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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Wings

Black Wings by Christina Henry

Grade: 4 stars out of 5
Maddy is an agent of death who helps and guides souls to the ‘door’. Her job doesn’t help pay the bills, but luckily there’s a new tenant whose rent will. The tenant, however, may bring more than what Maddy wants right now.
Black Wings, I need to get this off my chest, needs a family tree. Oh boy, I was considering stopping midway, reread everything all over again and just plot everything out myself. This angel comes to earth has this many children whose names are so-and-so and those children has this many children named so-and-so and they never age so they continue to have babies and now the question is: Is everyone related to each other in some twisted way? I tried connecting the dots, but I’m 99% sure that no one really cares except for me because it’s pretty irrelevant and doesn’t pay a huge role that will make people go “ew”.

So Maddy is a kick-butt heroine who can easily defend herself against demons, mean bosses, and the occasional grumpy gargoyle. (Who, by the way, is that comical relief character that I always love to read in these types of novels.) She is the somewhat typical heroine that I am finding in fantasy novels: independent, strong willed, and powerful. I can’t say that it’s a bad thing since if she was a winy, dependent, clueless character I would probably pull all my hair out by now. Maddy is a well-likable character who isn’t afraid to get dirty and a little mean.

I find the world that the novel builds, while confusing sometimes (it’s always the names that get me), was creative and definitely shows the author’s effort. There’s the present world and the past world that readers’ discover through Maddy’s visions that blend well together. It was the back bone of the story without having to go through the whole ordeal of long-winded speeches. The collided of the two worlds was impressive as one expected when facing fallen angels and meeting your father for the first time. The resolution and climax was done in a fashion that left me with no qualms *insert smiley face*. A little love story never hurts either.

Speaking of love! Oh la la la. The tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet is an ongoing concept throughout the novel. Let’s just say some of these guys are yummy (if they can keep their mouths shut between you and me). A smidge on the fast pace for one potential relationship, but nonetheless, enjoyable to follow.

However, there were definitely times that I questioned how something happened. More in the controlling power sense than plot-wise sense. It’s the finer details that seem to kill me with novels.

Black Wings was one of the better beginnings to a series that hit every point that it needed to hit. This is a series that I plan to continue and will continue to enjoy if Christina Henry maintains this caliber of writing.


Cover B (that tagline is hilarious)
Source: Ace Fantasy
Published: 30 November 2010; mass market paperback

Monday, November 29, 2010

Halo

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Source: Feiwel and Friends

Grade: 3 stars out of 5
Bethany along with her sister Ivy and her brother Gabriel are sent from Heaven to the small town of Venus Core. It is their job to counteract the negativity, evil, and chaos in Venus Core that seemed to have increased over the years. However, both Gabriel and Ivy has had century’s worth of experience as a human and developed a more stoic, detached approach to the townspeople. Beth, on the other hand, is new to the confinements of the environment and its strange sights, textures, and tastes, becoming easily attached to companionship as well as relationships.

Xavier has faced a great deal of hardship over the past years leaving him an emotional barrier that cannot be pierced despite the many girls who tried. On the day Beth and Xavier meet at the beach, neither can get the other out of their mind. Beth starts to loose focus on her mission and plans to risk it all. But there’s an even bigger risk lurking in the shadows.
Imagine a hatchling you are not allowed to dote on, but merely allowed to observe. You witness its naivety, its all consuming thoughts, and its curiosity. You will feel confused, irritated, and annoyed by this hatching, but it is young so a lot can be forgiven. This what I feel towards Bethany. Halo is the life of the hatchling just experiencing life and its mundane (to us at least) affairs. Alexandra Adornetto goes over the beyond when writing each scene, scrutinizing every detail. Like light, it shines throughout the room creating a fresh experience.    

One thing that Halo had me most considered about was the religion. Religion is not my forte and it was something that I was told to be prominent in Halo. Thankfully it was not to my relief. (Then again I was expecting the discussion of Christianity and God to be forced down my throat. But there is 2 pages where it takes of God that I felt were awkwardly placed.) Halo is a read for the romantics at heart; for those who enjoy the fight for love in a forbidden match. It is a novel about character development and love rather than the action and fight scenes that some might be expecting. Halo deals with raw emotions of love and confusion of young love at that.

However there is quite a bit of editing that Halo needs. For one thing this is a hefty novel, reaching almost to 500 pages with a great chunk of it on the development of love. The pacing of the novel is fairly slow as one might associate long novels with, but the ending was anticlimactic. For all the details Adornetto had written within the first two-thirds of the novel, she lacked the strong emotional battle ground I was hoping for. It was also really, really, really cheesy.

For another thing, Adornetto does not do well with dropping subtle hints or foreshadowing of any kind. She attempts to foreshadow scenes, but that it just spoils everything. (The biggest being on page 257 in the ARC for those who have read the book.) I am also curious about tenses: everything is written in past tense so I wonder where Beth is now. Perhaps this is something we find out in the last installment of the series. There is also the feather that Beth finds in the car something that is brought up only towards the end. It is never fully explained so I wonder if it will play a much bigger role in the later installment or just be forgotten.

In fact there is a lot left to be explained in the sequel: Molly, Beth’s friend; Limbo and Hell; the higher power above who cleared everything.  

Then there are the characters. Adornetto pushes some stereotypes to the extreme such as the ‘gossiping bimbos’: “‘I don’t think so, Bethie.” Taylah laughed. “Everybody knows the Middle East is in Africa.” (125). There is also an inconsistency that I am confused about. Gabriel is deemed as the cook in the family and yet Ivy “had gone to a good deal of trouble with the menu—she’d made an aromatic potato and leek soup followed by whole baked trout…” (229). And with no mention of Ivy picking up cooking as a habit I find this odd.

In all Halo was a straightforward romance novel that leaves plenty for the next novel to pick up. Again, romantics will love this novel. Realists (such as I) will want something more. Hopefully Hades will be action laded to please the savage need within me of the battle between good vs. evil.

P.S. For those curious, there is a stanza of BeyoncĂ©’s “Halo” in the novel. It is before the first chapter though. There is also an Edgar Allen Poe poem “Annabel Lee”, which I loved.

Cover B

You can pre-order Halo and check out for yourself.

Manga Monday: Black Bird

Black Bird by Kanoko Sakurakoji

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Romance, Ecchi
Art: 3.8 stars
Plot: 2.8 stars
Characters: 2.8 stars
Serialized: Viz Media

There is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, and she wants nothing to do with magical realms. She just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. All that changes one day when Misao is attacked by a demon. Her childhood friend Kyo suddenly returns to save her and tend to her cuts--with his tongue! It turns out Misao is the bride of prophecy, whose blood gives power to the demon clan who claims her. But most demons want to keep her power for themselves--by eating her! Now Misao is just trying to stay alive...and decide if she likes it when Kyo licks her wounds.


My reaction: I read the manga up to volume 5 and do not plan to continue the series. There are too many instances where I feel as though only through raping Misao in the later volumes, does one become powerful to be some of figurehead within the demon world. I just can't continue to read something like that.

Vol 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8