Review: Too Invisible by DebsTheSlytherinSnapeFan

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

About 5 years ago I found the webpage Archive of Our Own and found the world of fanfiction.   There are those fan fictions that really feel more like porn with plot, and there are others that take the original world and build an even more varied and elaborate world.  One such amazing writer is DebsTheSlytherinSnapeFan.

She has finished 5 full-length novels there and there are many that I still have bookmarked and refresh the page every day to see if there are any updates.  In a time where you think that “every possible trope and Harry Potter storyline” has been explored, she manages to provide original content.  I have actually begged her to write original work — she’s that good.

Basic Plot:
Harry Potter is the twin of the “Boy-Who-Lived”, Nick Potter.  Pushed into the corner of his family, Harry learns that he is invisible to his family and struggles to find his own indignity and future.  He finds his passion — potions and finds another family through a chosen family made of friends and advisors.  As the threat of Tom Riddle appears again, will he be able to avoid destiny and find his own path?

Harry:

Much of the Harry Potter we see in cannon and other fictions is bashed on his experience in the Dursley’s household.  His stature and need of approval and “rescue” is one that sets him up as gullible and susceptible to the machinations of Dumbledore.  But in this version, we see an independent Harry, one that thinks for himself from the very beginning.  Yes, there is a level of abandonment, but we have someone who has the strength of character to believe in himself.

 

By the time Harry and Nick were three, Harry had learned to do what few other children at the tender age of three should have had to do: he had learned to look after himself, bathe himself, and look after what toys he had.  He could, and did, read the books their parents had gotten Nick, who didn’t read them if he could help it.  Harry hid them under his bed so nobody could take away from him.

Harry learns at an early age to rely only on himself, adult will always let him down.

Severus Snape:

Early in on this novel, we only see Severus as an instructor and mentor.  This is not a novel that deals with under-age romance, so never fear about that.  This version of Severus is one that while, still made a poor choice as a youth, he has the love of his mother.  We can see in those story, that Severus having that positive influence, keeps him from being the bully he becomes in the novels.

He was startled when he read the register and realized Harry Potter was in his class. Looking for the boy as he called his name for roll-call, he found him in the corner of the room, ready to take notes after having written down the potion’s instructions.  Severus kept an eye on the boy all through the note-taking after roll-call, and right into the brewing after that.  The younger Potter twin was brewing his potion with a patience he had only known himself to show for the subject, but was still not sure what to think of the boy.

Severus learns how to be a mentor first, and then as the years pass, he finds he admires the man Harry has become.  As the world around them falls apart they learn to trust and lean on each other.

Theme Summary:

The biggest theme that I get out of this is that your past and family does not define who you are and can be.  If you have a rough childhood, instead of letting it control your future, learn from your pain a grow stronger.  Both Severus and Harry learn that their past does not define them.

Yes, life despite its tremulous start, had been very good to him in later life, he wouldn’t trade it for anything.  He wasn’t invisible anymore…he was loved.

Strong Points:

One of the strength of novel is the ability the author has in building a world.  The way she adds the layers of the potion world (not see in the movies) is fantastic and keeps it from being like every other Harry Potter fan fiction.

What could be better?

 

Because there is no editor, there are times within the 580,840 words that a good editing could move the story along.  There are some grammar issues as well, not enough to harm my enjoyment, but enough to know that this is not a professional book.  Considering that she is doing this for the love of writing, I certainly am not complaining.

Conclusions:

This is a Harry Potter fan fiction that have on repeat.  If I feel the need to immerse myself into a world for hours at a time, this is my go-to book.  And I can say that any of her work should be considered the height of Harry Potter fan fiction.

Bea

Review: A Desperate Arrangement — by mikkimouse

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

Fan-Fiction.  It has become something that I read 75% of the time now.  I keep going back to my Goodreads list of to-reads and no of my published books look interesting enough to spend money on.  Maybe I am getting burned out.

So, I have been checking out Archive of Our Own, checking out my favorite worlds:  Sterek, Larry, and Drarry.  I found a historical royalty AU for Sterek and it looked very interesting, it is always great when we get to see our characters in a new setting (and actual plot).  For some other Sterek fan-fiction recommendations see this review.

Basic Plot:

The kingdoms of McCall, Hale, and Argent are in a battle for control and land.  The tentative treaties are not holding and war is imminent.  Now there is a possible treaty between McCall and  Hale — the solution?  Marriage between Stiles and Derek.  But can this loveless marriage truly be happy and can it stop war?

Stiles Stilinski:

The personality of Stiles is consistent with the character on the TV show.  Stiles love his father and his brother (actual brother in this universe), Scott.  Stiles is the illegitimate brother of King Scott and acts as his advisor and magician.

The reminder stung, and Stiles bit his lip and turned away.  He and Scott had been not-so-subtly playing matchmaker ever since Queen Melissa’s official mourning period had ended, and Stiles didn’t want to take that chance at happiness away from Scott’s mother or his own father.  But… “So you’d ask me to be trapped in a marriage instead?”

Scott had the decency to look a little guilty.  “I know what I’m asking, ” he said, “and I swear I wouldn’t be asking it if I didn’t think you’d be at least content in the end.”

So we see Stiles sacrificing his own personal happiness for the good of the country.  This action demonstrates his sense of duty and integrity.

Derek Hale:

Derek’s character has alway been a complex one.  In A Desperate Arrangement,  Derek is the second son who already had a horrific engagement to Kate Argent which ended with Derek’s father’s death.  The guilt has beaten down Derek so much that he is a shell of the man he was before.  It certainly does not help that his brother, the King is a big ‘ol A-HOLE that I want to beat silly.  But to Derek, pack is everything and he is willing to destroy his life (based on his experience in the previous betrothal) to save his country.

Now, he rested in the corner of the courtyard after a grueling training session, doing his best to burn off excess energy and get his mind off everything.  Like his father, who would be scarcely three months dead when Derek was married.  Or the getting married, which reminded him of the rules Stiles had set down.  Or Stiles himself, whom Derek had done an equality good job of avoiding because he didn’t trust himself to be around his betrothed for five minutes without attempting something abominably stupid, like tracing the outline of those blue tattoos with his tongue.

I feel badly on how Derek has been treated, like an asset to be used, even by his family.  You get the feeling of how trapped he feels, which is even more powerful due to the werewolf nature.  The author does an excellent job of describing the inner animal and his PTSD reactions.

Theme Summary:

A simple theme of “Don’t judge a book by the cover” could be applied here.  Stiles is a bastard son, but he is loved and deeply valued member of the court and family.  He is easily discounted, but his verbal acuity has made him an asset.  On the same hand, Derek is a fierce warrior who has a sensitive soul that only wants to be of value to his family and country.  His sensitivity is also hidden, and his relationship with Stiles brings that to the surface as he heals.

Strong Points:

The world building in A Desperate Arrangement had me turning the page to learn more.  I loved how the author turned the Teen Wolf tension and character profiles and made it into an alternate world.  The author did a great job of describing the action scenes:

Derek immediately went on the defensive, but the captain seemed to know how to turn each parry into another attack.  If Derek pinned the staff to the ground, the captain slid forward to kick Derek’s knee.  If he knocked the staff to one side, the captain rolled it across his back and came at him from the other.  And when Derek aimed his staff at the captain’s legs, trying to knock him off-balance, the captain slammed his staff into the ground and used the momentum to swing himself around and kick Derek in the hip

I also enjoyed the chemistry between Stiles and Derek and their dialogue.

What could be better?

The only improvement I would suggest is that the mystery/adventure plot was to be expected and was tropey.  To be fair, this is due to the fact that all of the characters are from the TV show, so we can expect certain people to behave in the way that they did.  It did not dampen my enjoyment of the story, but I could see that if it was not so much fan-fiction the author would have had room to create more original side characters.

Conclusions:

Overall, I enjoyed the book, it was different that many of the other Sterek fan-fiction out there.  I will certain keep this author in mind for other works.

 

Bea

Review: Paws of Fury — by Veritas03

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

This week is another fan-fiction review:  Paws of Fury by Veritas03

I am a big fan of Fan-Fiction, and now in TV series like TeenWolf, I am frustrated with their inconsistent plot lines.  In Fan fiction, we get the freedom to not follow these lines, but create a whole new world or expand on an established one.

In Paws of Fury, we are in the Harry Potter world again and we have a romance between Harry and Draco.

Basic Plot:

Harry is full of anger and it shows.  Finally an angry tirade is interrupted by an old lady and she tells him: “Bellow, bluster… your rage is insignificant. No more than the mewing of a kitten. Do not be afraid. He will save you. Calm you. Love you.”  Now, Harry finds himself turned into a black kitten at the feet of Draco Malfoy.  Is this relationship real or just a result of a curse?

Harry Potter:

Harry’s character is much of what I would expect from the movies.  He is once again put into a position of undergoing an unknown threat and he rises to the challenge.  He has been crushed down by this angry he can’t control:

“The evil … it’s like this malignant force.”  Harry sighed deeply and looked at Draco.  Receiving the encouraging smile that he needed, he continued.  “I’ve been struggling with… these feelings of anger for a long time.”

Now Harry has found someone he can rely on and while being a kitten, he can stop being the hero.

Draco Malfoy:

Draco’s character is a matured version of what we saw in the movies.  To be fair, I have not read the books, so I can only go on the character we found in the movies.  But Draco is forced to mature and has left the past where it belonged.  But we still see him as his sassy self:

The door slid closed as he realized that Harry Potter, rather than getting off at the floor for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, still stood in the lift, stabbing him with a glare.  This might have intimidated someone who didn’t know the Auror as well as Draco felt he knew Potter.  Or someone who hadn’t hosted the Dark Lord of Terror and Insanity in his home.

Draco understands where Harry is in his life, dealing with these curses.  He understands unexpected anger and Draco is the perfect person to help him heal.  I love his nurturing character, something that shows growth from the character we saw from their past.

Theme Summary:

This is mostly a love story, a light fluffy romp in the city.  But this is also about accepting people for who they are, understanding the past is there and learning to love the person they are now.  For Harry, he has been feeling anger and sadness for years because of the curse.  He had almost felt like giving up, but his friends and work kept him going.  For Draco, his family and work kept him going, but he still had not found someone who he was properly matched.  With this conflict and what feels like fate, they are pushed together and find that they are more alike than they thought.

Strong Points:

I love when I open a book and can have a simple, warm love-fest.  While there are problems and conflicts, the relationship is not really one that we need to worry about.  This gives the author time to focus on the actual mystery story.

The scenes between Draco and Harry were great, there was a sweetness between them that we obviously did not have in the Harry Potter world.  Making characters that resemble, but are not exactly like who they were in the books/movies is a risk.  What happens when they are so different from the “bible” so to speak?

What could be better?

The plot is fairly simple.  What concerns me the most is that Draco’s character is really nothing like what was in the series: he is no way a selfish asshole.  Which makes this book entertaining, but makes the character more of “inspired” rather than developing an established character.  At the same time, we see the author has created a character of their own, which is what is expected.

Conclusions:

I love fan-fiction, and I certainly love being able to see established characters and seeing someone else can do with the basic ideas.  This book is a nice fluff-fest, which if you need to feel happy and light, then this book is for you.  No real drama here, just lots of cuddling with a cute black kitten.

Bea

Review: Life Renovations — by Windseeker2305

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

I am tired and burned out.  For the last 7 months I have been working my ass off at a new job, trying to fix my new house up, and weave into a new community and friends.  My entire life has changed, including what I do to relax and unwind.  After a little more of a year, I have lost 85 pounds, much of this is due to limiting my desk / bed activities.  Which means that I spend less time being depressed and reading.

Thus my slowing down at blog posting.  And the good news, my blog site is getting tons of book requests.  The problem? I have not posted a book review in months that I wanted to read originally.  Not that I did not enjoy the books, just that it becomes “homework” and I do not want to jump at reading them.  And then my busy schedule hits and I put things off.

And now here we are, over a month later and I am finally getting to a post.  I feel badly for authors that I have scheduled to review, but I just have felt such a huge level of burn-out at every point of my life.

So, not to digress too far, I decided to post a review that I WANTED to do.  This week is a series I have not finished, but I have been reading non-stop for over a week.  And this series is MASSIVE.

When I say this series is massive, I mean massive:  at 1,376,466 words, you get your fill.  It is Harry Potter fan-fiction, which as you know, I love me some fan-fiction.  If you want to check out the direct link go here.  Archive of Our Own is a wonderful place, and if you are in need of great free reads, this is a great place to start.  I have been reading some One Direction, Sterek, and Harry Potter fiction like crazy.

The Life Cycle series is one that begins somewhat  in the Harry Potter universe, but we move quickly into an alternate universe.

Basic Plot:

Harry Potter is rescued by unlikely new allies from his abusive Aunt and Uncle’s home.  From there, Harry discovers that he has a new mate, Draco.  But what other changes in Harry’s life can he expect and is he ready for it?  Can he and Draco rise to the challenges ahead?

Harry Potter:

Harry is good at hiding his problems; he has been hiding them for years.  However, as much as he thinks his body can heal, his spirit is dying.  As he becomes trapped in is own mind, someone, Draco discovers that there is much more to Harry than his fame.

Harry’s head started to move back and forth, and he groaned and started to shake.  Draco stilled his hands.  “Potter?  Can you open your eyes?”

“No, I’m sorry… I know I deserve it, but please… stop hitting me.”  Harry was clearly trapped in his mind, in his pain.

Draco growled deep in his throat, and glared at Harry’s relatives.  “No one deserves to be treated this way!  Especially not Harry Potter!  Do you know who this boy is?”  He yelled, still cradling Harry’s head in his lap.  “He is the Savior of the Wizarding World!  He is the only one who can save us!”

This becomes one of the challenges of the book and the series:  is Harry good enough to have everyone’s faith put on his shoulders?   One of the themes of this book revolves a great deal around Harry’s character development.

Draco Malfoy:

I love Draco.  He is the warrior, the passionate fighter who is completely devoted to Harry and their destiny.  Draco too, matures and becomes who he is meant to be, but I saw less of character development with Draco.  From the beginning of the story we see the connection between the two.  Despite all of the action and subplots, we have a huge theme of love and devotion:

There was something else though.  He knew deep down t his ache was caused by something else, perhaps someone else.  Draco sighed and dropped his forehead against the cool glass of the window.  As soon as his eyes closed, a flash of pained and frightened green eyes flashed into his minds eye, causing Draco to gasp and clutch at his chest with that hand.

“Potter?” he whispered.

What is interesting of this fan-fiction is that we still have the same Draco character we know from the movies and books, yet we see him walking down a different path than what the movies show us.  He is still dark, but his love and devotion to Harry and  Harry’s vision keeps him on the “right path”.

Theme Summary:

This is a large series, with much of it consisting of world building, action, and dialogue.  But all throughout the story and sub-plots, we hear this refrain: We must learn to believe in ourselves before others will believe and follow.  Leaders might be born for their roles, but they must have the heart to pursue their dreams.

Draco and Harry are born with a destiny, one which at first they are not ready for and must have both mental and physical transformations.  The three books step us through this process, moving us from one realm to another.

Strong Points:

The world building in this series is amazing.  The author builds multiple universes revolving around the Ukatae culture.  It is too much to go into detail here, but briefly they are ancient magical creatures.  They once were leaders and plentiful, but inner turmoil and strife has left them all but extinct.  Now, it is up to Draco and Harry to lead and build a new world.

The first book is about Harry and Draco resolving the wizard conflicts we are familiar within the books and movies.  The second book is a mixture of wrapping up that issue and building the tension of the “new bad guy” of the Ukatae plot lines.  Be prepared for a lot of sub-plots.  But, at least for me, I was never bored with them and I did little skimming.  Sometimes with fan-fiction we can see where an editor might be able to cut, and while I can see that with the second book (God was that long), the first and last book are pretty tight.

Keep in mind that you will want to read straight through, so I would go ahead and download all three at once.  Also, accept the fact that you will not be able to read this in a week, let alone a day.  Pace yourself, you will need it.

What could be better?

If anything, the series could use some editing, there is a lot of sub-relationships that we see, both in the wizard world as well as Ukatae.  However, at the same time, they move the plot forward and with every relationship that we see evolve, we learn more about the culture.  So, I would find it hard to eliminate any of the relationships from the books.

Also, these characters are DARK!  If you have any type of problem with ambiguous morality, then this series might not be for you.  I would not say they are “evil”, but they are not “goodie-goodie”.

Conclusions:

This is another example of why fan-fiction is so important.  It is a great place for new writers to get a launching board into creating their own worlds and develop their own voice.  I can see with Windseeker’s imagination going somewhere with their writing.  We need fan-fiction like this and places like Archive of Our Own to give people a place to grow.

 

Such a well written series. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Bea

Review: Rats’ Alley — by Auburn

Rats_alleyOther Reviewers: Goodreads

Lately I have been trying to save money for our new house by not buying so many books.  That combined with my new job and new friends means less time available to read.  Next week, I will be reviewing Rhys Ford’s Clockwork Tangerine.  But I just could not put this book down this week and was massively impressed with the concept, writing, and conclusion.  So I HAD to do a review of Rat’s Alley by Auburn this week.

Normally with any Fan-Fiction, the author either goes into two directions:  Same-world, just alternative storyline or alternate storyline.  I have written several book reviews and blog posts which are here.  For this book we have a post-apocalyptic setting, and while they are still werewolves and the same characters on the TV show, the setting and plot is completely different.

Basic Plot:

What happens to the Pack when a catastrophic electrical breakdown happens in society?  Will they all make it back to Beacon Hill?  Will they all survive?  Will this be the chance for Stiles and Derek to stop fighting their attraction and accept fate?

Stiles Stillinski:

Stiles has the same personality that we see in the TV show.  He is smart and sassy, always getting into trouble but uses his brain to find a way out.  The story is set farther ahead in time, Stiles is now 20, with Derek being 26, so no longer do we have that conflict of “dating a teenager”.  In the beginning of this book we see him in Mexico, south Mexico.  He is doing some magical training with Consuelo, a witch.  When the satellite phone stops working for several days, he knows something horrible has happened, so he begins his way back up Highway 1 to the pack in California.  Luckily, the old Jeep is old enough to still run, most of the other cars won’t start.

Through Stiles we start to see how it must feel to have to rely on only yourself in isolation.  He has to pack up and travel, alone in what he is beginning to understand is a something world-changing.

By the second day, Stiles had that crawling, hunch your shoulders and get ready to run feeling that always preceded another shit show.  He hadn’t heard from the pack in more than a week.  Derek insisted on weekly check ins — either someone called Stiles or he was supposed to call Derek to prove he was still alive.  It went both ways: Stiles couldn’t settle if he was worrying about the pack.  And now all he could do was worry about them and Derek in particular and, damn it, he should have taken his chances and said something to Derek before leaving, what if it was too late…?

We get that feeling of danger, tension, and deep feelings early on in the story that creates buy-in for their relationship to work.

Derek Hale:

Derek is one of my favorite characters on the TV show, and this book portrays his character correctly.  Derek is physically strong, and steps in when he should to protect those that he loves or to do the right thing.  We see early on in this book as he helps those in the car crash, that he has a moral strength in him to try to help others.  But always, in the back of his mind is loyalty and duty to the pack.  Pack always comes first.  Keep in mind that this is Derek at 26, so he has matured as a person and as an Alpha, so some angst we might have seen with his character in the TV has left.

“You’re back,” she said eventually.

“I’ve got water,” Derek told her.

“This is Alex.”

“Alex Komorovski.”

“Angela Bailey.  This is Billy.”

Billy peaked at Alex briefly then hid his face against his mother again.

They both looked at Derek.  Derek handed Angela a bottle of water and didn’t offer his name.

Angela alternated drinking and giving sips to Billy.  Alex winced when he saw Danny’s covered body and said nothing.  He sipped slowly at the bottle of water Derek handed him and squinted westward.  “Any ideas?” he asked eventually.

“Walk,” Derek replied.  A ragged line of people already had the same idea.  Some were headed west down the side of the highway, though a few were marching back, maybe figuring they were closer to a town in that direction.

Alex nodded.

“My grand dad has a house in Afton,” Angela said unexpectedly.  “We should go there.”

Derek shrugged and finished his own water.  “I’ve got to get back to L.A.”  He glanced down at Angela and Billy, then caught Alex’s gaze.  “keep the water.”

So we see early one from this quote that his focus is always the health and safety of his pack.

Theme Summary:

This book has  a lot of plot and action, so that always makes the theme harder for me to uncover.  But for me, the theme was simple:  Never give up, always move forward.  It actually reminds me of the quote (from Winston Churchill) that the counselor gave Stiles in the TV show: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  And that is what both Stiles and Derek do throughout this novel.  They have to go through hell to get back home, and even then there might not be a magical happy ending.

What did I love?

This author kicked it when it came to creating a dark and dangerous environment through writing.  I was amazed at how unnerved I was while reading it.  It gave me the same feelings that Stephen King’s The Stand did.  Not because she was stealing plot or anything, she just has the ability to so thoroughly build the scene that you are SEEING it, FEELING it, and TASTING it.  Be prepared, the first few chapters with Derek will have you drawn into the storyline quickly and it will be hard to put the book down.

A river of weekend gamblers were pouring back to the LA basin – Derek’s bail jumper had been one of them, now in the hands of the Las Vegas PD – and Derek let his foot press down the gas a little more, half intending to pass the mini-convoy of semis ahead of him.  The SUV coughed and died instead; not just the engine but the electronics as well.  Swift reflexes and strength let Derek wrestle the steering wheel right, hard enough to bounce off the Interstate and maintain control as it bounded onto the shoulder at eighty-five miles an hour.  The SUV pin-balled and smashed sideways between two other vehicles in a horrendous screech of metal on metal and dust rose in a choking cloud around it.

So, the writing is compelling, but I also liked how the relationship of Sterek evolved through this book.  We can tell based on when it happens that the friendship is strong, and they already do love each other, just neither had moved it to the physical because of fear of hurting the friendship.  This story starts at that point and then because of nature of the trip, we don’t have sex every five minutes.  There is actual plot and character development.

I also loved how the author ended this book.  This is a traveling story, when the environment and journey IS the story; how Stiles and Derek handle the problems along the way back to Beacon Hill.  So, as they get closer and closer, while the book is still building tension, you KNOWN that more trouble is coming.  It was a great way to build the suspense within the storyline.

What could be better?

I really could not think of anything better about this book.  It is fan-fiction, so some editing might be expected (not for spelling but rather for pacing), but other than that it was a great book.

Conclusions:

I have a love for fan-fiction, no doubt about it.  What I like about it is the freedom to take something that originally was well thought-out in characterizations and world creating.  Fan-fiction gives us a chance to play with the world and plot, giving us something new and exciting that is not limited by society, ratings, producers, or the networks.

In Rats’ Alley, we see this in action.  The storyline is epic in scope and direction, more than “just a romance”.  You will go through numerous emotions:  fear, hope, pain, lust, love, and determination.  When the ending happens, it makes you feel glad, but only when you realize that some things will never be the same and we can only adapt.

This is a wonderful book, and I hope that this fan-fiction author goes on to become a professional author because she certainly has the skill to do so.

Bea

Review: Enemy Lines — by qhuinn (Tekla)

Enemy_LInesWhen I am feeling stressed or depressed, I go to my comfort books.  And this week, despite the fact that I have three Advance Reader Copies to read and complete reports, I just wanted to read about Sterek.

I have written about Fan Fiction before, and certainly about my love for Sterek classics like DILF.  I’ve been reading Fan-Fiction since June of this year, and it’s a great way to get to read a lot of great free books.  If you want to know anything about the phenomena of Sterek from Teen Wolf, then Tumblr is the place to go.

I have read most of my fan-fiction over at Archive of Our Own, their search methods are great.  If you want to know more about the Sterek fan base or fan fiction then start by following Cole the Wolf, Dira, and Twentysomething.

The fictions can range from being very similar plot wise to the show or more like porn with questionable plot.  I have read some excellent books that I think could be published, and then I have found some to be so sophomoric in nature that they read like stereotypical by preen-teens day dreams. No offense to preen-teens who are probably excellent writers.

This week’s blog post is specifically about a book called Enemy Lines, by qhuinn (Tekla).  You can find the direct link here to the fiction at AO3.

Basic Plot:

This is an Alternate Universe (meaning while the characters are similar, they are not set in the similar environment that the original source).  The world is a human versus werewolf setting, so think a post apocalyptic setting.  A war has broken out and cities have been captured by the werewolves.  The town of Beacon Hill is human based and controlled by the Argents, with Stiles’ father, the Sheriff is siding.  Derek and his pack come back into town with vengeance in mind, starting with Sheriff Stilinski.  Stiles is taken instead, and while now there is more than just a war between species, there is a civil war brewing on both sides.  Will Stiles and Derek survive?

Stiles Stilinski:

While this is an alternate, character of Stiles is very similar to the original Teen Wolf one.  His morals and actions, I found to be similar and believable.  What drives Stiles, his every action is to protect his family.  In his case, this is his father the Sheriff.

The guilt roots and twists inside of him and he no longer wants to tell his father, not because he wants to protect him, but because he thinks his father will blame him.  Because it was Stiles’ fault.  All of it.  And he knows.  So how couldn’t his did if he knew the truth, too?

This guilt (misplaced) is what drives most of the plot from Stiles’ perspective.  I found that I could relate to his character and his reactions to events were exactly as how I would react.

Derek Hale:

Ahhhhh Derek, our poor tortured Alpha.  Derek is typically portrayed here.  Early on in the story as the two men meet, we can see how focused Derek is on his mission:

This human has been bathing in regrets and mourning for a long time.  It should be easy to break him in order to gather information.

“The dog breath will kill me first if you guys take too much longer,” the human huffs in a show of exasperation.  And that’s when Derek recognizes him.

It’s been years since he last saw Mrs. Stilinski’s son, but Derek can still see her in this gawky boy — especially her defiant nature.

We see Derek as the result of the horror of his childhood and the death of his family by the Argents and the subsequent years of war.  He is hardened, and this can be seen in the previous scene.

Theme Summary:

Part of this can be seen in the title of the novel, Enemy Lines.  In an obvious sense, we have two men who find each other literally “behind enemy lines,” and they both cross emotional and physical boundaries to find each other.

Stiles never thought he’d find his place in this world when he was once dragged behind enemy lines.

But for me, this is too obvious, and I found the theme to surround more of the responsibility of duty.  For Derek, he has become an Alpha, following his Alpha uncle Peter for the war.  He has to decide of his lust for revenge and following the chain of command is worth it, is the man he has become worth what it is doing to his soul?  On the other hand, Stiles must move past the his traumatic past and accept the man he has become.  Neither men  is safe in either society and neither wants to be a part of what is unfolding.

Strong Points:

The writing within this novel is very strong, I could see this being published with very little changes needed.  The plot is consistent and the pacing is steady.  There were very few times when I wanted to skip ahead.

What could be better?

The bad characters, are very flat and very evil.  So while they were stereotypical, and they fit with the series.

Conclusions:

Overall, this is one of my favorite Sterek fan-fictions.  I love how original the plot is and how dynamic the culture is.  We get vibrant descriptions and well written dialogue here.  I will certainly be looking up further novels by this author.

Bea

Topic: So… Why Write Book Reviews?

This week’s post is more of an editorial, mostly because I just moved to another state and last week was my first week at the new job.  Which, on a personal note, was one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever had at a job!  So, not a lot of time for reading, but I do have a topic I would like to reflect on.

Why do we write book reviews?

I’ve already written about why I have this blog, and very little has changed since I started this on October 2011.  (Wow, just realized it has been two years since I started this blog!).  I began it because I love reading books, and I have always had a passion for writing.  At one point I thought I would be a famous writer, and I guess my desire to be famous was stronger than my talent.

But I suppose we all do this thing called book review because we think we could be helpful to other readers.  Of course there is a part of me that understand that publishing feeds our egos, “hey, someone else thinks we have value!”  But at least for me, it is just an opportunity to be of worth in our society, to say that our actions made a difference, no matter how insignificant to others.

Where do we write book reviews?

There are many places that we can do these expressions of opinion:  personal blogs, group blogs (think places like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), or other public places like Amazon or Goodreads.

The first thing you have to ask yourself is this though:  when it is not your personal blog, “what is the agenda for the site?”  Because, unfortunately, any time money is involved (and hosting a huge review site IS a business not a philanthropic endeavor).

Yes, I am hinting (not so discretely) about the shenanigans that have gone on recently regarding the buy-out of Goodreads by Amazon and the controversy of possible censorship that has occurred since then.

I am not going to weigh-in on that specifically, other than to say that the original purpose of Goodreads was for “readers”, not publishers of novels.  With the purchase of Amazon and the changes in policies within Goodreads, it appears that the purposing now is more toward selling books as opposed to having open, honest discussion regarding books.

That brings me back to the original question, “why do we write book reviews?”

We Love Books and the Characters

Remember the last book that you read that drove you to cry at 3:00am?  You risked being late to work/school, but you could not put the book down because the characters were going through something that was so griping and so compelling that you just could not put the book down.

When you got into work, did you talk about the book to all of your co-workers?  Maybe, depends on the office, but most likely they do not have your Sterek obsession, they would certainly think that a woman in her 30s should not have such a passion about a show called Teen Wolf and the fan-fiction that has since spawned.

Now, imagine a place (a safe place) where you could discuss how that book affected your life and what was great about it and perhaps what was not so great about it.  I used to think that places like Goodreads might be able to house that safe-haven, but I think now we have to understand that any place that operates for business, for money, will only listen to the highest bidder.  And you and I, my lovelies, will never be the highest bidder.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I so can’t help but think of the Buffy episode now.

For me, my voice will always be here at my blog.  I can control it (for the most part), I pay for it and certainly no one has asked me to change my opinion.  There have been some discussions along the way with authors, when I have not been rainbows and bunnies about their novels, but not one has asked me to take my post down.

When you are at a place like Amazon or Goodreads, there are things that we sign (you know all that legalese we just click-through when we sign up) that basically signs our rights away.  So, part of me just says to “suck it up.”  The answer then is, “if you don’t like their policy, then leave.”  And believe me if their 20 million readers all decided to use another platform, they would no longer get the financial backing that they have now.  Am I advocating that? Not sure.  Again, I really has no dog in this fight now.  I have noticed the bullying in the past 6 months from groups who (even have stalked) posters because they did not post fawning posts about an author or a book.

Is There Anywhere That is Safe From Trolls?

Do any of you play MMOs like World of Warcraft?  It seems, no matter where you go, there will be some punk that will spawn kill you, talk about your mother is not so flattering terms, or steal your stuff.  Unfortunately, the anonymity of being online means more ass-hats.  Book reviews are apparently no different.

However, I have set up an account over at Booklikes you can see me at (http://bea.booklikes.com).  It has allowed me to import all of my book from goodreads.  But those book reviews at Goodreads?  They could all be gone some day.

Conclusion:

So I think going forward, this place, Bea’s Hive is where I put what I am most passionate about, where I can have a “voice”.  This is the beginning of year 3 for me in blogging and book reviewing and I have no intention of stopping.  I love reading about romance, and I love talking about these characters as if they are really alive.  If there was ever a time when I could not give my honest opinion about how I felt in my experiences, then it would be time to stop blogging.

So, I suppose my answer is that Bea’s Hive will always be the first place I go to review a book.  Place like Goodreads or Booklikes is where I will go to receive information from others, but I am not sure if I will ever feel like “bearing my heart” there.  Although Booklikes seems to be a place that is more “blog-like”, I still feel like I am talking in someone else’s house rather than from the security of my own.

What is important to me is being true to oneself.  Hokey, huh?  But I do this because I love books and love being honest about my opinions.  So when I write a blogpost/review, what I want to do is inform others.  It does not matter if I like or hate a book, the point is that if we value books, we must also value all discussions.  As Thomas Huxley once said, “Freedom and order are not incompatible… truth is strength… free discussion is the very life of truth.”

Bea