There's a lot to like about this - the world, the culture, the various aspects of magic - but there is also a lot that bothered me as I r...more3.75 out of 5
There's a lot to like about this - the world, the culture, the various aspects of magic - but there is also a lot that bothered me as I read. The characters are a mixed bag: some are wonderfully complex, and others had me considering renaming the Mary Sue trope after them specifically (credit: Lyn for the Karah Sue crack).
On the whole, this was far from what I had anticipated but I would, and plan to and may have already bought another YA fantasy from Neumeier. Not perfect, but still fun, House of Shadows was a worthwhile introduction to this author.
That was really amusing, quite sweet, and a fast read. Well worth a day's read. I'm pretty impressed with Sarah Strohmeyer and will be keeping an eye...moreThat was really amusing, quite sweet, and a fast read. Well worth a day's read. I'm pretty impressed with Sarah Strohmeyer and will be keeping an eye out for more contemporary YA from her. (less)
God, I love this series and this character. I'm not usually one to rate a 30-page novella more than thr...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
God, I love this series and this character. I'm not usually one to rate a 30-page novella more than three stars, but when it's India Black, with her trademark hilarious wit and sarcasm, how could I not? She's a smart, adventurous, crafty woman and her exploits are never dull. What the ebook lacks in overall page length, it more than makes up for in sheer entertainment. I always have fun with this character, and while there was no French to enjoy this go round, I can always reread the the longer novels while I anticipate the third, due out soon (February 5, 2013!).
Carol K. Carr made a huge fan out of me with her first two, full-length novels about this unique Madame of Lotus House. India Black and the Rajah's Ruby is a short ebook special that explains just how India graduated from bint to madame of her own establishment. It's not much of a novel, but it still manages to carry India's distinct voice and humor ("..I speak the truth. I usually do, unless there's a good reason not to."), as well as twist ending to amuse readers. Fans who ate up the longer books, and even those who have not had the experience of reading the late-chronologically but earlier-published works, will do well to pay the $2.99 for a sneak peak into what made India into the formidable madame she is.
New characters, old habits, smart women and a giant ruby make for a very fast read. India Black and the Rajah's Ruby is a well-designed teaser to whet appetites for Carr's third novel featuring London's most curious madame. Short, simple, and highly enjoyable, all I can do now is sit and wait impatiently for India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy.(less)
Impressive, if chaotic at the end. I love the idea of the novel, as well has how it was executed -- for the most part. I could've done wi...more4.25 out of 5
Impressive, if chaotic at the end. I love the idea of the novel, as well has how it was executed -- for the most part. I could've done with about half the boy-angst, which is why this is a four-star instead of a five. These are two authors who work extraordinarily well together and complement one another in almost every aspect of the novel. Impressive, emotional, well-written, Lucid is more than a good book. It's great.(less)
This started a bit sloe for me, and I was never as involved or engaged as I would have liked, but it was an interesting, fresh take on Lincoln's assas...moreThis started a bit sloe for me, and I was never as involved or engaged as I would have liked, but it was an interesting, fresh take on Lincoln's assassination. Review to come.(less)
This was a frustrating read - two hundred pages of boredom and cliches, and then for a while, it was much better, only to revert back to insanity for...moreThis was a frustrating read - two hundred pages of boredom and cliches, and then for a while, it was much better, only to revert back to insanity for the last pages. I just... don't even know.
Nice, easy, quick, jaunt into Jared's life before heading to England. Just long enough to carry a plot of its own, but short enough to finish in twent...moreNice, easy, quick, jaunt into Jared's life before heading to England. Just long enough to carry a plot of its own, but short enough to finish in twenty minutes, The Spring Before I Met You will temporarily sate fans of Unspoken eager for more.(less)
3 stars? 3.5? 3.75? I CAN'T DECIDE. I was always entertained; I was invested in the characters and plot......but there were numerous issues. I'll figu...more3 stars? 3.5? 3.75? I CAN'T DECIDE. I was always entertained; I was invested in the characters and plot......but there were numerous issues. I'll figure it out later, but I am glad I read this. Fun, creative and light reading at its best.
Released in the centennial year for the publication of Tarzan of the Apes...moreWant to win a copy of Jane?! Head over to my blog to enter (US/Canada only)!
Released in the centennial year for the publication of Tarzan of the Apes original publication and endorsed by Edgar Rice Burroughs' estate, Jane is an involving, detailed, engrossing, and yet, original retelling of a well-loved and widely known story. Robin Maxwell is my first exposure to actually reading the mythos of the Tarzan world (watching the 1999 Disney animated movie clearly does not count), and her updated version, while clearly paying homage to the source material, is indelibly her own. Jane is a novel rife with adventure, credible characters, excitement, betrayals, and revelations. An engaging read from the get-go, the spotlight on protagonist and narrator Jane makes for a fast but highly enjoyable read for those all too-short 320 pages. I had planned to read Burroughs' original version, but now I wonder if that one will hold up as well in my opinion as what Maxwell has recreated here.
As the title character and first-person narrator for the eponymous novel, Jane will either make or break this novel for readers. I, for one, unabashedly loved her. Her voice is strong and clear; I identified with and rooted for this intelligent and unique woman as she grapples with society's unforgiving attitudes, as she grows and learns about herself, Africa, and what she wants from her life. I loved Jane's strident attitudes, her analytical approach to any and all situations, her unflinching convictions and stalwart self-esteem. She's an unconventional woman for her time but not so much as to be entirely anachronistic for the era and setting the novel takes place during. She may eventually want a man, but unlike her society peers, she definitely doesn't need one. While her views and opinions can approach the unrealistic, the sincere motivations at the heart of Jane's actions ring true and keep her character from sticking out as improbable. An aspiring paleoanthropologist, the beginning flashbacks illustrate clearly how committed and devoted Jane is to her field and establish a more than credible reason for her journey to Africa and the events that transpire there.
The growing dynamic between Tarzan and his more "civilized" mate evolves maturely and with aplomb under less than ideal circumstances. Tarzan himself is a bit romanticized (both by Burroughs and by Maxwell here) - and the romance between him and Jane does provide a lot of internal debate for the title character - but he is realistic and engaging in his distant role. His relationship with Jane is complicated and hard-won, but it is a real partnership of equals, unlike what she could have expected back in her "civilized" home country. Theirs is a true give and take - each teaches the other essential skills for living in their respective worlds. Their interactions are a bit simpler and overcome more easily than I had expected (the language barrier most noticeably) but it doesn't jar too much. Under Maxwell's able hand as storyteller, the bits and pieces of Tarzan's tragic history and life are teased out into the more action packed events evenly and keep the sentimentality on par with the action and excitement of life as The Wild Ape Man.
The vibrant setting of Africa is one of the very best aspects of the novel. The place-as-character is superb here. It's really topnotch - from the port town of Libreville to the boat trip down the Mbele Ogowe River to the Great Bower, every scene and setting pops from the page with a burst of color. As one character so aptly said to Jane early on: "You do not live in Africa, my dear. Africa lives in you." Under Robin Maxwell's pen and talent, I certainly felt like I was seeing the jungles, forests, villages myself. This is a creative author with an obvious ability to set and describe a scene; her talent for place as character is one of the more prominent things I will take away from reading Jane. I haven't read many other historical novels set on this particular continent, but upon, reluctantly, concluding this one, I can't imagine I will wait long to search out another. Maxwell touches upon so many issues of that plagued continent - colonization by European powers, the deforestation of jungles for trade routes, King Leopold of Belgium's genocide of 10 million natives - that some areas do feel slightly shortchanged, but all serve to create an even bigger, more authentic view of Africa and its problems.
This is a book that started out good, one that easily progressed past my initial lukewarm feelings due a bit of an infodump and into "great" territory, and one that ends with a bang (and a hint at a possibility for more down the line?!). A clear departure both from its source material and the sanitized Disney version, Jane is no wilting violet but a strong protagonist with great depth and characterization, more than able to carry the weight of the novel on her own. A great read and reinvention of one of the most beloved stories, Jane is a credit to both Edgar Rice Burroughs' original tale and to Robin Maxwell's immense individual talent. With characters crafted so well, with vibrant settings and a plot that moves at a brisk and involving pace, this is a novel retelling that will stand out and stand the test of time equally well. Highly recommended and highly enjoyable -- those on the lookout for a new era/setting in historical fiction need look no further than Jane.(less)
That was a creepy, awesome, often quite funny, read. I would say I am surprised but I've talked to Karina before (and in all honesty, she sent me a co...moreThat was a creepy, awesome, often quite funny, read. I would say I am surprised but I've talked to Karina before (and in all honesty, she sent me a copy to read) and I know she is made of awesome and win. It's heartening to see that her talent backs up my impression of her. The Devil's Metal is an original, diverting, winner. Well done and I can't wait to see where the author takes this new series? duology? from here.
This is a review for the third and final novel in the series about Twelve Dancing Princesses, but what...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
This is a review for the third and final novel in the series about Twelve Dancing Princesses, but what I say here about Princess of the Silver Woods holds true for all of the books. I so wanted to love these - I had heard great things and excitedly requested this as an ARC, even without reading the first two. Sadly, I was confused, bored, uninvolved from the very start, so I DNF'd 50 pages in. A week or so later, the first two went on sale for ebooks for less than $2 each. I thought I would give it another try - this time with the benefit of reading the series in order. I read the first two... and it wasn't pretty. They aren't the worst books I've ever read, but I am hard-pressed to remember a series as lackluster and unengaging as this was for me.
Each novel tackles a different fairytale, and occasionally Day George would create a new twist or idea that worked well for her books. I liked the spin on Red Riding Hood meets Robin Hood, but it's hard to recall a lot about these novels. What didn't work well, ever, were her characters. Galen, Rose, Poppy, Christian, and here in book three, Petunia and Oliver all come across as wooden and flat for the duration. Their actions are contrived, their dialogue laughable or vague, their magic and abilities too convenient or too unexplained.I wanted to like them, but their trials, tribulations and eventual coupledom were all too expected and very predictable.
Also working against the books is the worldbuilding. Or rather, the lack of any substantial effort to create a real, vibrant setting for these characters to operate upon. The thinly veiled countries that represent a more magical Europe (Breton = Britain, Spania = Spain, Russaka = Russia, so on and so forth) left a lot to be desired in terms of backdrop. It's all too simple and easy across the board - the relationships, the magic, the world itself. I wanted more from Jessica Day George, and what is provided leaves a lot to be desired.At several points in each novel, I would think that these books and characters came across as much more MG than YA in tone and characterization.
This series is too simple and predictable to be memorable. I read all three in a four day span, and I doubt I will remember anything about any of them in a week's time. All in all: third verse, same as the first. Too simple, too easy, too predictable, too short to pack a punch. The magic is too vague, or too silly (the whole knitting aspect just makes me laugh, every time), and once again, none of the characters really stood out as remarkable, or even really three-dimensional. This series is just not for me, though I can see why others are drawn to it and enjoy it. (less)
Two stars? Two and a half? Maybe three? I don't even know. There were some quite inventive parts (The Affliction, the various creative uses of steampu...moreTwo stars? Two and a half? Maybe three? I don't even know. There were some quite inventive parts (The Affliction, the various creative uses of steampunk), and a few engaging characters (WiniFred, Ellie, Pimm), but so much of this was flat, dry, or just uninvolving. The aspects of The Constantine Affliction that I liked, I really liked, but the bad was so. damn. bad. I don't even know. I'm just glad to be done.
I admit it. I'm a Shannara fan, for all its blatant borrowing from The Lord of the Rings, for all its c...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I admit it. I'm a Shannara fan, for all its blatant borrowing from The Lord of the Rings, for all its cliched and predictable plotlines, I can usually find a lot to enjoy in Terry Brook's fertile imagination. I've read more than my far share of the Shannara series in all its spin-offs and sideways travels, and though it's far from great literature, or even great fantasy, this short ebook reminds me of why I had such fondness for this author, and this widepsread world he has so lovingly created.
Though obviously this falls far short from my all-time Shannara favorites (those would be The Elfstones of Shannara [I was actually scared by one of the 'demon' antagonists in this - the Changeling - so much so I had to stop reading it at night haha], the Wishsong of Shannara [Garet Jax is and forever will be one of the most badass fantasy characters] and the Elf-Queen of Shannara [Garth!]), this forty-page journey with series staple Allanon is short, simple, and easy to digest. More of a bite-size snack rather than a full meal, but still Paladins of Shannara manages to bring back the full Shannara nostalgia. Fans of the series and books before will eat it up -- and appreciate the sneak peek into the next in this farspread, always expanding series, Wards of Faerie -- but, it's not the best place to start reading for any reader not familiar with the well-worn tales that Brooks has published. It's heavy on the history and mythology we all know so well from The Sword of Shannara on, with a lot of explanation and exposition to remind readers of what has come before, but is later in the chronology.
Though a bit thin on plot and filled with repetition, this is a diverting and engaging read for fans of Terry Brooks and his beloved, familiar characters. Anyone ever curious about how Gandalf Allanon was sent on the path to find Shea Ohmsford and stop the Warlock Lord for good will find just that in this quickly read and enjoyed novella. And now I want to go reread all my old favorites and prep myself for the release of the next book in this long-running series. While the novels can be a bit formulaic in their plots, it's the characters (Morgan Leah, Quentin Leah, Wren, Garet Jax, Garth, Eventine Elessedil) that I remember most and keep me coming back for more. (less)
I love this book wholeheartedly. Kate Morton rocketed to my absolute favorite author list last year on...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I love this book wholeheartedly. Kate Morton rocketed to my absolute favorite author list last year on the strength of The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden, but this latest novel absolutely cements and guarantees her continued place there. The Secret Keeper blew my mind. Honestly, it might even rival The Distant Hours for my all-time favorite Kate Morton and mystery novel. It's just that good great; it's more of what Kate Morton does so very very well. All the time taken and careful preparations of the plot, scene, characters clearly show, and add up to make this novel a compulsive read filled with vibrant and flawed characters. I wanted to stretch out my reading experience - it's one of those few times when 480 pages seems like too little for a novel rather than a good size. For all my restraint and desire to keep this going as long as possible, I inhaled this novel in 14 hours - eight of which I was sleeping. An impressive fourth novel from a very talented author, fans and newcomers alike will eat The Secret Keeper up.
When I first started this, I was sure I was going to like it, but it didn't immediately grab me the way her first two novels had. I was curious, and intrigued where the multiple plotlines across various periods of time would eventually go, but it wasn't until about 100 pages in that I was truly gripped and aware that I was reading something truly special. The tension slowly builds as main character Laurel uncovers more and more about her mother's life before children and marriage, evoking both intensity and curiosity as her revelations show a very different woman than the mother she had known her whole life. The shifting perspectives of various characters (Laurel, her mother Dorothy, and a woman named Vivien) from 1941 to 1961 to 2011 allow for a wide view of the plot across the many eras that impact the story. The merging of the different plotlines and timeliness works so well under this author's capable hands. I did not want to put this down to eat, to sleep, or anything. It's hard to write this review because the reveal and payout are so rewarding, and I don't want go give anything - ANYTHING - away that might spoil the deft authorial sleight of hand that Morton has going.
I had high hopes going into reading The Secret Keeper, and if anything, this book exceeded any and all expectations I had for it. Morton's obvious and immense talent for prose, for setting, and for crafting such realistic, concrete characters to operate upon the page - alive in all their wishes, hopes, pasts, flaws, and mistakes - marks her as one of the best authors I have ever had the pleasure to read. With twists and turns and huge reveals that I never predicted and never once came off as hackneyed, this is an author that continually proves she knows how to write a story, as well as a truly mystifying mystery. An impressive storyteller with talent across the board including an-all-too-rare talent for subtlety and foreshadowing, her latest novel is heavy on detail, inner observations, and contemplation, but is never slow or boring. Themes of unexpected consequences, and desire are explored with caution and care, further adding to the complicated plot of the novel. With one of the top three best endings I've ever had the surprise of reading, The Secret Keeper is thoroughly satisfying and totally unpredictable.
Kate Morton is amazing. I am a huge fan, and I won't let too much time go before I dig into the only novel of hers I've yet to read - The House at Riverton. Her style is uniquely her own, and her ability to create such detailed, well-characterized novels truly sets her above most other authors. Nuanced, emotionally involving, original, and completely wonderful, The Secret Keeper further proves that my fangirling extreme love for Kate Morton's novels is more than founded - it's necessary. I haven't had such a strong reaction to a novel in far too long; I cared intensely about the characters, I was caught up in every timeline shown. This is an author who will be a favorite for a long, long time. I can only hope that a fifth novel is on the horizon for this immensely talented writer. (less)
Flat, with a cast of unengaging and thoroughly unlikeable characters (except Xander!), that offers little real resolution offered for any of the on...more2.5
Flat, with a cast of unengaging and thoroughly unlikeable characters (except Xander!), that offers little real resolution offered for any of the ongoing issues. All You Never Wanted tries to do too much with its short span of pages, and the result is a book that feel short-changed from character motivations and actions to the conflict and denouement. A disappointment that failed to deliver from start to finish, I don't think I will be rereading or recommending this particular novel in the future.(less)
These books have been an unexpected treat so far. The mix of medieval-lite fantasy and hardboiled noir...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
These books have been an unexpected treat so far. The mix of medieval-lite fantasy and hardboiled noir detective is a surprising and unique one, but one that Alex Bledsoe manages to meld together seamlessly. Strong in both the fantasy aspects - more prevalent here than in the first - and the twisty mystery, this is an author that can and does manage to surprise you as a reader. Much like the first one, I was kept guessing until the final pages and Eddie's big reveal. Compared to Jim Butcher's Dresden series in terms of tone, if not execution, the Eddie LaCrosse novels are inventive, fun, and a lot of that is down to how thoroughly awesome Eddie himself is. I find these novels to be more violent than Butcher's (though not really gorey - just full of typical fantasy world distasteful things.) He's a charming bastard, and one I find myself enjoying more and more as the books and pages go on and more is revealed about this smart, caustic mercenary turned sword jockey.
An immediate sequel that could easily work just as well as a standalone, Burn Me Deadly is just as immersive and hard to put down as its predecessor, The Sword-Edged Blonde. Entertaining and original, this homage to the classic Kiss Me Deadly reads both quickly and well. The detailed, complete world shown in the first book is further built upon and expanded. Eddie's voice is the exact same as in the first - hard but still likeable in all his faults, mistakes and errors with a twisty mystery to unravel. His hard-edged charm works through his tough-guy exterior more and more and the same tone, vice, and overall feel I had for Eddie before comes through in spades. Building on the hints and foundations of book one, everything from the world he lives in to Eddie's own personal history is detailed more. Alex Bledsoe's talent as an author is clearly growing steadily, and as it does, so does his characterization of this quasi-anti-hero protagonist.
This is not your typical fantasy novel. I wouldn't classify it as high or low fantasy, because it rally does mix both the fantasy aspects and the mystery elements to a highly original degree. Before this series, I'd never thought to combine them, nor would I have expected them to be so fun if I had. The plot of Burn Me Deadly has its infusion of fantasy (a dragon cult, patronized by royalty) and noir (one that is sponsored by a crime lord/smuggler), and boasts an elaborate setup. This sequel just feels more fantasy-esque than the first - it's still heavy on the whodunit, but peppered with more fantasy tropes. The mystery took a little longer to really heat up (hahaha) than it did for book one, but the ending payout is just as rewarding. This is a fast-paced read, one without the time-line jumps that could be a bit confusing in the first novel. It's a tad simpler, but no less involving or entertaining.
If you're looking for a fresh take on fantasy or mystery-genre, this noir sword-and-sorcery novel (and series) is exactly what you need to try. Burn Me Deadly is equal parts funny, dramatic, and filled with the same humor and danger that I came to expect from The Sword-Edged Blonde. With a clear writing style, an even hand at pacing and creating tension, and ability to craft a good mystery, Alex Bledsoe proves that his success with book one was anything but a fluke. I especially loved how the ending wrapped up and tied so neatly into book one (a great way to tie everything thus far together), and I finished eager to continue my adventures with Eddie. Burn Me Deadly may be my favorite of the series, but there are still two more (so far) adventures to go on and mysteries to unravel in this easily-envisioned world with this charismatic narrator. Sign me up.
Many thanks to the kind people at TLC Book Tours for sending me this novel in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.(less)
The Sword-Edged Blonde does something new and interesting - it merges two genres I love - fantasy and m...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
The Sword-Edged Blonde does something new and interesting - it merges two genres I love - fantasy and mystery - and spins them together in a highly fun and unique way. With a main character like investigator Eddie LaCrosse, who manages to inject a bit of wry, world-weary humor into a dark toned and murder-filled novel, there's a lot to enjoy in this first of a newish series. Both the fantasy aspects and the 'whodunit' more than hold up under the pressure of three hundred pages of revenge, fallen Goddess, and surprise revelations. Neatly and engrossingly told, this debut novel is hard to put down as the reader and Eddie race to figure out what happened to both Prince Pridiri and Epona Gray.
I'm a big fan of the way Alex Bledsoe writes about this alternate but familiar world, filled with 'sword jockeys', exiled nobility, and magic. Though I had never heard of him before Audra's wonderful review of this exact book, he steadily impressed me with his original storytelling ability and talent for crafting concrete, realistic, and flawed characters. Bledsoe also has an adept way of setting the scene - from the first sentence of the novel ("Spring came down hard that year. And I do mean hard, like the fist of some drunken pike poker with too much fury and not enough ale, whose wife just left him for some wandering minstrel and whose commanding officer absconded with his pay."), the voice of protagonist Eddie is uniquely his own and captivating, as is the imagined world he lives in. Consider me a fan of this author just after this first novel - I can only hope the rest of this semi-medieval fantasy series lives up to the standard of The Sword-Edged Blonde.
Main character Eddie is my favorite part of this slightly supernatural mix of mystery and fantasy. He's presented as a wholly flawed man with a dark and mysterious past all his own. Though the focus of the novel is more on unraveling the twisty web of political intrigue and revenge around Arentia's royal family, the tidbits that sneak out about Eddie's personal history added ever more depth to the hard-bitten and snarky man. I also loved his sense of humor from the outset. ("Okay. I'd found a clue. But it told me nothing. Actually, it took away some certainties, so it was more of an anti-clue. Eddie LaCrosse, reverse investigator." and "Always pay the insurance" - Eddie's version of the double tap.) If hardboiled, noir detective types are something you enjoy reading about, don't let the slight fantastical elements of The Sword-Edged Blonde scare you away. Lies, vendettas, secrets, twists, turns, and murder - all are part and parcel in this able and talented swordsman's daily excursions.
I vastly enjoyed the world Bledsoe has crafted. With obvious nods to the genres he melds so well, there is a bit of exposition to get through in the first hundred or so pages before the story really takes off. I'm not one to nitpick fantasy exposition as long as it's done as well as it is here. It/the flashbacks to Eddie's former life didn't choke up the storyline, but managed to actually add to the complete feel of the story/world created. I loved the infusion of Celtic and Welsh mythologies - fantasy as a genre tends to stick to mining the same ground for inspiration of gods and goddesses, and it's always refreshing to read a new take on the same old same old. The mystery element gets a bit muddled when the odd, remote character of Epona is introduced, but Bledsoe happily manages to clear it up with ease soon after.
I do have a few caveats, despite how thoroughly I got sucked into Eddie's story and world. I got a bit tired of how many women were blonde and attractive in this novel - there were so many mentioned that I lost count. There are many token women characters and none of them are characterized to the same degree as Eddie - which bothered me more and more as the trend continued throughout the novel. I also have slight issues with just who the woman appearing to Eddie at the end is, because it can come across a bit like women are replaceable versions of one another in this world. It's a minor complaint, but I wasn't happy with how that particular plotline was executed.
The Sword-Edged Blonde boasts a well-crafted mystery, a likeable if gruff and imperfect lead, a solid plot, and several truly unexpected twists and revelations. While the females of this world could do with some time and work, it is main character Eddie who commands attention and keeps the fun coming. There's tons more good than bad to be found in this first novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience with The Sword-Edged Blonde. It's a "tongue in cheek" look at sword noir, and it works well across the board; inventive, fun, if superficial. I am a fan, and upon finishing, I was eager and excited to see what this author has cooked up for the second novel in the series, Burn Me Deadly.
Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me this novel!(less)