skins must be hidden, or the mams will return to the sea. So, in effect, the dads of Rollrock are holding their wives captive on the island. This story is very dark, and delves a lot into the worst of human nature. This is what I always meant by a “dark mermaid novel,” where not only is the magic monstrous but the romances are miseries as well. Happiness is only partially achievable on Rollrock Island. And when you think it can’t get worse, it does. For all their big-eyed innocence, the brides of Rollrock are unhappy with their lot in life.
Man, you guys, I liked this one, which is funny, because I was dreading this as the last mermaid book of the year, none of the previous ones being what I wanted from this tiny subgenre. There is doom in the end pages, and you can’t help but think history might repeat itself. This one is definitely one of my favorite books of 2012, so get out there and buy this one–just don’t expect a happy ending.(less)
I liked this book from the start. We jump into the plot with Rhiannon right away, while A slowly reveals bits an...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
I liked this book from the start. We jump into the plot with Rhiannon right away, while A slowly reveals bits and pieces about himself. A has woken up in both male and female bodies, and has fallen in love with a boy before. I loved that everything about A was fluid, including his sexuality. In most novels, including paranormal YA, gay people don’t exist. Later, A mentions the friends of one of his bodies, and how half talked about girls, the other half (Chris and David) about boys. So that was a nice change, and A introduced it with no fanfare. He just wanted us to know he’d been in love before, that homosexuality exists in his body-jumping world. In spite of the day he spent with Rhiannon, though, he wakes up in a new body, just like normal. A is thrust into all sorts of horrible situations, from being in the body of an abusive boyfriend to being a sister watching her father beat her brother. Sometimes his days are normal, and he always tries to do the homework. He tries to keep his borrowed body safe, but in his third body post-Rhiannon, he decides he can’t stay away. In a way, I was reminded of Cas Lowood, of Anna Dressed in Blood fame, because the way A lets go is the same way Cas does. He meets people he likes, people who want to help him, people who get it, and Cas doesn’t want to be set apart anymore. This is what happens when A meets Rhiannon.
He begins misusing bodies though, and one in particular, Nathan, poses a risk to him. He opens up to Rhiannon who waffles between belief and disbelief. He meets more boys and girls who are average, who are angry, who want to die. It’s a little intense, every experience different but still human. The only thing I thought was silly was how A thought Nathan’s story could really lead to A. A doesn’t really exist, at least not physically. It’s hard to leave a paper trail when you’re mostly just spirit and personality. And I think A realizes that eventually, but it has never before dawned on him that he could commit the perfect murder. It takes some adjusting. Rhiannon is doing some adjusting as well. Her journey is almost as important as A’s, and I loved learning about her.
I really loved this novel, not just for A’s (mis)adventures, but also because Levithan infuses so much of my own worldview into it. I mentioned the gay characters above, but there’s also the time Levithan-as-A spend ruminating over the differences (and similarities) of western religion and then, on page 88 of the digital ARC says, “Race is different purely as a social construction, not as an inherent difference.” Levithan, through A’s voice and experiences, is teaching tolerance. Now, where are all those Wall Street Journal and Salon writers calling YA shallow? David Levithan (and Kendare Blake and Lisa McMann and so many others) proves that YA is not shallow or stupid, but can be incredibly apt and insightful. This is why I read YA as an almost 30-year-old, and this is why I think I always will. Don’t miss out on this one. I think it’s essential reading for everyone.(less)
I don’t know if this was the right book for me. I mean, I am the sole Faery expert here at NiaB, but I also dis...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
I don’t know if this was the right book for me. I mean, I am the sole Faery expert here at NiaB, but I also dislike the steampunk genre as a whole. I am not a fan of steampunk, though I’ll admit the jewelry can be cool, and most “steampunk” novels I’ve read just add a few gears and clockwork men and voila, we’re supposed to be impressed. Nah. And I’ll admit, I almost DNF’d this one after chapter two. I could see a love triangle looming from the second I met Noli’s best friend, V. Noli has fallen into the classic YA trope: I love my BFF but he doesn’t like me in that way (when it’s painfully obvious to everyone else that YES, THEY DO). This one didn’t pull me in until Noli arrives at Findlay House, where things start getting real.
Findlay House is a reform school with secrets, not least of which is a water room, a place to basically torture girls who “misbehave” by acting like humans. But what really matters here is the Otherworld, where we spend most of our time. At this point in my notes, I have “The Iron King” written, because honestly, this novel is starting to remind me of Julie Kagawa’s series (one of the few fairy books I didn’t like). Though Noli and Meghan are decades apart, their fairy worlds (and love interests) are similar. I found myself feeling very removed from the romance aspect; I wasn’t rooting for V or Kevighn, because I didn’t have strong feelings either way. I feel Kevighn is a somewhat inappropriate choice, but that didn’t really endear me to V either. Throughout this book I found myself feeling removed from the plot and characters, not having any strong emotions about what I was reading at all. In fact, if anything, I found myself repulsed by the “romance” between Kevighn and Noli.
This one wasn’t for me, though I did like the alternate US history and the way Lazear laid our the fairy realm. I liked that Noli had interests other than just reading, but we didn’t see much of them, honestly. People kept telling us Noli is clever and inventive, but I didn’t see that at all. She certainly wasn’t clever when she crashed the hovercar in the beginning. I skimmed through most of the second half, to be honest, and I won’t be reading the next in the series. If you like fairies and just the tiniest hint of steampunk, this one could be for you!(less)
Longest summary ever, right? WordPress hated it so much. Anyway, back in February I read and reviewed White Wit...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
Longest summary ever, right? WordPress hated it so much. Anyway, back in February I read and reviewed White Witch by Trish Milburn. I liked it a lot for its mixture of magic and modernity, so when I saw the sequel on NetGalley, I couldn’t say no (despite being weeks behind on other galleys)! It was such a quick read, and I was really excited to be immersed in Jax’s world again. In Salem, Jax and Egan meet a lot of people, including a potential love interest named Rule Latimer (that’s a dude).
There’s a little bit more world building in this one, or at least we find out some more about the covens, how they were formed, and what happened to the people/witches who didn’t want to gain dark power. There’s some nice Jax/Keller interaction that made me all swoon-y at work. Egan acts like a jerk for the majority of the book, but his reasons are good, despite his bad execution. Personal issues aside, when we started getting into the Bane, I was pretty intrigued. Not much happens though. Jax is fighting to become a true white witch, fighting the darkness within her that she absorbed in Shiprock. Most of this book is spent researching and talking to people about history, though there are a few action scenes, especially at the end. Rule became a favorite of mine, mostly because he presented a potential love triangle, and it just never happened. Rule and Keller become friends, even. I really liked that. No more boys fighting over the protag, okay? That has been done to death and I HATE IT.
So this book seems to suffer a bit from sophomore novel syndrome, which means it’s a little slow and reminds me of Supernaturally a little bit in that way, but I liked it nonetheless. I like Milburn’s style of writing, I like how she built the world of the dark covens, I like her meshing real history into her own witch history. This one only has twelve chapters, so you can fly right through it. The next novel in the series, Magick, comes out in September. You better believe you’ll see that here.(less)
Time for more urban fantasy! I hope you’re all as excited as me, because I really love this series. I know I sai...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
Time for more urban fantasy! I hope you’re all as excited as me, because I really love this series. I know I said that last time, but now, having read two of the books, I can say it definitively. I love Stacia Kane and Downside Ghosts. I loved Chess’s celebrity case and the utter weirdness of all involved. I loved Arden, the daughter of Chess’s wealthy clients. I noticed how Kane makes careful comparisons between Lex and Terrible, weighing their pros and cons, relating their abilities to those of Chess. The prostitute murders involve not only grisly death, but a creeping sense of foreboding, and also tempts the gangs to war. I think Chess is becoming a little more uncomfortable with her “arrangement” with Lex, though that has nothing to do with her actual drug habit, which she has no motivation to quit. I like her more for her drugs; they make her seem more human, more fallible, less sanctimonious than a lot of UF heroines.
I’m not going to talk much about the plot in this review; I find it’s hard not to spoil mysteries during the process. One thing I noticed about this one is how Kane is priming us for the Terrible/Chess relationship by really hitting us over the head with how wrong Lex is for Chess. He has not a lick of magical awareness, Chess states over and over that talking to Lex with clothes on is weird, how sleeping with Lex with clothes on is weird, basically that Chess knows this is a bad relationship but just isn’t thinking on it too hard. Since there are two more books after this one, I was pretty sure we were being set up for something pretty horrible in store for Chess and Terrible. I tried to steel myself as best I could.
And it was horrible when it came. Chess messes up in so many ways in this one that it was hard to concentrate on the story! She’s had a hard life and sort of fears love, and she just ruins things beyond all comprehension. She faces so many consequences that it was almost uncomfortable to read. The villains in this one used “sex magic” and just reading about Chess becoming aroused against her will made me so uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable in a bad way, but uncomfortable in a way that means the story got to me. I love it. I’ll be reading the next book ASAP, and I can’t recommend them enough. If you like urban fantasy, you’ll most likely love Chess Putnam!(less)
As some of you may have noticed, I, Tina, identify as a feminist, and my feminism influences many choices I make...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
As some of you may have noticed, I, Tina, identify as a feminist, and my feminism influences many choices I make in my life. I’ve read Betty Freidan and Anais Nin and Jessica Valenti and Dossie Easton, but, for me, there is no such thing as too much feminist writing. This book gives a little background on our particular brand of cultural patriarchy, and shows some human faces behind revolutionary (in their time) feminist ideals. I could read this stuff forever, because Kates-Shulman relates everything she writes back to her own experience, so you can examine whether or not her ideas fit into your own life. Kates-Shulman touches on the virginity obsession of the pre-sexual revolution, how men made the rules when it came to marriage (they wouldn’t marry a girl with a reputation, but they spent all their time trying to get under girls’ skirts), how women had one life goal, and only one: to get married. Marriage was endgame for every woman, no matter what, because that’s just what women did. They were groomed from childhood to be good wives, good mothers, models of femininity for men to judge, and discard, as they pleased.
Because a lot of these essays were written in the 1960s, some things are out of date, but it is fascinating to read essays about a time when men seemed to have no idea that women were disadvantaged. One of my favorite parts is Kates-Shulman’s propensity for adding quotes from popular literature from the time. Some of the quotes, mostly about sex and written by men, are so outdated and “traditional” as to be offensive and almost amusing. I, as a Third Wave feminist, sometimes find it hard to believe that things like that were written, and widely accepted, at all! (As you can see, I’m already biased in one direction.) Kates Shulman covers such a wide range of feminist topics, I’m tempted to say she got everything! This was a really enjoyable, not to mention quick, read. I think any novice feminist could pick this up and understand its message and also, maybe, hopefully, learn something in the process. The only part I didn’t personally enjoy was the essay about radical feminism. I don’t really relate to radical feminism because they have some very interesting (and personally incompatible) beliefs about sex and are incredibly transphobic in our modern times. I sort of skimmed the radfem stuff, so I dropped a star for this.
In the end, regardless of my personal misgivings, I think this is a nice little collection of essays that realistically portrays the history of a big-name Second Wave feminist. We can learn a lot of Kates Shulman’s past and use that knowledge to apply to the future of our movement!(less)
I didn’t even remember that Allie had a twin. Oops. Shows you how much I disliked the last book’s fairy plotline...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
I didn’t even remember that Allie had a twin. Oops. Shows you how much I disliked the last book’s fairy plotline. Oh well. I liked this one much more right off the bat. For one, Junior is back. We also don’t seem to be too immersed in Fairyland this time around. Weird things are happening again–a creepy fairy is acting as Allie’s guardian angel and the government has managed to find out information about the moonstone. Allie has to be on the lookout for Trimarks and the government in this one. She’s searching for her twin sister, plus she has all the other Purdy-related family drama to deal with. Since I assume this is the last book, things should start coming to a head soon.
Despite not being immersed in fairies, we do meet a new one, namely Jessie, a dark fae dating Kizzy’s horrible daughter, Carmel. So it looks like Allie’s on the run from the dark fae as well. The Trimarks are planning another uprising, so Allie has to move fast. I was slightly horrified by the addition of stereotypical Irish mannerisms being added to the stereotypicality of Brothers’ Hispanic characters, so excuse me if I indulge in a little written eye-rolling. Ireland is a really tired location for urban fantasy. We get it, Ireland is magical and fairies and druids and omg Celtic Wicca, but seriously, as someone whose grandfather emigrated from Ireland, I just want it to stop. Let’s go to, like, Croatia or something. Anywhere but Ireland.
Luckily, we don’t dwell on Ireland for too long. Allie spends most of this book learning about and trying to locate her twin, Anne Marie Scott. She recruits Junior and a runaway named Sammie tags along as well. I had my suspicions about Sammie right off, but she was a welcome addition to the Allie-Faye-Junior parade. When things finally start getting real, I found I really enjoyed this one. It brought Allie back to who she was in the first book, and the story was smoother as well.
So, in all, I enjoyed this series. It’s just as good as most other paranormal YA series out there, and I’ve certainly seen worse. I’d check this one out if you liked and read the first three. Marilee Brothers commented at the blog to let us know she's writing the fifth, and last, book now, so we're almost done with Allie's story!(less)
A contemporary YA novel? Who, me? Who would have thought, right? No wizards or demons or ghosts or vampires or a...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
A contemporary YA novel? Who, me? Who would have thought, right? No wizards or demons or ghosts or vampires or anything paranormal at all in this one! I think in order for me to actually enjoy contemporary YA, it has to be a mystery. I’m the only person in the world who was annoyed by Anna and the French Kiss, after all. Rain, our protag, has a cleft palate and therefore a bit of a language disability. She doesn’t have many friends at her exclusive high school for rich kids, and when Wendy’s body is found, Rain’s world is rocked off its axis. Wendy was vindictive in a way that I quite enjoy, in that I like seeing snobby high school girls get their comeuppance (though she goes a little overboard with her boyfriend-stealing ways). I was really, really worried about slut-shaming in this one because of Wendy’s…activities, and Rain does imply Wendy is slutty at one point. I hate body policing and shaming women for sex, even vindictive high school juniors. It’s a little sad to watch the interactions of Rain and Wendy, both with each other and their classmates. The realism in this one makes me cringe a little, especially at times when Wendy’s peers complain that her death means no more parties. We meet Taylor, who is an overeager student reporter stereotype who annoyed me more than anything. We’re also introduced to Nico, resident bad boy, newest object of Wendy’s obsession (an obsession she’s embarrassingly public about, posting statuses about him on Facebook and such). Rain wonders if Nico and Wendy were in the park that night, and if Nico killed her.
I’ll admit, I started to worry that Rain and Nico were going to get involved in some weird romance. Nico has called her a retard in the past, and I was going to be furious if this turned into some bad boy redemption story, because I did not sign up for that. She has a cleft palate and he shoved his finger in her mouth to touch the hole left over from her surgery. Nico Phelps makes me sick. Not only is Nico contemptible, all of Wendy’s popular “friends” are either faking their grief or being openly indifferent to her murder. Many of the girls seem to be more worried about Nico’s reputation than what happened the night Wendy was killed. Rain is really pissed off by the amount of victim blaming going on, horrified that because Wendy slept around, people are acting like she deserved what she got. Rain is on a mission for truth. And at about 44% on my Kindle, I had a suspect of my own, and it wasn’t Nico Phelps. Did I mention that in the midst of all this, Rain is crushing on her teacher? There are a lot of emotions going around for her.
So I sort of figured out who the killer was about halfway through, but I liked the mystery. Things work out a little too easily for our heroine, but the whole story was intriguing, and I liked how they gave Wendy a voice through Rain. Rain, in her own mind, confronts slut shaming, prejudice, and the sometimes callous media. There are a lot of realistic things in this book, like the way they paint Wendy as a party girl, or how Nico is so believeable as a murderer due to his violent past. When I say realistic, I mean the media portrayal in this book. The media is terrible and it hurts people in lots of different ways. This was an intense book to read, and exactly the kind of contemporary novel I like. It’s definitely worth a shot.(less)
Now, I normally leave the romance novels to my fellow reviewers-in-arms, but historical fiction was like my firs...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
Now, I normally leave the romance novels to my fellow reviewers-in-arms, but historical fiction was like my first serious genre boyfriend. This is set in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which is my favorite era in history, the era of the Tudors. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn have been an obsession of mine for a long time, so I couldn’t resist, and honestly, I found this really cute. Will is a bit of a dick to Ellie when he learns who she is, but I find myself forgiving him, not because he’s charming, but because he is dumb. He’ll figure it out, and Ellie has enough fire and spirit to throw some of his insults back in his face. He even seems to have some remorse in him, which is more than can be said for some male protags (*cough, cough* Noah from Mara Dyer *cough, cough*). The third main character is missing from the summary, and she’s Lady Jane Perceval, who seems to be a stuck up aristocrat who lost her virginity to Sir Walter Raleigh (before he was a Sir). She’s hilariously mean, but is brought out of her shell more than once, and her meanness can be justified. I like her a lot.
This is such a romance, and I don’t mean to be derisive. I just mean that the plot is mainly Will falling in love with Ellie, and vice versa, and Will fretting about having to marry Jane. There’s a little side plot about Ellie and her father’s poverty and how they’re kicked out of the castle, but this book is mostly about Will and Ellie’s journey to one another. And they do get there, I’m not sure if that’s a spoiler, but you HAD TO KNOW it works out for them.
There’s not much to say about this one, really. I liked Jane and Ellie’s friendship, I liked how Will was self-aware enough to realize he was a jerk to Ellie, I like how realistically Edwards presents Queen Elizabeth. I like how medieval life was only romanticized a little bit and I liked how much of a jerk Edwards made Sir Walter Raleigh. This one is historical romance through and through, so if that’s your bag, check this one out! I’ll be reviewing the sequel, The Queen’s Lady, which is about Lady Jane, here as well. Check this space later in the week!(less)
When I first picked this one up, I was immediately reminded of Catherine, Called Birdy, which was one of my favo...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
When I first picked this one up, I was immediately reminded of Catherine, Called Birdy, which was one of my favorite books as a middle schooler. It has the same tone to it, and the way Cecily talks reminds me a lot of Catherine. Cecily, however, thinks quite highly of herself and is rude and arrogant. She remains sympathetic somehow, maybe because she’s a girl who lost her mother, or because she’s just been uprooted from all she knows. She looks down on the Welsh, worries about being murdered in the street, and is horrified that servants dare look her in the eye. When she is forced to go to Baron Court for speaking harshly to a guard, she starts seeing that maybe things aren’t so great here for the Welsh. Notice I said “starts.” She still treats everyone like crap.
Cecily knows very little about life in Wales before she showed up, while Gwenhwyfar knows too much. Cecily is courted by a burgess; Gwenhwyfar is starving. Cecily worries about having enough gowns; Gwenhwyfar’s cow is repossessed. When Gwenhwyfar’s brother, Gruffydd, begins working at Cecily’s home, Cecily seems on a mission to ruin him because he dared look her in the eye. I have to admit, I hated Cecily just as much as I liked her, which says a lot to how well-written this one is. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster of emotion: from sympathy to disgust to horror to sadness.
When, as the summary says, things reach their breaking point, I was horrified. Cecily suffers a lot, not that I begrudge those her hurt her. She didn’t realize what she was doing, but she deserves to be punished for how she treated the Welsh. I was so relieved when I realized that there wouldn’t be a love story between Cecily and Gruffydd. The power imbalance would just be too much to overcome. It would be gross and creepy to read about. I’m all about rough ships, but not this one. This wasn’t about romance at all. It was raw historical fiction from both sides of this horrible war. I loved it. It was amazingly well-written, plus it was just such an easy read. This one is well worth your while, and I really think you should check it out!(less)
Right off, let me say I loved Adriane. I expected her to be this one-dimensional, back-stabbing, boyfriend-smot...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
Right off, let me say I loved Adriane. I expected her to be this one-dimensional, back-stabbing, boyfriend-smothering Mean Girl, but this beautiful line in chapter 10 changed my mind: “Adriane explained to me in great detail how to rid my hair of the dreaded frizz then made a classically Adrianesque segue into discussing the deep-rooted cultural and racial issues embedded into any evaluation of hairstyle.” Wasserman is a woman after my own heart! The way these kids talk, even just the narration in Nora’s head, is so refreshing and interesting, because these kids care more about their relationships and the Winter Formal (sorry, Evie), plus they’re of above average intelligence. I loved reading about their translations, their interactions, and Max and Nora’s first kiss. It was so cute and nerdy and awkward that I found myself squeeing. These characters are so endearing and relatable that when the inevitable happens, Chris is killed and Max disappears, it hurts you. I found myself hoping that Chris doesn’t die, even though his death occurs at the very beginning of this book. I didn’t want Nora to be alone.
Things start moving after Chris’s memorial service. We meet his cousin, Eli, and see Adriane again. Eventually, the whole crowd, or what’s left of it, heads to Europe, Prague, and the Lumen Dei. It’s strange how Nora and Adriane interact after Chris. Their mutual interest is gone, and they find they were hardly friends at all in the end. Still, they search for Max. And here’s where it started getting… weird for me. Is this a love story? A mystery? Am I really supposed to believe that Nora loves Max, and Max Nora, when we saw so little loving interaction between them? We saw more intimacy between Nora and Chris than Nora and Max, and I had a hell of a time believing in their true love. Max didn’t sound like Prince Charming, he sounded moody and secretive. I didn’t trust him, and it’s hard to explain why without spoiling.
So I loved the image Wasserman painted of Prague, but I started hoping someone else would get murdered. Something about the teenagers actually leaving on some far-fetched search just made me keep my distance. There’s a big betrayal a little over three-quarters of the way through, and after that, I found it hard to slog through the rest. I don’t know why, but my interest in this novel just evaporated after that Big Reveal, even though the circumstances should have made me more intrigued. Something about the last quarter of this novel just didn’t work for me. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for you though!(less)
I liked this one a lot more than I thought I would. I like fashion, but fashion to me is more like Forever 21 a...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
I liked this one a lot more than I thought I would. I like fashion, but fashion to me is more like Forever 21 and Macy’s as opposed to sewing machines and thrift stores. Clare was interesting and so was her power, even though I couldn’t remember her name for the first third of the novel. The mystery was really engaging and I found myself sucked right into this story. I like a popular girl with a secret, and I like a female protag with female friends. I guessed a lot of things, but I still found myself intrigued by the mystery (which I didn’t get until the end) and even by the romance, a little. There were some problems, in my opinion, with the way Clare thought about Jack, but all in all, this one was the right amount of fun mixed with the right amount of mystery. I liked it a lot, actually, and think if you want a quick read with a mystery and slight paranormal activity, it wouldn’t hurt to pick this one up.
There are mysteries everywhere in Winston, but the top two are the mysterious deaths of Dillon Granger and Amanda Stavros. That’s the overarching mystery in this novel, the one Clare concentrates all her psychometry on to solve. There’s also the mystery of Rachel, Clare’s best friend, and why she parties so much, why she didn’t get into the prestigious Golden Key in ninth grade, and what secrets she might be keeping from Clare. I liked Clare and Rachel’s relationship, along with the peripheral girls, Victoria and Giselle. Too many books follow heroines who have no platonic friends and spend all their time with their romantic interest. Another mystery in Winston is why Clare’s mother is so angry with Clare’s grandmother, but this one is kind of an easy one. Even Clare admits she knew all along, but didn’t want to admit it to herself.
And then there’s Jack. Jack is fine. He’s a teenage guy who’s gone through a lot, as they do in YA, and he has some anger issues. I liked their little romance for the most part, especially when Clare reveals her gift to him. That scene was very sweet. My main problem with the Jack/Clare pairing was how very aware Clare was of Jack’s anger, of the possibility of Jack causing violence, but she thinks “he’d never do that to me.” I know it’s supposed to be intuitive, that she just knows he’s safe to her, but that is classic victim-abuser thinking. How many articles in women’s magazines are about women being abused, when they started out thinking “he loves me, he’d never do that to me.” They’re almost always wrong when they think that, and I don’t think we should perpetuate this kind of thing with teens. It’s kind of scary. So that’s why this book got three stars instead of four.
Despite my misgivings, as I mentioned above I still liked this one. It was quick and interesting, with Clare confronting a lot of issues teens might face (moving, new school, trying to fit in with new friends, dealing with partying, friends keeping secrets, family interaction, etc). As I said, I liked Clare’s friendships, but I also liked how her relationship with her mother grew over the course of the novel. It was nice to see a parent who wasn’t completely absent in a YA novel. So I think this one is one to read, especially for all the female bonding happening throughout.(less)
I was sort of confused when I first started this one, because it really appears as though Urchin/Filius* hunts t...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
I was sort of confused when I first started this one, because it really appears as though Urchin/Filius* hunts the ghosts of old trains, which only made me think of Railsea. This book could not be more different from Railsea, though, so it took me a little time to get my bearings. The book begins with a kind of “cold open,” so to speak, and we’re thrust right into the story. You know what though? This one is fun. Lots of fun. And because of the whole train ghost thing, I thought this might be another fun, but silly, urban fantasy novel, but things get pretty heavy for everyone involved in this tale, and I loved it. Trigger warning, there is implied statutory rape, first mentioned in the first quarter of the book. (*I’m not sure if it’s because I got the ARC, but Beth only refers to Filius as “Urchin” once or twice in the beginning, so I’ll be calling him Filius from now on.) Despite the obvious sci-fi elements in this one, it’s also fantastical, like when we meet three sisters made of electricity, who live in streetlamps. For some reason, I imagined them as Calder’s sisters from Lies Beneath. For the first third of this novel, I was confused about the setting, confused about the characters’ motivations, and confused just in general about what was happening, but after Beth and Fil visit Reach’s graveyard, the action starts to pick up.
My favorite of the first half was the Mirror People and how very touchy they are. Their snobbery made me laugh a lot, and so did Beth’s reaction to them. I also liked that Beth seemed to realize her sudden loyalty to Fil was unusual, as she addresses it in her narrative. I liked that Beth could, and did, hold her own, and that this wasn’t insta-love. Fil and Beth are together for a whole half a book before I was even sure if they liked one another! Meanwhile, Pen has her own individual storyline and if Pollock wants me to hate her, he did a very bad job of it (though I don’t think that’s what he was going for :) ). I ached for Pen throughout the book, even during the scene in which Beth figures out Pen betrayed her. But…I had to stop about a third of the way through because I was bored. I mean, I liked the premise, I like Fil and Beth and Gutterglass, but nothing was happening. It was just Fil and Beth running around, failing to gather any significant support for Mater Viae’s cause. I took like a 10 day long break from this one and came back to it feeling a little more refreshed.
And then I was mad that I quit at all because when this book gets good, it gets great. I couldn’t put it down once I got past the 50% mark, and I loved how Fil and Beth’s adventures intensified, and I felt the horror of what was happening to Pen. Things started happening rapidly after the recruitment of the Blankleits and Sodiumites, and sometimes it’s horrific. It’s some of the best urban fantasy YA has ever offered, in my opinion. The second half of this book made me add back a star I’d dropped. Everything starts getting real, so to speak, and no one pulls any punches in this one. A lot of people just come out and say the hard truths and it’s so refreshing. And when Beth leaves Fil, before their romance even becomes anything other than a tingle, I exulted, because in this novel, our protag values her close female friends more than the guy she just met.
The ending to this one is kind of bittersweet and it made me a little angry, but this book isn’t about the ending, it’s about the journey. London. About the living, breathing streets and stop signs, the cruelty of construction and barbed wire, and overcoming horrific circumstances to not only find yourself, but also those who love you. If you can stick with it through that first half, you’ll discover a whole new world nestled within our own.(less)
I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but China Mieville is one of my favorite sci-fi authors, so when this one p...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book
I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but China Mieville is one of my favorite sci-fi authors, so when this one popped up on NetGalley, I had to take a chance. Mieville and YA? I’m so there! The beginning of this book moves slowly, in a way I think all Mieville novels do, but the ponderousness of it makes even more sense when you realize Railsea is an homage to Moby Dick (a book I loathed in high school). Sham is a boy who doesn’t know quite what he wants, doesn’t even know his own feelings on most subjects, except for salvage. He’s fascinated by ancient relics of times gone by, times when gigantic, whale-sized moles weren’t out there trying to kill everyone and everything. As someone who worshiped the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs, this new world of huge mammalian predators fascinated me. I got the feeling early on that this was going to be Sham’s coming of age tale, and y’all know how much I like coming of age tales. When Sham and the other crew find a dead train fallen off the rails, he finds a memory disk full of incomprehensible pictures–including one of a lone rail, unheard of in the tangle of the railsea. Soon, Sham and his captain, Naphi, along with the crew of the Medes, are off to Manihiki City in search of a special kind of salvage: alt-salvage.
When we reach Manihiki City, Sham immediately goes off to find the children pictured on his found disk. The results of this search are Caldera and Dero Shroake, and that picture disk belonged to their now-deceased father. Actually, Caldera and Dero lived with two fathers and one mother, a kind of polyamorous triad, and this information is presented in the most blase way. I like that Mieville felt the need to make gay/alternative relationships and parenting something so normal so far in the future. I like inclusion, and I like the Shroake siblings, too. Sham is, however, nothing if not indecisive, and misses his chance to adventure with them. He also meets a boy called Robalson, who claims to be a pirate and turns out to not be a liar. Whether he wanted to or not, Sham and his rescued bat, Daybe, go on a pirate adventure. This is also the part where the POV shifts from Sham to everyone else. I think this, the second quarter of the novel, is much more interesting than the first. The story starts to pick up, you start to learn more about Sham, Captain Naphi, the Shoakes, the railsea in general. The language remains as it has been, which can sometimes be hard to understand, but it had a nice literary feel to it.
The story eventually splits into three, following the Shroake siblings, Sham and his pirates, and Captain Naphi on the Medes. It’s also here that the narrator becomes almost its own entity, with Mieville giving the narrator its own chapters and making the narrator seem omniscient. It’s a trend of older novels to address the reader directly, something I saw a lot in my high school’s American Literature class, and it usually bugs me. Not here though, maybe because we’re following three stories now, and the separate narrator chapters helped me keep them straight. Things are moving quickly now, and we’re learning more and more of the stories, more about the pasts of the characters. The thing about this novel is that it moved so slowly sometimes that I got frustrated, but I never stopped reading or was even tempted to stop reading. I wanted to know how Sham’s, and the Shroakes’, stories ended, and they do end. Magnificently.
So, in short, this one is a little slow, a little weird with the dialect and style of writing, but it’s very Mieville to me. The story is twisty and intriguing and different, despite being an homage. Come for the futuristic, dystopian train society, stay for the giant, man-eating moles!(less)
I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into when I started this one. You're kind of thrown into Kami...moreOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into when I started this one. You're kind of thrown into Kami and Jared's connection, and the background comes later. Kami is Asian, and it's always nice to follow a POC around a novel, who communicates with a boy named Jared in her head. He's been there for Kami's whole life, though she keeps it a secret. When the Lynburn family moves back to Sorry-in-the-Vale, the voice in her head becomes a real boy-Jared Lynburn, himself. Jared is, of course, a leather jacket-wearing bad boy who Kami dislikes on first sight, mostly because he's an over-the-top jerk to her when they realize who they are to each other. I'm sure he has his reasons (like he's just trying to protect Kami from something, sigh, boring tropes are boring). I was sure Jared was such a jerk so we could see how nice his cousin, Ash, was by comparison, thus setting up the love triangle! Excuse my snark, but the beginning of this one didn't do much for me. Maybe I've read too much fanfiction, but that's what this reminded me of at first. (You must be wondering why I gave it five stars if I disliked it so much. Oh, ye of little faith! Read on!)
Eventually, Jared and Kami start hanging out, which brings us back to the plot: someone is killing animals in the woods near Kami's house, and she's determined to find out who and why. I really, really liked the conversations Kami and Jared had. They were both smart and witty, and it made the dialogue pleasant to read. I felt their spark, even if they fought it. Did I mention I was wrong about the love triangle? Wrong in the best way, really, as there is very little romance at all in Unspoken. You should all know by now how happy that makes me. Basically, try to go into this one expected and hoping for absolutely nothing romantically, and you should be just fine. In fact, I even started to like Ash a bit. It's a romance I'm willing to let burn slowly, throughout the series, let's put it that way. And oh, this one is funny. The interaction between characters left tears in my eyes from all the laughing. One of my favorite lines, out of context, is, "Oh my god, Jared. Don't tough-talk the lambs." The friendships between Kami and Jared, and Kami and Holly, and Kami and Angela were just so fluid and perfect in this book. That made me so happy.
Another thing I liked is how matter of fact everyone is about magic. You're confused and in the dark at first, but once it comes out, people are talking about it like it's no big deal. And I feel like maybe I should know better, but I like how dark and unsettling Jared is. That doesn't necessarily mean I personally like him, but his characterization was just right for me. He has had a tough life, and his whole family are like creepy wax dolls with very little emotion. You're bound to be messed up with that kind of life. So he grew on me, and so did angry, angry Angela. I liked Kami, Ash, and Holly right away. I love them all as a team so much. They're all so different, but they complement each other in myriad ways, and I just feel like I was always laughing (when I wasn't basking in this book's delicious subtle angst). I was dismissive of the romance at first, but it is truly bittersweet, and I just loved the way it hurt my heart to read about. They're teenagers, and they're so interconnected, they haven't had a chance to figure themselves out. That's what adolescence is all about, and they haven't been given that crucial developmental period. But they love each other. It's so heartbreaking that it makes me happy, which should tell you something about my cold, black heart. That's all I'll say about that.
The ending to this one kills me, as does knowing how long it's going to take for the next one to come out. This book is a must-read for all fans of Gothic, paranormal YA with magic, a bad boy, and witty dialogue all around. Definitely pick this one up!(less)