I have to assume that we'll never know (view spoiler)[who killed Felassan at the end, which really pissI enjoyed this book, but I'm mad at the ending.
I have to assume that we'll never know (view spoiler)[who killed Felassan at the end, which really pisses me off! There are no clues as to who this person was from the book, nor any other media source. Not even Dragon Age: Inquisition. (hide spoiler)] You don't just put in an ending like that and expect the reader to be okay with it! I'm super mad and I know these books don't offer sequels to each other in the same way regular novel series do. Ugh....
At least it offers a lot of insight into how to understand a little better all the mysteries of the latest game, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Read this after you've played the game and some things might make more sense.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Such a steep drop-off in the enjoyment level of this book compared to the first one. Katie is just not in-character most of the time and she makes waySuch a steep drop-off in the enjoyment level of this book compared to the first one. Katie is just not in-character most of the time and she makes way too many stupid decisions that should get her killed, but magically don't. The first book rocked! What happened here?...more
Finally, some New Adult fiction clean enough for me to read! I’m very happy about that. It’s not like I feel the need to read all that much contemporaFinally, some New Adult fiction clean enough for me to read! I’m very happy about that. It’s not like I feel the need to read all that much contemporary NA, but I like that an author went out of her way to be different from the rest of the NA writing crowd.
I don’t think I qualify as the best person to review contemporary realism because I usually like my stories to have a supernatural or science fiction element to them. For me, there is always this feeling like something is missing when I read a book that only uses the real world for what it is capable of doing. But, I tried my best to weigh this book against what I know makes a good piece of fiction, and I think it comes out very good.
The plot is very interesting and doesn’t have a lot going on in it, but it really shouldn't, anyway. It’s pretty much perfect for this type of story and considering that it is a novella, you don’t have room for a detailed plot. But, what this story does excel at is a little something called suspense. This is when you have to keep reading because you want to know so badly how everything will turn out in the end. In this case, I wanted to know so badly why Julia suddenly ran away from home without warning, ten months earlier, and why she suddenly decided to go back home for a two-week vacation.
Why did she not even communicate with anyone, not even her mother and father while she was gone? Even when Julia does return home to Durban, South Africa from London, she refuses to explain why she left in the first place. It is very serious stuff. The suspense is literally devised to kill you—and for that, I think this story deserves most of its praise. This is one of the best parts about any kind of storytelling and it made me all the more excited to keep reading.
The only drawback I can think of is that it is too short to accomplish what a story like this needs to accomplish, which is character and relationship development. I think these stories do better in a slightly longer format for this reason, mainly, and this story exemplifies why that is. Everything it has going for it, otherwise, is really great—we even have a few great characters, like Nan and little Sophie. But, we don’t get to spend enough time with any of them to satisfy. That’s where I say I’d like to have seen this at least double in length.
I know that this story is only meant to be a prequel novella to a series of novels, so I probably will get my wish. It does succeed at being a great appetizer for the future novels that will have more room for the character and relationship exploration factor. With that done well, these books will be the best clean NA out there. By itself, Forgiven is a great read, but it’s even better knowing there is much more to come after this....more
Where is Book 2?! I find myself actually wanting to read the next book right away, and this is not normal reading behavior for me. This must indicativWhere is Book 2?! I find myself actually wanting to read the next book right away, and this is not normal reading behavior for me. This must indicative of how much I enjoyed reading this book.
I had originally given this a 4.5-star rating because it does have some flaws. But, I realize now that the story and characters are kind of staying with me after finishing it, and I want to know where the entire series is going from here. I’m willing to give it the full 5-star treatment because it doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be very entertaining. It certainly is that.
It’s well written and high-concept, it has characters will actual depth, and a main character who, despite being a teenage girl, is not drowning in a pool of hormonal emotions over a boy. Kestrel is capable of thinking about other people and other things going on in the world beyond Arin, the other POV character of the novel. She is not so over-wired to procreate that you just want to smack some sense into her. This is practically unheard of these days in YA literature…. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not really, right?
Kestrel is a character after my own heart because she is a strategist, rather than a physically strong female heroine. I respect female characters who kick major butt, and who doesn’t, but I’m rather tired of them. They are too numerous and becoming less special, as a result. Kestrel is more of the character who can out-think everyone else, and her scene with the Emperor at the end is pretty impressive (although, how someone else didn’t think of it first kind of makes me face-palm). Give me a smart, cunning character any day over one blessed with brute strength, male or female. (Unless it’s Dante from the Devil May Cry video games. It’s so fun to play as him kicking major butt that I wouldn’t want it any other way. ;))
Arin is a slave that Kestrel buys at the very beginning of the story. He and his people, the Heranni, used to be free, cultured and educated before being enslaved by Kestrel’s people, the Valorians, only a decade earlier. Heran is a peninsula guarded by treacherous mountains on land and terrifying storms along the coasts. They never had to worry too much about invaders, until the Valorian Empire, ruling half the world, discovered black powder and blew up the mountains protecting the Heranni. The brutish Valorians assimilated the Heranni culture like The Borg from Star Trek, adding their likeness unto their own and being bettered for it.
It’s not really much of a spoiler to mention that Arin is secretly a part of a Heranni insurrection being plotted prior to the beginning of the story. He’s no ignorant slave boy and that does make him an interesting character. Of course, Kestrel is completely unaware of this, so you can only imagine how badly this will end for her, bringing into her home one of the Insurrection’s top leaders without even knowing it. Her father is the general of the Valorian army. This is just a black powder situation waiting to be ignited by fire.
I like that the political environment of the story is important and truly is the story. It’s not about the romance, although that is important, too. But, it never overtakes the real story, which is about the Heranni revolting against the Valorian Empire. It is interesting to see how it all plays out and even more interesting to see how it all gets resolved. Thankfully, it’s not predictable.
Kestrel and Arin’s relationship is fabulous. I’m not saying they are incredible characters because I don’t find myself attached to them much, but they have an interesting dynamic going on. In the beginning, Kestrel does not want him acting like a slave who just says what she wants to hear. She tells him to always speak his mind, which he does. I wish she had argued with him more—that would have given them better chemistry. But, still it works. The romance is just slow and sweet, never going too far, or just making it seem like all they do is paw at each other all the time.
There were some things I was not super enthused about. Kestrel’s duel with a certain character ended in a rather anti-climactic way. The fact that she even insists on this duel is ridiculous to me. And, how could she not foresee that people would start gossiping about her fighting a duel over her slave? Of course, people would start talking about something like that. Also, there is a scene where her father, General Trajan, is mad at both of them, and instead of throwing Arin out on the street, he just tells him to keep away from his daughter. What? That makes no sense, but it does serve the story to have him stick around to accompany Kestrel to the ball afterward.
So, while not a perfect story—and what story is perfect?—it is still a wonderful read that pulled me out of a major reading slump I had been having for the past few months. Finally, something that made me want to keep turning the pages, eager to pick it back up again after putting it down. I guess I’ll see whether this one sticks with me over the long haul because that will be the sign of a truly great book. I’m inclined to think it will. (I really need to see what is going to happen to Ronan in the next installment!)
P.S. I liked this a lot better than Graceling by Kristin Cashore! If Graceling wasn’t your thing, you might like this high fantasy novel, instead. You might like it even if you loved Graceling. It is the first book in a planned trilogy....more
I wasn't really enjoying this one until the end. It was sort of a non-story until the last 100 pages, or so. I think how Anna ended up was really intrI wasn't really enjoying this one until the end. It was sort of a non-story until the last 100 pages, or so. I think how Anna ended up was really intriguing and it was probably the best fate for her....more
A Shade of Vampire is a pretty good Young Adult vampire PNR. It's very short, barely longer than a novella, but still tells an intriguing tale that IA Shade of Vampire is a pretty good Young Adult vampire PNR. It's very short, barely longer than a novella, but still tells an intriguing tale that I want to be able to believe completely. But, since it's short and takes place over an indeterminate amount of time (mostly likely a short period), it's hard to believe Sofia's Stockholm Syndrome already takes its course.
Despite that, the writing is pretty good and the characters are interesting. I think both Sofia and Derek are well-written. It's easier to forgive any doubts about how easily they fall in love with each other when the characters are very likable. I love tales of powerful vampires taking humans into their possession to do what they want with them. It makes us humans seem like other species lower on the food chain that we treat in the same fashion, so it's a fun reverse to play around with.
My biggest nag is that the story doesn't have a proper resolution at the end. You get to the climactic scene and wonder how Sofia will end up, and then you never find out what happens to her. It's left as a very indelicate cliff-hanger which I didn't think was necessary. I'm sure it's all revealed in Book 2, but I believe every story should be complete. The Epilogue functions very well as a tease for what's to come in Book 2, so i don't know why the story suddenly stopped at the end without properly resolving the conflict.
But, as far as YA PNR is concerned, especially the vampire kind, you'd do well to read this if that's your kind of fiction. The world building is highly unique. The Shade is a very different vampire hold that I wasn't expecting, but was pleasantly surprised to discover. Vampires living at the tops of trees? Yeah, pretty cool.
My rating: 3.5/5 stars.
*I was asked by the author to provide an honest review upon receiving a complementary copy of this novel. ...more
I'm not much into Middle Grade fiction, but I do think this book is quite a good one for that audience. It has plenty of action and advent3.5/5 stars.
I'm not much into Middle Grade fiction, but I do think this book is quite a good one for that audience. It has plenty of action and adventure, puzzle-solving and even some good characters. My favorite was Marco--very hilarious kid.
It's well-written and well plotted. It shows that the author took the time to craft a really thought-out story. Because I tend to not connect with MG fiction, I found myself a little bored with the story. That's my own fault, though.
The only real "problem" that isn't about my personal tastes being left unsatisfied is that the story feels like a million other stories that are already out there. It's not unique at all. It's been told before many times over in film, fiction, video games--you name it. That doesn't make it bad or anything, but it doesn't inspire me to read it with much gusto.
Still, it's a very decent read and young readers should really enjoy this one....more
Did I find a super awesome YA read with amazing characters and believable romance? And romantic tension? Lots of roMy FAVORITE indie YA read for 2012.
Did I find a super awesome YA read with amazing characters and believable romance? And romantic tension? Lots of romantic tension? Did I? Oh, yes... Yes, I did.
This is one of my new favorites going on my “epic” shelf! Sweet babies, I adored this thing. Violet, the protag, is a very strong and snarky faerie—truly funny, and not just occasionally so. She's a tough chick and even a bit of a tomboy to boot, which makes her physical prowess that much more believable. And, she's a teenage girl with so little experience with boys, so she does allow herself to get involved with the human boy, Nate. But, she is not dreaming of their wedding day, nor thinking the fate gods had anything to do with their meeting each other.
She's a Guardian-in-training who goes out and protects people and fae folk from evil stuff that has the tendency to wreak havoc on innocent people's lives. She has a really sassy guy rival in her Guild named Ryn, an old friend-turned-enemy. A frenemy. He's just yummy and fun. I love characters like that!
Then, there's Nate who is really funny, too, and I don't know how I feel about him after having read the entire story, plus the bonus stories. He's just a complex character, I suppose, like any real person, so I'm left perplexed and wanting to know why he chooses to go down the path he does in the story SO badly. Why did you do it? Why, Nate?
Back to Ryn—delicious Ryn. Where you have an instant attraction between Violet and Nate, leading to a very immediate relationship worthy of high-schoolers, you have something far slower-burning with Vi and Ryn. They hate each other, but do they really? It feels like that kind of relationship where the two get off on making each other angry. Ryn certainly derives actual pleasure from doing so with Vi, as I learned from reading his POV story at the end. The potential for future romance between the two is seething through the words on the page and I cannot wait to read more about them. I totally ship it!
I think what makes this story work is that it goes deep and does it right away in Book 1. We find out why Violet has literally NO friends and why she and Ryn had a falling out. She starts out not having a clue as to why he hates her, but he fesses up and it really allows for the kind of character insight missing in a whole lot of novels I read, YA and adult. Because I can understand what makes these characters tick, I relate to them better and can now get hooked into their emotions, just like how they get hooked into each other, emotionally, after their big blow-up. It's something usually saved for a Book 2 or Book 3, but, seriously, why wait to put in the good stuff? This is why readers read!...more
When I first learned about The Emotion Thesaurus I was intrigued. Was this like a regular thesaurus, but for emotions? Would I be able to look up any type of human emotion and find varying ways to portray it through prose that would help me avoid being redundant and stale? The answer to these questions is a definite YES.
What a brilliant idea it was to create this amazing resource for fiction writers! The authors of this title are the owners of the popular writing craft blog, The Bookshelf Muse. They've been helping authors with their writing craft for a good while now, and this book was naturally created through their blog posts first, then compiled for ease of use in book reference format.
Here is why The Emotion Thesaurus is a must-have reference if you write any kind of prose in which you need to convey emotion accurately and compellingly:
Say you're writing a scene in your novel in which your main character is experiencing a crisis moment. She has just discovered another trusted character has been lying to her through his fat teeth. You want to get into your main character's head-space and illustrate just how deeply she is hurt by this other character's betrayal.
You flip open either your paperback or ebook version of The Emotion Thesaurus right to the Table of Contents page. Panning down the ToC, you spot the word “Hurt” and turn to its corresponding page. You read a definition of the word, followed by a long list of outward, physical signals that are apparent when a person has been hurt emotionally, like:
Physical Signals Eyes widening, yet brows are furrowed Swallowing hard Lowering the head, the neck appearing to shrink
You also find a long list of internal sensations one experiences when hurt, like:
Internal Sensations Dizziness Stomach hardening, nausea A painful tightness in one's throat
Beyond all this, you also see sub-lists of “Mental Responses,” “Cues of Long-Term Hurt,” “Cues of Suppressed Hurt” and an additional writer's tip for each emotion chapter. These authors thought of everything you can do, think, feel, react and stubbornly hang-on to for every major emotion we humans experience.
Back to your novel—you realize now that you can rewrite this weak sentence, “She was so hurt by Barry's betrayal and wanted to throw up,” to a more powerful, “Her head began to spin. She swallowed down hard on the painful realization. He'd been lying to her? She gagged on the knot in her throat, clenching her stomach to keep its contents from rising.”
If you find your ability to convey emotion becoming stilted and repetitive, this book is the answer to your problem. I've been using it every day as I've been writing my current novella, and it has gotten me through those emotionally turbulent scenes better than I ever would have without it. Highly recommended. ...more
This is a short story prequel to a series of steampunk novels coming out in 2013 called The Neumarian Chronicles. From this story, I can3.5/5 stars.
This is a short story prequel to a series of steampunk novels coming out in 2013 called The Neumarian Chronicles. From this story, I can gather some aspects of the world building and that there are two types of people against one another, Slags and Neumarians. I don't know why they fought a war or why they hate each other so much, but what happens to the protagonist, Raeth, happens because of these feuding societies.
Raeth is a Neumarian and seems to be around 12-years-old. She has some sort of ability that she needs to keep hidden from the Slags who captured her in order to find out what it is. The Slags are people with bionic body parts—cyborgs, basically. That is so cool, but they are the bad guys and they are very not cool, not even towards each other. The Queen is execution-happy and everybody smacks everybody's faces all the time. Raeth suffers torture and near death at the hands of the Queen of the Slags who is completely evil and one-dimensional, but successfully strikes fear in you.
Although, a lot of the story is confusing, it still has elements I usually am drawn to: cyborgs, a mad scientist (Raeth gets tortured by a man in a gray coat at the behest of the evil Queen), sci-fi technology and even a fantasy element in Raeth's supernatural ability. It's quite an intense read for all it's worth and really gets your appetite whetted for the future subsequent novels.
*I received a copy of this title from the author in exchange for my honest review....more
I read these novellas during the summer and they are fantastic! These are all prequels to the novel series, Throne of Glass, which is already out now.I read these novellas during the summer and they are fantastic! These are all prequels to the novel series, Throne of Glass, which is already out now. As of writing and publishing this review, I have yet to read the first novel, but reading these novellas completely sold me on buying the novel, so I have it waiting on my shelf.
These are fully realized, complete stories about the trained assassin, Celaena Sardothien, who is the number one assassin in her country of residence. There are, like a lot of fantasy novels, neighboring kingdoms and she does get to travel to some of the nearby kingdoms during her adventures in assassinating people. She's a funny girl and very much a girly-girl, despite being so deadly. She loves to wear pretty dresses and play the pianoforte. She starts out really spoiled and bratty at age 16, but, through her trials of these novellas, she matures.
I really like Sam, her childhood friend and rival assassin in the Assassin's Guild who becomes her love interest. Definitely no insta-love-upon-meeting-her-soul-mate-nonsense going on here. She just learns to see him a different way because they're both maturing before each others' eyes and he's become pretty darn good-looking in his young adulthood, ahem. I also hate, hate, HATE their boss Arobynn, who really is a truly worthy villain character. My lord, this man is so heinous and Machiavellian, it's sick. What he does to Celaena and Sam is beyond. I've never been so in hate with a villain character. It's pretty awesome.
Celaena doesn't spend a whole lot of time killing people because the stories are more about what she goes through that makes her become who she is by the time you read Book 1, and by then, she has spent some time as a slave/prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier due to the king's punishment. It really sets things up for the novel and I figure I'll have a much firmer grasp on it than would somebody else who just jumps into it without batting an eyelash at the novellas. I love having so much of the story set up and extra material for this amazing series. Check these out, people!
Average score for all four novellas: 4.5/5 stars....more
This is a pretty interesting sci-fi novel with a decidedly different type of dystopian “society” portrayed compared to all myriad The Hunger Games-eqsThis is a pretty interesting sci-fi novel with a decidedly different type of dystopian “society” portrayed compared to all myriad The Hunger Games-eqsue novels being published. The story takes place on a remote island closed off from the rest of the world and these boys, ranging from ages 13 to 18, all live there not having a clue as to why. But, they just do what they are told by the people who run the island—a bunch of old dudes about to croak from old age. The boys have virtually no memory of who they are. They get to study without doing homework, or taking tests and they get to play video games as much as they want.
It's practically paradise for boys and young men, minus the presence of any females, except that every couple of weeks or so, they must endure torture for about a day so that they will want to voluntarily plug into a network that will allow them to escape into a virtual reality that takes them away from their physical suffering. I know—that makes no sense, but as you read the story, it starts to make sense. Like a mystery novel, this one unravels piece by piece and answers (almost) all of your questions by the end.
The story mostly follows a 13-year-old computer hacking genius named Danny, or 'Danny Boy' as he is typically called. He has been acquired by his Investor to live on the island for unknown reasons, just as every other boy on the island has been. All of them have their own Investor, an old man with creaking bones who seems to take care of them and looks after them. The boys are told that they are on the island to rewrite their minds, like rewriting a faulty computer program, because the boys' lives had been so awful, they need new mental programming. That's why they go into the needle—the way into the network that leads to the alternate reality they call Foreverland.
Each boy has a hole in his forehead in order to insert the needle, which then causes them to enter Foreverland. Foreverland is like being in a lucid dream. You can do anything and everything you've ever wanted to do. It's super fun and addicting, and the boys all look forward to it, even when not stripped naked and cold water-tortured. But, there's one boy named Reed who simply endures the torture and never takes the needle, no matter how much they torture him. Reed says he dreams of a red-haired girl who tells him not to take the needle—never to take it because they'd never get to be together otherwise. He doesn't remember who she is, but it's enough that he believes he once knew her.
Danny starts going into Foreverland, but because of Reed's abstinence, he starts to get suspicious of everything going on with the program. Why are they all there? Who were they before they came to the island? Why do they need to be tortured just to take a needle and why do they need to go into Foreverland? What really happens to the boys when they graduate? Why do the graduate's Investors suddenly disappear? Danny uses his computer hacking skills to dig deeper into the truth and the truth is shocking! This makes for a pretty great unraveling mystery and I can easily see this as a future film.
Despite how cool this novel is, it isn't perfect. There are too many POVs going on and sometimes they hop around in the middle of paragraphs without any transition. My biggest reading pet-peeve. Also, don't expect too much character development because it's not much of a character driven story. Although, I love the issues and themes this novel addresses—what is the nature of reality? Is reality real, or is our dream life the reality? Men will stop at nothing to satiate their own greed—stuff like that. But, I wanted to see how these issues affected the characters themselves. Getting inside their emotions would have allowed me to empathize with them and really feel their problems for what they were worth.
Still, this is great science fiction and the perfect dystopian novel for anyone who wants to read something different from The Hunger Games-type of dystopia. Since it's self-published, I wasn't surprised to see a lot of missing words, indicating lack of proper editing, but they were words I could fill in on my own. This is the type of YA literature that may leave you contemplating human existence and reality itself. ...more
I was so excited and hyped about this book before it came out, so I preordered my copy back in January. I loved how the main character, Dante, seemedI was so excited and hyped about this book before it came out, so I preordered my copy back in January. I loved how the main character, Dante, seemed to be cool and funny. I totally devoured the first half of this book, but the steam just dissipated after that. I realized I just didn't like Dante all that much. The book ends very deus ex machina-like, depriving Dante a chance at "saving the day" himself. Sure, he was a bad boy going through major "reformation," but I didn't end up believing it. Disappointing overall, but not a terrible read. Still a likable book. ...more
I was excited to read this novel when I first received it, as I love anything Frankenstein related. I had seen several less-than-stellar reviews beforI was excited to read this novel when I first received it, as I love anything Frankenstein related. I had seen several less-than-stellar reviews before reading it and I tried to ignore them. But, this book has disappointed me way more than I was expecting it would, and I had to drop it half way. It's a good concept for a novel, but that's means nothing when poorly executed.
My problems with this book as far as I read it:
1. The main character, Emma, has no range of emotions. She is in a constant state of glumness, even when in the middle of a very provocative moment. She will be in the same emotional state whether she is trying to save a dying deer bleeding to death as she will when eating a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast. And, no, her just telling me she's afraid doesn't work.
2. There are A LOT of horrific similes. One or two are forgivable, but there are so very many. Bees and chicken bones? What do these things have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing. It was even used TWICE. Are they supposed to make me feel creeped-out? All I feel from these two very dis-similarly paired images is confusion. O_o
3. The environment and setting are described in too much detail to no effect. For example, every single time Emma enters her school's girl's locker room, she has to describe how tacky the tiles are. Every. Single. Time. It is plenty good enough to describe them once, but multiple times makes me think the tiles are somehow tied into the plot.
4. There is no plot. What is actually happening in this story? Where does the story part of the story actually start? So far, a moment of no-going-back-now has yet to occur, and I get the feeling it's not going to happen until the Climax. The beginning of your story should not take until the END of your story to happen. I may be wrong here, but I suspect this is a case where the author has confused the Catalyst moment, which kicks off the story, with the moment the story comes to a big flashy end. :/
5. Because of this plot point confusion, this 300+ page novel is filled to the brim with boring pointless scenes of Set-up. The Set-up is a plot point that comes just before the Catalyst, if you're a serious plotter. So, the story was basically stuck in Set-up mode from the beginning to presumably the end, although I never quite made it that far. It certainly was still stuck in that mode when I dropped it.
6. Tiny. Tiny, Tiny, Tiny. Why is he in the story so dang much? Does he really contribute to the overall plot, or lack thereof? I'm guessing he's there so often to remind the reader that Emma is a beautiful girl that overweight pimply college freshmen cannot stop pestering to go out with them, even though she is still mourning the loss of her recently deceased boyfriend. Maybe some guys are just really insensitive and clueless, but I don't see the point of why this message needs to be relayed.
6. The tense is present-tense. This just doesn't work with the type of novel where literally nothing happens. When reading the slice-of-life milieu of Emma's ordinary life, besides her relationship with Alex Franks, it is very off-putting to read it as if it were so present and action-packed that it needs to be in my face. Is Emma really experiencing her boring life with so much vigor and gusto? She might if her life were action-packed, but it's not. So very not. This tense works for books like The Hunger Games because the action is very intense and in-your-face. Feeling like you're right there as those violent, crazy things happen, so in the moment, is very effective for a story like that. But, not with a paranormal urban fantasy teen drama wank-fest. Past tense works just fine and would have made this read so much more smoothly. I dislike when authors use this tense randomly because it makes it feel gimmicky.
Thus, I had to stop the madness and move onto a nicer reading experience. Some Harry Potter washed this right out, afterward!
My rating: 2.5/5 stars.
*I received this novel as an advanced review copy from the publisher that I didn't get around to reading until about a-year-and-a-half after initially receiving it. Better late than never....more
This take on the Alice in Wonderland tale is so unique, it makes me wonder how nobody else ever thought of it before. Wonderland, in Splintered, is raThis take on the Alice in Wonderland tale is so unique, it makes me wonder how nobody else ever thought of it before. Wonderland, in Splintered, is rather an underworld of the dead than a bizarre playground for children. Isn't that fantastic?
The protagonist, Alyssa, is the descendant of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carol's original novel. She has a set of strange powers that she inherited from Alice and her mother, Allison, who is living in a psychiatric hospital. She fears she will eventually end up in the hospital with her mother, just as all the other Alice descendents have.
But, Alyssa discovers a way to break this so-called family curse of craziness by going into Wonderland, and she sets out to save her mother from her own mad mind and electroshock "therapy" that will likely lobotomize her. Her best guy friend and next-door-neighbor Jeb ends up tagging along, accidentally, and they are in for the adventure of a lifetime with the dead.
Alyssa struggles with her existing feelings for Jeb, who already has a girlfriend, plus her very old and now much more mature feelings for Morpheus, the Wonderland moth boy she spent time with in her dreams as a child, who is now all grown up and hot like Edward Scissorhands. It makes for a nice love triangle that feels realistic and not just there to create romantic drama. Although, Alyssa's chemistry is far better with Jeb than Morpheus, in my opinion.
I see a lot of reviewers saying they don't like the characters in the novel, but what are they all smoking? I loved the characters more than I normally love the characters in the YA books I read. They are great, even if not perfect, but they are so realistic and fun to read about. So what if Morpheus lies to Alyssa a lot for his own agenda. Does he have to be perfect in order to be lovable? No. And, Jeb behaves rather possessively of Alyssa while in Wonderland, but he's used to treating her like a sister, so I get that. Plus, he changes his tune in the end, anyway.
This books is super fun and unpredictable without a boring part in sight. For those already enamored of Alice in Wonderland and love YA fiction, this is the perfect fit. It's so much better than the Johnny Depp Alice in Wonderland movie that came out a few years ago, which was good, but not great. I think this story would make a much better film.
*Thanks go to the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Dualed has a strong and intriguing premise which drew me to it beforehand. It truly has great potential, but it doesn't fulfill it in its execution.
WDualed has a strong and intriguing premise which drew me to it beforehand. It truly has great potential, but it doesn't fulfill it in its execution.
We have here a dystopian former United States and this story takes place in the north-western part of it, probably around the formerly known areas of Washington State or Oregon. The area of Kersh, which main character West lives in, is run by a government that never receives much literary development, but it has a policy of creating duplicates of every citizen born and forcing them to fight each other to the death during their adolescent years. Why, you ask? Good question. Why, indeed....
This sounds like it's moving into improbable territory and it is. The government seems to want only the strongest to survive, thus each citizen and their Alternate must duke it out until one of them dies and they only have one month to do it, or they both self-destruct. Sure....
Not to mention all the inherent contradictions within the shaky world building and within the character of West herself. I don't think this story was well thought-out before being written and published. West Grayer is one of the most unlikable heroines I've ever encountered. She endangers the lives of those she cares about the most because she is careless and then blames others for her mistakes.
After getting someone very close to her killed in the beginning of the story, she decides to get a job as a "striker," an assassin who takes out Alternates for hire. She's never done work like this in her life and she's a skinny 15-year-old girl. She has a bit of training from her older brothers because they all had to grow up knowing they'd need to kill their Alts one day. But, it's not like she's experienced. Still, she gets the job as a striker without any trial period, or training, as if she were a total veteran. Not realistic. At all.
And, why is she even doing this type of work all of a sudden? Because it distracts her from feeling so bad about the deaths of all her family members. Honestly, I don't buy that because she just seems unemotional and unfeeling about their deaths and everything else, for that matter. Her guy friend, Chord is an old friend, but she constantly pushes him away the entire story until she decides she's in love with him. Out of nowhere.
The action scenes are written brilliantly and there's plenty of them. This is where it shines and along with the idea of the story, it is strong, but that's where it ends. A great idea is meaningless in the hands of one who can do nothing meaningful with it.
The details of the dystopian world feel like our regular everyday world. There is too much freedom for this girl who supposedly lives in a controlled state. She shouldn't be able to move so freely and even become a striker. She shouldn't be able to bleach her hair to change her appearance, but she does. Where are the government officials to bully her and spy on her like they ought to be? When it comes down to it, the world building is actually very generic and uncreative, too much like our free world.
I give this novel 2/5 stars for having good technical writing and great action scenes. But, the unlikable main character and the boring supporting cast along with the poorly thought-out world building kept me from being able to really enjoy it.
*I was provided an eARC of this novel by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion of it. ...more
Plot: Holston is an aging man, weighed down by his desperation over wanting to leave his home in an undergroundMy FAVORITE Adult indie read for 2012.
Plot: Holston is an aging man, weighed down by his desperation over wanting to leave his home in an underground silo. His wife is already dead because she dared to break the stringent rules of their community, and the sentence was to go outside, above ground, and clean the lenses on the cameras that reveal the outside world's view. That outside world is filled with toxic gases that will destroy anything in minutes, so this punishment truly is a death sentence. But now Holston wants to follow in her footsteps. He wants to find out why she and all the others sentenced to clean the lenses have always followed through with cleaning them, as ordered, even though they all died shortly afterward. He wants to know what's really up on the surface outside.
Characters: It mostly centers around the very depressed Holston and why he's decided to willfully break a rule, despite being the silo sheriff, in order to get the cleaning sentence. His wife is featured in a few flashbacks, and she's an amazing character, what little we see of her. She's the one that got this ball rolling because she thought she found some evidence that computer files had been deleted or altered from previous generations. Did it mean their ancestors had lied to them? She ended up wanting to go outside so badly, she broke the rule of declaring she wanted to go out, and thus, got exactly what she wanted. That happened three years earlier, and now Holston is unable to live without her anymore. He wants to put all the pieces of the puzzle she left behind together and solve it, once and for all.
Writing: The writing is really top-notch. This author is quite good with words, not to mention his storytelling ability.
Story: And, now to mention that storytelling ability. Wow. This one is impressive. I finished it thinking, “I couldn't possibly hope to ever think up something like this. What a story!” It left me questioning so many things about the society Holston and Alison (his wife) had been raised in. And, the shocker at the end.... Yeah, not a happy ending, but it answers the question of why the cleaners always end up cleaning the lenses. Leaves you wondering a lot about stuff like, what did Holston do to get his sentence? I either missed it or can't remember. Who is really in charge down in that silo? Holston is the sheriff and there is a woman mayor, but she seemed so uniformed about stuff. Alison said the IT guys knew everything. Did they? There are sequel novellas, but I'm unsure if they reveal these answers.
Overall Quality: Super high! I don't think there was a thing wrong with it, unless you count how short it is.
Favorite Scene/Moment: I can't even reveal it to you because it is a major spoiler, but it happens at the end when Holston does finally go outside the silo, above ground to see the real world with his own eyes. Craziest fake-out ever. O__o...more
I have to say Bitterblue was somewhat disappointing for me. I really liked Graceling, the first book in this series, but Bitterblue is very long, longI have to say Bitterblue was somewhat disappointing for me. I really liked Graceling, the first book in this series, but Bitterblue is very long, longer than need be, and just doesn't have the excitement Graceling has. It's not that the plot is worse, because it's fine being an unraveling mystery for Queen Bitterblue to sort out. She has to discover all the ways her late father, King Leck, ruined her country and its people, and it takes its toll on her emotionally, as it does many other characters. It's well written, even better technically than Graceling, but reading about how Bitterblue runs around her castle solving clues for 500 pages gets old very quickly.
I like Bitterblue as a character and she's nothing like Katsa, by the way. There's a lot of feminism in Graceling that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but I didn't mind it. I like that Katsa can be a heroine who doesn't want to get married or have children because that is so rare, but I don't even feel like she's much of a poster child for feminism, since she latches onto her boyfriend Po for dear life. What kind of feminism is that? -__- Bitterblue knows she'll marry one day and wants to, and in this novel, she falls in love with someone she can't possibly marry for political reasons.
Saf is a decent male hero whose more of an anti-hero, but I didn't feel like he was in the story enough. Bitterblue liked him probably more than she should have for how little he appears in the story. I wish he had been in it more just so I could believe her feelings for him were justified. But, then there's the issue of her seemingly growing attraction to Giddon and I wonder what will happen with them in the future. I'm not sure anymore books will be written in this series, let alone volumes that will include anything on Queen Bitterblue's future, so I may never find out. As for my favorite character in the series, I like that there's more Raffin in this story compared to Graceling, but he doesn't even have to be in it because he doesn't do much of anything useful.
Anyway, overall, it is a decent book but nothing like Graceling. Still, I felt the mystery element was handled really well and you get to discover along with Bitterblue just how truly horrific King Leck was during his reign. The man was sicker than the sickest sicky that ever sicked. If you're curious at all about him as a character, you will find a treasure trove of information in this installment.
*I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers in exchange for my honest opinion of the story. ...more
Plot: Kiora is a young girl born into a completely innocent existence, free of any evil. Neither she nor any of her people have ever encountered evilPlot: Kiora is a young girl born into a completely innocent existence, free of any evil. Neither she nor any of her people have ever encountered evil until Aleric, an adviser to the King of Meros, claims the Prophecy is about to come to pass and evil will be reintroduced into their land. They need a being of magic to protect them called the Solus and the Solus is the unwitting Kiora. She must train in magic—something none of her people ever knew existed before—in order to prepare to fight the evil Dralazar from taking over Meros.
Characters: Kiora is just a pure innocent and she's very relatable. She may be the heroine of the story, but she lives with doubt on a daily basis. She's not sure she's good enough to be the Solus and is afraid of failure. Prince Emane is her Protector, called to be by her side at all times, although he is the first Protector to be non-magical. His self-esteem, too, is put to the test as he tries to protect Kiora from the nearly constant threat of harm to her, even though he has very little ability to succeed at doing so. I like that they struggle so much like real people do. They have their own natural talents, but that doesn't stop them from struggling to believe in themselves.
Story: I liked the story, although it spends a lot of time showing Kiora and Emane's training, which is less than exciting. It makes up for it with a lot of character development and the development of their relationship. Thankfully, they don't suffer from the 'insta-love' trope because they take the entire book to fall truly “in love” with each other. Even being physically close doesn't qualify as love, which is good. It feels more real-world to me that way. Not everybody declares their undying love for you right before or after they kiss you for the first time. Or, even after many times. In fact, when does it ever happen like that in real life? The story starts to really get cooking by the end, before the climax and throughout the climactic battle scene, which is extremely well done. Definitely the best part. Instead of being small and squirmy, it's grand and epic. Real fighting with real bloodshed and wounds. Characters actually die and it even causes the main character incredible grief. This book raises the stakes when truly needed.
Writing: It's decent, though not stellar. It could use some work on the technical side. Plotting-wise, I think it needed the crucial plot points to stand out, and the resolution took a very long time to wrap up. After such an epic climax, I just wanted the story to quickly end, but it started another almost-arc right afterward for quite a bit beyond that. A lot of questions were answered in that second almost-arc, but most of them could have been saved for the beginning of Book 2.
Overall Quality: Good. This is a pure fantasy novel with no paranormal elements. Just high fantasy, so people who enjoy this kind of literature might like it. I say give it a try. Here be some characters that actually dare to go beyond being one-dimensional.
Favorite Scene/Moment: Any scene where Kiora has to deal with hate in her face from either Emane's fiancee or her own older sister. She handles herself so wonderfully, despite being emotionally hurt by these horrible people. I always admire characters like this and only wish I could react like her under that sort of duress.
My Score: 3.5/5 stars.
*I received this ebook as a complementary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review....more
Plot: (This is #3 in a novella series) A mysterious man is looking for Cedar and a town murderer is on the loose, killing tribal women. Cedar takes itPlot: (This is #3 in a novella series) A mysterious man is looking for Cedar and a town murderer is on the loose, killing tribal women. Cedar takes it upon himself to hunt the killer down, fearing Kali may be the next victim. Kali just wants to build her own airship so she can leave Dawson, but she never seems to get the time because people are always after her flash gold. She does get to ride on an airship, although she must go to extremes to make a special fire-rifle and rescue another tribal woman in order to experience it. What I like is that she finally got to meet Cudgel, the man Cedar has been hunting since the first novella. It lends itself to more encounters with him in future installments, I hope.
Characters: I love Kali because she is so different from regular women of that era and even ours. She's always wearing overalls and carrying wrenches in her pockets, not caring about what she looks like. Cedar is a tall, handsome, swashbuckling hero who actually likes her, despite her being so different. At first, their romance seems to have taken a backseat, but in the end it rears its shy head. I also like this random old man on a boat who could curse his head off in old-fashioned-ese better than any character I've ever seen. "That boodle of a mother-kissing lickfinger pirates got all my cussed gold... Got me wrathier than a treed coon." Can't get any wrathier than a treed coon!
Technical Writing: It's always good in the Flash Gold Chronicles, never fancy or purple-prosey, but, practical and efficient. The voice is one of my favorite things because it's all Kali's. It's fun to be inside her sarcastic mind.
Storytelling: There is a lot going on in this little story. Cedar has Lockhart after him, and Kali has to deal with Lockhart, too, and the perverted murderer, and Cudgel. All of these people have different reasons for being in the same place at the same time, wanting the same two people. It's hard to make this work in a novella, but Lindsay Buroker manages it easily. Like the other novellas, this one is high on adventure, and manages to raise Kali and Cedar's relationship up another notch. I want to see more of Cudgel now that he's been introduced. He seems like a really mysterious, intelligent villain.
Overall Quality: Excellent. Nothing about this self-published story needs tinkering, editing, fixing up or anything like that. It's very professional.
Favorite Moment/Scene: As much as I love all of Kali's and Cedar's romantic-like scenes, I'll say the part where she fires her makeshift flash gold rifle at the pirate on the airship is my favorite. The flames dance around in the air like nothing the eye has seen before. That was pretty darn cool, and Kali makes this rifle on-the-fly and under pressure. The girl is steampunk's answer to MacGyver.
*I received this title from the author in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Plot: I had a feeling as I read Across the Galaxy that the plot was a bit off to my natural senses. It seI won this book from a Goodreads giveaway....
Plot: I had a feeling as I read Across the Galaxy that the plot was a bit off to my natural senses. It seemed some key plot points were arrived at either too early, too late, more than one time, or not at all. It made it hard to get into a good flow of reading. The inciting incident/catalyst happened perhaps too early, although that's my own opinion. I don't even remember what happened at the halfway point, and the ending had two different climaxes. Very confusing. I found myself wondering why the book still had 60 pages to go after reading the first climax, only to discover the second one at, appropriately, the end.
Characters: Main character Alina is an Ilya, a being from a world called Gliese, but she spent several years of her childhood in Arizona in order to hide out from Tharos and his evil shadow minions that had taken over her world. She had lost her memory of ever being on Gliese, but her caretaker, Peter, raised her informed of her identity as the heir to the throne of Gliese. She was a pretty good female character and brave enough to respect, but I didn't find her all that interesting. None of the characters really stood out to me and made me take notice of them. They felt like they were all just there to play their parts and then “exit stage left” when the final curtain fell.
Writing: The writing left something to be desired, not counting the lack of proofreading. Not that it was altogether fail, but there were times I felt like it was weak in how it conveyed simple events that occurred. Also, there were quite a few little scenes and conversations that were unnecessary. A lot of those moments and exchanges were pointless and probably should have been cut out because they made the story drag.
Story: First of all, Alina and her people were called “Glows” because they could generate a glow from the cores of their bodies. Not sure why this was, although it was a pretty good set up for them being the natural enemy of alien shadow people. And, there were large talking wolves for no apparent reason. Why not cows or ferrets? It seemed like a very random animal to use when there was no organic need for any anthropomorphic characters at all. Not that I'm against that sort of thing, but I like the author to make sense of why they are in the story. Otherwise, I found all the other characters' behavior annoying because they constantly restricted Alina from doing anything and everything in an effort to protect her “Royal Highness.” It got old really fast. “Alina, are you okay? Are you all right?” Multiply this by 1,000 and that's about how many times she gets asked this by various characters. Not to mention she just happened to be the most powerful of her kind. A little too convenient.
Overall Quality: It's inferior to a lot of YA fiction in this genre, but overall not entirely awful. I just have high standards for my favorite genre (sci-fi/fantasy). It's enjoyable to plenty of people out there, so get a second opinion, but it lacked too much for me.
Favorite Moment/Scene: Unfortunately, I can't say I have a favorite scene.
Plot: This is Book 2 in the Warriors of Ankh series. Eden has been saved by the Ankh warriors after they massacred her soul eater family—all except hePlot: This is Book 2 in the Warriors of Ankh series. Eden has been saved by the Ankh warriors after they massacred her soul eater family—all except her evil cousin, Teagan. They take her to Scotland where she becomes Ankh and trains as one, even hunting down soul eaters as she completely turns her back on her soul eater heritage. But, somebody won't let her forget who and what she used to be, and Teagan decides he's not done with her.
Characters: Eden really wasn't that likable of a character in Book 1, but after her change into an Ankh warrior, she really loses all that inner rage and bad attitude which made her kind of losery. I like her way better in this book. Noah is just the same old Noah, an okay guy and your typical overly good-looking dude who's way too into an average-looking chick, that being Eden. Teagan is the character that shines for me. I honestly only wanted to read this sequel because of him. And, he did not disappoint. So sassy and snarky and full of evil smirks. Oh, man! I love this guy even though he is about as sadistic as they come. But, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love me some great villain characters, and Teagan is the one I've been searching for to add to my collection a while now.
Story: It starts off not all that exciting and even has quite a draggy middle, but gets much better during the climactic scene. Much of the first half is about Eden being mad at Noah for pretending to be her friend during his mission to “save” her in Book 1. They have relationship problems most of the book, but then end up together in the second half and it felt REALLY forced. I wasn't into that because I always assumed Eden was a plain-looking girl and he talks about her like she's a run-way model. I just don't get it. Is she so gorgeous? If she were meant to be, then why give the constant impression that she's so dreary and plain? If Noah is so ridiculously Greek god-like, then he'd not be into a plain 17-year-old girl. He's 80-years-old and she's his first real love. Really? (Edward Cullen, anyone?) I'm not buying it and they have zip in common, despite the prose mentioning that they do. Show me the evidence of that and I might believe it.
Writing: It's written just like Book 1, decently enough. A very quick read if you want a quicky.
Overall Quality: Good. I enjoyed this, mostly because of Teagan's antics and his plot-twisty ways. There are some colorful Scottish characters on the side that really stand out, like Tobe and Mhari. Really funny and cute.
Favorite Scene/Moment: Not really a scene, but I loved every instance in which Teagan would refer to Eden as “Paradise,” “babe,” and “my love,” using these pet names that irritated Eden to no end. That made me laugh so hard! Ah...that guy slays me (pun intended)....more
Every now and then, you read a book that makes you remember the reason you love to read. Shadow and Bone is just this kind of book for me. It’s one ofEvery now and then, you read a book that makes you remember the reason you love to read. Shadow and Bone is just this kind of book for me. It’s one of those novels you can read and read, and keep reading without even realizing how much time is actually going by in real life as you read it. When you have to put the book down and go do something else that needs your attention, you want to read just one more page, or chapter….
Shadow and Bone is a high fantasy young adult novel set in a fictional world based on Imperial Russia. Yep. Right there you already know you have something different, probably even special (and you do). It’s about a teen girl named Alina Starkov from a country called Ravka who discovers she’s a Grisha—basically a person with magical abilities. She’s not only a Grisha, but the special kind that comes around every century, or even less often. Because of this, she is whisked away to the capitol of Ravka for her own protection and to be trained to use her powers.
There is, of course, romance, but it’s not heavy-handed as you would expect. Let’s face it—YA tends to focus so much on the romance that not much else about the stories have any substance. Not the case here. There is plenty of plot and real things going on, political things even. The author finds little opportunities to sneak in a bit of romantic tension here and there without making it all about those moments. It’s done so artfully.
But, the best part about the story is Alina herself. She is full of sarcasm and even a little sardonic humor. She’s realistic and reacts how people would actually react to the strange and fanciful situations she’s forced into. I liked Genya, her sort-of best female friend character, Mal, her crush and long-time best friend, Baghra, her magic teacher, and even the ever mysterious and complicated Darkling. The relationships she has with all of these characters is delicious.
I know this book came out about two years ago and I’m only now reading it, so I feel a little slow. But, it takes a while to get around to certain books with a to-be-read pile stacked to the ceiling, you know? If you haven’t gotten around to this one, I highly suggest you do. Make sure to imagine Alina with a Russian accent as she tells you her story. The entire story will sound so much better and more fitting in your head that way, particularly with her personality....more
Plot: This is a new in-between comic book series that takes place after the 2009 Star Trek movie, but before the sequel film due out in 2013. BecausePlot: This is a new in-between comic book series that takes place after the 2009 Star Trek movie, but before the sequel film due out in 2013. Because it's a serialized comic book, very little actually happens in this volume. It sets up the story arc with Captain Kirk and Spock, Scotty, Bones, etc. all continuing on with their space adventures post movie. The Enterprise is on its way to the edge of the galaxy when they encounter a ship that had apparently vanished 200 years earlier while on the same mission. A member of the crew gets affected by the old ship and he starts doing weird, paranormal things. Mr. Spock wants to take drastic measures to eliminate the unknown threat, but Kirk is not hearing of it, and it ends on that cliffhanger over what Kirk is going to do about it.
Characters: With something like this, an adaptation of a good adaptation, you look for whether the characters seem in-character—and they do. The rapport between Kirk and Spock and Scotty (and everybody, really) is very much what you can see in the movie, if not the original Star Trek TV series. They are perfectly lovable, or infuriating, depending the character.
Writing: Here I'll have to mention not only the writing, but the artwork, too. First, the writing is good, the dialogue is very 'Trekkie,' in that you have the kinds of commands being shouted that you'd expect on a Star Trek episode. It works because it's familiar. Second, the artwork is very good, as expected, and features the typical western comic book style. The characters actually look just like how they do in the 2009 film, not like the original Star Trek TV actors. It gives you the right impression that you're reading about an event taking place in-between these newer films.
Storytelling: This is like watching an episode of Star Trek. It gets right to the point, or to the inciting incident and then the set-up. I do sort of wish it had gone a bit further than it did, but it's definitely the beginning of a promising story arc.
Overall Quality: High quality in the story, the writing, the art, even the in-characterness of the characters.
Favorite Moment/Scene: I didn't think any scene was so amazing, but what stands out to me is when we see Gary, the crew member affected by the 200-year-old ship floating in space, and first realize he's tripping on some space junk, so to speak. It's nothing I haven't seen before, but it stands out.
*I received this title from the publisher in exchange for my honest review....more
Robbi is a young girl (in Middle School, I think) who ends up getting into Laddertop Academy because her mother secretly sent in her application. HerRobbi is a young girl (in Middle School, I think) who ends up getting into Laddertop Academy because her mother secretly sent in her application. Her best friend Azure wants to go so badly, and they both get accepted to the academy for training. While there, Robbi has a string of strange experiences connected with to the mystery surrounding the aliens that gave Earth the Laddertop towers. No one really knows anything about the advanced technology, how to change it, how to fix it, and definitely not how to replicate it. It seems the reason only young children are capable of fitting into the small tubes for maintenance is very much intentional on the part of the mysterious alien givers.
Robbi is the main character and she's just an average girl her age, although perhaps a little short in stature. That's a good thing for kids in this world because the smaller and smarter you are, the more likely you are to get selected to attend Laddertop Academy. Azure is a spunky tomboy who's been dreaming of attending the Academy her whole life, although Robbi never wanted to leave home because her mother's husband is physically violent and she's afraid he'll start abusing her little sisters and mother while she's away. I like Robbi, but with so little of the story contained in this volume, it's hard to get a clear idea of her personality.
The concept of this story is really great—something very much up my alley. It reminds me of my favorite science fiction anime, which I believe is an influence. The mystery surrounding the aliens is very intriguing because they seem a little too sneaky. What are they up to? All the adults running the Laddertop towers try to uncover the towers' secrets only to be constantly stumped. While I really like the premise and the world building, both are well done, I'm not usually into stories meant for younger children, so this one seemed a bit lackluster to me.
Because it is a manga-style comic book, the writing is done through talk bubbles and captions, and it's done well. The artwork, which has to be mentioned, on the other hand, is not my favorite. I just didn't feel like the quality was good enough and the style wasn't very appealing to me, either.
Favorite Scene/Moment: I liked the scene where Robbi picked up a metallic bug-looking object and it suddenly started carving out some alien symbols into her arm. That was unexpected and very cool! Never found out what any of it meant in this volume, unfortunately....more
Ugh! Death by ravaging cliffhanger! After that one, I'm smarting a bit. I usually find it easy to wait for the next ant
My FAVORITE Adult read of 2012.
Ugh! Death by ravaging cliffhanger! After that one, I'm smarting a bit. I usually find it easy to wait for the next anticipated book in a series, even if it's a year before it will come out. But, this time I'm wasted at the intense presence of this cliffhanger. Beware the cliffhanger of DOOM...
Now, on to my actual review of this book. This installment is so fan-freaking-tastic that I don't feel like I can assemble the right words together. I'm also severely tired, as I have only just finished reading it, and it's 1:30 in the morning. Atticus is gearing up to help pick a fight with a certain thunder god—Tall, Blond and Lightning himself. Yeah, we really get a good idea of what Thor, the Norse god of thunder and lightning, is really like, and it is not good. He has wronged far too many people and he needs to be taken down.
If you'll recall in Book 2, or not if you haven't read it yet, Atticus agreed to join his fabulously handsome and old-fashionedly quirky lawyer that I'm in love with, Leif Helgarson, on a mission to take revenge on Thor, who more rightly ought to be regarded as the god of douchebags. Leif has assembled a team of immortal dudes who are all sporting murderous rage against that lightning/hammer guy, too. I love how through the tales each of them tell each other around a campfire—good ol' male bonding—we learn their origin stories, not just how they were wronged by Thor and how awful he is.
My favorite character has been Leif since book 2, and we really get a vivid picture of who he is, how he became a vampire, and how old he is (very old), amongst other juicy tidbits. Leif fans will adore this one (or, just me because I seem to be the only Leif fan in existence), although may find the ending to be a bit hard to swallow. But, I'm super happy with all the background info on him, and his strengthening friendship with Atticus. It's beautiful, man!
Anyway, again, I laughed so hard I nearly pooped a cow (I won't say this expression the Irish way because I am not in anyway Irish, and that would make me look foolish. Although, I've probably already managed that just now). I didn't hurt myself this time, at least, but Atticus reached new levels of funneh, and his questions to Leif about the secrets of vampirehood were just so friggin' hilarious, it made the whole book worth reading right there!
But, seriously, this book does everything—makes you laugh out loud (lolcat style), makes you cry (especially at Gunnar's and Leif's tales, if not at them directly when they battle the gods), and makes you gasp in horror at the Star Wars Force-infused cliffhanger that threatens to choke you like Darth Vader's death grip. You will fall in love with this series if you haven't already, and if you're already there, you will fall that much more in love with it. It's the best one, so far. With all this in mind, you have been warned.......more
I have been a huge fan of the Avatar: The Last Airbender Nickelodeon cartoon series for a number of years now, so when it ended with so many of my queI have been a huge fan of the Avatar: The Last Airbender Nickelodeon cartoon series for a number of years now, so when it ended with so many of my questions still unanswered, I was miffed to say the least. Not to mention I just didn't want all the exciting adventure to end. This new comic book series, though late in getting out into the world, picks up where the TV series left off, after Aang has defeated the evil Fire Lord Ozai, and has restored peace and balance to the world. Well, he sort of has…
In this first serialized comic book installment, Zuko is now the new Fire Lord, and he and Aang, now acting as the world's ambassador Avatar, decide that all the Fire Nation colonies located within the Earth Kingdom need to be displaced back to the Fire Nation homeland. They believe there can be no real peace if those colonies remain where they are because they were built as a result of the Fire Nation's occupancy of the Earth Kingdom. Earth Kingdom peoples are wanting them gone.
But, Zuko finds some of the Fire Nation colonists are resistant to this displacement. The Fire Nation people of this colony have been living there for over one hundred years, and feel that Fire Lord Zuko is a traitor to them for making them leave their prosperous home. Someone makes an attempt on his life, and he winds up spending some time there with the colonists and realizes he has to go back on his word to support the Earth King in removing the people. This makes all his trusted friends, Aang, Katara, and Sokka believe he's becoming like his father, who is still in a Fire Nation prison.
Mostly what fuels the plot is a big misunderstanding between Zuko and Aang, and this time Zuko is in the right. Aang doesn't even realize just how hard this displacement will be on the citizens of the colonies, so they try to talk things out, as world leaders ought to. They are only able to get the Earth Kingdom protestors who want the colonists to leave to stop protesting, but that's about it. It ends with Zuko doing something quite shocking in regards to his imprisoned father, evidence that Zuko is continually haunted by him and his wicked legacy.
Zuko is the ultimate bad boy trying to change, but is constantly backsliding again and again. Despite the fact that he fought on the side of the Avatar during the war, and helped to defeat his sister, Azula, along with his father, he still has a lot of darkness within him. He's still a teenager who has a lot to learn about running an entire country. So, too, does the Avatar gang have a lot to learn about maintaining the world in a peaceful, balanced way. They are learning it's not as easy as it seems. Heck, even grown-ups can't get it right!
This new installment to the canon story felt like watching an episode of the cartoon series, in how it looked and felt on the story, dialogue, and characterization levels. The creators of the series are part of creating this comic book, so it ought to feel that way. The artwork is spectacular, as all the characters look just as they do in the cartoon. And, it leaves you with quite the shocking cliffhanger at the end! Somehow, this series is supposed to link up to the new Avatar Korra cartoon that will debut on Nickelodeon later this year, but exactly how is still not clear. I can't wait to read the next installment.
*I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I found this flash fiction for free in the Kindle store and it caught my eye based on a few reviews stating how shocking and horrific the big plot twiI found this flash fiction for free in the Kindle store and it caught my eye based on a few reviews stating how shocking and horrific the big plot twist is. I read the premise and found myself wanting to discover just what these reviewers were talking about. Plus, I had the time to read something only 3,500 words long, and had the money to buy something free—just barely.
But, I gotta say, the big scary reveal that is supposed to freak me out really didn't. As the main character realizes he's seeing something really bizarre in the tongue ring of his female dental patient, he feels disturbed. He examines it a little more closely, and I had an idea of what I thought it most likely was. Then, he finds out exactly what the weird thing in her mouth is, and it ends up being exactly what I figured. Not much of a surprise for me. Had it been something I never saw coming, then I would have been shocked, of course.
So, while this story was very well-written and held my full attention from beginning to end, it just didn't 'wow' me the way I expected it to. Still, it was good. I'm not sure there is a sequel, so don't expect the story to continue elsewhere, even though it seems like it ought to, judging by how it ends. But, read the story and see, when you find out what the tongue ring really is, if it surprises you, or not.
My score: 3.5 stars out of 5. (I liked it.)...more
Plot: This story is another adventure for Shadow Abby Grace to tackle as she finds another borrower, Michelle, a beautiful teen girl with a best frienPlot: This story is another adventure for Shadow Abby Grace to tackle as she finds another borrower, Michelle, a beautiful teen girl with a best friend brokenhearted over her boyfriend who suddenly dumped her for a more attractive girl. It's up to Abby, who is starting to remember a little of who she really is, or was, to set things straight and reunite the two lovers.
Characters: Abby gets a hint at what she's supposed to do from Will, her helper guy, and it's to reunite the two lovers. This means something along the lines of getting Michelle's best friend, Heather and her ex-boyfriend, Sam, back together again. I think in so little space, the new characters for this episode can't be judged properly. But, seeing more of Abby and Will does reveal more character development for them. They even seem to be liking each other, despite the fact that Abby always pretends to be someone else, and has to pretend to like someone else. It would seem confusing, but it doesn't come off that way.
Writing: The writing is better in this episode compared to the first one, The Shadow. It seemed more efficient and descriptive, especially of Abby Grace herself, the real Abby Grace whose face can be seen only by herself whenever she looks into a mirror.
Story: I like the story pretty well because, like the first installment, it is a mystery that Abby needed to solve in a short period of time, and it took on a lot of unexpected twists and turns. With this one, I was always guessing the outcome along the way, but it turned out not quite like how I figured would. It's pretty fun reading.
Overall Quality: Good quality—I liked it, although not as much as the first novella. People who love mysteries and Nancy Drew-like stories would really like this contemporary series.
Favorite Scene/Moment: The scene where Abby(Michelle) chatted with Sam, the best friend's ex-boyfriend, and ate pizza with him on the beach. He had come to her rescue when her own boyfriend had stranded her there because she wouldn't put-out. I like that Sam turned out to be a dear old friend of Michelle's that she hadn't talked to in years because Michelle had changed during her relationship with her awful boyfriend.
Plot: Ismae is sold into a marriage with an abusive husband by her equally abusive stepfather at the age of fourteen, only to find herself suddenly whPlot: Ismae is sold into a marriage with an abusive husband by her equally abusive stepfather at the age of fourteen, only to find herself suddenly whisked away to a convent on a small island off the coast of Brittany (modern day northern France). She was sired by Mortain, the god of death, one of the original nine gods of the pagan Bretons before the region became Catholic. The convent is devoted to carrying out Mortain's will, raising up his human offspring to carry out his assassinations of those who would betray Brittany. Ismae is trained for three years, then assigned to play the part of a courtier's mistress, the courtier being a young, handsome man named Duval. Someone is trying to hand Brittany and its duchess over to France and she must discover who this traitor in their midst is, and end him or her. The plot, like a murder mystery, goes around all over the place trying to discover who the traitor at court is with nearly everyone being a suspect, including Duval.
Characters: Ismae grows and changes a lot from beginning to end. She first feels empowered when the convent abbess takes her in and trains her in all the many ways to kill men. She was treated so poorly by men all her life, so she thoroughly despises them and only ever expects to serve the convent and Mortain's will. She is shaken down to her foundation when she meets Duval and begins to fall for him, since he is the first man to treat her with actual respect. They butt heads a lot in the beginning because he knows she's an assassin and fears she'll try to kill him at some point. And, Ismae just fears men, period. Duval is a great male lead, very serious about accomplishing the task of protecting the young Duchess from being married off to the horrible old lech, Count D'Albret, even though their union would protect Brittany from being invaded by France.
Technical Writing: I completely adore the writing style. It's written in first-person present tense, which is odd, considering it's a historical novel, but I never felt it was awkward at all. Ismae speaks simply, but in a bit of an old-fashioned English way, saying “mayhap” instead of “perhaps” or “maybe,” and things like that. It's never hard to follow for a second, though.
Storytelling: I'm amazed at how capable the author is of weaving all these different plot threads together into a perfect tapestry. It's a complicated plot with a ton of stuff going on, but not too hard to follow, and really keeps the reader engaged at all times. I never got bored reading it, but I'm one who likes political intrigue. If you don't like plots that dive heavily into politics, this one may not be for you. But, it's a better woven story than most I usually read.
Overall Quality: Really high. Everything about it is high quality, even down to the world-building, the fantasy aspect behind it. The fantasy aspect compels Ismae to carry out her assassinations and guides all her actions. And, when something important is about to happen, the story sets itself up properly, so when you get to that part, you believe it. Nothing happens randomly, nothing is pointless, and every loose thread gets tied in well.
Favorite Moment/Scene: I have so many it's hard to narrow it down, but I love when Ismae saves the Duchess of Brittany, a cute little twelve-year-old girl, from being raped by Count D'Albret. He is a huge, disgusting lecherous man, and one of her suitors, but the girl hates him more than anything in the world. His attempt to rape her was meant to sully her maidenhead so she would have no choice but to marry him, after all. Ismae pulls out her weapons and scares him off before he can do anything more than just grope the little girl. Poor thing. But, I love how triumphant that scene was for the both Ismae and the Duchess.
My Score: 4.5 stars out of 5.
*I received an advanced review copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review....more