Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Great Library, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Release Date: 7 July 2015

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time...

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn...

First, when I requested this book there wasn't series information about it anywhere (at least not that I found), so I thought (silly, I know) that it was a stand-alone book. That thought probably had some effect on my final feelings and thoughts about this story.

This cover is gorgeous, beautiful, and works with the story. I'd love to see it in person and see if it has the texture that the image implies. Once seeing it and finding out that the story revolved around the Library at Alexandria surviving...I couldn't *not* request it.

And I'm glad I did. It gets off to a bit of a slow start, with a lot of things that confused me. There's names for people that do things that aren't really explained (you do start to get the feel for them as you get further in the story), and you're kind of tossed right in. Normally I like that. Here...well, it didn't work as well for me. The beginning felt slow. It was setting up the world and story, I know, but a lot of it simply doesn't make sense to me.

For example, in one of the earliest scenes in the book we find out that books are contraband. Owning a printed (hand-copied) book is illegal. So, of course, there's a flourishing black-market trade for them. Jess is the son of one of these black-market book experts, and because of that he's a 'runner.' Which basically means that he transports the books from his family's interests to the purchasers'. The problem I had with this is that he was RUNNING everywhere to do this. Not only that, but they run in a pack - like wild animals. Huh? Doesn't anyone understand that running draws attention to yourself? And running with a large group of other kids draws even MORE attention? Pretty damn good way to get the Garda after you, don'tcha think? Illogical actions didn't make me have a lot of faith in the author to make things more logical.

Fortunately, for me, she did manage to pull it around and I started to have faith in the storytelling and the characters' actions. The story is fascinating. A library - those that are supposed to allow knowledge to be at the worlds' fingertips - is actually oppressing ideas, progress and knowledge. I still have a little trouble with the premise, but it all comes down to power. Who has it, who wants to keep it, and what they're willing to do to meet those ends. The fact of the matter is that the Library is willing to do anything to keep their power. And that's exactly what the postulants - including Jess - start to learn as they're competing for positions inside the Library itself.

I definitely enjoyed this book. The story moved at a good pace, there was a lot of variety of places and things happening. There's definitely diversity in characters and world. There's a small romance (one that moved a bit too quickly for me even if it wasn't the main focus of the story). There's friendships that I hope stand the test of what's to come. And we're settled right on the cusp of change.

What I didn't love so much was the simplicity of things. Simplicity is maybe the wrong word, but instead of shocking with well placed hints and drawing out the revelations, they were almost shoved in my face immediately. I had no chance to speculate and be surprised by anything because it was all revealed almost as soon as it was a thought. And while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it did disappoint me a bit.

I did mention that I wasn't aware this was part of a series, so when I got to nearly 90% of the book and realized there was no way it was going to be able to wrap up satisfactorily...well I was irritated. I don't mind "cliff-hangers", or multi-part series. I enjoy them, and read quite a few of them (KMM, I'm still looking at you for ruining years of my life waiting on the next books in the Fever series). But this one just kind of stops. It's not a cliff-hanger. It's not a 'OMG! What's going to happen next?!' moment. It's just ... done. And while I *do* want to know what happens in the next book, I'm not anxious and on the edge of my seat for it.

That being said, I *am* going to be putting the next book on my list. I do hope there are some surprises in store for me (and all of the characters), and that - I can't believe I'm saying this: I get to see the Library fall.

Grade: B-

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cover Reveal: Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

I fell in love with Leah Raeder when I read her first book Unteachable. It made me think, made me love, made me uncomfortable. It made me feel.

Ever since I've been closely following her releases, looking forward to each and every one.

Now. Even though it's not coming out until November 3rd, 2015, is Cam Girl. The newest story by this wonderful author. And I'm pleased to be a part of the cover reveal here!

Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art, and her best friend and soulmate, Ellis Carraway. Elle and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets a smooth-talking lothario who offers to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night taking off her clothes on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s all just kinky fun till a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they open up to each other intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. She agrees, because she’s starting to fall for him. And when he asks to meet, she says yes. Because she’s dying to know the real man behind the keyboard.

Even if one of his conditions is to bring Ellis. The girl who wants nothing to do with her anymore.

Now Vada must confront the past she’s been running from. A past full of devastating secrets—those of others, and those she’s been keeping from herself...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Title: Daughter of Deep Silence
Author: Carrie Ryan
Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Young-Adult Suspense
Release Date: 26 May 2015

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

For a good portion of this book I was on the edge of my seat, absolutely enthralled with Frances' journey and revenge. I was with her one-hundred percent. The people that wronged her deserved to be brought to justice. She had a plan, and she was going to stick to it.

If it had continued in this vein, maybe just for a while longer, I would have given this book a perfect grade. The plan was well thought out, well planned, and beautifully poetic. The suspense - even after I began to get annoyed (which I'll get into later) - was superbly done. I was turning pages, unable to get enough, unable to stop. I had to know how it was going to play out and if Frances was going to get her revenge.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Frances' plans to break down. I couldn't stand that she was allowing herself to have these feelings for a boy (Grey) that she thought was - at best - complicit by neglect in the death of everyone she loved and held dear. I could understand everything else that she felt and thought, but not this. If some boy, someone was complicit in such a tragic affair as Frances believed Grey to be, there'd be no forgiveness, at least not as quickly as Frances starts making excuses and reasons for him.

Granted, Grey does seem to be nearly as tortured about their whole history as Frances, but the fact of the matter is that his family survived the tragedy and then LIED about it. While Frances lost her parents, her friend, her life on that ship. Nearly isn't close enough for me. And for this boy Frances changes all of her plans, nearly dying, nearly getting others hurt or killed, nearly losing all justice for those responsible.

And in the end that brought down my enjoyment of the book quite a bit. The cliff-hanger/make-up-your-own-resolution ending didn't help much, but it was really the "romance" that was at the heart of my discontent. I agree that it needed to be there. Frances needed to find some reason - beyond her revenge - to actually live, but the way this one unfolded didn't work as well for me.

Grade: B-

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Title: Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Time: 124 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 12 June 2015 (USA)

Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitors' interest, which backfires horribly.

It's not often that I'm inspired to write a review for a movie. Honestly, I can say that in 10 years of blogging I've never written a movie review (unless you want to count this very short, very early post about Clue). But something about Jurassic World makes me think maybe I should. I've tried summing up my feelings on this movie, but haven't been able to adequately put them together. Maybe this format will allow me to.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs, Rik Hoskin, Tom Garcia

Title: Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly
Author: Patricia Briggs, Rik Hoskin
Artist(s): Tom Garcia
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Release Date: 10 June 2015

Mercy is a shapeshifting coyote and honorary member of the Tri-Cities werewolf pack. When the pack stumbles upon the buried bones of numerous dead children, she shapeshifts into a mystery of the legendary fae - a mystery that draws Mercy's stepdaughter Jesse into the fray! The supernatural romance series Mercy Thompson continues in this all-new, original story by New York Times bestselling author, Patricia Briggs, exclusively created for the comic book medium! Collects the six-issue Mercy Thompson comic book series from 2014-2015, a story set in official continuity.

The Mercedes Thompson series is one of my favorite urban-fantasy book series, period. So, of course as soon as I saw this graphic novel on NetGalley - I requested it! I love graphic novels, and when combining with a kick-ass heroine and world I couldn't refuse.

Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my hopes. While the story was good, and a perfect length for this format, there was no mystery. It was easy to figure out from the beginning who the threat was. The art, while pretty good, didn't 'Wow' me, and left me feeling like some of the panels were rushed and not fully fleshed out.

The story takes place between Frost Burned and Night Broken, and just after Dead Heat. So spoilers through Dead Heat and Frost Burned are possibly.

There were a couple of things that I really loved in this graphic-novel, and a couple that made me think. I was stoked to see that the fae were strategically loosing fae to remind the humans that they were feared for a reason. It opens up whole avenues of stories, and I can't wait to see them. I also really loved that we got to see more of Jesse in this story. What I didn't love was the auto-suspicion that was portrayed here of the wolves, who've never done anything remotely suspicious and always been open and helpful of the police and community. That still frustrates me a lot. Though I suppose it's fairly accurate for how we (humanity) deals with something that's perceived to be 'other.'

Random other thoughts:
*I did NOT picture Zee that way. Whoa.
*Am I the only one that didn't know (or forgot) that Jesse was in high school?? I, for some reason, keep picturing her as much younger.
*Mercy's internal monologuing doesn't come through in the graphic format as well as it does the novel format.
*More fae, please.

None of the characters looked how I pictured them, but that's probably to be expected. Overall, I thought this was a fine addition to the Mercy Universe, but nothing really blew me away either.

Grade: C

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Title: Shards of Hope
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling, Book 14
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 2 June 2015

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action” of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races...

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken...like Zaira.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: Six Brothers by Lili St. Germain

Title: Six Brothers
Author: Lili St. Germain
Series: Gypsy Brothers, Book 1.2
Genre: DARK Contemporary Romance (??)
Release Date: 16 February 2014

I have lied.

I have cheated.

I have given my body and my life to the man who destroyed my family and left me for dead.

I have killed, I have sinned, and worst of all, I have enjoyed the misery of others.

I have licked the salty tears of a father mourning his firstborn son, and nothing has ever tasted so sweet.

I have died, and I have been resurrected, a phoenix from the ashes.

I know I’m going to hell. I’ll burn in the fiery pits alongside Dornan and his sons for the things I’ve done, and for the things I’m about to do.

But I don’t care. It will be worth every lick of the devils flames on my guilty flesh to destroy Dornan Ross.

One down, six to go.

I didn't think it was going to be a good idea for me to continue this series, but I just couldn't stop without seeing if the author was going to do something spectacular.

Which did *NOT* end up happening for me.

Pretty much everything I had an issue with in the first part (my review) is still here in this one. Only exponentially worse.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Seven Sons by Lili St. Germain

Title: Seven Sons
Author: Lili St. Germain
Series: Gypsy Brothers MC, Book 1.1
Genre: DARK Contemporary Romance(?)
Release Date: 2 January 2014

My father was most certainly NOT an innocent man. As the leader of the Gypsy Brothers MC, he was guilty of many things. But he died for a crime that he didn’t commit, framed by an enemy within who then stole his club and everything he had ever worked to protect.

Including my innocence.

When Dornan Ross framed my father, he set into motion a series of events that could never be undone. My father was murdered by Dornan Ross and his sons when I was fifteen years old.

Before my father died, Dornan and his sons stole my innocence, branded my skin and in doing so, ensured that their lives would be prematurely cut short. That they would suffer.

I’ve just turned twenty-one, and I’m out for blood. I'm out for revenge.

But I didn't expect to fall for Jase, the youngest brother in the club.

I didn't expect that he would turn my world upside down, yank my heart out of my chest and ride away into the sunset with it.

Now, I'm faced with an impossible choice - Jase, or avenging my fathers death?

How do I rate a book that disturbed me on a cellular level? I don't know.

On the one hand, I want to give it one star - because JFC, this woman is a sociopath, nearly everyone around her are assholes, and I wish everyone would die. On the other hand...I couldn't stop reading. At 20 percent the book disgusted me beyond measure - and then it kept going. I was so horrified and disturbed, and ended up hate-reading it from about the middle of the book.

HEAVY TRIGGER WARNINGS: This is a DARK story. So dark. The heroine was raped when she was fifteen, by seven men (father and sons). This story is about her revenge.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Dove Arising by Karen Bao

Title: Dove Arising:
Author: Karen Bao
Series: Dove Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Release Date: 24 February 2015

Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

I was so excited and looking forward to reading this book, and was beyond excited when I was approved through the Penguin First to Read program. Ultimately there were a few too many issues for me to enjoy this book.

I really should start re-reading the summary blurbs before starting the book - it might save me a lot of concerns and issues. Instead, I spent the first 15% irritated that the main character, Phaet, hadn't said a single word or responded in any sort of way to anyone that spoke to her. Even so, I'll buy the selective-mute aspect of her personality, especially in a society where the likelihood of someone listening is always high, but there could have been some sort of response. Instead she just internally mused, endlessly. Someone asks a question, she thinks about it. Someone states something, she considers it. Someone requests, she contemplates. Then she randomly starts speaking, still sparsely, but it was already beyond irritating to me. I'm not a huge fan of always being in someone's head, hearing about what things are happening and not feeling like we're participating in the scenes as they're happening. There's also the fact that Phaet prickly personality reminded me a lot of Katniss (The Hunger Games) and it's not the first similarity I noted to other books.

The world-building felt patched together. There's a world where people have given up their essential freedoms in order to be kept "safe" on this Lunar colony. But the liberties that have been supplanted are random and don't make sense for a society that is truly concerned with the number of population. There's no regulation on the number of children, or mating ages/rules. There's rent and Committee fees, food costs, and low paying jobs. There are ridiculous laws against any number of things, and there's Big Brother watching all the time through their handscreens - which also provide convenient information about other characters.

Both characters and world, if not done well, are enough to make it so I don't enjoy a book. However, this book also had the issue of not having an actual plot. Phaet ends up at a Militia training facility, trying to earn enough money to support her family and save her mother, but there's no real inducement to any of her actions. She's kind of just going along, doing the bare minimum that she has to do - until she has to do more. Even so, it never feels really necessary. It's just one girl's struggle, and honestly I kept waiting for the moment when "Phaet's logically ordered world begins to crumble..." But by 41% into the book there was just...nothing.

Back to those similarities that I was mentioning - Phaet's personality reminds me a lot of Katniss, the training reminds me a lot of Tris' in Divergent, the unrequited love interest (as her oldest friend) reminds me a lot of Gale and Katniss' dynamic. Then there's the new boy, who's quiet and mysterious and trying to help Phaet out....and he just might have feelings for her that are a bit more, which - of course - reminds me of Peeta. I could draw comparisons to scenes that I've seen in Ender's Game about the simulations of ship battles.

There's just nothing there to keep me wanting to read on. I do wish I knew what happened, or if there was something worth continuing for, but not enough to keep pushing myself through a book that's doing nothing to hook me.

Grade: DNF

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Burned
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever, Book 7
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 20 January 2015

It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.

MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.
When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil gets blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.

First things first, this cover. I hated it from the moment it was revealed. I mean, COME ON! We'd gone from beauties like this:

Beautiful. Each and every one of them. Then we get that monstrosity up there. It telegraphs sex. I guess that's pretty fitting because it's damn near all anyone in this book thinks about. That cover did not fill me with a great deal of hope, though. Not that I had a whole lot of it to begin with. Iced made me rage. I won't get into it here, but you can check out my review. Then there was the whole testing of the bond between Mac and Barrons that's alluded to in the blurb. I went into this book with some serious reservations. On the other hand, this is Karen Marie Moning! The author that blew me away in the original five books of the Fever series! I have faith! I had hope! I couldn't wait to see her make me eat my words of hate and irritation at Iced.

I'm avoiding SPOILERS for Burned in this review, but fair warning - there are going to be SPOILERS for Darkfever through Iced discussed.

Burned did not do that for me. While I didn't finish it wanting to throw it out the window, stomp on it, burn it, and then scatter the ashes, I also didn't finish with that beautiful feeling of having stepped from a world that amazed, having just listened to the most incredible story, told by a girl with verve, audacity, passion and brains.

I want to end this review on a positive note, I want to think positively about where the series is going in the future - so, I'm starting with the negatives. It took me about 3 days to read this book, only reading a few hours a day, because I spent the entire time taking notes. In the end I have over fifteen pages of notes on this book, and a severe disappointment - but again, I have hope (why, yes, I might be a masochistic optimist) for the future of the series.

Instead of the consuming story I had hoped for, I was treated to 400 pages of the author explaining everything that I, as a reader, was too dense to understand in Iced, sprinkled with a few truly great moments and teasers. Yes, I complained - a lot - about the adult, immortal men in Iced lusting over Dani, a 14-year-old-girl and abusing her. Yes, I said, on more than one occasion, that if KMM wanted to include sex (or innuendo) in this series I wanted it to wait until Dani was older. I don't think that's too much to ask. I was told by the author in interviews that I'd read the story wrong.

That went over well.

So, KMM took to Burned to explain exactly how wrong I was. Every.Single.Thing I had an issue with in Iced is contemplated, dissected, discussed and thought about. That's not even counting the moments where previous canon is being re-written. Things that were clearly stated in the previous six books were suddenly not the same. Facts are twisted. All of it telling me how wrong I was in my interpretation of the events that occurred. From multiple character points-of-view. There were meta-speeches in characters minds repeating the same words I've read KMM say in interviews. I can't even say how much this pisses me off. SHOW me I was wrong, don't tell me; don't have (multiple) characters TELL me. I want to SEE that I was wrong, not hear it. I've been hearing you, KMM, say how wrong I was for the last couple of years. Luckily, this is the only real rage-inducing thing I experienced while reading, and I'm pretty much over it. I get it. I do. KMM took a lot of flack and answered a lot of questions about the choices she made in Iced. Pedophilia was brought up frequently, frequently enough for her to address it in a FAQ (which has since been removed from her blog). That's bound to put anyone on the defensive. So I'm trying not to be too mad about this. I just wish that she'd not felt the need to cram this stuff down my throat and let the story speak for itself.

They fence me in with teenage rules that don’t hold me for shit, seeing how I grew up. You can kill but don’t cuss. Break any rule necessary to save the world but don’t watch porn or even think about having sex. How do they come up with this stuff--hold parental powwows for brainstorming diametrically opposed ethics?

You probably know, if you've read my Iced review, that Ryodan was my biggest problem in its pages. The vibe that he gave off when he was with Dani - one of waiting for her to grow up (she's FOURTEEN, and he's been watching her a LONG time), so he could have the woman she'd become - squicked me out. Then there's the abuse: holding her without food or water for three days, because reasons; slamming her face into a stone pillar, repeatedly; breaking her finger...Yup. I hated him. I hated everything about him. Prior to Iced I had kind of liked Ryodan. I didn't know enough to love or hate, but I was leaning towards like. Then all of that went down - and honestly that felt kind of out of character, too - and I'm not sure I'll ever like the bastard again. I can love an asshole - see Barrons; I can get down with manipulative - see Barrons again; I can handle secretive - hello? Barrons still; but abusive and a pedo vibe? Not so much.

"That's not why I watched over her."

"Bullshit. We all saw the woman she could become."

Anyway, that's rehashing the past. However, that's something that KMM excels at in Burned, so I guess I'm not too far off point. In these pages we learn that everything we thought we knew...we were wrong. Ryodan's not an abusive asshole - he didn't mean to break her finger, he forgot how fragile humans were; he didn't hold her for three days, chained in his basement, because he's a controlling freak - he did it for her own-fucking-good. There wasn't a pedo-vibe to his interactions with her, he was a guardian angel, protecting her, being her pillar, holding the roof up while she re-laid her foundation. What-the-eff-ever. I'm not buying what you're selling, KMM. No matter how many different characters sit and extol Ryodan's virtues, realizing what a nice guy he is.

I find myself questioning everything I thought I knew about Ryodan. Running prior conversations through my mind, realizing the man I believed moderately intelligent and highly manipulative of others--to their own detriment and destruction--is in fact highly intelligent and enormously manipulative of others, but I've begun to suspect it's because he's trying to fix what he perceives as the things they want fixed but don't know how. He sees the bird's-eye view and takes the hard, catalytic actions. Unsettling, disturbing to those of us that don't, makes it easy to call him bastard, heartless.

But why would he bother?

There are only two possibilities: either he wants whatever goal he will achieve by altering that person, or, unfathomable as it is, he cares about the world he pretends to scorn, and the people in it.

Now, maybe, just maybe, if I'd been shown that I was wrong about Ryodan, instead of having every character possible think about it, talk about it, and reflect on it, then I might have eaten my words. I still would have hated what he'd done, but I might have grown to like him again. There was one moment in the book where we were shown that Ryodan might be kinder than we've previously seen - his interaction with Jo - however, it's so heavy-handed, especially on top of all the virtue-extolling everyone else is doing, that it just made me roll my eyes. Take away? Ryodan's not a bad guy. In fact, he's a saint. Check.

This is already getting long, so I'm just going to skip to what I feel like was the checklist for this book.

1. Ryodan's an abuser and giving off strong pedo-vibes? No! He's a nice guy! Here, let me tell you! Check.
2. Dani's too young? We can fix that. Into the Silvers, you go, my girl. Check.
3. We miss Mac! Ahh. Well, she can be the narrator again. Check.
4. What's she been up to? Recap. Recap some more. Recap again. Recap stuff you just were there to experience. Check.
5. End scene of Iced, with Mac holding the Spear on Dani and being pissed at her, not make sense? Explain it away. She didn't know. Don't mind the previous stuff you've been told. It'll change as needed. Check.
6. Christian's too creepy. Can't have that. Fixed. Check.
7. Pedophilia? No way! Meta-speeches by several characters. That'll get the point across. Check.
8. More about the Nine - we must have it! Insert plot-device to allow us to spy on them, getting much more intimate with their thoughts and feelings - which apparently they talk about in private. Check.

One last thing I'm going to complain about...no, two last things. One: Mac's boring internal monologues got on my last nerve. I skimmed a lot of them. There were pages and pages and pages of her telling me stuff I already knew. I know some people complained about these in the first five books, but I swear she wasn't this bad. I guess I'll find out when I re-read. I haven't re-read the books in several years (granted I've re-read them several dozen times so I know them well) but I don't need to be hand-fed every single bit of information. And I know what a freaking linchpin is!

Two: the focus on sex! O.M.G. Honestly. I get it. If I were around Barrons, or probably any of the Nine, sex would be one of my main goals, too. But there's a freaking catastrophe happening around every corner! How about focusing on some of them? The random inserts of sex, thoughts of sex, and voyeuristic viewing of sex throughout the book was just...gratuitous.

Okay, I lied. I'm going to talk about one more thing I didn't like. Going back to the Dani-age thing. Yes, I wanted her older, but I wanted to see her grow up and become the woman she was meant to be. Even if it was in snatches, gradually, whatever. I didn't just want it to happen. And the way it happened? Not loving it. I see where KMM is going with this, and I get it, but I think it's the easy way out - and I never thought of KMM taking the easy way.

Shit. I lied again. Last thing. I promise. I hate, hate, hate, hate that Barrons calls Mac, Ms. Lane still! The intimacy that was gained in Shadowfever is apparently gone. Now they're "islands." Then there's some irritating, manufactured drama that is completely pointless. I could not believe how much drama Mac allowed this to cause.

Speaking of Mac (no this isn't another "thing"), she's no longer the kick-ass, Mac 5.0. She reverted to Mac 2.4 or something. She's passive, in the extreme, a mere narrator for events happening around her, and lacking in any initiative. Apparently, she's done what she came to do, and the rest of the time she's going to sit around watching her version of "reality tv" - and don't get me started on that. She's just lost everything that made me love her. Every once in a while I would catch a thought or action that flitted through her head, but mostly I was amazed that this was the same Mac I'd previously fell in love with.

One thing I do know is things can always get worse, most often at the precise moment you've decided they can't.

And so I remain, as Barrons would pithily say, idiotically passive.

The other effect her passivity has is making her interactions with Barrons seem ... less, somehow. He's the same asshole that I love, but without Mac strong it makes him seem even more an asshole. Of course while Mac is being an idiot - and trust me, she's an IDIOT at times - Barrons really shines, too. Actions speak. I've always trusted his.

Okay. I'm done now with that. I swear. Onto the good - and there are tidbits of good in this novel. They're what is going to make me pick up the next book (where I'm hoping and praying that KMM gets back on track). Unfortunately, most of them could be considered spoilerish - and I'd never do that to you guys. So, I'll be as vague as possible and see what I can do.

I started with a checklist - how about a much more enjoyable list?

1. WeCare - I'm still super interested in this! I need to know what their deal is, who they are, and what they're up to. I feel like they're going to be a problem for Mac and Co. at some point.

2. Mac/Sinsar Dubh - Holy.Shit. I did not see that coming! This storyline is the one I wanted to see the most of in Burned. It wasn't really dealt with a whole lot, so I'm hopeful that the future installments really delve into it. There's some really interesting evolutions and stuff going on here that I need to know more about.

3. Christian - Despite the 'quick fix' I feel that he got for part of his problem, he's not out of the woods yet. I can't help it. I love this guy. I want to see him conquer his demons. I want to see him thrive.

4. Lor - Who knew he'd end up being one of my favorites. Funny as hell, he was one of the bright spots in this book.

5. New Unseelie - YES! That's all.

6. Mac's ... entourage - MUST KNOW MORE! MORE!!!

7. Unseelie King/Concubine - consistently the best scenes. I love them separately, and even better, together. They have real issues that need solving, and I can't wait to see them do it. I hope we get to see them conquer their hurdles. Plus I just want more of the UK, and all his incarnations. There's definitely some interesting stuff going on here.

8. Barrons - He's Barrons. 'Nuff said. One of the few characters that maintained their personality. He is who is he. Period. And I love him. Forever. A quote from a friend of mine, Casey strikes me as absolutely perfect in regards to Barrons: I think Barrons is totally off the charts in terms of sex appeal but I hate all of broody silence and secrets. He makes me feel equal parts I need to punch you in your face/please wear my thighs as earmuffs. Hell, yes. This. For sure.

"Son of a bitch, Mac's ass is--"

"Mine," Barrons says flatly. "You will never go there. You have a problem with Mac, you work it out with me. I am her shield, I am her second fucking skin."

Sexy. That is so damn sexy.

There's actually quite a lot in that list of things that I loved, liked, or am interested in. However, they were bright, shiny moments in a otherwise dull book. The plot was nearly non-existent, Burned suffered from 'middle-book-syndrome', and there's virtually no movement on any of the interesting plot-lines. My big hope is that now that KMM has 'fixed' everything, Feverborn will get everything back on track. Though there was a lot I was disappointed in, I can actually see how it could - mostly - be brought back to the glory that was the first five Fever books. And I'm hopeful. And a masochist, because I'll definitely be reading the next one.

Grade: C-/D+

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