Review: Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey

Children of the Night (Diana Tregarde, #2)Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book rather like I enjoy B-flicks: entertaining, a little bit cheesy, and somewhat unremarkable in the end. Diana ran the gamut for me, she wasn’t the strong woman I had the idea she’d be, although I wouldn’t categorize her as weak exactly. Unfortunately, it seemed to me that she spent an awful amount of time on either feeling sorry for herself or weeping, sometimes both. Good lord woman! Get it together! I didn’t mind it some much earlier on because I thought she would grow by the last page, but it stayed pretty even throughout.

The book takes place in the seventies, around the Watergate scandal, so there are some major differences in speech and how people act. I get the feeling that even though it wasn’t published until 1990, it might have been written in the seventies. Maybe it wasn’t and I’m wrong, but the book sure feels that way. Anyway, I liked some of the ideas, especially the gaki (although stop calling him the “Oriental!” Gah!!) and dealing with psi-vampires, but I thought they could have been explored in further detail. Instead the book features some odd and goofy exchanges between Diana and Andre, one of which deals with her anxiety attacks in a truly hurried and unrealistic way. I don’t believe in the matter of a few hours they could just disappear like that, it just doesn’t ring true. Almost half the book deals with another character’s side of things, Dave, and while I could have used a trim on his view (he too had a lot of self-pity), surprisingly he turned out to have grown more by the end than Diana did. What really got my goat was the phrase “Christ on a crutch” and “gods” used to the nth degree. At a certain point if I heard one of those one more time, I swear I would have thrown the book across the room. Ugh!

Overall, while it wasn’t the best book I read, it kept me reading and I didn’t hate it. While I felt the short story I read in Trio of Sorcery (Diana Tregarde, #0.5) was stronger, I’d still give the next book Burning Water a go.

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Review: Impostor (Slide, #2) by Jill Hathaway

Impostor
Impostor by Jill Hathaway
Genre: Romance – Young Adult – Mystery, Series
Received: Digital copy borrowed from library
Finished: July 22, 2013
Reviewed: July 23, 2013
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Impostor is a step up in the Slide series, but only slightly. I still feel that the writing is, well, a little basic; it gets the job done, but that’s about it. The main plot is an interesting idea that entertained, yet wasn’t used to its full potential. I expected it to be darker and for there to be more peril involved, what with an “impostor” involved (impostor is a bit of a misnomer, it’s not quite the term I’d use), but it never got close to that point. If there had been more grit and danger, the book could have been a killer sequel instead of disappointing. However, on the plus side, the mystery is tighter and better constructed, and I couldn’t say for certain that I had figured it out, but I did have an idea (I so smart. Not.). The other plots are fine, somewhat predictable or didn’t go as deep as they could have, but they were alright. All the plots are tied up just a little too neatly at the end, not that there isn’t enough of the sliding power to be utilized for future books, but everything ends a little too rosy for the circumstances. Oh well.

In Slide (the first book), I found Vee to be a rather shallow characterization and dim as far as picking up on clues. I’m happy to say that changed in this book. Sure, she said/did stupid things, not because she was dumb, but because people do say and do stupid things, no matter their intelligence. It’s a fact (okay, my fact, but it still counts). For most of the book Vee spent a lot of time having a snotty, self-absorbed, “woe is me” attitude, which might annoy some people, but made me believe her as a teenage character. Face it, most teenagers can act like that to some degree or another (I sure know I could be!). I’m not quite sure where the sliding power is going, if I like where it’s gone, or if there’s even going to be more books in the series, but it is an idea that has many possibilities. I’m just not positive that it’ll ever get to them. Overall, a decent book that passes the time, but nothing spectacular that’ll blow your mind (maybe, I could just be assuming things again).

Random notes:
This series sure has many awesome covers.
What is with YA books featuring a female protagonist “borrowing” some of Veronica Mars’ back story? This is the second one I’ve come across. O__o

ARC Review: Slide (Slide, Book One) by Jill Hathaway

Slide (Slide, #1)Slide by Jill Hathaway
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Book Descripton (via Amazon):

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

*****

Slide features an intriguing idea though the results left me with mixed feelings. The concept is awesome, but the execution? Yeah, not so much. The writing is serviceable, neither bad nor great and it didn’t draw me into the story straightaway. Both the way it is written and the storyline reminds me of some of the books I read as a pre-teen/teen way back during the Pleistocene epoch, otherwise known as the 1990s, with authors like Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Diane Hoh, Lois Duncan, Richie Tankersley Cusick, among others. It especially seems to fall right in between Pike and Stine. While the writing is more mature than Stine’s, it’s not quite as sophisticated as Pike’s. The mystery is weak, and by the end, seems pointless as it’s totally anti-climactic, over in a flash, like it was written just to finish the book up, and absurdly contrived. The whole ending is totally ludicrous and unbelievable. The clues leading up to it are obvious and not incorporated into the story well at all. These clues were so glaring they all but had a flashing sign pointing to them in cartoon-like fashion whenever they fell into the main character’s path. Sylvia a.k.a. Vee wasn’t written as a dummy, at first, but boy she was an absolute idiot about those clues and putting two and two together, or really much of anything until it slapped her in the face. While Vee is sympathetic, I can’t say I felt much of anything for her, and even less for anyone else in book because of their lack of depth. No one is explained in any detail, either personality or looks, motivations, or whatever. Just a brief shallow summary if lucky. Speaking of…. What has happened in books today where there are no descriptions of how anybody looks, except “I have pink hair,” “his blonde hair,” or some other toss away adjective? I’ve seen it over and over again and all I’m left with is the visualization that these people have no faces, much like that episode of Doctor Who (The Idiot’s Lantern). Frankly it’s all rather creepy.

I feel like this could have been a great book if it was longer (the copy I read is only 250 pages of at least 1.5 spaced lines) and had much more depth. Add in a couple more suspects, motivations, etc., and maybe a little more information on Vee’s “sliding” powers. Unfortunately it’s only an “okay” read that’s easy and moves at a rapid pace. I didn’t hate the book by any means, it’s just not one that’ll stick in my head for more than a few days. On the plus side I love the cover composition and colors, so kudos to the artist(s). This works fine as a standalone, but is now part of a series, for some unfathomable reason. Frankly, I’m getting sick of every book that comes out, most usually in the YA genre, becoming a series. It’s ridiculous how few standalone books there are anymore. Still, even with all my grumbling about the numerous series and everything else, I think I will check out Impostor, the second book in the Slide series, as it sounds interesting. Who knows, this might have just been the stepping stone to bigger and better things. Although if Vee is as stupid as she was in this one, I’m outta there.

2.5 stars

Originally Reviewed: October 16, 2012
Received: Amazon Vine

Review: Hex Marks the Spot

Hex Marks the Spot
Hex Marks the Spot by Madelyn Alt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here we are into the third entry into the Bewitching Mystery series. So what’s Maggie into this time? The murder of an Amish ladies’ man, one who’s married and has young kids, at that. She also has struggles with her love life and is overcoming her fear of the “unknown” and becoming more adept at using her gift.

May contain minor spoilers of previous books.

A few times throughout this short book (246 pages), I felt like throwing in the towel. After reading the first book, I really felt this was a series for me. One that I connected with and would be able to read book after book. Sadly it has not panned out this way. Mostly because of the main character, Maggie O’Neill, who I really liked in the first book. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with her, I cannot relate to her and I don’t like her too much either. She’s rather a dull fish. Also, some of her thoughts feel forced, especially the “humorous” kind, which might be a big part of why I’m not liking her anymore. Well, whatever it is exactly, she’s just not quite working for me. Though now that she’s using her gift more, this may liven her up in the future, I don’t know. The other thing is her presumptions, or rather the one presumption about the “relationship” between Marcus and Liss she’s had since the first book. Where she ever got that idea in her head, I haven’t a clue, but at least it was resolved by the end of this book. On the up side, she wasn’t as dumb as in the previous book, A Charmed Death. All the other characters in the series I like and feel really add to the series, with maybe the exception of Tom, who is very closed-minded and basically just irritates me as a modern woman. I suppose a character who is that way is needed, and he is making some strides in opening his mind to new and frightening (to him) things, but I don’t get Maggie’s attraction to him; it just has not come across in the three books I’ve read. As for Maggie’s other love interest, Marcus, while he’s definitely way (way, way, way, way, way) more interesting than Tom, and I’m going to flip this, but I totally don’t understand Marcus’s interest in Maggie. I cannot think of anything that would intrigue him about her. I honestly can’t, other than she’s nice. A nice, boring, girl-next-door-type. Well, I guess that’s something. So, the mystery…. Surprisingly, it seemed very minimal in this installment and the baddie very easy to figure out since there wasn’t many, or any, other suspects. Still, it was tied up pretty neatly and made some sort of sense.

At the beginning of every book there is enough of a recap of characters and what’s been going on so each book in the series can easily be read by itself, and not necessarily in order. While that is nice for a new reader or one who has gone a long time inbetween books, it makes for a repetitive nature if read too closely together, so I think it’ll be a while before I pick up the next entry.

Library copy.

Review: Kilmeny of the Orchard

Kilmeny of the Orchard
Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kilmeny of the Orchard is the tale of Eric Marshall, who as a favor to a sick friend comes to the small town of Lindsay on Prince Edward Island to teach at the school. While walking one day, he wanders into a long forgotten orchard and hears beautiful violin music being played by a beguiling young lady, the book’s namesake, Kilmeny. Frightened, Kilmeny flees the orchard and though Eric comes back the next night and then the next, she doesn’t return. Disappointed and intrigued, he asks his landlady about the girl he has seen, not yet knowing her name, and in doing so learns the story of Kilmeny. Mute since birth, she lives sequestered at home with her aunt and uncle who the town considers odd because they keep to themselves, so no one in the town has ever laid eyes on her. Soon after that first meeting, she comes back to the orchard and a friendship between the two begins to bloom towards love.

I went into Kilmeny of the Orchard expecting a sweet love story, which is basically what I got, but I wanted to love the book and unfortunately only ended up finding it so-so. The writing was as lovely as you would expect from L.M. Montgomery and the descriptions brought a certain life to most scenes. However, while I enjoyed the story for the most part, I didn’t become immersed into either it or the characters. This may have to due with how perfect both Eric and Kilmeny were and there was really no “impossible obstacles” to overcome (as the book put it). While I expected a slight fairy tale feel to the book, I was disappointed that there really wasn’t depth to the overall story or the characters, especially whenever Eric thought about Kilmeny it was mostly to mention her looks or how innocent and without guile she was. Okay, so it’s a new love and his first true love, but a little more interaction rather than rhapsodizing over her perfections would have been preferable. Because the book is a product of a different time and place, a few remarks about “foreigners”, such as Neil Gordon who was born in Lindsay to Italian peddlers, Kilmeny’s “defect”, and other mindsets stood out. I wouldn’t say they alienated me from the book but they took me out of the story at times. Even though I understand those views in context to the times this was written, it can still be a hard adjustment for a modern reader. So while this was at times a nice read, it’s hardly something I’ll remember back upon.

Borrowed from the library.

Review: A Charmed Death

A Charmed Death
A Charmed Death by Madelyn Alt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This second installment of the Bewitching Mystery series focuses on the murder of a popular teenage girl who may have been hiding a seedy secret or two. Maggie delves into the case, while also developing her newfound powers and going on her first N.I.G.H.T.S. investigation.

After the slow-moving first seventy to eighty pages that was mostly background information on the town, the shop, characters and a recap of the last book, the story actually moved onto the main mystery in this book. I found the mystery very intriguing and well-done (I could easily envision it on TV, heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had seen a similar story-line), and the author shed more light on Marcus, which was nice, but was also detrimental to other secondary characters, namely Felicity (a.k.a. Liss, which the first time Maggie mentioned that nickname I forgot for a minute who she was referring too. That probably should have been clarified more, I may have read the first book less than a month ago, but I can’t remember everything and it’s not like it’s Melissa/Liss which I would have picked up on immediately. :P). So less Felicity, and also Steff and Tom, surprisingly enough. Any interaction Maggie had with Tom was strained, sometimes strange, and there was a bit at the end I didn’t buy in regards to the two of them. Maggie herself was exactly the same as in the first book, except a bit dumber but I’ll come to that a moment, so that disappointed me. It’s not as if I expect her to grow every book, but a little development here and there or something new we didn’t know about her wouldn’t hurt. Although her development of her ‘powers’ has been nicely and realistically done and the only problem I had was a scene at the end that seemed more magic than magick. Now we come to Maggie doing a couple of stupid things I never thought she’d be dumb enough to do, one of which led to her ‘showdown’ with the murderer. In that instance, she really had no need to do what she did to get him/her arrested or for any reason. It just seemed a contrivance to put her in the murderer’s path. Overall, after the first fourth or so of the book, it was a decent yet flawed read, and I am going to pick up the next in the series with the hope that any minor problems I had will have been just a fluke.

Library copy.

(Clicking on the book cover image or title take you to the book’s product page on Amazon)