*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.
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)!
** 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.
** 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.
** 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.
** 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.
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.