My interest in The Graces by Laure Eve was sparked when I went to the Faber Children's Blogger Event. Eve reOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
My interest in The Graces by Laure Eve was sparked when I went to the Faber Children's Blogger Event. Eve read out an extract, and that, along with her telling us she was inspired by the movie The Craft, had me in desperate need of this book. Once the proof arrived, I flew through it! I cannot tell you just how brilliant this book is!
Thalia, Fenrin and Summer. You'd know the Graces as soon as you saw them. There's no denying the draw they have, their magnetism. You can pretend you don't care, but you will. You'll be intrigued by them, want to know them, want to be close to them. There's just something about them; they're beautiful, sure, but it's something more that has heads turning as they walk by. It's rumoured that they're witches, and it's not hard to believe. River is new to town, and only just learning about The Graces, rather than growing up with them - but even she isn't immune. River is completely enamoured by them, and does all she can to be the person they'd want to be friends with. But when Summer, the youngest Grace, takes an interest in her, River becomes obsessed. River won't stop until she knows everything she can about the Graces, about their witchcraft, until she becomes one of them.
Oh my god, this book! It is so absolutely gripping! This book is everything I was interested in as a teenager, and so it wasn't hard to fall in love with it. I was so interested in magic and witches as a teen; I had varioud teenage spellbooks, I had an oracle, a dream dictionary. I was so interested in the occult, and while I can't say I believed in it all, I so desperately wanted it all to be true. So The Graces would have been perfect for me back then, and reading it felt very nostalgic. This isn't about witches that wave wands, say magic words, and have lightning flash from their fingertips - The Graces are more Pagan witches, or Wiccan witches. Witches that use the natural world; crystals and candles and feathers and water; chants and will and energy. And I was captivated. The Graces are my kind of people, and the mystery around them was delicious. Like River, I was desperate to know more.
But River herself is really fascinating. She and her mother have moved to the town after her Dad disappears. Her mother says he's been in touch, but River doesn't believe her. She so desperately wants him to come back, and believes the Graces' magic could help. But her interest in the Graces is more than just because she wants her dad back, but because she is completely sucked in by them. She seems really troubled. Her every thought is for The Graces. She buys spell books and studies them like her life depends on it. She is enchanted by their power - not just as witches, but as people, how everyone wants to know them, how everyone knows who they are. She wants it, she wants to be a part of it, and she can think of barely little else.
I don't want to say too much more about the plot, because this really is a story that should be discovered as you read it. But that ending! Oh my god! The ending was unbelievable! Stakes get so high and things become dangerous, and this is exactly where I can see the influences of The Craft! I was on the edge of my seat, desperate to know what was going to happen! It was such an electrifying, terrifying, heartpounding climax! And we finally get some answers, and I was so surprised by all we discovered! I had an inkling, but no real theories, and it was just so brilliant! It works brilliantly as a standalone, but there's enough left open for there to be a sequel, and there will be! And I am so excited!
The Graces is absolutely incredible! I was completely swept up in the intrigue surrounding the enigmatic Grace siblings, and fell as much under River's spell as I did the Graces'! Buy this book and clear your diary. You're not going to be doing anything else until you're finished.
Thank you to Faber Children's Books for the proof. ...more
My ears first pricked up about The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar when I saw it on Dahlia Adler's QUILTBAG Compendium as a book that had a bisexual mMy ears first pricked up about The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar when I saw it on Dahlia Adler's QUILTBAG Compendium as a book that had a bisexual main character. So when Dahlia had it as one of her book club reads for November, I decided to pick it up and give it a go. The Art of Wishing isn't exactly the book I expected, but I really enjoyed it.
Margo wants the main female part in her school's production of Sweeny Todd. She knows she's got the talent for it, and knows that part should be hers. But instead, it's given to Vicky; Vicky who can't act or sing at all. Everyone seems to like Vicky, including those who never gave her the time of day until recently, and no-one seems to see how bad she is. And she's constantly followed around by new boy Oliver. When Margo goes into a bathroom after Vicky, she finds a ring. After picking it up, Oliver waltzes in, expecting to find Vicky. Margo soon discovers Oliver isn't an ordinary guy, he's a genie - the ring his spirit vessel - and Margo is now his new master. Oliver can grant Margo three wishes, but she has to make them soon, for Oliver's life is in danger. And old master wants Oliver's ring back, so he can make his final, devastating wish. Margo soon realises just how serious this is, and needs to think of her wishes fast. But she knows once she's made her wishes, Oliver will disappear, and she doesn't want him to go - not know she's started developing feelings for the guy behind the magic.
The Art of Wishing is a really sweet romance novel - though I had to say I expected there be more magic than there was. Don't get me wrong, there is magic; Oliver creates illusions for Margo to proove he is what he says he is, and he is able to grant wishes. But at the same time, knowing that Margo's wishes are probably the last he'll ever get to grant, he really wants her to pick good ones. So with her thinking about it, and dragging her heels because of how awesome her first wish has played out, there's not a whole amount of magic going on for the most part. It's focus is mainly on the relationship between Oliver and Margo, and how that develops.
Once I accepted that there wasn't going to be magical fireworks on every page, I really started to warm to the story. I loved the world building, and the various genie rules - which I'll let you discover for yourself. There are various pop culture references, like when Margo watches Aladdin to do some research, and when she talks about stereotypes of the YA paranormal romance genre, and how she's disbelieving that that is how this - her life - is supposed to go now she's got a bloody genie in her life? Margo is really quite funny, and all the references made the story that much more credible, and added a great touch of fun to the story. However, I did have a little trouble believing the development of the relationship. By the end of the novel, I believed that both Oliver and Margo had feelings for each other, but I didn't believe the development that led to that. It was like Margo suddenly started feeling something for Oliver, and it came out of nowhere. I didn't feel any chemistry or sexual tension towards the beginning of their relationship. That came much later, once the relationship was in full swing - or what counts for full swing when Oliver is going to leave any day, once Margo has made her wishes. But putting that niggle aside, I really enjoyed this book!
And when things start to get dangerous, I was completely wowed! The Art of Wishing feels like a nice, fluffy romance novel, but once we meet Xavier, Oliver's old master, things turn dark pretty fast. Xavier is bloody dangerous, and so violent. He's really twisted, and will go to any lengths to get back that ring. And what's so weird, once we know what he wants to wish for, and hear him explain it, you can see he really thinks he's doing the right thing. But it's all so screwed up, his perspective is completely skewed. The tension is notched up and you end up reading on the edge of your seat because, oh my god, he could turn up at any time, and there's no telling what he might do! And the final climatic scene was absolutely incredible! I had an inkling I knew how the scne would end, but I didn't know what would happen before it got there, so there were a lot of gasps of astonishment as I was reading! So awesome!
When it comes to the LGBTQ aspect of the story, there isn't a great deal in this one. There are hints that Oliver is bisexual, but it's not a major aspect, and nor is there a big conversation about it either. Though I heard from Dahlia on Twitter that Oliver's bisexuality is in the spotlight more in the sequel, The Fourth Wish. However, there was a discussion about how genies can make themselves look like the type of person their master needs in their life, and that because of this, there have been times when Oliver has been a girl. The conversation became much more, and didn't focus so much on Oliver's gender in his different incarnations but more on him changing in general, but I thought this idea was really interesting. The conversation, at the start, made me think of Every Day by David Levithan, how the body changes but the person is still the same. I also hope this is something that is discussed further in the next story.
Overall, a really fun and exciting read, and I'm so excited to get my hands on The Fourth Wish and see where this story goes after that brilliant cliffhanger!...more
When I was contacted about reviewing The Awesome by Eva Darrows, I was drawn to two things; the amazing sounOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
When I was contacted about reviewing The Awesome by Eva Darrows, I was drawn to two things; the amazing sounding plot - Maggie has to lose her virginity in order to fight bigger monsters? Whaaat? - and how it was described as being a feminist story. That was me sold! However, although The Awesome is a good story, I did have a few issues with it.
In a world where monsters exist, though most try not to think about it, Maggie Cunningham is a confident, snarky, no-holds-barred, kickass hunter. Well, almost, as she is informed by her mother she can't get her journeyman's license until she's lost her virginity. Vampires can smell virgin blood, and can send them into a blood lust craze, so until Maggie has had sex, she can only help her mum out with the easy jobs. There's no way Maggie is going to accept not getting her journeyman's license and becoming a proper hunter, so she's on a mission to have sex as soon as possible. Any available guy will do, so long as she gets rid of her inconvenient virginity. What she doesn't expect is to start having feelings for the lovely if a little awkward Ian. But things don't go quite to plan, and soon her inexperienced state gets her into a whole heap of trouble; a vampire dies, a first born to a vampire prince, and now Maggie and her mum are in serious danger.
I had some trouble with Maggie. She's snarky, which, generally, can be quite funny, and I'm sure went towards this book being considered hilarious by all the authors who blurbed it. Her voice is completely different to what I normally read in YA, but once things started getting into the urban fantasy side of things, I was reminded a lot of the amazing adult urban fantasies I read. Maggie is like a cross between Cat from Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series and Dorina from Karen Chance's Dorina Basarab series. Her voice was easier to get used to when I took myself out of the YA reading frame of mind and into urban fantasy reading frame of mind, but still, I found her too snarky. She verges on having an attitude problem, and I found her really frustrating and her voice a little annoying.
The Awesome does have it's feminist elements, which I'll get to, but at times it almost seemed to have the opposite. Maggie's attitude towards women got my back up from the beginning. I can understand that, with her job, she'd have little time for those horror movie cliches, but her language towards women - and women who have sex - is pretty appalling.
'You know those horror movies where the silicon-inflated babe totters down the street in stilettos while a werewolf lopes after her at six thousand miles an hour? All I have to say to that is, "Bitch would have gotten away if she'd picked better shoes."' (p21)
'I, Margaret Cunningham, would try my hand at being a slutbag.' (p27)
'But he was cannon fodder, a victim waiting to happen. He might as well be the token slut in a horror movie with a sign that said 'Me First' hanging around his neck.' (p89)
These aren't the only times she talks about women in such a derogatory fashion, and it really bothered me. Maggie's attitude is all wrong, and for a book, that is being marketed as a feminist story, to be using words like "slut", and having Maggie obviously judge people who enjoy casual sex, is such a problem, in my opinion.
And it's odd. Because this book does have it's feminist values. This attitude from Maggie totally goes against what her mother tells her during a discussion about sex, but it doesn't change her attitude.
'"You realize it's totally screwed up that you're fine with me finding a piece of random ass, right? You should be going on some spiel about self-respect right now." "Why's that?" "I dunno. Most mothers would." "Well, then most mothers think sex is shameful for a woman and I think that's a heaping pile of shit. As long as you're okay and your boy treated you right, no spiel. If he treated you bad, I'll cram his dick down his throat and watch him choke."' (p57)
Pretty wonderful words from Janice, Maggie's mum. A really wonderful way to bring up teenagers, I think. Yet Maggie still says awful things, as shown by the last quote above, which came after this conversation with her mum. It's partially sex-positive, partially sex-shaming, and I don't know what to do with that.
Janice is a funny character, because I find some of the things she said awesome('"Nudity's a beautiful, natural thing. Be proud of your body, Margaret Jane. You only get one this life. No point in getting all hung up about it."' (p123)), and her strong relationship with Maggie is admirable, yet I really wasn't a big fan of her swearing at her own daughter. I'm not a big fan of swearing in books in general, but I tend to let it go as it's real, most people do swear. There is quite a lot of swearing going on here, but I'm just not for books showing parents swearing at their children. I don't really care how old Maggie is and how she may behave, I think it's wrong, and really quite shocking. But that's just me, and I was brought up by people who felt strongly that you don't swear at your children, and swear as little as possible around them when they're growing up. You might think differently, so this might not be a problem for you.
Although it's made a major part of the description, Maggie needing to lose her virginity becomes a smaller matter as the book progresses. Trouble is caused because of her virginity, but the focus then switches, mainly, to the trouble. I got really into this side of things, as I just love a good, fast-paced, action-packed urban fantasy, and oooh, for the most part, The Awesome delivers! There's a little vampire politics, some awesome twists, and a really interesting set up for more books, if they're to come. The main fight scene of the story wasn't quite as tight as it could have been, but it was still pretty awesome; violent and a little gory. There's a mystery surrounding Jeff, Janice's vampire boyfriend, that I think will end up being really amazing and wowsome.
As for the contemporary (ish) side of things, I loved Maggie's relationship with Lauren, a newly awoken zombie. Lauren isn't your typical zombie; eating your brain isn't her sole-focus. In actual fact, she doesn't want to eat humans, even though they smell so good, she doesn't look too dead, and she still acts and feels like a normal human (despite her developing the taste for raw meat, as well as making do with killing ducks and pigeons), rather than an incomprehensible, rotting, hunger-crazed human-flesh-eater. Seeing as she doesn't seem too dangerous just yet, Janice has to zombie-sit her until the Department of Paranormal Relations can decide what to do with her. Maggie and Lauren form a tentative friendship, with Maggie having to fight her suspicion and edginess around her, and it's great watching that develop. It's sweet.
There are also two sex scenes in The Awesome, and Darrows does a great job with them. Realistic without being clinical; not hiding away the awkward and the embarrassing, and showing equally that some things can feel good while other things, maybe not so much. It was definitely different to read about a character trying to get her virginity out of the way for a specific reason, rather than just to say she's done it. I was surprised about but admiring of Maggie's almost nonchalance about the whole thing until it got down to the actual event. Maggie might not be quite as confident as she'd like people to think she is. Really well done.
So, all in all, The Awesome isn't awful, there are some really fantastic elements to it. I just really didn't like Maggie's attitude to women and how she had to be snarky all the time. I'll probably read the next novel if there is to be one, and just hope her attitude improves. Others have really loved this book, so do check out a few more reviews, don't make a decision based on my review alone....more
I was really disappointed by how Daniel and Luce's story ended in Rapture by Lauren Kate, so when I first heard about Unforgiven, Cam's own1.5 Stars.
I was really disappointed by how Daniel and Luce's story ended in Rapture by Lauren Kate, so when I first heard about Unforgiven, Cam's own story, I wasn't convinced it was a book I should be picking up. But after reading a sample chapter on USA Today, I was persuaded otherwise. However, now I've finished, I know I should have stuck with my gut reaction.
Inspired by Daniel and Luce's love, Cam thinks back over the love he lost, Lilith. He wonders what happened to her, and when he discovers she belongs to Lucifer, and is doomed to live life after life in various personal Hells created especially for her, Cam is determined to save her. Lilith lives in a small town where the forest around them is prone to forest fires - they never stop. She lives in poverty with her overworked mother and a brother who's severe asthma, not helped by the constant fall of ash from the forest fires, has him out of school more often than not. Lilith is bullied at school and has no friends. Her only solace is music; she has an incredible voice, and major talent in song-writing and playing the guitar, but she is overwhelmed with self-doubt. Cam strikes up a deal with Lucifer; he must get Lilith to fall in love with him in fifteen days - by the battle of the bands themed prom - despite her loathing for him, that to her seems to come from nowhere. If she falls in love with him, Lucifer will free her. If she doesn't, Cam must remain at Lucifer's side and do his bidding. Cam only has fifteen days, and Lucifer will do all he can to throw obstacles in Cam's path. Will Lilith see past her anger to fall again for the boy she once loved? Or will Cam's hopes crumble into ash?
Imagine the movie She's All That with angels, demons and the devil thrown in, along with a battle of the bands competition, and you've got Unforgiven. A bet to win the girl by prom; this story has been done, possibly to death, and is so very predictable, I very quickly lost interest in how this story would go, because I already knew. The only thing that really kept me reading was Lilith herself. She was a really interesting character, one who was trying to make it through a hard life the best she could. She was really quite strong and impressive, but when it came to Cam she lost her head a bit, because of her anger. She was quite unreasonable a lot of the time when it came to him, but considering her past, that she knows nothing about, it's understandable.
She was also a little flighty, which got on my nerves a bit; she was absolutely dead set against starting up a band with some talented guys Cam tries to form one with, even if Cam wasn't involved, but within minutes she changes her mind and suddenly she is so pumped about it it's the only thing she can think about - as she says thirty-minutes after deciding to form the band. There were a lot of eye-roll moment for me in this book. And Cam was almost unrecognisable in Unforgiven. That confident, cocky, flirty guy with the dangerous edge is no-where to be seen in Unforgiven. Instead, we have a desperate, love sick guy who is always hurting, but always trying. This isn't the Cam I was expecting. I can deal with Cam being in love; I can deal with him hurting; I can deal with him risking all to save the girl he loves. I cannot deal with a Cam who doesn't resemble the Cam I've come to know at all. It made me so mad! Cam was one of the most exciting characters of the previous books, and the main draw for Unforgiven, but that is not who we see here.
The ending felt very over dramatic to me, and happened much too quickly. It went from being a prom, to huge epicness within the blink of an eye. Ok, it's a version of Hell being controlled by Lucifer, but it just didn't feel right. And then the book just ends, without being properly wrapped up. I have a feeling there will be more books. I think the other angels will get there own stories, and from some hints left, not necessarily their own love stories. But I don't think we'll be seeing more from Cam and Lilith as main characters, it feels like a stand alone novel, so to not have their story wrapped up properly just felt really unfinished.
Unforgiven was a huge disappointment from start to finish. I can only see myself reading a future book in this series if hints left about Roland seem to come to light. Otherwise, I'm done.
Thank you to Corgi Children's Books for the review copy....more
After loving Letters to the Lost and falling in love with Kemmerer's writing all over again, I picked up Thicker Than Water straight away. But now, having read it, I'm a little disappointed.
Not because the story was bad, it wasn't. I loved both Thomas and Charlotte, their individual voices and their chemistry together. I was intrigued by the mystery; who killed Thomas' mum, why did they, and how did they get into a locked house? But for a lot of the book, Thomas is arrested several times over, or Charlotte is hanging out with Thomas when her family - which includes three older brothers and a father who are all cops - warn her away from him, certain he murdered his mother. The book is told from both perspectives, so we, the readers, know Thomas didn't kill his mum, but Charlotte doesn't know that for definite, and she just keeps meeting up with him despite all she's told. It just seemed really stupid to me. I know Thomas was a good guy, but that doesn't excuse reckless behaviour from someone who doesn't. I know, if Charlotte didn't keep hanging out with Thomas, there wouldn't really be a story, but I just kept thinking, "What are you doing?!" Even more so given the fact that Charlotte is also diabetic, and with regards to her food intake and sugar levels, she's not as on the ball as she normally is when around him, and puts her health at risk.
Other than that, not a huge amount happens, not until pretty much the last 30% of the book. We find out a few things, and the story gets more interesting... and then all of a sudden, there is a huge climax 95% where we get our answers, and then the book ends. So abruptly! It just seemed so bizarre to me that there's nothing much happening for a great deal of the book, and then for everything to happen in the last 5%. Everything happens so fast, and then it ends. There are still unanswered questions. So many. And just behaviour at the end that I don't think was realistic. In spoilers, because I can't talk about it otherwise.
Knowing that Thomas is an empath, and can heighten emotions, why would either one of them want to be with the other? I mean, how do they know that what Charlotte feels is real? Thomas hasn't yet got control of what he can do, so how does he know he's just heightening a crush into something more? How could he be happy with that? How could Charlotte be happy with that possibility, that her emotions are being played with? It just doesn't feel right to me.
Also, even though Thomas was being controlled by his brother JB when he attacked Charlotte, Charlotte still has that memory of Thomas lying over her with his hands round her throat. It doesn't matter that he wasn't in control, that he wasn't doing it himself, it was still him strangling her. That's not something you're going to get over so quickly. I know four weeks go by in a matter of short chapters at the very end there, but to throw her arms around his neck the first time she sees him after? No. That's not realistic. Having someone almost kill her isn't something she is just going to get over and be perfectly fine being around the guy who did it, no matter the circumstances. That would affect her. But she is not affected. I'm not saying, when it comes to this particular issue only, that she shouldn't be with him, just that it would be a lot more realistic if they would take things pretty slow. Because that's a lot to have to deal with. But she's not.
And again, that just takes me to the point before - if she's not reacting in this realistic way, are her emotions being played with by Thomas unconsciously? It all just seems quite weird and it makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Thomas, in my opinion, needs to do a lot of work on himself and his power before he gets close to anyone. And I think he's being irresponsible for allowing their relationship to continue when he hasn't got a handle on it yet.
Saying all that, the book is seriously creepy. That ending, though very fast and abrupt, was just so awful. It made me feel so uncomfortable. It was so disturbing! The book is left open, though, what with all the questions left unanswered, and with how things are left. So if this is just a stand alone novel, then I'm hugely disappointed - which, as things stand, it looks like it is. If there will be a sequel, I'd definitely give it a go, because I did love the characters, and I'm intrigued by what we learn at the end, but I would want a whole lot more to happen.
So yeah, I have mixed feelings. Which is really upsetting for me, because I was such a huge fan of The Elemental series. And I just feel awful for not loving a book as much as I'd like by an author I think is awesome. I am sad and disappointed.
Thank you to Kensington Books via NetGalley for the eProof....more
A number of months ago, when discussing upcoming LGBTQ YA, Charlie Morris highly recommended The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, so I requested a review copy. I resisted reading it until recently due to not being able to discuss it for months if I read it sooner, but I kind of wish I had! It's SO good!
Every October is the accident season for the Morris family. They will bump, they will slip, they will trip, they will fall, and there will be torn skin, blood, and broken bones. Every October. No-one knows why this happens, but Cara and Alice, and their ex-stepbrother, Sam, must put up with the extra layers, the the padding around the house and the removal of certain electronic devices like the kettle their mother/guardian insists on. Because the accident season is no joke; family members have died. October is a time when everyone is on edge. So when Cara discovers that someone, Elsie, s girl from school, is in every single one of her photos - an elbow, the back of her head, a shoe - Cara starts to worry. Why is Elsie in every photo? Is she following her? And why has she suddenly stopped coming to school? It looks like she's disappeared, but Cara is determined to find her and get her answers, along with the help of Sam and her best friend Bea. Secrets abound, but during the accident season, it might be safer if secrets stat undiscovered.
The Accident Season is incredible! It's atmospheric, haunting, and completely mesmerising! There is so much intrigue to the mystery behind the accident season and what's going on with Elsie. I couldn't stop turning the pages, desperate to know what was happening, what was behind everything. It's not a horror story, but it has such a creepy vibe, an eerie feeling that something is watching Cara, Alice, Sam and their mother/Melanie, causing these accidents at the precise moment. With every scrape, cut, bruise, broken bone and near-miss, it felt like watching a Final Destination movie. You read in a constant state of trepidation, with a sense of foreboding, knowing something terrible could happen at any moment.
I loved how I was never completely sure what was real and what wasn't, continually guessing. There was the accident season, there was Elsie's disappearance, yet still turning up in the photos, the changeling siblings - Fae creatures that Cara dreams about, whose looks and lives have similarities to Cara, Alice, Sam and Bea. Then small things, like a shop that can't be found a second time, or a frozen river when it's so hot out. Plus there's Bea's interest in tarot and her mystical stories, and strange things turning up in a wooded clearing. It's absolutely gripping, and I have no idea what to class this book as! Contemporary fantasy? Magic realism? Paranormal? Something else altogether? Either way, it's brilliant!
The various romances in The Accident Season are subplots, which was nice. The focus was firmly on the weird and the strange, and the romance aspects happened alongside all that. There is an LGBTQ element to the story, but it's not explicitly stated. Sexuality isn't discussed*, what is discussed is a character's feelings for another character, but nothing more than that, nothing about identities. It's about the romance, not sexuality. Some might argue that this should be developed further, but I feel the romance in the book is treated just as romance, rather than straight romance or LGBTQ romance. It's all the same, and I think this is great.
This review hasn't done The Accident Season justice. I don't know if I can. It's delightfully suspenseful, deliciously ominous, and incredibly exciting! I absolutely adored The Accident Season, it's an unbelievably good debut novel! I just wish it was longer! There is no doubt I'll be reading whatever Fowley-Doyle writes next. She's going to be one to watch.
*Although sexuality isn't discussed, I know it's important to see yourself represented in the books you read, so, although it's not actually printed, from what I've read, I would say the characters would identify as bisexual. But I'm not the author, so I could be wrong here.
Thank you to Corgi Children's Books for the proof....more
I wasn't all that impressed with Half Bad, but I was told by my boss that the story gets better in Half WildOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I wasn't all that impressed with Half Bad, but I was told by my boss that the story gets better in Half Wild, that there was more of everything I thought Half Bad was lacking, so I decided to give it a go. And I'm happy to say Half Wild is a much better book!
Nathan now as now received three gifts and blood from his father, Marcus, and is now a fully fledged witch. But his father left him soon after, and the Hunters are still after him. Gabriel is nowhere to be found, and it's been weeks since Nathan last saw him. But they said they would meet at the cave, and so he waits. Instead of Gabriel, it's Nesbitt Nathan finds at the cave - a Half Blood who works with powerful and influential Black Witch Van Dal. Van and Nesbitt rescued Gabriel after he was shot, and have nursed him back to health. Now he's back with Gabriel, Nathan's only thought is to rescue Annalise from the nefarious Black Witch Mercury, who has her under a death sleep. He can't do so without the help of Van and Nesbitt, but they will only help if Nathan agrees to join the rebel Alliance of Black, White and Half Blood Witches who want to overthrow the Council of White Witches, now run by Soul O'Brien. Soul is sending his Hunters out across Europe to persecute all Black Witches, and punishing White Witches who oppose him. It's time to stand together to fight against a common enemy, but the Alliance is lead by people he doesn't trust, and is suspicious. But if joining the Alliance is the only way to save Annalise, he doesn't have a choice. All the while, Nathan is struggling to control his Gift - the same Gift his father has, of transformation. But the animal part of him has a mind of his own, and Nathan is scared of himself.
Oh, how happy I was to discover that Half Wild is so much more exciting! A whole lot more goes on in this book than in Half Bad, and the company never stay in one places for long, always moving on to somewhere new, always something to do, someone to speak to, someone to find. Half Wild is much faster paced, but the first half is still a little slow for my liking, and at times things seemed a little too convenient. The second half is where the story really picks up, where things really start moving forward, and I flew through it.
There's a hell of a lot more action in Half Wild than the previous book, but that's not to say it's action packed, and not all of the action is in fighting, but in the moving, racing against time. There are various parts of the book that are really interesting and sometimes disturbing and gory, and I was pretty gripped. The world building still bothers me a little; there's just not enough information about the how and the why. However, there's so much going on in this book that by the second half this bothered me much less, and I just wanted to know what was going to happen.
I really like the main group of characters in this book. Van and Nesbitt are awesome; Nesbitt really amused me, even if he wound Nathan up most of the time, and Van is just so intriguing. I wish we got to know more about her, and actually get to see her make the potions she's so fantastic at, rather than be told she needs to make one, have time pass and it's done. I'm quite fond of Gabriel too, he's so wonderfully loyal. However, I do have a problem with the romance aspect of these books. I cannot understand why anyone is interested in anyone. We have never - not in Half Bad or Half Wild - seen any real reasons why Nathan likes Annalise, why she likes him too, or why Gabriel likes Nathan. The key word is seen. We're just told that they've hung out, separately, had conversations while hiking and running and waiting, or while hanging out after school by the cliffs. But we don't get to see those feelings develop. I don't really know anything about Annalise except she's pretty and she's part of the O'Brien family. We know far more about Gabriel. And yet Nathan is completely in love with her. I don't get Gabriel's feelings for Nathan either. Nathan was awful at the very beginning of their friendship, but suddenly they're best friends. I really think we should have got the chance to see these relationships develop, rather than just be told that they did. Saying that, I've always liked Gabriel more than Annalise, so I'm rooting for him.
The ending! I saw half of it coming, because it was so obvious. I was thinking, "Oh, come on,you fools!" But the other half... oh my god! Pretty blood awesome and disturbing, and wooow! Yes, I actually wowed, there. A small part of it is very convenient, I think, and if you've read it, you should know what I'm talking about, right? Far too convenient. It's going to make Half Lost, the the third and final book in the trilogy, very interesting, though! And I'm really keen to see where the story will end up. So yes! I am now invested in this story, and pretty looking forward to the final book!
Thank you to Penguin via Foyles for the reading copy....more
With the YA Book Prize 2015 awards ceremony coming up, and an event I'm going to with Sally Green on the panOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
With the YA Book Prize 2015 awards ceremony coming up, and an event I'm going to with Sally Green on the panel, I thought it was about time I got stuck in to Half Bad. Receiving a mostly positive review from from Cynthia of Afterwritten, I was really looking forward to reading this, but I've finished thinking it was merely ok.
In a world of witches, where White Witches - the good - hunt Black Witches - the bad, Nathan is the son of a White Witch and a Black Witch, and his very existence is repugnant. Unsure whether he is going to become a White Witch or a Black Witch, Nathan has been watched most of his life, called in by the White Witches Council for assessments to see on which side he will fall. Deciding it's far too dangerous to leave a possible Black Witch at his home, he is now locked in a cage, his guardian an approved White Witch - because not only is Nathan a Half Code, he's also the son of Marcus, the deadliest Black Witch in England. But if Nathan doesn't escape and find his father to receive his three gifts on 17th Birthday, he could die.
The story starts off in second person narration, which, as opposed to first person which is "I/me" or third person which is "he/she", is "you/your". This was a little jarring at first, but I got used to it pretty easily, and I think it was pretty clever on Green's part. It's a great way of showing where Nathan in mentally. He's had a pretty crappy life so far, and now he's living in a cage outdoors. By thinking "you" instead of "I", he distances himself from the things he's going through. As I said, it doesn't last for long, as the story switches to tell Nathan's story from when he was a child to present day.
The world building of of this urban fantasy story is pretty interesting for the most part. There are White and Black Witches who despise each other. Black Witches spend a lot of time killing other Witches, White or Black. On their 17th Birthday whets - underage Witches - are given three gifts from a parent or grandparent, drink some blood from that relatives hand in a magical ceremony, and will soon develop their Gift, their own magical talent, and they are now a Witch. Some White Witches then go on to be Hunters, to hunt down Black Witches, and there's a White Witches Council of England, Scotland and Wales, who rule over the White Witches. I couldn't tell you what other Witches do with their time.
We learn all this fairly early on, so most of the time, we're with Nathan in his cage, or learning how he ended up there, and what happens afterwards. And even afterwards... Half Bad is generally quite a slow novel, I found. It's interesting, but not a huge amount happens, not all that exciting anyway. Most of that comes very near the end of the novel, and even then I was urging the pace to get faster, the tension to be more edge-of-your-seat, and for there to be more action.
Half Bad isn't a bad story, it was interesting and I kept reading, just not a huge deal happens in it. I was expecting more, despite the mixed response this novel has had. I enjoyed it, but I can't yet say if I enjoyed it enough to pick up the second book, Half Wild. I might need some convincing.
There aren't many YA novels on reincarnation that I've read, so when I heard that Lauren James' debut novel would be about reincarnation and3.5 Stars.
There aren't many YA novels on reincarnation that I've read, so when I heard that Lauren James' debut novel would be about reincarnation and science, I was desperate to read it. The Next Together is a unique story, and absolutely gripping - but a little disappointing.
In 1745, Katherine Finchley, a well born woman, and Matthew Galloway, her coachman, fall in love while trying to help protect the city of Carlisle from a siege against the Jacobite rebels. In 1854, Katy is an orphan trying to get herself out of poverty by pretending to be a boy to get work. She is working for Matthew Galloway, journalist for The Times. Together, they are covering the Crimean wore on the front lines, and when Matthew discovers Katy is a girl, they slowly develop feelings for each other. In 2019, Matthew and Katherine Galloway are a married couple, biologists working for Central Science Laboratories. When they discover that their employers are trying to create a biological weapon and attempt to stop them, they are killed and accused of terrorism. In 2039, Kate Finchley an Matt Galloway are studying biology at the University of Nottingham. When they discover that they were both related to the terrorists Matthew and Katherine Galloway, they try to find out exactly what they discovered and what happened to them, falling in love along the way. What they don't know is that they are all the same two people, reincarnated time and again, destined to find each other and subtly change the world.
I absolutely love how this story is told! In every chapter, we follow the story of all the Katherines and Matthews, jumping from timelines and geographic locations. We see them fall in love repeatedly, but each incarnation of the two is passionate about doing good and doing the right thing, and are incredibly brave in the risks they take to do so, no matter what year they're living in. We discover the story of Matthew and Katherine Galloway of 2019 through notes left on the fridge, comments made on social media, and articles online, as well as through the research of Kate and Matt in 2039. Those two timelines are the two most connected; Katherine was Kate's aunt and Matthew was Matt's uncle, neither believe what has been reported about the married couple, and are desperate to find out. Both having an understanding of biology helps as they understand exactly what they're relatives were doing. Snooping into something that got the 2019 couple killed is highly dangerous, and you're constantly on edge. But there's danger in every timeline; during the Siege of Carlise and the Crimean War, becoming a casualty is a very high risk.
What's awesome is, as you're reading along, you're very much aware that you're not the only one following all these incarnations of the couple. Fairly often throughout the book, you will get what are almost commands put into a computer (does anyone remember DOS? You know the letters on the black screen? It's very similar to that). Their lives were being manipulated by those who were observing them. Each incarnation is some kind of an assignment, and there is an objective of each assignment, but one we, the readers, and the incarnations, know about. It was fascinating! What exactly are these people watching wanting all the Katherines and Matthews to do? Why are they so keen on keeping them alive? Why are they assignments? What is the objective? How is it possible that they are able to "reboot" the incarnations in new timelines? What's happening?! Oh my god, so gripping!
I did have to suspend disbelief pretty early on, though. I found that, no matter year it was, all incarnations fell in love far too quickly and easily - especially as we don't get to know much about them in any year. The focus is on their relationship, and what's happening in that timeline, rather than on who these people are. Every incarnation of Matthew has an interest in farming. Every incarnation of Katherine is pretty humorous and is inclined to constantly take the mick out of Matthew. But other than that, we don't know much about them as people. I did find 2019 Matthew and Katherine to be the most interesting incarnations, because Katherine was just so funny! She really was hilarious, but we never actually meet her, as their whole story is told through notes on the fridge, etc. Those incarnations are the only ones that show much personality, because it comes through in their notes to each other. However, I would just let it go that I wouldn't really know the incarnations, and they were going to fall in love easily because they had already been in love with each other so many times before. I let it go, and just enjoyed the story for what it was, and spent most of the story feeling excited and eager to know what was going to happen next for all of them!
But then we got to the end of the stories, for each incarnation, and I felt hugely let down. I can understand why some of the incarnations' stories ended the way they did - they kind of needed to for the sake of future incarnations, despite feeling unsatisfactory. But the ending to the whole book was so disappointing. We are told what happens, rather than get to actually see it. A decision is made, and then the prologue tells us, in a few pages, what happened as a result of that decision. I know there is going to be a sequel, and a lot of questions will be answered, but the things we are told about are huge! It would have been so much more satisfying to have read them as they happened, rather than be told after the fact. Sure, it would have made the story quite a bit longer, but I think it would have been worth it. The ending of The Next Together has got to be one of the biggest ending let downs I've ever read. I wasn't happy, and I felt cheated.
Saying that, the book on the whole is incredible. It's so very easy to get completely drawn in and immerse yourself in the different stories happening in the one book. It's a fantastic combination of sci-fi, historical, mystery, romance and dystopian, and for the most part, it works brilliantly! I really am so eager to find out what will happen in the next book, The Last Beginning - I just hope it has a far better ending.
Thank you to Walker Books for the reading copy....more
I was super excited to read the final book in the Bloodlines series, The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead, but aOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I was super excited to read the final book in the Bloodlines series, The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead, but a little sad too, as it would mean the end. I was sure it was going to be an epic story, but I finished it feeling a little disappointed.
Now they're married, Sydney and Adrian are at Moroi Court, under Queen Lissa's protection from the Alchemists who want Sydney back and in re-education. But they are struggling; they cannot leave Court without the Alchemists going after them, but the Moroi aren't impressed with their marriage, either, so they feel trapped in their home. They're also feeling helpless as they are unable to help search for Jill, who has gone missing. That is until Mrs Terwilliger turns up from Palm Springs with something that was left for Sydney - something that leads Sydney on a treasure hunt of clues from whoever has kidnapped the Moroi Princess. Meanwhile, Sonya has asked Adrian to have a word with Nina; since her sister has been missing, she has been exhausting herself in Spirit dreams trying to locate her sister. She's not far off losing her sanity, and Adrian is struggling on how to help her when she's so adamant to use as much Spirit as it takes. When they discover a clue as to where Olive is, Adrian is determined to help Nina and locate her himself. In doing so, he makes a discovery about Spirit that could change everything.
So much happens in The Ruby Circle, my description above barely scratches the surface. Saying that, the various events that take place in the book aren't as huge as I expected them to be. I had already worked out who had abducted Jill at the end of Silver Shadows, so that wasn't a big revelation for me. But as I knew, I did expect more out of that confrontation, and those that followed. There were certain parts of the book that felt a bit too easy, I really thought things should have been much more difficult to get through for the final book. It's not that lives weren't in danger, they were, but getting out of danger felt really simple. Sometimes there were possible consequences to getting out of danger, but I did think most of the time, "Is that it?"
I also struggled with the romance in this book. Sydney and Adrian are still the same characters, and I love them dearly, but I wasn't believing the love between the two of them in this book. There was just something missing for me, which was really disappointing, as their romance was one of the major draws to this series for me.
Then ending was pretty cool, though. I did like it. Was pretty sweet on several levels. And I like how, although this series is most definitely at an end, there's still the possibility of more books. There are certain situations that could arise if Mead chose to write them, which would lead to more books. I like this, because the possibilities are really interesting, and it's something I'd love to see. (Though from what I've read, Mead has no plans to continue writing stories in this world.)
Overall a disappointing read when compared to my expectations, but not a bad story. Still a definite must read for fans of the series, for the cool things discovered.
I read the first three books in the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout earlier in the year, back to back.Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I read the first three books in the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout earlier in the year, back to back. I loved them, so different from other urban fantasy/paranormal romances I've read before because it's aliens! And they're abilities and histories are unlike anything else I've ever read. I took a break rather than continuing the series to read other books, but I recently picked up the fourth novel, Origin, to find out what happened after the unbelievable cliffhanger Opal finished on, and woah - this series is far better than I remembered!
After being captured by Daedalus after the rescue attempt to save Beth, Katy is now under their control. Each day she must undergo tests - physical tests, stress tests - shown and told things she never would have thought possible, and has everything she believed about the Luxen turned on her head. But when she's pushed to the edge in what she can take with her awful tests, and the horrendous things they put her through, can she really believe what they tell her, what she sees? Daemon is determined to get Katy back, no matter what it takes. So he willingly allows himself to be caught by Daedalus when no other way to get to Katy seems possible. Katy cannot believe what he's done and the danger he's put himself in, but is so relieved to be able to see him. Daemon is distraught to discover the shape Katy is in, but she won't tell him what has happened to her - only what she's discovered. But Katy has only scratched the surface on what there is to learn, and when the two find out more about what Daedalus is doing, they realise just how far in over their heads they are. Can they escape Daedalus, and if they can, what are they going to do with all they have discovered?
Firstly, what I've said above is not spoilery. All that I've revealed (though it's very vague, as you'll see when you read the book) happens within the first few chapters, and absolutely so much happens in this book. Origin is nuts. Really. It's almost like two books; Daemon and Katy being tested on by Daedalus and all they discover, and what happens later on. I'm not even going to hint at what that is, because woah. You need to discover that for yourself. But kudos to Armentrout, because this is one seriously thought out book. It's the penultimate book in the series (which I have just this second discovered as I write this), which has me thinking that Origin and Opposition, the final book, are what this series is all about.
The first three books were awesome, they introduced the characters, set up the romance, gave us all the info on the Luxen, and led to Katy's capture, from which point things start to get crazy. The story of the Lux series is not the story of a relationship, at least not completely, but a story of this alien race, and only now do things start to involve the world - humans and Luxen - rather than just the group of characters we've come to know. So many things are revealed in the first part of the book, and I have no idea how Armentrout is going to answer all the questions that crop up from Origin in Opposition. So much wow. And Daedalus are truly sick and twisted, and oh my god, I cannot believe the things they're doing! Though, at the same time, I kind of can, from their point of view, with context, it kind of makes sense, but still!
The second half of the book goes to a whole new level. So much action, so many consequences. I have never read anything quite like it, accept maybe in Harry Potter - not that the two are alike in anyway, I'm just talking the scale of the action. With how this book ends, I'm just absolutely flabbergasted. Things just got real. Really, really real. In a big way. Huge! It has me seriously excited, so very anxious - for the characters and what will happen, but also about whether I'll get satisfactory answers my questions - and sad that the series is going to end so soon. It feels soon for me.
I did have a problem with the book though. I got a bit bored with the epicness of Daemon and Katy's love. It's beautiful and it's hot, of course, but it gets a bit wearing after a while. Every move, breath, word, causes a reaction in the other that is described... too often. Yes they're in love, they're crazy about each other and they turn each other on, but not every single detail needs a corresponding reaction that needs to be poetically described. I think I now kind of prefer it when they're not all lusty and are just in danger. Thankfully, because of the situation they're in, this doesn't happen too many times in the book, so doesn't detract too much from the awesome of the whole thing.
An absolutely incredible book, and I am so, so eager to read the next book! Which I now have, but might wait a while to read. Want to keep this series from ending as long as possible. An awesome story, if you loved the first three, you're going to be in awe of Origin!...more
Oh my god, this series! I know I was a little disappointed with The Fiery Heart, but Silver Shadows more thaOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Oh my god, this series! I know I was a little disappointed with The Fiery Heart, but Silver Shadows more than makes up for it. And I've come to realise that we need the romance heavy The Fiery Heart to get Sydney and Adrian's romance and understand it's development, so we can be rooting for them in Silver Shadows. This book is incredible!
There's no way I can really sumarise this book in any way that's better than or equal to the blurb above. So much happens in this book, and it would be incredibly easy to spoil certain things by trying to summarise it, so I'll pass on that this time round. But god, this book is pretty much all tension. Sydney's life in re-education is hell. The extent to which the Alchemists will go to "fix" those who have "sullied their souls" is disgusting. It's practically torture. As long as you're going along with everything they say and do all they tell you to do, things are pretty much ok - but their opinion of what is right is so out of bounds, that you would have to swallow your morals and beliefs, your urge to correct them for their disgusting views, all the time just to get by. And that doesn't always happen. Sydney is so awesome though, because she is so strong. She may play along at times, but she always keeps in mind that she's doing this to get to Adrian sooner. And she does what she can to learn about the facility and how she might escape, and she tries her utmost to help the others there - despite it being encouraged to shun other detainees who have slipped up.
Adrian is at his wits end. He is trying and trying to reach Sydney in his dreams, but it's just not happening, and all other things he's tried have fallen trhough. He doesn't know what else he can do. He's in the deepest, darkest pit of despair, and using Spirit so much is taking it's toll. He goes back to alcohol in a big way, and the voice he hears of his Aunt Tatiana just gets louder. But when a small glimmer of hope, some way to possibly help, is discovered, Adrian's determination is incredible. I'm not sure I've read a book with a male perspective where the guy is more fiercely loyal about doing all that must be done to save the one he loves. Adrian in this book just took my breath away, especially considering all his other issues.
Thinking back over everything that happens in the book, it's hard to believe it's only 380 pages long! Seriously, I've barely touched the surface. I was wound up so tightly the whole way through, desperate to know how things were going to turn out! To say it's action-packed wouldn't be quite true, it's not full of fighting, but there is always something happening. Some plot, some scheme, or some new torture from the Alchemists to discover. There is no let up with this book! Then last 100 pages or so kind of feel completely separate to the rest of the book in that it's so far removed from what happens earlier. As I said, it's surprising how short this book is considering all it fits in! And it's all so terribly exciting! And the ending! Oh my god, oh my god! I have a theory already. But life is not going to be easy for everyone after the events of this book, so I'm pretty sure the next book, The Ruby Circle, which will also be the last in the series (gone by so fast!) is going to be explosive!...more
I absolutely love this series, and so was incredibly eager to read Sacrifice,and jumped on NetGalley straightOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase
I absolutely love this series, and so was incredibly eager to read Sacrifice,and jumped on NetGalley straight away once I discovered it was available to review with such excitement! So it's with a heavy heart that I have to say, now I've finished Sacrifice, I have mixed feelings.
With the Guides are still after the Merrick brothers, they're almost sitting ducks, waiting for the next attack. Tensions are running high, and Michael Merrick is feeling the pressure to keep his family safe. When all the houses in their neighbourhood are burnt to a crisp, and Michael is suspected as having a part to play in the fires - by none other than Marshal Faulkner, the father of his girlfriend, Hannah - he knows the Guides are more than serious this time, and he could lose everything...
I'm going to start with the positives. Sacrifice has everything that makes this series; it's the perfect blend of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and contemporary. Although there is a focus in Sacrifice on the romance between Michael and Hannah, like there is a focus in the others, also like the others, the romance isn't the dominating factor. There's still a real fantasy and danger element (ha!), and set off with real contemporary topics, as in each book. It's fantasy that deals with real life issues in an honest, realistic way. It's something I've always admired about these books; sure, these are stories about guys who have abilities to control the elements, but there's always something very human and relatable in these stories, too. Not only do they make the stories feel more credible, but they also touch on really important subjects without shoving them down your throat and feeling too preachy and/or depressing. In Sacrifice, the issues covered are the responsibilities of protecting and raising a family, and the pressure that comes with it, the effect of teenage pregnancy has on you even when you're an adult, and, as always, family dynamics and the problems of miscommunication. Each of these topics is dealt with so well, you could take all the fanatasy elements out and you would still have a story. Brigid Kemmerer writes with such compassion, too, even when the characters are going through a hard or tough time, it's still beautiful.
Sacrifice is still full of the danger and excitement we have come to expect from the Elemental series. It's really amped up in Sacrifice, though, and I think it might be the most violent of the series! There are so many on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments, and ohmygosh, the tension and the excitment are just through the roof! Also, as this is Michael's book and he's 23, Sacrifice is technically a New Adult novel. Hurrah for a paranormal romance/urban fantasy New Adult novel that's not full of sex! I'd say it's cross over still; the character's age and postion in the family are the only thing that feels all that different from the other novels in the series, but it's not inappropriate for a YA audience or anything. It's what I want to see more of in New Adult! Less sex, more life.
I couldn't help getting a thrill when I read the name of a couple who are neighbours of the Merricks! Quite a while back, Kemmerer was asking for suggestions for surnames to give to people in Sacrifice, and I suggested my own surname - Stapley. She chose it! There are Stapleys in Sacrifice! Their names come up once, but it's so awesome! You would not believe my grin!
And now on to the part I'm not going to enjoy writing so much. This is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. I love this series. I have been pushing the Merrick brothers on whoever would listen to me. I tried a few times to contact publishers to get the books published over here in the UK. I seriously love these books. And I'm such a huge fan of Kemmerer! I genuinely feel terrible for having to write this next part of my review, but for the sake of my blog and my integrity, I have to be honest. And I did have some problems with Sacrifice.
For the end of a series, I feel a little disappointed. I'm still left with questions. Although in some ways it's written in a way to say the story has ended, it's not all wrapped up.Not enough for me. I have questions about events in this book - about the Guide - that just weren't answered. Lots of questions that start with "how". This is an eProof, so perhaps they will be covered before the finished copies are released - at least I hope so. Otherwise... I don't understand why these questions aren't answered when there won't be another book. I really don't think I missed anything in my reading, but I do have so many questions. I can't even begin to hint at what they are without spoiling the story.
Also, there was something big that happened in Sacrifice that I would have expected to have more page time. For one thing, I didn't know it could happen, but then it does, and things move on quite quickly. It's a big deal, and involves a major character, but there's no time to fully process it. It didn't hit me until later. There's a prime opportunity for us readers to process what's happened, but it takes place off page, so we don't get that either. It's a real shock to the system and to have the book end abruptly without us really having the chance to accept what's happened - because I was half convinced it would be a twist, it would turn out everyone else got it wrong - felt really unfair. Really unfair. I really can't get past the fact that this thing happened, and feels brushed over.
Finally, I really didn't think the book was going to finish where it did. It seems to end really suddenly. I didn't realise Sacrifice comes with the three Elemental novellas, so I it looked like there was more to come, and it's what I expected. I reached 66% expecting there to still be 44% to come. I wasn't surprised by how much was left when getting close to 66% - though I now know the end was coming - because of all the questions I had. And then it ended. And really, considering it's the last book, I would have wanted more of the other Merrick brothers too. I think they may have been in this book less than the others.
This series doesn't feel finished to me. Although it's ended, and there was a conclusion of sorts, there are still too many questions, too much that wasn't explained, and it just doesn't feel like the end. If there were more books to come, I wouldn't have a problem with Sacrifice, but knowing it's the last one... I really feel it missed out a lot. Still, I'm a huge fan of Kemmerer's, and will continue to read what she writes. I'll just hope for a better ending.
Thank you to Kensington Books via NetGalley for the review copy....more
I have been so eagerly awaiting the final book in the series, and now it's here! I absolutely couldn't waitOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I have been so eagerly awaiting the final book in the series, and now it's here! I absolutely couldn't wait to read it, but I was so sad that the trilogy would be ending! But I'm so pleased to say it's the most perfect ending to the most perfect trilogy!
Jael has gone through the portal with his horde of Dominion, and with the assistance of Razgut, has the people of Earth believing their angels sent by God to prepare them for and help them with the apocalypse. To help them, Earth needs to have over it's weapons. There is no way Jael can get ahold of guns, he will wipe out Misbegotten and chimaera to extinction. Despite the lack of trust, Akiva and Karou have joined seraphim and chimaera in a tentative, unlikely alliance now they have a common enemy - Jael and his seraphim army. But is the peace they so desperately want possible when each side wants the other's blood? Will Karou and Akiva find their way back to each other? Who will survive when the very sky is attacked?
Oh my god, so much happens in this book! Yet I should have been expecting it, considering the previous two books. But it's SO, so good! Such an incredible novel that I don't even know where to begin!
Seeing the chimaera and seraphim together was just amazing, despite the issues they have. It's the only way there's any possible chance Jael can be defeated, and necessary, but you can't read the beginning of their alliance without being so full of hope that Akiva and Karou's dream - that was born in the Requiem grove back when Karou was Madrigal - of peace between the two species can be found. You're so desperately hoping as you read, despite the terrible things that occur, not just for chimaera and seraphim, not just for Akiva and Karou, but for Ziri. The amazing, self-sacrificing beautiful soul that is Ziri, who has given up his life and his body to inhabit the body of Thiago. A body, a person he cannot stand. A person he has to constantly pretend to be, to act like. Create change, bring about the starting of what could be real peace between the two species, but without giving the game away that Thiago is not himself. The power and viciousness, the actions and words he has to do and say... he hates absolutely every second of it. The only thing that keeps him going is Karou, knowing who he is, knowing what he's going through. I felt so desperately sad for Ziri and the position he's found himself in. He did it for Karou, to save her life, and now to save the people of Eretz, but his selflessness doesn't come without such a dreadful price.
Akiva and Karou... quite possibly the most romantic couple I have read in YA fiction, ever. There's is such an epic love story, not just in their struggle and the obstacles in their path, but because of Taylor's incredible writing. Taylor easily captures the passion and longing, the heartache and despair that the two characters can communicate with just one look. With just a look, you're brimming over awe at their love and desperation that they find a way. Just a look - and so much more goes on between those two! Taylor can take emotion and describe it in a way that is so beautiful, but so real! There were certain passages I would read over because of the beauty of the language, the beauty of the moment, and something inside me declaring, "Yes! This is love! This. Is. Love!" It seems too small a word to consider Akiva and Karou's personal aspect of the story "romance". It's not romance. It's the whole world, the whole point; the power that fuels the hope, the dream. It's epic. It's perfect.
I have to mention Zuzanna and Mik. I love them. I think everyone probably loves them. They bring such light to what is mostly a dark series. Humour, but also such loyalty and faith and willingness to do whatever they can. These two play a bit more of a role in this book, and they really shine. They have got to be my favourite secondary characters of any book. Such courage, such love. They're just wonderful.
And then we have the things I can't talk about in any great deal without spoiling the story. The incredible Eliza. The hugely powerful Stellians. The bruised sky. This book will have you guessing at every turn, and you will never get it right. Such an original, unique, unpredictable story. My heart was in my mouth more times than I can count, and it broke several times over. High stakes, so much danger, more emotion than you can shake a stick at, and the most incredible ending I've ever read.
The story that started in Daughter of Smoke and Bone comes to a complete conclusion in Dreams of Gods and Monsters. But Taylor has laid down the possibility of a further trilogy/series. There is so much scope for these worlds, so much yet to do and discover. It would disappoint me no end if the trilogy ends like it did, and we don't see any more of these characters. There's more story, a new story, to tell. And I sincerely hope Taylor shares it with us.
Quite possibly the best trilogy I've ever read. If you're waiting on Dreams of Gods and Monsters, you have such a thrilling ride ahead!
Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for the review copy....more
I am such a huge fan of this series, I was so excited to read Daylighters, but I really wasn't looking forwaOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I am such a huge fan of this series, I was so excited to read Daylighters, but I really wasn't looking forward to the end of the series. The Morganville Vampires series is one of my favourite series, and so reading Daylighters was pretty bittersweet. And sadly, it wasn't my favourite story.
Morganville has been taken over by the Daylight Foundation, an organisation set of bring peace to those who have been terrorised by vampires. The vampires have been forced into an enclave, and the residents are feeling safe. The houses have had a make-over, people are no longer rushing home when they're out, and everyone is happy to have the vampires off the streets. This is the Morganville Claire comes home to, and she and her friends are split up humans and vampires - Claire, Shane and Eve, and Oliver, Myrnin, Jesse, and Michael. The Daylighters seem to think they can help the vampires as well as the humans, but there's something not quite right about head Daylighter, Fallon. Now Claire must do all she can to free her friends - but is that the right thing to do, when the humans are finally no longer scared?
As I said, I was so looking forward to this story, and the idea behind it was just awesome! Fallon was incredibly creepy with his normal, nice manner, having such bad ideas - for the good of the people! - and seeming to make sense. I loved Claire's moral dilemma with trying to work out what she should do. These are her friends and they are locked up. But these friends are vampires, and have caused so many problems for years. If she helps them to get out, she'll be condemning the humans back to a life of fear. Yet her friends have no freedom. What's the right thing to do?
There was a lot of potential for this story to get crazy dangerous, like other books in the series. I was waiting for it, eager for it... but it never really happened. There was tension all the way through, but things never seemed to get too bad. They headed in that direction, but then things seemed to conveniently work out. That really bugged me, so much. The way the story was going, you knew beforehand just how conveniently things were going to go before they happened. One of the things I loved most about this series was how unpredictable it was, but not so much with Daylighters. And there were several characters who just seemed to be left in the middle of things. Shane, Amelie, Myrnin - things happened with them, but we didn't find out until much later what the outcome of those things were.
Claire was on her own for most of this book, or skipping from being with one character to the next, and mostly everything that went right was her own doing (hurrah for character development and Claire finally being able to save others on her own, when she could barely save herself against Monica in Glass Houses - is that the point? She does it all in the final book?), and I really missed the other characters so much. It's the last book, and they weren't in it all that much. Monica got what I can only call a brief cameo. Monica. Michael was locked up, and Shane and Eve had their own things happening away from Claire. It was just weird. I really wanted to see my favourite four together kicking butt, and it never really happened.
All my issues are with this particular story though, not with the end of the series. Despite some rather awesome things that happened at the very end (which I would like to have seen in more detail!), it doesn't really feel like the end of the series. It didn't feel like a definitive ending, that there could never be another Morganville Vampires story. It's just the end of this story, and it felt very much like there could be more to come. Like it was decided there wouldn't be any more after this one, rather than making this specifically the very last book. But Caine says at the end of the book this is the very last one, so I find that kind of frustrating. I knew Daylighters would be the last book, but it doesn't feel like much of an end to me. There's no real closure for the series as a whole, I feel. Especially as I'm not going to see Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael again. I would have preferred a more closed door if there's no chance of there being more Morganville Vampires stories.
Overall, I'm kind of disappointed in this book. But there are all the others in the series that are awesome, and make up for this one. Just wish the series ended on a high rather than a low. Still worth a read if you like the series, despite the negatives - it still has all those awesome characters, after all.
Thank you to Allison and Busby for the review copy....more
I've heard so many good things about the various series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I decided it was aboutOriginally published on Once Upon a Bookcase
I've heard so many good things about the various series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I decided it was about time I gave her a go myself. I picked Obsidian because it had been raved about, it had a hot alien, and it the main character is a book blogger. Sold! And wow, this book is awesome!
Katy has moved to West Virginia with her Mum. It's the last place she wanted to go; she's not too keen on being the new girl in such a small town. She tries to make friends with her next door neighbours before school starts, and that's when she meets him. Daemon. The most arrogant, insulting - not to mention smoking hot - guy she has ever met. His sister, Dee, is adorable, and they become close friends. But Katy can't stand Daemon - yet can't help being drawn to him. When he stops time to save her life, she discovers a secret: he and Dee are aliens. Aliens with enemies. And he's just put a trace on her, alien mojo making her shine brighter than Times Square. Now the Arum are after her. So Katy now has to spend a whole lot more time around Daemon. What a bummer...
SO GOOD! Oh my god, it's ridiculous how good this book is! It's the first YA book I've read with actual aliens, and so it was quite a new idea for me. The fact that Katy - Kat - is a book blogger was just awesome! When she first starts questioning what's going on with Daemon and Dee, being a fan of paranormal novels, she goes to what she knows. It's hilarious when she asks Daemon if he's a vampire, and he replies with such derision that he is definitely not a vampire. But it's awesome, because she's thinking about what she's read, and what could possibly be happening, and it just makes the book feel so much more real. As a book blogger, you can't help thinking as you read, "She's like me! She reads! She blogs! SHE'S GOT AN ALIEN LIVING NEXT DOOR!" Of course, it's fiction, but it makes it all the more believable that maybe... just maybe us normal people could have something exciting waiting for us round the corner. I must be honest and say that sometimes, she does make book blogging sound a little ridiculous. Her obsession with her blog just seems over done to me. I love my blog, and I work hard at it. But I don't compare huge, terrible events to that time when I couldn't go to that book event. Nor do I act like an addict needing a hit when I'm unable to blog for a while. It was just a bit much sometimes. There isn't too much focus on the blogging though, overall, so I could forgive those moments for the general awesomeness of the book.
Daemon is just so awesome. I swear, when it comes to bad boys, I've not read a character that is as rude or insulting as Daemon. And yet... although he's a flirty guy and quite arrogant, you can tell his rudeness is all an act. He's fighting what he feels, and you can tell. Some of the things he does are really quite out of order, and there were times when I was thinking, "Oh my god, you did not just do that!" But really, underneath it all, he's a guy who loves his sister, and wants more than anything to keep her safe. Because those Arum will stop at nothing to steal their abilities and kill them, and Kat is putting them all in danger. And this has also got to be the steamiest YA novel I've read, and I'm not just talking sexual tension, although there is a lot of that! It doesn't go too far, but further than I was expecting.Seriously though, how a girl is supposed to resist Daemon Black, I just do not know.
The action in this book is phenomenal. Normally, when there are abilities involved, there's not much proper fighting that you're aware of, and some of the time, it's like that in this book. But there are other times when it does get really physical, and god, you wonder how on earth there could possibly be a sequel! Those Arum are quite a violent bunch. They're kind of scary.
There were times, at first, when Obsidian reminded me of Twilight. The hot guy who is aloof and rude, who tells you you shouldn't be near him, and yet is always there. The sister who is bubbly and friendly. The girl who hates your guts as soon as she lays eyes on you. And all of them sitting together in the cafeteria, in a school where they are held in awe, and yet avoided. Sound similar? At first I wondered if it was going to be a kind of Twilight spoof. Yet, as the story really gets going, they just seem like minor coincidences, because it ends up being really quite different. There is even a references to Twilight at one point, when Kat asks Daemon if he's all sparkly, and the disdain in his voice is just awesome!
Such an incredible book! I'm already reading Onyx, the second book in the Lux series, and it's awesome! I will definitely be reading more of Armentrout in the future. Unbelievably good!...more
As I said in my review of Obsidian, I bought this book when I was not far from the end of the previous book,Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
As I said in my review of Obsidian, I bought this book when I was not far from the end of the previous book, so I could dive right in when I was done. And dive I did. I have to say, Onyx is probably better than the last.
Starting a few days after Obsidian ends, Daemon has had a change of heart when it comes to Kat. He has decided he doesn't hate her, but wants to be with her. Kat isn't convinced what he feels is real, putting it down to the strange connection that was formed between them when he healed her. She fights his every attempt, and fights her own feelings, but Daemon won't be put off. Kat can't stay away from him though; with the strange connection came uncontrollable abilities, and she's moving things without thought.
Then Blake arrives at school and causes friction, sparking jealousy in Daemon when he shows an interest in Kat. But Blake is aware of her new abilities and can explain what's been happening. His help becomes paramount when people from the Department of Defense arrive and start poking their nose into things. She needs to be able to control her powers, so as not to draw the DOD's attention. To keep everyone safe.
But not everyone is safe. Because Kat has seen someone who is supposed to be dead. Being alive is scary news for them all. People have been lying, and danger is creeping nearer.
Oh my god, I love this series! Daemon can be a bit of an idiot, but for the most part, he's really trying in Onyx. He's finally succumbed to his feelings for Kat, and wants to be with her, but she simply doesn't believe it's real. He tries so hard to convince her, but she's so stubborn and just won't listen. Despite the few times control slips and they end up in each other's arms. Oh yes, the heat gets hotter! With the arrival of Blake, tension rises. Daemon doesn't trust him, and it's more than just jealousy. Seeing him so protective of Kat is just the most awesome thing; it's so sweet, and it's so obvious how he feels for her is genuine. He's like an avenging angel, exuding anger, on the edge of immense violence. It's perfect!
The action in this book is cranked right up. There are several times in this book when lives are at risk, and I can't count the number of times I was sitting on the edge of my seat, thinking, "ohmygodohmygodohmygod!" This is not a series where everyone is automatically safe, just because they're one of the predominant characters. Things go seriously bad in more than one occasion, and it hits you like a fist in the gut. It's fast paced and exhilarating. And yet, very emotional.
This is a very emotional book, and all emotions are heightened, because the danger is so real. It's not that people could potentially die, but if certain people find out about secrets that should stay hidden, then people will die. It won't be just the romance and the sexual tension that will keep you gripped, but the thriller aspect. You really don't know what's going to happen. The DOD are not predictable. Right along with the other characters, your fear, your hope, your sadness are all desperate. There are moments that are absolutely heartbreaking, and I was so full of overwhelming shock and anguish. And then there was the end, where adrenaline was running through me as I was reading the last few pages, unable to read fast enough, but so freaking scared and excited about what was to come. It was huge. There was so many huge moments in this book. And no-one, literally no-one is safe - you can't take it for granted that those you love will be there at the end of the series.
An absolutely incredible book! I am absolutely itching to get my hands on the third book and carry on with this story. Armentrout has definitely found herself a huge fan in me, and I am desperate to read everything she writes!...more
Having loved everything I've read previously that has Levithan's name attached to it, I dived in to InvisibiOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Having loved everything I've read previously that has Levithan's name attached to it, I dived in to Invisibility expecting to feel my usual awe and amazement. However, I have to say Invisibility disappointed me.
At first, before Stephen and Elizabeth start trying to find out the cause of Stephen's invisibility, the story wasn't too bad. There was some romance, there were the looks and some of the beautiful sentences from Levithan on love. It wasn't brilliant, but I could feel the potential. I wasn't as emotionally invested in the characters as much as I normally am. I guess I was expecting things more along the lines of Every Day, but once Millie showed up, the whole feel of the story changed and I enjoyed it a whole lot less.
I can't say exactly why, but once the story started digging into curses, discovering cursecasters and spellseekers, and Stephen's magical family history, the story lost me. Fantasy is usually my thing, but it all seemed a little over the top, and unbelievable to me. For example, some of the "terrible" things that curses can do, despite causing death, didn't seem that terrible. And it simply didn't interest me. And considering this is a stand alone novel, the way it ended was baffling.
I was expecting Levithan's awesome style, that tends to get me thinking and having minor epiphanies, to shine through. There are glimpses of it around the beginning of the book, but I think this particular plot hides it. There's so much going on, there isn't as much introspection as I'm used to in Levithan's novels.
Sadly, Invisibility wasn't really my cup of tea, which is a shame. However, please read other reviews before deciding not to read it. It may not have been for me, but you still might really enjoy it.
This edition was published in 2013, but I'm saying I read it in 2012 so it doesn't count towards the total of books I read this year, as I'm not rereaThis edition was published in 2013, but I'm saying I read it in 2012 so it doesn't count towards the total of books I read this year, as I'm not rereading it.
To read my review of the book here, of the UK hardback edition....more
You should all know by now that I am a huge fan of Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series, but I was even more eOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
You should all know by now that I am a huge fan of Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series, but I was even more eager to read Secret, especially after the revelation in Breathless about Nick's sexuality - and Kemmerer's guest post for my LGBTQ YA Month about Nick. I am so happy to say it's just as awesome as the others in the series, but also extremely powerful!
Nick has difficulty dealing with his sexuality. He is so worried that his brothers would turn against him if they found out, it stresses him out so much. He spends most of the book dreading them finding out anything, when he takes a break from thinking about Adam. Nick's relationship with Adam is cute, but in some ways, both guys are tentative. Adam is confident and completely comfortable with his sexuality, but he's had bad experiences with relationships in the past, and so he's a little wary. With Nick, he's never been with a guy in any way before Adam, and despite how much he likes him, it throws him off balance. What is he supposed to do? I wanted to give him a hug so much; he has such a lot going on in his head, and he just seems a completely different Nick from who we see in all the other books. He's insecure, and fear and doubt cloud him.
I have to say, I didn't like Adam as much as I did when reading Breathless. I can't say exactly what it is, he's not a bad guy, I just didn't really warm to him. It's kind of like having a friend who gets a boyfriend, and he's nice and all, and you're happy your friend is happy, but the guy just isn't your kind of person. It felt like that. So, romance wise, despite the intense and personal conversations they had together, I preferred reading about Quinn's romance.
Quinn has it tough. She has an unloving family with an alcoholic mother and druggie brother, both of whom are unbelievably abusive, physically as well as verbally. Quinn hasn't told anyone just how bad it gets, and is shouldering all her sorrow by herself, trying to protect herself and her younger brother from ending up in care. Instead she has to deal with what her family treats her, and it really affects how she sees herself. Her self-esteem is at zero. She practically think she's nothing, and clings to guys - when she's with them - for the attention they show her, but feels she has to "pay" for the help she gets when Tyler Morgan - yes, that Tyler - when he gives her a temporary opportunity to escape. You can't help but feel so sorry for Quinn, and so thankful for Tyler. He's just what she needs.
Though I did have such mixed feelings about Tyler. He really has a huge issue with the Merricks, and has done terrible things in the past to hurt them, to lead to the Guides turning up to kill them. There is hate there. And yet, with Quinn, he's just awesome. He won't take her crap, but forces her to take a look at herself and what's behind her constant attempts to get him in to bed. He's respectful, and really pretty sweet. Tyler is lovely, actually. It's a real struggle to sort your feelings out about him for most of the book. But he maks for interesting reading, he himself is a little complicated, and the romance is awesome!
After what happened in Spirit, when danger comes a-knocking in Secret, in the form of a Guide, well, my heart was in my mouth. Kemmerer really stepped it up in this book, and I had absolutely no idea what the outcome would be! Would they all survive? It was ridiculous how bad things got, in the best way! Pretty much thinking the whole time, "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, what's going to happen?!" So good, so scary, so awesome! And what it all means for the fifth book, Sacrifice... oooh, I so can't wait!
Kemmerer wrote an Afterword for Secret, speaking to her readers, to those who might be going through similar experiences as her characters, whether it's to do with sexuality, drugs, alcohol, or abuse. It was so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes. With her Afterword, it really hit home to me that Kemmerer is not just writing entertaining fiction, she's writing fiction that matters. Sure, there's some paranormal stuff going on, but there are real issues in these books, and you can feel how much she cares about such things. The Afterward is amazing, and even though I love the story, I feel like people should read this book simply for the Afterward, because I truly think that if her Afterward reaches the right person, then Kemmerer will have helped change someone's life. It's incredible to read how much she cares!
Kemmerer states in her guest post that she wasn't sure if she could pull off writing a gay character - well, she most definitely pulled it off! Secret is an absolutely fantastic book, and I cannot wait for Sacrifice! It's going to be awesome!
Thank you to Kensington Teen, via NetGalley, for the eProof....more