This is going to be another one of those "just cute" reviews. "Succubus Blues" is, by nature, and urban fantasy sort of romance novel. You know? It isThis is going to be another one of those "just cute" reviews. "Succubus Blues" is, by nature, and urban fantasy sort of romance novel. You know? It is what it is, and it does lack the twists and turns of the Vampire Academy series that made Richelle Mead famous. Then again, this was also her first novel, so perhaps that makes sense.
"Succubus Blues" presents us with unlucky-in-love succubus Georgina Kincaid. Georgina is a perfectly appealing heroine, simply because she has the human dorkiness that makes her relatable coupled with a succubus's wish fulfillment sex appeal. She's also a very sex-positive leading lady. You'd think that this would come with the territory--not so. Mead's sex positivity was a treat in the "Vampire Academy" series, and it isn't lost here. She doesn't shame Georgina in the least for banging who she wants to bang, and I LOVED that.
The supporting cast was pleasant and amusing, though I assume that I'll grow to like them more as time goes on. I liked that most of Georgina's friends were fellow immortals; it's a pain in the ass when an immortal-in-hiding only hangs out with clueless mortals. The secrecy is only interesting for so long. I also feel that Mead's expansive supernatural world will provide for interesting plot points in the future.
I wasn't completely sold on Seth, Georgina's love interest. However, I think that this had less to do in a weakness of character; I just didn't have enough time to get used to him. He was barely there, and by the time the novel came to its end, I wasn't feeling it... yet. I might like him a little more by the time the next book has come to a finish.
The book's main problem is that its main mystery is incredibly obvious. I saw it coming within the first fifty pages. Richelle Mead's good at the more romantic parts of the novel, but shock is not her strong suit....more
In an interview, Jodi Picoult said that, for her, writing a book was like having a child. It takes her about nine months to produce each of her novelsIn an interview, Jodi Picoult said that, for her, writing a book was like having a child. It takes her about nine months to produce each of her novels--and they are not slim books. Perhaps that's why she's so prolific. However, I--and many others--would argue that a formula has something to do with her book-a-year policy. It's not a bad formula--and really, if used correctly, formulas aren't bad, period. The thing is that lately Picoult's books have been slightly hit-or-miss for me. They aren't bad by any means. They just don't really compare to her best ("Change of Heart", "My Sister's Keeper", "Nineteen Minutes").
"Lone Wolf" has qualities that I love. Personally, I adored learning about wolf behavior--but then, I've always been a big fan of wolves. They're a point of interest to me. If you disagree, then you probably shouldn't waste your time with "Lone Wolf". Much of "Lone Wolf"'s themes trace back to Luke Warren's time with wolves--in fact, all of his chapters are wolf-centered, which reflects his life. As such, though I often found him frustrating and selfish, and at times unbearable, Luke remained enigmatically interesting to me, as he probably was to his family and the world. That sensibility is one of the novel's strong points.
However, Picoult falters with these characters. One it utterly pointless--why did we need Helen Bedd's two pov chapters?--while others suffered from a lack of character development. Most Picoult novels have the main plot, and then several subplots that serve to assist the characters' growth. "Lone Wolf" had none of this. I wanted to see Edward and Cara grow outside of the court case. (Which, by the way, progressed incredibly quickly. Speaking of, why did this have to be an issue right after the car crash? Less than two weeks is an awfully short amount of time to wait before worrying about life support.)
Also, Cara was very difficult to relate to. I'm almost her age exactly at the moment, and I cannot abide by her total lack of maturity. Yes, it's a terrible situation, and anyone would lose their heads about it. But if she wants to be taken seriously as a guardian, she needs to shape up. One moment in particular was kind of... iffy. But then, there were several unbelievable moments throughout "Lone Wolf".
If you're looking for the patented Picoult twist, don't expect it here. The plot is very predictable; there was only one moment that really caught me by surprise, and it wasn't even the main "shocker".
"Lone Wolf" has moments of glory, and those make it an enjoyable read. But don't go into it expecting Picoult to give her all....more
The only reasons why "Very Valentine" is getting two stars include: Trigiani's good, not great writing skills; an interesting premisFirst thing first:
The only reasons why "Very Valentine" is getting two stars include: Trigiani's good, not great writing skills; an interesting premise, its completely failed execution aside; and some cool details about Italian shoemaking.
All of that aside, "Very Valentine" suffers from, among other things:
-- Typical, "Have I mentioned I'm Italian today?" cliches.
-- A whole lot of needless description.
-- Which led to a lot of telling rather than showing. Why tell me that Gram has critiqued Valentine's work when you could devote a cool scene to it? This really made the entire work seem like Trigiani had been suffering through writer's block throughout its making.
-- What the hell was up with the romance in this thing? SO. BORING. Zero chemistry between Valentine and either of her love interests. And frankly, I have no idea why either of them were interested in her (it was a half-assed love triangle anyway) because...
-- ONE OF THE MOST INSUFFERABLE PROTAGONISTS I HAVE EVER READ ABOUT. When Valentine wasn't bitching about her life, she was bitching about her brother, who, by the way, was one of the only sensible characters in the book. And then she would bitch about his poor wife, who had the misfortune of being petite and stressed. Oh, oh, oh, and God forbid Valentine's boring boyfriend works hard at his job as a chef--kind of a time-consuming job, by the way. She can't possibly be part of their problems; problems which seem nonexistent and incredibly flippant in comparison to the actual issues they could have faced.
Annoying, annoying, and annoying. More of a 1.5/5, really....more
"Overseas" is Williams's time-traveling romance debut about a Wall Street investment banker, a man who speaks in language far too flowery to be from t"Overseas" is Williams's time-traveling romance debut about a Wall Street investment banker, a man who speaks in language far too flowery to be from this century, and some rather twisty-turny World War I sequences. Also, poetry. And really, the last third or so could be a treatise on the importance of taking your birth control correctly.
For some reason, I've had the reader's equivalent of writer's block for the past month or so. I've been reading at a really slow pace and finding zero inspiration for written reviews. In respect to easing myself back into reading and reviewing, "Overseas" worked. It was extremely fluffy, extremely... pleasant, for the most part. It was like cotton candy, or a dumb hot guy. I mean, it's not like there's much going on upstairs, but it's nice to look at it for a little bit. The concept, though a bit overdone, wasn't bad either. (So that dumb hot guy had nice fashion sense.)
Unfortunately, "pleasant" doesn't equal interesting. "Overseas" wasn't so boring that I couldn't finish the somewhat lengthy novel. It didn't take much brainpower. But it did, towards the end, lose my interest to the point that I was skimming over a few pages here and there. Williams's prose is nothing to write home about, and her main character is rather bland. I can't remember many distinguishing traits about her besides the fact that she was "librarian hot" and disliked swearing.
The romance was rather bland, too. It happened with little build-up, which is explained away by the end of the book. Yet I really didn't care about whether or not these two stayed together. The sex scenes weren't even descriptive (and somehow the dude was SO GREAT in bed after being with only one woman previously and having a twelve-year dry spell--as if he could have lasted five seconds). Hey, if I'm going to read a fluffy romance novel, the least you could do is give me some good porn, Beatriz Williams.
Our male lead, Julian, has a bad case of Edward Cullen Syndrome. Only, unlike Edward Cullen, he isn't funny in that somewhat unintentional way. He doesn't sparkle either, which, let's be real, added to the whole "Twilight" experience. I miss the body-glittered vampires of my youth.
Julian says things like "beloved" and abstains from sex and when he isn't a dreadful bore he's a controlling douchebag. Like, come on Kate (our bland MC, in case you forgot). This dude doesn't even sound like he wants to do any freaky stuff. And he gets his panties in a twist whenever she goes anywhere! The one time he does get freaky, he apologizes. Talk about dull.
I don't expect much of romance novels. But I do expect a halfway decent male lead.
Yawn, yawn, yawn. Did I mention that there aren't any good sex scenes? FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY. ...more
My relationship with Ellen Hopkins' work is much like my relationship with Jodi Picoult's work. Both are good if not fabulous writers--Hopkins might hMy relationship with Ellen Hopkins' work is much like my relationship with Jodi Picoult's work. Both are good if not fabulous writers--Hopkins might have a leg up on Picoult, as her prose is at least quite unique and recognizable as HERS--and both have a formula. Having a formula when writing is not necessarily a bad thing, and completely understandable when cranking out at least one book a year is your primary income.
Hopkins' formula, like Picoult's, is simple: grab a controversy, some fucked up characters, and perhaps a multi-narrator structure. Whip about five hundred pages together (in Hopkins' case those pages go by very quickly due to her prose structure) and voila! You have a bestseller.
"Triangles" is Hopkins' first foray into adult fiction. I remember that she advised her YA readers to steer clear of this one. I don't know why. Really, "Triangles" is not much racier than Hopkins' YA fare, which has always leaned on the side of grit. In a lot of ways, her three middle-aged heroines don't read any differently from her teen characters, Holly in particular (though I suspect that was intentional in the one character's case).
Like much of Hopkins' work, "Triangles" skims dangerously close to after-school special at certain points. It can become a bit tiresome at points and repetitive, a bit cliche. Much of the book is dependent on whether or not you're interested in the characters' adventures.
Marissa and Andrea are bearable enough, though Marissa's story--lax husband, terminal daughter, conflicted gay son--is overly depressing at some points. Andrea, on the other hand, doesn't have much of a plot. She's just a single mom, living Holly and Marissa's problems from the outside instead of having many interesting issues of her own.
Holly is completely unbearable. At the same time, she at least has a scandalous storyline. Then again, her voice is so annoying that it's hard to go on at times... Not sure what I think about that, even now.
Overall, I would say that "Triangles" is worth the read if you are a fan of Hopkins' work. Don't expect it to be as good as her other books, and don't make this your first Hopkins read, because it's not her best. But it's interesting enough--I'll give her that....more
I'm still debating over whether or not I should have given this book a lower star rating, so... that could change later. For now, this is my review.
II'm still debating over whether or not I should have given this book a lower star rating, so... that could change later. For now, this is my review.
I read "The Help" after watching the movie. Although I enjoyed the film in a purely movie-ish way, the nagging history buff side of me said "Whoa that's sanitized" and the white Southern girl (who currently lives a couple hours away from where Trayvon Martin was murdered) in me said, "Are they actually implying that everything is hunky-dory now? Because..."
The book, from a book perspective, is much better than the movie. In fact, if the book is a heavily sanitized version of history, the movie is a heavily sanitized version of the book! Many important scenes were cut or changed. It's impossible for me to not "side-eye" the manner in which the filmmakers watered down Constantine's backstory. It is so much darker in the novel, and changes the way I look at Constantine and Skeeter's mother drastically. It also really disappoints me that the author would be as satisfied by the movie as she apparently is, considering how completely vital that scene was.
On to the actual novel. "The Help" is well-written; its three main voices are quite clear. In terms of characterization, I found myself loving Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter... Really, if I'm looking at this from a purely light, happy-bookworm perspective, I'm quite pleased with the book. That's where the four stars come from. (Subject to change, again.)
But again, I am a Southerner. My family owned a plantation and slaves way back when; there is also a very good chance that part of my heritage is mixed-race. And if that is so, then my not-so-distant ancestors did quite a bit to cover it up. There's a branch of my family tree that just ends, right where the woman who I suspect was mixed-race appears. So, I feel kind of obligated to look at "The Help" from a more critical point of view.
A) I can't help but feel that there would have been far more backlash over the book Skeeter endeavors to write. And it's strange to me that a major publisher would take it as quickly as Elaine Stein does. It doesn't matter that she's a "Yankee". Racism wasn't confined to the South. It was simply worse there.
B) Like many others, I felt a bit uncomfortable with the fact that Skeeter was this conduit for the voices of black women. The thing is that this part of the book isn't just Skeeter's impression: it lingers in the actual writing. There was a sort of "This white girl has a responsibility to help the poor black ladies" ring to it. Yikes yikes yikes.
But again, the book distracts you from this fact with awesome lady friendships and great characters. (Aibileen and Celia were my favorites.) Speaking of Celia--hers is a great subplot that reminds us that there was another, lesser form of discrimination amongst white classes at the time. (There still is.) Her story is actually lovely, even if her sweetness was sometimes hard to believe.
As a fun, beach read: 4/5
Historical Accuracy: 2.5/5
Um this is kind of uncomfortable factor: 4/5...more