Afterworlds is two stories rolled into one, told in alternating chapters. In the first story, Darcy Patel just graduated high school and she's managed...moreAfterworlds is two stories rolled into one, told in alternating chapters. In the first story, Darcy Patel just graduated high school and she's managed to land a literary agent, a huge book deal from a New York publishing house and enough life changes to make anyone's head spin. Determined to be a 'real' writer, Darcy moves to New York, leaps into the literary scene and struggles to figure out who she is as a person and a writer. In the second story, Darcy's soon-to-be-published novel, 17-year-old Lizzie survives a terrorist attack by playing dead so convincingly that she falls into the afterlife and meets a hot Vedic death god. When Lizzie returns to the world of the living she discovers that she can see ghosts and that everything about her life has changed. Torn between her mom & friends on one side and the call of the hot Vedic death god on the other, Lizzie tries to get her life in order.
This book is a perfect example of meta-fiction (fiction ABOUT fiction). It's basically a very long and tongue-in-cheek ode to the YA writing community, the book publishing industry, the YA reading community and life as a young New Yorker. It's one part satire, one part love note to an industry Westerfeld has been entrenched in for years and one part literary romp. I loved it, but then I'm a bit biased as I love most of Westerfeld's books.
Unsurprisingly, the book has drawn some harsh reviews and some pissed off people. I figure those people probably haven't spent much time in YA land wallowing amid the books, following authors on Twitter, YouTube, at conferences and book signings. Their loss. For anyone who has, you will recognize aspects of your favorite YA authors in these pages and get a fascinating glimpse at one aspect of the publishing industry.
That isn't to say this book is perfect. Because there are definitely a few issues, but they're minor. A few reviewers are howling about how unrealistic Darcy's story is, in regard to her publishing experience. That is a legitimate gripe. I attending a book talk by Westerfeld just after Afterworlds came out and he said that he and his friends know young authors like this who get fabulous book deals. He also told another attendee that it's not that hard to get a literary agent. Here's the thing guys, Westerfeld and his friends, at this point, are like YA royalty. They're part of a group of highly successful authors and they've been publishing for years. The book market today is lightyears different than it was just five years ago even. I am certain that the young authors Westerfeld meets, and therefor partially based his book on, do get fabulous crazy deals, but he's meeting them because they are the outlyers and not the typical author who gets a book deal these days.
The hard truth is, getting a literary agent is tough and it takes luck, talent and persistence. Six figure book deals use to be, if not common, then at least not scarcer than hen's teeth in the literary world for a debut author. These days, however, most authors have day jobs and don't earn enough from their writing to write full time. A $15,000 advance is far more realistic than a $300,000 advance. However, as I said, their are always exceptions and Darcy is one of those - she gets lucky, basically.
On the one hand, I think that Afterworlds may encourage a lot of young writers and that's never a bad thing. On the other hand, I have a feeling it's going to create some unrealistic expectations among those same young writers. But in the end, this book is fiction after all and as far as I'm concerned it accomplished it's main goal: it entertained, enthralled and dragged me into another world. Two of them as a matter of fact. I'm not complaining about the journey.(less)
The latest installment of the Jane Yellowrock books has Jane caught up in preparations for the European vamps unprecedented arrival in New Orleans. As...moreThe latest installment of the Jane Yellowrock books has Jane caught up in preparations for the European vamps unprecedented arrival in New Orleans. As Leo's main enforcer Jane has a lot to shoulder and long-time flame Rick is out of the picture, for good it seems, but George Dumas, Leo's former right-hand man, is more than ready to step in and sweep Jane off her feet. Juggling her feelings for George, the murderous plans of a pair of ancient and terrifying vamps & their blood servant (charmingly nicknamed Satan's Three) & several strange encounters with a rainbow, light dragon that's seemingly out to get her - Jane doesn't have a moment to rest.
Just as fast-paced, fun and engaging as the rest of the series thus far, Broken Soul does not disappoint. I was hooked every moment of the book and finished it far too quickly. Clearly Jane's adventures aren't over and I'm so glad there's more to come. This remains one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series and Hunter has yet to deliver anything other than an enthralling read. (less)
When Adam's ex-wife, Christy, shows up and insists on moving in, it becomes clear pretty fast that she wants to replace Mercy and come back to the pac...moreWhen Adam's ex-wife, Christy, shows up and insists on moving in, it becomes clear pretty fast that she wants to replace Mercy and come back to the pack. Unfortunately Christy's also got a psycho ex-boyfriend after her and worse still, he seems to be some sort of super-powerful supernat Mercy and pack have never encountered before. Bodies are piling up and the pack is in trouble as Mercy and Adam try to track down the bad guy and keep Christy from splintering the pack with her usual dose of drama.
Another fantastic addition to the Mercy Thompson series. There's a lot of action, some nice twists and a few more details about Mercy's past offered up. Christy's presence was a nice, unexpected complication. I love how Briggs keeps the story interesting even though the main love interests, Adam and Mercy, have gotten together. They say in TV and often in books, when the love interests FINALLY get together it's a death knell for the series. This book certainly proves that wrong for the Mercy Thompson series. I'm just as in love with the series now as I was when I first read Moon Called and there is nothing to disappoint in Night Broken. (less)
Kara was summoned against her will into the Demon world and now has to fight for her life, all while trying to figure out who to trust.
I hated this bo...moreKara was summoned against her will into the Demon world and now has to fight for her life, all while trying to figure out who to trust.
I hated this book. Hated. I really enjoyed the other books in the series so my disappointment with this one was fairly epic. The aspect that appealed to me most about the first several books in the series was the supernatural cop angle - that gets completely thrown out in this one. Moreover I just wanted to slap Kara so many times. She's a mostly passive, wishy-washy, whiny victim who allows herself to be manipulated and abused. She'll basically screw anything with legs and has the self-preservation instincts of a suicidal lemming. I forced myself to finish the book, praying it would get better. It didn't. The plot was painfully slow and tiresome. The big reveals (of which there were few) were tepid at best and not enough to keep my interest.
(view spoiler)[I've always had a problem with Kara being interested in Ryan and yet perfectly willing to screw a demon at the same time. I'm all for female empowerment but I'd be just as thoroughly disgusted with a male character who did this. If you are in love with someone, or falling in love with someone, you don't have a F***-buddy(a term freely used in the series) on the side. It's like a huge moral black-hole. Moreover- initially Mzatal is set up as a persecutor, then he flips heavily into a father-figure. That relationship is definitely painted that way, but wait no - because in the end Kara has to screw Mzatal as well and it's all good because hey Ryan would understand if he was in his demon lord guise. Arghhhhhh! I hate this so much. (hide spoiler)]
Female empowerment is not synonymous with becoming a slut. That, more than all the other crap in this book, pissed me off the most. Complete sub-genre shift aside (goodbye Urban Fantasy, hello High Fantasy) the main characters fell apart and the plot went to hell. I am done with this series and won't read any future books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In the second Kara Gillian book something is stealing the essences of people and killing them. At first, Kara is afraid the essence stealer is a demon...moreIn the second Kara Gillian book something is stealing the essences of people and killing them. At first, Kara is afraid the essence stealer is a demon she's responsible for bringing over into this realm. But as more bodies turn up she begins to see a disturbing pattern emerging. Barely back at work a week after her medical leave following the Symbol Man case, Kara is plunged back into the world of the arcane and a political hot-mess unrolling in Bealac. To complicate matters Lord Rhyzkahl is back and propositioning Kara to become is summoner, a role she's not sure she wants to take on.
Another fun, fast read filled with nice twists, lovely world building and a cast of characters that I'm happy to spend time with. At times I want to smack Kara upside the head, especially in regards to Special Agent Ryan Kristoff and in her dealings with Rhyzkahl. The demon lord is rather ambivalent and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to like him or not - but perhaps that's because Kara feels the same and the book is from her perspective after all. I like that the relationships are drawn out a bit more in this book and it's not a straight up sexcapade read. The paranormal detective aspect is what appeals to me most and that's the part that delivers the most punch. I rather dread the coming love triangle with Rhyzkahl and Kristoff, which was patently obvious in the first novel and more so in this one, but at least it's developing slowly. I also like that Kara has a strong code of honor, stays true to herself for the most part and isn't a drop-dead-gorgeous amazing kick-ass heroine - she's flawed and normal, a bit pudgy until she stops eating from stress and while she does kick-ass it's with abilities that she earns and hones and not just because that's the way the author has decreed it with nothing in her background backing it up. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading the next book. Probably some time this week - because I lack self control when it comes to a good read.(less)
The Taylors have been witches as far back as anyone can remember and they are the creme da la creme of Savannah magic society. Unfortunately, Mercy Ta...moreThe Taylors have been witches as far back as anyone can remember and they are the creme da la creme of Savannah magic society. Unfortunately, Mercy Taylor is a magical dud without a lick of magic at all. Her twin sister Maisie on the other hand got an extra huge helping of magical mojo and is the princess of the family - beautiful, talented and almost everyone's favorite. It's been that way since Mercy was a baby and she's use to her sister getting all the attention, she loves her sister and doesn't begrudge her the limelight. But she does lust after her sister's fiance. Ashamed of her feelings, Mercy turns to an infamous hoodoo root doctor - Mother Jilo, begging for a spell that will make Mercy love her best friend Peter and end her feelings for Jackson, her sister's intended. That one little spells sets of a chain of events that throws Mercy's entire world into turmoil, beginning most notably with the murder of her Great Aunt Ginny.
There's a ton of world building backed into this book with loving descriptions and lots of attention to a handful of characters. While the plot is fairly interesting and kept my attention I did feel like it dragged a little in the middle. More-over, while some characters were well fleshed out and fully detailed, others felt like thin caricatures without much detail - Jackson and Peter for example. Both are important character and yet they have little character development and don't really stand out. Overall it was an interesting book and yet just too drawn out. I probably won't continue with the series.
I have a couple of major pet peeves: (view spoiler)[First Maise's abrupt character reversal felt completely out of left field and unnatural. There were no hints early in the book that she was anything other than a loving sister so for her to abruptly turn out to be a villain felt contrived. Furthermore - the twist with Jackson turning out to be Ren was also completely out of left field with no earlier support in the book and contrived. The major plot twist, that Mercy was actually a powerful witch who's power was stolen, was predictable (or at least I had guessed that would happen halfway into the book). My only surprise was in who killed Ginny and that was cheapened by Ren turning out to be Jackson. Also the entire explanation that Mercy was in love with Jackson because he'd been absorbing her magic and part of her recognized that in him - that made me wince. So basically she's in love with him because she's in love with herself. Meh. The pregnancy bit at the end felt contrived as well and didn't seem to serve any real purpose. Mercy's sudden realization, literally in the very last moments of hte book, that she did love Peter also felt contrived and way, way too late. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, excellent world building, inconsistent characters and a plot the limps along for most of the story. Despite my gripes I am sure that many urban fantasy readers will enjoy this series. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Sixteen-year-old Kate discovers that she carries a gene that allows her to time travel and that her grandmother is actually from the future, stuck in...moreSixteen-year-old Kate discovers that she carries a gene that allows her to time travel and that her grandmother is actually from the future, stuck in Kate's present, and trying desperately to stop a sinister religious organization from destroying the world. When time shifts and Kate loses her family in one awful moment, she has to travel back in time to try to set things right.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The time paradoxes were minimal and it's a well thought out and crafted story. Filled with likable characters, interesting issues and a healthy dose of action and adventure it was a fun read. I really liked the different characters and Kate as well. While Kate's relationship with Trey felt a trifle rushed, it was still an important aspect of the story and added that oh so popular dual love interest layer that today's YA seems riddled with. I admit I'm rooting for Kiernan, though I seriously doubt there's any way that particular relationship will work out. I will definitely be reading the second book whenever it comes out.(less)
It's hard to believe I made it this far in life without reading this ubiquitous children's book. I was surprised at how many things were different fro...moreIt's hard to believe I made it this far in life without reading this ubiquitous children's book. I was surprised at how many things were different from the movie and how many were the same. The famous ruby slippers were actually silver. I think I prefer the movie version of those slippers.
The version of this book I listened to was narrated by Anne Hathaway. She did a wide range of voices and is a credible narrator. However, some of the accents she chose were a bit mind-boggling. By the end I found the narration too distracting from the story. Especially as the guard to the Emerald City sounded like Looney Tunes Sylvester with an even worse speech impediment. And the California valley girl accent used at one point - definite WTF, moment.
As for the story itself, it's a children's story and so I'm not looking for much deeper in the narrative. All the same, little things did niggle at me. Weren't Dorothy's aunt and uncle a little concerned their house was missing? Where the heck were they living while she was in Oz? And the wicked witch sends out her wolves FIRST? And then falls back on crows and then bees? Seriously, she needs a better arsenal of hench-creatures. No wonder she was so easily defeated. I wasn't attached to any of the characters in the story overall. It was an interesting read, but not one that I feel the need to revisit.(less)
For fans of Doctor Who this collection of eleven stories offers the perfect blend of excellent writers and excellent stories. Like most collections th...moreFor fans of Doctor Who this collection of eleven stories offers the perfect blend of excellent writers and excellent stories. Like most collections there are a few stories that lag behind the others a bit, but each is true to the doctor it features. If you love Doctor Who definitely give the stories a read.(less)
A collection of 13 short stories from the Jane Yellowrock series, including several new stories and several previously published pieces. I love all of...moreA collection of 13 short stories from the Jane Yellowrock series, including several new stories and several previously published pieces. I love all of them, though the new ones were obviously my favorites. This is the first time I've read stories from a perspective other than Jane's so that was an interesting take. Fans of the Jane Yellowrock books will love this collection and won't be disappointed. People who are new to the series should start with the books first, so they are well grounded in the characters and world before diving in to the short stories as you'll enjoy them more. A fun, fast read and just the perfect pre-holiday treat. (less)
Kate, Micheal and Emma Wibberly continue their adventures in search of the fabled Books of Beginning. While Kate now posses the Emerald Atlas, the chi...moreKate, Micheal and Emma Wibberly continue their adventures in search of the fabled Books of Beginning. While Kate now posses the Emerald Atlas, the children are in even greater danger from the Dire Magnus and his minions. When Kate is sucked back in time to turn-of-the-century New York, Michael and Emma embark on a quest for the second Book of Beginning, the Book of Life or Fire Chronicle, in order to rescue their sister.
This second book is filled with action, humor and the excellent writing I fell in love with in the Emerald Atlas. Stephens' whimsical characters and imaginative world building suck me right in and I just loved every page. I found the story line with Kate and Rafe fairly predictable but it didn't stop me from rooting for the two of them. Despite the book having dual stories going (Kate in New York, Michael & Emma pretty much all over) this was really Michael's story and he's the one who shows the most character growth. Occasionally petty and immature, Michael's a bit all over the place in the beginning of the book. By the end, however, he's grown up a lot and embraced his role in wielding the Fire Chronicle. This is such a lush and fun book, perfect for fantasy loves, reluctant readers, and children of all ages who like a good story.
I know a lot of people compare this series to the Harry Potter series in an unflattering light and claim it's derivative, however I think the books stand on their own. There are certain children's fantasy archetypes that are very prevalent in this sort of book and the series does use them. The mark of a good writer is making those tropes and archetypes their own and putting a fresh spin on them. I believe Stephens has done that. Pym is not Dumbledore, though he does fit the wise mentor archetype. The Dire Magnus is not Voldemort, though he does fit the classic villain mode. Calling these books derivative denigrates the time and effort Stephens put into building his world and his characters. I find the series wholly delightful and have nothing bad to say. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.(less)
In her second adventure, foundling Jennifer Strange must win a wizards' challenge to save the magical company she manages, protect the freedom of magi...moreIn her second adventure, foundling Jennifer Strange must win a wizards' challenge to save the magical company she manages, protect the freedom of magic and prevent a despot from gaining unlimited power. Sounds easy enough - except everything keeps going wrong. The Kazam wizards, one after another, are out of commission, the corrupt king & his cronies are rigging the contest against Kazam and a strange quark beast is on the loose and in danger of being captured by a scruple-less hunter.
A fun, crazy read with lots of strange twists. Fforde is clearly having fun with this series and indulging his love for the absurd. While the plot dragged a tiny bit, particularly in the first third of the book, overall it's an engaging read. This is the sort of story that will make you smile with all the quirky little details packed inside. Recommended for anyone who loved the first book, Fforde's Thursday Next series, or satirical writing in general. (less)