Damn. That was good stuff. I saw whodunnit coming from a mile away, but I didn't see that ending! Well played, Briggster, you sly trickster. Looking f...moreDamn. That was good stuff. I saw whodunnit coming from a mile away, but I didn't see that ending! Well played, Briggster, you sly trickster. Looking forward to O&A 4 and the next MT to see the repercussions!!(less)
That is so not how I pictured Vlad in bed. And, dude, FCS, I get it: he's arrogant. I'm struggling with my rating here, people. I need a discussion.
I...moreThat is so not how I pictured Vlad in bed. And, dude, FCS, I get it: he's arrogant. I'm struggling with my rating here, people. I need a discussion.
I love Jeaniene's books, but eh, I was hoping for more from Vlad. It just didn't feel like him to me. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it at all, but it's how the rating reads - it was just okay for me. And that's a sad, sad place to be with Vlad, my favorite character. The whole book just felt 'off' to me.
I'm nervous for this. I didn't enjoy 10&11 as much as the others. The series simply worked better when Eric was a conniving badass and trying to s...moreI'm nervous for this. I didn't enjoy 10&11 as much as the others. The series simply worked better when Eric was a conniving badass and trying to seduce Sookie. I don't feel like the last two had very tight plots at all. Here's hoping that 12 brings some of the excitement back. . .
UPDATE: liked it better than the last two. Here are some key thoughts/questions: - WTF Claude? - Eric, you're back to being an asshole without having the bonus of truly being loved by Sookie. She says she does, but I say naaaaaah. No trust, no love. You lose. -Bill, I knew I always liked you. -Sam, ditto.(less)
Okay, bear with me. I find it difficult to review urban fantasy and paranormal romance with as much detail as I do YA fiction, but here's trying....more3.5/5
Okay, bear with me. I find it difficult to review urban fantasy and paranormal romance with as much detail as I do YA fiction, but here's trying. Some Girls Bite was gratuitous escapism. SEXY, FUN and FUNNY gratuitous escapism. Upon finishing book one, I immediately sought out books two and three. Hey, I like me a good dose of escapist fun.
I mean, c'mon. Let's be honest. If you read fang lit, then it's highly likely that you daydream (okay, fantasize) about one of two things:
1) You want to become a vampire (or other supe) -OR- 2)You wouldn't mind being seduced by one
Our heroine, Merit (aka that lucky bitch), just got BOTH options fulfilled, and does she appreciate them? Um, hell no! Master Vamp Ethan (hummina-hummina) finds Mer bleeding from a bad-vamp inflicted neck wound. Rather than let the 27-year old die, he changes her. She whineswhineswhines about how her 'life' as a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago specializing in medieval lit is over since fanged ones are not allowed to study at universities. She feels her unjustified changing at Ethan's hands most grievously. Mer, sweetheart, I'd like to quote a line here from Good Will Hunting:
". . . you're gonna come up with the fact that there are two certaintees in life. One, don't do that. And two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library."
Seriously, Merit. You have the rest of your immortal life to study medieval lit - you don't need to go to university to do that. And the market for professors in that area blows. AND you just got permanent vamp protection and employment FOR-EH-VER! Suck it up. Things could be worse. You could be dead.
Mer's little tirades on this matter aside, she's a fun quirky character who moans and makes the best of her initiation into the supernatural world in equal parts. Her reluctant acceptance is both amusing and exasperating, but with the addition of other fun characters, Some Girls Bite makes for an enjoyable read. Neill shines with her dialogue, and the banter between Merit and her BFF, Mallory, is very funny and fast-paced. Catcher and Ethan are MAN CANDY, and I'm not talking supermarket aisle candy - this is the good stuff. We're talking Godiva. Particularly Catcher (nom nom nom). Between the quirk and sexy, this a a read that I think fans of Gilmore Girls will enjoy.
This is definitely UF-light, and by that, I mean the book simply doesn't read as seriously as a book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Fever or Midnight Breeders series. There are nods here and there to other series through references and characters with the same names or backgrounds. It's decent, fun writing, although I occasionally found myself rewriting sentences so they read better. Merit lacks the maturity I'd expect from someone her age, but the mix of fun characters, funny exchanges and the building romantic tension between Merit and Ethan (and Morgan - teeheehee) means I started on book two fairly soon after finishing this one (I'm a sucker for UF series). While this book isn't gourmet, it is a good, sexy break from my ordinary fare. Kind of like a pan of Chicago deep dish. (less)
To be honest, the synopsis doesn't do the book justice. And to be fair, the book shares similar plot devices with other books which feature an 'outsid...moreTo be honest, the synopsis doesn't do the book justice. And to be fair, the book shares similar plot devices with other books which feature an 'outsider' female and a vampire male love interest. I've read those books and their fallen angel counterparts. It made me nervous to pick this book up for that reason, as I've found some of those other YA offerings to be rather boring.
Here's the difference between them and Amalie Howard's Bloospell: her writing is better, her characters more dynamic, and the plot far richer and more compelling. This is a great read, and it takes the washed out 'supernatural forbidden love' premise, adds some twists and makes it exciting to read again. Truly a breath of fresh air!
Let's talk writing. At first, I was worried. Until page 16, I wasn't into the story. I didn't care for the dialogue, and I just wasn't engaged. Then BAM! Victoria turns 17, the clouds parted, the sun shined, and Ahhhhh! I was hooked. The writing picked up, and it pretty much flowed from there on out. Victoria is a sort of tragic character: she's lost both parents to a horrific car accident, she always been an odd one and feels very alone, and she is attacked, both verbally and physically by her classmates. She moves onto another school after turning 17, and that's where the story really begins. Howard is a debut author, and here are some instances of using cliched phrases, and there are a few, very few, awkward moments. However, there is an eloquence to her simple word choices that make the book flow easily and really grabs your attention. It's been a while, but I truly didn't want to put the book down. I just wrote this review today, and I am itching to get back to it and reread a few things.
Oh, and here's another great thing about this book. Obviously, there is a romance, but what the synopsis can't tell you is that Howard's writing of it is very sensual. Not slutty. Not sexy. Sensual. She really appeals to your senses as you read it, and that made the romance more compelling in a way that I haven't read in YA. Observe:
The words stuck in her throat as Christian unclenched his jaw and forced himself to face her, gently grasping her shoulders. Liquid silver started stared into molten jade, and he touched his lips to hers, the kiss tentative at first, as if he were afraid to give himself over to it. But as the warmth within her bloomed, decimating walls and reason, his lips sank into the softness of hers with desperate urgency. Victoria dug her fingers into his arms, caught. It felt as though her life began and ended in that kiss.
Kind of hot, huh?
The fact that Bloodspell is also written from both Christian and Victoria's points-of-view also makes the story more compelling, particularly as Christian's character becomes more developed. While he occasionally displays the "I want you, but I'm too dangerous for you," syndrome, the interesting twist here is that Victoria is a witch, and not just any witch, but The Witch. She's lethal, and it's not a stretch to say that she is more so than Christian. If need be, she could kill Christian. Boyfriend better watch his neck, because no one is putting this baby in a corner. If he every tried to put her up against a rock so he could take care of a sitch, she'd be like, "Yeah, okay. Bare your fags while me and and my awesome witch amulet make short work of this." Okay, maybe not, because Victoria is actually a kind and laid back character, but there's no doubt that her powers are badass. There seems to be a respect between the two in acknowledgement for the what the other is, both the good and the bad. There's something feral in them both and at times attempts to posses them. For Christian, it's his bloodlust, and for Victoria, it's her blood, or rather, the power in it. While Christian does show his "I gotta protect her" jones, it never felt possessive or stalkerish to me, as it has in other books. It felt more like a practical response to an actual threat to Victoria. She is brand new to this world; he's been in it as a vampire for almost two hundred years. He knows exactly what she's up against, and at the same time acknowledges that she likely is every bit the potential danger her enemies fear her to be. Added into the mix are secondary characters that are much more than filler - every one of them has a purpose, and it was SO refreshing to find they are not merely background noise.
Here's what makes this book a standout in urban fantasy/paranormal YA: Howard entwines personal, family, and mythical history and adds in a good dash of the 1800s. It feels seamless and makes the plot so interesting. Howard is descriptive, but not overly so, and thus the world building here is done naturally and as-it's-needed. The history and the world building combine and produce a story that is rife with politics, rivalries, betrayal, violence, and yes, death. In other YA paranormal/UF books, it sometimes can feel like that it's romance painted with a supernatural brush. In Bloodspell. the paranormal element feels like an established world with its very own conflicted history in which a Romeo and Juliet type romance takes place. It makes the story richer, the stakes higher, and I certainly am looking forward to #2. The last critique I would give this book is that the ending could be shorter and more tightly written - it's a tad drawn out, but overall, Bloodspell is a great twist and a welcome addition to the young adult section. I recommend it.
Who I think will like this book - fans of:
-Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly: Bloodspell isn't as emotional as this one, but both Donnelly and Howard are good with research and historical detail. -Nightshade by Andrea Cremer: completely different books, but both have that world building and political intrigue that really keeps the plot moving. -The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith: no, it's not steampunk in the least, but there's something about the descriptions of how things are run, as in people, not clockworks and gears, that had me thinking about the world building in steampunk. -Also, if you are a fan of Denise and Spade in the Night Huntress/Night Huntress World series by Jeaniene Frost, you may also like Christian and Victoria. They reminded me a little of them.
3.75/4.0 (would have been a very, very solid 4-stars if the ending hadn't gone long - the middle is awesome).(less)
So, who here is a perfect snob about not reviewing self-published authors? (**blushes**waves hand**). Yeah, that's me. And guess what? Jess C. Sc...more3.5/5
So, who here is a perfect snob about not reviewing self-published authors? (**blushes**waves hand**). Yeah, that's me. And guess what? Jess C. Scott's The Other Side of Life schooled me right into the bad kids' corner.
Scott isn't just a decent writer; she's good, as in G-O-O-D. This Other Side of Life isn't just interesting; it's enterprising. You'd think so many different elements - sci-fi, classic fantasy, romance and something of n hero quest (with a twist) - could become jumbled and be too much at once. There's even a hint of a dystopian setting here. Somehow, Scott makes all the distinctions flow together. I didn't have to try to make the mixing work together - the writing makes it seem perfectly natural and the story flows. That's saying a lot when reading about a tall, hot elf walking around in 2035 with a Bond-worthy, high-tech doofatchee on his wrist:
Nin looked up and around the abandoned stone church, in quiet solace and admiration.
There was something distinctly unique about the building - it felt safe.
He waved a hand in front of the hidden camera situated in a crack in the stone wall, watching the small screen on his N-Gage wrist device. The screen showed the scene at the church - empty - with no sign of him, or his moving hand. Debug: successful, he noted.
An old battered wooden cross hung on the wall, and there were a few pews strewn about the interior. The air was cold. The silence, overpowering.
-The Other Side of Life, page 1
Scott has a great way of weaving unfamiliar elements through familiar settings, and I think is one of the reasons why everything works well together. I think for fans of urban fantasy, this particularly works well.
Then there are the characters themselves. I've introduced you to Nin: he's the leader of his crew which consists of his cousin and good friend. However, as he is self-renounced elven prince, you might think that's a demotion. You'd be wrong. It's a deliberate choice of his to eschew a privileged lifestyle an opt for a much less boring one filled with authenticity and purpose. Together, the elves are working on retrieving an important elven artifact which they hope will solve a major problem that both elf-kind and humankind face (although humans don't know it). To help them, they develop their own technology that helps them find this artifact and to keep their presence in the human world as secret as possible. Hence, the 'cyperpunk' descriptive - they've turned their back on traditional elven wisdom and live in harmony with nature and technology, but not slave to it, as humans seem to be.
Enter Anya and Leticia., the thieving (human) duo. A chance encounter introduces the duo to the elven trio (during a robbery, no less). Anya and Leticia are both 18 year-old college students, but don't come from backgrounds that can afford the expense of education. Hence, they are thieves for hire (can I tell you how much I love that girls are the sneaky 'bad' guys here? Love it when the ladies tease the law on their own intitiative. . . teehee). Despite initial misgivings, the elves hire them to help retrieve the artifact. The elves are stunned at their decision. Traditional elven wisdom states that humans are dangerous and to be avoided. A lovely attraction develops between Nin and Anya. . . the romance mostly feels natural at times and is a sweet and understated part of the book, but occasionally borders on corny. However, Nin and Anya seem to know this themselves and do some self-chastising when it happens.
Those are the bare bones of the story, but I have t tell you, this isn't merely an exciting let's-find-it sci-fi/fantasy adventure (although it's that, too). This is a thoughtful, well-done narrative that incorporates discussion on social distinctions and consequences, environmental irresponsibility, and discussion on how we as a society live our lives. Just when you fear the narrative is going to shift from relevant commentary into pulpit rant, it pulls back and refocuses on the excitement and romance. That's something I really want to praise Scott for: no one element of the story ever overwhelms the other - there was a very nice balance that made everything flow in and out of each part.
Is this book perfect? Nope. There are a few issues here and there. I did notice that Scott is comma happy, and they aren't always needed. There are also some redundant adjectives and descriptions - these are little, nitpicky things that I noted here and there (former journalist - my inner editor comes sneaking out). Nin is in danger of getting too gushy with his elven love poetry at times, but then it's funny because he mocks himself for it. However, it is a testament to how interesting I found the story that theses things did not truly bother me. I adored the first half the book, and enjoyed the second half. I occasionally would get confused during the 'covert ops' scenes, and by that I mean I wasn't always sure if I was picturing what was going on correctly. That being said, I stand in admiration of Scott - she has accomplished a great story as a one-man band. When you think that an author with a major house has both an agent, editor, as well as a marketing and design team for guidance, I think it says a lot for Scott that she's put together a solid story with good characters and interesting plot by herself and on her own terms. I adored the ending. You might be crushed, but I appreciate that Scott stuck by the sad consequences of a selfless choice instead of conjuring up a last minute miracle. Nope, not telling you what happened, but it definitely has me looking forward to book two.
I found the title intriguing, and I really loved how well it tied into so many different aspects of the story. The Other Side of Life relates to everything from having a worldview different from the one you are raised with, to knowing what it's like walking in someone else's shoes, to knowing what literally happens when our consciousness passes from this one existence to another. This book is an entertaining, enlightening and engaging read. In particular, if you liked The Unidentified by Rae Mariz, Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder and are anticipating Memento Nora by Angie Smibert, I think you'll enjoy this one, too. I know I did.
In your waderings and dealings, neglect not - the Other Side of Life. -2nd Poem, pg. 41, The Other Side of Life(less)
Great end to a fantastic series! Felt a little muddy in some places, and I felt like there are still some unswered questions, but I loved reading a co...moreGreat end to a fantastic series! Felt a little muddy in some places, and I felt like there are still some unswered questions, but I loved reading a conclusion to Mac's story. I still want to know quite a bit more about Barrons. . . another series, perhaps?(less)
GIVEAWAY on my blog for a signed copy of TSOTG going on right now!
Oh my God! My little Kitten is all grown up!
You think I jest, but I am COMPLETELY se...moreGIVEAWAY on my blog for a signed copy of TSOTG going on right now!
Oh my God! My little Kitten is all grown up!
You think I jest, but I am COMPLETELY serious. TSOTG presents us with a Cat that has matured considerably from the Cat whom we’ve seen in the past four books. She’s still tough as hell and won’t hesitate to liquidate any threats to her and her loved ones, but this Cat seems to weigh her possible decisions and their consequences a lot more thoroughly than she did previously did. You would think that becoming a full-on vamp would free her from such pesky mortal concerns; on the contrary, now that she is armed with the knowledge that she could live thousands of years, she seems to be more conscientious with her actions and how they could affect those she cares for. After all, one wrong move. . . well, she’s got a long time to live with guilt.
The maturity extends to her relationship with Bones, who, as always, is still ***NomNomNom*** and delivers the best lines that melt this SqueeGirl’s heart. Observe:
“No matter what happens, you will never lose me,” he whispered. “I am forever yours, Kitten, in this life or the next.” -page 245
I don’t how to explain it other than Cat really becomes brave and honest about her love for Bones in this one. . . in some ways, it makes their passion for each other seem a little quieter than in the previous books, but it’s a beautiful sort of quiet that only comes from true intimacy and acceptance of the other. Rest assured that this quiet does not extend to the bedroom scenes ***blushes***. I totally would elaborate on that, but since my blog typically focuses more on the YA side of things, I’ll be a bit demure on the subject. . . let’s just say the that Cat really compensates for an anticipated prolonged absence ;)
Now, you can get the jist of what happens from the synopsis, but here are SOME things you can count on:
***We knew Marie/Majestic was crazy like a fox from DFAEG, but we really get a true grasp of how far her deviousness and ruthlessness can go in this one. That girl is not a chess player - she owns the freaking board!
***Um, if you thought that Cat's acquiring and handling of Mencheres' and Vlad's powers was something to see, you ain't seen nothing yet.
***Vlad is back and awesome as always. IMO, he has the best one-liners in the book.
***A certain someone is back from HTTG.
***No Annette and little Ian, but he makes the most out of his fabulous line.
***More Mencheres and Kira, and Denise and Spade! And I just love how Mencheres is showing different parts of his personality! I actually liked him better in this one than Spade!
***Justina does her level best to give Cat heart failure with her new career choice. Unfortunately, Cat's heart breaks due to another family member. . .
***We learn a little more personal information about Tate that I found very revealing. . made me have some real sympathy for him.
***Jeaniene is wonderful and gave a preview of Book #6, One Grave at a Time, at the end of this one (expected publication in September 2011).
I really enjoyed TSOTG. There was action and intrigue, as always, but somehow this book seemed a little quieter in tone than the first four, and there was certainly less drama between Bones and Cat. This book, out of all them, really felt like it was Cat's book, too, and not so much the story of Cat & Bones' relationship. Maybe it’s due to the growth and maturity that Cat and Bones have found in each other, but I also felt that this book may be a bridge of sorts to things that are coming - a quiet before the storm, if you will. Cat did some real introspection in this one, particularly about her feelings towards Bones – it felt like foreshadowing to me, and it made me so incredibly anxious for book #6. (less)