Fifteen-year old Lena is surrounded by people who genuinely love her. Together Lena, her brother Cole, father Brian and step-mother Allie are all a ti...moreFifteen-year old Lena is surrounded by people who genuinely love her. Together Lena, her brother Cole, father Brian and step-mother Allie are all a tight knit clan. Surfer boyfriend Kai is crazy for her and she's been best friends with him and Pem forever. But though her life may seem sun-kissed and perfect, Lena is not happy. Her dad won't allow her to surf, something which she yearns for more than anything in the world. As her birthday approaches, Lena must make a decision- should she continue to respect her father's wishes or learn to surf? It's a dangerous decision; one that will propel her into a different life with consequences that affect her whole future. For while love can exist in both worlds, sadly, Lena can not. So she must must search her heart and decide once and for all-where does she truly belong?
THE MERMAID'S MIRROR is a story about self-discovery, love, loss and healing. Much like the sea, the plot unfolds in a way that swells and ebbs when you least expect it. The California backdrop and surfing lessons added a great deal of enhancement to the story as well. When I was reading the book, I wanted to learn to surf alongside Lena so badly. L.K. Madigan did a great job capturing the freedom and thrill of surfing. The vivid imagery made the scenes within the ocean spring to life for me. I was right there with Lena, feeling the cool breeze on my face as if it were me riding the wave that first, thrilling time.
Lena was an engaging character, struggling with the good and bad sides that we all have. Her relationship with Kai was a bit one-sided though and tended to frustrate me. While I didn't always agree with Lena's choices, I could still understand and relate to her. It was also refreshing in a YA novel to have the parents on the scene and not used as props in the background (or completely out of the picture altogether). The family dynamics were actually the strongest aspect of the book for me. The way they supported one another, grieved and healed was beautifully written.
THE MERMAID'S MIRROR can essentially be divided into two parts: land and sea. The strongest section of the book for me was surprisingly that portion set solid on land. Once Lena became involved with the part of her life existing underwater, I felt like some of the suspense and mystery seeped out of the plot. Things also seemed to wrap up way too fast toward the end and I walked away without enough closure. I'd also love for Lena to meet up with Nix again - he was ripped away from me way too quickly. With that being said, it's important to note that the world L.K. Madigan crafted under sea was well written, simple and elegant. I enjoyed the merfolk culture; hearing their songs, learning their politics and survival rules. While completely different than humans, they were like us in many ways. I felt for Lena, the choices she was forced to make would've been difficult for anyone.
I hope that there is a sequel to THE MERMAID'S MIRROR. Such a large part of Lena's heart and soul belongs to the sea, I would think love would eventually lead her back again.(less)
Oh bleep! PARANORMALCY was fun, flirty and so addictive. The perfect blend of romance and action, Evie drew me in right from the start. With her trust...moreOh bleep! PARANORMALCY was fun, flirty and so addictive. The perfect blend of romance and action, Evie drew me in right from the start. With her trusty rhinestone-studded "Tasey", pink boots and zebra print dresses, this girl knew how to kick some serious butt. Child-eating hags, werewolves and pompous vampires--they've got nothing on Evie. Kiersten White has managed to infuse some new life into a genre completely oversaturating the market right now. She's built such a unique personality around Evie; the girl in awe of normal people, but lives among beings that are anything but normal.
The world building and book premise were unlike anything I've read in a long time. From mermaids with computer generated voice translators to fiery little gremlins to water dwelling spirits, there were so many fun paranormal oddities to encounter. The book constantly kept my attention with its depiction of life inside the IPCA; the government agency dedicated to bagging and tagging paranormals and making them useful members of society. At first, I started writing down Evie's smart little witticisms to quote in this review, but by the end, I had given up. There were just too many funny things Evie constantly said and did.
As someone who grew up in a government agency where her only friends were paranormals, Evie was bound to have a few quirks. I couldn't help but laugh with the way she watched her cheesy teenage soap operas and dreamed about going to high school like most people wish they'd win the lottery. When I really thought about it though, it was actually pretty sad with how lonely she was. When Lend came into her life (a certain paranormal hottie), he really changed everything for her. I loved the two of them together. But I have to say, it was Reth the faery who really stole the show. His intense personality was the perfect counter-balance for Lend's easy going manner and I loved watching Evie interact with both guys. I hope to see lots more of the both of them in the next book.
The cover is absolutely breathtaking, but can be a little misleading. I personally anticipated more of a dark, edgy read from the cover. And while there are some plot lines that do take a dark tone, I would say PARANORMALCY was more of light-hearted, rip-roaring roller coaster of a good time than a dark thriller. I'd highly recommend this book, especially to fans who enjoyed THE IRON KING by Julie Kagawa.
I can't wait for SUPERNATURALLY, due out in 2011.
Side Note: Even the chapter titles are witty—my personal favorite being: "Dumbells, Boys and Other Dense Things" How cute is that?(less)
“His silvery eyes glinted like animal eyes, like a fox in a hen house.”
“If this were a gothic novel,” he drawled. “There would be ghosts and vampires,...more“His silvery eyes glinted like animal eyes, like a fox in a hen house.”
“If this were a gothic novel,” he drawled. “There would be ghosts and vampires, and you would be afraid.”
She thought of the books she read late at night in the library, sensationalist novels like Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho and Burger’s Lenore, all fraught with villains and undead creatures who roamed the nights with insatiable appetites.
“Don’t be silly,” she laughed. “I don’t believe in vampires.” – page 7 ARC version
BLOOD FEUD, the second installment in the Drake Chronicles, reunites us with the characters from its predecessor HEARTS AT STAKE. While HEARTS AT STAKE took off at a break-neck pace for me--causing me to devour it in one sitting, BLOOD FEUD didn’t quite capture my interest in that exact same way. For one thing, I found the romance between Logan and Isabeau a little lackluster. While great attention was given to Isabeau's character, I felt like Logan’s was left a little under-developed. The only thing I really knew about him was that he liked wearing old-fashioned pirate shirts. Although my favorite characters from the first book made appearances in BLOOD FEUD, they were sporadic at best. It was hard to see them pushed to the sidelines and I found myself really missing their entertaining personalities.
Isabeau St. Croix, however, was a fascinating addition to this series. Alyxandra Harvey really did a great job bringing her character to life with well-written, heart-breaking flashbacks of Isabeau’s life during the French Revolution. I respected and admired Isabeau. She was a warrior, vampire and classy woman all rolled into one. Magic and mystery practically oozed out of her pores. The flashbacks of her life prior to becoming a vampire were the most vivid chapters of BLOOD FEUD and I found myself looking forward to when the next one would be revealed. I also enjoyed the elements of ancient magic blended into the narrative, especially concerning the Cwn Mamau vampires--their connection with animal companions like Charlemagne, mystical elements of their training and their vampire politics
Overall, I thought BLOOD FEUD maintained a well-written plot line with great action and that same sense of snarky humor Harvey exhibited with HEARTS AT STAKE.
The next book in this series is OUT FOR BLOOD, releasing in November 2010. It will be told from the point of a view of a Helios-Ra vampire hunting agent; something which promises a fresh spin to the series and some bold, exciting new conflict!(less)
Quick & Dirty Book Review: The first book in this delightful series, Demon Princess: Reign or Shine was a light-hearted, hilarious novel with an in...moreQuick & Dirty Book Review: The first book in this delightful series, Demon Princess: Reign or Shine was a light-hearted, hilarious novel with an intriguing storyline, compelling protagonist and a whole of demon butt-kicking action. In my opinion, Demon Princess: Reign Check surpassed its predecessor. With an exciting romantic triangle and profound writing dealing with deep issues of death, choices and the consequences of our actions, Reign Check has become my favorite book within the series. Michelle Rowen has crafted a thrilling world full of demons, faeries, dragons, slayers and much, much more.
"Act normal, I told myself as I pushed through the front doors of Erin Heights High School. Everything's going to be just fine.
Unfortunately that thought lasted exactly thirty seconds."
“I was either going to burst into tears or go into a rage. I hadn't decided yet. But the fury I was feeling coursed through my body, and I felt myself start to change into my Darkling form again- this time under my own power, so it didn't hurt as much.
Her eyes grew large with alarm. "What are you doing?"
Have you heard about the prophecy?" I asked her. "The one that says I just might be the one that will bring about the destruction of pretty much everything and everyone?"
She swallowed. "I thought you said there might be another Darkling it applies to."
I fisted my hands at my sides. "Maybe I was wrong." -page 230
Nikki Donovan is hell bent on having a regular teenage life. She's back in the human world now, having fought her demonic aunt and saved the King of the Shadowlands from an agonizing death. As Nikki adjusts back to the life of a normal high school student, things seem to be back to normal. That is until Rhys, the teenage faery king comes waltzing into school and flips her entire world upside down. Now instead of worrying about little things like those pesky demon horns popping up when she gets angry, Nikki's got to convince Rhys she's not going to destroy the world despite the latest prophecy he insists is about her. Throw in the shocker that her best friend is in training to be Buffy-the-demon-slayer and ex-boyfriend Chris is mighty suspicious about her secret demon side, everything quickly goes straight to hell. Except in Nikki's case, that's more than just an expression. As news of the prophecy begins to spread, Nikki gets called to the Underworld to face a frightening demon council. This time, it will take all her wits, a little bit of power and the magic of the boy who loves her if there's any hope of making it out of the Underworld alive.
Michelle Rowen has a way of infusing so much warmth and humor into her heroines that you can't help but root for them and immediately be on their side. Nikki is an average teenage girl, just trying to make sense of her life. She isn't perfect. She has insecurities like we all do. But she also has tremendous strength, a lot of heart, and a hilarious sense of humor that makes this series really shine. Nikki impressed me with how determined she was to help Michael from not being treated as a second-class citizen and how she put her life on the line in the Underworld to do the right thing for him, knowing full well that every moment she lingered there, she ran the risk of ending up in the same boat as he was. I also loved that despite the fact that she was terrified at times (who wouldn't be), she never fell to pieces and still managed to make light of things with some really hilarious inner monologues and witty one-liners.
The romantic triangle between Michael, Nikki and Rhys was intriguing, and added some extra tension to the book. Rhys was the complete opposite of Michael. He was moody, dangerous and downright rude to Nikki, but their interactions really intrigued me. When he opened up to her and showed some depth and sensitivity, I began to see why she would be drawn to him. Michael was extremely lovable and the type of guy every girl dreams about—brooding good looks, strong, sensitive and willing to do anything to protect the woman he loved. I think should the series continue, it will be interesting to see who Nikki ends up with. Both guys have a lot to offer in their own ways.
The Demon Princess series was a real delight to read and I truly hope that this series gets another book. There are so many open-ended story lines I would love to explore including characters like Melinda and her demon slaying activities, Kassandra, Nikki's Underworld friend (sort of), or Chris, the ex boyfriend who has an interesting "gift". I'm also fascinated by what really goes on in the faery realm and would like to learn more about its inner workings. The Underworld itself, with its ever changing scenery, frightening creatures and harsh laws was also fascinating to me. I love how Michelle Rowen has created all these different worlds instead of one set land known as "hell". It keeps things mysterious and seems even more dangerous. With so many power players, things are fated to never be peaceful for long. I'm sure whatever Rowen cooks up will keep the series rolling with her trademark brand of humor, romance and action.(less)
BANISHED centers around Hailey Tarbell, a small-town girl from the wrong side of the tracks who discovers she's heir to an ancient legacy and all the...moreBANISHED centers around Hailey Tarbell, a small-town girl from the wrong side of the tracks who discovers she's heir to an ancient legacy and all the power that it brings. Though she has an amazing gift, Hailey's life is anything but. She lives with her cruel grandmother--a woman who sells drugs to make ends meet and neglects Chub, a cast-off child in dire need of serious developmental therapy. When a stranger comes along and offers Hailey a way out, Hailey's life changes in ways that she never imagined. But how much will she have to suffer before her and Chub can ever really be free?
The strongest component of BANISHED was learning about origins of Hailey's healing gift and how it could be traced back centuries ago to a tiny village in Ireland. Using the gift of healing to help save people in pain appealed to me and is what essentially kept me reading on. Like all magic, the power had a dark side and a light side. I loved how in Hailey's world, there were consequences for using magic. There were those that chose to use it for good purposes, and others who allowed it to twist and corrupt them into a shell of who they were really meant to be. Sometimes people had good intentions about using their powers, but did something they knew was against the rules, and paid for it dearly. I was fascinated by this aspect of the book and would've loved to have explored it in even more detail if time had allowed.
Since Hailey's grandmother spent her days smoking, drinking and watching day-time television, it was up to Hailey to be the "adult". Hailey cooked, cleaned and tried to take care of her foster brother as best as she could. With all that on her plate, you'd think she'd have some shred of light in her life. But Hailey had no friends, no boyfriend – even the strange kids didn't want anything to do with her. So many people would've given up and become part of the cycle of poverty and despair—the same cycle Hailey saw every day at school and within her community. But she was strong minded and determined to make a better life for herself. I admired her character. Sophie Littlefield did a tremendous job finding Hailey's voice.
The seedy aspects of Hailey's life—the druggie customers coming to the house trying to paw all over her and her disgusting grandmother were more than a little disturbing for me. I almost stopped reading at one point when a certain "plan" of her grandmother's was revealed. I don't want to give away any of the plot line by going into detail, but it was very unsettling to say the least.
BANISHED was a complex, dark urban fantasy about survival, dark magic and the power of redemption. While I can see its appeal to certain groups of readers, I'm sad to say it wasn't the perfect fit for me. I personally didn't care for the zombie element that evolved nor did I appreciate some of the more gruesome moments, particularly a painful situation involving a dog.
With that being said, I believe BANISHED will find a market out there and many people who will enjoy it. Sophie Littlefield is a strong writer—her depictions of Hailey's home life and her characterization were stellar. I would definitely check out her future novels even though BANISHED wasn't a knock out of the park for me. (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)
"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)