I don't read many books either by male authors or with male protagonists. I don't particularly have to go out of my way to avoid this--I don't think I've ever come across a romance with a male narrator, the Urban Fantasy that I generally enjoy is written by women, and most Teen fiction has the female perspective. That said, I've never gone out of my way to look for a male lead. I tend to find myself highly suspicious of authors who write from the opposite perspective. Not that I think they have some kind of hidden agenda...it's more that I doubt they can create an authentic voice. Having read the Curse Worker books, I'm still unable to come to a conclusion. Cassel seems authentic to me, but I'm a female reading a female's interpretation of the male perspective. How much is my opinion worth? Totally not sure on that point. Regardless of the perspective, Holly Black has created a main character I love. Cassel is a good guy in a bad situation. Considering his family roots--and the things he's apparently done--it makes sense that he is unable to believe it about himself. During the course of Red Glove, he is forced to make the best of the few bad choices that are before him. Cassel's one of my favorite types of characters. Cassel is a con man, believing that he can pretend to be something he's not...a normal teenager. I think he's most afraid that he will be rejected by his peers the way that his brothers rejected him. He sees himself as the unwanted little brother who will do anything to be accepted. In Red Glove, we begin to learn that none of his peers view him that way. Girls like him because he's dangerous, and Cassel's own roommate was afraid of him when they first met. But it's clear that Cassel is that guy everyone wants to know. I think the reason that Holly Black is able to surprise us with this external view of Cassel is because of her use of first person narration. It's also really, really effective as a form of characterization. Cassel is so consumed with the image that he projects and the desire to keep everyone from knowing the real him that his view of others is skewed. And at the same time, Cassel is incredibly observant of others in the way only a con man can be. I'm all amazement at Holly Black's skill at characterization. Because not only is Cassel complex, I have no idea what's going on with his love interest, Lila, or his best friend Sam, or Danica and at the same time, I do. It's just like in real life. We think we know people--and to a certain extent, we do--but we'll never be privy to their inner thoughts. It's something that--no matter how good a con man Cassel is--he'll never be able to do. If there's any character that doesn't feel complex to me, it's Barron. Is he simply ambitious? Is he jealous of Cassel? That last one is my suspicion, and I'm hoping that Black gives us more grist for the mill in Black Heart. The other thing I greatly enjoy in the Curse Workers series is the world-building. The way that Holly Black created this world where it's completely normal for people to wear gloves all the time, where crime families are in charge and worker rights are being threatened. Have I mentioned how much I love the glove bit? I especially enjoy the scenes where Cassel is embarrassed at seeing someone's bare hands. Most of all, I'm pleased at how well this second book in the trilogy came out. Second installments in trilogies are infamous for being place-fillers, but it's clear that book three cannot happen without book two. So much occurs that both needed to, and that helps to move the story along. My only concern is that, well, I really, really want Cassel to have a happy ending. Because this is my first Holly Black, I don't know if she does them. So, I'm worried. Reassurance would be good. Cassel deserves it. (less)
I might not be in the best frame of mind in which to write a review of this book. I've been on a pretty strict diet of YA for a while now and, to be honest, I've been feeling the burn. So to speak. I love YA and, to be honest, I never would have thought that I could get sick of it--and I'm not, exactly--but I need a reprieve. That's why I broke down and read Serengeti Heat when I should have been glued to Shadow Walker. All that said, I will try to be as fair a reviewer as possible. If you should have a moment, you can leave me a comment telling me that I a) fell so wide of the mark that you're pretty sure I'm somewhere in the Pacific Ocean or b) scored a perfect reviewer's 9.9, 9.8, 10, 10, 10. Today, I'm going to use a reviewing technique I've seen on other blogs. It's basically a five-point review system. My five points are these:
1. Good Stuff 2. Bad Stuff 3. The Characters 4. The Romance 5. Anything Else?
I know. You're, like, totally jealous I thought the five point system up before you.
1. The Good Stuff
I liked Gabe. A lot. Even though he confused me and I wasn't sure what his motivations were or why he was so loyal to Az and Kristen. There's also some interesting world-building. liked the concept of there being an undead subculture in New York (though Neal Shusterman did it better in Unwind). I especially liked the separation of the five boroughs.
2. The Bad Stuff
Events in the story happen really fast and jump ahead in time. Also, the whole angels being about love and therefore it shouldn't be so unbelievable that one might be gay felt a little preachy. And doesn't really make sense given the reason for Az's fall. And I still don't really get what a Sider is. Is this going to be a series? But isn't "Upstairs" supposed to be all-knowing? How do they not know about the Siders? And, I had issues with the idea that confession is what makes the ultimate fall happen. Why aren't actions more important? And if love is so important, why doesn't that have more weight on people's (and angel's) decisions?
3. The Characters
I don't really like characters who become the center of the universe. I like some universal love of the heroine, but not so much that even the evil characters think she's ridiculously awesome, too. Eden inspired devotion in too many people for me to like her much. I especially didn't understand Gabe's love of Eden. Eden and Az--well, attraction explains that one. It would have made more sense to me if Gabe cared about Eden because he cared about Az. But he genuinely has affection for Eden, too. Az, I never had a sense of. He's the least explored character in the book. Which is probably why I was sad that Gabe was gay and therefore not an option for Eden. Sigh.
4. The Romance
The romance happens really fast. It's basically love at first sight. Whatever relationship developments between Eden and Az happens off-screen. The scenes we see between them leap forward to the time when their feelings for each other had matured and developed into love. Or so they say. Also, because Az is given so little characterization, I didn't get why Eden loved him so much. I totally would have been mooning over his gay best friend. Az just kind of mopes around and doesn't do anything. Gabe is all action and Az is broody man candy. Yawn.
5. Anything Else?
I'd really like to give this book another try in a different frame of mind. After writing all this down, I've realized that I didn't enjoy reading it. There were times when I was absorbed in a story, but I was definitely looking forward to finishing it so I could get onto reading River Marked. It's too bad that I had to pass it on to the next person in the book tour. I need to read some other reviews so I can get some perspective.(less)
Review first published on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return...� s Saturday and I� ve had a long day of shopping in the midst of the Christmas rush...moreReview first published on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return...� s Saturday and I� ve had a long day of shopping in the midst of the Christmas rush, so I� m going to keep this review short and sweet.[return][return]I might be overreacting after the disappointing reads I� ve muddle through this week, but I really enjoyed Unearthly. I didn� t really expect to. Angel stories aren� t my favorite, though I don� t hate them. This, however, was an angel story I could get behind. The narrator, Clara, is likable and far from perfect simply because she has angel blood. I also really enjoyed that the book took place in Jackson, Wyoming. Not a place you see featured in much teen fiction. I was pleased that the action moved pretty swiftly from California to this less well-known part of the US. After all, part of the fun of reading is armchair travel.[return][return]So, what did I like about it? Well, Clara for a start. She� s refreshingly flawed and this makes her a relate-able heroine. I also enjoyed the twist that Hand plays with the soulmates theme that pops up so often in Teen fiction. The whole book basically reflects on the question of what you� re supposed to do when the person your fated to be with doesn� t feel the same way? That� s a bit spoilery, but not too much, I think.[return][return]Clara� s two love interests are equally interesting, though I admit that I was rooting for Tucker the moment he sauntered on screen. Christian, the boy who features in Clara� s visions is the guy she moved to Wyoming to find. She� s understandably obsessed with him. Unfortunately, he� s got a girlfriend. No surprise there, since he� s the hottest guy in school. Things get even more complicated when Christian proves hard to get. I liked that as soon as Clara moved to town, he didn� t just forget his girlfriend.[return][return]The other love interest is Clara� s friend Wendy� s twin brother, Tucker. He� s good-looking and a hard worker. God, I liked that. He� s one of the have-nots in the socioeconomically divided Jackson, but he doesn� t have a chip on his shoulder about it. He simply finds work that gets him enough money for his needs. It� s probably the adult in me that found that so sexy. But, really, I liked Tucker and was rooting for Clara to get over mooning for Christian and notice who was right under her nose.[return][return]Hand had me racing to the end of the novel. I really, really wanted to see the outcome of Clara� s purpose and what all her visions meant. More than anything, though, I really wanted to know more about Clara� s mom. It� s clear from the get-go that she� s holding something back. There� s a lot about being an angel-blood that she� s not telling Clara� either because she can� t or she won� t. We don� t find out the answer in Unearthly� but breathe easy. There� s going to be a sequel. I can� t wait for it to come out.[return][return]Did I say something about short and sweet? Woops.(less)
I've been looking forward to this book as far back as the first event I had on my blog (Private School Paranormals Week), at which time I pestered Jennifer Estep to participate even though it was waaay too early for ARCs and such. She offered me some bonus material instead and I've been a fangirl ever since. There's also the fact that Jennifer Estep described the Mythos Academy books as a cross between Veronica Mars and Game of Thrones. I adore Veronica Mars so much that I have seen Kirsten Bell in every Romantic Comedy her agent convinced her to try. This is all just to say that I was born ready to love this book, and love it I did. I'm so very, very thrilled that Kiss of Frost comes out this year. December is only five months away. Woohoo! The first thing I loved about Touch of Frost was the setting. Mythos Academy is home to a group of teenagers possessed of mythical, magical powers. There are Valkyries, Spartans and Amazons--all warriors. Gwen, our heroine, is a bit lost in this atmosphere. She's not a fighter. Her only talent is psychometry--she can touch anything and pull memories and feelings from that object (or person). It's a talent that has its uses, but not necessarily in the Mythos crowd. Or at the last school she went to. The story itself is part Fantasy, part Mystery and all awesomesauce. As the mystery slowly unravels, we learn about Gwen, about Mythos and about the world that Estep has built. In one of my favorite aspects of first person narration, perspective allows the reader to understand things that Gwen can't yet fathom. It also allows us to get to know the supporting cast. In the beginning, Gwen is a solitary character. Our outsider's view makes sure we know that she won't be alone for long. Just as we know that Gwen--and her power--aren't as insignificant as she makes them seem. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a huge fan of first person narration. Jennifer Estep is particularly talented at making me feel like I'm inside Gwen's head, thinking along with her. The only complaint I have is that a couple of times Gwen refers to her own eyes as violet. As in, "I flicked my violet eyes across the room." This jerked me out of the narrative every time I read it. While I know my eyes are brown, I don't think about the fact unless I'm in front of the mirror. I think someone who wears a hoodie every day of the week would probably feel the same way. While there is a love interest for Gwen (can't wait to see where that's gonna head--love Logan), the primary relationship in this book is that which develops between Gwen and a Valkyrie girl named Daphne. It'll be great fun to see Gwen and Daphne figure out how to be friends. I have a feeling it's gonna be as awkward a beginning as any of its romantic counterparts. It's also nice to see friendships get some play in Teen fiction. Don't get me wrong--I love a romance--but Teen fiction doesn't need another star-crossed lovers/soulmates-at-sixteen story. Touch of Frost was one of my most highly anticipated titles of the summer and reading it has bumped the sequel to the top of my December can't-wait list. If you're looking for a Teen Paranormal that will restore your faith in the genre--look no further. Touch of Frost is a gem.(less)
I’m a well-established Maureen Johnson fan. I especially enjoy her travel fiction—Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, The Last Little Blue Envelope, and Girl at Sea. I was thrilled to learn that Johnson’s latest book would take place in a boarding school set in London. Talk about a fantasy setting. I practically hit the roof when I won an ARC from LibraryThing. Fortunately, my internal hype over the setting not only lived up to expectations, but so did everything else. The Name of the Star is a fantastic, absorbing, delicious read. I can’t wait for the next installment. No matter how stellar the setting, it wasn’t the only thing that worked for me. I loved Rory. I totally identified with her, her anglophilia, and the “research” she does before she travels to her new school and new country. She appreciates and notices all the little differences that delight me when I travel to a new country. She’s very much an outsider, by virtue of her analytical mind, and I often felt that her brain cranked in a way that’s very similar to my own. She has none of the annoying, self-effacing behavior that so many teen heroines have these days. She’s the first main character I’ve wanted to hang out with in a while. You know, if she weren’t fictional. Johnson also creates an enjoyable cast of supporting characters, each of whom has something to offer both Rory, and the story. The only exception to this is her love interest who, while pleasant, can’t hold a candle to the more sober, mysterious Stephen. I’m hoping this is purposeful and that we’re going to be treated with one of those oh so delicious slow burn romances. Please, Maureen, please! I also want to say that Ms. Johnson did a wonderful job crafting the relationships in The Name of the Star. In addition to insta-love in teen fiction, there’s also a preponderance of insta-best-friendships. I meet new best friends all the time, but they’re not really my best friends. They’re just people I have an immediate connection with. Becoming close with someone takes more time than that, and is rarely (never?) so completely cemented so quickly in real life. Rory’s relationships develop, morph, deepen through the course of the novel, but because of shared experiences, confidences and the passage of time. I loved that. Finally, there’s the plot. Ms. Johnson totally played me on this score. I was two steps behind the entire time. I’m not generally a fan of Jack the Ripper stories, but I liked the way that Ms. Johnson approached it. Her book isn’t a exploitation of a century old unsolved murder, but an exploration of why it captivated audiences then, and why it continues to captivate now. As far as the supernatural plot goes, that worked for me too. A lot of it strikes me as setup for the rest of the series, but I’m not complaining. Johnson does it skillfully and logically. She ties in loose ends and weaves in seemingly unimportant elements like the master she is. Frankly, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you find yourself disillusioned by Teen Paranormals, I suggest you pick up The Name of the Star. It’ll remind you why you liked the genre so much to begin with. (less)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a title I was initially excited about based solely on its location. I mean--Prague! Top of my list of places I would love to visit. I was pleased to receive a review copy, especially when the positive (dare I say glowing?) reviews started popping up on the blogosphere. Logan, for example, basically told me our friendship would definitely suffer if I didn't like it. You will, therefore, never hear me say such a thing. However, Logan's threat aside, I really did enjoy The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. In fact, I loved it. It has it all--characterization, setting, plot, and romance. Swoon. Karou is a fantastic heroine. She's heroic, but not unbelievably so. She's not out to save the world, but she will fight to save those she loves. And as good as her intentions generally are, she's only 17, which means she has the tendency to be childish and immature. She doesn't always consider the consequences of her actions, but when they prove to be devastating, she doesn't shy from what she considers to be her responsibilities or to try to do what she can to make reparations. Karou's romantic interest is just as alluring. Akiva is an angel, the Romeo to Karou's Juliet. I mean, seriously--talk about tall, dark and tortured. Also a bit stalkery. In the good, non-creepy way. At first, Akiva is genuinely confused about his feelings for Karou. He doesn't understand why he is so drawn to her. His confusion is endearing. But, then, I love heroes who think they have no feelings only to have the heroine show them how very wrong they are. I knew I was going to love the setting of Daughter of Smoke and Bone even before I read it. If I wanted to visit Prague before I read this book, I can only say that the feeling has intensified tenfold. I love the cafe where Karou and her friend Zuzana hang out, and I love the old-world city that Taylor depicts. Other locations--Paris and London included--have sparks of charm, but in the end feel fairly modern. I'll be sad when the story really turns its back on Prague, which it essentially did at the end of the book. Still, I have enough faith in Taylor's world-building to believe that wherever she takes us next will be equally spectacular. To say much about the plot of Daughter of Smoke and Bone would be to give it away. I think I can say that most of it revolves around the mystery of Karou's existence. She was raised by a chimaera named Brimstone, for whom she runs dangerous errands involving the retrieval of teeth. It's a story with lots of mysteries. What are the teeth for? Who were Karou's parents? And what's the deal with all of her tattoos, and the fact that her hair grows blue from the root? When you get the answers to these questions, you'll be shocked, delighted and horrified at the same time. I promise. More than anything, though, you'll be dying to read the next book in the series. Too bad it doesn't come out until September of 2012. Don't worry--together, we'll make it through. 5 Points: I would move in with this book.(less)
When I found out that Mary Jo Putney was joining the ever-growing list of authors writing for the YA adult market, I practically did a song and dance. You see, Thunder and Ashes just about tops my list of favorite romances. I haven't read much Mary Jo lately, but I was one-hundred percent behind her getting into the Teen action. Um...that came out wrong. I meant--aw, forget it. Dark Mirror begins with a group of socially influential men deciding that, while they find magic useful, they'd rather it be the province of the lower classes. The men talk, share bad experiences, and scheme to make all outcasts high-born individuals with magical abilities. I'll be frank with you. I hated this scene. It smacked of exposition. How often do men get together and plan the social ruin of an entire population of people? It reminded me of a thousand bad Regencies I've read over the years, and it was not a good note on which to start the novel. I'd have much rather read a more generalize history of how magic became socially unacceptable than have a group of skeevy old men sit around a table and spoon-feed me the exact details. The story then shifts to about two hundred years later. The heroine, Tory, has manifested her magical powers. They are a great shock to her, and she resolves to hide them so deeply that no one will ever know she has them. When hiding them doesn't work, Tory is rejected by family and friends alike, and sent to Lackland Academy, where society's elite send their children to be "cured" of magic. As a character, Tory was all over the place. Initially she wants only to cured and to return to her old life. But even while she's thinking that, she joins a secret society of students who are embracing their magical talents in the hopes of defending England against Napoleon's invasion. But before Tory even has a chance to address this dichotomy, she's whisked through a magical mirror that sends her forward through time. She ends up in WWII England, where her country is facing a different invasion--the Nazis. This element of the story totally confused me. I didn't really see why Tory and Co. had to travel to the future to learn that magic could be valuable as a tool of defense in a time of war. As I've already mentioned, Tory's England is also on the cusp of war. The time travel aspect felt like a ploy to try to get the characters into a more modern frame of thinking while ensuring that they still retained some Regency-era formality. I also didn't connect to any of the characters in the book. For one thing, there were far, far too many. Some of them were interchangeable. Jack and Nick, come to mind the most easily. Tory was a little too good to be true. She's sweet, thoughtful, giving, but stands up for herself and others. As for Allarde, I don't even particularly want to read his backstory, because he didn't do much for me. Which is a shame, as I'm a sucker for a marquis. Yum. And I totally rolled my eyes whenever he and Tory did non-verbal eye communication. Mac and Barrons did it soooo much better. Before I end this review, I have to talk about the time travel aspect of this book. I'm not a fan of time travel books. They don't tend to work for me. This time, though I was intrigued by the twist--Tory travels into the future and not the past. I wanted to see how that would work out. Only it didn't. Tory and Co. adjusted far too easily to modern life. After very little time they're accustomed to electricity, plumbing, the wireless and automobiles. The girls are wearing knee-high skirts and never speak of embarrassment. Huh, what? They come from a time when it was scandalous to let a man see your ankle. I think that, if I were transported one hundred and thirty odd years into the future, I'd be pretty freaked out. It would be more than a few days for me to adjust to technology I can't even fathom right now. I started this book with high expectations, and I'm sorry to say that it didn't live up to them. I will be honest enough to say that I saw enough of Small Review's review to know that she didn't love it, either. I promptly averted my eyes, I promise, but I want you to know that knowing that probably had some influence on my reading. Generally, I don't like to look at other people's reviews until after I write my own, for this very reason. Teen Regencies aren't exactly thick on the ground. If you like that sort of thing, please go check out Melissa Doyle's Bewitching Season. I adored it. I wasn't crazy about the sequel, but I'm looking forward to book three in the series, Magic in Season. Follow the link to read the description. No book cover yet, here's hoping!(less)
I first saw this book a few weekends ago, featured on a shelf of new Teen books. It caught my eye because of its flashy cover. My high school English teacher told me that red was the color that catches the eye the most and that publishers use this knowledge when designing book covers. Well, I guess he was right. The Eternal Ones has a red cover and I bought that. Now I'm also the proud owner of Delcroix Academy. Those publishers must have been polling an audience of one: me.
But before I get ahead of myself, here's the blurb:
Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just...happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, belieiving this way she can supress her powers and keep them hidden.
But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses--not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.
And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her "gift" than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it...But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.
The only reason I did not pick up this book immediately was because it was in hardcover and I have to keep myself to a limit of two hardcovers per week. Otherwise they add up to an empty pocket book. This isn't a hard and fast rule. I've been known to break it. I'm weak when it comes to books. But I was able to resist that first weekend because I have a blog now. It's like becoming a parent. (Not really.) I have responsibilities now. Reading responsibilities. I knew that I wouldn't have time to read one more book that first week--and how right was I? I'm still making up for the post blog-inauguration (bloguration?) shopping spree I went on. Well, any excuse will do when talking about book splurges.
Okay, okay, time to get down to the review:
Ahem. Delcroix Academy takes place in the small town of Danville, somewhere not too far from Seattle, Washington. Right away, there's a bonus point for this book. It doesn't take place in New York City! I love NYC. I've been there multiple times. But it would be nice if more people wrote about other places in the world, let alone the United States. Unfortunately, most of the action of Delcroix takes place inside the academy's walls. We don't learn much about Danville--or Seattle, for that matter. This novel is both a mystery and a paranormal. The narrator is Dancia Lewis, a fifteen year old girl who is average in all things--except her telekinetic ability. Since Dancia was fairly young, she has tried to hide by making herself as unnoticeable as possible. All her careful scheming turns out to have failed because someone has noticed her--the recruiter for the prestigious Delcroix Academy. Delcroix is that school where all the rich, smart people go. You have to be asked to attend and once you get in, its like being in a clique. You're set for life. You've got connections.
So Dancia, having worked so hard at being average, is immediately suspicious. Why would such an elite academy be recruiting someone like her? Dancia's never let on that she's telekinetic. In fact, she's tried to suppress the ability and ignore it when she can't. But Delcroix--and the hot guy who comes along to encourage Dancia to say yes to the recruiter--proves too tempting. Before Dancia knows it, she's moving into the dorm and making friends. For the first time in her life, she doesn't push people away.
The problem is that Dancia has been playing the role of the average teenage girl for so long that she's sold herself on the story. She doesn't really know what she's doing at Delcroix. Everyone seems to have a niche except her. Which, of course, makes her worry that someone at Delcroix Academy somehow found out about the only thing that is special about her. That thing she's tried so hard to keep secret--her telekinesis. Her suspicions are made worse by the second boy she meets--Jack. Jack is another poor, not especially talented student just like Dancia. And he seems to have a special ability of his own. Jack and Dancia become friends because they share a connection, they understand each other in a way that Dancia's never experienced before. But all this is confused with Dancia's feelings for the boy she met first--Cam. Then there's the fact that Cam keeps warning Dancia away from Jack. It's all very confusing for a fifteen year old girl.
I never really trusted Dancia as a narrator. She was naive and a little too into self-deception. I also didn't like the way she began to avoid Jack because she didn't want Cam to see them together. Dancia basically treats Jack like crap throughout most of the novel. Furthermore, we are repeatedly told that she and Jack "get" each other and that Jack makes her laugh and he's really an important part of her life. But that's all-we're told these things and never shown them. The only interactions Scott records between the two of them are the ones that paint a shady picture of Jack's past or as the "bad boy" in the inevitable love triangle. The same thing happens between Dancia and Cam--the development of their friendship happens off screen. All the talking and connecting they do in our presence has relevance to the plot. Which is great, but boring. I don't really feel like I know anything about any of the characters. I mean, Jack's the bad boy and he's been in a gang and he's lived on the streets. But what else? Where's his depth? Does he like or dislike anything? What about Cam? I think he's athletic, but I'm not 100% sure. And what about Dancia? Well, she's as drab and boring as she's spent so much time pretending to be. I have an idea about what she looks like, but she doesn't have any of the quirks or special interests that make a character interesting. These are one-dimensional characters. The good news is, this is the first book in the series. The bad news is: this is the first book in the series.
As for the plot, I pretty much had it figured out from the beginning. I knew who was good and who was "bad" and what the "big secret" was. Do you like it when I use so many quotation marks? Good. I guess you could say this book kind of bored me. Even Dancia's internal struggle--how to deal with the responsibility of having so much power--was predictable. My hope is, however, that this is only the prologue for the series. Scott has plenty to work with here. Maybe it was her publisher's idea to break it all down into tiny bits. I just wish they'd printed it in paperback. (less)
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 f...moreOriginally 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.(less)
This review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I am very excited to present my first review as part of a Dark Faerie Tales ARC...moreThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.[return][return]I am very excited to present my first review as part of a Dark Faerie Tales ARC Tour. I was the first up for reading Fallen Angel and I admit that my squeeing was probably pretty loud when it was delivered. I felt so official, being part of a tour. It� s like being able to sit at the grown-ups table. Or something. Okay, on with the review.[return][return]The last angel book I read was one I loved. Remember Unearthly? Great book, lovely story. Terrell is another author having a go at the newest act in town. The first issue I� d like to address is the title. It� s basically a spoiler in itself. Ellie, the heroine, and Michael, her hero, spend a great deal of the novel thinking they might be vampires. More on why later. But from the title, we know they� re not. Therefore, the suspense isn� t there for the readers. We know before we get to the first page what kind of supernatural being Ellie is going to be. So, all the time devoted to question of � are they vampires or aren� t they?� seems unnecessary. I have read novels where the reader knows more than the characters in the story and this has made the story even juicier, but this was not the case in Fallen Angel. I� ve been contemplating why this is so, and I thinks it� s because the novels that pull off the � readers know more� trick are often holding back something even more delicious. Not so Fallen Angel. The ultimate reveal in the book isn� t particularly exciting or enthralling. In fact, I was kind of disappointed because it fell so much in line with what I� d predicted.[return][return]I mentioned Ellie and Michael, the hero and heroine, and they are the center of the book. It opens with Ellie starting a new year of school and on that fateful day, she meets Michael. Their relationship does not start well, as Michael claims to know Ellie from a summer both of them spent in Guatemala. Ellie doesn� t remember meeting Michael before and suspects that he is playing a joke on her. Soon, though, Ellie and Michael can� t deny their attraction to each other and they� re spending all their time together. Ellie and Michael� s connection comes from the fact that they share supernatural abilities: both can fly and both get � flashes� of memory from people through touch. They can also get memories from the sharing of blood, which they do every time they kiss. Ellie and Michael� s relationship wavers all over the proverbial street. Sometimes it� s regular high school stuff, like going to a school dance. At other times, it� s gross kissing with the exchange of blood. Oh, and lots of flying. By and large, unfortunately, it wasn� t a relationship that really did much for me. I found myself hoping that Michael would have competition in the bad guy, but he turned out to be just as uninteresting.[return][return]I also have to admit I was pretty squigged out by all the blood exchanging. Especially when Ellie licks someone� s blood from a tissue. I understand why she did it: for the information. But, still, gross. I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. At any rate, however, you can see why Ellie and Michael begin to think they might be vampires. The truth, of course, is far more complicated. Ellie and Michael are something far different from vampires. They� re& well, I can� t give everything away, now can I?[return][return]Fallen Angel is the first book in a series. And like all first books, it has unanswered questions. That� s part of what draws people back for the next book. Unfortunately, a lot of my questions were like these:[return]Things I Wondered About That Distracted Me From the Story:[return][return] 1. Why did Ellie not wonder how she was going to get to London without having a passport or the fact that she was underage?[return] 2. Why don� t Ellie and Michael ever consider the possibility of contracting blood-born diseases when they contemplate tasting other peoples� blood?[return] 3. Why did Ellie never reflect/comment on the fact that she shared the same last name of Fanueil Hall, even when she was near it while she was in Boston?[return] 4. Why does Ellie never ask Michael about their first meeting in Guatemala?[return] 5. Why is Ruth friends with Ellie?[return][return]Ellie does stuff that is meant to illustrate her goodness. The most outlandish example of this is too spoilery for me to write about here. But it baffled me. I can� t help but think it was the worst way possible for her to handle the situation. It didn� t really accomplish anything, except to make Ellie more isolated. It didn� t fix the problem or make things right. It was meant to be selfless, but I thought it was kind of stupid.[return][return]When I closed the last page on this book, I was dissatisfied. I was so frustrated by endless nitpicky questions that I was unable to enjoy reading the book. Also, I felt like too few questions were answered for me to make sense of the story. Writers of series books walk a fine line with each installment in a series. They have to leave readers suitably satisfied with each installment, but still craving the next. It was like Terrell was trying so hard to keep her readers guessing that she ended up leaving them completely in the dark. If I read the next book in the series, I hope Terrell will provide some illumination. Also, I think she could benefit from joining a writers� group, one that can pose questions like the ones I listed above. That kind of support is invaluable.(less)
It's unlikely that I will ever hate a Nalini Singh book. My love of the Psy-Changeling books will carry me through any less than satisfactory tale she might tell. I don't mean to imply that Archangel's Blade wasn't a good book--it was. It entirely revived my interest in the Guild Hunter books, which have always taken a back seat to her other series. For me, anyway. In the first three Guild Hunter books, Raphael and Elena were center stage. But Raphael's right hand, Dmitri made appearances in all three books. He was the slightly malevolent but essentially good character you go all dreamy over because he's "the bad boy". And goodness knows we love a bad boy. Dmitri also houses another male cliche--he's that guy with the tortured past. Between these two characteristics, he's had a legion of (female) admirers since we first met him in Archangel's Blood. In the first three Guild Hunter books--and, indeed, in this one--Dmitri comes off as a cold-hearted you-know-what. Archangel's Blade being his book, we get the opportunity to delve into his psyche, and to learn what events are responsible for him having so thoroughly closed off his human side. The truths that are revealed are so devastating you begin to think of him as well-adjusted. Archangel's Blade also tells the story of a Guild Hunter named Honor. On the surface, this vampire and this hunter have very little in common--except, of course, a mutual attraction. Furthermore, Honor was abducted and tortured by some vampires not so long ago, and so she's understandably wary around Dmitri. He may be good-looking, but he has a reputation for mixing pain and pleasure and Honor, scarred as she is, wants no part of it. In typical Nalini Singh-hero-fashion, Dmitri doesn't see this as an obstacle and commences pursuit. What evolves between these two is more than either of them bargained for, and because this is a Nalini Singh book--that's a wonderful thing. While I enjoyed my reading of this novel, I guessed the twist fairly early on in my reading. Which would have been fine, except that the hints felt clumsy instead of like admirable foreshadowing. And then, when all the details came to light, I wanted a better ending for these two. Spoiler:(view spoiler)[Specifically, I was upset that they won't be able to have children, after what they had lost. (hide spoiler)] I also got really worked up over the fact that (view spoiler)[Honor had to go through rape and torture twice! (hide spoiler)] In the end, though I whizzed through Archangel's Blade, the love story didn't completely satisfy me. I did enjoy seeing Raphael and Elena from another perspective. I'm also greatly looking forward to Venom and Poison's book--I'm going out on a limb here, but I think they're meant for each other. I know I'm going to have to wait for it, but hey--I've learned that with Nalini Singh, the waiting is definitely worth it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Warning: This review is a bit spoilery. Not for the end, but for certain facts which are not known at the beginning of the novel, but are learned shortly thereafter.
Okay, confession time: There are two things that can clinch a book purchase for me: when there's a character named Ruby and when the heroine is 5'2". I tend to take these facts as signs that I'm meant to read the book I hold in my hands. Of course, characters named Ruby don't necessarily meet good ends. Take the Ruby in the Anne books. First she's a silly flirt and then she dies of consumption when she's, like, 19. Still, the Anne books are worth Ruby's death, IMHO. Since you can tell from the description that the heroine's name is not Ruby, you might have already guessed that she is a fabulous 5'2" I was sort of casually reading this book before I reached the physical description page. After that, I kept wanting to get back to it. The only problem is that the Kindle button is still absent from NetGalley and I had to read it on my computer, at home. I couldn't pick it up whenever I had a free moment. You'd be surprised how much reading you can get done during various pockets of time during the day. At any rate, I liked Willow, the heroine. I was excited by her interest in mechanics--though it's not something I share. I like heroines that have talents in stereotypically masculine areas. Willow's also something of an outsider in her town, but it doesn't bother her. She knows she's different and she's fine with it. She lives with her pack rat of an aunt and a mother that's basically catatonic. All of that changes when, one day she's approached by a fellow student who wants her to do a "reading". Willow, in addition to her talents with automobiles, is psychic. It's a talent that she uses to help people, and when she discovers that her classmate's fate is intertwined with a mysterious, malevolent figure, she doesn't hesitate to warn her. Willow's warning, however, sets off a string of events that put her life in danger. Willow's perspective of the story is told in the first person. Her narrative is broken by Alex's third person narrative. I'm not certain why Weatherly decided to do this, since it means that we don't get to know Alex as intimately as Willow. This story is both of theirs, and it's also the story of their romance. It's a classic star-crossed lovers situation. Alex is an angel killer. Willow is part angel. Despite an initial animosity between these two, they quickly fall in love. I found myself wondering why Weatherly forced their relationship forward at the speed she did. Especially given the fact that this is a trilogy. Willow and Alex have a time in which to develop their relationship--and as someone who enjoys a good slow-burn romance, I think it's too bad she didn't. I enjoyed this book. The writing is a bit clunky at times, especially during Jonah's parts. Willow and Alex get over their differences in a realistic way--they talk about stuff. But, while it's realistic, it's not particularly exciting. I like the idea of a twist on the usual idealized angel concept, and I'm interested in seeing how the rest of the story plays out.(less)