Category: Three stars

Abandon represents a fun- yet troubling- genre mix-up

Abandon represents a fun- yet troubling- genre mix-up

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

The author of the book is for once very important to this review: Meg Cabot! I’ve never read anything by her, but I know the name, and realizing she’d written this generic-looking para-ro book gave me pause. She wrote the Princess Diaries, a series which became a movie which I have seen heaps of nostalgia for and love. Without ever touching any of her contemporary teen-tween girl books I knew she was known for humor, lightness, fun, and quirky narration.

So what was she doing writing Abandon? This book screams para-ro boom of the early 2010s, from design to title to plot, yet is met in the middle by Cabot’s signature style. In the mix of an ugly love interest and his fairly abusive actions is genuinely funny dialogue. Despite the insta-love romance, there are bits of satisfying, true emotional moments regarding coming of age and being a teen girl. Even with the confusing, cartoon-ish bits, there’s real wit and good writing shining through.

Like, maybe I just liked this because I’d just finished a particularly bad quartet, but the writing is so good I found myself not caring as much as I should have about how bad the romance was. I liked the voice too much. Plus, it’s a short and snappy read.

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Torment offers a glimpse of a far better series

Torment offers a glimpse of a far better series

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

Even I’m scratching my head at this rating, folks. The second Fallen book is actually kind of decent. I enjoyed it. It made me want to keep reading the series, when I was sure I only picked it up to get lore missing from book one and put the story down forever. But no, I anticipate I’ll be reading the rest of the quartet now.

What did it? Well, this book took the good elements of the first book (few and far between, but: good friends, supernatural elements) and added a couple things really up my alley. For one, it takes place at a small school for nephilhim, who have only weak magical powers but still get weird lessons on biblical history and controlling shadows, all in preparation for the ‘end of days’. To avoid favoritism, the school is taught from a neutral point of view, with the two teachers being an awesome married couple of an angel/demon who never the less plan to fight to the death in the apocalypse. This is a really fun concept. It’s also nearly the exact set up of a book I wrote, Good Angel, so you know… it’s a concept I’m into.

Also, there’s a lot of deeper introspection from Luce, who starts to think about her relationship with Daniel and all the Unfortunate Implications that go with it. Especially that, since she’s reborn and dies every 17 years, she has a series of relatives and parents who are left grieving her. Daniel is essentially the world’s most specialized serial killer, and it’d good how she comes to resent and grow angry at the bad power structure they have.

Continue reading “Torment offers a glimpse of a far better series”

I know we wanted a Nikolai duology, but King of Scars isn’t it

I know we wanted a Nikolai duology, but King of Scars isn’t it

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

King of Scars, for the uninitiated, is the latest in the ever growing Grishaverse- at this point three series and a short story collection, both linked and not. This is not a book you can read without familiarity to the world- both the original Shadow and Bone trilogy and at least the first book of Six of Crows. As the other two stood relatively separate, this book represents the first real crossover between the two different tone/writing series, and the first book to mark a real ‘epic fantasy saga’ stepstone in the Grishaverse. SaB and SoC both can stand without the other and wrap up their storylines, while this is far closer to a sequel: book 6 of the saga, if you will.

It’s written to have it’s own plot, but there’s few new characters or concepts, and the entire story, while with a degree of separation, is based on conflicts and plot points of the past. To someone with an imperfect memory of SaB and who only read the first SoC, I understood the plot points that came up- but only because of narrative reminders. This book is officially drenched in lore.

This is all my set up. Here’s my short before the proper review: King of Scars was one I was solidly looking forward too. I had a crush on Nikolai from the SaB trilogy, and I’m pretty sure I even wrote Bardugo a fan letter back in the day declaring Nikolai should forever remain single, so I had a chance of marrying him. Anyways. Fan favorite Nikolai is back in this duology, but he’s just a different person, the plot isn’t that centered on him, and the story jumps the shark entirely by the halfway point. This book is too long, with a messy story and some fraught character choices, but picks up by the end and still contains plenty of enjoyable moments and characters. It’s imperfect, and to a degree frustrating as someone who was looking forward to it quite a lot.

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The sublimely vexing world of Immortal City just keeps drawing you back in for more

The sublimely vexing world of Immortal City just keeps drawing you back in for more

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

I need to start a podcast about the worldbuilding choices in this book. Immediately.

Angels arrived 100 years ago and have lived among humanity ever since, replacing celebrities in our modern sense as the elite, beloved upper class. We’re not given a lot of information about the exact history of this, or how it went down, but I need answers.

What’s international politics like when the majority of the world’s live-in immortals live in one American city? Hey, what’s city and country politics like on that front? Are there non-angel celebrities? We’re told they showed up during the american civil war because they were upset at seeing ‘brother fighting brother’… so they just ignored all the other horrible events in human history, huh? Hey, also, shouldn’t they have been more upset about slavery? Were any of the angels not white? There’s a line about the suffragette movement- are angels sexist too?

Did WWII happen? Since angels don’t age and can only die in rare circumstances, how rapidly are angel families expanding, and do they have a backup for overpopulation/preventing incest in their bloodlines? What’s angel biology like? How come certain modern brands are listed- Versace, Gucci- but others are changed by the angels in the timeline (SaveTube, A!, Angels Weekly)? Is this timeline pollution why Blackberry phones are mentioned so often in this modern-set book?

It’s said several times angels arrived 100 years ago during the civil war, but that would put the date around 1965- are we to believe that because angels have existed, possibly stopped wars, modern tech has been invented and the story takes place then? Why the insistence on 100 years if it is essentially 150?

Is God real? Are any religions correct? How has no angel come forward and cleared that up, and how is humanity so chill about not having answers?

Considering angels take payment to protect people and save their lives (and are very specific on this with internal laws), are we to believe the angels allowed the holocaust/other atrocities to happen because the victims didn’t pay them?

THERE IS. A LOT. OF QUESTIONS.

Oh, and the rest of the book- YA teen romance- exists too, I guess.

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The Similars is promising, but falls apart with one-note characters

The Similars is promising, but falls apart with one-note characters

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

I received this book for free on Netgalley for a review. I requested it because I thought the cover was *kisses fingertips* fantastically designed, and the summary sounded like the sort of thing I’d like.

I’m struggling to write and rate this properly. I sort of skimmed reviews when I was 25% into the book, and was surprised to see most pointing out a discrepancy between the beginning and the end of the book- but having read it, I agree. The start is a solid 5 stars, and the book declines in quality around 50%, with the very end being… below average quality.

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Time Travellers Strictly Cash is the second Callahan’s book… and fittingly, only has two quality Callahan stories

Time Travellers Strictly Cash is the second Callahan’s book… and fittingly, only has two quality Callahan stories

★★★☆☆

(2.5 stars)

This is a very difficult review to write, for one simple reason: the parts of this book that were good, were good. Other parts I skipped, and while there were reasons for that, I feel I shouldn’t include them in my grading- but then I have to, actually, since they are a part of the whole.

And the whole of this book is disappointing. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon was excellent, and this book could have nearly been excellent if it was actually a sequel. Now, you don’t know this from the back, cover, or anything else, but this book is maybe a third Callahan’s stories, the other 2/3s being miscellaneous short stories and non-fiction.

Yes, non-fiction! That is the part I skipped. Look, they might have been fine, but I didn’t pick up this book to read interviews, essays, and speeches.

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‘The Young Elites? More like Edgy mcEdge-rson’ is what I would have said, if it didn’t turn out to be pretty good

‘The Young Elites? More like Edgy mcEdge-rson’ is what I would have said, if it didn’t turn out to be pretty good

★★★☆☆

(3.5 stars)

The dark young adult fantasy genre is an interesting beast- I don’t really care for the genre, but thoroughly enjoyed The Cruel Prince earlier this year, so when I say the entire, stupidly named Young Elites trilogy for sale in a charity shop for 3 quid, I decided to splurge.

I’m not a scholar of young adult history, but I do follow the genre pretty closely due to friends and using the internet- to my knowledge, this is probably the first major ‘dark fantasy’ book at the start of the current trend we’re on now. At least the first I’ve heard of and seen quite a few times.

I wouldn’t know if I’d call it ‘dark’ more than ‘very edgy’, but around the 60% mark, I got entirely invested and had a good old time. Nearly cried and everything. Oh, Marie Lu- maybe this trilogy will turn out actually good?

Continue reading “‘The Young Elites? More like Edgy mcEdge-rson’ is what I would have said, if it didn’t turn out to be pretty good”