More historical novel than plot, the story of Maggie Blair interweaves the tumult of the Covenant movement in Scotland during the reign of Charles II...moreMore historical novel than plot, the story of Maggie Blair interweaves the tumult of the Covenant movement in Scotland during the reign of Charles II with the coming-of-age of a lost and imperfect girl. Maggie is hardly a heroine, no strong convictions or brave acts, instead simply trying to get by, as unnoticed as possible despite the situations she lands in. It is her motivations that make me divide her from typical heroism in these sorts of novels, but there is definitely a case to be made for her perseverance where many others would have faltered along the path, nary to rise again. Maggie falls often, but always gets back up, even if she has to be dragged, and perhaps there is a bit of heroism in that.(less)
What begins as a novel fairly predictable in premise becomes a rich story of intrigue & faith - faith in people, and in the calling of those dedic...moreWhat begins as a novel fairly predictable in premise becomes a rich story of intrigue & faith - faith in people, and in the calling of those dedicated to the service of the old gods, now Saints in a newly Christian Brittany.
My favorite parts of the novel are Ismae's questions - who to trust, how to trust herself, and for what purpose was she given her gifts? Her inward self-examination makes for an interesting undercurrent, though I admit I am predisposed to fascination with Death - the dual natures of mercy and vengeance, each able to masquerade as justice. Politics and faith intertwine, forcing Ismae to determine if those who have guided her faith are more trustworthy than herself, a young assassin not yet inducted into the full knowledge of the arts she practices.
I'm slightly disappointed that the next novel focuses on a different novice, but in doing so, am hopeful the third novel will address Annith, left behind by both Ismae & Sybelle (the protagonist of the second novel), and the only one who must learn her way under the constant scrutiny of those who trained her, while Ismae, and surely Sybelle, gain their independence outside their convent walls.(less)
I wasn't expecting zombies. In fact, I was a little disappointed, because I was in for a post-apoc survival story, which was unfolding a little like a...moreI wasn't expecting zombies. In fact, I was a little disappointed, because I was in for a post-apoc survival story, which was unfolding a little like a game of "Fallout". Still, the zombies don't overwhelm the story, and in fact are simply another layer of the world they label as After. In the Before, which was only a couple if years ago, bioterrorism came home to roost, as it were, destroying the country. As a last resort to save its people, the US Government develops kaysev, a seed for a plant that will grow & flourish anywhere, & provide all the vitamins, fiber, & protein the human body needs. But something happened when the seeds were dropped from the planes over Northern California - the blue leaf. It hid among the kaysev plants, and had terrible consequences for those who ingested it - the lucky ones died of fever. The unlucky ones, well...zombies.
I'm also becoming more and more enthusiastic about Harlequin's LUNA label, as this barely contained enough romance to be called Harlequin - or maybe I was just distracted by the single-minded "survival and rescue" operation embarked upon by the book's main character, Cass.
I really enjoyed this, and I know there are two more, so I look forward to finding out more about this world Littlefield has created.(less)
The first few pages pull you in - the writing is sharp and concise & despite the simplicity, there is still that emerging sense of terror amid sen...moreThe first few pages pull you in - the writing is sharp and concise & despite the simplicity, there is still that emerging sense of terror amid senseless & nonsensical death. But everyone is dead in the first 20-25% of the book, and while the remainder had plenty of openings for continuance, the route the author chose didn't contribute to the thrill-with-a-touch-of-terror hinted at from the start. Instead, it feels messily introspective without forward momentum in the plot. I learn nothing new in the second act. Well, what I read of it, that is. The underwhelming nature of the second act was such a contrast to the first act that I was actually bored. I did not finish this book because as it approached a climactic opportunity for storytelling, I completely lost interest. How embarrassing.(less)
Fast-paced third installment in the Heroes of Olympus series, the quest begins in earnest as the Seven demigods set off to foil Gaea & save the wo...moreFast-paced third installment in the Heroes of Olympus series, the quest begins in earnest as the Seven demigods set off to foil Gaea & save the world. Romans & Greeks working together, everyone has something to work out in themselves to ensure they do their part for the quest. Team building, character development, & plenty of Greek vs. Roman arguments to be had, this is easily the best of the series so far. The added bonus of character-focused chapters help the reader get to know each of the questors, though I admit I live the Percy chapters because I'm still not ready to cut the cord with the Percy voice. Leo was a personal favorite when he was introduced, & continues to impress.
And, of course, all my love for Percy & Annabeth, who prove over & over that, even were they not the children of gods, they would still be heroes.(less)
Fantastic yarn, woven with picture & word, just enough je ne sais quoi to feel literary, and a sprinkle of pure fantasy. Couldn't put it down, and...moreFantastic yarn, woven with picture & word, just enough je ne sais quoi to feel literary, and a sprinkle of pure fantasy. Couldn't put it down, and can't wait to see what the next adventure is!(less)
Found it rather predictable at the start, but was engaged significantly enough to keep reading, curious at how the story would unfold. Overall, the th...moreFound it rather predictable at the start, but was engaged significantly enough to keep reading, curious at how the story would unfold. Overall, the themes occur in this first installment are familiar - quelling a population in the interest of the whole, and revealing that a small group of people controls the entire citizenry without their input or, even, knowledge. Westerfeld develops a world that is easy to understand through the eyes of his main character Tally, and she is neither too stupid nor too smart that the narrative feels too convenient or unrealistic. Instead, the reader is simply guided along by Tally's story, augmented by familiarity with events and revelations that occur in many other dystopian novels. Specifically, I recalled Brave New World numerous times, though the mention of the Specials brought to mind Game Plan by Charles Wilson.
Am interested enough to keep going, to see where this story leads, as even familiar ground can be covered differently.(less)
So much of this book was unexpected, I barely know where to start. What I thought I wanted from this series turned out to be a clever trail of breadcr...moreSo much of this book was unexpected, I barely know where to start. What I thought I wanted from this series turned out to be a clever trail of breadcrumbs laid by Rowland to send her readers for a spin. Several new characters & the abrupt change of scenery, now that Kara has been Summoned to the Demonic Realm, mean that every event feels rushed & makes my head spin. Still, those are not at all bad things, as it helps the reader relate to a confused, frightened, and eventually determined Kara.
I cannot disclose anything further, since every moment should be experienced by the reader unsullied by teasing tidbits of plot, but rest assured, even though you thought you knew where this was all going, you should've trusted your instincts (or maybe it's just me & my damned fool optimism that needed the kick in the head?), because it's a whole different ballgame when the Demonic Lords get involved.
Needless to say, I was extremely (and surprisingly) pleased by the outcome, and the divergence from Rowland's normal crime-solving formula was barely noticed as this new installment immerses the reader in all sorts of juicy new lore & intriguing new characters. Can't wait to read what happens next!(less)