Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Two Mini-Reviews and a Not-So Rory Curtain Review

By Noelle

Ever finish a book and not have much to say? Talk about a blogger's worst nightmare. But somehow, even when I don't have much to say, I always  have something to say so here are a few words on some books I've finished lately.  Rambling, engaged!

Mini-Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
The Madman's Daughter #1 
Reviewed by Noelle: March 19, 2013
Published January 20, 2013 by Balzer & Bray
Goodreads • Buy at AmazonKindleBook Depository

Okay first of all, a warning---the animal cruelty in this one is hard to take.  Do you know what a vivisection is?  You will after reading this book.

This is a reimagining of the classic The Island of Doctor Moreau (spoilers in link!) and while I haven't read the original I knew enough to expect science experiments gone horribly wrong, an intense, claustrophobic stuck on an island with god knows what atmosphere and hopefully a lot of suspense and intrigue.  And while I got those things for the most part, I also got...a Love Triangle.

I guess if there is only one female of marriageable age on an island there's bound to be some competition for her affection but the amount of thought Juliet spends on her love interests really bummed me out.  After years of scrapping by with just her wits and survival instincts, Juliet manages to finally reunite with her estranged father (who disappeared under shady circumstances and horrible rumors).  Now she's stuck with him on a remote island with a LOT of weird things going on including secret experiments and someTHING killing everyone in the woods but she somehow has time for hourly inner debates over which boy is her number one crush?   I get being swept away by hormones but to me the fear of disembowelment proves to be one of the most effective cold showers of all time.

Credit where credit is due, Juliet can be pretty entertainingly ruthless within the love triangle.  For example: she and Bachelor #2 are racing through the jungle running away from a horrible monster who claws people's hearts out of their chest. Suddenly, she finds herself separated from Bachelor #2 and has the epiphany that if she runs in the water there will be only one trail for the monster to follow--Bachelor #2's trail.  I laughed out loud.

Unfortunately, Juliet's ruthlessness gets hypocritical at times, especially at the end.  There are parts of the story I really did enjoy such as the exploration of what was really going on with her father and the island and I actually really liked the ending--including surprisingly enough, how the love triangle resolved itself. Though now that I know this is a series, I might take that part back.  I'll probably consider this as a standalone novel and leave it at that. Rating: 3/5 stars

Mini-Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab
The Archived #1
Reviewed by Noelle: March 19, 2013
Published January 22, 2013 by Hyperion
Goodreads • Buy at AmazonKindleBook Depository

I'm going to let Goodreads explain this one:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

Sounds awesome, right?  But despite the really creative concept and setting, I just couldn't get fully invested in this one.  I had to return it to the library 200 pages in and almost didn't pick it up again two weeks later when it became reavailable.  I get easily frustrated with stories where the plot necessitates that no one talk to each other about what they know and there were a lot of holes in the whole history of Histories and why things are the way they are in the Archive (which granted might be purposeful for suspense but left me pretty irritated and confused at times).

Plus, another love triangle? This time it's with Bachelor #1 constantly talking about how attractive he was (seriously it got as bad as 3 times in a page and a half) and Bachelor #2 being unavailable in every sense of the word but alas, super hot.  Granted, if I had realized that Bachelor #1 was more of a love interest with a question mark than a Love Interest all capital letters I would probably have given him more of a break but still--the dude wears guyliner. I did appreciate that (non-triangle) Roland was basically David Tennant's Dr. Who, so points for that!

Entertaining at times but didn't grab me by the Goodreads, know what I mean?  This is another first in a series that can mostly be treated as a standalone and for now, I plan to do just that. Rating: 3/5 stars.

Rory Curtain Extracurricular Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop
The Others #1
Reviewed by Noelle: March 19, 2013
Published March 5, 2013 by NAL Hardcover
Goodreads • Buy at AmazonKindle • Book Depository

Not so fast Taylor Doose--put away that Rory Curtain.  What, you say? An urban fantasy without smut? Is that even allowed?!  Yes, readers, it is and I for one really liked the results.  Now before you boo hiss your way stage left, let me assure you, there is a smut foundation built in this one and I feel pretty confident that smut construction will start in the sequel (at the very least romance permits have been filed) and I am definitely going to stick around to find out.

This is an urban fantasy that feels and reads more like a high fantasy.  The world building is very complicated and there is a lot of info to digest about the world and character dynamics.  In short, I'm not even going to try to explain it all here.  Just know it involves a highly advanced species (The Others) that can shape-shift and in the process have begun to take on the characteristics of certain species that are their go-to shifts.  The author really nails the animal mannerisms with some charming and hysterical results.

The heroine is a blood prophet that's on the run and has to take shelter with the Others, as scary as they may be.  At first, the heroine had a few personality traits from her sheltered existence that were pretty frustrating but as she learns the ins and outs of her new situation she really came into her own.

I loved how the Others were actually scary and appreciated the unpredictability of their interactions with the humans.  Rating: 3.5/5 stars (rounded up on Goodreads for GRUMPY PONIES--and for being the only series of these three I'm definitely continuing.)

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