If you haven’t grown up reading graphic novels, and you don’t have some inherent knowledge of ALL THE THINGS, you slowly but sReviewed by: Rabid Reads
If you haven’t grown up reading graphic novels, and you don’t have some inherent knowledge of ALL THE THINGS, you slowly but surely develop a list of series you absolutely must read.
At the top of that list, just under Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN and Frank Miller’s BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, is Neil Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN.
I do not know why.
Admittedly, I’ve only read this first volume, and in the dozen or so volumes that follow, whatever it is that makes this series such a big damn deal could very possibly reveal itself . . .
The basic premise is this: some 1920s occultists attempt to summon and enslave Death. Instead they get Dream. They lock him into some kind of glass prison and demand he do all sorts of crazy shit to secure his release, but Dream is immortal and infinitely patient, so he says and does nothing. A hundred(ish) years later, Dream is freed.
You: Wow, a hundred(ish) years is a long time. Must’ve been a pretty epic prison. How’d he get out?
Me: He slumps over and pretends to be dead. Or something.
You: That’s it? That’s how he gets away?
And his original captor is dead, so he gives the heir a lifetime of bad dreams as punishment.
Okay, so it is depicted as being super awful, but somehow melty faces struck me as more cornball than menacing.
Anyway, after he escapes his prison, Dream goes on a retrieval mission to locate his “tools.” Apparently he poured himself into the tools during their making, and without them he’s borderline powerless.
You: Where are they?
Me: According to the (nebulous) Fates, his sandbag was last in the possession of John Constantine, a demon has his weird bug-face helmet, and the Justice League confiscated his ruby.
Stuff happens, he gets them all back, then . . .
You: Then what?
Me: . . . Then he sulks.
Then his sister (Death) shows up and gives him a pep talk, he gets his mojo back, the-effing-end.
So do I read volume 2? Do I see if this entire first volume laid the foundation for future greatness?
SO. Every ninety years a bunch of gods take over the bodies of a bunch of teenagers to live as pop stars for two years before they die.
Riiiiight. B/c gods have nothing better to do than become Taylor Swift. Fame is everything. Worship. Adulation.
Whatever, I'm bored.
Know what else is boring? They don't use their god-like powers b/c it will scare the puny humans.
Is it just me, or are these the lamest gods ever?
Except for Lucifer.
When a rooftop of zealots (at least that's what I'm assuming they were, b/c their animosity is never really explained) opens fire on a gathering of the godlings, Luci says, to hell with that! and explodes their heads with a snap of her fingers.
She's then arrested--how dare she kill the men who'd been trying to kill her--and Luci is taking the situation about as seriously as I am, until while jokingly threatening the judge with another finger snap, the man's head actually explodes.
That's the question, isn't it?
To the detriment of everything else.
Why every ninety years? Why are they dead within another two? Why aren't they always the same gods? Where do all the other gods go? How are the teenagers chosen? Why pop stars?
Just make the god groupie satisfactorily indignant, throw in a hot vampire-looking death god, make a few jokes, blow some shit up, and we'll forget all but one of the unanswered questions.
But guess what? By the end of vol. 1, we still don't know who killed the judge.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE . . . was a lot of shiny distractions with periodically deadpan dialogue to mask the lack of substance in the plot. Not impressed. Not recommended.
SIDE NOTE: obviously they aren't always pop stars--pop stars didn't exist the last time they showed up--but they're always whatever the current coolest kids are. Back in the 1920s, it looked like they were clairvoyants or mediums. Before that? Who cares knows?...more
For whatever reason, the third installment is almost always a game changer in an urban fantasy series. Iron KissedReviewed by: Rabid Reads
For whatever reason, the third installment is almost always a game changer in an urban fantasy series. Iron Kissed is almost universally acknowledged as being when Mercy Thompson "gets good," Faefever is when Mac finally starts being more kick-ass heroine than TSTL, and Magic Strikes is my favorite UF installment ever.
“How many miles to Babylon? It’s threescore miles and ten. Can I get there by candlelight? Aye, and back again. If your feet are nimble and your steps are light, you can get there and back by the candle’s light.” She paused, voice changing cadences. “Children’s games are stronger than you remember once you’ve grown up and left them behind. They’re always fair, and never kind. Remember.”
AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT follows the well established pattern. The seeds McGuire planted in the first two books blossom into a breathtakingly faetastical world that is as dangerous as it is beautiful:
“You’d be surprised at how deep rose thorns can cut. They’re pretty, not safe.”
It's been a few months since I reread A Local Habitation, and once again I forgot how darrrrrk this series can be. I was quickly reminded when one of October's friends calls her in a panic, b/c two of her children (who adorably call her "Aunt Birdie") have disappeared, and another can't be woken from her sleep.
On her way to Golden Gate Park to take the sleeping girl to Lily, October runs into Tybalt (king of cats) who informs her that five Cait Sidhe children were also stolen in the night, one of them his nephew . . .
Brace, people. This is one monstrously captivating version of the Great Hunt.
And at the head of the hunt is Blind Michael, a Firstborn, son of Oberon and Titania, half-brother to the Luidaeg (*chants* Lou-sha-k, Lou-sha-k, Lou-sha-k . . .).
As much as I love all things Great Hunt-related, it was all the mysteriously mysterious hints about the nature of October's mother's faeness, October's by default, that really hooked me.
“It’s been tried. Once it was even tried by my sisters and I—we belong to Maeve, but that doesn’t make us monsters. Remember that, child of Oberon: even we can tell the difference.” The Daoine Sidhe are claimed by Titania, not Oberon.
Chew on that for a minute.
Also, all of October's "changelings don't get forever, so I've always known I'll die one day," proclaimations feel a mite lady-protesting-too-loudly, and given McGuire's obvious love of the Bard, I'll not be surprised if Amandine's "fairy bride" shenanigans is really a cover meant to hide the identity of October's true father.
And knowing that Sylvester has a sister named September, who named her daughter January, my money is on a Torquill . . . Which would explain Raysel's animosity . . .
Also awesome was the extreme faeness of several of the characters, this one in particular:
She was taller than xxxxx, with marble white skin and hair that darkened from pale pink at the roots to red-black at the tips. It fell past her knees, tangling in the rope of briars that belted her grass green gown. She looked like nothing I’d ever seen . . .
The rose woman opened her eyes. They were pale yellow, like pollen.
Sign me up for the October Daye coloring book, that's all I'm saying.
No really, that's all I'm saying. Late Eclipses is calling my name, but I won't let myself read it until I've written my review. Duty done. *winks* Highly recommended.
What was that? (view spoiler)[You think you can let a naked woman claim in bed with and grab your dick, but you eUgh.
Ughhhhhhhh. *throws book at wall*
What was that? (view spoiler)[You think you can let a naked woman claim in bed with and grab your dick, but you eventually toss her out, so no harm, no foul? (hide spoiler)] Eff you, dude. Efffff youuuu.
And that's just the most obvious issue. This thing was CRAP....more
I didn't know the outside world would cease to exist the moment I sReviewed by: Rabid Reads
This book . . . Gah.
I didn't know what I was getting into.
I didn't know the outside world would cease to exist the moment I started it until the moment I finished it (at roughly 3am, FYI). I didn't know I would be haunted by the images from Carina's dreamzealscape.
Speaking of Carina, I didn't know I could like a heroine as messed up as she is. I'm talking Dexter-level messed up. So I guess I did know I could like a character as messed up as Carina b/c I bloody loved Dexter.
Carina lives in near(ish) utopian(ish) future version of our world where the USA has been divided by war. Pacifica, the region that covers what used to be California, has practically zero crime . . .
As anyone with the most basic understanding of human nature knows, Utopia is an unrealistic daydream, and Pacifica is nowhere near as crime-free as the government would have its citizens believe.
The illusion is maintained by a drug called Zeal. This drug allows people to enter a make-believe world in which they can act out their deviant urges, returning to themselves sated of the need for violence.
So in all fairness, yes, crime has been drastically reduced for the average person.
For Carina? Not so much.
READ THE BOOK.
My only complaint is purely a matter of preference . . . There are certain scenarios that just don't work for me. "Secret" identical twin siblings, for example. Anytime a Secret Twin makes an appearance as a plot twist, I . . . can't. Similarly, anytime the major conflict involves (view spoiler)[mind control (hide spoiler)], I roll my eyes and grind my teeth. It's just so . . . Pinky and the Brain.
But that's my issue, (probably) not yours. And I loved it anyway. The second I figured out that SHATTERED MINDS is a companion novel for another book (FALSE HEARTS) set in this world, I downloaded it immediately.
Verdict: SHATTERED MINDS is the first book I've read of Lam's, but it won't be the last. Recommended for anyone who likes the sound of a gritty sci-fi lite thriller.
Anytime I'm reading fantasy for review, I take copious notes. In fact, most of the time, my review is pretty much wriReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Anytime I'm reading fantasy for review, I take copious notes. In fact, most of the time, my review is pretty much written by the time I finish the book, I just need to make slight alterations to account for any last minute goings on.
And I like that, b/c your average fantasy is 2 - 3x longer than any other book. Trying to go back after the fact and recall all the key details would be a nightmare.
Brandon Sanderson has consistently thwarted me in this area. And by consistently, I mean every, single time.
Why do you hate me, Mr. Sanderson? WHY?!
If I were to rate a Sanderson book--any Sanderson book--prior to the last 20%, almost all of them would hover around the 3.0 star range.
But unlike most books that benefit from higher ratings b/c OMG, THAT ENDING!, my experience with Sanderson has been very different.
Yes, there is definitely an element of OMG and FEELS overwhelming your brain stem, making you instantly forget whatever had you feeling so MEH for the majority of the book, but that's only one small aspect of the turnaround. I'll get to the greater part in a minute.
I've called Sanderson a master of misdirection several times, but I'm finding it to be especially true in this first MISTBORN trilogy.
You know what happened last time . . . This time . . . it wasn't quite as drastic, but it had a greater impact on my overall reaction to the book.
B/c initially, I didn't much like this one.
We know from THE FINAL EMPIRE that the Well of Ascension is where the shit went down. The Lord Ruler traveled to the mountains of Terris as prophecy dictated to seize its power and defeat the Deepness . . .
A power that wasn't meant to be contained but released, and in selfishly keeping that power to serve his own purposes, the Lord Ruler became the new Evil.
With his death the Deepness is returning.
His ominous last words proved truthful, and whatever had been holding it back is now absent. Strange shapes take insubstantial form and stalk the Mist by night, and by day . . . no longer banished by light, the Mist attacks and kills defenseless villagers.
And Vin is drawn by a distant thrumming, a constant drum beat in the distance that only she can hear . . . calling her to the Well.
You'd think that a journey across a land filled with various and dangerous threats would make for an excellent second installment, and it would have . . . if the book had been about a journey across a land filled with various and dangerous threats.
But it wasn't.
It was about about a city besieged by not one, not two, but THREE armies, one full of the remnants of one of the Lord Ruler's monstrous creations.
It was about a naive manboy who needed to lose the boy and become a king. It was about a insecure girl who loves Manboy, but thinks he deserves far better than her. It was about grasping factions in a fledgling government and political scheming and backstabbing, and while that may sound marvelous in theory . . .
After roughly 600 pages, it's dreadfully dull.
Especially after an action-packed first installment, which brings up another complaint . . .
This is the second time I've encountered a lackluster sequel in a Sanderson series, so while I'm not 100% that it's a pattern, it is 2:2 which dramatically increases the likelihood . . .
It goes like this:
Book 1 - first 80% can be slow and consists primarily of misdirection, false trails, etc. leading to the brilliant chaos of the last 20%. World-building and character development are typically enough to keep you engaged.
Book 2 - favors political scheming over action, lots of agonizing(ly boring) soul searching, angst-fueled love triangle, and above all else, miscommunication and refusal to confront emotional problems directly.
If this is a pattern, Mr. Sanderson, you need to break it.
Sooners rather than laters, baby.
But despite my annoyance with the lack of progress towards the ultimate goal being somewhat neutralized by last minute revelations (which, by the way, is as frustrating as it is gratifying), those revelations cannot mitigate how completely over I was the Vin/Elend relationship drama.
Part of me feels like it would've been more honest to call this book: I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH, HE'S GOING TO LEAVE ME, WHEN WILL HE LEAVE ME?, HE'S GOING TO LEAVE ME.
Long, I know. Probably one of the many reasons they went with something else. But it would have been more accurate than THE WELL OF ASCENSION.
And as I said, this is the second time Sanderson has done this to us.
I'm baffled. This kind of teen-angsty melodrama has no place in adult high fantasy.
But, also again, a handful of new characters (Zane and Tindwyl) and careful threading of impossible-to-detect-foundations for later plot twists kept it from being a total loss. (view spoiler)[Kind of difficult to stay angry about the lack of journey, when a journey isn't actually necessary. Not to mention that whatever Vin let loose from the Well apparently manipulated the whole prophecy into existence to orchestrate its release . . . Seriously, where does he come up with this stuff? (hide spoiler)] <------If there had been just slightly less drama, those things alone would have made this a strong 4.0 star read for me. BUT. Drama.
Recommended with qualifications. Book 3 is up next, so I'll let you know how it goes.
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SO. Right off the bat, I think we need to get this out of the way: YES. I read the FIFTY SHADES trilogy, and, YES, I liked it.Reviewed by: Rabid Reads
SO. Right off the bat, I think we need to get this out of the way: YES. I read the FIFTY SHADES trilogy, and, YES, I liked it.
I liked TWILIGHT, too.
And THE HUNGER GAMES, and I bloodydamn love HARRY POTTER.
If you think that means I have crap taste in books, then good riddance.
If you think that means I love ALL the hyped-up books, you don't know me, so who cares what you think?
I read what I want and heaven help anyone who tries to make me feel bad about it.
*steps down from soapbox*
Honestly, I'm not terribly worried about that in Rabid Reads space, b/c lovers of speculative fiction tend to be a less judgmental crowd.
But when the top dozen Goodreads reviews are all, "Hell NO, we won't read this crap, and we'll be (not so) silently judging anyone who does," well . . . it makes me a little bit defensive.
That being said, I didn't love GREY, which is basically FIFTY SHADES OF GREY verbatim, but from Christian's perspective. I liked it well enough, and it definitely had me jonesing to reread the trilogy, but Christian direct from the source is a bit too much for me.
I need filtered Christian.
You know why?
B/c just like all the accusations that James knows not-one-thing about the BDSM community, guess what?
NEITHER DO I.
There's a reason these books appeal to the WASP community at large: we are the opposite of hardcore.
We enjoy a FICTIONALIZED account of BDSM that ultimately concludes with a hot bazillionaire not being nearly as hard a case as he thought he was. #sorrynotsorry
A real, deep-in-the-lifestyle Dominant would scare the hell out of me. Not b/c there's anything wrong with it, but b/c it's so radically outside my own personal purview.
Clearly, I am not alone in this.
E.L. James capitalized on that, and I say good for her.
So ultimately, I don't regret reading GREY, and if you also loved the FIFTY SHADES trilogy and think you're made of sterner stuff than I am, then I say go for it. BUT. If Christian-filtered-through-Ana was about as much as you could take, then I'd skip it. It's one thing to ogle him from a distance, but quite another to be inside his fifty-shades-of-fucked-up head. Recommended with qualifications.
1. If you're new to JANE YELLOWROCK, proceed with CAUTION. I will not intentionally spoil anything, buReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Before we get into this:
1. If you're new to JANE YELLOWROCK, proceed with CAUTION. I will not intentionally spoil anything, but this collection includes NINETEEN stories about events that take place both before and throughout the main series.
If you're curious, check out my review of Skinwalker. It's safer. And enthusiastic (b/c LOVE Jane).
2. I've been slack on keeping up with Jane lately, b/c stubbornly waiting for the European vamps to get here, so I'm reading a lot of the recently written stories for the first time--the older stories from HAVE STAKES, WILL TRAVEL and CAT TALES I've read several times now, and I read BLACK WATER when it first came out.
So my opinions on Big Deal situations in the main series are evolving. *coughs* Bruiser *coughs*
3. I hate Rick with the fire of ONE THOUSAND suns. My reviews of his POVs reflect that. FYI.
We Sa and the Lumber King - 4.0 stars
FIRST, I'm not sure there's a more perfect example of Beast vs. Jane than this one:
Night vision came as sunlight left. Earth turned into silvers and greens and grays. Liked this time of day/ night. We sa called it beautiful. I called it safe.
If you're a longtime reader of Jane, you know there are periodic references to the Hunger Times. This is a (very) short story from Beast's POV as she tries to get rid of the humans destroying her natural habitat.
Beast is . . . Beast. *snickers*
We also get a peek at baby Jane, who hasn't yet found her way back to human form after melding with Beast.
The Early Years - 4.0 stars
An 18-year-old Jane follows an instinct she doesn't understand and finds her way back home. It gives me FEELS.
Snafu - 3.5 stars
Very short--probably less than 10 pages. Hmm . . . 18 y.o. Jane's first day on the security job training. First 10 min. really . . . But that's all you need to see all the reasons we love Jane. #kickass
Cat Tats - 4.0 stars
Oh, look. Ricky Bo got himself in trouble b/c chasing tail. SHOCKER.
This one's told from Rick's POV, and if you've been curious about how he got his mountain lion/bobcat tattoo:
Rick didn’t know what it meant to have the cats here on his body, beneath his skin, part of him.
IT MEANS NOTHING.
I like this one b/c lots and lots of PAIN for Rick (whom I HATE).
Kits - 5.0 stars
KITS hits me in ALL the FEELS, and it's probably my favorite Jane short to date.
1. Beast and kits always plays havoc with my emotions. She's so fierce and so pure and so . . . single-minded. Nothing is more important than kits. *rubs fist over heart*
2. The birth of Molly and Jane's friendship:
I pulled on my socks and carried my boots into what was left of Molly’s house. We had tea. We shared secrets. Weirdly, Molly held my hand while we talked, as if protecting something fragile or sealing something precious. Even more weirdly, I let her. I think that, for the first time in my life, I had a real friend.
I may have cried. A lot.
Haints - 4.0 stars
HAINTS is one more reason why vampires and witches shouldn't mix. o.O
This one is told from Molly's POV, which is awesome b/c we get to see Jane through her eyes (ALSO b/c Molly). Evan is on hand as well, and as he's not hating on Jane, that's fun, too.
Two word summary: WEIRD magic.
ALSO, there are several Easter eggs hidden for true Jane aficionados.
Signatures of Death - 4.0 stars
You know that job Jane had prior to hitting New Orleans? The one where she nearly got her throat ripped out? The one where some kid got her on video with her eyes glowing?
This is that story.
It's not pretty. But dealing with rogue vampires rarely is.
Good thing we have Jane.
First Sight - 4.0 stars
Jane's first meeting with Leo and Bruiser told from Bruiser's POV.
Kind of sexy . . . But I'm still not #teambruiser
Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry - 3.5 stars
Have I mentioned that I HATE Rick? B/c I do.
This one is from Rick's POV, and it details his first full moon as a were . . . A were unable to shift b/c witchy tattoos. It appears to be rather painful.
THIS PLEASES ME.
And I would've given it full marks if it hadn't been for his, "Woe is me, I really effed things up with Jane," and, "I really need to talk to her, I need to explain," crap and trash.
(view spoiler)[Stay the fuck away from Jane, you ASS. (hide spoiler)] <------not a spoiler, just me cursing at Rick (spoiler tagged out of respect for Jane who hates potty mouths).
Fool me once . . .
Dance Master - 4.5 stars
Okay . . . That was HOT.
I'm still #teamjane but now I'm closer to #teambruiser than I've been since that limo ride in one of the first books . . . youknowwhatimtalkingabout *fans self*
Golden Delicious - 3.0 stars
Short story from Rick's perspective. Takes place during his training with PsyLED.
I hate Rick.
At least there's Pea. *glares daggers at Rick*
Cajun with Fangs - 3.5 stars
This one is a Hatfields and McCoys scenario played out by vampires and witches in the bayou. Jane gets tricked into helping moderate a dispute, and by "tricked" I mean clocked with a heavy object.
Pretty standard as far as these types of things go, BUT most of the involved parties have fantastic Cajun accents, and I do love me a good Cajun accent.
The Devil's Left Boot - 4.0 stars
This one was told from the POVs of two of the Everhart sisters, Elizabeth and Boadacia. It takes place after the big Evangelina showdown, and tensions are still running high.
When their high school nemesis shows up of the family restaurant, as much as Liz and Cia would like to send her packing, they end up agreeing to help her find her mother who's disappeared.
For a fee.
They find themselves over their heads and call in Jane who just happens to be in town, but in the process of working their magic, absorb another witch's blood magic . . . The same kind of magic that made Evangelina go CRAY . . . The effing end. *shakes fist*
Beneath a Bloody Moon - 3.0 stars
If Faith Hunter has a flaw, it's overusing concepts and/or revamping (HA!) ideas that have previously been treated as unique.
We know from MERCY BLADE that werewolves are cursed with both madness and an inability to create female werewolves. Which was why Magnolia Sweets was such a Big Deal.
Yet in this story, what are we dealing with?
Another female werewolf. *sighs* And the way the story plays out, we never get an explanation for HOW she exists or what the deal is with the inexplicably HUGE dire werewolf.
ALSO, there's Rick. Being Rick. Ugh.
Black Water - 4.0 stars
Feeling responsible for the kidnapping of two women (b/c the kidnapper busted out jail seeking revenge after someone on Jane's team killed his werewolf sister), Jane enlists the help of Sarge (from BENEATH A BLOODY MOON) and his monster dog in a rescue mission.
I want to know 3 things:
1. How is it exactly that Sarge is sane? 2. How are Sarge and Christabel able to communicate with monster dog? 3. WHAT THE BLOODY HECK IS CHRISTABEL??!
Off the Grid - 4.5 stars
At Dragon Con 2014 (and 2015), I went to a bunch of Faith's panels. In one of them she talked about a new series she's working on. I was excited about this for numerous reasons, the two biggest being:
1. New Faith Hunter series--YAY. 2. It takes place in Oak Ridge.
For those of you that don't know, Oak Ridge is in Tennessee, near Knoxville. It's also where the first atomic bomb was made.
One of my dads has lived in Andersonville, part of the same county that Oak Ridge is in, for about 20 years, and has been working at Y-12 for the last 6 or 8 years.
I am fascinated by this place.
I have been fascinated by this place since I was a teenager.
In this story we meet Nell Nicholson Ingram, who is the heroine in Hunter's new series. I'm not sure what she is exactly, but my money's on her having some kind of Fae in her ancestry, and the only thing I love more than Native American folklore is the Fae.
Fae in Oak Ridge.
GIVE IT TO ME NOW.
Not All Is as It Seems - 4.0 stars
This was a Molly POV, so I was already inclined to like it, but, man alive . . . Every time I think vampires are wholly unredeemable, every time I'm ready to write them off completely (b/c reprehensible, elitist, devious, hedonistic, disgusting creatures), something has to go an throw me for a loop.
This time it was Lincoln Shaddock.
I really like the Asheville vampires. Against my better judgement, but all the same . . . I like them.
Cat Fight - 4.5 stars
CAT FIGHT sends Jane back to bayou, b/c the vamp/witchy version of the Hatfields and the McCoys aren't playing nice any longer.
Our star-crossed lovers are behaving like children, Shauna stealing a valuable magical artifact from her father-in-law and running home to her Mama and Daddy . . . Then the Vatican gets involved, and basically it's a big 'ol mess.
Good thing Jane's excellent at making people shut up and listen.
We get some more insight into Edward (which makes me not-worried for Leo, the control-freaky jackhole), and Gee also makes an appearance (I LOVE Gee), so, yeah, it was great.
Bound No More - 4.0 stars
Boy howdy, Angie Baby is gonna be hell on wheels when she hits adolescence . . . o.O
In this final tale, Molly is in town with Angie for the Witch/Vampire parley, and that light dragon thingy is out for Molly's blood. If you want to know why, READ THE BOOK.
Point of interest: the thing that put me off so badly in DARK HEIR--Jane continuing to dothething when it had been established that if she didn't stop, it would KILL HER--was explained better, so I'm okay with it now . . . Either that or I've had enough distance to get over it. *shrugs*
SO. Should you read BLOOD IN HER VEINS for yourself? Only if you love Jane. And if you don't love Jane, GET OUT! what are you doing here? Highly recommended.
I've been book funky . . . for like . . . WEEKS. I've binge-watched: Gotham, The Flash, and the first three seasoReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I've been book funky . . . for like . . . WEEKS. I've binge-watched: Gotham, The Flash, and the first three seasons of Suits. I've decimated my Secret Garden coloring book.
And on the day I read BORDERLINE by Mishell Baker, I tried to read four different books. FOUR. This is the only one that stuck.
Millicent (Millie) Roper is a most unlikely urban fantasy heroine.
She has two prosthetic legs. And I'm not talking futuristic bionic limbs that give her superhero-like speed or strength. NOPE. Just the usual kind. Not that I'm saying people with prostheses can't be heroes, it's just not the standard in fiction.
She lost her legs when she landed feet first from a seven story jump, and, YES, I do mean jump--it was a suicide attempt.
A suicide attempt that took place after a failed romance with one of her professors . . . Millie also has BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).
Basically . . . she's a HOT MESS.
She's also one of the most compelling characters I've read in recent memory.
When we meet Millie, she's languishing in some kind of a rehabilitation/recovery facility. With shrinks. She's been there for six months, and while it seems like her stay hasn't done her much good, as the story progresses, we see that it really, really has.
She's learned terms that help her identify her behaviors. She's learned coping mechanisms. And we learn more about her disease than I ever thought was possible without falling asleep.
But as it turns out, people "marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships," . . . NOT boring. Especially when they get recruited by a government-funded agency to liaise between the humans and the fey . . . Recruited with a bunch of other crazies . . . Who all live in the same house.
So that's awesome.
Also awesome is Baker's writing. I have so many highlights, so many ridiculously good examples of Baker's awesome that it almost physically hurts not to be able to use them all. SO. After careful consideration, I limited it to three:
“I’m Gloria,” she said. “I, uh.” My brain felt like a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. “You’ve never met a little person before.” She giggled, in that cute way Southern women do instead of punching you in the teeth.
I know that giggle. I may have even used it a few times myself.
Then there's Millie's painful honesty. Like when she discovers Caryl has separated her more volatile emotions into a familiar:
I had a sudden desperate urge to talk to Dr. Davis. This woman, her former patient no less, had torn her mind in half. Her Emotion Mind was perched on my shoulder while her Reason Mind drove the car and told me it didn’t matter. It was fascinating and horrible, and I was deeply, sickeningly envious.
*rubs fist over heart*
But where Baker really excelled was in her throwaway descriptions:
Union Station is the sort of place that looks like it ought to have ghosts. And it does, if you count the dead-eyed people shuffling through the cavernous main terminal or perched in uncomfortable chairs, watching rows of demonic red numbers.
That shit is EVERYWHERE.
BORDERLINE by Mishell Baker is that rare something new, something different, something GOOD that we're all silently hoping for every time we pick up a new book. Baker puts her own unique spin on the fey, while maintaining their basic integrity. Her writing is bloody fantastic. Her characters are real, and I straight-up love Millie--she is deeply flawed, possesses an honesty that is alternately painful and hilarious, and manically likable. Any fan of urban fantasy should check this one out. Highly recommended.
4/29/18: So far the graphic audio version of STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE has been fantastic, so I’m hopeful that Kaladin will annoy me less this time . . . *cr4/29/18: So far the graphic audio version of STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE has been fantastic, so I’m hopeful that Kaladin will annoy me less this time . . . *crosses fingers*
WORDS OF RADIANCE is the second installment of Brandon Sanderson's STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE series, and, unfortunately . . . it fell a little flat for me.
Don't get me wrong, I liked it. This was one of those occasions when my rating steadily declined the more I stewed about the ends and outs . . . but immediately upon completion, I was all, "Yeah! Sanderson rocks again. WOOT!
But then came the stewing . . .
I had several significant issues with this book:
1. Cosmere crossover misfire.
The Cosmere is the realm in which many of Sanderson's different series take place. There are different worlds for the individual series, but these worlds are all in the same universe. I believe the ultimate goal is to begin a new series (after the completion of its forerunners) that ties the worlds together in a less tangential way.
Anyway, there are Easter eggs aplenty for a savvy fanperson, and I was made aware that a couple of important characters from a different series played important roles in WoR.
So I read the book from which these characters came just prior to starting to WoR . . . and then I completely missed Crossover #1's big entrance.
"How is that even possible?" you ask, and that's an excellent question, b/c, yes, I had just finished Crossover's book, and, yes, everything from it should have been fresh.
Sanderson decided to disguise Crossover. Changed his name and made him a "Master" of something he had previously only been good at. In fact, in Crossover's book, he wins fights against more skilled foe by distracting them, b/c he knows he can't win if he plays fair.
How are we supposed to recognize Crossover if he's in disguise?
Another excellent question.
The obvious answer would be to make a point of gestures or catch phrases Crossover became known for, or references to key ideas from the world we last saw him in . . . and in a way Sanderson did this: he made up metaphors that referred to the most obvious aspect of the magic system in Crossover's world.
BUT. There were no such metaphors used in the actual book.
So despite the obvious nature of these "colloquialisms," they flew right over my head, b/c they weren't consistent to that world. Add to that the fundamental alteration of Crossover's abilities, and I failed to see the point of having a crossover at all.
And that annoyed me. Greatly.
2. My previously favorite character became a Grade-A loser, whiny baby.
3. I HAVE RULES.
And Rule #1 was broken. If you don't want to be spoiled, that's all I can say about it. For the Sandersonites who demand to know my reasons for casting more aspersions on their beloved namesake: (view spoiler)[I KNOW he wanted to make a point about the resilience of Surgebinders when he "killed" Jasnah, but he chose a crap way to do it. The fact that he had to explain his intent in numerous posts and even wrote a Jasnah POV detailing exactly what happened only makes my point for me.
Furthermore, the focus of this book felt completely different than its predecessor.
In WoK, good triumphed over evil b/c valor and loyalty and determination to be better than the corrupt leadership. Slaves became bloody heroes, and I thought my heart would burst from the FEELS.
In WoR . . . Shallan refused to unstick her head from the sand, and no amount of witty banter could overshadow her chicken-ness. Kaladin was the aforementioned loser, whiny baby. Dalinar shifted his stance on something he had previously forbidden b/c it was a convenient way to get rid of the competition, and Adolin had a psychotic break.
Instead of steadfast perseverance resulting in victory, victory was obtained despite the lack of heroism, b/c last minute come-to-Jesus.
I do not like this. At all.
However . . . there were enough interesting plot developments and secondary characters to keep it from being truly awful. Lift was enough by herself to make reading WORDS OF RADIANCE a worthwhile endeavor, and in a series like this skipping installments isn't an option. But ultimately . . . I'd say we have a classic case of Second Book Syndrome on our hands. Recommended with qualifications.
Welp. I did it. I was patient. I waited. BUT. Now it is finally (almost) time: BR of EPIC proportions with Sanctum of Fantasy. Starting 5/1/15. WOOT.
Dear Brandon Sanderson,
My other reviews for this series:
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This . . . is the most . . . chaotic mess of rambling nonsense I've ever encountered.
I've been told the narrator is unreliable, and maybe that's trueThis . . . is the most . . . chaotic mess of rambling nonsense I've ever encountered.
I've been told the narrator is unreliable, and maybe that's true. I don't know. I couldn't read it long enough to find out.
Regardless of whether or not that's true . . . I don't care. This is awful. AWFUL. Like boycott-the-publisher-for-all-eternity awful.
There's some kind of fairy war, and the gnomes eat the fairies (YES, literally), but only parts of them, and the rest continues to live b/c immortal: the MC carries around her father's remaining eye, ear, and a tooth in a jam jar in her backpack, oh, and she also "turns tricks" for the gnomes, specifically the one who returned her father's remains to her.
The last thing I read before calling it quits was how he paid double to fuck her twice, and he always remembers to slide the money into her skirt before he slides it off . . .
9/12/15: When I first read ALICE, I had a hard time categorizing it. It was Victorian, but it wasn't steampumk. It was horror . . . ish. Fortunately, it very obviously a retelling, so at least I had that. BUT. Just having read this article: http://www.dailydot.com/geek/dreadpun... I can now solidly identify it at DREADPUNK. *grins creepily*
The first thing you should know is that I bloody hate ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
In fact, with the exception of THE JABBERWOCKEY, which I appreciate for English nerd reasons (nonsense words that make sense b/c masterful command of grammar), I bloody hate Lewis Carroll.
Too weird. #sorrynotsorry
I've also read an installment or two of Henry's BLACK WINGS series, and I wasn't terribly impressed. My top two least favorite subjects in urban fantasy are: dead things and angels. BLACK WINGS is basically about angels dealing with dead things.
SO. A book from an author I've previously not had much luck with, on a subject I've loathed since childhood . . .
You're probably wondering why on earth I bothered with ALICE.
Honestly, so did I.
And if it hadn't immediately captured my attention, I doubt I'd've stuck with it.
But it did. And I did.
The second thing you should know is that this book isn't for the faint of heart.
This Alice is an adult who's spent the last ten years institutionalized after stumbling out of the Old City with blood on her thighs, raving about a rabbit.
YES. That means exactly what you think it means.
And what happened to Alice isn't uncommon in this world.
Usually this kind of thing has me running, screaming in the opposite direction, but ALICE is a perfect example of the difference between dark and crude.
Dark means real life Bad Things happen. It's awful, it's presented as awful, but you're mostly seeing the aftermath of the awful, not a play-by-play account in real time.
It's realistic, but not shockingly so.
Crude means your face is shoved in the awful b/c this-is-life-suck-it-up-and-deal-with-it-you-pansy-suburban-housewife. Crude means deliberately crass terminology used for the express purpose of making something already awful even more awful.
I have zero tolerance for crude.
Dark I can handle.
And if the perpetrators get what's coming to them, my bloodthirstiness comes out to play and rolls around in the darkness. Like some kind of fiery-eyed hellhound.
ALICE is darrrrrrrrrk.
But it's also a perfect blend of old school Carroll strangeness and modern urban fantasy (albeit in a more Victorian setting) that I could not put down. I read the whole thing on a Saturday afternoon.
I loved the characters, especially our two MCs Alice and Hatcher, who were each other's only solace for eight years in the hospital where they were held. Despite the shared experience and insanity, they are as different as two people can be, their disparate strengths and weaknesses making them that much stronger together.
The world was bleak, yet fascinating. Make no mistake, Bad Things happen here. BUT. There is also justice, and that makes all the difference.
ALICE by Christina Henry is hopefully the first of many installments in this new weirdly fantastic series--definitely my most surprising read of the year so far. Henry's Alice knows that sometimes you have to hurt people before they can hurt you, and she doesn't hesitate to do exactly that. And even if she did, her mad companion Hatcher, thusly named for the killing frenzy that resulted in at least six deaths-by-ax, would not. They're on a mission, and if they're coming for you . . . Run, Rabbit, run.
Me: That's a complicated question. Technically, you don't need to. BUT. I think you should. B/c reasons:
1. It's my favorite (finished) YA fantasy series, so EVERYONE should read it.
2. I have an OCD compulsion to read everything in order.
3. There's something that happens at the beginning of FLAMECASTER that won't have the impact it should, if you haven't read Seven Realms.
You: What is this thing?
Me: I'LL NEVER TELL. But later I will dance around it like a zombie from Thriller (b/c still traumatized and can't help it).
You: Is there anything special about this spinoff?
Me: YES. I'm so glad you asked. This book takes place twentyish years after the events in Seven Realms, and the main characters in FLAMECASTER are the children of the main characters from Seven Realms.
HOW COOL IS THAT?
You: SO VERY COOL.
And now is when I'm going to get exceedingly vague.
That thing I mentioned? The one that I warned I'd be dancing around? Yeah, it's . . . so very awful.
It's almost as bad as the Bad Thing that happened in Morning Star, and the Bad Thing that happened in Morning Star is my current reigning Worst Thing to Happen in a Book EVER.
And this Bad Thing influences so much of what comes after that I can't talk about any of it. What I can tell you is:
1. There are dragons.
2. There are pirates.
3. It's funneh:
If I killed the bastard now, Ash thought, none of these lords would lift a finger to stop me. But then they’d turn around and execute me, because, you know, precedent.
B/c, you know, precedent. *giggle snorts*
4. The new characters will keep you in a near constant state of panic trying to figure out who's good and who's bad (which is a good thing b/c TWISTY and unpredictable).
5. There's a villain so contemptible that he/she/it joined the Most Vile Villain ranks with Umbrage.
And most importantly, I loved it. Unless the Bad Thing happened to make it easier for blah, something, blah blah, something to happen, in which case I will do much violence to quench the fire of my RAGE.
I'm hopeful that's just my paranoid, hyperactive imagination running wild, and this time next year, I'll be back to let you know, b/c Chima has proven with FLAMECASTER that her success with Seven Realms wasn't a fluke--she is awesome--and my YA fantasy monster is sated. Highly recommended.
I've been waiting for BLOOD OF THE EARTH, the first installment of Faith Hunter's new SOULWOOD urban fantasy series since she revealed its existence at Dragon Con 2014. It was still being written at the time, but based on the details Hunter revealed--set in Oak Ridge, TN, with a maybe Fae (or at least part Fae) heroine--I've been squeeing internally for nearly two years.
1. Fae are my supernatural creature of choice.
2. Oak Ridge is in my backyard.
For those of you not from or residing in Eastern Tennessee and/or aren't science geeks, Oak Ridge is the "Secret City," home of the Manhattan Project (better known as the making of the atomic bomb). If war ever brings foreign attacks stateside, Oak Ridge will be one of the first places to go.
Kinda cool, kinda freaky.
Y-12 is still a super sekret government facility, and nobody knows what they're doing there these days, but . . . When I was a teenager, visiting my dad one summer, a local news story about a gaggle of radioactive geese found on the grounds that had to be buried like twelve (twenty?) feet underground was circulating, AND I happen to know that civilian employees have to wear radiation detectors while clocked-in, sooooo . . . Whatever they're doing, it's not baking cookies.
And having the inside scoop (for once) on the locale also meant that I knew "Farrington" was really "Farragut," and the "Wyatt School" was really the "Webb School of Knoxville."
You don't care about tiny gov't towns doing whoknowswhat in the Smokey Mountains?
Nell Nicholson Ingram was raised in a cult--a polygamist cult--and married to a man old enough to die of the various things that start happening when you get old, five years after she married him, when she was fifteen.
She's never cut her hair, worn makeup, or painted her toenails, but she can handle half a dozen handguns and rifles with efficiency.
And she does, regularly, out of necessity.
Whatever her deceased husband's faults, when she turned eighteen, he married Nell legally, so that when he passed, by law, all his property went to her, instead of back to the church of her upbringing.
Nell gained her independence, but with that independence came harassment by church men, who wanted her property for themselves, and her person back under their authority.
By themselves, guns might not have been enough to keep her out their clutches, but Nell isn't a one trick pony . . . She has a connection to nature, initially thought to simply be an affinity for helping things grow, the church women said she had a green thumb, but soon after her husband died, Nell was attacked on her property.
It was dark, and she couldn't see her attacker, but she fought, and in the fighting, she shed some of his blood . . . As his blood sank into the soil, her land woke up, whispering its secrets to Nell, and she knew that if she willed it, the land would claim the man trying to force himself on her, wanted his life as forfeit for attacking her . . . And so she gave it.
That was two years ago, and while the church continued to harass her, refusing to accept that Nell had left that part of her life behind, they'd been content to limit their harassment to the psychological, rather than the physical . . .
At least they had before she aided Jane Yellowrock in an investigation that led to a government raid of church property. Since then, things have escalated. They shot her dogs, leaving them for her to find on her front porch. Rotating shifts of church men have been watching her from a deer stand. And immediately after a visit from PsyLed agent Rick LaFleur, they shot up her home, causing what was probably thousands of dollars of property damage.
You: Rick LeFleur?!
Me: Yes. *flares nostrils*
You: I bloody hate Rick LaFleur.
Me: Me, TOO.
You: Why would I want to start a new series that heavily features Rick LaFleur, whom I HATE?
Me: B/c if you don't, you won't get to see the mess his life has become. *laughs maniacally*
It's not a make-you-feel-sorry-for-him kind of mess, it's a reap-what-you-sow kind of mess, and it. Is. GLORIOUS. *laughs maniacally some more*
I really, really wanted to give BLOOD OF THE EARTH 5.0 stars. After much internal debate, I settled on 4.5, b/c as much as I loved it--Nell and her new PsyLed team, her evolving, seriously kick-ass abilities, the revelations about her family, the blossoming relationship with her kid sister (who shares her affinities), and a dozen other aspects of this spinoff series, set in Jane Yellowrock's world--there was too much repetition of information for me to ignore, especially in the first 20% of the story. The many, many times something about Nell's past life was referenced in connection to her new life, or the third time the backslider Stubbins' (or whoever) short-lived tenure as a blood meal for a vampire was described, I was over it. But then again, I was reading the ARC version, so maybe it got cleaned up before it went to press.
Either way, BLOOD OF THE EARTH by Faith Hunter is the best first installment of an urban fantasy series I've read in about a decade. Highly recommended.
SILVER IN THE BLOOD could have been a lot of things. It could have been yet another spin on wolves in service (enslavReviewed by: Rabid Reads
SILVER IN THE BLOOD could have been a lot of things. It could have been yet another spin on wolves in service (enslaved) to vampires. It could have been nothing more than two silly girls running amok in Eastern Europe. It could have been a bland Victorian tale about society misses having their sensibilities shocked by some generic Family Secret.
I was half expecting it to be one of those things or something else equally mediocre.
Which is why SILVER IN THE BLOOD is a perfect example of why sometimes you just have to read a book for yourself, other opinions be damned.
Lou and Dacia are best friends and cousins and as different as two girls can be, both in appearance and temperament. They are daughters of two of the most prominent New York families on their fathers’ sides and practically blue blood on their Romanian mothers’.
You'd be hard-pressed to find more well bred ladies on American soil.
Dacia is especially aware of this and enjoys it immensely. BUT. She sometimes finds the routine—the same people, places, parties, etc. day in and day out—a bit stifling.
Which is why she rejoices when her mother suggests a European tour, ending with a long family visit in Bucharest, or “Little Paris” as it was known at the time.
Her excitement, however, is dampened after a questionable escapade in London leads her aunt (and traveling companion) to take the most direct path to Romania, skipping over the actual Paris completely.
Lou is having a difficult time of her own, traveling separately with her parents and hellion younger twin brothers. It begins when a young man approaches her on a ship and inquires, strangely, whether she is, "the wing, the claw, or the smoke?"
Baffled and more than a little bit flustered, for Lou is a rather fragile creature, and impertinent young men asking inscrutable questions is a perfect recipe for her discomfiture. She is further scandalized by That Awful Man’s continued harassment of her person by his repeated attempts at bizarre conversation, and seeing him throughout the remainder of her travels, she becomes quite convinced that he is following her.
I found Lou and her sometimes morose observations to be particularly hilarious:
That Awful Man was standing in the passageway, peering into their compartment! She thought she might really have an attack of some sort now, and could only gasp for air. Lord Johnny appeared beside him, and Lou wondered for a fevered moment if she was simply hallucinating all the beaux she didn’t have.
Dacia was also highly entertaining, if in a more direct manner:
She wanted to hide, or open the window and somehow fly away. Instead she pasted on a smile and did her best to keep it there. “Not so big, LouLou, you’re looking ghoulish,” Dacia whispered,
Beyond the girls (and their various family members) being a delight to read, I also found the plot wonderfully compelling. It's true that Day George did take an inordinate amount of time to finally reveal the Big Family Secret, but she paved the way to the discovery well enough that I didn't feel taunted, and she still managed to slip in a Surprise despite our expectations.
I was also impressed by her restraint in not taking the obvious supernatural route. (view spoiler)[The Draculas were NOT vampires. (hide spoiler)]
SILVER IN THE BLOOD by Jessica Day George is the delightful first installment of her new YA fantasy series. Between the secret societies, dark Family Secrets, and our two heroines who are both brave and strong enough to stand with impeccable posture in the face of adversity, what's not to love? Completely devoid of a cliffhanger, I suggest that anyone who enjoys Victorian society and paranormal twists pick this gem up immediately. Definitely a top read for the year and highly recommended.
Last year I finished MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD feeling like I was just getting to know the inhabitants of Midnight, TX, and I couldn't wait to learn more about them. It took awhile to get there, but by the end I was ready for more of these mysterious small town residents.
In particular, I wanted to know more about Olivia.
I got my wish.
And I'm reminded of the old adage: be careful what you wish for . . .
SO. DAY SHIFT is a little bit different than its predecessor. Manfred is still one of the main POVs, and we also hear a lot from Fiji and to a lesser degree Bobo, but Olivia joins Manfred in the spotlight, with Chuy and Joe holding their own as well.
And lemme tell you . . . it is interesting.
There are also several cast members from previous adventures with good, ol' Sookie, so that was fun too. In case you really want to know: (view spoiler)[QUINN and Barry the Bellboy. And did I mention QUINN? B/c QUINN is there. FYI. (hide spoiler)]
Plot-wise, we hit the ground running. As per usual with Harris this is a mystery, and the thing we're supposed to be figuring out happens almost immediately. The way it happens puts Manfred in a decidedly different type of spotlight than he is accustomed to: a murder suspect.
When his infamy brings journalists and camera crews to Midnight, Rev calls a meeting of the pertinent townsfolk and enlists the help of Olivia to find to real culprit so the outsiders will LEAVE.
Rev has much more authority over the residents than I previously realized . . .
Anyway, that's what's happening with the main story.
The problem . . . is that the main story pales in comparison to the secondary storylines:
1. Lemuel is mostly absent, and--to our knowledge--no progress is made concerning the books he got from Bobo at the end of book 1. 2. We get insight into Olivia's life, but not nearly enough. (view spoiler)[I get that she's crazy, but I want to know WHY she's crazy. (hide spoiler)] 3. Chuy and Joe, b/c WHOA, did not see that coming. But still need more information. 4. We have no idea why XXXXX is on the run from the Dallas vampires. 5. All the mystery surrounding the re-opening of the Hotel? Yeah, nothing there either.
So as entertaining as Manfred's Murder Mystery may have been, it was overshadowed by ALL THE THINGS in the background.
Another issue I had was that I didn't see a whole lot of difference between Olivia and (view spoiler)[Conner (hide spoiler)] from MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD. That was a problem for me, b/c while I understood why the residents did what they did, it was still . . . difficult to swallow. (view spoiler)[Conner was just a kid. But, yes, he was clearly a sociopath, so I willfully suspended disbelief and conceded that they handled it the only way they could.
So to watch Olivia behave in a similar manner . . . an adult . . . the girlfriend of the guy who snapped a teenager's neck . . . made it harder to accept what had happened to Conner. B/c Olivia is CRAZY. CRAY-ZIE. She's too temperamental to be classified as a sociopath like Conner, but a violent, murdering, narcissist?
So why does she get a pass when a 14-year-old kid gets dead? (hide spoiler)]
But despite these issues, I still enjoyed this second installment. In fact, the former of the two problems is just about the best flaw a book can have, b/c it leaves you chomping at the bit to see what happens next. Well played, Ms. Harris . . . well played. Overall, DAY SHIFT is an intriguing followup to MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD that left me, once again, anxious for the next chapter. Strange things are happening in this strange town and I don't want to miss any of them. I don't think you'll want to either. Recommended.
My other reviews for this series:
Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm probably going to make Sandersonite heads everywhere explode when I say this, but STEELHEART might be my new favoReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I'm probably going to make Sandersonite heads everywhere explode when I say this, but STEELHEART might be my new favorite Sanderson book. *does NOT duck* *does NOT run*
Is it the most beautifully complicated of his works?
Is it the plot-twistiest?
Is it the most direct and concise, sans anything that could be construed as meandering?
I love Sanderson. Unabashedly. But as someone who's spent a cumulative ten years with my husband, I can state with authority that 'love' does not mean 'blind to flaws.' #sorrynotsorry
And this was just FUN. Which was exactly what I needed after my last several books (I'm looking at you, Morning Star).
David is an orphan who's father was killed in front of him by an Epic (humans who began to manifest superhero-like powers after Calamity appeared in the sky--no, we don't know what Calamity is, but it might be my new favorite curse word) named Steelheart when he was a child. *squints* Okay, so it wasn't 100% flowers and rainbows, but beyond the sad backgrounds of several of our characters, it was frequently hilarious.
David and his terrible metaphors are the source of most of the hilarity:
I stopped as I noticed something different. Motorcycles. There were three of them in a row near the far side of the hallway. I hadn’t seen them at first, as I’d been focused on the guns. They were sleek, their bodies a deep green with black patterns running up their sides. They made me want to hunch over and crouch down to make myself have less wind resistance. I could imagine shooting through the streets on one of these. They looked so dangerous, like alligators. Really fast alligators wearing black. Ninja alligators.
Ninja alligators. *giggle snorts*
But David isn't a one man show, there's also the rest of the team:
“Don’t you ever pay attention?” Tia asked. “We’ve talked about this.” “He was cleaning his guns,” Abraham said. “I’m an artist,” Cody said. Abraham nodded. “He’s an artist.” “And cleanliness is next to deadliness,” Cody added.
Then there's the genius that is Sanderson. Part of the reason I loved STEELHEART was how much easier it was to backtrack the groundwork of his LIES.
See, Sanderson doesn't limit himself to unobtrusively weaving hints about future reveals. No, no . . . He deliberately leads you astray. Sometimes in numerous ways.
Sometimes he paints a clear picture in the very beginning, but then so skillfully undermines the idea that YOU LAUGH AT YOURSELF for having such silly thoughts.
In 1000+ pages of these machinations, it's impossible to look back and see where you went wrong. The best you can hope for is to find some of your missteps, while you throw heavy objects b/c you know, YOU KNOW, it said something about such-and-such-somewhere (<------does NOT make for good document searches), but you'll NEVER find it.
In less than 400 pages? Easy peasy.
I am learning the darks paths of your mind, Sanderson. I will not remain your puppet forever.
SO. Do you like supervillains? Do you like adorkable manboys who will not stand back and let evil triumph? Do you like NEVER being able to guess ALL THE THINGS an author has in store for you? Then you, friend, should give STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson a try. It is fantastic. Highly recommended.
Pre-review, part, the second:
WELL . . . That was equal parts spectacular and exhausting (b/c FEELS). I was a bit worried, b/c I thought MISTBORN #2 was OTT teen-angsty, and it wasn't even YA, so what would deliberate YA from Sanderson look like?
Perfection, that's what. Near perfection, anyway.
And I'm not just saying that b/c I . . . GUESSED THE MAIN PLOT TWIST!!
In a county that worships a death goddess, nine families of assassins are her chosen disciples. Each family executes (HA!) theReviewed by: Rabid Reads
In a county that worships a death goddess, nine families of assassins are her chosen disciples. Each family executes (HA!) their religious duty--legal assassination--from their individual territory, all except the Saldana and Da Via families whose territory is shared.
Unsurprisingly, these two families are also the top ranked, each of their blades kept sharp by the others', and, also unsurprisingly, while none of the families would ever consider one of the others an ally, the Saldanas and Da Vias share a particular rivalry.
That rivalry comes to a head when the Da Vias attack the Saldana home, setting it on fire and killing its residents in their beds.
But one Saldana got away . . . one girl, the youngest of her generation's active members, and Lea Saldana will not rest until the Da Vias pay for their treachery in blood.
From there it gets complicated.
In a good, intricate plot way, not a convoluted way.
Lea can be a bit much occasionally--like surgeons, arrogance is a required trait of assassins--but she grows on you as she herself grows into her character.
I also had some trouble in the middle of the book . . .
There's a lot of angst. Or maybe it's a little bit of angst compounded by the redundancy of the three pillars of The World According to Lea:
1. It's all my fault. 2. Trust can only end in betrayal. 3. Keep your eye on the prize (the prize being DEATH for ALL Da Vias).
BUT. Eventually, she calms down and things get interesting again.
And it really is interesting. Lea's world's pantheon is full of gods who are REAL. Not just effigies waved around to make the peasants keep toiling away in hopes of a better afterlife. The gods' priests have real power, and the gods themselves reach out directly to their favored followers.
It's really cool.
And as long as you don't let yourself get too philosophical about the realities of having legal assassination (jealous lovers, greedy business men, etc. having a green light to take a hit out on the competition), that's a pretty cool concept, too.
BONUS, no cliffhanger. In fact, the ending was so the exact opposite of a cliffhanger that I have no idea where we're headed next. But I will find out. ASSASSIN'S HEART by Sarah Ahiers is the most promising first installment of a YA fantasy series I've read recently, and I highly recommend it to any fan of the genre, especially those of you who (like me) love assassins.
So here's the deal . . . I saw a lot of improvement in SUMMER KNIGHT. A LOT.
I was introduced to several new characters whom IReviewed by: Rabid Reads
So here's the deal . . . I saw a lot of improvement in SUMMER KNIGHT. A LOT.
I was introduced to several new characters whom I instantly loved: Ebenezar, Listens to Wind, the Gatekeeper, Meryl . . . a couple old favorites made appearances: Billy the Werewolf and Toot, but better than the well-loved characters, both old and new, was the dramatic rehabilitation of Murphy.
I know I mentioned in my review of FOOL MOON that I was not a fan of Murphy . . . that was a gross understatement. She was obnoxious and mistrustful. She was violent and irrational. She was just unlikable. I wrote her off as one more attractive female who Harry made himself an idiot over.
Normally when there's as dramatic a change as what happened with Murphy, it's unbelievable and feels forced. You don't trust it and you wait to see what their game is . . . but Butcher made it work. Her brand of snark blends well into the mix that makes up a person who can lose their mind when pushed too far. Her violent response to having information withheld in dire circumstances paves the way to a cease fire when Harry finally begins to reveal the secrets of his world, and even if those things weren’t true, giving us insight into her emotional state made me want to cut her some slack anyway.
Which is good b/c this new, improved Murphy is friggin' hilarious. And Murphy and Harry together . . . well, I could get used to this:
“You did what?” “Put on the boots,” Murphy said. “I put on the boots and kicked some monster ass. I dropped the ghoul, and I’m the one who rammed a chain saw through the head of that plant monster thing. Crippled the ogre, too. What did you do? You threw a can of Sterno at him. That’s barely an assist.” “Yeah, but I soaked him in gasoline first.” She snorted at me, around more pizza. “Shutout.” “Whatever.” “Murphy three, Dresden zero.” “You didn’t do all of it.” “I put on the boots.” I raised my hands. “Okay, okay. You’ve . . . got boots, Murph.” She sniffed and took an almost dainty sip of Coke. “Lucky I was there.”
And we all know that I love the Fae. The Dresdenites who already make a habit of telling Dresden noobs that the series starts "getting good" at book 4 were full of Harry-like glee in anticipation to my reaction to Butcher's Fae.
And they were good Fae. They were. I liked them.
Butcher somehow managed to make them wonderfully tricksy Fae . . . without making much use of their tricksy Fae-ness, and Harry, despite having years of knowledge from study and experience with the denizens of the Nevernever . . . seems quite hapless about them in many ways.
I mean, COME ON. An unbelievably beautiful woman with WHITE hair (who isn't old) and WINTER coloring who smells of flowers and WILDNESS walks into your office, and you don't figure out she's Fae until you cobble together something about your office door being unlocked, and ultimately it's built on suspicions about your Faerie Godmother?
He should have just looked at her and thought, "FAE." He didn't need to make up reasons why, who cares why? An obviously Fae woman is in your office. The end.
But that was just irritating. The real problem was the plot line.
There are half a dozen good options for Bad Guys that I can name off the top of my head, and (view spoiler)[crazy Fae girl (hide spoiler)] isn't one of them.
Not only was Bad Guy a seriously lame choice for the Bad Guy, but the reason behind he/she/its Bad Guy-ness . . . didn't hold water for me. (view spoiler)[I mean, sure, you can blame just about anything on madness . . . but there's a reason the insanity plea rarely works. (hide spoiler)] <------b/c it's lazy and a cop out.
Basically, I'm loving the characters, but the lack of a truly great plot line . . . even a character-driven reader like myself can only give a series the benefit of the doubt for so long. So far only one of four (FOOL MOON) has been really good. Maybe I wouldn't be so burned out if it weren't for the occasional rearing of Butcher's inner-adolescent on the humor front:
"You are, I take it, Harry Dresden?” “If I’m not, he’s going to be upset with me when he catches me running around in his underpants.”
So yeah, without the teenage boy humor, maybe the characters would be enough to keep me going. As it is, you've got one more book to convince me that this series is worth it, b/c so far . . . I'm not seeing it.
My love for Ilona Andrews is not something I attempt to keep hidden. I can in fact be rather obnoxious about it. #sorrynotsorry
Their books ar4.5 stars
My love for Ilona Andrews is not something I attempt to keep hidden. I can in fact be rather obnoxious about it. #sorrynotsorry
Their books are typically so far ahead of their peers, so much better in all the major areas--character development, world-building, interesting and original plot lines--AND they're hilarious to boot.
I feel like this warrants a certain level of fangirling.
That being said, I was disappointed by one of their books for the first time when Kate #7 came out last year. Don't get me wrong, it was still a decent book . . . but I've been conditioned to expect more of the Andrews.
By itself, it wouldn't have been a huge deal, but before that, while still really enjoying Kate #6, I had a handful of issues . . . weredolphins, various Kate/Curran situations that I ultimately understood but did not like . . .
And while being a minority, I know that I am not alone in my feelings in either of those cases . . . which makes me happier than I could ever adequately communicate to inform you:
One of my favorite things about the Andrews is that in every installment they take a myth, a creature of legend, a campfire story specific to one location or with roots across the globe, and while remaining true to the base elements, they somehow manage to make it wholly their own:
Necromancers? Double check.
Shifters? Check x100.
To name a few.
In MAGIC SHIFTS, we meet their version of the ghoul. *shudders*
Ghouls usually fall on the low end of my Interesting Supernatural Creatures list, b/c 1. I don't like dead things, and 2. They eat dead people.
Kind of a double whammy.
These ghouls are sentient . . . ish. Also, they're not dead.
I've encountered ghouls that were cowards and mindless scavengers, and I've encountered ghouls that were basically humans with unfortunate dietary requirements, but never ghouls that fell somewhere in between . . . Ghouls too driven by their hunger for dead flesh to qualify as human, but wily and just capable enough of rational thought not to be disregarded as animals. There are levels, some ghouls retaining more of their humanity than others, but the majority of those we meet . . . o.O
It may not sound like much of a distinction, but I found this version . . . significantly more sinister than either of its counterparts: a smart monster who would like nothing more than to violently end your life for the express purpose of letting your carcass decay before eating it.
*convulses with shudders*
SO. The Andrews put their own unique spin on even the most tired supernatural creatures.
But that's merely the tip of the Andrews' iceberg of awesome.
One of the easiest pitfalls for an UF series to fall into is the Post Get Together Doldrums. Even if you think you have no idea what I'm talking about, I promise, you do. It's when the heroine and her main love interest finally get their shit together and begin their HEA . . . and you're suddenly bored.
Oh, if they hadn't finally gotten together, you'd be furious, maybe even furious enough to rage quit the series (we readers are terribly hard on authors, aren't we?), but now . . . Turns out there's a reason all the fairytales end with, "and they lived happily ever after."
Happily ever after is boring. It's enough to know that's what they're doing, we don't need to know the specifics.
Not so, KATE DANIELS.
In part, this is due to a slight modification of "HEA."
What Kate and Curran have is more TEA (together ever after) b/c KATE DANIELS is the most action-packed series I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
With the focus on the what is happening to the characters b/c plot vs. what is happening to the characters b/c character development (we no longer need the focus to be on development--they're awesome and we love them already), the Andrews don't have to come up with asinine scenarios in which their love is repeatedly tested, blah-friggin'-blah.
Instead Kate and Curran work together, not only letting each other exist simply as they are, but loving each other for it, and knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses so well that they help each other be their most deadly and efficient selves . . .
It's equal parts refreshing, gripping, and hilarious.
But they aren't mother birds pushing each other out of the nest, no, they are not. They have each other's backs. Always.
When something threatens Kate:
The insect pointed a leg at me. “Die.” Curran’s eyes went gold. His clothes tore, falling in shreds to the street, as the massive meld of human and lion spilled out. “Let’s see you try that shit on me.”
And in return:
Curran stood in the middle of the street, his hands still locked on the insect’s front pair of legs. The spider-scorpion was lunging at him again and again, trying to grip him with its pincers. If those mandibles closed on Curran, they’d slice his arms off. Oh no, you don’t. I charged the spider
But even greater than the Andrews' ability to take a known quantity and make it new and interesting or to keep a steady, committed relationship from becoming meh, is the way they weave threads throughout their story drawing a multitude of different factors, people, and events into a cohesive whole.
I say this a lot, b/c it's an element of one of my book peeves, but with MAGIC SHIFTS it is especially true: the sum is greater than the parts.
No one--NO ONE--does this better than Ilona and Gordon Andrews.
I'm not going to tell you what the Big Bad is. You'll find out in the book. Eventually. I will tell you that I was utterly sick of this creature. I may have even groaned a little bit when I figured out what it was. BUT. Andrews. The end.
Read it and see what I'm talking about. HIGHLY recommended.
2. Watching Kate stress over one of her loved ones is rough . . . Watching Curran in agony b/c Kate is hurt . . . infinitely worse.
3. I friggin' hate Mahon. I don't care if he came around in the end. I don't think it was b/c he saw the error of his ways. I think it was b/c he felt like it (b/c reasons and who the hell knows what those reasons are), and ultimately he'll keep being just as big of an ass as he always has been.
4. If you haven't already heard me say it half a dozen times, I friggin' LOVE Luther. He's hilarious. And useful. And scary if you invade his territory. GAH. LOVE.
5. I don't think Roland is going to do-the-thing. I think the djinn was manipulating Kate b/c didn't want to be trapped in a box made of his enemy's skull. Maybe that's just wishful (HA!) thinking, but, DAMMIT, I like Roland. *kicks aluminum can* (hide spoiler)]
WELP. That was freaking awesome. That was the Kate Daniels I've been missing the last two books. No awful secrets like Kate #6. No dramatic departures from accepted behaviors of MCs or inexplicable randomness like Kate #7. Just Kate and Curran (and co.) in all their EPIC hilarity and wonderfulness that is KATE DANIELS.
I've been a champion of THE LUNAR CHRONICLES for years now. I saw CINDER featured for months and months on Fantastic FictionReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I've been a champion of THE LUNAR CHRONICLES for years now. I saw CINDER featured for months and months on Fantastic Fiction (b/c before I started using Goodreads), and I was simultaneously intrigued and horrified by the concept of a sci-fi YA retelling of a fairy tale. Honestly, I don't remember what finally convinced me to pick it up. I was just glad I did.
Now I'm not so sure. The first two books were fantastic, and while I wasn’t quite as fond of the third, it wasn’t awful.
After finishing WINTER, I added two new bookshelves (a record) to my Goodreads collection:
And for the second time this year (though for very different reasons), this will be a two-part review--a nonspoilery review first, followed by a spoiler-tagged RANT.
I hate WINTER, Part I:
1. Unexplained plot threads.
Threads. As in plural. I can only talk about one here, but there are many more, and two of them are HUGE.
Meyer got away without having to focus on the romantic evolution of most of her MC couples in WINTER. Cinder and Kai have been around since book 1. Scarlet and Wolf, almost as long, plus Wolf’s animal instincts make it believable. Winter and Jacin, b/c they’ve loved each other FOREVER.
Cress and Thorne? Not so much.
Cress has very real, very legitimate issues with Thorne and his incorrigible need to flirt with any and all present females, and Thorne is a life-long womanizer. But these obstacles never get directly addressed. We're just supposed to accept that Cress is "different" and Thorne really has changed, without any concrete evidence to support those claims.
Call me cynical, but I'd learned that lesson by the time I was twenty.
2. Winter and Jacin feel like guests in their own story.
I didn't go back and do the math, but I'd guess that only 5 - 10% of this monster was spent on Winter and Jacin as a couple. I'll grant you that the time spent on their coupleness was fantastic. I'll even say that it was as fantastic as the stuff we saw with Scarlet and Wolf (my personal favorite couple).
These moments were so few and far between that they were completely overwhelmed by ALL THE OTHER THINGS.
In the end, I was convinced their love was real. I just didn't care.
3. ALL THE OTHER THINGS.
There was entirely too much happening in this book. I don't know if Meyer couldn't maintain the quality of writing we've become accustomed to, or if she was frazzled from trying to fit everything in, but WINTER was choked with clumsily handled side plots.
Parts of the story evolution are so lazy, it's almost like Meyer expected the leftover adrenaline from all the BAD THINGS, the one area where she continued to excel (unexpectedly dropping truly horrible obstacles on our MCs), to carry us right over the discrepancies.
And for a lot of people that probably worked.
4. EXTREME repetition for added shock factor.
I almost DNF-ed this book. I was 80% into it, but I did not care, I was ready to take all 800+ pages to the shooting range and use it for target practice.
B/c I was so over Lunars taking control of 1/2 of our MC couples and making them try to kill the other half.
YES. I get it. Lunars SUCK. They will steal your free will and make you do really bad stuff. LIKE KILL YOUR FRIENDS or your ONE TRUE LOVE.
ALSO, death was constantly imminent. Someone(s) would get captured, execution would be inevitable, HA HA, just kidding! Escape, wheeeeeeee!
Over and over and OVER again.
5. How the end played out (and this is my NUMERO UNO problem, FYI):
This isn't really a spoiler, but if you're one of those readers who wants to go into a book completely blind, I'd skip this part. Actually, if you're one of those types of readers, I'd avoid reviews entirely.
Anyway, Levana is pure evil. We know this. We've known this for a looooooong time. She has done so many horrible, shocking, despicable things, and she is CRAZY.
She has to die. The end.
The question is how to do it? How do we take down this master of bioelectricity manipulation?
The possibilities are endless.
So imagine my surprise and OUTRAGE when a huge part of that plan involves revealing to the world what Levana looks like underneath that veil.
And I'm furious all over again.
I'm furious b/c I HATE Levana, and I'm furious that I have to be outraged on her behalf. I'm furious b/c what in the effing hell is the point of having a cyborg mechanic for a princess, if you're going to have her go all Mean Girl on the crazy chick?
B/c Levana is a rabid dog.
You don't kick a rabid dog. You don't jeer and laugh at it b/c UGLY. You put it out of it's misery. The-effing-end.
And that's it for the first portion of of my review. I can't adequately communicate how disappointing WINTER by Marissa Meyer is without spoilers, but I hope you at least get the gist. This is the worst last book in a previously beloved series I have ever encountered. I did not know it was possible to be this underwhelmed, this unhappily surprised, this ANGRY about a book from an author whose past work had been stellar. I’m undecided about whether or not the early installments warrant an overall recommendation. Your call. Ugh.
I hate WINTER, Part II:
NOT kidding, there are spoilers EVERYWHERE in there. DO NOT click unless you've already read the book, or have no intentions of ever doing so. (view spoiler)[
1. Unexplained and DANGLING plot threads (in order of least to greatest importance, according to ME):
The unidentified RAT. Yes, Cress was primarily responsible for all the spyware in Kai's palace, but no matter how great a hacker you are, you can't manifest cameras and listening devices in strategic locations.
So how did they get there?
I was convinced Torin had been brainwashed, but even without him being the culprit, someone else had to be. But who?
I guess we'll never know.
Iko's personality chip. This is how it went down:
a. Garan's unnecessary software updates are mentioned, making it more than obvious that something is hinky.
c. Cinder unconscious for three days.
d. Cinder wakes up and IMMEDIATELY calls for meeting of world powers, where she announces Garan's research is, and has always been, in Iko's wacky personality chip.
Okay, fine. I'd pretty much guessed as much based the aforementioned OBVIOUS clue. BUT. Cinder never actually confirmed this speculation. And based on Iko's surprise at the announcement, it's clear Cinder didn't check it out off-page either.
That's a NEAT trick.
Wolf's (further) genetic modifications. Wolf spent his early years as one of Levana's super soldiers in constant fear that he'd fail somehow and end up back on the operating table. Everything he did from the time he woke up from his initial mods was in pursuit of avoiding the lot of the majority of his soldier brethren.
B/c more animal than human. B/c slaves to instincts. B/c specifically created to be violent, remorseless killing machines.
And when he woke up, I'll admit I was concerned. In fact, of ALL the Bad Things, this one upset me most. B/c LOVE Wolf. And his fear of this exact fate was palpable.
But oh, look at that . . . He's pretty much the same Wolf he's always been except for a few cosmetic changes. Presumably b/c Scarlet (mate/alpha/blah/whatever), but who can really say, b/c Meyer certainly didn't.
ALL that buildup, all that fear, all that pressure . . . all for nothing, apparently.
2. ALL THE OTHER THINGS:
I've already said waaaaay too much was happening in this book . . . Meyer got lazy. Some of that laziness is evident in the unresolved plot lines, but it's also a problem with various foreshadowings.
In laying the groundwork for future plot twists, instead of the subtlety, the carefully inserted details that thrilled us in hindsight, we got this:
“Why did I pass out?” Cinder interrupted. Crouching beside the couch, Jacin felt for the pulse in Cinder’s wrist. After a short silence, he let it drop down again. “Stress, probably, along with your physical reaction to having the portscreen connected to your”—he gestured to her general head area—“ computer thing.” “And you call me squeamish,” said Thorne. Cinder squinted. “I passed out from stress? That’s it?” “I believe the princess term is fainted,” said Thorne.
Riiiiiight. After being completely submerged in water, after a 4+ story swan dive, she passed out b/c STRESS.
Do I even need to address all the problems with this?
How 'bout I limit it to this one: in the past, every, single time Cinder has passed out/come close to passing out, her computer brain exploded into a frenzy of cautions and warnings.
Not this time.
So somehow, I just wasn't surprised when it was later revealed that Cinder did in fact have something seriously wrong with her.
Shades of Panem.
That's pretty self-explanatory, but Luna, its outer districts and their function, the inability to communicate between the districts and thus rebel in force . . . It all felt strangely familiar . . .
There were also RIDICULOUSLY overused plot devices. Like this:
“I accept,” Cinder said, dazed. She kept hold of Levana’s trigger finger but allowed Levana to lower the gun. Cinder held out her hand and Levana stared at it for a moment before reaching forward and setting the gun into Cinder’s palm. In the same movement, she grabbed the forgotten knife and lurched forward, driving the blade into Cinder’s heart.
Are. You. Effing kidding me?
3. EXTREME overuse of Lunar gifts for added shock factor:
This primarily manifests in the utilization of mind control, which I already mentioned.
What I couldn't say is that in quick succession, a random thaumaturge forces Scarlet to try to kill Wolf, AIMERY (the swine) forces Winter to try to strangle Jacin, and Levana forces Thorne to attack DAMN EVERYBODY, but especially Cress, whom he stabs IN THE GUT.
And that's not the only time something like this happens, it's just the most memorable.
SIDE NOTE: I've decided to add "No mind control" to my list of rules b/c it makes everything too damn easy.
Winter. She is as CRAY as Levana, but in a far less nefarious way.
Her crazy is self-inflicted, b/c she refuses--I mean absolutely refuses--to use her Lunar gift.
Until she doesn't. Refuse, that is.
Don't misunderstand, I didn't want her to kill Jacin. And if this was the only instance of inconsistency, I probably would've let it slide.
But it wasn't.
Jacin's parents weren't executed, as ordered. Again, it's not like I wanted his parents to die.
But it's constantly reiterated that Levana does exactly what she says she's going to do. That's why Scarlet cut off her own finger. That's why Winter contemplated the uselessness of Dude-on-trial-for-rescuing/attempting-to-rescue-his-shell-child's begging for mercy for his family, b/c once Levana says they're to be killed/enslaved, that is what will happen.
And yet, Jacin's parents escaped their fate b/c they'd conveniently relocated?
LIKE THAT WOULD STOP HER. Especially when she went there herself to dose Winter with THE PLAGUE.
Levana's complete and total meltdown b/c true appearance revealed. Let me see if I've got this right . . .
Levana, so thoroughly insane and DETERMINED that she both convinces herself that she is the best woman for the job of Queen, then carries out various horrific plots to attain her selfless goal, just gives up when the world sees her real face? Is so distraught that she can barely control the most basic bioelectrical manipulations?
Hmm . . . that's mighty convenient for Cinder . . . but somehow I'm not convinced.
5. How the end played out:
Seeing Levana on the palace steps was the first time Iko had ever seen the Lunar queen, and her scarred face made Iko wish she wasn’t immune to glamours. After years of hearing about the queen’s famous beauty, the truth had been something of a letdown. But the truth was out. Thanks to Cinder’s video, now everyone knew what lurked beneath the illusion.
You know what I took away from this book?
Winter is pretty. She's so, so pretty. She might be the prettiest girl in the world. And, BONUS, she's naturally pretty.
Levana is ugly. So very ugly. Sickeningly ugly. B/c scarred in childhood trauma involving FIRE.
You: How awful! Me: YES. It is.
See, I went to school with a girl who had pulled a pot of boiling water on her head when she was a toddler, so I know exactly what that type of injury looks like. The rough, uneven scar tissue. The way that scar tissue pulls down the corner of your eye and mouth . . .
It is permanent, it is (superficially) hideous, and even if she hadn't been one of the nicest people I'd ever met, I would NEVER have been able to bring myself to use such a tragic accident against her.
Some things are beyond the pale.
But Meyer made the results of a similar accident the main weakness of our sociopathic, megalomaniac villain. Our villain--whom I DESPISED, for a MULTITUDE of excellent reasons--but whose #1 goal in the midst of her madness was to be LOVED.
So let's run her out of town b/c UGLY.
That's definitely where our focus should be. Not on the scheming and machinations, not on the infanticide, the sororicide, not on commandeering her people's children for her army and her experiments, but on her scars. On her physical flaws.
You disgust me.
And I don't want to hear any, "How else could they have defeated her?" arguments. That's not my job. That was Meyer's job. And I think she failed. Miserably. (hide spoiler)]
My other reviews for this series:
Here's another Jessica quirk: I LOVE sci-fi on screen, but I rarely like reading it. I have no idea why. Some things just are.Reviewed by: Rabid Reads
Here's another Jessica quirk: I LOVE sci-fi on screen, but I rarely like reading it. I have no idea why. Some things just are.
BUT. I binge-watched The Expanse last week, and it was good enough that it made me curious. There were no giant-insects-as-aliens, no surplus of tech gobbledygook, and no discernible artificial intelligence (the things that make me avoid sci-fi literature, even though I can usually handle the movie version), and what there was was mysteriously mysterious, plus, you know, SPACE, so pretty great, IMO.
The story revolves around two male MCs, Jim Holden, the XO of the ice-hauling freighter Canterbury, and Joe Miller, a washed-up, "prototypical Noir dectective" (description stolen from Mike, b/c it's darn near perfect, and I didn't want to bother coming up with my own lesser version).
Holden is a thirty-ish bright-eyed idealist whose naivete borders on unbelievable, given his dishonorable discharge from the UN Navy (for punching a superior officer who needed to be punched, if I remember correctly) amongst other things. He's also rather immature about relationships, convincing himself that he's in love with every female he lusts after. His actions would've been more consistent with someone ten years younger, but then he wouldn't have the experience to land his XO gig, so what are you going to do?
Miller . . . is a hot tepid mess. He's in his mid-fifties, divorced in what feels like the recent past, but in reality is probably going on a decade ago, and unable to move on. He's a drunk. He moves through life in a contradictory haze of apathy and regret. Then, when he's forced to face a personal truth that he's thus far insulated himself from, he latches on to his last assignment: a retrieval job for the rich parents of a young woman who has turned her back on her upbringing to champion the Belters, the dregs and underdogs of her world.
During his detecting, Miller becomes infatuated with the Earthen-turned-Belter freedom fighter. He's obsessed with finding her, convincing himself that if he can save Juliette Andromeda Mao, all of life's disappointments and failures will be worth it.
It's another stretch, or at least it was for me, but I'm inexperienced in all things Noir, so maybe that's my ignorance talking.
Regardless, both Holden's idealism and Miller's transference were stretches that I was willing and able to accommodate, in part b/c of the character growth both MCs went through from start to finish.
At first, I straight-up didn't like Holden. I thought he was an idiot, who recklessly made decisions that had consequences he couldn't begin to understand, and a manwhore who justified his manwhoring by believing his was in lurrrrve. Every, single time. *rolls eyes*
But just as I was about to write him off, someone schooled him about a little thing called REALITY, and that in conjunction with several other hard-earned lessons he eventually took to heart, he turned into someone I could admire. He was no longer an unrealistic dreamer, he was an uncorruptible man who stood by the principles that guided every aspect of his life.
Miller . . . damn near broke my heart.
The only other thing I'll say about him is that (view spoiler)[the Romantic in me wishes and hopes that he's with Julie now. That when he inevitably succumbed to the protomolecule, he bonded with her, and she knew him and accepted him the way he knew her. *WAILS* (hide spoiler)]
Something readers coming to LEVIATHAN WAKES post-Syfy series should know is that Chrisjen Avasarala doesn't show up until book 2, CALIBAN'S WAR. The absence of any female POVs makes this a very male-driven story, but I've been assured that problem (if you see that as a problem) is resolved in the later installments. CALIBAN'S WAR introduces not only Chrisjen Avasarala, but also a "space Brienne with power armor." (<------description also courtesy of Mike.)
*visions of Aeryn Sun dance in my head*
The first half of the book is mostly repeat, if you've watched the series, but I knew that going into it, and when I hit new material at the midway point, it took off. So that's also important to know: season one of the Syfy series doesn't cover the entire first book, only half of it.
So maybe it's consistently like this throughout the book for people who read LEVIATHAN WAKES prior to watching THE EXPANSE, but at around 60%, revelation upon revelation starting being revealed, and in a holy-crap-that's-so-cool or holy-crap-WTF?! kind of way, not an overwhelming bombardment of information kind of way.
I plowed through it, resenting every moment I had to spend away from it, and when I finally got to the ending, it was perfect. There were enough unanswered questions to keep me eager to read the next installment, while still having sufficient closure to be satisfying. And the closure allowed me to appreciate Corey's wry humor in a way I probably missed in earlier parts of the book, b/c too desperate to find out WHAT IS HAPPENING to pay attention to silly things like the subtleties of wry humor. Fred Johnson's reference to himself as a "marriage counselor" even made laugh out loud.
Verdict: LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S. A. Corey is sci-fi enough to satisfy the hardcore fans of the genre without being overwhelming to the rest of us who just kinda like space and the idea of intelligent life in the universe. This mystery is just beginning to unravel and I will definitely be reading CALIBAN'S WAR to find out what happens next. Highly recommended.