Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR #1) by Sarah J. Maas


A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR #1)
by Sarah J. Maas
Rating:  http://www.galaxyreporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/3_5-star-rating.png

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16096824-a-court-of-thorns-and-roses

Recommended to Stacy by: Every blogger on the internet
Recommended for: fans of Sarah J. Maas, action-packed romance, and    1st-person POV stories
Read from May 04 to 21, 2015 — I own a copy, read count: 1

3.5 stars

Don't get me wrong, I liked A Court of Thorns and Roses (aka ACOTAR) by Sarah J. Maas - 3.5 stars is a positive rating; there were so many things to love, as there always are in her books. But there was one major element in this book that drove me so crazy that it tainted the reading experience to the point that I couldn't give it more than 3.5 stars.

Things I loved:

- the heart-wrenching, emotional writing: this is one of Sarah J. Maas's strongest talents! She utilizes her writing to reach into your chest, rip your heart out, and feed it to you, still warm, dripping, and beating. This book has a lot of emotional struggle, and I loved going through that with Feyre.

- using intelligence instead of magic. Feyre is just a regular girl: she's not magical; she has no special abilities; she's just like me - plain and ordinary. Yet when she has to face challenges, she uses her brain (most of the time) - there is an exception here and there where she gets "special" help from her friends, but for the most part, it's just her using logic to find a way out of the situation. And I really like that - a girl using her brain.

- steamy scenes!!! That was one thing that I missed most in Maas's Throne of Glass series. I mean we sort of get that broom closet scene, but it's just alluded to, not described in salacious, luscious details the way it was in ACOTAR. Kudos to Maas for going there - those scenes were very well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

- multiple male characters (Tamlin, Lucien, Rhysand, oh my!), but no love triangle (yet?). I'm not a fan of love triangles because they tend to take up plot time that could be better spent in action and/or steamy scenes. But the male characters were all there, and the tension was still compelling. And even though Rhysand and Tamlin were enemies, it wasn't a choice, per se. Feyre knew which man she wanted; there was never any doubt. But Rhysand and Lucien both helped to complicate the story line without making it about her choice between them. I am hopeful that love triangles will not appear in later installments, although there is definitely possibilities for one (or more), and that would be a bummer.

All of these factors were reasons to enjoy the book, and if it were just these factors, I'd probably give it 4 or 5 stars, but there were two major factors that ruined the love for me.

1. The pacing and build-up in the first 2/3 of the book was a bit slower than I'd prefer. I think this is because I knew something big was coming, and I just wanted to get there. Also, I think because I already knew the Beauty and the Beast plot line, I could anticipate the relationship that Maas was kindling. We know Beauty and Beast get together, so I knew what was coming in regards to the relationship. But the action was awesome. The last 1/3 of the book is non-stop action, so the pacing in that section was great. And even though there are bouts of action in the first 2/3s, the lulls were a bit too drawn out. Now, I must preface this by saying that life impeded by ability to read this more quickly. I think that had I been able to read it straight through and not have to drag it out over three weeks, I might not have noticed any problems with the pacing. But because life only allowed me to read this in short bursts over a longer period, I wanted to get to the action sooner. But this complaint would have only brought it down a half of a star, at the most, because when the action did come, it was nail-bitingly amazing (as always)!

2. The second complaint is what killed it for me - I have learned that I loath first-person point of view (POV) in action books!!! In contemporary love stories, maybe I could tolerate it, but in action books, it doesn't work for me. I get it: readers like to be in the character's head; they like to know the deep, down thoughts and feelings that sound awkward coming from an omniscient narrator. However, third-person limited (ala Harry Potter) still allows us to into their inner struggle without ruining the possibility of a negative outcome. See, in 1st-person POV, the narrator can't die because she is the one TELLING THE STORY!!! It kills the suspense. There she is, hanging in the balance, on the verge of dying or being killed, but the whole time, the logical side of my brain is screaming "SHE CAN'T REALLY DIE! SHE'S REPORTING THE PLOT, AND THERE ARE AT LEAST TWO MORE BOOKS LEFT!" In The Hunger Games, the 1st POV didn't bother me as much, even though Katniss was in danger of dying every other scene. I don't really know why it didn't irk me; probably because I hadn't read anything else quite like that before, and I was too distracted by the constant complicating action to pay attention to the POV. In Outlander, 1st POV didn't bug me because I was too diverted by all of the amazing historical research, steamy love scenes, and sublime diction to even think about Claire dying. And Diana Gabaldon switches to multiple POVs in book 2, Dragonfly in Amber, and all of the other POVs are 3rd person, so it doesn't bug me as much. In Divergent, however, much like in ACOTAR, the 1st POV drove me CRAZY!!! Veronica Roth even had to resort to changing the POV out of nowhere in book 3, Allegiant, because 1st POV limited her options when it came to the survival of Tris. And don't even get me started on how much I hated 1st POV in Karen Memory. I already ranted enough about the 1st POV problems in that book. The protagonist can't really die if she is the one reporting the story - there's always some convenient, illogical way around the main character dying, so it kills the suspense involved with fearing that the author might really "Kill her Darlings." Action/Fantasy/Dystopian/Sci-Fi authors should just stop using 1st-person POV all together. JUST. STOP!!! Stick to 3rd person: allow yourself the option to switch perspectives, build honest suspense, and kill your protagonist, if you want. 1st-person POV should be left to contemporaries or romances where you know there is no chance at all of killing off your main character. 1st POV works in love, but not in death, so stop. Stay in 3rd POV and make all of us looney lit majors happy. I realize that this is probably something that only someone like me would notice. I have spent my whole educational life studying literature and theory, and it has ruined me from enjoying well-written books that have only one minor issue. However, for me this POV issue is downright irksome, so much so that my mind constantly begrudges it the entire time, thereby ruining the entire reading experience. I wish I could turn of that voice that I was forced to develop during my years studying literary criticism and author's purpose, but I just can't. Therefore, when my brain latches onto a problem, like an impossible POVs, it haunts me through the whole book.

With that said, I will never quit on Sarah J. Maas. I will still read anything and everything she writes because I do adore her characters, her world-building, and her action scenes. But this one book (and possibly the whole series if it remains in 1st-person POV) wasn't my favorite. Hopefully you will be able to ignore the impossibilities that 1st POV create so that you can enjoy it more thoroughly. It's still a well-written, creative book, and I still recommend it, but I just wish it had been written in 3rd-person POV.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger


Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5)

Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5)
by Gail Carriger
Rating: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HfuY7CUavN0/VQ3lXMq1EyI/AAAAAAAAGqc/qX2aCQyx5Qo/s1600/5-star_rating_system_pcar_01-e1349540653866.png

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12348550-timeless

Recommended for: Fans of Ms. Carriger, Victorian England, or the Steampunk genre
Read from April 18 to May 06, 2015 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Awwwww....I am happy and sad, all at the same time. Happy because I absolutely adored this series, especially this 5th installment, Timeless. But I'm sad because it's over! Alexia Tarrabotti has become one of my all-time favorite characters - she is bold, courageous, witty: all the characteristics I wish I could be. I will miss living vicariously through her and her wild adventures. And even though there is the 4th Finishing Series book, Manners & Mutiny, to be released, and even though the Prudence duology is a sequel, neither of these books have Alexia as the protagonist, and I already feel an ache in my heart for the loss of not having more to read about her.

And while my 5-star rating for this 5th book is a bit generous (maybe it's a 4.5), I cannot bring myself to give it any fewer stars since it is the culmination of such a wonderful series. As some reviewers have mentioned, this 5th book was somewhat different from the previous four. It was a bit more somber with fewer witty one-liners, but the emotional roller-coaster was equally as enjoyable as the previous four books:

Things to love:
  • The setting in Egypt was foreign and fascinating
     
  • The God-Breaker plague's expansion was such an intriguing concept that I really had to work mentally to wrap my head around it.
     
  • Prudence was the most adorable addition to already lovely cast of characters. She already has such hutzpah as a toddler that I can hardly imagine how she will be in her later years, as will be described in the spin-off.
  • The development of Biffy's plotline. I am hopeful that he and his story arc will continue in the Prudence books, which I plan to start right after I finish the other books I am currently reading.

I am still perplexed by Alessandro Tarabotti and what his back story really involved. Much is revealed about him in this 5th installment; however, there are so many unanswered questions! I plan to read the novella, The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar, and I am hopeful that some of my questions will be answered, but I truly believe that Ms. Gail Carriger, could write an entire series about his adventures, and I would gobble up that series in a heartbeat! Carriger make several references to Alessandro's travel journals, and what I wouldn't give to get my grubby hands on those to see the sorts of ludicrous shenanigans that are described therein.

There is just so much to love about this world and the characters that Carrgier has created within it.

Ms. Gail Carriger leaves many story lines untied, which hopefully allows for copious spin-offs from this same world. I want to jump through the pages of these books and stay in this picturesque, Steampunk, Victorian wonderland forever. So even though some reviewers are frustrated by the cliff-hanger quality of some of the subplots, the open-endedness of these make me hopeful for further editions.

I recommend this series with reckless abandon: if you are not reading it, you are missing some of the best world-building and character development that I have ever read. These books remind the reader of the joy that is supposed to come from reading. Yet, they are not fluff books - there is detailed historical research and well-developed theoretical concepts that make them mentally stimulating to read. They are romance, adventure, Steampunk, Victorian, alchemy, history, philosophy, and anthropology all rolled into one. And for all these reasons, I will miss this series dearly. But I am slightly consoled by the fact that I know Ms. Carriger will continue to write about this world for years to come, which will provide me with endless opportunities (I hope) to return to this world as often as I can.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon


Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Voyager (Outlander #3)
by Diana Gabaldon
Rating: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uxC6ET1uxOk/Uk8LAYYJLdI/AAAAAAAAUtY/9ux1F3gUxg0/s1600/Four-Stars.png

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10987.Voyager


Read from January 11 to April 21, 2015


This series is not for everyone; however, for me these are immensely enjoyable reads. I must acknowledge the fact that I am listening to them on audiobook, and as I wrote in my review of Outlander (which you can read at http://lostinlibrolandia.blogspot.com...), much of my enjoyment of this series comes from the superb reading of Ms. Davina Porter, who narrates the Audible versions. However, Ms. Porter is but the voice that brings life to the words and plot of Diana Gabaldon. Therefore, while Ms. Porter enhances the series immeasurably, the bulk of credit for my enjoyment ultimately goes to the author herself. For me, my love stems from the detailed research, constantly-evolving action, complex characters, and suspenseful structure.

In Voyager, the third installment in the series, I found myself scoffing at the impossibility of events, and yet, at the same time, I was unable to stop listening for need to see what might happen next. The whole plot is completely improbable: no one travels through time and half-way around the world and yet somehow manages to run into the same acquaintances over and over again! However, the story is so intriguing, and the action is so suspenseful, and the writing is such sheer perfection, that I don't care that the plot is impossible! I adore it anyway! Of course there is this little voice that lives in the back of my brain that keeps whispering, "There is NO WAY IN HELL that this could ever happen!" But I just repeatedly beat that little voice into submission, binding it and gagging it, until I can't hear it anymore. Whenever it breaks free of its bonds and begins to denounce the probability of this book, I just insist "If this improbability is wrong, I don't want to be right!" And then, in the spirit of Black Jack Randall, himself, I beat that voice down again, tie it up, throw it into a dark prison cell, and toss away the key! I don't care that the plot is completely impossible, I love it anyway!

I find myself guessing some of these impossibilities before they happen (e.g., I TOTALLY knew the identity of Mrs. Abernathy before the book revealed it), but then I'm still gasping in shock when my ludicrous predictions are actually confirmed. I'll say, "It can't be (blank)" and yet I'll still be surprised and dumbfounded which (blank) actually happens!

And the action in this third installment was so constantly evolving and escalating, that there were times that I couldn't even keep up with it mentally. I had to keep editing the movie in my mind because Gabaldon kept wrenching up the intensity, especially the scenes at the seance and also at the end during the sea storm.

And the ending of this book is another cliffhanger...will cannibals really appear in their "brave new world"? I'll just have to keep listening to find out.

I cannot really recommend this series without reservations: as I said at the beginning, it's not for everyone. Some people will detest the violence, scoff at the unlikeliness of certain events, and/or shudder at the sheer length of the books (this installment is 870 pages, but book 4 is more than 1000 pages!). But if you love historical fiction, accurate and richly-detailed research, and a series that will last for an extended amount of time, then you should definitely read this. I have loved it so far, and have already started listening to Book 4, Drums of Autumn. It is a long haul to stick with the series through to the end, since I am getting on the bandwagon so late in the game, but since I'm listening to it, and therefore can read other books on the side, I'm very much enjoying the time I get to spend with Claire, Jamie, and others.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Review: Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger

Heartless by Gail Carriger 

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4)
by Gail Carriger
Rating: http://mochadad.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/five-stars.png

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8356487-heartless

#steampunk #gailcarriger #victorian

Recommended for: Fans of Ms. Carriger, Victorian England, or the Steampunk genre
Read from March 29 to April 17, 2015 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Heartless by Gail Carriger was a rip-roaring, side-splitting good time, to be sure. It is crazy how much can happen in such a short time when Gail Carriger is organizing the plot. And to think that it all went down while Alexia was 8-months pregnant made it all the more comical.

I absolutely adore this series, and this book was oodles and oodles of fun. And talk about world-shaking shifts in the Carriger universe! This book is fraught with incidents which are causing the the stars to align for some massive changes in the final installment (which I plan to begin reading as soon as I finish writing this review!) And there were a number of strings left hanging, so I am curious to see how she will tie them all up.

What will happen with Madame Lefoux and Quensel now that they are where they are (no spoilers)?

What will Ivy and Tunstell do now that they are/have returning/returned from Scotland?

How will the wolf pack adjust/adapt to their new situation (no spoilers)?

How will Lady Maccon, Lord Maccon, and Lord Akeldama adjust/adapt to their new role as parents?

And what the heck is happening with little Miss Prudence and her special abilities? (Can't wait to get to the new spin-off series, Prudence, after I finish reading Timeless).

Gosh, this series is so amazing! I cannot gush enough about how much I am absolutely enamored by the world that Gail Carriger has created. The historical accuracy is fascinating, the characters are delightful, and the witty banter is sheer perfection, the best I've ever read!

Gail Carriger makes reading enjoyable. Her books call to me, and no matter what else I'm doing, I almost always would rather be reading her books. I know that I still have 4 books, (Timeless, Prudence, Imprudence, and Manners & Mutiny), and one novella, (The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar), left to read, but I am already getting sad at seeing the end in sight. I hope Ms. Carriger continues to write forever so that there will always be one of her wonderful books on my TBR list!

If you have not read her work, you must! You will enjoy them immensely!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review: Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger

Blameless (Parasol Protectorate, #3) 

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3)
by Gail Carriger

Rating: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IrQblm-Voog/U08n6LFigjI/AAAAAAAAEa0/tAQ4gyqP9qM/s1600/4,5.png

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7719355-blameless
 
Read from March 16 to 27, 2015 
 


I think I am in love with Gail Carriger
Definitely an excess of soul!
Blameless was the sixth book that I have read by Ms. Carriger, and as always, I found it absolutely divine! There are only two author's of whom I've read more: J.K. Rowling at seven books and Charles Dickens at eight, and they are both some prestigious company! When I read Ms. Carriger's books, I am always grinning, even going as far as to chuckle aloud, which rarely happens with many other books I read. Ms. Carriger's books just make me happy.

There are many books that feel burdensome, like you are shackled to them while marathoning to the end. Those are books that I dread opening: I force myself to finish them because I know that the author put all of his/her passion into writing it, so I finish them out of respect for the author, but it's never fun. This NEVER happens while I read a book by Ms. Carriger. In fact it's the complete opposite.

Her books call to me their siren songs, and I have to resist their magnetic pull in order to still appear responsible, but honestly I can't wait to get back to them. I fiend for them desperately. And when I finish reading them, I always have a big grin on my face and a swell of joy in my heart. I love reading the world she creates, which I like to believe is so true to Victorian life, yet just ever-so-slightly hyperbolized by the addition of supernatural elements. Sometimes, her world seems so vividly plausible that I actually have to wonder, "what if this really was the way Victoria or Elizabeth ruled, and history books just left out the supernatural elements?" And while many of the adventures are wildly outlandish, I want to believe so fervently that this was exactly how it must have been in those times because it's just so darn fun to imagine! I love her, ahem, the books!

And there are still so many more left to read!!!!! I am three-quarters through the Finishing School series, and three-fifths through the Parasol Protectorate series, and I still have the novella about Alexia's father, and the Prudence series to go! And Ms. Carriger was even polling her fans for other characters who are spin-off-worthy, so I hope for more to come. And I will obsessively happily consume them ALL! I even read, and loved, her short story Fairy Debt, which was cupcaketastically fabulous - you must find the e-book version (it's only 10 pages long, so a VERY QUICK read, but still full of Ms. Carriger's whimsical perfection).

So while this review is not specifically about Blameless, which is, by the way, gloriously cram-packed with adventurous French and Italian rendezvous involving Ladybugs, Vampires, and Templars (oh my!), I cannot recommend this series enough! Honestly, if you are not reading Gail Carriger, you are severely deprived of the most amazing witty banter I have ever read. Her writing is superb!

And Lord Maccon.....purrrrrrrrr! He is downright delectable!

 
 
That's it! Stop whatever you are doing right now, and go out and get yourself a copy of one of her series. Now! No, really! Stop reading this instantly, and go read this series instead - you won't regret it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen 

The Great God Pan 
by Arthur Machen

Rating: https://wheatbeerexpert.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/2-star.png

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5712193-the-great-god-pan

Recommended to Stacy by: Dr. Bartlett, professor of English at UC, Irvine
Recommended for: Victorian readers
Read from March 11 to 16, 2015 — I own a copy, read count: 2

In September 2008, Steven King sat down to interview himself (strange?). During this interview he got on the topic of of how one of his own short stories was a riff on Arthur Machen's novella, The Great God Pan. King claimed that The Great God Pan was "one of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language. Mine isn’t anywhere near that good..."

I first learned of Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan when working towards my Master's degree in English Literature. I took a class on the fin de siecle (the 1890s), and The Great God Pan was on the reading list. I remember reading it and discussing it, but we had to read so much so fast, that I didn't feel that I really absorbed much at that time. For that reason, and since King praised it so highly, I thought I would re-read it. I remember that my professor said she had chosen it because it was such a controversial text for its time (1894), but I couldn't remember why she said it was so controversial. When I Googled it, Wikipedia described that "On publication it was widely denounced by the press as degenerate and horrific because of its decadent style and sexual content, although it has since garnered a reputation as a classic of horror. Machen’s story was only one of many at the time to focus on Pan as a useful symbol for the power of nature and paganism." So needless to say, I had high expectations. However, I was disappointed.

It's always challenging to read a Victorian text in modern times: our sensibilities are so drastically altered now, and what people found scandalous back then seems commonplace and innocent today. That was what I felt about The Great God Pan. I was expecting Horror (capital H) in the modern sense - a grotesque scary she-monster who was corrupting the lives of others. And while the book does follow the path of Helen Vaughn (a.k.a. Mrs. Herbert, Mrs. Beaumont, Ms. Raymond, etc.), it never actually reveals what she does to corrupt these people. The closest we come to a revelation is when Machen mentions that Helen took Rachel into the forest and something "bad" took place. But we never learn what actually happened in the forest, nor do we learn what Helen did to the boy she scared, or any of her husbands or male friends who later killed themselves from being corrupted by her.

All of the fear directed at Helen is based on rumor and assumption, and this is what bothered me the most. Here is a woman, whose reputation precedes her everywhere she goes, and yet, no one ever gives solid evidence as to what she's done wrong. In fact most people who have met her become completely enamored with her, and it is only after she has left them (e.g. Mr. Herbert) when they begin to slander her as "corrupting them body and soul". There was a strong undertone of sexual nature to the events, yet sex is never directly stated as the reason for this slander against Helen. But lets, for the sake of analysis, assume that what she is doing with these people is sexual. In that case, this becomes yet another example of a male author crafting a text in which sexual women are demonized, in this case literally referred to as a bestial demon who is so impure as to dissolve upon her deathbed. I think the men were corrupted because they were so desperate to get back all the ecstasy that they had with Helen. It is my belief that she blew their minds so profoundly that they all went to extreme, and in some cases deadly, measures to feel the euphoria that they felt with her. But this again is mere assumption because the book purposely cuts off any character who can accurately explain what he/she actually did with Helen.

In the end, I was left unsatisfied and frustrated. Machen had done such a suburb job of building up my curiosity to the brink, yet he never reveals the truth of the situation. I remember ending the book saying, "This can't be all of it! Where's the revelation?"

Maybe if I were a Victorian reader who was so extremely deprived of revelation, this might have been enough. But as a modern reader who lives in a saturated world of full-exposure, where everything is always revealed, sometimes even too much so, this book was a let-down. Two stars for the suspense, but no more than that for the lack of resolution.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Review: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

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Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
 
Rating: https://wheatbeerexpert.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/2-star.png
 
Recommended to Stacy by: Gail Carriger's Book Club - February 
 
Recommended for: Not sure - maybe you'll like it more than I did
 
Read from February 12 to March 08, 2015 — I own a copy

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear is a difficult book for me to review. If I took a deconstructionist perspective, then it would get a higher rating because there were things about the book that I enjoyed; however, I did not enjoy reading the book as a whole: it was downright burdensome, which is never enjoyable.

Things I enjoyed:
  • I loved the theory of this book. The idea of reading about a brothel in a Seattle-like city fascinated me.
  • The feminist intention; I can't really say it had a feminist "message", per se, but the intention to empower women, including prostitutes, was really intriguing.
  • The diversity: Chinese, Indian, Native American, African American, transvestite, women, etc. It really had a well-rounded, diverse cast of characters, and I was grateful for that.

Things I disliked:
  • The dialect. Karen tells the story in first-person POV, and she has a very unique voice. But Elizabeth Bear wavered at times when it came to the voice. Sometimes it was ridiculously strong, southern twang blaring. Then she would switch to a more eloquent voice. The shift was so clear that even the voice in my head changed, which had never happened before with the same character.
  • The pacing. This book was a pacing nightmare! I struggled through it. I even considered DNFing it, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I know that authors work so hard on their craft; I can't bring myself to just quit on their effort half way through. Out of respect for authorship and writing, in general, I had to finish it. But I dreaded it ever time. The action would be rolling along (and it really does have some great action), but then Bear would stop mid-sequence to flashback to something, or give some sort of metacognitive insight. This was probably most apparent in the bar fight scene (this isn't really a spoiler, so no fear). In this scene a man is about to hit Karen with a bar stool. He has hoisted the stool above his head and is about to bring it down upon her, when out of the blue, Bear side-steps the action to flashback to Karen's dad and a horse, or some randomness. The movie in my mind was going bonkers: one minute I would be imagining one scene, and just as I would be anticipating the next action, wham-o, tangential side-story barges in and messes everything up. And this happened a number of times. And it was ABSOLUTELY INFURIATING!!! The pacing was such an out-of-control roller coaster ride: all I wanted to do was get off and run far, far away. But I had to at least finish it. Honestly, I really did not want to pick up the book anymore - I resented it after a while.
  • The convenient plot twists. I'm sorry: I know writing is hard work, and that making a plotline function is maddening, but one can't just make stuff conveniently appear for the character, or make the character endure totally impossible situations. And both of these things happened in this book many, MANY times!!! Sorry, but if your character gets burned, beaten, and bruised, she can't just run out there and fight another battle. Oh, and did I mention that she was a 16-year old, orphaned, prostitute! I had such a hard time imagining her as 16 years old. I kept seeing mid-20s, but nope; she is supposed to be 16! And yet, she can endure crazy abuse, come up with insane solutions, and almost single-handedly save Rapid City from complete decimation. And while she definitely struggled, things happened that seemed WAY too convenient: characters would magically appear or disappear just when she needed them. And, characters would break their normal personality so that she could survive and keep the story going. If the bad guy has Karen and knows that she is trying to get in his way, he'd dispose of her. Why would he want her to live? He is heartless and cruel; he has killed people before. Why would he all the sudden want to keep her alive? Totally not going to happen.
  • The would of, could of, should of...ARRRGGGGG - a grammarian's nightmare. Yes, I know this is a totally nit-picky qualm (1st world problem, for sure). I mean, most people don't even realize that "would of" is incorrect, but it is, and Bear uses it incessantly, and it DROVE ME INSANE!!! I don't even see the point of it, really. Using the -of form didn't even match Karen's voice. If anything, Karen should have sad "woulda, shoulda, coulda" instead of "would OF", etc. I get that she wouldn't have said "would have" because that is entirely too proper (even though she is actually an avid reader of dime novels, and a housemate of a uber-proper, grammar-correcting bar maid). But why "would of"? It doesn't even read correctly - "woulda" would have been so much better.

So I am torn with this book. The idea of it was brilliant, but the execution of it was off. And maybe it was just me: maybe other people will really love it, for it does have a few redeeming qualities. But for me it was torture. It took me almost a month to read this 350-page book. I can read more pages than that in less than a week, but this book took me forever! I never felt like reading it, and I even avoided it at times. That is not how I want to read a book. I want to love it, devour it, hug it close.

Read it if it sounds interesting to you, and let me know what you thought. Maybe I'm the weird one who just didn't get it. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did.