No matter how many books I review, I so rarely describe them as beautiful, and yet, when I started thinking about Aristotle and Dante, beautiful was t...moreNo matter how many books I review, I so rarely describe them as beautiful, and yet, when I started thinking about Aristotle and Dante, beautiful was the only word that pushed itself to the forefront of my mind. It is a gorgeously written, warm little book that would melt even the most hardened of hearts. The second I finished it, I found myself torn between the need to celebrate it rather loudly, and the odd desire to keep it jealously to myself. Alas, with the well-deserved Printz medal on its cover, keeping it to myself was not an option, so here I am, ready to shout my love for all the world to hear.
Aristotle Mendoza is a boy angry at the world: at his father for keeping silent about the war, at his mother for practically erasing his incarcerated brother from their lives, at his sisters for being older and distant and at his friend Dante, mostly for being himself. Primarily, though, he’s angry at himself for not being able to change any of it.
Aside from Dante, Ari doesn’t have any friends, and his friendship with Dante is often awkward and confusing. Unlike Ari, Dante has no trouble speaking his mind and showing his more vulnerable side. He is open and lovable, sometimes perhaps too much of both.
It would be hard enough to be two Mexican boys in 1980’s Texas, but their challenges don’t end there. Each of them has family issues, insecurities, struggles and fears to deal with, and no matter how strong their friendship, it is always in danger of stretching thin.
Love was always something heavy for me. Something I have to carry.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz wrote this story with surprising candor. He created these two boys and placed them into roles they often found most uncomfortable: those of devoted sons, reluctant heroes, and teenage boys in love.
And another thing: if you can, get this one on audio. Lin-Manuel Miranda added a little something of himself to this story and made it even better, as unbelievable as that sounds. The fear of a young boy faced with big decisions felt even more real coming from his mouth, not to mention the accents without which this book just wouldn’t be the same.
It’s safe to say that Wrong Ways Down is the best thing that happened to urban fantasy in a very long time. With this long-awaited, anxiously anticipa...moreIt’s safe to say that Wrong Ways Down is the best thing that happened to urban fantasy in a very long time. With this long-awaited, anxiously anticipated and rather longish novella told from Terrible’s POV, Stacia Kane gave her readers exactly what they desperately needed – a glimpse into the complicated psyche of a well-beloved character.
If you know anything about Stacia’s books, you might have noticed that she doesn’t have almost-fans or lukewarm readers. People either hate or love her books, but for those who have loved the previous five novels, Wrong Ways Down will seem like a gift fallen from the sky. Not only do we get to see the inner workings of Terrible’s mind, but we get to see Chess through his eyes: a beautiful, confident and well-put-together version of her.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was always painfully aware of Terrible’s insecurities, although it’s easy enough to forget them while seeing his strength through Chess’s eyes. In Wrong Ways Down, Stacia Kane brings them all skillfully to light, thus giving a new and much needed dimension to a well-loved character. Suddenly, Terrible doesn’t seem neither untouchable nor invincible. He is as vulnerable as you and me, but all the better for it.
And when he was doing it, using his fists, his whole body... he felt right. Like his body did the thinking he mind couldn't seem to get, and when he was fighting he thought faster than anyone else. If fists were brains he was the smartest dude in the city, and he couldn't help how that made him feel good.
Terrible’s POV means that Downspeech is heavier than ever. Chess’s education is evident in her narration, as is Terrible’s lack of one. Stacia proved herself as a writer a hundred times over even before this novella, but for this, she should get a standing ovation. Everything about Terrible’s language was consistent and well-thought-out and Kane’s attention to details. I hope someone someday will write a paper about it, purely from a grammatical standpoint.
I realize $6 seems like a lot for a novella (that’s the EU price, I’m not sure about US), but Wrong Ways Down is actually the length of a short novel, and brilliant to boot, so trust me when I say it’s money well spent. In addition, I don’t often see a self published work that is so well edited and has such a wonderful, non-generic cover.
Downside fans, get yourselves a copy as soon as possible. The rest of you don’t know what you’re missing. :)
It wasn’t easy to organize my thoughts on this book. It’s been a while since I’d added something to my ‘books that changed me’ shelf, and although Gon...moreIt wasn’t easy to organize my thoughts on this book. It’s been a while since I’d added something to my ‘books that changed me’ shelf, and although Gone, Gone, Gone didn’t affect me as strongly as Raw Blue, for example, I’m pretty sure it’ll stay with me for a very long time. Truthfully, for a while I even thought my rating would be four or four and a half stars, but then I decided that I need to make it abundantly clear that this is a book everyone needs to read, and that it’s likely to change at least some small part of you and show you beauty in that calm, quiet way I’ve learned to appreciate.
A year after 9/11, two 15-year-old boys in Maryland are trying to find a way to live with themselves, and then maybe with each other. Craig’s boyfriend Cody went a little crazy after his father died in the Pentagon on 9/11. Craig is trying to get over him by taking care of as many animals as he possibly can, but he’s mostly unsuccessful. Even though he’s only 15, the loss of his lifelong friend and first boyfriend changed Craig irreparably. That’s why he’s fighting so strongly against his attraction towards the new boy in school, Lio. Abandoned by his mother, Lio just moved from New York to Maryland with his father and two sisters. When they were children, both he and his identical twin got leukemia – the only difference is that Lio made it, and his brother didn’t. He is a quiet, quirky boy who rarely talks and dyes his hair many different colors at once.
These two boys – I can’t bring myself to call them characters – will warm their way into your heart before you even realize what’s happening. Hannah Moskowitz left nothing to chance. She built two people with fears, habits and family connections, people that are incredibly complex, but identifiable, and so fragile that it’s impossible not to love them and feel protective towards them.
I really can’t go into this right now. I probably shouldn’t have kissed him back. But I’ve sort of wanted to kiss him ever since I saw his fucked-up hair that day in Ms. Hoole’s class, and really since the conversation right after, when he told me he cuts it when he’s nervous, and I immediately wanted to know everything in the whole world that makes him nervous, and everything in the whole world about him.
Although it tackles hard subjects such as cancer, loss of a family member and insanity, Gone, Gone, Gone is essentially a warm and hopeful story. It’s a book I want my kid and my nephews to read when they reach their teens, along with Suicide Notes and Brooklyn, Burning. I have an e-arc of this (thank you, S&S), but I’ll preorder a copy for myself right this second, and while I’m at it, I’ll get one for my sister as well. I have a feeling this book will bring a smile to my face whenever I see it on my shelf and I’ll certainly want to reread it many times in years to come.
4.5 stars A few weeks ago, Patty Briggs and her husband Mike joined a chat room to discuss both Frost Burned and Patty’s previous books. The idea was t...more4.5 stars A few weeks ago, Patty Briggs and her husband Mike joined a chat room to discuss both Frost Burned and Patty’s previous books. The idea was to discuss each Mercy Thompson book separately, but that’s not how it went in the end. I was able to join them just once because the timing didn’t work for me, but the half hour I spent talking to Patty and her fans further convinced me that she is both a great author and a very pleasant person. When I shared with her my opinion that Fair Game, her third Charles and Anna book, is the best one she’s ever written, she assured me that Frost Burned is even better. At the time, I took that statement with a healthy dose of skepticism, but now that I’ve finally read it, I both agree and disagree with Patty.
Frost Burned is neither better nor worse than Fair Game – both are as good as urban fantasy can get. From the first Mercy Thompson book (so far there are ten books in this universe), Patty has been getting better and better. In pacing, characterization and plot development, she has reached perfection. Big words, you say? Well, yeah, but so is this series.
After all that fear of her mate bond and of losing herself to the pack, it was nice to see Mercy so comfortable in her role as mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack. She and Adam have such a beautiful, healthy relationship. In River Marked, Mercy was feeling more comfortable as part of the pack, but she was still adjusting and she still had her doubts. In Frost Burned, she is truly the Alpha’s mate – she thinks as one, acts as one, and protects as one.
I was going to have to come up with a rank for myself besides Alpha’s mate. In the pack, I was just Mercy – but if ten more people called me the Alpha’s mate, I was going to hit someone. It sounded like a chess move.
The addition of Adam’s point of view was so very unexpected that I had to take a moment to think about it and decide whether I liked it or not. I certainly understand the need: Adam and Mercy spent most of this book apart and their mate bond can only be used so much. Besides, I feel that I now understand Adam just a bit better, and Patty did an excellent job writing from a male perspective. And yet, something bothered me about it, and it took me a while to figure it out. It wasn’t the change in perspective, it was the switch from first-person view to third person view. I wish she’d done both Mercy and Adam in first person. I think that would have worked much better.
Although he was mostly absent from the second half of this book, one Mr. Kyle Brooks stole the first half all to himself. Yes, that’s right – an ordinary human (though admittedly a lawyer) won me over by being a bigger hero than all those other heroes Briggs has created. Kyle has always been the brightest star in Mercy’s universe, but I felt that hi finally got due respect in Frost Burned.
All of the secondary characters appeared, at least for a little while, with the exception of Samuel and Bran. I didn’t miss Samuel all that much (I never did warm up to him), but I missed Bran greatly. He was a constant comforting presence both in Mercy’s mind and mine, but I missed his subtle sense of humor and everything else that makes him who he is.
Those of you who are still unfamiliar with my favorite coyote and her wolves should consider giving this series a chance. And I doubt I need to say anything to those of you who’ve read this series before except: We waited two years for Frost Burned to be released and now it’s finally out. Yaaaay!
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. 4.5 stars
Not many authors can scare you to death by eliciting vivid, gruesome imagery and,...moreJust your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. 4.5 stars
Not many authors can scare you to death by eliciting vivid, gruesome imagery and, at the same time, take your breath away with sheer beauty of their prose. I never expected Kendare Blake to be one of those authors – that’s why her book took me completely by surprise. It was very different from what I thought it would be. When I choose a book based on a beautiful cover and an intriguing title (and yes, I really AM that shallow), especially one that none of my friends have read, I usually end up disappointed. Anna Dressed in Blood undoubtedly looks amazing and has a memorable title, but the most interesting part is right where it should be – between the covers.
Cassius Theseus Lowood grew up in an unconventional family. His mother is a white witch and his father was in the business of killing the dead for the second time, at least until one of the ghosts he was hunting murdered him in the most gruesome way. In Cas’s world, dead people often don’t want to leave the place where they died, especially if they were victims of a violent crime. Instead, they stay behind as monstrous echoes of their former selves – most of them seeking revenge for the horrors they experienced. When Cas’s father died, Cas inherited his duties and his powerful athame. He’s been moving all over the country and killing ghosts since he was 14 years old. But he’s never run into a ghost as powerful as Anna nor did he ever try so hard to understand what drives a dead person to murder innocent people. Anna is different in every way. She was killed in 1958. while walking to the prom in her beautiful white dress. When her throat was slit, blood covered her entirely, thus earning her the name Anna Dressed in Blood. Someone cut her throat, but that’s an understatement. Someone nearly cut her head clean off. They say she was wearing a white party dress, and when they found her, the whole thing was stained red. That’s why they call her Anna Dressed in Blood.
Ever since her murder, Anna’s been tied to the house she grew up in. Twenty seven people have tried to enter, and none of them came out alive.
Nothing is black and white in Anna's story: she is both a killer and a victim, a horrible monster and an innocent girl – and just when you think you figured her out, she turns around and does something completely unexpected! Her entire personality changes as quickly as her appearance which forces Cas to doubt every single choice he made since the beginning of his hunt.
I don’t usually watch horror movies and I always do my best to avoid horror novels, (view spoiler)[Oh, so what? I live alone and I scare easily. :D (hide spoiler)], but black witches, white witches, people trapped in walls, Voodoo, athames, ghost hunting, cursed objects, a strong male protagonist and unexpected developments made me very happy that I decided to read this book. I really hope it gets the attention it deserves. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
< i>Every time he looked at me I felt like I’d touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. In art class I’d watch him lean back and lis...more4.5 stars.
< i>Every time he looked at me I felt like I’d touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. In art class I’d watch him lean back and listen and I was nothing but zing and tingle. After a while the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I had nothing in common with a sheddy like him, but a girl doesn’t think straight when she’s that close to electrocution.
Wow. My GoodReads friends are all people with excellent taste. I thought so before, but I’m sure of it now. A few of you took the time to notice what I like and recommend this book to me. Thank you! And a special thanks to Lisa O. and her lovely review for making me read this when I did. Anyway, where was I?
The strength of Crowley's novel isn’t so much in the story itself as it is in the poetic writing that left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong: her writing isn’t overly descriptive. She doesn’t go on and on about places, events or works of art. Somehow she says more in one sentence than most people are able to say in twenty. She also has an excellent sense of humor and I found myself crying with laughter over some of her passages.
I know they still love each other, but I guess love is kind of like a marshmallow in a microwave on high. After it explodes, it’s still a marshmallow. But, you know, now it’s a complicated marshmallow.
Lucy doesn’t date regular guys. She went out on one date in her life and ended up breaking the guy’s nose. The fact that her parents spent two straight months screaming at each other isn’t helping her at all. Instead, she dreams about meeting a graffiti artist called Shadow, convinced that he is the guy who could never disappoint her.
Ed left school when it became obvious that he won’t be able to hide his dyslexia much longer. It also happened to be right around the time when Lucy broke his nose on their first date. Words don’t mean anything to him, but he draws the most amazing graffiti all over town. He is Shadow and his best friend Leo is Poet. And he wishes Shadow was as amazing as Lucy seems to believe he is.
Jazz and Leo are both weird in their own way but they might be compatible. He only needs to find the courage to tell her that he’s actually Poet, the guy whose works she’s been admiring all over town. It may sound easy, but once you get tangled in your own lies, it’s very hard to tell the truth.
All of them end up together in a pink van where the truth must come out - whether they like it or not.
There’s something in this book for everyone: amazing writing, poetry, flawless characters, a funny story, love, glass, art, pink van and criminals. Highly recommended. (less)
You know that feeling when you’re floating on water? All your senses are dampened, you are weightless, careless and completely relaxed. There...more5.5 stars
You know that feeling when you’re floating on water? All your senses are dampened, you are weightless, careless and completely relaxed. There aren’t any loud sounds, you are safe, perfectly happy and everything else seems a mile away... That’s EXACTLY how Maggie Stiefvater’s writing makes me feel. I want to hug this book and never ever let it out of my sight.
Grace and Sam are finally together, but they live in fear. They are constantly afraid that things will go back to the way they were before, and unfortunately, it’s not something either of them can control. There are several new wolves in the woods and it’s up to Sam to take care of them all now – the old and the new. In addition, Grace’s parents finally started noticing things and decided to start honing their parenting skills.
Linger brings us two additional POVs. We get to see some of the events through the eyes of Isabel, to whom we were introduced in Shiver, and Cole, one of the new wolves. The two of them are so very different from Sam and Grace and having four POVs instead of two brought amazing balance to the story. While this would certainly bother me in Shiver, I was thrilled by it now. That doesn’t mean that I like Grace and Sam any less. In fact, if I had feelings for those characters before, it was nothing compared to how I feel about them now. They are both beautiful and strong in their own way. I’ve noticed that my favorite quotes usually come from Sam’s chapters, although Grace has her moments, too. There’s a reason for that, of course. Sam is just the type of gentle soul I can start loving in a heartbeat, and after all, he’s supposed to be good with words. There isn’t a character in YA literature I could ever love more than I love Sam. A look in his eyes is all it takes to make me cry!
I did my best to find a flaw in Linger – this may sound odd, but I wanted to have at least one small thing to complain about because I thought it would add credibility to the rest of my review. I tried my best and failed miserably. Oh, I’ve read my friends’ reviews but I simply don’t agree with any of them. The first half was not slow for me, it was soft and beautiful. Isabel and Cole weren’t irritating, they were troubled and interesting. The prose wasn’t purple, it was… I already said that, didn’t I? I could go on and on for days, but it wouldn’t do much good. This is the second book in a series that needs to be read in order. If you liked Shiver, you are going to like Linger too, I have no doubt about it. (less)
I am breathless, speechless and whateverless (probably mindless) at the moment. The best I can do is quote my favorite, if sometimes cowardly Newsie,...moreI am breathless, speechless and whateverless (probably mindless) at the moment. The best I can do is quote my favorite, if sometimes cowardly Newsie, Alaric Kwong:
"Son of a chicken-fucking soy farmer and a diseased convention-center security guard."
4.5 stars Holly Black, where have you been my whole life?
We are, largely, who we remember ourselves to be. That’s why habits are so hard to break. If...more4.5 stars Holly Black, where have you been my whole life?
We are, largely, who we remember ourselves to be. That’s why habits are so hard to break. If we know ourselves to be liars, we expect not to tell the truth. If we think of ourselves as honest, we try harder.
But what happens when you are forced to doubt every single memory that makes you who you are?!
This book has definitely made it to my ‘top ten young adult books’ list. It came at the right time and it was just what I needed: angst-free and fun.
Let’s start with the main character, Cassel (whom I keep calling Vincent for obvious reasons). I love it when female authors succeed in creating a strong male voice, a thing that doesn’t happen often enough. Lish McBride did it in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Holly Black did it with Cassel. I really felt like I was inside a boy’s head. That’s not to say that Cassel didn’t have emotional moments and uncertainties, of course he did, they were just handled differently. In creating this character, Black followed all the usual conventions, but in a way that was new and refreshing. For example, I just want to be normal is a very common problem for YA protagonists and I usually find it eyeroll-inducing. With Cassel it felt genuine, probably because he didn’t whine about it, but instead acted in such a way that made him look more like other people his age. The desire was present in all his decisions – from the school he chose to attended to the girl he used to date.
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers, people with magical ability (only they call it talent, not magic) to influence other people using minimal skin-to-skin contact. His mother is an Emotion worker currently in jail for working some very rich guy into falling in love with her, his grandfather can literally kill people with a single touch and his two older brothers are extremely talented as well. Cassel is the only one without a real talent, a fact he makes up for by being an excellent con artist and an occasional thief – both skills that are highly admired in his family.
White Cat kept me interested from start to finish. I could read this type of stories for the rest of my life without getting bored. It’s always interesting when your narrator can’t be sure of his own memories or anything else for that matter, but when you have all that in first person, it’s especially confusing and so much fun!
Favorite quote: I consider kissing her right there on the dirty couch, but some instinct of self-preservation stops me. Once someone’s hurt you, it’s harder to relax around them, harder to think of them as safe to love. But it doesn’t stop you from wanting them. Sometimes I actually think it makes the wanting worse.
The fascinating and detailed world Holly Black created left me wanting more! I can’t wait to get my hands on Red Glove audio, narrated by Jesse Eisenberg. (less)
I have to admit I don't know the first thing about videogames. The only game I've ever played was StarCraft, a gazillion years ago, and to be...more4.5 stars
I have to admit I don't know the first thing about videogames. The only game I've ever played was StarCraft, a gazillion years ago, and to be honest, I sucked at it. So when this book started with a story about videogames and their creators, I figured I was in serious trouble. However, Cline really took the time to explain OASIS, and he did it in a way that is accessible to everyone, even someone like me. What's more, his descriptions were detailed, but never boring. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Halliday, Morrow and their amazing creation, OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), which is essentially a way to escape the grim reality.
The OASIS would ultimately change the way people around the world lived, worked, and communicated. It would transform entertainment, social networking, and even global politics. Even though it was initially marketed as a new kind of massively multiplayer online game, the OASIS quickly evolved into a new way of life.
Our story begins when James Halliday, creator of OASIS, dies without an heir. He leaves a short video with instructions for what is basically a treasure hunt. He explains that he has hidden an Easter egg somewhere in OASIS, and that the person who finds it will be the one to inherit everything he owns. He has also hidden three keys that can help hunters in finding the egg. Hundreds of millions of egg hunters (gunters) spend the next five years searching without success.
Our hero, Wade, is a very poor 18-year-old boy, obsessed with Halliday and OASIS. From the day Halliday died, Wade has spent every waking moment trying to learn everything there is to know about OASIS and its creator, convinced that the key to finding the egg lies somewhere in details of Halliday’s life. At one point he even admits he knows more about Halliday than Halliday himself. So it’s no surprise that after five long years, Wade is the one to figure out the location of the copper key and become famous over night. As a result, he suddenly has to face blackmails, betrayals, life-threatening situations and outright attempts of murder.
There’s another gunter close to finding the egg. Her name is Art3mis and she's a girl Parzival (Wade) has had a crush on for the last five years or so. They’ve never met in person and they don’t know each other’s real names, but they soon start running into each other all over OASIS. They’re supposed to be rivals, but Wade just refuses to see it that way.
I wouldn't exactly call Ready Player One dystopian. First of all, the comparison with real dystopian YA novels won't do any favors to this book. I think it would even turn away a part of the intended audience. Second of all, the world described is ugly and hopeless, but not in an exaggerated way, meaning that everything in it can be reasonably expected in the foreseeable future. I'm guessing that the world in 2045. will look very much like the one Ernest Cline described.
I would love to comment on Cline's writing, but I really can’t. His story is so compelling that, after a time, I stopped noticing the actual words and started living everything he wanted me to. In Wade’s words: I quickly lost track of time. I forgot that my avatar was sitting on Halliday’s bedroom and that, in reality, I was sitting in my hideout, huddled near the electric heater, tapping at the empty air in front of me, entering commands on an imaginary keyboard. All of the intervening layers slipped away, and I lost myself in the game within the game.
Ready Player One is an intense, action-packed story. Incredibly enough, it is Ernest Cline’s debut novel. I can’t wait to see what he does next!
Favorite quote: I watched a lot of YouTube videos of cute geeky girls playing ‘80s cover tunes on ukuleles. Technically, that wasn’t part of my research, but I had a serious cute-geeky-girls-playing-ukuleles fetish that I can neither explain nor defend. (less)
There's a reason why satire isn't among the most popular literary genres. It has to be extremely well written and you need to be open to that...more3.5 stars
There's a reason why satire isn't among the most popular literary genres. It has to be extremely well written and you need to be open to that type of humor for it to work. But if you do like that sort of thing, and if the author is someone you can trust to be funny without being (too) offensive, you’re probably in for a great reading experience.
When the Kiev zoo suffers yet another budget cut, they start looking for people willing to take zoo animals as pets. Viktor, being a solitary and somewhat eccentric writer, chooses to adopt a penguin named Misha. Together, he and Misha move into a small apartment where they spend the next year struggling to make ends meet. Viktor occasionally sells a story to the newspaper, but there are months when they barely scrape by. So when the newspaper editor offers Viktor a strange, but intriguing and well paid job, he is quick to accept. What the editor needs is someone to write obituaries in advance, seeing as he was caught unprepared on more than one occasion. When someone famous dies, the newspaper needs to have a touching obituary ready for print. It is now Viktor’s job to make a list of the most influential people, gather information about their lives, write an obituary and sign it with a vague ‘A group of friends’.
”What we’re after is a gifted obituarist, master of the succinct. Snappy, pithy, way-out stuff’s the idea. You with me?” He looked hopefully at Viktor. “Sit in an office, you mean, and wait for deaths?” Viktor asked warily, as if fearing to hear as much confirmed. “No, of course not! Far more interesting and responsible than that. What you’d have to do is create, from scratch, an index of obelisk jobs – as we call obituaries – to include deputies and gangsters, down to the cultural scene – that sort of person – while they’re still alive.”
His job may not be something to write home about, but Viktor soon discovers that he excels at it. He is so good, in fact, that he starts getting requests from other clients as well. His only problem is that his works are not getting published since no one has actually died. But that is something a friend and client of his, Misha-non-penguin, might be willing to fix - even without Viktor’s knowledge!
What could be the favorite pastime of a bored writer and his pet penguin with a depressive syndrome? That’s easy – ice fishing! This entire novel is an orgy of absurdity. Nothing in it makes any sense at all! The only thing that makes sense is how much I enjoyed reading it and how much I’m looking forward to reading Penguin Lost.(less)
The city of Scranton, Pennsylvania abounds with supernatural beings of all sorts – vampires, werewolves, ghouls, wizards and the occasional demon. Of...moreThe city of Scranton, Pennsylvania abounds with supernatural beings of all sorts – vampires, werewolves, ghouls, wizards and the occasional demon. Of course, with all this magic out in the open, the ‘live and let unlive’ policy the city is so proud of doesn’t always work out very well. There are witches who use black magic, a vampire is likely to bite an unwilling victim (especially if he thinks he can get away with it) and goblins have developed a liking for bank robberies and meth. The Occult Crime Unit, where only the best and the craziest detectives can find their place, was formed to deal with such cases.
My name is Markowski. I carry a badge.
When a wizard turned vampire gets killed in the most gruesome way, detective Stanley Markowski and his new partner are called to investigate. Normally Stan wouldn’t lose much sleep over a dead vampire or ten, but this case feels like the beginning of something much larger and far more dangerous. As it turns out, the vampire was the keeper of an incredibly dangerous book called Opus Mago. Here’s how the leader of the supernatural community explains it: Making use of the spells contained in the Opus Mago would be similar to what a friend of mine once said about studying the work of the philosopher Hegel: one must be highly intelligent in order to do such, and profoundly stupid to wish to. It would seem that one such person has arrived in Stranton and it’s now up to Stan and his partner Karl to stop him or her while there’s still time.
Whenever I discover an exciting new urban fantasy series, I feel like a child on Christmas morning. Thanks to Justin Gustainis, I’ve opened my presents early this year! I have to be honest here: I was a little skeptical when I requested Hard Spell. I thought it might be ok at best, but I never even considered the possibility that it would be this good. A male author and a male protagonist are very uncommon in urban fantasy – that’s why the quality of this book makes me even happier. Gustainis did everything right: his world is just dark enough to make you worry about the characters, there are enough funny moments to break the tension, and the plot doesn’t drag for a second!
For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t t...moreFor the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t taken our humanity. No, we’d given that up on our own.
Being a teenager in a world covered with ashes is not easy at all. Alex discovered that after the eruption of a volcano in Yellowstone National Park. His parents and his little sister had left town just before the earth started to shake and Alex was left all alone in a burning house with no one but himself and two friendly neighbors to rely on. Pretty soon he decided to go on a journey with the hope of finding his family. Since walking was obviously not an option, he found his father’s old skis and prayed that he’ll be able to travel a hundred miles to his uncle’s house on them.
Even if I’d somehow failed to notice the name of the author, it would be very clear to me that Ashfall was written by a man, and I mean that in the best possible way. Details of taekwondo moves, very realistic interpersonal relationships and descriptions of natural physical urges were just a few telling signs. The love between Alex and Darla was beautiful and refreshing, especially when compared to all the exaggerated and unconvincing romances we came to expect in postapocalyptic YA literature. I loved the way Mullin reversed their roles and removed them from all stereotypes. Darla is a mechanic and an innovator, she is interested in tools and she is, without a doubt, the tough one in their relationship. That’s not to say that Alex is weak or that there’s anything remotely epicene about him. He is resourceful, mature and strong. Sure, sometimes he lets his temper get the best of him, but mostly he is calm and more level-headed than any 15-year-old I’ve ever met.(view spoiler)[In fact, he was a little too perfect at times. A teenage boy refusing sex because there are no condoms around? *snorts* (hide spoiler)]
My biggest problem with Ashfall was the pacing. It was really fast at the beginning which was great and it helped me with getting into the story. However, it remained the same throughout the novel – it never slowed down or sped up and after a while, I got lulled into the rhythm and the initial excitement was gone. The pacing really needs to oscillate in order to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, this led to a highly anticlimactic ending. I understand there will be a second book next year, but I still needed to have some sense of closure to be happy, and I definitely did not get it. That’s why my rating is closer to 3.5 stars with high hopes for future installments. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)