Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Splendor by Anna Godbersen

I've been MIA around Blog World for almost two weeks...apologies all around. I *tried* reading Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast, but just couldn't get into it like I'd hoped. Still, I gave it the ole college try--more than 100 pages and 3 days and still nope, just not into it. So I skimmed it and went on to one I *really* wanted to read: Splendor by Anna Godbersen. I actually finished it a couple of days ago but just got around to writing the review tonight. My brain's been on Thanksgiving break! Anyway, below is the review I just posted to Amazon:

Splendor brings Anna Godbersen's Luxe series to a close, and what a tremendous ending it is! All the loose threads are tied up, but not always so neatly; the four main young women find that life doesn't always give you what you thought you wanted, but you've got to make peace with yourself no matter what. Splendor is told in alternating chapters that focus on each of the young women and takes them through the trials that will ultimately lead them to that peace, whatever it is.

The book opens with Diana Holland having traveled (alone in 1900!) to Havana in search of love Henry Schoonmaker, who has joined the army in order to escape his shrew of a wife, Penelope. While the young lovers are reunited, Penelope herself starts to realize that maybe she was too hasty in marrying Henry, and sets her eye on on a Bavarian prince who is looking lustfully back at her. Meanwhile, both Elizabeth Holland and Carolina Broad have achieved contentment: Elizabeth has married her father's business partner in order to give her unborn child a name, and Carolina's past as a maid is firmly behind her as she falls in love with the handsome Leland. Of course none of this flows smoothly, and all of the young women are subjected to tragedies of varying degrees.

In this final installment, Ms. Godbersen does the remarkable: she allows her characters to achieve a sense of maturity without being preachy or giving them fairy tale endings. The deceit that all of them have practiced is dealt with, but there is no moral high ground. Instead, I felt they were all so identifiable, because let's face it: pretty young women do have faults and some conquer those faults while others do not. It's all about what you are willing to live with.

Ms. Godbersen filled Splendor with fashion and romance, betrayal and reconciliation, and it could not have been a more fitting ending to this series. My one problem with the storyline applies to Diana, and it is only because of her previous infatuation that I have a hard time believing she wasn't up to the task. However, I could still see her achieving something far more exciting with her life, so even though I found her decision out of character, I can let it go, and even give kudos to Ms. Godbersen for not being pat in wrapping up my favorite storyline of the four. I would actually rate Splendor 4.5 stars, but my enjoyment of the series as a whole prompts me to round up to the full five. Truly an enjoyable ride.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fade Out (Morganville Vampires # 7)

After having read (and been disappointed by) the sixth book in the House of Night series, it's nice to pick up the seventh book in the Morganville Vampires series and find that not only is the quality good, it's improving! My review is below:

How wrong is it that I stretched a 220+ page book out for five days because I didn't want to see it end? Hopefully not too wrong, because once I was back in Morganville, I didn't want to leave. Fade Out is book # 7 in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series, coming after the drama with evil Bishop has ended and things are supposedly "back to normal" (or as normal as it can be when the town is run by vampires). Main character Claire Danvers is back in class at Texas Prairie University, still with boyfriend Shane, and again working with slightly off-center vampire Myrnin. Michael's adjusting to life as a vampire, and Goth girl Eve has earned a part in the town's new play. The problem comes when castmate Kim suddenly shows up and inserts herself between not only Claire and Eve, but Claire and Shane. Something's just not quite right about Kim, but Claire starts to feel as though she's the only one who sees the problem...until Kim goes missing and her dirty little secret comes to light.

Love, love, love the characters in this tremendous series, and I love that our vampire friends are showing more range in emotion and fallibility. Amelie, the vampire who founded Morganville, is still mourning the loss of lover Sam; Oliver, Eve's former boss and Amelie's next in command, is showing signs of irritation over the way things are being run; and Myrnin, dear, odd, funny Myrnin, is in denial about computer Ada's intentions. Sides are being drawn once again between those vampires in charge and those who have gone rogue, and Claire and her friends are finding themselves caught firmly in the middle.

It's a testament to Ms. Caine's imagination that this series is improving instead of becoming stale, and the fact that both brains and loyalties are being tested shows that she's not willing to settle for the obvious. There is lots of action but also lots of humor in this novel; it's Myrnin's antics that made me laugh and long for my own set of vampire bunny slippers. Claire's dedication to doing what's right, even when it doesn't necessarily feel right, moves the book subtly along, and the growing relationship between Shane and Claire also is well done. The book ends on a cliffhanger (sigh), so naturally I'll be waiting restlessly for the next installment. Here's hoping it's a bit longer so I won't feel the need to ration myself while reading in order to stay in Morganville.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tempted (Book 6 of The House of Night)

In Tempted, Book 6 of the House of Night series, things pick up for Zoey and her friends as they have just defeated the evil Kalona and ex-High Priestess Neferet. Well, actually, they aren't exactly defeated--just living on the Italian isle of San Clemente, waiting to speak to the Vampire High Council in order to convince them that they are, indeed, Erebus and Nyx Incarnate. a young, newly appointed High Priestess vampyre's work ever done? Apparently not; nor is she allowed to actually choose among the three males vying for her constant attention, or even get any restful sleep since Kalona's decided he's going to invade her dreams. So naturally Zoey and the gang hop on the House of Night jet (unchaperoned by adults, mind you) and fly to Italy in order to head off the soon-to-be disastrous recognition of Kalona and Neferet. Ummm, like the Vampire High Council couldn't figure out for themselves what those two are up to after all the death and destruction that just happened back in Oklahoma?
There you have it: the main problems with Tempted. Poking holes in this story almost became a game; even though I know it's a fantasy, too many coincidences and too much just plain luck kept pulling me out time and again. The plot moved so slowly for the first half of the book that I continually asked myself just why I had felt the need to continue with this series (particularly on the heels of the poorly edited Hunted). Quite honestly, had I not grown so attached to Zoey, Stevie Rae, and Aphrodite, I'd probably have ditched this one early on. And while I'm very glad I didn't (the final 50 pages or so made it worthwhile), I will say that it was almost too little too late to keep this reader intrigued.
Rant time: Where are the editors? Last time I complained about the typos and grammar in Hunted, and those seem to have cleared up in Tempted. But someone, anyone, please explain to me how on two separate occasions (pages 194-195 and 276-277), Zoey's point of view chapters started out in third person and shifted to first person without warning after a page or so with no break in the action? Both times I had to reread carefully to figure out 1) who was actually talking and 2) marvel that no one caught this before it went to press. Come on, editors! Get it together!
I did enjoy the differing points of view in this novel, and I think they did develop the story more fully. Stevie Rae's decision to save someone who might not be worth saving was terrific, giving her one more facet to distinguish her from her dithering friends. I am also beginning to believe that Aphrodite might be my favorite character. At least the girl knows what she thinks and is willing to say or do it. The guys in this novel? Pretty much a waste of space all around. I'm tired of hearing how hot they are; I just want Zoey to make a decision and stick with it. Which makes what happened at the end (while a stunning turn, I admit) a little puzzling as she's had difficulty making up her mind for six books now.
It's not that I hated this book; in fact, I rather found it page turning towards the end. I am just so disappointed, really. The move into Zoey saving the world from the original concept of living at the House of Night and trying to fit into the vampyre world just isn't working for me. I want the old chemistry and less of the modern slang. This review is getting three stars from me based on my former love for this series instead of the two it deserves. And from the looks of it, I may not be the only fan feeling this way about this once riveting series.