In a lot of ways I greatly enjoyed parts of this book. While I'm not a big mystery fan, I do go in for gothic atmospheric books and the dark undertone...moreIn a lot of ways I greatly enjoyed parts of this book. While I'm not a big mystery fan, I do go in for gothic atmospheric books and the dark undertones therein. Talkington sets the scene quite well - much better in hindsight then on first reading possibly. Things that Liv overlooks tend to stand out once you know the secret.
I was pleasantly surprised by the reveal of the secret and by the way it was handled. Talkington showed real talent in not only the slow build for the resolution, but also the inventiveness of her characters. Rules are firm and consistent. Its not surprising why it occurred, but its surprising how the origins came about.
My problem lay in the characters.
Eventually I enjoyed their interactions and their personalities, but a good chunk of the book I was waiting for something to happen. Liv, Malcolm and Gabe seemed to exist to inhabit their respective trope and push that trope to the max until Liv's death. Only then did they evolve and exhibit any traits that would make them interesting to the reader. And not coincidentally only then did I start to really care what happened to these kids.
Liv was just a little too out there for me. I've known some really artsy people--teens who didn't care about the established norms because their art always, always came first. Adults who have sacrificed every other connection in the world because of their talent. Kids who struggle to figure out whether their creativity is really worth alienating their peers. Liv is very much like them, but racketed up to an uncomfortable notch. I'm not sure if its because half her references go over my head so I had to struggle to understand some of her allegories or if Talkington overdid it in her intent to make Liv more then just a superficial artsy character.
Gabe and Malcolm started out fairly typical, but by the end I was happy to see that a bond had formed beyond their need to solve Liv's death. Its odd but as much as readers seem to complain about the lack of female friendships in YA, I can't name any male ones (especially none that don't become a love triangle).
I thought it was also clever of Talkington to write the "stories" of the other dead as their own separate "voice" and chapters. You can tell these folks apart very easily as they speak very differently fro Liv and from each other.
Overall I definitely recommend this for the mystery and caution patience. Its not a very long book (relatively speaking), so your patience is well rewarded.(less)
While I enjoyed the spy aspects of this book and certainly Ren became more interesting as the novel went on, I wasn't as keen on Shine's narrative sty...moreWhile I enjoyed the spy aspects of this book and certainly Ren became more interesting as the novel went on, I wasn't as keen on Shine's narrative style.
Spies, thieves and assassins - when I was a kid I ate fantasy books filled with these three as if they were going out of style. Which really it was unusual to find an age appropriate book with any of those professions being the main character. Now I toss a shoe and I'll land on at least four books in the young adult genre with any and all.
This was one of the books I picked up at ALA Midwinter this past January. I didn't go into the show thinking about this book, but the coverart (and the publisher rep) sold me on the idea. Told in a first person format, we follow Ren as she goes around doing shadowy things for a Shadowy group before she ultimately decides to ditch it all for what she feels is morally right. Or something akin to that.
The problem was that Ren had the most annoying tone ever conceived. She was part cocky, part snide, part obnoxious and topped with an undercurrent of poor me. Shine introduces us to Ren's present life by first having Ren tell us her backstory, THEN we get to what she's currently up to. Sort of. I got a little confused with the timing in the book as Ren would sometimes backtrack in her story with little warning.
Also as I was expecting an action type spy thriller paramilitary sort of book I wasn't as keen on the romance that budded all over the place. Romance with Junie, another operative and who is strictly off limits. Quasi-romance with Gareth, her charge to protect. Friction between the guys. Friction between Ren and the guys. Friction between the Shadowy Operation who doesn't want her close to either guy.
Honestly the book didn't need it. Why this incessant need to make a close bond between a guy and girl lead to romance? If Ren defied all things because she had a deep friendship with the guys, the plot would have gone just the same. Shadowy Operation would have STILL been against her forming ANY bond and used it against her. Shine didn't have me believing that the romance she felt for the guys was catalyst enough to make her question everything.
I found the idea of F.A.T.E. to be intriguing--awful way to recruit, but also horribly effective if you go by Junie and Ren. I've always been a moral grey area sort of girl when it came to my governments and espionage, so it makes sense to me that if such a thing was possible it would be exploited and used.
I definitely think this is a solid read if you're a fan of such things. And as history has shown my intolerance for certain narrative voices cough Blood Red Road cough is not usually the acknowledged opinion.(less)
When this was first introduced to me, my friend cited that because I enjoyed Leanna Renee Hieber's "Murder Most Foul" books, I'd really enjoy this one...moreWhen this was first introduced to me, my friend cited that because I enjoyed Leanna Renee Hieber's "Murder Most Foul" books, I'd really enjoy this one. I both agree and disagree with this assessment for a few reasons.
One, Hieber's books had an inherent undercurrent of hopefulness to them. Things got rough for all her characters, but you just knew things would work out in the end. In Sing Sweet Nightingale I was kind of uncertain about how things would end out for Mari. Up until I'd say the last third of the book I was convinced the girl was in for a long hard life and at some point in the second book Hudson would be able to help her.
Hudson seemed like a guy who would land on his feet, Mari was much more ephemeral. Partially because of the hold Orane had on her, but also because of what she allowed to happen. She didn't see the danger of the world--she was hopeful when really she should have been despairing.
Two, Hieber's books did not quite reach the level of gothic darkness that Cameron does. Less so with Hudson's chapters--you can feel his energy radiating from the pages. Mari's begin much quieter as she doesn't seem like someone in peril. Orane weaves a very particular web about her--pushing the right buttons, challenging the right ideas, balancing in a place that Mari doesn't see a threat from. Regardless of anything else he knows her because he has made a very thorough study of her and what would trigger the right responses.
As a reader we know from the backcover Orane is up to no good. I wish that wasn't so. I think if I had gone into the book not knowing that Orane was anything other then he appeared--no better or worse then any other paranormal guy running around in romances today--the gradual realization that Mari eventually comes to would have had more of an impact. Instead I'm impatient with her for not seeing some obvious (in hindsight) signs.
And lastly, while I cared about what happened to Hudson and Mari I had no real feelings for the other characters. Oh I wanted to see Orane fall, but I found myself uncaring towards the plight of anyone else.
Cameron crafts an intriguing world that definitely deserves a read. I'm interested to see where this goes in the next book, though I'm a bit wary now that certain spoiler related things came to pass. (less)
Guys...guys okay I forced myself to stay awake through a MIGRAINE to finish this book because OMG ALL THE LOVE.
My full review will be posted at my...moreGuys...guys okay I forced myself to stay awake through a MIGRAINE to finish this book because OMG ALL THE LOVE.
My full review will be posted at my blog on 2/21 for the blog tour however let me just leave you with a top 5 list of why this is one of the best books I've read this year:
1) Medusa ("Dusa") is a vibrant, well-adjusted (considering her circumstances) young woman who doesn't angst endlessly about the tortures of her life. Though she acts the victim at first, she eventually realizes that crap has to end and takes charge of her future.
2) Hermes has his secrets, but only once does he not ask for Medusa's permission before upending her life (and he does it because she's not acting in her best self-interests). He also apologizes profusely and from that point on makes it a point to ask her.
3) Love is not always the answer, but it can be the answer if you work for it. Love doesn't instantly make ANYONE'S life better in this book, but for those who use that love as a way to make their life and those around them lives better, its the most precious thing of all.
4) All the mythology you can shake a stick at, but not quite what you may have learned from Bulfinch's or Edith Hamilton.
5) Jocko is awesome. I won't say who he is to the story, but gosh he was one of my favorite iterations yet.
So there you have it. What more do you need?(less)
In Fisher's first book, GHOST PLANET, I had a few qualms with the narrative style. It was rather confusing honestly. I'm happy to say that this second...moreIn Fisher's first book, GHOST PLANET, I had a few qualms with the narrative style. It was rather confusing honestly. I'm happy to say that this second book, not related to GHOST PLANET, kept me riveted to my Kindle (of which I read the e-ARC on).
The premise is pretty simple - humans f'ed up by creating a race of beings to be their second class and it turned out very very badly. For everyone. For the "Manti" (which is really a short form of anyone with mutagens basically...yes we managed to be even more offensive towards our creations by labeling them all the 'same') it sort of worked out. Kind of. For the humans...well...they live in gilded cages. Or hunted. Or they disappear. Really the options aren't so great in the beginning (they get moderately better sounding towards the latter half).
We open to both our heroine (Ash) and our Hero (Pax) waking up on the shore of an offlimits lake. Ash is dressed in a flimsy dress and Pax is naked having at some point gone into defensive mode. Neither remembers how they got there, why they are there, why Pax was in defensive mode, why Ash is in a flimsy dress outside the confines of her city or why they're anywhere near each other. Unfortunately for Pax his mating instincts kick into overdrive with Ash, but he does everything short of putting himself inside of a cage to keep her safe from his...courting shall we say.
Which I'll give Fisher credit, even though Pax is very very keen to get with Ash he is also very very keen to gain her trust, help her recover her memory, keep her safe and untangle the web they're in. So while his body (which is part insect) is urging him to make her his, his mind (and heart) are like OMG STOP. TELL THE SHIP TO SHOOT YOU IF YOU TRY.
There's a lot packed into this book--we have the memory issues, the truth of what lies between the Manti and the humans, the rebel faction, the religious faction, the religious rebel faction, Ash and Pax's...relationship and the truth above all truths. While I found some of it a bit repetitive and the truth behind Ash's memory loss to be a bit of an eyeroll handwave, I genuinely was interested to know what was going on. I wanted to see where the whole thing with Pax was going, what was going to happen with his sister, why it was so damned important for Ash to risk everything on a gamble that could have turned out badly (spoiler: she has 9 lives, I swear it).
I was also genuinely pleased with how Fisher handled Pax and Ash's evolution towards their trust. It felt organic and well paced, with only a little bit of impatience with Pax on my end (his urge to mate with Ash had him making...tactically unsound decisions at times, but it was all right, his sister was there to hit him upside his head for it).
Definitely give this a shot, fans of Linnea Sinclair especially will enjoy this.(less)
Just to lay this out there - its always the good ones who suffer. Its always the good ones who have to sacrifice for another's adventure.
Starting THE...moreJust to lay this out there - its always the good ones who suffer. Its always the good ones who have to sacrifice for another's adventure.
Starting THE GLASS CASKET it was, to be blunt, not entirely engaging. It had an interesting premise, and I certainly enjoyed the fairy tale-esque vibe, but not a whole lot happened. The soldiers died, the village was troubled, mysterious people showed up...by in large we followed Rowan who was only mildly interested in the mystery. Rowan wanted to make something of herself by way of being a scholar and while she spent as much time running around with her friend Tom as she did studying, she had very little interest outside of her life.
Until about page 100 or so it was a whole lot of daily to do'ing going on with very little driving me to keep reading. Tom was your basic "good boy" (so good that everyone kept saying that about him. If I read "You've always been such a good boy Tom" once I read it a thousand times) with insta-love complex, Fiona Eira was so beautiful it hurt to look at her, but she's also insecure and terribly uncertain of things, Rowan wants to be a scholar and wants to never marry, Jude is...sardonic and sarcastic and seems to know things....
And then page 100 happens and suddenly BAM the story decides it needs to actually start itself.
Templeman does weave a good tense horror book. The deaths that occur are, as Rowan at one point reflects, only connected by their manner and even that is suspect as the soldier died only superficially like the others (that superficially part being that it was gruesome). It took me much longer to catch on then I liked, but I applaud Templeman for weaving in the Greywitches (which sound as like Baba Yaga in many ways) without beating that plot point home. I suggest you pay attention to the subtle clues throughout, which the characters more then happily give you, but as rather insignificantly mentioned at times.
There's a couple mysteries to unravel and not all of them unravel in pleasant ways. There's something to be said about self-fulfilling prophecy in this book, as well knowing when to listen.
The romance...its also not a terribly fluffy cuddly thing. Love is used almost as a weapon here, with several characters claiming to be doing horrendous things for love. Templeman got me the most with the pain. Rowan bewildered and trying to remind herself that reality is reality and some things will never happen again. Or Tom, poor good Tom trying desperately to make sense of his feelings even as he admits to Rowan, his oldest and best friend, that they can't possibly be right. These are things that caught me.
The ending is open-ended insofar as Rowan's future holds, so Templeman could continue her adventure, or it could end with this book and its tragedies and its small comforts. In the end the reader has to decide whether they are more like Tom or more Rowan...and whether that is a good thing or not.(less)
When I was younger I read a book that was set in far ago Ireland. I don't remember the title exactly, but what I remember best is that the author had...moreWhen I was younger I read a book that was set in far ago Ireland. I don't remember the title exactly, but what I remember best is that the author had immersed me in the culture of ancient Ireland so much that when I finally finished the book I had completely forgotten the story itself. All that remained was the land and its people and its culture. THE GHOST BRIDE is very much like this. I went into the story very intrigued by the notion of a "Ghost Bride". I am interested in Asian culture in general, but the "Ghost Bride" aspect is not one that I've encountered that often before (it was part of a TV series I watched a long time ago called "Restless", which I believe was actually a Thai show).
Choo's writing is beautiful, there are no other words for it. The strength of her words are evident in the depiction of Li Lan's genteel poverty versus how her potential "husband"s family, the Lim Family, live and later in the quasi-afterlife that Li Lan fights for her freedom in.
This is a book steeped in traditions, values, hopes and dreams that I was fascinated by. Li Lan's father, an opium addict who cares a great deal for his daughter, but more for his addictive lifestyle, makes it clear from the beginning that its Li Lan's choice. Even though it would be better, for them both, financially if she accepted the Lim's offer, he wanted her to understand what it would mean. What she was giving up (love, children, a living breathing husband) vs. what she would gain (roof over her head, fine clothes, a place in society).
Li Lan, having been sheltered and had very little contact with anyone who wasn't her father or her Amah (nursemaid), accepts an offer from the Lim Family to visit their estate. Curious she goes, but very quickly she figure outs what being the Lims' dead son Tian Ching "Ghost Bride" would mean. Her ghostly spouse's personality is abusive, juvenile and sadistic. Increasingly so as she refuses to play his games. Not aiding the issue is Tian Bai, Tian Ching's cousin. A harmless guy, Li Lan falls for him (I would to if my other choice was Tian Ching) and angsts, endlessly, about how it can never be.
I'll be honest I could have done without THAT particular side plot. It makes sense for her to have developed a crush on him, and even to a certain extent that she is so dramatic about it (sheltered + being 17 + hopeless situation + sadistic ghostly haunting = drama is okay). I just rather wish when things really started going badly for her, she could have been a bit more proactive. It sounds strange to say, considering the limited amount of freedom women had in the world in general during that time period, but Li Lan was a more proactive individual. Not like "Feminism, Equality of Genders, Women's Rights" proactive, but she used what resources were available to her to find answers.
In the quasi-afterlife world that Li Lan increasingly found herself in (through the machinations of Tian Ching and her own explorations) Choo focuses a lot of her writing talent in making the the world immersive and "real" to the reader. Rather then feel like a tourist in some foreign country, I felt as if I was exploring and living as Li Lan did. The atmosphere and the tone of Choo's writing invited me to come be part of the Chinese version of heaven of and hell (which strictly from a non-religious standpoint, sounds so cool).
Some plot points are more predictable then others (the "mysterious stranger" for instance), and the story moves at its own pace, which might be too slow of a burn for most people. There isn't any "action" persay, moments of excitement and suspense and exhilieration, moments that will keep your heart pumping for sure. The various ways the book could have ended for Li Lan are numerous, made moreso by the many many plot lines that tie into one and other.
If you're looking for something that is outside the norm for historical fiction, with elements of fantasy and boatloads of culture, I highly recommend this novel. (less)
Okay guys I'm going to have a really unpopular opinion right now and don't burn me at the stake for it.
I love Armentrout. Which is to say--her Lux boo...moreOkay guys I'm going to have a really unpopular opinion right now and don't burn me at the stake for it.
I love Armentrout. Which is to say--her Lux books are enjoyable, fast paced thrill rides. They are the perfect "I need something to reaffirm why I enjoy reading" books because (by in large) Armentrout makes me feel for the characters. They're not Jane Austen nor are they Anne McCaffrey, they are however books that draw readers in and (for the most part) feature characters who make mistakes and learn their consequences, but don't give up.
Armentrout as a person has--from the few times I've met/talked with her and the stories I've heard--come across as a wonderful, warm and inviting author.
What I've found, when reading any books not set in the Lux universe that she's written, is that I just can't get into the premise/characters. It doesn't matter if its one of her young adult paranormals, her adult contemporaries or her urban fantasies--they just don't grab me. WHITE HOT KISS however seemed on track to break that curse. I like Gargoyles. I really do. I loved the TV show and way back when I first read The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury I liked that character the best.
I found however that while Layla and Roth and Zayne were all rather interesting separate from each other, together I wanted to murder the lot of them. In a rare fit of "nonono" I don't want any romance. None. I found myself getting frustrated with Layla. Yes its great that Roth being demon means she can make out with him. Yes its wonderful that he is willing, very willing, to let her use him (essentially). Oh it sucks for Zayne who is so conflicted. I could give a flying monkey for it all.
When Layla was the best was when she was either telling them to behave like the respectable Warden and Demon that they were and get their heads in the game. When she was fighting her hardest to come to terms with her dual nature and finding some balance so she can feel accepted. Her vulnerable moments when its all gets so frustrating and her excited moments when she figures something out.
Layla who wanted a self that could belong was the Layla I related to.
Layla who was conflicted about her attraction to the guy she shouldn't want, but can have kissy-face with and the guy she shouldn't want and can't have kissy-face with but hits all her emotional buttons...that Layla bored me.
The ending, which I won't spoil here, interested me in that it represented a problem. Emotionally speaking if Armentrout had made this a one or two book series and did the virtually unheard of in YA fiction thing by letting lying dogs stay down, then either a) dealt with the consequences of that in book 2 or b) made it clear that Layla would dedicate herself to honoring what happened, but not ANGST over it...I would have reacted differently.
As it stands I'm sort of like 'smh no no no' I am not a fan of drawn out triangles. Especially if there are good points and bad points to being with either guy. And in YA paranormal fiction its gotten to the point where you can't have a romance without it. At least in the traditionally published books. Not so traditionally published authors are more then happy to murder their darlings in order to make it clear that romance is not the end all of life.
So as I said, unpopular opinion is mine (its worth noting there was no real "triangle" in the Lux books - Katy and Daemon were pretty much solid city even with the brief book 2 sort of wannabe suitor.) I'm sure this appeals to her fans and will bring in a whole cascade of new readers (maybe this will enable her to write more Arum books...). It just unfortunately did not work for me.(less)
First a warning - this is a violent, gore fest more often then not. Bigby isn't a subtle man to begin with and these folks pissed him off something ba...moreFirst a warning - this is a violent, gore fest more often then not. Bigby isn't a subtle man to begin with and these folks pissed him off something bad and he let's loose on them. Also there is a lot of nudity running around these pages. Male and female. I wouldn't call it explicit persay--girls are obviously girls, guys are obviously guys, but its pretty clinical overall.
FABLES remains one of my favorite comics and barring something slipshod editor deciding to butcher it, that's not likely to change. I've looked forward to this book for a long time mainly because Bigby is my favorite character, bar none (save Snow White and Cinderella), and it promised to give us a bit of back story on the man behind the wolf. In that it didn't disappoint. Bigby has spoken of his time in WWII, when he helped out the Allies (unofficially) to stop the encroachment of the Nazis, but in this he reveals just what he did exactly.
The art isn't anything to write home about, its not up to the usual standards of the comic and part of that may be because most of the story arcs had one artistic team (inkers, layout, pencils) throughout. WEREWOLVES has numerous inkers and in a comic book that can really fudge up the artwork. From a reader's perspective, it made folk hard to tell apart (I kept mixing up Diana and Oda, or Alwin and Carl for instance, which in turn confused me as all four had separate agendas more or less). The werewolves, whether intentionally or not, were all colored basically the same so even though Bigby was going through them wholesale at one point, I had no idea who was dead and who was not.
Story wise this was an interesting conundrum for Bigby. He kind of helped create the mess and was at a loss as to how to finish it. Technically no one in that town is a true Fabletown resident. None of them came from the Homelands, or were born from parents who fled the Homelands (such as Snow and Bigby's children), and thus the charter didn't cover them. On the other hand they weren't exactly Mundys (humans). He basically let it play out, hoping for a graceful outcome, but knowing the outcome would be far worse then anything he wanted to find.
A word to Oda, she tried to seduce Bigby (for what reason is never quite explained, we really only have Bigby's own guess) and he turned her down flat. If she goes prancing off to Fabletown and mentions such a thing to anyone (even in jest), Snow will find out and Snow will put a silver bullet in her chest before Bigby can so much as blink. And I will pay good money to see that.(less)
This was different from what I expected. Part of it I think is because most YA Paranormal I read tends to have romance as well and usually as a strong...moreThis was different from what I expected. Part of it I think is because most YA Paranormal I read tends to have romance as well and usually as a strong part of the storyline. This didn't. This was definitely more interested in exploring Mia's new surroundings, her family and the world she was now thrust in as a Demon Catcher.
I felt most enthralled in this book when Mia would go into lengthy descriptions or discussions about Milan and the history therein. Beyer's attention to detail whether discussing the everyday mannerisms of the Della Torre family or the horrors that Italian Jews faced during World War II had the same dedicated feeling. Beyer obviously felt deeply for her subject matter and that shines throughout her writing.
Of less interest to me was the actual demon hunting. When I hear 'demon hunting' I immediately think of either Buffy or the Winchester brothers--butt kicking heroes who attacked the vicious citizens of the Underworld with sword, fire and crossbow. I did not think bells. Or candles. The demon hunting part was anti-climatic and not quite as tense as I think Beyer wanted. Interesting at first, but anti-climatic.
I'm kind of split on this book. THE BAR CODE TATTOO, originally published 8 years ago (when I was just 20), was one of the few young adults novels I p...moreI'm kind of split on this book. THE BAR CODE TATTOO, originally published 8 years ago (when I was just 20), was one of the few young adults novels I picked up before the upsurge in the market. At the time it had been years since I read any other then the fantasies of Tamora Pierce, but Suzanne Weyn wrote titles in a bunch of Publisher Series I enjoyed and the cover was striking. I really enjoyed it.
Its sequel, THE BAR CODE REBELLION, published in 2006 didn't quite peak my interest as much, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit (though I admit the bird-DNA splicing had me smacking my head a lot). I didn't know Weyn was planning on another book. In fact I only found out at this past Book Expo when I saw it being featured at the Scholastic Booth! I was a bit iffy on it, since other then some ambiguous 'The fight must go on!' vibes I got from the second book I didn't remember it not being tied up pretty well.
I want to say now I purposely didn't go back and re-read the first two books because I wanted to see how much I remembered (good news is I remembered a lot of the more important details).
On one level its vastly interesting to see that Global 1 just can't help itself and continues to be scum-suckers. Its also nice to see how things ended up for Kayla, Mfumbe and the Decode movement. However maybe because I'm older now, I'm kind of looking at this whole thing and saying 'Wait...no wait a second.' Some of the logic doesn't hold up, nor does some of the science and certainly none of the believability.
Weyn jumps from point to point to point at a break-neck speed with little care for transitioning. Which I probably wouldn't have had an issue with if it didn't mean it left a lot to be desired in terms of understanding the plot and characters. Grace is...kind of fleshed out, with Eric getting the runner up position, but everyone else is pretty much dependent on how much the reader either a) remembers from the first two books or b) cares to read between the lines.(less)