By turns fascinating and boring, this is certainly a unique perspective on the abdication of Edward VIII. The ending leaves much to be desired, howeveBy turns fascinating and boring, this is certainly a unique perspective on the abdication of Edward VIII. The ending leaves much to be desired, however, as it gives no information on the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Literally...not a detail to be had. ...more
There is something eminently satisfying about reading Laura Florand's stories. I wasn't expecting to like The Chocolate Thief as much as I enjoyed theThere is something eminently satisfying about reading Laura Florand's stories. I wasn't expecting to like The Chocolate Thief as much as I enjoyed the other books in this series, but the Parisian setting and the abundant chocolate won me over. The Chocolate Thief isn't my favorite book in the Amour et Chocolat series, but I did gobble up with almost as much enthusiasm as I did the rest. It was kind of fun to go back and learn about Cade and Sylvain's story after having met them in subsequent books. The Chocolate Thief shows the promise of all the elements I love in the later books, but doesn't quite achieve that glorious peak of perfection....more
Read solely for Laura Florand's story. I think I loved it almost more than any other story. The heroine is one I like in small doses, so that makes heRead solely for Laura Florand's story. I think I loved it almost more than any other story. The heroine is one I like in small doses, so that makes her perfect for a short story. Elle is effervescent and a trifle dishonest but lots of fun. The summer in Paris setting set me aching to travel--heck, to live in the City of Lights, even if it means renting a garret apartment no bigger than a bathroom. And, heck, if it means landing a French chocolatier, well...isn't that the dream?...more
HOLY COW. I ate this book up like it was MADE of chocolat instead of ABOUT chocolate. I mean–seriously! IThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
HOLY COW. I ate this book up like it was MADE of chocolat instead of ABOUT chocolate. I mean–seriously! I think I started it on a Thursday night and finished it on the following Friday–and it only took me that long because I had to go to work. *Glares at work.* It was a stay-up-until-my-eyes-burn-with-sleep kind of read, which is surprising since I haven’t read much contemporary romance in the last couple of years. Even though I really enjoyed The Chocolate Kiss (book 3) it didn’t compare my love of Dom and Jaime’s story.
To start with, I need to warn you that there’s clearly some backstory that I missed out on. I haven’t read The Chocolate Thief, but I know enough about it to understand that Jaime is the sister of the female half of the couple featured in that book. I don’t think I necessarily had to have read Cade and Sebastian’s story, and nothing is really spoiled, but events are Mentioned. I actually think not knowing Jaime’s history (which I assume occurred during the events of Thief) enhanced things for me, but I guess I’ll never really know for sure.
Florand is a master at creating alpha heroes that are also incredibly vulnerable. And romantic. And sexy. Dominique goes to see his therapist for lessons on how to be in a relationship, for heaven’s sake. And he feeds Jaime dark chocolate repeatedly. (The Chocolate Kiss focused on macarons. Dom’s specialty is dark chocolate–which, honestly, is just another mark in its favor as far as I’m concerned.) Sex, food and Paris are so intrinsically linked in a Laura Florand novel that each book is a sensual overload. I mean, I’ve always wanted to move to Paris, but Laura Florand has me packing my bag and running for the nearest international airport.
Despite the fantasy of a holy trinity (chocolate, Paris and love) The Chocolate Touch, doesn’t end with a perfectly tidy happily-ever-after. Yes, the main couple ends up together (these are romances, after all), but both Dom and Jaime have issues that are too complex to be resolved in the span of one novel. And while there’s part of me that enjoys the fantasy that Love Cures All, I like these unresolved endings better. I wouldn’t buy it if getting married cured Dom of all his anxieties over being loved and and an engagement ring isn’t going to make Jaime forget the awful thing that happened to her. Love can help–but it can do all the healing.
Even if you’re not a contemporary romance fan, I highly suggest you run out and buy something by Laura Florand. I promise she will not disappoint....more
Delightful, fun and quick. I enjoyed almost every minute of it. I admit that I felt the part where the main characters, Magalie and Philippe, took turDelightful, fun and quick. I enjoyed almost every minute of it. I admit that I felt the part where the main characters, Magalie and Philippe, took turns refusing to try the others' food started to get old. Then, thankfully, they made progress. Loved the love story, but also Magalie's personal storyline....more
Sapphire Blue picks immediately after Ruby Red ended, and I bring this up because it’s been over a year sThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Sapphire Blue picks immediately after Ruby Red ended, and I bring this up because it’s been over a year since I read the latter. Being dumped right back into the story as though I had just come from the last page of Ruby Red was disconcerting and confusing. In other words, not a great start. While I was struggling to recall the events at the end of Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue continued full steam ahead. It was enough to make me wonder which is the worse offense: zero recapping of the events of the previous book…or too much recapping? I still don’t know, but I can tell you that neither method satisfies.
In addition to feeling like I’d been dumped in the middle of someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, the narrator, Marisa Carlin, rubbed me the wrong way at first. In all, my initial impressions of Sapphire Blue were not favorable. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to stick it out. My memory caught up with the story and Carlin’s vocal talents grew on me. By the end of the book, I was railing against the publishing system that is determined to put so. Much. Time between installments in a trilogy. ESPECIALLY SINCE EMERALD GREEN HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED. *Takes deep, calming breaths*
In Ruby Red, we were introduced to Gwen, and Gwen found out that she–and not her obnoxious cousin Charlotte–was the one that had inherited the time-traveling gene in her family. As a result, Gwen missed out on the extensive training that Charlotte received and no one thinks she is up to the task of being the Ruby. While I greatly enjoyed Gwen, and this book, I was sick of everyone undervaluing her all the darn time. Even more important to me than Gwen showing all these people just how wrong they are, is my need to see Gwen demand common respect from those she works with. It’s true that Gwen is ignorant of a lot of information that she needs to have as a time traveler, but that does not mean that anyone has the right to be so rude.
Which leads me into another tirade. Gwen’s love interest is Gideon. The two have intense, believable chemistry, but Gideon is a jerk. He’s among those that undervalue Gwen–which is a GINORMOUS no-no in my book of desirable hero traits. Also, he yanks her around, emotionally speaking, and flirts with Charlotte. I suspect we’re going to learn that he has “reasons” for his behavior, but he’s another one that I wish Gwen would tell off. He’s going to have lots of ‘splaining to do in book three, and even then, I suspect I’ll still want him to do some serious groveling.
So. With all those complaints, how was it possible to like this book? It just was. The premise is intriguing and there’s plenty of mystery around to distract you from sh**** side characters. Xemerius, Gwen’s pet gargoyle, is hoot, and something like the conscience on her shoulder. If your conscience is slightly rascalacious. And Gwen’s best friend Lesley–not to mention most of her family (Charlotte and her mother excluded)–are heart-warmingly supportive. Then there’s the light, humorous note that threads its way throughout the book. It reminds me a little of Helen Field’s Bridget Jones books, though decidedly less manic and not as self-depreciating. Still, it’s that comedic tendency that draws me to Gier’s writing. I surely hope she has more stories sitting on her back burner, because after Emerald Green comes out, I’ll be wanting more!...more
I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about self-published books. And All the Stars is theThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about self-published books. And All the Stars is the kind of book I’m always searching for, regardless of who published it. Well-written, tightly plotted and titillatingly characterized, here lies a masterwork. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that this book hasn’t gotten more buzz. I heard about it on The Booksmuggler’s blog (it was featured on their Radar and then Ana reviewed it), but it was sheer happenstance that I saw it on NetGalley. I requested it on a whim–everyone probably knows by now that I’m on a NetGalley ban–and was lost in the story before I even knew it.
And All the Stars tells the story of Madeline Cost (not Maddie, Leina only to her cousin Tyler), and how she survives the apocalypse by shucking her loner status and binding together with a motley crew of teenage survivors. As the story opens, Madeline is in an underground station, at the center of the apocalypse. Unbeknownst to her parents, Madeline snuck away from home to meet her cousin Tyler at his Sydney apartment. Too bad this act of rebellion coincided with the apocalypse. All over the world, in the most populated cities, mysterious spires have erupted from the ground. These spires (which I imagine look like the Swiss Re building in London, left) are like ginormous mushrooms. They’ve sprouted from the ground and emit a thick cloud of dust (to continue the mushroom analogy, I thought of them like spores).
Madeline escapes the underground station and makes it to her cousin’s Sydney apartment only to experience dramatic changes as a result of inhaling the dust. Most of her body turns midnight blue, dusted with sparkling white stars (the cover makes sense now, doesn’t it?). Her metabolism drastically quickens and she discovers that she has new, frightening powers. Maddie’s instinct is to huddle up and wait, but it’s the hunger that drives her out, where she meets a string of teens also affected by the dust.
Among these teens, Madeline discovers the girl who will become her best friend and the boy who just may be first love. Unfortunately, they’re all on the run for their lives. Those spires, it turns out, are the work of an alien race intent on using humans for their survival. Though Madeline (as the one with the most “stain” on her body), is the aliens’ most-wanted human, the bewildered group of teens bands together and forms a close-knit group. This, perhaps more than the apocalyptic storyline, is the heart of And All the Stars.
Before I give anything else away, I better shut up. I couldn’t possibly unveil all the layers of this book in one review. I wouldn’t even want to. Like all good books, it’s a thing best discovered for yourself. There are a few curious elements (cell service and electricity during the apocalypse?!?!) and the epilogue is a bit schmaltzy and baby-studded, but well-deserved. Just trust me when I say that this is the book to cure your apocalyptic ennui. Think you’re over them? Think again!...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
I’ll be honest: after Hawke and Sienna’s book (Kiss of Snow), my interest in the Psy-Changeling series kiThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’ll be honest: after Hawke and Sienna’s book (Kiss of Snow), my interest in the Psy-Changeling series kind of waned. Don’t get me wrong–I wasn’t about to miss any book Nalini Singh chose to bestow upon the reading world–but KoS was the culmination of nine volumes of highly charged foreplay. There was no way that Tangle of Need could live up to that kind of promise. In a way, though, I appreciate the space that Tangle of Need gave me. It was the right kind of book to come after Kiss of Snow. There’s no way I’d have been able to appreciate Heart of Obsidian as much as I did if it had been book eleven instead of twelve. Which would have been a travesty because Heart of Obsidian is a fantastic read.
Hawke and Sienna’s book was nine volumes in the making, but I’ve been anticipating Kaleb’s story almost as long. The waiting was different, though, because I knew that Hawke and Sienna were meant to be each other’s HEA. In Kaleb’s case, it was more a matter of worrying that his heroine would be worthy of the character. Another difference was that, throughout the series, we’ve been privy to a moment or two of Hawke and Sienna’s perspectives, but never Kaleb’s. He was an enigma–and if you know anything about me, you know I love a man of mystery. I don’t usually worry too much about cover and blurb reveals, but the strip tease method of slowly revealing information about Heart of Obsidian had me checking Nalini’s blog almost every day. I agonized over how much information (if any) I wanted to know about the book before I read it.
In the end, all I really knew about HoO before I read it was that Kaleb was the hero and that the identity of the Ghost was revealed in the book. I knew I was getting a review copy from the publisher because I had participated in the tour, but when it didn’t come by the publication date, I was kind of relieved. I was more nervous about reading it than I had ever realized! Still, when it came, I didn’t hesitate to dive into what turned out to be a book to rival my love of Kiss of Snow. I’d thought KoS would never have any real competition–but how wrong I was! (Note: Hawke 4-Eva!)
Heart of Obsidian sizzles with romantic and sexual tension–this is a Nalini Singh novel, after all–but it’s also a game-changer for the Psy-Changeling series. Nalini packs so much into this one book that you’ll turn page after page until the end suddenly smacks you in the face. And, incidentally, makes you wail with despair because you have to wait so long for the next book. I, personally, want to kick the Guild Hunter books in the shins because I suspect they’re holding up the Psy-Changeling series. Except then I’d have to wait longer for Venom’s book. Unacceptable.
When I reflect on how much I love the Psy-Changeling books, I tend to focus on the romance. Heart of Obsidian does the romance stunningly well, but also highlights Nalini’s skill in world-building. I love (lovelovelove) series books with over-arcing storylines and Nalini Singh is the Queen, Empress, Goddess of that particular skill. HoO also puts paid to my preference for Changeling heroes. I’ve always liked them best, but after Hawke (*dreamy smile*), Kaleb is definitely my favorite. Complex, ferociously protective and on intimate terms with his dark side, Kaleb is a prime candidate for a Book Boyfriend. He’s also lucky enough to have powerful, passionate heroine that perfectly suits him.
In conclusion: I loved this book. I’d recommend the entire Psy-Changeling series based on the fact that it builds up to this one. Just think of it–if you start this series now, that’s twelve delightful books you’ll be able to read in a row. If you’ve already read every book in the series except Heart of Obsidian, don’t worry. It’s as good as your wildest dreams hoped it would be....more
Doomed was a book I wanted to like, but couldn’t. The premise is entirely promising–an update of the clasThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Doomed was a book I wanted to like, but couldn’t. The premise is entirely promising–an update of the classic Greek Pandora myth is enough to pique my interest. What is not so successful is the execution. Right from the start, Doomed and I got off on the wrong foot, since immediately it falls into one of my YA Pet Peeves: The Absent, Neglectful Parent Who Leaves the Heroine Home Alone For Long Periods of Time. It’s rare that an author can pull off Absent Parent Syndrome without triggering thoughts of plot contrivance. Doomed was not one of those rare times, and that meant that I began the book giving it a hoary eye.
From there, Doomed did not improve. When Pandora releases the virus that triggers the apocalypse, things start happening fast, and this irritated me for two reasons. One, there were great leaps of logic that had me scratching my head. More than once I found myself wondering how Pandora and her two male companions–Theo and Eli–came up with the theories they did, or had such faith in their veracity. In a time of such chaos, such surety came across as foolhardy.
The second reason was pretty specific. In the book, Pandora and her friends go out for pizza just as the apocalypse is beginning. There’s mass panic because people don’t have cash to pay for their food and the credit card machines don’t work. I’ve worked in retail, and it’s true that computer malfunctions and power outages are major inconveniences, but you know what? The store I worked at never let that stop them. They stayed open and took imprints of credit cards come hell or high water. And I also found it hard to believe that the apocalypse would begin at a pizza joint.
What I’m saying is this: Considering the nature of Doomed apocalypse, the speed at which the society unraveled felt forced. I didn’t buy into the urgency and that made the rest of the book fall flat for me. Add that to my belief that Pandora & Co were making bewildering leaps in logic and and eye-rollingly painful love triangle you get one unhappy reader. I love books that take place during the apocalypse–but not even the genre could save Doomed....more
I can’t decide if knowing this was a Persephone/Hades story in advance of reading Solstice was a good thiThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I can’t decide if knowing this was a Persephone/Hades story in advance of reading Solstice was a good thing or a bad one. It’s not a retelling–more an extension of the myth–but knowing the connection made it easy to figure out the mysteries of the novel. Sometimes I like it when the reader knows more than the MC. Sometimes it makes the MC appear stupid. Solstice straddled that line more than a few times–but whenever I started to doubt Piper’s intelligence, something would hold me back from a full-0n eye-roll.
And, anyway, despite being able to guess at a number of things, I really enjoyed Solstice. I read it during a heatwave, which was incredibly–and a trifle scarily–apropos. There I was, sweating away while reading descriptions of a cracked and dehydrated earth. I don’t usually like tales about global warming–they always seem way too probable–but the earth of Solstice intrigued me. (Plus, there’s the added benefit of an easy solution at the end.) I hate experiencing the heat, but I love to read about it. In books, heat is equated with high tension and passion, which–hello! I love both of those things. Then, the heat usually reaches a crescendo– Oh. I just realized that there’s a sexual metaphor going on here. *clears throat* *moves on*
So, yes, I enjoyed Solstice. I liked fitting the pieces of the puzzle together (figuring which character was which god, etc) and witnessing their earthly manifestations. For example, Piper’s mother can glance sideways at a plant and leaves will wither and die. I loved this–it was so perfectly expressive of her character. On the other hand, I had trouble picturing the characters as gods. They were so human and I so think of gods as powerful, omnipotent, manipulative and inscrutable. Piper’s mom best fits my concept of a deity, what with her decision to possess her daughter entirely and at all costs. And maybe that’s the problem? This is PJ Hoover’s book and she didn’t sell me on her conception of the Greek Gods; her writing wasn’t strong enough to reinvent them for me.
The other weakness of this novel was Piper’s best friend, Chloe. Her story was kind of mess and, frankly, hard to follow. Every time I read a passage with Chloe in it, I’d become confused and I still don’t really understand what happened. I thought maybe Chloe was going to get a story of her own (possibly with Rhadam as her male counterpart), but as far as I can discover, Solstice is a stand-alone. It could still happen, of course, but I don’t feel I got to know sane Chloe well enough to be more than slightly irritated by her descent into madness. Which, by the way, I think was totally Piper’s fault.
So–the million-dollar question: Would I recommend this book to anyone else? And the answer is–I already have. I told my dad to read it and I’m eager to discuss it with him when he’s done. That is, if I can keep myself from pestering him while he’s still reading. I’m also really hoping that PJ Hoover writes something new, really soon. Getting a contract with Tor Teen suggests bright things for her future–and I’m eager to see what she’ll do next....more
Narrator Review: When I was first listening to The Prey, I had a hard time getting used to Sean Runnette.This review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Narrator Review: When I was first listening to The Prey, I had a hard time getting used to Sean Runnette. His voice is a little bit too mature for a seventeen year old boy. However, by the end of the first book, I’d grown to appreciate Runnette’s nuanced narrative style. He does a fantastic job with Gene and I even appreciated the way he embodied Sissy. Without a doubt, I’ll be listening to the rest of the books in this series, rather than reading them myself.
Book Review: My tolerance level for gore is only slightly higher than my tolerance level for white chocolate (IT’S NOT CHOCOLATE!). When my roommate watches The Walking Dead, I have to go to my room, close the door, put a pillow over my head and sing “LALALALA!” at the top of my lungs so I don’t accidentally hear any zombie noises. But this book? Oh, this book? I loved it, gooey, cheesey, melting flesh and all. Okay, I gagged at those parts, but I kept listening.
Before I continue with my review, let me recap a little. At the end of The Hunt, Gene was outed as a human. It also turned out that his crush, Ashley June, was human. She sacrificed herself so Gene could get away. Well, and come back to save her later, of course. (If you get the sense that I’m not an Ashley June fan, you’re right.) Unable to save her, and needing to get away from the ravenous vampire-creatures, Gene takes off on a river voyage with the hepers beneath the dome, including Ben, Sissy and Epap.
The Prey picks up so exactly where The Hunt left off that my head was spinning, trying to remember all the details of the last book. I know that I’ve complained about authors recapping in series books, but a little easing back into the world is, I think, necessary. No matter. I was soon swept up in the action and I never looked back. Andrew Fukuda is a master at creating suspense. It was almost unsafe to read The Prey while driving because I was gripping the steering wheel so tightly. I don’t think I ever breathed easy, not even when Gene, Sissy and Co. finally arrived in “the land of milk and honey, fruit and sunshine.”
The Prey isn’t without flaws. Gene, the main character, often irritated me. He’s still learning how to put others first, and he’s lucky that he’s got Sissy there to show him how it’s done. (Seriously. She’s awesome like that.) He’s also slow to understand what’s going on in the human village, even if he senses that something is off from the very beginning. The village scenario is pretty standard to dystopians, but I think Fukuda does a pretty good job of explaining how it came to be. He manages to humanize the elders (as much as that’s possible), but disappointingly doesn’t do the same for the village girls. I wanted have a better understanding of why they obeyed the elders. Or at least one that confirmed my suppositions. And I’m pretty sick of the he’s dead/he’s not dead back and forth about Gene’s dad.
But, really, the flaws just made The Prey that much more awesome. Or, rather, they made me realize how much I good the book really was. The Prey was completely engrossing. The ending left me hitting my steering wheel in frustration because it doesn’t just end on a cliffhanger, it ends on one that makes you go, “WHAT?! HE COULDN’T HAVE ENDED THE BOOK THIRTY SECONDS LATER?!?!” Basically, the most successful cliffhanger in the history of cliffhangers. I must have book three. I simply must....more
By turns mystifying and enthralling, Michelle Gagnon sure knows how to tell a story. I don't usually like multiple narratives, but this one worked forBy turns mystifying and enthralling, Michelle Gagnon sure knows how to tell a story. I don't usually like multiple narratives, but this one worked for me. The narrator did a great job with all the accents she had to portray. I'm kind of hoping to revisit this concept, but I don't know if there are any plans to make it into a series. The ending was probably a little too schmaltzy, but I ate it up anyway....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a retelling of Snow White, but the differences are subtle enough that you don't feel as if you're reading the samI thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a retelling of Snow White, but the differences are subtle enough that you don't feel as if you're reading the same old tale again. The world-building is also fascinating--if a tad complex. I'll need to spend more time in this world before I can understand it. Lili St. Crow hints at complexities that aren't fully explored in this book. I'm really hoping that the next book (a Cinderella re-telling) expands on what we learned, rather than moving us to a new sphere. ...more
I’ve told you about my Bookish Preference for twins, so I imagine you know (or can guess) that BThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
I’ve told you about my Bookish Preference for twins, so I imagine you know (or can guess) that Beautiful Lies was an auto-read for me. The story goes like this: identical twins Rachel and Alice are ” ‘monochorionic, monoamniotic twins,’ which means [they] are identical twins who grew in the same amniotic sac and shared one placenta” (p.18). It’s a real thing. I Googled it. Yet, despite this rare closeness, in the recent months, Rachel and Alice have grown apart. Rachel has become the “good twin,” while Alice has begun acting out in the usual ways–drinking, wearing heavy makeup, hanging out with lowlifes (one in particular) and getting arrested. Okay, maybe the latter isn’t “usual.” Then one of the twins goes missing, and nobody believes it when the other twin insists that her sister is in danger.
I haven’t read any of Jessica Warman’s books before, so I approached this one with few expectations–just a pleasurable hum of anticipation. And I’m happy to report that it was a solid read. Except…the description gives a few of the twists and turns away. Personally, I think unreliable narrators work best when we’re not told up front that he or she is unreliable. It’s a tool that’s effective when we are left to discover it for ourselves…not when we are told that it’s going to happen. Then, the narrator isn’t unreliable because I never relied on them in the first place. You know what I mean?
It’s hard for me to review this book without giving away some of the important elements, so I’m going to keep things as brief as I can. The writing here is good, but not inspired. I didn’t particularly like the narrator, and I didn’t really sympathize with her. I felt that she was selfish. SPOILER: Particularly in her decision to keep quiet about her sister when she first went missing. She knew that if she told her aunt and uncle who she really was, they would have called the police right away. So why did she keep quiet? I also would have preferred to hear the story from the other twin’s perspective. And don’t get me started on the ending. It was abrupt and too unresolved. Beautiful Lies doesn’t make me want to go glom Jessica Warman’s backlist, but I won’t reject anything she wrote out of hand, either....more
I really enjoy this series. Told in the epistolary style and featuring a believable cast of characters, I think this series is underrated. Not only isI really enjoy this series. Told in the epistolary style and featuring a believable cast of characters, I think this series is underrated. Not only is it well-written, it has the added exotic element of being Canadian. Yes, I said exotic....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
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 was excited about Shadowlands for two reasons. One: witness protection! Two: Gothic! An automatic recipThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I was excited about Shadowlands for two reasons. One: witness protection! Two: Gothic! An automatic recipe for success. You would think. Sadly, Shadowlands fails on both counts and, on top of that, the writing is mediocre and the plotting worse. Even though the book starts right in the middle of the action, more than once I found myself asking, “That’s it?” You know you’ve got problems when your villain underwhelms, which Steven Nell totally did. For a deranged sociopath, he’s dumb and kind of boring. Maybe I’ve read too many adult thrillers, but I like my sociopaths to be sociopaths, you know? Not slightly-over-the-top-stalkers. Just saying.
And because Steven Nell is so meh, this takes away from the urgency of the plot. Not to mention the Witness Protection should-be-awesomeness. Even Rory’s family is unimpressed. Rory’s father and her sister Darcy could not have been less-concerned with her brush with death or the fact that some guy is, you know, intent on killing her. Not that I’d be too sad to see the last of Rory, either. She’s a judgmental party-pooper and a downer. No wonder Stephen Nell wants to kill her.
Furthermore, there are tons of glaring plot-holes and missing details. Rory and company go into hiding by themselves with no help from the FBI or other authorities. Then they never hear from them or wonder why they haven’t been in touch. There are none of the 1,001 minor little details that would make being in witness protection so wrought with tension. I’m supposed to be from Manhattan? BUT I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT MANHATTAN! Oh, wait, that’s right! THEY CHANGED MY LAST NAME! Mr. So-and-So was talking to me!
Instead, Rory and Darcy go to parties and meet guys. Oh, and did I mention that All The Guys like Rory? Even the gay ones. She’s the most attractive unattractive younger sister around. And speaking of the guys, the one I liked best was the one that was supposed to be a jerk. And I didn’t even like him all that much. But that’s totally cool because a great male lead would be wasted on Rory.
I’m actually kind of surprised I read this book all the way to the end (which, by the way, is groan-worthy). I can’t think of a single person I’d recommend this book to. It’s worse than bad, it’s mediocre. I realize that this review has been scathing, but I did try to come up with something positive to say. I just couldn’t think of anything. I had previously been interested in reading Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys, but that’s off. I’ll be striking Kate Brian off my to-read list for quite a while....more
I’m one of those people who often thinks they were born into the wrong era, so I really like books whereThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’m one of those people who often thinks they were born into the wrong era, so I really like books where modern characters revisit earlier times. I tend to shy away from time travel books, but I do enjoy it when characters try to revisit the past while physically staying in the present. Going Vintage appealed to me for this reason, but also because my own parents grew up in the ’60′s. It was often that, as a teenager, I looked at my mom’s senior yearbook and romanticized her handmade prom dress and perfectly coiffed hairdo. Thus–instant connection with Going Vintage‘s MC.
I started to read Going Vintage back in March, when I was approved to download it from NetGalley. It charmed me a little, but I set it aside for some reason and didn’t pick it back up for quite a while. I don’t know what initially made me set it aside, but when I started reading again, I was pulled back into the story easily and willingly. Going Vintage is a light, fun read that I zipped through with astonishing speed. It’s a perfectly example of why I like teen contemporaries. Just being a teenager makes life so much more complicated than it needs to be. When you add in boys, then things really get messy.
Going Vintage‘s major asset is its charm. It captures this feeling that we all have–that the past, inherently, was a simpler time than whatever age we’re currently living in–and makes it clear we’re wrong. Technology (and other innovations) may make life easier, but they can’t change how hard it is to live. And–cliche though it may sound–love.
However. Going Vintage isn’t really a love story. It’s about family, too. Mallory (the main character) has a close, delightful relationship with her younger sister. She goes to her grandma for advice, but her grandma has her own issues. Her mother and father love each other, but still argue and disagree. It’s well-rounded and I like that. The romance is a part of the story, but it’s not the whole thing. My favorite part? Mallory becomes friends with her love interest first. I adore it when that happens–when you feel as though the couple could do more than just make out and make eyes at each other if they ever actually went on a date. Authors–take heed!
There was a lot to like in Going Vintage, and I’ll definitely be checking out Lindsey Leavitt’s next book. I think she’s got a talent for story-telling and she certainly knows how to create interesting characters. I’d recommend her to anyone who likes teen contemporaries....more
As good as everyone said! The narrator is fantastic, and I enjoyed the humor from A to Z. Atticus can be a bit grating (on account of his arrogance),As good as everyone said! The narrator is fantastic, and I enjoyed the humor from A to Z. Atticus can be a bit grating (on account of his arrogance), but Oberon more than makes up for it. I also like that the setting isn't one that you see too often. ...more
Fun and funny. I like Oberon best of all the characters, but I'm starting to get frustrated with the lack of interesting, influential female characterFun and funny. I like Oberon best of all the characters, but I'm starting to get frustrated with the lack of interesting, influential female characters. I have high hopes for Melina, but I think Granuaile (sp?) is the one that's going to stick....more
I have a guilty confession to make. When my younger brother was into the Animorphs series…I read them, toThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I have a guilty confession to make. When my younger brother was into the Animorphs series…I read them, too. They were totally a guilty pleasure. And for the ignorant, Eve & Adam‘s co-writer Katherine Applegate wrote the Animorphs books. I’ve also read Gone, but it was really the wife part of this husband-and-wife writing team that attracted me to this book. Of course, the concept is intriguing–who among us hasn’t fantasized about creating the perfect guy? Oh, wait–just me? Well, this is awkward. Better move on.
Eve & Adam opens with the horrific accident that sets the events of the book into motion. Among other injuries, Eve’s leg is severed above the knee. Eve is rushed to the hospital for treatment, but just as quickly, her mother races her away again, to the headquarters of her biomedical business. In the ambulance, Eve meets Solo, a boy with a mysterious connection with Eve’s mother. A boy raised and educated by Spiker Pharmaceuticals, a boy who knows more about Eve than she knows herself.
The blurb–and the buzz–for this book suggest that Eve’s creation of Adam is the central plot in the book, but it really isn’t. It’s true that Eve’s creation of the perfect boy is both central and important to the books overall theme, but Eve’s story really centers around her relationships; the ones she has with her mother, her best friend, Solo, and even herself. Sometimes I think the book couldn’t really decide what it wanted to be about–an exploration of ethics and science or a coming-of-age tale. Not surprising, really, considering the alternating narratives. Eve’s story focused on relationships and Solo’s on the loneliness of revenge. In a way, this was disappointing because I was expecting more about Adam and the frightening, can’t-look-away concept of playing God and creating human beings to our own specifications.
I enjoyed Eve & Adam, but it was wide of the mark in terms of my really liking it. Primarily this was because of the emotional disconnect. Both Eve and Solo are incredibly rational. There’s a lot of thinking in this story. It was probably the first time I’ve read a first-person narrative and come away feeling like I never related to the characters. I was told about their emotions, and I observed them, but in a detached way. And if I don’t emotionally resonate with the characters, well…it’s not good. It’s just not good at all.
Eve & Adam was a decent way to pass the time while I was driving around in my car. Is that damning it with faint praise? Probably. As often happens with co-written books, I found it more interesting to speculate on how the two authors collaborated while they were writing. If they wrote a sequel, would I read it? Maybe. But I’m not going to spend any time feeling sad if they don’t write one. ...more
Last year, when I read Unraveling, it was a nice surprise. I’d missed all the buzz about it and hadnThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Last year, when I read Unraveling, it was a nice surprise. I’d missed all the buzz about it and hadn’t read a single review (and I remember how weird that felt!) and I really only picked it up on a whim. As soon as I started, though, I was hooked. I read it from cover to cover. I downed it like it was peanut sauce. And when I got to the last page, I began waiting for Unbreakable to be released.
Unbreakable picks up about four months after the end of Unraveling. Janelle’s (our) world is in chaos. Martial law has been declared, school is pretty much cancelled, and untold numbers are missing. At first this appears to be related to the disasters caused by two universes almost colliding (oops! I spoiled Unraveling!), but Janelle soon finds out that something far more sinister is going on. Well, more sinister than IAD agent Taylor Barclay showing up, seeking Janelle’s help.
Although reluctant at first, Janelle eventually agrees to help Barclay solve the mystery of the missing people. What they discovers is that the people aren’t just going missing–they’re being kidnapped and sold into slavery. And Ben is somehow involved. Grudgingly teaming up with Barclay, Janelle leaves her world for Prima, in the hope of finding Ben, her friend Cecily, and stopping the kidnappings.
Unbreakable does some awesome things. It brings back Janelle, whom I love for her down-to-earth-kick-ass-ness. That girl is all, “I’m too old for this shiz” and she’s not even 18 yet. It also transforms Barclay from “kind of douche-y” to swoon-worthy. Which brings me to this: I totally don’t like Ben anymore (spoiler rant below). I’m TEAM BARCLAY all the way. There’s one particular scene where Janelle and Barclay are hiding in close proximity…it’s hot. And possibly entirely in my mind but, well, an obsession was born, folks. An obsession. Was. Born. Which is why I hated the ending. I can’t find out if this book is the last in the series, but I sure hope not. I will be incredibly sad if it is. My overriding thought on reading the last page of Unbreakable? This better NOT BE THE END.
(view spoiler)[A few words about Ben: I liked Ben in Unraveling. He wasn’t my favorite hero ever, but I liked him. In this book, he managed to entirely lose my favor. Sure, he’s placed in an impossible situation and he has to make impossible choices, but I still feel like he made crummy ones. In this book, Ben kidnaps people for the slavery ring because he thinks he’s saving Janelle’s life. Honorable? Er, not really. Romantic? Nope. Girls are being kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. Lots of them. Would I subject anyone to that to save someone I loved? I don’t know and I hope I’ll never have to find out. BUT. I can’t believe that Ben could have thought that Janelle would have been able to live with herself knowing what her existence cost other people. Is any of this fair to Ben? Probably not, but my heart doesn’t really care. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Funny, but Charlie got a little grating after a while. I'm waiting on the rest of the books via interlibrary loan. Don't think I'll be shelling any moFunny, but Charlie got a little grating after a while. I'm waiting on the rest of the books via interlibrary loan. Don't think I'll be shelling any money out for them any time soon, but if the opportunity makes itself available, I'll be continuing with the series. Hero is undeniably hot. ...more