This is how you write about drug addicts and love triangles. And cunthounds. The most irrepressible cunthound there ever was!
Seriously though, I thin...moreThis is how you write about drug addicts and love triangles. And cunthounds. The most irrepressible cunthound there ever was!
Seriously though, I think this is one of the best love triangles I've ever read in that there's never really a question about who is going to end up with whom, but the dynamic between all three people is so fantastic. The lingering physical attraction and familiarity between ex-lovers is so well depicted. Mostly though, I love all the characters involved. Halfway through, I noted that I loved where Terrible/Chess/Lex were and where they seemed to be going but then Stacia Kane went and pulled up ALL the stakes and raised them even higher. I'm almost afraid to read the next book!
I can't wait to read the next book. Terrible is a hell of a drug. (less)
I went from being ambivalent about Book 1 and the first half of this book to completely and utterly invested. Two words: Terrible, rooftop. Chess is s...moreI went from being ambivalent about Book 1 and the first half of this book to completely and utterly invested. Two words: Terrible, rooftop. Chess is such a great character too -- complicated, messy, brilliant. I was having trouble with the dialogue or 'Downspeak' in Book 1 so Flannery recommended the audio version and the narrator is fantastic. I'd write more but I need to read the next book. (less)
Do you remember that episode of Arrested Development where GOB goes to work for Stan Sitwell (Season 2, Episode 7: Switch Hitter)? While trying to imp...moreDo you remember that episode of Arrested Development where GOB goes to work for Stan Sitwell (Season 2, Episode 7: Switch Hitter)? While trying to impress Sitwell, GOB runs through the entire backlog of Michael's ideas in one meeting and then goes back to Michael and asks for more.
Michael: There were 34 proposals in there. GOB: You'd be amazed how fast they come out when you read them all in a row. Michael: That was 6 months worth of work. You can't just blurt them all out at once.
Well, Ilona Andrews, I'm sorry I blurted through 6 years worth of Kate Daniels novels back to back ... to back to back. And thank you for knowing we'd ask for more after Gunmetal Magic and throwing in the Magic Gifts novella (and setting some of it in a Korean restaurant!).
I kind of wish I had read Magic Gifts first. Both stories take place at the same time, Magic Gifts from Kate's perspective and Gunmetal from Andrea's, but since Gunmetal is full length, it goes beyond the events of the novella and references some of it. When I was reading Gunmetal, I thought I had missed a story or my brain had finally turned to mush after a week of choosing Curran over sleep.
Gunmetal Magic shifts the focus of the story over to Kate's partner-in-crime, Andrea Nash. Andrea was always such an interesting character to me because she's a lethal weapon who constantly allows herself to be sheathed by the Order and Ted Moynohan. Her loyalty to the Order is unflinching and it costs her in Magic Bleeds. She lives by a code that revolves around the Order first, herself second, her beastly self last -- at all costs last. Who she is without the Order?
Girl. You slapped Aunt B once and survived. You're an ass kicker!
I felt for Andrea so much in this because after learning more about her childhood, I understood how much the badge meant to her. For a girl who was abused by people bigger and stronger than her for the first 11 years of her life, the Order badge was a sign that declared, "You will not fuck with me. You will not touch me." The badge was a symbol that demanded respect. The Order was also a place she could feel at home. It was her pack, no boudas allowed. She always knew the Order was only her home so long as she hid who she really was, but it still hurts to be proven right.
I liked this book a lot but some of the Andrea-Raphael scenes reminded me of the Alpha & Omega series, ie super romancey and drawn out. And I hate, HATE to say this, but the Kate and Curran scenes made me think of Anna and Etienne in Lola and the Boy Next Door. Perfect couple is perfect! Kate would GAG at that. I missed hearing Kate gag at that or mentally threatening to punch Curran in the face. I loved Andrea's scenes with Ascanio the teenage heartthrob, and Ascanio and Julie. Ascanio and Julie -- I'm calling it now! I loved seeing a more serious side to Raphael, although he most definitely could've used a punch in the face too. The characters in this more than held their own without Kate calling the shots... but I can't wait until Kate is back.
I feel I should warn you: Ilona is actually a power word that means read. After 5 books, 3 novellas and 1000 squeals in 6 days, you would think the no...moreI feel I should warn you: Ilona is actually a power word that means read. After 5 books, 3 novellas and 1000 squeals in 6 days, you would think the novelty would wear off. NOPE. There is still such a freshness to the story and so many more storylines to be explored. Derek? More please. Jim and Dali? More please. Kate and Curran? I WILL SAY PLEASE BEFORE AND THANK YOU AFTER.
Basically, I can't get enough and it's a great feeling. Book slump? What is that?
The stakes are raised even more in this book because as Voron repeatedly told Kate, caring about people makes you vulnerable. And for the first time in her life, Kate has people she truly cares about and vice versa. In Magic Slays, there is a mysterious device that puts them all at risk.
I love that Kate and Curran are so evenly matched. This is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
"You're free to leave. Go home, kiss your wives, hug your children, and put your affairs in order, because tomorrow I will burn your neighborhood to the ground. We will kill you, your families, your neighbors, your pets, and anyone who will stand in our path. An attack on my family will not go unpunished."
It was said by Curran, Beast Lord of Atlanta and BAMF, but it could just as well have been said by Kate, former mercenary and all around BAMF.
In a week, I've gone from silently mocking the cover (a lion?!) to wanting to start a Fuck Yeah Curran tumblr. Yes, it's that serious. Kate Daniels has quickly established itself as one of my favorite series and I can't wait to see what the next book brings.(less)
I have zero clue what's been going on in the world the past 3 days. However, I now know the real reason Snoop changed his name from Dogg to Lion. Curr...moreI have zero clue what's been going on in the world the past 3 days. However, I now know the real reason Snoop changed his name from Dogg to Lion. Curran.
How is this series just getting better and better with every book? As if I didn't love Katelanta (Curran County? I need to talk to Jermaine Dupri about this) enough already, Ilona Andrews throws in a POODLE and more Princess Bride. That's in addition to the standard A+ banter and toe curling chemistry.
In this book, we learn more about what motivates Kate and Curran to be who they are -- and why these reasons keep them apart. Someone from Kate's past comes back to wreak havoc and destruction. The shit hits the fan in the Order, the Guild, and the Pack. Kate is as badass as she wants to be.
"But know this: if you come to remove me, come in force because ... I will kill every single one of you. My hand won't shake. My aim won't falter. My face will be the last thing you'll see before you die."
You come at the queen, you best not miss. Bitches.
I'm already mourning the fact that there's only one more after this that I haven't read. I'm going to drown my sorrows at book club tonight while pleading Curran for not having read either book club book. Maybe I'll have some Boone's in Kate's honor (and try not to get laughed out of the bar). ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
5 SIGNS THAT YOU'VE BEEN INFECTED WITH THE KATE DANIELS VIRUS
1. That knife you used to butter your toast? It now has a name.
2. You relate everything i...more5 SIGNS THAT YOU'VE BEEN INFECTED WITH THE KATE DANIELS VIRUS
1. That knife you used to butter your toast? It now has a name.
2. You relate everything in the real world back to the Kate Daniels world and start making the cheesiest jokes.
3. You said "Katelanta." Even once.
4. Lions. How hot are they?! --> This is a legitimate thought.
5. You're panicked that your Kindle battery will run out mid book because you usually charge it while sleeping but you haven't been sleeping because of this series!
There is so much MORE in Magic Strikes. We get more of Kate's back story, more of Curran's back story, more of Kate and Curran's present story... Hold on while I go back and reread EVERY scene with them.
Derek has quickly emerged as a favorite character as well. He's like a mix of Warren and Ben from Mercy Thompson wrapped up in a pretty package. And Doolittle! Who doesn't love Doolittle!
As in the previous books, the word/foreplay in this is off the charts. It's a slow, simmering burn and yet the effect is scorching.
Rating: 4.5 stars.
Okay, on to Book 4. Curran is a hell of a drug.(less)
For the first quarter of the book, I thought this was heading toward 3 stars. I liked it and it explained the world much better than Magic Bites, but...moreFor the first quarter of the book, I thought this was heading toward 3 stars. I liked it and it explained the world much better than Magic Bites, but there were more new characters and creatures when I'd barely managed to wrap my head around the ones already introduced. But then, but then, there was the soup and the please and the thank you and AH. And then Noelle sent me this gif for Curran:
...and well, I was walking around murmuring Curran all day.
Starbucks barista: May I have a name for this drink? Me: Curran. Barista: Karen? Me: CURRAN. Wait, what are we talking about?
I haven't been this wrapped up in a world since last year when I zoomed through all the Mercy Thompson books. Full review to come.
Psych. I'm getting some coffee (coffee) and reading the next book. And if you like The Princess Bride, you need to read this. (less)
When your entire blogroll recommends a book and your co-blogger threatens public shaming until you read said book, what do you do? Well, you fall asle...moreWhen your entire blogroll recommends a book and your co-blogger threatens public shaming until you read said book, what do you do? Well, you fall asleep the first two times you try to read the book. I mean, the main character was drinking Boone's Farm Hard Lemonade. FFS. How am I supposed to take a mercenary seriously when she drinks something that high schoolers barely get drunk off of? Not only that, it takes place in a future Atlanta where people are driving buggies with horses? Because of magic? What in Boone's Farm hell?
Noelle, I never doubted you. For too long. The third time was a charm. Remember the dynamic between Veronica and Logan in Season 1 of Veronica Mars? Now instead of a tiny blonde, picture all that tension and animosity in these two:
Kate Daniels is Veronica Mars in the body of former MMA fighter Gina Carano. And Curran... RAWR... Curran is Logan Echolls in the body of Superman Henry Cavill.
I usually complain about all the world building in fantasies, but in this one, we're just dropped into a world of vampires and shapeshifters and ley lines without much explanation. Despite feeling kind of lost in the beginning, what kept me engaged was the dialogue. Kate is snarky as hell. After she finds out that her guardian has been killed, she tries to get involved in the investigation. When asked whether she knows anything about investigative work, she replies,
"Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilty party tries to make you go away."
Annoy like the wind, Kate! In the course of her investigation, she has to meet with the Master of the Dead and the Beast Lord. While the world and the rules of magic were kind of vague to me, I really liked Ilona Andrews' take on the supernatural. Vampires are mindless, hairless, glitterless bodies that are piloted by necromancers. Shapeshifters aren't limited to the usual werewolves, but there are 337 different varieties, including were-rats, were-bobcats, and were-bears. Fingers crossed that there is a cameo from Magenta the were-hamster from Sky High at some point in the series. There are strict rules in the pack and clear consequences for breaking those rules.
Kate is such a compelling character. She's tough and physically fit -- she has to be since she fights for a living. Whenever she's feeling vulnerable or outmatched, she hides behind a smart-ass bravado. She acknowledges she is not the feminine ideal, but she left any wallowing about her appearance behind when she was 14. Why?
"Survival took precedence over fashion."
Bravo. She's not entirely certain about how she's handling the investigation, but she's determined to bring her guardian's killer to justice.
The verbal sparring between Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, is fantastic. Curran is someone who demands instantaneous respect. Kate chafes at authority figures. Put them in a room together and you don't get any insta-love. I highlighted at least one line from each of their interactions and cracked up over the rest.
Magic Bites is a supernatural version of Criminal Minds meets Veronica Mars. There are a lot of dead bodies and a lot of snark. I finally found an urban fantasy series to challenge Mercy Thompson. Round one goes to Mercy, but I can't wait to start round two.
Nerds. Jocks. Cheerleaders. Epic battle. Sounds like your typical high school story, right? Enter the killer robots!*
I knew there was a high propinqui...moreNerds. Jocks. Cheerleaders. Epic battle. Sounds like your typical high school story, right? Enter the killer robots!*
I knew there was a high propinquity** that I would like this because I loved Faith Erin Hicks' Friends with Boys (my review / Noelle's review) and Prudence Shen's /report podcast is a must listen in my book club.*** After flying through the first 50 or so pages on the official website, I ended up breaking my months-long NetGalley ban to request it. And it was totally worth it.
Charlie is the popular captain of the basketball team. Nate is the much less popular president of the robotics team. They're neighbors and best friends though they are on opposite sides of the social spectrum. Nate is usually worked up about something while Charlie is laid back. The latest outrage in Nate's life: the school has decided to let the student council determine which extracurricular club gets money. The science club was going to get it so they could enter the national robotics competition, but then the cheerleaders said they needed new uniforms. Enter Holly, head cheerleader and Charlie's ex-girlfriend. Nate's solution is simple: run for student body president and make sure the science club gets the money. Yeah, that idea doesn't fly with the other members of the club either. As Ben disbelievingly tells Nate, "You're literally trying to win a popularity contest!" Holly counteracts Nate's move by entering Charlie into the race. Even though Charlie is an unwitting challenger, it's game on for Nate. Friendships, loyalties, and robots are tested.
To begin with, this book has my favorite depiction of cheerleaders ever. I mean, look at Holly's entrance in the book:
She enters the story like freaking Beyonce! And she has the attitude to back it up. These aren't your stereotypical cheerleaders. Nate calls them the "Pom Pom Gestapo" for a reason. They are fierce, ruthless, smart, and organized. Holly is a formidable opponent, but she is by no means a villain in the story, which I loved.
Charlie, oh Charlie. Do you remember Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles? Jake was one of the first boys my heart Teen Beated for, and he will always hold a special place there. Well, Charlie reminded me of him. When the basketball team finds out Charlie's dad is out of town and decide to invite half the school over to his place, Nate finds Charlie hiding under his bed reading a book. Nate tells him, "You really are the worst cool kid ever." Also, since this is a graphic novel, we don't just have to imagine Charlie shirtless. Ahem, shoulders.
Before you think this is just about the popular kids, remember that Prudence Shen wrote this book. In her /report bio, it says:
"She has written, much to her chagrin, hundreds of thousands of pages of bad-to-slightly-less-bad fanfic in everything from anime to Smallville to shows that lasted three episodes to children's books."
The nerd voice is well represented. And it's not just nerd boys. Joanna is a key member of the robotics team. I love that one added touch to the KILLER ROBOT is a little, stenciled bow.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong combines a fun story with clever illustrations, or maybe it's a clever story with fun illustrations. The result is a book that will appeal to even those who don't consider themselves graphic novel fans. I think this was even better than Friends with Boys, and I can't wait to see what Faith Erin Hicks and Prudence Shen come up with next.
-- *Okay, so they're not technically killer robots in the Michael Bay sense. But really, do you want to live in a world where Michael Bay makes sense? **Quinto/Pine Challenge: To use one of the words that made Chris Pine's head hurt. ***Confession: I've only listened to the episode about Korean dramas. But it was hilarious.
Are you tired? Rundown? Listless? Do you poop out in the middle of a book -- even one you're really enjoying?
Try CINDER. It will bust you out of your...moreAre you tired? Rundown? Listless? Do you poop out in the middle of a book -- even one you're really enjoying?
Try CINDER. It will bust you out of your reading slump.
And Prince Kai is so tasty too!
I don't know whether I hit the rookie reviewing wall, but I haven't written a review since... November 15?! Don't get me wrong, I've been reading (and taking notes while I read) but that's it. With Cinder, I didn't take any notes or make any highlights. I just read... and read... and enjoyed the hell out of this book.
Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in a futuristic New Beijing. She has to work to support her stepmother and two stepsisters. Her stepmother, resentful at being forced to take her in, refuses to buy Cinder a new mechanical foot so she's stuck with the little one from when she was 11 years old. Already, I love this take on Cinderella. Cinder may be the ward of her stepmother, but she's also a feisty, badass mechanic, a la Mercy Thompson. She meets the heir to the throne, Prince Kaito, when he comes to her booth to get his android fixed. Kai's father, the Emperor, is dying of letumosis, an incurable disease that has already taken the life of his mother and many people around the world. As if the letumosis plague wasn't enough, there is the constant threat from Queen Levana, the powerful Lunar queen who has mind altering abilities.
Basically, this book has a little bit of everything -- action, political intrigue, romance, science fiction, and fantasy. Since it's a retelling of a well known story, the plot is fairly predictable. This isn't Sherlock (one of the many shows I watched in its entirety during my book slump -- what up, Cumberbitches!), where the plot is driven by its mystery. Rather it's the creativeness and freshness of Marissa Meyer's writing that kept me interested in the story. The Cinderella story is the roadmap, but Meyer blazed a completely different and unique trail to take us up to the stroke of midnight. I had so much fun reading this book and her wink wink nudge nudge references to Rapunzel and future characters in this series.
Did I mention this book is set in Asia with a hot Asian prince? Seriously, it's so nice to be able to reference a hot Asian male character other than freakin' Shang from Mulan. So help me God, movie studios, if you cast Jackson Rathbone as Kai, I will throw shit! I pictured a young Takeshi Kaneshiro as Kai. For the androids, I pictured Rosie from The Jetsons.
If you haven't read this already, you should join the thousands of happy, peppy readers and get a copy of Cinder tomorrow. Hi, Fred! Hi, Ethel!
One of my Top 5 Foreign Language Films (subgenre: drama) is Mostly Martha from Germany. Martha is a sought after, highly regarded chef with exacting...moreOne of my Top 5 Foreign Language Films (subgenre: drama) is Mostly Martha from Germany. Martha is a sought after, highly regarded chef with exacting standards. (I would call her the female Soup Nazi but Germans + Nazi reference... Let's not go there.) In the beginning of the movie, she talks about how the simplest dishes, like salmon in a light basil sauce, are the hardest because there's nothing to disguise or distract from the flavor. It's all about proper seasoning and precise cooking. These basic dishes are how to judge the quality of a chef. Likewise with books, I think the simple, slice of life stories are the hardest. Without big issues or fantastical situations or death, the story comes down to the characters.
Life in Outer Space is about Sam Kinnison and his group of friends as they navigate a year of high school. Sam is a movie obsessed, World of Warcraft playing geek with dreams of being a screenwriter. He's like Dawson Leery minus the giant head and ugly crying. His best friend, Mike, is a black belt in karate. Mike is also a disco dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy, know what I'm saying? When Mike first came out to the group, which also includes Adrian and Allison, they did what any self-respecting nerd would do -- they googled. Based on search results, they ended up watching Xanadu, Lesbian Vampire Killers, and Dirty Dancing. Sam narrates,
"We watched Dirty Dancing. Mike fell asleep, but I had to admit I kind of liked it, which made me question my own sexuality, raising a whole heap of other questions I chose not to examine."
Their routine of avoiding jock/terrorist Justin Zigoni and his crew by hiding out in the IT office is compromised when Camilla Carter comes to town. Camilla is Australian by birth but has spent most of her life bouncing around the world with her famous music critic father. Camilla ends up in the IT office her first day because her laptop won't connect to the school's WiFi. Sam, the IT assistant, can't avoid her, especially when she notices his WoW screensaver and writes down her WoW name.
I want to hug this book. If you've read any of my reviews, you know I talk in movie. Sam, with his Top 5 lists, is a kindred spirit. He's also smart, funny, and totally clueless. He reminds me of two of my favorite YA boys: Ed from Graffiti Moon and Sam from Hold Me Closer Necromancer. Camilla is who Zooey Deschanel and Olivia Munn pretend to be. Hell, she's who I want to be! I mean, anyone who can use Sweeney Todd and Dirty Dancing to taunt is my hero. Adrian steals every scene he's in.
This book is about the little victories in life. Nothing earth shattering, just the times when you say yes instead of no. Do you reply back? Do you risk the dining hall? Do you give in to John Cusack??
Melissa Keil writes with a deftness that shows why she won the Ampersand Project. She gets the right mix of heart and humor and uses little details, like the fact that Sam downloads a movie using torrents, to add to the authenticity of the story. Like I said before, I think these types of stories are the hardest to write. However, when done well, they just make you happy that you read them. Life in Outer Space is done well. I can't guarantee that you'll be blown away, but I can say that you'll be glad you said yes instead of no to this.
Favorite quote: "I will shelve this insanity and store away the memory of her in the hope that one day it'll be distant enough to be useful for a screenplay."
When Flannery first recommended this book to me with the promise of Boston and baseball, my exact reaction was, "........" The opening paragraph of he...moreWhen Flannery first recommended this book to me with the promise of Boston and baseball, my exact reaction was, "........" The opening paragraph of her review cracks me up because what I remember most about Boston is: rats. Lots and lots of rats. Since "everywhere" is too general, let me tell you 3 specific places where I saw a rat.
1. Subway (as in Eat Fresh®) 2. California Pizza Kitchen, Prudential Center 3. My dorm room
My friends refused to walk on my left because whenever I saw a rat charging out of the bushes, I'd push them out into the street. Excuse me for trying to save your life! Did no one see the episode of Little House on the Prairie where everyone in Walnut Grove nearly died of typhus?! That wasn't just a TV show, that was a PSA.
Second only to rats in Boston are Red Sox fans. The SAWX. I grew up watching sports (not baseball, as if) but nothing in my life prepared me for Red Sox Nation. I lived 5 minutes away from Fenway Park and got a very rude awakening the first (and only) time I tried to take the T after a game. My PTSD still prevents me from talking about it.
Imagine my surprise when not only did I end up finishing this book, I loved it. It reminded me that aside from the rats and the Sox, Boston was also where I first fell in love, strolled through a park at night while someone played the saxophone, and had a chocolate chip cannoli from Mike's Pastry. (Don't knock it til you've tried it! My love for Mike's has outlasted that first love.) Every so often, I need to be reminded that hope exists. I need it to wrap me in a bear hug and refuse to let go until I surrender because anything less won't work with me. Some Disney magic also helps.
My Most Excellent Year refers to the year Alejandra Perez and a 6-year-old named Hucky entered the lives of T.C. Keller and Augie Hwong. T.C. and Augie declared they were brothers in 1st grade and never looked back. T.C. had just lost his mother and he bonded with the quiet kid who was the one person who didn't look at him like he'd just lost his mother. Of course, Augie didn't stay quiet. Have you ever met a quiet Ethel Merman fan? While Augie shared his love of musicals during their weekly sleepovers, T.C. shared his love of baseball. When Alejandra (that's Alé with an é) transferred to their school freshman year and politely rejected T.C.'s offer to consider a relationship with her, while talking to Augie about musical theater, both boys were goners. Their story is told through journal entries, emails, IMs, and texts.
First, I loved that two of the main characters are minorities. This was such an issue for me growing up, and it's still an issue for me now, but it's so important to see last names like Hwong and Perez and not deal with stereotypical characterizations. Augie is the son of a Chinese immigrant mother and American-born Chinese father. His mother terrorizes the Boston theater community with her reviews for the Globe. Here's a sample of her review of Carousel:
"Nice songs to beat your wife to. Attend at your own risk."
She instilled her love of theater in Augie, but made sure to warn him about Carousel when he was 8. Alé is the daughter of diplomats and her father was the ambassador to Mexico until he accepted a position at Harvard. She's used to hobnobbing (and accidentally insulting) diplomats, actors, and (I'm assuming) Bono. Her closest friend before moving to Brookline was a Secret Service agent.
Second, I loved the fathers in this. T.C.'s dad, Ted, named after Ted Williams naturally, and Augie's dad, Craig, are such presences in their sons' lives. T.C. uses a vocabulary word in one of his journal entries and a few pages later, Ted ends up using the same word in an email to T.C.'s counselor. You can just see T.C. using it around the house with Ted, making up ridiculous sentences along the way.
Third, Augie Hwong is who I tried to get my little brother to be. Yes, the one who is now a big bad cop. I just think children, particularly boys, need a well-rounded education, especially of the musical variety. Also, I knew even back then that he was destined for a career involving weaponry so I wanted to get to him before the mouthbreathers did. Since I controlled the radio in the car (ah, the perks of being the oldest), I played a steady stream of Rent, Les Miserables, and Ragtime. (Wicked came later.) I was so proud when I heard him humming "Would you light my candle?" I was even prouder when Rent the movie came out and he went to watch it on his own.
This book had the same energy of Sorta Like a Rock Star and it was what I hoped Will Grayson Will Grayson would be. The format of journal entries and emails and texts made it an easy, fun read. You don't need to know all (or any) of the baseball and theater references to get this book. Just read a short synopsis of All About Eve so you understand one of my favorite Augie moments. I know it's not perfect, but it had so much heart that like Mary Poppins, My Most Excellent Year is practically perfect in every way.
This is one of the most enjoyable romances I've read. It was funny, it was modern,...moreThis is our inaugural Rory Curtain Review at Young Adult Anonymous.
This is one of the most enjoyable romances I've read. It was funny, it was modern, and MOTHER OF GOD, it was HAWT. Navy SEAL Vince Haven is so hot, I ended up pumping my bestie, who was in the Navy until he was kicked out for being gay (fuckery), over dinner for info on just how swoon-worthy he should be. I am nothing if not thorough!
Me: Are Navy SEALs that hot? Him: Oh yeah. Me: Okay, how hot? Are they hotter than regular Navy guys? Him: Hell yes. They look like elite athletes. Me: There's a scene in the book where Vince picks up a sledgehammer with one hand and just tosses it aside. Real or not real? Him: Real. Me: Can you tell a Navy SEAL from regular Navy guys? Him: Mags, I don't think you're understanding the ELITE ATHLETE part. For example, in the Navy, we did an exercise where we had to carry 40 pound weights in each hand and then stand on our tiptoes. Navy SEALs have to do that AND jump over a bench. Me:drops fork Server:drops mouth Me: So... where do these SEALs hang out?
I had to ask. For the purposes of this review!
Sadie Hollowell is 3 things a woman from Lovett, Texas shouldn't be: 33 years old, single, and flat haired. She left Lovett at 18 and created a nice life for herself selling real estate in Phoenix. A younger cousin's wedding pulls her back to Texas.
Vince Haven is a 36 year old ex-SEAL who left the service after an incident in Afghanistan blew out 60% of his hearing in one ear. Since then, he's invested in businesses while traveling and taking care of his sister and nephew.
Sadie sees Vince stranded on the side of the road into Lovett and ends up reluctantly offering to help -- but not before demanding to see his license and calling his info into her assistant. You know, in case he ends up being a "homicidal maniac, or worse. A Democrat." Even my true blue heart giggled at this because Rachel Gibson sets the light tone early. There's a ton of banter between Sadie and Vince and Sadie and the colorful townspeople. Sadie and Vince find themselves thrown together, yada yada yada, and Vince ends up saying "Hooyah!" during sexytimes. I, along with Sadie, died laughing. There are more sexytimes, more laughs, and some emotional scenes.
One thing that really stood out about this book was how young and modern it felt. There's a Rachel Zoe reference! I usually loathe all reality shows, but I was literally* addicted to the first season of The Rachel Zoe Project. There's also a character named Becca Ramsey, who I choose to believe was a nod to the Baby-Sitters Club character.**
I also liked that Rescue Me was significantly shorter than my usual romance books. It was a fun, quick read.
If you ever wanted to know if a guy named Panda could be smexy (smoldering + sexy, not smelly + sexy), Susan Elizabeth Phillips definitively answers t...moreIf you ever wanted to know if a guy named Panda could be smexy (smoldering + sexy, not smelly + sexy), Susan Elizabeth Phillips definitively answers that question. Hot damn. And yes, this is the second Wynette, Texas book I've finished in less than 24 hours.(less)
"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." - José Narosky
Something Like Normal is about a 19-year-old Marine who returns home after serving in Afghanis...more"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." - José Narosky
Something Like Normal is about a 19-year-old Marine who returns home after serving in Afghanistan for a year. Travis Stephenson is physically intact, but after spending a year on active duty and seeing his best friend get killed, his emotional scars manifest in a form of PTSD. Travis doesn't even feel like he's home because home to him is with his fellow Marines, not his parents' house in Florida where he never lived up to his father's expectations. He's also confronted by Harper Gray, a girl whose reputation got trashed after a little white lie Travis told when they were 13 years old got out of hand.
My biggest concern before reading Something Like Normal was whether a young adult book could accurately portray Marines. One of my favorite shows, HBO's Generation Kill based on the book by Evan Wright, set the standard with its raw, unflinching portrayal of Recon Marines stationed in Iraq. In Trish Doller's hands, my initial concern turned out to be moot. To use a Brad "Iceman" Colbert-ism, this book is pretty fucking ninja.
I love it when authors write about subjects they love. When Kirsty Eagar writes about surfing, her passion for it comes across the page and temporarily makes it my passion. Trish Doller loves Marines. Her affection for them is evident in her portrayal of these young soldiers and all the research that clearly went into making sure she did justice to their depiction. Though this story doesn't take place during battle, she gives us some insight into the conditions with her descriptions of the flea bites on the soldiers' legs and the sand that would get into every orifice. However, Doller's affection for Marines doesn't mean she turns them into saints. The passage that sold me on the book happens on page 10, when Travis talks about his motivations for enlisting. He says,
I didn't have a noble purpose in joining the Marines. I didn't do it to protect American freedom and I wasn't inspired to action by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I was in grade school then, and the biggest priority in my life was any bell that signaled it was time to leave school. I enlisted mostly because I wanted to escape my dad, who'd made my life hell since I quit the football team at the end of sophomore season.
This isn't about politics or patriotism -- it's about people. And those are the stories that I care about. I care about Travis and the friends. I laughed at their nicknames for each other, like Solo, Kevlar, and Fido.
In addition to not turning them into saints, I love that she doesn't water down the dialogue by making it PC or PG. Forget soldiers, what 19-year-old male do you know who doesn't swear or say politically incorrect things? Dawson Leery doesn't count. These guys say "fuck" and they call each other "retards." And so do the guys I know. They also fuck around with girls.
This brings me to what doesn't work for me and why I'm giving the book 4 stars instead of 5. Doller's love of Marines doesn't affect her realistic portrayal of Travis, but perhaps it led her to create a perfect, unrealistic girl for him. Harper, though likable, doesn't seem believable. A guy responsible for ruining her reputation for YEARS -- to the point where even parents know about her -- comes back into town and after one token punch to the face, she starts to get over it? Maybe it's because I'm Korean and a Scorpio, but I don't get over shit that quickly, IF EVER. And if I only get ONE hit, it definitely ain't going to the face. I never sensed any real tension, even when Travis's ex-girlfriend comes into the picture. Sure, Harper gets mad but... not really. Maybe she was in love with Travis since middle school thus making it easier for her to forgive and forget, but then, that just makes me want to hit her in the face.
Still, all the other relationships in the book are so well done that my issue with Harper seems minor. Travis's developing relationship with his mother made me cry. The love and desperation the mother of a soldier feels is so palpable. I also really like the depiction of Travis's relationship with his brother, in that there isn't one. Travis's father, the ex-Green Bay Packer, raised his sons to compete against one another, often favoring one over the other. It's no surprise that the sibling relationship is contentious and broken. It also helps you understand why Travis considers his fellow Marines his true brothers.
This book will make you want to hug a Marine -- if Trish Doller hasn't gotten to them all.
It allows you a look into the life of a guy, who happens to be a soldier. Stay frosty, it comes out next week.
I first heard about this book a year ago through Catie's fantastic review. As a fan of Persuasion, I figured this was an automatic skip. I mean, come...moreI first heard about this book a year ago through Catie's fantastic review. As a fan of Persuasion, I figured this was an automatic skip. I mean, come on, Wentforth? And why is Coco Rocha modeling a dress on the cover? In space? Fast forward a year later, I saw this was available at my e-library and thought, Why not? Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the DNF Shelf. I loved it. And the thing is, objectively, I still agree with the points Catie made -- but sometimes, you have to go with your gut. In my case, my stomach was doing backflips as I read the scenes between Wentforth and Elliot.
In Persuasion, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth are kept apart by class differences and societal expectations. I thought Peterfreund's approach of creating a feudalistic dystopia was brilliant. It's a modern take that makes the antiquated values that kept Anne Elliot in her place relevant. In For Darkness Shows the Stars, the world as we know it was destroyed by people who tried to go too far with scientific and technological advancements. In trying to unlock the secrets to the genetic code, people began experimenting on one another. The ERV procedure was given to babies to make them better, faster, stronger. However, the procedure resulted in generations of people being "reduced," their brains turned to mush. This became known as the Reduction. The people who refused ERV, called Luddites, ended up rebuilding in the aftermath of the Reduction and taking power. They blamed the reduced for trying to play God. The Norths are a prestigious old Luddite family. The Wentforths are CORs who live on the North estate. CORs are the children of the reduced, people who have finally escaped the effects of ERV generations later.
Diana Peterfreund knows her source material. Rather than try to compete with THE LETTER from Persuasion, she gives us a bunch of letters from the time Elliot and Kai are young. The Luddite baron's daughter and the COR mechanic's son can't be seen socializing so they leave letters for each in a knot in the barn wall. The absence of these letters once Kai leaves the North estate is felt as much as the absence of Kai himself. Elliot always glances at the knot when she enters the barn even though Kai has been gone for years. It's a detail I love so much. It's a longing for something that's long gone combined with a tiny hope of maybe.
One other significant change that I thought worked really well for a modern YA audience is the character of Elliot. There were things Anne Elliot couldn't do or be because of the times, her station, and her family. Elliot North is still under the thumb of her father but she has some independence from running the farm. She also chooses to stay behind, though it hurts her, because the responsibility she feels to the farm and everyone living on it. However, that's not to say she doesn't feel the loss of Kai acutely.
"His shadow fell across her lap, and she traces its edges with her hands."
That's all she allows herself. It's such a heartbreaking gesture.
A few years ago when Noelle was trying to get me to read Persuasion, she called Wentworth "a secret handshake." Diana Peterfreund goes one step further and makes him sleek and modern.
For Darkness Shows the Stars surprised me with its creative retelling of a classic. It's the remake I didn't know I wanted but now I can't wait for the next one. I am half agony, half hope.