A Strange Fire by L.H. Cosway
Publisher: Self-Published, 2012
Hey folks, I’m back! Sorry I’ve been away for so long but my classes were seriously back-heavy (is that even an expression?) and it’s been an insane month and a half. But now classes are over and I can re-dedicate my life to reading and blogging (side note – I wish I could re-dedicate my life to eating at every Whataburger in the USA like a retired couple I just read about but alas, I currently live in a Whataburger-free zone. Sads.).
Plot: Florence (Flo) has had a tough life. Her dad is a jerk face drug dealer who takes great pleasure in emotionally torturing his daughter for being shy, having a stutter, and seeing things that aren’t visible – auras. Out of nowhere Flo’s father decides to send her to live with a grandmother she barely knows and Flo sees this as a chance to finally escape from her awful life. On the first day at her new school the teacher asks Flo to introduce herself to the class. When Flo stutters through her introduction butt-face John makes fun of her and then hottie hot hot Frank stands up for her and tells butt-face John to shut up. Flo can’t believe this hot guy would stand up for her like that, but she’s even more amazed by what she sees when she looks at the auras of Frank and his adopted brothers – they’re all a fiery orange color Flo has never before seen. What does this color signify? Why is such a hottie paying attention to shy Flo? And are Flo’s scary, possibly prophetic, dreams connected with the mysterious death two years ago of her new friend Caroline’s cousin?
Review: I’m not going to lie, I’m seriously torn on this one. Flo is a pretty okay girl although she should definitely stand up for herself more. Frank has that mysterious hottie with a bad boy past thing going on. I don’t mind the auras or prophetic dream stuff since I’m pretty comfortable with believing in auras and, as Flo points out several times, Buffy had prophetic dreams and I love all things Buffy. Even the witches were palatable, and I have to admit I did kinda side with the head witch at one point when Flo just didn’t understand the awesomeness that is Celine Dion (btw, that’s not a joke – I saw Celine in concert once and no one can deny – lady can seriously sing). But this book contains my #1 YA deal breaker: ANGELS. I just can’t handle angels you guys. I mean, I can barely handle them in a story at all but the idea of angels coming to Earth and having sexy times with humans and making half-human half-angel babies? No way. Angels to me are like heavenly Ken dolls and incapable of sexy times. And then you throw in an angel whose “physical form is that of a dragon with three heads, one of which is human”?? Okay I just can’t get there. And it pains me to write that because I was actually enjoying the book until the angel crap turned up. So I’m going to ignore the angel stuff for a moment and concentrate on what I liked.
I liked Flo’s friendship with Caroline, despite the fact that this friendship is for some reason completely forgotten about halfway through the book. Flo really gained a lot of confidence in herself as the book progressed which I also enjoyed. Mostly, though, I really liked the relationship between Flo and Frank and the gradual way it formed. Despite the fact that he’s pretty smitten with her from the very beginning, their actual romantic relationship slowly develops. Frank understands how shy Flo is and that her stutter is an external manifestation of being uncomfortable in a situation and works hard to gain her trust. He stands up for her several times when butt-face John is being mean, he understands her reticence to talk about her difficult past, and he immediately accepts that she’s got some unconventional stuff going on in her life. Of course little does Flo know that’s because Frank is pretty unconventional himself, but when she quickly figures it out Frank never denies being different, just asks for time to figure out how to tell her. Their relationship, both just as friends and as when they romantically get together, is definitely the best part of the book.
In the end I’m going to give this one a 7 out of 10.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 8. Flo really seemed to become a much stronger and more self-assured character as the book progressed. While at the beginning she would have to pop Xanax in order to deal with her anxiety and shyness, by the end she was able to stand up for herself and fight to protect the people she cares about. She also gains a lot of confidence in her abilities and while I’m not sure I believe that all people who can see auras are empaths she does try to help people by altering their auras. And while, as I said, I really liked her relationship with Frank, I also had to question why she wasn’t more freaked by the fact that the only time Frank ever feels peace is when Flo is near. I’d really have to wonder how much a guy likes me for me when there’s this other factor going on, but Flo seems to easily set it aside.
How much did I like the love interest: 9. Well I’m shallow and Frank sounds hot. Plus he has that mysterious bad boy past that I love. Despite his messed up childhood and personal demons (hehe. Inside joke) he’s great with his family and stands up for Flo even before he knows her. He is also patient with her and supportive of her desire to take things slow. He doesn’t judge her based on her stutter (which honestly I’ve never understood – why do some people thing a stutter signifies lower intelligence? Idiots). All in all he’s a pretty stand-up guy.
How believable is the plot: 5. Several of the characters are children of angels who came to Earth and had sex with humans. I just can’t handle it.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 3. I’m normally pretty lenient with this aspect but according to the author’s bio she’s a proofreader and was an English major. In my book that means there’s no excuse for the numerous mistakes which should have been caught. Incorrect word choices (ie: Frank had someone “in toe” not “in tow”), its vs. it’s, past vs. passed. I could go on but I won’t.
How much did I want to keep reading: 6. It took me a while to get into this one and a vast majority of the book is just Flo’s internal monologue but when the relationship with Frank picked up I didn’t want to stop reading. And then when the angel crap came up I really didn’t want to stop reading just because I was hoping I was delusional and angels weren’t actually being thrown in along with all the other supernatural happenings.
Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 5. Yeah, 5. That might be the most of any book I’ve reviewed (I’m blocking out that which shall not be named) just because my first YA book in forever and it has to include my YA nemesis? There’s only so much a reviewer can handle after the month I’ve had.
Final Score: 7/10. I have to admit if I didn’t feel the way I do about angels my review would probably be closer to an 8-9 but with all the errors there’s no way this one is a 10. Oh and I’m assuming this is the first in a series based upon the ending, but I’m pretty happy to leave these characters where they are.
****Disclaimer: I got this book for free from the author. I swear I didn’t bribe her in any way, or get paid for my review. And we might not be legit enough to need this disclaimer but after working at a law firm for many years it’s better safe than sorry!****