Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Three out of five stars

A sixteen year old girl is kidnapped by a man who has been stalking her since she was ten. He doesn't lay a finger on her during her entire incarceration and not once threatens her. His past is tragic at best and in the end, he is lonely. Do we sympathize with him?

This book has left me very conflicted. Gemma is the girl in question who was kidnapped and while I am very appreciative that she does not fall in love with her captor and forgive him for all that he does (the girl tries to escape, she tries to harm him) I still am left feeling very uncomfortable with the turn of this novel. Does she grow to have feelings for him? Is it Stockholm syndrome? Is the author writing a novel to add to the long list of fucked up teen books that romanticize abusive relationships? Okay, okay. Lets get that one out of the way first.

No. I don't think that Lucy Christopher is romanticizing this kind of abuse. She makes it very clear that what this person did was wrong and towards the end of then novel, she even calls into question some of the thing that the kidnapper was telling Gemma to maybe cause Gemma to question her home life and if it was truly better than what he was giving her. For this reason, I do appreciate this author. She does however add the confusing element of the kidnapper, Ty, being a character that one can sympathize with. It's a weird feeling to have. When it came to Ty, I was much more brutal in my opinion of him because while he did have a horrid childhood, and while he never tried to hurt Gemma, he still drugged and kidnapped her from the airport. I don't consider the man a monster like the public does in this book, but I don't consider him a character to lend my sympathy to. I can see how a reader could go there though and that's what makes the book terribly uncomfortable for me and terribly confusing.

On a side note, can we just take note for a minute how annoyingly bland the public reaction can be in books like this? Why is it that there is always some female archetype stroking the young girls hair and waxing poetics about what a monster said bad person is and how said victim is too confused to understand what really just happened. Said victim was there. Annoying hair stroker was not.

While I do not romanticize this story, I think many will.  The deeper picture of this story is that there is always more to what we see.  When the book is boiled down to its bare bones, that is what it is about.  However, in this society, teenage girls are falling into these horrible patterns of falling for the emo "misunderstood" boys out there that treat them like shit.  They are going to gloss over the fact that the situation Gemma was in could have been much worst; that in fact, what happened to her was psychologically traumatizing and that while she did somewhat begin to fall for this guy, there is a much more confusing and deeper layer that we must understand in which Gemma's feelings probably stemmed from the fact that he was all she had.  There is so much meat to this story and so many different angles that we can dive into, but unfortunately, most people do not.  Most teens sigh in love and whimsy and dream of their captors coming to sweep them off their feet and take them to Australian.

Alright, so maybe teens aren't that bad but that seems to be the type of teens that I hear from when researching books like this.

Lucy Christopher is a decent writer. I wasn't a huge fan of the first person narrative or the lack of chapters, but she does get her point across with little to no nonsense and focuses on a character development that is very believable. For the novel also only focusing on two characters, it doesn't get dry or boring. If anything, this is an exploration into the mind set of two very different and very broken people. Watching Gemma's sanity slip like it does is what makes this novel worth the read. It is done subtly and I was surprised to find how much the character had truly changed by the end of the novel. For that, I have mass respect for this author.

While it wasn't exactly the kind of book I would normally read, I did enjoy it. I would recommend it to people that are looking for something a little dark and a little different. It's an easy read through and one that does stick with you as well.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Red Seas Under Red Skies

4 out of 5 stars

My faith in literature is restored.

This is the second in a series of novels that I have publicly declared my adoration for to the point where it might be bordering on obsessive. The first, the Lies of Locke Lamora, I have waxed poetics about to anyone who would listen. The characters are beautifully done and, lets face it, any story where you give me thieves or pirates, I'm pretty much going to squee like the little fangril that I am. These novels fit under the criteria I have for fantastic books by causing that horrible moment of not enjoying any novel read directly after finishing these ones, because nothing else compares.

In Scott Lynch's sequel, Red Sea's Under Red Skies, we pick up where we left off in the last book. Now, I won't give anything away in case you've had the misfortune of not picking this series up yet, but lets just say, that when we last saw our antihero's, they were pretty much up the creek, without a paddle, while trying to heal gaping wounds and knowing that the gods and anything else remotely powerful, had a price on their head. It was good times for all.

So of course, Red Sea's jumps right into the character trying to rebuild what they have lost and trying to adjust to a new city. And by adjusting, I mean that they get caught up in gambling rings, political upheaval, a secret society that wants their heads on a platter, and a whole slew of misunderstood moments because Locke has issues but we love him to death because he's the embodiment of what a rogue should be. Also, Pirates.


They are female and can hold their own and you don't want to shove them off a cliff for being a stereotypical ice cold bitch because apparently us females can only be written three different ways... I may have some issues with female characterization lately....

Anyway! Fully realized, kick ass, women who actually still feel like they are women! Huzzah!

At this point I think it should become pretty apparent that I'm babbling and may just really love this book because there are pirates in it. Have I mentioned the pirates.

Alright, now for the serious portion.

Lynch is what I would consider a good writer. He strings words together to form these beautiful moments that I have to stop and say out loud because they are simply the type of words you want to feel roll of your tongue. Then, in the next paragraph, he is crass and vulgar because his main characters are vagrants who are cheating, lying and drinking their way through a city and a job. I love this about him. He knows when certain dialogue is appropriate and he knows how to tug on romantic heartstrings and send his reader into a brief love affair with words.

That being said, he can be long winded. One of the things that I've noticed about him in the last two novels is that he spends a lot of time developing his world. While normally that wouldn't be an issue for me because I am all about development, I feel like there are moment that Lynch dives too far into his description. I'm not sure if I want to consider this a slight on him however because I know a lot of people who love description. Blocks of text work for some people. I'm the type of reader that wants dialogue, however, and don't care so much about what the city looks like when we first enter the scene or the political structure that is controlling this society. I want to find all that out as the story goes. But, I am aware that this is more of a personal choice than anything else. I also think that part of my irritation about these blocks of text stems from the fact that I wanted to know what was happening next. Lynch writes such an intriguing story that I don't really care what the city looks like or about the aqueducts that were laid when it was first built. I want to know if Locke is going to make it out of the situation without being beaten to death and if he has another trick up his sleeve to do so.

My other issue I would like to bring up isn't so much of a complaint but more of a warning. Do not read this book if you are someone that wants to sit down and check out for a while. If your mind is prone to wandering during novels, this is not your tale. Lynch loves to write with intricacy and he snuggles up to convoluted ideas at night with a warm mug of cocoa. There were moments that I found myself having to go back and fact check things because he throws so much at you that at times, you struggle to remember who is good and who is bad and who it is they are supposed to be trusting. Which, now that I think about it, is probably the point. However, it is not a novel you can sit down and passively read. Get yourself immersed in this world and learn these characters because if you don't, you are missing out on the genius of this story.

And finally, I love these characters; The Gentlemen Bastards. Their names and titles fit them perfectly (both their real names and their false ones). Jean has become much more developed in this book and has moved passed the muscle of the group and Locke, and I don't think I can stress this enough, is what a rogue should be. He can't fight. He's not someone that you should be entrusting with an army or even with your life. But he can talk his way out of a situation and rob you blind, all with a smile on his face. The fact that the author did not make him strong or even all that competent in fights, the fact that he is somewhat of a coward, makes this character real. He has flaws and he has many. I have a feeling we will be learning more about these flaws in the next novel when a certain redheaded woman who we've been hearing about for two books, finally makes her appearance.

If you are a fantasy reader, buy this book. It is intelligent, funny, and all the things that a woman looks for in a man but has the added benefit of not whining at you while they are sick with the common cold or a leg cramp.

Also. Pirates.

To see more of what I was reading this month go here: http://papertales4u.blogspot.com/2013/07/july-book-reads.html

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