I'm usually a sucker for "she was right under my nose the whole time" romances, but this waThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I'm usually a sucker for "she was right under my nose the whole time" romances, but this was one that did not work for me. I was pretty excited about it when I picked it up, but the disappointments kept on coming. First I discovered Big Bad Wolf wasn't the first in The Others Series. Then I discovered that it wasn't the swoony werewolf romance I was hoping for. It started out pretty bad and kept getting worse.
In the beginning, we meet the hero, Graham at a party. He's that romance standard--the playboy. As the novel opens, he's in a funk because he's been celibate for thirteen days. Although I'm not sure thirteen days qualifies for the word. Anyway, Graham's really bummed that his "different woman every night" philosophy hasn't been as appealing to him as it formerly had been. In fact, as his "beta" (his second in command) points out, there aren't many women at the party he hasn't already slept with. Charming, right?
While Graham and his beta (Logan) are discussing the few women present that Graham hasn't despoiled, the heroine shows up at the party. It's her turn to be "fixed". By which I mean that her friends have been setting her up on excruciating blind dates. Only they're not dates so much as assignations. That night's fix involves conservative Missy dressing up in a skanky, uncomfortable dress and high heels. Thus arrayed, Missy finally gets the attention of the one man she's been drooling after for six months. Only he's not a man, he's a Lupine (werewolf) who is known for his promiscuity and his "I don't date humans" attitude. One look at Missy's scantily clad behind, however, and all of Graham's objections to dating humans disappear. Graham literally carries Missy away from the party and into his lair (er, home).
I think that that all this was supposed to be romantic, but I should tell you that, although Missy and Graham have known each other for six months, Graham does not recognize Missy. At least, not until after they've slept together. Which brings me to another point: what self-respecting woman would sleep with a man who doesn't recognize her after six months of acquaintance? Oh, wait, dumb question. A major factor in this novel is Missy's low self-esteem. One thing that made me hate this book was that it was never resolved. Missy had some bad experiences in college, which lead her to hide herself behind the frumpy personality of a kindergarten teacher. Okay, it's time for me to take a deep breath. And write a HUGE aside.
I am a teacher. I don't teach kindergarten, but I work with kindergarten teachers and as part of my training, I worked in a kindergarten classroom. Warren's characterization of Missy as a stereotypical kindergarten teacher infuriated me. First of all, teaching kindergarten is NOT all about teaching five-year-olds to tie their shoes. It's an insult to kindergarten teachers--and how hard they work--to suggest that it is. Teachers work very, very hard. Working with five year olds is especially difficult and it takes a very special kind of person to do it well. It's not all fun, games and singing songs. And despite the short classroom hours, it's not a nine-to-five job. I don't know any teachers who don't take their work home with them in some way or another. The second thing I take issue with is the image of a frumpy kindergarten teacher. It's true that some teachers dress as though they are still stuck in the 1950s. But there's a lot of difference between dressing appropriately for working with five year olds and dressing in burlap sacks. I don't mind that Missy is a frumpy dresser. It makes sense given her history and her low self-esteem, but for god's sake, there was no reason to correlate it with her profession.
Okay, sorry. I had to get that off my chest. On to more book-related issues. Like, for example, Graham was a total jackwagon. He's the worst kind of alpha hero. He makes all the decisions, he lies to Missy, and conceals important information from her, he's controlling, he isolates her, he makes her participate in a disgusting, archaic tradition. He was a thoroughly repulsive hero. Here's one small thing that set me off: As a Lupine, Graham's body temperature runs warm. This means that he doesn't need things like comforters or blankets on his bed. Missy is a human. Most of the time she's in Graham's bed (I bed your pardon, when she's in bed and they're not, er, otherwise occupied), Missy is naked and cold. At no time does Graham try to make her more comfortable by turning up the heat. All he does is throw her one scratchy, inadequate blanket. Ah, God, that pissed me off.
But, wait, that's the not the worst of Graham's actions. He makes a decision in the novel that is indefensible. This part is spoilery, so beware: Graham has sex with Missy knowing that she will get pregnant. He does this without consulting her or even telling her after the fact. Warren tries to justify this by telling us that Missy desperately wants children. But that's not the point. If Missy's willing to take the risk, great. They can make that decision together. But Graham doesn't give Missy a choice. He makes it for her. And, in case you were wondering, yes, part of his motivation is that a baby will keep her by his side. Then, to compound matters, Graham brags about Missy's pregnancy to his archenemy in front of her. Missy takes Graham to task for this--but has already forgotten the whole "I slept with you knowing it would result in a baby. Sorry I told my archenemy before telling you" thing. Gah.
I don't even want to talk about the matehunt thing. If you read it, you'll see.
Missy, though, needs to be addressed. In the beginning of the novel, we learn that Missy has been hiding herself since a bad experience in college. We're never told what the bad experience was, though there are hints. Basically, whatever happened left Missy with some seriously low self-esteem. I think I mentioned that she sleeps with Graham while knowing that he doesn't recognize her? Yeah. That basically sets the tone for their relationship. It kind of seems like Missy's so amazed and grateful that Graham wants her--like, for life--that she's willing to put up with anything. He's sexy, he's hot, he's a scumbag--but he's all hers! Puh-leeze! Grow a spine already.
I also need to mention the pathetic excuses that Missy has for friends. None of them makes a single on-screen appearance. This may be because Graham is an abusive, controlling boyfriend. Or it may be because they're sucky friends. I mean, who wants to be friends with someone who makes you wear clothes you'd rather be caught dead in and setting you up for assignations you didn't want in the first place. I mean, dates are one thing--but Missy's fixes are meant to be more than that, if you know what I mean. Anyway, once Missy and Graham get together (which happens almost right away), Missy's friends pretty much disappear. That was okay with me--I didn't want to see any more of them anyway.
I feel like I could go on and on but I have to stop. I wish this book had been so bad it was good, but it was just bad. I won't be giving the other books in The Others series a try. At least, not if they're anything like this one....more
I don’t know about you, but I’m a total Anglophile. I mean, I’m not ready to start drinking my bThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a total Anglophile. I mean, I’m not ready to start drinking my beer at room-temperature or anything, but a reference to Mother England on a dust-jacket always earns a second look from me. You could write a book about fluffy bunny zombies–which, let’s face it, is no one’s favorite genre–but if the backcover blurb mentions how the Fluffy Bunny Zombies invade the Houses of Parliament, I won’t immediately reject it. Shallow? Perhaps, but be honest–who here doesn’t have a back cover blurb weakness? Didn’t think so.
Almost everything about this book–from the moody cover to the blurb with the right keywords–made it seem that it would be a hit with me. (The author’s name being the exception.) Too bad I was entirely mistaken. The Last Princess is one of those books that you have to read alone so others won’t see the faces you make. Or maybe my WTF? face is particularly ugly. Either way, I can’t recommend this one, and here’s why.
The Last Princess hops from one horrible event to the next. I don’t mean that it has nonstop action–I mean, literally, no one has worse luck than Princess Eliza. She just goes from one bad situation to another. The result is eye-rolling. It makes sense that, as a princess, Eliza would have little real-world experience, but it doesn’t mean that she needs to lack intelligence as well. Also, the constant stream of life-threatening events did nothing to heighten the tension of the novel. It lessened it. Despite the fact that Eliza is placed in numerous life-threatening situations, I never once feared for her life. I don’t think my blood pressure spiked at all.
There’s also the pace of the novel. The Last Princess clocks in at 295 pages–but those are large-print, widely-spaced pages. A lot happens…but a lot also doesn’t. Namely, characterization, setting, emotional resonance and world-building. Because of this book, I’ve decided that England would be an awesome setting for a post-apocalyptic novel. I mean–think about it! It’s an island! Think of the complete isolation, the hardship that would result if it was disconnected from the rest of the world! INSTANT CONFLICT. It’s just that The Lost Princess didn’t have the juice to pull it off. Thus–interesting concept, poor execution.
Pacing aside, the thing that killed this novel for me was the one-dimensional characters. They were wooden. Again, full of potential, but poorly realized. Part of the problem is the length. I don’t know if I’ve actually said this before, but The Lost Princess should have been longer. It needed more substance. I don’t know if more words would’ve have entirely fixed the problem, but I don’t think it would have hurt, either....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
Review first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I got this book from NetGalley and so I was able to read it for free, so I am determinedReview first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I got this book from NetGalley and so I was able to read it for free, so I am determined not to complain too much. Steampunk Romance is a subgenre I am happy to get behind, so I jumped at this title when I found it on NetGalley. I hadn t heard a peep about it on the blogosphere and had no idea what to expect. One thing I found was that Like Clockwork is more novella than book. I read it on my spanking new Kindle so I can t tell you the page count. Suffice to say, it s very short.[return][return]Like Clockwork tells the story of Victoria Waters, lady scientist. Victoria was raised to her father s son and daughter, all at once. This means that she was able to become a successful scientist in a time when ladies were expected to be mothers and wives. It s a common theme in Victorian fiction, so you can t be surprised. Victoria s role in a group of scientists that made automatons in order to replace workers in dangerous jobs (i.e., mining) has resulted in a great deal of job loss and poverty for the poor. More directly, it leads her to be kidnapped by a man who is fighting for the rights of the underclass, a man named Dash.[return][return]Dash s kidnapping of Victoria doesn t turn out the way he planned. Unexpectedly, he finds that Victoria is willing to support his cause. In fact, she had planned on speaking to a committee about the very issue of worker s rights when he kidnapped her. Now, I don t particularly have a problem with kidnap plotlines, but it doesn t work in a novella. Victoria is never afraid of the man who chloroformed her and brought her to a bizarre underground world in order to further his cause. She is almost immediately attracted to Dash, and he to her. The swiftness with which both characters succumb to lust had me rolling my eyes. Especially since Victoria was supposed to be at once sheltered and a well-educated scientist.[return][return]Dee also fails to capture the flavor of Victorian London. Victoria, for example, never wears gloves. For some reason this really, really bothered me. It stuck out like a red flag. Sure, the characters ride in carriages and Victoria wears her hair in intricate hairstyles and wears fancy dresses, but everything else was lip service. The social mores of the time? Mentioned, but quickly forgotten. The idea of an upper class woman marrying a man who started life as a thief? Quickly resolved and really not much of an obstacle in the end.The short length of the novel means that everything happens too fast, in particular the resolutions. They came too easy for this reader to enjoy.[return][return]The worst offense this novel perpetrated was the ending. It skips ahead five months. Victoria and Dash have their happily ever after and hop into bed together. We miss out on their first time together. After all the tension that was built up in the first part of the book, the next time we see them is after months of marriage. It was kind of like Dee wanted to skip the Victoria s first time scene. In the epilogue, Dash has had an opportunity to teach Victoria all about the delights of the bedchamber. I felt both cheated and bored.[return][return]I didn t hate this novel. It didn t offend me in any way. The writing wasn t great, by far the worst thing the author did was make it so short. On the other hand, it was an ambitious story, and the author wasn t able to pull it off what she did write, so length might not be the answer. I ll have to look for my Steampunk Romance somewhere else....more
Okay, first of all, they weren't kidding about the explicit sex. I decided to give this bookThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Okay, first of all, they weren't kidding about the explicit sex. I decided to give this book a go despite the fact that I tend to like my heat rating closer to warm than so-hot-I'm-blushing. After all, it's been on more shifter book lists than I can count. But it was also (no surprise) on the list of books for wallflower heroines. It doesn't really apply, in my opinion, as the heroine was formerly a wallflower but is no longer at the start of the book. The Wallflower moves at a mad pace. It's not a long read. I was disappointed to find that the last 30% of the book was excerpts from other Samhain Publishing books. Actually, the first excerpt was from The Wallflower. Which is one of my biggest pet peeves ever. I wish publishers would take a little time to think that one through. I'm really curious to know how much extra work it would take to leave out an excerpt of a book at the back of the book itself. Or is it just laziness. Somehow, I think it's the latter. Okay, right: The Wallflower moves at a mad pace. Events happen in a slam-bam thank you ma'am sort of way. And yes, I meant that double entendre. Max no sooner hears Emma's voice over the phone than he's meeting her in person than he's realizing she's his mate, turning her into a puma, taking her to bed and teaching her to be a wanton woman. There's hardly time for anyone to take a breath and, in all the mad rushing, important elements are left behind. Like plot and characterization. Max and Emma end the story where they began it. The only difference is that, by the last page, they're together. Bell rushes Max and Emma into the bedroom pretty fast, but then it's revealed that Emma's a virgin. So, she's waited 25 years to have sex only to give it up without a second thought? That's...unusual. Why did Emma have to be a virgin in the first place? I don't mind virgin heroines, when they work for a story, but they mystify me when they don't. Especially novels with a great deal of erotic content. It's unlikely that a woman who has waited so long to go all the way will, after her first sexual encounter, suddenly be an expert in the bedroom. The other thing that happens ultra-fast is the Emma's discovery of Max's werecat (Puma) nature. She accepts it with a minimum of disbelief. Also, we don't ever learn much about what it means to become a Puma, but all it seems to involve is eyes turning gold occasionally, the ability to shapeshift and an adherence to pack hierarchy. That's very much in evidence. Max also decides to make Emma a Puma without even telling her what he is. I didn't like that. At all. My main feeling when I finished this book was that there wasn't enough substance to make it work. This is partly due to the length, but not entirely. Other authors have put a wealth of meaning into fewer words. I don't think I'll be buying the rest of the Halle Puma books, but I'd put free copies on TBR list. And, yes, that was a hint...more
First posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return]The first thing I noticed about Matched was that the narrative style reminded me of Carrie Jones'First posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return]The first thing I noticed about Matched was that the narrative style reminded me of Carrie Jones' Need (and its sequel, Captivate). It's told in the first person by Cassia Reyes, a seventeen-year-old girl living in a futuristic, Dystopian world. The novel opens on the night of Cassia's Match Banquet. Being "Matched" means obtaining a husband or wife chosen by the Society. The Society is a big brother-type group made up of Officers and Officials. Their main job seems to be collecting data on their citizens--and then using that data to predict how each person will act. For example, the Society knew which dress Cassia would choose for her Match banquet. They also know that she will be the second person to reach the top of the hill in her hiking class.[return][return]On the surface, some of the things that the Society has done sound pretty good. All your meals are prepared for you. All transportation is public. There are summer leisure hours. Most diseases have been eradicated. The Matching system has eliminated all that pesky worry about finding a life partner. If you're anxious, the Society has thoughtfully provided you with some pills--take the green one and all your worries will fade away.[return][return]But Matched isn't a Utopian novel and it's through Cassia's eyes that we learn about the problems inherent in the Society's ways. Chief among them is that the Society doesn't allow room for creative thought. A long time ago, the Society made lists of the hundred best things. The hundred best paintings, the hundred best poems, the hundred best songs. Everything that didn't make the list was destroyed and, making new ones appears to be prohibited. Everyone within the Society has a job that is functional. Poets, musicians and artists are a thing of the past.[return][return]Cassia is very much a part of the world that the Society has built. She has been waiting for her Match Banquet for most of her life. She's a rule-follower and she believes every line she is fed. When her Match is revealed to be her best friend, Xander, Cassia is even more convinced that the system works. Its not until Cassia goes to view Xander's microcard (for fun, not because she needs to know anything about the boy she's known her whole life), that her world is rocked for the first time. On the viewing screen, for a split second, another face besides Xander's appears. It's the face of another boy she knows--a boy named Ky.[return][return]Ky's split second appearance on the screen is the crack in the windshield. Once Cassia has seen Ky's image, she is no longer able to be content with the world she lives in. She is irresistibly drawn to Ky--and he to her. Though Cassia already has her Match, her feelings for the other boy continue to grow. Because of his unique history, Ky also has a lot to teach Cassia about the Society, about the Hundred Poems, about things that she's never even thought of before. He opens her eyes. And in the process, a romance blooms between them. The problem is, it's sort of a flat, lackluster romance. It's one that never made my heart do a happy lurch in anticipation.[return][return]I was fully prepared to like this book. I loved the cover. Props to the design department for putting the girl in a green dress, by the way. And there was plenty to like. The world that Cassia inhabits is an intriguing one. I sort of pictured it like The Truman Show. You know, all clean and sterile and friendly but not really real. The problem was, it felt a little derivative. It took elements from Brave New World, tossed in a dash of The Giver and mixed them up with some George Orwell. It was impossible not to make comparisons. Matched plays on two things: the remarkable human ability to resemble sheep and the assumption that you can predict human nature. Condie's message was unclear to me. I couldn't tell if she was making an argument that it is impossible for any organization to know as much about the people they are trying to control as they think they do, or if the point was that, yes, people are predictable, but they have a right to live their own lives anyway. I just don't know.[return][return]What I do know is that I never really connected to any of the characters. We don't get to see enough of Xander or Ky in order to take sides in the triangle. Cassia's brother could be any ten year old boy. Her parents are slightly more interesting, but I don't understand what really drives the Society Officials that Cassia comes into the most contact with. I don't think they even had names. So I kind of pictured them as blurred faces in shapeless gray jumpsuits.[return][return]Matched is the first book in a trilogy. I liked it enough to be intrigued as to what will happen next. Condie definitely left Cassia in an interesting place. And I do want to see more of Cassia's world, especially the Outer Provinces. I want to see if there are rebel societies doing rogue things like painting pictures and singing non-perfect, off-key songs and writing romance novels. I'm pretty sure none made the Hundred list of books. Matched is the beginning of a promising series--but I need to see some more before I'm converted to the cause....more
Originally posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return].... This was not my favorite book. For one thing, it was incredibly rushed. Though the bookOriginally posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return].... This was not my favorite book. For one thing, it was incredibly rushed. Though the book clocks in at 244 pages, they are pages with fairly large print, wide margins and double-spacing. It's basically a short story in hardcover, a la Linda Howard's Ice. It's got a pretty cover, though. All red and shiny.[return][return]Low Red Moon tells the story of Avery Hood, a seventeen year-old girl whose parents have just been murdered. Although Avery was found at the crime scene by a deputy, she doesn't remember the events of the night her parents died. Except for a disturbing flash of silver. The flash of silver is both ominous and repetitive. Although I guess it makes sense that Avery would cling to the only memory she has of that night. Still, it's drummed into our heads again and again and again and--okay, I'll stop. Anyway, Avery returns to school immediately after her parents' deaths. That's weird but necessary to the plot: it means she gets to meet the mysterious, hot new boy. Who rocks a really awesome pair of moccasins. No, seriously. Just how are moccasins sexy, exactly? Yeah, I don't know, either.[return][return]The new boy's name is Ben. Avery experiences the inevitable instant attraction to Ben. He feels it too. At first, he tries to push her away. Then he can no longer deny the attraction or the special connection between them. This is a theme that is repeated often these days, especially in Teen fiction. It's one that I can get behind. The special connection angle works for me in Maggie Steifvater's Lament and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Series. But Avery and Ben's "connection" alternately bored me and made me want to roll my eyes. It was also, due to the short length, terribly rushed. I don't like Romance novels where the hero and heroine jump into bed together within a few short pages of meeting each other. Avery and Ben do the teenage equivalent. You blink and they're making out. With heavy petting. Hee, that's funny, given this is a werewolf story.[return][return]The major thing that Low Red Moon suffers from is a lack of characterization. We never learn much about Avery, Ben, or Avery's grandmother, Renee. Avery falls into "I read some stuff on the internet and now I understand everything" trap. Not to mention the utter and COMPLETE stupidity she exhibits near end of the novel. If Ben weren't so lame himself, I'd say she didn't deserve him. As it is, I think they'll be very happy together. After all, yearning after Avery seems to be Ben's only skill. I give them a couple of decades, at least. Sadly, even Avery's parents suffer from one dimensionalism. They come off as your standard, every day neo-hippies. Renee is...I'm not even sure. She can build a porch, though. Her past, which is meant to be mysterious, isn't. What is a mystery is what really drives Renee. Why did she make the decisions she did? What, exactly, happened between Renee and Avery's father? I can't help thinking he hated her because she married his father because he was the easy choice. That's simply speculation, though, as motivation is lacking in this novel. Central to the plot of this book is who killed Avery's parents. I figured out who it was mainly by process of elimination and an unsuccessful red herring. What I still don't understand is, why? I mean, Devlin tells us, but I don't buy it. It comes off as lame and unconvincing.[return][return]What I really didn't like, though, was how many things were left unexplained. All we learn about Devlin's werewolves is brought up and dismissed in a few lines. Then there's Avery's sort of friend, Krista, who is so incredibly insignificant that I'm not sure how she made it into the story at all. Ben and Avery's mystical connection is neither fully explored nor explained. Neither is Avery's mother's nervousness on the night she was killed. When I closed Low Red Moon, all I could think was, "Wait--what?"[return][return]I haven't heard anything, but I suppose the unanswered questions could be because the author intends to make this into a series. Too bad that the plot, the writing, and characterization are all so uninspiring, that I definitely won't be buying any potential sequels....more
Okay, so you may or may not remember that, at the end of the last book, everything went all to hell. Jenn's dad betrayed her to the vampires in order to save her sister, Heather (and the rest of the family). Unfortunately for him, the plan totally backfired (duh) and Heather was, instead, captured and, ultimately, "converted." Whoops. Heather's "conversion" is a complicated issue on so very many levels. For one thing, it brings up the only question--Why is Antonio different? Why was he able to recover his human modes and morals? It's a sticky issue, especially since Antonio firmly believes that his faith is responsible and Jenn...well, Jenn doesn't really buy into religion. Which begs the question--does it really matter whether Jenn buys into it or not? Shouldn't the issue be whether Heather is at all religious? But, since Heather spends most of the novel in vampiric blood-frenzy, I guess they can't really ask her. More to the point, though, is that, with the addition of Heather to the party, the Salamanca team of vampire hunters is now harboring two of the very creatures they've been training to kill. Naturally this causes conflict. Jamie, in particular, is especially pissed. Boy, I didn't see that one coming. I'm not sure exactly why the authors felt they needed to create yet more conflict amongst a group that was already tenuously assembled...but they did. Just in time for them to add two more members--one of whom is a potential love interest for Jenn. This book felt largely repetitious to me. I'm kind of tired of Jenn's self-confidence issues. I thought they were supposed to be resolved in the first book? Why are we dealing with this again? I mean, I don't expect Jenn to miraculously become a fantastic leader, but the impression I got at the end of Crusade was that she had embraced her leadership role. I will be gravely disappointed--though not terribly surprised--if Jenn fights the exact same internal battle in each book of the series. While I admit to some curiosity about what makes Antonio different, I don't find him to be compelling in either of his guises--good vamp or evil. He's so obnoxiously good that I find myself thinking that he deserves wishy-washy Jenn. Unfortunately, Jenn and Antonio aren't this series' only problems. It hasn't endeared itself to me on behalf of any of the characters. I wasn't stirred by the action and I didn't grieve over the death at the end of the book. The series began with a large cast of characters, and what do the authors do but add more? That pretty much killed it for me. I don't think I'll be continuing with this series....more
Ah, fantasy! I love delving into worlds that exist only in authors’ minds, seeing what new rules they comThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Ah, fantasy! I love delving into worlds that exist only in authors’ minds, seeing what new rules they come up with and how the magic works. It’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy (as compared to a paranormal, which generally takes place in our world, but with magic), but it’s just like riding a bike. Muscle memory is everything, folks.
I knew pretty early on that Assassin’s Gambit wasn’t written for me. I’m not the target audience, this is not the kind of book I like, and the writing was not good enough to bring me above my preferences. Stacia Kane set a pretty high standard for me in this regard. It takes talent to make a drug addict into one of the best heroines this side of awesome. Amy Raby, unfortunately, isn’t Stacia Kane.
Given such a strong statement, I should probably explain. I didn’t like either of the main characters and the world was constantly reminding me of Ancient Rome–but not–(and Caturanga, of chess–but not). As I read, I remembered that I dislike assassin heroines, in particular ones who sleep with their marks. Call me priggish, puritanical and judgmental–I just can’t identify with that kind of heroine. It’s not in me. Then, there was the hero. He was too beta, too “sensitive.” There is, in fact, a scene in which the hero crawls around on his hands and knees at the mercy of his enemies. That just about killed the story. There really wasn’t any coming back from that.
Once Vitala’s big secret is revealed, and she breaks from the organization that sent her to kill Lucien, things improve a little. Lucien has his chance to shine and Vitala stops sleeping with guys in order to get close enough to kill them. That right there was a major improvement, if too little too late. Some other stuff happens. Then, after Vitala and Lucien are married, she heads off for one last kill. With no reflection on how Lucien might feel about this. Or how she might feel about it now that she’s “fallen in love.” The quotes tell you how much I believed in the romance in Assassin’s Gambit.
In all, Assassin’s Gambit was a novel that tried very hard but fell short of succeeding. I’m interested to see some other reviews, especially some from a much less jaundiced eye than mine....more
**spoiler alert** First posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return]I think I might have mentioned a time or two that I was really anticipating thi**spoiler alert** First posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return]I think I might have mentioned a time or two that I was really anticipating this book. It was something about meeting Nicholas in book one and knowing that he was going to get his own book eventually. It's a bizarre form of unresolved sexual tension. Anyway, I wish I could say that it lived up to my expectations, but I'm afraid it didn't. I didn't hate it, but I didn't swoon over it and hug it to my chest like that lady in that old Rice Krispie Treats commercial. You know, where she pretends to have slaved over a hot stove to make the desert, but really she's just reading a romance novel...never mind.[return][return]The rest of the review has spoilers for the first two books in the series--particularly book two, so read on with caution.[return][return]My disappointment in this book came from too many missing things. For example, the book opens with Petra being prepared for execution. Remember how in the last book, she touched Sergius and he turned into a monster? Well, it turns that Petra's Touch is part of a prophecy with basically spells disaster for vampires, werewolves and the Alliance. Nicholas was serving as Petra's lawyer because she was in big trouble for touching Serge like he freaking asked her to. Sheesh. I mean, you'd've thought that someone would point that out, just once. At the end of When Pleasure Rules, when all this action happened, I got excited, waiting for Petra and Nicholas' first interaction. I was doomed to disappointment. They don't talk to each other at all. Then, because this book starts with Petra being executed, the first time we see them interact isn't the first time they have interacted. They might as well not have ever met before. I think that would have been more successful, actually.[return][return]Also, it turns out that Petra's gift of the Touch (which basically releases a demon worse than the one a vampire is constantly fighting back) is a family curse. According to the lore of the Shadow World, supernatural creatures come from two brothers. These two were kind of like Adam and Eve. Except that all the vampires are from Adam and all the werewolves are from Eve and they never interbred. Yet. The two original brothers teamed up to destroy brother number three because they knew he was stronger than them. The curse is part of Third Brother's plan for revenge. The plan involves destroying the Alliance, which means destroying each faction's leader (Tiberius of the vamps and Gunnolf of the werein). So, basically, Petra's just a pawn. A pawn in Brother Number Three's insidious plan.[return][return]Petra's gift means she can't touch anyone except on the night of a blue moon. And, conveniently, there's one shortly after Nicholas saves her from being executed. Cue the sex scene. The convenient blue moon is kind of emblematic of the problems I had with this book. Nicholas has a remarkably easy time getting over Lissa (with whom he was still in love in the last book), and he falls in love with Petra at the drop of a hat. And it really bothered me that neither of them ever reflected on the times they met before the novel began. I mean, he was her lawyer for heaven's sake. They had some kind of interaction before, even if it was sitting in a cell talking about how she was probably going to die.[return][return]Even worse than the blue moon thing and the falling in love is easy thing; the tidiest moments come at the end of the book. The question of Petra's overprotective brother? Poof. The fact that Nicholas is a vampire and will, therefore, never age? Dealt with. The curse? Check. I'm not usually one to protest happy endings, but I was disappointed that all the answers came so easily. I felt that Nicholas and Petra deserved better. I certainly wanted better for them.[return][return]The good news is that I still want to read the next three books in the series. The next book, When Passion Lies appears to be Caris and Tiberius'. At least, I know it's Caris' and I assume her hero is Tiberius. Which is kind of a shame, really. I was hoping his book would come later, a la Hawke's book. Still, there are promising males yet: Doyle is picture perfect for the tortured hero, but I'm guessing that Serge will have him cold on that front. I remain cautiously optimistic....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
Naked Edge may have wet my appetite for Romantic Suspense, but it hasn't helped me find any new authors. I've spent the time since finishing Naked EdgNaked Edge may have wet my appetite for Romantic Suspense, but it hasn't helped me find any new authors. I've spent the time since finishing Naked Edge researching Romantic Suspense, looking for hot new titles and/authors but I haven't had much success. I should say, rather, that I found plenty of Romantic Suspense, but nothing helpful enough to point me to a starting point. When I was in high school, all I read was Mysteries. More recently, I've gone through an Golden Age of Crime phase--Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and the very talented Mary Stewart. But all of those authors are, well, dead. Plus, I was looking for something that fell a little heavier on the Romantic side but with plenty of Suspense. You don't get much on the Romantic front from authors who grew up in the early 1900s, especially respectable female ones. Thus, I've decided to read the I-Team books in reverse order. It's not as though I didn't know that the heroes and heroines from each installment weren't going to end up married with children anyway. You might call that justification. I call it my wallet, my choice. And since you keep trying to argue with me, we'll just have to get off this subject. Unlawful Contact is pretty good. I knew it would be because it got a lot of buzz when it came out. I'm not going to go into the plot, as it involves and lot of twists and turns. I will say that I thought this was going to be a story that took place on the road. I should have known better. Denver, Colorado is, firmly, Clare's setting for this series. She might venture out a bit, but most of the action takes place close to home. I really like it when authors take the time to inject some of the character of their setting. In my opinion, it's one of the things that makes Nora Roberts so popular. The setting is intrinsic to the plot of each one of her books. Not that I've read them all. I don't know if anyone has. How they could possibly know if they had? They keep being re-released. Sorry. Back on topic. I was going to say that I wish Clare would put a little more effort into giving us the flavor of Denver. It wouldn't take much. There are always, for example, stereotypes about a town, city, or even a state. I don't know enough about Colorado to make a suggestion, but I definitely feel like I miss that in Clare's books. Not that Clare doesn't give us a sense that her characters appreciate their physical surroundings. I just didn't get a feel for the setting and that was disappointing. In my opinion, Clare picked a really hard plot to be successful with. When the heroine is kidnapped by the hero, I usually find the "he's holding me at gunpoint, but OMG, he's so sexy stuff" excruciating. I don't really buy it. Or, if I do, it makes me think the heroine is kinda stupid. Clare made it work for her novel because, as the description tells us, the H/h have a history. It makes sense that Sophie would be more willing to buy the story of a guy she'd slept with, even if it was in the distant past. I also appreciated that Sophie does go through a fair amount of mental anguish before she decides to help Marc. In reality, I think it would take considerably longer, but it works for the kind of timeline that is necessary for a novel. The best thing that Unlawful Contact does is bring light to what I think is a really relevant issue: the ineffectiveness of the correctional system. It's not that I don't believe that incarceration is the right thing for certain criminals--I do--but it's not the only answer. Those who serve time are more likely to become hardened criminals than they are to reform and end up on the streets changed men and women. Clare's story is kind of like hyperbole--she exaggerates the situation for effect. I just hope that people don't dismiss her message because of that. Since finishing Unlawful Contact, my finger's been hovering over the "buy now" button for Hard Evidence. It's a good thing for my wallet that I lent my father my Kindle so he can read the Fever Series. In the meantime, are there any Romantic Suspense authors/books I should be looking into? ...more
Many of you are already familiar with my obsession with Private School Paranormals. It wasThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Many of you are already familiar with my obsession with Private School Paranormals. It was that, as much as a desire to try out the renowned L.A. Banks' writing style, that led me to give this book a try. The weighty description gives you an idea of the way Shadow Walker rolls. It's a meaty tome. There's lots going on in it, though the events of the book occur in a relatively short amount of time. Most of the story is told from Sarah's perspective, although the p.o.v. is not first person. As a narrator, Sarah is believably conflicted. I can't imagine how incredibly hard it must be to be the children of two people who have saved the world. I mean, how are you supposed to improve on that one? How are you supposed to feel like you've ever done anything with your life, even if you join the Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders and The Red Cross? The potential for an inferiority complex is huge here. But Sarah is the heroine so, while she does deal with some feelings of inadequacy, she's destined for her own acts of greatness. In the beginning of the story, Sarah is uncertain of her powers and jealous of her twin, who is already demonstrating the greatness of their parents. The major symbol of this fact is that Sarah has been named a "Blend." Being a blend means that you have no particular talent. Or, that it's yet to be discovered. By the epilogue, Sarah has learned what she needs to know--about herself, and others--that will lead her to be the kind of great leader her mother was. Shadow Walker didn't grab me right off. To be honest, Sarah wasn't my favorite kind of character. She has flaws--like getting an enormous zit the day she starts at the Academy--but she always does the right thing. She stands up to bullies, she defends the weak, and doesn't let her best-friend run her down. Which, okay, should all be positive stuff but, honestly--all that perfection becomes irritating. Sarah's loyal. Sarah's kind. Sarah's attractive to two boys. She doesn't like guys who are jerks. When you find yourself hoping that the main character will just mess something up for once, you know you've got a problem. I also felt a lot lost whenever the book returned to the events that must have taken place in the Vampire Huntress books. I'd thought that Banks would assume that, like me, her YA readers probably haven't read her adult fiction, and fill us in a little. I suspect, however, that the only way to truly be filled in is to have read the books. The description of paranormal creatures, people and family relationships would have been better placed at the front of the book. Still, it only tells a small portion of the story--a great deal more is half-related in the course of Shadow Walker. I was also underwhelmed by Sarah's romantic entanglements. Neither Wil nor Val did much for me. They're both good-looking, but kind of interchangeable. Which doesn't make sense, because Sarah's known Val all her life. And pretty much every guy who wasn't Wil or Val was a jerk. So, that came off as another one of Sarah's perfections: she knows how to pick the good guys. Having finished Shadow Walker, I have a feeling of apathy. I don't really care about the next stage in Sarah's journey. I was unimpressed with the story-telling and the world-building. Banks probably did all that in the Vampire Huntress books, so that's another thing I missed. Half the time I had some sort of image in my head that the Compound was like a space station. The school, too. Whenever they went off campus, I'd be wondering if they didn't need spacesuits or something. This is what happens to me when I read a book that lacks a resonating setting. I don't think I'm going to be reading anything else by Banks....more
Review first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I had high hopes for this book. I mean, a new YA werewolf series? By an author who alreadReview first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I had high hopes for this book. I mean, a new YA werewolf series? By an author who already has a pretty big following? I hoped wrong. And I m going to have to tread lightly here, because there wasn t much for me to like in Once in a Full Moon and I just talked about not author-bashing in a previous post.[return][return]Let s start with the writing. It s a lot of tell and no show. We re told a lot of things about the heroine, Celeste, and Celeste s friends, and Celeste s boyfriends, the town of Legend s Run and the hot new guy, Brandon. By the time I got to the part where I started reading sentences like, Another attribute that my friends shared was accusing me of being too nice because I was cordial to everyone , I began to realize that I was doomed. There s also the stilted dialog which is often lacking in contractions. This is a pet peeve of mine. I mean, people do not talk the way they write. They re constantly doing blasphemous things to the English language. I like to see a nice balance between formal language and something that s readable. If the dialog is too formal I can t picture actual people saying the words. If it s too slang-y and missing too many consonants (see dialog written in dialect. Heh.) then I become irritated.[return][return]Okay, sorry, that was a diatribe I didn t mean to go off on. So, the writing: not great. But what really disappointed me was everything else. The main character, Celeste, is a cardboard cutout of the good girl that runs with the popular crowd. For some reason, she s accepted by all the rich, born-on-the-right-side-of-the-tracks kids at her high school. Her boyfriend is a good-looking, popular jock. Her friends are steadfast and loyal. She s nice , meaning she sticks up for the poor unfortunates who are born in the Hicksville east side of Legend s Run. The blue collar side. And, seriously, I m not joking: she volunteers at a senior center. She is, in essence, a Mary Sue.[return][return]Or she would be, if she didn t have issues. Like being friends with the kind of mean girls who exclude people not of their own socio-economic background. I mean, seriously, her friends suck. They re rude to everyone. They tell Celeste that she s too nice and then encourage her to forgive her boyfriend when she finds him flirting with another girl. They make Celeste worse just because she wanted to be friends with them.[return][return]Then there s Celeste s boyfriend, Nash. Also a jerk. Basically ignores Celeste and only cares about sports. He likes Celeste because she s different . She s the one girl he can t get just by crooking his finger. Can you see me rolling my eyes? I honestly could not figure out why Nash was supposed to be so popular. Maybe you can tell me. Luckily, Nash isn t the hero in this book. No, that s the aforementioned new guy in town: Brandon.[return][return]Brandon is hot, but he s from the wrong side of town. No, seriously. He s, like, hawt. What I couldn t figure out was, if he s so hot, isn t it pretty unlikely that Celeste would be the only girl who didn t care what part of town he was from? Apparently, no. He s reviled. Even though he s a hero. What, you didn t know that? Well, Celeste will tell you a few thousand times, just so you get the point. He s sexy, heroic and thoughtful. Everything Nash is not, apparently. Which is fine. I mean, I ll buy the story of a girl who is with Guy A, who doesn t appreciate her or treat her right and she doesn t realize it until Guy B comes into the picture. The problem is the thing that s keeping Celeste with Nash isn t the way he s treating her. It s worry over what her friends and family will think if they find out she s dating an Eastsider like Brandon. So Celeste stays with Nash despite her feelings for another guy. At least, until she finds him flirting with someone else.[return][return]All in all, I don t feel that I can recommend this book. It didn t just disappoint me, it frustrated me. When the penultimate werewolf scene finally happens, I actually laughed out loud. I m only sad that I couldn t laugh at the rest of it....more
Part The Bourne Identity, part The X-Files, False Memory is a fast, fantastic read. Author DanThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
Part The Bourne Identity, part The X-Files, False Memory is a fast, fantastic read. Author Dan Krokos wastes no time getting started with the action, but neither does he pull any punches while introducing his characters. Miranda, our main character, woke up remembering two facts: Her name is Miranda North, and she’s 17. Other than that, her mind’s a complete blank. Well, except for those automatic responses she has–buying some clothes so she doesn’t stick out in the crowd, and searching for places to take cover. Miranda may not know much, but she knows these aren’t the actions of your average teenager.
Fortunately, someone in the crowded mall knows Miranda. Peter takes the bewildered girl home, and explains: she’s be trained from birth to be a lean, mean fighting machine. Things only get weirder from there, as Peter elaborates on her life as one of four teens raised together, and their strange, regulated, parent-less childhood. It’s a lot to take in, but Miranda doesn’t have the luxury of time. The remaining members of her team went missing when she did, and they’ve yet to be tracked down. Miranda has to process on the run, and reconciling herself to a life she doesn’t remember isn’t any easier when people are trying to kill you.
Usually, I don’t like it when authors write MCs from opposite genders. I nitpick and tear apart and whine about unauthentic voices. I didn’t have this problem with Miranda and Dan Krokos. In part, this is due to the fact that Miranda doesn’t have the time to be a girl, only a bewildered human being. However explosive the action is, though, Krokos doesn’t gloss over plot or characterization. Krokos does what The Lost Princessfailed to do–expands on the characters while the action is happening. How each character–from Miranda to Peter to Noah and Olive–responds to their many crises helps us to get to know them better.
False Memory evokes The Bourne Identity and The X-Files without ever feeling derivative. It takes the best of both creates and seriously enjoyable new tale. I had a lot of fun reading it, and I look forward to seeing more from Dan Krokos....more
I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for inforThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for information about the third book in Gemma Halliday’s delightful Deadly Cool series. Her name popped up as the coauthor of this book, which is a complete fallacy. Halliday didn’t co-write I Spy Dead People, she published it. This is, possibly, a cheap gimmick, but one I have no objection to. I probably wouldn’t have purchased I Spy Dead People if Halliday’s name hadn’t been associated with it, and that would have been a shame. It’s a fun teen mystery with a dash of paranormal.
I Spy Dead People introduces us to teen sleuth Piper Grimaldi, a girl inspired by strong heroines like Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Kind of dated for a 15 year old at this point, but I’m not complaining.) Piper and her father just moved (for the zillionth time) to a neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. Such is Piper’s life; her dad writes True Crime and every year they have to follow a new story so her father can write a new book. Piper’s sick of moving (it’s hell on her social life) and hopes Texas will stick. Especially when she meets a potential best friend and–even better–a potential love interest.
Though the love interest gets mentioned in the blurb, the romance in this one is scanty at best. In fact, I’m not even rooting for the obvious guy. I prefer the guy whom Piper firsts describes as kind of a skeezeball. (I liked him from the start, probably because of the fedora. I don’t care what Piper says, they are cool!) Piper spends most of the book trying to solve the mystery of her next door neighbor’s murder. She doesn’t have much time for romance. Her determination to solve the crime is fun and funny and, thankfully realistic. As a 15 year old, Piper’s scope is limited. There’s only so much she can discover with her limited resources and sometimes her investigation looks a lot more like snooping. Still, you gotta appreciate that she gets the job done, even when it’s at risk to her own life.
About Piper’s supernatural ability, I’ll say little. I don’t know if it’s spoilery to reveal, so I’ll just say that it adds a degree of interest that I really liked. I look forward to learning more about her powers as the series progresses. I still have a lot of questions, but I look forward to them being answered. Yes, I’ll definitely be reading book two. In fact, I can’t wait for it to come out. Jennifer Fischetto has written a delightful teen mystery and created a fun new heroine. I think Piper and I are going to be new best friends....more
Oh, Rune! How do I love thee? Enough to overlook your appalling dress sense, certainly. AheThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Oh, Rune! How do I love thee? Enough to overlook your appalling dress sense, certainly. Ahem. Sorry, this is meant to be a book review, not a hero review. Although... No, never mind. I admit that, when I heard who Rune's heroine was going to be, I was a trifle disappointed. I can't explain why exactly, but it's probably due to the fact that I tend to dislike world-weary been-there-done-that heroines. I should have known better. I should have expected more from the very awesome Thea Harrison. Because not only did she make me like Carling, she made me really like her--and root for her and Rune. I loved this book, but I have a confession to make. I'm still a little bit confused about the plot. It involves time travel, which is basically a big flashing red light that there's going to be something in it to confuse me. Time travel plots always make me go, "Wait...What...?" and "But, didn't...?" I think my brain shuts down in self-defense. I leave the physics to my brother and his Ph.D, and focus on the parts that interest me more. I.e., the hot heroes, the romance and the world-building. It's well-known (I hope) by this point that I'm a huge alpha hero fan. Also well-known? Thea Harrison absolutely knows how to create them. Rune is an alpha hero who Does It Right. He perfectly personifies that sexy-scary hero Thea Harrison describe in her Book Boyfriend post this week. He pushes Carling when he knows she needs it, and need it she does. It's a sort of role reversal. In Serpent's Kiss, Carling is the cold, closed-off half of the couple and Rune is the one that encourages her to feel by not kowtowing to her immense power. He's also the one that encourages her to relax and have fun--he plays the role usually reserved for the quirky, off-beat heroine. Harrison also continues with her fantastic world-building. I'm not going to touch on the time-travel plot (for the reasons mentioned above), but I will say that the trips back in time really worked for me in terms of expanding Rune and Carling's relationship. It happens at lightning speed, which is kind of the formula for Harrison's books. It really needs the extra connecting that happens during the time jumps. I also really dug the vampire lore, and how the concept of the serpent's kiss played into the world's concept of vampirism. The more I learn about Harrison's world, the more eager I am to visit the other demesnes. The last thing I want to touch on is Thea Harrison's talent for introducing new characters. We met Duncan and Khalil in Storm's Heart, but we get to know them better in Serpent's Kiss. I absolutely adore it when authors build up anticipation for characters stories. It's one of the things I love best about Nalini Singh, and I'm giddy with excitement to find an author who can do it with as much success. There's an excerpt for Oracle's Moon at the end of Serpent's Kiss, and it did miraculous things to whet my appetite. Thea Harrison can't write fast enough for me. 5 Points: I would move in with this book. ...more
Over and over I’ve mentioned my craving for teen mysteries, so I won’t belabor the point again. NeedlessThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Over and over I’ve mentioned my craving for teen mysteries, so I won’t belabor the point again. Needless to say, I snapped up A Girl Named Digit the moment I saw it at my favorite local independent bookstore (say that three times fast!). That said, I’ve had the attention span of a gnat lately, so my reading of Digit was slow as molasses. I picked it up and put it down without regard to how much I was enjoying it.
So, what’s the story? Farrah (aka Digit) lives in LA with her actor mom, her professor father and a younger brother. She’s happy living in the traffic capital of the world because it offers plenty of opportunity for her to read her beloved bumper stickers. Farrah’s biggest secret is that her interest in numbers borders on the obsessive (okay, maybe that’s a understatement). The pressure to fit in has led her to conceal her talents. She’s so perfected the guise of a self-absorbed teenager that she runs with some of the most popular girls in her school.
Then she cracks a terrorist cell’s code and attracts the attention of the FBI. Luckily for Farrah, the agent that gets the case is a boy genius, cute and not much older than her. Unluckily for Farrah, her life is danger. A few days kept in close confinement gives Farrah and Special Agent John Bennett time to bond and to get closer to solving the case.
A Girl Named Digit was a fun read. Everything, down to the chapter titles, is infused with the kind of humor I like best. Digit’s internal monologue is a hoot. She sees the world through a unique lens and since the story is told from her perspective, we’re privvy to it. It’s just too bad that, despite all that humor, I never really connected to Farrah. I like characters that use humor to deflect, but only if I’m also allowed glimpses of the deeper emotions behind the humor. Farrah was a little too glib and her arc a little too shallow for me to be invested in her character. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything unlikeable about Farrah. I’d be happy to while away some time with her, but I won’t be calling her if I’m looking for a more meaningful connection.
So, while I liked Farrah and was interested to see how her romance with John (The Prodigy FBI Agent) would play out, I felt a lack of something while reading Digit. It’s hard to evaluate the books that are a little bit better than good but still not great. A Girl Named Digit was middle of the road, but a decently paved one with those little reflector thingies in the center. I would recommend if someone asked me if I knew of any books about teenage math geniuses, but it won’t be making my Top Teen Mysteries list anytime soon....more
After gobbling down books one and two, I began The Prophet with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension. There are three more books planned for theAfter gobbling down books one and two, I began The Prophet with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension. There are three more books planned for the Graveyard Queen books, but they won't be out for a while. I don't even think they have publication dates yet. I knew that The Prophet was going to have to sustain me for a loooong time, and I was a nervous wreck that it would leave me as yearning as I was after reaching the end of The Restorer and The Kingdom. I was both right and wrong on these fronts. The Prophet has some definite resolution--but I can also see that there's plenty of room for more story.
The Prophet brings Amelia Gray back to Savannah. She's been summoned by Detective Devlin, whose message that "he needs her" is more temptation than she can resist. It also brings Amelia back to the graveyard where she witnessed so much horror in The Restorer. Worse, it brings her back into contact with some ghosts who either want to use her for their own purposes or just want to harm her. Amelia's father's rules go so far out the window, Amelia's sure she's doomed.
In the meantime, Amelia and Devlin's reunion isn't exactly what she pictured it. Devlin is more mysterious and enigmatic than ever, and there's a pair of lovely sisters in the mix. The resemblance to the classic Gothic, Rebecca, deepens in this book as mysteries are unraveled. It's not as successful as The Restorer, but I loved it all the same....more
At the end of The Restorer, Amelia Gray had reached an impasse with Detective John Devlin. Despite their obvious attraction, being around him wasn't sAt the end of The Restorer, Amelia Gray had reached an impasse with Detective John Devlin. Despite their obvious attraction, being around him wasn't safe for Amelia. In The Kingdom, Amelia punctuates her decision to stay away from the haunted Devlin by agreeing to restore a graveyard on an isolated island away from Savannah. The job--which is meant to be a distraction as much as a way to get some distance--turns out to be far from what Amelia was expecting.
Instead of a straight-forward job, Amelia learns that she's been summoned to Asher Falls for a reason. There's something nefarious going on on the island, and somehow it's tied to Amelia's past. Lots of questions are answered in this installment but, by the end, even more are forthcoming.
The Kingdom seems almost like it takes place in an alternate reality from The Restorer. Amelia thinks about Devlin a lot--even as she feels a spark of attraction to Thane Asher. There's a pretty large part of me that wishes that The Kingdom had come before The Restorer. But--it would have needed some pretty significant alterations to work. Still, the departure is pretty disruptive. But maybe that's because I just want to get back to Savannah (and Devlin)?...more
Since I listened to the audio version of this book, I'm splitting my review into two parts:This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Since I listened to the audio version of this book, I'm splitting my review into two parts: 1) The Book and 2) The Narration. The Book The Iron Fey opens with Meghan Chase telling the story of her father's inexplicable, unsolved disappearance, and how it led to current life as the stepdaughter of a poor Southern farmer. On the surface, Meghan's life is normal, if a bit dismal. She doesn't have fashionable clothing, the guy she likes doesn't seem to know she exists (nor does anyone else for that matter), she only has one friend, and her mom won't agree to take her to take the test for her driver's license. Little does Meghan know that her problems aren't as mundane as she thought they were. You see, Meghan is half-Fae. And her brother has been kidnapped in order to lure her into Faerie. And it turns out her best friend is Fae. Not just any Fae, but the famous Puck, and all these years he's been watching over her on behalf of his king, Meghan's father. Just when Meghan thinks things can't get any worse, she meets her stepmother, Titania, and witnesses the opening salvo of a war between the Winter and Summer Courts. These are all incidental to Meghan's quest to rescue her brother. Or she thinks they are, anyway. She leaves the Fae Courts to embark on her rescue mission. Along her intermittent way, she's accompanied by Grimalkin, the Caith-Sith, Puck in his Fae form, and Ash, a prince of the Winter Court. Meghan is not my favorite heroine. It would make sense for her to be ignorant of Faerie ways, but Meghan isn't just ignorant, she's thick-skulled. When she encounters things that are different from her expectations, she becomes easily bewildered and, ultimately, doesn't take action. Also, I find it a little unbelievable that she was so entirely ignorant of all things Faerie. It would be nearly impossible for her not to have developed some sort of preconceived notions about Faeries--especially since she's obviously read A Midsummer Night's Dream because she knows who Puck is. What I found most irritating about Meghan was her constant goodness. Kagawa overdoes Meghan's pacifism a wee bit too much. It's like when vegetarians are turned into vampires or werewolves. Okay, I get it. The heroine loves all god's creatures. There were times when I (who hides her face during boxing movies) wished someone would inject her with some bloodthirsty juice already. As for the other characters, I never felt that I got to know them very well. Ash is kind of typical Fae--cold and stand-offish, haughty, but beautiful--and Puck is Puck. Grimalkin was a slightly more interesting character, but not very. Kagawa left these characters largely unexplored, and while that makes sense in Grim's case, it's not so for Puck and Ash. At least, I don't think it is since they're Meghan's romantic interests. Not that I think Puck has a chance. I can even understand a little mystery about Ash, but Meghan's spent most of her childhood with Puck as a friend. Wouldn't she know more quirks of his personality? Or maybe wonder why she was friends with someone who was never, ever serious? There was very little hint of their shared past history, which seemed odd, given that he was her only friend. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy listening to this book. It's more that there wasn't anything special in it for me. I wasn't particularly attracted to either of the male leads, and Fae just seems like the woods at first and a junkyard later. A few times, Ash does things with his winter magic, but having finished the book, I have very little idea what it means to be fae--or in Meghan's case, half-fae. I don't know if I'll be listening to the next book in the series. The Narrator A good narrator is hard to come by, and I think this is especially true for teen books. The range of voices required is, frankly, exhausting, and I've listened to far too many narrators give characters bizarre quirks of speech (impediments, lisps, etc) in order to illustrate who was speaking. By and large, Kristine Hvram did a good job with Meghan, but many of her male characters sounded alike. I confess that I cringed every time she used the word faerie because she put so much emphasis on the "fae" part. Maybe this is how you pronounce the word, but it annoyed me anyway. ...more
Dude, this book was stupid. I try not to start reviews off with blanket statements, but it just wasn’t gonna happen. I picked up Dark Prince because iDude, this book was stupid. I try not to start reviews off with blanket statements, but it just wasn’t gonna happen. I picked up Dark Prince because it came up on a list of slow-burning Paranormal Romance suggestions. There’s nary a slow-burn in sight, as far as I can tell. It’s an inferno from page one. And I don’t mean that in a good way.
Dark Prince is the first book in Feehan’s Carpathian Series. It was published in 1999, which, surprisingly, was over a decade ago. It was a year after the publication of Devil’s Bride–the book that spawned the Cynster Saga, a long line of Historical Romances featuring frightening similar Alpha heroes. Don’t get me wrong. My copy of Devil’s Bride has seen a few rereads over the years. I just wanted to place Dark Prince in the history of the Romance novel. I’m by no means an expert. In the end, I realized that Devil’s Bride persistently came to mind while I was reading Dark Prince. Not, mind you, that the books are similar, stylistically. Though I think there were certain shared plot point. More important was the difference in each author’s take on the Alpha Hero/Independent Heroine relationship. Having read both novels, I feel that Stephanie Laurens was a lot more successful in her endeavor. Let me see if I can explain why. You’ll have to allow me a little leeway, though. It’s been a while since I last reread Devil’s Bride.
On the surface, the heroes of both books are remarkably similar. They are physically large, powerful, wealthy, and sought after by women. Devil is a duke, and the therefore the head of his (large) family. He is used to being in charge. Mikhail, the hero of Dark Prince, is the leader of the Carpathians. They are his people. He leads them, protects them, and keeps their race going. He is also used to having complete control. Similar, yes. And very, very different.
When Devil meets his heroine (Honoria), their circumstances pretty much decide their future relationship for them. However, what Cynsters have, they hold. It’s their family motto. So, knowing that there is no choice but for them to be married, Devil commits himself to Honoria completely and absolutely. He would have married her in any case–it’s just blind luck that they fall in love eventually. But in the meantime, before the marriage takes place, Devil and Honoria are constantly fighting a battle of wills. Honoria is an independent woman and definitely does not want to be forced into a marriage–especially not to a man. Of course, Honoria is incredibly modern-minded in her thinking. Devil’s Bride is a historical set in the Regency period, during a time when women’s lives were largely prescribed by men–husbands, fathers, brothers. This makes Honoria’s struggle to make choices for herself all the more significant. We all know that Honoria will marry Devil in the end, but as we follow their relationship, we see that they are equals. Devil is alpha, but so is Honoria. They frequently go toe-to-toe as Honoria refuses to let Devil steamroll her. In the end you know that they couldn’t be with anyone but each other.
For Mikhail and Raven, it’s different. Raven is Mikhail’s lifemate, which is kind of like when one of Kresley Cole’s vampires meets his Bride. When Mikhail meets Raven, he can see color and feel emotion. He knows that they are fated to be together and he’s one of those “what I have, I hold” types, too. Lucky for him, he has a much more complacent partner in Raven. Sure, she talks big about being independent and making her own choices, but when push comes to shove, Mikhail always gets his way. Raven argues with Mikhail when he does high-handed things she doesn’t like, but it’s the equivalent of putting the back of her hand to her forehead and saying, “La, I feel faint.” It doesn’t stick because it isn’t real. Here’s a short list of things that Raven lets Mikhail get away with:
* Using compulsion to force to eat and sleep when he wants her to. * Moving her into his house. * Forming a mate bond with her without informing her of all the ins and outs of what she’s getting herself into. * Making her wear skirts instead of pants. * Physically threatening any male who comes within a foot of her (because they all want her and Mikhail’s special powers allow him to sense this.)
I said it was going to be a short list, so I better stop. The long and the short of it is that Mikhail and Raven’s “romance” is basically dressed-up abuse. He isolates Raven and decimates her free will under the guise of knowing what’s best for her. Um, okay. Thanks but no thanks.
But enough about Mikhail and Raven. Let’s talk about language. In fact, let’s talk about repetitive language. I should have counted how many times certain words showed up in this novel. Here are some much-loved words and phrases:
I felt like I was reading the same passages over and and over. Raven was constantly making men lust after her by the “curiously innocent gesture” of pushing her hair off her face. Also, Mikhail and Raven go through the “You will do what I say.”/”I have to make my own decisions”./”I only want what’s best for you.”/”I have to be independent and fly kites if I want to.”/”It’s only that I care for you so much and I don’t want to lose you” blah blah emotional-blackmail-cakes. Yech.
There were also several times when the novel should have ended, only to have a new villain show up. I mean, what? It was like an Agatha Christie novel, where you find out who the killer is a third of the way through the book, only HAH! it wasn’t really Mr. Shortstuff, it was MR. ROUND the WHOLE TIME! Only, you know that Christie was treating you to a boatload of delicious red herrings and you realize how awesome she was. In Dark Prince, you just go WTF?! Can this story end already, pretty please?
In case you have any doubts, I won’t be reading the rest of this series. I have better things to do with my time.
I was really excited about this book. I thought I had unearthed a heretofore undiscovered (This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I was really excited about this book. I thought I had unearthed a heretofore undiscovered (by me) Teen Paranormal Romance Set in a Private Boarding School. And I had. And it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great, either. All in all, this was a pretty average book. There was nothing new or surprising in it and there was nothing in it that got me excited one way or the other. I mean, in either a good way or a bad way. True, I rolled my eyes at certain points, but sometimes I do that when I'm reading a book that is a guilty pleasure. Shadow Hills doesn't qualify as a guilty pleasure book. Whether or not I'm eager to get to the end of a book is one of the benchmarks I use to gauge how much I like what I'm reading. That's probably true for you, so I'll just say that I was eager to finish Shadow Hills. But not because I wanted to see how things turned out at the end--because I wanted to move on to the next book in my TBR pile.
Shadow Hills takes place in one of my favorite settings. Which I've mentioned already, so there's no need for me to tell you what it is for the six thousandth time. The main character and narrator, Persephone "Phe" Archer, has come from LA to go to school at Devenish, your standard East Coast Prep School. It's somewhere in Massachusetts. There's no point in my rehashing all the things the description tells you about this novel, so I won't. But the death of Phe's sister plays a much smaller role in this book than it suggests. Phe's sister (predictably named Athena) died some time ago--six months to a year. I don't know why, exactly, but that surprised me. I think it took some of the immediacy away from the story--but on the other hand, it gave Phe enough time to have moved on and eased up on grieving enough to move on with her life a little.
Phe is fifteen, though she doesn't come off the page as one so young. This could be attributed to the death of her sister, but she seemed a little too, I don't know, adult-minded to be authentically fifteen. Also, I couldn't help feeling that she was a bit Mary Sue-ish. I say this without knowing anything about the author. Except what's on the back cover blurb. But I suspect that Anastasia Hopcus is as much a music snob as Phe. Even if Phe isn't a Mary Sue, she's a wee bit on the perfect side. If she has flaws we don't see them much. She's attractive, of average height, a good swimmer, a decent student, makes friends easily, sticks up for herself and others, and it all kind of got boring after a while. What foibles Phe has are cute. Like snorting when she laughs or blushing easily.
Zach, the hero and designated "hot guy" also suffers from the Perfect Syndrome. He's extremely good-looking, kind to his elders, superpowered and supersmart. He stands up for others and rescues kittens from rooftops. Okay, I made the last part up. But, seriously, when Zach's alter-ego (and enemy and cousin) showed up on the scene, I wanted him to be the hero because, hello? Dark chocolate-y bad guys are infinitely more interesting than vanilla-y boring wonder boys. Yawn. Unfortunately, the bad guys crosses too far into evil jerk territory to be an realistic foil for Zach. In fact, he's so perfect he doesn't really have any competition. You know, I think I was more disappointed in this book than I thought when I first started this review.
The thing that this book suffers from the most is that vanilla thing I mentioned. I don't really have a problem with vanilla, as a flavor, but I'd much rather eat dark chocolate. I didn't really care whether or not Phe and Zach got together. They were too cutesy together and everything was too easy. I was talking to a friend once about how a couple on a TV show I liked was sooo boring and she said that was probably the sign of a good relationship. If that's so, then Phe and Zach will, in all likelihood, spend an eternity together. ...more
Oh, wait, I have to make disclaimer number two: This review contains spoilers for the firstThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Oh, wait, I have to make disclaimer number two: This review contains spoilers for the first three books in the series. Especially book three.
Magic Bleeds picks up where most of us wanted it to: with the naked dinner between Kate and Curran. Okay, Curran gave Kate permission to wear a bra and underwear, as long as the latter had bows on them. Unfortunately, we learn pretty quickly that though Kate has come through on her part of the deal, Curran hasn't. All the food has gone cold while she's waited for him to show up. Kate, being Kate, debates whether or not to call and find out what's going on. When she gives in and calls, she gets the worst response possible. A third party stonewalls, telling Kate she can't talk to Curran and that, in the future, she should refer to his head of security.
I was pissed at Curran, right along with Kate. I couldn't think of any reason good enough for him to blow her off. Although...death, maybe, would work. I say this because the novels are entirely first person. Kate's mind is the only one we have privileged access to. All the stuff I've learned about Kate in the last three books makes me want to scream at Curran for standing her up. Kate may be a hard ass--okay, she is a hard ass--but inside, she's a softy. Opening herself up to Curran even a teensy bit was a big risk for her. The girl's got baggage that's fathoms deep. I wanted Curran to understand how much damage he'd done to this already damaged person and I wanted him to grovel, yesterday.
As it turns out--and I don't think I'm spoiling anything here--there is an explanation for Curran's absence. But the message that Kate should refer to Jim in the future was never resolved to my satisfaction. Curran apologizes for it--and refers to it as a misunderstanding--but it was that more than Curran's absence that really cut Kate more than anything. And I wanted Curran to understand that, and to make it better. It's satisfying that Kate gives Curran no quarter when she thinks that he's screwed her over. She said all the things I wanted her to and, ultimately, all the things that he needs to hear, even if it's hard for her. Both Kate and Curran act like adults (though not all the time--with hilarious results). What I mean is, they don't just jump in the sack and voila--they're in love. They communicate. They have dialogue about what both of them would need in order for a relationship to be possible between them. They also talk about the things that they consider nonnegotiable. I can't help thinking that the husband-and-wife writing team made this possible.
Okay, Kate/Curran rant over. I sweah. You want to know about the rest of the book, yeah? Okay, here goes. Magic Bleeds is a important book in terms of the larger story arc of Kate's past and Kate's future. We learn more about her horrific childhood and but also more about what makes her tick. One of Kate's overriding issues is that she believes that friendships make her vulnerable. No, scratch that, Kate worries that being friends with her makes others vulnerable. Yet, she can't stop caring for people. And she's so kick ass, they can't stop caring in return. What I like is that Kate doesn't try to push people away by doing awful things to them--which is the traditional M.O. of people with this complex. She does try to protect them, but she doesn't hurt those she loves to do it. I think that Kate realizes her ability to care for others is her saving grace. She was raised to be a killer and she is that, but she's also a great defender of what she believes in and those she cares for.
For those of you who have been following the series you know about Kate's friend Andrea and Andrea's paramour, Raphael. If you haven't read their short story, you might want to do so before you read Magic Bleeds. They make several appearances in this book, including one scene that had me laughing out loud. Let's just say that the mating period sounds like a roller coaster ride. Raphael is there in all his glory--and we get to see how Curran views the sexy bouda. There's also more of Saiman and our favorite teenage sensate, Julie. Derek makes an appearance, but is apparently exhausted from taking up so much of the story last time. We learn more about the Pack and how it works. Finally, we also meet a member of Kate's family. There are hints pretty early on about this, if you're looking for them. Also, by the end of the novel, Kate's secret isn't so secret.
The ending of this book is about as awesome as I could wish it. I'm excited to see more of Julie and to see the next step in Kate and Curran's relationship. The fifth book, Magic Slays, comes out June 2011. For those of you who haven't yet gotten your hands on a copy of Bayou Moon, here's a reason to get on it: there's a sneak peek of Magic Slays in the back. I can't wait till June. My love for this series--and these characters--started at a slow burn, but now it's a raging inferno. Only, now, to add to the burn, I really, really want to see a book (or series) featuring Derek and Julie. Has anybody heard whether or not I'm having a pipe dream?
I'm curious to know what you guys think, or if you can recommend a series I might love as much as this one. Care to share? ...more
Someday, I'm going to read a book where a character that comes from California but isn't frThis review was first posted at http://www.rubysreads.com.
Someday, I'm going to read a book where a character that comes from California but isn't from a hippie commune. I'm just saying. Some day it's going to happen.
The Magnolia League--which I keep accidentally calling The Magnolia Legacy--tells the story of Alex. Before her mother died, Alex lived on a commune in Northern California, where her mother was an herbalist and she grew dreadlocks in order to impress a boy. After her mother's death, Alex was uprooted from her happy, hippie, communal life and sent to live with her aristocratic, Southern grandmother. This means that, in addition to grieving for her mother, Alex must also grieve for her home, and her former way of life.
I realize as I write this how often the death of a parent is used to send a teenage heroine hurtling into a strange, new world. Loss of a parent is undeniably a life-changing event (I prefer to believe that my own parents are immortal), but it's also remarkably convenient. By which I mean: insta-angst and automatic lack of adult supervision. Wondering why Mom and Dad have failed to notice that Suzie has been sneaking out at night to fight monsters? Dead parents take care of that particular plot irritation. I don't mean to imply that Katie Crouch was unsuccessful in making Alex believable as a grieving daughter. I bought her grief as genuine. This is merely by way of commenting on a trend in teen fiction.
I didn't realize at first, that this book was going to be paranormal. And, to be honest, I was kind of bummed to find out that it was. This is only natural when a book doesn't match your expectations. I was imagining something in the vein of conspiracy, murder mystery with a side of "If I told you, then I'd have to kill you". Not so. The supernatural angle is the cornerstone to this book. While, for a time, it toys with being a coming-of-age type story, it isn't really. This book is about old Southern superstition. In particular, voodoo.
My overwhelming feeling, after having read this book, was that it was predictable. I knew where things were going with Alex. Nothing about her journey particularly surprised me. She becomes disillusioned with the past she idealized, and with the people she idealized. She finds a new love, and new friends. She uncovers a mystery about her mother and remembers that she wasn't as normal as she once thought she was. I think the author used this book purely as a setup for the rest of the series and that, frankly, doesn't make me like it much. And I haven't even gotten to the heroine, yet.
Alex begins the book as a free-thinker. She's sort of classically "Why can't we all just get along?" And while she has a point about thinking for yourself, about not judging people based on their appearance (although she does a fair amount of that herself), Alex's real personality is that of a scared little girl. She's a master of self-delusion. She deluded herself about life on the commune, and she deludes herself into thinking she can take advantage of the benefits of being a Magnolia without succumbing to its dark side. She also just kind of follows along, never really taking action--which doesn't jibe with her support of individuality. Her actions don't really make sense. I'm going to spoil a bit here, so highlight the next section at your own risk.
It doesn't make sense that Alex decides to do the love spell on Thaddeus. It would have been far more in keeping with her character to work some kind of spell that made certain no one was making him want to be with her. It still would have been breaking her promise never to magic him--but it would have made more sense given her moral code.
Of course, it will come as no surprise to you that I also found the romance to be a disappointment. Not even the attraction rang true for me. I bought that Alex might like Thaddeus because we have access to her internal dialog. What I never bought was that Thaddeus liked Alex. Not because she didn't deserve him, but that there wasn't any real indication that he really liked her. I mean--he says the words and stuff--but there were none of those little details that show when a guy likes a girl. You know what I mean?
With a lackluster romance, confusing characterization, and predictability weighing this book down, I can't say that I really liked it. Which is an excellent way to lead into the giveaway, is it not? Either way, you'll have a chance to read this book for yourself because I have an extra copy of The Magnolia League for giveaway. Here are the contest rules:
1. This contest opens today, May 16, and ends at midnight on May 23. 2. This contest is only open in the U.S. 3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. 4. To enter: simply leave a comment on this post. Please include your email address so I can contact you if you win. ...more
I will say, right off the bat, that I liked this book a lot better than the first volume in tThis book was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I will say, right off the bat, that I liked this book a lot better than the first volume in the series (Geist). I suspect this was because I knew the characters a bit better, or because I knew what to expect. There is romance in these books, but it's light and of the variety that makes me nervous about the likelihood of a happy ending. My enjoyment of this book was also due to the fact that I enjoyed the conflict. I'm fascinated by stories where people's religious fanaticism ultimately works against them. This is probably because I was raised by parents who were only fanatic about their fear of organized religion. It's probably akin to watching a car wreck. You can't look away. Spectyr picks up a few months after the end of Geist. Sorcha is trying to end her failed relationship with her former partner and husband Kolya. Unfortunately, Kolya doesn't want the relationship to end and he's hanging around. Therefore, it's almost a relief when a prophetic dream suggests that Raed, the Young Pretender's life could be in danger. Manufacturing an excuse, Sorcha and Merrick take off for the capital of Chioma, a land which appears to be modeled after the Turkish Empire. At least, its prince has a harem and the environment is a desert. Again, I'd've liked a map to help me sort out all these locations. Instead, I kind of just imagined Chioma being on the northern bit of Africa, facing the Mediterranean. Sorcha and Merrick find Raed, who has come to Chioma to rescue his sister. It's this very action, of course, that has put him in danger. A goddess has reawakened and she is determined to destroy the Rossin, whom she holds responsible for her imprisonment. Unfortunately, Raed and the Rossin are indivisible. Killing one means killing the other. Throughout the course of the book, we learn a little more about Merrick, which is nice. The first book focused on the bond that developed between Sorcha, Merrick and Raed. It also provided the conditions for Sorcha and Raed to become romantically involved. In Spectyr, we delve a little deeper into the lives and histories of these characters, but I still can't help wishing Ballantine had revealed more. Sorcha in particular remains a mystery. I'm unclear on how she became so cynical, which in turn makes it hard for me to believe that she was ever able to be married to Kolya at all. She reads as someone who would be as closed off from her husband as he supposedly was to her. In all, though, this is probably a series that I'll stick with. I like the writing, the dirigible, and, in particular, I like Merrick. I'm hoping that Nynnia doesn't absorbed his every romantic thought, though. Especially since there's potential for him in a character I like much better. I'm probably out of luck there....more
Now that I'm finished with the series, it's impossible for me to review Ascend withoutThis review was first published on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Now that I'm finished with the series, it's impossible for me to review Ascend without keeping the previous two books in mind. Of course, this is how a series works, right? Well, yes and no. In a good series, each volume stands up on its own and builds on the larger story arc. Unfortunately, that's not how many series books are written these days. More often than not, series books function as excuses for authors to write cliffhangers. Writing an ending that manages to complete the conflict in Book A while still compelling the readers to read Book B (and maintaining their interest in the Main Conflict [which arches from books A to D, or whatever]) takes serious talent. I'm not saying that I've never read a successful cliffhanger, or that I haven't enjoyed one, either. It totally have. What I'm trying to say, in my long-winded fashion, is that this isn't just going to be a review of Ascend, but of the Trylle Trilogy as a series. I said in my review of Torn that I felt that the first two books could have been condensed into one volume. What I realized in Ascend was that the love triangle was what made a total of three books necessary. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. I suspect that Hocking changed 'ships midstream. I was pretty sure I knew who Wendy was going to end up with by the time I was halfway through Torn. What I didn't know was how Amanda Hocking was going to be able to make it work when she'd entrenched Wendy pretty firmly in relationship with the other guy. Hence the three books. Which brings me to this point: A love triangle will never be enough to make up for plot filler. It just won't. Authors that ignore this fact give love triangles their bad rep. Well, among other things. Even worse, however, is that I'm convinced that Hocking herself knew who she wanted as Wendy's HEA and didn't know how to get rid of the spare. Basically, she wrote herself into a love triangle corner. (Note: As an argument against this theory, however, I've noticed that Hocking's other books also feature love triangles. So, she might just like them). Funnily enough, the greatest outcome of reading the Trylle books was how deeply it made me think about self-published novels versus, er, not. Hocking has a lot of potential, but here's the thing: The Trylle Trilogy read as three good self-published novels. But. I expected more once it got in the hands of a publishing house and, I assume, an editor. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't an editor like a personal trainer? It whips the soft, doughy mass of the first draft into the sculpted magnificence that is eventually published. (Not always, sadly, but that's another post.) That's the issue with a lot of self-pubs--and the benefit of getting published by someone else. The Trylle Trilogy could have greatly benefited from that kind of special attention, and because I read the St. Martin's Griffin print version, I feel justified in holding up the lack against the final product. I can't deny that, whatever problems I had with Amanda Hocking's bewildering plotting, her writing is readable. I can see why she's gained such a wide audience. I read the books and enjoyed them, but in a mild way. I won't be rereading them. This isn't a series I'd recommend to anyone, and I certainly wouldn't have bought the paperback versions for myself. I'm happy to report that the ebook versions are still $0.99, though, and you might be able to get them through the library. I think it will be interesting to see how Watersong turns out, and to see how shifting away from self-publishing will affect her writing....more
Trace of Fever was one of those books you come across where you aren't sure why you kept reThis review was first posted at http://www.rubysreads.com.
Trace of Fever was one of those books you come across where you aren't sure why you kept reading it, or why you find yourself wanting to read more by the author, but you do. It's hard to say why I keep picking up Lori Foster's books. Trace of Fever, in particular, falls into some of my least favorite Romance-novel traps. To begin with, the hero is pure evil. He's a scumbag, he's perverted, he kills people and is into human trafficking. Evil is his only dimension which, frankly, makes him uninteresting, and the demonstrations of his evilness gratuitous. If only it were always so easy to identify the bad guy. Also, Trace of Fever jumps right into the sexual tension. I hate that, and it never bodes well for the future of the relationship. There are also some ridiculous scenes that are supposed to be sexy, but strike me as more humiliating than anything else. Trace searches Priss to ensure she doesn't have a weapon. For some reason this includes relieving her of her bra. Then there's the scene where Priscilla is forced to model skimpy underwear for Trace and completely overcoming any embarrassment she might have felt, she decides to torture him at the same time. Um, okay. What? What woman--who has never worn so few clothes in the presence of a man before--has the self-confidence to do so with a man she's barely met? It doesn't jibe with Priss' character at all. Then again, what am I supposed to expect of a twenty-four year old virgin who runs a sex shop? I'll just say that if a guy I was attracted to did these things to me, I'd get over it pretty darn fast. Still, as I said, there's something compelling about these stories. I don't take them seriously. This is escapist fiction. It's a fantasy world populated by the Good and the Bad, both distinctly separate and easily identifiable. The men are rich mercenaries who, despite the fact that they basically get violent in exchange for money, are meant to be honorable. The women are the voluptuous vixens who love them. No, honestly, if it's your opinion that they do something else, please let me know. Sadly, knowing all of this doesn't mean I won't be reading Savor the Danger. I'm definitely inclined to revisit such a simple, fantastical world. Sometimes my eyes need the exercise of a repeated rolling. I don't want them to get fat....more
Eerie, awesome and utterly atmospheric, The Restorer is the Southern book I've been waiting for. I listened to the audio version, which means that I hEerie, awesome and utterly atmospheric, The Restorer is the Southern book I've been waiting for. I listened to the audio version, which means that I had the added pleasure of hearing the accents of the characters. Whether Khristine Hvam got them right or not, I don't know (though I noticed that she depended a bit too much on droppin' g's), but it tickled me.
The Restorer tells the story of lonely Amelia Gray, who makes her living as a graveyard restorer. It's not just a profession, though. Amelia can also see ghosts--a talent which comes at her peril. For the most part, though, Amelia has managed to keep herself safe from ghosts--until she meets Detective John Devlin.
The attraction is as immediate as it is unfortunate. Because Devlin is haunted by the ghosts of his dead wife and child. Too bad the dead body that shows up in the cemetery Amelia's been hired to restore means they keep running into each other.
With Gothic shades of Rebecca and a compelling mystery to boot, The Restorer captivated me. I listened to the entire book nonstop until I heard the last word. Then I headed back to Audible to get book two....more
I love the Kate Daniels books. I love, love, love them. I love them far more than the EdgeThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I love the Kate Daniels books. I love, love, love them. I love them far more than the Edge books. I don't love them as much as the Mercy Thompson books, but they run a close second. Both series have a kick-ass heroine. Though Kate is more kick-ass than Mercy, by far. After all, Kate is the genius with her sword. Speaking of Slayer, I loved this moment:
"Kate, I'm afraid the sword has to stay."
"Weapons are forbidden everywhere but the Pit level. You won't get through the door."
I sighed and put Slayer between the front seats. "Stay here. Guard the car."
Saiman shut the door. "Is the sword sentient?"
"No. But I like to pretend it is."
I could count the number of ways in which I love Kate, but it would take too long. I wish I could be half as kick-ass as she is but frankly, I don't stand a chance. Um, and I wouldn't have wanted her childhood anyway. Yeesh.
Okay, on to Magic Strikes. You may remember that in the last novel in the series, Curran made his intentions clear to Kate. Well, Magic Strikes picks up about four months later. Kate and the Beast Lord haven't really been in contact all that time, but that doesn't mean that she never thinks of him. And it becomes clear during the course of this novel that Curran hasn't stopped thinking about her, either. The slow burn of their romance both takes a back seat in this story and doesn't. It's like one more layer. Andrews doesn't focus on it. Plot isn't a device designed to get Kate and Curran together. Instead, it plays an element in the plot. It's important and whatever is between them colors how nearly all of the characters in this book act.
Magic Strikes begins with Kate being drawn into a pack intrigue--but one that is happening outside of Curran's control. This is a big issue, as Curran is the Alpha of Alphas. Nothing is supposed to happen outside of his control. But Kate stumbles upon something she can't avoid--something that involves Derek, the young werewolf boy that has become her friend. Kate is well aware of the risks of having friends. She lives dangerously and those around her tend to get killed. Furthermore, there is the secret that Kate has been keeping. It concerns her heritage and her destiny. If you have read any of the other novels, you can guess what I'm talking about. In Magic Strikes, we learn a lot of stuff about Kate that we were just itching to learn. The meat of Magic Strikes is Kate's struggle to remain an island--and realizing that she can't, exactly. Without meaning to, she has found people to care about. She's just that kind of person. She can't help it and even as she tries to prevent it from happening, she can't. No one will let her.
The main thrust of the novel surrounds a hellish gladiator-style tournament in which Kate's friend Derek has become involved. Kate agrees to do a favor for Derek, but it nearly gets him killed. Kate, wanting to avenge her friend, becomes involved in the plot to deceive Curran. She knows how angry this will make him--but that's part of the allure. Kate is frightened of her attraction to the Beast Lord. She knows that sleeping with him would destroy her credibility with the Order, but the bigger risk is giving him her heart. She is certain that he would break it as soon as she gave it to him. Going against him serves two purposes for Kate: the possibility of saving Derek and pushing the Beast Lord away and making certain he will no longer want her.
I've enjoyed the first two books in this series so much that I have been afraid that this intallment would disappoint me. It didn't. We learn more about Kate and there is, therefore, more to like. She tries to be hard, but we all know she's a big softy inside. That doesn't mean she isn't willing to fight for her friends--quite the opposite. Kate would go to the ends of the earth for those she cares about. What she doesn't realize is that they would do the same for her.
There's plenty of action in this book. I have to confess that the fight scenes were probably my least favorite part of the book. I like the meaty character-driven stuff. I was pleased to see more of Julie, and of Derek. I am not-so-secretly hoping those two get together when Julie is, you know, old enough. It could happen. More of Julie also means seeing more of Kate's mother/aunt side. She should totally be my aunt. How awesome is the scene where she picks Julie up at her school? We should all be so lucky. There is also the trademark Kate Daniels humor. She's funny even when she's at her lowest. I can envision her at working so hard she can't remember if she ate all the pie in her fridge. I can picture her concern for Slayer and her sword smoking when she thinks of the people who hurt Derek. You should read these books. Seriously. They're awesome. Wait, are you still here? Get thee to a bookstore for heaven's sake....more