starts off as eye-rollingly silly as the blurb makes it sound, but manages to very quickly get right on track as a snappy-paced swashbuckler of a UF/a...morestarts off as eye-rollingly silly as the blurb makes it sound, but manages to very quickly get right on track as a snappy-paced swashbuckler of a UF/alternate history. massive bonus points for having both male and female main characters be actual well-rounded characters, not just stock-issued love interests or generic ass kickers.
random PSA for the day: this is SO not steampunk, guys. they may be wearing corsets and outdated fashion for the whims of their centuries-old undead monarch, but they have cell phones and cars, not dirigibles and clockwork.(less)
the world here is all kinds of interesting - there are hints that it's a sort of alternate-history, that it takes place in an america of feral shapeshifters, where civilization as we know it never really happened. the social interactions of various flavors of non-humans is likewise interesting, and best of all, we get the suggestions of barracks of enslaved human prophets that can see the future within their own blood, sold to the highest bidder.
but the characters, GAH! we're told repeatedly that all the shapeshifters are dark and ominous and rule the earth like kings crushing puny humans beneath their heels...and this story is about the monsters tenderly protecting their stray lamb of an innocent girl. it's far too much like the set-up for a cheez romance novel wherein the male lead is a Bad Boy (tm) who becomes good only for his true luv. thankfully, this book doesn't veer into romance territory, but even worse, it doesn't richly explore a whole lot of the actually very interesting things it sets up. ultimately, therefore, a bit bland and a bit frustrating.(less)
Tara was a talented student of magic until she managed to simultaneously graduate and get kicked out of the hidden schools. living back home with mom...moreTara was a talented student of magic until she managed to simultaneously graduate and get kicked out of the hidden schools. living back home with mom & dad just isn't going to work out, but fortunately an opportunity to work with a very prestigious firm opens up when the god of a foreign city dies under mysterious circumstances.
after reading some fairly mediocre stuff on airplanes lately, i was hoping for a comfort-food-type actioner UF thingy, and got this twisty little mystery instead. i was caught up in the story right from the prologue (read those few pages as a sample, they're very representative of what you're in for), and thoroughly enjoyed it. throughout the first 1/3 of the book, Gladstone tosses in shiny little gems of ideas, seemingly as brief gee-whiz moments, only to pick them back up as more developed plot threads several chapters later. in this way, you're steadily braided into the rich worldbuilding, and this is indeed a fantastic world to get lost in. characters are multi-layered, occasionally morally ambiguous, and all kinds of interesting.
i'll definitely be checking out what Tara's doing next.(less)
your average UF book is about a wizard/witch/spellcaster of whatever flavor that's a little bit badass, going to battle for the forces of good and all...moreyour average UF book is about a wizard/witch/spellcaster of whatever flavor that's a little bit badass, going to battle for the forces of good and all. i love a good hero/ine as much as the next girl, but i've read that story enough times that it's nicely refreshing to come across one with an entirely different approach.
Edie is a nurse, about a year out of school, worried about everyday mundane things like where her student loan payments are going to come from and how she's going to get back that furniture that her junkie brother pawned last week. she ends up working the night shift at a secret hospital ward that cares for supernatural patients; shenanigans (e.g., warring vampire courts) ensue. Edie is refreshingly "normal" - her problems and her responses to crazy things happening are completely relatable - so she makes a great window into this world. it doesn't hurt that my mom is a nurse, so i could have fun imagining a younger version of her bandaging up a zombie. bonus points for the lingo peppered throughout this book being dead-on accurate.(less)
like so many YA books, 'glass houses' is all about a special snowflake finding her place in the world. claire is bookishly nerdy to such an e...more2.5 stars
like so many YA books, 'glass houses' is all about a special snowflake finding her place in the world. claire is bookishly nerdy to such an extreme that she's tested out of HS and into college at 16, but her overprotective parents won't let her go to any far-off ivy league school. thusly stuck in the closest U that's not a junior college, she resignedly tries to give it a go at texas prairie university, but the freshman hazing here has a more than usually brutal edge to it. turns out (just like the subtitle tells you) that the entire town of morganville, tx is rife with vampires, and you're either in a "protected" agreement with them, or you're just a snack.
claire has more than a couple TSTL moments, but at least some are forgivable for her being so shelteredly naïve (prime example: uh, how about just skipping town??). on the sliding scale from sparkly to demonic, the vampires are much closer to the latter, so bonus points for people that like their bloodsuckers to be actual fiends. the story careens around confusedly as claire slowly figures out what's going on in this town, a situation that's ever so much more realistic than a shotgun-quick actioner, but can be a snooze as you wish they would just get ON with it all. hidden vampire politics and mystic magics become apparent by the very end, hinting at something much more interesting going on by book 2.(less)
an ass-kicking teen saving the mean streets of Baltimore from vampires and demons and whatnot, way fun for the little sprinkles of local co...more2.5 stars.
an ass-kicking teen saving the mean streets of Baltimore from vampires and demons and whatnot, way fun for the little sprinkles of local color (I lived in b'more for a few years, so ymmv), but deeply marred by the now-required angsty love story with an Edward stand-in. (less)
3.5 stars. it's a lot of fun, but in a popcorn-chomping summer movie kind of way.
zach is a bratty, entitled white house staffer, straight out of cent...more3.5 stars. it's a lot of fun, but in a popcorn-chomping summer movie kind of way.
zach is a bratty, entitled white house staffer, straight out of central casting's stock of "smart-mouthed whippersnappers." for reasons he never completely figures out, he gets assigned to be the liaison for the president's vampire. turns out, Andy Jackson bound the bloodsucker with a magical oath to uphold the integrity of the union, so the US has its own one-man black ops team; supernatural hijinx ensue, ass is kicked.
this book reads a whole lot like a summer action flick. it's quick and compellingly readable, full of the sort of sassy, snappy (i.e., ridiculous) dialogue that Bruce Willis would toss out of the corner of his artfully bruised mouth during a torture/interrogation scene. both of the major characters are fairly one-dimensional, and besides a couple of bit parts, there's not really any women to get in the way of the budding bromance. villains get to monologue as heroes realize they just screwed up. flipping to the back page's author's blurb, one finds out that he's a Hollywood screenwriter, so the only surprise at this point is that they haven't gotten around to filming this just yet. (less)
another solid 3.5 stars, and this one neatly ties up most of the glaringly loose threads from the cliffhanger-ended 1st in the series. since you're du...moreanother solid 3.5 stars, and this one neatly ties up most of the glaringly loose threads from the cliffhanger-ended 1st in the series. since you're dumped into the now-in-progress plot on the same day the 1st book ended, don't read this one as a stand-alone, go ahead and start at the beginning.(less)
a lightning-fast paced plot and a particularly engaging heroine (she's neither perfect nor omnipotent, there's actual peril, she's not TSTL,...more3.5 stars
a lightning-fast paced plot and a particularly engaging heroine (she's neither perfect nor omnipotent, there's actual peril, she's not TSTL, actual thinking goes on!!) help cover for an occasionally jerky writing style. there's way too many named characters to keep up with, and a whole lot of hints without any later explanation about a "traumatic past" all make this feel like the 2nd entry in a series rather than the first, rather like you're missing something you're supposed to already be in on. eh, who cares! the plot barrels on with plenty of forward momentum, and it's easy to care for such interesting people. the dreaded cliffhanger ending rears its head on an amazingly abrupt last page...good thing i have the actual 2nd one laying around on my ipad ready to go.(less)
a solid 3.5 stars. harrison's writing is always super fun, and as usual, i really love spending time with rachel & pals. this novel's plot, revolv...morea solid 3.5 stars. harrison's writing is always super fun, and as usual, i really love spending time with rachel & pals. this novel's plot, revolving around a human anti-parnormal hate group, really added even more depth to the already richly realized world that she's created. but it really starts to feel like the past couple of books are filler until some bigger plot arc picks up... how many times can rachel have a moment where a lightbulb goes off over her head as she says, "ah! i really should stop being an impetuous jerk!!"?(less)
a solid 3.5 stars - starts off a little rocky, marred by some confusingly written action/body-swapping "mystical vision" sequences in the middle, but...morea solid 3.5 stars - starts off a little rocky, marred by some confusingly written action/body-swapping "mystical vision" sequences in the middle, but by the time the story finally lays all the pieces out on the board, a really fun ride.
Cassie is a clairvoyant, occasionally inflicted with true visions of doom & destruction. she ran away from the vampire crime lord that raised her when she found out he was using her visions to further his business interests by knowing how everyone was going to horribly die, and she's been on the lam ever since. so how come all of a sudden, every supernatural political faction wants her in their clutches right now?
Cassie gets tossed from one frying pan into another fire at every possible opportunity, sometimes begin bailed out by powerful friends, and sometimes using her own savvy and brainpower to escape danger, but never knowing until the end just what the hell is going on. her being in the dark means we're right there, too, and thought it's fun to be unable to solve the mystery too soon, some things aree just written so confusingly that it's distracting. that being said, Cassie herself is easy to care about, and it's refreshing to read a heroine who's neither dumb as a box of rocks nor a mouthy badass just for the sake of being edgy.
the ending doesnt quite count as a cliffhanger, but it's certainly open (and compelling) enough to make you want to have the sequel handy immediately. (less)