When I started reading ACOFAS I wasn’t expecting much (thanks to a lackluster sneak peek in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY 😒), but I ended up liking it. I don’tWhen I started reading ACOFAS I wasn’t expecting much (thanks to a lackluster sneak peek in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY 😒), but I ended up liking it. I don’t know if it was the lowered expectations or that the (sort-of) story was legitimately good, but as far as bridges go, this one was alright.
Was it really necessary to write a bridge rather than diving headlong into what comes next? Probably not.
1. SJM is preggers.
2. SJM’s daddy got bad sick.
3. SJM’s also writing the last installment of ToG and CATWOMAN this year.
So if it’s a bridge or nothing, I’ll take the bridge, tyvm.
My spoilery final thoughts:
(view spoiler)[1. Someone needs to define “mate bond” to SJM, b/c lady does not get it. She went and bonded Lucien and Elain right out of the cauldron, but can I get a show of hands for who ships the hell out of Azriel and Elain? Now lemme see the hands of those who are holding out hope for Elain and Lucien?
2. WHAT IF CASSIAN’S MOMMA LIVES!? I’m sorry, but a pissed Cassian is a Cassian who gets answers, so the only reason those Illyrians wouldn’t talk was if they didn’t know. And as far as I can tell, the last time Cassian saw her he was FIVE. She could probably walk right up to him and he’d never know it. Now why she wouldn’t walk right up to him, I have no idea, but I’m confident SJM can explain it satisfactorily.
3. Tamlin is a hot mess. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.
4. WHY HAVEN’T THEY TOLD LUCIEN THAT HELION IS HIS FATHER!?
5. I kinda ship Vassa and Mor. Maybe. We’ll see.
6. How cool would it be if post-freaky wards Bryaxis is another kick-ass female to add to Rhys’ island of misfit toys? (hide spoiler)]
And that’s all I got. Until next time. As always, I want MOAR....more
Last year, when we discovered that amongst the residents of Rockton lived a serial rapist who would abduct a woman, fake her dReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Last year, when we discovered that amongst the residents of Rockton lived a serial rapist who would abduct a woman, fake her death (by dressing and strategically positioning the mauled and thus hard to identify corpse of another woman of roughly the same dimensions in the clothes the abductee was last seen in), hold her captive for months (more than a YEAR in one case), raping and torturing her until she died (for real this time) before choosing a new victim and beginning his twisted cycle all over again, I thought Armstrong had peaked.
Not that the series itself had peaked, but that future installments would need to seek out alternative avenues to continue the Bigger and Badder trend a series is wont to pursue. The creep factor had topped out.
Armstrong: SILLY HUMAN, I AM KELLEY ARMSTRONG. I DO NOT PEAK. *laughs maniacally* *twirls mustache*
You: What is creepier than diabolical serial rapist guy!?
Me: Thrill-seeking equal opportunity serial killer guy.
Which is exactly what Rockton gets when an unscheduled plane lands and discards:
” . . . a thrill killer,” I say. “He murders because he enjoys it. Tortures and kills. Five victims in Georgia. Two men. Two women. And one fourteen-year-old boy . . . Oliver Brady is a killer motivated by nothing more than sadism . . . An unrelentingly opportunistic psychopath.”
You: Okay, I know we learned the “council” could be a bit sketch on the residents’ backstories in A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE, but a serial killer? Really??
Me: YEP. But he’s not actually meant to be a “resident” this time—more of a temporary prisoner—and at least they’re told up front that this dude is a serial killer . . .
. . . Or is he?
*laughs maniacally* *twirls mustache*
But regardless of whether or not Oliver Brady is what he’s accused of being, his presence wrecks havoc on the town created for those who need to disappear. Numerous well-liked citizens are placed on the chopping block, leaving you with decimated fingernails as you frantically read to learn their fate.
It is b/c of this personally experienced terror that I’m going to—for the first time ever—offer you an unnecessary spoiler. In the spirit of doesthedogdie.com:
BUT. Despite Armstrong clearly not having peaked, I had a couple of minor issues that kept this installment from the 4.5 - 5.0 star ratings of its predecessors.
1. The council threatening to oust Dalton if he doesn’t walk the line is getting effing tiresome.
There’s only so many times you can use a specific threat before it starts to lose its effectiveness, and I reached that point in the last book.
Shut up, Phil. You’re not sending him anywhere. And if you do, he’ll make a new and improved Rockton elsewhere and be happier for it.
2. There are suddenly a LOT of various “others” in the alleged Yukon wilderness.
More than I could countenance. Especially considering the convenience of some of their identities.
3. Despite the soundness of her reasoning . . .
(view spoiler)[It’s a weak move to repeat the misdirection used in the last book to hamper a body’s accurate identification. (hide spoiler)]
4. All those bombs dropped in the final pages.
(view spoiler)[I mean, really—what is the deal with Petra? And beyond that, why can’t Casey keep a female friend for longer than an installment? Why they all gotta be shady bitches?
Then, adding insult to injury, that revelation is followed by the possible hijacking of Casey’s emotionally defunct sister to save Kenny’s life, and speaking of Kenny, why do we care if he dies? Either my memory is seriously deficient, or a nonessential character was placed in jeopardy, making the lack of resolution on that front just irritating. (hide spoiler)]
All of that being said, THIS FALLEN PREY is still a stellar read in a series of exceptional reads. Armstrong cleanly laid the groundwork for multiple future developments, including some of Casey’s ongoing suspicions concerning the evolution of a “hostile.”
Dalton was his delightful self:
Shortly after we installed the bell someone rang it in the middle of the night. Drunk, obviously. Rang it and ran . . . leaving boot prints in the snow, which I matched to a perpetrator, whom Dalton then sentenced to go to each and every person in town and say, “I’m the fucking idiot who rang the fucking bell at two in the fucking morning. I’m sorry.” No one has touched the bell since.
Casey continues to wrestle with her darker nature:
I want justification for my rage. I do want to see Brady gutshot for this. Gutshot and left in the forest. And that scares me. It’s the sort of thing Mathias would do, and I tiptoe around the truth of what Mathias is, alternately repelled and . . . Not attracted. Definitely not. But there’s part of me that thinks of what he does and nods in satisfaction.
In THIS FALLEN PREY, Armstrong keeps you guessing right up to the end about the true nature of Rockton’s newest (sort of) inhabitant, and when you finally get the full story, I can almost guarantee it won’t be what you expected. I don’t know what the future holds for this settlement and its occupants, but once again, I’ll be impatiently waiting to find out. Still very much recommended.
I tried to refrain from purchasing any anthologies I didn't already own when I deReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Stingers and Strangers, InCryptid 0.04
I tried to refrain from purchasing any anthologies I didn't already own when I decided to get current with InCryptid, but after half a dozen various references to Fran and Jonathan's trip to Colorado, I caved.
Was it worth it?
Eh. I'm finally rid of the WHAT-AM-I-MISSING?! angst, and the story itself is in the top two of the extras I've read so far, but then there's the shame of my weakness to contend with, so six of one, half dozen of another.
Fran and Johnny go to Colorado after receiving word that the apraxas wasps are behaving strangely . . . And that's all you get. Suffice it to say, there's a darn good reason the wasps are out of sorts, and anything that freaks out giant, intelligent, brain-eating insects is worthy of concern.
I love YA fantasy. I don't know why, I just do. That being said, in recent years, I've become a bit gun-shy, preferriReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I love YA fantasy. I don't know why, I just do. That being said, in recent years, I've become a bit gun-shy, preferring to rerereread old favorites rather than taking a chance on a new author.
I guess I should say I love good YA fantasy.
And sadly, these days, most of it is crap: instalove, cliches, poor world-building, plot holes, deus ex machina, etc. Any or all are likely present in 90% of new series.
Or maybe I've been unlucky in my reading choices. *shrugs awkwardly*
Regardless, SONG OF THE CURRENT is the exception. I was hooked from the first line:
There is a god at the bottom of the river.
From there it only got better.
Tolcser gives us a heroine with moxie to spare--(view spoiler)[she doesn't swoon the first time the obvious love interest tries to kiss her, she slaps him (hide spoiler)]--who agrees to deliver a package to secure her father's release from imprisonment, and that may not sound like much, but it is.
Caro and her father are wherry folk, their livelihood dependent on river trade, and 1. pirates are out to destroy any vessel that potentially carries said package, and 2. Caro has yet to hear the voice of the river god who guides her people through the language of the small things.
So she's brave. And determined.
She's also subtly hilarious:
Pa shrugged on his good wool overcoat, arranging the collar so it fell just right. His somber manner heightened my worry. He only wore that coat to temple, or to pretend he hadn’t drunk too much the previous night.
Basically, I loved her. Which is important as I'm a character-driven reader. By herself, Caro would have been enough for me to enjoy this book.
The world-building and the plot were also fantastic. I was enthralled by the gods who interact with their people, and there was more than one twist that I didn't see until I was right on top of it.
I read the whole thing in one sitting. If you also love YA fantasy I suspect you will too. Highly recommended.
Retellings have been coming out of the woodwork these last several years, with SNOW WHITE being a crowd favorite, butReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Retellings have been coming out of the woodwork these last several years, with SNOW WHITE being a crowd favorite, but as much as I love fairytales (and I really, really do), there are only so many ways a story can be retold in a short period of time before it gets tired.
Which is why if I'd more carefully read the blurb, I probably wouldn't have requested GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS by Melissa Bashardoust . . . And that would have been a mistake.
SEE?? Sometimes my habitual neglect works in my favor.
You: What's so different about this retelling?
Me: So. Many. Things.
I hesitate to call it feminist in nature, b/c I'm a literal person, and feminism--BY DEFINITION--is the opposite of chauvinism. *googles feminism* At least it used to be. The definition appears to have shifted into a more egalitarian meaning, so I guess I do call it feminist in nature.
But not in the heavy-handed way that made me reluctant to brand this lovely story as FEMINIST. *men cower everywhere*
It's about a woman married to a man who doesn't love her the way she deserves to be loved finding her own happiness. It's about a girl refusing to be stifled by expectations.
Lynet smiled and nodded and thanked them until the Pigeons were finished. Perhaps it was flattering to be fussed over, but she knew their fondness wasn’t for her own sake. They loved her mother, and Lynet looked like her mother, so they thought that they loved her, too.
It's about two women, traditionally at odds with each other, finding a way to coexist . . . More than coexist.
And it's so natural, so elegant, it makes you wonder: how am I only hearing this version now?
GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS from debut author Melissa Bashardoust is a retelling apart from others. You may think you know this story, of Snow White and her Evil Stepmother, but you would be mistaken. Bashardoust manages to retain the integrity of the original tale, keeping it easily recognizable, while simultaneously turning this often told story on its head. The end result is nothing short of remarkable. Highly recommended.
With a title like LAZARUS, it should be obvious that this graphic novel has something to do with someone coming back from the dead . . . But I didn't really think about that (tangentially related to my reluctance to read blurbs, I think), or the implications, and I had a momentary panic attack during the first few pages when the something in question appeared to be on the verge of a zombie-like attack on her killers when she revived . . .
It was a false alarm. She beat them to death instead.
SO. It's definitely V I O L E N T. FYI.
Forever Carlyle is the enforcer for the Carlyle Family. We don't know what, but something destroyed our way of life, and a handful of powerful Families and their offspring rule what's left of the world . . . These families appear to basically be tyrants ruling their individual territories, a fraction of a fraction of 1% controlling everything, with maybe 5% "lifted" into their service if they have an attractive aptitude, while the rest are left to fend for themselves.
It's ugly, people. True lawlessness for 95% of the world's population.
The Families don't need to worry about things like that, b/c they each have a Lazarus. Forever is one such Lazarus, and her job is to keep the rest of her family safe and to unquestioningly do the bidding of her father, the Family patriarch. She does this even after she's been killed--the specifics are unclear, but Forever is enhanced. What is immediately clear is that it's not that simple . . . Forever's moods appear to chemically managed and vague remarks about the legitimacy of her status as a Carlyle are made when she's not around to hear them . . .
Whatever the truth about Forever is, one thing is more than obvious: her Family sucks.
But as much as I grew to hate the rest of them, I loved Forever (despite her bad pun of a name), who managed to be both a seriously badass warrior woman and a naive girl seeking the approval of her family.
After a lot of Family scheming and machinating, we meet another Lazarus and learn that the scheming isn't limited to in-house maneuverings, and rather than this twist making things convoluted or taking away from the action, it just got more interesting.
I loved it. I loved it so much that I read the other three available volumes back-to-back-to-back, which has only happened two other times (SAGA and FABLES, and I kind of regret FABLES).
LAZARUS is about an indulgent and technologically advanced few surrounded by the poverty of those they neglect. It's about the rot that indulgence has nurtured. It's about a girl created to be her "family's" loaded gun. My hope is that said gun backfires in the hands of her would-be wielders and takes their whole damn heads off.
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.
Okay, seriously . . .? This book was AMAZING. It's so hard to find a fun, clever contemporary romance that doesn't at least occasionally cross over inOkay, seriously . . .? This book was AMAZING. It's so hard to find a fun, clever contemporary romance that doesn't at least occasionally cross over into cornball territory.
Lucy was a tiny little spitfire, Josh was just damaged enough to be interesting without being angsty, and together they alternately hys-freaking-terical and so adorable I literally CANNOT EVEN.
Sally Thorne . . . I've got my eye on you, woman. *tips hat*
First of all, b/c I've already been asked numerous times, YES, this is an entirely new trilogy, unrelated to Lawrence's previoReviewed by: Rabid Reads
First of all, b/c I've already been asked numerous times, YES, this is an entirely new trilogy, unrelated to Lawrence's previous works. So if you tried to read PRINCE OF THORNS and DNFed it b/c you couldn't tolerate that little shit of an MC (I've been assured that he gets better around 40%, but I haven't personally made that determination for myself), now's your chance to give Lawrence another shot.
Second of all, even after reading through it again when I finished the book, I still found the prologue to be absolutely baffling. Oh, parts of it made more sense, like the description of the landscape, but without any foreknowledge, I was violently frustrated over seemingly conflicting information: how could the coast be glimpsed through a sea of 1024 columns? How could BOTH the northern and southern ice be visible from one place? Then there's everything that comes after, "Here's a moment," which is when things got really confusing.
Fortunately, it's only a few pages in length, so if you find yourself similarly baffled, power through it, b/c those three pages are the real only complaint I have about the whole thing.
Is it dark? Yes, gloriously so.
Is it violent? Enough to satisfy me at my bloodthirsty worst:
There is in every delicate thing, no matter how precious, nor how beautiful, a challenge. Break me.
And despite being mostly about warrior nuns, it's also exciting. It's not a secret that I avoid most fantasy with predominant religious orders, b/c I find men (it's usually men) who don't drink, curse, or chase tail (<------gender neutral) deathly dull. #sorrynotsorry
Instead we've got a hunska small girl, sold into slavery and about to hung for killing a literal giant of a man.
You: How'd she manage that?
Me: READ THE BOOK. *twirls mustache*
Then things get really exciting.
You learn about a world on the verge of collapse, a thin corridor of civilization dependent on a failing moon that somehow keeps the ice at bay. You learn of nuns who, if they have the blood for it, train as poisoners and spies and warriors. Plots within plots within plots reveal the scheming hearts of the various leadership, and at the center of it all is a convenient prophecy about the one who will save them all.
But there are also whispers of older gods, The Missing, whose cities lie abandoned under the ice . . .
Sounds worth checking out, does it not?
Now for my SPOILERY speculation (and my one other complaint that boils down to my being a kill-them-all-kill-them-now kind of girl, so more an issue of preference than a "real" complaint).
WHAT IF: (view spoiler)[1. Either we're still here in five billion years when the sun red dwarfs,
2. Or something happens to speed the process?
And WHAT IF:
The Earth wasn't consumed along with Mercury and Venus?
Would science have developed to the point of being able to create and implement a giant mirror (where the moon used to be) to reflect and amplify the sun's diminished light?
Would we genetically alter humans to give them a better chance of survival in the new catastrophic conditions? Would we create giants, hearty enough to withstand the bitter cold? Would we enhance others with the speed defend themselves from the predators better suited to their new environment?
I'm not sure how the alleged "magic" users fit in, but science always seems like magic to those who don't understand it.
And if this world is really some post-apocalyptic event Earth, then I don't get to be annoyed about the 1024 Corinthian columns in a world where Corinth never existed.
It's either that or ALIENS, I think.
As for the aforementioned issue of preference, I'm sorry, but Clera needs to die. I have no patience for letting that shiesty broad live. I get that Nona has her thing about friendship, but friendship isn't one-sided and Clera's #1 priority has always been Clera. And no, I don't feel sorry for her b/c she had a difficult upbringing. LOOK AT NONA.
Something about not the tragedies, but how you react to them making a person . . . (hide spoiler)]
Before anything else, it must be said that SAGA is the most beautiful and hideous, the most hopeful and fatalistic, the most graphic, and the most adorable thing I have ever read or seen.
It is ALL the things.
The very first page of the very first chapter sets the tone for the whole series (thus far):
You're slapped in the face with the wonder and the ICK of childbirth. Some of you might think the bodily fluids, the wordless, guttural shouts that accompany the pushing, and the million other aspects of child labor are part of the miracle, and you're allowed . . .
In an abstract way, I'm not sure I disagree. But from an impartial bystander perspective . . . all of that is the opposite side of the bringing-a-new-life-that-you-helped-create-into-the-world coin.
It's gross, man.
And if that's a juxtaposition you don't think you can appreciate, then I'm going to go ahead and say goodbye until next time. There is nothing for you here.
B/c that's what SAGA is: finding the beauty in the ugliness of life.
It's overcoming a lifetime of ingrained prejudice only to discover your victory was merely the first hurdle in the journey. It's growing apart b/c life is life, then coming back together in the face of shared tragedy.
It's the determination to remain bitter about past slights opening the door to a new path. It is pain and loss and healing and forgiveness, and it's continuing to put one foot in front of the other, b/c more than anything else, you have to keep moving.
It's life. With all the accompanying brilliance and horror, and it is masterfully done. I flew through all six collected volumes in an afternoon, and I seriously doubt I'll have the willpower to wait for the next collection before reading the individually released chapters.
That's a first in the graphic novel arena, by the way. But I see serial releases in my future, and I'm not even going to try to fight it.
Marko and Alana are two soldiers on opposite sides of a war, who, against all odds, fall in love.
SAGA is their story, and it's the story of the ripples their love makes in the pond of their universe. There were times I thought my heart would burst with happiness, and there were times that I felt physically ill.