This review might come across as a bit overly harsh, but I want to say that overall I did enjoy this book. It's just that when it comes down to it, th...moreThis review might come across as a bit overly harsh, but I want to say that overall I did enjoy this book. It's just that when it comes down to it, this book fell prey to being too overly ambitious for its own good.
But first, the good.
There is a lot to like here, such as the not-so-subtle LGBT themes in the work. I think that Chainani is trying to build this up to where Agatha and Sophie will pair off in the final book as each other's destined True Love, which I like. It's a bit bold for a book aimed at middle schoolers, but it'd be nice to have something LGBT friendly that isn't written to be A Very Special Episode. The characters aren't bad either, although the best ones for most readers will likely be the side characters such as Hort, Dot, Kiko, and even Beatrix. There's just something about the way that they're written that you either love to hate them or love to feel sorry for them. What really stands out though, are the descriptive scenes and the illustrations. I feel a little bad for anyone that's only listening to the audiobook, as the illustrations truly do add to the book and give it a little extra oomph.
And now for what didn't work.
Ultimately what went wrong here is that Chainani tried to fit way, way too much into one book. We have several Big Big Events happen in the book and I can't help but feel that trying to deliver one big event after another made them lose their effectiveness. I guess the best way to explain it would be to say that it kind of felt like what you'd get if you tried to condense the first three books in the Harry Potter series into one abridged book. Yes, it'd still be fun, but it sort of loses a bit of its gusto in the process. It kind of had this "everything and the kitchen sink" aspect to it and I think that this would have been a little better improved by either turning it into several smaller books (which would have allowed for a bit more buildup) or by some selective editing. When we get to the final reveal/hurrah of the book I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed because I'm already exhausted by the time I got there. This is apparently going to be made into a film, but the way the book is set up makes me feel that this would be better served as a television series because it'd work a little better with how many major events and plot the book holds.
Now this doesn't mean that the book is awful or that I'm not curious to read the next book. It's not and I am planning on reading the next book. I just hope that it's a bit more restrained than this book was, as its overly ambitious nature takes away from the delicate love story that Chainani is trying to weave around Sophie and Agatha.(less)
**spoiler alert** Freaking love this manga. What I love most is that I still can't predict how the series will end, not even after 8 volumes. I'm hopi...more**spoiler alert** Freaking love this manga. What I love most is that I still can't predict how the series will end, not even after 8 volumes. I'm hoping for a HEA, but I'm already sort of assuming that this will have either a tragic ending where Rea dies completely once and for all, or it's going to be a bittersweet ending where she lives, but is doomed to slowly rot to nothing despite all of Chihiro's attempts to preserve her. (less)
When I'd first heard about this book, I'd been ready to dismiss it. Why? Because it's the latest in a long line of novels released through James Frey'...moreWhen I'd first heard about this book, I'd been ready to dismiss it. Why? Because it's the latest in a long line of novels released through James Frey's fiction factory, Full Fathom Five. I hadn't really kept up with everything he'd released, as there were quite a few books and I'd never been truly impressed with his initial offering, I Am Number Four. It squeezed in far too many elements that are overused in the YA genre of the time period. Now don't get me wrong: I know that FFF-esque production companies have been around forever and are more common than you'd think. I'm not dismissing it because of that, just that in my experience most of the books released through companies of this type are so laden with cliches and tired tropes that they aren't really that memorable later on down the line... at least not for anything overly positive.
So when I picked up a free sample of this via a local bookstore, I was actually fairly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed it. So much so, that when I got the chance to pick up an ARC I actually jumped at it.
Don't get me wrong: you can easily see where elements of this are clearly calculated to appeal to the current YA market. All of the hallmarks of the average book are here. Love interest in the first book? Heroine with a tragic past? Yup and yup. Using the tried and true "Bad Is Good And Good Is Bad" and "What is Evil?" tropes? Yep, that's here too. Readers won't find much here that isn't already used fairly heavily in similar and similar-ish themed books. It also doesn't help that you can also see where this was planned out with the intent to turn it into a big blockbuster film or TV series ala IAK4, as there are several scenes that are fairly lavish in their description. They'll look great on screen and they are pretty fun to read, but they just kind of occasionally hammer home that this was written as a package deal: books, movie/TV, marketing tie-ins, the works.
Yet somehow, despite all of this, Paige makes this all work. She's got a very real knack for drawing the reader in and making you want to continue reading and find out what happens. There are a few elements that I can't help but wonder are her additions, such as Amy's grim resignation at the beginning of the novel, such as in the case of the school hottie. She's not interested in him (which was refreshing) but Amy helps him because she knows he wants the same thing she does: to get out of their small town and on to anything else.
The biggest drawback as a whole would have to be that everything is fairly rushed and we have quite a bit of content squished into the first book as a whole. Paige does her best to remedy this, but given that Frey has (reportedly) fairly strict control over the layout of the book(s), we can't really fault her for this. Hopefully as the books continue this will even out and we'll have more time to focus on character development and so on. All in all, this is a pretty strong first novel and it really shows a lot of promise for what Paige could bring to the table in future works, both those she releases under Frey's banner and those she doesn't.
If I had to sum up this book in one sentence, it'd be "should have been a short story". The premise of this book is fairly interesting. The page lengt...moreIf I had to sum up this book in one sentence, it'd be "should have been a short story". The premise of this book is fairly interesting. The page length of this book makes it closer to a novella than a novel, but even so the problem here is that the story would have been tighter and more thrilling if it'd been shorter.
Much of the book's issues stem from a lot of treading water. I think that Limbaugh was trying to go for the slow gothic novel, but rather than drawing out a delicious tension we have a lot of scenes that feel plodding and a bit obligatory. Limbaugh isn't an awful writer, but I think that he tried a little too hard to turn this into a lengthier piece when this probably could have been more interesting if he'd cut out a lot of the extraneous stuff.
For example, the relationship between Ramsey and Mel just felt sort of "there". It never really felt truly organic and natural, especially since Limbaugh went out of his way to say that Mel had been traumatized in the past by witnessing her father repeatedly beat and rape her mother. It was something so traumatizing that it actually ruined her first marriage because she would have crippling panic attacks when she was finally confronted with sex, which she'd completely avoided up to that point in time. Yet this is given a brief section and then completely ignored afterwards. It kind of made me ask what was the point of mentioning this, since it didn't really seem to connect to Mel's character at all. The same thing sort of goes for any of Limbaugh's attempts to go into depth for any of the characters. It just felt tacked on, like he was trying to pad the page count and his heart just wasn't into it. The most disappointing part came at the resolution, which was so rushed it felt anticlimactic.
There were some good spots to this and when Limbaugh does get things rolling, the work is quite good. There are some interesting touches here and there that showed promise, although they were never really fully delivered upon. Again, I think that this really would have been better as a short story.
This wasn't awful to the point where I would ask for my money back or anything, but I wouldn't say that I'd overly recommend this as a whole over other books that Samhain has released. It's OK, but it's not stellar. (less)
Incredibly disturbing, this has to be one of the more interesting mangas I've read so far this year. The premise screams "cutesy cutesy", but this is...moreIncredibly disturbing, this has to be one of the more interesting mangas I've read so far this year. The premise screams "cutesy cutesy", but this is far from cutesy. It's probably going to turn into one of the most disturbing series I'll read this year, but I definitely recommend it. (less)
I wouldn't normally have picked this book up, except that I really enjoyed some of the author's other works and bought this in my frenzy to read every...moreI wouldn't normally have picked this book up, except that I really enjoyed some of the author's other works and bought this in my frenzy to read everything Moreland-related that Barnes & Nobles had to offer. I'm rather glad, as I liked this as much as his other stuff.
Don't let the book's synopsis fool you- Sean isn't really in the book that much. He's pretty much just a framing device for the real story that's narrated by way of his grandfather's diary. You see only small glimpses of Sean, so if you're expecting to see Sean have to battle the forces of darkness then you need to change the expectations because this doesn't happen. Any and all supernatural action happens in the past. Not that there's anything wrong with this- the action in this book is excellent, but I can't stress enough that the book's blurb is misleading.
That said, I have to restate that this book was pretty spiffy. It's a quick read, mostly because you'll likely be racing through it. If you've read Moreland's other works then you'll know what to expect. If you're new to his work, this is a pretty good start. Moreland's writing is similar to the schlock horror films and books of the 70s to early 90s. Kind of like a Hammer Horror/Full Moon Pictures type of thing. So if you know what I mean by that and want to read something along those lines, buy this book. You have some great action scenes and some fairly nice characters.
The only big downfall for this book is that you can see a lot of things coming from a mile away. Then again, that's a common failing of most things horror and it doesn't really detract from the work as a whole. The biggest thing I'd have suggested is that Moreland could have done away with the whole grandson angle and just focused on Jack Chamber's exploits. I really enjoyed this and I have to say, I'm becoming a fairly big Moreland fan.(less)
I finished this book with a little sadness, as it meant that I'm now completely and utterly up to date with everything that Moreland has released so f...moreI finished this book with a little sadness, as it meant that I'm now completely and utterly up to date with everything that Moreland has released so far. There are probably some short stories out there, but I think I've read everything. Now I can only wait for the next work to come out.
Like much of Moreland's other works, this book is definitely a throwback/homage to 80s/90s horror films. For those who love that sort of thing, this will be an incredibly addicting book that they won't really want to put down. There are some great, incredibly creepy scenes here that really made me scrabble to try to tell others about them. Let's just say that dolls are utilized well in this work.
This isn't entirely perfect, as sometimes things progress a little too quickly to be entirely realistic. However this is something I expect in Moreland's work and really, it's pretty typical for this type of horror. This is the sort of thing where the main focus is the horror (human or supernatural) more than anything else. Moreland does give us enough to where we'll be drawn into the characters, but the main thrust here is to give us the monsters. That's why I keep comparing his books to 80s/90s and even 70s horror: that's sort of the way the films of those era played out.
I definitely recommend this, but I will say that this will probably be something more appreciated by fans of this type of horror. (less)
I freaking love Moreland so far. I'll admit that his style of writing would be best described as "schlock horror", but he writes with such flair that...moreI freaking love Moreland so far. I'll admit that his style of writing would be best described as "schlock horror", but he writes with such flair that I couldn't help but purchase all of his works I could get my hands on. That's pretty much the best endorsement I can give anyone, that I'd willingly go out and purchase their stuff because I want to give them my money as opposed to getting it from a library or other means.
The story here is fairly fast paced, but if you've read Witching House then you'll be prepared for it. (Although offhand I'd also recommend that you start into his work the same way I did, with the latest and working your way back.) The characters here are nice, but I'd be the first to say that they're more here as fodder to propel the plot along and serve as victims for the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. I won't spoil the whole plot, but I will say that while I was expecting the twist I wasn't expecting it to be as big as it was.
All in all, this book had a rather satisfying conclusion and this is one of those books I could see doing fairly well as a film. It has enough action to where it'd translate nicely into an After Dark piece, but then I suppose I'm being a bit biased since I really like this author's stuff.
The only big warning I'd give would be that if you weren't into schlock or pulp horror along the likes of the stuff you'd see in the 70s to early 90s cinema, you're less likely to enjoy this as you might otherwise.(less)
This one took me a while to get through, partially because of school but also because it's kind of like Shrek and onions: it has layers. You can read...moreThis one took me a while to get through, partially because of school but also because it's kind of like Shrek and onions: it has layers. You can read through this in a rather quick and fast manner and still greatly enjoy the story for its beautiful artwork and story, but you'll miss out on a lot. I still don't know that I really caught everything the story was trying to tell me the first go round, so this is definitely one to pick up repeatedly and re-read.
The whole layers and symbolism in the book might make for some frustrating reading occasionally. In many cases Nakamura is so caught up in trying to tell the reader something incredibly deep/profound, that it gets a little irritating. I don't mind having to think and I definitely think that the layers are what keeps this from being a more nondescript read, but sometimes I felt that this came at the cost of a little character development. We're thrust into this world where we don't really know much about our characters and while this is very intentional (as the message here is "what lies beneath... or does anything lie beneath?), I can't help but feel that I wasn't as emotionally invested as I would otherwise have liked to be. I was fascinated with this work, but more as a dispassionate observer.
All in all though, this really is a good work and one I'd recommend to anyone who wants to have a good read that makes you work a little for the immediate payoff and a little more for the complete deal. This will probably end up as one of the type of manga that never really gains any attention and will be a footnote in a manga encyclopedia somewhere, which is a bit of a shame. This really does deserve a little more critical attention. It'll never be a mainstream hit, but fans of slow psychological pieces will be likely to adore it. (less)
I hope that this isn't the last volume of the series (despite Zahler giving out every indication that it is), but if it is then we're left on a rather...moreI hope that this isn't the last volume of the series (despite Zahler giving out every indication that it is), but if it is then we're left on a rather positive note as a whole. Most of the big issues (not that this series had many) are all wrapped up in rather neat bow of sorts, so if Zahler does decide to take a big hiatus or just stop here, you won't be shaking your fist for more closure.
As you can expect, this volume is about Abby's pregnancy and all of what that might entail. It's actually interesting that Zahler decided to include the idea of the baby potentially having superpowers while in the womb, something I didn't initially think about when I read the baby cliffhanger in the previous volume. I suppose that this is partially because the comic never really addressed the whole "man of steel, woman of tissue paper" issue, but it's a reasonable worry for any expectant mother.
There are of course interesting side notes, including one Aha! moment that I slightly caught on to while reading the final chapter of the book- but not for the reasons that Darkblade caught on. All I will say is that a certain child-like Shazam! based superhero was talking like a far older person than he did in previous volumes.
All in all, this was a nice ending to the series- but I hold out hope for a future one-shot or more issues. It's a great series and a nice sendoff for a cast I've really grown to love. (less)
I have to admit that I'm slightly torn on how I felt about this book. I loved it overall and it wraps up the series well enough to where we should all...moreI have to admit that I'm slightly torn on how I felt about this book. I loved it overall and it wraps up the series well enough to where we should all be able to feel a bit of closure, but there are some threads that remain unresolved. I have to give you all that bit of warning because there was one thread, namely the whole "let Ivy keep her soul" bit that I was hoping would be resolved and it wasn't. Here's hoping that maybe we'll have a future novella or two to wrap up the last remaining plot threads?
In any case, there's a lot here that long time readers will love. Lots of good Rachel/Trent movement in this book (and yes that's a double entendre!) and lots of Jenks being Jenks. I was slightly surprised at how major of a plot point the whole elf world/society was, as I was expecting a majority of the plot to take place in the Ever After for some reason. No particular reason for this, but I suspect it's probably just that I love the portions of this series that deals with the Ever After.
Overall this will definitely have a strong appeal for fans of the series that have followed this to its eventual end. I have to admit a little disappointment because there were several things left undone, but it makes sense within the span of the series since the series was about Rachel's growth as a character and her eventual romance with Trent. It'd have been great to see her perform huge feats such as cleaning up the Ever After, giving all the vamps their souls back, and so on, but then that would have taken more volumes and probably wouldn't have rang as true to what this series has been like so far. (less)
I purchased this about the same time I purchased the prequel short story, The Girl from the Blood Coven. Like I said in the review for that one, read...moreI purchased this about the same time I purchased the prequel short story, The Girl from the Blood Coven. Like I said in the review for that one, read the short story first. It doesn't spoil anything for this book but it does ramp up the anticipation to discover what is going on in this house.
I have to say that while this wasn't a perfect book, it was an incredibly fun read. This is kind of the book equivalent of eating pixie sticks and popcorn while watching an old 70s or 80s horror movie. The one I kept comparing it to in my mind was Night of the Demons, but I'm sure that each reader will probably make their own comparison. (It does seem to channel more of a 70s horror vibe at times than 80s, though.)
What makes this work is that we get into the action fairly quickly and stay there for the course of the book. We have a little character development, but ultimately the main thrust of the book is that we have a bunch of people in a house where bad things happened. And still happen. And are happening right now in various bloody and disgusting ways. I have to admit that at times I wanted to have a little more of the house's inherent eeriness brought out, but I'm pleased with what I found here. It'd make one heck of a movie, that's for certain. There are some great visuals here that could work well in a visual format.
The ending didn't strike as strong as a chord with me as I wanted, but it was OK. I think that part of this was because the ending's resolution was part of a plot thread that hadn't been as well investigated as I wanted it to be. I think that this was partially due to the story's perspective switching between the characters, which worked well in some instances but not necessarily in showing all of Sarah's past. It didn't ruin the book for me obviously, but it just felt a little anticlimactic after everything that had happened so far. I still definitely recommend this to anyone interested in schlock horror, though.(less)