This is undoubtedly the worst YA novel I've read this year. I suffered through about 50% of the audiobook, i.e. 6 long, excruciating hours, waiting fo...moreThis is undoubtedly the worst YA novel I've read this year. I suffered through about 50% of the audiobook, i.e. 6 long, excruciating hours, waiting for it to start making sense, but it never did. Eventually I became too annoyed to continue.
Cremer rarely bothered to explain her world, but even when she did, the Keepers and Guardians made no sense to me. ‘Sink or swim’ is how I would describe her worldbuilding, at least in the first 40% or so - the story just goes on and you either get it or not. Not. I still don’t understand why these Guardians, werewolves, warriors, whatever you want to call them, would answer to a group of witches, allowing themselves to be controlled in such a horrible way. They can’t be dominant, Alpha, and submissive at the same time.
I love my shapeshifter books as long as they don’t break one simple rule: the author needs to explain clothes right away or I’m done. I don’t care what the explanation is: the clothes can magically appear, they can be hidden somewhere or people can just walk around naked, but I need to know. For the longest time in Nightshade, Calla kept changing forms in public without any mention of clothes. It was explained eventually, but by then I was too angry to even care.
You know how sometimes it seems, especially in books with a really strong plot (view spoiler)[think The Hunger Games(hide spoiler)], that the love triangle was thrown in afterwards, probably to satisfy the publisher’s demand? Well, in this case, I’m betting there was an editor somewhere along the line who said: “Wait just a second, Ms. Cremer. This book needs an actual plot! It can’t ALL be just Calla going from Ren to Shay and back.” And so she was forced to add this plot she probably deemed unnecessary and even damaging to her beautiful love triangle drama.
The love triangle was painful to endure. Calla is a terrible, selfish character with double standards, Shay is mostly just pathetic and Ren is blind to it all. Of course, if I had to choose, I’d choose Ren in a second because he has that sexy name going for him and he occasionally shows some backbone, which is more than I can say for either Calla or Shay.
As Lora pointed out in her comment, the ratings are all over the place. It’s quite possible that some of you will find this story interesting and enjoyable. Many of my friends did. But if you don’t like love triangles, stay far, far away from this series. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm very, very sorry, my dear GR friends. I had every intention of finishing this book, if only to be able to write a decent review. But I would rathe...moreI'm very, very sorry, my dear GR friends. I had every intention of finishing this book, if only to be able to write a decent review. But I would rather eat it than listen to another minute of it. I think it just might be the worst book I've read (or tried to read) this year.
Now, I know there's been a lot of talk about plagiarism and stuff, but I don't care about any of that. I don't even see most of the similarities people keep pointing out. I was actually looking forward to this book! I thought the first three books were readable and even enjoyable at times. But CoFA is not readable, it's terrible!! Clary doesn't have a personality, Jace has developed a martyr complex, and Simon is the biggest coward in the whole wide world. The plot is nonexistent. They all just keep making seroiusly stupid choices and avoiding each other in the process.
A song kept playing in my head during this torture. It was Serve the Servants by Nirvana. Remember that one?! Teenage angst has paid of well. Now I'm bored and old. If you Google it, you will find thousands of discussions on the real meaning of those first lines, but Cassandra Clare is the only one who took them literally. Kurt Cobain's voice probably haunted her after she finished her trilogy and she suddenly decided she didn't want to be bored and old any more. She chose to milk the same cow a little while longer, so she wrote a fourth book in the trilogy (view spoiler)[I know it's ridiculous, believe me. But at least she stopped calling it a trilogy! (hide spoiler)], not caring at all that she would make a complete fool out of herself. We, on the other hand, have proved once again that we are her humble servants. She served us a pile of crap and we bought it. Literally.
What it comes down to is this: I can say anything I want about Cassandra Clare and City of Fallen Angels, but I paid good money for this audiobook so I guess the joke is on me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It's very hard to write a helpful review of Graywalker. It simply didn’t leave any kind of impression on me – good or bad. The first half was far more...moreIt's very hard to write a helpful review of Graywalker. It simply didn’t leave any kind of impression on me – good or bad. The first half was far more interesting than the second. It had the tone of a hardboiled detective novel and it was quite refreshing, so I was more than a little disappointed when it all went straight to hell in the other half. Harper Blaine is a good, strong character, but some of her choices weren’t quite clear to me, and the love story (well, lust story, to be precise) was weird and unconvincing. And let me just say that I like my male characters tall, strong and dominant (don’t we all?), but Richardson gave us a love interest who is ordinary, not too handsome and very whiny at times. I meet guys like that every day. Why the hell would I want to read about them, too?!
The worldbuilding was unimaginative and colorless. I really wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone except avid urban fantasy readers (Ooooops, I’m alone on that island, and I’ve read it already, so no… I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone at all). There were some good moments, but all in all, it just wasn't good enough.(less)
Middle book syndrome, thy name is Insurgent, and you’ve never been this painful before. I realize this is not a popular opinion. For every negative re...moreMiddle book syndrome, thy name is Insurgent, and you’ve never been this painful before. I realize this is not a popular opinion. For every negative review out there, Insurgent has fifteen positive ones, which I guess makes me the odd one out, not for the first time.
But seriously, wow. If you’re ever struck by a sudden desire to read a book about nothing at all and don’t know what to choose, look no further – Veronica Roth will satisfy your curiosity. I was one of those people who neither loved nor hated Divergent: I thought it was fun but full of holes worldbuilding-wise, I thought the characters were interesting, but needed more work, and I thought the action scenes were reasonably well-written, but certainly not mind-blowing. None of those things apply to Insurgent. I only mention them to clarify that I didn’t expect much to begin with. But after the first few chapters of Insurgent, I realized that even those weak expectations wouldn’t be met. It is one of the emptiest books I’ve ever read: you go searching for plot and come up empty; you try finding some character development – empty. Good action scenes… well, some, but without an actual plot to keep me engaged, they felt empty nonetheless. I usually enjoy writing plot summaries, but this time, I spent 10 minutes staring at the blinking cursor, having absolutely no idea how to put this lack of anything meaningful into words. I just keep going back to Tris instead. And since I already mentioned character development, I’d like to know what on earth happened to her? I wrote this plenty of times in my reviews: if I don’t like the main character, I simply can’t like the book! (Unless, of course, the whole point of the book is that I dislike its protagonist, which most definitely isn’t the case here.) I might have enjoyed Insurgent at least a little bit if not for Tris’s constant whining. This entire book is one big pity-party, a series of unnecessary, meaningless sacrifices. People kept turning to her to analyze the situation, but she was the least logical among them. At least with the real Dauntless you know where you stand… they shoots first, ask questions later… if at all. Tris whines first, makes idiotic decisions, lies to the only person who actually cares about her, whines some more, shoots when she has no other way out, then whines because she was forced to shoot. Rinse and repeat. Her guilt over killing Will was fine up to a point, but when she became self-destructive over it, I started thinking that she should have done everyone a favor and let Will shoot her instead! That was the only other option: kill him or die, but instead of accepting this, she was determined to destroy herself (and Tobias) because of it.
The narrator, Emma Galvin, saved the book for me. She truly did an outstanding job. Sometimes a narrator just grates on me for no apparent reason, but the exact opposite happened with Emma: she is so good that I’d be perfectly happy listening to her read grocery lists all day long. She is what kept me going around the middle, when I would have given up otherwise.
There is no hope for me and this series. I wanted to be excited about the third book, but I doubt I’ll even read it. Everyone has their list of dealbreakers, those things they just can’t get over in books, and whining and self-pity are at the very top of mine. (You can read this lovely post about dealbreakers at The Readventurer.)
When book three comes out, I promise I will be excited with and for my friends. I swear I will. I just doubt I’ll read it myself.
Crystal Cove is the fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’ Friday Harbor series, the first paranormal series in her rather extensive bibliography. People more f...moreCrystal Cove is the fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’ Friday Harbor series, the first paranormal series in her rather extensive bibliography. People more familiar with Kleypas’ work seem to dislike this series, but I enjoyed the first three books. They were just cute, feel-good, forgettable reads, perfect for rainy Sundays.
Justine is a hereditary witch, and a powerful one at that, but she doesn’t want to join her mother’s coven. Instead, she bought a small inn and she’s running it happily with her cousin Zoe. Justine is mostly happy with her life, but she misses the only thing she’s never had – love. Jason Black is a half-Japanese millionaire, an extremely driven and extremely successful businessman. But he needs the one thing money can’t buy –a soul. To get it, he needs to steal a powerful witch’s grimoire, and Justine seems like the perfect choice. Neither of them counts on falling in love, but once they do, another problem arises. Because of something called the witch’s bane, no witch has ever been able to keep the man she loves. They always die within months.
I found it odd that the issue of Jason’s soullessness was never properly addressed. It was an essential part of the story, and yet we never did find out how it came to be. Was he born without a soul or did something happen to him later? In fact, a great many things about Jason weren’t explained and I never understood him, despite the addition of his point of view.
On top of that, I didn’t understand what brought them together in the first place. It makes sense that Justine was drawn to him, but the entire process of falling in love was somehow glazed over. Consequently, I was never really invested in their relationship, nor did I feel anxious about their happily ever after. In fact, when Jason did something he wasn’t supposed to and Justine forgave him, I was disappointed that he didn’t have to work for it at all.
With a half-Japanese character, Kleypas explored shibaru, Japanese rope bondage. Allow me to put this into context: Kleypas’ romances are usually of the hot-and-sweet variety (sweet being the key word here), and she writes characters that fit this type of story. Bondage of any kind simply doesn’t work, and Japanese bondage – more a form of art than anything else – was, to be entirely honest, slightly ridiculous.
The narrator, Tanya Eby, is a perfect choice for this type of book. Her voice has a very pleasant, calming quality. Above all, I enjoyed the Arkansas accent she used for Priscilla – it was well-done and endlessly amusing. Eby saved this book for me – given my lack of connection with Justine and Jason, I probably would have dropped it halfway through, but Eby’s entertaining narration kept me going.
I doubt I’ll even bother picking up Lightning Bay, the next book in this series. Instead, I’ll probably find some of Kleypas’s older contemporary books and hopefully find out why she has so many loyal fans.
Okay, time to fess up, people! Did someone steal the last hour of my audiobook? If it was you, please give it back. I like my books to have an actual...moreOkay, time to fess up, people! Did someone steal the last hour of my audiobook? If it was you, please give it back. I like my books to have an actual ending, thank you very much.
Oh, Barry Lyga, whatever did we do to you? Apparently one cliffhanger wasn’t bad enough so Lyga decided to leave us with three – one on Jazz’s side of things, one on Connie’s and one on Howie’s – just to be on the safe side. While that might work for most people (book three will probably break some record in number of pre-orders), for me, that sort of thing is counterproductive. I’m not saying I won’t read it eventually, but I’m far less enthusiastic about it.
Writing this review without spoilers for either of the book is tricky, but I’ll do my best. After his success with the Impressionist, Jazz is called to New York to help catch a new, even more vicious serial killer. Obviously this is a very unlikely scenario, but I had no trouble suspending disbelief and enjoying this story for what it was.
Our Jazz grew up so much! Out of Lobo’s Nod and playing with the big boys, he suddenly started acting like a big boy himself. There’s so much he still needs to learn about his past and the pressure is tremendous, but he handles it all with courage. With Billy out, Jazz feels that each new death will somehow be his fault. It’s a great burden for a 17-year-old and I think Lyga handled the damages to his psyche perfectly.
In The Game, disappointment came from a very unexpected direction – my former favorite, Connie. The girl gave a whole new meaning to the words ‘too stupid to live’. While I admire her loyalty and her strength, due to some of her choices in this book, my estimate of her intelligence dropped by about 70%. Clearly, when you start getting creepy instructions from a blocked number, the smart thing to do is follow them, even knowing they probably come from a serial killer. She kept making reckless and selfish decisions, and by the end, I wanted someone to kill her, just to show her that she’s way out of her league. I can be mean like that sometimes.
Howie, of course, couldn’t stop being his usual hilarious self even if he wanted to. He took Connie’s place as my favorite character in a heartbeat. Like her, he is unflinchingly loyal, but he doesn’t mind staying in the background in the least. His attempts to seduce Jazz’s aunt Samantha balanced things out a bit for me.
I was tempted to buy this the day it came out, but after a great experience with the I Hunt Killers audiobook, I decided to wait for my Audible credit and get this one in audio format too. I am SO glad I did. Charlie Thurnston is a fabulous narrator. He brings a dose of humor to all the right moments using nothing more than the cadence of his voice. He makes Billy sound frightening, but also a bit funny, and his voice for grandma is simply fantastic. If I do decide to read the third book, it will be on audio yet again.
These days, my brainpower has been as low as it can possibly get with me still alive to tell you about it. Considering the circumstances, I was in des...moreThese days, my brainpower has been as low as it can possibly get with me still alive to tell you about it. Considering the circumstances, I was in desperate need of something my bestie Lisa would classify as a “two-neuron book”, and Janet Evanovich seemed like a pretty sure bet.
An even safer bet, however, was Lorelei King’s excellent narration. I love her work with the Mercy Thompson series, I enjoy her narration of Stephanie Plum, and I downright adore her as the real-life voice of Charley Davidson. There is not a book in this world that Lorelei couldn’t make infinitely better. When Love in a Nutshell threatened to become dull and uneventful, Lorelei combined her excellent voice characterization and her charm to make it more interesting.
Love in a Nutshell is exactly what you’d expect: a light, entertaining, romantic book that begs to be read in a single sunny afternoon. There is no angst, no conflict to speak of and plenty of sexual tension to make one’s skin tingle.
Matt is the perfect hero – gorgeous, funny, kind and loyal to a fault. When Kate marches into his office demanding a job, he is determined to get to know her better. She is someone he can trust and maybe love, and once his course is set, he patiently works to achieve his goal. Still hurt from her awful first marriage, Kate is a bit more reluctant to start something with Matt, but his charm and good looks combined with his persistence prove impossible to resist.
There is a bit of a mystery thrown into the mix, but it’s pretty straightforward and, admittedly, somewhat uninteresting. Someone is trying to sabotage Matt’s micro brewery and he hires Kate to be his eyes and ears among the employees. While I didn’t even come close to guessing the identity of this person, I can’t say I was particularly interested either. My focus was on Kate, Matt and the development of their romance… in other words, right where it should have been.
Although welcome (to an extent), mystery and conflict weren’t my reason for reading this – I chose it because of Janet Evanovich’s trademark sense of humor, which is exactly what I got from it. It wasn’t without flaws, but I didn’t much care: I laughed, I smiled, and I relaxed.
For the longest time, whenever someone reviewed one of Sarah Dessen’s books, I had to start my comment with the words “I’ve never actually read anythi...moreFor the longest time, whenever someone reviewed one of Sarah Dessen’s books, I had to start my comment with the words “I’ve never actually read anything by her before…” and to be honest, I was getting tired of it. So when an audiobook came my way, I decided to change that once and for all.
You all know that contemporary YA makes me uncomfortable at times, even when it’s not about something I can easily relate to. To make matters worse, The Truth About Forever hit too close to home, but instead of abandoning it like a coward I usually am, I kept listening… and I soon found myself wanting to hug it and run away from it at the same time.
Like Macy, I know all about being that girl whose dad died. The weight you carry when you lose the most important person in your life is as familiar to me as my own skin. Therefore, feeling her struggle was easy for me and I especially understood her need to tiptoe around her mother, trying to avoid hurting her at all costs.
It was clear right from the beginning that Macy’s relationship with Jason was based on all the wrong things. It was convenient, isolating and passionless, not something a sixteen-year-old girl should be in permanently… or at all. Right from the start, I saw Jason as just another integral piece of her coping mechanism, and as such, he didn’t invoke any kind of emotional response for me, except mild annoyance and maybe a bit of pity.
Enter Wes, a normal boy with his own problems and a kind soul. He and Macy start a tentative friendship and, through an ongoing game of Truth, open up to each other. Suddenly Macy finds herself talking about things she’s never talked about before, and the experience is liberating. Theirs is an extremely slow-burning romance, and the emphasis is always on their friendship, although it doesn’t hurt that Wes is as gorgeous as they come.
The Truth about Forever is, in some small way, a love story. But more than that, it is a story about friendships and grief, about learning to communicate when staying quiet is the safest thing to do.
The narrator, Stina Nielsen, is excellent. Her voice is calm and soothing, and she avoided bringing unnecessary drama to the story. There were times when her voices sounded just a tad too old to belong to a 16-year-old girl, but that’s a minor thing that can easily be overlooked. I admit there were times when I wanted to drop the audio and just read the rest because 12 hours is a very long time to spend listening to a fairly uneventful book, but I’m glad I didn’t give up. It made the final part so much more rewarding.
Sarah Dessen and I have just started our adventure, and I still need to read something by both Sarah Ockler and Sara Zarr or you people will come at me with pitchforks. But there’s no need for extreme measures. I promised, didn’t I?
Even though, at first glance, Gated looks very much like dystopian lit, it’s actually an too-likely-for-comfort contemporary read. It happens in prese...moreEven though, at first glance, Gated looks very much like dystopian lit, it’s actually an too-likely-for-comfort contemporary read. It happens in present day United States, and the regular society functions normally. It’s only the small group Lila lives in, a cult if you will, that lives under a very different set of rules.
Mandradage Meadows (I think that’s how it’s spelled, I’m not sure because of the audio) is a gated community, lead by the charismatic Pioneer. There lives a group of people that knows the truth about the upcoming Armageddon and wants to prepare for it. They have a silos underground and they spend their time learning how to fight, to prevent others from entering their safe haven.
Pioneer leads the community with an iron fist. He’s the one who dreamed of the end, and he’s the one in contact with the Brethren, aliens who have chosen only the people in Mandradage Meadows to survive. Everyone lives by his rules and they gladly obey because they know the alternative is dying with the rest of the world, but when someone doesn’t, for whatever reson, they face a punishment so fierce, they’re never tempted to disobey again.
Parker took her sweet time creating the Pioneer, and it shows. He is perhaps one of the most fascinating characters I’ve come across in a very long time, and I’m not saying that lightly. The intricacies of one such personality, the hundred faces of lies and deceit, are so very hard to get right, and yet Parker’s Pioneer constantly gave me the chills. To me and Lila both, he seemed a bit delusional, but kind enough at the beginning, but as the story progressed, his true colors showed more and more, until we were both terrified of what he might do next.
For her part, Alicyn Packard narrates the story skillfully and beautifully, so much so that I’d definitely recommend you pick this one up on audio. It’s a pretty long one, over 10 hours, but she takes you through it effortlessly, and before you even realize you’re utterly creeped out.
Less patient readers might find Gated pretty slow. There is no action to speak of, and the focus always remains on the psychological profiles of these characters: Pioneer and those who blindly follow him. The last part does pick up considerably, and the reader is faced with several surprises that are pretty hard to predict, but I’ve talked to several readers who gave up on Lila’s story much before that.
If you do decide to pick it up, keep in mind that it’s a quiet story, more a psychological thriller than anything else, and try to adjust your expectations accordingly. If you’re looking for high octane action, you most certainly won’t find it here, but I enjoyed the slow build-up and the development of these characters.
When you read as much as I do, the words ‘consistently mediocre’ are nothing to frown upon. After all the ups and downs I go through with my other rea...moreWhen you read as much as I do, the words ‘consistently mediocre’ are nothing to frown upon. After all the ups and downs I go through with my other reads, it’s nice to pick up something and know exactly what I’ll be getting.
If nothing else, Heart of Iron is significantly closer to the actual steampunk genre than its predecessor. Through Lena, a skilled maker of clockwork toys, some steampunk elements were introduced that simply weren’t present in Honoria and Blade’s story. It’s still a far cry from real steampunk novels, but at least this time, I didn’t feel cheated.
This book is also more tightly plotted than Kiss of Steel. The humanist movement is looking to destroy the Echelon, and Lena, hunted and hurt by the Blue Bloods, decides to join them and spy for them from within. Through a series of events and manipulations, she and Will end up on opposing sides, but neither of them realizes it, although Will strongly suspects. Creating characters too headstrong and proud to communicate seems to be McMaster’s preferred way of building romantic tension. Lena and Will shared so little with each other when at least part of their problems could have been avoided with a simple open conversation. This is why I tend to avoid romance and it’s precisely what bothered me in the first installment. While Lena was slightly less difficult than her sister Honoria, she still made a mess of everything she touched.
I must say that McMaster took some very unexpected turns in Heart of Iron, things I did not see coming at all. One doesn’t expect surprises from paranormal historical romance, but after putting her characters in an impossible situation, she chose a way out I simply didn’t predict. In the end, her solution worked perfectly, and so did the unexpected, jay-dropping surprise.
Once again, Alison Larkin’s narration is nothing to write home about. She does a fairly decent job with Will and Lena (and of course, Blade and Honoria) but she still has the habit of making all the secondary characters sound horribly nasal. She could have done a better job with the sex scenes as well, but overall, her performance is good enough.
I will, of course, continue this series. The next book is about Jasper Lynch, leader of the Echelon’s Nighthawks, and Rosalind from the humanist movement. I only hope the two of them will start talking to each other openly I pull all my hair out.
Sometimes, a girl just needs some steamy romance in her life, even if it is of the paper (or well, audio) variety. A few days ago, I found myself in d...moreSometimes, a girl just needs some steamy romance in her life, even if it is of the paper (or well, audio) variety. A few days ago, I found myself in desperate need of just that – a hot, romantic steampunk read: part action, part interesting world and three parts swoon-worthy love story. With Kiss of Steel, that’s exactly what I got.
McMaster created a rather impressive world, one strong enough to be the foundation for a lengthy series, if necessary. Although steampunk is not her strong suit, the paranormal elements are strong, fairly original and convincing. The social structure is pretty standard, with blue bloods (not quite vampires, but close enough) pulling all the strings.
Now, Kiss of Steel may be many things, but steampunk it is not. Honestly, one drone does not a steampunk novel make! If I were to determine the genre and be nitpicky about it, I’d say Kiss of Steel is paranormal romance in a historical setting with minor elements of stempunk. Minor elements! As a huge fan of the genre, I dislike being misled in such a way. I don’t mind historical romances or bodice rippers, but I at least like to know what to expect.
Honoria Todd is had the potential to make this a fabulous read, but she, as the protagonist, ended up disappointing me severely. By showing admirable strength and character at certain moments, she gave me hope that she could be more than just an archetypal romance heroines, but each time, she would just slip into the usual patterns, making the disappointment that followed much more bitter.
Unlike Honoria, Blade is the shining star of this novel, a memorable and fascinating character, thought through to the finest detail. He too had more than a few characteristics of your typical paranormal romance hero – an awful reputation, the kindest of hearts and an extremely tortured past – but a few well placed details made him stand out in a way that simply didn’t extend to Honor.
Clever use of a dialect can easily turn a book from good to excellent. McMaster did such a fantastic job with Blade’s speech, telling us so much about his past and present with nothing more than the way he spoke. I admire authors who dare to try this. Admittedly, I’ve seen review complain about the Blade’s Cockney dialect in writing, but since I listened to the book and the narrator did such a fantastic job with it, I can’t really comment on that part, nor do I have a single objection on how it was done.
While the narrator, Alison Larkin, did an excellent job with Blade and Honoria, her secondary characters’ voices were positively dreadful – nasal, all alike and extremely irritating. With them, she gave the impression of not caring in the least, which ruined the final scene when most of them were present.
I will continue the series eventually, but this time I’ll know exactly what I’m getting myself into.