Bites

23173348Published: September 8, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Star
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Having just quit Julliard, disillusioned fiddler Melanie St. James finds herself as part of a group of traveling musicians en route to an OtherFolk carnival. Eager to break the chains of a lifetime of conformity, Melanie throws caution to the wind and enters a reckless bargain, plying her musical skills for the chance to win a violin that can open Doors to the CrossRoads. But the competition turns out to be far more than she expected. When the carnival barker makes her an offer she can’t refuse, Melanie is forced to play for the Devil or risk trading her soul for the one thing she holds dearer than life itself. (goodreads.com)

I hadn’t read anything by Pang before reading ‘A Duet with Darkness’ but once I finished reading it, I added A BRUSH OF DARKNESS, the first book in the Abby Sinclair series, to my want list.

I loved the dirty carnival atmosphere Pang created mixed in with the mystical, magical, and sinister in-between world of faeries and Other Folk. It was vaguely reminiscent of Carnivale, the HBO series, just without all the Jesus allegories and set to the tune of Devil Went Down to Georgia.

I felt every emotion Melanie had, and her feelings swung wildly in this very short story. I loved how Pang described her world through Melanie’s eyes, highlighting her loves and leaving those things she finds displeasing to be caked in some kind of grime. This little snippet of a story paints an incredibly vivid picture of just what kind of world we’re working with and the kind of characters you can expect to find.

Anti-heroes seem to proliferate here. Or maybe just overly human characters whose emotions, like so many others, can turn on a dime and what makes them all too relatable. Melanie was both endearing and off-putting, seeming to go off the rails at the drop of a hat. But all of that emotion had been building and building and building. We just get to see the moment it explodes and the mistakes people can make in irrational moments.

I can’t wait to read A BRUSH OF DARKNESS and I’m so glad I read ‘A Duet with Darkness.’ Such an excellent introduction to Pang’s world.

5

December 3, 2016

25644437Published: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Dutton
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Flora Dane is a victim.

Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Flora Dane is a survivor.

Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

Flora Dane is reckless.

. . . or is she? When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime—a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him—she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her. (goodreads.com)

I’ve enjoyed all of Gardner’s books that I’ve read so far and FIND HER isn’t any exception. While it took me a little bit longer to get into than others I’ve read, once I settled into the plot it rocketed me from one end of the book to the other and I couldn’t put it down.

A good portion of the book is in Flora’s voice and to have it at the beginning, not having any idea who she was, it was a little hard to get through. She has a very distanced approach to life (for obvious reasons) and she came off really detached from the world (again, obvious reasons) and as a result I felt pushed away from the story. When DD starts coming in, and she’s a character I know and like, I start to get a little more settled in what’s going on. Add in the backstory that starts to get trickled throughout the book and I finally get into a Gardner groove and I’m in it till the end.

I really feel like these books are less about DD and more about the character of the moment, in this case Flora Dane. DD had her issues going on in the background, the restricted duty she was on, her home life, things like that. But they paled in comparison to Flora, who took over the page when she was there. Flora’s story was all-encompassing and engrossing and I found myself launching through those parts without her so I could get back to her and find out more. Yes, it’s DD’s job to find Flora, but it’s Flora’s story. Without a doubt.

I’m not sure what draws me to stories like this. My husband thinks I’m weird because I read these types of books (and watch SVU, in my defense that’s the ONLY cop procedural I watch), but I just can’t explain why I like them. I like the mystery aspect. I like getting dangled little bits of information piece by piece until they slowly start to form a whole. Maybe it’s because for a short period of time I wanted to be a detective. Maybe it’s a way for me to process these types of things in a safe environment. He thinks it’s weird that I enjoy watching man do their worst to each other. But only because it’s in a realistic setting. Meanwhile he watches The 100 and Defiance where all the same crap is happening to people, just in a different time or a different world. Does it really matter?

Gardner really capitalizes on blending the realistic with the astronomical with the gruesome and the compelling and weaves it all together into a story that sucks you in and doesn’t spit you back out until the very end. It’s never overly violent or gory, but she’ll tell you every aspect of the story necessary to make sure it’s complete. She does her research in regard to things like PTSD and survivor reactions and governmental involvement and things like that and it wraps up together into a setting that’s wholly believable and at the same time it’s almost unreachably fantastical for how incredible the story is. All the little pieces and all the little details work together to create something out of life and I can’t get enough of it.

FIND HER is an excellent addition to the Detective DD Warren series. Flora becomes a reachable entity that holds her nose to the page and won’t let you back up until her story’s done. She’s a fighter and a survivor and a victim and you watch her cope with all of these things from one end of the book to the other and she’s so amazing for it all. I just can’t get enough of Gardner’s writing.

5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

November 29, 2016

7046413Published: June 29, 2010
Publisher: Berkley
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Eons ago, vampires tried to turn the Dark Fae in order to harness their magic, only to create a demonic enemy more powerful than they imagined. Now Myst, the Vampiric Fae Queen of the Indigo Court, has enough power to begin a long prophesied supernatural war. And Cicely Waters, a witch who can control the wind, may be the only one who can stop her-and save her beloved Fae prince from the Queen’s enslavement.

Cicely Waters, a witch who can control the wind, has returned home to New Forest, Washington, after learning that her family is in danger. The Indigo Court holds the city in fear. People are vanishing, and strange deaths plague the town. And when she is swept into an unexpected and passionate reunion with Grieve, the Fae prince who taught her how to harness the wind, Cicely finds herself with a fierce and territorial lover.

But Greive has been enslaved in Myst’s court, and now, caught betwen two evils, the lovers must survive the machinations of the Vampiric Fae queen, even as Cicely untangles the hidden secrets to her own heritage. (goodreads.com)

This was a really fun, sexy read that worked wonders on my reading funk. I needed something like NIGHT MYST that could help me escape, give me a great character to follow, some awesome sex to read, and throw me a fantastic story while it was at it. Talk about delivering.

Galenorn gets quite dark with her paranormal world, especially with the vampires. Making them basically sexual deviants, they’re both arousing and repelling at the same time. I found myself feeling much the same way Cicely was when she was around them. Total train accident. You know you should look away, but you can’t.

And the fae and the Indigo Court? She made the fae both whimsical and terrifying at the same time. Yes, they’re these lovely creatures that exist in this in between world and they’re beautiful and powerful and they will annihilate you. Don’t you forget that. Cecily finds herself the pawn more than once and it really roots her into their world. She is a tool to be used and they make no qualms about letting her know that. It humbles her and reminds her just where she stands in the grander scheme of things.

As for the Indigo Court, they’re truly terrifying. These vampire/faery crossovers that are basically the Blades of Galenorn’s world and they’re looking to mess stuff up. I like the hoisted by their own petard twist at the end along with Cecily finding out just where she stands, again, with these heinous fae things. As if it couldn’t get any worse.

I liked Cecily. I liked how Galenorn made a point to show that she’s tiny but fit, and not like yoga fit. She’s 5’4″ and 140 or 150 pounds, so girl’s pretty jacked. She’s better at holding herself against the physical requirements of her supernatural job that’s been dropped in her lap, but against otherworldly beings she still falls horribly short. She’s humble and realistic and completely down to earth and someone I look forward to getting to know over the course of the series. I found her reactions to things incredibly reasonable and it made me so happy how she reacted to the vampires. It was something that made sense for the situation without devolving into your grossly standard “falling in love with a rapist” scenario. No notion of a love triangle. There is one dude for Cecily and she does her damndest to help him.

Overall a really great beginning to the series. I tried Galenorn’s Sisters of the Moon series but I didn’t get past the first book. It just wasn’t clicking with me. But NIGHT MYST is totally nailing it. It’s such a great balance of romance (which is actually fairly light), sex, and world-building that it really sucks me in. The characters are great and believable and sympathetic (and at times awful and terrifying and seducing), the story is dragging me along from one end of the other, and I’m loving Galenorn’s world. I want more.

4.5

yackers
17234658Published: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected. (goodreads.com)

This was both this month’s YAck book and one I’ve had on my shelf for a while so yay! Two birds, one stone. The concept sounded interesting and, of course, the cover’s beautiful. It’s hard to resist, really.

From the second I started reading it I felt like I was shoved into the middle of a story and it was very disorienting. To the point where it took me a few chapters to really get my bearings and settle into the characters and really get a feeling for them. I really wasn’t too invested in the plot until a rather deadly surprise happened in one of Marguerite’s other worlds that it really piqued by interest. Unfortunately that was short lived because she bounces out of that world and into another one almost immediately after that incident.

The timing of everything just felt really misplaced. I didn’t feel like the major plot twist was so much of a twist as opposed to violently shoving the plot off the track, taking a right angle turn so fast you’re up on two wheels, and then smashing back down again. It was such a violent and unexpected diversion from the storyline as presented throughout the book that it felt less like an actual part of the story and more of a “written into a corner, need to get out of it” sort of thing. It just didn’t fit very nicely for me.

I liked the alleged science behind the book. I’m certainly not in a position to verify whether any of it’s even remotely accurate or whether it’s pure speculation, but I certainly like it better than time travel (which I can usually poke holes in within seconds of starting something with it). But the notion of each universe being mutually exclusive unto itself leaves a major question in the unresolved plot element of the book: why?

SPOILER ALERT

So one very similar dimension is just slightly ahead in the technology game from Marguerite’s dimension so they already have the technology the starting dimension is striving to get, yet they’re sending spies to follow Marguerite around . . . why? This other dimension is already ahead. They want her because you can only have one cognizant rift jumper per world and the big guy needs her. But what could possibly be his end game? What resources does a world with only a handful of years difference actually have that the slightly more advanced world doesn’t? There wasn’t any mention of any kind of natural degradation or nuclear wars or anything. The fight was for technology. But again, why? The fight just seems rather thin to me.

As for characters . . . eh. They’re okay. Marguerite isn’t really all that active in her role. She gets shoved from one dimension to another, but can’t really do a whole lot so she just waits around for Paul and Theo and then rift jumps again. There’s character development there but not necessarily to the growth of Marguerite as a character. It’s only relevant to information she finds out in the story that changes her notions of what’s going on. I wouldn’t necessarily call that growth.

I don’t know. Not really impressed by  A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU. Neat concept, but I’m not finding the main character all that compelling and the Big Bad aspect doesn’t feel all that solid to me. At this point I’m not interested in reading further into the series.

2

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

18599667Published: June 10, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

Except…

There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all. (goodreads.com)

I really liked ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE. It was weird and different and creepy all wrapped up into one. With DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME, I’m not sure what I got. I think the concept was creepy but the execution of it was a bit far-reaching.

I really don’t know what to make of this book. I thought maybe, like with ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, time will let me really sink into it and absorb it and then it’ll hit me. That doesn’t appear to be happening. Every time I look back on the book I just wonder what it was I read and not in a freaked out kind of sense.

The voice read like it was rally disconnected from everything. I’m sure that was half the point because the main character was high for half the book and trying to forget everything. But it also felt like the concept was beyond the scope of the characters too. And anything relevant to the current timeline of the story was told in flashbacks. So as a reader I didn’t “live” through any of the horrible events that had taken place in Gardnerville. They were just retold to me. I think the intent was trying to kind of set up an urban legend sort of tale, where stories are passed on from the character to the reader, but it wasn’t working for me. It just distanced me from everything.

There were a few little plot twists thrown in at the end and while I thought they were neat, a couple of them came out of nowhere. So their explanations, and what they were revealing, were tempered down by me going, huh? Where did that even come from?

The story was just really discombobulating. I’m trying to think back on it now and pull my thoughts together and it’s all one giant haze. And I don’t mean that to be in line with the story and how it plays around with forgetting things. It’s just all one giant mash-up of a book with a lot of elements that seemed thrown together and maybe at one point they created a cohesive story, but reading it it didn’t work out quite so well.

I wanted to be creeped out, but I was little more than confused. I wanted to be blown away, maybe even have my mind blown. Instead I just frowned a lot and tried to make sense of this piecemeal plot that had a high concept aim but fell short of that original goal. This one . . . just isn’t for me. Quinn painted a nice picture with her words, but it wasn’t very cohesive, I don’t think. It just felt off.

2

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.