Genre: New Adult

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Mar 11

Archer’s Voice Review

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Archer’s Voice ReviewArcher's Voice by Mia Sheridan
on January 25th 2014
Genres: Modern, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 345
Goodreads four-stars
five-flames

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.
Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.
THIS IS A STAND-ALONE NOVEL. The first three books in the series need not be read to enjoy this book. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Ok, let me make something quite clear: I don’t read romance. Especially modern romance.

However…I saw someone gushing about this book on Twitter and was kind of in a reading slump and thought, “Well, why not…everyone needs a little spicy love story now and then.”

Let me make something else clear: If it wasn’t for that gosh darn stupid cover, I would buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. But I’m a cover snob and I hate “sexy” covers with a passion. Not because I don’t appreciate a well-muscled male back as well as the next person…but I find them highly embarrassing to read in anything but the deepest privacy – which happens next to never, for me. So I bought the ebook (it was a total impulse buy and read).

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Oh, hi there. Yes, this book is VERY hung up on how sexy Archer (the male MC) is. Buuuuut…it’s totally ok.

Archer’s Voice is all about feelings. ALL THE FEELS. I did have a few minor quibbles with the plot and the writing style. For instance, somewhere in the middle of the book, the author repeatedly has Bree use the word “tummy” in descriptions of her sensual feelings and OMG JUST STOP. I actually saw another reviewer mention this before I started the book, and thought that surely they were just overreacting…no, they most absolutely were not. Note to self: when writing sex scenes that word is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. The plot is somewhat predictable…ok, a lot predictable. It’s a romance. It’s a New Adult (NA) romance, so it contains a fan-yourself-go-take-a-cold-shower (or…don’t) quantity of steamy sex. What was supposed to be a big plot twist was…not that shocking, and actually didn’t make a lot of sense but okay whatever. View Spoiler »

I went into this book skeptical of its ability to give me feels. Romances usually have me rolling my eyes and tossing them into the corner halfway through. I was intrigued by the premise of the male MC in this book though – no voice? I originally thought he must be deaf, but no.

Archer (male MC) and Bree (female MC) are both severely wounded, scarred people. Somewhat physically, but mostly emotionally. I could identify strongly with that. Bree’s wounds are more recent, and she had a mostly happy, healthy childhood to give her a strong foundation to stand on even despite her recent horrors. Archer on the other hand, has never had a normal life with a functional family and a devastating accident when he was 7 years old robbed him of both his parents and his voice. Raised by an eccentric, paranoid (but caring) uncle, he has been almost a complete recluse his entire life. Until Bree, fleeing her life in Ohio after some very traumatic events, stumbles into his little town and almost literally into him.

Trying to come up with the guy that MUST have been Mia Sheridan’s model for Archer…

Aside from his voice, physically Archer is perfection. His life of hard work (and apparently, good genes) have give him a god-like body. Bree is understandably smitten after just a few meetings. But he is an emotional cripple. Almost completely anthropophobic, but highly intelligent, he has spent his 23 years becoming self-sufficient and as well-educated as reading every book he can get his hands on can make him. I really didn’t think an author would be able to sell a recluse as a romantic interest, but Mia Sheridan does it very well. Maybe too well.

Maybe there was no right or wrong, no black or white, only a thousand shades of gray when it came to pain what we each held ourselves responsible for.

I was…well, I can’t say that I think Bree’s attraction to Archer is wrong. Or even unhealthy. But I think it could very quickly have gone that way, had he not been as willing to fight his fear of people and his limitations as he was. And as in love with him as she was, I’m not sure she would have had the backbone to leave an unhealthy situation. Because Bree is a healer. She is a caregiver. She wants to fix things. She wants to make Archer feel cared for and loved (besides the intense physical attraction). Multiple times though, she mentions that Archer reminds her of a little boy or a small child needing reassurance or love and…feeling like your significant other is a child in need of care is not really a good thing, in my opinion. As someone who was married to an extremely insecure person who eventually became vindictive and bitter in his insecurity, and knowing that I often felt a constant, exhausting need to reassure him of my love/respect/admiration/dedication – that is NOT a good thing. Now in this case, Archer was growing and learning and slowly coming out of his shell, and he was inherently sweet and gentle-hearted (qualities my ex most definitely lacked). He slowly accepts Bree’s love and compassion, but he also gives her his own and takes care of her. He melted my heart.

He looked like a little boy in that moment, and I realized how much he needed me to tell him that I wouldn’t go away like everyone else.

I ached along with Bree to ease some of the pain of all those years of mistreatment and neglect he had suffered. Even while alarm bells rang in my head about his intense emotional neediness…which, thankfully, his willingness to give as well as get and to push himself out of his comfort zone, more for Bree’s sake than his own, eliminated.

Complete honesty was the only thing I would give him. I would never purposefully hurt this beautiful, sensitive, wounded man more than he had already been hurt.

Archer’s biggest appeal is in the disconnect in his physical appearance and his attitude. He is, as Bree notes, a quick study and good at anything he has been taught or taught himself. He is completely unpretentious and unconscious of his physical appeal. If anything, he sees himself as broken, flawed, and undesirable due to his one “defect.”

Bree’s physical appearance is given less attention. She seems to be your typical girl-next-door type of cute, but Archer becomes completely smitten with her and she attracts attention from a few other guys as well – mostly due to her being new to the small town, it would seem. I was slightly worried by what seemed like her apparent willingness to just give up EVERYTHING to be with Archer, but she was already running from her past life and in need of someone to restore her faith in humanity. Archer, for all his issues, turned out to be that person. I loved how closely he paid attention to her likes and dislikes, even down to what chips out of a bag she liked (folded over tortilla chips, hehehe).

“Think of the strength of spirit you have to have to come through what he did and not be as mad as a hatter, to still retain a gentle heart.”

The strength of the human spirit is the real backbone of the story. The plot mostly centers on Bree and Archer overcoming their various personal demons, and for the most part doing it together. View Spoiler » There is a side plot going on with what happened to Bree and the death of her father, as well as the small-town drama around Archer, but they are truly secondary and stay mostly in the background. There is some tension created by Bree’s conversations and relationships with Travis, Archer’s cousin, town police officer and local heartbreaker. They never truly have a relationship but Travis’ ego becomes a sticking point and his childhood tormenting of Archer resumes, creating a good deal of conflict and pain on all sides.

This was a HEA I could believe in. Shocking, yes, for someone as jaded and anti-love-at-first-sight as myself. But Bree and Archer are not perfect, and their relationship is not perfect. They are so human, but so in love and SO RIGHT for each other. I would definitely recommend this book, and that’s not something I can say about many straight-up romance novels. I might even try another of Mia Sheridan’s NA novels.

four-stars

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Oct 27

Book Review: The Architect of Song

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

This book totally surprised me. I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, though I was hoping I would. So I was delighted when this was my initial reaction:

Yep. This was one giant dark truffle of deliciousness. I started it one day, and about two chapters in decided I wanted to just sit down and devour it all in one go, so I waited for a weekend day and did just that.

First of all, don’t go into this book expecting something it’s not. This is a gothic historical romance. Period. It doesn’t try to have the next greatest plot twist. In fact it has some of the traditional YA tropes (it’s a NA, btw) that usually drive me to distraction or leave me throwing the book across the room. However, popular plot devices are popular for a reason. They resonate with a large percentage of the human population on some intrinsic level. That doesn’t mean we don’t get tired of them, particularly if you read a lot. What seems new and exciting to someone who reads 2 books a year may seem bland and unoriginal to someone who reads 200. Authors CAN, however, come up with new twists on the tried and true tropes of literature and A.G. Howard has done just that. ANYWAY. Climbing off my soapbox now.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD…but nothing too horrible, I promise!

As soon as the book starts, we’re thrown into a very melancholy, VERY Victorian atmosphere. I almost put it down, honestly. I wasn’t in the mood for another book where the heroine simpers and flutters and nearly passes out when the hero gets within 6 inches of her. But I was intrigued…and let’s just say, while yes, the time period is Victorian, the romantic intensity is SO NOT.

Because this is my mental image of the main guy. With slightly longer hair.

Because this is my mental image of the main guy. With slightly longer hair.

There are a few scenes that left me literally fanning myself. Not just because, um, hot bearded guy, either. The history between Juliet and Hawk is just so sweet and it gives so much more intensity to every scene between the two of them. It’s amazing, and heartbreaking, sweet, and at the same time simply smouldering.

The characters in this book are amazing. I was attached to them ALL. I hated A.G. Howard about halfway through for making me care about them ALL, because I wanted to be able to choose. Yes, there is a love triangle in this book (that was the spoiler). Maybe I should have guessed that from the blurb, but since it said ghost…you know…how can you…well. All I can say is well done, well done indeed. I was several chapters in before I was sure that was what was happening, and by that point I was so intrigued and invested that I couldn’t stop reading!

A.G. Howard writes IN COLOR. I swear I could see the colors, the fabrics, the clothes she described just spilling out of the pages. It was amazing. This is the first of her books I’ve read, so I’m not sure if she just always writes that way or if it was a feature of this particular book, but I loved it. I’m not a “clothes person,” but damn if I didn’t want to reach out and touch some of the dresses Juliet was wearing.

The plot is…well, gothic. Semi-tragic. There were SO MANY layers and so many half-truths that about 3/4 of the way through I just wanted to SCREAM because I was just as confused as poor Juliet, whom everyone seems to think needs “protecting” in the form of an elaborately built scheme to keep her “safe.” Geez Louise, people. Our young heroine is deaf, yes, but copes remarkably well and is no shrinking violet, even if she sometimes acts the part. There’s the love triangle. At first I was skeptical, and then I was sympathetic, and then I was panicked, because these two guys…well, they get ALL the hearts. AT FIRST. Then one starts to be controlling, manipulative, and demanding and my little gun-shy heart ran away screaming…but I still felt so sorry for him and wanted him to have a happy ending.

Now, the problems. First, as soon as a guy comes into her life, Juliet loses all focus on everything else, even when at first she had a relatively big goal regarding her estate. She just tosses it all aside for TWU RUV.

I’m sure we’ve all been there, but I hate it when that’s one of the first things to occur in a book. Especially in cases like this, where, as a true Victorian female, Juliet has been sheltered and taught that women shouldn’t have sexual desires like men, and then she just falls into the arms of the first man that waltzes across her path (it takes 149 pages). Le sigh. But ok, it’s a romance. Forgiven…ish.

Then there are a few times when the dialogue sounds like it was supposed to be description. Because honestly, who describes their hair color as “My hair is the warm glimmer of golden coins beneath the sun,” instead of just “My hair is blonde (golden, yellow, fill-in-the-blank-with-one-word)?” Ugh. It was just overkill for me…the flowery descriptions were great, but in dialogue it was just a bit too much.

My hat is off to A.G. Howard for not giving her book the traditional happily-ever-after ending. Oh, there’s plenty to be happy about, don’t get me wrong! But it’s definitely bittersweet, and by being so it’s much more realistic and makes me even more excited for the next one!

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. I love Juliet and *bleep*. They’re giant dark chocolate truffles and I want to eat them.

four-stars

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Oct 17

Book Review: Throne of Glass

Book Reviews, Quotable, Reviews 3 ★★★½

Book Review: Throne of GlassThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult
Pages: 404
Goodreads three-half-stars

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Yes, I’m just now reading this book. 😛 I was very late to the Sarah J. Maas train, only discovering her books after the publication of A Court of Mist and Fury. I was intrigued by reviews I saw of THAT book, and on the strength of those alone I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first in that series (which I wasn’t entirely on board with but then there was a horribly cliffhanger ending sooooo) quickly followed by ACOMAF, and I’ve been obsessed with the series ever since. Naturally I wanted to read her original series as well, but to be honest I’ve been a little scared. What if I don’t like it as much? What if I just think it’s crap compared to ACOTAR? Such high expectations. Honestly though, I was kind of braced to not like it, as everyone kept saying (as with ACOTAR) not to judge the entire series off the first book. So, SJM, I love you, but something about your first book game isn’t quite meshing with me…or maybe I just take a long time to fully commit to characters. Hrm. Anywho.

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This is my Treat choice for the Halloween Read-A-Thon!

I have done my best to avoid spoilers and there are definitely no plot spoilers! However if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about the characters you might not want to read.

Throne of Glass launches us into what promises to be an epic fantasy adventure. I love the way we’re immediately thrown in with Celaena in a dangerous, scary situation because I, naturally, want to know HOW THE FUCK she ended up there. Also how she can seem to be so young and yet so skilled, so brutal…and yet so obsessed with frilly dresses.

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Both of these are totally Celaena. I’m still not sure how she does it or why, especially as she even notes that all the layers of skirts hamper her fighting skills. Only somehow she doesn’t seem to get caught in particularly bad situations while all dolled up. Hmm.

The forest was different here. The leaves dangled like jewels – tiny droplets of ruby, pearl, topaz, amethyst, emerald, and garnet; and a carpet of such riches coated the forest floor around them. Despite the ravages of conquest, this part of Oakwald Forest remained untouched. It still echoed with the remnants of the power that had once given these trees such unnatural beauty.

Maas has created a beautiful world that is by turns thrilling, intriguing, and terrifying. I would like to visit, but retain the option to return to my own world with the push of a button. 😛 Because Cain and those demon things were scary AF, and the king gives me nasty chills. I want to know all about it though, and I feel like there is SO MUCH that still needs explaining. Where did the current King of Adarlan come from? What happened to Celaena’s family and why? Why is Dorian so very unlike his father? Who is Chaol, really? How did the magic of Adarlan just…die? Where did the Faery people go?

The plot really moves along at a good clip. I loved the constant suspense of waiting for each new test of the Champions, and seeing who would be eliminated or die trying. I also really enjoyed the continuous building of tension in the court, as Celaena tries over and over to piece things together as she gains new information.  It all flows smoothly leading up to the final duel…except that Kaltain’s part seemed rather forced and contrived, to me…of course there is someone like her in EVERY court (usually several), but it was just very convenient and felt a bit out of place.  Maybe part of that was due to the influences on her, I’m not sure.

There are a couple of tropes here, and I spotted them almost as soon as the book started. I took notes as I rolled my eyes around page 47. Verbatim: “Celaena is naturally the most gorgeous woman at court, both the captain and prince will fall in love with her, and the prince is possibly/probably not the prince at all.” I was slightly annoyed.

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Not this AGAIN.

HOWEVER. The love triangle was handled much better than a lot that I’ve seen, and the special snowflake turned out to be a special snowflake through much hard work, not just being born to it. Why does she have to be so gorgeous that practically every man falls at her feet? With the exception of the other Champions, thank the gods that be. But the constant references to her beauty in the first part of the book were really annoying. Blah. The love triangle was slow in the build-up, and if I hadn’t already seen so many memes and fangirl sites over ToG I might not have been so sure about it early on (thanks, interwebz), but I still feel like it was pretty obvious.

As I’ve said many times, characters are what really make a book for me. This one is STUFFED FULL of wonderful amazing people that I want to go live with. They are flawed – each and every one of them. They do annoying things that make me want to choke them. (Chaol, anyone?) They also have pasts that I am DYING to find out about because they are such strong people but they have scars and tender spots that show through now and again and yet NO. Apparently I must wait for the next book (which, not to worry, has already been requested from the library).

“Second place is a nice title for the first loser.”

Ah, Celaena, our heroine. Despite her annoyingly perfect body and face (even with her time in the mines and the abuse to the rest of her body, her face was somehow left alone), she’s definitely someone I’d want in my corner. She’s got a backbone of steel, a quick mind, and…well, she’s The Assassin. She’s been hurt, and horribly. But she hasn’t entirely hardened herself again the entire world yet. She is, however, a badass with a flair for the dramatic, and she likes attention.

“My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.”

Also, she loves books and good food. Seriously, the descriptions of the library in Rifthold made me feel lightheaded and all delicious food she was forever gobbling down kept me feeling hungry. Thankyounotreally.

 “I can survive well enough on my own— if given the proper reading material.”

Girl after my own heart, I’m telling you. Such a fighting and adventurous spirit – and yet she loves books.

She had often wished for adventure, for old spells and wicked kings. But she hadn’t realized it would be like this – a fight for her freedom. And she’d always imagined that there’d be someone to help her – a loyal friend or a one-armed soldier or something. She hadn’t imagined she would be so…alone.

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No, they’re not brothers, but they might as well be.

Dorian and Chaol – best friends consisting of the crown princeling and captain of the guard – are…well, they’re just sweethearts and good guys. Dorian more openly so. Chaol is, to be honest, something of an ass, but underneath it is a soft heart that shows through from time to time and I just want him to be able to open up and trust SOMEBODY. Geez Louise, but the man seems to wear his tough guy armor 24/7 . Dorian, on the other hand, needs to grow a pair (he’s working on it, I know I know but come ON). I am solidly team Chaol, at the moment. Also, not going to spoil for anyone that hasn’t read it but…Celaena NAILED IT towards the end of the book, when dealing with these two. HATS OFF. YOU GO GIRLFRIEND. Now that, took guts.

Oh, but back to other characters. There is of course Princess Nehemiah, who is very intriguing indeed and has me dying of curiosity about her country and magic and all the sparkly creepy things she seems to know about. I’m sure we will see more of her. There’s also Nox, who I’m NOT sure we will see more of but I hope we do. The most intriguing side character by FAR though, is Elena…who I can’t really discuss without giving stuffs away. Mph.

“You could be great. You could rattle the stars. You could do anything if only you dared.”

SO MUCH POTENTIAL IN THIS BOOK. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Now that the competition is over but ALL the dastardly schemes are just getting started.

That said, I’m giving 3.5/5 stars. It definitely got better as the story progressed, but I did a lot of eye-rolling during the set-up, and still feel like the love triangle itself was/is unnecessary, even if the characters are definitely not. Also I’m still not sure on the prince thing, nothing else ever happens to make us think that Dorian isn’t the prince, but for some reason it’s still in the back of my mind.

 

 

three-half-stars

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