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Showing 1-10 of 302 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 755 reviews
on June 20, 2016
This was definitely a new angle on an over-done genre, and I effectively got drawn into the world of the book, with all its strangeness. On the one hand I liked how the author took her time telling the story, so it seemed to evolve organically, rich in detail. And yet there were sections that dragged, bogged down by rambling exposition, convoluted stream-of-consciousness sentences, and a chronically tired and grumpy narrator. Despite this, I found McKinley's take on vampires compelling, and I also appreciated her way of handling the descriptions of magic. I found them convincing and evocative. It's not my favorite book by this author, but I might reread it somewhere down the road. I certainly hurried all the way to the end, anxious to see what would happen. And I also admit, I wish there was a sequel, as I really want to know what develops with these characters afterward.
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on April 23, 2017
At the end of this story, I thought....whaaa...and heard crickets. The story kind of ends in a cliff hanger, but it also seems final. Some other reviewer on here mentioned the narration style and sections of the book that seemed to drag on, and I totally agree with this assessment. For one thing I kept waiting and waiting for our protagonists to meet again after their initial encounter, but they didn't! For a long, long time. This book is not like every other beauty and the beast, prince and princess meet and fall in love story. This story is about Sunshine; I found that I genuinely liked her and identified with her book reading and cinnamon roll making life. I do highly recommend this book, and will probably reread it some day to see if I catch anything that I missed the first time.
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on August 28, 2016
For someone who loves to read rich interior landscapes, well as exterior ones, this is a nearly perfect book. The young woman (Rae or Sunshine) who is the protagonist is drawn exceptionally well, her relationship with the world beautifully laid out. At 25, she is still young enough to question nearly everything, but old enough to have a good sense of her own self, her strengths and weaknesses, her abilities. Nevertheless she is on a journey, reluctantly, and finding out about the magic she needs to use is only a small part of that. Much if not most of the story takes place in Sunshine's head, yet with all the inner talk, there is little about it that I would call whining. I HATE whining, hate to read it, hate to hear it, hate to do it. So it came as a relief to travel her interior and find that the questioning and self-doubt she is prone to is told in a way that reads as simply this: a young woman thrown into the deep end of a battle for which she can't believe she even might be equipped. She speaks with a genuine voice, and with humor that is often twisted and deep black.

If you want action-adventure, gun-fights, magic-fights, car- or spaceship-chases, heroes with whips or wands, this ain't it. Even as magic fantasy, this is VERY different.

If however, what you like is to discover a unique book by a unique talent, by all means and with all due haste, read this!! It's truly excellent, exceptional, wonderful.
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on April 30, 2015
Robin McKinley’s Sunshine takes place after the Voodoo wars between the humans and the Others in a world similar to our post 9-11 one. Blend in, appear as ‘normal’ as possible, unless you want to have a not-so-friendly chat with the SOF, Special Other Forces, who protect as well as police the human public. Keeping the coffee you serve hot with your peri-blood touch is acceptable. Turning blue and growing a third eye might bring a career to a dead stop.

Coffeehouse baker Rae ’Sunshine’ Seddon’s memories of her own heritage resurface after she is captured by the Others. The daughter of a powerful magic handler, Sunshine creates an escape for herself and frees her cellmate, Constantine. The problem—he is also one of the Others, one of the very worst of the Others--a vampire.

Sunshine’s decision forever changes her “Bitter-Chocolate-Death” bakery life. While she struggles with her newly discovered powers and the shame of having saved a vampire, not to mention the unexpectedly warm feelings she has for him, she and Constantine team up to fight the true evil.

An unpretentious hero, Constantine is not suave or handsome. He is the darkness to Sunshine’s light. But how dark is he, really? He is chivalrous and sensitive to Sunshine’s every need. He can walk in the moonlight, an unusual phenomenon for a vampire of his age. Although he shares few details of his backstory and, more importantly, does not explain how he feeds, choosing to trust him is not difficult.

The story plays out in a family-run bakery complete with mouth-watering descriptions of cinnamon rolls and Triple-Ginger Gingerbread with boats of cream cheese sauce. Indulge your sweet tooth, if only vicariously, when friends drop by Sunshine’s bakery for a plateful of Killer Zebras.

Sunshine’s chronically-PMSing mother, her tattooed, warrior-biker boyfriend, and her dear were-friend Mrs. Bialosky are only a few of the quirky characters she sometimes cannot live with but could never live without. Her love for them is unshaken after she realizes that many of them harbor shadow traces of Other-bloodedness. It is her love for this extended bakery family, the cinnamon rolls she makes from scratch each morning, and the ‘healing touch’ of sunlight on her face that strengthens her resolve when she faces the seemingly insurmountable odds against her survival.

Sunshine is a book that compels you to reread it, both for the enjoyment of it and to answer many lingering questions. The answers-- as hidden as the secret raspberry-and-black-currant filling in Sunshine’s Death of Marat--are tucked into single lines of dialogue and are buried in Sunshine’s meandering thoughts as she tries to sort out her new life.

Not the typical vampire story, Sunshine is enthralling all the same. McKinley drives home her point by not providing more details about her characters’ histories. The individuals show their true selves in the deeds they accomplish. What they are or are not does not matter. It is what they do that makes the difference.
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on May 28, 2017
Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery series is the only book series that I have reread multiple times. I think the books appealed to me so much because Ms. Harris was able to take a very relatable young woman, living an unremarkable life in a backwater little town in northern Louisiana, and make her remarkable. Ms. Harris ' straight forward writing style and contemporary settings and language made it easy for me to believe in Sookie and her world.

On their face, the SVM books are simple but entertaining. However, looking much deeper, the themes of marginalization and acceptance become apparent. Critics and some readers may have panned the series, but I loved it. So, perhaps you'll understand why I was so glad to read Ms. Harris' recommendation of Sunshine which she described on her Facebook page as a "pretty much perfect vampire story." I wouldn't say that I'm in 100% agreement with Ms. Harris' assessment of Sunshine, but I did find it enjoyable.

While reading, I thought the events in Sunshine might be what happened if the Witch War in Harris' Dead to the World had escalated and ALL of the Supernaturals had come out of the closet, so to speak. New Arcadia, the setting for Sunshine, is home to every type and stripe of Supernatural that came to be known after the devastating Voodoo Wars. They are referred to as the Other and of course, the Other needs to be monitored and controlled, so we have the Special Other Forces known as SOF. Several of Rae's friends are part of SOF. Humans prevailed in the Voodoo Wars, but they are wary survivors. Charms, wards and other magic are a common part of day-to-day life to protect the human population from the Others.

Rae (Sunshine) Seddons is our Sookie in the post Voodoo Wars world of New Arcadia. She works as a baker in her stepfather's coffee shop and is known for her killer cinnamon rolls and other baked goods. Merlotte's was the watering hole of Bon Temps, Charlie's Coffeehouse holds that honor located in the Old Town of New Arcadia. Rae is a good deal more cynical than Sookie was in the beginning of her supernatural journey but, like Sookie, she has friends, family and an occupation that she likes and wants to keep. Also like Sookie, she is a lover of the sunshine and draws both strength and peace from it which is what gives rise to her nickname, Sunshine. As in Ms. Harris' novels, there is frequent, startling, laugh-out-loud gallows humor that crops up at the most unexpected and often dire times. Both Rae and Sunshine have u unique "abilities," but more importantly, both have the ability to face near paralyzingly fear and uncertainty with fatalistic resolve.

The blood suckers in Rae's world are not the suave, devastatingly handsome Vampires of Bon Temps and Shreveport like the 180 year old Bill Compton or the 1,000 year old Viking vampire, Eric Northman. Sunshine's vampires are menacing, really dead looking, feared and not particularly well dressed. To quote the SOF, 'the only good vampire is a staked, beheaded, and burned vampire.' The exception is Constantine, Con for short, who Rae manages to save from a rival Vampire gang. He would still be described physically the same way, but has chosen "to exist differently" than Bo (Beauregard) who is the primary antagonist in this novel. Friendship and a little more develop between Sunshine and Con as the story goes on.

As I said, this vampire novel was a little less than perfect for me. The stream-of-consciousness style of writing, the sparse use of dialog and the large number of characters made reading Sunshine a challenge. I've never been a big fan of s-o-c style writing and found it particularly difficult in the early part of the novel. I'm a pretty adept reader, but a page and a half between a question posed by one character and the answer by another really challenged my patience from time to time. I occasionally had to backtrack to maintain the flow of the story. I also had issues with the language used to describe commonplace items: dollars are called blinks, computers are called comboxes, and so on. This author's never really explained choice for the change in language really didn't do much to enhance the story and made it less relatable for me. That said, Rae and her coterie of friends and family grew on me. Even though the main storyline wrapped up satisfactorily, there's plenty left between Rae and Con to produce a terrific series.
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on January 10, 2017
I originally read this book way back when it first came out, but the unique story has always stuck with me, and I wanted to read it again. Sadly, had long ago lost my book, so got the Kindle edition so I could immediately immerse myself back in the world Robin McKinley has created. And just like the first time I read it, I was immediately hooked. Sometimes some of the dialog/ writing comes across as a bit YA, but that's probably simply because I'm much older and in a more mature mind set than the first time I read it. Ms. McKinley has created a very well thought-out world for her characters, with some different but good twists on the vampire genre. It was every bit as good as I remember it being, and same as last time, it left me pining for a follow-up that has never come about.
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on April 19, 2017
I was leery of a first-person narrated, post-apocalyptic story--since everyone is writing them these days--even though it was from Robin McKinley. I need not have worried.

I won't go into all the details that other reviewers have already covered. I was quite amused and impressed by McKinley's ability to bring her writing "down" (I use this term in admiration, not derision) to the level of her protagonist. The plot is rich and detailed. All I could want.

It would be neat for McKinley to revisit these characters in the future--perhaps 10 years down the road, story-wise.
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on June 28, 2017
The story will grab you and hold onto you from the first pages. It's a unique story that I hope someday the author will allow someone to write a sequel. There are so many unanswered questions - will humanity end in the Sunshine universe in less than 100 years, will Sunshine ever meet her Dad ( Is he dead?), what happens in their relationship friendship or something more ( can you have a romantic relationship with someone who views or viewed humans as food?) what is Sunshine boyfriend Mel's story? what about the others 1/2 demons etc and there goal in the SOB?, Bo gang what do they do now?.... sigh we will never know. Despite all that I highly recommend this story as it is beautifully written.
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on February 13, 2016
This is not your typical vampire book. Sunshine is tough, resourceful and haunted. Constantine is ethical, powerful and haunted. Together they form a formidable team. The secondary characters are phenomenal and worthy of books of their own. The world is well developed and complete. One of the first questions McKinley fields in interviews is "When is the sequel to Sunshine coming?" I very much wish she would write one.
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on June 21, 2017
I love Robin McKinley's writing, and this is one of my favorites - a lot her fans complained because the style of this one is very different from her previous work, but I still think it's great. I only wish she'd write a sequel - this is not the first, nor the last, book she's written that not only leaves room for but begs, NEEDS a sequel - but she has always said that she writes things as they come to her, and apparently the sequels of these books have yet to arrive in her mind. Nevertheless, well worth reading.
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