Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chloe by Lyn Cote

Chloe Kimball is the pampered but unloved daughter of wealthy parents who looks for a way to break away from her parents who see her as nothing more than something to decorate their home. After meeting him for only a day, Chloe takes advantage of a marriage proposal to run away from home and start her own life in the chaotic life of the late teens and early twenties in New York. Leaving behind her old life and a friend who also proposed marriage, Chloe starts her own career and has a child, yet life continues to be a disappointment for her as he struggles to bond to her daughter and feels like a failure as a wife and mother. Taking up campaigning for her father she crosses paths with her old friend who has come home from the war with scars and refuses to talk to her any more. When the stock market crash comes, Chloe is left needing to sort her life out and find out where she belongs.

Genre: historical

Rating: 2/5

Ugh, I had so many problems with this book. I mainly finished it because the author actually is a fairly talented writer, but the main character is SO spineless I found it hard to have any sympathy for her. I suppose I could argue that this character type just doesn't "speak" to me, but she literally spent most of the book refusing to make choices and then berating herself for not making choices. She occasionally tries to take a stand on something, such as looking after her daughter, then immediately backs down when her obnoxious, over bearing shrew of a mother takes over and pretty much condemns Chloe for being a bad mother (because her mother would know, being a drunk who foisted her off on her grandmother when Chloe was growing up). She gets duped by her father again and again as he sees her as nothing more than a political pawn to be used accordingly. It's just hard to like a character who allows herself to be treated as a doormat, then is upset that she's treated like a doormat, THEN has other characters telling her how strong she is when SHE'S NOT.

And then there's Roarke, Chloe's love interest who, because the author wants to keep his reasoning for being hateful and bitter a secret until the end, is REALLY unlikable for most of the book because you don't understand his reasoning. He's just unpleasant and hateful to everyone and while he has reasons, they're literally not revealed until the last pages, making him obnoxious and unsympathetic for most of the book. The book itself was very readable, but the characters were just completely unsympathetic.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Brides of Eden by Linda Crew

Rural Oregon in 1903 does not seem the place where something as strange as a doomsday cult would happen, but that's before charismatic preacher Franz Edmund Creffield changes his name to Joshua and claims he is the second coming of Christ. His outrageous claims are bought into by many of the women in Corville and his strange message soon has his followers looked on with fear and anger in the town. As Joshua makes more demands of his followers, teenager Eva Mae finds herself torn between wanting to please Joshua and her overly pious sister and staying with her kind father. She's soon confused and swept up in events that spiral out of control and unsettle an entire community.

Genre: historical

Rating: 4/5

A YA novel based entirely on a turn of the century doomsday cult seems like an odd thing to find, but this book ended up being extremely fascinating. Eva Mae's confusion over her family and her own actions is entirely believable and she becomes very sympathetic, even if to the outside observer her actions are extremely frustrating as she keeps being seduced back into the cult. What is most interesting about this book is how modern cult leaders haven't changed from Joshua and his methods. He slowly separates the women from their families, doesn't allow them to interpret Scriptures for themselves, takes advantage of them sexually which in Eva Mae's case causes her to become even more confused and afraid to tell anyone. The book also has the benefit of having actual pictures from the town and primary sources sprinkled through it, as this was an actual event that the author researched. Overall a startlingly good book about a rather obscure topic.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Years after the zombie virus plague, Josh is an avid gamer who participates in virtual reality games that involve hunting down and torching zombies. Despite his parents' disapproval, he plays secretly and meets Charlie, a talented female gamer who introduces him to a group that plays the game in real life. Josh starts to wonder just how real the game is though as he gets more involved in a shady underworld and is introduced to a drug called "Z". Pretty soon Josh realizes he's in over his head and perhaps the zombie plague isn't quite as dead as he'd been led to believe.

Genre: fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

Considering the outpouring of zombie fiction lately, there's a lot of crap. Thankfully this one was actually a pretty good novel mainly because it wasn't really a zombie novel per se. This is a world forged after a zombie apocalypse (which is really more like a rage virus than actual rising of the dead) and the threat is from people, not really zombies in most cases. This book works more like a thriller than actual horror and while it's sort of sketchy in places, it would be enjoyable for just about any reader who likes action even if they don't like zombies. My main complaint is that Charlie sort of turned into a simpering female who needed saving in the end, which seemed out of character for a girl who had been so tough up to that point.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview

Trouble abounds for Georgiana Darcy when her lively cousin Clarissa comes to live with the family in England. Completely disregarding conventional society rules, Clarissa flirts and charms her way through society, leaving Georgiana in awe and wanting to copy her popular cousin. But as Georgiana starts to change to match Clarissa, she begins to wonder if maybe they're going too far and earns the attention of several men, some more deserving of her than others. Added to this is the curious case of Anne, who has completely disappeared from the domineering control of her mother, Lady Catherine.

Genre: historical

Rating: 4/5

I've read plenty of continuations of Pride and Prejudice, many of them not very good based on the fact they just feel like romance novels with the same characters. Fairview at least tries to keep with the original spirit of the characters, some with more success than others. The book itself has a strong enough plot line. The addition of other characters allows for more action than just leaving the same characters. Many of Bennetts are absent from the novel, as it focuses more on Darcy's extended family and focuses mainly on character that there was either little written about originally or original characters that the author can do what she wants with. This makes it a bit easier to buy into as a book and actually pretty enjoyable. The main complaints are that the book ends rather abruptly and the author makes the same mistake I've seen others make by having Elizabeth seem a bit more passive than she's originally written. I would expect Elizabeth to have a little more sass to her than the book allows. Other than that it is a pretty enjoyable book in its own right.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford

Lysander is a young helot slave in Sparta who finds that he is actually heir to a noble heritage. With his circumstances suddenly changed, he becomes a student at a training facility that will make him a Spartan warrior. Faced with prejudice and bullying, he questions just who he's loyal to, his Spartan background or his helot upbringing. In the midst of his struggles, he searches for a stone called the Fire of Ares that was stolen from him and connects him to his Spartan history.

Genre: historical

Rating: 4/5

Since 3o0, so often Spartans are shown in literature and movies as a group who was strong and warlike, but fair and noble. That is historically inaccurate. The Spartan culture was based entirely on being able to keep the number of slaves, who vastly outnumbered them, under control. Military training was mainly enforced out of fear of a slave uprising rather than drive for military excellence. This book does the service of telling the story from the point of a helot slave and being unflinching in its look at Spartan society. Yes there are a few nice Spartans, but overwhelmingly Lysander is confronted by prejudice and violence merely because he's a slave. The brutality of what Spartans demanded of their citizens is also shown. The plot was sometimes a bit contrived, but it maintained interest the whole way through and while the search for the missing stone felt a bit unnecessary, the book itself was extremely readable.