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ashleywithrow

The Never-Ending Bookshelf

I was born with a reading list I will never finish.

Currently reading

Daughter of Dusk (Midnight Thief)
Livia Blackburne
Empire of Shadows
Miriam Forster

BL on FB

Reblogged from Tea, Rain, Book:

I just posted a comment to BL's FB page. I am coming close to shutting down at least the review section of my blog here if BL continues to do similar promo posts for authors or giving them a platform to complain about reviewers and readers. I didn't bother to set up an account with GR because of author superiority over readers, and I am not afraid to limit the free content I give BL.

— feeling big smile
A picture is worth a thousand words!
A picture is worth a thousand words!

The Girl at Midnight

— feeling angry
The Girl at Midnight - Melissa Grey

On its own, without considering anything else, I enjoyed the plot and the little bit of mythology within the world.  BUT, I just can’t overlook the lack of originality that was peppered throughout the whole thing.  It has been said in so many reviews already, but seriously, this is too similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  And when this did verge away from DoSaB it touched on The Grisha series.  It seemed like the author just mushed those two series together and came up with The Girl at Midnight.  If I hadn’t read both of those series before this I probably would have been more into this book.  Unfortunately for Melissa Grey, I did read both of those series before this and they were superior to this effort.  

 

The MC, Echo, was a little snarky and sarcastic, which I love to read.  It keeps novels fun and adds an relatable element to the character for me.  

 

That said, she drove me nuts on a number of occasions.  

 

First - - and I cannot emphasize this enough - - she just FORGOT about Rowan.  You know Rowan...the boy she was swooning over in the first few chapters.  The boy she has known all her life...and been “in love” with for a while.  Rowan...her boyfriend!  As soon as Caius was introduced it was as if Rowan didn’t even exist.  Some people have said there was a love triangle in this book but I would disagree.  I love triangle would require the MC to actually think about both partners.  This is no love triangle, this is Echo abandoning Rowan and not looking back.

 

Second - - Echo switched her allegiance way too quickly.  She has been raised by the Avicen her entire life to believe that the Drakharin are vicious, demented creatures.  She has been raised to hate and fear them.  Yet, one look at Caius and she is willing to ally with him and Dorian - not just to escape - but to find the firebird as well.  She could have returned to the Avicen, she didn’t.  She could have continued her search without what should have been her mortal enemies, she didn’t.  No, she took them to an Avicen safehouse and starts making googly eyes at Caius.  I don’t care that this fit nicely with the plot line, it was too easy.  There was no real attempt to provide Echo with doubts or to have her reconcile what she has been taught to believe with the reality of what she is seeing.  

 

Third - and I may be a little picky here - after all her hemming and hawing Rowan she literally throws herself at Caius.  She had a traumatic event, which Grey attempted to explore, but ended up just using as a plot device to further the romance that she needed to build between Echo and Caius.  This was an opportunity for Grey to really build Echo, to give her some development and growth, to address a serious issue (PTSD).  This could have been a moment for Grey to really show us her writing chops.  Instead, she makes Echo weak and needy.  I was really disappointed with this turn of events.

 

The world-building by Grey was lacking as well to me.  She barely touched on the mythology of the world, and only did so to bring the Firebird into things.  I wanted to know about the Drakharin and Avicen, their societal structures, power structures, customs and traditions.  We get none of that, nope, we get a pathetic so-called-romance between Echo and Caius that took up far too much of this book.


There was a gigantic area where this book excelled - and that was Jasper and Dorian.  I loved the inclusion of LGBT characters and the fact that they were central to the plot, frequently seen and explored as characters.  They weren’t just thrown in there to appease a demographic and forgotten.  They mattered, in some small way, to the overall plot.  Their romance, to me, was sweeter and more believable than that between Echo and Caius.  Kudos to Ms. Grey for taking the time to write these characters well.  This is getting 2 stars - one for Jasper, one for Dorian.    

Necropolis

Necropolis - Tim Waggoner

DNF

Matt Richter Series, Book 1

Started: 8/11/15

Finished: 8/18/15

 

I had thought, going into this book, that I would fall in love with it.  It has so many elements that I typically enjoy.  I feel like I was more interested in the idea of the world and plot than in the actual execution by Tim Waggoner.  

 

The plot felt as slow as molasses.  It just meandered on without any real build up or fire.  There was very little intensity as the whole book, up to where I stopped at least, maintained the same voice and the same pacing.

 

A few things from other reviews that I agree with:

 

  1. 1. The James Bond-esque baddies that always tell the hero exactly what is going to happen.  Show, don’t tell!
  2. 2. The hero always having exactly what he needs, when he needs it, even when there is no way to anticipate the necessity
  3. 3. A lack of distinction in the world.  All the characters were baddies in some form, being all from horror genres.  There is no excuse, then, for the naive nature of a certain character.
  4. 4. Bland, boring, all too normal lead.  For a former cop turned zombie PI in an alternate universe full of terrors I was totally underwhelmed by Matt Richter.

 

From reading reviews I can see that others loved this book.  I just can’t see why. To me, it was lacking on too many levels to invest any more time.  It’s not the first time I have gone against the grain (Gone Girl comes to mind) and I am sure it won’t be the last.  Each day it seemed that I was forcing myself to pick it up rather than anticipating continuing reading, so I am throwing in the towel.


The TBR list is too long and time is too short!

Cracked - Eliza Crewe

Cracked - Eliza Crewe

 

Oh, my dear Meda.  What a snarky little bitch you are.  I love this character, especially since she is the MC and not a side character smushed in for comic relief.  She is manipulative and conniving and totally fun.  It is refreshing to see an MC that isn’t some perfect porcelain doll.  Meda is flawed, seriously flawed.  She is sarcastic and even a little mean.  But she is real.  Her internal dialogue had me laughing (and getting strange looks from my husband) throughout the book.    

 

Jo.  Quite the little badass here.  She is angry, understandably so.  And suspicious, rightfully so.  She is the most realistic to me of the characters in her response to Meda.  Coming from a super secret demon killing tradition it makes sense for her to be skeptical and a little paranoid.  I love that she is also a bit manipulative (when she has to be) and can be as cunning as Meda.  They are a great pair or characters.

 

Malachi, sweet, naive Chi.  He has a serious hero complex which plays beautifully into Meda’s schemes.  The lack of suspicion on his part actually makes sense in the grand scheme of the book.  He hasn’t graduated and is only playing at being a true Templar Crusader.  His reaction to Meda (falling for every little manipulation with nary a thought of trickery) is hilarious for me.  I can practically see Jo rolling her eyes everytime he jumps into the big bad hero saving the poor little damsel mode.  I loved his arc throughout and the slow realization that he sees more than he lets on, just not where Jo is concerned.

 

I loved the slight romance angle here that didn’t involve the MC or insta-love.  It was real and touching and hilarious.  I laughed as Jo fought the inevitable and appreciated Chi’s refusal to give up.  It was a small enough addition to the plot that it added tension while giving the reader a break from the primary plot.  This was seriously well done!  

 

Uri is such an old soul, and his story was heartbreaking.  He was innocent enough to befriend Meda without qualms and to see the good in her when she couldn’t.  He was a stalwart both in supporting his friends and his beliefs.    

 

I have been so tired of Templars that when the plot first introduced the mythology I nearly rolled my eyes.  Meda and Jo were enough to keep me from chucking the book across the room.  And I am so glad that I did.  The addition of the Inheritance to the Templar legend was original and fresh.  And the involvement was kept to a minimum so there was no rehashing the entire mythos that I am all too familiar with from other books.


This was fabulous and highly recommended.  Not all heroines have to be good girls, more authors should remember that.

Gates of Thread & Stone

Gates of Thread and Stone - Lori M. Lee

I am somewhat split on this book. The first half was harder for me than the last half. Overall though it was a good offering from Lori Lee. The writing was strong and the world was quite interesting and those are both big reasons why this is getting 3*. It took awhile for the rebirth to be explained but when Lee got around to it (very naturally in the story, not just an info dump) it was an understandable situation. It is something that came through as a very human reaction to the situation.

I struggled with Kai a bit. I liked her but I never really connected with her. There was nothing obviously wrong or annoying about the character. She behaved reasonably and she never suddenly flipped a switch to become something different in order to move the story. But, for some undefined reason, she was always a shadow in my mind; never a clearly defined picture. This was the toughest part of this book for me. Typically if the MC doesn't connect for me I won't be able to get through the book and end up DNF'ing.

However, for this, the full cast around Kai kept me involved. I loved Avan. He was troubled, mysterious, flawed, and totally amazing. Reev was superb in my opinion. Even as he had a relatively small part in this book he was the catalyst for everything. He was the strong, stabilizing presence that Kai desperately needed. I really enjoyed these characters. I could almost give this 4* just off the strength of these two characters.

Irra was a fun character for me as well. But I think Mason stole the show in Etu Gahl. G-10/Mason was fabulous. He was strong and supportive throughout the book while also pushing Kai out of her comfort zone. He, alone, could have pushed this into a 4* had he been a larger presence in the plot.

What saved this book from a 2* though was the ending. Wow for the ending. Particularly as it pertains to Avan. I really didn't see that coming at all. Usually I can predict at least a portion of the so-called twists and am not typically surprised by the endings. This blindsided me though and I absolutely loved it.

I am going to be continuing the series, though not for Kai. I will be continuing for Reev, Mason, and Avan. They were much stronger characters for me, much more sympathetic. I am hoping, though, that I will connect more with Kai in the next book of the series.

Embrace The Possibilities

Reblogged from Nemo @ The Moonlight Library:

Ink & Bone

Ink and Bone: The Great Library - Rachel Caine

For some reason...this took awhile for me to get into.  It  has everything I love though: intrigue, strong characters, a superb plot, and no love triangle.  So...once I got through a bit of it this quickly took off for me.

 

I loved all the characters.  That is actually kind of amazing.  Even in great books there is usually one or two characters that annoy me or behave in a way that doesn't make sense.  But not here.  The characters...from Wolfe and Santi to the Postulants were well thought out and had their own unique arc that made them interesting.

 

I especially loved the world this was set in.  A book about books in a world run by a Library...how much better could it get!  The idea was well done and very absorbing.  I have always loved the history of the Library at Alexandria and having that alternate world where it wasn't destroyed was fabulous.  

 

I am definitely continuing the series and hopeful that it will only get better from here.  This was a great book on its own but it also brilliantly setup the series to get even better.  I held back half a star, honestly, just to be miserly.  But if the series continues on like this one I may have to bump that up a notch!

The Sin Eater's Daughter

The Sin Eater’s Daughter - Melinda Salisbury

So....I made it to page 136.  And then I gave up.

 

This was a really confusing read for me.  The whole time I was waiting, rather impatiently, for something.....anything to actually happen.  And nothing did.

 

There were a few amusing moments but as a whole the book feels starved.  The characters are bland and flat.  There is no real connection between anyone.  I am supposed to feel like Twylla cares about Dorin, is developing feelings for Lief, etc. and yet none of it feels real.

 

The plot....well I still haven't been able to find one.  There is no coherent story here.  Just a girl, stuck in her room, with no real friends, and a terrible job.  Take away the very thin mythology of the world and you have a typical outcast girl in high school.  Just not an interesting read for me.

 

Twylla's voice especially is just boring.  She is empty....with no real soul or purpose.  At this point...I am roughly half way through and still don't care about anything that is going on.  None of the characters interest me.  

 

Moving on! 

The Sin Eater's Daughter

— feeling confused
The Sin Eater’s Daughter - Melinda Salisbury

So...I don't normally write updates as I work through a book.  But this one called for it.


I am almost 80 pages in, have met (what seems like) all the pertinent characters, have a bit of understanding about the world and lore, and......nothing is happening.

 

Literally nothing is happening.  There is no suspense, no plot development, nothing.  It feels like I am reading Twylla's diary....that of a young girl with nothing to say.  Not a good sign!

 

I am going to give this to 100 pages, roughly a third of the way through.  And if nothing happens between now and then, I'm gonna have to call it.

BookLikes Wishlist Item

— feeling wink

I have seen many posts, all with great suggestions, to make this a stronger community.  I appreciate that BookLikes is willing to hear our thoughts on the site and attempt to make those changes.  It is actually pretty unique to see real changes to a site brought on my the users.

 

So here is my hope:

 

I would like to see a better platform for book recommendations.  I tend to go back to GR's when I am browsing for new books to shelve and would much prefer the ability to do that here on BL.  

 

Specifically, I would love to see an easily accessible link to a series page.  This way I can review all of the entries in a series and track my progress through those entries.  Right now there is a limited ability to see all the books within a given series which means that I could easily lose track of where I am, what book is next, or if there is even another book coming.  

 

Also, I would really love to see a small recommended section on the individual book pages that highlight similar titles.  That way, if I absolutely love a book and want to find something similar, I can just go to that book page and see what other BL users have read in that category.

 

Having no experience with website design or really being all that tech savvy I have no idea what it would take to develop a system like this.  I just figure, since we are all ultimately here because of the books, there should be a better system of finding new titles linked to previous reads.

 

Just my two cents.

Annabel
Annabel
Raven
Raven

So here are my kitties!

Get To Know Me!

1. Are you named after anyone?

 

Not really.  I was supposed to be a boy (Timothy James) but surprised everyone.  I was unnamed for my first five days until my mother saw the name of an actress in the credits for her favorite daytime soap opera.  And there is was Ashley Dee (middle name comes from my Mom as well, D for tax deduction is the running joke in the family!).


2. When was the last time you cried?

 

Memorial Day.  I lost a close friend in Iraq back in 2007 and seeing him all over Facebook in memorial posts just got to me.


3. Do you have kids? 

 

Nope.  But I have two fur-babies.  Annabel and Raven, both eight week old kitties.


4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?

 

I should like to think so.  I think I am pretty likable but I am also quite shy so meeting new people has always been tough.


5. Do you use sarcasm a lot?

 

Generally no, but under the right circumstances it can happen.  I tend to be more straight forward.  If I get sarcastic it is usually because I am really annoyed.


6. Will you ever bungee-jump?

 

The jury is out.  I don't know if I can trust my life to a giant rubber band but if you get me drunk enough it's possible.


7. What’s your favorite cereal?

 

Cap't Crunch WITH berries.  Just doesn't make sense without the berries.


8. What’s the first thing you notice about people?

 

Their eyes or smile.  That can tell you a lot about a person.


9. What is your eye color?

 

Blue


10. Scary movie or happy endings?

 

Scary movie, definitely


11. Favorite smells?

 

Grass just after it rains.  Smell of a home-cooked meal.


12. Summer or winter?

 

Summer.


13. Computer or television?

 

Computer most days.  But with Netflix it's all really the same now.


14. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

 

I traveled to Japan in 2005.  It was an awesome experience.  I hope to travel more in the coming years as well.


15. Do you have any special talents?

 

I'm told I can sing.


16. Where were you born?

 

Tacoma, Washington (the state, not DC)


17. What are your hobbies?

 

Reading (duh), cooking, photography


18. Do you have any pets?

 

Annabel and Raven


19. Favorite movie?

 

Boondock Saints with Willem Dafoe, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly, Sean Patrick Flanery, and David Della Rocco


20. Do you have any siblings?

 

Older sister, Tiana.  Younger sister, Elizabeth.  Two step-brothers CJ and Danny. 


21. What do you want to be when you grow up?

 

I'll let you know when I figure that out.

Hook's Pan

Hook's Pan - Marie Hall

This was a great addition to the Kingdom series.  I love these books because they are retelling classic fairy tales in a fun way.  Rather than just retelling the story we know the perspective is changed and the focus is on the bad boys.  It is new enough for a romance to focus on the male lead but to also be wrapped around notorious villains is just awesome-sauce.

 

As with the previous entries in the series this was a light, quick read.  Perfect for a summer afternoon poolside.  However, this was especially fun for me because of how the Peter Pan character was written.  He has never been one of my favorites, always felt like a spoiled brat that needed a good ass whooping to me.  And this played right into my dislike of Pan while building a solidly cool Hook.

 

This is the end of the Bad Five but Marie Hall has continued on with the series to include other villains.  I am looking forward to the next one!

Rook

Rook - Sharon Cameron

So.....I really wanted to like this.....but it just wasn't for me.

 

None of the characters came to life for me.  I DNF'd at about 30% through.  

 

The whole thing felt forced.  There was no chemistry for me between any of the characters.  More to my irritation, the love triangle was far too prominent in the plot rather than focusing on the individual characters and growing the suspense.  I understand that most YA books are going to have some triangle but most are done in the background rather than being front-and-center.  This one just took over the whole book.

 

Even the villain, which will normally keep me interested, was boring for me.  There was no real drama and at that 30% mark I just didn't care where this was headed or what happened to anyone.  

 

The main character really killed this for me too.  She is supposedly this awesome rebel that has enough skills to break people out of a prison but she was so stupid most of the time.  You can't be an awesome revolutionary and be that dumb, be that much of a follower, all at the same time.  It just doesn't line up for me and left me wondering why she was even in the book.

Golden Son

Golden Son - Pierce Brown

Damn.

 

That was the only word I could form immediately after finishing this.  I knew going in from Red Rising that this was not typical YA fare.  But after Golden Son I am not sure that this is properly categorized as YA at all.


This is dark and gritty.  It is a true exploration of the human condition and the cruelties we heap upon each other.  And it is fantastic.

 

Darrow continues his journey throughout warfare and finding love and meaning in a world that is not his own.  He gains a truer understanding of humanity by recognizing the subtleties within a personality and acknowledging the flaws of each person.

 

This is a fantastic book, but maybe not for the lighthearted crowd.  This follows closely with the themes of Red Rising and ups the holy-crap factor significantly.  The ending just blew me away and now I am desperate to continue the series.

 

Some reviews I have read stated that the plot got bogged down or that they had to set the book aside because of the darkness within but that was not the case for me.  This, to me, was a very accurate representation of the folly of mankind, all our weaknesses, all our petty ambitions.  

 

Pierce Brown is simply a master.