Those of us who’ve been waiting for Ungodly with bated breath knew right from the start that this would not be a lighthearted conclusion. Greek gods
Those of us who’ve been waiting for Ungodly with bated breath knew right from the start that this would not be a lighthearted conclusion. Greek gods come and do as they please and they tend to leave nothing but blood in their wake. So when you put those gods in the hands of someone like Kendare Blake, an author known for her talent in writing blood and gore, a bloody battle is pretty much what you’re going to get.
Our heroes, separated in battle, find themselves in three different places, fighting different fights. Hermes, Andy and Henry don’t know whether Athena and Cassandra survived. Athena herself is in Underworld, half crazed by Odysseus’s death. And Cassandra is just a ball of murderous rage, ready to kill all the gods, friends and foes alike. They each have their own adventures and trials, and it’s not until the second half that they collide.
Like in the two previous installments, I found Athena to be the most interesting character by far. This time she faces tremendous loss, more than she can bear, and she approaches it like she approaches everything, with no regard for her own safety. Her adventure in the Underworld is my favorite part of this book and her romance with a certain not-quite-mortal the thing that warmed my heart the most. A few more complex characters were added in this final installment, and several unlikely allies showed us a different side.
Characterization isn’t the only thing that Kendare Blake does extraordinarily well. Her descriptions are beautiful and precise and she doesn’t shy away from anything, no matter how bloody or painful it may be. With one goddess coughing up feathers, another’s skin stretched out for miles in the desert, and an emaciated god who keeps eating enormous amounts of food to no avail, there’s plenty of imagery to keep us occupied and grossed out.
The most important part of this trilogy and especially its final installment is the deep emotional impact it has on the reader. Kendare doesn’t always make it easy to sympathize with the gods, but she gives us just enough to become invested in their fates. The conflicting emotions we feel for them, our struggle between love and hate, is reflected perfectly in the characters of those few humans around them.
Now that it’s over, I’m going to miss the Antigoddess trilogy very much, but I am even now excited for Kendare Blake’s next project. She has the most amazing ideas and she truly knows how to carry them out. You really can’t go wrong by choosing one of her books.
For those of us who are great fans of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger couldn’t come soon enough. But for a lot
For those of us who are great fans of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger couldn’t come soon enough. But for a lot of us who’ve been expecting something similar to her debut, Carson’s sophomore project came as a complete surprise. Following the new Western trend in YA fiction, Carson takes us to a very real place in the middle of actual historical events, and adds just a touch of magic to spice it up a bit.
Carson’s writing is so compelling that it takes no effort at all to sink into one of her stories. Walk on Earth a Stranger is no different: a single chapter is more than enough to get caught in that page-turning frenzy. It helps that she keeps a steady, rather fast pacing the entire time, with peril for Lee and her friends at every turn.
Lee is on the run from her uncle ever since she realized that he killed her parents in a plot to control her and her ability to sense gold. Her goal is to reach California, where gold is said to be lying on the ground, just waiting to be picked up. Her best friend Jefferson is already on his way. All Leah has to do is disguise herself as a boy and catch up to him as soon as she can.
For all the importance they are given, Leah’s powers don’t really get a major part in this book. It’s just another secret she has to hide on her way to California, along with being a girl and a runaway to boot. I really wanted to understand more about her ability to sense gold, and I wish it was used a bit more, but there is still plenty of time to develop that aspect.
It’s silly to talk about worldbuilding when the world wasn’t actually built. It was, however, researched, explored and described so beautifully. Carson has the ability to take us precisely where she wants us to be without going into endless wordy descriptions. All it takes is a few sentences and the setting becomes so vivid that we can almost see, hear and taste everything around Leah and her friends. The road from Georgia to California is merciless and harsh, hard on any living creature, and especially on a young girl pretending to be a boy. I love that we were given insight into the best and the worst of it and that not a single thing was hidden from our eyes.
The romance in this book is weak to the point of being non-existent. We’ve learned from our previous experiences with Carson not to count on anything when it comes to romance, which holds true in this case as well. I saw a lifelong friendship with some potential, but there was very little chemistry between Lee and Jefferson and virtually no passion to speak of. Perhaps that’s what Carson is aiming for. Not every love has to be of the sudden and desperate variety. There is beauty in comfort and absolute trust, and a friendship like theirs can be a far better foundation for something solid and lasting.
It’s quite obvious that what we have in our hands is only a part of Leah’s journey and that more is yet to come. The story doesn’t have a solid conclusion, nothing substantial to hold onto, just a single goal achieved and a lot of uncertainty ahead. ...more
3.5 stars Although it falls somewhere on the line between middle grade and young adult fiction, Seriously Wicked is a very entertaining book for reade
3.5 stars Although it falls somewhere on the line between middle grade and young adult fiction, Seriously Wicked is a very entertaining book for readers of all ages. In it, author Tina Connolly – known first and foremost for her Ironskin trilogy – allowed her imagination and her considerable sense of humor to run wild. The end result is a book that, despite being somewhat naïve and predictable, makes us laugh at every turn.
Camellia is a very reluctant witch’s apprentice, a fifteen-year-old forced to serve the witch but determined to thwart as many of her evil plots as she can. All Camellia wants is a normal life and normal friends, an existence that doesn’t include snakeskins, dragon’s milk and spells. Cam longs for her real parents or at least someone to love and appreciate her when all she gets from the witch are reprimands and more wicked demands.
Like once I refused to hold the neighbor’s cat so she could permanently mute its meow, and she turned me into fifteen hundred worms and made me compost the garden.
Seriously Wicked is a lighthearted read, very predictable in its development but entertaining nevertheless. We follow Camellia as she tries to stop the witch’s plan to overtake the city, save the new boy from demon possession and still keep up appearances with her teachers and friends. Camellia is reluctant to trust anyone despite having a few amazing people around her, but overall, I loved her for staying true to herself despite the witch’s overpowering presence.
The only thing that really missed the mark for me was the romance. I had my eye on a different boy for Camellia, even though she herself never gave him a second’s thought. I wanted someone whose appeal came from more than just his good looks, someone who was there for her, dependable and true. As the new boy, Devon was a bit of a mystery even before the demon possession and I didn’t get a clear picture of him until the end.
Seriously Wicked is appropriate for both middle grade and young adult readers. Although fairly short, it packs a lot of fun. ...more
3.5 stars The Fall by James Preller is one of those books that are difficult to read and even more difficult to rate, but nevertheless extremely impor
3.5 stars The Fall by James Preller is one of those books that are difficult to read and even more difficult to rate, but nevertheless extremely important. It addresses some crucial issues and subtly points out things we should all keep in mind. There are many books that deal with the subject of bullying, but usually it’s from the victim’s perspective or even the bully’s. Rarely does it come from a passive observer and reluctant participant, someone who does things they’re not proud of due to peer pressure and fear. In that, The Fall is very unique and successful in explaining how a series of small things can amount to something insurmountable.
The story isn’t told in the usual, linear narrative. It’s a diary of sorts, a collection of jumbled thoughts and poems written by a boy so deeply affected by a schoolmate’s suicide. His voice was done extremely well, the unapologetic, defiant parts mixed with desperation, regret and shame. Sam doesn’t hide his part in the girl’s suicide, but he reveals the full extent of it slowly, and through tragedy, he slowly builds himself into a much stronger individual.
The best part of Preller’s work is a very clear portrayal of the distance between adults and teens, especially in such situations, the ever-present ‘us and them mentality. Sam is forced to listen to so many adults in the aftermath of this tragedy, and he even knows that what they’re saying is important, but it’s just background noise from him because no matter how useful it might be, it’s coming from the wrong source.
Overall, The Fall misses some marks but gets some so very right. It may not be obviously, superficially emotional, but it’s a strong, important read that doesn’t fully reveal itself until the very end. ...more
The Girl in the Road follows bravely in the footsteps of some of the most famous science fiction authors. It is a very ambitious debut project, but M
The Girl in the Road follows bravely in the footsteps of some of the most famous science fiction authors. It is a very ambitious debut project, but Monica Byrne is more than up to the task. In it, she offers an elaborate vision of our future, focusing mostly on new energy sources. Byrne takes her time in explaining the new sources of energy and the advancements in existing ones. Her imagination is largely based on possibilities and probabilities, which gives her world an almost tangible quality. In addition, with a story set partly in India and partly in Africa, she gives us a clear view of different cultures with a very modern twist.
Bryne’s writing style is very thick, lush and intense. She sometimes jumps randomly from memory to memory, event to event, which gives her narrative a dreamlike quality, an amount of uncertainty in how much of it is real and how much is happening inside Meena’s head. And Meena’s head, let me tell you, is a wondrous place, filled with seemingly odd conclusions and paranoid jumps.
The story is full of symbolism, with meaning hidden behind meaning in several layers. Snake is the most prominent symbol, often mentioned throughout the book, reminding us constantly of ouroboros, the mythological symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail. It symbolizes renewal, the endless cycle, things that end only to begin again. It’s easy to see why it is central in Meena’s story.
“The snake begins and ends all things, of course.”
The Girl in the Road is practically bursting from diversity of all types. Meena is Ethiopian and bisexual and her former lover – her one great love – transitioned from man to woman while they were together. When you add to that cultural diversity, The Girl in the Road becomes a novel one can read, enjoy, but also learn from. Byrne approaches all these things matter-of-factly, as one should, and the result is a book that is freeing and feministic, even though it might make a more conservative reader run for the hills.
Neil Gaiman wrote that it is transfixing to watch Monica Byrne become a major player in science fiction, and as usual, Neil Gaiman was right. With such a strong debut behind her, who knows what she has in store for us next. ...more
What could be more difficult (and more improbable) than a catholic priest and a rock star who’ve been deeply in love since childhood? It is a questio
What could be more difficult (and more improbable) than a catholic priest and a rock star who’ve been deeply in love since childhood? It is a question Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn decided to explore together, and I dare say they found the perfect answer in their new novel, Vespertine.
Nico Blue has reached an all-time low. Things just don’t hold the same appeal they used to, not the fans, not the music, and certainly not the drugs. Being a rock star isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, not when you’re doing it without the most important person in your life. But Father Jasper Hendricks is a distant dream for Nico Blue. He was once everything to young Nicholas Blumfield, but then he decided to follow his calling and dedicate his life to God. It’s been years since the two last laid eyes on each other, but with Nico desperate to recover, he has nowhere to go but home.
Once there, Nico becomes Nicky again, and tries desperately to let go of anger and resentment, which is a lot harder than it seems with Father Jazz around to show him what he’s lost. But Jasper himself isn’t as firm in his determination to stay away from Nicky. His calling might be honest, but it maybe isn’t strong enough to hold against Nicky’s appeal.
The progression and the trials of their relationship seemed very honest to me. Neither of them was quick to jump into it and let go of years of different expectations. They had very different plans and they took the time to get to know each other as adults before they decided that their love was strong enough to give up everything else for. The book also highlights the dark side of both worlds, that of rock stars and the church and both men have to work together to find common ground after all that time.
Aside from being almost torturously romantic, Vespertine brings to light some major issues of LGBT youth. Jasper’s work with these kids is equally as important as his love for Nicky and that part of the novel was handled with great care and sensitivity.
Vespertine is everything you want a romance to be: it’s painful, exciting, emotional, deeply romantic, at times desperate, joyful and even illuminating. Aside from being a story about two complex, wonderful men, it makes us think (more) about the problems of kids who don’t quite fit the social norms. ...more
For your average romance reader, a Mary Calmes book is better than cupcakes, better than tropical beaches, better than crack. There’s just something
For your average romance reader, a Mary Calmes book is better than cupcakes, better than tropical beaches, better than crack. There’s just something about the strength of devotion between her characters that captivates right on the first page. Her characters are always more than a bit eccentric, some are even a bit unhinged, but they are all magnetic and irresistible, for readers and their romantic interests both. I’ve been a fan of Mary’s books for years, and although she keeps producing the same type of romance over and over again, my idea of heaven remains one Mary Calmes book per day.
Fit to be Tied is the second in her Marshals series, loosely connected to her Matter of Time series. We rejoin Miro and Ian, partners at work and partners in life, several months after they finally acknowledged their love for each other. Things are going well for them and they love each other desperately, but while Miro is all in, Ian refuses to get married. This part of the book was very painful for me. The desperate love these two share was obvious on every page, but I kept imagining Miro down on one knee, being turned down by the love of his life. Ian had his reasons and they were valid ones, but the hurt was unbearably strong at times.
Professionally, things are going well for them both. Their newly promoted boss, our very own Sam Kage (SAM!), knows precisely how to handle them. When a serial killer escapes from a maximum security prison, a psychopath determined to hurt his arresting officer Miro Jones, Sam comes up with a plan that should keep both Ian and Miro safe.
The best thing is that even when they strongly disagree, Miro and Ian never fail to acknowledge the fact that they can’t and won’t live without each other. They need one another more than they need their next breath and they are extremely vocal about it. They are both frighteningly possessive, but instead of being overwhelming and psychotic, their connection and possessiveness just work.
As far as I’m concerned, the next book by Mary Calmes can’t come soon enough. Her plots are generally outlandish and her characters are always just a tiny bit crazy, but that’s precisely why we love them. In Mary’s case, reviews can’t convince anyone of the appeal… it’s something everyone has to experience for themselves. ...more
Sloe Ride is the fourth book in Rhys Ford’s Sinners series, in which cops and rock stars collide to create compelling mysteries and sizzling romances
Sloe Ride is the fourth book in Rhys Ford’s Sinners series, in which cops and rock stars collide to create compelling mysteries and sizzling romances. It has been more than a year between books so some will have to refresh their memory a little bit, but the Morgan brothers (and assorted relatives) make it very easy to sink back into their world.
In the beginning of Sloe Ride, we see Rafe’s decline into addiction and self-destructiveness, and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s easy to dismiss him as just another spoiled rock star, which is exactly what he is. It’s difficult to sympathize with someone when seeing him at his worst, without really knowing how he got there or what caused him to become that way. Ford pushed the limits with Rafe, coming almost to the point of no redemption, but then she pulled him back beautifully by giving him direction and purpose and making him find his way.
Quinn, the odd one out among the Morgan brothers, has always been likeable, if a bit antisocial and odd. It was made quite obvious, though not addressed directly, that Quinn falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. He is brilliant, but he doesn’t pick up social cues easily and he struggles with things other people find easy, like crowds, or even flirting.
The mystery was done well, as usual. One can always trust Rhys to make it exciting and compelling. She knows how to write a real page turner, and if the romance itself isn’t enough to keep us interested (which it is), there are plenty of murders to keep us glued to our e-readers. Oddly, Rhys’s style bothered me somewhat in this book. It was a bit more choppy and disjointed and I had a hard time following the events, but even that wasn’t enough to seriously diminish my reading enjoyment.
Sloe Ride may be the weakest of the four books, but that’s not saying much when it comes to Rhys Ford. This is an author who knows how to create a mystery, how to lure us in with the promise of excitement and breathtaking romance. Weak or not, Rhys always delivers more than most authors have to offer, and picking up one of her books is a pretty safe bet. ...more
4.5 stars A series that’s still exciting and fresh after no less than 41 installments is truly something to admire. I don’t think there are many autho
4.5 stars A series that’s still exciting and fresh after no less than 41 installments is truly something to admire. I don’t think there are many authors who can produce such a thing, and in fact, I know only of one: the wonderful, the incomparable J.D Robb, or Nora Roberts, if you will.
In Death series is a wonderful blend of romance, thriller and futuristic police procedurals. The futuristic setting sets it apart from others of its genre, as do the strong relationships between characters, both primary and secondary. There are many things about Robb’s recipe that work, and more than one reason why this series has consistently made #1 on the New York Times list.
In Devoted in Death, Eve and her team work to catch a pair of spree killers who’ve been running wild across the country. The couple of deranged lovebirds are leaving behind a trail of dead bodies, tortured and mutilated beyond comprehension, and Eve must use her considerable resources and her husband’s help to catch them. I generally don’t enjoy crime stories that offer the killers’ perspective. I don’t like knowing things and waiting for the investigators to catch up. But even with that, Robb does what no one else can do – she makes the hunt itself interesting enough to make up for the fact that we know who is being hunted. I must confess that I skimmed through several short insights into the victim’s mind, though. I can stomach most things – blood and gore don’t bother me at all – but rape isn’t one of them, no matter how subtly described. Overall, though, Robb is perfect at bringing forth every side of a crime, every emotion that occurs in the process, be it the killer’s, the victim’s or the investigators. She’s also perfect at building lives around her dead bodies, at showing us people after she shows us their deaths, so that we suffer and cry and mourn them right alongside their families.
Eve and Roarke have such a beautiful, unique relationship. It is a pillar that holds the series, but it doesn’t take attention away from the actual crime. I know people have been expecting some progression in their relationship, but I’m really happy with how things are. It’s been 41 books for us, but only three years for them. Things feel so deeply and utterly right.
Eve’s team is as strong as ever, with one very interesting addition in this installment. It takes a lot to create such a strong cast of characters, but that’s only to be expected in the 41st installment. At this point, I think I love Peabody She-Body, McNabb, Mira and everyone else just as much as I love Eve and Roarke, as impossible as that sounds.
We’ll have to wait almost a year for the next installment, but there’s plenty to reread until then. I have no doubt that I’m going to love as many books as Robb decides to write.