a wonderfully ideal palate cleanser for those of us that like lightly trashy fantasy in-between our srs bzns fantasy, this series opener hits pretty m...morea wonderfully ideal palate cleanser for those of us that like lightly trashy fantasy in-between our srs bzns fantasy, this series opener hits pretty much every note just right. there's a nicely imagined world of magical and mugglemundane people, an engaging plot, leads with solid chemistry, and villains that are deeply dastardly (indeed, if there's anything really wrong with this book, it's that everyone is pretty one-note). oh, and, hey, pretty hawt to boot. special bonus points: you know that obnoxious crap where the plot of a standard romance novel is fueled mainly by miscommunication? well, in this book right here, the heroine gets all worried over something imminently practical she's done, starts to get nervous about overstepping her bounds, and the hero says, "wow, i was such a bonehead to have not done that earlier. thanks for being awesome," and then the plot continues on just fine without the unnecessary silliness. i'll definitely be picking up more of Beardsley's stuff.(less)
more actiony than the first, but also more angsty. i'm still in love with the setting and the magic, and our characters take a lot of dark tu...more3.5 stars
more actiony than the first, but also more angsty. i'm still in love with the setting and the magic, and our characters take a lot of dark turns here that may play out quite interestingly, but the overly tense-but-chaste love story between the two young people being pulled apart by circumstance is getting old.(less)
Jade has just moved in to an inexpensive apartment over a strip club (hey, it's bourbon street, there's plenty of 'em) that's conveniently owned by th...moreJade has just moved in to an inexpensive apartment over a strip club (hey, it's bourbon street, there's plenty of 'em) that's conveniently owned by the same team that runs the coffee shop she works at next door. keeping tenants in the joint is difficult due to rumors of ghosts in the place, which ultimately turn out to be true. by the end of this story, Jade has to figure out who the ghost is and why it's bugging her, and what she's going to do about hottie landlord.
one of the most solidly written freebies i've come across, this book has clearly seen the blessed red pen of an editor. the story works very well, being neither the comedic fluffy romance you'd expect with the back-of-book blurb, nor a horrific tale of poltergeist harassment, but with a generally nice balance between the two. characters tend to be messy and nuanced, not cardboard good guys. there are actual friendships between women, not just catty chick cut-downs (crazily enough for a romance novel, this book passes the Bechdel test!!). if it wasn't for the eye-rolling insta-romance and the suddenly silly ending, it'd be a solid 4* read.(less)
my library had this book marked as YA, and apart from the spare, straightforward language, i'd disagree. Donoghue has woven together most all of the c...moremy library had this book marked as YA, and apart from the spare, straightforward language, i'd disagree. Donoghue has woven together most all of the classic heroine-driven fairy tales (cinderella, snow white, sleeping beauty...) into a series of nested/linked retellings. some of the "new skins" these tales are wearing are looking at the same events from a different perspective, while others take off on a completely different and very feminist slant. the women in these stories are witches and innocents and victims and dreamers, and none of them have as simple or gentle an outcome as "happily ever after".(less)
A particularly strong UF series opener, Neill's heroine neither spends the entire book freaking out about how none of this can be real (to quote one o...moreA particularly strong UF series opener, Neill's heroine neither spends the entire book freaking out about how none of this can be real (to quote one of the characters, "all this is happening in a post-harry potter universe"), nor tumbling into bed with the first supernatural hottie she meets. though not all the tropes are gone, of course - there are plenty of supernatural hotties to go around, and at some point she does end up in a suitably ass-kicking sort of leather outfit. still, it's refreshing to spend the first book setting up the world and the rules and building some interesting character tensions, rather than have our girl bungling through solving the mystery. i liked it enough (and wanted more) that i'm jumping right on into the 2nd one.(less)
lyrical without being twee or fussily overdone, 'the witch's boy' is a children's book only because it's fairly short and it's a coming-of-age tale (i...morelyrical without being twee or fussily overdone, 'the witch's boy' is a children's book only because it's fairly short and it's a coming-of-age tale (i.e., if you love fairy tales but generally avoid books for younger readers, give this one a go). old, familiar stories twisted into an opposite perspective (the witch, here, is far from wicked) are sprinkled throughout the boy's life; it's every bit as charming as you'd think to hear "goldilocks" told by bears.(less)
though i generally prefer adult fiction, I know several friends who swear by childrens' and YA books because of their inherent "clarity". if you're wr...morethough i generally prefer adult fiction, I know several friends who swear by childrens' and YA books because of their inherent "clarity". if you're writing a story for a younger audience, so the argument goes, you first and foremost must tell a gripping tale; all the stylistic flourishes in the world don't mask the lack of one. in the right author's hands, that argument can be proven wonderfully true. much like last year's excellent Daughter of Smoke & Bone, 'Shadow and Bone' is a lot richer and more compelling than the admittedly generic-sounding cover blurb would have you believe.
everything about this book is utterly lovely. despite my avowed love of ebooks as my preferred text delivery method, this was a joy in dead tree: the frontispiece is a lushly drawn map, full of the imperial Russian images and pseudo-Russian place names that populate the text (like many fantasy books, the map is nice but not strictly necessary to the story, but it is an exceptionally well-done one). chapter headers and page footers are illuminated throughout: this is a completely charming old-school storybook. all the pretty in the world wouldn't make up for the lack of a fantastic story, though (see above assertion), and first-time author Bardugo delivers her part in spades. Alina has been brought up in a country long besieged by war and cut off from its necessary coastline by a monster-infested swath of man-eating darkness. between the starving peasant class and the indifferent royal family, the last defenders of the country are the loved/feared grisha, the magical practitioners of the realm. Alina starts out brought up as an orphaned peasant, joins the military on the cusp of her 20s, and eventually sees how the other half live - she's a wonderful window into this stratified society, and we only get to know what she does, making this a taut read.
3.5 stars... a solid entry in the series, but as is typical in these long-running worlds, it's not a good place to start. in fact, having even read al...more3.5 stars... a solid entry in the series, but as is typical in these long-running worlds, it's not a good place to start. in fact, having even read all of them previously, i get lost now and then on the little details (the order of Rachel's various bfs, what exactly happened to Trent's fingers again), which is to say, WOW do i wish i had a go-to site for plot synopses of the back issues.
somehow, Harrison manages to neatly tie off most of the threads from the past 10 books in this one. Ivy is working on helping someone else (and not pining endlessly after Rachel), Jenks is doing fine and moving on from his traumas, Trent is nearly understandable and as sympathetic as we've ever seen him (almost too much so), and Rachel manages to not be a complete idiot on multiple occasions. everybody has grown up a bit, and major threats have been vanquished. if the series ended here, it wouldn't be a cliffhanging heartbreaker.
one big ol quibble though, (view spoiler)[for the love of tink's panties, if you're gonna kill off a major character, that bizness really should happen "on screen" rather than as a casual aside later! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
16 year old ethan can't wait to get out of his one-horse south carolina backwater town, and he's counting the days until graduation...morea solid 3.5 stars.
16 year old ethan can't wait to get out of his one-horse south carolina backwater town, and he's counting the days until graduation will set him free. nothing ever changes here (even the prom queen is the same girl several years running) until mysterious lena moves into her crazy uncle's ramshackle plantation house, and sets everyone's tongues wagging.
given a small-town setting with a hidden something supernatural going on with these high school kids, comparisons to 'twilight' are inevitable. thankfully, the similarities end there, and if anything, the story is reversed: ethan is much more the bella of this relationship. Garcia & Stohl hit all the high notes of both southern gothic (shutters are painted "haint blue" to keep the ghosts out, gators splash into distant swamps, everyone speaks in dialect, and biscuits are made by hand) and YA UF. there is a romance in here, and while it's plenty angsty, it feels real to the teen experience and blissfully doesn't rely on standard tropes of mis- or non-communication for dramatic tension. it's a very fun story, marred only by the ending falling apart (but thankfully not being a cliffhanger).
bonus: with the recent movie adaptation, check out a poster or promo shot of the cast so you can deliciously imagine jeremy irons at his most unctuously serpentine as macon ravenwood. (less)