I started Barely Bewitched within about ten minutes of having finished Would-Be Witch, so my feelings about this second book are pretty mixed up withI started Barely Bewitched within about ten minutes of having finished Would-Be Witch, so my feelings about this second book are pretty mixed up with those of the first book. I am, however, clear on the fact that I preferred this book to Would-Be Witch.
During the events of the first book, Tammy Jo broke some of the laws that govern witching society. As a consequence, she’s now to be submitted to a test of her abilities in use and control of her powers. Two wizards have been sent to prepare Tammy Jo for the test she is to undergo, one of whom is somewhat unstable and has a history with her family.
However, with all the hectic things cropping up in her life, Tammy Jo has no time for preparing for the test, not when she unwittingly releases the fairy Armageddon upon her town.
This book felt more closely plotted than the previous one. Everything still speeds along at breakneck speed, but things just fit together better. Tammy didn’t annoy me as much. Zach did, but he wasn’t as big a player in this book so that’s ok. Bryn intrigued me, though I’m not sure he was forced to pay sufficiently for the consequences of a certain action. The way the townspeople were portrayed wasn’t quite as inflammatory (though their actions were certainly inflammatory).
All in all, I just felt a lot more at peace with Barely Bewitched and am looking forward to revisiting Tammy’s world in book three as soon as it’s delivered....more
This book leaves me feeling somewhat torn. On the one hand, there’s certainly a good idea for a storyline that can span over multiple books; the settiThis book leaves me feeling somewhat torn. On the one hand, there’s certainly a good idea for a storyline that can span over multiple books; the setting is good; and I really liked what we’ve seen so far of the paranormal society in this world. On the other hand, the characters were a little too good at driving me around the bend.
In part, I think it’s due to the fact that there’s such a huge cultural difference between the one shown here and the one I come from. Everyone is so sugary sweet that it’s overpowering. It all feels fake to me – surface level niceties between neighbours, while if you scratch just a little below the surface it’s all backstabbing and bad mouthing. Furthermore, Tammy Jo herself made me want to hit her and give her a reality check. She’s the sort of person who won’t believe you when you say that 1+1=2 because it is simply not possible to turn any one number into another one! She needed her head checking.
Beyond Tammy Jo herself, there’s her ex-husband and sometimes hook-up, Zach. I know he’s portrayed this way for a reason, but he’s so bigoted and close-minded that I couldn’t stand him. He’ll often do or say little things that supposedly show his deep love for Tammy Jo, but then he’ll do something that makes his actions / declarations moot. He’s constantly talking down to Tammy Jo, like she’s an idiot (which, ok, she is) and doesn’t know her own mind just because she’s a woman (she’s not always clear on this, but she’s got a better grasp of her own wishes than he does). Again, I know this is a cultural thing, but knowing doesn’t mean accepting. I liked Bryn better as he’s a more complex character, not all of his motives are immediately laid out on the table, and he’s interesting because he holds key information to understanding the setting better.
Talking about the setting, I’m torn about it. Tammy Jo seems to know nothing about witching society, despite the fact that she was born into a family of witches. Some of the more detailed stuff I can understand her not knowing, but you’d have thought that her relatives would have at least prepped her on the by-laws that come as part and parcel of being a witch. However, the fact that Tammy Jo doesn’t know these things does make it easier for the author to introduce them to the reader as we discover the society along with Tammy Jo.
Despite my reservations, I enjoyed the book well enough and found myself intrigued enough to immediately pick up book 2 (which I already had) and order the other currently available books in the series....more
If I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
This is the story of a teenage girl who survives an accident which kIf I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
This is the story of a teenage girl who survives an accident which killed her friends. In order to get away from the memories, her family moves to a new state and starts over. However, Mara has these little "episodes" where something inexplicable happens. For a long time, Mara thinks it's all in her head, but eventually she's forced to realise that these things that are happening are linked to her, and that rather than just being caught up in the mess, she might actually be the root of the problems.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was on my radar for some time before it was released and has been sitting patiently on my Kindle, waiting for me to get around to it, for a couple of years now. Well, I finally got around to it, and it wasn't as mind-blowing as I'd hoped it would be. There are a few reasons for this:
1. The romance. The spooky paranormal / horror side of the story could have been really interesting if the author had put all her talent into that. Instead there was a lot of effort put into the romance subplot in a way that did not advance the main plot. In fact, the romance pretty much became the main plot since it so completely overshadowed the spooky side of the story.
2. The paranormal. Due to the fact that it was relegated to the sidelines in its own story, the paranormal elements were not given the possibility to reach their full potential, rather just floudering. Things are introduced, left hanging, then never taken any further. I realise that the author's holding things back from the reader, but so much was heldback or relegated that the paranormal elements become pretty much nonsensical.
3. Noah. He was just too much. He fit every single cliché and yet I felt like I was supposed to run about twirling my knickers in the air and proclaiming how much I wanted to have his babies. No. He didn't appeal to me. He's super smart - as in, doesn't even have to go to class smart; he's super rich; he's drop dead sexy. Furthermore, he's a bad boy with a bad boy history, yet as soon as he meets Mara all he wants is her - and not for the shortrun. I couldn't get onboard with this. In all fairness, it might not be all Noah. He is too good to be true, but Mara exasperates the situation by going on and on about him. I felt embarassed for her because she becomes so obsessed with him that everything else in her life loses all importance.
4. Mara's friends. Wait? What friends? The short, bisexual, black, jewish kid who only seems to exist to be Mara's voice of reason, and gets kicked out of the story before the heat even really gets going and never makes another reappearance. Everything else revolves around Noah.
5. The legal case. Mara's father is lawyer. His first case when they move to Florida turns out to be pretty important to the endgame of this first book in the trilogy. Yet it is given very, very little attention during the rest of the book.
Really, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is just meaningless. It's light fluffy romance that would have done better sticking to romance rather than trying to be a spooky paranormal. The paranormal elements were so loosely plotted that they failed to make sense when put together as a whole....more
I've read Meljean Brook before and enjoyed the story she'd spun, however that was a very different kind of tale - steampunk rather than the paranormalI've read Meljean Brook before and enjoyed the story she'd spun, however that was a very different kind of tale - steampunk rather than the paranormal romance found here. I was drawn to Frozen because of the Norse mythology that the story is based on.
The author is particularly good at scene setting. Despite the fact that I was sweltering in high temperatures I could feel the chill of the setting. I also enjoyed the characterisation presented here. It's a novella so there's no time for big character arcs, but what we get is very nicely dealt with.
As was the case with my previous experience with Meljean Brook, once the mush got started, it was a bit too mushy for my tastes. That said, it was still good mush!
I'm certainly inspired to take another forray into the words of Meljean Brook at some point in the future....more
This book is, at its roots, a YA sci-fi novel but the actual science in it is given very little attention so it ends up reading more like a YA PNR. ThThis book is, at its roots, a YA sci-fi novel but the actual science in it is given very little attention so it ends up reading more like a YA PNR. This is a shame as the sci-fi aspect of it is what really drew me to the book in the first place. There is, after all, plenty of PNR out there aimed at YA readers, but much fewer books that focus on our present day society with a sci-fi flare.
The story is an odd mix between fast-paced and dragging. That is to say, for a long time we’re caught up in high school woes. There’s the best friend who’s desperate to get an in with the popular crowd (Jenna), the queen bee who rules the school with an iron fist (Rachel), and the popular guy (Zane) who for some reason has taken an interest in the quiet wallflower (Ariane). Cue the main cast.
Ariane has been trying to fly under the radar for the past ten years, since her escape from the local laboratory where she was submitted to inhumane testing for the first six years of her life. She’s trying to live life by the rules her saviour, the man she now calls her “father”, set for her, which essentially revolve around her not drawing any attention to herself. All that goes out of the window when Rachel targets Jenna as the butt of a mean joke and Ariane stands up for her friend. Cue Arian losing control of her spiffy alien powers (which she can’t usually access due to a traumatic event during her time in the lab). Cue an electricity surge and the unwelcome attention of her former captors. They don’t know who she is yet, but they know she’s close. All she can do now is attempt to disappear back into the woodwork. Something easier said than done considering Rachel has now targeted Ariane as well as Jenna.
There are alternating PoVs in this book: Ariane and Zane. I’m not always a fan of dual narration, especially if there’s not enough of a difference between the first person voices, but in this case I think it was necessary. Ariane tended to either focus on only certain things or waffle aimlessly whereas Zane allowed for a more rounded picture of the events taking place. It also allowed me to get to know him better as Ariane certainly didn’t know him well when she decided she was falling in love with him! It’s worth noting that the whole of this book took place in a span of about five days and Ariane and Zane hadn’t really communicated much in the past. This fact did detract from the “epicness” on their love (for me).
I want to mention the rules themselves as well: they didn’t full sit well with me. Why not? Because Ariane was six when she was saved from the lab and who tells a six-year-old that it is imperative she never allow herself to fall in love? Seems a bit OTT to me.
So eventually things moved beyond the high school drama and moved into the realm of sci-fi conspiracy. Unfortunately this isn’t until the last 75 pages or so. By this time I just wanted it to be over so I could start on something new. It felt to me like there were a number of long passages – even whole chapters at times – that were not entirely necessary to the story and just served to beef it up. It was an odd mix of short spikes of action intermingled with long lulls of reminiscing. I enjoyed the story but not as much as I was hoping to. Despite this, I’ll still be reading book 2....more
The story opens in Ireland in 2012 with a bit of scene setting. Apolline is there on an assignment to take out a vampire, but with the impending centeThe story opens in Ireland in 2012 with a bit of scene setting. Apolline is there on an assignment to take out a vampire, but with the impending centennial of the disaster, things are pretty Titanic-centric in Belfast, the city where the Titanic was built. At this point the book is rather apologetic about Apolline’s vast knowledge of the Titanic and it got old fast. There’s even this quote: “After all, it was the Titanic disaster that prompted all the maritime safety laws to be amended so that all ships had to have enough lifeboats for everyone on board, and all wireless rooms had to stay active 24 hours a day, not to mention the establishment of the International Ice Patrol. (I didn’t normally know that much detail about the disaster, but with it being the 100th anniversary, there had been a lot of documentaries on TV lately, especially during my short stay in Belfast where it was even bigger news.)” This, however, does not make sense. Especially when you take into consideration that later in the book Apolline is shown to have a vast library of both books and DVDs about the Titanic – the 1997 James Cameron movie being her all-time favourite – and her knowledge of the disaster supposedly rivals that of the tour givers at the Titanic exhibition. Why, then, are there so many passing remarks about her Titanic-trivia being due to the anniversary rather than just her interest in the events of the disaster? This did get a bit frustrating at times because it felt like the author was trying to excuse her character having so much knowledge about something she’s obviously interested in.
Things soon move to the Titanic in 1912. Rather than being transported there in body, Apolline is, instead, inhabiting the body of an ancestor, Noelle, who was actually on the Titanic. Being of a long line of vampire hunters who do not tend to reach old age, she figures that she has been sent there to complete and assignment that her ancestor was unable to complete before disaster struck and the ship went down.
Apolline has a “watcher” who informs her of her assignments. She’s never met him and he only communicates by mail. She calls him Giles in reference to the Buffy show. When she arrives in 1912, she discovers that the same Giles was communicating with her ancestor. Unfortunately, after this point Giles is pretty much dropped from the story and his role in everything, exactly what he is, etc. – none of it is ever brought up and explored again.
In fact, the whole vampire plot itself seemed rather contrived at times and a mere device to get a present-day character in this specific historical setting. The idea that Apolline is a vampire hunter is used as the explanation for why time travel is also possible, both being outside of the realm of the ordinary. The vampires themselves don’t actually play much of a role in the story and don’t tend to show up very often. Even the final climax on the Titanic between vampire and hunter was over so quickly that if you blinked you’d have missed it. I would have preferred more of an impact from that particular scene.
But as I said, that wasn’t the crux of the story. The crux was the exploration of the ship itself as well as the social mores at that time from the eyes of a modern character. There was a bit too much attention paid to the clothing. After all, they did get changed at least three times per day in that day and age and Apolline describes her outfits each time she puts on a new one. I know some readers do like to have clothes described in detail as that sort of thing helps them to build a better picture in their own heads, but I’m not one of them. I consider clothes to be an unnecessary distraction detail that detracts from the story itself. Other than that, I was completely fascinated by the picture painted here. It’s true that a lot of the time stories about the Titanic tend to concentrate on either the opulence of first class or the conditions in third class. Very few books explore how it was for a second class character. This book is one of those few that choose to take a look at second class and the people who were travelling there.
The author incorporated a lot of people who really were on the Titanic. I think only the two main characters – Apolline and her fellow vampire hunter / romantic interest Alex – are fictional. She treated each of these characters with the respect that the memory of a real individual deserves.
Alex himself made for a wonderful hero. He’s the first other vampire hunter that Apolline has ever met and he was a worthy romantic interest. He was obviously smitten with Apolline, even when it gets to the point where she feels that she has to share her unbelievable truths – that the ship will soon sink and most of those on the liner will not survive. He didn’t know what to make of it all, but he still felt drawn to this unusual woman.
It was obvious that it was going to be a bittersweet ending. At one point, Alex says “I’d follow you anywhere, even to the future.” I think I latched on to that line more than I should have. After all, the characters have no knowledge of how this time travel thing works, so how would he go about following the woman he’s fallen in love with from his own time to her time? The author works this in a very unexpected way. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it as when I latch onto a romantic interest, I very rarely budge enough to accept another one, even in spite of the links between the two that are present in this case. I recognise the sweetness behind how things are wrapped up, but at the same time I’m not sold about it.
The Titanic sinks around the 70% mark of the story and the final 30% is about Apolline getting to grips with how her life has changed with this experience. She accompanies her neighbour and original crush (before she went back in time) to a Titanic exhibition about the disaster. At the end of the tour, the passengers are listed with each one marked as having survived or lost their life on the 15th April 1912. This section of the story is extremely poignant. I felt completely torn apart by it as it made me stop and think about some of the points that are brought up. What is said there is true, very true, and it makes me sad that sometimes we overlook the human tragedy to focus on the mystery of the disaster instead. All those who died were real humans who lived real lives and who lost them. They deserve to be remembered but they also deserve to be allowed to rest in peace....more
It started out as this really cool thriller that was spooky cool, if not explored to a deep level... but then it turned into this p***MILD SPOILERS***
It started out as this really cool thriller that was spooky cool, if not explored to a deep level... but then it turned into this paranormal thing with religious influences. No!
The idea of this game was so, so cool. Someone is stalking you, calling you endlessly but there's no record of these calls, they take everything you own (your house, your car, your bank account), they take your best friend and frame you for murder. Scary stuff! It all builds up to the "ultimate reality game", the one all Americans want to watch.
But the game itself lasted hardly any time at all! Then there was this huge turn around as the book focused on a paranormal twist that took everything towards a bigger "game", but one that is orchestrated by the guy upstairs. Not interested.
I was really frustrated and felt let down by the time I got to the end of the book. It doesn't help that the writing is still more on the tell side than show, and that a lot of things are rushed rather than being explored in some detail. Like the other people stuck in the game - as soon as it's over they're never mentioned again!
All in all, a good start let down by a bad end....more
There's some seriously clunky prose going on in this book. Here are a few examples that I highlighted:
My lung and throat feel like their bruised. So aThere's some seriously clunky prose going on in this book. Here are a few examples that I highlighted:
My lung and throat feel like their bruised. So apparently she only has one lung, as well as the incorrect use of their.
His eyes amplify. Huh?
His blonde hair glimmers in the sunlight and hands in his ash eyes. I'm not even sure what this is supposed to mean.
His eyes enlarge. I get what the author means with this, but bad word choice.
His voice perpetuates my body with heat. Again, the word choice doesn't make sense. Perpetuate means to prolong the existance of something, and I'm not sure how that fits here.
"Did they have black-winged feathers?" Black-winged feathers? Or black-feathered wings?
Cameron's voice intervenes my thoughts. Again, bad word choice.
Like a shadow, he transpires in the doorway with the light of the house shining behind. Again, transpire is the wrong word choice. It doesn't make sense in this context.
He conceals his body over mine and my words evaporate into the night. Conceals his body over mine? Conceal is synonymous of hide. He could conceal her body under his, but not his body over hers.
These are just some examples. There are plenty more in the book. In fact, at times it felt like it was overflowing with words used incorrectly, like the author had used a thesaurus and just picked whichever word looked good to her. It was most off-putting for me as the reader because I kept having to rebuild her sentence structure while reading.
As for the story itself, it was ok (hence the 2 stars). It was a bit on the obvious side though, with no unexpected twists or turns. The best friend was more like a frenemy than a friend; the was a double dose of love/lust at first sight (one of my pet peeves); the sex scenes were on the clunky side and just didn't work very well for me...
At the end of the day I'm not really sure how I feel about the story. I want to read the next installment, but at the same time I'm not sure I feel particularly fulfilled by this one. ...more
A short while before this book was released, I read a few of the early reviews by some of the GR reviews whose opinions I respect. The consensus was nA short while before this book was released, I read a few of the early reviews by some of the GR reviews whose opinions I respect. The consensus was not great. By this time I already had the book on order, so when it came in I put it to one side for a couple of months. Yesterday I decided to give it a go, even though I still had the faint echoes of these bad reviews rattling around in my head. Consequently I went into the book with some trepidation.
I was pleasently surprised.
It should be said that I have times when I'm more open and accepting than others. Right now I'm fairly open and willing to put my prejudices aside. Depending on my mood, I'm looking for different things in a book. Sometimes I'm looking for the world building, sometimes I'm after a mystery I can't unravel on my own, sometimes it's all about the characters, and sometimes I'm just after a believable romance.
Right now, I appear to be in the last category. It's in the story's interests that I am.
Had I been after world building, Indelible would have fallen pretty flat. There's plenty of world there, but it's not really built, it's just presented as it is with little-to-no explanation for why it is the way it is. Case in point: there are some great "Folk" depicted in the story, very scary, but I'm not entirely sure how they fit into our world.
The mystery aspect isn't really all that prevalent here. There's not much of a plot to the first half / two thirds of the book. It's more about the introduction to the world next to ours as well as a large focus on the interactions between Joy and Ink.
Characters are there, with Joy, Ink, Inq, and the Bailiwick being the driving focus of the story, but there are sacrifices made with the other characters. Take the best friend's boyfriend, for example. He's mentioned a lot but is never actually an active player in it all, so I don't care about him. Take Joy's mother & her toyboy, James, Shelley - even Stefan and Joy's father to an extent. I got the feeling that the author wanted to present both sides, but had to choose one over the other and so sacrificed the more human side of things.
The romance, however, is very clearly present. It's fairly slow-burning and involves some passages that were very moving in their own way (the inspection of an ear has never been so erotic!). I was very easily caught up in their young love, their urge to learn not only each other but also how to act in the new roles they've taken on with regards to one another.
I liked the descriptions of the "Folk" (most of whom are pretty much on the monstrous side of things) and felt it added to a tense atmosphere as things were just starting to kick off. Additionally there were some very well-depicted scenes. I recognise that there were areas in the narrative where things started to drag, but it didn't get to the point where I was starting to feel said drag.
There were a few cases where the incorrect word was used in the sentence and I had to stop for a minute to puzzle out the real meaning of what was being said.(I'm afraid I didn't stop reading to take down any examples)...more