I don’t usually go in for dragon stories–I have a feeling these are going to be famous last words–but I’mThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I don’t usually go in for dragon stories–I have a feeling these are going to be famous last words–but I’m familiar with Shana Abe’s Drakon books. They–or, rather, Shana–have been recommended to me since I’m a fan of alpha heroes. So, when I heard that Shana Abe was going to write a young adult novel, I automatically added it to my TBR. I was particularly excited about it because I’ve had such a bad run with YA historicals and historical fantasies. I knew, from having read The Smoke Thief, that I could expect an enjoyable read.
What I did not expect was to love it. I got a third of the way through and I was already on the internet making sure it was going to be a series. Here, finally, was a novel that worked as a historical and a fantasy both, with a heroine who didn’t feel transported from the 21st Century United States. Specifically, an impoverished heroine who wasn’t about to risk her entire future by having a smart mouth, or by spouting radical opinions that hadn’t even been thought of in her era. More on this another time–Small and I have had numerous discussions about this.
I think that Lora was the first heroine that I’ve really like in a long time. She’s kinda classy. I liked that she knew when to stand up for herself and when to toe the line. I also love that, while there were two potential romantic leads, it becomes clear pretty early on, which boy is the object of Lora’s affections. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t rooting for the other guy…I totally am, and I still think there’s hope…but I liked that Lora wasn’t all, “I love him. NO! I love him.” She has a genuine connection with both of them, and I think all of the relationships in the novel will evolve naturally–just like in real life!
If I had one complaint–and it certainly wasn’t the gorgeous, detailed setting!–it was that I think Shana Abe presumed a little too much on her previous readership. Since it’s been so long since I read The Smoke Thief, I can’t really lay claim to any knowledge of the Drakon folklore, and I don’t count myself as a loyal follower. I had to double check that “Rue” was a character I’d met before (she’s the heroine of The Smoke Thief), and certain details scratched at my mind like I should have recalled them. Sadly, I didn’t. Instead of frustrating me, however, not knowing these details made me really excited about going back and reading Abe’s Drakon books. I’ve left them unfinished for far too long!
If you haven’t already read The Sweetest Dark, you should. It will satisfy you to the last page, even as it leaves you eager for more of its wonderfulness....more
Full disclosure: This is the second review I’ve done of this book. The first one got lost in the misThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Full disclosure: This is the second review I’ve done of this book. The first one got lost in the mists of the interwebs, never to be seen again. And while I might feel better after some wailing and raising of my fists to the sky, I shan’t subject you to any more than I already did on Twitter. The worst part is, I was really happy with the first review. I’ll try to recreate it, but you probably already know that feeling doesn’t usually come that second time.
To sum up my feelings about Escape Theory in a sentence: I adored it. As I look over the books that I’ve read in 2013 (so far), this has been my favorite. The best part? It lived up to my enormously high expectations. In retrospect, there wasn’t really any reason for me to have those high expectations. SoHo Teen is a new imprint, and this is Froley’s debut. I’ve no more read her short story in Who Done It than I’ve watched Privileged. Luckily, whatever smidgen of clairvoyance I possess proved to be right. This time.
I suppose it’s possible that Escape Theory was the right book at the right time but, honestly, I believe it was more than that. Froley’s writing was intense and engaging. She pulled me not just into the mystery, but into the Keaton School community. I felt I was inhabiting the world. So much so that it was with great surprise that I periodically realized the book was written in the third person. Escape Theory was the kind of story that was disorienting to disengage from. Pulling myself away was like trying to escape from a vat of saltwater taffy; a sticky, messy process that left a million small bits behind.
Escape Theory‘s strength comes from Froley’s writing, true, but it also reflected the connection I felt to the main character. Devon’s internal dialogue reminded me a lot of my teenage self, even down to the moments when I wanted to shake her and tell her to get off her high horse. I did think, however, that Froley’s expended so much energy on developing Devon (and the very much dead Hutch) that the other characters felt a little one-dimensional. Even this worked, though, because the book is told from Devon’s point of view, and she has a tendency to remain clinically detached. Or to try to, anyway. Hopefully the other characters will be expanded upon in further Keaton School novels. I also hope that future stories are also from Devon’s perspective.
If I’m honest, the main mystery didn’t interest me very much. What was far more fascinating was the exploration of boarding school life and the mystery of Hutch himself. Not how or why he died, but why he lived the way he did, and why he and Devon had such a strong connection based on one night spent together. Speaking of Hutch, he doesn’t stand up to my adult standards (he dealt drugs, but that’s okay because he regulated how much each person got), but I bet the teenage me would have been as in love with him as the rest of Keaton.
I think Escape Theory‘s greatest strength comes from Froley’s ability to inhabit the teenage world. I read a lot of YA, but I don’t read it looking for an authentic teenage voice. In fact, a lot of YA (Dystopians, in particular) features teens having to mature because of the circumstances, thereby making us forget how truly young sixteen is. Froley doesn’t let us forget it, and this is most evident in Devon’s role as a peer counselor. Training or no, Devon’s in over her head when she starts counseling the best friends that Hutch leaves behind. We know she’ll be a good therapist someday, just not yet.
I loved this book, flaws and all. Lack of romance and all (gasp!). I’ve already recommended it to my brother and I have no hesitation in recommending it to my readers as well. And when you’ve finished the last page, come back here to let me know your thoughts!...more
Being familiar with this series, it doesn’t surprise me that Gwen and Logan’s first date ends up so disasThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Being familiar with this series, it doesn’t surprise me that Gwen and Logan’s first date ends up so disastrously. What does bother me is that I started this book with high hopes. I really enjoyed the first book in the Mythos Academy series, but by book two, Gwen’s love interest, Logan, was beginning to lose his allure. Book three appeared to put things back on the right track–Gwen and Logan had finally got past their holding pattern and had made tentative (yet firm) steps toward each other. Which is why Crimson Frost came as something of a disappointment for me.
Of course, the Mythos Academy books are not just about Gwen and Logan. Their romance is a big part of the series’ storyline, but the larger arc is Gwen & Co.’s quest to defeat Loki and the Reapers. Since I prefer my romance with a healthy dose of plot, I appreciate that there’s more going on than Gwen and Logan’s will they/won’t they relationship. However. When an author makes moves to take the main couple out of their holding pattern only to return them to it in the next book, I call shenanigans.
Which is all to say that Crimson Frost is shenaniganolicious. There are a few revelations that get Gwen a little closer to defeating Loki, but mostly the book read as though it was written to separate her from Logan again. The whole book, honestly, felt like a step back for the series. It was a disappointing read. Not bad enough to keep me from reading the next installment, but frustrating enough that I’m grateful that I’ll have the time I need before Midnight Frost is released. Hopefully Estep will be ready to allow Gwen at least one small breakthrough. I’m counting on it....more
I loved the Gothic elements of this story and, of course, the boarding school setting. It was perfectly eerie and impossibly attractive all at the samI loved the Gothic elements of this story and, of course, the boarding school setting. It was perfectly eerie and impossibly attractive all at the same time--perfect for the genre. Gothic novels MUST have a thorough sense of place. It's part of the genre description. Acosta did a fantastic job of creating the classic Gothic setting without taking us out of the present day. I loved this book and I'm eager to try Acosta's adult novels--though I understand they're lighter in tone. One of the MCs from her adult books makes a cameo in Dark Companions and I'm definitely intrigued.
Other notes: While the main character, Jane, is often frustrating, I did like her. More often, I felt for her predicament. The situation she gets herself into is a direct result of her upbringing--of the failures of the foster care system. She's too broken to see the way that she's being manipulated and too powerless to change things.
Mary Violet, one of the friends she makes at her new school (Birch Grove Academy) is divine. We should all have a Mary Violet in our lives. Lucky is a total ass and Jack, while swoon-worthy, also a blind idiot. His parents...if he truly loved Jane, he'd never speak to them again. Their treatment and manipulation of her is unspeakable. One of the real accomplishments of this novel is that I didn't feel ambivalent about ANY of the characters. I couldn't--they're THAT well-defined....more
I first discovered the Mythos Academy series when I was doing research for an event I was hostinThis review was first posted at http://rubysreads.com.
I first discovered the Mythos Academy series when I was doing research for an event I was hosting (Private School Paranormals Week). PSP Week was the first event I ever planned and, therefore, this series holds a special place in my heart. That’s probably why I expect a lot from it. Well, that, and the fact that I loved the first installment, Luckily for me, book three brings back the elements I loved from Touch of Frost, and takes the action forward in a delightful way. One of my main concerns for this series was the will they/won’t they nature of Gwen and Logan’s relationship, in that there’s a fine line between slow-burn romance and contrivance. In book two, Estep edged over that line. In Dark Frost, she did it again. Just when I was about to groan and consign the couple to the land of Bones and Booth, Estep allowed the characters a chance to talk things out and agree to move forward rather than stagnate. I could’ve kissed her for that. World-building is also one of Jennifer Estep’s primary talents as a writer, and Dark Frost doesn’t disappoint on this front, either. I love the way she weaves the different mythologies, integrating them into character, plot, setting and backstory. Gwen continued to be the perfect conduit for us as we discovered more about her world. She learned with us, which meant that things get explained without a lot of clunky exposition. I have an unexplained affection for Valkyries, so I was particularly glad to learn more about Gwen’s best friend, Daphne, and her powers. Finally, though, while book three did advance everything in terms of the overarching plot of the series, the one specific to Dark Frost fell flat. The villain was easy to spot, and reminded me far too much of the baddies in the other books. I don’t know how many books Estep has planned for this series, but I hope she brings a fresh storyline into the Mythos Academy world soon. I definitely want to make it to the end of the series! ...more
Kiss of Frost is a solid follow-up to a series that is vivid, surprising and fascinating aThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Kiss of Frost is a solid follow-up to a series that is vivid, surprising and fascinating all at the same time. Unfortunately, because I began this book with high expectations, I was disappointed by its slow start. Jennifer Estep spends an inordinate amount of time reacquainting her readers with the Mythos world. I needed a little refresher--no question--but I was about to start skimming pages when the story finally picked up. Once it got started, Kiss of Frost was a fast and furious read after that. It hit the ground running and didn't stop. While this makes for an exciting book, it detracted from what I'll call the "Veronica Mars" element that I loved so much in book one. Gwen doesn't get to spend a great deal of time investigating because she's too busy being in danger and running for her life. Not to mention moping about Logan. Granted he's hot (oh so hot), and Gwen's a teenager, and these two factors combine to make the fact that he's dating someone else wickedly painful for her, but I wanted a little less moping and a little more of the self-confidence she exhibited in Touch of Frost. I did love the relationship between Gwen and Daphne. It's touching to see Gwen have a true best friend at last, and their relationship is portrayed with realism. Gwen and Daphne's friendship began about the same time as Daphne's relationship with Carson, a fact of which Gwen tries to be respectful--sometimes to her own detriment. Also, I think the two girls are still trying to figure out how to be best friends, and for Gwen especially, that's not going to be a smooth path. Back when I read Touch of Frost, I developed a major crush on Logan Quinn, but in this book, his allure waned a bit for me. This was, in part, due to two things. One, he plays a much smaller role in this book. He makes a number of onscreen, nonspeaking appearances, and Gwen thinks about him a great deal, but we don't get to see him, er, in action all that much. The other issue was Logan dating Savannah when he had feelings for Gwen. It was a crummy thing to do, and I liked him the less for it. Kind of like I'm really hoping it's only a rumor that he signs all the mattresses of the girls he's slept with. Because: ew. Finally, there was the mystery, which was the weakest element of Kiss of Frost. The mysteries weren't mysterious at all. (Though to be honest, I only guessed half of Oliver's secret.) In all, Kiss of Frost suffers from book two malady. It's a bridge to the next book, but doesn't stand well on its own. I'm looking forward to the next installment because I know what Jennifer Estep can do--and this wasn't it. 3 Points: I would have coffee with this book. ...more
This is a painful review for me to write. There are issues upon issues upon issues, so I'm just going to address them in bullet points:
Mary Jo Putne This is a painful review for me to write. There are issues upon issues upon issues, so I'm just going to address them in bullet points:
Mary Jo Putney, you can do so much better! I loved Thunder and Roses! In fact, the whole Fallen Angels quartet is Series Special-worthy! Is it your new audience? I feel like writing for teenagers has thrown you for a serious loop. Where's your strong characterization? Where's the compelling love story? Where's the authentic historical flavor? I want them all back! So...five teenagers from the Regency era are magically transported into the 1940s and have no problem with: Electricity Cars Revolvers Women wearing trousers and showing ankle I could not care less about Cynthia. I don't find spoiled characters interesting and, in fact, I avoid them. I'd much rather that the secondary storyline was about Elspeth, whose refusal to stop using magic and "reform" has the potential to be far more compelling. Instead, Elspeth is relegated to a cardboard cut-out with healing magic. Tory. She's simply too good to be true. She's self-sacrificing, brave, sweet, kind to Jewish people and children, long-suffering and just generally Mary Sueish. So, yeah, I'm not a fan. Allarde. Just...yawn. Now begins the real rant. While I don't pretend to be an expert on WWII, I do know that it was about more than the Nazis using the Jewish people as scapegoats. I also know that scapegoating Jews didn't occur in a German vacuum. In fact, Antisemitism was rampant in both Europe and the United States. The whole world needed someone to blame for the Depression, and the Jewish people were a convenient target. But. Antisemitism wasn't born in the 20th Century. It has a long history. And for Tory and the rest of her contemporaries (in particular, Cynthia) to show absolutely no trace of it? I don't buy it. ...more
I have so many issues with this book it's not even funny. I'm also really struggling with aThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I have so many issues with this book it's not even funny. I'm also really struggling with a way to start this review. It's not that I thought Frost was a bad book so much as I really, really disliked the narrator. The whole thing is meant to be an examination into psychosis as well as the supernatural, but I was completely distracted by the heroine and her many, many issues. The basic story is that Leena and her friends have scored Frost House for their senior year of high school. Leena has masterminded the whole arrangement; it's particularly important to her because, ever since her parents' divorce, school has been her home. Unfortunately, Leena's idyllic senior year is disrupted by the fact that she's going to have an unexpected roommate. Worse--one that she considers unstable. Moving in together doesn't improve the impression, and soon Leena's home situation is untenable--to say the least. And when bizarre stuff starts happening, Leena starts to think that Celeste isn't just unstable--she might just be psychotic. I never warmed to Leena, which was a problem because she narrated the story. There's an incident in the book that basically symbolizes my feelings for her, so I'll tell you about it: One of the bizarre things that happens in Frost House is that Celeste gets a burn on her back when the water coming out of the bathroom faucet turns boiling hot. Leena tends to Celeste's wound by applying antibiotic ointment and putting a bandage on it. Now, maybe it's because I just took a CPR/First Aid class for work, but this part really bothered me. You're not supposed to put anything on that kind of burn--just run cool water over it. This is one of many signs that Leena, while well-intentioned, is acting without important knowledge. The more I learned about her, the more amazed I became that anyone let her be a peer counselor. I think the readers are supposed to think this, but I don't think it was meant to keep readers from liking/relating to Leena. For me, it did. She came across as that girl who insists that she knows better than you, and that she's right and you're wrong. I wanted to hit her. While there was room in my stone-cold heart to feel for Leena--her parents are neglectful idiots, I fail to understand Dean Shepard's appeal, and her friends drop her cold despite three years of closeness--I mostly just wanted to tell her to stop trying to counsel people. You know the saying--therapy begins at home. Though I suppose fixing others is easier than fixing yourself. If this had been the message of the novel, I think I would have liked Leena more. And I would have been more understanding about her mental health issues. As it was, the end was kind of anti-climactic and the paranormal element took away from the more serious problems of Leena's self-prescribing, the fact that she tried to kill herself when she was thirteen and hasn't, apparently, seen a counselor since, and her isolation from her peers. I would also like to point out that I considered, at several times throughout the novel, that Leena was exhibiting classic warning signs for a depressed/suicidal teen. With her history, it flabbergasted me that no one ever expressed concern in that respect. I suppose it's possible that Leena's friends don't know her history, but I would expect Dean Shepard to. All in all, a flawed book. Too flawed for me to enjoy. ...more
I've avoided Holly Black because even though I've heard awesome things about her from authoThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I've avoided Holly Black because even though I've heard awesome things about her from authors I love (Cassandra Clare), most of the books she's written have been fairy-based, and I'm just not that into fairies. White Cat came out last year, so it's been on my radar for quite some time. Receiving Red Glove from Simon and Schuster for review gave me the prod I needed to give Cassel Sharpe a go. My time, however, is pulled in a thousand different directions these days, so I decided to go with the audio version, narrated by Jesse Eisenberg. I'll first say that I thought Jesse did a great job. His voice was the right age and timbre for Cassel, and he didn't do any breathy voices meant to indicate girls talking, as I've heard some male narrators attempt. Geh. It helped that the story is told in first person from Cassel's perspective. If a voice isn't feminine, I can pretend that he's relaying the conversation to me. That usually works. I don't read a lot of books written by guys, or with guys as the main characters. I think the last one I read was Going Bovine by Libba Bray. It's an interesting change of pace. I still think I prefer female protagonists, but I got really lucky with White Cat. Cassel--though he's a con artist at heart--is smart, funny and peculiarly vulnerable. I loved him anyway. I'm always a fan of smart heroes and a sense of humor gets through my defenses every time, but I don't usually like a vulnerable hero. I loved the way that Ms. Black played with the idea of an unreliable narrator. In Cassel's case, he doesn't even know that he's unreliable. We do, because Ms. Black is not stingy with the hints. The knowing makes the revelation all the more delicious. More than anything, though, is how heartbreaking the truth turns out to be. There's no shortage of angst in the Curse Workers universe. Things are certainly going to get worse for Cassel before they can get at all better. And this is my first book by this author, so I'm assuming--for sanity's sake--that things are going to get better for him. The end of White Cat certainly doesn't suggest one, but it's only the first book. Poor Cassel--who has been convinced that he killed his best friend, was dumped by his ex, and gets beaten by his brothers at the request of a mob boss--has a whole new set of issues to work with. If he doesn't get a happy ending, then I'll be giving Holly Black up as a lost cause. A quick note on the world building: I'm a big fan of modern-day universes where magic is universally known and accepted. I loved the way the wearing of gloves was woven into the characters' daily lives. I can't see doing everything--including eating french fries--while wearing them, but I very much enjoy the tension that just walks right into the room when someone is ungloved. Awesome. I did have a bit of a problem with all the complications of the different magical abilities, but I can't really go into that without spoiling. I'm on edge about starting Red Glove, especially since White Cat ended on such a negative note. I like to know if I'm going to be rewarded for my angst. I mean, Cassel doesn't have to get married and have 2.5 children--but it would be nice to know that things will work out for him. ...more
The Vampire Academy books are good, don't get me wrong, but they didn't hold my interest pasThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com
The Vampire Academy books are good, don't get me wrong, but they didn't hold my interest past the third book and even having read Bloodlines, I don't regret my decision not to finish the series. I was, however, very excited about this new, but related series because I thought that a new cast of characters would revive my interest in the world. I was, at first, intrigued by Sydney, the Alchemist forced to work with the Moroi she's been raised to despise. Sydney takes on the job so her younger sister won't have to--an oft used technique in teen fiction. Still, my interest was piqued and read happily until I hit page 81 of my ARC, where I came to a screeching halt. Here's why:
Watching me button a white blouse, Mrs. Delaney tsked, "I think you need a size two."
I froze mid-button. "I wear a size zero."
"Oh, yes, you can fit into them, but look at the arms and the skirt length. I think you'll be more comfortable in a two. Try these." She handed over a new stack, and then laughed. "Don't look so mortified, girl! A two's nothing. You're still a twig." She patted her ample stomach. "We could fit three of you into my clothes!"
Despite my many protests, I was still sent away with the size-two clothing. I rode back to my dorm, dejected, and found Jill lying on her bed and reading. She sat up at my arrival.
"Hey, I wondered what had happened to you."
"Got delayed," I said with a sigh. "Are you feeling better?"
"Yeah. A lot." Jill watched as I put away the uniforms. "They're pretty terrible, right? We didn't have uniforms at St. Vladimir's. It's going to be so boring wearing the same thing every day." I didn't want to tell her that as an Alchemist, I might have worn an outfit like this, anyway.
"What size did you get?" I asked, to change the subject. I was kind of a glutton for punishment.
A twinge of annoyance shot through me as I hung my uniforms in the closet beside hers. I felt huge by comparison. How were all those Moroi so skinny? Genetics? Low-carb blood diet? Maybe it was just because they were all so tall. All I knew was that whenever I spent time around them, I felt frumpy and awkward and wanted to eat less.
This (long--sorry) passage irked me on so many levels, the primary one being a heroine who had image issues because she has to wear a size two instead of a zero. I wouldn't have a problem with this if there was the sense that this was a larger issue. If, perhaps, Sydney wasn't worried about a matter of an inch difference in the waist, bust and hips (yes, I looked it up), her attitude would have made more sense. What I'm trying to say, is, if Richelle Mead is trying to make a point about the pressures that women face regarding their weight, she went the wrong way about it. Creating a main character who wishes she were a size zero instead of a size two makes me want to hurl the book against the wall. It makes me want to demand to know how a size--gasp!--four is supposed to feel. The fact that Sydney is so distressed by it that she begins dieting rang the death knell for the character. My overall opinion of Sydney was colored by this facet of her personality. At least, after it was introduced (and maintained), I kept finding more and more things to irritate me about her. She hangs on to her vampire prejudices until they start to resemble bigotry, her ignorance of male/female interactions isn't "sweet" or "innocent"--it just makes her look stupid, and her long suffering, self-sacrificial air is frankly over the top. She's a character of very little empathy and I think it's too bad the books will all be told from her perspective. Sydney's potential love interest is Adrian. Adrian, who had his heart broken in the first series, has been dragged to Palm Springs to help out with the Jill Dragomir watch. All he does is loaf around and indulge in self-pity. As much as I liked him in the Vampire Academy books--Bloodlines did away with all my affection. Originally, I was pleased to learn that this series would tell his story--now I'm wondering how I'm going to make it through the next book. The characters that I liked best got the least screen time. I like Eddie, and I think Jill's okay, though she's awfully young still, and it shows. Irritatingly, I smell at least two love triangles in the offing, and that just feels like cheating to me. It's an easy way to throw a wrench in the romantic element and I'm tired of it. All in all, I was unimpressed by Bloodlines. Which is why I put it on my Saturday Swap list, I suppose. I realized, in rereading this review, that I put in very little about the plot. I guess you could say that that's how much it affected me, though I do have to say: Sydney's decision to keep quiet about her sister's rape was, frankly, the wrong one. If she'd encouraged her sister to tell, she wouldn't have had to worry that Keith would also rape her younger sister. I also worked out the mystery fairly early on, which never bodes well for my opinion of the MC. I've no doubt that my opinion is going to be in minority regarding this book and maybe I'm wrong. So, let me just say it had flaws that I, at least, couldn't overlook. ...more
Warning: This review is a bit spoilery. Not for the end, but for certain facts which are notThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Warning: This review is a bit spoilery. Not for the end, but for certain facts which are not known at the beginning of the novel, but are learned shortly thereafter.
Okay, confession time: There are two things that can clinch a book purchase for me: when there's a character named Ruby and when the heroine is 5'2". I tend to take these facts as signs that I'm meant to read the book I hold in my hands. Of course, characters named Ruby don't necessarily meet good ends. Take the Ruby in the Anne books. First she's a silly flirt and then she dies of consumption when she's, like, 19. Still, the Anne books are worth Ruby's death, IMHO. Since you can tell from the description that the heroine's name is not Ruby, you might have already guessed that she is a fabulous 5'2" I was sort of casually reading this book before I reached the physical description page. After that, I kept wanting to get back to it. The only problem is that the Kindle button is still absent from NetGalley and I had to read it on my computer, at home. I couldn't pick it up whenever I had a free moment. You'd be surprised how much reading you can get done during various pockets of time during the day. At any rate, I liked Willow, the heroine. I was excited by her interest in mechanics--though it's not something I share. I like heroines that have talents in stereotypically masculine areas. Willow's also something of an outsider in her town, but it doesn't bother her. She knows she's different and she's fine with it. She lives with her pack rat of an aunt and a mother that's basically catatonic. All of that changes when, one day she's approached by a fellow student who wants her to do a "reading". Willow, in addition to her talents with automobiles, is psychic. It's a talent that she uses to help people, and when she discovers that her classmate's fate is intertwined with a mysterious, malevolent figure, she doesn't hesitate to warn her. Willow's warning, however, sets off a string of events that put her life in danger. Willow's perspective of the story is told in the first person. Her narrative is broken by Alex's third person narrative. I'm not certain why Weatherly decided to do this, since it means that we don't get to know Alex as intimately as Willow. This story is both of theirs, and it's also the story of their romance. It's a classic star-crossed lovers situation. Alex is an angel killer. Willow is part angel. Despite an initial animosity between these two, they quickly fall in love. I found myself wondering why Weatherly forced their relationship forward at the speed she did. Especially given the fact that this is a trilogy. Willow and Alex have a time in which to develop their relationship--and as someone who enjoys a good slow-burn romance, I think it's too bad she didn't. I enjoyed this book. The writing is a bit clunky at times, especially during Jonah's parts. Willow and Alex get over their differences in a realistic way--they talk about stuff. But, while it's realistic, it's not particularly exciting. I like the idea of a twist on the usual idealized angel concept, and I'm interested in seeing how the rest of the story plays out....more
It's unlikely that I will ever hate a Nalini Singh book. My love of the Psy-Changeling bookThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
It's unlikely that I will ever hate a Nalini Singh book. My love of the Psy-Changeling books will carry me through any less than satisfactory tale she might tell. I don't mean to imply that Archangel's Blade wasn't a good book--it was. It entirely revived my interest in the Guild Hunter books, which have always taken a back seat to her other series. For me, anyway. In the first three Guild Hunter books, Raphael and Elena were center stage. But Raphael's right hand, Dmitri made appearances in all three books. He was the slightly malevolent but essentially good character you go all dreamy over because he's "the bad boy". And goodness knows we love a bad boy. Dmitri also houses another male cliche--he's that guy with the tortured past. Between these two characteristics, he's had a legion of (female) admirers since we first met him in Archangel's Blood. In the first three Guild Hunter books--and, indeed, in this one--Dmitri comes off as a cold-hearted you-know-what. Archangel's Blade being his book, we get the opportunity to delve into his psyche, and to learn what events are responsible for him having so thoroughly closed off his human side. The truths that are revealed are so devastating you begin to think of him as well-adjusted. Archangel's Blade also tells the story of a Guild Hunter named Honor. On the surface, this vampire and this hunter have very little in common--except, of course, a mutual attraction. Furthermore, Honor was abducted and tortured by some vampires not so long ago, and so she's understandably wary around Dmitri. He may be good-looking, but he has a reputation for mixing pain and pleasure and Honor, scarred as she is, wants no part of it. In typical Nalini Singh-hero-fashion, Dmitri doesn't see this as an obstacle and commences pursuit. What evolves between these two is more than either of them bargained for, and because this is a Nalini Singh book--that's a wonderful thing. While I enjoyed my reading of this novel, I guessed the twist fairly early on in my reading. Which would have been fine, except that the hints felt clumsy instead of like admirable foreshadowing. And then, when all the details came to light, I wanted a better ending for these two. Spoiler:(view spoiler)[Specifically, I was upset that they won't be able to have children, after what they had lost. (hide spoiler)] I also got really worked up over the fact that (view spoiler)[Honor had to go through rape and torture twice! (hide spoiler)] In the end, though I whizzed through Archangel's Blade, the love story didn't completely satisfy me. I did enjoy seeing Raphael and Elena from another perspective. I'm also greatly looking forward to Venom and Poison's book--I'm going out on a limb here, but I think they're meant for each other. I know I'm going to have to wait for it, but hey--I've learned that with Nalini Singh, the waiting is definitely worth it. ...more
This review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I am very excited to present my first review as part of a Dark Faerie Tales ARCThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I am very excited to present my first review as part of a Dark Faerie Tales ARC Tour. I was the first up for reading Fallen Angel and I admit that my squeeing was probably pretty loud when it was delivered. I felt so official, being part of a tour. It s like being able to sit at the grown-ups table. Or something. Okay, on with the review.[return][return]The last angel book I read was one I loved. Remember Unearthly? Great book, lovely story. Terrell is another author having a go at the newest act in town. The first issue I d like to address is the title. It s basically a spoiler in itself. Ellie, the heroine, and Michael, her hero, spend a great deal of the novel thinking they might be vampires. More on why later. But from the title, we know they re not. Therefore, the suspense isn t there for the readers. We know before we get to the first page what kind of supernatural being Ellie is going to be. So, all the time devoted to question of are they vampires or aren t they? seems unnecessary. I have read novels where the reader knows more than the characters in the story and this has made the story even juicier, but this was not the case in Fallen Angel. I ve been contemplating why this is so, and I thinks it s because the novels that pull off the readers know more trick are often holding back something even more delicious. Not so Fallen Angel. The ultimate reveal in the book isn t particularly exciting or enthralling. In fact, I was kind of disappointed because it fell so much in line with what I d predicted.[return][return]I mentioned Ellie and Michael, the hero and heroine, and they are the center of the book. It opens with Ellie starting a new year of school and on that fateful day, she meets Michael. Their relationship does not start well, as Michael claims to know Ellie from a summer both of them spent in Guatemala. Ellie doesn t remember meeting Michael before and suspects that he is playing a joke on her. Soon, though, Ellie and Michael can t deny their attraction to each other and they re spending all their time together. Ellie and Michael s connection comes from the fact that they share supernatural abilities: both can fly and both get flashes of memory from people through touch. They can also get memories from the sharing of blood, which they do every time they kiss. Ellie and Michael s relationship wavers all over the proverbial street. Sometimes it s regular high school stuff, like going to a school dance. At other times, it s gross kissing with the exchange of blood. Oh, and lots of flying. By and large, unfortunately, it wasn t a relationship that really did much for me. I found myself hoping that Michael would have competition in the bad guy, but he turned out to be just as uninteresting.[return][return]I also have to admit I was pretty squigged out by all the blood exchanging. Especially when Ellie licks someone s blood from a tissue. I understand why she did it: for the information. But, still, gross. I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. At any rate, however, you can see why Ellie and Michael begin to think they might be vampires. The truth, of course, is far more complicated. Ellie and Michael are something far different from vampires. They re& well, I can t give everything away, now can I?[return][return]Fallen Angel is the first book in a series. And like all first books, it has unanswered questions. That s part of what draws people back for the next book. Unfortunately, a lot of my questions were like these:[return]Things I Wondered About That Distracted Me From the Story:[return][return] 1. Why did Ellie not wonder how she was going to get to London without having a passport or the fact that she was underage?[return] 2. Why don t Ellie and Michael ever consider the possibility of contracting blood-born diseases when they contemplate tasting other peoples blood?[return] 3. Why did Ellie never reflect/comment on the fact that she shared the same last name of Fanueil Hall, even when she was near it while she was in Boston?[return] 4. Why does Ellie never ask Michael about their first meeting in Guatemala?[return] 5. Why is Ruth friends with Ellie?[return][return]Ellie does stuff that is meant to illustrate her goodness. The most outlandish example of this is too spoilery for me to write about here. But it baffled me. I can t help but think it was the worst way possible for her to handle the situation. It didn t really accomplish anything, except to make Ellie more isolated. It didn t fix the problem or make things right. It was meant to be selfless, but I thought it was kind of stupid.[return][return]When I closed the last page on this book, I was dissatisfied. I was so frustrated by endless nitpicky questions that I was unable to enjoy reading the book. Also, I felt like too few questions were answered for me to make sense of the story. Writers of series books walk a fine line with each installment in a series. They have to leave readers suitably satisfied with each installment, but still craving the next. It was like Terrell was trying so hard to keep her readers guessing that she ended up leaving them completely in the dark. If I read the next book in the series, I hope Terrell will provide some illumination. Also, I think she could benefit from joining a writers group, one that can pose questions like the ones I listed above. That kind of support is invaluable....more
Originally posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return]I bought this book because I saw its beautiful cover one night when I was searching Amazon fOriginally posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return]I bought this book because I saw its beautiful cover one night when I was searching Amazon for books I might like to read. Then I read the description and I thought, Score! Romance, snobby private schools and me. It s a menage-a-trois made in heaven.[return]Sadly, this is one book that does not live up to its cover. It started out okay. The narrator, Renee, was likable enough. But the book s description pretty much gives away the plot. In fact, it pretty much tells the first third of the book. Could ve saved myself a hundred or so pages worth of reading and I d've been spared the winy, complainy, selfish mess that Renee disintegrates into.[return]At the beginning of the book, Renee has it all. She has a best friend, loving parents and a possible boyfriend. All of this changes when her parents die. Admittedly, a sad, sad event, but I never really felt that Renee s grief was real. I didn t share in her angst. It was more like she had broken up with them than that they had died.[return]Anyway, after her parents deaths, Renee s grandfather shows up as her guardian. Renee doesn t know her grandfather well because he has been estranged from her parents for a number of years. It s at this point that Renee begins her transformation from potentially enjoyable character to obnoxious teenager. She sulks and shouts and nobody understands her. Some of this I get. If both of my parents died at the same time, I d probably act like a brat even if it happened today. But Renee s brattiness doesn t read like it comes from the deep well of grief and unhappiness that you would expect. She s just, well, a brat.[return]And she only gets worse. On the top of my list of Obnoxious Things Renee Does is that she purposely does poorly in Latin so that the Cute Boy of the story (Dante) will have to continue tutoring her. Blech. That still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, yes, we ve all done something embarrassing in the hope of getting a guy s attention. But risking your GPA crosses a line into no self-respect. Or maybe that s just me.[return]So, I didn t like Renee. What about the other characters? Renee s best friend, Annie, her almost boyfriend, Wes, and her grandfather, who feature so prominently in the first part of the story? Well, they fade into the background. To be fair, Grandpa does make a reappearance later in the novel for some important exposition. But he s sort of like the hair tie you keep in the bottom of your gym bag: You only pull it out if you have no other options. However. With Annie, Wes and Grandpa out of the way, that leaves the field free for some new characters: roommate Eleanor, geeky boy Nathaniel, and hot, mysterious boy-with-a-secret, Dante. Eleanor and Renee become good friends and joint conspiracy theorists. Nathaniel is merely a prop and never becomes much more than the geeky boy who serves as a nonthreatening male friend who is also a naysayer.[return]With Eleanor and Nathaniel out of the way, you ll have guessed who the most important new character is. If you haven t wait, seriously, you haven t? Well, it s Dante. The introduction of Dante into Dead Beautiful is basically this novel s downfall. Dante has some suspiciously familiar character traits. He s a loner. He s really, really beautiful. He doesn t talk to anyone except the heroine. When Dante and Renee are partnered in their Crude Sciences lab, I nearly guffawed. That was before the two touched and Dante has an over-the-top negative reaction and stops speaking to Renee for several days. By the time Renee reflected on how cold Dante s skin is and his remarkable ability to heal instantaneously, I was grimacing in disbelief.[return]Is any of this sounding familiar? Please tell me you re following my train of thought.[return]If you haven t caught on yet, maybe you re one of the two people left in America who hasn t read Twilight. Or seen the movie. I don t know if the similarities between Dead Beautiful and Twilight are intentional or if the author meant her book as an homage, or the publisher thought that a story so similar but with just enough differences would appeal to the audience that spawned a nation-wide teenage obsession. I don t really care. I m just disappointed I fell for it. I mean, I didn t even like Twilight that much the first time.[return]Let me quickly address the plot. It was predictable. I guessed what Dante s secret was by process of elimination. I knew he wasn t a vampire so my options were pretty limited. There are also plenty of hints. I confess I didn t know all of the details and you probably won t unless you read a lot of French philosophy.[return]As for all the deaths, yeah, I figured out what happened there too. I hope you re not reading this as a brag, because it s not. I d rather be kept guessing until the last page. That s part of the fun of reading a mystery. That doesn t mean I don t crow when I guess right but where s the fun in knowing too easily? The best right guess is the one you were never 100% certain of.[return]I don t think I ve ever said this, but this is one cover that deserved a better book....more
I first saw this book a few weekends ago, featured on a shelf of new Teen books. It caughtThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I first saw this book a few weekends ago, featured on a shelf of new Teen books. It caught my eye because of its flashy cover. My high school English teacher told me that red was the color that catches the eye the most and that publishers use this knowledge when designing book covers. Well, I guess he was right. The Eternal Ones has a red cover and I bought that. Now I'm also the proud owner of Delcroix Academy. Those publishers must have been polling an audience of one: me.
But before I get ahead of myself, here's the blurb:
Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just...happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, belieiving this way she can supress her powers and keep them hidden.
But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses--not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.
And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her "gift" than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it...But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.
The only reason I did not pick up this book immediately was because it was in hardcover and I have to keep myself to a limit of two hardcovers per week. Otherwise they add up to an empty pocket book. This isn't a hard and fast rule. I've been known to break it. I'm weak when it comes to books. But I was able to resist that first weekend because I have a blog now. It's like becoming a parent. (Not really.) I have responsibilities now. Reading responsibilities. I knew that I wouldn't have time to read one more book that first week--and how right was I? I'm still making up for the post blog-inauguration (bloguration?) shopping spree I went on. Well, any excuse will do when talking about book splurges.
Okay, okay, time to get down to the review:
Ahem. Delcroix Academy takes place in the small town of Danville, somewhere not too far from Seattle, Washington. Right away, there's a bonus point for this book. It doesn't take place in New York City! I love NYC. I've been there multiple times. But it would be nice if more people wrote about other places in the world, let alone the United States. Unfortunately, most of the action of Delcroix takes place inside the academy's walls. We don't learn much about Danville--or Seattle, for that matter. This novel is both a mystery and a paranormal. The narrator is Dancia Lewis, a fifteen year old girl who is average in all things--except her telekinetic ability. Since Dancia was fairly young, she has tried to hide by making herself as unnoticeable as possible. All her careful scheming turns out to have failed because someone has noticed her--the recruiter for the prestigious Delcroix Academy. Delcroix is that school where all the rich, smart people go. You have to be asked to attend and once you get in, its like being in a clique. You're set for life. You've got connections.
So Dancia, having worked so hard at being average, is immediately suspicious. Why would such an elite academy be recruiting someone like her? Dancia's never let on that she's telekinetic. In fact, she's tried to suppress the ability and ignore it when she can't. But Delcroix--and the hot guy who comes along to encourage Dancia to say yes to the recruiter--proves too tempting. Before Dancia knows it, she's moving into the dorm and making friends. For the first time in her life, she doesn't push people away.
The problem is that Dancia has been playing the role of the average teenage girl for so long that she's sold herself on the story. She doesn't really know what she's doing at Delcroix. Everyone seems to have a niche except her. Which, of course, makes her worry that someone at Delcroix Academy somehow found out about the only thing that is special about her. That thing she's tried so hard to keep secret--her telekinesis. Her suspicions are made worse by the second boy she meets--Jack. Jack is another poor, not especially talented student just like Dancia. And he seems to have a special ability of his own. Jack and Dancia become friends because they share a connection, they understand each other in a way that Dancia's never experienced before. But all this is confused with Dancia's feelings for the boy she met first--Cam. Then there's the fact that Cam keeps warning Dancia away from Jack. It's all very confusing for a fifteen year old girl.
I never really trusted Dancia as a narrator. She was naive and a little too into self-deception. I also didn't like the way she began to avoid Jack because she didn't want Cam to see them together. Dancia basically treats Jack like crap throughout most of the novel. Furthermore, we are repeatedly told that she and Jack "get" each other and that Jack makes her laugh and he's really an important part of her life. But that's all-we're told these things and never shown them. The only interactions Scott records between the two of them are the ones that paint a shady picture of Jack's past or as the "bad boy" in the inevitable love triangle. The same thing happens between Dancia and Cam--the development of their friendship happens off screen. All the talking and connecting they do in our presence has relevance to the plot. Which is great, but boring. I don't really feel like I know anything about any of the characters. I mean, Jack's the bad boy and he's been in a gang and he's lived on the streets. But what else? Where's his depth? Does he like or dislike anything? What about Cam? I think he's athletic, but I'm not 100% sure. And what about Dancia? Well, she's as drab and boring as she's spent so much time pretending to be. I have an idea about what she looks like, but she doesn't have any of the quirks or special interests that make a character interesting. These are one-dimensional characters. The good news is, this is the first book in the series. The bad news is: this is the first book in the series.
As for the plot, I pretty much had it figured out from the beginning. I knew who was good and who was "bad" and what the "big secret" was. Do you like it when I use so many quotation marks? Good. I guess you could say this book kind of bored me. Even Dancia's internal struggle--how to deal with the responsibility of having so much power--was predictable. My hope is, however, that this is only the prologue for the series. Scott has plenty to work with here. Maybe it was her publisher's idea to break it all down into tiny bits. I just wish they'd printed it in paperback. ...more