Disappointment. My hopes for this one were in no way realized. Tried too hard to live up to encomium of "Jane Austen with magic." Loses sight of whatDisappointment. My hopes for this one were in no way realized. Tried too hard to live up to encomium of "Jane Austen with magic." Loses sight of what actually made JA such a wonderful, lasting author....more
Not my favorite Heyer. There are two love stories (and four characters) that would have been better merged into one (with only two characters). I do lNot my favorite Heyer. There are two love stories (and four characters) that would have been better merged into one (with only two characters). I do like it when traditional characters are made to look ridiculous...but their stade counterparts were a little too stodgy for my taste....more
I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for inforThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for information about the third book in Gemma Halliday’s delightful Deadly Cool series. Her name popped up as the coauthor of this book, which is a complete fallacy. Halliday didn’t co-write I Spy Dead People, she published it. This is, possibly, a cheap gimmick, but one I have no objection to. I probably wouldn’t have purchased I Spy Dead People if Halliday’s name hadn’t been associated with it, and that would have been a shame. It’s a fun teen mystery with a dash of paranormal.
I Spy Dead People introduces us to teen sleuth Piper Grimaldi, a girl inspired by strong heroines like Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Kind of dated for a 15 year old at this point, but I’m not complaining.) Piper and her father just moved (for the zillionth time) to a neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. Such is Piper’s life; her dad writes True Crime and every year they have to follow a new story so her father can write a new book. Piper’s sick of moving (it’s hell on her social life) and hopes Texas will stick. Especially when she meets a potential best friend and–even better–a potential love interest.
Though the love interest gets mentioned in the blurb, the romance in this one is scanty at best. In fact, I’m not even rooting for the obvious guy. I prefer the guy whom Piper firsts describes as kind of a skeezeball. (I liked him from the start, probably because of the fedora. I don’t care what Piper says, they are cool!) Piper spends most of the book trying to solve the mystery of her next door neighbor’s murder. She doesn’t have much time for romance. Her determination to solve the crime is fun and funny and, thankfully realistic. As a 15 year old, Piper’s scope is limited. There’s only so much she can discover with her limited resources and sometimes her investigation looks a lot more like snooping. Still, you gotta appreciate that she gets the job done, even when it’s at risk to her own life.
About Piper’s supernatural ability, I’ll say little. I don’t know if it’s spoilery to reveal, so I’ll just say that it adds a degree of interest that I really liked. I look forward to learning more about her powers as the series progresses. I still have a lot of questions, but I look forward to them being answered. Yes, I’ll definitely be reading book two. In fact, I can’t wait for it to come out. Jennifer Fischetto has written a delightful teen mystery and created a fun new heroine. I think Piper and I are going to be new best friends....more
Over and over I’ve mentioned my craving for teen mysteries, so I won’t belabor the point again. NeedlessThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Over and over I’ve mentioned my craving for teen mysteries, so I won’t belabor the point again. Needless to say, I snapped up A Girl Named Digit the moment I saw it at my favorite local independent bookstore (say that three times fast!). That said, I’ve had the attention span of a gnat lately, so my reading of Digit was slow as molasses. I picked it up and put it down without regard to how much I was enjoying it.
So, what’s the story? Farrah (aka Digit) lives in LA with her actor mom, her professor father and a younger brother. She’s happy living in the traffic capital of the world because it offers plenty of opportunity for her to read her beloved bumper stickers. Farrah’s biggest secret is that her interest in numbers borders on the obsessive (okay, maybe that’s a understatement). The pressure to fit in has led her to conceal her talents. She’s so perfected the guise of a self-absorbed teenager that she runs with some of the most popular girls in her school.
Then she cracks a terrorist cell’s code and attracts the attention of the FBI. Luckily for Farrah, the agent that gets the case is a boy genius, cute and not much older than her. Unluckily for Farrah, her life is danger. A few days kept in close confinement gives Farrah and Special Agent John Bennett time to bond and to get closer to solving the case.
A Girl Named Digit was a fun read. Everything, down to the chapter titles, is infused with the kind of humor I like best. Digit’s internal monologue is a hoot. She sees the world through a unique lens and since the story is told from her perspective, we’re privvy to it. It’s just too bad that, despite all that humor, I never really connected to Farrah. I like characters that use humor to deflect, but only if I’m also allowed glimpses of the deeper emotions behind the humor. Farrah was a little too glib and her arc a little too shallow for me to be invested in her character. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything unlikeable about Farrah. I’d be happy to while away some time with her, but I won’t be calling her if I’m looking for a more meaningful connection.
So, while I liked Farrah and was interested to see how her romance with John (The Prodigy FBI Agent) would play out, I felt a lack of something while reading Digit. It’s hard to evaluate the books that are a little bit better than good but still not great. A Girl Named Digit was middle of the road, but a decently paved one with those little reflector thingies in the center. I would recommend if someone asked me if I knew of any books about teenage math geniuses, but it won’t be making my Top Teen Mysteries list anytime soon....more
Narrator Review: Marisa Calin is a perfect fit for Gwen. Her intonation is a great pairing with Gwen’s slThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Narrator Review: Marisa Calin is a perfect fit for Gwen. Her intonation is a great pairing with Gwen’s slightly irreverent, modern teenager narrative. However, while I do think she did a nice job, Calin’s performance doesn’t make or break the novel for me. Calin’s narrative style is enjoyable without being transcendent. I’d have been just as happy to read the physical version.
Book Review: It was conceit that led me to read Ruby Red when it came out three years ago. As you may know, I’m attracted to novels that are lucky enough to share my awesome name, whether in title or character name. I was also influenced by Jenny’s (Supernatural Snark) positive review, so much so that I ended up buying the hardcover as a birthday present for myself and was entirely, pleasantly surprised.
The Ruby Red books are lighter fare. If you’re looking for something to angst over and you love it when tragedy throws a malicious wrench in the romance, look elsewhere. But if you like romantic comedy (or you’ve just sobbed your heart out and need to give your tear ducts a break), I highly recommend this trilogy. And now that all three volumes have (finally!) been published in the states, you’re all set for a marathon! Side gripe: even though these books have been out in Germany for FOREVER, the U.S. publishers decided to dole out each volume in yearly installments. If you thought waiting for each successive Harry Potter book was hell, just imagine how much worse it would have been if you could have read books one through seven all at once if only you’d mastered the Greek language. Just saying.
What makes this series for me is the cast of characters. Of more importance to me was Gwen’s relationship with her best friend Lesley and the gargoyle/demon Xemerius. Speaking of Xemerius, I really, really wish I had a supernatural companion. (If only my cat would start talking and, you know, return my affection. I could send her out on scouting missions and she could spy on people for me! I know, I know–I should have gotten a dog.)
The relationship I was least invested in was Gwen’s with Gideon. I was rooting for them to get a happy ending, but wasn’t viscerally connected to the romance. This may have been due to Gideon’s hot-and-cold attitude towards Gwen during books one and two, but I pretty much guessed what was going on with him and didn’t get too worked up about his jerkiness. I knew there had to be a Reason and I wasn’t wrong. I’ll admit, though, that the abrupt shift from “I must push you away because I love you and this is the only way to save you” to “I love you, let’s be together” was a bit abrupt. But, like I said, it wasn’t the most important part of the novel for me so I was willing to overlook it.
Plot-wise, there weren’t any surprises in this novel. I don’t know if I’m incredibly astute or if we were meant to know, but this third installment wasn’t about revelations to the readers, but to the characters. I’ve got to give props to Kerstin Geir for making me care enough about the characters to stick around long enough to see how they’d react to information I already knew. Most of the time, when this happens, I groan and grumble and wonder how they can be so stupid that they don’t already know. I mean, come on!
Before I finish up, a few words on the time travel aspect of the Ruby Red Trilogy. I’m not generally a big fan of time travel books, but this series played the time travel just right. There are lots of rules, regulations and period-appropriate clothing. I’d like to spend five minutes in Madame Rossini’s closet. Hilariously (to me, anyway), Gwen often spends her daily time travels sleeping or studying. She has very little control over her official time travels and is ordered around without explanation. The time travel is incidental to the major conflict. It’s pretty dressing and maybe a little bit of sleight of hand and I like it that way.
Emerald Green‘s ending is at once satisfying and a little silly. Everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow. The conclusion doesn’t bear scrutiny, but I liked how happy it was. It may not be realistic, but sometimes I don’t want reality. Occasionally, I prefer to wallow in the fantasy of happily ever after. It gives me an inner glow. I can’t recommend this series highly enough for someone looking for a pick-me-up read....more
I’ve heard absolutely nothing about this book. I haven’t seen it featured on any blogs, nor read any reviThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’ve heard absolutely nothing about this book. I haven’t seen it featured on any blogs, nor read any reviews (that I recall). Also, I haven’t read The Gallagher Girls books, so the comparison in the description means nothing to me. This was kind of refreshing. I read this book because it sounded interesting and that was all. The end result was middling. Young, Gifted and Dead wasn’t the hidden gem I want every book to be, but I’ll definitely be reading book two. I’ve already checked to make sure it’s not on NetGalley. I don’t want to miss it if it gets added.
The description sets up the story for the reader and the book itself jumps right in. Lily’s death is no spoiler because it happens right away. But don’t worry! Alyssa’s eidetic memory (Cam Jansen anyone? Anyone?) allows the narrative to dip back in time whenever necessary. If there’s a detail that needs to be pulled, given time, it’ll be accessed. Which–bam!–you’ve got a great setup for a sleuth. Problem is, it’s not such a great technique for making me care about Lily’s death. I mean, yes, untimely death is tragic. Lucy Carver made me understand that even if she didn’t make me feel it.
I felt like all the relationships in this book were more tell than show, but that may have been because I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Alyssa felt more like a tool for the readers to use to solve the mystery and my impression of Lily and Paige (Alyssa’s two closest friends) was of people who kept their distance. Maybe it’s a British thing? The best relationship in the book was Alyssa’s with Jack. The couple gets off to a rocky start but I appreciated that, once they decided to be together, they were together. Even if I felt they delved into “I love you” territory too quickly, there wasn’t a protracted, “I love you but I can’t be with you” plot. It’s refreshing to see teen fiction (any fiction, really) setting aside the will they/won’t they stuff in favor of the concept that relationships involve work, trust and communication. You know, the stuff you have to face once you get past the initial, “Wow, you’re cute!” stage.
If I found the interpersonal relationships a bit lacking, that’s okay, because Young, Gifted and Dead is more about the mystery, anyway. I liked how events unfolded slowly, with real investigation and few leaps in logic. Alyssa’s photographic memory came in useful more than once and it’s used well. Just because Alyssa can remember everything, down to the smallest details, doesn’t make the investigation easy, though. She still needs to connect the dots, draw conclusions and talk to people. It takes her a while to solve the case, but it’s done with old-fashioned grunt work.
I have to say, though, that the process was better than the resolution of the mystery. Not because it didn’t make sense, but because it felt impersonal somehow, and didn’t jive with Lily’s backstory. I can’t be more explicit without offering spoilers, but I was disappointed when the last secret was revealed. Still, I’m eager to revisit St. Jude’s Academy. I liked the minor characters best, so I’m hoping to see more of them in future books. And who knows–maybe Alyssa and Jack will grow on me....more
’m gonna be honest: This one was too much for me. In fact, I had to stop reading halfway through becauseThis weeview was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
’m gonna be honest: This one was too much for me. In fact, I had to stop reading halfway through because it was just so sad. And, since this is a Christmas story, I’m going to count the intense pain of Snow-Kissed against it. I want heart-warming at holiday time, not heart-wrenching. So, while I found Snow-Kissed to be an incredibly true and raw story, I can’t say that I enjoyed it.
My problems with this novella numbered two, and both were matters of personal preference. I’m not much for tragedy, anymore. (This strikes me as funny because, in my preteen years, I wasn’t satisfied with a book unless at least one person died. Do we all have that phase?). I’m all for bookish angst as long as the end is rewarding, which actually describes Snow-Kissed, but Florand hit a nerve and I Just Couldn’t Take It. I set the story aside until after Christmas.
The incredibly intense pain was one element of the story that was hard for me and the other was the number of sex scenes. Now, again, I’m not saying that they weren’t well-written (or quite, er, steamy), but they were numerous.The sex is not gratuitous by any means. In fact, it’s important to the story of Kurt and Kai’s pain and healing in ways I can’t verbalize. However–at one point, I thought, God, I hope they don’t have sex again andpleasepleasepleasenotthesnow.
Several times, I’ve recommended Laura Florand’s work to friends and family, but I don’t think I’ll be doing the same with Snow-Kissed. As a matter of personal preference, I think I’ll stick to lighter fare....more
While I did enjoy this, it's definitely not my favorite Heyer Regency. I'm not even sure I would recommend it to other Heyer fans. I'll admit that theWhile I did enjoy this, it's definitely not my favorite Heyer Regency. I'm not even sure I would recommend it to other Heyer fans. I'll admit that the meek, diminutive duke doesn't really appeal to me as a character. The Duke of Sale reads more like a Georgette Heyer heroine than a hero, what with all the foibles, escapades and the large, dashing, saturnine captain of the lifeguards who rushes off to save him.
However, there's plenty of humor to be had, a dash of romance (so long as you hang on to the bitter end) and Heyer's usual scrupulous attention to historical detail. It's a coming-of-age story, but a first world, aristocratic one. Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a wealthy and powerful duke! They are many, apparently....more
Lately, I’ve been really enjoying computer geek stories (maybe it’s all the episodes of The Big BangThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Lately, I’ve been really enjoying computer geek stories (maybe it’s all the episodes of The Big Bang Theory that I’ve been watching lately), so The Boyfriend App was one of those books that came along at the right time. But, basically, The Boyfriend App is a romantic comedy in disguise–and who doesn’t love a romantic comedy? Alright–fine! Half the population. Whatever. I’m well-aware that my readership is mostly female, though, so our lesser halves don’t count at the moment. Just kidding. Sort of.
The Boyfriend App is a fizzy bellini of a book. It’s sweet, indulgent and makes you feel giggly and good. They really nailed it with the cover. Sure, there’s a technological twist, but there’s no technospeak to, er, speak of. I’m completely computer illiterate (this is only a small exaggeration), but I understood things as Audrey explained them. Katie Sise does a fabulous job of making the reader believe that Audrey knows what she’s talking about without getting too complicated for the less technically-minded among us. I actually understood an episode of The Big Bang Theory better because of The Boyfriend App. I don’t know if that’s high praise, but it is a fact.
The strength of this novel isn’t in the mystery (it was kind of eye-rolling, to be honest), or the technological twists, but in the characters. There are a lot of them–which I don’t usually like–but each one is interesting and individual. Also, Audrey’s cousin, Lindsey, is a fashion blogger and that gives us a little behind-the-scenes peek into the blogging world we spend so much time inhabiting. That was really fun. The villain is villainous, but not without positive attributes (none that make her actions forgivable, but at least there’s dimension).
The weakest part of the novel was the romance. I liked the love interest, but we didn’t get to spend much time with him. Their breezy courtship fit with the pace and tone of the novel, but failed to add any depth. Surprisingly, that was okay with me because I liked The Boyfriend App for what it was–a light, fun read. Like when a coworker brings in a loaf of zucchini bread to share among the staff. You weren’t expecting it and it is very nice surprise but it’s no chocolate cake....more
I don’t usually go in for dragon stories–I have a feeling these are going to be famous last words–but I’mThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I don’t usually go in for dragon stories–I have a feeling these are going to be famous last words–but I’m familiar with Shana Abe’s Drakon books. They–or, rather, Shana–have been recommended to me since I’m a fan of alpha heroes. So, when I heard that Shana Abe was going to write a young adult novel, I automatically added it to my TBR. I was particularly excited about it because I’ve had such a bad run with YA historicals and historical fantasies. I knew, from having read The Smoke Thief, that I could expect an enjoyable read.
What I did not expect was to love it. I got a third of the way through and I was already on the internet making sure it was going to be a series. Here, finally, was a novel that worked as a historical and a fantasy both, with a heroine who didn’t feel transported from the 21st Century United States. Specifically, an impoverished heroine who wasn’t about to risk her entire future by having a smart mouth, or by spouting radical opinions that hadn’t even been thought of in her era. More on this another time–Small and I have had numerous discussions about this.
I think that Lora was the first heroine that I’ve really like in a long time. She’s kinda classy. I liked that she knew when to stand up for herself and when to toe the line. I also love that, while there were two potential romantic leads, it becomes clear pretty early on, which boy is the object of Lora’s affections. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t rooting for the other guy…I totally am, and I still think there’s hope…but I liked that Lora wasn’t all, “I love him. NO! I love him.” She has a genuine connection with both of them, and I think all of the relationships in the novel will evolve naturally–just like in real life!
If I had one complaint–and it certainly wasn’t the gorgeous, detailed setting!–it was that I think Shana Abe presumed a little too much on her previous readership. Since it’s been so long since I read The Smoke Thief, I can’t really lay claim to any knowledge of the Drakon folklore, and I don’t count myself as a loyal follower. I had to double check that “Rue” was a character I’d met before (she’s the heroine of The Smoke Thief), and certain details scratched at my mind like I should have recalled them. Sadly, I didn’t. Instead of frustrating me, however, not knowing these details made me really excited about going back and reading Abe’s Drakon books. I’ve left them unfinished for far too long!
If you haven’t already read The Sweetest Dark, you should. It will satisfy you to the last page, even as it leaves you eager for more of its wonderfulness....more
I've only seen the movie, but this struck me as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-light. Which worked for me, as I still wish I could forget I ever saw theI've only seen the movie, but this struck me as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-light. Which worked for me, as I still wish I could forget I ever saw the movie in the first place. It was a quick listen with mile a minute action. It doesn't stand on its own very well, at least in terms of characterization. It definitely needs the next book in the series to round things out. ...more
The Distance Between Us is the perfect summer read. Okay, maybe not the perfect one—there’s no armchair tThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
The Distance Between Us is the perfect summer read. Okay, maybe not the perfect one—there’s no armchair travel to be had here—but the content is just right. It’s girl meets boy with a liberal dose of humor coated in characterization. Side note: Caymen’s name did not make me think of the Cayman Islands (and is never really explained), but of the caiman, that smaller cousin of the alligator.
Though the driving force of the story is Caymen’s mother’s ongoing prejudice against the wealthy, it really takes a back seat to the romance. Caymen’s mother runs a doll store that acts as both their home and their only source of revenue. It’s also how Caymen and her love interest, Xander, meet. It’s sarcasm at first sight. Despite her mother’s lifelong warnings against rich boys who will use and discard poor girls like her, Xander worms his way into Caymen’s life. Better, he actually courts her—which is an old-fashioned way of putting it, maybe, but it’s also apt.
Caymen is an instantly relatable character. Yes, she’s sarcastic, but she doesn’t alienate people with her sarcasm. I think she and I would really get along, which is always a good sign in a character. Better, I think she’d make me laugh and that’s just about my favorite trait in a human being ever. Snark doesn’t define Caymen, though, which is honestly refreshing. Authors tend to overdo sarcastic heroines, but West gets it just right. Caymen uses humor to defuse serious situations, but she genuinely cares about the people in her life and struggles to find the best way to support her mother without being eye-rollingly self-sacrificing. Xander, in turn, is a great foil for Caymen. He’s patient, he doesn’t rush her and he encourages her to talk rather than brush things off with her patented dry humor.
Another thing I really enjoyed about The Distance Between Us is that it doesn’t fall into the traps that come standard to the rich boy/poor girl story. There were a lot of moments in the story where I was prepared to groan at the cliché I thought was coming only to be pleasantly surprised when West took the situation in a slightly different direction. The only part of the book that failed to please was the ending, which felt a little bit rushed and incomplete. The romance between Caymen and Xander comes full circle, but the plots with Caymen, her mother, their financial worries and her mother’s past gets short shrift. I needed more resolution; especially considering that Caymen’s grandparents disowned their daughter when they found out she was pregnant.
I read The Distance Between Us in a day and even stayed up late to finish it, which—since I’m an old fogey, now—I don’t often do anymore. The Distance Between Us is a snappy read. That’s what makes it perfect for summer: the feeling that you could finish it during one long, happy day at the beach or by the pool. I’ll be digging my copy of Pivot Point out of my TBR pile, but I sincerely hope Kasie West writes something else in this genre—I can’t wait to gobble that up, too!...more