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Smashwords book reviews by superlibrarian
- Fairy Tale Fail
on April 27, 2010
*There may be spoilers in this review*
I enjoyed this short novel/novella - cute chick lit set in the Philippines. I really enjoyed Ellie's voice, and Lucas was adorable. I rooted for them to get together, and I'm so glad that Ellie didn't go back to Don. He may have been a "good guy," but he was a "bad boyfriend."
I'm not totally sure I understood the sprinkling of Tagalog words throughout the story, but that didn't detract from my overall understanding. I was hoping for an author's note or glossary at the end to define these words, but I had to settle for Google ;) Still, I enjoyed learning new words, and I think they added to the feel of the book.
I wanted to see more of the development of Ellie and Lucas's friendship. What we did get to see was really sweet, and I liked it a lot, but I was left wanting to see more. I love stories in which the "true loves" start out as just friends and the friendship just grows and changes into something more, so this story was just the kind of story I like (could be why I love the Anne of Green Gables books so much - I love to watch the friendship between Anne and Gilbert grow into more).
I will definitely be on the lookout for more by this author.
- The Adventure of Anna the Great
on July 01, 2010
I read a description of this book that described it as a young adult swashbuckler about a girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to have adventure. Great! I'm a fan of Tamora Pierce's Alanna books (about a girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to be a knight), so this sounded like it would be right up my alley. Then I read the first couple of pages, and my heart sank.
A girl’s appearance was very important to Celeste, but then she was truly lovely. Her skin was translucent and glowing, like a pearl. Her eyes were large, and her little mouth was red and round. Her body was rounded too, and already quite feminine.
“They’ll never think I’m a boy with these beautiful flowing tresses,” I said firmly. I raised my hand to snip some more, but she floated across the room to stop me. I can’t describe Celeste’s walk any other way. The huge folds of silk and lace cover any sign of legs.
Translucent, glowing skin? Floating across the floor? There are certain things I can't handle in my books, and flowery descriptions like that are one of those things (unless part of a parody and meant to be funny). Fortunately, I stuck with it and kept reading, and the flowery descriptions were confined to the description of Anna's cousin, Celeste, at the beginning of the story.
Although described as YA, I'd consider this story as middle grade (MG), appealing more to an 8-12 year-old audience rather than a YA/12+ one. It's just the kind of story I would have loved to get my hands on in 4th and 5th grades. By the time I was in 6th grade, I preferred my books to have some romance, which this book doesn't have, but that was just a personal preference on my part.
The author sucked me in with the story's mystery, and I didn't even realize how unrealistic much of the story was until I had finished; I was consumed with learning what the mysterious Mrs. MacGuffin had to tell the queen and why Hugo and Tybalt kidnapped her. It was just a fun adventure story.
After finishing, I was left with some questions and wishing I had gotten to see more of Anna's back story before she left on this grand adventure. These aren't complaints exactly, just questions I was left with, and I guess it's because I was interested in Anna that I want to know more. For example, did she practice riding a horse astride (sorry...I don't know if that's correct horse terminology)? She had bought a regular saddle saying it was a gift for her brother, but did she ever have a chance to practice riding that way before running away? She seemed to ride awfully well, so I assume she did, but when? How?
Second, she mentions men who taught her to fence, but, again, I was left wondering how she convinced them to teach her? Who taught her and why?
Last, I wish the author had let us into Anna's head a little more about her desire to disguise herself as a boy. At times I felt like it was purely for the adventure and freedom that dressing as a boy would allow her. At other times, when she thought things like, "With the closing of that door I became a boy," I wondered if she really felt trapped in the wrong body, if inside she really was a boy.
Even though not a perfect book, I'd certainly be interested in reading a prequel that details her life before this adventure to get answers for some of my questions, and I'm interested to know what happens to Anna as she grows up if there are sequels. Heck, I'd love to read the love story of Johan and the queen too (so long as it ends happily)!
- Saying Goodbye to the Sun
on Sep. 28, 2010
** spoiler alert ** I really wasn't sure whether I was going to like this book or not, up until the very end. I had seen this story described as a sort of vampire romance, which is initially what drew me to it. It's not though, at least not by any definition of romance I have. I never believed that Vincent really loved Raine; he barely knew her. Obsessed with her? Sure. In lust with her? Absolutely. Affected by vampire attraction mind control or something? Yeah. In love with her? Not by my definition of the word. I'm one of those party poopers who think love at first sight is a crock of $#!7. Not believing that he loved her, I'm not sure the ending had quite the emotional impact it might have otherwise, but I do really like how we see that Vincent, as a vampire, is a monster. He's not the man he was when he was a alive. I love vampires with souls on occasion (Angel, Spike...NOT Edward Cullen though), but it was refreshing to see the process ...more I really wasn't sure whether I was going to like this book or not, up until the very end. I never really believed that Vincent really loved Raine; he barely knew her. Not believing that he loved her, I'm not sure the ending had quite the emotional impact it might have otherwise, but I do really like how we see that Vincent, as a vampire, is a monster. He's not the man he was when he was a alive. I love vampires with souls on occasion (Angel, Spike), but it was refreshing to see the process as Vincent changes from the man he was into the monster he is. I had some problems with the storytelling in places, but for me, the ending made up for them.
Side note: The story is told in first person. I know that really turns some people off, so be forewarned. I'm not usually a first person kind of girl, but it didn't bother me in this case. I know other people really love that, so, if you're one who loves it, this book might be right up your alley.
- To Kill A Warlock, An Urban Fantasy Romance: Dulcie O'Neil Book 1
on Sep. 28, 2010
** spoiler alert ** I liked the premise of this book - fairy in law enforcement has to solve a murder - but there appear to be three potential romantic possibilities for the main character, Dulcie, and the one that appears to be "winning" at the end of this book is the one I like the least (Knight). In fact, I like him so little, it annoyed me that Dulcie is even slightly interested in him. The one I liked the best (Quillan) turns out to be one of the bad guys (maybe? maybe there's a good reason for what he did that we'll find out about in a future book?), which just stank. There also really wasn't much focus on his relationship with Dulcie, most of that is implied, and that made me sad for much of the book. What I liked is that he seemed to care about Dulcie for who she was, and liked her for who she was. The other two possibilities don't really know her that well, and any chemistry is purely physical, which...I personally just don't enjoy reading about. The third romantic possibility (Br ...more I liked the premise of this book - fairy in law enforcement has to solve a murder - but there appear to be three potential romantic possibilities for the main character, Dulcie, and the one that appears to be "winning" at the end of this book is the one I like the least (Knight). In fact, I like him so little, it annoyed me that Dulcie is even slightly interested in him. The one I liked the best (Quillan) turns out to be one of the bad guys (maybe? maybe there's a good reason for what he did that we'll find out about in a future book?), which just stank. There also really wasn't much focus on his relationship with Dulcie, most of that is implied, and that made me sad for much of the book. What I liked is that he seemed to care about Dulcie for who she was, and liked her for who she was. The other two possibilities don't really know her that well, and any chemistry is purely physical, which...I personally just don't enjoy reading about. The third romantic possibility (Bram), I enjoyed as a character, but I definitely didn't "see" any chemistry between him and Dulcie.
All that being said, it was an OK book, and I'm intrigued enough to want to read more, but if the next book doesn't turn the story in a direction that I enjoy more, I probably won't continue to read the series. This isn't the fault the author or anything, the romantic subplot in this just really wasn't my cup of tea, but I can see how people who enjoy more mysterious alpha male types might really get a kick out of this.
- My Blood Approves
on Oct. 17, 2010
** spoiler alert ** While the book as a whole didn't really do much for me, Hocking did leave me wanting to read more about Alice, Jack, and Peter, if only to find out how (or if) they will ever solve their dilemma.
Part of my problem with the book is Alice herself. As a person who loves school (and *chose* to go back many years after finishing college) and someone who wants to do something valuable with my life, I cannot relate to Alice's lack of interest in getting an education, lack of interest in any sort of future career, and I can't wrap my head around why it does not bother her at all that Jack does *nothing* but play video games or go out to clubs even though he's 24 years old and *should* be a valuable contributing member of society at this point in his life. Sure, he doesn't need money to support himself, but I'd like him a lot more if he weren't a lazy bum and, I don't know...volunteered his time somewhere for a good cause, or had some crappy, low-paying job even. If I won the lot ...more While the book as a whole didn't really do much for me, Hocking did leave me wanting to read more about Alice, Jack, and Peter, if only to find out how (or if) they will ever solve their dilemma.
Part of my problem with the book is Alice herself. As a person who loves school (and *chose* to go back many years after finishing college) and someone who wants to do something valuable with my life, I cannot relate to Alice's lack of interest in getting an education, lack of interest in any sort of future career, and I can't wrap my head around why it does not bother her at all that Jack does *nothing* but play video games or go out to clubs even though he's 24 years old and *should* be a valuable contributing member of society at this point in his life. Sure, he doesn't need money to support himself, but I'd like him a lot more if he weren't a lazy bum and, I don't know...volunteered his time somewhere for a good cause, or had some crappy, low-paying job even. If I won the lottery tomorrow and didn't have to work a day in my life after that, I would definitely be finding ways to volunteer my time or some low-paying but fun job to keep me occupied. However, despite the fact that both Alice and Jack annoy me, I can see how they might appeal to teenagers who may not be interested in school and may fantasize about a life like Jack's.
I've read other reviews where people have problems with the fact that Alice is drawn to Peter despite the fact that he treats her like crap and is a total asshole to her. That aspect of the book doesn't bother me because it serves as a perfect illustration of the fact that the physical/pheromone/chemical connection between the two of them is not something either of them has any logical control over. Alice doesn't actually *want* to be with Peter in her brain, but the chemicals make it so she just can't stop herself. If she had a choice in the matter, it seems clear she would not choose Peter. But she doesn't have a choice (or at least at this point in time it appears she doesn't have a choice), and that's the point.
Back to what kept me reading until the end. Alice meets Jack and they form a sort of friendship, that over time, morphs into more-than-friends feelings on both their parts. Alice meets Jack's "brother," Peter, and has an immediate attraction/lust/pheromone-induced connection that she doesn't necessarily want and can't control (he feels the same). I'm not usually one for love triangles, but I think what works for me about this one so far is that it isn't actually a love triangle. Alice loves Jack and Jack loves Alice. The connection between Alice and Peter is some purely chemical reaction their blood has to each other and neither seems to want it, but they can't get away from it either. The complicate matters, the physical connection between Alice and Peter will make it so that if Jack ever drinks from Alice, Peter will know and be forced to kill both Alice and Jack (like...literally unable to stop himself from doing it, even if he wanted to stop). I'll probably keep reading the series just to figure out how there is any sort of resolution to this impossible situation.
- Fate (My Blood Approves, #2)
on Dec. 07, 2010
** spoiler alert ** In terms of my enjoyment level, this book was an improvement on the first one; I was sucked in and didn't want to stop reading until the end. Alice still annoyed me a bit with her total lack of interest in school, but this time around Jack has a job, so I sort of like him a bit better. There were some bits that seemed a little bit too convenient (such as Milo almost dying early in the book so he has to turn, and he was really the only thing holding Alice back from turning), but it was easy to just suspend disbelief because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. Hocking also gets teenage love/angst down pat.
I think what made this book work better for me than the previous one is that the focus was much more on Alice and Jack rather than Alice and Jack and Peter. Peter was always present in both of their thoughts, but he wasn't physically there for the bulk of the book.
One thing that I didn't like is that supposedly Peter actually did/does love Alice. What made the "love" triangle work for me in the first book was that it wasn't actually a love triangle; Peter was only physically compelled to be with Alice and he didn't actually care about her or want to care about her. That is the only acceptable reason in my mind for why he treated her like crap and the only thing that really made the dilemma between the three of them interesting (the whole Alice and Jack love each other-- Alice and Peter are physically connected/bonded but don't want to be--if Alice and Jack actually get together, Peter will be unable to prevent himself from killing them both thing). By the end of this book, Peter admits he loves Alice, and that just really work for me because he doesn't even *know* her. You can not love someone in a romantic love kind of way that you don't know. Maybe Hocking will change my mind about the believability of this whole love triangle thing in the next books, and make it an interesting part of the story, but I'm skeptical. Fortunately, this came into the storyline only at the very end.
Still, as I said before, even with the parts that didn't work for me, I was still sucked in, and I enjoyed this addition to the My Blood Approves series more than the previous book. I'll definitely keep reading to see how this all turns out.
- Flutter (My Blood Approves, #3)
on Dec. 07, 2010
** spoiler alert ** While I thought the second book was a step up from the first, this one is a step backwards for me. Too much focus on Peter. The plot seemed a little bit all over the place first. First, find Peter and almost get killed by lycans (aka. feral vampires)! Then, Jack and Alice finally have sex! Milo gets a boyfriend and almost accidentally kills him! Mae wants to turn her terminally ill, 5-year old great granddaughter into a vampire! Alice's friend Jane is a bloodwhore and dying as a result! Oh yeah, and those lycans from the beginning? They're back at the end for a grand finale!
I'm sorry, but as I said in my review of Fate, I just don't buy that Peter loves Alice BECAUSE HE DOESN'T REALLY EVEN KNOW HER!! I cannot recall them spending any quality time together getting to know one another, just being normal, not being angsty. I can understand Alice feeling some sort of hole where her bond used to be and being sad about it without knowing why. I can understand Peter feeling the same way. I can't understand him being in love with her. Not just in love, but he apparently loves her more than Elise, the love of his life? It makes me wonder how unreal and superficial his relationship with Elise was.
Still, I've already started reading the fourth book. And I really like Milo and Bobby. They're cute.
Technical notes: I read the .epub version from Smashwords. A significant jump in number of typos and errors from the previous two books. Also a couple places where there's a blank page randomly in the middle of a chapter.
- Wisdom (My Blood Approves, #4)
on Dec. 07, 2010
** spoiler alert ** Hmmm. I liked the main plot. Poor Jane was murdered and Alice is determined to find the killer. This part of the book I liked. Mae dealing with the disastrous results of her poor choice in the previous book, turning her five-year-old great granddaughter into a vampire, not so much. I liked seeing the relationship between Alice and Jack grow and Alice start to get some direction in her life and maybe grow up a little bit.
But some of the things that annoyed me in the previous books just built to the breaking point in this book.
I'll start with one of the relatively minor annoyances. Everyone says "come with." Like, "Let me come with" or "I want to come with." This is totally fine for Alice, Milo, and Bobby to say. This is totally strange for the "old" people like Ezra, Peter, and even Jack to say. It just seems a strange piece of slang for them to pick up and sort of detracts from the idea that these people are hundreds of years old.
Alice and Milo's mom. She barely ever comes up in conversation or in Alice's thoughts. If I had basically abandoned my mom, essentially also forced my brother to abandon my mom, especially since she had been abandoned by their father when they were young, I'd be feeling some major guilt, and not just occasionally when I could fit it in around my romantic angst and other hijinks. There's a major development with Alice's mom in this book, and I feel like there just wasn't enough build-up to that (spoiler: Leif, the nice lycan from the previous book, is their father, and they all finally tell Alice's mom that they're all vampires).
I wasn't a fan of the whole Daisy story line to begin with, and having her be a reason that Jack is in mortal danger just seemed out of place and didn't work for me. Especially since she was already dead at that point. I kept waiting for it to turn out that somehow Daisy was the murderer because that's the only way that this storyline would seem to fit into this book.
Even with these problems though, I'll be reading the next book to find out how it ends, and it's not like I want to claw my eyes out like I did while reading Twilight, so there's that.
Technical notes: Smashwords .epub version. As with the last book, there are quite a few typos and errors that a good proofreading should have caught. Things like using the word "reminder" instead of "remind." These errors annoy me. And since I've read that Ms. Hocking paid someone to edit these books, they make me annoyed for her as well.
- Space Junque (Apocalypto 1)
on Dec. 07, 2010
** spoiler alert ** I won this e-book in a contest. I was really torn between giving this novella 3 stars or 4. If I could give half stars, this would definitely be a 3.5. I liked it, but it had the same problem that a lot of romance novellas have; the relationship development was rushed. I like Char, and I like Jake, but them feeling strongly about each other seemed rushed, and I would have liked to have seen it actually develop rather than just suddenly have them want to be with each other. In fact the first time they have sex, it took me totally off guard because there was no lead up. I can understand why it would happen - they both just escaped death, but it felt awkward reading it. For example:
...Tyler, but he was in great shape. And definitely not engineered. Those were genuine, earned muscles under that tight-fitting hemp shirt.
He swung her chair around and knelt in front of her, removing the straps from her arms and legs. Again without thinking, she reached out and ran her fingers through his hair.
He looked up sharply. She expected anger, but she saw tears. It had all gotten to him too, then. She smoothed the furrow between his eyes. Did she want to comfort him? Or did she want him to comfort her?
He lifted the harness off her chest, and she floated up from the seat. His hands almost surrounded her waist as he pulled her down. She wrapped her legs around his hips, anchoring herself.
He searched her eyes, silently asking permission to keep going. She guided his hand to the single strap on her top. He pulled it down and kissed her neck, moving toward her breasts. In the weightlessness, she moved easily to give him access to anything he wanted.
OK...so we get that he's in shape, but she doesn't think about wanting him or being attracted to him or anything else to indicate that she's even remotely thinking about getting him naked. He unbuckles her, and suddenly she's touching his hair. He's crying, so she decides to have sex with him.
As I said, I don't think it's unbelievable that it happened, but it would have worked better for me personally if she had been thinking about how she needed to feel alive, she needed to feel some human connection and he was there and convenient. She sort of thinks those things after, but, I feel like not having insight into those thoughts before it happens made me think, "Where the heck did that come from??"
On the plus side, I felt all the sex scenes were handled well. They aren't exactly "closed door," but they aren't described as a blow-by-blow either. I like when the focus is more on the connection and the mood rather than "flowery or crude name for tab A" inserted into "ridiculous or crude name for slot B."
The relationship aspect of the story aside, the story line pulled me in. I felt that just the right amount of background was given, and it was worked into the story subtly rather than obvious info dumps. There are definitely more things about this world to learn, but we're given enough to understand what's happening in the immediate story and what we're given was at least enough to whet my appetite for more.
I'm looking forward to Spiderwork, the sequel to this novella, and the rest of the related stories.
Technical notes: I downloaded the .epub version from Smashwords and noticed no formatting issues or typos.
- Spiderwork (Apocalypto 2)
on Jan. 26, 2011
Hmmmm. First thing - the cover is gorgeous and the dress in the cover does play a part in the story. Just as I felt Space Junque was a little too short, I feel like this one is too. There's *so much* going on, and it's really interesting stuff, but I felt that it was a little bit glossed over at times. That being said, it was great to see Char, Jake, and Durga again, especially now that Durga is a young adult. I also enjoyed seeing the ghost, Alice, and I'm very intrigued by the ghosts. I hope we get to learn more about them as the series progresses. I'm also curious about the whole soul thing....strange, but interesting.
And that epilogue...I hope we aren't left totally hanging! Important things obviously happened between the end of the final chapter and the epilogue, and I want to know more! I look forward to Bleeder and anything else set in this world. We're given enough bits and pieces to follow what's happening immediately, but I definitely felt like I didn't understand the big picture and can't wait to learn more.
This is a very disjointed review, but my thoughts about this novella are all over the place right now. I liked it, but other than that, I don't know what to think. Maybe once I've digested it some more, I'll have more coherent things to say. Or maybe not.
Note: Received this free from the author for being one of the first to sign up for her newsletter. Score!
- Eye of the Wizard
on Feb. 27, 2011
** spoiler alert ** If you're looking for serious high fantasy, this is NOT the book for you. If you want some light, fluffy, fantasy brain candy, this book might be right up your alley.
It's not a perfect book, but I enjoyed it. You've got your ragtag band of misfits (Sam, the wannabe knight who can't use a sword; Jamie, his sister, also a wannabe knight who is awesome with the sword but not allowed to be a knight due to being a girl; Neev, their brother, a wannabe warlock who sprouts animal parts any...moreIf you're looking for serious high fantasy, this is NOT the book for you. If you want some light, fluffy, fantasy brain candy, this book might be right up your alley.
It's not a perfect book, but I enjoyed it. You've got your ragtag band of misfits (Sam, the wannabe knight who can't use a sword; Jamie, his sister, also a wannabe knight who is awesome with the sword but not allowed to be a knight due to being a girl; Neev, their brother, a wannabe warlock who sprouts animal parts any time he performs a spell; Romy, the cutesy, childish demon girl he summoned; and Cobweb, the beautiful, ethereal spiderling who can't help but speak with a lisp). You've got your evil-warlock-living-skeleton bad guy, Dry Bones. You've got a quest to avenge the death of Sam, Jamie, and Neev's parents. You've got lots of monster fights. And that pretty much sums it up.
It's really a rather silly kind of story, but it's big on heart and amusement, and I found myself liking even the annoying characters. There was no question about whether or not the good guys would triumph over evil, because this isn't that kind of story. It's just a fun, quick read with some humor thrown in for good measure.
- Love Your Frenemies
on March 24, 2011
This is how I felt after finishing Ms. Esguerra's latest e-book offering - :D
Having read My Imaginary Ex, I was not sure how a book all about the mean ex-fiancee from that book would turn into a likable heroine for this one, but it totally worked. My Imaginary Ex alternates between flashbacks and the present, and I really enjoyed how this book does the same thing. Although the book is related to My Imaginary Ex, reading it first is not at all necessary to enjoying this book - it stands alone quite well.
Another great addition to the chick lit genre. This book is all about Kimmy - her friendships, her love life, and maybe becoming a little less self absorbed than she used to be.