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SPOILER ALERT!
Salvage - Alexandra Duncan

I’m not sure what drew me to this book, but I’m glad that I took a chance on it. It ended up being completely different from most of the space-faring adventures I have picked up in the past. This made it unique and appealing to someone like me, who only tends to read action packed science fiction with no-nonsense heroines who kick ass.

Ava is a teenage girl who has never been off her small deep space merchant ship, the Parastrata. In fact, her culture doesn’t let women off the ship very much at all. Only those who are high ranking or those who get special privilege are allowed off the ship at any point. This leaves her body much weaker than her mind and pretty much holds her hostage to her own ship or a similar ship.

Ava’s worldview is very limited. Though she enjoys fixing bits of the ship, deemed a male oriented task, she makes sure to do it in secret and only if it seems as though no one else would be tasked with it. Her goals in life are to marry and have children. Even with the crush she has on a boy she met once when his ship visited, he is not her top priority.

Now, I should probably mention, Ava’s merchant culture and all ships within that merchant culture, are polygamist. Ava is perfectly happy being someone’s third or fourth wife. This is just how she was raised. When it turns out that she is ready to be married, though, it turns out she will be sent to the other ship, the one with the boy she already has a crush on. This changes her goals and she starts to get excited and hope that the boy, Luck, who is of marrying age as well, will be her husband.

Luck also comes to the same conclusion, and in a night of passion before the marriage papers are signed, they are caught. They find out that instead of being meant for Luck, Ava was meant to be the wife of the captain, Luck’s father, who already had plenty of wives. Luck is beaten for his insubordination and Ava is sent back to her own ship in shame. On on her own ship, she is dressed in her funeral best and left near the airlock, to be thrown out into the void once the ship is away from the port they are currently using.

A childless widow, one of Ava’s dead mother’s friends, risks her life to get Ava off the ship and onto the space station. Ava, who already knew she had an aunt living on earth, is told of her location and to find her. Ava gets very lucky at this point, beseeching help from a woman who looked as though she’d seen her fair share of trouble. She is taken down to earth where the woman, Perpétue, and her daughter nurse Ava as she acclimates to the gravity.

Eventually, Ava is able to do small tasks around the household and in growing stronger, is taught how to fly the small spacecraft that is the family’s courier livelihood. Returning from one of these trips, they see that their island home is overrun by the ocean and a terrible storm. The young daughter, Miyole, is rescued, but Perpétue is lost in the process. Ava is thrust with the sudden burden of providing for a young child. So, she decides to go try and find her aunt in Mumbai.

The quest that unfolds tests Ava’s sense of self. She finds obstacles that test her world view and her capacity. Coming through the other side, she grows into a strong minded character with her own thoughts and desires. When given the chance to have everything she could have wanted at the book’s start, she finds that she’s advanced well past that stage and declines.

While the book is not full of the most exciting adventures, it does have its fair share of tense moments. It remains compelling despite this. Ava’s growth and discovery take center stage and keeping the plot moves at a great pace as she learns new things and encounters new people.

Sekret - Lindsay  Smith

Set in 1960′s Space Race, Cold War, Communist Russia, this book follows a young girl with psychic powers as she rebels against the destiny the government has set forth for her.

Yulia can read minds and events through touch. It doesn’t matter whether she’s touching an inanimate object or a person, she can glean information from any source. This power only surfaces after her family goes into hiding and her father leaves. Eventually, the KGB (the main security agency in Russia) finds her and takes her in. She is forced to live in a school with other psychics in order to hone her talents. The government wants to use this psychic force to stop terrorist threats and insurgency within the nation.

Yulia’s first thought is of escape, but it’s hard to plan an escape when her thoughts are visible to her fellow classmates and to her teachers. She learns to hide thoughts and though coerced with her family’s safety to remain put, she continues to dream of leaving the Russian dutiful life behind.

When a team of Americans show up to sabotage a secret rocket launch, it throws Yulia into the thick of things but also gives her hope and a chance of escape.

I know very little about Russia, let’s be honest, so I don’t know how plausible the history is. Still, the author weaves a wonderful look at life and events for that time, melding the fantastical psychic element into them seamlessly.

The characters are well rounded and their powers are varied in both execution and strength. There is a brief, but still standard love triangle which splits abruptly despite revival. The singular romance continues unabated, but doesn’t overwhelm the story or the action.

The book takes plenty of twists and turns, but after a certain point I had grasped the thread and latched onto the hints. That left me less than surprised at most of the reveals. This didn’t take away from the story, but the shock and awe would have been felt deeper had there remained an air of mystery.

Still, I found the book to be intriguing and enjoyable up until the end. Seeing that this is the first in a series of books, I will most assuredly be picking up the next installment.

Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty is yet another foray into the sub-genre of fairy tale retellings. Authors expound upon a set story and shape it to their desires. These stories always bring something exciting to the table, whether they’re set in the future with space travel and androids like The Lunar Chronicles or are a modern day retelling of the Persephone myth like the Everneath series.

In this instance, we have a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that is set in the land of Arcadia. There is a Grecian flair attached to everything in this book. It’s interesting, considering the other Beauty and the Beast renditions I’ve read have been contemporary and then the standard French countryside. Still, it reaches into areas of Greek subculture that I, as a voracious reader of mythology haven’t ever touched on.

The book itself starts off very slow. We meet our main protagonist and learn of the hatred in her heart and of her quest. But, how many times do we have to be reminded of her love for her annoyingly happy sister, that she’s going to be marrying the demon lord that rules the land, that she’s avenging her mother, and that her father is having an affair with her aunt? Apparently constantly throughout the first few chapters. Once Nyx makes it to her husband’s abode and starts to explore, it eventually picks up.

The book offers what appears to be a standard love triangle. While Nyx battles with her feelings and her perceptions of both the demon lord and his shadowy footman, she is weighed heavily with her original task of avenging her mother. Eventually, her heart wins out, especially after finding out how futile her original destructive plan was.

In giving her heart over to Ignifex, a mystery opens up. This mystery takes us through the rest of the book and the climax, offering an interesting take on the Beauty and the Beast mythos as well as that of the Greek Furies mythos. The ending is satisfactory, though a little muddled and somewhat cliché with an interesting juxtaposition from the introduction.

Yes, this book has the Stockholm syndrome type love that you’d expect from the source. Despite that, the author ends up weaving an interesting and mysterious romance that is both dark and captivating.

SPOILER ALERT!
Fire & Flood - Victoria Scott

Tella Halloway is annoying, and everything I despise in a protagonist. She’s not that bright, worried more about the shallow things in life like nail polish and fashion, and she’s stuck in the middle of nowhere with her family. Her brother is terminal, and her relationship with him is almost normal, considering.

Tella immediately receives a mysterious package, with instructions on how to become a Contender in something called the Brimstone Bleed. It’s a race, you guys, across several different and grueling biomes. The winner gets a cure for the terminally ill patient of their choice. Catch? Her parents are trying to keep the Brimstone Bleed a secret from her, and she’s got 48 hours to make it from middle of nowhere Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska.

She runs off without another thought in her pretty little head, except the one where she remembers to pack purple nail polish so she can look stellar. Never mind the fact that her parents didn’t want her to know about the competition or that they tried to cover it up as a joke and keep her at home. Never mind that she stole a car and trekked across country on the faith of a google search. She has to reach her destination and participate in selecting something called a Pandora!

Of course, Tella doesn’t grab an egg immediately and gets left with the broken one on the floor. Then she follows her mysterious instructions to a train station, takes a mysterious pill and wakes up in the jungle. Here, with the other Contenders, she’s expected to trek through the jungle and make it to base camp in order to continue to the next leg of the journey.

The jungle is full of surprises, none of which Tella is prepared for. She’s not prepared for flesh eating ants or leeches or killer chimps. Through this, she somehow survives and stumbles upon a campsite full of other Contenders who are more than happy to take her in. Her Pandora, or animal companion that hatched out of that egg she chose before the race started, is much smaller compared to the rest.

Her new group of allies are varied in their back stories, demographics and reasons for being in the competition. Despite these differences, they work well together and when they are attacked by a grizzly Pandora, they quickly subdue both him and his handler. The grizzly Pandora attack adds two more members to their group, the grizzly’s handler in order to keep an eye on him and the brooding and mysterious Guy Chambers.

Now, Guy Chambers is apparently the love interest. He is brooding and full of mystery and his motives for being in the Brimstone Bleed go far beyond saving a family member. He is described in a bipolar fashion. Sometimes he looks like a serial killer. Other times he has dreamy blue eyes. Always, Tella is compelled to follow, stare at or kiss him.

Despite hardships, the team makes it through one leg of the race, only to immediately be thrown into the second biome, a desert. This leg of the race is full of hardships that extend past the obvious terrain induced ones. A few reveals are made involving some of the teammates. One is pretty obvious and I saw it coming from the point of meeting the character, but the other is a bit more subtle. There is only a passing mention that could even hint towards it, hiding in an offhanded snarky comment. The mention stood out at the time, as out of place as it was to me, making the reveal more of a, ‘duh’, moment than an actual reveal.

 

The finish line of this leg of the race also requires a surprise price. Tella got lucky and she was able to complete this leg of the race with her dignity and compassion intact.

 

 

After the race, the reason for the Brimstone Bleed and Guy’s ulterior motives are revealed. Yet, despite learning about them, Tella doesn’t ask any questions. She just blankly nods and accepts everything she’s told as fact. Sure, she speculates a little, but anyone else in that situation would be demanding plenty more than what she was given.

I enjoyed the book overall. Full of plot holes, questions and inconsistent heroines, it still wove a compelling, attention grabbing tale. It’s more of a summer blockbuster in literary form, than a wonderful literary masterpiece. It read quickly and kept me interested. We will have to see how the followup pans out.

Panic - Lauren Oliver

I want to like Lauren Oliver’s books, I honestly do. They all have really interesting premises and colorful characters. Yet, somewhere between point a and point b, the ball gets dropped and I never end up enjoying the books as much as the summary would make me believe.

Panic is no different. Though I wasn’t as disappointed with this one as I was with Delirium. Where Delirium was romance driven, this book mainly focuses on Heather and her attempt to carve out a place for herself in the universe. Even the chapters with Dodge – while a nice break from Heather’s point of view – mainly held action and mystique instead of his own unique plot arc. He’s out for revenge, sure, but that seems to be all he’s got. Once that is gone, he deflates like a balloon.

Why the cover of the book is some girl standing there with windswept hair on a black background, I’ll never know. The premise offers so much more than the cover ever will. In a somewhat small town, the graduating seniors play a game of high stakes Fear Factor. It’s played over the whole summer and the winner takes home a hefty amount of money. The people running Panic are always anonymous, chosen the year before by the previous management. It has an air of mystery about it, as one never knows when the next challenge will be announced, or what it will be. Even the solo challenges are a mystery. Eventually, the challengers are whittled down through these tasks, via fear or injury and the last one standing takes the pot.

Heather decides to compete in the challenges, an impulse decision that diverts her summer’s course. She wants to prove her worth and her mettle. Even though she competes, the entire book is Heather trying to accomplish both those things. She lives in a trailer with her dead-beat mom and her younger sister, Lilly, whom she provides motherly support to. When Heather loses her job, a stroke of luck has her in the right place at the right time to meet Anne, a widower with a ton of land and animals who could use a farmhand.

Anne owns two tigers, who obviously come into play at the climax, culminating in trust issues for everyone involved. Even Heather’s best man friend (she’s got another friend named Nat, but Nat was annoying and inconsequential), Bishop, who is a terrible cliché and disappointment on most levels, takes this point to expound upon all the obvious things we’ve figured out about him. And while that’s supposed to be the romance mentioned in the summary, I was surprised and disappointed to find that it wasn’t between Heather and Dodge. I mean, that’s how dual narrators work, right?

All through this Dodge is having feels about the game and his sister’s demise in it several years earlier. He is battling his conscience and his thirst for revenge throughout the whole book, though he mostly sets up the action and acts as the hero for Heather’s idiotic strategies.

I could digress for hours on this book, but why bother? It wasn’t that bad of a premise and could have delivered far more intense action. Sadly, it flounders around for footing that it never really grasps. If you’re into a book that delivers obvious plot developments that you can see forming halfway through the book, this one’s for you.

SPOILER ALERT!
Death Sworn - Leah Cypess

Finishing this book didn’t give me any elation. Though the first chapter was gripping and interesting, the book continued in the same vein of discovery and banter almost the entire way through. I kept giving it one more chapter to see if it impressed me, and though it picked up around chapter sixteen, it didn’t ever reach a point where I connected with the characters or their plight.

For a book that is the first in a series, this is a problem. Sure, Ileni was a strong heroine with a no nonsense attitude, and in the beginning, she cares little for her assignment or even her well being. Eventually she relents and decides that she does care a little bit. Not an awful lot, mind you, just a little.

Ileni was a powerful, well versed sorceress before her powers abruptly dwindled. Despite the finite nature of her magic, she’s still able to mutter enough spells to stop herself from dying at the drop of a hat. At one point, she healed her own sliced throat. How one does this when her magic is directed by words and all her airflow is seeping through her neck wound, I couldn’t tell you! 

She is sent to a cave system full of assassins to teach those with skill magic that they could harness on their missions. It is part of a truce between her peace loving mage settlement and the assassins, and Ileni is the third mage sent within half a year. Someone is killing her fellow mages, and she must find out who and why. She is issued a protector, Sorin, who believes in his purpose in the larger scheme of things, and keeps his word to see to her safety.

Despite spending pages upon pages discussing, learning, fighting and otherwise interacting, the romance still abruptly sparks between Ileni and Sorin. By the time it does, it matters not in the least. It is just one more jumbled plot thread required to run its course.

Since this is the first in a series, nothing is actually resolved (except for the murders, but those just expand out into something else) but nothing is left in a cliffhanger either. I felt no more fulfilled by the ending than I had throughout the entire novel. Doubtless, it was a lackluster start and I doubt I’ll be continuing the series unless the plot develops drastically.

SPOILER ALERT!
Defy - Sara B. Larson

What I was expecting: 


What I actually got: 


For a trope as rich and interesting as Sweet Polly Oliver, I expect an awful lot. It's been done really well over the years and is a tough mantel to carry; unfortunately, Alexa Hollen does not live up to the trope. She barely tricks anyone. Everyone knew her secret before she revealed it, and even her reveal(s) were lame. There were no random breasts bared, no accidental discoveries after horrific battle scars. It was all just Alexa simpering and declaring herself to have ladyparts.

This book reads like it was written by Tumblr. It starts out with finding the most shockingly useless plot point in the history of useless plot points and then degrades into flushed skin and makeout sessions. I read patiently, waiting for there to be something worthwhile and discovered nothing.

Let's start with the setting, shall we? There are three kingdoms, apparently. One appears to be in the jungle and one appears to be on nearby plains or an unspecified cooler region of some sort. Even Minecraft has better generators for terrain than this. The third nation's topography is undescribed. It could be anywhere. It could be on the moon.

Now, the leaders of these nations are related to each other by intermarriage or by blood. Two of the nations are ruled by brothers, which makes the other the odd duck. Naturally, there is a war. Though, the reasons behind it are so convoluted and confusing even I lost track of the logic. 

Our main characters live in a lush jungle kingdom. Ruled by a corrupt king who decided to start a war for funsies. YOLO. The war has been raging for a long time, so long that the king thought, "Hey, you know what'd be awesome to do with these displaced orphans? We can send the boys to war and we can shove the girls into breeding houses." That's right, breeding houses. No, of course they're not there having babies willingly, but it's both a way for the soldiers to blow off steam and for the nation to gain a higher population of soldiers. Not that that makes sense. It takes how long for a new baby to even be considered an apt fighter? Maybe 15 years at a minimum? Considering their military has the standard 18 and over rules for their military that we see in the real world, this starts to make less sense. So, really, what is the point of these breeding houses? Just to make me feel dirty and gross? To have a motivation for Alexa to not want to be seen as feminine? Either way, it's dumb.

So, after being orphaned, Alexa spends most of her time pretending to be a boy. I've already mentioned that she does this rather poorly. She stares at flexing muscles and deep into other men's eyes, noting their color. She sighs longingly and blushes. But, she's such an adept fighter that she's moved her way up onto the prince's guard and, if not for a technicality (that of her age) would have been captain of the guard. Clearly, since she's so piss poor at pretending, they are keeping her around because she actually has some skill.

Things take a turn when the prince's life is endangered by an assassin. Alexa is forced to guard him day and night. The prince flaunts his upper torso at her and makes a few passes. Any reasonable person would either think the prince was batting for the other team, or would assume that the secret was out. Not Alexa. She flushes and sighs and daydreams instead of actually questioning the validity of what is happening.

The prince is captured by the enemy. Alexa is useless to stop them against the sorcerer they employ. She's brought along, because the penalty for letting the prince get captured is death, and we already know that the prince fancies her. The other half of her love triangle, another guard and one of her best friends, is also brought along for the ride. Despite appearances, the prince is pretty chummy with the enemy and it continues being this way.

The prince wants to overthrow the king and save the nation/stop the war. The only one who can help him accomplish this goal is, you guessed it, Alexa. She's a super special battle snowflake. With a flimsy plan, they run headfirst into danger and get a bunch of people massacred in the process. It's okay though, because they're the protagonists and nothing bad ever happens to protagonists! 

I probably should have known better and not attempted to read anything that blurbs, "a thrilling love triangle", but I was enthralled by the rest of the premise. No luck there. If you're looking for a simpering romance full of instant love and surface feels, dully written action, and a heroine who could use a few hard shakes, this is the book for you. If you're looking for an intelligent fantasy debut with some romance, you'll be sorely disappointed. 

Tin Star  - Cecil Castellucci

The beginning of Tin Star was fascinating. Tula Bane is stranded upon a remote space station by the leader of their colonizing cult, Brother Blue. She survives his brutal attack and abandonment only to find that she’s living in a universe where humans are not thought highly of. Their prejudice runs deep. She’s forced to survive by proving to everyone else on the space station that she can adapt and respect their customs while supporting herself.

Her footing gathered, she lives a relatively functional existence. This changes when a new group of humans, rescued from a crash, show up on the station. The tone of the book changes dramatically after this point. While there is plenty of drama involving Tula trying to retain her position with the aliens while the newcomers attempt to undermine it by living up to the alien stereotypes, there are also added layers of attraction and reluctant comradery.

At this point, Tula seems to be in love (though, I would more describe it as lust) with both of the male humans aboard the ship. Only one of these relationships moves any farther than awkward glances and descriptions of tight muscles. Even that one stays pretty chaste, remaining at the making out stage. She never becomes too attached to any of the humans, preferring to remain alone and trusting in her alien neighbors.

The other human, Els, is a backstabbing schemer. This fact and Els’ actions culminate into the climax of the story, forcing Tula to make a lot of hard decisions and revealing a romantic ally that she should have been more aware of.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I would have liked it more if the book retained the dark and gritty survivalist aspect instead of traversing upon a romantic detour. Still, Tula is a tenacious, bright protagonist with plenty of promise. The overarching demand for satisfaction and revenge on her part was neither forgotten or overbearing. I can’t wait to see what path her story takes in the next installment.

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

The romance in this book is overwhelming. It's overwhelming to the plot, to the characters, to the tone of the story. It's almost instantaneous and continues without abating throughout the whole book. You can't escape it. At certain points, it becomes too much to deal with.

Sure, the part that doesn't involve romance reminds me a lot of a Diana Wynn Jones novel. Except that instead of loving every moment of it, I found it hard to connect to the characters at all. This made it difficult to care for their plight. A plight that, which I might add, ended abruptly with little or no resolution.

The book jumps points of view between the two main characters, Iolanthe Seabourne and Titus VII. Jumps can happen at any time. Sometimes it happens between chapters, sometimes within the same chapter at a page break. Sadly, it doesn't happen with anything akin to predictability. Page breaks and new chapters do not necessarily mean reading from a different perspective. Still, the story is easy to follow despite this. The narrative voice is never left ambiguous.

The world is similar to a thousand others like it. The only saving grace is their magical training ground, the crucible. Inside a book full of fairy tales and historical mythology lies a lush and exquisite landscape for a mage to hone their skills. They can practice in a meadow by their lonesome or battle their way through any number of fantastical tales. They can also use it for extremely dangerous travel through books of the same type.

Even at the end of the book, I cared little for the characters. Nothing really drew me to them even though the prose kept me attentive. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Depending on the synopsis of the next book, I may or may not continue this series.

Perdition - Ann Aguirre

Wow. After the last Sirantha Jax book covering turns of political and social upheaval with sparse and decimating action, this book comes roaring out of the gate. After scant chapters to set up the location and characters, the plot takes a death grip and doesn't let go. When I hear phrases like 'non-stop action', I immediately become skeptical, but Perdition's plot is constantly moving, barely offering time to rest between fights. There is even a large scale massacre within the last chapter, in the last four pages. I've never been offered that much action that late in a story without a horrifying cliffhanger. Ms. Aguirre doesn't leave us hanging, crafting it in such a way that I want to pick the next book up, but I'm not full of hatred over a cliffhanger.

Perdition takes place turns and turns after Sirantha Jax's story. It's set in the same world, mentioning events from the other series. Compared to the scope of Sirantha Jax's tale, this book is set on a singular ship in a rotating orbit. It's the most maximum security of prisons with no escape and no guards. Prisoners join a variety of gangs depending on their personalities and murderous ideals. Each gang controls part of the ship. There is plenty of infighting in the gangs as well as territorial skirmishes.

As for characters who inhabit this ship, they are varied and interesting. The mercenary, Jael, last seen in Ithiss-Tor, returns as one of the main protagonists in this series. He is pretty much the same, though it seems time on the bug planet has given him time to think over what a jerk he was. While he still harbors the notion that everyone is out to get him, he is less inclined to act upon it and quicker to apologize on the rare occasions when he does. Being what he is, he hasn't visibly aged, which is good, because he'd be very rickety and not all that great at combat.

The new protagonist, Dresdemona Davos, the Dread Queen, recently took over the territory in which she lives. Her rule is hanging by a tight thread. Her borders are threatened on both sides by two different gangs and there is dissension in her ranks. She has to navigate through an alliance with the crazy Silence, who's disillusions involve plenty of mute fighters and lots of death, in order to have the numbers in order to defeat the encroaching gangs. She also has to deal with a coup to throw her out of power in the most permanent way.

The other point of view belongs to Dresdmona's right hand man, Tam, a former political spy. While I am unsure as to what his motives or endgame is, he is both helpful and demanding. The Dread Queen is a character of his own design and he pulls most of the strings.

The other characters are just as colorful. There is a soothsaying mechanic, an innocent old man, and a huge cheerful berserker. There are more, and they cover just about every creed and vice you can consider.

The romance, while hinted at being a possible love triangle or tetrahedron, turned out being not so complicated. It had it's ups and downs, but for being in a war on a prison ship, it was both sexy and sweet.

Overall, I really loved this book. It's dark, exciting, sexy and full of interesting twists and turns. I didn't want it to end. I savored it until the last possible moment and I can't wait to read the next one!

Daughter of Smoke & Bone  - Laini Taylor

I know, I know, I’m just jumping on this bandwagon now. But, believe me, I was judging the books by their covers. Don’t tell me the covers aren’t lame. Closeups of girls faces with overambitious stage makeup or masquerade masks? Why? There was only one masquerade scene in the whole book. Why is that the subject for the cover? Alas, I will never understand publishers and the way they promote thing.

The second thing that kept me away from the series was the insufferable usage of the ‘blank & blank’ seen in most book titles these days. I know it’s suppose to be deep, finding buzz words to paint a picture of the fantastical landscape. But seriously, it’s gotten old. When the fantasy landscape is riddled with them, how do you know which is which?

The third thing that kept me away, I heard there was something of an intense romance that was either complete perfection or utterly horrible depending on the person reading the book. I hate a lot of romantic tropes, but I put up with them if the story is good enough. So, when confronted with those skeptical reviews, I stayed away.

Granted, these are all shallow reasons for staying away from this book. I decided to jump in on a whim, to see what all the fuss was about. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to read. Sure, I cringed a bit when I found out there was a fight between what amounted to, in this world, as Angels and Demons. But, really, all the cliches are so well done that after a certain point, it didn’t matter anymore.

Our main character, Karou lives dual lives. On one hand she’s an art student in Prague. On the other, she knows about magical doors all over the world that all lead to the same room. A room filled with chimera, with monsters. That room holds her foster family, whom raised her from birth.

The hows and the whys are a mystery. The one in charge, Brimstone, keeps plenty of secrets from Karou. He buys teeth with wishes and sometimes Karou helps procure the teeth, from poachers and auctions and everyday folk. Upon one of her errands, Karou sees a black hand print burned into the wood of the portal door. Soon, the black hand prints appear on every door across the world. With this advent, the books soon take a turn.

Kauro meets an angel named Akiva, who at once tries to kill her. She escapes, barely, and finds refuge in Brimstone’s shop. Curiosity get’s the better of her, and she wanders to a forbidden section, only to be thrown out. In the morning, she finds that all the portals are smoldering ruins. There is no way back to Brimstone’s shop or to her family.

From there, the book starts with the general quest to get to the other side of the portal, but then diverts into the romance that everyone totes as hit or miss. It’s an intense one, spanning multiple lives and all involving Akiva. His memories mixed with Madrigal’s and Kauro’s paint a picture that is both hopeful, elated and sorrowful.

Everything is so well done. The writing style is poetic, the characters are diverse and interesting, and the world building takes things that have been done before and paints them into a beautiful tapestry.

I will be continuing this series immediately (which I will promptly regret, as the last book is not out).

Anne Rice Owns Nothing- Least Of All Any Credibility

Reblogged from GreyWarden:

Enough's enough.

 

Back in Dec/Jan when all this was still going on I chalked it up to another bout of insanity from the lady who seems hell-bent on becoming the modern-day Nora Desmond, and let it lie.  But now this shit's gone too far.  Now even supposedly reputable sites like the Guardian are parroting this farce.

 

Hello, I'm Anne Rice- and you're not.

If you've been blissfully unaware of this latest insanity, Anne Rice- author auteur, Goddess of the Night, Mistress of Vampires, blahblahblah- went off the deep end again when she started pontificating all over the Amazon forums about the state of reviewing in general, and how everyone should have to reveal their secret identities in order to post reviews.  No more pseudonyms, aliases or screen names anywhere.  Naturally, a collection of fools, charlatans, frauds and crusaders fell over each other to be the first to pat her on the back about lending her name to the jihad against Teh Bulliez.  She was so tickled she couldn't stop sharing it on FB (here, here and here), ignoring the warnings given to her about the site in question to the point of deleting all comments about them yet left all posts from that site's contributors standing.  Because that site's history of abuse, doc-dropping and yeah- bullying, has nothing to do with nothing; what matters is they're kissing her ass here and now.  One should always focus on what's important.

 

You'll also notice that not only are the majority of them's talking about how happy they are about this are themselves doing so under false pretenses, the claims of Rice's victory over bullying amounts to a bunch of sound bites. All screenshots of her 'winning' posts are done so in a vacuum without context or reply; trust me when I tell you there's much more to the story.  And it doesn't make Rice look good.

 

I'll state with 100% certainty that any and all who run around the internet crowing about how Anne Rice showed those meanie-mean poopy-heads over on Amazon never read the entire thread.  It's pretty damn obvious TIME Magazine didn't.  Because a reading of it shows Rice getting her pop-culture intellectualism handed to her on a pretty regular basis.  For the sake of disclosure I'll admit to giving her a few lumps myself during the discussions.

 

The undercurrent here fools no one, least of all it's proponents who know they're full of shit.  That's why the vast majority almost never come out and say what's really on their minds: there should be no negative reviews posted.  Ever. (The article is satire but the comments are worth looking at).  And the few that do say so only highlights why the rest don't: it reveals them to be the whiny, spoiled, sniveling, entitled children they are.  After all, they're SOOPER-GENIUSES!  Everyone knows it; back when they were that sunflower in the third-grade play- even the teacher said so!!!  They've got a whole wall of participation trophies that confirms it!

Allow me to introduce myself: I. Ama Author- SUPER GENIUS!

Given Rice's well-documented history and complete denial of her own bullying, it was comically ironic to see this posted on her FB page to try and bolster her argument: Science Confirms Internet Trolls are Narcissistic, Psychopathic and Sadistic.

 

Another example of Rice's disconnect from her actions is seen in this FB exchange with one Dusty Lee.  Note how quickly Rice condescendingly changes the topic once she's been called on her previous bad behavior:

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Dusty Lee well i've definitely seen the rice army go off on negative commenters lol. what harm it actually caused, probably none. i guess for me, i would have a hard time telling THE anne rice to her face that i don't like her latest book. for a lot of people, myself included, writers have rock star status. we worship you guys. and when and author has an obvious presence in a place like amazon, i'm not telling you or any other author to get off amazon, it's just that it can be hard to be honest when you know they're reading it. imagine telling a musician you've totally idolized that you didn't like that song. or maybe you don't have that problem. maybe i'm coming at this from too personal of a place and it's clouded the bigger picture.
 
 
Anne Rice Dusty, you can check out any one of my books right now tonight and find all kinds of negative reviews. Believe me, people do not find it difficult to post them on my books, not at all. And I don't see any legion of fans going after these people. --- Take a look right now at any of the review threads. You'll see plenty of negative reviews. I don't think people have any problem at all being honest. ----- And there is something to be said for taking responsibility for what one publishes on line.
 
Dusty Lee i'm sorry, but what??? you've never seen legions of fans go after people that negatively reviewed your work? don't you remember when you linked that review of "pandora" on this very page, which in turn caused the writer of that review to be harassed and insulted hundreds of times by your fans? or how on the amazon reviews for blood canticle, people that post negative reviews are called things like "bitter out of work editor" "ignorant and illiterate"... surely you see these things, no? does this not constitute as "cyber bullying"?
 
Anne Rice Dusty, after the Pandora incident and several other attempts on my part to have discussion of negative reviews, I publicly announced that we would never link to negative reviews again. And we haven't. Clearly the reviewers feel ganged up on when we link. And the goal of discussion is achieved but some people do pile on the reviewers and the reviewers in the main feel threatened. So the practice has been stopped. But there are plenty of bad reviews of my work everywhere on Amazon which no one has piled. Look for yourself. You'll find them on every book I've written. The few times I linked, yes, there was piling, and that is why the practice was discontinued. By the way the Pandora person keeps the blog entry on her website along with the comments she received, and I think she quite enjoyed the increased exposure. Maybe you should check out her website. Again, if you go to Amazon you will see scores of negative reviews on every book I've written. And there is no piling on these reviewers by fans of mine or anyone else. You seem completely out of touch. Remember, this thread is about Amazon reviewing. Please do some research.
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ScreenHunter_54 Mar. 06 17.29
 
So unless it's all about how great the book is, Anne Rice wants you to use your real name when you do a review- for security purposes.
 
In light of all this, I figure it's time for what I'd thought about doing while the thread discussion was live: blog and post about it for everyone to see.  That way everyone can see for themselves what went on beyond the inanity being slung around the internet and see what she really thinks from her own keyboard.  It'll be fun!- and you'll even get to learn a few new words, like "careerist reviewer".  lol
 
Stay tuned.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth  - Carrie Ryan

This book starts out somewhat normal, as far as dystopians go. We have an isolated village, fenced off from the rest of the world. The rest of the world is full of shambling undead or, as the book likes to refer to them, the Unconsecrated. Okay, cool. Not too bad.

 

It only gets worse from here.

 

Mary’s father is missing, presumed dead, possibly unconsecrated. Her parents had a loving marriage despite the fact that the marriages in the town are mostly arranged. The boys in the town get to pick which girls they wish to marry. With minimal courtship and theatrical ceremony, they are bound together in holy matrimony for the rest of their lives. Mary, of course, has a crush on a certain boy, Travis, who she wishes to catch the eye of. Unfortunately, his brother, Harry, called dibs. Harry’s proposal delays her and when her undead father comes to the fence, it drives her mother into a frenzy. Her mother is bitten.

 

The village is run by a group of creepy nuns, they take Mary’s mother in and allow her to chose if she wishes for a clean death or to become unconsecrated. In her grief, Mary’s mother chooses to stay with her husband and join the legion of the undead. Mary stands vigil as she sickens and turns, out of respect. Mary is then cast into the Sisterhood by her brother as he blames her for their mother’s demise.

 

In the sisterhood, Mary is rebellious and unbelieving of her fate and everything the Sisterhood tells her. When her crush is in a terrible accident, he is brought to a nearby chamber where Mary nurses him back to health and creates intricate stories to whisper to him in the dark. She’s head over heels by the time the mystery deepens.

 

A stranger appears! But, there is supposed to be nothing out there, beyond the fence.

Mary, I should mention, is obsessed with the ocean. To her very core she needs to see the ocean and nothing will stop her. Knowing that people can travel about without becoming undead only adds fuel to the fire.

 

The evil Sisterhood eventually brings the unconsecrated down upon the village. And so, with no village to go back to, Mary heads out onto a fenced in path away from the city. Travis, Cass (her best friend and Travis’s betrothed, even though she’s in love with Harry), Harry, her brother, and her brother’s wife all end up tagging along with. There is still plenty of mystery and tragedy during their travels.

 

At one point, they find another village. Upon investigating, they turn up so many undead that they are forced to take shelter. Mary ends up with Travis, playing house. Yet all she can think of is to be morose and fatalistic. Instead of spending the hours doing exactly what she wanted to do to begin with, she spends them thinking about the lives of the undead outside and how exactly to leave and get to the ocean. Seriously. She now has everything she ever wanted before they left the village and all she can think of is getting to the ocean. Someone needs to slap her.

 

This wasn’t what I was expecting from a zombie book at all. The romance was convoluted and over-complicated. Everyone knew who liked whom. They were just making each other miserable. I have no idea why they would do that. They’re supposed to be friends and relatives. Wake up and knock it off!

 

The action scenes were interesting. I still wanted to find out what happened next.

I want to know where the paths lead, because Mary and company only went down one of them and their mysterious stranger came from another route.

 

The concept was sound and also interesting. The characters were not. The romance was not. The obvious plot twists were not. The book still had a solid base to work from, the subsequent layers just seemed lazy and less thought out.

 

SoSo for me. I may or may not pick up the next one in the series. I am curious about the world as a whole, but I really abhor Mary.