Fractured doesn’t suffer from the dreaded middle book syndrome, not in the least. If anything, the stakes are higher, the plot more complicated and th...moreFractured doesn’t suffer from the dreaded middle book syndrome, not in the least. If anything, the stakes are higher, the plot more complicated and the characters better developed. It is a tense read, a thrill ride from start to finish. There were times when I was genuinely afraid for Kyla, even though the rational part of me insisted that nothing too terrible could happen to her.
Most of the anxiety I experienced was caused by Nico, an important person from Kyla’s past. Even when she didn’t know who or what she was, due to being slated, she knew he was no ordinary teacher. His presence brought forth some very strong emotions, but she didn’t quite know what to make of him. As her memories started returning in Fractured, her feelings toward him became even more complicated. For the most part, he was kind and supportive, and Kyla kept getting this urge to please him, to gain his approval. But even when he was smiling at her, there was a feeling of wrongness she couldn’t shake. As the story progressed and her past with Nico came to light, I as a reader understood that what Kyla was experiencing was some form of Stockholm syndrome, but her confusion and constant changes were done excellently. The nuances of their relationship, the creepy undertones, were impossible to ignore.
Thanks to Nico and his many forms of tough love, Kyla is actually three different persons in Fractured: Kyla, the slated girl; Rain, a Free UK fighter under Nico’s command; and Lucy, the little girl who was taken and broken by Nico, only to be rebuilt into a terrorist. Handling an MC with a multiple personality disorder of sorts on top of Stockholm syndrome would probably prove challenging for most authors, but Terry dealt with it beautifully. I was (although it seems a bit rude to admit it) more than a little surprised.
Ben was mostly absent in Fractured, but he was always present in Kyla’s mind and a great many of her actions were in some way motivated by her desire to protect him and reunite with him. He was, in his absence, perhaps more important to the story than he would have been had he actually been there. Through him, Terry showed that a feeling as strong as love can work against any kind of conditioning.
Some old secondary characters were given more important roles, and some exciting new ones were introduced. Tori, Ben’s supposedly re-slated old girlfriend played an essential part and caused some emotional conflicts, and then there was Katran, another Free UK fighter and Rain’s (Kyla’s) greatest rival for Nico’s affection and approval.
All in all, I thought Terry did an outstanding job with this sequel and I simply can’t wait for the final installment in the Slated trilogy.
3.5 stars My grandmother makes the best bean stew. (I realize this is an unusual review opener, but bear with me just a little while.) Yes, my grandmot...more3.5 stars My grandmother makes the best bean stew. (I realize this is an unusual review opener, but bear with me just a little while.) Yes, my grandmother’s bean stew is quite the celebrity in my family. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s not like she’s keeping it a secret… quite the opposite, in fact. She shared her recipe and showed me how it’s done many, many times. But although I’m a pretty decent cook (if I do say so myself), I always end up with something else entirely. A pretty good bean stew, yes, but the magic is simply not there. In truth, if you give five cooks the exact same ingredients, they’ll each come up with a different meal, and no more than one, if that, will be truly unforgettable.
These days, books aren’t all that different, really. No matter how many times a certain recipe is used and reused, the end result is never the same. Ten authors can use all the same tropes, and they’ll each end up with a different story. Eight out of ten resulting books won’t be worth your time, one will be moderately enjoyable, and one will shine like a comet. There’s always an author capable of making even the most (ab)used tropes work.
Jennifer Archer is one of those authors. On the surface, The Shadow Girl is really and truly a cliché fest. A recently deceased parent. A best friend in love with the heroine. A mysterious new boy in town. An agonizing (read: annoying) love triangle. A secret waiting to be revealed. I see you all waving your heads in disgust, but I promise you, aside from the horrible and unnecessary love triangle, The Shadow Girl is a great and exciting read.
I pride myself on the fact that I can guess pretty much everything these days. (Sometimes I curse myself for it, too.) But with The Shadow Girl, I made all the wrong assumptions. Despite all the foreshadowing, my guess was nowhere near the truth. Honestly, I was lucky to go into this book knowing next to nothing about it. Everything is a spoiler with The Shadow Girl, even mentioning the genre it belongs to. I strongly recommend avoiding anything even remotely spoiler-ish.
This whole experience would have been much better without the love triangle. Even I, a well known hater of divided hearts, have to admit that there are love triangles that work. However, Jennifer Archer wrote hers almost as an afterthought, a painfully predictable and tragically unnecessary thing. Let’s not kid ourselves, Lily’s best friend Wyatt never really stood a chance. Their sudden forced attraction was explained with their fear of separation, of going to college and losing each other, but while that certainly makes sense, it should have stopped the second Ty Collier showed up. It was always clear who Lily would choose, which made her constant wavering all the more aggravating.
But that is one flaw in an otherwise excellent book. Lily’s relationship with her other, Iris, was a true delight to read. This concept is perhaps not the most original, but as I wrote earlier, Archer made the best of it. Lily also struggled with her mother’s strange behavior, especially after her father died, and as the story progressed, their relationship increased in complexity, and as frustrating as it was at times, it was an essential part of the book.
I’d hate to spoil even the smallest thing for you guys, so I’ll stop here. I’d recommend downloading a sample to see if it works for you like it did for me. The first 20% should make it clear enough.
4.5 stars Hmm, let's see: steampunk noir, fantastic worldbuilding, characters I fell in love with almost instantly, crime scenes worthy of Patricia Cor...more4.5 stars Hmm, let's see: steampunk noir, fantastic worldbuilding, characters I fell in love with almost instantly, crime scenes worthy of Patricia Cornwell, clockwork, LOTS of sexual tension and a heart-stopping conclusion. All in a single book, my friends.
Centuries ago in a land called Hy Breasil, native Ferishers and strayed humans saw marriage as a way to stop the war between their two races. Sons and daughters of the two great Courts married the conquerors in an attempt to save themselves from annihilation. Today, very little Fey blood remains and the gifts it offers are often both unwelcome and dangerous.
In the great city of Dorstaad, two Criminal Investigation Division inspectors, Celeste Ritsuko and Janus Mikani, do excellent work despite the hostility they occasionally face. They are each other’s exact opposites: she, measured, well organized and precise, excellent at drawing conclusions from evidence she pedantically collects; and he, a charmer who mostly runs on intuition and solves cases using gifts his Fey blood provides.
Ritsuko and Mikani begin as co-workers and friends and they remain friends. It is a wonderful thing they have, a purely platonic relationship built on trust and mutual understanding. There is attraction of course, but neither of them is willing to risk what they already have for something that may or may not work… probably not, considering Mikani’s track record. Neither of them admits, even to themselves, that they might be moving towards something more, a different kind of relationship, no longer safe, but risky and exciting at the same time. Theirs is a subtle, tentative dance, a slow-burning romance at its finest and one that will leave you desperate to know if and when they’ll take the plunge.
(You WILL be jumping up and down in your seat, chanting “Do it! Do it! Go for it! Kiss her, you moron! Kiss her!”)
Their characterization is superb. I find that I often use the words ‘astonishingly good’ to describe Aguirre’s work, but I can’t help it when they always apply. Bronze Gods and its characters didn’t sprout over night, they’re the result of a decade-long work, which is obvious on every page. I’ve read my fair share of crime novels and seen enough crime shows that I’m not easily impressed. I think we are all desensitized as readers and viewers, and yet these crime scenes gave me the chills. Each included a different mysterious, inexplicable device, the purpose of which was entirely unclear to Ritsuko and Mikani.
I am, as I’m sure you all know, a bit demanding when it comes to steampunk. I want well-defined worlds, age-appropriate language and at least a few creative gadgets. Ann and Andres Aguirre gave me all that and more. I need book 2 more than I need air... or bread.... or...well, maybe not blueberry muffins. But close.
I love tales about thieves and con artists, book series like The Curse Workers and movies like Ocean’s Eleven. I love it when seemingly random events...moreI love tales about thieves and con artists, book series like The Curse Workers and movies like Ocean’s Eleven. I love it when seemingly random events come together neatly and cleverly in the end. Therefore, I loved Heist Society. It is admittedly not as clever as White Cat, for example, but I had a hard time putting it down and that’s a big deal these days.
Fifteen-year-old Katarina Bishop is a very experienced con artist. She may be ridiculously young, but in her line of work, she’s one of the best. Descended from a long line of skilled con men and educated by her own father, Kat knows every trick in the book. But the kind of life she’s been leading for as long as she can remember can be very tiresome so she’s decided to try something different – get a proper education. At the beginning of Heist Society, Kat is being expelled from a very prestigious boarding school she’d conned her way into. Her best friend and fellow con artist, W.W. Hale the Fifth, set her up and had her expelled, all because her father’s in trouble and needs help. Someone has stolen five absurdly expensive paintings from Arturo Taccone, a very rich and unscrupulous man who is convinced that Kat’s dad is responsible and is ready to do anything at all to get them back. He doesn’t care that her father has an alibi and that he’s being watched by the Interpol. He just wants his property back, and to give it back to him, Kat and her friends have to steal them from a place no one has ever broken into – the Henley museum in London.
I’m not sure why I waited so long to read Heist Society – it’s exactly the kind of book I usually can’t resist – light, fast and utterly unputdownable. Once I started thinking about flaws, I realized it is also a bit too short. There was room for a few more plot twists, and although I’m not normally a fan of watered down plots, I did feel that things were happening far too fast.
The characters were all interesting, colorful and full of quirks. I loved getting to know them and figuring them out, enjoyed trying to understand their motives and loyalties. Although Kat is the main character, I feel that I’ve learned more about the others than I did about her, but some things were made clearer towards the end and I can’t wait to discover more in Uncommon Criminals. Although there are two gorgeous boys in Kat’s world, Heist Society is really romance-free. There are hints of a relationship and some scenes did feel a bit love triangle-ish, but it is quite clear who Kat belongs with, and I’m pretty confident that’s who she’ll end up with.
To make the long story short (*gasp* Yes, I do that occasionally!), I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick summer read.
It should take me no more than three words to convince you to read this book. They are the same three words that convinced ME to read it, and I haven’...moreIt should take me no more than three words to convince you to read this book. They are the same three words that convinced ME to read it, and I haven’t regretted it at all. Those three words are… are you ready? Four hot brothers. That’s all you need to know.
*sigh* Oh, okay. I suppose I should write a “proper” review. Here it goes:
Four Merrick brothers have a very strong connection to the elements: Michael controls earth, twins Gabriel and Nick control fire and air respectively, and the youngest, Chris, controls water. All four of them are far more powerful than they should be which causes the other Elementals to fear them and attack them at every opportunity. The brothers can’t use their elements to defend themselves because they’re all young and untrained and loss of control on their part could mean the loss of many innocent lives.
When two older boys ambush Chris and beat him almost to death, a girl from school comes to his rescue. She somehow chases them away and gets him home but Michael, his legal guardian since their parents died, practically chases her out of the house. Chris doesn’t really know her, even though she’s in some of his classes. He’s heard about her, though, everyone has. People say that she sleeps around with anyone who asks nicely enough. But Becca isn’t like that at all. She’s been through a lot and she’s just trying to keep her head down and avoid being noticed. Then, suddenly, she is in the middle of Chris’s drama, and a gorgeous new boy is showing a real interest in her.
You probably figured out from that last sentence that there is a love triangle in this book. In my humble opinion, there’s no such thing as a good/interesting love triangle, but I can tell you that this one is less painful than most. It made sense in a strange kind of way and it kept me in suspense because, unlike with other love triangles, I actually wasn’t sure which boy Becca would end up with. Another thing worth mentioning is Brigid Kemmerer’s writing – it is much better than I expected when I first heard about this book. Her style doesn’t draw attention from the story itself, it is straightforward, clean and very easy to read.
Storm doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but it has a pretty open ending. So many things are unresolved and I can’t wait for Gabriel’s book to be out. This is the type of not-quite-cliffhanger I can live with: everyone is safe, but there are a lot of questions that need answers.
If you are going to read Storm, definitely read the short story prequel first. It takes place about 4 years earlier, and it helped me understand why Michael is the way he is. My recommendation: go read it. Just keep those smelling salts near – these boys will make you swoon!
Guess what, folks! It is entirely possible to write good urban fantasy without relationship drama or love triangle drama. Who knew?! Well, I did, and...moreGuess what, folks! It is entirely possible to write good urban fantasy without relationship drama or love triangle drama. Who knew?! Well, I did, and I guess Jenn Bennett did too because that’s what she delivered. After the sweet beginning of Cady and Lon’s relationship in Kindling the Moon, I thought they would surely start having second thoughts, realize that their age difference and Lon’s teenage son are too much to handle, or at least that one of them would be attracted to another person as well. I mean, that’s how these things go, right? Wrong! I never in my wildest dreams expected them to communicate, to be supportive and ready to commit to each other, but most of all, I didn’t think they’d end up solving paranormal mysteries together, like a family. Shows what I know.
Now that Arcadia Bell finally knows the truth about her parents, she’s free to live her life with Lon and his son Jupe, work in her tiki bar and learn about her Moonchild abilities. Or at least she should be. When Earthbound teens start disappearing and the connection is made between current kidnappings and a 30-year-old unsolved case, Cady and Lon are asked to investigate. Normally they would refuse such an assignment, but all the kidnapped teens are connected to Hellfire, a club of Earthbounds Lon belongs to, which means that Jupe might be next. With Lon’s son in danger, there’s really no way they could refuse.
As if that isn’t enough, Jupe is developing his knack earlier than most part-demons. His knack is very dangerous, especially in the hands of a fourteen-year-old boy: it turns out that he can compel people to do anything he wants just by talking to them. The parental struggles that ensue are both heartwarming and at times hilarious.
Everyone who has a soft spot for Kate Daniels’ kid Julie like I do, will fall in love with Jupiter in a second. Most of the humor in both books comes from him, but he also made me tear up once or twice. He is sweet, intelligent and very realistic.
I think I’ve already made it clear how much I love Cady and Lon together. I’d continue the series just for that, even if the rest wasn’t that good. I got a little angry with Cady in the second half when she didn’t stand up to Mr. Dare, but I understand her fear and the need to hide her identity. Again, what makes it better is that Lon knows all her secrets so she doesn’t have to worry about him abandoning her in the future.
If you’re like me and you’re always on the lookout for a good urban fantasy series, Arcadia Bell is an excellent choice. I don’t know when book three is coming out, but I know I’ll pre-order it.
Update 04/17/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Elizabeth Norris and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Unraveling....moreUpdate 04/17/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Elizabeth Norris and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Unraveling.
I never give five stars easily, but I'd give this book ten if I could.
I always feel this strange sense of accomplishment when I discover a book I can add to my all-time favorites. There aren’t many books that mean so much to me and that I keep going back to over and over again. I take that short list and adding books to it very seriously. Therefore, I needed to give myself some time before reviewing this because I was afraid that my initial reaction was entirely emotional and that my enthusiasm will drop once I calm down. I slept on it, I finished a very different book by one of my favorite authors, but none of that changed how I feel. If anything, I am now convinced more than ever that I found something truly special in Unravelling (that’s two Ls in the UK edition, only one in the US).
Janelle Tanner is living with her parents and her younger brother, working as a lifeguard at the beach and dating a gorgeous and extremely popular high school senior, Nick. Her life looks perfect on the outside, but on the inside, her mother is bipolar and needs to be taken care of, and her father, no matter how wonderful, has a job that’s keeping him away most of the time. He’s the head of counterintelligence in the FBI’s office in San Diego, and he just got a case that’s driving him and the other agents crazy. An explosive device has been discovered and it’s counting down days, but no matter how many experts they bring in, no one has any idea what it is or how to disarm it. As if that’s not enough, unidentifiable bodies, almost completely melted from radiation, are suddenly showing up everywhere. One of these bodies was found in the car that hit Janelle on her way home from work. She seemed more or less fine after the accident, but what no one knows, what no one would ever believe her, is that she died when the car hit her, and a stoner kid from her school, Ben Michaels, brought her back to life and healed her. Who is Ben? Where are all the bodies coming from? What’s going to happen when the countdown finally hits zero? Is it all somehow connected? Janelle and her best friend Alex always enjoyed ‘borrowing’ her father’s case files from his home office and discussing his cases, but this time, they may be in over their heads.
Elizabeth Norris’ writing is flawless. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, but it keeps you engaged and controls your emotions in a way that doesn’t make you feel manipulated. Unravelling is action-packed from start to finish, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks depth. It was truly heartbreaking, and I gave myself a headache from all the crying. If you think this is just another YA novel, think again, because Elizabeth Norris pulled no punches. She kept surprising me on every page, and each time I thought I had it all figured out, she did something entirely unexpected. It was like watching the awesome first season of Fringe all over again, but with a likeable heroine instead of Olivia.
Don’t you just love a girl who doesn’t spend all her time consciously making one mistake after another because she lacks the backbone to do the right thing? That’s our Janelle for you, a girl who knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t hesitate to make it happen. She’d been a victim once and she has no intention of being one ever again, so she thinks hard about every choice she makes and doesn’t allow herself to be influenced by anyone else’s opinion. She’s my new character I want to be best friends with. I always expect YA heroines to disappoint me sooner or later, because they almost always do, but with Janelle, that never happened. I can count on the fingers of one hand the characters that impressed me as much as she did.
(Did you guys notice how I avoided writing about Ben as much as possible? I'm trying to be serious here and I don't think gushing about that boy would help my cause much. But rest assured, he IS perfect.)
I think I’ve made my opinion pretty clear: I cannot recommend this highly enough. I can’t wait to find out how other people will feel about it. Do yourselves a favor and preorder this one, you won’t regret it.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, HarperCollins UK, for review purposes.
Reviewing this book feels much like walking through a minefield. (Not that I know what that feels like, but I can imagine, you know.) On the one hand,...moreReviewing this book feels much like walking through a minefield. (Not that I know what that feels like, but I can imagine, you know.) On the one hand, I can’t reveal too much of the plot. I can’t reveal almost anything, really, lest I ruin the experience for you guys. On the other hand, I have to write just enough to make you want to pick this book up because it’s one you don’t want to miss. Trust me. I suppose I could just point you to Maggie Stiefvater’s wonderful review and leave it to her to convince you, but I’m not that much of a coward. *coughs* I just did that! *coughs*
So here goes nothing…
I don’t normally read historical fiction unless it’s highly recommended. Code Name Verity was, directly or indirectly, recommended to me by two of my trusted friends, Chachic and Jo, and, as I already mentioned, my favorite young adult author Maggie Stiefvater. And of course they were right.
Code Name Verity is a story about two best friends, Maddie and Queenie, fighting in World War II. They probably never would have met in peacetime, as they come from entirely different circles of society: Queenie is Scottish royalty who grew up in a castle, while Maddie is a bike shop owner’s granddaughter. That didn’t stop them from becoming best friends while serving together in WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force), and staying close even when the war took them in different directions. All Maddie ever wanted was to fly airplanes. She was in training before the war and when the war started, she waited patiently for them to accept female pilots, which eventually they did. Queenie’s talents lie elsewhere: she is fluent in both German and French and able to momentarily slip into any role, be herself one second, and someone entirely different the next. Although these two have very little in common on the surface, deep down they are both incredibly strong, intelligent and compassionate women.
But for me, the most fascinating character was Queenie’s capturer, Hauptsturmfürer von Linden. He starts as pure evil, of course, but as the story progresses, we are offered small details of his life that give him an entirely different face, one that is complex and multi-layered and that causes the reader to be just as conflicted as Queenie. I don’t know what I expected, but he just looked like anybody - like the sort of chap who would come into the shop and buy a motorbike for his lad’s 16th birthday – like your headmaster.
Our story starts when Queenie gets captured by the Gestapo in France. Upon breaking her with torture and turning her into a collaborator, von Linden allows her to write down the events that led her to his cruel hands, and her written testimony is what we are given.
The narrative itself takes some getting used to. Queenie tells her present story in first person, but switches to third person and focuses on Maddie every time she talks about the past. It was a little strange at first, having the narrator talk about herself in third person, but I soon realized that it was an excellent way for Wein to help her readers adapt to constant alternations between the past and the present.
Every once in a while you know that you’ve stumbled upon a classic. Code Name Verity might have been published in 2012, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will endure the test of time. It has the weight (although not quite the genius) of The Book Thief. I'm sure it will receive awards and critical acclaim.
And so ends yet another series. Darn. I really wanted more of this one.
I can’t decide if Laura Anne Gilman is better at worldbuilding or character bu...moreAnd so ends yet another series. Darn. I really wanted more of this one.
I can’t decide if Laura Anne Gilman is better at worldbuilding or character building. The idea of Talent, people with the ability to control electric current, the new generation of witches and wizards; and fatae, the non-human magical creatures, is too good not to be explored in detail, which is why Gilman had two loosely connected series set in this universe. While I never made it past book two in The Retrievers series (not because I didn’t want to, but because I can’t seem to find the time), I’ve been following her Paranormal Scene Investigations series closely, stalking the poor woman, pestering her on Twitter and doing other things I’m too ashamed to admit here and now. It’s her fault, though. *points finger accusingly* You can’t write characters like Bonnie, Venec, Ian, Sharon, Nicky, Pietr and Nifty and expect not to be stalked and begged for more.
The PUPs have a lot to deal with in Dragon Justice, even more than usual. A serial killer has been killing male Talents for the last thirty years, and he appears to be human, not fatae. An untrained storm-seer saw both Ian Stosser and Wren Valere dead in the near future. An unknown Talent is gathering young girls into a coven in Central Park for an unknown purpose. And, most delicious of all, Ben Venec and Wren Valere go against each other, him tightening the security of a museum, and her trying to “retrieve” (by which I mean steal) an item from it, to Bonnie’s never-ending amusement.
Once again Gilman brings her two series together: Wren Valere showed up shortly in Tricks of the Trade while Bonnie was apartment-hunting, but she played a much more significant role in Dragon Justice. I must say that I was very excited about seeing these two heroines work together, although to me, The Wren is far less familiar than Bonnie. I also enjoyed the scenes with their two love interests, Ben Venec and Sergei Didier, especially when they started growling at each other.
If I understood correctly (and really, my attention span is not that short), there will be no more books set in this world. Two e-novellas from Danny’s perspective will be released in 2013. After that, we’ll really have to say goodbye to this world. Gilman is working on a new series I know very little about for now, but I’m definitely curious about that project. (less)
My full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city...moreMy full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city – not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I’m decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.
After accidentally preventing a bank robber from escaping, Ed Kennedy receives his first playing card with three addresses written on it. He understands that he needs to deliver a message to each of these places, but the card offers no further instructions. Relying on his intuition alone, Ed starts touching people’s lives and trying to understand what he has to do. The messages vary from simple to horribly complex and painful, but they all have one thing in common: they need Ed to shake them up and save them from themselves.
I think the most wonderful thing about Zusak is the surprising humanity of his characters. Not only do they come alive for the reader, but they also take so many different roles in the process. Their simple acts of kindness often end up being impressive and life-changing. I’d noticed this about so many characters in The Book Thief and I feared it was a one-time deal, but Ed might be the best of them all. In complete contrast to the ending, Ed is one of the most real and tangible characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. The fact that he’s completely unaware of how extraordinary he is just adds to his charm. My only regret is that the same cannot be said about Audrey. I really needed her to be just as well developed, but she was the only one who didn’t feel real to me, and that’s the sole reason for my 4-star rating.
I Am the Messenger will make you happy in at least three ways: it will give you a truly authentic, approachable story that will go straight through your heart, it will make you examine the way you treat complete strangers and it will catch you completely off guard. I wish I could hold up that knife and tear open the world. I’d slice it open and climb through to the next one. In bed, I cling to that thought.
I suppose many people will not be comfortable with the ending. I thought it was unexpected, brilliant (like the man himself), mind-blowing (still picking up the pieces) and audacious. It didn’t take anything from the story, it didn’t diminish the importance of any of the characters, and it added an extra dose of memorability the book wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.
Choosing a favorite quote this time was just like choosing a favorite child, but there was one I needed to share: What would you do if you were me? Tell me. Please tell me! But you’re far from this. Your fingers turn the strangeness of these pages that somehow connect my life to yours. Your eyes are safe. The story is just another few hundred pages of your mind. For me, it’s here. It’s now. I have to go through with this, considering the cost at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same.
Wow. When I started Madapple yesterday, I had no idea what I was signing up for. Had I known what was ahead of me, I don’t think I would have picked i...moreWow. When I started Madapple yesterday, I had no idea what I was signing up for. Had I known what was ahead of me, I don’t think I would have picked it up. You see, I expected it to be paranormal (although I’m not sure why), and it wasn’t. I never expected it to be about child abuse, kidnapping, drugs and incest, but it was. I certainly never thought it would delve so deep into the connections between paganism and Christianity. Finally, I expected it to be forgettable, but I doubt I’ll forget this for the rest of my life. The last book that upset me this much, that caused me many sleepless nights, was Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. The difference between Disgrace and Madapple, however, is that in the end, I felt like a better person for having read Disgrace, while Madapple left me feeling…contaminated. I have the craziest urge to wash my brain with soap.
Aslaug was raised in complete isolation by her Danish mother. She was homeschooled, she never saw a doctor in her life nor did she ever have contact with other people her age. She never even had a father or a proper last name. Her mother taught her ancient and obscure languages, but prevented her from finding out most things about modern society. Their house in Maine didn’t have electricity or running water. So when Aslaug woke up one morning to find her mother dead, she did the only thing she could think of: she washed her, painted the Solomon’s seal on her chest to ward off evil spirits and started digging a grave in her back yard. A nosy neighbor saw what Aslaug was doing and called the police and they quickly came to arrest her for murder. Having been proven innocent of her mother’s death, Aslaug manages to find an aunt and her two children and moves in with them. You’d think an aunt who is also a preacher and who runs her own church would be more stable than an abusive mother, but you’d be horribly wrong. Soon questions are raised that nobody wants to answer: who is Aslaug’s father? Does she even have one? Can she be a product of immaculate conception or is the truth much more disturbing? At the same time, faced with the first teenage boy she’s seen in her life, Aslaug starts having inappropriate feelings for her cousin, and what’s worse, those feelings are mutual.
Aslaug’s story, however disgusting, is masterfully told and there is no denying Christina Meldrum’s skill. It is divided into two alternating parts: Aslaug’s murky and confusing first person POV, and court transcripts from her trial, occurring four years later. The reader gets to hear about the events from various witnesses in 2007 and then goes back to 2003 to see them through Aslaug’s eyes. But Aslaug is far from a reliable narrator and as the story progressed, I became more and more convinced that she’s lost touch with reality, as I’m sure the author intended.
I can’t bring myself to recommend a book that made me sick to my stomach. The ending especially made me want to cry, or throw up, or both. I’m not exaggerating: I hated myself for reading certain parts of this. But if you ever feel the need to push your boundaries, Madapple is the book to do it with. Just please spare me the details. I think I’ve had all I can handle.
Also, please take my rating with a grain of salt. I still have no idea how to rate this book.
Pure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough.
Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorg...morePure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough.
Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorged middle. Parts of each face seem to be shiny and stiff as if fused with plastic. Groupies, that’s what they’re called. One of the women has sloped shoulders, a curved spine. There are many arms, some pale and freckled, the others dark.
It took me about 120 pages to really get into this book – much more than it should have, of course. I always struggle with dystopias at first, but it’s usually for two or three chapters, not more than that. The beginning was very slow, and although I understand the need to build the atmosphere, especially in a book whose main goal seems to be to shock and repulse, I felt that it should have been done gradually, or at least differently. As much as I appreciated (though not enjoyed) the descriptions of people fused with objects or other people, I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s all I would ever get. Fortunately, things started moving just a little faster after those 120 pages, but Baggott still kept pressing the “pause” button on her action scenes in order to describe every little thing her characters came across. Everyone who knows me at least a little bit knows that I’m a big fan of descriptive writing when it serves to evoke a wide palette of emotion. My problem with Pure was that it aimed to evoke only one - disgust. After a hundred pages or so, it became extremely tiresome.
The story is told from multiple points of view. Oddly enough, the one I preferred, the one I could easily identify with, was neither Pressia nor Partridge, it was Lyda, the girl Partridge sort of liked, but mostly just used to get out of the Dome. I eventually started liking Partridge too, even though that took a while, but Pressia never really came alive for me. I still have no idea who she really is and how I’m supposed to feel about her. I would have loved to know more about the creatures she made to trade them on the market, but the one thing I wanted described in detail was just mentioned once or twice in passing.
As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel isn’t the romance, the action, or even the writing – it’s social structure. You can be the most skilled writer on the planet, but if your society isn’t convincing enough, you will lose my interest before you can say ‘write a better book’. For me, this is where Baggott failed the most- I wanted to know more – more about the government on both sides (but more outside the Dome), about how it all came to be, and especially about the day when the world went to hell in a handbasket. I want to know how Partridge’s father became the most important person in the world, the only real decision maker. Where were the old governments? Who exactly pulled the strings ever since Partridge’s parents were young? Instead of focusing on endless descriptions of Groupies and Dusts, I would have liked to see at least some of those questions answered. Unfortunately, the little information I was offered wasn’t nearly believable enough.
That doesn’t mean that Pure was all bad. There were things I liked a lot, especially the fact that it managed to surprise me a few times. In a genre where predictability is accepted and even expected, Baggott somehow included quite a few twists and turns that I never saw coming. I think I would have liked Pure more if it were about a hundred pages shorter. It had its moments and I believe I will read book 2 when it comes out, but unfortunately, this one left a lot to be desired.
Favorite quote: She glances back before stepping into the alley, and she catches her grandfather looking at her the way he does sometimes – as if she’s already gone, as if he’s practicing sorrow.
My name, my full, True Name, is Ashallyn'darkmyr Tallyn, and I am the last son of the Unseelie Court.
I was not a big fan of the first two Iron Fey bo...moreMy name, my full, True Name, is Ashallyn'darkmyr Tallyn, and I am the last son of the Unseelie Court.
I was not a big fan of the first two Iron Fey books, but The Iron Queen completely stole my heart! Those of you who've read it know all about the beautiful romance, the fierce battle and the bittersweet ending that ensued. I suspect many of her fans were unhappy with the way Kagawa wrapped things up. In fact, some were probably even outraged, but not me – I loved it. That’s why I wasn’t too thrilled about The Iron Knight to begin with. A fourth book, written from Prince Ash's point of view, could only mean a different ending for him and Meghan. I’m not sorry that I got to spend more time with Ash, Puck and especially Grimalkin, I just wish there was a way to make everything less (view spoiler)[perfect (hide spoiler)] in the end.
The Iron Knight is an adventure novel. Ash, Puck, Grimalkin and the Big Bad Wolf travel to the End of the World knowing that no one has ever come back alive. Reaching the end of the Nevernever means almost certain death for them all, but Ash swore an oath that compels him to move forward. (view spoiler)[That boy sure loves his oaths. How very dramatic. (hide spoiler)] Of course Robin Goodfellow has his reasons for following the Winter prince through the enchanted forest, as does Grimalkin, my personal favorite.
I'm obviously not a huge fan of love triangles and I was very upset that Julie Kagawa felt the need to add another one to this story, no matter how well she resolved it in the end. I also had some minor issues with the quest itself. To be honest, I found it a little boring at times and more suitable for 14-year-old boys. BUT there were parts that were fabulous and compelling, and they evened things out a bit.
Worldbuilding is the strong point of this book. This time, Kagawa removed her characters from the comfort of both Summer And Winter Courts and built for them a completely new and very creepy challenge called the Deep Wyld. If you thought Tir Na Nog was full of hidden dangers, wait till you read about a ferry sliding through the River of Dreams or, even worse, Phaed, a city where everyone seems to forget the purpose of their existence in just one night.
It is impossible to write more about their quest without including spoilers for the previous book. Suffice it to say that I didn’t miss Meghan at all. Despite my many problems with The Iron Knight, it was still extremely fun and I'm happy Kagawa decided to write it. I'm not so sure about the spin-off trilogy, though. (less)
At first glance, Virtuosity is just another story about a girl who isn’t in control of her own life. And you know what? That’s exactly what it is on s...moreAt first glance, Virtuosity is just another story about a girl who isn’t in control of her own life. And you know what? That’s exactly what it is on second glance as well. But unlike so many of these stories, it is well written, completely engrossing and definitely worth a read.
To say that Carmen grew up shielded from everyday life would be a serious understatement. She was homeschooled, she never had a real friend other than her tutor Heidi and she never spent any time with boys her age. You see, Carmen is not a seventeen-year-old girl, she is not a daughter, she is not a student and she is not a friend. Carmen is a Grammy Award winning violinist and she has just been admitted to Julliard with a full scholarship. When people look at her, that’s all they see – and it’s only natural considering how good she is. She is so good, in fact, that there’s only one violin soloist who might prove to be better than her: Jeremy King.
Carmen and Jeremy are the most likely finalists in the Guarneri contest. They are both just one step away from that huge, life-altering victory. Falling in love under the circumstances really shouldn’t be an option... but it is.
"It's kind of funny, actually," she said. "Most girls have to worry about guys just being after sex, but you should really be more worried if he isn't after sex. You just can't do anything normally, can you?"
When you’re so valuable to everyone around you, you really are all alone. How do you trust a mother who’s living vicariously through you because her own career was ruined before it even started? How should you feel about your rich grandparents who only started noticing you when you became famous? And how do you fall in love with a boy whose success can’t come without your failure?
Virtuosity surprised me with two huge, jaw dropping moments – something that doesn’t happen very often. Just when I thought it's about to become predictable, Martinez did something I never saw coming. That alone makes it worth reading. My big thanks to Nomes for pushing me in the right direction! :) (less)