True to the Highlander (The Novels of Loch Moigh) by Barbara Longley

Hey guys. It's been so long. Now, I have to say, originally, this was going to be a bookwin! And then I wrote my review... But first, let's get the synopsis out of the way huh? I copied and pasted from Amazon for a reason.

"Treachery rules the Highlands of 1423. With their king captured by the English, Scottish nobles plot to ransom James behind the back of the brutal regent holding their land in his iron grip. But not every clan wishes to see King James back on his throne…

Sitting atop this powder keg of bloodthirsty rivalries, Malcolm of clan MacKintosh takes the mysterious, lone maiden he finds along his road as a bad omen…though an undeniably beautiful one. When he attempts to save her from a rogue within his own garrison, she deftly brings Malcolm to his knees. Who is this willful lass who has so quickly laid siege to his heart?

Alethia Goodsky has met all kinds working at the New York Renaissance Festival, but no one like the fortune-teller who tasks her with a cryptic life-saving mission and flings her into the fifteenth century. Now Alethia must rely on her wits to unravel the mystery in this violent land. Malcolm has sworn to protect her, but her gifts may soon make her his protector. With enemies closing in, Alethia must choose between finding a way home…and remaining true to her Highlander."

Although the synopsis should really read:
"Malcolm of clan MacKintosh takes the mysterious, lone maiden he finds along his road as a bad omen…though an undeniably beautiful one. She deftly brings Malcolm to his knees. Who is this willful lass who has so quickly laid siege to his heart?

Alethia Goodsky has met all kinds working at the New York Renaissance Festival, but no one like the fortune-teller who tasks her with a cryptic life-saving mission and flings her into the fifteenth century. Now Alethia must rely on her wits to unravel the mystery in this violent land. Malcolm has sworn to protect her. Alethia must choose between finding a way home…and remaining true to her Highlander."
Everything else is pretty much irrelevant.
Collapse )Non Spoiler Review: I give this book a 1 out of 5 (Can you believe I was originally going to give this 3 stars? It slowly went down the longer my spoiler review got). EDIT: I've finally figured out the quick list of fails.

Do NOT read this book unless you don't mind... Historical inaccuracies. A female protagonist who is a walking contradiction. She may have started out almost three dimensional, only to fall into a hole and emerge a Mary Sue. The "romantic" lead male being a bully and abuser (although not physical definitely mental). Who clearly only wants the protagonist for her body over anything else.  Background characters being more interesting than the main characters. Using attempted rape to establish who the "bad guy". Having one dimensional bad guys who end up being used as plot devices to just make the book longer than anything else. Having a hearing impaired character learn and grow into an interesting character only to have all that progress be for nothing in the end. Deus Ex Machina fairy who is also a walking contradiction and ableist. And implied future incest. I don't care if the boy is adopted. He's still their son! It's incest!

Where Are You Now?, by Mary Higgins Clark

Even if I could ignore that the writing of this book was so repetitive that I was able to skip half the book and still follow the revelations at the end, I can't ignore that it contained both the most amazing and worst police work I have ever seen in a book.

The amazing: In NYC, they have noticed they have a serial killer around despite not finding any bodies and the killer only having struck four times in ten years, from different locations, with several years in between the crimes.

The worst: They have lots of surveillance footage, but don't seem to have ever looked really carefully through it looking for any other faces in common, other than the main character's missing brother.
Spikes lesson

The Crystal Singer & Killashandra by Anne McCaffrey

Bloody Hell.

I knew I shouldn't have been attempting to read anything by Anne McCaffrey even before I turned past the front page on The Crystal Singer.. I used to love her Pern/Dragon books as a teenager and still harbor some love for her Tower and Hive series, not to mention The Ship Who Sang series but really, upon re-reading the Pern books, my love for her has gone out the window. Why? Easy. Bossy dragon riders with wimpy overly dramatic dragons that commit suicide on a whim in a sexist society that thinks its unbecoming for a woman to aspire to be a musician or whatever but it's ok for a Holder to allow the people he is supposedly taking care of to freeze to death or be horribly raped by his soldiers... and none of the other holders stand up to him over this because it takes a unanimous descion to get something done and none of them can be sure that it will be a unanoumous choice so they just ignore it and hope for the best!! Yes, I am summing up a couple of books in a couple of cranky sentences but my neuralgia is playing up and I'm cranky!! (grrrr.. argh!)

Killashandra is an overly dramatic Mary-Sue who excels in everything she does or will do in the future. Ugh. Because she couldn't be the bestest singer in the whole universe Mary-Sue walks out on 10 years hard work at music school and shags the first interesting man she meets.. all because she refuses to be in the chorus! She doesn't even bother packing up her student room or informing her family, instead, leaving them to wonder if she had committed suicide or been raped and killed! Literally weeks go by and she cares so little for them, she doesn't tell them what is happening in her life, instead, she is happy being a temporary girlfriend of a man who likes to throw money at her.. (gold digging whore!)

He karks it, she accompanies his body back to a crystal planet and decides to be a crystal singer because she has perfect pitch or whatever. She still doesn't tell her family what is happening and they have probably already had a wake for her because they assume she is dead? Lets see, what does a Mary-Sue do? Oh, obviously she has the easiest transition into being a Crystal Singer and she does it weeks before the rest of her class.. some symbiot takes over her body and allows her to mine crystal.. ugh. She is the bestest at flying lessons, the cranky dude who fits her for her crystal cutter obviously likes her but no-one else, the guild leader shags her because he can tell she is speshul, the first time out on her own to cut crystal.. she magically finds the rare black crystal and cuts enough of it to be awarded a speshul assignment to fit the crystal into wherever it needs to go... not only that, in the second book, she is sent on a spy mission to another planet! (sigh!!)

Killashandra is speshul in the way she is unable to say simple words such as; thank you, please, excuse me. Instead, she shoves people out of the way, deliberately insults officials over their food choice by flipping her dinner plate over at an official dinner party before stalking off in a snit, can't be bothered remembering peoples names and gives them insulting nicknames by which she then uses to their faces, assumes she is better than everyone else in the whole universe because she is a Crystal Singer and doesn't hesitate to point it out.. repeatedly!

Killashandra is a character fail of the highest degree and really, if this is McCaffrey's idea of a strong, independant woman... I'll take being barefoot in the kitchen anyday!


So, I've been excited to read Impostor for a while now, probably because I didn't take too close a look at the summary. I read "x-men like powers" and "secret agent" and "stop a serial killer" and went "WOOHOO SIGN ME UP FOR THAT, PLEASE."

Uhg, I cannot begin to explain to you how much of a disappointment this book turned out to be. It's...there's a certain attitude or atmosphere that you expect when you go into a spy novel. This, it turns out, was not a spy novel. It was a novel with spies. Spies who think and act and investigate every bit as well as your average YA heroine, which is to say, screw looking for the serial killer because there's hot boys to obsess about instead! The highlights from my blog:
Tessa spent more time wailing about her mission than she does actually participating in her mission. In the first few pages she’s all “Yay, I’m an agent! I can turn into people! I can’t wait for my first mission!” “Hey, we got a mission for you. Impersonate this dead chick and make the killer think he missed.” “What? Impersonate someone? THIS IS SOMEHOW A TOTAL SHOCK TO ME AND I WILL NOW ANGST ABOUT IT.” Yeah, it’s that confusing. And then she continues the angst-train throughout the book.

Two years of training, did you say? Piffle. Tessa acts like she’s had two minutes of training. She’s completely unprofessional and verging on too stupid to live. Her investigative skills are a joke. She can’t act to save her life (literally) and her one go-to move the entire book is “Oh, I have amnesia. Please explain our relationship to me.”

The whole idea was to use Tessa as bait and draw the killer out, under the theory that he’d be nervous about “Madison” giving him away. Fine plan until Tessa started up her “Nope, I don’t remember a thing! No, really, let me emphasis how littler I remember” parade. How is that supposed to help?

At first I thought that the symbolism was painfully obvious, but no. It’s painfully not even symbolism. Like, you didn’t even put in that much effort. Which would be okay, I suppose, except no one brings up the obvious option. These dead people have A’s carved onto their chests and one dead girl was having an affair. How can you not at least mention The Scarlett Letter? Giant Red A’s are enough of “a thing” that it should be remarked upon. And when you find out what the A stands for, oh, that’s not symbolism either. That’s just a guy’s name. Who names their organization after themselves? Even Magneto didn’t do that.

The Farm, by Emily McKay

A hot mess of a book in which the protagonist hooks up with her high school crush in the vampire post-apocalypse (sigh). I only read it for the autistic character.

The Farm

Penguin Books, 2012, 420 pages

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...

Why bother, it's YA? In which I stop taking recommendations from Maria V. Snyder.

Verdict: Occupying the low end of "readable," raising absolutely no expectations where YA is concerned, The Farm is a YA-mill vampire book with a few salvageable bits that made reading it not a complete waste of my time, but it will probably be a waste of yours.

My complete list of book reviews.
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Deadly Pink--Vivian Vande Velde

Deadly Pink is third in a sort-of series about Rasmussem, a video game company whose games are total-immersion through new technology. You actually experience the game with all five senses. User Unfriendly and Heir Apparent, the first two books, are wonderful, enough that I've read each of them many times despite the fact they certainly aren't meant for a 23-year-old.


But Deadly Pink, while not absolutely horrible, is not a worthy successor. At first I was excited for the change in setup. Both earlier books' plots are 'characters rescue themselves from malfunctioning game'. This one begins with 'character rescues sister from committing suicide with the game, by allowing the technology to pretty much scramble her brain.

Then, halfway through the book, all of the sister's problems are solved by one conversation and some hugs. Of course, depression doesn't work like that, but I was willing to let it slide some because it's for children. Then it moves straight back into malfunctioning game territory. The book comes in at under 200 pages, not nearly enough time to do justice to two plots.

It's pretty badly paced too, which is surprising for Velde. I think this could have been fixed by using subplots like the earlier books.

I finished it anyway because it's so short, but I feel like I wasted my time.

Dead Ever After #13 in the Southern Vampire Mysteries Series - Charlaine Harris

I know the Southern Vampire Mysteries series aren't great literature and Charlaine Harris isn't going to be winning a Booker Prize any time soon, the series is a light, easy and entertaining read. Ms Harris has built an intriguing world and has been the Maker to a set of characters that I've found myself heavily invested in, which is rare for me.

In previous books the continuity errors have been comical but just about bareable; Ms Harris doesn't seem to know her own world apparently and frequently either forgets or gets the names wrong of her characters. Inconsequential characters (of which there were hundreds it seemed) changed names mid paragraph and a main character changed his age and hair colour in one book, huh?

She was also fond of parachuting characters into the story that weren't ever mentioned in the previous books as some sort of deus ex machina that left me bewildered and scratching my head. It resolved a plot line but was still rather irritating all the same.

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Imaginary Men

Stormcaller – does it get better?

I'm 38% (187 pages) into Tom Llyod's Stormcaller, and I've been finding it a chore to read.

It's supposed to be an epic fantasy, but there is very little world building and even less concrete text-on-the-page description of the society or the physical environment the characters are living in. The point of view will randomly shift between random characters, many of whom are never introduced to the reader. There is not even the tiniest bit of humor in the book - it's all about serious men being serious while doing things that I can only assume are very serious business. This is especially jarring in the case of the main character, who is supposed to be very charming, because people are always commenting on how charming he is, but he never does or says anything even remotely charming.

Speaking of the main character, he strikes me as a Marty Stu. In the world of the book, there is a genetic variation in some human beings that makes them supermen. They are taller, stronger, more skilled in battle, and more attractive than regular men. They might also have more of a natural talent for magic (but I'm not sure, because world building, how does it work). These people are referred to as "white eyes" (I'm assuming because they have white eyes, but again, description is not really a thing this novel does), and the main character is one of them. Even more so than regular white eyes, though, he is harder better faster; and, what's more, he is Destined By Fate to be the very best like no one ever was. I am only about a third of the way through the book, but he has already gotten the best sword and the best armor and the best dragon and defeated the best swordmaster and proved himself a better general than the best general and he's still only seventeen years old.

I have been waiting for the protagonist to do something interesting. I mean, he is awesome, but that's kind of like saying he has blue eyes (or white eyes, whatever) in that it's just something he was born with and exhibits without thinking. There are a few supporting characters whom I've found marginally more compelling (like the reigning king and the protagonist's handmaid), but they haven't been getting a great deal of screen time.

There are a lot of people who like this novel and its sequels, but I'm just not getting it. Is there something I'm missing? Does it get better? Or is this just run-of-the-mill fantasy fiction fail?