blo Teens Read and Write: Ballad Review in Conjuction with Blog With Bite

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ballad Review in Conjuction with Blog With Bite

James Morgan has an almost unearthly gift for music. And it has attracted Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and then feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. James has plenty of reasons to fear the faeries, but as he and Nuala collaborate on an achingly beautiful musical composition, James finds his feelings towards Nuala deepening. But the rest of the fairies are not as harmless. As Halloween—the day of the dead—draws near, James will have to battle the Faerie Queen and the horned king of the dead to save Nuala's life and his soul.

To kick off my reading of
Ballad, I first read Lament which focuses more on Deidre -- her problems, her relationships. One problem I had with Lament was that there was not enough of James and his amazing-ness.

Luckily, Ballad highlights my favorite James traits: loyalty and cheeky/cocky attitude. Nuala is just as spunky and forward which makes for a perfect match for my fave musical smart aleck.

The chapters switch from first person James to first person Nuala. My brothers always knew when James came back into the story because they could hear me chuckling or see me smiling.

I read Ballad in one day, just a few hours, because, unfortunately, I started skimming...a lot. In general, I prefer plot/action driven novels rather than predominately character driven ones so the fact that I finished
Ballad is a testament to how wonderfully fun and snappy James is written.

I would have loved this book a lot more if I hadn't read the book jacket which had me waiting for things to progress to the
James battling the Faerie Queen and the horned king of the dead to save Nala's life and his soul part. That doesn't happen until about the last 100 pages.

I thought the faerie plot was lacking. I understood that James couldn't do too much detective work because, you know, he's human. He can't see faeries unless they want him to (and they typically never do), and you can't find clues or skillfully interrogate things you can't see or hear. But since we flip to Nuala's perspective about every other chapter, I assumed we'd make discoveries along with her. But, you know what happens when you assume...

The faeries work hard to keep Nuala out of their business and what little we learn of the faerie plot doesn't allow you to make a guess at what will happen. That's part of the fun - trying to solve the mystery, but you really can't until the very end when everything is laid out for you.

Ah, the love triangle. Deidre...Dee is annoyingly Bella-like in her helplessness and treatment of Jacob, uh, I mean James. It was irritating to have to read her whiny unsent text messages. It does tie in towards the end, but that doesn't take the edge off the vexation. Deidre actually makes you love Nuala more, especially when the soul-snatching faerie echos your own thoughts of Deidre.

James. Let me just say...Yum. James is fantastic. Nuala is on the same playing field. The romance is simultaneously hot and sweet. It's a solid read for those desiring paranormal character driven romance but the romance is the plot and I prefer more action. But even accepting that it is a straight romance, I didn't feel any major conflict with the lovers until over halfway through the book and I felt the conflict should happen earlier to give the plot more meat.

Perhaps reading Lament and Ballad back-to-back wasn't the smartest move because I kept comparing the two... and Ballad came up short. On it's own, Ballad is a solid paranormal romance that has interesting characters who will stick with you and leave you wondering about the rest of their story.

1. James is a flawed and heart broken character, do you find his mental peculiarities charming or annoying? Please do explain.

I found his mental peculiarities oh so charming. I loved James. He perceives the world in a unique way. He's smart, uber smart, so the world and those in it bore him. It makes him arrogant and he has to work hard to cope with his boredom. It's his individuality that makes him so likable and his flaws that make him relatable.

2. What did you think of James and Dee's kiss? This being a pivotal moment for their relationship, how do you think it changed James?
I thought it was hot. I so got my hopes up and Dee's words crushed me like I really was James before I flipped into a protective Nuala-like mode and instantly deemed Dee as unworthy. I think the kiss allowed James to let Dee go in the end.

3. Whom do you prefer Dee or Nuala?
Nuala! Nuala! Nuala! She's saucy. She's confident. She keeps you on your toes. Dee is a wimp. Yes she has a hard life, but so does Nuala and the faerie rises to the challenge with sass.

4. What's your verdict on the best way to read Ballad? Is it a stand alone book or do you need to read Lament first? If you read Lament, what did it add/not add to Ballad? If you haven't read Lament, do you think it would have added to your reading of Ballad?
Do NOT read Lament first. Ugh. I so wished I hadn't. Yes, Lament sets up James' and Dee's relationship, how close they were and how it fell apart. But in Lament, Dee is strong and smart. Her character pulls a one-eighty in Ballad, morphing into a wishy-washy whiner with no backbone.
You don't have to have read Lament to be able to understand everything that goes on in Ballad. Ballad focuses on James and Nuala's budding love. Lament focuses on Dee and the different kinds of faeries bothering her. By reading Lament I understood a bit more about the faerie politics going on, but I don't think I would have had trouble following Ballad if I hadn't read Lament.
I suggest reading Ballad first and Lament second. Both love stories, both wonderful.

5. We've been reading a lot of stories with fairies as the central paranormal creatures. What are your thoughts on the "Fair Folk". Do you believe in faires?
I don't so much believe in faeries, but I do like them as villains. In fact, they're my favorite paranormal villains. They're coy, clever, cruel and have no shame.


Ladytink_534 said...

I just love faeries! It's been awhile since I read a faery book though. I think I'll read Lament before this one.

Anonymous said...

Loved your take on Dee,,,:P

Ailsa said...

I haven't read either of these books yet, but I've thought about buying one/both sometime.
I hate that when the back cover talks about something, and then you read the book and discover that it doesn't come up until right near the end, or that it really doesn't happen quite the way the back cover implied. I always feel sort of like I've been cheated.

Alyssa Kirk said...

Ladytink - this is definitely a fairy lovers book. They're growing on me. Enjoy!

Tina - thanks!

gapyeargirl- I agree, I want to get what was promised. You can always get these from the library. Lament should be quick to get because it's older.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been able to catch any of these cool discussions. I will in 2010 for sure.

Alyssa Kirk said...

J Kaye - it's a lot of fun to be part of the group and see the different opinions. For instance, this time everyone loved the book much more than I but reading everyone's take and why they thought that way is a lot of fun. I love getting different perspectives!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Now you really have me wanting to read Lament. *Goes to Book Depository*

mariska said...

Thanks for the review Alyssa. you had made me to keep on eye these books :)

Alyssa Kirk said...

Melissa - I think you'll like it. Lots of romance, less action but I enjoyed it!

Alyssa Kirk said...

Mariska - Your welcome. I hope you like them. While I preferred Lament, most everyone else in the Blog with Bite review group enjoyed Ballad more than I did so there's a good chance you'll find it a very good read. And James it so fun!

Cherry said...

Haven't read either book. It's not even on my wishlist. I have to admit though that I am a bit slow. By the sounds of it, I need to bookmark these books to get for my TBR pile when I get a bit of extra next year :)

Jamie said...

Great review! I haven't read Lament yet so I have no idea what to expect from that and I'm up to my eyeballs in library books for challenges that don't until January. Thanks for the follow also.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

This one looks great! I love your blog!

Alyssa Kirk said...

Cherry - if only we had the time and money to read all the great books!

Jamie - Your welcome. Your blog is fantastic and I'm happy to follow. I love the library but the only trouble is I'll get nothing on my list for a while and then, bam! I've got a pile that I have trouble getting through! Oh, I could have worse books at all!

inthehammock - Thank you. Your blog is wonderful. Have fun with that Paula Deen book!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Can you believe I haven't read this yet?

ParaJunkee said...

I totally agree with many of your points. I don't mind a good character driven novel though. A lot of these urban fantasy novels have this human in it that is continually getting the poop beat out of them, or they are struggling to accept the "new" world - and slowly changing into something supernatural themselves. So this take was refreshing. It was new and I thought it was rather real. Because if there are fairies, we sure don't see them. Excellent review - didn't expect anything less, though.

- Parajunkee

ParaJunkee said...

The votes were unanimous! This is our TOP REVIEW. Congrats hun! *Happy Claps* - Parajunkee

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