Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Ashford Affair

The Ashford Affair is a sweeping tale of family secrets and what happens when those secrets are brought to light many years later. Moving between the early part of the twentieth century to the last, The Ashford Affair tells the story of young Addie, whose parents are killed in the early 1900s; she is sent to live with her unknown uncle's titled family, where it is made clear that she is not really a part of them...except for her cousin Bea, who immediately takes Addie under her wing. As the years go by, we see incidents of the girls that show Bea's true nature and Addie's willingness to accept everything Bea does, until Bea's life takes a tumble into scandal that also breaks Addie's heart.

Meanwhile, in 1999, Clemmie, Addie's granddaughter, is working herself to death to make partner in a law firm and trying to get over the break up of her engagement. When Addie becomes ill, Clemmie begins to realize that she's neglected her grandmother; the stepson of her aunt Anna leads Clemmie to try to discover a few family secrets before it's too late. The hint of lost romance between the two also makes for much tension, but it's what Clemmie learns midway through the novel that knocks her for a loop.

The Ashford Affair is so well written that I was pulled into the lives of its characters immediately, often reading long past my bedtime just so I could see the next layer revealed. While it was fairly easy to see where at least part of the story was headed, the gorgeous writing pulled me into the era so fully that I was never quite sure if I would be correct. My biggest issue is the way things were neatly tied up at the end; there are a couple of problems with detective work that I might not buy into if I let it bother me. But overall this story is grand, and one I'll be thinking about for a while to come. Recommended!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Every Day

Every Day, A wakes up in a different body, one that corresponds to whatever age he/she happens to be at that time. He's able to access the mind/memories of the person he occupies, but must live that person's life for the entire day, regardless of sex, race, handicap, circumstances. It's always been that way, and will be that way forever, and A has accepted it. Until he finds himself inside Justin, and falls in love with Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that time on, A uses the bodies he occupies to be near Rhiannon, wondering what will happen when she learns the truth.

Every Day has such an interesting concept, and A is such an engaging narrator, that I inhaled this book. It was refreshing to find a couple who does not instantly fall in love; over the course of the month the book takes place, there is a slow building of emotion (even if A does seem a bit like a stalker at times; he's simply never had anyone in his existence before for whom he cares). The relationship between he and Rhiannon is overwhelming for lots of reasons, but it's real. Mr. Levithan knows how teens think and how they feel, and he nails both.

What is probably the best, most thought-provoking part of the book, however, are the glimpses into the every day lives of the people whose bodies A occupies. All are aged sixteen; some are popular, some are mean, some are beautiful, some are ugly, and a few are desperate. A struggles with what he wants to do as opposed to what he should do while he's inside a body. And this struggle leads to trouble in the form of Nathan, a boy he occupies who somehow knows things are different and is determined to find out the truth.

In the paranormal genre, there's only so many tales to be told, so many monsters to embody. While occupying someone is not a new idea, it takes on a whole new meaning in the hands of Mr. Levithan. I couldn't stop reading; I had to know how it would end. Even when I thought I knew what would happen, I didn't, and that's the beauty of the story. I have a feeling I'm going to be thinking about this one for a very long time, and wishing I had the thrill of reading it again for the first time. Highly recommended.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The 5th Wave...Go Read This One. Now. What Are You Waiting For?

Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave starts off with a bang, launching us into the life of Cassie Sullivan, who has somehow survived the Arrival of the aliens and their four waves of attack designed to decimate the humans of Earth: Lights Out, Surf's Up, Pestilence, and Silencers. Determined to retrieve her five year old brother Sammy from the hands of those who have taken him for protection, Cassie sidesteps burning cities, carrying her Luger and her M16, knowing her parents and most of those she has known are dead. Her trek to the former Wright-Patterson Air Force base where Sammy is being kept is treacherous, and when she is shot by a Silencer, she knows her time has come to an end. Maybe.

Sorry I can't do justice to this gripping story in so short a summary, but there is so much going on with several twists and turns that it's hard to grasp it all. Cassie's voice is horrifyingly real as we experience her emotions and her determination to get to her brother, the last family she has left; she's a survivor who somehow finds ways to either outsmart or out manuever the aliens who are systematically destroying all humans. I felt her pain and I experienced her thoughts; she's become one of my favorite teenaged protagonists. If she were the only redeeming character in The 5th Wave, I'd have been completely satisfied with the book. But amazingly enough, her point of view is not the only one, nor is it the most riveting.

Interspersed with Cassie's tale (told both in the present and also through flashbacks) are the stories of Zombie, Evan, and even Sammy, the five year old brother of Cassie. Every time I moved from one point of view to another, my heart went along just as deeply; I found myself submerged into the head of whomever was telling the story. But it's Sammy who had my soul; when I followed him as he told the story of his departure from Cassie and their father, my heart melted and I wanted to reach inside those pages and hold him close. Kudos, Mr. Yancey; you had this non-crier in tears seeing things through Sammy's eyes.
The 5th Wave is, of course, a post-apocalyptic tale, but it's so much more than that. There's justifiable hatred, despair, determination, stubbornness, heartbreak, brilliance and redemption on almost every page; there's a deep sense of humanity's ability to rally in the face of overwhelming odds. Our main characters aren't perfect but they don't have to be. I'm so far beyond hooked that I'm literally giddy with the thought of more novels to come in this series. Do yourself a favor and go read this one right now. I guarantee that you're gonna find pieces of yourself left inside its pages when you close it. Highly recommended. What are you waiting for?

Seriously, why are you still here? Go get this book.


Friday, April 12, 2013

With All My Soul

What can I say about the Rachel Vincent's awesome ending to her Soul Screamers series, With All My Soul? I simply devoured it, staying up past my bedtime to finish it off last night. What an excellent, creative ending to a series that has just gotten better with each new entry.

This last novel in the series opens with Emma inside a new body, and Kaylee still trying to figure out how to put a stop to hellion Avari's evil ways. When the parents of three of the group are taken into the Netherworld, the gang of high school students pull out all the stops in order to obtain their safe return. Kaylee ends up toying with yet another hellion, Ira, and trying to avoid a deal with the devil. How it all plays out is both awful and perfect.

With All My Soul has plenty of very deep moments, and emotions are raw and rampant throughout. I especially loved the interactions between Kaylee and Tod; those two are perfect together, but all the other couples seem well matched, too. There are a few times when the action seems slow, but in actuality, it is necessary for the build to the climax. I really cannot say anything bad about this book, or indeed, the entire series; Ms. Vincent has written a solid set of novels that come very highly recommended from this reviewer.


Monday, April 08, 2013


Totally stolen from The Capricious Reader:

Time // 8:21 Monday morning
Place // Work. Just got here a few minutes ago. Have taken care of basic duties and am now waiting for the morning bell to ring to signal Round One.
Eating // Have carrots with ranch dip on my desk.
Drinking // Coca Cola, my one for the day. Some people drink coffee; I drink Coke.
Reading // Finished Lover At Last by J.R. Ward over the weekend, and picked up With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent immediately after. It's the final in the Soul Screamers series. Am about 150 pages in so far.
Watching // Watched Call the Midwife and then Game of Thrones last night. Excellent.
Listening // Nothing special right now. Don't do audio books.
Pondering // Writing. Still thinking and processing the book idea through. Just need to push myself to write.
Blogging // One review over the weekend.
Promoting // Ummmm....students?
Hating // Stupid Idiot State Testing. Everything about it.
Anticipating // Summer break! Come on, May 24!
Worrying // Oldest daughter--what will she do once she graduates in August?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Lover At Last

I am a die-hard Black Dagger Brotherhood fan but even I was a little worried about how J.R. Ward would pull off the story of Blay and Qhuinn. This is a relationship that's been simmering for a while now, and frankly, we readers are very invested in our favorite bromance. Thankfully, the Warden pulls it off...mostly. And I am of the camp that any visit with the BDB is a worthwhile visit, no matter the minor irritations that need attention. Let me explain.

Things Ward got precisely right:  The intimacy.  It might have been understandable that Ward shied away from the homosexual aspect, but she didn't, not on any level. (cue applause here). Also, the character development of all was spot on; I believed Xcor was longing for his Chosen, and the interplay between iAm and Trez was awesome. In fact, any time Trez showed up I was delighted. I am totally in love with the Shadows, and they bring extra spice to a landscape I thought I knew very well. I also like the way the war between the Brotherhood and the BoB is heating up; it's a totally logical progression and I foresee rough times ahead. I admit to feeling a bit choked up when Qhuinn is chosen, and the airplane flight is classic. Also, that epilogue? Tremendous! Except for one little issue...

Things Ward needs to consider:  Stop centering plots around misunderstandings and withholding of information. That's been done and overdone, and it needs to stop. Next:  Not everyone feels instant love/longing. I got a little tired of how often desire was instantaneous and overwhelming, especially since it was particularly rampant in LAL. A slow build of interest would be all right, you know. All the side stories? Too much. Too much set up, too much wandering...we need more focus and less set up for future books. If a book isn't 600 pages, it's okay. Padding isn't really necessary. As much as I love Assail, his story with Sola needed the background; we really needed to know about his business (and the bit with Elan was excellent). And that one little issue? "Don't Stop Believin'"?  Really?

Still, even with the minor annoyances, Lover at Last is a worthy entry into the series. I love the world building, and I love the characters; there's nothing like good banter between the Brothers. Sure, I could point out the relentless branding and the overuse of the Old World language and accents, but this series is still one of the best around.