Helen & Troy's Epic Road Quest is a snarky YA romp through the tropes of mythology, in the form of a road trip across part of western America. I'mHelen & Troy's Epic Road Quest is a snarky YA romp through the tropes of mythology, in the form of a road trip across part of western America. I'm a big fan of classic mythologies, so this seemed like it'd be right up my alley. It's imaginative (as far as world setting), absurdist and mildly entertaining. Unfortunately, it's not much else. While the concept of the story is creative and unique, the execution leaves something to be desired. The characters are flat and predictable, and the humorous absurdity is undercut by the fact that the story just really isn't engaging. I didn't care what happened, partially because it was so predictable there wasn't a point. It's clear the author, amidst the adventure storyline, was trying for some deeper message about first love and not judging people by appearances or stereotypes. But it just fell flat. For me, this is one of those YA books that just doesn't really translate to adult readers. If you're looking for a juvenile read that is a bit different but doesn't require any brain power, give this a try. Just don't expect too much out of it. ...more
I'd heard some buzz about this book on Twitter a few months ago, so when I found myself in the airport in need of something to read, I picked this up.I'd heard some buzz about this book on Twitter a few months ago, so when I found myself in the airport in need of something to read, I picked this up. And I'm so glad I did. The book is told from the point of view of Victoria, a survivor of the foster care system who begins emancipation with nothing but the clothes on her back and her love for flowers. Having never had a real family, she has a hard time communicating meaningfully with other people, except for the secret meanings behind different blooms. The story follows her through her trials in life and love and confronting her past (a good part of the book is told through Victoria as a child, and reveals where she first learned the language of flowers), and does a good job of being both very real and very moving. As a scene is unfolding, Victoria will often reference a few flowers, which serve to let the reader know her exact emotional state (there's a helpful flower language glossary in the back, on top of in-text references). I can't say too much else here without spoilers. Suffice to say, it is beautifully written and beautifully told, and I recommend it highly. I also want to become a florist now, but that's another story. ;)...more
This is a book I'd never heard of before coming across it on Goodreads Bookswap, which is a shame, because it's a gem. Most of the vampire stories thaThis is a book I'd never heard of before coming across it on Goodreads Bookswap, which is a shame, because it's a gem. Most of the vampire stories that have come out recently have been along the lines of Twilight - at the most basic, a human falling in love with a vampire. And that's fine, those can be entertaining and enjoyable. But they do get a bit old after a few. The Historian, quite refreshingly, did NOT follow that vein. It is an investigative journey spanning decades, delving into the root and history of vampirism and in particular the 'original' vampire, Vlad Tepes, aka. Vlad Drakul, aka. Dracula. It shifts narrators (and decades) between a professor of history, a student of his turned diplomat, and the diplomat's 18-year-old daughter, each sucked into the mystery and intrigue surrounding Dracula. They are all bound together in an insatiable (albeit dangerous) quest for knowledge, and Kostova weaves together history and fiction seamlessly. I have no idea if the history (aside from elements of vampirism) is accurately portrayed, but my guess would be the author did some painstaking research from the level of detail conveyed. I don't want to say too much more here, because I'm not sure how to talk about plot elements, etc. without spoilers. Suffice to say that I enjoyed this book immensely, and highly recommend it. The only 'down' points are that sometimes the history is a bit dry (though never for long, thankfully) and some plot holes are never filled (though the narrator offers an excuse for this in the preface/beginning)....more
The book jacket description led me to believe this would be my kind of science fiction - the kind that uses the sci-fi element to explore human psychoThe book jacket description led me to believe this would be my kind of science fiction - the kind that uses the sci-fi element to explore human psychology and sociology, rather than just being an adventure story set in space or the future (though those can be enjoyable too). And it could have done that, if it hadn't gotten sidetracked by male hormones. Apparently the author feels that the only thing a man suddenly made young again will want to do is have sex with as many women and girls as possible. Admittedly, this could be true in many cases (though I like to think that while wanting lots of sex may be universal, some men would at least be monogamous in such a situation). The patchwork attempt to lend the story some larger overarching purpose or message via the European Union/Brussels/independence protests storyline seems more like an afterthought, a thin attempt to put a more sophisticated veneer on what is basically a catalog of sexual conquests by the protaganist. Maybe I dislike this book so much because it has more realism regarding humanity's darker tendencies (lying, cheating, gratuitous/meaningless sex, violence), but I've read plenty of books with those elements before that I still enjoyed. The difference is that they at least had some redeeming factor, usually in the form of a protaganist I could actually like or relate to. Overall, this was a disappointing read - I kept waiting for the payoff that would make reading it worthwhile, but it never came....more
Overall, I thought this was an interesting way to mix the world of fantasy with the modern world. The lines between what makes a being human or a fairOverall, I thought this was an interesting way to mix the world of fantasy with the modern world. The lines between what makes a being human or a fairy are blurry and blurrable (at least from the fairy side). An Aetherial being (as they are called in the book) can blend in with humans no problem - their true selves only show in other realms or to other Aetherials. They can also choose to reject their otherworldly side and forget about their race's history and powers, and become essentially human - as a few characters in the book attempt to do. The way Aetherials can slip 'sideways' between different realms/dimensions - intentionally or accidentally - was a bit of a new twist, too. No stone circles or travelling west into twilight necessary. And I like a good romance storyline with occasional sex scenes as well as the next woman, so a few bonus points for that.
My major beef with this book, though, is unfortunately it's largest action-driven plot point - Lawrence Wilder and the mysterious threat from beyond the Gates. Even by the end, it is not really clearly explained why, if the threat has always been there from the beginning of creation, it is only awakening now. There's some vague mention about Lawrence's nightmares having had something to do with it, possibly creating it, but that doesn't jive with the story that it was always there. But the more character-driven side of the ending (namely, Rose's storyline) was very satisfactory, so I found myself able to overlook the bit about Lawrence and still have the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from finishing a good book....more
I was given a promotional copy of this book by Harper Voyager U.S. for review.
Stonehill Downs is the story of Malachi, the king’s vocent (talks to spiI was given a promotional copy of this book by Harper Voyager U.S. for review.
Stonehill Downs is the story of Malachi, the king’s vocent (talks to spirits) and last magus in the kingdom, sent to the remote village of Stonehill Downs to investigate the very weird and bloody murders of a local lord and some Kingsmen. It is also the story of Avani, a foreign weaver, who has settled in Stonehill Downs and is the one to find the bodies. Unfortunately, soon after he arrives to investigate, things escalate, and Malachi and Avani are thrown together for survival. He’s haunted by his dead wife, she has a raven familiar and gets sporadic visions, and together they have to work to solve the mystery of what is happening on the Downs, before whatever-it-is spreads and destroys the kingdom.
I liked this book. It had a good mix of elements: magic, mystery, good characters with layers, a good pace, enjoyable writing. The central mystery of the book is handled well – Remy keeps it interesting enough to hold up as the main plot line, while not making the solution to the puzzle super obvious, and still leaving room for other side things to be going on. That’s a fine balance to walk. The relationship between Malachi and Avani is intriguing; you can see it change and grow through the book. I do wish the author had gone a bit more into the history of the world. I feel like I know the characters, but not that I really know too much about the world, especially in regards to Avani’s original home and certain legends that come up whose significance I feel like I’m missing because we don’t have that history.
However, the author has said this is book #1 of a 2-book series, so I’m excited to see what she has in store for book #2 – it might address some of those points. Overall, definitely a good read, and I will be picking up that second book. :)...more