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review 2014-10-12 16:29
Until You (Fall Away, #1.5) - Penelope Douglas

I found Bully perturbing in many ways -- the seemingly inevitable slut-shaming, the horrific double standard (which is apparently a theme in Douglas's work -- every single plot is Man-Whore vs. Good Girl), and the cruelty and violence. Still, the story was damn interesting, and I was eager to continue the series. After this book though, and skimming parts of the next, I may be done.

Not only did I hate Until You, but its blatant, convoluted attempts to address every complaint made about Bully just made me more conscious of everything I had disliked; instead of making me more sympathetic to the main character through showing his point of view, I wound up loathing him and every single character in the book. (It's appropriate that this included the heroine's best friend, who had seemed misguided but genuinely caring in Bully -- she's going to be the heroine of a future book, and thus apparently simply must be utterly loathsome.) The number of lampshades hung is ludicrous -- no, no, Jared doesn't think of women as disposable, though he clearly does. No, no, he isn't slut-shaming, though he clearly is. No, no, he didn't actually have sex with all those other girls he was pawing while Tate was around, because he just loves her SO MUCH he can't even bear the thought.

The terrible narration of the audiobook didn't help: Jared sounds like a whiny little boy, making it impossible to believe everyone obeys him and all girls are dying to have sex with him. I don't think it was just the crappy narrator, though. Tate's voice in Bully made the two of them interesting people, despite how fucked up they are. Jared's voice shows him to not think of anything other than his wrongs and how much he loves and hates Tate. He's a fantasy, not a person, and a nasty fantasy to boot.

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review 2014-04-03 11:30
Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

"The tan carpet was stiff and black with stripes of dried blood, spattered like a Jackson Pollock canvas. The walls were streaked with it, handprints smearing their dingy beige surfaces. And the bodies. Dozens of bodies. People she’d seen every day since kindergarten, people whom she’d played tag with and cried over and kissed were lying at odd angles, their bodies pale and cold, their eyes staring like rows of dolls in a shop window."

 

There's a lot of blood in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. There's a lot of fangs-tearing-throats-out, stringy gore and insides exposed to the world. But beneath it all is fluff. This book is built on a foundation of fluff. And as far as I'm aware that is not a very stable building material.

 

Tana wakes up after a night of drunken partying to find the bodies of all her friends torn apart by vampires. But then in Tana's world, vampires are a constant threat. An outbreak of vampirism has swept the globe leaving humans afraid to leave their homes after dark. With her infected ex-boyfriend and a random stray vampire in tow, Tana heads to Coldtown - one of many quarantine areas where all vampires and all infected are legally required to go to keep the rest of the population safe. What follows is a confused fumbling for some kind of point to what has happened and a rather half hearted romantic story line with some mild threat along the way.

 

Tana is a pain in the ass. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is written in the third person so it's kinda difficult to grasp what the fuck is actually going through Tana's brain when she puts a live and bloodthirsty vampire in the trunk of her car and then drives around with him just hanging out in there. Her judgement drops down a further notch from "insanity" to "officially brain-dead" when she invites him to drive while she falls asleep on the passenger seat. These are not the happy-clappy sparkling-in-the-sunlight, drinking-deer-blood vampires focussed on family unity we all came to know and hate when we had Twilight foisted upon us. These are dangerous, vicious killers. Tana had her arm ripped open by her own infected mother:

 

"That was seven years ago. The doctors told her father the memory would fade, like the big messy scar on her arm, but neither ever did."

 

And yet, Tana shows zero caution when dealing with this creature. Ditto for her recently turned and highly dangerous ex-boyfriend, her being perfectly happy for him to waltz around a very busy tourist destination on their way to Coldtown and giggling it off when he lunges for her throat multiple times. Tana spends a lot of time giggling inappropriately, like when people have died, when people are about to die and when people are in the process of dying. Death is treated with a lighthearted chuckle throughout this book. But this makes no sense. Tana has witnessed the seven years long grief of her father over the death of her mother. Why doesn't she hold more value in human life ?!!

 

"If she was going to die, she might as well die sarcastic."

 

Uhm. Okaaaay. I guess as long as Tana manages to have a right good laugh before she's dismembered and fed upon by a savage creature of the night, it'll all work out fine. For a book so packed with descriptions of open wounds, blood geysering from torn arteries and brutal stabbings there really isn't a whole lot of menace or urgency because death is dealt with so casually. I felt no more than a sense of mild alarm from most of the characters throughout and this really took the edge off the tension.

 

There's the usual relationship drama - girl falls in love with a murderer. You know what I'm talking about. I'm getting real tired of this shit. Shit like this:

 

"Allow me to explain how my whole life has prepared me for this moment. I am used to girls screaming, and your screams - your screams will be sweeter than another’s cries of love."

 

What. The. Fuck.

 

This is how Gavriel - the random vampire Tana brought along for the ride - rolls it seems. Gavriel is an ancient Russian vampire. He has killed countless people. He is self-centred, vindictive and aggressive. So Tana falls in love with him. Natch. What's with all these chicks making eyes at criminals?!! What's with all these girls who have no care for their own self preservation?!! I don't get it. Am I missing something ?!! Is there something hot about dating a guy who could jump up and murder me when I least expect it ?!!

 

But, hey !! In this reality - murder is cool. It's glamorous. TV shows and Youtube videos are being made about life inside Coldtown, depicting it as one epically rad non-stop partay. These Coldtown vampires are celebrities, admired and loved by all for their bloodlust and swagger. I really don't get this either. These creatures have torn the world apart, have killed loved ones and destroyed communities and yet there's message boards and forums and whole websites for people who want to be just like them. Why ?!! Please help me understand - why would anyone aspire to hunt down and savagely kill people by biting them to death ?!! I'm very confused.

 

I'm also very confused about what the fuck actually happened about two thirds of the way into this book. The story seemed to implode into a giant black hole of nothingness. It became very convoluted with a lot of flitting from one place to the next without actually getting a whole lotta shit done. And the twist ?!! Crap. Epically crap. One of the most boring surprises (if I call it that) in literary history. I did not give a single fuck. Not one. Behind all the gore and all the atmospheric lighting there's really not a whole lot going on. The plot moves at snail's pace because there's not enough of it to drive the story forward. There's a helluva lot of info-dumping, long and meandering backstory and running, just running without any substance. Extra characters were thrown in, it appeared to try and add some urgency but really no. Just no. This only made for a poor attempt to grasp at some meaning and reason for Tana's ridiculous actions. I wasn't buying it. Especially as the conclusion basically added up to Tana murdering a guy and then immediately heading down the disco with all her mates to party the night away. What the actual fuck was that ?!!

 

My two stars are awarded for Holly Black's great writing. The description was awesome and the dialog was tight. But other than that this read a lot like another tired, well trodden story of a bunch of "cool" vampires prancing around and chowing down on humans with little consequence. I was not amused.

 

See y'all after !!

 

x

 

 

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review 2014-02-22 17:15
Breathe Into Me by Sarah Fawkes
Breathe into Me - Sara Fawkes

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from netgalley.

 

I have very little good to say about this book. We'll start with little good there is - it's not badly written. The author does seem to have some reasonably accomplished writing skills and if I had enjoyed the stories/characters more, I can see myself enjoying one of her books.

 

The problem with this book is that it is both completely unoriginal and I felt utterly disconnected from all of the characters. There was nothing about the book that I found emotionally compelling - it seemed like all of the characters were arms length, and all of the characters were basically caricatures. I can sum each of them up in one word::

 

Lacey: victim

Everett: savior

Grandma: abusive

Mother: useless

Macon: abuser

 

The basic story line is so, so, so well-worn that I barely even need to describe it: damaged but beautiful heroine meets hero when he saves her from her abusive boyfriend. She continues to need saving - she loses her job and gets thrown out of her home by her vicious, hateful grandmother - and hero obliges.

 

The book is a constant see-saw of Lacey gets something good going, the bottom falls out, there is a coincidence or a lucky break that saves her at the last minute, wash, rinse, repeat. It hits all of the NA highpoints: an attempted sexual assault, a completed sexual assault, cyber-bullying, child abuse, an alcoholic parent who is unable to care for her children.

 

I am certainly glad that I do not live in this fictional town, where all men are capable of sexual assault, all women (except one) are terrible friends or judgmental, mean gossips, and no one ever intervenes in a situation where a child is obviously being subjected to criminal child abuse.

 

Which brings me to a specific complaint. I don't usually bitch about factual inaccuracies in books but... sometimes I do bitch about factual inaccuracies in books. This is one of those times because there is a gross factual inaccuracy related to the legal system in this book that could have been resolved by the author picking up the phone and reaching out to someone who could assist her in understanding how the child protection system actually works. Or, even, googling it.

 

It's something called "mandatory report of child abuse" which is pretty much universal these days. In the book, there is a teacher who is quite certain that Lacey's younger brother is being physically abused. Teachers are mandatory reporters under Mississippi law (where this book is set). It took me precisely one google search to find this:

 

Who may report a suspected case of child abuse?

 

In accordance with Section 43-21-353 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, "Any attorney, physician, dentist, intern, resident, nurse, psychologist, social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist, child caregiver, minister, law enforcement officer, public or private school employee or any other person having reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a neglected child or an abused child, shall cause an oral report to be made immediately by telephone or otherwise and followed as soon thereafter as possible by a report in writing to the Department of Human Services, ..." (emphasis mine).

 

A teacher is a school employee. The teacher who hates Lacey because she believes Lacey is abusing her brother would be required to report the suspected abuse to the authorities. What happens then? Well, of course, it is inconvenient for the plot line of the book, but a child protection worker comes out and there are some specific things that occur to ensure that Lacey's baby brother is safe.

 

This bugs the crap out of me. If an author is going to use rape, or abuse, or child abuse, or even alcoholism, as a plot element, then it is incumbent upon them to do the research so that their plot element is convincing. So that it rings true.

 

Anyway, enough of that. There is another inaccuracy, but I'll leave it alone.

 

Tl/DR version: trite, been there done that, sexual abuse/rape casually used as a angst-generator, and no emotional investment in the characters. But it's not horribly written.

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review 2014-02-09 14:00
Up From the Grave by Jeanine Frost
Up From the Grave - Jeaniene Frost

*Spoilers marked.

Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost



=/

Unfortunately, I cannot. I cannot even pretend to care anymore. I wanted to care about this last Cat & Bones installment, but I just don't have it in me.

Truth be told, I was never a diehard fan, just a "regular" fan. I've liked, but have never loved these books. I've liked, but have never loved Cat & Bones. Particularly, Bones has annoyed me repeatedly over the course of the series. I saw him go from kinda hot/interesting hero to completely whiny, insecure man-child. He's gotten a bit better in the last couple of books, but by then, the rest of the story had fallen apart. It's been stretched farther than necessary at this point, so a definitive ending is a blessing.

The series, as a whole, hit its stride, then plummeted down into disappointmentville, and eventually rose back up to just mere mediocrity. It pays to leave your fans wanting more, rather than exasperated and counting the pages until its finally over.

At least it's over now.

I ended up DNF'ing this at 20%. I had my friend Aly completely spoil me, because, though I was bored, I really wanted to know how it all ended. BOY, am I glad I went that route. From her detailed account, I gathered that this book heads into the realm of ridiculousness. It sounds like a lame Lifetime movie crossbred with a cheesy Syfy one. Talk about reaching and left field. Wtf, I say.


Why do authors go out of their way to force HEA's, replete with "childrens", onto their MC's? Why sacrifice a good story to finagle some weird kid into their lives? Why do kids have to even be in the picture? Mangling all that which we know and love about a series just so that the last image we have of the characters is that of them and their offspring walking off into a sunset. Or, in this case, a moonrise. Or whatever. Corny.

And don't get me started on Vlad's storyline. MAN, I loved me some Vlad once. Not so, after his corny-ass spinoff where he became some weird overly-sexual and possessive stranger. What will become of him now? Does anyone care? I'm not invested in his series anymore and even I'm pissed about this new development.

(spoiler show)


Just, whatever.

Anywho, I won't drag this out any further. I wouldn't want the quality of my review to suffer...

Farewell Cat & Bones. No love lost here, obviously.

Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost






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review 2013-12-31 07:16
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman
These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman,Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

Literally, for the entire book, I almost gave a fuck, but almost doesn’t count. And now I'll never get those hours of my life back.

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