No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
This review is being written just after I finished the second book in this trilogy, Now I Rise, which is all that is available to me as of this date.
I am enjoying this series deeply. I keep pausing to wonder if this is the same Kiersten White who wrote Paranormalcy, but it totally looks that way.
These books are rich and detailed. I'll admit that my historical knowledge of the time and places these books take place is somewhat lacking, but now I've been reading more about it because it is just so interesting. The characters are developed, flawed, trying to be better people and finding it very difficult. Everyone has motivations for inexcusable actions that make those actions seem justifyable. Everyone is trying to work for the greater good as each person sees it, but in doing so, they commit some truely terrible acts. They love and hate and generally have incredibly complicated relationships like real people- well, like real people growing up in the time, place, and positions they all grew up in. They struggle with internal conflicts that tear them apart as much as the fighting, killing, and political intrigue. I've also been impressed with the development of the world. I suspect I'm not the only one who thought something like "The capital of the Ottoman empire was where exactly?", and the author does a fantastic job of getting us to understand the land, the people, and the political situations. We even get some insight into the lives of ordinary people of the time rather than just the nobles and royalty, though the main characters are all from the upper eschelons.
I love the protagonists, though I could do without the Sultan. I want happy endings for Lada and Radu, but, at the end of the second book, I'm not really seeing a way for that to happen. I am still holding out hope, though, for both of them.
The narration was something of a problem for me in the very beginning. The narrator's voice just seemed to drag out the less than entirely exciting "I was born..." part of the book. Now, though, I'm even enjoying the narration.
I can't wait for the last book in the series.
Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes. Vigilantes. Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilites to make Los Angeles a better place. Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Despite the best efforts of the superheroes, the police, and the military, the hungry corpses rose up and overwhelmed the country. The population was decimated, heroes fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland like so many others.
So I bought this book on sale (which I almost always end up regretting, but can't seem to stop myself from doing) despite the fact that it looked, well, kind of ridiculous, even for me. The reviews and ratings were, generally, pretty good, so I thought it might be worth the risk. But, remember, 50 Shades of Grey was a best seller...
So here it is: This book is a terrible, awful, no-good, horrible, very bad book. I'll try to say why without spoilers.
First, the characters are two-dementional. Well, no, the male characters have some depth and development, but the female characters are cardboard figures in one of two varieties. They have boobs and an uncontrollable need to scream and whine or they are unbelievably beautiful (you guessed it also with great boobs) and brilliant and kick ass and all-around wet-dreams rather than actual women. All of them, of course, need to be sexed, just sitting around waiting for some guy to turn them into doe-eyed puddles of mush so they can have meaning in their lives beyond saving the world.
Second, the plot. This isn't even about the mix of superheeroes and zombies. I'm willing to suspend disbelief. But within that, you should make things believable. You have indestructible superheroes who cannot be affected by the zombieism and can't be killed... Great, let's send them out with totally normal people to do incredibly dangerous supply runs. Your fearless leader is a supergenius with heretofore unimagined tactical brilliance and a ruthless willingness to use it, sure, of course she'd let the superhero with the capacity to destroy hundreds of zombies a minute serve as a flood light while people die because- I swear, I'm not making this up- it's "creepy" when he kills them. You know you have one monster who must be destroyed in order to render the entire assault winnable- be sure to put your best people elsewhere. Got a fire-proof villain? Put your people out there with him and then throw fire at him, because that's going to go well. He has 1 weakness and you know what it is- what kind of idiot wouldn't just exploit it?
Also, the big bad in this book isn't actually explained. There are explanations that are credible within the context of superheroes and zombies for the superheroes and zombies, but the big bad shouldn't be able to exist even within that world, and there is never an explanation for that.
Also, did I mention the misogynistic portrayal of the unrealistic sex-starved female characters? It was irritating.
In an alternate Atlanta where magic is practiced openly, where witches sip coffee at local cafes, shapeshifters party at urban clubs, vampires rule the southern night like gangsters, and mysterious creatures command dark caverns beneath the city, Dakota Frost's talents are coveted by all. She's the best magical tattooist in the southeast, a Skindancer, able to bring her amazing tats to life. When a serial killer begins stalking Atlanta's tattooed elite, the police and the Feds seek Dakota's help.
In order to fully express how much I detested this book, I’m going to have to admit some things I am not proud of. Here it goes: I listened to all nine million hours of Robert Jordan’s Waste of Time epic. I slogged my way through the never-ending Pretty Little Liars saga. It wasn’t because I loved either series. I hate not to finish things once I’ve started them.
I could not bring myself to finish the last two hours of this book. I cannot do it.
The characters are shallow. I don’t mean that their philosophies on life lack meaning. I mean that they are poorly developed. They act inconsistently with the little character that is developed in an effort to drive the story forward. They are pathetic, rebelling against the establishment (which I am generally in favor of) without reason, explanation, or effect (which I’m not).
Everything is too convenient. Although the protagonist is a Mohawk sporting, tattooed, bad attitude wielding smart-mouth, pretty much every person she comes across, man or woman, young or old, hard boiled Fed or paranoid werewolf, wants 1. To have her and 2. To help her. Need a way to get the totally private evidence in an ongoing investigation to your sketchy friends? Find a Fed who is ready to jump you or wait patiently by your hospital bed for no reason. Can’t defend yourself? Run into a martial arts instructor at a bar who wants to give you lessons because you ordered a Guinness. What could be more natural?
There’s a heavily sexual theme, although no actual sex at least with two hours left to go, but even that is weird. The main character is bi, counter-culture, and in with the BDSM crowd, but she’s weirdly prudish, blushing when she almost (Gasp) kisses another character and telling him she stopped moving that fast in college. And what there is about sex is vaguely queasy-making and pathetic. I did not find myself feeling excited by any of it, just a little sad and embarrassed for everyone involved.
There is a mystery here, and I don’t know for certain who dunnit. Usually, that would be good for only having two hours left, but honestly I just do not care and I don’t think I can accurately predict an outcome when the people behave so unnaturally. The mystery isn’t even all that interesting, and it involves a serial killer slicing tattoos off his victims while they are living. How bad does the writing have to be to make that dull?
The only nice thing I can say is that the narrator was acceptable, and even that isn’t entirely good. If she’d been terrible, I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place and wasted my time.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Everyone thinks I'm a genius. Everyone is wrong. Sure, I finished Harvard at eighteen and now make crazy money at a hedge fund. But that's not because I'm unusually smart or hard-working. It's because I cheat. You see, I have a unique ability. I can go outside time into my own personal version of reality - the place I call - "the Quiet" - where I can explore my surroundings while the rest of the world stands still.I thought I was the only one who could do this - until I met her.
pauses a lot. strange cadence to his style. a a a a a a a a a a a a
6 of 10 people found this review helpful
Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?
This book turned me into one of those people who can't get my friends to read what I'm reading and so tells them in too much detail about it. It can get a bit preachy in places, and the major premise of the book- that markets aren't morally neutral and we need to jettison that lie so we can begin to discuss the morality of certain transactions- is fairly apparent to anyone who's given it any thought, but the book was interestingly written and full of exciting examples. I became a factoid dispensing machine, outraged at the things money can, in fact, actually buy. It was good to know and easy to get through.
The narration wasn't spectacular, but it didn't detract for me. It happens sometimes when authors narrate their own books. Not exciting enough for a long road trip, but good for a morning commute.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
So I often try not to review trilogies until the whole thing comes out and has been read and digested, because I think, "What could be worse than recommending a first book to someone only to have the successive two books suck the life and happiness from the little thrill left by a great first book?" Then I finished this trilogy and had an answer: worse? 2 fantastic books finished with one that makes little sense and ends wholly unsatisfactorily.
I will try not to give spoilers here, so please bear with any vagueries. I try to understand that not everyone will agree with me and refuse to read the series. So...
There are serious plot wholes in the last book. The ending makes no sense. If you think about it too hard- by which I mean almost at all beyond letting action scenes enter your brain and then leave again unrelated to anything- your brain might explode. At the very least, you will be frustrated.
Also, I don't care who you are (and I won't say who), but nobody's death should getmore than a chapter. It's maudlin. It's depressing. It's old.
Even Dobby didn't get more than a chapter, and that was one of the best written death scenes in YA fantasy. It didn't need it, because more than a chapter is maudlin and depressing and all the rest.
The absolute worst part of all of this is that the first two books were excellent and interesting and beautifully done. They are not complete in themselves though, and so can't really be read without the final book. It's like Ms. Roth had this fantastic idea, butdidn't bother to develop the world prior to writing the books, so she just ended up making it up as she went along. I know, it's fiction, and, by definition, made up as she goes along, but she didn't seem to think out the end at the beginning, so the world lacks consistancy, and overwrought scenes of heart-break and radical personality change resulting from said overwrought heartbreak are there to distract us from the knowledge that the Wizard of Oz is just a sad guy behind a curtain. O.K., I'm not sure that analogy works entirely, but I can't think of anything more frustrating than going down this whole road in pursuit of some grand goal only to discover smoke and mirrors and little of substance (O.K., maybe it works as an analogy ).
There is no Wizard at the end of this yellow brick road. There's only road work ahead.
28 of 31 people found this review helpful
Sydney Sage is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. In the Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her...But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once.
I keep reading these books. Every time a new one comes out, I think, 'I should read something with more redeeming value than this series', and every time, I buy it the day it comes out and consume it in a single sitting (where my work schedule allows). These books are addictive, entertaining, and action packed.
I'm not a huge fan of the narrator, but she doesn't really detract from the books. The stories are hugely fun. Sage is a much better heroine than Rose ever was, and it has been enjoyable following her.
This book begins to allow us to follow Adrain as well. Usually, I dislike the shift in perspective part-way through a series, but here it is good. Adrain is an interesting character, and it is very difficult to really understand and appreciate him and his struggles with mental illness from the outside. Seeing it from his perspective allows us to go through the ups and downs and see why it is both so scary for him to go on the way he his and so hard to get help.
Having said all these wonderful things about this cracktastic series, I have to say: What! You can't leave me with that kind of a cliff-hanger. This is not a TV show where I get the part 2 the next week or even the beginning of the next season. I have to wait for at least a year for the next book. Ms. Mead, you are a sadist.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Two sisters, bound by impossible choices, are determined to protect each other - no matter the cost. James's frozen face melts into a smile. "Do you want to know the trick to getting in trouble under the watchful eye of a psychic?" I think of the nailed-shut windows. I think of Clarice. I think of the two, the two, the two who are now zero. Tap tap. "Yes, I absolutely do." "Don't plan it. Don't even think about it. The second you get an inkling of what you could do, do it then. Never plan anything ahead of time. Always go on pure instinct." I smile. "I think I can do that."
I don't know if this is intended to be a stand alone, but I will be sad- so sad if it is. I originally read this author with Paranormalcy, which was good, though the subsequent books were lackluster. I thought i'd give it a try anyway. Man was I pleased.
First, the writing. I think Ms. White is a pretty talented writer. She uses several techniques that allow you to get into the ehad of the characters and really feel their pain, and there is a lot of pain in this book. There's a bit in the sample you can listen to that talks about the boy stopping to pet a puppy, to help the puppy, and how the heroine, Sophia, knows she can't kill him after that, and how it ruins her day. You get her, you like her, you sympathize with her in a matter of minutes, even though she is one of the angriest heroines I've come across. The writing also jumps from storyteller- from Fia to her sister Annie, and from time period to time period. This could be disorienting, but it is done so well, that it isn't.
The story line is excellent. There is an epic struggle of good versus evil, and what we will and will not do to fight that evil or simply to survive it. There's guilt and pain and hope wrapped in despair. It's beautifully done.
As an aside, if you happen to have read many of my reviews, you will know that "I'm blind, blind the way Annie is- except for the supernatural stuff- and I truly appreciate the way Annie's blindness is described, her willingness to live in her prison because it is a prison she knows and can, to some extent, control, the way she feels out of control and often a burden and wants to be more. Her hope at the treatments iws heartbreaking. I don't know any blind people- who weren't born blind- who wouldn't give almost anything for that hope, so Annie's willful blindness (metaphorically, of course) to her sister's deep unhappiness to hang on to that hope to the special help she gets that promises to make her just a little more independent, a little less reliant on Fia, it resonates in a way most descriptions of blindness don't. I don't know if the author's blind or friends or family to a blind person, but she makes it more than just some inconvenience or pitiable thing we shouldn't discuss for fear of catching it. I get Annie and everything she does.
The narration was going to bother me, I thought, but I ended up kind of liking it. I might read this narrator again. This is why we need a different ranking system though. She would only get a 3 and 1/2 from me. Otherwise, she is excellent.
If this is the start of a series, which it should be, though I think it stands alone- frustratingly, but sufficiently- I would like to see Eden developed more, and I want the romance handled. I'm old enough that the serious age difference including Fia's age when the thing starts, is a bit creepy.. I get it, don't get me wrong, and Fia isn't young the way most girls her age are, but she is deeply damaged, and if the romance is going to continue, frankly with either of the possible love intests, I'm going to need something to take the ick factor down a couple of notches.
Otherwise, I will buy the next one if there is another and devour it. I even want the same narrator.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
When LA’s vampires, witches, and werewolves make a mess, they call Scarlett Bernard to clean it up. Her ability as a null erases all magical traces from anything — or anyone — that comes within ten feet of her, and keeps humans in the dark about the city’s paranormal activity. One night when she’s called to a grisly crime scene, Scarlett is spied by the all-too-human LAPD cop Jesse Cruz, who strikes up a deal with her: he’ll keep quiet about the supernatural underworld if she helps him crack the case. She agrees, but the city’s chief vampire, Dash, starts to suspect Scarlett is behind the murders and will reveal all she knows of his shadowy empire. Now it’ll take more than Scarlett’s unique abilities to clear her name, keep the underworld underground, and track down the real killer.
O.K., I admit it... I bought this book because there was nothing out by anyone I usually read, it came well-reviewed by someone I like, and, yes, it was on sale. I will say this- no spoilers here.
Having said that, I actually really enjoyed this book. It wasn't the entirely new twist some reviewers had lead me to believe with descriptions of a wholly new type of paranormal creature- I can think of at least two series with nulls, the Parisol Protectorate (we need spell check) and the Carol Marie MMonning (again I don't know how to spell her name- I'm blind and don't see these things so I'm mostly making up spellings), in which the heroine is actually called a "null" with the power to nullify supernatural powers. Even so, it was funny, well-written, and engaging enough that I didn't get bored despite usually being the jerk people refuse to watch mysteries with since "I'm always saying, "obviously it's so and so, the affair and the motive are too obvious" ten minutes in. It wasn't brilliant, but I wanted to read it in a single sitting, and I didn't guess what was going on until well into the second part.
The bad guys are bad, but they are also human- in a manner of speaking. They aren't all bad, and the good guys, such as they are, aren't all good. After all, the heroine does crime scene disposal for a living- ie she hides crimes from the cops to pay the bills. I liked the complexity of the characters, even those provided mostly for comic relief, like the adorable and occasionally hilarious roommate.
I read some complaints about the narration, and, though a huge amount of that is a matter of personal taste, I liked her- eventually. It took me some time to like her, past the sample even, but she's right for it. Just the right mix of bored, amused, and terrified. She does the male voices justice even if they don't want to make me throw my clothes off (which would be weird and possibly confusing to my sexual identity).
A little more on the characters in the potential love triangle- I was fully ready for the "bad BOY" who is sexy and who she is just too stupid to resist and the good guy she should eventually end up with. That's just not the case, no matter how much the heroine wants to make it that way. I obviously still have the guy I want her to end up with- sexy cop just has to beat out sexy bartender werewolf in my book everyday, but they're both actual people with complex personalities, and the sexy bartender werewolf surprised me with his depth- not an easy thing to do. I might even be O.K. if she ends up with the wrong guy, though that usually results in throwing books across the room (obviously metaphorically now that I use my precious I-phone to listen). I also liked that, while there is some romantic stuff going on, and there is some off scene sex, there is no graphic sex, no explicit scenes I need to mute when my husband/friends/ occasionally co-workers walk into the room for the huge amount of mocking that follows. Plus, that kind of sex, graphic and frequent, just gets old after a while, so this was pleasantly refreshing in that sense. There's also none (or very little) of the constant thinking about- and then sharing with us- sex at all times, like during fights or body disposal, which is all too common in these kinds of books- plus, it's creepy to be thinking about getting laid while actually chopping up a body- eew. I like a romance. I want my heroine to end up happily ever after, but me personally, I don't need it graphically. If you do, try Sookie Stackhouse (I'm O.K. if I misspelled that- it's clearly made up), or anything by Carrie Arthur or the Anita Blake books or... the list goes on and on.
This NEXT SENTANCE is'nt a spoiler, but you may want to not think too hard about it as you read the book.. the thing SOME PEOPLE SAID WAS A SHOCKING ending, not particularly a shocker if you were paying attention. When people say there's ONLY one possible reason for something, even if they follow it up with, but that's impossible, remember we're talking about vampires, witches, and werewolfs. Reassess impossible. Still, it was a fun cliff-hanger ending.
One final note... the second book, Trail of Dead, is out and not on audible or on the audible coming soon list. What gives? I'm kind of craving to know what exciting gore/romance related misadventures one of my potentially favorite heroines gets up to. Give me book two or at least a release date or explaination OF WHY I'M CONTEMPLATING MY FIX ELSEWHERE (GASP). We grow impatient, possibly with torches and pitchforks.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
Greenville County, South Carolina, is a wild, lush place that is home to the Boatwright family - a tight-knit clan of rough-hewn, hard- drinking men who shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who get married young and age too quickly. At the heart of this story is Ruth Anne Boatwright, known simply as Bone, a bastard child who observes the world around her with a mercilessly keen perspective.
Ordinarily, I dislike reviewers who don't finish the book but feel O.K. about writing reviews. This time, I have to make an exception in the hopes of sparing others. I simply could not finish this book. The graphic descriptions of the sexual molestation of a small child, the physical abuse, the deeply disturbing recounting of the child's masturbation were all too horrifying. The narration was fine, but the story itself left me feeling sick to my stomach. I did not get the sense of this book from the publisher's summary or the sample, and I think I am much too squeamish (hopefully read human) to get through this feeling even a little O.K. Maybe it gets better later, and the girl grows up to overcome her childhood trauma and there's some kind of good and positive ending that would make this less monsterous, but I couldn't get there to find it over the overwhelming awful of the first half.
13 of 20 people found this review helpful