Unpopular opinion alert: I thought this was a weaker, bloated sequel to The Immortal Rules. Most friends are oohing and aahing and I am over here withUnpopular opinion alert: I thought this was a weaker, bloated sequel to The Immortal Rules. Most friends are oohing and aahing and I am over here with the "meh" sign.
The actual book is going to be 450 pages, and my ARC only has 350 and yet that felt waaaay too long and drawn out. It wasn't horrible, it wasn't great, but it definitely didn't live up to expectations.
I liked this way more than anticipated. Both Edie and this book won't be for everyone, but for me, it was all that Premediated failed to be and more.I liked this way more than anticipated. Both Edie and this book won't be for everyone, but for me, it was all that Premediated failed to be and more. Creepy, different, subversive. More, please....more
4.5 out of 5 stars. I loved this! It was unexpectedly charming and clever and just plain fun even when (eRead This Review And More Like It On My Blog!
4.5 out of 5 stars. I loved this! It was unexpectedly charming and clever and just plain fun even when (especially?) at its most twisted. Kill Me Softly is a wholly engrossing and enjoyable read. This is one of those surprising books that went above and beyond my expectations; in fact, I passed this over a couple times on NetGalley because it seemed so been there, done that at first glance and I've been trying to control the amount of requests I make there. Then, pretty much the next week reviews on GoodReads started popping up - 4 stars, 4.5 stars, 5 stars - and who am I to fight the tide? I learned my lesson around December when the same sort of thing started happening with another book that I initially dismissed and which ended up becoming immensely popular (coughAngelfallcough). So with this I didn't hesitate; the day of reading those reviews, I downloaded and began my journey to Beau Rivage, Sarah Cross's imagination and quite possibly some of my favorite fairy tale retellings ever in Kill Me Softly.
To put it the most succinctly, Kill Me Softly is charming, clever and just plain fun. There's a lot to enjoy from this book - a fairly feisty heroine, a unique angle on fairytales in a modern-day scenario, and the clever allusions and asides to popular tales we know and love. I have to admit, the darker and more unsettling this novel became, the more and more I loved it. Kill Me Softly is most definitely at its best when it takes an unexpected, usually foreboding, turn, or reveals a truth very cleverly hidden behind the author's sleight of hand. Sarah Cross is quite adept, more than adept really, at setting the perfect scene and atmosphere for her cursed characters to populate and on occasion, I was really struck by the imagery in her words. I don't want to get spoilery since there's secrets and curses and mysteries aplenty to uncover and figure out, so I will just say that Sarah Cross finds a way to make both a love triangle between brothers and extreme instalove palatable.
Another aspect of this that I greatly appreciated was the author's tendency to show her fairy-tale world within a world and its rules, and instead let them evolve naturally rather than line them all out in an introductory info-dump. Sure, for a while the curses and Blue don't make a lot of sense, but given time and attention, the details emerge. Kill Me Softly is a very readable and quickly engrossing book - the kind you pick up for a chapter and somehow emerge 97 pages and several very interesting plot-twists later. There are double meanings and hints staring out at you from the page that slowly click and make a bigger picture - several times I wanted to hit my forehead and say "duh! Of course..." The author excels at providing the reader with clues and hints but not spelling out the answers desired. I won't go so far to say Kill Me Softly is perfect, but it is damn near close, and only a few slight quibbles keep it from making it to my best-of-2012 shelves.
I found the final (? temporary?) conflict with the main antagonist left me feeling rather underwhelmed. It takes Mira so long to clue in and then it's kind of... over in a flash and without much depth. There are sequels/companion novels confirmed to be written so I am sure the villain will reappear along the line but I wish the entire plotline of Kill Me Softly had been resolved in one novel. I vehemently support the idea of a sequel for another character from the fascinating world of Beau Rivage; I wouldn't be nearly as enthused for a return to Mira's plotline from the first/launching point of the series. ...more
I really liked this, but there was definite room for improvement. The supernatural? aspect felt weird and unnecessary, some of the characters were3.5
I really liked this, but there was definite room for improvement. The supernatural? aspect felt weird and unnecessary, some of the characters were exceedingly one-dimensional. That aside, this book is pretty darn fun and very readable....more
Welcome to a London come alive with voice-eating spiders, mirror-dwelling aristocrats, and talking lighRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Welcome to a London come alive with voice-eating spiders, mirror-dwelling aristocrats, and talking lights that literally dance upon the streets. A London where Gods and Goddesses walk the roads unnoticed by the normal human population, and fight one another for preeminence and control over their decaying world. Welcome to Tom Pollock's The City's Son, a novel that redefines both the 'urban' and 'fantasy' in the urban fantasy genre; a novel that brings a whole new meaning to the idea of place-as-character. Though the beginning can be hard to understand and uneven, the reward is outstanding. A fast-paced and action-packed novel packed to the brim with unique, strange, and thoroughly charismatic characters, the first novel in the Skyscraper Throne series is a whole lot of win.
Beautifully written and extensively detailed, there is no area of London that Pollock has not re-envisioned and changed -- for the stranger. Through the eyes of the two main characters - human Beth and Son of the Streets Filius Viae, Pollock takes the reader on a thoroughly original and weird (the kind of weird I tend to expect from China Mieville) journey to self-realization, personal power, and more. Though I am not usually a fan of POV shifts from third-person limited to first person during narrator changes, it works here for Beth and the Urchin Prince. Beth is outside the city; Fil is literally part of it and how they spin their inner monologues help to illustrate that point. Both characters have their individual strengths and weaknesses, but it is the feisty, charismatic, damaged, and fully concrete character of Beth that is the strength of this novel.
The characters here are on par with the talent and time spent setting the scene and creating the original plot. Beth is a wholly rounded and concrete girl. She's realistically flawed, even in a book that suspends disbelief so well. She is feisty, and smart, and loyal, if not always right in her judgements. I have a lot of respect for Beth and the character evolution she goes through during this long but easily read novel. Filius is likeable if unknowable - he's as unique a character as this version of London. Part street rat, part teenage boy, and all heart - the relationship between the two matures organically and best of all, slowly. If I have one issue, I had hoped that Parva's storyline with the teacher would've had a more firm resolution, but she stands strong as a secondary character with motivations and aspirations all her own.
There is just so much creativity and imagination at work in The City's Son, and it can be a lot to take in, especially initially. The author drops the reader into his darkly, dirtily magical world without exposition or infodump.The sheer scope of the world that Pollock has created for his characters to operate in is expansive and all encompassing, from the made-of-trash Gutterglass who operates as a seneschal for the missing Lady of the Streets, to the war between the Sodiumite glass girls and the Blankleit clans, to the train battles between Bahngeists. Like I said, this is an author that brings the city of London to life - literally - it's place as character on a whole new level.
I loved this novel. Though it is one of the longer books I've read lately, it holds up admirably under the weight of all those pages, and plots, and schemes. With an imagination as big as London itself, Tom Pollock renders a finely-tuned and thoroughly evocative novel aimed for readers of all ages. Fans of urban fantasy should take note and give this weirdly awesome and awesomely weird novel a chance. You won't regret giving The City's Son a chance. I eagerly await he second novel, The Glass Republic -- it definitely can't come out soon enough....more
Every Day is another remarkable novel from a very talented and thankfully prolific author.Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
4.25 out of 5
Every Day is another remarkable novel from a very talented and thankfully prolific author. Just when I start to feel again that YA sticks to and retreads the same trends, ideas, themes, constantly, Mr. Levithan publishes such a starkly original and thoroughly readable novel. Unlike anything else I've read (though I can see slight shades of both The Time Traveler's Wife and Quantum Leap in components of Every Day), this is a thought-provoking and emotional novel that stands firmly on its own two feet. Levithan has proved himself as more than capable of creating unique scenarios, coupled with compelling characters, along with completely original plots and themes, and he is at his best here with this latest, engrossing novel. While Every Day may not be perfect - the ending and a few other issues I had preclude me from anything higher than that 4.25 - I absolutely loved reading this novel every chance I got to sit down and devour it.
This is a novel that made me feel, that made me really think about life, love, and relationships. Those kinds of books are rare -especially in a genre that, unfortunately, tends to romanticize alpha males and submissive female characters - and I appreciate Every Day all the more for its fresh take on love, gender, religion, and even society. It is centered more on love and a relationship than anything else - A's drive to see Rhiannon and make it work drives the narrative - but it's not cloying or saccharine. I didn't read his instant connection with her as instalove - more as a desperate need to connect with somebody, anybody, who might be able to accept him as he was.While the social commentary aspect is prevalent throughout the short-ish 336 page length, it can come across as occasionally heavy-handed (and is one of the very few reasons this book is not a 5-star read for me). But, happily, for the most part it's meshed within the overall plot quite well and with aplomb. A may not be perfect and occasionally judgmental and preachy, and his/her views are certainly their own, but this starkly original journey through grief, first love, loneliness is one that will resonate with many, many readers.
Once again, Levithan exhibits the same talents I have come to expect and treasure from such an able writer. No one else can write like he can. If I could, I would quote from nearly every chapter in this touching novel. Levithan is that good. Every Day is alternatively bittersweet, creepy, aching, interesting, and compelling. For once, this is a book where the execution of the book itself matches the high level of the idea behind the plot. With Levithan's beautiful, thoroughly readable way with words leading the way, the novel's wandering through philosophical questions about life, identity, human nature are explored maturely and with appropriate emotion. Under a different hand, Every Day could have easily been an overwrought, melodramatic angsty mess, but it never is. What it is, is a wholly genuine and wonderful book that explores so many of the prevalent issues that kids of this age have to deal with.
Every Day is a book about possibilities. It's not one for definitive answers or for totally complete resolutions. If you as a reader can suspend your disbelief enough to buy into the premise - a body jumping "person" - then the rest of this lovely novel will be an evocative treat. Give this one a chance - I highly doubt you will be sorry that you did.
"I don't have the heart to tell him that's the wrong way to think about the world. There will always be more questions. Every answer leads to more questions. The only way to survive is to let some of them go."
"If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn't care about us. Time doesn't care about us. That's why we have to care about each other."
Three stars because I am kind and merciful on Superbowl Sunday. There are some good aspects to this, but the execution left a lot to be desired, bothThree stars because I am kind and merciful on Superbowl Sunday. There are some good aspects to this, but the execution left a lot to be desired, both in terms of plot and characters.
I loved this book from the start. It is good. No, it's great. It's Gothic and sassy and funRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
4.5 out of 5
I loved this book from the start. It is good. No, it's great. It's Gothic and sassy and funny and clever and thisclose to being perfect. I love it to pieces. I stayed up til nearly one in the morning to finish it, on a night where I had to get up at 4 the next morning. If that isn't a clear enough picture of how thoroughly entertaining and engrossing this gem of a book is, I don't know what to tell you. A surefire winner. Unspoken is unique, it's fun, it's populated with amazingly real, fleshed out characters operating with a strong plot about magic, and secrets, and history. It's a breath of fresh air in a genre that tends to stick to the same ideas and themes and plots. Even when Unspoken does veer into well-tread territory for YA, it ends up being the exception to the rule. The first novel I've ever read from Irish young-adult author Sarah Rees Brennan, it left me eager for more and unwilling to close the cover. The first in a new Gothic and paranormal series, despite a few flaws and missteps, the premier novel in the Lynburn Legacy sets a high bar for any of the other novels to live up to. It can be creepy, genuinely funny, and completely real - all often on the same page. A promising start to begin a new trilogy, I finished this impressed and anxious for more. This was my first Brennan, but it most definitely won't be my last.
It's always a pleasure when an author takes the time to create and develop a character with as much depth and personality as Kami Glass. It's easy to self-identify with can-do and hilarious Kami (even if I recognize I lack her original and hilarious way with words): she's a strong character with wants and desires all her own, she isn't defined by who she likes, but what she does, and she grows and learns as she works her way to the bottom of the twisty mystery and aura around the feared Lynburns. Diversity and wit are another two things sorely lacking in a lot of novels geared towards a young-adult audience, but that is not the case here. Kami's Japanese heritage is important to her, and the slight xenophobia shown towards her in her firmly English village help reinforce her uniqueness. I just loved Kami and reading about her. Even with the third person POV distancing her a bit from the audience, this is a perfect example of a well-written, realistic, concrete character. There were so many quotes from this girl that I either laughed at, or giggled at, or just plain amused me. Kami is one character that will stick out in my memory as wonderfully executed and developed.
Kami isn't the only standout character from Unspoken, amazingly enough. The secondary cast of characters are also distinct and well characterized. Kami's hilarious dad takes the award for second-funniest, but really, from sleepy, world-hating best friend Angela to creepy, remote Rosalind, this is a novel with a strong core of characters that all pop from the page. Even when I didn't like certain characters (Ash, etc.) I could appreciate the variety and originality they brought to the novel. Not just in tune with her friends, I loved the interactions of Kami's family - they aren't set pieces created for Kami to gloss over, but important and meaningful parts of her everyday life. Her mother is especially important to the plot of the novel, and the stumbles in the relationship between protective mom and curious Kami strike a delicate, but compelling, balance. Happily minus a lot of the tropes in YA used to get characters to operate autonomously, there are no Missing Parent Syndrome or abused/ignored/lonely kid ideas here; Brennan is too smart to fall for those overused plot devices.
The plot is strong, the dialogue pitch-perfect, and the mystery well-crafted, but there are certain sections of the novel where the tension seems to flag as the kids uncover more and more clues without any meaningful revelations. I didn't mind overmuch, because when the atmosphere matters, it's done well... and I always enjoyed the side trips and adventures Kami cooked up for her friends to get into. It cannot be denied that Unspoken is an entertaining and engrossing novel. The Lynburn family, once they come into play a bit more, supply a lot of the tension with the unexplained acrimonious interplay between the Lynburn cousins, Ash and Jared. I am most definitely not a fan of the love triangle, but as it is used here, I found it at least palatable. Kami doesn't fall into the trap of instalove - even though she's "known" and maybe loved Jared for years before meeting him, and she doesn't bounce back and forth between the cousins just to foment melodrama instead of plot momentum.
I did have a few problems with Unspoken as I progressed through its nearly 400 page length. Most notably: the end. A lot of reviewers have been disappointed with the way and place Brennan chose to end her story, and I am certainly one of them. It's a hell of a cliffhanger, and though I don't buy Jared's final words and attitude for a minute, Brennan certainly knows how to leave her readers wanting more. The plot extends eaily to book two, but it was an abrupt end to such a slow burn mystery. I also felt that the magic aspect could use some strengthening. What is explained is interesting, but I couldn't get a firm grasp a few parts of the mythology. A little more time and paragraphs to explore those elements would've been appreciated, but there at least will be two more novels to expand on what's been laid down here in the first novel.
From even pacing to creative plot to wonderful, zing-filled dialogue, Unspoken is a book I most definitely will be buying and rereading. Carried by a complex and brave protagonist, coupled with a thoroughly well-done Gothic vibe, there is much more to love about this novel than to lament. I for one, will be counting the months until the arrival in the next book of the series. Brennan has impressed me, and I can't wait to see what she does with the foundation she has laid down. ...more
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I normally try to refrain from all-caps declarations of love (exception: Christian BaRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I normally try to refrain from all-caps declarations of love (exception: Christian Bale), but it is unavoidable and White Cat is worthy of them. This was a quick read but I had so much fun with Cassel that I immediately bought book two, Red Glove, literally right after I finished the final page of this. It's addictive - an all-male POV ya novel that's entirely credible and authentic in its voice, set amid a unique and compelling plotline within a magically-infused world. Fast-moving and nearly unputdownable, this is the book newcomers should try for this author. After starting and DNFing the first Spiderwick novel early last year, I was nowhere close to expecting the level of reaction that White Cat caused within me - this is one that has rocketed up to be among my favorite YA novels of recent years.
Cassel was a strong, unique, male voice with a genuinely compelling and individual tale. This was just... so fun to read; an effortless reading experience as well- the pages flip by without even noticing. I loved the slow reveal of both the history of the 'dab hands' as well as Cassel's own personal evolutionary arc.This isn't a character or a world that you want to leave - both characters and world make an impression and it is a very favorable one. This is a lol-worthy novel, largely due to Cassel himself. He exhibits the trademark teenage self-deprecation and hatred, but unlike most teens, Cassel has the unhappy history to back up his darker emotions. He's quick, and smart but humanly and believably flawed, lonely kid. He uses a complex system of bets on other people's daily lives to feel as if he has some measure of control, as well as to feel like he has a life of his own. Cassel is easily the highpoint of the entire novel, through all his ups, downs, and quotable moments. (“She says that what you did was a cry for help." "It was," I say. "That's why I was yelling 'Heeeelp!' I don't really go in for subtlety.”) If he is occasionally a bit too. . . naiive. . at the expense of pacing and plotting, I'll take that bargain. He's a very relatable and often introspective character for a male teen (“We are, largely, who we remember ourselves to be. That's why habits are so hard to break. If we know ourselves to be liars, we expect not to tell the truth. If we think of ourselves as honest, we try harder.” and “The easiest lies to tell are the ones you want to be true.”) but it works, it genuinely does.
Everything is not perfect here, despite my overwhelming love for the first in the inventive and fun Curse Worker's series - Holly Black is a talented and humorous storyteller, but her expertise doesn't encompass all there is to White Cat. For a novel about con men and deception, several of the twists and turns taken throughout are thoroughly predictable and/or transparent. Not all reveals and outcomes are predicted but some are rather obvious from the get-go. Black takes care to show and not tell with her prose, but her foreshadowing could use some work. This is a novel that isn't full of surprises but one that leads you to a conclusion and then turns that predicted conclusion on its head. It's rather nicely done and impressive on the author's part. I wish that the Mafia families here had more bite and shows of power - I never quite bought the danger of the threat of the Zacharov family, for example. A larger focus on those in charge of the criminal curseworkers would be appreciated.
I was never bored while reading White Cat. On the contrary, I was constantly entertained by this fucked up family dynamic, the first I've seen to really match The Chronicles of Amber in the level of lies, manipulation, outright betrayal and felonies attempted. This is a series made of the winning mix of mafia and magic - intriguing in its conception and execution, filled with complex characters and just plain fun. I read this in early March and I think it will remain one of my favorite novels for the entire year.
First, immediate thoughts upon finishing this quick read of a teenage paranormal novRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
4.25 out of 5 stars
First, immediate thoughts upon finishing this quick read of a teenage paranormal novel:
That was a lot of fun! That was original and wholly compelling, and it managed to be all that and more without a love triangle or a heroine who is too stupid to live! It can be done!
Though Transcendence inevitably hits a few bumps that keep it from being perfect, it was perfectly enjoyable and fully diverting for the few (far too short!) hours it took me to consume all 300+ pages. This was one of those all-too-hard-to-find novels that combined my desire to see how everything ended while contradictorily, not wanting to finish and end the fun. With welcome infusions of ideas and themes from some of the more underutilized mythologies (Egyptian symbols! Reincarnation!), Transcendence is unique, entertaining and compulsively readable experience. This is my first exposure to this author, but I can guarantee that it will not be the last time I read her work. I've added Omololu's YA contemporary novel, Dirty Little Secrets, to my TBR just based off of the many strengths of this novel, despite the extreme difference in the genres of the two novels, as well as initiating a countdown for the inevitable sequel to this one, Fated. I cant believe how unfair it is that I have to wait another entire year, until June of 2013!, to escape back into this exciting story.
First-person POV works really, really well here in Transcendence, for both Omololu's easy style and for the strong, believably teenage voice of Cole, the main character. Cole is a wonderfully realized character: she's smart, flawed, funny and all the more real for the care that evidently went into her development. Plus she admits Harry Potter is her favorite book, so she gets +100 for that alone. Cole is a strong character, one that is self-defined and one that wants to save herself. When she says to Griffon: "Just because I don't want to be the helpless female in his hero movie doesn't mean I want him to go," I cheered for her. Mentally. I totally did not say "hell yeah" out loud. Noo. That would be embarrassing. Anyway. Love isn't dependence, kids. Love isn't someone rescuing you and making your decisions. It is is so nice (but sadly rare) to read a teenage protagonist without that misconception; one that can accept help without being helpless or brainless. It's a fine balance but one that is well-struck here with Transcendence's Nicole. She doesn't depend on or live for a boy: this is talented, well-drawn, full-realized character and her love for music is one of the most defining aspects of her multi-faceted personality. Even just talking about music, it's obvious how much love Cole has for what she does ("My heart races as his bow glides over the strings, an unspoken communication that fills the room, replacing the air with sound and emotion." p. 51 ARC), as well as showing that this isn't a character that is defined by anyone else.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the infinite kudos deserved by this author for the variance of races among her secondary cast. White-washing is a horrid, horrid trendin young-adult book publishing, one that needs to stop. Griffon is an African-American (and is shown on the cover too!), and there are other characters that aren't uniformly Caucasian or European that actually participate in the novel. I wish Gabi had played a bit more into the events of the novel, but an Indian close friend and a black love interest is a lot more diversity than most books ever do. It's obvious early on that is author isn't interested in doing what others are: her vision for her novel is unique and fresh and that's how it reads, from plot to themes to characters themselves. I mean, at just first glance, this book contains: Egyptian mythology, a racially diverse cast, an aware and self-confident protagonist, no instalove, no random girl-on-girl hate, AND no love triangle? It's refreshing and it's over all too soon. Other authors: please take note. I want more of ALL THIS.
The idea of reincarnation is not one I've seen too often in this particular genre, so straight off the bat Omololu gets major points for her originality. YA paranormals tend to stick more toward the vampires, werewolves and ghosts of the supernatural spectrum; the only other novel I can recall that focuses on immortality without those genre staples was Avery Williams's short but fun The Alchemy of Forever. Both Alchemy and Transcendence use their originality and fresh perspectives to their favor; this never has the echoes of "been there, done that" storylines that so many other YA novels often do contain. I mean, really: how long can we read about the ordinary, beautiful-but-unaware of it mortal girl in the thrall of a vampire? Using such a fresh concept like essence transition really does make Transcendence stand out. Omololu isn't afraid to face the questions at the core of her characters' soul transmigrations - when one can remember lives upon lives for hundreds of years, what do you take with you to each new experience? Love? Guilt? Intelligence? Responsibility? Revenge? How can you justify a romantic relationship between someone who's aware of his hundreds of years of life and someone who only has 17 to recall? It certainly feels a little squicky at the outset, but all is not as it seems. And, CJ Omololu actually takes the time to explore and answer these questions, all nearly to satisfaction.
As for the romance, I admit I was veeery hesitant and wary of where that could go with Cole and her love interest, Griffon. Clearly with the theme of reincarnation, a lot of writers would go for the star-crossed instalove connection. It almost begs for it with a set up like a time-slip novel - a love out of time is a romantic idea and one that understandably holds appeal to a variety of audiences. However, Omololu doesn't go that route, skipping immediately down Romance Avenue and happily-ever-afters. Wonder of wonders, this is an author that takes time, care and detail into crafting a real, believable connection between the two "teens", one that is not wholly based on who they were before, but on who they are now in the present. Their romance is sweet, frustrating and above all - credible. No instalove here just a relationship that slowly blooms into a natural and endearing partnership. Love in all its forms is shown throughout the novel, actually, and this is one of the few YAs that takes the time and effort to feature a functional, if not traditional, family life. The mom may be the most one-dimensional character of the whole novel (and brought back unfavorable echoes of Diana in Virtuosity) but even she grows and changes a bit over the book.
I enjoyed a lot about this, but it is not without faults. The plot can be weak in certain sections of the novel, some twists and turns of the plot feel and can come across as very contrived, and one of my least favorite plot devices, the "I have a super-sekrit, dangerous plan I can tell NO ONE about" comes out to play late in the course of the book. I wish the plot had a been a bit stronger, but my enjoyment of the characters, the mythology, and Cole's inner monologue keep the deficit from being a glaring issue. These are minor complaints in the shadow of all the AWESOME that is in play for this book - they detract but a little, and I still feel all fangirly about Transcendence. With several big twists I really did NOT see coming and more late-in-the-game open-ended questions than answers, Transcendence leaves the door wide open for its sequel without sacrificing satisfaction for the readers and fans of the first.
Though Fated is more than a year away (nooo) and I can see the love-triangle brewing with a vengeance (nooo!), I can't wait to get back to this uniquely paranormal series, and these delightful, rounded characters. If you're looking for an engrossing, easily readable YA with lots of action and a hint of mystery, look no further....more