Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not That The Demon's Surrender is Bad...

...Not that The Demon's Surrender is bad, or poorly written, or even boring. It's just that, as the final book in the trilogy that had focused on the Ryves brothers, it would have been nice to have somehow felt more of what those two were experiencing, rather than having the decidedly overwhelmed Sin as a narrator. Which also doesn't mean that I disliked Sin, or even that I didn't like her narration. It just seemed an unnecessary perspective for a finale that had Sin as a peripheral character in the previous two books.

The basic plot remains the same: the Goblin Market is in danger from the magicians, and the Ryves brothers are still struggling with the fact that Nick is actually a demon seemingly incapable of human emotion. Given that Sin is narrating, we learn a lot about her responsibilities and her abilities, and the fact that she feels entitled to run the Market after Merris leaves. But there is the stumbling block of Mae, a "tourist" who has shown herself equally capable of running the Market, and Jamie, Mae's brother who is a magician. Both sides know the ultimate showdown is coming between them and the one who captures the Pearl necklace will be the one in charge of the Market. But will new romances also survive? What will happen to Sin's younger brother and sister? Will Nick ever escape his demon past?

Like I said, I liked this novel but felt that it was padded out with Sin's dramas. I loved Nick's sense of humor and the bond between the brothers, and I felt what happened to Alan was a good twist. I've never been a Mae fan but I did enjoy how she stepped up to the plate and actually made things happen; I also appreciated the action sequences, particularly the one with Sin on the magician's boat. I would just have liked there to have been more focus on the brothers since that was how the series began. It's not bad by any just left me feeling like the heart of the story was missing.


Monday, June 27, 2011

The King's Speech (and I'm Still Smiling!)

It's been 24+ hours since I watched The King's Speech, and I am still smiling whenever I think about it. What a tremendous movie! Funny, touching, inspirational, richly acted, soul name it, and any positive adjective you can think of would apply to The King's Speech.

This movie is so much more than just the chronicle of the speech impediment of King George VI. Beginning before he ever thought about assuming the throne, Bertie (as his family called him) struggled mightily from childhood with a stammer that kept him on edge at all times. His beloved wife Elizabeth finds one more possible therapist, a Lionel Logue, whose methods are unconventional and who insists from the word go that Bertie will do things his way if he expects to see results. And there are results indeed, but a major setback strikes when Bertie's older brother David abdicates the throne. Not only must Bertie take over, he must now live his life very much in the public eye, and all this in the shadow of an increasingly volatile Hitler.

Colin Firth has long been a favorite of mine, and he absolutely shines as the shy Bertie. His is an Oscar so well deserved, but there is not a performance in The King's Speech that is sub-par. Helena Bonham Carter is superb as the loving Elizabeth; Michael Gambon is both regal and imposing as King George V; and Geoffrey Rush is so wonderfully perfect as Lionel Logue that words simply fail me. Rush can convey with a simple look so very much and his chemistry with the stammering Firth is both touching and hilarious.

Filled with awkward and funny moments, this movie is beyond wonderful. Even the soundtrack is perfect,with the stunning denouement both rousing and ominous. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.

As an aside, it is helpful if you know a little about British history, including the relationship between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, but it is not crucial to the enjoyment of the film. I just felt that it helped me to flesh out the relationships among the royals, but I would still have enjoyed this glorious movie nonetheless.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Not Just Another Angel Story

Unearthly *could* have been just another entry in the rampant paranormal young adult genre...good angels (blah, blah, blah)...bad angels (blah, blah, blah)...impossible love story (yada yada yada). But almost from the get-go, I felt something was different; it felt more, well, real, than in a lot of the books similar in description. Though we know almost immediately that Clara is of angel blood, that she's pretty and fast, etc., we also learn that she's insecure, worried about her "purpose", and feels left out in her new school. Still, she's determined to follow the vision of her purpose and somehow rescue super hunky Christian...though from what or even how, she doesn't have a clue.

For much of the novel, Unearthly follows Clara as she slowly learns more about being of angel blood, though not from her mother (which becomes a source of irritation), and her quest to find out what she's supposed to do. The fact that she ends up with orange hair adds to her ordinariness; the fact that she's often tongue-tied and even a bit clumsy makes her endearing. And yes, I admit I loved that she had good banter with her best friend's brother, and I hoped that somehow, those two would find their way to one another.

While there really aren't major surprises in Unearthly, I found myself quickly turning the pages and reading past my bedtime in order to get through so I could satisfy my curiosity. I really wish I could pinpoint precisely what it is that had me so intrigued about this story; I think it's mostly that Clara, despite her unearthliness, is very real and easy to relate to. It's a thoroughly engaging story that manages to mix the paranormal with the everyday with neither going off the deep end. I'm hooked.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Passion by Lauren Kate

Passion is the third book in the Fallen trilogy, and it's chock full of answers for all those burning questions we've had since the first book. Luce is determined to find out just what it is that has kept Daniel chasing her through centuries and centuries, across time zones and continents; she must know if it's really love or just part of the curse cast on Daniel at his Fall from heaven. Once she steps into an Announcer, she's on her way back through time and all the lives she's shared with her angel, on a mission to end the curse once and for all, one way or another. Hard on her heels is Daniel, desperate to find Luce before she irrevocably messes with history and destroys everything.

What I Loved/Liked: I loved getting glimpses into Luce and Daniel's shared pasts. I loved that we progressively went further and further back in time until that cataclysmic moment when we finally find out how it all began. I liked that it's obvious that Ms. Kate has done her biblical research and has given careful thought to how to make the story come together. I liked that we learned the back story to Daniel and Cam, and I liked that the Nephilim played a role (however small) in helping Daniel. I also liked the set up for the final book. I liked that each lifetime she experienced brought her closer to the final answers she so desperately seemed to need. Which brings me to...

What I Didn't Like: I wanted to scream at Luce more than once when she continued to question Daniel's feelings for her over and over and over...what? Did she think he was doing this for kicks? At times I felt she was just too slow on the uptake and too quick to blame Daniel. And even though she *knew* that she shouldn't mess around with events, that didn't always stop her meddling...really? I also didn't like how Luce seemed to lose herself whenever she was in Daniel's arms. If she thinks that is all there is to love, she's going to have a midlife crisis of epic proportions.

What I Hated: Bill. While I could see why Ms. Kate included him (heaven knows...haha, get it?...Luce needed guidance), he was too comic, adding way too much of a comic book feel that was diametrically opposed to the tone of the previous two books. It was almost a Cinderella and the mice scenario--a good way to get Luce into costume but surely she could have thought of something herself. Or let her meet up with one of her traveling angel buddies to help? And I know what his ultimate goal was, but I think it distracted from the final scenes in the long run.

However, all that being said, I did like Passion very much and I felt it was a necessary addition for us to understand through experience what everything was really about. Luce needed to know first hand and so did we. The final scenes were absolutely worth any slow spots and I'm psyched for the final book. I think it's gonna be worth the wait.


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Golden Prince

Rebecca Dean's The Golden Prince weaves a fictitious tale of young love around the future Edward VIII (he of the Wallis Simpson fame) and a sweet girl he accidentally meets in the summer of 1911. The way the story is laid out, it is entirely plausible that such a relationship occurred, and especially with what we know of Edward's later life and love, almost likely that something of this magnitude happened somewhere in his early years. David (as he's known here and was known in his family) falls head over heels for Lily Houghton when he's involved in a motor car accident with her older sister; it's almost as though the freedom he finds with she and her family are the perfect antidotes to an overly scheduled and complex life in the spotlight. But will his father, King George V, allow him to marry a commoner, even if she is of good family?

The Golden Prince is a fascinating tale, filled with real historical figures and well developed fictional ones. Though their love is swift and all encompassing, almost too good to be believed, Dean gives us plenty of reason to suspect that such a clandestine affair took place, giving David solace and emotion in a life lacking both. While they are, of course, the focus of the story, there are subplots involving all of Lily's sisters: Rose, the suffragette, holding herself back from love; Iris, the staid traditionalist; and Marigold, the wild, scandalous young woman desperate for attention. These subplots weave themselves through the main storyline and flesh out all the characters.

I really enjoyed this novel, with its insight into the private lives of the future Edward VIII and those around him, even if the love affair between David and Lily seemed a bit immature (but of course they were both seventeen). Dean gives a very realistic view of the world before the Great War, and the seamless way she incorporates real world events into her story makes it all come to life vividly. I'm still not sure I totally like the ending, but in Dean's world, it works. Certainly I know I'll never look at the romance between David and Wallis Simpson in the same way again.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Torment, the second book in Lauren Kate's Fallen series, picks up with Luce leaving Sword & Cross and moving (without her parents' knowledge) across the country to the exclusive Shoreline School where she will be supposedly safe from those enemies who want to see she and Daniel parted forever. Luce finds herself being kept in the dark as Cam and Daniel combine forces to fight the Fallen, and she doesn't take it lightly; but when she discovers that Shoreline is a haven for the Nephilim (offspring of a human and an angel), she feels less alone. With the help of her roommate Shelby and new friend Miles, Luce begins to take control of the shadowy Announcers that have plagued her, and also begins attending exclusive classes designed to educate the Nephilim. But the biggest change? Luce becomes unsure of her relationship with Daniel after all his secrecy and the constant bickering between them.

For the most part, I absolutely loved Torment. I especially love that Luce has doubts about her eternal, undying love for Daniel; that makes it so much more realistic than many of the other young adult books out there. I love that Luce is taking charge of her life, making her own decisions, trying to find out more about those mysterious past lives that she shared with Daniel. I loved the new characters, including Miles; while as a romantic I naturally want to see Luce end up with Daniel, I can see the appeal of Miles and I like that I'm torn between the two. Shelby is too much fun, and I also enjoyed the additions of Francesca and Steven as teachers (but do I detect something more sinister in those two? Hmmmm....).

What works in Torment works really, really well. There is quite a bit of bickering between Luce and Daniel, and the frustration between them is mounting. But when they work as a couple, they truly work. There were moments when I wished the action would move on a little more quickly, but I was enthralled with the Announcers and the way they can take Luce into the past. As with any sequel, I also have to remind myself that I'm not in charge; it's all up to the author and where she wants to take us. And so far, I'm right along for the ride. Passion, the next in the series, is already pre-ordered and I'm revved up for it.


Monday, June 06, 2011

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

...I wanted more! More Aislinn, more SethandAislinn, more Keenan, more action, more sense in the resolutions, more Niall, more Iri...just more. After having developed relationships with these characters over the course of four books, I felt like I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels, waiting, jumping around, hand wringing. In short, I just didn't feel as connected as I had before, and that sorta makes me ticked off.

Not that Darkest Mercy is bad, by a long shot. (possible spoilers've been warned...are you still reading?) I thoroughly enjoyed when War got her comeuppance, and I mourned when characters died. I just didn't really care so much about Death's appearance, and I found all the anger and insanity at the "death" of a major character sort of illogical. I wanted Aislinn to become who she was meant to be sooner; I wanted Keenan's actions to make sense ("Choose me! You have a week! No, you've got to do it now! I don't care if you choose me!"), I wanted Seth to get angry. And while everything is wrapped up neatly, it did seem pretty convenient in many ways. But hey, I like happy endings, so I'm not complaining on that score. But now that I think of it...just what did Keenan accomplish by meeting the water fey other than one thing? Kinda pointless, actually.

Marr's world has been painstakingly built and the final book in the series is still good, even if I wish that more attention had been given to the actual characters rather than the impending inevitable battle. I'd still like to know what happens next...will Seth still be sentenced to spend a month with Sorcha (that's actually more like a year)? What chaos will Iri stir up? How do the fey recover? Mostly I'm reluctant to let go of these characters and this world. Even if Darkest Mercy didn't quite live up to my expectations, it is still a good conclusion that leaves just enough hope for more of the story in the future.