The Girl at Midnight (2)

savagedawn
It has been over six months since I read the Shadow Hour, but if I remember right Echo now has rad powers. Something to do with black fire she can’t actually control and her new love interest’s sister is trying to harness the power of complete darkness that came as a balance point to Echo‘s in an attempt at mad power-grabbing.

And, didn’t the crazy power-hungry sister actually kidnap her own brother to drain him of all his magic so she can get more powerful? All for the sake of winning a war whose outcome she’s not even interested in anymore…

Did I miss anything?

Oh, yes! Echo‘s only mentor and mother-figure, the Ala, barely just survived an attack by this aforementioned dark force and has not been able to provide any meaningful advice or guidance. She has barely even made an appearance during the first two books and even so continues to be my favorite character.

The good thing I’m looking forward to is some closure. It drives me crazy when I’m looking forward to the ending of a story and then it turns out there’s another one. At least this one will have no surprises of that kind (it better not). I mean, it says so in the cover: “The Final Book“!

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Love triangles

Allow me to indulge in some book-related rambling…

I’ve noticed that there’s this plot device that is becoming more and more popular in recent years. This is the love triangle.

Of course, this is not something new, an I’m not saying it is… but it feels like lately, it is everywhere. Even where it was completely unnecessary.

I find that, in my experience, there are three kinds of love-triangle:

  1. Where there is lying. I hate lying. I hate when the story spends many pages exulting or excusing the betrayal and the breaking of trust from one character to another. It doesn’t matter if it is old-fashioned cheating or if it’s magically induced, or as simple as forgetting to mention there’s a boyfriend.
  2. Where it’s all about timing and circumstance. Ok, there’s always room for attenuating circumstances. I can endure and even start to enjoy a love story when new events or circumstances change one of the character’s life view so much that the relationships they had before start to feel like they don’t fit anymore.
  3. Where there’s enough love to go around. I’ve only seen this kind once, in Mal de Amores, where one person can love two different people, precisely because they are different. And there was no drama, no fights, and no jealousy. This is the kind of love triangle I think we should see more of, and I even expected it where I didn’t get it.

Of course, almost all of these are based on the most popular 2-boys-one-girl set up. And, while this is popular and it’s supposed to reflect women’s liberation, I think it shows a lack of imagination and a serious case of narrow-mindedness. At least in my opinion.

Please, if you know of any different setups, do recommend me some. there is nothing more refreshing than originality.

Catching Fire

4/5
by Suzanne Collins

 

I was actually not expecting to like this book as much as I did.

Catching_fireHonestly! I really liked it. it is filled with action and a lot of not knowing what is happening. I loved the fact that it was all told from the perspective of Katniss, so every time she’s confused or surprised or shocked, you are as well.

Not to dismiss the all-knowing narrator, but I do enjoy being surprised.

I have to say that for me, this book was a lot about betrayal. But I kind of liked that. It felt right to feel like that when everything feels like a battle for survival. And it IS a battle for survival! At least for Katniss

SPOILER ALERT

… She feels like she’s betraying her life-long friend, by faking a relationship with Peeta, but at the same time, Gale having feelings for her and trying to push their agenda with her when all she wants is to find the light at the other light of this tunnel she voluntarily got into, that feels like a betrayal to her.

And, on top of all that, comes the expected but not any less shocking betrayal of the government. She tried really hard to please the President. She did what she was asked, and was willing to do more… but it didn’t make any difference. The government still breaks all possible trust, as small and tentative as this could’ve been, by sending her back to fight for her life to that place she barely survived the first time.

And, just in case you thought that wasn’t enough to break all her trust in people in general, her friends betray her. By lying, by plotting against her, by using her as a pawn in their own game… as if she hadn’t had enough of that. It doesn’t matter if they think it is a noble cause or if they call it a Revolution or whatever.

It is all a betrayal, for Katniss. She is being forced into a role and into actions that don’t come of her own volition. You know how we call in the real life when someone is forced against their will to do something they don’t’ want to do? ABUSE! She’s being abused! By her friends! I feel for her.

I would’ve gouged Haymitch‘s eyes out without remorse.

But that’s just me.

… I think the only person in the whole book who doesn’t demand anything from Katniss is Peeta. I think he sees what she’s going through, and most of all, he understands her. He can empathize and he just loves her, anyway she lets him, being with her in any capacity she needs. That is true love.

That is true love.

The Shadow Hour

4/5
Ok. Another story that turns out has another sequel.

I’ve read many stories with multiple point of view and there are some pretty awkward and confusing stories out there, but I can honestly say that The Shadow Hour isn’t one of those.

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

You get a bit of the drama, with the love triangle of Rowan, Echo and Caius; you also get a bit of the sweet stuff, with Dorian and Jasper and how their relationship blossoms in spite of the war going on; but you also get a bit of comic relief here and there and Ivy with her compassionate view of a world and the people that have done her many wrongs.

It’s  great story, but i’m not sure I liked where it ended. An absolutely not sure abut what to expect on the next one. While I enjoyed this one with its mysteries and budding romances, it felt a bit anti-climatic by the end.

And, honestly! there was too little heard from the Ala. She is one of my favorite characters!

But well… I guess there is no other option but to wait for the next installment and go from there.

The Build-Up

3/5
The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

This was the second part of the series, A Fire Beneath the Skin, after Ink Mage… and while the story does move forward a little, it felt much like prep work.

There was a lot of setting the stage happening, from meeting the Empress who cannot back up from the already-laid invasion plans, to the cith and soldiers preparing for the expected siege. It all felt like a big long prologue.

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

There was even a considerable part of the book where the fate of the Duchess was unknown!

And don’t get me started on Alam and his thoughtless fleeing. It gave the story a sense of going backwards. The Duchess is again on the road, looking for the tools she will need to fight her enemies, whoever they may be; Alam and the gypsy girl are again getting involved behind Rina’s back; the the girls from the whorehouse and their madam seem to be the only ones truly involved in saving the city from within; and, the enemy army prepares for a full-on invasion. It all feels too much like what was happening in the first book, just slightly bigger. And throwing some battling Gods into the mix…

I want to think that all off this anticipation and build-up will be worth it for the last part of the series, A Paintes Goddess, because if it isn’t I’ll be terribly disappointed.

Fey and technology

2/5

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I’d like to believe that most women of my generation and younger, like me, enjoy and prefer the stronger take-charge can-save-myself heroines. But I just have very little patience for whining.

And the first two-thirds of this story we got nothing but whining. And this main character, Megan Chase, starts out our story just like that. And when she’s not martyring herself, she’s making half-ass decisions without considering the consequences in the slightest.  Like giving away a memory. I thought that was a terrible idea even before we got to glimpse what the oracle took.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

By the time we get to see Megan get into the frey as an equal, there’s only a couple of chapter left in the book.

She’s supposed to be the daughter of a Fey King! She lacked a little… something… oomph, maybe.

Another thing that bothered me was how things develop between Robin Goodfellow, Megan and Ash. The girl falls in-love with the handsome an dark prince while ignoring and allowing him to override his trust for his life-friend? Doesn’t that sound like the beginning of  potentially abusive or destructive relationship to you? That is without considering that she’s all in-love with this guy, who she doesn’t even really know. That has always been a pet peeve of mine when it comes to love story plots.

Of course, she doesn’t really know her long-time friend either, but that’s a whole other thing… isn’t it?

To make a long story short, i didn’t really enjoy this book much. i think reading Empire of Storms at the same times didn’t help much. So, there’s that too. No fae prince can really measure up when compared to Rowan Whitethorn… what else can I say!

I do have the whole series, The Iron Fey. I got it in a bundle before I even started the first one. So, maybe… and let me remark on that, MAYBE… I’ll end up reading the rest of them. I understand that in the third one, Megan Chase actually becomes The Iron Queen, so that might be worth reading about. I’m not in any hurry, though.

 

Unhappy endings 

(This post is full of spoilers for Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. If you haven’t read both the books from that series, I would seriously recommend you don’t read this. If you’ve read them and don’t agree with my opinions, please, feel free to say so. I would seriously enjoy knowing what others thought of this) 

Have you ever had a book ending going circles in your head all night?

I couldn’t stop thinking about Shadow Scale‘s ending. Seraphina, the main character, ends up all alone and kind is stranded among the remains of her old life.

Or, at least, that’s what it felt like to me…

My first thought, after Queen Grisselda confessed her love for Seraphina and her cryptic words afterwards, was to think that maybe they would end up, together with Prince Lucian Kiggs, in a non-traditional three-way marriage/relationship where they all three loved each other equally.

I think that would have made more sense to me, but I also understand that would have tipped this books out of the YA category into the Adult section… So I guess that was too much to ask for.

But then… And idea came to me… Something that I think would have also made sense, if expanded upon.

At the end of the story, to free her friends (and basically everyone else) from the mental influence of Jannoula, Seraphina manages to free her mind powers by stepping out of herself… Or at least that’s how she explains it… And by doing so, she manages to feel the life energy (or mind fire, or soul light, or whatever you want to call it) of everyone everywhere.

And she is specific enough to explain that she means…

everyone, everywhere.

Not just within the city she’s standing outside of, but people in far away places, too. And it fills her with wonderment, understandably, but also with love. Love for everyone everywhere, I’m assuming.

Later on, while she’s recovering for the confrontation, Prince Lucian says something that kept bothering me, and in many other circumstances I would have consider it a horrendous thing to say to the girls you’re supposedly in love with… He says, that in all that display of power and energy, for a moment, he felt he loved Jannoula.

As in, the same way he and the queen love Seraphina? As in, everything they think they feel is a byproduct of her being a half-breed and not of their free and honest will?

And if she will for ever feel the echo of this connection to everything and everyone that she felt while she was one with the universe… Does that mean she will forever more be able to feel this unlimited love for all living beings? Would that take away her ability to love one single man completely and selfishly?

That WOULD make her saintly… wouldn’t it? Would it show with her insistence that Kiggs marries his cousin, Queen Grisselda? (which stills sounds highly incestuous to me, not so much for the fact that they are family, but mostly because they actually grew up together)

Even when Dame Okra Carmine confronts Seraphina about her feelings about the wedding party (that she not only attends, but plays and helps plan!), and the obvious necessity that the future of the royal bloodline will eventually bring along… she’s very flippant about it all. And it doesn’t feel like an I’m strong, I can do this kind of thing. She honestly seems unable to care much about it. Detached. Would that be a symptom of her inability to be selfish about her emotional needs?

And then, there was the lost of her uncle, Orma. We are very clearly made aware that he might not be lost for good, and that there’s hope of getting him back. but we never know about the fate of Seraphina‘s father. The has just been a war, and dragons were falling out of the sky in flames… and she never even wonders about her father and his family?

 

What do YOU make of all this?

Cliffhanger

3/5

Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Serial killers.

Who doesn’t enjoy stories about serial killers?

I do. Does that make me weird?

Without wanting to get too much into how old I am, let me tell you that I used to watch -and love- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And this book series is starting to feel like that. Every book a new episode. Including the post-conclusion chapter that only gives you a taste os what is to come without any details to tie you over. All designed to make you read the next book, I’m sure.

I did feel more repetition of previous books facts, but that could be because I read this one right after the previous one without any pause nor delay. We did get more information about Alex Craft and her childhood and origins, but for every new thing we learn, 20 more questions pop up. There is so much mystery and confusion around her father and his motives that it’s becoming a bit of a drag, and the no-progress is driving me a bit nuts.

Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Another thing that’s starting to worry me, is all the leftover bits. There are a few facts and events from  Grave Witch and Grave Dance that seem to have been neglected or happened for no reason. I really hope I’m wrong and the author is planning to collect all those bits and pieces that Alex seems to be forgetting and use them in a creative way further down the story line. Otherwise I’ll be seriously disappointed.

Things are getting more and more dicey with Alex‘s personal life and that, I think, makes the story more interesting… if not taken too far. I don’t think I would enjoy if the next book focuses too much in her romantic woes instead of all the crime and social/political issues popping up around her. I mean… her city is in the verge of chaos! and her father playing a very unknown and convoluted political game around her! And her friendships are going through a rough patch. I think all that needs to be more important than the two boys vying for her attentions..

But I guess there’s nothing but wait and see.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to the fourth book of this series, Grave Visions, but I’ll keep you posted.

Responsible pet owner

4/5

Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

Who wouldn’t carry their tiny dog in a world-saving mission? I would.

Too bad my dog is not that tiny and I don’t really go on many world-saving missions.

I was looking for something nice and easy, that would give my imagination a work-out without asking too much intellectual input… I think I found it. I’m not saying that this is a book without substance or dumbed down, not at all. But neither does it have many complicated mysteries nor too emotional twists. It is a comfortable read, and a highly entertaining one. I really enjoyed it.

I read the first book on this series several weeks ago, so I appreciate the short and to the point recounts of all the previous facts that this story offers all along the way. It was great in a “don’t get lost” kind of way without being repetitive.

It did remind heavily of A Court of Thornes and Roses, but I’m guessing that’s only because I read that one first (If I pay attention to the publishing dates, I guess it would be the other way around), except I liked this one better.

GraveDance

Both books talk about faes, and Fearie courts and fae royalty, but I guess this female main character didn’t feel that hopeless and never really becomes their toy. I’ve never really enjoyed stories that involve the abuse of those without the ability to defend themselves, and Grave Dance has none of that.

We do get a view into an interesting and complex world, full of diverse being with diverse powers and motivations. You’re never quite sure who you can trust, and that makes everything all the more interesting.

And of course, that was on top of all the crime fighting and mystery-killer chasing! There was even some mythical creatures and love triangles.

Now, I have claimed many times to hate love triangles, and that’s still true, but mostly what I hate is the sense of betrayal, or when a story focus too hard on the love interest part of the story… This author does notpne of that.

Yes, there are two guys pursuing one girl that cannot seem to decide between the two… But there’s no deceiving nor cheating. They both know about each other and none of them is pushing the issue. There’s also no long winded monologues about the pains and suffering of being wanted by two handsome guys, on the contrary, they times she mentions it is only to point out how that is not really important or relevant with all the dire things happening around her.

And, of course. Who says she cannot be involved with two guys at one? Specially when none of the three sides of that triangle are really what you would call available?

There are more parts to this books series that I’ll be sure to get to soon.

Find and not look, look and not find.

When I decided to start with this challenge, I made a rough booklist to cover all the checks I needed. But, how did I pick them, you ask? With the help Goodreads and all the already-made booklist there. Of course, the list has changed and grown as I go through it.

So, yes… at some point I searched for “books with love triangles”, and then checked it against all the books on my shelf (the wood one, or the digital one) already waiting to be read… and that’s how I came up with Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

And after complaining so much and sso often about all those love triangles that seem pointless and unnecessary all over the place, I had some trouble seeing why wold this particular book made that list.  It took some thinking and reviewing but I think I see it, and I’m sure it will become more obvious and heart-breaking as the story goes on for the rest of the books (if the movies are anything to go by).

I sppose that after the overly sexual three-way romance on Witches of East End, and slightly annoyingly dramatic one on Shatter Me, this one felt almost accidental. I did feel somwhat real and appropriately juvenile, thou… No so much as something she does, or bad judgment on her part, but allowing things to be left unsaid and refusing to think about the consequences of her actions.

imageBut then again, how can anything possibly matter when you are being thrown into a battle field to die publicly for people’s entertainment?

Of course, I’ll have to read the other two. I would like to say that it will be done before the lst movie comes out, but I don’t think it can be done if I want to stop deviating of my goal.

33-love32

Witches and gods.

I feel a tad conflicted when it comes to Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz.

On the one hand, I LOVE witches. Magic wands made of dragon bone, flying brooms, spells and potions… Even dancing toy soldiers.

Magic = I’m a fan.

On the other hand, I felt that there was too much going on. There were three witches with very different lives and very different problems. Then there was a vampire, and family issues, and then there was a council that we never really got to know much about and the lot of references to the Salem witch trials that only got a very short explanation late in the book.

I don’t know. Of course there was the love affair, and I’m sure you know how I feel about setting the really good guy against the naughty one. But of course, it turns out that the good was bad and the other way around… So that was that.
And then there was the woman who lost her husband, only to get him and and loose him again on a more horrible way. And the girl that got abused a beaten to death and only got a few lines to explain what happened to her… Like an afterthought.
I really don’t know how I feel about this book.
And don’t get me started about the mythological references. My mythology isn’t that good, even when I DID watch Thor. Half the time I had no idea what they were talking about,

Bottom line… It was good, but I wouldn’t keep it around to read again and again like most of my magic and witches books.

image

I remember a while back hearing about this TV show and watching some episodes, it never really  grabbed my attention. There were a couple of interesting things but not enough. I DO remember that there were four witches and not just three and the affair thing was way messier. But I guess that’s what always happens when books are molested my TV producers.

tvshow2

I am not insane.

imageI’m still trying to catch up with all the books that I’ve already read this year, and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, is the one that has given me the most trouble to write about. I just don’t know what to say.

I liked the scratching of sentences, it was pretty cool. It gave me that not-so-mentally-stable feeling, that I feel is completely appropriate to this girl that has spent so much time locked up in an asylum without any human contact whatsoever. Her ramblings during the first part of the story were the part I liked most.

I could be that it was the only part I liked, actually.

I’m not saying that it was horrible. It wasn’t even bad! It was quite entertaining and somewhat interesting, but it just didn’t captivate me. It could be that it requires a younger audience, but I refuse to believe that for it would mean that I’m getting old and that’s just unspeakable!

Or it could be that I just don’t enjoy those truly goo guy vs tortured bad guy kind of love triangles. I find them a bit juvenile. I don’t think I found them acceptable even when I was a teenager myself.

I don’t know, maybe I should pass it to one of my younger cousins, maybe they would enjoy it. In the mean time, I have no plans of reading the rest of the books in this series. Especially not the ones from they boys’ point of views. They sound too much like the last chapters of Allegiant, definitely not for me.

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