Archive for May, 2014

25
May
14

Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 20: A Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Unknown-3A few months ago, I was delighted to stumble upon Written in Red, the first in “the others” series from Anne Bishop. Written in Red was the story of a world where creatures like vampires and werewolves are real, living in cities with humans, but barely tolerating them. Their world is a world where humans are seen as little more than meat. That is, until Meg, a blood prophet on the run from her captors, finds herself suddenly wrapped up in their lives and under their protection. In particular, the protection of Simon, a werewolf who is the leader of their area of Lakeville. Written in Red ended after a huge battle to save Meg — the others and the earth’s elements had banded together to protect Meg from the men hired to bring her back “home” — to the blood prophet factory where she would predict the future for men who were willing to pay.

A Murder of Crows starts off almost immediately afterwards. The crazy snow storms brought on by Winter have tapered off, and life in Lakeside is starting to get back to normal.

Until, in nearby towns, someone starts killing crows. Not only are they murdering members of the crowgard, whoever is behind these attacks is also killing regular crows, as well as any humans that get in their path.

And there have been other attacks across the country — and they can all be traced back to two new drugs: one that makes it’s victims docile (a feel-good drug), and one that makes them violent attackers (gone-over wolf). Someone is distributing these drugs and trying to destroy the others. Simon and his friends at the Lakeside Courtyard seem to think that the drugs are created using the blood of the Cassandra Sangue — the blood prophets, like Meg and her friends. Research done by Meg, the others, and their friends in the Lakeside police department, points to a man simply known as the Controller being responsible for the extraction of the drugs from the girls, as well as for the distribution of the product and the plans to create chaos and violence.

Meg starts to have terrible, violent visions about the future of Lakeside, and of the country in general. Growing human political and social movements, like the despicable Humans First and Last group, are upsetting the balance between the others and the humans that has taken hundreds of years to set straight.

Meanwhile, Meg and Simon spend the book dancing around their feelings for each other. Although it would be wrong for a member of the wolfgard — the leader of the pack, no less — to have feelings for a human, it looks like that just might be inevitable.

I’m not going to lie. This book made me feel the feelings.  It made me laugh, and it made me cry more than once. I hope Anne Bishop writes a bunch more of these, and soon.

And yes, I totally get the criticisms that I’ve seen from other Cannonballers. Some of the descriptions of Meg’s banal, day-to-day activities can be a bit much. But I get where that’s coming from — Meg has experienced a huge trauma in coming to Lakeside. I think these basic chores and schedules make her feel a bit more human and give her something that she’s able to control on her own.

But I sure didn’t miss the descriptions of how she had to take off her boots and wipe the wet floor with a towel every single time she came in to a new building in Written in Red. Every. Single. Time.

 

 

16
May
14

Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 19: Champion by Marie Lu

Unknown-2This was really bad.

I wish this was one of those “this was so bad, it was good” things. Like that movie The Room, or anything starring Lyndsay Lohan.

But this one is just plain old bad.

I know, I sound like a broken record when I say that I need to stop with the bad trilogies already. A promising first novel is great, but it rarely seems to mean that the quality will continue throughout the forced trilogy. I was re-reading my reviews for the first two books in this pile of drivel (Legend, which was actually ok, and Prodigy, which was not as ok), and noted that I had actually predicted that the ending would fall short, as the plot was being pulled too thin. Would it have been better as one, longer book? I think so.

I’m not really even going to bother with a plot recap at this point. If you haven’t read books 1 & 2, proceed at your own risk. Also, this isn’t really any sort of book review. Its more of a laundry list of what bugged me about the book.

Here’s what I liked.

Marie Lu has flashes of brilliance. The scenes in Antarctica were pretty cool. A society based on a virtual points system? A living video game? I could get into that, tell me more.

But she shoves it into the story, for pretty much no reason, and then yanks it away from us almost as suddenly. And then we’re back in the world of Day and June and blah blah blah…zzzzz.

I would have liked more of the Antarctica world. And the super soldier suits? Those were pretty cool. But it made the rest of the battle detail pale in comparison. Just like in the first book, where I wanted more about dystopian LA — These little bits of cool sci-fi great, but they were also annoying because they were few and far between.

Also, Marie Lu has a great author photo on the back flap. Good for her.

Now, here’s what I didn’t like.

Pretty much everything else.

First of all, what the hell is Anden’s deal? He’s pretty much the president of the country, right? And he can’t keep his hands & mind off of a 16 year old? GET A GRIP, ANDEN. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER.

And speaking of 16 year olds, what the hell kind of government would allow teenagers to plan any sort of military operations? Its not like other dystopian books where only teenagers are left. There seem to be tons and tons of able-bodied and intelligent adults in the Republic. And yet, all of the major decisions are made by a bunch of kids. The adults make a few grumpy noises and shake their heads, but NONE OF THEM DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. I can’t with this.

Of course, I also hated the love triangle. Or love square? Whatever. I’m just glad that they didn’t have Pascao in love with Tess (I really thought they would make this happen). A love pentagon would have been too much.

And Marie Lu, why do you drop all of these details that are supposedly important in earlier books — June has OCD, Day’s necklace is so important — and then barely ever mention them again? June’s weird OCD was mentioned one time in the third book, and then never again. It was weird and it stuck out. Bad editing job there.

Lastly, here’s what I hated.

The ending. No.

God and amnesia? Just no. The last 15 pages were like a plot from a completely different book. A worse book.

So glad to be putting this trilogy behind me. I was going to give it one star, for Antarctica, but no. Zero stars. Thanks for letting me vent.

12
May
14

Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 18: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Unknown-1I know I wasn’t the only one out there who immediately said NO WAY when I heard about the premise of this book. (It isn’t really a spoiler any longer is it? I can talk about it, right?) I mean, come on. Bridget without Mark Darcy? No thanks.

And then I read a few reviews from people that I trust, and they were mostly positive, and they were pushing me toward reading it. I filed away these trusted opinions, still unsure if I even wanted to open this particular can of worms. And then I saw it on the shelf at the library and tossed it into my bag, still not sure.

But I’m really glad I read it. Yes, it was super sad. And yes, I really missed the Mark/Bridget dynamic. But. This book made me laugh out loud. And it also made me cry. This book gave me all of the emotions.

What was great about it was it went back to the basics, a Bridget Jones 101. Bridget’s relationships with her friends, her mother, and Daniel were all front and center. Bridget still drinks too much, eats an irregular diet, and worries about her weight. She does embarrassing things in front of eligible men, sometimes showing her inappropriate underwear. All good.

And the new stuff mostly worked as well. Bridget’s struggles to cope as a single, older parent were totally relatable. I loved her attempts to joke around with the uber-controlling moms at her kids’ schools, with all of her humor veering way off track.

To be honest, I could have done without the younger boyfriend/cougar plot, but I get that it was all about making Bridget feel like a woman again, as opposed to just feeling like a mom. And seriously, I had no need for the lice bit, as that is my constant nightmare while I have three school-aged kids.

But the rest of it worked for me. And I was sad when I finished it because I wanted to visit with these characters for longer. Yes, I missed Mark and the way he always had the perfect thing to say. And yes, I was devastated when Fielding finally explained what happened. But I think she did a lovely job painting the picture of a woman’s life turned upside down by grief, and her slow and reluctant voyage to getting her life back. With humor and wine and lots of chocolate.

 

 

06
May
14

Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 17: Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

UnknownI’ve been a big fan of Ian Rankin for a while. How could I not be, when he’s been dubbed “the tartan James Ellroy”? In particular, I love the Inspector Rebus books (there must be 20 of them by now). In particular, I’ve liked the Rebus books when he’s been a bit older and a bit more bitter about life (which, all things considered, is pretty bitter.). As Rebus has aged, he’s become a more sympathetic character, even though he’s still the same guy, doing the same things. Its been quite an interesting transition.

In his latest outing, Rebus finds himself back on the Edinburgh police force full-time, but demoted to Detective Sergeant. His colleague Siobhan is now his superior, which makes for some interesting back and forth between them. And suddenly he becomes assigned to work under Malcolm Fox, the head of the Complaints Unit (Internal Affairs). Rebus is not a fan.

Fox is investigating a case from 20 years prior, a murder that was covered up by a particularly dirty group of Edinburgh cops who called themselves the Saints of the Shadow Bible. And John Rebus just so happened to be the junior officer in that group. Rebus has to figure out just where his allegiances lie — with his old colleagues, who have been keeping terrible secrets from him for years, or with his new cohorts, and with the police force in general.

Of course, there’s also another mystery unwinding at the same time. A local girl is in a car accident on a deserted road, and Rebus slowly uncovers her connection to a local politician involved in Scotland’s Independence Campaign. And as usual, there’s more than meets the eye.

I enjoyed Rebus and Fox working together, the two completely opposite styles of police work. Rebus still uses his contacts, going around the city and talking to people in person to get information. He finds himself in seedy bars and questionable places at all hours. While Fox mostly uses the internet and police databases to piece things together. Neither man is very good with people, and both have made many enemies on the force. But Siobhan is the glue that holds them together, and she’ll always be my favorite character. (Note to Ian Rankin: IN FUTURE BOOKS, DONT YOU DARE MESS WITH SIOBHAN!)

One thing that I missed in this book was Rebus’ interaction with local criminal Big Ger Cafferty. He’s been replaced with the much younger Darryl Christie (a major character in the last book, Standing in Another Man’s Grave). I like Darryl and enjoy seeing the favors he and Rebus will do for each other in order to get what they want, but I miss the dynamic that Cafferty and Rebus had. Minor quibble, I know.

I’ll read these books for as long as Rankin wants to read them, and I dread the day that has to be coming…when Rebus drinks, smokes, and eats himself into permanent retirement.




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