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Title: Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Notes: Book 1/50

With a New Year’s Resolution to become a better writer and to read 50 books again (third time’s the charm, right? Or is this the fourth time I’ve tried this?) it seems the time is ripe to start writing in the blog again. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

Review: Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan, Neverland, and the Lost Boys. Peter Pan never wants to grow up, and Wendy, Michael, and John fly away with him to the land of mermaids and pirates and Captain Hook. Disney made it this cute fairy tale, but the real book is so much more.

First of all, maybe kids were made of sterner stuff when this was written, but this is not the watered-down Disney classic. When the lost boys get too old, Peter “thins them out.” And that’s the only reference to that ominous fact! What do you mean he “thins them out?” like….Peter kills the lost boys? Why do they age and he doesn’t? TELL ME, JM BARRIE! TELL. ME.

The story of Peter Pan is so much deeper, so much more than I expected. It is the story of childhood innocence and ruthlessness. How children crave growing up (most of them) but have this paralyzing fear of turning into something else. So they want to stop time, run away, and just live as children forever because at least they know who they are as children. Peter Pan and the Lost Boys kill pirates (seriously, they kill the pirates), save Tiger Lily from drowning, and face off against the Native Americans. But growing up? That’s really scary.

Peter Pan, as a character, is insufferable. He has the unbearable cockiness, selfishness, and single-mindedness that I’m sure is common in children. I made me want to punch him in the face. He constantly forgets who Wendy is, even though he taught her how to fly and brought her to Neverland. He thinks it’s hilarious to let the boys (John and Michael) fly to exhaustion because when they fall asleep, they drop like a stone and he has to save them at the very last moment. Everything is a game to him – nothing matters. Nothing that is, except a mother. Even  though Peter never wants to grow up, he wants a mother more than anything.

And that’s why he convinces Wendy to come to Neverland. He wants her to be his mother and tell him stories and tuck him in at night. They have this weirdly grown up relationship of a pretend mother and son, but it also has a strange undercurrent of sexual tension. She makes him take his medicine (it’s just water that she doles out with a dropper), tells stories, holds him at night when he has nightmares, but fights with Tinkerbelle over who gets to be the woman in Peter’s life. 

Eventually, (like MONTHS later) it’s time to go home and face growing up. She convinces all of the boys but Peter to come home with her and grow up. But, again (weird) Peter comes back every year if he remembers for take Wendy away for Spring Cleaning. And when Wendy gets too old, her daughter goes, and then her granddaughter goes, and on and on and on. I would never let my daughter fly away with Peter Pan. He’s obviously crazy, the pirates will actually kill you, and Tinkerbelle is a murderous bitch. Are you kidding me, Wendy?!

Bottom Line: Growing up is complicated and scary, but time marches on. There is something magical about being a child and believing in something so much that it becomes real, down to the lagoons filled with mermaids. But like everything, nothing is perfect. The mermaids try and drown you. The lagoon becomes a dangerous place at night. And the island is full of creatures that can kill you. On the flip side, growing up isn’t all bad. Sure, you lose the ability to fly and the expansive imagination of a child, but….you get bills? A job? And…wait, can I just take the flying part? 

Happy 2013! I’ve been horribly neglectful of this blog through a series of circumstances, laziness, and a lack of new books to read. But a new year equals a new reading challenge and equals new posts! I got a new job in Maryland and left the beautiful, warm, beachy Charleston for Maryland -__- My new job frowns on me updating my blog at work, which is why there have been a curious lack of posts since October. My creative juices flow best at work, what can I say? Also, my computer at home is a piece of shit that I just need to dump at the Apple store to wipe everything clean off of the hard drive and start over.

For those of you who don’t know, for the last 3 years, I have issued myself a reading challenge. I challenge myself to read 50 books in the course of the year. I started a blog because I thought it would keep me honest while allowing me to write on a more consistent basis. The rules:

  1. Books have to be new books (not new in the sense they are new releases, but new to me). I am a notorious re-reader which screws with my count
  2. All books must be completed by December 31, 2013
  3. For the book to count, there must be a blog post associated with it

The problem? I don’t know what to read! I’m looking for recommendations/suggestions or questions. I like literary fiction (please don’t suggest I read anything along the lines of Fifty Shades of Gray), fantasy, epics (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones), and humor. Actually, I like almost anything except Fifty Shades of Gray and Twilight. I like my literature to have gone through some sort of editing process, sorry I’m not sorry.

So here’s to a 50 book 2013! Maybe this is the year I’ll actually finish this challenge! ..Maybe. At least I didn’t give up fried foods or bread or other ridiculous things like a few people I saw on Facebook.

Proof you can find anything on google. "Deep fried books." I accidentally typed deep fried boobs. Not safe for work.

Proof you can find anything on google. “Deep fried books.” I accidentally typed deep fried boobs at first. Not safe for work.

 

Sorry I have been awful at updating this blog.  But I’m going to review a seriously hilarious book next written by a Maryland grad.  I’ve only read one chapter and I’m rolling on the floor! 

In A Nutshell

  • Genre: Paranormal Romance, Action, Adventure, Horror, Gore
  • Notes: The first of the spin-off series from the Night Huntress Novels. Not my favorite one, but I do really like this one. As far as the cover art goes: WTF?!
  • Recommended For: Fans of Frost, The Night Huntress Novels, Vampire Novels, Fans of True Blood, Fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Fans of The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series.

A book that continues the plot and adds to the Night Huntress canon while also being a pretty good book in of itself . . . This is the first of Frost’s spin-offs that delves into the relationship of Spade, Bones’ closest friend, and Denise, Cat’s best friend.

SYNOPSIS

The night is not safe for mortals. Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows—her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield—and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness—and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who lusts for a taste of her.

He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human—even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the nightmare together . . .

Because once the first crimson drop falls, they will both be lost.

So being the first spin-off, I was of course skeptical, but I really ended up liking this book. It falls after the fourth Night Huntress novel, Destined For An Early Grave, and afterwards comes the second spin-off titled, Eternal Kiss of Darkness.

There were several things I enjoyed about this book and overall I had a fine time reading it. I wouldn’t call it my favorite as it didn’t fully stand-out to me, but if you enjoy the rest of the series you’ll enjoy this.

As for what I liked: All the things I love about Frost are in this book. Her humor, her ability to introduce new exposition while keeping the current story moving, and her well-written characters. One thing I loved about this book that is completely different from any of her previous books in the series: You get to read from the hero’s perspective. Spade tells half the story and Denise tells the other half. I found that to be so new and different in this series, as we never read from Bones’ perspective. Oh how I wish we did.

The last we’d read about Denise, she was pulling away from the paranormal world after losing her husband to a zombie attack, and then seeing Spade kill a would-be rapist infront of her. Here Frost expands the paranormal world to introduce Demons. Which she previously had not included in her Night Huntress universe.

Overall I found this read fun, entertaining, and quick if a little underwhelming. Spade and Denise aren’t my romance-couple type. They’re more mushy, less bad ass. But that’s fine and it gets the job done. I think my only true critcism comes in the form of design.

cover artWhat the hell was Frost thinking allowing that to be the cover?! I have to admit, a little bit before I started this series and knew anything about Jeaniene Frost, I found this cover and joked about it. Literally pulled it off the shelf and had a huge laugh with my friend about this.

What’s wrong with this cover, you might ask?

1) Why does his head pull away from his neck at that awkward similar-to-a-giraffe angle?

2) Why does that girl look bored and tired, when there is a silk shirted, spineless, lothario glaring over her shoulder?

3) A silk shirt? Really?

4) She looks more vampiric than he does, she’s whiter than Edward Cullen!

5) Why does he have two black-eyes?

6) That is, maybe, the most unattractive and creepy face I’ve ever seen on a romance novel cover.

There’s just so many things wrong with this cover, that I can’t imagine it was even checked before they sent it to print. I mean I can’t imagine that no one tried to say anything about this. Even as simple as, “I mean, this is Frost’s first spin-off novel. Maybe we should try and market this a little better?”

We know Frost has a great sense of humor, but you think maybe she’d be like – “Who’s the freak on the cover of my novel? And why is he creepily gripping the heroine whilst trying to Tyra-Smieyes the reader?”

My friend and I laughed about this so much, I made a spoof of it later:

 Yes, indeed, I made “First Drop of Creeper” featuring my creeped-out friend, before ever reading a single Night Huntress Novel. I regret nothing. I also understand that romance novels, bodice-rippers, chick-lit all have their own sort of theme when it comes to cover design. I’m thinking about doing a post solely on RomNov cover designs. But this takes the cake. It’s like a blog post from GoFugYourself.com – A silk shirt, and no spinal cord? What more can a woman want?!

Clearly I could talk about this all day, but I’ll end simply by saying. Aside from the horrific cover art, the book is a nice read that I recommend, especially if you want to continue with the series as it introduces a plot-line for the next Cat-Bones book.

I even give this book ★★★★ because I believe it to be well set-up, a good, interesting plot, and a overall fun jaunt back into the Night Huntress universe. Enjoy with a bottle of gin. Just make sure you don’t make eye-contact with the creeper on the cover.

★★★★

In A Nutshell

    • Genre: Paranormal Romance, Action, Adventure, Gore, Horror, Drama, Angst.
    • Notes: Weakest premise of all the series so far, but also some of the strongest moments of character development.
    • Recommended For: Fans of Frost, Fans of The Night Huntress Series, Fans of True Blood, Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If only Frost had laid more ground work for this books premise, it would have been the strongest in the entire series . . . This books plot line has so much to do with my critique that I’m going to put it first:

SYNOPSIS

Her deadly dreams leave her in grave danger

Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they’ve fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it’s time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She’s having visions of a vampire named Gregor who’s more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn’t know about.

Gregor believes Cat is his and he won’t stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor’s hold over her. She’ll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she’s ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

Before I start to say what I found failing in the book I want to preface it by saying, that although I found the journey weak, the destinations were monumental. That being said, the entire plot line rides on the belief that Cat met a man name Gregor at the age of 15 and was whisked away conveniently to Paris all before she met Bones. But she doesn’t remember any of this because for some reason Mencheres was able to wipe her memories using strong green-eyedness and magic.

OK. Wait- what? The first time I read the beginning of this book I wondered if I could hire Sassy Gay Friend to go have a chat with Frost. I had that similar SGF thought at Frost, “What- What- What are you doing?!”

I can go along with a lot of plot lines – I mean I’m reading about a vampire-human hybrid that hunts vampires with her vampire husband and works for the government. Clearly I’m on board to stretch the realm of possibilities. But when you start to go so far off your own developed storyline to create a fresh villian, I have some problems.

It’s not that I don’t think the premise is a good one – It’s actually pretty interesting. The problem is it’s weak hold onto the rest of the canon. How can I believe that all of this back story happened when in earlier books Frost has gone out of her way to show that Cat can’t be “green-eyed”. The only hint Frost gives that there was any ground work for this exposition is that Cat has always disliked and distrusted Mencheres. So I’m not saying it’s completely impossible in canon, I’m saying that it seems a little too convenient. Like a sewed patch on a pair of jeans. It fits, kind of, but you know it’s patched on after the fact.

The first time I read this it took me awhile to get into the story. I couldn’t get over the critiques I’m mentioned, but let me say I am glad I did.

While I don’t applaud Frost’s method of getting to where she does in this book, I do applaud her outcome. This book has one of the most, if not the most important character development scenes in the Cat & Bones relationship. Many of their underlying issues, some of which as a reader I didn’t notice until they were named, are addressed in the way I like them to be – ANGST ANGST ANGST.

I’m an angst fan, I’ll admit. And I don’t mean Harry Potter Book 5 whiney-angst. I mean betrayal and heartbreak and what-ifs. That is the angst I find dramatic. Pre-pubescent bitching isn’t angst.

This book delivers in the angst category, but it also defends the purpose. While I am a fan of angst, I’m not a fan of poorly written, meaningless angst. There is nothing meaningless in the drama between Cat & Bones in this story. This may be the darkest their relationship gets – atleast so far in the series.

Beyond the wonderful angst there is also a sub-plot that Frost develops in preparation for the next book. I’m not going to say what as it is a spoiler, but I wanted to bring it up to point out another amazing thing Frost does as a series writer. Frost is able to fully develop and maintain a rising action, while introducing a new exposition or introduction for the next book. Which is why I criticize so harshly the exposition for this book. She doesn’t introduce it at all or even hint at it in any of the previous novels. The reader is truly blind-sided by it, making it even more noticeably awkward in the scheme of the whole series.

Overall, my only complaint is the weak justification of the exposition, but I absolutely love reading this book after you get over the initial “WTF?!”

After all that I wonder – did anyone else feel it was shoddily constructed in the beginning? I’d love to know what you thought.

★★★1/2