Arch Enemy Review – The Final Battle For Wonderland Has Begun.

ArchEnemy (The Looking Glass Wars, #3)

 

 

Hey readers,

 

So, I’ve finally finished the third book! Took a lot longer than I thought and once again I’m feeling like I didn’t actually enjoy it all that much. Though it hardly remind me of the first book, I just wasn’t caught up enough in the story to get really into reading it. It seems predictable in parts too and there’s not many twists. I knew how things were going to work out, but I felt that the journey getting there wasn’t exciting enough. It’s still a typical good vs evil plot and the out come stays true to this. However, I’d have liked a little more….I don’t know imagination? Though that seems rather ironic since this book is all about saving imagination!

 

For me the second book was my favorite, because I got into the story a lot more and it felt better written then the first. The third isn’t badly written, it just seems lacking and in places seems more screenplay like the novel like. I guess it really isn’t my kind of book, but I can see why younger readers would be taken by it. The one comparison I can think of making is to Treasure Island. I read this believing it would be more adult then it turned out to be and granted I knew it was a children’s book, but I still believed that there would be a lot more depth to it, but by the time I’d finished it I felt really disappointed. I then picked up Flint and Sliver by John Drake and found it to be just what I was hoping Treasure Island would be. I was hoping that The Looking Glass Wars would be an adult version of Alice, but this is far for the case.

 

I don’t dislike this trilogy, but for me it just has a few problems and I think the way it’s written is one of its main issues. There’s nothing wrong with the characters and even in the third book they are well developed and continue to grow as they learn things. They also have key roles to play, which helps to move the plot along. I still also like the connect with Earth that the plot makes. We once again get the Liddell family and Lewis Carroll appearing and its nice to this consistence with characters. The introduction of new characters gives it a fresh edge and adds some more helping hands to the war efforts. I guess some more depth into the characters would have been nice, but I know how hard it is to do this when there are so many of them.

 

In my last two reviews, I don’t think I really talked about Beddor’s use of sound effects. These often appear throughout the book and echo the sounds you would hear if you were witnessing the item in action. Though these are really thoughtful and do add something to the visuals on the page, I did feel they were a bit childish and probably more comic book suited. They were over-used and I got a bored with seeing them. Normal sound description works fine within most books and for most readers and I just felt that in some places the sound effects weren’t needed.

 

My other problem with Arch Enemy is the fighting scenes. I got a little bored of the fighting towards the end. I guess the constant repetitive action scenes weigh the plot down too much and though this is mixed in with other events happening, the chopping back and forth left me feeling a bit dizzy. When I think about the Drizzt books and how they deal with fighting scenes, I can see the difference straight away. It feels a lot more choreographed and the writer is very knowledgeable about how his character would use his weapons in battle. I just didn’t get the same feeling out of Arch. The writing of these scenes didn’t feel rushed, but for me a lot more could have gone into them. As the final battle was reaching it’s end, I didn’t get much satisfaction out of characters completing missions they had set themselves. However, I did like the idea that Dodge felt no sense of close at the death of The Cat, who he’d been trying to kill to get vengeance for the murder of his father.

 

The obstacles that Alyss faces are good. She is fighting two enemies now and must decided what’s best for Wonderland. She does think like a queen throughout, beside from one point, where she drops everything to go and rescue the Liddells’. She is then trapped on Earth because Arch has had the Pool Of Tears drained and the water evaporated. Lucky, Molly is there and able to create another portal which allows them back. I thought Molly could have been more used, but since she needs the time to get over the events of the second book, its understandable why Beddor didn’t use her more. Once again, I’d have liked to see more of the relationship between Alyss and Dodge, though they do get to gather at the end. In some parts you can see where Beddor has tried to fit this in, but I felt that a lot more could have been made out of it. More detail about their feelings and the struggle for them to be in love when there was so much else going on, could have added another layer to the story.

 

One thing I’ve found that I did really like about the trilogy was the art work used on the books. I was drawn to the images because they looked different and interesting. My copy of the third book is in hardback and on the pages dividing the book into pages are art works of Wonderland scenes. It reflected the art used in Alice. I don’t know if the hardback versions of 1 and 2 did this as well, because the paperbacks didn’t.

 

The ending works well, though I think I did want a little more out of it, but the characters have learned what they have to do and are able to complete their tasks. Beddor also seems to have issues killing off characters and I don’t like how he handled this, because it felt like characters who should be dead escaped it. I guessed also what would happened to the caterpillars- well anyone who’s read Alice will also know it.- It did feel like a nicely rounded off ending, but maybe it would have suited a more open ended one?

 

Overall, I found Arch Enemy a struggle to get through. It just didn’t grip me and it just lacked in the key areas of writing and adventure. For the last book in a trilogy, it feels pretty flat and predictable. The trilogy over all isn’t that bad and some parts I did find interesting and readable, but I just got bored of the repetitive fighting scenes, lack of real development in Alyss’s and Dodge’s relationship and the jagged jumping between characters. I would tell people to read this and come up with their own conclusion about it, though I would tell them that its not a re-telling of Alice or an adult version of the story.

 

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The Casual Vacancy Review- A Town At Poltical War

 

Hey readers, It’s another book review this post, but don’t worry I am working on the second DD chapter and should hopefully have it up soon. So, for the last few days I’ve been reading J.K Rowling’s latest book The Casual Vacancy. I’ve read about 150 pages now and have decided to stop reading it and maybe pick it up some time after Christmas. It’s not often that I put a book down after that many pages- especially when this novel is 503 pages long. But I’ve a number of problems with this book and that’s way I’ve stopped reading it for now. So in light of me not actually finishing the it, I’m not really going to talk about the plot much and I might have to do a follow up post on this later on. But here are my thoughts so far.

J .K. Rowling is known around the world as the creator and writer of Harry Potter and his series of seven novels. HP became a phenomenon across the different age groups and has a massive fan base. So, whilst everyone begged for there to be another HP book or even one that connected with it though background characters, Rowling decided to write a novel for the adult readership. That in itself is fair enough, writers like to experiment with different genres, age groups and themes. It helps give a freshness to their writing and allows them to be more creative. I’ve heard though-once again not read any reviews, that most of the HP fans are not so taken with The Casual Vacancy and I can understand why.

When I picked it up I told myself not to think about HP and not to compare it, for it was going to be completely different and yes it is. The front cover of the book is very bold with it’s red and yellow colours and the white lettering. The black x cross in the centre does draw the eye and it does look very attractive. The book itself-the hardback cover version-is large and heavy. Rowling wrote this book for adults, but it doesn’t look very adulty to me. The adult version covers they did for HP looked a lot better then this! I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but there’s just something about this ones that seems out of place. Yes, it is eye catching enough, but it seems to be aimed at a teenager/young adult readership.

The synopsis of the book begins with ‘A big novel about a small town…’ and that in itself sounds very interesting. We then learn that the novel is about the sudden death of Barry, who was on the Parish Council and that his now empty seat is about to start a big war in the town. Mixed into this are the sub-wars of rich/poor, teenager/parents, wives/husbands, teachers/pupils and neighbours/friends. So it does sound very exciting. But within the first 50 or so pages of this I still couldn’t get into it and was finding it hard to follow. Maybe that’s just me and believing that this book would be an ‘easy, light read.’ Also the main theme is politics and that really doesn’t interest me. The other themes are family, friendship, relationships, death and bullying. (Maybe there some more later on in the book.) There are also lots of characters, but I’ll get on to them in a minute.

So, first the plot, well there’s not really a plot, it’s more a story. The narrative is written in third person and switches points of view so many times; it makes you feel dizzy and lost. There’s just too many characters appearing in a short space and some of the switching does seem pointless. There’s also a number of different settings in and around the village. The first is the house of Barry and his family, followed by the golf club where he suddenly drops dead. There’s no time for the reader to connect with Barry and we are left in the hands of the other characters to view his life style. This does create some mystery, but also bias stories and I was left with a lot of different views about Barry. (Maybe this will become clearer later on.) The setting then moves through different characters’ houses, a shop, a school and other places. There’s really no centre setting to this novel, unless you count Barry’s house, but we don’t spend enough time there. So for pages that follow his death, we get all the other characters telling each other about what’s happen and spreading gossip. We get to see a whole range of reactions to this news, but also to the now vacant seat on the council. For me there’s just too much happening at once and too much repetitive. The plot really doesn’t feel like an adult novel, but more like a collision of different ideas and characters. I guess it would be better if there was less characters and more concentration of creating an actual plot line at the very start.

I had a problem with the chapter layout. It’s not really divided into normal chapters, but instead uses roman numerals to show the switching to a different character, the days of the week show the passing of time and there are pages with titles on them showing more movement of characters and time. I get the idea of having a fresher look to chapters, but this just doesn’t work. Well, at least not for me. It causes there to be too many breaks in the story, which means that it does flow and the pace is mixed from fast to slow. I guess that the passing of time is important, but as of yet I’ve not discovered why. Maybe it has political connections which I’m not aware of.

As for the characters, which I’ve been touching upon, I’m not taken by any of them. There are some interesting ones almost them like; Parminder, Krystal, Colin and Simon. Most of the others just seem to fall into the stereotypes of the people you’d find in a village; the gossipy shop keeper, the nosy women, the abusive father, the trapped teenagers, the stressed head teacher. The range is really covered by the characters as if Rowling wanted to allow everyone to have a character they could connect with. But I don’t think it’s possible, because there’s far too many. I struggled with the relationships between them too and often found myself wonder who’s wife, child, dog this was. Maybe it’s just me, but I found being stuck in the middle of all these families at once was hard to handle.

The writing style is meant to be for an adult readership. It hardly comes across as this though and a long/difficult word will often pop up as if Rowling suddenly realized she needed one. This just throws the flow off the narrative though and is really not needed. For the most part the writing is simple and seems very teenage/young adult like. There is also a lot of swearing and sex references, but these do work because the age and nature of the characters. For me and I knew I wasn’t going to compare them, but this writing is far from HP. and I know some people said that was badly written, but this just doesn’t have the style and I wasn’t very taken with it.

So, is this going to be the next biggest seller? I don’t think so…it’s riding on the back of HP in some ways, because nearly all the readership for this book will have read HP and seeing Rowling’s name on the cover will get them to buy it. For me this book is too big, confusing and the theme of politics just doesn’t interest me and does seem to be the focus of the novel. I’ve problems with the chapter layout, the language used and also the characters. I’ve read books with lots of characters before, which does switch pov and there’s no problem with this, but Rowling just doesn’t pull it off and I was left feeling lost in a sea of characters. I’d like to say that in the near future I’ll pick this book up and finish it, but I doubt it. I’ve so many other interesting novels to get through, that it’ll take me awhile, before I decided to give it another go and see if it does improve.

Images from: ratedreads.com

Lords of the Underworld: The Darkest Passion Review – ‘Can Aeron -Immortal Keeper of Wrath- sacrifice himself for love?’

 

Hey everyone, the next chapter of DD is taken sometime to get written mostly because of my writer’s block and my struggles to get motivated to write it. So, I thought I’d keep myself, the blog and the readership going by putting up a book review. (I was going to do this anyway, but the second DD chapter was meant to come first, but anyways.) So I’ve literal just finished reading and thought I’d get start straight away whilst its’ still all in my head. So here we go!

 

The Darkest Passion is book five in Gena Showalter’s supernatural romance series Lords of the Underworld. Now, like my last book review, I’ll have to do some backtracking but that shouldn’t take long and anyway there’s a lot of similarities between the LOTU and BDB books. I got into both series through my best friend and though I do prefer the BDB books, I get the same level of enjoyment out of the LOTU. They say book covers play a massive part in getting people to buy the book and LOTU have some very attractive covers! Topless men-very hot looking men-posing around showing off their butterfly tattoos with a range of colourful backgrounds. It makes it hard to pick a favourite….No, I’m not going to say!

 

The first book is The Darkest Night in which we are introduced to the Lords and learn some of their history. Now like with BDB- and no I’m not going to stop comparing them!- the books can be read as stand alone because Showalter has this great habit of filling the reader in with what has happened before. This can get annoying in series books, especially when the writer knows that the reader will have read the first one, but these supernatural romance books are designed so that they can easily be read by anyone. Of course like BDB the second plot is very liner and you do need to read the books to full understand this, but if you are only interested in love and sex, then I guess that’s not important.

 

Okay, so love and sex do interest me, but that’s not 100% why I read this genre. I like the second plot and I get very drawn to the characters. I also get caught up in the whole mystery of how the main characters will get together, how they’ll get over the first bumps in their relationship and how it all turns out. I also like the writing style of this genre and I’m finding that it mostly stays the same, no matter the writer-granted some are better written-I like the fast pace, the tension created between the lovers and their current situation relating to the second plot. I love the action scenes of fights and arguments and plans going well or wrong. I like the slowing down of the love scenes too, though these can be just as fast, but most times the books do get the balance right and its not all fast tense action.

 

The structure of the books is just the same as BDB. Each book tells the story of one Lord and how he finds his soul mate. The second plot story tells of the Lords’ war against their enemies the Hunters. Unlike the Lessers in BDB though, the Hunters are all human and they are against the Lords because they believe that the demons are to blame for all the worlds’ problems. This we learn is only true in parts though. The third plot is the Lords’ search for Pandora’s box and four artefacts that will led them to it. This ties in with the war because the Hunters are also searching for the items to lock the demons back up again. The fourth plot is very in the background because it has to do with the focus switching to other characters and the current events in their lives. Mostly these plot lines are not important and are just led in to other books or hints at information that will be made clearer later. The books are told in the 3rd person point of view. The focus does stay on the main Lord and his lover, but it switches to other Lords, important Hunter characters and other characters who pop up. However, this switching doesn’t affect the main plot and most of the information we learn from the other characters is important and gives the reader some time away from the lovers. We also have the thoughts of the demons and conversations between them and the Lords. This works well and gives more depth to the novels, it also shows how much the demons effect the Lords and that they play a major part in their lives.

 

The Lords then? I’ll try and not give spoils to the books, but here’s the basic background. The story takes the Greek tale of Pandora and the box. Everyone knows this tale and its’ been retold in so many different ways and mediums. Showalter has a few twists to her retelling and we learn these across the series. The Greek Gods created a band of warriors-called Lords-to defend them. They created the box and put all the world’s evils inside it. Pandora was chosen to look after it. When the box was opened and all the evils escaped, the other Lords were responsible for opening the box and killing Pandora-because they were jealous she had been chosen over all of them- were punished by having a evil- which is called a demon in the series-placed inside of them. They were then cast out of Heaven on to Earth, where they’re demons took over and for years they destroyed anything. They do manage to find a level of control and can now balance their demon sides. Now the demons are really interesting and there’s so many of them! Here’s a few of them; Death, Violence, Wrath, Defeat, Lies, Doubt, Pain, Misery and Disease. They do as their name says and feed off it too, they become really unhappy if that can’t happen and are effected by the opposite talking place. Like Lies can’t tell the truth and for him to do so would equal in a lot pain happening to his body. Lots going on there then. A group of the Lords live in Budapest in a massive hidden house. However, they do go outside and when they are seen people believe them to be angels etc and are in awe of them.

 

That’s understandable from Showalter’s descriptions of her Lords. They all have this perfect man image to them, but because they are immortal that’s like times by ten. Of course this plays up to woman readers male fantasies, but that’s completely expected in this genre. To be honest if this was a group of ugly men it just wouldn’t work! So, Showalter creates these dream hunks and then gives them all a dark background, which they have to deal with and of course they all come to terms with their pasts in some way. All of these pasts link to the actions of their demons and the opening of the box. They regret the problems they have caused for humans, but there’s nothing they can do. They now try to behave though and only punish those who deserve it.

 

The women characters in this series work on the same level as they did in BDB. The women are strong-sometimes even stronger then the men!-fast thinking, know what they want and how to get it. There’s no damsels in distress here! We get to see their soft sides from the males’ pov though and this does work, because it reminds the readers of the difference between the sexes and also because Showalter still needs to show these characters as being women. They are really strong heroines though and this is reflected in their thoughts and actions away from the males. Most of these women are not normal humans, (in BDB we had a mix of human, vampire, half-vampire and ghost), whilst some of them are humans they have supernatural powers that they only become full aware of and can name when they meet their lovers. Others though are minor goddess, harpies, angels, female Lords and possible others -I’ve not read the rest of the books, only up the 6th now-. Having them all different works to a good story telling advantage as more back stories, settings, tension and mystery can be created.

 

The hunter characters are made out to be the opposite of the Lords. Which is a strange thing to realise, because you’d think that having a demon inside of you would make you evil and so the Hunters should be the good guys because they want to stop the evil, but no. The demons are portrayed in a different light, okay this doesn’t make them good as such, but it shows that they are different now and being controlled. The demons can’t be blamed for all the worlds’ evils as was once believed. Thus the Hunters are shown to be the evil ones because they want to unleash the demons back on the world-granted they understand that they need to put them into the box because that’s the only way humans can be safe again-but sometimes they are so determined to kill they forget. The hunters basically want someone else to blame for their problems and they pick on the Lords. The other characters in this are either Gods, angels, demons from hell and background humans. I really like the way that Showalter has done the Gods and Goddess. Her research into the Greeks come out here and there’s a realistic sense with these characters. These characters do play important parts across the books….but that would be spoilers! The other characters do work well and we get to see development across the board with everyone. Which works, because you can’t have a mix of 3D and 2/1D characters.

 

So what is book five, The Darkest Passion about? The main story is about Aeron, the keeper of the demon of Wrath and his relationship with Olivia a fallen angel Wrath likes to punish and kill people who’ve committed sins and Olivia being an angel is completely pure and so he is attracted to her. However, Olivia recently became a warrior angel was meant to kill Aeron as punishment for taking a small demon, Legion, out of hell. (Back story to this was that Aeron was asked to kill four woman, one of whom turned out to be something very special. He refused and ended up going crazy with killing lust. His friends decided to lock him up close to Hell to keep him safe- you know because that’s what you have to do when this kind of stuff happens! Trapped there, a demon hears him and comes to keep him company. When the killing lust fades, Aeron returns with the demon). But Olivia is in love with Aeron and can’t do it, so she is kicked out of Heaven and becomes fallen.

 

Aeron takes care of her though he is determined to get rid of her, because though he has feelings for her, he knows it can never be. Olivia wants him desperately and tried a number of things to get him to let her stay. Her angel mentor comes to them both at different times. He tells Aeron not to soil Olivia but to show her his world, so that she’d want to come back to Heaven. He then gives Olivia a few days to have her fun and then she must return to Heaven and kill Aeron. Of course they fall in love, though it is a very rocky road. Legion becomes really jealous because she wants Aeron too, but he sees her as a daughter, so she sets out to change that. Also she can’t be around when the angel is and that bugs her. When Legion returns, Aeron finds himself stuck in a dilemma and has to choice between her and Olivia to save his friends and his life. Of course, things don’t go to plan and in the end Aeron comes to see his only way out which is in the hands of Olivia’s mentor. And of course whilst this is going on the Lords are fighting the Hunters, looking for the third artefact and living their own lives.

 

About halfway through the book, when I knew I was going to be writing about it, I got my critical brain thinking about a number of things. Most of it was the literature stuff, but one side of it was actually about how readers could relate to the themes and plot. I thought it’d be interesting to write about the other side of this genre because it can sometimes be over looked. The themes of the novel are; romance, relationships, friendships, sacrifice, good vs evil, war, mythology and supernatural. I’m going to just look at the romance because otherwise we could be here forever! So, of course readers can connect with romance. There’ll prop ally only be a handful of people reading this books who’ve not experienced it all, but properly have done on some level, but everyone should be aware of the basics of it. Readers can understand the struggle to find love and also the rejection feelings of not finding it. Aeron has given up completely on it, yeah he’s had girlfriends but things haven’t worked out and he’d rather just be with his friends not have to face all those relationship issues. Something everyone can relate to there. Olivia on the other hand has only been able to witness love and now she’s fallen is very interested to experience it. The start of their relationship isn’t filled with going on dates and getting to know each other. It seems that none of the other relationships have this start to them either. I can understand why Showalter did this though. For the cogs to work in the plot, the lovers must have instant attraction and feelings for each other. So, the building blocks of their relationship, comes from some small talk and some sex. But imagine if the Lords did take their girlfriends on dates…..wonder what that would be like…..Trying to avoid the normality of dates here!

 

Readers can relate to this because the lovers have that whole does s/he actually like me? etc stuff and everyone has experience of that. Also something else I forgot to say before and I noticed in my BDB review too, I forgot the sex. Granted, I still have Fifty Shades of Grey lingering in my head…God is that ever going to leave? I think my soul is tinted now… and that’s why I’ve been half avoiding/forgetting to write about that. Let’s just say that the sex scenes are much better and yeah they might take place between supernatural beings, but they do it a hell of a lot better and feels a lot more realistic too! Maybe it works because its not porn? Anyways, the readers can also relate to that. Now it was actually the part about sacrificing (I don’t mean killing something to a God here! I mean giving something up for someone else.) that got me wanting to write all of this, because it plays a key part in the novel and in a way it plays key parts in all relationships. Both Aeron and Olivia want to sacrifice things to allow the other one to be happy even if this means that their relationship ends and they never see each other again. It really does seem throughout the book that this is what they both want. But then we learn that Aeron is like that anyways and always puts his friends before himself and he’s very happy to sacrifice things for them. Olivia only ever witnessing from Heaven, knows this and that’s part of the reason why she fell in love with him and we see her given up things to allow Aeron to carry on living and be happy. In relation to real relationships, sometimes this sacrificing of things can be forgotten or left out. Other times, it becomes so strong it can break a relationship or else make it last longer. I guess we do this in friendships too sometimes.

 

In my new relationship, I’ve not had to sacrifice anything as of yet, but in my last I had to sacrifice a part of myself. Sometimes reading romance novels and deep thinking can make these thoughts appear. But yeah, I just wanted to bring that up and show that it does cover all aspects of relationships and there is some depth to the novels. Now, there are nine books in the series and then some more that link in to it which are about other characters. Dark Beginnings is like this and contains three short stories about the begins of relationships of characters which are already set up in the series. You don’t need to really read these though to understand the series as a whole…reading them in the right order helps that!

 

So do Aeron and Olivia get together at the end? Well…you’ll just have to read and find out!

 

 

Imges from;