“I can't last much longer. It's been one week, three days and I can't remember how many hours. ”
“Whatever. I've earned this. I'll be careful. I've been a good little girl for long enough. It's easy to transform again, I'm so giddy with the lingering magic. Back to girl I go. I climb through the window and onto the roof. Naked, I curl my bare toes around shingles and grin nervously in the moonlight. I hope nobody's awake.
Wind tosses my curls. I clench my hands and stir the magic inside me. Power boils through my veins, dizzying me. Concentrate. The night snaps into sharper focus. I jump. My arms, my wings, strain upward. Feathers unfurl from my skin. My plummet curves into a swoop, and I tuck my talons beneath my body.
From girl to great horned owl in about a second. Pretty good, huh?” -Page 3
What is a pooka you ask? According to Gwen's old textbooks, pookas were described as mythical creatures that "show up as a dark horse with glowing golden eyes, stalking travelers on murky nights, inviting them on wild rides, throwing them into bogs, over cliffs"…you get the picture right?
The world building of OTHER ended up being the strongest component for me. It was intriguing to immerse myself into a novel with leprechauns, dryads, water sprites and pookas. Most seemed to want to live quiet lives in normal towns, even though they were not-so-normal people. I also appreciated the issues of tolerance and prejudice that the "Others" had to deal with, particularly the werewolves of Winema's pack who were literally forced out of Canada before settling outside of Gwen's town. The scene when Gwen met Winema was well written and the wolf pups nearly broke my heart. Just like in any society, some Others were regarded as a higher class and certain Others, like vampires and werewolves were viewed with fear and hatred. I found that interesting and was intrigued by the class distinctions, as well as the unique magical abilities of the Others themselves.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time really connecting to Gwen. I also thought the pacing was rather slow, especially in the beginning. I knew straightaway who the killer would target next, and that predictability took away a lot of the emotional punch when that event occurred down the line. However, when Gwen began interacting with Tavian, a Japanese fox kitsune spirit (how cool is that?), I thought the pacing accelerated and I began to appreciate Gwen a lot more. She proved herself to be a loyal friend and showed tremendous courage when it came to solving the the murders.
An unusual mix of magic and mystery, OTHER was chocked full of interesting characters and an intriguing plot line. Though slow to start, it is a series with a lot of potential. The next book entitled BLOODBORN releases in 2011.
*SIDE NOTE: I was in Ireland a few months back and went to a dinner hosted by a professional folklorist called "Food, Folklore & Fairies". I remember him referencing pookas as they related to 18th century peasant life. He joked that men would blame the pooka as the reason why they were coming home late from the local pubs. The man would tell his wife, "I left the pub with every intention of coming home to you but that "darn pooka" got me—it's not my fault." (Apparently pookas seemed to have had an affinity for waiting for intoxicated men to exit pubs, only to sidle under their legs as they stumbled drunkenly about. The men would then proclaim the last thing they remembered was being taken on a wild ride through the night and then thrown off the back of the pooka into a ditch! I wonder if that excuse really worked?)(less)
"I don't want to be alone tonight, " Grace said. Something in my heart twinged. I closed my eyes for a moment and opened them again. I thought about...more "I don't want to be alone tonight, " Grace said. Something in my heart twinged. I closed my eyes for a moment and opened them again. I thought about sneaking over myself; I thought about telling her to sneak out. I imagined lying in my bedroom beneath my paper cranes, with the warm shape of her tucked against me, not having to worry about hiding in the morning, just having her with me on our terms and I ached and ached some more with the force of wanting it. I echoed, "I miss you, too."- page 148 ARC version
Like Sam's introspective, emotional lyrics, the love story in Linger flows with a melody all of it's own. As the book begins, we find that Sam is still mending, torn between conflicting loyalties to the pack and with his own desire to lead a normal life with Grace. He wants to plan for the future, but he's afraid of dark history and new found responsibilities inherited from Beck.
Maggie Stiefvater writes with such intensity and beauty, it often takes my breath away. Sam Roth, the boy with the eyes of a wolf but the heart of a lamb is so special to me. It always amazes me just how much love Sam is capable of. Especially when you consider all the pain he's had to endure in his short life. I appreciated how Maggie Stiefvater chose to unfold the narrative through the four alternating viewpoints. In addition to Sam and Grace, this time around there was tortured rock star Cole and the multi-layered Isabel. A lot of authors would've left the reader confused by using so many different point of views, but in my opinion, Stiefvater pulled it off. I loved how each character's viewpoint seemed to overlap with the previous one, giving us a fresh perspective on the events of a prior scene. I thought it was a smart move not to center the book solely around Sam and Grace's romance. Their passion for one another is so all encompassing, it would've become stifling for the reader.
The plot of Linger is impossibly complex. The first line of the prologue reads, "This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one." But it's also about so much more. Cole's situation was the most riveting for me. Here's a person so desperate to escape the pain of his human life, that he'd happily stay a wolf forever if he could only make it happen. I was riveted by Cole's volatility; you never knew what he was going to do next. He always surprised me though, and at times when I least expected it, he was even soulful. There was a painful scene involving a deer that still brings tears to my eyes to reflect upon. It haunted me as Cole haunted my thoughts for days after. I hope in the next installment he learns to find a greater sense of peace and hope for the future. I also enjoyed his relationship with Isabel. Who wouldn't be drawn to the idea of a suffering, rock star has-been and the only woman who can reach through to him? Isabel's grudging attraction to Cole, and the way she pushed Sam to act made me rally to her side more so than the last book. Grace, who has many less than stellar moments in my opinion, has never been one of my favorite characters. I detested her parents even more in Linger though; I thought they had no right to tell her what to do after so many years of ignoring her well being.
While the middle of Linger dragged for me a bit, the end left me reeling and desperate for a resolution. I can't wait to read the next installment, Forever. Grace and Sam balance one another out and the thought of them being separated is too painful to comprehend.(less)
"SHE KILLED HIM in the darkest part of the night, before the dew had settled on the grass.
It was easy. He came to the window when she'...moreBook Opening:
"SHE KILLED HIM in the darkest part of the night, before the dew had settled on the grass.
It was easy. He came to the window when she'd tapped her claws against it. It was exactly what she'd hoped he would do. Sliding up the square of glass. Sticking his head out to investigate. Like an idiot. Like prey.
One less moron in the world. She licked the blood off her mouth, the coarse whiskers sliding against her tongue." –Prologue
"Claire opened her mouth, reading to disagree, when something moved at the far end of the building. She blinked and wondered if the tree shadows were playing tricks on her eyes. The security light showed nothing but a bare expanse of concrete and a chain link fence.
But then, whatever was out there twitched again and a pair of yellow eyes flashed in the darkness."- Page 278
Some girls get a car on their sweet sixteen. Claire finds out that she's a werewolf. Not exactly a birthday wish come true, right?
CLAIRE DE LUNE by Christine Johnson introduces us to a different world. One where werewolves exist, but with a twist; it's a females-only club. Male werewolves have never existed. Women pass on the gene from one generation to the next, waiting until their daughter's sixteenth birthday (when the wolf begins manifesting) to induct them into the pack. While most werewolf novels have a strong alpha-male as the leader, in Claire's world they assume control based on intellect, not physical prowess.
This fresh take on werewolf lit set the stage for a story with a lot of potential for originality and character development. This time around it was girl saves boy; I couldn't wait to see what happened. While I will say CLAIRE DE LUNE turned out to be an enjoyable read, particularly with the themes of female empowerment, self-acceptance, family loyalty and courage, I found several aspects fall short of the mark.
For me, the book seemed more of a lighter coming-of-age story with a furry twist than the spine-tingling werewolf saga I had anticipated prior to reading it. While there were some great plot twists with the rogue killer on the loose, and red herrings thrown in to keep the reader guessing, the main focus of the book was first and foremost always about Claire's transformation. I had actually wanted to learn more about how the wolves evolved, how the "Goddess" became a focal point of their existence, etcetera. Granted, none of this was absolutely essential to the actual storyline, but it would've been fascinating and given more validity to the world building. The reader is actually never told how the wolves evolved or when they were first discovered by humans. I felt like I had missed something; I had been looking forward to delving deeper into their mythology and evolution. Unfortunately I never got to read about it.
Christine Johnson definitely excelled in constructing Claire's character. I felt sympathetic to her situation. Her mother dropped this huge bomb on her when she turned sixteen and I thought she did a poor job of helping her daughter assimilate. But the biggest problem was Matt, Claire's love interest and son to the villainous scientist hell-bent on destroying all werewolves. This made for some good tension and plot conflict. But I found Matthew and Claire's relationship to be a little too perfect. I often wondered if some sort of relationship drama might've spiced up their chemistry a bit more.
The plotting was pretty steady but did seem slow in some parts. Towards the end, it definitely picked up, and once the action unfolded, I became more interested in how things would play out. The book definitely ties up with a satisfying ending; one that has real potential for a sequel. While CLAIRE DE LUNE wasn't a massive standout for me within the werewolf lit genre, I think it will appeal to ardent werewolf lovers and paranormal romance fans. (less)
"Come out, come out, wherever you are, little one. No sense hiding from the Big Bad Wolf. I’ll always find you in the end…"
Fifteen-year-old Bryn reme...more"Come out, come out, wherever you are, little one. No sense hiding from the Big Bad Wolf. I’ll always find you in the end…"
Fifteen-year-old Bryn remembers little about her life before the Pack. But the rogue werewolf who slaughtered her parents still haunts her nightmares. Though Bryn has spent the last 11 years living in the Pack, she distances herself from the wolves—from their politics, their restrictive rules and their shared emotional Pack bond. When she meets Chase, a newly turned werewolf, Bryn's safe world tumbles down all around her. As new memories begin to bubble to the surface, Bryn realizes that until she uncovers the truth, she won't ever be able to move on. What really happened the night she was found? And why does it seem as if everyone is afraid of her uncovering the truth once and for all?
Jennifer Lynn Barnes infuses new life into the werewolf genre with this fast-paced, engrossing novel. With compelling characters and a well-written, unique take on wolves, this book is now officially my new favorite paranormal wolf saga. Headstrong and impulsive, Bryn was a fierce protagonist. I loved the way she let nothing stop her as she crusaded for the truth. The rules of the Pack fascinated me—the bonds, the laws, the instinctual reactions of the wolves — I devoured every last morsel and was still hungry for more.
RAISED BY WOLVES has a primal, almost feral feel to it. In order to survive among wolves, Bryn had to harden herself. She had to be strong. If she didn't rebel, if she didn't maintain her independence, she would've lost a part of who she really was to the conformity of the Pack. I admired Bryn; I knew right from the start she was a special girl and I couldn't wait to discover where her story would take me next. She underwent a lot of growth throughout the course of this book and I literally could not tear myself away from it. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. When I was reading it, I didn't want it to end. Though largely underdeveloped, I adored Chase as well. My only complaint was that the two were separated for most of the book. I was dying for more interaction from the two of them. Then again, the focus of the book was not romance. It was about Bryn's journey for answers.
Another character important to note was Ali, Bryn's surrogate mother. Ali was AMAZING. Even now, this character still lingers on in my memory. Ali was one tough-as-nails lady. Even after everything she had been through, she possessed tremendous strength. Though Bryn wasn't her real daughter, Ali loved her with a ferocious protectiveness that brought tears to my eyes.When the twins came along, I thought some of the most vivid, descriptive moments were in the depictions of Katie, thebaby wolf-girl who loved shifting into her puppy wolf form. I could just imagine her Baby Gap outfits ripping when she transformed into her wolf shape and I could practically feel her puppy breath upon my face. Katie was a character to instantly fall in love with and added so much extra to the narrative.
RAISED BY WOLVES was a thrilling, suspenseful saga of a young girl's struggle to live among werewolves without losing her true human identity. As you can surmise from my review, I thought this was a kick-butt, fiery novel that truly separated itself "from the Pack." I am most anxiously awaiting TRIAL BY FIRE, due out the summer of 2011.
I'd highly recommend RAISED BY WOLVES to paranormal fantasy fans, particular those of Patricia Briggs or Kelley Armstrong.(less)
"She knew every inch of the forest, every narrow path that twisted and wound its way beneath the silver branches. They never should hav...more Book Opening:
"She knew every inch of the forest, every narrow path that twisted and wound its way beneath the silver branches. They never should have found her. She should have been up and away long before the horses' scent came to her, and very long before the sound of men's whispering drifted to her ears. Through the trees or in them, even above them, she could have fled in an instant, or hidden herself so well that they could scour for days and never find her. "
"It had been an attack, of sorts, and people did fight who lived in castles like these. Not with fists and feet and claws, but with words and whispers and influence. Isabel couldn’t remember having been here before, but she knew. It was a fight, or rather a game, with many players and many rules and many strategies.
She smiled suddenly, feeling her blood pump through her veins. She didn’t know how, and she didn’t know why, but she was suddenly sure it was a game she knew how to play."- Page 14
In a faraway kingdom plagued with political unrest, there lies a forest. Enshrouded in mist, it is home to the Shifter, an immortal creature with legendary mystical capabilities and supernatural strength. Isabel is the Shifter. She doesn't remember her life before Prince Rokan rode into the Mistwood. But from the moment he places a delicate crystal bracelet upon her wrist, one thing and only one thing matters—protecting him at all costs. Soon, however, disturbing memories begin to resurface. What do they mean? Who is The Shifter? And who can Isabel really trust?
From the first paragraph, MISTWOOD kicks off with a blast and hits the ground running. Leah Cypess' depiction of Isabel was cleverly crafted. This is not a book that wastes time with long drawn out descriptions or large information dumps. Cypess chooses her words carefully to depict Isabel, devoting much time to paint a picture of a supernatural creature interacting with conniving royals. I enjoyed watching Isabel grapple with her inhuman-like thoughts and conflicting emotions. Her character constantly evolved throughout the book and I never quite knew what she was going to do next. I loved that she constantly kept me guessing, and so often my predictions were completely wrong. Not all the characters, however, were as sharply etched as Isabel. I found Prince Rokan to be a little dry. I never thought he was good enough for Isabel. Another character, which I really grew to care for, was killed off way too soon in my opinion.
There is no prequel and little time spent catching the reader up on the world building within MISTWOOD. I would've preferred a little more expansion on this, especially anything involving the mystical properties of the Mistwood itself. Because of the lack of insight into the world of The Shifter and her history with the royal family, a lot of the plot twists and turns were at times somewhat confusing. But I suppose, just as Isabel had to make her way with only her instincts to guide her, so must the reader. It definitely kept tensions running high and held my interest, though it was a bit confusing, especially in the beginning. But even with that being said, MISTWOOD never ceased to entertain me. The end of the book had an AMAZING twist I never would've guessed. It was poignant and well-written. Honestly the more I read MISTWOOD, the more captivated I became by Cypess' writing and the more it all began to come together and make perfect sense.
MISTWOOD is a novel where romance, political intrigue and danger lurk around every corner. It is a complex, beautifully written debut novel with a decided Arthurian flair; one that starts off strong and just keeps on getting better. I agree with the back cover; fans of Tamora Pearce and Kristin Cashore are sure to enjoy this admirable YA fantasy debut. Leah Cypess is an author to watch out for. It was definitely a great escape to jump into Cypess' intriguing world of magic and shapeshifting.(less)
The wolf deep inside Grace threatens to break free. Some say let it out, some urge her to control her dangerous dark side before it consumes her body...moreThe wolf deep inside Grace threatens to break free. Some say let it out, some urge her to control her dangerous dark side before it consumes her body and soul. Unsure of what is right and what is wrong, Grace does know one thing for sure- she won't sit around idle while her brother Jude is lost out in the world by himself. Swallowed up by an unforgiving city, she knows she must find Jude before it's too late. With her mother grief-stricken and her father constantly on the road, Grace decides to take matters into her own hands. She wants to train. She wants to fight. But when Daniel starts becoming secretive and pulling away from her, she begins turning to newcomer Talbot, a boy who urges her to surrender to the beast within. As darkness lurks around every corner and danger closes in, Grace must decide who she can trust - and most importantly, whether or not she can trust herself.
THE DARK DIVINE was one of my favorite novels last year and I knew if the sequel didn't live up to my high expectations, I'd be so disappointed. So with an anxious heart and somewhat shaky hand, I opened THE LOST SAINT and took a deep breath. In hindsight, I shouldn't have worried. Once again, Bree Despain's writing rocked my world. The sequel was just as good (if not better) than the first book in my opinion.
THE LOST SAINT was a darker read. More urban fantasy to me than paranormal romance, I reveled in the tension as Grace began training to take on all manner of devilry. I have to say she earned a whole new level of respect from me in this installment. I admired the way she refused to give up when everyone around her was falling apart. She proved she was a fighter, that she could take care of herself. I knew she was a strong character from the first book, but in THE LOST SAINT, Grace really kicked some serious butt! I also loved that there was so much turmoil with her and Daniel; it kept me constantly guessing. As the pages flew by, I had to know what was going to happen with two of them. Why was he turning away from her? Could she really trust the dangerous and oh-so-handsome Talbot? Ultimately I wanted Daniel and Grace together, but with the uncertainty of what Daniel was keeping from her, and the arrival of Talbot (picture a hunky young Alcide from True Blood), well, it all made for a delicious distraction.
I can't say too much about the storyline for fear of giving the plot away. But I will tell you I loved this book so much that I had to go ahead and pre-order a finished copy even though I had the ARC. I also want to mention the creatures of the night Bree Despain expanded on in this installment. It gave the book a gritty edge and added to the urgency of Grace's need to find Jude and bring him safely home. I also loved The Depot—the bar where Grace went to look for her brother—I could feel the vibration of the pounding base as Grace descended into the dangerous lair of the seedy nightclub. I could see her in her uncomfortable vinyl pants trying to blend in long enough to scope out the scene for Jude. I could feel my own heart racing when she met Talbot, befriended him and then subsequently went on raids with him, learning how to handle evil on her own terms.
The ending of THE LOST SAINT was heartbreaking. Many questions were answered, but so many more rose to take their place. The title of the book came into play, giving the book a parting, bittersweet touch. I can't wait to see what Bree Despain comes up next with with one of my favorite YA series of all time. (less)