There was nothing super exciting or remarkable about this book but I know I can count on Diane Gaston to deliver a kind, honorable hero. So, there's t...moreThere was nothing super exciting or remarkable about this book but I know I can count on Diane Gaston to deliver a kind, honorable hero. So, there's that.(less)
I was really eager for this book because I adored In For a Penny, and while A Lily Among Thorns wasn't quite as good as that book, I was not disappoin...moreI was really eager for this book because I adored In For a Penny, and while A Lily Among Thorns wasn't quite as good as that book, I was not disappointed in it.
Basically the only reason I've given it a four-star rating is that it starts off pretty rough. A lot of information about the characters and different plot threads are thrown at you in a very short amount of time, the scene transitions are quite choppy, and overall it was just disorienting to try to keep track of everything before I'd gotten a feel for who all of the characters were and how the various parts of their backstories related to each other. I found myself wondering if I was reading a book that had had to be cut down for length without removing any of the threads of the complex plot. Luckily after a few chapters things get a little less frantic and all of the plot threads come together nicely by the end.
I fell in love with the book after it slowed down a bit and really began to focus on the characters, who really make the novel shine. Serena is so heartbreakingly terrible at feelings, and Solomon is so lovely and understanding. I loved that their romance moved slowly and that it felt like they had a real understanding of each other by the happily ever after. Just like in In For A Penny, I was struck by the little details the author included to show how thoroughly they had come to know one another (in that book, for example, it was a scene where Nev cut up Penny's food for her at the buffet). I also enjoyed the rather unconventional b-plot romance, which I don't want to say too much about for fear of spoiling it.
On a side note I've seen a few other reviews mention that Serena seems to be too competent at everything to be believed, but I did not get that at all. While I'll admit that I didn't fully understand how a high-class courtesan ended up having such extensive ties with the underworld, it wasn't improbable enough to take me out of the story.
All in all this was an emotionally satisfying romance with wonderful characters and a delightfully authentic happily ever after. While it didn't quite live up to In For a Penny, Rose Lerner is still going to be an autobuy author for me.(less)
I'm waffling between 3 and 4 stars for this one. I enjoyed every minute of it, and there were some really lovely scenes, but the ending was a bit too...moreI'm waffling between 3 and 4 stars for this one. I enjoyed every minute of it, and there were some really lovely scenes, but the ending was a bit too pat and the characters and story weren't really that unique. Not my favorite by Julie Anne Long, but still a very solid book and better than the average romance novel.(less)
I don't even know that I necessarily liked it less than the other books; it just felt so long and by the end I was so relieved it was over. Possibly I...moreI don't even know that I necessarily liked it less than the other books; it just felt so long and by the end I was so relieved it was over. Possibly I should not have marathoned the whole series in the weeks leading up to the ADWD release.(less)
There were a lot of issues with pacing--even though this was an easy read, it felt like I was slogging through it most of the time, in part...more2.5 stars.
There were a lot of issues with pacing--even though this was an easy read, it felt like I was slogging through it most of the time, in part because the first half of the book is told largely through flashbacks interspersed with the current story. There is also some information about sailing, merchant seamen, and piracy that reads like a bit of a "my research let me show you it" infodump, which is boring if you already know a bit about the Age of Sail (and possibly even if you don't and just aren't very interested).
I also had a lot of issues with Jack's characterization; there were definitely moments where I went, "Yes, this is the Jack Sparrow I know and love," especially during his interactions with Beckett, but there was a lot of characterization I wasn't willing to accept even taking into account that this was a younger and more naive Jack. I felt that both the pacing and characterization were much better towards the end, which I really liked, but I'm not sure it made up for the ~500 pages where I kept asking myself if my dedication to the PotC franchise was strong enough to keep me reading.
On a very pedantic note, early on in the book the Faithful Bride tavern is referred to as being in Port Royal, when it is actually in Tortuga. Not a mistake that most people would notice, but enough to throw a nitpicky, overly-devoted PotC fan like myself out of the story for a moment.(less)
Well, that was an emotional rollercoaster. I spent the second half of the book swinging between crushing despair and fervent hope every couple of chap...moreWell, that was an emotional rollercoaster. I spent the second half of the book swinging between crushing despair and fervent hope every couple of chapters. My only gripe is that it could have stood a bit of editing--Connie Willis is a fabulous writer who adeptly handles very complex plots, but both Blackout and All Clear had a lot of sections where the characters were constantly analyzing their every minute action, and the effects they may have had on the space-time continuum, that just got repetitive after a while and bogged things down. That said, it was definitely worth the read.(less)
I spent the first part of this book completely enthralled. The author has a wonderful way of making you feel immersed in the exotic locations and the...moreI spent the first part of this book completely enthralled. The author has a wonderful way of making you feel immersed in the exotic locations and the history of the places her characters are visiting. I loved experiencing Istanbul, Cold War-era Hungary, Bulgaria, France, and countless other places through her prose.
But there's a point where the spell wears off and you go, "My god, I'm reading about the main character reading letters about her father reading letters about his mentor doing research, and I can't remember when something happened in the present day part of the story." Or, "I'm over 80% of the way through this book and there are still at least two major plot points that need to happen in this extended flashback. Stop educating me about Bulgarian folk dancing so we can finish this with enough time to wrap up the actual main plot of the book!"
And indeed, after all of that setup, all of the meticulous accounts of frustratingly slow research, traveling to one place to find a tiny piece of helpful information that requires our intrepid heroes to pack up and move to a new intricately-described location and start all over... the dramatic final confrontation feels like it's over in the blink of an eye. Just in time for a little more backstory, to tie up all the loose ends. In essence, this story is all slow build, and very little payoff.
As for that payoff, the biggest frustration I had with this book comes from the fact that the big reveal makes no sense logically. Like, I'm still angrily trying to puzzle it out. I won't discuss it here, since it spoils everything, but my god is it a letdown.
My other frustration with this book comes from the fact that some of the plotting felt a little lazy and amateurish. If something is necessary to the plot, but difficult to explain, it simply isn't explained. The main characters need to be able to trust this new character enough to tell him about their secret goals? They "just know" they can trust him. Travel to a certain place should be nearly impossible for the main characters to arrange? The characters comment on the fact that they have no explanation for it, as if to let us know that the author is aware of the fact that she doesn't know how they accomplished it, and that's apparently good enough. The plot also moves forward thanks to coincidence quite often, as our main characters just happen to bump into exactly the person they didn't know they needed to meet in order to further their search. I will grant that a novel that deals with the supernatural has more grounds to deal in inexplicable feelings and coincidental meetings, but when it seems like the author isn't capable of moving the plot forward any other way, it starts to grate.
The authors descriptions of the creepier and more atmospheric elements in the book also have the same tendency towards laziness. Too much telling, not enough showing. For example, bad guy is of average height, but gives an "inexplicable" feeling of greater height. His boots are "indescribably different" than any other boots the heroine has seen before. It would have been a lot creepier if the author had used concrete examples to build an otherworldly, looming presence instead of going, "Uh, he looked weird. I don't know how, but it was weird. And it was scary. You should be scared."
This review is starting to look a little too bitter for the star rating I gave this book. I gave it three stars because, frustrations aside, I truly loved the first part of the book. It may be all slow build, but that slow build is rewarding enough to almost be worth it.(less)
I don't really like urban fantasy, but I loved Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century novels, so I thought I'd give this a go. It's definitely no...more3.5 stars.
I don't really like urban fantasy, but I loved Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century novels, so I thought I'd give this a go. It's definitely not my favorite of hers simply because it was so very urban fantasy, but it was fast-paced and hard to put down, and I loved Raylene and Adrian. I will definitely keep reading this series.
As for all the people grading this book down because it's lacking in steam, I will say that I prefer a lack of porn to a book that tries to be sexy and fails miserably, as a lot of steamier urban fantasy tends to do (one of the reasons dislike the genre).(less)