Stitching Snow was an extremely enjoyable retelling of Snow White with some other elements tossed into it. It gave me the impression of a Star Wars-esque YA space epic and reminded me a little of Marissa Meyer's Cinder (of which I adored).
Essie is a mechanic who has her skills in computer tech and engineering. I always have a great respect for authors who create young girls with these skills. Living on the mining world of Thanda, Essie's goal is to survive life and blend in; she cannot draw attention to herself.
At least that was the plan until Dane crash-lands on her turf and changes her life. At first he seemed like a dimwitted nice guy, just hanging around while she helped him fix his ship. But we soon learn, after Dane kidnaps Essie, that she isn't just some random common girl with a knack for tech.
Essie is Princess Snow from the planet Windsong; she disappeared eight years ago and King Mathias (who turns out to be quite the rat bastard) has been searching for her ever since. Her disappearance sparked the opportunity for Mathias to go to war with the Exiles (or Candarans) of whom he fears because they have the ability to "body-hop" into others' conscious minds. A group of Candarans living in the their embassy in Windsong at the time were imprisoned because of Princess Snow's disappearance--it seems that they were blamed for kidnapping the princess.
Now Dane is determined to bring Essie back to Windsong as a trade to set the imprisoned Candarans free. But he soon learns that Essie's disappearance was tied to darker reasons than he had suspected. Apparently, eight years ago when Essie ran away from her home, Queen Olivia had ordered the young princess's death in secret.
There are a lot of plot twists in this book that range from the "Snow White" fairy tale of the Evil Queen wanting Snow White dead for superficial reasons; to the potential for war between planets in the system; to an even higher and less forgiving conspiracy within the Windsong kingdom that King Mathias has created to keep himself in power.
There is no lacking of action in the story progression, making it easy to just keep right on reading until the penultimate conclusion. Fortunately, the book was planned quite well and nothing seemed out of control or out of nowhere.
There were a few plot lines that seemed to fizzle out, however, and I was left with open-ended "choose your own conclusions" to those plot lines. Not that they mattered much since they weren't the main conflict... but sometimes you like to know.
The book is very Essie-centric, which is fine with me since I like a good, strong, independent heroine who saves the world and saves the day. But because she was such a powerful individual on her own, as a character, as a person, and as the main character, she overshadowed everyone else. Sure, she had her flaws and she had to develop through them; Dane was a stronger fighter than she was and needed to help hone her combat skills.
But the point is that Essie went through so much character development that every other character (excepting her drones) seemed to pale in comparison.
Dane was a great guy and an amazing love interest (after you get past the part about him kidnapping Essie and forgive him for that because he had his reasons and was not well informed of all situations). I feel like the romance on his side developed a little quickly, but I'll take it because he doesn't push, and he doesn't angst, and he doesn't mope. He's right there beside Essie through her entire ordeal. Which is great. But he was kind of boring for it.
There were all sorts of potential for great characters in the rest of Stitching Snow as well. Kip could have been fleshed out more, just as Laisa, Brand, Theo, or even the King and the Queen. But they were very typical, standard hero story background character types.
This book was basically "All About Essie" and all the character development and personality quotas were used to create an amazing heroine with strengths, weaknesses and character.
The only other characters that even stood a chance next to Essie were her drones: Dimwit, Cusser, Clunk, Clank, Whirligig, Ticktock, and Zippy. They were her "Seven Dwarves" and they each had their own upgraded personalities that made them stand out and unforgettable and freakin' adorable! I even stand that Dimwit and Cusser probably had more personality than Dane, Kip, and the whole Candaran council combined.
The drones were Essie's best friends and just seemed to "be there" when she needed them to be. There were FEELS to be had between Essie and her drones. It was pretty great!
Overall: Stitching Snow might not have been the best retelling out there, but it was unique and very well created. The tech and the worlds and the cultures were pretty awesome with tons of room for potential. I would have loved to learn more about Garam and Candara; I would have loved to meet more of the Windsong citizens and soliders. I would have loved to travel Thandan and see the rest of the mining communities, the Ascetics, the more prosperous, livable cities...
I would also love to have a Dimwit of my own. And a Cusser. I've grown to love those drones more than the actual human beings of the Stitching Snow world.
Leading the demolition of a long-empty New York building that once housed a makeshift shelter for troubled teenagers, Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s husband uncovers two skeletons wrapped in plastic. And by the time Eve’s done with the crime scene, there are twelve murders to be solved.
The victims are all young girls. A tattooed tough girl who dealt in illegal drugs. The runaway daughter of a pair of well-to-do doctors. They all had their stories. And they all lost their chance for a better life.
Then Eve discovers a connection between the victims and someone she knows. And she grows even more determined to reveal the secrets of the place that was called The Sanctuary—and the evil concealed in one human heart.
After the disappointing Thankless in Death, I took a break from the series. I was burnt out on serial killers and there was not much police work going on in that book. With Concealed, all I can say is "Welcome Back JD....I missed you!"
What set apart this serial killer-ish murderer from the last is that the motivation for the killings was much deeper and I liked the cold-case file aspect of the story. There was not over the top chase scenes or final police operation/sting that usually ends an ...In Death book. It was a very quiet and sad ending, but one that fit this case; for me it was satisfying, but I can see how Eve Dallas and other readers may have wanted more from the villain.
I like seeing more of Mavis in this book - her part in the story has given her character more weight and she has come a far distance from the flighty BFF of Eve's in those early books. I also like that the cast of characters for the mystery parts of the book stayed in the single digits; sometimes these stories get carried away with the amount of potential villains.
Overall, I didn't want to put this book down. It was a quieter book than the last few, but the quiet suited the story rather than muted it. 4 stars.
Happy 20th Anniversary to the ...In Death series and JD Robb/Nora Roberts!
Twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is out of her element in this, the seventh installment, of Alan Bradley's series. The start of the novel has her on a ship, mid-way across the Atlantic, bound for Canada, where she will be starting her education at Miss Bodycote's Female Academy. She barely has time to settle into her new home when a body comes tumbling down from the chimney, wrapped in the Union Jack, with an animal scull replacing its head. Her homesickness is gone at the prospect of a mystery to solve and she gets right to work. Her investigations reveals students gone mysteriously missing from Miss Bodycote's, a secret society, and a teacher with a murderous past.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Flavia's personality was just what we've come to know and love - she's precocious, quick on her feet, and not afraid of anything. The development of the other characters - her classmates, her teachers, and even the headmistress - were all wonderful and it was very easy to distinguish one from another. Miss Bodycote's school and the surrounding city are described in wonderful detail, right down to the general store run by the woman who is entertained by Flavia's "charming" accent.
I was a bit disappointed, however, in how disjointed this book felt from the rest of the series. Without access to her attic laboratory, Flavia finds herself without the solace of chemistry for most of the book. The mystery itself sometimes seems illogical, and I'll also freely admit that I missed Buckshaw! The characters, the setting, the dependable Dogger and Gertrude...the story arcs that had been built up over the series were seemingly abandoned, and this new setting didn't feel quite like home. Things were touched upon briefly during this novel that I wish had been expanded upon, namely Harriet's time at the school and her participation in the Nides, the secret society that Flavia is there to become a part of as well. Secrets were not elaborated on, and I hope that Bradley plans on returning to those story lines for more detail.
In the end, I love this series and so I enjoyed the book. I can't wait, however, for Flavia to be back at Buckshaw, where she belongs.
(I received an advanced copy from Bantam via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
I had issues keeping up with this book because it started off being a little flat at the beginning. I especially had trouble believing in the credibility of Nikki Heat being roadblocked in her investigation so easily--somehow, I had the distinct feeling that Kate Beckett wouldn't have been cowed so easily like that, even at the expense of pissing off her Captain. Then again, I was also under the impression that Captain Montrose was definitely very un-Montgomery-like in this book and it irked me a little bit.
All that Kate Beckett spunk seemed to have evaporated.
No matter though. It was quite interesting trying to find all the parallels between the book and the television series, even if things didn't seem to fit in quite right.
I liked the previous book more so than I liked Heat Rises, and it could be because the investigation felt stalled in several moments throughout this book. Nevertheless, it's still a vast improvement from the first book in the series, and we get to see more development in the characters, even if they still don't quite compare with the television series' characters.
The murder case was a more conspiratorial one, starting with the death of a priest with connections to an old murder case that was blown off as related to gang violence, and then finally the danger of Nikki Heat being targeted because of her dogged investigation of the murders.
It's fairly standard crime thriller fare, but it had its moments of intrigue and excitement. I'll give it that much.
You can see where this book might have taken a page from Castle with the ending of Season 3. And also, it borrows the idea of a murder being blown off as gang-related violence, via Detective Beckett's mother's murder... which may or may not have more conspiratorial possibilities lingering in the background as well.
Overall: Enjoyable as enjoyable does.
And really, the only reason I decided to even write a sloppy, short thoughts piece for this book was because I wanted to give a shout out to the very brief Firefly reference in the last 25% stretch of this book. Really, it was only a sentence, but it was there.
And also, there was a scene of dialogue that really tickled my funny bone and had me guffawing... for whatever reason:
"Oh, very cold. Be glad you not have goldfish," he said. "Mrs. Nathan, she have to move her goldfish to Flushing."
Rook said, "Is it me or is there something sad about hearing goldfish and Flushing in the same breath?"
Obviously, I'm easily amused...