29 September 2011

Review: My Blood Approves Volumes 1-3 (Spoilers)

After Hollowland I was not too keen on reading anymore books by Amanda Hocking. Still, I think that it is perhaps something I am missing in her work that makes it so popular. So, I give it one more chance and take a look through My Blood Approves. The first book is a surprise, if nothing else - the story is interesting and, despite the spelling and grammatical errors, it's easy to get into the story. I purchased My Blood Approves for $0.99 on Smashwords, which is really what the book should be worth. The subsequent volumes are more expensive, however, at $2.99.


My Blood ApprovesFate (My Blood Approves, #2)My Blood Approves (Vol #1) and Fate (Vol #2)
by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 2 of 5 stars






From Goodreads, for My Blood Approves
Teenager Alice Bonham's life feels crazy after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave, he's unlike anyone she knows. Then she meets his brother, Peter. Even though he can't stand the sight of her, she's drawn to him. Falling for two guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood.

The premise is nothing new, and really nothing special. I found this series more compelling than the others I've read (Switched, and Hollowland) and found it slightly easier to ignore the spelling, grammatical, and tense errors peppered throughout the book. (But only Slightly.)

One of the big issues I have with the main character is, well, her lack of character. Does Alice have no sense of self preservation? She is so flippant in her constant talk of others killing her, and even asks, dares, or begs others to do it. (In more than one instance.) Okay, okay, it's a romance about vampires, I get it. The main character has to have something odd in her head to want that kind of... relationship(?) - but it gets annoying in its repetition. Alice is just so plain and lacks any real character qualities, aside from passive, whiny, and pitiful. She can't seem to do anything for herself, from driving to cooking - someone else must do it for her. She must be genetically susceptible to the virus of Mary Sue, which seems to plague far more heroines than it should. Tragic, really.

There is also a lot of explaining regarding the brands characters wear. Every single time someone changes clothes, we get a list of brands they are wearing. A description makes sense, but this listing of brand names clothes is lazy and does no help at all. I get the sense the clothing is expensive, but the brands do nothing for me - I shouldn't need to look up brand names to figure out what characters are wearing. Dickies or Converse - just tell me it's a t-shirt, shoes, or pair of shorts, and let's move on.

Within the second book, Fate, especially, I get the impression the author doesn't entirely understand what it means to be gay, and holds onto a number of stereotypes or preconceived notions regarding those who are gay or lesbian. The following line, here..

"He sat on my bed with his back to me, and he appeared to be filing his nails, or something equally gay." - Fate (My Blood Approves, #2)

I found the observation from Alice to be somewhat odd, as many others like it littered throughout the series. Okay, yes, there is a character who is gay. We were told this in My Blood Approves, multiple times. (Awkwardly.) It felt like it was a forced addition, to add some kind of depth to the story... but it really doesn't. It's Alice realizing he's gay and "should've seen it sooner" because of  a list of trivial things that have nothing to do with a person being gay. Nail-filing? Really? That falls under personal hygiene which has nothing to do with a persons' sexual orientation.


Flutter (My Blood Approves, #3)Flutter by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Being undead doesn't make life any easier for Alice Bonham.

Her younger brother's love life is heating up, while hers is... more complicated. Mae is falling apart, her best friend Jane is addicted to vampire bites, and if Alice doesn't get her bloodlust under control, someone will end up dead. Alice volunteers for a rescue mission with Ezra. But going up against a pack of rabid vampires might be too much, even for him.


The first two volumes are by far the strongest, and Flutter takes a serious nose-dive in comparison. I will not be reading the fourth, which is out now, as I do not feel the series can be redeemed. There are so many repeating phrases that I could not help but start counting their occurrence, while reading, and it really pushes one away form the story. Too often someone speaks "not unkindly" or curls a lock of hair behind an ear, or asks "are you coming with?" The last question I find annoying on its own, but I understand some people do talk that way - especially younger people. I can't imagine a 300-year-old vampire speaking that way. I can't accept every single character in every book (that I have read) by Amanda Hocking speaking that way. That just doesn't work for me.

Anyway, Alice is a vampire now and is even weaker now than in the previous novels. She has no aspirations to become anything more than she currently is and continues to get things handed to her on a platter. She has no drive to do anything with, or for, herself. The world ends without Jack at her side. One would think becoming a vampire would do something to her, aside from make her hot, apparently.

More in the third book than in the previous, I am asking myself questions regarding the direction of the story. Normally I have a sense of a goal, quest, or change that is upcoming. Here, I don't know what Alice's goals are, where she is going, or the point of the story at all. It's getting to the point where it's Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happens. Near the half-way point for the book, I started to skim - we have gone into Angst Alley and there is a traffic jam. The plot is going nowhere. Plot lines are introduced and them completely forgotten or ignored. I began to believe that the sole point of the series is for Alice to have sex with Jack.

(Spoiler in Hollowland to follow)
And when that finally does occur, the scene seems oddly... familiar. It turns out that it is a near copy of the scene in Hollowland, between Remy and Lazlo near the end of the book.

He kissed my mouth, my neck, my shoulders, everything he could reach, and I moaned against him...Gasping for breath, he relaxed, but he propped himself up so he wouldn’t put the full weight of his body on me. He rested his forehead against my shoulder and tried to gain some composure. When he gently kissed my collar bone, my skin trembled underneath his lips. --Flutter (My Blood Approves #3) 

He kissed my mouth, my neck, my shoulders, everything he could reach, and I moaned against him... Gasping for breath, he rested his forehead against my shoulder and tried to gain some composure. When he gently kissed my shoulder, my skin quivered underneath his lips. --Hollowland

And if that's not laziness, a pure lack in appreciation or respect in ones own readers, I don't know what else could be. Is that not an insult to her readers' intelligence and a lack of care in the work she is releasing for them? Is it so difficult to write scenes of characters having sex that you need to copy from one book to another? Nearly word for word? Now I am done with your books, Amanda Hocking. Your laziness and poor quality of work gets no more money from me. Shoddy work is still shoddy whether its trying to eat your brains, suck your blood, or be a troll. Don't waste your time on any of these books. I was willing to forgive a multitude of other short-comings, but this is just pathetic.

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27 September 2011

Review: Hollowland

HollowlandHollowland by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.


The last book by Amanda Hocking that I read was... not as enjoyable as I would like. Zombies and Horror are not my usual reads but the description caught my attention and seemed interesting enough. It was not until I was a few pages in that I checked who the author was. Oh. Well, her work deserves another chance, I suppose. I shouldn't judge all of what she does on one book, after all... (Plus, I have been hearing Good Things about Amanda Hocking, so perhaps there is just something I missed before.) And then I come across missing words, misspelled words, and odd punctuation within the first 10 pages. This is not a good starting point.

The characters are a little odd, to say the least. Lazlo follows Remy around like a lost little puppy, despite Remy treating him terribly at certain times. Remy, meanwhile, seems a stronger character in the beginning, but that seems to lessen as the story progresses - not that she is wimpy (she is the one in charge, for some reason) but there is something lost. As if her actions don't need justification - no one really speaks against her, or hold their ground with her for long. Also, the supporting characters aren't given much of a background. They have names and vague descriptions, but we aren't really shown much in depth of who they are. It's like Remy doesn't care to think of them, so they don't matter to the story at all. Is she that unobservant?

At one point, a Big Deal is made out of the car running out of gas - the driver is blamed and takes responsibility for it. And repeatedly mentions taking the blame for it. I found this... odd. In the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, where fuel is hard to come by and stations are few-and-far-between, how is anyone at fault for a vehicle -an SUV for that matter- running out of gas? Does no one have a back-bone in this book? Did the virus deteriorate that, too?

I am able to take in that there is a virus that creates zombies - that's no problem. The unbelievability in the story comes from the characters themselves, and their reactions to the situations. It has, at times, more of an "I am doing this because the plot says I should" instead of "I am doing this according to how my experiences tell me to react." And there really isn't a big sense of character development at all. 

There was also some.. pronoun confusion in Hollowland as well. There is a male character referred to as her at one point, and that all goes back to editing and proof-reading. (I doubt it was intentional, given how it was used.) This kind of thing really bugs me, and I doubt this will be the last time I mention it. Unfortunately. 

I liked the sample available on Smashwords enough to purchase the book, but it definitely got worse from that point on. Amanda Hocking is a popular author and has many fans, so there's something there for others. I guess. Samples of her books (around 20-25% of the book) are available to read online before purchase. I'd say it's best to check those out first, along with other reader reviews, to see if any of the stories are for you. The next book in this series should be out October 2011, according to Goodreads, but I don't think I'll be picking up that one. Hollowland was a little too, well, hollow, for me. Amongst other things.

Suggestions for awesome (read: anything is better than this.) post-apocalyptic novel would be greatly appreciated. Bonus points if it's an e-book that I can check out a bit of before-hand.

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25 September 2011

Review: Omnitopia Dawn

Omnitopia Dawn (Omnitopia, #1)Omnitopia Dawn by Diane Duane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
It's the first quarter of the twenty-first century, and "massively multiplayer" on-line games have been around for a couple of decades. In an increasingly wired and computer-friendly world they've become a form of entertainment so popular they're giving television and films a run for the money. And the most popular gaming universe of all is Omnitopia, created by genius programmer Dev Logan.

For millions of people around the world, Omnitopia is an obsession, a passionate pastime, almost a way of life. Omnitopia is a virtual place where dreams come true-players can create their own universes within the game's structure, and participate in the profits if their piece of the universe is a hit. Ten million players routinely play in Omnitopia, and at any given time, nearly a million of them are on-line, living in a world more real to them then their own. 


Now Dev and his people are preparing to rollout a major new expansion to the Omnitopia system. And even as players, staff, the media, and the heavy hitters on the world financial scene wait eagerly for this fast-approaching and momentous event, there are others preparing to play a very different game-one that is meant to strike at the heart of Omnitopia and bring the entire system crashing down.. 

Diane Duane is one of my favourite authors since reading her novel, The Book of Night with Moon. Seeing Omnitopia Dawn on the shelf in Chapters (and I rarely see any of her books in the store - ever) I was fairly certain it would be a book that I would enjoy.

And I was right about that.

And the book was enjoyable, the game-world is vast and amazing, and, if Omnitopia existed, I am sure it would be one that I would invest both time and money into. Much of the novel was spent explaining and describing this world, as well as the lives of the game company's CEO and his rival - the CEO of a competing game company. While all of this was interesting, it did keep things moving at a slower pace than I was expecting.

The action didn't really kick-in until the end, when a battle occurred both in-game and online. This part, however, was the most confusing portion of the book. Compared to everything else it almost seemed rushed - I found myself re-reading some pages more than once as I tried to grasp what was being described to me.

Still, Omnitopia Dawn is a worthwhile read. I will purchase the next in the series, especially since I know more of what to expect, and hope it will be a less-confusing read now that the foundations have been laid out. That's really the only issue I had with the book, overall.


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23 September 2011

Review: Edge of Destiny (and my patience.)

Edge of Destiny (Guild Wars, #2)Edge of Destiny by J. Robert King

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From Goodreads

Destiny Called - They Answered 

In the dark recesses of Tyria, elder dragons have awoken from millennial slumbers. First came Primordus, which stirred in the Depths forcing the asura to flee to the surface. Half a century later, Jormag awoke and drove the norn from the frozen climes of the Northern Shiverpeaks, corrupting sons and brothers along the way. A generation later, Zhaitan arose in a cataclysmic event that reshaped a continent and flooded the capital of the human nation of Kryta. 

The races of Tyria stand on the edge of destiny. Heroes have battled against dragon minions, only to be corrupted into service of the enemy. Armies have marched on the dragons and been swep aside. The dwarves sacrificed their entire race to defeat a single dragon champion. The age of mortals may soon be over. 

This is a time for heroes. While the races of Tyria stand apart, six heroic individuals will come together to fight for their people: Eir, the norn huntress with the soul of an artist; Snaff, the asuran ge­nius, and his ambitious assistant Zojja; Rytlock, the ferocious charr warrior in exile; Caithe, a deadly sylvari with deep secrets; and Logan, the valiant human guardian dealing with divided loyalties. Together they become Destiny’s Edge. Together they answer the call. But will it be enough?


Edge of Destiny is the second book in the Guild Wars series, bridging the gap between the online-role-playing-game, Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. It features a character from each playable race in the game in the main cast, and we are brought right into a world of conflict and tension between these races as they battle a greater evil; dragon. The characters are interesting, the settings are beautiful, and the battles are both fun to read and action-packed.

Sadly, Edge of Destiny is a terribly boring book. I have been reading this for well over a month now, and I am not even halfway through the book. More than a few pages at a time seems like a chore, and no book should feel this way.

It does all the right things, and the battle scenes really keep the novel from being a total trip through Tedium Town. Until we finish the first 1/4th of the book, that is. Despite all the beauty, the problem really is the lack of central character focus. We follow a part of 6 characters and there isn't reason given for those characters' actions. I do not know who Logan Thackeray really is, or what motivates him, and I don't care what happens to him.

I cannot finish this book. I do enjoy (and am a fan of) the game, but.. I really can't do this. This book cannot be saved.

21 September 2011

Review: Cold Magic

Cold Magic (The Spiritwalker Trilogy, #1)Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy. 
Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised, unaware, on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world. 


I discovered Kate Elliott's works when I picked up Spirit Gate (which I started in 2009 and never finished, due to time..) and really enjoyed both her writing style and her way of weaving worlds. Cold Magic was new and the premise seemed intriguing.

I did not immediately get into the story as is was quite slow in starting out, and even somewhat confusing in parts. My favourite portion of the novel was the last half when things finally started happening. I was disappointed, by then, that it seemed to end so soon. I have been eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, Cold Fire, since then. And I'll be searching out that book soon enough.

(I still don't like the cover so much but that's really a personal thing rather than relating to the book itself.)

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19 September 2011

Review: Heroes 'Til Curfew & Impulse Control

Heroes 'Til Curfew (Talent Chronicles #2)Heroes 'Til Curfew, Talent Chronicles #2 by Susan Bischoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
All Joss wants is to be left alone—with Dylan. But as more Talents are imprisoned by the government, everyone’s looking for a leader. Some look to Joss, some to Marco whose new criminal plan threatens Joss’s family and friends. Joss wants to stand up to Marco, but Dylan’s protective instincts are putting him in harm’s way. Can Joss find a way to embrace both the boy and her hero within? 

When I read Hush Money  mid-August, and posted my review, I did not expect the sequel to be out within the very same month. In fact, I did not even find out about it until a few days into September, and at that point I had to find and purchase the e-book right away. Smashwords had what I was looking for, and at a reasonable price of $2.99. Hush Money was $1.00 when I picked it up, and the slight increase in cost for this book is worth it, in every sense.

Heroes 'Til Curfew takes a slightly more adult turn from Hush Money, as the relationship between Dylan and Joss becomes more serious. It does not come across as unexpected or crude, and it seems more part of the plot rather than scenes scattered throughout a meager plot line. Romance is definitely a part of the story, but it makes sense and doesn't come across forced. (And, given my issues with certain other books, I do feel the need to mention this.) There is also a very delicate topic that comes up in the story and, while the subject disturbs me, it was dealt with seriously and carefully. I also did not get the impression that is was brought up carelessly.

Another difference in this volume, from the first, is that Marco is added in as a Point-of-View. Thankfully, he's only the focus a few times, as Susan Bischoff did an excellent job of making Marco absolutely deplorable. I could not relate to him in any way and found it difficult to follow his POV for any extended amount of time.

Again, as with Hush Money, the story and characters are both interesting and realistic. All it took was two books from Susan Bischoff to get me hooked on her work - I will definitely be picking up other books in this series and by this author. (Which I did, actually.. )

--

Impulse Control (Talent Chronicles, #0.5)Impulse Control, Talents Chronicles #0.5 by Susan Bischoff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
In the world of the Talent Chronicles, kids born with supernatural powers are taken from their families and forced into government research facilities called State Schools. At one such school, a dangerous experiment has killed two young inmates and threatens others. Ethan, a shape-shifter, is reluctantly recruited by his best friend Karen, a telepath, and Elle, the unique Talent he has a crush on, to thwart the faculty's plans. If they’re caught they face Detention, and Detention at a State School has a whole different meaning.  

Impulse Control is a short story and prequel to Hush Money. I found it an enjoyable and informative read regarding the world and helpful in showing us what State Schools are all about. (Rather than just being some Mysterious Thing to be Avoided.) As a plus, it's also available on Smashwords to read for free.

I don't want to go too much into the plot and spoil all the fun.. but I will say it's a nice introduction to the series for newcomers, or as an add-on for those who have read the others.


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17 September 2011

Review: Ghost in Her Heart

Ghost in Her Heart (Darklands, #6)Ghost in Her Heart by Autumn Dawn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Every man has a little beast inside...every woman longs to tame him. Where will you be when the beast roars for you?

The quintessential geek, Vana had never had a lover.
The ultimate warrior, Dagon had never had a wife.
Thanks to a rift in space, she's about to become both.


As a science fiction romance, the story is.. passable. I can't help but wish there was a little more science in the fiction, however. The ideas are there but not taken far enough, and I wish the author had taken that time to go more in depth with the world and technology she created. For a brief glimpse on a world raged with war and dangerous viruses, it works well enough. The writing keeps things moving along, but does not elaborate enough on the world - I cannot even tell you the name of the planet. Or country.  It is an easy enough read, but not a book I would particularly recommend or go back to.

When I located the book on Smashwords, there was no indication that this was a book in a series, let alone #6. Even reading the story I had no idea - not until I went searching for it on Goodreads to add it to my 'read' books. Which also makes me wonder if the title is "Ghost in Her Heart" or "Ghost in My Heart"? It's just not consistent between editions.

The main issue I had with this was the grammatical errors littered throughout the novel. I noticed multiple problems in just on one read - how does one miss all this? "Where" and "were" were mixed up more than once. Does the author know what proofreading is? One can't just spellcheck and publish... And, the thing is, this really isn't the only book of Autumn Dawn's that has this issue. I have read a few pages of Solar Flare (another book not marked as a series), before realizing the book was not for me, and within the first paragraph is a sentence missing a word. Normally, this does not bug me too much - I understand these things can be missed sometimes. However, considering how many times this occurs throughout Ghost in Her Heart and, I assume, more than one of her other books, I'd say it's something that needs to be given more attention. Leaving entire words from sentences shows negligence and is, simply, really, really lazy.

This is the first, and last, book I will read by Autumn Dawn. Apparently self-publishing an e-book makes it okay to publish half-finished work. This was just disappointing.

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14 September 2011

Review: Horse on the Loose

Horse on the Loose (Pinto Mountain Series, #1)Horse on the Loose by Sara Steeves Dudenhoeffer


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description
Fourteen year old Jesse Whitecloud wants nothing to do with his smaller than small-town family and their wilderness lifestyle. Bored of his repetitive routine, Jesse feels overcome when his father continues to add more and more chores to Jesse's list of daily responsibilities.

That is when an overly enthusiastic girl named Danielle Becker moves from the city to an acreage beside Jesse's farm. Jesse is given the additional responsibility of showing this horse-crazy city girl the ropes. A friendship is sparked between them, and their daily rides give Jesse something to look forward to.

At home, Jesse still feels disconnected from his family, especially his family. Finally, one special night when a mare needs help foaling, the walls between his father and Jesse start to come down. But will all that change when a horse goes missing and Jesse is the one to blame? Will Jesse even get a chance to redeem himself
?



Horse on the Loose reminds me of middle school, when I would stop by the school library nearly everyday in search of new books to read. (And returning the ones I took home the day before.) There were shelves lining the corner of the wall by the entrance that were devoted entirely to fantasy and fiction. Two full rows on the shelves were given solely to The Saddle Club books, and I would go for those first as I tried to absorb everything I could about horses. I adored obsessed about horses. I drew pictures of them on everything, wrote speeches in class about them (read: every speech I wrote from grade 5-8 was about the subject) and just could not get enough. Reading Horse on the Loose brought back memories of all of those things, so it definitely has points in its favour for that alone.

The novel is very well written and informative, without coming across as trying to be that way, so one does not need to be an expert with horses (and related terms) to understand. It doesn't feel "dumbed down" at all, either, and I still found it enjoyable despite the novel not being directed at my age group. Plus, there is even a glossary in the back of the book to help clear up any confusion regarding horse types, colours, tack, and so on. Characters are realistic and it's easy to care about both Jesse and Danielle. I have yet to read the second book, Wild Hooves, but it is a definite on my list... as it is currently sitting on my shelf.

Horse on the Loose, and the second book, Wild Hooves, along with other books by Sara, can be purchased on her websites. Hint-Hint.

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12 September 2011

Review: Princess Sakura

Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura, Volume 1Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura, Volume 1
by Arina Tanemura

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads 
Sakura is the granddaughter of a mysterious moon princess who slew demons with her Blood Cherry Blossom sword. All her life Sakura has been forbidden to look at the full moon without knowing why. Then one night, unhappy over her impending marriage, Sakura gazes up at the moon, only to see a demon attacking her... Princess Sakura has been engaged to Prince Oura since birth. Aoba, an emissary from the court, has come to accompany her move to the capital for her upcoming nuptials. Taking a dislike to Aoba and wanting to escape a life arranged by others, Sakura runs away—and finds she’s caught up to her true destiny.

Well, it's pretty...? That's all that counts, right? What is plot any good for, anyway? This one gets two stars for the artwork. Plot counts for nothing.


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Review: Gods Behaving Badly

Gods Behaving BadlyGods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ. Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees is sapping their vital reserves of strength. Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world

Generally, I enjoy mythology. But this was not the case with Gods Behaving Badly. The story is unmemorable, unimaginative, and I would not read it again.


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11 September 2011

Review: The Tide of the Mermaid Tears

The Tide of the Mermaid TearsThe Tide of the Mermaid Tears by Marcia Lynn McClure

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Smashwords
She took two more steps and paused—squeezed her eyes tightly shut and listened. The gulls—the water—yet there was something else. She listened harder—concentrating on the unfamiliar sound. Instantly, her eyes popped open as she half expected to see a lingering mermaid on the sand, gasping for breath. Gasping—coughing! That was the unfamiliar sound.

When I read novels, very rarely is the genre strictly Romance. I tend to go for the fair mixture of urban-fantasy, sci-fi, or adventure mixed in with it. Romance is preferred as an after-thought, not the focus of the story. More recently, however, I have been checking out some more novels within this genre. Because the books are, quite honestly, humourous. They're short and quick reads and I am often laughing at the descriptions and characters... even though that's not the intent at all. Some Romance is done well, or is incorporated well enough into a story that it seems normal - natural, even. And that's fine. I have no problems with it.

And then we get stories like The Tide of the Mermaid Tears.

The writing itself is done quite well - that's what drew me to purchase the e-book initially, after reading the sample available on Smashwords. (And is enough for me to give the book two stars, instead of one.) What continues on afterward was somewhat disappointing, however.

I know that Ember Taffee wanders -sorry, meanders- the seashore twice daily. She also likes mermaids, mermen, the sea, and trinkets. Lily Taffee, her sister, likes to paint and.. uh.. umn.. tease Ember, I guess? Ridge West appears ashore and we know he's handsome and Ember is desperately in love with him for some reason. Emphasis on the Desperately. And sometime near the center of the book we have Tempest Taffee, their mother, telling Ridge West of her tragic, sad, desperate past that is very sad and troubling, and stuff.

I got a bit tired of the story by this point because nothing interesting had happened yet. It can be all summed up with the previous paragraph. Aside from that, the way the characters think and speak... it doesn't seem natural to me. I couldn't get into the flow of the story. Even when Ember and Ridge are together, there is only so much I can take with this talk of "mouth-watering" as reaction to their own thoughts of kissing each other. To the point where I can only picture are two people gazing dreamily at each other with saliva running down their faces in a torrent.

Seriousness is Ruined Forever.

I had to start skimming the book by this point.


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10 September 2011

Review: Solanin

SolaninSolanin  (Book 1 & 2) by Inio Asano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Goodreads 
College graduates struggle to cope with the real world. Music offers refuge in this modern manga with an American attitude.
Meiko Inoue is a recent college grad working as an office lady in a job she hates. Her boyfriend Shigeo is permanently crashing at her apartment because his job as a freelance illustrator doesn't pay enough for rent. And her parents in the country keep sending her boxes of veggies that just rot in her fridge. Straddling the line between her years as a student and the rest of her life, Meiko struggles with the feeling that she's just not cut out to be a part of the real world.

I picked up this book strictly due to the cover - I knew nothing of the book previously. I would say that this is one of the few times that 'judging a book by its cover' has worked out.

I've read this book a few times now, and it would have to be one of my favourites. It's far from the usual shounen manga that I pick up, and it is a welcome change. The artwork has a definite "real world" feel to it - it's not all prettified or tries to be beautiful when it isn't. And I'm not saying the art isn't beautiful -- we just don't get the needless sparkles and glamour that I find are added to a lot of manga just because the artist can.

Now, just because I deem this manga as a favourite does not mean I feel it is free of faults. There are a few times when the plot seems to wander, move slowly, and become confused. Part of that I can forgive, as a story about life must seem like life in some ways. And our life stories never seem to take a sensible direction. Still, more of a focus would help. I had no idea where this was all going for most of the book.


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7 September 2011

Review: Bunny Drop Series (Spoilers)

Bunny Drop, Volume 1Bunny Drop (Series) by Yumi Unita

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Going home for his grandfather's funeral, Thirty-year-old bachelor Daikichi is floored to discover that the old man had an illegitimate child with a younger lover! The rest of his family is equally shocked and also embarrassed by this surprise development, and not one of them wants anything to do with the silent little girl, Rin. In a fit of angry spontaneity, Daikichi decides to take her in himself! But will living with this overgrown teenager of a man help Rin come out of her shell? And hang on, won't this turn of events spell doom for Daikichi's love life!

This review will cover the entire series of Bunny Drop - not just one volume. The English version is currently being published by Yen Press. I have read the scanned (and translated) version online. Please be aware this review will spoil the entire series for you. That being said, if you have not finished the series and don't want it ruined, this is not a review you will want to read at this time. Fair warning, and all that.