I don’t know her personally, but Maureen Johnson seems like a nice lady. She’s goofy and smart and she hangs out with most of my favorite YA authors,I don’t know her personally, but Maureen Johnson seems like a nice lady. She’s goofy and smart and she hangs out with most of my favorite YA authors, and once she sent me a Jack the Ripper button. (I mean, other people got them too, but I still feel special, and that is because Maureen sent a lovely, funny little note that made the whole thing feel very personal.) So I don’t know why she wanted to take her words and use them to rip my heart out and stomp on it and then hand the bitty pieces back to me, but she did.
The Madness Underneath isn’t as suspenseful as The Name of the Star. This book is less of a murder mystery (although there are a couple murders and they are mysterious) and more a study of... well, madness. After what happened to Rory at the end of the first book, she is in a position of not going anywhere in life and doesn’t really care. Is that indifference normal? Is she playing with a full deck? And as for the murders around her—are they related to the Ripper murders, or even to each other? Or is Rory just trying to link things together to make herself feel sane again?
I really don’t want to spoil this (or Star) for anyone and I can’t gush forever, as much as I’d like to. Typically I prefer my books to be character-driven; I like those characters to feel like real people to me, to be interesting and funny and tangible. Maureen Johnson is very good at writing those sorts of characters, and even though there is a dark, uncertain mood to the whole book, Rory still keeps her sense of humor and there were bits that made me laugh out loud. For example, this is Rory talking about how she hasn’t shaved in three weeks:
“The hairs sprouted, and they were kind of cute. So I just let them go to see what would happen, and what had happened was that I had a fine web of delicate hair all over my legs that I could ruffle while I watched television, like some people absently pet their cats. I was my very own fuzzy pet.”
Johnson writes Rory’s mental state after The Incident (again, trying to avoid spoilers here) with sensitivity and great believability. I was also very excited to see a new side of Stephen in this novel; in Star he was so buttoned-up and mature, but in The Madness Underneath we get to see him relating to Rory and sharing more tidbits about his past.
Plus, there is some (though not enough) Alistair, Jazza knitting a tube, and some unexpected kissing action.
The cliffhanger ending both annoys and excites me. On the one hand, I know the next book is going to rock my face off. On the other, I have to wait a year for the next book to rock my face off. And in the meantime, I’m going to be worried about my beloved Rory & Co. It’s a hard-knock life, indeed....more
My passionate love affair with her Lux series led me to pick up JLA’s Half-Blood, the first book in the Covenant series. I was sure I would1.5/5 stars
My passionate love affair with her Lux series led me to pick up JLA’s Half-Blood, the first book in the Covenant series. I was sure I would like it, but instead I found myself going “WTF??” and “SRSLY??” for 281 pages.
Here’s the thing: plagiarism isn’t cool. We’re all taught this from a fairly early age in school, and any writer—especially a fantasy writer—should know how important it is to respect the work of other authors. Your writing is your writing. Whether you create a magnificent world full of wizards playing Quidditch or one with a klutzy girl trapped in an awkward love triangle with vampire and a werewolf, that is your work. You have built this world. You conceived an idea and then midwifed the crap out of it until it emerged, ink-smeared and surprisingly small, from your personal writing cave as a Real Book. And that Real Book is your book, full of your original ideas (presumably), and no one—but no one—is allowed to swoop in and take your book and change a few basic ideas and names and then publish it as his or her own original work.
Now, much as it’s pretty much impossible at this point in the game to create an entirely unique arrangement of musical notes, it is very hard to write a completely original book. Most ideas have been déjà had, and of course there are some big moneymakers that authors and publishers are doing to death, simply because they can. So as a writer, it’s pretty much impossible for you to say, “I am going to write a book about vampires!” and not have some similar elements to at least one of the fifty bajillion other vampire books out there. I can’t even begin to think how you’d have a completely unique vampire book these days. You can’t even score originality points by making them sparkle anymore!
But it’s one thing to have similarities to the work of another author in the genre. Completely ripping off their major plot points is a whole ’nother ball game, and that is what happened here.
If you haven’t read Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, Half-Blood won’t seem that bad to you. It’s a decent book, if a bit... heavy... on the ellipses... sometimes. (Do you see... how annoying... that is? I shouldn’t... have to pause... dramatically... in nearly every... sentence... of dialogue.) It’s the story of a girl who literally lives to kick ass, has suffered a crippling personal loss, and who is quickly becoming entrenched in a forbidden romance with a hot guy. Action! Adventure! Sexy times!
But if you have read VA, you will see many, many eerie similarities:
- Alex is a half-blood, sworn to protect pure-bloods from the daimons who want to convert them and/or drain them of their incredibly potent aether. VA’s Rose is a dhampir sworn to protect Moroi from the Strigoi who want to convert them and/or drain them of their incredibly potent blood.
- Alex left the Covenant and missed some crucial points of her education, but she’s still talented and badass enough to kill a couple daimons while untrained and on her own. Rose left St. Vladimir’s and missed some crucial points of her education, but she’s still talented and badass enough to kill a couple Strigoi while untrained and on her own.
- Alex has a history of behavioral problems and people comment on how she is “full of life.” Rose has a history of behavioral problems and people comment on how she is “full of life.”
- Alex sees an oracle who predicts hardship for her. Rose sees a vampire gypsy who predicts hardship for her.
- Alex can never hook up with her trainer because he is a pure-blood and her instructor, but their attraction is just too strong to ignore. Rose can never hook up with her trainer because he is older than her and her instructor, but their attraction is just too strong to ignore.
This book looks like it’s leading into a love triangle, and I don’t generally like love triangles, so I’m feeling pretty “meh” about that. And I was so frustrated while I was reading because I love the Lux series so much. I think JLA is a talented writer and it’s so upsetting to me that she blatantly poached characters and plot points from Richelle Mead—another very talented writer—and published what basically amounts to a fanfic with a few details changed. And then I was angry with her editor and publisher, because they let it go so far.
I was going to give one star but there was a plot twist in the last third or so that was original and which looks like it could go in an interesting (albeit love-triangular) direction, so I bumped it up a half star. I’ve also ordered Pure because of this twist. I sincerely hope the second book isn’t full of VA rip-offs, because if it is I will be giving up on the Covenant series altogether.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I became aware of Delilah Fawkes through Karen's magnificent reviews. Then I got a crapload of Kobo coupons and decided to spring for one of Delilah'sI became aware of Delilah Fawkes through Karen's magnificent reviews. Then I got a crapload of Kobo coupons and decided to spring for one of Delilah's monster sex stories because I'm a total joiner.
In summary: Our horny heroine, Tina, arrives at Number 1, Wallachia Drive (nice!) for her Craigslist-planned hookup with one Dr. Acula. Tina has been single for six months and she is looking to end her dry spell, even if by responding to an ad that reads Looking for young, innocent woman to devour. Will host, which is posted on one of the most notoriously creepy/entertaining sites in the world. Tina figures this is an invitation for cunnilingus (obviously!) and his picture is really attractive, so all systems are go.
But! It turns out he's a little bit weird! And he meant he wanted to literally eat her! Because he is a vampire! Named Vlad! Uh-oh!
My very favorite line pops up at about this point:
Lady Blue Balls are a real and dangerous affliction.
Anyway, they manage to overcome their differences and find a way of achieving mutual pleasure and establish a Friends With Benefits relationship and everyone lives happily ever after! It is a real feel-good tale.
This is one of those books I just cannot unread, no matter how much I'd like to. I read it back in 2009 when I was in bed with swine flu (it'll make yThis is one of those books I just cannot unread, no matter how much I'd like to. I read it back in 2009 when I was in bed with swine flu (it'll make you do crazy things, man). The writing is clumsy and the grammar is awful considering one of the writers is a TEACHER. I did read some of the subsequent books to see if the writing got any better. Meh. Then I read a few more because the story actually got relatively interesting. And now they're releasing Book 50 or whatever and they just aren't good enough for me to read that many books to find out what happens to the two characters I like....more