Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten MillerThe Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Series: The Eternal Ones #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 410
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

Thoughts: The Eternal Ones started off extremely well. It took an inherently cheesy stereotype (lovers through time), and made it not just entertaining but believable. The author gets rid of all the far-too-convenient logistics of having visions from a past life: they don’t start as a teen, but as a child; Haven doesn’t hide them from her family, because they result in violent outbursts; Haven doesn’t immediately think they’re real, because the entire town believes she’s possessed by the devil (that is, except the Penecostals up the road). It’s a brilliant idea: a young girl hated by Born Again Christians who was – literally – born again.

So, yeah. Everything started off well. Sure, the main character had a tendency to change her mind every few minutes, but hey, she had a traumatic childhood.

But then she ups and moves to New York to stalk a rich playboy, and the entire novel falls into a deep, dark well of I-can’t-believe-someone-wrote-this-crap terrible.

And to think, it started off so well.

The rest of the book revolves around Haven going back and forth between being completely and utterly in love with Ethan/Iain (the aforementioned playboy), and being convinced that he is a lying, murdering, cheating ass. Now, if you were to ask – say – any normal person, they would tell you that these two beliefs cannot exist simultaneously. If you believe the man you met two days before is out to kill you, then you do not decide to sleep with him “one last time”. You wouldn’t be convinced by a couple of well-delivered excuses and you sure as hell wouldn’t stay in his house. Or, if you are certain that the world is just trying to frame the man you love for crimes he never committed, then you don’t go around taking the word of a stranger over his!

Over a 20-page period, Haven went from convinced Ethan/Iain was trying to kill her, then back to believing that he was her eternal soulmate who would never lie to her, until finally deciding that, actually, she might have fallen in love with the wrong guy. Seriously? Seriously?

While Haven’s flip-flopping emotions were my biggest issue with this book, there were a whole bunch of other problems in it. The underlying “mystery” was an flat as a pancake (not to mention, completely illogical), the secondary characters were 10 kinds of stereotypical, and the villain was utterly deranged (but not in that cool, Disney!villain sort of way).

Bottom line? Don’t read this – the illogic will hurt your brain.

Review – The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Bookdepository / Amazon UK / Amazon US
Librarything / Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult 

Rating: 2/5 stars
Pages: 280

Summary: “I can steal anything.”

After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task — to steal a hidden treasure from another land.

To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

Thoughts: The Thief was an such disappointment.

Ok, ok. I know it is practically sacrilegious to criticize Megan Whalen Turner in the YA community – but I honestly didn’t enjoy this book.  Despite being well crafted, I simply couldn’t engage with the characters or the plot.

At heart, The Thief is a road film: an all-male cast makes their way against the odds, through dangerous, unwelcoming lands, in search of a too-good-to-be-true mythical item.  It is all rather long-winded – and frankly, quite boring.  The quest goes on pretty much as you imagine up until the last dozen pages, where we reach a rather surprising twist in the tale.  Hell, you might as well skip the middle.

Now, while I found the twist unexpected and rather good at explaining why the hell the ludicrously selfish Gen would allow himself to go along on this bizarre mission, I also had some issues with it.  The noblemen that take Gen out of prison are rather evil.  Ok, maybe not evil, but certainly selfish and egotistical.  They considered themselves above Gen because of their supposedly superior birth-right.  Gen was born scum, and he will always be scum – no matter how intelligent or talented he is.

*SPOILERS* I had thought that, at the very least, Turner was proving that Gen could be a hero despite his low-birth.  But the ending completely stripped that away!  Instead, he was a secret nobleman – which made all of his trickery against them acceptable.  Instead of threatening to kill him for his deception – they laughed it off as “a good one”.  I felt like I was watching Mad Men – the black man gets fired for stealing a pencil, while the white man gets a pat on the back for so successfully tricking the company out of thousands.

I am certain that a lot of people will not notice this when they read The Thief – after all, it is fantasy and fictional universes are allowed to have as many social inequalities as they like.  However, I felt that Turner wasted an opportunity with Gen and it honestly unnerved me.  *END OF SPOILERS*

But even before the uncomfortable ending, I wasn’t enjoying The Thief.  There wasn’t a single character I liked, the universe was rather stale, and the writing – although perfectly fine – was not enough to keep me hooked.

Bottom line?  Decent enough, but I’d give it a miss.  Keep your money and buy a latte.

Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn DolamoreMagic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Series: Magic Under #1
Published by Bloomsbury on 2010-08-28
Pages: 256
Genres: Fantasy YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.Look out for the follow-up to this book, Magic Under Stone, out next year!

Thoughts: I was really disappointed with Magic Under Glass. It had been on my wishlist for so long, and when I got a copy I was really eager to dive in.

There was just so much I wanted to love – an interesting, fantastical world filled with magic, faeries and complex social divisions.   Unfortunately, there is nothing here that is all that special.  The universe is basically Regency England with faery foreigners and a bit of magic thrown in for the hell of it.

And the characters? Extremely one-dimensional.  Leading lady Nimira felt more like a plot tool than an actual character – moving from scene to scene for the sake of it.  Her love interest, Erris, was as mechanical as his automaton exterior – and needless to say their “tragic” love felt forced and unrealistic.

Magic Under Glass was supposed to be a lovely wholewheat-brown-bread guaranteed good read.  But it was the literary equivalent of white bread.  Very disappointing.

Bottom line? Magic Under Glass is an old-school faery tale – lots of plot, no character.  I didn’t think it was a bad book, it was a bland book.

Review – Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #1) by Diana Rowland

Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #1) by Diana Rowland
Bookdepository / Amazon US / Amazon UK
Librarything / Goodreads

Rating: 2 stars
Pages: 370

Summary: Cop and conjurer of demons, she’s a woman in danger of losing control—to a power that could kill….

Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives—and souls—of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.

Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head…

Thoughts: This was not the book for me.

Although an interesting mix of paranormal and procedural crime fiction – I could not get into Mark of the Demon.  There was, literally, not a single character that I actually liked.  There was a lot of show-no-tell when it came to the heroine – we had to sit through her telling people that she “gave a shit” about the victims about 30 times… *groan*  Not to mention she was dull as hell.  Even the hero – who I  can usually appreciate in any circumstance – was pretty boring.

I suppose the ending had one hell of a twist – but, frankly, I was barely paying attention by this point.  The Louisiana setting nearly saved the book… but ultimately failed.  Despite the constant references to the heat, bugs and Katrina – I felt like this book could have been set anywhere.

Diana Rowland is not a bad writer – but I just don’t think she is a writer for me.  I could, however, appreciate well the book was crafted from beginning to end.  With some writers *cough*Stephenie Meyer*cough* you can tell that they have no idea where they are going – Rowland is not one of these.

Bottom line?  This was not my kind of book.  But if you are looking for a twist on your standard crime novel, you might as well give this a shot.