Without a doubt my absolute favorite of these four books, The Iron Knight was a fantastic finale to a sRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Without a doubt my absolute favorite of these four books, The Iron Knight was a fantastic finale to a series I've come to love. Though it was strange initially for me to not read Meghan's internal thoughts and concerns, the switch to Ash's POV for the final volume was a brilliant decision; one that allows the reader to once again see the Nevernever in a completely different light. It's a bold, fresh take on a well-loved and familiar world. It certainly helps that Ash was my favorite character (with the possible exception of Grimalkin), but the transition between the two differing viewpoints/characters was smooth and handled well. In this fourth novel, Ash is faced with the impossibility of being with his love in a realm poisonous to his very being. Determined fey that he is, Ash sets out in The Iron Knight to find a way to his love.
I have stated in previous reviews that I was tremendously impressed with the character arc Meghan had over the three books centering on her. I have to admit I was even more impressed with the depth, and care with which Ash has emerged from a shallow, silent killer into a real, conscientious being. Ash's own personal evolution takes place over a much shorter time than Meghan's (though he started to defrost in The Iron Queen) but it is rich, believably filled with pain and hope. Through Ash and his struggles, Julie Kagawa openly explores what it means to be human. Is it loving another beyond caring for oneself? Is it expressing regret and atoning for the wrongs committed? Ash must face questions unknowable with hard answers and repercussions if he is to be with his Queen in the Iron Realm. The once unassailable Winter Prince is revealed as human after all (forgive the saying). His moments of weakness, remorse, sorrow and joy are all spelled out in ways unseen in previous novels. This lowering of the wall of Ash's solitude makes him a far more real character.
This is a series that has improved with each successive novel. Each time the plot grew more complete, the atmosphere more enveloping and compelling, the characters more vivid. This is no exception: even the dialogue between frenemies Ash and Puck is at the best its been. There's a perfect balance of humor to level out the emotional and platonic tension. The interplay between both, without Meghan referring, is also an exposition minefield. Finally, more details on life before Meghan emerge: the reader can see the former closeness between the two fey, as well as the latent hostility. Even the mysterious figure of Ariella does not remain nearly as much of a cypher as she was before this book. The pacing was also top-notch, with a firm nod to a more creepy feel than the previous books; the numerous, varied adventures the band stumbles through were diverting and kept the pages moving at a steady pace. Kagawa's great talent for storytelling, along with the easy, smooth flow of the novel creates a story and world the reader is reluctant to put down.
Though missing several players from earlier stories, and adding a few completely (read: JAW-DROPPING) additions, the Iron Knight is not to be missed. Ending a well-loved story/series with delicacy and care is a hard accomplishment. Thankfully, Julie Kagawa can be grouped with J.K. Rowling as authors who were true to their characters, their world, and their fans. This book gets a very well done from me, along with the melancholy knowledge that I will never again have an Iron Fey novel before me. I highly recommend this series....more
This is a novel that crept up on me. It exceeded my expectations - a rather hard thing toRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
3.75 out of 5.
This is a novel that crept up on me. It exceeded my expectations - a rather hard thing to do with a book about a SUPERVOLCANO (get ready, I love volcanoes so any time it is mentioned it will be in all caps) - and I also enjoyed it more than I had anticipated from the first chapter. This is the story of Alex, a 15 almost 16 year old typical teenage boy. The generation after "the 9/11 generation" Alex's life takes place in the somewhat-but-not-too distant future in America. The first person perspective was an interesting experience for me in this novel for one reason: I don't read a lot of male teen perspective in YA. Other genres, sure but in the past I've had issues connecting and caring for younger, angrier male main characters. Happily, no such issue with Ashfall. Mullin weaves a believable young man in Alex: one a 24 year old female has little to no problem caring about and rooting for throughout the duration. It was a refreshing choice and nice change of view for me personally. I knew Alex was kid after my own heart when he said of shelving his history and sci-fi books alongside each other: "I just thought of it as past and future history." A sentiment I found totally appropriate from a kid in a nearly-impossible apocalyptic future. He's a nicely normal, regularly immature and self-centered 15 year old boy that grows into a more-than-capable young man. The voice is easy, readable, though it might occasionally come across older than the aimed-for 15.
In Alex's world, everything stopped on a Friday. The "pre-Friday life of school, cell phones and refrigerators dissolved into this post-Friday world of ash, darkness and hunger." With a SUPERVOLCANO (duh duhhh duhhhhhh) 900 miles away in Yellowstone, whose explosion and noise could he heard all the way to Alex's home of Cedar Falls, Iowa Mullin had my attention from the start. I'm a sucker for survival stories and adventure and boy did he deliver with the surprisingly realistic Ashfall. On Alex's 100+ mile trek to find his family in another state, there is adventure, human cannibals, bad ass older gay men, awesome hot older bald chicks, and more. Mullin certainly doesn't waste anytime launching the reader right into his story and it's a wild ride from start to end. Mullin does a credible job of keeping the tension and emotions high: even the hours of darkness and unending ashfall are tense and riveting rather than boring or pedantic. This is a pretty straight-forward advenure/survival tale: Mullin doesn't add many elements from other genres. Though be warned: it can be pretty decently gory and unexpectedly violent. Beware the human cannibals and rabbit skinning scenes - they're pretty well-done but very unsettling.
The world didn't stop when it ended as everyone knew it. On his travels Alex happens upon a wide variety of human nature. No character is completely good, completely evil or even safe from a (usually gory, abrupt) death. From brutes who loot, to rapists and murderers to evangelical Christians on the verge of mass suicide, Mullin doesn't hide the darker side of human nature: the ones who use disaster and pain to gain something, like doomsday prophets preaching more fear. Alex says upon realizing the bad outlook: "The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn't taken our humanity. No, we'd given that up on our own." Happily the author doesn't stint on the good side of people either: it's a well-balanced depiction of what life in America could be life if this SUPERVOLCANO actually existed. The differing types of encounters Alex has serve more than adequately keep his day-to-day trek interesting if still necessarily and understandably repetitive. One issue I did have: Alex mentions "precusor" eruptions/vibrations MONTHS before the actual eruption... but no one did anything? A catastrophe so enveloping half the United States in "red zone" with no assistance and the government knew... and did nothing? It struck me as an oddly glaring detail for such a seemingly well-thought-out and researched novel. One of the elements of the novel I also enjoyed was the lack of info Alex had on his situation. Sporadic and unreliable information is hard to come by in this darkened world, leaving Alex devoid of info and entirely in charge of all his decisions - just as he wanted "pre-Friday" to his chagrin.
The wide range of characters also worked in Ashfall's favor. From the bad ass older gay men to the hard-nosed and honestly a bit too perfectly brainy Darla, each was different and dynamic. Darla, the older woman in Alex's young life at 18, sees Alex at his weakest and as an unnecessary risk, but helps him repeatedly if begrudgingly. She's by far the most intelligent/resourceful character in the novel, but maybe a bit too much to be entirely real. I'm all for the girl being the best, but I find it hard to believe an 18 year old handbuilt a well-pump, an innovated bathroom/toilet arrangement, or a bicycle powered corn grinder all by herself - when no other character in the novel is shown to be half as proficient - even Darla's parents! Where did she learn this, Autobody High School for MacGyvering Your Way to Life in the Apocalypse When Everyone Around You Dies? That deux ex machina lost some points for previously high authenticity factor. I did like that Darla and Alex worked well together, with an easy but sexually-charged tension between them. Working in tandem works better for both than independent efforts alone - an overaching theme for the entire novel. More is accomplished with cooperation than coercion, a point subtly made and proven with Darla and Alex. Their slight romance is sweet and mostly off-sceen: no distraction from the main story of survival and family.
If I enjoyed this so much, why only a 3.75 out of 5? Well, besides the issues with the precautions and Darla's hidden identity as Inspector Gadget/MacGyver the pacing suffers occasionally. Not on Alex's trek: once he reaches a government camp my attention and interest began to wane. The novel truly succeeds with Alex, out in the ash - not hemmed in and cooped up. I also found the final confrontation with a major antagonist to be rather flat and bland - not at all what I had been led up to believe would happen. Note as well the final conclusion - it failed to be stirring emotionally and felt more like an obvious ploy to ensure continued reading in the sequel, Ashen Winter. I fully intended to read the next volume, but I felt cheated by the abrupt and unfulfilling end to the first after the extensive buildup of 450+ pages. Mullin is a more than decent storyteller with a hell of a story to get out, but pacing issues and deux ex machinae (?) plague the middle to last quarter of the tale.
What I Was Absolutely Sold On:
-the disaster of the SUPERVOLCANO itself - Mullin does a fantastic job of selling it, realistically, scientifically -Alex himself - immature, capable, determined and a great refreshing change of perspective -Darla - minus caveats from above. She is the second-most developed character: naturally evolving into a kinder, more vulnerable but no less capable/badass girl -the experiences Alex has on the road to Darla/his family
What Lost Me:
-Darla's super abilities -plot holes: government warned and did nothing, east of Mississippi okay but no relief to breadbasket of America? -Camp Galena - terrible pacing, lost the flow of the earlier chapters
All in all an ingenious, imperfect but completely fun survival story hampered by a few issues. Mullin doesn't stint on the details, even creating diseases ("silicosis") and such from the ash to contend with more mundane issues of food, shelter and family. His SUPERVOLCANO is a great hook and a great idea for a post-apocalyptic duology - I hope the sequel improves upon this already impressive first effort. ...more
Mercedes Lackey is an author that is evidently growing better and better with age and output. I've read her novels since I first started3.5 out of 5.
Mercedes Lackey is an author that is evidently growing better and better with age and output. I've read her novels since I first started getting into reading a lot of fantasy as a genre at about age 13, and this most recent foray into her splendid imagination was even better than my first reading experience 11 years ago. Her fairytale/myth/legend inspired Five Hundred Kingdoms series has a level of fun and whimsy present in every volume that I truly enjoy (a quick mention of "Jenny Pluck Pears" as a nod to our world's "Jimmy Crack Corn" made me laugh within the first three chapters) and wish was present in more novels these days. I just have fun with these books; it's practically impossible not to. They're not perfect, but I often enjoy the experience of reading them more than enough to forgive many issues I might have. I've had a great time with each of the first four in this unique and original world of Godmothers and Tradition (I've yet to read number five, The Sleeping Beauty) and Beauty and the Werewolf was, happily for me, no different. An engaging mix and remix of Red Riding Hood as well as Beauty and the Beast, I sped through this latest magical offering from Ms. Lackey and loved every minute.
Unlike previous novels in this same series, Beauty and the Werewolf is told from the sole, first-person perspective of the heroine, Bella. While I liked the back-and-forth of the first four with the switching POV's from male to female, I relished the chance to really connect to Bella, without interruption from another viewpoint. Due at least partly to this, I liked Bella intensely - she's up there with Andromeda from the #2 novel One Good Knight, as my all-time favorite woman in this series. Unlike the other leads from the series, Bella and her life, are largely ignorant of the Tradition - and I liked the switcheroo from the others. It's a nice refresher on the rules and ideas of this fantasy world after more than a few months away. Lackey doesn't go overboard and drown the reader in an infodump, however, Isabella just learns as she goes. I liked Bella immensely: she's smart, she knows it and she uses it. Yes, an actual heroine with a brain. Much more down-to-earth and "modern-day" for lack of a better term, than her stepsister or stepmother, she's the most "normal" character of the novel. I liked that while Bella is quick-thinking and capable, she's not the most martial of heroines: she is a character that favors brains over brawn anytime. She's a very logical, coolly smart woman who doesn't rush into anything, including relationships. . . leading me to . .
Really a 4.5 but I'm rounding down. You'll see why probably tomorrow, whenever I get my review finished.
A great, sprawling epic of a novel, The WildReally a 4.5 but I'm rounding down. You'll see why probably tomorrow, whenever I get my review finished.
A great, sprawling epic of a novel, The Wild Rose concluded the fantastic (and fantastically outrageous) Tea Rose series exactly as it began: outlandish, touching and utterly compelling to read. In this series, I started out just merely liking the introductory novel The Tea Rose, and absolutely loving the second The Winter Rose; the middle of those two emotions is how I feel about the finishing tale of the Finnegans and their extended, varied family. There were parts I utterly loved, as well as parts I wanted to kill every character upon the page. In this woeful tale of Seamus Finnegan and Willa Alden, there are: German spies and spy networks, Lawrence of Arabia, women's suffrage in England, extramarital affairs aplenty, World War I, the Spanish flu, Turkish prisons and torture, and the hardly-worth-mentioning now, star-crossed lovers.
This novel had a slower start than the previous two. In the other novels, the plot shot out like a rocket from the first chapter. In this installment, there is a lot more buildup, more tension added to the atmosphere of the story. Told expertly in third person omniscient, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to get into the mind of whatever POV character (and there were quite a few!) was narrating. It almost feels like the author took the first hundred and fifty pages to simply set up the scenario, and the characters in minute detail. However, once the war starts, the book really begins to move along and becomes an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel. While it was nice reading all the back story of Sid, Fiona, etc. of the intervening years between the books, I found myself impatient for the outlandishness to begin. The narrative once again jumps many years in between parts. I for one, find these time lapses occasionally jarring; I'd much rather prefer a more linear story.
As Fiona's tale was told in The Tea Rose, and Sid's was in The Winter Rose, The Wild Rose tells the long-winded and often tragic story of Seamie Finnegan, the last of the Finnegan children met in the first book... To read the rest of the review, click here....more
Cinderella gets a cyborg twist in this eye-catching and sci-fictionish tale- but that's not all the funRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Cinderella gets a cyborg twist in this eye-catching and sci-fictionish tale- but that's not all the fun nor all the new changes author Marissa Meyers offers up in her first novel. While absolutely recognizable as a clever retelling of the classic tale of Cinderella, Ms. Meyer manages to place her own unique and interesting, updated spin on the ages-old folk tale. This is one of the first of several such retellings I've either gotten to read (Ella Enchanted, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, The Fairy Godmother) or bought and have waiting (Ash by Malinda Lo, Ember by Bettie Sharpe) or am on the look out for (Before Midnight) to buy. Cinder is original and inventive both with its location, time, technology and twists. Overall, I thought that this was a very clever and fun read, worth both the hype and the endless, obnoxious ads on GoodReads.
Linh Cinder is a cyborg: the new form of servants/underclass in the world of Meyers making. Even peddling basic mechanical repairs, Cinder is forced everyday to deal with being the most outcast, feared, hated and nearly shunned person at the Market. In a city of millions, it's easy to feel isolated and alone, but not the extremes that Cinder is forced to by the very culture of her own home. There are constant reminders how just how little worth Cinder is considered to be: from her stepmothers constant verbal reminders to the city-wide draft of cyborgs for scientific experimentation research. These are thinking, feeling people treated as though they were no more human than the all-mechanical androids. Cinder is a decent protagonist to start with at the introduction of everything - the world is foreign (but just slightly familiar) so it's hard to assimilate her situation at home, outside, with her stepsisters, with her stepmom, etc. all at once. Only 36.28% human, Cinder is obviously not one of the favored class, and her struggles are hard-fought and won. She easily gains trust and likeability as her situations unfolds more clearly and in detail, and her stubborn but smart personality has a chance to grow as well. She's kind, giving and unconcerned with status - all typical of Cinderella in Cinderella tales, but this one has a few traits that set her aside from the norm. I won't spoil them here, even if they can be predictable in the novel, but this Cinder is and has a unique personality. Cinder has a faulty foot - resulting in her needing a new mechanical/cyborg foot instead of the typical and expected slipper or footwear and it seems appropriate for this slightly-skewed but eventually likeable protagonist. There's a lot more to Cinder and mysterious history than let on, and I liked the slow uncovering and piecing together of her trajectory to New Beijing and into Kai's life.
I wish I could say I liked Kai as much as I did the rest of the novel - he's certainly attractive, in that perfect book-character-type way - but he isn't the most fleshed out, or personalized of characters. He seems fairly cookie-cutter for paranormal YA, though without any of the control/dependency/stalker issues so many others suffer from. I sadly found that lack of individual dimension to be the case for most of the supporting cast: the stepmother Adri, one of the stepsisters (Pearl) just seemed carved from the typical Cinderella-story cast, with no updated, fun twist on their typical roles. I had hoped for something more original to be done with the two (three if you count Kai) of them, but that is not the case here. I did like that the family dynamic was switched up: Garan and Adri are the natural parents of the 'evil stepsisters' with Cinder being the adopted, biologically unrelated addition. Most of the twists and subversions of the Cinderella folk story are centered directly upon protagonist Cinder, or tangentially connected to her, like the orange beat-up gas car for a pumpkin. As for Kai and Cinder's romance, happily it is neither the main focus of the narrative nor the driving force behind the plot or Cinder's life. It's sweet, light and adds a subtle flavor of love, hope and yearning to the bouquet of emotions that run through Cinder's downtrodden life.
My main problems with Cinder were the first half: there's a lot of detail, information in the first pages, aka a lot of foundation. While that is by no means a bad thing - give me a well-thought out society any time - it makes reading slow going with undynamic characters. Once Cinder and Kai get a littler more..lively... it's a much faster, fun book but the first half suffers. The flipside of all the details and worldbuilding of the first half is just how utterly complete and solid the society/world of Cinder feels to the reader. Like I said earlier, Meyer creates a world that is both recognizable and totally foreign. Ages-conflicts and issues are still present (xenophobia, the urge for independence, duty versus desire), still eternal but Meyers has crafted a new world and spin for these stories to emerge and play with.There's a vague but consistently Asiatic feel to the culture, vocab, lifestyle of the people within the Commonwealth - appropriate as it possess a capital city called New Beijing - but I'm glad it wasn't a half-assed, weak job. Just like the society ruled from beyond its walls, and like Linh Cinder herself, the palace of New Beijing is a mix of both nature and technology.
Meyers is an able-to-good storyteller. I wish the first half hadn't been so laden down with detail, though I am very appreciative of the thorough nature of both her imagination and the world of this novel. However, once the ball gets rolling on the plot, this is a submersive and hard-to-put-down novel. Cinder leaves me excited and very eager for the next book in the series, Scarlet, due out....... 2013. I think it's quite unfair to leave me hanging in the admist of that admittedly AWFUL cliff-hanger, but sadly that is typical of paranormal YA today. I won't gripe overmuch, as the good/fun outweighs the bad by a large margin. This is one those novels that though I've already read an ARC, I'll be hunting down my own copy to have and love. ...more
Darker Still was a lot of fun for me to read, from beginning to end. Witty, charming and full of magicRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Darker Still was a lot of fun for me to read, from beginning to end. Witty, charming and full of magic most foul, this is a young-adult foray into the supernatural that succeeds on many levels. Charming, real, fleshed out characters commingle with an intriguing plotline and an original hook to make for a read that is nearly impossible to set down. This is a novel to be devoured in as few sittings as possible; I raced through every chapter, eager for more. Though clearly an homage to famous works and characters (The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the best comparisons, and I honestly don't think the Pride and Prejudice comparison is warranted at all), Ms. Hieber's Darker Still can stand firmly on its own two feet as a charming and clever novel with oodles of promise for the same in its incumbent sequels.
Set with the backdrop of alluring 1880's New York City, Darker Still is the vehicle of Natalie Stewart. Natalie is known as an "unfortunate" of the times, known better today as a mute. This middle-class ball of spunk is an auburn-haired and smart young woman: headstrong but not foolhardy. She's just as a young-woman of the times should be: scheming, determined and dramatic. I had a lot of fun with Natalie, though obvious from the "mute" label, she is not an ordinary, run-of-the-mill protagonist. Natalie possesses a hidden steel to her character that I hadn't expected and thoroughly enjoyed. She's also pretty handy with a weapon, and I love a main character that can defend herself ably, without degenerating into the unbelievable "Waif Fu" of Vin in Mistborn, or Lisbeth Salander. I also enjoyed that the novel itself was written as a personal recollection of Miss Stewart's. As a mute, it was a subtle reminder of how limited the narrator's communications were: only Natalie's thoughts are shown and examined. It was a nice period-appropriate touch, with contributions from letters/notes/etc. pertinent to the case added in for extra clarity, reference or emphasis. What also helps the atmosphere of Miss Stewart's first-person tale are the mixed-in touches of period-appropriate terms ("histrionic ward" "not all the lamps were on in my attic") to keep the reader firmly in the mindset of gentler, more refined time in history.
Jonathan Whitby, Lord Denbury, the man caught inside the painting, takes longer than Natalie to coalesce into a three-dimensional character (I made a pun! Go me!) Jonathon is also an interesting character because, as hinted both by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray in the synopsis blurb, there are two Denbury's operating upon the pages of Darker Still: the one imprisoned (the "soul" of the man if you will), and the one corporeal and mobile (the body, possessed by another). The "demon Denbury" is dark, murderous and quite adept at ratcheting up the tension of the novel. But for all his dark allure, it is the painting of the man that catches the attention of the reader, not his evil counterpart wreaking murder and misery through New York. I loved Denbury: from the outset of his appearance in the novel, he is charming and tormented, caring and compassionate. I quite honestly loved Denbury with Natalie: theirs is a relationship that brings out the best in the other, while managing to be completely cute and age-appropriate.
I for one totally bought into the odd but charming romance between the painting and the mute teenager. Natalie, like Lord Denbury inside his painted prison, has sat and watched her life be decided for her, with no input or decision-making power in her own hands.Once she makes the decision to help Denbury, a real change is present in the character - Natalie breaks free of her own self-induced apathy and takes charge for the first time. I do think "love" may have been introduced premature as part of their relationship's natural arc, but they two grow into it and I accepted their commitment before too long. (This was probably helped by my largely fangirl favorable impression of Jonathon himself...) I liked the more background characters of the novel as well, but though they suffered from a slight lack of personalization. Evelyn Northe is an intelligent, wily older society lady of New York and I wish more had been provided for her character: she seems to pop up when most needed and recede to the background until a drastic measure must be taken. Mrs. Northe's niece Margaret has the same issue, except that she's trotted out to cause possessive and romantic issues about the painting and later, Denbury himself. I wish these two ladies had more flair of their own, and were less dependent on Natalie to carry the novel.
Darker Still's magic was also creative and interesting. Incorporating many and vaired themes and items from various cultures across the world, the forces of Darker Still are seemingly quite powerful - and often awful in nature. From the nasty Crenfall (which is a name reminiscent of Dracula's Renfield, no?) to Mrs. Northe herself, the reader is never sure who possess what powers and the intentions for them. I liked the varied and intermingled aspects of the curse/spell/power that imprisoned Denbury particularly: the severing of the soul from the body is a visceral and cringe-inducing act, illustrating the cutthroat nature of the supernatural in Ms. Hieber's alternate history. In addition to the magic most foul, the writing and style of the novel itself do much to present a dark, mysteriously magical facade. "The plot has thickened and how. Lives, sanities, and the very fabric of reality remain on the line..." is just one of many possible examples of Natalie's harried and excited style of narration.
My few complaints include the rather rushed ending to a finely drawn out story. I adored the connecting threads of religion, power and magic, but felt that they were thrown too hastily together for a tidy, easy conclusion. Still, I enjoyed Darker Still enough that though I read a free ARC from the publishers, I still want my very own copy to have and love. (Who could resist that cover, anyway?) I look eagerly forward to the continued escapades of Natalie and Jonathan and hope the sequels meet the high bar set by the series impressive and lively introduction. This novel, in the most simple terms, is just fun, enjoyable and completely individual. Pick it up when you spy a copy, you won't regret the purchase....more
Kristen Painter breathes her own version of supernatural life into the genre with Blood Rights, the first in a planned urban fantasy series, and it isKristen Painter breathes her own version of supernatural life into the genre with Blood Rights, the first in a planned urban fantasy series, and it is lively indeed. With a convoluted culture and three-dimensional, fleshed-out characters this was an interesting twist on the human/vampire relationship shown so often in this (and, really, paranormal romance as well) type of genre. There's a lot to take in and enjoy from Ms. Painter's crafted world of vampire geisha, corporeal ghosts and hidden assassins. Blood Rights is the kind of novel one would plan to read for "just a minute" but actually ends up in the same place but two hundred pages, numerous escapades and several hours later. With her kick-ass female protagonist Chrysabelle and reaaallly tortured male protagonist Mal, I found a lot worth mentioning from this introductory but by no means boring first novel. Intensely readable, Blood Rights is definitely in the running for my favorite (adult/non-YA) vampire read of the year.
Moreso even than the characters, the world that the author has so intricately created is impressive and far-reaching. The comarré themselves are a creative addition: closely related to the kine (humans) of the world, but longer-lived, faster, and infinitely more desirable. The signum of the breed is also interesting: it allows for instant identification much like the facial tattoos/uploads of the GENs from the YA dystopia Tankborn. The comarré are always very aware of who/what they are and where they stand in the vampires' view. I found the interactions and dependency between the comarré and the vampires to be vastly interesting. Each side benefits uniquely from the arrangement: the vampire receives increased power/life from the blood of the comar/comarré and the gold-gilded almost-humans receive longevity, increased strength, speed and self-healing capabilities. I liked that it was a give-and-take between the both species; it certainly makes it easier to buy Chrysabelle's more martial nature further on. It's a fairly level balance of power that keep the comarré from being just slaves or indentured servants to the undead nightwalkers (and that's not even mentioning other obvious talents of the comarré. . ). While the vampire half of this symbiotic relationship isn't as revelatory and new as the comarré aspect, Painter does go so far as to imbue her novel with different types of vampires: fringe and noble, each descended from a vastly different source. I do wish clarification about terms/culture of this world had been provided much earlier: it's vexing to try and figure out what "fringe" or "anathema" means in relation to these vampires for 250 pages.
Obviously, Blood Rights has a very complete and complicated, alternate world. Though similar to this modern one we live in, locations like "New Florida" or "Islamic Republic of France" are subtly dropped into coversations, ensuring the reader is aware that 2067 is a very different world. Even the swearing is different, and even theme-appropriate for a vampire book ("son of a priest!" also? just hilarious.) With vampires in a very regimented patriarchal society, organized by Family/talent (I also loved the nods to first purported vampires Vlad Tepes and Erzsébet Bathory inserted into the novel) Elders and Dominus, Painter's social stratification is omnipresent, even among species, not just between them. Not only are vampires and comarré either reinvented or completely created, but many types of fae (wysper, shadeux, others), and other creatures, are present as well. Hidden from humans because of a mysterious "Covenant", Chrysabelle's world has other such nasties as Nothos, or hellhounds created from human and vampire stock. I love the constant touch if originality for Painter's supernatural creations: she even re-imagined shapeshifters as her varcolai. Not much was explained about the varcolai, with only one character belonging to that race, but with three novels to follow in this promising series, I'll trust the information is en route.
I had high expectations before going into this novel by young Ms. Kluver. When you hear of a teenage "phenom" publishing a popular 500 page fantasy toI had high expectations before going into this novel by young Ms. Kluver. When you hear of a teenage "phenom" publishing a popular 500 page fantasy tome, it's hard not to imagine the feast of imagination awaiting your pleasure. And while Cayla Kluver has some talent, and definitely shows room for improvement with practice and experience, a fourteen year old girl simply lacks the empathy, the experiences and depth to create an authentic and real feel to a novel. Particularly concerning the romance of the lead character Alera, aspects of the novel never appeared genuine or believable. A feel of just "something missing" is present in the novel: it simply lacks the polish and finesse an older author can instill in a story.
Age gripes covered and aside, Legacy starts off quite slowly. The first hundred or so pages dragged along with little within the book to distinguish it, taking sheer determination for me to muscle though to the interesting parts. Far too much time, detail and description is laid out for clothes, feasts, the appearance of the palace, what Alera is wearing, etc. The plot, the pacing and the characters are completely mired in extraneous, superfluous details for much of the novel. Adding to those woes, at times the story itself seems trope-ish and stereotypical of a fantasy novel, with forced arranged marriage with an insufferable military man, the mysterious, dangerous youth/foreigner with hidden powers, ridiculously impressive/resourceful bodyguards, a stalwart sidekick, etc.
This uniquely imaginative and intelligent novel was a terrifically melded blend of mystery, science ficRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
This uniquely imaginative and intelligent novel was a terrifically melded blend of mystery, science fiction, fantasy and young-adult genres. Told through the eyes and life of Alison Jeffries, a seventeen year old girl, Alison is both a very unreliable narrator and a hugely sympathetic character. R.J. Anderson truly achieved the voice, and attitude of a sullen, hurting young woman. Alison is a living, breathing, three-dimensional character filled with flaws, virtues and humanity. As Alison, the narrative is filled with passion and viable emotions and thoughts. Her wry (and often self-deprecating) humor were dead on the mark for a teenager who has been taught to be ashamed of all she is and can do.
This is a novel that was crafted with delicacy and much planning. It is laden with clues, subtle hints, and hidden meanings deep in the imagery-heavy, sensory-rich prose. I do not feel that revealing Alison has synesthesia as a spoiler -- it's out mentioned in the in the ads. Words, numbers, sounds all have personalities, colors, smells thanks to her possessing five different kinds of the phenomenon. Alison, while driving in a car states, "[...]I wanted to hear the landscape, taste its contours, and smell its hues," as only she can. Her amazingly vivid condition fits the lush style of the writing well: it's as close as the reader will ever get to experience life the way Alison does. I was so interested in this very real condition that I researched it online and I am beyond impressed with the depth of research and history Anderson went to in order for this story to work on the levels it does.
I enjoyed the fresh scenery: I've not read any hardly any novels set in Canada and the change of scene was a nice harbinger of the individuality to follow. The atmosphere of the story was completely enveloping. Even necessary the parts of the novel (for example Part One was The Scent of Yesterday, chapters are titled Zero(Is Translucent), One (Is Gray), Ten (Is Vulernable), etc.) are subtle reminders that hearken back to the most fascinating aspect of the novel: Alison's abilities. The first part of the novel focuses much more on the mystery aspect of Alison's story: what exactly did happen to Tori, and was Alison in any way responsible for Tori's death/disappearance. Part one was intense and impossible to extract myself from as the pieces were slowly revealed. The more Alison pulls herself and her memory together, details about the mysterious event are doled out like nuggets of gold. The true events of the mystery are parceled out so stingily, for the first hundred pages I genuinely could not decide if I believed Alison was sane or not. Now that's an unreliable narrator: one who does not even trust herself or her recollections. Part two (Present Sense) suffers just a bit from a rushed, slightly uneven tempo, but happily the problem was short-lived: part three (Touching Tomorrow) managed to be well-rounded, nicely executed and soulful conclusion to a delightfully surprising novel. The ending is more bitter than sweet, but is entirely appropriate and fitting for Alison's journey. There are a few opportunities and plot-lines left open for exploration in a possible sequel, one I can only hope is written soon.
his is definitely more of a plot-driven novel. The rush to figure out what happened to Alison, to Tori, to be placed under her own cognizance, moves the characters more than romance or friendship. There was a deft touch with the tension in the novel: it builds slowly, marginally and then ratchets up to 11 in the final scenes. I hardly minded the plot-focus because I was entirely caught up in the uniquely creative language and prose. Descriptions like "his hair was the color of a thunderstorm reflected in a mud puddle" will win me over any day of the week., especially if interpersonal interaction is not a strong point of the author's. And, to be honest, some of the love/emotional scenes were a bit too saccharinely sweet for my taste. However, I do love creative, innovative writers than can make their words and ideas pop: R.J. Anderson is definitely one such author.
This is a novel that more than lives up to its advertising byline: Everything You Know Is Wrong. But you'll only know why if you read this novel. Its unique premise, gorgeous prose, full of quotes to love, and more than helluva twist more than recommend it.
"I heard the universe as an oratorio sung by a master choir accompanied by the orchestra of the planets and the percussion of satellites and moons. The aria they performed was a song to break the heart, full of tragic dissonance and deferred hope, and yet somewhere beneath it all was a piercing refrain of glory, glory, glory. And I sensed that not only the grand movements of the cosmos, but everything that had happened in my life, was a part of that song. Even the hurts that seemed most senseless, the mistakes I would have done anything to erase--nothing could make those things good, but good could still come out of them all the same, and in the end the oratorio would be no less beautiful for it."
Joan of Arc is a far-famed and widely recognized name, especially if you're a. Catholic or b. French. ARead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Joan of Arc is a far-famed and widely recognized name, especially if you're a. Catholic or b. French. As a rebel, as a saint, and even as a peasant, this young girl captivated an entire country, following her 'voices' and fighting the English for freedom. Taglined with "the girl who led an army, the peasant who crowned a King, the maid who became a legend," Cutter sets the stage for her version of the world famous knight right from the get-go. I did have to do some reading up on the Hundred Years War during and after reading this because a few details were blurry in my memory and I wanted to check the validity of the events in this novel (medieval France is not my historical forte). Happily, and incredulously I might say, I found much of this novel to be factually correct, all the while maintaining a snarled plot and a brisk pace. Even the most incredible events from the book are recorded as fact (Jehanne's predictions of a defeat at Rouvray, telling Charles "Use me. I will last little more than a year"), and Cutter does a fine job of meshing the facts of the past with her interpretation of the person. She also steers clear of the inane repetition of titles and names of the nobility that some other historical fiction authors cannot seem to avoid. I thought that this was a well-told tale, and Ms. Cutter a more than able storyteller. Never dry, or dull, I was swept up in the story from beginning until the end and her Jehanne is more than believable: she is three-dimensional and vibrant.
The story is told by Jehanne herself, explaining her life up to capture by the English to her seemingly sympathetic jailer in a brisk, almost unfeeling reminisce. With the Hundred Years War raging from 1337 (before her death) until 1453 (twenty years after her execution), Jehanne begins and lives her entire life directly in the tumult of this dynastic warfare, and it leaves a lasting impression on the girl. With the third person perspective in use Cutter is deftly able to weave a complete - and devastating - picture of life in English-controlled France. And it is a harsh, unyielding picture full of mostly misery. With the external pressures of a mad father, a murdered sister and a devastated country, it is not hard to see why she turned to prayer for solace and then began to hear voices. Though The Maid plays the voices as if they are actual saints (Michael, Catherine and Margaret to be specific), it is not hackneyed element nor a podium from which Jehanne preaches. I did find the pet names from the saints to Jehanne a bit off ("cabbage" and "darling"? I could see "lamb" I suppose, as in lamb of God, but it wasn't used) and it threw me when one of the three would reference Jehanne with one of them. Jehanne was also never full of herself, simply stating she was "a lamp in which God had chosen to burn for a short time." Her humility rang true, and remained the forefront of personality for the duration.
Moving at a brisk pace, the novel shows Jehanne through five parts, divided by age or events within. Jehanne's early life was surprisingly compelling for a peasant in medieval France, and Cutter shed light and personality upon the mostly-historically-ignored family that brought Jehanne into the world. The abduction and murder of her sister Catherine at the hands of the "Goddons" (English), though one of the fabricated events, served as a nice foreshadowing of Jehanne's future treatment by the same nation, and also served to explain more of Jehanne's reasons for her calling. Her relationship with her father was severely troubled, a symptom that reappears in almost all Jehanne's later interactions with men and possibly the reason for such issues in the first place. Jehanne is shown to be a full, complete person: she doesn't survive of religious fervor. The author took care to craft a well-rounded personality who can feel and express doubt and fear instead of an unfeeling zealot: her latent feelings and romance with the Duke of Alencon, her struggles with violence, and even nostalgia from home.. these are all problems with which Jehanne must wrestle and overcome. Jehanne grows into herself: from a shy girl turned away from the dauphin, she becomes a ferocious general, dealing with insubordination and mistrust with ease. Cutter does an admirable job of showing a human side to a saint venerated for her supreme piety. Slowly, her Jehanne is revealed as a woman that is much admired, but sadly not liked within her support base.
Jehanne represents much more than just resistance from the English. She took a dynastic struggle lasting decades between nobles and kings and made it about the country itself. She is a living symbol of the peasantry, fighting for their freedom rather than a King defending his inherited lands. While her prowess at Orleans could be laid at the feet of "surprise", I tend to think Jehanne's natural abilities were the cause. The excellently described, gory battle scenes were a high point for the novel as well: each seemed alive and different than the preceding fight, practically thrumming with excitement and action. All in all, this version of Jehanne was utterly compelling and engaging. Though the end cut off before her execution, the timing was perfect. It felt like the end; there was no need to see read her execution at the hands of the English. A nicely well-rounded and plotted historical fiction, alive with tension and fear... this was one of the better historical fictions I've read so far this year. More than enjoyable, and though not astounding, The Maid is a great historical fiction novel for anyone looking into a fun read about Joan of Arc....more
Theodora was one of the most influential women of her time. As a poverty-stricken dancer,Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
3.5 out of 5
Theodora was one of the most influential women of her time. As a poverty-stricken dancer, as the most celebrated actress/whore in Constantinople, as a penitent nun in a commune in the desert, and as the wife of the most powerful man in Christendom, she commands attention and vast amounts of interest. Defying social strictures and traditions of her day, Theodora rose from a common birth and life to the most exalted position available: Augusta of "New Rome" also known as Constantinople, the "sparkling gem in a Christian crown" in in 527 AD. Stella Duffy writes an easy-to-read and well-crafted and rounded tale of the infamous woman in one of the most interesting periods of the Roman Empire.
Born the second daughter of three to Acacius and an unknown woman, named Hypatia for this novel, Theodora was born into showbusiness as it was then. Her father was the bear trainer at the infamuous Hippodrome of Constantinople. It is the Hippodrome that is the most important place in Theodora's life: her earliest memories, the death of her father at the hands of his beloved bear, and eventually the site of the greatest triumph of her life: her coronation. Duffy writes Theodora as a determined, intelligent and capable young woman. Not the best singer, not the best dancer or even the prettiest girl, Theodora commands attention and awe from her presence, her wit, her spirit and her sheer ambition. Though the novel begins at age eleven for the protagonist, it is never immature or boring: I was captivated from the start.With a singer for an older sister (Comito) and a beautiful younger sister (Anastasia), Theo turns to her true talent: comedy. With it she makes a name, a fortune and a life she always believed was beyond her. I liked Theodora a lot: I actually wished this was a first-person novel rather than third, though I did get to see and enjoy insight into Justinian as well. She was the only female character I enjoyed, the rest seeming rather hard-bitten and begrudging of Theodora's success, even her sisters. I enjoyed - and believed - the growth and maturity Theodora grows into, especially on her travels from Constantinople. She learns humility, grief and even experiences for the first time a sense of equality while in the desert. For the first time, regardless of her sex or past professions or infamy, Theodora was what she has always sought to be: an equal. It's also terribly interesting to read about a indomitable woman who experiences such a wide range of life: from a whore to a penitent nun in an ascetic community, Theodora remains herself and full of fire. From failed love affairs, to child abandonment issues, Duffy presents Theodora as a complex woman. There is no easy answer to the hows and whys of what Theodora did historically, but the reasons Duffy fabricates/infers are more than adequate and totally believable for her version of the Empress.
Let's talk about Justinian, the Emperor. Presented as a bookish, scholarly but kind man, I initially didn't invest in the relationship between the two. Born Flavius Petrus Sabbatius, he was not from Constantinople, an ambitious "foreigner" with a thirst for power "born of a desire for change." A man of strategy rather than force, Justinian quietly emerged as a strong and very likeable character. While their marriage is portrayed initially as more of an alliance to harbor amity between both sides of the religious debate (they were on openly opposing sides of the heated religious debate), it grew into a nice, steady affection and love. The two characters brought out the best in each other: I liked their dynamic and relationship more and more as the novel progressed through their lives together. There is a nice dichotomy between the eventual August and his Augusta as well: Theo is of the City, poor and therefore "one of the people." Justinian represents the other classes of the varied, multi-national Empire: foreigner of the City, rich and royal. Justinian helps Theodora evolve from anti-government to actually being the government, an interesting and hardly believable tale based on fact.
This is a fairly easy read for a historical novel. I found the prose to be a bit stuffy and overloaded from time to time, the dialogue occasionally stilted and unrealistic, but neither issue overwhelmed my enjoyment of the rest of the book. Constantinople itself was one of my favorite parts of the entire thing: it springs to life as much as Theodora and considerably more than the rest of the characters. It is a vibrant city, teeming with life. Contradictorily the Christian capital of the world but still fighting an internal battle over divinity of the Christ, Constantinople is in a constant flux of religious dogma, a microcosm of the entire empire. With the Western side extolling the belief in Christ's humanity AND divinity and the Eastern parts of the Empire contesting He is wholly divine, a schism seems imminent. Between the religious debates and the constant political turmoil and maneuvering of the Blues and the Green, it's easy to see the cracks in the foundation. Duffy does a more than admirable job of explaining the different opinions/beliefs and the reasons for the tensions in the novel without a massive infodump. I will say I didn't like the jumps in the chronology at all: the barely glossed over times ("in those two years....." "For the next three....") because I was interested in a lot of the events/times skipped over.
Love her, hate her, despise her for her less savory acts but you cannot deny Theodora had an impact. On the world, on her Empire, and on religion. An influential woman who refused to stay in her place and do what she was told, I think many historical fiction fans will have fun with this easy-to-read, easily enjoyable novel. Her life began and ended at the famed Hippodrome, but Theodora's legacy and memory still reaches out over 1500 years after she died at the age of approximately 48....more
I had my eye on this novel for a while before a copy of it fell into my greedy, cover-loving, teenage-sRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I had my eye on this novel for a while before a copy of it fell into my greedy, cover-loving, teenage-steampunk-heroine craving hands. Dearly, Departed is indeed a great read for most of the novel, lively with NeoVictorian humo(u)r and futuristic themes, though it is hampered sadly by two (maybe three) too many POV's and overly-cartoonish and cliched villains. Dearly, Departed tries to do a lot with its 384 page length, with an eclectic mixing of a multitude of dramas and an inter-life relationship and it succeeds for enough of them - which is why I kept reading in spite of apparent issues early on in the novel's narrative. I liked the mix of a horror flair with the steampunkish nature, as I'd read a series with a similar bent but felt it lacked the urgency of a real zombie novel and I had a disconnection with the characters - a situation I hoped to find remedied in the intermingling of the genres here in Dearly, Departed.
I'm personally quite a large fan of steampunk novels and have been for about three years so this recent upswing in production of young-adult and adult novels with a Victorian bent and sly British humour is deeply appreciated when done right. And happily enough, one of the things that Lia Habel's series introduction Dearly, Departed nails on the head is the steampunk aspect of the freshman novel. With a mix of advanced tech and old-school steam function-ery (digidiaries, ID Chips, holographs, the required mention of "aether" with "Aethernet" ) in conjunction with highest (read: primmest) manners and ideals of the Victorian age, Dearly, Departed excels at creating a viable, evocative atmosphere with an original yet familiar locale. It certainly feels that the author researched and thought out everything about her society reborn from the ashes of destruction. Though the recent destruction seems ferociously apocalyptic in nature (massive climate issues, catastrophic storms, destroyed nations, new diseases and pandemics, a Second American Civil War, nuclear destruction, a SUPERVOLCANO!!, etc.) humans have survived and in this time of panic, they turned to manners, extreme social order and conformity. It's understandable and admittedly clever way of the author to authentically introduce such an anachronistic lifestyle into the year 2193.
Nora Dearly is a student at St. Cyprian's School for Girls. I really wished for more from this character, but on the whole I found Nora Dearly is a decent-to-good protagonist for this novel. I occasionally wanted to ask what the hell was wrong with her, but I didn't find her emotions and actions as off the rail as other reviews seem to have. Nora is definitely all over the place - the girl has the emotional range of ten people - but she goes through a lot in this novel. I didn't mind her rapid moodswings because they were within reason and not hysterical whining and crying. Nora wasn't my favorite POV by far, that honor belongs to the charming and dashing and dead Captain Griswold, but in this novel of FIVE POV's she's not my least favorite, either. With both good zombies and bad zombies out for her blood, Nora's hesitation to trust is understandable and leads to a real friendship to blossom with the aforementioned Captain. I liked Nora best when with Bram (or maybe I just ignored her more ;]), and I loved their sweet but slightly cheesy and predictable romance. It worked for me, even though he's dead and she's a little bit self-centered, and a whole lot of crazy. I also wish the plot-line with Nora's girlish and silly "enemy" Vespertine Mink had been explored more: it seemed haphazard and random. . . and I loathe the cliched, overdone "popular blonde girl" with a random hate-on for a main character. I wanted some reasoning, some valid explanation besides fomenting drama and girlfights.
Now, the other four POV's. We, as readers, are treated to insights not just from our erstwhile and goofy young lovers Nora and Bram but to: Victor (Nora's father), Pamela (Nora's best friend), and Averne Wolfe (the Commander in Charge of Bram's unit/division). Of these, I would say only Pamma's actually contributed much worthwhile to the plot of the story, and that was emotionality and mostly humor. I think Victor's perspective, endearing though it may have been, and Wolfe's should have been left on the editing room tables. They all ultimately end up feeling like filler, like a purposeful delay before returning to the more pertinent and relevant POV's of Nora and Bram. I actually quite enjoy Miss Pamma: she brings a little diversity into a whitewashed society and a little female ferocity to the table, but I couldn't look past her less-than-involving pages. I also found Averne to be quite comical - but probably not in the way (if she meant to at all) the author intended. His tirades and monologues to/at Bram were over-the-top and quite obvious. But Bram! I love Bram! I loved Bram's POV from the moment he appeared - the first page, the first paragraph. His is a prologue that is heart-wrenching, foreboding and appropriate. I loved his gentlemanly and refined interactions with nearly everyone: he may be dead, but he is still a gentleman, thank you very much. Though Bram is from a hostile country/territory to Nora's, they have far more in common than they do in differences. I would've enjoyed the entire novel so much more if it had been from this character's eyes alone.
I also admit to finding the zombie department of Dearly, Departed to be a bit wanting. With that prologue and the multiple, often intelligent, versions of the "Grays" (crawlers, lone wolves, bands of mindless flesh-eating machines. . .) I expected....well, more horror. With such a thorough background into the details and effects of the "Laz", I wished the author had conjured up a little more creepiness into her creatures. I liked the whole original and fresh idea of the origin of the zombies and the quest for the cure, but I wasn't impressed with the author's execution of them, particularly later in the novel. It seems that Nora is at least trying to duck the murderous degenerating undead for the first half and then. . . the attacks slow, trickle out. . . and, in the end, leave a lot of suspense to be desired. I never felt the urgency, the anticipation of the first part and that made finishing the latter bit a little harder than anticipated.
Dearly, Departed is, admittedly, quite far from perfect. It's also a lot more fun than I can seem to let on, and there are numerous aspects of this novel that I quite enjoyed. I just wish more had been trimmed so that Nora and Bram coudld shine a bit more, and that it had more chill and creepiness to it. I will certainly still definitely be seeking out the sequel Dearly, Beloved as soon as it is available, and hope that the steampunk gadgets and NeoVictorian charm have not worn out. ...more
I'm of two different minds about this novel. I'm typically not a huge fan of angels as a race/species/what-have-you in fiction, but they seem to be prI'm of two different minds about this novel. I'm typically not a huge fan of angels as a race/species/what-have-you in fiction, but they seem to be pretty inevitable, especially in the young-adult paranormal genre. I've even reviewed (and genuinely liked) Addison Moore's Nephilim-friendly Ethereal, but on the whole it's a niche I'd usually try to avoid. To me, it seems that there is a fine line between incorporating the celestial as an aspect of your novel for ingenuity and using it for subtle (or not so subtle) metaphor preaching at your audience. While Mephisto (for the most part) stays far away from that pet peeve of mine, it did hit upon a few others.
I personally, am not a fan of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. I try not to rant on about it as it's genuinely not horrible not the worst thing out there (Eragon, I AM LOOKING AT YOU) and it got a metric ton of people to read that normally would not (and it's been out forever soo been there, done that), but on the whole, I find Twilight bland, derivative and cringingly laughable. At times The Mephisto Covenant sadly reminded me strongly of the same vibe I get from Twilight. We've got a bland, perfect MarySue Alexandra "Sasha" Annenkova. She's described as "insanely beautiful" more than once, and much time is spent waxing philosophic on her many, varied attributes. Thankfully, Sasha grows and changes, but only with (and here is another problem of mine in 3, 2, 1. . .) . . . .
to finish this review (be warned SPOILERS ahead!) click HERE! ...more
While I've read more than my fair share of Elin Hilderbrand's breezy, easy summer novels (Barefoot, The Castaways, A Summer Affair, The Island, SummerWhile I've read more than my fair share of Elin Hilderbrand's breezy, easy summer novels (Barefoot, The Castaways, A Summer Affair, The Island, Summer People, Nantucket Nights) this was by far the most emotional and affecting yet. Usually, along with Jennifer Crusie, Hilderbrand is my go-to gal for a light, beachy, often romantic read I can finish in a couple hours. This novel was a slight change in tone from the previous novels I'd read, because those books too dealt with heavy, tough issues, this seems like a much more personal novel, especially when Meredith reflects on her relationship with her late father.
The book beginning finds Meredith, the titular "silver girl" of the book, grieving for the life she believed she had for the last thirty years. Her "economic whiz" of a husband Freddy had "commited financial genocide" with a Ponzi scheme of $50billion, cheating thousands (including most of their friends) of their hard-earned cash. Knowing nothing of his heinous crime but disbelieved and blamed by all of America, Meredith can only turn to a friend she'd spurned years earlier because of Freddy. Read the rest of this (mild spoilers) review RIGHT HERE!...more
The cover is by far the most appealing aspect of the mess that is Tris & Izzie.
Simply and best put: the cover is the best part of the complicated mess that is this novel. I'd heard of a few other novels by this author I have wanted to read (mostly Mira, Mirror) so when I saw this on netgalley -- with that gorgeous cover -- I couldn't wait to read it. Sadly I was disappointed and frustrated by this retelling of the classic Tristan and Isolde legend.
The writing itself is very awkward and clunky from the beginning pages. Paragraphs like
"Mom said it was too painful to stay where all the memories were. Dad died just after I failed the test for magic that was supposed to figure out what kind I had. I guess magic can skip a generation or even fade out completely. No one knows the reason, but that's why there's less magic in the world now than there used to be. It's hard to live without magic surrounded by people who do, Mom says."
are prevalent and just as heavy-handed and meandering (this is on page 12, where the author is explaining her life now she has moved and then randomly we're learning about the state of magic in her world) throughout the entire story.
There's a LOT of exposition early on in order to catch the reader up to speed with the events and principles of this particular world. Rather than show the audience anything, every last detail is explained in monotonous dialogue or the vapid inner monologue like that quoted above of the main character, Izzie.
Izzie, or rather Isolde as she's called only by her angst-magnet Tristan, is not a character I cared about very much. Vapid, vain and entirely too boy-crazy to accurately represent a girl I'd like, Izzie is pretty clueless to top it all off. When warned by her witch mother Gwen (multiple times, over many years with her own life as an example of a true love philtre gone wrong) Izzie DRINKS a real love potion intended for another instead of you know, spilling it and thus making her fall in love with someone other than her 'perfect' boyfriend of a year. And then, after Izzie knowingly stole said potion with its intent and accuracy, and put it in a bottle of Sprite for two people who had NO IDEA what she was doing, and then took it herself, she COMPLAINS ABOUT THE RESULT. (Girl. YOU DID THIS. You were going to take two people who did not know each other and make them obsessively love each for all time and then when it backfires, YOU DRINK IT AND COMPLAIN? Are you kidding me.) Instead of ruining someone else's life (her ahem best friend was the target...) Izzie ruined her own. Instead of inspiring sympathy from me, I felt it was justified for a girl so supercilious as to decide who should fall in love without any awareness of that fact.
Speaking of Izzie's best friend and perfect boyfriend, all the characters in this felt very wooden, and fairly bland. None sparkled with individuality or flair; Mark, her original boyfriend, was so unassumingly bland I forgot Isolde was supposed to be conflicted half the time. And while these are supposed to be teens in high school, the conversations and overly-loaded dialogue felt way out of place. Izzie casually mentions Mark "the king of the school" (also, real subtle allusion to the real story, there) willing to "exile" another classmate for offending Izzie. I'm sorry, but teenagers do not talk that way. It's unrealistic and laughable, not to mention anachronistic for a generation unconcerned with history.
The plotting is glacial and very hard to get through. The odd moments of humor (Tristan to Isolde: "You see things" Isolde: "What, dead people?!") were intermittent, and while I did find them occasionally humorous, it wasn't enough to save my failing opinion of the style of this novel. I just cannot support a novel that has 16 year old teenagers discussing how they have found their soulmate, and how perfect him/her they are at length. The constant back-and-forth tugging between Tristan and Mark was extremely wearying, especially since I did not care who the author went with in the end: a fresh ending with a new twist or a new take on the old familiar. I just did not care.
Clearly this is a predictable story, one that has been told many times by many different people for a long, long time. But sadly, here in this novel, I saw little to distinguish from any other genre, run-of-the-mill retelling. I had hoped for an individualistic and clever take of forbidden love in a modern age, and instead I got genre popcorn. 1/5 and just not for me. ...more
A sexed-up and steamy retelling of the classic fairytale Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Vampires at first doesn't seem to present too much akin to tA sexed-up and steamy retelling of the classic fairytale Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Vampires at first doesn't seem to present too much akin to the story that inspired its birth. In a series of four books penned by four different authors (Showalter, Jill Monroe, Jessica Andersen and Nalini Singh - she who has a blurb on the cover of this one, interestingly enough) Lord of the Vampires is the first and it centers around the Crown Prince of a mythical realm known only as Elden. When his parents are brutally murdered, Nicolai and his three siblings Breena, Dayn and Micah (the main characters of the three following novels) are saved by their parents' last act of magic and thus flung far from danger. In doing so, each parent instilled the credos of "Survive. Avenge." upon their children as they scattered to the wind, and lost their memories.
Nicolai awakes in enslavement to a horrid family of putrid women. Sold into sex slavery, but never completely mastered by his owners, Nicolai is a simmering explosions waiting for escape. . . . to finish this review, just click here....more
I am sadly DNFing this after 130 pages of hard-going. Either I am too tired or Umberto Eco and I just don't work that well together. This is the seconI am sadly DNFing this after 130 pages of hard-going. Either I am too tired or Umberto Eco and I just don't work that well together. This is the second of his novels (see also: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana) that I've had to stop for sheer exhaustion. I think I am continually lured in by the premise of his novels and disappointed in the execution of his ideas. As I write this one of Eco's most famous novels Baudolino sits within my "bought-not-yet-read stack" and I now hesitate even more to try it. 0 - 2 in two years is a bad track record already and adding a third will just depress me.
So this is an 'unfinished for now' as opposed to a definite 'never-ever-going-to-finish-this' novel. I still like the idea behind the words, but am utterly unmotivated to endure the next 300 pages of The Prague Cemetery....more
A break-neck romp set in a world populated with gargoyles, nephilim, demons, and angels, Knight's Curse was a fun diversion for a couple days. An easy A break-neck romp set in a world populated with gargoyles, nephilim, demons, and angels, Knight's Curse was a fun diversion for a couple days. An easy read filled with action, different forms of magic/abilities, curses and female knights, this first adventure by Karen Duvall centers around the character of Chalice. Chalice is special, with unique abilities ("Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I'd see them coming before they hurt me. Maybe even smell them," she says in the first chapter) because she is the descendant of a human woman mating with angels. In this world of Duvall's, those women who mated with angels and bore their (apparently only female) offspring were of an order of Knights existing since the Middle Ages. Her mother was deliberately murdered and Chalice kidnapped at thirteen by an evil organization (think the mafia with mojo), she was cursed as a means of control- every three days Chalice must make contact with her gargoyle, Shui, or be turned into a monster like him for all time.
Chalice herself failed to engage me, or make me really care about her story. I wanted to like this character much more than I did. By all means, I should love her: she's smart, snarky, sarcastic, good with a blade, and fierce. Why don't I?
Fracture is a lot of story, condensed quite neatly and admirably well within its two hundred seventy-twRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Fracture is a lot of story, condensed quite neatly and admirably well within its two hundred seventy-two page length. For a debut novel from a beginning author, Fracture is certainly impressive across the board: real, dimensional, flawed human characters, a fresh hook in the unusual plot, and a refreshingly teen teenage romance create a read that is emotional, fulfilling, frustrating and above all, real. From the very beginning, with its vivid images and words, this is a hard novel to put down. Just a warning: for those expecting a full-on paranormal/supernatural tale, Fracture is most definitely not the novel for you. The fanastical element is very slight, an addition to the story, not the crux of the plot itself. This is a novel driven entirely by emotion, not by magic or the supernatural. This is an author I will be keeping a look-out for in the future: I'm very curious to see (and read!) where she will go after this type of novel.
Guilt is one unifying themes and a defining characteristic for almost all the characters within Fracture. Delaney, the main character of the book, has slight survivor's guilt plaguing her from time to time since her reintroduction to consciousness. Decker, Delaney's forever best friend and the best character in Fracture, has guilt over what happened to Delaney, why it took so long for him to retrieve her from the water. Even Delaney's parents have stress, worry, guilt coloring their actions in the novel from the outset. Like I said earlier, this is a very emotional book and every character reflects that throughout the story. With such an emotional tone and characters experiencing emotions all over the range possible, this is an edge-of-my seat read, personally. I was never entirely sure who was going to do what, with whom or even why. This lack of clarity caused a problem for me with Delaney herself. She is oftentimes inscrutable in her actions and thought processes and I had a bit of a disconnect with her character initially, though it didn't last long.
Speaking of Delaney, I wish she had been a bit kinder to her loved ones. Some attitude/problems are to be expected, even normal, but Ms. Maxwell's stubborn and withdrawn 'tude bordered on extreme upon several occasions. I had a bit of a problem really connecting and investing in Delaney as a character at the outset of Fracture, partially because of her aforementioned attitude. Once I realized that she has a lot to process and deal with, my empathy for her character grew quite a bit. I actually liked Delaney best around her parents (who saw that coming?), and was happily surprised to read about a real, functioning family unit in a YA novel. There is no tropic, cliched Random Missing Parent, or even a mysterious past with a "dead" loved one. Nope, Delaney Maxwell is the daughter of two loving parents in a healthy, though not perfect, relationship. I personally must give major book/author kudos to Ms. Miranda for resisting the temptation of introducing this overdone element into her debut. Delaney's relationships outside of her parents are bit trickier to get into. Decker is obviously a complicated subject, but I wish Delaney was a bit more decisive about what she wants, regarding Decker, Troy, Cam. I didn't like the mental vacillating between the boys, when she clearly only had chemistry with one. (Not that I am biased in any way. Clearly. coughDECKERcough.)
Obviously, I have a favorite from this novel and his name is Decker. He's not perfect - his temper is definitely his Achilles heel - but he is perfect with Delaney. These two, when/if they finally get their act right are among my favorite YA pairings: they complement each other well. There's a sense of give-and-take between the two, and a solid friendship built on trust that helps create a viable, tumultuous relationship that brings out the best in the female protagonist. I was let down by the only other teenage female character of import. Janna is the sister of a friend of Delaney's and initially, I thought she might have an important role to play within the framework of the plot - another friend for Delaney, a female counterpoint to Deckard for example. Unfortunately, the arc that the author takes Janna upon is one of my few real issues for Fracture. Her confrontation with Delaney feels forced and false in an otherwise very accurate depiction of teenage relationships. I wish the author had shown a smarter, kinder Janna at the end: blaming Delaney feels forced and almost silly - Delaney couldn't help that she survived her fall, nor is she to blame for an accident resulting from a KNOWN previous medical condition of another character. I thoroughly disliked Janna's evolution, and also felt unsatisfied by Troy's actions at the end of the novel. Like Janna, it seemed forced, an easy out to tie up the plot and wish a little more time and explanation had been devoted to his personal denouement.
I really wish more information and detail was explained about Delaney's accident: explicitly, I wanted knowledge about why she survived and what her ability/power means for her. Is this a thing that is going to persist her entire life? (If so, how absolutely morbid and macabre to always know when someone she loves is due to die.) Was Delaney saved by accident or by design? Was it a freak occurrence or a miracle? Unfortunately, Fracture doesn't provide any satisfactory answers any of these questions, hastily moving beyond the event itself to focus upon the repercussions of Delaney's survival. I had to lower my rating for this novel due in part to this wide-open aspect of the plot- it feels incomplete that we, as the readers, don't know the purpose/intent/reason for Delaney's astonishing survival.
Fracture is a great read. It's affecting without being overwhelmingly emotional. It's dramatic in the best sense of the word, but not full of superficial melodrama. Fracture can even veer into the "creepy" territory with thanks to Troy's. . . overzealous actions, without going overboard. This is an excellent, excellent eye-catching and original debut, one I recommend highly. If you are a reader that enjoys straight realistic fiction, I think this would still be a winner due to the very slight nature of the paranormal aspect. Similarly, paranormal/supernatural novel lovers would enjoy Fracture as well, as it is a great addition to trend of supernatural young-adult novels.
(And a big thanks to Aleeza for catching my egregious misspelling of one of the characters names.)...more
I'm of mixed feelings about this book. I want to "really like" this book and therefore awaRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
3.75 out of 5
I'm of mixed feelings about this book. I want to "really like" this book and therefore award it 4 stars, I do, I swear. But, I just can't do more than that 3.75 when I look back at the novel as a whole and how dissatisfied I was with aspects of it. What sticks out in my mind are both the good and bad. The not-so-good: frequent lulls in the beginning/middle-ish with Allison receiving infodumps training from her sire vampire or her alone and walking forevvver, and the cliched treatment of secondary characters. The good: interesting history leading up to the current post-apocalyptic scenario, a strong, believable female main character, strong fight scenes when they finally appeared, a novel in which vampires are monsters and not something to sigh over and long for. While this obviously wasn't the "YAY"-type start I'd hoped for with this new series, I also had a less-than-enthusiastic start with The Iron King but went on to love the sequels. Here's hoping.
The Immortal Rules certainly has a lot going for it on the surface: it's engaging, fun, appropriately full of horror and death, but I have Issues. My first issue is the whitewashing of the cover- I can't go on without mentioning how irritating and sad this trend is. Allison Sekemoto is Asian, and for everything else about her, a goddamn badass. She should be represented on the cover as such - not this generic, Caucasion-ish woman. Superficiality (or not...) aside.. There's not much that is new here, for all this being a mix of the vampire novel genre and post-apocalyptic/dystopia genre. Allison wrestles with her nature at least as much as her feelings for human love-interest Zeke, but it's been done before. The vampire system here is creative and relatively well-thought out but "humans as cattle required to be bloodbanks" idea? I've also read that idea before (Blood Rights and also The Morganville Vampires series.) Another predictable trend I was sad to see Kagawa use was the instant, useless and baseless "girl-on-girl hatred" side character Ruth exhibits towards Allie simply for being another girl. As a reader, I gather I'm supposed to hate Ruth; she's shrill and prejudiced against Allie and openly vicious <>and stupid for no real reason. However, to do so and dislike her feels like off-sides manipulation. I'm just bone-tired of girls in YA seeing one another as threats for mates boys' attention just for cliched drama. Ruth is needless, useless, cliched and ultimately, just underdeveloped and obvious.
I do have to admit that Julie Kagawa has proven she can definitely write much more than just her faerie novel series - The Immortal Rules is drastically different from The Iron Fey, in tone if not as much in the style. Main character Allison has her own unique and distinct voice, even if like Meghan, this is sole POV novel told from the perspective of a very special young girl. She lives in a dark, harsh world and the author isn't above taking out some characters to enforce just how cruel life (and unlife?) can be there. I also like that Allison frequently is the hero of the situation - both pre and post-vampirism. She helps her friends and herself, not waiting around for Zeke or any other male (or Prince. Sorry, Ash.) It's a nice change, like the use of a nonwhite race for main character. Though this is romantic-love-triangle free (whodathunkit?), there are multiple external pressures levered against Allison for motivation. She's constantly torn between being as "human" as she can with her intrepid band, or becoming what she sees as a true monster. (view spoiler)[ The choice becomes literal at the end of book one in the trilogy and the resulting decision has implications for the rest of the series. (hide spoiler)]
It can't be said that The Immortal Rules is lacking for many things when the ball finally gets rolling: atmosphere, anticipation, action... all there aplenty once Allison leaves the introduction and New Covington. Julie Kagawa is a rare author who can definitely write a tense, crisp fight scene. Though I'm often guilty of giving "Waif Fu" the side-eye, it becomes more understandable when it is a katana-wielding terror of the night. I may have issues and quibbles but I do have to give credit where it is due and the novel ups the ante late in the game, both action and character-wise. The last Part of the book is both the best and the most action-packed - rabid fights, vampire fights, roving biker gangs... Kagawa pulls out all the stops and ends her first Blood of Eden novel with (several) bangs and dead bodies.
So despite the fact that my expectations for this weren't quite met, I had a good time with The Immortal Rules. The good eventually outweighs the negative I took away from reading and I'm cautiously optimistic for the forthcoming sequels. Allison is a compelling narrator and her story obviously goes on, and I will be tuning in to see how the chips fall.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This was a magical experience for me - one that was completely charming but not without depth or darker themes. It's a light and breezy read with an innocent tone for the most part - a (sadly) short-ish book that can easily be completed in a day but be warned; this novel about young love made my bitter old heart grow three sizes when I finished it. Vaclav & Lena is, at the heart of everything, a novel really all about love. Love between friends, lovers, parents - Haley Tanner made sure all types are shown; from the various ups and downs of lives of the two main characters, and through the cast of big-hearted and small-vocabularied Rasia, to the whimsical and adorable young-Vaclav, to the more remote but alluring Lena.
I mainly love this novel based on the strength of the complicated, endearing, realistic and lovable main characters, the eponymous Lena and Vaclav. Yes, there are several issues first brought to light by minds brighter than mine (Vaclav is not a Russian name, the iffy speech patterns, Rasia/her husband Oleg could be viewed as a sad stereotype of Russian emigres) but my overwhelming appreciation and love for these two made the rest worth it. I am not blind to the faults that will surely turn others off completely but for me this was always about the two kids and the rest was just atmosphere or set-pieces. Rasia is the most important secondary character but outside of one crucial act that changes everything, the reader's attention remains wholly on the would-be magician and his beautiful assistant.
Haley Tanner is a good storyteller, especially for a debut novel - I was hooked on this tale from the first chapter. The early sweetness of the beginning chapters really captured the feeling, the hope essential to both Vaclav and Rasia's and their hopes for life in America. The author's gift for descriptive, detailed prose sets all the scenes with atmosphere and feeling. For me, this was a beautiful, emotional and lovely read - a book with a lot of heart and promise. I was vastly impressed with the author and only the quibbles mentioned earlier (why must all ex-pat Russians drop pronouns and articles?) kept this from being perfect. Even so, 5 stars because of how beautiful Tanner's writing often was, and for my immense love for Lena and Vaclac, especially Vaclav. Wonderful.
"Lena is like an egg hitting the floor, she comes apart everywhere."
"Of course they were with each other the whole time. Even when they weren't looking, they never had to check. She was always there; he was always there. Outside her bedroom, somewhere in the darkness, like the moon."
"Vaclav has said goodnight to Lena every night since the night she went away. Out loud. In a whisper. [...] He filled the words with all his love and care and worry for Lena and launched them out to her, and like homing pigeons, he trusted them to find her."
"'What have you been up to?' She smiles; it is so strange to ask him what he has been up to. Like meeting the president and saying, 'Hey, how are you doing?'
'Same, thing,' he says, meaning still magic, still trying to take care of you with my mind, still trying to control events using supernatural powers."
"Lena's real mom, Emily, knew that this was not the truth, but she also knew that Vaclav was not lying. Vaclav knew that he was telling the truth. Lena knew that it was a lie, but she loved it and believed it, like a fairy tale, like a song, like a bedtime story, like a magic trick. She loved Vaclav until it became the truth and so it was."
I did it: I finished this loooooong, dry book full of flat characters, endless repetition and tons of oRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I did it: I finished this loooooong, dry book full of flat characters, endless repetition and tons of of the hated "showing not telling" way of expanding the history. Though my experience with round two of this "straynge band of mysfits" was sliiiightly better than with its predecessor The Girl in the Steel Corset, I want to express this loudly and clearly: This series is not a good example of steampunk. Also, why I am just griping: whyyy the random, painful bastardization of "strange band of misfits"? (SPOILER for first in the series) If you've read book one, you know that "Jayne" is not in fact Finley's surname, nor does she go by it at all during this novel... So enough with the strange application of "y"'s. A lot of my issues from the first are present oce again here: Finley herself continued to be a bit of a disappointment and an erratic and brainless main character, continuing my lack of enthusiasm for her, most of the background characters remain flat and one-dimensional, and the villain/twist is telegraphed very early on in the book. This review might get a little long and spoilery, or even a lot, so keep your eyes elsewhere unless that's what you want.
Things I Am Vastly Tired Of Reading About In The Steampunk Chronicles:
Emily's "ropey" hair (what does that even mean? Dreadlocks? Braids?)
any kind of overwrought love triangle (Jasper-Mei-Emily or Jasper-Mei-Wildcat - either/or - no, thank you)
Sam surliness/moodiness (less of an obvious page-to-page problem than in book one, but still not redeemable)
How Finley's drawn to the darker side of life (it's been two books, countless examples [Felix, Jack, fights, Dalton] and something like 800+ pages - we get it already!)
Finley's worries about being worthy for a Duke (I'm pretty sure the boy that can be ~one~ with the Aether doesn't care about society, given that he already lives unsupervised with two young women of not exactly sterling repuation)
Griffin's "I-trust-you-now-I-don't" wishywashy bullshit with Finley + worrying over whether he is exciting enough for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ian girl he loves likes (Have some self-respect, dude.)
Anything involving the word Organites (including Darwin and this books misuse of his theories on evolution)
I think some of the problem with this series is that it wants to be X-Men but with a steampunk background. On the surface it seems to sort-of/maybe fit the mold cast by Charles Xavier and his motley crew: there are a bunch of mutated kids with special abilities like super strength and speed and healing, the ability to talk to machines, dual natures, etc. that all live together in a big mansion, owned by a family with a lot of money. But such a comparison starts to fall apart upon closer inspection - most aspects of this historical steampunk young-adult novel are rather run-of-the-mill and cliched, easy to find in slightly different forms all over the paranormal teen novel market.
Though this takes place merely a fortnight after the events of the first book, a lot of the superficial details have changed, including the cast of characters. At first I was, well, not really excited, but less apprehensive to start this based on the cover. For one - it's not a generic, whitewashed cover. Mei is an important part of the plot - in fact the whole book falls apart without her participation - and I'm really happy that an Asian young woman was selected to show and advertise for ya novel. But there's always a but, and here is no exception. Mei is a new character and her race makes her stand out in this largely English cast, but I'm bothered and disappointed that the author chose to name her "Mei Xing." As in the word "Amazing" - how awkward and shallow of a choice! But that was just the first of many character issues I found here. I also wish there had been more subtlety with her role in the plot (subtlety from the woman who named her main male character/love interest Griffin King? My bad) - while I wasn't sure at first, it's rapidly apparent what's going on. A lot little more authorial sleight of hand would make the unraveling of the plot and characters much more engrossing to read.
Main character Finley has been a problem from me since early on in the first chapter of The Girl in the Steel Corset and sadly, she is no better here in round two. Her previous problem of acting brainlessly and without thought for repercussion shows up early and often but good ol' Fin now drags her friend Emily into her messes. I know that the big 'deal' with Finley is constantly-battling dual nature, but the author's depiction of her lead's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-type tendencies is really over the top here. She's supposed to dance on the fence of morality and legality, but considering backhanding another girl for a look? That's extreme and just makes Finley look like a judgmental and unhinged maniac - not a fiercely protective and loving friend, which is I think what the author was trying to impart? I may have missed the finer point of it because Finley was devolving into an autocratic violence machine.
Once again I felt there was a superfluous amount of POVs used here - just like I thought for the first book; Finley's alone would be sufficient if grating on my nerves. So much of the text feels like repetition - even if it's Finley, or Jasper or Griff, they all think along the same lines. I mean, Jasper explains and re-explains his plans to hide a device multiple times. It gets old, quick. It must be said that Jasper's voice is the most identifiable, but that's largely because of his affected and annoying accent. (Also? Being from San Francisco and wearing a ten-gallon hat does not make one a cowboy. OK?) The lack of Jack Dandy is lamentable, but at least the love triangle tension and drama was slightly scaled down as well. The charming but fake Cockney crime lord is one of my few liked characters, even if Griff is slowly climbing his way up in my estimations to give him a run.
In the end, I'd have to say that The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is ultimately just as energy-sapping and time-consuming as its immediate predecessor. It's also just as frustrating to slough through for over 400 pages. It feels amateurish, characters haven't grown or evolved, there's too much focus on fripperies instead of potential awesomeness, and infodumps and love triangles run rampant. There seems to be some love-connection type resolution for Finley and Griff (until she gets back to London and Jack...) as well as the main storyline. With a rushed ending that was over veeery quickly, I can't say I'm sad to say "goodbye!" to this series - for forever - even if there's a book three. ...more
I went into this novel perhaps expecting a bit too much. I think I might have fallen in love with the gorgeous cover, and was waiting for a tour-de-foI went into this novel perhaps expecting a bit too much. I think I might have fallen in love with the gorgeous cover, and was waiting for a tour-de-force to knock me off my feet. The beginning introduction, an in media res glimpse at the world/monsters of the novel seemed to reinforce my notion: it was a genuinely creepy and intriguing way to introduce the reader to this world. Sadly, my hopes remained unfounded for the most part of the story, I will say I enjoyed this novel and had fun while reading it - I just never fell in love with it, nor the characters, nor the plot. Juliet Dark, an alias of the well-known author Carol Goodman, does a fine job of nearly all the elements in her premier foray into the supernatural/urban fantasy genre: I just never loved the story the way I wanted to. Set in Fairwick, New York, The Demon Lover is a first-person novel, told in the steady voice of associate professor twenty-six year old Cailleach "Callie" McFay (first quibble: "McFay"? Really? Obvious, much?) In Fairwick, as Callie quickly learns, the fae/faerie/brownies/vampires/incubi she believed to be entirely myth and legend are revealed as living, breathing, and often malicious beings.