I wanted to like this book so badly. I adored the first book; I felt it brought up a lot of moral questions that are hard to answer and performed a beI wanted to like this book so badly. I adored the first book; I felt it brought up a lot of moral questions that are hard to answer and performed a beautiful dance around many hard decisions.
The second book disappointed me somewhat. It had lost that special something that the first book had used to keep me wrapped up in it.
I'm sorry to say this final book didn't do much better.
The big problem was that I really could not connect with Ari. I tried very hard, but I felt like a spectator to her problems rather than like I was living through them and experiencing them with her.
Don't get me wrong, this book was very action-packed and would often jump from one encounter to the next. The relationships became more complex. There were joys, there were tears. Ari made new friends and lost old ones.
It had all the ingredients to be a really good finale, but for whatever reason Collide failed to transport me to Ari's world the way that Gravity did....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
There's no world building to show how society would go from where we are now to what Birch presents in her novel. Furthermore, it's obviously not farThere's no world building to show how society would go from where we are now to what Birch presents in her novel. Furthermore, it's obviously not far in the future because the only real difference is these human pets; there are no technological advances for example.
The main character really is like a dog. I know why it was done, but it didn't make reading her any more interesting. Or maybe it's more that the author didn't put her through situations that would elicit the correct emotions in me. As it was, the character frustrated me because I knew that the way she was being treated wasn't right, but she didn't have the knowledge to see that it was wrong. In fact, for the vast majority of the book, she's happy to be someone else's pet, and even runs back to them at times.
The insta-love aspect was too heavy-handed as well. Penn goes from hating her one minute to wanting her the next. It wasn't gradual, it was just suddenly in your face as the reader. As such, I wasn't caught up in the emotions of this relationship either.
I don't know whether or not I'll read the second book. I'll see how I feel when the second book is released....more
This book is billed as a retelling of two Russian fairy tales, one of which is the Russian equivalent of Beauty and the Beast, which is a sure-fire waThis book is billed as a retelling of two Russian fairy tales, one of which is the Russian equivalent of Beauty and the Beast, which is a sure-fire way of getting my attention.
The story starts out working with BatB: Natasha gets caught in a snowstorm while on her way home from delivering one of her mother's works of art. Just as all seems lost, she spots a light in the distance. The light turns out to be a castle that at first seems empty, but when Natasha accidentally destroys the beautiful rose growing in the garden she finds herself a prisoner of the mysterious residents until she can pay the debit she has incurred.
About half way through the story things part drastically from BatB and switch to the other fairy tale retold here. Now Natasha finds herself crossing the continent in pursuit of the man she's fallen in love with, who happens to have been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer.
The story is set in a fascinating fantasy equivalent of turn of the 20th century-ish Europe. There are many similarities to our world, but in this one magic and magical beings exist and are part of the norm, even if they aren't accepted in all countries. We meet a couple of these magical beings, my favourite being Old Bony, the lady of the forest, who takes it upon herself to teach Natasha self-restraint.
The magic system isn't delved into in detail but it's treated in such a way that the reader is able to build up a good picture of it, to the extent that Natasha herself understands the magic. The setting is also nicely drawn, relying on things from our world where necessary but deviating enough to make the distinction between our world and this one worth it. The descriptions are well written and help to transport the reader.
Natasha herself wasn't always likeable. She had an annoying habit of giving her word she'd act in one way and then immediately doing the exact opposite as soon as backs were turned. Additionally, she falls in love after only a couple of conversations, which was a bit of a disappointment. The story would have profited from more time spent fleshing out the budding relationship between Natasha and "Ivan". As it was, I just went with the flow and recognised that the story was changing gear, but it meant that I wasn't as invested in the relationship as I wanted to be....more
Last year I read Deception's Princess because the concept of it made me think of Warrior Daughter by Janet Paisley, one of my favourite books. It turnLast year I read Deception's Princess because the concept of it made me think of Warrior Daughter by Janet Paisley, one of my favourite books. It turned out these two books are vastly different, but I enjoyed Deception's Princess well enough to want to see how Maeve's story would conclude in the second book of her duology.
Unfortunately, I find myself vastly disappointed.
Maeve's story was always going to be about Maeve freeing herself of the prejudices against females that are present in her society, and ultimately that's what this book is about, but when Maeve gets that far I didn't really feel like she'd done anything to deserve it.
Instead of the book being about Maeve's struggle to be seen as a leader in her own right, the vast majority of the book is essentially Mean Girls set in Iron Age Ireland. And it got old really fast.
Beyond that, I felt like unimportant aspects of the story were given a lot of attention, whereas those where I wanted to know more about events taking placed tended to be glossed over.
I'm sorry to say that I didn't really enjoy this one. I expected so much more from the mighty Queen Medb of mythology....more
This book has a lot of potential but despite its best efforts I don't think it really was all that it could have been.
We're introduced to Kai and theThis book has a lot of potential but despite its best efforts I don't think it really was all that it could have been.
We're introduced to Kai and the city she lives in. She's from the poorest area of the city and is used to desperation in those all around her. In a time when only the city's leader is supposed to wield magic anymore, Kai has a secret: she can affect the flow of time.
She doesn't understand her ability and can only wield it for short spurts of time, but it sets her apart from all others around her. Add to that the fact that she has no memory of her life before her (adopted) brother, Reev, found her and took her in when she was eight years old. Kai has no idea of who she really is or where she came from.
When Reev is kidnapped, Kai is determined to save him, so she and her best friend, Avan, set out to track down Reev's kidnappers. When they find the Black Knight's fortress, they learn that all is not as it seems: there's a lot more to their world than they ever imagined and now they're caught as pawns in a war between immortals.
First of all, I have to say that I was drawn to this book by the prospect of this character's ability to manipulate the threads of time. However, I don't think that this aspect of the story is really properly showcased. There are a couple of instances where Kai uses her abilities at the start of the book, and her abilities factor into the climax of the story. Furthermore, her abilities are certainly referred to during the big swath between the scene setting and the climax... however, they are not explored. This was a big let-down, especially as the synopsis says that Kai is going to have to learn to control her abilities if she wants to save Reev. She does learn while she's preparing to save her brother from captivity, but it's not her abilities that she's learning about.
Despite these reservations, I enjoyed this story well enough and was intrigued enough by the finale to want to continue with this series....more
I read the first book, Crewel, earlier this year, though to be honest so little of the story was still clear in my mind that I might as well have readI read the first book, Crewel, earlier this year, though to be honest so little of the story was still clear in my mind that I might as well have read it years ago. What really stuck with me from Crewel is that the world building was fabulous and I loved how this supposed fantasy morphed into something completely sci-fi. In fact, I remember more about the world building than about the characters. I vaguely remember thinking that the heroine, Adelice, was a bit of a push over and needed to take a stand for what she believed in, and that she had a tendency to make stupid decisions. Finally, I remembered there being a love triangle between two brothers, neither of whom I was particularly excited about.
This second book, Altered, picks up where Crewel left off. There’s not much of a recap of the events in Crewel but there were enough memory jogs for me to be able to pick up enough of the pieces to be able to be drawn back into the action with no problems. I probably missed out on some of the more subtle nuances that span the two books, but I didn’t suffer for it. In actuality, I prefer it this way as I hate when authors dedicate a good portion of their book to recapping events from (a) previous book(s).
I was soon completely absorbed in the book, flicking through the pages like no one’s business. I was unable to devour it as I would have liked, but I still finished the book in significantly less time than has been recent average. I rather liked the difference in setting here, Earth itself (though very different to the Earth we know) instead of Arras. I did, however, find that I missed the beautiful descriptions of just what Adelice would work with the threads of reality. While there are some descriptions of weaving in Altered, they didn’t blow me away in quite the same way as those in Crewel.
In Altered, Adelice and feuding brothers Jost and Eric find themselves on Earth, one being mined of its resources for use in Arras. They need to find safety in a world completely foreign to them, one where light is controlled by a mafia-esque group called the Sunrunners. They manage to fall in with this group, become embroiled in their politics and surprising links to Arras.
The big difference between this book and Crewel is that Crewel was fairly slow and took its time setting up a whole society with the focus on its corrupt inner workings. Altered, however, is chock full of events and revelations, many of them game-changing. There’s nary a chapter where you’re not left on the edge of your seat wondering just what’s still in store for the characters.
By the end of the book, we’ve got answers to some questions but many more are left open for further exploration in book 3. It leaves off in such a place that I’m torn between being glad that I read it now and wishing I’d left it until book 3 is already available so I could immediately get the answers to all the “what next?!” questions.
I think my biggest frustration with this book was how the love triangle was dealt with. Erik was mostly absent for the first half of the book, so I missed Adelice’s interactions with him that would have picked up on the chemistry from the first book (that vague niggle of it that I don’t really remember). The first half of Altered focuses entirely on Jost, only swinging to focus on Erik when Jost makes a decision that takes him out of the picture for some time. This resulted in things with Erik happening at such a speed that it didn’t really impact me.
Moreover, Jost’s words and actions cemented my feelings that he’s not the sort of male character that works for me. I remember not being so sure about him in the first book, but now I’m sure that in Adelice’s position I would not be ready to forgive and forget the accusations he made, nor how he wanted to use her for his own agenda – even if I do understand where he’s coming from. I understand him, but that doesn’t endear him to me.
All in all, I think both of these books have been much more about the setting and the fantastical elements woven into the storyline than about the characters. In that respect, the book was a real hit for me – even if I did miss some of the elements of the society that had been presented in the first book. The characters were still missing that je ne sais quoi that would have really left me invested in them. As it is, I’m more interested in seeing how things will turn out for Earth and Arras, more than I am in seeing whether Adelice will choose Jost or Erik, whether Adelice will be able to save her sister and reunite Jost with his daughter…
I will definitely be reading the book 3, just waiting for a release date now!...more