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review 2016-03-01 18:29
The Last Of The Firedrakes
The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles, #1) - Farah Oomerbhoy

**An copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

How? HOW does this have such high ratings and favorable reviews? 'Cos this was so bad, you guys. Oh, I should have DNFed. There's an hour of my life I won't be getting back.

It started out, not promising perhaps, but not totally terrible, in a generic fantasy story marginally better written than if written by an average 12 year old sort-of way. And it continued in this vein for the next 350 pages or so, with the addition of about a bajillion hackneyed cliches, an honest to goodness Pixie Hollow (with accompanying names eg. Penelope Plumpleberry), and a terribad romance. Let's look at the story, noting some of the cliches, shall we??

(Okay, not all of this will be totally 100% chronological. I'm only human. And I was speed reading.)

Aurora, an orphan, lives with her horrid adoptive aunt and uncle and cousin. Her uncle sells her to some baddie, who takes Aurora to a magical land, where Aurora discovers she is not only royalty but has inherited both of her parent's powers; she is both a mage AND an immortal fey, the combination of which is practically unheard of. She is also literally the most powerful fey-mage since the bestest and most awesomeest fey-mage whose names escapes me but basically he was super important and powerful. Her aunt wants her dead so she can take over the throne with absolutely no competition from the true heir. (But the "true heir" was in an entirely different fricking WORLD before the aunt brought her to Avalonia.) She falls into Insta!love (she actually refers to him as the love of her life, and her soul mate *gag*) with the Black Wolf, a dashing tall dark and handsome dude who runs around the kingdom doing who knows what but he's got this big huge reputation and he is actually the crown prince in disguise (I didn't see that coming AT ALL) and a total smarmy ass-hat. Aurora can talk with Pegasi, and she has one named Snow, and every scene with those two was dripping in awful saccharine pretty princess Pegasus power hour writing. Aurora is sent to a magical boarding school to learn how to control her powers, and where she encounters an Avalonian version of Draco Malfoy named Damien Blackwater, if memory serves, who blathers on about his pure "bloodline", is a general twat, and whose family is secretly in cohoots with Morgana. (At which point, I was jabbing at the Ipad screen at the rate of probably 20 pages a minute, just scanning the pages, because I was pretty confident there was nothing worth reading past that.) Aurora moons over Rafe, and they make out a bit but it never seems like it comes from any place of actual affection and it's written TERRIBLY. (This, and what was going on plot wise, had started to induce groaning and facepalming.) And then I think we are learning more about this special book of Abraxis that Morgana wants so she can control Dragoth (who is a demon?? I forget) but there are four keys you need to open the book, and she only has one. And then Aurora is an idiot (see below) and opens a portal (to hell?????) and lets Lilith (...like....that Lilith???) into Avalonia, and I don't know, Lilith is gonna use Morgana as a host body, because her wraith form will dissipate or she's weak in wraith form, or something like that. And that's mostly the end.

Aurora is also incredibly stupid. She's on the run from people who want to kill her, but instead of trying to get to someone who can help her, she begs to stay in Pixie Hollow (or whatever it was called) to sightsee the fairy market. Which gets raided by the Shadow Guard and she gets captured. Aurora also decides NOT to tell on one of the girls at the boarding school who let the Shadow Guard in, and is basically a big fat traitor, because.....that would be...tattling??? Oh gosh, there were so many instances of her stupidity, but here's another goodie. Aurora is told that bringing Snow back to life would be "dark magic" aka VERY VERY HELLA BAD DON'T DO IT and she fricking does it, because she neeeeeds Snow back. Well, guess what, Aurora? I hope you're happy that you using dark magic opened a hell portal.

(spoiler show)

Anyways, up till the last 60 pages or so, it was pretty darn bad, but it would have probably gotten two stars, because it was basically just a poorly written generic fantasy amalgamation of tropes and tween dreams when you'd daydream in your backyard about secretly being magical royalty. It wasn't something I would ever recommend, but as a wee girl with very few standards I might have even enjoyed it. Until Aurora and Rafe's gag-o-matic tripe of a "romance" was two-sided, and the plot went completely haywire.

Also worth mentioning is that this reads VERY middle grade, from plot to characters to the writing style, but then some bits felt more like they belonged in a YA? I think maybe this is one of those weird little books that was meant and marketed as YA but comes off as extremely childish and MG.

Thank goodness it's finally over.

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review 2015-06-19 21:29
Sweet, funny, tinged with darkness, hope and love. Pretty much a complete package
How to Start a Fire - Lisa Lutz
I really enjoyed Lisa Lutz's latest, best, and most mature novel and want to encourage you to give it a read.  That said, I'm not really sure how to start this post -- or how to finish it, now that I think about it.  It's not really a plot-driven book, it's more about the relationships between the three main characters, and others in their lives.  But, it's really difficult to talk about the book without talking about the two (maybe three) plot points that drive the whole thing.  
Early on, I jotted down the note, "I'm either going to love or hate this book," and while I stayed in the former camp, I could easily see where some wouldn't (a quick skim of goodreads today, suggests I was right).  This book plays with chronology, skipping around throughout the 20+ year history of the characters (plus some in-chapter flashbacks), with no easily noticeable pattern.  So, in the first few chapters (most of Part One), once I started a new chapter, I'd have to flip back to the first page of the 3-4 previous chapters to make sure I was placing the current one in the right spot on my mental timeline.  Eventually, I didn't have to physically turn the pages, and was able to re-arrange things without much thought -- and I know two other readers that experienced the same
At its core, How to Start a Fire is about the relationships of three women over time, from meeting in college through everything that happens over the next twenty plus years -- ups, downs, fights, make-ups, forgiveness, betrayal, estrangement, personal growth, self-destruction, and the ability of friendship to forget all of that and just care in the moment. To boil it down to its essence: real friendship.
I had to repeatedly remind myself that this was a Lisa Lutz novel, it didn't feel like one. Not any of The Spellman Files or Heads you Lose, this was a totally different creature (not being a mystery novel plays into that, obviously).  Of course, like with my fixation on chronology eventually I got into the book and stopped caring about that.  Most of the humor is different, most of the heart is different -- the types of people are different, too.  Still, the humor is solid, the heart is genuine, and the people are, y'know, people. 
Yet . . . there's no denying the Lutz DNA here. The three main characters were aggressively quirky like Izzy or Rae, Anna 's brother could've been David), and Malcom has a very Henry-esque quality.  There's so much more about the novel to think about than the parallels to the Spellman books. I don't want to focus on it, but I did make those notes at one point.  I think if I hadn't written it down, I'd have forgotten about it by the time I reached the end.
This is Chick Lit that can be appreciated by the non-Chick reader* -- there's a little bit of something for just about everything in these pages, laughs, chuckles, an "Aww" or three, and maybe a something to make your eyes misty.  It's a bit too fresh for me to confirm this, but I'm betting this is one of those novels that rewards re-reads (especially when you're not trying to figure out what's going on in the opening chapters).  Not my favorite Lutz book, but probably her best -- and it demonstrates what many of her readers have suspected: she can write whatever she sets her mind to.  Frankly, I want something back in the comedy/crime area again, but I'll line up for whatever.


* Which is the mark of the best of Chick-Lit -- or any genre -- even those outside the target demographic can appreciate it.
Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2015/06/19/how-to-start-a-fire-by-lisa-lutz
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review 2014-06-02 23:01
Silver - Talia Vance

*DNF at 24 pages* 

Yes, that's right. 24 pages. I don't think I've ever given up on a book so quickly. 

You want to know where I draw the line? When our charming MC is at a party, with plenty of booze and sex to go around for everyone, and her charm bracelet that apparently makes her "invisible to boys" (or some crap about them not noticing her) breaks off, and she starts playing beer pong and the guy there, Austin, who she has never met before, "notices" her and 1 page later they're in a closet, making out and shedding clothes, before they get interrupted by MC's long-time crush, Blake. 2 pages after that, Austin is having sex with one of MC's "friends".

Nope. Nopity nope nope.

So yeah, that was as far in as I got, but if that's how a book starts, count me the hell out. Plus, I did flip through a tiny bit more after that, and UGH NO. I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any better. And not only that, but the writing was pretty atrocious.

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