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EVER Super Review

To give the group a chance to read different books (and more frequently), the Super Reviewers are doing smaller, but still as super reviews on other books. One such review is this one. But the rules are still the same, where we:

  • share several points of views
  • use a handful of paragraphs
  • take down one big, bad book

Today we’re starting with a review of our very own Jessa Russo’s Ever.

Ever Cover RevealSeventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.
Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.
Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.
Some girls lose their hearts to love.
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

A word from the author Now, for the FUN: For the entire two months of the tour (March & April), I will have a Rafflecopter form on my website. I will be giving away two books to one winner (one signed paperback copy of EVER, along with a signed paperback copy of the coming sequel, EVADE).

Totally squee worthy, right? And considering the cliff you’ll be hanging off of at the end of this book, you’re going to want to enter her Rafflecopter (find the links below the review) as many times as possible to fix that “end of the book” blues with the sequel. It’s within your reach! Don’t miss out. Now, onto the reviews:

See what we think, and then see what you think. If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear swhat you think. Hell, if you haven’t and you think you might, you can share that, too.

Ray In the first few pages of Ever, I was already drawn in and held captive by the sheer emotional trauma and turmoil this MC was going through. In the author’s words I found a connection that made me actually feel what this person was going through. I mean, can you imagine loving someone for so long, having them ripped away from you, but then they are still THERE and keeping you from moving on? It’s like wanting to eat your mom’s cake while the pie your girlfriend baked is sitting there right beside it. You want one of them so bad because you know it’s amazing, yet to do so would devastate someone else. Sometimes you just have to choose though!

In this love story, we have Ever who has been in love with her next door neighbor, Frankie, for years. An accident claims his life, but something keeps him from moving on to the next world. In a cruel twist of fate, the ghost of Frankie lingers in Ever’s home. Maybe some would see this as a comforting thing, but for Ever it seems like it’s little less than torture. She still loves the dead boy, and at times it seems as though she’s also dead and trapped in that house, unable to move on.

Bright and shining light at the end of the tunnel? Cue Toby, the new guy next door. Ever’s immediate connection with him may seem a bit too sudden for some, but if you’re on a deserted island for a few years and a nice bottle of rum washes up, you don’t question. Sparks fly, feelings fall, and mysteries abound as she gets to know the new guy, then the new guy’s ex-girlfriend, who I actually liked. Something’s up with Toby, and though Ever seems to want to ignore that fact or pretend something isn’t wrong, it’s there and makes you wonder just who, or what, the hell this guy is.

Those of you with access to violence-inhibiting weapons just remember one thing once you reach the end of the novel: Book two is coming out soon. Book two is coming out soon. Book two is coming out soon. Just keep repeating that and you won’t want to kill the author for her cliffhanger-y ending!

Jalisa I always love a book that grabs your attention within the first few pages, one that piques your interest in a way that you have to satisfy your curiosity, no matter what. With a opening scene that features the ghostly love of a young woman’s life as a hang out buddy, Ever was that kind of book.

“Addictive”  would be the best description of Ever. With a mix of realistic dialogue and an effective situational understanding of teen drama , Russo weaves a tale that is just as believable as it is fantastic: a hard thing to achieve.

What I found most striking about the novel…well, hell, let me blunt. At times, the reading hitched on dialogue that, despite the ability to be fantastically realistic, was at other times stiff. But that was the only drawback. Everything else was so gripping, I nearly ignored four periods of students to sneak in snippets. I fell behind in grading. It was that kind of book. The mystery and the drama are just the thing that makes a YA book sizzle. The energy and heat that I look for in a YA book versus an adult read was all there. I couldn’t have asked for more.

I was really impressed by the fact that Ever was that it was set in a world nearly identical to ours with one pointed exception: not only could Ever see her lost love’s ghost, but so could her friend Jessie, and her parents, and everyone else (if he appeared). I don’t think I’ve ever come across a novel that included that, and it was a nice break from the main character falling into situation after situation of people misunderstanding their interactions with the ghostly presences.

I wish I could tell you more about the book, as its just as unique as it is a great read, but revealing any of it will ruin the fantastic kick that it provides.

If you like YA, if you like the supernatural, you are missing out if you pass on this book.

Read. It.

Links & Tour Info

LINKS:
SCHEDULE:
             3/4/2013…
Al’s Fair With Pen & Paper
             3/5/2013…
Love & Life & Learning
3/6/2013… The Quiet Concert
3/8/2013… Fiction for Foodies
3/11/2013… Amazing Books!
3/12/2013… Kate’s Book Life
3/13/2013… The Soul Sisters
3/14/2013… Ms. Nose in a Book
3/15/2013… My Library in the Making
3/18/2013… CM Albert Writes
3/19/2013… The Passionate Bookworm
3/20/2013… Literary, Etc
3/21/2013… Snuggling on the Sofa
3/22/2013… Starbreaker 
3/25/2013… Beach Kissed YA Books
3/26/2013… Girls PWN
3/27/2013… Larissa’s World
3/28/2013… Beauty and the Bookshelf
4/2/2013… Books for YA!
4/3/2013… YA-Aholic
4/4/2013… One Life Glory
4/6/2013… Alex Reviews & Interviews
4/8/2013… Loco for Libros
4/9/2013… Katie’s Stories
4/10/2013… The Worm Hole
4/11/2013… Pen & Muse
4/12/2013… Jolene Haley
4/13/2013… A Book Rapport, Not a Book Report
4/16/2013… Ink in the Book
4/17/2013… Paranormal Bookclub

EVER Review Tour Banner

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Iron Thorn Super Review

To give the group a chance to read different books (and more frequently), the Super Reviewers are doing smaller, but still as super reviews on other books. One such review is this one. But the rules are still the same, where we:

  • share several points of views
  • use a handful of paragraphs
  • take down one big, bad book

Today we’re starting with a review of Caitlin Kittredge’s Iron Thorn.

kittredge-caitlin-the-iron-thornIn the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft’s epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.
Aoife Grayson’s family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

See what we think, and then see what you think. If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear swhat you think. Hell, if you haven’t and you think you might, you can share that, too.

Reviews

Holly Iron Thorn is a really hard book for me to review. All the way through, I kept thinking I should be enjoying it, but wasn’t. It was only my third sample of steampunk, a genre for which I am still holding off judgement. I must admit that the world building was fantastic in a lot of ways. I liked the creature mythology, but struggled to feel comfortable with some of the alternate history aspects, which didn’t always seem to mesh well. This is probably my issue more than that of the book, but it made it difficult for me to relax into the tale. My biggest issue, however, lay with the characters.  I didn’t understand Aoife’s motivations, and found the relationship between her and her friend Cal really difficult. They both treated each other like crap. As for the love interest storyline: I couldn’t stand Dean. His nicknames for Aoife made me want to vom. “Princess” and “Kid” are not, I repeat NOT, sexy nicknames. No.

I won’t be reading the sequel.

 

Jalisa Iron Thorn was all around a pleasing read for me. It wasn’t one that I would rave about, as there was nothing particularly striking about it, but I enjoyed the read nonetheless. I thought that Aoife was interesting, if illogical and I liked her spirit, despite the misguidance it gave her actions. Kittredge painted a very visual world and I was happy to view it, as the details were very cinematic. Unfortunately, besides like Aoife, I wasn’t a big fan of any other character (and I wasn’t a big fan of Aoife’s either). Aoife’s partner in crime Cal was annoying from beginning to end and love interest Dean could have been any ol’ slick, patronizing guttersnipe (though I preferred him to the bumbling, inconsistent Cal).
The storyline was fine, though it didn’t leave much of an impression. I could easily forget about it, so I doubt I’ll pick up the second book, either, but I am a fan of the concepts of steampunk and unlike some other reads I’ve attempted, this was easy to read and at the time of reading wasn’t dull. I figure many of my middle school students would enjoy it quite a bit, though it would leave most adult readers feeling a little…unsatisfied.

Divergent Super Review

To give the group a chance to read different books (and more frequently), the Super Reviewers are doing smaller, but still as super reviews on other books. One such review is this one. But the rules are still the same, where we:

  • share several points of views
  • use a handful of paragraphs
  • take down one big, bad book

Today we’re starting with a review of Veronica Roth’s Divergent.

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

See what we think, and then see what you think. If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear swhat you think. Hell, if you haven’t and you think you might, you can share that, too.

Reviews

Holly Addictive is the best way to describe Divergent. I read it in one day, glued to Veronica Roth’s tale like a desperate crack addict glued to the trail of her next hit.

Roth’s characterisations are, perhaps, overly simplistic, but the heroine Tris is far less annoying than most young adult heroines, so I’m choosing to ignore any lack of depth. The romance story is quite predictable, but not in a bad way. Tris’ love interest is the most interesting of the characters, and I hope to see his background fleshed out more in the sequel. I loved the dynamic between him and Tris, who both alternate between moments of strength and vulnerability, and care and protection of each other as the story progresses.

Roth doesn’t get too caught up in setting descriptions, yet while I’ve never been to Chicago, I now have a perfect image of what it will look like in the future, should the premise of Divergent come to pass. The action and pace was brilliant. Usually I struggle reading stories in the present tense, but Roth carried it flawlessly and proved that, when done well, writing this way really can pull the reader right into the action.

The premise of the story initially takes some suspension of disbelief, but soon becomes an interesting extension and discussion of the way society insists on boxing and categorising individuals. The story becomes a lovely refusal to accept such categories, a call to individuality, and an acceptance of difference. Weirdly, however, this acceptance of difference extends to the story’s metaphorical categorisations only. In a contemporary sense, the characterisations within Divergent are very mainstream. The idea that people should be praised for individuality or difference does not extend to any real or significant concepts outside the dystopian premise. While I love the discussion created by Roth, had it been followed through a little further, I believe this book could have been truly amazing. Equally, I find it a little strange that it didn’t go that bit further. It would have been so simple, and made so much more sense.

Certainly, Divergent could have been a whole lot better, it could have been totally awesome. But criticisms aside, Divergent is still the most exciting and enjoyable Young Adult fiction novel I’ve read in a long while. I freakin’ loved it.

Jalisa Upon first picking up Divergent, I was struck by the familiarity of the novel as far other YAs springing out from publishers these days, because let’s face it: dystopians are in. But as Marta Acosta (author of DARK COMPANION) pointed out, we’re getting a lot of broken societies without a lot of explanation as to why they are broken, or how they got that way.Unfortunately Divergent doesn’t really break from the pack in that respect.We get some vague explanation as to unrest and perhaps war in this society and then as a result the factions we learn about throughout the book, but there’s no solid line from point A to point B.

And while Divergent doesn’t do that, Roth does do a great job of creating an interesting world for us to visit, even if it’s not terribly detailed. Her characters are worth caring for, though they’re not overly intricate, and Tris—the main character—is not the typical vapid heroine twisting in the wind and waiting for circumstance to work her way. No, Tris’ problem is that she doesn’t know when to back down, even if her life is in danger. But I loved that about her. I could and did root for her throughout the entire novel.

I loved (and re-read and simpered over) her chemistry with Four, main love interest. It had all the spark and awkwardness all first, exciting loves have and I enjoyed following along, though we knew at the end of the day they would end up together. I loved that Roth broke the book up into the stages of choosing and joining a faction, and while I thought the book was overly long for its content, I didn’t mind staying longer in this world. I thought it was nice to see Roth toy with the idea of what makes a good society and that it much of it comes down to the individual; I hope to see her go deeper into this throughout the series.

The ending seemed a bit abrupt, but I’ll be happy to pick up the second book when I get a moment. A great YA read—I recommend to teens and adults alike.

Night Circus Super Review

Time for an overdue (but still awesome), round three of the Super Review, where we:

  • share several points of views
  • use a handful of paragraphs
  • take down one big, bad book

Our third review: Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

See what we think, and then see what you think. If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear what you think. Hell, if you haven’t and you think you might, you can share that, too.

Reviews

Holly The Night Circus is one of those rare books that manages to create such beautiful imagery that the text of the story becomes a fully conceptualised painting in the reader’s mind. The visual imaginings of Morgenstern are simply magnificent, and, more importantly, she wonderfully draws the reader into her visions. The fairytale style plot carries these textual apparitions perfectly, creating the sense that the reader is magically drawn into the other world of the story through Morgenstern’s descriptions. Unfortunately, this is where the magic ends. The structure of The Night Circus feels more like a collection of short stories than any cohesive plot, and while some cohesion is desperately drawn together at the end, it remains an uneasy read. There are too many characters for any to be developed truly with any satisfaction. Furthermore, the majority of the characters are… frustrating.The Night Circus is a story of self-indulgent adults playing at being children with deadly consequences, while the children pay the price and pick up the pieces.

JalisaNight Circus is a like a textile, artfully woven by Morgenstern into some sort of visual wetdream that is a mix between a carefully interlaced tapestry and painstakingly needled quilt. And like a quilt, it is made of patches; these patches are snippets of carefully chosen people’s lives, some fantastical, some not, that come together to create the perception of a world where the Night Circus operates as a hidden, though psychically felt undercurrent. And that was pretty effin’ cool, except for the fact that I kept waiting to learn more about these carefully chosen people, for the layers to be pulled back, because as written, it seemed that there could be so much more to everyone. It never happened.

I’m sure that’s a symptom of Morgenstern’s style, structure and menagerie of characters. This trio makes for an enjoyable read, though it leaves one feeling as if something is lacking. That lack is depth. I’m not sure if there were any greater ideas or messages to the entire novel besides that people are self-concerned and manipulative to a fault when given the tools. And as I couldn’t grow to truly care about any character, due to lack of exploration; and I couldn’t get a great sense of much about the world, or its people, I wasn’t entirely engaged or involved.

did love reading the book and would recommend it to anyone who loves vibrant texts.

 

Learn more about the novel by clicking on the title above! Now, what do you think?

Faerie Tale Super Review

Time for a long awaited, round two of the Super Review, where we:

  • share several points of views
  • use a handful of paragraphs
  • take down one big, bad book

Our second review: Raymond Feist’s Faerie Tale.

The town records have it listed as Erl King Hill – ‘Hill of the Elf King’. To the locals it is known simply as the old Kessler Place. A great ramshackle house, it stands among deep woods, full of memories and myth. There are strange stories about the old place: talk of haunted woods, strange lights that dance like fire, buried treasure and lost children, now long forgotten. But for the Hastings Family, Gloria and Philip, and their eight-year -old twins, Sean and Patrick, and Philip’s teenage daughter, Gabrielle, it is the stuff of dreams. They are looking for a fresh start and they think they have found it – until the day Sean and Patrick discover the secret of Fairy Woods and the luminous elfin beings who lure them into an unearthly world of ancient Celtic magic. Suddenly, what was a dream has become a terrifying nightmare. For those entrancing sprites are in reality demons determined to possess the children’s very souls!

See what we think, and then see what you think. If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear what you think. Hell, if you haven’t and you think you might, you can share that, too.

Reviews

Holly I’m sorry to say that Faerie Tale bored me to tears. I wasn’t literally curled up on the floor, sobbing into my arms from shear lack of interest, but it was a near thing. I kept thinking the story should appeal to me. The plot had so much potential, but I couldn’t care less about any of the characters. The narrative was well written in terms of grammar etc, but there was no edge, no action, and no voice – not no appealing voice, just no voice. I was also very confused by the depiction of childhood… maybe this is an 80s generation gap issue. The only time I became endeared to the text was through my 12 year old mind’s response to language such as “intercourse”. It made me laugh, but I don’t think that’s a good thing in this particular case.

Nanette Faerie Tale held a mysteriously magical world. Feist created a sense of fear, lust, love & down right magic. I’ve not read any of his work prior to this, but as I’ve searched for more of his work, seems magic & folk lore are his thing. The tales that swarm through this tale are gripping. Creating twists and unexpected out comes. The characters held my interest, for each opened up a new view of what the plot would uncover at each turn. I stayed intrigued with the story throughout and learned to listen to the trees if I’m ever in a forest. My only squabble is the lack of periods. (.) Feist writes very long sentences. And if could be his writing style. So I succumbed to the run on use of over explanation, and learned to appreciate the vision he created in my head. Overall I’d give Faerie Tale a 3.75 star rating. Just enough that I may read more of his work.

Jessa My first impression of FAERIE TALE? The cover art scared the beejeezus out of me. Unfortunately, what was scary about the inside of the book wasn’t the story, but the actual writing. I couldn’t get past the choppy, run-on sentence structure, the use of single quoted dialogue (ack!), or the poor and often random character development. I made it to page 42 and gave up. I already loathed the mother’s character, and couldn’t see that changing (save for a miracle and a complete turn-around in her whiny attitude). I hate not finishing a book. Hate it. But I just couldn’t force myself to get through FAERIE TALE. Out of curiosity, I went online to read reviews and was surprised to see so many gave stellar ratings toFAERIE TALE. I was scratching my head in confusion. However, there were also a large amount of reviewers that said you just had to get through the first 1/4 of the book. Well, I have far too many books on my TBR list to dredge through a painfully boring first 1/4 of a book that may or may not live up to my expectations. It just wasn’t worth it to me.

Jalisa While I didn’t start crying as Holly did, I did have the odd impulse to slam my hand in a door when I first started Faerie Tale. I understand that many books take a while to get into the meat of the story, but I don’t think that should apply to hooking or engaging the reader and that is certainly what happened. While well-written Feist employs a style that is whistle-clean of…well, personality. I enjoyed the tale and was finally interested in the unfolding the story many chapters in, but I had no connection to any character and my interest eventually waned in response to slow narrative. It was a struggle to complete and I couldn’t explain to anyone why I did besides sheer determination. But I’d recommend to diehard fans of Stephen King who have run out of options. But try Koontz first.

So, what do you think?

***

Note: Reviews will be added as they come for here on out. All the Reviewers have busy lives, but we’re all committed to sharing the book experience–no matter how long it takes!

Learn more about Raymond Feist at his site here–where you can interviews and book previews!

Blackbirds Super Review

It’s finally here! You know, the super review:

  • several points of views
  • a handful of paragraphs
  • one big, bad book that’s totally going down

Our first review: Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds.

See what we think, and then see what you think. If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear what you think. Hell, if you haven’t and you think you might, you can share that, too.

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

Reviews

Anthony I thoroughly enjoyed Blackbirds, but would have a hard time recommending it to many people. The story was well told and was a fast, engaging read, but parts of it felt clunky and clichéd. The main character, Miriam Black, is an understandably screwed up person. As the story unfolds and we find out about her past and what she can do we understand why she is the way she is and does what she does. What made no sense for me was how she became such a proficient fighter, I honestly thought she had super powers in the beginning of the story, but alas, it’s never explained. The characters seem to be your run-of-the-mill people: creepy looking psychotic bad guy, efficient and emotionless thugs, good looking bad boy, etc. Throw in some seedy motels, bar fights, and greasy diners and you’ve got the setting of most gritty independent movies ever made. Chuck Wendig does a good job at explaining some of this however. He gives you back story on almost every character in the book and you understand why they are the way they are. Mr. Wendig is also very over-the-top when it comes to swearing and a lot of it doesn’t work. At times it feels like a child stringing obscenities together simply to see how vulgar he can be. I understand that the swearing was meant to convey a sense of gritty realism to the story, but some of it just felt forced. I did enjoy the story immensely and found the opening of the book hooked me instantly. It was well told from beginning to end, had a nice fluid flow to it, and had me turning pages just to see what would happen next. Although I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone, I would recommend it to fellow book nerds because it was fun despite it’s few shortcomings.

Holly So where do I land on Blackbirds, or as I like to think of it: Fate versus Miriam’s Vagina? I really loved Miriam’s character and enjoyed Louis as a love interest. However, so much held me back from enjoying the actual story. I’m often irritated when authors overuse fate as a plot device, without considering its meaning, but I was fascinated by Wendig’s treatment of fate as an essential part of Miriam’s characterisation. Her feeling that she had no control over her life was amplified by her belief in the inevitability of fate in death. Unfortunately, as the story progressed I became uncomfortable by what being in control seemed to mean. Miriam is pretty kick-ass in the beginning, but she is also a character who simply responds to her surroundings. In attempting to fight fate, we might have assumed she would gain independence; her kick-assity magnified by freedom from fate’s control. Instead, she becomes dependent on a new idea of what fate might mean. Worse, we realise that fighting fate comes hand in hand a limitation in the sexual freedom we see expressed by Miriam in the beginning. Consider me bothered.

Jessa First, I must say that I adore the heck out of Chuck Wendig. He cusses like a drunken pirate and still manages to come across as both witty and intelligent. That said, I may have put him on a bit of a pedestal. I expected BLACKBIRDS to knock my socks off. It did not. It took me a minute to get into, and then I only liked it. I struggled to connect to Miriam. Sure, she’s badass and crazy, and I love that about her, but I had a hard time relating to her. I want to walk in the shoes of a main character, to feel her feelings and share her story. I could not do this in BLACKBIRDS. As for the character relationships, I thought Louis came across as more of a father figure than a love interest. I was left scratching my head, uneasy over Wendig’s intention to bring these two together. Furthermore, I was hoping for more to come with Ashley and Miriam, because as screwed up as he was, Ashley was a love interest I could have expected and understood. Though Wendig weaves a good story, I felt disconnected throughout, and BLACKBIRDS left me wanting.

Jalisa When I started reading Blackbirds, I couldn’t put it down. It’s got that train wreck appeal that just makes it impossible to look away from. While there were a few questions in the way of believability/explanation in the category of Miriam’s relationships and identity, none of them got in the way of me enjoying the story. It’s vulgar to the point that some plot happenings are cringe-worthy, but I think that’s just a part of the make-up of the novel, its public face, if you will. Deep down, I think the book touches on, if not purposefully, then subconsciously, a couple of shitastic norms in society that happened to make Miriam the character even possible: a misplaced sense of female, sexual propriety and that a woman’s best way of expressing freedom/control is through her sexuality. This last one seems especially likely with Miriam’s abstaining from sex with Louis—as if her choice of him would mean less if they did boink. Not true.

But if you’re reading Blackbirds the same way you watch an action flick, you’ll love it. And I did. I’d re-read just for the action scenes.

Ray “Ride me hard and put me away wet.”

In many ways, this is how I felt about Blackbirds. I was drawn in within the first few pages, and expected to not come up for air for ATLEAST a week. Everything was there, a big fat hook that snagged my jaw and set me to salivating. But… sooner than I thought, a few things appeared that made me set the book down for a bit, and made it somewhat hard for me to pick it back up. The main character reminded me right off the bat of a bounty hunter from a movie a few years back, which wasn’t a bad thing since I enjoyed the flick, but when I met the truck driver, my train got derailed. Don’t get me wrong, even from that point on I found some enjoyable, and memorable, moments, but it was never quite the same. Maybe it’s because I drive a truck, or maybe it’s because I’m a nice guy that wouldn’t try to pick up a drowned rat of a girl that looks like what my cat threw up last night. Either way, it was an entertaining read, I’m just not sure if it entertained me in the way it was meant to.

Nanette So, Blackbirds. Did I connect to this story? No. Is it a story I loved? No. I liked the book. LIKED! Though Miriam is a character who shows minor strength, I wasn’t willing to commit to her as a whole. Louis, well….yeah, he was a descent distraction. It took me longer to get through the book than I’m willing to admit. Setting it down on more than one occasion, but I powered through it because there are parts that hook you just when you’re about to give up. I just don’t feel like the book in a whole flowed as a page turner.

So, what do you think?

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Learn more about Blackbirds and Chuck Wendig at his site here.

Little Birds/A Few Loose Ends Review

Since Anthony found Little Fiction, we’ve both been really interested in reading and reviewing a few pieces. So we did! Little Fiction is site that publishes short stories with dedicated covers the first Wednesday of every month, normally two stories at a time. Learn more about them on their About page.

Today we’re looking at “Little Birds” by Sarah Flynn and “A Few Loose Ends” by M.W. Fowler.

Little Birds by Sarah Flynn

Anthony: Little Birds by Sarah Flynn is a collection of three very short stories. All three are different and unique, but after reading all of them you can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some common thread that you’re missing. This book was my first exposure to Little Fiction and my initial thoughts on the whole thing were forgettable, but the stories stuck with me. A few days later I was still thinking about them and have since re-read the book several times. They’re beautiful in their simplicity, they don’t force you into a story, but rather give you the main points and let you draw your own world with them. I still am not entirely sure if I understand what Sarah wrote, but the beauty of her words, almost like poetry, are what stick with me. Little Birds is a wonderful introduction to a talented writer and an equally wonderful website. 

J.M.: I spent a large portion of reading “Little Birds” seeking out the underlying meaning.  I thought that there must be a connection, a lasting theme or thought that’s placed there for me to chew on. But to be honest, I didn’t find it. It was enjoyable writing with interesting details, style and deliberation, but unless the message is we’re all miserable and make it worse on ourselves, I missed it. And without a discernible theme, Sarah Flynn’s set of stories fall a little flat. I think they would have done better if they were completely separate, since as stand alone shorts, they’re wonderful.

A Few Loose Ends by M.W. Fowler

Anthony:  Loose Ends by M.W. Fowler is a fascinating story of a woman looking for love and ultimately being able to nearly choose her dream man. The stories I’ve read from Little Fiction have all been wonderfully creative and imaginative, something I feel most modern and popular novels lack, and Loose Ends fits in perfectly. Sometimes a little rough and unpolished in his story telling, M.W. Fowler takes us on a woman’s desperate and slightly creepy journey to find the man of her dreams. Reminiscent of the movie May, Fowler crafts a unique and intriguing story even though some parts seem awkwardly worded and others virtually unnecessary. The flaws in the story, few though they are, do not detract from a fun and interesting story worth reading. 

J.M.: I couldn’t stop reading “A Few Loose Ends” once I started. The desperate, almost frantic emotions of the  main character were impossible to look away from. I saw in this frazzled woman a little bit of each woman. The familiarity boxed in such a fantastic and in its own way, chilling story is an enjoyable read. The details seem realistic, as I think these are all the things woman in her state of mind would focus on and the style is entrancing. M.W. Fowler paints an interesting story with what could be a handful of underlying messages. But what I got from it? You can nitpick all you want. No one will ever be perfect and you’re going to have to work for it. Prick your finger a few…dozen times. 

Read the full stories on Little Fiction. What did you think?

-Anthony & J.M.