There's a special kind of chaos that went into the creation of PRETTY DEADLY.
The installments begin from the POV of a bunny and a butterfly and are told with fable-like flair, but as the main characters are human, there's a significance to our animal narrators that isn't immediately understood. I say "understood" b/c there's a lot that is never explained, just implied.
Combine that with the maelstrom of images that bombard you as the violence escalates, and . . . like I said, chaos.
That's not to say I didn't like this collection of the first five PRETTY DEADLY episodes, I absolutely did. I maybe even loved it.
The story woven through each installment had the feel of a folktale, but it was one I'd never heard before: a man wed a beautiful woman, and overcome with fear of losing her to another, he built a tower to keep her in. She swore she'd die if he locked her away, and that's what she did . . . But not before Death fell in love with her too.
After that things get interesting.
And when the art wasn't making my eyes twitch (b/c overwhelming), it was beautiful . . . but sometimes also disturbing . . . Pretty . . . Deadly . . . I see what you did there . . .
Basically, it's a new fairy tale set in Wild West with gorgeous artwork, AND it's clever to boot. What's not to like? Highly recommended.
ALSO, that other old god is after Maika b/c she's some kind of superior host, so does that mean every old god that slithers out of their cage is going to be after her as well? (hide spoiler)]
One of the things I'm discovering that I love about graphic novels is the way they hit the ground running. The creators don't toy with you the way writers of traditional books sometimes do--they don't have the time to draw out anything beyond the most important Secrets.
MONSTRESS, for example, opens with a slave auction, and the inquiries made about Lot 819 reveal the specific brand of prejudice that governs this world. You learn of a war that seems to have ended, while the thriving slave trade continues to fan the flames of hate.
There's no guesswork, and any confusion about terminology resolves itself quickly.
I friggin' LOVE it.
Our heroine, Maika Halfwolf, is the girl currently up for bid, but (once again) it quickly becomes obvious that she's only there b/c she wants to be.
YEP. You read that correctly: dollface WANTS to be auctioned off like livestock. And not only that, she's banking on the Cumaea, a witchy faction of humans, crashing the shindig and claiming the Arcanics, a race of beings with natural magic, for themselves.
Dun dun dunnnnnn . . . For research purposes . . . o.O
Just b/c graphic novels tend to be more straightforward than their picture-free counterparts, doesn't mean they aren't twisty.
Maika, you see, is looking for information.
Before the war ended, something happened (was done?) to her . . . Something that has recently begun to affect her in ways she can't control. It's made her dangerous, and she's desperate for answers.
Along the way, she picks up a two-tailed sasshole of a cat, a girl child with a fox tail, and an angry dialogue with the thing that plagues her.
Every aspect of MONSTRESS drew me in--the characters, the world-building, the plot, ALL of it. Everything else became a distraction to be ignored. I didn't give any thought to the why of it, as I tore through the beautifully illustrated pages, but at the end of the first volume, Liu wrote a letter about her intent when she began this series:
. . . The root of my desire . . . was to tell a story about what it means to be a survivor. A survivor, not just of a cataclysmic war, but of racial conflict and its antecedent: hatred. And to confront the question: how does one whom history has made a monster, escape her monstrosity? How does one overcome the monstrousness of others without succumbing to a rising monstrousness within?
All I can say is, well done, lady. Well. Done.
MONSTRESS by Marjorie M. Liu is the first collection (volumes 1 - 6) of her new graphic novel series that is part steampunk, part fantasy, and ALL awesome. Maika's struggle to control the monster inside her is inspiring to watch, b/c that's what it was: a struggle. But surrender is a concept she threatens to rip out of herself every time it whispers about the easier path, and as she slowly gains the upper hand, you can't help but sing "All I do is Win" under your breath, b/c she'd rather die than quit. Highly recommended.
If you haven't been seeing/hearing the buzz surrounding THE CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat, you've probably been living under aReviewed by: Rabid Reads
If you haven't been seeing/hearing the buzz surrounding THE CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat, you've probably been living under a rock. I'd seen it EVERYWHERE, even before one of my favorite authors recommended it in her newsletter (<------why I finally caved).
My impression before reading it was that it was some kind of pseudo-fantasy/MM/BDSM mashup . . . and that impression was fairly accurate.
Not my typical choice of reading material, but HYPE. And CURIOSITY. *shakes fist at curiosity gods*
As one might guess from the title (if one pays attention to things like titles *shakes fist at self*), the MC of this tale is a prince (Damen) made captive . . . A prince given as a sex slave to the prince and heir (Laurent) of a rival kingdom, only they don't know he's a prince, but that's a good thing, b/c Damen did a really, really Bad Thing in the last war, and if Laurent found out Damen was actually the REAL Damen, and not just called "Damen" b/c Kastor (Damen's illegitimate usurping half-brother) thought Laurent would be amused by having a sex slave named for the man he most hates in the world . . . Well, that would be Bad.
Did all of that cross your eyes? B/c as convoluted as it sounds, it's deceptively simple.
What isn't simple is everything that came after the initial introductions, and how I feel about it.
Obviously, as a prince, Damen isn't too keen on becoming a sex slave. But who cares? B/c sex slave.
And even though there technically wasn't much sex (on page), the hedonistic attitude of the nobility permeated the atmosphere, and the threat was constant, like background noise. And YES . . . I do mean threat.
But in that weird, willful suspension of disbelief way that's exciting even as you're consciously uncomfortable.
Enter Nicaise, the thirteen-year-old "pet" of a dirty old man in Laurent's court. The thirteen-year-old who's been serving in his role as "pet" for THREE YEARS. Who is maneuvering to keep his position, b/c he knows--EVERYONE knows--that he has maybe another year before he outgrows his master's tastes.
So there are two things you need to know before picking up this book:
1. There's rape. 2. There's pedophilia.
I almost stopped 20% in, when Nicaise first showed up. I'm not sure what kept me going. Could've been the remnants of curiosity. Could've been the person who made an asinine comment on one of my status updates about how pedophilia isn't being endorsed by the book, which pissed me off enough to make me want to finish it, all the better to KILL IT WITH FIRE. B/c really? Show me a book that does endorse the sexual violation of children, and I'll show you a jail cell. #GTFO
Either way, I kept going.
And much to my chagrin, I found myself fascinated by Laurent.
He's a prince with the foul mouth of a tavern brawler. Hatred burns in his eyes, but he almost always maintains a perfect calmness that is infuriating. He's a brilliant manipulator who superficially appears to be no more than an indulged royal brat.
Beyond my newfound obsession with Laurent, I was reading not only to try to understand my prince, but in anticipation of other (despicable) characters' downfalls.
So I'm hooked. *shrugs awkwardly*
But if I'd known what I was getting into, I'd never have started.
A secondary issue was the thinly veiled attempt to elevate the book above the stereotypes of its genre.
I have an extensive vocabulary. I majored in English, but even if I hadn't, you can't read as much as I do and not pick up an impressive number of words along the way.
Even so, it's not unusual for me to make use of the handy, dandy word lookup feature found on all ereaders.
What is unusual is having to use said lookup feature every few pages.
It took awhile to catch on, so I missed the early ones, but after I grew wise to the tactic, I began highlighting: appurtenances, peripatetic, damascened, febrile, machicolation, etc.
I could go on . . . and on . . . and on.
After I acclimated to the overuse of words rarely (if ever) found . . . anywhere, I began to notice that many of them were frou frou stand-ins for more common words and phrases.
A man didn't frown. His "smooth brow corrugated."
A room wasn't ostentatious, it was, "afroth with ornament."
I was pretty sure "afroth" wasn't a real word. I was further convinced when the word lookup yielded no results. BUT. Word lookup isn't infallible, so I googled it . . . And discovered that it was a real word, but had been misused. Unless Pacat intended to say the ornaments in the room were, "in a state of lively or angry excitement."
I usually applaud the Shakespearean tactic of adapting, evolving, creating words to suit your purposes . . .
In this case, it felt disingenuous.
Like the author had hangups about the type of book she was writing--SMUT. Maybe intelligent SMUT, but still SMUT--and decided to overcompensate by impressing her readers with her intelligence and/or education via the implementation of obscure words that none of us have ever heard of.
Instead, it provided a distraction, b/c constantly having to lookup words.
SO. THE CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat is a deeply flawed book, despite its low page count. If you can handle rape and sexual exploitation as abhorrent cultural practices, then you, too, should willingly fling yourself into this deep, dark hole. If you can't, RUN AWAY. If you don't, you'll probably find yourself as entangled as I am, but you've been forewarned, so you'll have only yourself to blame.
If book 2 isn't the significant improvement I'm promised . . . Heads. Will. ROLL.
SPOILERY final thoughts:
(view spoiler)[Unless Pacat is laying false trails, I think it's pretty obvious that Regent orchestrated the deaths of both Laurent's father (the King) and older brother. Both Damen and Laurent believe their side was the one betrayed by the other, and that REEKS of a puppet master.
ALSO, the second Nicaise was revealed to be Regent's pet, it made sense both why Regent didn't just kill Laurent as well, and why Laurent has such violent reactions to the strong taking advantage of the weak.
1. You CANNOT skip this novella. I'm not saying that b/c love the Andrews (which I blReviewed by: Rabid Reads
A few things to know in advance:
1. You CANNOT skip this novella. I'm not saying that b/c love the Andrews (which I bloody well do). I'm saying that b/c at least three major events take place in this book. THREE. At least.
2. We finally get in Derek's head. A lot of you have been concerned about Boy Wonder for awhile now. As the series progresses, he gets more and more withdrawn, more and more . . . cardboard. This is worrisome. We know the circumstances surrounding his entrance to the Pack, and, just like his face since the rakshasas got ahold of him in MAGIC STRIKES, they aren't pretty.
What we didn't know is how much harder he struggles for equilibrium than the average shapeshifter. How useless he feels now that he can no longer charm important information out of persons of interest for Pack security. How he's reconciled himself to a Lone Wolf's existence.
In MAGIC STARS, we learn all that and so much more.
3. We learn what Julie's been up to. Besides learning to wield tomahawks and occasionally hanging out with Roland when Kate's not looking.
Dollface has been busy.
Our story opens with Derek ambushing a group of men who killed a family who were business acquaintances of Kate and co. Only his desire to know why these men murdered the Iveses keeps him from slaughtering them when he kicks their door down, and find out he does: they were mercenaries hired to retrieve a rock for a warlock named Caleb Adams.
BUT. They didn't recover the rock. *whispers* Maybe b/c they killed the Iveses rather than asking them where it was. Eejits.
Whatever. Derek heads back to the Iveses' home to look for it himself--If Caleb Adams wants it, Caleb Adams isn't going to get it.
Caleb Adams is goin' down.
Where does Julie come into all this?
Read it and find out. Suffice it to say that this is definitely a team effort, and, man alive, do they make an excellent team. *waggles eyebrows*
Mythology-wise, I loved the Fae feel of this novella's obstacles. I suspect at least two of the creatures have their roots in Russian fairy tales (probably all three), but Fae-like creatures are Fae-like creatures no matter whence they hail.
But none of that matters, b/c you have to read it anyway.
If you read Kate Daniels, I don't highly recommend this book . . . I INSIST you read it. And all the real fangirls (and boys) will. So next year, when you're gearing up to read KATE #9, and you see a bunch of posts like, "OMG, what's Hugh (<------hell, yes, I did just name drop) going to do now that _______?!" or, "Is Julie going to tell Kate ________?" you won't get to spew your righteous anger b/c spoilers, b/c NOT SPOILERS. Not if you're current.
So get current. *winks*
Maybe 5.0 stars. I need time to reassemble both my head and my heart b/c OHMYGAWD, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.
If you read KATE DANIELS, you have to read this novella. HAVE to. ENDGAME-changing stuff happens. I'm not exaggerating. GET READY. December is right around the freaking corner.
Not a fairytale I was very familiar with, but I knew the basics: wealthy, lord(-like) guy marries a pretty, young tReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Not a fairytale I was very familiar with, but I knew the basics: wealthy, lord(-like) guy marries a pretty, young thing and takes her home. He immediately has to leave (b/c reasons). She has freedom to explore the many rooms of her new residence, but she is expressly forbidden to enter ONE of them. Curiosity overwhelms her, and she finds a way into the room, where she discovers . . . the bodies of all his previous wives.
THE SEVENTH BRIDE is an interesting twist of the original, and it is as fantastical as it is clever.
I struggled a little bit in the beginning. I had just finished THE BLACK COMPANY (which is darrrrrrk), and this had the bubblegum sweetness of a middle grade story. The contrast by itself would have made it difficult to adjust, but I was also expecting a more mature story--it specifically says on the author's Goodreads page that T. Kingfisher is the persona she uses while writing for adults.
It's hard enough to stomach a fifteen-year-old girl marrying a man her father's age--I don't care that once upon a time it was perfectly acceptable, now it's illegal and disgusting--but when said fifteen-year-old girl acts even younger than her numerical age . . . Ugh.
Rhea had a showdown with a bullying, lunch-stealing swan that ended in excrement.
But I stuck with it, and our girl showed surprising backbone and intelligence.
Beyond that, the retelling was delightful. The world was vibrant with color, which only served to make the goings-on more creeptastic. I'm not going to say more than that, b/c the more you're free to discover for yourself, the better.
THE SEVENTH BRIDE by T. Kingfisher is new spin on an old tale that makes it feel shiny and nearly brand new. Sandwich-stealing swans and hedgehog familiars keep things fun, even as the evil sorcerer makes you cringe, and, as always, hubris is a fatal flaw. I highly recommend this standalone to anyone who enjoys fairytales and their retellings.
When I started reading THE DEEPEST WELL by Juliette Cross, I didn't know what to expect. I'd been interested in reading her books for awhile, b/c tons o' Goodreads friends love her (including book bff), so I jumped when I was offered an opportunity to read it for review, and then . . .
The first few paragraphs read like something from a Jane Austen novel.
Katherine Blakely was coaching herself into her public face while silently despairing her situation--married to and at the complete mercy of a man who was a "monster."
And this is PNR, so I took that literally. I figured he was a werewolf with an insatiable sexual appetite, probably a Scotsman, and this blushing miss was about to have an Awakening.
Then Katherine walked downstairs, ready to attend a party with Monster (who was only a monster behind closed doors *waggles eyebrows*), when she notices the quiet and absence of servants.
Quiet except for vague sounds she hears coming from Monster's office . . .
Through the open door she sees her husband with one of the servants bent over his desk . . . and I realized we were dealing with a different kind of monster.
I shouldn't have liked this book. I'm kind of baffled that I did.
After the Monster Incident, I went back and reread the synopsis--I'd skimmed it months ago, but I didn't remember anything--and what I found left me with MAJOR misgivings.
I hate cheating. The only reason it's not #1 on my list of RULES, is b/c it's so seldom an issue in the books I read.
But if I primarily read contemporary romance, it'd be Rule #1. And not only did the main couple come together through cheating, but Dollface is kidnapped by Cool Guy's enemy who "wages a sensual assault against her defenses."
What does that mean?
Convincing myself it was some kind of metaphor (or something), I determinedly kept going. Monster was in fact a monster, as far as I was concerned, so I was already open to the possibility that the cheating wasn't really cheating . . .
It totally was.
But I didn't care.
B/c MONSTER. Also b/c of a spiel about the polite world vs. the world Katherine was actually existing in. *tips hat*
BUT. Then the kidnapping.
Black hole of my emotions:
The reason this book works is b/c it takes place over hundreds of years. TIME is the answer. It made everything not only believable, but I understood it.
It broke my heart.
But it broke my heart b/c it was real.
Then TIME put me back together again.
“I’m just like that flower. The cinquefoil.” She reared up on her elbow, cupping his jaw. “I was torn apart. But you, my knight, you found all the pieces and put me back together.”
Just like TIME also put Katherine and George back together.
THE DEEPEST WELL was my first book by Juliette Cross, but it will not be the last. While I'm fairly certain it's a spinoff from her other series, I didn't feel lost or left behind, so if you're also a Cross newbie, have no fear of jumping in with both feet, and if you're a longtime reader, I have a feeling you'll be VERY pleased with this story . . . George seems like a pretty important guy to the cause.
As for me, I already have three of her other books downloaded onto my kindle, so I'll see you guys later. MUCH later. Highly recommended.
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.
Lilywhite Abernathy lives a complicated existence.
She's the daughter of a crime boss--the crime boss--yet she's also his heirReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Lilywhite Abernathy lives a complicated existence.
She's the daughter of a crime boss--the crime boss--yet she's also his heir apparent. Her peers, both male and female, don't know how to treat her, and can't relate to her even if they could.
Yet part of her responsibility to her father is to gracefully interact with those peers. A responsibility her father makes triply difficult by watching her like a guard dog.
Hard to socialize with people who already don't know what to do with you, when your father the HEP big criminal is watching your every move, poised to rain down terror and fury at the slightest misstep.
Then there's the fact that she's part faery. More than part, truth be told, which it must be, b/c lies are physically painful for Lily to tell (b/c part faery).
It's almost too complicated.
And I haven't even gotten to her rock star crush yet.
Somehow it works. I'm not sure if it's b/c subconscious allowances made for YA, or b/c Marr is just that good of a storyteller, but even it's the former, the key word is "subconscious."
The faery Queen of Blood and Rage has declared war on the humans. Part of her strategy includes training up baby fae in her favored guerrilla tactics, using their handlers to teach them how to use their magic, after strategically placing them in sleeper cells. At birth.
Once they reach an age and level of training dreamed useful by Queen, they're called active.
These cells of barely adult, maybe part, maybe full fae, but regardless, they've been raised by humans in the human world . . . Which means their loyalty is divided, so even if they obey the commands of a murderous Faery Queen, they aren't 100% devoted to the cause . . .
They have doubts . . . But their fear of Queen keeps them obedient.
Enter Lilywhite (whose name I scoffed at until one of her new friends started calling her Lilyblack), meant to be the seventh and final member of Queen's flagship cell, her black diamonds.
Except beyond the fact that her mother was one, Lily knows nothing about her ties to Faery. She's spent her whole life hiding her secret--having even a drop of fae blood is enough to be imprisoned (b/c WAR).
She's also been raised to be a leader, to question, to make her own choices . . . So being told that she owes her loyalty to Queen, whom she's never met and has good reason to think is CRAZY, doesn't immediately make her fall in line with the others.
And suddenly the world is full of possibilities.
You: What does that mean?
Me: READ THE BOOK.
"The book" being SEVEN BLACK DIAMONDS by Melissa Marr, the faetastical first installment of her new YA urban fantasy series. Marr says in her acknowledgments that her three word pitch was, "faery sleeper cells." It worked for her editor, and it worked for me. There was no struggle to dive deeply into this latest faery endeavor, to roll around in it, losing time, leaving me wondering if perhaps I'd stumbled into Faery as well . . .
What do you suppose a Queen of Blood and Rage looks like?
There seems to be some confusion on the YA/not YA nature of this book, so let the record show, in response to the question, "Are your books YA or not?There seems to be some confusion on the YA/not YA nature of this book, so let the record show, in response to the question, "Are your books YA or not?" on his website FAQ, Kristoff replied:
THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE is a different beast. The protagonist is a sixteen year old girl. Does that automatically make it YA? My editors say “Definitely not, and who the hell let you out of your cage? Get back to work”.
These books are about an assassin. They are, as you may expect, somewhat violent as a result. They also have sex scenes (and now I have to contemplate the fact that my mother is going to read them *shudders*). I’d rate them MA (or NA if you prefer) and describe them as “crossover books”. But they’ll be found in the adult Fantasy section of your bookstore.
Sometimes you stumble across a book, and, for whatever reason, your expectations are low. Could be the harlequin mask on the cover, could be a previous series by the same author that you were wholly uninterested in, could be a billion different things that are individually insignificant, but cumulatively . . . You turn up you nose.
O, gentlefriends . . . Do not do unto yourselves the same disservice I almost did unto mine . . . self . . . o.O
NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff is . . . exquisite.
I almost didn't read it. Indeed, the release date sneaked up on me, tapped me on the shoulder, and waved hello on Monday afternoon, and I joked to a friend that I should at least update my status on Goodreads and pretend to be reading it . . . Six hours later, it was ten pm, and I was 40% in.
The first chapter was baffling. Told from two seemingly different perspectives, it chronicles two very different firsts, but uses almost the exact same words. I was internally shouting, "WTF is this?!" but I was curious enough see where it led, and the further I got, the closer the two scenarios spun toward completion, and then it was over, and I saw what he'd done . . .
In Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll turned the English language on its head. He used nonsense words that were decipherable because of his expert manipulation of sentence structure and other, real words, that made the meanings of his imaginary words obvious.
For the first time since I really understood and appreciated what Carroll had wrought, I felt the same kind of glee as I read about a girl losing her virginity and a girl taking her first life. One experience held the potential for the creation of a new life, the other bringing an irrevocable end to a life, and yet . . . He used . . . The same words.
Riddikulus writing skills aside, the story was also fantastic.
What's my #1 complaint about assassins in YA fiction?
You: You may have mentioned something about reluctant assassins a time or three.
Me: Damn right.
You: Not a problem here?
Me: *laughs maniacally*
People often shit themselves when they die. Their muscles slack and their souls flutter free and everything else just…slips out. For all their audience’s love of death, the playwrights seldom mention it. When the hero breathes his last in the heroine’s arms, they call no attention to the stain leaking across his tights, or how the stink makes her eyes water as she leans in for her farewell kiss. I mention this by way of warning, O, my gentlefriends, that your narrator shares no such restraint.
Duly noted, Mr. Narrator, sir.
And lest you be scared off by visions of graphic and violent death . . . I won't lie, that is part of this story. But only part:
She’s dead herself, now—words both the wicked and the just would give an eyeteeth smile to hear. A republic in ashes behind her. A city of bridges and bones laid at the bottom of the sea by her hand. And yet I’m sure she’d still find a way to kill me if she knew I put these words to paper. Open me up and leave me for the hungry Dark. But I think someone should at least try to separate her from the lies told about her. Through her. By her. Someone who knew her true. A girl some called Pale Daughter. Or Kingmaker. Or Crow. But most often, nothing at all. A killer of killers, whose tally of endings only the goddess and I truly know. And was she famous or infamous for it at the end? All this death? I confess I could never see the difference. But then, I’ve never seen things the way you have. Never truly lived in the world you call your own. Nor did she, really. I think that’s why I loved her.
Mia Covere's tale reminded me a bit of Arya Stark's: a girl whose family is destroyed by politics and hands grasping at power, stumbles into a follower of a most murderous god(dess), and becomes his apprentice. But Mia is more than just a girl . . . She's a girl with a shadow dark enough for two.
You: WTF does that mean?
Me: READ THE BOOK.
And how many Guardians of the Galaxy fans do we have? B/c the coolest part of that movie was the black market space station that was the HEAD OF A CELESTIAL BEING, am I right?
Well, Mia grew up in Godsgrave, which just might be where the rest of the body fell . . . Okay, it's probably a different being entirely, but the concept is the same, and it's friggin' awesome:
To the north, the Ribs rose hundreds of feet into the ruddy heavens, tiny windows staring out from apartments carved within the ancient bone. Canals ran out from the hollow Spine . . .
My only words of caution are that, if you haven't already cottoned on, there is SEX in this YA novel, which isn't as uncommon as it used to be, but isn't yet unremarkable. And I'm not talking fade-to-black acknowledgment of sexual congress, I'm talking burn-your-ears, think-interesting thoughts-about-the-hands-that-penned-them sex scenes.
Kristoff calls Mia an assassin who is to death what a maestro is to a symphony, but I felt the same way about Kristoff's manipulation of words and language. Whether Mia slipped into a room like a knife between the ribs or we met a man whose face was more scar than face, this reader felt like she was being spun and tossed by a master. In NEVERNIGHT, Solis might be the Shahiid of Songs, but it was Jay Kristoff who made me dance to the music of his story in ways I've rarely been moved. O so ridiculously highly recommended.
9/13/17 - B/c I am an I D I O T, I'm just now realizing that there was a live recording of the book launch at NOLA StoryCon last year, AND I'M IN IT (9/13/17 - B/c I am an I D I O T, I'm just now realizing that there was a live recording of the book launch at NOLA StoryCon last year, AND I'M IN IT (0:44). B/c mariachi elephant line. Robin is too, in the last like 5 seconds. OHMAGAWD:
Non-spoilery list of things you can look forward to in MAGIC BINDS:
1. Finding out once and for all whether or not Roland is a Bad Guy.
2. Kate struggling with her Dark Side.
3. A character from the past who you thought was gone for good is BACK. And I'm okay with it!*
4. (view spoiler)[Andrea and Raphael have their BABY!!!! (hide spoiler)] <------not really a spoiler unless you're one of those people who doesn't want to know ANYTHING, even when it's obviously, unignorably coming. And if you're one of those, you probably shouldn't read reviews at all . . . o.O
5. Finding out what Christopher is!
6. SO much EPIC backhistory on Roland and the rest of Kate's ancestor's, and the ancient world they lived in.
7. WEDDING hilarity.
There's more, but I'll save it for the full review. The important thing is that MAGIC BINDS continues the upswing in Kate Daniels awesomeness.
*#1 rule is: once you're dead, YOU'RE DEAD.
WARNING: this review is going to get bumped repeatedly until this book is released. If you have a problem with that, please feel free to unfriend me and block me. I don't give a damn. (<------Stolen from Sarah, b/c you can't improve on perfection.) #sorrynotsorry
Kate and Curran are getting married on the July 6 (I know the book says June but it’s July) during a Russian pagan festival. So there will be lots of Russian stuff in the books. Also certain people (using plural here to avoid spoilers) get kidnapped by Roland and slowly murdered, and Kate must go and get said people rescued, even if they were total assholes in the last book.
So wedding. Kidnapping. Family reunions. Flower crowns. I want Kate to have the traditional Ivan Kupalo flower crown on the cover and so help me all the evil deities of Slavic pantheon, I will pitch a huge fit if it’s not there.
I'm simultaneously impressed and infuriated by this knowledge.
It's not that I consider myself to be exceptionaReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I've been had.
I'm simultaneously impressed and infuriated by this knowledge.
It's not that I consider myself to be exceptionally smart so that nothing ever gets by me, or that I'm super sneaky and thus able to suss out super sneakiness in others, but you know how it is: when you've read enough books, you become cynical.
If a character does even a single eyebrow-raising thing, you've got their number. Anything that qualifies as "questionable" behavior a suspect makes.
Take that well-developed cynicism and combine it with my OCD detail-orientedness, and, well . . . it's not often that I don't at least speculate when something's amiss.
And so I say again: I've. Been. HAD.
(view spoiler)[In hindsight, I feel like an idiot. The only thing keeping me from throwing myself off a cliff b/c SHAME is that so far (and don't you dare be the first) no one else saw it coming either. I told someone in a comment on one of my status updates that I felt like that Stupid Girl who thinks she can change the mind of Bad Boy who tells her up front that he's not interested in a relationship.
B/c THEY TOLD US.
And the WHOLE TIME I'm sitting there chuckling, thinking, "Those guys . . . sooooo funneh."
This world is another brand new concept to me, based on color, and, honestly, it probably wouldn't have worked if it wasn't so easy to visualize (b/c not a visual person).
I don't have a movie playing in my head as I'm reading a book.
I have vague to not-so-vague impressions of what things and people look like, but unless a description is so detailed that I associate it with something else I've already seen, I don't develop a clear picture. And maybe that's exactly what was going on here (The Wizard of Oz, anyone?), but, regardless, it was easy to imagine, so it did work.
The basic idea revolves around a magic system fueled by soul energy (sort of . . . maybe . . . O.o). Only it's called Breath. The more Breaths you have, the more colorful the world around you becomes and the more magic (animating) you can perform. A person whose Breath has been stolen/taken/given up willingly is called a Drab. They're alive, but they've lost some essential spark.
It's quite hideous, actually . . . but strangely compelling all the same.
Sanderson does this thing . . . he gives you a character (or three) that you don't like--I don't think you're even supposed to like them--and then he grows them. Slowly. Painfully. By the end, even if you still don't like them, you have respect for their journey, and you see how you could like them once they've weathered life's storm of reality checks. These characters are always young adults, so the forging process is entirely believable.
This sort of thing doesn't work for me outside of fantasy, b/c not enough book. Here though . . . there are plenty of other characters you do like to take the heat off the ones you have to patient with.
I like it. It adds depth and makes the scenario--fantastical as it is--more credible.
I'm not going to say anything about specific characters, b/c I don't think I can without launching a rant (b/c tricked and/or heartbroken). Just believe me with I say that they are wonderful and easy to connect with. *rants* *sobs* *glowers* *wails*
This is going to be short, not b/c it wasn't compelling, but b/c the plot points are simple and effective: arranged marriage to unify two nations on the brink of war.
It does not go as planned.
Conjecture:(view spoiler)[I think Clod the Lifeless (HA!) is really Arsteel. I think his pseudo-sentience can be explained by being a Returned who was turned into a Lifeless. It would also explain Vasher's strange response to Vivenna when she mentioned that Denth and co. had a Lifeless. (hide spoiler)]
This is only my second Sanderson read, but in addition to the character(s)-you-don't-like, other patterns are also emerging.
I like this, too. It makes me feel like I understand the author and his story-telling process, so when he does one of those things that are typical of him, I can sit back and say, "That Sanderson . . . ha ha, ho ho . . . look at him doing that thing he does," b/c it feels like I know him.
These things are:
1. SURPRISE Bad Guy 2. Last 10% that might literally kill you (b/c heart attack). 3. HERO. As in true Hero to inspire epic poetry, b/c gloriously selfless and loyal and ALL THE THINGS that a Hero is supposed to be.
There are probably others, but I haven't picked up on them yet, b/c Sanderson noob. BUT. Believe me, I will keep you posted, and WARBREAKER is a must read, regardless of where you happen to be on your journey through the Cosmere. 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:
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There's an episode of Farscape that's a lot like this book.
John Crichton travels through a wormhole back to earth, and DargReviewed by: Rabid Reads
There's an episode of Farscape that's a lot like this book.
John Crichton travels through a wormhole back to earth, and Dargo, Rigel, and Aeryn follow him out of concern, only to be held hostage by the government b/c ALIENS: we must study them, and by "study" I mean "dissect."
It turns out to be an advanced race of aliens running a simulation in John's brain to determine whether or not Earth would be a viable planet for them to integrate themselves into (their own planet having been destroyed).
The answer was a resounding no.
B/c it is a natural state of the human condition to fear that which we do not understand.
Space is infinite, and thus represents infinite possibilities of things that are other.
How much more so if "it" comes from our own world? How much more so if it walks onto our shores from our very own ocean? How much more so if we discover that "they" have been living among us the whole time?
Michael Buckley attacks this scenario with both hands in UNDERTOW.
Three years ago, 30,000 of the Alpha walked out of the Lower New York Bay and onto Coney Island. Since that time, the area has been subject to Martial Law, the communities segregated. BUT. After myriad meetings and negotiations, attempts at integration are to begin with the addition of Alpha teenagers into one of the local high schools. If successful, more Alpha teenagers will be added to the student populations of other high schools, and thus will begin the first step toward peaceful coexistence.
*snickers* Riiiiighttt. B/c that's gonna happen.
So we've got a great plot with a great underlying message, and both of those things are a big part of what makes this not-your-ordinary YA book, but what really pushes it over that edge for me is the SNARK. This book has snark for DAYS, it's fantastic and hilarious:
“You take these girls to the school, Leonard?” she asks my father in her thick, growly accent. She’s been in our building for fifty years, ever since emigrating from Eastern Europe—maybe Hungary, maybe Russia—I can’t remember. It’s someplace where the neighbors used to spy on one another for the government.
And that came immediately following this description:
As soon as the elevator doors open, I wish we had taken the stairs. Mrs. Novakova, short and squat, is lurking inside, like a creepy garden gnome peering out of the brush.
My only issues were a handful of underdeveloped secondary characters and a few unnecessary flourishes when trying to make various points. BUT. This is YA. And as far as YA written for actual teenagers goes, this was fantastic. Buckley does a fabulous job of highlighting the obstinance of high school students without crossing over into that land I try to avoid at all costs: ANGST.
“When we leave town she’s coming with us,” I whisper. My father frowns. “Lyric, no.” “I won’t go without her,” I say. “We’ll discuss this later,” he says. “That’s fine, as long as you know I won’t go without her.”
Instead, it's just funny. Or maybe I just applaud resolve (when the resolve is for something reasonable). Either way, I lol'd more while reading this book than I have in a long, long time.
UNDERTOW is one of those rare YA novels that covers the whole spectrum of what it means to be YA. I myself (well past 25 years old) was greatly entertained, and I have zero inhibitions about also getting it for my 14-year-old sister. If you or someone you know loves modern sci-fi sea creature awesomeness, then UNDERTOW is an obvious choice. Between the clever and snarky characters, the strong bonds of family and friendship, and the unignorable message that prejudice and mindless hatred are unacceptable . . . what's not to like? Highly recommended.
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.
2/28/16: Okay, FOLKS, that's TWO amendments I've made to the spoiler-tagged section, so if you object to the first half of my issue, you now know that2/28/16: Okay, FOLKS, that's TWO amendments I've made to the spoiler-tagged section, so if you object to the first half of my issue, you now know that the second part is my biggest issue, and there's nothing you can say to change my mind about it, b/c it's one of those BLACK AND WHITE areas, as far as I'm concerned. <------ Read between the lines.
Usually, when I'm this torn over a book, I take some time to reflect, to settle my FEELINGS--so many bloodydamn FEELINGS--but I can't do that this time, so I reserve the right to revise at a later date.
At the end of GOLDEN SON, the world explodes. Figuratively, not literally. Either way, it's not surprising that MORNING STAR hits the ground running with Darrow being kept in a box at Jackal's compound.
Of course he escapes. There'd be no book otherwise, and with a few surprises along the way, one of them HUGE and WONDERFUL (view spoiler)[Victra!! (hide spoiler)], Darrow is reunited with the Rising, and . . . things are a shambles.
Oh, not on the surface, maybe, but take a closer look, and even if you're distracted by ALL THE THINGS that keep your stomach in a constant state of dread, like a mini abyss living inside you--seriously, this book should come with an FDA warning: Do not consume if you have a history of ulcers or acid reflux. Contact your doctor and discontinue usage at onset of symptoms. Or something like that--it doesn't take long to draw that conclusion.
And if you hear the sound of glass being hurled from a rooftop onto pavement, don't worry, it's only my heart. When you've survived it yourself, I invite you to come back and tell me what your heart shattering sounds like. Most creative gets . . . absolutely nothing, but, come on, it'll be FUN.
And that's my way of informing you that if you (inexplicably) thought you might get a break from the agony of the previous two books . . . *laughs at you* . . . you would be WRONG.
Sometimes pain is necessary. Take Darrow, for example. If he hadn't suffered the Jackal of Mars' tender mercies, he wouldn't have faced his mortality, and a man filled with the hubris of youth is ill-equipped to lead a rebellion.
And every war has casualties . . .
I know all of that sounds unpleasant, and it is, but, once again, Brown proves himself a dab hand at balancing PAIN with humor.
Servo and Ragnar become brothers-from-another-mother in Darrow's absence, leading the Rising together, and they are damn hilarious:
“You! Troll!” Sevro shouts. “I’m a terrorist warlord! Stop throwing me. You made me drop my candy!” Sevro looks at the floor of the hallway. “Wait. Where is it? Dammit, Ragnar. Where is my peanut bar? You know how many people I had to kill to get that. Six! Six!” Ragnar chews quietly above me, and though I’m probably mistaken, I think I see him smile.
Then there's the pain of gratitude and loyalty and friendship, which is more delicate, but equally affecting:
“I don’t know how to thank you,” I say. “What for?” Kavax asks, confused, as per usual. “The kindness …” I don’t know how else to say it. “For watching over my family when I’m not even one of you.” “One of us?” His ruddy face falls. “A fool. You speak like a fool. My boy made you one of us.” He looks across the hangar where Mustang speaks with one of Lorn’s daughters-in-law near a transport. “She makes you one of us.” It’s all I can do to keep the tears from my eyes. "And if we damn all that, I say you’re one of us. So one of us you are.”
Kavax . . . I consider myself blessed to have met you.
I have one major issue with this installment, and unlike last year's issues with GOLDEN SON, this one will NOT go away with the (inevitable) reread: (view spoiler)[Maybe this is my fault, but I glossed over the whole Mustang and Cassius thing. Yeah, Cassius insinuated they'd had an intimate relationship, but I decided he was just trying to get a rise out Darrow.
He REALLY wasn't. And glossing it over is no longer possible, b/c you get your nose shoved in it--numerous times--and I have a hard time with Mustang whoring herself out like that, and before you lose your mind b/c I said whore:
"A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain."
I'm not slut-shaming, I'm not judging her b/c she had sex. I'm judging her b/c she had sex with a man she cared NOTHING for, b/c it was politically to her advantage.
Mustang is supposed to be the bloodydamn smartest Gold in existence after her brother, and that's the best she can come up with?
If it had only been that, I might've been able to ignore it (b/c happier that way), but in conjunction with "testing" Darrow before telling him THEY HAD A CHILD . . . *throws head back and shrieks with rage*
What if he didn't pass her bullshit tests? Would she not have told him?
Eff you, lady, effff youuuuu!
This is the woman we're leaving in charge? This manipulative bitch? Kind of hard to consider it a happy ending when visions of Mustang-at-the-bottom-of-a-slippery-slope are flashing in my head.
***AMENDMENT: Mustang having sex with Cassius isn't the bigger part of my issue with her. It's that she made him fall in love with her. DELIBERATELY. He carried her damn earring around with him. He didn't believe she'd shoot to kill. He thought what they'd had was REAL.
That is just. So. Messed. Up.
Her behavior is everything I HATE about manipulative female stereotypes.
RIDICULOUSLY Bad form.
AMENDMENT, part II: While the bigger part of my issue concerning the Mustang/Cassius relationship is the lengths Mustang was willing go to to achieve her goal, the biggest issue of all is her "testing" Darrow before telling him they had a child. The fact that there was a definitive set of criteria, determined by her, and if Darrow did not meet it, she would NEVER tell him he had a son is UNFORGIVABLE.
The-effing-end. That's nonnegotiable for me. You don't have to agree, but you do have to accept that's the way I feel about it. #cantstopwontstop (hide spoiler)]
SO. Minus one star for that.
But overall, I bloodydamn loved MORNING STAR, and I thought it was a brilliant conclusion to an exceptional trilogy. It made me feel . . . everything. I can't wait to see what Brown has for us next, b/c this world . . . Nothing but potential. Highly recommended (but maybe with chocolate and baby animals for fortitude).
My other reviews for this series:
Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1) Golden Son (Red Rising, #2)["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Last year in DREAMER'S POOL we met Blackthorn and Grim, who quickly became two of my new favorite characters.
They are both wonderfully horribly broken, but that mutual brokenness is what made them so compatible.
As friends, as cohorts, as travel companions . . .
Blackthorn, fueled by her implacable hatred of the man who took everything from her, quickly stole the spotlight--not only is she a healer, a position regarded with respect, she is the more forthright of the two. She may be surly and taciturn, but if something needs to be said, Blackthorn is the one to say it.
Grim was the strong back for lifting heavy objects. He took odd jobs, performing manual labor for various townspeople, and when he spoke, he used as few words as possible.
Obviously, there was more to him than that, but he was inarguably the Robin to Blackthorn's Batman.
And he's perfectly happy there. Or as happy as a man like him is capable of being happy.
This time around, Grim, still silent, still steady, burrowed so deeply into my heart that he's still there, months after I first read this book.
I can't think of him without a corresponding ache.
Marillier so brilliantly captured his patience, his selflessness, his calm acceptance of his perceived lack of any real usefulness, and his belief that one day--it's only a matter of time--Blackthorn will get tired of him, and send him on his way, worthless sod that he is.
It hurts. Ye gods, it hurts.
But it hurts the way it hurts to look at Chihuly glass in the sunlight or heathered fields in Virginia. It hurts b/c it's so damn beautiful.
In TOWER OF THORNS, Blackthorn and Grim are once more thrust into the strangeness that goes hand-in-hand with fey creatures and magic.
A woman has come to court begging Prince Oran for assistance. Her land and her people are plagued by a creature in a tower. It howls in agony from sunup to sundown every single day. The tower is surrounded by a hedge of impenetrable thorns, and all attempts to get through them result in injury and death.
Marillier spins her story so deftly that you wonder if you've heard it before. But no, it's not possible---you have no idea what's going to happen, and yet . . . it feels so familiar.
B/c it is the quintessential fairytale. There are secrets and selfishness, harsh truths and consequences. But there is also peace and forgiveness and a path out of the shadows onto a sunlit road.
You only have to step out of the darkness.
TOWER OF THORNS by Juliet Mariller is bloody fantastic. As much as I loved DREAMER'S POOL--and I did love it--this second installment of BLACKTHORN AND GRIM has taken up residence inside me, it's now part of me, and I will make a nuisance of myself, pushing it on everyone b/c you NEED to experience it for yourself.
Tied with Uprooted by Naomi Novik for my favorite book of 2015.
You know . . . this has been a ridiculously good book year. Even with the myriad disappointments, the good ones have been so bloody good that the others just sort of . . . fade away.
I honestly can't tell you whether I like this one or Uprooted best.
Same kind of dark fairy tale. Same kind of anachronistic main character pairing. Same overwhelming beauty, but two completely different tales. GAH.
Just trust me and make sure you read Dreamer's Pool before this one is released in November.
When I said that Desert Bound (Cambio Springs #2) was so good, that I had to reread Hunter's other series . . . I was not lyinReviewed by: Rabid Reads
When I said that Desert Bound (Cambio Springs #2) was so good, that I had to reread Hunter's other series . . . I was not lying.
When we first meet Beatrice De Novo, she is a college student with a part time job at the library. She likes to wear black and doc martins with skirts. She goes to Tuesday night dinners with her grandmother and several of her grandmother's elderly friends.
She really rocks the whole "quirky librarian" thing.
Dr. Giovanni Vecchio thinks so too. But here's the thing . . . Dr. Giovanni Vecchio is VAMPIRE. And not just any vampire, a smokin' hot vampire . . . who hangs out at the library . . .
If you're like me, that's all you need to know, but there's MORE. And let's be honest--there needs to be, b/c every single vampire out there is smokin' hot, super rich, super powerful, etc., ad nauseam.
And there is more.
Gio walks a fine line between dominant caveman alpha and sophisticated modern male. Beyond that, Hunter has created a world in which vampires are sired to one of the four elements upon awakening from their transformation, and Gio is a (rare) fire elemental.
FIRE. One of only a handful of ways to kill a vampire.
But that's not all.
Gio is a scholar and a collector and trader of rare books. He meets Beatrice when she takes over the night shift for one of her fellow librarians, but when some valuable letters are donated to B's university . . . letters that have nothing to do with any of the university's areas of study . . . letters that belonged to Gio's personnel collection, thought to have been destroyed in the Bonfire of Vanities . . .
Let's just say he doesn't believe in coincidences.
Add to that the death of B's father, under mysterious circumstances, ten years prior in Italy . . . and Gio is wise to suspect something is afoot.
By that point, he's already recruited Beatrice as a research assistant after being forced to reveal his true nature to her---something she handled surprisingly well---and with the revelation that his priceless collection may be intact, we are thrown headlong into a mystery that spans centuries and crosses all ethnic boundaries. A mystery combining lost knowledge, alchemy, bitter rivalries, insatiable greed, and the thirst for power.
And what kind of Big Deal/Save the World mystery would it be if Beatrice and Giovanni could solve it by themselves?
I don't know, but thankfully, not this one. *grins* Throughout the series, we're introduced to delightfully complex and entertaining characters. Characters we want to have their own happy ending . . . *winks*
SO. If you didn't already notice the outrageous page count, know that this is a FOUR BOOK series. Four books, plus a novella, plus a handful of extras. For those of you who hate waiting between installments, the good news is that this is a finished series. ALSO good news is that if you are (rightfully) daunted by the nearly 1500 pages (by my calculation), the first book, A Hidden Fire, is available for FREE every-dang-where. That hyperlink will take you to Amazon, but you can get it from Barnes & Noble, Book Depo, Kobo, etc. In fact, the Kobo link at the top of the post will take you to the first book, b/c the series bundle is only available at B&N and Amazon.
I'll admit that the first time I read A Hidden Fire, I was a bit frustrated with the ending. Gio was irritatingly stalwart in his decision to not pursue Beatrice romantically despite the A. the combustible chemistry between them, B. the obvious depth of both of their feelings, and C. what we, as readers, recognize as inevitability. I also didn't get that the sole reason Gio was searching for his lost books was b/c lost books. I kept waiting for this Big Secret about the collection to be revealed, and that didn't happen. However, it's entirely possible that that's either on me, or it was intentional, b/c the first book is FREE.
An author's got to eat, right? Can't eat on the proceeds of FREE books. Gotta hook those readers.
And she did.
I read them all back-to-back, and then immediately read the first book in the spin-off PNR series, Elemental World.
What can I say? I loved it. Even more this second time, and that rarely happens. Once again, first book is FREE, so get on that. *shoos* I leave you now with my favorite quote:
"Why do you love me like you do?"
. . . "I recognized you. Here." He leaned down and kissed her forehead, then let his finger trail down her nose, over the slight bump and down around her lips. His fingertips danced across her bare skin until they rested lightly over her heart. "And here. I recognized you. Your mind. Your heart. We recognized each other."
"Like Aristotle said."
"One soul. Two bodies. My soul recognized its own."