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Profile for Vanessa M. Dow > Reviews

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Content by Vanessa M. Dow
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Reviews Written by
Vanessa M. Dow "Vanessa D" (Ontario, Canada)

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by Kiersten White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.00
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun times!, Jan. 24 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Paranormalcy (Hardcover)
I have been following Kiersten White's blog for a while now. It's one of my favorites. Her sense of humor always gives me a good chuckle. So, naturally, her debut novel has been on my must-read list for a while.

The witty writing style is definitely the star of the show as far as I'm concerned. Just about every page has some little quip, comment, or description that made me smile. I think my favorite one is the way Evie's best friend (a mermaid who has her comments translated by an uncooperative computer) swears: "Oh, bleep."

I also love Evie's take on the paranormal world she lives in. Vampires are desiccated corpses with a sexy glamour covering it up. Werewolves are not fun and friendly, but best suited for jobs in the security field. Faeries are pure evil with a slick of pretty on top. And don't even get me started on the hags. Evie wants nothing more than to distance herself from everything supernatural and be just a normal girl. So when she starts to realize that she might not be as entirely human as she thought she was, she's far more frightened than she's ever been of a mere vampire. Actually, I may never be able to think about vampires the same way after reading this book =o)

My only real complaint here is that the story is a little generic in some ways. If not for White's snappy writing, this book wouldn't really stand out at all. As it is, though, you've got a great read for fans of YA paranormals.

Plain Kate
Plain Kate
by Erin Bow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.78
47 used & new from CDN$ 2.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Anything but plain, Jan. 24 2011
This review is from: Plain Kate (Hardcover)
This book started off a little slowly for me. Then the cat started talking and everything was golden from there on in. I was completely enraptured by this story. I laughed, I cried, I even found myself holding my breath at times.

Erin Bow has drawn from the threads of Russian folklore to weave a rich and beautiful story world. Katerina Svetlana (nicknamed "Plain Kate") lives in a land full of superstitious peasants, dark magics and mysterious gypsies. And also the aforementioned talking cat. Did I mention that I loved the cat? The writing is perfect. Each and every setting has a detail that makes it memorable, without the prose being so wordy as to leave you bored.

When Kate is accused of being a witch and forced to leave her hometown, she makes a bargain with the magician Linay. Her shadow for aid on her journey. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but as Kate begins to understand the implications, she realizes that she may have unleashed a terrible curse on the entire country. What follows is a powerful story that should capture even the most jaded reader. The stories are different, but the feeling is akin to a less-traumatic Tender Morsels.

Bitten: Women of the Otherworld
Bitten: Women of the Otherworld
by Kelley Armstrong
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.19
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, Jan. 24 2011
Since I'm stuck waiting for the next book in Armstrong's YA series to come out, I decided to take her adult fiction for a spin. My feelings are mixed.

On the positive side, I really liked Elena as a main character. She's a tough chick from a rough past who's doing her best to be a good person and live a normal life. I can respect that. I liked her outlook on life and was oddly charmed by her suspicious nature. Her life as the only female werewolf in existence isn't an easy one, so I though that the cynicism suited her. I also enjoyed the various characters of the Pack, and the interactions between them. One of the facets of werewolf stories that I really enjoy is the intermingling of the human and the animal in different kinds of relationships, and this book does a great job with that.

Things I didn't like: the exposition went on FOREVER. There's a ton of cumbersome flashback scenes through the whole book. It really slowed the otherwise great story. I also had trouble getting into the Elena-Clay dynamic. I couldn't figure out why she was attracted to him because he seemed to be such a complete jerk. It's hard for me to buy into a romance that doesn't have even a shred of tenderness.

I think the series has promise, so I'm going to read the next book. Overall, though, I was a little disappointed.

by Gail Carriger
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful!, Jan. 24 2011
This review is from: Blameless (Mass Market Paperback)
Just when I thought Alexia couldn't be any more entertaining, we meet Alexia with morning sickness. Armed with her trusty parasol and accompanied by woman of mystery Madame Lefoux and the trusty butler Floote, Alexia sets off on a cross-European trek to clear her name. Meanwhile, her husband is drinking himself into a stupor. Why do women always have to do everything? The story is full of action and surprises as Alexia and crew, as well as those back home, encounter one obstacle after another. Carriger's dry sense of humor ensures a laugh or at least a smirk on every page. Loved it!

Spy Glass
Spy Glass
by Maria V. Snyder
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.91
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, annoying MC, Jan. 24 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Spy Glass (Paperback)
This was my favorite installment of the series. I can tell you why in one word: Valek! He gets a lot of page time here, and since he's one of my favorite fictional men, that's a very good thing.

My feelings about this book are pretty much the same as for the rest of the series. Good story, great worldbuilding, annoying main character. I just can't bring myself around to liking Opal. At best, I can manage tolerant respect, at worst I want to plug my ears and hum whenever she talks. So mature, I know.

But lest I completely turn you off the series, I have to say the story is very exciting. There's a jail break, love found and lost and found again, a seriously twisted evil guy, and a crazy cult. And Valek. It's a good story, people! Maria V. Snyder is definitely on my auto-buy list, even if she has written a rather irritating protagonist.

by Alexandra Adornetto
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.55
64 used & new from CDN$ 1.41

2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, Jan. 24 2011
This review is from: Halo (Hardcover)
This is such a pretty book. Sigh. It's really too bad that this book didn't live up to that promising cover.

My problem with this book is the main character, Bethany. The girl is a limp noodle. She spends all her time micro-analyzing and self-reflecting to the point where I'm not sure there was page time for anything to actually happen. And let me tell you, social analysis conducted by someone with no social experience gets boring quickly. Bethany does have an innocence that is mildly charming, but I just couldn't get over her constant navel-gazing.

I have to say I'm extremely impressed with Australian author Alexandra Adornetto for completing her published novel at the tender age of seventeen. Her writing style is strong and descriptive, which is why I kept reading for so long when I really felt no connection to the characters. I have no doubt that HALO will find a large appreciative audience. Just sadly not with me.

Head in the Clouds
Head in the Clouds
by Karen Witemeyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.68
28 used & new from CDN$ 6.87

3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and charming, Jan. 24 2011
This review is from: Head in the Clouds (Paperback)
Since I very much enjoyed Witemeyer's debut novel A Tailor-Made Bride, I was happy to jump on this follow up.

Single father falls for attractive nanny is such a frequently-used device in romance fiction that it takes a very strong leading couple to make the story feel unique. In my opinion, we've got about three quarters of a strong couple. Adelaide gets full marks. She's a little absentminded and prone to flights into nonsense, but her energy and imagination more than make up for that. I want her as a governess for my children! Gideon was just ok for me. He felt a little cold and removed, which made it difficult at times to really buy into the romance.

Once again, Witemeyer's secondary characters are fantastic. Isabella was by far my favorite. She's five, the same age as my own daughter, so I was definitely caught up in her whimsy and charm. Various other household staff (Apparently a staff of four are needed to care for a family of two. No wonder I can't ever keep up with my housework.) and farm hands lend their individual personalities to the landscape and really make the story work.

The evil uncle added a pleasant amount of danger and suspense to this story. Pleasant for me, at least. I think the characters found it distinctly uncomfortable. I wish we could have done without the chapters that were specifically about the uncle- I felt like the change of setting and character broke up the flow of the story. Overall, though, I definitely enjoyed this book.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
by Joanne Fluke
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't grab me, Jan. 24 2011
This book was just middlin' for me. I thought the mystery was well thought out and intriguing, and I liked small town setting and baker-turns-detective idea. The recipes in the book are divine! I guess the characters just didn't quite pull me in.

Hannah Swenson is just a little too perky for me to take on in my sleep-deprived state. Her mother drives her crazy, she lives alone and her best friend appears to be her cat. Just why exactly are you so bubbly, lady? Must be the sugar high =o) And the nerdy dentist as love interest concept just doesn't do it for me. This is all getting to realistic for my taste. This is more of a personal issue, and I know lots of people will adore Hannah and her bespectacled beau.

As I mentioned before, the plotting in this story was impressive. I was really trying, and I didn't figure out whodunnit until right at the end when it was all but served up on a silver platter. This book is a great option for cozy mystery fans looking for their next read. The series currently stands at (I believe) fourteen books, so you've lots to catch up on.

You may want to get this book out of the library for no other reason than to copy out the recipe for Chocolate Chip Crackles. These cookies are ridiculously good. But be careful! They may be (haha) murder on your diet.

Remarkable Creatures: A Novel
Remarkable Creatures: A Novel
by Tracy Chevalier
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.56
112 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, Jan. 24 2011
Remarkable Creatures is one part history, one part novel. It follows the known events in the life of Mary Anning, filling in the unknowns with fiction.

As history, I thought it was excellent and very interesting. I'd never heard of Mary Anning before, but in a way she was responsible for huge sections of science as we know it. Mary Anning was the woman who discovered many of the first dinosaur fossils to be recognized for what they were. As a woman, she got little if any credit for her discoveries, and the book details to some extent her struggle for legitimacy.

What I found most interesting was the impact these discoveries had on society. Dinosaurs and tthe theory of evolution are so familiar to me that I don't think twice about them. But when these fossils were first discovered, it was earth-shaking, calling into question the basic assumptions about the world that most people took for granted. It would be as if someone came along and told you that the earth is actually a ticking time bomb created by aliens as a weapon in an intergalatic war. Actually, it would be more than that, because these discoveries were made during a time when the majority of people thought the same way about things, and speculation into alternate possibilites was frowned upon. The way this book explored the societal impact was new to me and completely fascinating.

As a novel, Remarkable Creatures didn't really grab me. The friendship between Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning is supposed to be the driving force of the drama, but I wasn't really buying it. They kept talking about how important they were to each other, but I never saw and felt why that was. It was ok, but not the world's greatest friendship that the cover copy made it sound like.

Aunt Dimity's Death
Aunt Dimity's Death
by Nancy Atherton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.48
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected, Jan. 24 2011
Aunt Dimity's Death isn't exactly a typical mystery novel. There's no crime to be solved, but rather an intrigue to be unravelled. So it wasn't quite what I expected, but I did really enjoy it.

When the news of Aunt Dimity's passing reaches Lori, she's in the midst of a very hard time. Her marriage has ended, her mother recently died, and she's stuck temping at a series of horrible jobs. When the letter from fancy law firm Willis & Willis arrives, it seems like the perfect escape hatch- so perfect she has a hard time believe it to be true. Accompanying Lori on her journey is Bill, the junior Willis on the letterhead. It seems Bill might just have an ulterior motive for helping Lori, but what could it be? I have to say, Bill was a little bit annoying, but he also cracked me up. He's a bit like a big galumphing puppy dog that hasn't quite grown into its feet. He made the perfect counterpoint to Lori's overthinking and suspicious nature.

While there isn't a crime in this book, there is definitely a wrong in need of righting. Lori and Bill discover that Aunt Dimity had a bit of a dark secret in her past, and they are determined to discover what it is. Through it all, Lori manages to learn, not just the secrets of the past, but some important lessons about life and love.

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