Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Thoughts: The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya

by Nagaru Tanigawa
Book 7 of Haruhi Suzumiya

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

After closing a time loop fiasco in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (Vol. 5), our hero Kyon is ready to start a new year with a blank slate--no time travel, no apocalyptic worries, and maybe some actual peace and quiet with the SOS Brigade, a club comprised of his high school's most extraordinary students.  Their leader is Haruhi, a bold, brash girl who doesn't realize that she's actually a powerful goddess whose moods can easily change the balance of the universe.

Just as Kyon starts to get comfortable, he gets a visit from his friend Mikuru.  Except this isn't his Mikuru; it's a Mikuru from eight days in the future!  Time traveling shenanigans start all over again as Kyon, guided by the future Mikuru, attempts to stop a terrible future from becoming a reality.

It took a bit of time for me to recall a lot of events in previous books as I read Intrigues; and the only reason I felt a bit annoyed with myself was that I know, going into each book of the Haruhi Suzumiya universe that they are all tied together quite intricately, and sometimes quite cleverly.  But you really don't catch that cleverness until the very end of the book when all the confusing chaos somehow manages to interconnect, leaving you a little exasperated, but also a bit impressed at the same time.

Haruhi Suzumiya isn't the best light novel out there, and in a way, it sometimes takes a bit of patience to get through each book.  They're not terrible, but if you're not into the mundane happenings told through a bored, yet snarky high school boy, these books may not be your cuppa.  The only reason I even got into this light novel series is mainly because I loved the first season of the anime.  But apparently there is a way to be very different in prose and print than in an audio/visual format, to the point that one actually comes out with better comedic timing than the other.


Intrigues was kind of chaotic, in that a lot of things end up happening throughout the book with no clear purpose.  The only thing you realize you count on is finding out that purpose by the end of the book, where maybe one of the sci-fi/supernatural beings will have a "tell all" session with our beloved narrator, Kyon.  Because the entire book is basically just a build up, where Kyon ends up getting roped into some mission for his beloved time traveler, where they go around performing various, strange, yet utterly nonsensical tasks, without being told why.

This is a plot that can get quite frustrating, but all along since they're wondering what all these tasks are for, as the reader, you're also wondering what will be the explanation in the end.  It's like some sort of reverse adventuring game or something like that.  If that even makes any sense.

In the end, what really brings this book to life are always the main characters... as well as some very not-so-subtle ending thoughts soaked in philosophy... or just a lot of mind-meandering from a high school boy that still really makes you think about how time traveling, and past actions, and future actions, and timelines are affected.  Or something like that.

Truth is, these books somehow have the most mundane happenings in any books I've read, for a book about aliens, espers, and time travelers surrounding a strange girl who's always on the move to make the most of her life.  It's weird how things work.

Monday, August 27, 2018

First Impression: The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star

by Maureen Johnson
Book 1 of Shades of London

~ Goodreads ~

Here is a cautionary **SPOILER WARNING**  just in case I have inadvertently given away anything significant to the story itself.  I will do my best not to mention any big spoilers, but I don't always check myself accordingly.
Review for The Name of the Star | link coming soon

Progress on 8/27/18:  61 of 372 pages (16%)

Some other facts I picked up:

Welsh is an actual, currently used language and our next-door neighbors Angela and Gaenor spoke it.  It sounds like Wizard.


England and Britain and the United Kingdom are not the same thing.  England is the country.  Britain is the island containing England, Scotland, and Wales.  The United Kingdom is the formal designation of England, Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland as a political entity.  If you mess this up, you will be corrected.  Repeatedly.

The English will play hockey in any weather.  Thunder, lightning, plague of locusts... nothing can stop the hockey.  Do not fight the hockey, for the hockey will win.

I don't know how on point these facts Rory picked up really are, but I have to admit that that last one made me chuckle and decide to write an update post.

I'm actually enjoying this book despite the fact that it's so far pretty mundane as far as stories go.  The book started with the discovery of a dead body and some bloody descriptions.  But then we jump right into Rory's narration, following her from Bénouville, Louisiana, to London.  I've read other YAs before where the main character who has to travel to a new place tends to be a bit pouty and a sour sport about her own situation; too closed-minded, ignorant, and entirely too arrogant and rude for her own good.  And usually always whining.

But I'm finding Rory's "fish out of water" experience kind of fun, if only because in spite of her ignorance, she's actually being a pretty good sport about being in a place she's unfamiliar with.  It probably helps that she DID choose to come to London to study abroad herself.  And it also helps that the tone of the narration is dry, a little sarcastic, and nonsensical in a way that I love.

Rory is just an ordinary girl with no "special snowflake" stats.  She knows she used to be popular when she lived in Bénouville, but now she understands that at Wexford, she is neither popular nor unpopular and "was just there."  She's finding the curriculum grueling and panics accordingly.  She keeps quiet when she doesn't have anything to say, but will quip something sarcastic if it strikes her mood.

The fact that she's not the sporty type endears her to me, and the fact that she admits this, and the book's narration also proves this, makes her all the more likable.  Because, for one, I'm not a sporty type either--give me a couch and a book any time of the day--and second, she doesn't magically become a sporty type and even dreads going to hockey.  Nothing is more annoying than someone proclaiming how un-sporty she is, only to become the best field hockey player on the first day, without having had any idea how to even play the sport in the first place.

Rory's first day of field hockey was spent sitting out because she forgot her mouth guard.  Her second day consisted of pouring rain, heavy goalie equipment, and the inability to move despite being yelled at by the teacher to block with her arms and legs.

Man, if I had to take a mandatory sports class regularly, I'd probably keel over and die pretty quickly.

Back to the story, I'm hoping that things pick up pretty soon, because so far we've mainly been following the copy-cat Ripper murders in the news.  I'm looking forward to the moment Rory gets involved and the supernatural stuff starts to happen--in fact, I think we just met one of our resident supernatural stuff a few pages ago without realizing it yet.  Just the way his introduction was written has "I'm significant to the story plot" written all over it.

It's Monday! Halloween Bingo Pre-Read is a Go! | 08/27/2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

With Halloween Bingo around the corner, I'm trying to clear off my current reads, as well as a few other books I'd been meaning to finish reading, so that I can focus entirely on Halloween Bingo books.  Whether or not I will be successful is another matter, but there you have it.

To my utter surprise, however, I hadn't thought I'd be able to knock out so many books so quickly, and I'm sure it has a little to do with Moonlight's bingo "head start" announcement.  Within the weekend, I managed to finish all three of my current reads, of course two of them were books I'd already been reading and was already halfway finished with.

Still, I call it progress!

As for my Halloween Bingo pre-read, I've been shuffling books around, and after hitting the library this morning, I finally decided on The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson:

It's been a long time since I've read anything remotely YA, so I decided to go ahead and get started on this one and knock it out of my bingo first before I end up dragging it out.  I just haven't really been in a mood for YA, and I know I might end up letting the book sit there and fester if I've got a bunch of other books I'm more interested in.

I'm not saying that The Name of the Star won't be interesting, as I've seen a lot of great reviews for it, but when you're just not in the mood for something, you're just not in the mood for something.  So while I'm between reads, and before the official game begins, I'm going to give this book the chance it deserves.

Meanwhile, there's a lot going on in the personal life that may or may not interfere with the reading life... we'll take it day-by-day, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to black out my card like I've done the past two years I've participated!

What I Read Last Week

I actually just finished Lake Silence hours before posting this week's It's Monday!, but I'm including it as part of what I read last week anyway... because I can.

What I'm Currently Reading

What I'm Planning to Read Next

Other Plans On the Blog

I don't have a lot of planned reads for this coming week, if only because I'm loathe to start anything I may not finish before September.  I really want to just focus on my Halloween Bingo books, because at the reading rate I've been going on, if I get sidetracked, I may not be able to finish reading books for all 25 of my Halloween Bingo squares.  And I would love to continue blacking out my card, as per usual.

With Moonlight's 'Head Start' announcement, I've at least got one Halloween Bingo book I'm able to dive into pre-Bingo start, so that's a plus!

Since September starts at the end of the week, I'm hoping to start reading Morrigan's Cross, as well as finish off the rest of the Liar's Club series.  And once I've got the Liar's Club series out of the way, then I guess I'm free to dive into all of my Halloween Bingo books without any other reservations!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Brief Thoughts: Borrower of the Night

Borrower of the Night

by Elizabeth Peters
audio book narrated by Barbara Rosenblat
Book 1 of Vicky Bliss

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

On a side note, I actually listened to the audio book narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, but the cover I'm using is that for either a paperback or e-book version.  Simply put, I just didn't like the audio book cover, which you can find if you click on the link I've provided above on the "audio book narrated by" line.
Meet art historian Vicky Bliss.  She is as beautiful as she is brainy--with unassailable courage, insatiable curiosity, and an expertise in lost museum treasures that often leads her into the most dangerous of situations.

A missing masterwork in wood, the last creation of a master carver who died in the violent tumult of the sixteenth century, may be hidden in a medieval German castle in the town of Rothenburg.  The prize has called to Vicky Bliss, drawing her and an arrogant male colleague into the forbidding citadel and its dark secrets.  But the treasure hunt soon turns deadly.  Here, where the blood of the long forgotten damned stains ancient stones, Vicky must face two equally perilous possibilities.  Either a powerful supernatural evil inhabits this place. . . or someone frighteningly real is willing to kill for what Vicky is determined to find.

It took some time before the book actually picked up, so while it spent some time dragging, it DID eventually start becoming enjoyable.  But for the most part, it was a bit boring, and I had some trouble really relating with the characters; though Vicky was pretty fun at some points, but I wonder if it's because Barbara Rosenblat was able to bring the dryness of Vicky's narration and humor to the front.  I had considered whether or not I should read this book (or others in the series) in print to see if it would have made much of a difference.

I love a lot of things that have to do with anthropology, so I'd been looking forward to reading works by Elizabeth Peters, though I wonder if maybe I should have started with the Amelia Peabody books instead.  Not that this series is bad or anything.

Anyway, this book was just a so-so experience, even as some parts were fun and interesting.  The men were arrogant jerks that I had a hard time not rolling my eyes at.  Vicky had her moments of contradictory monologues, wherein it seemed she wasn't quite sure whether she wanted to be a feminist or "the little lady."

I hope this changes in future books, because I really loved the introduction wherein Vicky makes her stance known about how she loves men, but doesn't see that it's necessary to marry them.  But then she spends a good majority of the book lamenting the fact that all the men were paying more attention to the damsel of the book, Irma.  I wasn't quite sure Vicky was sure what she wanted.

But her tone was dry and sarcastic and fun to follow.

Then the ending was a little awkward.

All-in-all, this book was entertaining in it's own way.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Halloween Bingo 2018 | Take Your Head Start!

(link above leads to the announcement!)

So I would be lying if I said I didn't see this one coming.  =D  While I've got a couple other books I'm trying to finish reading before the official game was set to begin next Saturday, I'm actually quite ecstatic, as always, whenever our game hosts throw a couple plot twists in our direction.

Now the real question turns out to be:  What book will I choose to start the game with?

I honestly got a little excited thinking that I could totally start squeezing in The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley, which I will be reading for the Gothic square.  I have it as an Audible, and since it usually takes me a bit more time to finish audio books than other books formats (e-books typically average 3 to 4 days if I'm getting into said book), I was going to start this one.  It's not like I couldn't finish this 11 hour audio book in two months, but a little extra padding wasn't going to hurt, and I wasn't going to be able to start immediately on September 1 anyway due to travel plans for that weekend.

But then I got that: "Oh noes!  I can't!"  I had already chosen The Splendour Falls as the book I will be reading in September for my Reading Assignment Challenge.  Drat.

Ah well.  I'm not one to break rules, so that brings us to the other options I'm narrowing myself down to.  The following are all library book borrows (which I have a lot of for this year's bingo), so I want to knock one of these out first.  The question is... which one?

I'm determined to finish at least one of the books I've already started this month today, so I'm going to spend time doing that.  THEN, I shall jump into one of the above books, giving myself a few more hours to decide what I want to start with for Halloween Bingo!

I'm totally ready to roll!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Series Review: Glass Series

Glass Series
by Maria V. Snyder
Book #1:  Storm Glass | Goodreads | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #2:  Sea Glass | Goodreads | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #3:  Spy Glass | Goodreads | Rating:  2.0 Stars

Rating:  2.67 Stars

Side Note (8/19/18):  There will be no summary blurbs, because this entire series review was already too long.

After I have had time to calm my frustrated rage-y thoughts, I've decided that while I'm only in a frustrated and disappointed phase now, the Glass series by Maria V. Snyder is definitely NOT my favorite of the series she has written.

It doesn't change the fact that I was addicted to the series for the most part though.  When asked to explain my enjoyment of Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass, I've got twisted feelings of conflict that were fairly stable up until Spy Glass took a turn for the worst.


This review contains spoilers.  I don't know when and where I dropped the most of my spoilers, but they are there.  This review was written in a semi-ranty state, and there could be spoiler mines everywhere.  If you wish not to read any spoilers, please do not continue.

You have been warned.

Since I like lists so much, here are a couple:

Overall what I liked:
  • The general world of this series (which is technically the world built from the Study series that left enjoyable, more satisfactory impressions on me).
  • The general story line ideas.
  • The general story line characters.
  • The general magic creation and use of it.
  • A certain charm that Maria V. Snyder seems to be able to project from her creation.
  • The reappearance of Valek and crew.

Overall what I didn't like:
  • It still bugs me a little that I can't grasp the time frame or the setting of the worlds that Ms. Snyder creates.  Is it modern?  Is it historical?  Is it high fantasy with a modern twist?  Is it simply a whole new world created with modern language and colloquial terms in place?  Sometimes the characters sound like they're from a traditional high fantasy... then sometimes they sound like they're from a trendy modern YA.  I can't place it.
  • The direction of the "main characters" in the series as a whole was confusing, deflating and kind of frustrating.  (I'll explain more later.)
  • The romance -- I swear that Opal Cowan has probably gotten more action in a romance than any adult erotica I've read (not that I've read anything too hardcore, cause I generally stick to the vanilla stuff).  But still, she went from a triangle to a rectangle to an almost pentagonal relationship... and everyone wanted to get in her pants!  Honestly, that's a far way to go from simply being that young side character who almost got Yelena killed in Magic Study.
  • The final relationship at the end.  Just... no.

In a sense, the overall story was fine; decent enough to enjoy with a selection of charming characters -- seems like typical Maria V. Snyder creation.  The conflicts and the plot devices, while feeling fairly scattered, at least all tied together at the end of each book properly.  There was fun to be had with traveling and adventures and fights and training and such, though it seems that Opal spends A LOT of her time just traveling.  Of course, kudos for leaving out most of the traveling scenes unless there was something significant that happened.

Still... I feel like several years have passed by just watching Opal travel across Sitia every other chapter.

I especially loved the incorporation of all our favorite Study series characters, especially Valek and his seconds, Janco and Ari.  Again, a mental fist pump for the appearance of Valek as well as the revelation that I DO love him (more than I thought I did).  I liked Lief in this series moreso than I liked him when his sister was the main character in Study, but he seems to have grown on me (and also, sarcasm always earns points if worked into the dialogue properly, and Lief just did it all right).

Yelena...  I was happy to see her.  I loved her a lot in the Study series...  But was she always a bit of an authoritative bitch?  Or was that just to discern between her being a more accomplished magician now as opposed to her having been in Opal's rebellious position before.  Because you'd think that, of all people, Yelena would understand how it felt to have the entire Council as well as your own Master Magician mentor not believe a word you say; or that she'd at least understand the hurt of someone you cared for and trusted, turn around and abandon you when you need help the most.  She isn't an all out problem since she makes few appearances and is still a good person, and also because Opal DOES tend to make very, very bad decisions.  But when she dismisses Opal's claims as delusions, I had trouble not being disappointed that Yelena, of all people, would side with the Council and give up on helping Opal so quickly.  It seemed out of character, and like an easy plot device to help push Opal over the edge and run off the way she did.

I mean, Yelena has had first hand experience with how frustrating it is to be the only one who knows something evil is brewing and having no one believe you.

But whatever.

I'm not going to go as far as say that I am all raged about this series.  There were just far too many moments of frustration weaved into my overall enjoyment of this series.  We can say that I didn't not enjoy it.  But at the same time...

Because while the frustration took full force in the last book, Spy Glass, those feelings had admittedly started tickling the surface since the first book.  But being as how the world and its characters are fairly charming, I set aside my quibbles to enjoy the book.

Unfortunately, there were just too many things that ended up being wrong about this series.

The main frustration came with Opal:

I admittedly really liked her in the first book.  However, my impression of her slowly started turning sour as the series progressed.

In Storm Glass she was the young new magician learning about her magic.  She was given a chance to study in the Keep and she was revered as important by lots of important people.  But she lacked confidence, pride, ambition, and self-worth... She was also one of the most indecisive people ever.  Which is still fine as a point for development, but sometimes one can go overboard with the wishy-washy-ness, and the moping, and the whole "I'm not worth a penny" schtick.

Opal has issues with the fact that her fellow classmates don't like her, but she also has an issue with trust.  Sure, some of them are probably jealous that she's close with the infamous Soulfinder, Yelena Zaltana... but not everyone would become a jackass if you tried to make friends rather than remaining in that "No one likes me anyway so I might as well just keep to myself" bubble -- it makes you seem like a snob.  (I would know.  I've been there before.  I learned from my mistakes.  I've rectified.)

But I still liked Opal because she had time to grow into a more self-confident and goal-oriented person.  And you could see that that was the direction in which Storm Glass was trying to take Opal's development.

Opal may not have been the "rush into action alpha female who kicks ass like a superhero" type.  She's just a plain girl who will break when tortured, who will fear death when it is presented to her, who will admit that she's not strong enough to endure torment, and who shies away from dangerous missions.  She's wishy-washy (sometimes to the point that gets frustrating), but at least she wasn't the type to blindly rush into saving lives... at least that's how it seemed.

We soon watch her transition from having trouble making any decisions at all to being a very, very bad decision-maker... and still not learning from her mistakes.

When Sea Glass came along I was still on Team Opal concerning all the Sitian conflicts, and looking at how the Council and the Master Magicians and everyone else was dealing with problems.  It's true that the Council takes the longest, most vexing approach in dealing with anything.  The whole "deny, deny, deny... bad things can't possibly happen because we fixed the situation years ago already" flippant attitude about evil, villainous magicians trying to wreak havoc was kind of annoying.  There will always be evil villains (it's the whole point in balance of power and shit like that), so denying that these things can happen only reinforces that bad things WILL happen.

I'm not saying that the story itself was annoying (well, not all of it); I'm just sitting on Team Opal because I wanted to see her march up to the Sitian Council and dance around with a smug air of "I told you so!" when the shit hits the fan, and they realize they're at fault because they didn't want to do anything to even try saving the world.  Although you'd think that a bunch of elected representatives with experience and wisdom would be more open to all possibilities of any activities occurring in their world rather than spend so much time debating whether or not a situation could occur and then spending more time convincing each other that "if this is really happening, here are our two thousand alternatives to problem solving."

Kingdoms die due to indecisive rulers, you know.

So it sucks being the only person who knows that something bad is going down with no one on your side, because people are still debating the possibility of anything going bad in the first place.  I needed Opal to use her wits and her heroisms to save the day and then rub it in the Council's face.

But the direction of Opal's story line started to nose dive for a few reasons:

First:  Opal was still a doormat.  She wouldn't stand up for herself and she wouldn't speak up for herself.  Her first instinct is always: "No one's going to believe me anyway," or "I'm not really important enough for people to listen to me."  That's fine.  Find the people you can trust and make them trust you!  Then make things happen and save the world with your own power and the power of your friends.  Yelena did it, so can you!  However...

Second:  Opal has some of the worst communication skills ever.  And the worst decision-making skills ever.  And the worst luck ever.  Combined in this formula, there is never going to be a way for her to march up to The Powers That Be and scream, "I told you so."  Why is this?

Third:  Because Opal ultimately ends up being the one who is proven to be a menace to society.  She makes bad decisions, she keeps too many secrets, and she's too caught up in the woe of her own faults and her flaws and her desire to prove that she's not useless.  And then she screws everything up because she didn't think of the bigger picture.

Finally:  She knows that she makes bad decisions.  She knows that she should learn to trust other people.  But she doesn't.

And then in Spy Glass... I think my reaction to her can be summed up in this form:  "Opal...  WTF are you doing?"  Some may believe that the romance was what I hated the most about the Glass series.  No, it was one of the straws, but it was one of many.  Opal, being one of the many straws -- a very significant straw.

Second frustration -- Kade was blindsided:

I liked Kade from the beginning.  He had a strong connection with Opal in the first two books and it saddens me that he gets cut off in the third book with really weak explanations.  In fact, it was as if Kade suddenly lost favor with Ms. Snyder and she just felt like writing him out (I'm not saying this is what she did.  I'm just saying that this is what it felt like.)

Kade was given a strong base to develop from.  Starting as a guy caught up in his woes of losing his sister and then becoming the strongest Stormdancer afterward.  He learns to heal and to love again.  Then he grows a connection with Opal and the two fall in love.

Things were going so well for him up until the last book when he just disappears from the story altogether.  I'm not sure I liked how his character's story line was handled.

Maybe not so much a frustration, but I didn't like Ulrick from the start:

There was something about Ulrick that never sat well with me from his first appearance up to the point I was proven right about him.  I'm not sure that I can honestly explain away his change with blood magic addiction, because he always displayed an ambitious, pushy type of personality.

I can see him feeling like he needed to prove to the world that he wasn't his siblings' shadow and that he could accomplish things on his own too.  But a lot of his thoughts and actions, I don't agree with, and in the end, it all lead to his demise anyway.

It's just that his personality takes such an abrupt nose-dive that it feels unbelievable.  How do you go from fawning, ambitious boyfriend to evil, villainous bastard just because you lost the girl.  Can we really blame everything on blood magic?  It seems like a fairly convenient deus ex machina.

I guess people have snapped for lesser reasons.

And then there's Devlen.........

No.  Just.  No.

I don't mind that we get the whole reformed act thing.  That was fine.  But Devlen's sudden significance in the story line after being the bad guy for two books doesn't make any sense to me.  He spent the entire book being the enemy (which is fine, a good little antagonist-becoming-a-good-guy spin always hits the right spot).  But the way Devlen's story line was handled came out of left-field.

Even up to the moment that Devlen almost dies to help save lives, I found myself continuing to believe that he would turn around and betray everyone.  THIS is how deep his betrayal and deceit was embedded in the story.  When he shows up at the Bloodrose clan with tattoos and as a friend of our main villain, I found myself thinking these thoughts:

"I knew he was a bad guy!"  Except I also knew he wasn't and found myself kind of disappointed that he truly was a reformed villain.

Maybe I'm the one with trust issues.

It's just that... he suddenly went from evil scum to front-and-center love interest... no questions.

It's like, when the souls were switched, Yelena also performed a lobotomy on the two guys and they both became completely different people.  And again, we use blood magic as the excuse.

Oh yes.  We also use Opal as the reason too.  Opal's rejection of Ulrick turned him evil.  Devlen's love for Opal turned him into a changed, reformed man.

I guess this isn't the worst of story twists.  But still...

Which leads me into the romance:

For the life of me, I can't wrap my mind around why Opal chose Devlen.

I can't stand behind this relationship and understand how it even managed to manifest.  Even if in a strange twist, Opal accepts Devlen somehow and it's supposed to be okay, the way it happens in the book happened way too fast for my liking.  One moment, she is scared of him, angry at him for all of his lies, deceit, betrayal...  he kidnapped her, tortured her, aided in her sister's murder, aided in Yelena's attempted murder, tried to force her to release an evil Daviian Warper who would continue to wreak havoc and kill more people, manipulated her, stole her boyfriend's body, slept with her in her boyfriend's body (can that be called rape?)... I'm sure there's a whole lot more that he did to her.

But in the end, we're supposed to just accept that and cheer for the happy couple because they truly DO love each other?  All is forgotten and forgiven in such a short span of time?  In this situation, does love really trump logic?  I can see forgiving him for his sins, but I have a hard time seeing how Opal can fall in love and remain with him for the rest of her life and marry him after all he did to her.

I mean, this is one heck of an extremely delayed, crazy case of a Stockholm reaction.

I can't stand on Team Devlen.

And then, I can't stand the way Opal handled her relationship with Kade.  The Stormdancer loved her.  He may have pushed her away before, but after they got together, they were happy, they were in love and they were just the perfect couple.  Or at least they could have been.

The story was building up to a beautiful Opal/Kade pairing.  Even with her unconsciously hurting Ulrick by dating him while she was still in love with Kade... I could handle that case.  It doesn't make it right, and I'm not saying that Ulrick deserved to be cheated on because I never liked him, but I can still accept it in a less ragey manner.

I couldn't quite accept the whole "Since Kade doesn't really love me, I'll just settle for Ulrick" thing.  Those kind of romances NEVER sit well with me, because you're basically just telling the guy he's only second best, and given the choice you'd rather be with Guy A if he actually loved you back.  It's a little selfish, it hurts everyone in the end; but humans can be selfish by nature.

But after Opal and Kade got together...  I guess I just can't wrap my head around how she could spend two and a half books being obsessively in love with Kade... and then explaining away her lack of resistance to Devlen's charms with, "The spark with Kade just wasn't there anymore."

And then she could use that as an excuse to kiss Devlen and sleep with him before even settling her relationship with Kade.  Just because the spark between her and Kade wasn't there anymore.  No matter that just 25% of the book ago she had come to the decision that she "couldn't lose Kade."

Just like that.  The spark was gone.  Then again, that spark was what got her interested in Kade in the first place, so maybe their relationship started off just as fragile as how it ended.  Kade kind of just got the rough end of the stick and I'm sad for him.

Maybe Ms. Snyder can give him his own series with a happy ending, no?

So....  our heroine kind of has a history of cheating.  Even when she was with Ulrick, she was still thinking about Kade and it is a form of cheating even if she never physically did anything with Kade.  When she was with Kade... well, she was straight out unfaithful to him, twice, with two different men... without a morsel of regret.  And yes, I kind of count the entire ordeal with Finn -- despite the fact that she was just trying to romance information out of him, she could have handled things better.

So....  should Devlen be worried that Opal is suddenly going to lose that spark within the next hypothetical book or two and find someone else?  Or maybe return to Kade one day when she decides that she's made a mistake?

If there hadn't been an actual semblance of a committed, physical relationship between her and Kade...  If Devlen had actually been more of a significant presence throughout the first two books...  If Opal hadn't made her snap decisions about her life and her love life with no semblence of thought...

Maybe I could have understood why she chose Devlen and why she had to leave Kade.  Maybe I wouldn't have been so frustrated that Kade just accepted her decision without a fight or an ounce of anger.

But that is still a lot of "if's" and "maybe's".

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in April 2014.

Brief Thoughts: Taste of Darkness

Taste of Darkness

by Maria V. Snyder
Book 3 (final) of Healer

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

Side Note (8/19/18):  I did not review the first two books of this series--reviewing this last book was a last minute whim.  But rest assured, I also enjoyed the first two books.
She's fought death and won.  But how can she fight her fears?

Avry knows hardship and trouble.  She fought the plague and survived.  She took on King Tohon and defeated him.  But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.

But there's a more immediate threat: The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own.  With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.

Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully.  For the future of her world depends on her decision.

I wish I would take the time to write down thoughts about a book when I get them, because otherwise, I end up sitting in front of my computer, hours later, and not quite certain what I want to say about it.

Taste of Darkness wraps up the Healer series decently, and I guess I didn't realize I was looking forward to reading the conclusion to this trilogy until I finally got my hands on it (when it became available through my library's e-book collection).  There was an addictive excitement coming over me as I read this fast-paced story despite (and maybe even in spite of) all the many flaws that poked at me.

In the end, however, I found enjoyment in Taste of Darkness as well as the entire Healer series altogether.  Like Maria V. Snyder's Study series that I just finished, there are distinct writing style and story tone quibbles that were hard to ignore (even though I tried to ignored them anyway), but the characters and the story itself weren't too bad.  I'll admit, I liked the concept of how the Healer's powers worked, even if I wasn't too thrilled about the rest of the magicians' powers.  Some of the mechanisms revealed in this book (the plague's origin and cure, the revival of certain characters, how the Death Lilies and Peace Lilies were, etc.) were a bit questionable.

Also, I've never been too fond of the POV switching writing style, especially going from a first person to a third person -- it's a little messy.

At the very least, there's a happily ever after (something I'm never too ashamed to admit that I love seeing in any story).

As a whole, Taste of Darkness held together better than the second book, Scent of Magic, but I overall enjoyed the first book, Touch of Power more than the aforementioned two books.  Things seemed to get really haphazard in this last book with the war and the evil villains and the discoveries... but for some reason, I'm willing to overlook all of that because I DO like the characters.

And was Avry always such a smartass?  I can't remember, but I'm not complaining.

I'll admit that since I DID just finish reading the Study series, I couldn't help but make some comparisons.  And in all honesty, of the six books total, Poison Study was the favorite and the Study series was the more enjoyable of the two series.  I liked both heroines equally (between Yelena and Avry), but I didn't care too much for Kerrick; there had been none of that mental fist pumping action I did whenever he made his appearances (not like when Valek entered a scene to join Yelena in the Study series).

The ragtag group of the Healer series, however, was a little more memorable than the supporting characters of the Study series.

At this point, I really should just stop doing comparisons though, but I had so little to really say about Taste of Darkness itself that I felt like I needed to fill this post with other random opinions.

Nonetheless, my conclusion of the Healer series is that I'm satisfied with it.  Maria V. Snyder may have just become one of those authors I always perk my ears up at now.  I am planning on reading the rest of her other series and I will probably continue to follow all of her new releases.

Somehow, even with some mundane writing, but great story telling, she's managed to capture my heart.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in April 2014.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Halloween Bingo Randomness

I think I just spent way too much time working out how I'm going to track my Halloween Bingo calls and books read... and I'm not even sure if it'll work out the way I want it to.  I went back and forth between the table I used last year, to just making a bullet point list, to playing with a new idea that you can see below.  It's sort of a table slash card that I wasted hours working on just to get the dimensions right, only to realize that I might have made things more complicated than necessary.

I may or may not actually use it.  -_-  And really, I need to be thinking about what marker to put on my actual Bingo card rather than playing with tables and html.

But anyway, here's another (different) look at the books I've chosen for my squares!  A couple new changes have been made.

So yes, September needs to arrive soon so I can quit wasting time outlining and formatting update posts, and start reading all the books I'm actually very much looking forward to reading.

Really, I just need to step away from my computer for a couple days and finish reading a couple other books.