No. Just no. Am I reading the same book as everyone else? This was awful across the board. A smatteringRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
No. Just no. Am I reading the same book as everyone else? This was awful across the board. A smattering of a (very) few good ideas, scant worldbuilding (and what is there is very unoriginal), and very poor execution coupled with two unlikeable protagonists make for a very unsatisfied Jessie. This is not going to be pretty. I'm pretty damn disappointed with this novel, as well as being supremely frustrated with it. I had passed this over several times on my frequent go-throughs of NetGalley - PNR/UF is far from my favorite genre as they tend to be predictable and all vaguely alike - and I should've stuck with my initial, quite wary, thoughts. Misled by all the 4 and 5-star reviews I'd then subsequently seen for this, I thought Blade Song might be the exception to my UF/PNR rule... and no. Absolutely not. Not by a long shot. The few, creative things I liked about it in the beginning pages were soon abandoned to the mess that is the rest of this cliched and poorly-executed book.
What I Liked:
-new kind of supernatural being - the aneira - warrior women with magical abilities, aka amazons -new ideas on typical vampire mythology -lose more and more of their soul as they age, feed on humans for blood, but also emotions they have lost as a result - a POC for a love-interest (too bad his actual personality is as nails on a chalkboard. For 250 pages.)
What I Hated Did Not Like:
Okay, seriously, I'll go through a few of my many, many issues with this book. It made me too angry to go through them all, and I have many other books I'd like to read, so here's the short rundown.
For a novel that started so strongly, Blade Song devolves fairly quickly. A lot of my problems with this first in a series stem from the weak main character of Kitasa herself. She's just so incredibly brainless, thoughtless, heedless. For the ENTIRE NOVEL. Also, for a half-amazon assassin, this is a pretty worthless fighter. She's always fainting, passing out, or just plain needing to be rescued. Where is the strong warrior character I was promised? Cause she for sure never showed up past chapter two. Instead, I got a weak-willed pushover who confuses a controlling asshole for a worthy love interest. Kit is much more a weak-willed damsel in distress waiting for her man to come save her. No. Just.. no. Especially when I was promised an active, capable heroine. Not cool.
Damon is an asshole, and I hated him from start to end. Though spared from his POVs (thank you!), his actions and disalogues with/to Kit show him to be a Bad Idea. Alpha males are far from my favorite type of love interest, and here is no exception. For about 90% of the novel, he's abusive, or controlling,or just plain rude. His abrupt switch from unagreeable aggressor to lovaaah is just too quick, foundation-less, and unbelievable. You don't get to "wring [Kit's] neck" black and blue, and then oh-so-love her a week later, with all forgiven. No. I'm sorry. I don't buy that. You don't spy on her texts and control her actions and then get to be the hero over and over. Bad Damon, very bad.
This was a big miss and a huge disappointment for me; I was prepared to and really wanted to love it, based on the reviews I read from trusted friends. It just wasn't meant to be, for me. The few good ideas were easily and quickly glossed over in favor of typical and standard genre fare - power games, a human(ish) woman caught between a powerful vampire and a powerful weresomething in an human/supernaturally incorporated city - and Blade Song never delivered on its promise of a fun, smart, deadly Amazon assassin. Simplistic, cliched, with flat and unlikeable characters, I won't be continuing this series with Night Blade, the second book due out sometime in the near future.
If you're morbidly curious or wish to try out Kit's special blend of stupid and reckless for yourself, the good news is that Blade Song will only set you back about $5 to read. Just be warned: may induce feelings of incredible frustration and severe disappointment....more
This is a creepy love-letter to Chicago, its history and to teens who love to hear things go bump in thRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
This is a creepy love-letter to Chicago, its history and to teens who love to hear things go bump in the night. Though I am slightly too old to be really creeped out by this collection of ten, often vastly different, stories of death and often weirdness (exception: Edgar's story was deceptively creepy and a nice ode to Edgar Allan Poe), I greatly enjoyed this unique frame for short stories. I'm not going to lie, the introduction/the first few pages and Mike's initial experience with a ghost reminded me greatly of Supernatural's pilot episode (woman in white appears mysteriously, "take me home"), but On The Day I Died quickly emerges as a fun, entertaining and weirdly awesome combination of horror and the supernatural; one of Candace Fleming's own unique invention.
From tales of "grow your own aliens" (David, 1941 - 1956) to a more modern form of horror (neglect and abuse - Tracy 1959-1974) the ghosts of each child in White Cemetery each set out to tell their individual tales of woe to Mike, an unwitting participant in this yearly tradition. Though On The Day I Died focuses more on humor, the supernatural, creative forms of evil, etc. than on individual characterization for each ghost, the wide variety of the stories and their respective nature of death is more than enough to involve readers of all ages. Though this book's setting and each child is centered around Chicago, the various nods to other cultures (East Indian fakirs and a Sumerian death chant!) add a nice variety to several of the stories.
The shifts from Mike's POV (third-person omniscient) to the ghosts (told in first person) are not my favorite, but it works here. This is a deftly-handled short story collection, and if some stories (Lily [1982-1999], Scott [1995-2012]) lack the punch of others (Edgar [1853-1870], Evelyn [1877-1893], Rich [1965-1981]), all are still fun, creative and very enjoyable to read. ...more
Full disclosure: I am GoodReads/Twitter friends with Victoria and she sent me this novel in exchange foRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Full disclosure: I am GoodReads/Twitter friends with Victoria and she sent me this novel in exchange for a review. However much I like her (and that is very much!), this did not affect my impression of the novel nor my review for it.
Witchstruck is the addicting and fast-paced tale of Meg Lytton, a burgeoning witch of substantial ability during one of the worst times and places to be such a one -- 1554 England, under the super Catholic reign of Queen Mary I. A lively jaunt into an alternate history of Old Blighty, complete with several famous historical characters and cameos (John Dee! Philip of Spain!), this first-in-a-series and detailed read is sure to sate the appetites of Tudorphiles of all ages. Fans looking for a new, fresh spin on a favorite era have no further to look than this "magick" infused offering from Victoria Lamb. Supernatural historical fiction is fast emerging as a favorite genre of mine, and this one particularly will be very memorable long after I've read more.
There's a lot to love in these nearly 370 pages of magick, witchfinders, *really* forbidden love, and betrayal. Protagonist and narrator Meg is one of those things. She is a great main character from the get-go; her presentation is nicely developed and well rounded throughout the duration of the novel. Meg grows, learns, and her characterization is deftly handled. This is a girl who manages to be smart, fallible, realistic, and proactive. Meg may stumble and make (big! calamitous!) mistakes, but one thing you cannot accuse this headstrong witch of being is passive. I love a heroine who can (and like here) does rescue herself, and Meg is frequently the hero of the novel.
I love when historical fiction authors aren't afraid to mix things up and bring new ideas to the fore. Count Victoria Lamb among those not afraid to veer off the beaten path. Not only is there a moderate magic aspect to Witchstruck, other areas are just as unique, and engaging, as well. I've read very few Tudor-set novels that have a non-English (Irish/Scottish don't count!) love interest, but this is one of them! While I do think that Alejandro (a Spanish priest-in-training no less!) and Meg's connection felt a bit premature and rushed the first quarter, each character grows quite naturally into their very forbidden and illicit attraction to one another. I appreciate how sparingly the romance aspect is used in the novel - it's clear plot point between Meg and Alejandro, but it doesn't choke or overwhelm up the real storyline of the novel in unwanted angst and melodrama.
Alejandro, Meg, and especially Elizabeth, the future Queen, in her not-often-enough appearances, all spring to life under Lamb's talented pen. These are well-rendered versions of historical and fictional characters, ones that made me care about them and invest in their story early on. A diverse and distinctive cast are one of the best things about Witchstruck, the fast pacing, the unforeseen twists and turns -- all add up to a very readable and very engrossing novel. I did feel that certain ideas and phrases were a bit repetitive, but Victoria Lamb moves her plot forward quickly, with a dab hand for evoking a realistic, easily-imagined setting for her characters to inhabit.
This was one novel that I wished was even longer! I could've happily kept reading Witchstruck for another 100, 150, 200 pages. It's just so readable - I was done with Meg and her story much faster than I was ready for. What is there is more than enough to satisfy readers - the ending shown felt entirely appropriate and concluded the main plotline of book one in the series, despite the open-ended nature of how things fell out. Cliffhanger or no, I would've NEED book two quite desperately now. The wait for the anticipated sequel is far too long - the touch of foreshadowing (the rat?! MD?!) just added more impetus to my need to see what happens next for Meg and Elizabeth at Court.
I read a lot of Tudor historical fiction - that era/family is one of my long-standing historical passions - and this is a neat and well-handled addition to my "best of" pile. While some books pick sides and favorites (Mary or Elizabeth), this one will continue to stand out among the others for its seamless incorporation of the supernatural, slight as though that may be, and for the strong, active, and well-rounded heroine. Witchstruck is undoubtedly a promising first addition to the series Victoria Lamb is cooking up and I'm eagerly awaiting the events of round two. ...more
A thoroughly satisfying mix of history, the paranormal, with a dash of romance to flavor, The Shadowy Horses does not disappoint. A bit more romance-orientated than my previous read by this author (Mariana), I can still easily endorse Susanna Kearsley as fast becoming one of my favorite authors; one that is adept at creating a wide array of individual characters, as well as intricately setting up an atmospheric read. She delivers every time, and this is no exception. If I was impressed after reading Mariana, I am entering full-on fan mode after finishing this offering from Kearsley in less than a day. Taking on the well-known mystery and search for the Roman Ninth Legion in Scotland, I was hooked early on. I simply could not put The Shadowy Horses down, but was conversely reluctant to finish once I was firmly engrossed in the novel.
Kearlsey's descriptive (and it is very descriptive - from the countryside to the "not-posh" sitting room, Kearlsey crafts an easily imagined setting) and detailed style is present and used with a dab hand from the first chapter, to the benefit of both the locale and for the wide array of characters on the page. Both suspenseful and engrossing, each aspect of the novel, from the mystery to the romance to the supernatural, were all summarily well-handled and solid, with none detracting from the streamlined plot. These were characters who came alive for me as a reader, all with varying degress of characterization, as well as ones who made me care about each of them. This is a dynamic cast, with each character fully distinct, and, by and large, even with psychometric/psychic Robbie, one that doesn't strain credulity or irritate the reader. I do wish there had just slightly more of an antagonistic presence for most of the novel, but the minor conflicts and issues that were there, were enough to create increasing tension throughout the story.
The first person POV of protagonist Verity Grey makes it easy to root for her through her struggles to accept what is going on in Eyemouth; her inner monologue reinforces the first impression of an impulsive, smart, and very independent woman who can more than handle herself. The strength of the novel, much like with Mariana, lies with main character Verity. The other elements of the novel are well-done and unique, but it is Verity who takes the cake (with some help from an accent Scotsman with a love of history!), and who will stick out in my memory. I appreciated the restraint with which the author took to the romance - it's a large part of the novel, but it doesn't drown the plot in melodrama or too much of a love triangle.
The final conflict (and revelation of the antagonist) was a bit dry (ha!), but a nicely rounded denouement makes up for that slight misstep. Though Mariana will remain my favorite Kearsley (for now!), I loved The Shadowy Horses and think that this is an author that continues to impress and grow as a writer. This is an author who is very talented with crafting believable characters, with creating an atmospheric setting, and with making the past come to life. Well done and I can't wait for my next Kearsley read!...more
I think it's fair to say I hated this book. A lot. For a variety of reasons.
High hopes and huge disappointments - What are my two key emotions for this odd, disjointed and often off-putting supernatural endeavor called Drain You, Alex? It all sounds so good at first glance - a unique, quirky protagonist, evil vampires, a humorous and dry tone - but none, none of that lives up to expectations. The title is the most appropriate thing about the whole book: I felt the will to read drain out of me the more pages I turned. The "humor" here wasn't funny, the main character is one of the most unlikeable people I've ever had the misfortune to have to read about, there was no real presence of any tension in the novel, and the "plot" is MIA for the majority of the novel. It's a mess, and not a fun one.
If you don't like main character Quinlan, chances are high you are not going to like the rest of what Drain You has to offer. I hated Quinn. Hated, hated, hated, like I haven't disliked a fictional being in a loooong, long time. She's self-centered, selfish, rude, annoying, stupid, ungrateful, unthinking... I could go on and on with what's wrong with Quinn and her "characterization". Pages of my reading notes for this book are littered with things like: "WHAT did she just say?" "Why does she treat everyone around her like shit?" "Why am I supposed to care for a character that doesn't have the decency to warn other people when she is putting their lives and their entire families' lives!, in mortal danger?
And what else do I hate in YA novels besides dumb, superficial female protagonists? Instalove, and with a murderous, mysterious vampire! (How original! I've never read anotherYA paranormal book/series like that!) Be warned: Drain You has that hackneyed romantic element in spades. Quinn is astonishingly like the hated Bella in regards to her undead lover: they both consider their lives as "meaningless" when separated from their vampire boyfriends (in Quinn's case this is after knowing James less than three weeks' time. And her life is "meaningless" without him? GET A GRIP), they both fail to understand the danger of what they're involved in, they're both flat and dull girls who don't really know what they're getting into. Quinn is Bella - just with a "punk" twist and a much more liberal wardrobe. She even has the normal human boys that just can't help but fall in love with her! (and that she summarily rejects, uses, rejects, and then uses again. It's gross.)
Despite the (or maybe as a direct result of) complete lack of tension or suspense in the novel, I was majorly, majorly underwhelmed by both the final conflict and the denouement shown here. Maybe that's a direct result of the lack of plot, or antagonist presence but the end of the novel is flatter than the cardboard Quinn was made from. Either/or, it could go both ways because really neither the plot nor the villains play much into the storyline. The bulk of this disjointed, choppy narrative is devoted purely to all angst and emo and melodrama about how lonely and bored and cool poor little Quinn is, when really all she is is insufferable. Even when she is the direct cause of ALL THE PROBLEMS she faces with Morgan, Naomi. Whit and James, Quinn feels the most for...herself, takes no responsibility or ownership over the danger she puts everyone in. Not once. Fuck, I hated this character. GTFO.
Drain You was an entirely underwhelming disappointment, one I wish I had DNF'd halfway through. If I could tell past-Jessie "it doesn't get any better, any funnier, any cleverer" I would've set this down after Quinn decides two stalker-y nightwalks with a creepy, blood-covered boy constitute the beginning of a good relationship. No. Just no. Lots of potential, extremely poor execution is the final verdict on the mess that is Drain You.
I enjoyed this novel, but those three-and-a-half out of five stars pained me to assign. ReaRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
3.5 out of 5
I enjoyed this novel, but those three-and-a-half out of five stars pained me to assign. Really pained me. I had started this betting myself that it could only improve on how much I loved Transcendence. For as much fun and as entertaining as this novel manages to be, it is a pale shadow of the sheer awesome that was the first book. A lot of what made the latter different among YA is happily still there: a focus on Egyptian mythology, reincarnation as a means to immortality, and a strong, smart female protagonist. Unfortunately, unlike its predecessor, Intuition falls prey to a lot of YA tropes that keep it from being a better novel. A distinct concentration on the romance to the detriment of an actual plot, a love triangle, and a somewhat rushed final conflict and resolution kept Intuition from the level previously seen in this series.
C.J. Omololu has a lot of talent for writing likeable characters, but it hurts the novel when the writing is concerned more with depicting a love triangle rather than in further developing and defining her cast of characters as individuals. I will always appreciate actual conflict more than romantic drama. Cole, the main character and first person narrator, comes off a lot less capable and interesting than she did in the first book. I can lay this solidly on the conflict she engages with most: which boy she wants to date. There are other conflicts at play in the novel, but her main struggle is between her past love from another life and the one she has found in her current one. If the author had chosen to showcase Cole's struggles to streamline her memories and past lives within her current one more, or even on her newfound abilities - well, let's say this would be a different review.
The antagonists of the book are also lacking in both dimension and presentation. The inclusion of the villain from the first book, Veronique, came off as a minor plot point. Subsequently, the later reveal of the actual antagonist was rather flat and rushed, compared with the time it took to get Cole to that point. It just didn't play well within the scope of the novel; after so much time, so many pages on Cole's wrestling with her love life, the sudden turnabout to real plot felt shallow and hollow. The books ties up the ends pretty nicely and satisfactorily while still leaving an open door for a further sequel.
For all that I had some misgivings, Intuition is a fast and involving read. The ideas and mythologies I loved so much from before are still in evidence and Omololu expands the worldbuilding more. The Ahket, The Sekhem, the Khered - all are explained and detailed more, but never in a way that feels like an infodump. If you don't remember what the terms and ideas are from the first book, I suggest you reacquaint yourself before trying this one. The author doesn't rehash too much from what happened or was explained before, so a good memory or a refresher is a good idea before diving in.
I didn't love this as much as I had hoped and wanted to, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a good time while reading Intuition. What Omololu does well, she does really really well. Her characters are likeable, her ideas unique, and her writing simple but effective. This may suffer a bit from sequel syndrome, but that doesn't mean I won't be eagerly anticipating any sequels or other novels the author will write. ...more
Whew - Susan Dennard neatly avoids Sequel Syndrome with her second novel. I had a lot of fun with this, from beginning to end. I may review it closerWhew - Susan Dennard neatly avoids Sequel Syndrome with her second novel. I had a lot of fun with this, from beginning to end. I may review it closer to the release date, but if you were a fan of Something Strange and Deadly, chances are this sequel won't disappoint.
Also: many many thanks to the lovely Flannery for sending me her ARC. She is the best <3...more
Clever use of mythology, though the plot itself is fairly generic for the YA market. An interesting idea, and the Maori lore is truly the highpoint ofClever use of mythology, though the plot itself is fairly generic for the YA market. An interesting idea, and the Maori lore is truly the highpoint of the entire novel....more