Tag: reading

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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Can we go back in time and ensure Passion is never written?

Can we go back in time and ensure Passion is never written?

★★☆☆☆

(2 stars)

Frankly, it’s unclear why this book exists.

The Fallen series is a quartet, slightly unusual for an era of para-ro trilogies. Typically this genre of book from the early 2010s has a very formulaic pattern: in book one they meet, fall in love, and learn the supernatural elements. In book two not much happens (this is the worst book of the series). Book three is some apocalyptic showdown event.

Maybe it’s good Fallen drove to break ties to that, offering seemingly an entirely different subgenre for each book: book 1 was incredibly boring romance, book 2 was fun adventure, book 3 is time travel, and book 4 is a fetch quest. Still, narrative wise, Passion does not need to exist. This is a book about time travel. Exclusively about time travel.

Ultimately, I can’t fault much concrete grit: the writing is fine, the settings are diverse and have been researched, there’s some degree of character and world building… but from a story arc point of view, this book could have easily been a chapter or two. It did not need to be over three hundred pages of, broader story speaking, nothing.

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An Enchantment of Ravens enchanted me

An Enchantment of Ravens enchanted me

★★★★★

(5 stars)

First, collectively, we’re going to look at that cover. And sigh. It is so beautiful, and having it hardcover with gloss makes it even better. I adore illustrated book covers wholeheartedly, and this one is perfect. Gorgeous. Lovely. I want it on my wall.

Anyhow, fae are ‘in’ right now big-time, and this is a fae book. I’m becoming more sold on fae lore (playing an Eladrin in D&D is the main reason), but I still feel like a lot of YA books with fae in them really miss the mark- I’m thinking of throne of glass, a court of thorns and roses, and shadowhunters right now. Fae lore is wonderful, and most certainly they are more than pallid, too-pretty beings who wear nice clothes (and they certainly don’t have ‘mates’ and ‘mate bonds’. Sarah J. Maas, I will defeat you for writing that in two books).

This book gets it. The rituals, the rules, the bargains, trades, and oddness that fae lore deserves- with the beauty and glam. Even if a lot of that glam is just glamour (haha fairy jokes please clap). It also subverts a lot of tropes I hate in para-ro (the main girl being okay with being immortal and leaving her friends and family behind for a boy, for example). Oh, and it’s funny, and lush, and has a wonderful romance, and a tight plot too.

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The Amulet of Samarkand makes me happy

The Amulet of Samarkand makes me happy

★★★★★

(5 stars)

I was trying to think of a good title for this, but I can’t. I always struggle to leave long reviews for books I actually like, so this will surely be short. I have been recommended this book for years, and I’m so pleased to have actually read it, and own the rest of the books, and be ready to read the rest of the books. I would have DEVOURED this when I was a kid, but I still tore through it now. It’s wonderfully engaging, funny, thought-through, and with top of the line world-building as well. All I need.

Magicians who get their power through enslaved demons. A modern day london with modern day tech, but a whole lot of alternative history. A world where the magical elite dominate the industries and being common is more than just a wealth gap. Also, political intrigue! Murder! Scandal! Conspiracy! Magic!

A lot to love.

This is also one of those books where you can tell everything is carefully plotted- things are introduced in book one that you know are going to build in the later books. I’ve heard this series even has ‘the perfect ending for a trilogy’, which is a big promise, but right now I full-heatedly expect it to pay off.

 

Unearthly could use a few more angels

Unearthly could use a few more angels

★★☆☆☆

(2 stars)

Oh, you know me by now: I love angels, and I read books about angels, and they pretty much always let me down in one way or another. That way being, primarily, a real lack of luster angels. Unearthly is an honest step above a lot of the angel genre, especially for an early 2010s para-ro piece, but like a lot of that era (and the YA genre), it spends too much time on teen problems, not angels. And I’m here for the angels.

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The Girl Before is nothing special, and a touch unpleasant

The Girl Before is nothing special, and a touch unpleasant

★★☆☆☆

(1.5 stars)

I don’t honestly read thrillers as a genre, but this one sounded like it had a hint of techno-thriller to it, which I do like- being a SF/F genre reader personally. It, however, is just a pure new-trend thriller, quite akin to the one other thriller I’ve read (the far superior YOU).

It sold well and is popular for a reason: a simple premise, good writing, a lot of dramatic twists and reveals, and a generally always growing sense of danger. The narrative shifts every chapter between THEN and NOW, a time different of two years, with THEN’s point of view character being dead. We learn about her death in the NOW, but information is spread out deliberately, ramping up the tension of when we’ll see her die.

Again, effective techniques. However, this book seriously falls apart in the latter half, and especially the final quarter and last few chapters. Likable characters become ridiculous. Horrible choices are made. The truth is a complete letdown. I’m going to be mentioning spoilers, so keep an eye out. Also: this book has some real racism things in it (the only two black characters, men, are sexual predators and aggressive) and uncomfortable disability things (a character is heavily encouraged to get an give up her disabled child for adoption, in general Down’s Syndrome is treated as a terrifying, horrible thing for a mother to deal with).

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Pulp Binge: The Silicon Man isn’t the real deal

Pulp Binge: The Silicon Man isn’t the real deal

★★☆☆☆

(2 stars)

THRIFT STORE WHY: The back text seemed interesting- the cover or title sure aren’t. I suppose I was expecting something a little ‘black mirror’ esque. The back text promises a ‘deep in the future people upload their brains into machines to live on forever, but must die in the real world for this to happen’.

BACK COPY LIES (what the plot really is): In a retro style future of about 2050, an FBI agent stumbles into a secret, illegal project to copy human brains into a computer. He tries to shut it down, but is murdered and put into the machine instead. There isn’t a lot to the plot beyond this, and him dying is pretty much the only plot point.

WOULD I RECC TO READ: No. It’s generally engaging, but overall a let-down that leads to a befuddling ending.

Review:

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