I really don't know how to start this review. I'm not inspired, which in and of itself is tThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I really don't know how to start this review. I'm not inspired, which in and of itself is telling. Deadly Little Secret was actually a pretty good novel. It has that first person p.o.v. I've been raving about. It has plenty of romantic tension. So, why aren't my thoughts flowing like usual? Is it writer's block? Usually I come off a book high with opinions, but I'm just blank.
Deadly Little Lies takes place...somewhere. There's no specific location stated. It's some small town near the ocean. Our narrator and heroine is Camelia, a sixteen-year-old girl who has a hippie mom, a regular dad, and a talent for pottery and sculpture. She also has two good friends: Kammie and Wes. At the beginning of the novel, Camelia is saved from being hit by a car by a mysterious boy. The boy shoves her out of the way, and during the rescue, touches her tummy. It's an electric touch, of course, and even three months later, Camelia can't forget about it. So when the boy shows up at her school suddenly, she is drawn to him. It's just darn bad luck that Ben only transferred to her school because he was recently accused of killing his girlfriend. Hm. It sounds really silly when I type it up.
Anyway, at first Ben denies being the one who saved her the parking lot three months ago. Then he studiously ignores her. Then it's his turn to have bad luck: they get assigned to be chemistry partners. Okay, I've thought of something: enough with using lab partners as a device for a guy and a girl to get some one-on-one time. Teenagers do interact in other settings. They could meet at the soup kitchen where they do their community service hours. Or in an SAT class. Yeesh.
Sorry, back to the story. Ben ignores Camelia. She is confused and hurt. Then, suddenly, Ben changes his attitude. And it all has to do with the fact that something happens every time they touch. Of course, the fact that Deadly Little Lies is A Touch Novel might also be a heavy hint. Then Ben reveals his secret, including the fact that Camelia is in danger.
Okay, I've thought of something else. It's a negative point and something that bothered me throughout the novel. I actually liked Camelia as a narrator and since the story is told from her perspective, I feel the need to account for her (very) natural bias. As the novel progressed, I began to feel that Camelia was, well, the object of affection for every guy in the book. Except perhaps her friend Wes. There's Matt, the ex who wants French tutoring, John Kenneally, the hot jock who asks for Camelia's number, Spencer, her boss at the pottery shop, who is willing to lend an ear if she wants to "talk", and of course, Ben, who atfirstavoidsherbutthencantleaveheralone. Really, I need to coin a term for this type of hero, he occurs so often in Teen Fiction. An acronym, maybe AFAHBTCLHA. Ooh, I know! Void: a boy, in a Teen novel, who at first avoids the heroine, then can't leave her alone. Coined!
But back to my point. All that love for Camelia is too much. If you've read the novel or have at least gotten part of the way through it, you know that the Camelia-love is more red herring than anything else. The subplot of this novel (because the mystery of Ben is really the A plot) is, who is Camelia's stalker? With so many guys jonesing after her, the reader's suspicions are all over the place. I found the red herrings and all the "is it that guy? or that guy?" more distracting than deliciously suspenseful. They're placed with a pretty heavy hand. And, also, am I seriously supposed to believe that Camelia is so hot that four different guys have a crush on her? I guess it's possible. It's just not very interesting.
Then there were other little things: with a best friend named Kimmie, am I really supposed to believe that no one's ever called Camelia "Cammie" before? It never even comes up. Then there's Camelia's conveniently distracted parents. It was supposed to be understandable that they failed to notice their daughter had a stalker or was spending time with a guy who possibly killed his last girlfriend. Also, Kimmie doesn't allow the fact that her best friend is being stalked and, oh, yeah, her mom's a nervous wreck because her sister just tried to commit suicide, from demanding how Camelia hasn't offered to be Wes' fake girlfriend in front of his dad. Since she's so hot and all. Sometimes friendships are uneven. Sometimes one friend needs the other to just be there for her, even if she forgets to reciprocate for a little while. Not forever. But Kimmie could have been a little more understanding that, since a stalker broke into Camelia's house, wrote "Bitch" on her mirror and sliced up the pink pjs he'd creepily left during his last visit, she might forget to ask her how her designing was going.
What did I like about this novel? Well, I liked that though there was a paranormal element to the story, the mystery was "normal." Too often, once one paranormal element is introduced into a book, everything revolves around the paranormal. It was nice to see a story where all of a sudden, the world shifts entirely on its head. It makes the story a little more realistic. I mean, let's say someone was really psychometric. It would be a well-kept secret. The paranormal is pretty universally thought to be bunk. Therefore, if you found out that it wasn't bunk, it makes sense that the rest of the world was still relatively normal. It's the only way that such a secret could be so well concealed.
I don't think I'll be reading the next novel in this series. I didn't hate the book, but it didn't please me overmuch, either. I prefer a meatier novel. I think Deadly Little Secret would work for those who really enjoyed Kristen Miller's The Eternal Ones or even Ally Condie's Matched. ...more
Amanda: Is it just me or are there a lot of similarities between Half-Blood and Vampire Academy? At first, I was all, "BUFFY!" with how the daimons diAmanda: Is it just me or are there a lot of similarities between Half-Blood and Vampire Academy? At first, I was all, "BUFFY!" with how the daimons died, but by the third, fourth, and fifth chapters I was getting serious Vampire Academy vibes. I'm also not the biggest fan of Alex, but that's mainly because I just want to shake her and tell her to get a grip and focus on what's important. And I'm still waiting for Aiden to impress me, besides his arms, of course. I think his arms are very impressive. Ruby: This was exactly my feeling. In fact, I think our review should be titled: Vampire Academy 2: This Time, with Daimons. Because:
Both heroines get dragged back to their special school for mystical creatures after leaving under "mysterious circumstances." Both heroines are half of something--and therefore lesser. Yet, their half-blood status makes them wonderful fighters. Both heroines are kick ass chicks. Their missing time at the academy doesn't detract from their kickassiness. Both have older, hot, famously kickass mentor love interests who are off-limits. Potential, attainable love interest who will be really nice, but not be the hot, unattainable guy and therefore will not win the heroine. Also, I bet he'll die.--Totally wrong on this score. The world-building is startlingly similar. A lot of the "rules" remind me of the rules from the Vampire Academy books, but with minor twists.
I'm starting to get frustrated with books that introduce uber-heroes merely as a way to foreshadow that the MC is going to be said uber-hero. Why does every book do this? Am I the only one who is tired of stories where the MC is "The One" with some kind of mystical destiny? This isn't a criticism of Half-Blood in particularly, more a comment on the genre as a whole. And I'm not just talking YA--it happens in PNR and UF all the time, too. I think it's part of why I've been wanting to take a break from books with paranormal elements. Amanda: I agree that there are a lot of over done paranormal elements in this story. Well, especially since there was so many Vampire Academy parallels. I, too, have noticed so many paranormal books using the "The One" story line. I think that while it's over done, it's only bad if it's noticeably that way. If that makes sense? Books that pull you in and make you forget all your likes and dislikes and just make you READ, those are the ones that don't matter if they have used something that EVERY OTHER BOOK has used, because it seems unique and special and AWESOME. Ruby: I'm also really tired of the "second best love triangle" phenomenon. Anyone who reads this book would be able to tell and Alex and Aidan are "The Couple." There's no tension in having a third party--Seth--because we know Alex won't end up with him in the end. And since there's no tension, I see little reason for the love triangle to exist. It would be far more compelling to have the story be about Alex and Aidan trying to have a relationship and trying to deal with the fact that Alex was mystically tied to Seth in a complex way. But noooooo. Can't have that! Amanda: The love triangle really annoys me in this book. Of course, love triangles annoy me in most books, but I don't really see a reason for it here, especially after Alex and Aiden nearly consummated their relationship. I just kind of want to yell at Seth to get out of the way, so things can happen, romance wise. Ruby: Having finished the book, I'm yet more frustrated by the way Alex and Aiden's romance is set to play out. It wings me all the way back into Vampire Academy territory. Amanda: I just finished Half-Blood. Yay! Oddly enough, I think my favorite character in this book was Seth. Ruby: I was thinking about how you said that Seth was your favorite character in this book and it made me realize that I didn't connect with ANY of the characters. I didn't particularly like Alex, Aidan or Caleb--none of the characters ran very deep. Complex they were not. Most of them felt like cliches. Caleb was the loyal best guy friend, Aidan was the hot, kick-ass love interest with emotional baggage, Lena was the mean girl who is somewhat redeemed by tragedy.
Also, I don't think this book ever recovered from the similarities to Vampire Academy. It did develop a little in its own direction, but not enough to distinguish it. The biggest flaw of this book was that it wasn't bad, it was so mediocre as to make me care little about it. There was nothing in it to surprise or delight me. It was just blah. Amanda: Yes. I definitely agree that a lot of characters felt like cliches, and this is probably why I connected with Seth the most. We didn't really learn a lot about him, but I found him intriguing, more so than any other character. What we do know of him made me think that a) there's a lot more to his story, b) there's a lot more to him than just being the Apollyon (I'm spelling that wrong, I'm sure but I can't find the spelling), and c) I want to know more about him. I could take or leave the rest of the characters. The similarities to Vampire Academy were so strong that something amazing would have had to have happened (say THAT three times fast) in order for it to move beyond the label of a Vampire Academy-like book. There also seemed to be a lot of foreshadowing, but so much so that it was obvious what was coming next. In some ways, that made it less enjoyable because it was easy to figure out what happened next. Ruby: Oh, right! The first time the story of the two Apollyons was related it was obvious what the deal was going to be. But I think I was too busy drawing similarities between the Vampire Academy books to appreciate Seth. I kept picturing him as Adrian--and the heroine's other, appealing--but obviously not first choice--option in the love triangle. Amanda: Oh. I haven't met Adrian in the VA series yet so I was perhaps able to see Seth as his own character. I also think that if this particular love triangle continues into the next book (and beyond), I would get really annoyed with it. With Half-Blood, Aiden was the obvious choice, and though Seth was in the picture, he wasn't really an actual option. But I also suspect that that will change with the next book. And that makes me hesitant to read it. ...more
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Last year, when I finally succumbed and bought City of Bones, I fell in love. I devoured the three books of the series as fast as I could get my hands on them. And when I finished City of Glass, I immediately got on the web to find out when Cassandra Clare’s next book would be released. I got excited when I read about Clockwork Angel—because, have I mentioned that I’m a fan of Steampunk? I was thoroughly bummed to discover that it wouldn’t come out until August 31—that’s practically September! Then, since it came out on a Tuesday—during my first week of school—I didn’t have time to pick up my reserved copy the weekend. Argh!
By now, you’re probably wondering why I’m reviewing the book two and half weeks later. It’s not, sadly, because I loved it so much, it’s because Clockwork Angel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Now, to be honest, that probably would have been difficult. I’d built up this book in my mind so much since I finished City of Glass that there was probably not way it could have. Knowing this should have stunted my disappointment, but it didn’t. I knew right away that Clockwork Angel wouldn’t fascinate me the way the first three City books did. I knew because I could—and did--put it down in favor of other novels that came my way. I’ve had Clockwork Angel for two weeks and I only finished it today.
I don’t mean to imply that Angel is a bad book. It’s really not. I enjoyed it. I’ll be reading the other books in the series. But neither the characters nor the world enthralled like those of the City series did. This might be because of the inevitable comparisons—between Clary and Tessa, Will and Jace, Jem and Simon. Try as I might, I couldn’t help but compare them. Making Tessa tall where Clary was short did not make them internally different. It struck me that any dissimilarity was situational, not a matter of character. Will is also very Jace-like. He’s handsome. He’s reckless. He’s a Shadow Hunter. He’s fiercely loyal. He resists his attraction to the heroine. He’s got a troubled, mysterious past. I’m not going to go on.
The other thing that I struggled with in this novel was that, for me, it didn’t really evoke the period of 19th Century London. Clare tried. She certainly did her research. She just didn’t pull it off. This might be because most of the action in the book took place indoors and not out in Victorian London. It just occurred to me that maybe that was the problem. The book lacked detail about the domestic life of people who lived in the age. Sure, there were candles and sconces aplenty, but what really evokes a period is the little things, the less obvious things.
So, what about the plot? I don’t know what to say exactly. It’s complicated. It involves clockwork mechanisms, vampires and demons. But I guessed the major twist even before it came. Clare dropped some pretty heavy hints and I was frustrated that none of the characters picked up on them. I think my biggest complaint about this book was how much it seemed like a set up for the other volumes in the trilogy. I don’t expect that each book in a series should be completely stand-alone, but though the major conflict is resolved in Clockwork Angel, in the end it largely served as the prologue.
As I say, however, I will be reading the rest of the books in the series. Clare’s writing is solid and I like the characters enough to want to know more about them. But I’m looking forward to City of Fallen Angels with far more anticipation than I have for Clockwork Prince. ...more
I am a newbie to Neal Shusterman. The first novel that I read by him was the much-acclaimedThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I am a newbie to Neal Shusterman. The first novel that I read by him was the much-acclaimed Everlost. I enjoyed Everlost but not quite enough to by the still-in-hardcover sequel, Everwild. I picked up Unwind in the bookstore last weekend following the post-Mockingjay blog on Bookshelves of Doom. I admit that I began reading this book with some trepidation because I was not able to finish The Hunger Games. The storyline was just too gruesome for me and, frankly, I just never warmed up to Katniss. I’m sure someone will probably be thinking that I should have kept reading, but I just couldn’t.
Now you’re wondering, if I’m so lily-livered, why did I decide to read Unwind? Well, despite my experience with The Hunger Games, I was willing to give the Dystopian Futuristic Genre another chance. I hoped that someone could do it on a level that I was more comfortable with. Though that is possibly not ever going to happen, given the nature of the genre. I will say that, if the ability to finish a book is the test that measures my comfort level, then Shusterman was able to pull it off. I did finish Unwind. It was well written and thought provoking, but possibly not in the way that the author meant it to be.
Unwind tells the story of three teenagers. Matt, Risa and Lev are all scheduled to be unwound. The law of this Dystopian future is that abortions are illegal, but parents can decide to have their children unwound between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. Being unwound means that all the parts of the teenager (98%, actually) are given to another person (i.e., someone either in need of a new hand or eye or arm or else just wants a new one). In this way, the teenager is still considered to be “alive”, albeit not in his or her original form. So cutting teenagers up into bits and pieces is considered to be a sane, legal, morally acceptable thing to do in Matt, Risa and Lev’s society. Unwind begins by telling us how each of the protagonists come to be runaways from this terrible fate.
Matt, at sixteen, has been giving his parents a run for their money. He is a Rebel and a Bad Seed. He gets into fights and gets bad grades. At the beginning of the novel, Matt has found out that his parents have decided to get him unwound and he plans to run away. His girlfriend, at first, agrees to go with him and backs out at the last minute. Risa is a ward of the state that is just not talented enough to justify her existence. The money it takes to house and support her is needed elsewhere so it has been decided that she, too, will be unwound. Lev’s story is a little different. He is a tithe, a child born to be unwound. His parents had him for the express purpose of donating his body parts to those in need.
The three teens meet when Matt’s escape causes a terrible scene. Matt causes an accident that kills the driver of the bus that Risa is on. In order to make amends for the death of the bus driver, Matt kidnaps Lev, to save him from being unwound. What Matt doesn’t realize is that Lev has been indoctrinated in the unwind mentality. He views Matt not as his savior but a person who has kept him from his desired fate.
Though Risa and Matt spend most of the novel together,r Lev, through his decision to betray them, goes on his own journey. Lev experiences the most disillusionment in this novel but that makes sense, given his background and his youth. Matt and Risa already know that unwinding is wrong—their journey is more about making their lives (those that others have deemed worthless) meaningful.
Clearly Shusterman was trying to make a point with this novel. And I get that sometimes, in order to make a point, you have to take things to extremes. That’s what hyperbole is all about. Though Shusterman was successful in painting a horrific future for America, I guess I still have enough faith in humanity to believe that unwinding could never happen. The most truly horrifying Distopias are the ones that really seem possible. I think I was able to finish this book because I never suspended my disbelief long enough to picture such a future. That’s not to say that I didn’t find Matt, Risa and Lev’s world terrifying, not least because no one ever has the kind of philosophical discussion that it warrants. I kept waiting for someone to point out the obvious: if you separate all your body parts and you no longer have a conscious mind, then how can anyone still consider you alive?
I want to make sure, before I end this review, to give Shusterman props for the unwinding scene in the book, when we actually get to see what the process entails. Without resorting to gory imagery (or maybe because he didn’t), it is still the stuff nightmares are made of.
So, great book, but not 100% perfect. The writing was good, but I don’t think Shusterman was quite able to make his picture of the future completely work. ...more
The Twin's Daughter is that rare find in the Teen section these days: a Historical novel thaThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
The Twin's Daughter is that rare find in the Teen section these days: a Historical novel that is not paranormal. Some of my favorite Teen books are Historicals. So when I saw the Twin's Daughter, I prepared myself for a Bewitching Season-style fantasy. Don't get me wrong. I loved The Bewitching Season (not so much its sequel), but I was dead happy to finally come across a Teen novel that wasn't either a Fantasy or about a doomed character (i.e., Jane Grey). But before I get started with the review, here's the blurb from the dustjacket:
Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day…a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda?
Filled with shocking twists and turns, THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER is an engrossing gothic novel of betrayal, jealousy, and treacherous secrets that will keep you guessing to the very end.
I don't know if I've ever expiated on my love of Gothic novels. I, well, love them. Especially historical ones. It all started when I read Mary Stewart's Madame, Will You Talk? I was hooked. Unfortunately, Gothic authors aren't all as awesome as Mary Stewart. Then again, she's a hard act to follow. So I was excited to see a Gothic--especially in the Teen section--that was as new as The Twin's Daughter.
The only problem with Gothic novels is that there is, inevitably, a twist to the plot. You know it and the author knows it. He or she works hard not to give it away but--consciously or not--you've got your eye out the whole time you're reading a book. You just know the author's going to pull the rug out from under you. Now that I've said that, here's your spoiler warning: I'm going to write about the ending of The Twin's Daughter. I've thought about it and decided that it would be impossible for me to write a review without mentioning it. I'll try to be as unspecific as possible--but be warned that I might give something away. If you are afraid (and you might well be), stop reading...nowThe Twin's Daughter is, first of all, a good Historical. I liked the detail that Baratz-Logsted included, though I have to admit I wasn't certain what the time period was until I looked up Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience on Wikipedia. (The year is 1881, for those interested). The narrator, Lucy, fits well into this time period. She is both old-fashioned and yet has modern ideas about the role of women. I can see her, ten years after the end of the novel, fighting for women's suffrage. But I'm getting ahead of myself.When we first meet Lucy, she's 13. The novel opens on the pivotal event in the novel--the arrival of her's mother's twin, Lucy's Aunt Helen.
Aunt Helen, though she looks a great deal like Lucy's mother (Aliese), has been raised separately and very differently from her sister. She has come to their house from a workhouse. She's undernourished, uneducated, unrefined and, frankly, unladylike. Lucy, her mother and her father take Aunt Helen into their home and a transformation is wreaked. It doesn't take long for all the superficial differences between Lucy's mother and her Aunt Helen to be completely erased.
Helen and Aliese's interchangeability is the crux of this novel. Eventually, even Lucy is unable to tell the two apart. This is the meat of the novel, and the root of the mystery. Who is Mother? Who is Aunt Helen? The answer to this question is ultimately a great deal more tragic than anyone could ever imagine.
The lesser aspect of this novel is Lucy's coming of age, and the romance she has with a neighbor boy. Time passes swiftly in this novel. It's necessary for Lucy to age for the sake of her romance--but often years were passed with few words. I didn't like this. I think it took away some of the urgency that drives a Gothic. Also, years pass--presumably four or five--and we learn that Lucy makes the transition from child to woman. But the novel isn't really about Lucy and Lucy's own story suffers from that. In fact, I think Baratz-Logsted tried to right three different novels at once. And didn't quite pull it off. I felt cheated on Lucy's behalf. She doesn't have much of a teen-hood and her adulthood doesn't shape up to be much better.
I think my main frustration with the novel was that Lucy felt like a prop. I wasn't much interested in her story because I wasn't given much to be interested in. Life seems to be lived by Lucy's Mother, Father and Aunt. Her own life is given far less attention. This would be okay, except that this is a Teen novel. And I really wanted Lucy's life to be the contrast to the other, more sordid and tragic elements of the book. Instead, this book left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This could be entirely my own baggage, but I don't want to read books like this. I don't need a complete 100% happily ever after. But even the epilogue didn't make me feel better after the resolution. I scowled at the dust-jacket when I closed the book for the last time.
Therefore, I'm only giving The Twin's Daughter two points. I don't want to spend any more time with it than I already have....more
I first saw this book a few weekends ago, featured on a shelf of new Teen books. It caughtThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I first saw this book a few weekends ago, featured on a shelf of new Teen books. It caught my eye because of its flashy cover. My high school English teacher told me that red was the color that catches the eye the most and that publishers use this knowledge when designing book covers. Well, I guess he was right. The Eternal Ones has a red cover and I bought that. Now I'm also the proud owner of Delcroix Academy. Those publishers must have been polling an audience of one: me.
But before I get ahead of myself, here's the blurb:
Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just...happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, belieiving this way she can supress her powers and keep them hidden.
But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses--not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.
And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her "gift" than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it...But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.
The only reason I did not pick up this book immediately was because it was in hardcover and I have to keep myself to a limit of two hardcovers per week. Otherwise they add up to an empty pocket book. This isn't a hard and fast rule. I've been known to break it. I'm weak when it comes to books. But I was able to resist that first weekend because I have a blog now. It's like becoming a parent. (Not really.) I have responsibilities now. Reading responsibilities. I knew that I wouldn't have time to read one more book that first week--and how right was I? I'm still making up for the post blog-inauguration (bloguration?) shopping spree I went on. Well, any excuse will do when talking about book splurges.
Okay, okay, time to get down to the review:
Ahem. Delcroix Academy takes place in the small town of Danville, somewhere not too far from Seattle, Washington. Right away, there's a bonus point for this book. It doesn't take place in New York City! I love NYC. I've been there multiple times. But it would be nice if more people wrote about other places in the world, let alone the United States. Unfortunately, most of the action of Delcroix takes place inside the academy's walls. We don't learn much about Danville--or Seattle, for that matter. This novel is both a mystery and a paranormal. The narrator is Dancia Lewis, a fifteen year old girl who is average in all things--except her telekinetic ability. Since Dancia was fairly young, she has tried to hide by making herself as unnoticeable as possible. All her careful scheming turns out to have failed because someone has noticed her--the recruiter for the prestigious Delcroix Academy. Delcroix is that school where all the rich, smart people go. You have to be asked to attend and once you get in, its like being in a clique. You're set for life. You've got connections.
So Dancia, having worked so hard at being average, is immediately suspicious. Why would such an elite academy be recruiting someone like her? Dancia's never let on that she's telekinetic. In fact, she's tried to suppress the ability and ignore it when she can't. But Delcroix--and the hot guy who comes along to encourage Dancia to say yes to the recruiter--proves too tempting. Before Dancia knows it, she's moving into the dorm and making friends. For the first time in her life, she doesn't push people away.
The problem is that Dancia has been playing the role of the average teenage girl for so long that she's sold herself on the story. She doesn't really know what she's doing at Delcroix. Everyone seems to have a niche except her. Which, of course, makes her worry that someone at Delcroix Academy somehow found out about the only thing that is special about her. That thing she's tried so hard to keep secret--her telekinesis. Her suspicions are made worse by the second boy she meets--Jack. Jack is another poor, not especially talented student just like Dancia. And he seems to have a special ability of his own. Jack and Dancia become friends because they share a connection, they understand each other in a way that Dancia's never experienced before. But all this is confused with Dancia's feelings for the boy she met first--Cam. Then there's the fact that Cam keeps warning Dancia away from Jack. It's all very confusing for a fifteen year old girl.
I never really trusted Dancia as a narrator. She was naive and a little too into self-deception. I also didn't like the way she began to avoid Jack because she didn't want Cam to see them together. Dancia basically treats Jack like crap throughout most of the novel. Furthermore, we are repeatedly told that she and Jack "get" each other and that Jack makes her laugh and he's really an important part of her life. But that's all-we're told these things and never shown them. The only interactions Scott records between the two of them are the ones that paint a shady picture of Jack's past or as the "bad boy" in the inevitable love triangle. The same thing happens between Dancia and Cam--the development of their friendship happens off screen. All the talking and connecting they do in our presence has relevance to the plot. Which is great, but boring. I don't really feel like I know anything about any of the characters. I mean, Jack's the bad boy and he's been in a gang and he's lived on the streets. But what else? Where's his depth? Does he like or dislike anything? What about Cam? I think he's athletic, but I'm not 100% sure. And what about Dancia? Well, she's as drab and boring as she's spent so much time pretending to be. I have an idea about what she looks like, but she doesn't have any of the quirks or special interests that make a character interesting. These are one-dimensional characters. The good news is, this is the first book in the series. The bad news is: this is the first book in the series.
As for the plot, I pretty much had it figured out from the beginning. I knew who was good and who was "bad" and what the "big secret" was. Do you like it when I use so many quotation marks? Good. I guess you could say this book kind of bored me. Even Dancia's internal struggle--how to deal with the responsibility of having so much power--was predictable. My hope is, however, that this is only the prologue for the series. Scott has plenty to work with here. Maybe it was her publisher's idea to break it all down into tiny bits. I just wish they'd printed it in paperback. ...more
You should know up front that my review is going to be entirely skewed by my perspective andThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
You should know up front that my review is going to be entirely skewed by my perspective and, for lack of a better term, issues. Erin Bow is a talented writer. She tells a good story and she creates an enjoyable fantasy world. But I was disappointed in this book and my disappointment is going to be spoilery, so read on with caution.
Plain Kate tells the story of a woodcarver's daughter. The name is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those around Kate say that her name is fitting and Kate agrees. This doesn't matter to Kate. She has her father and her carving and that has always been enough for her. Which makes it all the more devastating when he dies. It also leaves Kate a destitute orphan in a town that is both unkind and superstitious. For a time, Kate subsists by carving "objarka", which are like charms to ward off evil. Her only companion is a tomcat named Taggle. She sleeps in the drawer of her father's market stall. The village buy her objarka but are also a bit afraid of her. She is never fully accepted and is often suspected of witchcraft. Bow's world is a little like Medieval England. There's definitely no technology and any and misfortunes and tragedies are marked down to witchcraft.
Enter Linay, a witch. He comes to Kate's town to do awful things, the least of which is encourage Kate's fellow villagers to suspect her of witchcraft. He does this with the hope of making Kate desperate enough to trade him her soul. At first, Kate refuses, but when her drawer is attacked with an ax while she is sleeping in it, she knows that she has no choice but to leave. She makes a trade with Linay that will enable her to leave the village. Though Kate only asks for supplies, she finds that her deal with Linay has left her with a bonus gift--her cat, Taggle, can speak.
Though Kate intends to live in the woods, the one man who is sympathetic to her, introduces her to the Roamers. The Roamers are clearly modeled after the Roma, or Gypsies. They live in caravans and have lots of rules about bathing and hygiene that resembles things I've heard about Romani traditions and beliefs. Kate's skill as a carver gets her opportunity to earn a place in the clan. She also meets Daj, who serves as a mother figure to many, including another young woman named Drina. Drina and Kate become close friends. Kate is soon forced to confide in Drina about her lack of shadow and her talking cat. It seems that Drina has a secret, too, though. Her mother was a witch and taught her some magic. Since magic is so reviled in their society, each girl has a potentially dangerous secret.
Being shadowless, however, isn't something that Kate can hide forever. The bad weather helps her keep it secret, but Kate knows that she will eventually die without a shadow. Kate and Drina scheme to find a way to get Kate's shadow back, but Drina's knowledge is incomplete. The results of Drina's fumblings have a terrifying result and things get even worse than ever for Kate.
My overwhelming complaint with this story was that it was so tragic. At the beginning of the novel, Kate loses her father. Her luck only gets worse from there. She never has a chance to get out from under her misfortunes, even at the end of the novel. I don't mind angst in a novel. It can be extraordinarily delicious when done right. But Kate's story depressed me. I mean, the girl just couldn't get a break. I felt like crawling under my covers and shutting the whole world out, even if Kate didn't. This is where my personal biases come into play. Erin Bow has talent. She has crafted a solid historical fantasy that I feel certain others will like. But when I found out that this was not going to be a sequel and that there wasn't going to be a chance for Kate's life to seriously improve, it was like being hit with an anvil. I don't like ending a story like that. I prefer to be left with a sort of uplifted feeling. Life is too short to be depressed by books. I know that some people don't feel that way, but those people probably don't mind novels where the narrator dies at the end. I'm looking at you, Jodi Picoult. I know you can see me giving you the evil eye.
What else didn't I like? Well, Linay. He crosses the line from uncomfortably bad into evil. I really, really expected things to turn out differently, even to the very end. When I got to the denouement, I nearly sobbed. This was made worse by the fact that there is basically no one Kate can count on by the end of the novel. She's betrayed by one and all. Sure, there are a few consolation prizes thrown in there at the end, but I sure as heck wouldn't want Kate's life and I definitely don't buy the last line of the novel. No way, no how.
I have to give Bow points for good writing. My main niggles with the novel were with its depressing story. I think that the characterization was good, and probably right on, but I don't care to read stories about so many unredeeming people. Again, my stuff. I would recommend this book for those who don't have a problem with bleakness in their books. Especially to lovers of historical fantasy. I'd be willing to read something else by Erin Bow, but next time I'll take a peek at the back of the book before I buy. ...more
While I have greatly enjoyed the various editions of Robin Hood that I've seen throughoutThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
While I have greatly enjoyed the various editions of Robin Hood that I've seen throughout the years, I can't say that I've ever actually read a Robin Hood-themed novel. The primary reason for this is my lack of interest in the romantic pairing. Robin Hood and Marian have never particularly compelling to me--and you know that I've gotta love romance in order to love the story. I've always seen Marian as a kind of ineffectual, inconsequential heroine. In fact, I hesitate to call her a heroine at all. Rather, she personifies the kind of woman the age of chivalry deifies. Women didn't take active roles according to the mores of the time, and that's a concept I can't get behind. All this is to preface this statement: It took a modern author to bring the legend of Robin Hood into the 21st Century. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it wasn't to me. I didn't know I loved the tale of Robin Hood until I read Scarlet. In fact, I don't think I loved Robin Hood at all until I read A.C. Gaughen's interpretation of him. For those two reasons alone, I loved this book. And the really wonderful thing is that it has so much else to offer besides. Scarlet achieves three lofty goals: One, it creates a strong, believable, admirable heroine who remains true to her time period. Two, it seamlessly weaves a new twist into a classic tale. In other words, it uses the good that the tale had to begin with, and makes it even better. Three: It tells a fantastic story. I honestly can't say enough good things about this debut. A.C. Gaughen is an author to stalk, and I sincerely hope to see more of her. Though, I must admit, that I hope she doesn't use dialect in her next book. It's the only thing that kept this book from being a perfect six. 5 1/2 Points: I would have this book's babies....more
Part The Bourne Identity, part The X-Files, False Memory is a fast, fantastic read. Author DanThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
Part The Bourne Identity, part The X-Files, False Memory is a fast, fantastic read. Author Dan Krokos wastes no time getting started with the action, but neither does he pull any punches while introducing his characters. Miranda, our main character, woke up remembering two facts: Her name is Miranda North, and she’s 17. Other than that, her mind’s a complete blank. Well, except for those automatic responses she has–buying some clothes so she doesn’t stick out in the crowd, and searching for places to take cover. Miranda may not know much, but she knows these aren’t the actions of your average teenager.
Fortunately, someone in the crowded mall knows Miranda. Peter takes the bewildered girl home, and explains: she’s be trained from birth to be a lean, mean fighting machine. Things only get weirder from there, as Peter elaborates on her life as one of four teens raised together, and their strange, regulated, parent-less childhood. It’s a lot to take in, but Miranda doesn’t have the luxury of time. The remaining members of her team went missing when she did, and they’ve yet to be tracked down. Miranda has to process on the run, and reconciling herself to a life she doesn’t remember isn’t any easier when people are trying to kill you.
Usually, I don’t like it when authors write MCs from opposite genders. I nitpick and tear apart and whine about unauthentic voices. I didn’t have this problem with Miranda and Dan Krokos. In part, this is due to the fact that Miranda doesn’t have the time to be a girl, only a bewildered human being. However explosive the action is, though, Krokos doesn’t gloss over plot or characterization. Krokos does what The Lost Princessfailed to do–expands on the characters while the action is happening. How each character–from Miranda to Peter to Noah and Olive–responds to their many crises helps us to get to know them better.
False Memory evokes The Bourne Identity and The X-Files without ever feeling derivative. It takes the best of both creates and seriously enjoyable new tale. I had a lot of fun reading it, and I look forward to seeing more from Dan Krokos....more
Kiss of Frost is a solid follow-up to a series that is vivid, surprising and fascinating aThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Kiss of Frost is a solid follow-up to a series that is vivid, surprising and fascinating all at the same time. Unfortunately, because I began this book with high expectations, I was disappointed by its slow start. Jennifer Estep spends an inordinate amount of time reacquainting her readers with the Mythos world. I needed a little refresher--no question--but I was about to start skimming pages when the story finally picked up. Once it got started, Kiss of Frost was a fast and furious read after that. It hit the ground running and didn't stop. While this makes for an exciting book, it detracted from what I'll call the "Veronica Mars" element that I loved so much in book one. Gwen doesn't get to spend a great deal of time investigating because she's too busy being in danger and running for her life. Not to mention moping about Logan. Granted he's hot (oh so hot), and Gwen's a teenager, and these two factors combine to make the fact that he's dating someone else wickedly painful for her, but I wanted a little less moping and a little more of the self-confidence she exhibited in Touch of Frost. I did love the relationship between Gwen and Daphne. It's touching to see Gwen have a true best friend at last, and their relationship is portrayed with realism. Gwen and Daphne's friendship began about the same time as Daphne's relationship with Carson, a fact of which Gwen tries to be respectful--sometimes to her own detriment. Also, I think the two girls are still trying to figure out how to be best friends, and for Gwen especially, that's not going to be a smooth path. Back when I read Touch of Frost, I developed a major crush on Logan Quinn, but in this book, his allure waned a bit for me. This was, in part, due to two things. One, he plays a much smaller role in this book. He makes a number of onscreen, nonspeaking appearances, and Gwen thinks about him a great deal, but we don't get to see him, er, in action all that much. The other issue was Logan dating Savannah when he had feelings for Gwen. It was a crummy thing to do, and I liked him the less for it. Kind of like I'm really hoping it's only a rumor that he signs all the mattresses of the girls he's slept with. Because: ew. Finally, there was the mystery, which was the weakest element of Kiss of Frost. The mysteries weren't mysterious at all. (Though to be honest, I only guessed half of Oliver's secret.) In all, Kiss of Frost suffers from book two malady. It's a bridge to the next book, but doesn't stand well on its own. I'm looking forward to the next installment because I know what Jennifer Estep can do--and this wasn't it. 3 Points: I would have coffee with this book. ...more
Oh, man, was this ever my Most Highly Anticipated Historical Fantasy of the year! It has eThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Oh, man, was this ever my Most Highly Anticipated Historical Fantasy of the year! It has everything! A handsome lord! A historical setting! A fantasy element! Yeah, that's pretty much all I need to make me happy. However, while this story has a few things to recommend it, it's not the shivery, delicious Gothic fantasy I was hoping for. I think Darker Still reads well on the surface, but it's not a novel with great substance. It will appeal to the same audience that adores the Fallen books and maybe the Rebel Angels series, but not the reader of Song of the Nile or Daughter of the Forest. As the description mentions, the main character in Darker Still is seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart. What it doesn't tell you (bizarrely in my opinion) is that Natalie is mute due to a childhood trauma that also resulted in her mother's death. Also interestingly, Natalie isn't an Elite New Yorker. Her world isn't the Golden Age described in the Luxe novels. Her father is the director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is still in its infancy. Natalie's father is her connection to the art world and, thus, to the painting of Lord Denbury. Natalie's muteness has kept her from interacting with many people. Lord Denbury's portrait and its entrance into her life, mark a radical change for her. And while Natalie may not speak, that doesn't mean she's shy and retiring. She can take care of herself, and keeps her head held high when confronted with those who have little sympathy or understanding for her condition. I'll admit that Darker Still was strong coming out of the gate. I was titillated by the idea of a portrait of a handsome lord whose life had (supposedly) ended in mystery taking New York by storm. I think I would have enjoyed the novel a little more if the main twist hadn't been in there--that is, if Natalie had never gone in the mirror. Lord Denbury, once met in person, quickly lost his charm. I didn't like him nearly as much in three dimensions. And you know me--if the hero fails me, the story is pretty much a wash. Lord Denbury was not, unfortunately, the only character that palled. Margaret, Natalie's potential friend, is as disappointingly boy-crazy as our first glimpse of her suggests, and her aunt is ponderously heavy-handed with her knowledge of the occult, her faith in Natalie’s ability to save Denbury, and the flaws of her niece. I kept waiting for Hieber to redeem Margaret in some way, but her storyline (and character arc) was dropped like a sack of potatoes. Finally--and this is really just me nit-picking—but I hate it when authors refer to characters as Lord Fragglerock and don’t give them an actual title. There are plenty to choose from. If one is a lord, one might be a baron, a viscount, an earl, a marquis or a duke. One might also be a younger son (though in that case he’d be called “Lord Jonathan” and not “Lord Denbury.” Also, I presume he’s the heir because of the property he was set to inherit pre-being stuck in a painting. Just, I don’t know, roll a die or something. One can be "younger son" and six can be "duke." Since the turn of the century was known to be the era of Robber Barons and Dollar Princesses, you can be sure New Yorkers would have known whether Denbury was a baron or a duke. 3 1/2 Points I'd flirt with this book over drinks. ...more
Loved this one! I think I may have a weakness for apocalyptic stories that involve deadly illnesses. The Way We Fall reminded me of the Last SurvivorsLoved this one! I think I may have a weakness for apocalyptic stories that involve deadly illnesses. The Way We Fall reminded me of the Last Survivors books by Susan Beth Pfeffer--but not in a derivative way. In a way that makes everything seem shockingly possible. Can't wait for my Audible credit to come through so I can nab the sequel....more
Okay, I unexpectedly loved this book. I almost didn't even want to read it, because KendraThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Okay, I unexpectedly loved this book. I almost didn't even want to read it, because Kendra didn't seem a very interesting character to me. I tend not to enjoy fairytale retellings told from the perspective of the "fairy godperson." I don't know why. It's an unexplained prejudice, but I'm not up for any reformation, guys. Luckily for me, I read between the lines. Most of Bewitching is told from the perspective of Emma, despite the tone of the description. Kendra's story is interwoven between Emma's in a mostly entertaining way. Fortunately for me, Kendra's forays into times past were skimmable. I enjoyed the tale of the French prince, but skipped most of the mermaid and the Titanic. I don't think my overall reading experience suffered from this--but feel free to set me straight if you disagree. Emma's story is a refreshing, new take on the Cinderella story. You probably think you've seen it all, read every reinvention of Cinderella--and I don't blame you. It's definitely been overdone. Not that I'm complaining--I love a Cinderella story--but I really enjoyed what Flinn did with it. Emma is part evil stepsister, part Cinderella, and all a character to root for. There are definitely times where you might want her to act, but you end up admiring her in the end. She's smart enough not to make the mistakes that most Cinderella rehashes do--but that doesn't mean she's perfect. I just admire that her mistakes are the same-old, same-old. They're what make this retelling of the classic fairytale fresh and new. I can't say that Bewitching was one of my favorites so far this year, but I definitely enjoyed it. In fact, I will definitely be looking forward to the rest of the books in this series, and I wishlisted Beastly and Cloaked directly upon reading the last work on the last page. This is the perfect pick-me-up, the thing to read when you're in a slump, or you just want something that will flow easily from beginning to end. There's a place for these kind of books on my shelf. I treasure them almost as much as the Desert Island Keepers. 4 1/2 Points: I'd go on a second date with this book. ...more
My high hopes for this book were mixed with the low hopes I had after reading The BooksmugThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
My high hopes for this book were mixed with the low hopes I had after reading The Booksmugglers' review of Sisters Red. In their joint review, Ana and Thea completely convinced me not to read Sisters Red, but that didn't mean that I wasn't willing to give Jackson Pearce a try. In fact, it only made me more curious about this Hansel and Gretel rewrite, so I snapped up the chance to review Sweetly. I also want to say that I really like fairytale retellings. And I especially like it when a somewhat neglected fairytale gets the modernization treatment. Hansel and Gretel isn't exactly a neglected fairytale, though I would say that it is in the world of YA fiction. YA fairytale retellings tend to be focused on the Prince Charming stories--Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White. Which I totally love--I confess a Cinderella story gets me almost every time--but I was really intrigued to see how Pearce would recreate Hansel and Gretel, as it seemed to be rife with possibilities. Sweetly tells the story of Gretchen and her older brother Ansel. As children, Ansel and Gretchen went into the forest with their sister--and only the two of them came back out again. Their lives were ever after haunted by the loss of their sister. Ansel because he felt responsible and Gretchen because the missing sister was her twin. In the present, Ansel and Gretchen have been kicked out of their home by their stepmother because Gretchen has finally turned eighteen. Their cross-country road trip reaches an abrupt halt outside the dying Southern town of Live Oak, where they're taken in by a young woman running a chocolatier. Pearce's retelling of Hansel and Gretel messes a little bit too much with the fairytale that it's supposed to be retelling. She transforms the villain of the piece from the "witch" of the traditional story into a pack of slavering werewolves. The switch comes out of left field and made me scrunch up my face and go: "Huh-what?" I still didn't understand the where they came in, even when I closed the last page of the book. It occurs to me now that I might know if I'd read Sisters Red. Oh, well, too late for that! The primary conflict of the novel is the fact that eighteen-year-old girls keep disappearing from the town of Live Oak. Not entirely coincidentally, their disappearance happens after the girls go to a party held by Sophie the chocolatier. For me, this was the sticking point. I didn't get why every single one of the girls in the town is completely without reservation about Sophie's party. If girls are disappearing after they attend it, I don't buy that they would all be clueless enough not to connect the two events. Gretchen's denial makes more sense--she'd rather stick her head in the sand about Sophie than look a gift horse in the mouth. We've all had these moments, but this facet of her personality doesn't exactly make her a kick-butt heroine. Add to all of this that I was uninspired by the romance. Either one, frankly. And you know how important the romance is to my enjoyment of any book. I didn't, however, hate it. My reaction wasn't the vehement dislike of The Booksmugglers, but it wasn't strong in the other direction, either. Depending on the fairytale Pearce decides to take on next, I'd be willing to give her another try. In the meantime, I'd appreciate any suggestions for this theme?
3 Points: I would have coffee with this book....more
I don’t know about you, but I’m a total Anglophile. I mean, I’m not ready to start drinking my bThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a total Anglophile. I mean, I’m not ready to start drinking my beer at room-temperature or anything, but a reference to Mother England on a dust-jacket always earns a second look from me. You could write a book about fluffy bunny zombies–which, let’s face it, is no one’s favorite genre–but if the backcover blurb mentions how the Fluffy Bunny Zombies invade the Houses of Parliament, I won’t immediately reject it. Shallow? Perhaps, but be honest–who here doesn’t have a back cover blurb weakness? Didn’t think so.
Almost everything about this book–from the moody cover to the blurb with the right keywords–made it seem that it would be a hit with me. (The author’s name being the exception.) Too bad I was entirely mistaken. The Last Princess is one of those books that you have to read alone so others won’t see the faces you make. Or maybe my WTF? face is particularly ugly. Either way, I can’t recommend this one, and here’s why.
The Last Princess hops from one horrible event to the next. I don’t mean that it has nonstop action–I mean, literally, no one has worse luck than Princess Eliza. She just goes from one bad situation to another. The result is eye-rolling. It makes sense that, as a princess, Eliza would have little real-world experience, but it doesn’t mean that she needs to lack intelligence as well. Also, the constant stream of life-threatening events did nothing to heighten the tension of the novel. It lessened it. Despite the fact that Eliza is placed in numerous life-threatening situations, I never once feared for her life. I don’t think my blood pressure spiked at all.
There’s also the pace of the novel. The Last Princess clocks in at 295 pages–but those are large-print, widely-spaced pages. A lot happens…but a lot also doesn’t. Namely, characterization, setting, emotional resonance and world-building. Because of this book, I’ve decided that England would be an awesome setting for a post-apocalyptic novel. I mean–think about it! It’s an island! Think of the complete isolation, the hardship that would result if it was disconnected from the rest of the world! INSTANT CONFLICT. It’s just that The Lost Princess didn’t have the juice to pull it off. Thus–interesting concept, poor execution.
Pacing aside, the thing that killed this novel for me was the one-dimensional characters. They were wooden. Again, full of potential, but poorly realized. Part of the problem is the length. I don’t know if I’ve actually said this before, but The Lost Princess should have been longer. It needed more substance. I don’t know if more words would’ve have entirely fixed the problem, but I don’t think it would have hurt, either....more
I adored this book. It was sent to me by the publisher, but it sat on my bookshelf for a lThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I adored this book. It was sent to me by the publisher, but it sat on my bookshelf for a long time until I picked it up on a whim. And, boy, am I glad I did. It's light, frothy and humorous, but with a good mystery. From page one, I was hooked. Honestly--once I picked it up I didn't put it down again until I was finished. And when I did finish, I shot straight to my email to query the author about setting up an interview. Deadly Cool's greatest strength is its characters. I like Hartley plenty--she comes off as a teen you'd like to know--but even better is her best friend, Sam. Not to mention her possible new love interest, Chase. You gotta love a high school boy who has the self-confidence to wear eyeliner. Plus, there's a visible parent! With actual speaking appearances! YA books get points based on that fact alone. As wonderful as the characters were, I also enjoyed the writing. It had a teen "voice" without coming across as juvenile or immature. Halliday's sense of humor was just right--funny but not over the top. I'm ready and raring to try out the light romantic suspense she writes for adults. Let me address the romance for a moment. First of all, romance is rather too strong a word. In a nice departure from most teen novels at the moment, this is not a story of insta-love. It's a mystery first and foremost, with the possibility of romance in the future. I really, really appreciated this, not least because I'm a fan of slow-burn romance. The fact the Halliday doesn't make Deadly Cool about Hartley's move from her loser boyfriend to her "perfect match" does more to make her book stand out amongst than the most paranormal twist out there. Basically, run out and get this book. You need to read it in time for Social Suicide. It comes out in April, so you've got a little time. 5 Points: I would move in with this book. ...more
I love Simone Elkeles. She turns out these swoon-worthy romances that never fail to please. If they lackThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I love Simone Elkeles. She turns out these swoon-worthy romances that never fail to please. If they lack the brilliance of my all-time favorite novels, that doesn’t mean I enjoy them less. They’re pure confection–completely addicting and I always want more afterward. In fact, I was anticipating the next book in the series before I was even halfway through Wild Cards.
Wild Cards is clearly an introduction to Elkeles new series. Although I have no way of knowing this for sure, I doubt it will be the strongest book in the Wild Cards series, but I think it delivers all the same. Ashtyn and Derek are a great pair with simmering chemistry, but I see the potential in the other characters more than I ever saw in them. This is both a blessing and a curse. I love when characters are introduced early in a series and you have to wait (and wait and wait) for a much-beloved character to get his book (*cough*Hawke*cough*) and that’s what Wild Cards was for me. It set up the universe and the cast of characters better than it showcased its central relationship.
Don’t get me wrong–Derek and Ashtyn are fun. They bicker, flirt and yearn for each other in a delightful fashion. I followed their romance with avidity. I did find it a trifle lacking and the, er, culmination of their relationship a little bit precipitate, but I also didn’t mind much. I was a bit disappointed that their relationship overshadowed the other elements of the novel. Derek’s refusal to play football in light of his mother’s death is too easily resolved (and without much introspection) and Ashtyn’s father’s neglect of her is addressed, but never between the two of them.
Despite any reservations I might have had, I raced to the end of Wild Cards. This one didn’t live up to Rules of Attraction (my favorite of Elkeles’ novels), but I did really enjoy it. Simone Elkeles is compulsively readable and I think I’ll always be a fan. There’s something to knowing you can expect a happy ending from an author–and something even better in knowing you’ll enjoy getting there....more
Being familiar with this series, it doesn’t surprise me that Gwen and Logan’s first date ends up so disasThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Being familiar with this series, it doesn’t surprise me that Gwen and Logan’s first date ends up so disastrously. What does bother me is that I started this book with high hopes. I really enjoyed the first book in the Mythos Academy series, but by book two, Gwen’s love interest, Logan, was beginning to lose his allure. Book three appeared to put things back on the right track–Gwen and Logan had finally got past their holding pattern and had made tentative (yet firm) steps toward each other. Which is why Crimson Frost came as something of a disappointment for me.
Of course, the Mythos Academy books are not just about Gwen and Logan. Their romance is a big part of the series’ storyline, but the larger arc is Gwen & Co.’s quest to defeat Loki and the Reapers. Since I prefer my romance with a healthy dose of plot, I appreciate that there’s more going on than Gwen and Logan’s will they/won’t they relationship. However. When an author makes moves to take the main couple out of their holding pattern only to return them to it in the next book, I call shenanigans.
Which is all to say that Crimson Frost is shenaniganolicious. There are a few revelations that get Gwen a little closer to defeating Loki, but mostly the book read as though it was written to separate her from Logan again. The whole book, honestly, felt like a step back for the series. It was a disappointing read. Not bad enough to keep me from reading the next installment, but frustrating enough that I’m grateful that I’ll have the time I need before Midnight Frost is released. Hopefully Estep will be ready to allow Gwen at least one small breakthrough. I’m counting on it....more
You know those books that reach such a fever pitch of popularity that the very fact that so many people lThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
You know those books that reach such a fever pitch of popularity that the very fact that so many people loved it turns you off? The Selection was one of those books for me. Despite having gotten my copy when the book was first published, it took me over a year to get around to reading it. Was it worth the wait? Not really–but I do think it was a good thing I didn’t read it when my anticipation was so high. My opinion of The Selection probably benefited. Sadly, this isn’t saying much.
The Selection is basically The Bachelor Goes Dystopian. Since I’m the only person on earth with little-to-no interest in TV dating competition shows, this was not a recipe for success. I was frankly bored with America’s “dilemma.” She doesn’t want to be princess; didn’t even want to enter the lottery to enter the competition. It was only that her mother bribed her and her boyfriend said he’d never be able to live with himself knowing he’d taken away her one chance to become royalty. She never expected to be chosen! And now that she has, and her boyfriend has thrown her over, she might as well go ahead with it For the Sake of Her Family.
Yes, America’s that girl. The one who makes a “sacrifice” so her family can rise out of poverty and then complains about it through the whole book. She’s that godawful 21st Century girl plopped into a historical novel, only this time it’s a Dystopia. America’s the only one that questions the caste system, the only person who cares about her servants, the only one who is above competing for the prince’s affections. By the end of the novel, I was so over America that I would have stuck my tongue out at her if I hadn’t been afraid she’d see me.
Sadly, if America was awful, the other characters were worse. Aspen’s a douche and Prince Maxon is worse. Maybe it’s just that I don’t go in for sensitive heroes, but honestly. You’re supposed to be the ruler of a country someday, dude! Grow a pair, already, and give America the boot she so richly deserves. And while you’re at it, use some of your sovereignty to make America shut up.
This is a Dystopian, so I can’t review The Selection without addressing the world-building. There’s some (expositional) backstory, but the more I think about it the less it makes sense. I understand why a new government needed to be formed, but why a kingdom? And why a caste system? It appears to exist solely to make the book possible. Furthermore, the violent rebel attacks? Not particularly violent.
The worst part of this book is the end, which sets up the rest of the trilogy for what looks to be a painful love triangle. If it weren’t for that, I might have considered reading The Elite. However, the last few chapters create such a painful scenario that I doubt I could bear to read any more. If I liked either of the male love interests, I’d be upset with America for stringing them along. As it is, well, I can chalk it up to just another unlikeable aspect of a character in a series I won’t be continuing to read....more
Now I’m an “adult,” I sometimes reconnect with old, childhood friends. I’m always delighted to see them aThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Now I’m an “adult,” I sometimes reconnect with old, childhood friends. I’m always delighted to see them and I always enjoy the time we spend catching up. After we part ways, I have pleasant memories and, while I’ll likely say to myself, “It would be nice to see him/her again,” I won’t be counting down the days until we are reunited. I think about those friends occasionally and tell myself I should call them, but mostly, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Until the next time, when I’m just as thrilled to see them as I was before life swept me up in its busy tide.
I have much the same relationship with The Body Finder books. I know that Kimberly Derting will always show me a good time, and I know I’ll want to read her books as they are published, but my liking for her lacks the urgency I feel for, say, Kelley Armstrong’s YA novels. Which is a shame, really. I always think I should appreciate The Body Finder books more than I do but, hey, if I don’t feel it, I don’t feel it–right?
Dead Silence follows the same formula as the previous books–Violet senses an echo and is unable to resist following it. So far, despite her ability to sense and hear echoes, Violet has kept her school life at school and her crime-fighting life…not. This time the murders bring Violet’s two worlds to a collision point. And it doesn’t help that Rafe and Gemma have enrolled in her high school.
The collision of Violet’s two worlds is further emphasized by her relationships with the two males in her life. Jay, her best friend and boy friend is a constant–always has been, always will be. But then there’s Rafe. Dead Silence flirts on the edge of the idea of a love triangle and goes not a step further. There’s obviously some connection between Violet and Rafe but what it is and what it means for her relationship with Jay is murky at best. I’m getting mixed signals from Derting. One minute Violet’s world is complete with Jay. The next, Rafe has dug up a dead body to help Violet. Can Violet have both boys? I’m starting to wish it was possible. And if I had to pick the main characters in these books, they’d be Violet and Rafe, not Violet and Jay.
While Dead Silence is another solid entry in this solid series, I’d label it as its weakest. The story didn’t really go anywhere and even the emotional arc felt muddled. I found myself wondering if Derting herself knew where her series was headed. Furthermore, I had a really hard time remembering the details of Violet’s school life and friends, which made it difficult for me to care about the storyline with her best friend, Chelsea. At this point, even Jay is starting to blend into the background. Too many characters and flitting in and out of the story and I fail to become emotionally invested.
What I think (or maybe just what I’d like to see) is an end to Violet’s story (or maybe a firm direction for it). Then I’d like Rafe to have a story of his own. Rafe is clearly the male lead and the male lead needs to get his girl. If it’s not going to be Violet (and I sure hope it’s not Chelsea) then he needs a story of his own. I’d totally read that....more
Narrator Review: Rebecca Soler did a magnificent job of narrating Scarlet, to the point that I’m thinkingThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Narrator Review: Rebecca Soler did a magnificent job of narrating Scarlet, to the point that I’m thinking of “rereading” Cinder, just to see what she did with the first book in the Lunar Chronicles. Her Cinder is brash, sarcastic and vulnerable all at once, and clearly a separate voice from Scarlet’s. Maybe it’s the slightest suggestion of a French accent in the parts of Scarlet narrated by the titular characters, but Soler nails it. She’s similarly adept at portraying Wolf, without resorting to the gruff manliness that female storytellers often use. Soler’s Prince Kai is, perhaps, the weakest of the three main portrayals, but through no fault of the narrator. I already checked to see what other books Rebecca Soler has narrated, and added some of them to my Audible wishlist.
Book Review: I crazy-loved this book. I listen to audiobooks in my car (Audible purchases being the only exception), and I frequently took the long route while I was listening to Scarlet. Or sat in my driveway, unable to turn off the radio. Or offered to be the one to go on the lunch run. Anything to get back in the car. The narrator was great, yes, but Meyer is also a talented writer. She keeps you interested in the story despite the frequent changes in perspective.
I like Marissa Meyer’s work for the same reason that I like fairy-tale retellings. I know what I’m going to get. I know the basic plot (and most likely the outcome). But knowing what’s going to happen doesn’t make the journey any less pleasurable. What I love about fairy tale retellings is the fresh exploration of a familiar tale. This is especially true in the case of the Lunar Chronicles, where we derive a great deal of joy in seeing how Meyer reinterprets fairy tale standards. How does Meyer evoke Little Red Riding Hood, and tell an old story in a new way? Delightfully, with a whole host of small details, that’s how.
On the characters, I have to say that Wolf was, hands down, my favorite. I’m sure no one is surprised by this. It’s more than just his name, though! He’s kick-butt, tortured, and smexy. Sigh. Lucky Scarlet. Speaking of whom: I liked Scarlet a lot, too. There were certainly times when I wanted to hit her upside the head in hopes of knocking some sense into her, but I liked her slightly hysterical, panicking, illogical personality given the situation. Heroines who always keep their heads and never, ever let their emotions do their thinking…well, they’re just too cool for me and I don’t want to hang out with them because they always make me feel bad about myself.
As long as the next books in the Lunar Chronicles feature Scarlet and Wolf, I’m set. Cinder got on my nerves with her constant refusal to use her Lunar powers (we get it already), but I still liked her. Prince Kai bored me. He’s completely powerless in an extremely realistic way. Principled world leaders don’t have it as easy as you’d think, which I totally buy and which is totally uninteresting from the perspective of plot. I’m definitely waiting on Cress and I’ll absolutely be holding out for the audio version!...more
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is my most favorite type of novel. It’s A) historical, B) Gothic and C) takesThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is my most favorite type of novel. It’s A) historical, B) Gothic and C) takes place in the 20th Century. (Note: I love 19th Century historicals, too, it’s just that they’re easier to find than 20th Century ones). It’s no surprise, then, that I enjoyed Cat Winters’ debut novel. Even if it does take place in San Diego–which is about as far from a Gothic setting as I can imagine. Far too much sun.
Blackbirds tells the story of Mary Shelley Black, beginning with her arrival in San Diego. Her father has been arrested for helping young men avoid the draft, leaving Mary Shelley with no choice but to head south to live with her Aunt Eva. The Spanish Flu is ravaging the nation and World War I is in its fourth year. Death is everywhere and All Things Ghostly are the rage. Charlatans are making money off the grieving, not the least of whom is Julius Ember, the brother of Mary Shelley’s first love.
Mary Shelley is a headstrong heroine. In any other era, she would’ve driven me up the wall. However, she’s perfectly placed where she is. Everything was changing, from emerging technologies to women’s suffrage, and she was on the forefront of that; believable in her modern views, not so much ahead of her time as a product of them. If I sometimes felt like rolling my eyes at her, well, she was a sixteen year old. They’re not known for their perfect logic, intelligent decision-making or their tolerance of their elders. I’m sure that was true, even in 1918.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is part mystery, part coming-of-age story. It’s also a story of first love, of the hardships of life, and of striving in lieu of obstacles and tragedies. It’s Mary Shelley’s story. There are external characters–notably Mary Shelley’s Aunt Eva–but Mary is an intensely cerebral, private person. With school discontinued because of the flu, she doesn’t have any peers, much less anything to occupy her scientific mind. It makes all the sense in the world that she would set out to solve the mystery of Stephen’s death. The memory of him is the only friend she has left.
While I liked In the Shadow of Blackbirds, it was a slice of life novel. It may be argued that all novels fit this definition, and I couldn’t deny that life-changing events occurred between the pages, but Blackbirds lacked something. It felt a little scattered, as though it didn’t really know what kind of book it wanted to be. I’m not sure I could identify one theme that stood out above all others. While Mary had a number of experiences in the novel, they lacked the coherence that should have tied them together.
I’m excited to hear that Cat Winters is still writing. She’s an author with tremendous potential, and I would like to see what else she can do. If In the Shadow of Blackbirds is any indication, we’ll be in for a real treat when her sophomore novel hits the shelves....more
I DNF’d this one. Now, this is something I rarely do with audiobooks. Usually I can make it through any audiobook, no matter how awful, by sheer virtuI DNF’d this one. Now, this is something I rarely do with audiobooks. Usually I can make it through any audiobook, no matter how awful, by sheer virtue of laziness. I mean it. If I don’t have another audiobook all cued up and ready to go, I’ll listen to whatever I’ve got on my phone or in my car’s CD player. Especially if I’m in my car. I will NOT pull over just because my iPhone has inexplicably decided to play chapter three all. Over. Again. Better that than silence.
So I really tried with Dualed. Unfortunately, I hated the main character. West is one of those TSTL (too stupid to live) heroines you always hear about. I couldn’t stand her. I get that her entire family died–how awful! I can’t imagine!–and I can see how becoming an assassin (or Stalker) was a logical choice because it was a free form of “training” that would ensure she would beat her own Alt when the time came, but since the girl runs the moment she’s activated, that logic falls apart. Plus, not only do we miss all the action (with one or two exceptions, West’s kills take place off-screen), but I don’t see that becoming a Stalker gave West any skills at all.
And don’t even get me started on the romance. I could not have cared less about it....more
Since I listened to the audio version of this book, I'm splitting my review into two parts:This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Since I listened to the audio version of this book, I'm splitting my review into two parts: 1) The Book and 2) The Narration. The Book The Iron Fey opens with Meghan Chase telling the story of her father's inexplicable, unsolved disappearance, and how it led to current life as the stepdaughter of a poor Southern farmer. On the surface, Meghan's life is normal, if a bit dismal. She doesn't have fashionable clothing, the guy she likes doesn't seem to know she exists (nor does anyone else for that matter), she only has one friend, and her mom won't agree to take her to take the test for her driver's license. Little does Meghan know that her problems aren't as mundane as she thought they were. You see, Meghan is half-Fae. And her brother has been kidnapped in order to lure her into Faerie. And it turns out her best friend is Fae. Not just any Fae, but the famous Puck, and all these years he's been watching over her on behalf of his king, Meghan's father. Just when Meghan thinks things can't get any worse, she meets her stepmother, Titania, and witnesses the opening salvo of a war between the Winter and Summer Courts. These are all incidental to Meghan's quest to rescue her brother. Or she thinks they are, anyway. She leaves the Fae Courts to embark on her rescue mission. Along her intermittent way, she's accompanied by Grimalkin, the Caith-Sith, Puck in his Fae form, and Ash, a prince of the Winter Court. Meghan is not my favorite heroine. It would make sense for her to be ignorant of Faerie ways, but Meghan isn't just ignorant, she's thick-skulled. When she encounters things that are different from her expectations, she becomes easily bewildered and, ultimately, doesn't take action. Also, I find it a little unbelievable that she was so entirely ignorant of all things Faerie. It would be nearly impossible for her not to have developed some sort of preconceived notions about Faeries--especially since she's obviously read A Midsummer Night's Dream because she knows who Puck is. What I found most irritating about Meghan was her constant goodness. Kagawa overdoes Meghan's pacifism a wee bit too much. It's like when vegetarians are turned into vampires or werewolves. Okay, I get it. The heroine loves all god's creatures. There were times when I (who hides her face during boxing movies) wished someone would inject her with some bloodthirsty juice already. As for the other characters, I never felt that I got to know them very well. Ash is kind of typical Fae--cold and stand-offish, haughty, but beautiful--and Puck is Puck. Grimalkin was a slightly more interesting character, but not very. Kagawa left these characters largely unexplored, and while that makes sense in Grim's case, it's not so for Puck and Ash. At least, I don't think it is since they're Meghan's romantic interests. Not that I think Puck has a chance. I can even understand a little mystery about Ash, but Meghan's spent most of her childhood with Puck as a friend. Wouldn't she know more quirks of his personality? Or maybe wonder why she was friends with someone who was never, ever serious? There was very little hint of their shared past history, which seemed odd, given that he was her only friend. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy listening to this book. It's more that there wasn't anything special in it for me. I wasn't particularly attracted to either of the male leads, and Fae just seems like the woods at first and a junkyard later. A few times, Ash does things with his winter magic, but having finished the book, I have very little idea what it means to be fae--or in Meghan's case, half-fae. I don't know if I'll be listening to the next book in the series. The Narrator A good narrator is hard to come by, and I think this is especially true for teen books. The range of voices required is, frankly, exhausting, and I've listened to far too many narrators give characters bizarre quirks of speech (impediments, lisps, etc) in order to illustrate who was speaking. By and large, Kristine Hvram did a good job with Meghan, but many of her male characters sounded alike. I confess that I cringed every time she used the word faerie because she put so much emphasis on the "fae" part. Maybe this is how you pronounce the word, but it annoyed me anyway. ...more
I was really excited about this book. I thought I had unearthed a heretofore undiscovered (This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I was really excited about this book. I thought I had unearthed a heretofore undiscovered (by me) Teen Paranormal Romance Set in a Private Boarding School. And I had. And it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great, either. All in all, this was a pretty average book. There was nothing new or surprising in it and there was nothing in it that got me excited one way or the other. I mean, in either a good way or a bad way. True, I rolled my eyes at certain points, but sometimes I do that when I'm reading a book that is a guilty pleasure. Shadow Hills doesn't qualify as a guilty pleasure book. Whether or not I'm eager to get to the end of a book is one of the benchmarks I use to gauge how much I like what I'm reading. That's probably true for you, so I'll just say that I was eager to finish Shadow Hills. But not because I wanted to see how things turned out at the end--because I wanted to move on to the next book in my TBR pile.
Shadow Hills takes place in one of my favorite settings. Which I've mentioned already, so there's no need for me to tell you what it is for the six thousandth time. The main character and narrator, Persephone "Phe" Archer, has come from LA to go to school at Devenish, your standard East Coast Prep School. It's somewhere in Massachusetts. There's no point in my rehashing all the things the description tells you about this novel, so I won't. But the death of Phe's sister plays a much smaller role in this book than it suggests. Phe's sister (predictably named Athena) died some time ago--six months to a year. I don't know why, exactly, but that surprised me. I think it took some of the immediacy away from the story--but on the other hand, it gave Phe enough time to have moved on and eased up on grieving enough to move on with her life a little.
Phe is fifteen, though she doesn't come off the page as one so young. This could be attributed to the death of her sister, but she seemed a little too, I don't know, adult-minded to be authentically fifteen. Also, I couldn't help feeling that she was a bit Mary Sue-ish. I say this without knowing anything about the author. Except what's on the back cover blurb. But I suspect that Anastasia Hopcus is as much a music snob as Phe. Even if Phe isn't a Mary Sue, she's a wee bit on the perfect side. If she has flaws we don't see them much. She's attractive, of average height, a good swimmer, a decent student, makes friends easily, sticks up for herself and others, and it all kind of got boring after a while. What foibles Phe has are cute. Like snorting when she laughs or blushing easily.
Zach, the hero and designated "hot guy" also suffers from the Perfect Syndrome. He's extremely good-looking, kind to his elders, superpowered and supersmart. He stands up for others and rescues kittens from rooftops. Okay, I made the last part up. But, seriously, when Zach's alter-ego (and enemy and cousin) showed up on the scene, I wanted him to be the hero because, hello? Dark chocolate-y bad guys are infinitely more interesting than vanilla-y boring wonder boys. Yawn. Unfortunately, the bad guys crosses too far into evil jerk territory to be an realistic foil for Zach. In fact, he's so perfect he doesn't really have any competition. You know, I think I was more disappointed in this book than I thought when I first started this review.
The thing that this book suffers from the most is that vanilla thing I mentioned. I don't really have a problem with vanilla, as a flavor, but I'd much rather eat dark chocolate. I didn't really care whether or not Phe and Zach got together. They were too cutesy together and everything was too easy. I was talking to a friend once about how a couple on a TV show I liked was sooo boring and she said that was probably the sign of a good relationship. If that's so, then Phe and Zach will, in all likelihood, spend an eternity together. ...more
The beautiful cover of What I Saw and How I Lied attracted me way back when it was first puThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
The beautiful cover of What I Saw and How I Lied attracted me way back when it was first published in hardcover, but it took me a long time to pick it up and read it. I would like to add that in addition to being a nice cover, the image of a girl putting on bright red lipstick turns out to be terribly relevant to the story. So, a nice pat on the back for Scholastic. The time period of the 1940s is one of my favorites, so I was looking forward to reading this book. Not many authors write about the post-war period, especially Teen authors, so this book was like a double treat. I expected to fully enjoy this book—after all, it won the National Book Award in 2008—and I’m sorry and, perhaps embarrassed to say that I didn’t. Now comes the hard part: explaining why.
The first reason that I did not like What I Saw is because I was hard pressed to find a character I enjoyed. It wasn’t Evie. It wasn’t her mother or her stepfather. It sure wasn’t Peter. It wasn’t Wally or even Grandma Glad. This, right off the bat, is a terrible way to read a novel. I thought, at first, that Evie was going to improve—this is, after all, a coming-of-age story. It’s the kind of book where you can expect to dislike some aspect of the character’s personality. The problem was, I never moved past my initial dislike. I didn’t like Evie at the end of the book any more than I liked her in the beginning. In fact, I thought she was kind of an idiot. For the next part of my review, I’m issuing a spoiler warning, so beware!
* * * * * SPOILER * * * * *
Judy Bundell paints (or tries to paint) Evie as a young, naïve character. There are things going on all around Evie that she fails to understand. For example, her mother is sleeping with the man that Evie has a crush on. Her stepfather is not as financially secure as he has led Evie to believe. There is Anti-Semitism in the world. Gah! The things that Evie doesn’t know could fill a book—oh, they have already, haven’t they?
Let me give you the general plot line: Evie is a fifteen-year-old girl from Queens. It’s 1947 and her stepfather has return from Europe and the war and started chain of stores that sell household appliances. One day Evie’s stepfather, Joe, decides to take the family to Florida for a late summer vacation. When they get there, Evie, her mother and Joe make friends with the Graysons, a stylish couple that owns a hotel in New York. They also meet young ex-GI Peter Coleridge, on whom Evie immediately develops a crush. Unbeknownst to Evie (who thinks that Peter returns the instant attraction) her mother and Peter begin an affair. Though Evie views her mother as cover for her daily car rides with Peter, she doesn’t realize that she is the one who is the third wheel. There is also the fact that there is some thinly veiled animosity between Peter and Joe. Finally, Evie is struggling with the fact that she has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful, glamorous mother. She is struggling to have the confidence in herself to become the woman she wishes she were.
I was fine with Evie struggling to find herself. I could understand her desire for a man who was a man and not a boy. What I didn’t buy was that she was too naïve to sense that there was something between Peter and her mother. I’m not saying that Evie should have been able to guess exactly what was going on, but there were times when I couldn’t believe that she didn’t sense any underlying currents. I guessed what was going to happen the first time Peter and Evie’s mother met, and I didn’t go out with them every day, day after day. It made me think not that Evie was young and naïve, but that she was as dense and perceptive as a brick.
So not only is Evie completely blind to the situation between her mother and Peter, she is also completely oblivious to the nature of the relationship between Peter and her stepfather. Evie knows that Joe doesn’t like Peter, but even though Peter drops some pretty heavy hints, she never even guesses at the nature of the conflict between the two. This bewildered me. As a teenager I was constantly making up stories. Maybe I’m alone here, but I think of teenagers as being ace at jumping to conclusions. But maybe Evie is the exception to the rule.
I also never felt like I was really immersed in the post-War period. Blundell definitely dropped hints and made chronologically relevant allusions to 1947, but I was never quite able to suspend my disbelief. It just felt like modern day to me, despite Evie’s reflections on Victory Gardens and rationing.
I also want to write about it Peter. I didn’t like him and, frankly, I couldn’t see why Evie did. Sure, he was “movie-star handsome”, but he was also a liar and a thief. Not to mention he was sleeping with her mother. Granted, Evie didn’t know any of this, but that’s partly my point. Evie never questions anything Peter says, even when he slips up. The author’s hints that Peter isn’t who he says he is are blatant enough for the readers to suspect him almost in the beginning. I remember being a teenager, and I remember being gullible, but Evie is more than gullible; she’s slow on the uptake. I also failed to understand her repeated insistence that Peter “was a good man”, even when all was finally revealed about him.
This review is getting pretty long, so I’m going to try to wrap this up. I can’t finish this review without touching on the main thrust of the novel—the lies that Evie tells. I can understand why she told them. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have lied if it meant saving my own parents, no matter what they did. But there was something off about Evie’s decision. The fact is that Evie’s lies drastically changed her relationship with her parents in a significant way. In the beginning of the novel, Evie is controlled by her mother and by Joe. At the end, due to the lies that she tells, she ends the novel as the person who now has the power. Evie seems to revel in this, which, in my opinion, puts a distasteful spin on her actions and makes them not as noble as they appear to be. ...more