Maybe 3.5. Could possibly bump to 4 stars once I finish thinking about it, and decide what I actually liked, and what was ruined for me with the massiMaybe 3.5. Could possibly bump to 4 stars once I finish thinking about it, and decide what I actually liked, and what was ruined for me with the massive amount of hype....more
The effort put toward transforming Beautiful Bastard from fanfiction to an original work is evident on every page. A snarky, hot, and m3.5 - 4 stars.
The effort put toward transforming Beautiful Bastard from fanfiction to an original work is evident on every page. A snarky, hot, and most of all FUN read--this isn't your mommy's porn; it's so much better.
Galley provided by the publisher through Edelweiss....more
I think everyone paying attention lately has some strong feelings about the spate of fanfiction (largely Twilight-derived) getting massive publishingI think everyone paying attention lately has some strong feelings about the spate of fanfiction (largely Twilight-derived) getting massive publishing deals. My initial feeling of distaste has evolved into a kind of reluctant acceptance. Fifty Shades of Grey has changed the nature of publishing--for better or for worse--and if it's going to happen regardless, I'd like to see it happen to good people with actual talent.
Which is why it pains me to write this review.
I read The Submissive when it was still posting as a work in progress on fanfiction.net, and I loved it. It was the first BDSM story I'd ever encountered, and coupled with the dynamics between Edward and Bella, and the wait between chapters, I was entranced.
But, reading fanfiction is a very different experience than reading a novel. The foundation is already set for the reader; we know the essence of the characters already, and have certain expectations where they are concerned.
I don't know how much editing was done for this published version, but I do know it was not enough to bridge the gap between fanfiction and an original work.
There was very little character development. In fact, not once were Abby King's physical characteristics even described. Not even the color of her hair. The relationship between Nathaniel and Abby, without the benefit of already knowing they're meant to be together, as with Edward and Bella, felt too fast, and ultimately, flat. My reaction to the first blow job scene was, "Whoa. Girl, you don't even KNOW HIM." Which, I assure you, was very different from my reaction to its original version.
And in the end, the story of how Nathaniel and Abby came to be together was head scratching at best. And weird. (view spoiler)[Nathaniel basically stalked her without ever once approaching her, and then kept tabs on her for years afterward. Abby developed a sexual obsession with the man who randomly saves her mother's house from foreclosure. (hide spoiler)] These things work with within the world of Twilight, but don't come off as believable or romantic here.
I was really hoping The Submissive (which was basically the source material for James' fanfiction Master of the Universe) would be a shining example of what good fanfiction really is with a talented writer behind it. Unfortunately, this did not translate well to original fiction.
I hope more editing is done in the sequels to make it a stronger story. In any case, I'm looking forward to Tara's forthcoming original (non-fanfiction based) novels. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Can't even bring myself to finish this. There are zero redeeming qualities about the characters--I can't decide who I dislike more: Gideon for his sicCan't even bring myself to finish this. There are zero redeeming qualities about the characters--I can't decide who I dislike more: Gideon for his sick controlling tendencies (she can't go anywhere without him, he is deliberately dishonest / secretive with her, but expects her trust AND her complete honesty, and punishes her when she hesitates to give it); or Eva for allowing it, and for allowing him to manipulate her into feeling guilty when she tries to stand up to him.
There is a difference between a sexy. Dominant man, and an abusive asshole. I just wish this new Fifty Shades-fueled trend would pick up on it....more
“Imagine someone reaching straight into your chest, past the bones and blood and guts, and taking a nice firmreread 4/2015 via audio - great narrator.
“Imagine someone reaching straight into your chest, past the bones and blood and guts, and taking a nice firm hold on your spinal cord. Now imagine that they start shaking you so fast, the world starts bulging and buckling under you. Imagine not being able to figure out later if the thought in your head is really yours or an unintentional keepsake from someone else’s mind. Imagine the guilt of knowing you saw someone’s deepest, darkest fear or secret...”
In The Darkest Minds, the children are diseased. Some drop dead for no apparent reason before they reach the age of ten. Those that don’t begin to develop abilities they don’t understand, and can’t control. Some merely gain superior mental acuity, excelling at math and science far beyond their years. For others, their abilities take on a more dangerous shape--telekinesis, electrokinesis, mind reading, mind control.
After waking the morning of her tenth birthday to parents with no memory of her existence, Ruby is taken to Thurmond, a Rehabilitation Center she soon finds is much more like a concentration camp. The children are separated by their abilities, watched and controlled every hour of every day. They are not allowed to speak to one another, to play, or to go to school. Their days consist of nothing but meals, and menial labor.
Ruby manages to escape Thurmond, and by chance meets up with a group of runaways, just like her. Liam, who is a Blue--a telekinetic; Charles “Chubs”--a Green problem solver; and Zu, a Yellow who can create and control electricity. Together, they travel in search of East River, a fabled camping ground where other kids with abilities have managed to make a life for themselves, under the radar.
Of course, this journey is not without obstacles, and if they find East River, will it really be the Promised Land they’re looking for?
The Darkest Minds reminded me a bit of a cross between Unwind and Shatter Me; teens with supernatural abilities, who must run from adults who seek to harm them. It was exciting, and very well paced; tense, but not without moments of humor (and swoon!) that kept it from being overwhelming. And I appreciated the questions raised--is anything inherently good or bad, or does intention weigh more than an act itself?
I very much enjoyed The Darkest Minds, but I will warn you--my initial review said only: WORST ENDING EVER. I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as a cliffhanger, but it did leave me emotional and wishing for the next book immediately.
The Darkest Minds is out December 18th, 2012....more
I confess I was only slightly familiar with The Island of Doctor Moreau before beginning The Madman's Daughter, but from what I knew, I ex2-2.5 stars.
I confess I was only slightly familiar with The Island of Doctor Moreau before beginning The Madman's Daughter, but from what I knew, I expected a dark, atmospheric and intense read with a heavy dose of science fiction. However, what I got was a very predictable, heaving romance with some sciencey stuff thrown in for color.
We begin with Juliet Moreau, daughter of the once well-respected Dr. Moreau, now a madman's poor orphan, forced to work cleaning the university for survival. She is shunned from most polite society, but doesn't seem overly bitter. She does what she must to survive, and doesn't spend much time complaining. In the first couple chapters, she seemed a strong and intelligent character, with just a little bit of crazy to keep her interesting.
She discovers one of the students performing a vivisection, a live dissection of an animal, using notes in her father's hand as a guide. With this evidence, she becomes convinced that her father is still alive, and tracks the note's origin to a pub. There, she discovers the son of her family's former servant, Montgomery, the boy she had a crush on as a girl.
She learns that Montgomery has been living with her father on a deserted island, and convinces him to take her with him when he returns. On the journey to the island, a mysterious castaway is rescued. He is mad with exposure, but seems to quiet when he catches sight of Juliet.
And here is where a potentially interesting story completely unravels. The focus shifts almost entirely to the (very weak) love triangle, with Juliet fantasizing about one boy, and then the other almost in the same thought. And though I'm never one to simply accept the all-consuming love at first sight trope of YA, Juliet's back and forth between Edward and Montgomery was annoying and unbelievable.
The pacing was completely disjointed. Juliet's indecision between the two boys took up pages and pages, but the truly interesting plot points seemed to only be given minimal description. I wanted to know more about the village of creatures, their societal structure, and the religion they'd created for themselves. I wanted more background on just how Juliet's father was able to create these creatures; without it, it seemed unbelievable to me that an amalgam of animals could ever pass as a human being--even a massively deformed one.
And unfortunately, the big reveals were entirely predictable from very early in the story. Which was a shame, because this could have been a very exciting, very dark and different story, instead of a mostly ordinary historical romance with brief snatches of brilliance.
ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss....more
3.5ish stars. The story of a small town girl coming to grips with her sexuality is not new, and this version is not particularly original, but I did e3.5ish stars. The story of a small town girl coming to grips with her sexuality is not new, and this version is not particularly original, but I did enjoy taking the journey with Astrid Jones. The magical realism bits were a poignant and refreshing break from the confusion and angst of Astrid's real life.
However I wished Astrid had stuck to her refusal to label herself, as I never felt she came to an official conclusion about how she felt. Her admission, instead of feeing freeing and honest, felt more like an act of desperation.
Still, a very realistic and emotionally authentic story....more
3.5ish. It was a fun read, but very predictable. I appreciated the originality, and loved the personality of the main characters--very snarky and genu3.5ish. It was a fun read, but very predictable. I appreciated the originality, and loved the personality of the main characters--very snarky and genuine....more
I picked up Wraith thinking I was in for a creepy story about a girl driven to madness by the haunting presence of ghosts. And while that wa3.5 stars.
I picked up Wraith thinking I was in for a creepy story about a girl driven to madness by the haunting presence of ghosts. And while that was true in a sense, the overall story was much different than I expected.
And I kind of loved that.
Jane Watts is an outcast at her new school, all because she got into a very public fight with her best friend, Evan. Normally, that kind of public display would blow over in just a couple days, except in this case, Evan’s dead, and no one can see him but Jane. Her outburst in the hall earns her a permanent Freak label, as far as her classmates are concerned.
But Jane’s okay with that. Mostly. She has Evan, after all. The sweet, protective ghost who lives in her room, and seems to want nothing more than to be her friend. She’s even learned to control her reactions to him when he visits her in class. Despite being a complete pariah, Jane’s settling into her new anonymity at her school.
That is, until Connor shows up.
“He looked in my direction, but not at me--not exactly. His eyes were glued right behind me. To the seat I knew was technically empty, the seat of my best friend and current tormentor.”
Back from a recent stint in juvie--or so the rumors say--Connor is everything Jane doesn’t need. A cocky bad boy who may or may not be a delinquent... and oh yeah, he can see Evan too. Connor warns Jane that Evan is there for a reason; he needs something from her before he can finally be at rest.
Jane is torn between wanting to keep her best friend, and the need to help him. Together, she and Connor try to uncover the secrets of Evan’s past, and in the process put themselves in Evan’s murderer’s crosshairs.
Wraith was less creepy than I envisioned after reading the summary, but I found I didn’t miss the shivers. (I’m kind of a wimp, I’ll be honest.) Though the story was somewhat straightforward and predictable, it was an interesting twist on the usual paranormal.
I loved the growth Jane demonstrated throughout the story; she begins as a defensive social outcast, completely dependent on her secret best friend, to someone determined and confident, and open to making new friends. Lawson really shines in her character development with both Jane and Connor.
And I especially loved that there was no love triangle set up between Jane, Connor, and Evan.
Wraith is a solidly entertaining paranormal, with humor, mystery, and heart.
This was Angel Lawson’s debut novel. Its sequel, Shadow Bound, was released in December, and is only $3.99 on Kindle and Nook. ...more
BEYOND SHAME is a well-written erotica with a full-fledged plot, a rarity in my experience with the genre.
After the solar storms, the land was divideBEYOND SHAME is a well-written erotica with a full-fledged plot, a rarity in my experience with the genre.
After the solar storms, the land was divided between Eden and the sectors. Eden houses the wealthy and their families, their society founded by the righteous patriarchs. Women are bred to be dutiful wives and gracious hostesses. Sex is forbidden before marriage, and alcohol is forbidden altogether.
Noelle Cunningham, daughter of a prominent councilman in The City, is banished for breaking the rules. Thrown beyond the city walls with nothing more than the dress on her back, she is found wandering the streets in a drugged stupor by Jasper, the tattooed lieutenant in the O'Kanes--the most powerful and dangerous gang in the Sectors, who make their living distilling and distributing alcohol.
Noelle is invited to become part of the gang, where the men are dangerous but loyal, and the women are free. While Noelle tries to find a place for herself with the O'Kanes, she discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. A side that feels and needs and burns. A side that shames her even as it excites her beyond reason. Noelle must come to terms with her desire and her shame before she can have what she truly wants - Jasper.
I really loved the setup in BEYOND SHAME, and am looking forward to what I hope will be more books in a series. I really enjoyed that the plot included intrigue and suspense unrelated to the erotic elements of Noelle's growth, which is not something I've found often in erotic novels.
However, I was disappointed to find that for all the demonizing of the way women were treated in Eden, Noelle basically traded one patriarchal society for another. Sure, in Sector 4 Noelle could drink as much as she wanted, and sleep with whomever she pleased, but was she really free? I don't know.
Still, I am looking forward to reading more from these authors, and definitely recommend to anyone looking for more than just porn without plot in their erotica. ...more
Lovely, Dark and Deep is certainly accurately named. The prose is absolutely lovely, at tim3.5 stars. This review also appears on The Midnight Garden.
Lovely, Dark and Deep is certainly accurately named. The prose is absolutely lovely, at times bordering on poetic (which is no surprise given McNamara has her MFA in poetry). There is a rhythm to the words, a cadence that so deftly draws the exact shape of Wren's mental state. Short staccato sentences, and long streams of consciousness give the words a voice and a mood all their own, pulling the reader right into Wren's story. The writing itself is nothing short of breathtaking.
However, for all its loveliness, the depth of the story's darkness make it a painful and heart-heavy read.
Wren Wells wants to disappear. After a devastating accident that kills her boyfriend, but leaves her unscathed, she abandons her college plans, and moves to the woods of Maine to live with her father. She seeks the quiet and the dark, and most of all, the solitude. Somewhere she doesn't have to speak. Away from her mother's prodding, and the sad eyes that worry and wonder.
"I came here because it’s pine dark and the ocean’s wild. The kind of quiet noise you need when there’s too much going on in your head. Like the water and the woods are doing all the feeling, and I can hang out, quiet as a headstone, in a between place, a place that could swallow me if I need it to."
But even in the quiet of the woods, and the space her father gives her, she can't escape the guilt, and the grief. Every thing reminds her of Patrick. Every breath is a reminder that she is alive when he is not. And does she deserve to be? After what she did?
After weeks of sleeping days away, and waking groggy and unrested, Wren's father finally forces her to do something productive with her time. She begins working part time at the library in town, and acting as an assistant to Cal Owens, a young man with secrets and grief of his own.
Though she is reluctant to let him in, Cal quickly becomes a integral part of Wren's new life--the one she's finally beginning to make for herself. Through her relationship with Cal, she begins to discovery who she is now, and how different she is from the Wren that was.
I found the stark portrayal of Wren's grief very realistic, if painful to read. McNamara pulls no punches in describing Wren's emotional state. I appreciated the accuracy, as well as Wren eventually seeking psychiatric help, which is not, in my experience, often seen in YA.
Though Cal is the catalyst for much of Wren's recovery, he is the element of the story that worked the least for me. I liked his character quite a bit, and enjoyed his and Wren's dynamic, but I felt their romance developed too quickly. Wren, grief-stricken, barely functional, and mostly mute, is attracted to him from the first moment they meet. Likewise, though Wren was not at all polite or inviting during their first meeting, Cal is insistent and unrealistically adamant about getting her to spend more time with him.
I found the romance element too prevalent and unrealistic for a story so otherwise focused on grief. I could have done without it entirely, and would have appreciated Cal's character more if he'd remained a friend with possibility, rather than a full-fledged love interest whilst Wren was so broken.
That being said, Lovely, Dark and Deep was a beautifully crafted story of overcoming grief, and rediscovering yourself after tragedy. ...more
On the surface, Carnival of Souls appears to be the perfect book for me. Reading the summary, it was as though MeReview posted at The Midnight Garden.
On the surface, Carnival of Souls appears to be the perfect book for me. Reading the summary, it was as though Melissa Marr had extracted all the best elements from books I’ve loved and combined them into one story that hit all my buttons: fantasy, supernatural elements, intrigue, and a fair bit of forbidden love.
Unfortunately, I found the combination of those factors worked better in theory than on the page.
Several different stories are told simultaneously--that of Mallory, the girl living in the human world with her adoptive witch-father, training every day to fight the daimons whom she’s told are after her, though she has no idea why. Kaleb, who is a lower-class daimon--a dog-like shapeshifter--living in the The City, the heart of the daimon world, and fighting in the life or death competition hosted by the Carnival of Souls for a chance to join the ruling class. Aya, a daimon of the elite class fighting in the competition in order to escape marriage and the subsequent breeding, which would reveal a terrible secret that would get her killed.
I apologize if that was hard to follow; even in summary it seems to be too much information for one story.
In addition to the three main characters, there are two secondary, several other tertiary, and even a couple quaternary (I had to look that up, haha) characters whose backstories are described in detail, for reasons not yet known.
I’ve read Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely previously, and loved it as much for Aislinn’s authentic and engaging voice as for the plot. I expected as much from Carnival of Souls, but unfortunately it felt more like character soup. Told in third person POV, there was no real differentiation between any of the characters’ voices that I could discern, and the end result was that I was unable to form much, if any, connection to the characters.
Consequently, Kaleb and Mallory’s romance was flat and awkward, leaning heavily on fate-driven insta-love, and lacking any natural progression through their very limited interactions. That on its own would have been annoying at worst, but coupled with a decision Kaleb makes toward the end of the book, let’s just say I’m not rooting for this couple in any way.
I am, however, interested in how Aya’s and Belias’ relationship plays out, which I found the most interesting of all the stories being told, and will probably be enough to keep me interested in the sequel.
In addition to the wealth of characters, the world building felt a bit overbearing. Told mostly in long paragraphs between dialogue, it read as info-dump rather than an organic reveal within the context of the story.
All in all, Carnival of Souls did not live up to my expectations, though I suppose in an ironic kind of way it did live up to its title--it is a carousel of characters and circumstances, one that left me feeling a little dizzy, and very ready to get off.
I read a lot, in pretty much every genre there is. While these days I mostly read YA, I have a big soft spot for romance, as that's what I grew up on.I read a lot, in pretty much every genre there is. While these days I mostly read YA, I have a big soft spot for romance, as that's what I grew up on. And sometimes, a girl just wants some smut. That's what I was after with WICKED BURN.
The story itself is your typical erotica / romance setup. Niall Chandler is recovering from a painful past, and meets Vic Savian, her gruff, sexy neighbor who begins to heal her with the power of his sex. There isn't much relationship developed outside of the (many) sex scenes, and what is there is your typical romance trope of drama after drama leading to steamy reconciliation after reconciliation, without much actual conversation until the conclusion.
This kind of formula is a bit par for the course in the genre, and I don't mean to say that disparagingly. There are some authors who work within the traditional formulas of the romance world, and do it so spectacularly that they are able to create tension and suspense even while their readers know exactly what's coming next.
Beth Kery, unfortunately, is not one of those authors. At least not with WICKED BURN. However, all that I can forgive. What I can't forgive--and fear I may never be able to forget--was the AWFUL language and imagery used in the love scenes. I think I spent a good 75% of the story with my face scrunched up, fighting back the gag reflex.
MOIST TISSUES. Oh god.
And the pièce de résistance, "Now that's a juicy little pocket." AND NO, HE WASN'T TALKING ABOUT THE MICROWAVABLE SNACK.
And those are just a few examples of the many, many awkward and repulsive phrases used. By the end of the book (why I decided to push through to the end, I'm not sure) I felt physically exhausted and in need of a palate cleanse.
(Note: I don't usually write reviews as blatantly snarky as this, but I find humor heals all wounds, and I am deeply traumatized.)