As the finale of the book series that got me through my father's death, I had high expectations coming into this novel. Such high expectations, and s...more As the finale of the book series that got me through my father's death, I had high expectations coming into this novel. Such high expectations, and sorrow over the end of a great series, that I put off reading it for a year. Then, this week (Fall Semester Finals week), I thought something along the lines of "you know what I was reading that distracted me from studying this time last year? Sacred, and then I read Gone, Baby, Gone, and Prayers for Rain over Break..." and I just couldn't stop myself from starting Moonlight Mile. So by now, it has been a little over a year since my father died, about a year and a half since I saw Dennis Lehane speak at the Sun Valley Writer's Conference, and about twelve months since I bought a copy of Moonlight Mile, and then never got up the guts to finish the series. But, you know, it's been a year. Things have changed. My love for this series, my absolute adoration of all things Kenzie and Gennaro, and my insane fan-girling over Dennis Lehane's writing have not.
When Moonlight Mile begins, it has been twelve years since the Gone, Baby, Gone case. The case that essentially made Patrick and Angie question themselves, their choices, and each other. The case that broke both their hearts. The case that made them choose opposing sides, and not speak to each other for the year between that novel and Prayers for Rain. Now, Patrick and Angie are married (finally!), and have a daughter about the age of Amanda back when she went missing. Complicated? I think so. And it gets progressively more complicated from there. Amanda McCready has turned into a very complicated character, now sixteen, who is secretly manipulating everybody but in ways I won't tell you (because even Patrick doesn't figure it out until towards the end). The lines between right and wrong are blurred beyond recognition - until almost everyone is either doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, or the wrong thing for the right reasons. And Patrick Kenzie seems to be the only honest man there is. Kenzie and Gennaro's banter is as fantastic as ever, and it is just as abundantly clear as it ever was that Lehane is an expert at dialogue. (That scene in the car when Patrick asks Angie to "speak into the tape recorder"? The scene at the playground when Angie compares Gabrielle to "Edna the Eskimo"? Those are brilliantly written, you'll know what I'm talking about when you read the book). The love story between Patrick and Angie is as believable and real as ever, and I am glad that we the readers get a glimpse into their future. I'm also very glad that Bubba, Patrick's good-hearted sociopath of a best friend, is back in this book. I like him. The plot is planned out perfectly, and echoes the plot of Gone, Baby, Gone - but Kenzie gets to make a different choice. (Oh, you'll see. No, I'm not telling you). I, for one, am glad I got one last book with Patrick and Angie (two of my favorite characters of all time). I don't think this book had quite the flawless storyline that the first three Kenzie and Gennaro books had, neither was it as morally conflicting as the fourth, or as piled with last-minute twists as the fifth - but it was excellent. It wasn't my favorite Kenzie and Gennaro book (the first three equally hold that position) - but I love it. I love this last look at Patrick and Angie's lives. I love this last hurrah before Patrick Kenzie, and I, move on. It's time for both of us to change our lives. I guess these books just hit home for me. Not because I've ever been in any of these situations (I haven't), or because I have an adoration for Boston (I've never been there, I live in California), or because I'm anything like Kenzie (I have a similar sense of humor, but that's where the similarities end), or because I love detective novels (I'm actually partial to science fiction). It is because these novels tell a great, entertaining story, but still manage to be emotional. It is because this particular brand of escapism came exactly when I needed it, a year ago. For that, I will forever be thankful for Dennis Lehane - and his books.
So here goes an emotional fair-well to a story that got me through a difficult time. Here goes a goodbye to characters I developed an intense connection to.
That is not to say that I won't revisit these books. In fact, I may need to make re-reading them a yearly thing. You know, just so I don't go into Kenzie-and-Gennaro withdrawal.(less)
**spoiler alert** Yet another fantastic Kenzie and Gennaro novel. These are some of my favorite books, and this one is no exception. I just can't beli...more**spoiler alert** Yet another fantastic Kenzie and Gennaro novel. These are some of my favorite books, and this one is no exception. I just can't believe it's the second-to-last, and that the series was supposed to end here.
Like the others in this series, this book has one main covers-all theme, and a lot of that has to do with the living game of chess that's mentioned throughout the book. It also has to do with hope (or lack thereof), and manipulation. Pearce and Wesley manipulate Karen, and the Dawe family, for money and power. That's the simple, overall plot, but the story goes deeper than that. The story goes into how it's the little things that break people.
Unlike most of the other Kenzie and Gennaro books, I found that the abstract conflicts weren't as clear-cut in this one, and it worked. Unlike Gone, Baby, Gone, it wasn't Right vs. Wrong. Unlike Sacred, it wasn't Love vs. Hate. Unlike Darkness, Take My Hand, it wasn't Good vs. Evil. Prayers For Rain wasn't about opposite abstract things and the blurred lines between them. It fell more into the overall lining of the first book, A Drink Before The War, which had to do with Politics and Morals. This one had to do with Hope and Manipulation.
I, for one, get really emotionally involved in these books. Maybe it's because the escapism that lies in the dangers of the lives of these fictional Private Detectives was what got me through my father's death six months ago. Maybe it's because I've seen this author speak in person, and in the course of the year since I was at that Writer's Conference, I've gone from not knowing who Dennis Lehane was, to being an obsessive Kenzie and Gennaro fangirl. Maybe it's something else entirely. But I get emotionally involved, and these books are certainly obsorbing. In Kenzie's darkest moments, I'm as depressed as he is. When he says something I find funny, I laugh. Even if it's in class. Even if I'm sitting by myself in the corner of a crowded couryard and the people at the nearest table stare at me. Because, embarissingly enough, that's happened more than once. I jumped up and down and grinned like an idiot when Patrick and Angie got back together, even though I knew it would happen. When Patrick got shot, I nearly screamed. Of all the characters I've read about, Patrick Kenzie is perhapse the most real. His narration is incredibly real, and it feels as though he's someone I know very well, even if he's fictional.
When it all boils down, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are the reasons I love these books.
The side characters and the dynamics between them were really fantastic in this book as well. Siobhan was an interesting character. The dynamic between Patrick, Angie, and Bubba was more brilliant than ever. Bubba and Vanessa make an...interesting couple. I loved seeing more of Bubba in this book. The Dawes were very three-demensional, especially for side-characters. Scott Pearce was a perfect phychopath. They all added together to make this pitch-perfect cast of characters. I just wish we'd seen more of Devin and Oscar in this one.
The plot itself was perfectly layed out. The unraveling of Karen's mystery happened at just the right pace. The reveal of who was behind it all was twisted at every possible turn. But, I don't want to give anything away.
Sorry if this review is really scattered. It's late, and I can never seem to come up with coherant thoughts after finishing one of these books. I'm still adjusting to the shock of being out of Patrick Kenzie's head, out of Boston, and back in my own world. This seems to happen after I finish each one of these books. (less)
So, this volume consists of both Safe House and Sanctuary by Meg Cabot (books 3-4 of the 1-800-WHERE-ARE-YOU series). I would summarize the books, but...moreSo, this volume consists of both Safe House and Sanctuary by Meg Cabot (books 3-4 of the 1-800-WHERE-ARE-YOU series). I would summarize the books, but you can read that above. Plus, I don't want to give TOO much away.
Anyways, I read the first two books when they came out in a volume a few months ago, and loveloveloved them. So it was no question I had to read this volume as well. And, you know, order the last book off Amazon three minutes after starting Safe House. Because I need to read that too. As soon as the package gets here.
First, I want to talk about the characters.
Jess is simply brilliant. I loved her in books one and two, and I love her in these two as well. She's also the perfect example of slow, realistic, character development. In this volume, Jess remains the same smart, witty, tough, stubborn character we met in volume one, but has also developed nicely. For one, she's got more of a handle on her anger-management "issues", and I liked how she was consciously trying. I also really liked how her decision to lie about still having her psychic abilities was really rooted in the fact that publicity and the FBI trouble her schizophrenic brother, and she wanted to protect him from that. I liked how her narrative seemed very real, and sometimes she didn't think rationally. Overall, Jess stayed exactly how I'd come to like her in the first too books: Remarkably human.
Rob is another character I love. Sheesh, does Meg Cabot know how to write a love interest. Normally, I don't like the bad-boy type. Yeah, yeah, call me crazy, but I don't. It holds no appeal for me. But that's just the thing: Rob isn't really a "bad boy" despite the motorcycle and the tough persona. In fact, he's just the opposite. He's so much the good-guy that it comes out in nearly every scene he's in. His protective attitude toward Jess was adorable to say the least, and I couldn't help but fall in love with another fictional character. I also really liked how we got to see a more vulnerable side of Rob in this volume. We got to see Rob's insecurities about the possibility of Jess not accepting him being a "Grit", along with other things.
Now, on to more minor characters.
Dr. Kratz (is that how you spell it?) is the new FBI agent on Jess's case, and although I hated him at first he grew into a more likable character. Especially in that bit with the skis. I have a feeling that Jess will eventually join in on his little "specially abled" brigade.
Ruth I liked from the very beginning, and that's another thing Meg Cabot does really well: Write her main characters really awesome, but flawed and a little bit clueless, best friends. CeeCee from the Mediator series comes to mind, and Ruth is like that as well. Skip, Ruth's brother, is a bit annoying, but he's supposed to be that way.
Jess's brothers I also liked, especially Douglas. He's one of my favorite characters. Mike was okay, but his obsession with Claire is getting out of hand. Great-Aunt Rose got on my nerves, but I think she was supposed to. And what happened to Jess's classmate Todd? He showed up in Safe House only to be never seen again. Oh well.
***Possible Spoilers from This Point On***
Safe House: This book was ultimately an on-going murder mystery, which I thought was really neat. I suspected the murderer from the beginning, but couldn't put my finger on why, much like Jess. He was also really charismatic, which I suppose some criminals really are. It was the whole "unacceptable" thing that tipped me off. I also really liked how the second two kidnappings were people we'd met earlier in the series, and in the beginning of this book. So it seemed very...close to home, I guess. I loveloveloved the climax, and I thought the ending was brilliant.
Also, there are a few X-Files and Star Trek referances. I'm a geek, so these made me happy.
Sanctuary: This is one of my favorites of the series so far, if only because it seems like something that could actually happen. Crazy/Dangerous group hiding out in the forest, who don't want to pay their taxes, think the government has been taken over, have something against everything other than themselves, and are led by someone even scarier? Well, it kind of seems like the sort of thing you'd see on the news. In fact, the whole "True Americans" concept seems like something you WOULD hear on the news nowadays. I'm sure there are groups like that out there, somewhere. Plus, Jim Henderson was just plain scary. This was first published in 2002, so I can only imagine what kind of freak out that guy would have had if he was real and in 2008, when our current president was elected. People like Jim Henderson scare me.
Anyways, I also really liked how well Jess and Rob worked as a team in this one, along with Chick and his biker gang. I also liked how it finally shed light on the whole Townies vs. Grits thing, and how ridiculous it really was.
Overall: 4.5 stars? Maybe I should change it to 5. This book was really, really excellent. Enough that I finished it's 500 pages in a day, even with other stuff to do. Good way to spend a Sunday afternoon, in my opinion. If you've read the first two books (volume 1) then I definitely recommend this one. In fact, I'd say read it right now.(less)
I'm a big Kenzie and Gennaro fan, and this book took a big tole on my emotions.
I haven't got the time to do a big long review, but I've got a few thi...moreI'm a big Kenzie and Gennaro fan, and this book took a big tole on my emotions.
I haven't got the time to do a big long review, but I've got a few things to say.
First, that this is a book about right and wrong, sure, but mostly it's a book about how right and wrong aren't always easy to determine. And sometimes a decision falls in both categories.
That's my main point here. I think that both Patrick and Angie were right at the end of this novel, but that they were also both wrong. Even though they took different sides.
Sorry this is such a short, and practically non-coherant review. But, it's late.
Oh! That's another point. This is the kind of book that will keep you up in the middle of the night, and force you to write a very tired, very lousy review just to get the thoughts off your head.
Now, I've got a word of advice when it comes to this book, too. I know this is the most famous of the Kenzie and Gennaro books, but you need to start with book one. Sure, it could be stand-alone, but it's not half as good if you don't read it with the rest of the series. Plus, how would you like it if I started one of your your favorite series half-way through? Don't do that to me. Thanks.
Also, that last scene with Angie moving out and Patrick's explanation when asked why? It broke my heart, too.
Fine, the whole book broke my heart. I both love you and hate you, Dennis Lehane. And neither reaction is right or wrong.
My apologies if I spelled anything wrong, or didn't make any sense. It's late. I'll probably edit and finish this review later.(less)
**spoiler alert** It's a massive understatement to say I was excited for this book. When I found it in my local Barns and Noble, I jumped up and down...more**spoiler alert** It's a massive understatement to say I was excited for this book. When I found it in my local Barns and Noble, I jumped up and down gleefully in the isle (needless to say, I got a few weird looks from the other shoppers. Still, no regrets). I'd been eagerly anticipating this book for the entire year, and over-the-moon excited for weeks.
Now I sound crazy. But I really just wanted to know what would happen to Kat and Hale and their crew.
I was certainly not disappointed.
I had a lot of questions going into this book. Would something game-changing happen in the Kat and Hale relationship? Would Nick be back? Would we get a closer look at the crew's group dynamic? Would we hear more from Romani? What would our favorite crew of Robin Hood-eque thieves be up to this time?
Oh, I got answers.
This book is definitely as good as the first book, if not better.
I don't think there are any spoilers in this, but in case there are a few really minor ones, I'll warn you here.
Plot: To tell you the truth, the first ninety pages or so had one plot, and then the rest of the book had another. And you know what? Ally Carter totally makes this work. Absolutely. Because that's just how it happens in Kat's world, and I was along for the ride the entire way. The plots in these novels seem to be about Kat and her crew's goals, and in this book they change about ninety pages in. I won't tell you more than that. I'll just tell you that it was perfectly plotted. Perfectly. There were also plenty of game-changing moments, and twists and turns, and things you wouldn't expect.
Characters: Kat and her crew are some of the most interesting characters I've seen in a long time. Their function in the thieving world (and Kat's Robin Hood Crusade to right wrongs), and overall dynamic is actually a lot like the crew in the television show "Leverage" (if you haven't seen it, you should. It's awesome. Though not as awesome as these books), but they're also different. And, with the exception of Hamish and Angus, they all have their own personalities. We got to see quite a bit more of these in this book.
Kat is brilliant as usual. She's smart, and capable. She's definitely not weak, and she's got a good head on her shoulders. She's refreshing in a world too full of books with lousy female main characters. Kat is awesome. She's also flawed, and real. She has trouble with relationships with those around her, friendships or otherwise. I have a sneaking suspicion that she has some serious abandonment issues surrounding her mother's death. Her issues and flaws often drive her to leave behind the people she loves (and often it seems like she leaves them so that they can't leave her and hurt her first). But she also genuinely cares for people, and that's fantastic. Her genuine sister-like relationship with Gabrielle is great, and very honest on both ends. Her will-they-won't-they relationship with Hale is also very interesting, and how close they are even though they have a hard time trusting each other with their emotions. Even her relationship with Nick (though I don't mean romantically) is fun to read about. And did I mention that Kat is completely freaking smart? Because she is.
Hale is also an awesome character. This book goes further into depth about his character, and his relationships with the others as well. He's got some abandonment issues buried deep as well, just like Kat does, but for different reasons. His are more about his parents taking off, and lately about Kat leaving him behind. He's also as flawed as Kat is (and he does one thing in this book I was yelling at him for. Literally). In that way, they go well together. Kat and Hale's relationship is one of the most interesting parts of this book. There's a scene around page 179 that just makes me ten kinds of happy. Also, he's smart. Do you see a trend here? I like characters who have brains.
Gabrielle is definitely one of my favorite characters. She's girly, but she's also hiding some serious brain-power in her pretty made-up head. She's also a fantastic friend to Kat (am I saying the word fantastic too much?). Sometimes, in contemporary novels especially, you see a best friend character that really isn't good for the protagonist. Gabrielle is certainly not that character. Her and Kat's relationship is genuine and nice. They're cousins, but they act like sisters.
Simon is someone we see a bit less of in this book, but he's there and he's still is genius self. Hamish and Angus may be the least deep members of the crew, but I'm glad they're there. They make excellent comic relief. And Nick...well, Nick fascinates me a little bit. I certainly don't ship him with Kat, but I like him as a character all the same. I like how he's a link to Interpol, I like his interactions with Kat, and I like a certain scene toward the end of the book with Nick and Hale.
So, Nick, when Kat eventually ends up with Hale (as I do hope she does), and if you ever happen to step outside of the fictional realm, I will happily date you. I may not be a world-class thief, but maybe I'd be a little better for your Interpol reputation.
Then there's Uncle Eddie, Uncle Charlie, and Maggie. I'm not going to tell you anything about them, because that would be just too much spoiler-stuff. But I am going to say that if the entire story had been about them, I still would've read it and been enthralled.
Themes: Well, there's certainly Kat's thieving-while-still-being-an-honest-man thing. And then there's some is-love-the-ultimate-con-? stuff. And some Kat-figuring-out-who-she-is, and Kat-learning-to-trust-others. Oh! And there's the present-reflects-the-past kind of theme. I love that one. It's all very cool. You should read it.
Writing: Ally Carter is a genius. Must I say more? If she can write characters like Kat and Hale, she's certainly brilliant. Also, you should read her twitter. It's entertaining.
Note To Self: Now, I need to read her Gallagher Girls series. I've only read the first one so far, and I know that now I need to read the rest of them.
Setting: Changes throughout the book. You'll like all of them, though. I promise.
Cover: Do I even need to say how much I like these covers? I like the sunglasses, and the glossy reflections in them (the painting in Heist Society's cover, and the emerald in this one). I like the font, too. And the back cover, with the little excerpt.
Overall: You should read this. I definitely recommend this a million times over. You should read it for Kat and Hale alone, or for the cons alone. With both? Well, you should read it twice. Because it's just that brilliant. So, what are you waiting for???
I really hope I didn't spoil anything in this review. I don't think I did, but maybe I should tag this as having spoilers anyway...maybe I will.
Anyway, Read This!!!! But read Heist Society first, I think.
Oh, and if you need another fix of thieves-turned-honest-men, I suggest you watch Leverage or White Collar while awaiting the next Heist Society book. If there is a next one. I hope so. I mean, everything here wraps up really well, so another one isn't really required, but I want there to be another one. Because I want to see more of Kat and her crew.(less)
Trial by Fire is the sequel to Raised by Wolves, a book I read and liked last year. I also liked this sequel....although not quite as much. Don't get...moreTrial by Fire is the sequel to Raised by Wolves, a book I read and liked last year. I also liked this sequel....although not quite as much. Don't get me wrong, it was excellently written. Jennifer Lynn Barns has some serious writing talent. I can't wait for her to write more books. Her writing is lyrical and easy to follow, and it just...flows. I can't explain it. Just read it, will you? At least give Raised by Wolves a try, if you haven't already.
Normally, I'd go for an in-deapth review and commentary on every aspect of the book (plot, character development, setting, writing, cover, resolution, and the works), but since it's late and I have to get up early in the morning, I'm going to be lazy and just tell you what I liked and didn't like. Hopefully, I'll cover all the important stuff.
May contain some little spoilers, but no major ones. I won't tell you anything about the plot.
Things I Liked:
- Bryn. She's brilliant, and loyal. She's a good Alpha to her pack, even though she's human. Her romance with Chase is cute. She's got a good heart, and a decent head on her shoulders. She's interesting, and relatable. Easy to like.
- Further development on Chase. You may recall that I didn't particularly like Chase in book one, because he had very little character development. He was all one-word projected thoughts, and very little else. In this book, we get to see deeper into Chase's character. Not a ton, mind you, but enough that I grew to like him. Added Plus: He and Bryn are good together.
- Devon. Do I even have to explain how much I love him? A straight guy who liked ABBA? Count me in. Why aren't you real???
- Lake. She's just awesome. Trigger happy, yes, but awesome. And smart. And willing to risk her future for the sake of someone else. She also plays a wicked game of pool.
- Devon/Lake Am I the only one who ships the two of them? When Devon says that if they loose to Shay he'll go with Lake to protect her? Awww. Come on! I couldn't help but ship them. I did in the first book, too. They're both great characters, but they are so much more interesting when in a scene together.
- How evil Shay was. Sometimes, I want a bad guy I can just hate. Shay is the perfect one.
- The setting. I like how in this book the setting is more confined, just to Mitch's restaurant and the area around. I like that. It gave me a better view of how everyone acts when confined to the space their pack inhabits, and when they're forced to deal with each other.
- The writing. As I mentioned, Jennifer Lynn Barns is really, really good at what she does.
- The title. Trial by Fire? Awesome title, although I like this cover less than the one for Raised By Wolves.
- The Plot. Although I refuse to give anything away. Sure, some of it I guessed early on, but some of the twists I refuse to spoil.
- The Werewolves I freaking love werewolves. As long as they're done well. I've seen werewolves I hate, too. But these are not those. These ones are awesome.
- The Pack dynamic. Just so great. They function as both individuals and a group. It's fascinating to read.
Things I Didn't Like:
- Caroline. That girl just got on my nerves sometimes. Was she seriously that invincible? I doubt that.
- Bryn. I know, I know, she's on the things-i-liked list too, but she needs to be on both. She gets too obsessive over everything. Also, her relationship with Devon gets a little weird sometimes. It's sibling-esque for him, but she seems oddly possessive, even though he's her brother figure and she's in love with Chase? What the hell? Okay, maybe I'm just thinking too hard. Also, I think she should have named Lake third in her pack. Lake's been in the game longer than Chase and Maddy, and thus would make a clearer leader, but Bryn doesn't think that. There were other times when I just wanted to shake some sense into the girl.
- The Coven Thing. A little bit muddled. What are these people's motives, exactly?
- Callum. I hate his guts. I just do. I know, I know, he's supposed to be doing what's best for Bryn in the long run, but I don't trust him. He let her get beaten an inch from death in book one, and now he's just manipulating her from afar. Sure, she'd probably be in a more difficult position without him, but I'm not convinced that he's on her side.
- Casey. That guy just needs to go away and not come back.
Overall: Good book. True, I like the first one better, but once again don't let the three stars fool you. This is a good read. Read Raised by Wolves first though, because I don't think this'll make much sense without the first one.
Plus, werewolves. Got to love well-written werewolves.(less)
Say goodbye to normal...and middle-of-trilogy syndrome.
Seriously, though, it seems that all trilogies suffer from this. Middle-of-Trilogy Syndrome (he...moreSay goodbye to normal...and middle-of-trilogy syndrome.
Seriously, though, it seems that all trilogies suffer from this. Middle-of-Trilogy Syndrome (hereafter refered to as MoTS) is when the second book in a trilogy is basically just a rickety bridge. It's got no plot of it's own, nothing gets resolved (at all), and the characters really don't change or learn anything. It's just a way to get from the hit-the-ground-running book one, to the epic-finale of book three. You know what I'm talking about. You've seen it a million times (speaking of which - what is up with all the trilogies lately?).
On the bright side, Supernaturally is officially MoTS free. That's rigt. It hasn't so much as shown symptoms, and it certainly doesn't have the disease.
Why? Because Supernaturally has its own plot, its own villian (who will certainly be back), and its very own conclusion. And Evie learns a whole hell of a lot.
Plot: Unique to this book. Sure, there are a lot of threads that run from the beginning of the first book, and will only be resolved in book three (like what the bleep is going on with IPCA?), and there are a lot of missing answers to questions raised in this book (What is up with Nona and talking to objects? Where's Cresseda?), but there are also a lot of things that are raised and then resolved. That's practically unheard of for a middle book in a trilogy, but Kiersten White pulls it off perfectly. THIS is what a second book should be like.
Climax: Oh, no. I'm not telling. You're just going to have to figure this one out on your own.
Main Character: Do I even have to mention how much I love Evie? She's brilliant, and she finds out a whole bleep of a lot about herself and her past in this book. You know what she does about that? No, she does not take it calmly (because who would?). She flips out, just like anyone would. She's remarkably real, in a totally unreal world. Her relationship with Lend is cute as can be (but also has a few hurtles to jump in this book), her obsession with all things girly is as amusing as ever, and her dealing with her paranormal/not paranormal status is full swing. It takes a lot to handle knowing you can suck out and obsorb other people's souls (and that, instinctively, you want to) - and to manage to hold all of that at bay to protect people you don't even know. Evie's strength of character is amazing. Also, what she is is pretty interesting to find out. Not that I'm telling you, of course.
Other Characters: Once again, let's start with Lend. Basically because I adore him. Lend is great in this book, but he does kind of take a backseat. He's not the punch-Raquel, fight-for-our-lives Lend we saw in the last book. This time, he and Evie are in his comfort zone, not hers, so those roles are pretty reversed. He's the one who is used to the world around them, and it's Evie who is out of place. It's an interesting switch. Then, there's Jack. I can't tell you much about him - but let's just say he's entertaining as bleep, and one of my favorite questionable-motives characters I've seen in a long time. You never quite know what's going on in his head. Even when you find out what he's been doing (and no, I'm not telling you), you still won't really know his motives. He's quite the character, and brilliantly crafted. He takes a lot of the spotlight in this book (although no one is as entertaining as Evie), and he's fun to watch. Arrianna is another character I really enjoyed in this book. She's come a long way, as she tells Evie, and gradually she and Evie are becomming friends. It'll take some more time, though, before they actually trust each other enough to be perfectly honest. But they're getting there. I still miss Lish, though. She was my favorite in the first book. Vivian, surprisingly, is a great character in this book. She offers much needed companionship to Evie - even if she only shows up in a kind of dreamland, and she's still in a coma. Probably always will be, but you never know. Reth is someone I would've liked to see more of in this book. I liked how he was the too-beautiful, paranormal EX-boyfriend, kind of the end result of the typical paranormal romance - the part where it crashes and burns because a faery who has been around for millenium and a teenage girl really wouldn't have any common ground, and he would need ulterior motives. I like the idea of a character like Reth - even though I hated him. That was the thing. I LOVED to HATE him. I wish he'd been a bigger deal in this book. Though, I know he'll be back and better than ever in book three. And hopefully Lend will get to punch him in the face, or something equally awesome. Because Lend is awesome that way. Then there are other characters I both liked and disliked. Raquel - I still don't know her motives. Carlee - dumb as a post, but nice enough. David - still hung up over Cresseda. You know the deal, if you read book one.
Writing: Kiersten White is amazing. And brilliant. That is all.
Cover: I love it! Whoever this cover artist is, they are really good at what they do. The red sky? SO faery-realm.
Overall: This was a great second-book. No MoTS here. It was awesome, and could probably stand-alone. But I don't suggest that you read it alone. I'd like you to read book one first (because it's fantastic and sets the stage), and THEN you should read this one. If you've already read book one...what are you waiting for?
**spoiler alert** So what am I supposed to say about Starcrossed? I really wanted to love it, that I'll admit. It's greek mythology, and I like greek...more**spoiler alert** So what am I supposed to say about Starcrossed? I really wanted to love it, that I'll admit. It's greek mythology, and I like greek mythology. I like romance novels, too, so that was a plus. Also, it has a pretty cover, and every interview by the author seemed interesting. Josephine Angelini is likable on camera, especially.
Romeo and Juliet mixed with The Iliad is how she described it. Somehow, I just didn't really get that.
Well, actually, I got the Romeo and Juliet thing for the middle part of the book. Then again, that's one of my least favorite Shakespeare plays, and I love Shakespeare. I just always thought that one was way too much lust disguised as love.
Just like Helen and Lucas's relationship, actually.
More on that later.
Things I Didn't Like
First, I want to talk about the mythology in general. And how much it didn't make any freaking sense. First off, I know greek mythology. I started this book expecting to see familiar aspects from Homer's works, but I didn't. I didn't see much in this book that related to what I'd read in The Iliad and The Odyssey, besides maybe some names. Secondly, you just can't mix mythologies. And this book tried to. Warning: Mixing Mythologies Almost Always Fails Miserably. Just don't do it. Simple as that. Atlantis? Yeah, nothing to do with Greek gods. Sorry. Also, don't mess with Atlantis Mythology while I'm around. It's another one of my favorites that I'd prefer nobody screwed with.
Okay, calm now. Let's talk about Helen and Lucas's lust. Because that's really what it was. All the hand-holding and I-can't-sleep-with-you didn't fool me. It was lust anyway. They had no chemistry, and yet the minute they weren't fighting with each other anymore they were claiming they were in love. Um...insta-love alert. Only it didn't really read like love. It read like Romeo and Juliet's lust. Which, maybe, was the point. I don't really know.
One more point about lust, though, before I move on to something else. Helen is supposed to be crazy-beautiful, right? So why aren't the guys as school, or even Hector and Jason, lusting after her too? I mean, I'm in High School, I know how hormonal teenage guys respond to hot girls, and it's not the way they respond to Helen for most of the book.
But, even if I suspend my disbelief on that matter, there's still one more problem I have with Helen and her romantic entanglements.
I call it the Cassandra Clare card.
Yeah, you know what I mean. The love-interests find out they're related - but they're really not - but they don't know that - but the reader finds out - but the characters still don't - and so on and so forth.
Now, I know I seem like the only person on earth who didn't like The Mortal Instruments (because I didn't. No! Don't hit me! I just didn't like them. I'll shut up about it, if it makes you feel better). Still, even then, the we're-related-but-we're-really-not card is already used in popular YA. I hope that matter gets cleared up for Helen and Lucas ASAP in Book 2.
Lastly, Helen herself. Yeah, not catching on fast enough. Sorry. I guess I just like my female protagonists to be brighter.
Things I Liked:
Mainly Claire. Yep, she was my favorite character. Smart girl, short but tough, not afraid to insult people? I relate, so I liked her. She was also the great, supportive BFF for Helen. Even when she was angry, it didn't last long. Their relationship was great, fantastic even. I wish it'd had a bigger part in the book.
And "What the holy hand grenade was that?" was definitely a fantastic Claire line. Also, a Monty Python reference, though I don't think that was intended.
I also kind of liked SOME of the Helen/Lucas moments. Not all, but more some in the beginning. I liked when they fought when they first met. That was unique, and interesting. And the car rides. Most of them were great.
I liked the Aphrodite thing, too. Good twist. Also explains the lust thing, so it negates some of my problem with that. Who wouldn't be filled-to-the-brim with lust if they were related to Aphrodite? I mean, if that particular goddess were set in present day, she'd probably have the same problem, plus more.
I liked Cassandra a lot, too. I liked that she was the youngest in the family, and a girl, and still the one in control. I liked how she got prophesies and such. She was like the batty old psychic figure, without being batty or old. I also liked how she and Helen didn't really get along in the beginning. I found that dynamic to be kind of interesting.
I liked Hector as a character. I loved to hate him for the first half of the book, and learned to genuinely like him later. He was developed well in the storyline.
I liked the genuine, real love relationship between Jerry and Kate. I also liked how okay, and supportive Helen was of it.
I liked the entrance of the Daphne character. But, again, I don't think the faking-that-Helen-and-Lucas-are-related-just-for-Daphne-to-come-to-a-truce-with-the-Delos's-House was a good move.
I might give Book 2 a try. I may even recommend Starcrossed. It was a quick, nice read. I know people who will like it. I know a lot of people will probably like this. People who don't overanalyze will probably love this book. But I'm an English geek, so I overanalyze everything I read. It's just the way my mind works. So yes, if you're thinking about reading this and you generally like fun Paranormal Romances with little substance, you'll like this one. If you tend to analyze mythologies, character relationships, and themes, this may not be the book for you.
If you liked Twilight, then you're definitely not the overanalyzing type and you'll like this one. It's romance-y, so give it a go.
If you liked the Mortal Instruments, you'll probably like this as well.
This wasn't a bad book, by any means. Yes, I would've probably given it 2 stars without Claire, but it DOES have Claire. So perhaps 2.5. (less)
Surprisingly enough, I really liked this book. I know, I know, a lot of other reviews have said it was awful, but I didn't think so. I think Stephen K...moreSurprisingly enough, I really liked this book. I know, I know, a lot of other reviews have said it was awful, but I didn't think so. I think Stephen King was right (in the afterward) by saying that this was basically a like-it-or-hate-it kind of book, with little to no in between.
I've been meaning to read this for a while, but I could never manage to hunt down a copy. It looks to me like it's out of print, but I don't know for sure. Anyways, I couldn't find a copy until a few days ago. You see, I'm in my hometown for the summer, and there's a good Library here. I was in the Library using the WiFi to take an online course, and figured I'd look up Stephen King and try my luck, one more time. If not, there's always the Dark Tower series, which I've heard is good. Lo and behold, I found The Colorado Kid, checked it out, read it, and here I am.
First and foremost, let me start by saying why I read this book in the first place. I like Stephen King, sure, but it's not like I'm an uber-fan. I haven't read all of the dozens of his books (I haven't even made a dent in that). But however much I like Stephen King (and watching the movie variations of his books with my easily-frightened sister), it was actually the Sci-Fi show Haven that made me want to pick up The Colorado Kid.
And no, I'm not calling it "Syfy". Whoever advised the company to change the name is a moron. Do they think people are so afraid of science that they won't watch a channel with "Sci" in the title? Maybe I have too much hope in humanity, or something. Maybe more people watch it when it doesn't mean anything.
That's not the point. The point is that I really like the show Haven, and I wanted to read the book that the story arch was loosely based on. I don't mind that the basis was really, really loose. In fact, I prefer it to television shows that try to be like the book - and then make the characters act completely different (The Vampire Diaries, anyone?). I give up on stuff like that, if I'm a fan of the book. But now, being a fan of The Colorado Kid, I can say I love both the book and the television show.
Why? Because they're both excellently written. That's what drew me to Haven in the first place. It's a really well-written show (with some questionable special-effects). And The Colorado Kid is a well-written book.
Basically, it's about two newspapermen and a graduate student sitting on a porch talking about an unexplained mystery and drinking Coca-Cola. Maybe that doesn't strike your fancy, but remember that Stephen King wrote it. So it's got to be weird. Interestingly weird.
The Colorado Kid was a man who died on a beach with no identification, and with nobody really sure whether it was because he choked on a piece of meat (found in his throat), or because he had a stroke (evidence in his brain). The only thing identifying him is a pack of cigarettes with a tax stamp that says "Colorado". Only, the Colorado Kid didn't smoke (lungs looked fine). There's also the matter of a Russian coin in his pocket (during the Cold War), and the fact that he left Colorado the afternoon before he died. So...how'd he get to Maine so freaking fast, how did he really die, was it an accident, and why is a non-smoker toting around a cigarette pack (with only one gone), and so on.
There are a lot of questions.
There are also no answers.
Okay, fine. I lied. There are a few answers. But not nearly enough. Too many locks, and not enough keys.
And then, Stephen King goes and leaves it that way. A twenty-five (thirty-something by now) - year-old mystery, and no answers. Just a couple of newspapermen telling a twenty-something girl the story - and hoping she asks the right questions.
So, it's a mystery. It's also kind of a test, for Stephanie (the grad-school student), about what it means to write a story, and is she really cut out for the job. (less)
**spoiler alert** I picked up this book because I'm a Debbie Viguie fan, and the premise looked promising. I figured it'd be a nice, action-y read, bu...more**spoiler alert** I picked up this book because I'm a Debbie Viguie fan, and the premise looked promising. I figured it'd be a nice, action-y read, but I had no idea just how much I would love it. And I do love it. I don't give many books five stars, but this one deserves it.
Crusade revolves around a group of "hunters" in their mission to save humanity from the Cursed Ones. They all have different reasons, motives, backgrounds, and personalities, but I'll get into those in a bit. I don't know whether this book is dystopian or not, seeing as it doesn't take place too far in the future, but it certainly has the same kind of feel, where it's your world - but it's not, so you have no idea what is going to happen next. You just keep turning the pages.
Now, there are spoilers galore in this review - so if you haven't read the book, I suggest you don't read this. The surprises are half the fun.
Plot: Impressive. And by that, I mean that I found it hard to pick out a clear plot. In most books, plot is so structured that I can pretty much figure out what will happen next. And usually, I like that. But here...well, it's much different. The plot for most of Crusade didn't look like your usual structured plot. It just looked as if the characters were living their lives - and their lives brought them into each situation. Sure, the plot got more structured around the climax, but for most of the book it was just their lives. The plot was happening, but it was so well hidden that it didn't look like it was stringing the characters along. The "find Heather" plot-line was more structured, but there were a lot of seeds sown in through the other plots and stories that never found their climax like the "find Heather" one did - because the characters' life problems couldn't be tied up in one climax. I am oh so happy this is a series. There are so many things that I am still wondering about. Some of these not-so-structured plots may have been annoying to some, but I for one loved them. I think all those loose ends are going somewhere, eventually. All in all - the plot, and multiple sub-plots, kept me hooked. Once I was a few chapters in, I literally had to force myself to put this book down so I could eat and sleep.
Main Characters: The Salamanca Hunters are a miss-matched group of people. None of them have much in common, and yet they have to work together for the greater good. And I think it was fantastic that they didn't function flawlessly, and that they had their doubts about each other. It made them all the more real - and more likable. While I've read reviews from people who hated the switching point-of-views, I liked them. It gave insight into the head of all the different characters.
Jenn is the most human of them, and probably the one the reader is supposed to relate to most. She thinks of herself as the weakest link in the group, and that makes her easier to identify with. She's Just Jenn. She's also one of the most emotional of them. Her love for her sister being a huge example of that. And her love for her grandfather (her father-figure) who dies early in the book (which made her even more relatable to me, seeing as I lost my father recently). Plus, there's the fact she's in love with Antonio, despite what he is. One of the things I found most interesting about their characters is that their story here wasn't about them falling in love - it was about them staying that way, and staying together.
Antonio is Cursed, but he's fighting against the Cursed Ones. In fact, he seems to be the only Cursed One who still has a soul. He was studying to become a Catholic Priest when he was unwillingly changed back in WWII, and has been fighting to keep his mind, and sense of good, since. His beliefs drive him. His belief in God, his belief in love, and his belief in a greater good. He's an admirable character, and the kind of love-interest I would like to see more of. The good guy, even though he's in a bad situation.
Eriko is the chosen Hunter - the one who was given an elixer to enhance her physical abilities. I have to admit, in the beginning I wasn't a bit fan of Eriko. She grew on me later, though. Her backstory probably made the least sense, but in the present, she's tough. Tougher than anyone, but has her own problems as well. I'd like to know more about how the effects of the elixer are taking their tole on her, and how she's handling things. Although the narrative switches who's head you're in a lot - Eriko probably gets the least page-time. Maybe there will be more about her in a future book.
Jamie got on my nerves, but I also understood why he is the way he is. But really- did he have to be so nasty to Antonio and Holgar? At least he cares about Eriko. But, he's probably my least favorite team-member. Hence, he gets the shortest paragraph. Although, I did like the insight he gave me into how the Cursed Ones situation made even the real-world tricky situation in Northern Ireland worse.
Holgar, on the other hand, I loved. First off - I love the idea of werewolves. Love them. Just love them. I loved how protective Holgar is of Skye, and how he is wolflike- while still being human. He is a nice guy, but you find out the least about his past. I hope that is flushed out more in a later book too, because this is supposed to be a series. I really want to know Holgar's backstory, and why he came to Salamanca.
Skye was probably my favorite of the team, even though I related to Jenn most. Skye is...interesting. Her backstory was the most clear, besides Antonio's, and made the most sense for her character. It's also probably the most heartbreaking. The man she fell in love with turned out to be evil and chose the wrong side, and has been trying to drag her over the line to the Cursed ever since. He's after her - and there is something that Skye sees toward the end of Crusade that stands as proof that it's not just Skye's paranoia that's making her think so. On a lighter side of things - I will never understand Skye's crush on Jamie. Personally, I'm shipping Skye/Holgar (especially after that scene in the last chapter) - even if I'm the only one.
As a group, the Salamanca Hunters don't trust each other much of the time, but they make a good team nonetheless. And an interesting one to read about.
Other Characters: Father Juan is mysterious. I don't quite know his motives, or what he's after. The reader spends very little time in his head, and even while you're there, you don't learn much about him. But, at the same time, I kind of trusted him. Until, of course, Antonio started having doubts. Also, based on that line in the last chapter that went something like "...longer than anyone else could imagine.", I have one main question. Is Father Juan immortal? Or eternal? Is he literally that saint, or is he the reincarnation thereof. Because there is no way he's a normal person.
There were quite a few side characters, but not many of them are worth mentioning. I started out disliking Heather, but gradually grew to like her, just in time for - well, I'm not going to tell you. This review may be VERY spoiler-y, but I'm not going to tell you that. Michael Sherman was annoying, but I'm still wondering what happened to him. Did he actually become Cursed? Who were the people who took him? What the heck? Then there were the characters we only meet in flashbacks. In which case, I wasn't a fan of Lita, Estefan was just plain scary, Maeve's fate was sad, along with so many other's.
And then there's Aurora. When we first meet her, it's in a flashback, and I felt bad for her. Was almost rooting for her. Which was an interesting way to introduce the main villain - make you see her as a person first. And then, when it jumps back to present-day, and she's all creepy and soul-less. Well...she's just plain scary. But at the same time I still feel like she might be the victim here.
Ending: AHHHHHHH! I need the next book. I really do. I HAVE to know what happens. But, although all the loose-ends are frustrating, I am very pleased with who the new leader of the team is. Plus, that last chapter as a whole made me ten kinds of happy. It was just so...perfect.
Writing: I'll be the first to admit I wasn't a fan of the WIcked series. There was something about it I just didn't like. But, that could be just me. However, I have loved every Debbie Viguie book I've read besides those. I haven't read anything by just Nancy Holder yet, but Crusade gives me confidence that she's also an excellent author. Unlike some co-authored books, this one flows brilliantly, and these two are clearly a good team. Like Salamancans...except without the vampire hunting.
Cover: Okay, so a lot of the visuals on this book seem like false advertising. The summary sure is (the book is not all about Jenn, or her going home, or her relationship with Antonio. That summary really threw me off). The book is also not all about the Salamanca University where they train. By the time this book begins, all six of our core characters have graduated. And the vast majority of the book has to do with things OUTSIDE of the academy. So, although I like the pretty cover with the great color scheme - it's a little bit misleading. But, the thing I really like about it is the mood it sets. Because it's just the right mood for the book.
*edit: The paperback cover makes more sense in the fact that it has nothing to do with the Salamanca University, but having Jenn on the cover leads to the same problems I had with the summary. The POV switches so much in this book that it's impossible to really state Jenn as the main character.
Overall: Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I love this book. I love how it takes a look at good vs. evil - and who is really in the right. I love how it takes a look at faith, and how faith makes you stronger. But it doesn't just look at one faith, but at many in many different cultures. I also love the parallels to WWII - me being a history buff. But more than anything, I loved the characters. And the characters are worth reading about. I highly recommend this book. It's unlike any vampire, or supernatural, novel I've ever read, and it's fantastic. Action, adventure, romance, good vs. evil...and I could keep listing points forever. Just read it. It'll be worth your time.
Now...what am I going to do with myself until the next book comes out?