Sunday, 29 July 2012

Review: Sticks & Stones - Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Sticks & Stones
Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they're ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone's sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they've so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership. Ty and Zane, along with Ty's father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods... where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.
What can I say about Sticks & Stones? Not much that hasn’t already been said (by me) about Cut & Run

I was still cursing the adverbs and the repetition, although, the latter was greatly improved (read: greatly diminished) in this second part of the series. And as before, the characters are the story. There’s something around the 30% mark that could be interpreted as a hint of a plot, but it never develops into anything and fizzles out long before the end of the novel. 

To the list of authors’ sins we get to add infodump. Ty’s family is introduced in such a manner that the only impressions left are vague caricatural characterisations, one with a shovel, another with a limp, and a third with a cooking addiction. 

I’m still hoping for a better, more precise writing from this author duo. For example, there’s a scene where Ty and Zane spend a night in Ty’s old room and I was confused by the state of the door. Was it shut with a click, or was it left open to act as a deterrent for gay sex? Also, who was wearing which shoes? I could infer more details from the additional commentary, but only after spending a few minutes turning back the pages trying to find the right answer. 

These weren’t my only issues with the continuity within the book and the series so far. This time Zane took back the I love you he said in Cut & Run and Ty’s characterisation morphed from slightly unstable to properly insane without any real forewarning or foreshadowing. I guess the signs could have been there, but the imprecise writing undermined the effort.

My other issues include the questions when did “marine” become a magic word and why did the blissfully absent cockcommentary from book one have to be introduced here? 

Also it was fun (not really) reading how the men had a quickie with all their injuries and enjoyed unbridled and spontaneous kissing with a broken nose without a single complaint or a wince. No, the wince came after when he accidentally tried wrinkling his nose. 

In Sticks & Stones we also get to hear from Ty’s brother and father, but I was left wondering why. As nice as it was to have someone observe Ty’s and Zane’s unconscious cuddling, there really wasn’t a point to these point of views. Of course those paragraphs could have been wasted in background information or mental monologues in the middle of an action scene, so I’m not complaining too loudly.

There are lots of cute moments between Ty and Zane that unfortunately can’t carry this plotless story even if we do learn Beaumont’s real name.

2 stars

 I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Series: Cut & Run #2
Pages: 322 (paperback)
Publisher:        Dreamspinner Press
Published:       January 25th 2010
Source: NetGalley


30 comments:

  1. That doesn't sound so good. Def. going to pass this book. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's certain magic in the characters, but I for one don't understand the high rating average on Goodreads.

      (In other words: Save yourself!)

      Delete
  2. Yes, this one doesnt sound much better than the first. I'm still in awe you stick with it though, I'm the type to throw the book at the wall :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The same rules apply as with the first one: I'm a sucker for the characters I love (Dean & Sam).

      And I'm reading it on my Kindle, not throwing that any time soon ;)

      Delete
  3. I appreciated reading your honest review. I think the title of this one is interesting, but I am sorry there were some parts you didn't like. Thanks for sharing.
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I try.

      I believe all the titles in the series are word plays somehow connected with the story (can't really say the plot since I didn't see much of it)).

      Delete
  4. Heh, I enjoyed this one more than you did...

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  5. Great review..and the info dump surprised me, usually the first book is guilty of this, which is why i choose book two to decide whether or not to continue with a series..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was that kind of a scene. Ty was introducing Zane to his family and although they tried to pace it, the new characters didn't really make an impression enough to help me absorb the huge amount of information. It could be because of their style of writing.

      Delete
  6. As always, thank you Rameau :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now you're just saying that ;) You're welcome and thank you for putting up with my rants.

      Delete
  7. You are much more patient than I would be, without and entertaining plot what is there to keep you reading?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The characters. There's a reason why I've stuck with Supernatural as long as I have, although, this last season tested my patience more than I care to explain.

      Delete
  8. sorry you had some little problems with this book, I didn't know this one but I think I'll go and read you review about the first one now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This book is much (read: marginally) better than the first one. The only ones I'd recommend this series to would be the people who like to read about characters and their relationships only and don't care too much about continuity details.

      Delete
  9. Infodump doesn't sound good and yes, by 30% something good should be happening!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you count the sex scene, something good did happen before 30%.

      Delete
  10. Wow....I'm in awe that you picked up book number 2! Congrats on doing that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a little exercise in futility. I'm reading the third book of the series right now.

      Delete
  11. This sounds really good. I'm going to add it to my wishlist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do hope you like it better than I did.

      Delete
  12. There are lots of cute moments between Ty and Zane that unfortunately can’t carry this plotless story even if we do learn Beaumont’s real name.

    This really sounds bad. A simple equation can sum it up: Cute + Plotless > My reading satisfaction. Not my piece of cake but thanks for a lovely review anyway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. I do like plot in my stories, but I can still (sometimes) enjoy stories based on characterisations alone. Of course they're not as great as strong, character driven stories with great plot too.

      You know my stance on fanfiction, and how I sometimes read crappy things simply because I love the canon and canon characters too much to let go. Consider this series one of those indulgences.

      Delete
  13. Ouch! But your review made me laugh. I love how they can have wild sex while injured with no problems but wrinkling his nose after hurts.

    I'm kind of surprised at your review. I was just considering giving this series a shot because everyone is going on & on about Ty & Zane on Twitter. I'll have to look into it a little more first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some readers can look past those things that make absolutely no sense while others, people like me, can't.

      There's a group of girls on my Twitter feed reading this series, and pretty much everyone agree that the reasons to read this series are the characters and the sex. (Which apparently gets better when Abigail Roux takes over the series as a sole author.)

      I'd actually recommend you borrow the second book from someone before buying just to see if this is something you'd enjoy. The writing in Sticks & Stones is considerably better (not enough for a higher rating from me but still) than in Cut & Run and the authors do a pretty good job at recapping the essential bits from the first one.

      Delete
  14. Well, kudos to you for sticking with the series through the second book, despite all the problems from the first one. I don’t know if I’d have the patience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've now finished reading the fourth book and I still need to read the fifth before the sixth comes out.

      The things I do for (fanfiction) characters I love.

      Delete
  15. With the amount of books still waiting my attention, I don't think I would be picking this book up...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are definitely better books out there you could spend your time on.

      Delete

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