AH CLOSURE. “Just One Night” was exactly the ending readers wanted and I loved that Forman gave that to her readers. The tingly feelings are there, Al...moreAH CLOSURE. “Just One Night” was exactly the ending readers wanted and I loved that Forman gave that to her readers. The tingly feelings are there, Alyson and Willem are still truly infatuated with one another, and you get to see how many near misses there were and the great lengths both went to in order to find one another. Yet there’s still that question in the air: where do they go from here? What happens next?
It’s 43 pages. I don’t want to say too much, but it’s adorable. There’s both an actual continuation of the plot and enough kissing to satisfy the yearning for closure. I was totally satisfied with it, so if you have been hesitating because of the cliffhanger ending or didn’t want to spend $0.99, go ahead and do it. It’s lovely.
This was a good novella, and I was surprised to find that it really changed my outlook on Sam. In the first two books of the series, I was viewing him...moreThis was a good novella, and I was surprised to find that it really changed my outlook on Sam. In the first two books of the series, I was viewing him as this wise, steady musical genius who had a fierce love for Ana and was kind of her solid rock through a lot of what's been going on.
In this novella, which takes place before the reincarnations begin, Sam is a young child, hated by his father and grieving over the loss of his mother. In their survival-first society, there's no room for a dreamy kid obsessed with music and good at little else. Sam is scared, and because I'm expecting him to act like the preternaturally mature reincarnated version of himself, the (dare I call it?) cowardice and uncertainty were at odds with his characterization as we know it.
And yet, going into Infinite and reading about Sam's struggles and seeing some of that same fear reappear, it just made him more human. Some of these characters have been so perfect, so wise, so skilled that they just didn't seem real. Sam's fear in this novella enhanced his characterization in Infinite, and made me like him even more.(less)
This didn't really add a whole lot to the story. We already knew Alex was running from a daimon, and watching her mom die (view spoiler)[knowing she'd...moreThis didn't really add a whole lot to the story. We already knew Alex was running from a daimon, and watching her mom die (view spoiler)[knowing she'd come back as a turned-pure (hide spoiler)] was anticlimactic when you've read Covenant already.(less)
Much like the end of Quest and beginning of Voyage, those who are kidnapped do not remain so for very long. Kelsey is rescued literally within 35 page...moreMuch like the end of Quest and beginning of Voyage, those who are kidnapped do not remain so for very long. Kelsey is rescued literally within 35 pages. And, since no journey is complete with magical oddities, Mr. Kadam and Nilima materialize out of thin air, Mr. Kadam with a somber attitude and a bunch of secrets and cryptic advice. Fun, fun, fun.
Kelsey is still with Kishan, even after they visit Durga again and Durga gives him the most blatant come hither look in the world and Kishan is totally enraptured by her. In the highly telling moments that follow, Ren beats up on Kishan for so blatantly lusting after Durga while standing directly next to Kelsey, while Kelsey isn’t all that broken up about it. (Because you love Ren, you moron.) They continue to do magical quest stuff, Ren is super jealous of Kelsey and Kishan’s relationship, and he gets all moody because his memory has returned and now he’s in love-hell. Once again, Kelsey pours her heart out to a total stranger about who she really loves and why she’s really with Kishan. *Yawn* Haven’t we read this before? Several times?
Much like Voyage, Tiger’s Destiny comes to us in two parts. After all the above, they have to journey to the past to defeat Lokesh. Time travel! Fun! They meet the woman who will become Durga (once she fulfills her destiny), and she completely hates Kishan and crushes on Ren, which makes Kelsey jealous and pouty.
The first half of Destiny was by far the stronger part of the novel. While the romantic deja-vu bothered me, the quest parts of the novel are always interesting. In this one, they have to enter a volcano, meet phoenixes, get all burned, fight some monsters, fend off a chimera, escape from some immortal twins who want to marry Kelsey and then kill her, and all that is before the time travel. They’re very active when they’re questing; when they’re tackling magical obstacles, the romance drama is present but not the entire driving force of the plot. When they’re not questing anymore, the romance suffocates the rest of the plot. When they travel back in time, Durga doesn’t like Kishan so she spends time with Ren – which makes Kelsey insanely jealous. She’s also taking the gifts and learning to use them to become a goddess, so Kelsey really isn’t useful, much less the center of attention on this part of the journey. And of course, she’s missing Ren and talking herself out of loving him, as per usual.
In the series overall, a couple of hundred pages of “who should I love, why should I love him?” could have been cut to strengthen the overall narrative. This tendency reminds me a lot of the “Mortal Instruments” series by Cassie Clare. They’re good, and they’re addictive, but they are overlong and in desperate need of a meaner editor.
That said, I did like the ending and how Houck handled the resolution for the love triangle. While we can’t exactly call anything about this series realistic, the characters are easy to like even when they’re driving me crazy with their emotional turmoil. To make a long series short: if you like paranormal fantasy YA romance adventures, escapism, and addictive books that aren’t strictly “great,” then give the Tiger Saga a whirl. It’s entertaining, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Part 1: Ren’s memory of Kelsey is gone, and he’s got a strange aversion to being around her and he’s definitel...moreTiger’s Voyage comes to you in two parts:
Part 1: Ren’s memory of Kelsey is gone, and he’s got a strange aversion to being around her and he’s definitely not in love with her anymore. They go to visit Phet to see if he can fix it, and Phet says the memory block is coming from within, which makes Kelsey cry. Kelsey tells Phet she doesn’t know who to choose, and Phet says that like pillows, she’d be happy with either one. Kelsey tries to be Ren’s friend, which is hard, and they go to a big fancy yacht where once again, the reader gets beaten over the head with wish-fulfillment: WiFi, big screen TVs, a media room, exotic foods and beverages courtesy of the magical fruit, and not just two but three boys who are panting after Kelsey. Kelsey is pursued by the tigers as well as her diving instructor, another person to whom she pours out her sad, sad story about not knowing who to choose to spend her life with. She eventually starts dating Kishan, which makes Ren jealous even though he’s all confused about her anyway, and basically they’re both miserable.
Part 2: Dragoooooooooons. The third task involves sailing into another magical zone and meeting with the five dragon guardians of the earth. At each dragon, they have to complete a task and retrieve an object. Throughout the tasks, there is much angst. Kelsey knows she loves Ren but she made a promise to Kishan to be with him and that’s what she plans to do, even though she knows she won’t ever be completely happy. Because drama. Sometimes the dragons call her out on her feelings, and sometimes she has to admit to her feelings when she doesn’t want to in order to complete the tasks, and sometimes it’s awkward. Okay, it’s awkward mostly the whole novel. This could have been called Tiger’s Awkward Voyage into the Love Triangle (Featuring Dragons). Catchy, right?
Storywise, Tiger’s Voyage was much stronger than Tiger’s Quest. The first part dealt with the very real problem of Ren’s memory-loss, a clever plot device really because it kept the romance angle interesting in that Ren wanted to be with Kelsey but felt physical pain by doing so. It kept you rooting for them as a couple. The second part was the strongest, though it took 250 pages to get there. The quests with the dragons were interesting, and Houck gave each of the dragons different personalities. Some that I thought would be good weren’t, and some that I thought would be evil weren’t. Like Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Voyage ends on a dramatic action scene, complete with an “oh no!” moment that leaves you demanding the next book.
While the romantic triangle-that-became-a-square-and-then-became-a-triangle-again continued to annoy me, what annoyed me more was the over-the-top wish-fulfillment. Like in Tiger’s Quest, Kelsey’s concern about various moments of mortal peril are nothing compared to the constant inner monologue about who she loves and who to “choose.” Come on now. This was never really in question, was it? Sure, we like Kishan, but we also like Ren, and more importantly, you’d have to be a moron not to know who Kelsey really loves. What’s more, Kelsey knows who she really loves, and it bothers me that she would stay with Kishan while being more in love with Ren.
In the End: And yet, even as much as the wish-fulfillment and love triangle bothered me, I kept reading. These books are like YA-fantasy-romance crack. Are they perfect? No. Are they derivative? Yes. Did I still race through them to find out what happened? You betcha.
You know when you’re reading a series, and it’s not that it’s good exactly, but it holds your interest and you’re dying to know what happens even thou...moreYou know when you’re reading a series, and it’s not that it’s good exactly, but it holds your interest and you’re dying to know what happens even though you see tons and tons of flaws? That’s been this series for me. In order to properly enjoy the Tiger Saga, you have to suspend your skepticism on a few key points:
-Tiger’s Quest in particular is so strongly reminiscent of Twilight that I actually shouted in my apartment: “THIS IS TIGER FRICKING TWILIGHT.” The wealthy, super old but young-looking Ren sets up his lady-love with a house, car, tuition, bank account, etc because despite being broken up, he wants her to be taken care of. Then he comes back, breaks up a love triangle with a prospective new boyfriend, and they have magical adventures.
-The entire series was over-the-top wish-fulfillment. I mean, I cannot even. Every time they go on an adventure, or they go back to a house, or anywhere, they are essentially living in luxury. There is no need, even in the middle of the jungle, that Durga and her magical items cannot meet. With their physical needs taken care of, there’s also the emotional angle: Kelsey is pursued by two sweet, hot, caring men who are deeply in love with her and all she has to do is PICK ONE. Seriously.
And yet, I kept reading. Eagerly. I wanted to know what happened, and I wanted to see how long it would take for Kelsey to get her head out of her butt and realize she loved Ren. Though many of the twists in Tiger’s Quest were predictable, some were not. I enjoyed the ending, because despite her commitment to keeping her characters warm and safe and fulfilled on every level, every now and then Houck will let them get attacked and get the everloving crap beat out of them, which one might expect on an epic adventure in a foreign land. (They heal right away because ouchies are NOT safe and comfortable, y’all.)
Compared to later books in the series, “Quest” handled the quest aspect rather better. The group has a whole different arc at the beginning where Kelsey is trying to heal from the breakup, she goes out with different guys, she tries new hobbies and makes friends. She has a life beyond her connection with the supernatural, if of course you discount the fact that Ren has set her up for life with her house, car, money, etc and she doesn’t have to learn how to be really independent. Kelsey is not spoiled or bratty, which helps her characterization. I have the feeling that if she did have to work for her comforts, she would, and she’d be cheerful about it, but Houck robs us (and Kelsey) of the maturing experiences of “I worked that hard for THIS amount of money?!” Her life is uncomplicated by the mundane concerns of life, and those kind of things tend to make a character relatable. I’m not saying I want a full breakdown of Kelsey’s errands and bank statements, but all this wish-fulfillment puts her on a pedestal.
In the End: The series has become a guilty pleasure read for me. Objectively, it’s not great. It has more weaknesses than it does strengths, but kind of like Twilight, it’s occasionally fun to suspend your skepticism and read about the idealized other.
Right from the very first chapter, All Our Yesterdays sucked me in. Why is she in prison? She’s so snarky! Why does the boy in the next cell care if s...moreRight from the very first chapter, All Our Yesterdays sucked me in. Why is she in prison? She’s so snarky! Why does the boy in the next cell care if she is fixated on the drain? What does she think she’s going to accomplish by taking the drain cover off? HOLY CRAP SHE FOUND SOMETHING IN IT. Y’all, she put her hand down there and I’m expecting the next sentence to be how she gets bitten by a rat, but it’s way better. Em left herself a note somehow, and she has to kill someone.
Em and Finn have a discussion about the note, when they’d need to go back to kill this person. Em gets tortured and then a guard comes to rescue them, providing information he could have only gotten from Em herself, and that’s when we learn there is a time machine.
At first, the switching between Marina and Em was a little strange, almost too abrupt because we didn’t know who Marina was and why she mattered. Once that’s revealed (and it’s fairly obvious after a few chapters), it’s much easier to sink into the story. Marina’s story is in a past timeline, and focuses on her relationship with her neighbor and unrequited love James, a brilliant teen science prodigy who lives with his brother, Nate. Nate is a promising young Congressman and has raised James since their parents died several years prior to the story. James has a very annoying friend named Finn who bothers Marina greatly and yes, that lightbulb above your head has just gone off.
You realize that Em and Finn have gone back in time to kill their best friend/childhood love James, because James invented the time machine and got all crazy and now he’s gone all evil. This is why we don’t mess with space and time, kids.
This story hits you hard in the feels because of the alternating timelines. There’s the Marina of the past, who is so clearly wrapped up in James, waiting for him to smile at her or tell her she’s special, because her parents suck and James is center of her world. Then there’s the Em of the future, who has been through so much with Finn, spent months talking to him between prison cell bars, and has had to come to terms with the fact that James has eaten the Dark Side cookies. She’s tried and failed to change the future fourteen times, and this time, she and Finn will have to kill him. That’s a sobering thought for anyone, but especially his dearest friends, who remember him as the brilliant, grief-stricken young man of the Marina timeline. It’s sobering for the reader because you read how Em and Finn have been through so much together, and their feelings have changed so much, you read Marina’s feelings for the boy next door, and you wonder how he could have ever become the monster of the future timeline.
And that’s all I want to tell you. We could go through the twisty, turny bits and hash it out, but the ache, the desperation, the fight to find any other way are what stuck with me. I got done with the book and immediately decided it was nearly perfect. I’ve never rated a book so high after only one reading in 4 years of blogging, but this one earned 4.5 stars. I haven’t given out a HOLY WHOA in a while but this one definitely qualifies.
(A holy whoa book is one that almost destroyed me with how amazing it was. It’s the kind of book that you put down, pick back up to hug, and then think about for weeks straight upon finishing. HOLY WHOA is a category here on the blog, so if you’re wondering what else qualifies, you can check that out in the sidebar or in the category tags at the end of the post.)
The only thing I didn’t like about the book was how political it got. The author was very clearly a Democrat, which was not my issue. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round; I think we can all get along, and everyone has their strengths. What I did not appreciate was after an assassination attempt, Marina assuming it was “some right-wing looney.”
Hi. I’m not a looney. I don’t go around calling my liberal friends treehuggers and hippies, so please don’t call me names either. There’s enough crap going on in the world without us taking this “us versus them” tone in our books too. Thanks. *steps off soapbox*
Y’all, I don’t even know. This book was kind of good and also annoyed the living heck out of me.
Sky and River are two teenagers who live on an unchart...moreY’all, I don’t even know. This book was kind of good and also annoyed the living heck out of me.
Sky and River are two teenagers who live on an uncharted island in the Pacific, where they and their respective parental figures crashed and apparently everyone else but the four of them died. Helmut and Petal (River’s dad and Sky’s mom) renamed them and taught them to take care of themselves, and they’re living a life of simple isolation. Then the parents die and it’s a little shady, and they get rescued.
So Sky goes back to California, where everyone calls her Megan and tries to teach her what cars and TV are and she doesn’t care. That goes about as well as you’d expect because Sky just wants to find River and go back to the island. Sky isn’t interested in the shallow pursuits of modern society like television, she doesn’t understand why people lie to one another, and no one will tell her what’s going on because they’re afraid she’ll have a meltdown. Because Sky is unhappy for 95% of the book, and it doesn’t get better, one really wonders what we’re supposed to have learned here. Modern society is shallow? Okay, we already knew that. There’s this whole subplot about how Helmut was a cult leader who poisoned a bunch of his followers by having River feed them poisoned apples (channeling his inner Snow White’s evil stepmother) and that he probably took the poisonous mushrooms on purpose, thereby killing himself and Petal, but River was suspicious and didn’t let Sky or himself eat them, so they didn’t die. Now everyone thinks River is a murderer even though he was like FOUR when that happened, and he’s gone into hiding from the paparazzi, and is living like a hobo on the beach.
The plot, as you can tell, is kind of a mess but the style was what really irritated me more than anything else. Sky refers to everything as a proper noun and I swear, it was like she was about to burst out into song like Pocahontas and start singing about the riverbend. The ocean is “Ocean” as in “I walked to Ocean” or “I missed Ocean.” I get that the author was going for a “Sky is one with nature” thing but it didn’t work and every time she referred to Ocean, Beach, Bathroom Tree, etc. I just wanted to shake her. It took me out of the story a bunch of times, though it seems small, because it just read like the author was trying too hard to make this novel poignant and thoughtful.
The other thing is the ship. (Like the romantic ship, not the ship that rescues them.) River/Lucas pretty much disappears once they get to California, and no one will let Sky/Megan see him. Sky isn’t searching for herself; she’s searching for LUCAS, so the title is also just alliterating for no reason. (Sky knows exactly who she is, so it’s also not referring to any kind of self-discovery because Sky takes no crap.) But anyway, Sky wants River back and eventually she finds him and they decide to try to go back to their island. (view spoiler)[And then the author freaking kills River/Lucas off, and you find out that the sweet neighbor Sky/Megan has been hanging out with was getting paid by her grandmother to teach her how to be a teenager, and since I wasn’t really shipping them anyway, I didn’t even CARE. Cantor blew a death cannonball right through my ship and now Sky/Megan has to stay in California and learn to use forks and it is just pretty darn depressing. (hide spoiler)]
So to sum up: Searching for Sky is pretty weird, the writing bugged me, (view spoiler)[Cantor sinks the sweetest, most innocent little ship in the world, (hide spoiler)] and then the book is over and I’m depressed and so is Sky.
This one was cute, but a bit forgettable. I liked it, don't get me wrong, but it just didn't have a lot of depth. I think part of the problem is that...moreThis one was cute, but a bit forgettable. I liked it, don't get me wrong, but it just didn't have a lot of depth. I think part of the problem is that I'm comparing the MC as a sneaky, potion-brewing magician. Or maybe a taste-tester/assassin type like Yelena, or a wizarding student like Hermione. Either way, compared to those female MCs, she's just okay.
Part of it was the length. This was a shorter book, possibly due to the untimely illness and eventual death of the author. If she'd had a chance to make this book longer, give us more depth and development, then it could have been much stronger.
Ugh it feels evil to say this book was just "okay" when 1) the author died tragically and 2) so many bookish friends adored it. Ah well, such is life.(less)