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review 2017-07-13 20:34
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire - Rosamund Hodge

[I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss.]

Hmm, not sure about this one. It’s a retelling of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, in a city that is the last one standing while the rest of the world has been invaded by ‘zombies’, where three families share the power, and where the religious order of the Sisters of Thorn has to perform yearly blood sacrifices in order to keep the undead at bay. It has a mysterious plague that makes people rise again after their death if precautions aren’t taken, and in that city, ‘the Juliet’ is actually a warrior bred from birth through magic rituals, with the ability to sense if someone has shed her family’s blood, and the compulsion to avenge said family member in turn (in other words, she still does a few other things than feigning death, thinking Romeo is dead, and promptly killing herself in turn). Also, she’s doomed to turn mad at some point

All in all, why not? This was interesting. The story itself, though, was kind of confusing, and although it did end up making sense, there were quite a few things I would’ve seen developed more in depth. Such as the Night Games, or the Necromancer (who kind of turned up at the awkward moment), or the Romeo/Paris/Vai trio relationship.

I’m not sure about the characters. I sort of liked the Juliet? Because she had that idea that ‘I’m already dead, and Romeo is dead, so I don’t care about dying because it means I can see him again’, yet at the same time she was quite lively and determined and not actively trying to take her own life while moping; her story is also rather sad (stripped of her name/real identity in a family whose beliefs in the afterlife involve having a name in order to be saved... nice). Romeo, though, was kind of stupid, and Paris way too naive; of the power trio there, the one I definitely liked was Vai (with a twist that was a bit predictable, but eh, he was fun to read about, and I totally agreed with the way he envisioned problems and how to tackle them!). As for Runajo... I don’t know. Determined, too, yet there were several moments when I thought her decisions should have her get killed or cast out or something, and she wasn’t because Plot Device.

(And very, very minor thing that probably only peeved me because I’m French, but... ‘Catresou’ sounds just so damn weird. I kept reading and ‘hearing’ that name as a French name, which sounds exactly like ‘quatre sous’—that’s like ‘four pence’—aaaand... Yep, so bizarre.)

Conclusion: 2.5 stars. To be fair, I liked the world depicted here in general, and that this retelling is sufficiently removed from R & J as to stand by itself; however, it was probably too ambitious for one volume, and ended up confusing.

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-19 14:54
Update - Things that should stay in the closet
The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen

I couldn't go to sleep last night, and The Sugar Queen was within reach.  Even though I had signed off on it, I needed something to settle my brain for a few minutes.

 

I opened to a random page, read a few lines, and nearly heaved this library book against the wall.

 

P. 126

 

Josey went to her purse on the chaise lounge and took out her checkbook.

 

 

I dislike books that contribute to the dumbing down of our language.

 

Of course, by then I was angry and even more awake, so I skimmed through some more of the book until I finally discovered the big secret.  Oh, give me a fucking break!  The main character, Josey, couldn't figure out that

the woman living [sic] in her closet was a ghost?

(spoiler show)

 

I guess maybe this sort of nonsense appeals to readers, since the author is very popular.  It doesn't appeal to me.  I'm glad I only wasted a half hour on the rest of this book.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-12 22:18
Good Idea, Atrocious Execution
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe

 

The book has over 500 reviews on Amazon, with a 4.1 star average rating. The five-star ratings account for 41% of those, which is reasonably impressive.  My review isn't going to impact that very much, and that's not my intent.

 

This review will also be filled with spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

 

First major spoiler:  The dog is okay.  Nothing bad happens to him.  There's another spoiler about him later.

 

I finished the book, which is more than I do with many of the books I start.  Many of them don't hold me for two pages.  So there's that.

 

I liked the premise: Academic Connie Goodwin inherits her grandmother's old house in what was Salem Village, Massachusetts and goes on a search for a 300-year-old book with some connection to the Salem Witch Trials. 

 

The writing was competent, if a little heavy on the description.

 

That said, it wasn't long before I began to have problems even as I continued reading.

 

Connie is a young woman, in her early to mid 20s, and she has been in school virtually all her life.  The last few years in grad school have been by choice: she wants to continue to study and earn her PhD.  She doesn't come across, however, as a dedicated scholar.  Once she completes her oral exam and is cleared to begin her dissertation, she seems to forget all her academic training and lose all her scholarly motivation.  Is it because it's summer break?  It shouldn't be, because working on that dissertation should be her single primary focus now if she's truly dedicated to her scholarship.

 

However. . . .

 

She receives word from her mother Grace, a free spirit hippie type living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that the house that had belonged to Connie's grandmother, Sophia, needs to be prepared for sale after sitting vacant for 20 years since Sophia's death.  Since the house is in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Connie is at Harvard in Cambridge, she is delegated to the task for the summer.  She heads there with her roommate Liz and her dog Arlo.

 

There's no real explanation for why the place wasn't sold when Sophia died or why it's being sold now.

 

It was at their arrival at the house that I lost my willing suspension of disbelief (WSOD).

 

 

The rest of the very lengthy review is at

 

 

https://fearlesslyintelligent.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-physick-book-of-deliverance-dane-by.html

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review 2017-04-04 01:12
The Mermaid Murders by Josh Lanyon
The Mermaid Murders - Josh Lanyon

OK, no more serial killer mysteries by Josh Lanyon for me - or books where both MC's are law enforcement. Winter Kill didn't work for me at all, and now Mermaid Murders annoys me almost as much.

 

I think there are certain things that really bother me in a procedural type of book that I can overlook in other genres. Things like physical impossibilities - sensing when someone is looking at you, for example, or knowing a bunch of stuff you couldn't know from someone's expression or tone of voice. Procedurals are supposed to be tightly plotted and carefully constructed.

 

Also, the editing could use some help - people keep having the same conversations they already had, and forgetting things and re-figuring them out. I am guessing that happens when the author moves events around and then doesn't go back to make sure everything flows in the right order. 

I can accept Adrian English running off to be TSTL, but it irks me when an FBI agent does it. Also Jason's boss acts like a cartoon villain. I expect him to want to kill Moose and Squirrel in a minute.

 

This one has really good ratings, so I'm guessing it's me and not the book.

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review 2017-01-26 18:03
The Doormat and the Jerk
Through the Zombie Glass - Gena Showalter

2.4 stars- barely based on lowlife characters and TSTL actions

Zombies hunters vs zombies and evil scientist.

This book sucked like a black hole

I loved the idea, the spirt hunting, the different abilities awakening and the possibilities. The action was there, I was on the edge of my seat more than once. But why bring in abuse, and ridiculous actions into the story. I was rolling my eyes at the jealousy, the he-slut moves and the stupid thinking of this girl.

 Ali, stupid, hormonal virgin Ali.  I cut bits of stars off for each completely stupid move Ali made. Ali, the special little snowflake acted like a brat. Taking matters into her own hands, after being warned it was a bad bad thing. She would run off into the fire and placed everyone in serious danger. I was generous and gave her a few free chips because of her age, she suffers from high school level hormonal drama. 

Cole, the macho he slut was such a complete jerk. I'd beat him bloody with anything in reach if he treated my daughter that way or one of her friends. His character was repulsive and I worry that some young mind might find his actions ok. I thinking about cutting another star off right now. I was miffed that the author made his turdness acceptable to the group of slayers/friends. I would have liked to see a stronger character backlash, not the "oh he loves me so I'll forget everything" bit. He used girls, emotionally and physically and brushed it off like it was nothing, and this is the hero ? She looked into his eyes and saw longing  making all he did disappear. REPULSIVE ! As I'm recapping my experience I'm getting angrier. I'm not sure I want to finish the series.

I do not find abusive characters entertaining, and even less so to a young character who might connect with a reader.  I like the story, despise the direction of the characters. Ali is doormat that asked for more, her great love is a dirty pair of boots.

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