This book was entertaining enough, but there were just enough anachronisms and flaws in the otherwise good writing to prevent me giving it a higher raThis book was entertaining enough, but there were just enough anachronisms and flaws in the otherwise good writing to prevent me giving it a higher rating. I also hate the "Sherlock meets Doctor Who" comparison; the similarities ended with a prickly detective (who could maybe be described as having some of the 11th Doctor's whimsy about him) and a long-suffering police inspector. While I appreciate Ritter trying not to go the obvious route, there was far more chemistry between Abigail and Jackaby than her supposed love interest. I did enjoy the use of supernatural creatures not often used in urban fantasy, but the story could have done with more of that.
Edit: I've seen some comparisons to Lockwood & Co. and would definitely agree with them. But I would say read Lockwood instead. ...more
So I really adored the Cress/Thorne relationship and how it developed, and Cinder and Kai were quite adorakable, too, in the last 10% or so, once theySo I really adored the Cress/Thorne relationship and how it developed, and Cinder and Kai were quite adorakable, too, in the last 10% or so, once they were reunited. But the rest of the book felt reaaaalllly long, and I wasn't really that interested in the other characters (particularly Wolf), hence only four stars. ...more
I actually had a couple of people tell me when I finished Cinder that I could probably just skip ScarlOriginally posted at A Keyboard and an Open Mind
I actually had a couple of people tell me when I finished Cinder that I could probably just skip Scarlet and go straight on to Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles, as Scarlet doesn’t really add a huge amount to the overall story. This was pretty true, but I have to admit thatI am finding this series pretty damn entertaining and I am still glad I read the second installment.
In book two, we meet Scarlet Benoit, a small-town French girl whose grandmother has gone missing. Between meeting a street-fighter called Wolf, who seems to know where her grandmother is, and fugitive Linh Cinder landing a space ship in her garden, Scarlet’s life takes a turn for the dramatic. She ends up in Paris as a prisoner of a Lunar thaumaturge and the wolf-Lunar hybrids created by Queen Levana to make her first attack on Earth.
Meanwhile, Cinder has escaped prison with the aide of a very annoying man called Carswell Thorne, and is beginning to learn more about her true identity. Back in New Beijing, Prince Kai still has Cinder on his mind as he continues to try to prevent a war with Lunar.
As I said, there isn’t a whole lot in this book that really contributes to the plot, apart from some more in-depth character development and their pasts. The only real action comes towards the end, though there is enough tension building up to that to keep the reader interested. I liked Scarlet as a character, though I found Wolf quite contradictory. It seemed the author was going for “tough but sensitive” but even when the reasons for his sensitivities were explained later, I still couldn’t really reconcile them with “hardened fighter”.
Having said all that, Marissa Meyer does have a very readable writing style, so in spite of everything, I was still able to knock the book over in a few days....more
I had really high hopes for this book. The cover blurb made it sound really exciting, and whileReview originally posted on A Keyboard and an Open Mind
I had really high hopes for this book. The cover blurb made it sound really exciting, and while the reviews were certainly mixed, I was sure that it would be something I would really like. After all, Holly Black clearly knows her fey, and I love my fey, and this certainly sounded like it would be an interesting and fresh take on the fey, but… it all fell a bit flat. There were some moments when I was enjoying the book, and others were I was just really bored.
The Darkest Part of the Forest is set in the small town of Fairfold. There fey leave the Fairfold residents alone, though tourists are fair game. If the fey attack a local, he must have been acting like a tourist. In the darkest part of the forest is a glass coffin, in which lies a beautiful boy with horns and pointed ears. He has been there for generations, and never woken up. Until one day… he does.
The most difficult thing about this book was the pacing. There were a lot of flashbacks for a start to establish important moments in the main characters’ lives, but it slowed down the plot a lot. And while the language used was often crafted quite beautifully, everything was written in such a way that everything seemed to move quite slowly and undramatically, even when something important was happening.
The central characters in the book are sixteen-year-old Hazel and her brother Ben. When they were younger they used to pretend to be knights and hunt nasty fairies. They were also both in love with the horned boy in the coffin. They both harboured fantasies about being the one to wake him. I liked both Ben and Hazel as characters in their own right, and they had interesting character arcs, but neither seemed to go through any enormous amount of development throughout the story. The horned boy isn’t hugely interesting either; given how much of a deal is made of him in the blurb, I expected him to be more of a central player.
I have heard that Holly Black can be a mixed bag, that she writes in very different styles and therefore not everyone likes the same parts of her work. I know she’s got quite the catalogue, so at some point, perhaps I’ll check out some of her other work. But this was certainly a disappointing introduction to her work....more
Very interesting premise, though it ends on a rather ambiguous note (which is mostly okay, but there were a few things I thought were not ambiguous buVery interesting premise, though it ends on a rather ambiguous note (which is mostly okay, but there were a few things I thought were not ambiguous but just unclear). Also could have really benefited from a copy edit, but I was enjoying the story enough to overlook that. ...more
Generally I like my sci-fi Earth-based. Interstellar travel is just not something I usually get into.Originally posted at A Keyboard and an Open Mind
Generally I like my sci-fi Earth-based. Interstellar travel is just not something I usually get into. However, after seeing a couple of friends review this book favourably on GoodReads, I thought I would give it a go. It sounded fun, if nothing else.
Due to essentially being in the wrong place at the wrong time, high school junior, Eris, finds herself kidnapped by six-armed blue aliens. This is the start of an adventure across the galaxy, during which Eris makes friends, enemies, is tortured and experimented on and pursued, mostly in the company of a very attractive alien called Varrin. Oh, and Miguri, another alien who is small and furry and adorable. More on those guys in a moment.
Proulx’s world-building was thorough, from alien civilisations and languages/translation devices, to methods speedy interstellar travel. There were a couple of moments when I wondered why things on other planets seemed very similar to things on Earth, but that didn’t bother me too much.
The three main characters were all very well constructed and very consistent. Eris is a teenager, and she does have her teenage moments, but she’s also resilient and a good lead. Miguri, her Claktill companion, is kind of the “wise old man” character, but at the same time, he doesn’t seem wise beyond Eris or Varrin’s years. There were times when I wanted to punch Varrin in the face, and I kind of hoped that the romance would be drawn out a little longer, though the punchline regarding this at the end did make me laugh. While he does go through his own character arc, there are certain parts of him that I’m not sure will ever change, regardless of how many books there end up being in this series.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable read. It wasn’t hard sci-fi, but if it was, I would have stopped reading. Fun characters in a fun world to explore. Looking forward to book 2!...more
Yes, this is the book you never knew Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was based on. I didn’t either, until I aOriginally posted at A Keyboard and an Open Mind
Yes, this is the book you never knew Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was based on. I didn’t either, until I asked my boyfriend what my first book of the year was going to be and he pulled this off the shelf (since he moved into the house I was already living in, we have separate bookshelves). I haven’t actually seen the entire movie (I’ve seen bits and pieces), but according to aforementioned boyfriend, apart from some main characters and the co-existence of humans and cartoon (‘toon) characters, there are very few similarities.
The book begins when PI Eddie Valiant is hired by ‘toon Roger Rabbit to investigate why his current bosses won’t let him out of his contract, as well as whether or not there is any truth to the rumour that another comics syndicate had tried to buy him out. The case soon escalates and Eddie has two murders to solve, while Roger begs him to let him help with the detective work, Jessica Rabbit bats her eyelashes at him and other nefarious types, both human and ‘toon, warn him to back off.
This was a fun read, though sometimes it felt like too much was going on and I lost track of the details (I’ve said before I’m not good at remembering important titbits). While Eddie Valiant isn’t the most likeable of protagonists, he does at least do his job well. Roger Rabbit is mostly endearing, though sometimes he goes a bit over the top. The book’s female characters weren’t especially brilliant. They had no particular personalities to speak of, and were only ever described in terms of how well they pulled off whichever outfit they were wearing. Being familiar with Disney’s version of Jessica Rabbit, though, this wasn’t exactly surprising.
The resolution of one murder didn’t feel quite in keeping with the rest of the book (without giving too much away, it sort of introduced a new genre that hadn’t really been present up until then) but the second one was resolved in such a way that actually took me by surprise, but in a good way. It made perfect sense, but wasn’t what I was expecting.
There are two more books that follow this one, but from the sounds of it, they were cashing in on the success of the movie, and don’t do much justice to the first novel. While they sound a little interesting, I think I might quit while I’m ahead...more
This book moved along at a fairly steady pace, but it remained interesting the whole while. The characters were all well-constructed and while I don'tThis book moved along at a fairly steady pace, but it remained interesting the whole while. The characters were all well-constructed and while I don't know much about Ancient Egypt apart from the names if a few gods, the while thing felt authentic....more
I have read some of Ruth Nestvold’s books of short stories, but I have to admit it was a while ago. HOriginally posted at A Keyboard and an Open Mind
I have read some of Ruth Nestvold’s books of short stories, but I have to admit it was a while ago. However, when Ruth started sharing excerpts of Island of Glass on her blog for WIPpet Wednesdays, I became pretty excited to read it in its entirety. It did not disappoint.
Island of Glass is set in an alternate 17th century Venice, where alchemy won over chemistry and thus began the Age of Magic. Chiara Dragoni is a maestra glass maker in Murano and like all glass makers of the period, is forbidden to leave Venice, lest she share the secrets of glass making with the rest of Europe. When Chiara’s uncle is arrested after being caught on the mainland, Chiara comes up with a plan to bargain for his safety, but little does she realise how much her life is going to change thanks to one small gesture.
While it’s not entirely obvious from that brief summary, the story draws a lot of parallels with Cinderella, Most notably the glass slippers Chiara makes as a gift for the prince in exchange for her uncle’s freedom. However, do not expect to simply mad the name fairytale you already know, just in a different setting. The prince in this story is a complete slime bag, who made me shudder nearly every time he opened his mouth. He serves to make Chiara realise exactly where her heart lies, and pushes her to realise her deepest dreams.
Chiara herself is a strong, well rounded character; she works hard to get what she wants, but she is not infallible, and needs advice from friends and family members surrounding her. Her main love interest, Pasqual, does not actually play an enormous part in the story, but when he is there, he is quite charming, and also a character who has his own goals.
It is also quite clear that Ruth Nestuold has done her research into Venetian life at the time. While she has tweaked certain parts of history to suit her alternate world, much of it is based in our own history, and the world felt authentic as I read.
The end of this book left me cheering for Chiara and Pasqual, but also concerned for what might happen to them in future; the prince and his mother do not sound like ones to be crossed. l can’t wait to see what happens in Book 2!...more
I just realised I had posted my review in a comment, rather than in the actual review text box. AwkwarOriginally posted on A Keyboard and an Open Mind
I just realised I had posted my review in a comment, rather than in the actual review text box. Awkward. Here it is.
Griffin is the Chosen, probably the most important person on Earth, for she will be the one to choose whether Heaven or Hell gets to rule Earth for the next thousand millennia. If she doesn’t make her choice, the Apocalypse begins. Devils from Hell will do anything within their power to see that she doesn’t choose Heaven, but Griffin has Angels on her side, as well as a number of Warriors, humans dedicated to casting the creatures of Hell back to Earth.
I was little bit torn about what to rate this book at first, because while there were parts I quite liked, there were other parts I didn’t, and I wasn’t sure which way the balance tipped.
I honestly liked the plot, and it was the sound of it that made me offer to write a review in the first place. I’ve watched a bit of Supernatural and things like that (okay, I’ve watched five seasons of Supernatural, don’t judge me), but I haven’t read that many books that deal with these types of religious themes. There were lots of familiar aspects, such as salt and holy water repelling demons, but I liked Robinson’s incorporation of things like religious sites around the world. All too often, the Apocalypse seems to happen in the middle of the USA, or the UK/Western Europe, not really taking into account that Christianity is more far-reaching than that.
Having said that, I found that sometimes the structure got in the way of the storytelling. While I sympathised with Griffin whenever horrible things happened to her, the fact that we missed so much of her life in between the events the devil Alaria forced her through meant that it was sometimes hard really empathising properly. It was probably in the last third or so, in the immediate lead-up to the Choosing, that I was really able to get into her character and share her journey.
My other main criticism is the number of sex scenes, which was a lot. This is just a personal preference of course, but I’m not a huge fan of reading that kind of content. The first one or two were fine, the first was arguably even plot relevant, but after that it got a bit much. I also felt that Griffin and Braxton’s relationship happened a little too quickly – I can’t remember exactly how long they’d been in each other’s company at the time, but it didn’t feel very long, and given the prickly beginning to their partnership, it all seemed a bit fast.
My favourite character was Alaria. She had an interesting (tragic!) backstory, and a unique motivation. While she seemed somewhat repulsive in the beginning, once we started to learn her side of things, I began to sympathise with her most of all.
The preview chapter of the next book was actually enough of a teaser that I would be interested in picking up the second. Some of the characters from book 1 remain, while there will be new introductions as well. All in all, this was an enjoyable read....more
Quick disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
As with her 2013 novel, The Beloved Daughter, Alana Terry pulls no punches as she once again visits the topic of young women in North Korea. In Slave Again she focuses on human trafficking, and the situation faced by so many women who struggle to cross the border into China, only to end up in the sex industry.
While the book’s blurb only mentions one character, Mee-Kyong, the book really has more of an ensemble cast. Mee-Kyong has escaped from the prison camp she was born in, but she knows that once she reaches the border, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be fine from here on in. There is also the naive Sun, who believes she is going to find a job across the border to help her struggling family. There is her brother, who is trying to find her and bring her home. And there are also Juliette and Roger, American missionaries living in China and secretly assisting North Korean refugees.
The book is often violent and harrowing; even when events are not specifically described, it is easy to tell what was happening to these characters behind closed doors. Some characters die, and sometimes it will take you by surprise exactly who the author was willing to kill off.
Mee-Kyong and Sun’s stories were definitely the ones I had the most investment in. I really wanted to see them escape to some kind of freedom. Mee-Kyong’s outlook later on in the book, after she has met Roger and Juliette, is also very interesting and raises some deep questions, such as the real meaning of freedom.
I actually felt a bit uncomfortable about Roger and Juliette, not because they were Christian (I’m a Christian, so that didn’t bother me), but because they seemed to treat the refugees they took in more like pets or projects to be worked on, rather than real human beings. Maybe that was an intentional character trait given them by the author, but I wasn’t entirely sure.
That was really my only qualm, however. Alana Terry’s writing is wonderful and this book is truly an eye-opener. I gather Alana has another installment in this series already in the works, and I look forward to it as well....more
It’s no secret that I enjoy anything to do with traditional representations of Fey creatures. When I sOriginally posted at A Keyboard and an Open Mind
It’s no secret that I enjoy anything to do with traditional representations of Fey creatures. When I saw a bundle of 10 Fey-related stories for 99c, I snapped it up, figuring that even if I ended up only reading one of the stories in it, I’d still get my money’s worth.
The Dark Realm is the first of the Feylands trilogy, and is a clever blend of sci-fi and fantasy. In the future, complete immersion in virtual reality is how video games are played. Feylands is only in beta, but Jennett’s dad works for a top gaming company, so she’s able to access it early. When she loses a battle with the Dark Queen, her mortal essence is taken, and unless Jennett can find a champion to play the game through with her and win it back, her real life could be in danger.
Tam Lin lives in a poor, rough neighbourhood that he wishes he could escape. He cares for his mother and his little brother, often missing school because of these responsibilities. He uses gaming as an escape, having won a decent console in a competition. When Jennett sees Tam play, she knows he’s the person she needs to as act as her champion in Feyland, but first she has to convince him she’s not just a spoiled little rich girl and honestly does need his help.
The world-building and the plot are what made this story for an older reader like me. If it had been set in an every day high-school setting, I wouldn’t have had much interest. However, the contrasting descriptions of Jennet and Tam’s neighbourhoods, as well as the in-game descriptions of Feyland are what really drew me in. When aspects of the game started bleeding through into the real world, things started feeling really intense.
While I am yet to get around to reading the other two books in the series, I certainly intend to, as Tam and Jennett certainly aren’t out of danger yet. If you are familiar with the traditional ballad, “The Ballad of Tam Lin”, then the story will take on an added layer of meaning. I didn’t know of it until I read it at the back of this book, and I still enjoyed the story. Recommended!...more
Okay, I admit it, I am a sucker for baby dragons. Well, dragons of all sizes are awesome, buReview originally published at A Keyboard and an Open Mind
Okay, I admit it, I am a sucker for baby dragons. Well, dragons of all sizes are awesome, but there’s something about the way baby dragons tend to fall somewhere between a puppy and a kitten in terms of behaviour and are definitely just as cute that makes me want to flail my arms and go “Aww!”
This book is a quick, delightful little fantasy story, centering on Aubrey Goodknight, who discovers a mysterious book, “The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon-Keeping”, just when she is feeling most alone. Next thing she knows, she is hatching a dragon in her oven, and raising him while trying to keep his presence a secret.
Hugo, as she names him, is completely adorable, and I was continually “Aww!”-ing as I read. Aubrey was a well-rounded character herself, with equal amounts of insecurity and bravery when required. I also really enjoyed the character of Ben, Aubrey’s eventual boyfriend. He was just so far removed from usual romantic leads in novels: he wore glasses, was a bit dorky, and enjoyed LARP [Live Action Role Play] on weekends. Just as Aubrey is a Wanderer, it is revealed Ben is a “Believer”, which is just as important to Hugo’s growth and the future of dragons in general as the Wanderers are.
The mythology of the book is revealed at a nice pace, mostly through the texts of The Wanderer’s Guide, though towards the end, information is revealed through a few new characters. There are some intriguing bad guys that the reader is aware of for most of the story, though their motivations don’t become clear until later, which keeps up the suspense.
While I’m not 100% sure, I’m assuming that this is the first in a series, as there is still lots of the story to hear. I look forward to the next installment!...more