Taking place right after book 2 of Dory's series, this brief story was a nice treat. It's a fun examplRating is for Karen Chance's "In Vino Veritas."
Taking place right after book 2 of Dory's series, this brief story was a nice treat. It's a fun example of how trouble finds Dory no matter what. Chance's knack for hilarious situations made me laugh aloud several times and the ending left me so excited for the next book. I can't wait for more!...more
I was deeply displeased with Mac in book one. I felt zero connection to her overly girlie, I Am Entitled attituArgh! Who told this story to improve?!
I was deeply displeased with Mac in book one. I felt zero connection to her overly girlie, I Am Entitled attitude. I want to shake her to bits.
I didn’t care much for Barrons either. I didn’t dislike him, per se. Indifferent fits the bill better than any other description.
But the plot and world-building were sound. That, combined with the rabid fan-hordes and a readily available library book, prompted me to read on.
There’s marked improvement, on all fronts. Gone are (almost all) the interjections from Future Mac. There’s no more Clap-on, Clap-off, We’re Stripping! (::nod to new_user::) Barrons is on a noticeable slow burn towards Broody But Reliable Hero. And Mac…she’s actually becoming likable. She’s now doing her best to view the world with a wary eye. She’s admitted her ignorance, and is finally working to soak up every bit of knowledge, learn every angle, and call up that Savage side that lurks in a survivor’s heart. She still has plenty to learn, but I have to admit the rabid fan-hordes got one thing right: Mac’s growth is unfathomable until you continue with the story.
As for the overall plot, Bloodfever strikes me as more cohesive than the first installment. Developments and clues are woven into the story rather than spoon-fed to us, a consequence of Mac using her noggin more frequently. She’s still being toted from place to place, but she’s more invested in the quest. Her focus makes the whole thing a more pleasurable read. Key players pop in and out, each leaving behind a precious tidbit of info and inspiring new resolve.
Moning loves her enigmas. Barrons is the most prominent one, and I’m already formulating theories about who or what he is (yes, I have them all jotted down, Mac-style). One thing I liked so far: A plot-point in this book raised a question in my mind…and a few pages later, Mac asked the very same question aloud. That I appreciated. How often have we, the readers, stared angrily at a page, demanding that a character voice our own queries? It gives me hope that Moning will pay as much mind to the unraveling of mysteries as she does to setting them up.
I wish I could come up with some negatives to counterbalance the positives. Granted, Mac is still a damsel at times, but since she’s human that’s to be expected. She still makes some foolish moves, but I see the common sense kicking into gear so I can’t blame her for a few slip-ups.
The most negative comment I can make is this: I wish Moning hadn’t smeared Mac’s “belle personality” on so thickly in the first book. KMM only did herself a vast disservice in making her lead so abhorrently closed-minded. Bloodfever feels like I’m reading about a completely different person - one I would have been happy to spend time with from the beginning....more
Criss Cross, the second installment in the PsyCop series, is just as good as the first. Vic’s self-deprecating, dry humor makes him a likable characteCriss Cross, the second installment in the PsyCop series, is just as good as the first. Vic’s self-deprecating, dry humor makes him a likable character, and his struggle with his abilities ups his realism. Jacob Marks is the perfect blend of tough-guy intimidation and caring patience; I’d love to have a Marks of my own. (Ohhhh boy, can these two steam up a shower!) The side characters add interesting layers to the story - especially a newly introduced metaphysical healer who is intriguing as all get-out. I particularly like Vic’s relationship with Maurice, his now-retired partner. Price does a good job of portraying the bond they share after working together so long, and his inclusion shows us the kind of loyalty Vic inspires in others.
There are one or two obvious clues in the development of the mystery, but Price makes sure to throw in some surprise developments to keep things fresh. The pace is quick, maintaining momentum from beginning to end, and making me wish these books were longer. This is one series I’m definitely sticking with....more
I've been told I'm a wee bit notorious for spoiling myself. No, not with expensive baubles; I'm as stingy as th*Contains spoilers for previous books.*
I've been told I'm a wee bit notorious for spoiling myself. No, not with expensive baubles; I'm as stingy as the winter night is long. The accusation is that I have a bad habit of thinking too far ahead, thereby making it very hard to truly surprise me.
So when handed a series most readers admit is filled with clue-by-fours, I look to the characters to inspire delight and devotion...
Yes. Something ranty this way comes.
But first, let's take a look at my notes from this series (predictions I made while reading) and discuss the plot of Last Sacrifice.
After book one, Vampire Academy: Lissa's power is the same as Vladimir so might bring Strigoi back to life. CHECK. Dimitri will probably become Strigoi. CHECK. (view spoiler)[Christian and Lissa on their way to ruling. (hide spoiler)]CHECK. Victor will escape. CHECK. Mason will die, Mia will turn around, raven is important. TRIPLE CHECK. (view spoiler)[Ms. Karp will show up again as good though Strigoi. (hide spoiler)]Mostly check. Identity of Rose's father will make her politically important. Nope, not as I imagined. Though shady Abe is still interestingly powerful.
After book four, Blood Promise: Lissa or Adrian will bring Dimitri back to life. CHECK. (view spoiler)[Lissa will lead moroi. (hide spoiler)]CHECK. Battle between moroi & strigoi. No large-scale one and, wow, what a missed opportunity. Diplomatic policy on horizon. Duh. (view spoiler)[Dimitri or Lissa will kill Victor. (hide spoiler)]. I'll give myself half a check, though I wish I remembered why I thought those two names specifically...
That's an awful lot of plot-points to nail from the get-go. And that frustrates the hell out of me. It insults the reader's intelligence to have so many hints banging around. It robs the reader of the thrill of discovery. Worst - for both reader and author - it presents foregone conclusions that eliminate the driving need to know OHBOYWHATNEXT!
That's not to say Last Sacrifice didn't hold a few surprises. For example, two identities were revealed that I didn't suss out ahead of time. Unfortunately, such is my despair over Mead's telegraphing that I wondered if the clues were always there and I'd just lost the investment necessary to notice.
The pacing was brisk despite the book's length, mostly because Mead had so much ground to cover. As anticipated, Moroi politics were heavily featured, though not in great detail. Running the scenes through my head, I keep returning to a likeness to Survivor (who will be eliminated at the Tribal Council!) and a strange skewing of the grail choice in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In other words, their politics are ludicrous, so perhaps it's best I didn't learn more.
The parallel investigations Rose and Lissa conduct are another main focus - not that there's really much "investigating." The real answers fall into their laps quite easily once they ask the right questions, but I'll give them credit for legwork.
The rest of the book is made up of romance, guilt, stupidity, and hanging plot-points. Attacking the concrete first, there are numerous concepts and events that are dressed up as important but never addressed: (view spoiler)[The Keepers' society, Angeline's desire to escape, Lady Ivashkov's machinations, Eddie's punishment, Sonya's return, the consequences of Sydney's complicity...the list goes on. (hide spoiler)] Inexplicable, until you remember Mead's next endeavour is a spin-off series. Then comes the dawning realization that all these bits are just set-up for Bloodlines.
Which is reinforced by the fact that none of these unresolved ideas have a lasting effect on Rose. But then, what does?
You know what? Change of plans. I'd envisioned writing a scathing rant on Rose's uselessness as a character. Her egocentric attitude. Her desperate need for an After-school Special lesson on consequences. But I'm only left with the oomph for two comments.
Comment one: Rose is handed a piece of info. After 120 pages of illogical and ungrateful behaviour, she shares this info with Characters A and B. Character A does some hacking and tracking. Character B calls in some favors. Rose takes a nap. Character C works some magic on a Mystery Guest who leads the whole crew to Answers Personified.
Pardon my obtuseness, but how does that translate into Rose being an amazing hero who made it all happen?
Comment two: I don't need to lambast Rose's behaviour and worldview because someone else did it for me. In an onslaught of clarity borne of heartache, Adrian rightly accuses Rose of using him. Of caring little for others as long as she gets her own way. Of shrugging off responsibility and rarely facing repercussions. Was the scene intended to make Adrian seem weak and desperate? Or were we to read between the lines and see Mead admonishing her own character?
I think the former more likely.
In typical Rose fashion, the self-examination doesn't last long. Her guilt is easily shrugged off and her happy ending solidified with the utterance of her delusional mantra, "I protect people."
And so she does. May heaven help whomsoever she protects. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
If you've liked the series all along, I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy this final installment.
Most every little loose end is tied up, big changes oIf you've liked the series all along, I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy this final installment.
Most every little loose end is tied up, big changes occur, both the bad guys and good guys get what's coming to them, and it's all wrapped up in a pretty bow. Just what you long for in a series ender.
So why am I stingy with the stars?
Because Signs of the Zodiac infuriated me from the get-go. All the promise of a unique paranormal world, tainted by confusing explanations and baffling characters. I wanted to put it aside. But at the end of each book, I lamented the mobster pull of the final scenes - the writer always throwing in a twist that made me just curious enough to read on.
I was never attached to the characters. I didn't buy into the threat posed by the Shadow agents to the city at large, so I didn't care whether they were defeated. The Light agents had been vilified in so many ways that I couldn't want them to win. I didn't quite feel the big connection between Hunter and Jo either, so I couldn't focus my energy on wanting them reunited...
And Joanna is a pain in the ass. Her mind frequently wanders to talk of her Playboy-centerfold body, the malleability of her sex, the perception of all attractive females as stupid, and the concept that regardless of all the roles she might play, the most important one is Woman. And a Woman always wants to be Chosen (by a man). Sure, there's some truth to these generalizations. But bringing them to the fore again and again makes me think this woman defines herself only through a man's eyes, no matter how much she might outwardly cry otherwise.
In short, I wanted her to stop obsessing over her looks and her gender and just get the job done.
I also wanted her to stop taunting the kids at the comic shop. Since readers of this series are likely to have an affinity for comics, it seems an odd choice for the main character to verbally insult these children all she can. The excuse that they won't remember any of it when they grow up is...pathetic.
I feel I should say something about the tulpa - the true Big Bad of the series - yet I can't muster up the energy for it. That's probably because his thunder was so effectively stolen by Solange, with only the last fifty pages devoted to the all-important confrontation. Anti-climactic, to say the least, but the scenes with Solange were freaky enough to almost make up for it.
So despite the fact that I read all six books, despite the fact that I applaud Pettersson's attempt at an unusual world, I was left dissatisfied. No more from this author for me....more
Bloodshot is a fast-paced, engaging tale that wends its way through secret government organizations, clandestine bioresearch groups, and the odd dragBloodshot is a fast-paced, engaging tale that wends its way through secret government organizations, clandestine bioresearch groups, and the odd drag club or two.
It's told from the viewpoint of a vampire catburglar named Raylene. She's a likeable smartass who prefers a clean getaway to a physical confrontation - or so she says, despite the trail of bodies she's defensively leaving in her wake. She's a paranoid loner when we first meet her, so despite her undead status this isn't a tale focusing solely on vampire politics. Instead, it's much more of a pure mystery/suspense job than I normally come across in UF.
All the better, because it means we're ensconced in something a bit fresh, a bit new. So many vampires are engaged in assassin/bodyguard positions, after all. Why not put all that supernatural agility to a different use?
Raylene may not have vamp politics to discuss, but she sure has a lot of info to dole out. The author narrowly avoids ye auld info dump by fashioning her lead into a mental babbler. She goes off on frequent tangents about herself, her day-to-day life, her techniques for staying under the radar, and the worse case scenarios she mentally prepares for. Yet for all Raylene's preparations, I agree with one character's assessment of her as rather reckless - controlling smaller aspects and allowing larger plans to fall to improvisation. It means we never know how much trouble she'll fall into...and it's a hell of a lot more fun that way.
Trouble in Raylene's case means dodging bullets, jumping across rooftops, escaping burning buildings, evading capture, and digging up the occasional grave. There's little to no downtime, yet the story never feels too hectic. The leads she picks up are never too obvious. The answers she finds are chilling and satisfying, while still leaving much more to be discovered in the next installment.
Raylene's sidekicks are unique, though their personalities fall a bit flat. Granted, the plot doesn't leave much time for heart-to-heart convos, but I'm hoping for more depth in Hellbent, book two of the series.
Which I'm just on my way to pick up at the library, so overall Cherie Priest must have done her job well....more
Dramatic, certainly. And relatively well-paced, in a way that makes this installment slightly better than the rest. Instead of taking place at St. VlaDramatic, certainly. And relatively well-paced, in a way that makes this installment slightly better than the rest. Instead of taking place at St. Vladimir’s Academy, the majority of Spirit Bound finds Rose, Lissa and friends either out in the real world or inside the Moroi court. Yes, Blood Promise was also set outside the confines of the school atmosphere, but having Rose’s friends around her means we have more characters to focus on and a more balanced story.
Unfortunately, it’s still one with heaps of problems.
I enjoyed Mead’s exploration of Moroi politics and wish she'd delved into it even further. Seeing how the society is governed and the different factions emerging in light of the Strigoi threat brings greater gravity to the situation. Rather than eavesdropping or making assumptions, Rose and Lissa are able to visit court discussions, interact with the queen, and gain knowledge of new rulings almost immediately. Meeting other members of the Moroi race highlights the different opinions held within their society - most notably, their view of Dhampirs. Rose finally understands that many of the elite respect the Dhampir race and hold their sacrifices in high regard. She also realises that the real world is not school. Acting out does not result in demerits or a slap on the wrist. Instead, she faces the very real threat of never being assigned as Lissa’s guardian. Moreover, she risks never being assigned to field work at all and sees the very real chance that mountains of administrative tasks might be all she has to look forward to.
As for the rest…there are so many tiresome aspects to the story. Victor, Dimitri, Adrian - Rose’s immature interactions with each stand in stark contrast to the more adult environment she inhabits. Granted, she’s still 18. But with everyone telling her what a dynamo she is, shouldn’t I be allowed to expect more from her? Instead Spirit Bound finds her as infuriating as ever.
Here lies a rant: (view spoiler)[Victor: Breaking him out of prison was the most hair-brained scheme she’s come up with yet. For a person claiming Lissa’s safety as paramount, she rarely supports this through her actions. Releasing, and then losing, Victor is the height of selfish behaviour. It puts not just Lissa, Eddie and Adrian at risk, but the whole of Moroi society. All for a chance at Victor’s brother - whom I guarantee Abe could have found for her if she pressed the issue.
Adrian: Why in heaven’s name does Rose think it’s acceptable to date Adrian (who is so obviously in love with her) while she’s still pining for Dimitri and engaged in a quest to save him? If she truly cared for Adrian, she would respect him enough to say in no uncertain terms that she isn’t ready for a relationship - not while Dimitri is still a wild card. Again, Rose displays how selfish she is by stringing Adrian along. She even has the audacity to be disappointed in him when he isn’t eager to further her quest.
“Surely…surely he loved me enough to come to my aid?” p. 158
Yes. Yes, he does, the poor fucker. And she takes advantage of that at every turn. She even has the balls to keep using his money, not just to fund a birthday present for Lissa but also to finance part of her little jailbreak expedition! She has zero respect for him, and it’s unwarranted.
Dimitri:Just when I think Rose has outdone herself in the immaturity sector, she does it again. Her One Twuu Wuv comes back from the dark side and she insists that everything immediately return to normal. She completely discounts his confusion and despair, refusing to acknowledge the hell he has endured. If she truly understood Dimitri, should would know that a man of his strict moral code would be horrified at the creature he had become, the acts he had committed. Instead, she charges at him and makes emotional demands. It’s the Me Me ME! show.I’m the one that saved you. I’m the one that suffered for you. I’m the one that made your transition possible. Now give me my due. Yes, emotionally blackmail the devastated man into loving you. That will work a treat. Ugh. If I couldn’t understand what Dimitri saw in her before, I certainly can’t see it now.
Add to this Rose’s other faults - her brash decisions, the public threats she’s made toward anyone and everyone, her inability to reign in her temper - and I’m glad she’s being brought up on murder charges. I almost hope she gets convicted of murder, because a person like Rose needs to understand consequences. Unfortunately, I’m sure this won’t be a learning experience. It will turn into another case of Rose the Poor Martyr, the Misunderstood Angel. And that is the biggest tragedy of all.(hide spoiler)]
With only one more book to go, I might as well finish the series. Most of my predictions already came true, so at the very least the last installment should include some surprises? Maybe? That’s my hope, but not one I'll hold too dearly. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Well, slap my ass and call me Sally. Mead managed to surprise me. Twice, even! There were still plenty of things**3.5** **Spoilers for previous books**
Well, slap my ass and call me Sally. Mead managed to surprise me. Twice, even! There were still plenty of things that went wrong in this book, but the surprises made for a nice change.
“In my dreams, you shone. You burned like a star, and I saw you as a warrior, someone who could do great deeds. Instead? You’ve sat around and moped. You’ve done nothing.”
Damn skippy. The first half of the book treats us to an overabundance of angst. Granted, Rose has a right to grieve and moon over her lost love. Unfortunately, these thoughts consume her. The result is page after page of ineffectual storytelling. Instead of giving us badass Rose on a mission, Mead delivers sappy Rose in a daze. New aspects of moroi and dhampir society are introduced, but the emotional weight obscures their importance. The only advantage of this section is the realism Dimitri gains. Apparently, Rose and her teacher had more private moments together than we thought. Their inclusion helped justify the all-powerful bond Rose feels with Dimitri - not completely, but enough that I’m not as puzzled by the relationship now.
The book doesn’t really take off until Rose and the newly-minted Strigoi boyfriend meet again. This is the most interaction we’ve seen between the two for the whole of the series. It’s bittersweet and includes a decent amount of tension. Rose’s indecision knocks the haughty arrogance out of her, and it was interesting to see her worldview challenged. It showcases her personal agony far more than the sentimentality of the first half did.
While Rose is off on her “quest,” she often uses her bond to check on Lissa. This aspect drove me nuts. Thankfully, it served a greater purpose in the end, but getting there was tedious. It was all too convenient that every time Rose visited Lissa’s thoughts, the moroi just happened to be discussing her. It also halted the action in a book already plagued with false starts. Finally, it created inconsistencies in the timeline (ex: Rose hadn’t checked on Lissa in several days, but when she enters her friend’s mind only a few hours have passed). I liked the magical discoveries resulting from this side-story, but the execution was lacking.
I liked Adrian from the start and Blood Promise shored up my feelings. He steps up in several ways and I wish Rose would put more faith in him. I believe he plays a larger role in the next book - I’m looking forward to that.
Blood Promise is an okay addition to the series. It takes too long to get to its destination, dampening my sympathies. Despite the few surprises, it also supports the predictions I’ve made based on all the clue by fours. I’m invested, but I’m hoping there’s a final added twist to make the six book journey worthwhile. ...more
ETA: I've continued reading this series and want to point out I gave books four and five considerably higher ratings. Four stars each. _______________ETA: I've continued reading this series and want to point out I gave books four and five considerably higher ratings. Four stars each. ______________________________________________
“You mean well, but you’ve never been all that bright.”
So the Luidaeg says of Toby, and wow, is she right. She also claims that all heroes are idiots and that October is the most passively suicidal person she’s ever met. The sea witch’s opinions echo my own.
Previous books established Toby as a lousy detective. I’d hoped An Artificial Night would run more smoothly since it focuses on Toby as knight rather than P.I. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
The book does have its high points. Once again, McGuire’s use of mythology is stellar. She obviously has a great affinity for legends and ballads and puts them to good use. She creates interesting characters and a creepy, dreamlike atmosphere in which everything malevolent is possible.
She’s also adept at comedic interludes. The Luidaeg and May (a new character) provide amusing scenes, and the fluid practicality of the children is enough to prompt a smile. Of particular note is a car chase that’s both harrowing and hysterical, detailed enough to widen my eyes and cause a sharp intake of breath.
Lastly, Tybalt’s cryptic statements combined with the (irritatingly) frequent mention of Toby’s mother set up a larger plot arc that sparks my curiosity.
Then we have the negatives.
Toby is still floundering around like a fish out of water. Some of it isn’t her fault, since the folks with the info are never straight with her. But if she’s reluctantly decided she’s a hero, I expect her to start picking up a few tricks. Maybe even habitually carrying more weaponry than a mere token knife. On this front, there’s no progress. I’m all for good intentions, but I prefer my heroines to possess common sense.
October hurries here and there and back again. She has good reasons, but her travels become tedious in their repetition. The first few times she set off, I was concerned. By the fourth time, all the tension had drained out of me and I only wanted the story to end.
It didn’t. There’s a distinct moment where McGuire could have broken off the action, saving the hanging threads for a future plot. But in an effort to tie up everything with a neat little bow, our heroine dashes off again. In the process, she becomes a terrible ingrate. Suffice it to say several people put their lives on the line for her. By running into danger so soon after, she not only displays her suicidal nature - she shows an utter disrespect for those who care for her.
Good intentions be damned. I’ll be sorry to leave Tybalt, May, the sea witch and cute little Spike, but Toby‘s helter-skelter, illogical ways are too frustrating for me. Heroes are idiots according to the Luidaeg, and I’ve no patience for it.
ETA: I've continued reading this series and want to point out I gave books four and five considerably higher ratings. Four stars each. _______________ETA: I've continued reading this series and want to point out I gave books four and five considerably higher ratings. Four stars each. _________________________
** Almost a 3 **
Seanan McGuire is talented. She’s just useless at crafting mysteries.
Unlike the first book, A Local Habitation resulted in me liking Toby. She is strong-minded and determined. She’s also quite amusing in her interactions, particularly when conversing with Quentin or Tybalt. She’s fiercely loyal, holds duty in high regard, and cares deeply for her friends.
That said, she’s a terrible investigator. Most of this book takes place on one compound, and yet Toby is still running from place to place, finding more bodies than clues, and frequently damaging herself in the process. It’s almost comical. When she does come across a clue, she seems to dismiss examining it further. She’s always allowing something else to take precedence rather than stopping to think things over. Her investigation includes little more than sifting through paperwork and conducting a few spells. It’s tiresome, watching people get killed while perfectly good hints go to waste. At the end, the case is solved primarily through the process of elimination. No wit, no intuition necessary.
And yet I admit McGuire has talent. Her skill at world-building is evident, as showcased in her manipulation of fae lore to create a believable, varied cast of characters and an understandable magic system. She is adept at humorous dialogue, made clear by the opening scenes between drunken Toby and sober Tybalt. So I’m not sure why she fails so spectacularly at weaving together plot threads to form an intriguing mystery. I want so much to like these books, but the investigations are so haphazard and pointless that it’s hard to be satisfied. Toby is supposed to be a professional PI, but apart from her skill with blood magic she lacks the necessary tools to solve anything. While I might like her as a friend, I certainly wouldn’t assign her any work.
Liking October Daye and the rest of the characters, I’m willing to read the next book. However, I don’t know how long I’ll stick with this series unless there’s a marked improvement in Toby’s sleuthing. ...more
Too much repetition, matched with some grossly illogical moves, made this hard to get into. And let's not discuss the bizarre similes. No more for me,Too much repetition, matched with some grossly illogical moves, made this hard to get into. And let's not discuss the bizarre similes. No more for me, thanks....more