Mari is a Welsh fisherman's daughter who discovers on her 18th birthday that she is obligated to marry a...moreContains mild spoilers (Cross-posted to Amazon)
Mari is a Welsh fisherman's daughter who discovers on her 18th birthday that she is obligated to marry a 'Selch' (selkie) as part of a generations-long bargain between her family and the seal clan. At the same time, she learns that the fantastic sprites she's been seeing her whole life are actually indicative of her growing potential as a Water Master. Nan and Sarah (repeat characters who debuted in The Wizard of London) are sent by Lord Alderscroft to investigate the reports that a new Elemental Mage is coming into power.
So much for the summary.... unfortunately, for three-fourths of the book, that's about all there is. It reads much more like a Louisa May Alcott accounting of daily life than the fantasy adventure in the previous Elemental Masters novels. There are minor points of conflict: Mari's reluctance to be bartered off as a bride, and her subsequent bargain with the Selch leader; and a new, bullying constable who's more of a nuisance than a threat to anyone. In the meantime, Nan and Sarah (now grown and returned from off-screen African adventures) conduct a failed experiment in teaching, debate what to do with themselves, and wander off for a sea-side holiday at Alderscroft's behest. Mari enjoys being courted by handsome young men, learning the extents of powers with a Selch Druid's tutelage, and harvesting various forms of seaweed to cook with. My Kindle showed 80% of the book completed before any sort of significant danger even began to reveal itself - and when it arrived, it was with insufficient justification based on the previous pages. There was almost no tension for most of the story.
It was a huge contrast to previous books in the series, where an antagonist is established almost immediately through his/her POV scenes, and slowly revealed to the heroes. Instead, the encounters preceding the climax seem incredibly mild, there are no antagonist POV scenes, and therefore the antagonist's major attack is very out of proportion and unbelievable in context. That being said, the writing is very pleasant, and a fun read overall; I just wish I'd known it would be so different from previous installments.
I do wonder if Lackey is planning future books to be The Nan And Sarah Show - this seemed more about an 'apprenticeship'-sort of way to set them up as roving detectives for the London mage's society than about anything you would expect from an Elemental Masters book. I'll still continue to read everything she puts out, but I feel like she's losing ground and it's hard to see a favorite author's quality continue to slip. (less)
I didn't realize what the biggest problem with this book was until I had finished it - which, thankfully, only took about an hour from start to finish...moreI didn't realize what the biggest problem with this book was until I had finished it - which, thankfully, only took about an hour from start to finish. The biggest problem is that the entire city, society, economy, and all, feels like it was only created to give the main characters something to do with their time.
It seems impossible to me that a city could exist for 200+ years with no innovations, no improvements, no advancements, nothing. They're all dependent on a dwindling stock of canned goods and panicking about the periodic short-term blackouts (the longest mentioned in the book is 7 minutes) even though the blackouts have been part of life for everyone there as long as they can remember. Even beyond that, it explicitly states that no one in that 200+ years has managed to create *any kind* of portable light.
Think about that. Not only are there no flashlights, there are no lanterns. There are no candles. There are no oil lamps. A couple of people manage to catch a stick on fire and wander into the darkness outside the city with it, only to go mad when the stick inevitably burns out - and NO ONE tries any experiments with any other type of flammable substance to see which might last longer, how it might be fueled, or even think about carrying, what, maybe a back-up stick?
The thing about humans is that they're always trying to find out "what happens IF." What happens if I combine vinegar and baking soda. What happens if I set my deodorant on fire (don't laugh; my brother actually did this). What happens if I push this big red button. Without any hint that the people of Ember were being controlled by radio waves, or drugs in their food, or hypno-dream-therapy, I find it completely unbelievable that every single one of them would have such a complete lack of curiosity or even just desperation at their existing circumstances that they don't even attempt to see, maybe, what kinds of fungus are edible, or experiment with any of the electrics while they were still in full supply to find out how they really worked.
And that brings us to our heroes: the only two people in the history of Ember who seem to have both an understanding of the deterioration of their society AND the impetus to do something about it (besides marching ineffectually with placards in front of the mayor's house - another sign that the general population of Ember is pretty much standing around begging for someone else to save them). This is why I say that the city is basically a straw-man argument - the only reason for it existing the way it does, for the people acting the way they do, is if you have pre-determined that you want to have a couple of twelve-year-old heroes who are the only ones clever enough, brave enough, and determined enough to accomplish anything at all. The rest of the population is just a monotone backdrop to let the two of them stand out even further.(less)
**spoiler alert** First - if you feel the need to italicize words like tagging, poking, Facebook, and friend request as if they were in air quotes eve...more**spoiler alert** First - if you feel the need to italicize words like tagging, poking, Facebook, and friend request as if they were in air quotes every time they were mentioned, you probably shouldn't be writing about Facebook.
Second - if your villain is popping around with the attitude of "Oh, deary me, what is this thing called 'Facebook'? Ah, people put photographs of themselves? How quaint! You mean common folk actually correspond with each other via this curious 'website'? Do tell me more!" then you probably shouldn't be writing about Facebook.
Third - if your main character is suffering from a convenient amnesia that just so happened to erase all his memory of the horrible things the villain did to him the first time around until the villain starts doing them all again the second time around; and if your main character's parents make only one appearance to show how terror-stricken they are at the thought of the villain cropping up in their lives again, and then never say another word or follow up to make sure their son is okay; and if your villain's backstory consists solely of "Mommy and Daddy didn't love me enough" without giving any clue why Mommy and Daddy might have acted the way they did; and if your main character tries to get revenge by following step-by-step instructions from a textbook on murder, and keeps failing because coincidence plots against him; and if your main character can't even save his own skin but has to rely on someone else's plans to go through....
Umm.... Then you probably shouldn't be writing at all.(less)
A good book, not incredible, but I enjoyed it. Asher is a hero with flaws, and more believable for it. The villain doesn't even appear until 2/3 throu...moreA good book, not incredible, but I enjoyed it. Asher is a hero with flaws, and more believable for it. The villain doesn't even appear until 2/3 through, and when he does, things take a very interesting turn, far away from how the book had progressed until that point... but there are plenty of other antagonists to keep things moving until then.(less)
I liked this sequel better than the previous trilogy. One thing Anthony has never been afraid of is letting his characters age and step back for the n...moreI liked this sequel better than the previous trilogy. One thing Anthony has never been afraid of is letting his characters age and step back for the new generation to have a turn.
The names are still puns and silliness, of course, and the fact that we're still operating in two different frames means there's a lot of duplicate-style action.... But the criss-cross romances are sincerely touching, especially that of Mach and Fleta; and there's a nice contrast between Blue's reaction to events and Stile's that keeps things interesting.(less)
Wow, alpha hero to the max.... Be forewarned: unless you like your heroes controlling, paternalistic, mercurial, and infuriating, and your heroines va...moreWow, alpha hero to the max.... Be forewarned: unless you like your heroes controlling, paternalistic, mercurial, and infuriating, and your heroines vacillating, childish, and amnesiacs, this isn't the book for you. Caroline is sadly dated. Alec exudes waves of possessive vibes, so even while he's enjoying an affair with another woman, he interferes with any interest Caro shows in anyone else; meanwhile, she's not able to become very interested because of the massive depression that hits her any time she's without him. He takes advantage of her while she's in a very vulnerable place, then treats her like the most stereotypical succubus/temptress who's trying to manipulate and control him.
Honestly, if it weren't for the publication date, I'd have thought this was another Twilight fanfic that made it through the publishing house. You could swap out the names, and it would fit perfectly.(less)
I was going to give this 2 stars, but added the extra one because it was such a relief to find a vampire book where there is no 'romance' between huma...moreI was going to give this 2 stars, but added the extra one because it was such a relief to find a vampire book where there is no 'romance' between human and vampire. It was a case where the story was fun to read, but a day or two after finishing, you look back and ask "So what was really accomplished?"
The answer is, sadly, not much. Most of the book is told in flashback, which can be a useful tool when used sparingly but really kind of grates after a while. It's as if the author knows that nothing interesting is happened where/when he set the story, and is trying to make up for it by having his characters muse over their troubled pasts while in the middle of the homecoming dance.
Every year, one girl from the graduating class of seniors (no explanation as to why no boys are eligible) is turned into a vampire at the end of the year. There's a whole lot of talk about the corruption among the millionaires who send their children to the vampire school: bribes, blackmail, framings, even murder. There's a gorgeous diva whose parents have sewn up the selection since she was born - Kim is nasty, completely self-centered, well-schooled in treachery (one flashback shows her framing her kindergarten teacher for sexual abuse) and not above sending her followers out to make mischief for any rivals. There's an ugly duckling, a new transfer to the school who's been deliberately hiding both her personality and her attractiveness so as to make the biggest splash possible when she challenges Kim. There's a lot of action thrown into the last quarter of the book, and for once the villain has a good reason for her actions (well, an understandable one at least) but the whole thing taken together is full of stereotypical, flat characters and is kind of a mess.(less)
I don't know what it is about Howell that compels him to write like this.... :-( Two series now centering on a strong female personality, with mystic...moreI don't know what it is about Howell that compels him to write like this.... :-( Two series now centering on a strong female personality, with mystic powers/connections to a goddess, who exist in slavery and form an unreasonable attachment to the slaveholder.
Although I thought this book was better than King's Property, it still wasn't enough for me to get past that comparison. A new theme would have served so much better.(less)
**spoiler alert** I really didn't find this as compelling or as clever as its predecessor. Merry makes a wonderfully strong heroine, but I was really...more**spoiler alert** I really didn't find this as compelling or as clever as its predecessor. Merry makes a wonderfully strong heroine, but I was really quite disappointed that she casually gave up her inn at the end after declaring through the whole book that she would never abandon her business, and after all the time she spent picking out furniture and all the plans she made to improve the inn.
Rhys made for an annoying hero. His constant insistence on 'fate' as being responsible for everything that happened to him really wore thin after a while. A depressed, almost-suicidal doom-and-gloom who demands the heroine marry him because it's 'fated' isn't exactly my idea of a heroic figure. Yes, he does back off and try to court her, and yes, she's been in love with him for 15-plus years, but I couldn't find enough in Rhys to admire.(less)
There's something incredibly charming about Kasey, the heroine; and Nora Roberts is excellent at including children in her books without flinging them...moreThere's something incredibly charming about Kasey, the heroine; and Nora Roberts is excellent at including children in her books without flinging them around as disposable plot points. :-)(less)
More enjoyable than the first; I really like the Game on Proton, and this installment gave it a center role. There was less lecturing, and it felt lik...moreMore enjoyable than the first; I really like the Game on Proton, and this installment gave it a center role. There was less lecturing, and it felt like the action progressed more smoothly. It was also nice to see Stile settling a bit more into his position as Blue, and learning to use his magic.... A minor quibble is that his spells all sounded very childish, and it was hard to imagine a good melody to go with them.(less)
Really, if I never read another where the 'hero' seduces the heroine against her will, it'll be too soon. This started out with potential, but the thi...moreReally, if I never read another where the 'hero' seduces the heroine against her will, it'll be too soon. This started out with potential, but the thin storyline quickly becomes just a cover for the sex scenes which weren't all that compelling anyway. Bleh.(less)