lifeafterjane

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A Rogue by Any Other Name: The First Rule of Scoundrels

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It took me a lot longer than I expected to make peace with this book. I went into it expecting nothing less than instant love and further fodder for my MacLean fangirlism, so it came as quite a shock when instalove failed to happen. What was even more surprising was that when the book was finished, I was unable to pinpoint just what the story made me feel.Penelope is a far cry from MacLean’s traditional heroines which are of the stubborn, pig-headed, gutsy variety. Penelope was an overly self-conscious, insecure, bullied woman who felt nothing was due to her, not even her own happiness. She was so extremely pitiful at times that I started to wonder if the self-loathing really was going to be the sum total of her character traits, leaving no room for any of the traits I’ve come to expect in a MacLean leading lady. Whenever she was given an opportunity to display some gumption, her attempts were still flimsy and she never really stopped asking permission or seeking acceptance.I was equally as disenamored with Bourne, our unscrupulous bad boy whose past and present misdeeds have left him out of favor with the highly judgmental ton. A leading man who is a notorious rake, has a colorful past and leads a slightly suspect life are traits of the standard issue romance hero. These things are perfectly acceptable in a playboy but Bourne’s character was just…mean! He was entirely unpolished, heartless and his treatment of Penelope bordered on abusive. The dry, sarcastic, often boorish, MacLean hero with his devil-may-care attitude never appeared and I was left struggling to find any sympathy or connection with him.Oddly enough, some of my favorite moments in the book occurred at times when Penelope was at her least likable. Her opinion of herself is so very low that there were instances where my heart nearly broke at her acceptance of deserving so very little in life. I hurt for her to the point of tears and I can’t help but wish more for her than what (and who) she ultimately ended up with. This is sad because their past relationship was so much more intriguing than their current one. I absolutely adored, with all the adoration there is, the letters at the beginning of each chapter. I’m such a dunce. I didn’t even realize who it was she was writing to until about halfway in.I’m very much aware that I’m being a bit hypercritical of characters in a romance novel and I also realize that it’s probably a bit selfish (with a wee touch of hypocrisy) to expect an author to follow the same formula that she’s been using for every book. Maybe my struggle is with myself and not the writing. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to explore a character from a different angle so perhaps I just need to get with the program. I did so enjoy her Love by Numbers series and I guess I’m just kind of nostalgic for that type of story.
Under the Never Sky

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I know this is one of those 2012 YA debuts that we’re suppose to blindly and unconditionally love but I have to be honest- my heart isn’t going pitty-pat in response to this story. Its rhythm is a bit more bradycardic.In a world (sounds like a movie trailer doesn’t it) devastated by storms that scorch and destroy everything they touch, civilizations have sprung up inside well enforced and protected underground settlements. Denied access to the outer world, the Dwellers have created a life based on continuous virtual reality, living through fantasy, inside their own heads. But beneath the storm ravaged sky, people are still struggling to exist. The Outsiders, a primitive people with heightened senses that allow them to be specially attuned to the land, seek to hold on to a rapidly fading way of life. When an accident forces Aria, a Dweller, out into the world of the Outsiders, a flimsy alliance with one of the rumored savages may be her only means of survival.There are several things I liked about the story. The romance was really quite touching and the chemistry between our lurvers was nearly tangible. The Outsiders extra senses were kind of cool and the run-in with the cannibals was a stellar touch of awesome (those guys were scary). I always appreciate a good bad guy and Consul Hess was a well played evil. But while Peregrine was extremely crush worthy and competent, I couldn’t find much to recommend Aria.From the word go the storyline was choppy and I could have really used a roadmap to help me navigate Rossi’s extremely messy world building. Messy, was in fact my initial and over all reaction. Nothing flowed. One scene wouldn’t even be completed before an entirely new and sometimes unnecessary concept was introduced (we can’t all be super human- it’s tedious and boring). I couldn’t get a firm handle, feel or picture of this world Rossi wanted me to envision- it was all skinny, gangling limbs, jutting out every which way when what it really needed was some meat on its bones. Less constant, directionless plot twists and more focus on the world and the way your people exist in it- else they’re just actors in front of a green screen.I don’t know how I feel about a sequel for I fear it would just be more running around in the same place. In a genre already flooded with trilogies, there are stronger contenders.
I Am Number Four: (Lorien Legacies Book 1)

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I was scanning through the movies on Vudu the other night and I ran across a preview for I Am Number Four. There wasn’t a trailer available on Vudu (which is a horrid fail, btw) so I googled it, watched it and yeah, it looked pretty good. I was going to rent the movie but it turns out you can’t. You can only buy it and even if it was good, it wouldn’t be the kind of movie I’d spend twenty bucks on. You can already sense the negativity, can’t you?So I bought the book.In hindsight it wasn’t worth those ten bucks either.Daniel John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith, is hot footing it out of town. About ever six months or so, he and his pseudo-father “Henri” load up the truck and move to a new town and change identities. It’s necessary, seriously necessary in fact because there’s an entire race of killer aliens after them. John is one of nine Super High-speed 4G Bluetooth hero children that escaped from the planet of Lorien in the midst of an attack by said killer aliens. As the last of his race, it’s crucial to his people’s survival that he and his kind stay hidden on earth until it’s safe to return to their home planet. The Mogadorians (killer aliens), having raped Loric for all its resources, have set their sights on the planet Earth and must destroy the nine super kids in order to carry out their evil, villainous plans. *Cue music*The nine can only be killed in sequential order. Meaning, you can’t kill three before killing one or it JUST WILL NOT WORK. I refer you to Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the scene in which they receive instructions on the use of the holy hand grenade. Three are dead. John is number four. Get it?OK, now to get to the root of my pissiness. I liked this story. It was incredibly entertaining in a Saturday morning cartoon sort of way. The plot was great. The action was intense. All the super hero badassedness was badass. All that. I read it in two sittings because I really did care about what happened and I was into it. I was into it despite the fact that the writing was unforgivably atrocious and seemed, for lack of a better way to put it, to be written by a child…in crayon.It read about like this:"I woke up. I walked to the refrigerator. I opened the refrigerator door. I took a moment to brood about how much it sucked that I might get killed by aliens. I really want to just be human and eat fruit loops. I can’t be human because I’m so badass. MAN AM I BADASS! I’m still going to eat fruit loops."That was the reenactment. Here’s an actual quote: “I go to the bathroom, enter an empty stall, and latch the door behind me. I open my hands. A slight glow in the right one. I close my eyes and sigh, focus on breathing slowly. A minute later the glow is still there. I shake my head. I didn’t think the Legacy would be that sensitive. I stay in the stall.”It brought to mind a traffic jam, with cars lined up for miles and miles behind each other, moving at the speed of one bumper length every fifteen minutes. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Short, clipped little sentences written for the ADD afflicted in mind.Still, all in all, it’s a great story, and I hope it made a better movie. If “Pittacus Lore” would like to send my back my ten bucks, I’ll throw in the other ten and watch it.
Hogfather: A Novel of Discworld

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"You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”Everything in the human world has at one point or another, run on pure belief. Once we questioned if the sun would come up again tomorrow as it did today so we decided to believe that it would. We believed in it and into existence popped the spirit of the rising sun, one of many small gods that wait just on the edge of realization for enough belief to give them a purpose.Many, many years go by and we learn, and we change and we no longer believe that it’s our prayers that give us daylight and one small sun god is suddenly without a purpose. So we start to believe in something else. We decide to believe that once a year, a jolly man in a red suit comes down the chimney and gives children toys, and our belief gives that small god a new job. The Hogfather, in his red sleigh, drawn by a team of hogs, visits each house on the Discworld, bringing presents, spreading Hogswatch cheer and bellowing many a “Ho Ho Ho.” But one Hogwatch’s Eve, there’s another change, and people no longer believe there’s a Hogfather. The belief isn’t replaced, it’s just lost and tomorrow, with no Hogfather, no small god, the sun may not rise.In his great hall of time, Death monitors the hourglasses of each and every life on the Disc. Every living thing has a life that can be measured in grains of sand, even that of immortals. When it becomes apparent that the life of the Hogfather is all but out, Death, false beard on his bare skull, and sack in hand, sets out to visit each and every house in the Discworld in an attempt to drum up enough belief to keep the Hogfather alive. He will break many rules, touch many lives (in a good way) and maybe, just maybe ensure that the sun rises.It’s absolutely no secret that my favorite author is Terry Pratchett. He writes what on the surface appears to be fantasy fiction but carefully interwoven into each story is a very important life lesson, a different way to look at the world and the permission that most of us seek that says it is OK to question what we’ve always been TOLD we believe. Pratchett always wants you thinking. He wants you to remember to feel everything. But above all, he wants you to be fascinated by the things that make us human because we really are, however you believe, quite miraculous.
Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

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I have some very mixed feelings about this book. While not all of them are positive feelings, when you tally them all up there’s still more awesome contained in this book than not.The very first thing I have to mention is the first thing you notice about the book- the cover. And how could you not? It’s freakin’ fabulous and I can’t remember the last time I LOVED a cover this much.Cinder is a very fanciful and highly imaginative spin on the classic Cinderella tale with some wildly fantastical and unique twists. For starters, this Cinderella isn’t all there- physically. Cinder is a cyborg, a creature that was essentially human at one time but whose various body bits have been replaced with mechanical parts. Thanks to the miracles of modern science and better living through chemistry, Cinder was able to survive a horrible accident that left her human body nearly unsalvageable. She was adopted by a kindly gentleman and taken to live with him and his family, a step mother and two step sisters who were less than thrilled to have a machine in the family. After the untimely death of her adopted father, Cinder was forced to accept the only role her step-family was willing to allow her, that of a servant, a machine and the legal property of her 100% human family. But in the market where Cinder works as a mechanic, not everyone is aware that she isn’t entirely human. When the Prince Kai, heir to the empire stops by her shop for some impromptu android repair, Cinder quickly finds herself thrown into the midst of a palace scandal that could destroy the entire nation. Kai has no idea that his new confidant isn’t all that she appears to be and in fact, she’s so very much more than even Cinder herself knows.All those positives I mentioned early? The majority of them go to Meyer’s writing, her powerful story line and excellently founded world. Meyer’s city has a tremendous amount of suction and I found myself imagining far beyond the written world, down side streets and behind palace doors, because I simply wasn’t able to pull free. I can’t fault her story telling.The few negatives that reared their ugly heads, popped up in various places throughout the story. Without going into what could potentially be seen as spoilers, there were quite a few elements that bordered on absurd. The foot, the car, the “superpower” that was dormant for nearly two decades (really?) and the chiropractic move that brings it out. There was enough actually story line that those little avenues could have gone unexplored and nothing would be missing. But these were personal pet peeves and maybe someone else will see the beauty in them.At the end of it all, it’s still freakin’ Sci-Fi Cinderella with Cyborgs and you just about can’t top that shit. Solid stuff this. It not only FULLY warrants a sequel but I also have NO doubt that Meyer can pull off an entire series.
Shatter Me

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I’ve heard from various sources that the main complaint they’ve had with this story was its being essentially 338 pages of set-up for the next book. We get introduced and well acquainted with some very strong and captivating characters but very little insight into what was actually going on. And yeah, that assessment is pretty much dead on, but it doesn’t mean that the story is short on awesome.When we begin Juliette believes herself to be a patient in an insane asylum. In her post apocalyptic world, resources, wildlife, safety and humanity amongst humans is growing increasingly rare. The remaining people are subject to a rigid military rule that leaves little tolerance for the unexplained and no one can explain Juliette. It is a complete mystery why the simple touch of her hand on another person can result in excruciating pain, so the world locks her away and forgets about her. Months later, Juliette is given a roommate, a young man named Adam with blue eyes that are unmistakably familiar to her. Adam is her first human contact in a long time and with him she tentatively begins to build a friendship that has her toying with the idea that she might not be crazy. And she’s right, she’s not in an asylum and she’s far from crazy- she’s a military experiment.Something happened with this book that hasn’t happened for several books now- it’s filled with dogeared pages marking some exemplary passages. Mafi’s writing is tinged throughout with moments of OMG, some had me pausing to reread, or take in what she was describing. There’s nothing I love more than having pages that I simply HAVE to go back and revisit. I felt Mafi’s writing was far superior to the actual story and she could have been telling me anything and I would have bought it.Juliette’s story is a scary one, and she’s not only scared for herself, she’s scared of herself. Where so many authors would take this opportunity to have their MC miraculously and heroically discover an untapped source of bravery and brawn, Mafi lets Juliette experience the terror of her situation just as she should. Not everyone with super powers is a hero. Not yet anyway. I prefer to think that in future installments, Juliette will come into her own gradually, as befits her personality.I’m still not sure what to make of Adam, our captor/hero/love interest. I’m not sold on him completely as he falls into the group of heroes particular to YA fiction in which he lets his love suffer “for her own good.” And he isn’t broody enough- you know how I like them.Final thoughts? We need more authors like Mafi in YA. You know, ones who can actually write. I can’t wait for the sequel and I’m really interested to see where Warner’s story goes. Underneath he’s desperately afraid of appearing weak and I almost think he feels he needs someone as powerful as Juliette to love him in order to validate his position- which could make a man very, very desperate.
White Cat: The Curse Workers, Book One

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This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while now but for some reason I had yet to pick it up. Maybe it’s the seriously creepy cover. Those gloves alone are enough to send me running. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve gotten in to darker YA so I guess it was just time to read this one. I’m so glad I did because it’s positively fabulous!This is my first Holly Black book and I had no idea how awesome she is. White Cat was fierce. Even with its dark, nasty magic performed by wicked evil doers I was immediately rooting for the bad guys. Curse workers have formed a sort of magical mafia where they’re still busting knee caps in an old school way only in Black’s world they do it with their minds. I loved Cassel from page one. Believing that he lacks the powers that the rest of his family has, he still engages in the same manipulation and subterfuge that his twisted kinsmen do but with his wits alone. Oh and then, THEN there’s the part where he turns out to be the biggest badass.I’m liking YA books from male points of view. They’re rare enough to make them a real treat whenever they’re stumbled upon. The sequel, Red Glove, was released this past April and I need to get my grubby little hands on it.
Explosive Eighteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel

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When I first heard that we were getting another Plum novel right on the heels of Smokin' Seventeen I was a little perplexed. We get one Plum book a year right? THAT IS THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS. So why is Janet throwing a curve ball and giving us Explosive Eighteen a few short months later? When we left Stephanie in June she was boarding a plan for Hawaii and she knew exactly who she was going to take with her. Did she take Joe? Did she take Ranger? So maybe we're getting Eighteen so soon afterwards because SOMETHING HAPPENED IN HAWAII!Wrong. I don't know what their reason was for pushing Eighteen so soon after the last one but it wasn't to showcase what happened in Hawaii. It wasn't so that Stephanie could finally choose between Joe or Ranger. It wasn't so that after 17 books of her screwing both of them she could finally commit to only screwing one of them. It wasn't to finally show Stephanie as adept at her job. It was published so soon so that:Something could get blown up.Someone could break into Stephanie's apartmentStephanie could take Grandma Mazur to a viewing at the funeral home.Stephanie's parents could hang their heads in shame and embarrassment at the dinner table and Stephanie could brown bag leftovers.Stephanie and Lula could eat at Cluck-in-a-Bucket.Stephanie and Lula could make several unsuccessful attempts to capture a skip and be thwarted over and over again in the most humiliating ways.Stephanie could toss Rex a few hamster crunchies and have him scurry out, shove them in his cheeks and go back into his soup can.Stephanie can shamelessly sleep with both Joe AND Ranger all the while saying that she's not going to sleep with either of them.You know, the same thing that happened in Seventeen....and Sixteen...and Fifteen....and Fourteen...shall I keep going or do you get the picture? Here's what happened in Eighteen: NOTHING. NOTHING NEW HAPPENED. No decisions were made, no changes in plot line or formatting, it was just copy/paste the last seventeen books and changing the type of excrement that Stephanie gets covered in. She doesn't "pick" anyone and the ending was left just as ambiguous as it has been for 17 books. I could possibly, if I wanted to, draw some inkling that a point was scored for Team "_____" but it would be mostly wishful thinking.Where Sizzlin' Seventeen was hysterically funny to the point of convulsions, Eighteen was dry, dry. I actually marked the three (only three) pages that made me laugh, and only one of those was loud enough to draw attention- of course that one came from Grandma Mazur.Janet Evanovich, author of eighteen Stephanie Plum novels who I still love with all my heart but currently want to throw things at- you make bunnies cry.
Personal Demons

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This one was a little tough for me. I was completely into this story up until the point where I wasn’t. Right out of the box, it’s fast, suspenseful and oh so sexy. Then it’s kind of like, if you divide the book exactly in half, the first half was totally captivating and the last half was, eh, well- it just wasn’t.Riddled with YA cliche, (In insta-love with the new boy who is now her class partner, new boy is smoldering hot, girl is clueless as to why all the guys want her, enter the love triangle, yada yada) this story could have very easily been a disaster. Surprisingly, the aforementioned elements worked in this scenario, again, up until the point where they didn’t.Frannie is a normal high school girl, with average everything- including an average soul. It seems that Heaven and Hell have been playing a rather nasty game of dodge ball, and each side is trying to claim the best players before the other team lands them. Frannie’s soul has been firmly on the fence for years. Having lost a brother at a young age, she has some serious issues with the guys upstairs. Her strong Catholic upbringing has kept her on the straight and narrow but with her doubts and one really dark, painful secret she could just as easily tip towards the other side. Heaven and Hell each send their individual ambassadors to entice Frannie toward their side. And of course, Hell sends Luc- that smoldering, wicked looking new guy who just exudes dark hotness. Heaven counters by sending Gabe, a tall handsome blonde who threatens to make Frannie feel the one thing she has sworn off since her brother died- love. The battle over Frannie’s soul begins and quickly turns dangerous, and neither side is playing fair.Let me point out, that even with all the heaven and hell goings on, this is not some underhanded attempt by an author to sneak a little God into your reading. In fact, given the elements, it was delightfully surprising to find not one ounce of religion in this book. So don’t run screaming.My issues where never with the plot, because well, a demon and an angel fighting over your soul- that’s just hot. Where Desrochers drops the ball is in her attempt to balance the players in her love triangle. Gabe seems to have been randomly thrown in without ceremony and almost written as an after thought. He has very little dialogue or presence and Frannie’s feelings for him just have to be assumed because Frannie said so. Her constant struggle against her feelings for Luc was where the real action was. The front cover asks the question: “If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be? Are you sure about that?...which would lead you to believe that you’re in for some serious friction. Nope. Frannie never even made it a choice- Luc does, because he’s awesome like that. So I got a bit turned off in the second half of the book when the only chemistry was between Frannie and Luc but Gabe was still considered to be a contender and we’re suppose to believe that Frannie still doesn’t know which one to choose. Why didn’t Gabe get any chapters from his point of view? That would have made me feel a bit more connected to him.Frannie annoyed the hell out of me. If she said “Whatever” one more time, we were going to have words. I can think of a lot of people more deserving of a hot demon lurver (pick me! pick me). But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike this book, the actual story was amazing and I was hooked on the heat from page one, she just lost me in the second half when everyone was so decidedly vague- which should be near impossible to pull off.Will I read the sequel? Yeah. I will.
The Girl in the Steel Corset

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Finley Jayne is my hero. Man I wish my name was Finley Jayne. Not that I’m not a wee bit bipolar on my own but it would be really nice if one of my mood swings involved turning into a bad ass, butt-kicking, Miss. Hyde. It’s rare that I’m more into fight scenes than I am love scenes but we could have spent the entire book watching Finley beat the snot of bad guys and I would have kept cheering. This was my first taste of “steampunk” and I rather liked the idea of industrial paranormal. It made for a wild fancy dress party- one where everyone speaks very formally but carries cool batmanesque type toys. I can forgive the love triangle, since it isn’t very developed and has the potential to turn into something of real interest. I’m 100% team Jack Dandy though.
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